You Didn’t Build That

Obama:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business–you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet.

Much of the blogosphere has defended Obama’s statement, along one of two lines:

  1. That Obama didn’t mean that business-owners didn’t build their businesses — he was talking about infrastructure creation and the wider economic, legal and political system.
  2. That Obama is right — and businesses owners are really not responsible for building their businesses.

Both of these arguments are nonsensical.

Economic and business growth is a complex and multi-dimensional thing, driven by the complex relationship between both supply and demand. To claim that those who put the legwork into building a business — whether that is the owners, or workers — “didn’t build” the business is totally false and absurd.

And even if Obama was talking about infrastructure and the wider economic system (which I suspect was the case) it is taxpayers who fund infrastructure creation, and the overwhelming majority of businesses and business owners (other than the bailed-out financial institutions and similar) contribute heavily to tax revenue.

Whichever way we look at it tax-paying business owners past and present — particularly small businesses, who create far more jobs than their larger corporate counter-parts — built not only their businesses, but also contributed to and funded the wider economic system and the institutions of the state.

Obama and his speechwriters ought to look more carefully at the country they desire to be elected to lead. Obama’s comments are hostile to the moral and intellectual foundations on which America has been built — the celebrated ideals of individualism and the self-made man.

As the former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass noted:

Self-made men are the men who, under peculiar difficulties and without the ordinary helps of favouring circumstances, have attained knowledge, usefulness, power and position and have learned from themselves the best uses to which life can be put in this world, and in the exercises of these uses to build up worthy character. In fact they are the men who are not brought up but who are obliged to come up, not only without the voluntary assistance or friendly co-operation of society, but often in open and derisive defiance of all the efforts of society and the tendency of circumstances to repress, retard and keep them down.

I wish we had a Republican Presidential candidate who acted in the spirit of Douglass.

Although Romney will outwardly claim to subscribe to Douglass’ values, his record suggests otherwise. The 2012 Presidential election is between two architects of socialised healthcare, two defenders of government bailouts, two advocates of pre-emptive warfare and indefinite detention without trial.

America, I think, still has a free spirit — although less than she once did. Yet Americans have been browbeaten by two political parties who are largely hostile to the old American ideals of individual liberty, individual responsibility, nonconformism and the frontier spirit.

Yet I am an individualist. If we as individuals are willing to accept the erosion of our liberty, we have only ourselves to blame.

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115 thoughts on “You Didn’t Build That

  1. “And even if Obama was talking about infrastructure and the wider economic system (which I suspect was the case) it is taxpayers who fund infrastructure creation, and the overwhelming majority of businesses and business owners (other than the bailed-out financial institutions and similar) contribute heavily to tax revenue.”

    Thank you for noting this. I’ve heard arguments along the lines of, “But they used roads to help build their business and teachers educated them. What about their contribution?” I think it gets forgotten that the road workers and teachers were paid for their services, and their salaries continue to be paid by those successful businesses.

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  3. “Whichever way we look at it tax-paying business owners past and present — particularly small businesses, who create far more jobs than their larger corporate counter-parts — built not only their businesses, but also contributed and funded to the wider economic system and the institutions of the state.”

    Isn’t this though exactly the point? These business owners through the transfer of the taxes paid from the business they worked hard to build, benefited from the societal co-operation which funnelled that resource into infrastructure.

    Obama framed his speech badly, clearly. But if as individuals we don’t also co-operate, how do we build anything greater than what we are individually capable of, or that our capital allows us to pay others to help us create. Which of coarse leads us back to those corporations, efficient only at funneling money to a few.

    My business, which I worked hard to build, utilizes and profits from the Internet, roads, the education system et al ever day.

    We can as free, non conformist individuals choose to act altruistically for a greater good.

    If we leave it entirely to the market? Here in New Zealand we have a great example of the markets failure. Christchurch was hit hard by an earthquake 3 years ago, people still live in crumbling houses, no toilets, freezing cold, a failure of private insurance in allowing them to move out, a failure of private developers to provide new houses. Our government believes with undying faith that the private sector will resolve this, but it isn’t, and as individuals they can’t solve it either.

    • I think the idea of non-government-funded infrastructure is unrealistic. I do have a sympathy for libertarian fantasies, but I think we really need to remember we live in the real world, and that if the overwhelming majority of people want state involvement in X and Y and Z then we have to live with that reality (or get into seasteading or asteroid colonisation, but that’s another story)

      The point is that businesses and entrepreneurs and workers are the force that provides the resources for the government, and that’s what Obama seemed to miss. Public services and infrastructure and institutions and the legal system ARE built by the wider society, not the state.

      • “The point is that businesses and entrepreneurs and workers are the force that provides the resources for the government”

        to invest in the infrastructure and platform with which the next generation of of business can also flourish and contribute. Business may provide the tax base (although 32 trillion that we know of is hiding from the tax man) but conversely Society through Government provides the educated worker, the electricity, roads, R & D into the internet through which the current economy functions. (we could have another discussion around the indoctrination of education, but we both already know that.)

        The catch though is that Corporatism is predominant and it is killing those SME’s, the Libertarian argument I’m assuming would be to say that Government facilitates this. It is certainly complicit, but is that a flaw of all ‘Government’, or is it indicative of an era in which Corporations buy Government and their Alumni have a revolving door to the institutions which have the potential to prevent their Oligopolies? It’s important to correctly diagnose this, are Corporations the horse or the cart?

        We have another current example in New Zealand. Previous generations and Governments built us an almost exclusively renewable electricity generation and distribution infrastructure. The current neo-con / neo-liberal regime is in the process of privatizing this infrastructure via a stock market float under the rational of “Mr Market” being more efficient. There is a minimum buy in at $1000. We are currently in a depression, kids are going to school with no shoes or food, there are hundreds of applicants for every job, our manufacturing also has moved to China. Which “individuals” do you think will buy this infrastructure? The immediate desire from these companies will clearly be a greater return on their investment. So power prices go up, companies get broken up and dams & lines sold to? Well we know who tends to buy infrastructure around the world and it ain’t your ordinary “individual”, it’s generally a banking institution, GE, Coco Cola, Monsanto et al. So now those kids with no shoes have one less meal ( what of their individual liberty? I guess they have the right to choose to live in the dark.) And what then of the small businesses trying to hold on in this climate, who are utilizing those resources to work hard to build their enterprise and subsequently contribute the tax you’ve acknowledged contributes to the lubrication of society?

    • I have zero knowledge about Christchurch situation, but market failure almost always ends up as just not thorough enough analysis. You do have regular tax rates there? If 40% of all GPD is govt spending than you would need to make huge research to see whether in fact is it market that “is to blame”. There are hundreds of ways State may directly, or indirectly block efficient disaster relief. It’s not like when there is no government program for ONE THING it means that in this sphere now you have free market. If you would stop public funding for museums in one region (and lower taxes accordingly) and leave everything else exactly how it is would now culture be free of govt meddling and operating under free market?

  4. You’re now contributing to the iditoc arguments made by advocates of the welfare state (so don’t pat yourself on the back for being critical of both sides).

    A welfare state doesn’t have success stories, it just has people who’ve figured out ways to slurp government largess, because government largess IS the economy.

    For anyone to claim that they’re wealth was created independent of the deficit is unaldulterated bullshit. When the deficit is GONE, we can discuss how much “self-made men” should be allowed to keep. Until that happens, don’t defend the myth of the self-made man. You’re just adding to the problem.

    • A welfare state doesn’t have success stories, it just has people who’ve figured out ways to slurp government largess, because government largess IS the economy.

      I think it’s inaccurate and unfair to say that government largesse is the economy. There is still some market left. With the level of regulation and barriers to entry in some sectors (especially small business and self-employed) I’d say that building a business in that environment is a huge achievement in itself. There are lots of businesses and workers out there that create real value. I think the wider economy is sclerotic, and has been going that way for a while. But that’s not the point.

      • What market is left untatinted?

        You point out that government spending is over 40% of GDP, ignoring the multiplier effect. The bloated salary of an SEC porn surfer buys gas, food and ipads, the people who work at gas stations and grocery stores buy lap dances, smokes and more ipads….

        In short, government spending flows through every last cash box, everywhere in the country. Some flows are just easier to track than others. And even that would be fine if there was no deficit.

        The welfare state isn’t something that’s going to happen, it’s already here.

        I’m not saying that America doesn’t have any good people with good ideas left, but those people are getting choked out left and right by a government hell-bent on preserving the status quo. Keeping failed businesses on life support, so they can continue paying loans, etc.

        You must remove the pretenders, to determine who the worthy are and the only way to do that is to stop deficit spending. If you want crops to grow, you have to get rid of the weeds. Don’t get sanctimonious about feeding weeds. We’ve already got enough douches doing that.

        • You point out that government spending is over 40% of GDP, ignoring the multiplier effect. The bloated salary of an SEC porn surfer buys gas, food and ipads, the people who work at gas stations and grocery stores buy lap dances, smokes and more ipads….

          In short, government spending flows through every last cash box, everywhere in the country. Some flows are just easier to track than others. And even that would be fine if there was no deficit.

          Yeah, government money touches everything, government has its finger in every transaction. That’s reality, and I see where the von Mises/Rothbard capital misallocation view really comes from. Is all government spending misallocation of capital? In a way. But that’s the nature of the state we live in. Modern democracies give the state power to redistribute. I think that a zero-redistribution economy would be a beautiful thing to behold — which is why I am really optimistic about things like seasteading — but there’s very little prospect of us seeing any nation going to that model sooner than the very, very long term.

          Drastically slashing spending would have excellent long-term effects, and probably disastrous short term effects. Government is concerned about the short term. I can’t see that as a serious policy proposal because it will be severely resisted.

          Systems that misallocate too much capital will face severe problems — we have seen that in every planned economy. That is the best hope for renewal.

        • Agreed Mark:

          “I’m not saying that America doesn’t have any good people with good ideas left, but those people are getting choked out left and right by a government hell-bent on preserving the status quo. Keeping failed businesses on life support, so they can continue paying loans, etc.”

          The amount of businesses that rely on the deficit is at a “reliance point”. Remove the deficit and see how many rich brats start complaining about losing their “allowance”.

