Millennials Like Socialism — Until They Get Jobs. Or Until a Pollster Tells Them That It Would Mean Tax Increases But Doesn’t Tell Them, for Example, That the Tax Increases Would Replace Healthcare Insurance Premiums and Out-Of-Pocket Medical Expenses. And Doesn’t Tell Them That “More Government Services” Means Something Other Than, Say, Trash Collection Twice a Week Instead of Once a Week.

Yves here. I do like this “rant in the headline” style from Beverly Mann. It takes the Daily Mail idea to a new level.

And the point is important. Research on cognitive bias shows again and again that people will respond to identical offers in economic terms when they are framed differently. And we’ve regularly discussed how small changes in wording in a poll, or the ordering of poll question, will produce significant differences in results. And those shadings are vastly less gross than the ones Mann describes.

By Beverly Mann. Originally published at Angry Bear

Okay, so the title of a Washington Post op-ed piece today by research fellow and director of polling at the Cato Institute Emily Ekins is “Millennials like socialism — until they get jobs.”  She knows that this is do because a recent Reason-Rupe poll—that’s libertarian magazine Reason, and some polling organization they hired—found that:

When tax rates are not explicit, millennials say they’d prefer larger government offering more services (54 percent) to smaller government offering fewer services (43 percent). However when larger government offering more services is described as requiring high taxes, support flips and 57 percent of millennials opt for smaller government with fewer services and low taxes, while 41 percent prefer large government.

Ah, yes; the ole, reliable, generic smaller-government-with-fewer-services-vs.-larger-government-with-more-services polling gimmick. Because of course everyone absolutely definitely, completely understands what the generic “services” are.  Like, say, trash pickup twice a week rather than once a week?

The survey was, by this writer’s undoubtedly accurate account, prompted by a recent Gallup survey that, to quote Ekins, found that an astounding 69 percent of millennials say they’d be willing to vote for a ‘socialist’ candidate for president — among their parents’ generation, only a third would do so.”  Spilling the beans about the motive for the Reason survey, she continues, “Indeed, national polls and exit polls reveal about 70 to 80 percent of young Democrats are casting their ballots for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a ‘democratic socialist’.”

Uh-oh.  And that was before Bloomberg released a poll yesterday showing Sanders’s support with a 1-point lead over Clinton nationally, with almost no undecideds: Sanders has 49% to Clinton’s 48%.

Ekins writes:

Millennials are the only age group in America in which a majority views socialism favorably. A national Reason-Rupe survey found that 53 percent of Americans under 30 have a favorable view of socialism compared with less than a third of those over 30. …

Yet millennials tend to reject the actual definition of socialism — government ownership of the means of production, or government running businesses. Only 32 percent of millennials favor “an economy managed by the government,” while, similar to older generations, 64 percent prefer a free-market economy. And as millennials age and begin to earn more, their socialistic ideals seem to slip away.

I dunno.  Ekins continues:

So what does socialism actually mean to millennials? Scandinavia. Even though countries such as Denmark aren’t socialist states (as the Danish prime minster has taken great pains to emphasize) and Denmark itself outranks the United States on a number of economic freedom measures such as less business regulation and lower corporate tax rates, young people like that country’s expanded social welfare programs.

Coming of age during the Great Recession, millennials aren’t sure if free markets are sufficient to drive income mobility and thus many are comfortable with government helping to provide for people’s needs. Indeed, a Reason-Rupe study found that 69 percent of millennials favor a government guarantee for health insurance and 54 percent support a guarantee for a college education. Perhaps most striking is that millennials favor a bigger government that provides more services — 52 percent of them do, compared with 38 percent of the nation overall.

Then she asks whether this will last.  “Are millennials ushering in a sea change of public opinion?,” she wonders.  “Do they signal the transformation of the United States into a Scandinavian social democracy?”

Her conclusion? That it depends.

Which indeed it does—on what the pollster tells the respondent and doesn’t tell the respondent about what the hell the question is getting at.  And what the question wants the respondent to think the underlying alternatives actually are.  Ekin reveals the answer to the latter:

There is some evidence that this generation’s views on activist government will stick. However, there is more reason to expect that support for their Scandinavian version of socialism may wither as they age, make more money and pay more in taxes.

The expanded social welfare state Sanders thinks the United States should adopt requires everyday people to pay considerably more in taxes. Yet millennials become averse to social welfare spending if they foot the bill. As they reach the threshold of earning $40,000 to $60,000 a year, the majority of millennials come to oppose income redistribution, including raising taxes to increase financial assistance to the poor.

Similarly, a Reason-Rupe poll found that while millennials still on their parents’ health-insurance policies supported the idea of paying higher premiums to help cover the uninsured (57 percent), support flipped among millennials paying for their own health insurance with 59 percent opposed to higher premiums.

When tax rates are not explicit, millennials say they’d prefer larger government offering more services (54 percent) to smaller government offering fewer services (43 percent). However when larger government offering more services is described as requiring high taxes, support flips and 57 percent of millennials opt for smaller government with fewer services and low taxes, while 41 percent prefer large government.

It’s downright shocking to me, a Sanders supporter, that millennials don’t want to pay higher insurance premiums, although since Sanders’s proposal would actually lower premiums and overall healthcare expenditures by individuals and employers I’m not sure what this actually says about millennials .  Or about the lasting appeal to them of Sanders’s healthcare proposal.

And at least to my knowledge (and I’m pretty sure I’m right), Sanders’s tax increases for middle-income people are mostly to pay the healthcare premium, although there is a payroll tax of $1.64 (or something) a week on everyone to pay for guaranteed paid family and medical leave.  I’m just not sure that false factual premises indicate much about how likely millennials are to change their political ideology.

But it does say something pretty clear about Ekins and the Cato Institute.  It says that they either can’t distinguish between apples and elephants, or that they pretend not to.  It also says something—a lot, actually, I think—about the Washington Post’s op-ed editors. The representation that the expanded social welfare state Sanders thinks the United States should adopt, including additional financial assistance to the poor, requires everyday people to pay considerably more in taxes is partly false and partly deeply misleading.  It is a line, however, that the Post’s editorial board and centrist opinion writers have been pushing since last summer, though, so it’s no surprise that that they published Ekins’s piece.

