Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'd Say This Guy Is A Conservative

From the time of Woodrow Wilson, at least, the best and the brightest among us have been in constant search of ways to reinvent government to make it more citizen-centric, more citizen-friendly, more efficient, more rational, more empowering of citizens, more efficient, more management oriented, more transparent, more businesslike with more citizen engagement, more stakeholders and more new technologies, which the smarties believe will leverage government to achieve the greater good and the general welfare. Woodrow Wilson, call your office; Your Grand Government Delusion is alive and well among the smarty set, all empirical evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Let me offer the counter hypothesis, one supported by a century of empirical evidence: A little bit more of this and a little bit more of that where government is concerned all adds up to nothing more than, well, more government, not better government—the Grand Delusion, not the grand solution. What the smart guys never seem to get is that the only good government is small government.

More of anything where government is concerned means more government, and more government is the problem, not the solution. The very fact that the best and the brightest among us feel the need to keep reinventing government every few years proves government doesn’t work. The solution is less government. How difficult is that to understand? link

It's not hard to understand at all, if you're paying attention.

30 comments:

Bill said...

Yes, good heavens! Who needs clean air or water, pure food and drugs, safe transportation. Why bother with safe working conditions. Indeed, what has government ever given us but hassles!

Goodluck Jonathan said...

Great. We should aspire to be more like the laisse-faire 'less government' Nigeria.

Darren said...

Gentlemen, straw man arguments are a sign of a weak argument. Strengthen yours, and then come back and try again.

No one's talking about anarchy here. We're talking about *limited* government.

Heracles said...

I'll strengthen mine when you strengthen yours.

The willy nilly bandying about of the vague term 'limited government' is the straw man argument. The article you linked to provided no specifics as to what parts of government he wished to cut. Rather it's just a gratuitous rant at the 'Lernaean Hydra'.

I'll take these platitudes more serious when specifics are involves. Until then, strengthen your argument man and I'll call you a Wambulance.

Rip Van Winkle said...

I just tried calling you figuring you'd be getting ready for school, it's early. I now realize you were sleeping as it's Columbus Day and you 'government' workers probably get the day off.

As a private sector employee I'm working.

Perhaps we should start by cutting some of the generous holidays you have.

Sleep well. ;)

Bill said...

Yes, we tried that in the United States during the 19th and early 20th century. That's what brought about Unions, Labor Laws, Environmental Regulation, government oversight of Food, Drugs, Banking, the Stock Market (look what happened less than 10 years after repealing Glass-Steagall). Anyone who thinks that 1) the United States hasn't tried a smaller government and 2) that conditions were better for the average American then has a seriously distorted view of our history. If you think that the argument is weak, that's a sign of your ignorance of conditions people lived under without government protection. Try reading some Upton Sinclair, or looking up Blair Mountain, or the Pullman strike, or the killer Donora Smog of 1948, or the more recent contamination of Eggs and Peanut Butter from lack of effective government inspection. Is that what you would like to return to?

Darren said...

No one's advocating going back to Upton Sinclair's days, sheesh. Are *you* saying you want to go to the regulation and limited freedoms of communist states, the most government-friendly places on the planet? See, I can play that argument ad absurdum game, too.

And I teach today, I'm not off.

Bill said...

"Limited freedoms" of such places as Sweden, Norway, Japan, Denmark, Germany, France? Places with the highest standards of living, best health care, and longest life span? Why would I want something like that?

MikeAT said...

Heracles said...

I'll strengthen mine when you strengthen yours.

That’s weak…put some facts, points and examples out man…you’re just arguing to be argumentative. Say something.

The willy nilly bandying about of the vague term 'limited government' is the straw man argument. The article you linked to provided no specifics as to what parts of government he wished to cut. Rather it's just a gratuitous rant at the 'Lernaean Hydra'.

Rant at a multi headed serpent. That’s a good one. Allow me a few things off the top of my head:

1. Reform health care. By that I mean immediately repeal Obamacare, put tort reform in (i.e. limits on putative damages, not actual damages) and allow the purchase of health care over state lines. That will lower cost and decrease outlays for medical care by the federal government.

