Friday, April 29, 2011

A Few Gripes

I know what you're thinking: "Gripes? On this blog? Heavens!" But it's true. Here they are:

1) For the jillionth time, pro-lifers are pro-life because they believe abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, i.e. murder. It is not because they hate women, or want to keep women in their place, or think women should all be mothers instead of workers, etc.

2) Pro-lifers do not stop caring about babies after they are born. You lefties are making the classic mistake of thinking that just because your opponent doesn't hold with a given policy (i.e. a large welfare state), then he doesn't care about the intended beneficiaries of such policy. This is like thinking that a person is really pro-terrorist or anti-American just because he doesn't think invading Iraq or Libya is a good idea. Take statement p: " cares about children and the poor" and statement q: " is in favor of a large welfare state." You assume that p automatically implies q, and if !q is the case, then obviously !p. Your error is the assumption that p implies q. (propositional logic, do some reading)

3) There are many "controversies" in economics which are, for all intents and purposes, settled, and only persist in being controversies in the mainstream press or among politicians or whatever. They are settled because both the theory and (more importantly) the empirical data has pretty much made up every economist's mind on the subject. I say this because of a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a "study" claiming that reductions in corporate tax rates do not spur investments, and thus do not "create jobs." This is, of course, total baloney, and akin to releasing a study claiming that tides do not actually go in and out but rather stay put. There are still plenty of areas for disagreement, but there are many "controversies" which can be settled empirically without a lot of hemming and hawing. Anybody who thinks of themself as a serious, reasoning person should begin their understanding of economics (and hence politics) by accepting these settled axioms and reasoning from there, not trying to "debunk" them in a vain attempt at salvaging a discredited ideology.

4) Ultra-rich liberals, exactly how does that work? I mean, Ted Turner once claimed to be a socialist. Friedrich Engels was a wealthy heir and incompetent factory boss. I can't make up my mind about whether these people are aberrations and distractions from the real debate or if this trend says something important and fundamental about left-wing philosophy. In either case, how can one possibly take them seriously? If Warren Buffett really believed that the wealthy weren't being taxed heavily enough, why does he have accountants to help him reduce his taxes at all? Why not write a bigger check to the government and say "nah, you keep it all"? Or why not give more to charity? In the case of Buffett, many people argue that he advocates higher progressive taxes because his financial services companies would personally benefit (and they certainly would), but if we're talking about multi-millionairess Whoopi Goldberg, communist sympathizer and talented actress, then what's the explanation?

5) Tax cuts do not "cost" anybody anything, it is outright lying to claim otherwise. There is no cost incurred by anybody, anywhere, when taxes are cut. "But what about people who rely on government spending? Aren't they bearing a cost?" No, when your parents decided you were too old for an allowance and had to get a job instead, it didn't cost you a thing. Your total stock of resources didn't diminish one iota. If a person works, and then doesn't get paid for their work, then they beared a cost--the opportunity cost of their labor. To say that it "costs the government money to cut taxes" means that, as a result of tax cuts, the government must now spend more money. That is literally what leftists are saying when they complain about tax cuts. It may not be what they mean (I know very well what they mean, they believe the government is de facto entitled to everybody's money and that tax cuts take away what's theirs), but it is what they actually say, it is the actual argument that they are using (in my experience leftists don't say what they really mean, but instead use other "dummy arguments" like "it's for the children" or something, rather than saying "line the pockets of the public sector unions and keep me in office!"). Pay attention to the wording next time. They say that as a direct result of cutting tax rates, the government will incur a cost. How else can the government incur a cost but by being forced to spend money? Now, how does being forced to spend money follow as a direct result of tax cuts?

6) A particular reason I have trouble taking leftists seriously is that I think they put ideology over pragmatism even when it hurts them. Going back to taxes for a good example: leftists want bigger government, to get bigger government you want more tax revenue so the government can afford to be big (the alternative is slavery and brainwashing, which worked for the Soviet Union for a while), and here is where leftists put ideology over pragmatism. Their stated goal is more tax revenue, the way you get more tax revenue is often (but not always) with tax cuts. I say often but not always for a reason, for now we'll focus on those times and places where taxes are to the right of the Laffer Curve (to use a broad analogy) and where reducing them would result in greater economic growth and thus more long-term tax revenue. This happened during the 80s. I know, I know, you've heard that the government had horrendous deficits as a result of tax cuts in the 80s. Not true, the government actually had enormous revenues as a result of the economic growth following the tax cuts, it was the spending spike that caused the deficits (deficits or surpluses are functions of both spending and revenue, if revenue goes up and so do deficits, then spending must have gone up too, that's not even economics that's just arithmetic). The facts bear me out on this one, tax cuts in the 80s spurred economic growth which gave the government more money. Now, if I were a leftist and my goal was more money in government hands, I'd root for tax cuts wherever it seemed appropriate as a means of maximizing government revenue for the long-term (obviously we could maximize government revenue tonight if we simply taxed everybody at 100% of their income right this minute). But as I said, this is where leftists reveal that their religion, their faith, their ideology of collectivism is more important to them than their stated goals: they opt for higher tax rates virtually every time. It's more important to them to see the government being large and overbearing than it is to actually maximize revenue. They may not all think along these lines, but a lot of them do. I hear some conservatives talk about peace, but what they really like to see is the military kicking some butt, whether it brings peace or not. Same kinda thing. I love when I get to compare left-wingers and right-wingers and show their similarities. :-) Maybe I should make a post all about stuff I love about politics and economics.

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