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The Morning Plum

* Good news: The Obama admininstration may sue to overturn the Arizona immigration law as early as next week.

* And: The Tea Party base is pressuring national Republican leaders to make the law an issue, which could put GOP leaders in a tough spot by complicating GOP Latino outreach in general and in big states.

* The new New York Times/CBS poll is rough on Obama over the economy: It finds that 54 percent say he has no clear plan to create jobs.

* And sizable majorities think Obama does not have a clear plan to stop the spill and failed to act quickly enough.

* But those concern the substance of his response, not the theatrics of it, and the poll's internals do serious damage to various pundit memes about Obama's inadequate emotional state.

* On the Obama-as-Spock nonsense: Only 26 percent think Obama doesn't care much or at all about people "whose lives have been directly affected" by the Gulf spill. And 62 percent say he cares about the problems of people like you.

* On the Obama-needs-to-be-a-strong-daddy nonsense: Sixty percent have a lot or some confidence in Obama's ability to handle a crisis, versus 39 percent who have some or none at all.

* The DNC keeps up the pressure on the GOP over the Joe Barton mess with this new ad on national cable featuring Barton, Rand Paul, and Michele Bachmann:

"Apologizing to BP? This is how Republicans would govern," the ad says, using the Barton mess to make the case that GOP gains in Congress would have actual consequences, so voters don't see the fall elections as merely a referendum on Dems.

* Some Republicans appear to recognize that Barton will remain a problem for them until he's forcibly removed from his Energy and Commerce Committee perch.

* The White House vows that Obama will show leadership in bringing Senators together on energy reform.

* Everybody's talking about the top Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal, who's being called into the White House for a spanking after he and his aides apparently dissed top administration officials to a Rolling Stone reporter.

As far as I can tell, a lot of it seems like anonymous aides sniping, though there are two quotes where McChrystal appears to mock Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke. And McChrystal is acknowledging serious error. More when we see the actual article.

* Marc Ambinder channels McChrystal's mental state in an effort to explain why this happened. Cliff notes version: He has a tough job and is mad about getting blamed for various things that are going wrong.

* And Digby notes that right-wing commentators are now openly calling Obama a "thug," rather than merely implying it with words like "shakedown."

Also: Digby imagines Obama's right wing fantasy "street" name: "Barry "Tupac' Obama, the Muslim gangbanger."

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  June 22, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , House GOPers , Immigration , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: In McChrystal article, insults are mostly anonymous, but...

Comments

McChrystal has to go period.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 22, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The public is being very unfair to Obama. His plan to "create jobs" is crystl clear: Spend, spend, spend, and spend some more, especially to fund imaginary "green jobs" manufacturing perpetual motion machines.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Will just point out that the McChrystal thing will bring Liz Cheney into the foreground again.

And it will be interesting, in watching the rightwing machine crank up, to contrast the Betrayus incident to this one. And in noting the differences/similarities here, one over-arching aspect will be highly visible - the totalitarians' love for a military strongman at the top (not a civilian who reads books).

Posted by: bernielatham | June 22, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Look, I am against illegal immigration, but at the same time I am feeling bad of the children of those illegals. Why should those children pay for the sins of their fathers. I don't think they should just be citizens, the ones that are brought here, I think they should either serve or do something to earn it, but they should definitely be able to. The parents or adults should never get it unless they leave and return the right way, else stay work, never get their citizenship or tax returns as payment for coming illegally. But check out this story I read about the Dream act

http://bit.ly/dxmSqr

Posted by: republicanblack | June 22, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

McChrystal doesn't need a spanking. He needs to be fired. He's been insubordinate before. This is two, too many.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see the right has graduated Obama from a wimp to a thug. Time for some thug-love.

Posted by: Virginia7 | June 22, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"The new New York Times/CBS poll...And sizable majorities think Obama does not have a clear plan to stop the spill and failed to act quickly enough."

Whatever. This is a case of the public at large being flat out irrational. People blow off warning about the risks because we want cheap energy...then they get all shocked when something goes wrong and we can't fix it. They are mad that Obama doesn't have a clear plan to stop the spill? That's because no one does...that's kind of why we think drilling a bad idea. Dipsh...

anyways...

"The new New York Times/CBS poll is rough on Obama over the economy: It finds that 54 percent say he has no clear plan to create jobs."

This result is far, far, FAR more important than the oil spill number above. Pundits keep naming the next big thing that will be a "sea change" in the "political landscape" for the mid-terms...nope. It's still the economy, stupid. The rest is merely frill around the edges. This poll result should truly strike fear in the hearts of Democratic strategists...because if the public really feels that the Dems don't have a plan to bring the economy back, the fall could turn out to be as bad as the CW says it will.

What's worse, is that polling continues to show that the public supports MORE Governemnt spending to boost jobs. If DC Dems weren't so chickensh.. of Republicans and their allies in the media, they could pound through a bunch of jobs bills and really turn things around, both politically and economically.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 22, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Just for those Plum Liners who like to claim that MSNBC that Morning Joe is a conservative show, and that Mika B is a "conservative" opponent of Obama, here she is, admitting that she has been "working on" talking points with the WH and then reading them on air.

LOL

Gee, Bernie, is this propoganda?

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Oops forgot the link.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/06/026577.php

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

OBAMA IS BEING LABELED BOTH A WIMP AND A THUG.

IT IS BETTER TO BE A THUG THAN A WIMP.

THUS OBAMA NEEDS TO FIRE MCCHRYSTAL.

IT IS REALLY THAT SIMPLE.

Posted by: maritza1 | June 22, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

What next from General Stanley McGaga?

Is he going to strip off his uniform, and hit on Derek Jeter?!

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Check out Ackerman take on the McChrystal story.

"We’ll have to wait for Wednesday to see if McChrystal keeps his command. My guess is he’ll stay, because now the White House knows that a chastened McChrystal isn’t going to say anything else outside of his lane to any reporter. McChrystal’s apology, emailed to me and other reporters well before the Rolling Stone story dropped, suggests that he wasn’t trying to walk away from his command in a blaze of arrogance. But it’s on him to repair his relationship with his colleagues and his bosses."

http://attackerman.firedoglake.com/2010/06/22/mcchrystal-apologizes-but-the-question-remains-defrock-the-pope/

Posted by: lmsinca | June 22, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

QB, Mika also basically called Giuliani a liar, which was her finest hour, as far as I'm concerned.

She followed up with the White House after Giuliani's bloviating to get their pushback, which she was quite open about. Better than just parroting the spin like they do on Faux, or creating the agenda, like El Rushbo does.

And for her "conservative" bona fides--her latest poli-crush is Chris Christie. She looovvvvesssss him. But maybe because he's not a Tea Partier or a Christianist, that doesn't count. On the upside, maybe she can take her eat-health-and-exercise mission and Christie to make some changes.

Posted by: KathleenHusseininMaine | June 22, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

lmsinca,

The problem is General McGaga, does not stay chastened for very long.

Recall how he went on a big speaking tour, pushing for the Afghanistan surge, when President Obama was weighing his options.

General McGaga got summoned to meet President Obama, and got chastized by the President for giving speeches in London instead of being on the job, in Afghanistan, where he was supposed to be.

If Stanley were not such a self absorbed peacock, he would have already submitted his resignation.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"New Documents Show BP Made Little Progress on Alaska Safety Issues From 2001 to 2007"


http://www.propublica.org/feature/new-documents-show-bp-made-little-progress-on-alaska-safety-issues-from-200


"Six years after a scathing 2001 internal review [1] [1] of BP's Alaska operations found that the company wasn't maintaining safety equipment and faced "a fundamental lack of trust" among workers, a follow-up study concluded BP had made little headway in addressing those concerns.

The 2007 review [2] [2], obtained by ProPublica, is based on a survey of more than 400 BP workers and contractors across Alaska greater Prudhoe Bay drilling fields. Three of four workers surveyed said that BP's maintenance program was still not aligned with BP's business priorities. Workers said that while BP had chipped away at communication and training concerns, it had not reduced maintenance backlogs of key equipment.

Those findings take on new significance as Congress hears testimony from BP executives about what the company has done to improve its safety record and address a litany of operations failures over the last 10 years. In testimony yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward said that he had made significant changes in the company since taking the reins in 2007 and that he had focused on safety "like a laser."

