What the frick?!

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Re: What the frick?!

Postby DaCrum » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:07 am

It's almost as if they understand that the government needs money to survive.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby BeeAre » Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:05 am

DaCrum wrote:It's almost as if they understand that the government needs money to survive.


weirdly enough, businesses both want to have all the benefits of a government supporting them but none of the restrictions that are necessary to enforce for the continued well-being of the government, business, and consumers that all interrelate, it's almost like there are competing interests!
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Valhallen » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:26 am

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:I agree that we should dramatically cut spending and attempt to increase revenues, but increasing revenues is heavily determined by the private sector, taxes tend to discourage growth, and a raise of taxes might actually reduce revenues depending on how much money large businesses and corporations are able to make.
Consider the Clinton, Reagan, and other administrations with both higher taxes and better growth than the present.
Consider the 1930's through the 1980's, where taxes were upwards of 70% and we didn't have nearly the growth we did in the following years. We also didn't have the revenues we did before we lowered taxes below 40%.
The Clinton and Reagan administrations served as counterexamples to your general statements, leaving them incorrect or at least not general. However, since you seem to want to pursue it further, let's look at both growth and taxes for every year from 1930 to 2010. The following scatterplot compares the top marginal rate to the annual growth rate for each of those years, based on data from here and here.

Image

Notice that there is an overall positive correlation, meaning that years with higher top rates have also tended to have better growth (averaging about 1% better growth per 18% increase to the top rate for that data, perhaps because that money went to programs that benefitted society more than it would have benefitted the top earners). It's not a particularly strong correlation though, which indicates that the top tax rates on their own don't affect growth very much over the range that they've been implemented. If you want, I can identify different administrations, events, etc. on the graph. So then, do you think that a Clinton-era top rate of 39.6% is on the far side of the Laffer curve? What do you think is the optimal income tax rate at present, and why?

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:Sure, there should theoretically be a disincentive to growth from increasing taxes, but we seem to be quite a ways from the point where that becomes significant (also recall that taxes pay for things that greatly help growth, like functioning infrastructure). With that in mind, remember that the Laffer Curve has both an increasing and a decreasing slope. And that the far side derives from reduced incentive for investment in things subject to tax, not immediately shutting down businesses.
My major concern is what is taxed, and at the rates by which they are taxed.
What would you change from the present, then?

RuffDraft wrote:You're familiar with the "Death Tax," a.k.a. the Federal Estate Tax? A person dies, and their assets are taxed at death?
Actually, it's taxed not at death, but when it is transferred to others. And it's not a tax on death. Calling it a "death tax" was actually a rhetorical tool devised and maintained by people trying to repeal it. Remember what I said earlier about Republicans usually being more effective than Democrats at shaping public perception?
The second article (please do read it) wrote:Yet while few citizens will ever be subject to the estate tax, polls show that nearly 80 percent of Americans support repealing it (at least they do when it's presented as a "death tax").
...Research shows that once voters understand the implications of the estate tax and who pays it, they tend to support the Democratic position.
...The Democrats lack the vocabulary to communicate their message.
So on this issue, those who want to keep it can advance their position by informing people about the facts of the issue, and those who want to repeal it can advance their position by misleadingly calling it a death tax and incorrectly claiming that it is very harmful to farms and small businesses. Consider carefully how you came to your beliefs about the estate tax.

RuffDraft wrote:The IRS claims that it is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death (which, if it's a right, why is it taxed? Doesn't that make it a privilege?).
People have the right to own property, but much of what can be done with it is taxable, like income tax, sales tax, gift tax, capital gains tax, etc. Or property tax, for that matter. The idea is that various taxes provide different economic incentives and fund societal goals because it makes society work better than it would otherwise.

RuffDraft wrote:And then, if the "heir" can't pay the tax, they have to sell some of their property. Unless I'm mistaken, most if not all the items (a nice word that doubles as a term for both Lawyers and Gamers) the "heirs" would have to pay this tax on have already been taxed. Property tax, sales tax, income tax... and the tax includes things like cars, furniture and artwork, business property (machines, inventory, etc), investments (stocks, bonds, etc), most if not all of which have already been taxed in one form or another. Right now, the top marginal taxation on an entire estate is 35%, with the bottom being 10%.
Several issues there. First, there is a distinction between an estate tax, which is paid by the executor of an estate on the estate itself, and an inheritance tax, which is paid by the people who inherit things on what they personally get. The US has an estate tax, so by the time the heirs get stuff, the tax has been paid, unless the heirs want to spread payments over up to 14 years (which would, say, allow the inheritor of a farm without cash to pay with income from running the farm). Second, there's this. Saying that the contents of an estate have already been taxed is missing the point, and in many cases is simply not true. Third, it seems that the IRS has not released the relevant forms for this year, so while the top rate is 35%, the lower bracket rates don't seem to be available. However, they apply only to very large estates - anything smaller is not subject to the estate tax at all (and the heirs do not pay income tax on the inheritance).

RuffDraft wrote:So why does this tax exist? I'm thinking some bureaucrat in the 1930's, brainstorming on solutions to the Great Depression, came up with it on a whim, thinking it would be a great way to squeeze that much more money out of the richer population;
Actually, the modern US estate tax was implemented in the Revenue Act of 1916 to raise revenues as the US was preparing for World War I. The reasoning behind it was more like allowing wealth to accumulate excessively over generations to produce an idle aristocracy is bad for the economy and society*, and money was needed, so best to get two birds with one stone.

*The US is an outlier on that graph, but the US Gini score has been rising lately.

RuffDraft wrote:however, this also affects the poor
Actually, no it doesn't. This year, only estates of $5 million or larger are subject to the estate tax in the US, with a number of credits and exclusions that can more than double the amount not subject to tax. Someone with an estate large enough to be subject to the estate tax is not poor.

RuffDraft wrote:---those that save and invest, those that own small businesses, and those that own farms---farms, which have a lot of assets but generally very little in terms of cash; farms, which would be considered wealthy when you total their overall possessions but probably consider themselves generally poor because at any given time they have to cycle most of the money they make back into the farm. And because of the Estate Tax, supposing some mule kicks Pa in the chest, one of the family members (more'n likely the son) will be listed in the Will as having inherited it all, and will therefore have to then pay around 35% of the total value of the assets involved in the transaction; probably, in order to afford that, he'll end up having to sell a lot of what he has just so he doesn't go in the red.
Ahem. Typical family farms have around a $million or so in assets, well below where the estate tax applies. Further, farms get another $million exempted, so only those worth more than $6 million (if no other exemptions or credits apply, like another $5 million if the farm is owned by a couple) would pay any estate tax. Even further, only the amount above the threshold is taxed, meaning that NO ESTATE pays 35% of the value of the estate in tax. Suppose Pa's farm (which was not owned jointly with his wife, lest the exemption be $11 million) was among the largest few family farms in the country (with probably fewer than 100 subject to any estate tax at all in 2011), with $10 million in assets. $6 million is exempt, so the tax due is $1.4 million, or 14% of the estate (with a flat 35% rate - it's actually less due to the lower brackets). If the son chooses to work the farm, he can pay it over time (this option is also available for other small businesses), averaging $100k a year (plus interest accrued at a rather low rate). So no, that really isn't a serious issue.

RuffDraft wrote:And before you say this was a tangent: it was evidence to a point. When you say "we should raise taxes," you shouldn't just be looking at income tax; you should look at all the others and determine what percentage of someone's overall wealth could be taken by the government given any number of scenarios. In the above example, they've already paid income taxes, they've paid sales tax on anything they bought locally, they pay property tax on anything above a certain value (land, farm equipment, houses, barns, etc.), and now they're being forced to pay 35% of the assets on their farm;
Leaving aside the numbers and how the estate tax applies much more to stock than farms: so? Given the wealth inequality in the US and its increasing trend, the estate tax could use a boost IMO, even apart from budget issues (on that note, recall that the estate tax funds the government - cutting it would increase the deficit).

