Posts tagged Politics
Posts tagged Politics
The second tool that the government has to counter depression is far more overtly effective, conceptually simple, and by necessity less punitive. Fiscal policy is when the government adjusts the way that it collects and spends money to encourage people to spend money. The long and short of it is that when people aren’t spending money, the government can to keep things going. By pumping a whole bunch of money into the economy they can give people money, which they can then spend. With a progressive tax system and wellfare (to be discussed later) much of it takes place automatically. As wages fall people are taxed at a lower rate, and begin collecting state wellfare. This, however, doesn’t return nearly as much to the system as the system took from itself. The major tool of fiscal policy is financial stimulus. The government always needs to spend money on things like roads, and schools, and hospitals. During times of financial difficulty the government should go on a spending binge, ensuring that there is labor to be done and wages to collect for its people. The government can also lower taxes, but because of political difficulties they tend not to be raised again after the crisis, which leads to a debt spiral. In general, the tax rates should not be changed unless the changes are meant to be permanent.
Keynes’ major hypothesis concerned this, and Hayek, his biggest contemporary critic, had a lot to say about it. Much of what Hayek put forward were really just counterexamples to undermine Keynes, but one of his criticisms really resonated with me, and I would expect many others as well. Spending isn’t free. Of course the government can spend its way out of a pit, but the money has to come from somewhere. The government has two options here. One is monetary policy, and creating money, that can cause hyperinflation if managed poorly though, the other is borrowing from banks or other governments. These debts can be repaid later, and if it is done so responsibly the government might actually save money. In difficult economic times, labor is substantially cheaper. If the government waits for a crash to build all of their roads, they can get them built for substantially less money than it would take them at the hight of the financial cycle. Then, when the people are back on their feet and tax revenue is rolling in again, the government can pay back their debts.
What if the government cannot borrow form other countries or banks at a reasonable rate though? Lets go back to the currency creation answer, and how to manage inflation. In essence, inflation is an easy path to redistribution. People with money will see it’s value decline, and when the government hands the money to the poor their overall net worth will rise. The poor spend a higher percentage of their income than the rich, so this will stimulate the economy. As long as the government doesn’t constantly print more and more money, and cause panicking, inflation can be managed. While drawing money in temporarily from other countries and from nowhere is preferable, the government might be better positioned to temporarily raise taxes on the upper class, in effect forcing them to spend their money (by having the government spend it for them) to get the economy moving again. This could disenfranchise them however, which isn’t good. In most situations, fiscal policy works wonders.
This could be very interesting. I was a little worried about them drawing the ire of Mossad for a little while, but they’ve pissed off arguably more frightening entities before.
Who is more powerful, the defence department of Israel or the combined cyber-espionage might of Mastercard and Visa? We are about to see.
Hopefully they will remain on top of the invisible arms race, because I trust them a hell of a lot more than most institutions. At least their motivations are pure.
The principle role of the state is to maximize the happiness of it’s citizens. In modern governance people disagree about the best way to achieve this, some opting for more freedom and others more utility, but few will challenge this principle.
The economic role of the state is to maximize production through the maintenance of market competition, and minimize inequity through the redistribution of wealth. In this section, I will discuss the barriers to competition (and prosperity), the barriers to equality, and how the state should best combat them.
But first, because of the negative connotations of ‘wealth distribution’, I should first address the question of fairness. That is, if one person works harder or produces more than another, do they not deserve to be better compensated for their labor? Perhaps they do, perhaps they don’t, in truth it is irrelevant to what the state is trying to accomplish. There needs to be some inequity in order to motivate individuals to produce, and there needs to be some redistribution to combat the misery and starvation associated with poverty, which is in the mandate of the state. Regardless of who “deserves” what (which I find to be an esoteric debate) the best way to run a society is by redistributing much of the wealth, and I will explaining why in the rest of this section.