It also, though, says lot about most of the rest of the mainstream press, both in its inattention to Sanders’s campaign—NYT columnist Charles Blow documented this last week—and in its often misleading accounts of Sanders’s proposals, which to a surprisingly large extent relies on gross misrepresentations of the Scandinavian countries’ systems from which Sanders draws some of his proposals.  Including the falsehood discussed in this recent article by Finnish-bron writer Anu Partanen in The Atlantic Monthly titled “What Americans Don’t Get About Nordic Countries” and subtitled “When U.S. politicians talk about Scandinavian-style social welfare, they fail to explain the most important aspect of such policies: selfishness.”

But back to Ekins.  Her conclusion!  Which is that millennials will flip-flop on the big-government-big-taxes-vs.-small-government-vs.-low-taxes-especially-on-the-wealthy thing!  Well, I don’t want to misrepresent her, even slightly.  So here’s what she writes:

Millennials wouldn’t be the first generation to flip-flop. In the 1980s, the same share (52 percent) of baby boomers also supported bigger government, and so did Generation Xers (53 percent) in the 1990s. Yet, both baby boomers and Gen Xers grew more skeptical of government over time and by about the same magnitude. Today, only 25 percent of boomers and 37 percent of Gen Xers continue to favor larger government.

Many conservatives bemoan millennials’ increased comfort with the idea of “socialism.” But conservatives aren’t recognizing that in the 20th-century battle between free enterprise and socialism, free enterprise already won. In contrast with the 1960s and ’70s, college students today are not debating whether we should adopt the Soviet or Maoist command-and-control regimes that devastated economies and killed millions. Instead, the debate today is about whether the social welfare model in Scandinavia (which is essentially a “beta-test,” because it hasn’t been around long) is sustainable and transferable.

Hillary Clinton couldn’t have said it better—although she certainly has tried, repeatedly, in nearly every one of the debates and on the trail, usually in her favored sing-song soundbite style, often with a cutesy play on words or rhyming or alliteration, since she is clueless that this is extremely annoying and off-putting to many, many people.  (Well, to me, but I think probably to many, many others.)

Clinton repeatedly misrepresented the nature of Sanders’s single-payer healthcare plan.  Both she and her daughter told the public that Sanders’s proposal made state participation optional, like the ACA’s Medicaid provision.  Sanders’s proposal instead involves states in exactly the same way that the state-by-state insurance marketplaces that form the backbone of the ACA—the law that Clinton has campaigned on keeping—does: if a state government declines to establish its own setup within the narrow guidelines of the law, the federal government will do that for the state.

And, most important, Clinton intimated for months that the increased taxes that would pay for Sanders’s system would not replace the insurance premiums that employers, employees and those using the ACA’s marketplaces pay, as well as out-of-pocket expenses.  Clinton and her daughter both are very wealthy women, so they don’t sweat the cost of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.  So it was fine for her to obfuscate on this to prospective Democratic primary voters, on the theory that they too find it easy to pay private healthcare premiums and sometimes large deductibles and co-payments.

In the last debate, Clinton used a favorite line of her father’s: that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  The problem, though, is that it hasn’t been too god to be true in northern, central and most of southern Europe, in Australia, in Canada, in England, in Scotland, in Israel, in Taiwan, or in Japan.  All of them which have market economies.  None of them which fund their political campaigns through legalized bribery.  Clinton failed to mention that the reason why it nonetheless has been too good to be true in this country is the political power—i.e., the campaign funding—of private insurers and the pharmaceutical industry.

Ekins, for her part, closed her op-ed piece with this:

Millennials like free markets, and most already accept that free markets have done more to lift the world out of poverty than any other system. Instead, what this generation has to decide is whether higher education and health-care innovation, access, and high quality can be best achieved through opening these sectors to more free-market reforms or through increased government control. This is a debate we should be glad to have.

Actually it’s not their decision, any more than the scientific existence of man-made climate change is their decision.  Facts are facts, and in fact that fact itself is what they have decided.

A critical reason why social mobility has stalled almost completely in this country is that higher education is financially outright foreclosed to so many or requires the incurring of huge debt.  And, as the many Americans who died in, say, the last 20 years because of lack of access to healthcare can attest from the grave—and as the many millions who have struggled mightily (or are doing so now) to pay medical bills although they had insurance when they had the care, or who find it very difficult to pay the premiums even under the ACA, and the many millions who have found themselves paying large bills for out-of-network this or that, can discuss in live voices—health-care innovation, access, and high quality cannot be best achieved through opening these sectors to more free-market reforms.

Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland and the UK, among others, innovate.  Just as public grants in this country produce much of the medical innovation here.  And it’s not like the pharmaceutical industry would go broke if their profit margins were cut a bit.  They all also have high quality.  The difference is that everyone has access to it.

Ekins says she wants a debate on this, but what she really wants are poll results obtained through poll questions that offer fake alternatives and that impart false information.

We already have the answers to the questions she says she now wants to debate.  And maybe Reason’s next poll should mention that Medicare is a government service that people back in 1967 had to begin paying for through a tax.  And that unleaded drinking water and safe bridges are two other government services.  Sometimes.

____

UPDATE: Reader Jason and I just exchanged the following comments in the Comments thread:

Jason/ March 25, 2016 6:24 pm

“Raising taxes to increase financial assistance to the poor”? What program is Ekin referring to? Pretty much everything Sanders has proposed is universal, and the $15 minimum wage does not involve a tax increase. Sanders has gone after Clinton on welfare reform, but AFAIK, he hasn’t said anything about undoing it.

 

Me/ March 25, 2016 7:33 pm

Exactly, Jason. One of my pet peeves is major old-media, and therefore highly respected, publications that allow their op-ed columnists to make false statements of fact in their opinion pieces. They just slip in some false statement. The Washington Post is a routine offender on this, the NYT less so these days, but it still occurs. David Brooks used to do this often, but I think the Times put a stop to it when it became commonplace with him. Thomas Friedman did it about a month ago.

But what’s different here is that this writer is not a Post staffer. Didn’t an editor read the piece before accepting it for publication? Or was it just automatically accepted as submitted, regardless of blatant errors of fact, because she’s, well, a bigwig at a high-profile think tank?

Or maybe it’s just that, as I said in my post, they liked the idea of getting an additional voice onto their opinion pages that will make misrepresentations about Sanders’s policy proposals. Apparently no one on their staff had thought of this particular falsehood, or maybe it’s just easier to get away with it when the writer is a guest rather than a staffer.

Thanks for commenting.

Appalling.

Added 3/25 at 7:41 p.m.

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92 comments

  1. I Have Strange Dreams

    Good morning folks, and a joyful day it is as we celebrate the brightly Berning light of Easter. Does any website keep track of the lies spouted by the press? Something like politifact for journalists? I’m having no luck with the google machine. Thanks.

