A Confession of Bias, Followed by a Bunch of Stuff You Should Probably Ignore

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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  1. Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

    I for the whipping process if you add the following rider. Any citizen can perform the whipping for not less than 10 minutes for the cost of .1 % of their annual income donated to the general fund.

    We are in a funding crunch after all.Report

    • Avatar 62across says:

      I, too, support the whipping process, though to choose the whippee randomly seems unfair. I say we start with the leadership (Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader first) and work our way down.Report

      • Avatar rj says:

        I’m sure some members of Congress already pay good money to get flogged.

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      I say we re-legalize 18th century dueling.

      Let them take those (horribly inaccurate) pistols out into a field and take pot shots at each other at 30 paces. Most of the time they’d miss and they can go back to all the bloviating.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Swordsmanship has much to commend about it, too, including but not limited to better YouTube videos.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          Yeah, but deaths will be a lot more frequent. I’m not really that bloodthirsty.

          I just want people who play with fire to at least have some willingness to accept the risk that they *might* get burned. Right now, the political consequences to obstructionism (for either party) are nil. I don’t see that changing.

          So introducing some sort of consequence seems to be in order, or obstructionism will continue to be the default position.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    A NASA engineer….. mega cool.

    Why of course the people being furloughed are not responsible but will suffer the consequences. I say we suspend the medical insurance for congress during the shutdown.

    I understand the need to note you have a personal stake so we should ignore your opinion, but that really doesn’t make much sense. People with a personal stake often now a bit more about any given topic. Yeah of course they have a bias, but people who have no personal stake have a bias also.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Ideally, all arguments would be presented from behind a veil of ignorance. It may help to imagine that the argument was found in a notebook that had been left in a train station.

      But then, the author of that notebook probably supports transit subsidies.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Well it might be best if we saw all arguments from behind a wall of ignorance; i’m not sure of that. But glenn beck is leaving Fox News so where do we find said wall.Report

      • Avatar Aidan says:

        It’s pretty easy to oppose government spending when the budget is just an abstract concept. When actually faced with a government shutdown or severe cuts, people with libertarian views on spending are actually faced with examples of how the government helps support their daily lives. The veil of ignorance would be useful if we weren’t talking about budget negotiations that are going to negatively impact actual people.

        If we were discussing, for example, a proposal to completely eliminate Social Security without considering what might happen the perspective of seniors who depend on those checks for the majority of their income (which is true for the majority of Americans) it would give us a completely distorted view of the actual stakes.

        People always support spending cuts until they realize what it means to them.Report

        • 1. Jason, and I think most libertarians (myself included) quite frankly, are vastly more concerned about the powers of government than about the size of government. Jason has even written about this: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/02/17/government-spending-and-liberty/

          As have I, for that matter.

          2. There is also a legitimate issue here, though, of long-term pain versus short-term pain. Nearly everyone agrees that the consequences of the government going broke in the long-term would be unacceptably severe; there is legitimate disagreement over the likelihood of that happening on our current path and over whose oxen ought to get gored to prevent it. This debate, however, is mostly not a debate over competing theories of the scope of government, though there is perhaps some theoretical-based difference of opinion as to the priorities assigned different roles of government. Notice, however, that such a debate has nothing to do with limitations on the powers of government.

          3. The way in which the GOP is looking to cut spending right now has little, if anything, to do with limiting the powers of government, only cutting back its size, and at that only temporarily since it’s mostly not addressing the structural problems underlying the national debt.

          4. Just because the GOP is waving a flag that says “limited government” doesn’t mean that their idea of “limited government” has much, if anything, to do with Jason’s concept thereof.

          5. Even if one assumes the long-term problem of the national debt is severe, there are ways of solving the long-term problems that minimize short-term pain and do not create an instability that could be even worse than the long-term problem.

          6. With respect to Jason specifically, he’s long made clear that at the core of his beliefs is a belief in the centrality of the rule of law, ie, that the government must be relatively predictable and non-arbitrary so that individuals may plan accordingly and act in reliance on that predictability. Just pulling the rug out from underneath in the name of cutting spending (even in the name of “limited government”) is directly counter to this.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            To which the average Martian might ask “If not government, then who?”

            Are you so willing to cut the balls off government, knowing corporations will step into the power vacuum thus created? Those are your choices. There are no others.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              So we “cut the balls off government” by legalizing marijuana… and corporations step into the power vacuum, breaking into houses, destroying property, and killing people in cold blood?

              I’m missing a few steps here, I think.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                The people seem to be doing just fine repealing laws against marijuana without the assistance of the Libertarians. Now, do you propose we roll back the Pure Food and Drug Act, and let the corporations put laudanum in everything?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I can’t help but wonder if that wouldn’t have fewer downsides than what we have now.

                Hey. Free laudanum.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Yeah. Let’s take the labels off food. No more regulation of medications. Thalidomide babies with their cute li’l flippers coz those Fine Drug Companies did their testing and we know they always tell us the truth. Whoo-ee!

                Sometimes I wish Libertarians could just be moved into a few counties and let them see how their idyllic society would work in practice. They’d all be dead inside of a month.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Because, of course, there is no way to say that “X has gone too far and is now doing more harm than good” without also saying “we need to burn X to the ground”.

                (I’m of the opinion that the job of the FDA ought to be to ensure that labels are correct rather than to say that only people with a valid driver’s license and two other forms of ID ought to be able to buy Sudafed… but, hey. I understand that the only other option is laudanum in our thalidomide.)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Just you tell me the way. This resolves to the BlaiseP Quantum Pig Paradox: One man’s pork is another man’s bacon. Too far? I am told we’ve gone Too Far with regulating marijuana and I suppose we have. Laws can be repealed without any of this Libertarian bosh wherein I am supposed to agree government ought to be Smaller.

                Now here’s a bit of news, Libertarians: the quickest way to undo the effects of legislation is to fire the bureaucracy which enforces the laws. I recommend starting with the meat inspectors and aircraft safety inspectors. After a few thousand people died and a dozen aircraft catastrophically decompressed at altitude, I’d make the Libertarians dig their graves.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Given that most of the complaints from most of the libertarians with regards to the FDA talk about how they don’t allow terminal patients to experiment with untested therapies even if they’re willing to sign a waiver, why do you keep harping on meat inspectors?

                It’s like if you said that you were offended by the Texas Biology textbook sticker issue and I started bitching about how you anti-theists were racist against Muslims.

                I suppose I could see how you’d get from here to there in theory… but there’s a lot of neither here nor there in between.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Like I said, it’s a Quantum Pig Paradox. When it comes to Big Gummint, as with Calvin Coolidge summary of the Sermon on Sin, we’re Agin’ It.

                But exactly which part of our government is too big? I keep pushing this point, nothing seems to emerge but this Teenage Angst about how Gummint Won’t allow this unproven therapy, even with a waiver, Won’t let you smoke weed, Won’t this, Won’t that — when at long last will I get one goddamn Libertarian to tell me why every one of Horrible Government’s current roles and capacities won’t be immediately usurped by the Wonderful Corporations.

                So let’s get this straight. In general terms, it’s Big Gummint Bad and Big Corporations Good. But in reality BlaiseP’s Quantum Pork Paradox points to the useful bureaucrat doing an entirely necessary job, to a chorus of jeers and catcalls from the Ivory Tower Libertarian.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I honestly suspect that if we got rid of the DEA that there would not immediately be a vacuum created that would then be filled by corporations shooting my dogs for growing weed.

                When Denmark legalized pot, did corporations start doing that there?

                I ask because I suspect you’d know.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Sho’ nuff. Denmark, that examplar of Libertarian government. They’re now giving their addicts prescription heroin, paid for with state health care funds. I’m not sure you want to ever use the example of Denmark again.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Blaise, I’ve explained several times what libertarians should value — and what they should not value — in the “small government” movement. Here is my best attempt, I think.

                I believe it’s the third time I’ve linked it today. And, looking back on that post, you seem to have discussed it with me.

                Had you forgotten? I’m curious.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So are there people who, AND PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS PART BECAUSE IT IS VERY MUCH THE PART THAT I SAW AS THE RELEVANT VACUUM BEING CREATED, kick down doors and shoot dogs?

                Or does the government still do that there?

                Or, given the lack of the equivalent of a DEA, does the door-kicking/dog-shooting vacuum languish unfilled by either government or corporation?

                Because that was the question that I asked.

                (I can quote it for you, if you’d like.)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I wrote what I did about the DEA and FDA, precisely because the are is the prima facie cases against Libertarian thinking.

                There are plenty of cases where government should be pruned back. I don’t do government contracting any more: it’s good money, often better than I get on the public sector. I was part of the Military Industrial Complex, first military, then industrial, then just another high priced hagfish feeding on the dead whales of gigantic, doomed projects. Complex.

                You think America would be better off without the DEA? You have no idea what you would unleash in terms of concomitant crime. Even countries where heroin use is legal, the need for a drug enforcement administration would not go away.

                Here’s why Libertarian philosophy is stricky fer amachoors: you lot want to cut spending and enforcement in the “right” places. Except you never get around to a definition of “right”. Are you completely blind to the notion that regulatory laws are written in blood? Libertarians seem hell-bent on simple repeal without any notion of why those laws were enacted in the first place.

                You’d be far better served to mix in some serious Liberal philosophy, wherein your right to individual liberties are enshrined in laws applying to everyone.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So do they kick down doors and shoot dogs or not?

                I’ll quote Thomas Sowell here. It seems appropriate enough.

                No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: “But what would you replace it with?” When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?

                The DEA is a fire at this point, Blaise.

                Worse than nothing.

                The bad things that will pop up after Prohibition is repealled are lesser evils to the bad things that Prohibition *CREATED*.

                But, if you insist, I’d be down with drugs being treated similarly to beer/wine/liquor.

                In the same way that we don’t really worry about folks stealing rubbing alcohol from grocery stores, we’ll be able to put Sudafed back on the shelves.

                And, hey, not as many dead dogs.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Thomas Sowell will not save your argument. His metaphor is as weak as his thinking. We aren’t putting out a fire here, that was my metaphor and it turned into a regular barn-burner, to use another metaphor.

                Before the Pure Food and Drug Act, opiates were completely unregulated and a significant population of Americans were addicted to it. It was called Snake Oil. The British, quite sensibly, made the druggists print the word POISON on any drug which might produce an overdose in sufficient quantity and made its sale subject to a doctor’s prescription. The various states of the USA tried to get laws passed, but the snake oil companies got around it via the US Mail. So now we have the FDA and the DEA, a draconian solution to a very serious problem; draconian because nothing else worked to regulate the sale of opium.

                I don’t think I’m quoting him correctly here, but Thomas Sowell once said history is full of examples of people replacing something which actually worked with something which sounded like a great idea. To which I would counter: history is far fuller of examples of people who pulled out the props in the mineshaft of civilization in the name of freedom, only to be Very Surprised when the mountain fell on them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We’re not talking about “before the pure food and drug act”, Blaise.

                We’re talking about government agents kicking down doors and shooting dogs in the name of prohibition.

                Getting rid of prohibition is something that this country has done once before. Getting rid of it then was a good thing (though, granted, not an unqualified good).

                Getting rid of prohibition a second time would also be a good thing. Focusing on the things that would make it not an unqualified good is one thing. Focusing on the days before the pure food and drug act when *NO ONE IS SUGGESTING WE GET RID OF THE PURE FOOD AND DRUG ACT* is weird.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Jaybird, Jaybird. Don’t try the Jack-Booted Thugs line on me. The drugs policy of this country of ourn is totally fubar, but the need for jackbooted orifices of the law, armed with warrants and hi-powered weapons, has not gone away, not until lions lie down with lambs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We have to kick down doors and shoot dogs because, hey, the opposite is anarchy?

                If only there were a third option!Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                laudanum, Jim Beam, and a decent cigar,…dude!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                … and a copy of DeQuincey’s Confessions and a few tablespoons of laxative to help things along. Lemme tell you, laudanum will stopper you up so bad it will take an act of Congress and two sticks of dynamite to get your bowels moving again.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Heh, heh. Every time I ask for this marvelous Third Way, I get no answers, Jaybird. I say anarchy is exactly what you’re going to get and you haven’t shown otherwise. Now come up with a Third Way or drop it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’ve suggested treating drugs after prohibition the way we treated alcohol after prohibition.

                Does that not count as a third way because anybody who thinks that we changed the way that alcohol was treated after prohibition doesn’t understand that people regularly died of alcohol poisoning and of alcohol tainted with wood alcohols in the 1700s?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                You’re joking, of course. You’re telling me someone is going to present a bill wherein we start selling heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and the like, whatever the hell people want — over the counter.

                Have you ever seen what methamphetamine does to people? Or cocaine? Or heroin? Are you fucking JOKING?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “I can understand people wanting a beer. Maybe a glass of wine. But *RUM*? *WHISKEY*??? *BOURBON*???? *VODKA*????????? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME????????”

