Wednesday, September 05, 2012

America’s Real Fiscal Problem: Federal Gov't Has Become a Gigantic Wealth-Transfer Machine


The charts above illustrate two disturbing trends that help frame the long-run fiscal challenges confronting the U.S. that far outweigh any possible near-term fallout from the pending “fiscal cliff” that the federal government faces at the end of this year.

1. The top chart above (data here, see Table 6.1) displays the increasing share of the federal government’s spending on “payments to individuals,” based on actual data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the years 1952 to 2011 and its projections through 2017.

In 1952, less than one out of every six dollars spent by the federal government represented payments to individuals.  By 2010 payments to individuals had increased so dramatically over time that roughly two out of every three dollars (66.1 percent) spent by the federal government in that year were payments to individuals for programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, public assistance, food and housing assistance, and unemployment assistance.  Last year, payments to individuals as a share of federal spending decreased slightly to 65 percent, and that category was more than three times larger than the share of 2011 federal spending on defense (20.1 percent), and more than ten times larger than the share spent by the federal government on interest payments for the national debt (6.4 percent).  The OMB estimates that payments to individuals will exceed 68 percent of federal spending in 2014, 2015 and 2016, before falling slightly to 67.5 percent in 2017 when payments to individuals will exceed $3 trillion for the first time.

2. At the same time that payments to individual Americans consume an increasing share of federal spending, the burden of taxes to finance federal spending is falling on a shrinking group of American taxpayers.  According to a recent study by The Tax Foundation, 41 percent of federal income tax filers in 2010 had a zero or negative federal income tax liability after taking deductions and credits, which was a slight decrease from the previous year when 41.7 percent of tax filers had no tax liability (see bottom chart above).  In both years, the number of nonpaying tax filers exceeded 58 million.  After fluctuating in a range between roughly 20 and 25 percent for the fifty year period from 1950 to 2000, the percent of Americans filing tax returns but paying no federal income taxes has increased sharply over the last decade to record-setting levels above 40 percent in the two most recent years.

So why does this matter?

Our long-term fiscal problems won’t be fixed until we address what might be our nation’s most serious fiscal-related problem: we’re increasingly becoming a European-style “entitlement nation,” with “payments to individuals” increasing both in absolute dollar amounts and as a share of total federal spending, while at the same time the share of Americans who face a zero or negative federal income tax liability is above 40 percent and rising.  In other words, a declining share of American taxpayers is being forced to finance the rising cost of the federal government, which is increasingly being spent on payments to individuals.

John Merline (now at Investor’s Business Daily) described the situation this way in an AOL News editorial last year:

“When you put these two trends together, what you find is that the federal government has over the years essentially turned into a gigantic wealth-transfer machine — taking money from a shrinking pool of taxpayers and giving it out to a growing list of favored groups.  This situation will make getting the federal budget under control increasingly difficult, since it will invariably involve pitting those writing checks against those cashing them.”

More recently, AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt wrote in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:

“Within living memory, the federal government has become an entitlements machine. As a day-to-day operation, it devotes more attention and resources to the public transfer of money, goods and services to individual citizens than to any other objective, spending more than for all other ends combined.”

That’s the long-term fiscal cliff that should have us all very concerned – the fact that the federal government over time has turned into a gigantic entitlements and wealth-transfer machine.

309 Comments:

At 9/05/2012 5:39 PM, Blogger kmg said...

70-80% of all government spending is a transfer from men to women.

Given what Prof. Perry pointed out in the article yesterday about female economists, is it any surprise that democracy would result in this outcome?

But if this poll is any indication, a huge number of people see this for what it is.

 
At 9/05/2012 5:42 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

The working middle class suffers the most, and will suffer even more.

 
At 9/05/2012 6:02 PM, Blogger Scott Drum said...

Stein's law would seem to apply here.

There is no way you can continue to increase the ratio of takers to producers.

Although Stein's law applied to housing prices, too, and the aftermath has been pretty bloody.

This is like watching a slow motion wreck. Everyone knows what will eventually happen, but Congress just stares, then looks around for someone else to blame.

 
At 9/05/2012 6:17 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"This situation will make getting the federal budget under control increasingly difficult, since it will invariably involve pitting those writing checks against those cashing them.”

Actually, this should make the political future of the Democrat Party increasingly difficult since theri entire model consists of forcibly taking money from one group of Americans in order to purchase the political loyalty of another.

As Margaret Thatcher observed, "The trouble with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples money."

I doubt very much that their "racist", "sexist", "anti-gay" smears will amount to much once the money runs out.

 
At 9/05/2012 6:18 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000. California's economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. -- WSJ

Think about that for a minute. The population of Californian grew by 10 million - 7 million of whom were eligible for welfare - but only 150,000 of those people filed to pay taxes.

One of these two things will die, the welfare state or the United States of America.

 
At 9/05/2012 6:41 PM, Blogger Heihosha said...

How many transfer payments are mandated by the U.S. Constitution ?

 
At 9/05/2012 6:50 PM, Blogger Scott Drum said...

There are no transfer payments of any kind mandated by the US Constitution.

 
At 9/05/2012 6:57 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Mark J. Perry: According to a recent study by The Tax Foundation, 41 percent of federal income tax filers in 2010 had a zero or negative federal income tax liability after taking deductions and credits, ...

Not to minimize the problem, but if you are including Social Security and Medicare in expenditures, then it would make sense to include payroll taxes in the number of contributors to the federal tax burden.

 
At 9/05/2012 7:02 PM, Blogger Scott Drum said...

Zachriel -- Not really. Medicare and Social Security were sold to the public as pension-like schemes where what you received in retirement related to payments you made while working. Of course, Congress lied about that . . . .

 
At 9/05/2012 7:06 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Scott Drum: Not really. Medicare and Social Security were sold to the public as pension-like schemes where what you received in retirement related to payments you made while working.

Yes, but you would still count those as contributions to the federal tax burden if you are counting Social Security as an outlay.

 
At 9/05/2012 7:52 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

the US budget shows DOD at 19% so what with the chart showing about 10%?

And I agree with Z about showing that FICA is a revenue source - a tax that roughly is equal to the payout for SS and Medicare Part A. (but not Part B).

of the 2.3 trillion in revenues to the US budget - one third, 819 billion is FICA taxes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Receipts_-_FY_2007.png


 
At 9/05/2012 8:11 PM, Blogger hancke said...

Larry, The chart projects out to 2017. 2012 looks to be about 19%.

 
At 9/05/2012 8:14 PM, Blogger mike k said...

"Yes, but you would still count those as contributions to the federal tax burden if you are counting Social Security as an outlay. "-Zach

Yes, but SS was counted as an outlay in 1970 and roughly, only 15% of all tax returns had zero or negative liability that year. So what is the point?

 
At 9/05/2012 8:23 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

You're right hancke, I did miss that.

but the other chart is apparently not showing FICA taxes which should be counted - if their payout is to be counted as transfer payments.

right?

 
At 9/05/2012 8:36 PM, Blogger marmico said...

The 2009 IRS data says that there were 37 million returns with adjusted gross income of <$15000.

The tax code via the standard deduction and personal exemption eliminates 85% of those filers from income tax payments.

What's the big deal. For the most part they have no taxable income. But let's try to concoct some nefarious narrative or have them all contribute a buck to retire the national debt.

 
At 9/05/2012 8:48 PM, Blogger Henry H said...

Does payments to individuals exclude pension benefits for congress and defense, or is it just Social Security and Medicare?

 
At 9/05/2012 9:16 PM, Blogger Aiken_Bob said...

Call me an old fart - but it makes sense - unless you have some skin in the game you shouldn't play. If you don't pay federal tax you don't vote. It would solve lots of problems real quick. My gut feeling is that real poor would be just fine.

 
At 9/05/2012 9:18 PM, Blogger marmico said...

After fluctuating in a range between roughly 20 and 25 percent...has increased sharply over the last decade to record-setting levels above 40 percent in the two most recent years.

Do you notice the trend change around 1985? It's called indexation of brackets and exemptions in the tax code. If the adjusted gross income of low income filers rises slower than the indexation adjustments then more filers become nontaxable.

 
At 9/05/2012 9:40 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The working middle class suffers the most, and will suffer even more"...

Well pt maybe the middle class is getting what it voted for...

"There are no transfer payments of any kind mandated by the US Constitution"...

Funny how that's worked out over the last fifty years, eh scott?

Look at the pie charts on page 40 of the 1040EZ instruction pamphlet to see where the constitutionally questionable ependitures are heading...

This is where the taxpayer's wallet smacks into reality...

 
At 9/05/2012 10:37 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Not to minimize the problem, but if you are including Social Security and Medicare in expenditures, then it would make sense to include payroll taxes in the number of contributors to the federal tax burden." -- Zach

"The bottom four quintiles (by lifetime earnings) pay negative net tax rates for Social Security, meaning that they receive more in Social Security benefits than they pay in payroll taxes. Only the top income quintile pays more in payroll taxes than they receive in Social Security benefits. The bottom income quintile gets the best deal of all, with a negative net payroll tax rate of almost 27%, meaning that their lifetime Social Security benefits far exceed the payroll taxes they contribute to the Social Security program." -- "Social Security Payroll Tax is Very Progressive", Mark J. Perry, 4-13-2010

Social Security is just another wealth redistribution scheme.

 
At 9/05/2012 10:53 PM, Blogger kmg said...

The title for the first chart could be :

It is funny how the end of the Cold War would result in socialism dominating America.....

 
At 9/06/2012 2:19 AM, Blogger kmg said...

What is amazing is that if welfare were pared back down to the levels of 1968, Federal spending would drop 40%.

We would have no deficit and a vastly smaller national debt..

I just don't see this reversing, though. Women are 53% of voters, and as a prior article here showed, women want socialism.

 
At 9/06/2012 2:59 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

It is even worse than shown here. Employees of the US military receive pensions and health benefits--after just 20 years of service--that would make French railway workers blush.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:00 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

Benji is correct on the military.

Social Security taxes themselves are not progressive. The tax rate is flat but it's true on the payout that lower income receive higher benefits.

The other things on the chart:

1. - when did the earned income and child credits begin?

2. - The $400 make-work-pay (stimulus) credit (per person) for people who DID have earned income went on for two years and resulted in a lot of people not owing taxes that normally did.

that credit was a significant part of the stimulus.


 
At 9/06/2012 5:08 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Enacted in 1975, the initially modest EIC has been expanded by tax legislation on a number of occasions, including the widely-publicized Reagan Tax Reform Act of 1986, and was further expanded in 1990, 1993, and 2001, regardless of whether the act in general raised taxes (1990, 1993), lowered taxes (2001), or eliminated other deductions and credits (1986).[6]

In the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the EITC was temporarily expanded for two specific groups: those families with three or more children and married couples; this expansion was extended through December 2012 by H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Effective for the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 filing seasons, the EITC will support these taxpayers by:
Increasing benefits for larger families by creating a new category or “third tier” of the EITC for families with three or more children. In this tier, the credit phases in at 45 percent of income (up from 40 percent), effectively increasing the maximum credit for these families by almost $600.
Increasing marriage penalty relief by raising the income threshold at which the EITC begins to phase out for married couples to $5,000 above the amount for unmarried filers (an increase of $2,000).[7]
Today, the EITC is one of the largest anti-poverty tools in the United States (despite the fact that most income measures, including the poverty rate, do not account for the credit).
Other countries with programs similar to the EITC include the United Kingdom (see: working tax credit), Canada, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, France and the Netherlands"

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

keep in mind also that unlike non-refundable credits that only reduce your tax liability the refundable credit - you get whatever is left over as a refund.

 
At 9/06/2012 8:06 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

The vast majority of transfer payments are to kids or more specific to the parents of the kids.

