September 06, 2005

living in the eye of the storm

An old elementary school joke familiar to all is distressingly relevant to the tragic events unfolding in New Orleans. This schoolyard classic involves a vocabulary quiz, a revolving door and what was called a “fat woman” in a less politically correct time. The punch line was something to the affect that the door nearly dis-assed-her.

Sadly, that is probably the most thought most Americans have ever given to disaster planning.

Some of us are thinking about it. Big Business has been very active in what is known as business continuation planning for several decades. As a result of legislation imposing personal liability on Directors and Executives for failure to plan adequately and insurance premium rate pressure from property insurance underwriters, business has had little choice but to get serious about the future even in spite of the quarterly earnings focus. The 9/11 attack should have woke the rest of us up to the perils of catastrophic disasters and invoked a vigorous preparedness response.

What we got instead was a new ineffective bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security.

The failure of this Presidential administration to achieve any kind of readiness over the past four years could not be plainer than it is in the wake of Katrina. There has, of course, been copious coverage on the slow and poor emergency response from FEMA and other organizations charged to answer national distress calls. This is certainly an important topic and deserves substantial attention. There is a lot of information to digest there and I’m sure plenty of relevant stories yet to be told both of heroism in the face of inadequate resources and the incompetence which helped produce the situation. Steadfastly focused by the media on these juicy stories, the American people will as usual miss the greater significance of what is playing out before their eyes.

Missed entirely will be the big picture: the breakdown in social order that occurred when civilization ceased to exist. While the lurid facts of rape, robbery and irrational violence have made headlines, the broader implications deserve serious consideration.

Consider if you will the misfeasance of the government in allowing four years to pass without any serious effort to educate American citizens on how to react in disaster situations. Four years of rhetorical frothing without any apparent attempt to actually plan for the aftermath of an event of this scale.

I suppose that if this administration could not foresee the social breakdown caused by its military invasion of Iraq, it should not surprise us that they could not foresee that natural disasters could have the same effect here at home.

Immediately after 9/11, I remember discussions with a lot of people concerning what would happen if we have another 9/11 scale event. The number one concern in the minds of everybody I talked to was the prospect of civil unrest. The possibility of the total collapse of society around us is very real and this above all else should be what terrifies us about Katrina. Though the problem is both obvious and real, this administration has produced much noise and little else.

I for one am not so naïve as to attribute this mess to unforseeability. While the specific scenario that has permanently changed the face of the Crescent City was perhaps hard to detail, the risk of living below sea level on the Gulf of Mexico was well understood. When The Big One finally hits California we will probably call it unforeseeable no matter what the facts might say to the contrary.

I suppose that if you are one who can not foresee the inevitable large scale disasters of varying scope and nature, then perhaps you are also inclined to give the administration the benefit of the doubt on this one. I view recent history and history generally as teaching that mankind will continue to endure a succession of large scale disasters.

In my short span on this globe, we have had the New York City blackout, the Arab Oil Embargo, Hurricane Andrew, Mississippi River flooding, the San Francisco earth quake and 9/11. What these disasters are cumulatively showing us is that our social cohesion is at an all time low. And even were it not, anyone who has seen Deliverance can tell you that bad things can happen even in America when one is sufficiently removed from civilization. Or in the case of Katrina, when civilization ceases to exist.

Armed with ordinary schoolhouse knowledge, there is simply no excuse for not being better prepared. We live in an era that is truly on the edge in a more real way than at any time since the Great Depression. Thinking about a nuclear device detonated in Houston Harbor should give you serious pause as to the viability of America in the aftermath. Just follow the pipelines and see how quickly our world of material excess could go dark.

And this is just one scary scenario out of a multitude.

Viewed soberly it is clear that there is no substantive difference between what has happened in New Orleans as a result of Katrina and what would might have happened there in the event of a dirty bomb attack. Katrina has exposed how vulnerable America remains.

Unfortunately, this is no schoolyard and the joke is on you and me.

374 Comments:

Blogger Common Good said...

Good post... particularly sliding in the Deliverance imagery. Squealllllll!!!! I think you are all over it on the point that thier is a very thin line between the illusion of civility and total chaos. Maybe it's because, as Prof pointed out, social safety-nets has killed our character. I don't believe that, but at this point I'm not sure it matters. We are what we are... and what we are is a group of humans who require law and order. In a disaster, that would often appear to require military immediately on the ground. There are obviously very strong reasons to avoid that if at all possible... we just need to reevaluate what the definition of if at all possible is given our current state of social cohesion. I will disagree with one of your observations having just listened to today's White house briefing. Our reporters seemed to have finally grown some balls, and are asking questions about blame in reference to being prepared for future disasters. The politicians are saying... we will get to that, but now's not the time to play the blame game. Now's the time to take care of those in need. What total bs. Now is the time to take care of those in need, AND replace incompetence now, rather than later. One of the reporters asked if Bush still supports Brownie. What a perfect question... and one that was dodged. The feelings of one man (Brown, Chertoff) are inconseqential. Whether or not this is a witch hunt is also inconsequential. What matters is an honest, and immediate assesment of the skill level of Chertoff and Brown. This has gone beyond a Presiden't right to appoint and fire. The citizen's really need some recourse beyond waiting for the next presidential election to fix bad presidential appointments. Maybe the recourse is blame game and media. Whatever the means, we need the ability for corrective action when the buddy system is used for key position appointment, and then they are found wanting.

One other ironic observation. This is rich:

The vote in the Senate to get rid of the estate tax for millionaires was suppose to happen this week... I think today. I'm getting my popcorn ready to watch the GOP try and slide that one in during Katrina. Like I said... if you can't say your ideology out loud... it probably stinks.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I would like to suggest one important item for disaster planning. My wife and I are some of those weird folks that would go down with the pet, rather than leave them behind. I say protect the women, children and pets first. The men aren't worth saving... so only save them last.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: “I say protect the women, children and pets first.”

Amen!

Prof. Ricardo

2:59 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

"What matters is an honest, and immediate assesment of the skill level of Chertoff and Brown."

Skill level? What a quaint qualification. Surely there isn't any doubt about how being a lawyer AND heading up the Arabian Horse Association would prepare you for being the go-to guy for disasters.

It IS obvious that he is well acquainted with horsesh*t, Arabian and otherwise.

Jan

5:02 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The descent into savagery was well caught. Of course, we are all gentlemen, and thus will not comment on the, ahem, demographics of the affected area. Copenhagen underwater might see a different response from its population.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Jan,

Skill level? What a quaint qualification.

Jan, I try as hard as I can to not just start every conversation with Bush is a moron, and anyone he puts in office is by definition suspect. You are right of course. This guy was the horse association lawyer, the GOP thinks FEMA should not exist... therefore put the horse lawyer in charge. Note, the guy may be a very nice guy, and WHO CARES. The stakes aren't this guy's feelings, but the 10,000 floating in their attics.

I heard tonight that FEMA told New Orleans that it takes 72-96 hours for the federal government to show up. If that's law, or policy, it certainly needs to be changed.

8:39 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Who cares about whether or not W. Bush has prepared us for a dirty bomb attack?

At least homosexuals aren't allowed to marry! That's what is really important in the grand scheme of things.

;o)

I like Common Good's analogy of politicians before 9/11 being like Hollywood stars. But I think it's accurate to think they are still this way even post 9/11. It's just the image of someone who looks like they are in control of things.

If you think about it, the motive for being either an screen actor and a politician is the same too.

This guy Doug made a good point though about Copenhagen.... as politically incorrect as it is, I have to agree with him.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Ah, and so the seeds of discontent are sewn. Oh, good, I thought you were going to say that Bush’s policies caused the hurricane. I thought I was reading an article from The Onion.

Couldn’t possibly be that the STATE of Louisiana wasn’t prepared could it? Is it possible? Is it possible that the city didn’t do more in the moments/days before the hurricane hit to evacuate more people? To shore up the levies? To educate residents? That’s what Florida does. I’ve never heard anyone applaud the administration for their response to the floridacanes? So did they get those right? No, I suppose that was different. How often are cities like New Orleans evacuated and subsequently scoured for people on rooftops or clining to limbs? What's the faster-cheaper-better way of navigating through flooded streets and rescuing survivors? Have a reasonable sandwich. Try it with some pragmatic bread and a slice or two of reality. This was a disaster – all around. I don’t see why blaming people for it should make all of us feel better. I didn't read any practical criticism that could evolve into a better plan. Is that how we teach our kids? When they spill milk do we blame ourselves for not having a milk recovery and replenishment plan? I don't. Milk gets spilled and you clean it up. You prepare for it by not filling their cup to the rim in the future. You don't incessantly castigate. I guess that's par for this course, though.

It’s unfortunate that these events happen but no contribution to anything good is made in playing the blame game.

“How long will mockers delight in mockery.”

2:24 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Ah, and so the seeds of discontent are sewn. Oh, good, I thought you were going to say that Bush’s policies caused the hurricane. I thought I was reading an article from The Onion.

Couldn’t possibly be that the STATE of Louisiana wasn’t prepared could it? Is it possible? Is it possible that the city didn’t do more in the moments/days before the hurricane hit to evacuate more people? To shore up the levies? To educate residents? That’s what Florida does. I’ve never heard anyone applaud the administration for their response to the floridacanes? So did they get those right? No, I suppose that was different. How often are cities like New Orleans evacuated and subsequently scoured for people on rooftops or clinging to limbs? What's the faster-cheaper-better way of navigating through flooded streets and rescuing survivors? Have a reasonable sandwich. Try it with some pragmatic bread and a slice or two of reality. This was a disaster – all around. I don’t see why blaming people for it should make all of us feel better. I didn't read any practical criticism that could evolve into a better plan. Is that how we teach our kids? When they spill milk do we blame ourselves for not having a milk recovery and replenishment plan? I don't. Milk gets spilled and you clean it up. You prepare for it by not filling their cup to the rim in the future. You don't incessantly castigate. I guess that's par for this course, though.

It’s sad, tragic and disheartening that these events happen. It's even sadder to read the venom spewed by those comfortable in the couch of criticism in the shadow of [one of] the worst natural disasters of my lifetime.

No contribution to anything good is made in playing the blame game.

“How long will mockers delight in mockery.”

2:29 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

But Texas Conservative, Oprah said: 'This should not have happened'

We all know, if Oprah ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. :-)

Very good points sir.

Prof. Ricardo

9:03 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

No contribution to anything good is made in playing the blame game.

Doesn't look like a game from where some of us are standing. The contribution of removing incompetence immediately will serve dividends going forward. Of course, the bigger picture isn't about individuals, but rather about ideology. If you put the government is evil, government should be minimal, FEMA shouldn't exist crowd in charge of domestic emergency needs, you get what you paid for. Turns out the GOP has an edge with the public with foreign wars. My guess is the public is about to wake up to the GOP cries of shrink the government shortcomings when it comes to domestic federal government needs. Should be interesting... I have my popcorn ready.

What's the faster-cheaper-better way of navigating through flooded streets and rescuing survivors?

You really haven't been paying much attention. That statement has almost nothing to do with the core of the American outrage. Let me help you out... and then you can give it your best college try at defense. It should be interesting.

1) Two main gathering points occured after the Katrina in New Orleans a) Superdome b) Convention Center

2) Once at these two main gathering points, nobody gave them water or instructions for days. Note... that's days, not hours. Not one military helicopter dropping off water. Not one military ship/boat coming down the Mississippi droping water off at the Convention Center (you do realize the Convention Center backs up to the river).

3) Anyone with a brain can figure out the State was out of it's league once the Levees broke... that was on Tuesday. Anyone with a brain could figure out this became a FEDERAL disaster/need immediately. Michael Brown ("Brownie") admitted on Thursday (late) that he didn't even know people had gathered at the Convention Center. Blame game. Hardly... I suggest a public hanging in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

4) Dozens of reporters roamed the streets... before the huricane, during the huricane, after the huricane. These reporters were able to find their way to the Superdome and the Convention Center. Almost to a man and woman ... including the GOP FoxNews network was asking on a daily basis.... WHERE IS THE F***ING HELP FOR THESE PEOPLE. Harry Connick Jr drove himself in. Let's see... a singer got in, and expecting a water drop from our $ billion dollar military is... what did you call it... BLAME GAME. That's RICH.


Game?... TC you are truly in a bad spot defending this. I feel sorry for you on some level... but not enough to avoid sprinkling a little reality on your ideology bubble. You have many from the loyal GOP saying the Federal government response in this case was an absolute failure. You never hear anyone splitting off from the GOP talking points... and you do here.

The bigger issue going forward is exactly what Tony pointed out in his post. The post-911 planning has been nothing more than an illusion. Ask yourself post-911: How is it possible we are having to ask questions about Federal/State lines of responsibility post-911? Did it not occur to any of our elected types that jurisdiction concerns are every bit as important as centralized computer networks and sharing information with each other. Seriously... citizens of all ideology should all be needing a change of underwear after watching the level of this government's performance. But hey... it's like Yoshi said. Who cares if the billions we spend on defense and the CIA are effective as long as we keep gay people from getting hitched. Good god... we truly deserve to perish.

TC... welcome back. :)

btw... doesn't it crack everyone up how fast the GOP talking points go out. Repeat after me class: No time for the blame game now. We have to save people now. There will be time to look back over this in the future. Yada, yada, yada. I guess that is the just talk, but no chewing gum defense.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Oprah makes me want to hurl... but my wife likes her.

TC did not have one single good point. Name one... I dare you. :)

9:30 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

Welcome back. We have missed your highly alliterative yet misguided epistles. :-D

I think you may have overlooked that the gravamen of my post was that we are clearly still as unprepared for a terrorist act as we were four years ago. Are you suggesting that the high profile reorganization of various government bodies into the Department of Homeland security should not be reasonably expected to have a positive result?

You rehashed the forseeability argument when you said, ” How often are cities like New Orleans evacuated and subsequently scoured for people on rooftops or clinging to limbs?” My answer is how often are planes wielded as missiles and rammed into buildings? How often do cities need to clean up from radioactive fallout from a dirty bomb? How often we have to clean up from a bomb at the Super Bowl, aerosol anthrax at a shopping mall or suicide boats ramming oil tankers in major harbors?

The point is that a specific disaster may be entirely unforeseeable, but the fact that things will occur is entirely foreseeable. The key criticism is this: people have not been psychologically prepared for disasters. This lack of preparedness will lead to future rounds of social breakdown of the nature of what we have seen in New Orleans.

To some extent these issues are just human nature and the product of the welfare state mentality. But it is also clear that better emergency planning would have had well equipped police on the scene much more quickly. I can see you have no problem with the lack of planning just as you had no problem with the lack of planning for civil unrest in Iraq. At least you are consistent.

I suppose I’m just a silly old fool for thinking we can do a little better. Sillier still for wanting a plan in place to give some hope of the survival of civilization when the next big terrorist attack occurs.

But then, perhaps there is a deeper consistency still running here. Maybe you and Prof welcome the possibility of unbridled capitalism that would occur when the lights go dark and ammo comes out. Perhaps your family is far better armed than mine. As for me, that survival of the fittest thing doesn’t seem to be as attractive as it is cracked up to be.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I just want to go on the record. I do not think this administration hates black people. I think that is in bad taste to even say something like that.




I think they hate poor people.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Define what you guys mean by a welfare state.

1) safety-nets (social security, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Medicare)
2) OR just living off the government dole... low income housing, etc.

9:49 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I recieved this email from a friend in Prague. I have altered nothing:

"I have news about the huricane in New Orleans and other places of the U. S. You´re right, it is worse than floods in Prague a few years ago. But we are suprised (I'm not) that federal offices failed so much. There will not be possible in Europe because of state care - a state will try to evacuate all people no matter the monay, it means free of charge (included asocials like some gipses in the Czech Republic). I also think there is a sophisticated level of bureaucracy (in Europe generally) - a network of various types of commissions for natural catastrophes in the regions."

So, of course, I don't like hearing smug criticism about the USA from Europeans. So everyone read this and give an opinion. Any really good points I'll put into a reply to her.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Give her a simple response. People who are hostile to government are in charge of the US at the moment. They would have rather met the people wading out of the waters with personal responsibility pamplets than Federal emergency aid. Tell her that 48% of the US population thinks those conservatives are just have not blind as she does.

I just heard a pretty good speech by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh (D). He said big government is not the answer, but no government is certainly not the answer.

The anti-government zealotry will not work in an age of terrorism. I don't think it was working to begin with... but it's definitely not going to work now. Personal responsibility lectures are useful, and of course represent a core reality... if not enough of us put out the effort, we will not make it. However, it is just too simplistic to define a society or ideology around. When anti-government zealotry succeeds in damaging a needed government service like FEMA, it's time to go to war against that zealotry. It's going to be a tough time for everyone going forward, but particularly for conservatives and libertarians. If there was ever a need for a robust government, and a collective pooling together, it will be during the age of terrorism. In a very sick way, terrorism may actually adjust our Individualism/Collectivism balance.

Texas Conservative... come back. I want to play Whack-a-GOP-mole.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Some humor from the Jon Stewart Daily Show:

Anyone else see a FEMA Medals ceremony coming in the near future?

President Bush has just announced a new Dam to be built in Arkansas. Asked why: Bush said we are going to prevent New Orleans water disasters by fighting them over there.

The Bush administration appears to like Brownie, but not Blacky.

Stewart agrees with me. The press actually grew some balls this last week. We always trash them for their spineless nature, but we should finally give it up for them this last week.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Forgot some Daily Show humor:

We are problem solvers, we solve problems. We are zucchini eaters, we eat zucchini.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Thought of something else to tell your friend. Tell her we haven't had to really worry about who we elected until recently. An underachieving silverspoon got the nod over overachieving folks who came from humble beginnings. We have tended to elect who we would rather have a beer with. Tell her some of us are rethinking those ideas.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common,

Welfare state - a description of government (the state) where, by the force of law, wealth is redistributed from one define-able group to another define-able group regardless of what objectives are trying to be met. These payments may be labeled transfer payments, aid (either foreign or domestic), subsidies, loan guarantees, etc. Any systematic reallocation of wealth to fit the models of fairness that the legislators desire. An expenditure for a specific good, even though some may benefit over others, is different from a reallocation of wealth.

We often erroneously label it “income redistribution.” The income is not redistributed. The income is earned by a person and becomes his wealth. He then reports to the government his “income” and, based upon a complex formula of applied to his income, his wealth is transferred under penalty of law to be reallocated to, usually, a larger voting block than the one who just gave up his wealth.

Welfare recipients are not dumb. They know from where their bread is buttered, and they vote accordingly. Knowing this, and the monstrous growth of government, particularly in the social services area under Bush, is understandable. That’s where the votes are. Which makes your pitiful cry of small/minimal government preaching about the conspiracy of Bush and his administration laughable. Quote me the last time his administration cut a budget item? I’m genuinely curious. I bet I can find 20 increases for every cut.

Finally, a necessary component in the “welfare state” is the destruction of individual rights and the rise of group rights. Women, minorities, poor, farmers, students, and elderly become groups to be segregated from the individual rights, and defined as a group with rights, so enabling the “group” to receive, ahem, a “group” discount in the tax lottery (to use a term dear to you).

C.G.: “TC did not have one single good point. Name one... I dare you. :)

“Couldn’t possibly be that the STATE of Louisiana wasn’t prepared could it? Is it possible? Is it possible that the city didn’t do more in the moments/days before the hurricane hit to evacuate more people? To shore up the levies? To educate residents? That’s what Florida does. I’ve never heard anyone applaud the administration for their response to the floridacanes? So did they get those right? No, I suppose that was different. How often are cities like New Orleans evacuated and subsequently scoured for people on rooftops or clinging to limbs?”

Sounds better every time I read it. Want me to post it again? :-D

Prof. Ricardo

2:12 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common,

I just want to go on the record...I think they hate poor people.

In this “welfare state” we pay people to be poor. We subsidize it. We subsidize a lot of things.

Being intimately acquainted with the tax law, I see exactly what they subsidize. We deduct this, get a credit for that, phase out this, tax something else differently. In addition to the graduated tax system of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% rates, there is a phase out of credits, deductions, and exemptions, thus dramatically increasing the marginal tax rate of every increasing dollar earned. It is possible to be in the 15% tax bracket, but pay a 43% marginal rate, that is, every next $100 you earn, you pay $43 to the government. We tend to do those things we get paid to do and not do those things that get penalized. If we ask an elderly person on social security to work at Wal-Mart and they, with all forms of income like interest, dividends, and pension, have the blistering sum of $32,000 income a year, the next $100 they earn will deduct FICA of $7.65 and federal taxes of $43.15, for a total of $50.80. Given that they will probably not bring the Wal-Mart store to them, they will have to add in commuting expense, higher meal expense away from home, etc. Most, if they know where they are in the marginal tax bracket, would probably not wish to work for only 49.2% of their stated wage. The disincentive is great.

Conversely, those clients of mine who are receiving child credits, education credits, and particularly the Earned Income Credit (EIC) know that they can’t “earn too much” or they will lose their “free money.” So people being paid by the government follow the money. If the IRS says, and it does, that you can’t have investment income of greater than $2,650 (2004) or you loose your EIC credit, maximum of $4,400 in the sweat spot, then there is a point where $1 more income costs you $4,400. Ouch. I had that happen with a client two years ago. They had a little rental property in addition to their very small income. They had a disincentive to earn any more investment income. So people knowing the tax law, or more probably, knowing the welfare and unemployment compensation laws, know how much money they can make and stop their productivity (or reporting of it, ie cash under the table, wink, wink) at that point.

Those persons seeing that often we, the government, are paying people to be purposefully under-productive probably wish to not make that mistake. Unless you want people to live in horrendous poverty, you can not pay them into prosperity, they must earn themselves into prosperity. The best way to do that is to not pay them to be unproductive. I hope that is what Bush wants. But you maybe right Common Good. If President Bush wishes to continue the welfare state status quo of paying people to remain attached to the addictive teat of Aunt Sam (formerly Uncle, but was castrated by FDR like programs), then I too will conclude that he “hates the poor.”

Prof. Ricardo

3:18 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I'm going to ask my friend if when the Czech Republic had their flood was Brussels in charge or was Prague?

It seems logical to me that the state should evaulate the problems and the solutions PARTICULAR to their region, come up with an expense bill and a justification for it, and hand it to the Federal government for whatever's over their state budget.

It seems more efficient that way.

As far as I know, the E.U. gave money to Prague, but locally they took care of their problems.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I really need to keep reminding myself to be careful what I ask for with you around. :) And, NO... I don't need you to post TC's attempt at protecting Shrub.

I've always thought Welfare had to exist to some form, because we never have 100% employment. I've also thought it would be much wiser to have Welfare recipients show up to do some form of work (even if not profitable or break even for the employer... i.e. government). Another words, I could see value and dignity provided to a Welfare recipient by having them do something to get the check... i.e. even if that work costs the government MORE than the check. It's the mindset and dignity that keeps a human in the game, so to speak. So I'm sure you are agreeing with me up to this point... well, pretty sure. But let's jump to the group that will not work, or can't work, or yada yada yada. Bottom line, we will always have a percentage that will not work. Let's assume we all agreed that starting tomorrow, those people who could earn food, but chose not to, WOULD NOT RECEIVE food.... at least not from our tax base. Obviously at first, these will be big numbers. Once many die off, or others get the message, maybe this number goes way down... but never zero. We will never have 100% employment, and we will always have those who choose not to work, or those who are on the borderline of being able to work (judgement call involved here... I nominate Prof to make the call).

So here is my question, Mr. Prof. You have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this issue... those sucking off the welfare tit. Give me a policy to manage those starving off once the policy is invoked. Should we let them die off in jail? I'm serious, because I think it would represent a massive increase in society risk until enough starve off. I'm not asking in terms of morality. I'm asking in terms of the reality we will always have a bottom dweller, refuse to OR not competent to work minority. What's is our smartest approach to this problem?

3:24 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

then there is a point where $1 more income costs you $4,400.

I didn't think it ever happened that way. I thought each ADDITIONAL dollar was always subject to the higher rate or penalty. That's really, really dumb. No wonder you are as insane as me... you are looking at that BS all year. You know my position of being for progressive taxes is not the same as saying our tax system isn't way F***** up. I'm for a much, much simpler system... but not as simple as a flat tax. :)

3:30 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Funny thing is, the state and city moved those people to the convention center and the superdome. See any correlation here with what the issues are. The federal government no matter how big it gets does not have the right to step on the toes of local government no matter the case. Have you seen the photos of all the school buses that "drowned" while they were...wait....wait...there you go sitting still without the engines running. The city had all the resourses it needed to get those people out in time. The really sad thing is, everyone thought N.O. would get hit head on. They all thought they lucked out, dropped their guard and then fell behind on what they should have been doing. This is totally a state or city problem, and now that the Feds are going in to clean up their mess people are castigating them for what. HELPING? you people make me sick with your jump on the band wagon and bash anyone that does not serve your ideology.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I have a suggestion I think most would agree on. Yeah.. I know that's a long shot, but hear me out.

The military has something called an after-action report. Why wouldn't the federal government just have something similar that is automatic with any use of Federal disaster aid... i.e. FEMA. No Congress, Press, administration CYA dances required. Just an automatic scheduled, standarized measurement and review of the federal, state and local response. We could also avoid this we can't do this blame game now bs. We could have a staffed audit function from hour 1 of a disaster. I don't think that would take all of the politics out of it, but removing the grandstanding of demanding/asking for a review wouldn't happen... the review would be automatic. There should be built in measures in special circumstances to remove incompetence early.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

The city had all the resourses it needed to get those people out in time.

This is totally a state or city problem, and now that the Feds are going in to clean up their mess people are castigating them for what.

