Thursday, January 31, 2008

John Edwards' Message. . .













I'm sorry John Edwards dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for President.

Go ahead.

Take your best shot.

Blast him.

Chronicle all of the criticisms you want.

Parade out all of the stories, point out the inconsistencies as you see them, make fun of his haircuts and fire away at the size of his home.

Oh, and don't leave out the lawyer jokes!

I'll wait while you finish up with all of that. . . .

Done?

Here's my regret as I watched him standing there in New Orleans (have any of the other candidates from either major party even been there since the campaign got going?):

Edwards always pushed the issues of poverty to the forefront.

Always.

As in every single speech.

In every debate.

And it wasn't a matter of party or partisan commitments. Edwards forced everyone to at least look at the issues surrounding poverty in America.

I reget that this important emphasis may be lost to this campaign.

I hope and pray that it will not be, but I fear we lost a lot when he withdrew on Wednesday.

What do you think?

.

77 comments:

Daniel Gray said...

I had felt like Edwards was a long-shot this year, but still liked to see that he was sticking to his message. His presence in the race will be missed, but I'm still holding out for the possibility that he'll play a significant role in the next administration where his message can still be heard. I've heard rumors of him as attorney general or VP. And we know from our current VP that the position can still hold a lot of power. (He shot a man in the face! -- if that's not power, I don't know what is...)

Anonymous said...

As a VP for Clinton, Edwards would be President of the Senate and no more. Clinton is DLC to the core and won't countenance nagging populist talk in the core of her administration. I think she would pick someone else: maybe Wesley Clark (a sexist cave-in perhaps, but effective at dispelling doubts about a "woman general").

I'm persuaded that Obama is at least a little more populist than Clinton, so I think that he might let Edwards continue his message on the campaign trail as the VP candidate. He fits the traditional campaign role well: more partisan than Obama, more base-rallying. I don't know what influence he might have once elected.

He has a passion for issues associated with the departments of Labor, HUD, and HHS, but we've never had secretaries of those departments (or HEW) who were able to parlay their position into an ability to drive the public agenda.

It may be that the presidency is the only office he considers powerful enough to be worth pursuing given his wife's health.

With his voice now muted, we have to face our own local situations with renewed diligence.

Jeff W

belinda said...

John Edwards has been my choice since 2004. I truly believe he was the best chance we had to turn this country around. He seemed to be overshadowed by the prospect of the first woman or first african-american president. Truly, America's loss.

A Red Mind in a Blue State said...

What does the end of poverty look like?

John Edwards concluded his Presidential campaign yesterday, but not before securing pledges from Obama and Clinton that they would make the ending of poverty central to their presidential campaigns.

Regardless the road we choose to take, be it a conservative path or a liberal one-- at what point will we consider people out of poverty? Can somebody tell me. Not platitudes like "when every person is living in dignity and without fear" or some other claptrap. I can't measure that, and unless we figure out how to achieve some communistic land of perfection, where everyone is robotically equal, we will always have different strata in society. The poor will always be with us.

So, please somebody tell me-- What does the end of poverty look like?

Larry James said...

Red mind. . .here's my quick shot at an answer in very practical and positive terms recoginzing the economic equality is not at all the goal:

1) Availability of adequate, affordable housing (individual or family pays no more than 30% of income for housing that is decent, clean and safe).

2) Liveable wage--earnings that make #1 possible, but that also allows for an adequate diet, reliable transportation (could be public), access to health care and a medical home, solid public education opportunity and a pathway to higher education for those willing to work. The rub here may mean a tax system that cuts into the disparity gap that since 1960 has grown wildly to the benefit of a smaller and smaller % of the population at the expense of a growing underclass.

3) A fair and engaged public commitment to see a comprehensive policy of social uplift and protection every bit as serious as our military and our attempts to maintain national security, recognizing that overcoming the disparities is in fact a national security/health issue.

The details will differ with everyone who decides to answer. But, you don't have to be a genius to recognize that we are moving in the wrong direction and fast.

Robert Guest said...

"One America" was tired socialist rhetoric. But that is not what failed JE.

Democrats had basically three candidates with the same message. They could pick Bill's wife, the new exciting Obama, or JE. None of them offered any solutions beyond higher taxes, more government.

The War on Poverty, Great Society, have been going on for decades now. When exactly are these program supposed to start working?Why would JE's newer better socialism work better than LBJ's or Mao's?

Karen Shafer said...

I completely agree with your post, and enjoyed daniel gray, Jeff W and Belinda's comments.

John Edwards talked about poverty even before the 'Make Poverty History' campaign -- he gets it.

As to Red Mind's question: 'at what point will we consider people out of poverty?'

One small measure for me is when we don't have pregnant women living on the streets of Dallas -- when we have shelter and housing programs that accommodate them, regardless of circumstance. I know four pregnant women who are living on the street right now (and there are more); one is about to give birth to twins. A fifth just gave birth.

To those who doubt that we have a problem in this country, I invite you to meet me downtown any time and let me introduce you to them.

Anonymous said...

I resent the way he looks at his fellow citizens and sees failure and selfishness. He even said Jesus would be appalled, making himself the spokesman of Jesus.

Americans are the most giving people in the world. The entire world has a better living standard than it would otherwise, not to mention the billions we pay in taxes for the benefit of our own people.

Hey senator, have you ever heard of abortion? Have you heard of a culture, led by your side, that decides who lives or dies, based on the convenience of the living?

So senator, patron saint of stiff hair, hair spray and empty heads, I don't see any sacrifice from you. Words are not deeds, nor are they actions. In addition to what they aren't, they are also empty.

Justin said...

In a free society, you cannot force people to make decisions that keep them out of poverty.

You can grow the safety net to your hearts desire, continually taking more and more money from those who are often providing the jobs for the people you desire to help, and there will still be poor. There will still be people, who by choice, don't choose to work. There will still be people who abuse alcohol and drugs, destroying their families, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Spending other peoples money will never end poverty. Spending other peoples money will not keep cheap housing in good condition if those that live there don't appreciate it. Spending other peoples money will, however, eventually keep new jobs from being created, that we know helps the poor who desire to break that cycle of poverty. It will also create more and more class resentment from people, because their money is being forcibly taken from them to give to people, who while this is not always the case, occasionally have no incentive nor desire to fix their lot in life.

Government cannot fix poverty. It cannot fix war. Government can make those things worse, and we've seen that over the last 70 years since the depression caused by too much credit expansion, then the depression perpetuated by too much government spending, then Korea and Vietnam and the beginnings of welfare spending, which led to irresonsible credit expansion, which led to stagflation in the 70s... etc etc etc.

Our lives cannot get better through more government. They can only get better through less government and more radical christians living out the life of Jesus on a daily basis.

Daniel Gray said...

"In a free society, you cannot force people to make decisions that keep them out of poverty."

Justin, this sounds like you assume that poor people choose to be poor. While people do make bad decisions, no one WANTS to be poor. The poor want to work hard, earn a living themselves, and not be dependent on other people. Most of them (like any normal person) hate the idea of getting help from another person, but they have no choice. However, their bad choices are magnified and devastating because they are at the bottom where there is no support.

I had a relative with a drug problem a few years ago. If it weren't for the fact that his family had money and support systems to send him to an excellent rehab program, he'd be out on the streets (and probably in jail) like every other poor person with a drug problem. You can't tell me it's choices; it's money.