          The only solution is for a US State to promote the idea of Libertarian principles, lower taxes and a flat tax rate at that. Then secede. See if that State flourishes or dies by attracting the best and brightest individuals. Provided that it can freely trade. i.e. not killed off by economic sanctions.

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  6. I think that your last reply says you’re more in favor of doing what’s easy, rather than doing what’s right. I just wish you wouldn’t resort to cheap tugs on the heartstrings. How much of the deficit do you really think winds up in worthy pockets?

      • Invoking the image of the great American entreprenuer as reason to not insist on a balance budget, as if a balanced budget would kill those worthy of wealth. You sound like Paul Ryan. “The rich are our job creators…” ” I’m against raising taxes on anybody in this environment” and other bullshit. Forgetting that “this environment” was created by allowing parasites (not entrepreneurs) to flourish. Let me give you an example of a “self made man” and “job creator” that I can see from my window:

        30 years ago, this guy started a paving company. Eventually he bought a quarry and a bunch of other shit. He was awarded one of those “shovel-ready” projects. Widening a 2 mile stretch of 2-lane road to 4-lanes. Broke ground two years ago. Do you think it’s anywhere near done yet? Know why?

        ‘Cause this douchebage has more pieces of idle heavy equipment sitting on the job site than human beings working on the job site. Paying shitty wages, making just enough progress to keep from losing the contract. Stimulating the economy by forcing commuters to burn gas while they sit idly in traffic. For what, so this douche can funnel as much government money as possible into his own pocket.

        Job creator? Entreprenuer? or parasite?

        Playing on our sympathies for those truly innovating allows parasites like this to exist, So I’ll ask again: How much of the deficit do you really think winds up in worthy pockets?

        • Invoking the image of the great American entreprenuer as reason to not insist on a balance budget, as if a balanced budget would kill those worthy of wealth.

          I never said or implied anything like that in the post. I’m not talking about budgets or deficits in this post. Personally, I admit I favour fiscal austerity when the economy is growing rather than when it is depressed, but that is a side issue, and one I don’t mention or imply anything about in the post.

        • If you don’t clear the weeds, the garden won’t grow.

          “the overwhelming majority of businesses and business owners (other than the bailed-out financial institutions and similar) contribute heavily to tax revenue.”

          more correctly:

          The beneficiaries of the welfare state like to make a big deal about the kickbacks they pay.

          Can’t you connect the deficit spending to “profits” of businesses? Can’t you see that there are no real success stories in a welfare state?

          You subscribe to the view that “profits” are independent of deficits, and that’s insane.

        • Can’t you connect the deficit spending to “profits” of businesses? Can’t you see that there are no real success stories in a welfare state?

          You subscribe to the view that “profits” are independent of deficits, and that’s insane.

          Are you seriously trying to make the point that there’s no such thing as profit or success in an economy with government involvement in the economy?

          I don’t like state-funded businesses, it’s corporatism, and no when you’re being underwritten by the state it’s not really success. But there are lots of good businesses succeeding today not because of state interventionism, but despite it — think about all the companies that have had to compete with state-backed or bailed-out entites. Taking an absolutist view that we can’t have capitalism or success without reducing government intervention to zero? That’s extreme.

        • “think about all the companies that have had to compete with state-backed or bailed-out entites.”

          Know what they’re called? Casualties, that’s what.

          Government involvement in the economy is unavoidable, deficit spending is not.

          This “extreme” view of mine was espoused by Thomas Jefferson:
          “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.”

          That’s all I want. Because the the hard-working, self-made man is supplanted by the parasite with deficit spending. That’s why BOTH parties are terrified of the fiscal cliff.

          If you want to let these hard-working American success stories keep their hard-earned profits, great. Just make sure you’re first to raise your hand when somebody asks who’s going to pay the deficit.

        • Mark this has to be the greatest example of problem that exists today. Try getting a contract to supply services to a local council. You have to be a “Mega Business” to win the contract. In the past people maintained their locality and paid lower rates as a result.

        • So Mark your problem is not involvement in the economy, but deficit spending?

          How does deficit-funded spending constitute greater malinvestment than taxed spending? Taxed spending actually has to be taken out of the economy first. Yes — eventually the deficit spending has to come out of the economy too, but years down the line after a lot of inflation.

          I understand the view that redistribution is misallocation of capital and perverting to the market mechanism, that’s why I prefer freer markets and smaller governments. I don’t really understand why (especially under a fiat-based regime that can print money to pay its debt) deficit spending is particularly worse. I think balanced budget amendments can be problematic, and don’t really have a problem with governments occasionally running large deficits to deal with specific infrastructural or civilisational challenges (e.g. disaster relief, war in self defense, etc) so long as they are very strict and cautious with the budget the rest of the time.

  7. Obama “forgot” that there is nothing out there other than Nature and people. All the roads, cables and bridges were built by men, not by nonexistent fictions like State. We cooperate all the time, even the simplest business is in fact global cooperation of millions of people – remeber “I, pencil”. The only difference about undertakings where this cooperation was organized by the State or other criminals, is that force was used to archive it. Tony Soprano put some people out of business and some in the ground to build his waterside, while State robbed taxpayers for years and put debt on the heads of their children to build roads. Even if it is nice waterside, or great roads – it will never be moral to act like this.

  8. ” If we as individuals are willing to accept the erosion of our liberty, we have only ourselves to blame.”

    Aziz, it’s not about blame. What it is about is correctly identifying the problems [which I believe you stay focused on in this blog]. Individuals manifest their individuality when the conditions are supportive.

    It is almost impossible to go against the flow when it becomes a torrent like it has over the past decades. We are all human and have all made our fair share of mistakes, so there is plenty of blame to go around. We should concentrate on solutions and alternatives instead of blaming Obama [or whomever] for this, that, or the other thing.

    Obama is one man up against the entire global machine. He has been offered a free ride for himself and his family for the next several generations. Is there any of us here who could pass that up?

    People need to understand that groups exist to steal from individuals. Although they might not be conceived and then born into this world with this intent, the power of the group always ends up being used by individuals to their own/collective interest.

    Even Joe Paterno could not resist the power he was given when he threw those kids under the bus in order to save face [individual and collective].

    • Obama is one man, but he is not up against – he’s actually deeply inside the corrupted system of neo-serfdom. Is he honestly thinking that by all this violence and coercion he actually does more good? Maybe, but still his role is utterly damnable. He expands power of the State with his convictions and by his actions, “man up against” might actually do a little less bad than what Obama does. I think it is impossible for politicians, even the most sincere ones, to ever take down the welfare state (they’ll simply get voted out by people that latched onto all these programs). It will only collapse after money runs out, but still, you can at least see the problem and slow it down. Not hasten it!

  9. Re AZIZ’s opening post (I’ll briefly address the thread posts later):

    1. More Attaboys!

    2. Whatever weaknesses Mitt Romney has from silver-spoon childhood and Massachusetts politics, on a spectrum from Ron Paul to Barack Obama, he is light years closer to Ron Paul. [e.g., would Christian Americans prefer a loyal off-brand Christian (Mormon = "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints") to a still-indoctrinated Muslim ideologue?].

    3. This year grass roots America (“tea parties”) was unsuccessful in picking a Republican presidential candidate, but in 2010 we stalled (slowed?) the radical-controlled Democrat regime in Washington DC (House NOW has Republican majority with many Ron Paul allies) and elected a majority of state (mostly reform) Republican governors and legislatures.

      • HELL YES, IT MATTERS!

        1. Federal deficit/debt: Obama/Pelosi/Reid/Dodd/Frank are steamrollering us off the cliff.

        2. Our only salvation is economic growth (incl. “jobs”). Marxist Obama despises “the bourgeoisie”, small business/entrepreneurs who always have been the creators of growth and jobs.

        3. #1 National Security threat is Muslim global Jihad, supported/encouraged by Russia, China, other anti-democracy, anti-American-“hegemony” nations. Obama supports Russia, Venezuela, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. and insults Britain, Columbia, Canada, etc. He is weakening our military defenses, with funding cuts and with decay from within.

        4. Energy self-sufficiency is essential for economic growth and security. Obama gives public funds to hopelessly uneconomic alternative-energy cronies in exchange for campaign support from them and “environmentalists”, and obstructs the expansion of marketable domestic fossil energy from oil, gas and coal. Obama has pledged that “climate control” — a total anti-scientific fraud — would be the most important program in his second term. And is it just coincidence that much of the foreign oil we must buy comes from anti-democratic Muslim nations and Venezuela?

        5. Substituting top-down power for rule of law and individual liberty, including immigration, ballot security, welfare and other “redistribution”, is basic to Obama’s and the radical-left controlling Democrats’ ethics.

        And there is a helluva lot more! “Organized crime” steals, intimidates, bribes, murders, etc., but at least does not seek to overthrow our Constitutional democracy. Obama’s Washington DC does!

        Afterthought. Fear that a President Romney and a Republican congress wouldn’t right all the wrongs, matches the popular and false propaganda blaming President Bush for the 2007-2009 crash. The TRUTH: the 2006 election gave Democrats control of BOTH houses of congress; Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Frank dictated “sub-prime” housing loans, and encouraged Wall Street to package and sell them as safe investments. These were the criminals. Bush was a weak ineffective cop.

        • #1 security threat is USA’s foreign policy belligerence. Take the boot off necks of other people and you’re no longer in any real danger. Best strategy of Jihad is immigrating to Europe and demographic takeover… it will take decades even if everything “goes well” and it’s not even about your land.
          Imagine that it is you in place of Ahmadinejad. USA is cutting down dictators around him, has military bases on the ground in almost all surrounding countries and paints him black (he deserves it).

          Also Obama does the bidding of the same people that Romeny will and both of these factions have exactly the same views for foreign policy. They are going to keep on killing, but steer clear of invasions and major wars.

        • DG, I am glad I asked! :)

          As long as we exist in an environment where money is counterfeit, their is no accountability and people will run amok. BUT…

          …you will be waiting several hundred thousand years [at the very least] for somebody to come along who will do anything in the interests of society as a whole. When this appears to occur throughout history, it is mere coincidence, nothing more.

