Taxation, the Economy, Equality, and Fiscal Policy

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Blithe, Jul 13, 2009.

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  1. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    He understands it perfectly well. But he didn't make his comments out of the blue.

    He made it in rebuttal to your false claim that directing tax cuts towards the rich would result in a significant boost in venture capital for new, important start-ups. As he pointed out, that's not true. Now that we all acknowledge that, do you have some other reason why it would make sense to direct tax cuts towards the rich? Again, what is your rationale for wanting to do this? What are you trying to accomplish? The first part of establishing whether something is a good policy is looking at whether it even does the job you created it for. That sort of implies you have a goal in the first place. So then?
  2. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    It's not their money because the law says that it isn't. And until the law changes, it's not going to be their money.
  3. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I'm sorry, but I find that comment to be extremely troubling. Since when was private property defined by what the law said that people could keep? When did we eliminate the right to property in this country?

    That money is their property, and last I checked the Constitution prohibited the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. The right to property also is protected against violation except through due process.

    Your attitude that it's not their money because the law says that it isn't seems to fly in the face of the plain text of the Constitution. Yes, the Constitution allows the government to tax income, but that doesn't mean that the government can just take whatever part of someone's income they want. By your reasoning, there would be nothing wrong with the government taxing everyone at 100% (which would result in the complete destruction of the right to property).

    Probably the most troubling aspect of your comment is that it treats the money as the government's by right, instead of being the people's money that the government is merely a steward over. The government has no right to anything. It has only the powers granted to it by the People.

    Kimball Kinnison
  4. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I would've been less blunt than Alpha-Red, but it's basically true.

    The Constitution is law, the supreme law in our land, but still law. The Constitution says we have a right to property, but federal and state laws defines exactly what property is. And the power behind the "right to property" itself comes from law. Property is an abstract, human-constructed concept, and meant to be defined by law.

    Government goes through due process to take property without just compensation all the time, it's called Taxation, which government is definitely given the constitutional power to do. And the people have chosen, consistently over the decades and centuries, to delegate more power to the government as part of our constantly-evolving social contract. Sometimes it decreases a bit, but the overall trend is clear. Not saying this is good or bad, just saying this is fact.

    Lastly, there is a difference between "legally right" and "morally right," two separate concepts which you seem to conflate in that post. It's better to make the moral argument here, there really isn't much of a legal argument.
  5. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    No, our rights come from our Creator, not the law. If they come from the law, then some other law can take them away.

    And if you want to talk about the Constitution, then answer this: Where in the Constitution does it authorize the Department of Education or the Department of Housing and Urban Development?
  6. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Since we allowed groups like the RIAA, MPAA, and every other corporate sponsor the ability to dictate national policy.

    Edit: Actually it happened much earlier than that with RCA. So around the late 1940's to early 1950's. Thank you, and have a nice day.
  7. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    Did you write the music? Did you write the lryics? No to both. Ok you may own the CD but that's where it ends. Not ever band or singer is on the same level as U2, Green Day, or Madonna.

    Many of them are luck to even make back the money that they put out to make there CD that's why they tour and sell shirts, and other stuff. So yeah it's there money.
  8. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Fine. "Our Creator" also acknowledges the right of the government to tax people. Render unto Caesar?

    As for there is a Department of Education: Why would it be illegal for the federal government to offer money to the states for certain projects/initiatives? They don't have to take it. And, you know, that's basically all the department does.
  9. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Where in the Constitution, or other federal law, does it say our rights come from our Creator? How do we know they came from our Creator? Who is our Creator? How do we know what rights our Creator has given us?

    The Constitution does not mention the Creator. It does not mention God. It DOES say "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." It DOES say "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

    Our rights come from the law, or they come from our personal moral compass. But morally believing "I have the right to [fill in the blank]" does NOT give it any legal backing. So really we are talking about the law here. You and Kimball may try to persuade us to your views about the "right to property," but it is ultimiately determined by the law.

    I'd rather just stay on this topic, instead of going into the constitutionalty of federal departments, the eternal debate of enumerated and implied powers of Congress, and the long judicial history/evolution of interpretations of the commerce clause, necessary and proper clause, general welfare clause, equal protection clause, procedural and substantive due process, striking down liberty of contract, West Coast Hotel, Carolene Products, etc.
  10. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    The Constitution does not exist in a vacuum. You cannot look at the Constitution without also looking to the other founding documents of this nation, including the Federalist Papers and the Declaration of Independence. Those documents make it explicitly clear that rights are not given by the government, but are preexisting among the People. Governments are instituted to protect those preexisting rights, and that is their only legitimate function.

    When a government becomes destructive to those rights, such as by trying to abridge the right to property, it remains the right of the People to abolish that government and create a new one that protects those rights.

    Or perhaps I should simply use the words of Thomas Jefferson, who put it far better than I can:
    This paragraph is the justification for the very existence of the United States. You cannot examine the Constitution or any law passed under that Constitution without looking at it through the lens of these words.

    Kimball Kinnison
  11. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Morally, I agree that they are pre-existing among the people. That it is just right for people to have protected their life/health, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness, and privacy, among other things it is just right for people to have protected.

    I'm a Christian, but also a secularist and a firm believer in separation of church and state.

