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Happy Hour Roundup

* The Post's Jonathan Capehart hammers Charles Krauthammer over his opposition to Cordoba House.

* Charlie Cook predicts the GOP will retake the House.

* First responders blast GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio for that anti-mosque video politicizing 9/11 imagery. But, see, the views of first responders and 9/11 families don't count unless they oppose Cordoba House, get it?

* Dana Milbank skewers Alaska's Tea Party hypocrisy, noting that the 'Cuda's stomping ground is "the ultimate welfare state."

* Lovely: Josh Gerstein points out that in the Time magazine poll, 46 percent of Republicans say Obama is a Muslim.

* And: Bill Burton says polling whether Obama's a Muslim is so ridiculous that he can't imagine "why folks even answer the question when pollsters call."

* Shocker of the day: George W. Bush won't be an albatross for Republicans this fall, says Jeb Bush.

* Interesting historical analogy from Steve Benen, who wonders whether any GOPers will step forward and say Sharron Angle is unfit for the Senate, just as John Warner came out against Oliver North.

The unlikelihood of that happening says a lot about how much the Senate -- and the GOP -- have changed.

* Who needs the First Amendment when you can count on local fire departments to block plans to burn Korans?

* Dems are set to spend big money on ads for Robin Carnahan in Missouri and Jack Conway in Kentucky, and Markos games out the logic behind the move.

* Rasmussen finds Blanche Lincoln is now losing by nearly 40 points. Didn't some people predict that would happen?

* Doesn't BP have better things to worry about? Think Progress editor Faiz Shakir reports that BP pulled its ads from the site after it aggressively criticized the company.

* Adam Serwer has been doing nice work pointing how how ridiculous it is when anti-Muslim writers whine about being called out as anti-Muslim.

* And right wing media, eager to build on the credibility they earned by attacking MIchelle Obama's vacation, now turn their guns on Obama's faith.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  August 20, 2010; 6:18 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Happy Hour Roundup , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Next: Open Thread

Comments

Speaking of Angle and Missouri:

"An independent political group devoted to helping Republican candidates is spending more than $2 million for television ads in Nevada and Missouri that criticize Democratic Senate candidates.

"The ads are part of an escalating media campaign by Crossroads GPS and its affiliated American Crossroads. The groups were created under the tutelage of GOP masterminds Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie."

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/08/20/independent-gop-group-airs-ads-in-nevada-missouri/#ixzz0xBh3PrYL

Posted by: sbj3 | August 20, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

"* Shocker of the day: George W. Bush won't be an albatross for Republicans this fall, says Jeb Bush."

Ok, what would the 2010 election look like if Bush was not an albatross?  A 200 seat Republican pick up?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 20, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

uh oh: "True Face of Imam Rauf to be Revealed by Newly Discovered Audio Tapes…"

http://weaselzippers.us/2010/08/20/true-face-of-imam-rauf-to-be-exposed-by-newly-discovered-audio-tapes/

via ace

Posted by: sbj3 | August 20, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

"Beaverton's "Crash the Tea Party" teacher resigns as his dismissal loomed"

http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2010/08/beavertons_crash_the_tea_party_teacher_resigns_as_his_dismissal_loomed.html

via lucianne

Posted by: sbj3 | August 20, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Cook must be pretty sure of himself to put his reputation on the line by predicting the election result with so much time still before Election Day.

The truth is, very little general election campaigning has gone on, and yes democrats look bad, but republicans have yet to give a reason to cast a vote for any of them.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 20, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Sbj3,

I admire your source there. I'm guessing multiple freakouts over Weasel Zippers will ensue shortly. What's next, a link to Ace of Spades HQ?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 20, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

"Ok, what would the 2010 election look like if Bush was not an albatross? A 200 seat Republican pick up?"

That's funny. "if Bush was not an albatross" is kind of like "if Ted Bundy had not killed all those women."

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

sbj, I read about those tapes. I bet you it's nothing. From what I've read, there's no evidence of support for terrorists, which is all you republicans are looking for.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Sbj3,

I admire your source there. I'm guessing multiple freakouts over Weasel Zippers will ensue shortly. What's next, a link to Ace of Spades HQ?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | August 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

@sdjeff: "sbj, I read about those tapes. I bet you it's nothing."

I think you are probably correct. But some new audio gives the story legs.

Posted by: sbj3 | August 20, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

"Charlie Cook predicts the GOP will retake the House."
----------------------------------------------

Guess we'll just have to hope he's as wrong about this election as he was about the last two (which is to say, spectacularly) and erring again in the same party's favor (i.e., Republicans).

Posted by: CalD | August 20, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

sbj, do ya think Weasel Zippers might have Michelle Obama's infamous "whitey tape," too?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 20, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Chatter around the blogs about the Greek Orthodox Church at GZ that was damaged on 9/11 has some people trying to draw an equivalency to the Park51 project.

TPM has a good article about why it is not being rebuilt. Can you believe there was greed involved??

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/question_amidst_mosque_flair-up_what_about_the_gro.php

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 20, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Hoocouldanode that Sarah Palin defending Dr. Laura would Seriously.Piss.Off black GOP candidates, commentators and supporters.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-08-20/sarah-palins-dr-laura-tweet-black-republicans-react/full/

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 20, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"Rasmussen finds Blanche Lincoln is now losing by nearly 40 points. Didn't some people predict that would happen?"
----------------------------------------------

Ah, but that ~was~ a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, now wasn't it? You, as I recall, were about the first one on the bandwagon when out-of-state interests decided to spend probably 2 - 4 times as much on trashing the old girl in the primary as Lincoln and Boozman together will likely spend on their general election campaigns. So given the indefensible ludicrousness of the notion that anyone running to the left of Lincoln had a prayer in hell of winning a statewide election in Arkansas (Arkansas!) this year, WTF did you think would happen? Seriously, not smart.

Fact is, this was an unforced error for progressiver^ers. And that 10 or 20 million bucks that got urinated away in the great Arkansas toe hunt would find itself awfully welcome in PA, KY or MO right about now, if anyone involved had been inclined to spend it on anything more productive than the political assassination of a perfectly serviceable Blue Dog. Not smart at all. And for the record, crowing about it now does not actually make you look more intelligent. Try glasses, maybe.

