Mario Rizzo on Income Differences

by Don Boudreaux on June 29, 2007

in Inequality

One of my former professors at NYU, Mario Rizzo, has this outstanding letter published in The Financial Times:

Why should we care about sharing out prosperity?

By Mario J Rizzo

Published: June 28 2007 03:00 | Last updated: June 28 2007 03:00

From Prof Mario J. Rizzo.

Sir, Lawrence Summers’ article "Harness market forces to share
prosperity" (June 25), on reducing income inequality, leaves several
critical questions unanswered.

First, why should we care that income inequality is increasing? Was the previous distribution of income more just, simply
because it was more nearly equal? Second, neither Professor Summers nor
anyone else has a comprehensive understanding of the causes of recent
trends in income distribution. In general, it is a bad idea to look for
solutions to a "problem" whose causes we do not understand. Third, the
whole idea of "sharing prosperity" seems to imply that prosperity is
some kind of aggregate to which we all have some claim, much like
members of a family. What justifies looking at society as a family? If
it is, Prof Summers can just send me a monthly cheque without the need
for legislation.

Finally, Prof Summers uses a shameful rhetorical trick. By
suggesting a "solution" that steers a middle ground between excessive
regulation and doing nothing (as if we do not redistribute income now),
he appears to be very reasonable. Perhaps it is even more reasonable,
however, to think through the rhetoric of increased redistribution
before inventing new policies.

Mario J. Rizzo,

Department of Economics,
New York University,
New York, NY 10012, US

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{ 49 comments }

Anon June 29, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Spam

The Dirty Mac June 29, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Obadiah Oblada

Brad Hutchings June 29, 2007 at 1:07 pm

What a great letter! I have definitely seen a theme of late: To save [good freedom thing], we must [do totalitarian thing]. It's a close relative to "Mitt Romney Logic", as in "to go on vacation, we need to put the dog in a cage and strap it to the roof of the car."

muirgeo June 29, 2007 at 8:14 pm

"Why should we care about sharing out prosperity?"

Maybe because guys like Jefferson, Jackson, Hamilton, T Roosevelt, Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower, Truman, Obama and others all warned against the dangers of great accumulations of power and wealth.

Lee Kelly June 29, 2007 at 8:31 pm

"Maybe because guys like Jefferson, Jackson, Hamilton, T Roosevelt, Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower, Truman, Obama and others all warned against the dangers of great accumulations of power and wealth."

Taking from the prosperous to enrich the less prosperous may prevent a great accumulation of wealth, but at the expense of creating a great accumulation of power, to those who are entrusted with that task. In fact, great accumulations of wealth are usually beneficial, and it is only problematic where those who have accumulated power can be bribed by the wealthy.

Where the winners and losers in business are determined by consumer demand, then businesses direct their resources toward satisfying consumers. But where the winners and losers are determined by those who have accumulated power and can rewrite laws granting special priviledges or protection, then resources will be directed toward influencing officials.

It is rather perverse to suggest the solution is to steal from one group and give to another, especially considering the corruption of civil society that encourages. The smarter solution would be to depoliticise politics, reigning in the scope of democratic reform, to make it a punishable offence to try and pass laws whcih so obviously infringe upon individual liberty.

In this way we needn't worry about great accumulations of wealth, since we have cut off the great accumulation of power necessary to corrupt the system.

muirgeo June 29, 2007 at 9:08 pm

So Lee should we reign in the laws that allow for corporations? I mean I don't work for a corporation why should I be forced to pay for courts to cover corporate law issues? They aren't mentioned in the constitution as well so their constitutionality is in question. Same with patents. Should we do away with the patent and trade office and the FCC while we are at it. I never use those and don't want to be forced by threat of law to pay for them.

methinks June 29, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Well said, Lee!

Wonderful letter by professor Rizzo, thanks for posting it for us.

Russ Nelson June 29, 2007 at 11:02 pm

muirgeo, when you consistently limit your thinking to one side of an issue, you will consistently only find solutions on one side.

BTW, you argue from authority above. That is a fallacy.

BTW, corporations are regulated on the state level.

BTW, patents are useful arts, as mentioned in the Constitution.

raja r June 29, 2007 at 11:32 pm

I mean I don't work for a corporation why should I be forced to pay for courts to cover corporate law issues?

You are correct. You shouldn't have to. Courts are just another service that need to paid by people who need & use that service.