If they work and earn less than 42K they get refundable tax credits plus they can write off a good part of child care expenses.

If they do not work, then they get welfare, food stamps, subsidized meals at schools and medicAid.

The US tax code, in effect, subsidizes people who have kids even if they cannot afford the kids.

this idea is not "liberal". It started way back in Reagans term and has continued through both Dem and GOP Presidents.

 
At 9/06/2012 8:10 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

The US tax code, in effect, subsidizes people who have kids even if they cannot afford the kids.

this idea is not "liberal". It started way back in Reagans term and has continued through both Dem and GOP Presidents.


What makes you think that the GOP is any better at small government than the Democratic Party? Reagan asked conservatives to hold their noses and vote for a debt ceiling increase until he could fix things so that the budget would balance. He never did and ever since conservatives have voted for more debt increases and have even talked about how deficits don't matter.

 
At 9/06/2012 8:21 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" What makes you think that the GOP is any better at small government than the Democratic Party?"

on child tax credits?

who on the political map is advocating getting rid of them?

that's the funny thing.

we keep hearing about "transfer" payments as if it was able-bodied folks on the dole getting them but the vast majority are to people who have kids.

 
At 9/06/2012 8:40 AM, OpenID Sprewell said...

As VangelV notes, which major party is addressing this issue? Only the libertarians ever bring it up, but they are a minority, with even less sway over these decisions. The Democrats ladle on ever more of these entitlements year after year and the Republicans content themselves with either cutting a bit around the edges here and there or outright competing to offer more, say the medicare prescription drug benefit or all the "military" welfare that now goes on. As the old apocryphal quote goes, "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." Well, that's we're seeing in these charts.

I don't see any hope of anything changing, merely a slowdown here and there before lurching rapidly towards more redistribution again, as the fiscal cliff, as exemplified by Greece, gets ever closer. The only solution is exit, just as Americans came here centuries ago to exit similar govt excess in Europe.

 
At 9/06/2012 9:09 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

The only solution is exit, just as Americans came here centuries ago to exit similar govt excess in Europe.

I am in complete agreement.

 
At 9/06/2012 9:23 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

methinks-

see you on st kitts?

 
At 9/06/2012 9:33 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Only briefly, Morganovich. Our plans are a little more involved than that. But, we'll definitely stop in for a drink with you!

 
At 9/06/2012 9:34 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

it would seem that no matter where you go:

1. - either it is run by a dictator type

or

2. - it is run by elections

right?

are there other options?

 
At 9/06/2012 9:57 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

mike k: Yes, but SS was counted as an outlay in 1970 and roughly, only 15% of all tax returns had zero or negative liability that year. So what is the point?

Because it may distort the relationship. In particular, surpluses in payroll taxes were used to help fund the Bush tax cuts. You can see the rapid increase in non-tax paying returns during that period.

Aiken_Bob: Call me an old fart - but it makes sense - unless you have some skin in the game you shouldn't play. If you don't pay federal tax you don't vote.

Old fart as in 1828, the time of the Jacksonian Revolution. Yes, it's all been downhill for America since then. Really miss the powdered wigs.

Che is dead: The bottom four quintiles (by lifetime earnings) pay negative net tax rates for Social Security,

Where's the data and methodology for that chart? The links just point to a simulation, without the necessary details.

Che is dead: Social Security is just another wealth redistribution scheme.

Yes, from young to old.

Larry G: Social Security taxes themselves are not progressive. The tax rate is flat but it's true on the payout that lower income receive higher benefits.

Social Security is progressive, however, lower life expectancy in lower income groups offsets it to some degree. You have to adjust payments for present value, and whether the benefits are shared or individual. See figure 2a,b,c from Smith & Toder.
http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/UploadedPDF/410362_retirement-benefits.pdf

To really look at the situation, page 6 of this CBO chart at 2009 of income source may be helpful.
http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43373-Supplemental_Tables_Final.xls

For the first three quintiles, market income exceeds transfers, but transfers exceed taxes.

Market, Transfer, Federal Tax
1st
15000, 8500, 200
2nd
28700, 14700, 2900
3rd
48900, 15400, 2700
4th
79900, 13900, 14100
5th
212800, 10700, 51900

Some of that is due to the aging population. If you look at the middle quintile over time, you can see the effect of the Bush tax cuts.

 
At 9/06/2012 10:00 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

I don't really care how "it" is run, Larry. All I care about is what kind of options are available to me and how they compare to all of the other options available to me. And the options available to me are not going to be the same ones available to you.

That's how individuals make decisions.

 
At 9/06/2012 10:03 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

but Methinks - "how it is run" can change...

would you just keep moving?

and why would you earn your wealth in one country then flee to another?

one thing about fleeing to another country - if it does not offer universal health care - you are definitely going to buy your own, eh?

 
At 9/06/2012 10:05 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: "... , lower life expectancy in lower income groups offsets it to some degree"

good point.

what would be a better chart would be one that breaks down the transfer payments per type AND credits the payroll tax as a tax also paid.

 
At 9/06/2012 10:11 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Typo:

Market, Transfer, Federal Tax
1st
15000, 8500, 200
2nd
28700, 14700, 2900
3rd
48900, 15400, 7200
4th
79900, 13900, 14100
5th
212800, 10700, 51900

 
At 9/06/2012 10:16 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Larry G: what would be a better chart would be one that breaks down the transfer payments per type AND credits the payroll tax as a tax also paid.

That's in the same CBO chart, but for the purposes of this discussion, the overall pictures is probably most useful.

Though we don't agree with Aiken_Bob that only the top two quintiles should be able to vote, it is clear that Americans are not paying for the amount of services they are being provided.

 
At 9/06/2012 10:25 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

would you just keep moving?

Yep. And I pay out of pocket for health care now.

 
At 9/06/2012 10:33 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

No Medicare for you!

:-)

 
At 9/06/2012 10:36 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

The less the better.

 
At 9/06/2012 10:43 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

BTW, Larry this musing "and why would you earn your wealth in one country then flee to another?", the answer to which is self evident, is pretty meaningless now and will continue to be less meaningful in the future.

In what country did I earn my wealth if I am trading on the SGX in Singapore and the LSX in London or over the counter in Frankfurt whilst sitting at a computer located in Dallas, Texas?

 
At 9/06/2012 10:46 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

but could you make your living in St. Kitts?

:-)

 
At 9/06/2012 11:02 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Yes. But, I am not compelled to live in St. Kitts and I have no intention of doing so. Don't bother asking for details because I'm unwilling to reveal them on a public forum.

 
At 9/06/2012 11:39 AM, Blogger mike k said...

mike k: Yes, but SS was counted as an outlay in 1970 and roughly, only 15% of all tax returns had zero or negative liability that year. So what is the point?

Because it may distort the relationship. In particular, surpluses in payroll taxes were used to help fund the Bush tax cuts. You can see the rapid increase in non-tax paying returns during that period. -Zach

Again, so what? people paid payroll taxes in 1970 and they pay them today. What does that have to do with fewer and fewer people paying federal income taxes?

 
At 9/06/2012 11:52 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

the folks who predominately don't pay taxes these days are folks with kids who make less than 42k a year.

single people without kids pay much more especially if they cannot itemize.

Retired people who have more income than just social security pay taxes on their social security if it exceeds 25K or so....

We have a national policy of essentially exempting taxes for those with kids.

We don't really get this from the reporting which tends to imply that able bodied don't pay taxes.

Single people who work for 20K in a retail job - often pay taxes on that 20K - but if they have kids, they don't.

 
At 9/06/2012 12:36 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"but could you make your living in St. Kitts?"

yes, easily. in fact, i'd make a far better living because they have no income tax at all AND i could take in lots of offshore money that is hesitant to go into funds run by american managers even if the funds themselves are offshore.

the beauty of a st kitts passport is that you can live and work anywhere in the former british commonwealth of the carribean community.

my job is not tied to any particular location.

 
At 9/06/2012 1:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Today, the EITC is one of the largest anti-poverty tools in the United States (despite the fact that most income measures, including the poverty rate, do not account for the credit)."

Meaning the poor aren't getting poorer, and aren't as poor as we think they are.

 
At 9/06/2012 1:23 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Enacted in 1975, the initially modest EIC has been expanded by...

Larry has just discovered the EIC and is fascinated by it.

You can hardly miss the fact though, that Reagan wasn't president in 1975.

 
At 9/06/2012 2:08 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

on child tax credits?

who on the political map is advocating getting rid of them?

that's the funny thing.


Neither the GOP nor the Democratic Party have the guts to gut the transfer payments. They both have constantly voted to increase the size of government and to increase the burden on the taxpayer. Frankly, it does not matter which special interest group gets the favoured treatment and the cash because the taxpayer is just as screwed.

 
At 9/06/2012 3:05 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: Ronald

" (2) President Ronald Reagan described the earned income credit as ‘the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job-creation measure to come out of Congress.’"

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hr6371/text

wow!

 
At 9/06/2012 3:35 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

mike k: Again, so what? people paid payroll taxes in 1970 and they pay them today. What does that have to do with fewer and fewer people paying federal income taxes?

It has specifically to do with the original blog and following comments that "the share of Americans who face a zero or negative tax liability is above 40 percent and rising". In fact most working people incur the payroll tax. A large share of federal tax receipts come from the payroll tax, including surpluses over the last generation, and the people paying those taxes may not live long enough to see any return. They are sharing at least some part of the federal tax burden.

 
At 9/06/2012 3:47 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

in fact, fully a third of the 2.4 trillion of tax revenues are FICA taxes and even people who do not pay Fed income, pay FICA and in most cases, the FICA tax equals or exceeds their Fed Income Tax withholding.

Anyone who is single or does not have kids - ends up paying Fed Income taxes even for minimal income.

the "people don't pay income taxes" is misleading in that people presume that anyone making a low income does not pay taxes and that's not true.

People who make 15-20K a year but don't have kids - pay income taxes.



 
At 9/06/2012 3:48 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9/06/2012 4:24 PM, Blogger mike k said...

It has specifically to do with the original blog and following comments that "the share of Americans who face a zero or negative tax liability is above 40 percent and rising". In fact most working people incur the payroll tax. A large share of federal tax receipts come from the payroll tax, including surpluses over the last generation, and the people paying those taxes may not live long enough to see any return. They are sharing at least some part of the federal tax burden. -Zach

I understand, but most working people were incurring the payroll tax in 1970 as well. That has nothing at all to do with the original post or any of the subsequent comments. I'm guessing 100% of those employed in 1970 as well as 100% today paid/pay a payroll tax. In fact, doesn't a negative income tax liability infer some mitigation of the payroll tax? I understand you are trying to make some argument that those with zero/negative income tax liabilities are still contributing, however, their contributions through FICA most likely aren't enough to cover their own SS/Medicare benefits let alone any of the myriad costs of the federal government.

 
At 9/06/2012 4:41 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

the FICA contributions are ENOUGH (right now) to pay for SS and Medicare Part A.

the point is that 880 billion of the 2.4 trillion in revenues in FICA and that same 880 billion is reflected in spending.

Think about this.

if you subtract out the 880 billion from 2.4 what do you get?

you get maybe 1.6 trillion to pay for the rest of the budget.

in essence, the 880 billion is tax on one end and expenditures on the other end.

so in a 3.5 trillion budget, 880 billion that is claimed as a wealth transfer is really a transfer from FICA to SS/Medicare - and really not part of any "wealth" transfer per se.

I think that including the spending of the FICA tax and not representing it - as a tax - is misleading at best.

A more honest approach would either include FICA on both sides of the equation or exclude it from both sides.

 
At 9/06/2012 4:44 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"we keep hearing about "transfer" payments as if it was able-bodied folks on the dole getting them but the vast majority are to people who have kids."