You are absolutely the first I have heard say this shouldn't have involved the federal government. We can disagree on when and how the federal government should have become involved, but it's not even close to rational to say that the largest natural disaster to occur on our nation's shore was ONLY A STATE issue.

I don't want to make you sick. This is just a forum for debating ideology, beliefs, policy, etc... even under challenging times. In fairness, if I make you sick, then Hastert and Frist make you sick... they just announced a formal review of Katrina goverment action.

The city had all the resourses it needed to get those people out in time.

Actually, that's not true. I heard that issue discussed. The number I heard was 200-300 available buses in New Orleans. I think that number was the total of the school buses and the commerical buses. The projection was they could get something like 10,000 people out of town per hour. It wasn't feasible on their own. You have to figure the number of trips, and return trips to get the next load. I'm not sure if return trips were even possible... they reversed the traffic flow to one direction to get the folks out of town. The other thing many don't factor in, is that it is not a trivial decision to order total evacuation. There can be serious consequences to that order, and nobody wants to do that if the Huricane is going to miss. People are likely to die in a mass evacuation, particularly the elderly. Of course it is the best of two bad choices if the Huricane is going to hit. I am not arguing that a robust evacuation plan should have been in place. I would argue that any plan with any ounce of common sense would include massive FEDERAL help if the city turns into a large lake.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

I like how incessant criticism of this particular administration ends up under the umbrella of "we can do a little better." Certainly there is a great deal of room for debate from that point. The problem is we're never at that point. It's like a baby that is born weighing 15 lbs. It never gets to wear the 8-10 lb onesie. No, [we] start at "incompetence", ignorance and a willful neglect. As Curmie pointed out, flying planes into buildings, although scarcely thought of before, was by and large unforeseeable. That was almost the oblivious beauty of a pre-911 world where we didn't fill our coconuts with thoughts like that. The issue I take is with rancorous attacks in light of this tragedy against an administration that only for the first time implemented it's national response policy. It's unfortunate that the stakes were so high and mistakes were so criticized on the heels of describing a wife, upon eminent death, telling her husband to "Take care of the kids." So what do [we] decide to talk about, the spilt milk. Where was this discussion by all [us] masters of hindsight BEFORE the hurricane hit. Mastering the obvious is easy. It's just not a profitable medium for ascertaining lasting change.

Look, the federal government has a role in this stuff. The National Response policy includes language that allows the government to supercede local athorities. The problem is, the liquid hasn't changed state and people have already crucified the administration. It puts people on the defensive - and it's not a defense of the GOP - as simple-to-criticize as that may be, but it puts a clear, reasonable and pragmatic thinking on the defensive. People are just so ready to have an "It's Bush's fault these people died" mentality that no matter what the evidence is, he's toast on public opinion.

So that was my point. If it wasn't for me, and maybe a few others, there would be no optimisim here. There would be incessant attacks with razor thin presumptions of guilt - far removed from any rational process to obtain truth. Maybe I do serve a purpose here.

And I appreciate the attempt at educating me but I did not make application to your "learning institution."

I suppose I’m just a silly old fool for thinking we can do a little better.

Oh, c'mon, you're not silly. :-)

4:49 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Yeah CG, and I guess that Ms. Clinton's special interest digging commitee will find out that La and N.O. never asked for help up front. And that is what we are talking about. I agree that at some point FEMA could have had the presence of mind to stage some more supplies and move faster to cover their buts down there, but everybody is jumping on the band wagon and blaming the easy target with Bush and his administration, but the real blame lies in one spot, and cities and states need to take heed and realize that they are the first in a line of defense on situations like this. They could have done what it takes and they could have requested help or "staging" of relief supplies ahead of time, but that never happened. I can look up a bulls a** to see what a T-bone steak looks like but I would rather just takae the butchers word for it. No-one can read anybody elses mind. If there was a problem with the line of communication, it starts with local government, not federal. Their people their responsibility

4:53 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

you know it also occurs to me that even if we had staged supplies for the possibility of a direct hit on N.O., all that material would have been moved to Miss when the course changed and we would still bein this mess. Hind sight is 20/20 and we can coulda shoulda woulda'd all day long. Point is that there is one side of this country that is looking for anything it can to crucify the current administration, and this is the poorest excuse to do that, using the tragedy of others to further an agenda that is NOT the will of the people is obsurd. Y'all just need to quit it

5:00 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I think Randy has a point that ultimately it was the local authorities fault for not having those levies prepared.

The federal government has a role to play, ie, send some engineers and money, as needed, to strengthen the levies. But the initiative must come from New Orleans itself.

The federal government should manage things on a macro-level. The state, city governments should manage things on a micro-level. Having evacuation routes planned and reinforcing those levies so that they didn't bust to begin with, those are local resposibilities.

The subsequent clean-up is a different story.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Bottom line, we will always have a percentage that will not work.

Yes, but that percentage is minuscule. They are truly mentally ill. IF you are going to delve into welfare, it should be for those who can not work, not those who will not work. Let’s say out of a 1000 people, 80 are on welfare. I’d say 10% are unemployable to any degree (severely handicapped, mentally/social not compatible, etc.) 89% of the 80 are employable, the 1% is so severely maladjusted he/she will live under a bridge, and is probably there already because even with support, they probably can’t keep an apartment or gubment project. I have great faith that these 89% can be useful, productive, and improve their lives dramatically.

...Once many die off, or others get the message, maybe this number goes way down...

New Orleans is a city of poverty. When you saw the evacuation, what did you see? Mostly blacks, mostly (God forgive me...) able bodied black men and fat women. Now all of us visit the fridge a few times too many, but goodness... A lot of these folks were from the projects. They love to eat and they wouldn’t die off. Hunger is an awesome motivator. They actually want to work. But if they can work their buns off for $1000/month, less taxes, commuting, nice clothes, or make $800/month watching TV, well, that extra $50-150/month is not worth 215 hours of work.

We will never have 100% employment,...

And we shouldn’t strive for it. Unemployment in a stable environment should be 3.0-4.0%. The market system needs this pool of people to supply changing economic demands, people moving, etc. However, unemployment above this level is almost always caused by government inflating the money supply to pay for things it feels it can’t tax. The over stimulus of inflated money sends bad economic information to businesses. They hire based upon this “new demand,” and when the government gets caught with it printing press drawers down, it shuts down the press. Businesses wonder where all the demand went, loose money, then reluctantly let employees go. This recession is then cut short by Super Gov. re-stimulating the economy by, TaDa!, printing more money. This government induced screwed up economy is the source of excess unemployment. The business cycle of growth and recession is government induced. Go back to a gold standard, meaning no more inflation. Prices become stable. In this country the relative wage of the worker went up every year until 1973 when we went off the gold standard. Nixon was free to inflate. Since then with a few minor exceptions (inflation adjusted) real wages have gone down. It now takes two incomes to buy a nice house.

Give me a policy to manage those starving off once the policy is invoked.

They won’t starve off. They are no different than you or I. Dictator Professor thus proclaimeth the answer:
1) Guarantee current welfare recipients will keep their checks coming for one year. Then WHAM, no more...ever.
2) Remove the restriction of making money while on welfare. They make $100,000, they keep getting payments. No negative incentive to earn.
3) Refuse any new welfare recipients period.
4) Repeal the minimum wage.
5) Offer tax credits to companies that hire welfare recipients. 25% of wages (Max $2500 credit per employee) the first year, 20% the second, 10% the third and final year.
6) Repeal EIC and implement a negative income tax. (I haven’t worked out the numbers here.)
7) Repeal farm subsidies. Sink or swim. No one paid NOT to raise pigs.
8) Implement a stable monetary policy that does not screw with businesses.
9) Exempt under age 21 earned income from FICA and income taxes. If you make $50, you keep $50. No reporting, no lying or hiding income. No need to.
10) Of course a more shallow progression of tax rates would help businesses hire new folks.
11) On a state level, removing impediments to starting businesses, like high license fees.
12) Open up public schools to anybody, any age, for any class. Yep, adults in first grade reading. Kick out anyone that acts up. Including children. When you elevate the standards, the environment and content get better exponentially. The biggest impediment today to public schooling is discipline issues. The biggest impediments to discipline issues is money and mandatory attendance laws. You can’t kick him out of school just cause he beat up a teacher. Bull corn. Launch his hiney skidding across the play ground. Make it an environment of learning, for all ages, including the welfare recipient that may have been shortchanged earlier in their life.

That’s a start. Make it easy to make money. And get out of the way. You’ll be surprised what ingenuity and hard work will provide.

Prof. Ricardo

On a side note. The evacuees should be hired by government clean-up crews for $5/hour + room & board for the families in extremely modest living quarters.

6:51 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"Since then with a few minor exceptions (inflation adjusted) real wages have gone down."

Before I go into this Prof, first congratulate yourself that I actually read "Capitalism and Freedom" because of you (you were one of the motivations anyway). I had it already sitting on my shelf, but I moved it up in the line.... ("Freedom to Choose" will come next...)

In that book it talks about the Gold standard. By the way, it was written before Nixon. But it says there was just a nominal Gold standard, with an artificially fixed world price. The whole world would have to abide by the Gold Standard for it to work. You'll find the chapter easily in the book. Gold became way undervalued because we didn't want to reward the Soviet and South African producers with high prices... we were artificially holding down the price... and it was costing us big time as our reserves were depleting...

And do you think the REAL wages have gone down? I remember getting my first NINTENDO when I was little. It cost I think 200 bucks. Over 20 years later, for 200 bucks, you can buy one kick-ass amazingly impressive piece of video game technology.

And for 30 grand, don't you think you can get a much better car than you could for 30 grand back in 1970?

Bought a video camera lately? The price of technology, at least, has gone WAY DOWN.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

First... a message to the board from our honorable host Curm. I was talking to him this evening, and he thought it would be a good assignment for all of us to try and walk through defining a logical Welfare strategy ... i.e. if we were in charge. Tony would lead this, but he is a bit busy now. Prof and I... who am I kidding, me and ANYONE else on this board are on opposite ends of the spectrum... so I suggest Prof lead this exercise. He is the Prof after all. I see he responded to some of this above, but I can't read it tonight. I have to watch the Agassi vs Blake US Open tennis match. I will throw out a couple of brief ideas, but Prof should lead... if he chooses to take on this mission. Maybe he answered everything I need to know above. I will read it tomorrow.

Consider in the exercise:

1) Do we discern between working capable poor, and those who can't.
2) If so, how do we make that call... and who makes it?
3) How do we treat these two groups? Equally? If you aren't working, then your aren't working?
4) If we are going to make a category of those who aren't capable of working... what's our policy to manage them.
5) (From Tony)... are we all really as geographically mobile as we claim. Consider aging parent issues. Consider two or three generations of "it's all you know"... for example a poor neighborhood in New Orleans. Consider a sick child who has to stay near a specific hospital, but dad can only find work elsewhere.
6) Consider the different flavors lives come in. Consider the working poor who are dependent on grandparents helping with the kids. They could move and improve marginally on pay, but have a net loss because now they have to pay for childcare. Consider a single person that never marries, never has kids. Consider a single mom who loses the main bread winner to cancer. Yada yada yada.
7) If there is a percentage we agree will simply not work, is it better to pay them off? If not, define a very clear policy because these people will be dangerous. Maybe not working when you are capable can be a crime where we can send them to prison. We have the issue now with the beggars on the streets.
8) we can think of other categories if required.

Tomorrow maybe...

8:11 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy, TC,

It looks like we all agree there is still a serious discussion to have regarding Federal/State disaster rules, and particularly looking at post-Katrina.

OK.. that's where we agree. That said, I have no idea why you guys are even trying to defend these poor people trying to survive in the Superdome and Convention Center for days without any significant government appearance. Let's take the position that this should be 100% State and Local. I don't think that is rational when an entire city goes under water, but let's just say we start there as our RULE. It still wouldn't provide a defense of the Federal government being plugged into this disaster, and yelling at the top of the lungs on TV around Wednesday that these poor folks need water... and no previous rules would prevent the federal government from making that happen. However that happened... even if the military showed up and handed the water to the National Guard. Forget Bush for a moment. I'm just not getting how you guys could possibly be defending Michael Brown and Chertoff NOT KNOWING about the Convention center on Thursday. We are talking at least 48 hours post-levee breaking. TC goes so far as to call this trivial... spilt milk or something. Maybe my words were rude...in reference to TC'c comment about schooling. Fine.. but still consider you are calling the Federal government being non-existent at the Superdome or the Convention Center until ... I don't even remember. Friday... Saturday? It's possible the difference in lost lives with an immediate Federal response and the one they actually had could be 5000+ lives. We will never know. btw... I agree it makes total sense that some water supply would have been pre-positioned at all times in the Superdome and the Convention Center. I am not saying the State and Local government don't have huge fault here. I just don't see how that provides a defense for the Federal government in any way. Randy's comments that now they are bitching at the Federal government for bailing their ass out makes no sense at all. No matter how many ways the State and Local government failed.... there is no rational defense you can come up with for the Federal governments action. Maybe you jump to this kind of defense because Bush is under attack. This is the way I look at it. I'm positive Michael Brown should not be in the role of FEMA director. I don't need to know anything else to know that. Chertoff defended him, so Chertoff should be at risk. The FEMA role can't just be run by a partisan soulmate. These are VERY high performance jobs... lives are at stake.

So for anyone who thinks this is just partisan we could have done a little better rant 1) you couldn't have watched what I did all week 2) The outrage is coming from both sides of the aisle. My wife's mother is a diehard Bush supporter... and she is totally disgusted with how the Federal government failed to show up.

Also... whoever suggested it was the State's responsibilty to raise the levee issue. I think that was Yoshi. According to retired Senator Breaux (sp??), they asked for the levee funds constantly. It was constantly turned down. I don't know how he defines "constantly", but it seem that it was definitely asked for.

8:36 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"whoever suggested it was the State's responsibilty to raise the levee issue. I think that was Yoshi. According to retired Senator Breaux (sp??), they asked for the levee funds constantly. It was constantly turned down. I don't know how he defines "constantly", but it seem that it was definitely asked for."

In this case some heads should roll. Common Good, my concern about centralised government is more about efficiency, not principles... I have a weird little idiosyncrasy about efficiency.

Consider trying to protect grizzly bears in Montana. People in Washington know jack sh*t about grizzlies or Montana. So a special team, park rangers, biologists, etc, should design the micro-plans. The Federal government should, if necessary, chip in. Basically, they should only provide the money, again, if the state can't cover it.

The fact that no money was sent to rebuild levies is unacceptable, but doesn't Congress spend the money?

That friend of mine said in Prague they have a "complicated bureaucracy" to solve the problems. I want to say to her that they in Czech Republic had a much more "complicated bureaucracy" before 1989, and it sucked there then. Not only that, but a "complicated bureaucracy" alone couldn't do anything to evacuate the town but give a recommendation/ order. Only a well-equipped military would be able to carry out that job, because from an office miles away from the disaster, a bureacrat actually can do very little.

_________________________________

As for welfare, I've not a problem with it per se. But I think you can't take peoples incentives away to get off of it, ie, the Profs' example make 850 sitting at home from Uncle Sam or 1200 from working in the labor force.

Welfare should be contingent on various factors. A person should be using that little break productively, getting an education, whatever. There should be some rationale for it.

I actually know a woman on welfare. She's a bit mental, admittedly. She lives in a pretty nice apartment, as nice as mine. Free. She gets about 400-500 bucks a month. And true to Prof's stereotype, she's about 375 pounds overweight. She complains she doesnt' have enough money, but really, she has no expenses, no car insurance, nothing. Even food is free I believe, in addition to the 400 bucks or so.

By the way, that's about 400 in disposable income more than I have a month. And guess what it's spent on? Cigarettes. And she complains she doesn't get enough.

She has it made really. If I were in shoes, I'd just sit around and read all day long and become brilliant.

And her son lives with her. He's about 19 now. He's considerably younger than me, I've given him a few rides to the probation officer a few times. I've tried to talk to him about how he could work financial aid and get an education. I've invited him rock-climbing, etc, anything to try and broaden his horizens. Nothing. The kid has no confidence, even when people are trying to help him out.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. However, as the Professor said, "hunger can be a pretty good motivator."

Did I mention he has three different fatherless kids he's left behind, all different women? Idle hands..... well, you know...

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, like a momma bird pushing the babies from the nest. Take some of the safety net away and a lot more than you think will start flying...

They might have to flap their wings pretty damn hard, but then again, so do we. That's how's it is for almost all life on this planet.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

A timely and relevant article from Wired: http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,68789,00.html

7:40 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good, Re: Welfare.
Consider in the exercise:

1) Do we discern between working capable poor, and those who can't.

If you ARE going to have welfare, yes.

2) If so, how do we make that call... and who makes it?

A bureaucracy cannot do it well, because they have no incentive to do it well. They are spending someone else’s money on someone else. That is why effective “welfare” must be done by private organizations. Truly needed will be helped. Truly lazy will feel the hunger of idleness. Private orgs need not necessarily be religious. There are currently great organizations that meet for all kinds of business and community needs: Jaycees, Kiwanis, Moose Lodge, Junior League, Toastmasters, and Rotary Club. Do we think for a moment that no organizations what-so-ever would not fill the needy need that the religious organizations might fail to address? Inconceivable.

3) How do we treat these two groups? Equally?

See #1 and #2 and draw conclusions.

4) If we are going to make a category of those who aren't capable of working... what's our policy to manage them.

In this country we have rejected what used to be considered common sense. It’s so uncommon now, few people still refer to it. For instance, It used to be that criminals paid restitution to their victims of crime. Now we say they owe a debt to society, so the victim is, lets face it, essentially taxed his restitution away by the state. The victim is no better off, the state gets cheap license plates, and the criminal gets a college degree. Something stinks here.

From the Bible, there is a priority list of who gets relief and by whom.
Romans: 12:20 says “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink”
It also says: If a demanding Roman soldier ask you to carry his cloak a mile, you carry it two. Share the burden, share the yolk, meet the needs, feed the hungry, visit those in prison, take care of orphans and widows. As Christians we are commanded to do this. Common Good intuitively knows that these in need should get help.

The Bible is not for simpletons though. It recognizes that there are fools, con men, and sluggards. Life has always been hard. People have always had to work harder for food than we do today. The tendency and desire is to not work as hard as we might need to. The Bible warns against becoming slack in our work. Recognizing that fact and making sure we do not ENABLE people to remain slackers and tend toward laziness is not wrong. Welfare by its design ENABLES people to tend toward laziness.

With discernment and limited funds, private organizations can discern the real needy, and help them, not just with money now, but with jobs and clothing and food and utility payments until they get back on their feet. The goal is always to get over this temporary impediment. If the condition is permanent, there are foundations and organization that do amazing things. My son is a patient with The Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. His multitude of operations over his life have been FREE. I could have never afforded them myself. Through private organizations much great work has been, and can be, done.

Prof. Ricardo

9:35 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I read the wired article. The guy made very good points... similar to the one's you made. That said, his following sentence seems to make no sense.

To be sure, defending the subways makes commuting safer. But focusing on subways also has the effect of shifting attacks toward less-defended targets, and the result is that we're no safer overall.

I disagree. I define safer has prioritizing what we protect. In his own words... we can't protect everything. Starting with subways rather than movie theatres does make us safer, because there is an economic risk factor involved along with the factor of a loss of lives and terror achieved.

Prof,

I read your post. Good post... and obviously Welfare is a VERY broad subject. Maybe it's too much to tackle. You already mentioned many of the things I would hope would come out in such a discussion, particularly figuring out a way to provide motivation even to those receiving welfare $. Like I said... maybe the subject is just to broad. Maybe we could start with a couple of the main tenets, and really work through them.

For example:

You proposed we would discern between the work capable and those that are not. So maybe we could focus on the following:

1) How do we discern between the work capable and the truly needy?
2) Who discerns?
3) A clear management policy regarding those we cut off from Welfare. A need something more tangible than hunger will solve our problems here.

I want to discuss all of the points and ideas you raised, but maybe starting at the base will be more productive than jumping around and disagreeing and details. If you are interested, and have a different way to conduct Welfare class.. bring it on. This is a great test case. It's not everyday you get a shot a schooling a liberal on the right way to conduct Welfare.

Randy P,

Add Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) to the FEMA bashers. Add Joe Scarborough. Add the slug O'Reilly... his version is the federal government was 24 hrs too slow. For TC... how many more die when the government is 24 hrs too slow (small issue? a little better?). (That's O'Reilly and FoxNews spin... it's the best they could do for the GOP. The Federal government was 3-5 days to slow). Add Lousiana Republican Senator Vitter to the FEMA bashers... although they toned him down once the military finally showed up. Watch any one of the White House press briefing this week. Our lemming reporters, particularly the one's who actually witnessed New Orleans in person.. or had network colleagues there... are OUT OF CONTROL OUTRAGED. My point... filter out everything you can possibly call partisan, and you are still left with a failure of Federal government of criminal proportions. This country is split down the middle where many on both sides literally do not respect the other's ideology. There is no point in masking that, and there is no quick fix. The best we can do is automatic review of significant disasters... i.e take as much politics out of it as possible. The 911 commission was a pretty good example. Tony predicted they wouldn't be capable of doing a good job, and I think he was wrong in this case. It looks like they did a very good job... although it's utility is still to be determined. I say just make this review process automatic... i.e. no Senator has to whine in front of the media demanding an investigation. Just have an automatic after-disaster report. We have to learn from every single disaster going forward. We don't have the luxury of playing politics, but we also don't have the luxury of an adminstration claiming everything was done great, when it was obviously a disaster. Brownie's have to get fired, and fired quickly... no matter what their ideology.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Ya know CG the great thing about being right is, it don't matter who is on the other side, your opinion does not change

11:01 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

A bureaucracy cannot do it well, because they have no incentive to do it well. They are spending someone else’s money on someone else. That is why effective “welfare” must be done by private organizations.

I guess this should be broken down into two questions. 1) Who makes the call on who is work-capable? 2) Once that call is made, who provides for the work-incapable, and in what fashion?

Your answer to both is private... and I am reminded why we can't walk very far down this road together. Ironically, if I examine my reasoning for rejecting a private Welfare solution, much of my reasoning is based on slackard-rejection. It bothers you to your core if a work-capable individual slides in and gets something undeserved. It bothers me to my core if a citizen of the US gets to avoid a collective responsibility that SHOULD come with the cost of citizenship (i.e. if we know a percentage of our population will be born work-incapable, then the rest of us must inherit an involuntary responsibility for those individuals). That's the only choice other than providing for a humane death. I refuse to accept that good hearted folks like the Prof inherit the burden of these work-incapble folks while the obnoxious guy at the Country Club sails on conscience free.

So we are both worried about slackards. If push come to shove, I will tolerate some underserving sliding in to make sure the deserving are covered. If push comes to shove for you, you are willing to allow citizens to divorce themselves from a collective obligation (i.e. my definition of collective obligation, not yours).

Bummer... I was really hoping this could be fun.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

Ya know CG the great thing about being right is, it don't matter who is on the other side, your opinion does not change

Yeah... I know all about it. I decided it's much more important to me to be right than be invited back to Southern Hills Country club. Turns out that $170 a bottle wine doesn't make it any easier to digest greed, and a myopic sense of entitlement.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

One more irony... the use of the the phrase personal responsibility.

Some define that phrase in the context of an individual being personally responsible for their livihood and well being. I consider voting for tax usuage that provides appropriate life insurance and safety-net to be a very important personal responsibility for me and my family. It would be irresponsible for me to leave certain aspects of my families fate to the whims of private volunatary action of others. It's my personal responsibility to fight for a society with appropriate collective shared/pooled safety-nets... anything else would be irresponsible.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: You proposed we would discern between the work capable and those that are not. So maybe we could focus on the following:

1) How do we discern between the work capable and the truly needy?


This is not something you can discern from a welfare application. People will complain about aches and pains till the cows come home. You need to stand right beside them, visit them, know them, watch them. So they can’t swing a sledge hammer, how about operate a cash register? A telephone? A sewing machine? Stuff envelopes, open utility bills and data entry? You’ve got to be fairly incapacitated not to be able to do some of this stuff. If you can run past a TV camera man in New Orleans with a 27" TV, you can work.

2) Who discerns?

Someone willing to spend the time with the persons seeking aid AND has incentive to economize.

3) A clear management policy regarding those we cut off from Welfare. A need something more tangible than hunger will solve our problems here.

True. Hunger makes a person seek to be fed, not necessarily to work. So free money is a way to be fed. But if the “free money” isn’t free, then they will start weighing their options. The moment working for money becomes the easier task, that’s when the move will be made.

IF you are going to have a welfare system, then incentive is the key to getting them off welfare. As an incentive, associate work, effort, shame, or great effort of some sort with the check. How about 30 hours a month community service? Roadway trash pick up, wash city vehicles, answer city/county information phone lines, school crosswalk guards, or a security guard at schools or public parks. Think of the support crews necessary for disaster relief. The jobs are endless, the sense of self-worth is priceless when you are a contributor and not a drain. The work ethic is instilled and the jump to private employment, or advancement in public service jobs, is a small step away.

I am realistic enough to know we aren’t going to ditch welfare, but if we can make it smarter, that’s what we should do. But there are those who would oppose all of the above. Those are not just people, they are voters. And if they are taking a cut without attachments, they will vote accordingly. Our founders discussed this two hundred years ago. Buying votes is not a new phenomena.

To me, a real love of these people on welfare demands what we do is right, not just write a check. The love of our own children makes us sacrifice so much for them, but there is a time for discipline, and it hurts the parent as much as the child to demand obedience and better character. If we love these in poverty, lets not secure their position to be multi-generation welfare recipients, but make sure that it is a short stepping stone to the dreams this country inspires.