2.Eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy and Veterans Affairs. Dept of Ed doesn’t do anything but push out money. The Department of Energy generates nothing but paperwork and interferes with energy production. As a Vet, I’ll say having a cabinet level department only looks good but doesn’t help me.

3. Eliminate automatic pay raises and 20 year retirement for federal employees. We cannot afford it anymore. Move that to 25 years of service and you start collecting pensions at age 50 or 55.

4. Reform and then eliminate Social Security as we know it. First start raising the age for full retirement benefits to 75 by increasing the age by one month every year. People on the program and nearing retirement need to be taken care of but allow people under a certain age (say 50, but to set the age will require someone better in Actuarial science than me) to start putting in 2 percent into a personal account. Then over the next few decades increase that allowable amount till you get to 5% going into a personal account and allow 1.25 to go into a general fund for legit disability cases. Again, the numbers have to be worked out better.

5. Immediately reform Social Security Disability. Someone involved in an accident not able to work is one thing. But I can’t tell you how many 20-40 somethings I find in my work who are disabled because they are “depressed” or some other crap. That’s billions.

6. De-federalize welfare and block grant Medicaid. Let the states handle it.

7. Term limits on members of Congress and their senior staff and no pensions for them. Social Security should be more than enough. Also require them and their spouses to place their portfolios in a blind trust (like presidents since Nixon have done). It will curtail the temptation of reckless spending for a favored company.

8. Continue the Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) process…we have too many military bases.

9. Needs test Medicare and eliminate the prescription drug program for rich people. There is no reason I am paying for the medical treatment of rich liberals like Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry (who by the way served in Vietnam).

10. Back on Medicare, start the movement to reform it. Older people had access to medicine before the disastrous War on Poverty. Start with needs testing and allow people of keep more of their payroll taxes (BTY, that’s not the government’s money…it’s the people’s money) and allow people to prepare for retirement on their own.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone account for over 70 trillion dollars in unfunded obligations we have today. They are Ponzi schemes and need to be completely changed to continue.

Off the top of my head this came out…is that a good enough start.

Darren said...

Bill, you list a number of countries that are so unlike the US as to be "uncopyable" here. And while France isn't in that category, I recall a few years ago that France had 15,000 people, mostly seniors, die because of a heat wave (90's). The French vacation in August, and they expected the government to look after their elderly parents in their apartments.

You seem to favor the infantilization of a nanny state to an adult state of freedom and responsibility. That's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far convincing me of anything other than that we're not going to agree.

Bill said...

The problem with your statements is the issue of reality. When asked for examples of countries with more restrictive governments that have a higher standard of living, there is no shortage, when asked for examples with less government *crickets*. You say 15,000 French died, but ignore the continuing death tolls from lack of health coverage or safe workplace conditions in this county.
You saying "infantilization" and "Nanny state" is rahter ridiculous. The main difference between our country and the ones that I mentioned is that Labor actually has a voice in government rather than two parties indebted to the corporations. Representative government is supposed to help those who it represents, not who has the most money.

@MikeAT you suggest raising retirement to 75. That's rather rough for people who work for a living. You're suggesting that 74-year-olds should be roofing, or working on assembly lines? Social Security would be solvent forever if we removed the income cap on Social Security tax, or just used means testing. Some people can work until 75, many can not. You may say "why don't they have pensions?" Ask my father whose pension was liquidated by corporate bankruptcy. The bankers got first rights on the assets, the employees got the dregs.

Darren said...

What is your solution to the unsustainability of the social welfare programs in *all* of the countries you listed? Even nations can only borrow and print money for so long....

Bill said...

Quick glace at Debt to GDP shows that (other than Japan) they're not doing much worse than countries with much lower standards of living, and many are better off than the USA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_by_public_debt

What's your solution for the US spending more on its military than the next 9 nations combined? That's a rather more serious funding issue.

MikeAT said...

Bill

If you remove the cap what would happen? Congress would spend the money. LBJ raided the Social Security funds and put them into the general fund of the budget to hide the true cost of the War on Poverty and the Vietnam War. All those trillions of dollars were converted into T Bills and are now they are enclosed in two safes in Virginia. That bill is coming due and we don’t have the money. You give Congress more money and they spend it. And on means testing Social Security, it was sold as a private account where people would have money waiting for them. As I’ve pointed out, you have been lied to. And any real reform would take the money away from Washington where Congress could not touch it.

