Number Fifty-One

Tealiberasophoterianistic Perspectives

Radicalism: I’m a Radical, You’re a Radical

with 52 comments

By James Henry Tschannen

 

What makes someone a radical? Is it advocating for a single-payer health care system? Is it acknowledging that this country was formed through conquest, slavery, and genocide? Is it pointing out that the richest 1% in this country hold more wealth than the bottom 90%? In today’s political climate you might think that anyone who wants the government to address the issues of inequality, health care, or corruption in the financial industry is a radical. Traditionally, the term “radical” as a noun, in politics has referred to someone who seeks to bring down the political or economic system (or both) and replace them with something new. Politicians on the right have used the word “radical” (in its adjective form, meaning extreme or unusual) to paint mainstream progressives as revolutionaries.

 This phenomenon is not new. Abraham Lincoln’s stated policy on slavery was to leave it alone and keep it from expanding, but Southerners were convinced that he was as extreme an abolitionist as John Brown. Glenn Beck has been one of the loudest voices warning about the dangers of radicals. You still cannot watch Fox news for any length of time without being reminded of the so-called radicals, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and Van Jones, that President Obama has associated with. For all of his insane paranoia, Beck does grasp an important aspect of the relationship between radical leftists and mainstream liberal democratic politics. Both groups see similar problems in society, but they differ fundamentally on the solutions to those problems.

The most basic definition of the word “radical,” as it is used by both sides in today’s political discourse, is something that is fundamentally outside of what our country has been historically and what the majority of people agree on now. Conservatives have often called Obama the most liberal or radical president in history, just as they did to Clinton (who we can all agree now was a centrist). This is why conservatives love to portray our history in simplistic terms as that of a Christian nation, founded on free market principles and the rule of law. The truth is much more complicated and any serious student of history will know that there has been much more diversity of ideas from the founders through today than the historical revisionists would have you believe.

One of the ways in which we can judge, in a quantitative way, whether Obama is more liberal than his predecessors is tax policy. Obama has not raised taxes thus far, in fact he has cut them for most people. Also instructive is to actually see what tax policy was in the post WWII years in which America emerged as an economic powerhouse with a robust middle class. Our political leaders today insist that we are in a war that requires us to sacrifice our civil liberties and moral standing in the world and yet will not require any financial sacrifice. In 1945 the top marginal tax rate was set at 94%, a number that is in a completely different universe from our current discussions on tax policy. This extreme tax rate was not just a wartime anomaly. The top rate stayed at 91% until 1964, when it was lowered to 77%, still more than twice what it is now. Those twenty years when taxes for the rich were over 90% saw some of the most growth and industrialization in our nation’s history. This makes the idea that raising the top tax rate a few percentage points (which would basically solve our deficit problems) would stifle jobs and economic growth preposterous. Tax rates don’t have a direct correlation to economic growth, but they do have a very strong correlation to income inequality, with lower tax rates leading to more inequality. This graph shows both the top marginal tax rate and the share of income taken by the top .1% of Americans (people making over 1.1 million dollars in 2004).

There a host of other issues on which we could debate whether Obama is radical or mainstream, in terms of history and current popular opinion. I could also argue that radicalism is not always a bad thing. It was certainly radical for people to call for the federal government to intervene in the American South to end institutional racism. Civil Rights was probably the clearest case of “social engineering” by the federal government ever. I’m sure “radical” will continue to be used as a scare word in the media on both sides of the aisle (it was interesting to see Newt Gingrich’s campaign disintegrate after he called his party’s budget plan radical) but I wish we would discuss the real effects of policies and politicians, rather than just dismissing them as radical.

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Written by Jesse Phillips

June 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

52 Responses

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  1. James,

    I’m probably going to shock some people and agree with you on a few points:

    1. Clinton was relatively moderate: in comparison with Obama, Clinton moderated after the first few years, which was a key element in how we won re-election.

    2. I agree we use the term radical loosely: there are so many terms in today’s heated political discourse that both sides throw out without defining. I accept your definition of radical, in general.

    I have a few points of disagreement as you might imagine, but I’ll put those in separate posts.

    Jesse P.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    • For the record, “judicial activism” is another term that gets thrown out there by both sides without defining.

      Jesse P.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    • Also, another point I’ll agree with you on is that Obama’s perceived “radicalism” is not related to his tax policy. In most ways he has extended Bush’s policies.

      The concerns have to do with spending, not taxing.

