Posted at 12:34:56 07/08/09

I love stuff like that. (Thanks to Matt S. on my college alumni list for pointing this one out to me).

Let’s call this an open thread. Feel free to discuss what you want, or post whatever links you want (self-linking is totally cool).

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75 Responses to Posted at 12:34:56 07/08/09

  1. I wrote about the merits of film collecting (by that, I mean actually collecting old movies on film)

    http://blog.toonzone.net/blogs/31/film-collecting/

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    O.K. I was working out during my lunch hour at 12:34:56 7/8/9. What were you all doing?

  3. 3
    PG says:

    If anyone is curious about what was referred to in this interview with Justice Ginsburg, when she says,

    JUSTICE GINSBURG: Once Justice O’Connor was questioning counsel at oral argument. I thought she was done, so I asked a question, and Sandra said: Just a minute, I’m not finished. So I apologized to her and she said, It’s O.K., Ruth. The guys do it to each other all the time, they step on each other’s questions. And then there appeared an item in USA Today, and the headline was something like“Rude Ruth Interrupts Sandra.”

    Q: It seemed to me that male judges do much more abrasive things all the time, and it goes unremarked.

    JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the notion that Sonia is an aggressive questioner — what else is new? Has anybody watched Scalia or Breyer up on the bench?

    It appears to be something in Newsweek that then went around in wire reports on April 20, 1994 and republished as

    RUDE RUTH: Those uptight Supreme Court justices. Seems Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s colleagues want to issue a gag order against her because they think she’s rude. During a recent court session, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was questioning an attorney when Justice Ginsburg broke in with her own question. “Excuse me!”

    Justice O’Connor snapped, according to Newsweek. “Just let me finish.” The next day, Justice Ginsburg interrupted Justice Anthony Kennedy. Several justices then complained to Chief Justice William Rehnquist about Justice Ginsburg’s manners.

    The Washington Post had commented on it a little more politely a few weeks earlier:

    From her first day on the bench last October, the court’s newest justice showed she was a force to contend with during oral arguments. She peppered lawyers with questions and often interrupted her colleagues.

    – Justice Ginsburg Goes 25 for 25 on Voting With Court Majority, The Washington Post; April 1, 1994

    And then a year later in the Post:

    And as for her widely reported tendency to interrupt her colleagues during oral arguments, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in one particular incident, Ginsburg told Diane Sawyer in an unusual television appearance on ABC’s “PrimeTime Live”: “Diane, that never would have been noticed if it were two guys.”

    – High Court’s Justice With a Cause; Bench Position Amplifies Ginsburg’s Lifelong Feminist Message, The Washington Post; April 17, 1995

  4. 4
    L says:

    Ginsburg is alright!

    I have decided that cucumber salad made with yogurt and dill is too good to be a side dish and today made it my whole dinner!

  5. 5
    PG says:

    Best news I’ve heard today: Obama has nominated Francis Collins to head the NIH. A born-again Christian who also believes in science, yay!

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, I wanted to apologize to the community in general for my even lower-than-usual rate of participation lately. I’ve got a major deadline on top of me, and that’s been the main thing keeping me out of comments.

  7. 7
    hun says:

    The zero is either overrepresented or not represented at all. Discrimination either way.

  8. 8
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Amp,

    We love you. We love your comments. But some of us also groove on your comics and want you to make more. Please go away and come back when you have something awesome to show.

  9. 9
    Stentor says:

    If you switch to the dd/mm/yy system a la Australia and probably lots of other countries, you can do 12:34:56 07/08/09 all over again on August 7.

  10. 10
    Renee says:

    How Much Has Changed For The Women Of Afghanistan: Looking at how the war has led to terrible results for women and children.

    McKinney Kidnapping Ignored By The Media

    Heroes Adds Lesbian Love; A new lesbian relationship is in the mix for the show but considering that it is being done to boost ratings something tells me this may not be a positive portrayal.

  11. 11
    PG says:

    I saw the CNN article on McKinney on June 30 through a conservative friend’s Facebook posting of the link, though he put it up with the unsympathetic remark, “Just when you thought 1) Mckinney had faded away or 2) couldn’t get any dumber.” Also, I am not sure that it is correct to say that going into an area where one is not authorized to be, and then being removed by the government that controls that area, is a kidnapping. If she was held with “lawful excuse,” then it fails one of the elements of the common-law definition of kidnapping. The naval blockade has been agreed to by the Palestinian Authority and the international community to prevent arms smuggling into the Palestinian Territories. So far as I know, Israel does permit humanitarian aid into Palestine so long as the items are cleared by Israel at its checkpoints. It’s not irrational for them to be concerned that random boats might have weapons in them that will be used against Israelis (or, given the infighting between Fatah and Hamas, against Palestinians).

    Also, McKinney has previously violated the blockade:

    On December 30, 2008, McKinney was aboard the ship Dignity as it attempted to enter the Gaza Strip, which had its coastal area declared a “closed military zone” by Israel, while on a humanitarian mission by the Free Gaza Movement from Cyprus. Aboard were physicians, medical supplies, and activists. The Israel Navy confronted the ship at night in international waters. Members of the crew claimed that the ship was rammed, gunfire was directed at the water, and the ship was forced to dock in Lebanon after taking on water. Israel officials claimed that the collision was accidental and occurred after the ship was informed they wouldn’t be allowed to enter Gaza and tried to outmaneuver the patrol boat; they decried McKinney’s actions as being irresponsible and provocative for the sake of propaganda.

  12. 12
    PG says:

    For a depressing instance of a common attitude among prison officials that one loses all rights upon entering a jail:
    http://www.aclu.org/pdfs/prison/lettertosuperintendenthiggs.pdf

    This Virginia prison prohibits inmates from receiving religious materials from their family members, including Bible quotations in letters. Such references will be cut out of those letters. I cannot begin to understand what the justification for such censorship is. If I were in prison, I’d be a lot more inclined to serve my time patiently if I could maintain communications with my family on the outside and look forward to the day I could rejoin them. On the other hand, getting Mom’s letters cut up because of Bible passages would not make me feel very inclined to be a model prisoner.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    The naval blockade has been agreed to by the Palestinian Authority and the international community to prevent arms smuggling into the Palestinian Territories.

    Even if this is true (do you have a reference), it’s irrelevant. The elected government of Gaza isn’t the PA; it’s Hamas.

    So far as I know, Israel does permit humanitarian aid into Palestine so long as the items are cleared by Israel at its checkpoints.

    International humanitarian groups don’t believe Israel is doing a good job of being humane to citizens of Gaza.