                “No, Mister Ness. I am not.”Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                You just ran out of credibility right there. A meth head isn’t a casual user: he’s an addict. He’s an addict from his first hit. Coke, heroin, same story. They get to the point where they’re stealing and prostituting to support their habits. Alcohol, weed, tobacco, people still go to work. Not the meth head, not the coke head, not the junkie. There’s an argument for giving them their drugs beyond the supply of the crooks, give them clean needles and the like, but your complete naivete when it comes to addiction and its cost to society tells me this discussion is completely beyond your frame of reference.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’re using bathtub gin as an excuse to keep prohibition.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                See, here’s where this debate is going to stop. You win. Since we can’t stop people from doing whatever they want, regardless of the consequences to others, let’s all advocate a wonderful, free form world in which meth heads win Nobel Prizes and invent cures for cancer.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The people seem to be doing just fine repealing laws against marijuana without the assistance of the Libertarians.

                Now, I don’t know that this is true given the current administration’s tendencies to kick in doors on medicinal marijuana distributors. They’re not leaving it up to the states and they’re not seeing it as an opportunity to move it to schedule 2.

                They’re still seeing it as an opportunity to kick down doors.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Somebody’s gotta break into houses.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                If the Libertarian’s house catches fire, can he call the Fire Department in good conscience? One facile jape deserves another.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                As long as you’re making me pay for it, you’re darned right I am.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                There wouldn’t be a fire department to pay if Libertarians ran the planet. Hope your little water pump connected to your well doesn’t give out, you wouldn’t have a municipal water system either.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think it would depend on whether he’s poor or not.

                Because if he’s poor the argument seems to become that certain poor people shouldn’t call the fire department and I’ve spent enough time helping kids in the inner city to know *EXACTLY* what you mean when you say that certain poor people shouldn’t call the fire department, Blaise.

                And I’m disgusted.Report

              • Avatar Barry says:

                “I’m missing a few steps here, I think.”

                Jason, you’re missing an honest response – I hate to be the one to tell you, but the issues at stake do not include decriminalization of the private use of drugs.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            “3. The way in which the GOP is looking to cut spending right now has little, if anything, to do with limiting the powers of government, only cutting back its size, and at that only temporarily since it’s mostly not addressing the structural problems underlying the national debt.

            ……..

            5. Even if one assumes the long-term problem of the national debt is severe, there are ways of solving the long-term problems that minimize short-term pain and do not create an instability that could be even worse than the long-term problem.”

            No, Mark. There is no multiplicity of ways to solve the debt crisis. Team Red has pretty clearly demonstrated that the only way that expenditures can be reformed is that Team Red and everybody who’s not a partisan for Team Blue gangs up on Team Blue and forces them to acquiesce to cuts in spending.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              Your funny Koz.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Koz, team Red has demonstrated that perhaps for the first time probably since Bush Senior, they’re actually serious about solving the debt crisis. For that they do deserve credit and I’ll happily extend it. One can quibble about their spending cut priorities; lots of lower income and environmental impacting stuff and very little impact on higher income groups, corporations, defense and agribusiness but hell it’s their cutting proposal so I don’t begrudge them that. I don’t even begrudge them larding even more tax cuts into the proposal (well not much).

              But to pretend like it’s the only way is just facile.
              We could cut defense and corporate welfare more, leave out the useless tax cut and thus cut welfare for poor, sick and old people less.
              Or
              We could raise taxes back to Clinton era levels. Cut spending on defense and corporate welfare. Pull out of some European bases and maybe a war or two and cut welfare for poor, sick and old people even less.
              Or
              An innumerable number of alternative variations that’d make Uncle Grover’s party flip out since they involved no tax cuts or even *horrors* tax increases from the historically low level current tax rates are at or *scandal* stepping down from the madcap international interventionist kick the country has been on since Bush the Chimpy and Uncle Rumsfield went off on their excellent adventures in the Middle East.

              What remains to be seen is whether/when Obama/Team Blue respond to Ryan’s proposal with their own counter proposal. I certainly hope they do, and soonest but they’re probably going to want to finish off all this short term government shutdown fooferaw first.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “But to pretend like it’s the only way is just facile. We could cut defense and corporate welfare more, leave out the useless tax cut and thus cut welfare for poor, sick and old people less.”

                No no. The debt crisis is about expenditures not revenues. We could call it a growth/debt crisis to be pedantic.

                And in this game the Ryan plan is only one of the pieces on the board. An important piece, but only one nonetheless, and not really the one in play at the moment. We also have the CR/shutdown negotiations as well.

                And in this context, it’s pretty clear the D’s got nothin’. Their moves are smokescreens: we’re not going to cut anything, but if we generate enough obfuscation and get to a shutdown then hopefully the public will blame Team Red.

                There’s a decent chance it’ll work. To some extent it’s up to the likes of you. IIRC you’ve claimed in the past that you in particular and liberals in general aren’t going to trash the economy. We’re going to find out soon enough.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Bullshit. There is no debt crisis. There is a long-term deficit problem in as far as it would make us harder to spend on thing x if we’re spending amount y on debt service, but as long as we’re one of the preeminent superpowers on the planet, we’re not going to end up like Greece or Portugal – because we’re not Greece or Portugal. Indeed, if Greece and Portugal were still on their own currency, they wouldn’t be in a debt crisis of such proportions either.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Bullshit. There is no debt crisis.”

                This is unintelligent commentary from someone who’s got no real understanding of the trajectory of revenues or expenditures.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Sorry Koz, that’s not going to fly, or at least not yet. You can’t just exclude revenues simply because you like arguing about it more that way. The question at hand is a debt/deficit question and debt/deficit is a factor of both spending, on which Team Red and Team Blue are equally horrible, and revenue where at least Team Blue historically has been honest enough to try and pay for it with taxes where as Team Red prefers borrowing.
                Now whether Obama and Co are capable of being able stewards of the economy and national finances remain to be proven. If they man up and produce their own budget proposal that uses some combination of taxes and spending cuts to get the government back in the black or on course to be in the black then that’ll be that.

                But let’s give credit where it’s due. Ryan’s budget is at least putting Team Red back onto the board in terms of credibility for economic constraint. That’s a big achievement all by itself after the debacle of the Bush years you so earnestly try to pretend never happened. I’m happy for you and for the country. It’s good to see some glimmers of sanity on the right.Report

              • Avatar Shygetz says:

                Credibility? Ryan’s numbers are sheer fantasy. His plan would make the deficit worse than if we did absolutely nothing! Not to mention the fact that he cuts Medicare expenditures by not only shifting the costs to the private sector, but increasing the overall cost of care.

                “Credibility” and “sanity” are not two things that should be concluded from the Ryan budget.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I said it puts Team Red back on the board in terms of credibility. As in moving closer to being credible. I’m not saying that the proposal itself is good or even reasonable.

                The GOP and Tea Party has claimed to care about spending. I personally and many who I read have challenged them to identify what they would cut. This budget, like it or hate it, does identify what they’d cut.
                -Yes: It is larded with more tax cuts.
                -Yes: It has a blatant sop to the GOP white-old-angry-base in that it excludes the next decade of pensioners from cuts.
                -Yes: because of both of those things it makes the budget picture worse for the next decade.

                But it is ballsy and it does cut spending so for me at least it does lend some credibility.

                And for the reasons you have mentioned and I’ve echoed it is wildly, massively, vitally important that Obama or his congressional colleagues on the Democrat side come out with a budget of their own showing how our side would balance the budget. Ryans’ budget needs to be answered with one of our own. We can’t just sit and hurtle criticisms at their plan without one of our own or we’ll end up sitting in the same vacuous position the GOP has be squatting in with regards to Health Care reform for the last couple years.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                I do think a response needs to be made.

                But first political hay must be made and the Ryan’s of the world need to be shamed for the quality of this proposal.

                Never stop your opponent when they are hurting themselves.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “But first political hay must be made and the Ryan’s of the world need to be shamed for the quality of this proposal. “

                Good luck with that one.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Considering 76% of American’s down’t want Medicare cut to pay for the deficit, I should be the one giving you luck.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I’m not worried. Given the Obama Adminstration’s Stupid Human Tricks wrt the health care bill, I’d venture it’s your team that’s on the hook for that one.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “You can’t just exclude revenues simply because you like arguing about it more that way.”

                Sure I can, among other things for some very concrete reasons that are not that complicated.

                Whatever isn’t taxed is borrowed, and whatever isn’t borrowed is taxed. In neither case is it available for return on investment.

                Consequently new investment has tanked in America (and elsewhere in the world), and therefore nobody gets hired. Therefore we have unemployment.

                There’s lots of other issues involved as well, but it’s important to note this one because its a result solely of excessive government expenditures.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Utter fantasy. I suppose you’re going to dig up supply side economics and the Laffer curve next?
                If you want to talk about deficit reduction you talk about government expenditures AND revenue.
                If you want to talk about the effect of tax rates on the economy that’s a separate issue, and one I note where you’re characterization is not very credible. The economy has grown and flourished repeatedly under higher taxation levels including taxation that included significant borrowing with a much smaller economy.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Utter fantasy. I suppose you’re going to dig up supply side economics and the Laffer curve next?”

                Actually I tend to support both of those but this is actually closer to what the economists call Ricardian equivalence.

                “If you want to talk about deficit reduction you talk about government expenditures AND revenue.”

                No. Deficit reduction is moderately important but not nearly as important as reduction in expenditures which is crucial.

                In order to come to grips with the current economic recession, you have to be able to see problems caused by excessive expenditures (and future excessive expenditures) independent of anything else.

                Whatever isn’t taxed is borrowed, whatever isn’t borrowed is taxed. In either case, any money committed to government expenditures (or perceived to be so) is not available for return on investment.

                Therefore investment dies and everybody is unemployed.

                This isn’t the only problem in the economy but it is the one that cannot be solved without reductions and spending (and perceptions of such for the future). Ie, this problem is a function of the level of government expenditures, not what the money is spent on or how it is financed.Report

  3. Jason – I appreciate your honesty and I genuinely feel for your situation. I have friends and family in the same boat. I guess the conservative in me is tempted to say that it’s a risk one signs up for when they hitch themselves to the government feed wagon. The realist in me knows it’s way more complicated than that.

    I think it would be great if the folks in Congress figured out a way to make pay immune to these kinds of situations. The people consuming the services should be the ones that feel the weight of their requests on their government. Of course the flip side is that if government workers aren’t also feeling the pinch then they have no interest in pressing for a budget deal so they can go back to work.

    I guess the cliche statement is that everyone has some skin in the game and the amount of skin dictates how much a shutdown will hurt.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      I heard today that there’s twice as many gummint jobs then jobs in manufacturing which should tell everyone what’s coming down the road. If the Tea Party affiliated Republicans in the sundry states and general gummint fail to drastically reduce spending, eliminate costs, and get the debt under control we’ll decline into a third world state, which may indeed by our Kenyan-Marxist president’s objective.Report

      • Avatar stillwater says:

        which may indeed by our Kenyan-Marxist president’s objective.

        You’ve broken the code Bob. Obama is not just secretly, but is now openly trying to destroy the US. This makes sense, of course, when you understand that he’s really a Mooslum operative working for OBL, trying to take us down from the inside and convert Christian babies into suicide bombers.

        Is that about right?Report

        • Avatar Heideggger says:

          Mr. Stillwater Runs Deep, can we even begin to contemplate the unimaginable ? Like…., well, you know…..ah….Okay, here goes. We’re all aware what’s going on here but we’re understandably, scared to death to admit it–this is the TRUTH and we should all start acknowledging it–Obama was conceived of a Virgin Mother. Would he be spending $3,000,000 to conceal this truth if it wasn’t the Truth? Of course not. Everything, all the pieces of this puzzle fit perfectly together. Yes, he was born in Kenya of Virgin Mother, although this is hardly the end of the story. I think Congress should immediately convene and have hearings and MUST DEMAND all the medical records from birth till now. They need to immediately take a blood and DNA test to determine once and for all if he is 100% homo sapien. I maintain he is not. He is of Lucifer. Please don’t start with the racial business–this is much too serious of a subject to be taken lightly. All I’m saying is that Obama was “delivered” to a heavily anesthetized woman in Kenya— anesthesized so she would have no memory of these events. His mother certainly had no idea this baby was not hers. I can also provide a Kenyan obstetrician who will testify that the “real” Obama baby was stolen in the dead of night and I can also provide a Kenyan barber who actually branded the numbers, 666 into the beast’s skull. If only this was just a matter of him being born in another country. It should be quite apparent that we are in a very, very difficult and dangerous situation so why not resolve this, once and for all, and get all his medical records starting from the day he was born? Seems easy enough to do. I would think a majority of House and Senate members would agree to hold hearings to get to the bottom of this–this is way beyond any notion of partisan politics. Thanks–I just knew there would be a lot of support considering that we’re only dealing with the survival of the human race. Nice, that there is a topic that we can all, more or less, agree upon! (Very Omenish, indeed.)Report

    • Avatar Boegiboe says:

      Keep in mind that we civil servants aren’t allowed to take any collective action to lobby Congress for anything. Not that we’d be able to effect much if we were–we’d just be that much less sympathetic if we pleaded our case to Congress.

      I could get paid a good deal more for my expertise in the private sector. I may do that someday. But right now, I want us to have a stable home while we’re raising our daughter. It’s true: I’ve always known a furlough was a possibility. There have been several times in my career when I would have been on that forced-labor list–those civil servants required by law to do their jobs even though they aren’t getting paid for it (and there are a LOT of those). I’m mostly glad this isn’t one of those times.