  2. I Have Strange Dreams

    More on topic, I take issue with Ekin’s sly definition of socialism as ” government ownership of the means of production, or government running businesses.”

    The Palgrave Dictionary of Economics site that she links to is actually a lot more inclusive in its definition:

    “A society may be defined as socialist if the major part of the means of production of goods and services is in some sense socially owned and operated, by state, socialized or cooperative enterprises. The practical issues of socialism comprise the relationships between management and workforce within the enterprise, the interrelationships between production units (plan versus markets), and, if the state owns and operates any part of the economy, who controls it and how.”

    As you can see, the Palgrave definition allows for ownership of enterprises by co-ops, or other worker based structures and, in general, the definition is a lot more flexible. In contrast to a Capitalist system, a socialist economy has the ability to be truly democratic and and respond more flexibly and equitably to people’s (we’re not consumers!) needs. We can have both flat screen TVs and cheap drugs.

    Oh, and Bernie is not advocating for a socialist economy; he wants social democracy! – More lies from the Cato dirtbags.

  3. Cry Shop

    and socialism means public ownership of the greatest threat and benefit to the 99%, the environment & public commons, instead of this waiting for capitalism to come up with it’s promised solution to climate change.

  4. gardener1

    Bernie Sanders won all three states yesterday in the first west coast caucuses, WA, AK and HI. He won the state of Washington by a fecking landslide

    Outside of that Yves, the article needs editing (not your fault). It is rift with construction and typos.

    I have no idea how to interpret this – “kay, so the title of a Washington Post op-ed piece today by research fellow and director of polling at the Cato Institute Emily Ekins is “Millennials like socialism — until they get jobs.” She knows that this is do because a recent Reason-Rupe poll”….

    I give up very quickly when trying to comprehend gibberish like that.

    1. HotFlash

      No problem, I read typo fluently! For instance, “It is rift with construction and typos” should read “it is rife with construction errors and typos”.

      The passage you mention, “She knows that this is do because a recent Reason-Rupe poll…” should read “She knows that this is so because a recent Reason-Rupe poll…”

      You’re welcome.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a cross post, so I don’t feel at liberty to change the text. I could have put [sic]s in or said something at the top.

  5. diptherio

    Typo alert:

    Research on cognitive bias shows again and again that people will respond [differently] to identical offers in economic terms when they are framed differently.

    This Emily Ekins person is mightily confused about the state of the world. The assumption that people currently in their twenties will “earn more” as they get older is laughably outdated. What world is she living in? And the strict definition of Socialism as state control of production is a little odd, given that even China now features private ownership of production, much less the Scandahoovians.

    What’s really bizarre about this kind of writing, though, is the assumption that most people (young people, in this case) actually have some theory of a just economy (ranging from free-market to state-socialism) that they consciously adjust over the years. Uh….no. Most people are just trying to get by and provide as good of a life as possible for themselves and their families, and will support anything that seems to offer the promise of improved living standards, without consideration for what theory of economics underlies the policy. Maybe if Reason did a poll of free-market supporters and asked them about their feelings on Social Security and Medicare, they’d figure it out. Then they could run an op-ed titled “Boomers Hate Socialism–Until They Qualify for Medicare”

    Typical academic, mistaking their own conceptualizations of the world for the world. Poor dumb bastards…

      1. polecat

        She’s on Pandora, clutching her unobtanium. What she doesn’t realize is that we’re starting to rise from the mud her and the rest of our betters have kept us under, to bring the likes of her down sooner or later, and eat their eyes for jujubes, metaphorically speaking of course!

    1. jrs

      They would probably be better off if they did have a theory of a just economy, even if they didn’t have some grand answer to everything, they would be better off IF THEY THOUGHT about such things and knew the historical basis. If they thought about all the theories proposed, and all the theories practiced in human history. Only that would really make them immune to propaganda. How is flying by the seat of our pants working?

  6. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

    Or, until someone tells them that federal taxes do not fund federal spending, so all the socialism in the world would not require even $1 worth of taxes (i.e Monetary Sovereignty).

    But sadly, even Sanders has not said that. He knows it, of course, which is why he has Stephanie Kelton working for him. She understands.

    But he believes America is not yet ready for the basic Truth of Monetary Sovereignty, so he juggles non-existent tax increase needs, and pretends the federal government could run out of dollars, were it not for federal taxes.

    If he is elected, I have no doubt he will increase federal spending, cut federal taxes, increase the so-called “debt” and deficit, and make America (especially the middle class) more prosperous than in decades.

    The so-called “debt” (actually nothing more than deposits in T-security accounts at the FRB) will soar, which is a good thing, and the ignorant will howl, just as they have been howling every year since 1940, when they called the so-called “debt” a “ticking time bomb.”

    That ol’ time bomb stills a’ticking, and America stills a’growing, and the ignorant still are a’howling. So goes the world.

    1. Uahsenaa

      I imagine avoiding MMT and macro-economic policy in general is a function of needing to get across a message in a media environment profoundly hostile to him and which for the most part is only looking for the next sound bite or headline. In that environment, something like “rigged economy,” “1% received the overwhelming majority of all income,” or “free college tuition” stands a chance of getting through, whereas, “the government provides services by first spending money long before ever taking in any tax dollars, which is demonstrated clearly by the program of quantitative easing the Fed engaged in in the years following…” does not. I think Sanders has to pick his battles, especially against an opponent who isn’t above simply lying her tuchas off at every turn.

      1. Higgs Boson

        @Uahsenaa @Rodger Malcolm Mitchell – Good luck with trying to explain that. This blog at cepr.org is an example: Magical Thinking: Sanders, Clinton, and the Federal Reserve Board.

        The comments responding to MMT boil down to 1) MMT is fairy tales concocted by Warren Mosler; 2) MMT wants to disassociate government spending from taxation, which would make it unaccountable to the will of the people (as if it already isn’t ).

        And yes, those are responses to my comment.

    2. Vatch

      federal taxes do not fund federal spending,

      Actually, taxes do fund most federal spending. The only way that one can claim that taxes do not fund federal spending is if one asserts that money is destroyed every time that a payment is made to the federal government. One can easily see the flaw in this by analyzing a case in which a taxpayer goes to his local IRS office and pays his income tax in cash. Does the Treasury Department immediately burn that money? Of course not.

      A far better formulation is this:

      Loans do not fund federal spending.