On raising the age for retirement, when Social Security was started most people lived till 65-66. The age for full benefits was 65. Now the average life span is 80-82. The budget cannot support that. We have to start addressing that and moving the age for benefits is a start. Also I’m not saying you have to work at your current job till 75. Just we will not pay full benefits till that. Either keep working at your job, or another job, or retire knowing you will not have full benefits and plan accordingly.

Personally I would rather we start the transition to a “mandated 401k” and keep that money away from Congress. Again, you put it into Washington’s hands and it will be spent.

Darren said...

We spend more on social programs than on the military, what's your solution to that, Bill?

Bill said...

@MikeAT I don't know where you got your information, but it's completely wrong. You're mistaking life expectancy from birth for life expectancy after reaching retirement age, which has not increased significantly (and your numbers are wrong for both of those as well). Anyone who thought that Social Security was an investment account is merely ignorant. Obviously you're someone who was in favor of privatizing it. How's that stock market worked out for you since that was proposed? You're also ignorant on government pensions, since you think that people collect them after 20 years. You're not seeing Postal workers or INS agents retiring on their benefits at 55. As I pointed out, many people lost their pensions in corporations declaring bankruptcy. The best case scenario for the retirees was if the Government covered some or all of it. It's nice that you've lived such a privileged life to not know that.

@Darren I think that it's just fine that we spend more on social programs than military, in face other than North Korea I think that you'll find that's universally true. Limiting military spending would allow us to balance our budget and have a stronger economy to be able to pay for social programs, infrastructure, and tax cuts. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Darren said...

Bill, those countries that spend so much less on the military have relied on us for decades. The world would be a much worse place if we didn't, even for those of you who show contempt for the military and want to play Robin Hood with my money.

Bill said...

Interesting set of standards you have there. Subsidizing the defense of other nations is a fine use of my tax money, but subsidizing the health, education, and infrastructure of our country is a waste of yours?

I have no contempt for the military, what I have a problem with is playing games to hide the actual costs ("Emergency Appropriations" anyone?) and defense procurement that never met a cost over-run it wouldn't rubber stamp. Fire up the stealth bombers and littoral fleet, and arm the ballistic missile defense systems, we're hunting peasants with Kalashnikovs!

MikeAT said...

Bill, get a clue

Social Security was started in 1935. Average life expectancy was 62 (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005148.html). You did not get full benefits until you got 65. Now the average life expectancy is 78.4 years. You can retire at 66 and get almost over 10 years back. Social Security will not support that and it was not supposed to be that. It was supposed to be an additional payment for your retirement savings.

Do I want this moved to a privatized account, hell yes! Bill, get a glue…you leave money in Washington it will be spent. I recommend you read an excellent article from National Review detailing how in debt this country is (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/229942/other-national-debt/kevin-williamson?page=1). It’s not 13 trillion or so…it’s closed to 130. That’s more than the entire wealth in the world. Sleep well at night pal. I would rather we transition over a few decades to a “mandated 401k” type of system. At least the money will be under my control. BTY Bill, if I would take the money that was forced from me and put it into a passbook account it would be more than I will get back from Social Security.

You're not seeing Postal workers or INS agents retiring on their benefits at 55.

I didn’t say that. They are drawing pensions and collecting immediately after 20 years (although more states, countries and cities are going to a 25 year plan with no payment till 50-55 YOA.) till they pass. You can’t live off of 50% of your base pay but that helps if you get another comparable paying job somewhere else. It’s good pay but again, we cannot afford to pay a 43 year old 50% of their pay for 35 years (give or take).

. As I pointed out, many people lost their pensions in corporations declaring bankruptcy.

And as I pointed out we’ve lost our pensions when the government spent the money.

The best case scenario for the retirees was if the Government covered some or all of it.

Bill, again I will slap you in the face with reality. Get a hold of yourself. The government has no money. That means the taxpayers will pay it.

It's nice that you've lived such a privileged life to not know that.

