How worried all these poor rich jerks look! Obama’s gonna slightly increase their crushing tax burdens! Original article here.
A quick reality check, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:
- Fewer than 2.4% of all U.S. households have a combined income of more than $250,000.
- Fewer than 1% of single moms earn more than $200,000.
- Fewer than 2.5% of retirement aged households earn more than $180,000.
- Fewer than 0.5% of single women (living alone) earn more than $200,000 (which is both interesting and sad).
- $650,000 is so high and represents such a tiny percentage of the population that they don’t even put it in their spreadsheets, usually topping out around the 200-250 range.
I recommend listening to Harry Shearer’s interview with economist Dr Stephanie Kelton, about the US deficit and national debt problems, but here is a representative excerpt:
HARRY SHEARER: We hear the United States government, especially during the election campaign, being compared to two different entities – to a household and to Greece. Might you explain why the U.S. economy does or doesn’t resemble a household in America and/or Greece?
STEPHANIE KELTON: Sure. I would be very happy to. If I could dispel and disabuse people of these two myths, we would have an entirely different national conversation.
So, first the household debt analogy. This is a really powerful one. And the finances that most people are familiar with, of course, are their own personal finances. And so I think it resonates with them when they hear people make the argument that the federal government faces the same kinds of constraints that you and I face, that we have to tighten our belts when times get tough, and the federal government should do the same thing. And the person who really I think hammered this home so was Ross Perot with his little charts and his feisty little attitude, you know, telling the American people that we’re on the verge of bankruptcy in this nation and if he ran his business the way the government runs its operations, why, he’d be broke, and all this. So that’s where that really, really comes from. And today, you know, it’s the Peterson – Pete Peterson and his ilk that are pushing this.
So ask yourself, what is the difference? Why is it that a household has to live within its means? Why is it that a household can only borrow so much before it runs into possibly a situation where a bill comes due and the household can’t pay? Why is it that businesses sometimes go bankrupt? Why is it that state governments or, you know, Orange County – why is it that some of these folks can actually go bankrupt?
The fundamental difference between a household, a business, a state or a local government and the U.S. federal government is that the U.S. federal government is the issuer of the currency, and everybody else that I mentioned is merely the user of the currency. We all have to go out and get the dollar in order to spend the dollar. We either have to earn it, we have to borrow it, we make investments, we may have interest income – whatever, but we have to come up with the currency from some source.
The U.S. government in contrast is the source of the currency, right? The U.S. dollar comes from the U.S. government. Congress has given itself a monopoly over the issuance of the U.S. dollar. If you and I try to do it, we go to jail. It’s called counterfeiting, right? But the U.S. government has the monopoly right to create the currency. And as the issuer of the currency, it can, as Alan Greenspan has said, as Ben Bernanke has said, it can never run out, it can never go broke, and it can never be forced to miss a payment.
Greece, you asked about Greece.
HARRY SHEARER: Mhmm.
STEPHANIE KELTON: So this is a very interesting, a very interesting example. Because what you have in Europe is, you know, this collection of countries that decided at various points in time – not everybody adopted the euro at the same time – but they all decided to give up their individual sovereign currencies. Eleven of them did this in 1999 and then gradually six more countries joined, so today there are seventeen. But all of these countries used to have a currency that came from them. The lira –
HARRY SHEARER: The franc, the lira –
STEPHANIE KELTON: Right! Right. Right. And today they have this currency that they can’t issue. And in order to spend they have to go out and get the currency from somebody else. And so you look at Italy, that today has a debt-to-GDP ratio that is almost exactly where it was 15 years ago, only 15 years ago you didn’t have a debt crisis and today you do. What’s the difference? How come they could always pay before? Same debt load. And the difference is because they had promised to pay lira, and the lira came from the Italian government.
Same for Greece. High debt is not something entirely new to Greece, but it was always sustainable before because the debt was denominated in the drachma, and they could always come up with the currency when they needed to make a payment.