RuffDraft wrote:the new owner of the farm could potentially end up paying a one-time fee of more than 100% their yearly income in taxes if all the equipment they procured over the years is worth enough.
Except, as that person's income for that year includes the farm itself, it really doesn't (again leaving aside the numbers and applicability to that situation), and it's not required to be a one-time fee. The new owner need not pay at all for 5 years, actually. Have you checked out what the estate tax actually involves?

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:Raising taxes can increase revenues to a point, but because of the uncertainty as to the adverse consequences to raising taxes, it would probably be better to keep them where they are for now;
And what is that point? History indicates that it's quite a bit higher than present rates. Increasing just the top bracket to its Clinton-era rate should go a long way to closing the deficit, and businesses did just fine at that rate in the past. Do you think that, in order to "attempt to raise revenues," any tax rates should be increased? Which bothers you more, the deficit, or raising tax rates to what they were in the Clinton years?
Why can't both of those bother me equally?
They could, at least in principle. However, a number of your statements so far (e.g. "We don't have a taxation problem, we have a spending problem!") indicate that you reeeaaally don't want taxes increased at all, anywhere, even beyond considerations for economic harm (as the economy did just fine under Clinton's rates). Meanwhile, you haven't really said what you'd like done to get rid of the deficit (keep in mind that cutting ALL 2011 discretionary spending including military would not close the deficit). Also keep this in mind when considering the cuts proposed by those who have used such rhetoric. Would you like to hear an explanation of why generally maintaining spending and slightly increasing taxes would probably be better for the current economy than maintaining tax rates and cutting spending to achieve the same deficit reduction?

RuffDraft wrote:Lemme pose something to you:
...
It's the same way this country is being run right now. We're increasing our debt and refusing to do much about cutting spending, and pretty soon, there will be no end. This is what I'm afraid will happen if things continue to progress the way they are, and we just ignore it, thinking that these people know what they're doing and will fix it for us if we give them enough time. We can't keep being this naive.
The specifics of that example are rather questionable, but I get the point. However, there is a very significant difference between your example and the federal budget: Your income is fixed, but the federal government's is not. It usually increases each year as the economy grows, and if extra revenue is needed, taxes can be increased (which has indeed worked in the past). The expected growth of the economy alone is predicted to close most of the current deficit over the next few years.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:Conversely, rhetoric to the extent that the government is less efficient than the private sector full stop is popular these days (like "education, mail, health care; all of these worse in the public sector versus the private sector").
Well of course it's popular. Because it's very true.
So private sector solutions to national defense, law enforcement, and fire protection are more efficient than government solutions?

RuffDraft wrote:Our US Post is essentially bankrupt, while UPS and Federal Express (and others) tend to have tremendous profits.
UPS had $2.15B profits in 2009 from $45.3B revenue. FedEx had $1.2B and $38B. The USPS had an $8.4B loss with $67B in revenue. However, they are not directly comparable, as the USPS delivers standard letters, the volume of which has dropped sharply in recent years. But at any rate, profitability is not the same thing as efficiency. Do you think that UPS or FedEx would be able to do what the USPS does, as efficiently as it does? Keep in mind that the USPS is an independent agency that operates like a business, not a part of the government bureaucracy.

RuffDraft wrote:Our public education system generally sucks, while many private schools provide a very good education.
Remember our conversation about how socioeconomically disadvantaged students tend to do more poorly than wealthier students, and how private schools tend to serve the children of parents wealthy enough to pay? Turns out that, if you account for such things, public and private schools perform pretty similarly. Also, as with the USPS, the comparison to be made is whether the private sector can provide the service currently performed by the government (in this case, universal education, even for poor people) as well. Do you think that it can? Even though education is a textbook example of where a free market would fail to achieve a socially efficient equilibrium due to the large positive externalities involved?

RuffDraft wrote:Our country has some of the best private health care in the world,
Depends on how you measure it. In terms of achievement, it's some of the best, at least for those who can afford it. In terms of cost, it is by far the worst. In terms of cost effectiveness, it's the worst among developed nations. In terms of the overall health of society, it's pretty good, but not the best.

RuffDraft wrote:while many doctors refuse to accept Medicare because of the red tape and price controls.
Does this mean that you think Medicare funding should be increased, or that private health care in practice has downsides compared to government-run health care like the VA system?

RuffDraft wrote:Ayy... I suck at finding accurate sources, don't I?
Not necessarily. That source seems accurate enough, except for calibrating the chart axes. What could use improvement is your analyzing of a source before claiming that it says or implies a particular thing.

RuffDraft wrote:Anyway, I find it hard to accept that the Stimulus did anything worth mentioning.
Why is that? Do you have a theoretical objection to it? I could outline the rationale of it if you want.

RuffDraft wrote:The Stimulus was little more than a bunch of pet projects, originally written bythe Apolo Alliance;
Valhallen, the last time you said that wrote:This is the Apollo Alliance's proposal, and this is the stimulus package. You may notice that the Apollo report is 24 pages of marketing-speak and graphics, while the stimulus bill is 406 pages of legalese.
...
Rather, it was introduced in the House by Dave Obey and the Senate (a somewhat different version) by Harry Reid, the Senate changed a bunch of stuff, and the conference version changed more stuff. So the Apollo Alliance may have helped, but Congress bears responsibility for what actually made it into law.
Why did you repeat the claim without addressing my response?

RuffDraft wrote:it was based off faulty projections; after it passed, unemployment rose above their projections; they made very brash and dubious assumptions about the causes and effects of the projects in the bill...
You criticize that actual unemployment rose above the prediction for no stimulus, therefore the stimulus didn't work? You seem to be relying on the idea that the predicted effects of the stimulus are wrong while the predicted effects of no stimulus were correct, even though they were part of the same model. Sure, the predictions turned out to be low, but it seems that the stimulus did help. And while things may have been overstated to sell the stimulus, the things mentioned in that last link are still worthy goals. The idea of putting them into a stimulus was that, with the recession caused by a financial breakdown and diminishing demand, government projects like those inject money and demand now, where they help address those problems in the economy as a whole. In the meantime, we get investment in infrastructure and science that provide long-term benefits.

RuffDraft wrote:In my eyes, the whole bill was nothing more than a collaborative agenda.
Every US federal budget ever has represented a collaborative agenda. That's what politics does, especially budgets. Do you have any particular claims you'd like to support about what you think the agenda was?

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:It was a bad situation with various unpleasant options available. In this case, money was spent to get the financial system working again and jump-start demand, at the cost of a large deficit that must be brought down once the economy improves. Alternatively, the government could have carried on as usual, not doing TARP, the stimulus, etc.
I question whether we have those exact same conditions now as we did then?
It's obviously not exactly the same, but then no two separate events are. They are similar in certain ways relevant for the cause and fixing of certain kinds of economic trouble. Both involve economic bubbles where the financial system overextended itself. When the bubble popped, financial institutions underwent cascade failures. This messed up the financial system, making it hard for the rest of the economy to conduct business, so trouble spread through the economy, and demand fell. Here is where things diverge.