      Some, not all, federal spending occurs when the government creates new money and increases the money supply. But this only happens the first time that the government spends that money. After the money circulates through the economy, it will come back to the government in the form of taxes, and that tax money helps to fund the government.

      1. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

        Yes, money is destroyed every time a payment is made to the federal government.

        U.S. dollars are created in two ways and destroyed in 2 ways:

        Created:
        1. Loans
        2. Federal deficit spending.

        Destroyed:
        3. Loans paid off
        4. Federal taxes.

        #s 1 and 2 increase the money supply. #s 3 and 4 decrease the money supply.

        As for your IRS example, paper currency is not money. It is a certificate representing money. Just as a car title is not a car, and a house title is not a house, a dollar bill is not a dollar. (See: A Dollar Bill is Not A Dollar . . .)

        If you bring your dollar bills to the IRS office, these pieces of paper may or may not be destroyed by the U.S. Treasury, depending on their condition. In either event, the dollars are destroyed once they hit the Treasury.

        The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a part of the Treasury Department, has in storage trillions upon trillions of paper dollars, some in big sheets and some already cut into bills. None of these are money.

        They only become money when they are issued to the public, and they cease to be money when they are sent back to the government.

        In short, the federal government has no dollars. It creates dollars, ad hoc, when it pays bills.

        How does it pay a bill? It sends instructions (not dollars) to a creditor’s bank, instructing the bank to increase the balance in the creditor’s checking account. At the moment the bank increases the balance — and not before — dollars are created. (Instructions are in the form of checks or wires.)

        1. Vatch

          I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This is overly arcane, and it resembles the metaphysical doctrine of occasionalism, which claims that the illusion of causation occurs when God explicitly causes one event after another. One may rationally claim that God started the universe, just as one may rationally claim that government creates money by spending it into existence. But when a cue ball collides with another billiard ball and makes that ball move, it isn’t an instance of God directly intervening in the material world. Once money has been created, it remains in existence when it is spent, whether that spending is a purchase of goods or services, or the payment of taxes.

          Government spending that exceeds the amount of tax receipts is not financed by taxation. I agree about that. But I deny that money goes poof every time that people pay their taxes.

          If people don’t pay taxes, the money supply will grow so rapidly that government will collapse. Taxation is required for the funding of government operations.

          1. diptherio

            If people don’t pay taxes, the money supply will grow so rapidly that government will collapse.

            The old hyper-inflation argument. Taxes sterilize spending.

            Taxation is required for the funding of government operations.

            Uh…so which one is it? You can’t have it both ways. The first statement is closer to reality, although so hyperbolic as to be completely misleading. The second statement is just wrong. The Treasury is required by law to offset its spending, net of taxes, through borrowing. It’s a legal requirement, not a practical, operational one.

            There are reasons to impose taxes. Funding federal spending is not one of them. We should stop lying to ourselves. How the f— will we ever arrive at any solutions if we insist on maintaining the fiction of this “old time religion” (as Paul Samuelson put it)? Solutions start with honesty, and saying that taxes fund spending is not honest. If you think that taxes keep spending from causing inflation, say that.

            The way you’re going right now, next you’ll be telling us that government really does need to operate like a household (it must, if taxes fund spending).

            1. Vatch

              Taxes fund government spending, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that taxes fund all government spending. The budget deficit represents the part of government that is funded by the creation of money, and the rest of the government is funded by taxation.

          2. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

            You said, “If people don’t pay taxes, the money supply will grow so rapidly that government will collapse. ”

            You also said, “Once money has been created, it remains in existence when it is spent, whether that spending is a purchase of goods or services, or the payment of taxes.”

            Hmmm . . . Without taxes, the money supply will grow, but taxes don’t destroy money.

            And you don’t see a logical problem with that???

            1. HotFlash

              This thread is *precisely* an example of why Bernie is wise to refrain from mentioning MMT until he has the nomination, at least, or the presidency (please that it be so). Perhaps not even then. It’s pretty clear that the bank bail-outs, the defense budget, yada, are not ‘funded by taxes’, maybe he will just be able to do everything and not actually have to mention where the $$ come from. After all, *they* don’t.

            2. Vatch

              Without taxes, the money supply will grow, of course. That doesn’t mean that paying taxes destroys money. It means that the government isn’t creating new money to cover the missing tax money. Paying taxes prevents the need to create new money, because the money is not destroyed. It remains in existence.

              Try to imagine what would happen if nobody paid their taxes. Many functions of government would simply cease to exist.

              1. Moneta

                This thread brings back old memories from university…like when my roomate’s boyfriend somehow became a live in and started eating my food. When I approached my friend about the problem she quickly corrected me… He boyfriend was not eating my food. He was eating her food and she was eating mine…

              2. John Zelnicker

                @Vatch – If nobody paid their taxes the federal government would still have no problem continuing to create dollars the same way it does now, by computer keystrokes instructing banks to increase the dollar balances of the recipient’s account. It doesn’t need taxes to do that, which is why Rodger is correct. No government functions would cease to exist.

                If you want to believe that the deficit (spending in excess of tax revenue) is the only “new money” created, I think that’s okay as long as you understand that ultimately the tax revenue is not necessary and that if tax revenue fell to zero the government would still be able to fund all of its operations.

                1. Vatch

                  if tax revenue fell to zero the government would still be able to fund all of its operations.

                  In the short run this is true. But after a few years, the cumulative effects would become increasingly severe, and the government would either have to drastically reduce their operations, or impose taxes.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    Sigh. No this is not true. The US government can always create more money to fund its operation. Its constraint is creating too much inflation. It uses taxes to control that.

                    The fact that most people in DC don’t get that is why the government is not running big enough deficits and as a result, the economy is sucky.

                    1. ambrit

                      Might I quibble and suggest that ‘most people’ in DC depend on “experts” to ‘explain’ the arcana of finance to them? (Perhaps your contacts inside the Beltway will contradict my assertion? I honestly don’t know the truth of the matter. I do, after all, take “Yes Minister” as a pretty good approximation of the reality of “Public Service.”.) Thus, assuming that the ‘experts’ are up to speed, the economy is ‘sucky’ on purpose; which purpose is another argument entirely.

                    2. Moneta

                      While using taxes to control inflation is indeed a tool in the toolbox, I don’t see the system working on that basis today. Today, I don’t think the tax system is being used to control inflation, it is there as a legacy.

