Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 3:11pmSanction this postReply
The debate transcript is available here:

... and I pulled some quotes below and interjected comments ...

Mark Zandi:
I think the economics depend on the times, and the times now are such that we've got to address our fiscal problems.
Zandi is adopting a post-modern notion of economic relativism, where different economics work for or at different times. What this means is that there are some times, perhaps rare, where complete communism would "work" -- simply because it's the "right time" for communism. What this ignores is the fundamentality of human nature -- that human nature is something that persists, rather than changes, through time. He is ignoring the trees in the forest and making bold conjecture that some forests would do fine in complete drought or fully ablaze.

Don't forget about the trees.


Robert Reich:
But there have got to be some tax increases, and the real question here isn't the size of government, the real question here is who is going to bear the brunt of the tax increases. Is it going to be people mostly at the top, or is it going to be people who are in the middle, or is it going to be people who are poor?
Reich is evading the issue that it is the spending side of the equation that is out of whack. As Glenn Hubbard says later, government spending is 3 percentage points higher than historical levels, and is not projected to recede from that point. That is out of whack, it is the main reason for our fiscal problems, and Reich is evading it in order to embellish in some kind of sick, socialist envy of the rich. 

[How's that for a rant, Kyle?]

Robert Reich:
We had an economy that did not perform nearly as well as it did under the president I was very proud to have served under, that is Bill Clinton, who raised taxes. We had the largest and longest boom in modern memory, 22 million jobs were created. That wasn't a negative growth, that was not a slowdown in growth. We raised taxes, 22 million new jobs were created.
Reich is engaging in a non sequitor (post hoc ergo proptor hoc, or non causa pro causa, or whatever it is called in Latin!). It does not follow from the fact that raised taxes and created jobs happened to have coincided, that one caused the other. Under that logic, you could say that the rising sun in the morning is what caused Snookie to become pregnant (oh my god, I can't believe that I just admitted that I know who Snookie is!). Besides, as Art Laffer says later, Clinton (along with a Republican congress), decreased the scope/cost of government more than the next best 4 presidents combined. It is more likely that lifting the weight of government off of the markets of the economy(s) is what it is that led to the creation of those 22 million jobs.

Robert Reich:
In fact, median family incomes since 2000 have actually dropped 8 percent.
But it's important to note that statism -- the thing that Reich is arguing for -- also increased during that time and may be related to the recent gutting of the middle class. There was a baseline of statism in 2000, and it has grown. Reich, like a good socialist, would have to argue that even though a little extra statism didn't help the middle class, that a whole lot more statism would turn around and all-of-a-sudden start to help the middle class. This is a favorite argument of the commies -- that the reason communism never worked is because there has never been enough communism for it to work -- so we merely need to ram collectivism down everyone's throat against their will (and then we will arrive at Utopia). 

Arthur Laffer:
Robert, your president, by the way, cut the capital gains rate dramatically; he got rid of capital gains taxes on owner occupied homes for everyone, he also got rid of the tax on retirees working, which was the group between 65 and 72. He also put in welfare reform, he also cut government spending as a share of GDP by more than the next four best presidents combined ...
Here, Laffer is making a lot of sense toward explaining the economic boom of the 1990s.

Mark Zandi:
The last fiscal year just ended. We had a deficit of $1.1 trillion. You can ask, "Well, what's going on?" Lots of things. There's the wars. That's [$0.12 trillion per year] over the last 10 years. That's Afghanistan and Iraq. There's the Bush era tax cuts. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that cost us [$0.16 trillion per year] over a 10 year period. And, of course, there was a recession, the great recession, and by my calculation, that's cost us about [$0.18 trillion per year] over the course of the last 10 years.
Zandi offers 3 big reasons, but still doesn't come up with an explanation for even half of the $1.1 trillion deficit. A more honest approach would involve explaining at least half of the deficit. We can call it the Thompson 'must-explain-half-or-you're-being-dishonest' principle of proper debate, and you only get exemptions from it when you justify yourself or your position. For instance, there are some things in which it is currently impossible to explain half of their genesis (e.g., why is Honey-Boo-Boo so popular?), but our deficit is not one of those things. Instead, it is more explainable than that -- and that puts the onus of explanation on all honest debators.

If you don't explain at least half of something that is "explainable" then you ought to be suspected of being dishonest. For instance, Zandi fails to mention entitlement programs, which go a long way in explaining our deficit. That's 'pink-elephant' evasion on his part. Zandi does bring up entitlements elsewhere, however, so he is not thoroughly evil -- just maybe one-third evil (twice as good as he is evil), or something like that.