If I’m understanding Dr Kelton correctly, she is saying that the USA has the power to repair some of its financial woes, not by cutting spending or raising taxes (although the later makes sense), but by simply issuing more money to itself. The only obvious risks in doing this appear to be inflation (which is fairly low right now such that an increase would be manageable) along with a reduction in the exchange rate, something that happens anyway when your economy goes down the toilet (and such an adjustment causes your imports to go down and your exports to go up, which itself helps to address a deficit). Since the bulk of US debt is in fact in US currency, issuing more would reduce it regardless of exchange rates.
Listening to this interview really made me wish I had studied economics (because it just sounds too simple), but I do suspect the UK may have dodged a bullet in holding on to its sovereign currency instead of adopting the Euro.
For giving Barack Obama for a second term, as almost the entire world was really hoping you would. Honestly, we would have thought so much less of you if you’d voted in that other lying sack of shit.
Congratulations on four more years of not-actively-working-to-bring-about-armageddon-for-the-most-part!
Australian prime minister Julia Gillard may have just made the most memorable speech of her career, as she smacked down Tony Abbott, smirking shithead and leader of the (conservative) opposition. I’m seeing positive references to this pop up all over the world, and can only imagine his fury at being called out like this.
She artfully ties him to radio asshole Alan Jones as well as to his own bullyboy past and less than stellar record on women’s issues. Watching that smug grin of his evaporate to be replaced by smouldering stink eyes really made my day.
Although I’ve not been particularly enamoured of her leadership so far, having hoped for so much more from the first female, first agnostic and first unmarried Prime Minister, this makes me feel at least a little proud.
Related: Tony Abbott is a lying prick when it comes to anything to do with Australia’s new carbon tax. I only wish we could see him torn to shreds in parliament more often.
A friend of mine has this dumb racist uncle in the US who forwards him various creepy emails about how awful Democrats are, forged birth certificates, seekrit Muslim heritage etc. Here’s a piece most recently sent, I note it shows up around the place in various forms (and is actually refreshingly non-racist):
If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!
If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.
If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended”.
I can’t decide which is sadder: a conservative homosexual “quiety leading his life” or a conservative “deciding” whether he needs health care– does he also get to “decide” whether he needs cancer?
Anyway, I reversed the bullshit polarity so he could send it back as a response:
If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!
If a conservative doesn’t like guns, there must be something wrong with him. What’s not to love about guns!?
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, it’s probably because so many people are killed by them.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, it’s because the doctor warned him his heart would explode if he ate another deep fried waffle burger.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, it’s because he doesn’t like eating meat.
If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life. In the closet. Until he is discovered, whereupon he is shunned by his family and proceeds to shoot himself with his pristine hunting rifle.
If a liberal is homosexual, he doesn’t see why he should have to pretend otherwise.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he blames it on minorities and immigrants and tries to join the minutemen.
A liberal gratefully accepts assistance when he needs it and doesn’t begrudge others who do the same.
If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches to Fox and dashes off some furious and inarticulate hate mail.
Liberals just make fun of them on the internet.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he pretends to believe anyway and desperately hopes no one finds out, because it’s as bad as being gay.
A liberal non-believer, just like a liberal believer, wants a healthy separation between church and state.
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes shopping for it, unless he has a pre-existing condition in which case he’s totally screwed. Then he gets sick and bankrupts his family.
A liberal recognises that everyone needs healthcare, and isn’t too “patriotic” to admit that every other western nation is doing a better job at it than the US.
If a conservative reads this, his big fat racist head will explode.
A liberal will read it but probably won’t forward it because forwarding lazy political humour is obnoxious.
I await the reaction from the aforementioned uncle (I believe the wording was toned down for the last part). I’d like to think of him turning purple at the idea of someone actually responding to his steady stream of toxic propaganda, but in reality he’ll probably just snort derisively and forward another document proving that Barack HUSSEIN Obama was really born in Kenya. To a jackal maybe.
