Hamilton: Art Fails as Politics

Tuesday, January 17, AD 2017

 

The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.

Alexander Hamilton, “Examination of Jefferson’s Message to Congress of December 7, 1801” (1802)

 

 

 

 

I have rather liked the musical Hamilton, although I have understood that it bore only an accidental relationship to the history it purported to represent.  However, at Reason Nicholas Pell has a scathing review of Hamilton, and he makes some good points:

 

 

Some are irritated about the people who aren’t white playing white people, but I’m not. The whole production plays so fast and loose with the truth that it’s hard to pick any particular piece to criticize, there’s a reality correlation approximating that of the Weekly World News. At the top of the list, though, has to be casting Alexander Hamilton as some sort of proto-multicultural progressive. That’s either stupidity or mendacity, take your pick. Hamilton was, if anything, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers, the closest thing to a Colonial Tory. You know that electoral college you’ve been gnashing your teeth over for the last couple months? Guess whose idea that was?

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6 Responses to Hamilton: Art Fails as Politics

  • More (as if more were needed) proof that everything written or broadcast by a liberal is essentially untrue.

  • I hope nobody went to Hamilton to learn the history. But then, that’s my hope with most productions – which isn’t bad. As long as we know better, even the most twisted versions of history can be enjoyable. Just don’t get our info about the history from them.

  • Every author has an agenda, whether he realizes or not. Make sure that the author’s agenda is scrutinized by the audience. Life is too short to be seduced and succumb to nonsense. An example: author Ian Fleming, (James Bond) believed that all law was the “crystalization of man’s prejudice” I guess Ian Fleming did not believe that murderers ought to be punished and a person’s killing is OK…not

  • ” Life is too short to … succumb to nonsense” Amen

  • Though the author at Reason made a few fair points, he overshot the mark. His subjective dislike in the music is fine – I’m generally no fan of rap myself – but he comes off sounding as a crank. His politics aside, Miranda is artistically gifted, and the deeper you dive into the lyrics the more impressive his artistry becomes.

    I’ve gotten past most of the historical liberties, though “the Election of 1800” can be more difficult to overlook.

    The greater issue is Miranda doesn’t actually understand Hamilton’s political thought. As I wrote on my blog, Hamilton’s writing on immigration don’t sound all that dissimilar to Mark Krikorian’s. Meanwhile, one of the antagonists of the musical is Jefferson. For example, the old timey music that accompanies Jefferson – another subtle sign of Miranda’s artistic genius – is meant to signify Jefferson as being the one with outdated, old-fashioned ideas, yet it is Jefferson’s politics that line up more with Miranda’s than Hamilton.

    The final nail in the coffin is Miranda promising to play the part of Hamilton in the Chicago showing of the musical for Oscar Lopez Rivera. As i wrote on Facebook, I don’t think the man who was set to shoot rabble rousers during the Whiskey Rebellion would appreciate being the centerpiece of an exhibition meant to honor a convicted terrorist.

  • The only difference between acting and bigotry, is the expensive sets and the exorbitant pay of the actors.
    Timothy R.

Mark Shea, Pro-life and Religion as Politics

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2014

 

Mark Shea has taken his agree-with-me-on-these-issues-or-you-are-not-really-pro-life routine to the pages of the Jesuit rag America:

But weirdly, when the topic is not the unborn, many allegedly pro-life people often forget their wisdom. Result: on many issues ranging from war to torture to refugees to the death penalty, it is extremely common to run into people who are anti-abortion, but not pro-life.

And so self-identified pro-life people, in a solid majority, favored the launch of the Iraq War, despite the fact that it failed to meet a single criterion of Just War teaching, was sternly denounced by Pope John Paul II, warned of by the world’s bishops, and dismissed as folly by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who famously remarked that the “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and who warned that it would result in catastrophe—as the destruction of the Chaldean Church, the deaths of at least 100,000 people and the transformation of Iraq into chaos eloquently attests.

..
Relatedly, self-identified pro-life Christians supported, in greater percentages than the general U.S. population, the use of torture against prisoners. Indeed, along with Evangelicals, self-identified pro-life Catholics may constitute the single most enthusiastic supporters of torture in American public life. This is despite the fact that the church describes torture as gravely and intrinsically immoral—exactly the same terms in which she describes abortion.

Similarly, the death penalty is sometimes treated as an issue in which the church’s guidance to inflict the punishment only if absolutely necessary is rejected on the theory that God “commands” rather than reluctantly permits the death penalty. Some even go so far as to declare the church, not merely entitled to an opinion from which they dissent, but actually “wrong” and work to execute as many victims as possible.

Finally, there is the strange spectacle of some Catholics opposing pre-natal help for low income women (thus increasing the likelihood of abortion for poor families who fear they cannot afford another child) and the even stranger spectacle of self-identified pro-life people brandishing guns and screaming for desperately poor refugee children from Central America to be sent back to the extreme dangers of rape, sex slavery and murder.

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30 Responses to Mark Shea, Pro-life and Religion as Politics

  • I guess Shea also needs to re-define “illegal immigrant” into “refugee.” Otherwise he is not supported by JP II:

    “Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants.”

    “4. When no solution is foreseen, these same institutions should direct those they are helping, perhaps also providing them with material assistance, either to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country.”

    Now if they were real refugees escaping Central America and “the extreme danger of rape, sex slavery and murder…” then international law is quite clear that Mexico should have taken in these “refugees.” But they were no such thing. They were illegal immigrants encouraged by lax enforcement of just laws. Of course Shea needs to redefine the term as “refugees” otherwise he is not consistent with Church teaching. Now I thought he was against such word play.

  • I also thought (though am willing to be corrected on this point) that he initially supported the invasion of Iraq.

  • Oh, that is correct. Shea later turned against the War when no WMD’s allegedly were found. (They actually were found, but that is another post.)

    http://www.mark-shea.com/jwd.html

  • Mark Shea’s absolutism excommunicates so many from the church of Mark Shea it may have a membership of one. But not to worry, if individuals somehow fit through the eye of the needle in agreeing with him on those points he will find others to toss them out.

  • He of rural Washington context ( no crime to encounter ) actually gave me the laugh of the morning …does Romans 13:4 from the Holy Spirit sound like reluctant death penalty to anyone who is not doing mushrooms from Oaxaca…..” not without reason does it carry the sword…it is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil”. So very very filled with sensitive reluctance and indecision….and Jesuitical feminized theologizing. Then Shea quotes a very unfortunate passage of Benedict in which Benedict seems to see the catechism as something inerrant on preventive war and a catechism removed from Benedict who oversaw its editing….lol. Pope Benedict didn’t believe the herem of the Old Testament were ordered by God ( Verbum Domini,42). And all Christians prior to the historico-critical school did believe they were from God. And people now who notice that Christ predicted the worst one….70AD….know that God brings them about actively…not through karma.

  • I once had a tangle with Mr. Shea over the issue of waterboarding. It left a rather bad taste with me.

    Let me start by pointing out that many people assume that any torture involving water is waterboarding. James Bradley had a photo of an American soldier using water torture on a Filipino insurgent in his book The Imperial Cruise: The Secret History of Empire and War; the caption read that the Filipino was being waterboarded. The movie Zero Dark Thirty had a ‘waterboarding’ scene in which the victim spits up a significant amount of water. This is inaccurate – there is no ingestion of water in waterboarding. Senator John McCain has stated that in World War II, the United States military hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war – again this is inaccurate, the Japanese used methods that were much more invasive than waterboarding.

    Point #2, and the most critical one, is that waterboarding is not torture under U.S. law. Why? Because it is used by the U.S. military in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training. U.S. law prohibits the torture of its military personnel during its training. At some point in the past a decision was made in the SERE curriculum development that waterboarding did not constitute torture, and so could be used in training. It may have involved legal hairsplitting, but the precedent was made.

    Point #3 is that it is hard to say that waterboarding is not torture. One of Bush’s Assistant Attorney Generals [sorry, forgot who] and writer Christopher Hitchens both supported waterboarding of al-Qaeda bigwigs, volunteered to be subjected to it so they could defend it’s use, and changed their minds after being subjected to it. My opinion is that I would hate to see the SERE program lose whatever benefit waterboarding gives to the ability of our military personnel to resist torture, but that loss would be outweighed by reclassifying it to be torture under U.S. law and ending this controversy.

    None of this history mattered to Mark Shea. He believes he is entitled to his own facts: U.S. law prohibits torture, waterboarding is torture, therefore waterboarding is prohibited. I pointed out this history to him online; he ignored my conclusion – which was basically in agreement with his conclusion – and he proceeded to rip me a new bodily orifice. You see, he wants the defenders of waterboarding to be evil men deserving of his ire, and not ordinary men under pressure who grasped onto a legal precedent created for other circumstances. He could have defended himself with a “Thanks for the history Tommie, but it is obviously torture, so the Bush guys shouldn’t have grabbed that precedent”, but he didn’t. He responded with “You’re another supporter of torture”, because my sin was to not agree with his labeling.

    I’ve written this before: if I were to write Mark Shea’s epitaph, it would read “Here lies Mark Shea, Catholic writer. No man was ever so wrong about so many right things than he

  • I’m pro-innocent life, just like I’m anti-unjust war.

  • Shea’s a demokrat party operative masquerading as a Catholic crank.

  • BTW, when it comes to “Render unto Caesar…” I particularly like the words of Soviet dissident Sister Nijole Sadunaite, who told her judges “What is due to Caesar is but the remains of that due to God”

  • Mark is an interesting case study in someone who attempts to turn his religion into his politics.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps a case study in how we get to be caricatures of ourselves as we age (except in his case the act is not the least bit amusing).

  • I once had a tangle with Mr. Shea over the issue of waterboarding. It left a rather bad taste with me. .

    Gosh, no kidding.

    “Torture” or capital sentencing or proper responses to illegal immigration or disaster relief in New Orleans or the utility of psychotropic medications. Different issues, same behavior.

  • “formerly a conservative”. Don, are you sure he was ever a conservative in the first place?!

  • “…on many issues ranging from war to torture to refugees to the death penalty, it is extremely common to run into people who are anti-abortion, but not pro-life.”

    “Indeed, along with Evangelicals, self-identified pro-life Catholics may constitute the single most enthusiastic supporters of torture in American public life.”

    “Some even go so far as to declare the church, not merely entitled to an opinion from which they dissent, but actually ‘wrong’ and work to execute as many victims as possible.”

    “Finally, there is the strange spectacle of some Catholics opposing pre-natal help for low income women…”

    I never realized what a true idiot Shea was until reading this!

  • “One of Bush’s Assistant Attorney Generals [sorry, forgot who] and writer Christopher Hitchens both supported waterboarding of al-Qaeda bigwigs, volunteered to be subjected to it so they could defend it’s use, and changed their minds after being subjected to it.”

    Ok. Here is the problem that I have with water boarding being called “torture.”
    1. Does the person experience physical pain?

    2. Is there any permanent physical damage done?

    3. What is it specifically that makes this torture (supposedly?)

  • ProLife by the numbers: [feel free to add any other category with number of victims and/or dead]

    Persons lynched in the history of the United States: 5000; but let’s err on the side of questioning history and say 100,000; add whatever number you like for beatings, torture etc not resulting in death

    Persons dying of hunger each year in the United States: a few thousands, but let’s go with 100,000 [this is way outlandish]

    Persons tortured in the US and/or by US officials each year: supply your own number-mine is 10,000 -no basis for this

    Persons executed since the death penalty reinstatement: about 2000, but let’s go with 4000

    Persons killled by abortion, including RETA, daily in the United States: 3500-4000.

    Persons killed by abortion since Roe in the US: approx 56,000,000

    Minority members victims of abortion since Roe [Black + Hispanic]: approx 29,000,000

    Mothers of minority abortion victims: less than 1/3 total population

    RETA = Racial Eugenic Targeted Abortion

    Guy McClung, San Antonio

  • Here is a military-doctrine/economy of force analogy to Shea’s and all liberals’ ineffectual pro-life positions. It’s like ordering an infantry division against the enemy’s drummer boys while ignoring the infantry.

    Every soldier knows that in a fight you must first destroy the heaviest weapons shooting at you.

  • Is there an ounce of sympathy for the soldier on the Bataan Death march who has his appendix ripped out on a dirty trail? How about beautiful young Harold John Smith who fought in VN and was literally burned to death after being put on point during one of the war’s fiercest battles? War is hell. Abortion is hell! Who started these wars. We react. Who forced abortion on demand on us. Who has not been as strong as they should have been during this last 40 years? A very liberal church. A church infested with vermin who have robbed this church of billions of dollars to cover their deviant behavior, while Catholic schools are forced to close by the thousands. Give me a break. I am so sick of the two faces of blather. The entire congress of this country is overwhelmingly “Christian” and this is what we have to deal with. CINO(Christian in name only) to get themselves a few pukey votes at the expense of millions. Oh now, Billy Graham “advisor” to all the presidents speaks out about abortion on demand. Do you ever hear a word out of Joyce Meyer’s mouth as she is preaching to thousands in the big arena’s about action. I haven’t heard one word about IsIs or what is happening in Iraq and Syria and wherever about the persecution of and praying for Christians suffering so at any Mass I have attended in the last 6 mo . I am sick of getting the “Diocesan” newspaper and reading about the bishops dog! Good God Almighty, people I might be a measly farmer but even I can see that most “catholics” are reading these rags and that is why they know nothing of the real truths of the faith. Someone better tell the pope and a few of these other ding dongs that someone will be held accountable for this diabolic (confusion) of the faith that they are perpetrating. People are so mixed up.

  • Comment of the week Jeanne! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • Mark Shea needs to be locked up in the Octagon with Chris Ferrara, Texas Death Match style.

  • “Sam the Eagle sounds like Yoda.”

    Hmmm, I have never seen them in the same room together. Sam, have you been holding out on us?

  • ‘Enhanced interrogation techniques’ which included waterboarding were widely used on terrorist suspects (both republican and loyalist) in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, mostly by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the interrogation of suspects was seen as a police rather than an army responsibility). Many of these interrogations were carried out at the Castlereagh detention centre by teams of detectives specially trained in such techniques. Following a campaign by Amnesty International the European Commission ruled that this constituted torture, but following an appeal by HMG the European Court of Human Rights downgraded this to ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’. The adverse publicity led to its being discontinued, although it had had some success in eliciting confessions which were not later retracted in court.

    The paramilitaries themselves routinely tortured (in a much cruder way) those whom they suspected of being informers although ironically PIRA had ‘traitors’ at the highest level – it has recently emerged that one of its most senior figures agreed to act as a government agent in return for escaping prosecution for sexual offences against children.

    The point is that fighting terrorism is a dirty business since the adversary acts without legal or moral constraints whereas the authorities must be seen to act within the law. One man’s ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ are another man’s ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’ and a third man’s ‘torture’.

  • “One man’s ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ are another man’s ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’ and a third man’s ‘torture’.”

    This is my point exactly.

    I have never had to use physical force in my entire adult life on another person. And I have been in some very stressful, threatening situations. If I ever decide that physical force is necessary–it will not be pretty.

    If I decided to torture someone physically, no one would have to question wether or not it was torture.

    Amensty International has done some good things. However, they have also done some whacky things.

  • PS. The reason that I specified not using physical force in my “adult” life is because before I turned 21, I used some physical force on some folks. Lol

  • But they were no such thing. They were illegal immigrants encouraged by lax enforcement of just laws. Of course Shea needs to redefine the term as “refugees” otherwise he is not consistent with Church teaching. Now I thought he was against such word play.

    Nah, Mark is only against “Lying for Jesus” on minor, secondary issues of no real import, like abortion. When it comes to serious, unambiguous areas of the Faith like the moral imperative of giving amnesty to an unlimited number of illegal immigrants no matter what, he’s okay with it.

  • Deuce,
    Exactly, Shea considers breaking into a country illegally, stealing its resources, overwhelming it’s health and educational systems, and disturbing the peace of its legal citizens as simply a matter of not having the right “piece of paper”. Or as liberals like to classify them, the “undocumented”. When I pointed out to him the hypocrisy of his consequentialism, I was just deleted and banned.

  • “Shea’s a demokrat party operative masquerading as a Catholic crank.”

    No, actually, Mark Shea is a Paul-bot, as in Ron Paul disciple. Or, at least he was, a few years ago, when I got banned (he didn’t like being shown the absence of logic in his positions).
    I haven’t read him much in the past couple of years, so, maybe he’s changed.

  • Mark Shea needs to be locked up in the Octagon with Chris Ferrara, Texas Death Match style.

    Why Christopher Ferrara? Mr. Ferrara may be wrong on some issues and overly astringent on occasion. His viewpoint is not, however, largely reducible to irritable mental gestures.

  • when I got banned (he didn’t like being shown the absence of logic in his positions). –

    In my last attempt at conversing with him, he was in a state of rage against any countervailing opinion. Everyone’s remarks to that end were deleted.

  • Art, it was an attempt at humor. Ferrara is what Mr. McClarey calls him – a crank, but unlike Mark Shea, Ferrara has truth on his side.

17 Responses to Prudential Judgement

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  • The realm of conscience (properly understood) is coextensive with that of prudential judgment.

    As Newman says, “conscience is not a judgment upon any speculative truth, any abstract doctrine, but bears immediately on conduct, on something to be done or not done. ‘Conscience,’ says St. Thomas, ‘is the practical judgment or dictate of reason, by which we judge what hic et nunc is to be done as being good, or to be avoided as evil.’”

    He goes on to observe that “conscience cannot come into direct collision with the Church’s or the Pope’s infallibility; which is engaged in general propositions, and in the condemnation of particular and given errors.”

    All principles are general and all action is concrete and particular; it is prudential judgment that mediates between the two.

  • Catholic Democrats use “caring for the poor” as their reason to remain Democrats even though the Democrat Party is solely responsible for the continued murder of unborn babies now at 52,000,000 dead. And to “care for the poor” they support sinning against the 10th Commandment; they support “coveting their neighbors’ goods.” And Catholic Democrat legislators like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and DickDurbin are in the lead promoting that morally warped thinking which enables them to sin even more by “slandering their opponents” claiming they don’t care about the poor and want to “do them harm.” And that position enables the lay and clergy Catholic Democrats to commit “the sin of pride thinking they are ‘better,” i.e., morally superior, than their political opponents.

    I’m so glad the Holy Spirit led me out of that sinful party a long time ago. I have never heard anyone in the party I eventually joined ever speak and act that way towards Democrats. In fact, it is said the main difference between the two major parties is that “Democrats think Republicans are evil; Republicans just think the Democrats are wrong.”

    The Democrat Party survives on the psychological illness of “projection;” which is “the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people, especially the externalization of blame, guilt or responsibility as a defense against anxiety.”

  • This article helped me pinpoint something that I’ve been noodling over for awhile.

    You say that abortion is an intrinsic evil and therefore not subject to prudential judgment. I agree with the intrinsic evil part, but not necessarily the prudential judgment part. Let me explain.