Posted by: CalD | August 20, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"Lovely: Josh Gerstein points out that in the Time magazine poll, 46 percent of Republicans say Obama is a Muslim."
----------------------------------------------

We should really chip in and buy the president a Jesus lapel pin. Given how Republicans seems to put in lapel pins, perhaps that would put these rumors to rest.

Posted by: CalD | August 20, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

"Lovely: Josh Gerstein points out that in the Time magazine poll, 46 percent of Republicans say Obama is a Muslim."
----------------------------------------------

We should really chip in and buy the president a Jesus lapel pin. Given how much stock Republicans seems to put in lapel pins, perhaps that would put these rumors to rest.

Posted by: CalD | August 20, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Cal, the fact is that the democrats had a very good chance, as good as ever, of replacing a somewhat unreliable democrat with a seemingly more liberal candidate, either of which was likely to lose in November anyway.

Not smart at all? I think that's a stretch. No reason to insult Greg's intelligence.

By the way, maybe I'm confusing you with someone else, but I don't remember you being so much of a, well, I'll say prick for lack of a better word. I thought you were one of the more reasonable and respectful posters here, but maybe I was mistaken.

Posted by: SDJeff | August 20, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I agree with SDJeff. Lincoln was toast from the get-go, and Halter was a popular statewide official who looked like a better campaigner for the general. The fact that he is at least a little more progressive that Blanche was a bonus.

It is a stretch to blame Lincoln's current unpopularity in Kansas to residual damage from her primary challenge. She was a sinking ship all along, and the Halter voters are hardly going to be voting Republican in November.

The Halter campaign was a near miss at a better candidate, rather than an unforced error.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 20, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Halter/Lincoln, I can't help but wonder if Halter would have won the primary if the WH and Bill Clinton had stayed out of the way, or at least a bit more distant.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 20, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, dang, look at this:

"Census coming in at least $1.6 billion under budget"


Higher-than-anticipated response rates and an overqualified temporary workforce helped the U.S. Census Bureau keep the 2010 Census at least $1.6 billion under budget, officials announced Tuesday.

Congress appropriated $14.7 billion over 12 years for the 2010 head count, which began with planning meetings in 1999. More than half of the money was spent this year.

"This did not happen by chance," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters on Tuesday, adding later, "We demanded accountability and stretched every dollar as far as it could go."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/10/AR2010081006219.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 20, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

What else is happening? For fun:

The single-volume Oxford Dictionary of English has added some new words, among them "climate change" and "toxic debt."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/19/climate-change-vuvuzela-oxford-dictionary

Most of you here seem to appreciate words. If you've had a long, frustrating week, blow a vuvuzela at the deniers of climate change and the creators of toxic debt, then pour yourselves an adult beverage and chillax (a word I'd never heard and will probably never use again)!

Posted by: carolanne528 | August 20, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

"The unlikelihood of that happening says a lot about how much the Senate -- and the GOP -- have changed."

Doesn't it?

:(((((((

Posted by: akaoddjob | August 20, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I missed this one earlier and, needless to say, Greg certainly wouldn't link to it. From the WSJ:

"While businesses may do more for the public good than they're given credit for, philanthropies may do less. Think about it for a moment: Can you point to a single charitable accomplishment that has been as transformative as, say, the cell phone or the birth-control pill? To the contrary, the literature on philanthropy is riddled with examples of failure, including examples where philanthropic efforts have actually left intended beneficiaries worse off. The Gates Foundation has itself acknowledged that one of its premier initiatives—a 10-year, $2 billion project to reorganize high schools around the country into schools with fewer than 400 students—was a complete bust. Good for them for admitting it. In that, they are unusual. In the failure, they are not."


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704476104575438993318888822.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 20, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

That's a pretty small hammer Capehart's got there.

Barely a brad-driver.

Posted by: tao9 | August 20, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

ZOMG,

Just read Benen up on the verytallpony again and used the linguistic construction, in 2010 at that, "...unfit for the Senate."

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahwooooh...inhale, heegigsnork.

Posted by: tao9 | August 20, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

ZOMG,

Just read Benen up on the verytallpony again and used the linguistic construction, in 2010 at that, "...unfit for the Senate."

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahwooooh...inhale, heegigsnork.

Posted by: tao9 | August 20, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

@ScottC3 : As you are no doubt aware, the technology that underlies cell phones and the basic research that went into developing the "pill" were pretty much exclusively funded by the federal govt.

Posted by: srw3 | August 20, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

oops+1

Posted by: tao9 | August 20, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

srw3: "the basic research that went into developing the "pill" were pretty much exclusively funded by the federal govt."

I'd bet if that research was being funded today, Grandpa McCain would be making sarcastic "pork" remarks.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 21, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"As you are no doubt aware, the technology that underlies cell phones and the basic research that went into developing the "pill" were pretty much exclusively funded by the federal govt."

Which relates to the point of the article how exactly?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

@tao - I think, to make your point more convincingly, another twenty or so "ha"s would have worked for you. Still, what you've written is a fine construction, grammatically speaking.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

"hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahwooooh...inhale, heegigsnork."

I think tao was responding to CalD @ 8:12 PM. I concur.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 21, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

re Scott's WSJ opinion piece, as noted at the corner, the writer herself works for a charitable organization... possibly without financial recompense, I suppose:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/244320/businessmen-vs-philanthropists-veronique-de-rugy

There's lots wrong with the thinking in this piece (eg by far the most entrepreneurial endeavors fail to provide society with anything of real or sustained or widespread benefits) and to this assertion - " Can you point to a single charitable accomplishment that has been as transformative as, say, the cell phone or the birth-control pill?" one might point to the real-world consequences of Christ aiding the lepers.

But the main fallacy here is false dilemma. Eg, disease has killed far more people than nuclear weapons and therefore nuclear weapons are unimportant.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

BTW, srw3:

"the basic research that went into developing the "pill" were pretty much exclusively funded by the federal govt."

From what I can find out there, this is entirely false. Funding for development of the pill came from many sources, none of which were the government. Planned Parenthood, heiress Katharine McCormick, a company called Syntax, another company called Searle, and Harvard all provided funding in one way or another. I can't find any indication that the government was involved in any way at all.

