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TAX THE RICH!

Sam Harris is bemused: he made the simple, obvious statement that the US needs to tax the rich more, and furious readers of his blog stomped off in a huff. He has discovered an easy way to chase away readers!

I fear it won’t work as well here, since my anti-libertarian views are already well known, but I agree entirely with his suggestion “that taxes should be raised on billionaires.” I’d go a bit further — raise them on millionaires, too. Raise them on people making over $100,000 a year, while you’re at it (that comes close to me, too, since we have a two-income family).

But Harris has doubled down. Now he’s pissed off the Randroids.

As someone who has written and spoken at length about how we might develop a truly “objective” morality, I am often told by followers of Rand that their beloved guru accomplished this task long ago. The result was Objectivism—a view that makes a religious fetish of selfishness and disposes of altruism and compassion as character flaws. If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded. And Rand’s attempt to make literature out of this awful philosophy produced some commensurately terrible writing. Even in high school, I found that my copies of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged simply would not open.

This could get interesting, if only Harris allowed comments on his blog — I believe he has just pushed the button on the foreheads of the True Libertarians labeled “Frappé” and we can expect some delicious brain smoothies to be dispensed out of their ears any moment now.

The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging. I blame the attitude that we see expressed by capitalist extremists and that is so well represented by the Prosperity Gospel. It’s a nicely circular tautology: wealth comes to those who deserve it most. How do we know that? Because the rich are wealthy. It leads to the ideas that warp our country and poison our economies, that the rich deserve their money, and it would therefore be unfair to punish them with taxes for their success, while the poor are clearly lazy parasites (because they aren’t rich!) and therefore deserve to be squeezed and punished further. The idea that a poor person might deserve security and stability and a living wage with reasonable work hours simply because they are humans and fellow citizens is alien to people who think like that — poverty is bad and only comes to bad people.

Comments

  1. says

    As far as I can recall from my blindly stupid college Libertarian days taxing the highest earners would destroy the economy because:

    Trickle-down economics – Billionaires and corporations making tons of money will send that money further down the line. Cut into profits and they’ll have to drop wages or fire people or lower quality of product.
    Deserving – Why should an extremely successful person have to pay more money than the rest of the people? He obviously deserves all of his money.

    So yea… it was dumb.

  2. says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging.

    Propaganda works. It’s that simple.

    Tell everyone “if you manage to get really really rich you’ll have this amazing life of privilege and lack of responsibility and nobody’ll touch your assets” and let them think that they actually have a chance of getting there, and they’ll overlook the fact that they’re being shorn like sheep by their peers, who have become lickspittles to the same wealthy class. Set the middle class against the poor, the poor against the slaves (today: the illegal immigrants) and the upper middle class against eachother and you’ve got exactly what we’ve got – a society in which the wealthiest take, what is it, 20%? of the cake and let everyone else squabble over the crumbs.

  3. Audrey says

    I would ask Sam Harris to be more careful in the future with his use of the word “autism”. His usage could be taken to imply that autistics are selfish. First of all, plenty of autistic people are altruistic. Yes, some autistic people attend almost exclusively to their own needs, but this is because they are UNAWARE of others’ needs due to deficits in social-communicative perception. This is not the same as being selfish at all.

  4. Karen says

    It is my understanding that the majority of Americans do support higher taxes on the rich. It’s just members of Congress that don’t.

    What’s so perplexing is how these members of Congress, whose policies clearly do not match what their constituents want (even many of the conservative constituents), keep getting elected!

  5. says

    There’s a kind of fear of taxation (if they tax them, why not us next?) plus the generally irrational hope of someday becoming rich that people have that combines to oppose taxing the rich. Back when I read it, the Wall Street Journal would trot out the latter part every so often, and thought that it justified not taxing the rich (the poor are stupid, and deserve it, seems to be the rationale).

    It’s the old “bourgeois freedom” that Marx identified so long ago (he did many good analyses, just not of his own dialectical superstitions). After all, shouldn’t we all be allowed to keep what we “earn?”

    Of course there is no earning without society, and those who benefit most from society could be thought of as owing more to it (it’s not a straight one-to-one correspondence, hence the hedging). Especially now when so much is needed by the gov’t to keep even our inadequate safety net afloat.

    Glen Davidson

  6. unbound says

    “The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation”

    Because the capitalism meme continues to circulate through most of the media, and quite a few of the economics teachers as well. I’ve only run into a few that have been honest to admit that capitalism is based on concepts so idealistic that it can’t possibly function in reality.

    But the masses are told that capitalism will fix everything. Of course no explanation as to how (just like trickle down economics…you really don’t want the masses to understand exactly what is trickling down – hint, it isn’t water or coins dripping on your head), everything is in vague terms. Just trust us, it will work itself out.

    I’ve only talked to a handful of people that had economics professors that explained to them (or at least in their recollection) that capitalism’s requirements are nearly impossible to achieve in an advanced economy / market. Things such as low barrier of entry into a market (so easy for new competitors to join), many products / services that are identical to each other (so no niche players), near perfect knowledge of the customers (so selling a poorly made product / service is instantly recognized), and so on.

    Capitalism = the true religion of the US. Takes as much faith (and as much lack of critical thought) as any other religion to think that it is true.

  7. says

    (I realize that you are not adopting or defending this position)

    Trickle-down economics – Billionaires and corporations making tons of money will send that money further down the line.

    That would be reasonable, if it was happening. But we can see that the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of the population is growing, which is an indication that it’s not.

    I’ve debated randroids before and have heard the “rising tide lifts all boats” argument umpty zillion times. The response is that it’s hardly lifting the boats that need to be lifted, at all, while putting the boats that are already floating just fine into low earth orbit.

  8. eric says

    The idea that a poor person might deserve security and stability and a living wage with reasonable work hours simply because they are humans and fellow citizens is alien…

    I think it’s more ridiculous than that. The idea that some measure of success is owed to luck, and that you and the guy in the gutter might be equally “deserving” of weath as measured by your effort and actions, etc… escapes them. Supporting a safety net for people who can’t make it is a kindness. But supporting a safety net for yourself and people who CAN make it, but sometimes don’t because of the vicissitudes of life, is just good long-term planning.

    These folk hear “there, but for the Grace of God go I” and they think the phrase means they are holy. The phrase is about luck and chance, dimwits. Its saying be good to the people who got dealt a bad hand because life could’ve (and might still) deal you the same bad hand.

  9. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Don’t forget that the rich are the supposed “economic drivers” in this country– if you tax them, they won’t have as much money to spend!

    Never mind that the actual economic drivers in the US are the middle- and lower-economic classes, which is what you get when you have a consumer based economy.

  10. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging.

    I’ve written on this before and Occam’s Blunt Instrument puts it very succinctly in #2:

    Propaganda works. It’s that simple.

    Certain members of the extremely rich have managed to convince enough voters that taxes on the rich are wicked and socialist and Jebus cries when the rich are taxed. Exactly how taxation of the wealthy is bad is left as an exercise for the student.

    One phenomenon which should be noted is that after a certain level of wealth is reached, money stops being something to live on and becomes scoring points. “I’m worth $40 million, that makes me more worthy than someone worth $30 million.” (Pun intended)

  11. Eric Walten says

    I always smile when I read about the aversion many/some Americans have of taxation. Over here (Netherlands) anyone earning over $80k pays 52% income tax (for the portion over $80k), and there are plans to lower the threshold.

    Despite having this rate of taxation for many, many years, our economy hasn’t collapsed and the rich are happily working at getting even richer.

  12. Kris says

    Our system of progressive marginal tax rates produces as an effective tax rate that is roughly logarithmic with income. However, the effective tax rate diverges for the highest incomes, falling below the logarithmic approximation because the rate tops out before you even get to half a million dollars. If we replaced our bracketed tax rates with a logarithmic rate, the millionaires would be paying something closer to 40-45% already, if I recall my calculations correctly.

  13. Anteprepro says

    The “autism” line was not only unnecessarily demeaning to those who are autistic, but inaccurate on top of it. Antisocial personality disorder is more in line with selfishness and lack of altruism and compassion. Those with autism may have problems with understanding and relating to other people, seemingly resulting in a lack of empathy, but what is essentially social awkwardness is a far cry from the aggressive lack of concern for the well-being of others that claims of a lack of altruism and compassion suggest. If you are going to toss segments of the mentally ill population under the bus in order to cast aspersions on a political group, at least have the decency to choose the most appropriate mental illness.

    As for the lay people’s adamant, unthinking opposition to the idea of having a fair tax on the rich: there’s just no accounting for right-wingers. They are an unreflective lot, never realizing when they contradict themselves or their own principles, never thinking about whether their ideas make sense or are consistent with reality. They are people who believe that stubbornness is a sign of the strength of their position, and that there is no need to address criticism, because they remain right even if they blatantly shut out all facts that might, if actually considered, cast doubt on said rightness. They are so unquestionably right, in their own minds, that if logic and evidence shows otherwise, then it is logic itself and evidence itself that is in error. No more taxes on their wealthy overlords is just another dogmatic belief that has been ground into their skulls so deep that they believe it to be infallible truth from on high. They don’t need a reason why, it just “is”. Just like everything else they believe.

  14. says

    I’m not interested in defending Rand – I thought Atlas Shrugged was pretty poor writing, and I didn’t find Rand’s absolutist philosophical arguments convincing even when I was a libertarian – but this has confirmed my existing impression that Harris is a complete blithering asshat:

    If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded.

    For some reason, he feels the need to be gratuitously and unnecessarily offensive towards autistic people, promoting stereotypes and using “autistic” as a casual term of abuse. It’s stupid, sloppy, careless writing, demonstrating no concern about the possibility of reinforcing prejudice against an already-marginalized group.

    This, sadly, is absolutely typical of Harris. (See also: his inflammatory anti-Islam rhetoric, the fact that he makes common cause with the far right in promoting hatred and bigotry against Muslims, his enthusiastic support for the “War on Terror”, and his defence of torture.)

    It makes me sad that Harris is actually respected in the atheist community. He’s a nasty authoritarian, a shallow and simplistic thinker, and basically not very bright.

  15. Classical Cipher, OM says

    If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded.

    That’s really not okay.

    I think it’s the idiotic just-world meme, plus a mistaken belief among middle-class people that “tax the rich” means them, and the idea that poor (LAZY!!!) people are getting some kind of free ride on the backs of middle-class folks.

  16. Niblick says

    Of course there is no earning without society…

    Early hominids had society, complete with cooperation, charity, division of labor, voluntary exchange, and punishment of criminals. Equating society with “government” is a fallacy that greatly benefits the members of the ruling class. Indeed it’s precisely the same fallacy as equating certain befeathered shaman types with the deities they claimed to speak for: deluded followers bring sacrifices to fatten the shaman, and believes him when he takes the credit for bountiful harvests.

    In the same way we make multi-millionaires out of besuited pretenders–and multi-billionaires out of their favored cronies–in response to promises of health, prosperity, justice and peace. We then give them credit for such of those benefits as we manage to enjoy. Which is precious little, since what they proclaimed as “health” was really mandatory compliance with demands invented by insurance companies themselves; what was billed as prosperity has left poverty virtually unaffected in five decades; what was ballyhooed as justice is on display at Guantanamo; and our dear leader, as his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, declared endless war to be the path to ultimate peace.

    Maybe if we bring them more chickens to sacrifice, they’ll finally give us those bountiful harvests they’ve been promising?

  17. Randomfactor says

    We’ve tried lowering taxes on the rich for the past 40 years. It didn’t work. Time to change the experiment and raise taxes back to where it WAS working.

  18. Randomfactor says

    A rising tide may indeed lift all boats. But when roughly half the boats are permanently anchored on a short chain, that rising tide does nothing but submerge them.

  19. says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation

    I mentioned some generic reasons previously, however there’s a dynamic in American politics that goes beyond the generic. Here we have on the right a collusion of money and populism, and the two haven’t found any way to survive without each other.

    Hence the tea party harnesses a lot of energy from people who are getting money from the government and who might do well to demand even more. The point is, who pays for the tea party on a national level? Not the needy, that’s for sure.

    In the end, the rich pay for the right to keep going because they benefit (they no doubt believe in it–because they benefit), and the rightists who aren’t rich go for it because it keeps their agenda in the public eye. There are also historical reasons why the right was especially for “free markets,” their opposition to communist threats, real or imagined.

    Mostly it’s the rich who do well out of this, though, partly because the Democrats have so often decided not to be “obstructionist” (IOW, they want to vote a certain way to please constituents, but often don’t give a damn if the Republican economics wins). Those who aren’t rich get suckered into it as a rallying cry partly because that’s how politics works (people latch onto popular ideas), partly because they’ve heard that it works (and yes, they hope they might get rich, and fear taxes).

    Populists end up supporting the unpopulist ideas of letting the rich not contribute what is arguably their fair share because populists need financial support for their own political aspirations, even if they rarely see it that way.

    Glen Davidson

  20. Zinc Avenger says

    It’s right there in the Constitution™ (Tea Party Edition).

    Government of the people, by the (rich) people, for the (rich) people.

  21. Gnumann says

    I think PZ’s last question is related to the fact that USians have one of the strongest beliefs in social mobility, and one of the lowest actual upward social mobilities in the civilized world.

    The American dream has been swallowed, hook, line and sinker.

  22. Simon says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging.

    PZ, I would highly recommend you look at actual opinion polls because I do not think that popular opinion supports this. There are doubtless special interests that are in favor of this, however poll after poll shows that the American public going back many years has generally been strongly in favor of more progressive taxation.

    See here for polls that even ask the question directly and judge for yourself: http://pollingreport.com/budget.htm

  23. says

    Being science-minded and evidence-based, I would like to see some hard data on the attitudes of Americans towards taxation. Equal and opposite claims are frequently made about their support and opposition to higher taxes on the rich.

    Both UK and US politicians frequently claim increasing even just taxes on personal wealth will harm the economy as “talented” business leaders will be encouraged to leave. I’ve not heard a shred of data to support this. Anyone?

    In the meantime, there is a lot of excellent research concerning the benefits of redistributed wealth, something that correlates strongly with everything from crime rates to education, mental health to job satisfaction, obesity to human rights and on and on… There are too many sources to mention, though a lot of the information is covered well in a book called The Spirit Level, which came out a couple of years ago.

    Here is an interview with the authors:

  24. pinkboi says

    Sam Harris is much more sympathetic to libertarianism than his Randroid knee-jerk obviously-didn’t-read-the-whole-article readers recognize. When you read their responses, they are attacking him not for suggesting we tax the rich a little more. They are attacking him for being okay with any taxes. Surely they knew from the get-go that he didn’t hold their views on that! For his part, his attack on Objectivism was sloppy or lazy, particularly for someone who wrote a book on morality.

    If you’re an objectivist, you believe any violence is wrong. That is of course stupid. If no other means works then violence is justified. That means there is no a priori shortcut for understanding the issues thoroughly. Objectivists think they have a shortcut but in fact they do not.

  25. M Groesbeck says

    Yeah, the “autistic” bit seems far off-base. I’m not an expert on autism by any means — but I can at least work from the example of my autistic nephew. He has no problem with wanting other people to be happy and enjoying being able to help make other people happy — he just has a hard time understanding other people well enough to have a reliable idea of how to do so. It’s a bit like Randroidism in reverse — the Objectivists seem to have no more trouble than anyone else figuring out how other people tick and what might contribute to general happiness, they just make a virtue of not caring.

  26. pinkboi says

    It’s very simple…

    the poor don’t make the rules.

    That’s because they’re in the minority. That’s why politicians talk on and on about the middle class and hardly at all about the poor.

  27. Mo says

    Carlie nailed it the other day in comment to the Dawkins post:

    Carlie says:
    25 August 2011 at 7:59 am
    “Why is it that the very people that free healthcare,a good education system and welfare support are the very people who support people like Bachmann, Perry et al. it’s like watching sheep vote for more mint sauce.”

    Because those people aren’t poor, in their own minds. They’re rich people who have temporarily fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. Therefore they have to vote for policies that favor the rich, so that when they get back up to their natural station, everything is properly in place for them

  28. Josh says

    Yeah, I’m afraid Walton’s put his finger on why any retraction from Harris of the ableist bit is not likely to be forthcoming.

    That said, it’s a good Harris piece: although the majority of Americans may favor restoring Clinton-level taxes on the rich, the wingnuts are very loud, and it’s great to see them challenged. Heck, I just saw a comment on a newspaper article saying “VOTE SB5! STOP THE MARXIST/MAFIA STRANGLEHOLD THE UNIONS HAVE ON OHIO!”

  29. Ing says

    I’ve debated randroids before and have heard the “rising tide lifts all boats” argument umpty zillion times.

    Odd how I’ve used this as an argument for focusing on increasing the qualify of life for the lowest, because it will better the lives of those at the top as well.

  30. heliobates says

    I believe he has just pushed the button on the foreheads of the True Libertarians labeled “Frappé” and we can expect some delicious brain smoothies to be dispensed out of their ears any moment now.

    This is a grande steaming mug of win.

  31. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Luke Scientiae #26

    Both UK and US politicians frequently claim increasing even just taxes on personal wealth will harm the economy as “talented” business leaders will be encouraged to leave. I’ve not heard a shred of data to support this. Anyone?

    I’ve heard and read this claim fairly often. It’s never explained exactly where these business leaders will migrate to. Belize doesn’t have much of an economic base and Dubhai discourages permanent emigrants.

    In the meantime, there is a lot of excellent research concerning the benefits of redistributed wealth, something that correlates strongly with everything from crime rates to education, mental health to job satisfaction, obesity to human rights and on and on…

    Writing in the 1770s, Adam Smith considered progressive taxes:

    The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. [emphasis added]

    BTW, Luke Scientiae, please don’t embed videos, they slow down thread loading dramatically.

  32. dcg1 says

    “The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging”.

    Why are Americans so irrational?.Statistically they show the same irrationality towards acceptance of evolution and more pertinently towards the denial of man made climate change.

    I’m currently in a dilemma about my latter point. My inbuilt humanity makes me feel very sad about the catastrophe that is about to afflict the east coast of the U.S. and the human suffering that will ensue.

    Although given the attitude of the U.S. government, to man made climate change, at numerous climate change summits. My rational mind is shouting “Ha the climate deniers are about to get theirs!!”.

    Anyone else having the same unpleasant thoughts?.

  33. says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging.

    It works like feudalism. If you are completely dependent on rich people for your well being you want them to do well, too. American workers now have their whole retirement (if they have one!) caught up in the clusterfuck of the stockmarket (which is essentially gambling-for-rich-people), so they don’t want the rich to fail because then their retirements are fucking worthless. Sticking a bunch of your money in a bank is the same risk and less of a return. People want the boss to do well so that they aren’t totally fucking screwed at the end of their lives. People without retirement accounts want jobs and therefore don’t want the rich to have less start up money (never mind that they seem to hoard it all instead of helping anyone), or fantasize about working hard and getting to be one of the rich because of their hard work. There aren’t unions to help people get their fair share so they have little they can reasonably do besides hope for the best from their bosses. There is a non-stop stream of propaganda from every religious and financial institution convincing americans that CEOs are people who just worked really hard to get where they are and that they deserve all the money they earn. It is surprising how many people manage to have a different opinion, really.

  34. says

    This tax the rich issue with Americans seems to be a touchy subject and it baffles me.

    Weren’t the rich taxed something like 90% back in the day when America WAS #1 at nigh on everything?

    Has every American really been convinced they everybody has an actual shot at BEING a billionaire? And seriously, what IS the difference between one billion and two billion? Will a person with only one billion dollars cry himself to sleep at night because he now can’t have or do something with the other missing billion dollars?

    People would rather freak out about billionaires paying taxes than the deplorable lack of universal healthcare?

    There’s something wrong in the heads of ‘mercans.

    It’s funny, when people I know say they might want to live in America the first things I think is: no universal health care, medical insurance dependant on job, no protection of job from government.

    Why would I swap the security I have for THAT? A bit more money but I risk bankruptcy if I get sick and lose my job?

    No, thanks, I’ll just stick with what I have in this, somewhat more sane society.

  35. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Mo,

    Because those people aren’t poor, in their own minds. They’re rich people who have temporarily fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.

    My only issue with this is that plenty of the Tea Baggers have never been rich or even middle-class. Hell, some of them don’t even have the delusion that one day, they will be rich*– they just have an incredibly skewed view of what is fair. Rich people, you see, earned their money**, so it’s not fair that the government takes it away. Unemployed people are lazy so they don’t deserve a hand-out. You get the idea.

    *Although lord knows plenty of them do think that they’ll be wealthy one day.

    **On the backs of the very people who make this argument.

  36. Mr. Fire says

    I’ve debated randroids before and have heard the “rising tide lifts all boats” The response is that it’s hardly lifting the boats that need to be lifted, at all, while putting the boats that are already floating just fine into low earth orbit.

    A rising tide may indeed lift all boats. But when roughly half the boats are permanently anchored on a short chain, that rising tide does nothing but submerge them.

    Ooh! Let me play!

    My variation is: A rising tide does nothing for a boat with a hole in it.

  37. Zinc Avenger says

    @pinkey, 33:

    A rising tide DOES raise all boats.

    If you have a boat.

    Outstanding.

    And the Republicans are trying to fit as many of us as possible with concrete overshoes.

  38. harold says

    Since WWII, there has been a tendency, in developed nations for official discrimination against women, ethnic minority groups, and gay people to be reduced.

    The US has a unique history (slavery, civil war, KKK/lynching, segregation, civil rights movement, etc). I suspect that for this reason, the reduction or elimination of official discrimination was more controversial in the US, especially in some parts of the country, than it was in Canada, Europe, developed Asia, etc.

    Policies that reduced official discrimination were associated with “liberals”. Prior to the civil rights era, “liberal” was a word with positive connotations in the US; people even described themselves as “liberal Republicans. Since the Reagan era, it has been demonized.

    As it happens, Americans do want progressive taxation http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53455.html. They also favor universal health care, highly affordable higher education, strong public schools, etc. At least a very large plurality favor cutting military spending.

    However, they’re easily led into voting against what they actually want, at least in terms of economic policy, by propaganda that demonizes out groups. Ironically, a common theme of such propaganda is the claim that discriminated against groups have special “privileges” or “advantages”. I suspect the history I noted above has something to do with this.

    Right wing policies do impact the most on the least advantaged groups, so to some degree Americans get what they seem to want on that level, but the price is that they don’t get the economic policies they favor.

  39. says

    I’m cross-posting the link and excerpts below from The Endless Thread, because it applies here. Some libertarians may not be religiously inclined, but there are plenty of religious nutters who have lately come up with a more twisted reason for controlling all business interests in a selfish manner. They see success in business as a stepping stone to having the kind of money they need to control everything else. Everything else includes politics, education, taxation, etc. Religion is politics to them, and they want the money/leverage to make sure their view prevails. Rich people are God’s people.

    Screw the poor. God has obviously made them poor. Dump the social safety net entirely, as it is also against God’s plan.

    A Fresh Air podcast about evangelicals engaged in spiritual warfare really covers the subject of the “Apostolic Reformation” and “dominionism.” The strong connections of this movement to presidential candidate Rick Perry are fleshed out.

    Excerpt from the summary:

    An emerging Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and the return of Jesus, is becoming more of a presence in American politics. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role.

    The international “apostolic and prophetic” movement has been dubbed by its leading American architect, C. Peter Wagner, as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Although the movement is larger than the network organized by Wagner… the so-called apostles and prophets of the movement have identifiable ideology that separates them from other evangelicals.

    Two ministries in the movement planned and orchestrated Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent prayer rally, where apostles and prophets from around the nation spoke or appeared onstage. The event was patterned after The Call, held at locations around the globe and led by Lou Engle, who has served in the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders of the NAR. Other NAR apostles endorsed Perry’s event, including two who lead a 50-state “prayer warrior” network. Thomas Muthee, the Kenyan pastor who anointed Sarah Palin at the Wasilla Assembly of God Church in 2005, while praying for Jesus to protect her from the spirit of witchcraft, is also part of this movement.

    … the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states. It also has very strong opinions about the direction it wants the country to take….

    “Lou Engle [has spoken] at length about how one of his sons has started an International House of Prayer in the Castro district of San Francisco and that his son is now expelling demons from homosexuals, and supposedly then this cures them of their homosexuality,” says Tabachnick. “He has also held [prayer rallies] around the world.”…

  40. says

    That’s because they’re in the minority. That’s why politicians talk on and on about the middle class and hardly at all about the poor.

