Promoting electoral reform and sound government.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Democrats Can Take Over

If they whack the Republicans over the separation of church and state.

If they whack the Republicans over Nixon dropping the gold standard and causing all that inflation worldwide. Honest money helps the poor and middle class more than those who have accountants and lawyers!

If they come up with a reasonable reparations plan for the slavery issue that is amenable to at least 50% of both African Americans and the rest of the population (it wasn't nothing!). Let's have a referendum. We can make it a combination of tax cuts and a tax credit so it would help both the poor and the middle class. It could be spread out over a number of years.

If they can finally see that lower taxes help the poor more than redistribution. The Democrats should propose a program that gets rid of the income tax for foster children, victims of child abuse, anything traumatic like that. At least for five years anyway.

The Democrats should propose that we lower the income tax rate by 1% a year until revenues from the tax go down for more than two years and then raise it until revenues go down so that we can find the optimum rate for growth and revenue. We should do this separately for the capital gains tax. Once we find the optimum rates, we should stick to them! And we should have a flat tax, with the first so many dollars exempt.

There is no reason for the right to own these economic issues. The debate over socialism is over and the debate should now be whether the government is going to tample your individual rights or not. Most people who vote Republican would switch in a minute if offered an alternative that embraced economic AND individual freedom.


Anonymous said...

I think the reparations proposal is not only unjust--how can it make sense to assign guilt to a person who had nothing to do with enslaving anybody and make him to pay reparations, merely because he is descended from a certain slaveholder?--but also unworkable.

FOr one thing, everybody would have to be paying reparations to everybody else. We don't imagine that slavery was invented in America, do we, or that Africans had no part in capturing and shipping other Africans to the U.S.? How many of these African enslavers have descendents now living in the U.S.? Will they have to pay up as well? What about the descendents of masters and slaves involved in European slavery? And why stop at slavery? I'm sure way back in my family's past some ancestor of mine was murdered by someone with a descendant alive today. Can I have my reparations in small, nonconsecutively marked bills?

If we think tax cuts are a good idea for independent reasons (and they are), we ought to advocate them for the good reasons and skip a rationale which, if taken seriously, would wreak havoc. It is true that dubious rationales are sometimes deployed to lend support to policies that might make sense just the same, but that kind of attempted suasion comes at a cost. The cost is that the bad ideas are given a currency that they would not otherwise have obtained. And that means they can have consequences other than the intended ones.

On the other issues, I somewhat agree. And yes, it would be wonderful if the Democrats suddenly made fiscal sense. Ditto for the Republicans, who in Congress at least are even more guilty than the Democrats of causing the current splurgefest.

Milton Friedman noted in a recent issue that the debate over socialism is indeed over, but only with respect to socialism as central planning. Most of us no longer fall prey to the idea that economies can be run by a few bureaucrats with a pocket computer, with no need for markets and pricing. But many still do believe in socialism understood more broadly or vaguely as massive wealth transfer.

Al Brown said...

No, slavery wasn't invented here. Neither was muder or theft. Is that relevant to a specific instance of a crime?

Sorry, I was a bit unclear. Everybody would not be paying reparations. I meant to refer to slavery permitted and protected by the US government.

I'm not in favor of wealth transfer.

But when people are held in captivity for their entire lives, some damage occurs to them. That could be even thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Sure, how much of that would filter down to people today is very murky.

But its not nothing.

Anonymous said...

I still don't quite follow, Alan. Is an implication of your argument that I'm guilty of crimes committed by my great-great-grandfather and must pay reparations? Or that anybody alive today is? Even in some tenuous, undetermined respect? Nobody in the present-day U.S. government is guilty of enslaving blacks either (though they're guilty of plenty of other heinous acts, committed today, for which they get off scot-free).

The time for compensating freed blacks was about 1866. I myself didn't enslave anybody. So what I owe to the descendants of slaves is only what I owe to everybody else: respect for their rights. Nor did anybody else alive today enslave anybody (except in the parts of the world where there is still some subterranean slave trade).

Restraining the application of a false principle because it would to even greater chaos if implemented consistently makes a certain kind of pragmatic sense, granting that one ought to go down that path at all (which I don't grant). But if you're right that making such reparations is morally valid, it is valid with respect to all sorts of "specific instances of crime" committed in the long-dead past for which no justice was done at the time. That was what I was trying to get at. Every kind of event in the past has murky and hard to detect ripple effects. But an actionable principle of justice and accountability doesn't rely on such murky, merely speculative, and multifariously indirect "liability." If I have violated somebody's rights today, either maliciously or through negligence, I may well be liable to an extent that I ought to compensate the victim. But in that case, objective evidence of my role can be presented. You have more of a case, not necessarily for actionable liability, but at least for returning some cash, if we're talking about a son who inherits embezzled cash, eventually tracked after the embezzler has died.

I also don't really accept the idea held by some that blacks today are that much impaired by the long-ago history of American slavery--not compared to present-day liberal do-goodism that makes it harder for every self-responsibile individual, including blacks, to profit and then retain the profit of the fruits of their labor. The works of Walter Williams (The State Against Blacks) and Thomas Sowell (Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality, and many others) are both worth consulting in this respect. They show that market forces tend to render prejudice impotent when they're allowed to flourish, and that because of this racists often resort government force to socially impose their prejudices. (Sowell in particular also shows the influence of cultural patterns on personal behavior, for example by comparison of the fates of different immigrant groups who may be of the same color but from different countries, or different regions of the same country.)

If we must have reparations, let's have reparations for affirmative action, minimum wage, punitive taxation and the like. Repealing them would make a nice start.

Al Brown said...

I'm not talking about individual liability. 1866 was probably the time to make amends. Should the US government have made payments then? If so, how much did it owe? And in 1867, how much did it still owe? 1868? 1968? Was it all magically gone by then? How does that work?

I don't have any personal liability for slavery. I don't have any for the interment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

But both groups suffered MASSIVE damage that persisted for years. I'm afraid the damage you've suffered because there is a minimum wage is not in the same class.

And yes, I do think we'd be better off without the mimimum wage and some of the other stuff you mentioned.

I proposed tax relief as the method of payment because I really don't think someone else paying lower taxes damages the rest of us. In fact a lot of people do it all the time.

Al Brown said...

Here's another case of the government apologizing for really old injustices permitted by the government.

Somebody should really make them stop doing this kind of thing!! After all, those people that did that thing are long gone and no good can come from trying to make peace with people.;_ylt=AmaZz0qMe_wlPAEzl5eFTnKs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

James Morgan - Puritan Financial Advisor said...

Let's have a referendum. We can make it a combination of tax cuts and a tax credit so it would help both the poor and the middle class. It could be spread out over a number of years.