Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On A Person Referring To Government Taxing To Fund Social Safety Net Programs As "Confiscation" & Implying Someone Who Votes For A Candidate Who Favors This Because They'd Personally Benefit As Lacking Morals

I would direct this individual to the Constitution, which reads as follows...

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; (Wikipedia/Taxing and Spending Clause).

Yes, this person (Willis Hart of the blog "Contra O'Reilly") is a Libertarian; and Libertarians don't believe that the Constitution gives Congress the power to tax to pay for "general welfare" items, but THEY ARE WRONG!

[Libertarians believe] Section 8 of the Constitution forbids the spending of tax money in order to help people, but if you actually read Article 1, Section 8 instead of just accepting [a Libertarian's] word for it, you'll see that [they are] just plain wrong. Article 1, Section 8 begins: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States".

The meaning of this clause is very clear: If a legislative action can be justified as providing for the general welfare of the United States, then Congress has the power to do it (other provisions providing some limitations, such as the guarantees of free speech and so on in the Bill of Rights). There's no provision anywhere else in the Constitution that forbids Congress from engaging in secular charitable action. (A Libertarian Ignorance of General Welfare Challenges Jared Polis by Congress Watcher. That's My Congress 12/22/2009).

The Supreme Court specifically rebuked the Libertarian interpretation with their 1/6/1936 decision in United States v. Butler, in which the majority opinion was that the clause granted "a substantive power... to appropriate", which is not subject to the limitations imposed by the other enumerated powers of Congress (source).

So, the Supreme Court has ruled that government DOES have the power to levy taxes in order to pay for the "general welfare". There is also, btw, no restriction on voters that says they can't cast their ballot for a candidate that promises some "general welfare" spending that might personally benefit the voter. In spite of what Willis might think.

Willis Hart: On Voting for Somebody Because They Promised to Confiscate Property from One Person and Give it to You... Has it really come down to that? I mean, are we that desperate and pitiful now? (1/31/2016 AT 8:40).

So, no. It hasn't "come down to this". This, I would figure, has ALWAYS been a factor for many voters. Voters who would not describe their motivations for selecting a candidate as either "desperate" or "pitiful" (or morally lacking). I would say they are acting in their rational self interest... and isn't this something Libertarians consider a virtue?

Secondly, I'd remind this person that the United States *is* a social democracy. The US isn't as strong a social democracy as the European social democracies, but we do have Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other socialist programs... and these programs have entire voting blocks for which these programs play a prominent role (in regards to who these blocks vote for). Seniors on Social Security might be "desperate" and their situation might be "pitiful"... but are these voters "pitiful"?

Obviously Willis believes so (and looks down his nose at these people). Which reminds me of (as Media Matters described it) "Matthew Vadum's vicious diatribe against poor people".

Media Matters: What is a news network to do when an author compares poor Americans to criminals and says it's "un-American" to help them vote? If that network is Fox - the home of class warfare against the poor - the decision is to give that author a spot on TV the next day.

The day after publishing an article titled, "Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American", which contained such abhorrent statements as "[r]egistering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals" and repeatedly called the poor "nonproductive segments of the population", right-wing author Matthew Vadum appeared on Eric Bolling's Fox Business show to rail against President Obama's voter outreach plan. (9/3/2011 article by Zachary Pleat).

What I find pitiful is this kind of demonization of the poor (from the likes of Hart and Vadum. I bet the Hartster would love Vadum's article). I can absolutely see Willis agreeing that "encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money".

BTW, I'd like to point out that this commentary from Willis (in which he calls voters acting in their own economic self-interest desperate and pitiful) lies in stark contrast with his previously stated support for the negative income tax.

Willis Hart: Yes, we do away with the minimum wage, completely. But then we replace it with a form of negative income tax, possibly along the lines of what Milton Friedman first suggested. [excerpt from "Thinking Outside the Wage"] (6/4/2012 AT 7:13pm).

Doing away with the minimum wage is an idea that Conservatives love because it is (in essence) a subsidy to Big Business, in that it allows companies to underpay labor (Walmart being a HUGE offender here) and have the taxpayer make up the difference (SWTD #222).

Willis claims that we should "allow the market to set the true value of labor" but (if you get rid of the MW and institute a NIT) the result would be an EVEN GREATER undervaluing of labor (as he says, when you subsidize something you get more of it. Here the thing you'd get more of is low wage jobs... and they wouldn't be newly created jobs, they'd be existing jobs that employers could significantly drop the wages for).

But, setting that argument aside, where the hell does Willis think the government is going to get the money to pay a negative income tax? This would, of course, require more EVIL "confiscation" (of "other people's money"). Perhaps he's changed his mind on this and now thinks we should just let poor people die? I don't know.

In either case I say these views (government taxation as authorized by the Constitution is "confiscation" or "theft") prove the Hartster is a total moron as well as a stoogish true-believing plutocrat lover.

Image: The cartoon below was one of the results returned when I did an image search on "Negative Income Tax". Obviously the cartoonist does not have a positive view of it. BTW, notice that the stick figures who are non-payers are smiling... why the f*ck would people who are so poor that they don't have to pay income taxes be smiling?! F*cking ridiculous. Reminds me of the sitcom about happy homeless people (because they had no responsibilities) that was pitched to the Jack Lucas character in the movie The Fisher King.

OST #103

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