no third solution

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On Moot Points: “47%” and the Romney Campaign

September 20th, 2012

I know Mitt made a foot-in-mouth statement about the “47%”, something that goes like this:

There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement … And they will vote for [Obama] no matter what …

The liberal faction of the mainstream media has a hard-on over this statement like it’s the writing on the wall, the beginning of the end for the Romney campaign. Even though his base – and that 47% is represented largely by southern “Red” states, I don’t think this really matters to them, and consequently to his campaign.

Taxes by state, percent of non-payers

You have to ask yourself do they give a shit? and more importantly do they even know or understand the difference?

Probably not, to both questions. I’d wager most people with zero tax liability still think they’re getting ripped off by The Man (and to an extent they are, but that’s a topic for another discussion). And the vast majority of people — no matter their party affiliation — are dangerously uninformed on matters of economic principles. They would be shocked, as I suspect Romney would also be, to learn that despite the argument that “the rich pay almost all of the taxes” (which is nominally true), that “the rich” are far greater beneficiaries of (corporate) welfare and redistribution than are the working poor.

Also, there’s the pesky fact that the 47% is basically bullshit.

At the end of the day, whether Mitt implodes doesn’t matter. In the charade of “election year politics” and the quadrennial popularity contest that elects the President, it does. But the point is that doesn’t matter. At all. In the grand scheme of things, your corporate masters don’t care whether you pick Obama or Romney as long as you pick Obama or Romney.

In Favor of Free Markets: Freedom as an End in Itself

April 14th, 2011

It’s often argued that eliminating such-and-such a federal department will make us richer. Or that removing this-and-that tax burden will let us keep more of our paychecks. You’ve heard it before. It goes something like this:

If we get rid of the onerous taxes on the middle class, the regressive taxes that disadvantage the poor, the myriad regulations which hamstring businesses (the right-libertarian does not qualify, but the left-libertarian will probably refine the definition to include “small business, cooperatives, etc. in lieu of capital-intensive, oligopolistic industry) we’ll all be richer.

Depending on the degree of “libertarian” you’re dealing with they may add optional conditions like:

And just for Karma points, let’s stop dropping bombs on kids in Pakistan and funding death squads in South America, and you know what else, it doesn’t really matter if we put another man on the moon…

I’m with you so far [1].  But the argument concludes that we just axe all this stuff and your net income goes up, voila you are richer and then this becomes some sort of justification for the “free market”.

Wrong.

If you are going to be better-off in a free market, it’s not simply because you’ll be “earning more money”.

It ain’t about that 10% or 20% that Uncle Sam takes out of your paycheck every week.

Your nominally “higher” income isn’t going to matter much [2]. There will certainly be discomfort in the short- to medium-term as generations of capital misallocation are revealed all at once. But prices, like water, eventually find their level. So, the fact that you might have “more” money is probably not going to matter.

Nor is it about the paltry few cents that you pay for dozens of programs you probably vociferously oppose, (e.g., public health clinics, welfare for displaced/redundant labor force, mass transit, free birth control for high school kids or low-income people, crappy artwork in public places, etc.) but in the grand scheme of things don’t amount to a hill of beans.

If your primary objection is that the government is ripping you off a few cents on every dollar that you earn, if your strongest talking point is simply, “Well, we could all be richer”, don’t act surprised when people look at you like some bougie sonofabitch who’s just using the rhetoric of “liberty” in order to appeal to that me-vs-the-world selfishness with which you’ve been indoctrinated since kindergarten.

So this is a terrible argument: not only is it objectively incorrect, but it relies on gross exaggerations (if we stopped paying welfare – of course without examining or addressing the root causes of the poverty in society, we’d be richer!), and also because it espouses the very worst aspects of consumerism.

What matters in a free market is the opportunities which freedom presents.

In my estimation it is these intangible effects of such a shake-up that will really improve everyone’s lot in the long-run.

Deep down inside I’d like to believe that we all want freedom, security, a modicum of material comfort, leisure time to spend recreating and enjoying with our friends and families. Money-blind, though, so many have been brainwashed in to believing that these “luxuries” can only be purchased, and the price is perpetual labor & toil to make ends meet and provide for the occasional escape. But that ain’t freedom, and it ain’t security[3] either.  It’s a very, very poor substitute at best.

Imagine the freedom to enjoy your life. Real equality of opportunity. The wherewithal to carve your own destiny, rather than trying desperately scrambling to fit perfectly in to some cookie-cutter pre-fab box that’s been forced in front of you like you’re the next interchangeable and totally replaceable piece rolling down the assembly line of life. And if everyone else could do the same? especially if the poorest & least-fortunate among us could substantially improve their lots as well?

The most important part about a free market is not that you will make more money (because you probably won’t, but that won’t even matter!). It’s the freedom, stupid! It’s working within a society, shaping those institutions which foster the freedom, security and well-being which is what we all really want (not that bullshit illusion of prosperity known as “The American DreamTM“); a world where it doesn’t take 50+ hours of nose-to-the-grindstone or mind-numbing, paper-pushing, rubber-fucking-stamping “labor” to provide for your family, all the while barely making ends meet.

You can’t buy freedom. And you can’t really replace it.  Understand that freedom contributes to real wealth, not the other way around, and that we need to be working towards freedom as an end in itself and not towards monetary wealth as some proxy or substitute for what we really deserve.

1. Setting aside the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing arguments, of course, viz., some advocate policy with sleight of hand that really means, “Lower taxes for me, but not for thee!” in a close-minded zero-sum mentality; they just want a bigger piece of the pie and they are not at all interested in making that pie bigger. It’s easier to just take someone else’s.

2. Prices (including the price of labor, a/k/a “wages”) might rise because of the psychic effect of “more money”. But they might fall as barriers to entry, previously enshrined in law & tax code, have been removed, and competition prevails.

3. I can’t help but recall Franklin’s famous quote about those who would trade liberty for security. Right now it seems we’ve done just that. And if you look around at the jobless rates or the foreclosures or the number of people on this earth who are starving or living on $2/day or less, well it’s hard to argue that anyone is really very “secure”, either.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics