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Sunday, March 31, 2013

OTP: April 2013: Daily Caller: Baseball and the GOP: To rebrand the party, think like a sports fan

This week’s GOP autopsy report, commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, is a great start in the much-needed task of rebranding the Republican Party. As the chairman acknowledged, “the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough” and “we have to be more inclusive.” The report contains 219 recommendations to “connect people to our principles.” To achieve that goal, the party will need a strategic vision of how voters think about politics, which is something that the report lacks. For that, the GOP can learn a lot from another American passion: baseball.

This year, about 75 million Americans will go to the baseball stadium to watch a ballgame, about the same number as those who will vote in next year’s election. We rarely think about why someone becomes a baseball fan, or why they root for a certain team. Nor do we usually think about why someone chooses to vote for a certain political party. But it’s actually a very useful exercise.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty has almost nothing to do with the brain, and almost everything to do with the heart. In all of history, there’s never been a baseball fan who rooted for his team because it had the lowest ticket prices, or because it had the most taxpayer-friendly stadium deal, or because its players did the most community service. For the vast majority of Americans, rooting for a baseball team — not to mention, voting for a political party — isn’t really a rational choice; it’s more of a statement of personal identity — a statement telling the world, “This is who I am.” And for most people, defining “who I am” starts with family and community, before branching out into areas like race, age, gender, and class.

Family is pretty straightforward. If your mom and dad are Yankee fans, you’re almost certainly a Yankee fan. The same is true in politics. If your mom and dad are Republicans, you’re almost certainly a Republican.

Community is also pretty straightforward. If you grew up in, say, Philadelphia, chances are pretty great you’re a Phillies fan. Likewise, someone who grew up in Republican territory like, say, suburban Dallas or rural Indiana is much more likely to become a Republican than a nearly identical person from Seattle or Santa Fe.

Cities with more than one baseball team, like New York or Chicago, show revealing breakdowns by race and gender. The racial split in Chicago between Cubs fans on the North Side and White Sox fans on the South Side is well-documented. In New York, there’s an intriguing gender gap between Mets and Yankee fans, with women gravitating a lot more to the Yanks. While there’s a few theories out there trying to explain that, one obvious answer leaps out: Yankees heartthrob Derek Jeter.

In sports, as in politics, people’s convictions can’t be conveniently reduced to who their parents are or what they look like. But those things are an important foundation, upon which more rational sentiments come into being. Once you’re attached to your team on an emotional level — seeing them as a personal reflection of who you are and what you care about most — a rational exterior comes into being through phrases like “the Red Sox are the best team because they have the most heart” or “the Republicans are the best party because they know how to create jobs.”

Tripon Posted: March 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM | 6544 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: politics

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   6201. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4428571)
The fundamental problem is one hell of a needle to thread, so yeah.

But isn't the fundamental problem, in this discussion, that multi-billion-dollar estates are being passed from generation to generation and creating a permanent aristocracy class? If so, then your proposal to increase income tax rates to 50 percent of anything over $1M and 80 percent of anything over $5M, while also exempting the first $10M to $20M of each estate and taxing the remainder at only 50 percent, does little or nothing to reverse the problem being discussed. The horse is not only out of the barn, it's galloped two counties away.

With a 50 percent estate tax, it would take at least four or five generations before even a dent was put in the political power of the multi-billion-dollar Buffett, Soros, Walton, et al., families, and dozens if not hundreds of other families that start with nine-figure estates.

I'm worried about the incentives for the people who work really hard at their profession, or build a small business, and invest wisely, so they can leave $5-10M to their children, and grandchildren.

Who are all these people who are going to work just so they can leave $5M or $10M to their kids? I'm sure NYC is full of them, but I doubt the rest of the country is. A person who inherits $5M in Texas (or just about anywhere else) can buy a huge McMansion for $500,000, blow another $500,000, and still have $4M left over.

I don't see why we should be trying to undermine that. Those people aren't the problem.

They're not? Harvard, Yale, and Princeton alone have over 40,000 students. These are the kids who become the C-suite execs for whom you have little regard, and their parents aren't all worth nine figures. If breaking up the aristocracy is your goal, then allowing heirs to inherit $5M or $10M tax-free is at cross purposes with that goal.
   6202. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 29, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4428574)
Reposting (with minor changes):

This seems like much more of a middle-class striver's mentality than that of the risk-takers and high achievers. To continue using Steve Jobs as an example, I highly doubt he was motivated by the thought of allowing his kids to be lazy and unproductive. I'm sure he wanted them fed and clothed and sheltered, but I doubt he was trying to ensure they'd never have to work a single day in their lives and contribute nothing to humanity other than spending the money their father earned.

No, but he probably wanted them to be able to go out and start their own companies without having to spend a decade or more acquiring the capital to do so. Or to try to become writers/artists/olympic athletes without the risk of going hungry.
   6203. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 29, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4428575)
Will you tax all salaries of $50 mil at confiscatory rates, or just based on the relationship between employee and employer?

Basically all. For public companies, explicitly (though the baseline would be far lower than $50M, probably more like $2M). In the rare occasions in which a rich guy paid it to his heir as a "salary," I'd reclassify it as a gift.

I'd exempt the pure talent professions like athletics and the movies, but I'd probably adjust the scale for athletes down because of the public subsidies that wind up going into their pockets.

The overarching principle is that the money be truly earned. CEO salaries are anything but that, and you get far closer to the ideal in the talent professions and with founding entrepreneurs.
   6204. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 29, 2013 at 05:56 PM (#4428577)
Who are all these people who are going to work just so they can leave $5M or $10M to their kids?

It's not just about working, it's about *not spending* everything you earn. Do we want people to save $5-10 million, or do we want people to save $1 million and then spend the rest of it on houses/cars/boats/jewelry, etc. The latter is great from a short-term, consumer culture standpoint, but it's terrible from the standpoint of investing in and generating economic growth.
   6205. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4428578)
No, but he probably wanted them to be able to go out and start their own companies, or to try to become writers/artists/olympic athletes without going hungry.

As I recall, Steve Jobs started Apple with less than $50,000. A person should be able to pursue any or all of the above on $1M or $2M.

EDIT: Replying to your edited version ...
No, but he probably wanted them to be able to go out and start their own companies without having to spend a decade or more acquiring the capital to do so. Or to try to become writers/artists/olympic athletes without the risk of going hungry.

As I said above, a person should be able to start a company on the $1M or $2M being discussed. The "start their own companies without having to spend a decade or more acquiring the capital to do so" part is an explicit endorsement of an aristocracy class, or something very close thereto.
   6206. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4428587)
Oh, and I'd definitely slap the confiscatory tax on coaches at public and federally-funded universities. Their salaries are an outrage on several levels.

My baseline there would probably be around 1983 (again adjusted for inflation), the eve of the absurd Supreme Court antitrust case overturning the NCAA's regulation of television and television appearances by member schools -- the case that marked the beginning of the end of college sports as we knew them and as they should be. (The end of the end is coming soon in the O'Bannon verdict/settlement.)
   6207. zenbitz Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4428600)
If you can ever come up with a definition of "conservative" that all self-defined "conservatives" would (a) agree upon, and (b) agree to apply consistently over the top 10 hot button issues, I'd love to hear it.


When you're done, you can move on to "Liberal" and "Left/Right (Political)".
   6208. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4428610)
   6209. zenbitz Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4428614)
Rent-seeking based on personal connections or membership in a connected class (HYP graduates) is the new normal.


When was this actually *not* normal?
   6210. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4428616)
The real news is that a senior NK official threatened the US with a kamikaze nuclear bomb drop, and that they were "one click away from pushing the launch button."

   6211. zenbitz Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4428618)
If only there were something other than tanks those federally funded machining lines could be manufacturing instead...


GOOODAMN this new ipad7 is heavy. But's it's bulletproof.
   6212. zenbitz Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:49 PM (#4428622)

Number of aircraft carriers, in service, USA: 10
Number of aircraft carriers, in service, rest of world: 10

source

Ours are at least 10 years more advanced as well.
   6213. Lassus Posted: April 29, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4428626)
The real news is that a senior NK official threatened the US with a kamikaze nuclear bomb drop, and that they were "one click away from pushing the launch button."

Unless they are taking off from the Hamptons and aiming for Citifield, I have a hard time imagining that's going to work; but I'll let our resident military experts set me straight otherwise.
   6214. zenbitz Posted: April 29, 2013 at 07:02 PM (#4428638)
Criminal conspiracy in the U.S. requires an overt act in furtherance of the plan. Talk is not enough, and so investigators often construct scenarios, such as providing a fake bomb, in which a suspect can incriminate himself with no risk to the public.


I am sooooo OK with this!
   6215. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 29, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4428697)
* ...and far better diagnostics over the last 30 years could easily account for the doubling of people on disability, but the writer and the publication simply isn't honest enough to go there.
What exactly does this mean? Better diagnostics means ease in coming up with a rationale for claiming disability, but should also mean that less people are "genuinely" disabled (as it makes coming up with effective treatment easier and does not lead to many more people where it would be suddenly determined that they should not be working).


Well, note I wrote 'could easily', not 'does', and that wasn't a weasel. It was because this author has an obligation to do the research necessary to answering his own point. The research and writing (he doesn't even know what disability program he's talking about, conflates numbers, and errs on basic definitions) is incredibly shoddy.

