Friction can be a drag

In the interests of free speech…just make it interesting

Colombian DAS wiretap scandal: what we can look forward to in the UK

with 148 comments

Read this story and weap all you who think that the state is out to help:BBC wiretap story

If you think it can’t happen, it can.
If you think it won’t happen, it will.

Once we drive the criminals off the street, they will all be found in the police force, using the law against you.

Bring on the id cards, retinal scans, gps trackers, dna database, phone and internet records, drug tests, and psychological profling. Bring on the happy world, without criminals.

Naive scum, deserve what you get.

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Written by rexinfinite

February 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm

148 Responses

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  1. I don’t get it Rex.
    Are you saying we should have none of these things? Should we have no security measures at all? Should we stop fingerprinting?
    Pray enlighten us with your new approach to law & order…

    jackshaftoe

    February 24, 2009 at 10:48 am

  2. Like I said, you’ll deserve what you get. I guess you’ve never done anything that others consider criminal? use marijuana? speed? you’re more than confident the law is on your side? Or that somehow as long as it’s someone else who is suffering an abuse of the law it’s alright? Typical middle class sentiments actually. Abuse and tragedy only happens to others, until it happens to you, then you cry to high heaven.

    rexinfinite

    February 24, 2009 at 5:15 pm

  3. easy now! I’m just asking what you propose instead? Freeze security development now? Regress it?

    jackshaftoe

    February 24, 2009 at 9:07 pm

  4. I believe security should be applied with weight, force, and focus specifically after a crime has been committed, and only in regards to those to whom judges approve as suspects.

    In other words, I want the system to improve, but the means by which the system is used to be strengthened.

    So do all the things mentioned, but only for suspects, and then clear that information when someone is no longer a suspect.

    No one has ever taken my finger prints, no one has my dna, no one is tracking my mobile phone, and no one has a right to the records of my mobile phone. But all that privacy is being erroded.

    Now some local council twit can look at my internet and phone records!

    Soon my dna, finger prints, and iris scan will be default held on storage.

    CCTV coverage is already excessive. I think it is valuable in specific high crime zones.

    I agree with obvious speed cameras in dangerous places.

    What I don’t agree with is tracking your car via gps on a constant basis and assigning you a ticket when it’s clear you’ve been speeding. Something that will happen sooner than later.

    So the ideal for me is an onus on after the fact capture, supervised by credible judges, because what we are evolving into is a large prison complex, in which you are only as free as your acts don’t deviate against the state, and whoever that is in the state.

    When you see the abuses of the laws as applied in this country, it’s clear it will only get worse.

    It’s not about the method itself, it’s about when it begins to apply to you as a free individual in society.

    rexinfinite

    February 25, 2009 at 10:25 am

  5. It is a very tricky problem indeed. Trying to maintain levels of security/law and respect the rights of the individual seems to be the crux of why politics is so difficult.
    There are no easy solutions.
    We may veer towards a dangerous place for a while but I’m confident that it won’t tip over the edge. I may be wrong.

    jackshaftoe

    February 28, 2009 at 10:26 am

    • Actually it’s not all that tricky. People hide behind that to do things which are quite obviously wrong.

      I take it you are happy the police can now harrass you, threaten you with arrest, and take your materials if you film them?

      And before you say it’s only in the case that it can be used by terrorists, it won’t be used that way. Ask the old man thrown out of a conference for heckling.

      My brother was harrassed and threatened with arrest, and finally erased some footage he took of some cops chasing people making bubbles in trafalgar square. For him it was funny, and ridiculous, but they scared him into giving up his observations.

      Rodney King footage would have been confiscated as creating the potential for riots, the people filming thrown in jail….

      Don’t give me shit about balance and difficult yada yada ya… If it smells like shit, it is.

      And Don’t think twice you always say we have more cameras than the cops, looks like they realised it too.

      rexinfinite

      February 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm

  6. Of course its tricky.
    If its so easy, get off your arse, get involved in politics and do something to change it.
    What is easy is sitting on your couch criticising the way that everything is done.

    jackshaftoe

    March 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

  7. Disarming law-abiding citizens and tһe resulting necessity to cede all responsibility for defending private property һas been one of tһe greatest assaults on freedom.
    Tһe public consciousness һas been altered and people no longer appreciate tһe fundamental underpinnings of freedom itself.
    Wһicһ is wһy so many will accept tһe continued erosions of tһeir personal freedom, so long as tһey are not breaking tһe law wһy sһould it botһer tһem?
    Tһis apatһy is wһat is so scary.

    gipperfan

    March 1, 2009 at 10:40 pm

  8. LOL…yet another example of naive laissez-faire liberalism continuing to haunt us on all sides….’individual freedom of choice, limited central authority, free-market economics’…why have we not got over this idiotic notion yet?…even as the system and its values manifestly eat themselves for breakfast, lunch and dinner….there are still so many defenders out there, even on this blog. Liberalism is evil!

    tree2one

    March 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    • @Jackshaftoe that was a lame, cliche attempt at a response. So instead of dealing with the issue of the now illegality of filming police officers, something I am sure even shocked you, instead you attack me personally and suggest I should try to change the system. Well, if I see something I can do, I’ll do it. For now, the best I can do is observe it, and trust me, I don’t like that fact. But this is a place for observations, so don’t turn around and say it’s suddenly a place to make commitments to enacting policy changes.

      @tree3one So now attacking liberalism? Because communism did so much better? The fact is that the current economic environment can’t be blamed on liberalism, because even under liberalism there is a decent amount of oversight, and there are no bail outs, even of financial giants. Knowing that, they wouldn’t have got into the mess they are in, which is basically just out right theft. And it is clearly important to be able to defend yourself, because who trusts the state?

      Oh, I forgot, countries like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and Communist China, with the largest most overweight governments are utopias.

      rexinfinite

      March 2, 2009 at 3:42 pm

  9. Rex: It wasn’t attacking you. Don’t be so sensitive. It was attacking every armchair politician who seem to think they have all the answers and assuming that all those people who decided to dedicate their lives to politics are idiots who want to do the wrong thing.

    I await gipperfan…

    jackshaftoe

    March 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  10. “there are still so many defenders out there, even on this blog.”
    Egads!!! Out them, out them now.

    Rex is spot on for me, but Jack please show me one person who has dedicated their life to politics who still retains any principles at all.
    Find me one politician who thinks it is their job to limit their intrusion into our lives? Bullshit they do, all they want to do is climb the ladder (like anyone else) and the sole purpose of being a politician is to make more laws.

    gipperfan

    March 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

  11. I’m sure my list would irritate you! But it would be nonsense anyway. As would anyones list.
    You are really largely unable to judge whether politicians do or do not have principles.
    As they are unable to do with you.
    There are way too many unknowns. Especially when you have the confusion of the media as your middle man.
    None of us can ever really know fuck all about politics until we know politicians who are telling us EXACTLY what is really happening (i.e. the complexities of your job multiplied imeasureably).
    We don’t really understand the job of the person on the next desk to us but we will happily say that he/she doesn’t know what theyre doing!
    And we do it with something as complicated as politics. Many doctors/teachers/lawyers I have met find it difficult to maintain of the original desire they had to do the right thing yet we wouldn’t think to criticise.
    All I am saying is that we all really understand the poitiical system about as well as we understand the lymph system.
    Give the politicians a break!

    jackshaftoe

    March 2, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  12. but I am very worried about the erosion of the freedom of the individual…and at the same time want it to be controlled even more!

    jackshaftoe

    March 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

  13. It’s not complicated, you are buying into the faulty bill of goods that they are desperate to sell you.
    Leave to us, we’re the only people who can understand, you’re just the little people and you need us to tell you what is best for you.
    Take all these bailouts and phony stimulus packages.
    You can boil the solution down to one simple premise – tax it and you get less, subsidise and you get more.

    gipperfan

    March 2, 2009 at 5:24 pm

  14. Gipperfan your world view is laughable:

    ‘Leave to us, we’re the only people who can understand, you’re just the little people and you need us to tell you what is best for you.’ – this sounds like a teenage characterisation of the authority, you don’t seriously think that MPs think like this? – this is the view from the Lords not the Commons!

    More importantly, your ‘simple solution’:
    ‘tax it and you get less, subsidise and you get more.’ – is the way to exacerbate the growing income inequality which is poisoning us.

    tree2one

    March 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm

  15. I am not a slave, I was not born in servitude.
    I do not exist to work to support people who choose not to support themselves.
    Most importantly I do not serve any government, my government serves me and I do not believe that they have the right to forcibly take the fruits of my labour and give it to someone else.
    If this is how you wish to live your life then that is your choice (give charitably), but I do not believe you have the right to enforce that choice on me.
    Your view, which I think was summarised by someone else a few years ago “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, did not result in the utopian “social justice” that you wish for, it led to misery and death on an unimaginable scale – I am glad you find my opinions funny, I do not share the same view of yours. I value each and every human life.

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm

  16. I can hear the rousing lyrics of Rule Britannia in the background – “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”. What about those who are born into servitude or disadvantage – do they not deserve some of your fruits?
    As for my view, I think that you and Rex have jumped to conclusions on that front.

    tree2one

    March 3, 2009 at 3:21 pm

  17. Those born into servitude deserve to be lifted out of it, how will they be better off by forcing me to join them?

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm

  18. How does sharing some of your fruit with others constitute servitude?

    tree2one

    March 3, 2009 at 3:40 pm

  19. I love this attitude, it’s all about making yourself feel better, no concern at all about the results.

    Take from the achievers rather than do something to raise others up.
    If we’re all reduced to the same level of misery then at least we don’t have to live with other people having more.
    Other people will always have more, more talent, more ambition, more willingness to sacrifice for their dreams.
    There is no level playing field and wishing will not make it so.
    But instead of aspiring to be an achiever we say, they have more than enough give some to me.

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  20. I’m interested in results. How do you propose we lift others without helping them financially? Help has a cost, you seem to appreciate the value of money, so who pays and how? Talent and ambition aren’t innate, they need practice and nurturing. As for willingness to sacrifice…go tell it to the ghetto.
    Who are you ‘achieving’ for? – Yourself; you and yours; you, yours and theirs??? Where do you draw the line around the benefits of your wonderful achievements?

    tree2one

    March 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  21. Well for one, you do not make attempt to make poverty just bearable enough so that people lose the desire to escape from it.
    This itself is akin to slavery.

    We have been throwing redistributed money at the problem for most of this century, tell me please how is that policy working out?

    Where do I draw the line?
    I will share when I choose, with whom I choose and if I choose.
    Another question for you, because you are going to take that statement as supreme selfishness, does it make you a better person if you are forced to share?

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 4:39 pm

  22. *Should read – most of A century, not THIS* Duh!