Again, before I start discussing the barriers, I feel I should reinforce the concept of redistribution further. Once a person advances their wealth beyond where they are able to feed and shelter themselves, each additional dollar of income makes them less happy than it would make someone who could not feed and shelter themselves. If a society is to maximize happiness, in theory than, it should make sure there is as little wealth inequity as possible. The actual seizure of wealth isn’t nearly as painful as people make it out to be. A few years ago at a company called costco started rationing rice, for no easily apparent reason. They made it so that when you went to their store you could only buy two twenty five kilograms bags of rice on each trip to the store. No more. It made the news. Do you know what happened? Rice sales went through the roof. People in drouths went into that store, waited in line, bought fifty killograms of rice, then went home, came back, waited in line, and bought fifty more. I will guarantee you that that most of that rice is still rotting in the basements of those panicked buyers. They didn’t care about that rice until someone threatened to take it away from them. Millions around the world sit starving because of baseless fear. For most of the wealthy, wealth is just a number that measures their success. It is absurd of a society to let them sit on it all, essentially watching it’s potential for economic growth (that would come with spending it on domestic goods) rot. This is a terrible way for the society to invest its resources.
(I’m going to be posting the paper that I am writing piece by piece. It is about 10,000 words long, and I’m like a third done. If I puff this up with examples and statistics, it could turn into a book! Wish me luck guys.)
I should mention at the outset that I admire Adam Smith personally. He was one of the first proper economic philosophers, drew on liberal ideology, and caught on to a very interesting facet of market culture. Madame Rand though, not so much. Despite naming her philosophy “Objectivism” and claiming that it is based upon “absolutes” I would be hard pressed to find something more slippery and nihilistic. The only thing of real “absolute” value and truth under her is one’s self interest, which is in turn completely meaningless to everyone else. It masquerades as honest and structurally sound while spending much of its energies trying (and failing) to reconcile its want for transcendent meaning with the void of any foundation for such a thing that it creates. But that is a digression; it does not speak to the pragmatism of her philosophy.
Smith, as I hinted at earlier, had the strength of all the evidence available to him at the time behind him. To boil his philosophy down: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their own advantage.”
He believed that in a free market society, through the process of trying to best one another in competition, we would make production incredibly efficient and produce goods in the quantity that the society demanded, and prices would be fairly determined by the forces of supply and demand. He believed the way to maximize society’s production and fairly distribute it’s resources was with a free market, and that no government intervention was required to make the system serve everyone best. Rand goes as far as to say that there is no place for government to intervene in an economy, and that it (and people who act outside of their self interest) can only hurt economic conditions.
He based the argument off of these principles: competition would cause inefficient companies to fail, and make sure that the best administrated and most productive members of the industry rose to the top. Furthermore, because anyone is free to enter into any market and provide an alternative if they are dissatisfied with it, the consumers can never be taken advantage of. There are a few problems with the aforementioned, these are the chief virtues of capitalism. I will call them the virtues of competition.
So, I am building a government. At first it was because there were a whole bunch of interesting systems that I wanted to see together, but it occured to me that I should probably come up with a set of goals first, and a foundation for my political ideology.
Just briefly, like Madison I would like popular government without democratic government, but I disagree with him about how to achieve that (and get rid of factionalism). I am an elitist, but don’t think it is easy to distinguish the elite from the non-elite and will have to somehow devise a mechanism for that. I agree with Rousseau and Jefferson that people need to be economically free in order to be politically free, but disagree with them that society-wide participation in democracy is necessary or even good. I believe in equality of rights and of opportunity, but not really equality of result, but at the same time think the degree to which people can screw themselves deffinetly needs to be mitigated by the government.
Ultimately, the purpose of the government is to help those that it governs lead satisfying lives. That means a lot of the things I’ve discussed above.
I want to create a government structure, a social policy, and an economic policy, each of which bolsters the other two. Wish me luck.
“What if the prime minister of Israel called you on the phone saying ‘our bombers are on the way to Iran’” says the moderator. Romney says that would never happen, and changes the topic to how the world is a very scary place and that voting for him will get rid of everyone’s paranoia about it.
Also he mentions North Korea’s nuclear technology. Lol. Also says that Obama isn’t as nice to Israel as he says he is.