                      Our North American systems started with no government debt. Then over time, government was allowed to issue bonds for special projects but the underlying assumption was always that these would get repaid. Then the US dollar became the reserve currency and it was noticed that the US could generate deficits without getting penalized like non-reserve currency countries. Therefore, since the 70s the concept of deficits has been promoted by a growing segment of the population. But the use of deficits triggers a bigger question… why not just use deficits and why even bother with taxes? I think this is where we are currently in the debate with a majority still clinging to the old mechanics in the system and a growing percentage pushing for deficit funding only.

                      Those promoting deficits do understand that there would need to be some controls on money printing and that’s when using taxes to control it comes into the equation.

                      But then the question becomes if we can’t convince anyone to pay more taxes today, how do the MMTers plan on tinkering with taxes when needed? Another question is who will be the arbiter of good deficits v. bad ones? The checks and balances still need a lot of work. Especially those based on psychology.

                    3. Vatch

                      The US government can always create more money to fund its operation. Its constraint is creating too much inflation. It uses taxes to control that.

                      That’s part of my point. If new money is created every time the government spends money, the rate of inflation would be disastrous. Of course I know that the government can spend anything that they want without using taxes. But doing so would be catastrophic.

                      And the initial post about this said that “federal taxes do not fund federal spending”. That is false. At this time federal taxes do fund most federal spending and the taxes are also used to control inflation.

                      Is it possible to completely fund federal spending without taxes? Yes. Is it happening now? No. Would it be desirable to do so? No.

        2. Paul Tioxon

          A dollar bill is not a dollar, it represents a dollar. What kind of Platonic bullshit are you peddling. This is beneath arcane, it’s stupid. So where are the dollars? Floating in the mind of humanity’s collective socialization? Of course a dollar is a dollar. The abstract dependence of numbers being a part of something, a one, a five, a ten or twenty….DOLLAR BILL is the representation. Take it to the bank and deposit it in a DDA, a Demand Deposit Account, and you will have dollars in your account equal to the dollars you deposited. Plus equal to the dollars someone else directly deposits. If the dollar was not a dollar, the bank would never deposit it into your account. A dollar, whether in the form of paper or metal currency, is still a dollar. A DDA can contain dollars which are not paper or metal. A dollar can behave like a particle or a wave, it can be both and still be a dollar, it does not have to be exclusively one or the other. Saying a dollar is not a dollar is only revealing your inability to communicate.

          The menu is not the meal. You need to eat food and the menu will not sustain you. When the bill comes, your dollar will most certainly pay for the meal, it won’t be rejected by some smart alec saying a dollar is not a dollar, but only represents a dollar, just as the menu represented food. A dollar is a dollar, can be used for all debts public and private and can be deposited in the bank. The fact that a dollar is using symbols, numbers, to represent economic units of account for the economy as a whole does not diminish its authenticity as a functional, real, honest to in god we trust, dollar.

          Your meta-conversation about dollars, does not trans-substantiate the dollar into something else, not a dollar, it merely becomes part of a discussion about dollars in general. The abstraction process does not kill off its actual role in society as a dollar in your pocket. It can be abstractly referred to and be a dollar. You might want to theorize about a dollar serving a cybernetic function, not referring to it as a NOT-Dollar, with a Platonic Ideal Dollar giving substance to all NOT-Dollars. The abstraction process frequently has thinkers referring to the abstraction process and making claims about the subject under analysis, only as the abstract matter of discussion, and forgetting that what we are talking about is something in everyday use, such as a dollar. When you talk like this, you become bewitched by language and think that the talking about something like, pain, is the same as pain. Go hit your thumb with a hammer, and then write about how pain is not really pain, but represents the pain in your writing. Then go to the doctor to have her look at your thumb.

          1. I Have Strange Dreams

            Meditate on this, Paul: what is the difference between a dollar bill, a dollar coin, and a dollar in your bank account? One is made of paper, one is made of metal, one is made of 1s and 0s stored on a database. Yet, we refer to all of them as “dollars”. Why?

            Here is a hint: What is the difference between a yardstick and a yard? (or a meter rule and a meter).

            “So where are the dollars? Floating in the mind of humanity’s collective socialization?” – Yes. Money is a social construction.

            The dollar bill is a “money object” that happens to have the same name as the unit of account known also as the dollar. Some money objects function exactly like dollars – bearer bonds, treasuries, but their function as money objects is more transparent.

    3. Moneta

      So MMT will help with redistribution and America will go from consuming 40% of world resources and energy to 50%? Or will it destroy malinvestment and see a more productive economy consuming a shrinking share of world resources?

      1. HotFlash

        As usual, the devil is in the details. In a way it reminds me of Hell. I am an atheist, some of my God-fearing neighbours have by times expressed doubt that I can “be good” without the prospect of eternal punishment in Hell to keep me on the straight and narrow.

        What do you think? Right thing for the wrong reasons does not scale well, reach over time or correctly deal with complicated situations. How do we deal with this?

        1. Moneta

          I think we’ve already been using MMT fo a few decades. It’s what has led us down the rabbit hole… The only thing left is to convince that deficits don’t matter.

          The thing is deficits do matter when you have malinvestment.

          While I believe we are stuck in a situation that requires deficits, I do not believe it will lead to what the middle class wants.

          1. John Zelnicker

            @Moneta – As Bill Mitchell (billy blog) puts it, there are “good deficits” and “bad deficits”. Good deficits fund productive aspects of our economy (infrastructure, education, a Job Guarantee). Bad deficits go to the financial engineers of Wall Street and do nothing to promote the general welfare of the populace.

        2. ambrit

          I am married to a “believer.” We have some ‘vigourous conversations’ about similar matters from time to time. (Occasionally, ‘the Devil’ ends up being observed to be in me.)
          It can be viewed as a case of having a “Fed” for ethics. A pragmatic view would suggest that the outcomes are pretty much the main focus. While the Inquisition, as practiced in many religions throughout time, ends up murderously counter productive, the QE mirrors this process in that the ‘unintended’ consequences ‘gum up the works’ economically.
          Even Dante had to create an outer ring around the walls of H— in which to place the “virtuous Pagans.”

    4. nothing but the truth

      here we go full MMT-tard again.

      confusing technicality of the system with the meaning. like confusing the code of the airplane with the plane itself. “there is no need to take that flight, just change the variable in the code and it will print out *welcome to la guardia* “. This is money illusion gone bonkers.

      it goes like this:

      “1) since money is keystrokes, therefore money can be created at will. 2) Hence our problems in life are due to lack of keyboard punches”.

      1 is true, 2 is not.

      when a system is created, t goes as why->what->how. You can’t tinker with the “how” (code) and pretend to invalidate the “why”.

