Archive for Sunday, October 9, 2011

Simple facts

October 9, 2011


To the editor:

George Will’s right-wing attack on Elizabeth Warren puts words in her mouth she doesn’t agree with (Journal-World, Oct. 6). She clearly supports individual initiative and enterprise as well as obligations for the successful to support government investments that enable success. She  supports moderation of tax rates as well as taxation based on ability to pay. She supports individual autonomy and self-regulation as well as government’s duty to rein in the exploiters among us. She supports the creative complexity of private society as well as the ability of “we the people” working together to “form a more perfect union.”

Warren is simply asserting facts of life from microeconomics 101:

  1. Production of goods and services always depends on three kinds of inputs: capital, labor and government services.

  2. Revenues from production must be shared as profits, wages and taxes, or else all three factors will cease to exist.

  3. Hence, taxes are necessities of civilized life.

Here is Will’s entire defense for misinterpreting Warren: “Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context,” and “Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable (is) that the individual depends on cooperative behavior of others.” Note Will’s exquisite delicacy: government is described, accurately enough but evasively, as “social context” and “cooperative behavior.” Note also that no major Republican candidate in the last 30 years has made any public reference to these facts. Will is claiming Warren is an extremist, because she states simple facts the radical right denies.


Liberty_One 6 years ago

"and government services."

You assume the conclusion you're trying to prove.

LTE debunked from the start.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"You assume the conclusion you're trying to prove."

Maybe so-- but that's no different from the argument by assertion that you so regularly employ.

funkdog1 6 years ago

What assumption? Here is part of Elizabeth Warren's quote to which the LTE writer, and George Will, refers:

"You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. (Government services.) You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. (Public universities - i.e. government services.) You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. (Government services.) You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. (i.e., once again, government services.)"

So what's debunked again?

funkdog1 6 years ago

Ohhhhhh, I see. You propose a world in which alllll roads, all streets, all bridges, all highways and byways, are private toll roads. In other words, you really are a libertarian, even when it makes absolutely no sense.

funkdog1 6 years ago

And you are a pompus @$$. I know that many public roads and bridges were once built by communities that pulled together and paid for them together, with each household contributing what it could. Exactly which transcontinental railroad are you speaking of? Because I can't find documentation of any American line that was built entirely with private money. Only British ones, ironically.

A few railroad lines are a far cry from the complex web of asphalt that's been laid down in this country. Sure, it could all be done with private money, and paying for it all and keeping it maintained would be a far bigger, more complicated mess than it is now. I have never, ever, ever claimed that government is perfect, and frankly, I'm THRILLED when the private sector does something better than the government. I'm all for capitalism. But for some things, government is the better option, even when that option stinks.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

Elizabeth Warren did pull the alarm on the Bush/Cheney fiasco however eyes chose to look the other way.

Meanwhile the RINO party has established reckless patterns in government:

Introducing the RINO Economic Plaftorm Written In Stone

  1. TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros sells out state governments, public schools,SRS services etc etc to private industry = Grab Your Wallets!

  2. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many $$ trillions (Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion), Plus millions of lost jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance.

  3. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers = loss of $$ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern.

  4. ONLY 3 financial institutions instead of several were at risk so why $700 billion in bail out money? One of the biggest lies perpetrated on American citizens. Where did this money go? Why were some banks forced to take bail out money?

Tax cuts aka the ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts = a tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again.

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class = duped one more time.

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother RINO's as long as they are in power. 31 years is too long.

FYI - The Republican party is dead as a result of so many replaced with RINO"s. Duped again.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

It's been a couple of days since you copy/pasted this same drivel. Are you getting tired of seeing it?

independent_rebel 6 years ago

This has nothing to do with the topic on hand. Please stop this. Those who care to read your copy and pastes already have.

jayhawklawrence 6 years ago

My take on George Will's column was probably a little different.

After reading that rambling nonsense, I just thought he needed more sleep and more protein in his diet.

I would not take anything George Will dreams up for his right base to be anything other than a way to get another paycheck.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

How can there be a Free Market when local,state and federal level politicians hand out pork barrel spending aka tax breaks,tax incentives,tax abatements,tax rebates,tax subsidies etc etc etc not to mention our governments are controlled by large corporate special interest campaign dollars?

Elizabeth Warren is quite a smart woman. The RINO party does fear Elizabeth Warren no question about it. Yes do elect Elizabeth Warren to the US Senate.

jafs 6 years ago

This is unfortunately what political discourse has become recently - instead of actually discussing ideas and debating them, each side strives to misrepresent and exaggerate what the other says in order to gain political traction.

