Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shifting Demographics Explain the "Hollowing Out"


In a post earlier this week, I featured a recent Pew Research Center report that presented data on the changing distribution of income in the U.S. between 1971 and 2011.  In 1971, Pew calculated that 25% of U.S. adults were in the “lower income” category, but by 2011 the share of “lower income” Americans had increased to 29% (see chart above).  During that period, the percentage of “middle income” Americans decreased from 61% to 51%, leading Pew to conclude that “The hollowing of the middle -income tier has been a steady and virtually uninterrupted process over the past four decades.”
 
Importantly though, there were very significant demographic changes that took place over that forty year period that could help explain the shifting distribution of income.  For example, consider three groups of Americans that would likely be overrepresented in the “low income” category relative to their share of the U.S. population: a) immigrants, b) older Americans, and c) young Americans in college.  How have those groups changed over time?

1.  In 1970, immigrants accounted for only 4.7% of the U.S. population, but the immigrant share of today’s population is 12.5%.

2. The percentage of Americans aged 65 or older in 1975 was 10.5 percent, but had risen to 13.1 percent by 2011.

3. The number of students enrolled at an institution of higher education increased from 4.2 percent of the total population in 1970 to 6.6 percent of the total population in 2009.

Over the 40-year period between 1971 and 2011, the number of immigrants, older people, and college students have all increased relative to the total population, and those groups would naturally be expected to have lower-than-average incomes.  The changing demographics could therefore help explain Pew’s conclusion that “… from 1971 to 2011, the U.S. adult population has become more economically polarized with relatively more in the top and the bottom tiers, and fewer in the middle.”

Bottom Line: What Pew calls “economic polarization” might alternatively be described simply as changes in demographics over time.  Compared to 1970, we now have more immigrants, more older Americans, and more young Americans in college as a share of the population, and that could help explain the “hollowing out” of the middle class and the increase in Americans with low incomes.  Pew’s rather gloomy conclusion is that the middle class is shrinking and “falling backward in income and wealth.”  But perhaps it’s more the case that shifting demographics and longer life expectancy over the last forty years can explain what is likely just a natural increase in the percentage of Americans classified as “low-income.”

HT: Colin Grabow

111 Comments:

At 8/30/2012 3:10 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

As a sports guy, I find Sowell's explination rather easy to understand

 
At 8/30/2012 4:06 PM, Blogger kmg said...

The best way to hollow out the middle class is for the government to incentivize single motherhood among women by buying their votes with single-mother subsidies.

That is what it has done. This replaces the middle class with a new underclass that votes for big government.

This is in line with the Cloward-Piven strategy.

 
At 8/30/2012 4:17 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Nah, we're just getting poorer.

If you go to Censusdotgov

And go to median/mean by family size

You will see that the Median 4 person household lost 6.6% of its income, in constant dollars, between 2007 and 2010.

 
At 8/30/2012 4:20 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

The best way I can think of to increase "single motherhood" is to elect some old republican that's "anti all types of birthcontrol, and right to choose."

 
At 8/30/2012 4:22 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

What if the Pew folks released a Distribution by Income study every year of the last decade?

The conclusions almost every year might include the following language:

If the current administration wants to avoid a growing poverty percentage, then it is recommended that growing illegal immigration be arrested.

 
At 8/30/2012 4:22 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Huh.

Already four responses and one of them is readable.

 
At 8/30/2012 4:26 PM, Blogger Moe said...

The best way to hollow out the middle class is for corporations to send jobs overseas to save money. It's OK though, they appear to be trickling back home.

 
At 8/30/2012 4:47 PM, Blogger Dude said...

It takes about 15 years to see a significant change due to the economic policies of a president. Obama was not president then, so why are you asking people if he is to blame? You need to ask about Clinton. He was president then.

 
At 8/30/2012 4:47 PM, Blogger Dude said...

It takes about 15 years to see a significant change due to the economic policies of a president. Obama was not president then, so why are you asking people if he is to blame? You need to ask about Clinton. He was president then.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:03 PM, Blogger marmico said...

2. The percentage of Americans aged 65 or older in 1975 was 10.5 percent, but had risen to 13.1 percent by 2011.

The 65+ cohort has seen the largest mean income growth. So that demographic does not explain the PEW study "hollowing out".

However, education enrollment does correlate with the least mean income growth for the 15-24 cohort.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:13 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

The 65+ cohort has seen the largest mean income growth. So that demographic does not explain the PEW study "hollowing out"

Sure it does. That group is represented in the growth of the upper income group from 14% in 1971 to 20% in 2011. It's just "hollowing out" the middle class by moving into a higher income group.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:17 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Wow, Rufus.
That is some staggering information. So, you're saying that median income dropped during biggest recession in decades? Knock me over with a feather.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:18 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " The best way I can think of to increase "single motherhood" is to elect some old republican that's "anti all types of birthcontrol, and right to choose.""

indeed.

The earned income child tax is a govt subsidy to low income folks who have kids and many of them are single mothers.

I'm not sure they were ever destined to be middle class but they do constitute a significant demographic that receive govt assistance, ..er.. I mean thievery from responsible hard-working folks (is that better? ) :-)

A single mom earning 25K a year with 3 kids gets a significant tax refund - all of her withholding plus more... and she likely receives other public assistance, including MedicAid, food stamps and reduce/free lunches for her kids.

but if she wanted an abortion - the govt won't pay for it - even the govt pays for everything else downstream....and now it looks like we'd put the mom in jail and take the kids and put them in a govt facility...

lord.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:26 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Yes, Larry.
I remember the 8 years of Reagan, 4 of Bush and 8 of W, when women weren't allowed to get birth control or abortions. Total stone age.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:29 PM, Blogger kmg said...

