Glenn Beck, Gold and Moroni’s Promise

December 17, 2009
By

Wow.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Beck – Not So Mellow Gold
www.thedailyshow.com

Listen for Moroni’s promise at the end. Crazy….almost scary stuff.

Only one question:  Are the brethren worried? (about Glenn Beck generally, not about gold specifically)

152 Responses to Glenn Beck, Gold and Moroni’s Promise

  1. Hawkgrrrl
    December 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Stephen Colbert did a riff on this as well that was hilarious. He took it one further with a mini-infomercial encouraging people to invest in gold, women, and sheep. The case for sheep was strongest, IMO: you can eat them, you can make tools from their bones and clothes from their wool, and if you lose your women, they provide companionship.

  2. brjones
    December 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Ugh.

  3. Cowboy
    December 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Glen Beck is getting just what he deserves from Stewart and Colbert. The Colbert Report on Beck from two or three weeks ago had me in tears laughing.

  4. December 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t “get” Jon Stewart’s comedy. At all. He just shows that if you round up the right people and give them free studio audience tickets, they’ll laugh and whoop at anything. 90% of all his jokes follow this formula: find a weird quote that a Conservative said, play it for the audience, then pause and stare wryly at the camera. Follow up with a sarcastic observational pun, copied from a Laffy Taffy wrapper. Repeat. Colbert has his moments, though.

    Glenn Beck is an idiot, and maybe a little scary, but I think it would be even SCARIER if we (or the “Brethren”) actually felt like we have the obligation or power to silence one of Our People because of their opinions.

  5. Dexter
    December 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    While I don’t agree with Stewart’s views on everything, he is a legitimately funny guy. I don’t watch his show often so you may be right that his style is repititive but I think he is talented. I’d rather see him than Beck.

  6. Cowboy
    December 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I think Beck is just an easy target, particularly with this gold bit.

  7. December 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I’m from the UK and so don’t have access to this link, could some one tell me which day this Glen Beck episode aired ?

  8. Hawkgrrrl
    December 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I agree with Dexter. I feel like I’m losing IQ points on those few occasions when I’ve watched Beck – as a fellow Mormon, I wanted to like him, but I just couldn’t (at least not his rhetoric – he may be a nice guy, and I respect all reformed alkies on principle). Stewart does have a schtick, but he’s a very smart guy. And Colbert rules, IMO. The student has outdone the teacher. Stewart did an impression of Glenn Beck a few weeks ago that was spot on! Outlandish, baseless assertions, sweeping hand gestures, goggling eyes, semi-irrelevant props at the ready, the works!

  9. brjones
    December 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    For what it’s worth, Colbert was killing it before he was on the Daily Show. If anyone has ever watched Strangers With Candy, he was phenomenal on that show.

  10. Skeptic
    December 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Indeed, too much praise can’t be given to Stewart or Colbert. In many ways, they are one of the few enjoyable outlets on TV for understanding politics through analytical thinking, with comedy as a vehicle. And yes, Beck is truly frightening. On Colbert, he showed Beck briefly mentioning another formula to survive when the apocalypse occurs; the G-G-G. Meaning we need guns, gold, and god. The only thing good about Beck is that he provides great fodder for comedians, other than that, he’s damaging the conservative worldview.

  11. Douglas Hunter
    December 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    The thing is that what Beck is doing is completely and unambiguously unethical. He is not alone in doing it by any means but that does not get him off the hook.

    I am truly sickened by those in the equities, and commodities markets that give the hard sell for a certain stock, or financial product because that product has gone up in price making it a “hot” item, and somehow safe. These are overt lies. People buying Gold now are buying it at historically high prices. They are more than likely to loose money in buying gold, and the people Beck has a relationship with know this to be sure.

    It is investing 101 that you should never make a purchase because the price has gone up, and never sell because the price has gone down. With Gold at historic highs it is not an investment. Purchasing gold now is speculation, not even intelligent speculation. Beck is making money fanning the fires of speculation and encouraging ignorant and unsuspecting consumers to make a purchase that is nearly certain to result in a loss. He is no better than any of the liars on wall street hocking “hot” IPOs to stupid or just misguided people who think they are making an investment when they are actually gambling.

  12. December 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    “Glenn Beck is an idiot, and maybe a little scary, but I think it would be even SCARIER if we (or the “Brethren”) actually felt like we have the obligation or power to silence one of Our People because of their opinions.”

    You mean it’s never happened before? :)

  13. Cowboy
    December 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    “He is no better than any of the liars on wall street hocking “hot” IPOs to stupid or just misguided people who think they are making an investment when they are actually gambling.”

    Beck’s gold promotion is actually worse. Hot IPO’s may actually have the potential to turn into a profit generating business (not the ones that come to your attention by way of internet pop-ups), whereas the only difference between gold and fiat money is that gold is pulled from the ground and produces nothing, and money is printed and produces nothing. I was also glad to see that John Stewart was able to point out that the only time gold really spikes in value is when there is a panick and money holders don’t know where to turn. I’ve never understood what is so “conservative” of a useless commodity.

  14. December 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    #13. Stop it, you’re scaring me!

  15. James
    December 17, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    13 and 15 I thought we agreed to not bring up the Danites :)

    John D we brits can’t get the video over here!! If your free sometime share your screen on skype

  16. Hawkgrrrl
    December 17, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Douglas Hunter: “Beck is making money fanning the fires of speculation and encouraging ignorant and unsuspecting consumers to make a purchase that is nearly certain to result in a loss.” What’s worse is he is making God an accomplice by telling people to pray about it. He freaks them out with his doomsaying, then pimps the gold, then says to ask God if they should buy it. If God were Zeus, there would be some serious lightning bolts tossed around.

  17. Douglas Hunter
    December 17, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Hawkgrrrl – “What’s worse is he is making God an accomplice by telling people to pray about it. He freaks them out with his doomsaying, then pimps the gold, then says to ask God if they should buy it.”

    If God tells you (not you HG but the collective you) to buy gold now, then you know that God thinks you need to learn a lesson. So, if there is any money left in your savings account after those donations to support prop 8, take whatever money you got and buy all the gold you can.

    If God tells you not to buy gold, then you probably don’t need to learn that lesson, or can’t afford to take a loss: God has your back.

    Thread jack: What of the idea of praying over financial matters, purchasing a home, buying gold, what stocks to buy, etc. What assumptions does THAT sort of thing make about God? Also we should discuss aspects of Mormon culture as essentailly prosperity gospel.

  18. December 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    James

    I just found this on http://www.channel4.com on-line (other on-demand websites are available :)

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart/4od#3018222

    aired Friday 11 Dec 2009 8.30pm on More4 it will only be available for another 20 hours I think?

    I hope this helps!

  19. December 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Wow,

    I love Glen Beck, simply brilliant “study it out and pray on it”… he’s talking about investing in Gold.

  20. Thomas
    December 17, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    So what’s wrong? “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5; emphasis added.) I don’t see anything in that passage that excepts “the suitability of gold as an investment” from “all things.” If you can pray to find your car keys, why not pray for guidance in your investment decisions?

    Quench not the Spirit, ya heathens.

    BTW, although I’m not sold on its being likely, there is a non-zero possibility of hyperinflation, assuming the Federal Reserve keeps monetizing debt, so gold as an inflation hedge isn’t an entirely kooky idea. As an actual investment, I agree it’s cracked.

  21. December 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Thomas #21

    I’m from the UK and so the promotion of God on national tv, is a frowned upon in Briton, whilst I don’t agree with this policy I do think you are talking a huge leap when you involve “faith” to help you sell something.

  22. December 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I am 100% serious in saying that Glenn Beck is a false prophet. This guy makes millions off of priestcraft.

  23. December 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    #21. Didn’t I just see a seance on British TV, where a medium contacted Michael Jackson from beyond the grave, to the comfort of weeping die-hard fans? Seemed rather strange to me for the same reasons.

    I think the tough question for me is whether Beck feels like he’s right (morally and temporally), or if he’s insidiously trying to make money and subvert order. Hard to tell.

  24. Hawkgrrrl
    December 17, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I believe that Beck, like all good sales people, buys what he is selling.

  25. December 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Arthur ~ 24 ? (I’m awaiting a comment that is under moderation)

    SKY = FOX = not really “mainstream TV”. SKY/FOX brought us Simpsons & 24 for that I respect them but not enough to buy the subscription.

  26. December 17, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Well, I can’t really stay mad at them if they brought you the Simpsons.

  27. Goose
    December 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    A U… Witty!

    Are the brethren worried? (about Glenn Beck generally, not about gold specifically)

    I doubt they are worried because they seem to think along those lines too. And judging by the way the US has being printing money so irresponsibly since the 1980′s well then maybe they are onto something. Shame though that they don’t seem to realize that the worst of it started under republican administrations. Now Obama is getting all the blame when in his case it was more of a necessity to avoid a full blown depression. Anyway, that’s a topic for another day.

    Oh, by the way go buy Gold…

  28. Goose
    December 17, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    24 I believe that Beck, like all good sales people, buys what he is selling

    Hmmmm…..not always. Drug dealers usually don’t. Used car dealers sell the worst cars to others…but they’re at the bottom of the sales profession so maybe, maybe not!

  29. December 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    @24,

    If Beck actually believed what he sells, then I might actually respect him more. I would still think that he’s completely delusional, but I could respect it. But I think he acts like a wingnut primarily because acting like a wingnut is lucrative.

  30. jmb275
    December 17, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    :: TIMEOUT ::

    BTW, although I’m not sold on its being likely, there is a non-zero possibility of hyperinflation, assuming the Federal Reserve keeps monetizing debt, so gold as an inflation hedge isn’t an entirely kooky idea. As an actual investment, I agree it’s cracked.

    This is what I was going to say. Glenn Beck aside, the price of gold right now is ridiculous. But I would say there is more than a non-zero possibility of hyperinflation. And buying gold is at least one good mechanism to hedge against that possibility.

    If you’re anything other than a Keynesian I don’t see how you could conclude anything other than a gloomy economic forecast. But I digress, since our country is made up of people who, for some reason, continue to think Keynesian economics is valid. If you listen to Peter Schiff (an Austrian school economist, and one of the few who actually predicted this mess) then you would likely be convinced that there will definitely be greater than average inflation over the next 2 years, and a possibility of hyperinflation.
    :: END TIMEOUT ::

    carry on with the Glenn Beck bashing ;-)

  31. Cowboy
    December 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    No, I think Glen Beck is sold on his approach. I think he’s also the pure the capitalist that he claims to be, so he has no ethical dillema’s with his interwining of religion, fear, and sensationalism, with profiteering. However, with all due respect to Mr. Beck, and not out of a desire to be overly critical of his former Cocaine problems, but he’s not exactly an authority on anything beyond speaking into a microphone. I am close to a few relative drug addicts, one reformed, and while I value them as friends and loved ones, they are not my consultants. Beck’s popularity likely stems from his sensationalizm, I would characterize him and his show(s) as a politica/non-sexual Howard Stern. It’s all shock jock radio.

  32. December 17, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Just curious. How many of the commenters on the thread are forming their opinions of Beck on the basis of watching Beck, and how many are echoing what they’ve heard others say about Beck?

    Beck points out openly and repeatedly that he uses methods pioneered by the left (see Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”) of ridicule of political opponents to fight those opponents.

    He has brought forward stories that, despite initially being ignored by the mainstream, ultimately caught fire and forced changes (see Van Jones).

    There are now serious mainstream polls showing the Tea Party movement has greater favorability ratings than EITHER the Democratic or Republican Party. Look at the latest MSNBC polling (which is hardly Fox news) and tell me there’s not a populist wind rising in the country.

    And for our British audience, the interest rates your government is now having to pay on its new indebtedness just went higher than that of Spain and may pass that of Italy soon.

  33. December 17, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    FireTag #33 “And for our British audience, the interest rates your government is now having to pay on its new indebtedness just went higher than that of Spain and may pass that of Italy soon.”

    FireTag, I’m not concerned if worst comes to worst and Briton looses it’s triple A status then we will just claim the rent the US Government owes us for the Eastern United States.

    Spain & Mexico are already starting litigation for Southern California.

    Back to topic, Glen Beck helps our “peculiar people status” but I enjoy his polarised view of the world, whilst I don’t agree with him, he is funny.

  34. Goose
    December 17, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    re 32 How many of the commenters on the thread are forming their opinions of Beck on the basis of watching Beck

    I watch him here at 6pm almost daily. Overall his message is libertarian off course but extremely anti-Obama.

    for our British audience, the interest rates your government is now having to pay on its new indebtedness just went higher than that of Spain and may pass that of Italy soon

    True but skewed. Overall Britain is still in a much better position than both Italy and Spain put together.

  35. sobeit
    December 17, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I do not find Glen Beck either funny or scary…I find him to be annoying and even irrational. The fact that he identifies as LDS is of great importance to the “general’ public who by and large know few if any people from the LDS church. By proxy, he is a representative of the LDS faithful. Of course, it doesn’t help that most Mormons live in Utah and in close knit communities which exclude non-believers.

  36. Rigel Hawthorne
    December 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I remember an Arizona Mormon businessman who sold a bunch of cheap (I think they were even lifetime) health club memberships to his gym, then sold the gym to new owners that were not bound to honor the lifetime memberships. Before this went down and he was already doing well, a local Mormon interest newspaper interviewed him and he related his philosophy that we are encouraged to develop our talents and making money was the talent he had been given.

    Seeing Beck in action reminds me of this philosophy. But it is just as annoying to listen to the other conservative radio talk show hosts hawking their own endorsements during their programs. They weave in their ads so you have a hard time knowing when the talk show ends and the commercial in their same voice begins. They may not be fanning the flames of panic as much when they advertise carbonite or morality-conscious mutual funds, but it still seems a little shady.

  37. December 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    I don’t watch much TV nowadays, but I have seen enough of Beck to understand what he is trying to say about the direction of politics in America. I care much for his TV personality, but his message is well researched and I haven’t found anyone challenging his claims. There are lots of people poking fun of him, but none (that I know of) coming up with evidence to counter his assertions. Frankly, that worries me.

    For me, gold isn’t an issue when it comes to Beck. The real issue is: is his message accurate? If not, why isn’t anyone taking him on about about his message, point by point, and showing his claims to be inaccurate, false, or insane?

  38. December 17, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Correction: …I don’t care much for his TV personality….

  39. December 17, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Firetag,
    The fact that Beck has a certain amount of genuine influence only makes it worse.

    Jared,
    Here ya go.

  40. December 17, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Perhaps the most dangerous “christian” or for that matter religious zealot is what CS Lewis called the “materialist magician”—ScrewTape Letters. Can one deconstruct much of Beck’s arguments/foundational premises? Yes, in my opinion. But we need to cut him some slack he is going through his ETB phase where the world is divided between socialists/communists and God fearing christians….

    http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/a-modest-proposal-to-end-socialism/#more-1226

  41. Douglas Hunter
    December 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    #30- ” the price of gold right now is ridiculous. But I would say there is more than a non-zero possibility of hyperinflation. And buying gold is at least one good mechanism to hedge against that possibility.”

    I’m sure we would disagree on the details but we all agree that there is an above zero % possibility of inflation, high inflation or perhaps even hyperinflation; and that owning gold is a tool used at times, by investors, as a defensive position against inflation. Be that as it may, just saying that means we are already missing the point. Beck isn’t trying to sell gold to people who have a functioning understanding of basic macro economics. His target audience is people who have no clue at all when it comes to investing or economics. Would either of you guys buy gold at $1100 an OZ as a hedge against inflation? I doubt it. My bet is that you would be looking at other commodities,if you wanted to use a commodity in that fashion.

