Sunday, November 18, 2012

Travel and Reprise

I am heading back to Miami for a few days to see what's going on with my house and my kids in college there. I will take the IPad with me, but am absolutely horrible at blogging with it. I'll try. I want to write something about Benghazi and my sinking feeling that Obama has gotten away with it.

Anyhow, just to show you that I am not always wrong, I run a piece here that I wrote in May of 2011, some eighteen months ago, in which I laid out the key difficulty that would face the GOP in the November 2012 elections--note the last paragraph in particular.

Here it is,

Modern Democracy: The Battle Between the Taxpayers and the Voters


Spent a considerable time this weekend reading about the very serious crisis of the Euro. Different analysts grade the severity slightly differently, but all seem in agreement that the Euro, as we know it, is doomed. The most dire scenarios see the whole EMU (Economic Monetary Union) blowing apart, while the most optimistic see Greece, Portugal, perhaps one or two other "Southern" economies separated from the Euro (the numbers, and who exactly gets kicked off the island depend on whom you read), and the currency is reserved for the core "Northern" economies.

This reading then led me to a great deal of reading about the almost equally serious crisis affecting our own dollar. Then, I read about the crisis affecting the British pound. It was an intense amount of very depressing reading: I really need to get out more.

None of the sophisticated and highly technical analyses I read, however, picked up on the real source of the crises facing the major currencies, and, in fact, our core economic well-being. It all comes down to a very simple and basic fact. The western nations have developed societies where those who pay for government services, in general, are not the ones benefitting from the services. In the United States, for example, we have the top one percent of earners paying 38-41% of all Federal income tax. We have nearly half of Americans who pay no income tax, and another large percentage 15-20% who pay minimal income tax (and lets not even get into "Earned Income Tax Credits".) We essentially have a society where some 25% of the income earners pay close to 90% of all Federal income taxes. That 25% does not consume anywhere near 90% of the services provided by the Feds.

You can argue until you're blue in the face that this imbalance is "fair" because those who make more SHOULD pay more. Whether, however, you are "right" or "wrong," in socio-political terms this imbalance has set up a clash between those who pay and those who do not. To varying degrees, it is this clash we see played out in the US and Europe. In Spain, for example, huge crowds of "protestors" take to the streets demanding, well, demanding more from the state. This in a country with an unemployment rate of over 21%, and some of the most generous public benefits anywhere on earth, benefits that do not make it worthwhile to work. So who pays in Spain? Not the protestors, that's for sure. The payers are the ever-shrinking number of Spanish tax-paying wealth producers and, of course, the Germans. Greece, too, has been wracked by massive demonstrations, and even violent and lethal riots, by tens-of-thousands of Greeks objecting to any austerity measures. In other words, the demands are don't pay back the Germans, and let us continue to have a standard of living we have not earned, just because that's what we want and have gotten used to having.

I don't mean to pick on Spain or Greece; we have the same situation developing in the US. Americans are now fully into a political battle waged along new class lines. This is not the old battle of "haves" versus "have nots." This is a battle between "payers" and "pay nots," in other words, between taxpayers and voters.

I listened over the weekend to a parade of Democrats coming on the talk shows, one after another, calling for tax increases on the "wealthy." Some of these calls would push our top rate to some 62%. The Democratic formula is simple. You take the money from the 40% of the people who pay income taxes, and you buy the votes of the 60% who do not--and if there's a gap you borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese. This formula for political success and economic disaster was driven home to me when I was visiting a college campus many months ago. Nearly all the students were voting Democrat. They were full of outrage over some proposed cuts to local government services. None of these students pays income or property tax, few were from the community where they were now voting, and after their college years would move on. The bill would be paid by the local taxpayers; the goods, however, would be consumed by people who were not taxpayers.

We can debate the deficit and entitlement programs all we want. The basic problem is this split between taxpayers and voters. We are going to see that played out big time in the 2012 elections. The Republicans will have a hard sell convincing the voters to cut the benefits they receive from the taxpayers. The Democrats will have a much easier time having the voters give themselves more of the taxpayers money.