Prof. Ricardo

11:45 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Good post, and I pretty much agree with most of it.

I am realistic enough to know we aren’t going to ditch welfare, but if we can make it smarter, that’s what we should do.

Absolutely. That was one of the real goals of asking for the dialogue.

But there are those who would oppose all of the above.

Not me... not he part about incentives. I would love for us to finally get better at creating incentives and measuring results against cost. Every year of this democracy, we should be 1 year smarter... i.e. constantly iteratively adding improvement. Obviously, being locked in the deadlock between ideologies on how to fund and manage any solution has prevented much iterative improvement. Welfare is one of those issues Capitalism can't solve on it's own.

I am still left to push you for a more detailed idea how to deal with that 1% work-capable that will not work. Tony and I have a good friend who shows up here on occasion that believes our best bet is to continue to payoff {pick any word you prefer} this element of society. Once you get to this 1%, it would seem it is a discussion of reality and society benefit...i.e. we have left the realm of morality. My gut tells me the best you can do with this 1% *** is keep paying them off, while at the same time striving for incentives that work to move them out of this environment. If not that, then I jump straight to asking what the alternative policy is. Non-cash-receiving hungry people are dangerous... well some are. Some will go live under a bridge and leave you alone... and some you provide you with those pay for service options you encountered in New Orleans.

btw... both the Curm and Prof kids would never require private charity. In fact, I don't call those types of needs charity. In my world, a parent would never have to SEEK assistance for a kid with special needs. It would be automatic, and covered with federal taxes... i.e. safety-nets.

I heard one senator talking about legal help for the New Orleans folks. His point was that you were not equal in our society without access to an attorney. I know we provide attorneys for people who can't afford them that are charged with a crime... I assume that's from federal funding. What about flood victims who need an attorney to get through this disaster, but can't afford one. Should that be voluntary only from the lawyers/law firms... or should we all fund that through our taxes?

1:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Thomas Friedman... yet again, gets it 100% right. I absolutely loved the Grover Norquist comments. If Grover could only perish in a flood... oops, was that out loud? This is similar to the point I made in a previous post. The GOP is perceived as the best party to lead us in war, and therefore 911 worked in their favor. Katrina is the opposite. Everything about Katrina and what society has to work through works against the agenda this administration promotes. Bush and conservatives face a real dilema. Back off acting like they ever really had a mandate (remember the 51%), or continue acting like the Cowboys they are. There choice. Should be interesting. Bush doesn't have to run for election again. Anyone else want to predict how much his own party will shut down Bush and Cheney. I predict Katrina represents the end of the Bush/Conservative party. If they are smart, they will go low profile and bring their misguided game out at a later date. They won't of course. This is the administration of ego and arrogance, and they wouldn't let something as trivial as a natural disaster prove their anti-government mentality lacking. Like Friedman said... can't your hear it coming: "Katrina was your responsibilities, not the government".

"It was just a gut reaction that George Bush and Dick Cheney were the right guys to deal with Osama. I was not alone in that feeling, and as a result, Mr. Bush got a mandate, almost a blank check, to rule from 9/11 that he never really earned at the polls. Unfortunately, he used that mandate not simply to confront the terrorists but to take a radically uncompassionate conservative agenda - on taxes, stem cells, the environment and foreign treaties - that was going nowhere before 9/11, and drive it into a post-9/11 world. In that sense, 9/11 distorted our politics and society.

Well, if 9/11 is one bookend of the Bush administration, Katrina may be the other. If 9/11 put the wind at President Bush's back, Katrina's put the wind in his face. If the Bush-Cheney team seemed to be the right guys to deal with Osama, they seem exactly the wrong guys to deal with Katrina - and all the rot and misplaced priorities it's exposed here at home."

Osama and Katrina

3:12 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

From the Daily Show (I know you guys love this stuff):

You guys want to play the blame game, and we won't play it

sure sounds very similar to:

the one who smelt it, dealt it

3:15 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Be careful of looking at reality through straws

Check out this blog and the comments that follow. Brooks (NYTimes) had linked this in one of his Op-Eds. A most excellent conversation follows.

The anti-911

4:06 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Urge your U.S. House Representative to support the Millennium Development Goals

This is really easy to do..... better if you call them.... it'll be helped by the letters to the editor that I'll be faxing them copies of, just to let them know we are doing more than simply calling them like meek little mice....

9:13 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

My goodness... the GOP network (FOXNEWS) might as well run their operation from the White House. It's pretty scary when a news corporation gets it's talking point at exactly the same time as the rest of the lemmings.

Did you hear that pompus O'Reilly proclaim that it was the Katrina victims fault for being poor. And more priceless Hannity and Coulter moments. Man... it would have been awsome to shove Coulter and Hannity into the Superdome and lock the door.... PRICELESS.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

After 50 posts to the blog, in order of verboseness:
Common Good: 5,649 words
Prof. Ricardo: 2,886 words
Yoshitownsend: 1,361 words
Tony Plank: 1,281 words (incl.orig.post)
Texas Conservative: 669 words
Randy P.: 500 words
StillDreamn: 63 words
Doug: 36 words

Being as how some people are among the privileged in the gift of words. We are going to institute a progressive word taxation whereby words will be reallocated to the word impoverished community. Given the inherent unfairness of our current free market word distribution system, It is up to us to correct natural injustices that happen in the course of society.

We hereby confiscate for reallocation 50% of Common Good’s Words, 35% of the Professors, and 15% of Yoshitownsend’s words. However, trying to be true to government form, only 22 words out of a hundred confiscated will actually make it to the more word impoverished. Tony, the overseer, blog Czar, needs to confiscate 78% of the collected words for distribution purposes, and of course seed-words for the next blog subject.

Dangit! This was another 178 words.

Prof. Ricardo

9:29 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Now THAT was funny. But rest assured that this is no laissez-faire free market. This is no socialist utopia. This is a strict monarchy and if any seizing is to be done around here, I’ll seize it ALL. :-D

But to enter the fray, let me make a few observations.

I am a die-hard capitalist. I totally believe in the market as the best tool for maximizing the economic prosperity of a society. In my view, that is an axiom proven by time and reinforced by common sense. Adam Smith was not so much a philosopher as a prophet.

But our history demonstrates that unbridled laissez-faire capitalism stinks. Just like unbridled government, capital and power tend to accumulate in the hands of a few. We have to have some breaks on power in order for the benefits of capitalism to be fully realized at every level of the social strata.

Any limit on market freedom has a net negative effect on total economic activity. Moderate Liberals like to ignore or deny this axiom because they erroneously believe that it undermines their agenda. Instead, they should embrace the truth and demonstrate why their policies produce a better overall society. Make a clear stand for the notion that while there may be a relationship, the best society is not automatically the one with the greatest GDP.

Of course Liberals will never do this for a couple of reasons. First, the American People are too stupid to follow the discussions. In order to sell a political agenda they must cater to the mass stupids. And that leads to the second point which is that honesty is not on the agenda of the Democratic Party either. They will do what ever they think is best to regain power with no regard to truth of the best interests of the American people.

But I digress. My view on what redistribution I would advocate is that I would only support redistribution in areas where either there has been a market failure to deliver basic human needs to a significant portion of society (e.g. police protection, health care) or the benefit to society is so overriding that reason compels us to do so (e.g. education, national defense).

As much as we would like this analysis to be scientific, it is not. It is more akin to engineering. We know some of the underlying rules, but the system is complex and we do not have the understanding to fully model all the forces. So, we must at times over-engineer and proceed with caution. That means in general avoiding sweeping large government programs and implementing policy in a conservative fashion. Allowing markets to adjust to the regulatory burden in the easiest way possible. Continual review of the costs, benefits and efficiency of the processes.

Sadly, we do none of this.

In truth, there is plenty that Liberals could learn from Conservatives and Conservatives could learn from Liberals if only they could put down their partisan swords and actually work on policy. Instead we fight these endless political battles that take us no where.

I would also add that I am no moderate in the sense that the term is commonly used. I’m quite radical on many subjects. I only sound moderate because of the artificial two-party political axis on which most of us live. I just naïvely believe that if we can just sit down collectively and have a substantive discussion, there is a lot of common ground in American. Unfortunately we would rather fight for exclusive rights to the high ground.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

That's funny. I'm a word hoarder .... just like a conservative hoards income. :)

Tony,

I believe I have said most of what you just said... over and over and over and over, except of course ever calling you moderate. :) You know I agree with your statement that we don't seem capable of getting past the ideology and drilling down to the details. That said, my last dialogue with Prof (the word Nazi) shows that the American public is so split on some fundamental big picture concepts, it becomes very difficult to even find the common ground to start from. You really have to ask the question: is government really the failure, or is the real failure that we are a split society that government can't heal... no matter who we elect? Don't get me wrong... electing different folks would have to help. It's not Bush's fault for wanting to be President... it's our's for allowing it. As I recently read from another's post: Amercian should be a country where everyone CAN BE president, but very few SHOULD BE president.

You guys are the economists on this board, but I would challenge your blanket statement: Any limit on market freedom has a net negative effect on total economic activity. Maybe this is semantics, but I would go so far as to say limiting freedom/implementing rules makes for more robust activity. Without rules (no limits on economic freedom) capital is controlled by the current winners. That doesn't sound like more activity, but rather entrenced winners... as you suggest in your post. Also, it would seem a market needs both sellers AND BUYERS to be robust. It seems like a perfect example where no rules doesn't equal more robust economic activity is when US manufacturers move overseas, and then turn around and sell back to the same market (the US). Someone could be selling the exact same number of washing machines to the US market as before... but with padded profit by using cheap overseas labor. In fact, I think you could paint the picture where the washing machine manufacturer increases profits, but has a net loss of domestic buyers (i.e. less economic activity) because many of those domestic buyers did manufacturing for a living. Regardless... the thrust of your post is correct, which I have said before: this can't all be measured by max GDP. Asking the question I had asked before: If you could have a US with X GDP but 50% at poverty level OR 8/10th X with only 10% poverty... which one do you pick? My survey results so far :) prove that the progressive will pick 10% poverty, and the conservative will pick the 50%. I think that's nuts.

Jeeze.... I have to be way over my word limit. Of course, internet packets aren't really a finite resource.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You wouldn’t be the first person to challenge that assertion. But I do agree that the distinction you are making is largely semantics. You introduce the term “robust” to make your point. I would suggest that is just a different way of saying the benefits are experienced more broadly.

History is an interesting thing to recap. What did a zero regulation environment give us? The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire. Company Stores. Chinese Coolies. Jim Crow (and don’t kid yourself, a lot of that was about economics). Oh, and lets not forget the Great Depression.

Yeah, zero regulation works really, really well.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof got me to thinking. It looks like Tony has really only a couple regular posters... more readers. I'm obviously the only one here batting from the left side of the plate. [ sarcasm ]I could see where my incredibly solid argument would intimidate people. [ sarcasm ] I would like to see Tony get a larger posting community. Let's do a quick survey:

1) if you are just a reader/lurker... post a quick comment confirming you are a reader
2) if I go away, how many of you lurkers would post more? :)
3) if I go away, would you still want someone to argue the progressive side... i.e. who would prefer a primarily Christian / Conservative forum?
4) do you want a politics free zone? I have no idea what that is, but it sounded like a good question.

I'm not really sure your response will matter... as Tony said, this isn't a democracy. It's really just 4 old guys and 1 young guy talking past each other. :)

11:23 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I understand your inquiry, but in my experience lurkers can not be budged. One beer chat site I spent a LOT of time on prior to this blog had tons of lurkers. The administrator did everything he could to coax those people out to no avail. And the people who lurk aren’t not posting because of the views of anyone here. They prefer to just read and that is cool. I would like to know more about who they are, but that isn’t the way this works or even should work.

In terms of numbers, it is hard to quantify the lurkers. There are about six regular lurkers that I am aware of. There are some recurring domains in the stats that indicate a number of occasional lurkers. In terms of hits, I’d say the visible posters here are responsible for around one third of the hits on the blogsite. This ratio changes as my posts get old…the lurkers tend to read less and less until I post again. Right now, I’d say about 50% of the hits are you, Prof and Randy. I have no way of counting the RSS/Atom subscribers.

And of course, we do have a few groundhogs. They pop up out the ground every so often, throw a few nuts at all of us, then go back in there holes for a couple of months.

Since you are curious, I’ll give a list of the countries that surfers have hit my website from. Almost all of these have several hits. And the Czech Republic was on the list prior to Yoshi’s trip to Europe. Actually, quite a number of hits from there. Far and away the most foreign hits come from the UK and Canada. I’m also sure I have not caught all of these because my stat service doesn’t track this and I have to keep it up manually:

Argentina, Austrailia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweeden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uraguay, Virgin Islands, Wales, Yemen.

I get some great international email. I think most folks outside the US are surprised when they run on to an American that is aware the rest of the World exists and wants to have a meaningful interaction with it.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

wow... I had no idea you got hits from that many countries. You would think with Canadian hits, I would get some support here. :)

There are about six regular lurkers that I am aware of.

That's probably homeland security... CIA, FBI, etc.

From your previous post:

History is an interesting thing to recap. What did a zero regulation environment give us? The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire. Company Stores. Chinese Coolies. Jim Crow (and don’t kid yourself, a lot of that was about economics). Oh, and lets not forget the Great Depression.

Yeah, zero regulation works really, really well.


Yes, and how many probably predicted the end of Capitalism if minimum wages, child labor laws, 40 hour work weeks, workplace safeguards, etc. were ever implemented. The hard truth is we need enough invisible hand of the free marked AND enough rules and market interference to make it work. Takes work... no simple formula...

I also agree one of the core problems that forces us to even have this type of discussion in 2005 is that much of economics and capitalism is faith based. It's so complex, anyone can mold it into their ideology and make it sound perfectly logical... at least to them. :)

12:06 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Anyone who thinks this debate is new should read Lochner v. New York. It is a classic case...really, everyone should be familiar with it.

http://www.lectlaw.com/files/case37.htm

12:12 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Did you forget how to do links? Prof can help you with this. :)

1:16 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I didn't think so...but it rejected my HTML. I guess I have special rules.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

[ partisan ]
Bye Bye Brownie. More than just rednecks watched in horror.
[ partisan ]


[ non-partisan ]
Seriously, we should have better Federal systems, auditing and safeguards in place regarding natural disasters that serve to keep politics and personal opinions out of this as much as possible. An automatic... 3rd party review similar to the 911 commision should be in place. An after-disaster-report, if you will. It's obvious we could review ourselves to death, but I think domestic federal declared emergencies warrant it.
[ non-partisan ]

1:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

test...

Suggested economic read

1:29 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Lochner v. New York.

Is that better?

1:31 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Paul Wolfowitz interview

Hey Tx. Conservative, Randy, and Prof!

Check out what this "Conservative" is saying? Looks like the value system is changing..... you guys might have to become democrats at the way things are starting to turn around...

6:46 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"In addition to debt relief, Wolfowitz said he was pushing for the world's rich countries to honor a commitment to double aid to Africa in the next 10 years.

'It is important for the developed countries to keep those commitments. We need to hold their feet to the fire,' he said in a wide-ranging interview."

6:48 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Being the argumentative type. :-D

“Market failures” are rare, and the existence of someone who does not have “basic needs” is not evidence of it.

At this point I think I need to be brutally honest. There is a place for diplomacy and this is not it. We are playing economic scientist. Let the party begin.

The Market system exists everywhere in monetary and non-monetary areas of life. Its efficiency is determined by 1) information and 2) correctly interpreting that info, and 3) implementing a proper response.

If someone receives bad information (artificially held low fuel prices from price controls), interprets that information (fuel must be plentiful), and implements their response (drive like there is plenty to go around), the consequence might be unexpected (gas lines, shortages). The market system communicates price, financial incentive and rewards, and other information. It is possible if a person makes a mistake in items #1-3 that they will not receive correct information and they will receive a unfortunate response, or reward (income) at the end. Wise decisions in the market must always be accompanied with a commensurate reward. Were this not the case, there would not be incentive to seek out good information and make good decisions.

I just got an email from a client that left me last year (at his father’s request) for another CPA. He said he got bad advice from him, has filed bankruptcy, and is coming back to me for his ‘05 tax work. Bankruptcy is unpleasant. However, poor results for poor decisions must exist. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I wish no one ill. I wish no one would be poor, or bankrupt, or hungry. If a sufficient safety net exists that inhibits bad consequences to “bad market” conditions and bad decisions, incentive to make good decisions vanishes and we can all start buying swamp land and selling Herb-a-whatever Vitamins without discernment because we all cross the finish line at the same time no matter what.

Let’s visit “basic needs.” I set the bar quite low. Food, shelter, companionship, and a good dog. (Sorry, I’ve been listening to Country&Western music lately). On the other end of the spectrum as I see it are those who think basic needs are having wealthy people not out pace you by more than an arms length. Silly, yes, unmeasurable to be sure, but extant none-the-less. This undefinable “basic needs” as a goal for the “failure” of the “market” is a nice excuse for jacking with the system through the implementation of governmental controls and intervention.

Government’s track record on correcting “market failures” is atrocious at best. It hyperinflates money to destroy the foundations of our currency, which is our medium for exchange. It’s changing of tax policy has created near catastrophic consequences in real estate, oil & gas, partnerships, rental properties, etc. We used to plan 20 years out. With changing tax and non-tax laws, you’re unrealistic to plan more than 5 years into the future. The playing field changes, the information is distorted, and the government and media give bad analysis to current conditions. Remember the Carter $50 tax rebate around th spring of 1978? Fortunately Congress couldn’t agree on what to do and piddled long enough to see that we weren’t in a recession any longer and didn’t need the rebate. They were trying to stimulate the economy while it was taking off like a rocket. Why was it taking off? The printing press was running wide open. The government was making stupid “market decisions” based upon perceived market failures. Most of the failures in the “Market” were governmental intervention distorting the market. That was the case in the 1920's.

Unlike Common Good’s model of how the world works, where each person is an island - a social island, an economic island, and a geographic island - when a person (not the market) fails to meet his own basic needs, people from everywhere step in to help. That is less noticeable today because of what? Because of recent governmental intervention in taking care of us. We now see government as the one who should wake us up and tuck us in and everything in between. C.G. often says “what about the person who does not have a church, etc.” Well, they have a social community too. And if not, if they are an isolationist, or a child molester that everyone hates, well how about that? There are consequences for those actions too.

I do not wish anyone to be poor. But I certainly do not wish for a world where I can gamble away all my money, my house, my pickup, and yes, my dog, and in the end government rights it all, enabling me to continue my destructive behavior.

Prof. Ricardo

7:38 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Market failure occur when there are too many people around to take a free ride on someone else or natural monopolies occur.

That's why the government just needs to build the roads (federal highways), invest in medicine and research, military, and things of this nature. If one guy invested in any one of these things, he wouldn't get his return as and everyone else would be benefitting from it.

8:57 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

So. Now that we've decided that local, state and federal government, individuals, and perhaps aliens are to blame for the disaster in New Orleans, who is going to rebuild the place? I've read various statistics that place homeownership at a very low level, and some that claim only 25% of residents had flood insurance. FEMA's $2,000 household giveaway isn't going to go very far setting up new digs. I suppose this will tip a lot of people from working poor to welfare recipient.

Of course Bush doesn't hate black or the poor---look how many hundreds of thousands are being welcomed in his home state. Or is that just a preemptive vote getting strategy? Maybe he should have moved them to Florida, instead.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Nobody is saying it yet, but in a lot of cases no one is going to build back in New Orleans. Insurers were already jittery about hurricanes. This will even will not only make building in New Orleans difficult, it will have ramifications for the entire Gulf Coast. Now the stuff that survived with minimal damage, that will be restored to operation because the capital investments are already made. The mortgages have already left the building. But new capital outside of government money-forget about it. The exception will be things like tourist operations and gambling operations. The return on those is so high that actuarially speaking they will find the risk reasonable. Anything that doesn’t pay out in a few years isn’t happening.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

While I agree that government intervention often does unreasonably distort the market, that does not mean that absent government intervention, the market would work wonderfully. See the examples I gave. Do you think the conditions the pre-teens worked under at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory were a good thing? Of course you don’t…I know you are a decent guy. The point is the zero regulation thing never worked even back during America’s most regulation free era.

I have been and will continue to be an animated critic of government regulation and the creeping fascism which is our government and big business are drifting further into every day. That doesn’t mean I want the opposite extreme either.

10:55 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:51 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I want to challenge this assertion I've seen here a few times, in the interest of us all learning more about macroeconomics and dropping the common fallacies and misconceptions we have.

Someone who does homeschooling economics courses wrote:

"Go back to a gold standard, meaning no more inflation. Prices become stable. In this country the relative wage of the worker went up every year until 1973 when we went off the gold standard. Nixon was free to inflate. Since then with a few minor exceptions (inflation adjusted) real wages have gone down. It now takes two incomes to buy a nice house."
______________________________


My correction of this common laymen's fallacy for all future reference:

The "real wage," (also known as the purchasing power of labor), depends the marginal product of labor, NOT ON HOW MUCH MONEY THE GOVERNMENT PRINTS!

True, prices go up with inflation, but wages go up with it (since "wage" is merely a "price" of labor).

If real wages have gone down, it's because capital and technology or competion from abroad have pushed them down.

Inflation isn't bad, per se. Sure, hyperinflation is a pain in the arse because you have to carry a wheelbarrow around full of money, but you'd be getting paid in wheelbarrows as well. Plus you have to print new menus every week...

Feel free to help me flesh this out... but it's important to clear these things up....

Sorry to change the subject, but this just kept popping into my mind...

12:56 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

I’ve been pouring over the electronic sales circulars trying to figure out what to buy with my FEMA debit card. Any ideas? Have y’all got yours yet?

Prof. Ricardo

PS Yoshi, I’ve got lots of work today. I’m glad your thinking. You’re on the Professor’s Honor Roll for this one. I’ll give you a response later on the real wages hurt by inflation scenario later when I get home.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Let’s visit “basic needs.” I set the bar quite low. Food, shelter, companionship, and a good dog.

I guess that would be your list of common good. Of course, even with your minimalist, originalist perspective... your list is incomplete. You certainly have to add your nation's military as a basic need. Without it, your other basic needs won't be a problem for very long. What about roads and infrastructure? There's too many of us now to survive without complex transportation systems. So let's just say we got your list expanded to a reasonable list for a minimalist like yourself. That's just one man's opinion. Incorporated in that opinion is that we stick to that list, regardless of the economic prosperity of a nation. That makes no sense, because any agreed to list in a society is made by balancing common good needs against individual autonomy. In 1787, almost any attempt at satefy-nets would have been immoral because you literally would be taking "basic needs" from another, for another. That's not the same moral equation of progressive taxes of the wealthy in our current economic circumstances. We aren't even limiting the number of lake homes with progressive taxes. Hard to see how you make a moral argument otherwise.

btw... it troubles me that you list dogs and companionship as seperate. I'm not going there. Country Western? No wonder you are so messed up.

On the other end of the spectrum as I see it are those who think basic needs are having wealthy people not out pace you by more than an arms length.

Sorry... no spin allowed here. The basic needs, as I explained above, is the common good our society agrees to via democracy. It's totally logical that this common good list is not static... i.e. it's definition is a sliding scale with the increased wealth of a nation. Once we became wealthy enough, universal healthcare became a moral and logical choice for society. The resulting taxes (progressive) to fund that moral choice would logically come mainly from the other side of the wealth divide. Many keep a watchful eye on the wealth gap, believing there is a point where it can cause civil unrest... but that's not near the same thing as your point: which was people define part of common good as keeping the winner down. That's nonsense.

Unlike Common Good’s model of how the world works, where each person is an island - a social island, an economic island, and a geographic island

It should be clear to anyone that reads this blogsite that Prof promotes the Island citizen (Libertarian) and support a thriving we are all in this together mainland.

We now see government as the one who should wake us up and tuck us in and everything in between.

When my kind :) wins the argument over common sense common good and safety-nets.... we will have tucked OUR OWNSELVES in. Allowing your Libertarian ideas ( and therefore the ownership of this society by corporations) is allowing someone else to do something to us that rhymes with tuck.

C.G. often says “what about the person who does not have a church, etc.”

Not exactly. I say I don't share your definition of charity. Any common good I promote (i.e. universal healthcare) is not charity to me. I would never accept having to ask for something that IS NOT CHARITY. Sitting very near your ideology is that Saudi Royal sitting at the end of the tent. You know... the one where all of those needing assistance of some kind line up to kiss his hand and make their best case of why they need help. Maybe for a sick child, for example. Then the Royal gives the thumbs up or thumbs down. Saudi is the ultimate example of Libertarian ideas. btw... very strange bringing in the child molester. :)

I do not wish anyone to be poor.

This one is for Stilldreamin also. Anyone for the conservative ideology is promoting an ideology that is destructive for our poor in our country. I will let you guys decide if you do that knowingly, or are simply misguided. I could care less what's in Bush's heart if his ideology and policies continue our nation's blindspot to the poor. Some of us will now turn borderline violent when we hear our poor are better off than anyone's else's... OR ... trickle down is working for our poor. Go sell it somewhere else. That BS isn't working anymore.

But I certainly do not wish for a world where I can gamble away all my money, my house, my pickup, and yes, my dog, and in the end government rights it all, enabling me to continue my destructive behavior.

Quit lumping all poor in the same pot. It's very unattractive.

If anyone gets a chance to watch this weeks Real Time with Bill Maher... watch it. George Carlin makes some very harsh charges. He basically made the point that our elections and belief we really have a democracy is a farse... an illusion. You don't have any control as a voting citizen. This is all a sham... always has been... to protect the property owners. We have an entire culture/society that puts property and property rights ahead of people. We live in a society where it's more important to get rid of estate taxes for the incredibly rich than deal with extreme poverty in many of our cities. Any principle that protects an individual's property (an individual who HAS ENOUGH FOR A LIFETIME) over hungry kids... even if those parents don't pass Prof's responsibility test... is not a principle at all.