    #37- “The real issue is: is his message accurate? If not, why isn’t anyone taking him on about about his message, point by point, and showing his claims to be inaccurate, false, or insane?”

    How would you have us critique the “God, Guns and Gold” idea. Does anyone really need this gem analyzed point by point? Is it necessary to point out the problems with the argumentation, or its use of facts, and so on? Obviously not.

    The reason that people don’t do an analysis of Beck’s or any other talk show host’s economic, social-political ideas, is that these “ideas” are beneath contempt, they are strictly ideological, and not worth the effort to critique. People who want useful information about economics, or social issues, or foreign policy and so on don’t go looking for it on infotainment talk radio be it liberal or conservative.

    If you want a daily dose of macro economics check this out:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/tvradio/podcast/ontheeconomy.html

    If you want to better understand financial crises check this out:
    http://www.amazon.com/This-Time-Different-Centuries-Financial/dp/0691142165/ref=dp_cp_ob_b_title_1

    If you want to understand principles of investing that Beck and others hope people don’t know, check this out:
    http://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Investor-Definitive-Investing-Practical/dp/0060555661/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261113480&sr=1-1

    If you want to understand the concerns and methods of progressive theology check this out:
    http://www.amazon.com/Finally-Comes-Poet-Walter-Brueggemann/dp/0800623940/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261113619&sr=1-1

    I could do this all day. The point is that talk radio is garbage, that you think Beck is well researched is alarming. Don’t believe for a minute that any of these jokers from Beck to Rachel Maddow have a clue what they are talking about! We gotta be smarter than they are or the terrorists win! Knowledge is power talk radio is ideological drivel.

  42. Vin
    December 17, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Jared, I think that Politifact would throw dirt on your claim that Glenn Beck’s assertions aren’t being challenged.

    Reviewing some of those, I’m not sure if Beck is intentionally lying, if he’s deluded, or both.

  43. December 18, 2009 at 12:06 am

    MrQandA:

    Rent? What? Didn’t we agree you were keeping Canada as a security deposit and calling it even after burning Washington? The French were offering a MUCH better deal. :D

  44. Jolene
    December 18, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Firetag, Finally, someone with some sense…

  45. Last Lemming
    December 18, 2009 at 9:22 am

    And buying gold is at least one good mechanism to hedge against that possibility.

    But you could buy wheat and rice at much more reasonable prices, still have your inflation hedge (and even be able to eat it, if necessary), and be in compliance with the explicit counsel of the brethren.

    Too bad I have so much 30-year old stuff moldering away in the basement.

  46. Cowboy
    December 18, 2009 at 10:15 am

    “then you would likely be convinced that there will definitely be greater than average inflation over the next 2 years, and a possibility of hyperinflation.”

    Herein lies the half truth to Glenn Beck’s scare tactic. I don’t see how higher inflation is avoidable given the stimulus, and so yes the dollar will lose (is losing) some of its exchange value. Furthermore, the dollar is also losing much of it’s economic strength as reliable instrument in the global economy. The national debt for example, concerns me a lot less in terms of it’s value, compared to the amount of that debt owed to foreign nations, like China. The trade defict ought to be the concern as America is buying more than it is selling. Growth in the US lies mainly in two sectors, 1) healthcare (overall a good thing) 2) the financial sector, as we have one of the most sophisticated financial markets in the world. How all of this relates to Glenn Beck and Gold, is that some of the things he says are somewhat reasonable, trade deficits mentioned, etc. The challenge we have in the US however is to get back to being a primary exporter of useful things, as opposed to being a currency rich nation that is over productive in money manipulation. A strong financial is good, I agree, but our current economy is to focused on money (as opposed to wealth), ie, currency which has little value. So, what does Glenn Beck do, he sounds the alarm (sort of, and rarely with acceptable accuracy) and then proposes a return to old-fashioned currency, as though the monetary index was the problem. I’m with Warren Buffett, who says that the best investment right now is just old fashioned business, ie, equity in firms that produce things that people use. Economists call that production, and gold produces nothing other than a short term sense of security. In a depression, or collapse predicted by Beck, it wouldn’t take long for people to figure out that their Gold doesn’t do a thing, and was just as useless and speculative as paper currency.

  47. Thomas
    December 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

    “I’m with Warren Buffett, who says that the best investment right now is just old fashioned business, ie, equity in firms that produce things that people use.”

    Except a lot of those firms are overvalued (under traditional P/E ratios), along with gold, commodities, and virtually everything else, thanks to unprecedented money supply expansion.

    The Fed. Res. is trying to stave off debt deflation stemming from the mortgage collapse (a classic example of Austrian malinvestment correcting), but monetary policy isn’t a surgical tool. They’re aiming at the debt markets, but everything in the economy gets hit.

  48. jmb275
    December 18, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Re #47
    Agreed 100%.

  49. jmb275
    December 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    They’re aiming at the debt markets, but everything in the economy gets hit.

    This is the main point that Keynesians seem to miss, and why, at least to me, Austrian economics is the only one that makes sense.

  50. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    #31,

    If you’re anything other than a Keynesian I don’t see how you could conclude anything other than a gloomy economic forecast. But I digress, since our country is made up of people who, for some reason, continue to think Keynesian economics is valid. If you listen to Peter Schiff (an Austrian school economist, and one of the few who actually predicted this mess) then you would likely be convinced that there will definitely be greater than average inflation over the next 2 years, and a possibility of hyperinflation.

    Actually Keynesian economics saved America in the past, and is what is bringing us out of the recession today. By all means, buy up your gold which is valued at the same real price as 30 years ago (accounting for inflation). In any case, inflation is not the worry right now, but rather deflation. And furthermore, some inflation is actually quite good for the economy.

  51. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Firetag,

    #33

    Just curious. How many of the commenters on the thread are forming their opinions of Beck on the basis of watching Beck, and how many are echoing what they’ve heard others say about Beck

    There are plenty of opportunities to see Beck’s own words. The man is utterly reprehensible. No analysis needed by anyone. His words are good enough to damn him.

  52. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Cowboy,

    #47

    The national debt for example, concerns me a lot less in terms of it’s value, compared to the amount of that debt owed to foreign nations, like China. The trade defict ought to be the concern as America is buying more than it is selling.

    I’m so tickled by the sudden concern for debts and deficits. It’s such a sight to behold. It’s as if we woke up one morning and suddenly found ourselves deep in debt as if we didn’t know where we got it from. It should not be a surprise to anyone who has paid close attention to the last eight years.

    1. Bush’s 2001 tax cut. This is the biggest cause of our current debt problems. While tax cuts are nice, if not coupled with equal cuts in services, mean nothing in reducing the size of the government, and promote an unsustainable path. This is not only what happened, but under Bush it got worse.

    2. Iraq War. See, Bush not only cut taxes, but then said to America, “I want to go to war. But I won’t ask your generation to pay for it. I’m going to put this war on a credit card and hope our children will not be too pissed at us for giving them a $1 trillion dollar bill to pay for a war we wanted to fight.”

    3. Medicare Part D. Then he made matters worse by passing Medicare Part D. What’s a conservative president with a Republican led Congress doing passing an expansion of Medicare? It was all about the 2004 elections. Essentially, Bush and the Republicans calculated that if they expand Medicare, they could buy the votes of the seniors. Worse yet, the price of this bill was kept secret. No one actually knew the real price until it was finally voted on in the middle of the night. The final bill? Oh, another $1 trillion or so. What’s even worse? Bush and the Republicans found no way to pay for it, so they yet again said “America, we’re going to put this on a credit card for our children to pay. May God have mercy on our souls.”

    Without actually attempting at any point to reduce the size of the government (and rather increasing it very dramatically) and cutting taxes, George W. Bush put us in the crisis we face right now. Where were the people who now speak about debt and deficits? Where were they when Bush was in power? Where were they when he passed the tax cut? Where were they when he went to war? Where were they when he passed Medicare? Where were they? Why were they silent? Damn hypocrites.

  53. Thomas
    December 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    “I’m so tickled by the sudden concern for debts and deficits.”

    I was annoyed by the Bush deficits in the $300-500 billion/year range. It will follow that I will be even more annoyed at Obama deficits in the $1.5 trillion range. The “damn hypocrite” is the guy who objected (like plenty of conservatives!) to the smaller deficits, but think criticizing an administration running deficits an order of magnitude greater is out of line.

  54. jmb275
    December 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Actually Keynesian economics saved America in the past, and is what is bringing us out of the recession today. By all means, buy up your gold which is valued at the same real price as 30 years ago (accounting for inflation). In any case, inflation is not the worry right now, but rather deflation. And furthermore, some inflation is actually quite good for the economy.

    I reject this claim. I assert that Keynesian economics did not save America in the past, rather it exacerbated what would have been a short recession and turned it into a lengthy depression the effects of which were felt until WWII. Hoover, and Roosevelt spelled doom for this country’s economy the day they took the “free” out of markets and started ridiculous programs based on deficit spending, and utilizing a central bank that tries to control the erroneous categorization of an economy GDP=C+I+G (consumer+investment+gov’t). Inflation (hyperinflation?) will be the worry two years from now because the Fed has printed gobs of money out of thin air.

    I wouldn’t buy gold right now as it is so expensive, and as has been said there are better ways to hedge against the future inflation.

  55. jmb275
    December 18, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Re #53
    1. I agree completely
    2. I agree completely
    3. I agree completely

    Without actually attempting at any point to reduce the size of the government (and rather increasing it very dramatically) and cutting taxes, George W. Bush put us in the crisis we face right now. Where were the people who now speak about debt and deficits? Where were they when Bush was in power? Where were they when he passed the tax cut? Where were they when he went to war? Where were they when he passed Medicare? Where were they? Why were they silent? Damn hypocrites.

    I agree completely. Since I’m not a Republican or a Democrat (and I assume you realize that not everyone falls into those two camps) I’ll just say I was right here, whining about it then like now (though not on MM specifically).

    In the vein that #54 Thomas is pointing out let me continue:
    4. Congress gives Bush a $700 billion stimulus check to lob over to the banks willy-nilly.
    5. Congress gives Obama another $825 billion stimulus check to lob over to the banks slightly less willy-nilly but still ineffective as evidenced by a multitude of reports of banks sitting on huge wads of cash.
    6. Obama asks for national healthcare and makes pie-in-the-sky promises about how to fund it (which in the end will result in the middle-class fitting the bill, the health insurance industry going out of business, and stifling medical innovation).
    7. Obama shifts the location of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan, but leaves out the little detail of how to fund it.
    8. All while the Fed continues to turn the crank on the money printing press assuming it can effectively regulate the economy (despite abundant evidence to the contrary).

  56. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Thomas

    The “damn hypocrite” is the guy who objected (like plenty of conservatives!) to the smaller deficits, but think criticizing an administration running deficits an order of magnitude greater is out of line.

    The point is that Bush’s policies put us in this mess. To this point there are only a few things Obama has done that has added to the deficit. The stimulus package and the bailouts of GM and Chrysler. TARP was a Bush add-on. $750 billion once again added to the deficit without a way to fund it except by debt. That showed up under Obama’s year, but it was Bush’s policy. (probably his only wise move, too). Obviously Obama doesn’t know how to pay for Afghanistan (asking Americans to pay for it now will mean the war ends—which is of course what I desire to see, but is political suicide). The overriding point is that Obama didn’t come to power in a peaceful transition like Bush did from Clinton. Obama came in with the worst recession since the depression and two wars. It’s quite understandable that he’s gotta make very difficult decisions that are going to be costly. But the deficit is not primarily the fault of Obama.

    Now, there are some very easy ways to deal with the deficit and with our debt.

    1. Increase taxes on the wealthy. This is what previous generations of Americans did. During WWII, for example, the wealthiest Americans were taxed at 94%. I don’t recommend that level, obviously, because it’s just not necessary, but I do think raising the tax rate of the richest Americans back up to 50% is a good idea. That was the rate under Reagan (who had lowered it from 71%). 50% seems to have worked just fine. Let’s go back to that level. Let whoever doesn’t want to pay his taxes leave this country. Clearly his or her loyalties are elsewhere.

    2. Cut expenses. Cut defense (we spend a ridiculous amount on our defense). Clinton cut defense, and guess what, he balanced the budget! It has worked in the past, it will work again. Pass health care reform (which pays for itself, according the CBO). That should save a few hundred billion dollars just like that.

    So far, the only president that has done both those things, increase taxes and cut spending is President Bill Clinton. And he left office with a surplus. Talk about a successful presidency!

  57. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    jmb,

    5. Congress gives Obama another $825 billion stimulus check to lob over to the banks slightly less willy-nilly but still ineffective as evidenced by a multitude of reports of banks sitting on huge wads of cash.

    Now hold on a sec, most of this stimulus hasn’t kicked in yet. However, there is a direct correlation between the stimulus package and the reducing unemployment numbers. In November only 11,000 jobs were shed. Obviously this isn’t yet a good sign, it’s going in a better direction than previously.

    6. Obama asks for national healthcare and makes pie-in-the-sky promises about how to fund it (which in the end will result in the middle-class fitting the bill, the health insurance industry going out of business, and stifling medical innovation).

    Really? How is it pie-in-the-sky?

    7. Obama shifts the location of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan, but leaves out the little detail of how to fund it.

    Indeed. This is one area where I think the President can’t do much about it. I would love for him to raise taxes in order to pay for this war, but raising taxes will essentially mean ending the war immediately as no American right now wants to increase their taxes to pay for a war in Afghanistan. (Hence why I would love for taxes to be raised) :)

  58. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    oh and one more thing, we’re not really in a crisis vis a vis our debt. Currently the GDP of the United States is about $14 trillion dollars. Our debt is about the same amount. For comparison’s sake, when someone buys a house, they do not buy it with money they have, but with money they promise to pay back over time. So someone who makes $50k can leverage that amount with a $300k loan for a house. That’s a six to one ratio of debt to annual assets. The point is that the current debate over debt is fearmongering done by individuals and groups who were silent when it really mattered (i.e. when their own guy was in office not adhering to supposed conservative principles), and who now wish to undercut the ability of the current Democratic president simply to make him fail. That way they can win back the White House and get back to rewarding their own at the expense of everyone else.

  59. Cowboy
    December 18, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I can’t say that I have been very thrilled with the talk of more big spending, but I do think that if we are going to judge Obama by economic standards, he deserves the consideration of oppurtunity cost. I’m talking about John McCain. He was the alternative, and when I look at it that way, I suddenly appreciate Obama a little bit more.

  60. December 18, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Well, I think we’ve established who can stand to listen to Beck for an hour, and who can stand to listen to Olberman for an hour. :D

  61. December 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    #59 Dan

    Check out this debt clock. Beck uses it on his program. It shows total debt: 106,500,000,000,000 +

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

    Kuri and Vin–

    Thanks for the links.

  62. December 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    6. Obama asks for national healthcare and makes pie-in-the-sky promises about how to fund it (which in the end will result in … the health insurance industry going out of business…).

    If only that were true.