    From what I recall the bottom 50% of earners fight over 1% of the wealth. I don’t know what book you are reading out of. Plus you are a god damned FOOL if you think “they are a minority and count less” when we are discussing CLASS. The number of very wealthy people is wayyyyyyy smaller than the number of people living in poverty, but the rich have a huge say in everything because they are afforded more power.

    The reason politicians talk about the middle class so much is because middle class people are essential for social control of the poor majority, and the general functions of a desirable society. If most people with socially important, professional jobs got together and decided to make changes for social justice, rich people would be screwed. The class of people who vote and who actually run things need to be propagandized as much as possible about the inferiority of people in poverty, and other essential lies about the world (such as “hey, this war is a really good idea”, and “the people in charge really know what they are doing”). You can think its paranoid sounding if you want, but there is extensive documentation about the way that politicians talk amongst themselves about the public, and about the way media skews debates to leave out critical questions. The poor don’t get discussed because what they think doesn’t matter as much in a practical sense, and the policies in place do a reasonably good job of controlling those population (like jailing people for drug dealing when they have no other reasonable means to support themselves, shit like that).

  41. says

    My only issue with this is that plenty of the Tea Baggers have never been rich or even middle-class. Hell, some of them don’t even have the delusion that one day, they will be rich*

    Remember that asshole, joe the plumber? He earned 200,000 a year, and wasn’t totally atypical of the teabagger demographic. If you earn 100,000 dollars a year you are officially in the top 10% of earners in the US (as of a few years ago, I don’t know the figure today). He is richer than at least 90% of americans, but most of us wouldn’t consider him “rich” because he is still in the one illness away from bankruptcy boat with the rest of the people below him. The way that the amount of wealth increases exponentially as you move up fractions of percentage points after that is proof of how skewed the view of the world is. People making more than 90% of the population aren’t considered rich.

  42. Rhinanthus says

    As an outside observer, I have struggled to understand this attitude. Perhaps yours is the correct explanation but perhaps there is an alternative, and more rational, explanation? (1) Many Americans are convinced that if taxes are allowed to increase for the rich then their own taxes will soon increase as well; the only way to prevent this from happening to to set a firm rule: no new taxes ever. (2) Since taxes are payment for a government service, and since the US government has (until very recently) been able to finance these services by borrowing money from others rather than collecting it from its citizens, many Americans continue to believe that they can to get these services without actually paying for them. I suspect that as soon as ordinary Americans begin to loose services that they want because of a lack of money (i.e. they reject proposition 2) they will modify their belief in proposition 1.

  43. G. D. says

    Admittedly I am neither politically or economically astute, nor do I have any allegiance to any political philosophy. Now that I’ve qualified myself essentially as an idiot on this topic I’ll dispense my idiotic questions.

    Whenever I hear people claim that we need to increase taxes on such&such group my immediate question is: tax them for what? Is there a road or something we can’t get built without their money? Or is it because we believe that if “they” pay more “we” will pay less? Or do we just want to punish someone for having more than us? I don’t know.

    I do know I am in the “poor” working class. But there are those poorer than I. One thing I’m sure of is that if those poorer than I organized and demanded that my class pay more in taxes I’d find the idea extremely unappealing. Pay more taxes for what?

    I’m also curious as to why nobody seems to have an idea that we should all – everyone of us – pay less taxes. I’d sure like to keep more of my money and I’m sure everyone else would also.

    I’m sure I’ll get flamed to hell & back over this post but thanks at least for reading my idiotic post.

  44. Ytrus says

    I’m pretty sure Harris was thinking Asperger’s syndrome when he came up with that “autism” remark. It’s linked with decreased empathy and is considered an autism spectrum disorder. So the statement isn’t completely ludicrous, although it does have the nasty side-effect of unnecessarily alienating a bunch of people.

  45. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Skepifem:

    Remember that asshole, joe the plumber? He earned 200,000 a year, and wasn’t totally atypical of the teabagger demographic.

    Oh, no doubt. I wasn’t trying to say that all teabaggers are like my example, just that you can also find them in the lower economic classes and they are more than willing to go against their own economic self-interests.

    Hm, that wasn’t very clear, either. My brainz no wurk 2 gud today (I blame Irene). Basically, yes I understand that most of the tea baggers are protecting what they think their economic self-interests are*, but plenty of people in the lower classes have been duped, too.

    Or something. I need a nap.

    *Shitting on those who have less than you might sound like a great idea now, but in the long run, it’ll bite you in the ass.

  46. Sonja says

    I agree, but I almost think we’re too late. Over the past 30 years the wealth of the US has been stolen — shifted from the hands of the the majority, middle-income people to the super-rich. The richest 400 people now have more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans. What tax would recover some of that money? Capital gains and inheritance taxes would get more back than raising income taxes, but even that only gets at the margins. Low-tax policies have destroyed this country’s future.

  47. Blot says

    @Ytrus

    It was a pretty thoughtless comparison to make either way. Psychopathy or some other personality disorder might have been more reasonable an analogy. There is maybe a subset of people on the autism spectrum who behave as libertarians do, and it strikes me that quite a few of the supporters who comment around the net on libertarianism are seriously lacking in empathy, but still, the majority of autistic people are not that sort of asshole.

  48. jose says

    I heard right wing people were even against fixing loopholes in the law. They supported rich people taking advantage of loopholes to evade paying taxes. If that’s true it’s hilarious.

  49. Blot says

    Shitting on those who have less than you might sound like a great idea now, but in the long run, it’ll bite you in the ass.

    I don’t want to bite anyone in the ass while they are attempting to shit on me.

  50. Anteprepro says

    “Or is it because we believe that if “they” pay more “we” will pay less? Or do we just want to punish someone for having more than us? I don’t know.”

    It’s because the poor have barely what they need, the wealthy have more than they need, and the extremely wealthy have much more than they need. That is essentially why most would want to see the wealthiest have higher tax rates: because they also have much more money that they don’t need for living expenses than the average person. And less taxes means less money for government programs, which are (mostly) already running on tight budgets. I’m glad you say “you don’t know” because the thought that you would actually believe that the concept of higher taxation for the wealthy was to “punish” the wealthy is straight-up right-wing talking point, and as such completely perpendicular to reality. If you want to effectively “punish” someone for making more than you, you would have to tax them so excessively that they would get more money just above minimum wage than at rich person’s wage after taxes. If you think that we are anywhere near that situation, let alone proposing something that would approach it, you should stop listening to Rush Limbaugh et. al. as soon as possible, and proceed from there on a return to reality.

    Also: Ytrus, see Frankensteinmonster and/or my 14. The kind of lack of empathy seen in Asperger’s is qualitatively different from the lack of empathy consistent with antisocial personality disorders, which is the kind that is more consistent with the stated ideals of Objectivism. People with Asperger’s may have problems empathizing, but they don’t casually ignore harm and disregard the well-being of others despite that, while strict Objectivists and those with antisocial personality disorder do.

  51. jose says

    skeptifem,
    “American workers now have their whole retirement (if they have one!) caught up in the clusterfuck of the stockmarket”

    Wait a second. Are you saying the money of the pensions is in businesses’ hands? Does social security not handle that money?

  52. pinkboi says

    skeptifem –

    What’s your definition of poverty? In absolute terms, a very small minority of Americans are poor. In relative terms by definition they’re still a minority. You seem to be saying one is poor by definition of what percentage of the economy their income represents? That would suggest someone suddenly becoming a multi-trillionaire (implausible, but just picture someone mined an asteroid full of gold using robots) would make nearly everyone else on earth poor, irrespective of their abilities to achieve their dreams or at least meet their needs.

  53. Reginald Selkirk says

    Even in high school, I found that my copies of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged simply would not open.

    Yes, the pages tend to bind together when someone spills a sticky fluid on them.

  54. Ewan R says

    Short on time, so this may already have been said but…

    I’ve debated randroids before and have heard the “rising tide lifts all boats” argument umpty zillion times.

    One need only envision a situation where it is only the rich who actually have boats – the rising tide analogy then works pretty well.

  55. duncan says

    I’m English, but we have some of the same problems with tax here – people believe that they need the richest people because they pay a sizable chunk of our income tax.
    If we were to raise taxes on the richest few and were to leave Britain tomorrow, there’d be people innovative to take their place very quickly, and we’d get more tax revenue from it.

    In short, if the richest few are scared off by high taxes, they can go away.

  56. Blondin says

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
    — John Steinbeck

  57. Reginald Selkirk says

    Any pure-minded anti-tax proponent should stay the @%^@#$% off the Internet, since it was invented with government funding.

  58. liebore says

    My only issue with this is that plenty of the Tea Baggers have never been rich or even middle-class. Hell, some of them don’t even have the delusion that one day, they will be rich

    You’re missing the connection. Tea Baggers and the majority of middle class right wingers could give a crap about lower taxes for the rich. Similarly, the rich right wingers could give a crap about inserting Gawd into every aspect of American life. It’s the unholy alliance between these two factions that give each group its power. The rich-right supply the money to promote a virtual theocracy, and the middle-right supply the votes to protect the wealth of their sugar daddies.

  59. tac says

    Are you saying the money of the pensions is in businesses’ hands? Does social security not handle that money?

    yes, pension funds have nearly all been switched to “401K” plans or something similar—requiring the middle class employee to volunteer to put some of the paycheck into an account managed by big investment company, and hope they know what they are doing.

    This is slightly better than the old fashion “pension” where the “company” would promise to keep paying you some percentage of your salary after you “retire” (after working for 20-30 years for the company). The “pension” didn’t follow you from job to job, and if the company went bankrupt, you lost your pension.

    For most of us under 50, we will never see the money we contribute to social security. There used to be more than enough to fund everyone, but congress started using the annual surplus for other things many years.

  60. Anri says

    Whenever I hear people claim that we need to increase taxes on such&such group my immediate question is: tax them for what?

    I’m not certain if you mean ‘on what’ or ‘for what purpose’ here, so I’ll try to tackle both.

    If you mean on what, income and estate taxes are ways of creating progressive taxes, they seem to work fine whan they’re implemented. This is opposed to sales tax, which is a regressive tax.

    If you mean for what purpose, there are any number of social programs, infrastructure, and overall enforcement of basic human rights that require tax money. Most of these are somewhere between running low on funding and in desperate shape in the US.

    Is there a road or something we can’t get built without their money? Or is it because we believe that if “they” pay more “we” will pay less? Or do we just want to punish someone for having more than us? I don’t know.

    There are any number of roads, bridges, schools, green power plants, free clinics, vaccine research teams ans space programs that are not being built due to lack of money.
    A reasonable way to get some of this money is to tax people who have lots of it.

    I do know I am in the “poor” working class. But there are those poorer than I. One thing I’m sure of is that if those poorer than I organized and demanded that my class pay more in taxes I’d find the idea extremely unappealing. Pay more taxes for what?

    I am certainly not rich, yet I vote tax increases for myself all the time, usually to help those less fortunate than me.

    Remember – if you don’t like paying more in taxes, you can always escape doing so by becoming a less wealthy person… that’s actually pretty easy.

    I’m also curious as to why nobody seems to have an idea that we should all – everyone of us – pay less taxes. I’d sure like to keep more of my money and I’m sure everyone else would also.

    I have an idea that I’d like to live forever. Unfortunately, that idea doesn’t track well with the real world.

    Seriously, though, there are places in the world in which people pay lower tax rates than the US… I’m not sujggesting you move there, just take a look at what living in a place like that might ential.

    I’m sure I’ll get flamed to hell & back over this post but thanks at least for reading my idiotic post.

    I’m not certain if you’re attempting to poison the well here by preemtively casting thsoe that might be critical of your post as flaming you. If so, in the immortal words of George Takei: “You, sir, are a douchebag. That’s right, a douchebag.”

  61. says

    It’s the Cracker Theory

    From the comments:

    Bad Tux 08/17/2011 03:55 PM
    As a native Southerner from a poor family, I can validate that this is why the poor white trash opposed desegregation. “We might be ignorant hillbillies, but at least we’re not n***ers” was the general principle. They willingly elected pro-segregation politicians who deprived them of educational opportunities, who passed labor laws depriving them of all meaningful employment rights, who underinvested in infrastructure for decades, who opposed even providing free textbooks in K-12 so that the white trash could afford to attend school, all in exchange for the right to say they were “better than n***ers”.

    Today’s politicians have chosen different targets, but it’s all the same general principle. “We might be white trash living in a trailer house, but at least we aren’t a beaner!” explains a whole lot of the immigrant bashing. Add in the fact that they feel minorities are competing for the same menial jobs that they want, and you have a recipe for voters very willing to vote for politicians opposing their best interests, as long as said politicians keep down some minority group even harder.

    As a hillbilly myself, I saw this in action far too much and it always amazed me that it’s ok to wallow in the ditch as long as there was someone further down in the much than you are.

  62. Carlie says

    My only issue with this is that plenty of the Tea Baggers have never been rich or even middle-class. Hell, some of them don’t even have the delusion that one day, they will be rich*

    I didn’t mean to imply that they had been rich (although what I wrote read directly that way, d’oh!), but that they are naturally meant to be rich, because they are hard workers and everyone knows that hard workers get rich and poor people are lazy. There are just life circumstances that have somehow kept them from being rich yet and surely eventually one day the riches will come. Right? Just like how the Rapture will happen one day too.

    There’s also the absolute “I worked for mine so FUCK YOU if you think you can get yours handed to you” attitude that is fueled by the rich, that gets absorbed all the way down the line.

  63. Carlie says

    Thanks, Blondin! That’s what I had in the back of my mind the whole time, but I couldn’t remember the actual quote or who said it.

  64. says

    Add me to the list of people put off by Harris’ comparison of ASD to the selfishness-disguised-as-virtue ideology professed by people who self-indulgently label themselves Objectivists. I may have difficulty carrying out a neurotypical social performance and picking up on cues, but unlike hose individuals I recognize how much I rely upon the efforts of so many others, often fiscally under- or uncompensated, to carry out my own existence and maximize my own abilities.

  65. Al says

    How long before the government has to tax the rich – on the grounds that they’re the only ones left with any money?

  66. donquijoterocket says

    I’ve seen in this thread the religious element invoked and I suspect it applies in this manner, that in whatever passes for the consciousness of the bagger and their cohorts, witting or no, there’s an unconscious recognition that the poor represent the “there but for the grace” go I segment of society , that even the comfortable may be so deeply afflicted by circumstances beyond their control, the thought scares them and they take that fear out on the visible manifestation.

  67. Mr. Fire says

    Trickle-down economics:

    Take money that would have gone to the poor, and give it to the rich.

    Let it trickle down.

    Magically, the amount of money that ends up back in the hands of the poor is greater than if we had just let them have it all in the first place.

  68. Mr. Fire says

    Oh and to avoid appearing disingenuous @75, I am aware that it is not a closed system. Still think it is bullshit, and that the results speak for themselves.

  69. says

    Objectivism is basically autism rebranded

    wut. it’s sociopathy rebranded, not autism. autistic people are capable of empathy, AFAIK.

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging. I blame the attitude that we see expressed by capitalist extremists and that is so well represented by the Prosperity Gospel.

    it’s not just that, though I agree that’s a large chunk of it. It doesn’t help though that so many tax-based things in the US are broken. They’re broken because the US doesn’t have a sane opposition (a sane opposition is supposed to whittle away at flaws in a piece of legislation), but rather a system of one party that wants to make something happen, kinda; and another party that wants to prove once and for all that government is the problem, by breaking it themselves. So you get programs that are flawed to begin with, and then they get underfunded, chopped up, and otherwise disabled. And then people make judgements about public programs based on that severely mangled, disfunctional end-result.

    Oh and also: the fact that most Americans actually have no idea about the wealth distribution in the US. They think it looks like Sweden’s distribution, and since Sweden’s distribution is what they want, they think further redistribution of resources is not necessary.

    As far as I can recall from my blindly stupid college Libertarian days taxing the highest earners would destroy the economy because:

    you forgot the part where profitable creativity is apparently a resource so rare that it only manifests in the top 1% of the population, so we mustn’t upset them, lest they stop being creative and technological progress grinds to a halt.

    Early hominids had society, complete with cooperation, charity, division of labor, voluntary exchange, and punishment of criminals. Equating society with “government” is a fallacy that greatly benefits the members of the ruling class

    the largest effective anarchic society ever discovered had 150 members. There are socio-biological reasons for that (limits to how many people we can get to know closely, etc). technology (especially the internet) can very likely expand that number somewhat. Beyond that, yes, SOME form of government structure seems necessary, even if it’s merely an established method of picking a temporary leader for a task (but the more non-hierarchical, accessible and transparent the government, the better).

    And on that note, niblick is a perfect example of what I was talking about in the 2nd part of this response

    That’s because they’re in the minority. That’s why politicians talk on and on about the middle class and hardly at all about the poor.

    they don’t. when they say “middle class”, they generally mean people who make well over $100000 a year, while at the same time trying to classify that actual middle class as leeches (see the war on teachers and other unionized workers). So actually, the people who matter are a minority by a huge margin, but when you call them “the middle class”, you can make it look like they’re the majority.

    I’m pretty sure Harris was thinking Asperger’s syndrome when he came up with that “autism” remark. It’s linked with decreased empathy and is considered an autism spectrum disorder.

    it’s linked to decreased ability to interpret social clues, not empathy or altruism per-se. what it was was an ableist comment, nothing more.

    Are you saying the money of the pensions is in businesses’ hands? Does social security not handle that money?

    social security is not pensions. 401k’s are pensions, and they’re stuck in the stockmarket

    As a hillbilly myself, I saw this in action far too much and it always amazed me that it’s ok to wallow in the ditch as long as there was someone further down in the much than you are.

    “divide and conquer” has been a strategy used by the wealthy for ages. And it works in the US better than in many other places, dividing the poor among racial, immigrant-status, and even individual lines.

  70. harold says

    Remember that asshole, joe the plumber? He earned 200,000 a year, and wasn’t totally atypical of the teabagger demographic.

    For once I can deliver some good news. He may or may not have made 200K after “confronting” Obama, during his fifteen microseconds of celebrity (he got some moron job “reporting from Israel” from some kind of second rate right wing outfit but I don’t think it worked out), but he wasn’t a licensed plumber and was not doing very well at the time of his schtick. The gist of it was that Obama was campaigning, at the time, on allowing the Bush tax cuts to lapse, or raising taxes on families with over 250K, or some such Obama promise, and Joe, to the extent that there was a coherent message, argued that “if he bought the plumbing company he worked for” some day, then he might make 250K.

    Or is it because we believe that if “they” pay more “we” will pay less? Or do we just want to punish someone for having more than us? I don’t know.

    If Warren Buffet sends extra money to the IRS, it will just be refunded. The IRS is not a charity and does not accept donations. But if you get together with ten million other groveling lickspittles and send donations to the poor persecuted very rich to make up for any extra taxes they might some day incur, that won’t be a problem. They’ll keep your money. Take initiative. If you’re very, very lucky, one of them might crack you across the face with a riding crop some day. (For full disclosure I’m a “progressive”, to the extent that any label fits, not a “communist”, “anarchist”, or “revolutionary”. Neither am I “envious” of very wealthy people in general. I mention this only in anticipation that that was going to be the next thing you said.)

    The reasons for having a reasonably progressive tax system and adequately funded basic government services are obvious.

    Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires

    When Steinbeck said “socialism”, he didn’t mean what Fox News means when they say socialism.

    During the Eisenhower era, the top marginal tax rate was very high and the US labor force was highly unionized. Since even mildly progressive tax system or the existence of a few weak unions is now considered “Marxist”, I guess that must mean the Eisenhower was a super-duper-hyper-revolutionary-terrorist-Islamic-Marxist or something.

  71. Reginald Selkirk says

    A lot of corporations are sitting on large piles of cash right now. They’re not creating jobs with it, and they’re not rushing to develop new and better products. Ask your favorite supply-sider why this is. Prepare to receive a waffle in return.

    We tried supply-side economics in the 1980s. It didn’t work then either. Companies didn’t develop new products – why would they, when there were no buyers? Instead, they bought other companies, consolidating their market share and reducing their costs, while reducing competition in the marketplace.

  72. says

    While we are talking about libertarian atheists, did anyone see Penn Jillette on Piers Morgan the other night propose that the way to deal with the fact that 1 out of 7 Americans are using food stamps is to remember that “that’s 6 Americans able to help them!”, (or something to that extent)? Ie, the government shouldn’t help them; Good Old Fashioned Charity will do the trick. You know, because that really worked in the nineteenth century.

    I love Penn, but it is hard for me to see atheists who place such an emphasis on being reality-based make statements that, to me, suggest they are completely delusional when it comes to social reality. Anyone want to try to explain this to me?

  73. Jim1138 says

    Tax the rich? PZ, you’re crazy! We should destitute the rich! I’m canceling my subscription. Wait a minute, I don’t have a subscription. Can’t… help… but… click on that PZ bookmark again!

  74. okieblue says

    Not to mention that I’ll be rich someday and I sure don’t want to pay those high tax rates.

    I am starting to wonder if this is a logical thought since I’m now approaching retirement age and nowhere near being rich. Oh well, I’m going to be an optimist just like Rick PArry.

    No taxes on rich people because I’m on my way to being one.

  75. Kagehi says

    they don’t. when they say “middle class”, they generally mean people who make well over $100000 a year, while at the same time trying to classify that actual middle class as leeches (see the war on teachers and other unionized workers). So actually, the people who matter are a minority by a huge margin, but when you call them “the middle class”, you can make it look like they’re the majority.

    This is in fact the real core of the problem. Define “middle class”, not as what the vast majority of people in the “middle” of wages have, but something else. Define “small business” based not on number of employees, but number of owners. Define ***everything*** in terms that leave 90% of the country in the, “You are not actually who we are talking about.”, category, then turn around and tell those 90%, at every opportunity, “You are the people we are talking about!”

    Its like rigging a lotto. You tell people, “Everyone can be a winner, if you have the right ticket.”, but the “right tickets” have already been pre-given to other people, and the machine rigged, so only those tickets will ever be drawn. The rubes don’t know any better. They don’t have a damn clue what definition you are really using, or that they are all pretty much “not on the list”. All they know is that they really *are* the middle class, and own a small business, etc., and therefor, you must be telling the truth, when you claim to be protecting *their* interests.

    Pull weapons grade bullshit, but its what you get when you let the politicians and bankers, set the definitions of such words, for 50 years, or more, without checking to see if they redefined them into something that means basically the exact *opposite* of what you imagine they should.

  76. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    The looneytarian wannabee whined:

    I’m also curious as to why nobody seems to have an idea that we should all – everyone of us – pay less taxes. I’d sure like to keep more of my money and I’m sure everyone else would also.

    Cutting taxes means cutting government services. So explain, in detail, exactly which services you feel should be cut. Are you going to do away with the Coast Guard because sailors shouldn’t need rescuing every so often? Or are you abolishing the FDA since everyone should trust the drug companies not to put out dangerous products? Or the Weather Service, after all you get the weather report from the guy on Channel 8?

    Your and my and everybody elses’ taxes go to pay for stuff we use. Not all of us may use certain services. I doubt the average Utahian would miss the Coast Guard. But everyone uses various governmental services that it’s worthwhile for all of us to pay for them.

    I’m sure I’ll get flamed to hell & back over this post but thanks at least for reading my idiotic post.

    Don’t give yourself airs. You haven’t deserved flaming yet.

  77. M says

    Autistics are all libertards/lolbjectivists? Since when? Maybe some are, but I think severe autism has more to do with being unresponsive to the world, and lesser autism with extremely poor social skills and no innate sense for things like bodylanguage. Not with political preference. (Which varies as with any other individual.)

    Maybe Harris meant something else?

    Anyway it’s interesting to see Harris do something I don’t find bland. I certainly don’t dislike the man (whereas I don’t like Hitchens much.) but I don’t usually find him that interesting. (And even if I don’t really LIKE Hitchens, he IS interesting.) Not that it’s a particular competition between the two, but they’re often mentioned along with Dawkins (Who’s the closest thing to me to a modern day Carl Sagan, and whom I like alot.) and Dennett (who I just like.)

    Anyway as for the libertarians… they’re only particularly present on the internet, they’re an irrelevance elsewhere. Who get way to much respect. Their fruitcakes who have a sort of capitalist religion, where their god is the ‘invisible hand of the market’ and laissez-FAIL is their unquestionable dogma. But really… It’s the consies that are the real problem.

    And well if the US does NOT tax the rich soon, it’ll probably not be a world power much longer. (But that’s not a BAD thing. So hey.. go ahead not taxing those rich.) I don’t particularly dislike American citizens. (other then rednecks who I DO dislike.) but America could stand to be knocked down a peg or ten to be honest, far as *I* am concerned. It’s not a good influence on the world and after Bush the country just went mental.

