Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Various Matters

Hugo Chavez has died.  Here's an interesting article on the bizarre US hatred of him.  Looks like he's done a lot of good for people that need it most.  He's been elected numerous times in elections that are the fairest and most transparent in the world.  There are dictators all over the world elected in fake elections if they are elected at all, brutalizing their own people.  And yet for some reason they aren't subjected to the daily two minutes hate that Chavez is subjected to.  He's treated as if he's a dictator while the US continuously sends armaments to real dictators.  Kind of bizarre.  Except it's not bizarre at all when you understand what it is that truly merits outrage within the US establishment.

HP quotes a right wing economist on minimum wage here.  Raising the minimum wage would be terrible.  I think it's interesting to notice how the argument is made if you follow HP's link here.  Roberts decries "empirical analysis" which he likens to what he calls "scientism".  A common slogan you hear, and I think it's true, is that facts simply have a liberal bias.  So we don't want to talk about the facts.  As the title of the Roberts article says we must instead be "Imagining a World of Minimum Wages."  If you can use or imagination, conservative arguments make sense.

You can go wherever you like and read similar right wing style arguments.  Here's Walter Williams.  Raising the minimum wage is going to hurt minorities.  How do we know?  Williams has a couple of thought experiments to back up his belief.  Not a bit of data.  Mark Perry is playing with evidence though.  He's guilty of "scientism" I suppose.  See how teenage unemployment went up between 2008 and 2009.  Must be because of the minimum wage.  Of course there was nothing else that would have contributed to unemployment at that time I suppose.  Like for instance a crashed economy that Mark Perry told us was awesome thanks to all the deregulation and tax cuts, and that people like Paul Krugman who were warning of impending disaster were totally wrong.

Speaking of Krugman, let's contrast his commentary on minimum wage.  It includes the data which backs his assertions.  No, there's no good reason to think the kind of rise Obama is suggesting would harm employment rates.

Krugman was right about the housing bubble, right about what austerity would do in Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Britain, right about supposed inflation.  He's the top prognosticator according to a university study when evaluated against several of his peers.  On the right we have people wrong about global warming, wrong about war, wrong about WMD, wrong about deregulated finance, wrong about Freddie and Fannie, just wrong wrong wrong.  And yet people keep listening to them, even when they don't offer evidence but simply offer thought experiments.  I find that kind of amazing.

Finally an article from Chomsky worth reading.  Can Civilization Survive Capitalism.  Notice the interesting discussion on how it is the poor of the world fighting to keep hydrocarbons in the ground.  In Ecuador the people could benefit from selling their oil, and while they are much poorer than us they think what they have is enough and taking more is not worth the price their children will pay.  Meanwhile in the US, the richest country in the world, we're fighting tooth and nail to extract and burn everything we can, which will accelerate the crisis.  Future generations will find this puzzling.


Sheldon said...

Of course the majority of people of Ecuador reap little of the profits of oil historically, but have to endure the environmental degradation from oil exploitation.

Jonathan said...


Interesting article entitled "10 reasonw why I will not miss Chavez" which has a slightly different take than your guardian link".


Also, here's an interesting podcast (and brief article) from planet money on Ecuador. It raises the question "Ecuador wants to not harm the environment by taking oil out of the ground and have offered to keep it in the ground if paid to do so. Is this analogous to holding the enviornment hostage, or a creative alternate solution?"

Chad said...

That is too bad that you don't understand the negative to a forced minimum wage, but its not a shock.

Question - what happens to the costs associated with this forced wage increase throughout the entire supply chain? In certain markets these increased costs could be fairly significant.

Forget for a moment that it will slow hiring for 100% sure - lets talk biz 101. Obviously all additional costs get folded into the cost of goods/services and therefore the unskilled labor persons check goes up - but so does all the costs for all services - the net on this exchange is actually zero or possibly negative.

For the rest of us who won't get a raise simply due to this forced legislation - all of our costs just went up and the opportunity to potentially earn more money has decreased as well - net negative.

Another huge negative is that your reducing opportunities for the non skilled labor pool to enter the market to learn a skill that they might be marketable later. More employers would require some experience and would be far less likely to hire someone on a 'trial' basis to see if they can hang or have something to offer the company.

The last thing that will absolutely happen because businesses are far more smart than gov't and those pushing for something like this is that the pay scale will be reduced at other levels - entry level pay for the next tier will do down to compensate. More likely to this scenario is highly qualified individuals who make more would be required to add to the tasks they complete on a daily basis now.

Why not just make the minimum wage $25/hr if it has no negative affect? That is because milk would cost $15/gallon.

Jon said...