26 comments:

  1. If as you are inclined to think he has gotten away with murder, er ah Benghazi, then do you think it is a matter of literally hiding behind the medial or are the real rats in conservative side of the isle? Maybe if it is a combination of both the media and republicans, is there any way to sink the supply ship to that isle of rat paradise that seems to be vacationing with Obama.

    If you are correct and he has gotten away with this then the implication of republican inaction means they are now engaging the president at his game thus it will be along four years. Even Clinton (Bill) had to suffer the indignity of becoming a good sponsor of republican legislation thus making him a very successful president - pains me to think Obama can be successful without giving anything in return.

    Thus, we are resigned to a total defeat in both the election, this Benghazi affair and Fast-n-Furious....

    It is now time to be ashamed or the republican elected representatives - they literally are out for themselves, HENCE the mess the Country is really in.

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  2. It's the slow drip, drip, drip against a popular President. You can't make assumptions and jump out there just pointing fingers. Unless people are engaged and stay engaged, coverups work pretty well.

    The Left still thinks that Bush went to war by changing the intel reports and fooling everyone in Congress. Motive is their big problem there. Used to be oil, but now the best they can come up with is that he was doing it for his dad. Laughable.

    The election was his motive.

    As far as the General, I think Chicago has another bigger card that they're holding back. If the thing WAS a blackmail situation, he wouldn't have anything to lose at this point and could freely talk. The General has a much bigger skeleton somewhere.... IF... IF this is a Chicago politics thing.

    We require evidence in this country. It would take something on the order of audio, video, or email of the President out and out blackmailing the General at this point. Everyone has moved on. ... sadly... again.

    John McCain is rightfully pissed and don't think that our guys aren't carrying a scorecard.

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    1. "The election was his motive." Clarification: Barry's motive.

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  3. The Democrats have been tarring the Republicans as the evil party for so long, and so successfully that the Republicans have internalized it. A large percentage really believe that they are at heart a gang of Scrooges stealing the crust out of the mouths of orphans. This explains "compassionate conservatism" and most of the rest of recent Republican initiatives.

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    1. Jep, for well over 100 years, starting with the 1906 Democrat nominee, William Jennings Bryan. Bryan campaigned on being for the "little" guy and against the "robber" barons. It was pure class warfare. And the Democrats have only perfected that warfare since then.

      But we are heading toward a slippery slope; what happens when those who pick up the tab decide that there are other greener pastures where they can not have to do that? There is a reason that so many American doctors are moving to Costa Rica. Then who pays?

      Recently, the State of California voted for an increase in income tax rates. Think about this; California has a 21.5% poverty rate. So at least 21.5% voted to increase the taxation on others, not themselves. They use the same amount of fire/police services, use more of the other social services that they are not paying for, and decided to raise taxes on those who they blame for their own sad lot in life. Like Margaret Thatchers said about socialism: sooner or later you run out of other people's money.

      I don't have much hope for this nation at this point. We are rapidly turning into Greece, and I believe there will be riots in our streets, and people trying to protect themselves from the rioters. It has to give.

      As to Benghazi, yes, Obama will get by with it. Why not? He has a boot licking media in his pocket.

      Zane

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  4. I recently re-read some of Jerry Pournelle's books from the 1970's. He foresaw a near future Earth dominated by the Codominium - an uneasy alliance of the U.S. And the Soviet Union. Although this is now unlikely – Russia has effectively removed themselves from history, the other facets remain interesting.

    The U.S. Population is split between “citizens” and “taxpayers” ruled by an embedded oligarchy of “Grand Senators”. Citizens live in vast “welfare islands” pacified by cheap drugs and entertainment. The taxpayers support the entire edifice through onerous taxation and regulations. Sounds familiar?

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  5. All these comments above (with some examples, stellar observations) put me in mind of an article I'd read years ago. Just had to remember it's title though I knew just who it was that wrote it. Guess the few brain cells I've got left do occasionally fire on cue.