  78. jaycubed says

    I ran into a group of Rand Paul “Libertarians” at my Wed. street market and tried to talk to them. They were quite insane if they actually believed what they were spouting. Perfect examples of Emerson’s “consistency to the point of foolishness”: within 3 minutes I got them to admit their desires for no external controls on themselves or others by any “State” and the desire to settle any property or personal differences with guns (which I can assure you these guys were highly unlikely to own or know how to use).

    Then I realized the truth about these four 20-25 y.o. men. They were still living the fantasy life of 13 y.o. boys. None of them had grown up from early adolescence.

    They were ignorant about much of the subjects they talked about, basing their world views on a lack of real world experience (none had the look/behaviors of the regularly employed) and Ayn Rand’s novels.

    When I pointed out Ron Paul’s recent endorsement of a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, they denied it, claiming he meant that States should be allowed to ban abortion. I asked if that wasn’t still a serious assault on their stated principles of not using force on citizens in any way they kept trying to change the subject. They were, of course, all boys. Nobody could ever force them not to have an abortion.

    I pointed out that their hero, Ayn Rand, was the most active, vocal & publicly recognizable American atheist of her generation. I suggested that she would find undoubtedly find Ron Paul’s endorsement of such religious based nonsense totally counter to her principles and a typical example of another weasel toadying to religious fanatics for political benefit.

    They looked a little sad, but kept up loudly repeating little formulaic catchphrases until I left.

    They were no different from the holy rollers or tea baggers I regularly talk to: True Believers with nothing but simplistic rote answers to real world complex issues.

  79. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Don’t give yourself airs. You haven’t deserved flaming yet.

    Jebus ‘Tis, you almost sound accommodational there. I have the Pulletette Patrol™ on training exercises, and they would love to flame a troll. Let us know when you want original or extra crispy….’)

  80. rincewind'smuse says

    I’m also curious as to why nobody seems to have an idea that we should all – everyone of us – pay less taxes. I’d sure like to keep more of my money and I’m sure everyone else would also.

    This was tried. It was called George W’s administration(though the rich seemed to fare better with their tax cuts than anyone else).Didn’t work out so well.If you got a budget and you can’t meet it you either cut(by itself not a bright thing to do in a recession) or raise the money to pay the bills. Granted not as simple as your budget at home but not brain surgery. It isn’t that we don’t know what to do it’s that no one has the political will to overcome a tea party with perceived power that is immune to common sense and facts, and the lobbyists who own blocks of congressmen and are smart enough to use the tea party.

  81. says

    If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded.”

    It’s statements like these that make me question Sam Harris’ neuroscience credentials, and remind me what a fucking cretin I find him to be.

  82. MAJeff says

    Trickle-down economics – Billionaires and corporations making tons of money will send that money further down the line.

    That would be reasonable, if it was happening. But we can see that the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of the population is growing, which is an indication that it’s not.

    Part of the reason for this is the propaganda with regard to corporation and the super-wealthy as “job creators.” They are not. Instead, they are wealth accumulators. If they can make money without creating jobs, they will gladly do so, as the past four years of escalating profits, corporate cash, and long-term unemployment have indicated.

  83. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls #87

    Jebus ‘Tis, you almost sound accommodational there.

    That’s an insult!

    <goes into corner and sulks>

  84. says

    Cutting taxes means cutting government services. So explain, in detail, exactly which services you feel should be cut.

    The DoD. Oddly, when people talk about cutting, the DoD is the thing that mostly remains off the table. When, if we decided to step back from trying to be world empire and closed all the bases outside of the US, downsized the military radically, and maintained our nuclear deterrent, we’d remain more dangerous than anyone would consider attacking, but incapable of effectively doing a lot of aggressive warfare, ourselves. Currently we spend something like 10X what the 10 countries we are most likely to go to war with spend, combined, on our offensive capabilities. But I just don’t understand why the tea partiers are so strong on “big government” when it comes to having special forces operating around the world, from 200+ bases, and a humongous navy.

  85. says

    If someone were to give me $2bn, I would cheerfully pay $1bn of that in taxes. Heck, I’d cheerfully pay $1.9bn of it in taxes.

    What blows my mind is that I, personally, paid more taxes last year than Chevron, Yahoo!, Exxon-Mobil, and Boeing combined. If somehow, I made as much money as Exxon-Mobil did, I’d be happy to turn all of it except for, say, $500m to the IRS… Doubtless I’d think differently about all this if I were really rich. Because obviously, they do.

  86. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    That’s an insult!

    Sorry, here’s your favorite swill, some popcornz, and a DVD of the Lilac Beret’s on a sailboat.

  87. says

    Objectivism is basically autism rebranded

    I’m sorry, but I got this far and I was so furious I had to stop.

    Why is it still acceptable to brand us as unfeeling, selfish automatons?

    How can supposedly intelligent humanists write this kind of thing?

    Some days I sit alone at home and wonder how I ended up facing spending the rest of my life like this. Then I read what people think of me, and I see why.

    I cry very rarely, but this is one of those times.

  88. says

    I get the impression that any outrage at taxation on the rich is little more than invoking a sense of unfairness – that those who are rich deserve to be.

    It’s not like most people who make such judgements are economists citing real evidence that it works, after all…

  89. Rey Fox says

    claiming he meant that States should be allowed to ban abortion.

    Why the fuck is this shit more acceptable if it’s individual states doing it?

    Fuck states.

  90. says

    It leads to the ideas that warp our country and poison our economies, that the rich deserve their money, and it would therefore be unfair to punish them with taxes for their success, while the poor are clearly lazy parasites (because they aren’t rich!) and therefore deserve to be squeezed and punished further.

    In many cases the rich do deserve their money. They’re rich because they worked hard, and because they saved and invested their money intelligently. Should success be punished? I don’t think so.

    Is punishing the people who do the most hiring good for poor people who are looking for a job? I don’t think so.

    Some poor people are poor because they’re lazy and/or just plain stupid. But I bet the majority of them are a bit like me, poor because of some bad luck or bad decisions, and determined to fix their situation with decades of hard work, living frugally, and making wise investments. They hope to be rich some day, and they are probably not looking forward to being punished for eventually being successful.

    This is why at least some poor people have enough common sense to know the liberals are their enemy. These poor people are the first to feel the effects of their employer’s taxes being increased. They need their employer to be as rich as possible so their business can expand. If they’re unemployed they suffer the most when rich people slow down or stop hiring because of higher taxes.

    I’m a conservative atheist, but unfortunately the idiot country I live in (The United States of Jeebus) gives me the following two choices to vote for: 1. A liberal who wants success to be punished. 2. A god-soaked idiot who wants to destroy science education, destroy scientific progress, and destroy the environment.

    And this is why I wrote the following post:

    Everyone should read both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

    I’m poor but I’m almost certain I will be rich some day (like I was once before) because I have a plan which for good reasons I think will work, and I don’t want to be punished for it.

    How to be wealthy

  91. says

    Ytrus says:
    I’m pretty sure Harris was thinking Asperger’s syndrome when he came up with that “autism” remark. It’s linked with decreased empathy and is considered an autism spectrum disorder. So the statement isn’t completely ludicrous

    Fuck off.

    (a request made in the most empathetic way possible.)

  92. CJO says

    Some poor people are poor because they’re lazy and/or just plain stupid. But I bet the majority of them are a bit like me, poor because of some bad luck or bad decisions, and determined to fix their situation with decades of hard work, living frugally, and making wise investments.

    No, most of the poor are poor because their parents and grandparents and et cetera were poor and they were born poor, and since our society is committed to not taxing the rich and actually funneling the contents of the public coffers into the portfolios of the rich, they’ve not been given any chance to pull themselves or their children out of the cycle of poverty. You’re broke, maybe, but I doubt you’re actually poor, and it’s not the same thing. You’ve also swallowed a bunch of supply-side pseudo-economic lying propaganda, for which you’re about to get your ass handed to you, which I will observe with relish.

  93. says

    Human Ape: you have just made me ashamed of an atheist. You are proof positive that fucking idiots are not confined to the ranks of the religious.

  94. Multicellular says

    Before jumping on Harris for his autism comment I thought it best to check on whether or not there was an alternate meaning of the word, and indeed there is. While most on-line dictionaries give just the psychiatric definition one, dictionary.com, gives a second definition of, “a tendency to view life in terms of one’s own needs and desires.”

    In this context Harris’ use of “autism” may be grammatically correct, although given the social implications this word implies perhaps he could have chosen a better word.

  95. NitricAcid says

    Human Ape #98

    I’m sure many rich people deserve their wealth- thy must have worked really hard to be born to just the right parents to inherit so much money.

  96. says

    f nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded. And Rand’s attempt to make literature out of this awful philosophy produced some commensurately terrible writing.

    WTF?

    Even though I mostly agree with Harris this time, his use of this analogy to autism is horribly misplaced, nasty, ignorant, and demeaning. It’s sloppy, idiotic, and typical of Harris. Leave it to Harris to give me a reason to think he’s a twit even when I actually agree with most of what he’s saying.

  97. Lancelot Gobbo says

    An easy and practical way to separate autism and Asperger’s is to remember that neither of them have friends, but the Aspie wants them whilst the autist doesn’t care. A difference that will be destroyed in DSM V by the way. Now I don’t find Harris’s remark as offensive as some, as the reason why Kanner coined autism was that he believed it indicated an individual totally wrapped up in themselves (and without the competitive aspect of narcissism that requires imagining what others think about you). I can see the word being stretched to cover this situation, when I think as a word freak. But otherwise I have to say it is another example of the kind of thing we will come to see as being as bad as any other group-based slur, such as the recent debate here over the tendency to call people psychotic simply because we disagree with them.
    As to the tax situation – I’m an outsider, but it has always seemed to me to be an over-extension of the protestant ethic that hard work will be rewarded and sloth is a sin, with the all too common confusion in the complacently religious mind of supposed heavenly rewards with earthly monetary rewards. Just what you’d expect in a nation founded by puritans really.

  98. texatheist says

    I think taxation should be fair first and foremost. I think we should all agree to pay taxes evenly, like a flat tax. We can have other taxes on things but it is inherently unfair for one person to have to pay a higher tax rate than someone else, JUST because they’ve been successful in what they do.

    They more likely than not have gotten to their level of success based on hard work and due diligence on whatever it is that they do. That is behavior that should be rewarded, not punished with a higher tax rate just because they make more than the next guy.

    That’s nothing more than slavery, and we’re all against slavery here aren’t we?

  99. says

    Yes, it can mean other things. The question is, when most people think about autism, what is the meaning they think about?

  100. pinkboi says

    Human Ape does have a point. Most poor people don’t stay poor. True, some do, but based on what people are saying here, they must genuinely believe that no one moves up and all rich people are descended from European royalty.

  101. Lancelot Gobbo says

    texatheist, it depends what kind of a country you want to live in. I happily pay my taxes and would pay more if needed to keep a social safety net for the disabled, the sick, the injured etc. I pay them to ensure we have health care free at the time of need. I’d pay more to do a better job of supporting our schools and universities too. It makes my country happier and safer – for me too. Less class warfare, less envy, and less crime, yet more fairness, more compassion and more equality. I don’t want to live in a place where everyone fends for themselves alone, or if unable either goes under or has to rely on the mutually degrading act of charity. By all means call me a socialist – I’m proud of it!

  102. Olav says

    Gnumann:

    I think PZ’s last question is related to the fact that USians have one of the strongest beliefs in social mobility, and one of the lowest actual upward social mobilities in the civilized world.

    The American dream has been swallowed, hook, line and sinker.

    Didn’t George Carlin say: it’s called the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.

    Ah yes, there it is:

    http://tinyurl.com/dbommj (redirects to Youtube)

  103. Anteprepro says

    Human Ape, you’re a fucking moron. Here a 5 example incomes, the amount paid in tax, and the amount remaining: (Tax brackets here http://www.taxbrackets2011.com/ Amount given is for tax rates for one person, head of household)

    Income: 10,000 50,000 100,000 300,000 500,000
    Total tax: 1,000 12,500 25,000 99,000 175,000
    Remaining: 9,000 37,500 75,000 201,000 325,000

    Notice that, despite an increase in tax brackets for all change in incomes (except from 50,000 to 100,000), that you are still gaining money by having a money. Even in a higher tax bracket! Fancy that, huh? That’s one hell of a punishment for Mr. Highest Tax Bracket, walking away with a mere 4.3 times as much as Mr. Hundred Grand after taxes, instead of the even 5 times as much before taxes. Why do you do this to my success, government!? Why do you punish me so!?

    But, if it helps you sleep at night, it doesn’t matter how much higher you get beyond $400,000 in inoome, you still pay the same percentage as someone with $400,000 even. Because Mr. Billionaire Income desperately needs to have 650 million after taxes, and the prospect of having a mere 500 million would make the average American faint in sorrow and rage on the poor Billion-dollar-income Man’s behalf. Take a grand from someone who makes less than a grand per month, sure, but take away half of the excessive amount that the richest make and leave them with the paltry sum of 10,000 times the national median salary? Well, that’s just unforgivable!

  104. says

    NO to flat tax rates.

    If it’s 10%, for instance, that means someone in poverty making $10000/year is left with $9,000 to live on.

    Someone making $1,000,000/year is left with $900,000 to live on. That is an obscene amount of wealth; how do you justify it?

  105. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    They’re rich because they worked hard, and because they saved and invested their money intelligently.

    Oh, ha!

    That single mom that has two jobs to provide for her kids? Obviously she’s not working hard enough to be a millionaire. That guy you know that was laid off during his company’s “restructuring”? Obviously he didn’t work hard enough and deserves to be unemployed. That homeless guy that sleeps in the Y behind my building? He’s an alcoholic, so he deserves no better. Never mind that he will probably work until the day he dies– odd jobs: gardening, painting railings, sweeping the sidewalks– he shouldn’t expect a handout.

    Fuck you. Grow some compassion, you shit sucking weasel.

  106. Carlie says

    Some days I sit alone at home and wonder how I ended up facing spending the rest of my life like this. Then I read what people think of me, and I see why.

    If it helps any, there are many of us who don’t, and we are trying to educate other people on that every time it comes up. I know that you’ve been here a long time and hopefully have seen autistic slurs get knocked down every time they come up; you’re among friends who will stick up for you. The people who say stupid shit about autism like Harris did are people who don’t know anyone who is autistic and who haven’t bothered to find anything out.

    “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

  107. Great American Satan says

    EXACTLY RIGHT. Well said, sir. I had a fellow poor person come with this trash recently when I copped to having some class rage (and had to explain what that was). You REALLY think that everyone with money got that way because they worked harder than poor people? Holy shit, that is flaming stupid.

    Anecdotal evidence there’s more to wealth than merit: Everyone in my circle of friends from high school is in the same class now that their parents were then, except one guy who married into wealth.

    -

  108. pinkboi says

    PZ-

    I’m not for flat tax, but in its defense, no one who’s for flat tax wants the poor to have to pay taxes! There is always a minimum. For that matter, the FairTax proposal has prebates (to take the edge off of what is essentially a regressive tax).

  109. Anteprepro says

    ” We can have other taxes on things but it is inherently unfair for one person to have to pay a higher tax rate than someone else, JUST because they’ve been successful in what they do.”

    Texatheist, do you or do you not agree that people need to eat and need a place to live? Do you or do you not agree that people also need access to a decent vehicle in order to work and get some money to get these salaries and clothes that you need to purchase as well? Do you or do you not agree that costs such as the above, and the cost of electric bills, water and other utilities have a bare minimum, a level that you can go above if you wish to be excessive in either quantity or quality, but that is effectively the amount that is necessary to pay in order to get those services that are, themselves, essentially mandatory? If you accept the above, that there are things that people actually NEED to buy, either to work or to simply survive, then you also need to accept that those with low incomes barely have any money left after paying for these needs, while those with very high incomes will have these needs taken care with a very small percentage of their salary. This is why a progressive tax rate is necessary: because it is unfair to expect those who have to spend 99% on needs to fork over the same percentage as those who have to spend only 10%. It’s not about punishing the wealthy, it’s about not hobbling the poor.

  110. Carlie says

    Oh, there you are. Sorry. Did all the refreshes and reloads I could think of and still didn’t see it.

  111. says

    Audley:

    That single mom that has two jobs to provide for her kids? Obviously she’s not working hard enough to be a millionaire. That guy you know that was laid off during his company’s “restructuring”? Obviously he didn’t work hard enough and deserves to be unemployed.

    Yep. It shouldn’t need to be said, however, a great many people who are filthy rich didn’t get that money by working hard, they inherited it, along with the businesses and investments which keeps it rolling on in.

    A lot of people are struggling like hell to even have enough money to save, let alone invest, for fuck’s sake. Too many people are living paycheck to paycheck as it stands, and that’s a damn stressful way to live. Even so, it doesn’t begin to touch on serious poverty, where a person is barely hanging on by their fingernails and there are people advocating that those fingernails be pulled out.

  112. texatheist says

    @Lancelot Gobbo

    If you want to be generous with your earnings, by all means do so (I do as well), but wouldn’t you rather give it freely, and directed at what YOU want it to go to, rather than have it be forced on you from the government that more often than not squanders it in pork barrel spending for their districts back home? I think it’s great that you want to be giving and care for your fellow man. These are all good things, but graduated taxation is nothing more than forced charity, and that IS a form of slavery. Be in control of where your charity goes is all I’m saying.

    I think all the government programs that have been instituted, well let me rephrase that, MOST all government programs are good things, and I’m all for the government being a safety net for its citizens.

    The long and the short of it is that there are too many leeches on the government tit. Too many people gaming the system trying to get a little bit more, and end up being chronically helpless people.

    Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    We should work on our kids early to learn to be giving and empathetic towards their fellow human beings, and most parents try their hardest to instill such characteristics in their children, but THAT is where our work lays.

    Graduated taxation does nothing more than breed selfish behavior, both in the sense that the big earners try to hoard their wealth because they feel they’re being unfairly treated and the leeches who don’t want to work keep asking for more handouts because we keep giving them one.

  113. CJO says

    Human Ape does have a point.

    No, he really doesn’t. He’s mouthing propaganda.

    Most poor people don’t stay poor.

    Yes they really do. You probably, like Human Ape, ignorantly conflate not having money with being poor. A lot of us middle class folks go through the lean times of getting through college, taking entry-level jobs for shit pay, and working our way up to respectable middle class incomes by our thirties or forties. But that’s not social mobility. We went to college, a massive privilege in itself. We had a reasonable expectation of advancement up from those shit entry level jobs in whatever industries. This is just an example of middle class “advancement” to middle class, with a period of slumming in one’s twenties. No twenty year old with a bank account (however empty) whose parents own a home is “poor” and they should quit imagining that they are, or that there’s anything in the least romantic about actual poverty.

    True, some do, but based on what people are saying here, they must genuinely believe that no one moves up and all rich people are descended from European royalty.

    Social mobility is largely a myth, yes, and has been since the great urbanization of the 20th century and the post WW2 boom. Regressive taxation and the relentless action of the kleptocracy is largely the reason. We have our own nobility and they have the means to hang on to what’s theirs.

  114. says

    Tielserrath:

    Some days I sit alone at home and wonder how I ended up facing spending the rest of my life like this. Then I read what people think of me, and I see why.

    People don’t think that of you. It was one thoughtless idiot. I can’t speak for all the people in your life, however, you are respected and cared for here.

  115. Olav says

    texatheist:

    I think taxation should be fair first and foremost. I think we should all agree to pay taxes evenly, like a flat tax. We can have other taxes on things but it is inherently unfair for one person to have to pay a higher tax rate than someone else, JUST because they’ve been successful in what they do.

    Bollocks. To be successful in any endeavour at all you must always rely on the infrastructure of society, and centralised services. It is only fair to pay for that.

    Flat tax is just stupid. People who benefit the most should pay the most. Otherwise, they would just be leeches.

  116. CJO says

    The long and the short of it is that there are too many leeches on the government tit. Too many people gaming the system trying to get a little bit more, and end up being chronically helpless people.

    Yeah. Those people are called “defense contractors”.

  117. First Approximation (formerly Feynmaniac) says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation

    The majority aren’t.

    According to the poll, 63 percent say the super committee should call for increased taxes on higher-income Americans and businesses, with 36 percent disagreeing.

    The problem is that those with power and influence are opposed.

  118. steve oberski says

    @Occam’s Blunt Instrument

    If somehow, I made as much money as Exxon-Mobil did, I’d be happy to turn all of it except for, say, $500m to the IRS… Doubtless I’d think differently about all this if I were really rich. Because obviously, they do.

    Obviously their shareholders think differently as well.

    Which to a certain extent is you and me. *

    * For example, Exxon Mobil is 49% owned by institutions and mutual funds, the rest is owned by direct holders, no direct holder owns 5% or more of the company.

  119. Multicellular says

    Yes, it can mean other things. The question is, when most people think about autism, what is the meaning they think about?

    Yes, I agree which is why I said he could have been more cognizant of his word choice, but our preconceptions aside, given that it does have different meanings I’ll give Harris the benefit of the doubt. If it comes out that he meant the psychiatric condition then I’d have no problem calling him on it.

  120. First Approximation (formerly Feynmaniac) says

    wut. it’s sociopathy rebranded, not autism. autistic people are capable of empathy, AFAIK.

    QFT

  121. says

    I really cannot understand the selfishness of some of today’s public figures.

    What I’d like to know is how a person working as a waitress or grocery clerk or a hundred other jobs is supposed to be able to save up not only for retirement, but for any medical emergencies that might come along. What would the minimum wage have to be? Would the people who favor dismantling social programs be willing to pay workers enough to replace those benefits? Insert laugh here.

    Of course, you could argue, if you were a selfish idiot, that nobody made that person be a grocery clerk. He could have chosen a higher paying career, so it’s his own fault. Leaving aside how much real opportunity certain classes have, that line of reasoning implies two choices.

    Either working in grocery stores is unnecessary, and society would be fine if no one chose this profession, or it’s fine for some people to themselves to death for our benefit.

    Anyone who uses the benefits of other people’s labors, be it in a store, a restaurant, while traveling, or where ever but doesn’t think the people doing that work are worth the slightest notice is an asshole.

  122. Lancelot Gobbo says

    texatheist, I really don’t see it that way. For someone to accept charity is to be beholden to another individual, and for someone to give it creates a false sense of superiority. Anyway, it’s hardly a dependable source of support for those who are falling through the cracks. I would far rather a society agrees (by virtue of voting for a policy at a general election) on what they want to have available for those in need, and how to define the needs that ought to be met in a just society. Yes, people cheat, and we should go to some – not extreme – lengths to ensure it doesn’t happen commonly, but that’s not a reason to let people starve. I think it right and proper to appoint a government to carry out our wishes in that respect. It doesn’t stop me from giving extra to causes I like, but I think we all should be obliged to contribute to causes that are needful whether we like them or not. This is nothing to do with government waste, which is an indication you aren’t implementing it very well; it shouldn’t change the principles upon which you base your relationship to fellow citizens.

  123. Jim Mauch says

    I can tell you right now that just because I am a billionaire the government does not have a right to tax me. In addition I can tell you right now that from this day forward you will no longer be getting my $10,000,000.00 research grant.

  124. texatheist says

    @Olav

    Reread what I said then because you clearly didn’t hear me clearly. Nowhere did I say that government didn’t provide useful services to its citizens.

    The problem lies in the inherent nature of politics. Too often, these politicians squander the taxes they garner from us as citizens. Too often, the politicians overspend and get us into situations like we in the US have right now.

    We have a 14.6 trillion dollar debt that is growing at alarming rates as I write this. And they want to borrow more?

    They’re god damn idiots! They have little to no business acumen. They are only good at giving each other reach arounds and pats on the back as they shuffle all this money around to fund their pet projects.

    That’s not to say that government isn’t needed. I just think that they need a shorter leash.

    I’m all for helping the next guy, and I actually just gave 300 to someone the other day so they could take a vacation overseas, but I trust myself more with my charity than I do some slick politician or bureaucrat in DC.

  125. Blot says

    Autism was coined Paul Bleuler to describe a condition of morbid self-absorption, and is used pretty much exclusively to designate the neurological condition.
    Those ‘other’ meanings are a bit like the other meanings that ‘woman’ and ‘gay’ have in the sentences:

    “Stop being such a woman” (Addressed to a man who refuses to engage in some macho shit)

    or

    General expression of disapproval: “That’s so gay!”

  126. texatheist says

    @Lancelot Gobbo

    That’s fine. I didn’t say the government shouldn’t help it’s citizens, it already does, what I’m saying is that it’s inherently unfair.

    Do you want to be fair? When YOU’RE the one making gobs of money, wouldn’t YOU feel a little perturbed at being forced to pay extra just because you can?