In the Great Depression, the government didn't do much, allowing many banks to fail (the FDIC did not exist at the time, so such failures meant that clients who didn't pull out early lost everything). That led to difficulty getting loans, shrinking the money supply and causing deflation. That made saving preferable to investing or spending, reducing demand further, and made it harder for those who owed money to pay it back. Tariffs were put in place to protect domestic production, but instead led to breakdown of international trade, harming everyone. GDP fell until the New Deal got going, which provided money and jobs where they had been lacking, getting demand going again. After a few years of strong growth, New Deal programs were cut back to help balance the budget. The associated drop in demand caused a short drop in GDP. Increasing investment associated with the political situation in Europe led to increased growth in the years leading up to World War II.

In the recent recession, banks were bailed out to prevent large cascade failures, and the FDIC increased its coverage to protect confidence in banks. The financial system still took a hard hit, causing problems similar to, though less severe than in the Great depression. To help prevent deflation and maintain demand to keep businesses going through the disrupted period (and in many cases like the US, to get certain projects done that were due anyway), governments around the world implemented stimulus packages. GDP and job growth resumed, though the trend of improvement has slowed as stimulus spending has tapered down before the economy got all the way back to normal.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:Do you remember when the cuts were debated, how concerns were raised that it could lead to large deficits? Because that's where we are now. "Raise taxes bad, lower taxes good," though stupid, seems to have embedded itself in the electorate somehow. A few decades of Republican rhetoric, perhaps?
Or, I dunno, maybe this. Turns out that revenues increased after Bush cut taxes, and that a substantially larger percentage of those taxes were paid by the wealthy. I notice many people who advocate raising taxes ignore that fact. Yet another reason to conclude that we do NOT have a taxation problem, but rather a spending problem. Reduce overall spending and you won't have such a huge problem.
I can critique that article if you want (it makes quite a few misleading arguments), but on topic: Bush's tax cuts lowered all income tax brackets, and the balance was made slightly more progressive (except for the top rate, which received a larger cut than all but the lowest). That the share paid by the wealthy increased despite that indicates that relative income diverged over that time. And as I said earlier, yes, income tax revenue increased after the Bush tax cuts. Several years after, following a large dip. Compare the dip from the Bush tax cuts, which were not largely offset by tax increases elsewhere, with the dip from the Reagan tax cuts, which were. Compare both with the increase in revenue from Clinton's tax increase. Looks like the opposing economists were correct.

Here and elsewhere, you seem to be invoking the "starve the beast" model of budget management. Its implementation over the last decade has been more or less to take a working system (Clinton-era budget policy), argue against "big government" on ideological grounds, cut taxes, run deficits, and claim that due to the deficits programs must now be cut. An examination of the past shows that, no, they wouldn't have to be cut if taxes were brought back to past levels. So the claims that "we don't have a taxation problem, we have a spending problem" are simplistically misleading. It's a cash flow issue with an optimal solution that depends on what is to be accomplished. Consider this.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:Anyway, a little research into Soros reveals that he is a major globalist; he wants things like an international currency, and a central world government.
Did you actually read those? Because they don't support either point there. If evidence you're citing to support the conclusions that Soros wants an international currency and a central world government doesn't actually support those things, it raises serious questions about how you arrived at those conclusions. So, how did you arrive at those conclusions?
Well, first of all, I looked at more than just those few links to make my decision.
What else did you look at, then?

RuffDraft wrote:The above links were the first couple that I pulled from a quick Google search.
Did you read them, though? They really don't say what you said they did.

RuffDraft wrote:And also, you say they don't support my claim that he's a globalist, and from what I can tell, they actually do. The second one is just the author of the blog saying it's a conspiracy theory without providing any evidence that it's wrong; in fact, the thing he quotes actually helps my point.
The first one calls Soros a globalist several times, but never actually gets around to backing it up (it mentions some things that could be construed as globalist if more explanation were given, but it was not). it also seems to have a shaky grasp of what globalism and imperialism are. The second one says that the press release mentioned sounds like it would evoke conspiracy theories, not that such conspiracy theories are correct (and at any rate, the burden of proof is on the conspiracy theorist to demonstrate the conspiracy, contrary to what you said). And like the first one, it involves Soros being called a globalist without much explanation of what he's supposed to have done to merit it. I'll grant, however, that Soros really is a globalist in a certain sense (more of a hippie everyone gets along and works together in peace and love deal), but that's a rather different sense from your statement that "he wants things like an international currency, and a central world government."

RuffDraft wrote:I recall that I linked you to a thing where he said "The United States must stop resisting the orderly decline of the dollar, the coming global currency, and the new world order." From just that line, you can conclude a few things: 1) he believes that it would be in the world's best interest to devalue the dollar;
Which is not actually a line he said, but whatever. About the orderly decline:
Valhallen, earlier when you ignored context wrote:Soros pointed out that with the current economic troubles in the US, a weaker dollar would be expected and not all that undesirable. People save more, spend less, and import less. A declining dollar would help conserve/create domestic jobs as foreign competition becomes effectively more expensive. The orderly decline he's referring to is in contrast to a more sudden prospection-fuelled change, which would change fast enough to cause significant economic disruption. Resisting the "orderly decline" might cause a situation comparable to Black Wednesday if the financial situation does indeed go that way.
Anything else you want to discuss about that?

RuffDraft wrote:2) he anticipates that a global currency is the answer to all of our financial problems;
Except that's not what he said in the video much of this is based on, a shortened version of which is rather more popular on the Internet.

RuffDraft wrote:3) he wants a loosely-defined economic "new world order" that no one seems to know the true identity of;
Valhallen, the last time you brought this up wrote:Except, if you watch the video, by "new world order," he's not referring to what you've been talking about, but a reorganization of global financial markets. As in, China takes a larger role as its economy expands to a larger percentage of world GDP, and the value of the dollar declines as the US economy, though still growing, becomes a smaller percentage of world GDP, and its role as a reserve currency declines.
...
Even though "New World Order" could also reasonably refer to the fall of Communism, as in those Communistic governments he helped overthrow (some of the stuff you linked talked about statements made in 1992, when this would make sense in that context). And you haven't explained why a capitalist like Soros would want socialism like you're accusing.
And if it's so loosely-defined, how can you conclude various things about it? Would you care to define what it's supposed to be yourself?

RuffDraft wrote:4) George Soros is a loon.

Okay, that last one was my own personal opinon.
Valhallen, the last time you called Soros an animal wrote:OK. Of course, condors are vultures too. Anyway, your criticism is that Soros is a ruthless capitalist pigdog? Fair enough, but that's a ways from being a socialist.
So he's a loony capitalist pigdog? Who wants a socialist new world order?