  14. 14
    PG says:

    Amp,

    AFAIK, the PA is part of the PLO, which in turn is the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people, complete with observer status at the UN. Hamas is a party; it contests elections for the PA (Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas is the elected Prime Minister of the PA). And Hamas uses the arms that are smuggled into Gaza to kill Israelis (and Palestinians).

    I agree that Israel isn’t doing a good job (IMO, it is their responsibility to provide for the welfare of the Territories if they do not consider Hamas capable of proper administration), but that isn’t a justification for trying to evade the naval blockade unless McKinney can show that she has tried to get the aid to Palestine through the proper channels and it has not worked.

  15. 15
    Sailorman says:

    NOW we’ve got a real challenge to DOMA.

    Massachusetts (yes, the state, not someone with an unusual last name) has filed a complaint directly challenging DOMA.

    The listed defendants are “UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES; KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, in her official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; ERIC K. SHINSEKI, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”

    I have not read the complaint, but you may access a PDF version at
    http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/press/2009_07_08_doma_complaint.pdf

    Looks like the fight just got taken to another stage, seeing as Massachusetts has resources, respect, and standing of a level unavailable to most individual plaintiffs.

    I’ll read the complaint in more detail later today and will summarize it when I get a moment. I assume that there will be a new thread at that point!

  16. 16
    Sailorman says:

    The summary introduction of the complaint is copied in part below.

    From the complaint:
    “Section 3 of DOMA applies to all federal laws retrospectively and prospectively. In so doing, it affects the Commonwealth in significant ways. First, DOMA interferes with the Commonwealth’s exclusive authority to determine and regulate the marital status of its citizens. Although the Commonwealth views all married persons identically, Section 3 of DOMA creates two distinct classes of married persons in Massachusetts by denying hundreds of rights and protections to married individuals in same-sex relationships. Second, Section 3 of DOMA imposes conditions on the Commonwealth’s participation in certain federally funded programs that require the Commonwealth to disregard marriages validly solemnized under Massachusetts law. DOMA’s sweeping scope exceeds the powers granted to Congress and violates the United States Constitution.

    The Commonwealth seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for the narrow but critical purpose of enabling it to define marriage within its own boundaries. This action does not address the application of DOMA in states that do not recognize marriages between same-sex couples. It does, however, seek to remedy the fundamental unfairness that DOMA causes to Massachusetts and its residents by denying those residents equal treatment under the law.”

    Footnote 1 is extremely important. It reads:
    “The Commonwealth’s lawsuit does not challenge Section 2 of DOMA, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1738C, which provides that states shall not be required to recognize marriages between individuals of the same sex that are validly solemnized in other states. This lawsuit is, instead, limited to the impact of Section 3 of DOMA within the borders of the Commonwealth. Accordingly, the Commonwealth does not assert any claims regarding the decision of other states to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

  17. 17
    chingona says:

    Sailorman,

    I’m curious about that footnote. Is the general consensus that that part of the law (the part about states not having to recognize marriages from other states) is perfectly constitutional and just has to be undone by Congress (or not, as the case may be)? Or is it more that Massachusetts has no standing to challenge that part while it would have standing to file a challenge based on unequal treatment of its own residents?

  18. 18
    Sailorman says:

    I’m not sure whether Massachusetts would have no standing to challenge it (I assume they would have some standing, though they might lose.)

    But by limiting the relief that is sought, Mass. makes it much more difficult for the court to evade the question. Also, by deliberately limiting the issue to their strongest arguments, Mass. makes it much more likely that they will win.

    After all, the court would generally prefer to reject it out of hand on standing grounds, and would otherwise generally prefer to reject it based on some comparatively weak argument (Full Faith and Credit re marriages). Massachusetts has tried to carefully frame the argument so that all of the issues being complained about are strong ones.

    For example, imagine two likely ways that the court would turn down the appeal. One is “this case is really about the FFC clause, and under that clause Massachusetts does not have an argument, so Massachusetts loses.” The second is “this case is really about the limitations on Congressional power, and we think Congress has this power.”

    By stating explicitly that it is NOT asking for certain levels of relief, Massachusetts prevents the court from rejecting its case based on those issues.

  19. 19
    PG says:

    chingona,

    I don’t think State A has ever been able to force State B to recognize marriages that are legal in State A but not in State B. This is why we have a maintainable diversity among the states about whether to recognize first-cousin marriage, 16-year-old’s marriage, and now same-sex marriage; otherwise, people who wanted to marry a first-cousin would just travel from Texas to Vermont to get married, then come back to Texas and demand marriage recognition.

    In Loving v. Virginia, the couple was married in DC, but Virginia did not recognize their marriage. The Supreme Court case was not a ruling that Virginia was obliged to recognize out-of-state marriages that couldn’t be legally performed in Virginia; it was the Virginia had to legalize interracial marriage itself. (And then of course once it did that, it makes no sense to refuse to recognize other states’ interracial marriages.)

    While there isn’t Supreme Court precedent for forcing the federal government to recognize a state’s marriages if the feds don’t want to, I don’t know of a marriage that has been duly recognized by a state that the federal government then refused to recognize. So there’s a plausible argument that by singling out same-sex marriages as the one type of marriage that, if legalized by a state, the federal government will not recognize, the government is violating equal protection and is showing animus toward homosexuals in violation of the Romer v. Evans precedent.

  20. 20
    Radfem says:

    I spent two hours with the city wi fi IT guy to work on some issues as to why I have trouble picking it up. I learned a lot about the system and the problems that come up with trees, wind and other things that create “noise”. It’s cool to learn about something that I wasn’t familiar with.

    The guy was nice, talked to him on the phone a lot and he kind of looked like I pictured (as I recognized him having seen him in a bucket truck working on the routers). He gave some possible solutions and they might be moving the router to a different light post (as they’re mounted on them) so I and people on my street get a better connection, and replacing an antennae on the router that the router closest to me connections to, plus they might be sending me an antennae.

    It was interesting at any rate. I didn’t know much about wireless and he was good at answering questions using useful analogies. I did solve a couple of their network problems for them, including the placement of an errant redirect link to an ad that crashed browsers trying to load pages. They haven’t fixed that and the same ad company now puts people who log in on an endless loop to its Web site. Fortunately, the city’s dropping the network and switching to a company that AT&T, the ISP, just bought.

    I’ve been struggling a bit otherwise with health issues, with the diagnosis so far being anxiety or panic disorder after tests. I did find an interesting and informative online community site on anxiety disorders.

    Been blogging on bits and pieces of things. Labor issues, which always brings city network traffic to my site and interesting unsigned emails.