The conclusions of the report were crystallized in two PowerPoint slides [3] [3] and a series of graphics that were given to ProPublica by a former senior BP manager. Their validity was confirmed by Marc Kovac, a current BP employee who was part of the original 2001 review team and helped conduct the 2007 follow-up and presented the data to senior management.

Nearly 80 percent of the workers interviewed for the 2007 study said that gas and fire detection systems -- perhaps the most important equipment to saving lives and among the most critical in preventing an environmental disaster -- were either not functioning or were obsolete.

"We found that 50 percent of everything that was originally brought up was not fixed, it was ignored," said Kovac. "BP plays the time game. People forget and they know that. So as long as they file reports and do investigations and produce paperwork, they know that people will eventually go on with their business.""

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

HuffPost notes this from the RS article about McChrystal:

"The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start."

Seems particularly odd that a commanding General would let out who he voted for...to anyone, let alone a reporter.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I thought this was interesting at the bottom of the politico piece. Apparently Hastings was able to both get and publish more because of his freelance status and McChrystal's naivete. Rolling Stone seems to be "on a roll" lately. Remember the gusher story last week.

"McChrystal, an expert on counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency, has long been thought to be uniquely qualified to lead in Afghanistan. But he is not known for being media savvy.

Hastings, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years, according to the magazine, is not well known within the Defense Department.

And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access compared to a beat reporter who would risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks."

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38837_Page2.html#ixzz0raiUPcu5

Posted by: lmsinca | June 22, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

* Why Doesn't the Media Interrogate Tea Partiers' Beliefs? *

The closer you look, the more the Tea Party just looks like any other right-wing populist movement: it is motivated by fear of immigration, fear of new religious modes of expression, racial resentments, opposition to gay rights, and claims about taxes and spending that often don't add up under scrutiny. Isn't it time that we stopped treating the Tea Partiers like a curious sociological phenomenon and starting holding them to the same standards we should hold all mainstream politicians to?

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/06/21/why-doesn-t-the-media-interrogate-tea-partiers-beliefs.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The Elephant In The Room, That No One Appears To Notice.

The US Military Has Promoted A Batch Of Mediocre Generals To Run The Two Wars.

Look at how many bad officers were put in charge of the Iraq fiasco. Now we are seeing the same thing happening in Afghanistan.

We are paying the price for having let Rumsfeld run off all the good officers, and hang on to all the toady officers who would kiss his ring, and blow smoke up his...... on a daily basis.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

It would be nice if we pivoted from our discussion of McChrystal to our Afghan policy generally. We seem to be committed and yet hesitant in our mission; the reports from there are constantly a step forward and a step back.

Anyone feel like they can sum up where we are right now?

Getting rid of the General may be the right thing to do, but we're still mired there in a situation that looks irresolvable.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 22, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca, the Executive Editor of RS was on MSNBC this morning. He said that the reporter was grounded in Europe with McChrystal for a few days while the volcano was erupting. He also pointed out that the military gave access to RS because of their common target audience: young people.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

More on how Republicans govern:

New Jersey politicians are due to battle on Monday over whether to slap a tax on millionaires or cut services for low-income senior citizens and the disabled.

U.S. | Politics

The clash in the state legislature is part of a wider battle over how to erase a $10.7 billion budget deficit and is emblematic of the decisions facing states across America whose budget deficits have soared during the recession.

Democrats want to re-impose a one-year tax on millionaires that has been vetoed by Republican Governor Chris Christie. The 10.75 percent tax on income above $1 million would hit 16,000 people, some of them likely to work as financial professionals just across the Hudson River in New York.

Both houses of the legislature, which are controlled by Democrats, previously approved the tax in May but it was immediately vetoed by Christie, who has pledged not to raise taxes.

The tax would raise $637 million that the state would use to fund rebate checks of up to $1,295 for some 600,000 senior citizens who would otherwise face steep increases in their property taxes during fiscal 2011.

According to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, a retired couple living on a fixed income of $40,000 would see an increase of $1,320 in taxes under the governor's plan while a family making $1.2 million would receive a tax cut of $11,598.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65J1NQ20100620

Posted by: cmccauley60 | June 22, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

cm, my heart goes out to the millionaires if that doesn't pass.

I hope the GOP apology is swift and vehement.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 22, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Sue, it would seem their plan backfired though. We'll see what happens but I think McChrystal will stay as we're heading into an evaluation in December and supposed draw down next July. It'll be interesting to read the actual article rather than all the commentary surrounding it.

BG, it's my understanding the situation in Afghanistan is less than ideal and I think the General is taking some heat right now. I've read reports that Karzai is already working behind the scenes with the Taliban and not in a way that would be consistent with our common goals. Who knows? We have friends who's son is over there, he was called back in a big hurry and earlier than expected. He's a helicopter mechanic and we suffered a huge amount of damage to our birds about a month ago. I wish Biden had won the strategy debate last year.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 22, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca, I think the article will be available on line later today or this evening. Yeah, it will be a must read.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 22, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"Just for those Plum Liners who like to claim that MSNBC that Morning Joe is a conservative show, and that Mika B is a "conservative" opponent of Obama, here she is, admitting that she has been "working on" talking points with the WH and then reading them on air."

Nonsense. She was doing her research to either confirm or reject what the WH has been saying about the spill as opposed to what Guiliani said.

She does not say that she was working at, or for, the WH. I won't watch Morning Joe -- I can't anyway because I'm at work -- but it's nice to see honest commentary.

I loved Joe's look when she went into her rant. Priceless!

Posted by: msmollyg | June 22, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Apparently Politico had a PDF of the RS article up for awhile this morning, but it's gone now. I imagine it violated copyright.

Posted by: msmollyg | June 22, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

bg:

"cm, my heart goes out to the millionaires if that doesn't pass."

Well, why stop at 10.5%? Why not 20%, or 40%, ro 60%? At what point does your heart, or better yet your brain, start to tell you that regardless of the "good" you think you could do with it, it just isn't moral to be coercing money earned by one person and giving it to someone else who didn't earn it?

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

All, here's the Rolling Stone article on McChrystal, and my take:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/mcchrystal_article.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 22, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

coercing money earned... = coercing money from the person who earned it

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"it just isn't moral to be coercing money earned by one person and giving it to someone else who didn't earn it"

Shorter ScottC:

Life sucks, and that's the way I like it!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Or maybe this is more accurate:

Government should be OF, BY, and FOR the WEALTHY.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Yeah Scott, millionaires are uniformly virtuous and have no incentive to live in a prosperous society.

Good luck in your gated communities.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 22, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Longer Ethan:

Don't ask difficult questions about the morality of forced redistribution; just bend over and be thankful we leave you with anything.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

QB:

Redistribution of wealth is AWESOME as long as it is redistributed from the middle class to the wealthiest.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

bg:

"Yeah Scott, millionaires are uniformly virtuous and have no incentive to live in a prosperous society."

That is not an answer. Why not 20% or 40% or 60%? At what point does it become wrong for government to coerce money from one person and give it to another?

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

BG, your comments make no sense.

Does government redistribution implicate morality or justice?

If so, what is the answer to Scott's question? At what percentage or level do the scales balance?

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

QB: "Don't ask difficult questions about the morality of forced redistribution; just bend over and be thankful we leave you with anything."

Difficult questions? Hahahaha. 'Forced redistribution', or 'Taxes' as most of us know and call them are part of being a member of society and good citizen, and a government expecting those who can afford it to pay a great share (I'm talking in percentages, not raw dollars here) is perfectly reasonable. If not, may i suggest Somalia, or that imaginary place... what's it called... oh right, AynRandistan.

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | June 22, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

*greatER share

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | June 22, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Ethan,

Thanks for the typically shallow and substanceless comment.

Please cite examples of government redistribution of wealth to the wealthy from the middle class.

That's rhetorical, really. We all know you can't. And don't even bother with your usual flimflammery.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Please cite examples of government redistribution of wealth to the wealthy from the middle class."

Two separate Bush trillion dollar tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy. Those are the two most obvious examples.

QB, paying taxes is the law, it's not some fantastical subversive form of "coercion." Do you disagree with the law that everyone must pay taxes?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

holy,

Unsurprisingly, you just dodged the issue.

