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Letters to the Editor

Jobs logjam

December 19, 2011

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To the editor:

I suggest the food fight between Democrats and Republicans over job creation is in fact a strawman struggle being waged to avoid coming to grips with the main issue creating the logjam.

Both sides want to get credit for creating jobs. But the Republicans block all proposals from Democrat Obama or the Democratic-majority Senate, not because they wouldn’t create jobs — they would — but because those jobs programs would be paid for at least in part by raising taxes on the top 2 percent of the population. Of course, the Democrats reciprocate, blocking all jobs proposals from the Republican-majority House, not because they wouldn’t create jobs — they would or at least might — but because they refuse to raise taxes on the aforesaid 2 percent. Thus the real issue is not jobs per se, but rather whether to increase taxes on the super-rich, or not. All the rest is camouflage.

Instead of avoiding the problem, why not face it squarely by introducing a tax reform bill whose only function would be to raise taxes on the 2 percent, without raising tax rates on anyone? The extra revenue would come from closing some of the zillion exclusions, exemptions, deferments, write-downs and other examples of the tax lawyer’s art now comprising the bulk of the entire IRS code. If the Democrats win on the 2 percent issue, it would open the way to create jobs while continuing to support funding for other important functions. And if the Republicans win, it would open the way to create jobs by cutting other spending. True, this would cancel out some of the economic benefit of the new jobs created, but it would also have the upside of strengthening the sorry fiscal position of the country. Either way, the logjam would be broken and jobs created.

Comments

cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Raising income taxes on the wealthiest of Americans would do nothing to create jobs and would have no appreciable impact on deficit spending or our ever-growing national debt.

It would, however, please those whose envy and hatred of financially successful Americans cannot be satiated in any other way.

What must be done instead is to make significant cuts in federal spending and at the same time close as many tax loopholes as possible, as was begun and accomplished successfully in a bipartisan manner by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

In the meantime, if you haven't ever seen the U.S. National Debt Clock online, you should:

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

This from the math genius who said "The notion that the Bush administration is responsible for the state of our economy when Obama took over is the biggest lie promulgated by the Hard Left in my lifetime."

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 9 months ago

++++!

CTE is 100% right on here!

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voevoda 2 years, 9 months ago

Your hero, the real Cato the Elder, took the opposite stance from yours, cato_the_elder. As a Roman official, he confiscated the wealth of Romans who engaged in conspicuous consumption instead of putting their money towards the betterment of Rome. It wasn't even that Cato wanted the money to put towards pressing public needs--although he willingly spent public funds for causes he deemed worthwhile. Rather, for Cato it was a matter of principle: no Roman should live a self-indulgent, luxurious life.
So I guess the real Cato the Elder would number among those you deride for "envy and hatred of [the] financially successful."

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Voevoda, as I've explained to you on multiple occasions, Cato didn't envy or hate the wealthy. He only disliked the overtly conspicuous, outwardly garish display of the trappings of wealth by some of them. There are plenty of wealthy Americans whose outward appearance is quite conservative, but many more who live very ostentatiously on nothing but ever-increasing credit card debt.

While Cato didn't envy or dislike the wealthy simply for their wealth, it's obvious that you do, which is not consistent with the principles of Christianity that you profess to espouse.

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gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

cato: 1) the LTE writer isn't claiming that raising tax rates for top brackets would create jobs directly. Rather he is astutely pointing out that the contention of raising the rates for top brackets is what has been routinely scuttling jobs bills of late.

2) Lumping all of those in favor of (slightly) higher rates for top brackets as merely being envious and hateful of successful Americans makes you look like a jeuvenile idiot. First, it shows that you're not at all interested in actually listening to your political opposition. Second, you're completely ignoring progressive voices who are IN the top bracket arguing for higher rates. Are you saying they are so envious of themselves, that they are waging class war on... themselves?