  21. 21
    PG says:

    Followup to the Ginsburg interview I posted @3:

    Literally hundreds of conservatives have seized upon an answer to a question in the interview to portray Ginsburg as a proponent of eugenics. They evidently can’t tell the difference between Ginsburg’s describing what she understood the views of others to be[1] and what her own views are[2]. I can’t tell if they seriously think that a woman who has said that her Jewish identity was shaped by WWII and the Holocaust, and who fought for a woman’s right to keep her job while pregnant instead of being forced to get an abortion, would be in favor of eugenics. Or if they’re just hoping that the conservative audience will be so eager to believe evil of a liberal that no one will bother to check.

    [1] Her statement in the interview was:

    Yes, the ruling about [the law forbidding the use of Medicaid for abortions] surprised me. Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

    Note to conservatives: When someone says “there was concern,” that does not mean the same thing as “I was concerned.”

    [2] See this opinion joined by Justice Ginsburg, which begins by railing AGAINST America’s sordid experimentation with eugenics as a way to destroy the disabled.

    I note that if the Court engaged in a more expansive enquiry as The Chief Justice suggests, post, at 15 (dissenting opinion), the evidence to be considered would underscore the appropriateness of action under §5 to address the situation of disabled individuals before the courts, for that evidence would show that the judiciary itself has endorsed the basis for some of the very discrimination subject to congressional remedy under §5. Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), was not grudging in sustaining the constitutionality of the once-pervasive practice of involuntarily sterilizing those with mental disabilities. See id., at 207 (“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind… . Three generations of imbeciles are enough”). Laws compelling sterilization were often accompanied by others indiscriminately requiring institutionalization, and prohibiting certain individuals with disabilities from marrying, from voting, from attending public schools, and even from appearing in public. One administrative action along these lines was judicially sustained in part as a justified precaution against the very sight of a child with cerebral palsy, lest he “produc[e] a depressing and nauseating effect” upon others. State ex rel. Beattie v. Board of Ed. of Antigo, 169 Wis. 231, 232, 172 N. W. 153 (1919) (approving his exclusion from public school).1

    Many of these laws were enacted to implement the quondam science of eugenics, which peaked in the 1920’s, yet the statutes and their judicial vindications sat on the books long after eugenics lapsed into discredit.2 See U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Accommodating the Spectrum of Individual Abilities 19—20 (1983). Quite apart from the fateful inspiration behind them, one pervasive fault of these provisions was their failure to reflect the “amount of flexibility and freedom” required to deal with “the wide variation in the abilities and needs” of people with disabilities. Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 445 (1985). Instead, like other invidious discrimination, they classified people without regard to individual capacities, and by that lack of regard did great harm. In sustaining the application of Title II today, the Court takes a welcome step away from the judiciary’s prior endorsement of blunt instruments imposing legal handicaps.

  22. 22
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Today there are a large number of Golden Eagles hunting over my subdivision today. I have this feeling I’m going to hear about someone who is missing a cat, or perhaps some of the squirrels who ate all my peaches will learn a lesson.

    I love living in Texas.

  23. 23
    PG says:

    Open question for everyone:

    For how many people is it an aspiration to be ranking in the top 1% of American households by income?

    Or to put it another way, how many people aspire to make more than $280k a year as individuals, $350k as a married couple?

    And when I say “aspire,” I mean “have enough belief that this will happen that you would make voting decisions based on how policies would affect you at that level of income, rather than on how they affect you at your current level of income”?

    I am curious based on this:

    “Tax is a four-letter word” with voters, said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Even families not ranking in the top 1 percent of earners “hope they’re going to be there someday,” he said. “So they don’t necessarily think it’s fair.”

    My parents make over $350k (or at least they reported that in 2007, before they discovered that their purported investment earnings were actually an illusion based on a stockbroker’s Ponzi scheme), so it’s not like I look at that level of income as ZOMG YOU MUST LIVE ON CAVIAR AND CHAMPAGNE. But unless you live in a few parts of the country with particularly high cost of living and state/local taxes (NYC, SF, parts of LA, etc.), that is really quite a bit of money. Even in Manhattan, if either my husband or I made just the amount for an individual ($280k), we could afford to have one person quit his job without reducing our standard of living.

    It seems irrational to believe that you’ll make that kind of money and to vote accordingly unless you’re in a setup where that level of income is practically guaranteed (e.g. you’ll come into an inheritance with a huge annuity, or you’re in a high-demand profession where most people eventually make that kind of money — some medical specialties would qualify here). Do lots of Americans just have a plan to become entrepreneurs or inventors or creative workers, such that a high income will be realistic once they achieve success?

  24. 24
    Sailorman says:

    this optical illusion is really one of the best I’ve seen:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/24/the-blue-and-the-green/

  25. 25
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    I’ve had a very high income in the past (but not $280K high …). I would like to make that kind of money again, and I realistically believe I can do that if the economy ever gets out of the toilet.

    I think many people believe that “Filthy Rich” isn’t all that far from where they are, and that far fewer people than do actually earn large salaries. I think this is why there is so much opposition to “taxes”, that and people don’t realize just how little, relative to the top 10 or 20 percent, even, they pay in taxes.

    But “vote accordingly”? What the hell does that mean? Vote to be greedy? Vote to support the programs that make it possible for one to become filthy rich? The answer to “vote accordingly” depends on whether one is bent more towards greed or enlightened self-interest.

  26. 26
    FurryCatHerder says:

    In re Sailorman’s most recent –

    Read this — http://www.wendycarlos.com/colorvis/color.html

    It will blow your mind completely.

  27. 27
    Robert says:

    PG, in part it is folks who hope to earn that someday, but in much larger part it is simply a feeling of not wanting to design the system to be punitive towards the successful. I am not likely, at this stage of life, to go and earn a PhD, but I do not support paying for [X] by putting a [$Y,000] tax on PhD holders, either.

    You don’t have to plan on sitting in the balcony to oppose killing every third person who goes onto the balcony.

  28. 28
    Elusis says:

    PG – I’m hard-pressed to find the study just now as I’m in the middle of writing a chapter on deadline, but I distinctly recall a story on NPR sometime between 2001 and 2007 which addressed your very question. And my ballpark-rememberance was that somewhere between 30% and a majority of Americans reported that they believed they would be in the top (1%? 10%?) of earners someday. Thus the phenomenon of middle-class people voting against their own interests by exempting the well-off from taxation was explained by suggesting that psychologically, most people believed they were going to someday be the very privileged people who they were “protecting” from taxes, and thus they believed they were “protecting” themselves, while actually shifting more of the tax burden to themselves and thus reducing their chances of accruing wealth. It made me feel… very hopeless. “The greatest lie the Devil ever told was the one that said he didn’t exist” – isn’t the quote something along those lines? “Pay no attention to the rich getting richer behind the mirror…”

    The same story reported on anachronisms like WalMart cashiers earning less than $20,000 a year who 1) identified themselves as middle class, and 2) would aggressively say things like “I don’t want those poor people leeching off my tax dollars,” apparently unaware that they paid few taxes due to their low income, and in fact qualified for some forms of government assistance.