It's time to delve a little deeper than the simplistic personal responsibility mantra. That is surely looking at the world and reality through a straw.

So I agree with George Carlin. I'm going on record. I think the aggregate decisions of our nation document a history of failing the poor. I think our government works for the top 20%. I also think our government is really those corporations and not anyone here wasting time on this message board.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

This one if for you. It sounds like you occasionally catch some FoxNews. Some NYTimes writer accused Geraldo Rivera of pushing a soldier out of the way to get some camera footage of him and someone else (producer or someone) hauling an old lady in her wheelchair down some stairs. O'Reilly has Geraldo on his show two nights in a row claiming the NYTimes reporter should be held liable. The first night O'Reilly showed the tape of Geraldo, where Geraldo clearly DID NOT push the soldier out of the way. Then O'Reilly and Geraldo got all puffed up, and demanded a retraction from the NYTimes reporter, or Geraldo might sue. Well... second O'Reilly night: Geraldo says the lady refuese to retract, so he has started legal actions. O'Reilly plays the Geraldo tape again... looking exra smug... if that's possible. Well, this time the guy in charge of editing the audio must have messed up... because this time when they run the tape you hear the cameraman or producer behind the scenes tell the soldier who just stepped in to help the old lady: "Get out of the shot". Priceless.

10:05 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

That would be funny. I hope they at least come clean now.... which I'm sure they didn't...

Actually, I never watch Fox news. And my antanae broke on my car (in the car wash), so I don't have a.m. radio. But when I'm in someone else's car(which is rare), I try and catch the M. Savage's and the Hannitty's and such. And they are always distorted verstions of true events, that only someone too lazy to be paying attention for themselves would fall for (ie. about 90% of Christian housewife types, and racist blue-collar guys from the South).

If I like Bill O'Reilly it's only relative to Sean Hannitty and Rush. I think it's sub-consciously because he has an East Coast look, not a Southern football-loving, country boy like Hannity.

However, watching that stuff is like watching "professional" wrestling, TV gospel preaching, J. Springer, or pornography. By watching it you just become part of the madness and you perpetuate it.

Fox isn't serious discussion of anything, it's merely "news-entertainment" as wrestling is "sports-entertainment."

I think I'll stick to listening to NPR's BBC news and reading the Economist. Those NYTIMES posts you have are good too.

As to my "inflation" comments earlier.... granted, HIGH inflation is bad because it wipes out your savings and it makes it hard to financially plan for the future.

11:02 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good: "We live in a society where it's more important to get rid of estate taxes for the incredibly rich than deal with extreme poverty in many of our cities."

"Extreme Poverty"????

I'm going to define poverty real quick by World Bank definitions. "Extreme Poverty" means you live on one dollar of purchasing power a day. "Moderate Poverty" means you have less than 2 dollars a day.

"Relative" poverty, which is what we have here, means you have the basics, but lack recreation/entertainment, cultural goods, QUALITY healthcare/education (perequisites for upward social mobility.)That's what we have here in the USA.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

The second term just became the ultimate nightmare for the Bush's. The entire term will be filled with helping poor people.

Bill Mahre

The earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us

Kurt Vonnegut

11:27 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Yes... I agree with your distinction on poverty. I have always agreed that the battle you are fighting on this message board makes my battle pale in comparison. Ironically, however... I'm convinced you will make no progress without the progress I lobby for. How in the world would you expect our culture's poverty blinders to come off for foreign aid if it doesn't see it domestically? The day the nation refuses to accept 30% poverty in New Orleans is probably the day you will make significant progress on global extreme poverty.

You are fighting for the lowest rungs to be supported with enough infrastructure so they can give it a go... try and make it on their own. With any luck, they to can grow up into a prosperous existence of lake homes living side by side with public housing. Oh yeah... those are never near each other.

Cheers... I think it's a weekend.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Well then lets start with the system that creates poverty and work outward from there. 34% of all children born in this country are born out of wedlock, 70% of African Americans are in the same situation. Young adults that do not have children until they are married and 20 years or older do not have significant poverty levels. We need to get back to some basics, and it starts with marraige and telling kids that sex, although it feels good, is stupid unless exercised under the right circumstances. Teenage abstinance is the best policy.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

And a little food for thought in line with the blog title


In case you aren’t familiar with how our government is SUPPOSED to work:
The chain of responsibility for the protection of the citizens in New Orleans is:

1. The Mayor
2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security (a political appointee of the Governor who reports to the Governor)
3. The Governor
4. The Head of Homeland Security
5. The President

What did each do?

1. The mayor, with 5 days advance notice, waited until 2 days before he announced a mandatory evacuation (at the behest of the President). The he failed to provide transportation for those without transport even though he had hundreds of buses at his disposal.

2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security failed to have any plan for a contingency that has been talked about for 50 years. Then he blames the Feds for not doing what he should have done. (So much for political appointees)

3. The Gove! rnor, despite a declaration of disaster by the President 2 DAYS BEFORE the storm hit, failed to take advantage of the offer of Federal troops and aid until two DAYS AFTER the storm hit.

4. The Director of Homeland Security placed assets in the area to be ready when the Governor called for them

5. The President urged a mandatory evacuation, and even declared a disaster State of Emergency, freeing up millions of dollars of federal assistance, should the Governor decide to use it.

Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

The disaster in New Orleans is what you get after decades of corrupt (democrat) government going all the way back to Huey Long.

Funds for disaster protection and relief have been flowing into this city for decades, and where has it gone? Into the pockets of politicos and their friends.

Decades of socialist government in New Orleans have sapped all self reliance from the community and made them dependent upon government for every little thing.

Political correctness and a lack of will to fight crime have created the single most corrupt police force in the country and has permitted gang violence to flourish.

The sad thing is that there are many poor folks who have suffered and died needlessly because those whom they voted into office failed them.

For those who missed item 5 (the President’s level of accountability), it is made more clear in a New Orleans Times-Picayune article dated August 28:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin.
Acknowledging that large numbers of people, many of them stranded tourists, would be unable to leave, the city set up 10 places of last resort for people to go, including the Superdome. The mayo! r called the order unprecedented and said anyone who could leave the city should.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. The ball was placed in Mayor Nagin’s court to carry out the evacuation order. With a 5-day heads-up, he had the authority to use any and all services to evacuate all residents from the city, as documented in a city emergency preparedness plan. By waiting until the last minute, and failing to make full use of resources available within city limits, Nagin and his administration screwed up. Bigtime.

Mayor Nagin and his emergency sidekick Terry Ebbert have displayed lethal, mind boggling incompetence before, during and after Katrina.


Mayor Nagin and his profile in pathetic leadership police chief should resign. That city’s government is thoroughly incompetent. The people of New Orleans deserve better than that crowd of clowns is capable of giving them.

These boobs let 569 buses, which could have carried 33,350 people out of New Orleans in one trip, get ruined in the floods. Whatever plan these guys had, it was a dud. Or it probably would have been if they’d bothered to follow it.

As for all the race-baiting rhetoric and Bush-bashing coming from prominent blacks on the left, don’t expect Ray Nagin to be called out on the carpet for falling short.
It’s more convenient to blame a white president for what went wrong than to hold a black mayor and his administration accountable for gross negligence and failing to fully carry out an established emergency preparedness plan.

To hold Nagin and his administration accountable for dropping the ball amounts to letting loose the shouts and cries of “Racism!”. It’s sad, it’s wrong, but it’s standard operating procedure for the media and left-wing black leadership.

Mark my words: you will not hear a word of criticism from Jesse Jackson Sr., Randall Robinson, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, the Rev. Al Sharpton, or Kanye West being directed toward Clarence Ray Nagin Jr.

10:28 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Randy, in theory, great idea about stopping poverty before it starts. Yea, a good idea is getting people to have children later....... don't say that around "fanatic" Pro-lifers though, they'll ostracize you for statements like that. I've personally experienced it more than a few times.

The big problem with abstinance though:

We're going to have to regulate the hell out of the big coorporations (all of them) that sell sex to our children though through marketing and advertising.

Because let's just say that the abstinance budget at school, even if we spent the whole federal budget on it, won't be enough to balance out what they are being socialized with from FOX TV teen-dramas. (Isn't ironic the so-called "Conservative" station is the worst one? Foxnews Viewers should boycott the Network over it if they really meant what they proclaim to.)

I know a 15 year old that are now "sexually mature". Her dad is the MOST CONSERVATIVE psycho that I know. But what match is he against an entire society? None.
(He's divorced and can't control his ex-wife who let's his daughter's boyfriend stay over unattended. All he can do is be vainly furious.)

12:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Does anyone really want their mayor in charge of anything... much less a mayor being in charge of Lake New Orleans? Seriously, do you know who your mayor's are. You want those guys designing your city disaster planning? You have got to be kidding me. In the age of terrorism, I expect the Federal government to have an umbrella Federal plan, with variations of different state needs introduced per state. I don't want 50 different states operating like independent chickens... and then require the federal government to have to fit themselves around those 50 varieties. If that's our choice, we WILL PERISH. At the end of the day, in the age of terrorism, states should only be involved in minimum immediate first responder needs (funded by the FEDERAL government with standards... not STATE choice on how they spend the funds) with declared national disasters. As soon as the national disaster is declared, the Federal government should be IN CHARGE. Anyone still think waiting 48-72 hours for the federal government to show up is going to work... i.e. anyone think that should remain the standard? Those days are over. We can get blackhawk helicopters across the globe in a couple of days, but can't get a few on the scene in maybe 1 hour? I have played tennis next to the Bossier Airforce base before. Trust me... they have some very nice federally funded flying inventions there that could actually make it to New Orleans in less than 5 days. Unless of course, the "daddy party" is teaching that city a lesson in personal responsibility. My guess is the personal responsiblity daddy party speeches directed at the states are about to go on the shelf. There's just too much obvious flaw with that sermon on display in New Orleans. Funny thing about flood victims. When you show up with personal responsibility speeches for being poor and getting hit by a Huricane, they aren't really interested in drilling down to figure out how much their mayor failed them. Even the poor know the mayor doesn't fly Blackhawks. Natural disasters and terrorist attacks (of certain magnitudes) are a federal issue. It's silly even to debate it.

I think it's very likely that Katrina will have a very significant effect on the conservative party, and therefore a positive effect on our future. I think the 30 year conservative attack on government will have to be moderated to an attack on incompetent and inefficient government. I think that could be incredibly positive and significant, because the argument changes from putting the government in the bathtub and drowing it (Grover Norquist) to providing obviously needed federal goverment services in a more efficient and competent fashion. That's huge. Once government quits being the enemy... we can FINALLY get on with building a better government. If the public could just catch on, then Tony's two party incompetence just may be beat down.

Randy,

Is it possible we could reach a threshold where too many of us are acting poorly enough (irresponsible enough) to take us all down? Of course. It's a complicated battle that we have to continue to fight. I think that battle can be fought on multiple fronts, but removing the government as a defense mechanism for the poor is certain disaster.

I was waiting for them to put this weeks Real Time (Bill Maher) transcript up to put up a George Carlin quote. I will look it up when they put it out, but until then let me paraphrase:

A liberal democracy government has two main jobs. The first is to protect it's citizens. The second is to address the grievances of those that are not served by the economic system.

That second sentence is from memory... but that's close. Conservatives hate that second function of government. They call it everything from social engineering to wealth transfer. We will not be able to address that second America on display in New Orleans until the majority of us finally agree on that second function of government. Maybe Katrina will push this 50-50% nation back in the left direction. I hope so. I'm willing to bet people are more likely to hear the personal responsibility wisdom as a "have" rather than a "have not".

1:06 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Is it possible for a society that hates the idea of government to build a government that can protect itself from terrorism? It occurs to me inventing WMDs was a bad move if the goal was to avoid all things collective. A big fat bank account does have limits.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

I have a hard time drawing the local vs federal vs private line. Maybe you can help me. For example, it's well known that we are losing miles of Lousiana wetlands every single year... I think it's 25 miles a year or something. It has started to put much of the oil and gas gathering systems of the coast at risk... i.e. it was built to be underground, but has started to be exposed. Who is responsible for that? The private enterprises that own the gathering system? What if the bill to restore those wetlands is too large for the private companies... i.e. left to them, they would just quit producing off of Lousiana. Does it then revert to a city or state or federal issue, or do we accept the closing of the Lousiana refineries and gathering systems? And finally... is there a distinction between a levee that keeps oil production feasible and a gathering system that keeps it feasible?

I bet that one will bring Prof out.

1:27 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"In the age of terrorism, I expect the Federal government to have an umbrella Federal plan, with variations of different state needs introduced per state. I don't want 50 different states operating like independent chickens... and then require the federal government to have to fit themselves around those 50 varieties."

I agree with this statement...

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been "reading" and "lurking (what ever that means) since last spring. Much of the time the commentary has been interesting, enlightening and only occasionally over my head. A few postings sounded like Junior High boys locker room talk. But I suppose you're entitled.

Thinking about the disaster in the gulf, I have been worrying more and more about what is going to happen over time to the displaced folks and the communities that have taken them in. I wish it weren't so but my gut and life experiences tell me things are not going to go well. Eileen McNamara's column in todays Boston Globe is right on point.

G-Ma

3:53 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Welcome G-Ma,

Lurker just means someone who reads on a message board... i.e. doesn't post. It's not like a peeping tom. :)

I don't read the Boston Globe, but I think the observation that things could go badly in the adopting communities sounds likely. Just consider the news already coming out of Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge residents lined up to buy guns. I think everyone in today's world should have a gun at home for protection, but the fact that this event caused that action doesn't speak well for the future. Baton Rouge streets are now packed... work commutes get longer. It may not be PC, but I think racism is worse in the south. It's going to be very challenging times ahead.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

G-Ma,

Welcome. I’m glad you posted. Sorry about the locker room talk. Sometimes you have to be patient with us boys…I am told that we will grow up eventually.

I think the story of the displaced folks is going to unfold fairly quickly. A good friend of mine whom I got to talk with for a few minutes on Saturday is down in Houston doing volunteer work. The stories are absolutely horrible, but he feels progress is rapidly being made. They have already closed one of the facilities in Houston as they find better housing for them. A large number of them are looking to settle in Texas as they have no home or job to go back to.

I find it a bit sad when I hear some people talking about going back and rebuilding. While I’m sure that is appropriate in most cases, clearly there is a lot that will not be rebuilt. I have never been a Saints fan, but I was happy with their win yesterday. Pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes just a little shred of hope is a good thing.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Curious to know if either CG or Curmie still share the same level of criticism against this administration for Katrina (and the fastest national guard response even during hurricanes under Clinton) as they did the first day they crucified it (short of all the facts we know today).

Same?

More?

Less?

I feel like the two of you, and many others, really jumped on the demagogic bandwagon that even Sean Penn didn't seem to ride (at least for now).

In light of the tragedy and the hundreds who lost their life, I hope that these families relocating to places like Texas and others will find a measure of happiness with cities happy to have them. I think rebuilding seems a little nonsensical as well.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

I can't even jump on you on this one.... you are living in such denial. I know how painful it is when the Bush illusion finally hits you. Remember I was a pretty strong Bush supporter through most of his first term. Michael Brown just resigned. This administration has never admitted to anything as far as I can tell... and their political hack that Shrub put over FEMA just resigned in utter disgrace. This administration and the ideology that supports them hates government. The entire goal is to shrink or do away with goverment. They don't think FEMA should exist... it represents a lack of state self responsibility. It was never high on Bush's agenda to care who was the head of FEMA... why care about something you don't believe should exist.

Seriously... why all the tap dancing around this simple fact: desperate people were left alone for 5+ days in the Superdome and the Convention Center. There's no way to make that dump not stink. Even if you are one of the one's selling the misguided idea that local authorities should have been able to manage Lake New Orleans for a couple of days... the federal government still comes up stinking to high heaven. My goodness... even the idiot Bill O'Reilly had to squeeze out a 24 hour federal government late disclaimer.

TC... I will keep it simple for you. Answer this one question to any reasonable level of common sense, and you will convince me I'm wrong. Give me one good (heck, doesn't even have to be good) reason why federal helicopters NEVER dropped water near the Superdome or the Convention Center. Just one. I can't wait.

Take it even further. Assume some Federal entity did drop water at the Superdome and Convention Center. You would still have to explain Brown and Chertoff saying on TV they didn't even know about the Convention Center until late Thursday. Every media outlet on TV was talking about the Convention Center since Tuesday. Jeeze... buy a TV and put an intern on it watching 24 x 7 if that's the best you can do.

Think efficient energetic government rather than NO government. One side is going to have to swallow a painful dose of anti-collective government pride, or the New Orleans circus is just a prelude. Of course, pulling together for survival doesn't mean we will pull together to make a real dent in inequality... but I can hope. We may have to kick out that anti-government foundation one brick at a time.

You know you and I will never convince each other of much regarding ideology. But you have to ask yourself... why so much outrage over New Orleans. This didn't all come from Democrats. You can only come to a couple of conclusions. 1) Either everyone (of both parties) that felt outrage over the lack of Federal response in New Orleans were redneck wrong... as Prof put it, whatever that means. I thought Rednecks batted for the other side (Rep). OR 2) The federal government really did fail in an unacceptable fashion.

btw... do you think presidents... of either party, should appoint political friends to operations like FEMA? What about the EPA... ok to appoint political friends there.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TC,

Well you know, I was making a much broader criticism of the administration than simply the Katrina criticism. I still feel completely comfortable pointing out what an abysmal failure this administration is that after four years of supposedly preparing us for terrorist activity that we are undeniably as ill prepared today as we were on September 10, 2001.

And note that I have been extremely critical of this administration on the point of inadequate preparation for inevitable terrorist activity since the day Shrub hired that idiot Ridge for the job and telegraphed his intention to do nothing but create a political masquerade. But hey, Ready.gov sure looks pretty.

I am equally amused at the Democratic outrage. Like they ever did a thing to help in preparedness. Makes me want to puke. I could care less about who gets credit or blame. What I care about is actual preparedness for the inevitable disasters of our future. We clearly aren’t ready and I just can’t take the end of civilization so lightly. I mean, that could mean the cancellation of the entire football season.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

First, let's start with the premise of your question. I think it's false. WHAT where they doing THERE? WHY were they there? If we're going to ask questions, let's not ask why someone has not put Clearasil on the pimple. Let's ask how the pimple got there. This will solve greater problems. Before that - Why was Amtrak not taken up on its offer to haul 900 evacuees? The mayor refused - that's why. Why were the buses stranded? Because the mayor wanted greyhounds? Why not use the buses they have and use the greyhounds when they arrived for the next batch? Why not the buses called for in their OWN plan?


Section III-B-V lists the tasks assigned to the various city government offices in the event of a hurricane catastrophe. The Mayor has three tasks: to initiate the evacuation, to retain overall control of the emergency operation, and then to authorize a return to the evacuated areas. The city's Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) reports to the mayor and must coordinate with the NOPD, the state OEP, and the regional transit authorities to:

* Supply transportation as needed in accordance with the current Standard Operating Procedures.

* Place special vehicles on alert to be utilized if needed.

* Position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses.

* If warranted by scope of evacuation, implement additional service.

Instead, three days after landfall and a full day after the massive flooding, Blanco suddenly came to the conclusion that the buses might be useful. Unfortunately, now they sat under water, along with most of New Orleans and a few thousand of its residents.


(above courtesy of www.captainsquartersblog.com)

The fact is, the MAYOR had the right to confiscate materials from the local Wal-Mart to care for the people in the Superdome. WHY ARE YOU WAITING ON THE HELICOPTER WHEN THE WALMART IS DOWN THE STREET? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

But of course, CommieG, you'd prefer to blame it on the administration because that is more convenient. Hold the federal government's feet to the fire on a situation known far better by local authorities. Do you understand how states can engage federal assets? Someone has to be the point on this and you have COMPLETELY given a pass to the local people who know their town, their people and their facilities a HELL of a lot better than someone in Washington. You know, you could muddy up the water with "they don't like big govt." and "they want to get rid of FEMA" and "they don't care about the poor people", but if you're going to find real answers, the real reasons why stuff like this happens, ask the right questions and don't be afraid to admit that you are wrong. The LOCAL authorities were the point on this. FEMA WAS NEVER DESIGNED TO BE A FIRST-RESPONDER. Where do you get this authority, this pseudo knowledge to think that when something happens in Biloxi, things shouldn't get moving until someone takes a plane from DC to Mississippi? What if the "thing" has to do with preventing access to the city? What if all means in and out are blocked? Is it not the local authorities that have the best information about where their people are and in fact, HOW TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN PLAN.

But, I know, I know, if it's not about blaming Bush, it's just not interesting. It's like a tired old woobie that needs to be retired.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Curmster, what about ALL the training performed in cities like ours? What about all the coordinated exercises that have taken place amongst civil authorities in major cities. I'm not the only one who has relatives in law enforcement am I? Are you waiting for the hide-under-your-desk exercises of the 60's? Is that what you mean? Should our kids be educated in their schools that in the event of a dirty bomb, they need to run to the cafeteria because it's safer there? Not sure what you mean, then, by being prepared. How can we ever be prepared for riding on a bus and suddenly having some crazy Jordanian yield a tummy full of c4? How do you prepare for that Curmie? How do you prepare for coordinated efforts to dismantle your public commuter trains by blowing them up? Tell everyone to run to the closest civic center? Hmmm, that might backfire if one of the bad guys knows where everyone will be running.

The problem I have with your entire premise is that you can organize your law enforcement, your civil authorities, your firemen, your first-responders (nurses, Ambulatory, police, etc.) but "preparing" your citizens? How did Kennedy prepare our parents in '62? Did that really prepare the public? Should the DHS just scare everyone on a daily basis? You see how desensitized people get when the threat level is moved up and down - forget about how trigger happy leftists get on the hyperbolic politico reasoning behind doing that.

What is your point then? That my government has not prepared me for what to do in case my place of employment is bombed? What would they tell me? Stay home? They already say that. Go congregate to place X? Well, we don't want to let that out of the bag.

The problem is, Curmie, the enemy is among us. You prepare us and all you do is develop their contingency plan.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Texas Conservative,

Once again, you are on top of it. Bravo.

Major objective in Homeland Security that MUST be accomplished to achieve preparedness: Eliminate mass stupidity. How do we do that? Eradicate political correctness. And how do we do that? Regain control of our children’s minds. Gov.skool is teaching our kids crap intense, values neutral, substandard, geared-to-the-test, simulated information, not to be confused with knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. This extends into college where the most vile, despicable, and loathsome creature to walk the planet (a professor) indoctrinates every last iota of common sense and virtue from your child and replaces it with “political correctness.”

The not-so-funny thing about it is, the parents willingly sacrifice their children on the alter of the traditions of man: delegating to someone else their primary responsibility.

Prof. Ricardo

7:49 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I guess TC has a better Mayor. I don't want mine in charge of traffic lights, much less disaster planning. If they are my first line of defense... I hope it's for minutes rather than hours or I'm am frickin toast. :)

Here's the thing I don't get. Where was Rove? It's been pretty obovious for a long time Bush isn't up to all of this... but he has always had people that are very PR-capable around him. Bill Maher calls his support group "The Cleaners" in honor of Harvey Keitel's role in Pulp Fiction. Yeah... this administration just basically accidentally killed the black guy, but the Cleaner shows up and makes it look ok for the mass stupids. Rove must be kicking himeself. He could have pulled out the Mission Accomplished flight suit, and had Bush throw out some Avian from a Black Hawk. That's all it would have taken for the stupids... even those stupids who think it's your city's personal responsibility to fend for yourself when your city turns into a lake. Funny out red-state america feels so patriotic when we take our commie collective funded military overseas to bomb the shit out of folks, but cries communism if we use one ounce of collective government help regarding disasters that occur on our own soil. You really are going to have to decide if you are going to stick to your principles going forward, and opt instead to save the most people. Here's a newsflash. Much of the potential terrorism attacks going forward are likely to take out many or most of the first responders along with the rest of the population. Is it your plan to fly over and drop personal responsibility pamplets on top of those dead first responders. Oh yeah... not for 72 hours.

Look... I would rather not fight with anyone on this issue. I'm with Tony... it should be obvious to anyone other than the truly naive that our government (both parties) are nothing more than window dressing and camera whores on the issue of terrorism. I totally reject your notion that the best we can do is rely on local authorities for our needs going forward. There role has to be designed as immdetiate (if available), but minimum until a quick responding federal disaster team arrives... arrives in the first hours. I'm not saying Federal resources... i.e. military, should be deployed without serious consideration. I am saying we need quick responding federal resources positioned around the US AT ALL TIMES, and as soon as a National/Federal disaster is declared, these quick responding forces should take over. A turf dispute between the president and a governor should be removed from the equation. TC... you may actually have a point about the futility of trying to educate a local community about planned actions. I do not, however, think the idea that local authorities should be in charge for days will survive going forward. We will see... there will certainly be a friction between the idea of limited federal government and our new federal emergency needs in the age of terrorism. It may take another 911 or two... but I'm convinced reality will set in.