It's worse than useless - it's degrading the quality of our discussions, and making it much harder to work together to find reasonable solutions to our problems.

cato_the_elder 6 years ago

Jafs, attempting to deal with people who believe in forced wealth redistribution by government, from Obama on down, is a difficult task in a country that was founded on principles of personal and economic freedom.

jafs 6 years ago

Your posts are an excellent example of what I'm talking about.

Instead of listening to what others say without exaggeration, you characterize them as "forced wealth redistributionists", and then proceed from there.

I challenge you to discuss ideas and substance without doing that for a little while, and see if the quality of the conversations improve.

voevoda 6 years ago

cato_the_elder, jafs isn't a forced wealth redistributionist; neither is Obama. You're thinking of the real Cato the Elder. He confiscated property from wealthy Romans who used their wealth for personal indulgence rather than for the public good. The confiscated property Cato then used to pay for public works. Furthermore, he said it was better for many Romans to have silver than for a few to have gold. Clearly, cato_the_elder, you find it possible to admire people who actually did call for the forcible redistribution of wealth, or else you would not have chosen "cato_the_elder" as your screen name. If you can extend that mark of respect to someone long dead, you ought to be able to respect your living neighbors who espouse much more moderate positions, even if you disagree with them.
I will post this information every time you falsely attribute support of "forced wealth redistribution" to persons who post here, until you learn, cato_the _elder, not to insult them and misrepresent what they say.

cato_the_elder 6 years ago

And I will respond every time that your posts on this forum clearly demonstrate that you advocate forced redistribution of wealth by government. Moreover, your bizarre denial that Obama also believes in governmentally-imposed forced redistribution of wealth proves conclusively that you either (a) are blind or (b) have been living in a cave for at least a decade.

voevoda 6 years ago

cato_the_elder, I am not a forced wealth redistributionist. You're thinking of the real Cato the Elder. He confiscated property from wealthy Romans who used their wealth for personal indulgence rather than for the public good. The confiscated property Cato then used to pay for public works. Furthermore, he said it was better for many Romans to have silver than for a few to have gold. Clearly, cato_the_elder, you find it possible to admire people who actually did call for the forcible redistribution of wealth, or else you would not have chosen "cato_the_elder" as your screen name. You do not pretend that he didn't espouse this position, and you don't ridicule him for doing so.
You must desist from misrepresenting other people's views and then condemning them on the basis of views they do not hold. That is the favored technique of the NKVD and the Spanish Inquisition, and surely you do not want to place yourself in that company. I will repeat this message every time you falsely attribute positions to other posters, until you learn, cato_the _elder, to conduct yourself in a mature and responsible manner on these forums.

cato_the_elder 6 years ago

And I will respond every time that your posts on this forum clearly demonstrate that you advocate forced redistribution of wealth by government. Moreover, your bizarre denial that Obama also believes in governmentally-imposed forced redistribution of wealth proves conclusively that you either (a) are blind or (b) have been living in a cave for at least a decade.

Carol Bowen 6 years ago

Yes, some of these discussions turn into a game of one-up-manship. Lots of opinion and attitude. So much emotion, so little cooperation.

Satirical 6 years ago


I wouldn't call it completely useless, but I agree with the essence of your statement. Strawman arguments are too often used to claim one ideology is superior to another. This is how people like Leonard Pitts make a living. In reality Americans agree on a lot, but the choices are made by drawing a line somewhere, the question always is whether to draw the line slightly more to the right or slightly more to the left (most people agree taxes are necessary, the question is how much).

When the facts don't overwhelmingly support a single conclusion the debate tends to fall back to ideology, ethics, and one's perception of the world. That isn't wrong, it is just a fact. I like debating broad of ideology (such as the article written by George Will), but I agree that there is too much stereotyping, strawman arguments and demonizing of opponents. But what else to should we expect from people who aren't topic experts?

Satirical 6 years ago

To which positions are your referring?

jafs 6 years ago

I'd say it's worse than useless because it creates animosity and conflict where they may not need to exist, and that those are counterproductive to solving our problems, which are numerous.

We should really be trying to stop exaggerating and distorting, and clearly understand what people are saying, find whatever common ground we can find, and find a way to debate our differences without making it personal.

If elections are an indication, the country is almost exactly divided between those who will vote R, and those who will vote D, and that seems even more true the more voters participate in elections.

So, it would be in our best interests to work together, if we actually want to arrive at a system that represents most of the people (I'm aware of the third party folks, and they may not be adequately included).

I don't know about you, but when people are exaggerating and distorting my ideas and calling me names, I tend to find it more difficult to work with them in a co-operative way.

Satirical 6 years ago


Usually the people who get offended and are unable to debate without emotion are not in a position to be making changes anyway. Of course since we are in a democratic republic, those who are emotional can still try to influence others and change our policy makers. But I agree it doesn’t make it easy to have a dialogue when someone is shouting at you.