Jonathan, without reasearching every claim in the Chavez bashing article I just say why do we care so much? There's much worse places. There are much worse dictators. He was democratically and legitimately elected by wide margins. He's not murdering the opposition. Heck, the press in his country fomented the coup against him and while he did resist them some he didn't ban them. Imagine what we'd do if Al Qaeda had a news network in our country. So you can criticize him on a lot of points. I'm sure there's a lot of validity to a lot of the criticism. Which governmental leader couldn't be criticized? But in neigboring Colombia union organizers just get murdered by government backed death squads. Why do we have these priorities? I assume you know the answer as I do.

As far as Ecuador, I suppose you can criticize them for that, but it's still better than what we're doing. Racing to the tar sands and just wreaking havoc. Let them ask for compensation. Makes sense. They're pointing out what is true. In refraining they benefit the whole of humanity. Will the rest of humanity, who reaps the rewards, step up and help them in that regard? Make it easier for them? Because you know they have elements in Ecuador that want to exploit those resources. Some funding could placate that and make it more likely to be successful. So I don't really have a problem with them asking for UN money. I'd be happy to contribute to that. What they do helps me and my children, so I'm grateful.

Chad, you offer more of the same from the right wing. Evidence free assertions. Unemployment will rise if minimum wage goes up. Here's my rebuttal. No it won't. There, now I guess I'm right. Now we're at a Mexican stand off. Evidence free assertions are easy. That's why it's a right wing mainstay. Sifting evidence is hard. The other problem of course is the evidence points away from the right wing assertions. Maybe that's why the right wing always focuses on evidence free assertions instead of doing the dreaded "empiricism". Damn the evidence. Ignore that. Just say it will raise unemployment and a host of other negative consequences. That's easy to say but tough to prove.

Comparing an increase to $9 to an increase to $25 is typical right wing simplicity. Just because $25 would hurt, this doesn't mean $9 would hurt. These are different things. It's like saying since you should drink more water you should actually drink 15 gallons per day. A little more can have different consequences than a lot more, but you'd have to look at the evidence to know, and the right wing doesn't seem interested in that for some reason.

Jonathan said...


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but to be a *true* mexican standoff, it would require a third party, such as me, asserting that you are BOTH wrong. Gridlock ensues because the person to shoot first is at the tactical disadvantage as they will be shot by shooter 2. #truthbomb :-)

Anyway, one big point raised in the ecuador article is that they're saying "we really need money, and would use it for all sorts of good things but don't want to hurt the environment." the counter to this is sort of the whole pragmatic moral hazard argument that if you were to pay to contribute to that, what's to stop other countries from demanding money as well otherwise their environment gets it. If you're going for an efficient use of money to protect the environment, I'm not sure that shelling out dough to Ecuador would be the best use of funds.

Also, paying a country not to produce is very similar to paying farmers not to plant crops which can be rather absurd as well...

Jon said...

Paying them not to produce makes sense though. What we do is simply produce and burn and those costs, which are externalities, are costs that will be paid by the whole of humanity. Exxon gets the profits, the rest of the world picks up the tab as ocean levels rise and droughts ensue. What Ecuador says is charge now instead of paying later. You can object if you like, but the point remains that the poorest people in the world are the ones really leading the charge against this looming disaster. The richest people are accelerating the crisis. That's going to baffle future generations. If civilization survives that is.

HispanicPundit said...


You should have read economist Russ Roberts more carefully. In the post you link to, there is a link to another post he did discussing specifically the empirical aspects of the minimum wage. See here. So he does discuss the empirical aspects of it.

To avoid confirmation bias, let me give you a summary of how I read his post.

His basic points(of this article) are twofold:

First, the empirical research on the minimum wage can be used by BOTH sides, to their advantage.

Second, the way the empirical research would need to be done is INHERENTLY prone to easy manipulation to ones political benefit.

Now, his overall point of the article you linked to (with the empirical article in the background, of which he linked to as well) is this: with the empirical research suffering from the shortcomings above, lets think about all areas where a minimum wage affects workers...aside from just employment. Areas where it would be even more difficult to measure, and quantify, empirically.

What he calls scientism is NOT empirical research - but the ability to manipulate certain studies to benefit your political interest...and call it empirical research.

I know this doesn't fit well with how you read the article, or your vision of how you see "right-wing" economists, but give the article a few more readings, that's certainly how I read it - and I am a LONG time reader of Roberts.

Jon said...

Yeah, I read that. I didn't say that conservatives REFUSE to even acknowledge anything about the facts. That would be absurd. What I'm saying, which I also said at your website, is that the facts are de-emphasized. Yeah, we'll put the facts in the background, note that the facts can kind of be abused by both sides, talk about facts and empiricism in a disparaging way, but then go on to say that really what we need is a thought experiment. I'm talking about where conservatives put the emphasis. You're describing his point in the same way I describe it, just said in a nicer way. Call it spin if you like but when you say "Emperical research has it's shortcomings" I translate to "Let's not focus on the data." But in my view that's what his view amounts to, and that's what conservatives must do. They did it with the election when they want Romney to win. They do it with global warming. Data is not friendly to conservatives.