Here is my question. If conservatives decide they will accept more collective federal protection for terrorism in the future to protect their a$$e$$... do I get to call them Commies? I finally got a grip on what Commmie really means to many. Anyone fighting the Christian theocracy is a Commie. The rest of the argument is just details. You can see it clear as day in the Supreme Court judge nominations. One side of the Senate asking the questions as a great big sign behind them... "Christians and the wealthy own this country". The other side has a sign saying "Nope... we are all in this together". Of course "being in anything together" is Commie.

btw... on the Roberts nomination. Is it normal for a senator to coach a nominated judge on how to answer questions in the Senator's opening remarks? I think it's perfect acceptable for the Senators to explain what they feel are appropriate questions. No other senator can be restricted to those opinions, but still... expressing one's opinion on the subject make sense to me. However, I sat there and listened to Senator Kyle tell Roberts ... in front of the cameras... how to answer the questions. Then Kyle said he would be their to defend Roberts refusal to ask questions. Can their be anything more sickening than any Senator just acknowledging up front this Judge is part of their team. That's the same for both sides.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

So our best defense against terrorism is a better educated public. Interesting. I bet a lot of smart Israeli's would have something to say about that idea.

Here is my prediction. Terrorism attacks will finally prove to our society we are all truly in this together... also globally. Ironically, the lesson will probably come to late. Just to be clear... I think our strong individualism strain is admirable... right up to the point where it becomes disgusting. We have much debate here about the fault of our education system, and Prof particuraly takes on the college professors for ... well, whatever. Why don't we look ourselves in our face and quit passing on the idea to our kids that government is evil. Individualism has taken on a perverted form when anything collective in society becomes satan. What a strange bunch we are. We teach our kids to "get theirs"... that's the one consistent lesson. Well... we have it... everyone is "getting theirs".

10:54 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

Well, I think there are a few obvious things you do for preparedness. I have posted here on many of those and discussed them with a bunch of people including a few who post here.

But first, let me just say that I find those people who for political purposes attack the President and the administration as the sole culprits as disgusting as the next guy. We have too much politics in this country and I hope if I have set forth anything effectively, it would be that point.

Nothing can illustrate better than events like 9-11 and Katrina why the need for a Federally directed first response. Look back at the major disasters that I enumerated: each one completely overwhelmed the local responders ability to deal with the situation.

And know this: would be terrorists were watching and learning.

The funny thing about it is that it has generally been the Shrub apologist chiding those of us opposed to his anti-American agenda for not “getting that this is a war”. Or often accusing us of worse. But now a real disaster occurs of the magnitude of 9-11 and the GOP sheep rush to defend our lack of preparedness.

You know, I do realize how much effort has gone into local disaster planning. I’m sure the planning quality varies, but I do think we are much better prepared for events that are contained to a somewhat local scale. My friend who is working as a police Chaplain with the Katrina survivors is very impressed with the Houston PDs response. And he has been around some of these disasters.

But again I refer you back to the national nature of the terrorism threat. There is nothing substantively different about what happened in New Orleans had the event been a dirty bomb instead of a Hurricane. Except of course every person in every corner of America would be in a near state of panic fearing additional attacks. And it is that inevitable panic that is poised to end our society forever.

Contrast our current situation with where we would be with an effective emergency response. If the Department of Homeland Security did their job. What should have happened was an effective communication response should have begun immediately. Federal officials should have been detailing the response plan to keep people calm. And the response plan should’ve included some form of Federal presence on the ground within hours. How much more convincing would our national preparedness seem if they had been fully communicating in the early hours of the unfolding disaster with information about the local response failures and the measures being taken to plug the gap.

You see, I’m not criticizing the lack of water drops per se. In a disaster, there will be twist and turns that are unforeseeable. I get that. What I am criticizing is the lack of any planning whatsoever to deal with that which is unforeseeable only in that its details are presently unknown.

Count me with those Americans who are praying fervently that nothing happens which would need an organized Federal response to prevent social chaos. It is abundantly clear that nothing of significance has been accomplished to address large scale attacks. A little hazmat training and taking your shoes off in the airport may make you feel better but not me.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

even those stupids who think it's your city's personal responsibility to fend for yourself when your city turns into a lake.

I don't get it. I don't get it. Dad-gummit, I don't get it. So are the feds stupid or are they the wise ones? Your argument boils down to this (I'm paraphrasing):

The locals are stupid, just like my mayor, so we need to have the federal government, who is incompetent and stupid, come in and take over.

Is that about right? You don't trust people on either side. Are you just complaining for the sake of complaining? Is this just a sport? Is there some logic to your vitriol against the administration or are you just spouting the Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz talking points?

I'm a little bemused by this so don't think of this as venomous. On one hand, the feds are idiots but they should be in charge. Are they less of idiots? Here is what I propose to you as the ideal situation. In disasters, the government should be a pool of assets. That pool of assets should include helicopters, troops, advisors, consolidation of aid efforts nationally, and yes, lots of money. Once a state of emergency has been declared locally, or at the federal level, that pool of assets should (and does, incidentally) become available to the local authorities. I don't think you should have a case where the locals just put their hands in parade-rest position and have the feds come in and take over. I can, however, see the need for that when the local authorities do not have the resources to handle the disaster - ie. some contaminant or chemical emergency. That's when the advisor asset becomes someone that takes over. I do not, however, in any way at all, believe that Katrina should provide for the local authorities to have a complete pass on what was their designated responsibility. No one, not a single (sane) person, in red state America believes that the pool of federal assets should not be made 100% available to local governments in need, requesting those assets. Let's not create false arguments to slam dunk the obvious position. I know we are now officially, going in circles so I will end with that.

Here is my question. If conservatives decide they will accept more collective federal protection for terrorism in the future to protect their a$$e$$...do I get to call them Commies?

No. This is a fundamental part of our constitution to provide for our safety. That is what government is for. It's not to give everyone a job and support everyone. The Prof can school you better on this. I'll leave him to his strengths.

The Roberts confirmation is a sham. It will be the worst display of partisanship we've seen yet so let's not kid ourselves. He seems to be a good man and the Dems can't seem to come up with a good rebuttal outside of forcing him to provide a ruling for some potential abortion case. He can take care of himself and I'm looking forward to the match up.

Why don't we look ourselves in our face and quit passing on the idea to our kids that government is evil.

You're joking right? When do we do this? Can we start by not comparing our Pres. to Hitler or saying he hates poor and/or black people? "No, no, that's different." I know, I know. I keep forgetting.

What we need to do is raise them with the mentality that the government is not a "backup plan." It's not a backup to not wanting to find a job because your unemployment/welfare is easier to "earn." We can also show them the example that some have shown, like providing more money for AIDS than any other administration. Providing unprecedented disaster relief around the world (not enough by some standards but percentage-wise, better than any other Pres.). Oh, I know, these are the GOP talking points. Share with me some of your original, completely unadulterated comments and perceptions fresh from the pluralistic fountain of knowledge between your ears. Do you see how condescension is not a valid rebuttal?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

Message boards are for bemusment... and that's how they should be taken. I wouldn/t talk to as directly in your living room unless you made it clear you were up to it. I don't view message boards as anyone's living room. I find the battle of ideas entertaining.

So far the Robert's nomination has NOT been a sham. Both sides are asking good questions... at least in my opinion. I'm having a little dialogue with Tony about it via email. I find the issues on Constitutional law fascinating... I would have enjoyed studying law. I don't think I would have enjoyed practicing law... however. So far, the most interesting questions have come from Biden. Judge Roberts was most elegant in is opening remarks. He is very impressive. The gist of his opening remarks is he viewed the role of judges as that of umpires in a baseball game. He is simply there to call balls and strikes, not to make the rules of baseball. Nobody comes to the baseball game to see the umpire. Sounds great... not too many would find fault in that broad brush statement. Well, Biden challenged that today. I didn't find his questioning partisan or rude... but I have no doubt some conserative talking heads will paint it that way. Besides, on some level... who cares... these are lifetime appointments, and this guy may be there for 30 years. Just try and imagine what may come before this guy in 30 years. Certainly some of those bio-ethic concerns Tony keeps raising here that bore us to tears. :) But back to Biden. He challenged the metaphor that judges simply call strikes and balls. He repeated some of Rehnquist's writings concerning the job of a Supreme Court Justice. Rehnquist made the claim that much of their job depended on tacit postulates. I think I have that term correct. Biden made the point that Rehnquist was making the point that much of their decisions are based on these postulates... which meant they relied on inferring. Inferring, by definition, means defining the strike zone when required. When a judge ends up with a case before him that is has not been fully covered by the legislature, then sometimes the judge has make a call. Roberts said this exactly... sometimes cases come up that they have to rule on was not covered/detailed by the legislators... even on purpose or otherwise. I'm not sure how they decide what cases they have to deciced vs not accept in the first place... and I would be interested in that explanation if Tony knows. Here was also a point Roberts made regarding labels like "strict contructionist". Roberts says he doesn't like labels and doesn't pick one to describe himself other than modest. He said... paraphrasing: Consider the term strict contructionist. Well, when you read the lines in the Constitution that say "two thirds of Congress...." then everyone is a strick contructionist. However, when you read the words "unreasonable search"... we could all stare at the words all day long and not all agree on the strick contructionist meaning of those words. I'm sure some would call that a sham... but not me. Tony for sure will call it politics. To me it got right to the core of the problem of seeing our Constititution without the real grey that exists. Some people are willing to discuss and debate how we act in the grey zone that exists in reality... and others will claim that reality doesn't exist. I just don't see how ignoring the reality of the grey is healthy, or constructive. A better use of time would be highlighting areas where grey is the worse, and defending the reasoning behind defining some areas as quite black and white. For example, even grey areas of the Constitution (and I'm convinced it started in 1789 a quite grey)... become blacker and whiter over time with statues and precedent. However, does anyone really want to make the case that many, many decisions represent brand new circumstances which amount to defining the strike zone.

TC... regarding the federal vs state control of disaster response... see Tony's response. There very little for us to discuss if you think state's should run this, and just have Federal assets lent to them. I'm convinced we will perish from the planet under that scheme... and as Tony says... there goes NFL football. You misunderstood my use of stupids this time... or at least made some point I was not. I am calling those who ignore the obvious need for federal control due to state rights conservative ideology stupids. Yeah, I know that rude. But this is just a message board, and if I happen to be right, your ideology will get a lot more innocent people killed. Seems like it reaches a threshold of risking a bit of rudeness is warranted. It appears to me that FEMA was well thought when Lee Witt was in charge, and it was a cabinet level position... although I have heard comments that even then, they were too slow to show up. So I think going back to the Witt-type FEMA with career operational expertise rather than horse lawyers, plus even beefing that up with quicker federal response and federal (not state) control of federal disasters will be the way going forward. I have to agree with Tony on this one... if your ideology regarding state rights override your judgement on this matter... not sure what could be said to change your mind at this point.

Glad I bemuse you.

Tony,

But first, let me just say that I find those people who for political purposes attack the President and the administration as the sole culprits as disgusting as the next guy.

Ah... but what if the degrading of FEMA (and other government agencies) is directly related to the successful 30 year conservative movement, and the current president leading that charge? What if it's true... that this president has systematically degraded FEMA, along with other federal agencies that the MOVEMENT believe should not exist. What if it's true that a government hating (or at least minimalizing) ideology has directly resulted in FEMA being worse now than it was 4 years ago? You propose the idea that we should condemn these guys if they haven't made progress post 911. Why is that not politics, but making the claim that not only have they not made progress, but they moved in the opposite direction politics? Why would be hammering Bush on this now be politics?

2:17 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

btw... You could be for State control over disasters for other than ideology reasons. You may believe the State's will be more proficient. If that your position?

2:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

Do you see how condescension is not a valid rebuttal?

Yeah... but it's fun. I can't remember if I started them before or after the CommieG comment. You know what else isn't a valid rebuttal in a complex economy/society? Answer: A simple sermon on personal responsibibility.

Does anyone know the stats on how many that fall into the poverty ranks are working poor vs welfare recipients? It occurs to me that if only 10% of that group is on welfare, one side would need to look past the personal responsibility mantra. On the other hand, if 90% of those in poverty are collecting welfare checks (I'm not considering EIC as welfare in this question), then my side certainly would have to measure that against available jobs in the ecnonomy. I have to admit I have always assumed 90% of the poor work just as hard (actually MUCH harder in many cases) as the rest of us... just with limited means {for whatever reason}. If someone could make the case that 90% of poverty is the fault of sloth... it could potentially have some impact on me.

4:16 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Good point Common Good. I'd like to know the percentage on the poor, how many are working, how many receive transfer payments.

I don't think it's easy to get a well-paying job. I ran into a fellow student who had graduated at the mall, shamlessly selling sunglasses. I wouldn't say shameless, except he was using his sales-man pitch on me. I lost a lot of respect for him. His degree was in Economics by the way.

My cousin also got his degree from St. Edwards in Austin. He's a painter now.

Another cousin-in-law now works for my uncle, who pays their income taxes, bought their huge house, furniture, and cars. Not to mention they have their gas card paid for. Gravy-train life, but no self-respect there.

And me, well, I'm piling up a massive amount of debt avoiding getting a job in a sandwich shop making 7.00 an hour with a bunch of high school drop-outs.

It is hard to make it out there.... even with an education. I can only imagine not having one.

By the way, for the Prof's sake, teachers and Professors, in my experience, are blatantly conservative. At least in the business and political science departments they are. That stereotype about liberal professors has to go.... I can think of 3 overtly liberal professors I've had in several years, all 3 women, one an anthropology teacher, the other two literature teachers. I can think of scores of conservatives, one's that have left me convinced that Professors in general are indeed full-of-shit people who live self-important lives based around a theoretical world (kind of like pastors and politicians). Ironically though, we're at the same conclusion about Professors.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

You make $7 hr more than I do. :) When I get through my mid-life crisis, I've promised my wife I will go back to work. Of course, I have no idea what work that will be. I always assumed I would start back up in IT. Back before I got old and all of a sudden didn't have the right 3+ years experience. It a very strange career when 20 years really don't buy you much. I should have thought that one through a little better. I've watched my friends, and with out a doubt... if I could do it over again, I would come back as a successful independent oil baron.

I bet Prof can come up with the percentage of working poor vs irresponsibile welfare sucking poor. :)

7:53 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

I suspect one’s opinion on professorial political viewpoints depends on your school. I can tell you that in my experience most of my professors were extremely liberal to radical left. A number of Marxists and those I suspected where Marxists. A few hippies as well.

Of course I’m a bit older than you and that was more fashionable in the early 80s.

But you haven’t lived if you haven’t been taught economics by a Marxist.

9:48 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Marx is a four letter word nowadays. I had one professor dog him up and down. I reminded the class that if we keep what Marx wrote in the context of what was happening in the workforce at that time, mid-late 1800s industrial revolution with people chained to their workstations 12 hours + a day and kids digging coal in mines, Marx was pretty damn good.

To be far though, this Professor just had a master's degree. You should see the books in his office, you can always judge someone well by his library. Tom Clancy! Yuck!!!! Not even academic books, unless Rush Limbaugh counts as an intellectual.

Generally however, we at school are subjected to listen to potshots on the U.N. all day.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

....help.....crushed under... ...loads... ....paper.... ....errrrgh.

yoshi...ur experienc...not typical...see lnk, pg.6.

< /a harumph >=a.....forget it....

http://www.cmpa.com/documents/05.03.29.Forum.Survey.pdf


p.r.

10:23 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Well, I go to one school in redneck Texas-land, so my experience may be the exception. (I looked at the report, btw).

So the general rule is, the more education you have, the more liberal you get. Hmm? What's that tell you? I'll agree that most social sciences/ arts are liberal, but I think almost by nature people studying business are indoctrinated with conservative business values. I know we are at UTA, no doubt about it.

I still think it depends on what is meant by "conservative". I consider myself "conservative" because I believe in free markets, outsourcing, and invisible hands. But I'd probably be labeled "liberal" because I don't believe Adam and Eve ran from velociraptors in the Garden of Edun. Or because I think we need an alternative form of energy developed more rapidly and shop at Whole Foods. Or because I don't eat at Diary Queen or like football or professional wrestling. I'm slightly right of center, but I'd be called liberal by most slightly-biased surveys.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,

So our best defense against terrorism is a better educated public. Interesting.

I said: “Eliminate mass stupidity.”

A path to that is to short circuit known indoctrinations of stupidity.

Ever wonder why we frisk old white women in wheel chairs, confiscate fingernail clippers and children’s safety scissors for homeland security? Other than the superficial thrill we give our undocumented security guards, I believe it is a consequence of political correctness, which is the step child of liberalism. Liberalism oversteps the correct doctrine of equality of human value to produce equality of outcome. Political correctness takes this to its logical conclusion of treating different levels of threatening people and treats them alike (ie. No profiling, middle eastern men with suicide garments and C4 treated like invalids and school children). The ridiculousness and bankruptcy of this philosophy escapes no one. However, few can connect the dots to find out the root cause of this ridiculous behavior. Our school children have become “team players” rather than independent thinkers, and thus mass government educated/thinking lobotomized individuals roam the country accounting for, what was Tony’s description? Oh yes, Mass Stupids. Ctrl + Alt + Del -> gov.skool & liberal college ed = mass thinkers = sensible environment to discuss and implement reasonable terrorism measures.

Prof. Ricardo

8:40 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

So the general rule is, the more education you have, the more liberal you get. Hmm? What's that tell you?

We live in a culture where those with less education label those with more as part of the intelligentsia. The mass stupids actually came up with a campaign to make fun of the educated among us.

Prof... I'm for profiling and universal healthcare. Not accepting the conservative knuckle-dragging ideology is not PC... it's common sense. We have to accept the Iraq war, or we are not patriotic. We have to accept the eat-your-own-kill-personal-responsibility myopic mantra... or we are weak and want the government to take care of us. You are weak if you don't accept an economic system as a fair and sole arbiter of social justice in our society. See a trend here.... :)

Sorry... some of us aren't going to buy the bs anymore. Notice to family and friends: If in 2005, you are still fighting against universal healthcare, you ARE IMMORAL. It gives the other side too much of a pass to call it just an opposing view. It needs to be called what it is from this point forward... IMMORAL. The lonely voice at our founding that claimed slavery was immoral was shouted down. The lonely voices that said there should be child labor laws were shouted down. The lonely voices that said women should have the right to vote were shouted down. The voices today that say it's not ok for a Christian society to shout down gays, and it's not ok to allow the poor to not have healthcare are being shouted down. The lonely voice that says .... no, I will not accept an economic system being the sole arbiter of social justice in our country are being shouted down. The majority has been wrong so often, it's obvious they can not be trusted.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I just spent a few minutes trying to answer the question: what percentage of the poverty class in the US are working poor vs welfare recipients. I can't say I answered that exactly, but the following links support the following numbers:

Poverty is defined as around $20,000 per year for a family of 5.

Approx 12.x % of the nation falls into poverty.

Approx 1.8% of the population received welfare (looks like that is AFCD and TANF today).

Approx 7% of the population receives food stamps.

Now I'm not positive about these numbers. I need the master Googler Tony to hunt this down. He is the google Mistro. :) However, assuming I have this pretty much right... a few observations. The vast majority of aid in this country is in the form of food stamps. If you throw out food stamps, then it looks like approx 14% of the poverty class (1.8% / 12.7% poverty) recieve welfare payments.

Again... I'm not sure about my numbers, but my brief glance leads me to believe the risk of "not enough personal responsibility"... however one tries to define that, is NOT high. I'm on board with continuing to search for better ways to deal with poverty, and better ways to lead capable people out of poverty and federal aid. However, it really looks like lack of personal responsibility is not the national crisis some would have you believe. Approx 12% of the nation being in the working poor... however... is a HUGE issue and risk.

I may dig more later. The following two websites look like a wealth :) of information.


ref 1


ref 2


ref 3

10:11 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG said, ”The majority has been wrong so often, it's obvious they can not be trusted.”

Better be careful making sense like that. You can run afoul of lots of other beliefs you espouse.

One of my consistent themes has been that majority rule sucks when you are dealing with fundamental rights. The problem is that people of every political stripe swerve off into the majoritarianism at times. You for one are quite comfortable with the majority imposing its will on the minority in the area of education to name one example. TexaCon has weighed in enthusiastically for majority rule back during the old gay marriage battles. Note that there was a time when a majority of Americans wished to add Ronald Reagan’s physiognomy to Mouth Rushmore.

So which is it? Should the majority rule or not?

I’d restate my own position again, but I have done so frequently and will try to avoid boring you all even further. The bottom line is that majority rule sounds great as long as you are in the majority.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

You for one are quite comfortable with the majority imposing its will on the minority in the area of education to name one example.

As soon as you convince me tax consequences equal violating your rights, you will have won the argument. Of course, then you will have to assist me in getting back my Iraq taxes. :)

11:07 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I agree with Biden. It's bs that just being a bright, good man is all the public has the right to know before confirming a judge. I'm sorry... but I should have the right to know the candidates views on individual vs state control of end of life issues. That's not asking how one would rule on a case... it's asking a fundamental question about individual liberty vs state intrusion.

The Senators (of both parties) deserve to know more. Otherwise everyone is just rolling the dice.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

What an amazingly weak response. I am very disappointed.

We have gone around and around on this. I’m tempted to just blow it off. But in the interests of the broader discussion, I’ll indulge a bit more.

It is impossible to make the case that taking tax dollars is not the majority imposing its will. Your argument is that this is a good thing. So the question is how does that affect my fundamental rights. In this case, the right to educate my child in the way that is best for him.

As you know, this has gone from being abstract for me to quite real in the last few months. My position has not changed in the last quarter century, but now I find myself exactly where so many others have been before. If I had the eight thousand dollars of taxes that the state has taken from me to educate my kid, I would be able to send him to the school that would work for him. And in our case, there is exactly the right school and I can not afford it.

But that was focusing in on one issue. I believe that you are on record for supporting majority rule on other issues as well. Such as abortion where you point out that most people do not think it is murder.

Regardless of the detailed issues, my question was on majority rule.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Another bs line in the judge confirmation process. Because this president won the election, he won the right to fill the court as he chooses. Well... last I checked judges are for all of us. He won the election 51%-48%. That 2 or 3% didn't mean the 48% don't exist. It's as if, since the GOP won the election by a couple of percent, they should now be entitled to overturn Roe vs Wade. Sorry... the logic doesn't hold up. It's bad enough we got a president that isn't a president for all of us, but surely Judges have to be for all of us.

That said... Roberts is extremely impressive. The problem is, IQ, temperment, and judicial philosophy doesn't matter much when it comes to abortion. He will either vote your way or not. Nothing a judge does can heal the divide in this country on that subject. We (and the judge) are left with two very bad choices. 1) A country where women can decide pregnancy issues for themselves (could make a personal choice abortion is immoral for them), with a large percentage of the population revolted by that right making charges of murder... OR 2) a country where abortion is illegal (at least in some states), and as a consequence, doctors, mom's, sisters, wives subject to prison or death sentences. We are surviving the current choice. It would be interesting to see if we survived changing that choice.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Regardless of the detailed issues, my question was on majority rule.

Well, you merged majority rule and rights when you said the following (which I responded to).

One of my consistent themes has been that majority rule sucks when you are dealing with fundamental rights. The problem is that people of every political stripe swerve off into the majoritarianism at times. You for one are quite comfortable with the majority imposing its will on the minority in the area of education to name one example.

It sounded like you were making a case your child education rights were being violated, and that I supported that violation because it was a majority decision.

Warning: following just intellectual jousting. Truth be known, I wish the Federal government was showing up with buckets of educational cash for the Curm family.

Your position doesn't hold up... I think you called that weak. We could both agree you aren't making the case that the country or state is violating your rights by any specific law which requires your attendance at any specific school... i.e. you have the legal right to go elsewhere. You are making the case, that the economic consequences of tax policy amounts to the same thing... a violation of your child education rights. (btw... is child education an unumerated right?). So we are back to my point... you have to make the case that tax consequences amount to a violation of your rights. Common sense would dictate that if education tax consequences can be a violation of rights, then many, many tax consequences could also be deemed rights violations. We are going to be in court a lot. Now if I remember right, you made the case once that education is a more base and fundamental right than others. I certainly wouldn't argue against the importance of education, but I'm not sure where the constitution supports you in the claim education is a special case. Can you point me to the part of the Constitution holds education out to be a special case. Asked a different way... would you think education rights violation is the only place where one could invoke tax consequences to support you?

Just out of curiosity, how did you determine your state is collecting $8000 from you. I say State, because we have State property tax funded schools... federal funding isn't significant. If I remember correctly, my yearly property taxes on my fairly large home in the best school district in town was around $3000-$4000 a year. Now I'm a renter, and I'm not sure how much my landlord pays in property taxes and then passes on to me. I don't think it's $8000 a year unless I'm getting a very, very good deal. :)

Tony, if I were King, parents would NEVER have to raise issues about the cost of educating kids. I'm afraid, however, there would still be federal funding of religion issues left to complain about. Maybe I shouldn't be king. :)

12:21 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I just caught that... not just weak, but amazingly weak. :)

12:22 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: Prof... I'm for profiling and universal healthcare.

Notice to family and friends: If in 2005, you are still fighting against universal healthcare, you ARE IMMORAL.


Interesting. So, does this mean you are for legislating morality? You religious fanatic, you. :-)

So who’s morality should we legislate? Yours (dictatorship)? The majorities (Democracy, lynch rule)? Or individual freedom to do what you will as long as it does not intrude on others?

In your world of “universal healthcare,” would doctors and individuals be punished, even with prison sentences for getting any medical healthcare outside of the system (like Hillarycare)? You know how stupid governmental rule making can be. Are you content with a world where people will die because the healthcare they could get to would be “outside the system”, therefore they didn’t go, therefore they died? Remember three planes flew to their graves with compliant passengers on 9/11, only the final one did the passengers act on their own did they have a reasonable chance to avert disaster. If universal healthcare is like ANY other governmental program and shows great inefficiency, waste, and lack of responsiveness, and if it is like ANY other socialist nation’s healthcare in long waits, sometimes months for emergency appendectomies and such, I suspect we can imagine there are those who might not want to wait in lines like you see at community hospitals currently dispensing “free” healthcare. The net effect will be a decrease in the net health of our nation. This decrease in net healthcare will be met with intense need to do something. That something will involve more money, more control and intrusion, and more failure. But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Prof. Ricardo

12:56 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Help me find the actual working poor vs Welfare check recipient stats. I figure you already know this one off the top of your head. I realize I am asking help from someone immoral. :)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

So who’s morality should we legislate?