Obama then criticizes Romney for changing his positions all of the time. Then talks about how great it is that Osama Bin Laden is dead. He then talks about how everyone said that it was stupid to try and kill him and he did it anyway. America, fuck yeah, etcetera.
Man, this moderator is asking some good questions. He asks if the Afghani people say that they cannot defend themselves, will the US still walk away. Romney dodges, and choses to talk about Pakistan.
Obama doesn’t really answer the question either. Then talks about some military policy he wants to change, and putting vetterans back to work. When he came into office, veteran unemployment was higher than general unemployment, and now it is lower.
Romney then says that like Obama, he thinks that drones are awesome. This debate is getting really repetitive.
Obama says that he is tough on China and Romney is not, and gives an anecdote on tires.
Romney throws back to the “we built it” stuff. Fun times. Then talks about how on day one he will label China a currency manipulator.
The moderator asks if that will initiate a trade war. Romney says if it will, then bring it on.
Obama goes after Romney for investing in companies that ship jobs overseas. He says he bets on America. He then says the currencies are at their most advantageous point for the US since 1993, and that US exports to China have doubled since he came into office.
Romney said he would do nothing to hurt the US auto industry. Then says that he wanted them to go bankrupt. What?
Obama says he didn’t even say that. He accuses him of airbrushing history.
Romney talks about how he’s met unemployed people.
Alright. Closing statements. I’d say Obama is advantaged at the start of it.
Obama makes a joke about TV commercials, Romney laughs. He says Romney wants to move to the policies that created the economic crisis and wants to rig the game against the poor. He says that nation building at home is more important than nation building abroad. Then he says that America is great, and plays up the incumbency advantages.
Romney says he is excited about the prospects of the US, and wants to see growing peace in the US. He wants to make the world a safer place. Geez, he almost sounded like he was going to start crying for a second there. He says he can create 12 million new jobs, then says that the US needs stronger leadership than Obama is giving it.
I think Obama won? This is hard to call.
The president says ending the war in Iraq and transitioning out of Afghanistan have made the US stronger, and that their influence is unquestionably greater than it was four years ago. I don’t know if that is true, because Bush was certainly good at “influencing” people.
He takes Romney’s off-topic stuff to talk about green energy, and then says that Romney agrees with Bush and Chenny, and says that his policies are wrong and wreckless.
Romney says he knows how to create twelve million jobs. Lol. Unless he plans to have the government hire that many people I don’t see that happening. He then says that he wants to ‘focus’ on Latin America instead of China. What does that mean?
Obama brings up that when Romney was governor his state was 48th in the country for small business development. Then he talks about how he wants to improve education and that means hiring more teachers. Obama says that slashing education instead of raising taxes is a bad economic strategy, and foreign policy.
Romney then says that his state had the best education in the country. Huh. Didn’t know that.
Ugh, got a phone call. Romney then talks about how he wants to get rid of Obamacare because it sounds good but isn’t affordable Bur he wants to get rid of the part that pays for it but not anything that it does.
Obama points out that Romney’s budget does not work, then points out that the US spends more on military than the next ten countries combined.
Romney then says that he’s balanced budgets at his company, in his olympics, and in his state, and that the US military is outdated. Adding that there are less ships then there have been since 1940.
Obama says that yes there less ships, but there are also less horses and bayonets He says the the US just doesn’t need that many boats, and are much better defended now.
Moderator asks if an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States. Obama says yes, talks about how great Israel is and how much he is willing to do for it, and then says that as long as he is in office, Iran will not get nuclear weapons. Also, that putting soldiors into harms way is a last resort, not a first resort.
Romney then says that essentially his Iran policy is the same as Obama’s, but he wants more serious sanctions and wants to make Iranian diplomats pariahs.
Obama criticizes Romney’s policy by saying that his is just the same thing as Obama’s but saying them louder.
Romney then confirms that that is right by saying that the president isn’t saying things loud enough. Then breaks out the Apology tour bullshit. I wonder if Obama will be calling him a liar.