      Jesse P.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

  2. The first issue I take with the post is the issue of taxes:

    Last year I did not pay one cent in taxes. The IRS cut me a $9,000 check. I guess it pays to have so many kids. My father in law, on the other hand, pays 45% of every dollar he owns to the government. For every $100 he earns, he gets to keep $55.

    Wow. That’s all I can say.

    Jesse P.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    • This $9,000 check represented a standard of living increase of 15%. I was able to have a standard of living 15% greater than what I earned. My father in law, by contrast, was able to have a standard of living 45% less than what he earned.

      Jesse P.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      • 35% is the highest one can pay for income tax, so this statement infers that you’re including other taxes.

        What I struggle with is the question, “do those with wealth have an obligation to share some of it?”

        By your answer, I would assume you would say no. But the truth is everyone is mutually dependent on each other for their wealth. You father, who must make more than $250,000, is dependent on those who make less for his wealth regardless of what sort of trade he is in (maybe they’re employees, maybe they’re labourers who produce products). Likewise, those who make less are equally as dependent on your father for their wealth. Nobody makes or loses money without it affecting someone else, either directly or indirectly.

        So, you’re in a room with 9 other peope. They each make a fraction of what you make (remembering that all wealth is interconnected) and you’re forced to collectively pay a $100 bill. Should you each pay $10? What if thats 90% of their wages but only 10% of yours? Or should you pay $50, and they split the rest?

        There’s no right answer, but your fathers “right” to a standard of living corresponding to wealth would suggest you’d sooner see that $100 split equally, and for 9 others to suffer for it.

        Jack

        June 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    • Well Jesse, as you took issue with what I said about taxes, you didn’t actually address anything I said. You simply stated that your father-in-law pays taxes at 45%, which is supposed to be an argument in itself. But it’s not. I have no problem with him getting taxed at that rate. As I showed in my post, he should be glad that isn’t making that money between 1945 and 1965 when he would be taxed at over 90%.
      I’ll assume that your father-in-law makes more than $250,000 a year. I know his federal income tax rate is 35% at the most, so I assume you’re including local property and possibly sales tax in your calculations. Interesting that you didn’t include them in your calculations of how much you pay yourself. Now my question is, is your father-in-law struggling to put food on the table for his family? Is he unable to afford to send his kids to college? Is he unable to save for retirement? Or does he live very comfortably and have the ability to be very generous to his loved ones and the church? People like him can afford to pay
      He will also receive a large portion of his money back through social security and medicare payments. You remember medicare right? That socialist, government-run healthcare that so many aging Tea Party members are so attached to. The average person receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in medicare benefits alone. So that 45% is not a total loss for him. My point in my article is that high tax rates do not always cause economic trouble. The other side of the story about 1945-1965 is that it was a time of great government investment in industry and infrastructure that spurred the growth of our economy.

      jamestschannen

      June 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      • Why should a responsible dad that worked hard his whole life and was able to save enough money to retire and put his kids through college have to pay for other people’s laziness? I agree that he should have a heart to help people and donate some of his money to those that are truly in need, but that decision should be up to him. I believe everyone should definitely pay taxes, but why is it okay for the government to pick on the hard working wealthy class to make up for those who are just complacent to stay low income and do nothing for themselves?

        TwistedFate

        June 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      • TwistedFate,

        I’m with you on the tax concerns. However, not all poor people are lazy or complacent. If fact, I know plenty of lazy and complacent rich people. I’m not in favor of government handouts, but poor people are just that: people. They don’t lose their humanity or become less of a human being because they fall on hard times or are born in Somalia instead of the United States.

        Jason

        June 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      • I agree with twistedfate, we should just round up those lazy poor people and ship them somewhere. That way us hard working rich people can live in some decency!

        I clearly need to stop posting on this blog, views are too contrasting.

        jack

        June 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      • TwistedFate, your attitude displays a profound ignorance of history, economics, ethics, and human nature. You are evincing a commonly held conservative trait, which is that you draw an inappropriate amount of satisfaction from being a colossal dick. I won’t even bother explaining to you why your ideas are wrong because reading is obviously not your strong suit and it probably wouldn’t do you any good.

        jamestschannen

        June 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      • Thanks Jack, I know you would agree! lol

        I post for the fun of making people angry…and the lolz. 😛

        TwistedFate

        June 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

  3. James,

    Would you not agree, however, that whatever the tax figure might be, tax revenue as a percentage hasn’t reflected the tax rate on the rich? In other words, rich people didn’t actually pay more taxes in the 50’s than they do now? I agree that percentage point here or there isn’t going to hurt very many people, and given the deficit issues, and the ongoing wars, I don’t see any way we don’t raise taxes on the middle and upper class, but I don’t want people reading our blog to think that for ever $100 a rich person made in the 50’s, they kept $10.