I'm no expert on disability but in thirty seconds I saw enough gross error (which I noted) to be able to call for the article to be retracted in its entirety.

As for your point on treatment, its been my long if informal experience that the treatment of injuries resulting in disability are way, way behind diagnoses. But--you have a solid point. It's clearly something (better diagnoses/better treatment) we need to know more about.

This returns me to one of my main points, which is that the debate is pointless without some sense of what the true number is (or best estimate), of people too disabled to work. It's entirely possible that the system in place for decades turned away millions of people too injured to work without chronic and terrible pain, and we're only now getting it right. The debate truly is meaningless without some sense of what the numbers should be.



* If you accept the MJ estimate of 10-18% increase being caused by changes in the ecnomic environment, etc... - that's still a lot. One of the MJ comments said:

In other words, we're trying to shoehorn a program to deal with economic obsolescence into a program designed to deal with physical disability. I strongly doubt such a practice is anywhere near an optimal way to go about it.

And that's one of the things I left thinking. This program does not sound like one that's particularly well designed, in terms of incentivizing beneficial behaviors/change... that's a problem.


It may be a problem, but as I've said the real problem may well be we're only now catching up with the true number of disabled.

Allow me an anecdote. I knew a lot of guys who did concrete work and roofing. Most of them drank or were on opiates because the work just kills you. You literally can't do it unless you can go home and drink or drug enough to get some relief.

A more expansive disability program gets more of these guys out of lives of terrible, recurring pain, long term chronic injury, and addiction and alcoholism. One thing an expansive (or simply a just) disability program does is let these guys 'retire' early. We stole their pensions and busted their unions. It's the least we can do. Think of it as social security that kicks in after we've used up and broken their bodies at seventeen bucks an hour.


   6216. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 29, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4428786)
I'm slightly tipsy in DC. Epstein isn't around to entertain me. Who may I offend tonight?!
   6217. Jay Z Posted: April 29, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4428816)
It's not just about working, it's about *not spending* everything you earn. Do we want people to save $5-10 million, or do we want people to save $1 million and then spend the rest of it on houses/cars/boats/jewelry, etc. The latter is great from a short-term, consumer culture standpoint, but it's terrible from the standpoint of investing in and generating economic growth.


If we needed more investment income, would interest rates on deposits be at zero? Would corporations be swimming in cash? It's not 1978 anymore.
   6218. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 29, 2013 at 09:28 PM (#4428834)
If you can ever come up with a definition of "conservative" that all self-defined "conservatives" would (a) agree upon, and (b) agree to apply consistently over the top 10 hot button issues, I'd love to hear it.

When you're done, you can move on to "Liberal" and "Left/Right (Political)".


What, you think I'd disagree with that? Self-described "liberals" are often every bit as divided among themselves over fundamental issues as "conservatives" are. Or perhaps people have forgotten what the Democrats went through during the McGovern era, when they were at each others' throats every bit as much or more as the Tea Party is stalking errant RINOs today. Memories may be short, but the venom directed by "liberals" against Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey was easily the equal of the language many of them directed against Ronald Reagan and G.W. Bush.

And Jesus, if this last page or two hasn't seen one of the weirdest series of exchanges yet, with an exhibition of contempt for CEOs that if liberals had offered them would be cited as examples of "class envy", "class warfare", or "class hatred". Thinking that CEOs should be heavily taxed in order to pay for needed public programs is one thing, but demonizing them simply for their pay alone is something else altogether. But I guess this is what passes for the right wing version of "populism" these days, which is another word that richly deserves scare quotes whenever it rears its confused head.
   6219. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 29, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4428858)
Thinking that CEOs should be heavily taxed in order to pay for needed public programs is one thing, but demonizing them simply for their pay alone is something else altogether.

Not for their pay, for how they got their pay. No one is demonizing employees who get paid $10M or $20M.

There's no reason at all a CEO's pay should have gone up by an order of magnitude (and much faster than other executive pay) over the last generation except for a failure of corporate governance, and corporate ethics.
   6220. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 29, 2013 at 10:05 PM (#4428886)
Tsarnaev family received $100G in government benefits.
   6221. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM (#4428895)
Thinking that CEOs should be heavily taxed in order to pay for needed public programs is one thing, but demonizing them simply for their pay alone is something else altogether.

Not for their pay, for how they got their pay. No one is demonizing employees who get paid $10M or $20M.

There's no reason at all a CEO's pay should have gone up by an order of magnitude (and much faster than other executive pay) over the last generation except for a failure of corporate governance, and corporate ethics.


I dunno, I guess that on a list of things that might bother me about most CEOs, their salaries would be down near the bottom. I'd much rather give some of them the electric chair than a mere salary cut.

   6222. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:16 AM (#4429023)
And that's one of the things I left thinking. This program does not sound like one that's particularly well designed, in terms of incentivizing beneficial behaviors/change... that's a problem.

* The section on kids was heartbreaking (Jahleel was a really exuberant voice) - and is independent of the baby boomers.
* I have no desire to ever live in Greensboro Alabama (where the story is set and kind of a worst case scenario).

* More than anything, I liked that this was a subject of discussion - it's a relatively large percentage of the economym relative to how much people talk about it - which is to say that we don't. This is a forgotten population...


I agree it's an issue that should be getting a lot more discussion, but I have yet to see an article that is remotely impartial, or even gets the facts correct.

* People who are genuinely disabled haven't signed up for a 'deal', they've signed up for the pittance they can get so they don't freeze to death in winter.

You also have to account for the fact that many of the non-legitimately disabled claimants probably work off the books as well as collecting SSDI.


Yes. We know that because you know three people who do this, you get to once again pull "many" out of your ass. Wouldn't it make some sense, if you're going to have a strong opinion, for you to actually look up some facts? Just for a change of pace, if nothing else?

There was nothing actionable in the first communication from Russia and the CIA's request was basically the same. And the lack of an answer from Russia to the follow-up suggests to me that they didn't exactly see him as a major problem either.

The problem with the first sentence: Russia's communication called for us to investigate and follow him. Russia's communication was specific enough to do that. And that was the "action" needed.

The problem with the second sentence: It is inherently contradictory. They saw him as enough of a problem to flag him for us. Who cares that they didn't answer our follow-up?


I find it entirely odd you think we should investigate someone 'because Russia said so'. As for 'specifc enough', how do you know this? Are you privy to the file?
   6223. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:30 AM (#4429058)
CEO pay: that they are overpaid as a class is hardly new news, for reasons already given (board capture and signaling among them). That said, while I'm not keen on this, it's small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and not anything government should be involved in.

Disability and diagnoses (predates 6222): my point was about direction - you'd think that improvements would allow more treatments to be treated effectively than the number of new threats, where they could work if only they didn't know that they had a problem.
As to the number of "truly disabled", that's the rub, isn't it? No one has that, at least not in a form everyone would agree on.
What I thought was most worthy about this piece is that they/she talked about it at all.
Side note: my brother works construction - your anecdote rings true. Also my mom is disabled, though I don't think she collects benefits - I'm not sure. She hadn't worked in years in any event.
As for your last paragraph, that's much of the tone of the piece - something that I imagine many would take umbrage with.
Personally, I harp on incentives all the time and that these programs punish desirable behaviors (like finding work) is deeply troubling. Then again, that sentiment ties in with other discussions we have about the US's relatively weak social net.
EDIT: what you call incorrect facts, I saw as insufficiently spelled out context. I also think you're reading her biases differently than I am.
As for off the books work, sure - it's more likely with this pop, as is generally true with the poor, particularly given the incentive to not report due to benefits. Wouldn't hazard a guess as to numbers, though.

Kind of amazed at the super high tax rates pitched up thread. Sounds like a recipe for outflows, though I'm on board with higher rates for that pop than we have now.
   6224. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:18 AM (#4429114)
Your fundamental mistake is thinking that we can pick and choose the wars we want. In 1989, no one thought we'd ever be fighting a war in the Persian Gulf. In 2010, no one thought we'd ever have troops in Afghanistan.


Never mind that these last two claims are preposterously, demonstrably false (small wonder you almost never link to anything--a bubble that fragile requires careful tending), your first point is simply silly. The US should not have 'picked and chosen' most of the wars it got involved in over the last 67 years, and exactly one of those, 60 years ago, required a tank force even approaching what you're suggesting.

If you can't cut the Abrams, there's literally no military expenditure you can't justify. And the Abrams is precisely where you cut if you even want to BEGIN to reduce defense spending. It's nowhere close to a borderline call.

$1M will generate an annual income of maybe $30-40,000 if you invested in a fixed annuity and weren't too young. Some Carnival.


In many senses, though, it is. Having created something like this for myself, the freedom is marvelous. The guarantee of not wanting, under any circumstances, changes everything.

$1M will generate an annual income of maybe $30-40,000 if you invested in a fixed annuity and weren't too young. Some Carnival.

An annual income of $35,000 would give you a greater annual income than 61% of working Americans over the age of 15. Without working a minute.


Yup. Key. You can work part time, if you want, and use all that money to travel. You can work not at all and try your hand at a novel. You can pursue any art form you like. You can make a movie every single year of your life, with no distractions. It's not something you have to squeeze in while working 49 hours a week (the average US work week; we're complete suckers) plus commuting. Heck, if you're willing to work at being prudent, unlike pretty much everyone else you can go ahead and have a family without worrying about going under, or your kids going hungry, or getting limited attention from you because you're never home.