Mark Zandi:
And I think the problem here is that if we don't address the skewing of the distribution and wealth, the disenfranchised are going to say, "Enough!" And they're going to stop the process of globalization, and they're going to rebel against the pace of technological change, and that's going to be to everyone's detriment, including higher income households.
This is the Begging the Question fallacy (petitio principii, or some such jargon), and Reich is in full agreement with it. Here is how the argument looks when you strip it down from euphemistic rhetoric:

1) We need to be able to keep the tremendous benefits of free market capitalism.
2) If incomes skew far away from the egalitarian ideal (where everyone makes the same wage), then the disenfranchesed proletariat will revolt and they will say: "Enough! Workers of the World Unite!"
3) Therefore, in order to save capitalism, we have to increase statism.

Talk about an inability to think straight about this issue!

Mark Zandi:
If I were king for the day, I wouldn't raise tax rates on anybody, and I don't think we need to, right? I am all for tax reform. Let's close the deductions, let's close the loopholes, let's make the tax code fairer, broaden the base, I'm all for it, but let's use the revenue to address our fiscal problems, not to cut tax rates, until we're able to do that, right? I mean, that is the best way, that is the way proposed by Simpson-Bowles, that's the way proposed by Domenici-Rivlin, and that is a bipartisan way.
His new name ought to be Mark Toohey.


Arthur Laffer [response to question of whether the current system is "fair"]:
No, it's not. It's totally not. And let me use an example if I may, Warren Buffett. He was sitting there asking my friends and I need to have higher tax rates, and I looked at his letter to the New York Times, and he said he paid a little less than 7 million in taxes, and he said his tax rate was 17.4 percent ... . He had adjusted gross income of $40 million in that year. I then went to Forbes. His wealth increased from 40 billion to 50 billion. I went to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and what you found there is he gave 1.75 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, not counting his sons' foundations or his daughter's foundation. Now, as a definition of "income," to me income is what you spend, what you give away, and your increase in your wealth. It's called the Simon definition of income. ... if you look at Warren Buffet, his income that year as $12 billion, and he paid 7 million in taxes. That is a tax rate of six 1/100th of 1 percent on his true income. That is obnoxious.
Laffer did a good expose` on how dishonest Warren Buffet is as a person, but it didn't help him in the debate. Instead, it was turned around and used against him in a dishonest manner (see below).

Glenn Hubbard:
... if you add up all the tax increases on the rich that are currently being discussed in Washington, it's about 1 percent of GDP. The Congressional Budget Office has come up tonight. They would tell you that the long-term problem in Social Security and Medicare alone is on the order of 10 percentage points of GDP. Anybody who's selling you that taxes on the rich are going to get us out of the fiscal hole doesn't know the math.
Great point by Hubbard, remniscent of that time in the 2008 presidential debates when Stefanopoulos asked Obama if he would raise corporate or capital gains taxes -- even though that would stall economic growth. Obama said he might do it anyway, because his personal, post-modern, infantile-narcissistic feelings of social justice trump the actual results for real people living in the real world. This aspect of his personality can be summed up in the sentence: "I want to get my own way and settle scores based on my own personal, emotion 'intuitions,' even if it forces other innocent people into starving destitution."

[Okay, Kyle, are you happy now?]


Glenn Hubbard:
The current budget has spending [at a] full three percentage points higher than traditional levels in the country. It is proposing to raise taxes on high-income people by 1 percent of GDP, and we just don't know what happens to the other two. In the long term, as I've said, just Social Security and Medicare alone are 10 times the cost, even of the most optimistic tax increases. So, taxes aren't even an important part of this conversation. And, to the extent that they are, they would have to follow the European model, which is to raise them on everyone, a consumption tax.
Another great point by Hubbard.

Mark Zandi:
I think it's important that we address the distribution of income and wealth, because if we don't, we're going to have the situation that Arthur [Laffer] joked about but is very serious. And that is that the wealthy will capture the system. Art joked about buying a senator, buying a congressman. I don't think that's a joke. I mean, I think that's a very serious issue.
Here we go again:

1) We have to save capitalism.
2) The way that we do that is to increase statism.
3) By all means, we have to increase the size and scope of government, in order to prevent abuses stemming from the excess size and scope of government.
4) Reducing the size and scope of government -- something that would make buying a senator less attractive -- is to be expressly avoided (even if it fully solves our current problem).