          Social man is an oxymoron. Government can never work in the [real] interests of the individual. [Formal] groups exist to fleece individuals and their existence is simply the modern version of every other institutional form of appropriation.

        • DG this is from the political compass website, I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of the US presidential election:

          Obama and Romney are the two closest on the political compass. I’ll take Gary Johnson, or Rocky Anderson or Ron Paul every time, thanks.

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  11. I think Obama is right. There has to be a common infrastructure in place to allow individuals to operate. But it must not be too bureaucratic. What is the minimum Government required to enable individuals to pursue their potential? The Government is comprised of legislators who have responsibility for laws passed that create this “environment” Where do you draw the line?

    People should only be elected if they are self made. Voters should recognise the uniques skill, experience and knowledge they bring to the legislature. If we only elected people of this calibre, the laws passed would be most likely read, as no self respecting person would vote on a law that reflected their “yay”. They would be held account for posterity for supporting a bill that caused damage to individual or nation.

    Today, too many bills are passed, written by obscure men, and passed by a disinterested legislature. Many legislators are appointed by the “Party” and they vote according to the party, usually dictated by “Faceless” men behind the scenes.

    If voters voted for independent candidates with integrity, then the government would be formed only when consensus is reached amongst the independents and a working majority government is formed. That way laws passed will only be ones that are truly in the interest of a majority and based on common sense. Too many laws are passed in the spririt of “Progressive Thought”. Australia had a hung parliament and life went on. It actually proves that we have so many laws now, Government may not be necessary. We have enough existing laws and Judges to allow life to go on.

  12. Much of the blogosphere has defended Obama’s statement, along one of two lines:

    The point he’s trying to make is that no matter how much of the mythical “self made man” you might think you are, in a modern society you are almost entirely dependent upon the input of others for success:
    * Police, army, etc that make a stable society possible
    * Education
    * Income support for the poor
    * Money lending
    * Suppliers of raw and/or manufactured materials and/or manufacturing tools
    * Electricity, water, and other utilities
    * Roads and other forms of transport
    * Employees and customers (and don’t forget all of those are equally as dependent on the above)
    * Etc.

    I suppose if you live in the forest, were raised by woolves and have never had contact with modern society, you could be considered a “self made man”. Everyone else, depends on the work and ingenuity of others to survive.

    • “Everyone else, depends on the work and ingenuity of others to survive.”

      Yes, it’s called massive dependency. And, it is how every institution “creates” its markets.

    • I don’t think having a modern interconnected civilisation goes against the idea of a self-made man. I think the work you put into yourself, your assets, your business, your community, etc, are still your own self-made contribution. Yeah, we’re building on top of a rich civilisational history and a dense infrastructure (built, of course, by the individual contributions of others). That doesn’t diminish our own contributions or our own capacity to build ourselves.

      • Yeah, we’re building on top of a rich civilisational history and a dense infrastructure (built, of course, by the individual contributions of others).

        Which was, it seemed quite clear to me, the point he was making.

        (Though I’m not American, so I don’t see it through polarised, partisan eyes.)

      • I don’t think having a modern interconnected civilisation goes against the idea of a self-made man.

        I didn’t say it goes against it, I said it essentially precludes it. You would be hard-pressed living more than a day without consuming or relying on, in some way, the fruits of someone else’s labour, let alone a lifetime.

        It might be as simple and direct as walking on a footpath. Or it could be more subtle like doing business learning the communications skills you learned in school. Or it might be selling a product to someone who could pay you because the rule of law makes them feel confident enough to carry money around.

        I think the work you put into yourself, your assets, your business, your community, etc, are still your own self-made contribution.

        But without a stable society (rule of law, armed forces, at least some attempt of reducing poverty) you wouldn’t have those assets. You and your customers wouldn’t have as much disposable income to spend because they’d have to allocate a larger proportion of their wealth to expenses that are currently spread across the entire community.

        • I didn’t say it goes against it, I said it essentially precludes it. You would be hard-pressed living more than a day without consuming or relying on, in some way, the fruits of someone else’s labour, let alone a lifetime.

          You’re coming out with a pretty absolutist definition of self-made. There’s nothing un-self-made about engaging in voluntary commerce with others to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Nor is there anything un-self-made about gaining from the social structure in terms of education, language, tools, skills, labour, etc. What’s self-made is your own contribution. I don’t understand why some are so keen to denigrate or minimise this.

          But without a stable society (rule of law, armed forces, at least some attempt of reducing poverty) you wouldn’t have those assets. You and your customers wouldn’t have as much disposable income to spend because they’d have to allocate a larger proportion of their wealth to expenses that are currently spread across the entire community.

          The stable society is a product of the labour and ideas (and if government is involved, the taxes) of other individuals. We live in a self-made society, built from the ground up by the contributions of individuals. What we gain from is the work of other individuals, not some nebulous collective.

      • You’re coming out with a pretty absolutist definition of self-made. There’s nothing un-self-made about engaging in voluntary commerce with others to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Nor is there anything un-self-made about gaining from the social structure in terms of education, language, tools, skills, labour, etc.

        So a publicly funded education system wouldn’t prevent someone from being “self made”, and couldn’t be considered “involuntary commerce” on behalf of the taxpayers funding it ?

        Why is a publicly funded healthcare system be any different ?

        What’s self-made is your own contribution. I don’t understand why some are so keen to denigrate or minimise this.

        I haven’t seen anyone trying to “denigrate or minimise” individual efforts.

        I have seen just about everyone trying to (massively) “denigrate or minimise” how important the rest of society is to individual prosperity.

        The stable society is a product of the labour and ideas (and if government is involved, the taxes) of other individuals. We live in a self-made society, built from the ground up by the contributions of individuals. What we gain from is the work of other individuals, not some nebulous collective.

        All those individuals working together _are_ “some nebulous collective”.

        • So a publicly funded education system wouldn’t prevent someone from being “self made”, and couldn’t be considered “involuntary commerce” on behalf of the taxpayers funding it ?

          I’ve been through the British state school and college and university system. I don’t think that fact should be a hindrance to me considering myself (or others) self-made. I think for every good thing I and others got out of public education, there are a considerable number of negatives that probably hindered us. It can be clunky and dogmatic and bureaucratic, and in many inspires a lifelong resistance to learning.

          I’m not a hardcore libertarian screaming “end all public education now!”, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that I should credit public education for any successes I have, especially when I feel like I only really started growing as a writer when I left the system and started thinking by myself.

          And yeah, it’s involuntary commerce.

        • I’m not a hardcore libertarian screaming “end all public education now!”, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that I should credit public education for any successes I have, especially when I feel like I only really started growing as a writer when I left the system and started thinking by myself.

          So let me get this straight. You’re a writer and you don’t credit an education system that taught you how to read and write as being a contributor to your abilities ?

        • I started school at six (I was homeschooled for a year beforehand). I learned to read when I was two and write when I was four taught by my parents and myself. All I ever really got from public schooling was how to deal with people and how to deal with bullies. And I guess I learnt a lot about the inefficiency of public services, and how corrupt society and culture can be. I’m not trying to denigrate public schooling, it works great for many people (though not a lot of people), I’m just talking about my experience. But if we have public services, they need to be localised; the larger and more complex a system, the easier it is to clog it up. We need real accountability to the people who pay for the system.

          If there was one public facility I really learned from, it’s actually the internet. But again, I’d say that that (i.e. the creators of websites, the inventors of the infrastructure) was the product of individual visions. Collectives don’t envisage things, they don’t invent things.

        • I started school at six (I was homeschooled for a year beforehand). I learned to read when I was two and write when I was four taught by my parents and myself.

          And obviously nothing has changed about your writing since you were five ?

          (Not to mention all the material you would have used to “self educate” that someone else discovered.)

          Collectives don’t envisage things, they don’t invent things.

          Yes, they do. Pretty much any discovery, project or creation of meaningful size has required a “collective” to “envisage” and complete, and generally all of them are quite happy – indeed, eager – to acknowledge that they could not have completed it on their own.

          Even individuals who make great discoveries “on their own”, are typically the first to highlight how much their work depended on the efforts of others.

          “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.” – Isaac Newton.

          You get the occasional egotistial arsehole who bucks this trend, but – at least at the more impressive end of the scale – they tend to be few and far between.

        • As I say, my writing really started to develop when I left academia, and especially in the last year.

          The way I see it is that our civilisation is individuals standing on the shoulders of more individuals. I don’t like to conceptualise it as a collective, because “collectives” to me are just relationships between individuals.

          I suppose I need to justify this. My perspective comes from the unitary nature of consciousness. Individuals are a complex admixture of DNA, proteins, sugars, lipids, body flora, etc. We are a collection of many processes and threads, yet we unite into one unitary consciousness. That is the basic unit of self. That is what I deal in. Orders larger than this are not units but systems made of interacting units.

        • The way I see it is that our civilisation is individuals standing on the shoulders of more individuals.

          I’m glad you agree with me that people build on the knowledge and work of others to make their own achievements. Your mental gymnastics and semantic fiddling were becoming a bit tiring.

          I don’t like to conceptualise it as a collective, because “collectives” to me are just relationships between individuals.

          What terminology you want to use is up to you. Clearly your idealogical bias makes you uncomfortable with terms that are loaded in right-wing culture, like “collective”. However, different words don’t change the fundamental thing you are talking about.

          I suppose I need to justify this. My perspective comes from the unitary nature of consciousness. Individuals are a complex admixture of DNA, proteins, sugars, lipids, body flora, etc. We are a collection of many processes and threads, yet we unite into one unitary consciousness. That is the basic unit of self. That is what I deal in. Orders larger than this are not units but systems made of interacting units.

          Interesting, but not really relevant to the topic, which is whether or not the discoveries, work and products of our peers and predecessors play a part in our own successes. Per your statement above, you agree that they do – whether you want to refer to that as a “collective” or “relationships between individuals” is a minor semantic issue. Ergo, you concur with the fundamental points Obama was making, which is that we all live in an interdependent society and that people are more productive and efficient working together than they are working separately (hence the reason humanity consistently organises itself into groups).

        • Ergo, you concur with the fundamental points Obama was making, which is that we all live in an interdependent society and that people are more productive and efficient working together than they are working separately (hence the reason humanity consistently organises itself into groups).