    Most Catholics will agree that abortion is morally wrong because it kills a baby. However, if you were to ask those same Catholics whether abotion should be criminalized, I think a fair number of them (myself included) will balk at the idea. Why the discrepancy? If abortion is homicide (and it is: when I’m in my snarky moods I use the term feticide in its place) then the perpetrators should be penalized, should they not?

    Except… we live in a world where the popular culture and mainstream media are openly hostile to our point of view. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to anticipate that, if abortion were to be criminalized, there would be outright contempt of the law, and certain factions would be encouraging women to flaut the law in order to stick it to the man.

    So, if abortion is criminalized, we know that there will still be abortions taking place. But abortion, although much safer than it was at the turn of the last century, still has a complication rate. And, if abortion is criminalized, women who are suffering from post-abortion complications will hold off on seeking out medical attention for fear that they will be penalized. Infections will turn septic. It is hard to escape the conclusion that, if abortion is criminalized, women will needlessly die. Nobody wants to see that.

    So, is there not room in the Catholic Faith to say that how we deal with abortion is somewhat a prudential judgment?

  • Because abortion is an intrinsic evil, one cannot argue that it is good in some circumstances. So, for instance, although one might support efforts to ban abortion except in cases of rape and incest because one believed that was the best one could accomplish at the moment, one could not hold that abortion is okay in cases of rape and incest, because the principle of the dignity of human life holds regardless.

    Now, the argument I presented above was that because abortion is an intrinsic evil, one may never, though prudential judgement, come to hold as a Catholic that abortion is a “right”. From a Catholic understanding, one cannot have a right to do something which is always evil.

    One might (though I don’t) come to a conclusion that banning abortion in some particular time and place would cause more harm to the common good than not banning it. This would be analogous to Aquinas’ claim that banning prostitution (a commercial form of fornication, and thus also an intrinsic evil) caused more harm than good to society. However, I don’t tend to think that the argument that people would still get abortions and they would be less likely to seek treatment when there were complications is a good argument for not banning abortion. As the history of abortion rates in America shows us, abortion was far less common in America when abortion was illegal. The rate of women being injured in illegal abortions was also very low (contrary to exaggerated claims by abortion providing organizations such as Planned Parenthood.) I think it’s very hard to make the case that the small disincentive to seek treatment due to injuries suffered is worth failing to save the huge number of lives involved. Even by the most cautious estimates banning abortions would save hundreds of thousands of lives per year.

  • @melissa, you are right that the question of whether an intrinsically evil act should be criminalized is a matter of prudential judgment. Adultery is intrinsically evil but there are prudential reasons for not criminalizing it in today’s America. But in the case of abortion, at least two things should be considered. First, laws against abortion prior to Roe v. Wade did not criminalize mothers but abortionists. They closed down or prevented the opening of abortion mills. It would mean that Planned Parenthood would have to get licensed to and actually perform the mammograms with which the President and others erroneously credit them, instead of killing fetal babies.

    Second, current law makes it a right of mothers to have their babies ripped apart or poisoned while still in the womb, should they choose to do so. Repeal of the almost unlimited abortion license would leave it to the states to decide democratically what restrictions should be placed on such acts and what right such babies should have not to be killed. I would argue that law should recognize the same right not to be killed as it does for newborns or children or adults without discrimination. Even after repeal of Roe, I would still have to join with others to persuade fellow citizens of my state. Let the law be repealed and the debate begin!

  • I do not see how this can be said, “But abortion, although much safer than it was at the turn of the last century…”

    It is like saying, “But murder, although much safer than it was at the turn of the last century…”

    Furthermore, while a majority of women having abortions now survive the procedure while their offspring of course do not (that is the whole point), they are plagued with a variety of chronic physical and psychological problems that hardly make the procedure “safer”, the higher propensity towards breast cancer and depression being two of them.

    The wages of sin are always and everywhere death. There is no such thing as “safer” sin. The term is simply illogical.

  • Anyone who remembers France before the Veil Law of 1975 will know how criminalising abortion would work.

    Pretty well every village had its « faiseuse d’anges » or “angel maker.” Everybody knew it, nobody talked about it and the police considered it “women’s business” and ignored it. It was only when, occasionally, a woman died that the Parquet, like Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” declared themselves shocked, shocked to discover that such things went on and there was a brief flurry of prosecutions.

    Medical practitioners were never prosecuted; it was simply too easy for them to claim that they had simply performed a D & C to remove the placenta, after a spontaneous miscarriage.

    Finally, the offence was a mere « délit » tried before magistrates, as juries simply refused to convict

  • Thank God MPS that the entire world isn’t France.

  • “We shall go before a higher tribunal – a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as infinite justice, will preside, and where many of the judgments of this world will be reversed.” Thomas Meagher

  • Melissa raises a fair and important point. Just because something is intrinsically evil, even seriously so, does not necessarily mean that it should be criminalized. That question is generally one of prudence properly understood. Accordingly, I think that it is technically possible for a faithful Catholic to abhor abortion, concede its seriously evil nature, but nonetheless oppose its criminalization. That said, such a prudential conclusion would in my view require the prudential acceptance of certain factual assumptions that are probably pretty far-fetched.

    In addition, the prudential calculus to which Melissa refers rests with legislators informed by the will of the people, which will is in turn informed by their sense of moral gravity, life experience, practical culpabilty and appropriate punishment; not with federal courts discovering and announcing fabricated rights out of thin air.

    Finally, while Catholic teaching generally does not dictate how all governments should or must address intrinsic evils, it does emphasize that one of the first roles of any legitimate government is to protect the weak and innocent from violence and physical harm. No government can do this perfectly, no matter what laws it chooses to enact or enforce. But a pretty strong case can be made that criminalization of the intentional killing of unborn children, like born children, is not negotiable — at least as an aspirational goal.

  • The Catechism calls for the criminalization of abortion:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.””

  • Don,
    I do think that the Catechism leaves room for disagreement and uncertainty as to how best to bring civil law into conformity with its teachings. But without question supporting a contrived constitional right that disables legislatures from prudently pursuing that conformity is unconscienable for Catholics. This is why the professed Catholicity of Biden, Pelosi et al is a scandal.

  • Mike Petrik wrote, “In addition, the prudential calculus to which Melissa refers rests with legislators informed by the will of the people, which will is in turn informed by their sense of moral gravity, life experience, practical culpabilty and appropriate punishment; not with federal courts discovering and announcing fabricated rights out of thin air.”

    I absolutely agree. I should certainly like to see abortion criminalised, but, unless the law reflects public opinion, the best-crafted laws will remain a dead letter. Even the attempts of the Vichy government in 1943 to curb abortion by having cases tried by military tribunals and lopping off the head of Marie-Louise Giraud, a laundress who had performed 27 abortions and a typical “angel-maker,” were singularly ineffectual. The abortion rate shy-rocketed during the war years.

    Now Donald McClarey is right that the entire world isn’t France, but I fancy that the attitude to abortion that existed in France before 1975 has become much commoner throughout the West. It certainly has in my native Scotland, where, even amongst the poorest class there was an unreflective but powerful assumption that “Once you’re pregnant, that’s it – It’s your baby.”

  • Thanks, Michael. I agree that laws that do not reflect social consensus are usually problematic, though perhaps not always. Federal civil rights laws were certainly enforced on parts of America where they did not reflect majority opinion. Nonetheless, public opinion eventually followed in part because the law has some teaching effect. That said, laws that are forced onto a community that disagrees with those laws often lead to backlash or other unintended consequences. It is precisely the unpredictable nature of social response to laws that generally make them an exercise in prudence.

    I take a back seat to no one in regard to my pro-life views. Yet, I am willing to acknowledge the possiblity of faithful Catholics disagreeing with questions pertaining to how far how fast. This does not mean that I accept at face value the assertions of those Catholics who dismiss the pro-life movement as imprudent while claiming “personally pro-life.” With rare exception this is lying nonnsense. In truth these people simply don’t care much about the murder of unborn children notwithstanding their protestations to the contrary.

  • The quote from the catechism, that Don McClarey kindly pointed us to, teaches a most important principle which should, perhaps, be more clearly stated: it is deadly for the state to carve out a subset of society which is to be denied the most fundamental right to life, even if this is to avoid most serious inconvenience. That way lies gas chambers. The outcome of legalized abortion is this, that I, at 69 years of age, know how I will die. I will be murdered. There will come a time when it is seriously inconvenient for society to keep me alive. Making life a discretionary choice of another allows no defensible distinction between the fetus and the geezer. Even if a law against abortion is largely unenforceable, maintaining the principle that life is not subject to discretionary choice is the only protection that any of us have when we cause inconvenience.

  • Sirlouis

    The case of euthanasia is very instructive. In the Netherlands, the legalisation of euthanasia in 2002 was generally recognised as the legal recognition of what had been the practice of doctors and prosecutors for twenty years, going back to the Postma case in 1973. Indeed, the Postma case itself reflected what doctors had already been doing discreetly, with the support of patients’ families and of a large number of the leaders of public opinion.

    The law of 2002 was a (largely futile) attempt to regulate what was already happening on the ground.

    In other words, legislative changes tend to be symptoms not causes of changes in public attitudes.

    Michael Petrik

    The Fifteenth Amendment, which had rusted in idleness for nearly 90 years, proved a very useful weapon when public opinion in the country at large invigorated the Federal government to enforce it.

The Reality Gap

Monday, October 1, AD 2012

We’ve reached the point in the election where the press decides to mostly report on how the election is being perceived rather than on any particular events, and since the president is doing well in the polls this results in a lot of “desperate Republicans do foolish things” stories. The flavor of the week seems to be the media’s discovery that somewhere out there in the right-leaning internet, there are people who have made a hobby of “re-weighting” polls in order to reflect what the re-weighters think is a more likely partisan composition of the electorate come election day.

There is, yes, a certain sad desperation about this. Now that election reporting is often more about “the race” than about issues or events, being behind in the race is crippling and so people come up with way to try to explain it away. Those with long memories (eight years counts as long in our modern age) may recall that when Bush was so rude as to be ahead of Kerry in the 2004 race, Michael Moore and those like-minded rolled out a theory that all the polls were wrong because an army of voters who only used cell phones and not land lines (and thus couldn’t be polled) were out there ready to vote against Bush.

However, just as everyone’s getting ready to announce that Republicans, in their constant flight from the “reality based community” have decided they don’t believe in polling, we find out that the left has its own reality problem: They’re convinced that the economy has been getting better over the last couple months, despite the fact there’s little reason to believe this. Gallup and the Pew Research Center both have data out showing that Democrats’ opinions of the economy and the job market have suddenly started improving, despite almost universally bad news over the last several months.

As you can see, partisan affiliation wasn’t much of a dividing factor in assessments of the economy a year ago, but now that a bad economy might mean President Obama not being re-elected, Democrats obediently come to the conclusion that the economy really isn’t that bad. According to Pew, the same divide now exists on the job market, consumer prices, the financial market, real estate, and even gas prices. You would think that at least people could agree on what the level of gas prices is, but no, apparently not, though the gap is narrower there than elsewhere: 89% of Republicans say they hear mostly bad news about gas prices while 65% of Democrats do.

The trope goes that you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. However, as the political divide has become wider and more entrenched opposite sides increasingly do have their own facts, as reality become filtered through a partisan lens.

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8 Responses to The Reality Gap

  • The polls have tightened now that we are in October. In one day the poll average has fallen from 4.0 advantage Obama to 3.2 advantage Obama on the Real Clear Politics Average:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html

    This happens almost every presidential election cycle. A cynic might observe that the closer we get to election day the more that pollsters want their polls to be accurate.

    As for some of the wilder polls that we saw in September showing Democrat turnout in states highers than 2008, the best election for Democrats since 1964, Jay Cost explains why they were bogus:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/morning-jay-are-polls-tilted-toward-obama_653067.html?nopager=1

  • As for the economy, it takes a special type of mindset to view it and not regard it as a disaster. I can barely understand someone thinking that Obama has done a bad job but Romney would do worse so they are sticking with Obama, but to deny the evidence before their eyes, what we have all been living through the past four years, is simply delusional.

  • Here are two answers to skewed polls: “Caller ID” and “voice mail.”

    About 91% (see Instapundit post) of us that have caller ID and see a number we don’t know let the call go to voice mail; the lying liberal poll organization hangs up; and we delete it. I let it happen about six times a day.

  • Certainly, I hope that Rasmussen has been more accurate overall than a lot of the one-off polls, and I can believe that polling is tricky because it’s likely to be a low turn out election where victory relies primarily on who shows up to vote — but I think the efforts to do amateur poll re-weighting based on party affiliation are, while well intentioned, kind of silly. Party identification is one of the things you seek to measure in the poll, not one of the things you should weight it by. If you get way too many people of one party, that may indicate your sample is bad. But polls should only be re-weighted to fit non-changing demographics (sex, income, age, race) not changing demographics like party identification.

    That said, I have a certain sympathy, at least, with the desire to fight the polls. Polling is necessarily imprecise and hard to understand, and it’s used far too often as a way to shape the vote. Insisting that the economy took a sudden turn for the better during the late summer, on the other hand, is fairly crazy.

  • Regarding the polls, I agree that Rasmussen is probably the best but even he is using a D+3 model which is why Obama is coming out on top in his calculations. Do people really believe that the democrats will have that much of an advantage on election day? Sorry – I’m not buying it. If Romney holds on to the independents, and the republican/conservative/libertarian/tea party people come out in big numbers and draw even with the democrats, which I think is very likely, than Romney wins. Better yet, if they match the 2010 election which was a R+1, then Romney wins comfortably. Even if you bring it down to a D+1, Romney still wins. Why don’t they start presenting polls that reflect this possibility? I would like the media to say: People, this is what we think will happen if the turnout is D+3, D+2, D+1, even, R+1, etc., etc. Some honesty from them would be refreshing.

  • I think what you neglect in all the controversy about polls is some problems with the sampling frames not as severe in previous years:

    1. Low response rates generally.

    2. Difficulties in contacting people who lack landlines.

    3. Variable methods among pollsters which produce divergent results (manifest now in a way it was not thirty years ago).

    4. Odd and novel biases in propensity to respond (manifested in exit polls eight years ago).

    And, yes, the curious partisan balance in some published polls is an indication there could be problems with the sampling method used. We are not going to find out how serious the problems have been for another month.

  • I wonder how much the local job market colors these responses, especially with various industries doing better/worse. Prior to leaving Seattle, things seemed ok (not great, not horrible) with regard to employment (aerospace was ramping up). Here in Waco, things seem better. Heck, we are having a hard time filling new positions at my current employer. On top of that, the local politics are very different too.

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Tax Dishonesty

Tuesday, August 7, AD 2012

I’ve been listening to music via Pandora a lot recently (while writing) and the result is that although I’ve been hearing more than my usual share of political ads. (Since I don’t watch television or listen to commercial radio, I’m normally exempt from these despite living in Ohio.)

One thing that particularly struck me is the rampant dishonesty in regards to tax policy that’s going around, in part due to the both party’s bad habit of making tax breaks look more affordable by enacting them only for short terms, thus necessitating frequent renewal.

The first bone of contention is the “Bush tax cuts”. These tax cuts, which affected taxpayers all across the income spectrum, are estimated to have a “cost” of $3.3 Trillion over ten years (this “cost” is the combination of foregone theoretical tax revenues and the cost of servicing the debt resulting from federal spending not going down by a similar $3.3 Trillion.) Democrats like to refer to the “Bush tax cuts” as “tax cuts for the rich” and to quote the full “cost” of $3.3 Trillion as being the cost of those cuts. What this ignores is that two thirds of that $3.3T actually went to what President Obama refers to as the middle class (families making less than $250,000 per year.) So while it’s true that the “Bush tax cuts” had a “cost” of “over three trillion dollars”, the attacks against this ignore the fact that two thirds of that total is “tax cuts for the middle class” which Democrats support.

Just to make it even more confusing, Democrats like to call extending the Bush tax cuts “massive tax cuts for the rich”, despite the fact it is simply an extension of tax rates which have already been in place for some time. Republicans, on the other hand, like to refer the potential expiration of the tax cuts as a “massive tax increase.” This is accurate, to the extent that people would indeed experience their taxes going up, but it ignores the inconvenient fact that Republicans wrote the tax cut in such a way as to expire (in order to avoid having to make hard budget decisions to ‘pay for’ the tax cut.)

As if one set of expiring tax cuts that everyone talks about in different ways were not confusing enough, there’s also the Obama payroll tax cut: a cut of 2% in the payroll tax that pays for Social Security. This was never meant to be a permanent tax cut, but rather a short term economic stimulus. Social Security has financial problems to begin with, it doesn’t help to make a significant cut in its funding. (And that’s ignoring the fiction that the money you put into Social Security is the money you’re get out again.)

However, even though both parties have signaled that they’re essentially willing to let the temporary payroll tax cut expire at the end of this year (though both parties hope to see this done as part of a broader overhaul of taxes suited to their own priorities) that hasn’t stopped some commentators and advertisers from characterizing Republican support for letting the cut expire as “a tax increase on the middle class”.

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6 Responses to Tax Dishonesty

  • We are running 1.6 trillion deficits annually and we think taking 330 billion out of the private sector is going to improve things? Let me see real cuts in spending, say 1.3+ trillion annually, and I will accept a tax hike. i

  • “I can be influenced by what seems to me to be justice and good sense; but the class war will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.” – John Maynard Keynes

    We are all “Keynesians.”

  • Here’s a metaphor (I think from Ron Paul).

    You arrive home and find that the septic system has backed up and is filling the living room.

    It’s about six-feet deep (eight-foot ceiling).

    What do you do? Obama will raise the ceiling. He’s done it before.

  • Let me see real cuts in spending, say 1.3+ trillion annually, and I will accept a tax hike.

    That would be north of a third of current annual federal expenditures. Again,

    1. About 12% of current expenditures are devoted to debt service; you do not want to experiment with stiffing bondholders;

    2. Around about 35% or so of current expenditures are devoted to benefits for the elderly and disabled, who have a limited capacity to adjust to changes in financial circumstances.

    3. Around 3.5% are devoted to veterans’ benefits. Taking a cleaver to these would be less than tasteful at this time.

    4. Close to 25% are devoted to military expenditures, reduction in which are the occasion of some skepticism in Republican circles.

    The sum remaining is less than the $1.3 tn you want to cut.

    People need to think this through.

  • The numbers in this article are not what I’ve come across. More middle class people were affected. Each saving small amounts. Fewer rich were affected, yet saved great amounts. This is due to two facts. First, there are more middle class people. Second, most of the money is made by a small number of rich.

  • Proteios1,
    Seems like you are getting bad information. Feel free to post a link.

Sometimes I Feel Like Sarah Connor

Saturday, June 30, AD 2012

I have to remind myself sometimes to refrain from immersion in current events, politics, and social issues because I swell up with machine-like resolve and start thinking of myself as a Sarah Connor, the fictional mom in the Terminator films who transformed from a timid victim to a hardened warrior on the verge of losing touch with her own humanity. She knew Judgement Day was coming, and her son would have to fight evil mightily. She knew she had to prepare and protect him.