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

  23. 🙂

    jackshaftoe

    March 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

  24. the benefits of wealth distribution are too long to mention

    tree2one

    March 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

  25. ah, go on!

    jackshaftoe

    March 3, 2009 at 6:12 pm

  26. Pass me the kool-aid.

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 6:17 pm

  27. Aside from the obvious benefits of wealth distribution, have you considered the negative costs of pulling the plug on this system – health, crime, social stuff?

    tree2one

    March 3, 2009 at 10:14 pm

  28. I do not accept that there are obvious and too numerous-to-mention benefits to wealth redistribution.
    I do not accept that there are any benefits to state imposed wealth redistribution.

    gipperfan

    March 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm

  29. OK (sigh), here we go then >

    Going back to biblical times and beyond there have been protests about the concentration of wealth. It thus seems that there might be some underlying reasons why this remains a popular idea.

    People have an innate sense of what is fair as many psychological experiments have demonstrated. There are always exceptions to rules and maybe in this case you are it. For most, the intrinsic sense of fairness involves a basic concept of economic equality.

    Having a population with gross inequalities of wealth causes economic inefficiencies. For example, if too many people are too poor there will be limited markets for the output of industry and agriculture. This will limit the growth potential of the economy.

    Excessive wealth produces waste as the rich spend there money on items which are economically inefficient. When societies get too out of balance social unrest increases. In the most extreme cases this leads to civil disturbance and crime (or even revolution!). This resentment against the wealthy may lead to their death or banishment and the forcible taking of their property. Even where rebellion doesn’t succeed the damage to the society may be severe and long lasting.

    Some of the republics of South and Central America are good examples of why we should distribute wealth. For hundreds of years a small ruling oligarchy has run things. Things are even pretty good for these people. However, the societies as a whole have not prospered. They have been subject to continual poverty and revolution and much of the development that has taken place is in the hands of foreign investors. The wealth of the few has been maintained at a high cost to the majority.

    The concentration of wealth in a small group allows for anti-democratic influence of social policy. The wealthy have the ability to create their own “think tanks” used to create the perception that the public is in support of their self-serving objectives. When such vast amounts of money are under the control of a tiny group the basic mechanisms of democracy are undermined.

    When the wealth asets of a society gets sufficiently unbalanced they cease to be valuable. During the French revolution most of the furniture in the estates was looted and much of it was used for firewood. It had no value in a peasant’s home. It didn’t fit, wasn’t practical, and the decorative detail was useless.

    There is no natural law of private property. It only exists as long as there is a state structure with a robust police function which can maintain the property concept.

    All the great US industries of the 19th and 20th Centuries were created by individuals with no prior wealth. Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, etc. started with essentially nothing and built huge enterprises. On the other hand the children of these entrepreneurs have not been especially noted for doing anything notable.

    tree2one

    March 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

  30. Apologies to all the other bloggers herein. This is tedious but has been forced on me. Blame Jack.

    tree2one

    March 4, 2009 at 9:38 am

  31. Back on topic here, the scandalous story of some corrupt Judges in America from the Economist. It reinforces my belief that when the law crushes crime too deeply, it is the law itself that becomes criminal… in other words, supply and demand ensure that the criminals will find safety in becoming the law….

    http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13185306

    The lowest of the low

    Feb 26th 2009 | NEW YORK
    From The Economist print edition
    Another blow against elected judges

    EARLIER this month, two judges in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County admitted sentencing thousands of children to jail in return for kickbacks from a prison-management company. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan received a commission for every day they sent a child to private juvenile detention centres run by Pennsylvania Child Care and a sister company. The pay-offs came to $2.6m over seven years.

    “It just makes me think that anyone can betray the law,” says Jamie Quinn, one of the children exploited by the judges. Ms Quinn, from Scranton, was sent to juvenile prison for nine months at 14, after slapping a friend who, she claims, slapped her first.

    Hillary Transue, who is 15 and faced Mr Ciavarella without a lawyer, was sentenced to three months because she constructed a fake MySpace page ridiculing the assistant principal at her high school. Her case led to the judges’ downfall; children have a constitutional right to a lawyer, and the case first alerted Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Juvenile Law Centre. His organisation exposed the larger crime.

    Adam Graycar, of the Rutgers Institute on Corruption Studies, explains that what is really unusual about this tale is the scale of the corruption. First the judges received monetary rewards for sanctioning the building of a new private-sector prison in their area. Second, they were paid for closing a county-funded prison nearby. And, then, of course, they offered up the “juvenile delinquents” for the benefit of the owners of the new jail. Both judges were elected, not appointed.

    The judges are going to jail, but the prison companies have so far avoided prosecution. Mr Schwartz fears this is because Robert Powell, the former co-owner of Pennsylvania Child Care, has been co-operating with the authorities. If the prisons get off, though, that will be another disgrace.

    rexinfinite

    March 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

  32. I have to agree that education, access to information, public lawyers, police officers, military and the vast array of “balancing” state efforts are crucial to a functional modern society. It cannot be left to the discretion of a family to educate children, as this disenfranchises the vast majority of children of society.

    None of this should be labeled “wealth distribution” and is not under attack by libertarians who place a high value on security and education.

    What is under attack is a charity/welfare system and a system of taxation that has a bias against those who make money and work hard, in favour of those who don’t have money and don’t work hard. Note I am not saying they are the same.

    I believe that employment insurance is a vital part of a social structure, but can be as easily provided outside the state as inside, but that at a certain point, welfare becomes an encouragement to baby production by the lowest common denominator.

    When you see three generations of welfare recipients, you know the system is breaking. And yes, it can save us from revolution, which is why I agree with a certain amount of welfare, but by that standard, the mafia protection racket is also legitimate welfare… and has a lot of similarities (helpful to immigrants, to poor working classes, and a system corrupted by elites who keep most of the money for themselves)

    rexinfinite

    March 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  33. Sorry to go straight back off subject again but you can’t brush ‘wealth disttribution’ under the carpet that easily rex. This is a real problem. UK Ministers in the current Labour government have famously found it difficult to talk about economic redistribution. Indeed, one of the distinctive features of New Labour in office has been its pursuit of ‘redistribution by stealth’. Unlike its Conservative predecessor, the Blair-Brown administration has deliberately used fiscal redistribution and labour market regulation to engineer significant improvements in the incomes of the working poor. Unlike earlier Labour governments, however, these redistributive efforts have been left largely unpublicised and have not been placed at the heart of Labour’s electoral appeals. Since Labour’s redistributive policies were introduced furtively, the government has not locked into British social policy and political culture an enduring commitment to social justice. Social policy experts and political commentators alike have consequently pointed out that, if Labour genuinely wants to tackle poverty and to shift British society in an egalitarian direction, then it will be necessary for the government to pursue more openly redistributive policies and hence to speak directly to the electorate about the justification for these initiatives.

    Yet Labour has so far struggled to find the right language to communicate its redistributive commitments. The government’s agenda for a fairer Britain proved to be less than robust when confronted with a concerted Conservative counter-attack over inheritance tax. A deeper worry is that, hovering in the background of the debate on inheritance tax here and elsewhere in the world (notably the USA), lurks a broader right-wing agenda aimed at abolishing the progressive taxation of income and wealth altogether and replacing it with a flat tax.

    tree2one

    March 4, 2009 at 4:00 pm

  34. Rex, I don’t really understand your idea that ‘the law crushes crime too deeply’. Can you elaborate?

    tree2one

    March 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    • @ wealth redistribution

      This is where you start to sound like a communist.

      Erradication of poverty is a misnomer. There is no equality of wealth. There must be, however, equality of opportunity.

      Basic food, basic health, and full education and full security are the prime responsibilities of government.

      Passing money from the rich to the poor actually only makes the middle man rich. that’s why the biggest beneficiaries of this stealth redistribution of wealth aren’t the poor, it’s the civil service- departments which can grow astronomically and have no adequate way to measure value, and which actually do not increase the wealth of a nation, they only distribute wealth made by others, who then are disincentivised to create wealth at ALL.

      The problem with you, tree, is that you fall into the communist idea that all you have to do to create wealth is take it from someone who has it.

      I completely agree with Gipperfan, F OFF and leave my shit alone.

      I’ll invest in roads, I’ll invest in schools, I’ll be happy if people aren’t starving in the street, and yes please, help people get new jobs. But otherwise, stop imagining that my hard work, my intelligence, and my effort is somehow OWED to you, your currupt group of middle managers, and all in the name of the poor, who will, as every lottery winners shows, remain poor despite your best efforts.

      So give it up. It doesn’t work, and it can’t work.

      The socialist balance struck by societies such as Britain and Canada, with a welfare system and a nationalised health care are important balances between individuality and community (and are hardly unique- kings of old used to provide in charity), but the communist system only creates a new class of wealthy, those who rob from the rich to give to the poor and keep it all for administrative purposes, whilst ensuring the poor remain a cause celebre, and the rich are victimised for their success.

      Really, leave my money alone. I am proud to pay my taxes, but when you take it too far, you are just a theif, and this labour government is a criminal government the way they have squandered our wealth on irrelevant unproductive middle managers.

      @ criminality finding it’s way into the legal system.

      The point is, the black market, and crime, will always exist. By default it cannot be erradicated. I hazard a guess that for all the CCTV cameras in operation in the UK, the crime rate in Canada is still more healthy.

      The point is, that when the system of justice takes on too much responsibility and power, then the criminal system finds that the best means to maintain the inevitable crime, is to infiltrate that justice system.

      Look, here is a simple enough example. Why were cops in Britain able to stay unarmed? Part of it is that they aren’t armed, so the criminals don’t need to be armed. As criminals begin to compete with eachother, they have begun to arm, so the police have to arm…

      Now, we could just say, lets have all the cops with guns. And I guarantee you, that almost every criminal will then get a gun.

      And it is nothing to do with the law directly. The law against guns doesn’t work if a criminal really wants a gun. What it does, is it says, is, it’s not worth having a gun, because we, the justice system, will keep our own guns within reason, as long as you don’t step out of place.

      If you do… then we come down on you in a focused way like a tonne of bricks with heavy weaponry. And it works!

      My point is, that the history of England is very much in keeping with the principles of “what a reasonable person would do”, and “personal responsibility” and “limited government interference” and that this has changed drastically under the socialist dictatorial ethos of the criminal labour party. Undermine these important principles, and you must have state control. And with state control, you then find that the state itself becomes criminal, as it focuses power, and justifies it’s actions on the basis of theoretical goods.

      It’s not a rant, just understand that things like taking children away from parents and not giving them back when it’s discovered that the initial case was faulty is part of this paradigm that the state is more right than the individual.

      rexinfinite

      March 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm

  35. @ ‘The problem with you, tree, is that you fall into the communist idea that all you have to do to create wealth is take it from someone who has it.’ LOL..What a ridiculous idea. Rex you are too fast to try and put me in a convenient pigeon hole. I see that McCarthyism lives on among those from across the pond. Don’t be so anxious, I’m not trying to seize your assets or take your money beyond advocating a progressive taxation and welfare system, which is
    what we have already. That is wealth distribution. It’s not a dirty commy notion. It’s here with us in varying degrees across many nations. It’s civilised.