RuffDraft wrote:But anyway... I can see that you're not going to agree with me on Soros... I'm not sure what else I can say that would make you understand why I simultaneously fear and despise him.
How about a rigorous, rational justification? Soros is politically active and has considerable resources at his disposal, so it is appropriate to keep tabs on what he does. The same goes for Rupert Murdich, the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and others. Fear and despection should wait for evidence of malice and harm.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:Lastly, I wonder if I could get you to stop watching people like Keith Olberman for news. It's not very healthy (for your mind).
And how have you reached that conclusion?
Well, Olberman is an idiot, isn't he? Wouldn't want it to spread. lol
It was more of a joke. Only those who don't like Kieth Olberman would find it funny in the slightest.
Any reason to suppose that idiocy is contagious in that manner? Yes, this is getting pedantic, but a point I've been kind of getting at is that it takes certain kinds of evidence to substantiate a point. For an existential claim, an example works, like this for the contagious idiocy. To support the claim that such a mechanism is widespread (a general claim) takes some sort of statistical evidence. Still, that does not demonstrate that Q.U. is so influenced, which would take a case study looking at Q.U.'s mental state and influences.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:@Q.U,: I'm sorry, I don't really see you doing much (or very good) research, all I see you doing is making bad arguments and pointing out obvious things like how the Prime Minister of Malaysia forgave and apologized to Soros in person. I mean, really---Soros is a very good speaker. He sounds very reasonable most of the time. I'm sure he could convince someone that blue is red or something. Either way, the Prime Minister having a talk with Soros in person, at length, and then shaking his hand at the end is something that even I could have predicted if I had heard that the two would be meeting to discuss this.
How about, instead of just claiming that arguments are bad or "obvious" (which makes it wrong somehow?), or saying that research is insufficient, you actually explain in detail what is wrong with the argument or research? In the case of Soros and the Prime Minister of Malaysia, you had claimed that the Prime Minister's statement that Soros was bad meant that Soros was bad. It kind of matters (a lot) that he recanted the statement after the economic crisis. Unless Soros actually coerced the Prime Minister to say that, the circumstances of the meeting (which actually imply that the Prime Minister changed his mind beforehand) don't really matter.
All right, I see your point. So what exactly did Beck lie about here?
In that particular case, he did not lie so much as make a (recklessly or intentionally) misleading argument. To support his overall thesis that Soros was bad, he said that Soros likes destabilizing economies/currencies and such. To support that, he said that the Prime Minister of Malaysia said that Soros was responsible for the Asian Financial Crisis. Sure, he said that, but there are a number of problems there. First is that arguments from authority are rather weak, pretty much useful only when evidence is not available, the authority in question has relevant expertise, and there isn't a conflict of interest. It's not like the events of the Asian Financial Crisis are secret, so an unsupported statement by the Prime Minister (though he should know what he's talking about) doesn't settle things. Second, the Prime Minister had made that statement during the crisis itself, with the accompanying political and emotional turmoil providing a motivation for naming a scapegoat for problems caused largely by poor government policy (and thus presents a conflict of interest). After the crisis, he recanted the statement and apologized to Soros, which indicates that he rally doesn't think that Soros is responsible. Since Beck used an inappropriately weak form of argument, which itself relied an opinion that the Prime Minister apparently does not really hold, it's not strictly lying, but it's misleading and a poor argument.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:I'm not going to cover the rest of your stuff. Go ahead and believe what you will. But if it turns out the Beck is right, maybe you'll start listening to him? Yeah I know that's too much to hope for.
Q.U. just pointed out several things where it turns out that Beck is NOT right or at least unsupported. Maybe you'll start acknowledging that? Is that too much to hope for?
It's very difficult; I still don't think Beck is altogether mistaken about Soros.
He isn't. As I said earlier, many of the details Beck mentions are correct. It's just that in many cases, Beck draws conclusions that are not supported by the evidence he cites. Remember that the burden of proof is on Beck to support the points he makes, and evidence that is merely consistent with the conclusion is insufficient: it must support the conclusion to the exclusion of alternate explanations. Then there are the things that, as mentioned before, are actually contradicted by the context of the evidence referenced.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:Said "discourage." Taxes "discourage" growth. As an example, Norway has one of the highest taxes in the world. What have they produced in the last few decades that has been of any real use? I mean, besides the obvious gas, food, paper products and fish. The last major invention by Norway that I can find was the aerosol can in 1926 (the best invention ever being beer, by the Babylonians prior to 6000BC). And while I can't currently find a link to this statistic, I heard that about 1/3 of all medicines and vaccines in use today (more than any other country) were invented in/by the United States.
Norway has a higher GDP (PPP) per capita than the US
I see that statistic a lot from you guys. Norway's GDP per capita may be a bit higher, but what does it prove, exactly? That they have fewer impoverished people? So what? Does that mean their country is inherantly better than the US or something?
You had said that taxes discourage growth in reference to questions of raising taxes in the US, and gave Norway as an example where higher taxes supposedly led to less productivity and innovation. Actually (Norway's higher GDP (PPP) per capita), Norway has achieved growth such that it is now more productive than the US per capita in real terms. Regarding impoverished people, Norway's poverty rate is much lower than the US's, and Norway has a significantly lower Gini coefficient than the US. So not only is Norway richer on average, most people in Norway are significantly better off than their percentile counterparts in the US. If you measure the worth of a country/economy by the financial well-being of its populace, Norway is significantly better than the US, even though it has higher taxes.

RuffDraft wrote:
Again, so what? What does this prove to me?
This indicates that Norway does (a lot) more science per capita than the US, calling into question your insinuation that Norway is less innovative than the US.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:Do you really think that education in the US would be better if the government left it to the private sector?
I'm almost certain you're going to say it would be a bad idea, based on the fact that private schools only account for about 10% of all schools nationwide. Certainly, with such a small number of private schools in the country, if we got rid of public education, there wouldn't be anywhere near the number of private schools we would need to educate the children.
Your prediction is correct about my conclusion, but not about my reasoning. In the present situation, the supply of private schools is insufficient, but nothing would prevent the establishment of new private schools if a policy decision were made to phase out public schools. The problem is that many poorer people can't afford to pay the cost of their children's education should they have to, so an all-private free market for schools would result in poor people receiving less education, diminishing society's social capital and resultant social and economic well-being.

RuffDraft wrote:But since you and I both love statistics so much (hah), why don't we compare the rates of graduation between private and public schools? Just under 70% with public, and just over 90% with private. And according to this, if you scroll down to "Academic Achievement in Private School vs. Public School," it remarks, "The NCES periodically administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to American students in grades 4, 8, and 12. In all subject areas, private school students consistently score well above the national average."

So tell me: If all public schools were ran similar to private schools, don't you think it would make a huge difference?
Depends on what you mean by "ran similar to". If you mean organizationally/procedurally, it probably wouldn't make much of a difference in educational outcome, as the study I linked earlier shows that public and private schools perform similarly if given similar student populations (you may notice that the articles you linked do not address variations in performance associated with the socioeconomic situation of the students). If you mean in terms of funding / mandate for universal service, there's the problem I described above, where poor students would lose out.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:However, it seems a lot of failing public schools are close to bad neighborhoods; maybe that has something to do with it. Perhaps the problem deals not only in the number of bad tenured teachers but also in the living conditions surrounding those schools. How much money would it take to clean them up?
And it seems that the children who attend private schools usually have parents who can afford to send them, with the attendant socioeconomic benefits that that implies. Perhaps this is another reason why urban renewal and programs that help the poor are important. Oh wait, that's a socialistic redistribution of wealth that interferes in the free market state of affairs, paid for largely by growth-reducing taxes on the wealthy.
No, that's redevelopment. You know, charity? Helping the poor? I'm all in favor of that. When states use their taxes to repair and urbanize cities that are largely run-down, that's fine, isn't it?
Quite. It's also a socialistic redistribution of wealth that interferes in the free market state of affairs, paid for largely by taxes on the wealthy (which, some argue, reduce growth). It's one of the things that typically results in a better economy and society than cutting taxes and not doing it. Hence an example of why lower taxes are not always better, even in economic terms.

RuffDraft wrote:What I'm not in favor of is saying that the rich should be taxed more simply because they aren't using their money the way someone else says they should. Because not only do the rich already pay a very high amount of taxes that is already disproportional to their relative wealth in the country (top 20% has about 30-40% or so of the wealth and pays roughly 70-80% of the overall tax burden)
Actually, the top 20% has about 55% of the income and pays about 70% of the tax.

RuffDraft wrote:but many of them already have to pay around 50-60% of their overall income in taxes because of all the other taxes that apply to them (income tax, corporate tax, property tax, sales tax... and I can't remember what else), many of which the poorer populace is exempt from or don't apply to (added to that,
Actually, not likely. The top 0.1% pays more like 33%. Consider that federal revenue in 2010 was about $2.2 T, and GDP was about $14.7 T. That means that total federal income was about 15% of everyone's income overall. You don't get that by taxing the people with over half the income at 50-60%.