No, you keep hearing about transfer payments as if there were some legitimate reason to take money from one group of people who have earned it and give it to another group of people who haven't.

 
At 9/06/2012 4:46 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"see you on st kitts?"

You're not going to like it. the skiing is terrible.

 
At 9/06/2012 4:47 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " No, you keep hearing about transfer payments as if there were some legitimate reason to take money from one group of people who have earned it and give it to another group of people who haven't. "

the "legitimate" reason is kids.

Even Ronald Reagan said so.

of course if you really disagree, then disagree with the transfer done ostensibly for "kids".

because that's who it is supposed to be going to.

we ought to at least recognize what the purpose of the wealth transfer really is, right?

 
At 9/06/2012 4:50 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: St Kitts

hey.. what is this:

" Purchasers who make a minimum investment of US$350,000 are entitled to apply for citizenship of the Federation of St. Kitts "

 
At 9/06/2012 4:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"it would seem that no matter where you go:

1. - either it is run by a dictator type

or

2. - it is run by elections

right?
"

Wrong.

1 and 2 are not mutually exclusive, and in fact are frequently present together. Saddam Hussein won every election by 98% of the vote.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:05 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

mike k: In fact, doesn't a negative income tax liability infer some mitigation of the payroll tax?

Yes. Of course, you can't calculate the mitigation unless you include the payroll tax.

mike k: I understand you are trying to make some argument that those with zero/negative income tax liabilities are still contributing, however, their contributions through FICA most likely aren't enough to cover their own SS/Medicare benefits let alone any of the myriad costs of the federal government.

Not on average, but many of those in the lower income brackets won't even make it to the age of retirement, but will work and pay payroll taxes until they drop. Saying they haven't contributed is not accurate.

We provided a better look at the data above. It includes transfers and taxes on the federal level, including payroll taxes, social security benefits and so on. We'll repeat it here:

-
Page 6 of this CBO chart at 2009 of income source may be helpful.
http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43373-Supplemental_Tables_Final.xls

For the first three quintiles, market income exceeds transfers, but transfers exceed taxes.

Market, Transfer, Federal Tax
1st
15000, 8500, 200
2nd
28700, 14700, 2900
3rd
48900, 15400, 7200
4th
79900, 13900, 14100
5th
212800, 10700, 51900

Some of that is due to the aging population. If you look at the middle quintile over time, you can see the effect of the Bush tax cuts.
-

Ron H: No, you keep hearing about transfer payments as if there were some legitimate reason to take money from one group of people who have earned it and give it to another group of people who haven't.

Liberal argument: Children (and many adults) are not to blame for their circumstances.

Conservative argument: In the long run, providing opportunity and social stability will lead to greater prosperity by providing a motivated, healthy and educated workforce.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:09 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Saddam Hussein won every election by 98% of the vote.

It would be helpful if you got your facts right.

100% in 2002, better than his 99.96% showing in the previous election.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2331951.stm

 
At 9/06/2012 5:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Old fart as in 1828, the time of the Jacksonian Revolution. Yes, it's all been downhill for America since then. Really miss the powdered wigs. "

Yeah, we're far better off now that people who have nothing to lose can vote money out of our pocket and into theirs.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:13 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: mutually exclusive

yes.. but do you have a 3rd choice?

 
At 9/06/2012 5:23 PM, Blogger kmg said...

It is pathetic that some commenters here still don't get it.

They think these trends spell trouble for Democrats. Quite the opposite. These trends make leftism permanent (and moves the GOP leftward as well).

No wonder Republicans always cede ground. They just get tugged along leftward with each passing cycle.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

but Methinks - "how it is run" can change...

would you just keep moving?

"and why would you earn your wealth in one country then flee to another?"

You're kidding, right? A person earns their wealth where their best opportunities are. If that changes - and they certainly appear to be changing in the US - then they move to someplace else where options are better. Didn't you just read that in Methink's comment?

"one thing about fleeing to another country - if it does not offer universal health care - you are definitely going to buy your own, eh?"

Oh! geez! Never thought of that. Methinks probably thanks you for keeping her from making a terrible mistake.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:30 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Methinks

">Yes. But, I am not compelled to live in St. Kitts and I have no intention of doing so. Don't bother asking for details because I'm unwilling to reveal them on a public forum."

I was hoping you'd tell me - in case a reward is offered. :)

 
At 9/06/2012 5:31 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

so you earn where the best opportunities are and retire to where the taxes are lowest?

and forget about the rest?

 
At 9/06/2012 5:43 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"but could you make your living in St. Kitts?"

You should think longer before you write.

I'm pretty certain that computers and internet access are available in St. Kitts just as they are in Dallas Texas. If not, there's a helluva opportunity for you, as I think there's going to big demand for them in the near future.

You seem concerned about regime uncertainty in other countries, but if you believe in majority rule, you should realize that a majority of votors in St. Kitts may soon be rich American expats.

 
At 9/06/2012 5:50 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: St Kitts ...regime change, etc, et all..

why wait?

every minute you spend in the US is coming out of your financial hide...

right?

:-)

you'd think the airports would be mobbed with folks dying to become expats, eh?

 
At 9/06/2012 5:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"President Ronald Reagan described the earned income credit as ‘the best anti-poverty..."

Did you intend the above to support your erroneous claim that EIC was "started way back in Reagans(sic) term"?

Both the following are from your comments. Don't you remember what you post?

(1) "Enacted in 1975... - pasted from Wiki.

(2) "this idea is not "liberal". It started way back in Reagans term and has continued through both Dem and GOP Presidents."

You just need to admit you were wrong, Larry. Don't embarrass yourself further by trying to defend an obvious misstatement.

 
At 9/06/2012 6:08 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"the "legitimate" reason is kids."

No, Larry. Noble and compassionate goals do not make stealing legitimate. Words have specific meanings. Try to use them correctly.

 
At 9/06/2012 6:10 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

enacted BEFORE Reagan and endorsed by Reagan......

that's what I was trying to say.

If I screwed it up - my bad but I have to say.. Ron spends too much time looking for "nits"...

In fact, here is what I originally said:

" " Enacted in 1975, the initially modest EIC has been expanded by tax legislation on a number of occasions, including the widely-publicized Reagan Tax Reform Act of 1986, and was further expanded in 1990, 1993, and 2001, regardless of whether the act in general raised taxes (1990, 1993), lowered taxes (2001), or eliminated other deductions and credits (1986).[6]"

did you miss this part Ron?

 
At 9/06/2012 6:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"hey.. what is this:

" Purchasers who make a minimum investment of US$350,000 are entitled to apply for citizenship of the Federation of St. Kitts
"

Really hard to tell without some context, Larry, what do YOU think it is?

 
At 9/06/2012 6:12 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" No, Larry. Noble and compassionate goals do not make stealing legitimate. Words have specific meanings. Try to use them correctly."

I did not say they were 'noble'.

I was only saying that if you oppose them - then recognize what they are actually used for - and oppose them on principles that you oppose them for being used for kids.

isn't that what you believe? That they are wrong to use for kids?

right?

 
At 9/06/2012 6:13 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: context

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

 
At 9/06/2012 6:13 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Not on average, but many of those in the lower income brackets won't even make it to the age of retirement, but will work and pay payroll taxes until they drop. Saying they haven't contributed is not accurate."

Then they should be relieved of that onerous burden.

 
At 9/06/2012 6:17 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Then they should be relieved of that onerous burden."

nope. they need the money for the ones that make it!

:-)

 
At 9/06/2012 6:27 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

...98% or greater.

"100% in 2002, better than his 99.96% showing in the previous election. "

The 4578 people who didn't support Saddam previously failed to show up at the polls in the 2002 referendum.

 
At 9/06/2012 6:33 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"yes.. but do you have a 3rd choice?"

Your premise was wrong, Larry, ask a meaningful question if you want responses.

 
At 9/06/2012 6:36 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"so you earn where the best opportunities are and retire to where the taxes are lowest?

and forget about the rest?
"

the rest what?

 
At 9/06/2012 6:48 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"why wait?

every minute you spend in the US is coming out of your financial hide...

right?

:-)

you'd think the airports would be mobbed with folks dying to become expats, eh?
"

Not me Larry, those with high incomes - the really productive folks who help provide a good living for the rest of us. Those who already pay more than their "fair share" are being asked for even more. At some point it will become too much, and they say "Screw you Larry, and your bizarre notion of cosmic justice - I'm out of here."

There aren't many leaving at any one time and you wouldn't notice an increase in commercial air traffic as they use their own private jets.

Oh darn! There go those good paying aircraft maintainance jobs too.

 
At 9/06/2012 6:57 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: the rest

you know.. all the other things you'd expect ... water, sewer, security, electricity, etc...



 
At 9/06/2012 6:57 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"if I screwed it up - my bad but I have to say.. Ron spends too much time looking for "nits"..."

Good to hear you admit you were wrong.

Not a nit, Larry, you pasted that bit from wiki then went on later to attribute EIC to Reagan in an attempt to hang it on a conservative.

If you DID read that paste from wiki - and I doubt it - then you have a serious memory problem.

"In fact, here is what I originally said:

" " Enacted in 1975, the initially modest EIC has been expanded by tax legislation on a number of occasions, including the widely-publicized Reagan Tax Reform Act of 1986, and was further expanded in 1990, 1993, and 2001, regardless of whether the act in general raised taxes (1990, 1993), lowered taxes (2001), or eliminated other deductions and credits (1986).[6]"

did you miss this part Ron?
"

Nope, unlike you, I did read it and even more importantly I understood what I read.

 
At 9/06/2012 7:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I did not say they were 'noble'."

You didn't say they were compassionate either.

"I was only saying that if you oppose them - then recognize what they are actually used for - and oppose them on principles that you oppose them for being used for kids.

isn't that what you believe? That they are wrong to use for kids?
"

No, I oppose them for being stolen.

 
At 9/06/2012 7:03 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" then went on later to attribute EIC to Reagan in an attempt to hang it on a conservative. "

no... all I said was that it was invented a long time ago and that Reagan supported it.

where did you get that I said he invented it?

 
At 9/06/2012 7:05 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"nope. they need the money for the ones that make it!"

People should pay all their lives to support strangers who will outlive them? Give me a break.

 
At 9/06/2012 7:12 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

it's "insurance".. right?

so you really care what kind of idiots have the same insurance company you have - as long as they have insurance and don't leave you holding the financial bag in an accident?

 
At 9/06/2012 7:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"you know.. all the other things you'd expect ... water, sewer, security, electricity, etc..."

St. Kitts has all those things, Larry.

People frequently retire to other states in the US that have lower tax burdens. They don't give up either running water or indoor plumbing unless that's their preference.

 
At 9/06/2012 7:34 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"where did you get that I said he invented it?"

The word "invented" hasn't been used until you just now used it, Larry.

Remember to use words correctly. Use the correct word to convey your intended meaning.

You said: "this idea is not "liberal". It started way back in Reagans term..."

Your exact words. It's in writing, Larry, you can't change it now.

You screwed the pooch and you've admitted it. What more can there be?

 
At 9/06/2012 7:36 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

one of the most free market places that I've read about is Bermuda.

electricity, water, sewer is ungodly expensive and not subsidized.

here:

http://www.bermuda-online.org/costoflivingguide.htm

 
At 9/06/2012 7:48 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

ahem...

 
At 9/06/2012 7:49 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Ron H.,


You're not going to like it. the skiing is terrible.


there's more than one way to ski a cat

 
At 9/06/2012 8:09 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Then they should be relieved of that onerous burden.

The question concerned the distribution of the federal tax burden.

Ron H: The 4578 people who didn't support Saddam previously failed to show up at the polls in the 2002 referendum.

Ah. That would explain it then.