    @ ‘all in the name of the poor, who will, as every lottery winners shows, remain poor despite your best efforts’. That is a really dumb statement. There are plenty of examples of people who have lifted themselves from poverty following a little help. You sound like an uncivilised bigot.

    tree2one

    March 4, 2009 at 9:00 pm

  36. @ the criminal legal system…what are you proposing, that we ease-off and give criminals more elbow room?

    tree2one

    March 4, 2009 at 9:08 pm

  37. gwaan tree

    jackshaftoe

    March 4, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  38. For me it is so simple, no one is ENTITLED to the rewards of another’s efforts.
    And aside from that concept being utterly morally reprehensible, the promised sunshine and flowers of economic justice has never been materialised.
    For the state to provide for those who will not provide for themselves they must first forcibly take from the producers and we have seen that the implementation of that force is necessarily horrific.
    It’s also not sustainable, you can take from those who have only until they decide that being productive is a fucking mug’s game and then what? Atlas Shrugs is what.
    I’ve read Rex’s responses and I agree with every word.
    What I think you are failing to comprehend Tree is that people who believe in the free market and believe that the state is not responsible for us, want a better world for everyone too, but we know that better world is not one where everybody has no less and no more than anyone else.
    Wealth is not a fixed pie, where if I have a large slice that means there is less for someone else, exactly the opposite is true.

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 1:04 am

  39. I’m not dreaming of some hippie utopia where, as you put it ‘everybody has no less and no more than anyone else.’ This is just another knee-jerk right-wing caricature of progressive taxation (aka wealth distribution). Let go of the commie witch-hunt and get real.

    You seem to be advocating some kinda turn-of-the-century Horse and Sparrow Theory – If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. This is just the old fashioned recipe for the rich to getting richer and the poor poorer. Rising tides don’t lift all the boats because some have got holes in or are stranded in different water systems.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 10:26 am

    • @ wealth distribution:

      I do actually agree with the term wealth distribution. I don’t pay taxes to distribute wealth. I pay taxes to share in the burdens of society, according to my ability. And I believe those burdens of society are to create equal opportunities, NOT to create equal wealth.

      I believe there will always be poor people, NOT that all poor people will always be poor.

      You misunderstood my analogy. My point about the lottery winners is that if they have the psychology and ability of the poor, they will remain poor no matter what you give them.

      The exceptions who become wealthy become wealthy because of opportunity. The small business loan on a good idea. The free education that taught them to read and write. Their natural ability.

      None of those are “wealth distribution” as such. They are simply manifestations of a functional society.

      I resent equating paying for basic health, basic security, basic employment insurance, and basic education as some kind of re-distribution of wealth. It is not. It is the maintenance of society by the members of society.

      The problem in the UK is that it is so class conscious, that dialogue becomes about class. It is not.

      And the concept that the richer you are, the more you should give as a proportion of your wealth, so that it evens out, is also absurd, and penalises ability.

      A fixed rate of tax for anyone earning above the minimum (below which there is no point taxing them), is the fairest mechanism. Let everything else be according to the individuals inspiration.

      The point about minimising government is so that that tax money is spent efficiently, and not on the employment of yet more government agencies and think tanks and civil servants.

      Once you enter the paradigm of wealth distribution, it feels right to take from the rich to give to the poor. But in NO WAY is that how I consider my taxes, or my responsibility to pay taxes. I do not redistribute my wealth. I save and spend as I wish, and pay my taxes to maintain the basic levels of society.

      rexinfinite

      March 5, 2009 at 11:36 am

  40. This is definitely the crux of the matter.
    And both sides of the argument are convinced that history clearly shows that ‘the other’ system does/doesn’t work.
    Its fascinating that good people can be so dramatically opposed when it comes to the task of helping humanity in the best way.
    PS Gipperfan is at least trying to be concilitory (rex is just being antagonistic)…although comments like “I think you are failing to comprehend” is always hard to take on the chin without feeling patronised!

    jackshaftoe

    March 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

  41. Don’t worry about my chin Jack me lad – it’s been toughened-up by pecking oats from road 😉

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 11:11 am

    • @ crime:

      I definitely believe in loosening up on crime with one hand, and tightening down with the other.

      What I believe in is the old Japanese system of criminal control (and Japan has the lowest rate of crime in the world). Which is to allow the Yakuza to operate inside certain parameters, and as long as they don’t step outside the parameters, to leave them alone. But when they step outside those parameters (such as when a civilian is killed) to crack down on them like a tonne of bricks.

      In other words, if you don’t rape, don’t steal, and don’t deal drugs, fair cop, you can live a normal life. If you deal drugs and do a little bit of theft, we’ll try to catch you, but we won’t invest major time in it. But if you rape, we bust a gut to find you, then we give you a death sentence. And if you rob someone violently, we find you, take your DNA sample, stick a gps tracker in your arm, and throw you in jail for a few years.

      It’s basically a standard military strategy. Don’t fight more wars than you are capable of, and when you choose to fight, apply the principle of maximum force and overwhelming odds.

      The sad thing is that the UK is actually a pioneer in this approach of soft and hard.

      If they fear a riot, they have a policy of putting plain clothes officers to walk in the crowd and keep a huge anti riot force on high alert, in the background! hidden from view.

      If the riot happens, out comes the heavy force.

      What happens when you fear a riot and put out the riot police from the start, is that it triggers the riot, and also inspired the police to heavy handedness, because they are out there looking for a fight.

      This same principle can apply to every level of criminal activity, and is the most effective way to manage crime.

      And yes, I’m aware that in NY they developed the “zero tolerance” approach to crime. For me, the things like graffitti are best left to empowered local citizens who police their own backyard and report anti social behaviour, but they do not then translate into the need for dna repositories and cctv cameras in every street corner.

      At the most basic level, people must be free and feel free, until they cross the boundary and become criminals, at which point the full power of the state applies.

      What we are drifting into is a state of constant criminality, where none of us are free, but we can live our lives as long as we don’t do anything wrong. It sounds the same, but the onus in my ideal is on you breaking a rule and getting caught and then losing your rights, whereas the onus in the society that is being developed is in not breaking a rule, and only having your rights while that is the case.

      Look, it’s even more simple if you contemplate children. Do you think it is healthy for a child’s development if they are always with their parents? If their parents have a gps tracker on them? If their parents can constantly monitor their friends, their telephone calls, their activities? If their parents can show up at any time and search through their room? and can review tape recordings of their telephone calls?

      I mean, the parent can say, but I’ll only punish you if you do something wrong.

      Just think if you lived your life that way? Would you actually develop as a person? Would you learn to take responsibility for your actions? Would you be PERFECT, which is the argument a parent would make… well, my child will then be wonderful.

      But it’s sick.

      Better that a child has a few secrets, they will come out at some point and the child will learn from the reaction. Better that a child can have private conversations, and learn to trust friends. YES it is a risk, it is a risk the child will do the wrong thing. And when they do, they should be properly and directly punished in consequence, and that’s right, and natural.

      And I guarantee you, that in a society in which the parents have absolute authority and control, and can dictate and survey every move, and have access to every conversation, it is the parents who are the most likely abusers, and the most likely criminal minded, just by the dimension of their power.

      I don’t understand how this is not clear, and simple. As a society, we have to take risks so that people can be independent and free to the best degree possible. And as part of that, when people cross the boundaries, as a society, we have to act directly and with heavy weight when the boundaries are crossed, and ONLY when the boundaries are crossed. Not before. We cannot anticipate crime, only react to it. And that is how it has to be.

      rexinfinite

      March 5, 2009 at 11:28 am

  42. @ ‘We cannot anticipate crime, only react to it. And that is how it has to be.’ So we scrap Crime Prevention then yeah?

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

  43. Within reason.

    Don’t take me out to the extremes, because that’s not what I’m talking about.

    Lock your car door. But is it really going to stop a car thief? No. Actually, quite a few friends of mine don’t lock their care door so that theives don’t smash the glass to get in. One even wrote a note saying, keep the change.

    Obviously banks should have vaults, security guards, and cameras.

    But to me that’s not crime prevention, that’s simple security.

    What I’m saying is that crime prevention shouldn’t be taken to extremes to the point where we anticipate that everyone is a criminal just waiting to be caught. What is so confusing about that?

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  44. @ wealth distribution

    You have missed the point here. I am advocating progressive taxation, where “progressive” describes a distribution effect. You have now come out as a ‘flat-taxer’ which is less distributive. As I said already, I don’t think these things should be brushed under the carpet a la new labour but put simple and plain as they are so we can get to the bottom of what’s good and proper.

    @ ‘if they have the psychology and ability of the poor, they will remain poor no matter what you give them.’ Sorry, you still sound nasty to me.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm

  45. @ nasty:

    is it nasty to say it’s dark and you can’t see well at night?

    some things are just facts and whilst poverty shouldn’t be below a certain level, some relative poverty will always exist.

    @ wealth distribution:

    Raising the middle class is the most important role of society, the majority of taxes are paid by them and society functions best by them.

    They are not created by distributive wealth, but by jobs, small businesses, and sensible tax regime, and a functional society along all the measures I’ve already outlined.

    They are not created by redistributive taxation. They are created by efficient social goods, and institutions that promote health, safety, education, and good governance.

    The taxation system in the UK doesn’t affect the super wealthy, who just move their money off shore, and who don’t pay for much social good anyways.

    It is paid for by the middle classes who get a raw deal.

    I’m all for a flat rate of percentage tax, which is not the same as a flat fixed tax. Given a flat rate of tax, the wealthy pay more and the poor pay less, and the very poor pay nothing.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm

  46. Tree have you ever wondered why people have what you characterise as knee-jerk reaction to you idea of economic justice?
    You say you want greater income equality, but that is an arbitrary construct.
    Either you have complete parity or you don’t.
    If you don’t have absolute equality then someone has to decide how big the gap should be and then they have to enforce it – so it matters not where you draw the line, the act of drawing the line is what I object to.

    The entire issue of this thread is security vs. freedom.
    The two are at opposite ends of a sliding scale, if you have more of one then you have less of the other and it doesn’t matter if you are talking about economic security or as it relates to crime.

    And Jack, in my defence, that was rather a tame retort to the “uncivilised bigot” accusation.

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 2:08 pm

  47. Rex –
    @ nasty: what is nasty is thinking that there is a ‘psychology and ability of the poor’ in first place! What ivory tower do you live in?
    @ progressive/flat tax – a higher rate for the super rich would alleviate the burden on the middle-class.