"Spending other peoples money will never end poverty. Spending other peoples money will not keep cheap housing in good condition if those that live there don't appreciate it."

Justin, I'm convinced you haven't seen a REAL housing initiative. Yes, the public housing from 30-40 years ago is atrocious and needs to be torn down. But I currently intern for a nonprofit that utilizes (oh no!) "government" low-income housing tax credits, to create mixed-income units. They've been doing this for over 35 years, and they've been doing a pretty incredible job of it. Even the first projects they did in St. Louis (30 years ago), are still incredible places to live. I almost lived in one, not even knowing it was mixed-income housing. You're making some really broad-reaching assumptions here that are completely unfounded. These projects (and similar ones that Larry is doing in Dallas) CANNOT be done without public-private partnerships.

You're repeating the same tired anti-government rhetoric on here, and frankly I'm sick of it. Rather than sitting on the sideline shooting down everything you see, get into the mix and talk about the issues/solutions. Come up with something better than "the market will fix everything". You think poor people are completely at fault for their choices? Then talk about ways to get involved in people's lives and encourage them to make better decisions.

No one is saying government is the savior of the world, but we all acknowledge government plays a role.

Larry James said...

I realize that this will be to my blog the equivalent of "a waste of breathe," but I will respond one more time.

In general, there is a complete misunderstanding of the "War on Poverty" era. While very short lived, the effort drove poverty stats down by 19% before the war in SE Asia meant it basically came to a halt. So, all the critics who simply dismiss the effort are historically inaccurate.

Then, if one takes a look at the federal budget and considers the %s spent on various sectors, it is clear that social services and programs of citizen uplift are way, way down the list in terms of who we spend our funds--both at home and around the world. As a % of our income, we are the bottom of developed nations. Welfare as critics here fear it is over and has been since 2001, basically after the first 5 years of the Clinton Welfare Reform plan.

Federal, state and local dollars for human and community development often flow through groups like CDM and, of course, other public bodies, like cities and states. No one in Texas is getting a free ride due to public support or investment.

Be against social services and "welfare," if you like. But don't unsult those of us who see what is being spent daily by saying the poor prove it doesn't work, as if they are getting lots of help from the government.

Again, I point readers back to Brian McLaren's new book, Everything Must Change. The last 100 pages of that book should be must reading for anyone who really cares to understand what is going on in our nation.

One last word about the "War on Poverty." Millions of elderly Americans were lifted and millions of minority kids were sent to college thanks to that effort.

This is all I'll say, except to encourage critics to make an attempt to be kind and decent.

Frank Bellizzi said...

I was sorry to see Edwards drop out, too.

This was, reportedly, Alexander Campbell's favorite joke. (And here I'm probably relying on oral tradition):

Two lawyers from the same office were traveling by coach to defend some indefensible nave. A third traveler, a very young man, boarded the coach. One of the lawyers introduced himself and asked him what he did.

"I'm a minister of the gospel, traveling to my next preaching point," he said.

The two lawyers looked at each other as if to say, "Let's have a little fun with this kid." So they began to ask their questions:

"Do preachers ever make mistakes, say something in a sermon they didn't mean to say?"

"Certainly," said the young man.

"Has that ever happened to you?" asked the other attorney.

"A few times."

"And what do you do when you realize that something you just said was a mistake?"

"It depends."

"Depends on what?"

"Well, it depends on whether or not the mistake was substantial. If it was, then I try to correct it. If it wasn't, then I just go on."

"Sounds like a great principle," said the lawyer. "Can you give us an example?"

"Certainly. Let's say I was citing the passage in the Book of Revelation that says, 'All liars shall have their place in the lake of fire.' Let's say that it came out, 'All LAWYERS shall have their place in the lake of fire'."

With eyebrows raised high, one lawyer asked, "Well, what would you do?"

Said the preacher, "Oh, I'd consider that such a slight difference, I'd just go on.'

Karen said...

Justin,

Daniel Gray responded to your comments very well, and let me add this.

First of all... God bless you. Clearly you care about these issues, and I know you're convinced you're right. But take your comments like the following:

'There will still be people, who by choice, don't choose to work.'

Do you have a clue how many street people have full-time jobs and still can't get off the street? MANY MANY MANY.

'There will still be people who abuse alcohol and drugs, destroying their families, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.'

Daniel is right. In large part, it is about money and a safety net of family and friends.

'Spending other peoples money will not keep cheap housing in good condition if those that live there don't appreciate it.'

Have you taken the time to go see Roseland Homes, the inner-city housing develpment where CDM is hard at work? It is beautiful, like the description of the one in St. Louis.

It is clear that you care a lot about these issues. But, as I read your comments here, I am increasingly convinced that they are largely theoretical -- just words. You couldn't really be seeing situations of poverty and homelessness and KNOW the people involved and still espouse the solutions that you do. Forgive me if I'm wrong about this.

PS '[Government] cannot fix war.' Really? Well, it certainly has the power to START unjust wars on the basis of rationales that are faulty or just plain made-up.

Karen said...

By the way, I really hate to step into the middle of this one, but here goes...

Anon 12:35 AM: 'Hey senator, have you ever heard of abortion? Have you heard of a culture, led by your side, that decides who lives or dies, based on the convenience of the living?'

I am a pro-life Democrat. There are many of us, though not enough to change the party platform, obviously. But the moral superiority of the 'other side' based on this one issue gets old.

Justin said...

Daniel, I don't think I clearly stated what my point was.

It was in reference to eliminating poverty.

Can poverty be alleviated? To some extent, yes.

My point is solely that many times, there are unintended consequences, to especially government intervention in the lives of those they try to assist. One large example is urban renewal in the sixties. Here in East Nashville, the ravages are clear. The vast majority of those living in housing projects in my neighborhood are there because of urban renewal, whether directly or indirectly.

The government decided they wanted to try and make urban areas better places to live, which to them meant, getting rid of housing that they deemed unfit.

No matter if the people there owned them, and in many cases, the houses weren't too terrible.

But the government used eminent domain to take the houses and property of, you guessed it, mostly poor black people. They previously had some collateral and a tool for building wealth. They owned a home. It probably wasn't in great shape, but because of that fact, their property was taken and many ended up in housing projects, which as we all know, turned into poverty factories.

I know there are some good housing projects. There are several in Nashville that are part of the Hope IV project, where rent is determined by income, and they encourage middle class familes to move among the poor. My wife and I considered it, but decided to move where we currently are.

And, I don't think anyone here can argue that a good economy probably does more for the poor than anything else, by creating more plentiful and better paying jobs. If you kill the economy, which massive government expenditures and inflationary monetary polices do, you will end up harming the poor that you are trying to help. If we're in a recession, or worse yet a depression, those that hurt the most are those that were hurting to begin with. Which is why priority number one for the government, especially if it wants to help the poor, must be to keep the economy strong, creating jobs and more efficiently producing goods.

But, like I said, once again. The point was not that all poor people choose to be poor. I don't believe I made that statement, and if I did, I certainly didn't intend to. The point is, no matter how hard you try, eliminating poverty is just not possible, because there are always going to be some people who make decisions that keep them where they are. Its part of living in a free society. People have the freedom to prosper, and they also have the freedom to make bad decisions.

SeriousSummer said...

Sometimes it is better to try and fail, even try knowing you will fail, then not to try.

Many of us at Central Dallas Ministries gave up more advantageous economic positions to try our best to eliminate poverty.