          No, I don’t agree with Obama. He sees interdependency as a good thing. I see it as fragile and precarious. He sees it that government is the infrastructure creator, I see anything government does as totally dependent on taxpaying individuals, and the just consent of the governed. He sees government as the greater organising force that brings people together and allows us to achieve, I see society (in other words, groups of individuals) as self-organising, with or without government.

        • He sees interdependency as a good thing. I see it as fragile and precarious. He sees it that government is the infrastructure creator, I see anything government does as totally dependent on taxpaying individuals, and the just consent of the governed. He sees government as the greater organising force that brings people together and allows us to achieve, I see society (in other words, groups of individuals) as self-organising, with or without government.

          None of your inferences are apparent from the comments in question (at least, when they aren’t deceitfully manipulated and misquoted by the usual lineup of right-wing talking heads).

          Pretty much any group of people, when they “self-organise” into a group, will create a hierarchical structure – boards of directors, captains and coaches, CEOs and management, Governments, etc. There are occasional exceptions, but they are quite rare and usually unstable (or ineffectual). You can’t say that you agree groups of individuals work together, then say that you have a fundamental disagreement with the structures they create when they do so.

        • You can’t say that you agree groups of individuals work together, then say that you have a fundamental disagreement with the structures they create when they do so.

          People can organise themselves however they want, have whatever shape of government they want. All I control is my own behaviour and my own opinions. If I fundamentally disagree with the outcome, that’s just my opinion. Dissent is healthy, and part of the self-organising cultural-social process.

        • People can organise themselves however they want, have whatever shape of government they want. All I control is my own behaviour and my own opinions. If I fundamentally disagree with the outcome, that’s just my opinion. Dissent is healthy, and part of the self-organising cultural-social process.

          No-one is disagreeeing with any of that. I’m pointing out that agreeing people rely on each other to achieve things (Obama’s point) but vehemently arguing the structures they consistently create when doing so are unnecessary, if not immoral, (your point) is logically inconsistent.

        • Structures they consistently create

          The modern conception of the state is young and anomalous — in every way less than 4000 years old, and in many ways less than 100 years old. For most of human history we existed in a primitive decentralisation, and as far as I can tell the family and the tribe were the main sociopolitical structures. I think that not questioning the structures of modernity is naive.

        • The modern conception of the state is young and anomalous — in every way less than 4000 years old, and in many ways less than 100 years old.

          That’s got to be a pretty absolutist definition of “state” you’re using there.

          For most of human history we existed in a primitive decentralisation, and as far as I can tell the family and the tribe were the main sociopolitical structures.

          The average human lifetime until the last few decades has been about 50-60 years. The thousands of years humans have been collecting together into groups larger than an extended family is more than enough to establish predictable patterns.

          I think that not questioning the structures of modernity is naive.

          The problem is you’re not questioning, you’re denying.

        • I said “the modern conception of the state”. Because the pre-civilisational (and especially pre-modern) constructions seem to be somewhat more organic; authority and order were encoded through real interpersonal relationships. Authority today is impersonal and bureaucratic; there are thousands of people who make decisions about my life who I have never met, and will never meet. This inauthenticity is a reason why I think the structures we have today are problematic, but not the main one.

          My main suspicion is toward the fragility of modernity’s interdependency. Western civilisation is in deep trouble if supplies of oil are disrupted 72 hours, let alone a week or month. One bad bank can bring down the entire banking system. One computer virus can shut down a huge array of infrastructure. One drunk or psychotic general could launch nuclear missiles. One severe flu mutation can kill millions of people.

          The core of my view is this: survival as a species, as families, as individuals is about avoiding excessive fragility. That means minimising interdependency. One psychotic military commander ten thousand years ago might have killed himself and his family, not millions of people. One extreme flu mutation could wipe out a village or a tribe, but probably not an entire civilisation. Severe fuel shortages for one group of people would not cause the infrastructure of millions of others to fail.

          The only sustainable future I see is one of technological decentralisation; where energy-generation and storage and industrial and agricultural production are decentralised and localised, to minimise excessive systemic interdependency. The technology to make a transition is technically feasible and gradually becoming economically viable. As we see more and more crises of interconnection (like 2008 — and we will see many more such crises), I expect to see more and more people turn to such solutions. The goldbug strategy of buying solar panels, storable food, water purification tablets, precious metals and guns and preparing to hunker down in a survivalist retreat is a simple and early strategy of this kind.

        • I said “the modern conception of the state”.

          And I said “that’s got to be a pretty absolutist definition of “state” you’re using”.

          Because if you’re not considering any part of recorded history as “modern”, then it’s pointless trying to have a discussion about the wild speculation on how organisational structures looked like before that, to say nothing of completely ignoring the huge factor of how little progress humanity made until it started organising into larger groups.

          Authority today is impersonal and bureaucratic; there are thousands of people who make decisions about my life who I have never met, and will never meet. This inauthenticity is a reason why I think the structures we have today are problematic, but not the main one.

          Huh ? Do you seriously think the life of some random tribesman (or woman) out of the few hundred a chief might command would be any different ?

          The core of my view is this: survival as a species, as families, as individuals is about avoiding excessive fragility. That means minimising interdependency.

          This is pretty much the complete opposite of reality. The greatest strength comes from groups and co-operation, not separation and conflict.

          Why do you think armies organise into groups ? Why companies merge ? Why sports team train together ?

          There is of course a limit to when a group becomes too large to be feasible, but you are arguing that number is measured in dozens, when in reality it’s probably measured in tens to hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

          One psychotic military commander ten thousand years ago might have killed himself and his family, not millions of people. One extreme flu mutation could wipe out a village or a tribe, but probably not an entire civilisation. Severe fuel shortages for one group of people would not cause the infrastructure of millions of others to fail.

          These are false analogies. Without modern organisational structures and the productivity and prosperity they deliver, millions of people wouldn’t be in close enough quarters to be killed by a single bomb, diseases wouldn’t be able to spread throughout entire civilisations (though the black death gave it a pretty good try) and the infrastructure that could support millions of people simply wouldn’t exist.

          The goldbug strategy of buying solar panels, storable food, water purification tablets, precious metals and guns and preparing to hunker down in a survivalist retreat is a simple and early strategy of this kind.

          The problem being, of course, if the shit really hits the fan then that other bigger group of people over there are simply going to come and take our intrepid survivalist’s stuff.

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  15. Buddy: Obama’s statement, another of his campaign pitches to seduce “the 50% who VOTE for a living vs. the 50% who WORK for a living”, is NOT right as meant and received. It merely is more of “entrepreneurs are evil and undeserving” class warfare.

    OF COURSE civilization needs common infrastructure, government (with its force, monopoly), laws, etc. The eternal conflict is over who* controls making and enforcing laws — between bottom-up (people) or top-down (tyrants).

    * I like your idea of electing only self-made people! I wish our and all democracies would do it. It’s compatible with a favorite “tea party” initiative — Term Limits. America’s founders envisioned a continuation of citizen legislators who would return to their farms and shops after each session of legislating in the manner you so well describe. But “public service” — elected, appointed, or hired — has turned into careers, political parties, fund-raising machines, and mass-“marketing”‘ of people, parties, and policies. Many (most?) Americans do not realize that, in each house of our congress, the majority Party chairs and controls every committee and subcommittee; that no bill moves up the steps to passage without each chair, and finally, the Speaker or Majority Leader, “bringing it up” for a vote. “Leadership” positions are almost always filled according to seniority — time as a member. Modern politics and government are, as you and others lament, organized power over people.

    Of the best UK leaders, Churchill was NOT self-made, but I think that Thatcher was from a middle class working family. I don’t know the background of Australia’s PM Howard.

    Post-World War II US presidents have been a mixed lot. Truman, a very good president, was a self-made small businessman, then a politician. Eisenhower, another very good president (though facing few crises), was self-made in a military (highly structured competitive) career, then raised to World War II international power and prominence by Pres. Roosevelt and Gen. Marshall. Carter, a very UNsuccessful president, was a small businessman/farmer. Reagan, usually considered the most successful, overcame an alcoholic father and had a successful career in radio, film (where he was elected actors’ union head) and television before elected governor of California and president.

    On the other hand, Johnson was the archetypical lifelong smart, ambitious, corrupt career politician; his ambition and ego impelled him to push beyond equality in civil rights to impose a “War on Poverty” welfare state, which has divided our population and devastated the families and upward mobility of minorities; his ego (“I will not be the first US president to lose a war!”) turned a mistaken venture in Vietnam into a prolonged disaster. Nixon, a lawyer-politician from a middle class family, turned government into chaos (which allowed his enemies and mobs to turn orderly exit from Vietnam into defeat and disgrace) with his fanatical lawyer-politician amoral egotistical denial of his Watergate scandal.

    Kennedy and both Bushes were rich and privileged. Kennedy died before making a record, and the Bushes served government, including W’s eight successful years as governor of Texas, with honesty and dedication, but did not leave solid legacies. Clinton and Obama were bright and charismatic youths rising above broken dysfunctional families. However, in public and private life, both have shown lack of basic parent-instilled middle-class values of honesty and respect for others.

    One lesson in all this history and conjecture is that Mitt Romney would be a far better (or, for the cynics, less worse) president than Obama. Do you agree?

    • One lesson in all this history and conjecture is that Mitt Romney would be a far better (or, for the cynics, less worse) president than Obama. Do you agree?

      At this point, the main difference I see is not policy (especially not foreign policy) but rhetoric.

      But I do know this — the candidate that gets the most money from the banks tends to win.

      And that’s Mitt Romney. I think he’s a much likelier winner.

  16. It seems quite un-American [apologies to those non-national American subjects (just kidding :) to even be chatting about what somebody else [especially in government] can do for you.

    Government can only TAKE AWAY from you. It doesn’t matter whether it is Tom, Dick, or Harry, YOU LOSE!!

    We need to get rid of as much government as is possible. THAT is the answer. The more government you get rid of, the more corporate influence will go with it.

    It is individuals that will lead the world out of this malaise. Groups, be they the PTA or the Central Bankers, can, at best, impede, at worst, destroy.