    The reality is that those people at the top are usually, not always of course, smart fucking people. They know how to make things happen, they made things happen to get them to the top. They USE those millions to make more millions for themselves, yes of course, but those millions they move make jobs, make it so that people can work for a living.

    Are there poor stewards in these positions of power who got their based on something other than hard work ethics and morals? Sure. But they usually burn out after they’re found out to be less than stellar individuals. Society deals with them when they overstep their bounds. That’s what government is for, well one of the reasons anyway.

    Look, it’s just plain unfair to tax someone more than the next guy. There is no two ways of looking at it. Besides, those peeps who do make the millions do pay MORE than the next guy just by moving their money around and using it in new business ventures, that hopefully will grow and create MORE jobs.

    When people are fearful that the government is going to tax them if they use their money, what are they going to do? Hold onto their money and not put it into taxable income, and everyone suffers as a result.

    Money is like kharma, you gotta keep it moving for everyone to get to enjoy it.

  127. Pierce R. Butler says

    While increased taxes on income and/or wealth may do some good in redressing pathological social imbalances within the US, my personal favorite suggestion involves massive taxation – 100% & up – of political campaign contributions over, say, $50.

  128. says

    That is behavior that should be rewarded, not punished with a higher tax rate just because they make more than the next guy.

    That’s nothing more than slavery, and we’re all against slavery here aren’t we?

    Why yes, it’s just like slavery.

    Oh, except for the freedom, the greater after-tax income than the average, and the high socioeconomic status with the privilege with which those come. Aside from those, and a few other aspect, it’s just like slavery.

    Meanwhile, the wage slaves toiling their lives away are like the aristocracy, except for the lack of money, poorer health, despair, and lack of any realistic possibility for getting out of their predicament (why do you think they are the ones to buy lottery tickets–and to buy into a non-existent afterlife?). Just a few inconveniences such as those, and otherwise they’re like the aristocracy.

    Why, you only have to invert reality and your stupidity would be truth.

    Glen Davidson

  129. pinkboi says

    texatheist-

    The long and the short of it is that there are too many leeches on the government tit. Too many people gaming the system trying to get a little bit more, and end up being chronically helpless people.

    There are welfare leeches. I know some of them. The reality, however, is that poor people aren’t the problem. The biggest leeches are wealthy rent-seekers or “crony capitalists.” The poor don’t have the votes and they don’t have the influence money, so the government only half-assedly works for them. The government isn’t Robin Hood. If anything, it’s Scuba Hood (remember that Tom Green sketch?) The middle-class get things for free they could afford to buy themselves. Private contractors and “consultants” gouge our gov’t for money. This isn’t just wastefulness. This is a defining feature of our economy. Major industries leech off of taxpayers and it is, indeed making us all poorer.

    I contend that the basic safety net that so many of you guys insist we can’t have without high taxes can be had even with low taxes. Keeping people from starving to death is cheap. Making me not have to pay to use roads or pay the full costs of state schools is expensive. Building stadiums is expensive.

  130. texatheist says

    @Glen Davidson

    Cute twist of my words there bro. Let’s try to keep it productive conversation instead of being sniping. Peace?

  131. says

    A modest proposal: Don’t tax the rich, eat them. Render them down to heat our houses, suck the marrow right out of their bones, and fuck them in the ass for our pleasure.

  132. Francisco Bacopa says

    OK,OK, I just barely skimmed the comments and will now make some points that have to some extent already been addressed above.

    It is sometimes supposed that the rich are a natural aristocracy, they are rich because they are naturally better than the rest of us. How could this be an argument against higher taxes on the rich? If they’re so much better, they can handle it. We also know that coming from a wealthy and stable background is a huge advantage. If we really believe in a natural aristocracy should we not tax the hell out of large inheritances? If they’re really so superior they should be able to make it on their own, and even with huge estate taxes the young’uns could still have tons of tax exempt gift transfer money and low tax trust funds. With careful planning a guy like W could still start two failed energy companies and buy a baseball team.

    I think part of this is why so many people hated Bill Clinton. He was total white-trash (and I say this as a barely risen above white-trash person myself) but he proved that “Study hard and one day you could become President” is really true. Disaster! Dumbass whiteboy got above his raisin’, us other dumbass whiteboys gotta hate him. We embrace the notion of God-anointed wealthy lords, but not the smartass aas low as a ni**er race traitor who GTFO of Hot Springs.

    And Obama has some of this bootstrap spunk himself. His mama was a struggling poor gentry Southern gal who was one of those crazy ferrin lovin women and had babiez with a Kenyan and an Indonez.., Indini.. “How do you spell that” man. But Obama fought his way out of that. Similar hate as Clinton, but with race mixing mixed in.

    Some people of humble origins will always get out. I am of humble origins and though my parents tried in their clueless way, I didn’t have the fire inside to do much better. But some, even among the lowliest, could have even more chances if the rich kid slackers who couldn’t hack it (W is a prime example) had more of their income taxed and we actually spent money in schools to hire people with passion about the subjects they teach. Nor should we neglect vocational education. Some people just don’t belong in a traditional college environment, though they might make totally badass auto mechanics or HVAC techs. If that’s what they like, send them out of high school totally ready to become HVAC techs.

    And let’s not put this all in terms of welfare. While I support welfare and Medicaid to prevent the worst disasters befalling the least able to deal with them, I wanna see people work and learn. They’re tearing up streets and digging a couple cut and cover tunnels to build the University Line segment of our rail system. Why not hire some dudes to do this with mattocks and then train them how to operate the backhoe with the pneumatic chisel? Don’t spend it on welfare, spend it on the work that needs to be done. Hire people, fire people to teach them the responsibilities in holding a job. Fix the bridges up in Minnesota, build the University Line faster with mattock swinging poor people. I am sure that wherever you are there are projects to to be done. Let’s do them.

  133. texatheist says

    Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that never were and ask why not.

  134. says

    Obviously their shareholders think differently as well.

    Yeah, so that amounts to a tax shelter for those who can afford to buy stock in E-M, because it inflates the value of E-M stock at the expense of the rest of us who meanwhile contribute to the treasury.

    So if your point was that there’s a lot of people cashing on the ripoff, yes, it’s true.

  135. says

    When people are fearful that the government is going to tax them if they use their money, what are they going to do? Hold onto their money and not put it into taxable income, and everyone suffers as a result.

    Money is like kharma, you gotta keep it moving for everyone to get to enjoy it.

    Thank god (?) there was no recession, as surely the rich wouldn’t just sit on their money, rather they’d invest or spend it. That saved the government trillions of dollars that would have gone into combating the effects of the recession, and stimulating the economy.

    Oh fuck, that was just in your dreams.

    Here’s a thought–tax the damn rich and get the goddamned money into circulation, instead of bidding up gold and other properties. Nothing’s gained by bidding up investments beyond what they’re worth, it just sucks money in unproductively.

    You really know nothing about economics except for bullshit fed to you by the greedy.

    Glen Davidson

  136. Mr. Fire says

    Human Ape, you’re a deranged socipathic shitstain. You’re also a stupid fuck, verging on Poe as you are with ridiculous canards that have already been laughed off within this very thread.

    Also, cut the Vulcaner-than-thou schtick. Hell, you sound bored even of your own awfulness, and embody the phrase ‘banality of evil’ like few other shithead commenters that I’ve seen around here.

  137. texatheist says

    @Glen Davidson

    Man! Glen, calm down bro. Why do you have to be so abusive? Does it somehow lend more credence to your argument to belittle your “opponent” so?

    If you want to have a discussion, I’m all ears.

  138. says

    Cute twist of my words there bro. Let’s try to keep it productive conversation instead of being sniping. Peace?

    For a productive discussion we’d need to be discussing reality, not fantasies about how progressive taxation is “like slavery” and how it’s “just plain unfair.” I don’t think that rates should necessarily go as high as they were prior to Reagan, and even the Laffer Curve has a point, if not much of one.

    But you’re not talking reality, you’re moralizing economics rather than considering the reality of it.

    Glen Davidson

  139. Ganf says

    Since 1980, income taxes from individuals have averaged around 8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while income taxes from Corporations has averaged about 2.5% of GDP.

    Distribution of wealth has shifted even further towards the wealthy, where the bottom 50% of incomes has 2.5% of total wealth and the top 10% have 71.5%. Remarkably, the top 1% have 33.5% of total wealth in the United State. These levels of inequality place the US in 97th place out of 136 nations, putting us just ahead of Jamaica and just behind Cameroon.

  140. says

    Man! Glen, calm down bro. Why do you have to be so abusive? Does it somehow lend more credence to your argument to belittle your “opponent” so?

    You’re talking bullshit, and I’m calling you on it.

    Quit telling us stupid lies, then we can have a discussion.

    Glen Davidson

  141. texatheist says

    @pinkboi

    The ANSWER is not to punish, well of course we should punish those who do wrong, but the answer is not to punish someone for making more money than the next. Fortunes turn.

    The answer is to build better people. Build better ethics and morals into children and the society is better for it.

    Our public education system only requires 1 hour of morals and ethics classes in high school around where I live. ONE HOUR! They’re not teaching these kids how to learn, they’re teaching them rote memory techniques and how to pass the test rather than teaching them how to think their way through the test.

    It’s pitiful, and we in the United States spend as much as the next 10 countries combined (can’t remember the correct stat but it’s crazy how much we spend per child). And our kids grade low against other nations.

    THAT is where the work lays people.

    Build better citizens and the society reaps the rewards of that.

  142. says

    texatheist:

    Glen, calm down bro.

    Here’s a hint for ya: do not tell people, let alone respected regulars who happen to be OMs to “calm down”. It’s an idiot move and a flawed assumption. All it does is make an ass out of you.

    Why do you have to be so abusive? Does it somehow lend more credence to your argument to belittle your “opponent” so?

    So, you want to be a Tone Troll on top of being an assumptive cupcake? Tch, bad move. If you pay attention to the substance of comments, you’ll be fine. I’d suggest you do that.

  143. FossilFishy says

    Tielserrath:

    Some days I sit alone at home and wonder how I ended up facing spending the rest of my life like this. Then I read what people think of me, and I see why.

    I have a customer who’s Asperger’s is far enough along the spectrum that he needs to live alone in the bush. Mind you, he’s built himself a micro-hydro station and a three wheeled electric vehicle to get in and out of town but that’s another story. I know this is mere anecdote but he is far from being a compassionless person. He hides that side of himself a lot because he has no sense of when it’s appropriate to express it and I can see how people who are unaware of Asperger’s would misconstrue that.

    Actually, he WAS a customer and this is my point: I’m now pleased to consider him a friend. When he told me about his Asperger’s I did some research about it and then asked him about his experiences in light of what I had read. This made our interactions much easier and now he knows he can relax around me enough to express his full range of emotions without fear of being inappropriate. Or more to the point, without fear I’m going to get upset by any apparently inappropriate behavior.

    It is possible to find decent, caring examples of neurotypical folk and the skeptic/rationalist community is a great place to do that. I think it likely that most skeptics when confronted with a similar situation would do as I did and educate themselves rather than avoid friendship with someone who just happens to have a different brain structure.

  144. pinkboi says

    @CJO –

    Yes they really do. You probably, like Human Ape, ignorantly conflate not having money with being poor. A lot of us middle class folks go through the lean times of getting through college, taking entry-level jobs for shit pay, and working our way up to respectable middle class incomes by our thirties or forties.

    Right. I ignorantly consulted the dictionary for my definition of poverty. And IRS statistics on income mobility. Maybe different people have different attitudes, but I’ve rather enjoyed the process thus far even though your experience doesn’t sound different from mine.

    @Lancelot Gobbo –

    Charity is able to operate with less overhead than public assistance. I don’t think giving people a “false sense of superiority” or anything like that constitutes a good reason to dislike charity. For one, the same must be true of paying taxes (rich people like to bitch about how much they had to pay; and the bitching functions as bragging). And I don’t see how receiving charity is any more degrading than receiving public assistance. The only thing wrong with Charity is not enough people voluntarily give. People have a mentality that they don’t need to give because our government will handle it. Indeed, Americans used to give much more to charity than they do now and mutual aid (hardly degrading!) played an important role in providing assistance and even medical care. This demonstrates that the crowd-out effect is real. So the benefit of expanding welfare wasn’t just the seen benefits of welfare, but something like the benefits of welfare, minus the benefits mutual aid provided.

  145. texatheist says

    @Glen,

    I’m not talking bullshit bro. We can agree to disagree, but keep it civil bro. No need for name calling, I never attacked you and we can talk it through if you like (I can hear the tone troll attacks already being typed and I haven’t even clicked send yet).

    THIS is what’s wrong with society. Everyone’s an expert, or so they think, even me! ;-)

  146. Anteprepro says

    Texatheist: “The ANSWER is not to punish, well of course we should punish those who do wrong, but the answer is not to punish someone for making more money than the next.”

    You keep repeating this, so I will ask directly: In what manner, exactly, is a higher tax rate for higher income “punishment”? It is simply a slight decrease on the rate of increase of money, but you are still gaining money, and still gaining more money than if you had an income that would put you in a lower tax bracket, with a lower tax rate. And, as I mentioned before, the wealthier are expected to pay more, not to punish them, but simply because they are better able to afford it. So, how is it punishment? Do you have any concrete evidence that higher taxes on higher income is somehow a deterrent against getting those higher incomes?

  147. says

    I never attacked you

    Just like the IDiots, you think you can come in with a host of lies about others (at least by implication), and if you’re not directly attacking a person you’re being mistreated when called on your offensive tripe.

    Progressive taxation is not at all like slavery, and we are not like pro-slavery forces if we support it. Get some humility, learn something other than the narrow ideology that you “know is true,” then we can discuss matters.

    When people “to be civil” are asked to respect contemptible lies, reasonable discussion is impossible.

    As it happens, though, I’m not continuing with this anyhow. I sometimes have a life, and this weekend is one of those times, so I’m not likely to be here much for a while.

    Glen Davidson

  148. Classical Cipher, OM says

    I’m not talking bullshit bro. We can agree to disagree, but keep it civil bro.

    Stop it, you blithering numskull. It’s painful enough reading your ignorant tripe without your dumbass verbal affectations.

    tielserrath, *hugs*, and your choice of swill and chocolate is waiting for you in the Saloon.

    Multicellular, don’t be an ableism-enabling clod, all right?

  149. texatheist says

    @Anteprepro

    you asked,
    Do you have any concrete evidence that higher taxes on higher income is somehow a deterrent against getting those higher incomes?

    Obviously it isn’t a deterrent because people still strive to earn more. Obviously earning more allows one more luxuries in life.

    You also asked me “In what manner, exactly, is a higher tax rate for higher income “punishment”?”

    To which I respond with a few questions first, and then MY answer to these questions, and then we can quibble.

    What is fair (in this context)?

    What is the opposite of fair?

    To me, what is fair is everyone paying their share, when it comes to taxes.

    The opposite of fair is of course unfair. Wouldn’t you say it’s unfair to make someone pay a higher percentage of their income, JUST because they can?

    Do you REALLY see that as fair to the next guy, that he has to pay more just because he can?

    I mean sure, yeah, it probably doesn’t affect him much in the grand scheme of things for him to pay a little extra, but to me it’s nothing more than highway robbery.

    It’s the troll on the bridge taking tolls and seeing a wealthy individual coming along and licking his chops saying to himself, “ooooh, look at that tasty morsel” and imagining the money he’s going to extract from him.

    It’s just plain unfair man, unless you can prove to me that it isn’t, but it seems pretty logical to me that it’s unfair to make someone else pay extra just because they can.

  150. Olav says

    texatheist:

    @Olav

    Reread what I said then because you clearly didn’t hear me clearly.

    I heard you very clearly, thank you.

    Nowhere did I say that government didn’t provide useful services to its citizens.

    The problem lies in the inherent nature of politics. Too often, these politicians squander the taxes they garner from us as citizens. Too often, the politicians overspend and get us into situations like we in the US have right now.

    If you have a problem with the “inherent nature” of politics (as do I in a lot of cases), then you should work to change that “inherent nature” (it really should not have to be so “inherent” at all). I know it is not easy, but it isn’t impossible either. Norway and Sweden aren’t bad examples to look for inspiration. There are changes happening there too, but they still have fairly competent and reasonably non-corrupt governments and relatively egalitarian societies with rather high tax rates.

    “Starving the beast” is not a solution. Taming and training the beast to do the tricks it is supposed to do, is. But in order for it to perform its tricks, you would have to keep feeding it – this can’t be avoided. And if government is actually working for the common good, it is only logical that people contribute to it according to their ability. So the rich pay relatively more: they owe it to their fellow citizens without whom they would never be able to acquire any success or wealth.

    The amount of income tax you pay, you should not think of it as money that is taken from you. The money was never yours to begin with. It is money that belongs to the society in which you live and work, and it enables you to keep the money you earn after taxes. It really is a small price to pay.

  151. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    It’s just plain unfair man, unless you can prove to me that it isn’t, but it seems pretty logical to me that it’s unfair to make someone else pay extra just because they can.

    Jesus Christ, are you 15?

    Although I kind of called it with the “fairness” thing. To wit, comment #39:

    … they just have an incredibly skewed view of what is fair. Rich people, you see, earned their money**, so it’s not fair that the government takes it away.

    Waaaaah waaaaah waaaaaah! The rich gambled their money on oil and corn futures– how dare the government take their earnings away??

  152. texatheist says

    Glen, I understand what you’re saying, but do you want to make friends or create animosity.

    Not that we’d “really” be friends, but there are other ways to get your point across without being abusive. Don’t worry, I can take it though (not that you were worried).

    I see you have pretty thick skin. One has to develop it if one wants to dwell in the pond scum of internet chat rooms. ;-)

  153. Seymour Brighton says

    Sam has preferred a newspaper editorial style for his website, so he literally gets tons of mail about every post. I think he prefers it that way. He’s a very neat, zen kinda guy, and comments seem messy for his style.

    On the other hand, if he _had_ a comments section that was well-run like PZ’s such that it became a community of sorts, besides the extra work involved, he would receive far less direct response and more people nutting out the issues raised right there on the page.

    I think people would be less likely to take a “that’s it, I’m un-subscribing” kinda attitude and would instead be exposed to other people who actually _agree_ with points Sam makes. Then Sam would have to defend his views less and would have less reactive readers who stay longer on his website, even if they disagree with him.

    FossilFishy: Great attitude! I’m the same. I highly recommend a book by John Elder Robison (the older brother of “Running with Scissors” author Augusten Burroughs) called “Look Me In The Eye” about his life with Aspergers- childhood, careers, family life, etc. He’s a great writer who sat down and punched out the book non-stop over a few weeks (cos he has superhuman concentration, which obviously helped him in his particular careers).

  154. Carlie says

    When YOU’RE the one making gobs of money, wouldn’t YOU feel a little perturbed at being forced to pay extra just because you can?

    No. Honest to Chthulu, no. Because if I were making gobs of money, it would be because I was able to take advantage of living in a society where crime isn’t rampant, and where I could go to school for free (!), and could drive around on roads and have a fire department protect my house and doctors to help when I’m sick. Because I would realize that I got to where I am thanks not only to my own work, but thanks to all of the societal supports I had throughout my entire life.

    Think of it this way: higher taxes is a way to ensure that there won’t be marauding hordes of poor disenfranchised people with no other alternatives at your door, and it’s cheaper than the razor-wire fence and personal bodyguards you’d have to hire instead to protect yourself from them.

    Even the Bible says “to whom much is given, much is required”. Not that religious people bother to notice that one.

  155. Olav says

    texatheist:

    To me, what is fair is everyone paying their share, when it comes to taxes.

    Me too. Paying their share, exactly right. We agree.

    Of course, it has to mean that anyone who takes a bigger share, also pays a bigger share.

    I am waiting for you to see the elegant logic and fairness in that.

  156. texatheist says

    Graduated taxation is nothing more than squeezing a little more blood out of the turnip.

  157. Carlie says

    The opposite of fair is of course unfair. Wouldn’t you say it’s unfair to make someone pay a higher percentage of their income, JUST because they can?

    Do you REALLY see that as fair to the next guy, that he has to pay more just because he can?

    I mean sure, yeah, it probably doesn’t affect him much in the grand scheme of things for him to pay a little extra, but to me it’s nothing more than highway robbery.

    How would you like to determine “fair”, though? I can think of one way to determine fair: for a given city, figure out the average home price, average car price, average cost of living for a year per household size. You get to keep all the money that you make that will allow you to get all of those things. Anything more you make is extra that will be taken in taxes. See? That’s fair, because everyone gets to enjoy the same standard of living. How is that more unfair than asking everyone to contribute the same percentage of income, especially since for lower income people that percentage represents a much larger chunk out of what they need to survive?

  158. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Graduated taxation is nothing more than squeezing a little more blood out of the turnip.

    No, it is what every civilized society expects. Which means you are an arrogant uncivilized turd. Perhaps a liberturd, equal parts arrogance and ignorance.

  159. harold says

    texatheist –

    Do you want to be fair? When YOU’RE the one making gobs of money, wouldn’t YOU feel a little perturbed at being forced to pay extra just because you can?

    .

    Not in the slightest. In fact, when I was younger, I was highly dissatisfied with my income and decided to do much better. I did it by working more, and more importantly, by getting more education and becoming qualified for much higher paying work.

    I did not do it by indulging in a lot of childish whining about the progressive income tax system, a system which is part of what built the society that gave me opportunity.

    That won’t work for you, either. I suspect that you think that by being a groveling lickspittle who rushes to the defense of the fantastically wealthy, you will persuade them to fling a few coins your way. What you overlook is that anyone can be a groveling lickspittle. There is no barrier to entry.

    The reality is that those people at the top are usually, not always of course, smart fucking people.

    I notice that you define “at the top” as “having the most money”. Why are you reading and commenting on a science blog, if that’s the case? I believe even Ayn Rand, whom you no doubt adulate, respected scientific and artistic success as well.

    They know how to make things happen, they made things happen to get them to the top.

    Sorry, pal, they don’t want you on “Celebrity Apprentice”.

    They USE those millions to make more millions for themselves, yes of course, but those millions they move make jobs, make it so that people can work for a living.

    This amounts to claim that lower tax rates on the very wealthy translate directly into jobs. That amounts to a lie.

    Look, it’s just plain unfair to tax someone more than the next guy. There is no two ways of looking at it. Besides, those peeps who do make the millions do pay MORE than the next guy just by moving their money around and using it in new business ventures, that hopefully will grow and create MORE jobs.

    Unfortunately for you, “fair”, I perceive as “grossly unfair”.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that never were and ask why not.

    That quote is from Robert F. Kennedy. It refers to a vision for this nation that was the opposite of one grounded in greed, ass-kissing whoever happens to be rich at the moment, or anything else you seem to be determined to stand for.

  160. says

    they must genuinely believe that no one moves up and all rich people are descended from European royalty.

    you’re an idiot. intergenerational social mobility has been declining steadily since the 1960’s, and the US has now the worst intergenerational mobility among OECD countries. Intragenerational mobility seems less bad only because in the US, teenagers and college students often work and are thus often considered “poor” despite most of them being middle-class. So after being “poor” as students, they eventually become middle-class like their parents, and that is pretended to be true intragenerational mobility.

    unless they’re black; black americans have plenty nor intergenerational mobility; but most of it is downwards at the moment

    and that’s only about income. once you look into wealth, the thing that’s far more important for creating and maintaining of a good quality of life, it gets even worse.

  161. Classical Cipher, OM says

    It’s just plain unfair man, unless you can prove to me that it isn’t, but it seems pretty logical to me that it’s unfair to make someone else pay extra just because they can.

    What’s truly fascinating is that the specimen is clearly convinced xe’s making actual arguments worth responding to, rather than emitting babble with all the informational content and intellectual appeal of a pile of used cat litter – interesting, perhaps, to those who can even find some beauty in that which most see as revolting and banal, but ultimately not even the most intrepid and iron-stomached of these would want it in their living rooms.

  162. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Graduated taxation is nothing more than squeezing a little more blood out of the turnip.

    Except there’s no blood in a turnip, but rich people BY DEFINITION! have a lot of money. Good god, arguing with you is like arguing with my cat.

    Are you really this stupid?

  163. Therrin says

    Wouldn’t you say it’s unfair to make someone pay a higher percentage of their income, JUST because they can?

    No.

  164. texatheist says

    Olav, everybody else…

    If I make 100,000 and my tax rate is 15% I pay 15,000 right?

    If I make 1,000,000 and my tax rate is 15%, I pay 150,000 right?