And I completely disagree with this as well. Like everything else, when you get out on the edges of the normal distribution the gap between "best" and "second best" is generally very large. I come to a different conclusion than snapper; it's not that smart people are fungible, its that there aren't enough potentially competant CEOs to fill all the CEO positions available - because we impose artificial requirements on CEOs that they have certain credentials and social graces and language skills, and the pool of western, well-educated (read: properly credentialed), good-looking folks who are willing to travel 40 hours a week and skilled enough to be a competent CEO is tiny tiny tiny
.

God, yes. Finding anyone, in any field, who is solidly competent is almost impossible. Not saying we shouldn't have a maximum wage, but it's a damnably difficult job to do competently, never mind well.

   6225. zonk Posted: April 30, 2013 at 08:57 AM (#4429210)

Number of aircraft carriers, in service, USA: 10
Number of aircraft carriers, in service, rest of world: 10

source

Ours are at least 10 years more advanced as well.


Only three of those 10 "rest of the world" are really true fleet carriers -- most of the rest are either woefully ancient prestige pieces (Brazil's Sao Paulo, a 50 year old former French Clemenceau) or much smaller STOVL carriers that only run about 20-25k tons (the US carrier fleet is all 100k+ ton behemoths).

France's Charles De Gaulle is the only non-US nuclear carrier in the world - and France is about to take it out of service for a 'refit' (read: because operating a carrier is very, very expensive). The Soviets sole carrier in service doesn't sortie much - again, because operating a carrier is pricey - and it's half the size of any of the American carriers. The only other true carrier is Chinese -- they purchased the unfinished sister of the Soviet's Admiral Kuznetsov and the rechristened her the Liaoning... she was just commissioned last year - and to great fanfare, the Chinese just had their first successful underway landings less than 6 months ago.

Any one of the 10 US carriers has more than twice the aircraft complement of any other two carriers combined (any 3+ of the STOVLs).

In short, the USN could fairly easily mop the ocean with the rest of the planet's navies combined... the idea that we should be concerned because we can't pump out a few 6-7 billion dollar carriers on whim is silly.
   6226. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4429217)
Only three of those 10 "rest of the world" are really true fleet carriers -- most of the rest are either woefully ancient prestige pieces (Brazil's Sao Paulo, a 50 year old former French Clemenceau) or much smaller STOVL carriers that only run about 20-25k tons (the US carrier fleet is all 100k+ ton behemoths).

France's Charles De Gaulle is the only non-US nuclear carrier in the world - and France is about to take it out of service for a 'refit' (read: because operating a carrier is very, very expensive). The Soviets sole carrier in service doesn't sortie much - again, because operating a carrier is pricey - and it's half the size of any of the American carriers. The only other true carrier is Chinese -- they purchased the unfinished sister of the Soviet's Admiral Kuznetsov and the rechristened her the Liaoning... she was just commissioned last year - and to great fanfare, the Chinese just had their first successful underway landings less than 6 months ago.

Any one of the 10 US carriers has more than twice the aircraft complement of any other two carriers combined (any 3+ of the STOVLs).

In short, the USN could fairly easily mop the ocean with the rest of the planet's navies combined... the idea that we should be concerned because we can't pump out a few 6-7 billion dollar carriers on whim is silly.


You fundamentally misunderstand the role of our Navy. The US is the only nation in the world with the need to project power over vast distances, and in areas where friendly bases may not be available. Our carriers aren't there to fight other nations' navies, they are there to fight other nations' land based air forces, and to provide air support to our ground troops.

Now, if you want to go isolationist and stop projecting power, fine. Wouldn't bother me much. But, if we're going to remain highly interventionist, 10 carriers is a bare minimum. Remember, 10 carriers in service means ~7 deployable at any time, and we have multiple oceans to cover.

The bloat in our Defense budget is administration and bureaucracy, and endless wars to no purpose, not weapons systems and front line troops.
   6227. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:14 AM (#4429222)
Never mind that these last two claims are preposterously, demonstrably false (small wonder you almost never link to anything--a bubble that fragile requires careful tending), your first point is simply silly. The US should not have 'picked and chosen' most of the wars it got involved in over the last 67 years, and exactly one of those, 60 years ago, required a tank force even approaching what you're suggesting.

If you can't cut the Abrams, there's literally no military expenditure you can't justify. And the Abrams is precisely where you cut if you even want to BEGIN to reduce defense spending. It's nowhere close to a borderline call.


Everyone was shocked by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the very concept of invading and occupying Afghanistan is so moronic, any general who considered it should have been forced into retirement. The fact that we did it is testament to the gross incompetence of Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney in waging war.

The Abrams is a rounding error. A cheap safety net.
   6228. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4429226)
As someone who is on the other end of the "what happens when you have enough money" experience. . .


It wasn't until I was a junior or senior in college that I got The Talk. But the talk coming from my Dad wasn't "You don't have to really work, so, whatevs", it was "As long as you work hard and become excellent at whatever you do, you wont have to worry about money. If I catch you being lazy, I will cut your ass off so fast you wont know what hit you." And he meant it, too.

I think that part of the problem - and something that the confiscatory estate taxes helps artifically recreate, but not in their entirety - is a sense of duty and responsibility among the upper class. Say what you will about the WASPs, but they did have a sense of being stewards of the country and, even more so, a sense that their privilege obligated them to better everyone else's lives. Even the robber barons, who were once exploitative and anti-democratic, ultimately gave away huge proportions of their fortunes for the betterment of others - Andrew Carnegie probably was influential in making this so - and the contrast between the things done by private citizens for the betterment of the public in the US in the 19th / early 20th century as contrasted with, say, Argentina, a land of similar wealth and inequality, is staggering. Always, there was a sense that if you had privilege, or merit, or luck, that you had an obligation to the country to give not just SOMETHING back, not a charitable token, but to serve your country no matter what you were doing. Yes, you extracted rent for your benefit and your kids' benefit, but in a sense you were just a trustee for your talent, which was used in the service of a greater good.

In my mind, that's lost now. So many of my friends from growing up have a fundamentally antagonistic relationship between themselves and the Country. It's odd, they may be politically progressive, but that progressiveness is very narrow. They perceive their interests as at loggerheads with everyone else's; they view themselves as trying to schnur as much as they can while they can do so. I know numerous ultra-talented people who don't just not become lawyers or doctors or Captains of Industry, they just don't work hard at all. It is as if becoming a productive member of society - be it in the arts, sciences, professions, business - has been devalued. Now people talk about being "happy" and "being there for their kids". I'm sorry, what? Someone who's 99% in brains or 99% in family wealth wants to work 40 hours a week and hang out? Where is the sense of obligation to others, to not squander the opportunity genetics, luck, and this country gave you. Where is the sense that you're working not for yourself, but for everyone, and not just in a "all-my-money-goes-to-the-government-till-May" kind of way?

I don't think that this has anything to do with the rise of the modern state, or of progressive taxation. I think its entirely cultural. As the country, and particularly the upper class, has become more heterogeneous (to my benefit, as a Jew), I think the sense among upper class that that they were fidcuiaries for the country as a whole has been eroded away. But more broadly, I think the late 20th century (and early 21st century) view that life is fundamentally hedonistic is wrong, totally ####### wrong, and has this bizarre side effect of creating an upper class that seek to aggrandize itself and extract as much rent for as little productive effort as possible. And this is OK, because its the logical consequence of working to make yourelf "happy". If you're privileged, you don't get to just be happy. You got stuck with the assets to do something, so you don't get to screw around for 30 years and "spend time with your kids", or whatever. On the plus side, you're not a pawn, and your life may, if you're lucky, have some sort of broader meaning.

Now, I'm ####### biased, because of how hard I've chosen to work, and because of a quixotic determination to prove the rags-to-riches-to-rags wrong, at least in THIS case. But I still think that a little protestant ethos would go a lot farther than just turning the dial up on the tax-LOOPHOLE-tax-LOOPHOLE game. You want to force consumption, fine, but making Johnny Richdaddy buy Prada instead of real estate isn't going to move the needle on the fundamental problem.
   6229. bunyon Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4429231)
You know, the more I look at the data presented here, the more I think we should just conquer the ####### world.

Make the world America. You know you want to.
   6230. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4429238)
As someone who is on the other end of the "what happens when you have enough money" experience. . .


It wasn't until I was a junior or senior in college that I got The Talk. But the talk coming from my Dad wasn't "You don't have to really work, so, whatevs", it was "As long as you work hard and become excellent at whatever you do, you wont have to worry about money. If I catch you being lazy, I will cut your ass off so fast you wont know what hit you." And he meant it, too.

I think that part of the problem - and something that the confiscatory estate taxes helps artifically recreate, but not in their entirety - is a sense of duty and responsibility among the upper class. Say what you will about the WASPs, but they did have a sense of being stewards of the country and, even more so, a sense that their privilege obligated them to better everyone else's lives. Even the robber barons, who were once exploitative and anti-democratic, ultimately gave away huge proportions of their fortunes for the betterment of others - Andrew Carnegie probably was influential in making this so - and the contrast between the things done by private citizens for the betterment of the public in the US in the 19th / early 20th century as contrasted with, say, Argentina, a land of similar wealth and inequality, is staggering. Always, there was a sense that if you had privilege, or merit, or luck, that you had an obligation to the country to give not just SOMETHING back, not a charitable token, but to serve your country no matter what you were doing. Yes, you extracted rent for your benefit and your kids' benefit, but in a sense you were just a trustee for your talent, which was used in the service of a greater good.