The best way I can think of to increase "single motherhood" is to elect some old republican that's "anti all types of birthcontrol, and right to choose."

You're pathetic.

Single motherhood was 5% in 1960, it is 41% now, due to the lefty welfare state.

Plus, 'social conservatives' are just leftists who happen to reside in the Republican party, on account of having a thin veneer of religion over them.

Lastly, you clearly don't think men should have any reproductive choice at all. Her body, HER choice. His wallet and parental rights, HER choice..

 
At 8/30/2012 5:31 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " Her body, HER choice. His wallet and parental rights, HER choice.. "

and she gets the govt benefits. right?

 
At 8/30/2012 5:52 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Well, Larry, that is a bit of a tricky question. I suppose if the woman lives in one of these states that pay through Medicaid but chooses not to get the free help...
http://www.fundabortionnow.org/get-help/medicaid

AND doesn't want to take the free assistance to pay for an abortion through these (dozens and dozens of) abortion funding groups.

http://www.fundabortionnow.org/get-help

And doesn't want to use these funds...

http://www.prochoice.org/

or these...

http://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/public-funding-abortion

Yes, the government will probably have to pay this leech and her kids.

 
At 8/30/2012 5:56 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Yes, the government will probably have to pay this leech and her kids"

isn't that downright neat?

;-)

 
At 8/30/2012 6:04 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Ya, Larry, I'm the bad guy who takes no responsibility and then demand that others work to support me. I think it's fine that you don't agree with me. Why don't you be a swell guy and do what you think is right, just leave me out of it.

I give a ton of money every year to charities that I believe in (one that shouldn't exist - but does because the government is busy paying for worthless douchebaggery instead of taking care of the men and women it destroys in military conflict) but I'm not about to try to force you to pony up.

 
At 8/30/2012 7:45 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The rich are getting richer far faster than the working class is getting richer. Thise who are on some kind of charitable support are not getting richer at all.

Some of the money rich people get comes from profit from those that work for them: nothing wrong with that. Some of the money rich people get comes from the profit due to products working people buy from them: nothing wriing eith that, either.

But there will come a time when the percentage of wealth held by a few is so large that it cannot be expanded easily. As long as a greater percentage of the total wealth held by a few continues to increase, we will continnue on that path.

Eventually it will stop, and the only question is how and when.

Yeah yeah i know, the pie is getting bigger.

 
At 8/30/2012 7:49 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Single motherhoiod is higher for many reasons, not just the welfare state. I know of two young female engineers who simply decided to become single moms. No welfare involved.

 
At 8/30/2012 7:53 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Isnt the upper income group always 20%? The issue is how much more than 20% of the money they have and how fast that share is growing.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:03 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: single moms and the earned income credit - tops out at about 42k.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:04 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Single motherhood directly correlates to the size of government. This is blindingly obvious.

I know of two young female engineers who simply decided to become single moms. No welfare involved.

Hogwash. They are receiving 'child support' from the father, even while blocking him from access to his own children. This would not be possible without the Bradley Amendment, and other brutal laws designed to increase single motherhood.

You don't know enough about the subject.

Lastly, I doubt you would be willing to allow men to become single fathers by choice. Here is a Canadian man, Toban Morrison, who hired a surrogate to do just that :

http://photogallery.thestar.com/1038282

Gasp!! He bypassed a woman!

I see you want 'choice' for women, but not for men (even though the man is not using govt. funds, unlike most women). How sexist..

 
At 8/30/2012 8:07 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Hydra, you claim to be a rocket scientist?

Wealth is concentrated in the hands of people who can hold it. Resources are organized by the people who can best organize them. And that group of people will always be a small percentage of the population which is constantly changing and constantly under pressure from competition. In a free market with few barriers to entry, nothing stops people new wealth from being created and making poor kids working in their parents' garage on a great idea from becoming rich. And that's why the vast majority of millionaires in the United States didn't start out wealthy or even well off. There is nothing unsustainable about that.

Your Marxian vision is conveniently simplistic, but like all simplistic visions, it is also inane.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:07 PM, Blogger kmg said...

and she gets the govt benefits. right?

Yes. Either direct welfare, or ridiculous laws that force a man to pay 65% of his income to a woman, without either a) any right to have contact with his kid, and b) the woman has no accountability on whether she spent the money on the child or not.

Note that it is always a percentage of income, not any fixed amount. It is well-designed to transfer money from men to women while using the child as a cosmetic veneer.

I will say that big-govt. Republicans are just as much at fault for this as Democrats.

Single motherhood would not be possible at all without a large government. That is why it didn't exist in 1970, and also why it does not exist in other prosperous countries that do not have a myriad of ways to transfer wealth from men to women without accountability.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:11 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Hogwash. They are receiving 'child support' from the father, even while blocking him from access to his own children.....
You don't know enough about the subject.


Interesting. And how is it that you know with such certainty they didn't use a sperm bank?

 
At 8/30/2012 8:25 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

No. No money from the fathers. Sperm bank. These are successful young women who need no welfare.

Besides, if there were fathers and they contributed, that would no more be welfare than the support any father givrs his child.

The fact remains that there are many causes of the increase in single motherhood, including a few war widows. The claim that it is solely due to the meagre support provided is unsupported.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:27 PM, Blogger hancke said...