Same with patents. Should we do away with the patent and trade office and the FCC while we are at it.

Right again. If someone wants to protect their inventions & secrets, they should enter into contract with people to whom they wish to reveal the secret. And pay for courts to enforce that contract.
The state shouldn't be protecting certain businesses simply because they thought of an idea first.
If patents had existed x000 years ago, we'd be paying royalties to some guy to plant rice/create a wheel because he thought of that 'idea' first.

I never use those and don't want to be forced by threat of law to pay for them.

3/3. Your libertarian party membership and a copy of 'Atlas Shrugged' will be mailed to you.

David P. Graf June 29, 2007 at 11:44 pm

If we are rightly concerned about the concentration of political power, then why do we pooh-pooh the concentration of economic power?

M. Hodak June 30, 2007 at 12:31 am

"If we are rightly concerned about the concentration of political power, then why do we pooh-pooh the concentration of economic power?"

Because we can make moral distinctions. The essence of economic power is that it is able to grow out of voluntary exchange. The essence of political power is that it can only grow out of the barrel of a gun.

muirgeo June 30, 2007 at 1:25 am

hodak,

The denial that economic power is capable of suppression of freedoms and liberties is against all the facts of history. And never has economic power existed uncorrupted or with out corrupting political power.

The claims of the virtue of a libertarian society are equally as valid as claiming communism and anarchy are both good forms of government as long as everyone is honest , hard working and equally capable.

Brad June 30, 2007 at 4:57 am

"And never has economic power existed uncorrupted or with out corrupting political power."

muirgeo, So in today's dollars, what is your threshold of corrupt economic power concentrated in one person's hands? Just curious if i know anyone you're slandering. Point of reference, when the Clinton DOJ filed antitrust against Microsoft, Microsoft has as many DC lobbyists on its payroll as you or I did, i.e zero. Where was money corrupting political power there?

Lee Kelly June 30, 2007 at 8:23 am

"So Lee should we reign in the laws that allow for corporations?"

In a free society, laws are prohibitive, not permissive. The idea is that you can do anything which is no prohibited by law, not that you can only do that which you have been granted a permit to. Therefore, there are no, or ought to be no, laws which "allow" for corporations i.e. a collection of individuals acting as a single unit.

That said, there are laws which permit particular corporations to have rights, akin to the rights of an individual, and I suspect this is what you are referring to. Toward that I iterate my statement above, government should not be in the game of passing laws which permit activity, but only laws which prohibit all equally.

"I mean I don't work for a corporation why should I be forced to pay for courts to cover corporate law issues?"

I do not understand what may have given you the impression that I would argue that you should!

"They aren't mentioned in the constitution as well so their constitutionality is in question. Same with patents. Should we do away with the patent and trade office and the FCC while we are at it. I never use those and don't want to be forced by threat of law to pay for them."

Well, you may never become a victim of crime or live to be invaded by another country, but in a liberal society you would be expected to pay minimal taxes for law enforcement and a military. The government is there to protect freedom, from threats within or without. To that end, law should prohibit government introducing any legislation which further restricts individual liberty, even with popular democratic support.

So, I doubt that even a liberal (in the classic sense), or at least most liberals, would endorse the idea that we should be completely exempted from taxes, even if we never use the services they pay for, if not simply because we benefit from their presence.

As for your particular examples, the task is to determine where they fall in the landscape. Food for thought: http://reformthelp.org/rights/generalizing/rivalry.php

Sam Grove June 30, 2007 at 10:47 am

Do we have to work over all this again?

Great concentratoins of wealth and political power are mutually attracted.

The wealthy are attracted to political power as it is a means of protecting or enhancing their wealthy at the expense of others.

The politicians are attracted to wealth for obvious reasons. In the U.S. wealth is required to get elected and re-elected. Often the wealthy and the politicians are one and the same.

I don't think it is known how much wealth has been transferred from the bottom to the top via political means, but I suspect it is enormous.

Political power always falls into the domain of elites.

Thus it has been through all history.

Government evolved from conquest, the purpose of which was to seize wealth created by the productive, and eventually, to control the productive capacity of the producers.

Come on Muirgeo, give it a stretch.

save_the_rustbelt June 30, 2007 at 10:57 am

"Why should we care about sharing out prosperity?"

Because the recent increase in inequality is largely related to the ability to purchase political influeence and protection?

And why are we giving welfare to oil companies?

Just wondering.