    Gipper –
    I don’t understand your all or nothing stance on equality. I do understand that you advocate nothing.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm

  48. @ nasty:

    interesting. As if the domains of liberalist pc thinking haven’t reached far enough, now calling someone poor is akin to racism.

    I thought being poor was a state of fact. I know some people who live a rich life with very little money, they make lifestyle choices that mitigate their income, they are still poor.

    If you are poor, it usually means you don’t have a well paying job, or a society functional or organized enough to provide the basics that allow you to step outside of that space.

    Given we live in a society that does provide all of that, and more, the poor that are left are poor through lack of something.

    I am not referring to mentally or physically impaired people, who deserve extra help from society, I am referring to people who simply don’t have a skill or ability that is in any kind of demand. That isn’t fixes by “redistribution of wealth” if it was, people would be off welfare in a few years.

    There is a psychology and ability of poor, and it is particularly evident in societies like ours where the state does help.

    @progressive

    We spend too much on civil servants and don’t need to tax the wealthy to alleviate the burden on the middle class, we just need to alleviate the burden of taxes. The super rich don’t count, they are never the economic base for taxation (the maths just doesn’t work on your progressive scale), and they just avoid taxes in various semi legal ways. If you charge them a fair tax, which is at par with everyone else, they won’t try to escape it with the same intensity, and may even feel it’s fair to pay, and don’t forget, THEY ALREADY PAY MORE

    what pisses me off is that at some point I crossed a threshold and for the sake of a raise of £1,000 I ended up paying more than that amount in extra taxes. Talk about a dis-incentive to creating and having more wealth.

    @ balance between security and freedom

    I do agree they are correlated, but I think that in the balanced space they lose that correlation. In other words, in the extremes, hyper security means no freedom, and hyper freedom means no security. But in the middle, a little bit here or there doesn’t have much effect.

    The problem is we are pushing for hyper security.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 3:01 pm

  49. Nice try Rex but you don’t wriggle out that easy. There’s nothing pc about this. Being poor is painful enough without middle-class twats (forgive me) suggesting you must have some kind of inferior psychology and ability.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm

  50. On tax, it’s all about you isn’t it

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 3:16 pm

  51. Why do you consider being poor as if it was a disease? It’s hard, but it’s not painful.

    We don’t let people starve in the street, most of them who do have other diseases (a little research would show that)

    I’m not wriggling out of anything.

    Like I said, this country is obsessed with class.

    I don’t agree with the American individual first don’t have a social safety net. I have nothing against someone who is fired from their job getting employment insurance for a period of time, or for welfare to be given to a woman with two children who loses her husband and hasn’t the time for a proper job.

    Should they starve on the street? No. But lets face it, economics is simple. If you have something people want, you get money.

    So yes, IN a social welfare state, if you remain poor, you have a psychological or ability problem (why else would people try to educate themselves to get a better job)?

    I really don’t understand your point here at all. It’s really pathetic, and, as we’ve said, idealistic, utopian, communist clap trap.

    I even pointed out you can still live a good life on very little money, because if the state provides a tax break, your education and health are free, and you can get some help with accommodation, if you don’t blow all your money on booze and cigarettes because of some kind of second rate issue about being poor, you can still live a good life. I know, I’ve been there. I’m not there anymore because of two simple factors, ability and psychology.

    If you don’t think it’s that, then what makes someone poor in today’s society?

    I’m just saying strip the welfare state down to it’s bare essentials, and keep it there, and get rid of the kleptocracy of middle management civil servants.

    You haven’t provided anything tangible to this argument except to call me a twat for being middle class and observing that there are poor people for a reason, due to their own responsibility.

    You make it seem like economics aren’t down to the individual.

    You probably feel bad for people who get history degrees and find there are no jobs for such a lame degree, and think they somehow deserve a living simply for being alive. They have a tendency to become communists and want other people’s money.

    Get a useful degree, or make yourself useful (even people who can’t read can become successful in business), and you can get ahead in the world.

    But it takes work!

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

  52. Tree, people have different innate abilities and desires.
    Ugly people don’t get to be supermodels.
    Fuckwits don’t get to be physicists.
    People without ambition will not succeed.
    You may be uncomfortable with what Rex is saying, but it is true.
    There will who always be people unwilling to make the effort, but don’t remove the opportunity for others to better themselves because some people choose not to.

    @Progressive taxation – it does nothing to alleviate the burden on the middle class.
    Rex already explained that what actually happens is that the very rich just move their money away from the grasp of the taxman or as I said the incentive to produce is destroyed.
    Reducing tax rates increases revenues – every time it is tried.

    @equality – My apologies if I was unclear.
    You advocate greater income equality, so what level do you want?
    Can the rich have three times as much as the poor or three hundred times?
    All you are really saying is that you don’t like the system right now and you want someone to make it more equal, but how do we quantify and how do we reach an agreement on what is more equal and then the killer question – how it will be administered?
    Fat on the fire, but here goes…
    It’s Lenin, it’s “who, whom?”

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  53. @Why do you consider being poor as if it was a disease? It’s hard, but it’s not painful.

    That sums it up.
    Poverty can only be imposed on people by the state.

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 3:35 pm

  54. Sorry rex, the twat was in anger (and I immediately asked your forgiveness). I think this comes back to your point at the top of this post ‘Typical middle class sentiments actually. Abuse and tragedy only happens to others, until it happens to you, then you cry to high heaven.’

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 3:44 pm

  55. @ Tree

    What part of my support for a social safety net don’t you understand?

    And what part of saying personal responsibility is fundamental is so hard to accept?

    That’s why I assume you are a communist. Because you talk as though being poor is some kind of disease and wealthy people are holding back the medicine.

    I am more than comfortable sleeping on a floor, sharing a house with 7 people, and having exactly and only £50 a week to spend on all food, entertainment, and any other need. (£20 for basic food, £10 for lunch, £5 for news papers, £8 for a movie once in awhile, and the rest to save) If you think that is middle class, then fair enough. I did it for 3 years living like Raskalnikov in Crime and Punishment. I still felt personally responsible for my situation and didn’t complain to anyone, and I’m not complaining now. Other’s survive on worse.

    I’m more than satisfied that when my father died my widowed mother, in a foreign country with no family, with two young boys took advantage of welfare for a short period of time, she didn’t like it, but she did it out of necessity and got off it as soon as she could. If that is middle class, then fair enough. Again, plenty of people survive worse.

    I don’t begrudge anyone a share of my effort for roads, schools, health, police, basic nutrients, and bank credit.

    What I do begrudge is a country living beyond it’s means, paying absurd amounts of money to middle class civil servants (£7 billion in consulting this year), incentivising lifelong intergenerational welfare, and having liberal communists suggest that more taxation to give to these same constituents will help as if it won’t all be spent on the people giving the money out, rather than the people in need.

    These self same liberals then try to suggest that poverty in a wealthy nation is not either by choice (not working and not taking responsibility), or by mental or physical problems, but is instead, somehow the responsibility of those who make money.

    Just for the record, I don’t believe the super wealthy are such by merit, but more by luck. But so what?

    I agree with Gipperfan, if you try to take all their money, you’re going to spend most of it paying the people who distribute it. Just look at the ratios for modern charities?

    P.S.
    I don’t see the point of accepting an apology that is abutted to an insult. It’s a bit like sinning and going to confession, and I’m not a catholic. If you want to insult me, then go ahead. If you don’t, then erase it. And if I am hurt by the insult and you feel like forgiving me, then great, I’ll accept the apology. Having it all ways is just weird.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 4:06 pm

  56. Gipper –
    Abilities and desires aren’t innate. You talking tautological rubbish about ugly people, fuckwits and people without ambition. You can’t make something true like that. Learn some basic reasoning skills or you’ll never get anywhere. As for ‘poverty can only be imposed on people by the state’ – is that a joke?

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm

  57. Gipper –
    @ ‘All you are really saying is that you don’t like the system right now and you want someone to make it more equal’
    Now you have really lost the thread – I’m the one defending the current system against those who want to get rid of progressive taxation and do away with the welfare system!

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 4:14 pm

  58. OK rex I withdraw the apology – your a twat. I don’t see poverty as a disease at all. But I know that it can force people to make painful choices that well-off people often don’t understand. Well done to you for all your frugality. Shame about the lucky ones eh, never mind.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  59. No Tree, you are the one saying that you want to eradicate inequality.
    You can’t, end of.

    As for imposing poverty, individuals (who are not criminals) do not accumulate wealth by taking it from other people only the government does that.

    And please could you answer my question, how much more equal is enough?

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm

  60. @ twat:

    fair enough.

    @ shame:

    actually, no, I don’t consider it a shame. It’s a part of the process, and most wealthy have made their own luck. My point is only that given 1,000 people working equally hard, with equal intelligence, and similar opportunity, a percentage will go broke, the majority will do alright, and 1 will become super wealthy. But luck doesn’t just land on your head, you earn the opportunity of it, and that’s fine by me.

    @ equality. Yes, please, answer that question, and why you think people are poor at all.

    Fundamentally, I think a strong middle class is more important than any arbitrary inequality, unless it’s simple jealousy of wealthy people.

    There was a study in Harvard where people were asked which would make them most happy, to earn $250,000 while others earned $200,000, or to earn $150,000 while others earned $50,000. They chose the 150,000 of course.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  61. Gipper, you might want me to be the one that wants to eradicate inequality but I’m not sorry. Just like I’m not a communist however much you and rex want to suggest I am.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

  62. the growing income inequality which is poisoning us.

    For most, the intrinsic sense of fairness involves a basic concept of economic equality.

    There is no natural law of private property.

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 4:42 pm

  63. Tree, please could you answer the question and if you are going to quote others please could you source it for us?

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 4:46 pm

  64. Anything else? 1 sugar or 2?

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm

  65. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090305/en_nm/us_eyeborg

    Interesting related story of an eyecaster… attacked excess surveillance by drawing attention to our attitudes.

    ***********************

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Canadian filmmaker plans to have a mini camera installed in his prosthetic eye to make documentaries and raise awareness about surveillance in society.

    Rob Spence, 36, who lost an eye in an accident as a teen-ager, said his so-called Project Eyeborg is to have the camera, a battery and a wireless transmitter mounted on a tiny circuit board. http://www.eyeborgblog.com/

    “Originally the whole idea was to do a documentary about surveillance. I thought I would become a sort of super hero … fighting for justice against surveillance,” Spence said.

    “In Toronto there are 12,000 cameras. But the strange thing I discovered was that people don’t care about the surveillance cameras, they were more concerned about me and my secret camera eye because they feel that is a worse invasion of their privacy.”

    Spence, in Brussels to appear at a media conference, said no part of the camera would be connected to his nerves or brain.

    He does not intend to create a reality TV show and the camera will be switched off when not needed, he said.