I can appreciate using Census data for demographics but why use it for income data when we have hard data from the IRS? How many people are going to give an accurate answer on their income when asked?

The Pew report mentions a Treasury income mobility study for the years 1996-2005 that uses hard data to track individual people over 10 years. Unfortunately the Pew report does not use this data at all.

It's bad enough that the Census, which includes illegal aliens, determines congressional redistricting, now they use it to make a case for wealth redistribution.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:31 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Single motherhood would not be possible at all without big government?

Thats a joke, right? Try telling that to the many species of animals in which the mother rears the young alone. The only difference is that humans are a little more civilized.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:36 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: census data.. well the census just produces data... others use it... sometimes not appropriately.

re: single women/kids

yup... there are a LOT of kids to single moms in places where there is NO welfare at all...

 
At 8/30/2012 8:36 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

From a policy standpoint, what happens to individuals is not all tthat important. What matters is if the economic engine becomes so unbalanced thatit runs rough, in which case no one benefits.

 
At 8/30/2012 8:45 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

I also know a woman who has three children by thhree fathers. She sued each one individually and got roughly a third of their income from each ( not 65%). She then moved away to a much less exoensive area. The fathers have little or no contact wiith the kids. She basically retired at full pay at 32 and took on a live in boy friend.

The fathers of her children were stupid. Caveat emotor. They knew the rules and took the risks anyway. You dont feel sorry for anyone else who made a bad ivestment, why is this one different?

 
At 8/30/2012 9:23 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Wealth accues or concentrates to those who can gain and keep it. That is an inane truism that i wont argue with.

All i said was that said concentratiin cannot contine indefinitely. If i mix up a batch of tnt or peroxide and start conncentrating it, then it will eventually become unstable. I learned that back when i worked in rocket science.

What i learned since then is that the most important rules of economics are the ones primarily driven by thermodynamics. Greed is a manifestion of our dislike for doing work, or efficiecy is a reslut of our desire to get the most out of the work we do... take your pick.

 
At 8/30/2012 9:28 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

You have a box with an engine in it. The job of the engine is to pump energy from one side of the box to the otherand to make the box bigger so it can absorb more energy from the outside.

If the engine does too much of one job or the other one then the system becomes unstable.

 
At 8/30/2012 10:00 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

And then there are places where the authorities kill women who become pregnant without a husband.

Even that is insufficient from keeping it from happening.

Yep, it is all the fault of big government.

 
At 8/30/2012 10:02 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

honor killings and how many beheaded for listening to music the other day?

nope. govt is the evil for sure.

 
At 8/30/2012 10:52 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Religion is another form of government. It is a borderless state we move to voluntarily, be cause we have an affinity for others that believe as we do.

Then through a hierarchical form of representative central government, which is expressly designef with its multiple layers to insulate those at the top from those that paythe taxes, we hire a bunch
of pooh bahs to tell us what to believe.

Should we refuse to sign the pledge of loyalty we will be excommunicated from the republican party.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:15 AM, Blogger kmg said...

Methinks,

And how is it that you know with such certainty they didn't use a sperm bank?

Because he said they are not on welfare. A sperm bank does not attach payments to the biological father (I know, I am a sperm donor at a major bank).

But it is possible that Hydra's friends lied to him about not being on welfare.

Only two possibilities exist :

i) The woman got pregnant with a man, and is taking money from him (he now lives the next 21 years of his life in poverty under constant threat of imprisonment, and may or may not be allowed by the woman to have contact with his own children).

OR

2) Sperm bank, in which case there is welfare or some other govt. handout. As women in engineering jobs, we have to count the vast Affirmative Action they receive as a form of government welfare that intervenes in free market forces on their behalf.

I hope no one reading this blog fails to see what results from Affirmative Action.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:16 AM, Blogger kmg said...

Hydra,

Thats a joke, right? Try telling that to the many species of animals in which the mother rears the young alone.

We are talking about human societies, your moron.

Anyway, the fact that you had to go to non-human species shows you were totally stumped by the main point.

What did Herman Cain say? Oh yes..

They SIN :

Shift the Debate, the 'S' in Sin, is what Hydra attempted to do (and failed).

 
At 8/31/2012 12:20 AM, Blogger kmg said...

Hydra,

I also know a woman who has three children by thhree fathers. She sued each one individually and got roughly a third of their income from each ( not 65%). She then moved away to a much less exoensive area. The fathers have little or no contact wiith the kids. She basically retired at full pay at 32 and took on a live in boy friend.

OK. I would call this a huge injustice.

You say the man was stupid and the woman has a right to do this to them.

By your logic, you should strongly approve of Toban Morrison : The Canadian man who hired a surrogate and became a dad, thus avoiding exactly the risk you outlined :

http://photogallery.thestar.com/1038282

So, do you approve of Toban Morrison's decision? Would you not mind it if a large number of younger men took this route (given that you and I both agree on at least what *can happen* to a man under the law).

 
At 8/31/2012 12:22 AM, Blogger kmg said...

Hydra says :

They knew the rules and took the risks anyway.

It see it you think that all laws are fair. You might have said this about slavery right up to the last day before the Civil War ended.

Surely, others reading this (perhaps not Hydra) recognize that a society that strongly disincentivizes men from becoming family men, is courting trouble.

Surely people who grasp incentives realize that if Western society makes it unattractive for men to marry and have children (given the situation Hydra described), Western society will deservedly die..

 
At 8/31/2012 12:44 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

um....Larry....