I have never expected we will succeed, but I think it better to try, knowing we will fail, than not to try at all.

Finally, I have to say a word about Justin's economic theories--they are, in Reagan's words, one more beautiful theory thwarted by stupid facts.

Mixed economies, neither pure capitalism nor socialism, have proved to be the most beneficial for the most people. I believe that certain economic rights--including the right to adequate health care, food and shelter--are basic human rights. I don't need a twenty room mansion, and couldn't enjoy one, while other fellow citizens--even other human beings--sleep in the street.

Ramblin' Red said...

Larry...

I agree with your original post here - and your subsequent comments. But certain readers are likely to always disagree...don't take that too personally, and just keep the faith, brother. There will come a day.

Fred Peatross said...

Personally I think Edwards had to find an emphasis for his message (it became economic fairness) to make himself more than the anti-war candidate. But I can’t help believe that there was an ulterior motive to such a noble cause—mop up union endorsements, gain traction among lower-income, working voters without a college education. But because Edwards was so wealthy he had a difficult time molding a populist image.
Fred @Abductive Columns

Justin said...

So, if I have the right to health care, food, and shelter Summer, does that mean that there should be no legal issue with my demanding money, or those things from you?

If something is my right, then I should just be able to go around my neighborhood and collect from my neighbors, correct? They have no legal right to what is their own, because my legal right to have those things trumps their right to private property?

If we have the right to food, shelter, and health care... why do I bother working? I mean, my portfolio at present is pretty much tied up in those four things, and I'm working four jobs to make sure I can have them, and be able to go back to college next fall.

If you decide, especially constitutionally, that everyone has the right to food, shelter, and healthcare, you will end America as we know it. Eventually, no one will work. Those that are upper middle class to wealthy will be paying upwards of 95% of their income over 350,000 to the government, and they will stop working, and many will demand that government pay for their food, shelter, and health care as well. And why shouldn't they, since they are carrying the burden for the state.

I guess its possible that I could be completely wrong about everything I say, but it seems like the government policies that you all promote would end in disaster for the poor that you are trying to protest.

chris said...

I have just finished reading the autobiography of Sam Walton. It was truly inspirational. He did a lot for the common person. I don't think he would have ever said, "I have never expected we will succeed."

SeriousSummer said...

Justin,

If my view of humanity was as dark as yours, I do not know how I would get out of bed in the morning.

"I guess its possible that I could be completely wrong about everything I say,"

I think you are. Not work because I was guaranteed the minimum sustanance of life? Lay on my couch knowing I had a place to stay, in out of the cold, and enough to eat and that a doctor would treat me when I became sick?

If that was all that people want or desire, then most of us would quit any serious work by middle age. I do not believe that is so.

I do not know any such people. The homeless people that I know still have hope and ambition. Why would you work, as you say, four jobs to go back to school if one would allow you the minimum you need to live? Are you motivated by the possibility of a yacht, a Rolls and half a dozen mansions--I doubt it or you wouldn't bother to be here discussing the issues of poverty.

The cost of decent shelter, food and health care for all, in our extraodinarily rich country, is well within reach--it would not even necessarily require any increase in taxes.

Sweden pays parents to stay home with their preschool children. Is it a richer country than ours? Does no one work there? Canada provides health care for all. Is it a richer country than ours? Does no one work there? France provides free day care for all. Is it a richer country than ours? Does no one work there?

Much, much more is possible than you believe. The two richest people in our country, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, have decided that merely making their money is not an end in itself, but that only using it to help people is meaningful.

Your numbers are wrong. Your facts are wrong. I believe your view of human nature is also wrong.

We do not live in Hobbes's war of all against all, but in a society where we all depend upon one another.

Fallen, failing, full of sin, but all capable, through grace, of recognizing the image of God in each of our fellows. I cannot say: You are sick, but do not deserve to be well. You are homeless, but do not deserve a place to stay. You are hungary, but do not deserve to eat.

We are wealthy beyond all belief. I do not see why we should choose that others should be destitute.

Daniel Gray said...

Well said SS... I think we get caught up in the idea of an evil, villainous world in which selfish people only care about themselves. Everyone wants to work, to produce something, and feel connected to something greater than themself. I think these are the driving forces that give humanity hope in creating a better life and building real community. Sadly, we're often blind to the things that really are at the core of who we are as people. When I see the inner-city, I see people who have needlessly suffered but have found real community with one another -- people who are connected to one another, regardless of their past mistakes and the problems that pervade their neighborhoods.

I don't know how anyone cannot see that unless they have never tried to or are so jaded about this life.

Justin said...

The smaller the country, the more socialism works, I will grant you that premise. But look at the unemployment rates of the largest european countries, which still pail in comparison to our population. The unemployment rate is staggeringly high.

European socialist countries are also able to afford vast programs such as these because we subsidize them, in essence, by providing defense dollars. Our army is expected, through the UN, to defend countries all around the world. I don't think that should be the case. I think our military spending should be drastically cut back, but as long as we have permanent bases all around the world, in Europe, Asia, the middle east, we cannot afford any of these programs. Without military expenditures, we might be able to afford them, at least for a while.

With the Health Care crisis in this country, which I admit to there being, the problem isn't lack of insurance, but insurance itself. The way we pay for health care in this country is socialistic in a private environment. Everyone pays in and the risk is dispersed amongst a large group of individuals. But unlike car insurance or homeowners insurance, health insurance has a different problem. Moral hazard. While a car insurance company determines the likelihood of an accident by each person, and determines payments in that way, health insurance is different, because people get sick often. When you get a cold, why not go to the doctor if you've got health insurance. Even if its something that you could treat at home by taking a day off and drinking some hot tea and eating chicken soup, we think, "well, I've got health insurance, might as well use it" and without regard to how much the doctors visit and medicine actually cost (because you just have a co pay) you go to the doctor. You don't shop around. You find the nearest office that takes your insurance. There is no reason in the world why we should be propping up a system like this, because this system INCREASES demand for services merely by existing, and offices cannot use supply and demand to determine fees in order to make the supply and demand curve meet up. They can continue to raise prices, and most people don't feel the pinch of those increased insurance costs, because their employer takes them, and they just don't get a raise as they would otherwise.

The simplest solution is to let health insurance work like car insurance. Have high deductibles for actual emergencies, and let the market work for check ups and visits for a cold or strep. That will lower costs. If you need proof, just look at medical procedures that aren't covered by insurance, namely lasik surgery. Prices continue to fall for this procedure, because of competition between offices. Not to mention the increased cost of all the forms and filings that have to be done to receive payment in full from an insurance company when you just needed to see a doctor and get some antibiotics.

And to people not working... sure, not everyone will quit working with just their basic needs fulfilled, but a lot of people will. And as time continues, politicians need votes, and they'll start promising cable tv in every home, and all other kind of garbage. As well as with government controlled health care, you have issues like legislation in Mississippi right now that will ban restaurants from serving people that the state deems obese. The states paying for health care for most of those people, so they think they have the right to determine where those people eat. That seems like a government infringement on my liberty to eat whatever I please, not to mention the right of restaurants to serve whomever they please.

The ultimate end to this philosophy is total government control over your life. You can't get around that fact. As they give you things, they then have the right to take other things away. That's what I'm worried about. My opinion of humanity isn't bleak. My opinion of government running everyone's life is bleak. If you believe that capitalism is bad, because men are going to screw the little guy, I don't see why you could trust government anymore. They are less accountable to their "customers" than are corporations, because they have the power of law behind them. No corporation can force you to do anything. But the government can.