I don’t think I’m the only mom that conjures up such an image. We lay awake at night wondering what kind of battles our children will face as adults. Will they lose faith? Will they be hurt? Will they be warriors? Will they be martyrs? Will they be ready? Are we doing enough to take a stand as Catholics? No kidding, there are nights when I feel compelled to rise and do chin-ups on the door frame to flex some muscle (though I’d faint after three).

I have learned, instead, to pray. As awful as I may think some current events are, this world still belongs to God. If I believe that Christ healed the sick, commanded demons, and died and rose for the salvation of souls, then in faith I need to guard against despair and overwhelming ferocity. Remember what the centurion in Capernaum said to Jesus when he wanted his servant to be healed? He had great faith. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” He also had humility. That last part reminds me of St. Francis’ advice, “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”

Surely in some ways we do need to become a legend among the resistance, to warn that humanity is doomed to self-destruction if they don’t listen, and to store up a proverbial cache of weapons for our children if there is a rise of the machines; but mostly what we need to do is to accept the graces and abundances offered now in this time of our own lives. We do need to fight, but we can’t let ourselves become so steeled we forget we are human.

Even so, I wouldn’t mind having her deltoids, and I admit I rather like imagining myself standing strong with a steady gaze across the landscape as I prepare to defend and inspire my children, but without the cigarette and Commando rifle.

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13 Responses to Sometimes I Feel Like Sarah Connor

  • Lose the cigarette, but keep the rifle. 🙂

    Good column, Stacy.

  • I just asked my wife, but she said no. She doesn’t feel like Sarah O’Connor. But sometimes I feel kind of like a male version…

  • We shape the future as parents:

    “Sarah Connor: Reese. Why me? Why does it want me?
    Kyle Reese: There was a nuclear war. A few years from now, all this, this whole place, everything, it’s gone. Just gone. There were survivors. Here, there. Nobody even knew who started it. It was the machines, Sarah.
    Sarah Connor: I don’t understand.
    Reese: Defense network computers. New… powerful… hooked into everything, trusted to run it all. They say it got smart, a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination.
    Sarah Connor: Did you see this war?
    Kyle Reese: No. I grew up after. In the ruins… starving… hiding from H-K’s.
    Sarah Connor: H-K’s?
    Kyle Reese: Hunter-Killers. Patrol machines built in automated factories. Most of us were rounded up, put in camps for orderly disposal.
    [Pulls up his right sleeve, exposing a mark]
    Kyle Reese: This is burned in by laser scan. Some of us were kept alive… to work… loading bodies. The disposal units ran night and day. We were that close to going out forever. But there was one man who taught us to fight, to storm the wire of the camps, to smash those metal mothers into junk. He turned it around. He brought us back from the brink. His name is Connor. John Connor. Your son, Sarah, your unborn son.”

  • You may recall that in the second Terminator movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg has switched sides and is now trying to SAVE John and Sarah Connor from being killed by a different, more advanced cyborg (with the ability to turn into liquid metal and other cool special effects) programmed to kill them.

    Now, here is a comedy sketch from “Mad TV” — a fake “trailer” for a movie called “The Greatest Action Story Ever Told” — in which Arnold goes back in time to save Jesus from being crucified! It’s actually, in my opinion, pretty funny because Jesus keeps trying to explain to the Terminator that he’s SUPPOSED to die for the sins of mankind, but Ahnold doesn’t listen (where have we heard that story before?):

  • Although this is a comedy sketch, I think it does have some relation to the topic of this post, in that as much as we WANT to save our children from all suffering and hardship, we cannot and should not.

  • Although this is a comedy sketch, I think it does have some relation to the topic of this post, in that as much as we WANT to save our children from all suffering and hardship, we cannot and should not.
    How will our children know that we love them?

  • The Judas shootings scene was very funny. Thanks for the laugh.

    As to the subject of the post, I am interested in Colonial and Revolutionary War history and have often considered the reactions of fathers and sons as the world began to spin out of control.

    Colonials knew That the English had not dealt kindly with rebels, particularly commoners. Would-be patriots certainly expected that, unless they won, the English would have punished them mightily.

    I like to think I would have set aside my interests to join what must have seemed to be an almost hopeless cause. It was probably easier to do if one didn’t have a wife and children that would be exposed by one’s action.

    I was 17 when I joined the Navy. At some level I knew I was exposing myself to harm. It was a subject that came up on occasion. It seemed remote though, something that happened to other people. Bravado alone made it easy to say that death was nothing to fear.

    I’m sure many Colonials felt the same, sitting with their mates in a tavern, drinking and singing, it must have been easy for them to damn King George and bravely call out the English army. How for the men with families, crops, shops full of wares, babies on the way, and ailing parents?

    My guess is that men in my position feared war, not for their sake but for those that God put in their charge. And yet they exposed all of that for a cause that must have seemed, at times, hopeless. What kind of men were these? Would I have been one of them? I like to think so but, looking at my bright-eyed and innocent 5 year old, I’m not sure.

    So pray, pray, pray… Not that you will be willing to lay down your life, but the lives and safety of those for whom you are responsible if God calls for it.

  • “How for the men with families, crops, shops full of wares, babies on the way, and ailing parents?”

    Many of them saw service during the war as militia. During the war about 100,000 men saw service in the Continental Army and about 250,000 saw service as militia called out to fight. Fairly impressive for an adult male population of less than a million.

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

  • I do sometimes feel like Sarah Connor, especially when you try to talk to people about things happening in this country and the world, or when you try to talk about what the Catholic Church teaches on moral issues. Many look at you like you’re crazy. They don’t want to see anything, hear anything and they will not speak up and defend anything.

    This part of Mr McClarey’s comment: “Reese: Defense network computers. New… powerful… hooked into everything, trusted to run it all. They say it got smart, a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination” is very interesting. Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it?

    I can’t do much of the physical stuff, but I can speak up and pray and try to live my life like Christ wants us to. Yes, I am a member of the “Church Militant”!

  • I think the willingness to give over one’s children affects number of religious too.

    It is easier to give over a son or daughter to the religious life if you have nine kids than it is when you have one. There is a calculation to be made in how encouraging we are for those entering the religious life. There is a question for most of us on how much sacrifice we are willing to bear. When you have only one son, it is harder to imagine him becoming a priest than when you have five. When you have two children, it is harder to encourage a daughter to enter the religious life.

    I suspect that no small part of God’s plan is letting Him control the number of kids we have. This is probably true, at least in part, because our having children is an essential first step to His evangelization.

  • I very much liked the Patriot Don. Heck, I liked something about every Mel film I’ve seen.

    Satan worked powerful hard to render his talents impotent.

  • We could use more Sarah Connors – men and women, kids and even old ladies in nursing homes who pray. We can chooser to fight on many fronts with whatever gifts and insights we have been given. lLike Churchill’s often quoted comment about all the places we will fight– we have to fight socially, culturally, Spiritually and even physically

    “not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

  • I’m not sure that, even after all of our fervent prayers and peaceful political action, the Church will not need Sarah and Sam Connors if the current persecution of the Catholic Church continues. We are really only a couple big steps away from the situation the Cristeros found themselves in before they had to fight for their right to worship. Our beliefs are being singled out for elimination by the secularists in society. Remember, we don’t know what God will need us for or when.:-) I guess I’ll be getting in a couple pull-ups and some aerobics, and stay vigilant while praying and remaining forthright in insisting on the right to our beliefs. That’s what I see in Sarah Connor — an understanding of the enemy she faces and vigilance. We just need to be equally vigilant about expressing our joy in the Lord and in the wonderful life He’s given us. We need to keep our humanity and love.

Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

Wednesday, May 30, AD 2012

SHOCKER: Teens need their mothers. Mothers can help their daughters. Even in crisis.

There’s an article forthcoming in the journal Economic Inquiry by Professors of Economics, Joseph Sabia and Daniel Rees, that shows parental notification or consent laws are associated with a 15 to 25 percent reduction in suicides committed by 15- through 17-year-old women. The researchers analyzed National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data collected from 1987 to 2003 and found results that are consistent with the hypothesis that laws requiring parental involvement increase the “expected cost of having unprotected sex,” and, consequently, protect the well-being of young females. (Hey, they’re economists.)

Here’s the reasoning, taken from this paper by the same authors.

  • Researchers have already found, using state-level data from 1981 through 1998, that parental involvement laws reduced teen gonorrhea rates 12 to 20 percent among teen females. (Klick and Strattman, 2008)
  • Other recent studies provide evidence that female adolescents who become sexually active at an early age are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression. (Hallfors et al. 2004; Sabia and Rees 2008)
  • Research has shown that multiple sex partners increased the likelihood of substance abuse. (Howard et al. 2004)
  • It is also been found that adolescent females who had multiple sex partners were 10 times more likely to develop the symptoms of major depression than those who remained abstinent. (Hallfors et al. 2005)
  • There was no evidence of a similar relationship between male multiple partners and adolescent depression. (Hallfors et al. 2005)

So the hypothesis is: If parental involvement laws discourage minors from risky lifestyles that affect their physical health, then they would promote emotional health of teenage females as well. Analyzing suicide rates will give an indication since there have been many studies that link depression and suicide. The national suicide data was analyzed and that’s exactly what they found – a supporting correlation. Parental involvement laws correlate with fewer suicides. Further in support, there was no evidence of a similar relationship among male adolescents, and no correlation between parental involvement laws and suicide for older women because, well, neither group would be affected by those laws.

Makes sense, right? You’re probably thinking, “Did we need to pass those laws, wait and see what happened, and then count suicides?” No, we didn’t, and there’d be at least some justice if the people opposing those laws would take notice.

You’d think someone who really cares about women would be able to take an objective view of this data and consider it as an appeal to our collective conscience. You’d think someone who parrots, “Trust Women!” would be consistent enough to also trust mothers who are raising teens. When the state comes between teens and their parents, it just follows that the adolescents will not be as close to their parents as they ought to be.

This only affirms what we already know. Parents of teen girls can be trusted – should be trusted for the psychological benefit of a daughter in crisis. The abortion advocate community doesn’t seem as concerned about young women, though, as they are about politics and agendas. They instead say that people just want to make it harder for teens to have abortions, and that teens have a “fear of abuse” from unrelenting parents. Oh, and they’ll say something about how correlation doesn’t equal causation, revealing that they either are ignorant of analytical methods or, even worse, knowledgeable of them but dishonest when the results don’t fit their predetermined conclusions. Some will even say that teen women should be trusted to make their own decisions even when the decision for these desperate young women is to end their own lives. Of course, we all know why Planned Parenthood doesn’t want the parents involved. Ac$e$$ to abortion.

So I have a little hypothesis of my own. I predict (but would love to be proven wrong) that not a single abortion advocate will come forward and honestly reassess parental consent laws even though there is no body of data to support their premise. Could they admit that maybe, just maybe, the default condition is not that most parents of teens are abusive. Imagine!

If they trust women, why can’t they trust mothers and fathers? Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway? Perhaps there’s a cost associated with believing that a mother has the right to kill her own child in the womb, and that cost is faith in people to love their children unconditionally at any point in life, even during difficult times.

H/T:  Michael J. New at National Review

Image: Microsoft Powerpoint

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5 Responses to Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

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  • Informed sexual consent, legal maturity, begins at emancipation, like voting, driving a car and signing any kind of contract. All persons’ unalienable, endowed civil rights are held in trust for them by God, by their parents and finally by the state, in this order. A minor person becomes a ward of the court if their parents neglect or abuse their civil, unalienable rights. The court acts “in loco parentis” in the best interest of the child. A minor child, without legal informed sexual consent to give becomes pregnant. Because of her pregnancy, the court declares that the legally minor, un-emancipated pregnant child to be emancipated by the very proof that the child is a minor and incapable of making legal decisions for herself, or of giving informed sexual consent, or valid consent to any surgical operation. The court overrides any parental notification by legally kidnapping a minor child by making the minor, pregnant child a ward of the court by declaring the child emancipated by the fact of her pregnancy without proper notification of the child’s parents, who have a naturally vested legal interest in the child. The court does this to a child who may be pregnant and does so to abort the child’s parents’ grandchild.
    Overriding naturally vested parental rights entrusted to parents innocent of any proved wrongdoing is contrary to American jurisprudence and constitutes legal kidnapping by the state, false imprisonment and restraint.

  • A great post.

    “Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway?”

    I think maybe distrust of parents comes along with the strengthening of the “youth culture”. Maybe some of it comes from whole gnerations going to public schools and getting together with their peer posses. When they were educated at home things were a bit different and maybe mom and dad ‘s opinion had a stronger influence.

    Charles is in charge. Two year olds are in charge.
    The two First Children of the POTUS are in charge. What do you decide about gay marriage girls? Ok.

    Children are a target market; recognized at economic deciders in families. TV and movies are more and more juvenile because that is who the customers are.

  • To be fair, there are some appalling parents out there, and many girls who have abortions got into trouble in the first place because they didn’t have trustworthy parents. But.

    But for the pure and simple public health and safety of minors, parental consent needs to be secured for any kind of serious medical event, much less for abortion. If I were pro-choice, I’d want parents to at least have as much control over abortion as over teeth cleaning.

  • I think parents who prove that they can be trusted have children who trust them. I’ve seen people with open and loving relationships and it comes from parents willing to listen instead of lecturing. If you want that kind of relationship with your child that they will come to you, you need to be the kind of person that someone would want to go to for advice. Anyone, not just your child. If you have proven yourself to be judgmental, you cannot blame a child for not going to you for advice, or with their problems. after all, would YOU go to a friend with your problems if you knew rather than listen to you they were going to force their values on you rather than take yours into account?

A Real Job

Thursday, April 12, AD 2012

I’ve had it suggested that I write about motherhood a bit; be careful what you ask for.

 

….Yeah, I’m posting on that.  Some idiot talking head makes a slam at a grandmother with MS and everyone has to comment about it.  I think I have something worth saying, though, rather than just talking about it because it’s big.

 

I’m a stay at home mom.  A home-maker.  A house wife.

 

I have worked outside the home, before I got married, in a very similar field—I was a Petty Officer in the Navy, specializing in calibration. (Making sure things that measure are accurate enough.)  Before that, I was in another similar field, at least sort of—I was a ranch kid.

 

Perhaps some folks look at those things and are curious—what on earth is the connection between being a mother, working with cows and fixing stuff that’s used to fix planes and ships?

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11 Responses to A Real Job

  • My wife stayed home with the kids Foxfier until they were in highschool and now helps me out at the office while they are in school. (Our oldest is finishing up his sophmore year at the University of Illinois.) I have always thought that I work so that she can do the important work of the family in being the mom of our kids.

  • I have always thought that I work so that she can do the important work of the family in being the mom of our kids.

    Hey… maybe part of the problem is that “produce high quality adults” isn’t the main purpose of a family anymore? It’s about Husband and Wife, not Mom and Dad…. A sort of sister problem to the whole removing-reproduction-from-sex thing.

  • Donald: You have a blessed family.
    Foxfire: “It’s about Husband and Wife, not Mom and Dad…. A sort of sister problem to the whole removing-reproduction-from-sex thing.” The word “sex” is used to confound the difference between “love” and “lust”. Husband, wife, mom and dad are offices assumed through the exercise of free will, informed consent, and are vocations. Male and female refers to the human being’s gender. Man and woman are human beings composed of body and soul as created by God. To consider the sex of a person without considering the soul of a person is a crime. To place the wife and mom outside her vocation to which she has consented to in an act of free will is a violation of a person’s FREEDOM, a crime against who a wife and mom is as created by God. That Rosen presumes to know the heart of Ann Romney is plagiarism, jealousy. I just realized that the word jealousy ends in the word “lousy”. Rosen was being lousy. With family, husband, wife, children, one learns how to pray.

  • Found this:
    For thousands of years men were expected to provide for the household and women were expected to manage it. And in Memphis when I was growing up, most of the city commissions that actually ran the city were dominated by married women. There might be a figurehead man chairman, but everyone understood that the power rested with the commissioners, just about every one of them married, educated, and upper middle class. They had the time and interest to participate in self government. And of course most church committees and charitable functions were run by married women who had the time to participate in these associations. That’s not modern, of course. And surely we’re so much more civilized now and the children are so much more civilized since all that changed.

    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/jerrypournelle.c/chaosmanor/

  • There will be an extra bit of “oomph” in my intentions for you this Divine Mercy Sunday, FF.

    “The Mote In God’s Eye” is an all time classic, BTW.

  • This whole episode has made me so mad I just want to spit! I work full time and my husband stays home with the children. The very idea that staying with the children is not a ‘real job.’ The thought that my job is more important than raising children. How utterly insane the world has become. I can’t even put together a coherent thought.

    Foxfier, I like your phrase, sister problem. Well this attitude is a sister attitude to what I frequently find at work when having some child issue (like being tired after staying up all night with the baby). The attitude goes something like this, ‘It was your choice to have children, so it’s your own fault. If you don’t like being tired, you shouldn’t have had children.’ There is little empathy or perspective, just blame.

  • I stayed at home while my four kids were young. It was hard work, and we sacrificed the big house, the second car and many other luxuries for which I have no regret! I almost wanted to go back into the work force to get a little rest! But what I wanted even more was to be with and nurture my kids instead of daycaring them and barely affording the coverage. Lots of women in the mid to late 70?s and a little beyond still stayed home with their kids, as did all of the folks from my parents age group. “Stay at home Mom” should not now be a bad word. For those who can, God bless them- it is far better for your children! For those who cannot, God bless you as well; but please don’t be bitter and envious as some of these shrill women are.
    What is most stunning, is that the left consistently makes these ridiculously thoughtless and most often mean spirited statements, and never has to explain nor apologize for them!!!!

  • Foxfier—what is so important in your post is the recognition of the unity of the marriage, regardless of whether the mom works. We chose that my wife would “work” at the vocation of family friend, leader, spouse, mom, executive, etc. In so doing, probably like Don, I worked the heavy hours building a practice. There were many scary times along the way. I always find it interesting, as again in the judginess by the left, how a life dedicated to her family as with Mrs. Romney, a noble inspiring vocation, is viewed by polity in a snapshot rather than the video stream of what was, is and will be. It’s the same leftist view of the so called “rich.” The snapshot of what is now in an instant, not the life time of sacrifices, hard work, and purpose undertaken by many of the so called “rich” to achieve something for others.

    I can honestly remember growing up the normality of moms being home, and dads pouring themselves out to provide for the family. In post modernity, this is considered a defect. Strange times indeed.

  • I think Ms Rosen’s jab was a least in part motivated by class warfare– not only about whether or not working at home qualifies as “working”… some comments that I have read elsewhere are more about having the freedom to choose to stay home– which I know is always subject to what the values of the particular mom/dad are– some think they have to work when others would think they will cut back on their spending– but I do think class jealousy has something to do with the huge reaction.

  • You know as rich as Jackie Kennedy was, people were proud of her for having a job… the princesses of England are former schoolteachers etc– the class issue is at the bottom of it– the royal family of England knows it is important that the regular folks can identify with them

    Although lots of women don”t “have” to work they just like to get out of the house and use their other talents once in a while

  • Of course it was class warfare. Same as the old lie about only folks who are really well off can have a stay-at-home parent. Part of why there are so many programs to help pay for working mother’s daycare costs is because it usually doesn’t make economic sense otherwise; if you’re not willing to take handouts you don’t really need….