      The financial system exists as a way to manage the real economy. By saying expenditure need not be funded is juvenile. That is basically asking for infinite (or, completely politically arbitrary) spending of money in a world of finite resources.

    1. Massinissa

      Oh puhlease. Im not even convinced Trump isnt preferable to Clinton. I would rather have a Republican than eight more years of someone like Obama pacifying the Left.

      Sorry, still voting for the Greens in the fall if Klinton is elected.

      1. Bill Michtom

        You don’t think the Donald would destroy reproductive health care? You’re willing to see Muslims sent to camps and minorities shot down even more often

        Want another Scalia on the court?

        Puhlease yourself.

        1. jrs

          Uh they said they were voting for Jill Stein. So even if Trump favors that (doubtful although I don’t like they guy and think he’s entirely unqualified and unstable) do you have any evidence that Jill Stein wants to destroy reproductive health care, send Muslims to camps and shoot down minorities?

          We’re just sick of playing the lesser of two evils with two extreme evils.

        2. HotFlash

          “Want another Scalia on the court?”

          Oho! No, we get a Merrick Garland! Isn’t that just great? Ring the merry bells!

          But really, I have to say, I just don’t vote for war criminals, m’kay? I feel like it makes me an accessory, or something.

        3. Massinissa

          “You’re willing to see Muslims sent to camps ”

          Hahahahaha are you serious?!

          “minorities shot down even more often”

          Presidents have no control over this, actually.

          “You don’t think the Donald would destroy reproductive health care?”

          This is the only one that’s remotely possible. But I would rather have reproductive health care destroyed than watch Hillary destroy more countries like Libya.

          “Want another Scalia on the court?”

          Because Obama’s nominations like Sandoval and Garland have been sooooo much more liberal. Sandoval wasn’t even a Democrat.

          Anyway, Im tired of this nonsense that, if I don’t tow the line and vote for the ‘lesser evil’, im somehow responsible when the other guy wins. Pretty sure that’s a logical fallacy.

          Anyway, Im with HotFlash on not voting for people who destroy countries. I would rather be held responsible for Trumps presidency (even though I find that entirely illogical) than vote for another Imperialist like Hillary. At least with Trump we have no idea if he is going to be imperialist or not and destroy countries that don’t kowtow to the Washington Consensus.

  7. washunate

    Millennials have long embraced socialism (if by that we basically mean European style regulated capitalism).

    I think what this kind of language shows is that the panacea of big government is not all it’s cracked up to be. You have to be more specific.

    Millennials have grown up with the DEA as a government service. They don’t exactly want more of that. Or the TSA. Or prisons. Or the Patriot Act. Or the Iraq war. Or defense contracting. Healthcare doesn’t need to be bigger. It needs to be universal. Polluting car sewers don’t need to be bigger. They need to be supplemented by trains.

    On and on, it’s the framework of ‘big government’ itself that is outdated.

  8. TG

    I recall the oft misquoted/misattributed: “If you’re not a socialist before 25….”

    This is news?

    1. diptherio

      I think that was Milton Friedman, but I may be mis-remembering…at any rate, the sentiment expressed in the quote is as BS as this poll.

      1. Massinissa

        Everyone has quoted it at some point, but the original version was said by a French politician of some sort over half a decade ago.

        1. Vatch

          According to Wikiquote’s Churchill page, a Frenchman said something similar to this more than a century ago:

          The earliest example of this quotation is found in Jules Claretie’s Portraits Contemporains (1875), where the following remark is ascribed to lawyer and academic Anselme Polycarpe Batbie: “Celui qui n’est pas républicain à vingt ans fait douter de la générosité de son âme; mais celui qui, après trente ans, persévère, fait douter de la rectitude de son esprit” (English: “He who is not a republican at twenty compels one to doubt the generosity of his heart; but he who, after thirty, persists, compels one to doubt the soundness of his mind”).

          They go on to say that variations of this have also been attributed to Bismarck, Disraeli, and George Bernard Shaw.

  9. Phil

    Right now, equities are held not only by thousands of individuals, but by funds that represent millions of individuals. Are these individuals or funds “capitalists”? I don’t think so. I am not even sure they should be called “bourgeois.”

    If we are going to go back to capitalism–where ownership of the means of production is by the individual–I say we do it properly: the individual owns all, or nothing. I’ll compromise, by saying, no more corporations; partnerships would do the job.

    Until that time, we have, as has wisely been said elsewhere, “socialism for the rich”; where only rich people own the means of production, but gain the advantages of socialism through corporate forms: shared, collectivist, socialized capitalism, undertaking no risk, and obtaining all the reward.

    1. HotFlash

      ‘Right now, equities are held not only by thousands of individuals, but by funds that represent millions of individuals. Are these individuals or funds “capitalists”? I don’t think so. I am not even sure they should be called “bourgeois.”’

      Perhaps deluded victims? People trying to save for their retirement who have been shafted by *artificially* low and now negative interest rates as ‘public’ policy? Marks? Dunno, what do you think? I’ve been following the CalPERS story (thank you, Yves) and it looks seriously scam-like to me.

      1. swendr

        I call them human shields. It’s not much different than when Saddam Hussein parked a bunch of his military gear in civilian areas to protect it. When someone mentions writedowns or wall street reforms, they say “What about the widows and orphans?” Then, before you know it, we’re back on the austerity.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    “….a bigger government that provides more services…” is deliberately vague. On the rare occasions that I don’t simply hang up on people calling with opinion polls, the callers generally get an earful when they ask questions like that.

    The department of homeland security is an expansion of government that provides more services, mainly giving poor underpaid government employees an excuse to grope people as they try to get through an airport. I’m against that particular ‘service’. But I’d like a single payer healthcare program as not dying because I don’t have the right insurance seems like a nice perk.

  11. tegnost

    I hope those millenials she targets making 40-60k are still on their parents policy because if they aren’t they’re getting killed by obamacare premiums as I believe no subsidy above 44k? Add in student loan payment (crass generalization alert) rich peoples kids aren’t going for jobs that only pay 40-60k, indeed median range of nephews degree (fully paid by hillary supporting grandparents and parents ’cause student loans are a de facto head start for those who don’t need them) was searched out on the google one family dinner and to some consternation “only” starts at 70k (“Well I hope thats not all…”). People like Ekins and the WaPo editorial board are classists in favor of continued classism. This 40-60k number could also be aimed at college students who at this point don’t realize how completely screwed those with loans are, especially in regard to their “full boat” peers. As made clear by others this piece is just more push propaganda hoping to reduce the horrendous racket made by the hordes pounding on the gates of the castle.

