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Opinion

Opinion

The social contract’s conservative side

October 6, 2011

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Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and former Obama administration regulator (for consumer protection), is modern liberalism incarnate. As she seeks the Senate seat Democrats held for 57 years before 2010, when Scott Brown impertinently won it, she clarifies the liberal project, and the stakes of contemporary politics.

The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty. The regulatory state, liberalism’s instrument, constantly tries to contract that zone — for the individual’s own good, it says. Warren says:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. ... You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Warren is (as William F. Buckley described Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith) a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.    

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, aka the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds.

In “The Affluent Society” (1958), modern liberalism’s symptomatic text, Galbraith, a Harvard economist, baldly asserted that corporations’ marketing powers — basically, advertising — are so potent they can manufacture demands for whatever goods and services they want to supply. Corporations can nullify consumer sovereignty and vitiate the law of supply and demand. Galbraith asserted this while Ford’s marketers were failing to create a demand for Edsels.  

Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by persons drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.

Because such tutelary government must presume the public’s incompetence, it owes minimal deference to people’s preferences. These preferences are not really “theirs,” because the preferences derive from false, meaning imposed, consciousness. This convenient theory licenses the enlightened vanguard, the political class, to exercise maximum discretion in wielding the powers of the regulatory state.

Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable — that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others — misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity.

Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. — and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous society’s “underlying social contract.”

Correction: In a recent column, I suggested that Rep. Barney Frank’s legislation to reform the Federal Open Market Committee was introduced in August, when in fact it was introduced in April.

George Will is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. His email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

Comments

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

Elizabeth Warren did a great service for those who have never quite understood the liberal mindset, by articulating precisely how political liberals view the relationship between individuals and government. In her world, individuals can accomplish nothing without government assistance, which thus justifies ever-increasing government control over all of our lives. Conservatives believe in the worth of the individual, who will accomplish most if left free to do so without undue government interference. Her statement is one of the most revealing admissions ever made as to how political liberals think, and conclusively demonstrates exactly why liberal Democrats should never be placed in charge of running this country.

Fossick 3 years, 2 months ago

I did rather enjoy this take on Warren's quote from "Best of the Web Today":

"What amazes me is how so many people linking this quote celebrate the sheer ignorance of it. People who build factories pay a variety of fees that also pay for roads, schools and many other things. Just a few fees in my locale are Building Plan Check and Permit Fee, Transportation Impact Fee, Parks Development Fee, School Impact Fee, Service Impact Fee (for police and fire), Treatment Plant Connection Capacity Charge, Trunk Line Capacity Charge, and any number of special fees depending on the nature of the building. These aren't fees for a factory necessarily, these are fees to build anything. Then for the life of the building there will be ongoing assessments (taxes) by the city and county that will be used to pay for city and county services and roads. The fee schedule for my city alone is 28 pages long.

"...almost everyone pays for roads, police and fire, but a developer has paid far more for such things than the average citizen. How much worse off would a community be that didn't have someone to build buildings and pay employees that then pay taxes? It isn't very hard to find communities that are dead or dying because they couldn't find businesses to locate there. The liberal myth that businesses don't pay their fair share is what drives those businesses to other states or countries. " http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903791504576586810043875354.html

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

"almost everyone pays for roads, police and fire, but a developer has paid far more for such things than the average citizen."

And here's where the worship of the individual creeps into this so-called critique. Where did the developer get the money to pay for all of those things? Why from the hard work of the average citizen that made the wealth of the developer possible.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

So, entrepreneurs never need employees? They never need the network of roads, water lines, electrical grids, etc., etc., etc.?

My, they really are supermen, jumping tall buildings (that they built all by themselves) in a single bound!!!

Somebody should make a movie about them.

Fossick 3 years, 2 months ago

"So, why stay here and help pay for a smooth, fast interstate, when they can set up shop in a country where dirt roads and "cow paths" are the apex of ground-based transportation?"

Because that, too, has a cost. You can move a whole lot more product more quickly over interstates than over cow paths. Costs always have to be balanced against benefits. Companies move and people shop elsewhere when they perceive they are not receiving sufficient benefit to justify their cost.