You do know that they were beheaded by the Taliban who WERE the government before the U.S. became permanently stationed there? Afghanistan had a virtue and vice ministry, as does Iran. If, for instance, women aren't dressed to the satisfaction of one of these jackbooted thugs, they will find the nozzle of an assault rifle in their face as the thug berates her. If still unsatisfied, he just kills her.

You do know that Saudi GOVERNMENT courts condemn people to stoning for being accused of but never proven to have had any contact with members of the opposite sex while unchaperoned? They are buried up to their neck and then stoned to death.

Shall we get into the governments of North Korea, China, the USSR?

Oh no. We don't have to go that far from home.

FDR imprisoned people of Japanese descent for no crime greater than being of Japanese descent. Without so much as a pretense at due process.

FDR stole gold from peaceful American citizens, tried to prevent small businesses from operating and coaxed Japan to attack the U.S.

And how many presidents have, for nothing more important than self-glorification, sent millions of men to face death and maiming in foreign wars as those who remained were forced to pay for these adventures?

And we've only scratched the surface.

Yeah, government is wonderful....if the alternative is getting obliterated by an asteroid.

 
At 8/31/2012 1:07 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Oh, I see, KMG.

1.) Women are never hired for any reason other than affirmative action.

2.) A professional colleague of Hydra's who is an engineer qualifies for welfare despite her relatively high salary. Probably because she is a woman...you know how it is. Them bitches know how to work the system.

3.) Women who are, for instance, successful entrepreneurs who got no special favours from anyone are urban legends. They don't exist.

4.) Without government and men to sustain them, women couldn't exist at all.

I think I have a clear image of the fuzzy picture now.

 
At 8/31/2012 5:18 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

I would not call the Taliban - government.

they are tribal thugs who self-organized to control other people.

so are most of the other "leaders" in the Middle East especially the ones with the title "Royal" in their names.

 
At 8/31/2012 7:13 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

they are tribal thugs who self-organized to control other people.

It's funny how you wouldn't call them a "government" in the first sentence and then describe them as a government in the next.

 
At 8/31/2012 8:02 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

well.. there is "govt" and there is "govt".

the kind you can elect, though far from perfect, is far better, than the kind that you cannot and still rules you.

you guys support the later kind by your refusal to support the former.

 
At 8/31/2012 8:47 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Hydra: "Single motherhoiod is higher for many reasons, not just the welfare state"

I do not often agree with you, but I do agree with this staatement.

 
At 8/31/2012 8:56 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

KMG: "Single motherhood directly correlates to the size of government."

Correlation does not imply causation.

I agree that government social spending has made it easier for many women to raise children in a single adult household. But that's not the only cause.

The liberation of women - the acceptance of females into previously male-dominated professions - has been equally important in enabling the rise of single adult households.

Younger folks may take it for granted that women can function well as engineers, physicians, business executives, and computer programmers. Fifty years ago, most high-paying professional occupations were unavailable to women due to cultural norms.

 
At 8/31/2012 8:59 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

I see the appeal, Larry. When you can choose the abusive thug, you can at least maintain the illusion of control.

Never let the tragic be the enemy of the merely heinous.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:04 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

I think you guys are funny.

the best chance for true free market economies exist in 3rd world countries but you guys say that EVERY ONE of them is run by thugs...

but then you say that ours is run by thugs also

but you apparently like our version of thuggery better, eh?

ya'll are downright comical on this issue.

if you take away formal govt, you also get thuggery - like the kind you see in Somalia.

I'll wager to you that the free market in a place like Somalia if much more free than in this country yet none of you folks hold it (or others like it) up as a model to emulate - because you say it is riddled with corruption, crime, and thuggery.

so what gives?

do you have a country model that is not operated by thuggery?

 
At 8/31/2012 9:08 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

kmg: "Single motherhood would not be possible at all without a large government."

What an amazingly uninformed statement!

 
At 8/31/2012 9:10 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Larry G,

Does anyone who comments here advocate the elimination of government? Protection of property rights and apprehension of criminals is pretty much accepted by everyone as legitimate goverment functions.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:12 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Right you are, Jet.

I did a little externship with Merrill Lynch's retail brokerage to check it out when I was in college.

At the end of the week, the branch manager took me aside and explained to me that "this is no business for a young lady."

Once on Wall Street, one of my bosses found it within him to daily complain about the inadequacies of women. We couldn't do math, in his opinion. My next report to him, which was always quantitative, consisted almost entirely of equations . He stared at it helplessly and when his bewildered gaze settled on me, I asked "What's the matter? Don't you know math?". I never heard about women and math again. Imagine devoting energy to a long series of similar.

That's how we dealt with it and the generation before mine had to waste even more time deflecting even more nonsense.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:15 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Does anyone who comments here advocate the elimination of government? Protection of property rights and apprehension of criminals is pretty much accepted by everyone as legitimate goverment functions."

actually they tread close to the line at times.

what they say they want - is the level of govt you'd see in a 3rd world country but they won't say that straight up because in the same breath they say there is not a 3rd world country in the world that is not run by thugs and riddled with corruption and intimidation.

I asked and still ask - name a country that fulfills the idea of true small govt - that is a place that you'd want to live and run a business.

Nope.

they want to take THIS country and essentially drive it back to a 3rd world type govt but without the "thuggery", eh?

:-)

 
At 8/31/2012 9:17 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: womens role in society, govt and business..

yup.. that's why you should vote Republican Methinks.. they'll take care of you!