You can't have a true meritocracy without providing children with equal educational opportunities and healthcare coverage regardless of economic class. We can afford it now, so positions against it have become immoral. Of course I'm equating constantly striving for true meritocracy with morality. Just call me crazy.

Let's see.... multi-millonaire avoid estate tax OR all kids have heathcare? Tough choice.... NOT.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I was making a general observation that majority rule stinks. Then I gave a specific example where you think majority rule is just fine immediately after you had posted that the majority is not to be trusted. I should have picked a different example so I could keep you on topic. :-D

The $8,000 figure is what they spend per kid in Texas. Granted, I did not pay my $8,000 this year, but like you I paid a lot of years I did not have a kid in school. If I had all the tax money back…which by the way is not what I’m asking for…I could send my kid anywhere I wanted.

The argument that the tax consequences violate my fundamental rights is irrefutable. The counter argument that you always use is that I can take my kid elsewhere and that I’m being taxed for education is entirely relevant.

In terms of the constitution, it is express in the law and implied by natural rights theory that any power not expressly granted to the government is reserved to the states and the people. You are right, the Constitution does not address it, so it is still mine. The special case is those powers we have given the government to infringe on our human rights.

Actually, when I made the argument about determining your child’s education being a fundamental right it was rooted in the nature of parenthood. The right to become a parent and to raise you kid as you see fit has always been one of the most protected of our liberties. That right has been seized from me without my consent.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: Let's see.... multi-millonaire avoid estate tax OR all kids have heathcare? Tough choice.... NOT.

I didn’t say avoid tax. That’s all lumped together anyway. I said seek the actual HEALTHCARE, that item you want to be so universal - Can I have an out of the system doctor put a band-aid on my finger?

No more dodge ball. Answer the question.

Prof. Ricardo

“All kids?” Really. I’m tearing up already, sniff, sniff.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony: The right to become a parent and to raise you kid as you see fit has always been one of the most protected of our liberties. That right has been seized from me without my consent.

Amen. Hallelujah. Pass the plate.

Prof. Ricardo

1:45 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Great. I'm with you guys. I want my Iraq tax money back. I was violated when my tax money was used to make my future life here more dangerous. You guys feel bent over about educating little Johnny... you must really feel violated having your tax money used in Iraq. This opens up an entire new spectrum to be pissed off about... the wild wild world of misused tax money. Giddyup!!! We've got some serious blogging opportunities.

Prof,

If universal healthcare is like ANY other governmental program and shows great inefficiency, waste, and lack of responsiveness,

Talk about dodgeball. How many times have I had to remind you that the term Universal Healthcare doesn't equate (necessarily) to government healthcare... at least not how I'm using it. I'm for universal health coverage. Notice, nowhere in that sentence to I define the delivery mechanism. Frankly, it's above my paygrade. What isn't above my paygrade is holding my nose when I hear Prof say he intends to protect the efficiency and quality of his family's doctor line by not allowing those who can't afford to slide into the line.. Sorry... just can't make that skunk smell like perfume.

Interestingly, right after I posted the Universal Healthcare post, I flipped channels to a CNBC discussion on ... of all things... OUR HEALTHCARE CRISIS. They had a couple of Senators, Governor Mitt Romney, and several business owners including the Starbucks CEO. To a man, they all seemed to agree that the nation was heading towards an elitist healthcare system. The have's having the best healthcare system in the world and the have-nots having no healthcare system. I suppose people would keep making the claim until the cows come home that we had the best healthcare system... even if only two people left in the US could afford it. But Mitt Romney said something that you need to hear Mr. Prof. He said in there state they have been providing insurance cards to the poor that constantly show up at the emergency centers for their healthcare. Instead, these folks were routed to doctors... and patient-doctor relationships developed. These people still couldn't afford their heathcare, but the costs to the state dropped by 2/3rds. That's the entire point. If people get off their personal responsibility high-horse long enough regarding healthcare, they will be able to see that we can beat the current emergency room/hospital coverage of the poor. Imagine emergency rooms being limited to emergencies. If it helps, I would allow personal responsibility lectures to the folks after they see the doctor.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

So one could make a case that lifetime renters don't carry their fair share concerning the cost of educating the kiddies. If the government kept tabs so they could offer vouchers like you propose, you may actually owe money. Now that's irony.

Checkmate.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Move a few pawns and you think you have me checkmated? I’ll bet you have world peace totally mastered too.

Matters of national defense are totally different. You have consented to that…check your Constitution. Obviously I have wasted a lot of packets explaining how our legal system works. Not that it bothers me that much to know that I am talking to myself. It was never an impediment to me before.

How do you figure renters don’t pay property tax? Where do you think your landlord gets the money to pay property taxes? I’ve met your landlord and while he is certainly a good guy, I don’t think he is just eating that expense.

Now as tempting as it is to conclude this post with extreme ridicule and bombastic condescension, instead let me rescue you from your own confusion and make your case for you. Don’t expect this treatment all of the time: I’m just in a particularly generous mood today.

I do think we deserve our money back on Iraq. The Government does not have the power to wage war absent a declaration of war. The War Powers act is itself unconstitutional. The various authorizations that have occurred down through the years since the enactment of that piece of excrement known as the WPA are themselves a dereliction of office and violation of the individual oaths of office by congressmen sufficient to warrant removal from office. (Notice I did not say impeachment because that is a Congressional act.)

And by the way, I will say “you are welcome” in advance. Anytime you need me to think for you, do not hesitate to ask. A mind is, after all, a terrible thing to waste.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

This should cause some excitement.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

How do you figure renters don’t pay property tax?

Well, first I'm not talking about all renters, but rather the renter named Tony. Second, if you think you are entitled to $8000 a year back from the places you have rented, I might suggest some remedial math.

That said, I'm pumped that I will be getting a Iraq rebate check.

Kurt Vonnegut's list of liberal crap he doesn't want to hear again.

Kurt said we were just the one's to give Iraq a democracy lesson.

1) In the early days, mass genocide is ok.
2) You can hold on to your slaves for 100 years.
3) You don't have to give you women the right to vote for 150 years.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Remedial math:

When I did own a home (a long time ago in a cheap neighborhood), my property taxes were approximately $1,500 per year. I’ll use that extremely conservative number-its probably closer to $4,000 a year now.

Now take age 25 to 65 as my actuarial expectation of paying those taxes…that is 40 years. That translates into $60,000. Divide that by the twelve years of education of my kid, and it comes up $5,000 per year. I’m close using the most conservative numbers I could muster. Factor in inflation, the time value of money, and the fact that I’ll probably pay the taxes for more than 40 years and it is extremely lopsided. Which is what I would expect since I am subsidizing lower wage earners.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Let's try some math.

Tony rents for 20 years. Let's just say that was $1000 a month for 20 years. I remember my property tax being less as a percentage of the mortgate... but let's go with 10% of that $1000 per month as property tax. So for 20 years, Tony accumulates $100 a month towards schools. So $1200 a year * 20 years = $24,000 paid in. Tony claims current Texas per kid cost is $8000, but let's not beat him up to bad. Let's go with half of that... $4000 per year per kid to school for a year. 20 * $4000 = $80,000. Tony owes (and he would owe if we were keeping tabs for a school tax ala carte system): $80,000 - $24,000 = $56,000. Good grief... and I thought I was for wealth transfer.

What a commie.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

You owned a house for like... two months. And you used that number for 40 years. Pawaaaaa!!!

5:09 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Sound familar?

Janadas Devan, a Straits Times columnist, tried to explain to his Asian readers how the U.S. is changing. "Today's conservatives," he wrote, "differ in one crucial aspect from yesterday's conservatives: the latter believed in small government, but believed, too, that a country ought to pay for all the government that it needed.

"The former believe in no government, and therefore conclude that there is no need for a country to pay for even the government that it does have. ... [But] it is not only government that doesn't show up when government is starved of resources and leached of all its meaning. Community doesn't show up either, sacrifice doesn't show up, pulling together doesn't show up, 'we're all in this together' doesn't show up."


Friedman is so much smarter that a mass stupid

7:39 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Wow, Curmie, we agree on something. How completely and utterly boring. I too have been quite dismayed by my taxes being taken for use by the collective group of students that attend schools that my son did not. I can't say it ever dissuaded me from owning a home.

As to the CG's math, the tax rate for the school district, at least in Texas, is always the highest one...and there are no exemptions on it that I know of. The city and county districts offer exemptions for disabled veterans, over-65 and Homestead but you get zip on the ISD taxes. The computation is based on the appraised value of your home, not your mortgage. I've lost everyone haven't I. I always do that. A house appraised at about $150k in my county will pay about $2700 in school district taxes per year (and I live in a relatively cheap district). Of course, hang on, where's that index card with all the GOP talking points, um, oh, yeah, there it is. If we incorporated a school voucher system it would promote competition among various schools and allow for a more college institution method of attracting students...oh, I know, you don't want to hear that but it's a good idea. Not without it's shortcomings but what ideas are. Even sitting down to a nice piece of chocolate cake isn't COMPLETELY good for you.

Oh, and curmie, I think my stance on gay marriage has been taken out to the woodshed and you've taken a whip to it. I do believe that you can take your "majoritarian rule sucks" stance a bit too staunch. How would we ever elect a president then? There have to be institutions that lend themselves to a system of having the public speak for what should be. Not everyone will agree and the minorities will lose out. Should the minority view succeed so that we avoid majoritarian principles? I don't think so. At least if there is to be a departure of a custom common, not only to America, but to civilized societies (crap, I hated using that phrase), shouldn't there be a vote? Look at our civil war. A lot of ignorant people wanted to hang on to their slaves and sure, there were a bunch of them...but not enough to defeat the Union. Was that a bad thing? That was majoritarian rule if I ever knew one. It wasn't exactly a thumping but it was decisive. I can't wait to learn something.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Wait a minute, wait a minute. I can't let you get away with quoting a Malaysian newspaper as having some authority on the American definition of what a conservative is. If we were playing Scrabble, I'd throw the dictionary at you on that one and go get a sandwich whilst you looked up some reason and perspective. That's like if you were raised without parents, me reading Oliver Twist and knowing what it was like for you. No. Try again. The conservatives I know are passionate about the poor, the suffering, yes - the widows and the orphans and want to help. What the conservatives I know do NOT want, is a system that lends itself to dependence and collective alternatives to work.

The conservatives that I know belong to churches and donate money that allows the church to adopt victims of Katrina start a new life in a new community. And no, it's not based on some contractual obligation to attend church nor even BELIEVE in God.

You can say lies like that about conservatives being disconnected, over and over again, even across the Pacific in some Singaporian newspaper, and it does not make it become true. How has this administration proved this? How has this administration turned it's back on the poor? How have conservatives turned their back on the poor? This administration has been better to the poor than #42. And that was practically his platform.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish my tourist's guide to Malaysian Cooking. No, I've never been there. But I watch Rachel Ray every weekend and I think I get the gist of it.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

You may be right. You may serve a purpose here by bringing optimism. You didn't think I was listening, did you? Did you ever remember if I went condescending on you before or after the CommieG label? I really couldn't remember. :)

There have to be institutions that lend themselves to a system of having the public speak for what should be. Not everyone will agree and the minorities will lose out. Should the minority view succeed so that we avoid majoritarian principles?

Well, I have to agree with you a second time in the same post... with a big BUT. Tony is talking specifically about majority opinion meaning sqat about constitutional rights. For example, it never mattered a majority supported slavery... it was always a violation of liberty against another human being. But then, here is a question for Tony. The slave thing was in the Constitution... so was it really unconstitutional? Is there a difference at any given time between what is constitutional (and majority accepted) and the true nature of human rights? For example... a majority may support civil union rights being banned from gays, but a true definition of human rights may be that gays are just as entitled to human rights as the next guy. Very confusing when majority should rule and when it means squat.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. I can't let you get away with quoting a Malaysian newspaper as having some authority on the American definition of what a conservative is.

Man Conservatives really don't care what other countries think... it's almost pathological. Can't you just measure the opinion on it's own regardless of the source? Besides, I take the source to really be Thomas Friedman... he is repeating it as an example of his shared views (at least that's how I took it). The US is pretty frickin good considering... but our sh*t stinks just like all other animals. Chill... listen to others and reject if the ideas are all wet... but don't just reject because they aren't American.

How has this administration turned it's back on the poor? How have conservatives turned their back on the poor?

I accept that conservatives like you and Prof are sincere in this belief. You do share a party with mega-business that doesn't give a rat about the poor, but forget them for now. I've never doubted for a second folks like you and Prof care about the poor. I just can't give your good intentions a pass because I don't think they amount to much in the US in 2005. There is just no way that the church network and volunteerism can deal with the scope and complexity of those falling through the cracks in our 2005 US economy. Good intentions with ideology don't mean jack when we are talking about real lives of folks living in poverty (and we can just stick with the working poor that don't need the personal responsibility speeches because they are working). I'm sure there are many consistencies in my (and other progressive) arguments that you can point out... feel free. But here is one for you and the Prof... and almost every single one of my GOP friends. You can never even start a conversation about the complexity of poverty in America and challenges to the have's sense of entitlement... BECAUSE... in the first 10 seconds you guys whip out the personal responsibility mantra. In the first 10 seconds at the wave of a loyal GOP hand, working poor and the scum of the earth food stamp recipient all fall under the umbrella of needing a stern talking too about personal responsibility. I know we have Puritan roots and all... but seriously, do you ever make the distinction of the working poor. Do you guys believe it's possible that a tremendously hard working family man will always live in poverty do to all kinds of reasons (IQ, poverty trap, location, dependent elderly parents, sickness and disease, the fact that a large percentage of our so called full employment is poverty wage jobs, yada yada yada). I will give you that maybe I'm the dumb one who just doesn't get it... but I woke up one day and heard my wealthy friends saying they have been asked to give too much for too long (taxes) and Bush finally was setting it straight. Keep in mind some of these guys can buy south Tulsa if they want to, and their principles about some mystical tax threshold that shouldn't be crossed meant more than the roofer dad with a family of 4 who had zero chance to afford healthcare for his kids. I applaud you guys who can make sense out of this kind of wealthy US... and it would be much easier on me if I could go back and fit in with my friends. But I have a real problem. I can no longer justify those inequalities. I really listen to your arguments and Profs arguments (in between the condescension). It's not that Prof's point about "who is decide morality and other's contributions to common good/charity" isn't sound logic. It's the fact that the reality we live in is one wealthy man's valid moral principles have to be weighed against another man's real life need of taking the kid to the doctor. All that's at risk for one is a competing principal, but zero economic risk or lifestyle risk. The risk on the other side could be as serious as a child living or dying. We are the only western democracy to make the call on the conservative side that you and Prof support. I know anything not-America isn't worth listening to, but at least consider how many other democracies made the second choice. You just can't blame that on being godless, or demanding a backup plan to working. Those platitudes are too simple for a man of your Intelligence. You are willing to "be in this together through your church" but not "we are in this together through our goverment". I have become convinced the only chance the poor will ever have (and there our only chance for a civilized more equitable society) will but us acting MORE collectively through goverment. That doesn't mean government owning business's, or communism or anything like it. It's like the Friedman article... let's just get back to a more rational discussion about needed government, rather than this 30 year cult to destroy it. I really hope we realize soon that we need a New New Deal... a better and more efficient one to cope with a vastly different economy with more in's and out's into employment... Rather than just killing the old New Deal. Going back to just church networks won't work, and isn't fair... many of us don't want our safety net provided through your church.

Then again, maybe we are all mass stupids when measured against the complexity of economies and terrorism we find ourselves in. We are probably all just kidding ourselves that humans can figure it out this time. In the meantime, my government can tax me for poor folks... that is once I get an income again. My friends suspect I'm lobbying for poor folks for myself these days. It's a lousy thing to give your GOP friends in arguments like this... they eventually pull out the "you are a deadbeat" line. I guess it would mean more for a very wealthy individual to say "tax the hockey out of me if you need too for poor people". :)

Cheers... we all have to do what we gotta do.

10:30 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"There is just no way that the church network and volunteerism can deal with the scope and complexity of those falling through the cracks in our 2005 US economy."

-Not only that, but why is it primarily the churches' responsibility while everyone else gets off? Milton Friedman even talks about this idea, that too many people would take a "free ride" on fighting poverty, that we'd all be willing to chip in to help the poor, but only if we could be sure everyone else was too.

Having only churches tend to the poor makes as much sense as having only churches tending to the highways and running the police and FBI.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

You asked, ” How would we ever elect a president then? There have to be institutions that lend themselves to a system of having the public speak for what should be.”

Well, you are taking me a bit out of context as I was speaking about fundamental rights. To say it plainly, I think that majority rule has no place whatsoever in determining what one’s human rights protections should be. This is the real genius of our system of laws.

It doesn’t matter that the majority wishes to impose its religious views on Christians though its legal mandate of a secular education. It doesn’t matter that the majority wishes to prevent homosexuals from getting married in their own church. It doesn’t matter that the Southern Baptists wish to deprive me of my pint of stout.

But even in the context of legislation within the governments enumerated powers, there are many mechanisms that attempt to dilute the rush of the majority. The founders were worried about mob rule probably as much as any other single factor.

9:06 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:37 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Prof.

-I was thinking of the value of formal university education. For example, your obsession with the Gold Standard and "real wages" is way off course. That's a result of educating yourself without proper feedback.

I'm taking a wild guess here, but that must come from some of that right-wing conspiracy theory stuff you're reading (or those infomercials that are trying to sell you their gold). Formal education can filter that radical stuff out.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Having only churches tend to the poor makes as much sense as having only churches tending to the highways and running the police and FBI.

that too many people would take a "free ride" on fighting poverty, that we'd all be willing to chip in to help the poor, but only if we could be sure everyone else was too.

Yep and Yep. Humans have proved 1) we are pack animals 2) unless it's in writing, it doesn't mean jack. The Articles of Confederation proved this... we don't catch on very fast.

I was trying to think of an analogy to pinpoint the core differences between conservatives and liberals. The differences are too broad for that in reality, but maybe the following isn't bad.

Hypothetical: Imagine there are two adults in need (food, housing, etc.) Imagine everyone agrees that one of the individuals deserves the help/charity, and everyone agree one does not (a real deadbeat). Also imagine the rule is we can either help BOTH or NEITHER.

The liberal will be so disgusted with the idea of not helping the deserving one, they will hold their nose and help both.

The conservative will be so disgusted at the prospect of someone undeserving getting help, they will sacrifice the deserving individual out of principle.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I might just have to put David Brooks back on the reading list. Pretty funny stuff...

Jeff Sessions: This may be a good moment to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that in this country unelected judges don't write the laws. We have unelected lobbyists to do that. Under our system, judges merely interpret the law and decide presidential elections.

Brooks on the Roberts confirmation process

Coburn is one of my two fearless Senators. He really did almost start wailing after he made the statement he longed for a less partisan time. Jon Stewart picked up on that one. He put up a couple of quotes from Coburn's 2004 Oklahoma campaign.

I am for the death sentence for abortion doctors.

Gays represent the biggest threat to our civil liberties than anything else.

Yep... it's obvious only those other elected types are divisive. Pawaaaaa!!!!

2:47 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Pretty funny song on the price of gasoline

4:21 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa airs on MTV Friday, September 16 at 8 PM ET/PT, coinciding with the United Nations World Summit on Poverty.


"In this special think MTV episode of Diary, actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie journeys to Kenya with the world's leading expert on poverty, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. On their journey, they witness how the challenges of hunger, disease and isolation in Africa are being overcome in this small village beset by hunger, AIDS, and malaria."

(7 pm Central, that's us in Texas!).

Common Good, Tony, Randy, try to watch it if you've access to cable.

Prof, if you want to learn more about Economics and what works with foreign aid, you should watch as well. Especially Prof, he needs some tutoring in that department. Actually Prof, you should make it part of your homeschool curriculum.(If you want, I'll edit out the commericials with the pretty girls and mail you the DVD I make from it.)

10:49 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

by the way, Common Good, the new Ali G season 2 is out. Ali G goes to a Pro-life" rally in D.C.

Bruno goes to a Arkansas Minister "Gay Converter."

Borat goes with a Republican candidate for the House door-to-door to solicit votes. Borat also goes to a country-western bar, but I'm not giving away what happens...

And of course, much, much more...
It's pretty damn funny, make a few cocktails for your wife and you and pop it in the DVD player...

10:59 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

The quintessential liberal President George Bush who never met a government program he wanted to veto and never met a need he didn’t want to spend your money on to fix, once again bought more votes (Hey, I thought this was his last term?) by promising the world to N.O. this week, thus providing EVEN MORE EVIDENCE that our good friend Common Good talks a good talk about George and his rich buddies and their all out war on the poor, without any real evidence to support it (Remember C.G., politicians lie, politicians lie, politicians lie, they talk conservative, they spend like liberals, politicians lie).

So far FEMA money has been spent for $700 purses in Atlanta and at Strip Clubs in Houston. How such a Diva of the Welfare world can be such a hated member of the left is beyond me. Oh, now I remember. He doesn’t favor filling dumpsters with dead baby parts. How silly of me. To be a real Democrat, A real woman has got to have some real rights. And if you ain’t got the right to killin’ chillen - You just ain’t got rights.

Prof. Ricardo
M-Th.=60hrs

9:14 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Jolie is now on the TIVO to do list. It must be a short lesson... only 30 minutes. I have to figure cell phone and poverty awareness is way up these days with males... considering Jolie and Catherine Zeta Jones. I'm lucky I don't have about 50 cell phones. :)

Prof,

Yep... Shrub sounded like a decent human being last night... i.e. a Democrat. :) I would not get to carried away giving him credit, however. He couldn't exactly go in front of the American public and give him the Prof you are on your own lecture. Also, remember Cheney already did reconnaissance for Haliburtion in the area. Did you hear someone in the crowd... I think in Mississippi yelled for Cheney to go F*** himself. Prof, you live in a vacuum called Texas. You need to get out more. You should... you would be a big hit. Baby parts... jeeze. Let me offer some humor to counteract that negativity (where is that optimistic cus TC when you need him). Prof... what's the 60 hrs? Katrina help?

Humor: Turns out our DNA is 98.5% identical to that of chimpanzes. That 1.5% is what gives us our inclanation for greed and killing each other.

- The Daily Show

btw... anyone listen to the gas song I linked above. I loved the part at the end where the guy says those hybrid cars don't seem so gay anymore. :)

9:43 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

btw... a couple of lap dances could go a long way to help raise a .... flood victims spirits after a flood.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

More humor:

Red state america is out to prove evolution is false by NOT EVOLVING.

10:18 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I read the song. Speaking of, I saw Donald Trump last night on Jay Leno's show complaining about gas prices. He was saying that the Saudi's were "ripping us off," and that Washington could send the right businessmen there to get us a better price.

Generally I take the position that rich men are ususally always right (that's how they get rich!), but I think he's full of shit of this one. I don't think OPEC controls the price like he imagines. Russia is a huge producer, the North Sea is, Mexico is, and Canada is. OPEC doesn't have the market share it used to, it can't have too much control on the price anymore.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I have to share a priceless moment that happened at the end of the Roberts hearings. I watched most of the hearing... yeah, I know, I need to get a life.

Overall, most of the Senators were on good behavior and asked good questions. Only a couple turned the questioning into a grandstanding for themselves and for their ideology. One of the worse was Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. One of the last witnesses was a pastor that was not in favor of judge Roberts. Session got all puffed up {which is his usual state if you have ever watched him } and asked what this pastor thought of the recent pledge under god ruling by the judge. Her response was priceless. She calmly asked Mr. Pompous a couple of questions. Senator, what's your reason for arguing so strongly that "under god" has to remain in the pledge? If your basis is "tradition", the "under god" phrase was put into the pledge in the 50's as a protest against Communism. It was not a tradition from our founders. If you are batting for God, he doesn't need your help. If you view the "under god" phrase as a form of declaration of the existence of god, then it's the same as prayer and a violation of the seperation of chruch and state laws of our country. I never heard such mumbling out of the Puffed up one. He tried to hide the whistling sound of the wind exiting his puffed up condition... but failed miserably.

On a related note, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint declared on the Senate floor... paraphrasing: If the US ever stops declaring ourselves a Christian nation, then we will become a less humble nation because we will lose the humility that Christianity brings. I almost spewed my diet coke right through my nose. I have to ask the question: is telling everyone that if you don't accept his Christian god you lose humility... humble? That sounds like the opposite of humility to me. I think I will have to refer to this guy as Senator DeMented from now on.

I get is Sessions and DeMented... we the people was an oversight. It was always meant to say we the Christian people. For after all, if our rights are a gift from a Christian god, then why would god want any rights for those who are not Christians.

I get it... that 1.5% is shining through.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Ha, ha, good post about the "pastor". Thanks for posting that. I think the punch line was the "separation of church and state laws." Ah, man, I almost choked on my Coca-Cola Classic. As if that was in the Constitution or something, right?! Whew, that was good. The idea that we have "separation of church and state laws." Oh, man, I'm LMAO over here.

Thanks, CG.

2:54 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good, you are depressing the hell out of me. If some Senators really behaved that way, especially the comment about America "losing it's humility."

That takes the cake. How do these people get in charge to begin with?

I didn't get TexCon's sarcasm... could someone break it down for me?