    1. jrs

      Most jobs that pay 40-60k have health insurance as a benefit as they need it to attract people who earn that much. 40-60k is good money most places (alright not in New York City or San Francisco – I’ll grant that). People earning above median income can complain about their income, but it’s kind of obscene to do so while so many in this country are homeless and minimum wage isn’t even a living wage.

      1. Bill Michtom

        To the idea that 40-60K is good money:

        Here’s want it takes to get by in Iowa, for example:
        Required annual income before taxes
        1 Adult $20,659
        1 Adult 1 Child $44,252
        1 Adult 2 Children $53,685
        2 Adults (One Working) 1 Child $40,989

        http://livingwage.mit.edu/states/19

        You can get more specific data for locales around the country if you want to see exactly how out of touch you are.

        1. jrs

          I’m in California so I’m so out of touch with Iowa. Laughable. I agree buying a house is more than most people around here can do but it’s also not mandatory. I live in an apartment, I see people raising kids in apartment buildings. Do you think most people insist their income must be 6 figures to raise kids? Two incomes of 60k is 6 figures …

          Most people with kids both parents work, So at 40-60k EACH especially at the higher end yes it supports the kids. You are saying a 120k income doesn’t support kids in Iowa? It’s way way way way more than the median. I seldom see only one parent working to support kids if the parents are married. Now if your point is being a single parent is hard. Uh everyone knows that, whom exactly is that news to? And yes getting rid of welfare was a bad idea.

          Do you think the homeless people have much sympathy for those earning 60k a year and whining? Do you think those going to bed hungry do? Or those earning minimum wage? Or those in the 3rd world? I think those 50 or 60k people should realize how bad everyone else has it even though they may still have something to complain about with health insurance or something like that maybe, but their income less so.

    2. HotFlash

      It’s also worth mentioning somewhere that the path to a ‘good’ job for the (over) educated generally involves an *unpaid* internship — now whose kids can afford that? Hint: not middle class parents’ kids.

  12. digi_owl

    Never mind that the American definition of socialism is basically a mess thanks to multiple generations of cold war propaganda…

  13. Glen

    Really!

    Like millenials trust or even read the WaPo.

    But even assuming they do, she leaves out her number one reason to support her argument:

    Because you are stupid enough to believe this tripe.

  14. susan the other

    more beverly mann please… it almost takes a rant to stay on point these days, with all the obfuscation… just reading about the many misrepresentations of socialism makes me wonder why nobody writes about all the misrepresentations of capitalism. Nobody wants to discuss socialism for the rich or socializing losses, etc. Or the fact that the one and only mandate for the Fed is to protect the purchasing power of the dollar. It can save the purchasing power of the dollar or it can save what’s left of a democratic economy. Place your bets. It also might be instructive to look at MMT as a tool that was co-opted and used for socializing losses, in a perverted attempt to maintain political control for the rich where not a dime was put to use in the real economy… so, tell me again, what exactly is capitalism? Blatant theft?

      1. Bill Michtom

        Capitalism: The unsettling belief that someone, somewhere, may still have enough to eat.

        1. Massinissa

          Capitalism: The unsettling notion that its ok for some people to have more than they need when others do not have what they need to survive.

  15. Joe Kapoe

    The two main buzzwords for economic systems are packed with reactionary baggage, but beyond the politics of this baggage, I sense a widespread dissatisfaction with a pseudo consensus that economic systems need to be based on greed and selfish motivations. Classic economic theory relys heavily on this premise. Are people inherantly as selfish as this system assumes?

    Many of us are trying to imagine something outside the box of deadening corporate military consumerism with all it’s sick consequences or “externalities” like inequality, corruption, poisoned environments. Gar Alperowitz has much good writing on the topic of what would an economic system look like if it isn’t based on the worst examples of capitalism or socialism. There is already a lot developing outside the box of either/or thinking: cooperatives, land trusts, municipal corporations, public banks.

    See Alperowitz’s item in the Nation, 2/11/16- “Socialism in America is Closer Than You Think.”

  16. jrs

    You would think jobs would drive them hard left to the point they starting dreaming of “worker ownership of the means of production” or worker co-ops at least, so that they could have some say in their work other than being powerless cogs taking meaningless orders. Why it might even drive one start dreaming of a Guaranteed Income! And at least understand the need for the union movement – because it is standing up for WORKERS, like them!

    Jobs made me sympathetic to all this in a way that only working can, and only working can really make one sympathetic this way. Because working reveals the capitalist h*ll for what it is. It also sometimes reveals how corrupt it can all be and how scary it can be to be unemployed (and then you want a safety net), and how one’s employment or not depends on whims one can’t control, and how scary it can be to keep one’s soul among the depredations that is capitalism, and not surrender to being a part of doing harm just to collect a paycheck.

    Living in capitalism in the powerless role (as a worker – as a consumer you have some power) can make one anti-capitalist.

    I think if one happens to live through a strong job market locally or nationally capitalism doesn’t seem so harsh though. But it is, it’s just playing nice.

    1. clincial wasteman

      Yes, yes and yes! And so on, I lost count of the essential truths in those four paragraphs. Thanks again, jrs.
      Just one footnote:
      – The only thing other than working that can ‘really make one sympathetic in that way’ is unemployment, at least when the unemployed worker desperately needs the income and while daily life as a welfare claimant — in the UK system anyway — is a matter of forced soul-sale and coercion by managerial whim that matches the most futile, powerless job. Not by accident, of course: cross-party policy is the Workhouse minus the ‘house’ part: make joblessness so horrible that you’ll beg for any degradation with a wage attached then claw your co-workers’ flesh out to keep it. Out-of-work misery is also supposed to be edifying, a lesson in the Life Skill of servility that you’ll need once they deign to hire you. The policy is apparently “popular” with Focus Groups (but see article above on relative trusting/throwing distances), perhaps thanks to decades-old efforts to pass public punishment off as proof of its victims’ guilt.
      The polite term for the whole circus is “Labour Market Competitiveness”. Accurate enough I guess once you bury the “positive” connotation under Samuel Beckett’s bitter, hollow and mirthless types of laugh. More to the point though — and likewise true of personal and global blackmail at the same time — would be Punitive Accumulation.

