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Losing Free Speech?

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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:41 pm

Jabari is not saying that we shouldn't pay taxes, he's saying that we chose a bad source for the tax.  Intead of taxing income, we should tax consumption.  You exclude necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, then everything after that becomes optional and a person has more control over the tax that they pay.

There is some merit to it, but in my opinion enough holes and pitfalls that a simplified income tax makes things easier and keeps the government out of using the tax system for social engineering, which is an almost certainty with a consumption tax.

You may want to get used to the idea though, because I think it is inevitible (you may hear it called a "value added tax" (VAT)) as an addon and not replacement of our current income tax.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Jabari » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:07 pm

Hrobertgar wrote:
Jabari wrote:
#2 (Government-performed science) should be private as I mentioned before - someone will figure out a profitable application if the research is worth doing.


I have to totally disagree here...

Fair enough - it's at least a reasonable point of contention/discussion. The issue doesn't move the mark all that far on the statism/anarchism scale (as opposed to something like, say, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

They could do some stuff legitimately under the "national defense" umbrella as it is already - a large part of NASA (for example) would/could fall into that.

// sarcasm mode on
As far as comms satellites and such... does anybody really think that TV is a "public good" at this point? :lol:
// sarcasm mode off

Fivelives wrote:
Jabari wrote:Income tax is theft. Talk about "tax brackets" and such doesn't even register with me - the only allowable income tax bracket is 0.


I bet you drove to work today. You have electricity thanks to the government installing an infrastructure for delivering it to your door. Similarly, you took a shower this morning because the government put down water pipes. If not for taxes (of all sorts), you wouldn't have any of that - and much more that we take for granted.

Hmm, I DID say I could support a consumption tax (such as the FairTax), and that would pay for the roads, electric grid, etc, which I said were legitimate governmental functions. :/

The government needs revenue for its legitimate services. The income tax is not the way to go (although the Estate Tax ("death tax") is true abomination). Tariffs and consumption taxes are ok.

Always remember that taxes are taken at gunpoint, literally. The "elected officials" are the ones that get to control the gun, and while I won't speak for all of them, I'm sure that a number get into politics for that reason alone...

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Fivelives wrote:Sure, private for-profit companies could've done it all... except for the niggling little fact that they wouldn't have. It wouldn't have been profitable at all for the company installing them.


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Masthead of the $1,000 bond of the Great Northern Railway, the only transcontinental railroad built without federal funds and without federally-granted land.

After the Credit Mobilier Congressional bribery scandal of 1872 finally left his corrupt and incompetent federally-funded Union Pacific and Central Pacific railway competition facing bankruptcy, Great Northern Railway founder James Jerome Hill expanded his railroad through the northern plains and northwest, and eventually established a steamship line to compliment the railroad (as the ships would carry goods delivered by rail), and trans-Pacific shipment of American goods to the Orient rose seven-fold in less than ten years around the turn of the 20th Century.

So it is possible, has been done, and was very profitable for the developers. *shrug*

Fivelives wrote:Americans live by the rule "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Unfortunately, the government is "broke". In multiple meanings of the word.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:18 pm

Fridmarr wrote:There is a lot I'd like to say in response to that, I don't agree with much of it.  Unfortunately, I need to be quick, maybe I can expand on it later, anyhow...

 

There is little difference between someone putting a commercial out for public discourse or paying a PAC a huge sum of money which they in turn use to create the same commericals or run a "voter registration" drive or whatever.  Ultimately, it's money going to the politician.  You can not legislate one out of some nebulous notion of fairness, but then not the other.
 

Companies are merely a logical entity.  Companies have no interests, companies can not donate money, companies can not really do anything, because they are not real objects.  Everything a company does, is done at the behest of that company's leaders(people).  Board members, stock owners and other managers do those things.  On the flip side those people have legal responsibilities as well and can be held accountable for the actions of their company.  This also applies to "groups" like labor unions, the NRA etc etc. 
 

I could care less about the number of "voices" people have, that's a meaningless term.  It has never been equal, will never be equal, nor should it be.  People get one vote, but can they speak to as many people as they want or will grant them an audience.  Money helps get a bigger audience, which gives them more voices, there are other means to increase your influence as well (like celebrity status, not being an idiot etc), but money is one of the easiest (if you have it) and most effective.  This is true for private citizens and companies alike.
 

