Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Moral Arbiters: Who is more Righteous?

This post just keeps giving... MinnPost SCOTUS Ruling
"I think most people are somewhat fiscally Conservative, so if the GOP can stop the anti-LGBT rhetoric and contain their pro-Life comments, I think the 2016 election cycle could be really good for the GOP." G2A

"Conservatives have no qualms about spending money, so lets dispense with that myth right there. The fact is that the GOP has positioned itself as the moral arbiter of this country and I don't see them abandoning that tactic anytime soon. I think the GOP loses and loses BIG in 2016." Jason

"I think both the Left and Right enjoy using the government to force their morals on others. 
The Left seeks to rob from the rich and middle class to give to the poor. They have decided that it is okay for a Mother to stop their baby's heart beat for most any reason. They have decided that the Teacher's wants are more important than the needs of the unlucky students. 
The Right seeks to stifle LGBT behavior and abortions. The right deems that personal property rights are more important than societal property rights. 
It will be interesting to see what happens in ~17 months." G2A
Thoughts?

27 comments:

Sean said...

No one is more righteous. We are all sinners and every political movement is inherently hypocritical at some level.

John said...

Alleluia Brother !!!!

Anonymous said...

The Left seeks to rob from the rich and middle class to give to the poor.

Morality aside, do you think that's good policy?

==Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

A lot of symptoms, here, of the basic quandaries of organizing a civil society based on individual freedom and the rule of law. My take on it is as John Adams stated: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Therefore, the Republican/conservative approach of "imposing" morality is better than the fractured state of the liberal "freedom=licentiousness" argument. That is, a matter of fixed standards of behavior rather than a relative morality. I believe that a politician who actually (and credibly) STANDS for something, and can communicate that in common, simple terms, has an excellent chance at electoral success. Too bad it is so rare.

Anonymous said...

But let's keep in mind that when the Constitution was drafted, Adams was nowhere near Philadelphia at time. And many of the people who were a part of the convention weren't particularly religious, or for that matter, weren't particularly moral.

Looking at the document itself, one is hard pressed to find any moral issues addressed, one way or another. That's of course, apart from the issue of slavery, the single greatest moral failing imaginable, and one ultimately led to the collapse of the constitutional system seven decades later.

Politicians who stand things have the possibility of electoral success, but then so do those who don't. It's also worth noting that standing for things is itself morally neutral. Some politicians have been quite successful standing forthrightly and even couragiously standing for some very bad things.

--Hiram

Laurie said...

democratically determined progressive taxation is not equivalent to robbing. If one looks at the flow of money over the past 20 years a stronger case could be made that the 1% are robbing from the rest of us.

also, given the slate of GOP presidential candidates Hillary should have no problem winning in 2016. Bush, the most likely candidate, would have the best chance of beating her.

John said...

Laurie,
The "as is" state is not the question. The point is that the "Holier than thou" Liberals continue to preach greater progressivity, more freebies to the poor and/or unmotivated, etc as the virtuous path to enlightenment and salvation.

They label Conservatives and the "Evil Rich" as the selfish, uncaring and immoral who will go to hell if they do not mend their evil ways.

John said...

Now let's try this again:
- Did Walmart rob from you by giving low price product and services?
- Did Bill Gates and Microsoft rob from you by enabling huge productivity gains in the world?
- Did that silly Facebook guy rob from you?
- Did the guy who provided you with a home mortgage at market rates rob from you?

Laurie said...

Now let's try this again:
Do the six Waltons deserve $148.8 billion? Do three Waltons deserve $3.16 billion in Walmart dividends this year. Do their employee's deserve to earn only $8 / hour. Is our form of capitalism the perfect economic system?

You were the one who used the word rob to describe progressive taxation. I believe it applies more appropriately to a situation in which an employer makes 60,000 times more than an employee.

John said...

Now you do understand that the Waltons were paid $3.16 Billion in exchange for keeping the $148.8 Billion invested in Walmart. The $148.8 Billion is part of the capital funds that allow Walmart to build stores, buy equipment and continue operating a company that employees ~2.2 Million employees.

If you had $148.8 Billion dollars invested somewhere, what would you expect to get in return. If the numbers you listed above are correct, dividend is ~2.1%. And I am guessing that is the same rate that every Walmart shareholder got.

Wiki Walmart

John said...

Now I am torn regarding the lower tax rate on Long Term Capital Gains and Dividends, however my Father was explaining how the Alternative Minimum Tax ensured that higher rates are paid by wealthier people... Much to his dismay...

John said...