But I think you have ignored the stronger half of his argument in that sentence. Businesses are pouring out of places like California and Illinois and into places like Wisconsin and Tennessee. It's not because of interstates or cow paths. It's not even because of a 'myth' that everyone else paid already. But the implementation of the myth does have costs.

Given that I'm going to set up in a state where I have to pay for roads and bridges, tax and land and electricity just like everyone else, would it make more sense for my business to pick one where the Elizabeth Warrens of the world will accuse me of shirking what I in reality did and then continually demand that I pay more forward?

Getaroom 3 years, 2 months ago

Cato: what you are saying above, without saying it, is that only Republicans should be placed in leadership roles in government and that since they were for so long in those positions and that we are headed toward a second Great Depression and stuck in unfunded wars, all this is the fault of Liberals? You make about as much sense as believing that the super wealthy 1-2% are all of a sudden going pay their fair share of taxes, stop robbing us all from the safety of their precious Wall Street and that they will create jobs from the bottoms of their compassionate conservative hearts and all will be well. This GOP empire is so top heavy that the pressures created by the imbalance is going to implode and history will repeat itself once again. Are you super wealthy Cato? You must be, because there could be no other reason to support current GOP leadership. Might I suggest you would be more comfortable in Rick Perry's Texas.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

Actually, getaroom, our current economic situation is in fact the fault of liberal Democrats, who since 1979 pushed legislation and ensured actions on the part of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (in many cases, directly in return for campaign money and loans from them) that caused a myriad of mortgage loans to be made to people who could never reasonably be expected to repay them. That's it in a nutshell, my friend.

By the way, much more money on Wall Street goes to liberal Democrats, and in recent years especially to Obama and his cronies, than to conservative Republicans. The fact that you believe the myth that Wall Street is controlled by Republicans starkly demonstrates your naivete on that subject.

Fossick 3 years, 2 months ago

"Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity. "

Except for el presidente pasado's "Compassionate Conservatism," which was merely Christian Progressivism trying to elbow secular Progressivism out of the way.

So long as Conservatives act as if government ought to be society's molding force, will is talking about Conservatives who are not the least bit conservative.

Sally Piller 3 years, 2 months ago

Warren and Galbraith make a lot more sense than Will does. Blah blah blah blah.....it just comes down to conservatives don't want to pay taxes. Boo hoo. The Tea Party, who is controlling the Republican Party is taking that notion to extremes. "Government humility in the face of society's creative complexity" isn't keeping corporations from sending jobs overseas, and the top 2% super rich calling the shots on legislation and running the economy into the dirt. Pull your head out of the sand, George!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

Talk about straw men. What Warren is asking for is a balance that reflects reality-- humans function both as individuals and as part of the social whole. Will posits the straw man that Warren denies individual accomplishment, and clearly, she doesn't. But Will certainly wants throw up that straw man argument in order to exaggerate the importance of individual accomplishment so that he can deny the existence of anything like a social contract.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

All economies is distribute wealth-- and then redistribute it. Some do it fairly. Others don't. You prefer the latter, and believing that the wealthy that you worship as "super humans" should be able to accumulate as much wealth as possible, no matter how that affects the much greater number of people who were also involved in creating that wealth.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

Did you read Elizabeth Warren's actual words, Liberty_One? She said to rich entrepreneurs "Keep a big hunk of it." That doesn't sound like "wealth redistribution"--just a moral economy. You should be in favor of a moral economy, Liberty_One, because that's the only way a libertarian society could avoid devolving into wholesale banditry.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't hate the rich...I just believe there should be limits on the accumulation of wealth.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for telling me what I'm saying. I was confused....I thought I wanted limits on wealth...Even though I did not state any specific limit. Who couldn't be happy and create jobs with $100 million? And they can't take it with them when their dead. Thanks again for telling me what I was saying.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 2 months ago

They're

(got it fixed #3, no need to chastise)

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 2 months ago

"By limiting wealth you are making everyone poorer." Riiiiiiight...Because there's enough around for EvErYoNe to be Koch-rich, am I right? We'll ALL be billionaires. Uh-huh. The planet is finite, but with infinite resources....The only reason this hasn't happened yet, folks, is because the government has interfered with the natural process of everyone becoming rich! Or is it because those currently rich have been hording trillions of dollars thereby keeping everyone of us from becoming millionaires?