Daniel Gray said...

Justin, I don't think you read SS's post correctly:

"Mixed economies, neither pure capitalism nor socialism, have proved to be the most beneficial for the most people. "

No one is fazed by your outright "label" blasting. No one gets offended when you throw out "socialism" and all of your anti-government rhetoric. No one buys into the brainwashed "government is pure evil" propaganda that you put on here. So just move on from it. It doesn't lead to meaningful conversation.

Anonymous said...

A wise man once said of Christianity, "it is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, it is that it has rarely been tried." One could really say the same thing of government's efforts to end poverty in the U.S. Will it work? Who knows. We haven't really tried it.

Justin - I understand your position. I really do. I used to hold it myself. But it just doesn't square with the facts. It is pure ideology. And as far as I can tell, no pure ideology (such as communism) has ever worked very well in practice. You have to find good ideas that fit real life. Trying to squeeze real life into a total abstraction usually just doesn't work. And that's as true for your brand of unbridled capitalism/libertarianism as it is for communism.

Justin said...

I guess the reason I feel differently about libertarianism/anarcho capitalism than I do about communism from a utopian standpoint is that the system that I would love to see is one that would exist in a group without government. There is no need for force under these circumstances, people make decisions and agreements all on their own, whereas, in a socialist or communist utopia, there must be an all powerful person/group in order to try and achieve said results. And even if it would theoretically work, it can't work in practice because there are always people trying to game the system that take it out of whack, so those people must be dealt with, harshly in most cases under that system. I would much rather be utopian for a system in which no one forces anyone to do anything, than one that is completely controlled by force.

And Daniel, its not propaganda to call what you propose by its name, socialism. We have a socialist/capitalist system currently, as SS said previously.

And maybe ya'll have no interest in addressing my points, and that's totally fine if that's the case. Maybe you, for whatever reason, feel you've answered all my concerns, or maybe you believe that my concerns don't merit a response. Whatever the case may be, that is fine. We probably will never get anywhere with this discussion, because we each believe that we are completely right. I feel like I attempt to understand the concerns that those of you who disagree with me here, and respond accordingly. I will say, that many times, I don't feel like anyone here is interested in any other points of view, unless they are demonizing them.

Things are more nuanced than anyone, me included, realize. And I think we all do a disservice to our ideas when we refuse to look critically at another's point of view. Daniel, I feel like responding merely by saying that my ideas are propaganda probably falls into that category. Just because I don't agree with you, and you think you're right just the same as I do, doesn't meant that my concerns are automatically propaganda, is it not possible that some of the issues I raise with your understanding of things might have merit?

Anonymous said...

Justin, I'm with you, but I fear we are in the minority. What will probably happen is that either Hillary or Obama will screw things up so badly that forces will resolve leftist rectoric after four years.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice that when the discussion is political/ideological, Justin is all over it? And when it's practical and talking about directly impacting people's lives, he's nowhere to be found?

Justin said...

Could it possibly be because I agree with the practical ways of doing things?

Daniel Gray said...

We're all comfortable with the words being used. But it seems as if you think those words have some type of offensive Orwellian shock value. That's all I'm saying... throw out socialism and communism all you want. But we're talking about a hybrid idea, not strictly one thing over another.

And if we're going to argue about who's more tolerant on political issues, then I win. You love capitalism, but you won't tolerate government.

I like both of them and think there is a place for both. You're trying to give one of them the boot. All I'm saying (and what Larry and SS are also saying) is that there is a strong role for government and capitalism, public and private, to work together.

Justin said...

I think there's a proper role for government, but I think things could work without. Life would just look a little different.

But our philosophies of government differ drastically. Mine is that of the founding fathers, one that was skeptical of an all powerful central government, one that fears trading liberty for security, because too often in the history of the world, those that do end up with neither. Yours is one that has no problem with the government being the caretaker for the masses, there to protect them from any possible ill that could befall them in their life. That sounds wonderful to most everyone. The rub is that the government has no money of its own with which to operate. It only exists by confiscating the labor of others. Now, most do not have a problem with this, until they realize that the vast majority that are electing the officials pay little or no tax, and taxes continue to be raised on those in the minority whose votes have come to mean nothing.

Robert Guest said...

Justin,

The problem with debating socialism vs. libertarianism is that leftists generally "feel" their way through issues. Logic, reason, economics, don't matter. They have very little logic, just platitudes like "everyone wants to work and be productive."

Wealth redistribution is wrong. At best it's coveting your neighbors house etc, at worst it's simple robbery.

It's morally wrong to steal money, whether it's the government or a private citizen. Every American should have the right to the fruit of their labor.

Government will never eliminate poverty. Welfare has created a permanent underclass. Instead of traditional support groups- family, charity- we have made millions dependent on the state.

Look at the breakdown of the American family, and look at the growth of the Entitlement system in our country.

If you believe that the best way to help the poor is to give them checks, then by all means give away your own money. Don't steal from others.

If money could solve poverty, then the trillions we have spent on entitlement should have done it by now. It's never enough, and it will never work.

If socialism was a great model then Cuba would be a great place to live, and we would have lost the Cold War.

RG

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mr. Guest... I'm appalled and shocked at your response. I'd respond to you, but according to you, I'm too stupid to hold a conversation. I base everything on feelings and have no sense of logic...

If that's how you feel about people who have a different political ideology than you, I can do nothing but weep and lament (more feelings) over your sad state.

Do you call yourself a Christian? Just wondering, because half the people you worship with probably "feel" the same way.

At least those of us on the "left" have feelings and are willing to sit and talk about what we believe rather than sit in their ivory tower and tell people they don't have the ability to think.

And I'm sorry, it's my fault that the American family broke down. It was because I said that people shouldn't be beating homosexuals into a bloody pulp. It had nothing to do with fathers who worked 60+ hours a week and never spent time with their family...

If you want to talk about feelings, conservative Republicans are the ones who are holding onto "yester-year" and our "traditional values" that only a small minority of the population actually ever had. But go ahead and bash everyone who "feels" different from you. If it makes you feel powerful, do it.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, Mr. Guest... while you're talking about class theft... Go ahead and talk about the 100+ years of free labor that your forefathers STOLE by enslaving the the African people.

Robert Guest said...

Anon,

I was overly dismissive in my last post. However, I believe that Justin's points were not being met with any discernable response.

In sum, I simply believe entitlements and socialism will never end poverty.

I also think it is wrong for the government to take from one group and give to another. Charity should be without coercion.

I see all big government as not only a threat to freedom and liberty, but as failing on their own terms. Whether it's the War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on___.......

Sincerely
RG

Justin said...

Anon,

You said that Robert's forefathers stole from the African people. Do you know what country his family is from? Its entirely possible that his family didn't come to the United States until long after slavery had been abolished. In fact, the vast majority of white families that lived in the US pre civil war didn't even own slaves, so they stole nothing. Not to mention the fact that Africans went into the jungles and captured "their own" and brought them to whites to sell into slavery.

I mean, I think we can all agree that slavery was wrong. But if you want to prove that you don't have decisions based on emotion rather than logic, I'd hold back on accusing someone's relatives of perpetuating slavery 150 years ago when you know little or nothing about said person.