    Hey! wow, that’s more money collected than the person who earned 100,000…

    It is fallacious to say that the rich person didn’t pay more in taxes… they clearly did… to the tune of 135,000 more than the person paying on 100,000 of income…

    So rich people DO pay more in taxes already, and you just gotta get a few more percentage points out of them… Squeeze a little more blood out of that turnip.

  165. Seymour Brighton says

    Texatheist: Glen has a little thing for PZ. He’s almost _always_ the first commenter, and his commenting style is what he _thinks_ PZ might say – he envies PZ’s ability to be right about something and call people out using strong language – but Glen ends up just being one of those aggressive, name-calling righter-than-you commenters. I’ve never engaged directly with Glen Davidson for that reason, even though I’ve lurked and commented for about 3 years. Don’t worry, brosef, I respect you simply because you might be the _only_ atheist in Texas…

  166. says

    Do you want to be fair? When YOU’RE the one making gobs of money, wouldn’t YOU feel a little perturbed at being forced to pay extra just because you can?

    no, why would I? I’d still have fuckloads more than most people, what does it matter HOW much more? life is not a contest, and the one who dies with the most money/stuff does not win the game

  167. Aqua Buddha says

    An economy in which janitors, coal miners, nurses, teachers, etc receive puny pay/benefits and little social empowerment for doing genuinely productive labor, while speculators responsible for crashing the economy receive lavish rewards IS AS BACKWARDS AS IT GETS

  168. texatheist says

    You obviously can’t know for sure without me giving out personal information but you should know, I say all this as a person who makes a little under $50,000 a year.

    I’m not rich, and I’m not defending the rich.

  169. Rey Fox says

    Graduated taxation is nothing more than squeezing a little more blood out of the turnip.

    And now you’re talking bullshit again. Stop trying to pretend that this is some great hardship for the rich. It’s not.

  170. says

    It’s just plain unfair man, unless you can prove to me that it isn’t, but it seems pretty logical to me that it’s unfair to make someone else pay extra just because they can.

    let me guess: it’s “common sense”, huh? *rolleyes*

    dude, there’s fuckloads of research indicating that in more equal societies, EVERYONE is better off, except the top quintile, who aren’t significantly worse off. The top quintile is not more important than the rest, so completely sacrificing the wellbeing of the other 80% of the population to make the top 20% a wee tiny bit better off is not “fair” by any sane understanding of the word.

  171. Dianne says

    When YOU’RE the one making gobs of money, wouldn’t YOU feel a little perturbed at being forced to pay extra just because you can?

    Well, no. I am making, if not gobs of money, at least a decent amount and honestly would like my taxes to be higher. Actually, the older and richer I’ve gotten the MORE I want my tax rate to increase. You see, when I was young and poor I was willing to put up with subpar work because I couldn’t afford any better. But now I want people who work for me-including my government-to behave like professionals and do the job they were paid to do.

    Just as I wouldn’t be happy if, say, I hired someone to put electrical wiring in my house and they said, “Great news! We’re only going to charge you half of our original estimate…of course, we’ll have to use extension cord instead of regular wiring…and my 15 year old niece will be the ‘electrician’ doing the wiring”, I’m not happy with my government giving me a “discount” on my taxes then doing a sloppy, unprofessional job at maintaining infrastructure, providing for the health and safety of its citizens, and promoting education and science. Charge enough to do a good job and DO IT!

  172. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m not rich, and I’m not defending the rich.

    And I have title to a bridge over the East River which I will sell to you, that has as much credence as you do with that statement.

  173. texatheist says

    @ Ray Fox…

    It’s NOT that it’s more of an imposition on them. They CLEARLY can pay it.

    This is argument on the principle of it all. It is just NOT fair to FORCE someone else to pay more just because they can.

    If you can’t understand that, it’s because you’re not reading what I’m saying without emotion… Just read what I’ve said.

    I’ll say this again because people may have missed it.

    If I make 100,000 and my tax rate is 15% I pay 15,000 right?

    If I make 1,000,000 and my tax rate is 15%, I pay 150,000 right?

    Hey! WOW! That’s more money collected from the person making a million than the person who earned 100,000…

    It is fallacious to say that the rich person didn’t pay more in taxes… they clearly did… to the tune of 135,000 more than the person paying on 100,000 of income…

    So rich people DO pay more in taxes already, and you just gotta get a few more percentage points out of them… Squeeze a little more blood out of that turnip.

  174. Therrin says

    I’m not defending the rich.

    Of course not, you’re just defending the job creators. Stay on message!

  175. Carlie says

    There are also many ways in which people who have more money get rewarded by paying less in taxes.

    Own a house? Pay less tax!
    Invest in certain areas? Pay less tax!
    Buy the right energy-efficient machine at the right time? Pay less tax!

    There are all sorts of incentives for people who have money to pay less tax, that people who don’t have much money can’t take advantage of.

  176. SallyStrange says

    I’m not defending the rich.

    Liar.

    What you earn is irrelevant, taxatheist. What’s relevant is that your arguments are othragonal to reality. You’re not addressing the arguments that have already been put forth. You can’t seem to absorb the concept of marginal value, nor explain why the rich aren’t currently hiring people or investing in research. You fail at logic and you fail at empathy. You’ve presented no compelling case as to why anyone should listen to your half-baked ideas.

  177. says

    bah, blockquote fail

    This is argument on the principle of it all.

    deontological arguments are for the shallowminded and religious.

    It is just NOT fair to FORCE someone else to pay more just because they can.

    you’re going to have to provide a better argument than repetition and assertion, if you want to be taken seriously

  178. D says

    To echo sentiments of others. I can’t take people advocating level playing field type income taxes seriously unless they also are advocating the nullification of inheritance.

  179. Aqua Buddha says

    Economic remuneration is totally backwards in capitalism. Hard, debilitating work should be compensated MORE THAN work that is light, easy, and personally empowering.

    If we lived in a sane world, working people should be the millionaires, while doctors/lawyers should have to struggle to get by (which they oughta put up with, since having that kind of an empowering job is reward enough) and speculative investors should be living on the street or in prison.

  180. Carlie says

    texatheist – why are there rich people in all of the other first and second world countries, and many of the third as well? They all have highest income tax brackets higher than ours, and yet they still have rich people who happily live there and pay more tax.

    Why?

  181. Johan Fruh says

    Most of the rich are rich thanks to a good education and great possiblities given by their country…
    I always found it normal for them to give back.

    Then you got these huge companies that can actually get their work done and export/import thanks to all these roads, bridges, ports, airports…. shouldn’t they be paying for the construction and maintenance of these?

    Oh.. and actually the “robbing” is usually done by the rich captialists…
    You’ve basically got modern day slavery, with big companies making incredible profits, all while paying the smallest possible salaries (sometimes barely enough to survive).
    And if the minimum wage is too high? Go to vietnam and exploit people there while you can….

    And then… there’s the talk of fairness….
    Fairness?!?!

    You’ve got some people making hundreds of millions of dollars, for say.. one good song they wrote.
    Or for goofing around on a television set.
    And then you’ve got people spending 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, working non stop in horrible conditions… and they’re paid 5$ a month….
    Then people summon fairness to protect the rich?!? Come on….
    Not to forget that these poor souls, spending their entire life at work for a miserable fee, are working FOR the immensely rich.

  182. says

    There are also many ways in which people who have more money get rewarded by paying less in taxes.

    conversely, being poor is more expensive than being middle class (though that has more to do with certain business-practices than with taxes)

  183. Seymour Brighton says

    ‘Fair’ and ‘unfair’, vs. what works and what doesn’t work.

    There’s an emotional component, because we’re human developed our sense of fairness when we were smaller lumps of flesh.

    But whether one system works better than another is a logical question, and one that CAN be answered, no matter how it makes people feel in their gut.

    Hey, stem cell research just seems _wrong_ to some people out there, but _we_ know that it would be the solution to so much suffering. It seems like such a logical, obvious choice.

    So there’s always the *emotional* reaction to get over, like when you first started toying with the idea that God might not exist, and then there’s the *logic* of the issue, which is undeniable.

    I think people have trouble thinking rationally about issues like tax (and god, and stem cells) because emotional concepts like ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ get in the way of their brain’s comprehension.

    I had a difficult transition to pro-Choice… and I can say that I only got there once I stopped arguing and put down one view before ‘trying on’ another.

    Some people, though, will stay at their guns. It’s usually AFTER the conversation is over that people do most of their thinking.

  184. texatheist says

    Carlie, because they want to live there? Who knows for sure, you’d have to ask them.

  185. Classical Cipher, OM says

    I’m not defending the rich.

    Wow. Kinda reminds me of a small child covering her eyes and being convinced no one can see her. Don’t worry, texatheist, you could still grow out of it.

    This is argument on the principle of it all. It is just NOT fair to FORCE someone else to pay more just because they can.

    Do you think it’s okay for people who haven’t agreed to your “principles” to die, starve, or be forced to engage in illegal and dangerous actions to get by, all for the sake of your “principles”?

  186. says

    I can’t take people advocating level playing field type income taxes seriously unless they also are advocating the nullification of inheritance.

    QFT. and to add to this, the whole concept of “Equality of Opportunity” doesn’t make any sense when counting for some reason starts when a person leaves home. The first 18-22 years count, too. And it’s obvious to anyone except the ideologically blinded that there is no equality of opportunity among minors, since their opportunities are directly caused by the class of their parents, especially in the USA.

    you want equal taxation on every adult? then you have to first make sure that they all had true “Equality of Opportunity” and that no one had any advantage because of their parents.

    since that’s not going to happen, progressive taxation is necessary to offset some of the disadvantages people face. And evidence suggests no measurable detriment to the quality of life of those classes who end up having to pay the highest tax-rate

  187. texatheist says

    I’m sinking here! I can’t answer you all damn it! ;-)

    Look people, Don’t get so offended but your concept of fair is skewed a little methinks, but that’s just my opinion and we all know opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.

    There are plenty of countries throughout the world that use flat tax rates, and there are more coming online or are considering it.

    It’s just fair if everyone pays the same.

  188. Seymour Brighton says

    Texatheist: Did you read Sam Harris’ original posts?

    It would be good practise for you to seek out the BEST arguments for the view you don’t agree with, so that you have the best chance of changing your mind (if you should) but those arguments are not forthcoming here, I’m afraid.

    I think these folks aren’t interested in explaining or teaching so much as tearing down your arguments like it’s a heated debate. I can hear that you feel like you have a strong, valid point and that no-one is listening.

    There _are_ good counterpoints to the “fair”/”unfair” thing, but no-one is making them and I’m not an economist :/

  189. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Tex, really, you need to define “fair” before you make such asinine assertions.

    Is it fair that the homeless guy I mentioned earlier is, well, homeless? Is it fair that he has nowhere to turn for help?

  190. says

    It’s just fair if everyone pays the same.

    nope;

    it’s fair that those who’ve benefited from society most also contribute the most.

    t that’s just my opinion and we all know opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.

    opinions are farly worthless and should never form the basis of public policy. where’s your evidence that your definition of “fair” is the more useful, beneficial one? do you even have a rational argument for that being the case? if not, kindly STFU and let the smart people deal with public policy.

  191. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Don’t get so offended

    You’re mistaking contempt for offense. You’re also still a blithering, blustering buffoon who really brings nothing whatsoever to the proverbial table. Too bad there are so many people like you, who mistake their gasbag gabbling for substance and are willing to let other people die in order to feel superior and “stand on principle.”

  192. SallyStrange says

    Look people, Don’t get so offended but your concept of fair is skewed a little methinks

    Nope, your concept of fair if VERY skewed.

    but that’s just my opinion and we all know opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.

    Some people have informed opinions which they can support by pointing to relevant evidence. You don’t.

    There are plenty of countries throughout the world that use flat tax rates, and there are more coming online or are considering it.

    Are these countries among the most prosperous in the world? No.

    It’s just fair if everyone pays the same.

    Only if everyone starts with the same pool from which they have to pay. Which they don’t.

    You’re a fuckwitted idiot advocating sociopathic policies. Care to whine some more about being called out about your callous stupidity? I’ll be happy to mock you some more, until you rethink your position or go away.

  193. texatheist says

    Thanks Seymour, no I haven’t read his post yet, but I will.

    It’s funny, I’ve commented here before, and read the comments a lot where I see this kind of antagonistic behavior, whereby people feel the need to just tear down the other person’s opinion or feelings on whatever it is being discussed.

    It’s an internet phenomenon. The anonymity of the internet affords people, who I’m sure are otherwise nice and genial people in face to face interactions, turn into the hulk/jack the ripper/internet assholes, and just try to destroy every opposing opinion.

    I just shrug it off and take a good hot shower afterwards and feel fresh and clean. ;-)

  194. Seymour Brighton says

    Wow, these guys are laying right into Texatheist as if he said puppies should be disembowelled on a daily basis to appease the gods. Folks, check whether your level of aggression is appropriate. Mamma mia….

  195. Carlie says

    Then you got these huge companies that can actually get their work done and export/import thanks to all these roads, bridges, ports, airports…. shouldn’t they be paying for the construction and maintenance of these?

    And don’t forget, usually they broker large property tax breaks for themselves, so they’re actually placing a burden on the roads and police forces and fire departments etc. without paying anything for them at all, much less as much as the single parent working two jobs who lives down the street in the same watershed as their effluent.

    Carlie, because they want to live there? Who knows for sure, you’d have to ask them.

    But you seem to think that the existence of those high tax rates means that people won’t want to make more money, or something. What is your argument again, besides “rich people don’t want to pay more”?

  196. Johan Fruh says

    @texatheist,

    Just a question for you:

    Do you believe the laws of economics to be fair?
    And that all amount of money received by a person is directly and proporionately related to the amount of work and hardship the person has put into life?

  197. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Tex, a flat tax is a liberturd idea, without a place in reality. All taxes should be effectively progressive, so those that can pay more, pay more as a percentage of their income. So, you acknowledge you have liberturd leanings, which means you are out of touch with reality? We saw that with your first inane post.

  198. M Groesbeck says

    @ texatheist —

    The rich receive immensely greater benefits from the government. In particular: private property is a state function. Taxes fund the government that maintains ownership of the means of production by the rich, and occasionally makes gestures at providing enough of a safety net that the very poor won’t get so desperate that they stop cooperating with the private-property regime. One of the central functions of the capitalist state is to keep the people being screwed over by the rich from taking matters into their own hands and demanding a better deal.

    And you think it’s “unfair” to expect the people the system was set up to benefit from paying their way?

  199. texatheist says

    Ahhhh! The witty retorts are killing me! Stop it you brainy, highly intelligent, better than me people! You’re killing me! LOL!

    I don’t often comment in these forums for JUST this reason.

    You guys can have your stage back now. I’ll let you continue to show how much of an asshole you guys can be.

    You’re doing great! Keep it up!

  200. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Honest to Christ. We’re debating a very serious—for many Americans, a matter of life and death, quite literally—matter of public policy: poverty and unequal distribution of wealth. People lose their homes (yes, people like you, Texatheist) if a family member gets direly ill without sufficient insurance. A record number of children are living in real poverty.

    And you bastards think us “laying into you” is inappropriate or out of proportion? You’re just expressing “an opinion,” so it’s no big deal?

    The fuck it is. It’s a very, very big deal and you should be screamed at because your opinions affect real people. Like my mother, a disabled woman with no teeth who can’t chew most foods because having teeth isn’t considered “medical,” it’s “dental.” Or my sister whose teeth are falling out of her goddamned mouth as they turn black because she can’t make enough money to go to the dentist while trying to keep her three-year-old son in food and clothes.

    But you’ve got it bad because we’re antagonistic. Fuck you until the cows come home.

  201. Seymour Brighton says

    SallyStrange is acting like an odd kind of sociopath herself right now…

    I think some people around here get USED to being aggressive to people who haven’t yet come to the same conclusions they have. As if to hold a different opinion is somehow grossly immoral.

    Texatheist isn’t a law-maker, so it’s not THAT important he understands, but if you WANT him to understand then why are you wilfully making sure that your arguments never translate?

    Ah, because you don’t WANT him to understand. You want to tear him down.

    That’s the only logical explanation for the inappropriate levels of aggression towards someone who may not agree but is otherwise very pleasant.

    The same kinds of people who think it’s OK to speak to Texatheist like this from behind a computer screen are the same kinds of sociopaths who think road rage is OK once you’re ensconced in your own vehicle.

    Imagine you’re talking to Texatheist face to face in the auditorium of an atheist convention and you’ll see that your responses to Texatheist are inappropriate.

    Or whatever, you guys know what you know and everyone else is wrong… Which is totally enlightened….

  202. Carlie says

    I might be willing to consider a flat tax, only if it were:

    not applied at all to incomes below a decent standard living level, say maybe 100k,

    applied to every source of income, including interest and stock dividends and inheritance etc.,

    applied to businesses and corporations that have a profit above a certain standard level,

    and there were absolutely no loopholes or exemptions at all.

    Oh, and any company who moves part of its business or investments offshore has to pay double in order to make up for the extra paperwork.

    I still don’t think I’d go for it, but those would have to be the minimum requirements even to consider such a thing.

  203. says

    I’ll let you continue to show how much of an asshole you guys can be.

    have fun back in your bubble where no one will ever dare point out that your “opinions” are counterfactual, based on nothing but a skewed sense of “fairness” which is primarily based in ignorance, and which, if implemented as policy, have been shown to cause a lot of harm.

  204. Carlie says

    whereby people feel the need to just tear down the other person’s opinion or feelings on whatever it is being discussed.

    No, we think you’re wrong, and are criticizing what we think is wrong about what you’re saying. Have you never had a conversation that wasn’t entirely butt-kissing or something? Sheesh, you haven’t even been called names yet.

  205. Therrin says

    Texatheist isn’t a law-maker, so it’s not THAT important he understands,

    In that case, I hope xe doesn’t vote, either. In fact, I hope that regardless.

  206. Anteprepro says

    Here, texatheist:
    Assume that the amount of money that a person needs to pay for housing, food, water, electricity, gas, car payments, etc., at bare minimum, is $500 per month. This is probably an underestimate, but I didn’t want to leave much possibility that you could squeak by even lower. This is $6,000 per year. The median household income is around $40,000, and tax for this bracket is 15%. But, after factoring out the $6,000 spent on needs, the 15% on total income (also $6,000) is actually losing 30% of their total income to both taxes and payments for necessities (with the remaining being something close to “disposable income”).

    Contrast to your 100,000 and 1,000,000 dollar incomes. Well, given your flat tax, these two would lose 21% total and 15.6% respectively in the total payments of both needs and taxes. Contrast to our system of progressive tax brackets, where 100,000 dollars gets a 25% tax bracket and 1,000,000 gets 35%. This means that these two are now paying, when adding together both my hypothetical needs-based spending number, and the tax number, 31% and 35.6% respectively, which is much sum closer to the 30% of the average income than with a flat tax. Also, note that if you have an income of $12,000, the bare minimum to still be in the lowest tax bracket, you would pay 50% of your income in needs, and then an extra 15% with your flat tax, more than double the total payment on the average income. Contrast with the progressive tax, where it is still unfair, but with a 10% tax instead of a 15% tax (60% lost compared to 65%). Even if they had no income tax at all, they would still have less percent disposable income than those with more income. *I should also note that sales tax is a larger percentage of a low income household’s total income than average or high income households.*

    I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which tax rate is more “fair”.

    I apologize if your reception here has seemed hostile, but your over-reliance on simplistic ideas of fairness, defense of a system of taxation that would leave the poorer worse off than they already are, and a condescending attitude towards those who are passionate in their attempts to show you why your ideas don’t hold water do nothing to help make your reception warmer.

  207. Seymour Brighton says

    There’s a saying that goes something like: if a man should make me raise my hand to battle, he has already won.

    Anyone who says “IDiot” or “Liberturd” is admitting they are childish name-callers who don’t have the mental capacity to rationally discuss the issue like adults, and are unwilling to explain to a newcomer concepts they feel are obvious and well-known.

    Do not engage these people.

    And I gather then that no-one around here likes Michael Shermer’s views??

  208. SallyStrange says

    It’s an internet phenomenon. The anonymity of the internet affords people, who I’m sure are otherwise nice and genial people in face to face interactions, turn into the hulk/jack the ripper/internet assholes, and just try to destroy every opposing opinion.

    I assure you, I would not hold back from being confrontational were this an in person discussion. Depending on the setting, I may or may not use profanity. I know you’d like to think that you don’t deserve this humiliation, but the truth is that your ideas warrant exactly this level of ridicule, lest a casual observer get the mistaken idea that you should be taken seriously, even for a second.

    I just shrug it off and take a good hot shower afterwards and feel fresh and clean. ;-)

    Denial works for a little while. Eventually you’re going to have to deal with the fact that your ideas contradict reality. That is, if you have a modicum of intellectual honesty.

    For instance, if you wanted to demonstrate that you possess intellectual honesty, intelligence, and a desire to argue for your ideas in good faith, you could try answering Jonathan Fruh’s concise and relevant questions to you. Or, if you wanted to demonstrate that you are a clueless idiot attempting to promote a heartless and intellectually bankrupt ideology, you could continue your lame and pathetic attempts at humorous deflection, as you did in post #220.

    Wow, these guys are laying right into Texatheist as if he said puppies should be disembowelled on a daily basis to appease the gods. Folks, check whether your level of aggression is appropriate. Mamma mia….

    Smelling salts and fainting couch to Seymour’s house, STAT. Seymour, if your sensibilities are so easily perturbed then I suggest you find a different forum in which to comment.

  209. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    That’s the only logical explanation for the inappropriate levels of aggression towards someone who may not agree but is otherwise very pleasant.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    It’s not inappropriate to be outraged at the opinions of people who likely vote in ways that encourage the further degradation of the social safety net. It’s rational (good god, how can you not see this?). Someone with “mere opinions” like Texatheists can be as fuckity-all pleasant as he wants. I’m not interested in his formal deportment. I’m interested in his retrograde economic views because they help keep people I know and love (and people I don’t, but with whom I can empathize, a concept apparently foreign to you lot) in miserable health and on the brink of disaster.

  210. Seymour Brighton says

    Jadehawk et al. believe there’s only one style of argument that could change a person’s mind — relentless berating.

    Yeh, that’s a rational, reason-based approach…

  211. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    In that case, I hope xe doesn’t vote, either. In fact, I hope that regardless.

    Sorry folks, I’m not giving Texatheist the benefit of the gender doubt. Only a dudebro talks the way he does. He’s a guy, and it’s obvious.

  212. says

    Texatheist isn’t a law-maker, so it’s not THAT important he understands,

    O.o

    as undemocratic as the US is, it succeeds at fucking people over primarily because people like texatheist are ignorant. It’s almost irrelevant whether law-makers know what they’re doing, since their job is primarily pandering. it’s important that the people that elect them know what they’re doing.

  213. First Approximation (formerly Feynmaniac) says

    Taxes on the wealthy in the US are already at an international and historic low. In that link you can also see that from 1979 to 2007 the bottom quintile’s after-tax income increased only 16%. The top quintile’s increased 95%, while the top 1%’s increased 281%!

  214. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And I gather then that no-one around here likes Michael Shermer’s views??

    His views on what? You do grok, do you not, that it’s possible to approve of some of the views a person holds while strongly disagreeing with others? Yes, that makes sense to you?

    He’s a great expositor of skeptical thought and critical thinking. His libertarian economic views are naive and misguided.

  215. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Jadehawk et al. believe there’s only one style of argument that could change a person’s mind — relentless berating.

    Oh how could we? Making shit up, like you do here, is way more effective.

  216. Kagehi says

    If you want to be generous with your earnings, by all means do so (I do as well), but wouldn’t you rather give it freely, and directed at what YOU want it to go to, rather than have it be forced on you from the government that more often than not squanders it in pork barrel spending for their districts back home?

    Then, get the hand of business out of the ass of the government, so that money doesn’t get wasted on stupid BS. Only.. If you did that, there wouldn’t be a lot of idiots whining about taxes being too high for rich people, through multi-million dollar special interest groups. Odd that..

    As for the statements of people about someone becoming “rich” through hard work. One of the courses we had to take in the “business computing” was basic business management. There is a principle in there called the “Peter Principle”. In the most basic sense, its what is called, “Failing upward”. In a more general sense, it means one of two things: 1. Getting raises because you haven’t quite, yet, gotten to the point where your incompetence is sufficient for people to take notice. Or 2. People knowing whose ass to kiss, taking opportunities that others don’t see, or chose, for ethical reasons, or just plain being to busy themselves, to ignore, and doing so with a disregard for better ideas.

    The later *might* be called less lazy, but only in the sense that it takes more work to be an asshole, or a con artist, than an honest person.