I also agree that it is counterproductive to create strawman arguments and stereotype the opposition, but on the other hand I believe much can be gained by discussing ethics and ideology.

Oh wait, I almost forgot, since I am on the LJWorld I have to personally attack you or your motivation -- Fatty Fat Fathead.

jaywalker 6 years ago

Sat is back! Haven't seen you around in a long time!

Good posts, yours and jafs. Too true.

Satirical 6 years ago

Thanks jaywalker, but I am not "back", just stopping by.

Satirical 6 years ago

Oh, and I also agree the Liberty that David's logic is flawed. That doesn't mean his conclusion is wrong, it simply means that his conclusion isn't derived from his premises.

Satirical 6 years ago

Correction: I also agree (with) Liberty...

jafs 6 years ago

For cato and those like him that use the term "forced wealth redistributionist", it seems to me that taxes are exactly that.

They are mandatory (forced), and they transfer money (wealth) from us to the government, and then to others (civil servants, military, etc.).

If one is against the first, then logically one would be opposed to all forms of taxation.

The problem with this position is that the Constitution in Article 1, Section 8 explicitly grants Congress the power to levy taxes. So opposition to taxation is not consistent with our constitution. That leaves those who claim fealty to the constitution in a funny spot - either they follow it, which means taxes are legitimate, cutting into their anti wealth redistribution idea, or they stick to their guns, ignoring the constitution.

The better, and more useful question, I think is the interpretation of some of the phrases in the constitution, like the general welfare clause - there's a legitimate and important discussion to be had about what that entails, and how it should be implemented. But, that conversation is virtually impossible when folks like to exaggerate and name-call rather than discuss things calmly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Jafs is a truly vile person (after all, isn't that defined as anyone who disagrees with you?)

jafs 6 years ago

Hey, I thought we were friends :-)

The point I was making seems to have eluded Liberty One.

"Forced wealth redistributionists" seems to have included our founders, so when somebody calls someone that, they're in pretty good company, I'd say.

If somebody is only opposed to certain taxes, or an amount thereof, then they don't have a strongly held principled argument against FWR (for short).

That's fine, but then they should stop the name-calling.

jafs 6 years ago

Just to be sure we're clear on this:

I stopped responding to you because for the second time, you resorted to insults and personal attacks with me.

Unless you're willing to commit to not using those, I am not willing to discuss anything with you, no matter how many times you comment on my posts.

jafs 6 years ago

I take that as a no, and confirmation of my decision to stop conversing with you.

If you can't discuss things without personal attacks and insults, I'm not willing to discuss anything with you.

jafs 6 years ago

As I have requested in the past, I ask you again to stop responding to my posts.

Satirical 6 years ago


I don't want to speak for others, but my guess is that when someone says they oppose"forced wealth redistribution" they are referring to the transfer of large of amount of wealth (excessive taxation), from the upper class to the lower class. I doubt they are opposed to all taxation or the authority of the Federal government to tax.

Again, where that line is drawn probably depends on to whom you speak. I think the size of the Federal government is too large and the war on poverty is not a winnable war (I am not against all support to the poor, but I believe it is currently excessive and creating a culture of dependency for too many).

jafs 6 years ago

I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't lump me in with a group, as if we all believe and advocate the same thing, when that's not in fact true.

And, it's economic "principles".

And, again, there are many on the right who seem to feel that the government has no right to tax them - "it's my money,..."

You, of course, may not believe that, since not everybody on the right thinks the same way exactly (similarly to how bea/merrill/I may have differences of opinion).

jafs 6 years ago

I wasn't actually even talking to the libertarian - I was responding to cato the elder, who has chosen not to engage at all in this conversation.

I do that because I tire of his name-calling, and would like to see a better discussion of the topic.

Are we limited to discussing conservatives in Congress? I didn't get that memo.

And, I've already agreed several times that Warren's comments were simplistic and flawed, in comments to you. Have you forgotten that already?

jafs 6 years ago

That may be what they're trying to say, but by making such a broad characterization, they are in fact opposing taxation, since it is in fact fwr.

If they want to discuss the amount of taxation, and the scope of the general welfare clause, and the pros and cons of various approaches, that would be very welcome to me.

If they can do it without exaggeration and name calling, of course.

independent_rebel 6 years ago

Government services has nothing to do with 99% of all small-business start-ups. All the government can do is take money from the businesses.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Government services has nothing to do with 99% of all small-business start-ups."

I love these bold assertions that anyone who spends a millisecond thinking about can spot the absurdity.

independent_rebel 6 years ago

I took the chance and opened my own business years ago. So did my brother. The government has provided us with zero, nothing, nada.