    The subjective opinion of morality alone is not enough for it to be law.

    Governments are instituted for the Social Contract, which is constantly changing. You can put your example of the people choosing to abolish a government because it violated their sense of right to property in that perspective, and I think it is better understood through the Social Contract lens. Government is only abolished because the people (in your example) can rebel, feeling it a violation of their social contract. Not because it is a fundamental principle of the universe, but because it's what the people want. Which is not to say if it is right or wrong, that's just the way it works.

    Of course I know the Creator is mentioned by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, you and JediSmuggler were specifically using the Constitution as a source of authority. And you know the Declaration by itself only created context, not law. But if you feel Jefferson's context here is so important, why do you also refuse his letter about a wall of separation between church and state, isn't that also context behind the Founders' mindset? Thought that doesn't matter, since the Supreme Court gets the last word on the law (even if that changes sometimes), and presently they support a separation of church and state.



    This also perfectly fits in with a short section I read a few weeks ago about Immanuel Kant's impact on political philosophy, especially on classical liberalism and modern liberalism in the United States.

    Paraphrasing here from ch.1 of Christopher Simon's Public Policy: Preferences and Outcomes book (2nd edition):

    Kant questioned the metaphysical and religious foundations of political philosophy. He criticizes the notion that through reason we can arrive at the conclusion that there is a Creator. Without a concept of a Creator, the idea of pre-existing natural rights and natural equalty in the "state of nature" (which Locke, the "right to property" advocate, bases his foundations on) becomes highly questionable. Locke's assumptions on the role of government then becomes questionable as well.

    (Locke's theory on the origin of government has also been heavily criticized by historians and anthropologists. "Natural law" was thrown out centuries ago.)

    Kant also shows that individuals have variation in their states and conditions. Without Locke's natural rights and natural law, it appears we do not enter into the social contract as equals, and our existence under the social contract may remain unequal in important ways. (Govermment promoting "Equality of Opportunity," a type of positive freedom, may then be seen as part of the Social Contract.)

    So Kant brings us back to Rousseau, that rights come from human society, not an unproven Creator.

  12. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    However, there's a very key difference between what you're suggesting here, which is the idea that rights belong to the people and it's not what the government grants, but what any government should be forced to respect, and saying that there's a creator involved, which is the issue at hand. It may seem small, but I consider that distinction of great significance.
  13. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Feel free to bring this up every time the U.S. religious right says that "separation of church and state" isn't in the Constitution [face_whistling]
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I'll get to Darth-Ghost's post later, because I am limited in time.
    A lot depends on how you define "Creator".

    By my reading (and from my understanding of Jefferson and Locke), when the Declaration says "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights", it means that they have them as a result of their existence, and that no man-made entity granted them those rights. As a result, no man-made entity has the authority to remove or restrict those rights. It in no way identifies that "Creator" as the Christian God or any other deity.

    Saying that the issue at hand is whether there is a creator involved is erroneous. Darth-Ghost's claim was that "Our rights come from the law", and that was the point that I was refuting. Our rights exist without regard for the existence of the law. The right to freedom of thought (for example) applies just as much to someone in a totalitarian state like North Korea (where "the law" doesn't recognize such a right) as it does in the US. The law exists to protect preexisting rights, not to grant the rights in the first place.

    I'm sorry, but how am I at all responsible for what the Religious Right says or does? I have nothing to do with them. I am responsible for my own arguments only, and I haven't made that argument.

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I don't know where this idea of "it's my money and the government is taking it from me" is coming from. My wife and I have a small business that makes a fairly average amount of money for a small business. We provide a service. It has a value that clients are willing to pay for. We could conceivably barter that value through direct exchange. We provide a service, say, and get a few chickens and 50 ears of corn in return.

    Instead, we exchange contractual consideration with our clients through the medium of money, in two forms primarily: Euros and dollars. For now at least, for a little bit longer, these are great currencies for exchanging value. These currencies of course are entirely created by government. They have value to a large extent because of government monetary policy and the size of our economy, the stability of our society. Virtually every dollar of tax you pay goes at some level to promoting the value of that currency and the stability of the economic system for which it is a medium of exchange. Pull out any significant leg from under that system, whether it's federal highways or the federal reserve or environmental regulation or public education or Medicare or Social Security, and it threatens the stability of the system. Social services for the poor add stability to the system. Food stamps add stability.

    The Federal government has grown in complexity along with the size and complexity of our economy and society because it has had to do it to keep up with the expanding needs of adding stability to the system. Your money is worth zip, your property is worth zippo, without the vast federal governments and state and municipal governments that undergird its value. Stop whining about paying taxes. The rich benefit the most from the federal government and need to put the most in. They're severely underpaying now relative to the value they get out. Fiscal libertarians have their heads stuck so far up their misguided sense of personal independence that they can't even fathom how dependent their success is on their ability to do business on top of some of the most stable and secure real estate on the planet.
  16. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Responsible for them? No. However, I'd be interested to see your response the next time such rhetoric is used.
  17. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Mostly my response to anything the Religious Right says or does is apathy. I spend as much time as I can ignoring them and their comments, because they are usually superfluous to the actual issues at hand.

    Kimball Kinnison
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