 
At 9/07/2012 12:08 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Wow. It took Benny only 8 hrs to make yet another stupid anti-military comment.

It is even worse than shown here. Employees of the US military receive pensions and health benefits--after just 20 years of service--that would make French railway workers blush.

Tell you what, Benny, when French railway workers are putting their lives on the line to get you from point a to point b, then they'll have earned those kinds of benefits.


I'd say I'm not going to begrudge a decent retirement to someone whose daily job for 20 years entails them potentially going into live fire zones and doing something to keep me out of harm's way.

You want to be a fucking asshole and tell them to their faces that they don't deserve it -- make sure you tell them that others tell you you're a fucking asshole.

 
At 9/07/2012 1:23 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"one of the most free market places that I've read about is Bermuda."

Bermuda is a tiny island with few natural resources. Almost everything including food must be imported. High costs are not surprising. Note that salaries are among the highest in the world, 50% higher than in the US.

 
At 9/07/2012 7:13 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Tell you what, Benny, when French railway workers are putting their lives on the line to get you from point a to point b, then they'll have earned those kinds of benefits.

But you have people who are bureaucrats and have never seen any action getting those benefits. I know that procurement can be rough but even in the civilian sector there is a risk of a nasty paper cut.

I'd say I'm not going to begrudge a decent retirement to someone whose daily job for 20 years entails them potentially going into live fire zones and doing something to keep me out of harm's way.

That is still safer than working a crab boat in the northern oceans or cutting trees in the wild. Are those people 'entitled' to a decent retirement after 20 years?

What you seem to want to blindly defend, and Benny wants to blindly attack, is a non-market system that provides little in the way of useful service. Yes, defense is important but little of what the military does has anything to do with defending the country.

 
At 9/07/2012 7:21 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

there are 1.5 million people in the military and the vast majority of them never see combat.

DOD costs this country around 800 billion a year out of a revenue budget of about 1.6 billion.

we have a trillion dollar deficit - in part because of the amount of money we spend not only on the military but military retirements and health care benefits.

We do not need to spend this much money in order to have the most powerful military in the world.

we are wasting money hand over fist on it and we are having China essentially deficit finance our military.

We have to cut entitlements but there is no hope of balancing the budget without some cuts on DOD also.

When a guy or gal works 20 years in the military and never comes close to seeing combat action - that's different than the guys/gals who actually experience combat.

For the folks that do - they deserve their entitlements.

for the folks that do not - the question is can we really afford it?

I'm in favor of 30 years in the military unless you are actually in combat, and then that entitles you to 20 years and out.


 
At 9/07/2012 8:40 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

We do not need to spend this much money in order to have the most powerful military in the world.

Do not blame the military for the stupidity of politicians. The men and women in the military gave Ron Paul more money than the other GOP candidates combined. They want less combat and fewer deployments and would have no problem with a reduction in troops.

It is the politicians who keep calling for meddling abroad and weapons systems that are too expensive and too ineffective. And the US does not need the 'most powerful' military in the world. All it needs is the ability to defend itself. Instead of building bases abroad it might make a lot more sense having individuals and businesses go abroad and make commercial deals as the Chinese are doing.

 
At 9/08/2012 2:02 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"there are 1.5 million people in the military and the vast majority of them never see combat"...

Playing at being the clown again, eh larry g?

"DOD costs this country around 800 billion a year out of a revenue budget of about 1.6 billion"...

Oops! Let me amend that, it should've been 'lying clown' instead...

 
At 9/08/2012 5:05 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Liberal argument: Children (and many adults) are not to blame for their circumstances."

And neither are we.

The issue, that you keep either missing or ignoring is the taking, not who is to blame or who is responsible.

"Conservative argument: In the long run, providing opportunity and social stability will lead to greater prosperity by providing a motivated, healthy and educated workforce."

It must be nice to have only two viewpoints to consider.

 
At 9/08/2012 5:09 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Playing at being the clown again, eh larry g?"

He's not playing.

 
At 9/08/2012 5:17 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

actually Juandos wants to spend a ton of money on DOD and Ron, thinks we spend way too much...

so they divert the issue a bit, eh

Oh.. and Juandos:

our Fed budget revenues (actually money take in ) look like this:

2.3 Trillion

but 819 billion of that is FICA taxes that get spend for SS and Medicare.

so you have 2.3T - 819B =1.48T

that's what you have left to pay
for DOD, non-FICA entitlements, etc.

the DOD budget is 700B - and that does not count the VA, NASA, Homeland Security, CIA, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Receipts_-_FY_2007.png

 
At 9/09/2012 8:50 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Zachriel: Liberal argument: Children (and many adults) are not to blame for their circumstances.

Ron H: And neither are we.

Adults have some responsibility, though sometimes circumstances can be beyond their control. For instance, the government helps when there is a natural disaster.

Children have a much reduced responsibility for their situation.

Ron H: The issue, that you keep either missing or ignoring is the taking, not who is to blame or who is responsible.

If you are to blame or somehow responsible, then the taking is an issue of justice. You're probably concerned about the cases where you have no direct responsibility.

In a democratic society, people have rights and responsibilities. Most democratic societies have decided that, at the very least, children should be provided the opportunity of an education.

 
At 9/09/2012 9:00 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: the children

not their problem.... and "exhorting" taxes to educate them is theft.

 
At 9/09/2012 9:06 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Adults have some responsibility, though sometimes circumstances can be beyond their control. For instance, the government helps when there is a natural disaster.

Bad example. During Katrina the government stopped private charities and volunteers from delivering food and water. Police were looting and wound up killing a few people. The worst of the floods happened because the government maintained levees failed.


 
At 9/09/2012 9:11 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" During Katrina the government stopped private charities and volunteers from delivering food and water. "

really? They stopped any/all charities from helping?

you live in a dream world guy and you can't even admit the truth and the truth is there was a crap load of charities involved and the vast majority of them were unfettered by the govt once it was safe for them to go.



 
At 9/09/2012 9:36 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

really? They stopped any/all charities from helping?

you live in a dream world guy and you can't even admit the truth and the truth is there was a crap load of charities involved and the vast majority of them were unfettered by the govt once it was safe for them to go.


The government turned back hundreds of trucks full of supplies, volunteers from across the country, and even local charities. FEMA was incompetent and seems not to have improved except in the ways it handles PR. And as I pointed out, the only reason there was a flood was because the government was not very good at building and maintaining levees.

 
At 9/09/2012 9:39 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Bad example.

No, it's still a good example. The Katrina disaster relief was run by people who espoused a belief that government was ineffective, hence neglected the agency charged with disaster relief. There have been other disasters where governments have been effective, and not only in the U.S.

You seem to think government can be avoided somehow. It can't. Hence, the need for good governance.

 
At 9/09/2012 9:39 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

there were a LOT of charities involved after safety was established.

you live in a dream world that refuses to acknowledges simple facts - because your ideology requires something other than reality to hold together.

there was a tremendous number of charities involved once the area was secured and made safe.

 
At 9/09/2012 9:42 AM, Blogger Larry G said...


Hurricane Katrina disaster relief

Non-governmental organizations

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

 
At 9/09/2012 10:10 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

"In the first two weeks after the storm, the Red Cross had deployed 74,000 volunteers who provided shelter to 160,000 evacuees and more than 7.5 million hot meals."

 
At 9/09/2012 2:16 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "For instance, the government helps when there is a natural disaster. "

Heh. Yes. I suppose we should be grateful for that.

"Adults have some responsibility, though sometimes circumstances can be beyond their control"

And those circumstances are generally beyond our control also. You haven't explained why we should be forced to help people far away from us who we don't even know exist, when there are people near us who we DO know of who we would willingly help.

"If you are to blame or somehow responsible, then the taking is an issue of justice."

Of course, except the word "somehow" should be "directly".

"You're probably concerned about the cases where you have no direct responsibility."

That's correct.

"In a democratic society, people have rights and responsibilities."

We believe that people have natural rights inherent to being human. Some people use the phrase "endowed by their creator". You on the other hand believe that rights are only provided by government.

We also believe that the only legitimate role of government is to protect those rights.

It's unlikely we will ever get past that difference in beliefs.

"Most democratic societies have decided that, at the very least, children should be provided the opportunity of an education."

Tyranny of the majority is tyranny, period. It's no more legitimate than tyranny of a single monarch or oligarchy.

If a majority of people believe that children should have the opportunity of an education, then they should have no problem providing that opportunity. We can't think of any reason why a minority should be forced to reduce their costs of doing so.

Please don't write that "we all benefit from educated citizens" or some such nonsense, because it should be clear that the current public education system isn't providing much of that considering the cost.

In addition, we have a problem with the word "opportunity" when in fact children are forced to attend school whether or not their parents want them to.

 
At 9/09/2012 2:51 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "No, it's still a good example. The Katrina disaster relief was run by people who espoused a belief that government was ineffective, hence neglected the agency charged with disaster relief."

You must be joking. Incompetence was evident at local, state, and federal levels, and involved many agencies at those levels including the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA at the federal level.

Here are some additional news articles describing government failures after hurricane Katrina.

"There have been other disasters where governments have been effective, and not only in the U.S."

No doubt. Not even governments fail every time.

"You seem to think government can be avoided somehow. It can't. Hence, the need for good governance. "

But we didn't see much good governmance following the Katrina disaster, instead we saw incompetence and actual harm to those in need at every level of government.

 
At 9/09/2012 3:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"there was a tremendous number of charities involved once the area was secured and made safe."

Think about what you are defending here. What were the priorities? To ensure the safety of volunteers was more important than getting food and water to those who were desperate? How many died waiting for water?

Being incompetent to do your job, your whole reason to exist, is bad enough, but to keep others from doing what's desperately needed is criminal.

 
At 9/09/2012 3:01 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: We believe that people have natural rights inherent to being human. Some people use the phrase "endowed by their creator". You on the other hand believe that rights are only provided by government.

People do have inherent rights. They also have additional rights and responsibilities as members of a democratic society.

Ron H: It's unlikely we will ever get past that difference in beliefs.

That's right. While democracy is the worst of all systems, except all the other ones, you have the easy task of criticism and proposing simplistic and unworkable solutions.

Ron H: Tyranny of the majority is tyranny, period.

There are still places where government doesn't provide a social safety net for children. Go for it!

Ron H: If a majority of people believe that children should have the opportunity of an education, then they should have no problem providing that opportunity.

In a democratic society, it's done through a constitutional process, speaking, voting, passing legislation, and so on.

Ron H: Incompetence was evident at local, state, and federal levels, and involved many agencies at those levels including the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA at the federal level.

The worst of all systems ...

By the way, the process of public criticism is how systems become more responsive.

 
At 9/09/2012 3:18 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "In the first two weeks after the storm, the Red Cross had deployed 74,000 volunteers who provided shelter to 160,000 evacuees and more than 7.5 million hot meals."

Yes, the Red Cross did a much better job than they did after 9/11, but when did they start?

In the weeks following the last great domestic disaster, 9/11, the American Red Cross stockpiled blood for those who didn't need it, refused to share critical victim information with other charities, and was dressed down before Congress for planning to use relief funds to improve its internal operations.

The agency's response has had its flaws. At the height of the New Orleans flooding, the Red Cross followed government orders to steer clear of the Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center, leaving starving people stranded.

The point isn't that private charity wasn't forthcoming, but that it was unconscionably delayed by government mismanagement.

 
At 9/09/2012 3:46 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " You haven't explained why we should be forced to help people far away from us who we don't even know exist"

because if the situation is reversed, you get help.

it's like insurance.

re: Red Cross

you need to read up on their activities prior to 911.. as well as other NGOs during disasters.

" The point isn't that private charity wasn't forthcoming, but that it was unconscionably delayed by government mismanagement. "

only to folks like you.. not most folks...