    Jake Phillips

    June 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

  4. I’m not going to make the argument that, because of WWII, the USA would have been prosperous no matter what the economic policies were. I think it’s true to some degree, but it doesn’t come close to explaining everything. However, there is a reason that as Nixon, Carter etc. gradually lowered the highest tax rate, and then Raegan dramatically cut it, tax revenue stayed roughly the same.

    Jake Phillips

    June 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

  5. I found a couple of interesting news-worthy articles on the issue of taxes:

    Texas has created 48% of post recession new job: http://europeancourier.org/test/2011/06/18/48-of-post-recession-jobs-were-created-in-texas-which-does-not-have-a-state-income-tax/

    Here’s some analysis of every state and how they’ve fared: http://www.floridapoliticalpress.com/2011/06/21/why-has-texas-created-48-of-all-jobs/

    Jesse P.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm

  6. “Rich people didn’t actually pay more taxes in the 50’s than they do now.” I should re-phrase, cause that was a stupid thing to say. I should’ve said something like, “they didn’t actually pay 55% more taxes then than they do now” (90% – 35%)

    Jake Phillips

    June 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm

  7. Yes, it’s matter of perception and that is ingrained by the advent of political media. As James points out, the perceptions involving the tax on the top tier.

    The great conservative godhead, Ronald Reagan, saw fit to tax the top tier at 50% or greater during 7 of the 8 years of his administration. Yet, Obama taxes the top tier at 35% and is called a ‘socialist’ by Fox News. Explicit instructions to deem Obama a socialist was delivered by Fox News exec Bill Sammon, even though he knew it was a lie:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_02/027796.php

    So, who in this scenario is ‘radical’? Two possibiliies:
    1) Reagan was a dirty socialist
    2) The right wing rhetoric has become radicalized and disingenuous by the deliberately lying media

    Ellen

    June 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm

  8. James,

    I am raising a fundamental question: is the money my father in law earns his money, or the governments? Second, who would I trust with that money, a compassionate man or government? I think this is where we would disagree, respectfully.

    Jesse P.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    • Jesse, the practice of taxation is as old as government and was legitimized by Jesus himself, so if you’re suggesting that the government doesn’t have a right to “take” money from individuals you don’t have a proverbial leg to stand on.
      As to your second point. Leaving all of the money rich people in the hands of your compassionate father-in-law might not be a bad idea, but that’s not really an option here. We have a government that must be paid for (you and I probably have very different views about what that government should be doing with its money, but that’s a different debate) and the question is how should we get that money? Should we take it from people like you, who can’t afford to pay 45% of your income? Should we cut investment in education, which eliminates jobs and makes our kids less prepared for the future? Or should we tax the group whose income has quadrupled in the past 35 years, while the rest of the country has seen their income stagnate or shrink?

      jamestschannen

      June 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

  9. Jake first of all, I would just like to point out that by admitting that we will have to raise taxes to pay for our wars, and deficits, you have basically admitted to being a liberal (as defined by our current political culture.)

    Jake I agree that WWII, well all of the government spending surrounding WWII and increased American industrial capacity coupled with the increased demand for American goods by a newly freed global market allowed for spectacular US economic growth. I also think that some of those policies set us up for the economic problems that we face today (and in some ways are responsible for the birth of hip-hop, but I’ll save that for another post).

    I also agree that, even as the rich do not actually pay 35% in taxes now, in the 50s they weren’t paying 90% They were however, paying in the 60-70% range as opposed to the 20-30% range of today (source:http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/04/how-to-think-about-taxes-and-the-rich/38947/).
    The reason that revenues have remained somewhat steady through decreased tax rates is that the wealthy have been making more and more money since the 1970s. Ironically, as the rich have been making more money they’ve been giving a smaller and smaller percentage to the government.

    jamestschannen

    June 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm

  10. It’s interesting that the right wing has taken defacto ‘ownership’ of Jesus, who himself, and by Biblical references was clearly a liberal socialist community organizer.

    Jesus argued that Roman commercialism had corrupted Jewish society. Jesus was a trouble maker to the Romans and made his feelings known. The only time Jesus was ever documented in the Gospls using physical force was when he expells the money changers from the temple.