Bill of all your ramblings on this rant, this is your most worthless. You know nothing of me or my life. But apparently in your mind if someone has money problems they have to blame it on someone else. Sorry, I’m responsible for my life. I’m making the point that Social Security is a poor, for lack of a better term, “business model”. It’s completely unsupportable and will collapse.

allen (in Michigan) said...

On the basis of value received the military's clearly the better expenditure. After all, the American military actually wins wars whereas the eye-rollingly misnamed "War on Poverty" didn't make a dent in the poverty numbers despite the most grandiose of promises. Of course if you prefer style over substance, the dramatic gesture over the mundane success then social programs are the better use of tax money.

Bill said...

Sorry Mike, as I said, wrong data:
http://www.ssa.gov/history/lifeexpect.html although I completely agree with you that Social Security is being used incorrectly. It was supposed to be social insurance that the elderly and those unable to work would not end up in dire poverty. It was not supposed to be a blanket hand-out, and it's a crime that it's become one. That's why I'm in favor of means testing, not raising the eligibility age. It was never supposed to be a retirement/investment plan.

Again, you have some odd ideas about government and money. Bailing out the banks by buying mortgages the government created $2Trillion (yes, Trillion, with a T) by fiat. That's 3.5x as much as TARP, and no one even noticed. You seem to be under the illusion that governments need to collect money to have money. That is not true under fiat currency, which means almost every country in the world for about the last 80 years, it's hard to take any economic statements from someone who is unaware of this basic fact seriously. The expectation of the creation of new currency (and the devaluation of the existing script) is priced into currency trades and the bond market...that's why people expect to be paid more money when government bonds mature.

I'm not saying that money problems are placed on someone else, I'm pointing out that people who are retired or near "retirement age" have taken reasonable care to insure their future (people expect a pension to actually pay... you're in law enforcement, so I assume that you have a pension, and probably expect to collect from it some day) have had that contract taken from them by the legal system. Not all who are in financial trouble are guilty of folly (but plenty are...) so don't paint with too broad a brush.

You say that you're responsible for your life, and if you still believe that life can't suddenly and dramatically take away all that you've worked for (cancer, stroke, vehicular accident, blindness, the list is not short) then you have lead a sheltered or ridiculously lucky existence.

Bill said...

Whoops, 40 years not 80 years... was thinking of FDR's gold confiscation and re/devaluing of the currency rather than Nixon's repeal of the Gold Standard.

Darren said...

Even with fiat money, governments can't just print--economics tells us what happens, and if we're too deaf to hear it, we need only look at Weimar Germany, mid-80s Argentina, and today's Zimbabwe.

The fact that there's no gold standard does not negate the fact that governments must tax to raise revenue. If they could just print money, why tax at all???

Bill said...

You're a math guy... the function has a zero value at no taxation, and at 100% confiscation and a non-zero value between. Assuming that it's continuous, we must have a maximum/maxima in between. As I said, expectation of fiat currency devaluation is built into the market. That's why bond are auction issue, not fixed interest. Please, I may be liberal, but that doesn't mean I'm uneducated about economics. Most of our disagreement comes from our differing values of Utility and Expected Return.

Darren said...

I'm familiar with the Laffer curve and with built-in inflation; that has nothing to do with governments' just being able to print money and not needing to tax--which is what you said.

Bill said...

No, the Laffer Curve is Tax rate vs. income from taxation, completely different matter. Nice try though. Pick up a few economics texts...the math models are often quite interesting, and give insights on the differing philosophies.

Darren said...

You claim to know a lot about economics but haven't said one thing yet that makes sense *or* is correct about economics. To use your own words, "Nice try."

MikeAT said...

1/2

Look at your own figures Bill. In 1940 just over half of the men in the population made it to 65 and lived almost an additional 13 years. In 1990 figures, almost ¾ reach 65 and live to 80. Again, the input the fewer workers is supporting more and more people, not just retirees but “disabled” (I say that because disability is in desperate need of reform).