    Note, the second one is my definition. The first one is the “official” definition of the principle. Way too many people fall under that first one, so many, that its taught as a bloody business term. The second one, all too often, is seen simply as good business sense. I.e., it doesn’t matter if you just produced a worst product, for more money, than someone else could have, as long as it was *your* product, and not the other guy, who didn’t present his fast enough, and other similar occurrences. There are even studies on this, indicating that presumed competence distorts our ability to recognize incompetence, and often trivially stupid things making us reject advice from people that actually have better solutions. My bet would be, and not just from experience on seeing how many big business CEOs seem to be complete fucking idiots when it comes to anything outside selling their own products, that at least 2/3 of those with stupid amounts of money fall into one or both categories, and that the people that actually do work their asses off, without getting any place, are in the vast category of people who basically invent/make millions of things, which then, since they are working for a company while doing it, don’t own either a) the right to any of the profit from it *at all*, beyond what they are already paid, or b) gain much, if any, recognition for it.

    I mean, after all, why the hell would you want to promote the majority of inventors to management, when they are better at inventing? And, since they are merely inventors, and they are “working” for you, not themselves, why give them jack shit in compensation for having invented any of it, right? Better to give it to some asshole whose “only” skill is in deciding whether the company should sell the blue widget, or the yellow thingamajig, instead of the the purple whatsit.

  217. says

    Jadehawk et al. believe there’s only one style of argument that could change a person’s mind — relentless berating.

    projection and at least two arguments from ignorance. also, plain lying, since I’ve provided substantial arguments to refute texatheist, which he happily ignored by repeating himself instead of addressing them.

  218. says

    Josh:

    Like my mother, a disabled woman with no teeth who can’t chew most foods because having teeth isn’t considered “medical,” it’s “dental.” Or my sister whose teeth are falling out of her goddamned mouth as they turn black because she can’t make enough money to go to the dentist while trying to keep her three-year-old son in food and clothes.

    No shit. I’m one of the lucky ones – we pay out the arse for good medical coverage and I’m seriously thankful to have it. Buuut, is dental covered? Nope. Who gives a shit if your teeth rot? Gee, you didn’t brush enough or something! Same with eyes. My glasses aren’t covered and they cost serious money, which would be why I’m not wearing them right now.

    Seymour:

    SallyStrange is acting like an odd kind of sociopath herself right now…

    Cupcake, you can go choke on a porcupine. SallyStrange is a compassionate person who fights tirelessly for human rights.

    That’s the only logical explanation for the inappropriate levels of aggression towards someone who may not agree but is otherwise very pleasant.

    Bullshit. You can clutch your pearls all you like, it won’t change the fact that texatheist is being a passive aggressive asshole who keeps defending the rich and has no ability to provide a substantial argument in defense of xis stance.

  219. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    You guys can have your stage back now. I’ll let you continue to show how much of an asshole you guys can be.

    Translation: You meanies hurt my precious feewings!

    For fuck’s sake, stop treating the rich as though they’re demi-gods at the expense of everyone else.

  220. says

    aggression towards someone who may not agree but is otherwise very pleasant.

    you think being told that it’s “fair” to let people starve and suffer the consequences of an unequal society in the name of a very warped sense of fairness is “pleasant”?

  221. Seymour Brighton says

    Therrin: Thanks for your mental ejaculation. You wouldn’t happen to have a tissue by any chance? You got it all over my new slacks…

  222. says

    SeymourCupcake:

    Anteprepro shows everyone how adulthood is done ^^^^^^

    And your whinging and pearl clutching is what, Cupcake? As you are unable to address the substance people are providing in their posts, please, feel free to shut the fuck up. Thank you.

  223. SallyStrange says

    For a fellow so concerned about the level of discourse, you have an odd ease with throwing around the term “sociopath,” Seymour. I think texatheist’s ideas would cause a lot of misery and suffering if put into practice. I also note that his ideas are contrary to reality and unsupported by evidence. Thus, I greet his fact-free offerings with ridicule, in order to demonstrate the proper reception due to people who would wilfully cause other people to suffer. That’s sociopathy? Tell me, what is your definition of sociopath? And why don’t you apply your delicate standards of discourse to your own writings? Insulting people is apparently okay for thee but not for me.

    So you’re not only a tone troll but also a hypocrite.

    I have some pearls handy if you need something to clutch.

  224. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I assure you, I would not hold back from being confrontational were this an in person discussion.

    Nor would I, Sally. And oddly apropos:

    This past weekend I was out at a bar with my sister, her boyfriend, and their friends. Boyfriend was going on and on about how wonderful Rand Paul was on all issues. Mind you, this was a group of social liberals who believe in things like feminism, LGBT rights, etc.

    I said to boyfriend “You know he’s anti-abortion, right? You understand that he’s not a classical libertarian at all, and that he really doesn’t care about women’s rights?” Boyfriend first told me I was wrong. Then he said it couldn’t be, and then he said, “but that doesn’t affect me.”

    And I blew up. I said (yelled, to be honest), “Yes, it does, because it affects women in your life whom you profess to love—pointing to my sister. And if you’re so goddamned stupid you don’t give a shit about whether my sister has the right to end a pregnancy than you’ve got a lot of explaining to do to her when you get home tonight.”

    No, it wasn’t polite, but it needed to be said. Yep, he felt two inches tall in front of his friends. Good.

    Know what else? Sister said to me the next day, “Thank you for ripping into him because I was about to. He came up to me and said, ‘Damn I’m a fool. Your brother was right and I hadn’t even bothered to check any of that out before I went stumping for Rand Paul. I need to re-examine some of my political views.'”

  225. Carlie says

    The rich receive immensely greater benefits from the government. In particular: private property is a state function.

    And further, they are doing more for your property. It would take a fire department a lot longer, at a lot more risk, to put out a fire at a McMansion than they would to put out a fire in a 1-bedroom 800 square foot house.

    I honestly don’t understand the charges of us being mean and attacking in this thread – this has been pretty calm. Those charges are a good example of how people are not used to their ideas being challenged at all, and see any direct statement of opposition as an “attack” simply because it states the opposition straight out rather than couch it in lots of simpering “oh, but you’re right about this, and perhaps you can consider that” language.

    A lot of us here are scientists, or spend a lot of time around scientists. We get to the basics of the matter quickly, don’t let extraneous bits in, and don’t let you off easy just because it’s only an “opinion” based on “feelings”. You want to say something, you back it up, and it’s going to get analyzed from every side to see if there’s anything valid in it. Don’t like it, then go to a church social instead.

  226. Seymour Brighton says

    Well, that’s it, back to lurking.

    “Tone troll is concerned” and “Guy who can’t argue but just calls people trolls is concerned about a troll”.

    Man, the culture here is exactly the same as 3 years ago.

    In-group/out-group hostility to the max.

  227. texatheist says

    You know, you people have jumped to all manner of conclusions as to what I feel, think, or believe. You’re ascribing attitudes and thoughts to me that I don’t feel are mine.

    I’ve never said that government shouldn’t care for its citizens.

    I’ve never said screw the poor and destitute.

    I’ve never said anything remotely sounding like this, yet you people heard the words flat tax, or me simply saying that its unfair to make someone else who makes more than you or me pay extra in taxes and I somehow turned into a demon or something.

    ALL that I’ve said is that it is unfair for one person to have to pay more than another JUST because they can.

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    Do you NOT see the disconnect in reality with this?

    I’d be an asshole if I went to dinner with a friend and forced him to pay more of the check than I did just because he could afford it.

    I further suspect that my friend would stop hanging out with me, unless he was unbelievably gracious and giving.

    But keep on with the cognitive dissonance on THAT subject. I’ll just sit back and laugh at you for it.

  228. rincewind'smuse says

    So rich people DO pay more in taxes already, and you just gotta get a few more percentage points out of them… Squeeze a little more blood out of that turnip

    NO.Because the rich people are likely to take advantage of tax breaks and deductions that LOWER their effective tax rate to BELOW that of the poor. That’s fair in your estimation?
    Also you read upstream that the top 1 % have 33% of the wealth…….This is a turnip in your mind?
    I would think that income tax should be a tax on INCOME.

  229. Therrin says

    M. Brighton,

    I found an informative link for you.

    http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#notlistening

    Of course, you don’t actually care about the discussion, as you indicated with your post at #236. You cited what you consider a reasonable tone, and still made no attempt to join the actual conversation. I’d almost think you were sockpuppeting, but that would be too generous.

  230. Seymour Brighton says

    Carlie: I fucking agree with everyone, and disagree with Texatheist.

    But it seems like I’m the only one who can tell when a particular approach isn’t penetrating a person’s current understanding.

    Maybe it’s my background in teaching, but you guys don’t know how to turn someone’s view around.

    You treat EVERYONE as if they’re a fundamentalist Christian, maybe because that’s what you’re used to.

    You DO KNOW this isn’t how academics argue topics, right?

    This is just such a bizarre little petri dish, every time I weigh in (and I haven’t even discussed the topic yet) I regret it.

    And now people will pile on me going “well fine, tone troll, GTFO”, which is totally predictable.

    *shakes head*

  231. SallyStrange says

    In-group/out-group hostility to the max.

    You nailed it, Seymour. Here, the in-group is defined as people who value compassion, fairness, evidence, and logical thinking.

    You’re not part of this group.

  232. Olav says

    Texatheist is making up numbers, I can do the same:

    If I make 100,000 and my tax rate is 15% I pay 15,000 right?

    Right, and I would already consider you fairly rich with that kind of income (if that amount is in euros, or dollars). I would tax you 30%. You can keep 70,000.

    If I make 1,000,000 and my tax rate is 15%, I pay 150,000 right?

    Right, but then you are benefiting so much more from society (than the former case) that it is fair that you should contribute more, relative to your exceptionally high income. I would tax you 30% on your first hundred thousand, and 50% on everything else. Thus you can keep 520,000, your tax rate effectively would be 48%. That is, nearing 50 the more you earn, but never more than 50, which seems reasonable to me.

    With your net income, you should be able to live a luxurious lifestyle and never be short on anything. And the taxes you pay should help sustain your capacity for earning that income for many many years into the future. If you must, you can think of it as an investment.

    If you earn so much, you probably employ people or at least use their services in order to conduct your business. But those people need to have an education, need roads and public transportation to go do the things you require of them, they need health care et cetera. You can’t make your megadollars without all that. So you have to pay their way.

  233. Seymour Brighton says

    Josh: Sometimes things require that. I can understand totally.

    I recently had a go at a friend for being homophobic (sorry, he’s NOT homophobic, he just doesn’t support gay marriage, pfft!), despite the fact that we agree on most things.

    But on here, where it’s an intellectual discussion with no right or wrong answer, but only “what works” vs “what works better”, there’s NO NEED for this emotional attacking, calling people idiots and morons, simply because they’re NEW to the topic and have a view they always thought was just normal and rational.

    It takes time for people to come round. I remember when people chewed me out on here years ago because I said I think abortions should be legal, but I don’t think people should HAVE them for just any old reason. I’m now fully Pro-Choice, and proud of it. But discussing the issue on here set me back a full 6 months, because I just became more entrenched in my own views.

    The TONE of the place MATTERS if you want to change minds.

    This has nothing to do with nice. I’m vile on some forums, but here it shouldn’t be like that – unless your only goal is to have a raucous slanging match and feel smarter than others.

  234. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Maybe it’s my background in teaching, but you guys don’t know how to turn someone’s view around.

    Maybe it’s you who doesn’t recognize that typical classroom pedagogy isn’t always appropriate or effective.

    You condescending fuck. Seriously. I know you think you’re the nice reasonable guy, but you’re being pig-headed.

  235. says

    SeeMoreCupcake:

    Well, that’s it, back to lurking.

    You won’t be missed. Especially as you seemed to have no point whatsoever outside of defending someone who is in favour of dangerous policy. “Oh, he’s not a lawmaker”. What the fuck kind of idiocy is that? Who is it that you thinks votes for fucked up lawmakers, Cupcake?

    Be sure to stick the flounce and don’t go leaving assprints on our door.

  236. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Stop telling me how I need to phrase my argument, Brighton. Stop second-guessing “what works” and “what’s necessary” in this venue. It’s that condescending fucker thing again. It’s only going to earn you more hostility.

  237. Carlie says

    You DO KNOW this isn’t how academics argue topics, right?

    It is exactly how academic scientists argue topics. You stick with the topic and actual facts for and against it, you actually answer the questions that are posed to you instead of ignoring them and/or handwaving them away and galloping on to the next point, and if you pull stuff out of your ass you get called on it.

  238. says

    Anyone who says “IDiot” or “Liberturd” is admitting they are childish name-callers who don’t have the mental capacity to rationally discuss the issue like adults, and are unwilling to explain to a newcomer concepts they feel are obvious and well-known.

    assertion not supported by evidence.

    And I gather then that no-one around here likes Michael Shermer’s views?

    that’s about an inch away from being an Appeal to Authority

    – – – –

    I’ve never said that government shouldn’t care for its citizens.

    true; you’re merely proposing a policy that would result in the government not being able to take care of its citizens.

    I’ve never said screw the poor and destitute.

    true; you’re merely proposing a policy that would result in screwing the poor and destitute

    ALL that I’ve said is that it is unfair for one person to have to pay more than another JUST because they can.

    and it’s been repeatedly pointed out that your sense of fairness leads to social harm, and as such is not a particularly useful definition of fair.

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    yes, it’s customary for those who have the most dispensable income to invite their less well-off friends, rather than expect them to pay for meals that they can barely afford to buy. It’s in fact considered highly inconsiderate to make someone who’s broke pay for their meal when another person can easily cover their meal without incurring any damage to their ability to pay their own bills.

    I’d be an asshole if I went to dinner with a friend and forced him to pay more of the check than I did just because he could afford it.

    I further suspect that my friend would stop hanging out with me, unless he was unbelievably gracious and giving.

    so you and your friends are selfish. that’s not an argument for anything, and trying to suggest a public policy based on your anti-social group of friends is dangerous, counterfactual nonsense.

    But keep on with the cognitive dissonance on THAT subject. I’ll just sit back and laugh at you for it.

    says the guy with exactly zero evidence for his definition of “fairness” being anything other than the result of anti-social, “rugged individualism” brainwashing and sheer ignorance of the realities of social interaction and tax policy.

  239. Seymour Brighton says

    SallyStrange. I agree with this group. I disagree with Texatheist.

    But you’re right, I don’t belong here because I’m not a CUNT!

    Oh wait- I was just approved! :D Weeeee. I get to stay!

    Oooh *claps* I’m so glad…

  240. Classical Cipher, OM says

    But it seems like I’m the only one who can tell when a particular approach isn’t penetrating a person’s current understanding.

    Maybe it’s my background in teaching, but you guys don’t know how to turn someone’s view around.

    My favorite part of this is that it’s ostensibly in response to Carlie.
    My second favorite part of this is that it’s totally unconvincing, and will only result in the poster being mocked. Way to turn our views around with your, uh, superior teaching ability, moron.

  241. Jamie says

    An extract of the play “The Red Devil” (Le Diable Rouge) by Antoine Rault.

    HOW TO INCREASE TAXATION

    Jean-Baptiste Colbert : When trying to find money there always arrives the moment when one must stop fiddling about. Please, Mr. Premier Ministre, explain what one must do to spend more when one is already in debt up to the neck…

    Cardinal Mazarin: When one is a simple mortal, and of course, when submerged with debts, one goes to prison. But for the State it is different; one cannot throw the State into prison. So, you continue spending and let the debt increase. All States do that.

    Colbert: Ah, you think so? Certainly, we need the money. But how can we find it if we have already created every imaginable form of taxation?

    Mazarin: We create others.

    Colbert: But we cannot tax the poor more than they are already.

    Mazarin: Yes, that’s true.

    Colbert: So, the rich?

    Mazarin: The rich, neither, they would stop spending. A rich person’s spending feeds hundreds of the poor.

    Colbert: So what can we do ?

    Mazarin: Colbert, you are thinking like a piece of cheese! There is a vast population who is neither poor, nor rich… those French who work and dream of being rich and dread to be poor! They are the people we must tax, even more…and then more! Them. The more you take from them, the more they work to make up for it… it is an inexhaustible reservoir.

    Basically, people are protesting because they aspire to be rich someday and hope that they don’t want to be taxed when they become rich.

  242. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    But you’re right, I don’t belong here because I’m not a CUNT!

    QED.

  243. SallyStrange says

    Since you’ve decided not to stick the flounce, Seymour, the least you could do is define “sociopath,” and help us understand why it’s awful and horrible and counterproductive for me to call texatheist a fuckwitted idiot who’s advocating sociopathic policies, but somehow okay for you to straight up call me a sociopath.

    You know, since we’re taking the academic approach. Let’s define our terms, hmmm? Or is that asking too much? That’s where my initial irritation with texatheist came from, incidentally: he’s evidently incapable of defining “fair.”

  244. says

    Apparently, this is needed again, especially for little Seymour.

    Tone Troll:

    A tone troll is a terribly serious-minded person who wants only to raise the level of discussion in the dire cesspits of the New Atheist web. Or, possibly, they’re a pompous blowhard who, lacking such frivolous accoutrements as an actual argument, attempts to distract attention from said deficit by complaining that their opposition uses dirty words and ought, really, to have some strict nanny figure—possibly Mary Poppins—to wash out their mouths with soap. It depends on whom you ask.

    More specifically, it generally depends on whether you ask the tone troll themselves.

    Note that the presence of actual ‘dirty words’ in the traditional sense (notwithstanding that this is not uncommon on Pharyngula) isn’t particularly necessary for the use of this gambit. It is also acceptable to complain your opposition is being shrill.

  245. says

    You DO KNOW this isn’t how academics argue topics, right?

    you do know that most of the people here are academics, and this is exactly how they argue? the difference is that when they argue with other academics, they do not run into idiots who argue by assertion and repetition, and the argument resolves once it becomes clear that one side has the overwhelming evidence which the other side might not have known previously.

  246. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    And what does this strawman argument have to do with reality? They may order the surf and turf because they can, or an expensive bottle of wine because they enjoy it. But I can also do that. I make more than your claim of income. But I should pay more than you in taxes since I can afford more, and Steve Jobs or Bill Gates should pay more on a percentage basis than I do, just as the guy who empties the trash and cleans the toilets at work, makes less, and should pay less as a percentage of his total income in a fair taxation system. Anything other than that is saying you are afraid the poor are taking advantage of you, and you must stop that. Just as big a strawman as you try to blow down.

  247. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    NB, Pharyngulites. The Nice People, the ones who care about gentle persuasion and appropriate tone; see how quickly the mask drops.

    “For thee, but not for me.”

  248. texatheist says

    LMFAO! You people are acidic as all get out.

    Seymour is right. You guys have no idea how to bring someone along… You just kick them to the dirt or beat them into submission, but that’s NOT the road to truth, just YOUR truth.

  249. says

    SeeMoreCupcake:

    I’m not a CUNT!

    We don’t approve of gendered insults here, Cupcake. I know it’s difficult, but if you’re going to attempt to use the naughty words, do it right.

    By the way, there’s a flounce with your name on it. How about sticking to it and your word?

  250. Carlie says

    The TONE of the place MATTERS if you want to change minds.

    And many, many people have written here to say that the arguments made here changed their minds. That’s the thing with the tone argument; there hasn’t ever been any evidence presented that it works better than direct confrontation.

    But you’re right, I don’t belong here because I’m not a CUNT!

    Why is it that when you scratch a pearl-clutcher, there’s always a sexist underneath? It’s so predictable.

  251. SallyStrange says

    No, Seymour. You’re definitely not a cunt. You’re not powerful, you’re not creative, you’re not flexible–all attributes of actual cunts. I have a cunt, so I know what I’m talking about. And you definitely don’t belong here, because another attribute of this in-group is that we avoid hate speech that denigrates women.

  252. Anteprepro says

    Seymour: “Anyone who says “IDiot” or “Liberturd” is admitting they are childish name-callers who don’t have the mental capacity to rationally discuss the issue like adults, and are unwilling to explain to a newcomer concepts they feel are obvious and well-known.”

    I’ll give you credit for not invoking the term “ad hominem” when that’s basically the concept you are angling for. It’s good that you didn’t say it though, because it would make you rather the hypocrite, for dismissing an argument entirely because you find the arguer to be a “childish name-caller”. No, it is not true that anyone who flings out an insult or two is incapable of actually defending their claims logically. It is often, here, just an expression of contempt and/or frustration. Often because the arguments being addressed have been broached many times before and/or are transparently stupid. As is the case for “Liberturds” and “IDiots”. If someone sincerely wanted something on those topics explained, they could just ask about our opinions on it. Rather, they tend to spew out the same misinformed garbage we’ve seen a thousand times before. This is the internet age, where the trivial crap they get wrong is just a google search away, so there is no excuse for the kind of bullshit that gets regurgitated over and over by unreflective morons who esteem their own “common sense” over things like “facts”. If you want to be patient with such nonsense, feel free. But it is rather impolite (ironic, huh?) to suggest that us calling a spade a fucking spade is a character flaw on the part of the Pharyngulites.

    I thank you for the compliment in suggesting that I am behaving in accord with your expectations for proper internet behavior, but I have the privilege of not commenting often. So I don’t often get exposed to the irritants and cues that other commenters respond to. In addition, I was just raging against a tone troll in another thread, so I didn’t have any internet rage to get out of my system when texatheist came around :) I don’t believe texatheist actually deserved much flaming, at least because he seemed like a decent person. But his ability to actually address arguments was pathetic and frustrating, and his repetitions were laced with a potent combination of ignorance and condescension. I can easily see how this could piss people off, and I hope texatheist realizes that. It may have been accidental, but it is still aggravating.

  253. texatheist says

    @Jadehawk

    Seymour didn’t devolve the conversation, YOU people did… I’m sure I’ll be called other terrible names as a result of pointing this out to you…

  254. PaulG says

    He came up to me and said, ‘Damn I’m a fool. Your brother was right and I hadn’t even bothered to check any of that out before I went stumping for Rand Paul. I need to re-examine some of my political views.’

    Your sister needs to kick that guy for no other reason than that he talks like a character in an afternoon soap opera.

  255. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Bets on how quickly TexaBrightonist accuses us of “hypocrisy” because we tolerate “condescending fuck” but not “cunt?” Is that worth two bingo squares?

  256. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but that’s NOT the road to truth, just YOUR truth.

    You aren’t on the road to truth, but rather to the ideology of “i’ve got mine, you fuck off”. Unlike you we look at successful economies and tax systems world wide, and see what works and what doesn’t work without getting bogged dowin in ideology (or rather, theology). Getting bogged down makes you sound like a creobot, an evidenceless delusional fool.

  257. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    I’ve never said screw the poor and destitute.

    That’s exactly what you’re saying, even if you’re too stupid to realize it. Besides the fact that 15% in income taxes impacts lower socio-economic classes more than the higher tax brackets, it wouldn’t be enough to pay for our government programs.

    Listen, we have a consumer based economy. To explain it using really tiny words: our economy is driven by people buying shit. The more people that can afford to buy shit, the stronger our economy will be. If the lower tax brackets pay more taxes in this flat tax scheme, they won’t be able to buy as much shit and there’s far more of them than the rich. Plus, there is actually a threshold where the rich cease to buy shit, so letting them keep more of their money at the expense of middle- and lower economic classes doesn’t make sense from an economic view OR an empathetic (everyone should be guaranteed a certain standard of living) view.

    ALL that I’ve said is that it is unfair for one person to have to pay more than another JUST because they can.

    You have yet to define “fair”.

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    Pretty much. Drinks, at least, are on them.

    But, snark aside, you simply cannot compare splitting a dinner check between friends with paying for a stable society. It’s a dumb comparison and your incredible stupidity is actually starting to anger me at this point.

    Seriously, are you 15? In college, maybe? You have the thought process of a teenager.

  258. rincewind'smuse says

    If we lived in a sane world, working people should be the millionaires, while doctors/lawyers should have to struggle to get by (which they oughta put up with, since having that kind of an empowering job is reward enough)

    I appreciate what you’re saying about blue collar workers making more, but if you think that after several hundred thousand dollars in accrued educational debt and the amount of your life given away to a residency, a physician should just get by because their job is so empowering and rewarding(which is in itself no longer true), I beseech you to STFU until you’ve had a chance to think about it a bit more and perhaps ask a few people who actually do it for a living…..speculative investors;yeah, I can’t argue with that.

  259. says

    texcake:

    You guys have no idea how to bring someone along

    As if you have listened at all. People provided you with substantial arguments, cupcake. Lots and lots of them. All you’ve done, outside of saying “bro, bro!, bro” and “calm down”, is to continue to whine and defend the rich.