In my mind, that's lost now. So many of my friends from growing up have a fundamentally antagonistic relationship between themselves and the Country. It's odd, they may be politically progressive, but that progressiveness is very narrow. They perceive their interests as at loggerheads with everyone else's; they view themselves as trying to schnur as much as they can while they can do so. I know numerous ultra-talented people who don't just not become lawyers or doctors or Captains of Industry, they just don't work hard at all. It is as if becoming a productive member of society - be it in the arts, sciences, professions, business - has been devalued. Now people talk about being "happy" and "being there for their kids". I'm sorry, what? Someone who's 99% in brains or 99% in family wealth wants to work 40 hours a week and hang out? Where is the sense of obligation to others, to not squander the opportunity genetics, luck, and this country gave you. Where is the sense that you're working not for yourself, but for everyone, and not just in a "all-my-money-goes-to-the-government-till-May" kind of way?

I don't think that this has anything to do with the rise of the modern state, or of progressive taxation. I think its entirely cultural. As the country, and particularly the upper class, has become more heterogeneous (to my benefit, as a Jew), I think the sense among upper class that that they were fidcuiaries for the country as a whole has been eroded away. But more broadly, I think the late 20th century (and early 21st century) view that life is fundamentally hedonistic is wrong, totally ####### wrong, and has this bizarre side effect of creating an upper class that seek to aggrandize itself and extract as much rent for as little productive effort as possible. And this is OK, because its the logical consequence of working to make yourelf "happy". If you're privileged, you don't get to just be happy. You got stuck with the assets to do something, so you don't get to screw around for 30 years and "spend time with your kids", or whatever. On the plus side, you're not a pawn, and your life may, if you're lucky, have some sort of broader meaning.

Now, I'm ####### biased, because of how hard I've chosen to work, and because of a quixotic determination to prove the rags-to-riches-to-rags wrong, at least in THIS case. But I still think that a little protestant ethos would go a lot farther than just turning the dial up on the tax-LOOPHOLE-tax-LOOPHOLE game. You want to force consumption, fine, but making Johnny Richdaddy buy Prada instead of real estate isn't going to move the needle on the fundamental problem.


Excellent post. Lots of truth in there. Reminds me very much of the parable of the 3 servants and the 'talents'.
   6231. Ron J2 Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4429239)
#6176 First you're hanging a great deal on the current version of somebody who declined to press charges in the first place. What makes you think she'd have been more forthcoming to the FBI then?

Second, it doesn't look like he could have been deported unless:
a) she pressed charges and
b) he got at least a year's prison time -- if (as seems likely) he was convicted. (at least according to wiki a year's prison time is required to make a non-citizen eligible for deportation)

That said, if she'd decided to mentioned the "hates US" he'd have move up the TIDE priority list. (This assumes that her current version of his timeline matches reality. Color me at minimum doubtful. Tsarnaev was not exactly a subtle character and nobody else in his life noticed this until he got back from Russia -- at which point it was real noticeable)

Having thought about it, I'll bet that the FBI's internal culture places enormous emphasis on investigations that lead to prosecutions and there was nothing on the record that was of interest from that POV. One thing that's pretty clear is that the moment they get wind of "hates US" they start trying to arrange a sting of some type.


   6232. Ron J2 Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4429244)
# 6212 That's giving the same weight to a super carrier carrying a full air wing and something that can carry (maybe) a squadron. In terms of aircraft capacity the US is massively ahead of the rest of the world.

EDIT: Cokes for 6225
   6233. BDC Posted: April 30, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4429274)
Harvard, Yale, and Princeton alone have over 40,000 students. These are the kids who become the C-suite execs

Well, slightly over half those 40,000 are graduate students. Those are the middle-aged people who become professors at Tier Three southern universities :)

   6234. The Good Face Posted: April 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4429281)
Rent-seeking based on personal connections or membership in a connected class (HYP graduates) is the new normal.


When was this actually *not* normal?


Oh that sort of thing has always been a part of life pretty much everywhere, all the time. But as social and financial mobility decreases, trust in both public and private institutions plummets, and the traditional forms of unity that held a population together continue to fray (racial/ethnic uniformity, religion, nationalism, etc.), how we *feel* about that sort of thing changes. People have always grumbled about corruption and "those crooks in Washington/Rome/Alexandria/Ur," but if you get to a point where people believe that getting in bed with those crooks is the best, or even worse, the only game in town, your democracy is in trouble.
   6235. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4429291)

I think that part of the problem - and something that the confiscatory estate taxes helps artifically recreate, but not in their entirety - is a sense of duty and responsibility among the upper class.


Now people talk about being "happy" and "being there for their kids". I'm sorry, what? Someone who's 99% in brains or 99% in family wealth wants to work 40 hours a week and hang out? Where is the sense of obligation to others, to not squander the opportunity genetics, luck, and this country gave you. Where is the sense that you're working not for yourself, but for everyone, and not just in a "all-my-money-goes-to-the-government-till-May" kind of way?


You don't think these two developments are connected? When the wealthy and powerful don't give a #### about anyone else, or the country as a whole, except insofar as it directly profits them, why should those lower down the economic spectrum? When everyone's on the make, anyone who isn't looking out for #1 gets branded as a sucker.
   6236. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 30, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4429302)
Number of aircraft carriers, in service, USA: 10
Number of aircraft carriers, in service, rest of world: 10

source

Ours are at least 10 years more advanced as well.


Only three of those 10 "rest of the world" are really true fleet carriers -


This underestimates our Carrier advantage significantly.

1: Most of the world's (non-US) "carriers" carry VTOL/STOL aircraft (jump Jets and Helicopters)- we have a bunch of those too, only we don't call them Aircraft Carriers, we call ours Amphibious Assault Ships (LHDs)-
we have:

10 full deck, catapult carriers
8 Wasp class LHDs(831 ft, 40,000 tons) usual complement 6 Harriers, 24 Helos, can carry 22 Ospreys or 20+ Harriers if need be
The Wasp class ships are larger and more capable than half the rest of the world's "carriers"-
1 Tarawa class LHD

The Spanish Carrier Juan Carlos I is 2/3 the size of one of our LHDs, so is Italy's Cavour, the Giuseppe Garibaldi is half the size.

Our LHD fleet is very nearly match for the rest of the world's carriers combined- before you even get to our "real" carriers.

Of course, for whatever reason, other countries are building "real" carriers now (UK, India, and China) but it will be many years before any are in real service. (the Brits are hoping the Queen Elizabeth will be ready by 2020

   6237. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4429444)
An annual income of $35,000 would give you a greater annual income than 61% of working Americans over the age of 15. Without working a minute.
[Citation needed]
   6238. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4429457)
An annual income of $35,000 would give you a greater annual income than 61% of working Americans over the age of 15. Without working a minute.

[Citation needed]


Link.
   6239. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4429465)
Oh that sort of thing has always been a part of life pretty much everywhere, all the time. But as social and financial mobility decreases, trust in both public and private institutions plummets, and the traditional forms of unity that held a population together continue to fray (racial/ethnic uniformity, religion, nationalism, etc.), how we *feel* about that sort of thing changes. People have always grumbled about corruption and "those crooks in Washington/Rome/Alexandria/Ur," but if you get to a point where people believe that getting in bed with those crooks is the best, or even worse, the only game in town, your democracy is in trouble.

And this is especially true for the US, b/c we have no ethnic, religious, or cultural ties that make us a "nation". Our nationhood is almost entirely defined by our governing system, so if people lose faith in that, they lose faith in the whole country.

In other words, France is in some real sense France, whether it has a King, Emperor, dictator or the 3rd, 4th or 5th Republic. The U.S., w/o the system enshrined by our Constitution, doesn't really exist.
   6240. zenbitz Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4429467)
Thanks for following up for me on the CV stuff. I knew all that but too lazy to reference.
   6241. Mefisto Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4429485)
And this is especially true for the US, b/c we have no ethnic, religious, or cultural ties that make us a "nation". Our nationhood is almost entirely defined by our governing system, so if people lose faith in that, they lose faith in the whole country.

In other words, France is in some real sense France, whether it has a King, Emperor, dictator or the 3rd, 4th or 5th Republic.


Eh, the concept of "nation" is pretty recent. "Germany" didn't exist as a nation until 1866 (or 1871, take your pick). "Italy" not until 1860 or so. There were geographic areas called "Italy" and "Germany", but not nations. "France" as we know it today is a construct of the 17th C; before that it was a collection of more or less independent fiefs (e.g., Burgundy) contested by the English. Speaking of England, "Britain" has only existed since 1707, and even today there's a good chance the Scots might leave.

I think the US does pretty well as a "nation".
   6242. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4429509)
There were geographic areas called "Italy" and "Germany", but not nations. "France" as we know it today is a construct of the 17th C; before that it was a collection of more or less independent fiefs (e.g., Burgundy) contested by the English.


As late as 1914 the majority of soldiers in the French army did not speak French.