Your technique is to sensationalize and exaggerate the points made by your opposition to the point of luncacy, try to convince others that the lunacy is legitimate, and then deride your opposition for being lunatics -- even though all supposed lunacy is rooted in your fabrications.

In other words, when it comes to the ideas of your opposition, you simply have it wrong. Way wrong. I don't know if you know just how off base you are. And given that the history of your comments shows you exercising this same technique repeatedly, it appears that you're not very interested in making your opinions more robust through a deeper understanding.

Until you exhibit even a shred of understanding regarding the actual (not fabricated) views coming from your oppostion, the rants you keep spouting, against your very own delusions about what your opposition desires, will remain completely inconsequential, and firmly in the realm of the misinformed.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

The only lunacy I detect is the lunacy of those who favor the increased forced redistribution of wealth by government. The only thing "progressive" about their lunacy is that it appears to be getting progressively worse.

By the way, not to put too fine a point on it, but you would really benefit from adding Spell Check to your computer. It might enhance your credibility, even if only slightly.

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pace 2 years, 9 months ago

Cato "Raising income taxes on the wealthiest of Americans would do nothing to create jobs and would have no appreciable impact on deficit spending or our ever-growing national debt."

Well, it would have an impact on the debt and since they have received so many tax cuts and loop holes which have just produced fat juicy portfolios. I don't hate rich people. Some of my best friends are rich. I don't worship them either. I say just tax them fairly. I never thought I should carry their water because my brothers and sisters are rich. It isn't a disability.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

"I say just tax them fairly."

Surely you must know the enormous overall percentage of total income taxes paid to the IRS by the top 10% of the income earners in America every year. If that's not a "fair share," then you're never going to be satisfied until they're taxed out of existence.

As stated by esteemed British actor Sir Michael Caine, in 2009:

"The Government has taken tax up to 50 per cent, and if it goes to 51, I will be back in America. I will not pay the Government more than I get. No way, ever. They've reached their limit with me, and that's what will happen to a lot of people. You know how much they made out of that high taxation all those years ago? Nothing. But they sent a mass of incredible brains to America. This return to high tax will only deepen our debt. While top-earners will be hit by the highest tax in 20 years, our MPs escape Scot-free. We've got three-and-a-half million layabouts laying about on benefits, and I'm 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let's get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it on."

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pace 2 years, 9 months ago

So you believe less than an ave. 17% tax, paid by the wealthiest 1% is fair? Grow up. The corporations and wealthiest aren't paying a fair share, they aren't producing jobs they are just getting fatter off working families, fatter by corrupt economic policy. Working families are losing homes, jobs, and watching their communities infrastructure crumble.
Today the teas in congress are fighting tooth and nail to prevent raising taxes, to prevent reducing loop holes on the wealthiest. Even if it means they do it on the backs of working families. Who you think don't matter in the big picture. I do. It is a matter of opinion and what is important to each person. I don't worship the money lenders and wealthiest as better than working families. I accept and support giving the handicapped, elderly and children reduced fare on buses. But I don't consider the wealthiest as handicapped to be forgiven their fair share, nor do I think, I should not pay a fair share.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Contrary to what I had assumed, you apparently must not know what total portion of income taxes paid in America is paid by the top 10% of income earners, or the fact that 47% of Americans don't pay any income tax at all. Is paying 0% in income tax a "fair share?" How about that? Is paying 0% in income tax a "grown up" attitude?

I'll say it again: You are afflicted with envy and greed, and won't be satisfied until every American who has been financially successful has been sacrificed on the altar of forced government confiscation of wealth. Your envy and greed are shameful.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

That's "federal" income tax.

And, the folks who did that research have said publicly that many on the right are misinterpreting and misusing it.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

"That research" has been done by many. Only leftists complain that it's "misused," because they don't like dealing with facts.