The alternative to listening to the people that are almost always wrong and want to de emphasize the data is to look at the people that are almost always right and aren't afraid of the data or don't talk about it in a disparaging way. I'm baffled that you continue to opt for the former.

Examinator said...

IMHO Jonathan and HP are sort of correct but for the wrong reasons.
The hard logical (scientific) reality is that neither side empirically prove their proposition.

To prove anything one MUST be able ISOLATE the factors you are trying to prove from all other influences that might corrupt the outcome's results. In the real world this simply can't be done.
Economics generally is like all "soft sciences" it has a tendency to externalise key factors that are too hard to quantify, neutralise , generally unknown.
One key example is Capitalism's assumption that endless growth can be achieved in a finite self contained world.

The reality is Economics is simply a series of thought experiments base on theoretical constructs that have no physicality i.e. The level playing field and fiat money, debt (negative money).

Lateral thinking point of principle.
Psychology has been growing in concepts and potential data (facts). however the whole system has had a monkey wrench thrown into the mix with until quite recently learned epigenetic effects that further complicate the expression of genes. The classic is that if a father smoked before puberty (sperm maturation) his children and grand children have an elevated chance of being obese. Even though the previous forebears don't have “fat” genes.

There is simply too many factors that haven't/ can't be tested therefore any result logically has a number of game Changing caveats.

The proposition being discussed is specific assumptions and parameters giving a statistical result. Change any one or number, intensity, timing and the conclusion fails.

We have discussed before the notion that we are all Logical maximisers … however Dan Ardley has hypothesised with some justification that we are irrational influenced by our perception of what others are thinking.
Now to throw the proverbial spanner in the works recent research with other cultures has shown that not everyone has the “human instinct” of greed or the need to gain better advantage than others .

In short Economics is an interesting tool to reduce some of the possibilities what it isn't is a basis for Dogmatic ideology i.e. Chad's dogged assertions that it's irrevocably black or white.
Ergo we should be discussing not who's right or wrong but lets figure out a workable solution for the real conditions we face.
Pragmatic (Solution) not Dogmatic (ideology)

Jon said...

I think the best you can do, Ex, is try to look at what has worked and what hasn't. That's what Krugman is doing. Conservatives by and large don't do that, or if they do look at data it's like they want to hold it at arms length. I agree with your point on PROVING a claim. You can't prove that it's going to be good or bad. But what you can do is look at history and using induction choose a course that is most likely to produce success. In fact this is what we must do. There's no alternative. We have to choose a policy.

One thing to start with is to stop listening to the people that seem to get it wrong over and over and start listening to the people that get it right over and over. I keep emphasizing this because I just find it very curious. For me it was weird when I was in Bush's corner and he turned out to be wrong. That created a conflict for me. It bothered me and I admitted it. Does it not bother people who are conservative today? I just think that's weird.

Jonathan said...


One thing I've noticed is the vast majority of people who "look into" a topic really don't. They read things which agree with their ideology. Most people really don't know how to objectively look into a given topic, and find the holes in what they believe.

So what you get is a bunch of straw man arguments and people who don't have the time or the abilities to really objectively look past their bubble.

You are one of the few people who does have the time, interest, and ability to look past the noise in a lot of issues, and isn't afraid to change their opinion.

But as you well know, it can be very disorienting and disturbing to switch positions or views, and so there's a lot of inherent resistance, both externally and internally to change.

I think there are many people who are simply not equipped or be in a position to make true changes based off of a logical analysis of the facts. This is a function of our environment and our human nature.

But don't forget, that the vast majority of those who are on your side (or any side) on a given topic probably fall into this same camp as well. It isn't a conservative vs. liberal thing so much as a human thing. How many liberals tout tolerance and inclusion, but then deride and demonize the other side. How many times do we not leave room for discussion or dialogue, but call those with opposing views narrow minded or hateful.

As an example, take the treatment of the abortion issue. You were open minded enough to find an argument (if I remember correctly) that was compelling enough for you to view it as wrong without the requirement of God or a specific religion. How many liberals do you think would be open to this line of thinking, and how many would shoot it down based on emotion or rhetoric and not logic?

I only point that specific issue out to illustrate that we are all in the same camp - the vast majority of us are unwilling or unable to make seismic changes in our views and actions. And when these changes do come, it's from the emotional or experiential level. It's not a shortage of truth or logic, it's a shortage of willingness to change. That's the human condition.

I personally do not think this is all bad as a big part of the human experience is experiential and relational, and in fact, if we were simply purely logical beings, we would lose a big part of what makes us human.

Jon said...