  63. Douglas Hunter
    December 18, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    #59- “oh and one more thing, we’re not really in a crisis vis a vis our debt. Currently the GDP of the United States is about $14 trillion dollars. Our debt is about the same amount. For comparison’s sake, when someone buys a house, they do not buy it with money they have, but with money they promise to pay back over time. So someone who makes $50k can leverage that amount with a $300k loan for a house. That’s a six to one ratio of debt to annual assets. The point is that the current debate over debt is fearmongering done by individuals and groups who were silent when it really mattered ”

    I disagree to an extent. Having a debt level approaching total GDP is something new for America, and macro economists are not sure what to make of it. Some point to Japan with debt levels of about 150% of GDP and point out that the Yen is strong but the overall Japanese economy is not great. One big difference between the Japanese example and the American example is the personal savings rate. On average individual Americans are in debt at a level equal to or greater than the American government. So leverage permeates our total economy in a way that it does not in Japan despite their very high national debt. I don’t know enough about economics to draw any conclusions but as I listen to what economists are saying, there is clearly no consensus on how we are going to address this situation or what all the possible implications are.

  64. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Jared,

    #62,

    Okay, so we have $74 trillion in assets and $105 trillion in debts. That’s not a bad ratio at all.

  65. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Doulgas,

    Having a debt level approaching total GDP is something new for America, and macro economists are not sure what to make of it

    This is not true. During WWII, our debt exceeded our assets. Thus why that generation of Americans accepted higher taxes in order to pay down that debt. When will this generation step up to the plate and do the same?

  66. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

    As you can see in that graph, during WWII, our debt exceeded our GDP by 120%. Currently it is at 80% some odd.

  67. December 18, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    No, Dan. Having a net worth of a negative 31 trillion dollars is a VERY bad thing. People eventually start to wonder about your ability to pay it back and stop lending you more. Than you need a bail out — and there isn’t anybody to bail out Uncle Sam.

    Also, I’ve got to say that it is certainly not the fault of the Detroit Lions’ coach that he’s likely to finish the season at 2-14. After all, his predecessor bequeathed him an 0-16 team. However, if he’s not got a playoff berth in 3 years, he’s going to get fired, too. And a lot of his team will be gone from their jobs 1 year from now in favor of new draft choices and free agents.

    Just saying. :D

  68. Dan
    December 18, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Firetag,

    Then it sure is time to raise taxes, no? :)

  69. Thomas
    December 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Dan, no time to respond in depth, but a couple of points:

    1. TARP has not cost $750 billion. That was the amount authorized; not all was spent, and some has been repaid. The Dems want to take the remainder and spend it on Stimulus II, but that’s not a foregone conclusion.

    2. “individuals and groups who were silent when it really mattered (i.e. when their own guy was in office not adhering to supposed conservative principles)” — You cannot have been listening too hard if you missed the screeches from conservatives about Medicare Part D and other Bush-era deficit expansions. GWB was probably the most liberal Republican president since Nixon, and he was one of the most liberal Presidents of any party of the whole twentieth century.

  70. December 18, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Oh, Dan. You didn’t actually believe taxes were NOT going to go up, did you?

    I believe in Robert Heinlein’s definition of an honest politician as one who stays bought.

    If you ever run for office, I suspect we may not often be political allies, but I hope you’ll change my definition of an honest politician for the better

  71. Douglas Hunter
    December 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    #66- “This is not true. During WWII, our debt exceeded our assets. Thus why that generation of Americans accepted higher taxes in order to pay down that debt. When will this generation step up to the plate and do the same?”

    Sorry I should have contextualized my comment more precisely. The newness is that no one in a policy position, no economist, no one in the financial industry working today, was also working / shaping policy in the 1940′s.

    The reasons for the debt now and then are significantly different; further the owners of the debt now and then were different. Today about 23% of US debt is owned by mainland China. That is an amazing amount. I don’t have stats for 1947 in front of me, but I am reasonably sure that the American people owned the greater portion of the debt in 1947. So technically you are 100% correct during WWII and just after our debt was greater than GDP. But the situations are so different, and no one working today has any experience with it, so I’m not sure what we can learn from the comparison. I’m not sure I agree that the debt is a matter of a generation stepping up to pay higher taxes, that seems like an odd thing to say in the current situation.

    (According to the IRS From 1945 – 1947 the debt as % of GDP was 117.5%, 121.7%, 110.3%. In 1948 it was 98.2 and continued a long downward trend until 1979 when it bottomed out at 33.1%. )

  72. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Thomas,

    #70,

    1. Right, $750 was the amount authorized.

    2. I was listening pretty hard. There were indeed some conservatives who spoke out. Sadly they voted for Bush in 2004, so they gave his actions a stamp of approval.

    Firetag,

    #71

    I don’t believe Obama will raise the taxes on those making under $200,000 a year. I have absolutely no problem at all raising the tax level of the highest 1% of this country to 50%. As Douglas so nicely shows us in #72, that high level of taxation paid off our debt, so that by 1979, we only had 33% debt to GDP ratio. Then of course Reagan came along, that big government big spender, massively increasing the size of the government. Sheesh! It took the ultra-elitist-liberal-socialist-communist Clinton to reduce the size of the government and balance our budget. :)

    If I ever run for office, I will not be bought by special interest groups like, for example, Lieberman, who is in the pockets of the health insurance companies (most of which reside in Connecticut).

    Douglas,

    #72,

    I don’t see how the debts being different matter. Money is money is money. Why does it matter if China owns the debt or American taxpayers own the debt? You still pay it off by raising taxes to account.

    I’m really curious why we’re so afraid of raising taxes. Why is that so terrible?

  73. Douglas Hunter
    December 19, 2009 at 2:39 am

    #73- “I don’t see how the debts being different matter. Money is money is money. Why does it matter if China owns the debt or American taxpayers own the debt?”

    In terms of accounting I suppose money is money, but it seems to me that we are discussing more than accounting. We are really discussing the overall health of the American economy and what the near future prospects are. In terms of why who owns the debt matters. In one instance there is a direct and significant foreign policy element to the debt and its repayment that is not present in the other instance. Did you catch the minor uproar earlier this year when a few journalists started to ask what will happen if foreign governments stop buying American paper? I don’t know how real that possibility actually is, but it was interesting to see the different responses to that question, because I think its showed significant uncertainty in the macro economic community about what our current debt means. I am not very knowledgeable about these topics but I find them very interesting.

    “As Douglas so nicely shows us in #72, that high level of taxation paid off our debt, so that by 1979, we only had 33% debt to GDP ratio.”

    Actually,I’m pretty sure the numbers I quoted don’t speak directly to the taxation rate or debt being paid off. If I understand it correctly the comparison between GDP and debt changes based on revenue and on GDP growth. Revenues can increase without tax rates increasing and debt as a percentage of GDP can go down simply because GDP goes up. Isn’t that right? If we want to look at taxation rates and debt repayment don’t we need to look specifically at the tax rates/income for each year, adjust for population growth and inflation, and then document annual debt repayments? I imagine it would have to be something like that, but I know next to nothing about this topic so I’m just speculating. Regardless, its revenue that matters, raising taxes should raise revenue but economic prosperity should increase revenue even if taxes stay at the same rate. The period after WWII was a long period of steady economic growth until the market problems of 1970/1971. Anyway, the obvious problem with raising taxes now is that it threatens the economic recovery (at least I think it does.) Los Angeles just added on to the local sales tax. Purchase something in LA and your sales tax is just under 10% now! I am not anti-taxes at all but I am working class so every tax hike hurts, particularly now. I would also be more in favor of raising taxes if federal ear marks and other questionable practices were outlawed.

  74. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Douglas,

    Did you catch which taxes I said we should raise? The wealthiest Americans. As data clearly shows there is a huge disproportion between the wealth of the middle class and the wealth of the top 1%, it is time to tax that 1% and bring the levels back to more sustainable numbers. Whenever the wealthy get too wealthy, it spells trouble for our country (as seen both in the late 1920s and in these last few years).

  75. Jamal
    December 19, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Anyone who wants to watch the Daily Show clip outside the US, I’m in Norway and managed to see it just fine via this link (you have to scroll down just a little bit):

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/11/stewart-catches-glenn-bec_n_388362.html

  76. Mark D.
    December 19, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I agree that gold is a poor investment. The price could double, but as soon as a real recovery kicks in, it would almost certainly fall back to relatively normal levels, probably lower than they are now. That is what happened the last time, after the peak in 1980. It is not bad as a hyperinflation insurance policy, though, recognizing the severe premium, of course.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable to pray about decisions like this, but the idea that God is going to *tell* you to buy or not buy is ridiculous. Perhaps warn you, but “tell” you? That is not what Beck said of course, although I think that kind of advice would be better received if it were delivered by a more sedate personality, and not in the middle of a commercial for anything.

  77. Mark D.
    December 19, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Actually Keynesian economics saved America in the past

    If you consider 10% inflation and 18% interest rates “saving America”, sure. That is what happened the last time we embarked down this path.

  78. December 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Dan:

    You actually have your talking points down pretty well, and higher taxes for the top 1% can certainly be argued as a social justice issue. But if you do the math you can not solve the spending gaps from the rich. You could confiscate every dime from that top 1% and then shoot them, and you still wouldn’t put a dent in that $31 trillion gap. Its fantasy, Dan.

    Similarly, you could disband the entire defense department and eliminate far less than 20% of the Federal budget, especially since you’d have no money in the civilian economy to shift their employees and dependents’ support to. Perhaps we could employ them rebuilding US cities as fast as foreign states and their terrorist oursourcers knocked them down, but I digress.

    Taxes are already legislated to go up on people below 200K. Politicians are very good at hiding the taxes, but the taxes are being collected through the backdoor and hidden in prices.

    BOTH parties have special interests. BOTH parties are rewarding those special interests to maintain power regardless of its effect on the country or the world as a whole.

    If you don’t understand that, I don’t really have to worry about you getting elected in the first place. Too bad. I’m sure you’d be trying to do good.

  79. Cowboy
    December 19, 2009 at 11:08 am

    “I don’t have stats for 1947 in front of me, but I am reasonably sure that the American people owned the greater portion of the debt in 1947″

    This comment nails the point about our debt with China. Yes, debt is debt, but when the U.S. government borrows money from it’s citizens, the borrowed money and the pay back are all based on American output. When we begin to borrow from other nations we are in effect realizing that our spending exceeds both our current and expected output, so we are forced to feed off of the surplus of other nations. This dependency places us in an ackward position relative to our place in the world where now U.S. output can be directly subject to foreign inflows of cash. We ought to be self sustaining.

  80. Douglas Hunter
    December 19, 2009 at 11:10 am

    “The wealthiest Americans. As data clearly shows there is a huge disproportion between the wealth of the middle class and the wealth of the top 1%, it is time to tax that 1% and bring the levels back to more sustainable numbers. Whenever the wealthy get too wealthy, it spells trouble for our country (as seen both in the late 1920s and in these last few years).”

    I would say that the wealthy have essentially always been too wealthy (as an ethical matter). But I’m also pretty cynical concerning the possibility of a significant tax increase for the most powerful political group in the country. I think if Warren Buffett, Obama, and a few others started to seriously advocate for, and talk about higher taxes for the wealthy we might be able to start that conversation. The fascinating thing about America is that the middle and lower classes often don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy because we believe that someday we are going to be wealthy too and we won’t want to give that money to the government when we finally “get ours”.

  81. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Firetag,

    #79

    You could confiscate every dime from that top 1% and then shoot them, and you still wouldn’t put a dent in that $31 trillion gap. Its fantasy, Dan.

    1. The $31 trillion gap is a combination of all debts by all Americans/American businesses and the government, right? This debt is irrelevant to the question at hand. Obviously taxing the richest Americans (which may end up having a total of $1 trillion in assets) will obviously do little to tackle that behemoth.

    2. The question is the debt of the national government, which currently stands at around $12 or so trillion. Last time our country faced a similarly large deficit, taxes were high for nearly everyone for several decades. Interestingly the economy did just fine. From the late 40s through the 70s, the American economy saw its best overall output. Every level and every class improved. This is what I would like to see again, and I think this is what will be sustainable in the long run.

    3. How do you plan on reducing this $33 trillion debt? Cut expenses? Heh. You’re talking about two very different things. Cutting the size of the government does not reduce the debt already incurred. You have to, at some point, increase the revenue of the government. And at this point, there is only one way to do this: raise taxes.

    4. Now, of course, you bringing up the $33 trillion means you are worried about the overall health of our credit as a whole nation means you have some plans for how each and every individual, each and every business, and of course the government itself, will get out of this debt. By all means, share. And make sure your plan does not reduce the spending that consumers spend which keeps the economy afloat.

    5. I could never be elected. The opposition research merely has to look at my blog, highlight a few things and put it out there as negative advertising. :)

  82. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Cowboy,

    This dependency places us in an ackward position relative to our place in the world where now U.S. output can be directly subject to foreign inflows of cash. We ought to be self sustaining.

    We can never be self sustaining unless we get off oil. But that’s just me. And even so, we cannot be self sustaining, because it is the trading with other nations (including the usage of credit) that so enriches us. Now, if you wish to degrade the standard of living here in America, by all means, shut the borders and let’s trade solely with ourselves.

  83. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Douglas,

    The fascinating thing about America is that the middle and lower classes often don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy because we believe that someday we are going to be wealthy too and we won’t want to give that money to the government when we finally “get ours”.

    Indeed. They bought into the silly propaganda. What a shame. They’ll never actually make it rich, but they are willing to be pawns for the rich to keep their money.

  84. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    by the way, CBO report scores the health care bill as substantially cutting our deficit. Sounds like a bill all fiscal conservatives should be behind…………….

  85. Cowboy
    December 19, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Dan:

    You have clearly misunderstood my comments as they relate to foreign dependancy. I am entirely in favor of trade, a process where one nation produces something of value and trades the surplus with that of other nations. Closed borders are certainly a bad option and not the problem. I am however wary of forein debt, which is where we consume in economic terms more than we can produce and leverage domestically.

  86. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Okay, I’m ready to jump back in this discussion. Here I go:

    But the deficit is not primarily the fault of Obama.

    Doesn’t matter. I don’t care whose fault it is. I’m not blaming Obama anymore than Bush. I blame them both and their ridiculous economic advisors.

    1. Increase taxes on the wealthy.

    I would never support such a thing. I am in favor of a flat tax rate. After all that’s “the Lord’s way.”

    2. Cut expenses. Cut defense (we spend a ridiculous amount on our defense). Clinton cut defense, and guess what, he balanced the budget! It has worked in the past, it will work again.

    Indeed, this is the best suggestion I’ve heard in this thread.

    Pass health care reform (which pays for itself, according the CBO). That should save a few hundred billion dollars just like that.

    I can’t support this either. I do not believe that healthcare is a right. Or rather, I believe if it is treated as a right (which is the only justification for taxing people to pay for someone else’s healthcare) then it will open a whole new can of worms. To me the ends to not justify the means. One cannot, by force, ethically exact payment and give it to someone else.

    Now hold on a sec, most of this stimulus hasn’t kicked in yet. However, there is a direct correlation between the stimulus package and the reducing unemployment numbers. In November only 11,000 jobs were shed. Obviously this isn’t yet a good sign, it’s going in a better direction than previously.

    You’re right, it hasn’t. When the stimulus does “kick in” we will get (hyper?)inflation and continue the debt cycle. You see, the things the Keynesians don’t realize is that G never shrinks (except under Clinton as you mentioned) in the equation GDP=C+I+G. When C and I are high, G should shrink. And when C and I are low, G should pick up the slack. Obviously this presumes a constant GDP (which is not a good assumption in my book). BUT G NEVER SHRINKS (at least not in the current political climate).