All the nonsense about smoke filled backrooms aside.  What difference does it make if Bill Gates donates his own millions to a congressman to buy his vote or get a bill authored instead of your ficticious company?  Maybe Bill owns a bunch of stock in your company and would love to see them be profitable to line his pockets even more.  Regardless, why single out the company but not the individual?

The first part of what you were saying was a lot about accountability.  I'm pretty sure that donations of more than a few hundred dollars do have to be documented, whether to a candidate or a PAC.  So I think that is covered currently and if not I have no problem with that requirement.  If congressmen don't do their due dilligence when voting on a bill, that's hardly related the source of the bill.  Though, it harkens back to government's size and some of the symptoms of that. 
 



See, I don't think Bill Gates should be able to have the ability to have that much influence either. Or a celebrity. Or whoever. Everything I said in my post would remain the same if you replaced the word "Company" with "CEO of a company".

Money, and other types of influence are great, but they should not equal power over the political decision-making process of the Nation. No one should be able to influence the actions of a legislator *purely due to their wealth*. That is not democracy, and it is not a republic either. That is kleptocracy. The representatives of the people become merely the means for the wealthy to extract more wealth from the people, and advance their interests at the expense of everyone else. And that is what is happening. It has become more lucrative for companies to invest money on Pennsylvania Avenue than on Wall Street.

Money, or fame, or writing position papers on the internet, or simply standing on the street corner and giving speeches, are all great and legitimate ways to spread the word about your positions on issues. But that is all they are. Spreading the word. The fact that your method of Free Speech is money does not mean that your Speech has more merit than any other Speech.

Issues should be decided based on the quality of your ideas. I believe decisions should be made because you have the Right Answers. Not because the greatest amount of influence is balanced on that particular side of the scale. What kind of logic is that?

The reason the Founding Fathers created such a great and lasting system of government was because they hashed out what they felt was RIGHT. Using debate and logic and compromise and knowledge and discourse based on facts.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Jabari » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:36 pm

Hrobertgar wrote:... it is a wash between the two parties. Republicans have big business, and Democrats have big unions...

What two parties? We have a bi-factional ruling elite at the moment - there is miniscule difference between Republicans and Democrats.

Neither party is "fiscally conservative" - the Paul Ryan budget that he just proposed doesn't even balance the budget until 2040 (and with no way to force subsequent Congress budgets to stick to it, it's just a dog-and-pony show anyway); and the Democrats are going bonkers that it's just way too radical! Good grief - they're all financially insane.

The Republicans claim to be more "socially conservative", but it looks to me like they just want to control different things. (Democrats want to control your right to self defense, Republicans your right to privacy. Some choice.)

The "political scale" everybody always pictures has Democrats on the left side and Republicans on the right side. This is incorrect.

A proper political scale has Statism on one side (we'll call it the left side), and Anarchism (properly defined) on the other. Rs and Ds would both be about halfway between the middle and left edge, with Rs maybe a micrometer or two to the right of the Ds. Maybe.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:42 pm

Brekkie wrote:See, I don't think Bill Gates should be able to have the ability to have that much influence either. Or a celebrity. Or whoever. Everything I said in my post would remain the same if you replaced the word "Company" with "CEO of a company".

Money, and other types of influence are great, but they should not equal power over the political decision-making process of the Nation. No one should be able to influence the actions of a legislator *purely due to their wealth*. That is not democracy, and it is not a republic either. That is kleptocracy. The representatives of the people become merely the means for the wealthy to extract more wealth from the people, and advance their interests at the expense of everyone else. And that is what is happening. It has become more lucrative for companies to invest money on Pennsylvania Avenue than on Wall Street.

Money, or fame, or writing position papers on the internet, or simply standing on the street corner and giving speeches, are all great and legitimate ways to spread the word about your positions on issues. But that is all they are. Spreading the word. The fact that your method of Free Speech is money does not mean that your Speech has more merit than any other Speech.

Issues should be decided based on the quality of your ideas. I believe decisions should be made because you have the Right Answers. Not because the greatest amount of influence is balanced on that particular side of the scale. What kind of logic is that?