BTW, the fact that Katharine McCormick was a big contributor to funding the pill research does indeed run somewhat counter to the article I linked to, since she was doing so not as a commercial investment but rather as philanthropic exercise. Still, your rush to credit the government seems, from what I can find, to be ill-advised.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Watch this one closely...wikileaks founder wanted for questioning re rape charges... http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/08/21/technology/AP-EU-Sweden-WikiLeaks.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1282392338-sC7m5tmGZcbe8RD/9rSzbQ

This guy heads up a LOT of peoples' Public Enemy List and his operation (or any like it that it might inspire) poses a real threat to entities which depend on secrecy. If this is an invalid story, which it certainly could be, we'd likely never know who put the smear into operation but we'll get a good look at how this sort of black propaganda gets done.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

U.S. Anti-Islam Protest Seen as Lift for Extremists

"Some counterterrorism experts say the anti-Muslim sentiment that has saturated the airwaves and blogs in the debate over plans for an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing into the hands of extremists by bolstering their claims that the United States is hostile to Islam."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/21/world/21muslim.html?_r=1&hp

Who cares? It feels good.

Posted by: wbgonne | August 21, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

"In a Pew Research Center report issued on Thursday and entitled “Growing Number of Americans Say Obama Is a Muslim” (tragic in its own right), there was another bit of bad news for Obama: the number of Jews who identify as Republican or as independents who lean Republican has increased by more than half since the year he was elected. At 33 percent it now stands at the highest level since the data have been kept. In 2008, the ratio of Democratic Jews to Republican Jews was far more than three to one. Now it’s less than two to one."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/21/opinion/21blow.html?ref=opinion

Posted by: wbgonne | August 21, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

"Scott's WSJ opinion piece, as noted at the corner, the writer herself works for a charitable organization.."

As noted by NR? How about as noted by the author herself in the article itself?

"But the main fallacy here is false dilemma. Eg, disease has killed far more people than nuclear weapons and therefore nuclear weapons are unimportant."

What dilemma? The point of the article was stated explicitly.

"I do not mean to belittle philanthropy. I represent a foundation and believe it can accomplish a great deal of good if it achieves its donor's objective, which is to free individuals to pursue their ambitions without the burden of intrusive government. My point is simply that there is nothing inherently better or nobler about using one's resources for charitable purposes than for any number of other ones."

Where is this false dilemma?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

The corruption of justice that arises from disparities in wealth (and related access to points of power/influence) is hardly a new observation. Blackwater individuals, as news outlets note today, are off the hook as part of an agreement which includes paying a large fine. Meanwhile, the US incarcerates a higher percentage of its citizens than any other nation on earth, three quarters of them for non-violent crimes.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see Charlie Cook jump on the bandwagon.

I find it amusing to see all these predictions about midterms before the primaries are even finished! Here in Florida every poll in EVERY major race we have shows HUGE numbers of undecideds..over 20%..30% in some races. Is Florida such an outlier or is the % of undecided high in other states as well?

Whatever...the reality of a frightie takeover of the House is frightening indeed for our nation which they have left in shambles from their last go around. It simply defies logic to vote for the same crowd that gave us the HUGE economic disaster with double digit employment because their successor can't undo in 2 years what the bonehead R's took 8 to create...16 if you add in St. Ronnies start down this slippery slope with all that supply side voodoo economics!

Whatever. These "predictions" of doom and gloom are a huge plus for the Dems on two fronts.
1.) GOTV. Looking at the lineup of wackjobs and thieves the R's are fielding...Angle,Paul,Rubio et al it should be really easy to go with the.."are you freaking serious" campaign pitch.

2.) Lowered expectations. The Dems have already taken their beating in the punditry...they're toast...the Dems should simply fold up their tents and go home, and so when they lose it won't be news at all...however.. IF the R's do not reclaim the House..or at least make substantial gains the MSM will go NUTS trying to figure out way. Everyday will be a new story about what killed the R party...we could start seeing stories such as...Do the R's = Whigs. Is there a future for hate and intolerance and pee your pants girly men running around frightened out of their gourds...or is the nation ready to return to sanity.

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 21, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I hate to link to the drudge-lite that is Politico...but the RNC is going broke.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41324.html

"The troubled Republican National Committee has just over $5 million in the bank for the final stretch of the 2010 mid-term election campaign, according to an unannounced filing with the FEC disclosed Friday night.

The report also indicates that the national party headed by embattled chairman Michael Steele is carrying just over $2 million in debt."

...

"The DNC released its July fundraising numbers earlier this week, reporting that it had just over $10.8 million on hand while also carrying $3.5 million in debt."

...

The money quote:

"The RNC's money woes have many party leaders and operatives deeply worried about whether the GOP will be able to take full advantage of an otherwise promising election cycle. Of most concern are get-out- the-vote activities that are typically funded by the national committee."

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 21, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

@BBQ You have answered the question in my post. IF the R's do not reclaim the House or at least post a significant gain what will the MSM come up with for a reason...
1.)Tea party influence?

2.)The rampant hatred and intolerance

3.)The R's desire to monkey around with our Constitution (at least two amendments) in their quest for xenophobic purity.

You have pointed the direction the R party will take for their excuse BBQ..and of course trumpeted loudly by the fringe media at Faux TV...MONEY..Michael Steele was a goober etc.

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 21, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

@Scott - Fair enough (I don't have access to WSJ and hadn't seen that graph).

Still, that dichotomy (business vs charitable giver) as the subject of the piece isn't very completely drawn out and what is omitted effectively sets up the false dilemma. No mention, for example of tobacco, heroin, armaments or many other profit-driven enterprises and their by-products which have huge negative consequences for the world. Further, it's a false comparison to put Bill Gates as an individual (what he and his personal wealth might be expected to achieve) up against what his corporate enterprise (with its millions of employees worldwide) might effect in changes to society (and we ought not to simply assume all these changes beneficial as you'll find out when Obama reads your emails).

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Tomasky quotes conservative Dreher on the Park 21 issue and says:

"Fair point. Liberals in general tend not to think in these terms. The sacred/profane dichotomy is something we're inherently suspicious of because as liberals look at history, we see that declaring a person or thing profane has often been demagogic and wrong." http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2010/aug/20/usa-islam-lower-manhattan-mosque-and-community

Tomasky's point is good but I think of it slightly differently. Where we set up the notion that a thing is profane/sacred we commonly are conceptualizing in a manner which is, I think, deeply dangerous.