    While I was obviously not alive then, I get the impression that Mrs. Kennedy would have been lauded for anything she did. She was beautiful, fashionable, charming, married a handsome and charismatic hero that became president and died tragically and early. Any time they come up, my mom tends to point out that there were three pictures on the wall when she was a kid– Jesus, the Pope and JFK.

    Same way we’re supposed to be awed when the Obamas volunteer at a soup kitchen, but the Cheneys giving the majority of their income away is somehow bad; Sarah Palin running for office with kids at home is abandoning them, and Mrs. Romney having been a home-maker is a sign they’re spoiled, rich people.

    Don’t get me started on the “she had help” meme– I have no idea what their finances looked like when the boys were young, I doubt anyone spreading the meme has bothered to look into it, and I’d like to know what the heck daycare is if it’s not “help watching the kids.” Don’t see anyone discounting working mothers because someone else watches the kids part of the day….

Weakness and The Truth

Friday, March 2, AD 2012

“Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect”  Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesian 6: 11-13

 

Mr. Voris is exactly right.  The American bishops are asking for a fight after having failed to feed, train and arm their military.  There is no way a single letter, as well intentioned and necessary as it is, read from the pulpit on a single Sunday, urging us to call our elected representatives, is going to save our freedoms and protect our right to practice the faith that Christ handed to us.  It will not help catechize the silly young woman mentioned in the Real Catholic video, nor will it educate the nation as to why the Church teaches abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization are evils.

I hate to say this but in many ways the bishops almost deserve to be ignored. Truth be told, they have lost an immense amount of respect among the devout laity (the non-devout obviously having no respect for them). This is not a loss of respect for the position,  but for the men and the way they hold it; weak and timidly.  The result is a wasteland of liberalism and heresy that is to be found in so many parishes across our nation.  Now, after having the President of the US attempt to force them into committing mortal sin, they want the help of those few who actually believe, practice and uphold the faith to come to the rescue.

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16 Responses to Weakness and The Truth

  • Very well said, Walter! Ezekiel 34:1-10 comes to mind.

  • I am writing the following comment because at some point the responsibility to find the TRUTH is squarely on our shoulders and no one elses. Hopefully for her someone confronts her with love at CUA regarding these truths.

    You know what?! I am a weak Catholic and at times more than I care to count or think about I am a c-o-w-a-r-d. That’s right I am a coward. Does it make it right for me to be one to retreat into my cowardice? Do I take up a political lobby and make people embrace my cowardice? No I have no recourse but to beg God and the Saints to pray for the grace for me to do better. I need to the courage to explain WITH LOVE the wrongness of homosexuality, contraception, abortion, et al to my wife. I need the courage to tell my kids that they need to go to mass and say prayers with Daddy. I need the courage to pray on my own and go to adoration because without that I cannot and will not survive this world and in some way lead them safely to the next. In some ways it would be easy to go to the other side. But how can I pervert truth to fit what I want to believe to make it easier for myself? I have already told God once I will be right back, once. Now I have people that are (whether they know it or not) depending on me to get them to heaven. I just need men (faithful priests/other men) and God & Heaven to get me there.

  • Required: courage and humility.

    I think of Veronica who had the courage to express her love for Our Lord in the midst of a hate-filled crowd. The Sixth Station of the Cross: “Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus.”

    Pray for courage to step up and profess our loyalty to Christ.

    I was thinking of hateful Pelosi’s garbage gab about how the bishops did not enforce Church Teachings and her rat-reasoning that they ought to continue the error.

    One needs the humility to admit you were wrong.

    I have experience in this. Infrequently, in my line, I need to correct a “loose interpretation” or “inconsistent application” (heh) of a principle(s) that our people had missed. The complaint is, “You didn’t ‘ding’ us for this last year.” My answer is, “To err is human. That doesn’t make the discrepancy less wrong or mean that we can allow it to persist.” And, from then on we do it right. It is embarrassing, but they get over it and you restore your authority.

  • Michael – I hope that no one posts a comment that criticizes you for what you’ve just said.

    The first thing you need to do is return to prayer. Get comfortable with it again. If you’ve been away from the Church, go to Confession. And don’t worry about having to bulldoze your wife and kids into the understanding and practice of the faith. As it becomes more a part of your life, you’ll find yourself communicating it more through your example (and the words will start to come natural enough too).

    I don’t know if you really are a coward; it’s not cowardice that keeps me from throwing a 40-yard perfect spiral, it’s the fact that I’m out of shape. That makes it embarrasing to go out onto the practice field and work on my throwing.

    I’ve known converts and reverts over the years. I’m more of a revert myself than I’d like to admit, due to a particularly lazy stretch in college. It takes determination to get back, but more often than not it just takes a start. Don’t psych yourself out. Just do it. And please be willing to hang around this site and keep us informed. There are plenty of sites that can give you the encouragement that you’re looking for.

  • Pinky — If someone does criticize me then I will take the good from it and move on. Prayer yes I am with you. I need prayer and when I miss a day or two day I can tell that I have missed it.

    Bulldozing them with my faith…I don’t expose them to my faith, it seems to me, at all. I feel that I hide it from them for fear of the criticism…hence cowardice. I dont expect my wife to practice her faith and do pray for her and offer up all that I have for her to see more clearly (make sense?). As far as my kids they are 5 and 3. I have a duty as a father to take them to mass and pray with them but again the coward in me is a problem, and my wife is sometimes hostile to the faith.

    I am a revert and ask for the grace of perseverance to keep going and even get more couragous especially these days of “apathy to religious freedom” which breathes down my neck just a little bit more every day.

    I am determined but need other men/dads and God to give me the courage to ACT OUT/DO what is right and just. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I do like this site and have been checking it on a regular basis.

  • Michael P,

    I think you are quite courageous. As for exposing your family to the faith, shine your light before men. Sometimes the only exposure you can give is your behavior. My ex-wife is an atheist and my children are in her custody. When I returned to the faith and began to pray the Rosary every night, she fell away from me till the point of divorce came. There was and is nothing I can say, and indeed to say anything to my ex-wife only arouses great ire. And since I do not have custodianship of my children, I have very limited influence outside of my daily phone calls (because of my job, we live 800 plus miles apart, so frequent visits are not possible). The only sermon we can sometimes give is how we live our lives, which I admit I often fail at. I do what I can, and I pray the Rosary for her and for my cihildren every day. Thank God for the Confessional where I can confess my faults! I can’t make this situation right, but I can do whatever little penance might help.

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  • This is not a loss of respect for the position, but for the men and the way they hold it; weak and timidly

    You nailed it, thank you for putting into words how I was trying to reconcile this whole situation. Respecting the office while still being disappointed with how our leadership has dropped the ball.

    I would also like to add all the “Catholic” governers recently approving gay marriage in various states. Very, very disappointing…… very, very sad……..

  • Michael Voris is filling the gaping hole that the bishops abandoned in the public square and the pulpit.

    Period.

  • I think Voris is mostly right. The bishops and priests do have a responsibility to catechize, and they can speak with a voice of authority. But, the learned laity also have a responsibility to catechize our fellow Catholics. Sounds easy, but it can be very difficult for many Catholics are hard of heart. “What the Church teaches is my Sunday life. The rest of the week is mine.”

    I teach 8th grade faith formation (CCD). I know I teach the evils of contraception during the morality and sexuality series. But, I can’t make them accept the words. You can fill their heads but their hearts aren’t there. They may get older and publish an article for CNN saying how wonderful contraception is. I sow the seed, but it might be falling on rocks.

    So it is with the bishops and priests. They sow the seeds, but where are they falling? Reading assignment: Mark Chapter 4.

    I do agree with him that we need to hear more of the “why” does the Church take the positions it does. Most homilies in my parish fall in the park of “Jesus loves us.”, “Live right for God.”, and “Love your neighbor.” So much more to discuss.

  • By “bulldozing”, I mean that the first time the subject comes up it can feel confrontational, but as time goes on it will be less so. At some point, it starts to feel weird to *not* talk about one’s faith. Any time a person in a marriage is going through a major change in emotion or mindset, it’s natural to be hesitant to talk about it with the spouse, but it’s important to do so.

    While I clearly don’t know much about your situation, I can tell you that there are stories like Paul’s, but there are also stories of couples who’ve discovered or rediscovered their faith together. And plenty of stories where one spouse thinks the other one is weird, but learns to live with it. There are a lot worse sites a wife could find on her husband’s internet history than The American Catholic.

  • “I dont expect my wife to practice her faith and do pray for her and offer up all that I have for her to see more clearly (make sense?).’

    Ask her to say one prayer with you each night before you turn in. Husband and wife joint prayer can work wonders.

  • I did not hear a letter at our parish about contraception, but we attend a Byz Rite and have been absent from it off and on for about a month due to colds, or Scouting activities at another Church, etc and what not. What finally prompted me to call my Senators was a plea from a homeschooling group (a national legal group), not the bishops. Alas, my senators voted as I expected. They are all for contraception for the little people as a freebie.

  • there is hope: http://www.discerninghearts.com/?p=7128 Holy families inspire holy priests and holy priests inspire holy families.

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  • Michael P-

    With apologies to all lady participants here at TAC, understanding your wife’s mind is a challenge at best and sometimes downright impossible. Over 20 years of marriage, I have determined that I cannot understand “what” my wife thinks, or mostly even “how” she thinks.

    That said, though, I can tell you this. Women of character and fortitude will respect a man who lives his faith. If you confidently and matter-of-factly say “Honey, I’m taking the kids to church. Would you like to go?” and accept her answer no matter what it is, she will see your constancy of intent in a relatively short time. Then, if you offer the traditional.,quick Catholic blessing before dinner, not expecting anybody else to participate, but just doing it like asking for the peas, this will also become less-than-weird very quickly.

    It may take some quid-pro-quo, as in “And when I get back we can go to the park together.” It may take some initial mutual-benefit explanation: “And you can have the house to yourself for the next 90 minutes.”

    But, simply doing it and not making anything more out of it than if you were going down to the corner store for a gallon of milk will communicate more than all the explanations and apologias in the world. As well, the heart of a wife and mother who sees her husband expressly doing good things for her children will soften considerably. Some of the women in my wife’s social circles say that seeing their husbands happily playing with, working with or taking the kids on errands actually gets them a little “romantic,” if you catch my drift.

    Don’t worry about any of the rest. Once you have become a person who lives his faith, loves his kids (who, at 3 and 5 will go anyplace with Dad just because Dad says “Hey, kids! Let’s go!”) and respects his wife’s decisions will find in her a willing listener when you do eventually explain your viewpoints with love and kindness.

    That is, the love and kindness that comes from doing all the previously-mentioned stuff first. Don’t worry – it may take weeks if not months, but it will happen. Trust in Jesus, pray for His words to enlighten, and for the wisdom and grace of The Holy Spirit to give you the courage to simply start. One step. The rest will follow in God’s time.

The Oft-Repeated Lie About Warren Buffet’s Secretary’s Tax Rate

Wednesday, January 25, AD 2012

For last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama invited Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to sit in the First Lady’s box during the speech and specifically promised in that speech to support tax changes in order to mend the injustice Buffet claims occurs allowing him to pay the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, including his secretary. This line of attack is doubtless partly designed to pave the way millionaire Barrack Obama to make populist attacks on multi-millionaire Mitt Romney during the upcoming presidential campaign. Romney is, after all, very, very rich, and his income comes primarily from investments.

David Leonhardt at the NY Times asks both right-leaning economist Greg Mankiw and the left leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to comment on this alleged tax injustice. Mankiw makes a fairly reasonable case that the reason capital gains are lower is that investment income is based on corporate profits and corporate profits have already been taxed. Companies would have more profits to pass on to investors (either as dividends or in the form of being worth more) if they didn’t pay corporate taxes, and so the tax on investment income is set lower to avoid this “double taxation”. Chuck Marr of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities must know the facts aren’t on his side, because instead of answering the question he provides a canned response about income inequality and how tax rates are lower than in the ’70s. The column is worth a read.

However, there’s another issue here which I think is worth pointing out. Progressives writing on this issue usually act as if billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet are all paying right around 15% (the capital gains rate) in taxes — Buffet claims that he pays 17.4% — and that “middle class Americans” are paying the top marginal income tax rate of 35%.

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40 Responses to The Oft-Repeated Lie About Warren Buffet’s Secretary’s Tax Rate

  • I am tired of hearing about the rich paying “their fair share” when almost 50% of the country pays nothing in income taxes. I am all in favor of everyone doing their fair share and, in my mind, that obviously means setting a minimum tax. Even if it is just $100 a year, everyone should throw something in the pot. We should also stop administering welfare through the income tax system. It encourages people to accept benefits they would never dream of going to the welfare office to get.

  • Darwin,
    As a tax lawyer I must say your post is spot on correct. And I would add a few more points.

    * Capital gain rates should be lower in order to accomodate the fact that some gain is illusory inflation gain. A person buying shares of Company X in 1980 for $10,000 may well be able to sell those shares for $20,000 today, but much of the nominal $10,000 gain is just inflation and does not represent income in a true economic sense.

    * Capital gains are only taxed when they are recognized as a consequence of a sale. Selling investments is usually a matter of choice, and capital gains taxes act as a toll charge on a a voluntary sale. Accordingly high rates serve to encourage investors to stay “locked in” rather than liquidate their investments. In fact all tax scholars agree that high rates will result in reduced tax revenue for this very reason, but what they do not agree on is the tipping point. Personally, I think that there is some room to raise the rate without revenue loss, but I do not believe that one can remotely raise the rate to match with current ordinary rates without actually losing revenue. It would be a lose/lose — investors would be locked into unwanted investments while the government would get less tax revenue — all in the name of fairness.

    Buffett is a hypocrite. He can and should pay himself a high salary taxed at ordinary rates, but instead deliberately keeps his gains in his investments in order to benefit from lower capital gain rates.

  • Jenny,

    For a very long time I agreed with the point you make about everyone paying at least some taxes, but I think I’ve been gradually modifying my views on it.

    Part of my reason for change there is that (as the CBO numbers I linked to point out) basically everyone has some degree of federal tax liability, if they work at all, it’s just that they may have a negative income tax liability (a subsidy) which reimburses them for some of the payroll taxes that they pay for social security and medicare. Even for the bottom 20% of earners, they end up paying some positive amount of federal taxes. One could “solve” this weird appearance by scaling the payroll taxes instead of having them be a flat rate, but that’s comparatively hard to do, so instead we end up with this weird thing of charging some people payroll taxes while “giving back” money on their income taxes.

    Another element is that it seems to me that one of the things which conservatives have (rightly) won a lot of support for is lowering people’s taxes — and it seems to run totally counter to that to turn around and say that we should raise taxes on the half of people who pay no income taxes currently.

    Finally, and this is the thing I feel most mixed about, giving people subsidies through tax credits is a very “clean” way of trying to help out those who earn less. On the face of it, it seems like we shouldn’t throw money at people who don’t ask for it, and I find that argument persuasive in some ways. But on the flip side, the various forms of subsidy that people go down and apply for often end up reinforcing bad behavior and penalizing the hard working poor who don’t ask for help. They also lend themselves to all sorts of nanny state interference where bureaucrats say, “We’ll help you buy food, but only if you buy these things,” etc. In this sense, if we’re going to help people through financial subsidies, it seems to me that doing so through something like the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit in some expanded and more frequent form would actually be more conservative and less prone to government abuse than most of the other modes of assistance which are pushed.

  • I have heard that the idea behind the earned income tax credit was to reimburse lower income workers for their payroll tax contributions. It is a reasonable goal, but I do not believe we should completely erase a citizen’s entire tax obligation. I think it changes the relationship between the citizen and the government in an undesirable way.

    I also question if it is really true that most everyone actually has a tax liability. I know that my anecdote is not data, but for tax year 2010 I paid $0 income tax, ~$2900 payroll tax, and received ~$6200 in a “tax refund.” Now we have three children and one income, so that might change the math, but I do not consider us low income. We do not have a lot of budget leeway, but we are definitely not poor. If I make as much as I make and still get that kind of money from the government, how much more are other people getting?

    We also qualify for reduced lunch at school, but I do not take that government money. I can afford to feed my daughter lunch! The difference is to receive that benefit, I would have to fill out a form that basically declares I need the government’s help to feed my children. That declaration would be a falsehood so I do not fill out the form and no one requires me to do it. However I am required to file taxes, so, even though I do not *need* the money, I take all the deductions and credits I am allowed and get a fat check. It definitely feels like dirty money, and yet I take it anyway. I’m not sure what that says for my moral fortitude.

    I agree it is politically untenable. I hear folks calling the talk shows complaining about those ‘no-goods’ that don’t pay taxes and I wonder how many of the complainers actually pay income taxes themselves. Odds are that 50% do not.

    I understand your thought that the earned income tax credit helps the people who would not ask for help. I am a prime example of that logic. I would be more sympathetic to it if the country were not driving off the debt cliff. It is a moral hazard to set up government assistance through programs–be it from manipulative citizens or nanny state bureaucrats–but we cannot afford to allow 50% of the country to free ride anymore.

  • I hear what you say, Darwin, but don’t think I fully agree. Social security is basically a pay as you go defined benefit retirement plan. Folks receive retirement benefits imperfectly based on what they contributed to the pot during their working life. In truth the plan is a hybrid — part retirement plan and welfare plan since those who pay in the maximum get a bad deal while those who pay in smaller amounts (i.e., low and moderate income earners) get a good deal. I don’t think these taxes can fairly be characterized as contributions to the common good, which is a different pot altogether, except perhaps in part the taxes paid by those who consistently contribute the maximum since they are subsidizing others.

  • Mike,

    Fair point. I guess I tend to look on Social Security as being more of a welfare program conveniently masquerading as a defined benefit retirement plan — but I readily admit this is in part a result of my own crank-iness.

    In all honestly, I’m not sure I fully buy the “tax credit as reimbursement for payroll tax” argument, especially as there’s not a fixed relationship between the two. Few people end up getting more subsidy via income tax then they pay in payroll tax, but I’m sure that some do, and my support for the idea of using refundable tax credits in place of other forms of subsidy isn’t necessarily related to the amount of subsidy being less than one has paid in payroll taxes. On the other hand, I think one of the problems with this approach, though it appeals to me in other ways, is that offends people’s common sense. And that’s not something to be taken as lightly as many policy wonks seem to think.

    Jenny,

    Fair points. I don’t remember comparing how much I got back via income taxes to my payroll taxes, but I do definitely recall that 7-8 years ago when we had two kids and our family income was under 50k we got back about a thousand dollars on our tax return more than we’d paid in. And I think the child tax credits are higher now than they were then. Things were tight (given we lived in California and paid the sort of rents one can expect there) but I certainly didn’t consider us “poor” and would never have applied for government aid.