    I believe the same story, or a followup, also reported that residents of states that receive more tax money from the feds than they pay in were the most negative about “government handouts” while residents of states that pay more than they receive were the most supportive.

  29. 29
    Sailorman says:

    Generally, we manage risk poorly. On average, people would prefer to gamble for high payoffs rather than accept cost and minimize risk.

    Advocating against high taxes is related to that, I think.

    It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve never approached that level of income (or even half of it) and even at the top of my hoped-for personal career, my family won’t be making that much. So I’m all for taxing the top earners.

  30. 30
    Jake Squid says:

    PG,

    And when I say “aspire,” I mean “have enough belief that this will happen that you would make voting decisions based on how policies would affect you at that level of income, rather than on how they affect you at your current level of income”?

    I tend to think that I’d push even harder for higher tax rates for higher levels of income than I do now were I to reach that income level. I’d have more credibility to a lot of people if what I advocated affected me directly. I’d also have the ability to get my message heard by a wider audience.

  31. 31
    PG says:

    Robert,

    “You don’t have to plan on sitting in the balcony to oppose killing every third person who goes onto the balcony.”

    Right, but Sen. Nelson wasn’t talking about killing people on the balcony. (Which is an analogy that might tell me a lot about your sentiments toward progressive taxation ;-). He specifically claimed that people so strongly hope they will become wealthy someday that they therefore will not vote for politicians who impose higher taxes on the wealthy. I am trying to figure out how common that strong a hope is.

    I mean, I vaguely wish that I’d suddenly become a skinny millionaire, but the current life trajectory isn’t pointing in that direction, and the things that I do based on that wish (aspirationally buying size 2 jeans that I really like when they’re on a fantastic sale) are things that I later realize were foolish things to do.

    Maybe I’ll be a size 2 someday, but there’s plenty of time to buy jeans after I go to the gym more often than to the Mr. Softee truck. Maybe I’ll be a millionaire someday, but there’s plenty of time to vote differently on the tax code then as well. It’s not like we’re amending the Constitution, and the tax code has changed tremendously in the last century (sometimes increasing rates, sometimes decreasing them). Sure, my current aspirational activity benefits others (my sister was happy to take the jeans), but it’s certainly not in my own realistic self-interest (I still had to pay for the jeans).

    Jake,

    You might become more socially active on the subject, but I’m just looking at voting behavior since that is what Sen. Nelson mentioned.

    Also, for a completely random new link, I noticed that an old friend has saved his local overgrown housing association from having a Holocaust revisionist on it.

  32. 32
    Robert says:

    He specifically claimed that people so strongly hope they will become wealthy someday that they therefore will not vote for politicians who impose higher taxes on the wealthy. I am trying to figure out how common that strong a hope is.

    The hope is fairly common, but doesn’t have the motivating power the Senator thinks it does. We’re not opposed to high taxes on the rich because we expect to get rich and are rationally setting up the system we want in place once we get there; we’re opposed to high taxes on the rich because we’re opposed to high taxes on anybody.

  33. 33
    Jake Squid says:

    wrt voting behavior, no it would not change how I vote, I suspect for the reasons that Robert mentions. It comes down to me being on the side of Good and Robert being an unabashed supporter of Evil. I would guess that the general population would vote the same way with some small amount who would swap between the two based on their financial circumstances.

    Remember:
    Jake Squid = Good
    Robert = Evil

  34. 34
    FurryCatHerder says:

    One thing that bugs me about “Tax the rich” (and I’m a firm believer that if one benefits from government, and the rich benefit the heck out of the goverment), one should pay, is that there really needs to be taxation all the way down to the lowest levels of income.

    Yes, at very low levels of income it can become a regressive tax system, but I strongly believe that people need to have a sense of ownership rather than entitlement.

    I also think Progressives and Moderates (I expect no such thing from Liberals as I feel many of them have mush for brains) need to stop framing “progressive taxation” just as “progressive taxation”, but as a fee for the services the wealthy receive that aren’t directly taxed through such things as broker payments into the SIPC. It’s a bit like my belief that corporations shouldn’t be allowed to deduct wages, but rather some multiple of taxes paid by wage earners. The benefits accrue to the company-as-an-entity regardless — stable government, regulatory protections, etc. — but the return to the government is based on taxes paid by employees, not on wages paid overseas.

  35. 35
    FurryCatHerder says:

    My stolen cat(*) is okay — I was getting worried because I’d not seen him around and I was beginning to wonder if he’d been turned into a meal for one of the raptors that have been circling overhead lately.

    Today looks like another scorcher, and I suspect there will be plenty of thermals for the raptors to catch a ride on while looking for food. And now that I know the squirrels are still stealing the last of the peaches on my trees, perhaps there will be justice and a squirrel will get turned into a meal for some hard working bird of prey.

    (*) He’s not really stolen, but his owners don’t take much care of him, so everyone else nearby takes care of him.

  36. 36
    Robert says:

    There’s a legitimate argument, I think even many conservatives agree, for a somewhat progressive tax system. Like FCH, I strongly feel that even the bottom-most elements in the income distribution need to be paying something; the presumption should be shared burden-carrying, not gross redistribution.

    But a modest amount of redistribution is something we can live with, particularly when we tie it to the reality that (up to a point) the more you earn, the more you use the infrastructure and stability the state provides. The guy living in a hobo camp isn’t enjoying much protection from the state; the guy living in a condo on the beach is. Hobo Joe should pay his 5%, but there’s nothing wrong with Condo Carl kicking in 35%.

    It’s when we start to get into take-it-all-and-give-back-crumbs mode that it becomes problematic.

  37. 37
    Sailorman says:

    Hobo Joe should pay his 5%, but there’s nothing wrong with Condo Carl kicking in 35%.

    It’s when we start to get into take-it-all-and-give-back-crumbs mode that it becomes problematic.

    I don’t entirely disagree with you, but it’s an interesting question whether Condo Carl’s total burden is actually only 35%. Sure, Condo Carl has some direct government benefits, but don’t forget things like the differing amount that Condo Carl may contribute to the expensive environmental decline, or to the expensive overfishing, etc.

    But in any case, I’d be happy with a max tax rate of 35% so long as it was applied across the board to all income. Somehow I don’t think that’s what you’re proposing, though.

  38. 38
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Sailorman,

    When hobos start living in $500K+ condos, you can start taxing hobos living in $500K+ condos the same as bankers.