Glenn Hubbard:
There's no question from a tax fairness or social justice point of view that we need a progressive tax system. The wealthy in our society should pay a disproportionate share of the tax burden ...
 Ugh. Not his best statement. It's terrible, actually.

Robert Reich:
The chances that a poor kid is going to be a poor adult is greater in the United States than it is -- not only in Canada, but greater than in Germany, greater than in most of Europe, greater than in every place in rich nations other than Britain and Italy.
What Reich misses in his summary of relative economic mobility is a cause. He just conveys how bad things have gotten, but relies on emotional arguments soliticing us to "fill-in-the-blanks" as to the cause of the mess. "Look how bad it has become in the US!", he tells us. "We need more statism here in order to increase our economic freedoms and mobility. Let's all get together and tax the rich! We can make the poor better off by making the rich worse off!"

Art Laffer:
I did Jerry Brown's flat tax when he ran for president in 1992, we got rid of all federal taxes. You should look at every tax, not just income taxes. We got rid of the income taxes, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, employer and employee; we got rid of excise taxes, capital gains, estate taxes, tariffs. And the only ones we left were sin taxes, which are really small. And, in there, said we had two flat rates, one of business net sales, value added, and one on personal unadjusted gross income. If you did that at full employment, you could have a flat tax rate of 11.8 percent and have it statically revenue-neutral, that's it.
Under computational analysis (results from game theory, rational choice theory, decision theory), such a tax rate -- 11.8% -- is sustainable in a population of interacting participants for several dozens of reproductive generations, maybe even for as much as 1000 years. This is good, because the Eisenhower 54-56% "effective federal tax rates" twice touted by Reich in this debate would lead a population to extinction in less than a dozen generations (it would cause the collapse of our country in as little as one century). But like Obama, Reich doesn't seem to know or care about the impending doom entailing from the implementation of his own subjective sentiments.

If the initiation of force among humans happened to be moral, then Reich should be forced to wake up every day to a picture of the bodies of exterminated citizens piled up in ditches in the 20th century, under various collectivist regimes. He's not young enough to be ignorant of that socialism-caused genocide.

Glenn Hubbard:
I'm fond of an example that illustrates my worry with an image of the nation as a tall building with the bottom flooded out, the penthouse doing fine, and the elevator broken. We could throw rocks at the top or we could fix the elevator. I think most Americans make the latter choice viscerally. And to the points Art and I have made tonight, throwing rocks doesn't fix the elevator, and to torture the analogy, can't pay for it. We need to think about growth and fairness. The case for the proposition tonight is very strong. Tax rates should not rise. The rich are taxed enough.
A good closing metaphor to sum up what's at stake and how you fix it.


(Edited by Ed Thompson on 11/18, 8:14pm)

Post 21

Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 3:42pmSanction this postReply
Arthur Laffer: Robert, your president [Clinton], by the way, cut the capital gains rate dramatically
Huh? See here. The economic boom and stock market of the 1990's was fueled by the PC and Internet. The shrinking deficits during the Clinton years were due to taxes from realized capital gains (see the same link) and taxes on exercised employee stock options (ordinary income, so they don't appear among the numbers at the link).

Post 22

Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 8:30pmSanction this postReply

Your link does show that the capital gains tax rates decreased in 1997 under Clinton (from 25.5% to 21.7%) and that the max. rate on long-term capital gains dropped from 29.19% to 21.19% (a drop by almost a third). This seems to jive with what Laffer said. Also, you can see that when rates were dropped, more money came in revenue:

Rate = 25.5%
Revenue = $66 billion

Rate = 21.7%
Revenue = $79 billion

Rate = 19.6%
Revenue = $89 billion

Rate = 20.2%
Revenue = $111 billion

Rate = 19.8%
Revenue = $127 billion

In just 4 calender years, the revenue doubled.


Post 23

Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 9:37pmSanction this postReply
Ed, Merlin, I can't but help think that you are both right. All else remaining equal, revenues will increase if the tax rate decreases, or if an important sector of the economy starts booming from a major technological revolution.

And a decreasing capital gains rate occurring at the same time as the new technology starts coming on line would have a synergistic effect - raising revenues even more.

In addition, there was a lowering of demand for money (it wasn't being held tight like now, due to our current scary financial and political uncertainties).