CNN MONEY AMT
AMT Advisor

John said...

Hiram,
Regarding your question... Is it good policy to use progressive taxation of successful, lucky, wealthy and/or highly motivated citizens to fund giving money, food, housing, healthcare, childcare, education, etc to the unsuccessful, unlucky, poor and/or low motivation citizens?

I think there needs to be some of it to help the truly disabled, however I think many Liberals want to take it much too far. Which increases the risk of some very negative consequences:

- When people do not need to carry the negative consequences of their bad choices, they are more likely to make bad choices. Even the LBJ war on poverty efforts supported the single parent family disaster. Its okay if you get pregnant, Uncle Sam will help pay so you and your child have a home, healthcare, cell phone, food, heat, etc. Go ahead and knock up several baby mamas, no one is going to hold you financially liable.

- When people need to pay 100, 1000 or 10,000 times as much to live in the same country with the same services just because they were financially successful, it has to be somewhat demotivating. And it is likely many are tempted to take their wealth elsewhere.

- The policy trick is to optimize the motivation for each citizen through the use of carrots and sticks. The USA is most successful when every capable citizen is working hard to learn and contribute to our society. We don't need Freeloaders of any income level holding us back in this highly competitive world.

Anonymous said...

- When people do not need to carry the negative consequences of their bad choices, they are more likely to make bad choices

One thing liberalism does is to give people the opportunity to make good choices. Health insurance for example. Obamacare gives people the choice to buy health insurance they otherwise couldn't afford.

But one of the basic problems in our system, is that it insulates too many people from the consequences of their bad choices. American's bankers nearly destroyed the economy in 2008. Yet did any of them go to jail? The consequences of their bad choices fell to the American people who did nothing wrong.

I don't know where all this carront and stick stuff comes from. Did too many of us read BF Skinner in high school? The fact is, incentives aren't all that effective or controllable. Among other things, we have created incentives for Wall Street bankers to do things that are personally advantageous to themselves, yet ruinous to to the rest of us. How do we respond to that? By electing Jeb Bush whose family has always been in the pay of Wall Street? By electing Hillary Clinton who has always been open to accepting their six figure speaking fees so that bankers can have the profound benefit of her wisdom on the great issues of the day?

==Hiram

John said...

Please note that entitlements and welfare make ~49% of the total US government spend. (>$3 Trillion per year...) And account for almost all the massive growth in Government spend since 1960.

Since the "quality of life" for every citizen in the USA rests on us being more competitive, effective and productive than the other countries and their citizens, I sure hope we are getting something for the $3 Trillion per year. If it is just enabling people to ride in the wagon instead of help pull, we are headed for real problems.

As for the 2008 meltdown, I realize that you are certain it was just the bankers, but we know it was much more complicated than that and that many people paid a role in the disaster. Crisis of Credit

John said...

By the way, the "good choice" would be for people to continue to improve their knowledge, skills, communication capability, etc so that they could get a higher paying job and buy their own non-subsidized health insurance. Another good choice would be to live healthier. (ie diet, exercise, etc)

Just getting insurance paid for by other tax payers may help a little, but it is quite the baby step. And since it is taking money/motivation from someone else, the net benefit is likely pretty small.

Laurie said...

you seem to have no problem, John, with the grotesque wealth the Waltons hoard compared to paying their workers more. Here is a bit more info on how the economy has changed over the last 30 years to benefit the rich: (Think Progress)

"More subtly, Bush’s comments paper over an extreme shift in corporate priorities that has enriched a relative handful of people – mostly investors, Wall Street advisers, and CEOs – at the expense of frontline workers. Working people now take home the lowest share of total corporate income that’s been recorded since 1950. After hovering between 78 and 84 percent for decades, labor’s share of overall income in the corporate sector dropped to 74 percent last year. It’s a small difference in percentage terms, but that slide reflects billions of dollars that once went to workers and now go to profits.

CEOs have been shifting income from their workers to themselves and their shareholders in increasingly aggressive ways over the past few decades. The government has helped by subsidizing executive pay through the tax code.

Corporate America’s increased desire to appease shareholders and squeeze workers is one of the primary drivers of the explosion in income inequality that began in the Reagan years. That inequality has gotten so severe that it threatens the fabric of American democracy, according to a commission of experts convened by the Center for American Progress last year that recommended a slate of policies to change the incentives that corporations respond to in making these kinds of decisions."