    This, actually, is my main source of self questioning as I’ve come to see the refundable tax credit as a better way of applying government subsidies than traditional welfare programs: it’s simple and fair, sure, but back when I actually qualified for that kind of thing it drove me up the wall and I was firmly in the camp of thinking that everyone should pay at least some taxes. I’m not really comfortable with the fact that this is something I’ve only come to like the idea of as my income has increased, though I’m not sure if this is the result of cause and effect or just that I’ve got into reading a lot of economic policy analysis over the last decade.

  • I agree it is politically untenable. I hear folks calling the talk shows complaining about those ‘no-goods’ that don’t pay taxes and I wonder how many of the complainers actually pay income taxes themselves. Odds are that 50% do not.

    Some numbers here. 47% of households have no “liability”– they can claim deductions sufficient to only be paying SS and Medicare tax; those who hit the black when you include their side of the payroll taxes is half that. (still depressing, but not as much)

    Things to keep in mind is that this is a matter of HOUSEHOLDS– from memory, being married and being a bit older are both things are associated with being conservative, and one of the major causes of poverty in children is being a single mother; it’s very believable that those calling in are paying taxes, contributing, etc, even if the “50%” statistic would imply otherwise.
    Oh, that reminds me– some of those “households” might be college kids of the sort that I went to high school with– they’re on every program possible, are supported by their parents and get part-time jobs while they’re in college basically so they can game the system. (I didn’t really realize this until one mentioned the free birth control program for Washington State was being “threatened.” Guess I should’ve known, almost everyone at the school was on reduced lunch, even though my family was one of the lower income ones!)

  • I will attribute your changing opinions to reading economic policy rather than the pity you have for us down the income chain. 😛

    If our goal is to help those who would not normally ask for help, we could keep the credits if we dramatically cut the income requirements to get the credits. For tax year 2011 you can still get a credit with an AGI of $50,270. That’s adjusted income higher than the country’s gross median. This is pure insanity.

    I do not mind government subsidies helping the poor and even those teetering on the edge, but that is not our current policy. We are throwing money at solidly middle class people who would never ask for the money on their own. We cannot afford to do it anymore.

  • I will attribute your changing opinions to reading economic policy rather than the pity you have for us down the income chain.

    Thanks. 😉 I guess what makes me mildly suspicious of myself is that I’m pretty sure that my 25-year-old self would have thought my 33-year-old self is just out of touch. And while having five kids and large old house adds a lot of responsibility, compared to two kids and a tiny new house, I can’t help wondering if my 25-year-old self was right at a gut level.

    I do not mind government subsidies helping the poor and even those teetering on the edge, but that is not our current policy. We are throwing money at solidly middle class people who would never ask for the money on their own. We cannot afford to do it anymore.

    There I think you get at the heart of the matter. Middle class voters turn out much more reliably, so I think both parties have been a party to buying off the middle class by cutting taxes very, very low for many of them, without actually helping those desperately in need all that much. To the extent this has resulted in virtually putting the middle class on welfare, that’s a big problem. That kind of help should be reserved for those who desperately need it. (Perhaps part of the problem is that a lot of these beltway types imagine that making 50k is “poor” when it fact it’s the median income out here in real America.)

  • Excellent comments, Darwin and Jenny.
    It seems to me that one persistent theme, even if perhaps somewhat subtextual, is the unwillingness of our elected officials to be truthful about the *character* of government benefits. It is true that social security is in part a welfare program. As long as its dominant characteristic, however, is that of a defined benefit retirement program, the welfare component remains disguised. Many Americans are comfortable with this, including those who don’t want to admit that they are receiving welfare (i.e., those whose payouts compare favorably to their contributions) as well as those who view welfare as social *justice* rather than taxpayer *charity* — the latter frankly bristle at the word.

    When we employ tax credits, especially refundable tax credits, all too often they are not properly understood as welfare when they may well be exactly that . This is particularly true of refundable credits to compensate for social security contributions that are conceptually and financially necessary to fund future retirement benefits. This is no accident. Politicians do not want to wound the pride of their voting base. Truth is the victim.

  • St. Warren’s secretary’s tax rate is huge but not because we evil rich S.O.B.’s don’t pay a high enough taxes.

    St. Warren’s virtuous, long-suffering secretary’s taxes are about to become even more onerous. And, he will not raise her salary to cover the harsh increases in food and fuel prices he (profiting for the keystone denial) and Obama (raising fuel costs to get green votes) are laying on working class Americans.

    At least he hasn’t laid her off, yet.

  • In my view, the “everyone should pay some taxes” idea leads inevitably to bigger government for two reasons:

    1) If everyone had to pay something in taxes, the poor would have to rely more on welfare programs like food stamps, Medicaid, etc.

    2) To be politically viable, marginal rate cuts have had to be coupled with rate cuts across the board. But if you aren’t allowed to cut anyone’s taxes to zero, then you very quickly end up with a situation where you can’t cut taxes for a large segment of the American population. So no more tax cuts.

  • Thank you Darwin Catholic!!

  • BA,

    I think it is wrong to tax away anyone’s necessities or ability to pay for necessities. To the extent what we call the “poor” includes this group then I think we should not tax them. If we accomplish this by taxing and then paying rebates, that is fine with me — such an approach arguably has the virtue of greater transparency — i.e., truthfulness.

    The idea that almost one-half of American households should not contribute to the common good is untenable. Aside from those whose necessities are at stake, all should contribute to the common good, even if in varying amounts computed at graduated rates.

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  • Annual income = $27K
    Taxes (state + local) = 29%
    Single tax rate

  • St. Warren is correct! Among Obama aides, 36 owe $833,000 in back taxes.

    Taxes are for the little people.

    Salary of St. Warren’s secretary: $200,000 to $500,000.
    Her second home with pool in AZ: $144,000.
    Playing prop for Obama lies: Priceless!

  • Why not ditch the income tax all and all? One of the things I like about the flat tax is that it removes the gov’ts power to tinker on income, and– in theory– would cut down on the amount of work needed to keep track of all that information.

    Total pie-in-the-sky, since the entire setup is built around federal knowledge of exactly how much and where your money comes from, but I can dream….

  • Foxfier,

    I accept your point about the audience make up of conservative talk shows, but it is likely that many getting welfare tax refunds do not realize it is happening. It is easy with tax prep software and companies do think that your refund is just a refund. Unless you are knowledgeable about the tax code or do the math by your own hand, you may not realize you are getting back more than you paid, and I wonder how many of those are complaining.

    Darwin,

    Here is the spot that your 33-year-old self has forgotten about your 25-year-old self:

    When you realize you are getting welfare from the government, it makes you feel poor. When you know you are not poor, but either someone else thinks you are poor or is trying to buy your vote, you get angry. When your finances are such that, even though you don’t really need it, it would be very foolish to turn down the money, you feel worthless.

    So you are now far enough away to see the wisdom in the overall policy without feeling the sting of having bribe money waved in your face.

    BA,

    You are probably right that making everyone pay taxes would make more people dependent on government programs. Perhaps the real problem is the qualifications for these programs. The income requirements need to be severely cut back. The argument made by the current administration that nearly 50% of the country is poor and in need of assistance is laughable on its face.

  • Dulce taxatio inexpertis.

  • Worse yet. Consider Buffett’s motives for promoting a new tax on high income earners. He owns a significant stake in life insurance companies, which offer tax sheltering and avoidance strategies for the rich. The end result of his proposal? More clients, more revenue, more profits. And he’s since structured his assets that he wouldn’t even be effected. Just call him what he is: a corrupt crony capitalist lobbying for a law that he will substantially benefit from

  • Jenny-
    Maybe if you have a company where you just drop off your paperwork and they do it, but I just filled out our taxes this morning (With H&R Block! /advertisement) and blocks 2, 4 and 6 are really obvious– “Tax withheld.” When you look at the return before filing it, it lays it out: Federal withholding, EIC, additional child credit. The first one, natch, matches the “tax withheld” total.

    I’d be really, really hesitant to suggest that someone did not notice that they’re getting more back than they paid in; folks respond poorly to implications that they’re stupid.

    The argument made by the current administration that nearly 50% of the country is poor and in need of assistance is laughable on its face.

    Not half of the country– half of the households that file taxes. If I’m reading this right, the average individual income is $45,559. (I know, average, not median– yell at them!)
    I know I keep beating that same drum, but given how many more single-adult households there are these days, it’s important….

  • Foxfier,
    I don’t know about stupid, but certainly ignorant and lazy. Many people, including the college educated, are completely flummoxed about income taxes. This is exactly why outfits like H&R Block are in business. The vast majority of the returns the prepare as so simple a cave man could do it — but we live in a nation of people who don’t know the difference between income and a bank account — and that is just a fact.
    Ask any VITA volunteer.
    This is not to say that our income tax rules could not be made easier, but the complications are not really related to low income earners.

  • Mike-
    I helped do taxes when I was in the Navy; NONE of those folks were unaware of the difference between the amounts of their withholding and refunds, whatever way it tilted. True, that’s a select group– but so is the “Low-Income, Elderly, Disabled and Limited English” population! I’d suggest that the average IQ person does sort of what I did– used H&R because they make it so incredibly painless to do your taxes, even making efiling a matter of clicking the “next” button twice. (/advertisement)

    No volunteers needed.

    Heck, even my moron, thug former-brother-in-law could figure this stuff out, although he was gloating about “free money.”

  • Foxfier,

    I did not imply that people are stupid. I flat out said they do not pay attention. Since we are exchanging work experiences, I worked at a bank in the era before direct deposit for tax refunds became widespread. The rapid refund loan checks outnumbered treasury checks probably four to one. It is not hard to imagine that those people had no idea how much money they had actually paid in taxes.

    I’m not sure what you are suggesting by pointing out the average employee income is $45,559. Are you saying that is poor or not poor?

  • Jenny-
    You keep talking about “half the country” when you’re talking about tax paying households instead of individuals. I didn’t say it was poor or not, since income divorced from all other factors is a pretty cruddy way to figure out “poor”– what’s poor in Coronado, CA is not poor in, oh, Reno NV. I did find it interesting that the average individual income was so close to the median household income, which may hint at the root problem.

    You said:
    I accept your point about the audience make up of conservative talk shows, but it is likely that many getting welfare tax refunds do not realize it is happening. It is easy with tax prep software and companies do think that your refund is just a refund. Unless you are knowledgeable about the tax code or do the math by your own hand, you may not realize you are getting back more than you paid, and I wonder how many of those are complaining.

    I am not knowledgeable of the tax code, nor did I do my tax-math in my own hand, I just looked over the form as required and am not so dumb that I notice a thousand dollar difference. When you’re getting to that level of cash in your own pocket, it’s beyond “not paying attention.”
    As for treasury checks vs “rapid refund” ones, it’s hardly surprising that people are willing to pay to get money faster– especially with the well-known speed of government!
    I don’t know what the tax code was like for real households, but I remember when I first started working, I adjusted my deductions so that I didn’t get a check at the end of the year. If a dumb high school kid knew to do that, it probably wasn’t odd for adults who actually have to live on the money to do it.

  • Foxfier,

    I bring up the rapid refund checks not to point out that they wanted the money faster, but to say it is likely that these people indeed went to “a company where you just drop off your paperwork and they do it.” I understand that you are supposed to look over the return before signing, but a lot of people do not, which is why the ‘innocent spouse’ provision exists. We are also supposed to read the ‘terms and conditions’ on websites, but most people do not. It is in our nature to trust and accept what is presented to us at face value. And you do not give yourself enough credit for adjusting your withholdings in high school to avoid a refund. A lot of people prefer the check from Uncle Sam, not understanding it is a loan without interest.

    So, approaching half of tax filing households do not pay income tax and have been deemed ‘poor’ by the government. Is this a precise enough statement for you? Does it seem reasonable to you that half of tax filings are from poor households? I think the point you are making is that a married couple making 80K is counted as one household, but a divorced couple each making 40K is counted as two households. It does tip the numbers in the wrong direction.

    My argument is that 40K is not poor in the majority of the country and should not be treated as if it were. If the average individual income is ~45K in the richest country on earth, it would seem that 45K is not poor and yet our current government policy is that it is.

  • It isn’t being treated as “poor”– the IRS site says that the EITC is supposed to encourage low to moderate income folks to work; the child tax credit is for households that have under 100k/year to defray child costs.

    Basically, they’re not charity type things, they’re just straight social engineering– we want people to have kids, buy houses and have jobs. (Possibly vote buying too, but that’s neither here nor there.) I vaguely remember the EITC was partly because they figured out people had stopped working because going over some amount would leave them with less in their pocket. Nobody wants to take away a tax break, so there are layers and layers of incentives… no wonder the “burn it all and build over” approach is getting so popular.

    Speaking of being deemed poor by the gov’t, I’m sure you’ve seen those surveys on what the average “poor” have… the government is simply not set up to effectively figure out what constitutes poor, even before you look at the whole twisted incentives thing!

    I think the point you are making is that a married couple making 80K is counted as one household, but a divorced couple each making 40K is counted as two households.

    And a woman who is not married and gets either formal child support or under the counter support (what’s it called, the “gray” economy?) is going to have low on-paper income, and both parents in a divorce are going to have less chance to make money– it’s more likely to be something like an $80k household becoming two $35k households, or even less if it’s a nasty split and the non-custodial deliberately avoids making money to keep from being dinged for more.

  • I am very much in favor of burning it down and starting over, but I do not see much chance of that happening as long as the government promotes the idea that 45K is ‘low-income.’ It may be driven by social engineering goals, but we cannot afford these delusions any longer.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-12-15/poor-census-low-income/51944034/1

  • Oh, goodie, yet another yard-stick– median income for a family of four. $67k for ’08.

    Assuming that the definition of “low income” is constant, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/guidance/eligibility.html low income is 60% of the state median or 150% of poverty, whichever is higher. The bottom third is a defensible definition of “low income”….

    That said, the USAToday article looks like a re-heating of this sort of thing, with an amazing unwillingness to wonder why nobody is hiring when it became more expensive to do so and there’s the whole unknown upcoming regulations factor….

  • Darwin – Where is the exact quote that you are calling a lie? Did Warren Buffett state that he paid a lower tax rate than the average tax rate of the middle class? And did he also define middle class in terms of a dollar income range? It is not at all unbelievable that the secretary to the richest man in the world (she probably is a well paid secretary but still arguably in the middle class) would pay a tax rate higher than 17%. We don’t know what rate she paid so how can you say he is lying?

  • http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/01/25/warren-buffetts-secretary-likely-makes-between-200000-and-500000year/

    Buffet himself declares that he pays a 17.4 percent rate on taxable income. His staff, like Bosanek, pay an average of 34 percent. The IRS publishes detailed tax tables by income level. The 2009 results show that the average taxpayer paying Buffet’s 17.4 rate earns an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000. But an average taxpayer in Bosaneck’s rate (after downward adjustment for payroll taxes) earns an adjusted gross income of $200,000 to $500,000. Therefore Buffett must pay Debbie Bosanke a salary well above two hundred thousand.

  • Thanks for the article Foxfier. I don’t see a lie here. Even if the secretary does make between 200k and 500k it still speaks to the point Obama is making. Warren made AGI of $62 million and paid 17% tax rate and the secretary made up to 500k and paid a higher tax rate. Why can someone who lives off of his great-great-grand-daddy’s fortune pay a lower rate than someone who actually works? (I undertand Warren actually made his fortune but his kid didn’t and his great-great-great grand kids wont be able to say the same.)

  • Toll:

    Buffett’s secy paid a tax rate becuase unlike Buffett she could not elect to not pay herself and cash in long term capital gains.

    Buffett paid taxes on the long term capital gains rate, which is 15%. He elected to not be pay himself a salary of $6,000,000 because he knew he would pay 39% income tax on most of it. Buffett has control over his company pay. His secy does not.

    It’s the tax code and Buffett playing with it.

    In fact, Buffett’s companies are in tax court because he refuses to pay billions in federal taxes. Buffett’s LT cap gains are the chief profiteers in Obama’s ban of the Keystone oil pipeline.

    Pharaoh and Buffett are lying. And, you, Toll, are a pharaoh-worshiping ignoramus.

  • John Toll,

    What I’m calling a lie here is comparing two completely different tax rates: the top marginal rate and the effective tax rate.

    Buffet it talking about his effective tax rate, which given that he pays himself a salary well below market rates for a successful CEO and takes most of his income in the form of long term capital gains instead (a tax dodging tactic which certainly belies his claim to be concerned about the rich not paying their share). He’s probably also throwing in his payroll taxes, which don’t amount to much since they only apply to his salary and not to his millions in investment income. This is how he gets his effective tax rate of 17.4%. He is not, however, including the impact of corporate taxes on his investment income. Arguably, he should, because corporate taxes come out of corporate profits before profits are distributed to investors, and corporate taxes reduce the profitability of a company and thus reduce it’s market capitalization. If you looked at the effect of corporate taxes on his income, his effective tax rate is arguably more like 30-40%.

    Now comes what I very strongly believe is straight up deception: Obama claim’s that while Buffet pays 17.4% in taxes, his secretary pays 35.8% in taxes. Here’s the thing: the top income tax rate is 35%. There is absolutely no way that she can be paying an effective income tax rate of 35.8% percent, because no one pays that much in income tax.

    Now, the way I think they’re getting to this deceptive number is by taking her top marginal income tax rate which could be anywhere from 25% to 35% and adding to that some amount of her payroll taxes.

    However, her actual effective tax rate is doubless below Buffet’s. According to Congressional Budget Office data (linked to in the post) the top 5% of earners pay an average effective income tax rate of 17.9%. Those are people earning $326,100 to $457,400. So even if Buffet’s secretary is making 300k+, he effective tax rate is no higher than his. It is absolutely not 35.8% as is claimed, that’s pretty much impossible. Even if she had no mortgage, no kids and no charitable donations and made over a million a year, her effective tax rate (even including payroll taxes) could not total an effective rate of 35.8% of her gross income. It’s just not possible.

    And it’s because Obama (and Buffet) and choosing to be so blatantly deceptive in their claims that I’m calling it (accurately, I think) “a lie”.

  • It would not surprise me if the President was unaware of any deception. I doubt he is a detail man.

  • I agree the phAresident is not being deceptive. He is fabricating that which supports the agends.

  • Hit “enter” my accident.

    I meant, “For the pharaoh, The truth is that which advances the agenda.”

  • In for a penny, in for a pound. Planting seeds of confusion and mistrust in the minds of his people he swore a oath to serve, he tends the growth of evil.

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Battleground Ohio

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

In the 2012 election, Ohio will once again be a key battleground state at the presidential level. This will be a new experience for me, now an Ohio resident, as I’ve spent my voting live up until now in California and Texas — two states so solidly in their opposite party’s columns that one at times wondered if it was worth the time to stand in line and vote.

The Ohio vote froom yesterday getting national and international headlines was the rejection of Issue 2, repealing a law which limitted collective bargaining for state employees including teachers, police and firemen. State employee unions poured huge amounts of money into the “No on 2” campaign and focused heavily on scare tactics. The most frequent claim was that if unions could not negotiate over staffing levels, that police or paramedics would not arrive when you needed them. “Vote no on Issue 2. It could save your life.”