    Now when ya'll get to 'The Arkansas Joke' the Daddy referenced wasn't mine - mine was Republican (indeed a Reagan appointee) back before, as the song say's, Before Being Republican Was Cool.

    Fittingly - this was written just after the election of 2008:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/791jsebl.asp

    Arkie

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  6. Remember these words:

    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation without knowing what happened.

    Norman Thomas
    6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party

    Zane

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    1. Want a real eye and mind-opening experience, go to the communist party usa website and view the 33 minute seminar entitled Making Change: Marxist Methodology done in 2011.

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  7. Very doubtful that a truthful accounting of Benghazi will ever happen. The democrats know how to wage these media wars. They've successfully turned Susan Rice into a "victim", while Obama plays the sorely maligned CINC, whose detractors are those dastardly right-wingnuts. And we all know those wing-nuts are haters. The GOP sends out Lindsey Graham to vent and fume, awakening memories of the Clinton impeachment debacle. Remember how Clinton's popularity climbed the more the GOP piled on? McCain and Graham, two thoroughly disingenuous blowhards, have doomed this effort. It looks like the mainstream media already decided there's no story in Benghazi.

    Even before the Lewinsky mess, I remember watching the Somalia debacle unfold and thought the American people would never stand for this. It passed with no one held accountable and the American people resoundingly re-elected Bill Clinton. Gut-feeling is this Benghazi disgrace will likely end the same way.

    libertybelle

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    1. "Even before the Lewinsky mess, I remember watching the Somalia debacle unfold and thought the American people would never stand for this. It passed with no one held accountable..."

      Battle Ready co-authors Tom Clancy and Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.) presents probably the most thorough examination of our 1990s involvement in Somalia.

      In a nutshell - when the Somali-op was purely overseen and carried out by US Forces there was a great deal of success. Then the UN got involved (and it was only during that middle phase [UN] where we got the 'BlackHawk Down') that I think Libertybelle, you may be referencing. Then General Zinni was ordered back in to save the UN Bacon (successfully).

      An argument can be made albeit indirectly - that it was General Zinni who wound up taking the blame. Although in the public record (and in the public's eye) Congress made it seem Zinni, already retired, was the fall-guy for what happened in Yemen.

      In the waning days of Zinni's command of CENTCOM a decision was made to re-fuel US Navy ships in the port of Aden. USS Cole.

      Arkie

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    2. Arkie, Is my memory fuzzy or didn't the US forces in Somalia request armored vehicles before the Black Hawk down episode? Did the Clinton administration refuse the request, because they didn't want it to appear as an escalation? Didn't our commander have to waste time borrowing some other country's armored vehicles? It's been a long time, so I may be remembering this incorrectly. In Benghazi we already know that Ambassador Stevens requested more security several times. It just all feels like deja vu' all over again. And the thing that really got me about Somalia was after such a disgraceful episode, President Clinton later had US troops escort that Somali warlord, Aidid, to a peace conference as if he was some important dignitary. The American public bought the administration's flimsy explanations. In regards to Benghazi, it appears to be more of this shifting sand foreign policy, where the administration's "narrative" wafts by, elusive as a mirage.

      libertybelle

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    3. "...didn't the US forces in Somalia request armored vehicles before the Black Hawk down episode?...

      Apologies Libertybelle, got "tasked" to write some preliminary afer-action stuff. (And I have to be careful replying to this.)

      As I understand the question the requests for armored vehicles was made during the 2nd phase [UN directed] earlier I mentioned General Zinni, but it was Adm. Leighton "Snuffy" Smith (Ret.) who held the CO position - Zinni was XO.

      In the first phase, it wasn't actually domineering the warlords rather, just to get the various factions communicating amongst themselves - for that sort of thing inserting "Gee Whiz Weaponry" has to be avoided - a force should be seen as, uhm, approachable and willing to engage man to man I suppose is the best way to describe it.