Taxes are not equivalent to redistribution. Progressive taxes can be a form of redistribution, depending on the uses of the revenue.

But the NJ tax as described goes beyond that. It is an explicit plan to tax A and give the money to B.

Answer the questions, if you have the guts and the intelligence.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The Greedy Oligarchs, and there Toady hangers on, never learn from history.

They keep on telling the deprived to "eat cake", until the deprived end up taking matters into their own hands, and the Greedy Oligarchs end up with their own cake eating parts in baskets.

And by the way: The Republican Party wishes to reiterate that it is still outraged at how the people of the Gulf Coast keep victimizing poor BP.

GOP to the People Of The Gulf Coast: Let Them Eat Oil.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

qb:

"Don't ask difficult questions about the morality of forced redistribution."

Exactly.

You know, all of these clowns can whine about Bilge preventing substantive and meaningful discussions, but the truth is that they are not really interested in facing substantive issues. They would rather throw out childish and foolish retorts than face and defend the moral foundations (and contradictions) underlying their ideology. Bilge was 100 times more substantive than ethan or bg, despite his biting comments.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Ask me a question, I'll answer.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Scott C. Calls people "these Clowns" while at the same time complaining about "name calling" by others on Plumline.

Scott C. is Captain Cognitive Dissonance.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Fine QB, you want to discuss the morality of it? How about the morality of cutting vital services that help those who are unable to help themselves? I suggest you don't try arguing that they can, because that fish will only bite for a small minority of such people. Or perhaps you would prefer that Governor Christie start laying off teachers (thereby potentially inhibiting the ability of future generations to help themselves). Or perhaps he should lay off police officers, thereby allowing the more unsavory/immoral members of the unfortunate class to 'help themselves' in ways that I'm sure you would disapprove of. Or perhaps he should lay off vital government employees, thereby potentially making the government even more incapable of doing its job that its current budget crisis makes it.

Is it more immoral to render the government an impotent, ineffectual gelding, or to have the wealthiest members of society give back to the country that has enabled their success?

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | June 22, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

ethan:

"Two separate Bush trillion dollar tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy. Those are the two most obvious examples."

This is a sensible reply only if you believe that all wealth is first owned by the state rather than the person who earned/created it. Otheriwse it is just plain stupid.

"Do you disagree with the law that everyone must pay taxes?"

Obviously it depends on which tax you are talking about, but clearly not everyone "must" pay taxes. In 2006, for example, roughly 40% of the US population paid no federal income taxes.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

If a 60% tax on the incredibly wealthy who will never ever have to worry about paying for food or bills would help the economy and the greater good of our country, then it's perfectly moral. Even if I was one of them.

The fact that you guys give more of a $h¡t about them than they do about you or than you do about the average American struggling every day speaks volumes. Thanks for admitting your irrational idolatry for the upper crust of society.

Posted by: SDJeff | June 22, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"the truth is that they are not really interested in facing substantive issues"

Waiting on my question, ScottC or QB.

Unlike the two of you, I'm ready to defend the moral foundations of my ideology with facts (i.e. my response to QB on the Bush tax cuts).

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Laim:

"Scott C. Calls people "these Clowns" while at the same time complaining about "name calling" by others on Plumline."

I have not complained about name-calling. I have simply noted Greg's preferential treatment of liberal name-callers like yourself over those who do not share his politics.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Scott,

"Bilge was 100 times more substantive than ethan or bg, despite his biting comments."

That is what is tragicomic, to the extent that anything that happens on this blog rises to a level of significance.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"This is a sensible reply only if you believe that all wealth is first owned by the state rather than the person who earned/created it. Otheriwse it is just plain stupid."

All income is subject to taxation. Your attempt at ignoring that basic concept is illustrative of the bankruptcy of your ideology. Bush gave two tax cuts which disproportionately benefited the wealthy. That is a fact. You asked me to use facts and substance in my response. I did. You responded by ignoring that fact and calling me stupid. Heckuva job ScottC. Way to keep the conversation substantive.

"not everyone "must" pay taxes"

Semantics. Everyone who OWES TAXES MUST PAY TAXES. but you knew that. Thanks for dancing around my point. But who was it who refused to defend their ideology? Was it me or was it you?

Still waiting on my substantive question where I get to defend my ideology from your baseless attacks.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

SDjeff:

"If a 60% tax on [X] would help the economy and the greater good of our country, then it's perfectly moral."

So, then, your standard of what is or is not moral is "helping" the economy and "the greater good" of the country. Leaving aside for the moment how exactly you determine what is or is not "the greater good of our country" (which is no small question), you must then also agree that, say, executing population [X] would also be moral if doing so would "help" the economy and was for the "greater good". Even, as you say, if you were one of them. Is that correct? If not, why not?

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"you must then also agree that, say, executing population [X] would also be moral if..."

Totally asinine.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Laim:

"Scott C. Calls people "these Clowns" while at the same time complaining about "name calling" by others on Plumline."

I have not complained about name-calling. I have simply noted Greg's preferential treatment of liberal name-callers like yourself over those who do not share his politics.

Posted by: ScottC3 |
....................

Apparently you can not even keep track of what you just wrote. You complained about other prefering to engage in name calling.

Here is what you said:

"You know, all of these clowns can whine about Bilge preventing substantive and meaningful discussions, but the truth is that they are not really interested in facing substantive issues. They would rather throw out childish and foolish retorts than face and defend the moral foundations (and contradictions) underlying their ideology. Bilge was 100 times more substantive than ethan or bg, despite his biting comments.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 11:42 AM
.....................

And you then opted to respond by distorting my name.

You are a complete phony, who engages in name calling, while all the time whining about others opting to do the same.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Two separate Bush trillion dollar tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy. Those are the two most obvious examples."

Scott already dispatched this. It is of course what I meant by your usual flimflammery.

"Unlike the two of you, I'm ready to defend the moral foundations of my ideology with facts (i.e. my response to QB on the Bush tax cuts)."

What you did is repeat a talking point or at best a conclusion. But if you want to try to actually defend the claim that reducing progressivity equals redistribution TO the wealthy, or the morality or justice of redistribution, feel free to try.

Perhaps you can. But no one on the left ever does. You just prey on resentment and envy.


Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"All income is subject to taxation. Your attempt at ignoring that basic concept is illustrative of the bankruptcy of your ideology."

Ethan, do you realize that your position is purely one of state absolutism?

You are offering a moral justification for state to do X based solely on the power of the state to do X.

I am not surprised.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Liam:

"And you then opted to respond by distorting my name."

Heh. I wish I could take credit for thinking of that one, but it was a typo.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"executing population [X] would also be moral if doing so would "help" the economy and was for the "greater good". Even, as you say, if you were one of them. Is that correct? If not, why not?"

Scott, you're usually fairly reasonable, but I shouldn't even have to explain that genocide is ALWAYS immoral. It doesn't get more self evident than that.

Economic policy is hard to prove but I find nothing immoral about redistribution of wealth as long as there are no disastrous repercussions.

The two arguments I hear from conservatives as to why redistribution of wealth is wrong is that the wealthy create jobs and need their money to do that(which is bs because they can afford to hire more now but there isn't enough of a demand to do so) and because it's simply not fair to take someone's hard earned money away. Well we all work hard. And the majority of hard workers are f***ed on an almost daily basis by the super wealthy.

It seems that's the main difference between conservatives and progressives. Conservatives' main concern is the right of individuals to succeed. Our main concern is the right of average working folks to not get screwed by those who do succeed. The latter is much more likely to happen than the former, so I consider it a greater concern.

Just my opinion.

Posted by: SDJeff | June 22, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

SDJeff said:

"If a 60% tax on the incredibly wealthy who will never ever have to worry about paying for food or bills would help the economy and the greater good of our country, then it's perfectly moral."

Okay, so SDJeff is a pure collectivist utilitarian who claims that whatever is for the greater good is moral and just.

At least up to 60% taxation. Of those who are "incredibly wealthy" and "don't have to worry" about money. Whatever all that means.

"The fact that you guys give more of a $h¡t about them than they do about you or than you do about the average American struggling every day speaks volumes. Thanks for admitting your irrational idolatry for the upper crust of society."

I don't know how much of a s--- "they" give about me. It actually isn't relevant to these questions, which are questions of principle.