Also interest rates were, I assume, closer to what a free market would have them at (Commercial paper, CDs, Treasuries, Corporate Bonds - all in the area of 5 - 7% from 1995 - 2000) and that gave a return on money (unlike now) that discouraged keeping it locked up in reserve accounts. Yet the cost of borrowing wasn't so high as to discourage expansion.

It was a fairly stable period - not just the interest rates, but it followed the long period where Reagan cleaned up much of the economic mess left by Carter, then Newt Gingrich used the "Contract with America" to usher in a relatively conservative Republican congress - temporarily - but long enough to put the break on the Clinton's move towards big spending.

Prosperity is the real source of strong revenues and that takes a certain amount of consumer, investor and producer confidence that economy isn't about to fall apart and that the political scene is reasonably stable. It also needs realistic interest rates, an absence of over-regulation, AND not having private money striped away through taxation so it isn't even available for consumption, investment, or production. But total taxation (local, state and federal) has increased while GDP has declined.

Post 24

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 4:06amSanction this postReply
Okay. I retract my "Huh?" (post 21). I believe I included it because I thought his comment was deficient in not mentioning the PC and Internet.

Also, link.

(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 11/19, 4:11am)

Post 25

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 1:51pmSanction this postReply
If any of you watched CNN this weekend, you saw the whole 'tax the rich' myth start to fall apart.

Now that this election is over, it is finally safe to admit that taxing the top 2% even at 100% of income isn't going to begin to right this sinking of state for more than 15 seconds...

Someone on CNN -finally showed a plot of the income distribution of income -- at each income level, the number of people earning that income times that income, IOW, the taxable pile of income -- and it showed what anyone with a lick of arithmetic already long knew. That pile of taxable income is piled up, as it must be, around AWI, a mountain of cash centered around 50,000/yr.

The reasons for this are pure arithmetic; if AWI is around 50,000/yr, and if this curve is bounded to the left by (0 x 0), then in order for AWI to be AWI, by the time you get to twice AWI, this pile of money is diving towards the X-axis.

By the time you get to 5x AWI (250,000/yr), you need to either change scales or draw with a crayon to not simply be drawing on the X-Axis. The fed is -already' squeezing that part of the curve for all its worth, and that huge mountain of taxable income hovered around AWI has not lost their attention...

This illustrates what the government has long known, that the pile of taxable money in the nation is centered around AWI. This is why we have a near 15% payroll tax.

That The Middle Class thinks all of these pipedreams are going to be paid for by 'taxing the rich' is an indication only of the math illiteracy of that portion of the Middle Class that believes that. They sold their vote -- cheap -- and now that they did, the other shoe is slowly going to be dropped; they are about to get fleeced, and the 'Your Money' segment on CNN this weekend is finally starting to break the bad news.

They think they are going to be riding the backs of folks earning 250,000/yr and more; they are about to learn that this precedent they just gleefully set is about to be used to divide those making more than 50,000/yr from those earning less, and they will have no basis to argue against the same logic they just gleefully signed up for.

The difference is, the Middle Class will rely on some random at HR Block to save their chestnuts, not CPAs, tax attorneys, and paid consultants.

But they will have largely done it to themselves, so this defines the new 'social justice.'
(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 11/19, 1:54pm)

Post 26

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 3:59pmSanction this postReply


Do you have a webpage for this CNN story?

I'm not sure I follow your argument, at least the numbers. For example, the page I linked in post 11 shows the following numbers for 2009:
top 1% top 5%
cut-off $343,927 $154,643
AGI (billions) $1326 $2482
tax rate .2401 .2046

Simplistically, raising the tax rate by 5% on the top 1% or 5% would raise tax revenues and reduce the federal deficit by $66 or $124 billion. Or are you just saying tax rates would have to be raised on people with incomes much less than $250,000 in order to significantly raise taxes and reduce the deficit?
(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 11/20, 4:39am)

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Post 27

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 4:17pmSanction this postReply

For sure, AWI is not AGI, and what that implies is, a redirection of investment from private to public hands. Curt Schilling's Studio 38, Solyndra, and Volt, and so on. America's version of the Soviet Union.

But even take your own numbers, and look at AGI:

Top 5%(which I assume includes the top 1%)

= 2.5T dollars, of which the fed is already taking 20%.

So, tax it all -- exactly once -- at 100%, and confiscate an additional $2T dollars.

Once. Guaranteed, that is a non-renewing source of revenue at that level of taxation, unless we can find enough stupid high income people who are yet willing to prepay their own ransom every year.