Where a culture agrees that a thing is taboo (profane) or its converse (righteous or sacred) we pretty immediately stop thinking. The notion or the valuation becomes that which cannot be questioned or disagreed with.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse


I missed this one earlier and, needless to say, Greg certainly wouldn't link to it. From the WSJ:

"While businesses may do more for the public good than they're given credit for, philanthropies may do less. Think about it for a moment: Can you point to a single charitable accomplishment that has been as transformative as, say, the cell phone or the birth-control pill? To the contrary, the literature on philanthropy is riddled with examples of failure, including examples where philanthropic efforts have actually left intended beneficiaries worse off. The Gates Foundation has itself acknowledged that one of its premier initiatives—a 10-year, $2 billion project to reorganize high schools around the country into schools with fewer than 400 students—was a complete bust. Good for them for admitting it. In that, they are unusual. In the failure, they are not."


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704476104575438993318888822.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 20, 2010 9:47 PM |

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

Which is it? The Birth Control Pill is a wonderful trans-formative development, as the WSJ claims it to be, or it is an Instrument of Satan, to thwart God's plan to turn out an unlimited number of babies?


You Right Wingers sort that out, amongst yourselves please, and get back to us, once you have settled on one of your two conflicting positions.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 21, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

@rukidding

If they don't take back the House, then I guess I really don't care what their excuse for failure is. I'll just be happy for the failure.

I do agree that Steele will take a ton of heat if they don't take back the House...even then, I'm not sure it would cost him his job. That guy is a political cockroach!

Unfortunately, I still give better odds to a GOP run House than a Dem run House come next year. I see ways to avoid it, but I'm not seeing Dems stepping up yet.

I must say, it will be impossible for the GOP to reset expectations at this point. If they don't take back the House (which actually is a LOT of seats), they failed. If they don't make serious gains in the Senate, they failed.

Right now Dems only need to walk out of 2010 with a bare majority in the House and minor losses in the Senate....and it would be hailed as a giant win on their part. Let's hope they can do that.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 21, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

@BBQ Agreed on ALL points.

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 21, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

@Liam - Scott, to his credit, can at least claim to not be part of the extremist Christian right that has made its deep mark in the modern movement.

The point the writer makes in that piece is really ideological (and here's where Scott IS on board). For-profit business activity produces great good for humanity and thus restrictions upon it are, almost always if not always, a diminishment of those potential benefits. But as I suggested, the story is far more complicated than such a simplistic false dilemma portrayal tries to suggest (there's a variance in how guilty folks can be on this).

Obviously, there's a mistake other folks can make too, the "for profit enterprises must produce negatives and no or few positives" for humanity. Also silly and fallacious.

The author of the piece chose to use the term "nobility" as in, it is no more noble to give charitably than to engage in successful business. Well, not quite. First, the trade in sex slaves (or any sort of slaves) is a business but consequences not yummy. And it doesn't make sense to use the term nobility outside of the realm of intention. One could achieve something beneficial by accident and there's nothing noble in that, it's mere luck.

But it's also quite correct to argue that a good intention might not have a good consequence ("noble" could still be sensibly used here). For example, one of my sociology profs, who'd worked many years on a small Pacific island, told us of a hospital built in one city on the island to help females get safely through childbirth. And it achieved the goal of fewer infant or mother deaths. But at the same time, it worked to destroy and entire social support system (beneficial in many ways) that had centered on the culture's mid-wifery.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

"I don't have access to WSJ"

I hadn't realized that article was behind the firewall, otherwise I would have reproduced more of it. Most of opinionjournal.com's articles are free.

"No mention, for example of tobacco, heroin, armaments or many other profit-driven enterprises and their by-products which have huge negative consequences for the world."

If Bill Gates decided to donate his money to Islamic terrorists for funding terrorist attacks, I'm guessing you wouldn't describe it as a "negative-byproduct" of "philanthropy driven enterprises".

BTW, there was also no mention of the corporate taxes paid, or the income taxes paid not only by Gates but by his millions of employees, or the property taxes paid by all of those same people, that go to fund things like schools, welfare programs, medicare, etc, etc.

"Further, it's a false comparison to put Bill Gates as an individual (what he and his personal wealth might be expected to achieve) up against what his corporate enterprise (with its millions of employees worldwide) might effect in changes to society..."

Not at all. Bill Gates can and should do whatever he wants with his wealth (or at least that which the government has not taken from him). But if he is asking himself the question "How should I use my money to achieve the most benefit for the most people," it is reasonable to wonder whether using it to found a corporation which employs millions of people (no small thing, that) and produces a useful product is not a better use of that money than establishing a philanthropic foundation.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. do you want an open thread?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 21, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Talk about intrusive government! A local Florida bureaucrat, a fire chief, disallows a permit for the Church that was planning on burning a bunch of Korans... http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/fire_department_denies_florida_churchs_plans_to_burn_korans.php?ref=fpb

Maybe Dr Laura will speak to this attempt to take away speech rights from the victimized Church.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If the WSJ is so opposed to Philanthropy, then they should demand that tax deductions for contributions to charity be eliminated. I bet they will not, because all the fat cats love to treat all their fat cat friends to charity balls, and write the costs off.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 21, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Liam:

"Which is it?"

The latter. I've never heard anyone claim the former.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Greg. Yes, please.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 21, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Liam:

"If the WSJ is so opposed to Philanthropy..."

I sometimes wonder if such an utter failure to grasp a point as this can possibly be the product of mere stupidity, or if it must be the result of conscious intention.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@sc3:He went to Cornell University and received a bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1924. He attended Harvard University where he was an instructor in zoology while also working toward his master's and doctorate degrees. From 1927 to 1930 he moved from Harvard to Cambridge University in England to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology with Richard Goldschmidt in Berlin where he performed research. He became an instructor in general physiology at Harvard University in 1930 and was promoted in 1931 to an assistant professor. [1]...Dr. Pincus began studying hormonal biology and steroidal hormones ****early in his career.*** His first breakthrough came early, when he was able to produce in vitro fertilization in rabbits in 1934. His experiments involving parthenogenesis produced a rabbit that appeared on the cover of Look magazine in 1937.--wikipedia

Just where exactly would Gregory Goodwin Pincus(the pill inventor) be without his 14 years in government (US and England) supported and subsidized universities to get his Ph.D. and begin his research?


I will grant that the govt didn't exclusively provide funding, but without government supported academic and research institutions that funded his work, the BASIC HORMONAL RESEARCH THAT PINCUS USED TO DEVELOP THE PILL DONE AT STATE SUPPORTED ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED OR CERTAINLY NOT AS RAPIDLY. Or do you believe that the massive govt subsidies that universities receive doesn't count as govt support for research?