    “I don’t want to go into a locker room. I don’t want to show the world me going to the bathroom either … I’m not a life-caster and I don’t plan to be one,” he said.

    (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Louise Ireland)

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 5:00 pm

  66. Oh Tree do you not think that I am sweet enough?

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 5:02 pm

  67. Avraham D. Tabbach ‘WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION AND THE SOCIAL COSTS OF CRIME AND LAW ENFORCEMENT’
    “Generally, the optimal distribution of wealth should balance the social costs of enforcing the law upon wealthy individuals and those costs vis-à-vis poor
    individuals. The paper shows that, in a broad set of circumstances, greater or even perfect equality in the distribution of wealth is socially desirable.”

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

  68. Now I am really confused.
    Do you want income equality or not?

    gipperfan

    March 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm

  69. @Tree:

    Not sure I’m buying into the trade off here, but lets argue it a little further.

    You left out an interesting part of that abstract:

    “However, there are certain circumstances under which inequality is socially preferable, circumstances that, all other things equal, are more likely to arise in poorer societies.”

    So the same paper argues that as long as the poor are so poor they can’t even fight, you’re better off with complete inequality.

    Here is an even more interesting exploration of inequality, which says that it is accepted that it is not poverty that leads to property crime, but, essentially, envy.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/government/346517-1.html

    “recent research tends to the conclusion that it is inequality rather than poverty that is the crucial variable [for a rise in property crime].”

    It is also fundamentally true that a society with liberty of markets will form inequality and it is up to a state to redistribute (in other words, it’s not natural).

    Now, beyond simple poverty itself, which in fact, most people do not suffer from in a wealthy developed nation such as the UK,

    your Crime, and your Wealth redistribution (both of which set out to achieve the same aim), are actually about envy and jealousy of wealth, rather than practical issues of starvation….

    And, in cases of actual issues of starvation, severe inequality is a better hallmark against crime… jee.

    It’s really quite clear to me that your notion of wealth redistribution is just crime in the guise of law, for the sake of envy and personal desire rather than for any laudible charity.

    So it’s actually very appropriate to this thread.

    I’m sorry, I’m not jealous of a billionaire. I try to focus on myself, and what I have, and to ensure that those around me aren’t starving.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 6:03 pm

  70. I like your dedication. To be honest I googled on my way home and this seemed like the first relevant piece of up-to-date academia that covered wealth distribution and crime. Thought it was quite a find but didn’t read it. Glad to see you have. However, let’s not too far down this route or it will be like wading through treacle.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm

  71. I certainly do not want income equality (and let this be the last time I have to say it). I understand the need to incentivise, I understand wanting to keep hold of what you have worked hard for. I want the gross inequalities and excesses of waelth to be dealt with, by the state. I want a progressive tax and welfare. This seems to be where we agree to part company. As already stated, I do not believe in Horse and Sparrow theory (aka trickle down) or rising tides lifting all boats.

    I did read a study suggesting that while Japanese executives earn 8 times less than their US counter-parts, they still clock the same hours and show no less dedication to generating wealth.

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 8:18 pm

  72. Maybe we can try to bring this to a head by summarising positions?

    Gipperfan – I have looked over your posts and tried to draw your main points together to work out what your position is:

    “You can boil the solution down to one simple premise – tax it and you get less, subsidise and you get more…I do not serve any government, my government serves me and I do not believe that they have the right to forcibly take the fruits of my labour and give it to someone else…I do not accept that there are any benefits to state imposed wealth redistribution…I will share when I choose, with whom I choose and if I choose…Poverty can only be imposed on people by the state…People have different innate abilities and desires”

    Here is how I interpret this, correct me if I am wrong:

    Government is a necessary evil which should interfere as little as possible with an individual’s right to choose to do as they please. Taxation should be reduced and welfare cut back severely to only cover short-term cases of extreme need (?). Charity supported by people who choose to give up their wealth should cover any additional need (?). Some people with the wrong attitude don’t deserve any help. Some people do not have sufficient ability or desire to be anything other than poor. Do not allow any state transfer of wealth. This is actually what causes poverty.
    How did I do?

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm

  73. Rex –

    “Disarming law-abiding citizens and the resulting necessity to cede all responsibility for defending private property has been one of tһe greatest assaults on freedom…It cannot be left to the discretion of a family to educate children, as this disenfranchises the vast majority of children of society…I believe that employment insurance is a vital part of a social structure, but can be as easily provided outside the state as inside, but that at a certain point, welfare becomes an encouragement to baby production by the lowest common denominator…A fixed rate of tax for anyone earning above the minimum (below which there is no point taxing them), is the fairest mechanism. Let everything else be according to the individuals inspiration….There is a psychology and ability of poor, and it is particularly evident in societies like ours where the state does help”

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 9:13 pm

  74. Still working on the interpretation of this….

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 9:13 pm

  75. Tree, not a bad exercise and a decent summary except for: “Disarming law-abiding citizens” I don’t think I made that centre point. I am more worried about a pervasive constant condition of state control. I think gun ownership is not a right, but something respnsible people with licenses and reasonable weapons can enjoy. But that’s a separate conversation.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 9:28 pm

  76. Rex, in your scheme of things, why do you give the state a cenral role in education? I would have thought you’d prefer the state not to interfere with the choice of parents (and children) in how they are educated? Is compulsory state schooling not designed to shape the individual’s attitudes, perceptions, conditioned reflexes and entire psychology in such a way as to make him or her a useful tool of the
    political authorities, a tool whom those authorities can manipulate and control by means of collectivist propaganda in adult life? John Stuart Mill wrote:
    “That the whole or any large part of the education of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as any one in deprecating.”

    tree2one

    March 5, 2009 at 10:46 pm

  77. Good points Tree. I agree with some of that, within reason.

    When I talk about state education, I mean mostly state funded. I think it is crucial for society to have an educated populous, and that can’t be left to chance or wealth. But there is room for home school, religious schools, an other versions of choice. But i’m not happy with the class divide of education in the UK. I think it is with education that every theory of human society finds it’s greatest strain, and I don’t yet know how I’ll cope with the choices when it is my child. Maybe home school, but then you lose socialising…. difficult.

    rexinfinite

    March 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

  78. So the state should support all individuals through education no matter what their ability, even when it is clear that, according to your scheme, they will “remain poor despite your best efforts” and probably conitnue to burden hard-working tax-payers?

    You worry about the class divide in education and suggest that the UK is overly conerned with class but no-one else has been propogating class divides except you – “I think a strong middle class is more important than any arbitrary inequality.”

    I am trying to get the interal logic of your position but still struggling.

    tree2one

    March 6, 2009 at 8:35 am

  79. @ class:

    when I discuss middle class or poor, I am refering to an economic condition, and type of work. I am not making value judgements on character.

    In the UK class is about value judgements about personalities based on where you are from and how you speak to denote class irrespective of your observed economic status and capability.

    @ education

    everyone regardless of background deserves an education to their ability.

    It is more consistent with your position to try to give a university education to someone competent only to the level of a janitor. But education is the realm in which most will find their capability. Not to impose it, but to discover it.

    @ confusion

    It is only confusing if you make value judgments about economic conditions, and if you can’t see I’m making balanced statements.

    calling someone poor is not nasty, it’s either true or not true. And there are reasons people are poor, which are not often related to opportunity in a society where no one starves, education is available for free, and university is available on grants… all of which are vital components of creating a middle class.

    Some will only need to read and write and then apprentice or start in business. good for them, they will find their limit, but it shouldn’t be for lack of opportunity.

    the logic is found in a focus on equal opportunity and personal responsibility with observational categories not value judgements

    rexinfinite

    March 6, 2009 at 9:16 am

  80. @ “It is more consistent with your position to try to give a university education to someone competent only to the level of a janitor.”

    This whole statement is fundamentally inconsistent with my position by virtue of the fact that I do not share your limiting ideas about what people are or are not capable of. At what point is it determined that someone is only ever gonna be a janitor? Ever heard of ‘lifelong learning’ and ‘continuing professional development’?

    @ “everyone regardless of background deserves an education” Yes but why the fuck do you need to tag on this “to their ability” qualifier?

    It’s not true that when you speak of ‘middle class’ or ‘poor’, you are only refering to an economic condition or type of work when you say things like “there is a psychology and ability of poor”.

    It’s becoming clear that I am more interested in individualism than you are. I don’t think I like your view of humanity.

    tree2one

    March 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm

  81. Tree I am going to say this as politely as I can.
    At no point in this discussion have you expressed an opinion that would lead anyone to think of you as an individualist.
    In fact your collectivist mindset stretches so far, it would seem that it even encompasses the belief that you have the right to pass the words of others off as if they were your own.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 12:00 am

  82. Maybe you should try and work out what I believe (as you clearly don’t understand it yet) in the same way that I have tried to understand your position:

    “You can boil the solution down to one simple premise – tax it and you get less, subsidise and you get more…I do not serve any government, my government serves me and I do not believe that they have the right to forcibly take the fruits of my labour and give it to someone else…I do not accept that there are any benefits to state imposed wealth redistribution…I will share when I choose, with whom I choose and if I choose…Poverty can only be imposed on people by the state…People have different innate abilities and desires”

    Here is how I interpret this, correct me if I am wrong:

    Government is a necessary evil which should interfere as little as possible with an individual’s right to choose to do as they please. Taxation should be reduced and welfare cut back severely to only cover short-term cases of extreme need (?). Charity supported by people who choose to give up their wealth should cover any additional need (?). Some people with the wrong attitude don’t deserve any help. Some people do not have sufficient ability or desire to be anything other than poor. Do not allow any state transfer of wealth. This is actually what causes poverty.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 9:26 am

  83. Maybe we need something we can agree on to better proceed?

    According to wikipedia (cited for Gripper), there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes. The first principle is that all members of the society (citizens) have equal access to power and the second that all members (citizens) enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.

    Any objections?

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 10:04 am

  84. come on Rex/Gipper…you need to set out what you believe tree’s position to be. As he has done with you.

    jackshaftoe

    March 7, 2009 at 10:06 am

  85. Gladly Jack, could we perhaps hear them Tree?

    The first couple of times I let it go.
    @ “Going back to biblical times…”
    http://robertdfeinman.com/society/wealth_distribution.html

    I had a bit of a giggle at this one, banging on about no “natural right to private property” and then adding this at the end.

    “Copyright © 2005-6 Robert D Feinman
    Feel free to use the ideas, but the words are mine.”

    @ “UK Ministers in the current Labour government have famously found it difficult to talk about economic redistribution.”

    http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-76.html

    Then I received a lecture on the weakness of my own powers of reasoning and I asked politely for Tree to source what he was writing.
    But then you did it again Tree.