I'll have what he's smoking.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

cato_the_elder, You should consider what the real Cato the Elder did: As a Roman government official, he confiscated property from wealthy persons who used it for needless luxury and conspicuous consumption. He battled against wealthy Romans who took unfair advantage of their standing to use public property for their own gain. Elizabeth Warren's position is so much more generous than your own Cato the Elder's, cato_the_elder. She wants to let wealthy people continue to be wealthy, as long as they give back to the society that allowed them to prosper. She doesn't specify that they should give back via taxes, by the way. Any wealthy person can reduce his taxes significantly by giving generously to charities instead.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

"She wants to let wealthy people continue to be wealthy, as long as they give back to the society that allowed them to prosper."

So not one wealthy person has prospered one iota as the result of his or her own personal initiative and creativity? Your warped view of society is that it has "allowed" them to prosper, and in so doing gainfully employ many of their fellow citizens?

You're a forced wealth redistributionist who is obsessively jealous of those who have achieved financial success.

Why don't you go out and create some wealth on your own, instead of simply whining for more government handouts?

You would have made a great block commissar in Soviet Russia.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

cato_the_elder, Look again what Elizabeth Warren actually said: "You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea--God bless! Keep a big hunk of it." That, cato_the_elder, is Elizabeth Warren acknowledging that wealthy people do prosper (considerably more than one iota) as a result of his or her own personal initiative and creativity. That, cato_the_elder, is Elizabeth Warrren acknowledging that those who produce wealth are entitled to keep a "big hunk" of it. I agree with Elizabeth Warren. It is the real Cato the Elder that you disagree with, cato_the_elder. Maybe Cato would have made a great block commissar in Soviet Russia. Maybe you, too; commissars made it their mission trying to indoctrinate others to conform to their own ideological viewpoint and to condemn opponents rabidly, without regard for the truth.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

"You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea--God bless! Keep a big hunk of it."

Yep, "keep a big hunk of it" - but the government gets handed over the rest. How much? 25%? 50%? 75%? The point is that people who think like Warren believe that government at every level is entitled to all of it, but magnanimously agree to allow the entrepreneur to "keep a big hunk of it." That's exactly what's wrong with those who think like she does, and again demonstrates conclusively why liberal Democrats, whose economic views are totally antithetical to economic freedom, should never be allowed to be in charge of what is supposed to be a free country.

gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

"The point is that people who think like Warren believe that government at every level is entitled to all of it, but magnanimously agree to allow the entrepreneur to 'keep a big hunk of it.'"

You obviously don't want to understand. You could try harder, or you could go on believing this bull poo with your fingers in your ears and your head in the sand. Based on how you seem to get off on arguing your own naivety against countless people who try to rationalize with you, I assume you'll continue to engage in the latter. Please continue on your merry, hopeless, way.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

That's not how I operate, but it's obviously how you do.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

P.S., cato_the_elder, Why would you think that I haven't achieved financial success myself? I don't begrudge paying taxes; it's a Biblical commandment. That is why you pay taxes. The authorities are in God's service and it is to this they devote their energies. Discharge your obligations to everyone; pay tax and levy, reverence and respect, to those whom they are due.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

"Why would you think that I haven't achieved financial success myself?"

Because you're a forced wealth redistributionist, that's why.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

Once again, cato_the_elder, you have attributed to me a belief I do not hold, and then condemned me for it. That is typical of your style of argumentation, the chosen method of the NKVD and of the Inquisition. When you can't win an argument on its merits, you cast fallacious aspersions on the other party. It's dishonest, defamatory, and sinful ("You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor").

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

You might also remember the command, "Judge not lest ye be judged." Perhaps you might want to recite that in Koine Greek, which you claim to to be able to read.