:-)

 
At 8/31/2012 9:17 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Oh, we're back to Somalia. How lovely.

Larry, people who seek power over others will always be thugs. That's the sort attracted to power. It is important to remember that when you consider to giving them more power.

The lesson in this is that they should be stripped of all but the bear minimum in order for you to remain free.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:18 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

yup.. that's why you should vote Republican Methinks.. they'll take care of you!

I find the deaf ears problem hasn't been remedied.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:26 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

or would you do better in those Middle East countries with "minimal" government?

:-)

 
At 8/31/2012 9:34 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Of course not, Larry. Who would monitor virtue and vice?

 
At 8/31/2012 9:36 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " Who would monitor virtue and vice?"

well those countries, the local cleric, right?

And he'd ride herd especially vigilantly for you brazen hussy types, eh?


 
At 8/31/2012 9:53 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Larry G: "what they say they want - is the level of govt you'd see in a 3rd world country but they won't say that straight up "

No, Larry. "They" do not say that at all. You have misunderstood what the libertarians who comment here have argued.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:58 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" No, Larry. "They" do not say that at all. You have misunderstood what the libertarians who comment here have argued"

Okay Jet, how about summarizing what the Libertarians say...

thanks.

 
At 8/31/2012 10:14 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Larry,

David Boaz summarize the libertarian view far better than I can:

"Libertarians are not 'anti-government'. Libertarians support limited, constitutional government—limited not just in size but, of far greater importance, in the scope of its powers."

 
At 8/31/2012 10:16 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

okay Jet - are there any countries in the world that meet that definition?

what are the ones that are closest?

thanks

 
At 8/31/2012 10:53 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Larry, c'mon. You know I like you, but this is really a tried, old argument that really makes no sense. "It cannot exist because it doesn't exist?" I mean, is that really better than "God must exist because you cannot prove He doesn't exist?" No. It is not. Neither proves the conclusion drawn.

If you want to make a principled factual argument against limited government, than please do. But by saying "it cannot work because it does not exist" is a cliche at this point.

 
At 8/31/2012 11:16 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

Hey Jon!

but can there no examples of all in existence?

we're not talking about GOD here, we're talking about government on a planet with 200 existing versions of it.

Are NONE of those 200 even remotely close to the model that we seek?

My view is if you cannot find anything close..you might (and I stress "might" ) be looking for something that does not exist for a good reason.

Okay.. some what makes me "tired" is the continual anti-govt ranting without a real purpose or goal; some here call ANY level of taxation or regulation - thievery and thuggery.

right?

 
At 8/31/2012 11:27 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

but can there no examples of all in existence?

New Hampshire is an example. We have a fairly limited government (not perfect, but pretty good).

I do agree with you, though, on the tired old "taxation is thievery" thing. That is more rhetoric than anything else.

 
At 8/31/2012 11:28 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I have more to comment, but lunch is here :-)

 
At 8/31/2012 12:14 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:17 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

the us from 1776 to the 1930's was a pretty good example (assuming you were a white male. it was a very libertarian system, just not inclusive enough.)

us federal budgets were 2% of gdp under coolidge.

regulation and federal intrusion was low.

like any ideal, you never see a perfect example. democracy, liberty, rights, fairness, justice, etc can all only be approached asymptotically, but that's no reason not to try.

this is why logical fallacies like appeal to practice are meaningless when discussing ideals.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:21 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

well we're not looking for perfect - just some examples that are better than others.

trying to re-do the US govt into something of which there are no existing examples sounds pretty iffy to me.

it sounds like an experiment of which we have no idea of how it will really turn out - unintended consequences, etc.

I still think the BEST candidates for small govt are the countries that do not already have big govt.

You'd have a chance to keep them small and then improve the free market parts.

the fact that virtually all of those small govt countries are said to be beyond help - that they are "bad" countries seems to me to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When you look at the Heritage ranking of Economic Freedom - the top 20 are all big (intrusive) govt countries and the small govt countries all have serious downsides.

why would we think, given the realities that small govt actually "works"?



 
At 8/31/2012 12:37 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

One could also make the argument for Brazil, although they are something of an enigma.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:42 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

Jon - for the sake of debate..

would you EXCLUDE any country that provides Universal Health Care from your list of potential small govt countries?

 
At 8/31/2012 12:51 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

would you EXCLUDE any country that provides Universal Health Care from your list of potential small govt countries?

Depends. If that is just one of only a handful of government actions, then no. However, if there are many many other government forays into the economic and social lives of the people, then yes.

So, no, universal health care would not be an automatic dis-qualifier for me.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:56 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Outside of a "police state" kind of activity, like universal servalience or systematic suppression of free speech, I am not sure that any single action would be a dis-qualifier for me.

 
At 8/31/2012 12:59 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

thanks Jon... good answer!

;-)

 
At 8/31/2012 1:02 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I know there are those who will disagree with me, but to me, big government and small government are kind of like pornography: I can't describe it but I know it when I see it.

 
At 8/31/2012 1:28 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"....the kind you can elect, though far from perfect, is far better, than the kind that you cannot and still rules you.
you guys support the later kind by your refusal to support the former....."

It's hard to believe, Larry, but after all the time and conversations. The complicated questions and very thoughtful answers we've all read and discussed here for so long....you may be less thoughtful and complicated than you were when you first stated joining the debate. It's sad, really.

It's hard for me to imagine that you could be this willfully ignorant to the philosophy discussed. Please tell me that you're just a troll so I can have my faith restored.

