Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Double Response - Tea Partying for

Before I mention anything else I'd like to point out that Barack Obama actually lowered taxes for 95% of Americans. Where were the signs at these rallies supporting Obama and asking him to keep up the good work?

On to the response to the response:

"I don't know why you get so stuck on the fringe. The tea parties were not about not paying taxes they were about not being happy with the way our taxes were being used."

My understanding, from viewing pictures and interviews, is that these protests were generic complaints about taxes and socialism, with many protesters conflating the two. Everyone can find something they don't like to pay for, but Obama won the election so he, along with Congress, gets to decide. If we only had to pay for programs we liked the United States would immediately collapse.

"Just because certain news networks and cable shows chose to pick out the fringe weirdos and morons that have their own agenda doesn't mean that was the core message of the protests as a whole."

The protests were promoted ad nauseum by Fox News and two right wing think tanks. This is the fringe.

"...you assume, like Yoggoth, that this is a conservative movement."

Oh come on, now you're being silly. It was organized and attended almost exclusively by movement conservatives.

"This "you" that you say is being used to describe our "big evil government somewhere far away" is the same "you" that was being used by liberals to describe the Bush administration."

I think this statement admits that the tea parties were pointless whining by comparing them to pointless whining done by liberals. Correct me if I'm wrong. I, personally, had many disagreements with the Bush administration over specific policies and practices. Not that they asked, but I did have them.

"Don't get me wrong, their job isn't easy by any means, but neither is a police officer's riding in a squad car in Oakland for $40k a year."

If you factor in the retirement at 55 with full wages and medical care, 40k doesn't sound so bad. Personally, I would raise taxes on those making over $500,000 a year and increase the capital gains tax rate. I'd use part of this money to give law enforcement and school teachers a raise.

"...public schools are funded quite a bit from local property taxes. Nicer neighborhoods equal better funded schools. There's a reason why schools in Compton aren't as nice as schools in Marin County.

I agree this is a huge problem. I would immediately repeal California's Prop 13 which subsidizes property taxes for some and distorts the real estate market in California. The resulting tax revenues should go to disadvantaged schools. The level of inequality in our educational system is a travesty. Many people are never given the tools they need to function in an a complex democracy such as our own and thus fail to become responsible citizens.

Concerning socialism -

Following the New Deal, during which government spending saved many left destitute by the Great Depression, the United States enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity. Income inequality fell sharply after the excesses of the 1920s. The top income tax rate peaked at over 90%. The New Deal brought infrastructure modernization to vast swathes of the nation. Huge progress was made regarding racial and gender equality. Liberal judges reflected these changes in their decisions, greatly expanding recognized Constitutional protections for individual civil liberties.

Then came Reagan. The Republican party rode a white male backlash against minorities and women to power. Income inequality began to increase - a trend that would continue under Bush I, Clinton (although not as steeply), and Bush II. Taxes for the rich were cut again and again. At the same time wage gains for the middle and lower classes slowed then stopped altogether. Greed was promoted as a civic virtue.

For their last act, conservatives eviscerated financial regulation with the help of pro-business Democrats. Rules that had been put in place to prevent the recurrence of the banking failures that greatly exacerbated the Great Depression were repealed. A bloated bureaucratic financial oligopoly formed and institutions leveraged themselves obscenely without even a hint of good-faith oversight. Fraudulent insurance contracts were written for the express purpose of fooling the public. In short, the free market failed, and it failed hard.

Little Earl didn't mention the most socialistic government programs - Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. You have to deal with these programs to make a dent in government spending. However, old people support them in overwhelming numbers so its very difficult to make any changes. George Bush greatly expanded government entitlements by signing the prescription drug benefit expansion to Medicare. None of these current protesters took to the streets back then. Why? Because they are ignorant, selfish, partisan fakers.

The apex of socialism is Scandinavia, a region with wonderful quality of living statistics. The apex of "no taxes, no government" conservatism is Somalia. You can see how that's turning out. Then again, piracy can be a reasonable response to free market realities...