Sam Grove June 30, 2007 at 11:19 am

Thought experiment.
After the communist revolution in Russia and the formation of the USSR, all private property was abolished, currency was abolished, income inequities abolished (well, mostly). There were no corporations, or private business of any kind.

Were the people subjected to this regime any better off?
Was there an end to corruption?

Think, Muirgeo! What did the Soviet Union have in common with the U.S. despite the huge difference in economic systems?

Brad June 30, 2007 at 2:13 pm

save_the_rustbelt… Would you care to detail the subsidies we give oil companies? The big numbers that people typically throw out are the annual cost of maintenance of the Strategic Petroleum reserve, the cost of the Iraq War, or in relatively peaceful times, the cost of Persian Gulf deployment. Other items sited are so-called "below-market leases", effective corporate tax rate on industry income, etc. Bonus points… compare and contrast to corn ethanol subsidies.

Sam Grove June 30, 2007 at 2:18 pm

When the government ventures into the market, it goes on the market.

SheetWise June 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Whenever I see the term "Income distribution" I'm cautious, because the word "distribution" is interchangably used as both a verb and a noun — as it is in this article. Even when the word is used to describe an observation, it's context implies an activity — or a process.

Much like "global warming". It's easy to accept with warming as an observation — much harder to accept it as a process.

There must be a better phrase that adds clarity.

Sam Grove June 30, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Divvying up the loot?
Spreading the lucre?

Sam Grove June 30, 2007 at 11:18 pm

A common moral fallacy, that money is the root of all evil stems from an abreviated mal-interpretation of scripture. In the original latin, seven sins were counted, among them avarice. Most people like to forget the rest, among them envy.

One of the favored strategies of the left in its perpetual and predictable attacks on "big business", 'corporate power", etc., is to appeal to the envy in the little people.

Along with the left, it can be discovered from reading Jane Austin novels, among many other sources, that there is another group that expresses disdain for those who make money through commercial endeavors, nobility and its descendents.

Yes those who gained positions of nobility through conquest and slaughter have a certain contempt for those who acquired wealth through the honest endeavor of producing goods and services for people

It is so easy when tossing around labels such as "corporations", to forget what is actually being referred to. A corporation, like any corporate entity is only a manifestation of the activities of humans.

Business people carry a huge responsibility.
Not only do they have their own bills to pay, but they are responsible for the payroll of those they employ to produce goods and services.

When we consider the wealthy, let us remember that they too are imbued with an instinct for survival and consider their concern about what happened to the wealthy after the communist revolution.

I expect it is a rare person indeed whose ONLY concern is money.

As for this statement And never has economic power existed uncorrupted or with out corrupting political power., it is simply misworded. A more appropriate wording is this:

And never has political power existed uncorrupted or without corrupting economic power.

I don't know how people manage to gloss over the moral nature of political power. Perhaps the world is too complicated for many to discern easily and we need to simplify thusly:

Put two men on an island. One has bundles of money (or any measure of wealth )and the other has a loaded gun.

Which one has the power?

Setting aside moral considerations, will the rich man buy the gun or will the armed man seize the money?

M. Hodak June 30, 2007 at 11:19 pm

"The denial that economic power is capable of suppression of freedoms and liberties is against all the facts of history."

This is not a logical response to my comment. I will lay it out more clearly

- Economic power CAN grow out of voluntary exchange
- Political power NECESSARILY implies suppresion of liberty

For you to say that I'm denying that economic power CAN suppress liberty is simply wrong. Of course economic power CAN suppress liberty as well as preserve it. Then, for you to say, "Never has economic power existed … with out corrupting political power," actually makes my point that political power should be the focus of limits.

I think this point has been repeated enough in subsequent posts, but a discussion is more fruitful if it progresses in a logical fashion.

muirgeo July 1, 2007 at 1:51 am

OK guys then lets say we've significantly castrated the government that all it can do is provide for defense and provide courts. I assume we would get to that point through constitutional amendments as no one as still yet to expound on what they mean by "limiting" the power of government.

All I can imagine is that wealth would concentrate and concentrate until a few people owned most of the land and roads. Labor would be diluted out and family incomes would fall. Children would again go back to work to help compensate for their falling family incomes. The environment would certainly run afoul with pollution. I'm pretty sure our country would look more like Mexico and Brazil and the shanty towns would blossom. Explain to me how this would not happen in your world? But I guess the government wouldn't be holding a gun to your head like they so obviously do now in ours and every other developed mixed economy.