That's very kind of you Jonathan. But I'd ask you to also be open minded about the possibility that generally speaking people that fall into a particular political ideology are more prone to the criticisms you mentioned. There's an assumption often that the truth is in the middle. Both sides are equally guilty of various infractions, etc. That may not be true. There's a good book on the subject. Or what looks like a good book (I haven't read it, but I've seen interviews with the author.) "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality". It argues that there really is a certain kind of person, dogmatists, that are naturally drawn towards Republican policies because Republicans reflect similar dogma, inability to appreciate nuance, etc.

I really was startled prior to the election of Obama to see people like Chad and others I knew that genuinely thought Romney would win. I wasn't similarly confident Obama would win. I thought he would, but realized he might not. I linked to Krugman who spoke the same way. Looks like Obama will probably win, but there is inherent error in our analysis of the data, so we can't be sure. On the right, nope, Romney has it wrapped up. Romney really didn't write the concession speech.

So when liberals like Krugman handle the data and conservatives like those HP links to handle the data are we really supposed to expect them to treat it the same way? Must they be equally guilty of seeing what they want to see? I don't think that's necessarily true (could be, how's that for nuance). Here we have a case where we actually got smacked in the face with reality and what do we see? Conservatives are off the reservation, liberals are right on. We are not equally biased with the data in this case.

I guess I like to think I have the kind of mind that allows me to change my opinion, but in the face of constant error from the right wing economist, constant error from the right wing pundit, constant denial of science and evidence, I see so many who cling to the same theories and embrace the same erroneous analysts. Maybe they have the kind of brain that doesn't allow them to do otherwise. It's possible. Be open to it.

Chad said...


If we are in a Mexican standoff and I am the only one who owns a gun then your in trouble right (lol).

Look - I get your point you desire evidence that I don't have the time to dig up so let me talk in common sense terms here - logic if you will.

First I would suggest that you take a minute to see the absolutely negative affect the minimum wage has had on our young people. Look at each time the minimum wage was raised and watch the unemployment or not employed numbers for that group specifically continue an upward path - this is especially true for our young black boys and girls.

Obviously they (young people) tend to be very unskilled for obvious reasons and forcing employers to pay them X dollars when the job only produces Y results is a job killer sir.

The other fact that I am hoping that your not arguing is that a new min wage would absolutely increase the cost of goods and services. Somewhere along the supply chain of most products you will run into a minimum wage earner so costs have to go up. Not to mention that employers will be faced with another problem with current employees as well - they may have hired in someone lower than the min wage, they may have earned a bump or two to get them over the new min wage by $.15/hr - suddenly those raises are gone and the new hire walking in the door already caught up day 1.

So fact - cost would go up. It is also a fact that no other workers above the min would most likely get a raise - meaning their money does not go as far in the marketplace. If milk goes up $.25/gallon, hot dogs up $.25/package and so on - so forth they just lost earnings. There money does not stretch as far any longer.

By virtue of raising a fews ships, you lowered a far larger number of ships in the process.

Last point sir - this is similar to our gun debate. Instead of pointing that what - lets point at and correct the why shall we.

How can and do you naturally raise the minimum wage sir? You reduce the unemployment levels - you create jobs as many as possible to increase the value of workers.

Another words - the natural way to attack this problem is to have a negative unemployment level giving the negotiation power to the employee and not the employer - do you agree? If there is not enough order takers to man the McDonalds drive thru then to attract those employees you offer better compensation for their labor.

So - your focusing on the shiny light on the wall again and I want to go to the source.

So how do we get unemployment to 2% or less - is it possible or a pipe dream to reach that goal? Would you agree that has to start by creating jobs in the USA? So how can you do that - create or bring back jobs to the USA? Doesn't that start with reducing business costs?

Well - you see where I am heading now. Jobs - jobs - jobs and more jobs will correct many of the problems this panel likes to discuss.

I would like to read sometime this data that can prove - without question - that raising costs (min wage, healthcare, taxes) does not cause unemployment because it can not exist on logic alone sir.

Endulge my ignorance - what would happen my friend if the gov't of the US said that corporate sales tax was suspended as of April 1st - it goes to zero for any company that grows their employee base by 10%. Along with that - capital gains tax goes to 0% for anyone who invests in a 10% growth company?

I'm interested in your thoughts on that one.

Chad said...

"I really was startled prior to the election of Obama to see people like Chad and others I knew that genuinely thought Romney would win."

May I say this again sir - 77 counties out of 88 voted Romney in the state of Ohio yet Obama won the State. This happened all across the country sir. We know that bus fulls of Democrat voters were dropped off to vote BHO - some multiple times in Ohio we are finding out now and that did not and does not happen for the Republican voting block sir.

Did more people vote BHO than Romney - absolutely true, but I think we all need to take caution here as to why and who voted. One vote - one person - we all get that, but when you break down the total votes into categories (race/earning/taking) it is a very scary situation sir - even you have to agree with that.