NGO's like the RC need to have some level of safety and logistical support from the govt in terms of infrastructure before they can deploy and set up.

you totally misunderstand the role of govt and NGOs in disasters.

NGO's cannot do what govt does and they depend on the govt to do their part before they an do their part.




 
At 9/09/2012 4:32 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"People do have inherent rights. They also have additional rights and responsibilities as members of a democratic society."

But who are members? Your majority has decided that we are all members whether we choose to be or not. How is that be just?

We would claim that the individual is sovereign and voluntarily joins with others to form organizations for their common benefit, while you would claim that the collective is sovereign and the individual merely a subject with those rights the collective grants them.

The problem is government monopoly of the use of force and of those services it provides. If competition were allowed we would soon see which providers were best at providing those services we actually want. Do you think the USPS would survive open competition? How much would we willingly pay for a national level Department of Energy or Education?

"There are still places where government doesn't provide a social safety net for children. Go for it!"

Those are places where government still doesn't protect property rights and enforce contracts so there is no way for anyone to acquire the levels of wealth and income to afford such safety nets.

You might be surprised to learn that some of the very poorest people in the World are willing to pay for private education for their children because public education is inadequate.

"That's right. While democracy is the worst of all systems, except all the other ones, you have the easy task of criticism and proposing simplistic and unworkable solutions. "

And you have the difficult task of explaining why a system must be imposed on peaceful people against their will, and why they should be forced to pay for it.

"People do have inherent rights. "

Among those are life, liberty, and property.

If we are forced to give up a part of our propert in amounts determined by someone else, then we could be forced to give up all of it. Either property is being stolen from us or it isn't ours to begin with.

We haven't agreed to a social contract by virtue of the accident of our birth.

Do you have a "you didn't build that" argument?

 
At 9/09/2012 4:44 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Your majority has decided that we are all members whether we choose to be or not. How is that be just?"

where would you go in the world for a better deal?

seems like you have two choices. Even go to a place where people can vote and the majority decides or go to a place where a dictator decides.

what other options do you have?

are there places where you can go where your ideal of self-rule exists?

 
At 9/09/2012 5:35 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: But who are members? Your majority has decided that we are all members whether we choose to be or not. How is that be just?

It's called the social contract. As people live in society, they have to make accommodations to one another.

Feel free to renounce your citizenship and flee whatever democratic tyranny you live under.

Ron H: We would claim that the individual is sovereign and voluntarily joins with others to form organizations for their common benefit, while you would claim that the collective is sovereign and the individual merely a subject with those rights the collective grants them.

No, we wouldn't make that claim.

Ron H: Those are places where government still doesn't protect property rights and enforce contracts so there is no way for anyone to acquire the levels of wealth and income to afford such safety nets.

Places without constitutional government and the rule of law tend to not protect property rights or minorities or children.

Ron H: And you have the difficult task of explaining why a system must be imposed on peaceful people against their will, and why they should be forced to pay for it.

Not so difficult. Most people realize that government is inevitable, so democratic governance is preferable to other forms of government.

 
At 9/09/2012 8:51 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"It's called the social contract. As people live in society, they have to make accommodations to one another"

But as the majority rules, they need not accommodate the minority.

My social contract is simple, and it's one I choose, not one that's been forced on me: I will initiate no aggressive force against others.

"Feel free to renounce your citizenship and flee whatever democratic tyranny you live under. "

I was born here. I shouldn't be forced to flee to enjoy my rights. The role of government should be to protect my rights not abuse them.

Citizenship? I didn't ask for citizenship, someone has apparently decided that for me, based on where I was born.

"No, we wouldn't make that claim."

How, then, does your claim differ? Is the State not sovereign? The State can now assassinate any one the President designates including citizens. Anyone can be detained for "suspicion" indefinitely without charge or legal representation. Anyone can have their property seized on suspicion only. All of our communications in every form can be recorded, everyone we contact can be known, our exact location can be determined at any time, our browsing and shopping preferences known, in fact law enforcement can determine how many people are in a house from the air.

In medieval times even the king didn't have that much power.

The really scary part about it is that some people believe that "if you're not doing anything wrong, why would that bother you?"

Winston Smith had more privacy.

What claim would you make?

Social contract our asses.

"Not so difficult. Most people realize that government is inevitable, so democratic governance is preferable to other forms of government. "

That didn't answer the question.

 
At 9/10/2012 6:27 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: But as the majority rules, they need not accommodate the minority.

In modern democracies, power is distributed throughout society, including in the U.S. the Bill of Rights and a judiciary.

Ron H: My social contract is simple, and it's one I choose, not one that's been forced on me: I will initiate no aggressive force against others.

Guess you choose not to live in a modern democracy then.

Ron H: I was born here.

"Here" is rather vague on the Internet. Perhaps you mean the U.S.

Ron H: I shouldn't be forced to flee to enjoy my rights. The role of government should be to protect my rights not abuse them.

Protecting rights means making accommodation to people living together. It's the worst of all systems ...

Ron H: Citizenship? I didn't ask for citizenship, someone has apparently decided that for me, based on where I was born.

They have a special procedure to help you resolve that issue.

Bureau of Consular Affairs
U.S. Department of State
SA-29, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20520

Ron H: Is the State not sovereign?

The people are sovereign and the it is the right of the people to institute government.

Ron H: In medieval times even the king didn't have that much power.

Which is why liberty requires constant vigilance. But waving your hands about your head doesn't protect anyone or anything.

Ron H: Social contract our asses.

The Constitution can be dissolved through the amendment process. But your position is so removed from reality that it is very unlikely people will follow your lead.

Ron H: That didn't answer the question.

Sure we did. You just didn't like the question.

 
At 9/10/2012 6:33 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

No, it's still a good example. The Katrina disaster relief was run by people who espoused a belief that government was ineffective, hence neglected the agency charged with disaster relief. There have been other disasters where governments have been effective, and not only in the U.S.

You call what FEMA did in New Orleans effective?

 
At 9/10/2012 6:39 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" You call what FEMA did in New Orleans effective?"

compared to what?

Can you show a superior effort by other countries in other disasters?

to what are you comparing ?

 
At 9/10/2012 6:45 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

there was a tremendous number of charities involved once the area was secured and made safe.

They stopped trained rescue squads from taking part in the operations even after FEMA knew that NO police officers were looting and actually killed people. The point of relief is to let in the rescue people when there is danger and their skills are best put to use. And there was no need to turn back the trucks full of bottled water, food, medicine because the charities were quite capable of setting up distribution areas in non-flooded areas.

Only an idiot or ideologue could defend the incompetence shown by FEMA. The sooner it is shut down the better.

 
At 9/10/2012 6:55 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" incompetence shown by FEMA. The sooner it is shut down the better"

and replaced with what?

FEMA is primarily a coordinator. It has few direct resources.

For instance, the National Guard is often the first to go into a disaster region... to establish security and assess infrastructure status.

I'm sure in your world, you'd also say that the military is incompetent also.

no disaster is a model in perfection.

they are, by their nature, chaotic and disruptive of most institutions including the ones responding.

you have no answers here.

you think that NGOs can do what FEMA and the Nat Guard is supposed to do.. and it betrays an ignorance of simple things.

 
At 9/10/2012 7:05 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Hurricane Katrina disaster relief

Non-governmental organizations

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


The article describes what happened a few weeks after the storm was over. It does not deal with what happened in the hours after the storm was over and people needed as many rescuers as possible to get to them or a way out of harm's way. It is very clear that FEMA and the local governments in charge were incompetent.

Final Report: U.S. House of Representatives Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina

The Select Committee identified failures at all levels of government that significantly undermined and detracted from the heroic efforts of first responders, private individuals and organizations, faith-based groups, and others.

The failure of local, state, and federal governments to respond more effectively to Katrina — which had been predicted in theory for many years, and forecast with startling accuracy for five days — demonstrates that whatever improvements have been made to our capacity to respond to natural or man-made disasters, four and half years after 9/11, we are still not fully prepared. Local first responders were largely overwhelmed and unable to perform their duties, and the National Response Plan did not adequately provide a way for federal assets to quickly supplement or, if necessary, supplant first responders.


Stumbling Storm-Aid Effort Put Tons of Ice on Trips to Nowhere

The FEMA ice follies

Incompetence of Katrina relief effort 'has cost lives' says Congressman

 
At 9/10/2012 7:10 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

"In the first two weeks after the storm, the Red Cross had deployed 74,000 volunteers who provided shelter to 160,000 evacuees and more than 7.5 million hot meals."

But rescue teams were turned back. And police stopped people from escaping the flooded areas and turned them back at gunpoint.

Hell, even Congress agrees with me. The failure of local, state, and federal governments to respond more effectively to Katrina — which had been predicted in theory for many years, and forecast with startling accuracy for five days — demonstrates that whatever improvements have been made to our capacity to respond to natural or man-made disasters, four and half years after 9/11, we are still not fully prepared. Local first responders were largely overwhelmed and unable to perform their duties, and the National Response Plan did not adequately provide a way for federal assets to quickly supplement or, if necessary, supplant first responders.

And note that the conclusions in the report cited above are the whitewashed version. But even that summary agrees that all levels of government failed and undermined the efforts private individuals and organizations, faith-based groups, and others who came to help but were not permitted to help in a timely manner.

 
At 9/10/2012 7:48 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

It's called the social contract. As people live in society, they have to make accommodations to one another.

Contracts require consent. You and your fellow socialists or national socialists are free to make any contracts that you wish and live up to the terms as long as they apply everyone who has signed those contracts. But you can't create a valid contract that binds others who are not signatures to it.

Feel free to renounce your citizenship and flee whatever democratic tyranny you live under.

Why? Ron has every right to be where he is. If the government legitimately owned the land that he were occupying then he would be required to leave if he did not wish to live by the rules of the owners. But the government is not legitimate because it does not have the consent of the governed or any right to the territory that it claims to govern.

In modern democracies, power is distributed throughout society, including in the U.S. the Bill of Rights and a judiciary.

No. Power is not distributed. The same parasites always call the shots and live off the efforts of others.

 
At 9/10/2012 8:00 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

It was not FEMA nor local govt best day, no question about it but in many other disasters FEMA, local and state and Fed govt have done much better.

but what you are arguing here is to abolish FEMA using the excuse that it has been incompetent once or more therefore it should not exist.

What in your world should exist to deal with disasters?

You would advocate nothing - that would take taxes from you to provide such a govt function.

right?

so why don't you argue on your principles to start with because not every govt response to disaster is incompetent.

It is what it is and most people who are victims are damned glad to see things like Govt helicopters and National Guard folks.

NGO's are not capable of deploying the hardware that govt can deploy but your view seems to be that such agencies should be voluntarily-supported charities and not govt.

Once again, you do not argue on your principle here.. you use excuses like "incompetence" to argue that the agency and function itself should not exist at all if it needs taxes to operate.

correct?

 
At 9/10/2012 11:48 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Zachriel: There have been other disasters where governments have been effective, and not only in the U.S.

VangelV: You call what FEMA did in New Orleans effective?

Not particularly, but certainly more effective than no response whatsoever. Notably, ideological opposition to government helped undermine the agency.

VangelV: Contracts require consent.

The social contract is arrived at by consensus.

VangelV: But you can't create a valid contract that binds others who are not signatures to it.

You're evidently wrong about that. The reasoning is contained in the Declaration of Independence.

VangelV: If the government legitimately owned the land that he were occupying then he would be required to leave if he did not wish to live by the rules of the owners.

Most property ownership is by fee simple. Check your deed.

VangelV: No. Power is not distributed.

Of course it's distributed, just not in the extreme individualist manner you would prefer.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:06 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

compared to what?