 
At 8/31/2012 1:31 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

that's a straw man argument.

we have already done it. you are arguing that doing something that has been done before is impossible somehow?

what better proof do you need that it can be done than the fact that it already has?

what is your irrepressible attraction to the "appeal to practice" logical fallacy?

basing a government on inalienable individual rights had never been tried before either.

please, of all our sakes, read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition

you commit this same fallacy over and over. it's literally your primary debate tactic. read the examples and the rebuttals until you understand how this works.

the argument that "no one does it, so it cannot be done/is not a good idea/etc" is not a valid argument in any way.

you could have argued against abolishing slavery, granting women's suffrage, instituting democracy, basing government on rights, or any other innovation (including universal healthcare and social security or even government regulation) using this same fallacy.

that's why it's a fallacy.

you then trot out the same terrible straw man you always do by tryign to equate failed states with "small government".

you must know that is nonsense.

somolia (methink's favorite!) is not an example of libertarian government. it's an example of a failed state. the government there does not protect the rights of the individual. that is THE key issue in a successful libertarian state.

you need enough government to protect the rights of the individual and to enforce contracts and law in a predictable way that uphold these rights and holds people to their promises.

what will it take to make you understand this simple fact?

no government is not the same as libertarian government.

you are drawing a completely false dichotomy by failing to recognize this.



 
At 8/31/2012 1:37 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

"thoughtful" ?

"complicated" ?

lord Mike. did you get your panties in a wad?

 
At 8/31/2012 1:40 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: failed states and Libertarianism, false dichotomies, straw-men, et al

I will admit that we have seen smaller govt in the past -

if you will admit that other countries today - may be where we used to be in the timeline of governance.

agree?

bonus question:

are here ANY small-govt countries today that are NOT failed states?

there are NO small govt countries that are not failed states?





 
At 8/31/2012 1:55 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

what are you talking about?

you seem to think logic and fact are somehting fungible to be "agreed" on.

they are not.

agreeing that 2+2 = 5 to get you to agree that 3+3=6 is senseless.

what countries are you speaking of?

small government is a relative term.

is government generally larger than it was 100 years ago and far more intrusive? yes.

but so what?

that does not mean that such a trend is a good thing (or in any war irreversable).

we see many examples of government getting smaller (like columbia and mongolia) driving huge leaps in prosperity and liberty while nations with increasing government (venezeula, hong kong under china, etc) see declines.

the evidence there is very clear despite how complex the factors are.

what did you not understand about ideal being somehting to shoot for, but not purely attainable?

you keep trying to demand that a perfect example be trotted out as you, once more, commit the fallacy of appeal to practice.

seriously, read that link about 5 times before you post another word. to respond with yet another such appeal just shows that you do not understand why your argument is meaningless.

who cares if we can point to an example? there were, at one time, no examples of public health care to point to either. did that make it impossible?

until you get a handle on why your primary form of argument is actually a logical fallacy, nothing is going to make any sense to you.

 
At 8/31/2012 1:59 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The best way I can think of to increase "single motherhood" is to elect some old republican that's "anti all types of birthcontrol, and right to choose.""...

Hmmm, rufus is all about irresponsible behavior, eh?

Not suprised in the least...

 
At 8/31/2012 2:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"are here ANY small-govt countries today that are NOT failed states?"

Maybe it's just my panties in a wad, but it's becoming increasingly irritating that you can't recognize the country in which you live as such and don't understand why.

By your reasoning, that something hasn't been done means it can't be done, the US shouldn't have ever existed. Secondly, on the flip side, that would mean, since dictatorships and monarchies still exist without failing, that they are a perfectly fine form of government.

 
At 8/31/2012 2:04 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"would you EXCLUDE any country that provides Universal Health Care from your list of potential small govt countries?"...

Well larry g you being the avowed socialist your comments make you out to be its not the least bit suprising you would make such an obvious mistake...

You continually fail to see that it isn't about health care but citizen control...

Small government and government interference into the lives of its citizens are by definition mutually exclusive...

 
At 8/31/2012 2:04 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

larry-

what are you talking about?


Morganovich asks the eternal question!! If only Larry could answer it....

 
At 8/31/2012 2:06 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" small government is a relative term."

I'm letting you define the kind that you say is the goal and asking if there are some countries now days that are not yet gone beyond what your standard is for small (good) govt.

I just cannot believe that every single govt on earth is in two categories:

1. - too big and overly intrusive
2. - failed state

surely there must be some countries with small governance that are not failed states, no?

 
At 8/31/2012 2:08 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

mike-

larry never seems to get this. he argues almost entirely by logical fallacy. there are times i wonder if he could pass a turing test.

the US is a relatively free country, but i suspect you will agree that this is less true than it was. federal intrusion into private life has expanded greatly since the 30's and has really been ramping up in the last 10 years or so.

have we destroyed the us, no.

could we make is much better by rolling a lot of this back, yes, i think so.

if it gets worse beyond a certain point, will many folks leave? yes.

i have no interest being taxed to death to fund an intrusive nanny states wealth redistribution and regulatory agendas.

people fail to realize that the US has some of the nastiest taxes on the wealthy on earth.

in most of the world, you can just put your investments offshore and pay no tax on them at home. the only country with more aggressive global taxes than the us is north korea.

if i were french and ran my business here, i would literally pay zero income tax.

hell, just renouncing your citizenship is taxable in the us.

so sure, the us is not bad compared to many places, but there are some real issues that need addressing too.