    Indeed. This is one area where I think the President can’t do much about it. I would love for him to raise taxes in order to pay for this war, but raising taxes will essentially mean ending the war immediately as no American right now wants to increase their taxes to pay for a war in Afghanistan. (Hence why I would love for taxes to be raised)

    BS. He could bring the troops home. I won’t reiterate here the numerous problems associated with Obama’s plan in Afghanistan as he has described it. There have been plenty who have done so. I would suggest that we actually focus on “providing for the common defense” and stop providing a good offense.

    oh and one more thing, we’re not really in a crisis vis a vis our debt. Currently the GDP of the United States is about $14 trillion dollars. Our debt is about the same amount. For comparison’s sake, when someone buys a house, they do not buy it with money they have, but with money they promise to pay back over time. So someone who makes $50k can leverage that amount with a $300k loan for a house.

    I disagree. If someone only makes $50K and gets a $300K house they are in need of some economic advice. Typical rules of thumb are 3-4x current salary. In any case, your comparison is no good on multiple levels.
    1. For the person who gets a mortgage, that person has to pay it off in his/her lifetime (optimally, and generally). We are mortgaging our children’s future, not our own, as there is no way to pay back, in our lifetime, at the current spending rate, our debt.
    2. The person who gets a mortgage actually has a payment plan to pay off the mortgage and there are consequences for not meeting those obligations. What is our repayment strategy? Who is enforcing it? Will Obama be around to ensure it is enforced 30 years from now (the timeline of a typical mortgage)?

    I don’t understand how people can still look at debt in the same way that they did 4 years ago. Don’t people realize that over-spending, too much debt, and low production are what has led us here? How on earth can we get out of the mess by doing that very same thing? Keynesian economics notwithstanding, the whole idea is just silly.

  87. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    by the way, CBO report scores the health care bill as substantially cutting our deficit. Sounds like a bill all fiscal conservatives should be behind…………….

    At what expense? What will happen to the healthcare industry? Surely no one is gullible enough to believe that you can introduce a cheap gov’t healthcare plan and not effect the healthcare industry? What’s next, propping up the healthcare industry? Also, what incentive do I have to even have health insurance under Obama’s plan? If the only penalty is a mild fine (that’s cheaper than insurance premiums I might add), and if I can ALWAYS be accepted into the plan (no limiting me based on pre-existing conditions), then why should I pay for premiums?

    Also, consider the comparison of health insurance to other insurance. Why don’t we treat health insurance like other forms of insurance? You don’t expect to pay low auto insurance (or even be able to get it) if you’ve been in 5 accidents in the past 2 years? If health insurance is cheap, and always available, where is the incentive to try to be healthy? We already struggle with incentives to be healthy in this country, why take away one more?

  88. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Cowboy,

    You have clearly misunderstood my comments as they relate to foreign dependancy. I am entirely in favor of trade, a process where one nation produces something of value and trades the surplus with that of other nations.

    Debt is traded too, with good profit. That’s how the big banks really make their money. That’s why I am saying that it really doesn’t matter that much that China has much of our debt. It affects the partnership, but only to a point. The Chinese, by holding that debt of ours will not do anything to make America not be able to pay them off. It is in China’s best interest that America pay that debt, right? So it’s really not that bad. In fact, I kinda like that our debt is being held by China. It makes those who wish to war with China shut the hell up for the time being, and it is a blessed time.

  89. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    jmb,

    Doesn’t matter. I don’t care whose fault it is. I’m not blaming Obama anymore than Bush. I blame them both and their ridiculous economic advisors.

    Fair enough.

    I would never support such a thing. I am in favor of a flat tax rate. After all that’s “the Lord’s way.”

    1. Really? The Lord taxes us? That’s new to me. Since he doesn’t actually tax us, there is no “Lord’s Way” on taxation.

    I can’t support this either. I do not believe that healthcare is a right. Or rather, I believe if it is treated as a right (which is the only justification for taxing people to pay for someone else’s healthcare) then it will open a whole new can of worms. To me the ends to not justify the means. One cannot, by force, ethically exact payment and give it to someone else.

    2. Okay, so you don’t think health care is a right. How about protection from a fire. Is that a right? Is it a right to force the entire society to pay for firemen to care only for homes that burn? What is the argument behind the principle that it is okay to tax the entire society in order to pay for firemen? Is it not that fire is a hazard to the society as a whole, and that a fire, if left unchecked could destroy far more? (like the Great London Fire of 1666?) That’s a fairly reasonable justification to tax the entire population for fire safety, right? Everyone agrees with that. I hardly hear anyone argue that we should privatize the fire department. So now, let’s delve into this just a bit, because I see something that doesn’t add up for those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and who believe in privatized industry. You cannot have privatized fire protection because privatized fire protection means each and every single individual is required to fork over money in order to protect their home from a fire, otherwise their home will not be protected. Those that cannot afford fire protection are therefore not protected. If they were to have a fire in their home, the fire department would not come, because they cannot pay. Of course, this is a terrible idea, and everyone already agrees with this. Now, let’s look at health. Surely you agree with me that the health (or lack of health) of an individual has an affect on society. Surely you agree with me that there are contagious diseases and viruses out there that, if unchecked, can quite negatively affect the entire society. We had just such an incident occur a couple of hundred years ago. It’s called the Black Death. In Europe societies lost about 40% of the entire population to that plague! There has never been a fire as destructive as the world’s worst plague. Fire has nothing on disease. Far far more destructive to a society than fire. Yet, we are accepting disease killing people left and right. We find it perfectly acceptable as a society that thousands die each year in our own very societies, in our own very cities, simply because they lacked health care. It is mind-boggling. Here we are, a Christian nation. We believe in Jesus Christ. His Apostle Paul taught in Romans that our bodies are like temples. Our human bodies are like the temples. Yet here we are as a society, more willing to pay for the protection of our materialistic homes (which can be rebuilt), but we are unwilling to protect that which is of greater worth: the human body, which we believe is a temple. It is mind-boggling, I tell you. Just astounding.

    How can this be? How can a Christian society have come to a point where they are more willing to pay for protecting their material gains (which they cannot take with them into the eternities) than they are for protecting their own bodies?

    You’re right, it hasn’t. When the stimulus does “kick in” we will get (hyper?)inflation and continue the debt cycle.

    3. How do you know we are facing hyperinflation? What indications do you see of this? Because frankly the biggest concern I saw throughout the past year was actually deflation (which is far worse to an economy).

    He could bring the troops home. I won’t reiterate here the numerous problems associated with Obama’s plan in Afghanistan as he has described it.

    4. You realize he does want to be reelected. :)

    What is our repayment strategy? Who is enforcing it? Will Obama be around to ensure it is enforced 30 years from now (the timeline of a typical mortgage)?

    5. No clue. I’m frankly not concerned, and neither will conservatives if a conservative will become president in 2012. You can quote me on that. :)

    At what expense? What will happen to the healthcare industry? Surely no one is gullible enough to believe that you can introduce a cheap gov’t healthcare plan and not effect the healthcare industry? What’s next, propping up the healthcare industry? Also, what incentive do I have to even have health insurance under Obama’s plan? If the only penalty is a mild fine (that’s cheaper than insurance premiums I might add), and if I can ALWAYS be accepted into the plan (no limiting me based on pre-existing conditions), then why should I pay for premiums?

    6. What do you mean at what expense? Have you even been following? There won’t be a public option. Everything will be done within the system we currently have. I’m fine with that. I would rather throw out the current crop of insurance companies because what they have done is despicable, but thank goodness for everyone else, that wish cannot come true. Sadly the same companies will still be around. But there is a good reform in this bill. And it trims the deficit. You should back this bill. I get the feeling you are not backing this bill because it is done by Obama and the Democrats, and somehow you think the Republicans are right. Let me ask you, when was the last time Republicans were right about anything?

  90. Mark D.
    December 19, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    by the way, CBO report scores the health care bill as substantially cutting our deficit. Sounds like a bill all fiscal conservatives should be behind

    How about we raise taxes 20% and only double the size of the military? That is bill all fiscal conservatives should be behind, right? It would certainly reduce the deficit.

  91. Mark D.
    December 19, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    It is in China’s best interest that America pay that debt, right?

    Yes. The real question is, “Is it in China’s best interest to keep lending us money at low interest rates, even if the prospect of being paid back in uninflated dollars starts to dim?”

    Or, “Is it in our best interest to be reliant on China to purchase so much of our debt, when our dependence severely weakens our influence and freedom of action?” Say (horror of horrors) they invade Taiwan tomorrow for example. Are we in a position to object? And have our objection taken seriously?

    [BTW there is a bug here that prevents one from making a second comment without refreshing the page (in Google Chrome, at least)].

  92. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Mark,

    [BTW there is a bug here that prevents one from making a second comment without refreshing the page (in Google Chrome, at least)].

    Same in Safari. I merely refresh and am not concerned.

    As for China, who knows. I don’t think we should be borrowing more from the Chinese. If anything, I think we should be spreading out our debt. :) But in order to start paying down our debt, we need to raise taxes on the richest Americans.

  93. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    1. Really? The Lord taxes us? That’s new to me. Since he doesn’t actually tax us, there is no “Lord’s Way” on taxation.

    That was “tongue-in-cheek.” I am in favor of a flat tax because it is the only fair method of taxation.

    How can this be? How can a Christian society have come to a point where they are more willing to pay for protecting their material gains (which they cannot take with them into the eternities) than they are for protecting their own bodies?

    I’m not going to play into the game of altruism. I love my fellows, and do my best to serve them. I believe firmly in helping other people, and do my best in that vein. This does NOT, however, give me the right to use force to exact money from others to pay for the healthcare of someone else. You see, your comparison to protecting material gains doesn’t work on multiple levels. If you are a democrat I’m truly confused. You fight for the equal rights of others, at the expense of social conservative values because you likely believe (as do I) that we shouldn’t force people to do things just because we don’t agree with them. How is economics any different? Why is it not okay to force someone because of their sexual orientation, but is okay to force them to be altruistic?
    1. For people with families, it is my primary obligation to care for them first. Part of that is shelter, food, clothing, etc.
    2. You are basing your argument on the assumption that giving everyone health insurance will help eliminate future pandemics (after all that’s the only reason (besides altruism) that one would care whether or not his/her neighbor got sick). Is this a valid assumption? I’m not sure. Seems to me that research into pharmaceutics, and medical services is more important. All the health insurance in the world wouldn’t have protected against the H1N1. In the event of a pandemic, I would not be opposed to levying taxes to inoculate the masses. But this is hardly an argument for permanent health insurance.

    Let me ask you something. Why don’t you want to treat health insurance like every other form of insurance?

    3. How do you know we are facing hyperinflation? What indications do you see of this? Because frankly the biggest concern I saw throughout the past year was actually deflation (which is far worse to an economy).

    Dude, you can’t expand the money supply as rapidly as we have and not get inflation. This is an economic axiom. What we have is deflation of debt (a good thing). Keynsians seem to look at debt a bit too favorably. Debt is important in the business cycle, but we have over-debted ourselves. I suggest reading about the Austrian business cycle theory and see if it doesn’t perfectly describe what has gone on, and doesn’t predict what will happen (see here

    4. You realize he does want to be reelected.

    Yep, you hit the nail on the head. We have politician who care more about getting reelected than they do about the long term health of the country and political climate. If Obama truly wanted change he would have enacted laws requiring him (and his successors) to give up presidential powers that have expanded rapidly in the last 50 years (particularly with regard to war).

    5. No clue. I’m frankly not concerned, and neither will conservatives if a conservative will become president in 2012. You can quote me on that.

    Well, I’m no conservative so I definitely will be concerned about it in 2012 no matter who gets elected. But I don’t get why you wouldn’t be concerned. Is that because you won’t be around? What about your kids (or kids of others)? In comment #59 you’re comparing our debt to a mortgage, and it seems you’re implying that this is what will happen with our debt now. That is, we’re taking out a “mortgage” to help the economy now. How on earth can you not be concerned with payback? See this is why I hate Keynsian economics. They throw around these numbers, and have no problem spending and driving up debt and they seem to never give a second thought about paying back. But you know what? Everyone gets to the pay the Piper at some point. There’s no free lunch.

    6. What do you mean at what expense? Have you even been following? There won’t be a public option. Everything will be done within the system we currently have. I’m fine with that.

    Okay, I suppose we should define what healthcare we’re talking about then. Public options have been tossed around here and there, and Senate plan, House plan, and Obama’s plan all have differences. So we should clarify here. You’re right there’s no public option in the current plan.

    There is, however, more gov’t regulation to force healthcare to not deny anyone coverage, cap premiums, etc. All these things seem like good things to the middle class, but these sorts of actions always have unintended consequences. One of the consequences, I think, is that the health insurance industry won’t be able to stay in business, and out of necessity a public option will come to fruition. You can’t place such controls on an entire industry and expect that industry to remain innovative, profitable, and beneficial.

    Let me just say here that you shouldn’t think that I don’t want change in the current healthcare situation. I do. It is seriously broken. But I believe it is broken because of gov’t intervention in the first place. If gov’t would keep their hands off, the free market would eventually produce the optimal result as free markets tend to do. But it would take time, and I admit, this is a disadvantage and we will suffer in the interim. For this reason, and this reason alone, I don’t consider it to be the “end of the world” if the healthcare bill passes.

  94. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    [BTW there is a bug here that prevents one from making a second comment without refreshing the page (in Google Chrome, at least)].

    Yes, I have noticed this as well. It’s not just Chrome. I’m not sure what to do about it though.

  95. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    But in order to start paying down our debt, we need to raise taxes on the richest Americans.

    In order to start paying down our debt we need to:
    1. stop waging prolonged, idealistic, vengeful wars every decade (become isolationists as the Founding Fathers intended).
    2. shrink our ridiculously oversized military and focus on defense, not offense.
    3. get rid of medicare, medicaid, and SS
    4. remove income taxes
    5. get rid of the FED
    6. shrink the gov’t to the point where it actually obeys what is proscribed in the constitution (nothing more, nothing less).

  96. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Dan,
    BTW, I hope there are no hard feelings here. I am thoroughly enjoying the dialogue. I hope I’m not coming across rude in any way. If so I apologize.

  97. Dan
    December 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    jmb,

    That was “tongue-in-cheek.” I am in favor of a flat tax because it is the only fair method of taxation.

    1. But it’s not fair, unless you are also in favor of flat wages. That’s fair. :)

    This does NOT, however, give me the right to use force to exact money from others to pay for the healthcare of someone else.

    2. If we go by how you describe things, what right do you have to use “force” to exact money from others to pay for a fire department? See, I don’t get why you describe these items with the word “force.” There is much in society that is “forced” that you, and others who think like this, already accept. It’s a disappointing aspect of modern conservatism, because it is very anti-Christian, and very very selfish. I’m sorry to hear that you value the artifacts in your home more than you value your own human body, or that you value the artifacts in other peoples homes more than you value their human bodies. This is not Christian. The temple is the body, not the artifacts in the home.

    The argument on health care is not necessarily about pandemics. The fact is very simple. Tens of thousands of Americans die each year of illnesses that, if treated, would have saved their lives. This is a loss to our society that is unacceptable in my view. I was merely pointing out that fire is nowhere near as destructive to society as illness is.

    Let me ask you something. Why don’t you want to treat health insurance like every other form of insurance?