As for attributing any views to you, your comments on this forum have made it quite clear that you favor the forced redistribution of wealth by government, as I've stated. I haven't "borne false witness" against anyone. Your comments speak for themselves.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

cato_the_elder, I have never even once advocated "forced redistribution of wealth by government." Once again, you respond in NKVD style, reiterating fallacious aspersions coupled with snide (but totally misplaced) put-downs.
Here are a couple of verses for you. Read them in Hebrew and Koine Greek, if you prefer, and take them to heart: Proverbs 31:8: Speak up for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously. Champion the poor and the needy. Matthew 7:1-2: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. FOR AS YOU JUDGE OTHERS, SO YOU WILL YOURSELVES BE JUDGED, and whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt to you.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

As I suggested, the latter verse is one that you should read and take to heart.

As for your weak denial that you're a forced wealth redistributionist, I wouldn't suggest your making that statement during a polygraph examination.

btsflk 3 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Will’s statement concerning liberal’s “project to dilute the concept of individualism…” seems quite a spin. The actions of the far right seem to often be restrictive of an individual’s right to be, well, an individual. Their attitude seems to be the ultimate Big Brother, looking out for the individual’s own good, trying to keep the masses in lock step, in ignorant poverty, in such a state that breaking out of poverty and achieving anything does certainly seem a chimera(Mr.Will’s choice of words), an unreasonable dream.

Mr. Will uses words and a style of writing that may be difficult for some to fully decipher. The use of language and style is impressive, so some may blinded by his seeming intelligence and accept his remarks without fully understanding them.

His conclusion that Warren advocates “taking as much as it pleases” seems to me pyromaniac in a field of straw men. Her assertion is simply that the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes.

Apparently the wealthy and their defenders are frightened that they may find themselves in the predicament of what was once the middle class, without a steady income, no health insurance, trying not to accept the premise that individualism/success/ a comfortable existence is indeed a chimera. I retract that statement, those people don’t really believe that we exist, or if they do, do not care.

The notion of self-government by the masses is certainly a chimera. While many of us have the ability to police ourselves, if there is not something in place to encourage us to do so, self-interest often takes over. This is demonstrated throughout time, currently by corporate America, the right. As the right has created more laws and loopholes to protect their wealth, their greed has increased to the point of the disappearance of the middle class.

And yes, well known to advertisers, psychologists, and politicians, many Americans comprise a malleable herd vulnerable to corporate America, slick politicians and even political columnists.

If, in fact, “conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity” perhaps conservatives should take a closer look at what comprises government humility.

Fossick 3 years, 2 months ago

"Her assertion is simply that the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes."

On the contrary, her assertion is that they pay nothing.

When she says that "You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for," she is asserting that the rich did not the pay the gas taxes and the income taxes and the sales that were used to create those roads - the rest of us did. When she says that "You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate," she is asserting that the business owners did not pay the property taxes used to fund the schools, but the rest of us did. Us vs. Them. And them ain't payin'. If businesses do pay for roads and bridges and all the stuff she mentions, just like the rest of us, then her argument is rubbish. Well, it's rubbish.

The real problem is that if you ask Warren what the 'fair share' is that others ought to be paying, you will never reach a number, because the issue is not a number. The only answer you will get, no matter how much they are already paying, is "More." I suspect that's true of just about anyone who waves that tattered little phrase about as it it were meaningful.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

How then should tax rates/policy be determined?

I agree that it seems impossible to arrive at a "fair" tax system - all of the approaches are unconvincing to me.

But, if we throw that idea out, then what's left?

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

Only anarchists think that all taxation is unfair.

Fossick 3 years, 2 months ago

"I agree that it seems impossible to arrive at a "fair" tax system ... But, if we throw that idea out, then what's left?"

It's not a question of us throwing it out, we already have by agreeing that it's hopelessly subjective.

We can always try to agree on other, more objective words like 'efficient' or 'unobtrusive.' However, I would personally like to make the descriptions less important by making taxation itself less burdensome. I know, good luck.

Corey Williams 3 years, 2 months ago

Then why is it that most businesses get property tax abatements? Would that mean that they aren't paying for the roads and schools? And why is it that they use threats of departure to get them?