The victory in the No on 2 campaign is being taken as a positive sign by Democrats nationally, but it is likely to be a bad sign for the actual state workers who campaigned so hard for their unions. In the same election, voters rejected a number of local tax levies (both new and renewals) which in combination with the striking down of Senate Bill 5 (via the No on 2 campaign) means that local government will be stuck with old, more expensive contracts and also come up far short on revenues. This means that voters are still very much in a low tax, low budget mood (probably a positive for Republicans come next year) and that unions just spent an unprecedented amount of money in order to get more of their members laid off. Oops.

In yet another state-wide referendum, voters, by a 2-to-1 margin, voted to ammend the state constitution to ban any form of health insurance mandate in Ohio. Given that state constitutions cannot override federal laws, this is mostly a symbolic gesture, however with the ammendment getting a majority in every single county, it underscores how unpopular some of the key ideas of ObamaCare remain with voters.

It remains to be seen which of the two statewide issue votes prove to be the more suggestive of how Ohio voters will lean in the 2012 election.

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One Response to Battleground Ohio

8 Responses to Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Party

  • Okay I admit that I never saw The Colbert Report before but that was side splittingly funny. But seriously famale bodied? What insanity….

  • It was funny. What’s even more funny to me is that in an effort to put their best face forward a group of people got together and through silly little hand signs selected this couple to represent them. Based on what I’ve seen I think they made the right choice, but it still doesn’t say much for them whether they be male bodied males, female bodied females, female bodied males, male bodied females, etc.

  • I need the source for those stats. Please post a link. Thanks and God Bless.

  • PBW Einstein: Contact NYC City Hall.

    The source isn’t the regime’s propaganda machine (NYT, Commie News Net, etc.) or Obama’s Ministry of Troof. That’s why God created FOXNEWS.

    Additionally, the above support the violence. The think it distracts we the people from the economic misery your brilliant Obama regime is causing.

    There have been several more sexual assaults (including a hearing-impaired man) and assaults and batteries which the anarchists refuse to report allowing the criminals to persist in plying useful (to Obama) avocations.

    NB: Obama and his hate-filled co-conspirators have not condemned the violence.

    Obama-worshiping imbeciles unite you have nothing to lose!

  • You should add the “autonomous collective” bit from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. When I hear OWS ppl speak, I immediately think of it.

  • Actually, the Tea Party paid for permits for their demonstrations – which entailed paying for a prescribed amount of porta-potties too. I remember how hard they worked to raise the money from a gress roots movement.

    And let’s not forget the open drug sales, unbridled sex, and scabies.

  • Their great contribution to the Commonweal: Zuccotti Lung.

    They’re threatening to close down Wall Street this morning.

    This PM rush hour, they’re promising to clog the Brooklyn Bridge (it’s for sale, ya’ know).

    Way to win friends and influence people.

    There are a couple hundred of them. There are 3,000,000 men and women coming and going to work today in NYC.

    I hope they don’t get too close to my stocks.

    Yesterday, one of them said we were going to see what molotov cocktails do for Macy’s. I work a block away from there. I’m scared.

    “Annoy a liberal: Work, Succeed, Be Happy.” – bumper sticker

Drone Killings and the Slippery Slope

Monday, October 24, AD 2011

There have been worries expressed on both sides of the political spectrum about the use of drone killings against Al Qaeda, and more especially so as it’s come out that the Obama Administration has a secret “kill list” which even includes American citizens who are working with Al Qaeda overseas (as was the recently killed Anwar al-Awlaki).

It seems to be that there is a legitimate worry here. In a sense, drones are the modern American equivalent of pillars of the Victorian British Empire such as Charles “Chinese” Gordon — gallivanting about the world to put down disturbances wherever they occur. However, they’re also relative unobtrusive and cheap. Thus, I would imagine that there is more danger of them being used to embroil us in conflicts that we really don’t want to be in. (Which, come to that, is more or less what Gordon managed to do for the British Empire on an occasion or two.) While I think that US hegemonic power, like that of others such as the British and Romans in the past, is generally a positive force in the world, power is often a temptation to over reaching. Putting international intervention only a joystick away, without any need for congressional approval or oversight, seems to put just a bit too much power in the hands of an already imperial presidency.

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5 Responses to Drone Killings and the Slippery Slope

  • I would have to agree. After all, political assassination has been around a lot longer than drones, and assassination (at least in the literal sense) of political opponents has not been a regular feature of American domestic politics. I don’t see how drones, which would be very easily traceable to the occupant of the White House as he is the only one with access to them, would make assassinating political opponents more attractive.

  • Now for the brighter side. I’m amazed that some defense corporation has not come up with an armed mini helicopter ( based on the toys one sees e.g. at Brookstone stores) that could enter a building prior to infantry doing so and do room to room fighting before humans risked ambush. Cost per shot down mini drones is probably the reason in battle. But such could be used by police in high crime areas with stun gun technology attached. The precinct sees a mugging or rape….they swoop in remotely. The prescence of surveilling mini helicopters itself would reduce crime due to photos stored of faces and cars involved. Imagine such a cop copter buzzing a heavy drug corner.

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  • Sabelius says she is @ war with the pro-lifers. I don’t know…perhaps she has the president’s ear when it comes to sidewalk counselors.

  • Oh the irony. John Walker Lindh is one lucky dude that he was captured during Bush’s tenure.

2 Responses to Chart of the Day: Spending Spree

What Everyone Was Thinking of the Debt Debate?

Tuesday, August 2, AD 2011

A Pew/WaPo poll over the weekend asked people to give the one word they believed best described the then-still-ongoing debate in congress over the debt ceiling and budget cutting issue. The results are:

The disgust was shared by Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and people reported that their impressions of both Obama and the Republican congressional leadership had worsened (from their already low levels.)

That no one is impressed with the specter of a bunch grown men and women squabbling endlessly is probably unsurprising — if we saw what congress was up to more often we’d probably have this reaction frequently. However, it seems to me that there are two things which make this go-round particularly bad.

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20 Responses to What Everyone Was Thinking of the Debt Debate?

  • Is this different than it was in the Ratification debates, or in the debates leading up to the Civil War, or the debates of the Greqt Depression, or civil rights debates in the 1950s, or the welfare debates of the 1990s?

    A people needs time to debate and argue. Leadership rises in the midst of the argument. anything else leads to tyranny.

    I’m unconcerned. This is as it should be. It is messy and, at times, unpleasant but, while Putin style leadership is solid and reliable and Pelosi… Um, I meant “Chinese” one party rule is debate free, the Republic absolutely requires sibling squabbling to function.

    Frankly, we would be better off if Americans understood how messy democracy is. But THAT could only be accomplished with civics education and we don’t do that anymore.

  • Since when do we live in a ‘democracy’? The word is not mentioned in the Declaration or Constitution. As for the “debate,” agree that the sausage-making is unappealing but necessary for so-called “consensus.”

    In the end, however, all principles were sacrificed for a mushy compromise that satisfied neither the right or left. As political theater, it was passably entertaining but predictable in the 11th hour ‘deal’ that emerged. Rarely did the rhetoric rise above mediocrity and often sunk to the banal.

    No one ever asked the simple question: If we are cutting the budget then why do we need to borrow more money? Logic that escapes all but those who know neither the emperor nor his loyal minions are naked.

  • Is this different than it was in the Ratification debates, or in the debates leading up to the Civil War, or the debates of the Greqt Depression

    Well, hopefully things won’t get as bad as in each of those cases.

  • Mr. Green, I know full and well that our system of government is a “republic,” but, in contemporary usage, our form of government is articulated as a “democratic republic.” We can go back and forth with semantics if you like but I suspect you know what I mean.

  • Mr. Veg, of course I do and so stipulate. However, far as I know, true democracy has never been tried, nor has true Christianity.

  • I’m with you. Every time a people get close to democracy, everything goes to hell in a hand basket. California is probably as close as any place in the US has gotten and their referendums have utterly decimated their economy and their social fabric. When a society walks too far down that road, heads acquire a mysterious capacity to come popping off.

  • I think the American people are wrong. John Boehner behaved in a dignified, wise, and patient manner. Barack Obama, on the other hand, was petulant, incredibly foolish, and in general, behaved like a spoiled teenager who’s parents took away some of her allowance for crashing the car.

    The truth is, Americans in general are also acting like spoiled children, here. We act as if money grows on trees, as if we can spend trillions of dollars we don’t have, and send the bill to our kids. Let’s not pretend this is someone else’s fault.

  • For what it is worth, while it is true that our system of government is a constitutional federal republic, I don’t think that the use of the term “democracy” as shorthand is particularly misleading. In fact, technically a democracy can be defined to include both direct democracies (which actually are employed all the time, just not for actual governments) and indirect democracies (i.e., republics).

    In any case I agree with prior comments regarding the deficiencies of direct democracies. While no system is perfect, the US system has overall served fairly well. I would suggest three constitutional shortcomings, however, that simply were not properly anticipated by the Framers.

    First, I do not think the Framers ever anticipated the use of Congress’s commerce clause powers as a warrant for pretty much any type of federal intervention that a current Congress might prefer. Many blame the federal courts for this, but I actually think the expansive understanding of that clause is hard to avoid given the language.

    Second, the 14th Amendment’s extention of property and liberty rights vis-a-vis the states was poorly expressed. The federal courts basically had to legislate via guess and speculation to place some flesh on a skeleton.

    Finally, the Framers never anticipated the power they were giving to the so-called “least powerful branch.” IMO this is because they did not anticipate Marbury v Madison and its implications. This is not to suggest that M v M was wrongly decided — I don’t think it was (I think it is the only logical outcome given our constututional scheme) — it is just to point out that the result of not anticipating the potential power of federal courts was insufficient remedial checks against the judicial branch. While Congress has jurisdictional limitation and impeachment powers, these instruments are too blunt to effectively counter judicial activism.

    Just my two cents.

  • Hello, it’s me again. I agree with you on our lack of quality leadership. I think I like Plato’s(?, maybe it was Aristotle…) take on this, that our political leaders shouldn’t desire the position, but should take the position reluctantly at the request of the people because they chose him/her to be a good leader. There is way too much moral hazard (skewed incentives) when politicians want to be politicians, but that’s not what I want to get into…

    You say… “Their preferred solution of taxing only the rich while spending like crazy simply won’t work as our nation’s demographics become incapable of supporting the kind of entitlement programs we already have, and even if they were to have the courage to tell the American people the truth (that their vision can only be supported in the long term by raising taxes on the middle class) the American people do not seem to like the idea.

    I think what matters here are real goods (and services) and the employment-to-population ratio. Do we have the real goods to support the population? and how many people are working to provide the population with those real goods (and services)? Taxes and spending (in this case) are just a means to allocate real goods and services. Taxes take away my ability to command them and spending (that goes into my pocket) give me more ability to command them.

    I think if we keep things the way they are now, fewer people will work to support the aging population who will continue to command the resources given to them by the entitlement programs, which means less overall resources for those who are working and more for the aging, unless we manage to grow the economy at a rate that grows both. The only way we would need to tax the working population more is if our deficit were so large it was causing high inflation. I think you know my views from our debates on this.

    The burden that will fall on the working class is not higher taxes but a smaller “slice of the pie” than previous generations were able to command, unless we can grow the economy. So, essentially, our decision is one of ‘How much do we allocate to the aging?’ and ‘how much do we allocate to the working population?’. That’s not an easy decision, but one that government will make actively or passively.

    However, all generations are suffering from lower than possible output right now because we refuse to employ all of our available resources despite our ability to.

    I also don’t agree with your assessment that the left simply wants to tax the rich and spend like crazy. They do want to tax the rich more, but they to are looking to reduce the deficit and have agreed to cuts in entitlements. My perception is that they would like to see a more equitable distribution of wealth. Is that what you are against? If you aren’t, then how do you propose we make it more equitable without taxing the rich more?

    That being said, I agree with your assessment of our politicians. I think we certainly need more courage, honesty, and humility in Washington from both parties.

  • yes it was a full throated debate– as it should be– I’m personally glad they don’t all just go along with each other—and I don’t agree with all those negative terms given as the response of the public– I don’t mean that I don’t think people said that–I am sure they did — I think people pretty much define everything the way the media has presented it to them. The media tells us for some extended time that we are depressed sad and lonely and then asks how many of you are depressed sad and lonely, followed by “the sky is falling 85 percent of Americans are sad and depressed and lonely”!

  • Democracy should be a pressure valve not a way to actually run government.

  • What do you mean?

  • When the American people vote for divided government, which they usually do, they can expect the debates that ensue to be full-throated and often unedifying. Politics is not a college debate with applause for all concerned at the end. Big issues are never resolved in the political arena without a huge amount of struggle, and that is precisely what we are seeing now. People outside the arena often will call for people to agree on a solution and work together. This is said usually because most people have the charming conviction that all reasonable people would naturally agree with their ideas if voices were lowered and sweet reasonableness were the order of the day. This of course is a delusion, and why most people find close observation of the legislative process unsettling.

  • “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default” said Greenspan on yesterday’s NBC’s Meet the Press

    I’ve been at this “insanity” long enough to remember that Greenspan was on the wrong side of the run-up to the S&L crisis. Then, I was mildly surprised at his retooling as guru/Fed Chmn. Now, this.

    I ‘heart’ it. Give the Congress, Obama, Geithner, the Bernank, etc. more power to ruin us.

    B’ruck Omama can phone President-for-Life Mugabe and ask him to email the PDF file SOP on printing up hyperinflation.

  • I’ve been at this “insanity” long enough to remember that Greenspan was on the wrong side of the run-up to the S&L crisis. Then, I was mildly surprised at his retooling as guru/Fed Chmn. Now, this.

    No. You. Don’t. Dr. Greenspan was the proprietor of a consulting firm in New York from 1954 to 1987. He was an advisor to Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign in 1968 and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for a period of two years and change (1974-77). His modest forays into public life antedated the corrosion of the loan portfolios of savings banks. At the time he assumed office as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, fully a third of the country’s savings banks were distressed. The supervisory staff of the Federal Reserve Board is responsible for examination of a selection of commercial banks. Savings banks were not and are not a part of their portfolio.

    The Federal Home Loan Bank Board was responsible for supervising savings banks. Edwin Gray was the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. He tried for years without success to interest both Congress and the press in the deteriorating condition of Federal Savings & Loans. What was Greenspan supposed to have done?

  • A.D.: I was referring to Congressional Committee testimony that Mr. G. offered as a privately compensated consultant in support of the bankrupt S&L’s being granted lending authority to lend on commercial real estate developments, ADC lending we call it. That massive insured deposit funded boondoggle magnified the costs of the FSLIC/RTC clean up by a factor of 10 or 20 times.

    You did not have to type so much. You previously provided full evidence of your ignorance.

  • Dial it down T. Shaw. Personal insults never strengthen a person’s argument.

  • I apologize. But, . . . He jumped me.

    It is frustrating. This country is rushing to ruin and we have to endure and answer data mining ideologues in Never Land 24/7 repeating liberal talking points . . .

  • My regrets.

    Dr. Greenspan offered congressional testimony on 27 February 1985 in favor of allowing savings banks to make direct investments in real estate projects. He also wrote memoranda to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board around the same time recommending that the practice be allowed. (The Board ignored him). He also wrote a letter to the board requesting for a client a waiver of their prohibition on direct investments. The client was Charles Keating’s bank. (The Board ignored that too).

    Dr. Greenspan testified in front of congressional committees 68 times between January of 1977 and July of 1987. Two appearances concerned savings banks, one on the effects of inflation and the other on regulatory questions.

  • A.D.: Thanks for helping me out here.

    Dr. Greenspan’s endorsement of the S&Ls’ magnifying their losses (covered by the US taxpayers) by twenty times over (to $200 billion, plus never-ending interest expenses – estimated now $500 billion and counting) was much more intelligent than this latest exemplar of brilliance:

    “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default” said Greenspan on yesterday’s NBC’s Meet the Press

    PS: Had the FHLBB seized insolvent S&L’s when they were insolvent (negative net interest margin from 6% APR, 30 year mortgages funded by 10% short term deposits), the FSLIC fund would have been quickly depleted and the taxpayer would have been on the hook for say $20 billion. Even a progressive must agree that a $20 billion loss is preferable to a $200 billion loss.

    Pursuant to Greenspan’s (and McCain’s and Cong. Wright’s, and et alles’) advice the costs to resolve brain dead S&L’s were magnified. The taxpayers’ losses were NOT from direct investments (that was way before Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall). They were defaulted commercial real estate (CRE) loans and acquisition, development and construction (ADC) loans advanced to build billions of square feet of excess/surplus commercial real estate space that were never rented, never sold and never repaid. Prior to that S&L’s could only make loans on one-to-four family residential with mortgages as collateral. FSLIC-insured deposits provided the relatively unlimited liquidity. A similar dynamic was extra liquidity provided by FNMA/FHLMC secondary market guaranties ($2.7 trillion guarantied, plus $1.8 trillion they hold) from 1999 to 2007.

    Capt. Nathan Brittles, “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.”

73 Responses to Bibi & Barry

  • …This is rather depressing– Bibi was cute!

  • You talking about Bibi and Barack or Rahm Emanuel and George W. Bush?

  • Benjamin’s brother, Jonathan, is a legend in Israel. He was the head of Sayeret Maktal (Israel’s Seal Team 6) and the only Israeli commando who died during the raid on Entebbe. Benjamin was also a member of Sayeret.

    Their father, Benzion Netanyahu, was a fierce Zionist and scholar of the Spanish Inquisition, who argued that Jewish efforts to placate the Spaniards were futile from the outset. I don’t think most Americans can understand how the current Prime Minister processes the question of Israel’s survival–it’s hardwired.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/opinion/17goldberg.html?pagewanted=1

  • “I don’t think most Americans can understand how the current Prime Minister processes the question of Israel’s survival–it’s hardwired.”

    Considering the history of the Jews, especially the recent history of the Jews, I think it is astonishing that the Israelis have been willing to take any steps for peace that involve diminishing their security one iota. If I were a Jew I would suspect that if we were about to be massacred in Israel, the non-Jewish world, with the exception of the US (although under Obama I think that exception might be shaky), would look on with cool indifference, unless they were viewing it with rabid enthusiasm.

  • I completely agree.

    In light of history, the Jews should annex large portions of the West Bank.

    The rest they should divest to Jordan and give Gaza back to Egypt.

    They were invaded and successfully repealed the invading Muslim armies. They have every right to do what they wish with the West Bank and Gaza.

    As for the other point I mentioned, let the remaining land, of whatever is left after Israel fairly stakes their claims decide if they want to be the Lichtenstein of the Muslim world or merge with Jordan and Egypt.

  • RR,

    You mean the Rahm Emmanuel that shot at US Navy ships and killed countless American sailors and the W. Bush that served in the National Guard defending the greatest nation on God’s green earth?

    You need to make a bigger lie, a la Hitler, to even think of getting away with the psuedohistory that you peddle brother.

  • Anachronistic, Tito. Lattes were rare if not unknown in the northeastern United States when B.O. was that age.

  • Art Deco,

    I believe.

    I absolutely couldn’t tell you the difference between 3 day old spoiled chocolate milk and a latte or decaf, or a capuchino.

  • You talking about Bibi and Barack or Rahm Emanuel and George W. Bush?