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@Scott - I have to run. Let me say that what the author gets right here is to focus on outcomes and to set aside theoretical or uninvestigated assumptions (eg the noble intent will work out better than something else). What she gets wrong, or at least what is entirely questionable, is her disregard or disapproval of a communitarian ethos and the benefits that attend such an ethos. We are not, of course, born equal and chance plays an enormous part in how goods are distributed (Gates was born with a certain sort of mind and character and into a situation which was wonderfully in correspondence with his fortunate capabilities and talents). He himself understands his good fortune and the lack of it for others.

Posted by: bernielatham | August 21, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse


Liam:

"If the WSJ is so opposed to Philanthropy..."

I sometimes wonder if such an utter failure to grasp a point as this can possibly be the product of mere stupidity, or if it must be the result of conscious intention.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:06 AM

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

Don't beat yourself up so much, just because you can not resolve in your own mind, if you are being intentionally deceptive, or merely stupid. I would say that you are a mixture of both.

I see that you responded and said that you believe the development of the birth control pill to be the work of Satan. How do you feel about your WSJ bible, boasting about what a wonderful thing that has been for society?

Posted by: Liam-still | August 21, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

All, here you go, open thread:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/open_thread_1.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 21, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

"First, the trade in sex slaves (or any sort of slaves) is a business but consequences not yummy."

The funding of Islamic terrorists is charitable giving, but the consequences aren't so tasty either.

The point was not that all for-profit pursuits necessarily achieve "good". The point was that one is not necessarily achieving more "good" by using one's money for philanthropic purposes than by using it in a profit-making enterprise.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Liam:

"I see that you responded and said that you believe the development of the birth control pill to be the work of Satan."

Scratch that. Reverse it. My bad.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@scottc3: Which relates to the point of the article how exactly?

"While businesses may do more for the public good than they're given credit for, philanthropies may do less. Think about it for a moment: Can you point to a single charitable accomplishment that has been as transformative as, say, the cell phone or the birth-control pill?"

The implication is that the birth control was a private business accomplishment when in fact it was not. It would not have happened without massive govt, not business, support.

1) Govt research grants have much more in common with philanthropic organizations than businesses as the goals of govt research is (or was until corporate funding infiltrated and partially supplanted govt funding for research in academia) the generation of new knowledge not the generation of profit.

2) The pill was developed through govt and private philanthropy, so it is a success story for philanthropy, not business.

I would say that Wikipedia is an enormously successful philanthropic organization along with WC3 and mozilla.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Or do you believe that the massive govt subsidies that universities receive doesn't count as govt support for research?"

I can't find any information on government grants to Harvard in the 1920's and 1930's, much less for government grants specifically for hormonal research.

Let me know what you have.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Liam:

"I see that you responded and said that you believe the development of the birth control pill to be the work of Satan."

Scratch that. Reverse it. My bad.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:25 AM
.................
Perhaps your:


"utter failure to grasp a point as that, can possibly be the product of mere stupidity, or if it must be the result of conscious intention."

Posted by: Liam-still | August 21, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@sc3:The point was that one is not necessarily achieving more "good" by using one's money for philanthropic purposes than by using it in a profit-making enterprise.

If this is the point, for the most part it is wrong. Its hard to think of a private for profit company that provides more good than an equally funded non-profit entity attempting to do the same thing. Certainly govt can do better...

A case in point. When digital satellites were launched, NOAA spent 10s of millions of dollars on contractors (private for profit corporations) to develop a software package that would display the digital data in a way that is useful to researchers and forecasters. They failed miserably at everything except ripping of the govt for their fees without producing a working package. The desire to outsource this activity was a direct consequence of "govt is the problem" Reagan era thinking. (BTW satellite development as outsourced as well and that has gone badly...) Meanwhile a few lazy, good for nothing govt employees, developed the system that is currently used by all NWS offices and most research universities for orders of magnitude less, basically on their spare time... Business failed where a non-profit govt entity succeeded at a fraction of the cost....

Similarly, what is now the internet, which is lauded by capitalists, was the quintessential govt activity supported for decades with no goal of commercial application and return.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"It would not have happened without massive govt, not business, support."

Again, you have yet to establish that the pill was the result of any government subsidies, much less "massive" ones. From what I have read you are simply wrong on this count.

On the other hand, as I have already acknowledged, the philanthropy of Katharine McCormick did indeed play a large role.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

srw3: "2) The pill was developed through govt and private philanthropy, so it is a success story for philanthropy, not business."

(snark on) But but but but but...business SOLD a lot of the pill, and all that selling surely added to bottom line success....I mean come on...is there another kind of success?? Sheesh.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 21, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Laim:

"Perhaps your: "utter failure to grasp..."

Nope. I didn't fail to grasp the point at all. What I failed to do was accurately convey my answer to your question. I said "former" when I meant "latter" and vice-versa. Again, my bad.

Still, the question remains whether your mischaracterization of the WSJ article is the result of stupidity or intention.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The Pill was developed by Private Enterprise, In League With Satan.

Never question the accuracy of the Right Wing Media, or The Right Wing Theocracy.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 21, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

Oh, and BTW, where does the government get the money to pass out in the form of grants, subsidies, etc.?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Its hard to think of a private for profit company that provides more good than an equally funded non-profit entity attempting to do the same thing."

Equally funded....by what?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

@sc3:Again, you have yet to establish that the pill was the result of any government subsidies, much less "massive" ones.

Read what I wrote: the ***basic research*** that went into developing the "pill" was pretty much exclusively funded by the federal govt."

the basic research was done early in Pincus's career while he was working at non-profit academic institutions here and in England that receive massive amounts of government support both through direct grants and extremely favorable tax subsidies (both for the institution and for donors who give to universities). Without these govt (I would say massive, but I guess that his a matter of opinion) subsidized academic institutions, the infrastructure for Pincus to do his research would not exist. His own education would have been extremely unlikely without the same govt subsidized academic institutions that educated him, not to mention employed him for 14 years while he did THE BASIC RESEARCH IN HORMONES THAT LED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PILL.

"Dr. Pincus began studying hormonal biology and steroidal hormones early in his career. His first breakthrough came early, when he was able to produce in vitro fertilization in rabbits in 1934" while he was a professor at Harvard, a heavily government subsidized institution.