    “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

    This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

    — Romans 13:1-7

    But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. –Luke 14:13 &14

    For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. — 1 Timothy 6:10,11

    What would Jesus think of Republicans targeting the poorest and weakest among us by cutting funding for community health centers, foodstamps, and medicare while fighting tooth and nail to protect tax cuts for the most weathy? Very Christ-like of them.

    Ellen

    June 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    • Ellen,

      I’m assuming that because you equate the words of Paul (Romans and 1 Timothy) with Jesus, and because Jesus claimed He was God, that you agree then that all of scripture is God-breathed? That is a surprising admittance given some of the other things you have written.

      Either way, I’m not going to argue about whether Jesus was more like Republicans or Democrats. He was neither, as he was not a political figure.

      Jake Phillips

      June 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm

  11. More like Republicans or Democrats (or Libertarians, or communists, or conservatives, or liberals……)

    Jake Phillips

    June 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm

  12. This was a well written post in my opinion. The problem with economics is that there is no rulebook. There is no law that will ensure lowering taxes will improve the economy, or that taxing the wealthy will hinder job creation. We can only use the information we have to determined what is best for the majority of people.

    The seemingly increasing polarisation of party politics is, in my opinion, a danger to democracy. When the few, fueled by unapproachable rhetoric, cede more political power than they represent in the populace, democracy has failed. I believe this to be the case today in both parties, especially the GOP. What we need is a combination of greater investment in education and mandatory voting. Only through education would the populace be able to achieve a middle ground, and mandatory voting would enable a true golden mean. America is moderate, so why are we forced every four years to pick someone that is not.

    Jack

    June 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    • I totally agree with your observations on the use of the word “radical.” Radical means associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change. Sometimes this is necessary, and the word should not have the negative connotation it has taken on.

      On the other hand, as a Libertarian with anarchist sympathies, I have to disagree with your ideas on taxes and the tax rate. You’re looking at the wrong side of the problem. The US collected just under $2 trillion dollars in taxes last year, after refunds (http://tinyurl.com/64rnew). Why ON EARTH would the government of the United States need so much money? There is your problem. I wonder what the founding fathers would think when they heard that number. Our government is bloated, moldering, and collapsing upon itself. Do you really think feeding this monster more money is a good idea, James? What happens when you give money to a drug addict?

      Jason

      June 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

      • BTW this shouldn’t have been posted as a reply to Jack. Not a fan of this posting system you have here.

        Jason

        June 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      • I agree, it can be confusing ha.

        Jack

        June 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      • Also, I am keen to understand the ‘Libertarian’ viewpoint simply because there aren’t many of you around. What I struggle with the idea of libertarianism, is first is that seems high idyllic, that is, that the government could step down and people will naturally govern themselves. And secondly, when in history has any successful government ever utilised libertarian ideology and improved society?

        I don’t intend for this to sound like an attack, but rather I am genuinely interested.

        Jack

        June 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      • Lol, sorry. It came automatically. I’ll see if I can change it. Although I’m interesting in seeing James’s response to Jason’s critique.

        Jake Phillips

        June 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      • Jack,

        I’ll let Jason answer, but also, if you’re interested, Joey wrote a blog post regarding Ayn Rand, and within that post he critiques liberterianism. Some of the responses in the comments section of that post defend libertarianism.

        Jake Phillips

        June 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      • Well Jason, as a socialist with anarchist sympathies I find myself agreeing with you pretty often. A lot of people get hung up on the big numbers that a government and nation of our size creates. Would the founders (I’m so sick of pretending like they are gods who are still alive and have opinions about our current political discussions) be surprised by big numbers? Probably, but I think if they were magically transported here today, they’d be more interested in video games and internet porn.
        It’s pretty clear what we spend that 2 trillion dollars on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget We have a lot of old people in this country and paying for their social security and medicare benefits is already 43% of the budget. Add on defense spending and paying interest on the national debt and you’re almost up to 70% of the budget. The rest gets spend on all kinds of things including research, arts funding, education, foreign aid, national parks, infrastructure, regulatory agencies and other things that are more or less beneficial to society. I agree that some programs should be streamlined and defense spending should be cut drastically, but the federal government has a legitimate function in a modern society.
        The Republican plan of cutting taxes for the rich and cutting all kinds of programs that help people in need is only going to heighten the most serious problems in our society.

        jamestschannen

        June 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

      • James,

        I love you. That is all.