I don't get it.

Brad July 1, 2007 at 2:39 am

muirgeo, What we don't get is your strawman. The letter by Professor Rizo said nothing of castrating the government. It said that increasing income inequality was not a concern that required redistributive government action.

Let me put it this way… If everything goes to hell as you describe, then there will be millions of angry people who purchased iPhones this week for half a large. Because not only will the network that their on be slow, it won't work. And they'll still have the remaining two years on their contracts. Trust me, there are a lot of hard working kids buying these toys. I saw one guy trade a shrinkwrapped iPhone for a really cool (and rare) pair of sneakers today. We are indeed a very wealthy society with many obvious symbols of wealth within reach of anyone who strives for them. Make sense?

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 2:48 am

All I can imagine is that wealth would concentrate and concentrate until a few people owned most of the land and roads.

You've got the process backwards.

Historically, people didn't get rich then buy the government, they established their government (through conquest), then got rich.

It was capitalism, particularly as it emerged in the 'west', in concert with the industrial revolution, that brought the masses out of serfdom.

I sincerely suggest that you make some effort to develop greater awareness of the philosophical roots of your political thought.

Although you declaim any affinity with Marxism, you should consider that in the first half of the past century, socialism and communism were very popular fads in the intellectual and educational communities of the U.S. and Europe. Many, many students learned from their teachers the glories of centrally planned economies, ect., and the evils of capitalism.

Many of the constructs from Marxist thought became axioms of the left and have diffused throughout society.

Consider another social artifact.

The Queen of England is much beloved. And we have many stories of the glories of kings and noblemen. Oh, to be a prince or princess.

Well the Queen is no more than a descendent of brutal conquerers.
How does it come to pass that a people grow to love those that invaded, slaughtered and conquered their ancestors?

Those people you are worried about running the world? The government isn't there to protect us from them, it's there to protect them from us.

Lee Kelly July 1, 2007 at 8:25 am

"All I can imagine is that wealth would concentrate and concentrate until a few people owned most of the land and roads."

That is a failure of your imagination, not the freemarket. If the freemarket functioned like the board game, Monopoly, then I might share similar fears, but fortunately the freemarket is nothing like that.

In a freemarket, relative wealth will sometimes concentrate, and somtimes diffuse. No business, no matter how successful today, is immune. Indeed, think how Montgomery Ward were overtaken by the small upstart Sears in the 20th Century. Take a look at the "Rich Lists" over decades and notice how many names change.

That's just the ordinary function of the market. The only time I can think when a few men truly owned everything, could charge whatever they wanted without fearing entrepreneurs, and actually owned the people, were governments, in Russia and China specifically.

"Labor would be diluted out and family incomes would fall. Children would again go back to work to help compensate for their falling family incomes."

None of this follows, even if some small group of people truly owned all the land, in a free market this would still not occur, unless somehow the government was protecting those people from competition.

As long as people own their minds and bodies, they have something to offer, and someone will buy what they are offering, so long as the priceis agree by both parties to be mutually beneficial. In a freemarket, these big businesses would still have to buy those services, and people would then be able to use that money to buy other things, maybe even land, where that land was less valuable to the owner than the money they wanted to exchange.

Luckily, none of that will occur anyway, since competition, and constraints such as diseconomies of scale, always cap the march of these megabusiness, except of course, where they are protected by government legislation.

"The environment would certainly run afoul with pollution."

Pollution is characteristic of a "tragedy of the commons" situation, but is rare in a freemarket, since people who own land are not fond of ruining it. Many areas where such a situation persists will be brought inline by new technology.

The environment suffers worse where nobody owns or can profit from land, since they have little incentive to keep the land good and habitable. The resources are just depleated until there is nothing left. For example, contrast public gardens with homeowner's gardens. Often the former and ruined and go into disrepair, whereas the latter are maintained, if not improved since otherwise the value of the land would drop.

"I don't get it."

No, you certainly do not "get it." I suggest you read a book on economics, I suggest Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell, easy read, very interesting. Incidently, that's where I got the Montgomery Ward and Sears example from, though more detail in the book.

Would you make similar grand predictions about the events inside a black hole without first learning something about physics? I think not.

muirgeo July 1, 2007 at 9:45 am

Make sense?