The reason the Founding Fathers created such a great and lasting system of government was because they hashed out what they felt was RIGHT. Using debate and logic and compromise and knowledge and discourse based on facts.

Bill Gates could certainly drop the money to influence a politician many times over in fact (The dude is worth Billions with a B, political influence wouldn't even dent his wallet), never mind if he brings some friends along. You could replace Company with Person, because private citizens can do all those things as easily as a company. Ask your favorite liberal how they feel about the Koch brothers...

That aside, you are letting rhetoric overpower reason a bit. The vast majority of companies invest far more in traditional investments and themselves than they do Washington DC. I think politicians being flat out bought by money is actually somewhat rare. There is certainly influence, but at the end of the day they have to deal with their conscience and frequently donors have competing demands anyhow. Also special interest groups mostly give to politicians that already agree with their positions. Most politicians probably do feel that they are typically voting for what they think is right, albeit in a terribly broken system, and from a flawed perspective. Again though, that's just all a symptom of that greater problem.

I'm not advocating for a system in which money is a way to buy influence, I'm telling you that you can't easily legislate it out, and in many ways it is unfair too do so. Money aside people still don't and will never have equal voice/influence. As long as one small group has that much power, corruption will follow.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:36 pm

I hestitate to agree that giving more power to the States is the answer though. If anything, the States are WORSE than the Federal government as far as gross mismanagement, and they have little incentive to not screw up because Big Daddy Federal Government is always there to bail them out if they totally jack their finances up.

Additionally, in the federal government, at least regional influences balance each other out to a certain extent. You need the ability to, as a country as a whole, tell certain groups of people to stop being idiots. Civil Rights for minorites are a big example for this, and in the current day Women's rights is another one.

It seems to be a common trend for Libertarians to call the federal government an overbearing tyrant, and then call for those same powers to simply be transferred to the states. As if the states would be somehow less tyrannical.
That immediately raises my hackles, because it doesn't sound like the cause of Liberty. It sounds like resenting the fact that the damn Libtards up in New York and California aren't letting us oppress the gays and the mexicans and tell women to get back in the kitchen where they belong.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:11 pm

State governments are not much different than federal governments except they matter a lot less so they don't get nearly as much attention. They may be more inept (though in my experience they really are about the same) but at least far less devious. Obviously that would change though as those officials actually matter much more, there is also county and city level as well that would pick up some responsibilities. The idea here is that those governments become more accountable because they are much much closer to the people that they are governing.

I'm not sure you have a solid understanding of limited government/libertarian principles. Civil rights would fall pretty squarely under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. That's what the federal government should be dealing with. In fact I find the republican stance on gay marriage as a "state issue" a bit of a cop out. You shouldn't be married in one state and not in another, that's precisely the consolatory behavior that the federal government should be dealing with.

I wouldn't call myself a full fledged libertarian, I'm a limited government guy though obviously. Libertarians are generally for mostly open borders, providing a path to citizenship/work permits (basically decriminalizing immigrants looking for work, decriminalizing a lot of things really), and gay marriage (though in reality they want government out of marriage all together, but allowing gay marriage is considered a step forward), so I haven't got any idea how you came up with that last comment. I'm not sure if it could be more off the mark.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:57 am

So here's the simplest solution: get rid of the federal government and become a union of independent states, rather than a federation. /discuss.

The problem with the idea of a consumption tax is that when people discover they can "stick it to the man" or "live tax free" they will, regardless of how much of a personal inconvenience it is. I already know people who live on the east coast that will drive 50 miles out of their way (on surface streets) to avoid paying a $5 toll. In fact, most people I know in that area avoid the toll booths like they're handing out aids or something.

The transcontinental railroad you were talking about was a relative latecomer, after the government-subsidized railroads already proved profitable. So, yeah - valid point. A company spent a massive amount of other people's money (what'd you think railroad bonds were, anyway?) to build something that had already proven profitable both here and overseas in Europe. And might I add, it took the government to standardize railroad tracks after the civil war, simply because some companies built to their own standards and cargo had to be offloaded at certain points, then reloaded on other cars, just to fit the rails. That was the main problem during the civil war, by the bye - was getting supplies to northern soldiers in the south and vice versa, because of the railroad track widths.