    You mean like car insurance? Which is of course required by every single driver. The difference between car insurance and health insurance is that one refers to driving while the other is directly related to the lives of human beings.

    Yep, you hit the nail on the head. We have politician who care more about getting reelected than they do about the long term health of the country and political climate.

    There is no other kind of politician.

    Well, I’m no conservative so I definitely will be concerned about it in 2012 no matter who gets elected. But I don’t get why you wouldn’t be concerned. Is that because you won’t be around?

    5. I’m not concerned because I know Obama and the Democrats actually care about balancing the budget. They’ve proven this over the years. No concern here. :)

    One of the consequences, I think, is that the health insurance industry won’t be able to stay in business, and out of necessity a public option will come to fruition.

    6. Sounds like a GREAT idea! :) That said, think about what you are arguing here. You’re arguing that the current crop of private health care insurers are not able to properly compete in a competitive marketplace. Why the hell would you then want to keep them around?

    But I believe it is broken because of gov’t intervention in the first place. If gov’t would keep their hands off, the free market would eventually produce the optimal result as free markets tend to do

    Really? What do you know about private health insurance? Do you know how well it worked before Medicare? Why do you think Medicare even came to fruition if private insurance worked so well? Capitalism dictates that services are rendered only to those who have the money. Who do you think had money to pay for health insurance before Medicare? Do you think seniors could? Do you think the poor could? Blacks? Do you think they could afford it? Com’on jmb. Don’t even bother telling me that private health insurance has ever, and I mean EVER done better than a governmental insurance program covering most if not all of the citizens of said nation. Private health insurance does a good job at taking care of those who can afford it (like say, Senators and Congressmen).

    BTW, I hope there are no hard feelings here. I am thoroughly enjoying the dialogue. I hope I’m not coming across rude in any way. If so I apologize.

    not at all.

  98. Aaron
    December 19, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    I actually checked out Goldline around a year ago just for kicks. They have quite the racket going over there. They charge you double spread (for the buy AND the sell) when you buy the gold, so that you have to sell it back to them at whatever price THEY determine, or you will take a big hit. They also charge a ridiculous spread, especially if you buy the rare, foreign gold coins that Beck recommends. At the time gold was priced at around $950 an ounce. It would have to increased in value to around $1350 an ounce just for me to break even. No thanks.

  99. jmb275
    December 19, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Dan-

    1. But it’s not fair, unless you are also in favor of flat wages. That’s fair.

    It’s absolutely fair, it’s the only way that’s fair. Flat wages would not be fair. We earn according to our ability, or station in life. Just because someone is born into poverty does not entitle them to anything. We can’t be in the business of trying to rectify every social injustice caused by things beyond our control using a mechanism that forces others to be altruistic (this is the root of communism). We should care for the poor and downtrodden, but not by exacting that money from others against their wishes. Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, or anything by Murray Rothbard, Ludwin Von Mises, etc.? What you describe eventually lower society in general by stifling innovation and incentives.

    2. If we go by how you describe things, what right do you have to use “force” to exact money from others to pay for a fire department? See, I don’t get why you describe these items with the word “force.” There is much in society that is “forced” that you, and others who think like this, already accept.

    We don’t have the “right,” but as far as our social contract goes, we each agree to do this because, in general, it elevates society. Paying for the fire dept., as you alluded to, benefits all of us. Healthcare isn’t in the same boat. If it is (under pandemic scenarios) then I would concede to levying a tax to inoculate everyone (as I already said).

    It’s a disappointing aspect of modern conservatism,

    Dude, I’m not a conservative. I’ve said that like 3 times now!

    I’m sorry to hear that you value the artifacts in your home more than you value your own human body, or that you value the artifacts in other peoples homes more than you value their human bodies.

    I don’t think you read what I wrote closely enough. My primary responsibility is to care for me, and my own first. Insuring my home against the risk of fire, but not wanting the current healthcare plan is not the same as caring for artifacts in my home more than their bodies. This is just absurd (no offense)!

    The argument on health care is not necessarily about pandemics. The fact is very simple. Tens of thousands of Americans die each year of illnesses that, if treated, would have saved their lives. This is a loss to our society that is unacceptable in my view.

    Okay, back the truck up here. I think you’ve made some assumptions about me. We are talking about the healthcare plan, not about saving lives. You did not bother to ask if I had a solution to the problem, you are assuming that because I am against the current healthcare bill that I am okay with tens of thousands dying each year due to disease. This is not the case. This is a very dichotomic view you have.

    5. I’m not concerned because I know Obama and the Democrats actually care about balancing the budget. They’ve proven this over the years. No concern here.

    Holy Crap!! Well, okay, I guess they’re just off to a really really lousy start. But I’m sure that by funding a war in Afghanistan, and passing another (soon to be) stimulus bill, they’ll turn it around in the next 3 years.

    That said, think about what you are arguing here. You’re arguing that the current crop of private health care insurers are not able to properly compete in a competitive marketplace. Why the hell would you then want to keep them around?

    Dude, again, you’re not reading closely here. I said “health insurance industry.” I could care less about the particular companies. I’m talking about the demise of an industry here. That is, private health insurance could end up going away.

    Really? What do you know about private health insurance? Do you know how well it worked before Medicare? Why do you think Medicare even came to fruition if private insurance worked so well? Capitalism dictates that services are rendered only to those who have the money. Who do you think had money to pay for health insurance before Medicare? Do you think seniors could? Do you think the poor could? Blacks? Do you think they could afford it? Com’on jmb. Don’t even bother telling me that private health insurance has ever, and I mean EVER done better than a governmental insurance program covering most if not all of the citizens of said nation. Private health insurance does a good job at taking care of those who can afford it (like say, Senators and Congressmen).

    It seems like you haven’t examined the reasons why healthcare is so expensive. You are beginning your arguments based on the assumption that it is expensive without examining why. Imagine if you had your full paycheck to pay for insurance (without taxes)? Imagine if there were no laws requiring employers to provide health insurance and thereby didn’t have to pay part of your health insurance premiums (allowing you to take it all home). If the free market were allowed to work, and we weren’t paying for the healthcare of everyone else (not to mention a pension plan of which I’ll never see a dime) healthcare might actually be affordable. I claim the reason healthcare is so expensive is because of gov’t interference. Gov’t is trying to solve the problem they themselves created by pushing more gov’t into our faces.

    BTW, I served my mish in Russia, and I can attest that gov’t insurance did NOT do a better job than private health insurance. You ought to take a look at their hospitals, and their healthcare. Then tell me about how good gov’t healthcare is.

    Anyway, gotta go now and take care of the kids. It’s been fun sparring. Seriously, you ought to take a look at the Austrian business cycle before you dismiss it so quickly. There’s a reason why the Austrian economists predicted this disaster while everyone else was living high and mighty.

  100. December 20, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Dan: Just back after a long evening, and can’t stay up any longer, but if you think opposition to the health care bill is just a Repub vs. Dem issue, you really ought to check out this story on the Huffington Post.

  101. Peter
    December 20, 2009 at 2:20 am

    What a spirited debate. I can ad my blessing to the intent of what Glenn Beck discusses. Much of it is valid, informative, and needed. I do agree that his tone is offputting. His radio show is much less strident and showy and I tend to enjoy him more on there. Often his topic go off politics and he enters a sort of modern Orson Wells mode. But I digress. The politifact websites are interesting because they will point out an error from Beck, draw conclusions from the error in a much more egregious way, then say, Barack Obama. They say GB lies because he says Andy Stern, SEIU president is the most visited member to the White House and they cry foul because it is data from summer and doesn’t count cabinet members. Hmmmmm. I’m still worried a socialist union thug like Stern who beats up tea party protesters is so often in the President’s company. These fact check websites call it a lie because Timothy Geitner has recently passed up Stern as the most visited,and that’s no breath of fresh air. Some fact check. Some of these independent websites aren’t so independent.

    Beck has brought some interested things to light:

    Republicans and Democrats are two opposing forces fighting for the same team – big government. There hasn’t been a truly small Jeffersonian-style government president since Taft, Harding, and Coolidge.
    We can’t sustain the debt. We don’t have enough national income to sustain it. Big takeaway for me is that during the recessions of the seventies, the government increased the money supply through nominally by 13%. It took interest rates approaching 20% in the early eighties to bring it in line. Today, we’ve increased it 110%! What interest rate will it take to bring it in line? Or will we print ourselves out of debt and cause hyperinflation?
    Obama is not hope and change. He’s more of the same with a Chicago thuggery spin on it. He believes in socialism and he surrounds himself with socialists and communists who believe in and support Maoist thought.
    Democrats are just as beholden to Wall Street since the party is owned by Goldmann Sachs, the public wing of the Federal Reserve. Isn’t it curious that in all of the bank failures that the FED’s bank, Goldmann, comes out with the highest profits smelling like a rose? Democrats love bailing out Wall Street as much as the GOP if not more. And they are socialists. How does that reconcile? Hmmm maybe we should audit the FED and find out.

    I don’t know why we should be surprised by the overwhelming reaction of those here on MM. The Book of Mormon prophesies about secret combinations in the last days, but since so many on here are in the BOM nineteenth century construct mode, they’ve missed it. Remember, the Nephites and Lamanites thought they had the Gadianton robbers licked, like we thought we had communism on the run on the nineties after we fought it for four decades, and it came back with a vengeance right before the government fell apart into tribes. Internationalism is the new communism with a happier face. It is run by big banking firms and rich tycoons like Soros. We’re in for a long decade.

  102. Kim
    December 20, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Glenn Beck and all of his conservative talking-heads are in the business of scape-goating. Tearing down whatever system is in place, constant criticism, offering no constructive plan of their own, and certainly not willing to leave their multi-million dollar FOXNews, Citadel Media, Clear Channel contracts to run for office and try their hand at leading. It’s not as easy as they think it is, especially as you need to get over 500 people to agree on anything to get it done.

    Furthermore, think about what NEEDS to happen prior to the second coming. A one world government needs to have been put in place by the forces of darkness. This must happen. Don’t fight it. We have 27 nations that have united to form the European Union. We will see a unification with a Treaty of the Americas. We will see the unification of the Asian Markets and Pan-Arabism. Once we have regional unifications, there will be consolidation to a single system, which will be very successful for a number of years. This Must Happen. There is no getting around it. These things have been prophesied. The speculated regional unifications outlined above are just that, speculation, but the overall concept has been prophesied.

    Here in the United States there are over 300 Million people. Only about 3 million people get $1 Million per year and above in personal income.
    Only about 30 Million people get $250,000 per year and above in personal income. The fact is, no matter what your thoughts on it are, 10% of Americans get more income than the remaining 90% earn all together. So whether your talking about George Soros, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock, William Davis, William Buffet, it doesn’t matter, you can’t be getting that much money without contributing to the internationalism and globalism that will bring us to that prophesied point. *FIN*

  103. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 6:03 am

    jmb,

    It’s absolutely fair, it’s the only way that’s fair. Flat wages would not be fair. We earn according to our ability, or station in life. Just because someone is born into poverty does not entitle them to anything

    1. It’s actually not fair at all to tax at a flat rate. The burden is much greater on the poorer than on the rich. Say you have a family making $50k a year and compare with a family making $150k a year. You tax both at 20%. The first family has $40k to live on while the second family has $120k to live on. Because everything else is priced equally (rent, food, car, etc), the first family now has vastly less to manage its expenses. If rent is $1000 a month ($12k a year), the first family now only has $28k for all the remainder expenses. Meanwhile the second family, also living in a $1000 a month place still has $98k. The purpose of a progressive tax is not to punish the rich for being successful in life, but rather because a flat tax is disproportionately harsh on the poor. What you will eventually find is that the family making $150k will eventually have to pay anyways for services for the family making $50k because they end up not having enough to take care of their family in the end. Thankfully few have liked the flat tax idea. (I remember Governor Brown of California in 1992 campaigning on it, and of course Forbes in 2000 campaigning on it).

    We don’t have the “right,” but as far as our social contract goes, we each agree to do this because, in general, it elevates society. Paying for the fire dept., as you alluded to, benefits all of us. Healthcare isn’t in the same boat.

    2. You make the charge but you don’t back it up. Why isn’t health care in the same boat? I explained my reasoning why it is. If you fail to explain your reasoning why it isn’t, then I win this point. :)

    Dude, I’m not a conservative. I’ve said that like 3 times now!

    Libertarian then? To me, libertarians have not done enough to show they truly are different than conservatives. They still vote for the same damn people. :)

    I don’t think you read what I wrote closely enough. My primary responsibility is to care for me, and my own first. Insuring my home against the risk of fire, but not wanting the current healthcare plan is not the same as caring for artifacts in my home more than their bodies. This is just absurd (no offense)!

    3. I’m just trying to get you to think of health care as it should be thought of. Truly I am amazed at how lackadaisical we as a society are with the number of people who die each year within our own society that die needlessly (simply because they do not have access to health care that would otherwise have saved their lives). Maybe it’s a matter of not being well informed of this matter. you can see here from this study, this is true.

    In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated that 18,000 Americans died in 2000 because they were uninsured. Since then, the number of uninsured has grown. Based on the IOM’s methodology and subsequent Census Bureau estimates of insurance coverage, 137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006.

    Needless deaths.

    Okay, back the truck up here. I think you’ve made some assumptions about me. We are talking about the healthcare plan, not about saving lives. You did not bother to ask if I had a solution to the problem, you are assuming that because I am against the current healthcare bill that I am okay with tens of thousands dying each year due to disease. This is not the case. This is a very dichotomic view you have.

    4. By all means, offer alternatives that are not in the bill. Please.

    Holy Crap!! Well, okay, I guess they’re just off to a really really lousy start. But I’m sure that by funding a war in Afghanistan, and passing another (soon to be) stimulus bill, they’ll turn it around in the next 3 years.

    5. They were given the worst hand any modern president has ever gotten. It will take some time, but this health care bill shows me they are doing what they can to trim that deficit.

    Dude, again, you’re not reading closely here. I said “health insurance industry.” I could care less about the particular companies. I’m talking about the demise of an industry here. That is, private health insurance could end up going away.

    How exactly do you see the industry going away when the American government is about to mandate that an additional 17 million Americans get health insurance from this very same industry!

    I claim the reason healthcare is so expensive is because of gov’t interference. Gov’t is trying to solve the problem they themselves created by pushing more gov’t into our faces.

    6. Once again, you make the charge, but I still see no evidence to back it up. How does government interference, as you call it, make health care so expensive? And you have to answer this by controlling for universal health care in Britain and France costing half or less than half of what we pay, yet covering more. How is it that they can cover all their citizens at a lower cost than we can while we still allow up to 40 million people to go uncovered? Something about this equation is wrong. And because government is the solution in Britain and France, surely government is not the problem in America, unless you think the Brits and the French know better how to govern…

    BTW, I served my mish in Russia, and I can attest that gov’t insurance did NOT do a better job than private health insurance. You ought to take a look at their hospitals, and their healthcare. Then tell me about how good gov’t healthcare is.

    Oh yeah, well I served my mish in Romania, and I never had any problems whenever I needed to visit the hospital! So there! :) Oh, and I never had to pay either. The good citizens of Romania provided that service to me for free. I shall always be thankful of their, shall I say, hospitality. :)

    It’s been fun sparring. Seriously, you ought to take a look at the Austrian business cycle before you dismiss it so quickly. There’s a reason why the Austrian economists predicted this disaster while everyone else was living high and mighty.

