A Theory On the Tea Party Republicans and the Debt Ceiling

The GOP has been ravenous about tax cuts since the Reagan era began.

This GOP doesn’t put much value in our government, especially any money the government spends (outside of military spending).

Defaulting on our debt would make it much, much harder for the government to borrow in the future because investors would be much less reluctant to hold U.S. Treasuries.

Making it harder to borrow would make it harder for the government to spend money which, in turn, would require lower taxation.

A part of me thinks this is the logic behind the Tea Party Republicans. It makes sense in their twisted, anti-taxation minds.

Matt Yglesias Makes the Libertarian Tax Foundation Punch Itself In the Face With Its Own Study

Another day, another weird map from a libertarian group that seems designed to debunk libertarianism. Last time it was strange assertions about freedom, today it’s the Tax Foundation explaining why there are no successful businesses in California or New York.

From another Matt Yglesias piece on the same study:

Two ways to think about this.  One is that taxes fund services, so low-tax juridictions gain an edge that’s offset by a lack of amenities. Of course having high taxes and then wasting the money on nonsense is going to be a problem. I wonder if you looked specifically at places that spend a lot of money on non-service items (legacy pension costs or interest on old bonds) you might see an impact there.

The other is just that most jobs and businesses really aren’t that mobile. The vastmajority of people work in local service provision. That’s to say they work at medical facilites or restaurants or schools or else they drive cabs or fix roofs. You have to do that stuff where your customers are.  Idaho may be a great place to open a restaurant, tax-wise, but the reality is that there are only so many customers for a restaurant in Boise. If you go to Chicago or Dallas you’ll find a much deeper market.

On Economic Freedom and “Socialism”

In response to the Heritage Foundation’s ridonkulous “Index  of Economic Freedom,” Wilkinson:
…it’s insane that Americans who profess to care about economic freedom fixate on government spending.

Intuitive factor analysis seems like it would suggest that government spending is not part of a coherent construct of “economic freedom”. If a large portion of spending reflects services like health care that most citizens of a country have elected to “buy” through government, then in some sense this spending is an expression of economic freedom. If the government system of provision works by prohibiting or otherwise regulating a private market, THAT’s a restriction on economic freedom, but then the regulatory measures ought to already pick that up.

One obvious hypothesis is that Denmark and Canada do so well on other measures of economic freedom, and beat the US overall, BECAUSE of government spending. But of course it’s not spending per se, but the composition of spending. The U.S. squanders trillions on feckless imperialism, which only makes things worse. However, really reliable universal health care and social insurance remove much of the risk of low-regulation dynamism and so reduce electoral opposition to it.

… How would offering a free choice restrict economic freedom? Crowds out private business? Tax burden? The index already captures tax burden (then double counts it in govt spending). Would be useful to have an independent estimate of crowding out in the index. Some public spending is competitive with private investment and some is complementary, so you’d want to tease it out.

Nasty Government Bug Found


Just go straight to the most obvious solution: reboot.

If it doesn’t work, you might want to try reformatting the system.

Have you tried Linux?

source: http://bit.ly/19AdQdn

Burn It All Down, cont.

As much as part of me wants to see a resolution in this government shut down and the coming debt ceiling, now that the GOP has set the timer on the bomb, any non-clean CR deal would be capitulation to blackmail and government terrorists.

Quite obviously, there is no way that those negotiations could take place within the short amount of time that Congress has to act on the debt ceiling, and it would be next to largely unsustainable for the government shutdown to continue for the length of time that such negotiations are likely to take.

Remember what happened when congress refused to hold up (bail out) the financial markets when it was obvious they were about to collapse? I’m sensing we’re going to see the same thing happen here.

The Confederacy Will Rise Again

Go back far enough and you’ll quickly realize how we got to where we are now.

The Tea Party Republicans who are willing to disrupt the world markets in a radical coup of governing power in congress have always been a group inspired by the repeated right-ward lurches against taxation, against diversity, and against public goods.

Look back as far as the 80s to see when things started to turn and parts of the U.S. began lusting over shrinking the size of government as much as possible. Since then, the wealthy elite in the U.S. have been fomenting this war against the federal government and any increase in government expenditure that wasn’t defense-related.

These so-called conservatives take to heart the idea that government should be as small as possible, so the idea that the government would default wouldn’t bother them too much. Why would they care about marring something they don’t hold much value in anyway?