    Rahm Emanuel served for a couple weeks during the Gulf War as a civilian assistant to the IDF dealing with anti-aircraft defenses.

    George W. Bush served in the National Guard flying fighter jets.

    I’m not clear how Emanuel is supposed to rate as having “fought for the survival of the Jewish State” or Bush gets cast as being like Obama.

    Which is not to say that the comparison of Netanyahu and Obama’s activities in their early 20s is hugely relevant to how good they are as heads of state now — it mostly just serves to underline that Netanyahu is an interesting person while Obama is not particularly.

    Gotta love the pictures, though.

  • “You mean the Rahm Emmanuel that shot at US Navy ships and killed countless American sailors”

    Talk about pseudo-history!

  • The pot calling kettle black.

    It just dawned on you?

    /sarcasm off

  • While I find Bibi an appealing personality, I think he is making a strategic blunder of potentially dire proportions. To quote Jonathan Chait:

    During the first quarter-century of Israel’s existence, the prospect of a massed conventional military invasion constituted the greatest threat to its existence. That’s no longer true. The greatest dangers today are the combination of demographic and political threats posed by the growing relative size of the Arab population west of the Jordan river, terrorism, and the loss of legitimacy posed by a continuing occupation and counter-terrorism policy in the West Bank and Gaza. Those dangers all dwarf the potential that armored columns of Arab armies will cut Israel in half. The tragedy is that huge swaths of the Israeli right and its sympathizers (both Jewish and Gentile) have failed to grasp this, and have placed it in danger of succumbing to the mortal new threat while guarding against the antiquated one.

  • Strategically, they should probably bomb the blank out of the surrounding areas, inform any neighbors that providing weapons to terrorists is an act of war, and generally act in a rather deadly manner to those who live near them.

    Negotiating with those who 1) don’t hold to agreements and 2) aren’t even expected to hold their agreements is a Bad Idea.

    Let’s not hope too hard for them to think strategically, given what the body count would be…. *shudder*

  • Strategically, they should probably bomb the blank out of the surrounding areas, inform any neighbors that providing weapons to terrorists is an act of war, and generally act in a rather deadly manner to those who live near them.

    As strategy this leaves something to be desired.

  • As strategy this leaves something to be desired.

    As does the fool’s bargain with those who will not hold faith, as does falling back to indefensible borders, as does committing mass suicide (directly, since most strategies end up being this….)

    It’s hard to have a really desirable strategy when you’re surrounded by those who think you have no right to exist, let alone be successful.

  • It strikes me that Chait has a point that the 9 mile depth of the old Israeli territory that Netanyahu doesn’t want to go back it is not the danger that it was in the 40s-70s, for the reason that Israel now has such incredible and obvious military superiority over all its direct neighbors that one would imagine that actual states would have the wisdom not to attack and face the choice that either:

    a) The Israeli conventional military would defeat them quickly and spectacularly or else

    b) If things seemed tight, Israel would nuke them.

    That said, for those same reasons, I’m not sure that Israel necessarily needs to make seriously dangerous sacrifices in the interest of “legitimacy” with countries that would tend not to like them anyway. (Turkey and Western Europe seem unlikely to become their fans no matter what, much less their immediate neighbors.)

    This probably means it would make sense for them to pull out of parts but not all of the West Bank and then announce that cross border attacks will be treated as acts of war — but one thing that probably is not in the cards is that the Palestinian leadership announce they are actually happy with any deal that’s ever offered.

  • Being that the West Bank is the high ground and of strategic importance to Israel, I would see their need in taking it back. If I were President Obama, I would stay out of the fray, except to ensure rights for Christians who are native to the area. Unfortunately, our President always makes the wrong moves and ruffles the feathers of the wrong people.

  • Foxfire,

    There’s nothing indefensible about the pre-1967 borders. The idea that Israel would be at risk from an invasion by Jordan if it returned to those borders is a bad joke.

    The Palestinians have long since abandoned the idea that you can defeat Israel by military force. Instead, the new plan is to try and turn Israel into a pariah state akin to Rhodesia or South Africa. The way you counter that threat is by ending the occupation. That was Sharon’s vision (roughly), and if he hadn’t had a stroke he may well have pulled it off.

  • I very much doubt if there is any diplomatic solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians, the vast majority in any case, have never come to terms with Israel as a permanent reality. They assume that something will occur which will remove Israel from the equation and they only have to wait. Israel is often compared in Palestinian writings to the ephemeral Crusader States of the twelfth and thirteenth century and the Palestinians view time as being on their side.

    The main military threat to Israel is not conventional, although I would note that Israel suddenly has a potentially hostile Egypt now on its southern border. The military threat to Israel comes from a massive terrorist strike involving WMDS probably backed by Iran. I have heard that the Israelis have viewed with increasing alarm the infighting going on within Iran’s leadership fearing that it may presage an attack on them. Things will get very dicey over there before this year is out.

  • BA-
    how about that it involves abandoning tons of their citizens? How about that it involves giving in to terrorists that aren’t going to be happy until they’re gone– and probably not even then? And who on earth limited it to Jordan?

    The military folks that I know are good with this stuff say they’re indefensible to easily foreseeable Arab aggression–even if one ignores whatever the frick happens with the “Palestinians.” (A radio show that is pretty representative of what the folks I trust say would be “Dark Secret Place“– the host of which is no big Israel fan, incidentally, although he’s not hostile.

  • The main military threat to Israel is not conventional, although I would note that Israel suddenly has a potentially hostile Egypt now on its southern border. The military threat to Israel comes from a massive terrorist strike involving WMDS probably backed by Iran.

    The Egyptian army is not a real threat to Israel. Iran is a real threat, but to do that you need U.S. support. The best spin I can put on Bibi’s actions is that he’s written Obama off as an ally and is trying to hurt his chance at reelection in the hopes of having someone more favorably inclined get elected President.

  • I would note the Prime Minister and the Likkud are now saying this was overblown by the media.

    And not to be offering an opinion but just correcting the misstatement that “They were invaded and successfully repealed the invading Muslim armies” I would remind folks that almost all of the uniformed Christians in this conflict were among the invaders.

  • how about that it involves abandoning tons of their citizens?

    What Obama outlined doesn’t involve abandoning any Israeli citizens.

    How about that it involves giving in to terrorists that aren’t going to be happy until they’re gone – and probably not even then?

    It’s not about making the Palestinians happy. It’s about removing their main weapon against you (which I suspect will make them very unhappy).

    And who on earth limited it to Jordan?

    Given where the border is, it’s pretty much geographically limited to Jordan.

    If the idea is that a Jordanian attack would be accompanied by attacks by other Arab states, well, that’s been tried before. In 1967 it took the Israelis six days to rout the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. If there was a repeat today it would probably take about six hours.

  • What Obama outlined doesn’t involve abandoning any Israeli citizens.

    *snort* Yeah, sure, if Israel can talk the Palestinians into trading them.
    “Here, I’ll give you all this land that I have right now– and then we’ll work on trades, how about that? Oh, by the way, will you trade me the west bank where most of our 300,000-ish settlers live?

    It’s not about making the Palestinians happy. It’s about removing their main weapon against you (which I suspect will make them very unhappy).

    How does giving in remove their ability to badmouth Israel? Look at how they removed the last weapon– by destroying the tactic, not by rewarding it.

    Given where the border is, it’s pretty much geographically limited to Jordan.

    And Palestine–wherever that ends up being– and anyone that the Palestinians let march right on in, and Egypt with whoever the Muslim Brotherhood wants to come in, and Syria, and Lebanon.
    That’s before we even start thinking about sea and air power, and assumes that— ha!– terrorism stops.

    If the idea is that a Jordanian attack would be accompanied by attacks by other Arab states, well, that’s been tried before.

    I thought you were upset about fighting the last conflict when the facts on the ground have changed?

    I missed it the first time, but my dark suggestion actually agrees with your statement– the way to win is to end the occupation. There’s two ways to end any occupation, only one of which doesn’t leave Israel with an even bigger border and a reputation for backing down from attacks.

  • The Palestinians have long since abandoned the idea that you can defeat Israel by military force. Instead, the new plan is to try and turn Israel into a pariah state akin to Rhodesia or South Africa. The way you counter that threat is by ending the occupation.

    I get that, and it strikes me as the strongest argument for a unilateral pull-out from most or all of the West Bank. I guess I’m still a little uncertain, though, as to how effective this would be in stopping the attempt to label Israel as a pariah state.

    Admittedly, they haven’t left Gaza entirely alone since pulling out (though their interventions were provoked) but the pull out there has if anything increased the pressure on them from that quarter not reduced it.

    I’m not entirely sure one could be confident that the same would not be the case with the West Bank if they did a unilaterial withdrawal.

    If the idea is that a Jordanian attack would be accompanied by attacks by other Arab states, well, that’s been tried before. In 1967 it took the Israelis six days to rout the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. If there was a repeat today it would probably take about six hours.

    There, I agree. And indeed, if Jordan was willing to actually take back the West Bank, I would imagine that Israel would jump at the chance, as then they’d have the rest of Jordan to also aim force at if the West Bank got out of hand. The thing which makes the West Bank so problematic is that it seems little to willing to immolate itself if Israel is likely to get burned in the process. And it’s so messed up already, it’s not as if threats to blockade or bomb it are really all that efficacious. (Which, at the same time, is why it’s almost impossible for Israel to police when they are in charge.)

  • “The Egyptian army is not a real threat to Israel.”

    It came very, very close to being a major threat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and without Nixon’s airlift of supplies the Israelis might have faced a very precarious military situation in the Sinai. Now the main problem it presents for Israel is that their military can no longer count on a quiet border with Egypt in a crisis.

  • *snort* Yeah, sure, if Israel can talk the Palestinians into trading them.

    The Palestinians aren’t likely to agree to any peace deal. Since the Palestinians aren’t going to agree to a peace deal, it serves no purpose for Israel to let itself be perceived as the one who won’t agree to a peace deal. In fact it is positively harmful, since it allows the Palestinians and their allies to paint Israel, rather than the Palestinians, as the obstacle.

    How does giving in remove their ability to badmouth Israel?

    The Palestinians can say whatever they want. The question is whether anyone will listen.

    I submit that that people are more likely to feel sympathy for the Palestinians if (1) Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, and (2) Israel is perceived as being unwilling to negotiate a peace deal. It therefore behooves Israel to try to eliminate these sources of Palestinian sympathy if it can do so consistent with its own security (which it can).

    And Palestine–wherever that ends up being– and anyone that the Palestinians let march right on in, and Egypt with whoever the Muslim Brotherhood wants to come in, and Syria, and Lebanon.

    As I said before, if it came down to it, the IDF could rout the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon in about six hours. They really really are not a threat to Israel’s security. Anyone who tells you different is either lying to you or doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  • I think there’s a lot to what BA is saying, but I agree with Don regarding sweeping generalizations about the Arab militaries. In the air–perhaps. But on the ground, the Egyptians and Syrians fought very, very well in 1973, as did Hezbollah back in 2006.

  • “The Egyptian army is not a real threat to Israel.”

    It came very, very close to being a major threat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War

    That was 40 years ago when Egypt had Soviet backing and was, if not at the height of their power, then at least a lot closer to it than they are now.

  • The Palestinians can say whatever they want. The question is whether anyone will listen.

    If it’s a hammer against Israel, they’ll listen. Facts haven’t changed anything thus far, and I doubt they’ll change things in the future.

  • I wouldn’t overestimate Israel’s ability to fend off another multi-nation attack. Yes, on paper it may look like a cake walk even compared to their earlier victories. However, war doesn’t usually play out like it does on paper. It wasn’t five years ago when Israel entered Lebanon and pulled out in a month. I don’t think they even claim that campaign a success.

  • Darwin,

    There is a kind of fatalism among some on the right when it comes to public perceptions of Israel. The view is basically that it doesn’t matter what Israel does, the people who don’t like her won’t like her, while the people who support her will stand by her.

    I don’t think that’s right. You mention Turkey and Western Europe, for example, as countries that aren’t going to like Israel no matter what. Yet Israel either has or has had excellent relations with both Turkey and Western Europe. Certainly there are some people who will oppose Israel no matter what, but there are also lots of people whose attitude towards the Mideast is going to be determined by whether Israel seems like an oppressive colonial power or a country that wants peace and is only defending its right to exist.

    In the long run continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank is untenable. Either it will have to make the area and its inhabitants part of Israel proper (which for demographic reasons would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state) or it must withdraw from them.

  • It wasn’t five years ago when Israel entered Lebanon and pulled out in a month.

    This was for political rather than military reasons. Militarily the IDF could have occupied Lebanon for as long as it wanted.

    I would note that during the early days of the war, western opinion was almost universal in support of Israel, and even the Arab states were publicly muted and privately supporting (belying the claims that people will condemn Israel regardless of what happens). It was only once it became clear that Israel wasn’t going to really commit to destroying Hezbollah but instead was going to use bombing to affect Lebanese opinion that support evaporated.

  • It was only once it became clear that Israel wasn’t going to really commit to destroying Hezbollah but instead was going to use bombing to affect Lebanese opinion that support evaporated.

    Definitely not how I remember it. More like, Israel was actually attacking Hezbollah instead of doing a quick smack after they were invaded and had their soldiers taken captive. While rockets kept firing into their country, too– I CAN remember failing to be surprised that Israel’s bombing got condemned, but the stuff headed their way was just accepted.

  • There is a kind of fatalism among some on the right when it comes to public perceptions of Israel. The view is basically that it doesn’t matter what Israel does, the people who don’t like her won’t like her, while the people who support her will stand by her.

    I don’t think that’s right. You mention Turkey and Western Europe, for example, as countries that aren’t going to like Israel no matter what. Yet Israel either has or has had excellent relations with both Turkey and Western Europe.

    I think there’s a measure of truth to this, I’m just not sure I’d take it as far.

    Yes, Turkey and Western Europe were both fairly positive on Israel for a while, but in Western Europe there’s a three way set of motivators to stay anti-Israel now that they’ve got there:

    – Opposing Israel as a colonialist power helps them feel about their colonialist pasts.
    – Seeing Israel as a wicked or at least ambivalent power helps them feel less guilty about the Holocaust (since it suggests that the Jews are no better than they are and would have done the same thing given the chance.)
    – It fits with a pattern of Antisemitism which is a lot older and more rooted than the more recent period of good feelings toward Israel.

    Given all these (and the fact that Israel’s enemies can sell them oil while Israel can’t) I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect Europe to feel much differently about Israel any time soon, even if Israel takes the high road in every way possible.

    Turkey, on the other hand, has had it’s own massive demographic shift over the last couple generations which may well make it permanently a religiously oriented power rather than a secular one — and one way for it to try to return to being a leader among religiously focused nations in its region is via opposing Israel.

    That said — I’d agree that some sort of unilateral “peace deal” on Israel’s part, which involves “giving back” the parts of the West Bank which Israel can obviously never govern peacefully is the right thing to do. I just think that they’ll get no credit for it except among their traditional supporters and continue to be portrayed as a colonialist power. (Though behind closed doors, I would imagine that most of the Arab governments will continue to be glad to see them make the heavy blows against the local terrorist organizations when necessary.)

  • An interesting take on the differences of cultures.

  • Despite mass media spin and what Israel would like to believe, it is not “a Jewish state.” There are 500,000 Palestinians living in Israel, a quarter of the population, and this is the reason why the Jews are against “the right of return.” In no time, they would become a minority.

  • Of course the Arabs, after the 48 war, chased about a million Jews over the years out of their countries, not infrequently confiscating their property. The vast majority of these refugees made a new home for themselves in Israel. Too bad the Arab world, with a vastly greater land mass and resources, did not make new homes for the refugee Palistinians, instead keeping them in “refugee” camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to this very day, the better to stoke their hatred of Israel and use as pawns in the neverending war against the Jewish State. There are even “refugee” camps in the West Bank and Gaza which is absolutely farcial.

  • Yes, Turkey and Western Europe were both fairly positive on Israel for a while, but in Western Europe there’s a three way set of motivators to stay anti-Israel now that they’ve got there

    I don’t think it’s as bad as that. I can think of a number of current or recent European leaders, Blair, Sarkozy, Aznar, etc. who have been decently pro-Israel, and the overall trend in Europe is towards anti-immigrant parties who tend to be more favorably disposed to Israel. Overall Western Europe tends to be a lot more anti-Israel than the U.S. but then in general the political spectrum tends to be shifted leftward in Europe as compared to the U.S. on pretty much every issue.

  • I think Paul Johnson in his excellent book, “The History of the Jews,” points out there were at least 3 times the Palestinians/Arabs could have had a better deal, their own state, etc. but rejected all attempts, always holding out for more while Israel gave more than it got. Perhaps this long-running conflict will never been solved because Esau got outwitted by Jacob and never forgave him and never will.

  • The Palestinians Joe have had the worst leadership of any population since World War II with the exception of the North Koreans, and that is saying a mouthful. They never miss an opportunity to fail to give a forwarding address to all potential opportunities.

  • I have no sympathy or concern for the Palestinians, who have become progressively more radicalized Islamists. I do have concern and pity for the Arab Christians.

    I have only slight concern for Israel, a secular, liberal country which, while formally secular, continuously advances religious reasons for its existence and permanence, reasons ridiculously embraced by American Evangelicals. It’s ironic to see an aborting, sexually immoral, modern western nation defended as the “sacred homeland of the Jewish people,” as if the Patriarchs and Prophets would supporters of the Israeli state.

    In any event, I don’t see that we have a dog in this fight. Support of Israel has done nothing for our national interests since the fall of Communism (when Israel was a counter-weight in the Middle East). I don’t particularly wish to see Israel fall, but don’t think preventing that is worth one drop of American blood.

  • I agree, Tom, that Israel, armed to the teeth by the U.S. already and possessing nukes, can take care of itself no matter how many fronts it has to fight. The Arabs, far from united in purpose and strategy, are vastly overmatched in weaponry and soldiering skills. It should be noted that Israelis are not monolithic either in their views, with a political and religious spectrum that runs the gamut. Nor is a drop of American blood for Iraq/Libya/Afghanistan worth it.

  • I’m warm to the idea of hitting the Islamists, with whom we ARE at war, whether we want to acknowledge it or not (Libyan intervention would not be related to fighting Islam, so I can’t see our national interest there). Only to that extent do I see Israel as offering us anything of interest: they’ve got an impressive military and intelligence leg up on radical Islam. But I don’t care to see the Holy Land in the hands of a secular Israel any more than I would care to see it in the hands of the Moslems.

  • “But I don’t care to see the Holy Land in the hands of a secular Israel any more than I would care to see it in the hands of the Moslems.”

    They are the only two games in town Tom, and I much prefer the Israelis controling the Holy Land than the adherents of the Religion of Peace.

  • Agreed, Don, but only insofar as for the time being Israel shows more willingness to allow Christian access to the holy places. Whether they would be so accomodating if they didn’t need to curry favor with the West, who knows? You can guess and I can guess, but that’s what they are: guesses.

    That issue aside, I see no compelling national interest at stake for us in picking sides in this fight, at least as far as our blood or treasure is concerned.