Nor does my view mean I don't care about average Americans. I held the same views 30 years ago when I was unemployed, penniless, and without any obvious future.

"Thanks for admitting your irrational idolatry for the upper crust of society."

Thanks for revealing your reflexive idiocy and shallowness.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

And I forgot, to both Ethan and SDJeff:

Moonbat, please!

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

qb:

"Ethan, do you realize..."

Almost certainly he does not. There are many things he manifestly does not realize...including how incoherent some of the things he says are.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Liam:

"And you then opted to respond by distorting my name."

Heh. I wish I could take credit for thinking of that one, but it was a typo.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 12:23 PM

..................

That is the very same thing. If you did it intentionally, or wished that you had. Like I said, you are a complete name calling phony, who whines about others preferring to call other people names.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 22, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't have to "try" to explain myself. The issue of the Bush tax cuts has been studied extensively and the results published repeatedly. Here are two articles:

Tax Cuts Offer Most for Very Rich, Study Says (Jan. 2007)
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/08/washington/08tax.html

Study: Bush Tax Cuts Favor Wealthy
Congressional Study Finds Middle Class Paying More Of Tax Burden (Aug 2004)
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/16/politics/main636398.shtml

Read those articles. They state, conclusively, that the Bush tax cuts BY FAR favored the wealthy. If you read those articles and come away with a different perspective, then you don't understand phrases like:

"offered the biggest benefits by far to people at the very top"

"the biggest dollar value of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts goes to people at the very top income levels"

"Tax cuts were much deeper, and affected far more money, for families in the highest income categories"

"rich families were the undisputed winners from President Bush’s tax cuts"

The obvious next step towards my conclusion is that due to these tax cuts, the Iraq War, and Medicare Part D; our government is in debt, thus reducing the capability of providing services for the poor.

We are seeing this playing out at this very moment as Democratic efforts at extending unemployment insurance and engaging job-creating tax cuts for small biz (both elements support the lower and middle classes) are being held up by the Republicans because of the debt that THEY created.

So, if you follow these things from onset to conclusion, the tax cuts and irrational, irresponsible spending by the Bush administration clearly benefited the rich at the expense of the poor. And that is based on any number of facts from the fact that the tax cuts overwhelmingly favored the rich to the fact that government debt brought on by those tax cuts is now politically hampering efforts to help those most effected by the Bush economy. Again, those are facts that you simply cannot disprove.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"Ethan, do you realize that your position is purely one of state absolutism? "

Do you realize that your position against state taxation is unconstitutional?

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States"

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A1Sec8

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

SDjeff:

"genocide is ALWAYS immoral."

We are not talking genocide. We are merely talking about eliminating from society people who by definition are a drag on the economy and whose elimination would promote the "greater good". But OK, I'll assume that you think that doing so is immoral.

So this establishes, then, that positive economic effects and "the greater good" are not in fact firm principles that define moral government action for you. There are indeed other considerations like, seemingly, the right of individuals to their own life, that "trump" this principle. Are there any others? For example, if it were determined that the economy would be better off and the "greater good" would be enhanced by forcing population [X] to move from one location to another...think, for example, of razing a relatively poor neighborhood to make way for a new job-creating and revenue generating mall of business district...then would that be perfectly moral in your view?

"And the majority of hard workers are f***ed on an almost daily basis by the super wealthy."

How? Bill Gates is among the most super wealthy of the super wealthy. How has he f***ed the majority of hard workers on an almost daily basis? Please be specific.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Gee, ScottC, QB, why are neither of you challenging me on my factual comments? I thought you wanted me to defend my ideology. I have. I suggested that you go ahead and ask me any question you want and I'll answer. You've neither responded to my substantive comments nor asked me a question.

You HAVE called me stupid, incoherent, a "Moonbat" and a supporter of "state absolutism," but neither of you have responded to clear facts that I have posted about the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the resulting effect on the poor and middle class.

Imagine that.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

All that you just typed adds up to nothing more than a restatement of your attempt to define a reduction in transfers from the "wealthy" to the not "wealthy" as a transfer in the opposite direction.

As Scott said, that makes sense only if you assume that it all belongs to the government in the first place. And you obviously are unable to grasp that basic concept.

I won't even bother to address either the dubious opinions and judgments rife throughout your "factual" argument, because it isn't even necessary to refute your argument.

You've identified no transfer from the nonwealthy to the wealthy, even accepting your claims at face value, let alone articulated any moral justification for redistribution.

As to facts versus opinions, again, you really don't get it. A fact might be, for example, he actual terms of the tax cuts. But claims such as "the tax cuts overwhelmingly favored the rich" are value-laden opinions and characterizations.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"Gee, ScottC, QB, why are neither of you challenging me on my factual comments? I thought you wanted me to defend my ideology. I have. I suggested that you go ahead and ask me any question you want and I'll answer. You've neither responded to my substantive comments nor asked me a question."

You haven't. I asked you the questions, far up the thread. You've not addressed them yet. You just keep regurgitating that transferring less to the nonwealthy equates to transferring to the wealthy, and that the state can do whatever it wants.

"You HAVE called me stupid, incoherent, a "Moonbat" and a supporter of "state absolutism," but neither of you have responded to clear facts that I have posted about the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the resulting effect on the poor and middle class.'

You posted no facts documenting a transfer of wealth to the wealthy. Nor did you offer any moral defense of redistribution.

Moonbat, please!

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"that makes sense only if you assume that it all belongs to the government in the first place"

The U.S. Constitution gives the government the power of taxation. To ignore that is to misinterpret the role and function of government, as you are obviously trying to do.

"I won't even bother to address either the dubious opinions and judgments rife throughout your "factual" argument, because it isn't even necessary to refute your argument."

HAHA! Mmmm... okay...

"You've identified no transfer from the nonwealthy to the wealthy"

Bush tax cuts and other spending favored the wealthy and caused massive government debt. This debt has directly undermined the extension of support for the poor and middle class. Those are facts whether you agree with the outcomes or not.

"claims such as "the tax cuts overwhelmingly favored the rich" are value-laden opinions and characterizations"

Again. It seems that you aren't willing to read the articles I posted. And then you accuse me of not posting facts! Simply outrageous.

Here:

"Households in the top 1 percent of earnings, which had an average income of $1.25 million, saw their effective individual tax rates drop to 19.6 percent in 2004 from 24.2 percent in 2000. The rate cut was twice as deep as for middle-income families, and it translated to an average tax cut of almost $58,000."

And here is another factual quotation that DIRECTLY supports my comments:

"The cost of doing that would be more than $1 trillion over the next decade, a cost that would hit the Treasury at the same time that the spending on old-age benefits for retiring baby boomers begins to soar."

Tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy cost the government $1T in tax receipts, effectively bankrupting the government at the same time that the poor and seniors without incomes are in need of financial support.

If you don't understand this conclusion it's not my problem.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, don't waste your breath, I gave them a moral justification some posts back and they never even responded to it (even though I posted it in direct response to QB's assertion that I'm a coward and/or intellectually inferior). They're much more interested in repeating their questions and ideology than actually engaging right now. Its a little disappointing, I expected better from them.

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | June 22, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"Do you realize that your position against state taxation is unconstitutional?"

Where to begin?

1. This is a non sequitur, unless perhaps the Constitution is your code of morality and justice.

2. I've taken no "position against state taxation."

3. It isn't possible for a "position" I might take to be "unconstitutional." In fact, the First Amendment pretty much guarantees that.

4. You of course left off the last phrase of that clause. Wonder why? Perhaps because it is the phrase that says all such taxes must be uniform throughout the states.

What you wanted was probably the 16th Amendment. But, of course, no one here is arguing that the government doesn't have the power to tax. Nor is anyone even arguing that taxes are unjust. We are only probing the justice of government redistribution of wealth through compulsory taxation.

Moonbat, please! This hive-mind, sweat-lodge nonthinking of yours is pointless.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"I gave them a moral justification some posts back and they never even responded to it (even though I posted it in direct response to QB's assertion that I'm a coward and/or intellectually inferior)."

Can't keep up with responses to all the blather.

Yours was particularly and head-scratchingly devoid of substance. You gave no moral justification at all. You just raised a string of pointless rhetorical questions that amount to a big tautology.