At least, that’s the ultimate conclusion behind the anti-taxation, anti-diversity, and anti-public goods rhetoric that the conservative movements have fostered in the last several decades.

The conservative wealthy elite in the U.S. made one huge mistake in all of this: they believed that the people they were galvanizing had similar interests. The wealthy thought these people were on their side. Now, however, we see that corporations, and even small businesses, don’t really have as much as stranglehold over them anymore. They’re a dog bred to kill but it’s turned on its master.

There’s something even deeper going on here. Bruce Bartlett who served as a domestic policy adviser for President Ronald Reagan and a Treasury official under President G. H. W. Bush wrote a piece for the Financial Times detailing how people got the Southern Strategy all wrong. The Republican Party didn’t take over the south – the south took over the Republican Party. This takeover has become more evident as time went on. Liberals got it all wrong – the tail (the south) wasn’t wagging the dog (the Republican Party) – the dog was the south and the tail was the Republican Party. Arguably, it’s been a happy, mutual relationship so far, but now the south has metamorphosed the Republican Party into a neo-Confederate party which serves the whims of the south above all else.

The membership of the Tea Party holds a disdain for the America they have come to live with. They haven’t accepted that we have quasi-socialist health care for the elderly and for the poor, a quasi-socialist welfare net for the poor and needy, the support for the sciences which aren’t market-based, and tell businesses and individual people who to operate and live their lives based upon socially accepted norms and rules that are otherwise arguably reasonable.

Here’s Josh Eidelson interviewing Doug Henwood:

You’ll hear some conservatives argue that the Tea Party represents a different politics, less “pro-business” than the GOP we knew – instead, consistently committed to “limited government” in ways that can be counter to business interests. To what extent is that just spin, or a real divide?

 It’s a kind of regional and inter-class battle. I think, to use the Marxist language, [the Tea Partyers] represent an enraged provincial petit bourgeois that feel that they are seeing society change in ways that they don’t like. They look at things like Obamacare and see that as a way of subsidizing a minority electoral bloc that will push the government in ways that they don’t like. These are the small-town worthies, like the local car dealers — people who are millionaires, but not billionaires. They are big wheels in their local communities, but not on a national level. And then you have ideological right-wingers like the Koch brothers who use these folks very effectively.

To some degree the Big Business interests are paying a price for having relied on these characters in the first place. The last thing that Big Business wants to see is something that threatens the status of Treasury bonds. They don’t want to threaten the status of the dollar as reserve currency. They don’t want to rock the image of the United States as the most stable capitalist power in the world. Even though the financial crisis essentially originated here, money still flowed to the United States then because it seemed safer than everywhere else. The big boys don’t want to endanger that status.

The fact that it’s even a possibility is just surreal. The American elite has lost control, or is losing control, of some of the core mechanisms of its power. And I think the rest of the world must watch with jaw hanging down. And I think a lot of the Tea Party types either don’t care about the risk of default, or don’t believe that anything serious can emerge from a serious default.

They have never really put too much value in the – what is now called – liberal social landscape of America. So why would they relent and save the United States government from itself? It’s the government that forced them to shut down their confederate protests and surrender. Now they have us right where they want us.

Success Is One Percent Perspiration, Ninety-nine Percent Luck

Oh Gawker:

Two weeks ago The New York Observer, once a scrappy ankle-biter of gentrified Manhattan, published an utterly unaware column by 22-year-old New School grad Polly Mosendz about how she bought a $250,000 Manhattan apartment all by herself (and a parental nest egg of $50,000). The message was: you can do this, too! Mosendz even described herself as “normal.”

However, two very important details in the column appear to be factually untrue. The apartment, located in Greenwich Village, did not cost $250,000. According to city property records, Mosendz paid $345,000 for the apartment. The same records indicate that Mosendz did not buy the property all by herself. Her grandmother, Ludmila Lapchyk, served as a co-signer — though its unclear whether Lapchyk herself contributed the $95,000 difference.

The problem some people seem to be avoiding or incapable of understanding is that New York City has been rapidly turning into a city predominantly in existence for the wealthy and no one else.

With the astronomical increase in rents in the city, and the increase in owning a home, due to demand to live in NYC because it’s a rapidly growing economy, being able to move from poverty to middle-class is near impossible, nor is it much easier to go from middle-class to being able to afford your own NYC apartment like this girl was able to.