So what do you think, did American capitalism work better in the 60's? If workers made $20 an hour they wouldn't need subsidized healthcare, housing, food, or childcare.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, you seem to be basing your belief in fantasy. The fact is that, as JFK famously said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." That is, in times of economic growth EVERYBODY does better, and in times of economic retraction, such as under Obamanomics, income inequality grows WORSE. Recent studies confirm it once again. And it simply doesn't make any sense to say that rich people somehow accumulated their wealth by "robbing the poor." As for progressive taxes being the answer, since taxes were lowered under Bush, the rich now pay a LARGER portion of total taxes than before.

So, back to the original question. Is not the rich person who gives to the poor, or even spends it on things the poor supply, more righteous than the liberal who demands government to take from the rich that which was rightly earned and give it (supposedly) to one who did not? Isn't a Robin Hood just a Robbin' Hood?

John said...

Laurie,
It is an interesting article though I think they have their causation all wrong.

"After charting nearly identical growth trajectories for decades after World War II, productivity growth and wage growth unlinked in the mid-1970s. Productivity has more than doubled in those past 35 years, while wages have grown by roughly 13 percent."

The mid-1970's is when the American consumers stopped wanting to pay extra for "American / Union Made". (ie higher cost, lower quality, fewer features, less performance, etc)
Trade Deficit by Year

So labor rates had to become more globally competitive or more jobs would have gone overseas. Please remember that if no ones wants to pay for the higher cost American Made Union product, the company is forced to move the work elsewhere or go bankrupt. So the unions and minimum wage arguments are only half correct, if they had stayed strong/high, wages would have been higher for some but there would be many fewer jobs. People with savings are not impacted in the same way, they can invest all around the world.

John said...

The only reason Public Unions are still strong is because us consumers do not "buy their product or service" directly out of our personal checkbooks. If we did, they would have been decimated also.

Ironically the extra costs, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness caused by the Public Employee Unions is one of the reasons our taxes are as high as they are. Which is part of why American employees see less of their paychecks.

jerrye92002 said...

John, that's a brilliant observation about the "decoupling" of wages and productivity. I had not thought about "cheap foreign labor" being the contributing factor; I had always assumed it was "expensive domestic capital" causing the problem. That is, productivity improves by way of capital investment, allowing wages to go up because each worker produces more widgets/hour. Tax capital and the amount of investment drops, leading to less productivity gain, leading to slower wage growth. Lower capital costs in foreign countries probably also contributes.

I've seen several examples of where "cheap foreign labor" simply couldn't compete with capital-enhanced American workers, and other examples of the reverse, like the US Steel industry, that the unions killed.

John said...

The companies I have worked for would much prefer having domestic employees and producing in the market they will sell the product in... It would eliminate a lot of logistic and communication headaches. Unfortunately they need to compete head to head with their foreign competitors or the fickle American consumer will bolt.

Imagine if Apple manufactured in the USA, I am pretty sure they would be bankrupt and Samsung would own the smart phone market. It seems to be pretty tough competition as it is.

Laurie said...

It seems to me American companies are making plenty of $ for their top management and shareholders. Some (a lot) of that could be shared with workers. I don't find your rationalization very persuasive.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, it seems to me that American companies are competing for labor, capital and management talent by offering /competitive/ wages, dividends and executive compensation. To be blunt, I don't think you are qualified to say how high or low or "fair" those things should be, in contradiction to the free market.

But let us see. Some Silicon Valley wizard has decided to arbitrarily cap his compensation at, if I recall, $70,000 per year, saying "nobody needs more," and to give EVERY ONE of his employees that same salary. We'll see how long he stays in business.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/seattle-ceo-dan-price-cuts-own-salary-by-90-to-pay-every-worker-at-least-70000-10177261.html

Sean said...

American CEOs make more in raw dollars and in comparison to the median worker than any other industrialized country. Are our CEOs notably better than Gernmay's or Japan's? Perhaps our market is out of whack.

jerrye92002 said...

I agree that CEO pay is "out of whack," partly because it has become untethered from performance. That is, CEOs are rewarded for short-term profits and not dinged for short- or long-term downturns in profit and performance. Too often I have seen high-paid CEOs "run a company into the ground" and walk away rich. Peter Townsend, in "UP the Organization," suggested a far better executive compensation scheme, but American companies are, of course, sort of "locked in" at this point, because almost nobody would want the job without that huge $ sign attached. The other thing arguing against the change is simple math. At large companies, say a $10M CEO with 140,000 employees, dividing it up would mean another $71 a year, hardly a dent in the "fairness" issue, which by the way has nothing to do with the actual value of any job.

John said...

Seattle CEO Cuts His Own Pay