I really don't think any of you have ever tried to think beyond your assumptions.

And no, I didn't assert that you are a coward or intellectually inferior. I just challenged you to answer if you had the guts or intelligence.

I believe you and Ethan are just unthinking ideologues. No, I know that you are, based on volumns of evidence.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A1Sec8

I left off the last clause previously because it is COMMON SENSE and a FACT that all federal taxes are levied across the states equally. Clearly that refers to the fact that federal income taxes in Georgia are the same as in California, etc.

Again, if you don't understand that clause, it's not my problem.

But either way, you have yet again attempted to change the subject from the many factual comments I have made.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

holyhandgrenaid:

"I gave them a moral justification some posts back "

No you didn't. You said "Fine QB, you want to discuss the morality of it?" and then you went on to discuss something else. At no point did you provide a moral justification for taxation targetted on certain segments of the population.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"I believe you and Ethan are just unthinking ideologues. No, I know that you are, based on volumns of evidence."


We all see what we want to see, and you clearly want to see yourself in us. I don't condemn you for it, but your hunt for false equivalency in justifying yourself is unlikely to prove fruitful.


And yes, that series of questions does establish my point. I didn't pull any of that out of the air- they are legitimate alternatives. I may not have directly defended redistribution, but I soundly defeated the alternative.

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | June 22, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

my last got cut off. Last line should read "...certain segments of the population for the benefit of other segments."

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"I believe you and Ethan are just unthinking ideologues"

Says the guy who REFUSES TO READ THE ARTICLES I POSTED OR EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACTS CONTAINED WITHIN.

Haha. QB, you are so blatantly disingenuous.

ScottC, what is the moral justification for the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"Bush tax cuts and other spending favored the wealthy and caused massive government debt. This debt has directly undermined the extension of support for the poor and middle class. Those are facts whether you agree with the outcomes or not."

"Tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy cost the government $1T in tax receipts, effectively bankrupting the government at the same time that the poor and seniors without incomes are in need of financial support."

You really, really don't get it, do you? You really fail to comprehend the logic of your own position and the assumption(s) underlying it.

I will try one last time, with a very simple hypothetical.

A earns 10,000, pays no income tax, and instead and collects welfare -- food stamps, housing, etc.

B earns 40,000 and pays no net federal income taxes.

C earns 80,000 and pays 30%

D earns 250,000 and pays 35%.

E earns 1,000,000 and pays 35%.

Now the government cuts taxes to 25% for C and D, and to 30% for E.

Your claim is that this tax cut somehow is a redistribution or transfer of wealth FROM A and B to C, D, and E, and perhaps from C and D to E.

It is not. Not unless you are assuming either that all income belongs to the government in the first place, or that the original rates represent some sort of metaphysical justice.

Assume even that A's welfare gets reduced. That isn't a "transfer" of A's "wealth" to E unless you assume that all the wealth belonged to the government in the first place, or existed as some sort of "collective" wealth.

Your arguments are a complete failure because you are completely unaware of, and completely fail to address, these underlying assumptions.

Scott and I are aware you are making them. You aren't. You have never moved beyond superficial assumptions.

Moonbat, please!

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"I left off the last clause previously because it is COMMON SENSE and a FACT that all federal taxes are levied across the states equally. Clearly that refers to the fact that federal income taxes in Georgia are the same as in California, etc.

Again, if you don't understand that clause, it's not my problem.

But either way, you have yet again attempted to change the subject from the many factual comments I have made."

Once again, you don't understand much about the Constitution. The 16th Amendment was enacted because it was seen as necessary to authorize a federal income tax, for the very reason that an income tax would not meet the uniformity requirement.

I didn't bring it up; you did. As I said, it has nothing to do with this discussion.

Moonbat, please!

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

holy said:

"I may not have directly defended redistribution, but I soundly defeated the alternative."

Interesting then that you claimed to have provided the moral justification and attacked us for ignoring the phantom justification.

And, no, to ask a string of rhetorical questions isn't to "soundly defeat" the alternative to redistribution. That would surely get you a justified F on a philosophy exam.

Ethan said:

"Says the guy who REFUSES TO READ THE ARTICLES I POSTED OR EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACTS CONTAINED WITHIN."

I've read those articles before. As I showed, they are irrelevant to the questions I raised.

All that this discussion has established, once again, is that the liberals operate based on unexamined and unconsciously held assumptions.

Moonbats, please!

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"The U.S. Constitution gives the government the power of taxation. "

So what? The US constitution once gave states the right to allow slavery. That didn't make slavery morally justified. You cannot (sensibly, anyway) use the existence of a law to defend the morality of that very law unless you think morality is defined by whatever the law says. As qb points out, your claim is a complete non sequitur.

"Again. It seems that you aren't willing to read the articles I posted."

The articles you posted are not relevant to the topic at hand. You claimed there was a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. Making the non-controversial and patently obvious point that tax cuts benefit most those who pay the most taxes does not support your claim. Again, the only way that your reference to tax cuts could possibly be construed as relevant would be if you hold as a premise that all created wealth belongs first to the state rather than the person who created it. You may indeed hold this premise, although I can understand your reluctance to advertise the fact. Communism, afterall, is a pretty much dead ideology for most thinking people.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"Your claim is that this tax cut somehow is a redistribution or transfer of wealth FROM A and B to C, D, and E, and perhaps from C and D to E.

It is not."

It is.

"Assume even that A's welfare gets reduced."

You FINALLY acknowledge the point I've been making repeatedly. A's welfare is reduced because the tax cuts.

"That isn't a "transfer" of A's "wealth" to E"

It is. Less money in A's pocket as a direct of Bush policy to put more money in E's pocket.

"unless you assume that all the wealth belonged to the government in the first place, or existed as some sort of "collective" wealth.""

All wealth is taxable by the Federal Government for the purposes of general welfare (helping people, aka the poor and middle class). See U.S. Constitution, Article 1 Section 8.

Moonbat nothing. I've been consistent in my arguments. You've been avoiding my comments entirely until this hypothetical which DIRECTLY supports the facts that I posted previously from the NYT article.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Okay QB, I'll spell it out for you:

Following through on each of those very real policy alternatives to this tax hike would be immoral, be it through potentially increasing crime rates, decreasing the quality of education, or impeding the government's ability to fulfill its obligations (even the most mundane and libertarian-friendly among them). Given that the state cannot choose 'none of the above' on this matter, tell me, is it more moral to increase the tax on those who can afford it (especially since we are discussing the marginal rates, and thus the monetary difference for those taxed would be nearly negligible on the individual basis, especially at the financial scales we are discussing.

You are treating this as a violation of the uniformity requirement for taxation, which is there primarily to protect against taxes on specific groups of people (for example, a tax exclusively on wealthy investment bankers would be unconstitutional if explicitly laid out as such), but it does not apply to different income brackets, as these are not specific groups. The net effect is, of course, wealth distribution, yes, but that is how taxation works, it redistributes the money from one person/group/area to another. We could argue the morality of it all day, but in the end, we reach the point where frankly morality has nothing to do with it. Wealthier people pay more in taxes than those who make less. People who make less are generally more likely to utilize the services offered by the government, thereby 'redistributing' the wealth. Its how the system works.

But by all means go on about morality until you're blue in the face.

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | June 22, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

ScottC, what is the moral justification for the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"ScottC, what is the moral justification for the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich?"

The absence of moral justification for the taxation in the first place.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"the only way that your reference to tax cuts could possibly be construed as relevant would be if you hold as a premise that all created wealth belongs first to the state rather than the person who created it"

Talk about non sequitur. Your refusal to acknowledge the power of the government to "redistribute wealth" through taxation and outlay of government-sponsored benefits is absurd.

It has nothing to do with who the wealth "belongs to," and everything to do with the concept of taxation as legally authorized in the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"The absence of moral justification for the taxation in the first place."

But that would justify the ELIMINATION of taxes.

What morally justifies the REDUCTION in taxes?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Exactly.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I think I understand Ethan's "reasoning" now, so to speak, and it is quite incredible and frightening to see fully revealed.

He characterizes a tax cut for person A as a transfer of wealth to A, and any reduction in the transfer of wealth to B from A as a transfer FROM B to A, based on the power of the government to tax income. Thus, because the government can tax income, all income is the state's, and any income that it allows an individual to retain is a transfer of wealth to that individual. He cites the constitutional power to tax as the basis for this, but that is quite unnecessary and irrelevant to the point. Any government that can enforce a tax has the power to tax.