This really has nothing to do with this person in specific. What people should be talking about is the growing trend of society being designed to primarily and singularly serve the needs of the affluent.

Some people may praise Bloomberg, but no one should. He has done some good work but the fact remains that he has set the stage for a world in which NYC is a city only the affluent can live in. This is not entirely his fault since the recession has increased demand to live in NYC since population centers tend to be the places where job creation is strongest, but he has worked hard to make a city richer without doing enough to make the lower and middle classes richer.

Like I said, it can’t all be blamed on Bloomberg. This is really a national problem. When 95% of the recovery since the crash in 2008 is sucked up and kept within the top 5%, a lot of that 5% is going to be from NYC. That means NYC is richer, but the general public isn’t.

New York City is a place where you can afford to live there if you have money but otherwise you cannot live there (without a lot of subsidies). It’s always been this way, but it’s become like that more and more. Bloomberg has been building more rent-limited residences but a lot of those residences are going to eventually not be rent-controlled any longer, effectively ejecting those people from their homes because they will not be able to afford to live there any longer.

What’s happening in NYC is a story of what’s happening throughout the entire nation. Wealth is accumulating more and more in the hands of the few while wages and incomes stagnate, if at all move upward (and in many cases downwards), for the rest.

Mosendz wouldn’t be such a huge deal if it wasn’t for the fact that people are outraged at the outrageous wealth accumulation. People just wouldn’t care. We wouldn’t be looking for things to get mad about as much because we would be out doing more things and enjoying life a little bit more.

Instead, we get to be jealous and envious that Mosendz gets to be set up pretty much for life but the rest of the country is destined to live in a beat up van down by the river.

Transmission of wealth down from parent to child should not be discouraged.

This transmission of wealth isn’t outrageous. What is truly outrageous is when wealthy people do it and provide their child with an outset advantage over others beyond the imaginable. I’m not saying that it should be discouraged (though I afford that we should have a death tax starting at some point since it is an exchange of money much like a gift), but it’s understandable that people get upset about it when it’s big money changing hands.

The reason is explained by clneslmon in the comments of the link.. It makes a lie of the concept of a just world. The beneficiaries of good fortune often do nothing to earn it yet there are ideological parties who would argue that there is such a thing. We pretend our world is a meritocratic world in which our labors may or my not pay off but we have all have an opportunity, but we don’t all have an opportunity. In fact, most people have very few opportunities while others have more opportunities afforded them through the wealth handed down to them than hundreds of their peers put together.

The idea that people don’t need public services such as Social Security, Medicaid, and all forms of welfare because it’s taking from one to give to another – theft to aide the undeserving – requires us to have a meritocratic society where hard work and a little bit of luck produces wealth and success. We don’t have that. What we have is a society where it’s pure luck with some work required.

That is not to say that many who succeed and do better than their parents did aren’t hard workers and just lucked out, but most of it is luck, if not half luck and half sweat. Otherwise, we’d have a whole lot more people with decent incomes instead of what we have now: a crumbling empire built on labor.

Walter Fucking White

Warning: plenty of fucks readily given.

Are people so desperate for happy endings in this messed up time that we’re cheering for a serial murderer to find happiness and solidarity with his serial killing girlfriend?

And then there’s the desire to see a serial murderer and drug kingpin get away with it, destroy all his enemies and continue being a bad-ass.

Despite the latter not really being a happy ending to most, it is to those attached to these characters.

People are upset about the season ending of Dexter because they want happy endings. We’re desperate for a happy ending. Suicide rates have gone up since the recession began and people feel like there’s no happy ending to all of this. They know their lives are going to be tougher and less plentiful than their parents’ or their grandparents and it’s become desperation to see a happy ending. Somewhere. Anywhere. In any way possible.

Walter White’s is the story of the downtrodden middle class who decides to buck the destiny he’s forced into by society and its ethical deficits and instead of lying down, he bucks the process and says “fuck you” to what society expects of him.

In this latest episode, you see the proprietors of this social ethic, this supposed order, the guys who fucked him over first and foremost when they left him out of the business they were starting, talking about how insignificant he was in the creation of that company. They downplay his (actually significant) work in its creation to save face now that he’s known as a drug kingpin. They had fucked him over earlier on in the show, and now they’re doing it all over again. Yeah, the opportunity to make something of himself was stolen from him before, but now they’re completely dismissing what little legacy they afforded him in the beginning.

