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Taxes and fiscal cliff

Races for the Senate, U.S. House, etc. and other issues of national importance.

Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby pjbogart » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:04 pm

Ok, let's not get The Great Bandini confused with John Henry.

But for the sake of argument, Arturo, suppose that I'm not like you and the solution isn't obvious. Are you proposing that we dissolve the Federal government? Default on debt obligations? Offer a bankruptcy style liquidation price for outstanding government bonds? Say, 7 cents on the dollar? Do we keep the Federal judiciary? Is it up to the people of Alabama to decide if their Negros can vote? Get rid of standing armies and go back to a national guard type militia? Do we quit collecting SS and simply pay retirees until the trust fund is dry?

If we quit collecting federal taxes and simply left all expenses to the States, wouldn't your State taxes rise significantly? Or should we quit maintaining roads and schools? If there's no EPA should we just trust that corporations won't pollute the air and water? Or would we need 50 separate EPA's for each State?

Are you pushing for Libertarianism or Anarchy?
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:26 pm

pj, I appreciate your willingness to engage, but I'm not going to answer all of your questions in detail. If I were in-charge today (god forbid) I would move to gradually but seriously reduce the size and scope of the Federal government. I fully recognize that a wholesale, immediate elimination of the government would cause widespread misery of untold dimension in the short term.

Libertarianism and anarchy are not necessarily incompatible. You're thinking of the distinction between minarchy and anarchy. I'd propose that we go toward minarchy in the short term with anarchy as the philosophical ideal, which means we begrudgingly impose government force only when failure to do so would result in widespread catastrophe and loss of life. This might mean that government could amass resources to defend against an invading army, but could not toy with economic institutions under the guise of job creation or economic growth.

The way we deal with the fiscal cliff is not by defaulting, liquidating bonds (btw, think about that again - who holds the bonds?) or turning states into completely sovereign entities (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just not necessary to accomplish our fiscal cliff goals). The proper response to the fiscal cliff is to cut spending dramatically. Not 100%, just to like, 2005 levels. We can keep the army for defense purposes, keep the EPA, and keep paying SS to people that have insufficient liquid assets. We can even continue to allow Negros to vote. I'm not above trying to make our illegitimate government function better, even if I think we would be better off without it in the long-term.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby pjbogart » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:35 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:I'm not above trying to make our illegitimate government function better, even if I think we would be better off without it in the long-term.


Is your problem with the government that it doesn't work, can't work, or shouldn't work even if it could?
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:42 pm

pjbogart wrote:Is your problem with the government that it doesn't work, can't work, or shouldn't work even if it could?
Mostly #3 with some amount of #1. I disagree with #2. Under some circumstances, government can work very effectively, but those can also be the times when the most awful things occur. It all depends on what the government is working towards.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby pjbogart » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:42 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:I disagree with #2. Under some circumstances, government can work very effectively, but those can also be the times when the most awful things occur. It all depends on what the government is working towards.


I'm not sure what you mean by that. I guess if the most awful things are occurring, at least assuming that you're tying them to the government, that would be a time when government isn't working.

So if I changed my question to a "strong central government" you might be more tempted to go with "can't" and "shouldn't"? Why is that? Is it the nature of centralized power? Lack of faith in the electorate to choose good representatives? Hell, I think even proponents of centralized government share that concern.

I guess what I'm driving at is that you tend to criticize government as though it's some monolithic being with a mind of its own. But it really isn't. We are the government and we share in its triumphs and failures.

If your problem is with the electorate, then you're kind of stuck. You can move, I guess, though I'm not sure where you could find a "minarchist" nation with anything remotely resembling peace and prosperity. Antarctica, maybe. I hear real estate is Somalia can be picked up for a song.

As for the economics of the "fiscal cliff" it seems that government is always shifting in three basic directions. For some people it's about changing the goals of government, perhaps moving away from free trade agreements and toward energy independence by investing in things like solar and wind technology. Some people just want to cut what the government spends in order to make a smaller, more sustainable government. And still others want the government to basically stay unchanged but realize that we need more revenue to make that sustainable. I think we're always in a flux where all three of those objectives are pulling at one another.

The problem isn't really the government, it's that we never fully agree on priorities so we all get something that's less than perfect, from our own perspectives. The solution isn't to destroy the government, it's to adjust the goals, spending and revenue to meet our needs and to recognize that we're not the only ones who can vote.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby Mean Scenester » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:53 pm

Honest to Christ, I fail to see the point in "engaging" in good faith with someone who, straight-faced, claims that the US Government is illegitimate.

Why the fuck are you even here, dude? Just to bitch? You want dearth of government? I hear Somalia is lovely right about now. Of course, that would assume you have the requisite stones for some real shit-hitting-the-fan style anarchy and not the fairy tale Anarchy Lite Edition you've cooked up in that twice-baked noggin of yours.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:05 pm

Mean Scenester wrote:Why the fuck are you even here, dude? Just to bitch?
I think you could ask yourself the same question.