      But, then again, would you think it was fair, or wise, to have me continue to develop space technology without pay, under the possibility I might never be paid for the time? What quality of work would you expect?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      hitch themselves to the government feed wagon

      I’m surprised conservatives never speak in these terms when it’s about military service members. I know plenty of highly educated scientists and engineers who took a considerable pay-cut (benefits included) and hitched themselves to the government feed wagon because they thought it was the right thing to do for their country. I guess in Galt’s Gulch they’re considered foolish moochers.Report

  4. Avatar Koz says:

    Ouch, that’s gonna suck.

    This is a lacuna in the bigger issue that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten much traction. The Democrats’ negotiating stance operates out of necessity, but it’s essentially incoherent or duplicitous at the core, given the basic structure of the legislature.

    The Republicans want to spend lots of government money, and the Demos want to spend more. Where the GOP has control of at least one branch of the legislature, the D’s essential tactic is: we’re going to veto spending that we want, in order to force you to appropriate spending that you don’t want. It’s pretty much blackmail, but the Republicans haven’t been able to work that angle.

    As it is, if they can’t come to an agreement, it all shuts down, or at least all that the judge allows to be shut down.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      yeah, that’s a really myopic take on the situation.Report

    • It hurts me to say this, but there actually is some truth in this statement. The counter to this is that Democrats are simply choosing the lesser of two evils – accepting the GOP budget without any hope for restoring that which is not funded in that budget will have severe repercussions for far more than just the federal workforce. But this is nominally, at least, the calculation of the Democrats and their allies; to the extent the Republicans are acting in good faith,* they are making a different calculation – that the harm to others will not exceed the harm to federal workers. So at least with respect to who is directly responsible for causing immediate harm to those federal workers whose jobs the GOP does not seek to eliminate, you’re probably right here.

      *Whenever we are talking about politicians, especially modern GOP politicians, the phrase “extent they are acting in good faith” must inherently do a lot of heavy lifting.Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        For a lot of negotiations, there is an important ground rule, “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.” That may be the case here, but it doesn’t have to be.

        It ought to be funny that a libertarian is at least halfheartedly defending the application of total centralization in this case. You’d think they’d want to stick up for at least one of the processes behind limited government.Report

        • Avatar stillwater says:

          You’d think they’d want to stick up for at least one of the processes behind limited government.

          Adhering to principles are for other people.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            I’m not sure I’m following either you or Koz here. My sense was that Mark was simply narrating the political strategies of other people — not endorsing any of them.

            Personally, I’d welcome passing a budget that included everything that all sides agree on. Then deal with the other things later. I think that’s a great idea.Report

            • Avatar stillwater says:

              My point was that normative principles invoked for political reasons are frequently, if not usually, discarded (hypocritically) when they conflict with one’s self-interest.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Maybe, but probably not in this circumstance. In this case, I think Mark’s liberaltarian cultural affinity is getting the better of him.Report

            • Avatar stillwater says:

              Or to flesh it out some: you advocate limited government. The expected shutdown is the result of an impasse caused by those advocating limited government. Yet adherence to the principle seems to be discarded now that you are personally feeling the consequences of that advocacy. (Not that you advocate for all that the Teabuggers are proposing, hence Koz’s comment that it merely ‘ought to be funny’).Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “Personally, I’d welcome passing a budget that included everything that all sides agree on. Then deal with the other things later. I think that’s a great idea.”

              Yeah, the point of my comment was that’s exactly what the Demo’s won’t allow us to do.

              As far as Mark goes, the all-or-none nature of this negotiation is an important part of Leviathan as it stands. Yet Mark is willing to abide that much more than some other things.Report

              • Avatar Fargus says:

                Let’s think, for just one bare second, about why the Dems wouldn’t want this to happen.

                So things have been talked about in terms of cuts relative to this year’s spending. The stuff that the two parties agree on would probably represent more cuts than even the Tea Party is asking for. So if the parties passed that bill, all the Republicans have to do is block everything else and they win a super victory.

                Does it make sense, then, that the Dems would choose not to do this? It’s asinine to blame them for not giving up all of their negotiation strength.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                It makes perfect sense.

                It’s still wrong, or at least contrary to the design of limited government. Let’s recap: under our system, a law or an appropriation is supposed to have the support of both houses of the legislature and the executive. But, the way things have developed, various parties have been intimidated or short-circuited out of their ability to withhold approval for things they don’t like.

                Therefore, even if the D’s negotiating stance is perfectly comprehensible, it is entirely appropriate for us to blame them for subverting limited government in America, because well, that’s what they’re doing.Report

              • Avatar Fargus says:

                This makes no sense, Koz. Because they don’t agree with your myopic notion of limited governmnent, it’s entirely fair to criticize Dems for not giving up all of their negotiating power? Really?

                Also, if they were to pas a budget with all of the stuff they agree on, how much you wanna bet “all the stuff they agree on” all of a sudden gets a lot smaller? With the nihilism of the current GOP, the arbitrary level of cuts is all that matters. The bigger the better.

                One could just as easily criticize republicans for not agreeing to fund the government at current rates, holding off on fighting over cuts until the government was funded. But it would be idiotic of them to give up their bargaining power.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “This makes no sense, Koz. Because they don’t agree with your myopic notion of limited governmnent, it’s entirely fair to criticize Dems for not giving up all of their negotiating power? Really?”

                It makes perfect sense.

                For cheerleaders of Team Blue it doesn’t make much difference because they have no real commitment to limited government in the first place. But, not everybody cheerleads Team Blue. There a significant number of people who don’t cheerlead Team Blue but have a cultural affinity for Team Blue (at least at the expense of Team Red). Their enabling of Team Blue makes them complicit in things might not want to be if they had to decide it straight up.

                In fact I understated the case, for just the reasons you mentioned. It’s not just a matter of abstract limited government. The familiar process of logrolling could work in reverse if we gave it the opportunity.

                “One could just as easily criticize republicans for not agreeing to fund the government at current rates, holding off on fighting over cuts until the government was funded.”

                That’s fair. In fact that’s where we want to be. To a first order approximation revenue is irrelevant. Whatever isn’t borrowed is taxed, whatever isn’t taxed is borrowed. It’s all about expenditures.

                The point being, there is no tax policy that generates the revenue required to fund the modern Leviathan in the way that modern Left-liberals want. And they’ve made it clear, up to now at least, that that the full impact of our current trajectory of expenditures (and the apparatus of Leviathan that go with it) are irreformable as long as they hold any significant amount of political power.

                Therefore anybody who considers supporting Team Blue gets this whether they want it or not.Report

            • Thanks Jason. Your sense is correct. Though I admit I haven’t been following the argument in Congress much. This ispartly because of my asterisk above and partly because I’ve just been too busy IRL.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        This is a case where the tactical responsibility actual boils down to theReport

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          …the argument about which side is more right in the underlying substantive dispute. If we read the election as an unlimited mandate for the Republicans to reduce spending by whatever amount they said they would, then it is incumbent on the Democrats to give way. But if we read the taking of just one house of Congress as some kind of a limited grant of trust, with the remaining Democrats having earned some level of representation for the views they espoused (in this case the need to maintian government spending during times of continued weak job growth), then some kind of compromise is called for. In theory, perhaps there is some “right” number that, if a shutdown occurs, whatever side rejected an offer of that number for, is responsible for the shutdown. What that number is will have something to do with the strength of the two sides’ arguments about the benefits and costs of that level of cuts (or any level,in the case do Democrats arguing that cuts at this time are straight-up bad policy). This is all very intangible, but the point is just that surely the Republicans earned the presumption that there would be some cuts, but at the same time, surely they didn’t earn the right to simply dictate the level of the cuts. If there’s a shutdown, the criticism should be for a failure to reach an acceptable compromise between two principled positions, not for the use of shutdown as a tactic for either side. Shutdown is really the only threat there is that Congress can use to gain concessions in negotiations. If, because of the history of 1995, Democrats are confident and want to dare Republicans to deliver on the threat, that too is simply a fact of the negotiating conditions, and if shutdown results, then the criticism should still be for whatever side failed to recognize the true weakness of its negotiating position so as to avoid the most adverse outcome for the taxpayers.

          It is worth noting that it is John Boehner, a truly sympathetic figure here, who has to deal with a caucus with a significant number of members urging him to push through to the shutdown. Some Democratic strategists may pine for that outcome, but I have not heard reports of elected Democrats pushing Obama to hold out to that degree. Would be interested to know if others have.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            “Shutdown is really the only threat there is that Congress can use to gain concessions in negotiations.”

            It’s worked out that way, but only because the appropriations process has developed so that effective or operational roadblocks have been bulldozed away.

            If Congress were periodically appropriating this or that, and something got stuck, the rest of the world could go on in the meantime. But because the D’s substance and process tends towards larger and more centralized government, this is where we are.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke says:

              The House controls the purse, a Constitutional nuance put in by the Framers that has now come to the fore. In past years, with Dem control of the House for most of the past century, it was moot.

              And in the current crisis, a good thing it was designed that way. The Senate terms of six years were designed to cool popular passions but six years would be too damn long to wait before confronting this problem.

              The annual deficit has grown from a third of a trillion to 4 or 5 times that in just a handful of years.

              The nuanced argument will take the design and purpose of the House of Representatives into account instead of overarching blahblah and sob stories. Yes, politics is involved in the current impasse: it was designed and framed that way!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                That deficit arose from two idiotic wars and the collapse of the world economy. The very idea we would let the GOP recommend a solution to our problems in these days is, to put it mildly, high-larryous.

                Iraq is now faced with disposing of mountains of leftover war materiel. It’s surreal. Billions of dollars worth.

                Let’s put it plainly: all those war profiteers that made all that money from all that materiel, please please tell me all those people who came into all that money shouldn’t be taxed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Let’s have Obama try to figure a way out.

                Right after he finishes the third war.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                JB, you’ve become quite the provocateur…I like that!Report

    • Avatar stillwater says:

      The Republicans want to spend lots of government money, and the Demos want to spend more.

      That’s historically false. Google it.Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        According to Wikipedia Obama’s 2011 fiscal year budget request total is $3.83 trillion, of which the Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed to cut $61 billion from the remaining 7 months of the fiscal year.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “Where the GOP has control of at least one branch of the legislature, the D’s essential tactic is: we’re going to veto spending that we want, in order to force you to appropriate spending that you don’t want. It’s pretty much blackmail, but the Republicans haven’t been able to work that angle.”

      We just got through a couple of years where the GOP used every single (lawful) trick in the book, and I just don’t recall right-wingers having a big problem with it.

      AtReport

  5. This situation does, by the way, wind up being a pretty strong argument for why public employees should have the right to collective bargaining and unionization. This will ultimately amount to a lockout of federal workers fairly analogous to a private employer’s lockout of its employees. That governments have the ability to do this suggests their leverage over those employees is far from small, even with collective bargaining in existence.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Until just recently, I might have answered that that was a preposterous reason to favor public-sector unions. Government shutdowns are so rare, after all.

      The prospect of their becoming normalized — is this one that all parties are okay with?Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

        Depends, I guess.

        If we’re at a point in public discourse where shutdowns are going to become the norm for a while, that’s perhaps not a bad thing if we come out the other end with everybody having learned something.

        HAHAHAHAHA. I kill myself.Report

      • Avatar stillwater says:

        The prospect of their becoming normalized — is this one that all parties are okay with?

        Look thru the history and context here of when government shutdown have occurred and been threatened. (waiting…) Do you see anything there under which to conclude that ‘all parties’ are OK with this?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Nope.

          By my count, there has been all of one government shutdown. That’s hardly enough to draw an inference from, is it?

          Even two is a bit of a stretch. But I’ll give it a try: What seems to be happening is that when Republicans take the House, it has a strong tendency to go to their heads.

          Do you expect me to defend them? (On what basis?)Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            Because somehow, somewhere over the rainbow you favor some flavor of limited government? That would be a radical plan.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              I’ve suggested cutting defense spending in half and abolishing the Department of Education and the DEA.

              Care to name the cuts you’d make? Would they be anywhere near as deep? Because you sure talk a good game.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                DEA and Dept of Education are nondefense discretionary I’m pretty sure so you ought to be with the GOP since the Demo’s haven’t done shtt, ever.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Team Red hasn’t crowned themselves in glory when it comes to either, Koz.

                And there are more options than Team Red or Team Blue.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Really? I think they have actually. I’ll probably write more about this elsewhere, but for now let’s ask what in particular do you think they should have done or be doing differently?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                What do I think that they should have done differently when it comes to the DEA?

                Well, there’s Reagan and his “War on Drugs” (a term first used by Nixon).

                Um, we’re in topsy-turvy land, dude.

                It wasn’t the democrats who went nuts over Doug Ginsburg. It was the republicans. That’s why we have Kennedy on the Supreme Court.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Ok, and how does this play into the negotiations regarding the FY 2011 budget?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Jimminy Crickets, dude. If you didn’t want to talk about how the Republicans haven’t exactly crowned themselves in glory with regards to the DEA, you could have said so.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                DEA or anything else, that’s the point.

                IOW, a few comments above, you wrote that it’s not a binary choice of Team Red or Team Blue. That’s wrong, for anything that involves significant expenditures, it is one or the other, because Team Blue made it that way.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                Because Team Blue made it that way?