        Jason

        June 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm

  13. Jack,
    I’m posting this as a new comment to give us some room. First, I don’t believe that the government should step down (not all of them anyway). Libertarians believe that government should be limited and should not violate individual rights (e.g., life, liberty of speech and action, and property). A good starting point exists here: http://www.lp.org/platform. I do not agree with this page on all points—such as abortion—but most Libertarians differ in some issues.
    As for your question, “when in history has any successful government ever utilised libertarian ideology and improved society?” I’ll tell you when: 1776. Below are few examples of this “Libertarian ideology” that has improved our society:
    The Right to Life
    The Right to Liberty of Speech and Action
    The Right to Private Property
    The Right of Personal Privacy
    The Right to Economic Liberty and a Free Market
    The Right to Private Schooling
    The Right to a Free Market Health Care System

    Jason

    June 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    • That’s a handy website, some interesting information. I believe my question about existing historical evidence for the actual successful execution of libertarianism still remains. How does 1776 represent an adequate example? I assume you’re referring to the constitution, whereby it is no longer being enforced? You’ll have to explain, because I don’t understand where you’re coming from here –I don’t see that as valid evidence. Highly idyllic forms of government tend to have little historical evidence, like socialism or anarchism, of ever having actually worked.

      jack

      June 22, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      • Actually, the US Constitution was 1787. By 1776, I was referring to the Declaration of Independence, which I believe is a fine example of how Libertarian ideology (e.g., ideas promoted by Libertarians) has been utilized by a successful government to improve society.

        Jason

        June 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      • I am sorry, but I don’t see the Declaration of Independence as an example of a functional libertarian government. Is it possible that one has never existed?

        For example: the evidence of the failure of socialist ideology, as a practical means of government, is almost immediately apparent following the Russian civil war. Within a few years communist ideology was proven to be impossible to execute, and concessions were immediately made that took steps back from idealised doctrine. The Soviet Union would go on to battle upstream against an ideology that wasn’t achievable for the rest of the century. Likewise fascism, monarchism, parliamentarianism, etc, all have examples of successes and failures -they can be proven to govern.

        So, I believe my question remains, has libertarianism ever been tried or tested? I don’t intend to degrade the historical importance of the Declaration of Independence, but it’s importance in history is specific only to America and colonial revolutions are as old as written history.

        I don’t intend nor expect a simple blog to dramatically change your view, but I don’t understand how you can believe in an ideology that has never actually existed, there’s no proof, there’s no history. I can’t help but view libertarianism as utopian fiction, maybe you can dispel that with evidence it has worked in the past?

        jack

        June 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      • See now Jack, you’re changing the question. I feel like I’m debating a straw man here. Let me start over.

        Question (posed by you): “When in history has any successful government ever utilised libertarian ideology and improved society?”

        Answer: The US Government (which I would consider successful) has utilized each of the Libertarian ideologies I listed, and I believe our society has been improved as a result. For example, I believe the free market system has improved our society. This is a Libertarian ideology. Hopefully this puts that question to rest for good.

        Now to the ‘other’ (read: ‘new’) question you brought up: “Has libertarianism ever been tried or tested?” You are correct, we have never seen a totally Libertarian government. However, many of the individual elements of Libertarianism have been employed (e.g., free trade/enterprise, free speech, economic liberty, rule of law). Each of these elements of Libertarianism have been tried and tested individually before and have worked well. You can see Libertarianism at work every time you interact voluntarily with another person, instead of being coerced to do so.

        So, Jack, you cannot say that Libertarianism “has never actually existed, there’s no proof, there’s no history.” That simply is not true. As I said before (and you are correct here), there has never been a totally Libertarian government. However, that is no proof that it cannot work. Simply because something has not been fully proven or seen before does not mean anything. If you were born in an earlier era, I’m sure you would have given your “utopian fiction” argument to Galileo, Tesla, Newton, and both Wright brothers.

        Now, I’m not saying that I’m 100% sure Libertarianism would work. Any belief comes with a degree of faith. I am saying, however, that your arguments are garbage.

        Jason

        June 23, 2011 at 1:50 am

      • I like to think my question wasn’t new, but reworded to be more specific 🙂

        If I am entirely honest, I fail to see any logic in your argument. The U.S utilises ideology from the full political spectrum, that neither proves nor disproves their effectiveness as a single political ideology. Am I to believe that we should just convert to a Military Dictatorship because the U.S has the finest military in the world? No. It is illogical to praise the sum, whilst neglecting to account for all the parts.

        Furthermore, how can you advocate a form of government that you admit has never existed in its entirety? Call me cynical, but if the argument ‘just because its never been tried before, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work’ is valid, then there’s no I can’t jump off a ten story building. By you’re logic, I’ve never tried it, so it might work. You can call my arguments garbage, it is after all your ideology of choice, but you seem unable to prove to me that Libertarianism has any substantial precedence. I want a time in history, an established government, that exemplifies most if not all of the ideology in question.