Another words - how many votes by percentage were cast to Obama for a single reason that they wanted free stuff? I know there is no official number, but even it is only 5% of the total votes were cast simply to make sure that their free stuff stayed free - that is the election right there my friend. And to argue that 5% is high - I would have to argue that number is way way to low.

Scary -

Jonathan said...


Romney got smoked during the election. I was pulling for him, but what I expected to happen happened. I gave him about a 20% chance of winning although I hoped I was wrong.

That being said, I don't see the point in comparing counties, but people. If 1000 people across one rural county own a lot of farm land, and 1000 people live within a few city blocks of a metro area, it doesn't matter that one makes up a county and one makes up a small sliver of a county to me.

I will grant you that when I look at a map of my home state of Wisconsin, and see a sea of red with some liberal islands in Madison and Milwaukee, it does feel a bit off putting if they win a particular election. But you know what? If more people voted in those small geographical locations against my view, then they won.

In fact, I think if I really was concerned about it, I'd be more upset by the millions who chose not to vote in the first place.

I personally was expecting Obama to win although I was pulling for Romney.

Jon said...

Look at each time the minimum wage was raised and watch the unemployment or not employed numbers for that group specifically continue an upward path - this is especially true for our young black boys and girls.

Yeah, let's look at it. You can't just say "look at it" without providing any data to look at though.

Obviously they (young people) tend to be very unskilled for obvious reasons and forcing employers to pay them X dollars when the job only produces Y results is a job killer sir.

Well, you don't know that. That's just a restatement of right wing theory. I know you think that. But until you actually look at the data you don't know. Like I said go to the Krugman link and follow the evidence. It just doesn't support this claim.

The rest of your post is similar. You state as facts things you'd need to see in the data to know, yet you have no data.

Doesn't that start with reducing business costs?

Maybe, maybe not. It could be that the reason a company is not hiring is not because they don't have the money (look at Apple for instance) but instead because they don't see demand for their products above present levels. They'd hire more people if more products were being sold. But they aren't. Why not? Because people don't have money. So it's not that Apple's costs are too high. It's that they are already fully staffed to meet the existing demand. If their costs went up 10% they wouldn't lay a single person off. They'd just pay more to everyone because they need all those people to meet the demand.

I'm not saying that's what's happening, but saying it's possible. You can't just say it's possible though and act like you've proved it.

I would like to read sometime this data that can prove - without question - that raising costs (min wage, healthcare, taxes) does not cause unemployment because it can not exist on logic alone sir.

Unfortunately in the real world you don't get proof in that form. Prove "without question" that cutting taxes stimulates job growth. It can't be done. So you have to use induction and reach conclusions that are at best known with a high level of certainty. You can never know for sure. That's life.

Jon said...

Endulge my ignorance - what would happen my friend if the gov't of the US said that corporate sales tax was suspended as of April 1st - it goes to zero for any company that grows their employee base by 10%. Along with that - capital gains tax goes to 0% for anyone who invests in a 10% growth company?

The deficit would skyrocket, corporate profits would go up more above their already record levels, and things would actually get worse because government expenditures would probably decline, further weakening demand.

The problem is not that corporations don't have enough money or that the rich don't have enough due to capital gains taxes. The rich have record levels of wealth. The DOW has set another record. The rich have plenty and your suggestion is that if we'd only let them keep more things would get better. Why would that help anything? Because if only they had more they'd finally hire some people? Not at all. They have money coming out of their ears now and they don't hire, and why should they? They have enough people working to meet the present level of demand. The issue is demand, not the idea that they don't have enough. Why think that when they presently have more than their current record levels this would change anything? We've been following the strategy of make sure they get more and more for decades now. You've succeeded in filling their pockets to the max and your answer is more of the same. Again, I find it baffling that people continually advocate what has already failed.

And regarding Obama and Romeny, you didn't say Romney would win the majority of counties. If you'd have made that claim I'd have agreed with you. What you said was that he'd win the election. Whoever won the most counties has no bearing on the erroneous prediction you made. How can you look at the data and reach that kind of conclusion, and with such confidence? The claim in that book I referenced is that this is the nature of the Republican brain. Anti-science, anti reality, and absolutely convinced, with no room for nuance. We're seeing it here in this thread with the confidence you have in the consequences of minimum wage increases, with zero basis in data. Just your own arm chair analysis. Strange to me, but maybe that's why I'm no longer a Republican. You may not be able to change.

Chad said...

Well it does appear that you've done a great job brain washing yourself as well.

In order to be tax free - 10% hiring, did you miss that? None of what you said makes much sense other than gov't would have less money initially which is a super awesome thing. They would get it back through more people actually paying income tax. Net net - what would the tax revenue be at zero percent corporate, but in turn 39% + the newly employed in the pool pulling their weight?