                I envy you your certainty.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Right. Team Blue cannot afford to accept a situation where there was a better system of contingency appropriations and/or the funding prerogatives of the legislature were given more respect, because there is a substantial risk that significant priorities or theirs could wither on the vine.

                Given that, Team Blue is strongly committed to almost every aspect of modern Leviathan (at least as far as funding it).

                Therefore, those with cultural affinity for Team Blue are in reality buying into a lot more than maybe they wanted.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > Team Blue cannot afford to accept
                > a situation where there was a better
                > system of contingency appropriations
                > and/or the funding prerogatives of
                > the legislature were given more
                > respect, because there is a substantial
                > risk that significant priorities or
                > theirs could wither on the vine.

                Yes and this point doesn’t apply to Team Red… how, precisely?

                Team Red was in control of the government, full-bore, for quite some time. They cut spending on a very small fraction of things that Team Blue cared very deeply about, and raised expenditures everywhere else.

                And now that they are no longer in control of the government, they’re insisting that the deficit needs to be corrected by… cutting a very large fraction of things that Team Blue cares deeply about.

                If you care about the budget, fix it when you’re in charge. If you don’t fix it when you’re in charge, and this somehow brings you home to Jesus, then it’s on you to suggest budget-fixin’s that affect first the things you *do* care about, if you expect the other team to do more than laugh in your face.

                Not that I’m excusing the laughing in the face, mind you; the budget is indeed a problem that requires serious addressing. But this requires both sides to be serious about addressing the problem.

                Walking up to one team and saying, “Hey, the stuff that your constituents want to keep? You have to give that up to fix the budget. We’re not going to touch the stuff *our* constituents want to keep.” is decidedly unserious. You expect your opposing team to commit political suicide with their base, but you’re not willing to do the same thing yourself?

                I guess the balanced budget isn’t really a problem then.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We can’t even get the Democrats to not bomb new countries in the Middle East.

                We are doomed.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Yes and this point doesn’t apply to Team Red… how, precisely?”

                Because Team Red has demonstrated, now and at various times in the past, that they are willing to make significant cuts in gov’t expenditures. Team Blue never has.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > Because Team Red has demonstrated,
                > now and at various times in the past,
                > that they are willing to make
                > significant cuts in gov’t expenditures.

                Really? Government spending, as a percentage of GDP, since 1946:

                1947 23.65 – D P / R H & S
                1948 20.47
                1949 23.47 – D P, H, S
                1950 23.95
                1951 22.38
                1952 27.88
                1953 29.02 – R P & S / D H
                1954 29.27
                1955 26.70 – R P / D S & H
                1956 26.47
                1957 27.21
                1958 28.84
                1959 28.77
                1960 28.74
                1961 30.25 – D P, S, & H
                1962 28.94
                1963 28.71
                1964 28.50
                1965 26.96
                1966 27.45
                1967 29.80
                1968 30.47
                1969 30.08 – R P / D S & H
                1970 31.00
                1971 31.49
                1972 31.36
                1973 29.78
                1974 30.23
                1975 33.62
                1976 34.00
                1977 32.91 – D P, S, H
                1978 32.02
                1979 31.58
                1980 33.72
                1981 33.64 – R P & S / D H
                1982 36.25
                1983 36.31
                1984 34.44
                1985 35.48
                1986 35.71
                1987 35.09 – R P / D S & H
                1988 34.73
                1989 34.94
                1990 36.01
                1991 37.22
                1992 37.04
                1993 36.31 – D P, S, H
                1994 35.38
                1995 35.54 – D P / R H & S
                1996 34.69
                1997 33.77
                1998 33.24
                1999 32.65
                2000 32.56
                2001 33.38 – R P, H / D* S
                2002 34.75
                2003 35.28 – R P, S & H
                2004 34.82
                2005 34.79
                2006 35.06
                2007 34.98 – R P / D S & H
                2008 36.94
                2009 41.76 – D P, S, & H
                2010 39.97

                I can’t make an actual correlation come out of that on my own unless I look only at the difference between 1947 and 1948 and 2008 and 2009 as the sole indicators.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Come on Pat, God only knows what those numbers mean or where they came from. Moreover, because those numbers are aggregates of something, one thing might have gone down or another gone up without us knowing from what you posted.

                From where we are now, we know that there is going to have to be significant cuts from the current trajectory of spending, let’s look for that.

                Let’s think of a situation where Team Blue actually took the lead to cut something. There was the “peace dividend” where Clinton supposedly hollowed out the military. Before that, I can’t think of anything. Before I was born probably.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                The numbers on % of GDP came from the GAO. The stats on who was in charge of the Presidency, House, and Senate came from some random website that happened to have them arranged in an easy form. I didn’t bother to check for accuracy on the second, so feel free to point out an error if there is one.

                And I fully support the idea that there might be complex reasons why Team Red or Team Blue supported budget of the year in any given year. Absolutely.

                But the cursory look at between “Team Red/Team Blue being in charge” and “how much money the government spends” shows that there isn’t a correlation there, really. You’re the one saying that Team Red historically spends less. Okay, that doesn’t match the cursory examination of the evidence. So explain to me why you make that assertion. You are apparently privy to some information that I’m not. Lay it on me.

                “From where we are now, we know that there is going to have to be significant cuts from the current trajectory of spending, let’s look for that.”

                Okay, here’s what I’ll agree with: given our sources of revenue, we do not allocate our spending effectively. I’ll also agree that in some cases we overspend So we need to do three things: examine how we gather revenue, examine how we spend the revenue, and ask ourselves what we should be cutting in terms of priority.

                Chop the standing military budget to 300 billion a year. That’s still three times what the Chinese spend. Hell, I’ll let you keep the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on their own balance sheet for the nonce.

                Phase in an increase in the retirement age from 65 to 70 to account for the increase in life expectancy before qualifying for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. You will need to offset this with extended low income benefits for the people who are too far along in their age to adjust to the sudden change in game plan before they retire, but I’ll take a screwjob on my own retirement in the name of the Republic. Annoying, but seems fairly fair given that I’m expected to live past 80 and most people who are retiring now aren’t.

                Phase out the mortgage deduction over the next 30 years. Works for me, too.

                Change capital gains to be income, ’cause that’s what it is, and tax it like income. You are welcome to normalize the tax rate somewhat to account for this change.

                Give a path to citizenship to the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, so that they can begin paying income taxes like you and me. Also, dramatically revise the immigration laws so that more people can come here for the next 10 years. We need to offset the population bump of the baby boomers retiring by adding more productive workers to the tax base. Hell, bring in college grads from Europe, China, etc., then we can inject ’em straight into the workforce without paying to train ’em. Win for everybody except the country they came from.

                I will gladly drop the corporate income tax rate on publicly held corporations to 5% on the condition that those publicly held corporations report their contributions to political organizations as a line item report in their financial statements. Fair trade?

                Lessee, what else… cut all subsidies to energy producers at the federal level. Hell, you can cut out the subsidies to the green power guys if you want, just get rid of that whore Oil.

                Cut the farm subsidy right out. For all the clamoring for free markets from the Red States, those Red State representatives (or, in the case of CA, those Red representatives who represent the rural districts) seem to bitch and moan a lot about the farm bill.

                “Let’s think of a situation where Team Blue actually took the lead to cut something.”

                There are plenty, but that’s not really my point.

                My point is that there are tradeoffs to be made, by both sides. And quite frankly, right *now*, today, Team Red seems unwilling to play the tradeoff game. They want lower spending, but they also want to dictate what gets cut. They want lower spending, but they’re not willing to put anything on the table in return *for* it. Team Blue may be stupid when it comes to spending, I’ll agree with that. But the way to *lead* is to come out with a proposal that gives both sides something that they can call a “win” to their constituencies. Neither side is doing that.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “My point is that there are tradeoffs to be made, by both sides. And quite frankly, right *now*, today, Team Red seems unwilling to play the tradeoff game. They want lower spending, but they also want to dictate what gets cut.”

                This is the exact opposite of the truth, it’s difficult for me to believe an intelligent person really believes this.

                I think you’re conflating your own willingness to cut farm subsidies, Afghanistan or whatever to liberals in Congress and the President. In fact, we all should know by now that none of those things are imminent and if you think they should be it’s time to get your team on the same page.Report

              • Avatar Barry says:

                So clearly a lie.Report

      • Until recently I would not have thought of it. Though if we look to other levels of government shutdowns we wind up with a much bigger sample size. Notably it is not unheard of for intraparty disputes to lead to shutdowns. See e.g. New Jersey 2006.Report

        • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

          In my lifetime it seems we get a shutdown when ever republicans win mid-terms with a democratic president.

          This tells me that if you don’t want shut-downs. Always try to prevent republicans from winning elections while the democrats have the whitehouse.

          😉Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      If public sector unions could bind the government to continue paying employees during a government shutdown, could the government actually ever shut down? After all, if they’re going to be paid, they may as well work so the public gets some value for its money. And to work, they need electricity, and office supplies, and gasoline, etc. etc. etc. And indeed, many of them work to obtain (if not produce) those very same things to then consume. So what, if anything, would be shut down?

      Sadly, I think we need to have the real threat of a shutdown, the real threat that families like Jason’s will be seriously affected, that services people depend on will be interrupted, as an ultimate threat in order for politicians to feel sufficient pressure to actually sit down and deal with one another. If the government won’t really shut down, then there is no pressure and none of them have any real incentive to make the concessions necessary on all sides to reach agreement.Report

      • Avatar Boegiboe says:

        Yeah, I agree with The Transplant here. Private workers are bound only by their salaries and any loyalty they might have to their companies and their causes. Government workers are hired BY everybody, though, and that’s a special burden TO everybody.

        The private worker can always, in a pinch, quit their job. I can be commanded to perform my duties, on pain of prosecution. That’s fair.

        But, in exchange, I would usually have a bit more benefit of the doubt on questions of nonperformance of duties before my pay is taken away from me. (Note I’m just talking about the rules, here. I hope I give those taxpayers that want a public space program pretty good bang for their buck.) But the entire civil service is effectively being indicted for poor service if people can seriously talk about withholding our salaries for the furlough. That’s bugging me, but it’s off-topic for responding to Burt.

        If there’s a good reason to have the government do anything other than defend the people from force and fraud, it may be to guarantee continuity of services in all but absolutely catastrophic circumstances. That’s a good reason we can’t bargain collectively (well, with any threats to back it up, anyway–in point of fact, I am a member of a union, whether I like it or not).

        So, no objections to that line of argument. Are we currently in a catastrophe severe enough to allow the conscription of thousands of civil servants without pay? The government doesn’t shut down, you know. The emergency and essential civil government workers are required to keep working without pay. They aren’t even allowed to resign. I really get the feeling people aren’t aware of this fact.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    <i.To make a modest proposal: Would there not be less misery, and for fewer people, and would that misery not be more justly distributed, if we simply horsewhipped a randomly chosen member of Congress every day on the steps of the Capitol until they reached an agreement?

    Why stop then?

    Seriously, Jason, I very much hope they come to their senses, and your situation adds to that.Report

  7. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    By the way, I have a very hard time taking this entire “budget” discussion seriously when neither side will acknowledge that we just spent almost 7 trillion dollars over the last decade on military capabilities that are demonstrably *not* needed. Quibbling about balancing the budget without chopping at least 200 billion dollars out of the military budget, right off the top, is just insanity. There’s a big elephant in the room, everybody. It’s been pooping on us for quite some time now. Maybe we ought to clean it up instead of arguing about who has to clean out the cat box?

    Well, okay, maybe about a trillion of that is justifiable. I just boggled my own mind with that statement.Report

    • Avatar stillwater says:

      Quibbling about balancing the budget without chopping at least 200 billion dollars out of the military budget, right off the top, is just insanity.

      And pulling completely out of Afghanistan (dreams of a pipeline will die horrible deaths after 25 years of hopes and dreams. We’ve got to let it go). And decreasing troop presence in Iraq (if they haven’t figured it out yet, they never will. Keep enough boots there to ensure the oil goes thru the right pipe).

      And returning taxes on the wealthy to their previous historic low under Clinton wouldn’t hurt things at all. Nor would taking a good hard look at exactly why health care costs keep increasing 2-3 times the rate of inflation would probably lead to interesting discussions about systemic problems in the provision of front-end health services.

      The list is endless. But the easy thing is to propose the elimination of Medicare and Medicaid, increase the tax burden on the lower 80%, keep military funding at it’s inflation +1 growth rate, and fire some teachers.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        dreams of a pipeline
        Wait, you seriously think Afghanistan is about a dang pipeline? (Yeah, we need to get the heck out yesterday, but this is truther nonsense)Report

  8. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Knowing their budget will never survive the transit through the Senate and White House, Boehner has played his last ace. Tough guys always have this approach to life and they always end up with broken noses as a result.

    Fuck Boehner and that turtle head Mitch McConnell. The casualties of this go-round will be Paul Ryan’s plan and any semblance of order between now and the elections, not that we had any before. In their refusal to tax the few people who’ve done extremely well over the last few years, the GOP leadership have shown they’re willing to torment the rest of the nation. The country will not forgive them. Frankly I wish Boehner and McConnell would be sealed in carbonite for a few months, Han Solo style for a few months so the remaining GOP leadership can talk turkey with the Democrats. We could solve the budget crisis with combinations of tax increases and spending cuts but while tax increases for fat cats are off the table, I hope Obama shuts this government and locks the door.Report

    • Avatar stillwater says:

      The country will not forgive them.