    I’ll take a look at it, but based on which ideology keeps throwing this school of thought in my face, I’ll wager I have little interest in this school of thought.

  104. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Firetag,

    Dan: Just back after a long evening, and can’t stay up any longer, but if you think opposition to the health care bill is just a Repub vs. Dem issue, you really ought to check out this story on the Huffington Post.

    Well clearly few are happy with this bill (thank the Republicans for that—who prefer to sit on their fat lazy hands and let Dems do all the work). I’m not happy with this bill. I think it could have been infinitely better. But under the circumstances, I’ll take it. We’ll improve on it later. Generally speaking the population does not pay enough attention to the details and thus gets carried away by the calculated whims of the media (who have a vested interest in keeping things a certain way).

  105. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Peter,

    Obama is not hope and change. He’s more of the same with a Chicago thuggery spin on it. He believes in socialism and he surrounds himself with socialists and communists who believe in and support Maoist thought.

    Blah blah blah, you got anything new? After you use Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, there isn’t much left to scare people is there? It’s stale and boring now.

    I don’t know why we should be surprised by the overwhelming reaction of those here on MM. The Book of Mormon prophesies about secret combinations in the last days, but since so many on here are in the BOM nineteenth century construct mode, they’ve missed it

    What did we miss? Spell it out dude. None of this crap about making a charge without evidence. Just as poor as Skousen himself. Com’on. Prove it.

  106. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Kim,

    A one world government needs to have been put in place by the forces of darkness. This must happen. Don’t fight it.

    Huh? Where do you get the “one world government” crap from? It’s certainly not from the scriptures.

    We have 27 nations that have united to form the European Union. We will see a unification with a Treaty of the Americas. We will see the unification of the Asian Markets and Pan-Arabism.

    You don’t seem to take into account the nature of nationalism, ethno-nationalism, and the principle of Imagined Communities. No, sadly, there will not be a one world government anytime soon. And that is probably for the best.

    This Must Happen. There is no getting around it. These things have been prophesied. The speculated regional unifications outlined above are just that, speculation, but the overall concept has been prophesied.

    Really? Where was it prophesied? Can you share the scriptures please?

  107. Cowboy
    December 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Dan:

    I’m not sold on the argument that somehow our debt to China keeps our two nations in equilibrium. The profiting that these big banks are doing is at the expense of America, and so I am not sure how you see that as a good thing for America.

    As for the question of “is healthcare a right?”. I have worked in healthcare financing for a number of years, and this seems to be the ongoing question. I was at a conference about a 18 months ago where the presenters, representing a number of national think tanks such as the Cato Institute, and The Heritage Foundation, all were asked this question. There was near unaninimity on the first response from a gentleman named Ed Hazelmyer, Heritage Foundation, all agreed that healthcare is a socially desirable good. When they each went on to explain what that meant, it sounded like they were each conflicted with their conservative/libertarian values and the reality that there is no reasonable way to make healthcare a standard market good, without serious social consequences. To be more to the point, I posed the question in several meetings as to whether the ultra-conservatives are willing to allow a person to die, by withholding healthcare that they cannot pay for. Occassionaly someone will try and play tough by saying yes, but they are in margins only, whereas the vast majority end up coming up with confusing ways of not answering the question. So that question that must be asked here, are we willing to allow a person to die by excluding healthcare. One of the qualities of a private good is that it can be excludable to those who cannot pay. From where I stand that is not a good option for healthcare, so I have to fall on the side of the argument that healthcare is in fact a right.

  108. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Cowboy,

    Nice logic on the health care point.

    On banks, the reason I don’t see Chinese banks (and the Chinese government) demanding bad things from America is that they really do want us to pay them back, like any smart creditor. The Chinese will want their money back. They’re not going to upset America. Furthermore, the Chinese economy is strongly tied to America’s because we buy the products they make. We’re their biggest market. That all said, it is clearly not wise to give the Chinese too much of our debt.

  109. December 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Dan:

    You keep thinking that its Dems vs. Repubs. In that you are proving the point that the populists on both left and right are making. The governing elites do not see the tidal wave building against the establishments of both parties which now BOTH have double digit negative approval-disapproval scores.

    The political establishment as a collective isn’t out to help anyone but itself at the moment. The poor do not receive justice in such a system. Economic power is readily transferrable into political power, so the rich continue to do quite well. The “redistribution of wealth” goes from the middle class to the rich in the name of the poor, but then it stays with the rich, who then point their fingers at the “other” rich guys.

    And look at the reactions to Copenhagen. Do you think the rest of the world is going to continue to tolerate “Chimerica’s” current economic partnership?

  110. December 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Cowboy:

    I think your discussion of rights vs social goods is strong. However, how can anything be a fight if it can not be provided (at least without conflict with other rights). For example, “life” is acknowledged as a right, but government can’t tax us enough to buy immortality.

    Political conflicts do not usually start out as conflicts between right and wrong; they start out as conflicts between rughts.

  111. Mark D.
    December 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Do you think the rest of the world is going to continue to tolerate “Chimerica’s” current economic partnership?

    Doesn’t matter. The real questions are:

    1. What do they think is the problem?
    2. What are they prepared to do about it?
    3. Is what they are prepared to do worth the cost?

  112. December 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Peter,

    Obama is not hope and change. He’s more of the same with a Chicago thuggery spin on it. He believes in socialism and he surrounds himself with socialists and communists who believe in and support Maoist thought.

    See, that’s where you all lose the normals. Sure, the deficit is a looming danger (though not yet an emergency). Sure, spending more during a recession is confusing. Sure, the Democratic Party is almost as corporatist as the Republican Party. Normal people hear Beck talk about stuff like that, and think, “Well, he could be on to something there.”

    But then they hear Beck and his followers talk about Obama being a socialist and a communist and even a Maoist, for heaven’s sake, and how he wants to destroy America for the sake of the worldwide communist conspiracy, and then they reach the only reasonable conclusion: you people are freaking nuts. Because Obama is a centrist, corporatist, pragmatic, technocratic Democrat. He’s not even a true liberal, much less a socialist or a communist. Everything he’s said and everything he’s done so far points to this fact. The dismal Senate healthcare reform bill is just the latest proof.

  113. Mark D.
    December 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    To be more to the point, I posed the question in several meetings as to whether the ultra-conservatives are willing to allow a person to die, by withholding healthcare that they cannot pay for

    The question is much more subtle than that. We can make all automobiles on the road much safer by adding safety features that double the cost of each one. Does that mean we are willing to allow people to die by letting them drive the sort of automobiles they have now?

  114. Mark D.
    December 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    The dismal Senate healthcare reform bill is just the latest proof.

    Do you really think Obama wouldn’t prefer a single payer, government run health care system to the bill that is under consideration now? Or perhaps he is just constrained by the need to get sixty votes to prevent a filibuster in the Senate?

    You can rest assured that if this thing passes it will be the biggest expansion of government since Medicare.

  115. Goose
    December 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    re [Obama} believes in socialism and he surrounds himself with socialists and communists who believe in and support Maoist thought

    What a stupid comment. And probably why the GOP has gone backwards over the past 3, 4 years.

  116. December 20, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    <i.Do you really think Obama wouldn’t prefer a single payer, government run health care system to the bill that is under consideration now? Or perhaps he is just constrained by the need to get sixty votes to prevent a filibuster in the Senate?

    I don’t think he cares all that much, actually. If he did, he could have used reconciliation, or at least threatened to. All he wants is to be the president who passed healthcare reform, no matter how lame the actual law turns out to be. The fact that it’s turning into a huge giveaway to insurance companies is probably just a bonus as far as he’s concerned.

    You can rest assured that if this thing passes it will be the biggest expansion of government since Medicare.

    In what way is forcing people to buy insurance from private-sector companies an “expansion of government”?

  117. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Firetag,

    #110,

    The governing elites do not see the tidal wave building against the establishments of both parties which now BOTH have double digit negative approval-disapproval scores.

    Unrest among the masses is nice and all, but unless there is an alternative party with the ability to match the Republicans and the Democrats, it won’t amount to much, except of course a possible violent revolution (the likes of Glenn Beck really have to watch their words more carefully, or they just might get what they are thinking).

    The “redistribution of wealth” goes from the middle class to the rich in the name of the poor, but then it stays with the rich, who then point their fingers at the “other” rich guys.

    It is sad that this point continues to need to be made, but we got this way thanks to Reaganomics. Reagan cut the taxes on the rich, and provided the means for which they could enrich themselves further. That these populists continue saying we should hearken to Reagan tells me they are either completely ignorant of history, or are liars. I tend to believe the latter more than the former. I tend to believe in the principle of Imagined Communities. An Imagined Community is a better description to the phenomenon we normally call ‘nationalism’ which is a label that just doesn’t describe America’s ‘nationalists’ well at all. The people on the right believe in a certain imagined community. This community discludes many many Americans solely because their ideology differs, even to just a small degree. They do not see liberals, for example, as truly American, because in their imagined community, liberal ideology is a foreign enemy.

  118. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    kuri,

    In what way is forcing people to buy insurance from private-sector companies an “expansion of government”?

    A most excellent question.

  119. December 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Dan:

    Were you actually politically conscious during the Reagan era? Your blog picture doesn’t make you look old enough to have been involved in politics then. Did you become politically conscious later, and were taught that Reagonomics is politics’ “original sin”?

    Carter led to Reagan as surely as Nixon led to Carter and Johnson led to Nixon. (I even was a neighborhood volunteer for Humprey’s campaign and a member of the Young Democrats on my campus as an undergrad.) The parties simply trade possession of the “ball” and decouple themselves more completely from their fan base. Winning replaces service and imaginary communities appear on both sides of the political spectrum.

    There won’t be a successful third party in the forseeable future. The game is too rigged in favor of the two existing parties. However, just as the Obama machine overturned the Clinton machine, there can easily be a takeover within a party. The Reagan wing of the Repubs took over from the Rockefeller wing, as a further example.

  120. Dan
    December 20, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Firetag,

    #120,

    Must we be present to understand it? Then surely none of us understand the Founding Fathers. I was indifferent to Reagan back then; my understanding of him coming more from Land of Confusion. :)

    Carter did not lead to Reagan. They are completely different ideologies. Consider for example that even during his term, he reduced the debt. Reagan ushered in a whole new ideology and set us on an unsustainable path. Clinton tried to alter Reaganomics and succeeded. He reduced the size of the government, increased taxes, and balanced the budget he was given by George H W Bush. There really are differences between the parties, Firetag. Consider for example that I would never ever even consider signing up for the “Tea Party” if they ever officially form. Just because I despise Republicans, and think Democrats are too coward doesn’t mean that I’ll take a third party. Third parties must show a serious understanding of what is going on. Currently the only party that seems to show any ability to understand what is going on is the Democratic party. Thus at this point I side with them.

    I know conservatives (in particular tea-baggers) would just love for people to think there is no difference between Obama and Bush. But there is. It is a huge stark difference.

  121. December 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Dan:

    I WAS there for Carter and Reagan, and it was a revulsion to the economic and foreign policies of Carter that got Reagan elected. Do you seriously contend that Carter was a one-term president because he was SUCCESSFUL?

    I was also there for Clinton. He was dragged kicking and screaming toward a balanced budget by a Republican congress (easily proven in a series of speeches by Clinton between 1993 and 1996 in which he progressively conceded more and more deficit reduction was possible)– who promptly overreached on THEIR part.

    Yes, there is a big difference between the parties, but it is the difference illustrated in an old Far Side cartoon showing a family on a strip of beach between the woods and the sea. In the woods are bears yelling “Shark! Shark!” In the surf are sharks yelling “Bear! Bear!” The only hope of escape is to stop listening to either predator and run ALONG the beach.

    Because the “unsustainable path” we’re on is known from Roman times as a fundamental problem of democracy, and should certainly be internalized by now by all of us raised in the Restoration. As the classicists put it: if the people of a democracy decide that they can vote themselves bread and circuses, the democracy is doomed. Corrupt elites will be happy to provide both — until they CAN’T.

  122. December 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I support FireTag’s comments concerning Carter, Reagan, and Clinton. Except for the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Carter was a disaster as a president.

    Clinton became a good president precisely because the Republican Congress’s emphasis on the Balance Budget, though I think both Clinton and the Republican Congress got too cozy with the banks and allowed too many bank mergers which laid the foundation for the bank problems we have today.

    After the Republicans and Bush took control, they promptly forgot all their balanced budget principles and Contract with America. Cheney drove that point home when he said “deficits don’t matter”–what a stupid statement. We need some real fiscal conservatism back, and I think the Contract with America should be revived. I can’t believe it has been forgotten so quickly.

  123. Goose
    December 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Dan 118,

    It is sad that this point continues to need to be made, but we got this way thanks to Reaganomics. Reagan cut the taxes on the rich, and provided the means for which they could enrich themselves further. That these populists continue saying we should hearken to Reagan tells me they are either completely ignorant of history, or are liars

    I doubt its either one. I’d say they are simply still true believers in Reaganomics just as a fanatical follower of some cult is a true believer in that cult, even when the cult is sinking or asking them to die for it.

    Those populists you mention are just that, populists plus fanatical followers of Reagan. They know the history well but they justify Reagan by blaming the democrats since they held the house when Reagan was president, and since congress holds the purse….whala its the democrats and their socialism’ fault.

  124. Wyoming
    December 20, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I never plan to be rich – but this class envy issue really annoys me. It is the personification of a victim mentality to believe that another group holds the key to one’s future. I also believe it violates the commandment – Thou Shalt Not Covet.

  125. December 20, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Wyoming,

    There’s certainly something to what you say, but have you ever noticed that when politics and economics are rigged in favor of the rich, it’s only when the non-rich object that anyone brings up ideas like class warfare?

  126. SUNNofaB.C.Rich
    December 20, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Dan, isn’t there tons of stuff on your blog talking about how great Jimmy was? I guess that makes sense, Carter thought Ceaucescu was great.

  127. Rigel Hawthorne
    December 21, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Re: Don’t even bother telling me that private health insurance has ever, and I mean EVER done better than a governmental insurance program covering most if not all of the citizens of said nation.

    I see a number of patients who are eligible for government care in the Veteren’s Health Care system who use private insurance or medicare to fill in numerous gaps in the VA system. For some elements of primary care, it’s not bad. They have their regularly scheduled primary care visits, but are told (at least what they tell me) that if the lab results of one visit do not necessitate emergency changes in management, they will address minor adjustments of medication doses, etc at their next 6 month check-up. Privately insured patients would never put up with that. I have also seen numerous cases where VA patients are eligible for a surgery, i.e. hip replacement, but are waiting indefinitely for scheduling and are in horrible pain, so they look to other insurance options to get surgeries done even if they have to pay thousands of dollars in copayments.

    Look at the actions of many federal Indian tribes who have had government healthcare for half a century, but are opting to take over their own health care systems and contract with private health care systems to get things done instead of waiting forever for funding, recruitment, prioritization through government systems.

    As to forcing people to purchase insurance, many individuals freely choose jobs without insurance that they find personally preferable because of flexibility, minor gains in wages, enjoying greater freedom from supervision etc while others may choose to tolerate schedule demands that are out of their control, lower wages, and a requirement to please a supervisor in order to have health insurance. With that insurance comes copayments and out of pocket expenses that in some cases involve 40 cents on every health-care dollar spent paying for ER and hospital bills of those that are not insured.