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rtwngr 2 years, 9 months ago

The only jobs that government creates are government jobs. This increases the size and scope of government which in turn requires a greater tax base or higher taxes. What the democrats and republicans need to do is get out of the way of private enterprise, suspend some of the regulations, suspend capital gains taxes and then watch things take off. It's not hard but nobody, on either side of the aisle, wants to relinquish any control.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, right. Everyone would be responsible for fixing the roads in front of their house. How many people wouldn't do that, even if they weren't paying anymore taxes? Would you really let someone's house burn down, if they hadn't paid their monthly charge to a private company that would have to make a profit? And if you had an older home with older wiring, they wouldn't accept you as a customer anyway, because they need to make a profit. And would they risk their lives rescuing your child, because then they would have to pay out life insurance to the fireperson's family. And if you charged by job, how much would arson rates rise, so there would be a profit at the end of the year? Oh yeah, privatize everything, so you can keep all your taxes, right.

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imastinker 2 years, 9 months ago

Why does it have to be all one extremity or another with you?

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/tennessee-family-home-burns-while-firefighters-watch-191241763.html

There's an example of government not doing what you say a private company would do.

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jaywalker 2 years, 9 months ago

"why not face it squarely by introducing a tax reform bill whose only function would be to raise taxes on the 2 percent, without raising tax rates on anyone? "

How do you raise taxes on the 2 percent while simultaneously not raising taxes at all?

The problem isn't Republicans or Democrats per se, but rather the .05% that run the elections and essentially our government through special interests and their lobbyists. Read "Republic, Lost" by Lessig.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

I believe the letter said by reducing exemptions, deductions, loopholes, etc.

So the tax rates would remain the same, but the amounts collected would increase.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

The large tax breaks that the wealthy have received over the last 30 years has not resulted in an increase in employment-- to the contrary, it's led to an exodus of jobs to countries with slave wages, no benefits and horrendous working conditions.

So history would indicate that increasing taxes on the wealthy would not only NOT decrease employment rates, but very likely could increase them.

But those motivated by the ideology of worshipping extreme concentrations of wealth (and those who possess it) don't worry much about facts or history.

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

But Republican government has clearly shown that it cannot keep its fiscal house in order.

You speak as if we don't have real world examples of how differently the two parties behave when making budgetary decisions. In fact we do. Democrats -- only a decade ago -- balanced the budget and began the process of paying off all national debt by last year. A decade and a half ago Democrats raised taxes .... and then cut spending (or more accurately restrained spending increases), so you get that wrong too.

The propaganda-fueled fantasy that Dems are crazy-spending fools who'd bankrupt us if allowed while Repubs are tight-fisted small gov't types who'd run a tight ship if only allowed are completely the opposite of what happens in the real world. Today's record deficits are the direct consequence of (a) the Republican-created recession and financial panic and (b) Republican tax and spending decisions inherited from Bush. To the extent that Repubs obstruct change, they obstruct balancing the budget. Fox won't tell you that secret; I just did.

Democrats have actually delivered what you say you want but it's more fun to live in a pretend universe where they didn't.

Pundit: Why won't Obama come out in favor of a balanced plan of increased revenue and spending cuts?

Obama: I favor a balanced plan of increased revenue and spending cuts.

Pundit: Why won't Obama come out in favor of a balanced plan of increased revenue and spending cuts?

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

"you didn't rebut my point at all but proved me right: the government cannot be trusted to balance the budget."

By documenting a recent case where government balanced the budget.

Right.

Demonstrating how government did in fact balance the budget fails to rebut the proposition that government cannot be trusted to balance the budget.

Of course that rebuts your point. Duh. What I suspect you're saying is that you don't trust democracy and wish to abolish it, instituting in its place some iron-clad rule that tells the majority "sorry, but you're not allowed to make your own decisions about public policy." So, it's not Mr. Libertarian but rather Mr. Tyrant. Hmmmm.....

"So why raise taxes if all that's going to happen is that the extra revenue will lead to extra spending?"