Fossick 3 years, 2 months ago

"Most" businesses get them? I should surely like to see some numbers on that.

But the reason a few get them is because local pols are usually happy to trade off one brand of tax for another (e.g. lower property for higher sales) while businesses are happy to pay taxes that are most easily passed off to the consumer. They use threats of departure to get them because that's the most effective way to get them. Why do people threaten to go on strike for higher wages?

Even so, while one entity might abate taxes on a specific property, there are plenty more who have claims. I think I pay property taxes to seven different bodies on my own commercial property: city, county, state, community college, sewer district for sure. I think there are two more; perhaps not. But I don't have an abatement and have never had one. Frankly, I think local pols are gutless to grant them, but they only do it if they expect they will collect more taxes by granting them than they will collect if they do not..

gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

wrong Fossick, you're arguing semantics, and you're arguing them incorrectly. Using the phrase "the rest of us" is not inherently exclusionary, but rather merely is inclusive of "the rest of us".

You can replace the phrase "the rest of us paid for" with the phrase "all of us paid for" and the meaning of her statement doesn't change. Perhaps that would have been better politics on her part to phrase it that way, or perhaps she could have said "the rest of us also paid for". But, it was an off-the-cuff remark.

Regardless, it's clear from the rest of her statement that she's not implying that big business doesn't pay anything at all, but rather that they are constantly trying to influence policy directed at forcing them to pay as little as possible... and they've been succeeding for quite some time.

And that's the major point she's trying to make. Not so much a war on all big business, but rather a war on the inequities that exist in our tax structure and economic policies that overwhelmingly favor big business.

Of course, critics of Warren will insist on the that she is decidedly anti-entrepreneur, anti-business, and anti-individualist, simply because it makes it easier to build the straw man against her.

(whoops, I used the s-word)

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

No, people saying things like "Corporations are people," and courts supporting such stances scares the pants off of liberals. Liberals love freedom. Freedom to marry whom someone chooses, freedom of (and from) religion, freedom to live in an environment not polluted by factory waste, freedom, freedom, freedom.

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm a "lib" and I'm not scared of fiscal freedom, so apparenlty you aren't spot on. I don't love taxes and I appreciate that taxes are lower now than they have been in decades, but I recognize taxes are needed in our society, especially now that our debt is so high. We need to lower spending AND pay off the debt. That is almost certainly going to require raising some extra taxes.

While it is possible that a single person with his tool box can have an incorporated business, we both know that isn't what is generally understood or meant as a "corporation." Correct?

Glad you approve of social freedoms. Just that suggests we probably have more in common than we might first realize.

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

I'll get to a response -- this isn't instant messaging. Sometimes a response will take a while.

Where did I say I trust politicians? I said we need to pay off the debt we have already accumulated. It isn't just about paying for the greater amount being spent. I also say we need to lower spending. It will take both. I am not a libertarian, so I don't believe schools and roads and police and fire departments and ... will pay for themselves.

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

Yes, I do pay attention to history. Thanks for asking. I have seen the debt triple under Reagan, and rise significantly under Bush Sr. and Bush Jr., and now under Obama. I also see our debt as a massive problem, and I don't care who is in office. We need to take care of it. It isn't going to just go away if we pretend it isn't there or refuse to allow taxes to pay it down.

Now, I believe he said it (sounds like something a politician would say) but I don't actually recall Obama saying he was going to cut the deficit in half. Was this in '08 before or '08 after the economy crashed? The crashed economy was a game-changer.

Windemere 3 years, 2 months ago

Many Republicans and Conservatives cringe at the Tea Party. Real lovers of liberty want government out of our lives as much as possible. They sympathize with the Occupy Wall Streeters in at least one key way: stop corporate welfare. NOW. And despite the anti-conservative rhetoric of so many on this forum, freedom-loving people believe that what two consenting adults choose to do is their own business. And as others have pointed out, capital/businesses (and the resulting jobs) go where the environment is friendliest and the pay-back the most promising.