  17. zapster

    What’s missing is a good list of all the ways that private rents–profits, etc. take money out of everyone’s pockets. It’s not just the obvious health-insurance premiums and interest payments on student loans, etc. It’s also inflated prices on everything that has borrowed capital involved in it’s production. Every credit-card charge, every bank fee, on and on and on. We need some good quantitative studies on what those costs are, and what savings can be procured for everyone by replacing them with a much-smaller tax. What matters is the net, of course. Since our health insurance costs 5x as much, the tax should save us 4/5 of that. I can live with that.

    1. washunate

      I agree to a certain extent, but in personal finance for the non-affluent, it mostly is the obvious things, and that’s why focusing on them is important.

      The bulk of living expenses are eaten up just by housing, healthcare, and higher education. Add transportation and food and that’s pretty much the budget. The other things are generally small in comparison (computers, clothing, etc.) or simply unobtainable (significant vacations, meaningful retirement savings, etc.).

      Also, be careful using things like the MIT calculator. It is looking at an extremely limited view of living. The cost of a decent living is notably higher.

  18. Kim Kaufman

    Our side needs to get ahead of this asap so we define what socialism is (or what version of socialism would provide the greatest good to the most not the 1%) before Cato and others like them do.

  19. jrs

    “And as millennials age and begin to earn more, their socialistic ideals seem to slip away.”

    Only a lot of them WON’T earn more and they may well earn less when they are no longer employer’s desired youthful hires but are a bunch of gray hairs heading for the discards pile. And then they will see what one is less likely to see when young (although some homeless etc. youth do), how society can entirely discard still living, breathing, vital, human beings! What about the 45-55 year old or so white people that are killing themselves with suicide or drug overdoses? Earning more? They are killing themselves in part because of this economic system and because they see no economic hope. They are not earning more. What about Trumps older voters? (he’s not exactly drawing the youthful vote) They may be misguided and some hateful, but many of them aren’t earning more. You only earn more as you get older if you make 100% the right moves when young and have luck on your side as well. Many don’t.

    “Yet millennials tend to reject the actual definition of socialism — government ownership of the means of production, or government running businesses. Only 32 percent of millennials favor “an economy managed by the government,” while, similar to older generations, 64 percent prefer a free-market economy.”

    debatable that this is the definition of socialism, worker co-ops are socialist no? But when I think about worker co-ops and their struggle in this economy which pushes everything not to value the the triple bottom line of firm, worker, and social welfare, then I think the M*rxist may be right on what must be done. Government favoring (not owning) socially responsible enterprises like co-ops etc. rather than favoring anti-social capital at present might be enough. But that might take more than a political revolution (hence the M*rxists are right). Only completely environmental collapse might argue government control, maybe, but we might be heading there.

    Short of that a union movement to make sure employees at least got some representation would also help. And why not have employee representation on the board of directors? I want MUCH MORE than just watered down (not even Scandinavian levels – nothing Sanders proposes really matches Denmark with it’s very low gini coefficients etc. – Americans don’t even realize what Scandinavia really has!!!) social democracy, but they aren’t running a successful Presidential campaign and Sanders is ….

    1. Massinissa

      “debatable that this is the definition of socialism”

      Wikipedia has a good definition IMO.

      “Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production;”

      Note that ‘social ownership’ and ‘government ownership’ are not necessarily the same thing. Even Anarchism technically falls under socialism, and that’s as close as you can get to the opposite of state control.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why are inflation rates more or less the same in countries with vast taxation rates?

    Or at least not correlated?

    Is it because inflation is also dependent on government spending, so that low inflation can be neutralized with more government spending and vice versa?

    That is to say, we can control, or attempt to control, inflation via 1. taxation and 2. government spending?

    Which should be given a higher priority or preference? Should both be at least on the discussion table, and not just one?

  21. Elizabeth Burton

    Has anyone checked to see if Jeff Bezos is a contributor to the Cato? Because that would, in a nutshell, explain why this blatant piece of Kochtopus propaganda saw the light of day.

  22. Lee

    The problem for millennials is that so many of them can’t get jobs commensurate with their education and student debt, so I imagine they’ll view socialism positively for quite some time to come. Let us not forget that revolutions are lead by unemployed intellectuals.

    Meanwhile, over at Daily Kos there is red hot discussion about Sanders’ appeal among minorities. He just clobbered Clinton in Hawaii, the least white state in the nation, but some are arguing that Asians kind of don’t count, not like African Americans anyway. http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/3/27/1506782/-Bernie-Wins-Hawaii-Most-Diverse-State-in-Nation-and-Markos-Retires-From-Punditry

    And another, ironically entitled: Breaking News Bernie Turns Hawaii into a Majority White State
    http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/3/27/1506709/-Breaking-News-Bernie-turns-Hawaii-into-a-majority-white-state

    Ah, the joys of tribalism.

  23. Steve H.

    Curious, no one has challenged the basic notion of Millennials as a falsifiable category.

    Consider it done.

  24. ekatase

    I once had a pollster call me about an election. The first question was, “Are you a liberal, a conversative, or other?” I didn’t feel those were enough options, so I hung up.

    My question is, was that wrong?

  25. Nick

    It’s so sad that large sections of Americans, and the American media, seem to feel that asking your government to provide useful services is somehow illegitimate. This has the obvious effect of hurting people whose lives could be improved by a competent government that tried in good faith to help them, but it also poisons elections — how can these be held when the question of what would be good for people is actually contested? I’m an American but I lived abroad for many years, and when my wife and I had a child, we chose to emigrate to Canada instead of return to the US (for a variety of reasons, including simplicity). Elections here are so much more sane, as each part estimates how much money there is to spend, and then explains how they would spend it to benefit Canadians. It’s sane and polite, and there are no discussions about whether Canada should set up a Canada-friendly government at immense cost on some other continent.
    I don’t know why ‘government spends money to help Americans’ became illegitimate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s partly because so much of the money was needed for grandiose plans in foreign countries. The only other country I’ve lived in was Iceland, and it was awesome too — being in an empire sucks, just like having rich parents who are always busy.

  26. nothing but the truth

    all you will get from more taxes is more money to the govt employees and their pensions.

    just like NY/NJ/CT “Tristate” nightmare.

  27. MaroonBulldog

    Two paradigms (in Alfred Kahn’s view); one American reality (Maroon Bulldog’s synthesis):

    Paradigm: capitalism = producers subjected to indignities so that consumer welfare may be maximized.

    Paradigm: socialism = consumers subjected to indignities so that producer welfare may be maximized.

    Reality: America’s mixed system = both producers and consumers subjected to indignities so that bankster welfare may be maximized

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