Monday, July 23, 2012

Romney trying for The Big Lie

Romney continues to harp on Obama's "claim" that business owners didn't build their businesses.  Of course, Obama said nothing of the sort, and instead was referring to the economic and physical environment in which businesses exist.  But why let what Obama actually said get in the way of a good attack.  Romney hopes that by continuing to spout the lie, the link between Obama and discrediting businesses owners might stick.  It's another in a long line of ridiculous attempts by conservatives to portray Obama as "other".  He is, at most, a center-left politician, who hasn't done anything much to deviate from previously accepted orthodoxy on the ways to run the nation.  That doesn't motivate the GOP base, though, so they have to create a bogeyman where there just isn't one.


NWest said...

The problem with Obama's statement is his implication that, if you are successful in a society which everyone* pays for via taxes, it follows that it's your responsibility to pay a greater percentage of your income to the government.

(*everyone = About 75% of the populace, if you count payroll taxes)

Earlier in the speech, he said "if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own."

No one seriously disputes that people are all helped along - but the implication that your success is primarily because of modern (post-30's) government programs is laughable.

This "incredible American system" he talks of was built by people who would be horrified at the thought of King George appointing a commission to decide what kind of healthcare someone deserves or giving tax dollars to support "General Wagons", or to bail out "Ye Olde Life Insurance Company."

The president talks of how government has helped, and it has - it enforces contracts, protects property rights, and makes it easier for people to trust one another. The myth is that government also helps by passing all sorts of rules and regulations on how you can run your business, who you can hire, how much you have to pay them, etc etc.

It's a miracle that most business succeed at all, given not only the vagaries of the marketplace, but the capriciousness of far-off bureaucrats.

Just because someone was better able to make it in America doesn't mean they should be told "pay up". Most people who make it *want* to give back, but on their terms, to causes they support. If Warren Buffet thinks the government should take more of his money in taxes because it's doing such a great job, why not shut down his business and gave the assets and profits to the Treasury to do as it pleases?

The rich may say one thing, but they do the opposite - somewhere, deep inside, they understand the need to pay for basic government services, but feel like maybe, just maybe, society in general is better served by philanthropists than by bureaucrats.

TableTopJoe said...

NWest, to imply, as you do, that all businesses post-1930s could have and would have been built regardless of the federal government is lunacy.

Let's look at a few industries, shall we? How about finance? FDIC, SEC, CFTC, etc., had nothing to do with that, did they?

Construction? Clearly the federal backing of home loans, TIF districts, etc., had nothing to do with that.

Automobile manufacturing? That would have obviously happened without a massive investment in roads, security infrastructure for oil, etc.


The people who built this country, for what it's worth, thought that healthcare involved amputation and leaches, so your "point" doesn't really prove much.

It is interesting that you use the term "capriciousness" in describing regulations. I implore you to look up the case "United States EPA v. Chevron", which set the marker for what a regulation can NOT be (arbitrary and capricious).

You really seem to have a problem, at root, with progressive taxation. Can you explain, then, why it is that since TR instituted progressive taxation, the United States underwent economic growth unparalleled in the modern world? Was it because progressive taxation kills the economy, as you suggest?

NWest said...

Oh, many of those industries have done well because of the government - but they have created a bubble of debt that *will* explode at some point.

Finance - I could go on about the fraudulence and complete moral depravity of the financial sector for hours. When they succeed, they take profits for themselves. When they fail, they socialize those profits to the taxpayers. How is this capitalism??? The FDIC & the Federal Reserve allow banks to take inordinate risks with depositors money, by using fraudulent duration-mismatched fractional reserve lending techniques, which lead to credit bubbles and send bad signals as to the price of money into the marketplace.

Suffice it to say, finance is a government/business partnership that is bankrupting the average american by loading us up with mountains of debt.

The other examples, construction & automobile manufacturing, are also examples of disastrous government policy in a multitude of ways, from the subsidization of the interstate highways to the bail out of GM. These policies *crowd out* the ability of actors in marketplace to build things based on demand, not based on an arbitrary federal decision.

The fundamental problem is that as elites accrue power in the marketplace, they immediately look to Washington to protect them from any competition. Businessmen are some of the worst enemies of capitalism out there.

Regulation may not be arbitrary in the eyes of the courts, but it *is* in real life. No regulator can be everywhere at all times, looking at everything, and no facts of any two cases are ever the same. The economist has a good story on this. "When regulators try to write an all-purpose instruction manual, the truly important dos and don'ts are lost in an ocean of verbiage."

As for progressive taxation, we are *punishing* that very growth that we want - an increase in individual's personal income. In my view, consumption and land (not property, just land) taxes are a much better way to gather revenue for the necessities of federal government (contract enforcement & military protection)

TableTopJoe said...


I'll take a pass on arguing the lion's share of your post. Suffice it to say, however, that your comments regarding finance are well taken and rather accurate. Personally, I believe, however, that most of the problems with finance come from a lack of regulations/enforcement, and not an over-regulation of it. How else to explain 75 years of avoiding a financial crisis, and then we repeal Glass-Steagal and VOILA, market crash/calamity/bailout/mass unemployment.

Regarding your contention that the federal government exists only for contract enforcement and national security, I couldn't disagree more. One merely needs to read Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution to see that Congress has been endowed with a multitude of powers beyond what you cite, including:coining money, establishing post offices, regulating interstate commerce, creating uniform laws of immigration, borrow money on the credit of the United States, etc. Please note, also, that there is the infamous "necessary and proper" clause, which has been interpreted to say that Congress can do things that aren't otherwise enumerated if those things are "necessary and proper" to carrying forth those which are enumerated.

From a broader perspective, however, I can't help but think that your utopia of a government that merely enforces contracts and provides national defense would sooner than later collapse in on itself. For example:

* If the government only asserted itself domestically to protect the rights of the well to do, why would the other 3/4 of the populace feel any legitimacy toward said government?

* If all the government did was protect the wealth of the wealthy, who do you propose will carry out this "national security"? The wealthy? Who will they be securing the country from?

I think that what you're describing comes considerably closer to feudalism than anything else.