He does. “Every fact checker and every reporter has looked at it. Governor this is not true.” Then says that his sanctions on Iran are the tough than any sanctions have ever been.
Romney says “We are four years closer to a nuclear Iran”. Dot dot dot. Then Romney continues to repeat his apology tour stuff.
Obama then reinforces his forign policy generically and some guy is yelling in the back of the office.
So, I missed the first four minutes because my ride didn’t get to me in time.
The first thing I heard was “more moderation from Romney.” I thought he hated moderators.
Really he is talking about how things happened in other countries while Obama was a president.
Obama rebukes by saying that he killed Osama Bin Laden. He is really hammering that. I don’t think it is a bad strategy, I just really don’t care about it.
By the metrics of things that pundits find important things look pretty even so far. And Obama is now talking about what a huge success Libya was. Woo!
Romney subtly alludes to his self-deportation policy. I wonder if it is because he think’s his foreign policy is weak? I don’t really think so. It is pretty much the same as Obama’s, more or less.
Basically, it’s been Romney saying things are bad and Obama saying no, actually they are good. Republican fear mongering…
By the way, Romney wants to do something about Syria? That is a broken promise waiting to happen. Good thing he isn’t going to get a chance to act on it.
Obama grabs him for wanting to use the failed policies of the past (80’s forign policy, 50’s social policy, 20’s economic policy). Good work. That turned the tide.
Romney says that attacking him isn’t a foreign policy. Pretty good defence. Romney is calling Obama a liar now, I guess he figured out that that was a good strategy.
Now they are both calling each other liars. Obama opens himself up for a Benghazi jab by saying that you need to be clear. I wonder if Romney will go after him.
He doesn’t get a chance. The moderator asks about Syria.
Obama says Israel israel israel israel, compares Romney to Bush subtly, and then not so subtly, and then says no he doesn’t want to step in but it is a tragedy.
Romney says that the US should use this as an excuse to take over Syria. He wants to put “responsible people” in government there. Identify “responsible” parties in Syria and put them in power by giving them lots of guns. I’m sure Obama is going to have something to say about that.
Surprisingly Obama says that he is also an imperialist. Centrism can get annoying sometimes. He then talks about how awesome it was that Gaddafi is dead and name-drops Osama Bin Laden some more.
Romney then says how much he could really go for a proxy war with China/Rusia right now, in almost those words.
Obama says a vote for him is a vote for Kennedy, coyly, then talks about how they are pressuring egypt into promoting minority rights, women’s education, and obeying their treaty with israel.
Romney then talks about economy, saying that the US debt is the biggest threat to national security there is. Maybe true, but it isn’t other countries that you have to worry about. Then says that the US has to promote freedom and democracy around the world, and that the US needs to be economically strong inorder to deal with the HUGE expense that that is.
Ryan criticizes Biden for stimulus spending, and mentions that Obama came into office with a democratic controlled congress.
Biden criticizes Ryan for inconsistency. Turns out that Ryan asked for stimulus money and told him that the stimulus was a great idea. A model, in fact.
The moderator calms them down, and gets things to move on. Members of the audience are laughing along with both Biden and Ryan, by the way. This format seems much less tense.
Ryan shares an anecdote about his parents starting a small business and that he is young and how cool that is. Biden is giggling, through Ryan’s talk about medicare. I suspect that he soon will be calling Ryan a liar again.
Biden subtly asserts his authority based upon his age. That is irritating. Biden criticizes Ryan for wanting to cut medicare when he was a senator, and hammers the liar point some more. It is just blow after blow here.
Ryan repeats himself instead of addressing Biden’s argument. Biden calls Ryan a liar in the middle of his talking, and Ryan asks Biden to stop interrupting him and he says no. That is some huge points for Ryan. Ryan starts interrupting Biden in response.
Biden continues to dominate the conversation. I feel like I am getting repetitive. They are saying some incomprehensible things about medicare. Biden tells people to use common sense (very folksy) and Ryan accuses Obama of using scare tactics.