The rich are getting richer because no one else can get in the game - ie REGULATIONS, TAXES and GOV't

Oh yeah I forgot, no data to support that theory.

Chad said...


It goes to a bigger point I have been trying to make with Jon. Conservatives are, have been and will continue to move away from the big city Liberal riddled and dying big cities to form our own communities. Yet the big cities are dying and need to tax the many counties for a few. Look at Detroit now - destroyed by decades of Libs and now the city wants to tax surrounding communities to pay for their ills. Also to the point of why Obama did win - spilled milk - maybe, but when you break down the voter block we all need to be concerned.

A big number of people got off their couches - made their way down to the voting booth (probably on a bus / free lunches and freebies) to pull a lever for a guy strictly and only to continue to get free stuff. We are talking millions of Obama Free phone / on the gov't dime voters.

Quick question. You have 10 people living on an island. 4 people bring in all the food, they till the fields, make the money, build the house and are the makers - one Alpha is Chad who says if you vote me President of the clan everyone must work to eat. Then there is Jake who is running for President and says if you vote for me we'll continue to have Chad and his 3 minions work - status quo. 1 vote per person and Jake wins - is that a good thing?

So back around on this - I have been saying that America is jogging toward a big split and the question will be if it's gonna be peaceful or not. Surrounding cities are not going to bail out the Liberal big cities forever - one day it will be no you can't or it's going to be you do your thing and we'll do ours. Look at this gun debate - liberal states that don't want guns might lose companies who make guns to more conservative states. Businesses are running from liberal states for low cost biz friendly states which is why it is important that 77 out of 88 counties covering 80+% of the land mass is important - resources sir.

Chad said...

Here is some data for you.

Unbelievable that anyone thinks its okay to steal 1/2 this mans wages - this should make everyone Ill.

Jonathan said...


So is your view that those citizens of a country who provide the most value to society or control the most land should deserve more votes than those who provide less?

Examinator said...

Thank you for your response it seem as if we're saying similar things.
with one small difference. My contention is that NOTHING REALLY WORKS 100% at least enough to transfer it Holus Bolus from one set of circumstances to another.
i.e. what works in the rarefied air of theory probably won't work out as expected in the real world.
Likewise what appears to work (in generality i.e. statistical terms the majority ) in Ecuador probably won't in USA ...Conditions additional factors not present or more intense etc.
I guess the meta point I was making is that as long as we (western world/USA) continue to see the problem as a fight between two sides rather than a search for a 'unique solution'( combining different ideologies) we are simply forcing the lowest common denominator ( read we are remaining victims of randomised evolutionary principals.

Unlike Jonathan a belief in God is objectively secondary to the above simply because who's God? who's version of of that God? Christian/ Muslim et al can't agree on a unified version/ interpretation. Albeit in earlier times Muslims did tend to be organized about ultimate interpretations.

Change the term for 'God' and insert 'ideology' economics et al and you have the same problem. the common key factor is simply all are Man's creations.
See the Voltaire's dictum "If God didn't exist man would invent him".... read abstract (without physical or objective proof) justifications',explanations for the meta importance of his/her existence.

The book Jon is referring to (if it's the one I've read) is fine in that it takes a scientific look at the behaviorist view of people and rightly tries to link the genetic influences. Add to that new discoveries of Epigenetics and you have my adopted dictum
“ the more I know the more I know that I don't know.”
That doesn't mean we should give up merely start with the realistic premise instead of MY ideology is better than YOURS. Therefore let butt heads until one of use gets brain damage or gives up (sound familiar? Yep that's what male Mountain Goats and other animals (in variation)do for breeding rights!) .
I'm suggesting we put Egos (horns, antlers etc) aside admit the FACTS including we don't have the Lock on “THE ONE AND ONLY TRUTH” and work from there objectively.
As recent articles have shown that greed etc are largely culturally encouraged. Research has show that other cultures don't share 'our' obsession with power etc.

HispanicPundit said...


You write: You're describing his point in the same way I describe it, just said in a nicer way. Call it spin if you like but when you say "Emperical research has it's shortcomings" I translate to "Let's not focus on the data." But in my view that's what his view amounts to, and that's what conservatives must do. They did it with the election when they want Romney to win. They do it with global warming. Data is not friendly to conservatives.

If your point is to say that when the empirical research is mixed, subtle, and hard to extrapolate who has upper hand, that conservatives THEN like to move to theory to help solve the debate, then yes, we agree.

Examinator said...