    And Robert, I =am= a Conservative. I just not a know-nothing learned-everything-from-Rush-Dumbaugh neoconservative. Of course Conservatives believe in taxation based on use of services. It’s called “Paying your own way.”

    As I’ve said countless times before, the modern neoconservative movement was founded mostly by racist, classist, rich whites as a way to escape the Progressive / Civil-Rights-Equality movement that was taking over the DNC. It’s not a secret, even. It’s why neoconservatives act so much like Dixiecrats — they ARE Dixiecrats!!!

  39. 39
    PG says:

    FCH,

    Out of curiosity: with what part of the conservative tradition do you identify? I’d consider a lot of what you’ve said about economic issues to fit with Burke (e.g. viewing taxes as being, as Holmes said, the price we pay for civilization), except on social issues you do not seem to be inclined to very slow, gradual change.

  40. 40
    Sailorman says:

    FCH, you read me wrong or I wrote poorly: I don’t mean that the hobo should pay 35% (that’s why I said “max tax rate” not flat tax rate) but rather that Condo Dude shouldn’t be able to exempt some or most of his income from that 35% bracket. I know plenty of very very rich people and they don’t pay nearly as much tax as they should.

  41. 41
    PG says:

    FCH,

    Yeah, I read Sailorman as saying that we should flatten the rates (as occurred in the 1986 tax reform) such that there aren’t special rates for dividends, capital gains, etc. There’s a huge benefit to people who work in private equity and hedge funds because they aren’t paid much in “wages,” rather most of their money comes from capital gains in the fund, which are taxed at a much lower rate than earned income is.

  42. 42
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    I don’t know what economic “tradition” I follow. I cut my earliest teeth on Louisiana politics, which is just plain BIZARRE. I hesitate to admit I hung out with LaRouche-ites in the late 70′s and early 80′s (I’ve met Lyn more than once, he is responsible for my liking Cognac, and a few other things), but that’s where a lot of my beliefs were formed.

    I was a hard-core GOP activist through Reagan’s second term. At first, Newt and the rest of the neocons didn’t seem like a total threat, and with the lefties the DNC kept throwing out for election, I did a “Less of Two Evils” decision. Clinton’s presidency worked because he wasn’t a member of the Tip O’Neil Big Giant Expanding Mess.

    The reason flattening the tax code worked in ’86 had nothing to do with “flattening” it, but everything to do with incremental risk and return. There’s a point where earning that next dollar is just a dumb idea, and it was definitely higher than 35 or 40%. It definitely wasn’t rocket science — flat and too low, not enough revenue; flat and too high, lack of incentive to innovate.

    As for the social aspects, I am not what one would consider a “Social Conservative”. Or at least, I’m not a “Social Neoconservative.” Remember that Barry Goldwater, on the subject of gays in the military said that essentially, gays are citizens, citizens have an obligation to protect and defend the State, therefore not only MAY gays serve (if they so choose), but in the event of conscription, gays MUST serve.

    I’m that kind of Social Conservative — the Constitution says equality under the law is the Law of the Land, so, what’s the fucking problem?

    Now, for things that aren’t Constitutional rights — sure, let’s have some slow experimentation. After all, we are a Federal Republic, not something else.

  43. 43
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Sailorman,

    Thanks for the clarification. However, in the case of Condo Dude, I’d prefer to see a progressive property tax structure. Which is what I was getting at, so I guess I was being equally unclear. The millage on the $500K condo needs to be higher, just because it’s a $500K condo. I’ve been in rich neighborhoods, and I’ve been in poor neighborhoods, and there’s a big difference in the level of services provided.

  44. 44
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG wrote in a different thread –

    Y’all have probably seen this already, but this video captures exactly what happened in this thread: criticism of a particular argument as racist gets turned into someone feeling like she as a person is being called racist — and that shuts down any hope of discussion.

    The discussion was shutdown with pretty much the first response, and it continued to be shutdown with every response after that. Calling something “racist” might pass for an argument in and around your circles, it doesn’t in mine.

    If anything, within the dominant heterosexist culture, saying “Black voters helped pass Prop 8″ is neither a mischaracterization on a factual level, nor something that would disadvantage the Black community. That it hasn’t gotten the GOP cozying up to Black voters like Pavlov’s Dogs probably reflects neoconservative hatred for all minorities rather than particular hatred in the neoconservative world for queers.

  45. 45
    Jake Squid says:

    There’s a point where earning that next dollar is just a dumb idea, and it was definitely higher than 35 or 40%.

    Do you have any cites for this claim? I’ve seen this claim a lot, but I’ve never seen supporting data.

  46. 46
    PG says:

    The top marginal rate for 1986 (i.e. before the reform went into effect) was 50% kicking in at $171,580. So of every dollar you made over $171,580, the feds took half. The top marginal rate for 1987 was 38.5% kicking in at $90,000.

    Just to re-use a point I was making on another blog, when people talk about how we had a top marginal rate of 90+% in the Eisenhower Administration, this is what they’re referencing: The top marginal rate was 91% for income over $400,000 in 1950. I think $400k in 1950 dollars is about $3.5 mil in 2008 dollars. That’s not the top 1% of households; that’s like the top 0.001%. Our tax rates used to be a lot more progressive, in that we had more brackets to account for the difference between people who were wealthy (which I would consider someone with $400k annual income in 2008 dollars to be) and those who were rich ($3.5mil annual income in 2008 $).

    Most of the few people who make that much money each year can’t actually do much to *prevent* making the next dollar over the $3.5mil — they’re doing stuff like being top management at Fortune 500 companies, running investment entities, being partners at the top 10 law firms in the country. It’s not like they’re working at McD’s and deciding whether or not to take an extra shift that week. In most jobs where you are making that kind of money, you don’t get paid on an hour or per-task basis, and you either put in the necessary time to do the job right, or you’re gone completely. There’s not functionally much of a choice between making $3.5mil versus $3.6mil for such earners.

    The only exception of which I know might be people working in the arts; when Ronald Reagan was making movies during the Eisenhower Administration, he probably could choose whether his income would bump up into the next bracket just based on whether he pushed himself to do another movie that year or took some time to read scripts. It doesn’t even apply to people in sports; Ben Bradley didn’t have the option of not playing the full season for the Knicks. He was an employee of the team and would play when told to do so. But with all due respect to people in the arts, I’m not really worried about whether we lost another Reagan movie due to high marginal tax rates.

  47. 47
    RonF says:

    However, in the case of Condo Dude, I’d prefer to see a progressive property tax structure.

    I’d prefer to see a no property tax structure – at least, on one’s primary residence.