    @ “shape the individual’s attitudes, perceptions, conditioned reflexes…”

    http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/educn/educn016.pdf

    So maybe you could get down off your high horse and don’t tell me that I need to work out what you believe.
    If you could express it yourself, or invite the three gentlemen cited above to join the discussion I would put the effort in, but I am not debating cut & paste.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm

  86. Lets see, here is a cut and paste of Tree’s main statements to date:

    Liberalism is evil!

    Gipperfan’s view of the world is laughable.

    You don’t know my view.

    Talent and ambition aren’t innate and need financial support.

    Abilities and desires aren’t innate. (As if anyone can be anyone else with just enough money and encouragement- never watched American Idol and seen people try to sing? Some can improve, some can’t, and some are innately great. This absolute statement is an absurd position.)

    Wealth distribution is so great it’s impossible to describe and so obvious it can’t be argued.

    Fairness involves economic equality, but I can’t prove it.

    Economic inequality means people are absolutely poor, rather than relatively less rich. (If you have a billionaire, you can’t have others who are wealthy and successful in society because it’s gross someone has so much.)

    The wealthy don’t spend their money wisely (i.e. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet spend their money badly like donating tens of billions to charity, but someone on welfare in some poor town knows how to spend it better- or the government can spend it on nuclear weapons and wars in Iraq)

    The wealthy aren’t to be trusted with the power of money. (But the government and it’s civil servants are…)

    Wealthy people don’t come from wealthy families. (Talk about strange bias)

    New Labour has carried out wealth distribution by stealth, but they have such a successful track record they should brag about it. (For instance their economic mismanagement has meant that the wealthy middle class have all just lost their savings, pensions, and investments. Well done New Labour.)

    A higher rate of tax on the wealthy alleviates the burden on the middle class. (No reaction to our problem with what that money is spent on and the argument that we don’t need to spend as much as we do.)

    Rex is a “dumb,” “nasty”, “McCarthyist”, “uncivilized bigot”, “twat” who lives in an “ivory tower” and has an “undesirable view of humanity” because he believes people have natural limitations on ability and have different psychologies and desires.

    Rising tides don’t lift all boats because some have holes in them (what is a hole we can’t seem to discover), and some are in different water systems. (What is a different water system?- we can’t seem to get an answer on what causes poverty except that other peoples money can cure it.)

    Poverty is not a disease but it makes people make painful choices, like having to steal from the rich. (Except the extremely poor don’t steal at all, it’s the envious of every economic bracket who steal- especially in a country where crime is not a necessity to eat and sleep.)

    I don’t want to eradicate inequality after all. And you don’t know my position. But it is about wealth redistribution without losing incentives and erasing gross inequality and excess wealth, which should be the role of the state. (Again, you trust the state far in excess of any trustworthiness a state has shown, and cite the productivity of Japanese executives, without addressing the issue of expectations, shortages, and methods. Japanese execs get a job for life, they don’t in America. Japanese companies chase long term success, American companies chase short term success. The flaws in this system are bearing fruit and will be corrected, not by the state, but by failure- which is how it should be.)

    In summary, Tree likes to be rude about others while presenting himself as considerate. Gipper and I only called him a utopian communist. Hardly an insult which was met with many insults.

    The key difference in our positions, is that I believe people have natural and innate abilities and cultivated desires that differ from others, and that these impact their success in the world. The way to allow for the natural level of peoples ability and desire to play out is to have equal opportunities which is a good role for the state.

    Tree thinks this is a horrible nasty disgusting view, because somehow everyone on the planet can be David Beckham, Michael Shummacher, Bill Gates, Pavorotti, Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, Jo Brand, Picasso, and Einstein all in one if they are given enough money and encouragement. Somehow we are all naturally genius at sports, funny, natural leaders, who can sing like angels, and know how to make billions, whilst solving the questions of the universe. If only the state would take enough money off the rich to make it so.

    In case I forget, men can also give birth because there is no innate ability and no natural desire.

    This is of course, completely absurd, but I’ll once again be personally attacked as an evil person for stating the obvious.

    rexinfinite

    March 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm

  87. Gipper I don’t get your point. I had already said I didn’t want to have to list the benefits of wealth distribution because it is simply a case of regurgitating old, well known arguements which in the end (note – ‘sigh’) I indeed cut and paste, they were never going to be original thinking. The article about new Labour is something I read (and agreed with) prior to this discussion and I thought it would be informative given that one of MY central points here is that I don’t think the concept of ‘wealth distribution’ should be brushed under the carpet or dressed up in spin (because it is no longer in vogue) but rather discussed openly if it is to be justifiable. The final example obviously isn’t meant to represent my view as it was me checking with rex what he believed. There is nothing disingenuous going on here. It seems to me that you are just avoiding the issues now as your last 2 posts have made no points at all.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm

  88. Rex you have made a lot of points here which I will come back to because I am genuinely interested in this debate and (believe or not) am learning a lot from it.
    But first, @
    “In summary, Tree likes to be rude about others while presenting himself as considerate. Gipper and I only called him a utopian communist. Hardly an insult which was met with many insults.”
    Don’t be a cry-baby. I thought we had established that it was OK to throw a few insults when I withdrew my apology for ‘twat’ which I (wrongly) assumed was taken in jest (as it was meant). You have acused me of being jealous of rich people and a few other things but I really don’t care, it comes with the territory and it is fun surely.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm

  89. Can we carry on now?

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

  90. @ carry on:

    of course 🙂 It is all in fun, and a little rage and hate is a good thing, if I remember an argument we had before….

    Jack asked for a summary, I thought it only fair to summarise everything, including the name calling… I didn’t say I was going to kill myself, or that I agreed with it 😛

    rexinfinite

    March 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm

  91. I am still waiting for you (in your own words) to tell me how much more equal is enough.

    You said –
    “the growing income inequality which is poisoning us.”

    “For most, the intrinsic sense of fairness involves a basic concept of economic equality.”

    Then you said –
    “I certainly do not want income equality (and let this be the last time I have to say it).”

    And one sentence later you said –
    “I want the gross inequalities and excesses of waelth to be dealt with, by the state.”

    So how much inequality do you think is an acceptable amount?
    Either something is equal or it isn’t, this isn’t just petty semantics.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm

  92. p.s. it’s not an insult to say you are jealous of rich people, I can back that up with statements like:

    “there are ‘gross’ inequalities”

    and a belief in taxation that takes more as a percentage from the wealthy than from anyone else under the guise of income redistribution.

    and other words and statements suggesting that people can have too much wealth even when you live in a social state that provides welfare.

    If we lived in a state with extreme poverty I still would say the problem is not rich people, but an inadequate state to provide everything I saw a state should provide:

    infrastructure, education, security, and basic welfare (no one starving)

    And in such a society, a percentage tax on the wealthy would still mean they provide the majority of tax revenue.

    A real flat tax is the idea everyone pays a fixed AMOUNT of money, which is of course unfair. A fixed PERCENTAGE is equivalent and taxes wealthy more… but is still fair.

    rexinfinite

    March 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm

  93. @ “There is nothing disingenuous going on here.”
    Bollocks there isn’t, you quote/cite some people and not others.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm

  94. I’d like to apologise for that last comment, it isn’t helpful and I think I’ve made my feelings on the whole issue clear enough.
    I’ll shut up about it now.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm

  95. No problem Gripper. I mean what I say, whether authored or borrowed, which is what’s important surely.
    On your question about how much equality is enough. – I think it is more a matter of how much inequality is enough. I can’t see why it should be all or nothing. I think that preventing poverty and curbing excessive wealth is healthy. It should be a balancing act actively managed by the state on our behalf to prevent the problems already mentioned above. There is no fixed quantative answer as it is a qualitative issue and ultimately a moral one. In terms of where we are now I obviously think the balance isn’t right and that recent problems in the economy and society are symptomatic of this. I don’t think anyone is entitled to unconditional income from the public purse. I do think that super-wealth is corrupting and undermines our system. This is not a radical position whereas yours, if I understand it properly (still waiting confirmation on that), is.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm

  96. (not that there is anything wrong with ‘radical’ of course)

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 7:35 pm

  97. Rex, ‘gross’ is more akin to disgust than jealousy here. I think super-wealth is gross.

    I think it is worth distinguishing wealth from income in this debate. I am sticking to wealth distribution but you and Gripper are using income/wealth inter-changeably.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 7:49 pm

  98. Rex & Gripper, I interpret ‘innate’ as something independent of experience and learning and therefore can’t see how ability, competence and psychology are innate as they all develop with experience and learning.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

  99. “Most of our tycoons are not wealth creators, but wealth drainers…Over the past five years alone, the average earnings of chief executives of FTSE-100 companies have doubled to £3.2m. Their pay has been rising five times faster than their employees’. The top 1 per cent of the population now enjoy 23 per cent of national wealth, while the poorest half share a mere 6 per cent. For most of the 20th century, Britain became steadily more equal. For the past three decades the movement has been in the opposite direction.” New Statesman, 11 September 2008.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 8:22 pm

  100. Ability is a combination of innate with experience, competence is just the adequate outcome of both, and psychology is more about education but relates to underlying geneology as well (Szichophrenia is often in the family, same with Altzheimers). I.e.
    some men are bigger, stronger, and faster than others. And of development. Certainly it’s not one or the other.

    The accumulation of too much wealth is indeed corrupting. That’s why it’s better to keep it out of the hands of government. No matter how wealthy any individual is, in a modern society they are still small fry, and nothing compared to the amount that governments spend, unless you imagine that Bill Gates could go to war against Iraq on his own.

    So it’s better that wealthy people have wealth, than that governments do. For every playboy, there is a Gates, Buffet, Carenegie, Soros, who do amazing things with their wealth.

    Further, if you actually believe the government is uncorrupted (and the few stories on this page say otherwise), to take money from people simply BECAUSE you don’t think it’s fair, strikes at the right of property, which is actually an important right, counterbalances by a responsibility to society. But when you make the burden of that responsibilty unequally applied, it creates an incentive to break the rules and to avoid what seems arbitrary, against the rights of the individual, and theft by state.

    Further, the natural law of economics is to produce extreme wealth in a small percentage of people (they have always existes, ever heard of Midas? Croesus (sp)?) It’s just a factor of a market, and to let the market function is better than the alternative, which is again state control.

    And fundamentally, the state is much less untrustworthy, precisely because we have to have faith in it. A wealthy person doesn’t deserve our trust and have authority simply for being wealthy, but the government can expect both, thus when it is given free remit, and civil servants and politicians can do theft by law, they become much much much more dangerous.

    Destroy the right of property at your peril. I don’t see a successful example of a state in which that has been successful. Even extreme wealth redistributors like the Swedes still have billionaires.

    Your ideal country, Tree, is Zimbabwe. A nice strong state, focused on the redistribution of wealth, and not willing to wait for trickle down.

    Oh, wait, they have no education, no social services, no welfare, and they therefore can’t produce the exports that used to make Zimbabwe the best country in Africa.