I don't know how to make the subsidies that Pincus (and all other researchers at US universities) had from govt any more plain to you.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@sc3:Oh, and BTW, where does the government get the money to pass out in the form of grants, subsidies, etc..."Its hard to think of a private for profit company that provides more good than an equally funded non-profit entity attempting to do the same thing."

Equally funded....by what?
-------
What is your point?
What possible relevance is the source of the funding to your argument.
Answer: ZERO!

Are you going to the meme about how taxes that fund research are somehow stolen from the noble capitalists who would do more good with their profits than evil government?

Like businesses there are more and less successful non-profit entities. What does the funding source have to do with whether non-profit and/or govt entities support and enable the creation of things that are later commercialized by businesses?

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"I don't know how to make the subsidies that Pincus (and all other researchers at US universities) had from govt any more plain to you."

As I said, I have been unable to find any information about how much money Harvard received in the 20's and 30's, and for what it received the money. If you have any info on it, I am all ears, but the only thing made clear by your flat assertion it is that you believe it to be so.

Besides, where did the government get the money that it allegedly gave to Harvard?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse


srw3:

Oh, and BTW, where does the government get the money to pass out in the form of grants, subsidies, etc.?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 10:59 AM

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

Could it be that they just plucked it from their No Taxes Money Trees, where they get all the money from, to pass out to the Military Industrial Complex, and the No Bid Contractors, such as Halliburton. I bet that is where it came. It was picked from the Money Tree Orchard.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 21, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

@sc3: Are you asserting or implying that private universities didn't enjoy tax exempt status at the time or that tax exempt status is not a subsidy or that charitable giving is not subsidized by the tax advantages that flow from them? REALLY?

Since at least 1894, educational institutions have been exempted from the corporate income tax. In 1917, charitable contributions to non-profit educational institutions became tax exempt.

--1894 Tariff Act of 1894--Earliest statutory reference to tax
exemption for certain organizations.

--Revenue Act of 1909--Introduced language prohibiting private
inurement,

--Revenue Act of 1913--Established income tax system with tax
exemption for certain organizations.

--Revenue Act of 1917--Introduced individual income tax deduction
for charitable donations.

--Revenue Act of 1918--Estate tax deduction for charitable bequests
added.
--http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2893/is_3_27/ai_n25154610/

I think this pretty much proves that private universities received the benefit of massive tax subsidies for their own activities and for individuals to gain tax advantages by donating to them or donating to tax exempt foundations that fund universities...

Where is your evidence that institutions didn't benefit from these massive subsidies?

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"What possible relevance is the source of the funding to your argument."

Well, let us assume two entities, A and B. Both entities are providing the exact same service, and both do an equally good job of providing the service. That is to say, the service that each provides is doing the same amount of "good". Let us also assume that they are equal in all others ways as well (number of employees, amount they pay employees, etc.) except for one.

A is a for profit company, and B is a non-profit company subsidized by another entity. (The nature of this third, subsidizing agency is irrelevant...it could be the government, or a philanthropist, or a religious organization...whatever.)

Which of these is ultimately doing more "good"? I think it is undeniably A, the for-profit organization, because in addition to the service they provide, A actually produces new wealth that can then be used for other purposes, while B not only does not produce wealth, it destroys it. The subsidy it requires from its benefactor to provide the exact same service as the for-profit company could have been used for some other purpose but is now gone.

This is why the source of funding matters in your point. And it is also why it is difficult to find any two entities to compare that actually fit your qualifications. Subsidized entities rarely if ever engage in undertakings that for-profit entities are undertaking successfully, because it would be an utter waste of wealth to subsidize something that can be done while actually creating wealth.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Are you asserting...that tax exempt status is not a subsidy?"

Yes, I assert precisely that. An exemption from taxes is not a subsidy.

I have had this discussion several times here. An exemption from taxes (or a tax cut) can only be considered a "subsidy" if one believes that all income belongs first to the state, and that therefore any income which one is allowed to have is "given" to them by the government. This is a distinctly marxist notion, and may well be a belief held by the hard left.

However, if one believes, as I do and as I suspect that most Americans do, that income is owned first by the one who earned it, then a failure to tax is simply the absence of confiscation. The state is no more "subsidizing" you than is a mugger subsidizing you when he takes your wallet but leaves you with your watch.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

srw3

To make the point a bit more obvious, consider:

The federal government allows individuals to reduce their taxable income when they file income tax returns by claiming various things against it, such as children or mortgage interest payments. By your logic, then, the government is "subsidizing" the raising of your children and your mortgage. Is that what you believe?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: By your logic, then, the government is "subsidizing" the raising of your children and your mortgage. Is that what you believe?

Absolutely! Anyone that understands the rudiments of high school civics knows that tax subsidies like the child deduction, mortgage deduction, education savings accounts, IRAs 401Ks are all subsidies to individuals (and mostly to people who make far more than the median income (top 20% of all income earners). What else could they be? The govt subsidizes these activities far more lavishly than other direct subsidies, like grants to educational institutions, research universities, etc. It happens that I think that some of the subsidies, for education and basic research, child care, EITC, etc. are a good and appropriate use of tax revenues. Others, not so much, but that is the nature of representative govt. I agree with some things that govt does but not others.

Both are revenues the govt has in effect not collected that have to be made up by taxes from other places. What is the difference in terms of their impact on the budget? Do you believe that tax cuts don't need to be paid for but spending does? Don't they have the same effect on the budget?

"An exemption from taxes is not a subsidy."

This is a thoroughly ludicrous statement.

If company A makes 100k in profits, theoretically, it pays the corporate tax on that amount.

If company B makes 100k in profits but reinvests 50K of those profits into r & d that currently gets a tax subsidy and pays less tax because of the extra investment of those profits.

Isn't r&d being subsidized by the govt in this case?

This isn't always good. The problem with employer sponsored health care is that companies get a subsidy to provide care that people in the individual market don't get, giving them a competitive advantage over self employed people.

But its stll a subsidy.

Your reading of the constitution of rightwingnutistan
" An exemption from taxes (or a tax cut) can only be considered a "subsidy" if one believes that all income belongs first to the state, and that therefore any income which one is allowed to have is "given" to them by the government. This is a distinctly marxist notion, and may well be a belief held by the hard left.