    1) Here in Illinois school funding is tied to property taxes. By law the state only has to provide 50% of school funding, and the rest comes from local taxes. Local taxes do not include income taxes, it’s all either sales tax or property tax. Understand as well that in practice the state does not meet it’s Constitutional burden and it’s share of the funding is actually less than 50%.

    So what happens? Areas of low property values and low commercial activity have low tax revenues. The schools thus get low funding. That affects the quality of the schools. So people who have money to spend move to places with higher property values (and concomitant higher commerical activity) that thus have better funded schools. The places they moved from are left with lower income people who can’t afford to either build new housing or improve their existing housing. Property values and commerical activity stay low. In biochemistry we call that a negative feedback loop. Services like law enforcement, fire protection, mosquito abatement (Chicago was built on a swamp), etc., etc. are similarly funded and affected. It seems to me that the best way to break this loop is to back off the reliance on property taxes and even sales taxes and get a much higher floor level of funding from State income taxes.

    Not a statement you’ll see me make much.

    But education is essential to the ability of people to become productive citizens that don’t need to be supported by the State (meaning taxpayers) and thus become and remain dependent on it and who will vote to increase dependence on it. Certainly local residents should be able to contribute money to improve their schools, and if that means that wealthy people can put more money into their schools than poor people, fine – that’s their reward for being productive and earning money. But the State should provide all of the essentials for education.

    There are those who profess conservative values who hold that the State should have no role in education, that all schooling should be private. I do not agree. I do hold that the State should not restrict private schooling, however, except to ensure that it meets minimum standards of achievement, ensuring that it’s graduates can read and write English, handle at least algebra in math, find Alaska on a map, pass a comprehension test on the Constitution and American history, etc. However, the State should NOT be able to require conformance to various social ideals.

    2) When the State imposes property taxes on an individual and resorts to eviction and tax sales when those taxes are not paid, then private property ownership is devalued. The State becomes the true owner of the property, which is anathema. The State should not own property, except for that property that is essential to its functions (police stations, fire houses, military bases, etc.) or that can truly be considered to be held in trust for everyone (e.g., parks). You end up with people working hard to earn money to purchase property only to have that property taken from them if their income drops.

    For example; right now my property taxes are almost the equal of my mortgage payment – which was certainly not the case when I bought the property 23 years ago. If taxes keep going up as they have been and my income goes down when I retire, I can forsee a time when I cannot afford the taxes and lose my home to the State. The primary purpose of private property is to meet the needs and desires of the property owner, not to provide funding for the State.

  48. 48
    RonF says:

    Remember:
    Jake Squid = Good
    Robert = Evil

    Voldemort for President!

  49. 49
    RonF says:

    It doesn’t even apply to people in sports; Ben Bradley didn’t have the option of not playing the full season for the Knicks. He was an employee of the team and would play when told to do so.

    Follow the NBA much, PG? There’s been a number of players who have quit on their team – a couple have even refused to play and demanded trades. As a Red Sox fan I can also cite Manny Ramirez, who did virtually the same thing.

  50. 50
    FurryCatHerder says:

    RonF,

    What you’ve identified is a mis-application of “Taxation”. “Property” doesn’t benefit from education. “Property” benefits from the services that preserve and protect “Property”. Businesses are the ones who benefit from an educated workforce, and not just the businesses that are in a particular school district.

  51. 51
    PG says:

    RonF,

    [rolls eyes] My point was that the players don’t get to choose whether they want to make a specified amount of money based on how productive they are (i.e. how many games they play). Yes, anyone can quit her job at any time, including CEOs, hedge fund managers and law firm partners. But such quitting curtails income entirely and also can affect one’s ability to get a job in the future — an athlete who repeatedly decided that he’d had enough of playing for one season would have trouble getting hired by a new team, no matter how talented he was, because no team can afford that much of an unreliable diva.

  52. 52
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    You’re unaware of deferred compensation packages? No one has to quit their job to reduce their pay — just “defer” it.

  53. 53
    Jake Squid says:

    As a Red Sox fan I can also cite Manny Ramirez, who did virtually the same thing.

    RonF,

    I hate that assertion about Ramirez. The statistics simply do not back this up. Over his last months on the Red Sox, Ramirez performed well by the standards he’d set over the course of his time with Boston. Compare what he did for the Red Sox in 2008 to his seasons in ’05 & ’06. His wOBA was down for Boston in 2008, but was still top ten among hitters in the AL. His WPA in 2008 was 4th in the American League. The only poor season, for him, that he had with the Red Sox was 2007. Even in that year he was worth +1 WAR. In his partial 2008 season, Ramirez was a +3.2 WAR player. A 3 WAR player is a star.

    Manny Ramirez did not quit on the Red Sox in 2008 and the statistics prove this to be true. You can dislike Ramirez for a myriad of reasons, but that is not one of them. Please stop perpetuating this falsehood.

  54. 54
    Jake Squid says:

    … Ben Bradley didn’t have the option of not playing the full season for the Knicks.

    I’m pretty sure you mean Bill Bradley.

    It looks like I’m in full on sportsgeek mode today.

  55. 55
    PG says:

    FCH,

    You can do a deferred compensation package to reduce your pay for a given year or set of years, but you’re still going to have to pay taxes on it eventually. Admittedly, if you plan to work at the high-pressure job for only a few years and then go into government/public interest or just stop working entirely, you can get your compensation evened out, but that’s not hugely common except among career politicians who occasionally cycle back and forth between lobbying and being in government. And if you drop dead while you’re still working at that job and it goes into your estate, it will be taxed at a higher rate than if you had just declared it each year.

  56. 56
    Jake Squid says:

    In his partial 2008 season, Ramirez was a +3.2 WAR player. A 3 WAR player is a star.

    To make this a little bit more clear:
    WAR is a cumulative statistic. This means that in the almost 2/3 of a season that he played for Boston in 2008 he was as valuable as a star player who played a full season. If you adjust for a seasonal value, Ramirez was playing at the rate of a 4.8 WAR player. A superstar. Also, this was done in his age 36 season. At age 36 the inevitable decline in skills, especially for power hitters, will usually at least be beginning to show. As a 36 year old with declining skills (his WAR in his age 30 through 35 years w/ the Red Sox: 6.0, 7.3, 5.1, 4.3, 3.9 and 0.9) he was putting up All-Star numbers.

    This is not quitting on one’s team.

    I would also like to point you to this wonderful refutation of the myth that Manny Ramirez “quit” on his team at Baseball Prospectus:
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1052

  57. 57
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    401 k) plans are a form of deferred compensation plan — that’s why the cap on 401 k) contributions keeps popping up as a lobbyist issue. Getting rid of the cap is a very effective way of avoiding bracket creep.