      Of course that doesn't imply using the assets (or services) of State as is normally understood given that in a place where weapons are more numerous than grains of rice - the first thing to do is... get their attention.

      Still, the middlemen have to be seen as "approachable" - to a degree. So armor isn't really necessary and indeed will likely be viewed by the indigenous counterproductively.

      Here's Snuffy on what we nowadays describe as 'missioncreep':

      "They had a mission change. They went in ... to provide aid to the Somalians, help them through this famine-stricken period; try to keep the warring factions from beating up on each other, and provide a secure environment so the humanitarian agencies could provide what they do. And that's a very, very important mission. Suddenly, that mission changed to, "Get Aidid." He became the focal point. ... That was a complete change in mission."

      It was that "Get Aidid" I'd argue which augured the UN's request for the armor you mention. Military people are (not exactly mind) "comfortable" hearing the supersonic 'crack' of riflefire in proximity - UN people, generally speaking, are not. Hence, the request for APCs.

      Being it's Thanksgiving today - just asking - which of your guests would you welcome more enthusiastically - the ones riding up in a pickup or the ones arriving in an MRAP?

      ___________________________

      Far as Benghazi bears any resemblance to Mogadishu (if it does) I'm just generally of the opinion the Internet and our congregations - I give thanks to DiploMad incidentally, and some others - it's that these things remain on the front-burners.

      [Here I'd ask DiploMad's counsel 'cause the places I'm accustomed to working we don't parse language like diplomats do - I'd appreciate a translation/elucidation.)

      Here's Sec/State first statement re Benghazi:

      http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/09/197630.htm

      Sec/State's second:

      http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/09/197654.htm

      I "know" State is careful with nuance - I see "diplomatic post" but I think it conspicuous neither, "embassy" or the word "consulate" appears in either of the statements.

      I find these phrasings somehow, uhm, "curious."

      But these are beyond my ken.

      Arkie

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    4. Libertybelle?

      I'm "contracted" to do reports (even though everything I do is based on 'Open-Source' meaning, while I may indeed be a prick [as I'm assured I am] under the terms I must wait 24 hours) ...

      All the old stuff we've cleared haven't we?

      Bear in mind - keep at the forefront of your mind - any/everything I type re: Benghazi is Guess/Supposition:

      (And I did leave those two links to State declarations for DiploMad's interpretation.)

      "In Olden Times" ... a US Embassy/Consulate would've had a contingent of US Marines - that appears to've been the case in Cairo that evening [9/11] - such appears not to've been the case in Benghazi.

      I'd think things were not as it should've been. Had it been a "regular" State thing, security should've been provided by Triple Canopy but, apparently Blue Mountain [UK - contracting Libyans] was doing the stuff.

      There's been alot of supposition surrounding Adm G who was "unusually" relieved of command and re-assigned just after the Benghazi thing - Adm G was commanding the ship which held the funeral services for OBL. Something to consider. ...

      I'm figuring the Benghazi/Dernaa area was not to ever come to the attention of the US public-at-large. If I was forced to provide a guess, it'd be AQIM with a few AQAP guys providing the tactical stuff.

      Arkie

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  8. We need to be focusing on tax rate reductions.

    Chris
    Owner Cel Financial Services
    IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer
    Registered bonded California CTEC Tax Preparer
    Please visit my website for all your Fillmore Income Tax needs.
    http://www.taxprepfillmore.com/

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  9. libertybelle? Never waver. It may take some time but I believe there's too much that is epitomized in the date seared into our memory.

    September, 11.

    There're too many people who know the full unvarnished truth. And Washington DC does not have a reputation for being able to keep secrets. Of course I may be dead by that time. But maybe some other commentors will remember why it matters.

    _______________________

    The media actually does see a story - unfortunately at present it consists of 4-Stars, Bimboes, an FBI agent, and Tampa's social scene.

    I just hope it doesn't all make it into the same definitive book.