        In addition, how you can use scientists as an example to prove you’re point is bewildering. Science, like mathematics, is built upon precedence. You’re telling me you know quantum physics but can’t solve 1 + 1, if you get my drift. If it makes you feel better, all ideology is utopian, but I’m afraid libertarianism still reads like fiction to me.

        Jack

        June 23, 2011 at 2:28 am

      • I think Jack does a good job showing why libertarianism, as an idea, is good, which is why I consider myself somewhat of a libertarian. But as a complete system of political thought, I think it comes up short. It would require a level of decency in man that I don’t tihnk exists.

        Jake Phillips

        June 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      • Jake, thanks for being logical. I’m with you there. The inherent nature of man does pose a problem.

        Jack, I’m trying to stay with you buddy, but if you can’t see the differences between Libertarianism and jumping off a ten-story building…I think this conversation is over.

        Jason

        June 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      • I am afraid that the point by now is moot. To each their own. Maybe the day will come when you can provide some sort of proof libertarianism has some foundation in history, some precedence of having worked, anything concrete. Until then it will remain elusively idyllic. I for one have unfortunately written it off as hopelessly ideological, like a ‘classless society’, rooted not in fact but in faith.

        Per, “but if you can’t see the differences between Libertarianism and jumping off a ten-story building…”

        My comparison was the foundation of your logic and why I believe its inheritantly flawed, not the literal act. You believe without evidence that your views should be applied to the masses on the premise that, “because something has not been fully proven or seen before does not mean anything”. Therefore, because I have neither proven that 10 story falls are fatal, nor seen a man fall from that height, then by Jove maybe I’ll be fine.

        But as mentioned, to teach their own, I am more informed having participated in this discussion.

        Jack

        June 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      • to each* heh. I’m blaming these bloody keyboards at school and my 12 hour study sessions for my bad spelling and grammar.

        Jack

        June 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm

  14. This is so fascinating. I love the debate but am disturbed by some of the thinking.

    People who work hard, are industrious, build wealth by wisdom and sweat — whether their “wealth” is substantial or not, according to the definition of others — shouldn’t be penalized for their efforts. And what they do with their money is no one’s business but their own and God’s.

    Taxes are one thing. Jesus paid them. Penalizing wealth is another.

    Mom

    June 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    • One of the most common conservative fallacies is believing that hard work and money are always linked. It’s always the hard-working man who has earned his wealth through the sweat of his brow… If you defend wealth in these terms, then why eliminate or cut the estate tax which takes money from the hands of people who did nothing to earn it. Capital gains taxes only affect income made, not by hard work, but simply by having money to invest.
      On the other hand, there are plenty of people who work extremely hard, sometimes at two or three jobs and still can’t make enough to get ahead in life. If we created a system where people were all paid exactly the same for each hour of work, then maybe you would have an argument, but in America, most people who are very wealthy had very wealthy parents and most people who are poor had poor parents, so it should be obvious that income depends much more on advantages of class than hard work.

      jamestschannen

      June 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    • That is what I was getting at in my above post. I wasn’t doing a very good job at it, but that is kind of what I was trying to say.

      TwistedFate

      June 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    • Mom, thank you for providing some common sense 🙂

      Jesse P.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:25 am

    • Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
      Proverbs 22:16

      Jason

      June 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      • Jason, I am not sure how that verse applies here. Oppress is defined here: “Keep (someone) in subservience and hardship, esp. by the unjust exercise of authority.” Are you saying that wealthy people who don’t want to pay 35%+ in taxes are oppressing the poor? And I have not seen anyone in this thread say we should give to the rich. So I’m not following why you posted that verse. Relevance?

        TwistedFate

        June 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm

  15. James, your parenthetical statement “(I’m so sick of pretending like they are gods who are still alive and have opinions about our current political discussions)” is the very essence of our disagreement.

    They are not gods. They established a government we must uphold, rooted in certain principals that our very laws bind us to protect. Your anarchist tendencies are aimed at subverting this rule of law.

    All talk of taxes is superficial. The fundamental issue is how we interpret the constitution our founders wrote.

    Jesse P.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:29 am

  16. James,
    Have you ever read Saul Alinsky?

    Alex Couch

    June 23, 2011 at 5:00 am

    • No, I haven’t.

      jamestschannen

      June 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm


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