3:52 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Yep... very, very depressing. I was so much happier before I caught on. Ignorance is bliss... and I want to go back. { No comments from the peanut gallery on CG ignorance please }

TC,

I missed your sarcasm also. As Yoshi said, please break it down for us.

The pastor I paraphrased was Susan Thistlewaite, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary. I know nothing about her other than listening to her testimony, and her bitch-slapping of Sessions. I googled for the actual Sessions-Thistlewaite transcript (day four) because I don't trust my memory 100% on the dialogue. Unfortuantely, it doesn't look like the day four transcript is out yet. However, her testimony was available. I would hope you would read it, and maybe we could discuss areas you disagree with. Same for everyone else. I was very impressed with her testimony.

It might seem contradictory that while as a nation we are more religiously pluralistic than ever before, we see contemporary efforts by some to establish the doctrines of only one religion, Christianity, and indeed only of part of Christianity, as social policy.

Testimony of
Susan Thistlewaite


I have some questions for you guys, but I will wait until after your feedback on Susan's testimony.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Also... Robert Reich was his usual most excellent self in making one think.

Is the well-being of our society the sum of our individual goods, or is there a common good that must be addressed? The answer will shape the American economy and society of the twenty-first century.

Over the next decades, the Supreme Court will play important role in helping us make this choice. Under the guise of many doctrines and rationales – interpretations of the takings and due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause, the doctrine of federal preemption, the doctrine involving improper delegations of legislative or judicial powers to regulatory agencies, and so on – the Court will favor either property or community, depending on the economic values of a majority of the Justices.


For Tony,

Do our poor and working-class children have the right, under the Equal Protection Clause, to as good an education as the children of our wealthier citizens? A future Court that says yes presumably would deem unconstitutional much of our present system of primary and secondary education, in which spending per child largely is based largely on local property taxes that vary enormously depending on whether the locale is rich or poor.

Robert Reich Testimony - don't kid yourself, values do come into play also

4:44 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I have a correction on my DeMint comment. His comment was restricted to God and not Christianity. I think it's pretty obvious he makes no distinction, but hey...

If we expel God from our public life, and if we lose humility that comes with the belief in a creator, our children and grandchildren will inherit an arrogant nation that has little hope for the future.

Pretty cool you can look up Senators speeches and comments on the floor. I have been looking for a way to do that.

DeMint speech

5:01 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: “what's the 60 hrs?
Work. I left work at 10:15 M, Th, and after midnight T, Wed. I was as worthless today as a Democrat at an economic summit.

Yoshi,
I was thinking of the value of formal university education. For example, your obsession with the Gold Standard and "real wages" is way off course.

Its not an obsession. You can barely see the Krugurands from any room in the house? :-D But seriously, what is money? It is a medium of exchange that has value and has widespread acceptability and/or use. We (US) went from gold & silver coins to gold & silver certificates to “federal notes,” which have no inherent value, other than they are currently acceptable by other people. Governments have been inflating monies for dozens of centuries. The ridges on your “silver” coins is to prevent “clipping,” a process where by people shaved the edges off coins, devaluing the coin. Precious metals have value anywhere. It has a certain weight, a certain purity or proof. When governments and societies move to paper money, the money is so easily devalued by the printing press. This creates a shaky financial foundation for businesses to thrive on.

We don’t necessarily have to return to exchanging gold coins. But tying the currency to gold, it restricts government from devaluing the currency. Consider it a “security net” if you will. We can get deeper into this if you wish, but my interest lies at a level of demanding accountability from my government rather than sitting on top of a pile of Krugerands with an M16 and a box of Krispy Kremes defending the homeland from black helicopters.

Prof. Ricardo

5:07 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"Krugurands"- S.A. gold coins? I don't get it.

"We went from gold...to “federal notes,” which have no inherent value, other than they are currently acceptable by other people"

-The same as gold or silver. Gold is just good for filling teeth really. We can't eat it. Why don't we just go to a "steel" standard?

"Governments have been inflating monies for dozens of centuries." (You can inflate, or deflate, with gold too (hence, centuries). Produce too much, like printing too much, causes price increases.

"Precious metals have value anywhere." (Only because you give it value. It's all psychological).

"It has a certain weight, a certain purity or proof. When governments and societies move to paper money, the money is so easily devalued by the printing press"

-nominally devalued, a few more zeros are added to the nominal price, but the real price stays they same. And inflation could be with gold as well. The Spanish had the gold standard and suffered hyper-inflation when they brought all that gold from those Indians they slaughtered (and converted).

"This creates a shaky financial foundation for businesses to thrive on."

But tying the currency to gold, it restricts government from devaluing the currency. Consider it a “security net” if you will.

-I was talking to one of Professors about yesterday. (Don't worry, I didn't tell them you were an adult ;o) Too bad I couldn't quite understand him well enough to explain it now perfectly. It was something to do with "pegging" currency, for example, the dollar to gold, or the Peso to the dollar. It interferes with the market process. I'll get a better explanation why on Tuesday and post it.

"but my interest lies at a level of demanding accountability"

-does that translate to "the government should run a balanced budget?"

powerpoint slides on money/inflation. Might find it useful

It is important to pursue this because if either one of us has a misconception that we can get to the bottom of, it'll add to our collective knowledge, help us explain it to our peers (the best way to learn is to explain it to someone else), and basically keep from looking like fools when we bump into someone who REALLY does know what they are talking about.

For example, I thought high oil prices lead to inflation. I was wrong, and glad I caught myself before it became part of my "knowledge". Inflation only comes from an increase in the money supply (which can happen with gold too). It was important I got to the bottom of that simple misconception I had.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

OK... did my MTV assignment. Thanks Yoshi for making me more depressed. The inequities on this planet is total insanity. I guess they would give anything for a society where they could argue that their tax rates were unfair.

9:35 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Well, the idea is with a little injection of cash to invest in basic items like fertilizer, a village can increase it's productivity and be on it's way to self-suffiency.

Did you see the difference fertilizer made from the village that had from the village that didn't?

I think there was a positive message there, that is, this is achievable. We, as you know, have a human need beyond stuffing ourselves with Oreo cookies and playing video games all day. I think we as a species are bored, we want some meaning. I think collectively we're going to tackle these issues in the next few decades.

Don't worry about those radical "conservative" eccentrics out there. They are no match for the cultural changes that are inevitable.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Did you see the difference fertilizer made from the village that had from the village that didn't?

Yep... and the $7 mosquito nets that last for 5 years.

We, as you know, have a human need beyond stuffing ourselves with Oreo cookies and playing video games all day.

I've come to believe that's an exception and not the norm. If it was otherwise, none of this would be tolerated in the first place. We have been a rich nation for a very long time.

I think collectively we're going to tackle these issues in the next few decades.

Dude said collectively... hehehe.

Don't worry about those radical "conservative" eccentrics out there. They are no match for the cultural changes that are inevitable.

Have you seen the red state eccentric map?

All I can give you Yoshi is rich folks do seem to be talking about this more. I'm talking Gates rich. Jolie and Sachs are just a ripple. Gates is the lake. Governments are the oceans. If the lakes get the oceans on board, then you will be on your way. No Oceans... just chit chat.

10:53 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

We have been rich a "long time".... but...

A.) The world has never been as rich as it is now
(aside from what the Professor thinks, that we were richer before 1971!)

B.) The world has never had the technology, as advanced and as cheap as it is, until now.

3.) The Cold War is over. Enter globalization.

People like Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, me, you, etc. need a little time to change the culture. With the help of Microsoft and MTV, this is happening.



Rich people more than anyone have that "human need." They got the money. Now they want to make history. Sieze the day.

Governments are doing stuff, albeit maybe not fast enough. I read "generic drugs" are now being used by the Bush Administration's AIDS plan. Money to Africa has doubled by the year 2010 (though most of it is from Europe). Bush re-asserted the USA's support of the Millennium Challenge in NYC this weekend (though this Bolton guy used every trick in the book to undermine them). This whole weekend in NYC there was 190 countries discussing this issue... governments are at least doing something).

We shouldn't look at it as all or nothing, that if the best-case scenario isn't happening, then it's the worst case.

This red state stuff was about abortion and homosexuals. That doesn't these people do not care about extreme poverty. Their Christian bands are writing songs about it. Christian organizations created the ONE Campaign to begin with. These people are finding common ground with "liberals."

The eccentrics will marginalize themselves. They can still be eccentric, and the world will move on without them. America doesn't want to be the world leader? Fine, let China or Europe do it....... but it will still get done.

The trick is to make a huge network, a communication, mass emails. People are getting educated about this slowly, some quickly (like me). Then we need to form community groups, write letters to editors, fax our Reps.

There have been Reps. who have completely made an about face under pressure from College Campus groups "outing" them publicly. I wouldn't be so cynical about these people. You just got to find their weak spot and start hammering. It doesn't work with individual phone calls to their office, that's why we have to work collectively, as ONE.

11:21 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:24 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

By the way, I feel very uncomfortable by being the "economics" authority here. It's simply by default, I prefer to learn than try to explain.

Often I get discouraged and feel I'm not learning or retaining anything, then I interact with someone else (99% of all I meet) and realize how little they know, and it reassures me that I must be picking up something.

4:41 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Sometimes in April

Common Good, you might enjoy this one from the video store. Everyone else should as well. I bet Randy with his Marine background would like it....

8:07 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Well, since no one is talking....
I just want to say I've also been thinking about this, and Common Good, I'm sorry, but the universal healthcare wouldn't work out very well.

It's an idea with great, noble intentions, but it wouldn't work for the same reason providing free Lexus automobiles to everyone wouldn't work.

I'd certainly be for both if I thought they could work, but the truism is, "you can't get something for nothing."

Most of the advances in medicine come from the U.S., and it's precisely because we don't have universal healthcare. Those other countries can only get away with their programs cause they are piggy-backing on us to develop the drugs, medicine, treatments. Plus, we'd have doctors moving abroad, or simply not bothering with medical school. The list goes on and on.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

I tend to agree that universal healthcare is problematic. That said, I don’t think the direction we are headed is wholesome either. Too many hard working people can no longer afford health care. The statistics tell us that it is continuing to get worse all the time. So do you have any ideas on how to fix it? I have a few but am not totally thrilled with my thinking on this.

1:51 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I need to learn more about what Medicaid and Medicare are and aren't. I'm going to take a wild guess though and assume it provides a basic level of services for poor people.

Off the top of my head, I guess people need to start saving more for a rainy day. Get insurance in case something happens.

Maybe there could be some kind of mixed-system where poor people who qualify could get treatment, doctors could work on sliding scales, etc. If you have a headache, sorry, you aren't getting a free doctor. If your child has cancer, you might be able to get one (assuming you've no other way to pay).

My aunt recently had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. The doctor cut her a significant price break because her insurance from work wouldn't cover it all.

My sister also had all her expenses paid for when she had a baby out-of-wedlock. So I'm not exactly convinced you're completely on your own when you need medical help.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Sorry, but comparing health care to Lexus sales really doesn't warrant a response. I will anyway, because I'm bored.

1) Do we all need the same access to health care and education in order to be called a meritocracy?

Yes, of course.

2) Can we afford it?

Yes, of course. I think it just means a little more progressive taxation form our wealthy country... but even if it means no more lake homes to pull it off, it doesn't change the morality equation. If anyone is selling the collapse of capitalism if we quit kicking some out of the health care line (which we really don't do anyway, we send them to the emergency centers)... than they are selling bs to others and maybe themselves.

3) If your answer is we can't afford it, how do you explain the survival of other western democracies that are surviving (Canada, France, Germany)? Last I checked, max GDP doesn't equal max morality.

4) Why would US healthcare inovation stop because our progressive tax system covered poor people? That rates right up there with trickle down economics. More health care customers equals more profits for those inovating companies.

One might as well sell trickle down economics as to make up bs reasons about not covering our poor in our health care system. As far as I know, we are the only western democracy which has selected the immoral path. It's ironic that we hold out GDP and innovation as defense for kicking the poor out of line.

Tony seems to concur with you when he posted: I tend to agree that universal healthcare is problematic.

To begin with, healthcare of any design is problematic... i.e. it's complicated. Also note, Universal Healthcare to me doesn't automatically mean government healthcare. It could be exactly what we have now, with poor folk vouchers taken to the existing doctors ans systems. That said, I'm interested in hearing why moving those not covered from emergency centers to an organized approach in the same heathcare system as the rest of us is any more problematic. Heads up... I don't consider longer lines for the rest of us problematic. It would seem to me healthcare for everyone is either the moral right choice or not... the length of lines and increased costs are things to work on but no reasons to change the morality of the choice. I actually made a rare appearance at the doctor office the other day. There were probably around a dozen folks in the waiting room. If I could have just kicked 6 or 8 of them out of the waiting room, my visit would have been cut in half.

I posted Robert Reich's Roberts confirmation testimony above. I can't say it any better than Reich did... so let me paste in the significant paragraph:

A central moral choice, then, is whether America should seek to reverse this trend. Those who view our society as a group of self-seeking individuals for whom government’s major purpose is to protect their property and ensure their freedom of contract would probably say no. Those who view us as a national community of with responsibilities to promote the well-being of one another would likely say yes. Is the well-being of our society the sum of our individual goods, or is there a common good that must be addressed? The answer will shape the American economy and society of the twenty-first century.

To me, it's as simple as that. If we aren't willing to use our government to counteract the inequalities our current economic system is creating... we are simply IMMORAL. Note, I make this call in the context of our given wealth. In 1787, providing this base common good for the needy would often have required taking away base common good from someone else... and that is obviously immoral. However, when one continues to provide individual iviolate private property islands no matter the realities of current inequities... there principles just server principles... and not people in need. Obviously that works for some... it will never work for me. At a very basic level, if your family has more than it needs to eat, has shelter, etc., and the family next to you does not, then you just inherited a collective obligation. We carry that inviolate individual property right clear past lake homes, private jets, family dynasty inherited wealth, yada yada yada. I'm suppose to accept the idea that individual massive wealth accumulation sharing a society with 40 million without healthcare is as it's suppose to be... our definition of life driven by our constitution. Sorry... if that's what it takes to be an accepted American capitalist, I would rather live life as an outcast. The truth is, however... being for universal healthcare isn't the same as communism... no matter how many times the knuckledraggers say it.

So read Reich's testimony and consider the current plans to do away with the estate tax in the face of the poverty we just saw in New Orleans. We are great at keeping those kind of realities in our blind spot... pretending that the ugly truth doesn't exist. If one believes passed on family wealth is more important than tending to our poor... then you and I are never, ever going to be much alike on this planet. I also extend this to Yoshi's passion of foreign aid. If one can sleep well at night in their second home without a care in the world... about the world... we are never going to be alike. I no longer accept our traditions of our sense of entitlement. I think we have had it wrong for a very long time. I wouldn't give you jack squat for RR right values that seem to be front and center with this Christian nation. Here's a real value... nobody gets a second home until everyone has equal healthcare and education. Crazy ... communist... Marxist... whatever... I call it morality. Fate could have worked in that direction... that could have been human nature.

Yeah... I know. I have it all wrong. O'Reilly is right when he says our economy is dependent on folks like him getting massive tax breaks. What was I thinking.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

If your child has cancer, you might be able to get one (assuming you've no other way to pay).

Here's a wild idea. Since cancer is totally random, and not remotely tied to personal responsibility... why not a society where all cancers are automatically covered by the federal cancer fund. What a strange society we are. We actually have to argue about ... old age insurance/social security, healthcare for our elderly, healthcare for our poor, family protection from bankruptcy through not fault of their own, correcting economic system shortcomings with progressive taxation, yada yada yada. People actually go as far as to bad mouth common sense backup plans. They call pooling common sense common good needs through our government as being dependent on a nanny state. That makes as much sense as being dependent on State Farm because you purchased home or car insurance.

You see... Tony's Curmudgeondom can't touch mine. It would be easier on me in a way if the knuckledraggers could become 75% rather than 51%. It's like a big tease right now. You hear a lot about states rights, but I don't think that really gets at the heart of our problem. Reps and Dems are really becoming completely different people... sharing very little other than our military. Maybe we will figure out ways to segregate by political party in conducting our lives. Maybe Rep stores, and Dem stores? Maybe we can build an ala carte government where Dems can pay in extra taxes for their government backup plan, and the Reps can keep all their cash and take on cancer and national disasters on their own.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Too stupid for democracy... maybe need to revisit that king thing.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Rove in charge of New Orleans... Fran Townsend in charge of reviewing herself.

Pawaaaaaaa!!! How efficient. We can now get rid of our local police. When we speed, we can just go fill out the ticket on the internet and send in our checks. Pawaaaaa!!!!

5:08 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good, I'm going to MS Word a good, thorough explanation and paste it... give a day or so to work on it...

5:17 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,: “My aunt recently had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. The doctor cut her a significant price break because her insurance from work wouldn't cover it all.

Imagine that. Within the free enterprise system, price varied with ability to pay. Why do you suppose? Do you think the doctor didn’t want to loose a sale and made money anyway? I think so. Doctors can charge large sums because people don’t generally pay for medical costs. Insurance companies and governments generally do. Remove both, like in your aunt’s case, and wala! Lower medical costs. “Affordable health care.” Mandating a deep pocket (Gov. or Ins. or a concoction of both) covering every medical expense will guarantee skyrocketing medical costs and a bankrupt system. But hey, what does logic, tried and true economic laws, and your family’s personal experience got to do with anything.

Prof. Ricardo

6:27 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Hey, 40+ million without healthcare coverage... but BY GOD it's an efficient cost effective system. Newsflash #1: Any society that excludes it's poor from healthcare will have an efficient system. Newflash #2: A moral society measures it's healthcare system by the number it excludes, rather than best profit margin. Newsflash #3: We spend $ 400 billion a year on the military. Do you really want to make the case bringing in the uninsured will bankrupt us?

When Yoshi tries to make his case with his MS economic document, he will be referred to Newsflash #1-#3.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Anyone following this H5N1 Bird Flu stuff. Holy sh*t. Our government only has around 1.5 million doses of Tamiflu... the actual vaccine is a ways off. Some predict 1.5-2 million deaths in the US if it hit this winter. Supposedly London is quietly looking for extra morgue space. Yippee.... the constant stream of good news just keeps on rolling in. If the flu hits, it would be more efficient if it hit the have-nots. Two birds with one stone.. { you had to see that one coming }

9:18 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common: “Newsflash #1: Any society that excludes it's poor from healthcare will have an efficient system.

Exclude - v.t., 1. To thrust out, 2. To hinder from entering or admission; to shut out, 3. To debar; to hinder from participation.

Our society does not “exclude” poor from receiving healthcare. Apparently, access or “exclusivity” in your opinion is determined by the presence of medical insurance - one of the things that I attribute the “problem” of the high cost and “exclusivity” of premium healthcare.

Healthcare, I would assume, is the care received for one’s health. Applying a Band-Aid is healthcare. So are heart transplants and everything in between. Are you saying that 40,000,000 people do not have access to band-aids? Or incrementally the next level? Or the next?

I bet I have less “healthcare” than you do based upon your definition. But I have sufficient healthcare based upon needs. We will never have the same healthcare because we will never have exactly the same needs. But you weren’t talking about healthcare. You were talking about health insurance. The liberal nomenclature to evoke an emotional response demands that the word “healthcare” be used in your arguments, even though it is inaccurate in describing what you are trying to describe - the ability to pay for healthcare.

If ability to pay is determined based upon the presence of third party deep pockets such as government and insurance, then, although misleading, your 40,000,000 w/o healthcare is “correct.” As I have argued with you in the past, and linked to a site showing that the 40 million figure is persons over a year that have been without, usually because of moving from one job to another, the actualy continuously UNINSURED populace is somewhere around 25 million, OR less than 10% of our population. However, if we define those who seek essential medical care and do not receive it, that is a much, much smaller figure. EVEN illegal aliens that are uninsured, swarm here by the millions and are treated, taught, employed, and benefitted by our “efficient system.” IF NOT, why then do these rational people leave the socialist utopian paradise of Mexico for the free enterprise Hell hole of America at their own peril? Absolutely ludicrous. But thanks for playing. Next?

Newflash #2: A moral society measures it's healthcare system by the number it excludes, rather than best profit margin.

Says who? You? Bwwaaaaahaahaa! You have yet to corral a rational thought on the topic (nothing personal :). A moral society is one that does not condone immoral acts. Last I read, you are for sodomy, abortion, and punitive/confiscatory level taxation to teach those bad wealthy people to not be so greedy in accumulating wealth, but should be frivolous and live for the moment. You are for society to be governed by the majority exclusive of any religious value judgments (your broadly defined theocracy-phobia) and mostly contrary to known widely accepted value judgements. BTW, it is profit margin that secures healthcare. Johnson & Johnson wants you to use their products. Sure they wish you good health, but it is their profit margin that drives them day after day to provide you the goods. It is your Mercedes-Benz driving doctor that has the profit margin to render healthcare - He has the incentive. Your non-commissioned based bureaucrats world wide have destroyed healthcare worldwide in the name of bringing it to the poor. Regardless of the collective goals, they individually have no incentive to provide "healthcare".

Newsflash #3: We spend $ 400 billion a year on the military. Do you really want to make the case bringing in the uninsured will bankrupt us?

Neither would giving me $10 billion just for grins. However, is that good stewardship over the funds and is it permitted in the governing instrument of the government? And what does spending, or overspending, in one area of the budget have to do with the correctness in spending in the other areas. Well Mommy, Timmy did it too! Good grief Charlie Brown.

Prof. Ricardo

9:53 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"It is your Mercedes-Benz driving doctor that has the profit margin to render healthcare - He has the incentive."

C.G.-this is where the Lexus analogy makes sense. The government buys all the lexuses on the market. They now get to leverage the price. The price is now say, 10,000, for a lexus. Everyone gets one. Guess what?

Toyota will stop making them. They'll leave the market.

The same goes for pharmacuetical companies and doctors. They don't have easy jobs, and it is certainly not worth it if they aren't getting paid well. They'll leave the business (like many did in these other countries you are mentioning.) And in those countries, Research and Development doesn't happen, instead, it happens in the United States, where the money is to be made. If we didn't have our high drug prices here, those other countries wouldn't have any drugs to give out cheaply. (Just like if everyone pirated movies, Hollywood would stop making them).

That's just basic common knowledge about business. People take risks, and want a return on that. Otherwise, why take the risk?

10:33 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:56 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Now, we can narrow this down though.

MAYBE, maybe Common Good is instead implying that the market still dictates the prices in the medicine field, and so the government still pays whatever the price is, so that doctors and drug companies still get to make their money... then we'd still have the high quality I suppose.

-that would be the only way it could work. Basically, we'd be saying everyone has a blank check to go to the doctor. Everyone. We'll just tax ourselves more to pay for it, so the net reduction in the cost of maintainig health is exactly ZERO (actually it would increase, since we'd consume more and have to pay bureaucracies to administer it). We woudn't pay for medical in person, but we pay it instead to the IRS, and they to the federal agency, and so-on, and maybe 50% of that would actually get to the doctors. It would make a lot more sense just to give poor people a tax credit to buy their own medical insurance with. The less you make, the bigger your credit would be). Then at least we could save money by cutting out all the self-important middle-men. And people certainly need fair premiums (fair doesn't mean "artificially low.")


If we did go with the blank check idea though.... of course, the price of visiting a doctor will certainly rise in real terms, since the demand will shoot through the roof faster than supply can keep up. We will overconsume anything we don't pay for. (And so national expenditure on health-care will explode.) I already know what I'm getting: a retainer for me teeth ($1500), and maybe a teeth whitening too ($600). And I do have a few moles I could have removed.)

I'm not against the idea of getting stuff for free. Lord knows I will take it. The problem is though, nothing is free. Somehow, it is getting FULLY paid for by someone, or it's not getting done the quality way it was supposed to be done.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Our society does not “exclude” poor from receiving healthcare.

Some are treated in the most inefficient expensive manner possible (emergency centers), and some are excluded. You really need to get out more.

The liberal nomenclature to evoke an emotional response demands that the word “healthcare” be used in your arguments, even though it is inaccurate in describing what you are trying to describe - the ability to pay for healthcare.

Did you think you had a point in there some where. Whatever use of the English language works for you... the ability for the daddy and mommy to pay for Johnny's trip to the doctor works for me.

If ability to pay is determined based upon the presence of third party deep pockets such as government and insurance, then, although misleading, your 40,000,000 w/o healthcare is “correct.”

Obi-wan of excluding the poor from healtcare... please explain to me how the moral equation changes whether the excluded number is 40 million, 25 million, 10% or 1 poor sucker excluded. I can't wait to hear how you arrive at a acceptable moral percentage cutoff. This should be good.

You have yet to corral a rational thought on the topic.

Rational thought: Refuse to accept the blatherings of those in our society that make up excuses and defenses for refusing healthcare to those who can't pay. Second rational thought: make fun of those who think funneling poor folks to the emergency centers is good economics. Pawaaaaa... those books are doing you much good.

IF NOT, why then do these rational people leave the socialist utopian paradise of Mexico for the free enterprise Hell hole of America at their own peril?

Prof, are you really stupid, or just playing one on the message board? :) Jeeze... this requires another newsflash. What am I up to... I think 4. Newsflash #4: When one views the conservative views of our nation as a Hell hole... and perpetuator (sp??) of bigger holes... one is not defining America as a Hell hole. We are defining the views of the conservatives as a hell hole. Conservative is not equal with America... it just is right now, and only at around 51%. Yeah... I know, a mandate.

A moral society is one that does not condone immoral acts.

Not really... a moral society is one that takes care of it's poor and most needy. That didn't have to be through government... it just ended up needing to be government in the US in 2005 due to economic system complexity and inequities. A democracy isn't in the business of condoning acts... other than acts that rise to the level of requiring laws. We can argue about what rises to the level of requiring laws, but I would suggest to you that the orifice of choice of your next door neighbor is none of your business. Opinions vary.