I took the risk, put my own money into it. The only time the government comes into play is when I have to pay taxes. I'm happy to pay taxes that go towards physical infastructure and security. I'm not happy that a share of my money pays for moochers who choose to be lazy or who come here illegally.

voevoda 6 years ago

Doesn't the government guarantee the safety of our country, including your place of business and your person? Doesn't the government guarantee the value of the money you use to start your business? Doesn't the government pay for the infrastructure you use to bring customers physically to your business and your goods physically to market? Doesn't the government provide you with the infrastructure necessary to supply water to your business? Doesn't the government educate the employees your hire and the customers you attract? Doesn't the government contribute to health care for the employees and the customers? I'd say that all that adds up to considerably more than 1% of the success of your private business. Maybe you shouldn't begrudge paying the taxes, independent_rebel. But if you do, you have the option of paying an equal amount in charitable contributions, and so greatly reducing your tax burden while giving back to your community.

independent_rebel 6 years ago

When my builiding was built, I paid the government for much of those physical infrastructure and continue to via a monthly bill. I said I'm happy to pay for that, as you overlooked.

What I don't believe in paying is what Ms. Warren and President Obama want me to pay for, and that is to provide entitlements for the millions of people in this country who expect them without even trying to do for themselves.

voevoda 6 years ago

independent_rebel, How would you separate the deserving poor from the undeserving? Surely you are not so hard-hearted as to wish the infirm, the elderly, and young children to go homeless and hungry. Surely you would not like persons who are unemployed through no fault of their own and desperately seeking employment to descend into total destitution.

independent_rebel 6 years ago

Ah. You raise a point I have argued for years!

The system is broken. Until we take the time and have the guts to separate those who mooch vs. those who are trying, we'll never get the upper hand.

First, we must take care of the elderly via Social Security and Medicare. We must take care of our Veterans, too. Nothing pisses me off more than when conservatives slash funding for Veterans' benefits.

But...why not drug test those who receive government benefits? Many employers require this from their employees, don't they? If you don't pass, no money. Why not make a person who shows up at an emergency room to "see a doctor" prove they are from this country? Not here legally? No service for you unless life-threatening. Free and reduced lunches? A joke. You feed your kid. We are letting parents off the hook of being...parents.

I'll never give a penny to a fraud such as the Lawrence Community Shelter. Why? Because the dollar I may give them to help out a family just temporarily down on their luck will be spread out amongst drug abusers, alcoholics, and people who chose homelessness as a way of life.

Choices have consequences, and if you come to this country illegally you deserve nothing. Not one penny. If you choose to be uneducated, and hang with the wrong crowd and watch TV all day and smoke weed not even try to find a job, you deserve nothing. No food stamps, no health insurance, no money for anything.

See, it's all about standing up and saying enough is enough. Hold those on the far left and far right, the no income and high income, all accountable.

If, for example, Loring Henderson came out and said from now on we'll drug test our "clients," and if a person shows up high or drunk more than once at the shelter he or she is banned permanently, or an individual person has a lifetime limit of, say 1 year max at staying in shelter, then I may consider helping out such an organization. But they don't, so I won't.

See, the very people you champion--the infirm, the elderly, and young children from homeless families, the help we could provide them is diluted to levels that don't make a difference, all because of the millions of moochers who believe entitlements are a way of life.

independent_rebel 6 years ago

Flawed, very flawed test.

"Less than one percent of welfare applicants tested positive for drugs since the state began requiring the screening in July, according to figures released by state officials Tuesday. But because nearly 1,600 applicants declined to take the test, it's difficult to draw conclusions from the results.

Thirty-two applicants failed the test, 7,028 passed and 1,597 didn't take it, according figures from the Department of Children and Families. A majorityof the positive tests were for marijuana."

"People who decline to take the test aren't required to explain why."

I would bet that, conservatively, 75% of those who wouldn't take the test would fail. That changes the percentages significantly.

Do you think that only 2% of those who stay for years at the LCS would test positive? Of course not.

Read more:

jafs 6 years ago

Nothing from cato?

The next step in the debate, it seems to me, would be the interpretation of the general welfare clause, and whether it should be interpreted narrowly or broadly.

Apparently, there were both interpretations from the beginning, and so again, those who favor a broader interpretation are completely in line with our founders as well.

So, liberals who believe in taxes and federal programs to promote the general welfare, and interpret that broadly are as in line with our founding principles as those who oppose them - they're not "Marxists" "anti-American", etc.

Maybe if the name-calling stopped, we could have a calm and reasonable discussion about the pros and cons of both interpretations, and the best way to proceed given approximately equal numbers of Americans who favor them.

Satirical 6 years ago

Fat chance....Fatty Fat Fathead (sorry, I couldn't resist).

vuduchyld 6 years ago

There's no use pretending The demographics are trending But I've lived here a long time and my family's here, too For the record, there's no trusting Their faith-based programs and union busting I live in a red state and that's why I'm so blue

(watch the video!)

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