    There are also ways to defer stock market “compensation” by investing in “capital appreciation” mutual funds, as well as holding assets long term.

    Yes, at the obscenely well paid level of compensation, taxes can become hard to avoid, but by that time, I’m pretty sure as much taxes have been avoided as possible.

  58. 58
    Ampersand says:

    Hey, FCH, can you please tone down some of your comments a little? (Look to avoid comments like suggesting that we shouldn’t expect much from liberals because of their mushy brains, or “Rush Dumbaugh,” etc.. Plus, probably best to avoid using “dumb” as an insult.)

  59. 59
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Amp,

    I’m not sure saying not to expect much from Liberals because of pie-in-the-sky (can I say “Pie”?), unworkable, uneducated ideologies is all that different from all the attacks that take place against Neo-Cons. I didn’t expect an understanding of economics from Liberals, and I’ve never been disappointed.

    Do you REALLY expect an enlightened political understanding from “Focus On The Family”, “Moral Majority” or “Concerned Women for America”?

    And I’m certainly not talking about Progressives who still call themselves Liberals because they don’t know any better. If someone prefers Bill Clinton’s approach to Tip O’Neil’s, they might just be a Progressive.

    As for “Dumbaugh” — I think it’s less of an insult to anyone who might have been offended by the title of Sen. Franken’s book — “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations”

  60. 60
    Ampersand says:

    FCH, there’s a big difference between saying “liberals have mushy thinking on economics, imo” and saying liberals have mush for brains. If you can’t grok the difference, then you shouldn’t post here.

    I wasn’t offended, per se, by “Dumbaugh,” it’s just the sort of rhetoric that I find boring and trite and would rather see less of here on “Alas.” (I hate Franken’s book title because it used “fat” as a pejorative, but what the hell does that have to do with moderation on “Alas”?)

    Overall, I wish your attitude was less weaving and dodging and making excuses, and more taking responsibility for your own choices and agreeing to try and do better.

  61. 61
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Barry,

    I gladly take responsibility for my choices. My experience is that my beliefs don’t fit into nice, little, buckets and so people try to ascribe things to my beliefs that I don’t believe. That’s usually when all the “weaving and dodging and making excuses” happens — my trying to work around what other people want to pretend I believe. Because I look like a “Conservative” people assume I’m a “Neo-Conservative”, stupid beliefs and all.

    So far the only person who has ASKED me what I believe has been PG. The biggest key to understanding is actually ASKING, not TELLING.

  62. 62
    Ampersand says:

    That’s usually when all the “weaving and dodging and making excuses” happens — my trying to work around what other people want to pretend I believe. Because I look like a “Conservative” people assume I’m a “Neo-Conservative”, stupid beliefs and all.

    In the particular case which I was referring to, the “weaving and dodging” in question was when I asked you to avoid rhetoric like “many liberals have mush for brains” and “dumbaugh” and you responded by talking about pie-in-the-sky ideology and Al Franken’s book.

  63. 63
    PG says:

    What is the difference between liberals and progressives, and am I automatically the latter if I have a degree in economics?

  64. 64
    Myca says:

    Hey, FCH. Please don’t use derogatory language.

    This is moderation.

    This is can be a somewhat loose guideline. For example, calling someone who opposes equality for gay people a homophobe is generally acceptable, though many would consider it derogatory. Calling that same person a fucking asshole would not be as acceptable.

    I think ‘mush-for-brains’ type comments fall in the second category. If you believe that the political/economic/whatever thinking of some group of people tends to be faulty, please explain that in detail, and do so without using insulting words.

    —Myca

  65. 65
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    I think the current common definition of “Liberal” is “Social Liberal”, circa about the time of the Great Depression. My understanding of where “Progressive” is at today is liberalism in the personal domain, vis a vis, Classical Liberalism with limits on the unbridled “social welfare” aspects — the “Entitlement Society” mentality that marked the late 1970′s Democratic Party. A better balance of “positive” and “negative” liberties than Social Liberals, without the extremes of, say, Libertarians or Neo-Conservatives. Progressives, IMHO, place more emphasis on personal accountability (see the last round of Welfare reforms) than Social Liberals without the going so far as Classical Liberals and allowing everyone to have the right to fail. I think of it as a “guard rail” rather than a “safety net”.

    I don’t think having a degree in Economics prevents anyone from being a Social Liberal. After all, there are people with degrees in the hard sciences who are New Earth Creationists …

  66. 66
    PG says:

    FCH, you can have a degree in chemistry without understanding evolution or geology. You seemed to be saying that liberals simply do not understand economics, rather acknowledging that they might apply a different analysis than you do.

  67. 67
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    I don’t think any analysis that results in an unworkable solution is a “good” one. Doing that over and over again tells me that the person is either engaged in wishful thinking or just doesn’t understand the subject matter.

    In terms of Economics, I’d say that the Progressive movement differs from (Social) Liberalism in that it has recognized that there’s a delicate balance between the “Hand-out” and “Entitlement” mentality of the pre-Clinton DNC (setting that as sort of the chronological starting point of a viable Progressive movement in the DNC) and a “Hand-up”.

    Both Social Liberals (Roosevelt, Johnson, O’Neil, etc) and Classical Liberals (Locke, Jefferson, Madison, etc) tends towards extremes that are ultimately harmful, economically. As with many things in life, the proper balance between government control (including wealth redistribution schemes, welfare and entitlement programs) and laissez-faire economics (including to the extreme of allowing monopolies and unbridled accumulation of wealth and economic power) can be a fine line and not being married to a specific ideology is — IMHO — indicative of being “knowledgeable” while clinging to either extreme is more indicative of being “clueless, having “mushing thinking”, overly idealistic.

    I recognize that a Social Liberal “analysis” that punitive taxation to perform wealth redistribution in the name of “social equality” is an “analysis”. I think the repeated failure of that approach to work pretty much proves that, no, a person who is repeatedly coming up with “raise taxes on the `rich’” doesn’t know their subject matter. The opposite is also true — Rush Limbaugh repeatedly states that lowering taxes has worked every time it’s been tried without acknowledging that it was pretty much tried once on a scale that would have had an economic impact, and then only because taxes were entirely too high in the areas where the were reduced.

    Or stated simply, a person who can acknowledge that there is a time to stimulate the supply side, and a time to stimulate the demand side, would be “clueful”, while someone who felt that only supply side, or only demand side stimulus was appropriate is “clueless”. QED, Rush Limbaugh is clueless.

  68. 68
    PG says:

    FCH,

    What were the extremes to which Roosevelt (I assume you mean FDR, not TR) went with regard to entitlements?

    What do you consider “punitive” taxation? (Please put in 2008/09 dollars.)