In Italy, most soldiers in the Italian Army did not speak Italian even as late as the 1940s.
   6243. Ron J2 Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4429518)
#6242 At the start of WWI the Kaiser complained that the "German" army was nothing of the sort. That it was a collection of Hannovarians, Prussians, etc. (each with different uniforms)
   6244. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4429519)

The initial debate over the treatment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev focused on whether he should be advised of his Miranda rights or whether the "public safety exception" justified delaying it. In the wake of news reports that he had been Mirandized and would be charged in a federal court, I credited the Obama DOJ for handling the case reasonably well thus far. As it turns out, though, Tsarnaev wasn't Mirandized because the DOJ decided he should be. Instead, that happened only because a federal magistrate, on her own, scheduled a hospital-room hearing, interrupted the FBI's interrogation which had been proceeding at that point for a full 16 hours, and advised him of his right to remain silent and appointed him a lawyer. Since then, Tsarnaev ceased answering the FBI's questions.

But that controversy was merely about whether he would be advised of his Miranda rights. Now, the Los Angeles Times, almost in passing, reports something which, if true, would be a much more serious violation of core rights than delaying Miranda warnings - namely, that prior to the magistrate's visit to his hospital room, Tsarnaev had repeatedly asked for a lawyer, but the FBI simply ignored those requests, instead allowing the interagency High Value Detainee Interrogation Group to continue to interrogate him alone:

"Tsarnaev has not answered any questions since he was given a lawyer and told he has the right to remain silent by Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler on Monday, officials said.

"Until that point, Tsarnaev had been responding to the interagency High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, including admitting his role in the bombing, authorities said. A senior congressional aide said Tsarnaev had asked several times for a lawyer, but that request was ignored since he was being questioned under the public safety exemption to the Miranda rule."


Link
   6245. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4429538)
As late as 1914 the majority of soldiers in the French army did not speak French.

In Italy, most soldiers in the Italian Army did not speak Italian even as late as the 1940s.


Nonsense. You're treating mutually understandable dialects as if they were foreign languages.

The entire Italian peninsula has spoken Italian for 1000+ years, since they stopped speaking Latin. That they all didn't speak the Florentine dialect does not make it a separate language.
   6246. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4429542)

Nonsense. You're treating mutually understandable dialects as if they were foreign languages.


They were not mutually understandable. Italian and French officers, trained in the metropolitan language, were often completely incomprehensible to their men. I have lots of citations if you want. Even modern linguistic categorization sees Alsatian (a Germanic language), Breton (Celtic), Basque (non-affiliated) and Occitan (Romance) as separate languages, not dialects of French.

(I am reminded of Eddie Izzard's remark that "a language is a dialect with an army and a flag.")

I am also reminded of an anecdote I was told by one of my professors. Back in the 1950s, one of his friends, who got his PhD at the University of Missouri, got a teaching position at Harvard. He ended up being called into his dean's office, as there were numerous complaints from his students that they couldn't understand his Missouri accent.
   6247. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4429548)
1914 the majority of soldiers in the French army did not speak French.


Can you cite a reference for this. I have never heard it, and can find nothing with a brief google search.
   6248. BDC Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4429551)
What Maranville said. Even today, extended passages in Sicilian (for instance) must be translated for readers of Italian. The situation has changed since the world wars, in that educated Sicilians can now read and write and speak standard Italian, but the languages are quite different.
   6249. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4429554)
What Maranville said. Even today, extended passages in Sicilian (for instance) must be translated for readers of Italian. The situation has changed since the world wars, in that educated Sicilians can now read and write and speak standard Italian, but the languages are quite different.

Since my Italian father-in-law used to converse with his Spanish speaking workers, and they both understood each other, I think you exaggerate.

If we talking about philosophical discourses, sure. But for simple commands, the dialects are not that different.
   6250. GregD Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4429567)
Since my Italian father-in-law used to converse with his Spanish speaking workers, and they both understood each other, I think you exaggerate.
This might be the key to the mutual misunderstanding here, right? A certain level of conversation is possible among people who speak Romance languages. At the same time, a certain level of precision is only possible within smaller in-group dialects or languages. It turned out that of the many, many dialects/potential languages in 18th to 19th century Europe, a few got called national languages and over the 20th century became more comprehensible more widely within their borders, but the distinctions between various Italian or German dialects could be as powerful as the distinctions between modern Italian and Spanish or between Spanish and Portuguese.
   6251. Lassus Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4429571)
What Maranville said. Even today, extended passages in Sicilian (for instance) must be translated for readers of Italian. The situation has changed since the world wars, in that educated Sicilians can now read and write and speak standard Italian, but the languages are quite different.

I know multiple Parisian-born French speakers who often look at French Canadians like they're speaking Polish, or perhaps Martian - pure incomprehension.
   6252. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4429572)
Since my Italian father-in-law used to converse with his Spanish speaking workers, and they both understood each other, I think you exaggerate.


Dude. You know better than this. When I was in college, I paid some tuition and spending money by working as a back-line expo in a local restaurant. When I made calls to the cook lines, I communicated well with the Spanish guys on the lines. We did not speak the same language.
   6253. Ron J2 Posted: April 30, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4429584)
#6251 The "separated by a common language" (usually applied to England and the US) really works better with French Canadians and Parisians. When I took French in school they taught Parisian French. It wasn't useless in Quebec in the sense that I could order a meal, but anything more complicated than that was problematic.

   6254. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4429592)
Dude. You know better than this. When I was in college, I paid some tuition and spending money by working as a back-line expo in a local restaurant. When I made calls to the cook lines, I communicated well with the Spanish guys on the lines. We did not speak the same language.

You only need to communicate, you don't need to be sympatico.
   6255. Ron J2 Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4429593)
And when it comes to the army a von Clausewitz quote seems very much on point: "War is very simple, but in War the simplest things become very difficult."

Any kind of communication issue becomes heightened in the stress of combat.
   6256. Greg K Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4429605)
You only need to communicate, you don't need to be sympatico.

It depends on what we're talking about. Being able to communicate in a kitchen is one thing, but language as the building block of a nation is something else. For an Italian to think of another Italian as "Italian" (and common language was an important part of nation-building, it's no coincidence that dictionaries and the attempts to centralize and standardize language happen at the same time), demands a higher standard.
   6257. BDC Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4429638)
for simple commands, the dialects are not that different

You'd think. But for example, "behind" in Italian is dietro; in Sicilian it's narré. "Left" in Italian is sinistra; in Sicilian, manca. We haven't even started marching yet, and my troops are hopelessly confused :)
   6258. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4429646)
You only need to communicate, you don't need to be sympatico.


People have cited historical examples where "minor" differences in dialect have caused serious problems in "national" actions. You've provided an anecdote about your dad being able to hodge-podge a pidgen solution together with the Spanish guy he worked with. You're smarter than this.
   6259. Ron J2 Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4429649)
#6258 Mind you, communication difficulties in (say) the Italian or French armies were nothing compared to the nightmare in the Austro-Hungarian army. I recall reading that orders of the day had to be issued in 14 languages.
   6260. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 30, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4429685)
What Maranville said. Even today, extended passages in Sicilian (for instance) must be translated for readers of Italian. The situation has changed since the world wars, in that educated Sicilians can now read and write and speak standard Italian, but the languages are quite different.


You'd think. But for example, "behind" in Italian is dietro; in Sicilian it's narré. "Left" in Italian is sinistra; in Sicilian, manca. We haven't even started marching yet, and my troops are hopelessly confused :)


An Italian fellow I work with insists that Sicilians are not "Italian," oh Sicily is part of Italy and Sicilians are Italian citizens, but ethnically they are simply not Italian (in his opinion), and no more closely related to Italians than the Spanish are, or the Greeks or any other random Mediterranean peoples...
   6261. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 30, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4429710)
An Italian fellow I work with insists that Sicilians are not "Italian," oh Sicily is part of Italy and Sicilians are Italian citizens, but ethnically they are simply not Italian (in his opinion), and no more closely related to Italians than the Spanish are, or the Greeks or any other random Mediterranean peoples...


I have always assumed Sicilians are to Italians as Basques are to Spaniards.
   6262. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 30, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4429715)
Don't know if this has been posted:

First-hand account from GITMO:

My first thought was, they mistook me for somebody else. My second thought was to try to look around, but one of the guards was squeezing my face against the floor. I saw the dog fighting to get loose. I saw [-------] standing up, looking helpless at the guards working on me. “Blindfold the ############! He’s trying to look—” One of them hit me hard across the face and quickly put goggles on my eyes, earmuffs on my ears, and a small bag over my head. They tightened the chains around my ankles and my wrists; afterward I started to bleed. All I could hear was [-------] cursing, “F-ing this and F-ing that.” I thought they were going to execute me.

The other guard dragged me out with my toes tracing the way, and threw me in a truck, which immediately took off. The beating party would last for the next three to four hours, before they turned me over to another team that would use different torture techniques. “Stop praying, ############. You’re killing people,” [-------] said, and punched me hard on my mouth. My mouth and nose started to bleed, and my lips grew so big that I technically could not speak anymore. The colleague of [-------] turned out to be one of my guards; [-------] and [-------] each took one of my sides and started to punch me and smash me against the metal of the truck. One of the guys hit me so that my breath stopped and I was choking. I felt like I was breathing through my ribs. …

Inside the boat, [-------] made me drink salt water, I believe it was direct from the ocean. It was so nasty I threw it up. They put an object in my mouth and shouted, “Swallow, ############!” I decided inside not to swallow the organ-damaging salt water, which choked me as they kept pouring the water in my mouth. “Swallow, you idiot!” I contemplated quickly, and decided for the nasty, damaging water rather than death.