The moderator asks about taxes. Biden admits to raising taxes, and says that Ryan is fiscally irresponsible to want to lower taxes on the rich.
Ryan says that his plan will create seven million jobs. Ryan says that taxing people higher lowers revenue. This is a very common argument, and it is complete bunk. Ryan starts copying Biden’s revenue. Biden is continuing to laugh all the way through Ryan’s speeches This is so very powerful of a strategy.
Biden knocks Ryan on his ass when he compares himself to Ragen. Biden says that hedge funds aren’t small businesses, and that Ryan includes it. Biden says that if Ryan’s plan is going to work he would have to get rid of mortgage deductions. Says that his tax plan is “mathematically impossible”, and that is why he isn’t being clear about it.
Ryan, irrespective of whether he is lying or not, is really looking like he is lying at this point. Biden keeps asking him questions and he responds by repeating the same thing over and over again.
Biden says that the military doesn’t need any more tanks or submarines. Ryan says that he isn’t increasing defence spending, just not cutting it. Is that true? Huh. I guess if he says so. Biden didn’t challenge him on that.
AND my feed cut out. Looks like I’m going to be missing their discussion about afghanistan.
Alright, here we go. Lets hope that this doesn’t affect the polls.
Biden is coming off very well in the first few minutes, but he is famous for randomly screwing up, not for not being charismatic. He’s talking about Obama’s foreign policy and doing a really convincing job of making Romney look weak. “The last thing we need right now is another war.”
Ryan throws back with that Obama tried to cover up the terror attack. Good point, but poorly delivered. He sounds tired. He makes some unfounded conjecture.
Biden is muttering under his breath “Not true” xD Obama needed to have been doing that. “Not a single thing he said is accurate.” WOW. The balls on Biden. Biden criticizes Romney for making statements against Obama before he actually knew what was going on. “These guys [Romney & Ryan] bet against America all the time” Biden is arguing with the moderator. He says that Obama didn’t try to cover up the terror attack, I don’t know how believable that I find that, but whatever. Political posturing is fine.
Oh wow, the moderator asks a very tough question about apology. Ryan responds that “America shouldn’t apologize for it’s values”, a fine answer. He still sounds very tired though. Ryan keeps hammering on how there needs to be more embassy security even though Biden previously said that Ryan’s budget cut it by 300k.
Ryan talks about how Iran is getting nuclear weapons, and how Obama isn’t throwing enough sanctions about them. He promises that his administration is going to change the Ayatollah’s minds. Yeah, because that is going to happen.
Biden says that they are already imposing the toughest sanctions in the world, and that Romney and Ryan want a war. Biden also says that Iran is a good way away from getting a nuclear weapon, and the Israeli and US intelligence both agree about that. FINALLY SOMEONE IS SAYING THAT OUT LOUD.
Ryan keeps on the needing to change the Ayatollah’s mind again. He says that Obama is trying to distance himself from Israel.
Biden says that the president is very close to Israel, and that Iran is crippled by sanctions and sees the whole world united against them. Looks like the two of them live in very different worlds. Biden hammers the whole “Ryan is a liar” thing. Good on him, it needs to be said. Biden then criticizes Romney for changing his mind a lot.
Biden is really dominating the conversation here. I cannot believe that he is winning. I really hope that he doesn’t say something stupid and ruin the night.
BAM, he brings up the 47% thing and Grover Norquist, and hits some really powerful rhetorical points. The big guns are on the table now.
Biden: “You don’t read the statistics”, another hard hitting moment. Ryan is starting to look nervous. Ryan isn’t really challenging Biden’s assertions any more, just spouting platitudes.
Ryan shares an anecdote where Romney offers to pay for the collage tuition of some people from his church who became paralyzed, and gives up 30% of his income of charity. He then criticizes Biden for gaffs.
Biden hits back with sincerity. He talks about how his wife died in a car crash a long while ago. He then criticizes the republicans for getting in the way in congress, and Romney and Ryan both supporting bush. He is just killing it tonight.