    I think the repeated failure of that approach to work pretty much proves that, no, a person who is repeatedly coming up with “raise taxes on the `rich’” doesn’t know their subject matter.

    When do you consider that approach to have been put into practice? What do you deem to be the indications that it was a “repeated failure”?

    it was pretty much tried once on a scale that would have had an economic impact, and then only because taxes were entirely too high in the areas where the were reduced.

    When was that? Kennedy? Reagan?

    When is the time to stimulate the supply side? I.e., when has that been effective? And how do you measure effectiveness?

  69. 69
    FurryCatHerder says:

    PG,

    Care to try breaking my post down into what you agree with and what you disagree with? Not dodging or weaving, just don’t want to write a term paper. And not convinced you’re not playing Devil’s Advocate trying to get me to write one.

    I can answer a few of your questions quickly, but I’m not going to write a term paper for someone who seems to deny reality or perhaps wish to play games.

    For example, supply and demand side stimulation both work to correct imbalances in supply or demand. Excessive demand tends to inflate prices, excessive supply tends to deflate prices. Too much supply can be corrected by fiscal polices that restrict supply growth, or by fiscal policies that stimulate demand growth. “Credit” is the present tool du jour, as well as tax incentives, penalties, and the like. Take your pick, but they both have consequences. Likewise, too much demand can be corrected by restricting or stimulating the opposite sides, respectively.

    As for the Kennedy versus Reagan cuts, the Kennedy cuts provided SOME relief, but recall that there were a string of recessions all the way through to the Carter recession of the late 1970′s, early 1980′s. So, yes, lowering taxes from “obscenely high” to “extremely high” will stimulate the supply side (increased capital retention), but without enough stimulus on the supply side, job growth will eventually tank, innovation is stiffled, blah, blah, blah.

  70. 70
    PG says:

    FCH,

    As for the Kennedy versus Reagan cuts, the Kennedy cuts provided SOME relief, but recall that there were a string of recessions all the way through to the Carter recession of the late 1970’s, early 1980’s.

    Now I’m confused by what you consider recessions, if you believe they were essentially continuous from JFK until the 1986 tax reform took effect. This doesn’t fit with data on real GDP or unemployment, so what are you using as the basis for this claim?

    Care to try breaking my post down into what you agree with and what you disagree with?

    Extremes bad; moderation good. I agree with that. I’d just like to get some specifics to flesh out the platitudes. If someone asked me if I agreed with the idea that democracy is good and constitutions should be amendable, I’d say yes, but that doesn’t mean I think California’s process of constitutional amendment is sound and desirable. Meaningful agreement is always in the details, and you mostly seem to be talking about what you’re against rather than specifically what you are for. So I’ll reiterate my questions:

    What do you consider “punitive” taxation? (Please put in 2008/09 dollars.)

    When do you consider that [“raise taxes on the `rich’”] approach to have been put into practice? What do you deem to be the indications that it was a “repeated failure”?

    When has that [stimulating the supply side] been effective? And how do you measure effectiveness?

    someone who seems to deny reality

    Glad to see you took Amp’s admonition @58 to heart.

  71. 71
    FurryCatHerder says:

    @ 70:

    1). The number of recessions between, say 1964 and 1986. You do know that the 60′s started and ended with one, right? The 70′s? Market was sideways for several year, massive inflation during Nixon and Ford’s administrations (Remember Nixon’s “Wage and Price Controls” and Ford’s “WIN — Whip Inflation Now” campaign?), extending into Carter’s administration, culminating in the recession which started at the end of his administration.

    2). “Punitive” isn’t a dollar amount, it’s a behavior modification. It’s also not a dollar amount, it’s a tax bracket and marginal rate, as well as the rest of the policies — the working class and middle class paying little to no taxes, while complaining that the upper class doesn’t pay enough. The phrase “Tax the rich” is usually indicative of punitive tax policies. Service-based taxes, even in the abstract, aren’t. Don’t like the taxes? How about we cut your services, or you cut your consumption (see Motor Fuels Tax supported highway systems).

    3). Supply-side stimulus works whenever supply-constrained inflation, or capital-constrained lack of expansion is happening. For example, capital programs for “green technologies” are, in part, supply-side stimulus. Austin Energy is seeing high rates of inflation for “green power” because demand is outstripping supply (transmission line capacity, in this instance). Supply-side stimulus — capital infusions for producers and transmission line owners — will bring “green power” costs back into line. One of the working definitions of “Inflation” is “too much money chasing too few goods and services.” QED, stimulating the growth in goods and services (supply-side) is a perfectly workable solution, and one that is frequently used to great success.

  72. 72
    PG says:

    @ 71,

    (1) Yes, there was a 10-month recession April 1960–Feb 1961, and an 11-month recession Dec 1969–Nov 1970. Before we ever had a federal income tax, back in the 1800s and early 1900s, recessions (or Panics, as they were called) would last years.

    The recessions between 1964 and 1986, a 22-year span, were Dec 1969–Nov 1970 (a mild recession), Nov. 1973– March 1975 (oil crisis), Jan-July 1980 and July 1981–Nov 1982. (This last often is considered more like a single “double dip” or “W” recession.) So about three recessions, two fairly serious. Since the 1986 tax reform, we have recessions July 1990–March 1991 (causing Bush I to lose office), Mar-Nov 2001 (a mild recession), and Dec 2007-present (like to be similar to the early 1980s recession, i.e. a “double-dip” with high rates of unemployment). So about three recessions, two fairly serious.

    I am confused as to what has been proven, by this review of post-WWII economic history, about Kennedy’s tax cuts not having been as effective as Reagan’s.

    (2) If you are describing a tax bracket, you have to use dollars in order to state the income level to which a rate applies. I was asking that you describe what you consider the lowest-yet-still-punitive top marginal rate and relevant bracket using 2008/09 dollars.

    (3) So your example of an effective supply-side stimulus is “capital programs for ‘green technologies’”? I have to admit that I’d erroneously assumed you’d provide an example of a supply-side stimulus that was actually opposed by the mush-brained liberals, perhaps one promoted by Reagan (who to my knowledge did not support such programs).

  73. 74
    PG says:

    Jake,

    I think the article potentially overestimates Iqbal’s impact. Iqbal is essentially just stating clearly that the pleading requirements established in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (the case linked in the sentence “Things started to change two years ago, when the Supreme Court found a complaint in an antitrust suit implausible.”) are applicable to ALL federal suits. I suspect Souter and Breyer, who wrote and signed onto the majority opinion in Twombly respectively, are just worried about having a standard that they thought was OK for antitrust lawsuits being applied to claims of fundamental rights violations.

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