DISCLAIMER: the original wording in the forwarded email was Republican/Democrat but I’ve altered it to reflect the more commonly used conservative/liberal. None of the views represented here are my own. This is all merely hyperbolic political smack talk. In fact I totally love conservatives and would never suggest that they are more racist, sexist, homophobic or intellectually backwards than anyone else.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is going to ‘hang-out’ with some people online, who will ask her three questions which she will pretend to answer in a meaningful way. The questions will be chosen by popular vote on OurSay.
Here’s the leaderboard as it currently stands:
What an embarrassment. The only good question here is the second one, but it’s still poorly worded and nearly crosses a line. The third trips over that line, overloaded with weasel language and so I can’t bring myself to support it (the only reason it made it to the #3 spot is that PZ and friends jumped in, and that fact alone gives her an out, since so many of the votes came from outside Australia).
UPDATE: Her answer to the [crummy] chaplains in schools issue at 51 minutes in:
There’s this thing you’ve probably seen online many times before, where you answer a bunch of questions and get as a result a position on a two-dimensional graph representing your political outlook.
The website explains how awesome this is by pointing out that the traditional left-right spectrum is woefully inadequate and that we therefore require the autho/liber Y-axis to better describe a person’s worldview. I basically agree with this as far as it goes, but the problem is that it still utterly fails to meaningfully capture a person’s position and especially the overall likelihood of them being a total douche you’d like to punch in the face.
This is best exemplified by the site’s own projected plots of existing US presidential candidates:
There’s me for reference down in the bottom left. And look up there clustered together are Romney, Obama, Gingrich and Santorum. Even assuming that their answers on the idiotically worded questions are correctly interpolated– and that may be a long shot– the fact that they appear to be so close together shows that just one extra dimension isn’t enough to be truly meaningful.
After answering the questions I can think of two addtional axes that would easily distinguish these candidates from each other.
- Something like pragmatic/flexible <–> idealistic/stubborn, ie how much you see the world as you think it should be versus how much you see things as they are. In this sense Romney and Obama would still be close, but Santorum and Gingrich would be off the chart in the other direction. I would probably be near the middle for that one.
- reality-based <–> faith-based, in which Obama would be squarely based in the former and the Republicans would again be off the chart in the latter. I would be heavily in the former there obviously….
For the sake of convenience these two additional axes might be able to be combined, as they’re not exactly orthogonal to each other, so we could perhaps settle for just one which might be labelled something like rationalist <–> idealogue.
So I think the political compass needs to be replaced by a political orrery or something, where at minimum we be able to plot people within a three dimensional domain, and while it would still be only a rough guide it would add a dimension that is fast becoming one of the most relevant in the upcoming US presidential election.
* Note that I actually agree with the relative position between myself and Ron Paul, he represents the kind of free-market libertarian I am always bitching about. It’s an interesting linguistic irony that he occupies a spot that might be labelled economic-neo-liberalist but would identify as libertarian, whereas I show up in the social-libertarian quarter but am much more comfortable self-identifying as a liberal. Political terminology can be such a goddamn pain sometimes.
Short answer: I am a grown-up.
A recent comment on this post got me thinking about libertarianism again, and why it bugs me so much. I recalled a thread on Michael Shermer’s blog a long time back in which I was a little more vocal than I normally am on other people’s blogs, so I figured I would just re-state my response here to give you the basic idea of where I stand.
Unless you were educated under a bush, and commuted to work on a bike you made yourself out of bamboo and coconut shells, I think your outlook is totally lacking in appreciation for the way you and everyone you care about have benefited from a society and infrastructure that was largely paid for by “stealing” the wealth of previous generations (and which wealth would otherwise now be concentrated in the hands of offspring who were lucky enough to be born into it I suppose).
It is incredibly unrealistic to argue that we don’t need to pay taxes toward the public good (because we would give money willingly). I don’t want to dick around deciding who is worthy of my support, and I sure as hell hate the idea of *anyone* dying of neglect because no one deemed them worthy of attention. A lot of people are rather selfish and would rather not give anything at all. A lot of people are racist and would refuse to allow money to assist minorities they despise. And if raising funds for public works were become a popularity/PR exercise they risk becoming disconnected from actual needs and benefits.