So now you're uninterested in balancing the budget and have shifted focus to the size of gov't. The implied proposition is: more taxes lead to more spending and less taxes lead to less spending. Really? How long has your head been in the sand? Can you point to a single example demonstrating this? That limited tax revenue forces spending restraint (as opposed to borrowing liberalism)? (Answer: no, no you can't, because that's false and has been demonstrated to be false again and again.)

"Like I said, I would be willing to compromise on taxes if I got a balanced budget."

Oh, so, now you've abandoned the bigger gov't theme and are back to balancing the budget. (You're making us dizzy.)

You do realize that "compromise on taxes" includes the concept of returning to historical -- a/k/a, higher -- tax revenues? You do realize that the correlation between higher tax rates and greater revenue shares of GDP are highly correlated with balanced budgets? That laissez faire tax policy practically invented the concept of budget deficits?

Why is it that you seem to believe that balanced budgets are the same thing as smaller gov't or that increased spending has any real world link to more tax revenues. If we've learned anything it's that regardless of whether there are tax revenues, government spends money. In other words, cutting taxes just means borrowing more money.

In fact, the reality is that Republicans aren't at all interested in balancing budgets. (A) When was the last time a Republican regime balanced the national budget? The Nixon era? Eisenhower? (B) Even the current 'Paul Ryan' GOP House budget --- despite the fact that it slashes spending --- fails to balance the budget. Why? Because the 'savings' are 'spent' on more tax cuts for the wealthy!! ..... "Deficits as far as the eye can see"

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voevoda 2 years, 9 months ago

A balanced-budget amendment would prevent the government from deficits, even when necessary because of dire situations, such as wars or natural disasters. It would be the same thing as prohibiting individuals and businesses from taking out a mortgage or a line of credit or a charging purchases on a credit card. Yes, some people misuse credit; yes, the US government has sometimes misused deficit spending. But we benefit from having these options.

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

Indeed. Mandatory balanced budgets result in two opposite, but linked evils:

  1. They accelerate economic booms by pouring on the most stimulus precisely when economic expansion reaches its natural limits. (See California at the height of the housing bubble -- spending like there was no tomorrow.)

  2. They accelerate economic contractions by withdrawing stimulus precisely when economic contraction reaches its maximum decline. (See California at the depth of the recession -- cutting spending like there literally would be no tomorrow, creating more economic contraction, which in turn makes necessary more budget cutting, which in turn .......)

Now, of course, if Lib was talking about a balanced budget amendment that made sense, there'd be near universal agreement for it. A. Mandatory surpluses for periods of rapid economic growth; B. Mandatory deficits for periods of significant economic contraction; C. Mandatory budget balances for 'normal' periods of economic growth (sustained quarters of GDP growth > 2% but < 4%).

Indeed, a gold bug like Lib should love this type of BBA if for no other reason than it places the proper burden on fiscal policy and takes the burden off of monetary policy to try to salvage the economy from a dysfunction and irresponsible Congress. The Fed is quite explicit that their need for quantitative easing is a direct consequence of Congress' refusal to remedy inadequate economic demand in the economy. In fact, with the rational BBA I outline (which is really just common sense), you conceivably could adopt far more stringent standards for a stable currency. (Not gold, of course: that's stupid and a historical failure.) You actually could entertain Milton Friedman's idea of setting monetary policy by computer (by formula)!

But of course, Lib won't go for that because it contradicts other (contradictory) elements of his ideology, particularly weak, small government.

And that's why we can't have nice things.

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imastinker 2 years, 9 months ago

That's a pretty big statement to support. There's pretty clear evidence that Keynesian principles work in expansive economic conditions.

IMHO, it's the stuff we've been doing that doesn't work.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Drunk on the Kool-Aid again, I see.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 9 months ago

If you want job creation, then create one. It's the entrepreneurial spirit that built this country. Yet it's been suppressed by people who think someone else is supposed to create a job for them.
Those that can, do. Those that can't, expect corporate America to provide for them a job, with benefits, for life. How's that working out for you. Follow your passion. If it's baking a cake, open a bakery. Open a restaurant, a bar. Open a clothing store or a car repair shop. Love working with plants, flowers, then do it. Open a gardening service. Make leather products. Whatever. Set your own hours and set your own prices. The market will tell you if you are wise or not. Want more money, then work more. Invent a better mousetrap and become wealthier that Mr. Gates himself. Or whine about some CEO who makes more money than you think he's worth. Or Kim Kardashian. Or Justin Bieber.