The original questions were whether compelled redistribution of wealth has implications for morality or justice, and, if so, what the justification for redistribution is.

In Ethan's world, it turns out that the first answer is that there is no such thing as compelled redistribution, because all wealth or income held by individuals is a gift of the state, which has original claim to all of it. There is only the state's decision as to which individuals to allow to have which portions of wealth.

Ethan thus appears to be a perfect legal and ethical positivist, in the sense that the state's power to do X is the justification for X. In this way, he avoids the question of justifying the "original" taking of income from A, because the income never belonged to A to begin with. The state's power to tax income means all income is the state's. And, amazingly, Ethan openly admits this above.

Of course, what this leaves is a contradictory ethical morass. It excuses him of the question of robbing A to pay B, but it does so at the expense of there being any ethical frame of reference for distributions at all. Hence, he is left with no basis to argue FOR more money to B, and no basis to argue AGAINST a reduction of welfare to B. It is all the state's money, and that is the end.

"You FINALLY acknowledge the point I've been making repeatedly. A's welfare is reduced because the tax cuts."

This is an example of your most annoying habit, Ethan: You refuse to engage honestly and insist on misstating your opponent's stated position. It makes discussion with you tedious beyond bearing.

"You've been avoiding my comments entirely until this hypothetical which DIRECTLY supports the facts that I posted previously from the NYT article."

You fool yourself, in more ways than one.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"It has nothing to do with who the wealth "belongs to," "

Incorrect. The owner of the wealth is of utmost importance. The very term "redistribution" presupposes that something "belonging" to one person is transferred into the ownership of someone else. So one cannot discuss redistribution of wealth without implicitly discussing who owns the wealth in the first place. If the person who labors to create the wealth is the rightful owner of it, then by definition when the government taxes that wealth (whether legally or not) in order to give it to someone else, then redistribution is taking place. If redistribution is effected by taxation, then the absence of taxation (ie tax cuts) cannot be said to be redistribution. It is, instead and necessarily, the absence of redistribution.

Again, the initial owner of newly created wealth is of utmost importance when discussing redistribution. So, when you claim that wealth has been redistributed from the poor/middle class to the wealthy, then you must neessarily hold that newly created wealth belonged first to the poor/middle class, and was transferred away to others. So the question you must (but almost certainly cannot) sensibly answer is, how did this wealth come into existence, and how did it come to be owned by the poor/middle classes such that it could be "redistributed" away from them and to the wealthy?


Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

holy,

What you said last is just what I said before: Your idea of justice is pure collectivist utilitarian, or perhaps you would prefer utilitarian collectivist. You end up in the same boat as Ethan.

"You are treating this as a violation of the uniformity requirement for taxation, which is there primarily to protect against taxes on specific groups of people (for example, a tax exclusively on wealthy investment bankers would be unconstitutional if explicitly laid out as such), but it does not apply to different income brackets, as these are not specific groups."

You really failed to follow the discussion. You aren't even in the vicinity.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

qb:

"Hence, he is left with no basis to argue FOR more money to B, and no basis to argue AGAINST a reduction of welfare to B. It is all the state's money, and that is the end"

Exactly Quite ironically, his own premises demolish his original claim about which this thread began. Recall that he claimed that wealth was being redistributed from the middle classes to the wealthy. But if the state owns all wealth from the start, then there can be no redistribution from anyone other than the state itself.

No doubt, he will not understand this in the slightest.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

QB: "The state's power to tax income means all income is the state's."

So, do you disagree with the Founders that the government should have the authority to tax income?

ScottC: "If redistribution is effected by taxation, then the absence of taxation (ie tax cuts) cannot be said to be redistribution. It is, instead and necessarily, the absence of redistribution."

Call it whatever you want Scott. The absence of redistribution, whatever.

The main thrust is that the tax breaks that George W. Bush passed disproportionately benefited the wealthy, leaving less resources that were allocated to support the poor.

In making your semantic argument, you have neglected, intentionally, obviously, to address that simple fact.

Tax cuts that benefit the rich impact the poor in a negative way. That is a fact. Call it whatever you want.

Now, will you answer MY question?

ScottC said: "The absence of moral justification for the taxation in the first place."

I said: "But that would justify the ELIMINATION of taxes.

What morally justifies the REDUCTION in taxes?"

Your response?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"if the state owns all wealth from the start, then there can be no redistribution from anyone other than the state itself."

Again, like QB, do you disagree with the Founders that the federal government should have the authority to tax income?

Please answer that question, as well as the previous question, which you've been ducking:

What is the moral justification of reducing taxes for the wealthy?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmmkay!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"So, do you disagree with the Founders that the government should have the authority to tax income?

Why are you trying to change the topic? Whether I think the fed should have the authority to tax income has nothing to do with whether wealth has been redistributed from the middle class to the wealthy. If you want to discuss a new topic, then admit that your claim was false (even by your own ill-conceived premises) and we can move on to your new topic.

"The main thrust is that the tax breaks that George W. Bush passed disproportionately benefited the wealthy"

Quite logically and unavoidably, tax breaks "disproportionately" benefit those who pay them. This ought not come as a revelation or a scandal to any thinking person. BTW, I put disproportionately in quotation marks because I don't agree with the characterization. It is not at all disproportionate that those who bear the greatest burden of taxation should get the greatest relief when taxation is lowered.

"In making your semantic argument..."

It is not a semantic argument in the slightest, unless you think objecting to a white cat being characterized as a black dog is a "semantic argument".

"Tax cuts that benefit the rich impact the poor in a negative way."

They may, or they may not. But that is besides the point, which is that tax cuts are absolutely not a "redistribution of wealth" to wealthy people...unless you think that all wealth from its creation belongs to the state. Do you? Again, you seem understandably reluctant to admit that you do, but that is most certainly the only conclusion one can draw from your arguments, such as they are.

"Now, will you answer MY question?"

I did. Your distinction is irrelevant and, frankly, idiotic. If action A is immoral which by definition justifies the elimination of A, then any reduction in A short of elimination is also justified for the same reason. (Even your fellow travellers here on the board must be embarrassed by you feeble attempts at logic.)

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"Talk about non sequitur. Your refusal to acknowledge the power of the government to "redistribute wealth" through taxation and outlay of government-sponsored benefits is absurd."

No one has refused to acknowledge the power to tax. We just don't think that power renders all income government property or is in any way relevant to this discussion of the moral status of compulsory wealth transfers.

"It has nothing to do with who the wealth "belongs to," and everything to do with the concept of taxation as legally authorized in the U.S. Constitution."

You are the only one playing a semantic game here. You contend that the state has a superior claim to A's income in order to give it to B. You contend that this superior claim derives from the power to tax income. This superior right to possession, use, and disposal means that the income belongs to the government.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Talk about non sequitur. Your refusal to acknowledge the power of the government to "redistribute wealth" through taxation and outlay of government-sponsored benefits is absurd."

No one has refused to acknowledge the power to tax. We just don't think that power renders all income government property or is in any way relevant to this discussion of the moral status of compulsory wealth transfers.

"It has nothing to do with who the wealth "belongs to," and everything to do with the concept of taxation as legally authorized in the U.S. Constitution."

You are the only one playing a semantic game here. You contend that the state has a superior moral claim to A's income in order to give it to B (or do whatever else it wants). You contend that this superior claim derives from the power to tax income. This superior moral right to possession, use, and disposal means that the income belongs to the government.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

"So, do you disagree with the Founders that the government should have the authority to tax income?"

First, the Founders did not give the federal government the authority to tax income. That was the 16th amendment, as I've already said.

Second, the legal power to tax income is not relevant in my opinion to the quesion of the moral status of compelled transfer of wealth. And I am amazed that you still fail to comprehend the enormity of the argument you are making: that justice is whatever the postively enacted law permits. In this case, you are arguing that the state is morally justified in taking some of A's money to give to B, because the state has the power under positively enacted law to take all of A's money.

Like so many of your opinions, this one is monstrous. You are, as I said before, a absolute statist, in fact, a totalitarian in political terms.