What are we going to tax next year?

We're not at Huey Long levels of confiscation. Yet. But we are fast approaching the need.

And our well on our way to 20's Germany nation will no doubt try that.


And the need to feed the beast will hardly be sated, not when it is -currently- burning through $6T in added debt every four years. So, no-- a one time 100% tax on the top 5%, which will buy the nation an additional $2T, will hardly stem the bleeding at the rate it needs to be stemmed. The government is going to speed by 'the top 5%' so fast it will make our heads spin.

100% tax on 'the rich' a little too extreme to believe?

OK, suppose they 'only' increased the current take from 20% of 2.5T to 80% of 2.5T. That would keep the government off the backs of the middle class for an additional 1.5T worth of breathing space, or ... not even one year of deficit, much less, actual debt reduction.

Do you see the government effectively taxing at anywhere near 80%?

And as the government slides down that slope with its insatiable, gaping maw open, they need ever larger chunks of what's left to make the exploding numbers work.

In no time -- in our lifetime -- we will see the spectacle of the government pitting those who earn more than 50,000/yr (AWI) against those who earn less than 50000/yr, using the precise same arguments, as long as they have succeeded in driving most of the US population under 50,000/yr.

Because, this insatiable pig is going to irrationally cling to the gig until the bitter end, screaming 'more' the whole way.

At some point the math is going to be obvious even to the rats on the sinking ship.

Rudman passed away. Here is a quote:

The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act was approved in 1985. It was designed to end federal deficits by 1991 and required automatic spending cuts if annual deficit targets were missed.

Congress rolled back the timetable each year, and the 1991 budget that was supposed to be balanced carried the second-highest deficit in history. In 1995, 10 years after the law went on the books, Rudman lamented what could have been.

"Had we stuck to that plan, had the Congress not failed to follow it through in fact, had presidents not failed to follow through we would not be where we are today," Rudman said.

We waiting for a fiscal cliff avoiding deal in DC? What would it possible mean? They can't 'deal' away what has long already been done.

They can ask for trillions in more taxes...every year forever. They can talk about cutting spending ... maybe over ten years, just like the above lament from Rudman.

We are dealing with insatiable crack addicts. Are we surprised that their answer to every crisis is 'More Crack?'

Post 28

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 4:34pmSanction this postReply

Huh? See here. The economic boom and stock market of the 1990's was fueled by the PC and Internet. The shrinking deficits during the Clinton years were due to taxes from realized capital gains (see the same link) and taxes on exercised employee stock options (ordinary income, so they don't appear among the numbers at the link).

Clinton did what anyone would have done in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War; he simply leveled off the Reagan era defense increases in spending and held defense spending constant. The economies kept growing, in fact, accelerated by the decrease in wasteful defense spending, the marginal utility of that last '100 billion' or so not quite as impactful as the first.

The economies grew for the reasons you claim but government did not because of the leveled defense spending; the result was surplus.

According to Dr. Laura D'ANdrea Tyson, Ucal/Berkley talk, Nov 1997, available for free on C-SPan video.


More important is her admission of the efficacy of raising taxes on those who earn more than 250,000

'Not enough of them...the numbers just don't begin to explain the surplus.'

Also, great question at the end about 8.9:1 quintile ratio of incomes in America(when a perfectly uniform distribution of incomes would result in exactly 9:1!!!!)


Post 29

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 5:19pmSanction this postReply
How soon we forget...

I went back and listened to some of that talk again.

Who remembers Clinton's 'Stimulus Package' in 1993?

At the time, it was argued that it was necessary to keep the economy from sliding back into recession...

It failed to pass, it never happened. And the economies grew...

Revenues to the government increased dramatically...far beyond what could be accounted for by increased on those who made more than 250000/yr...

... defense spending leveled. Government spending was less than it would have been under the original trajectories of the Reagan defense increase...and the economies breathed.

Compare this to Obama's 'recovery.' Stimulus a plenty...and the economies have faltered, staggering under the overhead of a profligate government bleeding the nation dry.

The excerpt at 52:00 is outstanding...

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 11/20, 5:26pm)

Post 30

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 5:38pmSanction this postReply

Here is the link to the CNN story from this weekend.


Loving it...on CNN, no less.


Post 31

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 6:51pmSanction this postReply
Great point made on CNN... I will look up the source and credit the author later(Credit: Will Cain)

Costs have significantly outpaced inflation primarily in three areas:

health care

... the three areas of the economies that the government has inserted itself into the most with subsidies.