    Even those who have worked in a position where insurance was ‘basically free’ to them have in many cases NOT used the insurance until they developed a condition that was an emergency…i.e. a stroke, heart attack. Employer based “wellness programs” that encourage employees to do preventive screenings seem to work better at motivating people to participate if they face a threat of added cost to their insurance rather than just doing it for their health.

    The current health-care reform is really only “insurance reform”. It is not really reforming health of Americans. Powerful food companies have succeeded in making and keeping the most energy dense food (fatty and sugary food) the least expensive and most profit laden. This perpetuates an obesity epidemic in the US. Even school lunch contracts cater to low-cost fat and sugar heavy menus delivered by business as usual food giants. It seems that the innovation of taxing tobacco with the justification that it creates a health burden should be extended to soda and junk food items.

  128. Mark D.
    December 21, 2009 at 3:04 am

    The current health-care reform is really only “insurance reform”.

    I am sure that somewhere in those 2000 pages they have a few things that don’t exactly fall under the umbrella of “insurance reform”.

    By the way, there are a lot of reasons to conclude that this isn’t really insurance “reform” at all, but rather something more like insurance “deform”. You have to ask yourself, would you rather live under the Massachusetts plan, with rapidly rising health insurance costs and some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, or under the present system?

    I think the biggest problem with the current bills is that they eliminate high deductible health insurance plans and HSAs, which have the greatest potential for reducing the cost of health care over time, especially if the unnatural subsidy to employer provided health care is eliminated. The current plan increases coverage, but does absolutely nothing to reduce costs, in fact will make them far worse. Massachusetts is typical.

    In short, we already have a health care entitlements (Medicare and Medicaid) in crisis, and the solution is to create a new one, while doing nothing (such as tort reform) that would actually make the cost of health care per person go down. In fact punishing people that try to economize on their health care expenditures by getting a high deductible health care plan in combination with an HSA.

    This problem is serious enough for many that it will be much more economical for them to pay the $750 or whatever dollar penalty every year than purchase a mandatory full coverage health insurance plan. The bill is flat out designed to make people pay more for health care, and get more of it, including coverage for regular expenses that they neither need or want, and which is more expensive to run through an insurance company (unnecessarily inflating their profits) then simply paying out of pocket. The current bill is basically a giveaway to the insurance companies. No wonder so many are behind it.

  129. Dan
    December 21, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Firetag,

    I WAS there for Carter and Reagan, and it was a revulsion to the economic and foreign policies of Carter that got Reagan elected. Do you seriously contend that Carter was a one-term president because he was SUCCESSFUL?

    Let’s not get mixed up here. You said:

    The “redistribution of wealth” goes from the middle class to the rich in the name of the poor, but then it stays with the rich, who then point their fingers at the “other” rich guys.

    I posited that this began with Reagan, because it was he who began drastically reducing the taxes of the rich. Look at any graph on the internet. They’ll all show something similar to this. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, the top 1% earners in the United States vastly increased the size of their earnings, so much so that the top 1% now make 6% of all the money in America. As the graphs will also show, the period before the Great Depression saw similar numbers. It is a strange thing, but for some odd reason, many people are under the impression that giving more money to already rich people means that that money is somehow protected, that the rich won’t mess up with that kind of money. That they won’t get corrupted by it. That greed won’t cause them to do the very same stupid things that anyone would when confronted with a boatload of cash. Ironically, very similar reasons caused both crashes, the one in 1929 and the one in 2008. Rich people overleveraged themselves in real estate. Greed got them.

    In any case, I notice that when attacking Reagan, you “run home to mama” and defend Reagan by attacking Carter. Why is that? Did I say anything about Carter? Did I say he ran a good government or a bad government? Carter continued the same policies of previous administrations vis a vis our debt by continually paying it down with high taxes on the super wealthy. I guess Reagan felt that was no longer necessary. He cut taxes and massively increased the size of the government, thus adding a terrible amount of debt to our burden. Com’on fiscal conservatives, let me hear you excoriate your Dear Leader. Let me hear you lash into him. Com’on, make my day. Say it. Reagan was no fiscal conservative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms Read it and weep. This is such a beautiful wikipedia page. Look at the numbers toward the bottom under Federal Spending, Federal Debt, and GDP. Those are such beautiful numbers.

    Since 1978, under Democrats, Federal Spending increased 10%. Under Republicans Federal Spending increased 12%. Federal Debt increased 4% under Democrats, and a WHOPPING 36% under Republicans! WTF!!!!!!! Not only that but GDP increased 12.6% under Democrats and only 10.7% under Republicans. Worse still is that these numbers only go to 2005. They do not reflect both the collapse of the economy under Bush, but also the remainder of his Federal Spending. When updated, these numbers will be absolutely horrendous to Reaganomics, practiced by every single Republican president since 1980.

    How can you then come to this debate table and argue against my strong points on Reaganomics by talking about Carter? Who the hell gives a crap about Carter these days? That’s such a red herring. The numbers do not lie. Reaganomics has had a strongly negative effect on the fiscal sustainability of our country. Not only has it not increased the GDP at the same level as under Democrats, but it has also increased spending and MASSIVELY increased debt. That today’s Republicans continue to hearken to the “better” days of Reagan as the future, every single person in this country should shake their heads and say “we’ve had enough of Reaganomics. May it rest in peace with the old man.”

  130. Dan
    December 21, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Rigel,

    #128

    Privately insured patients would never put up with that.

    That’s nice and all, but again, the problem with private insurance is that it simply does not have the capability to cover every single person. On the whole, because private insurance cannot cover everyone, it is therefore never as good as a government run insurance, which will actually cover everyone.

    The current health-care reform is really only “insurance reform”. It is not really reforming health of Americans.

    You make a great point here. This is very true, that the current push is health insurance reform and not health reform. I hope I’ve been clear on that. When it comes to actual health reform, that’s a much bigger fish to fry.

  131. Dan
    December 21, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Mark,

    You have to ask yourself, would you rather live under the Massachusetts plan, with rapidly rising health insurance costs and some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, or under the present system?

    I’ll take Massachusetts for 2000, Alex. :)

  132. December 21, 2009 at 9:41 am

    You have to ask yourself, would you rather live under the Massachusetts plan, with rapidly rising health insurance costs and some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, or under the present system?

    Is there a state where health insurance costs aren’t rapidly rising? And Massachusetts already had very high costs before mandatory health insurance was implemented. And Mass. has started working on cost controls, BTW.

    I think the biggest problem with the current bills is that they eliminate high deductible health insurance plans and HSAs, which have the greatest potential for reducing the cost of health care over time, especially if the unnatural subsidy to employer provided health care is eliminated.

    Single-payer actually has the greatest potential to reduce costs, because it brings in massive bargaining power versus providers.

    In short, we already have a health care entitlements (Medicare and Medicaid) in crisis, and the solution is to create a new one, while doing nothing (such as tort reform) that would actually make the cost of health care per person go down.

    Tort reform would only result in minor savings.

    This problem is serious enough for many that it will be much more economical for them to pay the $750 or whatever dollar penalty every year than purchase a mandatory full coverage health insurance plan. … The current bill is basically a giveaway to the insurance companies.

    Unfortunately, this is all too true.

  133. Thomas
    December 21, 2009 at 11:56 am

    #117: “In what way is forcing people to buy insurance from private-sector companies an “expansion of government”?”

    See italicised.

    Democrats have gotten wise and discovered its much easier to achieve their goals (state control of economic activity) through the fascist/corporativist model of intertwining Big Government and Big Business — guaranteeing Big Business a fixed rate of return and shielding it from uppity competition, in exchange for Big Business agreeing to serve the State’s goals — than the old discredited model of straight socialism, where government takes formal outright ownership of productive assets.

    It is absolutely no coincidence that the areas of the economy where state involvement is most pronounced (health care, education, housing via the GSEs and state manipulation of finance), costs to citizens have gotten most divorced from rationality. The closer the economy is to the Law of the Harvest (you reap what you sow, and pay out of pocket for what you consume), the less economic irrationality there will be.

  134. December 21, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Dan:

    Let me say this slowly, because you don’t seem to be able to see the world in anything but partisan terms: The. Government. is. the. rich.

    The more power is concentrated in government, the more tightly the rich will control government. The corruption is growing. The Democratic Party is corrupted. The Republican party is corrupted. You are fighting over who stands on top of the garbage pile, not doing noble good.

  135. jmb275
    December 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Dan-
    We have definitely veered off topic, but I have enjoyed it. At the most basic level our debate comes down to ideology. Rather than debate details, I will give you the logic behind my ideas and you can decide if they are fair or not.

    1. It’s actually not fair at all to tax at a flat rate. The burden is much greater on the poorer than on the rich.

    I don’t think your example is fair. As an extreme example, imagine you worked diligently to earn your $150K/year salary (went to school, sacrificed things you wanted, etc.), while I went skiing with my friends, worked at McDonald’s, and led a great single life. Now, the gov’t comes to you and tells you that you should pay 80% of that to them, which they then give to me, and others like me. There are three main problems with this scenario that make it unfair:
    1. Force is being used to take your property, without your consent, and given to someone else (and the ends don’t justify the means).
    2. From your perspective, your incentive to innovate, develop, and make money is reduced (since it’s taken away anyway).
    3. From my perspective, I have no incentive to do anything other than what I’ve been doing (since I am entitled to your money).
    Your definition of fair, as you described it, seems to be completely based in money. But do all jobs require the same amount of effort? Do all jobs require the same amount of training? Should this not be taken into account when deciding what is fair?

    This is obviously an extreme example, but the takehome point is that “fair” has to include more than just money. It
    should take into account effort, sacrifice, etc.

    2. You make the charge but you don’t back it up. Why isn’t health care in the same boat? I explained my reasoning why it is. If you fail to explain your reasoning why it isn’t, then I win this point.

    Sorry, as I understood it, you had two points.
    1. Healthcare is benevolent, and since we are Christians, we should care for others.
    2. We all pay for the fire dept. because we want ourselves protected in the event there is a fire. This is a regulated market.
    I do not dispute point 1. I just disagree that gov’t enforced healthcare rules are the mechanism to achieve it. I can only see #2 as being valid in the case of a pandemic (which we already discussed). Otherwise, I see no reason (outside of altruism) why I should care if my neighbor gets sick. The point of the fire dept. is to keep my own house safe, not to be charitable to my neighbor.

    Libertarian then? To me, libertarians have not done enough to show they truly are different than conservatives. They still vote for the same damn people.

    Might I politely suggest then that you don’t know much about libertarianism. In a nutshell, libertarians are fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. In any case, I hesitate to call myself such because I hate labels. I’m an independent, but yes, most of my ideas coincide with libertarianism. And I have never voted along party lines, and I have never voted for a Republican president (nor for a Democrat one for that matter).

    Truly I am amazed at how lackadaisical we as a society are with the number of people who die each year within our own society that die needlessly

    You keep coming back to this, but this doesn’t hold water. As Cowboy has pointed out, few people are unconcerned with this issue and are okay with people just dying. They just don’t believe gov’t controlled healthcare is the solution. This misundertanding is similar to the way repubs view dems on the issue of abortion. They see them as being okay with murdering infants. Yet democrats don’t want to murder infants, they believe in choice (hence the pro-choice stance).

    Oh yeah, well I served my mish in Romania, and I never had any problems whenever I needed to visit the hospital!

    I know you were joking a bit here, but you specifically said “Don’t even bother telling me that private health insurance has ever, and I mean EVER done better than a governmental insurance program covering most if not all of the citizens of said nation.” I provided one example where this failed, so I win this point ;-). BTW, yes, every citizen was covered. That is, they were covered with spectacularly crappy healthcare in dirty hospitals, with poorly trained doctors (at least in Russia).

    So now, let me explain libertarianism a bit, and my own solution to the heatlhcare problem. Libertarianism makes the fewest assumptions of any political theory I’m aware of (except maybe anarchism), follows them to their logical conclusion, and is most closely aligned with the US Constitution.
    1. People pursue their own happiness in their own way.
    2. People have property, and rights, that should be protected by the gov’t.
    From these two axioms, libertarianism builds a political ideology that maximizes happiness for everyone (if you want a more thorough deductive logic discussion, we can go there). The end result is a stance which makes the fewest assumptions about people (no complex models predicting human behavior), an economy (the austrian business cycle), or what a gov’t should do (protect rights).

    I contend that your political ideology makes a vast assortment of assumptions, the unintended consequences of which you have not thoroughly examined. Your basis of “fairness” is equated with money and the things it can buy, but ignores effort, incentives, and innovation. Your healthcare view is based on forcing the evil health insurance industry to play “fair” as you define it, without examining what it might mean for the healthcare industry itself, or medical industry (in the way of incentives, and innovation). Your economics view is based on mathematical characterizations of an enormous (and constantly changing) system where individual knobs can be tweaked, effecting only the desired outcome. It also assumes that gov’t will in fact tweak the right knobs. I find each of these assumptions thoroughly lacking in analysis.

    As for my solution to healthcare, I would allow, and encourage the privatization of health insurance charities. These organizations would provide the service that the gov’t is attempting to fill, by paying premiums where there is need, acting as an intermediate to fight for the rights of citizens against evil health insurance companies, etc. It would not be a health insurance company, but a charity that works with them, on the behalf of underprivileged consumers. This would be funded by willful donations (the only way altruism is beneficial for everyone). If there is not enough money to do this, then yes, people will die, and it will be a very bad reflection on us as a society. But I contend that since most people are democrat (according to the last election) and since you’re all so benevolent (according to you), there should be no problem fulfilling this need.:) Furthermore, this would allow the free market to work, and crappy health insurance companies would soon go out of business to be replaced with more efficient ones.

  136. Dexter
    December 21, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    A flat tax is the fairest tax system out there. Any argument to show that it is not, is over thinking the issue. I’m not saying I am for a flat tax, but you cannot argue that it is not fair. Equal percentage for all is the definition of fair.

  137. jmb275
    December 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Let me say this slowly, because you don’t seem to be able to see the world in anything but partisan terms: The. Government. is. the. rich.

    The more power is concentrated in government, the more tightly the rich will control government. The corruption is growing. The Democratic Party is corrupted. The Republican party is corrupted. You are fighting over who stands on top of the garbage pile, not doing noble good.

    All I have to say is A-freaking-men!

  138. Dexter
    December 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I definitely agree with whomever JMB quoted in 38 as well. I respect anyone who realizes both parties have huge problems. I don’t trust anyone who thinks the problems our nation faces are all one party’s fault and that the other party will fix the problems.

  139. jmb275
    December 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Democrats have gotten wise and discovered its much easier to achieve their goals (state control of economic activity) through the fascist/corporativist model of intertwining Big Government and Big Business — guaranteeing Big Business a fixed rate of return and shielding it from uppity competition, in exchange for Big Business agreeing to serve the State’s goals — than the old discredited model of straight socialism, where government takes formal outright ownership of productive assets.

    It is absolutely no coincidence that the areas of the economy where state involvement is most pronounced (health care, education, housing via the GSEs and state manipulation of finance), costs to citizens have gotten most divorced from rationality. The closer the economy is to the Law of the Harvest (you reap what you sow, and pay out of pocket for what you consume), the less economic irrationality there will be.

    Brilliant! See California for an excellent example.

    Incidentally, this is where I disagree with the Conservative scare tactics that we are becoming socialist. We’re not, we’re becoming corporatist, which is, I think, worse than socialism. It gives the appearance of capitalism (easy to blame big business) but as FireTag has said, the gov’t, IS the big business.