    • Yes, DRS! “We need to get rid of as much government as possible.” I could nitpik and say such things as “Be selective”, “But we need some government”, etc., but I won’t. When the boat is foundering and we’re bailing with a teacup, we don’t need to slow down!

  17. Government can only TAKE AWAY from you. It doesn’t matter whether it is Tom, Dick, or Harry, YOU LOSE!!

    We need to get rid of as much government as is possible. THAT is the answer. The more government you get rid of, the more corporate influence will go with it.

    I’m sure the people of Somalia are with you 100%.

    • The Somalia comment is sooooo internet tired.

      Somalia, a communist country from 1969 until the start of the civil war in 1991.

      I read your comments smithy and I would like to ask you question,

      “Why do rich people send their kids to private schools?”

      The question is rhetorical. Rich folk don’t send their kids to public schools because they are inferior to private schools.

      Always follow the money.

  18. @ Aziz,

    “So Mark your problem is not involvement in the economy, but deficit spending?”
    A: YES

    “How does deficit-funded spending constitute greater malinvestment than taxed spending?”
    A: Easy. When government spending is limited to what the real economy can provide in the present, the government has a vested interest in keeping the real economy alive and well.

    When you allow governments to deficit spend they don’t need a real economy anymore. Government becomes the economy. The real economy’s dead. What passes for the economy is the notion that someone else is gonna pick up the tab someday.

    There are no “profits” in such an economy (this point completely escapes you). What you think are profits is just where the deficit wound up. THAT’S ALL!!!

    For four years now the rate of the deficit has averaged $400 per person per month! Where do you think that money goes? And how much of it are YOU willing to repay? Because all I ever hear is people whining that they’re paying too much already (and the really disgusting part is some of them get 100% of their income from the government).

    How do you feel about young Greeks being strapped with their parents debts? THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE!

    Pay for your shit today. You need thugs strip-searching children and feeling your wife’s tits to feel safe getting on an airplane? Then you should pay for it as well as the bill for the naked-body scanners. You think space exploration is important? Awesome. Now get out your checkbook. Afraid of Iran? Pay for a few cruise missles then.

    WHAT DEFINES A WELFARE STATE IS “WE NEED THIS BUT I CAN’T PAY FOR IT.”

    I want to fight over who’s paying for the drinks before they get ordered. And I don’t see what’s so extreme about that.

    • When you allow governments to deficit spend they don’t need a real economy anymore. Government becomes the economy. The real economy’s dead. What passes for the economy is the notion that someone else is gonna pick up the tab someday.

      Wrong. The money and productivity and labour comes from somewhere. The money comes from creditors or the central bank, the labour and productivity it spends comes from individuals and businesses.

      There are no “profits” in such an economy (this point completely escapes you). What you think are profits is just where the deficit wound up. THAT’S ALL!!!

      This isn’t really different to other government spending. If you are a government-funded corporation making money from their tab, it doesn’t matter if the money is deficit-funded or tax-funded. It’s still money you probably wouldn’t have made in a market economy, and the government funded corporations (e.g. defence contractors) would not exist in their present forms in a market economy. All “profit” is is taking in more than you spit out. The source is irrelevant.

      For four years now the rate of the deficit has averaged $400 per person per month! Where do you think that money goes? And how much of it are YOU willing to repay? Because all I ever hear is people whining that they’re paying too much already (and the really disgusting part is some of them get 100% of their income from the government).

      How do you feel about young Greeks being strapped with their parents debts? THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE!

      Funnily, the deficit actually goes up in a depression when government cuts spending, because you get a proportionate decrease in tax revenues. Your spending is my income, and vice verse. Which is actually what is happening in Greece; the problem is that their state-dependent economy is grinding to a halt. The problem isn’t one of future debt; it’s of present economic degeneration .

      I look at addiction to deficits as very similar to addiction to drugs. Coming off cold turkey — especially while also suffering from other ailments — is very, very painful. Stabilise the patient before you slowly wean them off the drugs.

      Coming off cold turkey might be healthier in the long run (if the patient survives such an experience), but in a democracy where the majority of people don’t want to see short-term 50% unemployment, and 80% stock market falls (etc), you’re going to have a very hard time getting that passed as legislation.

      Pay for your shit today. You need thugs strip-searching children and feeling your wife’s tits to feel safe getting on an airplane? Then you should pay for it as well as the bill for the naked-body scanners. You think space exploration is important? Awesome. Now get out your checkbook. Afraid of Iran? Pay for a few cruise missles then.

      WHAT DEFINES A WELFARE STATE IS “WE NEED THIS BUT I CAN’T PAY FOR IT.”

      I want to fight over who’s paying for the drinks before they get ordered. And I don’t see what’s so extreme about that.

      In principle I agree with most of your sentiments here, but we have to deal with real world constraints that we have inherited from a system where deficit spending has been the norm for a very, very long time. If it was up to me I’d slash the security state and slash imperialism — and give the money back to the taxpayer — but to balance the budget you need to slash entitlements too. But your spending is my income, etc. Balancing the budget will mean a huge shortfall in tax revenue, which — as we are seeing in Greece and Spain and Portugal — will probably mean even bigger deficits and even bigger debt, at least in the short and medium term.

      By the way, I think focussing on government deficits and debt (which make up just under 1/4 of total debt) is the wrong focus. The main problem in the real economy is excessive private debt. We need some form of debt jubilee to end the deleveraging trap and get the economy back into growth; then the government deficits will melt away against rising tax revenues.

      • “Wrong. The money and productivity and labour comes from somewhere. The money comes from creditors or the central bank, the labour and productivity it spends comes from individuals and businesses.”

        Sorry, you’re wrong. When “money” can be created out of thin air, it didn’t come from somewhere. So the economy can be reduced to the government paying people to dig holes and fill them back up. And then we wonder why the economy’s not getting better (dig faster?).

        But the debt created by the stupidity of government is real and these “creditors” will want repayment, plus interest. (BTW the Fed lies about how much of our debt is held by foreigners). When we can’t pay (which is 100% guaranteed, especially when you consider that someone like you will defend that shovel-selling businessmen are some kind of national treasure, and should be able to tuck the “profits” of their ventures away in a mattress, because hey, they “earned” that money), these creditors will demand rule over us. As is happening in Europe now.

        Take the bank bailouts – Congress agreed to bail out the banks, putting the taxpayer on the hook, but the taxpayer was unable to pay, so the banks we were bailing out arranged financing for their own bailout.

        You can’t gently wean a country away from this kind of group psychosis. The hole-diggers and shovel-sellers rationalize their importance, and even smart people like you (despite my tone here, I have a lot of respect for you) get confused and start thinking this a “real” economy, worthy of individual reward…and even greater investment in the form of more deficit spending.

        How does this all end? Very, very badly and you know it.

        • When “money” can be created out of thin air, it didn’t come from somewhere. So the economy can be reduced to the government paying people to dig holes and fill them back up. And then we wonder why the economy’s not getting better (dig faster?).

          Right.

          But the debt created by the stupidity of government is real and these “creditors” will want repayment, plus interest. (BTW the Fed lies about how much of our debt is held by foreigners). When we can’t pay (which is 100% guaranteed, especially when you consider that someone like you will defend that shovel-selling businessmen are some kind of national treasure, and should be able to tuck the “profits” of their ventures away in a mattress, because hey, they “earned” that money), these creditors will demand rule over us. As is happening in Europe now.

          Right — but it’s hardly true that all business people in the world today are shovel-sellers. There are a lot of shovel sellers, and a lot of government spending is funding ditch digging, but not all, probably not even a majority.

          Take the bank bailouts – Congress agreed to bail out the banks, putting the taxpayer on the hook, but the taxpayer was unable to pay, so the banks we were bailing out arranged financing for their own bailout.

          Right.

          You can’t gently wean a country away from this kind of group psychosis. The hole-diggers and shovel-sellers rationalize their importance, and even smart people like you (despite my tone here, I have a lot of respect for you) get confused and start thinking this a “real” economy, worthy of individual reward…and even greater investment in the form of more deficit spending.

          There is still a real economy. People need to eat, people still need energy. That’s the real economy. A lot of what we see today is shovel selling and ditch digging, but that doesn’t mean the real economy doesn’t exist. If the real economy “ceased to exist”, we would all be dead.

          I don’t like the shovel selling and ditch digging, and I realise it’s hard to gradually wean society off it, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

          How does this all end? Very, very badly and you know it.

          Probably, but not necessarily.

        • One more thing: “Private debt” guaranteed by the government in any way, shape or form isn’t private, is it? So make sure you back out government-backed mortgages and student loans, SBA loans, any loans on properties with national flood insurance.

          I think you’ll find your adjusted figures quite eye-opening.

          OK, one more thing: I appreciate all your responses. We may not agree on everything (yet), but you’ve got guts and you’re a really good writer.

          Keep it up, man.

  19. To AZIZ of Jul 26 01:56:43. Your compass coordinates show that somebody is smoking something — I hope it isn’t you! By what alien language/classification would Obama be “Right” and Romney be “Authoritarian” ?!?!?!? We earthlings would put Obama in the upper-left corner, Ron Paul in the lower-right corner, and Romney somewhere in the lower-right quadrant. Good grief, Charley Brown!

    • Mitt Romney is for indefinite detention without trial, etc — comes out in the top right. That’s about as authoritarian as it gets.

      I probably would agree that economically Obama should be a little further to the left, but he is more-or-less a corporatist (i.e. corporate-run economy) and not really a socialist (i.e. government-run economy). Obamacare — just like Romneycare, which is essentially the same thing — is corporatist, not socialist legislation — it was written by and empowers and enriches insurance companies.

      While I don’t think it’s a perfect fit, it’s a pretty accurate representation. Romney is way, way, way closer to Obama than he is to Paul or Johnson.

      • I did my own political compass chart to (very roughly) reflect my own view of politics from recent years (and a couple from the last few centuries). I’ll say I am roughly where Nigel Farage is on the chart:

        • The right on the economic axis is — to me at least — libertarianism, Austrian economics, sound money, etc. Obama and Romney are both advocates of a mixed economy, fiat currency, globalisation, etc. They’re both centrist on the economics axis, authoritarian on the civil society axis.