ThePilgrim 3 years, 2 months ago

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. " and the rest. If this really a legitimate quote, it would be outrageous enough for a mob to march on her house.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

I can't see anything outrageous about the statement "there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody." It's just a statement of fact.
I hope, ThePilgrim, that you would be appalled at a mob marching on anybody's house. We don't express disagreement in this country by inciting violence.

chootspa 3 years, 2 months ago

It's legit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htX2us... And the video is viral with faaaar more likes than dislikes. Seems the mob tends to agree with the social contract as justification for taxation.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for sharing this link, cato_the_elder. I never knew that Elizabeth Warren's opponent posed in the nude. Hardly a qualification for office, though.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

That wasn't the thrust of the article, of course.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Nice word choice there - "thrust" :-)

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

Of course not, cato_the_elder; you didn't post it to grant any advantage to Elizabeth Warren--that much is clear from your rants above. But the article certainly does more damage to Scott Brown than it does to Elizabeth Warren. Strange that the author of the article didn't recognize that. Or you, either.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 2 months ago

Warren has shown herself to be the fool she is with her initial comment deriding the manner in which Scott Brown worked his way through college. If a comment like that had been made by a conservative Republican against a liberal Democrat, it would have immediately been berated by the liberal media as "insensitive." His comeback was outstanding, and will appeal to all Massachusetts voters except other left-wing, forced wealth redistributionists like Warren herself.

chootspa 3 years, 2 months ago

Yuck Yuck, hardy har, "Elizabeth Warren is ugly and therefore unqualified to hold elective office, so like whatever." What an outstanding comeback. So witty! So clever! So not at all right out of middle school.

Elizabeth Warren also faced financial hardships getting through school. She overcame them by using her brains and getting scholarships.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

What RINO's like george will and some on this chat board fear about Elizabeth Warren is that she may step in to prevent further RINO home loan scandals. Reagan/Bush then Bush Cheney.

Hell Jeb Bush got away with a few extra million:

"Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars." (From a source)

Flap Doodle 3 years, 2 months ago

You seem to be forgetting that attribution thing again, merrill.

voevoda 3 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Elizabeth Warren said to people like Jobs "God bless! Keep a big hunk of it."
FalseHopeNoChange, did you actually read Elizabeth Warren's own words, or just the ring-wingers' deliberate distortions?

weeslicket 3 years, 2 months ago

anywhoos. speaking of elizabeth warren and steve jobs, from main quote from the article (again): “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody."

now, thinking of steve jobs: did steve jobs get rich on his own? how did steve jobs treat his employees? how did steve jobs treat his customers?

bet you know the answers to these questions.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 2 months ago

"Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, aka the pursuit of happiness." Socialism! Dirty communists!

gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

Let me set the record straight for those critics of Warren and of others who share her sentiments.

We are not angry at businesses for using all the tools at their disposal (including accountants) to save as much money as they can (including finding loopholes in the tax structure).

To do so, after all, is just smart on the part of the business owner, or manager, or accountant, what have you.

Blaming a business for taking advantage of an opportunity is like blaming a tree root for finding a crack in the sidewalk and tearing it up as it grows. Or it's like blaming rain water for finding a way through the roof of your house and making a stain on your livingroom ceiling.

No, we are not angry at businesses for taking advantage of an out-of-whack tax structure and unequal economic policies. Rather, we are angry at those fighting tooth and nail to keep them as the status quo. We are angry at those who, as a result of benefiting from inequities in economic policy, resist any change to rectify them.

This is the crux of the fight. It's not about restriction of individual freedoms. Nor is it about sticking it to the private sector to promote a welfare state as Mr. Will might have you think.

No, Mr. Will, we are neither angry at U.S. citizens nor U.S. businesses. Rather, we are angry at the broken policies in America that are only serving to perpetuate inequalities and decrease the quality of life for many of us... most of us.

And we're angry at people like you who are the mouthpieces of those who would most like to see the broken policies continue, and who, instead of recognizing the obviousness of the American situation, label those who wish to improve it as destroyers of liberty and individualism. Forget you.

gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

good one.

what do you call a donkey who's lost his hee-haw?

a dumb ass.