    No one would dispute that Zimbabwe was not an ideally distributed country. But if it focused on the roles that Gipper and I have outlined, again, fair taxation to provide for education, security, basic welfare, over the same period of time, the large landholdings could have been slowly purchased away from the landowners by a nation rich in middle class, and educated to care for the land.

    Instead, it too focused on the gross inequality of distribution, and on redistribution towards unproductive and uneducated and poorly developed psychological entities.

    I recommend moving there to your nice little utopia with a powerful leader who is democratically elected, you’ll be happy to know.

    rexinfinite

    March 7, 2009 at 8:24 pm

  101. If you find the government less trustworthy than strangers I think it’s you that needs to move my friend.

    I don’t want to destroy the right of property, I think wealth distribution helps protect property by reducing crime and therefore reduces the cost of protection.

    The fact that extreme wealth redistributors like the Swedes still have billionaires surely shows that it can be done without disincentivising people?

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm

  102. So you have modified your position on innate ability and psychology then Rex?

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm

  103. Tree, firstly my apology does not mean that I condone “borrowing” the intellectual property of other people.
    I was apologising for flogging a dead horse and I am no way surprised that you cannot see the difference between expressing your opinions in your own words and taking those of others, maybe if you only take 25 it is okay, but entire paragraphs would be “gross”???

    Anyway, back to the point (although I think it was not badly made above).
    If wealth is not equally distributed then it is unequally distributed – that is a statement of fact.
    You say that you do not advocate absolute equality and that you are okay with some inequality, but it cannot be “gross”.
    I am still waiting for a definition of what level of inequality is not gross.
    Well let’s just take “gross” to mean the number in your head that we are not privvy to.
    In order to stop inequality reaching the level of gross, you have to take all the wealth that people have accumulated over gross and give it people who have wealth under gross.
    You advocate that this is the role of government.
    The government can only take the ‘extra’ wealth by force or threat of force.
    Once they have taken it, they have to then decide who gets it and how much each person gets – which will have no bearing on how much effort they actually put into society obviously.
    Also once they have taken it, there is no incentive for anyone to earn any more money over gross, because it will be taken away.
    Please explain to me then how this does not impose poverty, because you’ve taken the first lot of wealth over gross and people stop earning more than gross, where does the next lot of money for you to distribute come from?
    The only answer is that you have to adjust gross down and seize another lot and where do propose it stops?

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 9:22 pm

  104. The horse obviously wasn’t dead.
    @ “In order to stop inequality reaching the level of gross, you have to take all the wealth that people have accumulated over gross and give it people who have wealth under gross.”
    You really don’t get it do you. Maybe Rex can explain it better than me (he gets it).
    For a start, ‘gross’ goes in both directions, there is no ‘people who have wealth under gross’. Poverty is gross!
    Secondly, the tax and welfare system is thankfully a bit more sophisticated than the Robin Hood method you describe. There is no direct transfer of wealth from one person to another. Moreover you don’t take all of someone’s money over a certain amount, just a proportion of it. i.e. they can keep earning more and more.
    Sorry to have to spell this out like this but you left me with little choice.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 9:50 pm

  105. @ I don’t want to destroy the right of property, I think wealth distribution helps protect property by reducing crime and therefore reduces the cost of protection.

    That is a contradictory statement.
    You cannot say you believe in the right to private property and also say you want it distributed.
    If someone owns two sofas and someone else has none, then according to wealth distribution the person with two must give one to the person with none. So what right are you protecting exactly?

    @ There is no direct transfer of wealth from one person to another.

    No you are right the middle man takes a chunk first.

    @ Moreover you don’t take all of someone’s money over a certain amount, just a proportion of it. i.e. they can keep earning more and more.
    Explain to me please, for the love of God, what proportion you have to take to end gross inequality.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 10:07 pm

  106. @ So you have modified your position on innate ability and psychology then Rex?

    No he clearly hasn’t.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 10:08 pm

  107. I think it would help if you read this –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_distribution

    Perhaps Rex might be left to answer questions directed to him?

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm

  108. @ So you have modified your position on innate ability and psychology then Rex?

    See Gipperfan’s response.

    I guess this thread really has become ridiculous, unless what Tree means is that he actually thinks that some ability and pyschology is innate and therefore because he now agrees with me, that I’ve moved my position.

    The key point that Tree is missing is that there is some arbitrary idea that x amount of inequality (undefined as you show) is ok, and some other x amount of inequality is ok.

    Gipperfan’s point that property needs to be respected, and my point that the state is firstly, not to be trusted, and secondly, must create a platform of equal opportunity do not look at taxes as a form of wealth redistribution, but as a means for the state to enact it’s minimal responsibilities with the participation of it’s constituents.

    The problem with wealth distribution is that the Sherrif of Nottingham was the taxman… but he probably considered himself Robin Hood.

    Robin Hood was actually a tax rebel, giving people BACK their money. He didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor, he took money back from the corrupt state, to give it back to the people who had been taxed.

    I can think of no better analogy. The wealth distributionists think they are being Robin Hood, but they are being the Sherrif of Nottingham.

    Anyhow, this is my final post. I haven’t changed my position on anything, only tried every which way to explain myself, without success, against one absurd absolute statement that ability and psychology have nothing innate about them (which is absurd as an absolute), and one misplaced view that wealth re-distribution is the purpose of taxes, and a misplaced trust that the state is right.

    Thanks Gipperfan for reminding Tree that the middleman does indeed act to stop redistribution working even as they say it will.

    rexinfinite

    March 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm

  109. I do not need Wikipedia to understand the concept of wealth redistribution. Cheers though.
    I’ve done my homework over the years with the help of Adam Smith, FA hayek, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell – do I need to go on?

    Maybe though you could try Googling the answer to my question that you have ignored for three days.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 10:27 pm

  110. A weak end from you both but thanks anyway.

    tree2one

    March 7, 2009 at 10:33 pm

  111. I wasn’t actually finished, but whatever.

    Rex, I learned a lot from you thank you for sharing your insight.
    You are quite frankly one of the most articulate people I have had the pleasure to converse with – awe inspiring in fact.

    gipperfan

    March 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  112. shame that gipper/rex could bever set out a reasonable assessment of tree’s position without taking the piss…thought we could have found the middle ground
    ps what is wrong with quoting other people?

    jackshaftoe

    March 8, 2009 at 11:26 am

  113. Jack that’s really unfair.

    I outlined Tree’s position, and only included 1 small paragraph summarizing his taking the piss.

    And Gipper’s point about quotes isn’t not to use them, but actually TO use them. I guess you didn’t understand, but he was pointing out Tree wasn’t posting in his own words, and wasn’t quoting what he was copying and pasting. In school that was called pliagarism. Attributed quotes are not an issue.

    Please try to actually follow what’s going on.

    Gipper has asked, at least 10 times, for Tree’s position on what the ideal wealth distribution should be.

    Tree has said he would like to see it more equallt distributed, but he backed away from PERFECT distribution. And he sees it is the states roll to do that, primarily through what is ridiculously known as “progressive” taxation. I.e. taxing people with higher incomes at progressively higher rates of tax.

    And this does skew incentives and creates a huge market for tax evasion, because if you are earning 40k, and being taxed at 30%, but you get a raise to 60k and get taxed at 50% you just don’t want to bother, or you get it in bonuses, or move it off shore, or actually just don’t pursue the extra money.

    Our combined point is that the market is setting the rate of wealth distribution, that this is naturally skewed, and that a state should focus on providing the infrastructure, and society itself will find a balance.

    In fact, in America, most companies, no matter how large, tend not to last more than 60 years. And in America, the land of the most extreme wealth imbalance, the preponderance of that wealth is given in philanthropy. You and Tree haven’t been good enough to recognize Carnegie, Gates, and Buffet, as the wealthiest people in the last few generations, who actually gave away all their wealth.

    Also, you haven’t accepted the fact that the country with the most liberal attitude, and greatest economic disparity, is also the country with the most billionaires, the most self made billionaires, the most billionaires who have made their billiones in their own lifetime, and the most philanthropic billionaires who tend to give away the vast proportion of their wealth, as they see fit— and DIRECTLY where it is needed, rather than through the greedy inefficient fingers of the state.

    And once you say that someone can be a billionaire, but not be a billionaire beyond X, you start to create artificial constraints.

    A government should not allow monopolies, and should protect competition, that alone will mean that billionaires lose their position, which is why there is such a high churn rate of businesses in America. But you don’t recognize any of that.

    Sure the stats look bad, someone has the most wealth. But WHO CARES! The point is about how big is your middle class, and how do you sustain the middle class.

    America’s success in the past, and present, has been built on the very principle we are talking about.

    Countries such as China and India, which attempted socialism, stiffled any growth, until they allowed for income inequality. Venezuala is going backwards.

    But our social agenda has also been ignored. I agree with Venezuela applying more of the national wealth to poverty improvement, more than oligarchs who abuse the state for their own wealth… oh, wait, the state again….

    We do actually have an easily accessible middle ground available.

    We all agree with some form of state help. Gipper and I just don’t accept that some arbitrary figure for wealth distribution is better or worse.

    If the question would be answered, we might be able to move on.

    Anyhow, your misrepresentation of the situation has got me rilled up again.

    And Gipper, thanks for the appreciation, it’s mutual. I suspect I may be on the more social end of this, because I’m very wary of Milton Friedman, I don’t believe the market solves everything, and there is a vital role for the state (such as regulation), but it’s always dangerous to create artificial boundaries.

    rexinfinite

    March 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm

  114. rex – while you maye be very articulate you do have a issue with patronising your audience.
    Quote/dont quote…so what? What’s the difference wether I quote Friedman or say it in my own words – doesn’t make any difference to me.
    I’m sorry, but as far as I can see it, tree has made an effort to understand your position yet you have shown no understanding of his whatsoever. All you can do is mock.
    “Ideal wealth distribution”?? Something like we have now I guess would be tree’s answer to such a question. You two are the revolutionaries who want to change everything.
    Unlike you I am not blessed with having the answers to everything.

    jackshaftoe

    March 8, 2009 at 12:31 pm

  115. It’s not about having the answers it’s about having a set of core beliefs and staying true to them.

    gipperfan

    March 8, 2009 at 12:53 pm

  116. @ “Ideal wealth distribution”?? Something like we have now I guess would be tree’s answer to such a question.
    You are apparently not allowed to answer questions for other people. 🙂

    But Tree said “the growing income inequality [was] poisoning us”, so I don’t believe he is happy with the status quo, he implied that it wants things to be more equal, he just won’t tell us how much more equal is.

    gipperfan

    March 8, 2009 at 1:05 pm

  117. “It’s not about having the answers it’s about having a set of core beliefs and staying true to them.”