RuffDraft wrote:Additionally, [unrealistic figures]. So the millionaire gets to keep less, percentage-wise than the Working-Class Hero.
So progressive taxation is baaad?

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:Let me stop you there. Do you not recall on October 25th 2010, less than eight days before election day, Obama called Republicans "our enemies?" And then, on November 1st, he went back and said "I probably should have used the word 'opponents' instead." Then, after the election was won in the favor of the Republicans, on January 1st, he said "I'm willing to work with anyone of either party who's got a good idea and the commitment to see it through."

Translation: "Shit, we lost---time to put on a good face."
You seem to be placing a great deal more importance here on words than actions. Remember back when the Democrats controlled the House and had 60 in the Senate? They faced unified Republican opposition on most things both before and after "compromise" alterations to bills. After the Democrats lost their 60th Senate vote, Republicans threatened to filibuster anything that wasn't just what they wanted.
So what? Democrats do the same thing when they're at a loss. The filibuster mechanic is in place for a reason. I don't blame either parties for using a filibuster.
I agree that the filibuster is important to have as a check on the power of the majority party, but the recent Republican use of the filibuster is unprecedented. I wasn't exaggerating when I said that Republicans were threatening to filibuster anything they don't like. I think it's telling that the article you linked did not say that, but it did include "Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation’s Darling puts the problems at the Democrats’ feet, saying: “The Democrats have had a 60-vote majority for much of this Congress, and they only have themselves to blame if they didn’t pass legislation that they wanted to pass.”" So what should Obama have done in the spirit of bipartisanship?

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:Republicans have held up Obama's appointees too. So, what exactly do you think that Obama should have done in the sprit of bipartisanship?
Not refer to Republicans as enemies and then ask them to be allies.
I asked for your thoughts on what Obama should have done, not said. What should he have walked, regardless of how he talked? I also asked for something he should have done, not refrained from doing.

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:Does he, now?
Seeing as how that talks about and puts numbers to cuts he proposes... yes, he does.
...and yet spending has increased. Do you not understand the problem I'm having with this?

In the above example I have about running at a deficit on a $5K budget for one month, let's say that part of my food budget includes expensive cheeses, imported from France or whatever. If I get rid of fancy cheese, and reduce the amount I spend on food from $1000 to $800, but then I triple my recreation budget (say to about $1500), by the logic you're presenting to me, I have cut spending. In the same way, Obama's budget calls for a cut to some things, but overall his spending increases to the point where his budget is $1.65 trillion in the red. I may not be the brightest guy in the world, but I can do basic math.
Separate issues. Obama proposed that some things be cut, and numbers were associated with those cuts. So BeeAre's statement regarding that was correct. Overall spending wasn't the issue. In your example, you cut spending for food, but overall spending increased. Do you think that it would be improper to say that you had cut spending on food by $200 when that's what you did?

RuffDraft wrote:
Valhallen wrote:Like oil subsidies, say? Or military spending?
Well on the military spending, I suppose I'm just biased... but on the oil subsidies, I agree that giving a subsidy to a very profitable enterprise is probably a dumb idea. I don't think they should be more heavily taxed; rather, I think we should eliminate tax loopholes and get them to pay the full amount they owe. And then, maybe consider lowering taxes later.
And I'll even agree with you that military spending doesn't warrant much cutting (though some things should be optimized), and that corporate tax rates ought to be lower (though some loopholes should be closed).

Q.U. wrote:
The high emigration and remittance indicates that India is exporting workers, which means that supply exceeds domestic demand at international labor prices, not that its democracy isn't working. India's economy grew 7.2% last year, and its lowest growth rate during the financial crisis was 6.7%. Poverty is decreasing. Corruption is a problem that probably significantly harms economic growth and Indians' welfare, but that's largely a legacy of the socialist era. Efforts are underway to clean things up, and there seems to be some progress. India has a more competitive political party system than the US. You had said, "And a highly corrupt democracy is just as self-corrective as Caligulas' tyranny. I rest my case." Do you really think that India's reasonably functioning democracy is no more self-corrective than Caligula's tyranny, which continued until Caligula himself was assassinated (meaning it was replaced rather than reformed)?
That wasn't the point I was making when I said that.
What point were you making?

Q.U. wrote:
Meaning that they did not, in fact, develop money. Cultures without money exist today in some of the more remote parts of the world.
True. But we do know that developing money does occur independently when a civilisation reaches a certain level of development.
Fair enough. I was just objecting to "It's been developed by every known isolated civilisation at some point independently." Which it hasn't.

Q.U. wrote:
The US employs about a million people in law enforcement, about 2/3 the number on active military duty. Many nations have police forces comparable in size to, though somewhat less than, their active military forces. A one-world government would likely not need as many military-esque forces (though some, including intelligence services and research, would be necessary for security against domestic, if not foreign threats), but even if all current military personnel were diverted to police duty, it would be quite a ways from "a cop on every corner".
That does not undermine my point. Expenditure on keeping other countries feeling militarily weak compared to yours can be avoided.
Your stated point was that "The primary benefit of merging countries together throughout time is that in the end there is next to no need for military and war equipment."and "the point is not that it would take fewer cops to keep peace. It would take more. But surely less than a regular army takes. Hell, if we shoved 30% of each country's army personnel to police forces they would have been able to afford to put a cop on every corner, making the place much safer. All I'm saying is that there would no longer be a need to keep a militarised force designed to defend against foreign aggression. And that's a huge weight off of a country's shoulders." My point was that a government, even a one-world government, must maintain a monopoly on force. Doing so requires police (the expense of which is smaller than conventional military but still significant), conventional military-like forces (to respond to internal threats, disasters, etc.), intelligence service, and research to keep the tools of the government sufficiently capable over time. While a single world government would (probably) not need to defend itself from foreign aggression, it would still have to protect itself from domestic problems. I don't think that this would be as expensive as the current situation, but I think that it would represent a non-negligible fraction of current expenses, even without "putting a cop on every corner" or other increases in service. But at any rate, this presupposes a single world government far removed from the current situation. What do you think "merging countries together" would do in the current situation, such as federalizing the African Union?

Q.U. wrote:
Actually, Switzerland is one of the most heavily militarized countries in the world. Think Israel moved to a landlocked mountainous area, with the corresponding shift in emphasis from sea and air assets to mountain fortifications (and thus a large factor in Switzerland's smaller annual military expenditure despite universal military service similar to Israel's). Switzerland maintained neutrality through the World Wars by backing it with force, not by asking other countries nicely not to invade.
Fortifications that were no better then the French, and yet they meant nothing when Hitler decided to ride over them.
Actually, the Germans mostly went around, as did the Allies on their way through the area.

Q.U. wrote:You cannot tell me that Switzerland wasn't invaded during WWII because of their fortifications. They weren't invaded because they were neutral and didn't pose a threat. The gain of invading them would not cover the costs for the Nazis.
Belgium and the Netherlands were neutral and did not pose a threat, but were invaded because they provided a convenient path to France (and Hitler wanted a unified Europe anyway, but that was incidental at the time). They were not heavily militarized, and were easily overrun. Switzerland's strategic value was mostly as a path to western Europe. However, Switzerland had a very large military relative to its size, and the means to make a German invasion very costly, to the extent of ceding the lowlands, waging a nation-wide war of attrition using the mountain strongholds (spread throughout Switzerland, not concentrated in a line) as supply points, and destroying the mountain road/rail links that allowed easy passage through the country if a position were overrun. A supposed conversation between Swiss and German military dudes in the late 1930s went something like "What if we (Germany) invade with a million men?" "We (Switzerland) will assemble half a million men within the day and have them shoot twice." As you said, it was a cost-benefit analysis for the Germans. There was no time at which Germany would spare the considerable resources it would take to conquer Switzerland for the minor gains to be had. Which was the whole point of Switzerland's militarization.