However, if one believes, as I do and as I suspect that most Americans do, that income is owned first by the one who earned it, then a failure to tax is simply the absence of confiscation. The state is no more "subsidizing" you than is a mugger subsidizing you when he takes your wallet but leaves you with your watch."

leads me to believe that government is inherently evil and that paying for services like fire, police, highways, sewer systems, etc. domestically and a huge war and fighting budget dwarfing the next 10 countries (most of whom are allies) combined internationally is just the govt mugging you.

I hope you appreciate reading this over a technology that was completely subsidized by the US govt for over 40 years.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

correction:believe that ***you feel*** government is inherently evil... apologies

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: This is a distinctly marxist notion, and may well be a belief held by the hard left.

Actually, Marx wrote about workers owning the means of production not the state. Every resident of rightwingnutistan believes that s/he is a scholar of 19th century social thought and can divine what Marx would think or do given 21st century reality and probably believes that people who call themselves Marxists or who are accused of being Marxists all believe the same things. Marx's greatest contribution was his descriptive analysis of capitalism as practiced by Europe and the US at the time. His prediction that national boundaries would necessarily disappear in terms of capital moving around the world relatively freely, seeking out the workers and resources that would produce the most surplus value at the least costs certainly seems prescient. His solutions, which have never been even attempted in any real way, are much more problematic because he was essentially a post enlightenment figure who believed that workers, freed of oppressive capitalists and its govt lackeys, would be inherently altruistic and work toward the common good, deriving their inner need for wholeness through the well functioning community. While I think that this vision is possible and has happened in some non industrial societies and to some limited extent in Nordic democratic socialist govts, I don't believe that people are not all altruistic all the time.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Absolutely!"

Well, then, we have a fundamental philosophical difference that cannot be resolved. You believe the marxist notion that wealth belongs to the state, which then allocates it as it sees fit, thus "subsidizing" the existence of the population. I believe that wealth belongs to he who created it, and he in turn subsidizes through taxation the activities of the government under which he lives.

Again, this is an unresolvable philosophical divide. I obviously have no chance of convincing you of how invidious is your notion, so I won't try. But I will say that your notion would be thought to be not only wrong but dangerously so by most Americans throughout history, and certainly our founding fathers.

"leads me to believe that government is inherently evil"

There is nothing in what I have said that suggests I believe government is inherently evil, and to be perfectly clear, I do not. It can be, of course, but not inherently so.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: You believe the marxist notion that wealth belongs to the state, which then allocates it as it sees fit, thus "subsidizing" the existence of the population.

I don't believe any such thing. Please don't put words into my mouth. Feel free to quote me and analyse my writing, it but don't tell me what I believe or at least support your assertions.

"I believe that wealth belongs to he who created it, and he in turn subsidizes through taxation the activities of the government under which he lives."

Again, classical Marxism does not include state ownership of the means of production as the end of the evolution of society.

So far we agree. Of course "creating wealth" means different things to different people...but that aside.

If govt isn't either useless or evil or both, which services do you want to have and how would you pay for them?

I am guessing that you don't believe in tax policy being used differentially by govt to encourage some behaviors (investing in r&d, home mortgage deduction, working even if you can't make a living wage-EITC) and not others (taxing cigarettes, alcohol, *if we were a sane country* pot, etc.).

Here is a disagreement. I have no problem with using tax policy to achieve social ends.

Or is it that we just want to subsidize different things?

For example, I don't want to subsidize resource extraction around the world by being the world's policeman. Let mining and shipping companies pay for their own security overseas, and no rely on the armed forces stationed around the world (especially in the Middle East) to do this or reimburse the govt for the security that it provides.

You seem to have a list (not shared here) of things that you think govt should do and you seem to suggest that some kind of taxation is the way to fund govt activities. Its seems that you just want much more selective application of taxation and tax subsidies.

Is this correct? If so, we have a disagreement in degree and not in kind.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Actually, Marx wrote about workers owning the means of production not the state..."

OK. It's a communist notion rather than a marxist one. Still, it's a notion that is fairly anathema to America's founding notions.

"Every resident of rightwingnutistan believes..."

I've never met any residents of rightwingnutistan, so I wouldn't know what they believe.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: There is nothing in what I have said that suggests I believe government is inherently evil, and to be perfectly clear, I do not. It can be, of course, but not inherently so.

Well its easy to assume that you think govt is bad, evil, or whatever, when you liken taxation to being mugged (not, I assume, a good thing and not committed by a good entity). You have said that taxation is necessary for running a govt, right? So taxation to support the govt is not a mugging by govt, right? Well is taxation like mugging or is it like paying for the services that govt provides to the society as a whole (and to you as a member of this society.)? It can't be both...

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

@sc3:OK. It's a communist notion rather than a marxist one. Still, it's a notion that is fairly anathema to America's founding notions.

I think promoting the general welfare can mean a lot of things, personally and doesn't exclude ESOPs, co-ops, or other non for profit corporation models for providing society's necessities. Not throwing around Marxism as an epithet without actually knowing what it stands for is a start.

"I've never met any residents of rightwingnutistan, so I wouldn't know what they believe."

Earlier you posted:
"However, if one believes, as I do and as I suspect that most Americans do, that income is owned first by the one who earned it, then a failure to tax is simply the absence of confiscation. The state is no more "subsidizing" you than is a mugger subsidizing you when he takes your wallet but leaves you with your watch."

Right out of the rightwingnutistan constitution...It must be a coincidence...

Really? You seem like you would fit right (ha, ha) in there, at least when you call taxation a mugging. Its still not clear to me whether or not taxation to provide infrastructure and social services is mugging a bunch of frolicking libertarian wealth creators or a part of modern society along with with laws that define what private property is, the police to protect people's private property from people who would take it from them, roads to that people can access their property, and all that other govt stuff that most people take for granted...

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

srw3:

"I don't believe any such thing."

Well then your contention that the absence of governmental wealth confiscation represents a "subsidy" is incoherent.

A subsidy is a gift or grant of money. One cannot give a gift or grant of something that one does not already own. Therefore one cannot sensibly claim that the failure to take something represents a subsidy unless one believes that the something is already owned by the one failing to take it.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

srw3:

"It can't be both..."

Of course it can be. If I go into a store to buy a six-pack of beer, and the cashier says "That'll be $6 for the beer, and another $100 for various other things I want to give to other people, and you aren't leaving until you pay," I've both paid for a service provided and I've been mugged.