Do you think that that today's Egyptians owe Jewish people for enslaving them 4000 years ago? Or maybe do the Jews owe inflation adjusted settlements to the Egyptians for taking property during the Exodus?

No one that is participating in this conversations ever owned slaves, and none of us can do anything about those that did. Things like what you just said illustrate Robert's point exactly. They are irrelevant to this discussion, and in all honesty, could amount to slander and racism yourself.

Not all white people owned, or benefited from slaves.

Anonymous said...

RG:

Calling government use of tax dollars "theft" is not helpful. In a democracy, where the government is "us" taxes (how much and how they're used) are just a communal decision about our priorities. I assume you use the roads, and want police protection from criminals if you're about to be mugged. Those things require tax dollars. Since I'm betting no one is going to step forward and volunteer to pay for those things, it will require a certain level of compulsion to collect taxes. If those most basic functions of government require taxation, then we've already crossed the Rubicon. The only question is how far to go. A founding principle of the US was "no taxation without representation." But you and I both have a congressman, a senator, etc. So libertarian rhetoric about "theft" is not at all helpful. Reminds me of equally unhelpful words like "comrade." Just empty ideological clap trap, whether from the left or right.

(By the way, I believe the foregoing was logical, even if you disagree with it.)

Robert Guest said...

Anon,

First, what is it with roads? Every libertarian rebuttal has to do with public roads. The idea being that since I drive on the highway, I also have to accept the welfare state. I respectfully disagree.

I can not afford to build my own road to work. However, I can also not afford to build my own TV set factory. Yet, I own a television. Demand creates supply. If the government quit building roads tommorow, the market would adjust.

The proliferation of toll roads shows that even public roads aren't so public anymore. But I digress.

We disagree on taxation as theft (I wonder what Wesley Snipes would say). You seem ready to sign up for majoritarian tyranny. Ergo, the War on Drugs, Iraq War, corporate welfare, Blackwater/Halliburton contracts or whatever bill congress passes is fine; after all you have a representative. I disagree because I believe in self ownership.

I don't see anything in the US Constitution that allows for Social Security or Medicare/caid. Ergo, those taxes and plans should be unconstitutional. But we can argue about the commerce/General welfare clause later.

On socialism-
People respond to incentives. If you pay people not to work, they won't work. If you pay single mothers, you get more single mothers.

I suspect that if we ended government subsidies, ended the taxes that support those subsidies, ended the regulations that make housing and health care expensive, the poor would be better off.

If you want to open a shelter, feed the homeless, that is real charity, a moral triumph. Forced charity (government) is no charity at all.

RG

Russ said...

I have found this conversation fascinating because I occasionally lapse into thinking that Christians are in agreement about what should be done regarding poverty. Obviously we aren’t in agreement. And what should be done? We are what should be done. Not our government, not our political ideology, not an ‘invisible hand’ or capitalism, not the Gates Foundation. Amazingly, God’s big plan for showing the world what the Kingdom of God really looks like is us, following in the ways of Jesus. While institutional changes and systemic solutions are sometimes necessary, they are built upon our personal relationship with the poor (with each other). Not hoarding our possessions and getting upset when someone asks for something… but instead offering it freely with compassion (and then some). If a politician happens to line up with that sort of generosity then we should get behind him or her (which is what I see Larry trying to do with this post).

To learn more about the factors influencing global poverty visit this site: http://www.compassion.com/poverty-wheel/

Robert Guest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Guest said...

Private property and freedom are inseperable. That you reject the entire premise as selfish leads me to ask- What use is freedom, or private property? If the government is promoting a cause you believe in, they why not levy a 90% income tax?

Also, is their a difference between freely offering up your assets and taxation? Why should you force you neighbors to pay for causes you believe in? Wouldn't you support charity without taxes?

I believe there is no real morality through coercion.

Your views on government seem a little optimistic. Government exists to benefit government. Why do we have 2.2 million (mostly poor) people in jail? Why have politicians raided social security? Why are fighting so many "good" wars?

Both parties believe that their "big government" is "good" and the other is "bad." Both are wrong. There is no wonderful utopian big government.

Justin said...

Anon,

There is also a difference between the "theft" of income tax, and constitutional taxes levied on certain goods. When I pay gas taxes, I'm paying for roads. When I pay liquor taxes or hotel taxes or any other tax that is indirect (which is constitutional) meaning avoidable, it is not theft, and is a legitimate means of taxation.

The income tax is theft pure and simple, because it is a tax on your productivity,your livelihood. Despite what many believe, money is not something that can just be printed and given to whomever to fix all ills. If it were so, we could just print all the money we want to and give it away to everyone and life would be hunky dory. But things don't work that way. When you print out money, it decreases the value of the currency. We could print out billions and billions of dollars and give it to the poor, but they would only be in better shape briefly, because as the inflation of the currency catches up with businesses, prices rise in proportion with the amount of money printed.

All this to say, money is a representation of the value of labor. I enter into a contract, of my own will, with a Christian school doing daycare. Depending on how much of other people's labor they are willing to sacrifice in order to have the school keep their child, that will determine the amount that my labor is worth to them. But instead of everyone using things that they've made with their own work (eggs, cows, clothes, etc) we use money as a unit of exchange representing what our work is worth to others.

So in essence, all this to say, when you tax someones income, rather than their expenditures, you are taxing their actual worth... which could also be construed as slavery. Whatever tax rate you pay, that is the percentage of the year that your work is indentured servitude to the government, and it is unavoidable.

SeriousSummer said...

How fascinating, Karl Marx developed the labor theory of value, now libertarians quote his theory in support of their position.

The 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution expressly authorizes the income tax. To say it is "theft" is simply a fallacy (perhaps in line with worrying about the threat of smallpox from Mexico). Theft requires an unlawful taking of property. The income tax is without question legal in the United States.

Their is no meaningful evidence to indicate that overuse of doctors because of insurance is a major contributor to medical costs.

No halfway sane commentator (no matter how right wing) believes that Social Security or Medicare are unconstitutional.

I am so tired of those who cannot get the simplest fact correct arguing that they know the TRUTH (and it's always in capitals).

I am tired of the lazy. I am tired of those who have never earned a law degree pontificating on the law. On those who have never run their own business trying to teach economics. Who don't know the history of transportation blathering about how the private sector could provide for roads.


If you want to know what Libertarianism looks like, then look at Somalia. From January 1991 until May 2006, Somalia had no central government.

Please explain to me the delights of living in Somalia for those 15 years--you might begin by locating Somalia on a map.

If you can convince me of that, then perhaps I'll stop thinking of Libertarianism as something other than the new Communism--a political theory that the immature are attracted to, in spite of the fact that it is contrary to all known facts, because it provides a simple, although incorrect, explanation of the world.

But it might be best, after all, if y'all just found a website to talk to other Paultards and left the discussion here to the adults. I think you'd be happier and I know the rest of us would be as well.

Justin said...

Christian attitude there SS!

BTW, Libertarianism is not anarchy. And its a straw man argument to equate Somalia's recent turmoil to what would happen in a Libertarian government. That's like my saying what would happen if we implemented your plan would look like North Korea (which I have never said, btw)

Regarding the 16th amendment, income taxes were attempted to be legalized in the US, but were several times repealed for being unconstitutional. The 16th amendment it ended up getting passed, but historians have found some irregularities about whether or not it was legally ratified. Several states that voted yes broke their own constitution by doing so.
Vermont and Mass ratified it after Sec State Philander Knox ratified it with bad results (think Florida recount) Texas and Louisiana didn't ratify because it was against their constitution. It appears that only 27 states legally and correctly ratified the amendment.