Posted by: Brad

No, not at all. I addressed the libertarian world view and you came back and explained to me everyone has an iPhone. Well yeah but we don't have the castrated government everyone keeps telling me about. I don't think there would be iPhones in such a world because very few people could afford them. It is the mixed economy that they evolved in where a strong middle class exist.

And if you had a bunch a angry people what could they do? They couldn't redress their castrated government. Maybe they could remember 1776 and we could repeat history and start over. So no you made no sense. I don't see what my straw man is. I simply don't understand how you don't get increasing concentrations of wealth in the libertarian society.

aynn ryann July 1, 2007 at 10:00 am

"I saw one guy trade a shrinkwrapped iPhone for a really cool (and rare) pair of sneakers today. We are indeed a very wealthy society with many obvious symbols of wealth within reach of anyone who strives for them. Make sense"

Me thinks we have more symbols that wealth: see subprime meltdown, mark to market, mark to model ect.

aynn ryann July 1, 2007 at 10:19 am

"I saw one guy trade a shrinkwrapped iPhone for a really cool (and rare) pair of sneakers today. We are indeed a very wealthy society with many obvious symbols of wealth within reach of anyone who strives for them. Make sense"

Me thinks we have more symbols that wealth: see subprime meltdown, mark to market, mark to model ect.

muirgeo July 1, 2007 at 10:19 am

You guys keep using examples of how things work out in our mixed economy substituting it for a "free market" economy. WE DON'T HAVE a free market economy. All those examples of success you like to point to are for ME to use as examples of the success of a mixed economy.

We can talk about relative free markets. And since Reagan and his generalized deregulation we have seen the very marked increased concentration of wealth just as I would predict. Now lets get rid of the estate tax and have a flat tax, and further deregulate. Do you really think that won't lead to greater concentrations of wealth. You all will be serfing for Queen Paris of Hilton in no time.

The free market economies I can think of resulted in Kings and serfs. Or when media and corporations became controlled by corrupted government you got Mussolini, Hitler and Lenin. I using a benign scenario were we assume the massive wealth created in your free markets some how isn't allowed to corrupt officials. During the turn of the century in America we were much closer to a free market economy and then the middle class was week, poverty was high and old people froze or starved to death in their homes. Eventually it lead to The Great Depression.

David P. Graf July 1, 2007 at 12:38 pm

While reading the comments in this discussion, the thought that keeps coming to my mind is what do you do when the free market doesn't work. When the workings of a free market are frustrated in one way or another, how do you correct the situation?

Like John Adams I also think that history shows us that when "economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny." That's why I think we do wrong to ignore concentrations of economic power.

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 12:44 pm

The free market economies I can think of resulted in Kings and serfs.

Excuse me? What free markets are you talking about?
Those weren't free economies.
Those were products of conquest.
Markets are a product of trade.

During the turn of the century in America we were much closer to a free market economy and then the middle class was week, poverty was high and old people froze or starved to death in their homes. Eventually it lead to The Great Depression.

Now you really don't know what you are talking about. In 1913, the Federal Reserve Board was created, (at the instigation of bankers), to prevent depressions by managing the money supply. The great depression accurred 16 years later.

It was the inflation caused by the FED which created the bubble preceding the depression. The run which began the FED fisrts occurred at a Jewish owned bank. It is thought that anti-semitism was the reason for other banks failing to step in with cash to meet the demands of customers.
After the crash, the FED severly contracted the money supply. That and other actions by the government, such as the Smoot-Hawley tarif, price controls, and FDR's "soak the rich" policies prolonged the depression into the GREAT depression.

The U.S. may have been closer to a free market relatively speaking, at that time, but all the turmoil was marked by the ever increasing size and power of the federal government. This process had been occurring for some time, but a large impetus for that growth was the civil war.

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 1:42 pm

I haven't yet read this book by Murray Roghbard on the Great Depression, but I understand it is an incisive examination of that phenomenon and its causes.

……………….

Muirgeo, this is a test:

What is the cause of inflation?