BTW, I am more than happy to have a serious discussion about the proper role of government and how that role should be financed. However, your continued reference to things like "rightwingnutistan" suggest to me that you may not be willing to have or capable of having such a serious discussion.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: Well then your contention that the absence of governmental wealth confiscation represents a "subsidy" is incoherent.

A subsidy is a gift or grant of money. One cannot give a gift or grant of something that one does not already own. Therefore one cannot sensibly claim that the failure to take something represents a subsidy unless one believes that the something is already owned by the one failing to take it.
---
To me there is no fiscal distinction or difference between a "gift" or "subsidy" that comes as not having to pay taxes and a grant that I get after I pay taxes. Would you be happier if I called it a "discount" on taxes and not a subsidy?

Unless you are arguing the semantics of the word "subsidy" vs. and some other term more accurately describes govt using tax policy to promote societal ends, I don't see how my statement is incoherent.

Again, is the govt justified in levying taxes to support infrastructure and social services it provides or not?

If you think that it is not justified, then I suggest you move to Somalia or Darfur where there is no functioning govt and tax collection is severely compromised. It is a downward spiral to a Hobbsian "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" life, but hey, no taxes! Of course there is also no no pesky govt there to protect you from the armed gangs that control much of the countryside.

If it is justified, the next question is whether or not tax policy can/should be used as an instrument of social policy and not just revenue generation?

This is a simple yes or no question, so you shouldn't have much trouble answering...

If no then we have little further to discuss. Your position is not reflective of reality in the big universe we all share, but you are welcome to it. Any kind of tax affects society and its members, so it is impossible to have a "neutral" tax that doesn't advantage some at the expense of others. Where the govt gets it income, taxing sales vs income vs wealth (the property tax is the most visible wealth tax) has huge social implications. If you don't agree, then we have nothing to talk about.

"the failure to take something represents a subsidy "

Again, framing govt taxation as "govt taking what's yours" versus "you paying for the services that the govt provides to society (and you as a part of that society)" marks you as a resident of rightwingnutistan. There is no logical consistency in your position that

Is govt "taking what's yours" (evil, right?) in the form of taxes or are govt taxes payment for social and infrastructure services provided to citizens of the country (not evil)? Again, it can't be both...Or are some taxes OK and others not?

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: If I go into a store to buy a six-pack of beer, and the cashier says "That'll be $6 for the beer, and another $100 for various other things I want to give to other people, and you aren't leaving until you pay," I've both paid for a service provided and I've been mugged.

If you think that being overcharged or wrongfully charged for a service is the same as mugging, you have never been mugged and don't understand the meaning of the term. You don't have to buy the beer, or you can go to another store and buy your beer. Muggers generally don't provide their victims with choices.

I assume the $100 represents taxes that you believe you shouldn't have to pay, because it goes to "other people". But you drove to get your beer on highways that earlier generations paid for. You are using currency that was printed using tax money.
Need I go on? IF YOU LIVE IN THE US, YOU DIRECTLY AND INDIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM GOVT SERVICES.

Now we can debate the merits of different ways to spend the money that govt takes in, but there is no point of continuing if you believe that govt has no right to tax to support govt services, however you define them.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

@sc3: However, your continued reference to things like "rightwingnutistan" suggest to me that you may not be willing to have or capable of having such a serious discussion.

---

My my! So sensitive! At least I didn't identify you as hailing from farrightwingnutistan...;-). How about rightwingistan which borders rightwingnutistan...I include the "nut" part because what you say you believe is kind of nutty. "Govt is mugging me for my money and by implication giving me nothing in return (muggers don't provide police, fire depts, etc.) is at odds with reality, i.e. nutty.

Given what I read on the tubes, being from rightwingnutistan is mild poke at your tendency to misconstrue the big universe we all share through the right wing prism. I am ready to be proved wrong, but so far "govt taking what's mine" as a description of taxation is at odds with reality. Govt taxes to pay for services, infrastructure, the largest and most expensive military the world has ever known by orders of magnitude. etc. You vote to elect people that make tax policy. In essence, by being a citizen here, you support govt actions with your tax dollars. You can agree or disagree with how that tax money is spent, but the money is not "taken" from you with you getting nothing in return. That is reality.

Posted by: srw3 | August 21, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"Charlie Cook predicts the GOP will retake the House"

From that WSJ link: "The analysis is significant, not only because Mr. Cook has a strong track record—he correctly called the last wave that brought Democrats into power in the House, in 2006..."

Some would dispute Cook's "predictive powers"; his record is not as consistent as the media likes to pretend it is. In 2006, Cook said:

"Structural barriers are protecting the GOP's majorities like seawalls, and would likely withstand the surge from a Category 1, 2, or 3 storm.

Despite national political trends indicating that the GOP is in serious trouble, a race-by-race "micro" analysis suggests that Democrats cannot easily seize control of the House or the Senate this fall."

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/3/10/843019/-Charlie-Cook:-Not-the-Genius-You-Think-He-Is

That Daily Kos diary goes on to state, after noting that the Democrats won 16 seats more than the 15 Cook said that they could not win, "In other words Charlie, the Democrats did significantly better in November 2006 than the best case scenario you laid out for them in March 2006."

So much for that "strong track record," WSJ.

The Daily Kos dairy further deconstructs Cook's poor (and often Republican-friendly) track record. You should read it when you have a chance, and be sure to take Cook's analyses with a grain of salt, knowing that -- not infrequently -- they miss the mark.

Posted by: associate20 | August 21, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Would you be happier if I called it a "discount" on taxes and not a subsidy?"

I would be somewhat happier if you acknowledged that there is a difference between giving someone money and not taking money from them.

I would be even happier if you applied this distinction logically and acknowledged that the claim that "the basic research that went into developing the pill was pretty much exclusively funded by the federal govt" was utterly absurd.

BTW, even if we did accept the foolish notion that tax exempt status was the equivalent to being "subsidized", it would still be absurd to make the claim you made. Your claim, if reasonable, could then be made about virtually anything Harvard did. Which in turn would mean that it would be reasonable to say that "Harvard University is pretty much exclusively funded by the federal government." The idiocy of such a claim ought to be apparent.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 22, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

srw3:

"Of course there is also no no pesky govt there to protect you from the armed gangs that control much of the countryside."

This suggests that you do understand at some level what the proper role of government is, even if you want it to do many other things.

"Muggers generally don't provide their victims with choices."

Neither does the government.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 22, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

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