If everything is privatized, we'd see that same problem, except on a MUCH vaster scale. For a recent example, take cellphone towers. Some broadcast an analog signal, some broadcast a digital signal - and if you're in an area where you don't get the "right" signal, then your phone won't work. It was deemed "cost-inefficient" by the companies involved to build their cell towers in places that were already saturated by competitors. If you've ever wondered why phones work better in certain areas than others, that's why - it's not the phone, it's the distance to the nearest tower that's broadcasting their specific signal.

Sure, privatization would spur competition, but there's a flip side to that coin - competition is exclusive. My cellphone example above? The only reason you can get a signal in areas where you don't have a cell tower is because the government regulates it and "forces" companies to contract with each other to share towers. I put "forces" in quotations because it's more of an incentivization program - tax breaks based on how much they pay out to contract cell network usage.

Now let's extend this further - competition lowers prices, but excludes other competitors by any means reasonably possible. What happens to the guy who owns a gas station when they're forced to buy 20 different grades of gasoline for different car manufacturers? Or how about the supermarket that can't supply eggs, because the poultry farms all contracted to other market chains? Something to think about.

Whether we like it or not, the tax structure as it currently stands is the best way to take care of business in this country. The problem is out of control spending, not out of control taxation. I don't like paying 5 different taxes (income tax, state tax, sales tax, gas tax, licensing & registration tax) just to drive my car any more than the other Joe Schmoes out there, but just getting rid of income tax isn't the solution. Curbing spending is. The problem with solving that problem is the same as with every other solution out there - the solution raises a whole host of new problems; in this case, "cut where?"
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:23 am

Being able to stick it to the man isn't a problem with a consumption tax, it's a benefit. It'd be nearly impossible to do, but it's a viable choice.

Also, private companies aren't stupid. They recognize the need to adopt standards, that there is value in integration. You also develop private authoritative bodies like we have now in various industries.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Dantriges » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:36 am

I wouldn´t trust any private company to make sensible choices if there is short term profit involved in being not sensible. Standardization in private hands would be something like everyone establishing their own standards then crying a river when the whole system comes crashing down. Solution afterwards is asking for government money or robbing the consumer even more.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Sagara » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:41 am

Dantriges wrote:I wouldn´t trust any private company to make sensible choices if there is short term profit involved in being not sensible. Standardization in private hands would be something like everyone establishing their own standards then crying a river when the whole system comes crashing down. Solution afterwards is asking for government money or robbing the consumer even more.


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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:28 am

We can't even get companies to agree on cell phone chargers yet you expect that would suddenly change if the government waved their magic wand and said "Okay guys, we obviously failed our asses off at this. It's all up to you now."?

Another interesting example. There are 5 or 6 manufacturers of AEDs (Automatic Electronic Defibrillators). The automatic version uses disposable pads that both act as a 3-lead EKG (to detect ventricular fibrillation) and a set of transdermal electrodes. Guess how many of those pads are interchangeable between manufacturers?

None.

This is life saving technology that pretty much singlehandedly raised heart attack and other forms of myocardial infarction survival by eighty-odd percent yet you have to match manufacturers of hardware and disposable hardware.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:43 am

Am I the only one seeing the irony of complaining about private industry's inability to implement reasonable standardization on an internet forum? Of course I'm typing this through my android webkit based browser, but hey I'm currently sitting on government run train at least.


EDIT:I'm not entirely sure how we got on this tangent.  I don't think a complete turnover of public domain owned infrastructure to the private sector makes sense now or going forward.  I know libertarians tend to want privatization where possible, but I don't really know where that line gets drawn. 
 
That said, this has gotten kind of silly, I mean cell phone chargers?  Are you really wanting to the government to standardize hardware/software?  That would be amazingly terrible, and really is it all that difficult to obtain a charger for your phone?  If it is, I'm guessing the competition factor will work out nicely to solve that problem.

It's hard to on one hand complain about undue influence in government by private enterprise (mostly corporations) and then on the other hand complain that private industry can't handle standardization tasks (while ignoring a long history of just the opposite).  I mean isn't the former problem there much worse?  That's basically a corporation with the legal authority of government making standards in law.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:10 am

Quick! Blame the president! IT'S ALL HIS FAULT!
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:11 am

Fivelives wrote:Quick! Blame the president! IT'S ALL HIS FAULT!

For the train or Android? lol
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