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

That is inaccurate. It isn't the desire of equal outcomes, it is the desire to have a fair and balanced playing field from the outset. It is the desire to operate within a political / economic system that does not favor the elite and monied class from the beginning. It isn't the outcome as much as the starting point that is the concern.

Why should someone who works for a living pay 35% tax, when someone who doesn't work but lives off of the money earned from stock dividends pay 15%? That is part of the unbalanced system to which I refer.

And actually, a lib's worse nightmare involves flying monkeys, clowns and dentists. At least it is true of this lib. Fiscal freedom is something I personally enjoy.

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

I see I was already responding to your earlier post while you were righting this.

"You live in a world fueled by envious rage."

Yawn. And here I thought I was conversing with a real person. Oh well. Have fun with the personal attacks.

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

No, more like a nice way to avoid conversing further with someone who writes silly attacks toward someone who is offering a civil discourse. I prefer to converse with people who can recongnize civility when it is presented. See ya.

Satirical 3 years, 2 months ago

You do realize that the stock dividend comes from a company which was already taxed at a 35% rate, and so once the money filters to the stockholder, the money will be taxed twice?

If you really support an equal starting point, then you should favor reducing the capital gains rate, not increasing it. You should also be in favor of a flat tax as well, rather than our progressive tax system.

I never knew you were a fiscal conservative at heart. Yeah for fairness!

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm not at all sure that a company pays 35% taxes on their business.

And, there are many examples of "double taxation" - any income that I spend has been taxed as income, and then gets taxed at the point of sale as well.

Also, capital gains from the sale of stocks haven't been taxed at all yet - if I buy some stock and then sell it for a profit, why should that be taxed at a lower rate than other income?

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

Sati, when it comes to my own finances, I can assure you I am a fiscal conservative at heart, body and soul. I am a strong believer in living below one's means and saving the rest. I am also a fiscal conservative when it comes to what I want to see happen with our federal taxes. I just suspect we would disagree on where funds should and should not be spent.

I see where you are going with the dividend claim, but what is the diffence between a dividend payment and a worker's income? A worker invests with a company (investing time rather than money), and from their profits based on the worker's investment they pay they compensate the worker (with a paycheck, rather than a quarterly check). The company is already taxed, so why should the worker, someone investing (their time) with the company also be taxed?

The tax issue that differentiates income from dividend income is a result of wealthy people writing the tax code in their favor.

gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

and thank you for pointing out the true and disturbing disconnect exemplified by the likes of George Will and his enthusiasts to whom he spoonfeeds his textbook hyperbole... where working to rectify inequalities somehow equates settling for nothing less than socialist utopia.

The sad part is that so many people buy into this crap.

Why? Because it's easy to disagree with people who are bent on the decimation of individual freedom. And so, as a syndicated mouthpiece for the political right, who's salary is dependent upon helping conservative voters distinguishing their political identity by highlighting the differences between themselves and everyone else (i.e. left leaning liberals and middle marching moderates) , George Will seeks to cram all liberals like Liz Warren into a small, despicable nutshell, lined with socialist wallpaper and adorned with freedom-crushing rhinestones.

What's truly sad is his number of followers, who subconsciously realize than it is much easier to agree with his rhetoric than it is to recognize and confront the cognitive dissonance that occurs when a piece of your political identity crashes head-first into your common sense.

Satirical 3 years, 2 months ago

Gudpoynt…

Which is worse, someone like George Will who overgeneralizes; or a hypocrite who complains about over generalizations in one sentence (“George Will seeks to cram all liberals”) and then commits the same offense in the next (“What's truly sad is his number of followers, who subconsciously realize than it is much easier to agree with his rhetoric than it is to recognize..”)?

Next time you decide to pick a fight with someone, you might want to stand up and face him/her rather than shout at a mirror.

Satirical 3 years, 2 months ago

Fantastic article by George Will!

His sentiment is exactly right -- conservatives believe in the power of the individual and in the natural aristocracy of talent and hard work. Liberals believe you are too stupid to think for yourself, and therefore the aristocracy should be made up of the most benevolent who are willing to take on the burden of making choices for others.