To insurance, I know for a fact that I am more willing to go to the doctor rather than tough it out when I don't have to pay for it. There have definitely been times when I would have gone to the doctor of late if I'd had insurance that would make it cost feasible, but I didn't, because it was gonna be 150 dollars, and I decided it'd be better to just tough it out and deal with being sick a day or two longer cause I didn't go to the doctor.

You know what. Scratch all this. I'm just a "Paultard" (Do you hate mentally handicapped people SS, cause that's pretty offensive stuff right there)

BTW, there's no way I can prove this to you, because we're online, but I know where Somalia is on a map. East Central Coast of Africa. I remember when our Democratic President started a quasi war over there, and got some American soldiers killed. Mogadishu. I think it's important that you realize that there are smart people who disagree with you. Your elitist attitudes are the EXACT reason people can't stand Democrats. Their arguments are more nuanced, sure, but they are still a holes when it comes down to people disagreeing with them.

Anonymous said...

Jesus' ONLY statement about taxes was "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's." He did not rail against taxation as "theft." He seems to have been rather unconcerned about exactly how men governed their affairs. He was much more concerned that they simply be concerned and caring toward their fellow men. So if we use government to serve some of those ends, it seems quite Christian to me.

By the way, Justin, while SS's tone may have been a little harsh (as has yours and RG at times), it is veering a little off into crazy conspiracy land to argue that income taxes are unconstitutional when we have a specific amendment authorizing them that has been upheld by the Courts for decades. But I guess you have to overlook such trifles if you want to keep using "theft" rhetoric. :)

Justin said...

I've made it clear several times that not all taxation is theft. My point is, merely, the Constitution, which is the basis of our governing system, states the ways in which taxes can be collected. They must be indirect, that is, avoidable. That's why the first two times the income tax was passed it was deemed unconstitutional. Just because something is ratified, doesn't mean that its actually constitutional. I would argue the same point if we were to pass an amendment banning gay marriage. Because it goes against previous wording in the constitution.

Jesus did say render unto Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God's. And I do that. I pay my income tax, even though I don't agree with it. We, as Christian Americans, are allowed participation in our government. We have given the government its power, and we should have the right to take away that power if the government becomes too powerful. I can argue that a certain type of taxation is theft, yet still pay those taxes, and call on the government to change the way it taxes us, and still remain a Christian. Do you agree?

I don't see how you couldn't. You hold the same position, that because we are allowed to participate in the system, we should try to change it to do the work of Christ. I happen to disagree with that, mainly because there's a long history of government and religion merging, and the results were hardly ever anything resembling Christian. And they never will be, because they are part of the principalities and powers that are used for God's purposes, but we are to hold a different ethic (Romans 12 and 13).

I believe that because the government is never going to be able to bring about the Kingdom, we should try to shrink its influence, because, more often than not, this all powerful government will act out in ways that are incredibly UN christian (Iraq War,Capital Punishment, Corporate Welfare) but if the Federal Government shrinks, and states take over whatever duties they see fit to... we will only go to war in the most dire situations, and people will have a greater voice in what happens in their communities.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I get it.

So now Justin is going to be the one deciding what taxes constitute as theft and which ones do not...

Let me guess... Justin's exempt. And corporations are exempt. Or whatever the libertarians say.

This is what a democracy is... The people have spoken. Therefore, it's legal. Get over it.

All hail Emperor Justin, The Decider... Isn't this what got Bush into trouble? Acting like he knew everything?

Anonymous said...

"Just because something is ratified, doesn't mean that its actually constitutional." Actually, Justin, according to any reasonable understadning of our law, it means exactly that.

Anonymous said...

For an enlightened understading of this issue, I would recommend:

http://www.fee.org/pdf/the-freeman/0609richman.pdf

It is written by a libertarian, who nonetheless acknowledges the futility of the argument that the income tax is "illegal" or "unconstitutional."

Justin said...

Wow, we are really having an adult conversation now, aren't we?

Corporations don't pay taxes now. They pass on the cost of the tax to the customer in the price of goods.

I think everyone should be exempt from income taxes. We don't need them to run a functioning government. If we got rid of them, we'd just have to go back to the budget from 10 years ago... cut out almost all military spending, and new discretionary spending, and you got a ball game.

What is the right amount of money for our government to redistribute to others? Would you ever stop trying to take more money away from people to give to the poor?

Does anyone here understand that there's only a maximum the government can bring in for redistribution... that at a certain point you raise taxes and revenues decrease, because economic growth stalls? What then oh all understanding socialists? My capitalism is so inferior and hating of the poor, someone please enlighten me as to what all I shold expect from a government that's doing Kingdom work?

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone here understand that there's only a maximum the government can bring in for redistribution... that at a certain point you raise taxes and revenues decrease, because economic growth stalls?"

I do. Absolutely. But this is a pragmatic issue which should be addressed pragmatically. Trying to answer it a priori using ideology will not work.

But you are avoiding the subject of the last few entries. Did you read the article? I'm glad to have a discussion about how much taxation is appropriate and what the money should (or should not) go for. You argue next-to-none, maybe I argue for a little more. But let's stop getting side-tracked by specious arguments about taxes being "illegal" or "theft." Labelling your opponents thieves, or conspirators with thieves, just shuts down the discussion.

By the way, I am no socialist. I am firmly convinced that capitalism is the most efficient economic engine man has yet devised. That's just not necessarily the end of the discussion.

(BTW, I am really puzzled by the tone of your last entry ("we are really having an adult conversation now"). I meant nothing I said to be offensive, and don't think it was.)

Anonymous said...

Justin:

I think I see the source of your ire. Just FYI, Anon 12:26 is not the same as the Anon who made most of the last few entries. Anon 12:26 was most unkind. I would not have written that.

Justin said...

Yeah, that is who that was directed towards.

My position of theft is just that of the founders. They put in the constitution that taxes must be indirect because of the fear of what is happening right now. The vast majority of people in this country pay very little in income taxes. Politicians can use these lesser to none taxed individuals to keep themselves in power, and continue to confiscate the wealth of those they wish to tax more from. These people's vote no longer matters in the grand scheme of things. That is why the saying exists that "a democracy can only work until the people realize they can tax themselves the treasury". I believe we are nearing that point now, namely because by the year 2040, we will only be able to pay the interest on social security and medicare. No defense. No transportation. No universal health care for those that want it. Those two entitlement programs will be so gargantuan that we'd have to raise taxes to confiscatory levels (and hope that people continue to grow the economy) in order to survive as a nation.

Anonymous said...

I understand the theory. But it just doesn't seem to connect with reality. In 2000 and 2004 voters voted in a tax cutting president who CUT taxes on the wealthy, as had Reagan in the 1980's before him. There are ups and downs in the political process, and the wealthy certainly seem to have no shortage of political influence that counterbalances whatever "confiscatory" tendencies others may have. (And even though I have some sympathies with tax cutting, it can't be denied that it is those tax cutting presidents who have ballooned the deficit to its present size.)

Such doomsday forecasts usually just don't turn out to be true. I still remember in about 1980 when most people thought the US was in steep, irreversible decline. Ten years later it was the Soviets, and not us, who fell apart. I can't put much stock in doomsday scenarios said to play out in 2040.