Compared to giving responsibility to local residents, not government agencies. The entire flooding would never had happened without the incompetence of the bureaucrats who were in charge of the levees. Once the disaster happened the bureaucrats in charge prevented search and rescue volunteers from doing the jobs they came to do. Police actually shot guns over the heads of crowds turning them back from areas that were not flooded. FEMA left people packed in a crumbling football stadium without water and other essentials and would not let them leave after conditions became unbearable. When money was spent on temporary shelter they purchased toxic trailers that poisoned their residents. FEMA also handed out debit cards to people who were not eligible and meddled in the efforts to provide services after the immediate crisis passed.

I cited a Congressional report that supported my claims even after some of the more serious issues were ignored and many of the problems were swept under the table.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:08 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

and replaced with what?

Nothing. Without the waste at FEMA people would have to realize that they need insurance if they want to build on floodplains and would have to make sure that they were prepared for emergencies or leave if they weren't. There would be no false sense of security to create needless victims and no barriers to charities stepping in to help victims.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:09 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

but what you are arguing here is to abolish FEMA using the excuse that it has been incompetent once or more therefore it should not exist.

It is not authorized in the Constitution so it should not exist. Neither should most federal agencies.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "They have a special procedure to help you resolve that issue. "

Why would we need to follow someone's special procedure to know what name we wish to call ourselves?

"Sure we did. You just didn't like the question."

It was our question. Why wouldn't we like it? You didn't address it, but instead suggested that people resign themselves and make the best of it.

""Here" is rather vague on the Internet. Perhaps you mean the U.S."

Perhaps we do, but it doesn't matter where "here" is. The principle is the same.

"Which is why liberty requires constant vigilance."

You write that as if you understand what it means.

"The social contract is arrived at by consensus. "

This is meaningless drivel.

"Of course it's distributed, just not in the extreme individualist manner you would prefer."

And why wouldn't it be unless someone else knows better than we do what's in our best interest?

 
At 9/10/2012 2:44 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: your best interests

may well not be others.

this is where consensus and elected govt come in.


"liberty" is a concept that means different things to different people.

when the phrase says "liberty and justice for all".. it has many meanings.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:44 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Not particularly, but certainly more effective than no response whatsoever. "

Are you sure? It would appear that no response would have allowed private charities to respond immediately, but instead they were kept away so that no help was available to people, some of whom died as a result.

"Notably, ideological opposition to government helped undermine the agency. "

You have written that more than once, so it must mean something to you. Maybe you could explain. If FEMA was undermined by ideologues, it shouldn't have been unleashed to not only act ineffectively, but to actually cause additional harm.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:46 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Larry - quit yapping and nipping at my ankle

 
At 9/10/2012 2:49 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: The entire flooding would never had happened without the incompetence of the bureaucrats who were in charge of the levees.

And much of the Mississippi basin would be subject to constant flooding without the levees, some of the most productive lands in the U.S.

VangelV: Without the waste at FEMA people would have to realize that they need insurance if they want to build on floodplains and would have to make sure that they were prepared for emergencies or leave if they weren't.

Every person to themselves, even during natural disasters is contrary to human nature. People will organize themselves to respond to threats. That's what people do.

VangelV: It is not authorized in the Constitution so it should not exist.

The U.S. Constitution certainly does give power to the federal government to pass legislation, to tax and implement laws. Perhaps you are thinking of the Articles of Confederation.

Ron H: Why would we need to follow someone's special procedure to know what name we wish to call ourselves?

You can call yourself a stick of celery. Doesn't change anything.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:51 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: It would appear that no response would have allowed private charities to respond immediately, but instead they were kept away so that no help was available to people, some of whom died as a result.

You're exaggerating. While the federal response was not nearly at the level of efficiency people want and expect, it was far more effective than if no effort had been made. Nor is Katrina the only disaster that has ever occurred.

Ron H: If FEMA was undermined by ideologues, it shouldn't have been unleashed to not only act ineffectively, but to actually cause additional harm.

That's what happens when ideologues are confronted by reality.

 
At 9/10/2012 2:56 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Every person to themselves, even during natural disasters is contrary to human nature. People will organize themselves to respond to threats. That's what people do."

That's absolutely correct - But only government agencies would prevent them from actually responding.

 
At 9/10/2012 3:01 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " You can call yourself a stick of celery. Doesn't change anything."

indeed.

but Ron doesn't realize it even when he is seeking stick of celery status.

:-)

 
At 9/10/2012 3:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "That's what happens when ideologues are confronted by reality. "

Gee, another meaningless response.

"You're exaggerating."

Exaggerating? It's a well documented fact that people died from lack of critical essentials because responders who were prepared to help were prevented from doing so.

 
At 9/10/2012 3:06 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Larry:

Yip! Yip! Grrrr Yip! Yip! Grrr

 
At 9/10/2012 4:09 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Gee, another meaningless response.

Sure it's meaningful, even if you disagree. Ideologues convinced themselves that government was not necessary, then when they needed a government agency to respond to a natural disaster, they found it was atrophied and lacked effective leadership.

Ron H: Exaggerating? It's a well documented fact that people died from lack of critical essentials because responders who were prepared to help were prevented from doing so.

Yes, but far more would have been lost without any government response.

 
At 9/10/2012 6:19 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Yes, but far more would have been lost without any government response."

When Larry makes a baseless statement like that we accuse him of pulling it out of his ass.

"Sure it's meaningful, even if you disagree. Ideologues convinced themselves that government was not necessary, then when they needed a government agency to respond to a natural disaster, they found it was atrophied and lacked effective leadership. "

What ideologues could you possibly mean, and what federal agency has ever atrophied? The TVA still exists for God's sake.

After 9/11 yet another enormous, bloated bureaucracy, the DHS, was created to coordinate existing defense and emergency agencies - including FEMA - so that the Keystone Cops type of bumbling and lack of communication among agencies that occurred prior to that disaster would never reoccur, and that coordinated communication and efficient response to any disaster, natural or man made, would take place.

Sure enough, in not quite 4 years - enough time to make necessary changes but not enough time for anyone to forget why they were making those changes - an opportunity presented itself to test those improvements, FEMA, as well as State and local agencies, fell flat on their faces.

It's really amusing to watch you try to put lipstick on that pig.

 
At 9/10/2012 6:29 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"then when they needed a government agency to respond to a natural disaster, they found it was atrophied and lacked effective leadership"...

ROFLMAO!

Good one zach!

FEMA was needed like Custer needed another indian...

 
At 9/10/2012 8:55 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

And much of the Mississippi basin would be subject to constant flooding without the levees, some of the most productive lands in the U.S.

I have never said anything about not building levees. Only that they should not be built or maintained by government. You can bet your bottom line that if insurance companies had to pay the full amount for damages or that premiums were not subsidized by government the levees would be much more effective than they are now. If they weren't the people who screwed up would pay for their errors.

Every person to themselves, even during natural disasters is contrary to human nature. People will organize themselves to respond to threats. That's what people do.

I never said that either. I simply said that government should not dictate how people respond to disasters. FEMA and the local idiots had no right to turn back competent search and rescue teams or to deny victims ice and water because they were incapable of handling the distribution. The private responders were more than capable and have had more experience than the idiots in charge of the operations.


The U.S. Constitution certainly does give power to the federal government to pass legislation, to tax and implement laws. Perhaps you are thinking of the Articles of Confederation.

No. I am thinking of the Constitution. Health, housing, emergency responses, and many other activities are not authorized by the Constitution. I suggest that you try reading it and the Federalist paper that explain what the powers given to government really were.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:10 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Only that {levees} should not be built or maintained by government.

Levees span across multiple geographic regions, which often have competing concerns. Some sort of centralization is inevitable.

VangelV: You can bet your bottom line that if insurance companies had to pay the full amount for damages or that premiums were not subsidized by government the levees would be much more effective than they are now.

No. What would happen is that overall development would be much reduced.

VangelV: I simply said that government should not dictate how people respond to disasters.

Except that the people most directly concerned don't have the resources by definition. It requires people outside to prepare for disasters, and have the infrastructure available when called upon.

VangelV: Health, housing, emergency responses, and many other activities are not authorized by the Constitution.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress shall have to power to provide for the general welfare. Federal disaster relief dates to 1803.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:18 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: What ideologues could you possibly mean, and what federal agency has ever atrophied?

The Bush Administration was full of people who thought government was the problem for everything but national security, hence they paid little attention to making sure agencies of the government were in good working order.

FEMA was allowed to atrophy, due to poor leadership and lack of funding. In particular, the government found that preparedness exercises are "one component of preparedness that has been allowed to atrophy".

 
At 9/11/2012 7:52 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Levees span across multiple geographic regions, which often have competing concerns. Some sort of centralization is inevitable.

No it isn't. Their construction requires cooperation to ensure that no one group is harmed by the actions of another. Centralization is way for some to take advantage of others without proper compensation.

No. What would happen is that overall development would be much reduced.

If you mean that people who can get subsidized insurance to build on flood plains will not build there you are correct. But that is the way things should be. Why should taxpayers subsidize risky activities of people who don't want to pay for insuring those risks.

But you are missing the point. I argue that the risks that make land in certain areas can attract investment by individuals who are willing to take matters in their own hands and decide that it is more economic to manage those risks by building the right type of infrastructure. You could still have a city like New Orleans built where it is. But the city that would be there would be run and maintained by trusts and associations that are looking after the investment of the people who live there, not bureaucrats from the federal government who have no incentives to do what is right rather than what is expedient.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:56 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Except that the people most directly concerned don't have the resources by definition. It requires people outside to prepare for disasters, and have the infrastructure available when called upon.

That is not a problem. Plenty of resources come into an area when there is a disaster and a decentralised effort by organizations who are good at what they do is much more effective than having some idiot in FEMA call all the shots using a top-down system of command and control.

But note that in a system where risks are paid for properly there would be fewer disasters that displace large numbers of people who are unprepared. There would be no inadequate levees not being maintained properly by the federal government and no thought of riding out the danger by hoping for unlimited resources to move into the area to help residents. People would leave earlier and fewer people who could not look after themselves would live in the area.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress shall have to power to provide for the general welfare. Federal disaster relief dates to 1803.

Yes it does. But if you read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers you will learn that your interpretation does not agree with the people who ratified the Constitution. The states did not want to give the federal government all the power it has taken over the years.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:56 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Except that the people most directly concerned don't have the resources by definition. It requires people outside to prepare for disasters, and have the infrastructure available when called upon.

That is not a problem. Plenty of resources come into an area when there is a disaster and a decentralised effort by organizations who are good at what they do is much more effective than having some idiot in FEMA call all the shots using a top-down system of command and control.

But note that in a system where risks are paid for properly there would be fewer disasters that displace large numbers of people who are unprepared. There would be no inadequate levees not being maintained properly by the federal government and no thought of riding out the danger by hoping for unlimited resources to move into the area to help residents. People would leave earlier and fewer people who could not look after themselves would live in the area.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress shall have to power to provide for the general welfare. Federal disaster relief dates to 1803.

Yes it does. But if you read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers you will learn that your interpretation does not agree with the people who ratified the Constitution. The states did not want to give the federal government all the power it has taken over the years.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:57 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

The Bush Administration was full of people who thought government was the problem for everything but national security, hence they paid little attention to making sure agencies of the government were in good working order.

FEMA was allowed to atrophy, due to poor leadership and lack of funding. In particular, the government found that preparedness exercises are "one component of preparedness that has been allowed to atrophy".


Bush spent more money than Clinton and expanded the size of government substantially.

 
At 9/11/2012 8:02 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

Van espouses a model that he says is far better than what we have

but if Van is correct then why does this superior model not exist anywhere in the world?

One would think that any method or model that proved superior to others would be not only adopted but adopted widely and become the standard approach.

but this approach he is advocating simply does not exist in the world as far as I know.