        • The right on the economic axis is — to me at least — libertarianism, Austrian economics, sound money, etc. Obama and Romney are both advocates of a mixed economy, fiat currency, globalisation, etc. They’re both centrist on the economics axis, authoritarian on the civil society axis.

          I meant, why have they (along with just about everyone else) moved to the left compared to all the other Political Compass graphs place them ?

          Are you making up political compass graphs according to where *you* think people sit ?

        • Because my economic axis boils down — more or less — to state vs nonstate, and many of those considered to be “on the right” are actually advocates of a large, expansive and powerful state role in the economy (e.g. Romney, Bush, Cameron, etc) which I think can at most be described as centrist.

      • While waiting for clarification from you and your flock — followers and tormentors — maybe I can clarify my — and, I’m confident*, most “tea partiers'” — choices. I think a big majority of us would have preferred Ron Paul, EXCEPT that we are dedicated to taking back our country and MUST win this election**; we reasoned that, unfortunately, Paul couldn’t possibly overcome media and selfish interest prejudices against his open “evil” conservatism. Perot tried it, and we got the most corrupt administration ever (not counting Obama’s). Santorum, the last-standing “conservative”, probably got most of the grass roots votes in the last contested states, but he couldn’t beat the establishment Republicans either.

        * Maybe misplaced confidence, since “tea parties” are local and independent. But most local groups have “Core Values” like ours: (1) Constitutionally limited government, (2) Fiscal responsibility, and (3) Free markets. [The primary election in my state (Texas) was meaningless because it was late -- after Romney had it sewed up].

        ** At stake is not only president, but also all House and one-third of Senate seats. As in 2010, grass roots voters nominated “conservative” (some say high-risk) Republicans to bolster Ryan, Issa, Rand Paul, Rubio, et al.

        • The USA needs Obama to calm the welfare minorities when the Fiscal Cliff hits. Good speeches can calm hungry bellies

    • By what alien language/classification would Obama be “Right” and Romney be “Authoritarian” ?!?!?!?

      That would be out in the rest of the world that doesn’t have America’s massively rightwards-skewed political landscape.

      Obama only looks “left” if your entire spectrum is limited to him and Romney. To the rest of the world they’re barely separable – right-wing, corporatist authoritarians just like Bush was.

      But given that above you wrote: “the Bushes served government, including W’s eight successful years as governor of Texas, with honesty and dedication” and “[the welfare state] has divided our population and devastated the families and upward mobility of minorities” it seems safe to assume you’re completely out of touch with anything except far-right America’s Libertarian Opposites World.

  20. Its like Obama wants to rob a traveler and then tell the traveler he
    should be grateful for using the road to get home, and adding, like
    Tony Soprano, “don’t think you don’t still owe me”.

    Without the use of force or threat of force, backed by guns, as in
    taxing authority, no one would go along with any of this.

    So all the socialists out there, like Obama, please put away your guns
    and leave us peaceful people alone. We don’t need you or like your
    second hander values.

    Obama never got anywhere on his own merit, and is eaten up with anger,
    hatred, and envy of all those who did.

    But maybe people can change.

    I read that because of the pressures of the campaign he is going to
    release the last ten years of his birth certificates and his last 18
    social security numbers. Well thats a start.

    • Hooray! we have a post from someone (Mayberry) who knows and faces facts about Obama — and says it well! rom’s post on charity ain’t too shabby either!

  21. Ah, I like 58 comments, so far! Somebody is getting popular.

    I would add my $.02, but, I’m enjoying the back and forth too much.

    Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap!

  22. Whoever wins the election the USA is toast. The dollar will collapse after the elections once China issues YuanBonds to the world, free float their currency. I would rather put my money in Yuan Bonds than Suisse Bonds. Who has the biggest army and vastest natural resources (Material and human)?

  23. If individuals want to contribute to charity there is nothing stopping them. It is when politicians think it is a good idea to force me to pay to others chosen by them that problems occur.

  24. SAVE ME!! SAVE ME!!, cry the masses. Please, Mr. Politician, please, Mr. Corporate CEO, please don’t cut me out of the deal. I will do ANYTHING you say for another hit of hopium!

    Let me get down on my hands and knees and beg you for salvation, for I will genuflect at the twin alters of the rule of law and consumerism.

    You people need to grow and pair and stop arguing about who is the more benevolent henchman.

  25. Folks — we have two major perceptual disconnects here: (1) lack of definition of terms, especially “right” and “left”, and (2) ignoring the fact that CAMPAIGN utterances (“what you SAY”) correlate very weakly with what will be done if elected and even what HAS been done and attempted (“what you DO”). [drsmithey asks "why has everyone shifted to the centre" ? I assume he's facetiously pretending to be puzzled by the traditional campaign scrambling to the center for votes].

    Romney — when governor of MASSACHUSETTS — helped install socialized medicine; in this year’s Republican primaries he promised that he would get rid of Obamacare on his first day in office. “Indefinite detention” OUGHT to be but IS NOT a significant campaign issue. What will he do if elected? The grass roots didn’t prefer Romney, but must choose between the two Party nominees — Ron Paul is not a choice, nor is Governor Jindal (my choice) or Governor Daniels, two proven superstars.

    Obama’s posing as warrior, promoter of private sector jobs and domestic energy, etc. is completely fake, while his open mike whispering to Medvedev (sp.?) is real. He is thoroughly socialist, anti-Constitution rule of law, anti-democratic, anti-Judeo-Christian (American) values, and racist. He will resume the despotic practices of Chicago corruption, Alinski (Communism), Wright (racism), Farrakhan (Jihad and racism), Ayres (anti-American terrorism), Soros (anti-UK and US), et al. How do I know? By what he has done, written, and shared with associates.

    If I may be allowed another protest: I see lots of informative and interesting pedantic theory and past history. But haven’t we learned anything from the 20th and 21st centuries? If a Romney is as bad as an Obama, then why did so many die to end Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan? Were post-war East Germans as well-off as West Germans? Would South Koreans be content to emigrate to North Korea?

    And another: The US founders proposed the absurdity of self-rule. With the considerable help of France and fortune, they got a chance to try it. It worked for over two centuries before decline from within brought on the current crisis. So shall we conclude that the tyrants of all times and varieties are correct — that people must be RULED? Or shall we try again with Jefferson, Madison, et al?

    • My main two reasons against Romney:

      1/ Keener than Obama to strike Iran
      2/ Keener than Obama to create a trade war with China.

      These two eventualities could have dire consequences for a United States dependent on global oil, global goods, and global supply chains.

      I won’t support either of the major party candidates. I really like Romney’s rhetoric on Americans building businesses, but I don’t like his view that corporations are people. I have huge problems with Obama, but I don’t think he’s likely to stir up a major war like Romney is.

      So my view on the election is neutral. Romney could get people like me to reconsider by naming Ron Paul as his VP pick and changing his stance on foreign policy, indefinite detention and the PATRIOT Act.

    • “The US founders proposed the absurdity of self-rule. With the considerable help of France and fortune, they got a chance to try it. It worked for over two centuries before decline from within brought on the current crisis. So shall we conclude that the tyrants of all times and varieties are correct — that people must be RULED? Or shall we try again with Jefferson, Madison, et al?”

      The conclusion that might be drawn is that people are best served by minimal governance, in as small a group as is possible. The larger the group, the larger the power that can be diverted to the few.

      The corporation is THE example of the near-perfection of the group, in legal-form, its power manifest to the degree where it has been granted the rights of the individual in the U.S.

      The near-perfection of its form comes from its ability to gather labor-value from the masses and transfer it to the few. In the future, legal-man will supplant the corporation with an even more effective method to transfer wealth, but for now, we can only marvel at the efficiencies and paradoxical nature of a mechanism that at the same time causes great increases in productivity and relative poverty.

      The founding fathers understood the dangers inherent in any system [especially corporations] and therefore predicted that there would come a time where the people would have to once again take power back from leadership and start anew.

    • Don,

      I am at the point of walking away from all these arguments. I realise that the age of the Gutenberg press created the feverish intellectual environment for philosophers and Luddites to come together and actually implement the systems you talk about.

      Now it is only us learned men shouting among ourselves in some small corner of the internet. How do we gain the attention of the Luddites when they have so many distractions (Ipods, Ipads, Kim Kardashian, etc etc).

      I note John Aziz’s posts gain the biggest interest when the Question of Communism/Capitalism, Right/Left, Democrat Republican are discussed. The Political shills come out to argue their case. US Politics is feverish. I wish the USA wel in November. After the clarity of the November elections is crystalised, the World players will make their political moves. I hope the USA comes through this period. For Australia’s sake.

      • ” I hope the USA comes through this period. For Australia’s sake.”

        BR, you have to look at this stuff in the medium to long term. The U.S. still has all of the advantages [technology, military, resources [especially food], higher education, stability [relatively speaking], two oceans and two friendly countries bordering, and MASSIVE wealth potential.

        Although pretty screwed-up at the moment, it will be the U.S. that dominates the post-crisis period [2030-2075].

        As for the short-term, anything can happen [and probably will!!]. And I wouldn’t get down on people so much because most people just want to go about their lives and be left alone. Last time I looked, I don’t remember governments asking people if they wanted to opt-out of citizenship.

        Personally, I think people should have this option [and I believe this will come to pass].

    • [drsmithey asks "why has everyone shifted to the centre" ? I assume he's facetiously pretending to be puzzled by the traditional campaign scrambling to the center for votes].

      No, he is wondering why everyone has been shifted to the left on the graph compared to their locations on all the other Political Compass graphs.

      There is no “centre” in (mainstream) American politics once you are comparing internationally (or objectively). There is only “right”, “far right” and “even further right”.

      • drsmithey: If you would be so kind as to define what you mean by “Right”, I will try to understand. AZIZ wrote that Right (L-R being economics) includes Austrian economics, and that Up (“Authoritarian”) – Down (“Libertarian”) in this two-dimensional world is “civil society”.

        Descartes gets credit for two-dimensional charting, and someone added a third to plot space. Einstein complicated things with a fourth dimension, and cosmologists reportedly have raised the count to at least eight. So how do we presume to describe human behavior/emotion/prejudice/awareness/ethics/etc. (in large groups, no less) in a two dimensional “Political Compass”?!?