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

Yes, because every person can be an entrepreneur. There's no need for employees. We can all just become Galtian self-contractors! ROFL

Thanks. Your strawman (people just want handouts) is hilarious. So funny how a dozen million hardworking Americans just suddenly decided in 2008 they'd rather have a handout than a job. Just reading on today's WSJ (that yellow-rag of socialism) front-page about the 60 year old genome researcher (PhD in bio-med chem) who hasn't worked since 2007 and has exhausted her unemployment and personal savings. If I had her number I'd be sure to pass on your words of wisdom. (Stupid egghead, why isn't she smart enough to be an entrepreneur!?!)

"Or whine about some CEO who makes more money than you think he's worth."

  1. Or more than a free market thinks he's worth. Sorry, but I want the value of my bailout back right damned now ... with interest!
  2. Or more than history thinks he's worth. Because unprecedented levels of wealth concentration are just natural. There are just so many precedents for stable societies with absurd levels of national wealth being stolen by the few.
  3. Or more than democracy can survive. Because the Founding Fathers believed in one dollar = one vote, and that money (a/k/a, speech) should be allowed to drown out the voices of the masses and corrupt the rule of law.

Money corrupts. And the massive concentration of wealth in a society corrupts that society absolutely.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 9 months ago

So whine. I could give a rat's... I have to go to the job I created for myself.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Haight has continued a common trend on here; he mixes two different thoughts with resulting confusion and distorted conclusions.

The Republicans do in fact have job generating proposals. Their solution is a more traditional one of simplistically allowing the market to perform as it has throughout our history. They see only a limited role for government in their approach.

Mr. Height does a reasonable job in presenting a simplistic notion of the Democratic approach which envisions using government to create jobs. Government takes from some of us to incentivize jobs for others of us. The government decides who wins and who loses.

The implication is that a tax on the wealthiest among us would enable the Democratic approach. I would love to see his numbers but mine suggest we would raise only 25% of what is needed taxing the top 2% as the president has suggested toward funding the current argument about payroll tax cuts and unemployment extensions.

That tax has been suggested on here for a myriad of funding needs put forward by the Democratic Party ranging from environmental investment to infrastructure - all historic initiatives by that party.

The facts are that to do all of the things desired by various Democratic Party constituencies a rather healthy tax increase would be necessary on the people making between $50K and $150K – perhaps as high as doubling current tax takes.

While I support taxing the rich as a matter of consistency with our current progressive tax structure, there are many like me who consider the Democratic Party effort to tax the rich a deception to cover a large tax increase on the portion of us who actually pay federal income taxes (the 53%)

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

"The Republicans do in fact have job generating proposals. Their solution is a more traditional one of simplistically allowing the market to perform as it has throughout our history. They see only a limited role for government in their approach."

Thanks for playing, None-Too-Moderate George.

A. Dusting off the same snakeoil proposals prescribed for every economic condition that can exist and labelling it "Jobs Proposal" does not make it a jobs proposal. Is there a reputable economist who claims that the GOP "Jobs Proposal" would actually create jobs over the next 12 months? (Answer: no.)

B. There is not a single proposal on the table from either Repubs or Dems that dos not 'allow the market to perform'. But there's only one proposal that adopts a subset of market economics (laissez faire, liberal capitalism) and pretends that it is the entirety of market economic choices. Outside of North Korea, there's not a nation on earth without a market-based economic system. (And more than just 1 or 2 that perform better than the U.S.'s system.)