    Arkie

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  10. Paul Vincent ZecchinoNovember 18, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    The minute Juano McLame and Lindsey Gramnesty crept forward to speak of inquiries, it became obvious he'd get away with it.


    It's reminiscent of the Classic Mistake of the Criminal who inserts himself into the investigation to keep tabs on the cops and taunt them by operating right in front of them, and as well to relive the experience.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. When I talk to my Democratic friends about the reasons for their vote, it's almost always social issues. Women are scared that they'll lose the right to an abortion, and that gays won't be able to marry. I have no idea why gay marriage is an issue that matters in the slightest bit to anyone, but that is literally what several people have said. They don't mention any economic issue whatsoever.

    I think there is less of a vote for preserving benefits than you think because the benefit programs are run poorly and don't give all that much in the way of benefits.

    So I'm not convinced things are as gloomy as you suspect, long-term. The difference in quality of get out the vote programs for Obama vs Romney was probably what turned the election. Apparently Romney didn't stress-test the software he put together, and the whole thing turned turtle on election day.

    If we can get back to basics, we have an excellent chance of winning next time, especially with the misery of four more Obama years.

    D

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  13. When I talk to (some seven of) my Republican friends [who pre-election mentioned the possiblity they'd stay home] now post-election I've asked if they did so and why.

    Some of the reasons given mirror Dennis' observations above, social issues - as in, "Why couldn't our primary candidates when asked where they stood on stuff like abortion and that homo stuff, just said, "That's a matter for the states to decide." and left it at that.

    Two others said "Except for the party label, I couldn't get any info on just how Romney differentiated his '5-Points-Plan' - I know he said he had such a plan - but without explaining it, it sounded like more of the same."

    It should be noted, my County of Arkansas' returns had Romney garnering 79% of the vote - and being in the South there was never a chance in that hot place we've all heard about for (at least) my state's voters to get run over by any Obama snowball.

    Arkie

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  14. I will post "massive voter fraud" until someone does something
    about it.

    Forget about all the other issues. This is the big one.
    If voters cannot depend on their votes being counted correctly,
    there is no hope. We are now no better than Venezuela.

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  15. Essentially everyone who isn't on welfare has astronomically high tax rates, save the top 1/10 of a percent. The upper middle class gets clobbered with AMT while the guy just above poverty spends his entire income so he gets nickled and dimed by sales tax, fuel taxes, property tax, etc. and ends up with a total tax rate a little north of 60% The only ones that get to avoid this are the Steve Jobs of the world who only take $1.00 in annual salary because thier companies are thier lifes work and they love them so; or pehaps because stock options are preferentially taxed.

    Don't get me wrong I don't think for a minute that the guys making 60 million a year will ever pay what the rest of us do. After 2008 it should be clear that they own congress lock stock and barrel. But, this argument is BS. The only ones paying no taxes are the ones receiving transfer payments, and the only ones paying low taxes both derive essentially all of thier income via dividends and long term capitol gains then only need to spend a small fraction of it to live on.

    Best,
    Dan

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  16. Is it a conicidence that the initials for both Denial of Service and Department of State are DOS? Hmmmmm.

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  17. Benghazi.

    Arab Spring.

    This, if female is gonna be difficult:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9BD7CYLTndk

    Pay attention people - whoever we hear "this stuff from."

    Arkie

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  18. Woe is me --- a Brit friend:

    (Now if anybody sees an Arkie - purely coincidental):

    http://duffandnonsense.typepad.com/

    Arkie

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  19. I moved out of a Brooklyn neighborhood of foreigners (new US voters) just four year ago. All good socialists. As soon as they get off the airplane with their nice new "green cards", they want to know: Where's my check?

    I felt like a sucker for buying my own groceries, when all the other "ladies" got theirs free. Plus nice growing families they don't have W-2 wages to pay for. YOU are paying. Children cost them little - US taxpayers give away food, free medical care, $1,000 cash from the IRS per child, EITC cash, cell phones.

    Western countries with high immigration rates of people from low skill countries are probably committing financial suicide.

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