 
At 8/31/2012 2:08 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"But there will come a time when the percentage of wealth held by a few is so large that it cannot be expanded easily"...

Only the stupid will need an explanation hydra but sadly they'll be to stupid to understand the explanation...

 
At 8/31/2012 2:09 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " something hasn't been done means it can't be done"

actually the opposite.

if it can be done - and I believe that it can be - then isn't the best chance to do it to START with a small govt that has yet to become too big and too intrusive - if nothing else as a model that proves it can be done?

why try to take a govt that is way too big and intrusive and attempt to roll it back - against overwhelming obstacles?

in order to roll the US back, you'd have to have a majority of voters in favoring of doing that - I simply don't see that majority.

do you?

 
At 8/31/2012 2:10 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: citizen control

...by vote?

if a majority of citizens vote for something - is that the kind of governance that we seek to slim down govt?



 
At 8/31/2012 2:13 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Why is that Juandos?

Is it because wealth is never created and it is just a lump that shifts from the hands of one person to the next?

Are the current wealth creators not under constant threat from competitors and from the shifting preferences of consumers?

I have only ever seen one way to stop wealth creation and accumulate the remaining shrinking amount in the hands of the very few - Socialism.

 
At 8/31/2012 2:16 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

read the appeal to practice definition again.

you are still doing it. what difference does whether or not there is one? did you even read my last comment to you? seriously, can you think logically at all? this is about your 4th time in a row trying desperately do inflict yet another appeal to practice on us. i'm asking an honest question here: do you really not understand why this is not a valid argument or are you just deliberately being a nuisance?

this is very, very simple larry.

the best government protects your rights and enforces contracts and that is all.

it's an ideal. it's like justice. you can get close, but it's never perfect.

the closer we get, the better, but you never get there.

my goal is to get as close as possible. clearly, some countries are closer than others, but objective measurement of this is impossible. (how do you weigh singapores healthcare against brazillian interference in the economy?) the question you keep asking is as futile as it is pointless.

the us is moving in the wrong direction. i would like to see it move back to what it has been in the past.

is that so hard for you to grasp?

 
At 8/31/2012 2:17 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"why try to take a govt that is way too big and intrusive and attempt to roll it back - against overwhelming obstacles?"

Maybe you should try reading an American history book.

 
At 8/31/2012 2:23 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"in order to roll the US back, you'd have to have a majority of voters in favoring of doing that - I simply don't see that majority."

not really.

you just need a more muscular and principled supreme court that abandons these absurd activist interpretation and begins invalidating laws. we already have the right constitution in place, we just need to go back to following it.

keeping the us on that path was supposed to be the job of the scotus, but once they buckled to the political pressure of fdr, we were on greased rails to big government.

such a think can be reversed.

i think most americans do favor small government. most opposed obamacare. they want lower taxes and less spending.

these are not radical ideas here.

 
At 8/31/2012 2:23 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " the best government protects your rights and enforces contracts and that is all."

agree

"it's an ideal. it's like justice. you can get close, but it's never perfect."

and you should be able to quantify it in some way as to get a ranking like Heritage does, right?

"the closer we get, the better, but you never get there."

not sure what "there" is though... I realize it's totally subjective but it can be defined by individuals as to their standard of it.

"my goal is to get as close as possible. clearly, some countries are closer than others, but objective measurement of this is impossible. (how do you weigh singapores healthcare against brazillian interference in the economy?) the question you keep asking is as futile as it is pointless."

well that makes it kind of hard for people to agree on what you are advocating, no?

"the us is moving in the wrong direction. i would like to see it move back to what it has been in the past."

okay.. but both endpoints are basically undefined and totally subjective,

right?


is that so hard for you to grasp?

well. trying to understand the parts that don't seem to be well or completely defined.

I understand what you are saying overall but I have no idea at all of the specifics of what you are after

and I continue to think that there are other countries in the world that are just now at the stage where the US was - some time ago - that time that you think it was "right".

asking for some modern day comparisons is an honest attempt to understand what you are after.... (or not).

 
At 8/31/2012 2:27 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" i think most americans do favor small government. most opposed obamacare."

actually there is a pretty good split on ObamaCare, right?

" they want lower taxes and less spending."

well sure Morg..who doesn't ...

the trick is in defining those things.

Our taxes and tax rate are now lower than in Reagan and Eisenhowers terms and a the same time we have structural deficit that cannot be balanced unless we cut both entitlements and DOD.

So far I see little agreement of what to cut ... to get to a true balanced budget other than Ron Paul's proposal. Ryans is a joke.


"these are not radical ideas here"

agree but the devil is in the details.

we'll not get there by edict for POTUS or SCOTUS... IMHO.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:41 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Except you can never be 100% free. We have a word for peoe who can do whatever they want: we call them dictators.

As soon as there are two such people, their "freedom" is necessarily cut in half. In free market terms, they voluntarily trade half of their freedom, by agreeing to equally abide
half of the other persons former freedoms.

Each one has half the freedom as before, along with the obligation to protect the other persons frredom to the same extent the other person protects (abides) their own.

It is my opinion that many persons who wave the flag of individusl liberty ( while never mentioning the equal an oppsite responsibility that coomes with it) are actually little more than petty dictators who selfidhly wish to carve out a
little more space for themselves.

You are a mathemetician, you do the math.
Everything you do, impinges on others in some small way. You are free to do as you like so long as they abide by your transgressions, and they are equally free to do as they please, so long as you abide equally by their transgressions.

As soon as there are three of you, your freedom is reduced by a third. Now, each of you must guard each others liberties equally, lest the other two gang up on you.