        • If you would be so kind as to define what you mean by “Right”, I will try to understand.

          I doubt that very much, especially from someone who considers W’s presidency to have been “honest and dedicated”, but Obama’s – which is largely carrying on the same policies – to be corrupt and destructive.

          The political compass measures economic policies on the X axis and social policies on the Y axis.

          Right-wing economic policies are usually along the lines of low taxes and regressive tax structures, high levels of privatisation, little to no regulation of industry, and little to no public services (education, welfare, healthcare, etc).

          Left-wing economic policies are usually along the lines of higher taxes and progressive tax structures, low levels of privatisation, strong and extensive regulation of industry and comprehensive public services

          Authoritarian social policies tend towards restricting individual behaviour, along arbitrary “moral” lines (eg: anti-gay-marraige, illegal drug use, curfews, etc).

          Liberal social policies tend towards restricting individual behaviours only where direct risk of harm or disadvantage to others exists (eg: drink driving laws, anti-discrimination laws).

          So how do we presume to describe human behavior/emotion/prejudice/awareness/ethics/etc. (in large groups, no less) in a two dimensional “Political Compass”?!?

          They don’t. They pick a couple of prominent dimensions that have been observed to correlate strongly with overall views. Contrary to your paranthetical, this is something that is *much* more applicable and accurate when applied to large groups than it is to individuals.

  26. “And even if Obama was talking about infrastructure and the wider economic system (which I suspect was the case) it is taxpayers who fund infrastructure creation”

    There is a chicken and egg problem here. The fact is that these things occur simultaneously, whereas you seem to be framing it as if one is due to the other.

    The analogy I’ve always found illuminating with taxes is a salesmen, where a proportion if his sales go to the company he works for. Without the company, he’d have less than he did even after the company took its share. Similarly, without the current form of government, business owners wouldn’t have even their post-tax income.

    I’m not sure why Obama phrased it the way he did. But statement one is not nonsensical.

    • I tend to agree that infrastructure creation does also create wealth for taxpayers. But I believe fairly strongly that it is the private sector that is the engine that drives this complex and multi-dimensional creature.

      Why? Take away the private sector’s willingness to fund it and you have an empty shell that can accomplish nothing. Take away government and the private sector will still exist (albeit, I would probably agree — although I am not going to raise any Somalia analogies — in a diminished form).

      • Study the Victorian Gold rush (1900’s). Government could not implement the infrastructure quick enough and the private sector moved in to satisfy the market of mining men scrambling all over the world. The US West is probably another example.

        We have the technology to tax cars as they use roads. See eTag. This means the private sector can now build roads. We have the technology to capture and clean rain water. That means the private sector can sell water systems. We can even compost our own waste. No need for a sewerage network. With independent solar systems and power generation, we no longer need a electricity provider. In theory everything can be privatised, and if given the chance, people can go off the grid to avoid predatory monopolistic pricing.

  27. USA politics. Fear mongering. Guerrilla marketing. Even John’s site competes for eyeballs.

    Check out the latest in paranoid pandering to promote various business models.

    Then note the advertising of the website. http://www.trutv.com.

    This is a Time Warner business.

    The USA with its 911 wake up call now has a paranoid government making a element of society more paranoid than it really is. It is feeding on itself. USA culture is getting sicker and sicker. Business is making money out of creating movies, you tube clips that feed the paranoid market. This could make unstable individuals sicker and sicker. I sometimes believe in censorship, as it protects the vulnerable members of society.

    I personally can’t wait for the USA elections. At least then we will have 6 months of Political focus, before they start to engage in electioneering again. It is like a soap opera.

    • BR, the empire business isn’t exactly neat and tidy. Lots of bad stuff going on [as did take place in all previous empires], but when you look at the fundamentals, there really isn’t anybody out there who can displace the U.S.

      China might [eventually], but they’ve got some serious obstacles to overcome. The U.S. also has [under all of the oppression going on] a serious tradition of freedom which I believe will win-out in the end.

      Remember, it is the Elite who screwed-up big time here, so they will get their act back together and bring forth another system that will work better [sound money, less corruption, etc.]. After all, it’s in their interests.

  28. To drsmithey of Jul 27 03:03:15: Thanks for your clarification of the “compass” and for your personal put-downs which clarify that you stand with the currently-radical US Democratic party in the strategy of attacking the messenger rather than debating the issue.

    Like AZIZ, your X-axis is economics, and it sounds as though you agree with him that it’s basically state vs. non-state. Similarly, your term “social POLICIES” for the Y-axis implies state/government/law rather than attitude/personal choice/volunteer; HOWEVER, you call low/negative Y-coordinates “liberal” while the “compass” says “Libertarian”.

    Since apparently we’re talking state/government/politics (which are not globally consistent), may we focus on the USA, which you claim has a “rightward-skewed political landscape”?

    The Democrats (holding the balance of power since November 2006 and full control from November 2008 to November 2010) like to call themselves “Liberal”; they vociferously ATTACK Ron Paul/”Libertarian” policy which OPPOSES federal government-imposed healthcare, education, retirement, housing loans, negative income tax, and other various forms of unjustified regulation and “redistributive” forced charity. Would you (and perhaps AZIZ) please explain this contradiction?

    Another flaw in this “compass” is confusion as to WHICH LEVEL of US government is to be classified — federal OR State (and each state’s subordinate local governments). For an example: the FEDERAL government legally* has no powers/authority in charity, education, healthcare, retirement, abortion, marriage, “stimulus”, subsidies, etc. Each of 50 STATE governments, through ITS constitution and laws, may exercise WHATEVER POWERS IT PLEASES, (1) provided that RIGHTS of people established in the US Constitution are not violated, and (2) excluding the powers (war, currency, international treaties, etc.) reserved to the federal government.

    Since you favor classifying group, rather than individual, policy and views, let me pose a hypothetical but reasonable conjecture: {If grass roots “tea party” participants or a majority of INFORMED citizens in states like Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, etc., were asked to vote on same-sex marriage, the majority would respond thus: (1) I personally think it’s wrong. (2) I urge my state legislators to limit marriage to one man – one woman. (3) The federal government has absolute no business in this issue}.

    I wish I could ask “Everyone who has studied the US Constitution and understands its ‘Federalism’ (powers** separated between federal and state government) — please raise your hand”. And “Who knows if the Constitution can be changed?”

    I can’t resist posting two recent emails.

    [A cartoon of Obama at his teleprompters says, "I won't allow the half of Americans who pay no taxes to bear the burden of the other half who aren't paying their fair share!"]

    [In a school election one candidate presented a well-thought-out platform of influencing the administration to consider the needs and wishes of the student body. Her opponent announced that, if he won, he would buy ice cream for all the students. The latter won overwhelmingly.]

    Maybe I’ll take a shot at “the compass”, even though I think it encourages oversimplification and stereotyping.

    * “Liberal” politics has successfully undermined rule of law. Legally amending the Constitution is too slow and fraught with risk of grass roots disapproval, so the people are brainwashed into believing that the Constitution is hopelessly outdated and must be discarded.

    ** Of course the Constitution first clearly distinguishes POWERS of government from RIGHTS of people.

  29. Thanks for your clarification of the “compass” and for your personal put-downs which clarify that you stand with the currently-radical US Democratic party in the strategy of attacking the messenger rather than debating the issue.

    Careful, waving hypocrisy like that around could take someone’s eye out.

    Do not make the mistake of thinking I have anything whatsoever vested in any American political party, nor agree or support their policies in any general sense. From the outside looking in, the differences between the “radical US Democratic party” and the Republicans are minor, and mostly arbitrary. Both favour authoritarianism (eg: “War on Drugs”), both are corporatists supporting extensive privatisation, relatively unregulated industry, little to no support for worker’s rights and low levels of taxation. The nicest thing I could say about the Democrats is they’re less unlikeable than the Republicans because they at least pay lip service to favouring the majority over wealthy corporatists.

    HOWEVER, you call low/negative Y-coordinates “liberal” while the “compass” says “Libertarian”.

    That’s because, not being American, I don’t carry around the baggage you do with regards to the word ‘liberal’. Feel free to use Libertarian if you prefer, but the meaning is quite clear given it is intended to be the opposite of authoritarian and that is the context I used.

    The Democrats (holding the balance of power since November 2006 and full control from November 2008 to November 2010) like to call themselves “Liberal”; they vociferously ATTACK Ron Paul/”Libertarian” policy which OPPOSES federal government-imposed healthcare, education, retirement, housing loans, negative income tax, and other various forms of unjustified regulation and “redistributive” forced charity. Would you (and perhaps AZIZ) please explain this contradiction?

    What the Democrats (more accurately, their opponents) might like to call themselves matters not a whit. Their policies are – like the Republicans – socially authoritarian and (mostly) economically right wing.

    The Democrats are less right wing in that they support things like public education, and as I said above, at least pay lip service to progressive politics, but it’s a relative measure.

    Take, for example, publicly funded healthcare. In basically every modern country there simply is no (significant) debate: it is recognised as the most efficient, effective and moral path. The implementations may vary a bit across left-to-right-of-centre, from Canada’s fully public system through Australia combined public/private system (which, I’ll add, is getting worse the more privatised it becomes) through to Switzerlands privatised-but-compulsory-and-subsidised model that is similar to Romney’s and Obama’s.

    The USA is pretty much the _only_ country where anyone seriously argues against the fundamental principle of comprehensive, easily accessible, publicly-funded healthcare: because they have a political spectrum that is significantly skewed to the right.

    Another flaw in this “compass” is confusion as to WHICH LEVEL of US government is to be classified — federal OR State (and each state’s subordinate local governments).

    No it’s not. They’re measuring policies, not legality.

    Since you favor classifying group, rather than individual, policy and views, let me pose a hypothetical but reasonable conjecture: {If grass roots “tea party” participants or a majority of INFORMED citizens in states like Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, etc., were asked to vote on same-sex marriage, the majority would respond thus: [...]

    Right. Because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be “INFORMED”, right ?

