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Opening Arguments

Inequality solved

Elect Hillary Clinton 44 or Barack Obama 44, and this is what you'll get, from the likes of Robert Reich, who labored for Bill Clinton 42:

The only way to keep the economy going over the long run is to increase the wages of the bottom two-thirds of Americans. The answer is not to protect jobs through trade protection. That would only drive up the prices of everything purchased from abroad. Most routine jobs are being automated anyway.

A larger earned-income tax credit, financed by a higher marginal income tax on top earners, is required. The tax credit functions like a reverse income tax. Enlarging it would mean giving workers at the bottom a bigger wage supplement, as well as phasing it out at a higher wage.

A "reverse income tax" indeed. At least he's honest about it. This is Robin Hood economics, just naked redistributionism.


Fri, 02/15/2008 - 11:17am

Presumably you object to redistribution on moral grounds, and that's a perfectly rational objection. I wonder what you think about its overall effectiveness.

In other words, from a utilitarian perspective, is such a plan likely to increase the general well-being in the country; perhaps allowing those whose money was immorally redistributed to make even more money than they would have otherwise due to the increased potential of the U.S. economy created through the redistribution?

Fri, 02/15/2008 - 11:24am

Gee, I don't know, Leo, maybe we could ask Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to weigh in on this idea. Oh, wait, what would they know about wealth and its effect on the overall economic well-being of the country? I'm sure you are better qualified to comment.

Fri, 02/15/2008 - 12:46pm

Both Gates and Buffett were strongly against the Bush tax cuts for the rich. They said that while as wealthy people they stood to benefit significantly in the short term, they would pay heavily in the long term because it would harm the economy. They argued that the money wouldn't trickle down and stimulate consumer spending where it was needed; it would be played on the stock market, simply changing hands amongst the rich. George Soros, another one of the world's wealthiest men, was willing to spend billions of his own to try to unseat Bush in '04 for the very same reasons.

Soros has argued for years that the gospel of unregulated free market capitalism is a fool's religion; that left unchecked, big business doesn't act in its own or anyone else's best interests and by its own short-sightedness and greed will destroy itself. Witness the mortgage industry and the consequences of its recent self-destructive binge.

Such Bolsheviks, those three wealthy guys, eh Leo?

A J Bogle
Fri, 02/15/2008 - 12:59pm

So upward redistribution of wealth as we have it today is good, but shared prosperity is bad in Leo's eyes

Alex is right on the money here.

The Bush tax cuts, unfettered free marketeering and its cousin unfettered "free" trade have got us into this mess, that only a new NEw Deal will be able to get us out of.

mark garvin
Fri, 02/15/2008 - 1:12pm

Hey Alex. all three of those wealthy guys are free to act in accord with their supposed belief by sending more in. So far, they seem to have mustered the courage to ignore their convictions.

Sun, 02/17/2008 - 11:22pm

JoeReckless posted this on LSU's Tiger Forum:

A young woman was finishing her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat and was very much in favor of the "redistribution of wealth."

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"

She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her father then asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair! I have worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican Party."

tim zank
Mon, 02/18/2008 - 9:06am

Gadfly, that's a perfect illustration isn't it? I often wonder why "enlightened" folks such as Alex, AJ, & CED cannot point to a historical reference (besides maybe robinhood, ha!) where wealth redistribution has been a success.

For a recent reference, one need look no further than the old "new deal". The last thing we need now is a "new" new deal.

Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:17pm

Why? Because "wealth redistribtion" is your bugaboo, your buzzword, your red herring. I cannot point to an example of where it has or hasn't worked because there are none. Neither can you, Tim.

tim zank
Mon, 02/18/2008 - 1:12pm

Seems to me Russia and China would the first two to come to mind. Those have worked out well.

Mon, 02/18/2008 - 6:02pm

Those two worked out so well, in fact, that they now have capitalist economies.

But back to this "wealth redistribution" thing. The Soviets imprisoned and/or executed the ruling class, first at home, then in repeated militaristic power grabs in other nations over several decades, and the wealth of the conquered was confiscated by the state. Sorry Tim, sorry Leo, but that's just not the same thing as taxation, and you cheapen your position when you make allusions to Russia and China the same way Fort Wayne smokers cheapen their position when they compare city council members to Hitler.

tim zank
Mon, 02/18/2008 - 8:14pm

Alex, I don't care how you phrase it, or frame it. Taking money from the rich to give to the poor (wealth redistribution) whether by tax or by gunpoint is patently unfair, unjust and absolutely un-American.

It's one thing to help someone out when they are struggling, it's quite another to have your government simply confiscate your income to help whomever they perceive is struggling.

Larry Morris
Mon, 02/18/2008 - 9:03pm

People who are for taxation as a form of wealth redistribution are usually those who don't have much to lose, ...

tim zank
Mon, 02/18/2008 - 9:07pm

And another thing, in r/e "George Soros, another one of the world

Michael B-P
Tue, 02/19/2008 - 2:19pm

In reference to Tim Zanks 3rd posting on 02/18 on this topic: An old saying in my family is, ""It's your patriotic duty to fight the S.O.B.s." This was usually intoned in reference to the government and in no small measure because they were seen as agents of confiscation. To be sure, wealth "redistribution" (through taxation or outright expropriation) has always been a function of government, whether from the rich to the poor or the other way around; furthermore, it requires some degree of intimidation in order to be effective. Isn't the real AMERICAN question whether it is accomplished through representation or in disregard of the people's will?