In all other areas, the free market has succeeded in maintaining costs below inflation.


(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 11/20, 6:52pm)

Post 32

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 5:57amSanction this postReply
Fred, thanks for the CNN link. I see its focus was on the debt and long run. Of course, reducing it can't be done only by raising taxes on incomes over $250,000.

Post 33

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 10:11amSanction this postReply

Exactly. And there is no such thing as 'debt reduction' without 'deficit elimination.' As long as we have a deficit, the debt will continue to grow. And we are not -close- to eliminating the deficit via either 'taxes on the rich' or reductions in spending. They couldn't agree on $40B in cuts in an almost $4000B budget...1%.

We could take a dent out of the deficit for one year -- exactly once -- by taxing 100% of the top not 1%, but top 5%. For exactly one year. Once. Never again. So... then what? What happens in year two? What slice of percentile is now necessary to eat to make up the deficit? The tyranny of magnitude guarantees that it is greater than the -new- top 5%. The terminus of that calculus is clear, and moot, because nobody is ever going to attempt a 100% tax on anybody, it is ludicrous. And so, as it must, that swipe must slide inexorably lower at a faster rate(since growth of spending is unchecked, and revenues are as stalled as our economies, precisely because of this bloated public spending overhead.) Greece; not if, but when.

So, all this talk about either is squarely going to impact the middle class, and the charlatans have been obviously lying through their teeth to cling to power.


Post 34

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 12:30pmSanction this postReply
Ed, re your post #1:

"Instead of seeing America for what it is -- the first truly-moral country on Earth"

I would disagree with this wording, albeit for completely different reasons than leftists. Here's how I would rephrase it:

"Instead of seeing America for what it is -- a collection of sovereign states that was set up to be far more moral than any nation on Earth, and despite the best efforts of both left- and right-statists to undermine that and turn it into a country with some weak not-particularly-sovereign states, arguably this collection of states is still, just barely, overall more moral that any nation on Earth."

Note that the U.S. was not originally set up to be a country in the Articles of Confederation, which IMO is more moral than the Constitution that replaced it as the first step in undermining what the colonists fought a revolution to establish -- the profound difference between "The United States" and "These United States".

Also, note my strong disagreement with your use of the present tense "is" when referring to "truly-moral". Not sure if that was your intent -- if so, I can list a loooong set of recent actions by the federal government that would argue against that present tense useage, starting with the TSA.

Post 35

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 6:50pmSanction this postReply
Here's how I would rephrase it:

"Instead of seeing America for what it is -- a collection of sovereign states that was set up to be far more moral than any nation on Earth, and despite the best efforts of both left- and right-statists to undermine that and turn it into a country with some weak not-particularly-sovereign states, arguably this collection of states is still, just barely, overall more moral that any nation on Earth."
You caught me being colloquial, but you countered me by going "full-pedant" (your interpretation took almost 3 lines of text). I see your 'pedantic' and I raise you two 'colloquials.' Seriously now, I do agree with you. It isn't literally true to say the US was or is fully moral. But, then again, this isn't literally true of any collection of things, circumscribed by some kind of a border. Let's compromise. How about I change my statement to the following, and solicit your approval?"

The founding document: The Declaration of Independence was the first truly-moral 'founding document' of any country on planet earth.

There. Would you agree with that?

the profound difference between "The United States" and "These United States".
A subtle, yet important, distinction. I had never thought of this like that before.

Also, note my strong disagreement with your use of the present tense "is" when referring to "truly-moral". Not sure if that was your intent ...
No, I was just being sloppy (colloquial) again. I agree with your example of the TSA, which fits in with Obama's caught-on-YouTube clarion call for non-military, brown-shirted 'troops' in order to make sure that various 'good things' get accomplished via the use of force against 'otherwise innocent and lawful' citizen-subjects.


Post 36

Friday, November 23, 2012 - 7:24amSanction this postReply
the profound difference between "The United States" and "These United States".

Exactly. "United We Stand" is not "United It Stands."

We unite for the right to be a plurality. One nation of societies, plural, freely formed under an umbrella that defends free association and defends against forced association.

We on occasion mob up for a very specific goal: for the right to be free from each other, except under rules of free association.

I'd die to let my kids live in -that- nation. And earlier generations did.

Today that battle is internal, and seldom since its founding has freedom been so at risk in this nation.


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