[-------] and [-------] had been escorting me for about three hours in the high-speed boat. The goal of such trip was, first, to torture the detainee and claim that the “detainee hurt himself during transport,” and second to make the detainee believe he is being transferred to some far faraway secret prison. We detainees knew all about this; we had detainees who reported flying four hours and finding themselves in the same jail where they started.
   6263. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: April 30, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4429721)
I have always assumed Sicilians are to Italians as Basques are to Spaniards.


Or southerners are to Americans.
   6264. Greg K Posted: April 30, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4429729)
An Italian fellow I work with insists that Sicilians are not "Italian," oh Sicily is part of Italy and Sicilians are Italian citizens, but ethnically they are simply not Italian (in his opinion), and no more closely related to Italians than the Spanish are, or the Greeks or any other random Mediterranean peoples...

I think it's more friendly regionalinism (which as a Canadian I know all about) than anything else, but I've had a handful of encounters with Germans that have played out somewhat similarly.

A girl from Hamburg tried to convince me that Bavarians weren't real Germans, (or at the very least were poor examples of German-ness, and if it wasn't for the beautiful landscapes I shouldn't bother visiting), some guys from Berlin told me that the Germans in Cologne may as well be French. A Saxon I know once had great difficulty at a local branch of his bank in Bavaria because his accent made him sound like some kind of roustabout trouble-maker apparently.

My uncle from Turin tells me that the North/South divide in Italy is still fairly strong, and the idea that they are the same nation is not as firmly entrenched as the fact that there is a nation-state called Italy implies.
   6265. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 30, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4429736)
A girl from Hamburg tried to convince me that Bavarians weren't real Germans, (or at the very least were poor examples of German-ness, and if it wasn't for the beautiful landscapes I shouldn't bother visiting), some guys from Berlin told me that the Germans in Cologne may as well be French.


I was in London for a month of work that got extended by a couple more weeks. Had an "unplanned" weekend and asked the local guy about taking a train to Cardiff for the weekend. He replied "the only problem with Wales is that once you get there you're surrounded by the Welsh."

I hear from some regular visitors that northern Italy is as close to Switzerland as it is to southern Italy.
   6266. Greg K Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4429770)
I was in London for a month of work that got extended by a couple more weeks. Had an "unplanned" weekend and asked the local guy about taking a train to Cardiff for the weekend. He replied "the only problem with Wales is that once you get there you're surrounded by the Welsh."

Regionalism in the UK is hilarious in that it is almost entirely focused on making fun of the accents of other Brits. The Welsh (and those in the West Country) are a particularly favourite target. This leads to British people being quite good at accents. If you want to make fun of how other people, even the ones living just five miles away, talk, you have to hone your ear and tongue with some precision.

On an unrelated note, I find Wales to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Especially (perhaps to echo the local you talked to) the relatively unpopulated, mountainous interior and north coast.
   6267. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4429798)
I hear from some regular visitors that northern Italy is as close to Switzerland as it is to southern Italy.

Austrian mostly. They speak German in Südtirol.
   6268. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4429801)
On an unrelated note, I find Wales to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Especially (perhaps to echo the local you talked to) the relatively unpopulated, mountainous interior and north coast.

Well the relatively unpopulated areas do have the advantage of having fewer Welsh people.
   6269. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4429810)
6262: Interesting read.
   6270. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4429831)
I have always assumed Sicilians are to Italians as Basques are to Spaniards.


The Basque are quite possibly the oldest distinct separate ethnic group in Europe- the Sicilians are more a heterogeneous mixture of many different peoples (Italians/Latins/Greeks/Arabs/North Africans...) who have been together long enough to have merged into a cohesive culture
   6271. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4429840)
Regionalism in the UK is hilarious in that it is almost entirely focused on making fun of the accents of other Brits.


Don't worry, us North Americans like making fun of various British accents as well.

   6272. Flynn Posted: April 30, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4429845)
Yeah, but unlike South Wales, the people living in those areas are actually Welsh.

Quebecois French and Metropolitan French are ridiculously different. The former is much easier to understand as an American, however, and it's much easier to learn.
   6273. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 30, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4429943)
As to the number of "truly disabled", that's the rub, isn't it? No one has that, at least not in a form everyone would agree on.

Sure, but I think in these cases we need to write off what 'everyone would agree on'. (That's not an approach we can take with global warming, for instance.) Facts matter, and it's surely possible to get solid estimates, including ranges. Those estimates give us a much better idea of whether government disability programs are accomplishing what we want them to accomplish. It would be unfortunate if the debate began entirely on false premises such as 'There are now too many people on disability. How do we reduce that number?'

What I thought was most worthy about this piece is that they/she talked about it at all.

Well, i agree it's an important thing to discuss. I'm just sorry the article was so obviously off.

Personally, I harp on incentives all the time and that these programs punish desirable behaviors (like finding work) is deeply troubling. Then again, that sentiment ties in with other discussions we have about the US's relatively weak social net.


I think it's very likely what we're dealing with is a situation where our current social insurance programs are so completely inadequate that people who would otherwise be homeless or squatting, or simply dying for lack of medical care, gravitate to the two remaining programs they can qualify for (SSI and SSDI), and can qualify for indefinitely.

Of critical importance is that both SSI and SSDI qualify recipients for Medicaid. Being disabled, or, "disabled" has been one of the very few ways for poor people to get health insurance.

I don't think the issue could possibly be that too many people get SSI or SSDI--it's that through those programs we've created a way for the uninsured to get insurance, so that's the way they get it. I don't doubt there are entirely sympathetic doctors who are more than happy to game the system and help their patients get health insurance through SSI or SSDI. As well they should. I suggest that once we have universal health care the number of applications for SSI and SSDI will drop noticeably.

Agree completely on incentives, fwiw. Acc to ssa.gov someone on SSI loses $1 of benefits for every two dollars earned each month over $84. There's a website I can't access to link to, but here are the numbers they put out. Say someone with chronic pain can go stand behind a cash register at WalMart (regs forbid sitting), make $8 an hour one day a week, and gross 4.3 * 8 * 4 = $275.20 a month.

275.20 - 84.00 = 191.20.

191.20 / 2 = 95.60 docked each month from ones SSI check.

84.00 + 95.60 = 180.60 / 34.4 = $5.25 per hour, take home pay.

One could argue, 'so what? You're on the dole. Think of it as paying back some of the money we're giving you', but that treats disability from an adversarial position. It also imagines that the destitution literally required by the program is what we want. We DON'T want you to build up savings; not a dime over $2,000, over which we simply stop paying you the pittance that is disability until you're back under $2,000, and certainly not enough to start a small business.

Another bizarre item is that if you're lucky enough to have friends and family canny enough to figure out how to start a Trust for you, and pay the roughly 4k it takes to hire a lawyer to alert you to the handful of necessary but arcane, photocopied documents you need, that Trust still cannot pay for food or rent. It CAN buy you a house to live in, but any payments for food and rent will cause an equivalent deduction from your disability check, which is all of $700 a month.

There's very little difference between the rules that exist for SSI, and that of a program that has no interest in helping you get off disability. We insist that you are and remain destitute. You're allowed barely enough savings to move to a new apartment and put down first month's rent and security.

edit: this is for snapper. SSI pays $700 a month. A friend tells me she was coached by a gov't worker on how to cheat the rules so she could work off the books and stop going hungry. Her credit had been crippled by her illness, and as a result she couldn't get into an apartment that would have been subsidized to the tune of a whopping $440 a month, meaning that her $700 plus $100 a month in food stamps had to pay all her bills. Food, housing, electricity... I'm sure you know dozens of people cashing their SSI checks from their Cadillac convertibles, but in the real world the people working off the books are doing so to pay for simple necessities.


   6274. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 30, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4429953)
If you can ever come up with a definition of "conservative" that all self-defined "conservatives" would (a) agree upon, and (b) agree to apply consistently over the top 10 hot button issues, I'd love to hear it.

When you're done, you can move on to "Liberal" and "Left/Right (Political)".

What, you think I'd disagree with that?


Is this an exercise worth doing? What would those 10 issues be?

As long as their total income and other benefits are a matter of public record (if it's a publicly held company), I don't care, either. As long as you tax him at a steeply progressive rate, what a CEO makes should be strictly between him and the company's shareholders. I'm much more interested in seeing that a good part of that income supports a strong social safety net than I am about what the CEO does with the money that's left over.


What say you to an addition to the tax code, an upper-upper income bracket, where the tax on income above, say, 3m, goes to 45%?

Quebecois French and Metropolitan French are ridiculously different. The former is much easier to understand as an American, however, and it's much easier to learn.