How can it be the best approach but not exist?

 
At 9/11/2012 8:36 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Van espouses a model that he says is far better than what we have

but if Van is correct then why does this superior model not exist anywhere in the world?


Because there is profit in being a parasite. The argument between us is about the desirability of being the host. I would rather get rid of the parasites and point out that all that it takes is to say no. There is no violence or revolution necessary because the ruled are much more numerous than the ruling class. In fact the ruling class does not use much in the way of violence against the ruled. It depends on persuasion, which is why public intellectuals and academia is on the government payroll or paid directly by the ruling class one way or another.

 
At 9/11/2012 9:20 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Their construction requires cooperation to ensure that no one group is harmed by the actions of another.

Yes, but conflict often results because some can and do gain advantage without cost to themselves. And history shows that when such situations occur, either violence or centralization occur.

VangelV: If you mean that people who can get subsidized insurance to build on flood plains will not build there you are correct.

You're advocating abandoning the Mississippi flood plain, some of the most productive lands in America. Other regions which have periodic natural disasters include the hurricane-prone coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico, earthquake-prone regions of California, tornado-prone areas of the Midwest. That's just in the U.S. Presumably, you would also abandon Bangladesh, though where you would put all those people it's hard to tell.

VangelV: You could still have a city like New Orleans built where it is. But the city that would be there would be run and maintained by trusts and associations that are looking after the investment of the people who live there, not bureaucrats from the federal government who have no incentives to do what is right rather than what is expedient.

Insurance companies have been periodically overwhelmed by the costs of natural disasters. Because of the scale of these disasters, only the federal government has the scale to cope with the costs of planning and response involved.

VangelV: But if you read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers you will learn that your interpretation does not agree with the people who ratified the Constitution.

Then they shouldn't have included the general welfare clause. Best get to work to amend it then.

VangelV: Bush spent more money than Clinton and expanded the size of government substantially.

A Short History of FEMA

"Clinton administration appoints James Lee Witt director. He is the first in the agency's history with direct experience in emergency management."

"FEMA is downgraded from an independent agency to a sub-department of Homeland Security. Morale plummets. Scores of lifelong employees leave. Michael Brown, FEMA counsel, takes over... FEMA loses money to other agencies."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/storm/etc/femahist.html

Larry G: but if Van is correct then why does this superior model not exist anywhere in the world?

VangelV: Because there is profit in being a parasite.

Surely, if it is more efficient, some version of it would be able to flourish long enough to overcome such obstacles. Seems like pie-in-the-sky.

 
At 9/11/2012 9:22 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Is this like Lennon's "Imagine"? (Except Lennon obviously knew that it was a vision and not a political plan.)

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

 
At 9/11/2012 9:42 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

we are told that capitalism and competition are the best economic system.

I do not doubt it for a minute and there is proof positive that it is in many countries ...

but what Van is advocating does not exist anywhere in the world as far as I can tell and yet as far as I can tell, it has the same opportunity to survive and exist as capitalism does - parasites and all.

this is the conundrum with much of what Van (and some others here) advocate.

It's almost as if there is a belief that it COULD exist but there is essentially a world-wide group of people who prevent it...

I'm not calling it a worldwide conspiracy but the idea that there is no government, no country in the entire world that works the way that Van says it could - seriously undercuts his arguments - IMHO.

I'd not even rule out that some day, some country may actually convert to Van's way of governance... but until I see at least some sign of it - it's just hard to accept.

 
At 9/11/2012 10:13 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Larry G: I'd not even rule out that some day, some country may actually convert to Van's way of governance...

Sure, as a utopian ideal, it can even provide a pathway forward. As a conservative, we need to look at the unintended consequences of following that path. But when the visionary confuses the vision for reality, then that's where the problem comes in.

 
At 9/11/2012 10:28 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

Z - you made an excellent point (among many)...

you said that there are competing interests.

and that's a major conundrum in people "agreeing".

 
At 9/11/2012 1:39 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "The Bush Administration was full of people who thought government was the problem for everything but national security, hence they paid little attention to making sure agencies of the government were in good working order.

FEMA was allowed to atrophy, due to poor leadership and lack of funding. In particular, the government found that preparedness exercises are "one component of preparedness that has been allowed to atrophy".
"

You are describing a massive failure of government to perform it's intended function due to conflicting interests and competition for resources within that government organization - despite what was then a recent, loudly proclaimed emphasis on preparedness. The exact reason why government responses are inferior to private responses supported by those with a real interest in outcomes, instead of those seeking to further their own political goals.

Thank you for making our point for us.

Incentives matter.

 
At 9/11/2012 1:57 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Levees span across multiple geographic regions, which often have competing concerns. Some sort of centralization is inevitable. "

That's nonsense. All manner of infrastructure including roads, bridges, transoceanic cables, tunnels, ferries - and levees - are built through cooperation between interested parties from different political entities at all levels without any central control or planning.

Global travel, communication, trade, and shipping all flourish these days without any central planning. How is that possible in your worldview?

 
At 9/11/2012 2:13 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"That's just in the U.S. Presumably, you would also abandon Bangladesh, though where you would put all those people it's hard to tell."

And here we have the very essence of your misguided belief system: That someone should "put all those people" somewhere.

The people of Bangladesh have every bit as much right as the rest of us to direct their own lives. It is neither our right nor our responsibility to "put all those people" somewhere.

 
At 9/11/2012 2:31 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: The exact reason why government responses are inferior to private responses supported by those with a real interest in outcomes, instead of those seeking to further their own political goals.

That doesn't follow. Private responses also have competing interests. Public interests are constrained by public concerns. Depending on the situation, those may or may not lead to a better solution.

Ron H: All manner of infrastructure including roads, bridges, transoceanic cables, tunnels, ferries - and levees - are built through cooperation between interested parties from different political entities at all levels without any central control or planning.

Transportation networks that cross political boundaries nearly always involve public authorities. Larger structures nearly always involve public authorities.

Ron H: Global travel, communication, trade, and shipping all flourish these days without any central planning.

Governments provide the stable environment for markets to flourish, if that is what you mean.

 
At 9/11/2012 3:08 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

V: "Their construction requires cooperation to ensure that no one group is harmed by the actions of another."

Z: "Yes, but conflict often results because some can and do gain advantage without cost to themselves. And history shows that when such situations occur, either violence or centralization occur."

What does that have to do with cooperation across political boundaries? Conflicts arise between groups at all levels, even within centralized entities. Centralization hasn't solved that problem, but instead has ensured that when conflicts arise between larger groups, the resulting violence will be far more destructive, and involve many more innocent victims.

And yes, conflict may result in violence then centralization because one group has conquered and subjugated the other.

As we're sure you know, centralization has failed to prevent hundreds of regional and ethnic conflicts in the last century. When people don't believe the central authority is acting in their best interest they reject it, in which case the only way to to maintain that authority is through violence and subjugation.

In those cases, remind us once again whose interest is being served by central government.

 
At 9/11/2012 3:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "You're advocating abandoning the Mississippi flood plain, some of the most productive lands in America..."

No, we believe he is advocating that those who choose to live in a major floodplain or other high risk area should assume that risk for themselves, and not ask all taxpayers to assume that risk for them.

It seems like such a logical notion!

 
At 9/11/2012 3:27 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Insurance companies have been periodically overwhelmed by the costs of natural disasters. Because of the scale of these disasters, only the federal government has the scale to cope with the costs of planning and response involved."

That is sheer nonsense. Reinsurance on any level is possible without government involvement, but why bother when taxpayer dollars are available to take up the slack?

And, as we wrote above, federal government has shown itself to be incompetent at providing the scale of response necessary in a major disaster.

Although in terms of numbers of taxpayer's dollars spent, the federal government is far and away the absolute champion. No other group comes close.

 
At 9/11/2012 3:39 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Conflicts arise between groups at all levels, even within centralized entities.

That's right.

Ron H: Centralization hasn't solved that problem

It solves some problems while creating others. Government provides a final authority in resolving disputes, and in democratic societies, the government can represent the public interest.

Ron H: No, we believe he is advocating that those who choose to live in a major floodplain or other high risk area should assume that risk for themselves, and not ask all taxpayers to assume that risk for them.

Which means no outside relief.

Ron H: Reinsurance on any level is possible without government involvement

And yet private insurance failed.


 
At 9/11/2012 4:16 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Surely, if it is more efficient, some version of it would be able to flourish long enough to overcome such obstacles. Seems like pie-in-the-sky. "

Surely if people were meant to fly, God would have given us wings. What a silly notion.

 
At 9/11/2012 4:21 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Except that the people most directly concerned don't have the resources by definition. It requires people outside to prepare for disasters, and have the infrastructure available when called upon."

It's a chicken and egg thing. The people most directly concerned don't need resources because they are promised massive resources by government at taxpayer expense. They would almost certainly be better prepared if they understood the risks, and understood that the responsibility was theirs.

 
At 9/11/2012 4:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Is this like Lennon's "Imagine"? (Except Lennon obviously knew that it was a vision and not a political plan.)"

You must be confused. Lennon imagined a communist paradise.

 
At 9/11/2012 5:07 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"That doesn't follow. Private responses also have competing interests. Public interests are constrained by public concerns. Depending on the situation, those may or may not lead to a better solution."

Perhaps you didn't understand our comment. As *you* explained, the public interest wasn't well served after Hurricane Katrina because of the perverse incentives inherent in huge government bureaucracies, despite the creation of an additional, overarching bureaucracy to coordinate the existing bureaucracies, and a much trumpeted emphasis on better preparedness.

Private individuals and organizations, without central organization poured into the area to provide relief only to be turned back by authorities.

 
At 9/11/2012 5:19 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Transportation networks that cross political boundaries nearly always involve public authorities. Larger structures nearly always involve public authorities. "

Yes, but they involve the separate public authorities that are involved, not a central overarching authority common to both.

Trade exists among firms and individuals from different political systems at great distance from each other such as the US and China. This is possible because of agreement between the parties involved, not because of a central authority.

So your claim about the need for centralization is nonsense.

 
At 9/11/2012 5:22 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Governments provide the stable environment for markets to flourish, if that is what you mean. "

As with so many other things, it appears you have this backwards. It is markets that provide a stable environment for any form of government other than one based on pillage to exist.

 
At 9/11/2012 5:23 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

are you boys familiar with some infrastructure known as "Old River"?

 
At 9/11/2012 5:32 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"It solves some problems while creating others. Government provides a final authority in resolving disputes..."

But there is no final authority on a global scale. One would think that if centralization was a superior form of governance there would be at least one example of it in the world...in the form of a one world government, but we don't see any.

Perhaps smaller is better.

"...and in democratic societies, the government can represent the public interest. "

While that's theoretically possible, we see little evidence for it.

One problem is defining the "public interest". What can it be other than the sum of all individual interests?

 
At 9/11/2012 5:35 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

Have you heard of UNICEF nimrod?

 
At 9/11/2012 5:40 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Zachriel: Surely, if it is more efficient, some version of it would be able to flourish long enough to overcome such obstacles. Seems like pie-in-the-sky.

Ron H: Surely if people were meant to fly, God would have given us wings.

Not sure your point. Vertebrates have evolved flight. Perhaps you mean you can't get there from here, that there is some discontinuity that can't be crossesd. In any case, perhaps you could explain why, if anarcho-capitalism is so much more efficient, that it hasn't dominated the modern world.

Ron H: They would almost certainly be better prepared if they understood the risks, and understood that the responsibility was theirs.

Sure. And that would result in less development in the long run.

Ron H: As *you* explained, the public interest wasn't well served after Hurricane Katrina because of the perverse incentives inherent in huge government bureaucracies, despite the creation of an additional, overarching bureaucracy to coordinate the existing bureaucracies, and a much trumpeted emphasis on better preparedness.