"Call it whatever you want Scott. The absence of redistribution, whatever.

The main thrust is that the tax breaks that George W. Bush passed disproportionately benefited the wealthy, leaving less resources that were allocated to support the poor.

In making your semantic argument, you have neglected, intentionally, obviously, to address that simple fact.

Tax cuts that benefit the rich impact the poor in a negative way. That is a fact. Call it whatever you want."

That was a huge cop out and retreat to slogans and superficiality and circularity. You are back to the implicit assumption that all money is the government's money, so that when it takes less from A less is "left" for transfer to B.

Btw, it most certainly is not a "fact" that tax cuts on the rich hurt the poor. You are assuming that the taxes are transferred to the poor. They need not be.


"What is the moral justification of reducing taxes for the wealthy?"

It needs no moral justification. You are merely assuming a false premise (actually more than one, but we've covered them).

Lastly, a timely physical illustration of the illogic of your position: If I were to say that a reduction in the flow of oil from the Macondo well into the Gulf would constitute a flow of oil from the Gulf into the well, you would think I was crazy.

Your treatment of wealth redistribution is just like that.


Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"""Whether I think the fed should have the authority to tax income has nothing to do with whether wealth has been redistributed from the middle class to the wealthy"""

Um, it has EVERYTHING to do with it. That's why you refuse to answer my simple question:

Do you disagree with the Founders that the government should have the authority to tax income?

Yes or no will do. Thx.

"""tax breaks "disproportionately" benefit those who pay them"""

NO. They DON'T. Because nobody PAYS a tax break. They pay TAXES.

See, this is the kind of petty wordsmithing BS you pull on me every single time we have a debate. How's it taste?

"""It is not a semantic argument in the slightest"""

It totally is. The term "redistribution" was injected into this discussion by QB. I, personally, would not use that phrase in a discussion based on fair taxation. I prefer to think of these issues as they are presented in the real world. Income taxes fund government activities. By reducing the federal government's income tax receipts you are inherently reducing the resources the federal government has with which to allocate. It's no secret that the Right wants to shrink the size of the federal government to the size where you can drown it in a bathtub. It's no secret that by doing so, you are limiting the reach of government by reducing government services. That means, less help for the poor and aged and less regulation and oversight of private industry.

But to sit here and try to make a semantic argument about whether or not taxation implies "redistribution" is an avoidance of that central point, that by putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy via tax breaks you are inherently reducing the government's resources. And that is point that I've made repeatedly and that you have IGNORED repeatedly.

"If action A is immoral which by definition justifies the elimination of A, then any reduction in A short of elimination is also justified for the same reason"

So it's still immoral but now it's justified? Haha. Honestly, that is without a doubt the dumbest thing you've ever said.

Taxation by the federal government is either MORAL or IMMORAL.

WHICH IS IT SCOTT?!?!?!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"""the legal power to tax income is not relevant in my opinion to the quesion of the moral status of compelled transfer of wealth"""

Well, your argument about the "moral status of compelled transfer of wealth" is irrelevant in my opinion given your failure to address the central issue that the government has the power to tax. That issue has been settled. It IS moral to tax. As you have pointed out, that issue was settled permanently by the 16th Amendment, which was a CLARIFICATION of Article 1 Sec 8.

"""you are arguing that the state is morally justified in taking some of A's money to give to B, because the state has the power under positively enacted law to take all of A's money"""

Yes. That is precisely what I am saying. And it is precisely what the 16th Amendment is saying too.

And if U.S. politicians enact a law that says the federal government will now take 100% of your income in the form of a 100% income tax, then we get to vote those politicians out of office.

"""Lastly, a timely physical illustration of the illogic of your position: If I were to say that a reduction in the flow of oil from the Macondo well into the Gulf would constitute a flow of oil from the Gulf into the well, you would think I was crazy.

Your treatment of wealth redistribution is just like that."""

QB, you are crazy. But only because that metaphor is bizarre and nonsensical. I don't get how you can consider yourself smart and informed and yet make such a boneheaded comparison. Money is transferable and fungible. The physical properties of the oil gushing out of the Macando well are not. That is so obvious that it is truly striking that you would attempt to make such an absurd case. Well, not THAT striking given the positions you take.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

It is amazing to see you accuse Scott and me of dodging the issue when it is so painfully clear that it is you who is dodging.

"But to sit here and try to make a semantic argument about whether or not taxation implies "redistribution" is an avoidance of that central point, that by putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy via tax breaks you are inherently reducing the government's resources. And that is point that I've made repeatedly and that you have IGNORED repeatedly."

We've addressed and indeed beat that issue to death. Reducing taxation is not "putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy." Tax cuts do not "put" money in anyone's pocket. The money is in their "pockets" already.

It's patently dishonest of you to pretend that point has not been made repeatedly and clearly, and you have no response to it except to claim that the government's power (do you understand that word?) to tax income is all the justification for transfers of wealth that is needed.

It isn't a moral justification of any sort -- except to the rare person like you who is a totalitarian. Might makes right. Justice and morality are determined by positively enacted law.

That is what you are arguing, and your 6:13 response to me is a shocking and open admission of it.

Your inability to see how your argument is exactly like the oil example isn't surprising at this point, either. Reducing a flow of X from A to B does not result in a flow from B to A, but that is exactly what you are claiming. My 6 year old would be able to understand that. It's incredible that you can't, and more incredible that you would mock it.

Believe me, anyone who read this is going to be shaking his or her head at your density. I would actually feel sorry for you, if your beliefs were not so pernicious.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I almost let this one slip:

"And if U.S. politicians enact a law that says the federal government will now take 100% of your income in the form of a 100% income tax, then we get to vote those politicians out of office."

It's convenient how you change from "your" to "we" in that sentence, since the point of compulsory wealth transfer through taxation and welfare is always to take from A and give to B.

So there is no "we" involved here. The reality is that the lower earning 51% vote to tax or expropriate the other 49%. And to a statist who believes might makes right, that is just "okay."

These aren't original ideas. They are truths that go back thousands of years. It's a shame that someone who claims to be thoughtful and educated is completely uncomprehending of them.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 22, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

What follows is not intended to be a gratuitous insult or slam. I suspect that your cohorts here have long since stopped following this thread, so no one is likely to read it except you and qb. And if I had an avenue by which I could say this privately to qb without you seeing it, I would do so.

qb:

You may have come to this conclusion yourself already, but it is apparent to me that Ethan is simply not mentally capable of grasping the points we are making. Even the worst totalitarians in history attempted to justify their totalitarianism with appeals to moral notions outside of their own raw power. It seems to me that this is one of those rare instances where, rather than disingenuously ignoring the point as many posters do, he quite simply does not have the mental acuity to grasp the implications of his admission, nay proclamation, that might makes right. Sad, but true I think.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

ScottC, I appreciate your disclaimer. Thank you. I am not in any way offended by your opinion.

In response, I only have to say that I don't believe that my opinion is a subjective opinion. It is a fact that the federal government has the legal authority to tax our income. I don't see anywhere in the law where it is indicated that the federal government can only legally levy a tax of a certain percentage of income, say an upper limit of 40%, 50%, even 100%.

If I am wrong on that, please show me where it is indicated that there is a specific legal limitation to the tax rate the federal government can assign.

Since there is, to my knowledge, NO upper limit on the percentage of income that the Federal government can take as taxes, then theoretically the government does indeed HAVE the authority to levy a tax of 100% of your income.

I am not saying it is good or bad that this is the case, and I am admitting that I do not know if that is actually the case, but please allow me a little benefit of the doubt that I am trying to have a conversation on taxes based on what the law actually says.

If there is no legally defined upper limit to the amount of income the Federal government can take as taxes, then my comment before was correct.

Until you, QB, or someone else proves otherwise, I will remain under the impression that this is the case for better or worse.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

"It's convenient how you change from "your" to "we" in that sentence"

Give me a break!

Revised: "And if U.S. politicians enact a law that says the federal government will now take 100% of OUR income in the form of a 100% income tax, then WE get to vote those politicians out of office."

BETTER?! Jeezus.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"Reducing taxation is not "putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy.""

Haha. Okay QB.

First of all, I was speaking in the context of the Bush tax cuts which INDISPUTABLY reduced the tax rate for the upper income bracket MORE than the other brackets. That is a fact. Look it up.