Hmm. I don't see how it's 'easier to learn' (same number of foreign words, after all), but boy are Quebecers sensitive to snooty Frenchmen who make fun of their accents.
   6275. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 30, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4429955)
double post
   6276. zenbitz Posted: April 30, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4430048)
For all the crimes Obama is accused of committing by the right, not closing gitmo and indicting a couple hundred torturers is not going to be looked on fondly by history. Worse than drones.
   6277. zenbitz Posted: April 30, 2013 at 08:40 PM (#4430059)
The convo is a little dead now, but i have in previous threads expounded on the virtues of a near 100% inheritanced tax (and lamented the loop holes it forces)

What if, instead, income/wealth tax was on some sort of delayed sliding scale?
So over the threshold (500k/y, including all capital gains) you would eventually pay 90%, but you could defer it into the future as long as you spend it (receipts). If you give or "employ" your relatives, they will get taxed as if its income. So unless you have hundreds it will still be taxed at thw overflow rate. Purchases that you make (say properties or other investments) are recorded so if they are gifed the tax becomes due.
   6278. Mefisto Posted: April 30, 2013 at 10:40 PM (#4430254)
I'm not sure how the details of that would work, zenbitz, but I agree we need a much more steeply progressive tax system. What we ought to do is establish brackets by percentages (bottom 40%, top 1%, etc.) and set rates for brackets defined like that. That would eliminate bracket creep.

For the rates, Piketty and Saez say we can tax up to 70% for maximum tax efficiency. For example, the tax rate for the top 1% might be 48%. For the top .001%, it might be 65% (all figures purely hypothetical). We probably should eliminate all deductions and credits; those mostly benefit the rich. For more revenue, a higher tax on unearned income (gifts and inheritances) would be very beneficial.

We also need other taxes, not necessarily for revenue purposes. A carbon tax is essential, but it could be revenue neutral.

There's a lot we could do to move the country away from oligarchy and towards an actual republic.
   6279. Publius Publicola Posted: April 30, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4430258)
Has anyone addressed the incongruity of someone like Jobs or Gates accruing so much wealth in the first place? It's not like they wrote all the code and assembled all the products themselves. Why aren't all the other creative people who enabled them to be so successful rewarded handsomely too?

This actually became a popular business model in the 70's and 80's, with the guys who ran start-ups like Ben and Jerry's, New England Biolabs and some others refusing to gobble up all the accrued wealth for themselves. The employees of those companies, and I know people who have worked for both, are ferociously loyal to their employer. It's a form of corporate socialism but it seems to work phenomenally well.
   6280. Monty Posted: April 30, 2013 at 11:06 PM (#4430263)
Has anyone addressed the incongruity of someone like Jobs or Gates accruing so much wealth in the first place? It's not like they wrote all the code and assembled all the products themselves. Why aren't all the other creative people who enabled them to be so successful rewarded handsomely too?


To be fair, Microsoft made millionaires out of an awful lot of people that worked there. "Microsoft millionaires" are a dime a dozen around here, unless that's a logical impossibility.
   6281. Publius Publicola Posted: April 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM (#4430270)
I know, Monty. That wasn't my point. With all Gates' money, shouldn't there have been more Microsoft billionaires? That's my point. Or, spreading it out more, instead of hundreds of Microsoft millionaires, why wasn't there tens of thousands?
   6282. Jay Z Posted: April 30, 2013 at 11:49 PM (#4430276)
Has anyone addressed the incongruity of someone like Jobs or Gates accruing so much wealth in the first place? It's not like they wrote all the code and assembled all the products themselves. Why aren't all the other creative people who enabled them to be so successful rewarded handsomely too?

This actually became a popular business model in the 70's and 80's, with the guys who ran start-ups like Ben and Jerry's, New England Biolabs and some others refusing to gobble up all the accrued wealth for themselves. The employees of those companies, and I know people who have worked for both, are ferociously loyal to their employer. It's a form of corporate socialism but it seems to work phenomenally well.


AFAIK, all long timers at Microsoft have done well.

The problem with Microsoft is that for what it pulls in, it only employees a few thousand people. They just don't require the infrastructure that Ford Motors or Coca-Cola to sell their product coast to coast. No regional distribution centers. No repairmen.

Now Wal-Mart does employ a lot of people, and does require more infrastructure. But they still seem different than the companies of old. The people at the top rake in a ton, fewer layers/middle people, and a bunch of drones at the bottom with no hope of advancement. I do think the Wal-Marts gain from the improved infrastructure of the world. Wal-Mart never could have existed on this scale 50-60 years ago.
   6283. Publius Publicola Posted: April 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM (#4430279)
Now Wal-Mart does employ a lot of people, and does require more infrastructure. But they still seem different than the companies of old. The people at the top rake in a ton, fewer layers/middle people, and a bunch of drones at the bottom with no hope of advancement.


This can be corrected for with stock options being part of the compensation package, so the employees own a portion of the infrastructure. Since they helped build it, it seems fair to me.
   6284. Jay Z Posted: April 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM (#4430280)
I know, Monty. That wasn't my point. With all Gates' money, shouldn't there have been more Microsoft billionaires? That's my point. Or, spreading it out more, instead of hundreds of Microsoft millionaires, why wasn't there tens of thousands?


Like I said above, they don't employ enough people to do that. I think the societal improvements in infrastructure, lowering of barriers, improvements in tech have simply made it easier for vast amounts to flow up to a few.
   6285. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4430287)
Now Wal-Mart does employ a lot of people, and does require more infrastructure. But they still seem different than the companies of old. The people at the top rake in a ton, fewer layers/middle people, and a bunch of drones at the bottom with no hope of advancement.

It's been reported that 75% of WalMart store management start as hourly employees. They get huge numbers of applicants whenever they open a store.
   6286. Jay Z Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:14 AM (#4430291)
This can be corrected for with stock options being part of the compensation package, so the employees own a portion of the infrastructure. Since they helped build it, it seems fair to me.


It's fair, but they don't have to.

It's a flaw of capitalism. The people that are making the billions are not the people that built the system. The system was built by many if not all Americans.

I'm in sympathy with an ownership stake, it just requires a sea change in attitude. Maybe a literal revolution. The optimistic solution is that a new way can be found, maybe a mandated ownership stake as part of citizenship. The pessimistic view is that large, fully integrated societies always work to funnel the wealth to the few at the top, whoever they may be, and balkanization is the only solution.
   6287. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:33 AM (#4430298)
I don't see why it's fair that fungible workers should get a windfall if their company hits the jackpot. There's no special value in making the code or building the cars, especially if someone else can do it. This is not to say that those workers should be paid more than $1 less than their nonunion Burmese competition; my belief in a return to tariffs has been off-stated on this thread. But the distribution of ridiculous wealth reflects, IMO, the distribution of talent; lots of drones, a few really talented people.
   6288. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:49 AM (#4430301)
I know, Monty. That wasn't my point. With all Gates' money, shouldn't there have been more Microsoft billionaires? That's my point. Or, spreading it out more, instead of hundreds of Microsoft millionaires, why wasn't there tens of thousands?

Like I said above, they don't employ enough people to do that. I think the societal improvements in infrastructure, lowering of barriers, improvements in tech have simply made it easier for vast amounts to flow up to a few.


True, and it does so precisely because we have written the system to do exactly that. Despite what a couple of people will tell us, there's no innate right to make a fortune through an infrastructure you had nothing or very little to do with creating.

Increase taxes, increase the corporate tax rate and eliminate deductions, mandate health insurance, raise the minimum wax, improve the language in corporate charters, institute corporate user fees...

The optimistic solution is that a new way can be found, maybe a mandated ownership stake as part of citizenship.


Check out what Mortimer Adler had to say about this. I only barely recall it, but he may have coined the phrase, Universal Capitalism. I believe birth and citizenship conferred inalienable shares. Dividends would be paid.
   6289. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: May 01, 2013 at 12:56 AM (#4430302)
But the distribution of ridiculous wealth reflects, IMO, the distribution of talent; lots of drones, a few really talented people.

Well, it really reflects a rigged system, since there's no particular, god-given reason why the tax rate fails to reflect the extraordinary value some people are able to extract from a system already in existence and which those people--your few really talented people--had nothing to do with creating.

We don't do it, but it's hardly difficult to legislate fairness. Microsoft doesn't exist without our airways and bandwidth. Why aren't we being appropriately compensated for those things? WalMart doesn't exist without our roads and airports and harbors. Why are the people who built those things not being appropriately compensated?

The few talented people remain geniuses in their garages in the absence of our infrastructure. Again, why are we not appropriately compensated for that infrastructure?

There's nothing sacred about patents, either. Patent law is written to protect the wealthy, of course. You want a patent? Fine. Pay an additional tax of 30% on income from that patent in excess of $3 million. You want the protection of our courts, our police, our penal system? You want the value provided by the currency we maintain? Pay for it.

We provide a remarkable array of services for nothing, or next to nothing. Government weather data has helped businesses make hundreds of billions of dollars. Why wasn't there a user tax on that data?

There isn't because agribusiness, among others, pays for the legislation that keeps it free, but that's one of a thousand reasons of business and the wealthy underpaying for services the rest of us provide well in excess of the taxes they pay.
   6290. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: May 01, 2013 at 01:16 AM (#4430305)
What's your evidence that the infrastructure value add to companies like Walmart is greater than the direct and indirect tax revenue they generate?
   6291. Jay Z Posted: May 01, 2013 at 01:21 AM (#4430306)
I don't see why it's fair that fungible workers should get a windfall if their company hits the jackpot. There's no special value in making the code or building the cars, especially if someone else can do it. This is not to say that those workers should be paid more than $1 less than their nonunion Burmese competition; my belief in a return to tariffs has been off-stated on this thread. But the distribution of ridiculous wealth reflects, IMO, the distribution of talent; lots of drones, a few really talented people.