Excuse me for sticking my oar in but I couldn't resist
The problem the difference between the methodologies. As a result of DIFFERENT objectives.
In any scientific (objective) investigation the Evidence (data) determines the provisional conclusion. The ensuing peer review is does the evidence prove that conclusion.
i.e. I have clear data that the nature of ice is changing in the Antarctic. Some areas are melting, while other areas are getting thicker . Sea temperatures around Antarctica are increasing . Therefore it is a provisional conclusion that given already proven results in PAPERS a-h (which involve a range of other related relevant topics and disciplines , and their refutation or reinterpretation of papers J-T it is reasonable to (provisionally) conclude that AGW is the culprit here.

By comparison The Republican approach ( read those who stand to lose financially from AGW ) is yes but we have Papers I, k and w that relate to geology or sun spots or glaciers in NZ that are growing or that a .00134 degree F error in one column 'disproves' the a. validity of the paper and therefore PROVES (sic) that AGW isn't happening.
Do you see the flaws in the logic between the two?
The skeptics haven't done any meaningful research they simply pick and choose with what exists?
They have More money and from that perspective more too lose so why ?
If they spent 50% of what they spent on trying to stop governments acting on data and put up alternative bona fide research projects they would be able to resolve the issue in one year. They don't because there's a big chance that it would be irrevocably shown that it is real. The Rump Republicans, Tea Baggers are simply afraid they may lose their advantage/privilege.
They are running a negative campaign a 'spoiler role'

Examinator said...

Their economic program (ideology) is soft science based can't be physically/emphatically tested we are talking here about abstracts. Their approach here is to prove their conclusion with notional principals. Do what they as business does best *compete/ combatively * not seek the truth (that's for academics who they can ignore or better discredit. They want (need )in their minds ABSOLUTE predictability. Sadly humans haven't advanced to where absolute predictability is possible.
i.e. to have combat you need *two* sides with variations on those two themes.
Therefore it requires CONCLUSIONS (both are absolutes)and then the argument is about *which* conclusion is correct (sic).
Sadly this is putting the cart before the horse. And anti empirical... simply select data no room for the yes.....buts.
The reason why the Liberals (sic) are disorganised (sic) is that without absolutes every body (people have equitable an intangible ) power.
Empirical examinations aren't the problem they supply accurate within the limitations of ability/ technology the best conclusions but in the Liberal lexicon there is room/ provision for change which is what republicans , tea baggers and businesses abhor most.
More profit each year;
Reliable(read compliant/disposable)labor;
No regulatory restrictions;
controlled outlays;
endless markets
Control of /elimination of competitors.
i.e. focus on absolutes
dehumanise the world to a series of computable factors.

Chad said...


It's kind of an interesting discussion isn't it. Definitely not interested in giving anyone more than 1 vote regardless, but I absolutely would like to investigate/discuss ways that a person earns the right to vote.

Hell the Left is now and has been in full attack of Constitutional Admendments and social law to increase their voting block for decades - question should be are they worthy of a vote? As we know it's all about numbers - bodies that can pull a lever and Libs have embraced every single lost cause to capture as many votes as possible.

Give amnesty to 12 million illegals - let all the gays marry - take guns - give free stuff - they buy votes with empty promises.

So now we have a problem - elections are being won, victory is being declared by a non working, non contributing block of people in America. I am not talking about anyone above social security age that is retired. I am talking about the bus full of people I personally saw dropped off at a voting booth in Cincy - not one of those people appeared to have a job and when I talked to a few before the Lib's came to threaten me it was clear that they were there for lunch - they had ID so they were important to the Libs on that day. Despicable actions especially since they were no longer important the moment they pulled the lever - those Lib organizers couldn't push those voters back on the buses fast enough to go pick up more 'voters'.

So I think the discussion should be had to determine who should be allowed to vote for sure. A certain set of minimum criteria should be established to purify the process.

Obviously an ID - mandatory, minimum employment history amount, no convicted felon should be allowed to cast a vote - ever, they can't own a weapon they surely souldn't be able to vote, minimum amount of citizenship time (4 years), high school diploma min or a competency test and are a couple things I was thinking as mins.

There is no data, but just common sense alone (especially with 49% of people NOT paying income taxes and 8% unemployment) that at least 10% of the votes cast for BHO came by way of people who do not contribute to society, but rather are a drain on it.

That's fair right?

Chad said...

JC - I just read that gov't employees owe $3.5 billion dollars in back taxes.

Let's think about that one a minute. Gov't employees are compensated only after the collection of taxes which ultimately must come from the private sector (forget gov't printing money for a second).

So taxes are taken in then income is paid to Teachers, firefighters and Police Officers and that income is taxed again?

This is quite possibly the biggest scam in the history of the world don't you think? Why do gov't employees have to pay taxes - taxes were already collected?

Why the double taxation on income? So they tax the taxed money so they can send that someone else to be taxed?

In theory the statement that gov't employees owe back taxes is an oxymoron isn't it?