Brad July 1, 2007 at 2:05 pm

muirgeo, The topic at hand is Professor Rizzo's letter, not utopian libertarian society. Flame baiting is less obvious when you stick to the topic at hand ;-) . In other words, your strawman is this utopia you're rallying against — and we're not discussing it.

aynn_ryan…15 years ago, there would be news stories about kids plunking down a few hundred on a pair of sneakers and it would provoke universal outrage. Today, kids (primarily 20-29, but some as old as 40ish) come to shows like the dunkxchange (where I was yesterday) by the hundreds, and they spend hundreds of dollars on rare shoes. It's a fun scene and a good time, and it only works because on the whole, despite the downsides of free trade (which is why Summers, et al suggested redistributing wealth to prop up support for free trade, and what Prof Rizzo was writing against)… despite those downsides, many many many new entrants to our economy can afford superfluous things like touch screen phones and fashionable sneakers. Sub-prime loan problem? I'm sorry, but did the government eat that somehow? Was the governmental response not very reserved? Do you think it's bad that poor people have access to credit? More personally, have you ever known someone whose financial ass was saved by a sub-prime loan? I know several. Funny we don't hear that side of the story much.

Finally, to all the detractors here… Professor Rizzo was responding to Summers' proposal to redistribute wealth to prop up support for free trade. While to all fair, er empty, minded people, Summers' proposal sounds like a no brainer, the devil surely lies in the details. We have no "wealth tax" at the national level, save for the death tax. Taxing corporate earnings just makes American companies less attractive investments than their foreign counterparts. Taxing capital gains takes money out of the market. Making income taxes more progressive just screws the upper middle class, i.e people making $80K – $150K per year, because that's where the sweet spot is. You're not getting even with Steve Jobs (who made $1 in income from his day job at Apple last year and gets no raise this year). You're not getting even with Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer. You're getting even with the kid who got A's in school, got his degree on time, and went on to become a doctor. You're getting even with the family that started a popular local restaurant and expanded to a small regional chain. You're getting even with your real estate agent. Why? Because according to Summers, if the C students can't be involved in piecing together a $3000 iPhone, they won't support people's right to buy one at $500 nor will they support the downward pressure on prices of lesser devices.

skh.pcola July 1, 2007 at 2:15 pm

I also disagree with the idea that free markets tend to exacerbate wealth concentration. Indeed, free markets enrich everybody who (freely) participates.

Using a large flea market as an analogue for a free market, where buyers and sellers have strong bargaining power, how can we possibly make the logical leap that some group of "wealthy" sellers will continue to amass a larger and larger portion of the wealth? Further, muirgeo implies that "wealth" is a static, finite number. That isn't so.

Even in our mixed economy, all participants are better off than they would be in either a command economy or a ___________ (whatever).

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Well, it appears that Muirgeo is strongly attached to a Marxist tainted view of economics and politics.

In this view,

money making is inherently suspect and political ambition is given much leeway.

all means of accumulating wealth are equally suspect.

through the magic of the vote, the people, are in control of the government.

if only we could get the right people in office, things would work out OK.

there are only two sides. 'Our' side is right, the other side is wrong.

and so on…

muirgeo July 1, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Muirgeo, this is a test:

What is the cause of inflation?

Without looking anything up I'd say, expansion of the money supply, rapid economic growth and decreasing interest rates.

muirgeo July 1, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Sam,

When you have to pull out the "marxist" accusations thats when you know you are not winning the debate.

And my solution IS NOT one sided. By cutting the money influence in politics you clean up the corporations, and the politicians. Further you put the power in the hands of the people.

The fact is I'm not a Marxist but you really do fear democracy and a government run by the people.

Again I have NO problem with people becoming wealthy. What I, like so many of our founding fathers and subsequent great leaders, do not want is wealth becoming so concentrated that it uses its wealth and power to undermine democracy, markets and our countries best interest.

Call me a Marxist but I've quotes from Paine, Jefferson,Hamilton, Jackson, Lincoln, the Roosevelt's, Truman, Kennedy and more that warn against exactly these concentrations of wealth.

You arguments wouldn't hold a chance when fairly presented against these past great leaders to the American people. When you call Lincoln a "suspect source" you've truly jumped the shark.

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 8:52 pm

By cutting the money influence in politics you clean up the corporations, and the politicians.

A pleasing theory, but impossible to effect.

I didn't say you were a Marxist, I don't even think you are a Marxist, that is a quite specific term with a specific meaning. However, the reality is that Marx had a philosophical imact upon the intellectuals in the West which has affected the attitudes of many today.
One of the manifestations of this affect is the popular, axiomatic, sentiment against corporations,…as a genre. You have exhibited this sentiment numerous times; you simply are not aware of its origins.

Next you may assume that I'm all for corporations. Not so. I'm indifferent to corporations, as a class, and I oppose any political favoritism by the government towards them. And perhaps corporate law should be repealed, I don't know, it's not high on my priority list.