I'm here to explore ideas and alternatives to present social institutions. You can choose to participate or not, no big deal. You surely wouldn't claim that Reality 2012 is the pinnacle of human progress, would you? Things will change. Someday, the US Government will no longer exist, and I'm not dismissing out-of-hand the possibility that we'll be better off were that the case.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby ArturoBandini » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:21 pm

pjbogart wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by that. I guess if the most awful things are occurring, at least assuming that you're tying them to the government, that would be a time when government isn't working.
I was referring to government in the abstract, not the US Federal government. Government is force. It need not be democratic, fair, or respecting of human rights. Those are fine ideals, but they are different from government, which can be executed without them (similarly they can exist independently of government).
pjbogart wrote:So if I changed my question to a "strong central government" you might be more tempted to go with "can't" and "shouldn't"? Why is that? Is it the nature of centralized power? Lack of faith in the electorate to choose good representatives? Hell, I think even proponents of centralized government share that concern.
I don't know what you're getting at here.
pjbogart wrote:I guess what I'm driving at is that you tend to criticize government as though it's some monolithic being with a mind of its own. But it really isn't. We are the government and we share in its triumphs and failures.
Sort of true. I am not an agent of government, but many people are. Additionally, government can exist without popular input - not all governments are comprised of "the people".
pjbogart wrote:If your problem is with the electorate, then you're kind of stuck. You can move, I guess, though I'm not sure where you could find a "minarchist" nation with anything remotely resembling peace and prosperity. Antarctica, maybe. I hear real estate is Somalia can be picked up for a song.
Oh lord, not the Somalia canard again. We don't have to choose exclusively from existing nation-states and governments. We can foster the creation of a system better than all existing ones in any location, given enough effort (although precisely how to do that is a mystery to me).
pjbogart wrote:The problem isn't really the government, it's that we never fully agree on priorities so we all get something that's less than perfect, from our own perspectives. The solution isn't to destroy the government, it's to adjust the goals, spending and revenue to meet our needs and to recognize that we're not the only ones who can vote.
I don't really disagree with this, as long as we don't question the idea that using aggressive force against others is an acceptable basis for establishing your desired society. Voting on who is on the giving and receiving end of that force doesn't change the nature of the dilemma.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby Stella_Guru » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:19 am

pjbogart wrote:I guess what I'm driving at is that you tend to criticize government as though it's some monolithic being with a mind of its own.

Isn't the gov acting like it has a mind of its own regarding this fiscal cliff? If the majority of Americans want no tampering with the entitlements, the disagreement isnt between the two parties who both agree on cutting SS and Medicare, it is between the gov and the people, a beat-down by both corporate parties aided by a fear-mongering media.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby johnfajardohenry » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:00 am

pjbogart wrote:If we quit collecting federal taxes and simply left all expenses to the States, wouldn't your State taxes rise significantly?


Yes, perhaps, assuming that the states continued funding all the stuff currently funded by the feds. Also assuming that it would be done just as inefficiently.

However, since the voters would be closer to the source of the spending, they would have more power to control and reduce it. Perhaps (or perhaps not) also more power to assure that it is spent efficiently.

So If you are going to spend $1,000,000 lighting bike paths, it has to come out of taxes whether the feds, state or city pay for it.

If the city pays for it out of local tax money, perhaps there will be more questions about whether taxpayer funded lighted bike paths are a worthy use. Perhaps the taxpayers would decide that they are not and they would not get funded.

In that case taxes would not be raised.

There are certain things that the feds probably need to fund like the military. Most things should be funded more locally, as locally as possible, where the people who are creating the tax money have more say over how the tax money is spent.

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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby johnfajardohenry » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:08 am

Stella_Guru wrote:SS and Medicare are currently funded disproportionately by low and middle income wage earners, thus making them a regressive tax extending only to the first $107,000 or so annually in wages, exempting any aditional wages and all other income. Why not extend the tax to all wages and ALL ADDITIONAL NON-PENSION INCOME?



Wait, wait! I thought Social Security was an "insurance" program. You mean that it is a "tax"? That would mean also that the payments out (pensions and medicare) are a welfare program.

It was set up this way in the 1930's to avoid Constitutional issues. It is how the Obamatax was found constitutional.

It sort of makes any discussion of how SS can run out of money silly and irrelevant, doesn't it? SS can no more run out of money broke than the Army, the Dept of Transportation or the Supreme Court can run out of money.

Glad to see I am no longer the only one here that realizes this.

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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby johnfajardohenry » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:18 am

johnfajardohenry wrote:So If you are going to spend $1,000,000 lighting bike paths, it has to come out of taxes whether the feds, state or city pay for it.


Perhaps I should have said "probably has to come out of taxes"

There might be other, non-tax, ways to fund the lighting such as user fees, donations, selling naming rights or such.

But that is perhaps a tangent from the main discussion.

John Henry
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby fisticuffs » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:53 am

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/repu ... itics.html

Boehner is SHOCKED, SHOCKED that the president would essentially stick to the plan he campaigned on and the American people voted to support.

The offer landed with a thud on Capitol Hill, where Republicans bluntly rejected it and expressed shock that the president would essentially stick to the plan he trumpeted starting in September 2011 and all through the campaign.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:42 am

johnfajardohenry wrote:However, since the voters would be closer to the source of the spending, they would have more power to control and reduce it. Perhaps (or perhaps not) also more power to assure that it is spent efficiently.


Explain to us how this actually works. The only say I have is in voting and last I checked, we vote for our nationally elected leaders as well. It's the same old tired argument that has no economic basis.
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Re: Taxes and fiscal cliff

Postby DCB » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:45 am

fisticuffs wrote:http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/republicans-scoff-white-house-fiscal-cliff-opening-bid-235943793--politics.html

Boehner is SHOCKED, SHOCKED that the president would essentially stick to the plan he campaigned on and the American people voted to support.

Well, the Republicans only lost a few seats in both the House and the Senate, which must mean the country totally supports the Republican agenda. Any other conclusion is just LSM propaganda.
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