Rat's Nest
Bloggage, rants, and occasional notes of despair

Leviathin Redux

It's been about five months since I’ve bothered to update this blog. In that time, I’ve grown five months older, five months sicker, and five months poorer; I still do not have an income, or any prospect of one. As Dr. Johnson said, knowing that you’ll be hanged in the morning concentrates the mind wonderfully; at least in my case, however, it does not concentrate the mind on blogging.

There's a slightly interesting op-ed on page B6 of the Washington Post today, roundly condemning (of course) the Bush tax cuts, but pleading for fiscal responsibility on the part of Democrats.  "Fiscal responsibility", of course, means raising taxes, not only to cover the current deficit, but any new spending schemes as well.

It’s mostly tranzie-oriented bullshit.

Are Americans "historically" overtaxed? Well, that depends on whether you believe, as the Post seems to, that "history" began in 1979. We might argue, of course, that things that happened more than a generation ago should have no weight in the current political consciousness. By this argument, though, we ought to congratulate Pinochet on surviving so long that no one of political sense could fault him for his actions (this same argument could be applied to reparations for both slavery and the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans). Indeed, taking a "that was then, this is now" attitude towards these matters largely undercuts the argument of the fascist left that America ought to be opposed in present time because of its less than ideal acts in the past. Who cares about those acts?, we can say in reply; they happened before you were born.

Now, we can certainly argue whether the redistribution theme of the progressive income tax is to be seen as populist or fascist, and therefore whether it should be accepted as an unfortunate but necessary concession to the reality that an-caps so vehemently deny, or should be fought as a matter of basic morality. What cannot be argued, though, is that the scope of the modern state is so large that it cannot be financed by liturgies, tariffs, and excises, but must take some substance from the middle class. As Willie Sutton is alleged to said when asked why he robbed banks, that's where the money is.

One thing (among many others) that the Post shows no evidence of understanding is the difference between current and capital expenditures. For the sake of discussion, let us take GAAP as representing sound accounting (whilst acknowledging that, as often as not, they are an attempt to dress up the vagaries of the tax code in lace panties). We ought, then, to distinguish between current spending, which ought to come out of the current revenue stream in anything approaching normal times (we can concede in, that in a WWII-type situation, all bets are off -- survival comes first, then, if we live, we can worry about the damage caused by our policies), and capital spending, which can be justly financed.

The mention of Social Security and Medicare is telling, too. Like most tranzies and the institutions that they maintain, they seem to be schizophrenic about their financing, asserting that everything is just peachy when a threat, however unrealistic or ill--thought-out, is made to place those monies beyond their immediate control, and yelping that it is irresponsibly inadequate otherwise. A large portion of this blame, of course, may be placed on the AARP, which insists on pretending that Social Security is a defined-benefits pension plan rather than a Ponzi scheme to supply non-means-tested welfare to its members.

The Post is probably correct in condemning the Bush tax cuts; the evidence of all history (that is, since 1979) is that, given the choice between spending money that isn't coming in and balancing the budget, the left will choose the former every time (nor, let it be acknowledged, will a Republican Congress make a different choice). However, they reach the right conclusion for the wrong reasons; they are less impressed by a balanced budget than by a big one. Conservative politics ought to concentrate not on starving the Federal government so much as amputating parts of it. That, of course, will be a much harder sell for conservative politicians; they will have to think, instead of repeating "tax cut" as a mantra.

John "Akatsukami" Braue Sunday, September 21, 2003