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. That is precisely the problem and why this will never get anywhere.
    You sound exactly like the IRA/Unionists, Israelis/Palestinians, Catholics/Protestants, Muslims/Christians etc etc.
    It is that fundamentalist attitude: you are right and anything that doesn’t fit with your belief system is necessarily wrong, that is preventing any meaningful discussion. And that is keeping people at war with each other. It’s like Friedman is your bible and you can’t possibly entertain a position that does not fit with your bible.
    At least CONSIDER that your ‘core set of beliefs’ may, just may, NOT be perfect…

    jackshaftoe

    March 8, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    • “liberalism is evil!”

      I guess that’s a better answer for you Jack? More neutral, balanced, open?

      rexinfinite

      March 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  118. The following is a list of my core beliefs, if you think any of them are wrong please let me know.

    1.People are born free.
    2.People are born equal.
    3.Justice must be blind.
    4.Limited government is preferable to centralised planning (see 1,2 & 3 above).

    gipperfan

    March 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

  119. For Tree’s sake, when I say people are born equal, this means that no external agency should be allowed to discriminate against one person for the sake of another.
    I do not mean that we are all the same.

    gipperfan

    March 8, 2009 at 1:54 pm

  120. None of those are absolutes.

    jackshaftoe

    March 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  121. Your fundamentalism necessitates a blinkered approach with no room for compromise or negotiation.
    The same as the fundamental groups I listed earlier.

    jackshaftoe

    March 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm

  122. So which one{s} would you like me to compromise on?

    Do you honestly believe that sacrificing what you believe depending on who you are talking to for the sake of consensus (because I don’t have to sacrifice my belief to reach consensus with Rex, but I do if I am to have consensus with Tree) is better than having a bedrock of principle?
    I don’t blow with the wind of public opinion, I am an individual and what I believe is an intrinsic part of who I am, I can’t separate my beliefs from my existence for the purpose of agreement for it’s own sake.

    (Note to Rex, I was happy with the ambiguity but I don’t want to misrepresent myself, I am a she not a he.)

    Why is the ultimate goal consensus?
    Why do we all have to think the same?

    gipperfan

    March 8, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    • @she/he
      Thanks for the clarification Gipperfan.

      @condescending
      Apologies if I have been rude. In particular, I value the energy Tree has put into this thread, even where I’ve been frustrated.

      @ideal wealth distribution
      Rather than re-distribution, at some level a global economy dictates enormous wealth concentration as an entire world chooses one product or another.
      Perhaps we should do what they did in ancient times for land.

      The effective means of land distribution balanced with productivity was made a long time ago, in many countries around the world. It is, in effect, that unused land, if used for a period of time by another, will revert to the possession of the user. In London that means squaters can get houses, and in Italy it means farmers can use land etc.

      It’s a simple and effective way of ensuring that landowners can’t simply own land and park it, unproductively.

      So it should possibly be with wealth?

      If you have a huge holding of money for an extended period of time and it is dormant, after 10 years of inactivity it should be dispersed as a grant to approved start up plans?

      Would you be content with that Tree? It then means that huge accumulation of wealth is still possible, but so long as it is productive and used.

      No prejudice on usage of course, only a prejudice on dormancy 😉

      rexinfinite

      March 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  123. you’re still ignoring my comparing you to a religious fundamentalist
    what would you say to them when they are saying they cannot compromise their core beliefs?

    jackshaftoe

    March 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    • @Fundamentalism

      Jack, you are misrepresenting the core beliefs that gipperfan holds as fundamentalist, when in fact they are individualist.

      The other forms of fundamentalism that you mention are all projections. I am Catholic, you are Protestant, therefore you are wrong.

      Gipperfan would, and I am confident to say this, say, it doesn’t matter, be who you want to be as long as you don’t take my property unfairly and try to impose your beliefs on me.

      Crucially, the fundamentalisms that you list, are, in fact, issues of property at heart. But property as defined by cultural identities or race, as opposed to property protected by a blind justice.

      So once again, Gipperfan’s believe structure would not allow for the underlying political problems to develop between those forms of fundamentalism.

      In fact, Jack, your pursuit of consensus is a rather strange borg like liberalism. It sounds nice. No one believe anything and we’ll all just get along.

      The problem is, for humans to do that, we’d all have to think the same thing, because otherwise we will have differences of opinion.

      So therefore you need a kind of social control entity that defines what we all share.

      The unique aspect of Gipperfan’s position is that they are not a set of beliefs, they are a set of RULES and conduct by which different INDIVIDUALS can successfully cohabitate space and time.

      They are neutral to belief, and are not an imposition upon anyone who isn’t trying to impose on another.

      In other words, whilst fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, and Communists have to actively press their agendas and beliefs on others in order to make them work, a liberal needs only to hold the beliefs true to herself in order for them to take effect.

      Conflict is only in the case that the individual is imposed upon by the others, and cannot, by definition, be instigated by the individualist.

      In practice this does, of course, get confused. But in principle, it is wrong of you to claim it has any association with the other mentalists you listed.

      Further, I would hazard to say that Gipperfan’s position that we cannot reach consensus is driven by this same understanding that if we cannot get along as individuals (ala the very tried and tested rules of liberalism), we inevitably must have conflict in trying to impose and propagandize a standard set of belief systems on a social group. Something that is, tangibly, impossible, as even groups of groups of groups will fragment.

      Personally, from a historical perspective, I’ll stick with liberal individualism and their rules for social conduct to any fiction you could care to propose.

      rexinfinite

      March 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

  124. Okay, you are not going to like this…

    I do not believe that you can have consensus without first having victory.
    The reality is that we will never all agree so any one of those sides is going to have to win first.
    It may suck, but before you have peace you must first have victory.

    This isn’t to say that I don’t think that we can’t all coexist, because I believe in the rights of the individual – it is the very act of attempting to reach consensus among disparate groups that leads us to such terrible ends.

    I don’t want you to agree with me, I just want you to let me live my life my way and I’ll honour your way of life in return.

    Now it’s your turn, what principle do you think I need to compromise on?

    gipperfan

    March 8, 2009 at 5:49 pm

  125. I agree with Gipper (on something at least) – when it comes to how we will run the country/world, we need a winning ideology first and then consensus. I’d maybe go further – @ “I just want you to let me live my life my way and I’ll honour your way of life in return.” – What if the “ways” are irreconcilable? E.G. Don’t take my shit vs I’m having that to give use more productively elsewhere.

    tree2one

    March 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm

  126. @rex on fundamentalism
    I’m afraid I don’t buy your defence.
    Gippers position does entail forcing/cajoling/encouraging ‘individualism’ on others…
    “I do not believe that you can have consensus without first having victory.”

    I don’t want us all to think the same thing. But I dont want one side to be shouting “X is true, Y is false and anyone who says otherwise is deluded” and the other side shouting “Y is true, X is false and anyone who says otherwise is deluded”…because it reminds me of the fundamentalist groups I mention.

    All I want is what we seem to now have where we are trying to see what we CAN agree/compromise on. It is not betraying your beliefs to accept that X/Y with a bit of Y/X might work. If it is then that is what is fundamentalist.

    jackshaftoe

    March 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm

  127. @ Gippers position does entail forcing/cajoling/encouraging ‘individualism’ on others…
    “I do not believe that you can have consensus without first having victory.”

    Which is why I don’t think consensus is a worthy goal.
    Have I not made that clear enough?
    Precisely because I do not want to impose myself on anyone else.

    Rex – thank you.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  128. I am not saying you are deluded, I’m saying think what you like just don’t make me think that too.

    You are asking me to compromise my beliefs, Jack.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm

  129. Sorry wrong choice of words, should be –
    Betray my beliefs.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

  130. I think Rex was right in his summation that there is ‘some arbitrary idea that x amount of inequality (undefined as you show) is ok, and some other x amount of inequality isn’t.’ I didn’t miss this, it is what I think we have deal with because we all agree (I think) that we are stuck with inequality and that perfect equality is a nonsense (and ultimately not desirable). Quantifying ‘how much’ is acceptable/unacceptable is a job for economists/actuaries and various other experts, hopefully employed by the government, to decide and will change with the times. At the moment there are ridculous (life changing amount) bonuses going to people who have not performed well and we might all agree this should regulated? I agree that dormant money should be put to better use. Once people own all the shit they need and have enough wedge in the bank to live off for the rest of lives they SHOULD (moral imperavtive) give back to less fortunate people. Unfortunately I’m not sure that the ‘for every playboy there is a philanthropist’ agrument holds water.
    The middle-man does indeed need to be managed efficiently but you can’t just shoot him dead.
    I agree that the bail outs have been criminal. The government should have borrowed more money from the banks not loaned it to them.

    tree2one

    March 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

  131. the whole rest of that post is about you saying that your position needs victory! you dont want to impose your ways! of course you do…you want to impose a weak central govt, limited regulation etc etc!!!
    nothing wrong with that

    “It is not betraying your beliefs to accept that X/Y with a bit of Y/X might work. If it is then that is what is fundamentalist.”

    jackshaftoe

    March 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

  132. gipper – lets leave this. talk to you later…and get back to the rex/tree discussion on what we can agree on

    jackshaftoe

    March 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  133. @ the whole rest of that post is about you saying that your position needs victory!

    No it isn’t.
    It is outlining why all the fundamentalists you listed above need victory.
    Then I said that I don’t want consensus and if I don’t want consensus, then why do I need victory?

    I am not a libertarian, but I honestly do not care what anyone else does with their life, because I believe the individual is best equipped to make decisions about their life (except in extreme cases of course) and if you are not going to make good decisions don’t ask me to bail you out – but please show me the same respect.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm

  134. Sounds like a plan.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

  135. Tree – I don’t agree with the bonuses thing.
    I don’t care, what private companies do with their money.

    However, I do agree (WOW – let’s hug it out ;))that no private company should have got tax-payer money, they should have been allowed to fail.
    But, I have to qualify that somewhat – the banks wouldn’t have been in the mess they were in had not government implemented policies that basically forced the banks to give loans to unqualified people.
    And why did the government do this? Because it just isn’t ‘fair’ that some people get to own houses while others don’t. It’s all bullshit and now my children are in debt before they have really started their lives.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm

  136. My grammar is shocking in that last post.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm

  137. @ “I don’t care, what private companies do with their money.” – even if they are running public services?

    tree2one

    March 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm

  138. or you could say that the govt deregulated to allow banks as individuals to make their own decisions rather than be controlled by the state…

    jackshaftoe

    March 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm

  139. Well you could, if deregulation is the same as saying – you must loan this money to these people even if you know they can’t pay it back.
    And if the banks just decided this all on their own (I don’t believe they did), but then they are fuckwits and have no business being in business.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

  140. What happened there?
    I was on the phone, came back to edit it a couple of times and it posted itself???
    Anyway, go with #3.

    gipperfan

    March 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm


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