Help me with this - track a $100 bill. A guy first earned it in the private market. $24 is taken for federal, $5 for State, $2 for City, $3 for Soc Sec?, $5 for other misc payroll taxes. So $39 never touched his bank account out of the $100 before I knew it was gone. For the sake of discussion let's pretend he only save $5 / month. So their is $56 to spend and again for this discussion the other taxes all add up to another 10% so another $5.60.

$44.60 out of that hundo is gov'ts now. So when that money becomes earnings for the hard working police officer that $44.60 gets scrubbed in the exact same way right?

About $11 in Fed, $2 State, $1 for local, soc sec, union dues and then he puts 5% away then spends the rest @ 10% tax.

So gov't has about $20 of that original money to repeat the same situation and that repeats until that original $100 has all been consumed by tax and re-distributed correct? I must be missing something - help me on this because it is pissing me off, I have to have something wrong here.

Back to the question - why do government employees pay income taxes?

Jon said...

That's an interesting point, Chad, and I think you are misunderstanding it, but on the other hand I'm not sure I get it either. Let me just kind of talk through the way I would think of it, but like you I want to say that I'm not actually sure that what I say is right.

I think the first thing to consider is that in an overall economy your spending is my income, and my spending is your income. It's a mistake to think of an overall economy like a family budget, where if you spend it it's gone forever and wasted.

So let's start with a USPS employee. Someone walks in and buys $100 worth of shipping. So this means it's shipped and USPS workers are paid a salary for that. Also there's the cost of doing business. Trucks, gasoline, etc. Others are employed because USPS uses these things. So of that $100 maybe $40 dollars is distrubted into the salary of USPS workers and $60 is spent on materials needed, which pays other people's salaries.

Everyone gets taxed on the portion they get. So USPS workers keep maybe $30, the services USPS purchased (fuel, depreciated vehicles employ those that build the trucks) got $60 and they keep maybe $50. So the government has $20 and various workers have $80. What does the government do with that money? It spends it. Buys services and pays salaries. So it doesn't disappear. It gets spent by the government workers that receive it. And then the workers who still have $80 spend what they have. And it just continues to circulate.

It works the same for us. I could buy some metal from you for $100. You pay the tax man $20 and let's say you buy $80 in engineering from me. I get your $80 and let's just suppose the government takes your $20 and buys another $20 in engineering from me. Now I have $100. I pay the tax man $20 and buy another $80 in metal from you, but the government also buys $20 in metal from you. And around and around it goes.

This is one of the reasons government stimulus is worth considering. The money circulates. If the government spends $1 it actually generates a multiple of that in real GDP. An economy is not a family budget. You and I individually need to save, but a government doesn't necessarily have to.

Chad said...

The USPS example kinda breaks my thought because money is exchanged for a service or goods.

Talking more about firefighters or police officers - even TSA or IRS agents. No money is ever exchanged and they are paid through gov't after the collection of taxes.

It feels odd/wrong that those folks pay income taxes on money collected via tax.

Jon said...

Wouldn't it work the same for firefighters? We're buying a service from them. Protection. So you sell $100 of metal to me and pay $20 in taxes, keep $80. You buy $80 in engineering from me. I pay $20 to the government. Government now has $40 and I have $60. Government pays the firefighter $40. He pays $10 in taxes. So I have $60, firefighter has $30, and government has $10. Let's just suppose all 3 of us need metal. There's $100 back to you. This is what kept you employed, allowed you to purchase some engineering services, and now you have $100, so you pay $20 in taxes and the cycle continues. The money doesn't disappear. It circulates.

The problem comes in when super rich people instead decide to sit on the money. They have so much they aren't inclined to spend. So when you buy a service from them they just stuff it under their mattress. The circulation ends and you and I lose our jobs. That's why it's better to get money in the hands of the poor because when they get it they spend it, which actually leads to jobs. I had linked to an article a while back about how really the poor are the job creators. They spend a larger share of the money they make than the rich, and it is this demand for products that drives our economy, not the rich man with money stuffed in his mattress.

Chad said...

I get how it works, but am questioning why public employees pay income taxes. The USPS can and does exchange dollars for a service so they act like a business. Firefighters and most other government employees don't even have a POS to collect money for a specific service - thats we're I was going - minus the USPS gov't/public employees are paid an income from the taxes collected - how can that money be taxed again is my question.

The rich spend a proportiontly much higher amount in physical dollars then we do Jon. They just happen to have earned more than they basically can spend and good for them. When they go to dinner they might blow $500 - which might be like you and I paying $1 for the same meal - it doesn't hurt them and it is such a small portion of their earnings.

We are in agreement that having that money on the sideline sucks - difference being our philosophy on how to get that money back in the game.

Jon said...

The rich spend a proportiontly much higher amount in physical dollars then we do Jon.

Of course the rich do not spend more proportionally. They spend more in total, but not proportionally. Maybe that is what you meant.