  140. December 21, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    JMB re 136:

    Dan’s model also assumes that “government” is not actually composed of individuals capable of pursuing their own happiness at the expense of the rights and happiness of all others in society — rather than protecting the rights and happiness of others.

  141. December 21, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Democrats have gotten wise and discovered its much easier to achieve their goals (state control of economic activity) through the fascist/corporativist model of intertwining Big Government and Big Business — guaranteeing Big Business a fixed rate of return and shielding it from uppity competition, in exchange for Big Business agreeing to serve the State’s goals — than the old discredited model of straight socialism, where government takes formal outright ownership of productive assets.

    This, of course, is versus the Republican strategy of abandoning the old discredited model of straight capitalism for one in which Government serves Big Business’s goals by socializing costs and privatizing profits. Given the choice between those two corporatist models, I slightly prefer the Democratic one.

    It is absolutely no coincidence that the areas of the economy where state involvement is most pronounced (health care, education, housing via the GSEs and state manipulation of finance), costs to citizens have gotten most divorced from rationality.

    Perhaps so. But it seems odd that you leave the entire military-industrial complex out of your economic areas where the government is most involved. And energy. And transportation. And agriculture. One might almost suspect you of an ideological bias.

    The closer the economy is to the Law of the Harvest (you reap what you sow, and pay out of pocket for what you consume), the less economic irrationality there will be.

    A rational health care economy would be a lot like what we have now, but more so. There would be a few people with great health care, many people with mediocre to poor health care, and many people with no health care. I suppose there’s some sort of argument to be made for that kind of system, but I can’t think of any reason anyone outside of the first group should accept it.

  142. jmb275
    December 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    @FireTag

    Dan’s model also assumes that “government” is not actually composed of individuals capable of pursuing their own happiness at the expense of the rights and happiness of all others in society — rather than protecting the rights and happiness of others.

    Indeed! That’s exactly why we need less government meddling in our affairs, and to go back to actually following the constitution. The constitution, as laid out, has the right system of checks and balances. But those balances and checks have been tossed out the window in recent years.

    @kuri

    Perhaps so. But it seems odd that you leave the entire military-industrial complex out of your economic areas where the government is most involved. And energy. And transportation. And agriculture. One might almost suspect you of an ideological bias.

    I can’t answer for Thomas, but for me, I’m first one in line for reducing military spending. Although, admittedly, citizens don’t “consume” the products the military creates, so Thomas’s point still stands.

    A rational health care economy would be a lot like what we have now, but more so. There would be a few people with great health care, many people with mediocre to poor health care, and many people with no health care.

    I disagree. Admittedly the rich will always have special access given their wealth (and why shouldn’t they?), but once again, your argument presupposes (like Dan’s) that good healthcare must, of necessity be expensive, and thereby only affordable by the rich. I cannot blame you for this notion since it’s what we have now, but if the free market were allowed to work, the cost of healthcare would come down (since no one could afford it).

  143. Dan
    December 21, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Firetag,

    #135,

    You are fighting over who stands on top of the garbage pile, not doing noble good.

    Because we’re not talking about the noble good, but who, in the end, controls the garbage pile. :) There is no such thing as noble good in a democracy. This is blood sport, firetag. Democracy is as base as you can get, because it requires the vote of the basest of the base in the end.

  144. Thomas
    December 21, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    #42: “Perhaps so. But it seems odd that you leave the entire military-industrial complex out of your economic areas where the government is most involved.”

    Apart from anachronisms like the old British East India Company’s role in India before 1850, military matters have been outside the private economy for centuries.

    $300 screwdrivers aside, I’m not convinced defense procurement has suffered from the same irrationality in allocative forces as have education and healthcare. I do some False Claims Act litigation, and the government (and its qui tam proxies) can be very aggressive in going after overcharging.

    Re: energy, agriculture, and transportation, no objections from me that subsidies, etc. distort the market. We eat too much corn syrup, and sugar has pretty no business being grown in the U.S. That said, subsidies in those areas (while objectionable to economic libertarians) don’t distort markets anywhere near as dramatically as government intervention in healthcare, education, and real estate have done.

    A rational health care economy would be a lot like what we have now, but more so. There would be a few people with great health care, many people with mediocre to poor health care, and many people with no health care.

    No, a rational health care economy would have equal tax treatment of premiums, whether paid by employers or individuals. There would be standardized interstate commerce in health insurance, as opposed to the present system where we pretend that the last century of Commerce Clause jurisprudence never happened for this one particular part of the economy. We would encourage people to buy high-deductible health care plans, so they see a greater relationship between their consumption and their spending. We could give assistance to the truly needy, after all they can do — people with uninsurable preexisting conditions, or the poor (to the extent they aren’t already covered by Medicaid, S-CHIP, etc.)

    “Rational” doesn’t mean “heartless.” An irrational idea doesn’t get any smarter when you stamp “compassion” on its side.

  145. Dan
    December 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    jmb

    #136

    Now, the gov’t comes to you and tells you that you should pay 80% of that to them, which they then give to me, and others like me. There are three main problems with this scenario that make it unfair:

    1. Well the first problem with that is that it is not at all what happens. If I make $150k taxed at 80% and that 80% went directly to you, a bum skiier, then yeah, I’d be pretty pissed. I kept my example fairly realistic. Com’on jmb, use realistic examples, or I might confuse you with one of those who tries to scare people into their ideology. ;)

    The second problem of course is that no one is talking about taxing someone who makes $150k at 80%. Again, totally unrealistic, and leaning into fearmongering.

    Thirdly, the use of taxation is not to take money from one person to give it to another. This is perverse fearmongering. And you know that this is not the case, so why use such a fake example?

    I do not dispute point 1. I just disagree that gov’t enforced healthcare rules are the mechanism to achieve it. I can only see #2 as being valid in the case of a pandemic (which we already discussed). Otherwise, I see no reason (outside of altruism) why I should care if my neighbor gets sick. The point of the fire dept. is to keep my own house safe, not to be charitable to my neighbor.

    It’s not just in a pandemic that your neighbor being sick that it affects you as well. But even if this is the case, how it affects you should not be the only reason you back something. Let me give you an example that is not necessarily extreme (this is something that actually does happen). Your neighbor is poor and not in good health. He recently had a flu, but never went to the doctor for it because he didn’t have the money. The flu left behind a residue cough that never went away. Eventually the cold weather put him in a situation where his cough got progressively worse and he eventually came down with pneumonia. He died in his home. This neighbor of yours could have been saved at any time during all this. He could have been treated and lived if he but had the money. Instead he died. Your neighbor is dead. I guess it is his fault that he didn’t have enough money so someone else could watch over his sick body. At least someone was watching over his house so his house wouldn’t burn down. Small comforts.

    Secondly, the point of a fire department is not to keep your own house safe, but the whole community safe. This selfishness that Ayn Rand has induced in libertarianism is so poisonous to the Christian heart. I’m afraid so many have truly forgotten what it is to be a compassionate neighbor.

    You keep coming back to this, but this doesn’t hold water. As Cowboy has pointed out, few people are unconcerned with this issue and are okay with people just dying. They just don’t believe gov’t controlled healthcare is the solution.

    They don’t show this by the way they vote, and by who they support. What exactly do conservatives and libertarians have as an alternative? We all agree that the status quo is not sustainable. What have you to offer? At least Democrats are doing something. Y’all are sitting on your butts decrying big government, but you show no alternatives. How does a fiscal conservative help every American get health insurance?

    I know you were joking a bit here, but you specifically said “Don’t even bother telling me that private health insurance has ever, and I mean EVER done better than a governmental insurance program covering most if not all of the citizens of said nation.” I provided one example where this failed, so I win this point . BTW, yes, every citizen was covered. That is, they were covered with spectacularly crappy healthcare in dirty hospitals, with poorly trained doctors (at least in Russia).

    3. I can’t speak for Russia as I’ve never been there, and haven’t really studied their health care system. I know Britain, France, and Romania much better. My point was very clear. As private insurance has never been able to cover everyone, and covering everyone is a greater priority than the level of care, government health care wins every time. Now, as to how good government health care is, that depends. Your example is from Russia during a tumultuous period of transition. Clearly not a good example. Please compare the hospitals of France to that of the US. I think you’ll find more competitive example there. Romania’s hospitals (or at least the one I visited) are much better, apparently, than Russia’s, but those examples do not discredit governmental care. What you are essentially trying to say is that an American-government run program cannot somehow be as good as a private American program even though both would be run by Americans. That doesn’t jibe with me.

    1. People pursue their own happiness in their own way.
    2. People have property, and rights, that should be protected by the gov’t.

    And this is where libertarianism fails at describing real life. They totally neglect communalism, familialism for individualism, as if individualism explains everything about this life. But as no human being is self-reliant (but always reliant on someone else, whether in employment or simply in the fields, relying on God and Mother Nature to bring in the rains), an ideology that relies solely on individualism to describe life is not a good ideology at running life or a society. It may be a good ideology for individuals to adhere to, but a community and a nation, not at all. It is a terrible ideology, and destructive to society.

    I contend that your political ideology makes a vast assortment of assumptions, the unintended consequences of which you have not thoroughly examined. Your basis of “fairness” is equated with money and the things it can buy, but ignores effort, incentives, and innovation.

    Are you telling me that during the period 1940-1970 we lacked innovation and creativity in America? Are you telling me we were more creative during the period of 1980-2008? Look more closely, jmb. You’ll find we were far more creative and innovative during the former period while we were living a gluttonous life of excess and fat during the latter. We’re excessive consumers right now, jmb, not creators and producers. Sorry man, but it seems, from history, that America does far better at innovation when taxes are high, and tends to get fat on its excesses when taxes are low. :)

    Your healthcare view is based on forcing the evil health insurance industry to play “fair” as you define it, without examining what it might mean for the healthcare industry itself, or medical industry (in the way of incentives, and innovation).

    If I could get rid of America’s health insurance companies and replace them with a single-payer government run system, I would. Any time of the year. I have absolutely no problem at all if these health insurance companies go under. No problem at all. May they rest in peace like the human beings they allowed to die. Bastards!

    5. You’re suggestion on how we can proceed with health care reform is a good one. I’m curious if you have any examples in history where that has worked.

  146. Dan
    December 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    with that, I’m bowing out of the debate. Just know I won’t be looking at the responses anymore. It was a fun debate y’all. :)

  147. December 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    jmb 143 and Thomas 145,

    The problem with free markets and/or high-deductible plans is that people tend to have a simple reaction when they have to pay for their own health care: they don’t. That is, they don’t pay for unnecessary health care, but they don’t pay for necessary health care either. Ordinary people lack the expertise to make medical decisions based on medical needs, and when they make them based on economic needs, they under-consume. Purchasing as little health care as possible is not optimal for good health, but that’s what results from free-market(-ish) health care.

  148. December 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Dan:

    If you think it is about a blood sport to control the garbage pile, then you have made my point for me far better than I could have done.

    Democracies don’t do that. Democracies evolving into empires do THAT. “Hail, Caesar!” Or will it be, “Hail, Pompei!” It’s ultimately irrelevant which.

    And we must not use fear to promote our ideologies. Even though if we don’t pass Obamacare by Christmas the US will go bankrupt and if we don’t cut per capita carbon emissions to 19th Century levels by 2050 the planet is doomed. Nothing to fear; just follow our betters.

    No Restorationist should ever fall for that trick. It’s not like you haven’t been warned, if, at minimum, only metaphorically.

    Thomas:

    Corruption in the military industrial complex is alive and well, too. It just typically takes the form of using political influence to determine what contracts are let, who supplies the work, and where the projects are built. Few cases of outright false claims show up (yet). But there is no need to build pyramids that fall down, and that can be downright dangerous. The corruption lies in building the pyramids in the first place.

  149. Thomas
    December 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    48: The high-deductible plans I’ve looked into provide for a couple of examinations per year, fully paid for by the insurance company. The companies have an incentive to detect illness early, since early detection can often minimize intensive treatment and the resulting high costs.

    “Ordinary people lack the expertise to make medical decisions based on medical needs” — Maybe, but rational ordinary people do have the sense to recognize that lack, and defer to their doctors’ decisions. I doubt many people would skimp on treatment for really serious conditions even if they paid out of pocket, especially if they’d saved the amount of their deductible, or more, in a HSA during healthy years. That money can’t be spent in any other way, so the incentive not to consume it on health is limited.

    Your argument, BTW, is logic for socializing virtually any aspect of the economy where spending decisions are made based on specialized knowledge. According to this argument, Americans are underconsuming legal services, auto mechanic work, engineering, etc.

    And of course the other side of the coin is that while self-paying for health care costs may create an incentive to under-consume, state payment creates an incentive to under-supply. Specifically, there is far less incentive to develop new treatments, because that just means more occasions for the single payer to spend money. The experience of other single-payer systems seems to bear out this expectation.

  150. Thomas
    December 21, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    49: “Few cases of outright false claims show up (yet).”

    Oh, the False Claims Act case law is absolutely chock-full of thoroughly splendid frauds. And that’s just the ones somebody catches (and makes a boatload of money exposing). You’d be amazed how much cash you can pile up by the simple expedient of adding the odd zero to a few invoice cost items.

    My point, though, is that while there is certainly procurement fraud (almost as much as there is Medicare fraud, if the FCA cases I’ve researched are any indication), they don’t have as great an effect as the Big Three items I mentioned, and virtually none at all on the average consumer. When the government distorts the education market, or the housing market, it is money out of my pocket, since those are major consumption items for me. On the other hand, when military/contractor collusion distorts the defense procurement market, that may hurt taxpayers, but it doesn’t jack up prices for all consumers. Civilians aren’t generally in the market for JDAMs.

    Although after my non-bonus and piddly raise this year, I’d like to get my hands on one for dropping on a certain parcel of downtown Los Angeles real estate. Merry fargin’ Christmas to you too, Ebenezer.

  151. Peter
    December 22, 2009 at 9:14 am

    106. Dan, blah, blah, blah but it’s true. Both Van Jones and Anita Dunn, working for Obama, connected with the Chicago way, are Maoists. Glenn has them on video praising Mao. Then there’s the FCC guy who loves Chavez and his appointed regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, both hard core leftists. Their words, not mine. I guess it doesn’t bother you that we have folks in the White House that praise a man that killed 60 million of his own people. What it Bush had Nazis in his cabinet or advising him as Czars. What you say, Dan? There’s your evidence.

    113. Kuri, how can we come to any other conclusion when the people he surrounds himself with are that leftwing? He could have hired the Clinton guys who were at least centrist, but he brings in these nutjobs who praise Mao. Now maybe Obama isn’t that left wing, but you are who you surround yourself with. I can say that it is confusing, because in practice, Obama is corporatist, elitist, third way, etc. but it is my contention and may others before me that the banking interests and the top-level socialists interests are really one in the same. Whenever socialism/communism is implemented, all it does is freeze social status, not bring everyone to the same equal level. It basically puts people into two categories, the proletariat, and those that rule the proletariat. Once big capital saw this, they could throw in because large capital is interested in lessening competition and capitalism because they already have theirs! Financing a people’s republic freezes them in place as protectors of the working class. It’s fairly ingenious, because it’s less about ideology than about power. Indeed, one can be said it’s nothing more than dressed up neo-feudalism of and international flavor. The elites protect the working class and the working class provide sustenance for the elites. The bottom line is that I see no difference in socialism and corporatism at the top end. But maybe that’s just me.

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