Q.U. wrote:Not to mention they spend a mere 0.8% of their GDP on military, it's still a good money saver.
Switzerland is a rather wealthy nation though. That's still a decent military expenditure per capita - more than Russia, about as much as Germany, but with considerably less spent on sea and air assets despite that. if a single world government spent per capita for its military what Switzerland did in 2009, global military expenditure would be about $3.6 trillion per year, more than twice what was actually spent globally in 2009.

Q.U. wrote:
Trends indicate that genetic engineering should get good enough within a generation or two, so it really shouldn't be an issue at this point. Though widespread genetic engineering may have issues of its own.
A generation or two is imho slightly optimistic. Genetics has already proven to be way more tricky to deal with properly than we'd hoped.
Two generations ago, the structure of DNA was discovered. One generation ago, the polymerase chain reaction was invented. Ten years ago, the Human Genome Project released its first draft, after 10 years of work costing $3 billion. The cost of sequencing a genome has been dropping nearly an order of magnitude annually since then. Genetic engineering is routinely done in labs, and genetics is becoming more closely tied to information technology, and thus taking advantage of the accelerating returns of Moore's Law there. Human genetic engineering of the sort required should be possible within a decade. Give it a decade or two more to become cheap, reliable, and widespread, if it's legal.

Q.U. wrote:
Actually, that issue arose in the first place due to the globalization of the economy, and a global currency wouldn't get rid of it. Significant labor specialization would only go away if all the world reached a comparable level of development, and there would still be specialization based on resource availability. And while the US is losing manufacturing jobs, it is gaining service jobs, and China is gaining manufacturing jobs (a lot more than the US is losing). Economics is not zero-sum.
And in a single country-state "migration" would be easier than ever, and the only "outsourcing" one could force would mean simply moving your business elsewhere to hire lower wage workers, who in the end have to have lower skills and less competence. Because once you allow free flow of resources and money (and that includes human resources) the world development level ought to stabilise within a generation or so. Not to mention that outsourcing within the same country does not lose the country its profits, so the money ends up going back to the people who lost their jobs anyway, be it in the forms of unemployment benefits or government-driven investments.
Um, yes, businesses would shift production to places with low cost labor, resulting in unemployment and economic disruption in the previous manufacturing places. That's the trouble globalization is causing NOW. If China sustains its current growth, it might reach the state of "developed" nations in a generation or so, but I doubt that much of sub-Saharan Africa will come close. How long do you think it will take to increase productivity there by a factor of a hundred? Anyway, I'm not sure what sort of global government you have in mind. How does the world get there from here? Because that has implications for these topics.

Q.U. wrote:
Well on the military spending, I suppose I'm just biased... but on the oil subsidies, I agree that giving a subsidy to a very profitable enterprise is probably a dumb idea. I don't think they should be more heavily taxed; rather, I think we should eliminate tax loopholes and get them to pay the full amount they owe. And then, maybe consider lowering taxes later.
And oil companies all sit at their round table the next day and say, we will increase the price of oil for USA by 100%. Let them suckers choke on that, until they give us all the tax cuts we want.
Something like that was actually done before, by OPEC, but the current oil market is sufficiently competitive that that shouldn't be a national problem. Price spikes come from demand increasing while demand and and oil production are inelastic. Plus speculators who operate with that in mind.

RuffDraft wrote:The reason GDP per capita for Norway is higher than the US is because of the relative difference between population and GDP. It doesn't mean that the average Norwegian is richer, and it sure as hell doesn't mean they have a higher standard of living. It's a ratio between the population and GDP.
Actually, no. It's not like each nation is alloted a certain GDP to be divided among the population. Norway has a higher GDP per capita because each Norweigan is, on average, more productive.

RuffDraft wrote:Find me a graph that shows the percentage of Norway's population that meets your alleged standards of wealth and compare it to a similar graph of the US's population and I'll consider your argument.
That doesn't matter. You had given Norway as an example of where high taxes led to diminished innovation and growth. Higher GDP (PPP) and research per capita mean that your use of Norway there was incorrect. Wealth distribution doesn't matter for that, never mind that Norway's greater GDP per capita is spread more evenly than in the US.

RuffDraft wrote:
Q.U. wrote:
RuffDraft wrote:So tell me: If all public schools were ran similar to private schools, don't you think it would make a huge difference?
It would, people would be awesomely educated if all public schools worked as hard on the kids as the prestigious private schools. Too bad 40% of American families wouldn't be able to afford schooling their children.
But suppose that the 60% that could donated a proportional amount relative to their economic standing towards education of those that could not? We've already seen Americans helping other Americans less fortunate than themselves. Let's say everyone donated an extra of 10% of their income to those (private) schools so that the poorer population could either attend free or attend at a reduced cost, relative to their economic standing. Base it off the amount of taxes that we got in 2009 and cut it in half (assume the average amount in taxes paid equates to about 20-25%), and calculate how much it would cost for those 40% you mentioned to go to these same private schools. Then, based on a steep curve, figure out how much it would take for those 40% to afford reduced tuition.

My plan is fairly sound, wouldn't you say? It just needs to be able to be put to practice without government intervention.
So progressive taxation, only not mandatory, so it can't be relied upon (charitable giving tends to swing widely with the economic situation, and it wouldn't be good to have funding for 20% of kids drop out in a recession). Not to mention that people don't give particularly generously to schools now (recall that referenda to fund school needs with property tax increases typically fail). That last bit matters a lot. So no, not very sound.

RuffDraft wrote:Also, I find it hard to believe that oil companies would simply double gas prices out of spite and expect to make double--or even the same--profits. If Americans could hold out an extra month or two, gas prices would go back down.
Demand for gas is pretty inelastic in the short term, so doubling price should more than double profits (see, for example, what happened when prices doubled in the past), providing that suppliers agree not to undercut each other. Long-term, high prices encourage moving to alternate sources of energy, so a monopoly would want to balance its long-term plans with that in mind.

BeeAre wrote:and it's not an odd sentiment, RD, that QU would be upset at oil companies, even if he wasn't in the US. It doesn't matter whether oil is in the US or not. >_> oil companies set the prices. i would like to see your sources indicating a low profit margin for oil companies' primary product, please. what makes a competitive ratio these days?.
Oil is a commodity traded freely, so both sellers and buyers interact to set the price. Consider that an oil company can charge whatever it wants, but people will (usually) only buy at that price if it's competitive with other available offers.

RuffDraft wrote:So someone decided to add it all up, and they found that if you sum up the net worth of every billionaire in the country, it would still only reach a measly$1.3 trillion--leaving a $350 billion deficit for this year alone. Which means that your suggestion to tax the rich higher wouldn't have worked anyway. Not with Obama in office, anyway.
There is a difference between a 100% tax on the 400 wealthiest Americans and bumping up the highest tax bracket a little. One is a realistic long-term policy, and the other is not, though neither on its own would close this year's deficit.

RuffDraft wrote:You really think that if they were told that they could donate 5-10% of their income to help underprivileged children afford to go to a better school that no one would donate anything?
People can donate to help underprivileged children NOW, and in many cases it's even tax-deductible. People don't seem to give enough, reliably enough, to have charity replace taxes for funding public services.