I don't know why you think human nature can be overturned by increased regulation.

There is no way that you can cut
the money influence from politics as long as the government has the power to control lots of money.

How do you propose to accomplish such a thing? I don't mean broad expressions such as "make it illegal". That's likely to be as effective as making immigration illegal.

When politicians propose to regulating business, business will endeavor to affect the writing and implementation of those regulations.

You might try thinking of government as a big corporation, which it actually is. The more government controls business, the closer and closer they become.

What you propose will only increase the corruption and make it more difficult for people to discern.

Look how the war on drugs has worked. The harder the government tries to control illicit drugs, the greater the corruption, of government, and of society.

I'm sorry you've gotten backed up about all this, but you, like others who have appeared in forums such as this, are not here to learn why we believe as we do, but to tell us how mistaken we are.

Your resistance has increased to the point of invlunerability and your intransigence with regard to, your refusal to even acknowledge, points by raised by libertarians here on the real nature of political power is a source of great frustration.

You believe that money is the corrupting influence. We believe political power is the corrupting influence.

Your refusal to see any problem with giving some people the power to point guns at otherwise peaceable people paints you as, not a Marxist, but rather, a statist. And the statist always stands at the brink of fascism, for when a little regulation doesn't work, he always goes for more, until everything is regulated, the government is all-powerful, and freedom is outlawed.

There is no love at the end of your road, only fear.

It is indeed fortunate that many people, though they aren't clear why, are reluctant to travel far down that road.

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 8:58 pm

When you call Lincoln a "suspect source" you've truly jumped the shark.

No doubt you agree with his suspension of habeas corpus and the throwing of critics in jail, oh yes, and the military draft thing as well.

You stand revealed.

Sam Grove July 1, 2007 at 10:11 pm

I'm puzzled, though, as to why you hate Bush. Maybe he needs to effect a few hundred thousand more death for you to add him to the canon of great political leaders.

I bet most of your great leaders presided over wars of significance, resulting in the deaths of many thousands of people.

muirgeo July 2, 2007 at 2:28 am

Sam,

We might be getting way off topic but I love a good philosophical discussion. Besides why let a thread die just to stay on topic.

On corporations…I'm NOT against them. I think they, small business and capitalism are the best economic system going. But capitalism is an economic system NOT a form of government. We have a democratic form of government that supersedes capitalism and business interest. The purpose of business is to serve the people and its government not the other way around. And I can say that because business DOES NOT EXIST outside a government. Business interest as well as environmental organizations and other special interest groups need to be separated from politics. The politicians are there to represent THE PEOPLE first and foremost. That's NOT happening now. I agree such a separation has never occurred but that doesn't make it impossible.

I simply disagree that the government and regulation is the primary problem. Cut off a politicians ties to business money with strict enforcement and then they will be responsible to the people who elected them not the monied corporate interest. In a proper situation with out the backing of corporate dollars incumbents would not be so snug and would be easy to oust from office if they didn't represent the people well.

You said that giving people the power leads to fascism. That's an amazing statement because I believe it's the best way to prevent fascism is to give the people the power. On Sean Hannity tonight he spoke about Hillary and her Senior thesis. Mostly it was about a guy named Saul D. Alinsky. He basically summarized the issue of politics. He said there ar e2 ways to get elected. One with the support of the people or two with the support of people with money. I thought that was profound and simple.

Now let me use that to lead into the next post on why I hate Bush because it amazes me that anyone who is concerned with fascism and people pointing guns at you and who IS presumably paying attention DOESN'T hate Bush.