    It’s an absolute joke, you saying the people here have no idea of how to “bring someone along”. A person requires a brain in order to change their mind about something or to argue sufficiently in favour of their stance. You have shown neither one. That’s hardly in your favour.

  260. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Your sister needs to kick that guy for no other reason than that he talks like a character in an afternoon soap opera.

    Hahahha! That busted me up Paul, thank you. :))) Of course, it could be that my powers of paraphrasing are just deadly trite!

  261. texatheist says

    @Jadehawk

    So your most evolved understanding on a topic isn’t a truth? You will NEVER reach a truth?

    Don’t you feel that graduated taxation is a truth and good?

  262. says

    Seymour didn’t devolve the conversation, YOU people did… I’m sure I’ll be called other terrible names as a result of pointing this out to you…

    “pointing out” only works when what you claim is actually true.

    sexist/racist/homophobic/ableist/etc. slurs are not welcome here because they have shown to have actual negative outcomes on people hearing them. there is no such evidence for generic insults, and as elsewhere noted, there’s at least anecdotal evidence of the argument-style at pharyngula effecting positive change. some people need to be slapped over the head before they’re willing to start thinking critically about their ignorance. Others who aren’t ever going to simply need to be slapped over the head to make them go away.

  263. Anteprepro says

    Seymour: “But you’re right, I don’t belong here because I’m not a CUNT!”

    Holy fuck, Seymour. Now I need a shower because you complimented me up thread. I don’t like being approved of by loathsome semi-closeted misogynists such as yourself. You were the one who claimed to be a long-time lurker, right? And yet you intentionally toss out a gendered insult here, just to show that you are a typical, hypocritical tone troll? You really don’t understand this blog at all, do you?

  264. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Seymour is right. You guys have no idea how to bring someone along… You just kick them to the dirt or beat them into submission, but that’s NOT the road to truth, just YOUR truth.

    No, kiddo. Just because you’re too immature and superficial even to pay attention to why insults are being used against you (namely that you’re espousing policies that destroy lives), that doesn’t mean everyone is. I’m a former libertarian and a Randroid – deconverted here, by the same Horde behavior you’re finding so inhospitable now. Because I wasn’t stupid enough to ignore the substance in favor of kvetching about the insults. Flail all you like – it’s only revealing your own weakness.

  265. says

    So your most evolved understanding on a topic isn’t a truth? You will NEVER reach a truth?do you have reading comprehension problems? I pointed out that there’s no such thing as “your truth”. there’s one reality, and then there’s various models of reality. Personally I prefer the evidence-based ones. From your insistence on opinion, assertion, and repetition, I suspect that’s not the case for you.

  266. texatheist says

    @Jadehawk

    So you’re saying its fair to make your neighbor pay a higher tax rate just because they can?

  267. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    OMG. . .I missed that the first time around. There are actual adults who don’t understand that etiquette demands that far wealthier friends at least make a strenuous offer to pick up the tab? Really? Having been the poor relation who got his dinner paid for, and now being the moderately financially OK older guy I moved seamlessly to picking up the tab for my friends having tougher times.

    I’m genuinely gobsmacked that this seems ludicrous to anyone! Didn’t your parents teach you any basic skills for living in civilization?

  268. Seymour Brighton says

    I know what it’s like to want to ‘try out’ arguments on others to see how they stand up. And I know what it’s like to be blasted, and think, “hey, I’m TRYING to understand, why are they being such assholes? I could come around if some kindly, bookish type, using no ad hominem whatsoever, could just sit down and explain it.”

    Now, to your charge of ad hominem. You’re wrong. I was merely pointing out that there are lots of ways to argue. But some people only know one way, and don’t know how to switch when that way clearly doesn’t work.

    Now to YOUR logical fallacy (since you’re a latin-luvverrrr):

    Tu quoque: the appeal to hypocrisy. it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. This dismisses someone’s point of view on an issue on the argument that the person is inconsistent in that very thing. It is considered an ad hominem argument, since it focuses on the party itself, rather than its positions.

    Yes, I criticized people’s arguing as being ineffective for the task. But that in itself is not ad hominem, or doesn’t DISCOUNT what I’m saying.

    We can play this game all day, only, like Texatheist, I have outsidey things to do, and don’t wish to get dragged into this comments section for at LEAST another 3 years…

  269. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Basically, people are protesting because they aspire to be rich someday and hope that they don’t want to be taxed when they become rich.

    If Texie is making less than $50k/year, he* ain’t never gonna be rich. He’s flat out delusional.

    *I’m with Josh. No one uses “bro” unironically unless they’re a dude.

  270. SallyStrange says

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    I do, actually, because this is what my friends do when they have money and I don’t. When I have money and my friend doesn’t, I pick up more of the tab.

    File under “libertarians lack empathy, part 310″

    Also note that while Seymour is criticizing our approach, he seems to have deliberately ignored the part of Josh’s story where being antagonistic WORKED. Also, it worked in his case, but with a 6-month delay. So he says.

    It takes a lot of stupid to expect to be taken seriously when you’re contradicting your own self so transparently.

    Care to define “sociopath” anytime soon, disingenuous wanker Seymour?

  271. Dianne says

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    I still don’t make millions, but I frequently offer to pay more or pay the whole check when going out to dinner with friends who don’t earn as much as me. It seems only fair, especially when (as frequently happens), they put in the time to come to my neighborhood instead of vice versa: they put in more time so I should put in more money.

  272. says

    fucking blockquote fails.

    So your most evolved understanding on a topic isn’t a truth? You will NEVER reach a truth?

    do you have reading comprehension problems? I pointed out that there’s no such thing as “your truth”. there’s one reality, and then there’s various models of reality. Personally I prefer the evidence-based ones. From your insistence on opinion, assertion, and repetition, I suspect that’s not the case for you.

    Don’t you feel that graduated taxation is a truth and good?

    I don’t “feel” anything about the subject. I have evidence that shows graduated taxation and other forms of downward wealth redistribution have beneficial effects on 4/5ths of a given society’s population, and are neutral or only slightly negative for the remaining 1/5th. And in extreme cases, even the top 1/5th becomes negatively effected by large wealth disparities (but at that point, they generally leave the country; because they can)

  273. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So you’re saying its fair to make your neighbor pay a higher tax rate just because they can?

    Yep, that is what everybody but you and liberturds are saying. Liberturds make dog shit on the bottom of your shoe look like ambrosia…

  274. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Texatheist:

    For the 6th time, define “fair.”

    Really – nobody should respond to him at all, or let him go further down the conversational road, until he does so. It’s such a basic, reasonable, necessary request.

    Don’t indulge him until he does.

  275. says

    So you’re saying its fair to make your neighbor pay a higher tax rate just because they can?

    evidence shows that this is beneficial to me as well as that neighbor, so yes. framing it as “just because” is of course deontological, and ignorant, and begging the question to boot.

  276. says

    Josh:

    Is that worth two bingo squares?

    Oh, easily. You can expect to loudly yell Bingo! at any moment. Should have done it a while ago, I expect.

    Idiot:

    I suppose when you people go out with your friends for dinner, and one of them earns millions of dollars a year, that you expect them to pay more since they can?

    I can’t speak for any millionaires, however, back when we were doing very well and went to dinner with friends, yes, we treated because we could easily pay $200.00 a plate for everyone and our friends wouldn’t be able to do that. That’s something called generosity and not being a douchebag because you do have more money than others. Gosh, you’d think you would have learned such things as sharing and generosity as a wee sprog.

  277. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Seymour, you’re not welcome here. Because you used cunt and you don’t understand why that’s not acceptable. Get the fuck out of here until you do.

  278. texatheist says

    @Josh…

    There you go again putting words into my mouth and ascribing actions to me. I OFTEN pay extra at the dinner table and like I said earlier, I gave $300 to a friend who wanted to take a vacation the other day. I AM a giving person, but wouldn’t you construe it as rude of someone to presume you should pay more?

    Wouldn’t a friend who was forced to pay for your meal eventually resent you for it?

    Are you saying that YOU wouldn’t feel put upon if you had to shell out extra just because you could?

  279. rincewind'smuse says

    LMFAO! You people are acidic as all get out.

    You’ve had several people address you directly without rancor (yes, I know, not everyone), and if you choose to paint everyone with the same brush it’s because you are not interested in truth so much as you are diverting from a discussion of facts by discussing tone. Which is fine, but don’t pretend to be the reasonable one here, because that’s bullshit.You’re no more interested in anything but YOUR truth than anyone else here.

  280. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Psssst! PaulG! Come over to my house—I got the telenovelas on! Tonight it’s a marathon of Besos y Lagrimas.

  281. Carlie says

    I haven’t seen texatheist actually address a single thing that’s been presented as a counter to his point of view. He’s just repeating the same thing over and over and over. He’s not even making an argument against anything that’s been presented, other than to say that there are unspecified “other countries” that have a flat tax system somewhere. That’s not discussion, that’s simply being a parrot for one’s own unencumbered-by-information brain.

    And there is actual information out there that the rest of us are referring to. Look at this chart, with info from the Heritage Foundation of all places (no liberal commie bias there!) Look at who has a lower tax rate than the US, and think about how that correlates with standard of living. Even most places with flat taxes don’t really have flat taxes.

  282. SallyStrange says

    So you’re saying its fair to make your neighbor pay a higher tax rate just because they can?

    It beats the alternative, making people who can’t afford to pay a higher tax rate pay it anyway. Or, the alternative you’re proposing, which is basically to defund the government to the point that poor people who have bad luck starve in the streets and die of preventable diseases.

  283. Seymour Brighton says

    Read the comments. SallyStrange used “sociopath” first, I just decided to call her that. Because it’s FUCKING MEANINGLESS IF YOU’RE NOT A FUCKING DOCTOR.

    You people have FAILED to convince Texatheist, yet you’re sticking to your guns that your approach somehow “works”.

    It doesn’t. It alienates new-comers, doesn’t put “skepticism” in a good light, and infuriates more reasonable members of your group.

    You all get to sit in your circle jerk, use words like “pearls”, “flounce”, “troll” and then feel really smart and right about yourselves.

    Well :) I’m happy for you. I’ll stay and enjoy from the sidelines. You’re entertaining, but I won’t try to change the culture anymore.

  284. PaulG says

    SallyStrange:

    Also note that while Seymour is criticizing our approach, he seems to have deliberately ignored the part of Josh’s story where being antagonistic WORKED.

    Sorry, Sally, but I have to press the button: *WARNING* ANECDATA.

    I’m with you , but let’s maintain a standard of dealing with these people which doesn’t get down to their levels.

  285. Aqua Buddha says

    @rincewind’smuse

    The point is that work should be compensated for how hard and disempowering it is. Yes, residency is terribly grueling (though still not as bad as coal-mining), and oughta be compensated accordingly for its duration. But once you are already a doctor, you are not working in conditions remotely as difficult, stultifying and/or all-around shitty as a janitor or coal-miner or deployed soldier, not to mention the social rewards one gets just by virtue of being a doctor or scientist or lawyer, etc.

  286. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Wouldn’t a friend who was forced to pay for your meal eventually resent you for it?

    Still with the bad analogy, and still not showing that your idea of a flat tax works in the real world, when all the first world countries use a graduated tax. Making you look like a preaching theologist rather than an ideologist, just the the commies in the old days, who had an illogical response for everything. Not winning your argument with vapid idiocy like you have shown to date…

  287. MGM says

    You know, I’d almost respect the tone trolls if they actually lived their rhetoric and were polite to everybody. They’d still be misguided at best and petulant whiners at worst, but they’d at least be consistent. Instead, we get people like Seymour, who somehow manage to have no problem accusing everyone of being rude, followed by vicious sexist insults. Fuck off, you tiresome bigoted douchebag.

  288. Carlie says

    I haven’t seen texatheist actually address a single thing that’s been presented as a counter to his point of view. He’s just repeating the same thing over and over and over. He’s not even making an argument against anything that’s been presented, other than to say that there are unspecified “other countries” that have a flat tax system somewhere. That’s not discussion, that’s simply being a parrot for one’s own unencumbered-by-information brain.

    And there is actual information out there that the rest of us are referring to. Look at this chart, with info from the Heritage Foundation of all places (no liberal commie bias there!) Look at who has a lower tax rate than the US, and think about how that correlates with standard of living. Even most places with flat taxes don’t really have flat taxes.

    And there is actual information out there on how regressive taxes hurt the poor (I’m not going to link, because I’m not sure what the link limit is now). The point is that the information is only a quick click away, and it is unconscionable to ignore that data are out there. Texatheist isn’t even interpreting the data differently, he is avoiding talking about data at all. He just keeps throwing out weird analogies about how people don’t want to spend more money when they’re rich, and is ignoring everything that is actually being said in response to his position. THAT’S what I call arguing in bad faith, and it’s worse for a discussion than a few bad words here and there.

  289. Classical Cipher, OM says

    You people have FAILED to convince Texatheist, yet you’re sticking to your guns that your approach somehow “works”.

    Oh, get lost already, you ineffectual, gibbering ninny. Misogynists aren’t welcome here, nor are tone trolls. But as you go, reflect on the fact that you’ve changed no minds here, so, by your own apparent standards, your method is a failure.

  290. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Seymour, why do you think it’s OK to shout “cunt” the way you did? Why do you think it’s OK to keep ignoring that you’ve been called out on it?

    You better stay away from here because that will haunt you until you acknowledge it. I guarantee it. I will never stop asking about it until you respond. And as you know, I’m here a lot.

  291. texatheist says

    Sorry Caine, this is the first time I’ve seen the request. I’m trying to address everyone’s posts but I feel like a Christian in an atheist forum for some reason, even though I’m an atheist. Oh well, I’ve got too many people trying to tear me down and I can’t answer them all, nor read them while trying to answer those I can.

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    What’s unfair is someone having to pay a higher tax rate just because they can.

  292. SallyStrange says

    Read the comments. SallyStrange used “sociopath” first, I just decided to call her that. Because it’s FUCKING MEANINGLESS IF YOU’RE NOT A FUCKING DOCTOR.

    I’m not a doctor, and yet I know what “sociopath” means. That’s why I accused texatheist of “supporting sociopathic policies” rather than actually being a sociopath, because it’s a very dire accusation. I don’t think he’s a sociopath, just too stupid to realize the consequences of his ideology.

    You, on the other hand, are just a horrible person, and a coward to boot.

    —–

    PaulG, I hear you about the anecdata. Warning heeded.

  293. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You’re entertaining, but I won’t try to change the culture anymore

    .

    What, where went your mad teechur skilz? Don’t they work?

  294. Seymour Brighton says

    And I REPLIED to Josh’s story where I agreed that being antagonistic works. But it usually only works on people you _know_

    Antagonism towards strangers is a quick road to no-where.

  295. Anteprepro says

    Seymour, listen to me: Both ad hominem and tu quoque are only logical fallacies if your sole reason for bringing them up are to dismiss an argument rather than showing why they were wrong. I mentioned that you were hypocrite and also explained why you were wrong. This really isn’t that hard. You should definitely lurk more, because despite 3 years of reading this blog, you seem to have absorbed learned nothing from it.

  296. Mr. Fire says

    texatheist, what do you make of the arguments that have been put against you:

    1. A flat tax does not take into account the differing average levels of opportunity and advantage that rich and poor respectively are exposed to.

    2.

    If I make 100,000 and my tax rate is 15% I pay 15,000 right?

    If I make 1,000,000 and my tax rate is 15%, I pay 150,000 right?

    Hey! WOW! That’s more money collected from the person making a million than the person who earned 100,000…

    Yes, and as noted by others, you neglect that the cost of basic living is a constant value, so when you subtract that from the $100,000 person, their overall free spending money has shrunk by a far more significant proportion. They feel it, while the $1,000,000 person has hardly felt it at all.

    3. Flat Tax is Class Warfare.

    Will you address any of these points – and others – or will you continue repeating the same shibboleths about robbery and slavery and squeezing blood from a turnip?

  297. SallyStrange says

    I feel like a Christian in an atheist forum for some reason

    Allow me to explain why you feel that way. It’s because you’ve got just as much evidence for the efficacy of your proposed ideas as Christians do for their imaginary sky daddy.

    Does that help, or do you need me to draw you a picture?

  298. says

    and actually… “graduated taxation is a truth”… is nonsensical. i mean, it’s obviously “a truth” in the sense that it exists, but in context, that phrasing simply doesn’t make sense. was that supposed to be some sort of allusion to moral truths or something?

    wouldn’t you construe it as rude of someone to presume you should pay more?

    do you know the difference between assuming and presuming? I assume that the wealthier people pay for the broke ones. It’s part of my social circle’s “social contract”. I don’t “presume” it. It’s exactly the same with taxation.

    Wouldn’t a friend who was forced to pay for your meal eventually resent you for it?

    a person who expected to eat at expensive restaurants and expected to only pay for their meal instead of also paying for their broke friends wouldn’t be a friend of mine for very long. Selfish assholes make horrible friends.

    Are you saying that YOU wouldn’t feel put upon if you had to shell out extra just because you could?

    this is the second time you’re asking this. have you not noticed that this question has already been answered by multiple people, or do you think that endlessly repeating it will change our minds?

    Texatheist, for at least the 7th time, define “fair”. In universal terms, please, as it would apply to every single person on the planet.

  299. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    I suppose that Texie doesn’t care about what an actual rich person has to say.

    Warren Buffett:

    I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

    I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

    But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

  300. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I’m with you , but let’s maintain a standard of dealing with these people which doesn’t get down to their levels.

    Gimme a break, Paul. Don’t make it sound like I was “stooping” to some craven level of argumentation. I gave an anecdote (which happened to be true, other times confrontation doesn’t work) that was entirely plausible and not at all extraordinary in its claims. And I didn’t tout it as an across the board endorsement of confrontation in all contexts. You don’t need to be THAT sniffy.

  301. Classical Cipher, OM says

    I’m with you , but let’s maintain a standard of dealing with these people which doesn’t get down to their levels.

    No. Anecdata is useful when we’re facing tone trolls, because their position is that we should stop using our method because it never works. Provided it’s truthful, anecdata is sufficient to refute that claim. If we were saying that only one approach should be used (like tone trolls are), it would be incumbent upon us to use more rigorous evidence to prove that it is indeed the best approach. But we’re not. We help those people who are convinced by our methods, and they exist, so there’s no reason for us to stop.

  302. says

    But it usually only works on people you _know_

    unevidenced assertion contradicted by anecdotal evidence regularly presented here by (new or formerly lurking)commenters who have had their minds changed by comments on Pharyngula

  303. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    But it usually only works on people you _know_

    Antagonism towards strangers is a quick road to no-where.

    Jesus fucking Christ, Seymour. That was the first night I’d ever met him. Really. Is there any preconceived notion you’re willing to reexamine? Ever?

    Also, why did you yell “cunt” and why aren’t you answering questions about that?

  304. Classical Cipher, OM says

    And I REPLIED to Josh’s story where I agreed that being antagonistic works. But it usually only works on people you _know_

    Citation needed. After you tell us why you thought it was acceptable to use a misogynistic slur.

  305. SallyStrange says

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    What’s unfair is someone having to pay a higher tax rate just because they can.

    That’s a good example of circular reasoning.

    WHY is it unfair to make the people who can afford to pay, pay?

    The other alternatives are:

    1. Making people who can’t afford to pay, pay

    2. Not collecting enough money period

    Why do you think these are superior alternatives? Why is it fair to cause people to suffer, just because you think it’s not fair to make people who have more money pay more money?

  306. Seymour Brighton says

    Actually, if you read what I’ve written, I said that lots of approaches are necessary. Rarely is the shouting-someone-down approach a mind-changer. It’s more likely to push your opponent back into their corner. Read the Art of War. It’s all in there. I’m exhausted now… :/ Deep culture, with its own language, set of rules, is very difficult for an outsider to join. A real shame because I LIKE PZ very much. Lots of black and white thinkers around here.

  307. Dianne says

    residency is terribly grueling (though still not as bad as coal-mining),

    Hmm…I’ve never done coal mining. I have worked at McDonalds and done physically intense factory work and occasionally farmed. All in all, residency is more physically challenging than any of the above. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Not to mention the risk of exposure to anything from HIV to flu to TB to kuru. And none of the above actually goes away when residency is done: someone still has to take late night call and people will cough on you no matter how senior you are…but, hey, if you think that you can get people to do that for subminimum wage, go for it! I still remember how to say, “Would you like fries with that?” and can always get a high paid job after your revolution.

    If I were feeling particularly mean I might speculate that aqua buddha works for an insurance company. Insurance companies have an interest in portraying doctors as overpaid and underworked…it’s a good excuse to cut compensation and require more paperwork, which is not good for doctors, patients, or the public, but good for insurance companies.

  308. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    No, what’s fair is everybody making the same money pays the same tax. You, of course, have it wrong based on liberturd ideology. You won’t convince anybody here without presenting hard evidence from a legitimate cite, not the Heritage or Cato think tanks, which are papers for hire, and everybody but you seems to know that…

  309. says

    TexIdiot:

    Wouldn’t a friend who was forced to pay for your meal eventually resent you for it?

    Force? Who the fuck is talking force here? If someone is a friend, you’re happy to pay for a meal for them. Of course, I’m talking about actual human beings who grok the concept of friend here. I’ve paid for a friend’s meal many a time and I have never once resented it or my friend. When I was seriously broke in my life, friends paid for a meal for me many a time. They never resented it and we are all still friends. Seems to me you don’t have a fucking clue as to what being a friend constitutes.

    Are you saying that YOU wouldn’t feel put upon if you had to shell out extra just because you could?

    I never felt put upon. I never resented it. I was always happy I could do such a thing.

    You’re one fucked up person, TexIdiot.

  310. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    PS Texie:
    I have and will continue to pay for my friends that have less money than I do. I may not have a lot of money myself, but if I suggest going out somewhere, I don’t mind picking up the check.

  311. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I love it when flat tax and misogyny come together in a thread.

    Where’s immigration and we’ll have the wingnut trifecta.

  312. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Rarely is the shouting-someone-down approach a mind-changer.

    Citation needed. After you tell us why you thought it was acceptable to use a misogynistic slur.

  313. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Seymour, why did you yell “cunt” and why won’t you acknowledge the question?

  314. Carlie says

    Wouldn’t a friend who was forced to pay for your meal eventually resent you for it?

    Are you saying that YOU wouldn’t feel put upon if you had to shell out extra just because you could?

    No, and no. You keep refusing to believe that there are people in the world who aren’t entirely selfish and who understand that an equal amount of money is a different amount of hardship to people in different economic circumstances.

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    What’s unfair is someone having to pay a higher tax rate just because they can.

    See, this is what I mean about not paying attention to what anyone says. I offered my idea of what “fair” could mean in paying taxes.
    Why is your method fair, but mine is unfair?

    What, where went your mad teechur skilz? Don’t they work?

    I (heart) you, Josh.

  315. says

    I feel like a Christian in an atheist forum for some reason,

    that’s because you argue like one, with counterfactual assertions, repetition, and from “feelings” of morality that have been severely warped.

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    that’s argument by assertion, not a definition of the word “fair” nor the concept of “fairness”

  316. Johan Fruh says

    Well I see there’s no argument to be had here.

    Texatheist… you’re just sticking to the same question over and over.. when everyone basically already answered, and asked you many other questions about fairness, economics etc….

    But you still stick to it…
    Isn’t it unfair to be asked to be paid more just because you can?

    We’ve already explained many many times just why it IS fair for the rich to give more, and it’s not because they can. It’s because they SHOULD.

    But fine, stick to your one argument that’s been beaten to death.
    Don’t complain about others losing patience with you though.

  317. texatheist says

    Mr Fire,

    I brought up a simple point and everyone blows it up into a much more complicated argument. I’m not addressing the worlds problems with my initial comment about it not being fair to tax one person more than another, JUST because they make more money.

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    I’m not addressing the benefits of making one person pay more than another. I’m not addressing the way people game the system when they put money into tax shelters and such. I’m not addressing the poor and destitute’s situation.

    I feel for the poor. I assist them when I can. I give at least once a week to someone who looks like they need it. I’m glad the government has programs to help the poor who need it. I’m happy to pay my taxes to help them do it.

    As I said earlier, you guys jumped to all kinds of conclusions about me based on a few comments I input earlier tonight and ascribed actions and thoughts to me that were as far from reality as it can be.

    As “scientific” and knowledgeable as most of you seem to be, you got it wrong with me.

  318. Seymour Brighton says

    Yes, I’ll lurk. Like I watch football. Because to be a footballer you need years of practise, know the rules, develop the skills, and master technique.

    I lurk because I don’t have all the above ^^ nor the desire for being part of this clique.