Q.U. wrote:Really, I strongly believe that it doesn't matter who runs the schools, private investors or government selected bodies, if you pump enough money into them they will become more efficient.
Better achievement, perhaps, but just pumping money into things runs into diminishing returns and decreased efficiency, at least in terms of cost effectiveness.

Q.U. wrote:
I suppose the two weeks I spent in Norway in 2008 didn't let me see much of the whole country... but I did notice their insane taxes; nearly 20% in sales tax for one.
And that's how they can afford public school that are better than your private schools, etc. Last time I heard, the richest people in Norway pay 90% income tax.
Actually, they don't. Norway has a different tax structure than the US, with less emphasis on personal income and more on other things, including a large value added tax. Looks like the top marginal income tax rate is more like 48%, though wage income is only part of the picture.

RuffDraft wrote:But it's not something that bothers me, seeing as I don't believe in this whole Global Warming scare.
Ooh, ooh! Does this mean we can have another global warming thread?

RuffDraft wrote:Except that many industries in Norway are owned by the government. GDP includes all services, public and private. About three quarters of all Norwegian savings are controlled by the State; the State's holdings amount to about 40 percent of the total values of the companies listed in the Oslo Stock Exchange. And so, GDP BY ITSELF does not indicate how much the average citizen of a country earns and gets to keep, "after taxes". That's what I'm trying to tell you. Norway is essentially a welfare state, where it assumes ownership of certain highly-profitable industries (such as oil) and uses those profits to augment its taxes and fund their expenditures. So, because of the lower population, GDP per capita seems high. That's what I'm saying.
And yet it works for them. Note that the government is composed of people, and taxes ultimately go to pay people for various things. So GDP per capita pretty much does represent income per person - taxes just change who gets each dollar, not that there is a dollar in the system that ultimately goes to someone.

RuffDraft wrote:
Q.U. wrote:You know, once you rip money off of tax payers and pump them into a school to allow enrolment free of charge, then that's pretty much what a public school is. So you kinda shot yourself in the leg with this one.
Absolutely not. A non-profit, non-government organization that receives most (if not all) of their funding from individual people is still a private-sector charity; getting funding from the general public does not make it a public-sector organization. And a non-profit organization that uses its funds for a specific purpose (as in the one above) and donates its money to a private school so they can take on more students does not make the school a public school.
Functionally, you're describing what the government does. It is a non-profit organization that pools money from the public to pay for various things. You're just claiming that it could run on charity.

RuffDraft wrote:
Q.U. wrote:Really, I strongly believe that it doesn't matter who runs the schools, private investors or government selected bodies, if you pump enough money into them they will become more efficient.
Well then you obviously don't know the story of New York and Utah.

Of all states, New York spends the most money per student on education, at roughly $16,000 (as of 2007). Utah spends the least money per student on education, at just over $5800. And yet their scores are nearly identicial, despite a more than $10K difference.
Most of the cost of education goes to pay salaries. New York has a much higher cost of living than Utah. A fair (market equilibrium) salary in New York would therefore be much higher than in Utah. The cost of education would therefore be much higher in New York than in Utah, even with no other differences.

RuffDraft wrote:And I made no claim that insinuated that the rich suffer more than anyone else by being forced to part with a higher percentage of their income proportional to their financial standing; it seems like we're simply punishing those with more money for having more money--which, no matter how you look at it, it is simply not fair.
Life isn't fair. It's about what makes society work, and progressive taxation does that better than the alternatives.

RuffDraft wrote:Imagine if you brought 10 bags of Skittles to school and the teacher made you give one to her, and another kid brought 100 bags of Skittles to school and the teacher made him give her 30. One or both of you is going to feel confused and/or gypped.
The teacher is not a duly elected representative of the students, and is presumably not carrying out a Skittle confiscation plan approved by the students or the student council.

RuffDraft wrote:
Q.U. wrote:
About PPP wrote:Comparisons of national wealth are also frequently made on the basis of nominal GDP, which does not reflect differences in the cost of living in different countries (See List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita). Using a PPP basis is arguably more useful when comparing generalized differences in living standards on the whole between nations because PPP takes into account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of the countries, rather than using just exchange rates which may distort the real differences in income. Other figures include savings (not just income), such as national wealth.
Check and mate.
Except that this is about standard of living. The discussion was wealth of the average population. And as I said, the only way you're going to be able to prove that to me is by showing me with hard data how much the average person makes and gets to keep after taxes.
If it's standard of living you're looking for, check these out. As for average disposable income, the US had $31,410 in 2005, and Norway had $25,224 in 2004 at 2005 PPP. However, in 2006, US healthcare costs were $6714 per person, knocking out the US lead because health care in the US is mostly private, while Norway has a tax-funded national health care system. The other services provided by Norway's "welfare state" system tip things further regarding how much personal income is free for luxuries.

RuffDraft wrote:The difference between Public schools and Private schools probably boils down to the quality of the teachers, not the amount of money spent in a single year.
Then why do public and private schools perform similarly when the demographics of the student populations are taken into account?

RuffDraft wrote:The US gives a tax break to an oil company, which is based on how much they profit off of the oil in the first place. All that does is increase their profit margin. The effect it has on reducing the price of gas is comparatively negligible when you consider China's subsidizing dropped the price of gas by about two dollars.
There are tax breaks for many stages of production, effectively reducing the production costs. Care to put a number on what you think the effect is?

RuffDraft wrote:
BeeAre wrote:you also would want to know how much of their tax dollars' use in their environment positively impacts their life.
I want to know what their revenues in taxes are and compare it to GDP, which, even if not the full picture, is closer than saying "GDP per capita = average wealth."
43.6% of GDP in 2007, compared to ~17% for the US in recent years. GDP per capita is still average income, as I said above, since taxes become income as the government spends money.

BeeAre wrote:how weird

businesses willing to abandon their tax cuts in times of crisis
Saw some amusing comments on that article:
"Where is the Japanese TEA party on this?"
"Having a tea ceremony and paying their tax to ensure a caring, thoughtful society where everyone does better."



Anyway, does anyone have thoughts on the union situation?

I'll be responding to the bits about Iraq and WMD later.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Grey » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:28 am

oh god my balls
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Riz » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:47 am

as a side note, the word "frick" is stupid. discuss.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Grey » Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:19 am

frick is for people too pussy to fuck
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Rough Giraffe » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:03 am

@Lily: Yes, it is much more civil to use the word "roll-in-the-hay."

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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Riz » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:38 am

what civil person would fuck on hay? you could get hay in very uncomfortable places.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Whatis6times9 » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:41 am

Lily wrote:what civil person would fuck on hay? you could get hay in very uncomfortable places.

It's fun.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Riz » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:45 am

well when you put it that way...
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Doctress Who » Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:35 pm

I love that clip.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Q.U. » Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:35 pm

My point was that a government, even a one-world government, must maintain a monopoly on force. Doing so requires police (the expense of which is smaller than conventional military but still significant), conventional military-like forces (to respond to internal threats, disasters, etc.), intelligence service, and research to keep the tools of the government sufficiently capable over time. While a single world government would (probably) not need to defend itself from foreign aggression, it would still have to protect itself from domestic problems. I don't think that this would be as expensive as the current situation, but I think that it would represent a non-negligible fraction of current expenses, even without "putting a cop on every corner" or other increases in service. But at any rate, this presupposes a single world government far removed from the current situation. What do you think "merging countries together" would do in the current situation, such as federalizing the African Union?