Last I read, you are for sodomy, abortion, and punitive/confiscatory level taxation to teach those bad wealthy people to not be so greedy in accumulating wealth, but should be frivolous and live for the moment.

Not in favor of sodomy. Also not in favor of anyone making laws about it... other than I really don't want to see it happening at the restaurants.

I don't exactly root for abortions. That doesn't lead me to the conclusion that a fetus has equal rights with the mother, or that anyone else on the planet other than the mother has a say in her pregnancy.

I didn't understand your frivilous and live for the moment. The wealthy aren't the only one's in the country who need to back off the current accepted norms of our sense of entitlement. However, in the meantime... while we continue not to see this truth... we have to tap the hockey out of that top 2% for tax revenue needs. We have an economic Katrina providing mind blowing TRICKLE UP to the bank accounts of the top 2%. Good luck making the argument that that is as it should me... a moral result of a moral economic system. Actually, you don't need much luck. It has been indocrinated into us as children. It's hard to decide which has been the most effective US child indocrination campaign... religious superstition or economic entitlement. Here is a question: who thinks CG is unamerican because he doesn't believe in our current norms of entitlement and doesn't believe religious superstition has to be shared with others in order to run our pluralistic government? Don't hold back... I will feel very American regardless of the response.

You are for society to be governed by the majority exclusive of any religious value judgments (your broadly defined theocracy-phobia) and mostly contrary to known widely accepted value judgements.

Well... first, I agree totally with Tony that you first have to make the distinction between fundamental rights and others when factoring in majority wishes. Slavery, Indian slaughter, denying women the right to vote, unequal rights for gays, excluding poor from healthcare in our wealthy 2005 economy, bringing a deity to the government table when defining pluralistic government common good, unequal levels of public education for the nation's children built around an obnoxious neighborhood property tax scheme, allowing Sean Hannity to continue access to oxygen... yada yada yada... should not be sensitive to the majority { mass stupids or not }. What new things to add to the common good list... what should be tax rates.... yada yada yada... yep, majority.

BTW, it is profit margin that secures healthcare.

I'm not interested as treating common good requirements in the same bucket as discretionary widgets (i.e. Lexus). I have a choice whether or not to drive a Lexus (I don't recommend that, btw... the car's are awsome, but every repair bill can represent a very bad experience :(. I have a choice whether or not to drive a Lexus. I have no choice when life depends on a trip to the doctor, and I have no choice about filling the car up with gasoline. To throw all widgets into the same capitalism equation further proves the waste of those economic books you have been reading. Seems like a bit of deuling gods to me... the Christian god and the Economic laissez-faire god. Prof, you know you just can't hug capitalism... but you can hug a poor dad and say... sir, please take my spot in line at the doctor. Your kid is sick... I'm just here for Viagra to improve my alternative orifice lifestyle.

And what does spending, or overspending, in one area of the budget have to do with the correctness in spending in the other areas.

Lexus sales can be max profit motive. Universal Healthcare can be required common good profit motive. We need to be able to push the all widgets are equal crowd out of the way, and make the difficult choices societies have to make through their goverment concerning economic systems. We are wealthy enough to spend $400 billion a year on the military with zilch auditing and oversight. The universal healthcare argument ceases to be an argument about feasibility. The argument is simply one of whether or not the have's are willing to sacrifice ANYTHING to bring the have-nots in. So far, the answer is up yours have-nots... either god intended you to be without, or else you are an irresponsible person and don't deserve it. Or... economics demand that we exclude you have-nots from healthcare. Damn those economics.

Keep trying guys... you will never make this smell ok.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

MAYBE, maybe Common Good is instead implying that the market still dictates the prices in the medicine field, and so the government still pays whatever the price is, so that doctors and drug companies still get to make their money... then we'd still have the high quality I suppose.

It's a pretty common practice for those arguing against universal healthcare to jump to the charges of not understanding profit motives or capitalism. I do not agree that our society should treat Lexus and healthcare products as equal widgets... i.e. I think we have vote in saying no to the $20 million a year HMO CEO... that's just my Commie side I guess. That said... you just repeated my base position I come back to regarding universal healthcare to make my point this is simply about US deciding if we will cover the have-nots... OR NOT. The simple I'm to poor to pay the doctor voucher is exactly the point. I don't see the blank check point as valid under such a voucher scheme. We have all of the information we need to price voucher spending per medical need. The average heart bypass procedure costs $x. If you really were concerned, you could price everything at 75% of $x... and let the voucher recipient search out a doctor that would take the 75%. I think that's wrong... you are back into the morality of different quality of healthcare needs based on ecnomic class... but it would satisfy the Prof's of the world to some degree. Unless I'm missing something... the healthcare market demands remain the same with the added customer base. If anything, medical research ramps up because there is a bigger customer base. I'm sure Prof will come up with some reason why this wouldn't be so. He is consistent, if not logical. :) So now we are down to a simple moral choice where we can't invoke market demands as an excuse of excluding the poor. Now it simply becomes a moral choice of paying for required voucher needs through tax collection.

Note: I'm not saying the voucher system is the best idea. That is way, way above my pay grade. It does focus the discussion, however... and leave the the economy sky will fall arguments a bit wanting. When one is divorced from the ability to use our healthcare system will collapse argument, they have to make the argument on the basis of why they still refuse to cover the poor. I wouldn't wish that position on anyone with a conscience, because eventually, they will lose that argument with themselves.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I'm not against the idea of getting stuff for free.

I'm not for universal mole removal... but I'm for universal cancer screening of moles, and then covering the expense of removing it when it is cancerous for the voucher guy. The health insurance industry seems to have already categorized many things as "elective", and that should provide a starting point or template. That said, it's pretty obvious any voucher-type scheme would require definition and auditing functions from our government. Prof will be jumping in with both feet here... but I remind him we figured out how to fly to the moon. Surely we can manage a healthcare common good non-elective list... surely.

So to review... heart transplant for little Johnny... COVERED. Non-cancerous mole removal of Yoshi to help with the ladies... NOT COVERED. Now... if Yoshi can make the case the mole is hideous enough to effect his employment... we can talk. :)

12:00 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

In case you missed one of my prior posts... Mitt Romney said they have started something similar to the voucher scheme. Instead of serving the non-insured public through the emergency centers, they issued all of the uninsured health insurance cards. They were still obviously not paying, but Romney claimed bringing them INTO the existing system saved them 2/3 of the costs of covering this through the emergency centers. Now... obviously Romney is a politician ramping up to run for president... but it's a GOP candidate saying this. I think the dynamic that is going to bring this to a head is American business owners are starting to squawk about the costs of providing healthcare coverage to employees. Healthcare should have never been tied to employment... it should be tied to the individual regardless of employment and employment status. COBRA isn't the answer either, because those rates go straight to outrageous in short order. Bottom line... if I was one of those $20 million a year HMO CEO's... I would be getting all I can now, because even the GOP is going to turn a little socialist on this issue.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,

Obi-wan of excluding the poor from healtcare... please explain to me how the moral equation changes whether the excluded number is 40 million, 25 million, 10% or 1 poor sucker excluded. I can't wait to hear how you arrive at a acceptable moral percentage cutoff. This should be good.

It’s frustrating. Not only are we not on the same field, you’re playing golf and I’m fishing. So when I mention “hook,” you think you know what I said. That’s the reason I have asked you I don’t know how many times to define poor, to define your terms.

When I talk about economic laws, I am not talking about those economic conditions that I necessarily wish to exist, but those that do exist and that help to explain what has happened and predict what will happen. Case in point:

Given the current topic, let us take a doctor and a Lexus up in a plane. About 13,000 feet will do. Both are useful and at any particular time we might desire one over the other. Now let’s thrust both of them out the back of the plane. What happens? Given the LAW of gravity both will begin to fall. Do we want them to fall? Regardless of what we want, both the vehicle and the person will both react to the LAW of gravity. We can not say: “We’ll let (capitalist) gravity affect the car, but the healthcare provider is needed for the common good so we don’t want the LAW of gravity to act upon it.”

Economic laws can not be broken. In my business I bill according to what I think people (the market) will bear given the service provided. I do not take this lightly. I often adjust my fee (down) based upon what I assume the client can afford. If you were to walk in my office and say, “I have the full backing of the US government to cover any charges I run up,” how much adjusting down would I do? How about adjusting upwards? If what I am doing is soooo valuable that the government has taken upon itself to subsidize it, I could easily rationalize myself as being worth 2-10 times my current value. That will be the destruction of healthcare. The government’s answer to that is to control costs and make it mandatory. That has happened in other countries. That is the reason there are so many Canadian doctors in Florida in the winter. They earn what they are allowed to by government law, then they go to their winter home abandoning their medical practice because further work does not increase their wages (those greedy devils). Who do you think supplies medical care while the doctors are on vacation?

Newsflash #4: When one views the conservative views of our nation as a Hell hole... and perpetuator (sp??) of bigger holes... one is not defining America as a Hell hole.

There we go again. Not even on the same topic. I was relating, not conservative America, but America as it exists WHATEVER IT IS as apparently more desirable for people to flock to, ie illegal and legal aliens, over their more socialist (ie., we take care of the poor...) homelands.

Conservative is not equal with America...

If we go back to the point that I was making, are you saying the immigrants came here for our conservativism? :-)

I said: “A moral society is one that does not condone immoral acts.”

C.G.: “Not really...”

I must admit, to my own embarrassment I burst out laughing. I almost had to clean my office chair. Almost.

a moral society is one that takes care of it's poor and most needy.
...by killing wealthy white men and selling their meat to soap factories. But wait! That sounds absurd. I guess it DOES matter how one goes about this doesn’t it? Should we commit immoral acts to attain moral objectives? Should we introduce a method of guaranteeing “healthcare” (excuse me, the ability for the daddy and mommy to pay for Johnny's trip to the doctor) that requires us to abandon known economic laws to achieve success?

I’ll address other issues momentarily.

Prof. Ricardo

1:55 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good,

I didn't understand your frivolous and live for the moment.

I have tried to get you to define “poor” or what a “fair” rate of taxation for a certain level of income/wealth are. The more precise the definition, the greater I can slaughter your arguments, er, I mean understand your point of view. :-)

A common characteristic of wealthy people is that they save money by spending LESS than they make. A common characteristic of poor people is that they spend more money than they make. There are actually high income individuals who have little to show for all the money they have made. They have been “frivolous and live for the moment.” I have been unable to wrestle from you whether the evil rich man consists purely of high income, purely of accumulated wealth, or some combination of both. In previous blog topics you lamented the existence of vacation homes, and other extravagances. This makes me think that wealth accumulation, ie spending less than one makes, is “bad” to you, and must be taxed. Thus, a burdensome, yet enlightening, explanation of why I used the phrase “frivolous and live for the moment.”

The wealthy aren't the only one's in the country who need to back off the current accepted norms of our sense of entitlement.

Outrageous! Do you think you and your wife are entitled to your own paychecks? That paycheck is the other half of a contract. You worked. They paid. Get it? Wealthy people might work harder, but their reward is generally for innovation, knowledge, and the risk to bring their product or service to the people. Their sense of entitlement is one in which a person has fulfilled his portion of a contract and is ENTITLED to having the other person fulfill their end by paying.

The “entitlement mentality” whereby merely by being a certain race, gender, or economic status, other people owe you is the entitlement mentality everybody believes is so repugnant and harmful.

We have an economic Katrina providing mind blowing TRICKLE UP to the bank accounts of the top 2%. Good luck making the argument that that is as it should me... a moral result of a moral economic system.

How did that money go up stream? People just mailed ‘em checks? Did the government mandate it? Or did each person, maybe multiple times a day, trade his currency, his labor, for some good or service. And if you thought you were better off without the good or service, why did you trade? If you are better off with the trade, why the jealousy? Does it make you feel better knowing the gas station that just sold you $2.75/gal. fuel paid $2.81/gallon (his cost) and is having a loss, rather than $2.59/gal. ? What does it matter to you if he made a profit or a loss? What does it matter to you if he saved his profits (wealth accumulation) or wasted it gambling? Is “trickle up” the theory that if people purchase your goods, you actually get paid for them (unlike N.O.) Or is it where you did get paid, but rather than being “frivolous and live for the moment,” you invested your money wisely for the future and became the 2%? Is this a punishable offense?

Prof. Ricardo

2:14 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony is always conspicuously absent when C.G. and I go at it. I feel not unlike a contestant in a Roman coliseum. Where did that lion come from? Nice kitty, ni...aaaaaghghh......

Prof. Ricardo

2:25 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Did not mean to be absent. I do like to just sit back and read at times. I think the two of you have fleshed it out well.

But I view the both of you as extreme endpoints. Rest here in what TexaCon calls the creamy center. Universal Healthcare in the sense of just automagically you have unlimited access will never work. This is illustrated by the problems we have to day with the wide spread availability of first dollar coverage. OK…first dollar isn’t so common, but the deductibles and co-pays are really low for to many people.

This does not however mean that I do not want to cover people for their needs. And I side with CG on the notion that relying on private generosity is inefficient. I tend more toward programs where the government pays a premium to a private insurer. I realize that makes neither extreme happy, but I don’t believe in abandoning the market any more than I believe in just letting run impeded in every respect.

There...I threw the Lion a little raw meat.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

We are not of the same species. I think your species was probably best suited for survival at our country's founding. Only the strong survived, and the threat from the weak or the poor was minimal. I would say the advent WMD changed that equation. Now a disgruntled few, regardless of being right or wrong, can effect the lives of millions... even millions with the exact right protect the rich principles. Post WMD... my species seems to have the best chance of survival. My species will focus on the poor, and figure the rich can take care of themselves... they always have. We may or may not be able to dent the numbers of the disgruntled... but it fairly obvious your species will throw gasoline on the flames out of principle. It's time for the species that walks upright and tends to the poor and needy as a priority to keep this survival thing going. It would be much better if the wealthy did this on their own, but that has never happened in the history of man. It's probably too late... you guys should have left the baton passed... instead, you had a conservative revival. Silly, silly species.

I like you Prof... I would let you come indoors and eat people food. :)

I wish I had graphical artist talents. I would draw one frame titled trickle down. In the picture, a fire truck hose would be watering a couple of giant trees. Surrounding the couple of giant trees would be several pathetic looking little trees, and many dead saplings.

Then I would have a second frame. It would be called trickle up. The fire truck would be hosing down ALL trees. None of the trees would be as tall as the two huge trees from frame one, and none of the trees would be dead from lack of water. The average tree height would be probably around 50% of the height of the two huge trees from frame one.

Maybe not that funny.. try this one. Tony has heard this before and didn't see the humor.

I rich guy in a tux is standing at the top of a hill overlooking a town of obvious poverty. The rich guy is standing next to his helicopter peeing over the side of the hill sprinkling the town huts with a constant stream. Caption: trickle down.

I'll keep working on it. Maybe it's a could thing I can't draw. :)

Prof sees the following and sees immaculate economic social justice and absolute truth. Others see some shit about to hit the fan.

Just how unequal are we, anyway

Inequality makes the mainstream

3:34 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Universal Healthcare in the sense of just automagically you have unlimited access will never work.

What does that mean? I agree I wouldn't pay to have Yoshi's mole frozen/cut off... unless it was really hideous. Sounds like you aren't splitting the difference as much as you would like. Sounds like you are with your bud CG. Glad to hear it.

And I side with CG on the notion that relying on private generosity is inefficient.

I should probably just take whatever I can't get around here, because god { if he exists } knows it isn't a regular occurence. Still... I have to make a correction. I suspect much private charity is efficient... and so what... it's inadequate. I would also make the distinction that I would not be one to call providing the working poor healthcare as charity and therefore the word generousity really doesn't apply. A collective obligation is not charity or generousity... it's doing what we should do as humans in a wealthy society. We certainly don't need a pat on the backs.

Oops... there goes the minimal and brief support I had.

btw... I'm absolutely loving listening to all of these conservatives make the case it's time for cutting tons of government spending and no time to reject the estate tax or roll back the tax break for the wealthy. They probably don't realize it, but at the end of that argument they have to actually name the stuff they are going to cut. It's easy for the GOP to claim they are the party of small government because the public is too busy to call them on it. However, Katrina and New Orleans isn't Iraq. Even the busy public is going to be well aware of what the leaders choose this time. The conservatives are pushing themselves into actually naming the shrinking of government choices they give such lip service to.... while making the case that eliminating the estate tax will boost our economy. Man... I'm need to stock up on more popcorn.

Hey Yoshi... here is an economic challenge for you. Ask your economic professor what he thinks is the answer. The question is... as I have asked before: what is the optimimum government revenue tax rate G-Spot?. The GOP tells us over and over lower tax rates mean higher tax revenue. I'm thinking there is a limit to that great wisdom... for example 0% tax rate can't lead to the max government revenue. So somewhere between 0% and what we have now must be the actual tax G-Spot. It would seem fair ask these guys what's the optimum tax G-Spot sense they seem informed enough to come to the conclusion lower from here is better. Well... how much lower. Why mess around... let's just shoot to the tax G-Spot. Same with capital gains taxes and income taxes... probably two different G-Spots.

Bush's first Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was asked once about tax breaks stimulating the economy. He made one of those career limiting statements: I've never met any serious business folks that made significant business decisions based on tax rates. It's make you wonder. If I'm a guy with a decent business idea, where does the tax rate change the equation where I would take a shot at it or not? 25%, 35%, 45%, 50%... ?? Probably wouldn't change the equation much for me. But what about a loan, and the folks providing capital? Well, if it's a company only providing capital to US/domestic projects, the game is what the game is... don't think the capital gains tax is near the factor that the GOP professes. What about global capital providers... those who operate across countries. Well, it would seem logical money would flow (including US stock buyers) to environments that seemed/appeared to be more favorable... but I question the risk the American market could ever have funding american business startup risk taking. It would seem the bigger factors there are cycles... like the internet bubble bursting, as opposed to marginal differences in captital gains tax rates. I don't buy much of the GOP bs... it's just invented talking points that work on the public.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Hey, did you hear Shrub has his Mission Accomplished flight suit out and ready. The plan is for Shrub to swoop into Galveston on a Black Hawk and save a baby. That sounds risky, but not really... they have 5 babies strategically placed. Turns out the babies come from GOP donors called Ranger Elites.

-- The Daily Show

4:36 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

I wish George Bush would stop sending these hurricanes to make his wealthy oil buddies even wealthier. What a jerk!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

Pretty ironic that nature can put the spotlight on a faulty ideology isn't it? I love irony.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G. “The question is... as I have asked before: what is the optimum government revenue tax rate G-Spot?

Good question. Let me cloud the issue for you. :-)

First, you didn’t ask what it does to business. Obviously, there is a reduction in what business/people get to keep when the first dollar of tax is taken. So overall there is an inverse relationship. If you make $100 and the government takes “X”, then by definition you are left with $100 - X. I felt in this case the obvious needed to be stated.

Second, and you may not have thought of this, taxation may be either monetary or non monetary. Red tape, government reports, regulations, standards, licensing, etc. all costs business time and money. My job exists mostly because of government regulation and the burden it places on business - and I only handle a very small part of their government burden. We will revisit this point shortly.

Third, there are too many factors/variables to develop a mathematical model to use, but I’ll make one up for you anyway (this is fun).

(Income earned x (1-disincentive rate)) - (Income earned x tax rate) = after tax personal income.

Income earned - after tax personal income - Income not earned from loss of incentive = tax revenue generated.

Remember the case I gave you where the semi-retired Wal-Mart worker was taxed over 50%. That marginal tax rate might keep that person from actually working any more. Similarly, extra burdens on business for human resources, unemployment taxes, workmans comp ins., human resource issues, health insurance and benefits costs, etc, might prohibit a business from hiring another person and deriving income from that new employees work.

It seems to me that it is the overall burden of external requirements from either the Federal, state, and local governments, whether tax or regulatory, that determine the level of disincentive. Therefore, it is possible that in a low or non-regulatory economy you could have a high overall rate of taxation, say 40% and receive peak revenue. But as states seek more, and regulatory burdens increase, that portion that the federal government takes must go down to keep the disincentive low and the revenues in the sweet spot. Given the high level of regulatory burden, and states and local governments struggling to tax the snot out over every breathing creature to pay for schools, county and city services, local social welfare expenditures, this leaves less room for the federal government to tax before the disincentive exists.

As a person or business, you may say I’ll work an extra hour or sell an extra widget if I get to keep 50% of my efforts. But if regulation takes 10% of your efforts, and local and state governments take 8 % of your efforts, that only leaves 32% taxation or your efforts before you throw up your hands and walk away. From that 32% you subtract 15.3% for social security and medicare, and BAM, you are left with 16.7% tax rate. The individual does not care to whom the burden must be paid for disincentive. He only knows that at a certain level he will not participate any further. And for each person that point is different. And at each income level that same person may have a different idea. If I had the chance to earn a ten million dollars with a 90% tax rate, I would do it since it is so far above what I could do elsewhere. Whereas, if I were a highly paid actor/sports star, that extra million might not be worth the extra ten million dollars worth of effort.

I hope this helps. Your argument might be less with the conservatives than it should be with higher taxing local and state governments and the encroaching regulations. They are the ones cutting into your sweet spot of Federal revenue. I think Forbes has it: a $25,000/$50,000 exemption for singles/married’s and a 17% flat tax rate thereafter. Add in the FICA 15.3%. I don’t know what Forbes has to say about this, but if we implement his setup, till we privatize a portion of Social Security to save the program, tax wages to $200K-$500K for SS. The overall tax rate would be 32.3% for the federal part of their burden.

Prof. Ricardo

9:32 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

I think the word irony is overused and misunderstood. Maybe you'll agree.

This administration is in a no-win situation. The government's response will now be better than Katrina, and it would have been even if Rita was headed towards Atlanta or Philadelphia. Either way, it will still be criticized by those planting the seeds of discontent. I can hear it now "Well, of course, he cares about Texas, he lives there." Sad and tired.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear a couple of Senators from opposite sides have even 1/10th the level of tax policy debate (in public) that you just expressed. A most excellent post, but you know, I have a few observations.

If I had the chance to earn a ten million dollars with a 90% tax rate, I would do it since it is so far above what I could do elsewhere. Whereas, if I were a highly paid actor/sports star, that extra million might not be worth the extra ten million dollars worth of effort.

A heavily weighted component of your equation, and many conservative arguments (although not expressed nearly as well as you just did) is what you called disincentive. IMO, with absolutley no quantitive way to support it, I believe the disincentive concern is way over-hyped. The quote of Paul O'Neill was an example. Paul O'Neill, an ex-CEO with ample business knowledge, bascially expressed that business investment decisions by entrepreneurs are seldom is influenced by tax rates/policy. That would be my guess. Also, I'm not at all convinced that folks who have earned enough... stepping aside because of tax policy is a BAD thing. I got the same argument from my oil baron buddy who could buy South Tulsa. If the Dems tax him too much, he may just leave the country. Buried in that statement is the personal belief by my buddy that his leaving would hurt our economy. I don't think I buy that. His leaving would be a very bad thing for personal reasons... relationships, keeping good people in the country, yada yada yada. That said, I don't think I buy the I am not replaceable and I'm so valuable to this economy position. We have 280 million people. Who out there thinks that we can find one to match their individual talents and economic business running gifts to our economy. In fact, from an economic basis, I would say we could see major upside to those who have enough being replaced by those who need to get enough. The newly wealthy need to buy stuff... the been wealthy for a long time already have everything they need. I guess I also don't buy that there is an infinite number of new pies to be grown in our economy. I think an economy can only support so much pie growing... and the distribution of pie size happens within that limit. I'm sure we often fall short of those limits, and that would be a valid argument... but I go back to an old argument I gave Tony over education: I don't think graduating 300% more lawyers creates the need for more lawyers. At some point we have enough lawyers regardless... boy is that an understatement. :)

I think it's obvious that one of the fundamental obligations of any government should be a constant striving for efficiency. However, once again I question the usual inefficiency arguments that are offered. For one, consider the costs related to government inefficiency, and the costs related to disagreement over what should be included in common good. You could only squeeze so much efficiency dollars out of current requirements, but you get a windfall if you get rid of safety-nets all together... like getting rid of social security. Also consider perhaps the biggest culprit... we don't even attempt to audit the $400 billion a year defense budget. I guess my point is I think it's obvious that we don't do as good a job as we should regarding government efficiencies and auditing... but I don't find that fact a good enough reason to change the definition of what should or should not be common good. Said another way... we will incur regulation and inefficiency costs in government to one degree or another. I would say the tax G-Spot is the tail of the dog, and not the dog.

Really good Prof post. Tony should archive it to the Curm Hall of Fame. :)

11:27 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC,

I can hear it now "Well, of course, he cares about Texas, he lives there." Sad and tired.

Sure Shrub just killed 20 puppies in the street with his bare hands.... but that's ok, he is a strong leader. Sad and tired.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

wow... I've heard stories this morning of it taking people over 6 hours to go 8 miles on the highways in Houston. Guys, they are heading your direction. So does our gas prices go up to $5 a gallon after Rita takes out 100+ oil rigs? Probably... it appears gas prices can be anything the industry wants it to be. Did anyone hear that genius O'Reilly is calling for a Sunday ban on driving to stick it to the oil companies.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

O’Really is a moron. You would think people would be starting to get a clue that supply has more to do with the price than any other factor. I’m not saying that there isn’t some gouging going on but there is a lot more to it than simple greed.

For instance, the governments continual unwillingness to plan for the inevitable supply problems. We have been so massively misguided by our leadership for decades that it is criminal.

11:42 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home