Liberals try to convince the naive, poor, and uneducated that conservatives only want to help the rich and take from the poor. They will do anything to hide the truth that conservatives believe the wealthy and the poor are, for the most part, a product of individual choices. Therefore, it is not the proper role of government to punish the rich in order to subsidize and therefore encourage poverty. Being a fiscal conservative means you stand for individual freedom and believe in allowing natural consequences to encourage hard work and discourage slothfulness.

gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

"They will do anything to hide the truth that conservatives believe the wealthy and the poor are, for the most part, a product of individual choices."

No we won't. In fact, thanks for displaying your naivety so succinctly.

It's your obliviousness and/or denial of wealth and poverty cycles, and how public policy can either perpetuate, or alter those cycles, that we're trying to overcome.

If you are incapable of understanding this then that's fine with me. It doesn't mean that I think you are too stupid to think for yourself. It just means I think you are too simplistic to understand public policy, and I'd prefer if you weren't in charge of influencing it.

On the other hand, if you ARE capable of understanding this, but refuse to acknowledge or believe it, then I think you are just a run-off-the-mill conservative living in what I like to call the Sunflower State of Denial.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Yes, you believe in a "natural aristocracy" and that the wealthy are mostly a product of individual choices.

Liberals do not believe in that set-up - they believe that there are many factors that contribute to individual success, or the lack of it, many of which have nothing to do with talent or hard work.

People who inherit money have done nothing in the way of hard work or talent to get that inheritance - that's just one example.

And, liberals want to create a society in which anybody has a more equal chance to succeed, regardless of birth/social standing, etc. not that it's guaranteed.

Satirical 3 years, 2 months ago

jafs... "Liberals do not believe in that set-up - they believe that there are many factors that contribute to individual success, or the lack of it, many of which have nothing to do with talent or hard work."

Of course there are other factors (that is why I said "mostly a product of individual choices"), but there difference between a liberal and conservative is that liberals believe hard work and sacrifice has little to do with social standing. I disagree. I do not believe the poor are always victims nor do I believe the wealthy are there only because of inequality in the system.

"People who inherit money have done nothing in the way of hard work or talent to get that inheritance - that's just one example." - jafs

Your example does not disprove my statement. Again, I said "mostly." I could think of a dozen examples to add to yours, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

I'd need to see some reliable statistics before I could agree with your comment that your version is the rule, and my example the exception.

And, I'll continue to tend towards the political side that wants to create more equal opportunities, rather than the one that likes social Darwinism.

It's not perfect, but I think it's better than the alternative.

Satirical 3 years, 2 months ago

Gudpoynt… “It's your obliviousness and/or denial of wealth and poverty cycles, and how public policy can either perpetuate, or alter those cycles, that we're trying to overcome.”

I completely understand how public policy can affect wealth and poverty cycles, which is why I am a conservative. I understand the most basic principles of economics, that when you subsidize (or over subsidize) anything, like poverty, you get more of it; and when you tax (or over tax) something, like success and wealth, you get less of it. I am not against all assistance to the poor, nor all taxes on the rich. I am against class warfare and over taxation which many liberals support.

So, while I will not stoop to the childish tactic of name calling (“thanks for displaying your naivety…”, “...I think you are too simplistic to understand public policy..”); I will ask you a question you failed to answer when attacking me – do YOU understand wealth and poverty cycles?

beatrice 3 years, 2 months ago

Just curious, what do you consider "over taxation"?

For example, do you believe the temporary Bush era tax cuts could be allowed to run their course and end without it being considered over taxation? Why would 39% under Obama (with the ending of the present tax cuts) on the highest level be considered over taxation (for which Obama is often called by others a Socialist), but 50% is what we had under Reagan and Reagan is consider by many as the greatest thing ever (I exaggerate, but not much) for business? Why is 39% under Obama too much, and 50% under Reagan was fantastic?

I know you aren't making all these claims here, but you have read these boards and know what is said. I hope you can address this apparent disconnect between history and the current conservative views on taxes.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

I predict the same difficulty with defining "over taxation" as "fair share" - it's essentially the same problem.

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