Horse hockey. Microsoft and Wal-Mart are the beneficiaries of a winner take all economy. If Bill Gates was never born, the reigning OS would have simply been written by some other group. If Sam Walton was never born, we would still have big box retail.

The industrial revolution has increasingly enabled winner take all. At one time if you wanted to hear classical music, either you could play it yourself on an instrument (assuming you could read music and play) or find some local musicians that could. Now you can simply buy your favorite recording, perhaps recorded years earlier and thousands of miles away.

How much money could Eric Clapton have made with his guitar 100 years ago. Recording was primitive, so was radio. Few people would have had access to see him in concert. His best bet would have been to write songs which were then transferred to sheet music which could be played again by other musicians. If he wanted to achieve "immortality" (and make money) that was probably his best bet. And he needed other musicians to do that.

With the improvement in tech he can sell hours of his music from throughout his lifetime. He doesn't need the other players anymore. The consumers who want to buy the "best" have more access. (And the "best" aren't even always the best.) Those who don't win the winner take all race don't have a market for their talents.
   6292. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 01, 2013 at 01:28 AM (#4430308)
What's your evidence that the infrastructure value add to companies like Walmart is greater than the direct and indirect tax revenue they generate?

And even if it was true (Wal-Mart pays taxes too and I wager a truckload of Walmart goods driving on the road brings a lot more revenue than some dude driving to pick up a hamburger), it's a big so what. If the government sells me a fishing pole for $50 and I use it to feed my family and sells my neighbor a fishing pole for $50 and he uses it for firewood, it's like arguing that I'm getting so much more that I'm robbing the government.

As long as Wal-Mart is paying their proportional share of the actual infrastructure used that everyone else does, I couldn't care less. This argument can generally be summed up as "I want them to pay more money cuz I want to spend it on stuff, so they're not paying their fair share!"

   6293. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 01, 2013 at 01:35 AM (#4430310)
With the improvement in tech he can sell hours of his music from throughout his lifetime. He doesn't need the other players anymore. The consumers who want to buy the "best" have more access. (And the "best" aren't even always the best.) Those who don't win the winner take all race don't have a market for their talents.

Given how great it is to live in America in 2013 compared to the average of human existence, if this is what winner-take-all leads to, seems pretty cool to me.

How terrible your life must be, to have a tiny of slice of an amazing pie when you could instead have a giant hunk of a pile ####.

Maybe you can write a subsistence farmer in Africa to sponsor you. You can send him a monthly letter so that he knows he's making a difference.


Dear Anwar,

Thanks you for you contribution. Things are very bad here. Bill Gates has a very big mansion and my hovel only has 2 1/2 bathrooms. In my half bathroom, people can defecate, but they can't immediately take a shower without walking to another floor. Not only do I not have a personal chef to keep my in shape, but the grocery store shelves were absolutely devoid of organic kumquats. If I lived in Beverly Hills, I can get them there, but the dirty capitalists that invented the iPod are robbing the country (someone would have made it anyway) and mansions are just too expensive. I hope you are doing well - I'm not, my internet was kind of slow for 15 minutes yesterday, depriving me of the beautiful music that I rely on to get me through my weary life.

Your Friend,

Jay Z
   6294. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 01, 2013 at 02:43 AM (#4430320)
#6293 makes me wish I hadn't made fun of high-fives so much, as it richly deserves one.
   6295. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: May 01, 2013 at 03:24 AM (#4430328)
What's your evidence that the infrastructure value add to companies like Walmart is greater than the direct and indirect tax revenue they generate?


You're implying my ass-generated facts aren't enough? It's an outrage!

More seriously, I've long thought this is an area that would reward serious study. It would involve a passel of assumptions, of course, such as 'What's the value of using a mile of road?' 'What is the value over and above fees of New York Harbor to, say, WalMart?' 'What percentage of road repairs are due to the damage their trucks cause?' This is something a team of economists could fruitfully study for years so I don't expect to answer it today.

To put it crassly, since unless WalMart is allowed to use Our infrastructure they'll go out of business tomorrow, we can charge them anything we want for the roads and highways, bridges and tunnels, harbors and ports and airports they must use. We can charge them what we consider an appropriate rate, and that rate can be up to anything that almost but not quite causes them to close down. After all, why not let the scarcity of well-maintained highways work in our favor?

In the most basic sense, the "evidence" is simply what the market will literally bear, and it's not possible to conclude they can't afford to pay more in taxes. At the same time, you don't want to create a climate where the government is running what's basically a protection racket. 'Pay my new and increased toll or let your truck sit and your tomatoes rot'.

Our national experience is that you can run a country successfully with much higher nominal tax rates. I won't pretend that when our marginal rate reached 91% that that's what people were actually paying. Iirc it was a little over 50%. I think it's reasonable to conclude that the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure is not being met with the revenue generated by current tax rates. That there is a fair bit of evidence that more taxes need to be paid to maintain that infrastructure. Further, if taxes are, to a degree, user fees, then the people or businesses that benefit the most from infrastructure should see an increase in their taxes.

As long as Wal-Mart is paying their proportional share of the actual infrastructure used that everyone else does,...


I clipped it there because it's difficult to believe that they are "paying their proportional share".

As for the 'fungibility of people' argument upthread, people are only fungible when they fail to act in concert. A living wage could be had tomorrow if, say, WalMart employees simply acted in concert and people respected picket lines.

WalMart could be zoned out of existence tomorrow if we re-wrote corporate charters to respect small businesses instead of big box corporations. Staples disappears tomorrow if we simply require local ownership, or outlaw franchises of more than a dozen businesses as not conducive towards the kind of society we want.

In any case, they're our highways, our ports, our docks... The same argument that claims value is whatever is agreed to necessarily claims we can tax (user fees) at whatever rate we choose, based on our valuation (and not Walmart's valuation) of those things. It's only hidden and rather curious assumptions that foster massive accumulations of wealth. A huge and incredibly biased and rigged machinery is necessary in order to allow a few thousand people to control more wealth than most nations.
   6296. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 01, 2013 at 03:31 AM (#4430330)
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."

Lest you forget.
   6297. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: May 01, 2013 at 03:45 AM (#4430332)
Poverty of course is anything but the normal condition of man. It takes a whole lot of skimming and a whole lot of force to create an impoverished population.

"...are the work of an extremely small minority,..."

This is hilarious. Do a single thing without the work of millions of largely anonymous people without whom your existence would be extremely marginal and limited. No one in your 'extremely small minority' would be anything other than a big wheel in their hamlet without a vast amount of labor and support expended in advance of their work.

Your quote is farce. Sorry, but it is. Enormous political machinery and threats of force are necessary to make people fungible. Even more so than are necessary to collect taxes.

The post upthread is correct. The pyramidal nature of the society we've constructed (there's nothing natural about it) necessarily creates zillionaires at the top of that pyramid. If Steve Jobs never existed the next player in the game would have, and we'd be no worse off. Steve Jobs, if you will, by your lights and according to the system we've constructed, is entirely fungible.
   6298. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 01, 2013 at 03:57 AM (#4430333)
Poverty of course is anything but the normal condition of man. It takes a whole lot of skimming and a whole lot of force to create an impoverished population.

Comical.

The post upthread is correct. The pyramidal nature of the society we've constructed (there's nothing natural about it) necessarily creates zillionaires at the top of that pyramid. If Steve Jobs never existed the next player in the game would have, and we'd be no worse off. Steve Jobs, if you will, by your lights and according to the system we've constructed, is entirely fungible.

Sure. And if Barack Obama never existed, some other smooth-talking black guy would have been elected president in 2008.

Barack Obama: Not a big deal at all!
   6299. Jay Z Posted: May 01, 2013 at 04:13 AM (#4430334)
And even if it was true (Wal-Mart pays taxes too and I wager a truckload of Walmart goods driving on the road brings a lot more revenue than some dude driving to pick up a hamburger), it's a big so what. If the government sells me a fishing pole for $50 and I use it to feed my family and sells my neighbor a fishing pole for $50 and he uses it for firewood, it's like arguing that I'm getting so much more that I'm robbing the government.

As long as Wal-Mart is paying their proportional share of the actual infrastructure used that everyone else does, I couldn't care less. This argument can generally be summed up as "I want them to pay more money cuz I want to spend it on stuff, so they're not paying their fair share!"


It can certainly be argued that pro sports teams use their economic leverage unfairly to not pay for stadia that are built at taxpayer expense and which the teams profit from. When the teams move to new stadia, certain fans might be worse off. Fans who were just fine with the old product, but can't afford the same seats, or as many trips, to the higher priced new stadia. I suppose if the average fan was worse off no one would go.

Are people better off dumpster diving today than working full time in the world of 1913? I guess, probably. But that may be because the social services have kept pace.
   6300. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: May 01, 2013 at 05:35 AM (#4430345)
What's funny is that we go out of our way to legislate and enforce at gunpoint an incredibly complicated system that wholly artificially creates completely unnecessary zillionaires out of people who got to a patent office a step ahead of the competition (or who simply stole it from the competition--readers of history know that the fellow who profited most from an invention was very often not the inventor).

And yet, some shout 'Huzzah! Look at these uniquely gifted geniuses without whom the world would collapse into dust and despair!' It's like watching a pack of monkeys build a statue of a monkey, paste a nameplate 'great monkey' on it, and holler, 'look! It's a great monkey!'

Truly the stuff of farce.
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