Justin said...

That is understandable.

The problem with tax cutting is that if you increase spending more than the increase in government revenues, you still end up with a deficit. Twas one of the major flaws of the Reagan presidency. However, cutting the top marginal rates from 70 to 28 percent, which is I believe the appx numbers that he cut them, brought in a huge amount of revenue to the government, and gave the major boost to the economy that we needed to end the stagflation of the 70s. With top marginal rates at 35 percent, we can't cut taxes to that amount without a drastic cut in government spending, and because our government is such a huge player in the economy, cutting government will cause problems of its own.

Just saw some numbers today from the Fed, we've added over a trillion dollars to the economy in the last two years, convienently after they stopped reporting M3, which is the amount of total money in the economy. Its gonna be a bad 10 to 20 years, which is bad for LJ and his crew. Charitable donations are gonna fall drastically while more people are unable to afford the food, clothing, and shelter that they need. Ironically, the increase in money supply is directly related to larger government spending... funding the war and large social programs.

SeriousSummer said...

Please, an attributed quotation with a source I can check where the founders state that the income tax is theft.

Just one, please.

The income tax rate has not become confiscatory. In fact it is much less now than it was 50 years ago when Dwight Eisenhower was President.

Universal health care will not break the budget. Canada spends less overall on health care than the United States. Canada has universal health care, a longer life expectancy and a lower infant morality rate.

The overall tax burden for the rich and poor is less progressive now (that means the poor pay more in relation to their income than they used to and the rich pay less) than in any time since the early Eisenhower administration--before most of you, I am sure, were born.

Social security will not "go broke". Instead, if nothing is done to correct the problem, benefits will have to be reduced by about 20% in about 25 years. Simple fixes, such as raising the retirement age or raising the limit on the income taxed will undoubtedly correct the problem before we get to that point.

In my lifetime (which is beginning to seem exceedingly long) only two Democratic presidents have balanced the budget. No Republican presidents have balanced the budget.

I don't know what to do--facts seem no longer to matter to anyone. Any person with strong convictions, no matter how bizarre or erroneous, seems to be regarded as having an opinion of equal worth to an opinion backed by actual facts.

I dispair for this country, not because of economic failures, but because of intellectual failure.

One ought to be ashamed to offer foolish theories; to make gross factual errors; or to be caught up in myriad mistakes of fact.

But nobody seems to feel remorse. Instead it is regarded as a greater sin to call out fools for their mistakes. How can you seriously consider the opinion of a person worth consideration when they have no respect for facts?

It is little wonder that we invaded Iraq looking for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. When you ignore facts, both the real and the false have equal value.

Justin said...

SS

I'm glad you have all the answers.

I mean, since you know everything, why don't you run for office and fix all our problems. Please oh please dear leader, would you point us in the direction of perfection that you have achieved? I wish that I too knew everything about everything. I want all my answers to be right. Should I just quote verbatim the platform of the democrat party?

You are the most pretentious person I have ever come into contact with in my life, and your attitude in this thread is an embarrassment to those that call themselves Christians. Continue calling anyone that disagrees with you an idiot, or insult them by demeaning those who have a mental handicap. You show your true colors and your interest in truth when you so callously dismiss anything that anyone says. Even I'm not that much of a jerk. And that's saying something.

Anonymous said...

AD HOMINEM!!!!!

Justin, SS has presented fact. He hasn't directly insulted you. All he asks is that you present fact/quote in return.

And what was your response? You attacked him, with no facts to back up your political beliefs.

You played right into the point he was making... that people only care about their ideology, and not about fact, because instead of presenting your side, you simply attacked him.

But if it makes you feel better to play the victim... well, that's the problem in this country SS is describing.

Justin said...

SS presented fact no differently than did I. All he/she said was "this is not true, actually this is true" which, if you can't understand how that isn't any different from my facts, then I feel for you.

Social Security
And this article from a certainly not Republican source
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12580846/

And if you want the Cato numbers, which I'm sure you don't trust, cause they are a bunch of fool, idiot, libertarians that you shouldn't even have to respond to cause they are so stupid.

www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-0306-15.pdf

Intstead of listing off everything for you, I'll just show you this video from the comptroller general, explaining that our country is almost all ready broke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjZBOCAgR64

Now, I just gotta believe that that guy is way more qualified than SS or I on these issues. So SS, and I say this as nicely as possible, get a blog, or shut up.

Anonymous said...

So having a blog makes someone a credible source?

Keep on feeling victimized, no one feels sorry for you. Not with that kind of attitude.

Justin said...

I'm just saying this isn't his blog to be the police of whose ideas are valid or not. He can get his own blog if he wants to do that.

If Larry wants me to leave, I won't come back.

Anonymous said...

Boys, boys! Play nice!

Justin, it doesn't exactly enlist support for your position when you turn around and do the same thing you criticize SS for doing.

Anonymous said...

"I'm just saying this isn't his blog to be the police of whose ideas are valid or not. He can get his own blog if he wants to do that."

May not be, but you're not the police either... you're really stretching it to sound right here. You're calling him out on the exact same things you're guilty of.

I've met SS before, he's a great person. I don't know how much SS wants to promote his identity, but he knows Larry a lot better than you think. He's not some random person hijacking a blog.

Besides, if anything, the post was about Edwards campaign. Reading through the comments, it seems that you are the one who changed the direction of the discussion, and SS was simply trying to not let you run wild with it.

What is your motivation on here? Just curious... I see you somewhat frequently posting on this blog, usually in defiance of whatever the opinion is of the author. And then every couple of months, you really drag a post out and create a heated, negative discussion. It's a cycle that keeps getting repeating.

Larry James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Justin, on the MSNBC article, the
depletion you mention is simply the depletion of the trust fund, which was an extra amount that Greenspan added as a tax increase in 1983 to cover the effect of the baby-boomer generation. That trust fund is currently building up interest and being held in reserve for the time when expenses exceed payments.

When that trust fund depletes (around 2040), that simply means the current workforce will have to support all payments, which is how the system was initially setup. 2040 estimates are that 74% of expenses will be covered by the projected workforce. The rest of the problem (26%), mostly due to increasing life spans, can easily be made up by policy changes already suggested by SeriousSummer.

The doomsday scenario you suggest was taken care of by Greenspan in the 80's -- incremental change will solve the issues coming up in 30+ years.

As far as the federal budget in 2040, Cato's projections aren't feasible, because they assume that government "will add a bunch more programs", and they are assuming that entitlements (SS, Medicaid) will remain a large portion of federal spending even in spite of the fact that these entitlements (due to the trust funds) have already been prepared for the impending boom and that the boom will eventually subside once baby-boomers die off (ouch, sorry to all you boomers).

The system will reorient itself, thanks to people like Greenspan who had the foresight to plan ahead. There will be a pinch for money, but with a little more foresight and some adjustments to current programs, there shouldn't be any problems. And Cato's balooning budget won't pan out, because the trust fund will cover the majority of spending, which will not have a large increase on government spending. Cato is including the trust fund in it's budgeted expenses. The budgeted item that the trust fund is paying out is only meant to be a temporary expense.

Cato has some interesting stuff, but a lot of their policy briefs don't look at the whole picture (i.e. trust fund, and baby boomers dying off) and are simply a scare tactic to get people to run away from government. Sadly, their work is appealing and many people buy into it. But it is not always accurate.