That's right. Central authority, while better than the alternative, is certainly not infallible. Of course, we're discussing central authority working in coordination with other social organizations.

Ron H: Yes, but they involve the separate public authorities that are involved, not a central overarching authority common to both.

You're cutting your argument rather fine where now we're down to two governments reaching agreement. We never indicated that people or organizations can't reach agreements. Indeed society will organize at all levels when the conditions are conducive. Two countries reaching an international agreement is certainly part of that process.

Ron H: It is markets that provide a stable environment for any form of government other than one based on pillage to exist.

It appears that every major economic power has both markets and government.

 
At 9/11/2012 5:43 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: " It appears that every major economic power has both markets and government"

facts are like cockroaches to these boys Z...

 
At 9/11/2012 5:45 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: But there is no final authority on a global scale. One would think that if centralization was a superior form of governance there would be at least one example of it in the world.

Society will organize at all levels when conditions are conducive. There are technological, social and geographic barriers to integration. We do see, when looking at history, that social structures have become generally larger and more integrated with increased trade and technology.

Centralization is a not the best word for this process. Modern technological societies are organized at all levels.

 
At 9/11/2012 6:07 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Ron H: "No, we believe he is advocating that those who choose to live in a major floodplain or other high risk area should assume that risk for themselves, and not ask all taxpayers to assume that risk for them."

Z: "Which means no outside relief."

No, it means little need for outside relief, as faced with assuming all their own risk, few would build on flood plains, on the beach where hurricanes would almost certainly wipe them out every few years, and no one in their right mind would live in a city below sea level and below the levels of an enormous river on one side and a huge lake on the other, that is a likely target for major hurricanes every year.

If nothing else, the class warriors here should be outraged by the reality that their tax money is being spent to repeatedly rebuild houses for rich people.

"And yet private insurance failed."

Private insurance acts on the incentives provided. Why would any company pay to reinsure if taxpayer money is offered whenever needed? It's not clear why you see that as a failure.

Oh. And by the way, incentives matter.

 
At 9/11/2012 6:19 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: No, it means little need for outside relief, as faced with assuming all their own risk, few would build on flood plains,

Sure they would, but development would be much less, and loss of life much higher when disasters strike. It's simply not reasonable to suppose that people would abandon the Mississippi flood basin when it is among the most productive in the world. Or Bangladesh, or many of the world's river basins. Or New Orleans, one of the most important shipping ports in the U.S., which transports the produce of the Mississippi basin.

Because these areas are so important, there has to be a system for disaster relief.

 
At 9/11/2012 6:50 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Not sure your point. Vertebrates have evolved flight. Perhaps you mean you can't get there from here, that there is some discontinuity that can't be crossesd. In any case, perhaps you could explain why, if anarcho-capitalism is so much more efficient, that it hasn't dominated the modern world. "

We will admit that our example wasn't a very good one. Our point is that at various time throughout history, your question of why something isn't more common if it's as good as we claim has been asked about various social and political ideas and institutions throughout history.

At most times until recently slavery was normal and owning another human being was accepted. The idea of all men being equal was a strange idea.

The notion of women voting wasn't common until recently. You probably would have asked Suzie Anthony why such a strange idea wasn't more widely practiced if it was such a great idea.

 
At 9/11/2012 6:57 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Sure. And that would result in less development in the long run."

Less development only made possible with a constant flow of taxpayer dollars. That is your key. When something can't stand on its own and needs constant watering with taxpayer's money its probably not such a good idea after all.

 
At 9/11/2012 6:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "It appears that every major economic power has both markets and government."

But you don't seem to understand which came first.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:08 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Our point is that at various time throughout history, your question of why something isn't more common if it's as good as we claim has been asked about various social and political ideas and institutions throughout history.

Okay, that's a reasonable point. Let's look at your examples.

Ron H: At most times until recently slavery was normal and owning another human being was accepted. The idea of all men being equal was a strange idea.

And there was strong institutional pressures and huge profits working to maintain slavery.

Ron H: The notion of women voting wasn't common until recently. You probably would have asked Suzie Anthony why such a strange idea wasn't more widely practiced if it was such a great idea.

Against institutional pressures along with religious views. Even those people amenable to greater rights for women might be averse to rapid change for conservative reasons, such as fear of unintended consequences.

Slavery meant wealth was concentrated. In ancient times, it meant concentration of power and wealth, and the eradication of competing powers. In the modern age, the slave system was less efficient, but could exist because there was less direct competition. But as the world grew, the freer countries started to dominate.

So there you are. Certainly it seems as if historical forces have resulted first in governments, then in modern democracy. As we have repeatedly said, it's the worst of all systems except for all the others tried up to now.

Are you claiming, like Marx, that government will wither away? Or are you just painting a picture of what could be, without any notion of how to bring it about?

Zachriel: Sure, as a utopian ideal, it can even provide a pathway forward. As a conservative, we need to look at the unintended consequences of following that path. But when the visionary confuses the vision for reality, then that's where the problem comes in.

Or are you confused?

 
At 9/11/2012 7:10 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Less development only made possible with a constant flow of taxpayer dollars.

Well, one of the first public works projects was irrigation projects along the Tigris-Euphrates.

Ron H: But you don't seem to understand which came first.

Trade certainly long predates government.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:16 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"We do see, when looking at history, that social structures have become generally larger and more integrated with increased trade and technology. "

As have wars and genocides. It's certainly not clear why you see that as a good thing.

By some estimates governments were responsible for as many as 200 million deaths in the 20th century. Not something we would point to with pride as a benefit of ever larger levels of government.

And make no mistake, it is governments that go to war and practice genocides - sometimes with their own people as victims.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:41 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Sure they would, but development would be much less, and loss of life much higher when disasters strike."

Do you really not believe that people are capable of mitigating their own risks when they understand that it's their responsibility to do so, that they are like children depending on the hand of big brother to save them from the vagaries of life?

"It's simply not reasonable to suppose that people would abandon the Mississippi flood basin when it is among the most productive in the world. Or Bangladesh, or many of the world's river basins. Or New Orleans, one of the most important shipping ports in the U.S., which transports the produce of the Mississippi basin."

Government at all levels failed the people of New Orleans during and after the hurricane. Had they not been reassured by so many agencies that the city was safe and that they were in good hands, they would have made other arrangements to ensure the integrity of the levees and provide for emergency response, or left the city when they had plenty of time. They would have spent what was required to ensure their own safety and billions of dollars wouldn't have been wasted on circle jerks like running trucks full of ice all around the country except where they were needed.


"Because these areas are so important, there has to be a system for disaster relief".

Important to whom? I don't expect taxpayers to subsidize my food prices.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:41 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: As have wars and genocides.

Sure.

Ron H: By some estimates governments were responsible for as many as 200 million deaths in the 20th century.

Sure, though it's not clear that previous societies were less violent, or an anarchic system. Wars are very ancient. Tribes war. Families war. Chimpanzees war.

We're not singing paeons for government, just note they are inevitable, and that a government of the people is better than the other kinds that have been tried.

Modern democracies, with power distributed at all levels in society, have shown themselves to be adaptive and more efficient than anything else that's been tried. Of course there's waste. That's would occur even in your hypothetical anarcho-capitalism.

Complexity theory indicates that overall highest system intelligence can be found in a dynamical process that is integrated at all levels with the mix determined by adaptation to the environment. Even then, a lot is wasted.

You haven't really responded to our comment or questions.

 
At 9/11/2012 7:49 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Do you really not believe that people are capable of mitigating their own risks when they understand that it's their responsibility to do so, that they are like children depending on the hand of big brother to save them from the vagaries of life?

Um, you were the one who suggested
"few would build on flood plains". It's not reasonable to suggest people abandon productive lands. Rather, they unite together to build levees and to work out disaster relief when those levees fail. You say this can be done privately, but private means have not been able to keep pace with development. Katrina losses were about $100 billion. There is no private entity that is capable of that sort of loss.

Ron H: Government at all levels failed the people of New Orleans during and after the hurricane.

Sure, they should have done better. That doesn't mean they didn't provide a huge amount of help.

 
At 9/11/2012 10:24 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

That doesn't follow. Private responses also have competing interests. Public interests are constrained by public concerns. Depending on the situation, those may or may not lead to a better solution.

Private responders have a simple goal. Help as many people as possible.

The public responders want to get paid and the people that direct them want more power. The helping part is secondary.

 
At 9/11/2012 10:38 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

What does that have to do with cooperation across political boundaries? Conflicts arise between groups at all levels, even within centralized entities. Centralization hasn't solved that problem, but instead has ensured that when conflicts arise between larger groups, the resulting violence will be far more destructive, and involve many more innocent victims.

Our friend is giving us the kindergarten version of the statist argument; we must have government because nothing can get built without it. He does not realize that history shows us that private investors have no trouble in risking their capital to take advantage of opportunities to fill a market need or that the politicians do not really care as much about the public need or market as they do about controlling the flow of money and the power that goes with it.

I am waiting for the slightly more sophisticated argument about public goods next and the security argument later. You have to excuse his ignorance because, like our friend Larry, Zac does not seem to be interested in reading and learning.

As we're sure you know, centralization has failed to prevent hundreds of regional and ethnic conflicts in the last century. When people don't believe the central authority is acting in their best interest they reject it, in which case the only way to to maintain that authority is through violence and subjugation.

I have a great recommendation for you if you are interested. A friend just suggested that I look at Hans-Hermann Hoppe's collection of writing in the book, The Great Fiction. The book can be downloaded for free if you join. (For the monthly fee of $10 or so you get a free download once a month or so plus all of the dozen or so e-books that have already been released for free.)

That said, you might be interested in hearing a great lecture that is included in the collection. You can find it at the page, The State, the Intellectuals, and the Role of Anti-Intellectual-Intellectuals. If the accent does not bother you it is well worth listening.

 
At 9/11/2012 10:41 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Have you heard of UNICEF nimrod?

Have you? Things are not as you think that they are.

 
At 9/11/2012 10:50 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Surely, if it is more efficient, some version of it would be able to flourish long enough to overcome such obstacles. Seems like pie-in-the-sky.

Not at all. All states have originated by conquest by an external group or an internal coup. Efficient production and wealth creation attracts parasites that want free stuff. These parasites create the fiction of some social contract by which they get to arbitrate all disputes, including those that involve the state itself. Well, that seems quite silly. As Hoppe and Rothbard have pointed out, what would you do if someone came to you and your friends and claimed that he would want you to allow him to settle your disputes? And by the way, he wants you to allow him to settle disputes in which he is a part. Would you and your friends think him a fool or give him the power over you?

But that fool is what the state is and wants to do what the state does. No rational person thinks that is a sane or stable system. Yet, because they are never asked to think about the nature of the state deeply they do not see the connection. In your case, you have been asked to think about it but you are either too stupid or too biased to even try.

 
At 9/11/2012 11:05 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

That's nonsense. All manner of infrastructure including roads, bridges, transoceanic cables, tunnels, ferries - and levees - are built through cooperation between interested parties from different political entities at all levels without any central control or planning.

Our idiot friend wants to ignore a simple transaction like buying a book from Amazon. The infrastructure is massive and has been built in bits and pieces by countless private companies seeking to profit from their activities. The communication standards were created by other companies. You get online and find the book that you want from Amazon. You enter your credit card number and address and a few days later a book appears. In the process you had involvement from thousands of different companies and individuals but the process is orderly without any central planner calling the shots. The security does not come from government cops but from the credit cards and sellers all looking to protect themselves and their customers. The delivery is not made by a government postal worker but by UPS or FedEx employees. None of the operations need government input. Almost all of them would benefit if there were no government to get in the way at all.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home