Putting a cop on every corner was a clear metaphor. It's a phrase, I don't mean I want you to calculate the expense it would take to achieve that literally. And a single world government would need intelligence, but not foreign intelligence. As for the rest of "domestic needs" or civil unrest, it all depends on how unified world society are we talking. Should we end up with one faith, one ethnicity, and one living standard, then I guess a lot more expenses could be cut. It's the same idea as conglomerating small shops together into a shopping centre becoming more beneficial. I will not argue how much we could save that way, I will only say that we'd be able to save up quite a bit more than we do now.

Actually, the Germans mostly went around, as did the Allies on their way through the area.

They took both ways. Which still means Maginot Line got eventually overrun.

Belgium and the Netherlands were neutral and did not pose a threat, but were invaded because they provided a convenient path to France (and Hitler wanted a unified Europe anyway, but that was incidental at the time).

Please note the difference of context, they were neutral in the war, not neutral politically and militarily. Switzerland's neutrality was recognised by the Congress of Vienna and the country had been neutral since 1515, and not self-imposed like in Netherlands. Belgium tried to regain neutrality after WWI, but clearly it didn't work in the eyes of Germany.

Switzerland is a rather wealthy nation though. That's still a decent military expenditure per capita - more than Russia, about as much as Germany, but with considerably less spent on sea and air assets despite that. if a single world government spent per capita for its military what Switzerland did in 2009, global military expenditure would be about $3.6 trillion per year, more than twice what was actually spent globally in 2009.

It's silly to compare that. A global government would have a global GDP per capita. You can't tell me that an argument saying "if Switzerland and Nigeria fused into one country they'd still have the same GDP per capita as Nigeria/Switzerland" has any meaning here.

Two generations ago, the structure of DNA was discovered. One generation ago, the polymerase chain reaction was invented. Ten years ago, the Human Genome Project released its first draft, after 10 years of work costing $3 billion. The cost of sequencing a genome has been dropping nearly an order of magnitude annually since then. Genetic engineering is routinely done in labs, and genetics is becoming more closely tied to information technology, and thus taking advantage of the accelerating returns of Moore's Law there. Human genetic engineering of the sort required should be possible within a decade. Give it a decade or two more to become cheap, reliable, and widespread, if it's legal.

You forgot to mention, "assuming liberal social status". Well it's not. It's controversial, and human genetic engineering is generally illegal or off-limits. You can only make progress that fast in fields that aren't supported world-wide by neither the public nor the governments.

Um, yes, businesses would shift production to places with low cost labor, resulting in unemployment and economic disruption in the previous manufacturing places. That's the trouble globalization is causing NOW. If China sustains its current growth, it might reach the state of "developed" nations in a generation or so, but I doubt that much of sub-Saharan Africa will come close. How long do you think it will take to increase productivity there by a factor of a hundred? Anyway, I'm not sure what sort of global government you have in mind. How does the world get there from here? Because that has implications for these topics.

That doesn't matter really, it's a theoretical possibility to entertain. So I see no reason in going into possible problems it might cause or possible ways of trying to achieve it. All I'm arguing is that generally small-scale globalisation has proven to be beneficial in terms of costs. The odds of having a single government and unified society are minuscule, and that's one of the reasons why I was disputing BR's socialist utopia.

Something like that was actually done before, by OPEC, but the current oil market is sufficiently competitive that that shouldn't be a national problem. Price spikes come from demand increasing while demand and and oil production are inelastic. Plus speculators who operate with that in mind.

Yet another place where we find that competition saves us all a lot of trouble.

Better achievement, perhaps, but just pumping money into things runs into diminishing returns and decreased efficiency, at least in terms of cost effectiveness.

That's what happens at the saturation value. When the money cannot benefit much more anyway. In the current state more money would easily and quickly increase the efficiency of schools, provided that they are ran by competent individuals.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby BeeAre » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:22 pm

RuffDraft. now i'm still reading, but in valhallen's current post so far, he has literally, systematically and methodically made several of your claims extremely hard cases to prove.

In particular, I want to focus on your Beck-related claims.

I have, recently with some e-book previews, read some of Beck's books for just their bibliography and source lists.

He cites great sources, as you have previously claimed with me, but when I read the arguments referencing those sources, I make direct one to one break-downs of the arguments down to their simplest logical components, and while I suppose I could be misinterpretting those rules, each one demonstrates an imprecise use of rhetorical devices to the point of making what become literally ultimately illogical arguments.

Now, for example of an ultimately illogical argument! On his show, you will often see him often repeat an argument from his books, and does so with a very easily repeated method:

he draws relationships between subjects based on their nature or make-up, looks quizzically at the camera, and says "really? this isn't happening?" Usually referring to a buzzword that is a short cut synonym for "bad situation", like Marxism or Socialism (but not necessarily always those of course, just to be clear)

What he's doing here is saying that inevitably, the full extent of his argument must come to pass because how could it not? This assumes several things about a bunch of different parties involved in any of the cases he uses it in, and it allows him to make the argument without having to really need to substantiate his claim. His audience substantiates it for him with their belief in his arguments.

It's entertaining, as Valhallen showed Glenn Beck HIMSELF saying, but it is the definition of demagoguery, which is why Glenn Beck should not be considered an authority on any of the subjects with which he employs this technique as his primary rhetorical device.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Spoopy Princess » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:29 pm

I R SO SMART
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Mathias » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:32 pm

Stufflikehearts wrote:BR SO SMART
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Whatis6times9 » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:32 pm

Stufflikehearts wrote:I R SO SMART

S-M-R-T
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Spoopy Princess » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:35 pm

Mathias wrote:
Stufflikehearts wrote:BR SO SMART

Good call.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Mirak's Mod Ghost » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:08 am

HAY STUFF
LET'S DISCUSS ABUS DA PROPERTY OF CHEMICALS!

LIKE URANUS

THATS A CHEMICAL RIGHT?
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Spoopy Princess » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:09 am

WANNA STUDY IT CLOSELY?
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Mirak's Mod Ghost » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:10 am

OH YES
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Spoopy Princess » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:11 am

LET ME BEND OVER SO YOUR TELESCOPE HAS A BETTER ANGLE.
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Mirak's Mod Ghost » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:22 am

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm~

Interesting findings!
I shall now write a three pages long post explaining the results of this experiment and my opinions about it.

Does this statement make you moist?
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Spoopy Princess » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:24 am

YES! I shall explain how moist in a very long wall of text. Must work on it now! Coming soon!
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby BeeAre » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:36 am

Stufflikehearts wrote:YES! I shall explain how moist in a very long wall of text. Must work on it now! Coming soon!


somehow i doubt you folks laughing so heartily whilest us nerds pontificate will ever post a legitimate wall of text in this thread made of words you did not copy and paste
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Re: What the frick?!

Postby Rough Giraffe » Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:55 am

BeeAre wrote:In particular, I want to focus on your Beck-related claims.
No.

Many times, I've been having a conversation with you in which I show you a video, and then less than halfway into the video you draw an outlandish claim on something that is said and claim that's what the person is saying, and then don't watch the rest of the video.

For example, this video, at about time 1:38, he begins to explain that President Obama wants to drop US emissions by about 68% come 2050, bringing them down to the level they were in 1905, "a time when nearly no Americans had cars, dishwashers, washing machines or electricity, and the average life expectancy was a ripe 47 years old." From that line, you concluded that this guy thinks Obama wants us to not have cars, dishwashers, washing machines or electricity and have a 47-year-old life expectancy. And you refused to believe that this was not what he was talking about at all.

And then as I said you didn't even bother to watch the rest of the video, where he talks about what the Green movement does to impoverished nations. If I pulled that kind of shit on you, you would demand that I watched the rest of whatever it was you were showing me.

And so I'm not going to discuss your questions about Glenn Beck.
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