    The issue of gay marriage is really quite simple. The only role the Government plays with regards to marriage is the creation and enforcement of a legal contract. From a Government perspective, denying marriage to homosexuals is denying them equality before the law because of their gender – conceptually no different than, say, denying women the right to vote. So, if the Government should play any role in marriage at all (ie: should marriage be in any way recognised by the law), then it is clearly wrong that marriage be denied to homosexuals (or transsexuals or whatever other designations might be around these days).

    Consequently, this means what the majority might say is irrelevant. It’s fundamentally an issue of discrimination and basic rights and thus shouldn’t be subject to a vote in the first place.

    * “Liberal” politics has successfully undermined rule of law. Legally amending the Constitution is too slow and fraught with risk of grass roots disapproval, so the people are brainwashed into believing that the Constitution is hopelessly outdated and must be discarded.

    This is what’s called laughable hyperbole. Particularly from someone cheerleading George W Bush’s presidency (unless you class him as a “liberal”, but I’m guessing not).

    • Re drsmithey’s of Jul28 05:12:20: Generally, his arguments are frequently off-subject, not fact-based, and, per my dictionary, biased and prejudiced. Here I’ll address the last three.

      1. “Which ….. US government”. He lumps together “policies” of 50 States, their thousands of local governments and, by implication, all of the successive congresses and presidents. If he visits my small town in Texas and inner city neighborhoods in Chicago, he will find that litter is not tolerated here but flying bullets are tolerated there.

      2. Same-sex marriage. When I used that issue to illustrate non-government plus multilevel-government structure, he comes back with accusation of bias, nonsense that marriage is not a legal matter, and insistence that only his bias has merit.

      3. Discarding rule-of-law when politically inconvenient. He evades the issue with an epigram and another put-down. As to nomenclature, he might consider Indiana’s fiscal reformer Governor Mitch Daniel’s practice of avoiding always vague and usually pejorative words like “liberal”. [Note that I used quotation marks].

      P.S. We should applaud his recognition that “liberal” as currently (mis-)used is the OPPOSITE of Libertarian.

      • I finally got up the courage to Google “Political Compass”. Is a mere >300,000 references intimidating to anybody else?!?

        But already I’ve found some enlightenment: believers in the Compass disclaim applicability to the USA; Libertarianism = extreme “classical” (not current) liberalism; “choice” = state-free and “control” = state rule; “conservatives” are less Libertarian on matters of personal and social conduct, and much more “hawk-like” on foreign affairs; Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR were practically identical. [ What I haven't found is, "All generalities are false, including this one"]. So far, I think I can still hold to my assertions, confessing emphasis on recent past, present and future vs. long-past, and on practice vs. theory.

        • I finally got up the courage to Google “Political Compass”. Is a mere >300,000 references intimidating to anybody else?!?

          This from the poster criticising others for “attacking the messenger.

          But already I’ve found some enlightenment: believers in the Compass disclaim applicability to the USA; Libertarianism = extreme “classical” (not current) liberalism; “choice” = state-free and “control” = state rule; “conservatives” are less Libertarian on matters of personal and social conduct, and much more “hawk-like” on foreign affairs; Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR were practically identical.

          When making assertions like these, it’s traditional to quote sources.

      • He lumps together “policies” of 50 States, their thousands of local governments and, by implication, all of the successive congresses and presidents.
        False.

        Same-sex marriage. When I used that issue to illustrate non-government plus multilevel-government structure, he comes back with accusation of bias, nonsense that marriage is not a legal matter, and insistence that only his bias has merit.

        False.

        Discarding rule-of-law when politically inconvenient. He evades the issue with an epigram and another put-down.

        False.

        Three from three. Good stuff.

        P.S. We should applaud his recognition that “liberal” as currently (mis-)used is the OPPOSITE of Libertarian.

        Only in American politics.

        • Before reluctantly abandoning this interesting thread of posts to move on to Azizonomics’ newer ones, I would like to (1) correct another drsmithey mischaracterization of US policies/politics, and (2) offer a new model for charting politics and policy — similar to the “Political Compass”, but more suitable for US history, law and tradition. Then, as Aziz posted July 26, I have attempted to “(very roughly) reflect my own view”.

          (1) It has been established that, in the US, mandatory entirely-publicly-funded healthcare is NOT “the most efficient, effective and moral path”. The multi-thousand-page Oamacare legislation is massively worse than the current grossly inefficient mandatory Emergency Room last resort.

          (2) My model modestly alters the two axes of the “Political Compass” and adds three more.

          X-axis: PROPERTY & WEALTH. Right/positive — toward Laissez Faire. Left/negative — toward Socialism.

          Y-axis: PERSONAL & SOCIAL ACTIVITY. Top/positive — toward Anarchy. Bottom/negative — toward Authoritarianism.

          Z-axis: FOREIGN RELATIONS. Up/positive — toward Isolationism with Military Superiority. Down/negative — toward Warmongering OR Military Vulnerability.

          Non-spatial axis: STEWARDSHIP. Positive — toward Rule of Law and Transparency. Negative — toward Corruption and Disinformation.

          Non-spatial axis: PERSONAL CONDUCT. Positive — Moral Standard. Negative — Scandal and Coverup.
          ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
          I’ll follow with my WAGs & SWAGs on presidents’ administrations, other governments, and Romney, Paul, and others.

        • It has been established that, in the US, mandatory entirely-publicly-funded healthcare is NOT “the most efficient, effective and moral path”. The multi-thousand-page Oamacare legislation is massively worse than the current grossly inefficient mandatory Emergency Room last resort.

          This is another non-sequitur. Your premise is faulty.

  30. The problem with studying economics is that it is a social science rooted in philosophy. You can look at economics from the point of you own personal psychological characteristics (Are you a control freak and perfectionist) or do you believe that there is someone else out there who can make a better decision than you. Central Planners believe they are gifted and can make a decision. Old Russian Statists believed more powerful computers and increased statistics points would solve problems. They thought that the peasant farmer was inferior to the “Agronomist” How can you replace hundreds of years of family experience and knowledge at the local farm soil and climatic condition with a central Agronomist. That is insanity and denial. If Agriculture is the primary rude produce of an economy, it can be applied at more complex manufactures, and even services.

    Read and Study the Ukrainian Holodomor. Central Planners failed and they back peddled by murdering peasants by stealing grain to cover up their failure.

  31. And may I add a classic example of the State interfering in and ruining the market is an Australian example.

    The Australian Labour Government (Left ideology) promoted a scheme to encourage people to put insulation in their roof, to reduce energy bills and carbon output.

    A lot of traditional roofing insulation installers could not compete with Cowboys importing cheap materials and then flooding the market. The obviously went broke if they did not adapt to the competition. Many installers “halved the material” to make it go further.

    The outcome: Shoddy installation, with ineffective insulation properties. Many specialists went broke, trying to compete. Now there are reports of house fires because of inexperienced installers. Many Indian Students were roped into doing the labouring. They were pushed to get it up there at all costs.

    How do I know this? I did the tax return for a labourer who did the roof insulation installation. His boss was just creaming the Government handout. Told him to “split the insulation To make it go further for the same sales price and government rebate.

    This is a classic example of the Government interfering in the market. The Insulation Guys who made a living on reputation and knowledge lost their business. In a free market experts build their business.

  32. Back to “Political Compass” — my attempt to adapt it to US “policies and politics”.

    As per my Jul 06 post above, I have modestly altered the two axes of the UK/Europe “Political Compass” and added three more.

    X-axis: PERSONAL PROPERTY. Right (Positive) toward Laissez Faire/Austrian economics. Left (Negative) toward Socialism/Marxist economics.

    Y-axis: PERSONAL FREEDOM. Top (Positive) toward Anarchy/Eutopian & Commune Colonies. Bottom (Negative) toward Despotism/Maoist China & Nazi Europe.

    Z-axis: WAR & PEACE. Up (Positive) toward Isolationism & Peace Thru Strength/Switzerland.. Down (Negative) toward Imperialism OR Military Weakness/Imperial Japan OR 1930s France & Low Countries.

    4th axis: STEWARDSHIP. Positive toward Rule of Law and Transparency/Truman & Eisenhower Administrations. Negative toward Corruption/Third World Kingdoms and Obama Administration.

    5th axis: LEADERSHIP. Positive toward Personal Integrity/Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, both Bushes. Negative toward anti-social behavior and hypocrisy/Clinton Administration.

    Let’s place heads of state and influential politicians in a broad + or – (or 0) on each of the 5 axes, resulting in an X-Y quadrant and total “score” from to +5 to -5.

    X Y Z 4th 5th Quadrant Total

    Reagan + + + 0* + + + +4
    Clintons (co-Pres’s) 0 0 – – – 0 0 -3
    W. Bush + 0** 0 + + + 0 +3
    Obama – – – – + – – -3

    Romney + + ? + + + + +4
    Ron Paul + + + + + + + +5

    Wash.DC Dems. – – 0 – 0 – – -3
    Wash.DC Repubs. + 0 + 0 0 + 0 +2
    “Tea Parties”*** + + + + + + + +5

    * “Iran-Contra” illegal arming of Central American anti-Communists.
    ** (Justifiably?) imposed unlawful anti-terrorism internal security practices.
    *** Subjective assumptions about individuals’ consensus.

  33. Let’s place heads of state and influential politicians in a broad + or – (or 0) on each of the 5 axes, resulting in an X-Y quadrant and total “score” from to +5 to -5.

    Kind of hard to take anyone seriously when they call Reagan and W Bush presidencies with “integrity”, W Bush (starter of two wars of aggression) as +ve in “War & Peace” with Clinton as -ve, Bush & Obama different on “Personal Property” despite both pursuing the same corporatist policies (especially given Bush really kicking that party off), W Bush somehow neutral on personal freedom despite opening up torture camps, etc, etc.

    You haven’t even made a token effort towards impartiality, or even consistency. You should just write “anything Republicans do is great, or at worst ok, anything Democrats do is bad, or at best tolerable”. At least that would have some intellectual honesty and integrity.

    On top of that, you haven’t presented any argument as to why the Political Compass needs an “adjustment” in the first place, let alone a reason why your obviously partisan input should be considered towards it.

  34. Pingback: 2012 Election - Page 28

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