C. Since when are massive tax subsidies for the wealthy and corporations "a limited role for government"? Since when is creating a scheme for business of legalized pollution and fraud "a limited role for government"? Sorry, these are very active governmental roles. The governmental provision of all the benefits of a strong governmental system (law and order, regulatory certainty, criminal protection, patents, national security, etc.) combined with a refusal to collect back concomitant tax resources from those who most benefit from government is not "a limited role for government."

D. Markets do not always perform well. That's "our history." Hence the need to correct markets that are not self-regulating and fail to provide social goods or to provide for all citizens benefits from their own system. It is shocking that when we're still in the target range of a series of overwhelming market failures that anyone would advocate more Wild West economic lawlessness and irresponsibility and call it "allowing the market to perform."

Sorry, G but the cure for arsenic poisoning is not even purer doses of arsenic.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

JIMO WRIITES: Thanks for playing, None-Too-Moderate George

Moderate Responds: Is that not their position? I did not indicate it was mine.

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Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

When do you plan to move to Somalia? As far as I know that's one of the few places on earth that follows your ideals. Why stay in America put up with your fellow-citizens (a/k/a, government) telling you what to do when Somalia has no government at all?!?

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

How about I exercise my "God Given" right to change my government so that a small majority of complainers do not drive policy. Most Americans are in the middle. Thye want some government help but they do not want the government to start to define that help independent of the majority of it's citizens>

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

Jimo writes: Since when are massive tax subsidies for the wealthy and corporations "a limited role for government"? Since when is creating a scheme for business of legalized pollution and fraud "a limited role for government"? Sorry, these are very active governmental roles. The governmental provision of all the benefits of a strong governmental system (law and order, regulatory certainty, criminal protection, patents, national security, etc.) combined with a refusal to collect back concomitant tax resources from those who most benefit from government is not "a limited role for government."

Moderate Responds: They are active government roles only if you presume all the corporations money belongs to the government. Then if the government does not take all of it that it is actively giving benefits to the corporation. Both parties (even here in Lawrence) use tax incentives to get business and you and I to do what the government wants. By your definition we are all subsidized and it is our fault the government is doing so? That is at best disingenuous!

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

JIMO Writes: Markets do not always perform well. That's "our history." Hence the need to correct markets that are not self-regulating and fail to provide social goods or to provide for all citizens benefits from their own system. It is shocking that when we're still in the target range of a series of overwhelming market failures that anyone would advocate more Wild West economic lawlessness and irresponsibility and call it "allowing the market to perform."

Well by my definition the recent major market failures were the result of

Government requirements without proper regulatory oversight Government overreach into areas where it lacks expertise Government enforcement of costly and market disrupting policy not well conceived and not shared by the majority Government definitions of the social contract not agreed to by the majority. Our laws are not consistent with a notion that business owes everybody the job they want at the pay they demand.

Of course there is a role for government in the market to insure it functions smoothly and legally. That said the propensity to use market incentives to implement social policy is highly disruptive.

I might also point out that the individual has responsibilities to prepare him/her self for the market. Getting a degree in a subject where there is little market demand is not a failure of the market. It is personal stupidity!!

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

And JIMO how do we pay for it?? For the government to subsidize anything it must either tax somebody to get the money for the subsidy or give somebody a tax break to cover the costs.

I put forward a number. Do you have one? Do you even have a listing of all the Democratic Party desires? Do you have an associated cost?

You are full of philosophy and lacking in any detail!

Communism is wonderful if it worked. It has been tried and failed miserably. Socialism has been tried and has mixed results as does capitalism. No system has consistently allowed for all the citizens to see improvements all the time (and even communism had some doing better (in some cases much better) than others).

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

I have suffered that sobriquet for years

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pace 2 years, 9 months ago

I have hired a few people for temporary part time jobs this year. Looks like the house wants to raise my taxes. Koch bros paid very little in personal income tax and they laid off thousands. Oh, my, who is the job creator?

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George Lippencott 2 years, 9 months ago

Money Talks - regardless of party.

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