Anonymous said...

Justin, this is what I do not get about you:

"We, as Christian Americans, are allowed participation in our government. We have given the government its power, and we should have the right to take away that power if the government becomes too powerful. "

Every other time on this blog, you've said Christianity supersedes this world and Christians should not be involved in government in any form. Yet you continue to rail on political discussions with your views and attack everyone who does not share your political views. Are you a Christian? Because you are definitely holding a double standard, saying that Christians should not concern themselves with government, and yet espousing your own views and forcing them on other people.

If you believe Christians should promote small government, fine. But don't go around claiming Christians shouldn't be involved, because you're involving yourself already. There are plenty of Christians who do not think Christians should be a part of government, and when politics come around, they keep their mouth shut. And there are other Christians, obviously like you in their desire for political debate, who disagree and want more government involvement. If you're so concerned with the "Kingdom", then why are you wasting your time talking politics? Can you learn to respect that?

Imagine if none of the people on this blog with more liberal politic beliefs (Larry, SS, etc.) were not Christians... would you leave them alone? Would they just be other wacko liberals who want government entitlements to you? Maybe it bothers you that they are Christians, when in reality they see not only a Christian conviction, but a Constitutional reasoning for these programs?

None of them are saying Christ commanded large government entitlements. They are participating in the Kingdom by reaching out to those in need. AND they are participating in politics as American citizens. If their two views on the issues coincide, does that somehow make them less Christian?

You seem to put a lot of stock in the idea that your ideas are those of the founding fathers (you said it twice). Kind of like a lot of Christians who claim they're following the Bible and no one else is doing it right...

Karen Shafer said...

There are a number of very intelligent voices on this blog. I hope none of them leaves.

To me, Serious Summer is one of the most cogent and informed. I know, I know, I agree with his politics, so I'm not unbiased. But his comments are also grounded in a reality -- get that, reality -- that is familiar to me, that I find correspondent to the actual world we live in.

Justin, you are intelligent, too, and passionate. I am very surprised that you sunk to the level of your last post directed to Serious Summer. Probably a temporary lapse.

Nonetheless, I just cannot believe (yes, I've said this before) that you are in direct contact with situations of poverty and homelessness regularly, or you couldn't hold your utopian and idealized views. If you were, you would see: all the private generosity in the world -- as is demonstrated right on our own doorstep with the Dallas homeless and the enormous giving of the faith community -- IS NOT ENOUGH to solve large social problems. It IS that simple. It takes a combination of government, private sector, non profit, faith community. It is not just about Democratic, Republican, Libertarian. People on all sides know this and work together to make things happen.

I repeat myself, but, evidently, that's what we do here!

Justin said...

Karen, thank you for the kind words.

I have said before, I can be a jerk. I even admitted that. But I wanted to point out that SS was being immature. If I had said anything to the extent that he did (the Paultards thing was especially offensive) I would get called out on it. But hardly a peep from anyone when he did it.

I still do adhere to my previous positions. I'm torn about voting today. But I justified it by saying I would vote for Paul and no one else. He advocates pretty much everything I believe about how things should work, and he's the only candidate who is really against war in almost all circumstances.

I'm not the only person who has made that decision. My brother in law, who is getting his masters under lee camp at Lipscomb, as well as Miller at Toward Simplicity, an abilene grad.

And I live among the poor Karen. And I see the devastating effects of the planned economy. Poor people who can't find work, get substandard health care, and who have been making minimum wage for the last 10 years, and have lost wages due to the inflationary practices of our Federal Reserve. Our high taxes have moved industrial jobs overseas. They get terrible education because democrats and teachers unions won't allow vouchers, not to mention the awful effects of urban renewal projects of the 60s, which took away the only source of wealth building from the poor, their homes.

I've also seen people who look to the government like its their savior, because in reality it is. They've been told for years that they can't do anything without the government and its not true. They can do better. But they need the government out of their lives. That's my position. If that's crazy, then so be it.

Anonymous said...

At least my facts refuting the 2040 disaster are still standing...

Justin said...

Did you watch the youtube where the comptroller general of the GAO says that interest from entitlements will be the entire budget if nothing is done?

We might be able to temporarily patch it, by raising taxes significantly, but if spending continues to rise at the rate it has been, then it will just delay it a bit.

Anonymous said...

did you watch my explanation of the trust fund?

Justin said...

Yeah... but government expenses have been drastically increasing since teh 80s, not to mention and influx of immigrants who aren't paying income taxes in the top brackets, and use more services. Add to that the probable implementation of a universal health care proposal... we may have a small decrease in defense spending but, I just can't believe that government spending won't increase drastically, especially if we hit hard economic times.

And regarding this trust fund, I haven't heard much about that... is that something that's protected that they aren't spending?

Anonymous said...

yep, greenspan did it in the 80's -- he had the foresight to see the implications of the baby boomers... so no worry... we'll be fine in 40 years.

Anonymous said...

"but government expenses have been drastically increasing since teh 80s"

That's actually quite incorrect. Government spending, as a percent of GDP has actually declined slightly since the 80's. Early 80's spending was 23% of the GDP, while the past 2-3 years have been 19-20%.

Government spending has surprisingly, always remained between 18-23% since the 1950's. So while it seems government spending is running rampant, it's staying quite in line with the GDP of the nation.

All of this information directly from the White House.

50 years of consistent government spending sure seems to lead to another 50 years of the same. Your doomsday scenario just doesn't pan out...

Justin said...

But what happens if we enter a period of slower economic growth?

The deficit isn't bad as a percentage of GDP... as long as the GDP continues to rise. Spending has increased greatly over the last 20 years, the salvation has been that the economy has gotten much more efficient and has grown in similar numbers.

We've put off the bust cycle for long enough now, and its about to catch up to us... just like it did in the late seventies under Carter. Government spending increased significantly because of new entitlements and long protracted wars in the 60s and seventies. Then, the economy slowed, the printing presses rolled (like they are now) and we ended up with stagflation.

Several mainstream economists are arguing similar things at this point. The parallels to the 70s, as well as the 20s, are frightening.

Anonymous said...

Recession of 1989 anybody? That was right in the middle of Reagan/Sr. Bush...

Actually SS was right earlier, Republicans (especially Reagan) over the past 70 years have never balanced the bidget. Reagan was one of the biggest debtors, as his supply-side theories didn't generate enough "trickle'down" to make up the difference in government revenues. (Flawed Laffer curve anybody?).

The federal deficit grew the largest in the 1980's under the watch of Reagan.

You're being really vague with GDP comments here. Have you looked at historic GDP numbers before? Held in constant year-2000 dollars, the GDP has steadily increased over time. The only abberations were the great depression, and 1973-1975. Even in those situations, the GDP only stagnated. The GDP has consistently showed gains over the long term.

Here's a fun article from an organization that you might even respect:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg1820.cfm

Justin, I see why you like talking in assumptions and platitudes, because they don't seem to be backed up by facts.

1. Federal spending has remained relatively constant over the years to GDP (within 3-4%) -- when it's been higher, it's been primarily due to Republican administrations.

2. GDP has seen real growth consistently over the years.

3. Federal debt has not "grown significantly" as you suggest, and Republicans have usually been the ones expanding the overall debt liability.

Again, I say: Your gloom and doom scenario does not pan out. The country is fine. You can go back to your iPod.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, on #1, that's a 3-4% "fluctuation" not a real percent.