      I think Boner knows this. It’s the Teatard Express that’s getting in the way here, all righteous and inspired, doing Gawd’s work and all. But I agree, the majority of the country won’t forgive them. And in fact, the media is beginning to turn against it’s initial euphoria over Ryan to some extent. Personally, I think Boner will capitulate here. He’s too centrist and the consequences for him, and others, are too high.Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        “I think Boner knows this. It’s the Teatard Express that’s getting in the way here, all righteous and ….”

        Intentional misspellings and namecalling is so lame, not because anybody cares about insulting the Speaker or whoever, but they demonstrate a lack of self-control.Report

  9. I’m gonna go with Blame the Victim.

    Jason, you and your husband are grown-ups. As grown-ups you should have a minimum of 90 days non-retirement savings after-tax savings. You should have that because shit happens.Report

    • Avatar stillwater says:

      This has to be snark. Right?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Quick poll: how many commenters here would qualify as “grown-ups” as defined by Tony Comstock?

      Count Burt Likko out of that list.Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

        I make it.

        But only barely. Also, my wife is about to end her relationship with her current employer. So if anything occurs between now and when she again becomes employed, I’m likely in the same boat that Jason is.

        Yanno, on account of trouble usually comes in a block.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “But only barely. Also, my wife is about to end her relationship with her current employer. So if anything occurs between now and when she again becomes employed, I’m likely in the same boat that Jason is.”

          That hurts – does she have something iron-clad lined up?
          Because if she doesn’t…………. 🙁Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I would be an adult based on that criteria. Of course i have a well paying job and have had some good luck in some areas. But i would still count someone as an adult who has been out of work for months so they don’t have such a buffer or who has major medical problems or have cared for a sick parent or a dozen other problems.Report

      • Avatar stillwater says:

        But I bet that if Tony C were ever down on his luck, with less than three months of bills in his account, he’d say it’s not because he isn’t an adult, it was due to other factors. It was out of his control.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I think I do technically… but it’d involve a whole lot of irritating decisions to make. (One thing we do is pay all of our bills about a month beforehand, those that we know we can, anyway… this gives us at least a month of slack should anything awful happen.)Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        I think I make it does 17 grand liquid count?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        You can love Jesus and Porcupine Tree and good hot gumbo and your kids and your wife and your kitty cat and red ale fresh and cold from the tap. I love all these things very much.

        But I do not love my job. It never once loved me back.

        I won’t work for the government again, under any circumstances. Nobody with any sense should, either.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Burt, you need to start investing. Seriously. You will never work your way to financial stability. You’ll only be working for two thirds of your life, maximum. I’ve worked out I’ll only be working nine months a year as a consultant: I imagine as a lawyer you know the feast or famine syndrome, too. That’s an awful lot of time to continue buying groceries without a steady income.

        You need way more than 90 days of free fall in this economy. You need a year’s worth, at least.Report

        • Yeah, a year’s better. We had just slightly more than that in the bank on 9/10/01.

          Shit happens.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          I’ve a very nice retirement account for my investments to which I’ve contributed for fifteen years. If I needed to survive I could liquidate the account, pay the penalties and taxes, and go for much more than 90 days.

          I’ve something less than 90 days’ worth of ready liquid cash, however.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Glad to hear it. Do try to put aside some ready cash though, breaking into a retirement fund is just horrid from a tax perspective.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Jason, you and your husband are grown-ups. As grown-ups you should have a minimum of 90 days non-retirement savings after-tax savings. You should have that because shit happens.

      We have credit, plus a decent tax return on the way. It’ll be tough, but we’ll be alright.

      Ordinarily, we actually would qualify as adults by your criteria, but a variety of other things have been going on in the background, and I hope you will respect it when I say I’m not inclined to share them.Report

      • Well if shit’s already been happening, then never mind. Life does pile on sometimes.Report

      • Avatar Jon Rowe says:

        Jason I don’t mean to add insult to injury (I’ve been thinking about this because I have a tax return on the way as well), but if the government shuts down it won’t give you your tax return, at least not until it starts back up again. (They said mine was due the 8th of April to be deposited; when was the govt supposed to shut down again?)Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Entirely true. But I’m hoping they also won’t be working too hard on resolving a difficult tax question I’ve had with them — one of the several difficulties that has made our recent financial situation a bit delicate.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Well I dunno, Tony, I guess I could always burn my house down and go live under a bridge, like you.Report

  10. Avatar stillwater says:

    Jason, if your husband was the member of a union there’d be rainy day money socked away for just such an eventuality.

    Just sayin.Report

  11. Avatar steve says:

    Eggers and O’Leary wrote a nice piece about libertarianism a while back. In it they noted that libertarian attacks on government workers are sometimes at odds with actual government workers that most people know, usually teachers, policemen or firemen.

    SteveReport

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      A piece I probably could have written myself. Put it this way — if boegiboe was a DEA agent, I don’t think I could have married him.

      Maybe NASA could be privatized. Maybe not. But at least it isn’t evil. We all make our compromises somewhere, don’t we?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Until I read this comment, I had no idea that Boegiboe was Jason’s husband. Congrats, fellas — and here’s hoping that Boehner and Reid and Obama get their acts together by Friday.

        And just because Jason works at Cato doesn’t mean he has to live his life like some sort of inhuman Ayn Rand disciple. Last time I checked, the Cato Institute wasn’t in favor of anarchy.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    At the end of the day, the whole TEAM RED/TEAM BLUE/TEAM GOLD thing is bullshit. All that matters is you and yours and I hope that you and yours come out of this okay.

    Given the part of the country in which you currently live, I can’t imagine that your situation is anywhere near uncommon.

    Best of luck to get through this.Report

  13. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    A number of you are clearly enjoying the hell out of our family’s looming difficulties.

    But not one of you has offered a coherent justification for why the civil service in particular deserves this burden. (Hint: schadenfreude isn’t an argument.)

    I’m not being a hypocrite here. I’ve never asserted that civil service workers do deserve to suffer here, and in this way. That would be your doing — up to the extent that you are now enjoying my suffering.

    I’ll be waiting for your reasons.Report

    • Avatar stillwater says:

      Well I for one think it sucks that you’re going thru this. And furthermore, I don’t think anyone ought to ever go thru what you’re going thru. The point made upthread was that people advocate certain things from government and in politics. And you advocate for small government (whatever the hell that means). Now there are people in charge who share that same sentiment in broad outline, and because they have the power to act, they’re fucking your world around.

      Maybe the lessen is to realize that advocating abstract principle can cause real harm.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        I’ve tried pretty hard to explain here what I mean by small government. This is one of my better attempts. Combine it with this, and I think I’ve said what needs to be said, with neither hypocrisy nor inconsistency.

        I don’t believe that the abstract principles expressed there would cause me much near-term harm to me, or to anyone at all. I also don’t believe that the current crop of Republicans (or Democrats) have come anywhere near them, ever.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Here’s how it’s going down. Reality check time. If the GOP has its way, they’re going to cut the hell out of NASA’s budget. Huntsville is laying off hundreds of people, a bunch of my contractor friends. He who works around civil service should understand how it is funded, and it’s a mug’s game with the GOP in charge of the game. Civil service is not a career anymore. NASA leadership is brain dead and its political backers are impotent.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        You may well be right. But even a budget cut could well be less disruptive than this. At least in that case, boegiboe would get plenty of warning. And he’d be free to go look for another job.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Nothing is less wanted than unwanted advice, but I’ve been invited into NASA contracting times without number and I just won’t do it. NASA is the most fucked-up bureaucracy in government.

          There are a whole lot of bright people there, I’d love to be involved. But NASA was always its contractors, the bureaucracy itself is pathetic, tragically, suicidally inept. The only part of NASA that ever with a clue was JPL and they did things on a project basis.

          The only innovation in space sciences are being done by the Russians and the private sector.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            NASA’s problem isn’t that it’s NASA. NASA’s problem is that it’s part of the government. Believe me when I say that being a rocket scientist contracting to the USAF is no better than being one contracting for NASA.

            On the other hand, at least neither of us is working for the Army.Report

      • Avatar Heideggger says:

        And some think we can land on Mars in a few years? Yikes.

        Blaise, sorry for the heated rhetoric and angry words a few days ago. You certainly did not deserve that and I was much out of line. I consider you a very valuable asset at this joint, and always look forward to reading our comments. So, my friend, a very sincere apology and handshake. Hey, if nothing else, we certainly both love Bach!Report

        • Avatar Heideggger says:

          Sheesh, make that, I consider you a very valuable asset at this joint, and always look forward to reading YOUR–not OUR comments. Of all typos to make. Sorry about that.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Apology accepted. Pax.

            Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content, but a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              Never? How many times did Poland do it?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Depends on whether you call the city Danzig or Gdansk, I suppose, heh. Poland after the Swedish invasion was a big nothing and was always Lithuania’s back yard.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Eh, in the Commonwealth, it was the Poles who did most of the ruling. It’s because they didn’t like the Poles that the Dnieper Cossacks rebelled. I suspect they’d have been happier with a more Lithuanian dominated leadership (the Poles considered the Cossacks to be scum, or something slightly below it).

                Have you read The Deluge? I just finished the trilogy about 6 months ago, and am still feeling blown away by it.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I haven’t read it, no. I’m a bit afraid of trilogies, I have to admit.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Well, not many trilogies end up winning their authors Nobel Prizes. This one did (plus Quo Vadis). Any of the books can be taken by themselves, though. The trilogy part comes less from the continuity of the series, though there are plot lines that run through them all (or at least characters who do), but because it tells of a particular period in Polish history over the course of 3 books, starting with the Cossack rebellion, through the Deluge, and the Russian invasion.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’ll add it to my list.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Ditto. Sounds like a hell of a good read.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                You’ll both enjoy them. I immediately put With Fire and Sword on my favorite books list, and The Deluge may be even better than it.

                When you’re done, all three books have pretty good Polish movie versions. Sienkiewicz is pretty much the Polish literary royalty, sort of like Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Chekov in Russia. You can’t make it through a Polish education without reading his books.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                It seems fair to observe the Poles are what the French only think they are.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Modern Poland is fascinating. I’ve followed it closely from roughly 1983. There was a soldier in my squad whose parents were first-gen Poles. Through the 80s and 90s, Poland made all the right moves and it’s a truly amazing success story.

                I moved to Chicago after university. I’m given to understand more people speak Polish in Chicago than anywhere else. Chicago’s expatriate Poles were ecstatic as Poland moved into a free market economy. They emptied out their accounts and invested into that brave country with everything they had. Never has such an expatriate community come to the rescue of their motherland since the USA came to the rescue of Britain.

                It was a narrow scrape. Poland went to a free market and a fully convertible currency. Unemployment was sky high. The transition was painful but ultimately the only wise course of action. In a sense you’re right, here is a kingdom come back to life. But it’s not a kingdom now, it’s the first true apotheosis of Poland. No longer the miserable battlefield of Europe, it’s a genuine country now.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                In a sense you’re right, here is a kingdom come back to life.

                Actually, I was thinking of the historical partitions of Poland. But yes, coming back to life after communism is really excellent.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          No apology is required H-man, Bp works diligently at being an a-hole.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Either gummint is drastically reduced or it’s all going in the shitter. It ain’t rocket science. Find a job in the private sector, make widgets, be a capitalist, invest wisely, be happy ’cause you people have just about killed the golden goose. He’s bleedin’ out asa we speak.
        And, you can whine and cry and pound your chest in protest. You can recall the tpers, you can elect the commie-dems who wanna give you morons stuff..but the parties over. Remember that, that parties over.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke says:

          The irony is that if FDR/LBJism is to be saved, it’ll be by the GOP.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Wouldn’t it be nice, and this is my little phantasy, that the tpers really cleanse the temple and return, legislatively, to limited gummint (republicanism), drive the commie-dems into the political desert, publically cane the RINO’s and Neos, all while the unwashed finally realize the folly of public largesse and the joys and the wisdom of limited, non-commie, gummint.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      It ought to be obvious that I have no wish or desire for you or the hubby to suffer and I don’t want the government to be shut down and not just for the sake of your family. It’s a cold political necessity that a shtdown be a risk was my earlier point. If it weren’t, the politicians would feel less pressure to bargain. I hardly enjoy the spectacle and I hardly enjoy the prospect of so many people, including both blogbuddies like you and meatworld friends I interact with daily, having to do without money. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to pass.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:

      Jason:

      It is not that your family “deserves” this burden, it is just that a gov’t shut down is one of those facts of life that a gov’t worker faces. It should be a factor to consider when one is thinking of taking a gov’t job. Not to mention that private sector workers are sometimes temporarily furloughed as well so it is not as if your situation is unique.

      Obama and the Dems did leave the gov’t open to a shut down when they failed to pass a budget this year and yet we hear that it is the Repubs fault for this situation.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        It is not that your family “deserves” this burden, it is just that a gov’t shut down is one of those facts of life that a gov’t worker faces.