Secondly, let's play the numbers game.

Let's assume you've been making $100,000 and you are in a tax bracket in 2009 that levies a 30% income tax on your income. That means you would be paying $30,000 in income taxes in 2009.

Let's assume you've been making $100,000 and they CHANGE the tax bracket that you are in from 30% in 2009 to 20% in 2010. That means you would be pay $20,000 in 2010 in income taxes, or $10,000 less than last year.

You SAVE $10,000 because of the tax cut.

A reduction in the tax rate does indeed put more money in your pocket.

A tax cut that reduces the upper income tax bracket by more than the middle income tax bracket, thus, puts more money in the pockets of the wealthy. That is precisely the point of the articles I posted hours ago.

How you make the assertion you did, against the clear facts, is bewildering.

"except to the rare person like you who is a totalitarian"

Suh-WING and a miss!

I am a socially liberal Democrat. I believe in democratic elections and the central tenets of the founding principles of this country, namely, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution CLEARLY states that Congress has the power to tax. The 16th Amendment to the Constitution CLEARLY states that the Federal government has the legal authority to levy income taxes on American citizens. I agree with both the Constitution and the 16th Amendment. How that makes me a totalitarian is anyone's guess.

"Reducing a flow of X from A to B does not result in a flow from B to A, but that is exactly what you are claiming"

Let me try to be clear: that is a poor metaphor. In the real world oil CANNOT flow from B to A. But MONEY CAN flow from A to B AND from B to A. So even though you are talking about a hypothetical scenario, it lacks basis in reality, so it logically falls apart. If you are trying to make a conceptual point, I suggest you try again. Perhaps you can say that you spilled water out of a glass and onto a table.

Here is what you said:

"""If I were to say that a reduction in the flow of oil from the Macondo well into the Gulf would constitute a flow of oil from the Gulf into the well, you would think I was crazy.

Your treatment of wealth redistribution is just like that"""

Again, oil CANNOT flow backwards into the well.

But wealth (money) CAN be distributed in many different ways.

So again, your metaphor logically falls apart at just a glance.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

And btw, QB, I used the word "put" in my comment above ("put more money in your pocket"), when the proper word is KEEP. ("keeps more money in your pocket").

But the outcome (obviously) is identical.

If you want to gripe about that, then you are just playing semantics games and not paying attention to the main points I am making.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 22, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"It is a fact that the federal government has the legal authority to tax our income."

This has never been a question. Neither I nor qb has disputed it. What we dispute is the notion that the legal power to do something means that the act is morally justified. You have explicitly proclaimed your belief in this notion, although you almost certainly do not actually believe it.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 22, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Scott, I do agree with you.

Ethan, your objection to the analogy is beside the point and is factually false anyway (with a sufficiently powerful pump, oil could definitely be pumped back in). To reduce a transfer from A to B is not to transfer from B to A. The analogy is quite accurate.

You are espousing a view that justice and morality are determined by positive law or, more accurately, the power of the state. I know you believe this is just standard liberal democratic thought, an perhaps you are unfortunately right about that.

But your theory of justice is in fact a totalitarion one. Justice and what is good, for an individual or a group, are whatever the state says they are, or whatever the state has the power to do, or whatever positive law say or allow; these are really the same thing. Under your view, all acts of the state are self justifying. That is the implicit major premise of your claim that the power to tax is itself the justification for absolute power over a person's income.

You might want to look into the problems of this view. The Crito would be one place to start. You try to democratize or republicanize totalitarianism by injecting the idea that "we," in the US at least, could vote out politicians who took 100%. Setting aside the illusory nature of this protection as it applies to a minority, this perhaps puts you on the ground described by Hobbes. Perhaps. You might want to study your Hobbes. But in all events, you do espouse total state power as determinative of justice. It is a totalitarian view.

Perhaps you are unwitting of the philosophical roots of your positions. I have the strong impression that you truly have never bothered to read and contemplate ideas outside very narrow and shallow sources -- mainly new media -- espousing your own ideological and political outlook. I would encourage you to remedy that. Perhaps you won't ever change your views, but at least perhaps you will understand their roots and the objection to them.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 23, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

"What we dispute is the notion that the legal power to do something means that the act is morally justified."

What I'VE been arguing is that taxation is LEGALLY justified. If I have mistaken your argument it is because your posts on the MORALITY of taxation were wrapped in a fraudulent view of the justification of taxation. That is where the conversation broke down on my part.

But in discussing the MORALITY of government functions, we must look at morality in society in general.

The truth of the matter is that there is NO singular definitive "morality" that governs our actions. While there are American laws which are based on Judeo-christian morality as defined by the religious texts, often laws have no basis in morality, or at the very least, the moral purpose or relative moral value of a law is debatable.

Obvious examples are the tax discussion we were having and abortion. In the tax discussion, you find it immoral that the rich are taxed at a higher rate than the rest of the populace. I find it immoral that the rich do everything they can to avoid paying their share of taxes so they can keep more of their inordinate wealth to themselves while at the same time watching their brother and sister countrymen and women suffer in poverty and hunger. That to me is immoral. We have a difference of opinion on what morality means in this instance. With respect to abortion, you might find it immoral to permit any abortions because you are a Christian (I'm being hypothetical here) and modern Christian philosophy is that abortion is wrong. I think abortion is a medical procedure and that forcing your religious beliefs on me or my spouse or partner is immoral.

So, again, I apologize if I misconstrued the nature of your argument. I guess I could not get past the topic of taxation as it was presented by you and QB. But at the end of the day I think your and QB's arguments about the morality of taxation failed in light of the concrete fact that there is no definitive morality governing these types of issues. Well, there is not definitive morality for a country as diverse as ours and one in which religious freedom (and the wide variety of morality and behavior that goes along with it) is to be celebrated, not tolerated. But also, that is WHY we have laws. Whether you or I view that certain law as MORAL or not, there is a reason for that law. In some religions or some societies, women are treated as inferiors and may even be mentally or physically abused. In Mormonism, for example, polygamy was tolerated. We have laws against polygamy in this country because many found polygamy to be immoral and the law was decided. But Mormons may think, or may have thought, that that law was immoral.

So, again, your argument fails in many respects, but most obviously because "morality" is not easily defined and, in most cases, the morality of a judgment or morality of a law is debatable.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 23, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

QB: "Justice and what is good, for an individual or a group, are whatever the state says they are, or whatever the state has the power to do, or whatever positive law say or allow; these are really the same thing. Under your view, all acts of the state are self justifying. That is the implicit major premise of your claim that the power to tax is itself the justification for absolute power over a person's income."

That's a good analysis of my arguments. But, QB, you are speaking to the philosophical implications of the word "justice" and I am talking about the real-world practicality of governing in a democratic republic, namely, the United States of America. I would have a very different view of "justice" and the power of the state in a country such as the Soviet Union or China or Somalia.

So, while I understand the basis of your argument, it is, to me, clearly fraudulent in that in practical, real-world terminology, I am referring to laws made in the USA by American politicians.

Your attempts to pigeon-hole my view of "justice" into some broader philosophical understanding of the word as applied equally and for all time and among all people is disingenuous at best and grossly unfair.

Obviously there are philosophical implications of words like "justice" and "morality," but again, the context is critical to one's understanding of the word.

I have faith in the democratic republic form of government that we have in the USA. I believe that our Federal government SHOULD have considerable authority and reach. The REASON for my beliefs is that our founding fathers and founding documents explicitly set out the basis for a just society. And while it was, and still remains, imperfect, the general operating principles of freedom, fairness, and equality are guidelines that allow for my philosophy of a strong democratically-elected government to exist in a practical sense.

There are MANY MANY examples of this. Too many to list. But to name two broad sectors of U.S. law where I believe a strong, authoritative government are not only permissible but NECESSARY include environmental law and labor law. While certain industries were negatively affected by environmental and labor laws when they were first introduced, the overwhelmingly positive result (clean water, clean air, no more child labor, etc) far outweighs any cost to society based on the negative implications for those businesses.

So, again, "justice" "morality" these are interesting philosophical discussions, yes.

But to have a discussion of these topics, and the implication of their application to each of us, without discussing them in the context of American society and the founding principles of the country as laid out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, is impractical and, for me at least, totally pointless.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 23, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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