I feel sorry for liberals and conservatives alike when people tell them to “love it or leave it”–because everyone has a right to want to change things… but when it comes to libertarians I think this response is quite appropriate; since it really sounds like you resent having any obligations placed on you as a citizen, surely you would be happier going Galt and living on an island somewhere with like-minded friends.
It’s worth a look if you have a lot of time to kill and want to see some interesting arguments from different perspectives (including the libertarian socialist one).
The fact that libertarianism is so popular amongst skeptics is probably why it bugs me so much. I see a lot of myself in these people so it creeps me out when they decide that tax is theft and the only duty of government is as police force. Give me the frikkin nanny state over that any day…
Geoff Lemon on the Heathen Scripture Blog reponds to the insanely stupid media coverage of the Australian carbon tax “debate” …
So let’s never hear any talk of ABC bias ever again, because the Sun has well and truly picked its horse on this one. Any online article on the tax was headlined by a video of the lovely Andrew Bolt, telling us it was “the greatest act of national suicide we’ve ever seen.” Funny, I thought that was when they gave him a TV show. There was also a great line about “so-called solar energy” – because now solar energy is just a theory too. Like gravity, or Adelaide.
Please go read the whole piece, it’s the most satisfying rant I’ve read in ages.
Update: I’ve posted the entire article after the fold as it appears the blog may have been suspended…
Although I like the idea of an Obamalanch, I predict, based on no real knowledge or expertise, that Dems will take exactly the 311 electoral votes estimated here. It doesn’t seem so hard to believe they will win if even after every single "toss-up" state is given to McCain they still have the numbers.
After McCain loses I think it would be nice for him to reclaim some dignity by apologizing for running such a slimy turd of a campaign, but something tells me he won’t. There’ll be lots of whining on the Repooplican side about how the liberal media didn’t let them get their message out (but strangely they had plenty of opportunity to talk about Ayers and ACORN) and then they will commence to tear each other to pieces, which will be a true joy to behold.
I hope they decide to nominate Palin in 2012 too, because it would confirm my suspicions that they are morally bankrupt and stupid enough to retreat into their fanatically xenophobic Christian God-fearin’ base.
The whole world wants you to vote Obama, and if you do they will love you for it. Seriously we are wanting to like the US again, but the last 8 years has rather strained the relationship. If you’re one of those I-won’t-listen-to-foreigners-because-no-one-tells-Americans-what-to-do kind of people then you’re probably exactly the sort of shithead who would vote for McCain anyway, so what I say will make no difference.
Californians, go vote NO on Proposition 8 while you’re at it :)
Funny, I haven’t seen too many rallies where Obama encourages derision for his opposition. What better than to see McCain fuck up while pandering to those remaining parochial assholes who still support him.
(alternative title for this post: Michael Scott for president!)
I know this is hardly an original thought but it bears repeating. Can you imagine him at the table as POTUS negotiating some kind of international accord and blinking like crazy as he plans the next thing he’s going to say without paying attention to the conversation at hand? What a douche. He looked as if his head was going to explode for half of the last debate.
I am so looking forward to:
- Obama winning the election. There will be a sigh of relief across the world when this happens, because almost everyone outside of the US has always hated Bush as much as Americans finally seem to now (it sure took you all long enough)
- The ignominious self-destruction of the Republican party as they all totally lose it blaming the crap out of each other, the media and the American people.
- The fact that Republicans could lose to a black guy with a Muslim sounding name– it’s like a total repudiation of the xenophobia they have fomented over the last eight years.
- Political speeches where your president doesn’t feel obliged to point out that the US is unequivocally the greatest, free-est, best-est country in the world– that’s really insulting to ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD in case you hadn’t realized.
- The word elite losing some of its pejorative sting. It’s good to be elite… duh!
- Knowing that the person with the power to command a nuclear arsenal can also remember how to pronounce it (haha I’m being an elitist!)
- Simply knowing that the hideous Sarah Palin is NOT a mere heartbeat away from becoming President.
So I guess there will be egg on my face if McCain somehow wins from this position, but if he does then my embarrassment at being wrong will be the least of my concerns.