  • Tom,

    Since 1948 the Christian population under Israeli control has more than doubled.

    In the West Bank and Gaza, it has dropped from 20% to barely 1%.

    Combined with the fact that even though Israel treats Catholic Holy Sites with contempt, they do allow access and have ruled in the Church’s favor time and again whenever it was confronted with Radical Muslims demanding space near Christian holy sites.

    I’ll take a hedonistic Israel over an anti-Christian/radical Islamist state any day of the year, decade, or century.

  • Sure, if that’s the only choice. But that’s hardly reason to support Israel qua Israel, and certainly not to the extent this country has. let’s not forget Johnathan Pollard– Israel spies on us not for just diplomatic reasons, but for military technology.

    We ought to keep both the Islamists and the Israelis at arm’s length.

  • Comparing Esau to the Palestinians is rather unfair ( to Esau). Some time after he had been cheated of his birthright, Esau went on to become a rich man through his own efforts. The Bible records that he forgave his cowardly brother and continued to maintain good relations with him. A most likeable and unusual man. Anyone who has gone through the trauma of a property division would recognise immediately that Esau was a gem of a man, a man in a million. He received some negative publicity from the Talmudists, who were concerned to present Jacob as a paragon of virtue. But the Bible takes a more relaxed view of these things; who among us knows how he will behave under similar circumstances?

    Had the Palestinians been largely Christian, the dispute between them and the Israelis would have been solved years ago, through mutual forgiveness and a sincere desire to let bygones be bygones. Being Muslims, peace with the Israelis is for them impossible short of the Second Coming. Their model and proximate idea of peace is the hudna – the temporarising ceasefire – that the pervert Mohamed agreed to liberally whenever he did not hold the upper hand militarily. Their ultimate ideal of peace is of course far worse, submission to the dead hand of Islam as befell the Bani Quraytha – Jews who could not hold their own against the grasping hand of the prophet of Islam. For this reason I hold all the peacemongers including sadly some nutcases in the Vatican to be misguided fools or worse.

  • Ivan,

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Bibi is a soldier and a mensch. Obama is a crafty community agitator and a cunning demagogue.

    Israeli/Jewish interests are not exactly equivalent to American/Catholic interests. They are closer than terrorists” interests.

    The enemy of my enemy . . .

  • I don’t have my comparative religion text on hand, but isn’t Esau the traditional ancestor of the Arab people?

    (Took a class several years ago…it was pretty good once one accepted that they viewed all religion like mythology, dead and with no real authority to what this or that group believed. Compared to the actively hostile to X and Y group ones, that’s pretty good.)

    Other than that, agreed, Ivan.

  • The Muslims Foxfier regard Abraham’s son Ishmael as being the father of several Arab tribes. He is regarded by them as one of the great prophets and a forefather of Muhammed.

  • “The Muslims Foxfier regard Abraham’s son Ishmael as being the father of several Arab tribes. He is regarded by them as one of the great prophets and a forefather of Muhammed.”

    From Dale Price’s Comprehensive Warehouse of Useless Trivia:

    In Byzantine historical sources, the Arabs are routinely referred to as “Hagarenes” in reference to Ishmael’s mother.

  • Malachi 1:3 (New International Version)

    3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

  • Looking at my Catholic edition of the New American Bible, it notes that “hated” should be read as “rejected,” and “loved” as “preferred,” and notes that St. Paul used the passage to point out God can call the Gentiles to Him if He wishes.

  • Hamas rejects Obama’s call for a return to the 67 borders:

    “Speaking to Al-Emirate Al-Youm, Zahar asked “Why won’t we talk about the 1948 borders? Why won’t we discuss the partition plan which was internationally recognized?””

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/05/24/hamas-rejects-the-1967-borders-too/

    That would be the partition plan which was agreed to by Israel and rejected by the Arabs. As if Hamas would be satisfied with a do-over that would roll back the clock to 1947. Anything less than a Juden Frei Palestine is merely a step in the right direction as far as they are concerned.

  • ALSO; Bibi knows what the year is, although he doesn’t use AD.

    Obama (today signed register 24 May 2008) believes it’s 2008 in Great Britain.

    Can you imagine the media/intellectualistas’ reaction if Sarah Palin or any Republican was so bloody stupid?

    Maybe Bibi didn’t do HIGH school HIGH on WEED, either.

    Hey, let’s bring the federal budget back to the 1967 limits!

  • BA,

    You may be right on that, I’ll admit that I tend heavily towards the more cynical approach.

  • I’m not upto speed on Malachi, but isn’t it a much later book with all the overlay of subsequent history? The Catholic Encyclopedia appear confused; Jacob had cheated his brother and thus he had every reason to be wary. Unless this a cautionary tale of a fool and his money going their seperate ways, I do not see any significance in describing Esau as a ‘greedy’ man, when to a modern ear Jacob is clearly the malefactor. Yes Esau married many wives, but Jacob was no slacker in that department either.

  • That issue aside, I see no compelling national interest at stake for us in picking sides in this fight, at least as far as our blood or treasure is concerned.

    We have never devoted any manpower to the defense of Israel. About 11% of the foreign aid budget is distributed to Israel, or about $3 bn. That would amount to about 2% of Israel’s domestic product.

    they’ve got an impressive military and intelligence leg up on radical Islam

    But apparently, we should not contribute to maintaining it.

    It’s ironic to see an aborting, sexually immoral, modern western nation defended as the “sacred homeland of the Jewish people,”

    Israel has a lot of black hats. That aside, your objection would apply to the defense of any occidental country, including our own. One is reminded of George Kennan’s remark (ca 1980) that he did not care for the expense and risks necessary to defend the porno shops of Washington, D.C.

    I gather that with the death of Joseph Sobran, you think it necessary to take his place.

  • Ivan-
    looks to me like they made a deal. A bad deal, but a deal. Reading the translation in my home Bible, the main similarity is that they both emphasize that Esau cared so little for what-would-be as opposed to what-is that he sold his birthright for immediate gratification. Betting that’s about as big a no-no as you can get in such a culture, kind of like how we’re horrified that folks name their child after a retail product.

  • Art, yep I figured it would not take long for the ad hominems to start once the most modest suggestion is made that support of Israel is not in our national interest.

    You’re absolutely right, though, I don’t think we should be spending a single dime of our money on any of our 1st world allies, but certainly not on Israel, since whether there’s a Jewish state or a Palestinian state, or a mixture of the two in that region is of zero interest to American security.

    As late as yesterday, Netanyahu was calling Israel “the Jewish state.” I don’t think it’s out of bounds to question the duality involved in claiming that Israel is some sort of religious homeland while simultaneously Israel is as aggressively secular as any western nation.

    And what other country could get away with claiming to be a religious state? Would we tolerate Ireland, for instance, referring to itself as “a Catholic state” much less “THE Catholic state?” We criticize Iran and other Islamic states who are conciously and self-identified as religious… why not Israel?

  • Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?

  • Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?

    I know we spied on them during the Vietnam era– pretty openly, too.

  • Again, in Israel, Bibi could not give 1,372 waivers from Obamacare to his friends; nor tell Boeing to building its assembly plant somewhere far away from South Carolina; nor use Israeli tax police to punish criminal organizations guilty of supporting opposition political candidates.

    Tom,

    I was where you are until 0846 hours 11 Sep 2001.

    From then on (for me), support of israel became our national interest.

    Ditto, Fox. During the 1973 war, we were 24/7 flying SR-71’s over Israel. If I told you more, I’d have to shoot myself.

  • Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?

    Ages ago. Friendly nations spy on each other all the time. We do it, and we’d be stupid not to.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2106079/

  • Art, yep I figured it would not take long for the ad hominems to start

    Rubbish. Your remarks resemble the late Mr. Sobran’s with near precision. (Down to the argumentitive contrivance below). Sorry the comparison bothers you. He remains revered by the Rockford Institute.

    As late as yesterday, Netanyahu was calling Israel “the Jewish state.” I don’t think it’s out of bounds to question the duality involved in claiming that Israel is some sort of religious homeland

    The term ‘Jewish’ denotes an ethnic group and a cultural minority as well as a confessional one. That’s the ‘duality’.

  • “Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?”

    We spied on the Brits during World War II all the time, and they returned the favor. I can’t think of two closer allies, but routine spying is simply a fact of life between nations.

  • Foxfier,
    I have to agree that Esau’s flippancy meant that he did not deserve the responsibility of being the father of Israel.

  • Much of the 3bn that the US provides to Israel is in reality a cross subsidy to the US arms industry. Giving F16s to the Israelis who are unlikely to use them against US interests, is far better than giving them to either Egypt or Pakistan. The Israelis are the only ones who can field test US weapons and associated tactics given their peculiar circumstances. The 3bn aid should considered a part of the defence R&D budget.

Why Doesn’t Warren Buffet Pay Extra Taxes?

Monday, May 16, AD 2011

This WSJ editorial caught my eye, because it makes a seemingly valid point about wealthy people who call for higher taxes on the rich.

I wish I had a dollar for every time a wealthy liberal has declared he thinks he should pay more taxes. That list includes Warren Buffett, George Soros, Bill Gates Sr., Mark Zuckerberg and even Barack Obama, who now says that not only should rich people like him pay more taxes, they want to pay more. “I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me,” he said of his tax-hike plan. “They want to give back to the country that’s done so much for them.”

So why don’t they? There is a special fund at the Treasury Department for taxpayers who want to make “gift contributions to reduce debt held by the public.” But very few do. Last year that fund and others like it raised a grand total of $300 million. That’s a decimal place on Mr. Zuckerberg’s net worth and pays for less than two hours worth of federal borrowing.

I understand the basic satisfaction of saying, “Look, mister, if you really want to pay more taxes, no one is stopping you,” but I don’t think that it’s actually a very good argument. The reason why people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet advocate for higher taxes but don’t voluntarily pay higher taxes than the law requires is pretty obvious:

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21 Responses to Why Doesn’t Warren Buffet Pay Extra Taxes?

  • As Walter Williams and others have noted, higher tax rates on the rich, even rates of 100%, will not eliminate annual budget deficits and do nothing to address the cumulative national debt. Reduced spending is the only feasible mechanism for addressing the national debt.

  • Total commie lib Dem idiot BS………….

    Is this the type of educational thought comming from Catholic schools?

    No wonder the brain washed Catholics tend to vote Democrat.

  • Miller,

    Agreed. Federal spending is currently above the norm in relation to GDP (a little of this is due to GDP shrinkage during the recession, but not all of it) and the US has no history of collecting vastly higher percentages of GDP in tax revenues, so spending has to go down. (Some European countries succeed in getting much more of the GDP in taxes, but they do this by taxing the heck out of the middle class as well as the rich, and we in the US middle class won’t put up with that.)

    My point here is pretty modest: That it’s not really shocking that Warren Buffet doesn’t voluntarily pay higher taxes even though he advocates that everyone have to pay higher taxes, so long as one makes the reasonable and obvious assumption that he’s basically a self interested party who doesn’t want to reduce his standing in society. Or in short, he’s selfish.

    The mistake that liberals make is in thinking that there’s anything selfless about Buffet’s high tax advocacy.

  • “Buffet is clearly willing to give money away, but when he makes a direct donation to a non-profit he has a pretty good say in how that money will be used. If he simply writes a check to the Feds, he has very little.”
    So Warren Buffet wants to direct his charitable gifts to organizations that will use the money as he wants it to be used but feels others should be taxed so that their monies will be used as the government decides and dictates.
    The Obama administration is considering reducing or eliminating deductions for charitable donations which will make his ‘what is good for me but not for thee’ reasoning obsolete.
    As a taxpayer and one who contributes to many charitable organization, both religious and secular, I want to control how my contributions are spent,just as mr. Buffett and not how and to whom the government supports which support or fund practice which I oppose on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

  • “They are, clearly, willing to pay more (thus the advocacy) but only if they can do so in a way which doesn’t reduce their standing versus other rich people (and the rest of the country).”

    Actually, they want to reduce their standing compared to the less wealthy but not compared to the equally wealthy. They’re worried about income inequality. Or so I’ve been told.

    I hate it when Warren Buffet says he’s taxed at a lower rate than his secretary. Bershire pays taxes on his income but not on his secretary’s.

  • Consider this instead of a gift contribution: a bonfire. Burn a million, cold hard cash.
    What gives a product, any product, value: supply. Reduce supply, value goes up. Burn up a million, take a million out of circulation, and its worth goes up.

  • RR,

    Actually, they want to reduce their standing compared to the less wealthy but not compared to the equally wealthy.

    I guess sort of yes, sort of no. There are a couple million people in the top income bracket, and Buffet sits at the very top of that stack. If he gave more in taxes voluntarily, he’d effectively cede that place a bit, and since he doesn’t do that one assumes that he wants all of those couple million people (who virtually all make much less than he does) to take the same relative hit in high taxes that he does. But it’s true that compared to the other 98% of us, he’d be less unequal than before.

    I hate it when Warren Buffet says he’s taxed at a lower rate than his secretary. Bershire pays taxes on his income but not on his secretary’s.

    Yeah, no kidding. I’m but a lowly amateur econ wonk, but it’s downright disgraceful for someone of his stature to be going around acting as if he didn’t know that capital gains rates are lower than income rates on the theory that corporate profits are already taxed. You’d think someone like Buffet would be in a good position to advocate abolishing the corporate tax and setting capital gains to the same rate as income taxes, but no…

  • Buffet and Gates of course merely gain cheap good publicity by these statements. They have set up their vast fortunes skillfully enough, using the most able attorneys and accountants that money can buy, that any tax increase on them would be de minimis. As partisan Democrats, Buffet and Gates can make these type of statements all the time realizing that the taxes would hit people other than themselves. If they were doing this out of simple patriotism I think they would write out huge voluntary checks to the Treasury, but the last thing they want is for the US government to get more of their money, as opposed to more of the money of other people.

  • I think the point here: Buffett and Gates are talking about the government taking more of other people’s money.

    Up in the Bronx, they would say, “Talk is cheap.”

  • FWIW, I find it very hard to imagine that Buffet imagines a tax increase on the rich could be crafted that truly only taxed “other people” and not him. So I suspect he would expect to pay more taxes in the scenario he’s advocating. He’s just unwilling to do it unless everyone else in his class takes the same hit.

  • “FWIW, I find it very hard to imagine that Buffet imagines a tax increase on the rich could be crafted that truly only taxed “other people” and not him.”

    I do not. The tax code is one of the more byzantine productions in the perverted annals of the ingenuity of the tax man, and an individual with Buffett’s vast holdings can find plenty of legal ways to reduce his income to avoid paying taxes. His estate planning certainly indicates that he does not intend for the Feds to get much from his estate in regard to estate tax even though he is supposedly a big fan of the estate tax. When it comes to his theoretical love of taxes, Buffett is a fraud.

  • so spending has to go down.

    I think expenditures on the military & foreign relations, the federal police and courts and regulatory inspectorate, unemployment compensation, and benefits to the elderly currently exceed 15% of domestic product. If we are optimistic, the ratio of federal debt held by the public to domestic product will reach a plateau at about 0.9, meaning we are looking at service charges in the range of 4-5% of domestic product when interest rates return to historically normal levels (provided we retain our AAA credit rating). Military expenditure &c. has external drivers, fewer police means more disorder, unemployment compensation has external drivers, and reduction in benefits to the elderly is properly undertaken on a slow cohort-by-cohort basis. If you welsh on servicing the federal debt, country go blooey.

    So, you have miscellanous federal services (currently about 1.5% of domestic product) and grants to state and local government (currently about 4% of domestic product if you factor out the portion of nursing home charges ultimately satisfied by federal expenditure) to play around with freely. Have a nice day.

  • Art,

    Unless I’m much mistaken, however, federal spending is only a couple percent of GDP above it’s norm, while taxes are running a percent or two below their norm. There’s not a need for some massive change here. Cutting federal spending by around 2% of GDP in the long term (if it’s actually done) would pretty much re-stabilize the budget, although it wouldn’t pay down the debt with any great speed.

    The issue is, of course, that as you point out it’s not like there’s huge amounts of spending that can be cut without anyone noticing, and far too many voters currently support not cutting any real spending, while also not increasing taxes. (Whether they also support the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny remains unclear.)

  • Most voters really are not opposed to tax increases as long as they are increases on someone else, especially the “rich” which is what we now call high income earners — “high” being more than what they expect to earn anytime soon.

    Buffett could easily pay more taxes if he just paid himself a market salary which would be taxed at ordinary rates.

  • Since there is no law that allows the feds to collect an income tax and all ‘tax payers’ are engaging in ‘voluntary compliance’ under threat of property confiscation and imprisonment your argument holds no water. Buffet is free to ‘volunteer’ more to the Treasury if he likes. He won’t. Buffet and other uber-wealthy libtards like him are totally aware that the federal government operates by debt alone. It is debt acquired through the usurious alchemy of the Federal Reserve scheme that funds government. Our taxes merely service the debt and are also used as wealth transfers to other nations, often our enemies.

    The income tax scheme is designed to ensure that other ‘wealthy’ Americans can never acquire enough wealth to rival the uber-wealthy like Gates and Buffet. The income tax scheme is nothing more than social engineering and granting of monopoly privileges to the uber-wealthy, who tend to be America-hating progressives and Marxists. Like all Communists, they expect to live in ultra-luxury and command all the political and economic power while the rest of us proles live in controlled squalor. Of course, they don’t want us revolting, so we need to be medicated and entertained, so we will be happy with our servitude. Notice also that both Gates and Buffet and the rest of their ilk are always in favor of tax-subsidized ‘charitable’ giving to ‘population control’ tax-free NGOs and foundations. The whole thing is sick and frankly a discussion about why or why not they will volunteer more in taxes or not is a distraction from the fact that the actions of these men and men like them are sheer evil.

  • Whoa. I didn’t realize the shark looked so small as you sail by up here…

  • I’ll get your shark!

  • Now the shark, Gates and Buffett are playing Monopoly! (Or is that Class Struggle? I can’t quite make out the game board.) 🙂

  • I believe it is the tax code edition of Twister.

  • I prefer to play Marxopoly. It is a neat little game. I am the banker, no one else can be the banker. I print as much money as I want and I let some of the other players have some, of course, they owe me. I sit back and let them buy property, collect rent, etc. They have to make interest payments to me on the money I loaned them. I am always wealthier than all of them combined and every so often I will bankrupt one of them and take their property by crashing the market, of course I only take the choicest properties and I bail out some of the others so that they are even more indebted to me.

    They think they are engaged in a free market game and I just sit back and control everything through debt. if any of them catch on, I have the others wage war on the recalcitrant. Of course, they have to borrow more from me to wage the war and I make sure it lasts for a long time by funding both sides.

    We should play sometime. I always get to be the shark. 😉

  • I like the American Knight’s Marxopoly. I wonder if the lay staff at the USCCB (the ones with Obama stickers on their cars in the USCCB parking lot in Washington, DC) and the liberal Catholics who vote Democrat (do they ever in their partisanship vote for anything else?) realize that that’s the game they are playing. Probably not. Sheep can sometimes be so blind.