You trade away some of your liberties in exchange for freedom from transgressions you cannit tolerate. You start by agreeing not to eat each other.

But now, with billions of individuals in play, and million oif organizations of individuals at play, it is a tad more complicate

What i see in the claim that the wealthy are entitled to all the wealth their organizations can afford them, while labor is entitled to none of the wealth their labor afford them, boils dow to the idea that some of us no longer agree that we should not eat each other.

 
At 8/31/2012 9:59 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Kmg: humans are animals. You claim is that single motherhood cannot exist without big government.

My claim is that many species of animals show your claim to be fale: they have single motherhood and no government as we recognize it. In thise societies males are free to have whatever sex they can getnir take, without personal consequences.

Your counterclaim is that we are better than animals. Right, so we have rules about rape and parental responsibility. You apparently think those rules are unfair. That the men who got suckered into fathering a paternity suit that they knew coukd happen, were somehow cheated.

At the same time you believe these highly successful young women must be somehow gaming the system or their former lovers.

Methinks and i do not agrre on much, but i suspect that we agree you support a double standard here.

Let me ask outright, are you paying alimony or child support?

 
At 8/31/2012 10:08 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The best government protects yor right and enforces cintracts and little else.


I disagree. We have an awful lot of unwritten cintracts. Fir every right you have, you also have an unwritten contrsct to protect that same right on behalf of others.

Therefore in addition to enforcing YOUR rights, the government has an obbligation to EQUALLY enforce the rights of others. It is part of enfircing the contract yiu signed as a citizen.

 
At 8/31/2012 10:33 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Lets consider the case of the woman with three children by three fathers. I dont think a third of their income is unreasonable, considering it costs a quarter million to raise a child..

It costs pretty much the same to raise a child, regardless of your salary. These men make a handsime income, so a quartwr milliin over eighteen years is a smalker skuce of theur income than your average wage earner.

But in each case, the father was prohibited from soeaking in court abiut the othee fathers, the other children, and the other income.

Looked at individually the verdicts were fair, but looked at as a system ( four parents and tthree children) they were not. At the very keast there was no recognition of economies if scale.

 
At 8/31/2012 10:56 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The us has some of the nastiest taxes on the wealrhy on earth.

Who are yiu trying to kid? The taxes are high and the loopholes are large. At 13%Rombey pays a lot MORE than other wealthy people and corporations.

In this regard he is a poster child for stupidity.

 
At 8/31/2012 11:02 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

If i read an american history book i would learn two things: a) it is hard to roll givernment "interference" back, and b). There is a free market failure as the cause of most government interference.

 
At 8/31/2012 11:02 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Why is that Juandos?...

Why is what specifically methinks?

"Is it because wealth is never created and it is just a lump that shifts from the hands of one person to the next?"...

Nope! Not normally...

Now a days though there are seemingly more externalities (more government interference) that tempt the wealthy not be so quick to put their money to work lest they be punished for their sucess...

"Are the current wealth creators not under constant threat from competitors and from the shifting preferences of consumers?"...

Crony capitalists...

"I have only ever seen one way to stop wealth creation and accumulate the remaining shrinking amount in the hands of the very few - Socialism"...

Ta! Da! Exactly methinks and as things stand today it seems we as a nation are stumbling head long into that pseudo nirvana...

 
At 8/31/2012 11:43 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

" i am a single mom and i never got a dime from the government, becaise I earn too much. I must have done it wrong lol" Brandi Chalifaux.

 
At 9/01/2012 12:03 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

I see juandos has bought into the conceot of ecternalities.
Total Cost = Production Cost + External Cost+Government Cost.

Wealthy people are unwilling to invest in production becauase they fear large government externalities. ( one would think these suoerstars are smart enough to factor that in)
.
Working class are unwilling to invesy in conumption when they know that the price paid id only part of the cost, so they seek government protection.

It is just a difgerent manifestation of a free market.

 
At 9/01/2012 12:22 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Crony capitalists...

there are how many businesses in the united states? And each one of them is a crony? Seems that would diminish the value of being a crony, don't you think?

Ta! Da! Exactly methinks and as things stand today it seems we as a nation are stumbling head long into that pseudo nirvana...

Right. Hydra's dream. So I don't know what you found to agree with in his lump of wealth fallacy.

 
At 9/01/2012 12:26 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

( one would think these suoerstars are smart enough to factor that in)

They did. That's how they calculated that negative NPV and "superstars" don't invest in negative NPV projects. That's the government's territory.

Working class are unwilling to invesy in conumption when they know that the price paid id only part of the cost, so they seek government protection.

It is just a difgerent manifestation of a free market.


How much did you drink before you wrote that? Please tell me you weren't stone cold sober when you pounded that out on your keyboard.

 
At 9/01/2012 12:36 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

actually, if you stayed only on your own property and never went on others property - no one would bother you at all.. right?

it's when you engage in commerce that things can get ugly...

:-)

 
At 9/01/2012 1:00 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"there are how many businesses in the united states? And each one of them is a crony? Seems that would diminish the value of being a crony, don't you think?"...

Well if you say so methinks but that's not how I answered the question you asked...

"So I don't know what you found to agree with in his lump of wealth fallacy"...

What makes you think I agree with it?

I just think that hydra inadvertantly stumbled into something that is happening today, not ten years ago, or may not be happening 10 months from now...

methinks maybe I'm wrong here but I do believe this to be the lump or at least a sizable portion of it...

 

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