        This is precisely what I mean about normalizing government shutdowns. I don’t understand why anyone would want to think this way. (You’re aware, right, that even France never pulls stunts like this? Are you happy with a government still more incompetent than France? Or Italy?)

        Butanyway. Ordinarily, engineering and technical workers accept a tradeoff when they sign up to work for the government. They know that, relative to the private sector, their pay is going to be poor. In compensation, they get fantastic job security. This is an appealing tradeoff for a lot of people, and there’s no obvious economic or ethical reason why it shouldn’t exist somewhere in the job market.

        But if the pay is less and the security is worse, how do you propose attracting talent to the federal civil service? I’m curious. I’ve been telling boegiboe all week to consider looking for other permanent employment. I’m sure I’m not the only nagging spouse out there. While I can’t see the brain drain being a good thing for our government, well, a family’s still got to eat.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Butanyway. Ordinarily, engineering and technical workers accept a tradeoff when they sign up to work for the government. They know that, relative to the private sector, their pay is going to be poor. In compensation, they get fantastic job security.

          If you add in retirement benefits (the back end stuff) and health care, you’re pretty much talking about all government employees. Since, in addition to the drop in job security, states and perhaps the feds are going after pensions and benefits, there is going to be very little incentive for anyone who can get a job in the private sector to work in the public sector, soon.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            Not in every case necessarily, but for the most part and for the sake of the economy as a whole we want to be moving people out of the public sector and into the private sector.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          “But if the pay is less and the security is worse, how do you propose attracting talent to the federal civil service?”

          Leaving pay aside, it’s pretty much lock-solid that job security in the public sector is substantially better than the private sector, no matter how the shutdown shakes out.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Well, that depends on what you mean by “public sector.” In the last two years, and particularly in the last few months, state and municipal employees have had real issues with job security.Report

        • Avatar Scott says:

          Jason:

          It is not that I “want” to think this way, I am recognizing reality. Sure I wish it was different, just as I wish a lot of things were different but it isn’t. Even with the situation as it is, it is not as if gov’t shutdowns occur all that frequently. I beleive that there have only been 5 shutdowns since 1981. Even with the occasion shutdown, the security and benefits offered by a gov’t job are still pretty good, as my in-laws, who both spent careers working for the GSA have told me.

          Also, I think you attributing schadenfreude where it simply does not exist. Saying that you have to take certain possibly outcomes into consideration when making a decision is hardly schadenfreude. Frankly, it almost seems that because you aren’t getting the sympathy you expected that you are calling it schadenfreude. I may seem callus but I not engaging in schadenfreude.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            I beleive that there have only been 5 shutdowns since 1981.

            Try one so far. Ever.

            Frankly, it almost seems that because you aren’t getting the sympathy you expected that you are calling it schadenfreude.

            It would be difficult to say I hadn’t gotten sympathy on this thread. I’ve gotten plenty of it. The distribution of it, on the other hand, still seems interesting.Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      “A number of you are clearly enjoying the hell out of our family’s looming difficulties.”

      Really? I must have skipped the relevant comments.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        I was referencing the “Oh well, you knew the risk when you signed up” reasoning I’ve seen from some conservative comments. It’s pretty hard not to read schadenfreude in those.

        I mean, if I noted a soldier’s death in Afghanistan and said, “Oh well, he knew that risk when he signed up,” all bloody hell would break loose. With good reason, too, because it would be a completely vile thing for me to say. Or if I said “Japan? Well, they did build their reactors on a fault line.” That would be pretty lousy of me. Right?

        Writ very, very small, I can see some of that here too.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      Jason, you have my sympathy indeed.

      I don’t want you and yours to suffer. This is why I don’t vote for republicans and gladly vote for dems. Whatever else they do, whatever else they are they are people who want the system to work and to make peoples lives better.

      Republicans want to tear the system down. They have their reasons but at the end of the day that is the score. It sucks that 2010 happened and that people have to suffer because people voted for republicans.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:

        TPG:

        “It sucks that 2010 happened and that people have to suffer because people voted for republicans.”

        By that that you must mean seniors and children b/c we all know how much Repubs hate them.Report

        • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

          Teachers, firemen, gays, women, men, animals, pretty much everyone gets to suffer Scott.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Describing the various things that happen when The Gods of the Copybook Headings come back to correct the misassumptions of the Gods of the Marketplace as suffering is accurate.

            The assumption that their return is not inevitable, nor predictable, nor natural is somewhat more troublesome.Report

          • Avatar Scott says:

            TPG:

            Maybe Barry and the Dems should have passed a budget this year but yet we hear that it is the Repubs fault for this situation.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              So it is your contention that we would be discussing this possibility if the elections went the other way.

              I wonder of you remember the rampant obstructionism that was going on last term. I do.Report

    • Frankly Jason, I believe a good deal of the conservative schadenfreude comes not from your husbands choice of profession, but his (and yours) choice of, ahem, spouse. They just won’t state it explicitly because it’s becoming increasingly socially unacceptable to do so.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I’m not sure I see a linkage between Jason’s marrying another man as opposed to a woman and glee at the rather scary consequences of shutting off the primary breadwinner’s income, even in the more conservative voices here. Rather, it seems to me that the nastiness to which Jason has (rightfully) taken exception comes not from the gender of Jason’s spouse but rather the spouse’s “choice” of employers. The object of derision here is not “teh ghey,” it’s “the gummint.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Audrey, this particular webpage is populated with the types of conservatives who look at Jason and his husband and say “THOSE WHITE MALES NEED A TAX CUT!”Report

      • I, Audrey, would like to offer my most sincere apologies for the previous comment. I deeply regret implying that anyone here (with the exception of Mr. Cheeks) is anything other then genuine about their misgivings with Mr. Kuznicki’s husband’s employment. I am still getting the hang of internet commenting, and once again, I am sorry for what I wrote.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          Yeah, basically everyone here except me and Bob Cheeks supports gay marriage, and we play that one pretty straight, no pun intended.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          Audrey, I could care less what two adults do in the privacy of their home, unless they injure or murder. However, I resent the homosexual community’s efforts to capture words and symbols that, because of their intrinsic social nature, do not belong to them. Marriage is one such word.
          If I were Mr. B and had my position in the bureaucracy labelled ‘non-essential’ I would begin at once to seek gainful employment in the private sector.Report

          • Avatar mark boggs says:

            “Equal” is another.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Marriage is one such word.

            How in the heck is this not a First Amendment issue covered not only by Freedom of Speech on the part of the homosexual community but also the Free Exercise clause on the part of the homosexual community?

            (Note: I considered putting quotation marks around certain clauses in the above question but realized that if I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop.)Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      Jason, that’s true – we haven’t. Just as I have not written any justifications of the Holocaust, Stalin’s purges and famines, or Pol Pot’s brief but unforgettable time in charge of Cambodia.

      The GOP clearly regards civil servants as people to stomp all over, to insult, disgrace and to imiserate. They just haven’t gotten around to giving Federal civil servants the full state-level treatment.

      Despite the lies of a number of ‘serious people’, the GOP hasn’t offered a plan which isn’t a tarball of pure lies glued together with tax cuts for the rich/f*ck everybody else, painted with fraudulent numbers.

      In addition, we *know* what the core GOP’s policies and attitudes are – we lived through a GOP administration. Anybody who makes pro-GOP arguments which ignore that is not arguing from good faith and honesty.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’m a guy who considers himself fairly libertarian with anacap sympathies who, if he had to be pigeonholed, might shrug at the idea of Minarchism. Just a night watchman state.

    What jobs ought Maribou not be allowed to take because I have this belief system?

    If I believe in the personhood of chicks, does that go in conflict with my beliefs at all? Should I be more like the father in the story that Knapp talked about the other day and does it reflect poorly on me that Maribou is her own person (I originally wrote “allowed to be her own person” but I don’t “allow” that… she *IS* one and that has nothing to do with any allowance of mine).

    Should I have married someone more subserviant who would work for places that fit in better with my belief systems?

    These are important questions!Report

  15. Avatar Maribou says:

    Jaybird mentioned on the phone that he thought I should read this comment. The first thing I said was “You spelled subservient wrong,” and then he got all excited and said “OH PLEASE POST THAT AS A COMMENT.” Which I couldn’t quite bring myself to do. So you get the rambly version instead.

    (The next thing I said was “That is very funny and very apt.” Intimate partnership far outweighs political commitments for me. There aren’t more than half a dozen people on this continent that I could put up with every day for more than a decade – and most of them aren’t half as cute as he is.)Report

  16. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I just want to follow up with a similar disclosure, which I ought to have made during the wisconsin discussion – though I did make it to some of those here: both my parents and my stepdad are state employees, two of them public union members, in Wisconsin. I tried to avoid commenting on the situation as much as I could because I also felt compromised, but was not able to abstain entirely. I applaud jason’s forthrightness.

    I don’t think that my or Jason’s circumstances are reasons to entirely disregard our arguments their respective contexts, however. I certainly would expect our situations to be taken into account in assessing our arguments. But that being said, arguments are always either good or bad based on what they say not who makes them, however instructive knowledge of the arguer’s circumstances may seem.

    In any case, I obviously strongly agree that, while certainly public employees should be expected, and did expect, to bear, and have borne, some burden at times of budgetary stress, it is disgraceful the way in which, led by my governor, they have been made as a class the face and scapegoat of the budget crises caused by the economic downturn that they by and large (with very notable exceptions such as almost every member of Congress of the last fifteen years and each of the last three presidents and most of their top economic advisors) had nothing to do with precipitating. This is disgraceful because it has been done as a way to direct public attention away from the need (absent revenue increases) to actually cut services in ways that the public will feel, and indeed to lay some of the blame for those cuts (again, necessary, if at all, only when the assumption that revenue increases are off the table), at the feet of public employees, who, of course, are never willing to accept “enough” sacrifice, whatever they have in fact accepted.

    This is disgraceful whether Scott Walker or Andrew Cuomo engages in it. But I don’t know of anything that reveals the hollowness of many officials who for political reasons have claimed allegiance to the idea of small or limited government than when they in particular engage in this this tactic I describe. Faced with a tailor-made opportunity to to advance their ostensible ideological commitments straightforwardly by simply saying, “You voted to say you wanted smaller government; here is what that actually feels like,” they instead scapegoat public employees for their supposedly outsize pay in a budget crisis, using what they have actually campaigned on saying is a good idea even in the abstract — painful cuts in services — as a cudgel to beat the public over the head with, to try to get them to accept the suggestion they blame their trash collectors and guidance counsellors for both the initial budgetary problem itself, and for any service cuts that were made necessary for it. All this when, to follow their political arguments, all things being equal, in a straight-up debate about the “size of government,” they’d presumably say are a good idea in a vacuum!

    To be clear I’d prefer, as politics and policy, that revenue gaps caused by recessions not be taken advantage of to advance an ideological agenda about the size of government that doesn’t win out among the public when times are decent, and that budget gaps be filled by getting the well-off and the moderately well-off alike to pay their fair share for they services they say they want to consume. I’d prefer those decisions be regarded as maximally legitimate when considered and made not under budgetary duress. But I do acknowledge that responding to the politics of budget crunches that way (by advancing the small-government agenda) is an entirely legitimate tactical political decision for the movement committed to that agenda, especially when one understands that in less pressed circumstances, that agenda rarely prevails. Scapegoating public employee pay, or certainly locking public employees out of their workplaces, however, I think are much less legitimate responses, and moreover not consistent with an actual (or merely claimed) policy commitment to reducing the levels of service the government provides (often termed “size of government,” but that is the only honest understanding of what that term means in a rigorous political-economic framework) as a matter of philosophy, which is clearly a bottom-line rhetorical requirement for an entire half of our mainstream political culture.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I am reminded of the old arguments from back in the day about marijuana.

      There is a matrix you can make from Smoked Marijuana and Thinks it should be Legal.

      If you smoked marijuana and you think it should be legal, your opinion can obviously be dismissed because you just want your hobby to be legal.

      If you smoked marijuana and you think it should be illegal, your opinion can obviously be dismissed because you’re a hypocrite who wants other people thrown in prison for stuff that you did.

      If you’ve never smoked marijuana and you think it should be legal, your opinion can obviously be dismissed because you have no idea about how dangerous the reefer is.

      If you’ve never smoked marijuana and you think it should be illegal, your opinion can obviously be dismissed because you have no idea about how much more harmless marijuana is than alcohol or any number of recreational substances.

      The point of the exercise is to point out how the other side can, no matter what, point out how your position can obviously be dismissed because of your life experiences.

      Make a matrix of “support public unions” and “have relatives who work for the public sector”. You’ll be able to quickly and easily come up with reasons why others have positions that can obviously be dismissed.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I try to remind myself of this, because I admit to being skeptical of arguments based on who makes them, or who is paying them to make them. I think we all do that. But I try then to put that aside and focus on the actual arguments. As I say, I think skepticism is perfectly justified, but I don’t think any good argument should just be dismissed because of the interests of the person making it. Good arguments have to be dealt with.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke says:

      Mr. Drew, public employees are in competition with the needy for the same dollars. Democrats all!

      It would be to laugh, if it were funny.