P.S. What do you guys have against the postal service? I've never had any problems sending letters or packages and mail persons are always very nice to me.


ninquelote said...

Too many points to argue about here in a comment, but I might feel a little bit more sympathetic to your cause, Yoggoth, if you gave me some personal examples about why your way is better.

And whether you will be running for president in 2012.

Herr Zrbo said...

Yoggoth/Newsom '12!!!

ninquelote said...

I'll only throw my support that way if I can be Sec of State.

yoggoth said...

Personal examples? I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for but I'll give it a shot.

I was born in a public hospital. I was educated at a public elementary school, a public junior high school, and a public high school. I was then educated at a public university.

The county government employs my father and my mother is a public school teacher.

The government entities I have had contact with have not seemed any worse than private companies. It takes more time to return something to Best Buy than it does to visit the DMV in my experience.

ninquelote said...

I was looking for something more specific like this:

Concerning your Prop 13 idea, if you had things your way, my grandmother wouldn't be able to afford her house any longer and would either have to sell or take on borders. When she built her house back in the early 70s she lived out in the middle of nowhere. Since then, as you know, the area around her house has become a much more prestigious location surrounded by obscenely large McMansions and thus her property taxes would actually have increased almost tenfold if not for prop 13. Her meager Social Security check would barely cover her property tax, remaining mortgage payment, and her utilities, and she would not be able to live a very comfortable life as a result. I think many of our elderly would be in the same situation.

That's a situation that personally affects me. Now I appreciate your Utopian idea of how the world should be, but obviously not everyone is going to agree with that ideal, they are going to want what helps and is useful for them personally.

yoggoth said...

Ninquelote - Your grandma is extremely nice and I'd never wish her any harm, but why should other people pay higher property taxes to allow her to afford her house? Isn't this the wealth redistribution that the tax parties were complaining about? Why should businesses pay much lower sales taxes than new home owners? Why should sales taxes be increased to subsidize long term home owners?

yoggoth said...

Okay more specifics -

My grandma, like your grandma, receives social security, a "socialist" program. My grandparents were covered by Medicare. I feel comforted by the idea that one day, if I am sick and old, the government won't just let me die in the street.

My grandfather's medical degree was funded by the federal government when he joined the army. He attended public schools and universities, just as my father did.

Without federal spending I wouldn't be where I am today.

Sarah said...

In the US lately socialism has been treated like the eighth word you can't say in public. I've been in Canada for two years and it's not at all what I expected. Yes, our taxes are high. But the health care is great. It's wonderful to be able to see a doctor with no notice and be treated for free. I don't want to wait to be 60 or disabled and on Medicaid before I can have affordable health care.

I also attended an underfunded "academic emergency" high school in the states. It was paid for by property taxes and I lived in one of the poorest areas of the country. Guess what? I got a shit education.

I think a parallel could be drawn between the grandmas who own houses and the kids who need to be educated. I deserved a better school and better teachers, but there are people like ninquelote who have personal and valid reasons for not wanting money to be diverted from those on the other side of the coin. Making these types of radical overhauls in national spending is always going to piss off people who have a little more money and a little more power. That's largely why they don't get done.

No disrespect to your grandma intended of course.

ninquelote said...

Sarah, you are also someone, like me, who had a specific, personal experience that shaped your opinion of things, and I'm sure I could come up with personal experiences that would argue the opposite of your experiences. That's what's so hard about creating policies in a democratic society.

My family doctor use to live in Canada and has many family members who still live there. He requires them to keep insurance in the States to treat anything more serious than a hairline fracture. Don't you see that your not seeing a doctor for free. Your paying for it with your tax money. The only difference between having insurance and not having insurance in America is how long you have to wait to be seen.

As for education, I went to a very underfunded, backwoods jr. high and high school and got a fairly good education because I wanted to learn and my parents instilled the importance of education in to me. The information was there and most teachers are actually decent if you want to listen to what they want to teach.

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