Walter White is every person sick and tired of working hard for something and then getting fucked over by their lot in life – or the lot others decide for them. He worked hard, was going to start a business, got fucked over by an advantageous creep who made millions off his work, and then got laid off from his teaching job because of budget cuts (which, knowing where he’s from means the budget cuts were necessary for tax cuts which would benefit that creep who fucked him over). And then he has cancer, something that would require more money to cure than he will ever make in his life if he was stuck with low income jobs.

Instead of laying down, he ripped society a new one by turning it into a drug addict. And quite frankly, this is why people love Walter White. They’re not cheering an anti-hero or a drug kingpin, they’re cheering for themselves and their fantasy of saying “fuck you” to a society that has forgotten them.

People are unhappy with the world they live in. They’re increasingly unhappy with the world they live in.

STFU: Sadistic Tales From the Underverse, Part 1

A mother and father raise a child in a society.

That son (or daughter) not only benefits from the natural need for the mother and father to raise their child in the best way possible by giving them as many advantages they can give, the mother and father also utilize social constructs in order to accomplish it.

While the mother and father contribute to society in whatever way society asks of them (e.g. obeying the law; paying their taxes), in all likelihood, the mother and father will utilize more resources from society than they contribute – especially while raising that child into adulthood and its personal independence.

This fully developed adult benefited from the many resources their parents provided, including the public resources they benefit from every day. That child became a responsible adult who got a job and began paying taxes.

But those taxes were paid reluctantly; as a teenager he head read books which told him that tax is theft and that others who are up to no good use an entity with an army to extract labor from people by charging them via taxes. Tax is theft because this adult has worked hard and deserves all of the wealth he has accumulate through his labor; forcing him to give any of the money away is theft.

But that adult is simply paying back a service that his parents put to use throughout his early life; he also utilizes that service – public goods – throughout his adult life as well. His desire for no reciprocity is acknowledged, but he will continue going online to complain about that theft.

And he will die a sad individual who always lived life unhappy being a victim of government tyranny.

Probably alone.

Racism, Dads and Salon the Blind

In response to this piece from Salon, “Is “Dads” creator Seth MacFarlane the most offensive man in show business?“:

I’m sure it isn’t really Daniel D’addario’s fault that he had to write such a shallow piece showing an insipid funny bone and an inability to think reflectively.

A tragedy is “is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes in its audience an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in the viewing (wikipedia).” Whereas instead of purely tragedy, it is a comedy that is supposed to affect the audience not simply through laughter but discomfort – it is supposed to highlight the destructive things we do on a daily basis, the thoughts that cross our minds, and put them in a highly visible, highly dramatized way so we can purge them out of ourselves.

This type of comedy has a long history in the history of comedy, and the fact that Daniel D’addario is unaware of this and is being paid to write about it says a lot about the quality of Salon’s writing.

You do not like it, Daniel, that is clear – and apparently neither does Salon, otherwise there wouldn’t be multiple articles asking “Is TV Racist Against Asians?” and “Why Is Racism Against Asians Okay On TV?”, inspired by the Dads TV show. Hell, they’re right up there in the “Related Videos” section.

In Daniel’s defense, though, this kind of shows how far we’ve come (or, at least, one section of society has come) where racism is concerned. We’ve tamped down racism to a degree where it’s become less overt but more averse. What that means is that instead of outright racism like the KKK, it’s grandma walking across the street to avoid the two black guys in suits she would otherwise have to bravely walk by with her precious purse. But because racism has gone from overt to averse, it’s a lot harder to find for the anti-racists (myself included) to find racism to fight against. When something that looks like overt racism pops up, such as in Dads, we look up like a dog who smells bacon for the first time, salivate, and spring up in excitement.

That’s what’s going on here. Except, it wasn’t bacon, it was just bacon-scented soap. McFarlane bought bacon-scented soap to mess with our heads and wash our bodies of this last vestige of racism, this adamantium-shelled final bastion of still-marginally acceptable racism.

Because I guarantee Daniel D’addario has done it. I’ve done it. Everyone has done it. Because stereotypes are impossible to brush off, not even with soap that smells so damn good to us that is intended to wash us clean.

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