      Across the country, the interests of organized labor, elected officials and taxpayers are colliding over wages, work rules and the astronomical costs of retiree pensions and health care. As important as these specific issues are to resolve, there is another, more fundamental problem causing so many Americans to lose faith in their government: It is not government unions per se but progressive government itself—long celebrated in Wisconsin, New York and elsewhere—that no longer produces progressive results.

      In the early 20th century, the progressives championed a rule-based approach to public-sector management that was a big step forward from the cronyism and corruption of Tammany Hall. Today, however, the very rules that once enhanced accountability, transparency and efficiency now stifle the creativity of public-sector workers and reduce the ability of public investments to create opportunities for citizens—outcomes precisely the opposite of those intended by Progressive Era reformers.


      Ironically, today we find that in many cases special interests are working in the bureaucracy, using Progressive Era rules to protect the status quo and themselves.

      Recent efforts to trim approximately 150 laborers, carpenters and electricians from city hospitals, for example, were halted by a lawsuit brought by the unions. In a city facing a multibillion-dollar deficit, every nonessential dollar spent is a dollar less available for hospital care—or shelter for the homeless, or police for troubled neighborhoods. In a word, these special- interest interventions ultimately lead to socially regressive results.

      —Stephen Goldsmith is the deputy mayor of New York City.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703560404576189011057064084.html

      Michael, it’s undisputed is that the avg WI teacher makes $100K in salary & bennies.

      It would be entirely appropriate for such folks to argue affirmatively why they’re worth it, indeed that we must continue paying that amount.

      But they must make the case, not simply rage at the folks like me who are unconvinced.

      [Or not, looking at the WI judge race. Perhaps Tammany Hall is the enduring model after all, force against force.]Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I don’t deny this. It’s the reality any government faces. I merely say that the party of the rich enthusiastically using sympathy for the poor to batter the middle in order to avoid rasing taxes on their preferred constituency (already named) as a first-emphasis go-to political tactic is despicable. The party traditionally (though in fact less and less) of the middle and the poor also confronts this stretch, but they do so by trying to soothe rather than heighten the political tension that results (because it is in their interest to do so), and they (again, traditionally, but less and less) try to protect the benefits to both their preferred constituencies by targeting the rich before being forced to make painful choices, which they express no pleasure in doing. I simply have an aesthetic preference for one of these approaches to the problem you describe over the other (to the extent that I find the other despicable by comparison), that’s all.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke says:

          “Party of the rich?” “Despicable?” Oy.

          Sir, when the other side is so summarily dehumanized, there’s no real disagreement or discussion, just an exchange of cant and emotion.

          The progressive agenda has generally had its way for a century [esp in Europe]; opposition slowed the tide, but never stopped it.

          “Libertarian” questions of the state encroaching on personal liberty or choking “the golden goose” have been moot for quite awhile, really, because of progressivism’s ratcheting effect.

          The problem is too much promised to too many, and although there’s some complicity by “conservatives” or the GOP, it’s the left’s baby. [Dubya passed the prescriptions for seniors bill, but Al Gore promised one too. It was an inevitability.]

          The situation at the statehouse level is Tammany Hall, thoroughly corrupt—the poor and the public unions controlling their enablers in the Dem Party.

          Now, I happen to be an admirer of Tammany Hall in a non-ideological way: if a system is to be corrupt, best it be thoroughly corrupt. Tammany Hall made sure everybody a got a piece, a feed at the public trough. Sure, the pols got first feed, but the corruption was thoroughly egalitarian.

          The problem in 2011 is that the trough is empty, and Tammany Hall is spending money that doesn’t actually exist. This is contrary to the laws of nature, Mr. Beale, and why those stupid tea partiers are the only ones that see it, I dunno.

          The partisan angle is really moot, Michael. The problem is exactly the same in Europe, only more so, as is the ironic dilemma of people on the dole competing with public employees for the same [Euros].

          “Conservatives” had nothing to do with creating this mess, but in Europe as well as the US, if the welfare state can be saved, it won’t be the progressives who do it. They’re planning even more programs, not figuring out how to afford the ones that already exist. The “conservatives” are tasked with that.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            You have to retain belief in the humanity of the other side in order to conclude or care that their behavior is despicable. As to whether the Republicans are the party of the rich, well, if we can’t agree on that, I’m not sure there’s much for us to talk about. But then, I’ve felt that way for a while now, and told you so.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              “As to whether the Republicans are the party of the rich, well, if we can’t agree on that, I’m not sure there’s much for us to talk about. ”

              It’s funny how the Republicans are simultaneously the party of the rich and stuffed with ignorant blue-collar louts.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            The denizens of Tammany Hall are better compared to the Pigs of Orwell’s Animal Farm than actual pigs at the trough. If they were occasionally beneficent and found jobs for people, they ruthlessly exploited those who “benefited” from their services, demanding and getting their kickbacks. They were a class of labor middlemen, now very common in countries like China, Thailand, Central America and Africa.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke says:

              The GOP is the party of the taxpayer: they also give more to charity.

              “Party of the rich” is facile and pejorative, and fits arbitrage millionaire Jon Corzine, wheeler-dealer Harry Reid, and “undeserving” tax-dodging parasite John Kerry just as well.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:

                Tom:

                Don’t forget that average jane, Nancy Pelosi.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Well, Scott, the issue just perpetuates the class warfare. “Conservatives” pay more taxes AND contribute more to charity is the point.

                “The government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

                This from a socialist [but an honest one], George Bernard Shaw. Nothing has changed in the nearly 100 years since he said that, nor is it likely to. Ever.

                So after reading the scurrilous attacks on the people who walk the walk, those who pay the taxes AND give more to charity, a little clarity is in order here.

                The secret of the Dem political game is to use tax money to accrue political power, through an alliance with public employees and largesse with the taxpayers’ money. We hope—although the WI judicial election may prove otherwise—that this unsustainable game is up.

                We need 100s of $billions in spending cuts to start to align the books; it’s the Dems who will eventuate a gov’t shutdown, battling over a fraction of that. In that way, they have already won, holding Boegiboe hostage.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > “Conservatives” pay more taxes AND
                > contribute more to charity is the point.

                I’ve heard this bandied about, but the one study that I’ve personally seen that shows a correlation between charitable contributions and political party was based upon reported taxable income and permissible tax credits for donations to non-profit organizations, measured in absolute dollars, not a percentage of income.

                If you have another citation, I’d love to see it.

                I have never seen an analysis that corrects for the obvious problems with using these numbers as a proxy for charitable giving. There are two major problems with this study. One, it only accounts for fiscal contributions and not volunteerism, and two the method for showing contributions is at best a weak proxy for charitable giving.

                I do know that Conservatives are both more likely to contribute to their political party and their church, and both of those aspects could possibly be seen as being motivated by self-interest rather than charity. Without knowing more about the donator(s) and the recipients, a simple accounting is going to produce results that likely do not match the reality.

                For example, the Mormon tithe is traditionally 10%. Not to pick on the Mormons, just picked ’em out of a hat.

                If I make 100K, then, I have 10K in a recognized charitable contribution to write off my taxes, to the extent allowable by the IRS. The Mormon church is recognized as such an entity.

                However, the LDS does not allow its members (or anyone else) to see how the church actually spends its money. Nobody aside from the church leaders knows how much money goes to what function; proselytization, charity, maintenance of church buildings, income for church employees, etc. I’m uncertain that I would call this necessarily “charitable” giving.

                Forgive me if I find this to be less an instance of good-hearted charity on behalf of someone who is identified as a “conservative”, and instead simply a religious obligation that can only be loosely associated with do-gooderism.

                I have no idea which party is more likely to be involved with volunteerism than the other, but in the organizations of which I personally am a member, this skews heavily towards liberals. However, the local area I’m in skews heavily towards liberal, so that’s likewise a bad proxy.

                Correcting for these sorts of biases in a true study of charitable tendencies by political party would be a dissertations’ amount of work for a social scientist, I imagine.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Sorry, Mr. Cahalan, I don’t trust social scientists to seek out data that contradicts their politics.

                I have seen other data that excludes church donations, but I’ll leave it as an iirc since providing requested data seldom alters the grenade toss except to move onto another target.

                [This isn’t explicitly directed at you, Pat; it’s just the way things are.]

                As for do-gooderism, I admit I’m not as generous with Other People’s Money as some others are. Hence, the current crisis.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Do liberals feel good when they donate to their causes? I mean, does donating to the Tides Foundation give a feeling of warmth and “I’ve done a good thing!” that retarded teabaggers get when they give money to Bristol Palin?

                Or is it followed by a sinking feeling of dread/a wave of ennui?

                Because if donating to liberal charities feels good, maybe liberals are engaging in some light self-interest too.

                But if it’s followed by dread/ennui, that would certainly explain why there’s less of it on that side of the aisle.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                Wow, Tom.

                You don’t trust social scientist to produce data that contradicts their politics… and yet you started the whole sub-discussion off by referring to a study that was done by social scientists and would clearly contradict their tacitly implied liberal bias?

                You have seen other data which excludes church donations, which I actively solicited, but then don’t offer to provide it on account o’ “some people but not you” move goalposts.

                If you’ve seen this data, tell me where it is. I’ll go look at it. I bet you $2 that it says less than you might remember it saying.

                Finally, you equate actual real charity with a supposition that only the government can do it, tacitly putting those words in my mouth, too.

                You’re a piece of work, dude.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                @ Jaybird

                > Because if donating to liberal charities
                > feels good, maybe liberals are engaging
                > in some light self-interest too.

                Sure. But if you’re throwing about “charity” as a measure of a political parties characteristics, you kinda have to state what you mean by “charity”.

                Is giving to the Roman Catholic church more or less “charitable” than giving to Doctors Without Borders? Are they the same?

                Hey, here’s a good one: if you’re a liberal Catholic who believes in legal gay marriage, and you give to the Church anyway, are you more or less charitable than someone who just gives to the Church on account o’ it’s the thing to do?

                Is giving to a political party equivalent to working in a soup kitchen?

                > But if it’s followed by dread/ennui,
                > that would certainly explain why
                > there’s less of it on that side of the
                > aisle.

                Yah, it would 🙂Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Mr. Cahalan, if you tried to find the data yourself and failed, I’d take your word for it. Otherwise, you’re just punking.

                Hmmm.

                Of those surveyed, those who live in conservative households donated an average of $3,255 to charities outside of places of worship during the past year. By comparison, moderate households donated $2,926 and liberal households donated $1,879.

                http://philanthropy.com/blogs/prospecting/conservative-voters-are-more-liberal-with-charity/19091

                According to Google, Pat, I got

                About 15,100,000 results in 0.32 seconds

                after typing in “conservatives charity more.” It was the 3rd result listed.

                So now what? You gonna punk me some more? The survey was no good? It never ends, which is why I didn’t want to get into this BS in the first place.

                You owe me $2. IIRC, you live in Southern California. Make it a beer and we’ll be even for the bet and the punking. I’ve always been straightup with you and this wasn’t deserved.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                That’s not a study, Tom. That’s a news article. I don’t see any methodology there. There’s no mention of the limitations of the study, how people were surveyed, or anything else that shows that *this* study did anything to correct the limitations of the study I was talking about.

                See, this is my problem with people who pooh-pooh actual science (not that this is necessarily you): they fire off references to things that “everybody knows have been shown by a study somewhere”, but then when I ask them how they actually know that thing is known, they tell me to go look it up.

                Which implies that they “know” without actually having read the primary source. That’s really dangerous. I get really grumpy when I go looking and I can’t find the thing they say is out there. It’s a citation, dude. Rule number one when you’re writing a science paper: you need to cite your sources. Nobody in the fishing news business does this and it makes me insane.

                I don’t *know* if that study is any good or not, because I don’t have any of the details.

                I had specific problems with the paper I know of, I listed them above. I have yet to see anybody who has addressed those specific problems. That doesn’t mean that nobody has, it just means that I haven’t seen it. See, that’s the thing about science, Tommy-me-boy, the record of laypersons reporting science is really, really bad. You can see newspaper report after newspaper report discussing the same un-cited paper, and upon investigation of the actual paper, if you’re troubled to do so, you find they’re all doing it *wrong*. If you want examples, look at the Bad Science blog, Ben Goldacre talks about this all the time (http://www.badscience.net/)

                > 15,100,000 results in 0.32 seconds

                If I search for “Is Intelligent Design a Science” + “Yes”, I get

                About 5,530,000 results (0.26 seconds)

                So yeah, that’s frankly not very compelling. The problem with Google as Scholar (as opposed to Google Scholar) is that there’s no filter on the Internet.

                But I’ll give you your two bucks anyway. If you’ve got paypal, give a link to one of the grand poohbahs and ask ’em to forward it to me.

                Give me a chance to earn it back: I’ll even ask around and see if I can find anything that resembles what you’re claiming you already know. So my question for you is, if I find data that contradicts or at least qualifies your stated belief, whatcha gonna do?Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Well, Mr. Cahalan, you ignored the stronger half, that conservatives pay more taxes. Unless you want to take on GBS, that our gov’t is supported by a bunch of Pauls who would rather rob themselves than Peter.

                And instead of taking potshots at my assertion, and with a lengthy lecture at that, it was more incumbent on you to spend your time & effort locating and presenting a counterfactual. [Neither is my quik-pick from Google the only evidence. I have learned that epistemological agreement with gentlepersons of the left is almost always a black hole.]