muirgeo July 2, 2007 at 3:17 am

Why I hate Bush,

He absolutely lied us into war, he totally mis-handled the war, he has allowed rampant war-profiteering, he's allowed a private militia headed by a religious fanatic to grow to dangerous size, he's abused and taken advantage of people of faith, he has used 9-11 to concentrate his power by playing on peoples fears, he absolutely broke the law with regards to illegal wire tapping of our phones, he has disgraced our country by ignoring the Geneva conventions and condoning torture, he allowed Ken Lay to select FERC commissioners, he allowed California to be burned by the energy companies, he/ Dick held the committee to form our energy policy in private, Bush has been the most secretive administration ever, he ousted a CIA agent responsible for investigating nuclear terrorist threats, his administration suppresses dissenters, he ignores scientific experts, he puts corporate representatives in charge of the governmental agencies that regulate those very industries, he had the nerve to mislead people with programs names like Clear Skies and y Forest, he has had brazen disregard for the constitution, he has used signing statements to exempt himself as being above all laws that congress passes, he has used the judiciary for political purposes when firing attorney generals, he has busted our budget to benefit of the wealthiest, he has instituted one policy after another to transfer greater wealth to the top 1% of earners, he's insulated himself from the press, he has divided our country like never before, he's an elitist born into power who would NEVER have been their were it not for his father, he's ran some of the most despicable smear campaigns while running for office against McCain and Kerry true heros while he was indeed AWOL during his national guard period, he is unpatriotic putting his friends and donors before his country, he didn't even win the first election cronyism and connections in Florida got him in, Bush had no concern about terrorist attacks on the U.S. before 9/11/01, Bush wholeheartedly supported the infamous "Patriot Act," which infringes on most of your constitutional rights,Bush banned federal aid to any international group offering abortions or abortion counseling, he's against stem cell research, the ridiculous Terry Shivo incident, Bush destroyed FEMA, he was inept on Hurricane Katrina, He's ignored New Orleans, He's outsourced all sorts of government jobs, he's shown no leadership on oil independence or global warming……..in short he is precisely the worst case example of power and money interest and an incredibly corrupt president destroying our democracy and our liberties to the benefit of a few elite wealthy individuals and he has knocked our country back many years and put us on the brink of economic collapse.

There's actually a lot more. Have you ever read a book by one of his critics? I strongly suggest Al Gores The Assault on Reason. But other books that I've read that contribute to my feelings for this jack ass include Without Precedent by Thomas Kean, It Can Happen Here by Joe Conason, Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke, Intelligence Matters by Bob Graham, Screwed by Thom Hartmann and Target Iran by Scott Ritter. Also recommend the Movie Iraq for Sale and watching NOW on PBS

Sam Grove July 2, 2007 at 3:37 am

I simply disagree that the government and regulation is the primary problem

The problem is human nature. I agree that power should lie with people, I just don't think it should be concentrated in the hands of some people. The tamptation to do good with poltical power is just as much a problem as the temptation to do ill with political power.

Political government is hierarchical.
Power is concentrated towards the top, not to the bottom.
Political power relies upon fear to accomplish its deeds.
Fear corrupts at both ends. It corrupts those that wield power and those that are subject to it.

I don't hate Bush, per se, because it's the system that gave us Bush and annointed him with the power that he has so ill used.
There's no point in hating any particular person in positions of power because even if you get rid of one bad egg, there will always be another, possibly even worse than the other one.

Until you grasp the moral nature of political power, you will always have hope that "if only we can get the right people in office".

Well, even if you manage to find the right people and get them in office, what will happen after they leave office? And even if they seem like the right people at the beginning, there's a good chance of them going astray. There's many a conservative dismayed at what's become of the GOP. They thought they got the right people in office, and look what we've got: warmongering, money spending neocons, the worst of both worlds.

I'm telling you, the system is inherently flawed. Power hierarchies have a nature, and that nature is a manifestation of the animal nature of humans. People fear death and pain…and loss of freedom, and that is exactly the means by which power hierarchies are maintained, through the threat of pain, death, and loss of freedom.

Consider this, how many corporations do you suppose have given money to help the libertarian party get into power to get rid of government's regulatory power?

You betcha, most of them give money to the parties that promise to regulate them.

Keith July 2, 2007 at 8:46 am

Qoute from Muirgeo: "The fact is I'm not a Marxist but you really do fear democracy and a government run by the people."

You finally said something correct. But the simple fact that a majority of people think something is right, doesn't make it correct.

What's the difference between being robbed and assaulted by one person and being robbed and assaulted by 51% of my fellow citizens? In the latter case you call it democracy.

methinks July 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

"I'm not a Marxist!"

A cat stands up in the middle of the room and proclaims "I am not a cat, I am a unicorn".

BTW, who left the bold type on?

skh.pcola July 2, 2007 at 10:32 am

muirgeo, there are so many lies and misrepresentations in your "Why I hate George Bush" screed, that a cogent reply is impossible. Just remember the take-away here is the lies. You've got 'em, and I ain't buying 'em.

methinks July 2, 2007 at 10:42 am

Muirgeo has melted down into an anti-Bush raving diatribe on nearly every single thread, Skh.pcola.

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