SS was sold as insurance where a trust fund would be set up and you would have an account (i.e. Social Security Account Number, which my first Social Security Card says). But it has been placed into a bunch of worthless IOUs. But you may be shocked with someone who disagrees with your assertion. Franklin D. Roosevelt. The constitutionality of the program was challenged in 1937 (Helvering vs. Davis) and SCOTUS ruled at the behest of the administration that "the proceeds of both taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like internal-revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way.”

That's why I'm in favor of means testing, not raising the eligibility age. It was never supposed to be a retirement/investment plan.

Again, get a clue Bill. You proceed from the most screwed up of all assumptions (then again, you’re a self admitted liberal so that’s to be understood): If you give Congress money for a specific project they will use it for that project. Also you think a man who makes a million a year will just say “Ok guys, just take more of my money for no reason….” No, he will take action to hide it for payroll taxes (pre tax investments or other actions that will escape the payroll tax, but keep the moony out of the economy where it will do good). But again you give the congress a dime they will spend a dollar on crap other than what is was supposed to be used for. Classic example is the Federal Highway Trust Fund. A federal fuel tax was supposed to fund the interstate highway system. You use it more, you pay more. Simple. Why is almost a fifth of it being used for mass transit?

Again, you have some odd ideas about government and money. Bailing out the banks by buying mortgages the government created $2Trillion (yes, Trillion, with a T) by fiat. That's 3.5x as much as TARP, and no one even noticed.

Bill, I would say don’t assume because it makes an ass out of you but you are far beyond that point. I don’t know how you jumped from Social Security to TARP but I was opposed to that and the feds were pushing banks to make worthless loans from the time of Jimmy Carter. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank really pushed this and they derided members of the Bush Treasury Department for raising the issue.

maxutils said...

Darren, I disagree mightily with most of what Bill has to say . . . but in fairness, his explanation of the Laffer curve was spot on. Although, I would prefer 'tax revenue' to 'income from taxation'.

MikeAT said...

2/2
You seem to be under the illusion that governments need to collect money to have money. That is not true under fiat currency, … why people expect to be paid more money when government bonds mature.

Bill, being an obvious Keynesian you have delusions of adequacy and a lack of comprehension of basic facts (sun rising in the East, Earth revolves around the Sun, the color of an orange, the number for 911, etc). There is a basic law of economics called the law of supply and demand. In a nutshell, you limit the supply of any product relative to its demand, the price goes up. And if you increase the supply of a product relative to demand the price goes down. Now with money we have specific terms for that. Deflation (low money supply) and inflation (high money supply). If you keep injecting money into the market by printing press only and the guys in the market see nothing to justify it (obvious economic growth, something we haven’t had since before the regime of B Hussein Obama) it devalues (translation, lowers the worth of) the currency and you have inflation. Is this the intention of the idiots running this country’s finances (B Hussein Obama, the tax cheat Geithner, etc)then the Chinese and Japanese really won’t like that…their multi trillion dollar investments in our debt will really sink…

people who are retired or near "retirement age" have taken reasonable care to insure their future (people expect a pension to actually pay... you're in law enforcement, so I assume that you have a pension, and probably expect to collect from it some day) have had that contract taken from them by the legal system. Not all who are in financial trouble are guilty of folly (but plenty are...) so don't paint with too broad a brush.

Again, my problem is a lot of my wealth was taken from me by force and squandered, i.e. a tax placed upon my earning and wasted by Congresses of both parties. A pension plan collapses there are remedies (Federal Pension Insurance Fund, civil action against the pension plan owners, etc). LBJ is dead and he had sovereign immunity anyway.

You say that you're responsible for your life, and if you still believe that life can't suddenly and dramatically take away all that you've worked for (cancer, stroke, vehicular accident, blindness, the list is not short) then you have lead a sheltered or ridiculously lucky existence.

Bill, of all the most immature and stupid things you have said in this debate, that is the worse one. I have a chronic illness that can blind, paralyze or kill me. It's called Multiple Sclerosis. It led to my uncle’s progressive paralysis and eventual early death. But thanks to the work of the private medical companies I have a reasonable expectation of walking into my old age with my eyes still working. No thanks to liberals and the regressive movement. That’s why B Hussein Obama’s nationalization of the heath care industry is personal to me. Don’t talk to me about living a “sheltered or ridiculously lucky existence”.