                As for the honesty of social scientists, I have a bit of ammo in reserve, but we’ve meandered enough for now. I can often use their own data against their conclusions, or point out obvious elisions in the data they collected.

                But my primary argument grants them little status: I don’t consent to be ruled by utilitarianism and social science.

                I prefer principles, like liberty and stuff, on which they have little intelligible to say. By their own best intentions and definition, social science is supposed to be “value-free,” and I prefer values.

                I guess your elision on the beer means there won’t be any. Dang.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                Hey, if you’d rather get paid by a pint that’s okay with me. I owe it just for reading uncharitably, I’d say. I’ve been a grumpy puss the last few days.

                “And instead of taking potshots at my assertion, and with a lengthy lecture at that, it was more incumbent on you to spend your time & effort locating and presenting a counterfactual. ”

                See, here I disagree. If you’re making an assertion, it’s up to you to back it up.

                If I find that your assertion is lacking, given that I offer a pretty detailed reason why (as opposed to just saying, “Well, that’s just like… your opinion, man”), the burden of proof goes back to you to pick up the ball. I don’t always buy into the counterfactual method of argument, because it’s pretty easy to find counterfactuals for all sorts of things.

                If I just said, “that’s in dispute”, but didn’t say why… well, that would be pretty weak sauce. I mean, if I have a problem with someone’s evidence doesn’t it behoove me to explain why I think it’s not compelling, so that I may be compelled? If I don’t actually critique, then I can easily pull the shenanigans you refer to here and move goalposts.

                Put another way, I know that conservatives donate more of their money to IRS-approved tax deductible organizations than liberals do. I don’t dispute that.

                I don’t think that is that this is the entire (or even really a good) picture of charity. The fact that I don’t know the details that make up the rest of the picture isn’t exactly surprising. I’m just saying there’s more to the picture than that. Do you agree?

                That doesn’t mean that liberals are more charitable, or conservatives are less charitable… it just means that the use of the word “charitable” is exceeding it’s bounds, here. We don’t have enough data to come to a good conclusion.

                The problem is that most data is very limited in scope, and yet it is interpreted widely in practice (again, particularly by reporting and the general public). People hear a factoid and interpret it as generalizable information. Usually, it’s not. Almost always, it’s not.

                “I can often use their own data against their conclusions, or point out obvious elisions in the data they collected.”

                I often find that the data doesn’t sufficiently support conclusions in conference papers, people overstate conference papers all the time to get in the door. They usually get their asses handed to them in the session, though. Journal papers are usually better written, and much less prone to overstate generalizability. But I’ll absolutely agree with both your second statement and with the principle that the public perception of the actual conclusion (as bolstered by the media) very commonly doesn’t match with the actual primary source.

                If you want to talk about taxes, then yes I’ll also agree for the sake of the thread that conservatives pay more in taxes, for many values of “pay” and “more”. This doesn’t necessarily imply that liberals structure the tax system to affect conservatives more *because they’re conservative*. It’s pretty likely that they structure the tax system to affect people with more money, because *they have more money*. The fact that people with more money skew conservative can be explained by a whole slew of factors that are related to normal human nature.

                “I don’t consent to be ruled by utilitarianism and social science. ”

                I don’t expect anyone to be ruled by utilitarianism or social science. I do expect people to a least acknowledge it, though.

                Pops and I had an interesting conversation once about drugs and drug laws. I asked him about his general live and leave approach and said, “So, given that we can’t fix drug addiction, what’s the problem with setting up hostels where the drug addicts can just get high and not get out into the public and rob people for drug money?” His response: “I used to think that was a good idea, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be establishing a failure zone. A death building. Where the broken people would go to die, and do it out of my sight and without affecting my safety. Practically, it’s probably a good idea, but I can’t agree that society ought to pay to create a place where broken people go to commit slow suicide.” “Even if the alternative is that they go commit slow suicide on their own anyway, and hurt other people in the process?” “Yes, because the likelihood that anyone will do anything to help them drops to zero once you put them into the bucket of ‘useless people’.” He has a point.

                Sometimes, maximal utility is morally reprehensible.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Pat, your Pop’s critique of utilitarianism, of “failure buildings,” “death zones” for addicts, is guest post-worthy. The aesthetic, that which is more than just the material—call it philosophy, poetry, theology, I don’t care—is the part of being human we ignore at our peril.

                As for the social science establishment, I see too many studies that always seem to conclude conservatives are incapable of critical thinking, or abortions are good for you. The recent NYT Jonathan Haidt article, iirc, found one single social psychologist of any note. This makes me doubt there are enough monkey wrenches in the peer review wheel to be sanguine about the process.

                That said, when a study has a Freakonomicsy counterintuitive conclusion, it’s well worth a close look.

                As for burden of proof on the internet, I must admit that I find that any mook can question an assertion, and usually does.

                After having hit the books to provide the requested proof, I have soooo seldom found it worth the effort. Meself, when someone makes a claim I doubt, I pay the courtesy to look for the proof or counterproof on my own initiative. It’s usually just a few clicks away, and my rebuttal [if found, and it usually is] is fortified with evidence in hand rather than casting bland aspersions on the other fellow’s accuracy and intellectual honesty.

                Which, I have found, is often the true purpose of these requests for proof, since the proof, when provided, is ignored and it’s down to biting on my other ankle.

                As for the pint, make mine Guinness! Cheers.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke says:

              Charity and patronage, BlaiseP, the Democrat way. Public employees provide the contributions and manpower, those on the dole provide the votes. It’s quite a workable system as long as there’s enough Other People’s Money.

              Hence, the current crisis, not just here but more so in Europe.

              But have it your way, as is your wont—Animal Farm is also associated with the left.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic says:

        “Michael, it’s undisputed is that the avg WI teacher makes $100K in salary & bennies.”

        Actually, I’ll dispute that. That’s an MPS average, not a WI average. MPS is the blanket school district of the 25th largest city in the country. Apples to apples our teachers are paid below the median teacher wage for equivalent cities.

        Actual WI teacher average overall compensation is more like $72K. Which is below median for equivalent educational levels in the private sector but slightly above median for teachers nationally on a per capita basis.

        I’ll dig up the cites later, but as one of the few WI residents here I’m pretty sure I have more data than most.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic says:

        Also, note that that 100K number for MPS includes not only teachers but administrators. IIRC of the 629 people making over 100K *salary* in MPS (out of over 6,000) exactly 0 were actual educators.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      Gummint, state and federal, is morbidly bloated. I don’t agree with your assessment of Gov. Walker’s budgetary plan as an effort to blame public unions rather as an effort to begin, immediately, to do what is necessary to pull the state out of the financial hole expertly dug by big-spending libruls.
      Of course, there should be no public unions. FDR, Jimmy Carter, and I are all in agreement.
      The public unions have pretty much bled out the state taxpayers. You can whine, cry, protest, and go to the barricades. You can load up the state judiciary with fellow travellers, recall Walker, and run away from your responsibilities, have at it. But, in the end, under commie-dem control, the state (Wisc., Ohio, New York) is going to financially collapse and when that happens I wouldn’t think very many retired teachers, etc are going to get anywhere near their argeed upon pensions.
      If I were you I’d support Walker, take the cuts just like the private unions did in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and learn a lesson about living in the real world.
      Having witnessed the public thug unions and their commie antics, I will never again vote for a levy that benefits a state, county, city, or township union member. You people have bled me dry.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I wish people who don’t live in my state would stop pretending their opinions on what we should do about our problems matter, or that our problems are gravely affecting them.Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        Ok, but why? Wisconsin like any state has its particulars, but the main issues of state finance are affecting most if not all the states.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          Not to put too fine a point on it, but I object to Bob’s way of instructing me what my approach to the politics of my own state should be. I don’t mean to suggest that the issues, certainly when abstracted, ought to be off the table for comment. But I do think we should make a practice of giving some deference to people commenting on the politics of their own localities. We can then frame responses by reflecting on our own local politics, pausing to note both parallels but also distinctions, and the discussion can take on an interesting comparative flavor. Otherwise, we end up just instructing each other on specific local matters that we don’t have in common based on little but generic ideological arguments and it becomes, well… boring.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            Like I wrote a couple of threads ago, a number of elements of Bob’s style are a distraction. That’s why I write differently, even if Bob and I agree on most political-cultural things.

            That aside I don’t think you have much of a case. Why should Bob defer to your appreciation of Wisconsin issues? As you mentioned elsewhere, it’s the same as New York (and almost every other state for that matter).Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              Koz, it’s something of a challenge to be blunt, annoying, and right!Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah. That’s why I try to do blunt and right and stop there. Hopefully I succeed some of the time.

                What we write is going be annoying enough on substance, we shouldn’t be gratuitously adding to it.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              In the case of this matter, where I do admit similar issues face various states, I think that’s fair, Koz, so long as we frame our admonitions generically, like, “Governors are just trying to gain a whip hand agianst their state workforces so as to portray themselves as wringing maximum efficiency from them and ensuring that electorates are relieved from the onerous compensation burdens placed on them throuh the negotiations of past duly elected legislatures.” If the argument is the situations are generic, then the arguments themselves can be generic. Bob wants what’s happening here to happen in Ohio (and it is). Fine – so if he wants to be specific about that, he should, or he can say his version of what I wrote for him above. But he shouldn’t tell me how I should act in my polity when he’s not part of it. In fact, respect for our mutual political equality dictates he shouldn’t do that even when we are part of the same polity, since he has his entire political personhood through which to act out his desires for the exactly one political actor in a shared polity he has a say over.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                That’s a good answer Mike and I would have agreed with you until this recession and the problems associated with it.

                The reason that doesn’t work anymore is that the states have made and are in the process of making commitments to future expenditures that they do not have the resources to meet.

                Therefore, they’re going to be looking to the feds for a get out of jail free card. Which the feds won’t want to do, but probably will.

                This situation is reminiscent of some of the debate over the Obama financial regulation bill. One commenter here cited the text and assured us that there was never going to be another bailout of distressed creditors.

                It doesn’t matter. When the situation arises where there will be imminent financial collapse without corrective action and there’s a statute on the books that says no bailouts. Then the statute is simply going to be repealed.

                The time to take corrective action wrt the states’ future obligated expenditures was well before now, frankly, but we already missed that train so now will have to do.

                On an ancillary note, there’s a couple of side issues that I’m surprised we haven’t seen yet. We probably will soon enough.

                1. There is no federal bill AFAIK that future accruals to all public sector defined benefit pensions.

                2. Wrt Social Security people are starting to differentiate between current (or soon to be)pensioners and younger participants in the system, but that hasn’t crossed over to public sector pensions yet. I suspect it will soon. The states can’t pay everybody. Who gets left out?Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Geez Mikie, I’m in Ohio and we’re next, so the issue(s) does affect me. Plus, I spent a lotta time in Racine, Fon du Lac, and the Milwaukee County Airport back in the 70’s when yous guys used to make stuff and had real jobs.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          See above. Ohioans should decide Ohio politics. Wisconsinites Wsconsin. It’s not a knowledge issue; I’m glad you’re familiar with Sconnie. I encourage you to move in so you can vote! And if you want to make an Ohio-targeted argument (being an Ohioan) to the effect of “Let’s do what Walker’s doing in Wisconsin!”, knock yourself out. But that is the furthest thing from telling me how I should act political with respect to my Governor. I don’t welcome that, and I don’t mind telling you.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Mike, these are ‘public’ issues. We all have opinions on these issues. I have no clue why, on this particular site, you’re taking umbrage with me for disagreeing with your collectivist views? BTW, I see we found an entire Wisconsin town, uncounted, in the recent juridical election. I thought only Ohio Democrats lost bags of votes.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “Faced with a tailor-made opportunity to to advance their ostensible ideological commitments straightforwardly by simply saying, “You voted to say you wanted smaller government; here is what that actually feels like,” they instead scapegoat public employees for their supposedly outsize pay in a budget crisis, using what they have actually campaigned on saying is a good idea even in the abstract — painful cuts in services — as a cudgel to beat the public over the head with, to try to get them to accept the suggestion they blame their trash collectors and guidance counsellors for both the initial budgetary problem itself, and for any service cuts that were made necessary for it. All this when, to follow their political arguments, all things being equal, in a straight-up debate about the “size of government,” they’d presumably say are a good idea in a vacuum!”

      Shock Capitalism. Naomi Klein was incredibly correct and incredibly prophetic.Report

  17. Avatar North says:

    Well here’s hoping it ends up turning out okay for you and Boe, Jason.Report

    • I’m with North. For your sake (and, admission of bias, for the sake of someone in my immediate family who’s going to be furloughed), I hope it doesn’t last too long and someone works out a reimbursement.Report

  18. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Disclosure here–our contract is funded, but our customers are government employees. We find ourselves in the unique position of being contractually obligated to hold a major design review that our customer won’t be allowed to attend!Report

  19. Avatar Barry says:

    North @55:
    ” I said it puts Team Red back on the board in terms of credibility. As in moving closer to being credible. I’m not saying that the proposal itself is good or even reasonable. ”

    So putting out a clearly fraudulent proposal moves one closer to being credible?Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It looks like the whipping would have stopped before it really got started.Report