    In high school I had the same problem. I struggled to understand the lingo, the rules, and the complex social structure that held the class together. I’ve see it in any group I’ve taught over the years, and I just have to admit that I’m no anthropologist when it comes to understanding groups and their rules.

    I feel the same sense of un-belonging here. Even though I agree with EVERYTHING people have said on-topic in reply to Texatheist, I just don’t GET how the underlying system works and all the mines you can step on.

    Humanist……… doesn’t seem to be a word that fits. Because humans who care about one another and want to see others come around to a better understanding don’t talk to one another like this.

    You can disagree with someone, but if you hound them on their position when they don’t seem to get it, rather than just suggesting they seek some more information elsewhere, then you’re not likely to ever see that person come to your side on that issue.

    You might have “won” the debate, but your goal of reaching that person was lost.

  319. says

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    How is then even fair? Why should people who have the resources and use the same services pay less (in proportion) than those who don’t have the resources (which, often, are for reasons that weren’t their fault)?

  320. SallyStrange says

    Emperical studies show that libertarians are less empathetic than the general population. Texatheist is an example.

    And he still can’t define “fair” without using circular reasoning.

    Hey! Look who has data and who doesn’t.

  321. says

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    but you’ve shown no evidence whatsoever for that being true. you haven’t even provided a definition of what fairness is. you’re not going to convince anyone of a deontological “gut feeling”, when the consequences thereof have been shown empirically to be harmful

  322. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Seymour, why did you yell the word “cunt” and why won’t you acknowledge the question?

  323. Classical Cipher, OM says

    You know what I think is funny about our misogynist friend Seymour? I think it’s funny that rather than using the much-touted superior! teaching! ability! to change texatheist’s mind, Seymour is alternately spewing sexist slurs and blathering ineffectually at the rest of us about our tone. Says a lot about priorities.

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    Okay, texatheist. Using your circular, idiotic idiosyncratic definition of “fair,” I’m sure we can all admit that that’s true. Now tell us why we should care more about “fairness” as defined by texatheist than about what works in reality.

  324. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    Why? You don’t believe in deductions, or an effectively graduate tax? And you are fair (no way Jose)? Not everybody can pay $100,000 in taxes, especially if they only make $20,000. Rate should be graduated too. Prove otherwise by citing the literature.

  325. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Tex,
    Define “fair”. A really really real definition. A working definition, if you will.

  326. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Because humans who care about one another and want to see others come around to a better understanding don’t talk to one another like this.

    They also don’t throw around obscene, degrading insults such as “cunt.” So, why did you do that?

  327. Seymour Brighton says

    Cunt is a great word that everyone has decided is bad. It has a PR problem is all. It will recover one day :D I have faith in Pastor Carlin.

    No, my use of it was to show that I don’t belong because I apparently I’m not foul-mouthed and angry enough to belong here.

    But obviously people have a problem with cunt, too. So, another landmine I stepped on.

    Cunt is only misogynistic to people who think Cunt is misogynistic.

    It’s an objective fact of the universe that Cunt is fricken awesome word that should be used far more often. And you are wrong if you disagree. Objectively wrong.

  328. SallyStrange says

    I feel the same sense of un-belonging here.

    Yup. Which is as it should be, since we’re not misogynists. Why do you think it’s acceptable to use “cunt” as an insult?

    For that matter, why is it acceptable for you to use “sociopath” as an insult, then retreat from it with a “She started it!” child’s defense, while simultaneously denying that the word holds any true meaning?

    Dishonest, misogynist, and cowardly. Why should anyone listen to you?

  329. Carlie says

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    And we are saying “more” is a relative term. You only use it in terms of percentage of total income received. There is also “more” in terms of amount of buying power, and “more” in terms of overall amount of money left over after basic necessities are taken care of, and “more” in terms of amount of benefit compared to amount of cost, etc. There are many ways to look at what income does and what it means, and we have been trying to tell you this, but you keep refusing to listen.

  330. says

    Classical Cipher:

    After you tell us why you thought it was acceptable to use a misogynistic slur.

    Oh, don’t be silly, CC. It’s just a word, ya know? I mean the regulars here were using words like “goddamn” and “fuck”! Gee, look what happens when a pearl clutcher tries to fit in, all of a sudden, getting yelled at for using a gendered insult!

    Really, we are just so fuckin’ terrible. :eyeroll:

    SeeMoreCupcake, take your idiocy and your misogyny, wrap it around this nicely decaying porcupine and insert it backwards into the orifice of your choice. Be sure to pound hard. It will help, honest. It’s a naturopathic approved porcupine.

  331. SallyStrange says

    But obviously people have a problem with cunt, too. So, another landmine I stepped on.

    So, when you said you’d been lurking for years, you were lying?

  332. says

    Using your circular, idiotic idiosyncratic definition of “fair,” I’m sure we can all admit that that’s true. Now tell us why we should care more about “fairness” as defined by texatheist than about what works in reality.

    indeed. if “fairness” were indeed to be defined as “everybody contributes the same percentage”, it would then have to be established that “fairness” is even a positive value. And the only sensible way to do so is to look at the real-world consequences of “fairness” so defined.

  333. Seymour Brighton says

    (Also, that last bit was parodying people here who make out as if anyone who disagrees is “objectively wrong” like it’s a universal fact.)

  334. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Cunt is only misogynistic

    Fixed that for you loser. Try another blog elsewhere. You have nothing cogent to say until you apologize to the women and male feminists of Pharyngula for your idiocy and use of misogynic language.

  335. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Cunt is only misogynistic to people who think Cunt is misogynistic.

    It’s an objective fact of the universe that Cunt is fricken awesome word that should be used far more often. And you are wrong if you disagree. Objectively wrong.

    Now I know you’re lying about having hung around Pharyngula for three years. You can’t have missed the recent shitstorms about misogyny and sexist slurs and say what you’re saying. So, you’re liar and a condescending fuck (and possibly a floor polish).

    “Cunt” has no more place in public conversation as in insult than does “faggot” or “nigger.”

  336. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Blockquote fail. Trying again:

    Cunt is only misogynistic to people who think Cunt is misogynistic.

    It’s an objective fact of the universe that Cunt is fricken awesome word that should be used far more often. And you are wrong if you disagree. Objectively wrong.

    Now I know you’re lying about having hung around Pharyngula for three years. You can’t have missed the recent shitstorms about misogyny and sexist slurs and say what you’re saying. So, you’re liar and a condescending fuck (and possibly a floor polish).

    “Cunt” has no more place in public conversation as in insult than does “faggot” or “nigger.”

  337. Carlie says

    You can disagree with someone, but if you hound them on their position when they don’t seem to get it, rather than just suggesting they seek some more information elsewhere, then you’re not likely to ever see that person come to your side on that issue.

    We pointed him directly at more information elsewhere, and referred to it, and explained it, and he kept on saying the same ignorant thing over and over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER. How is it hounding when he’s the one forcing us to repeat ourselves by never addressing anything we say?

  338. says

    Cunt is a great word that everyone has decided is bad.

    “everyone” of course being the people who study the real-world effects of slurs. but the opinions of a single comedian are of course far more valuable than than

    Cunt is only misogynistic to people who think Cunt is misogynistic.

    wrong, except in the most trivial sense (i.e. the sense that any combination of letters only means what people agree it means)

    t’s an objective fact of the universe that Cunt is fricken awesome word that should be used far more often.

    this is a lie and willful ignorance of the evidence.

  339. SallyStrange says

    Anyway, I don’t have a problem with the word “cunt,” anymore than I have a problem with the word “vagina.” Actually, I quite like “cunt.” Like I said, I have one.

    I have a problem when it’s used as an insult, thereby implying that female genitalia, and thus femaleness in general, are Bad Things.

    That’s misogyny, you know, textbook definition and all. Since you’re so keen on academic type discussions, you should appreciate that.

    I think Seymour is a rank liar. Classical Cipher is entirely correct in offering him a decaying porcupine. Seymour is entirely correct in noting that he doesn’t belong here, which leaves me wondering why he sticks around.

    Oh well. I’m sure he’ll be leaving shortly. Since he was lying about having been around before.

  340. says

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    You have not yet defined “fair” as it applies to every single person on the planet.

    Here’s one for your “fair”: people with children get tax breaks (in the U.S.). I’m married but childfree. I don’t get those tax breaks and I end up paying more than people with a houseful of children. Is that fair?*

    *Seriously, try to actually think here. It will probably break that atrophied thing you call a brain, but try.

  341. texatheist says

    Damn Nerd of Redhead!

    I never said that EVERYONE should pay 100,000 in taxes no matter how much they make per year! Where and how the hell did you read that from what I wrote?

    I gave an example of a tax rate…

    If I make 20,000 a year and pay 15%, I pay 3000 in taxes

    If I make 100,000 a year and pay 15%, I pay 15,000 in taxes

    If I make 1,000,000 a year and pay 15%, I pay 150,000 in taxes.

    All of them paid the same tax rate, yet the person who made 1,000,000 a year paid more in taxes than the other 2 combined 150,000 vs 15,000+3000.

    it’s not hard to grasp.

    The claim is that the rich don’t pay their “fair share”, yet they paid more than everyone else put together.

    (can’t find the actual stats but it’s something like this)… In the US, the top 5% of wage earners pay something like 80% of the total taxes collected by the US government, and I’m fine with that, but this is a good example to proving that the rich already DO pay their fair share.

  342. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh well. I’m sure he’ll be leaving shortly

    Yeah. Right after he’s done hoggling.

  343. says

    (Also, that last bit was parodying people here who make out as if anyone who disagrees is “objectively wrong” like it’s a universal fact.)

    strawman. would you like links to the evidence for every single time I pointed out to texie that he’s empirically wrong? (that would take a while, but it’s entirely doable)

  344. Seymour Brighton says

    Also, you guys like to push people’s buttons to their absolute frustration and then you get to gloat when they react like exasperated humans.

    You think Texatheist is frustrating? I can sense he is FAR FAR more frustrated with you. He wants to understand, but no-one yet has had the skills to combine the right set of words to convince him.

    A few are trying, which is good.

    I *guarantee* that if I knew more about the topic I’d be able to convince Texatheist. All I know is that a scaling tax system is wise. I have no way of explaining that to Texatheist because I haven’t done the necessary reading on the topic. But I can spot everyone people have gone wrong in speaking to Texatheist.

    That’s a winnable argument. I promise you. You CAN convince him. I can tell he wants to understand.

    But with my argument over so-called “tone” I’m not aiming to change anyone’s mind because a culture is harder to change than a mind.

  345. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I brought up a simple point and everyone blows it up into a much more complicated argument. I’m not addressing the worlds problems with my initial comment about it not being fair to tax one person more than another, JUST because they make more money.

    You obviously fail to see the implications of this.

    Rich get benefits that poor don’t. In spades

    What’s 15% of someone making 20k

    What’s 15% of someone making 250k

    Ho much does milk, bread, rent water and heat cast?

  346. Carlie says

    I’m pretty sure Seymour isn’t a teacher, either. Or an academic. If he is, I feel sorry for his colleagues and students.

  347. Seymour Brighton says

    SallyStrange. I’m glad we can agree that cunt is awesome. so is dick, schwang, knob, cock, and – why not – douche-bag.

    When I call someone a cunt, it’s not because they’re a part of the female genitalia.

    When I call someone gay, it’s not because they’re happy.

    If I say I’m fucking pissed, it’s not because I’m intercoursing urinated.

  348. says

    Cunt is only misogynistic to people who think Cunt is misogynistic.

    Nope. People who use it as an insult are misogynistic. That would be you, SeemoreCupcake. The fact that you don’t understand gendered insults speaks volumes about you.

    Aren’t you tired of putting your pearl clutching idiocy on display, Cupcake?

  349. Nobody says

    To all who might be offended by Harris’ use of the word ‘austism’, I remind you that ‘autism’ literally means “selfishness”. Autism comes from the Greek ‘autos’, meaning “self”, after all. I doubt he meant to disparage people who have the condition.

  350. texatheist says

    Further, even IF the tax rate was changed so that everyone pays the same rate, that “statistic” about the top 5% of wage earners would STILL break down to where they would still be paying the same percentage of taxes collected. It’s just that everyone would be paying hte same rate, and the tax system would be fair.

    I like someone’s earlier addendum to where it would apply to only people making x number of dollars a year, the poorest should still not have to pay any taxes.

  351. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    It’s an objective fact of the universe that Cunt is fricken awesome word that should be used far more often. And you are wrong if you disagree.

    Are you 15 years old?

    If not, you should go be checked for a severe case of myopic dumbfuckery.

  352. Classical Cipher, OM says

    But with my argument over so-called “tone” I’m not aiming to change anyone’s mind because a culture is harder to change than a mind.

    So, what, you just like to… read your own words, or what? Cupcake, that’s what notepad is for.

    I doubt he meant to disparage people who have the condition.

    Doesn’t matter what he meant, though for what it’s worth, I think you’re being charitable to the point of gullibility. He harmed people who have the condition. See tielserrath above.

  353. Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM says

    A real shame because I LIKE PZ very much.

    Seymour Brighton, you are full of shit. Earlier today in the *nn C**lt*r thread, you dragged in a Family Guy joke and then claimed that you did not say it, that Seth MacFarland said it. Then you asked if PZ wanted to cut MacFarland. You then suggested that you should have a petition against PZ.

    I would have linked to it but PZ deleted.

    Here is one of the traditions here, Blighton. Find a decaying body of a dead porcupine. Ram said porcupine up you ass using a vigorous circular motion.

  354. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    it’s not hard to grasp.

    No, you are a liberturd who is arrogant and ignorant. Show how it works in real life, with real life examples. Like compare the taxes in France. Now, I believe in an effectively graduate tax. The tax rate can be flat, but exemptions and deductions can give an effective graduated tax, as the exemptions and deductions mean more to the poor than someone like myself, who makes a decent income. Flat taxes without deductions and exemptions for for loser fuckwitted liberturds, who are soundly and rightfully ignorned at this blog. And you haven’t presented any citations to back up your idiocy. And the tax rate would have to be 25% or higher to make it work…

  355. Seymour Brighton says

    Oh come on people, Seymour Brighton? Really? You think that’s my actual name? You think because you haven’t seen that name before I haven’t been reading and commenting (sporadically, with deep regret each time) since PZ got expelled from Expelled?

    It’s the worst feeling to feel like you BELONG to a group because you share fundamental worldviews, but then not feel welcome.

    Maybe it’s just the old BBS problem – people behind keyboards. The internet is a cesspool, no matter what view you hold.

  356. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I can sense he is FAR FAR more frustrated with you.

    That’s cuz of your sick empathetic teechur skilz. Or because you have your hand up his knitted-cotton backside.

    He wants to understand, but no-one yet has had the skills to combine the right set of words to convince him.

    Those skills must include direct conceptual telepathy, as clear expository language in concise sentences has failed to reach him.

  357. says

    Rev. BDC:

    How much does milk, bread, rent water and heat cost?

    Waaay too much when you don’t have a great deal of money. Heat? Oh Christ on Toast, I’m on propane where I’m at, it costs a bloody fortune. My house stays pretty damn cold over the 6 months of winter.

  358. Nobody says

    To all who might be offended by Harris’ use of the word ‘autism’, I remind you that ‘autism’ literally means “selfishness”. It’s derived from the Greek ‘autos’, meaning “self”, after all. I doubt he meant to disparage people with the condition.

  359. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Seymour, you still here and proving yourself to be an abject loser? Yep, can’t take the hint to stop lying to yourself, then stop lying to us, and then fade back into the bandwidth with the other misogynist losers…

  360. Seymour Brighton says

    What is “pearl clutching”? What is “cupcake”?

    Again, I’m not part of this culture. I don’t know your language and terms.

    Can you explain?

    Also, if there are any other words that you guys use regularly could you explain those too?

    Or do you want to keep those things opaque and just wait in ambush?

  361. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Oh come on people, Seymour Brighton? Really? You think that’s my actual name? You think because you haven’t seen that name before I haven’t been reading and commenting (sporadically, with deep regret each time) since PZ got expelled from Expelled?

    Your name has nothing to do with why we think your claim to have been lurking here for years is a steaming pile of rank bullshit. If you had, you’d know that using gendered insults is completely unacceptable, you’d know why, and you wouldn’t be whining about it.

    It’s the worst feeling to feel like you BELONG to a group because you share fundamental worldviews, but then not feel welcome.

    Ah, I sense an opportunity for another Classical Cipher Moment of Silence™. Y’all know the drill. Everyone who cares about poor poor Seymour’s widdle feelings, stfu.

  362. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You think because you haven’t seen that name before I haven’t been reading and commenting (sporadically, with deep regret each time) since PZ got expelled from Expelled?

    It’s the worst feeling to feel like you BELONG to a group because you share fundamental worldviews, but then not feel welcome.

    I don’t give a flying fuck what name you go by. I care about your words. And your words tell me you don’t understand the culture here at all. You don’t understand why we’re passionate about social justice issues, and you snark at us for being passionate while defending people who have really cruel political views. You focus on our nasty-naughty language while giving a free pass to commenters paying far less attention. You’re condescending as all shit.

    Then, to top it off, you deliberately insult a community of people who’ve made it crystal clear that we don’t tolerate gendered/race/sexuality based insults, and then glibly defend that on grounds of linguistic relativism.

    We’re left with two possibilities:

    1. You’re a liar and you haven’t lurked here

    2. You really don’t belong here, because you know nothing about the social values we share, or you don’t give a shit about them at all

    And you wonder why you’re inching up on the I Hate You meter.

  363. Carlie says

    I remind you that ‘autism’ literally means “selfishness”. Autism comes from the Greek ‘autos’, meaning “self”, after all. I doubt he meant to disparage people who have the condition.

    Oh, give it the fuck up. I’d bet good money that Harris was NOT thinking of the Greet root “autos” when he wrote that.

  364. SallyStrange says

    When I call someone a cunt, it’s not because they’re a part of the female genitalia.

    When I call someone gay, it’s not because they’re happy.

    If I say I’m fucking pissed, it’s not because I’m intercoursing urinated.

    One of these things is not like the other. One of these things does not belong.

    1. “Cunt.” You called us cunts because you were mad and you wanted to insult us. The fact that 50% of the human race is collateral damage in the process, you don’t care. You don’t care enough to avoid denigrating women in your quest to denigrate Pharyngulites. Thus, you are a misogynist.

    2. “That’s gay.” You apparently use this stupid epithet, really? You must be 15 after all. Anyway, you use “gay” because you’re angry and you want to insult someone. The fact that all gays and lesbians are collateral damage in your quest to insult someone is meaningless to you. You don’t care enough about the fortunes of LGBT people to avoid using their very existence as an insult. Thus, you are a homophobe, or a homo-hater, or whatever label applies most correctly.

    3. “Fucking pissed”. Guess what? This is a metaphor with no collateral damage. No marginalized groups were denigrated in the process of expressing your irritation. Congratulations, you have successfully expressed your feelings without also being a bigot. See, it can be done. No more excuses now.

    Fucker.

  365. says

    Nobody:

    I doubt he meant to disparage people who have the condition.

    I doubt you’re right. In this day and age, anyone using the word autism is going to have their readers interpret in the modern, medical usage. Harris was a douchebag for using it and caused actual harm to people in doing so.

    Don’t try to excuse his assholish behaviour. It’s not something which should be defended.

  366. spamamander says

    Texatheist, you “aren’t rich” making just under 50k a year?

    No, perhaps not.

    If I were to get 40 hours a week, (which I won’t, because employers like to keep you JUST under full time, so they don’t have to pay for health insurance or other benefits) I would gross… $18,900 a year.

    I’m fortunate. My ex pays his child support which gives me an extra amount each month, plus he is paying the mortgage- because there’s no way we could even clear what we owe on the house in this market. While I was unemployed I got a small amount each month in SSI for my disabled child, and a whopping $250 a month in food stamps for a family of four.

    I know I’m fortunate. I have a place to live, and can attempt to provide for my kids. I have a working vehicle to get to and from work. My heat pump is broken in the 98 degree heat, but there’s worse things. My oldest child will be going to the University of Washington in a few weeks, thanks to financial aid, and she will have a chance to do more than I have.

    So dog knows if I had that $10 million tomorrow, I’d be damn happy to give back to the community. Because nobody can live on less than $19k a year like our rich overlords seem to think.

  367. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    What is “pearl clutching”? What is “cupcake”?

    Again, I’m not part of this culture. I don’t know your language and terms.

    Can you explain?

    Oh jeezis, he really is just trolling y’all. Let him die on the vine.

    Someone might want to check ERV later to see if he pops up with a “report” on how easy it is to provoke the Horde.

  368. Carlie says

    Oh come on people, Seymour Brighton? Really? You think that’s my actual name? You think because you haven’t seen that name before I haven’t been reading and commenting (sporadically, with deep regret each time) since PZ got expelled from Expelled?

    No, we think you haven’t been reading because you’re freely professing ignorance of ideas, concepts, and terms that are brought up here at least weekly, if not more often.

  369. says

    Aaaaaaaaaand, before SeemoreCupcake goes “aha, she used douchebag! What’s wrong with cunt?” Here’s the answer:

    Douching was a terribly anti-woman practice designed to make women feel ashamed about their natural body odor. Repeated douching can wash away the lining of the uterus, making it not just pointless but dangerous. Douching can lead to infections and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancies and pelvic inflammatory disease.

    Douche and douchebag make very fitting insults in certain situations. Think about it.

  370. Mr. Fire says

    Fair in the context of the original post about taxes is where everyone pays the same rate. THAT’s fair.

    What’s unfair is someone having to pay a higher tax rate just because they can.

    ARRRGH

  371. Seymour Brighton says

    Yeah, that Seth MacFarlane thing was humour. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out the episode where Ann Coulter’s vagina is used as a refrigerator. It’s the first thing that jumps into my head when I hear that name now.

    Anyway, ciao! You’ve helped me waste 2 hours and I’ve helped to waste a couple of yours :D Bye!

    Also, I want you to know, that outside of this conversation, I actually love you all very much. You’re good people. You just frustrate the shit outta me, and I realise I just have to love you as you are :D

  372. Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM says

    Texatheist blathered:

    I’ll say this again because people may have missed it.

    If I make 100,000 and my tax rate is 15% I pay 15,000 right?

    If I make 1,000,000 and my tax rate is 15%, I pay 150,000 right?

    Hey! WOW! That’s more money collected from the person making a million than the person who earned 100,000…

    So, the person who made $100,000 keeps $85,000 while the person who made $1,000,000 keeps $850,000. That is just so unfair to the person who made a million.

    Here is a question about sales tax. Should a person pay less taxes if that person buys a lot of goods? Should there be lower taxes the more that is spent?

  373. Dianne says

    So texatheist and others arguing for a flat tax, how do you feel about this idea, which approaches the issue from another direction but arrives at a “flat tax” of a sort: Currently, in the US, fines are collected at a set value. If, for example, you run a red light* in an area where the fine for running a red light is $50 you pay $50 whether you make $5/hour (making it a fine of 10 hours work) or $100/hour (making it a fine of 1/2 hour’s work). This seems unfair. Why not make the fine a certain percentage of income and/or net worth? That would not only be more fair, it would be more of a deterrent to crime: the person making $100/hour would have an equal deterrent to the person making $5/hour. Plus if the Koch brothers get caught speeding, there’s your city’s monthly budget, made in a single move!

    When you get that one passed, I’ll reconsider a flat tax. Until then, all a flat tax is is a way to make (short term) money for rich people too stupid to realize that a functioning government is in their own self interest.

    *And get caught at it, which is unlikely given the woefully inadequate enforcement of laws regarding driving, but that’s a different issue.

  374. says

    Seemore Cupcake:

    What is “pearl clutching”? What is “cupcake”?

    Again, I’m not part of this culture. I don’t know your language and terms.

    Can you explain?

    Sure: http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Memes

    Except:

    You think because you haven’t seen that name before I haven’t been reading and commenting (sporadically, with deep regret each time) since PZ got expelled from Expelled?

    Gee, Seemore Cupcake, if you’ve been around that long, well, you’d hardly be such an innocent, eh? So, you’re a fucking liar, a hypocrite and a troll.

  375. Seymour Brighton says

    SallyStrange. No the gay thing was more like, “my cousin is gay”. You ASSUMED I meant, “oh dude, thats like, sooo gayyy”.

    But that’s excusable.

    All I’m saying is words can mean more than one thing. A simple concept that even YOU can understand but wilfully misconstrue for the sake of argument. Because that’s your thing.

  376. SallyStrange says

    I actually love you all very much. You’re good people. You just frustrate the shit outta me, and I realise I just have to love you as you are :D

    Sure, sure. Just like every misogynist says he “loves women.” All of them. Just not enough to avoid using their distinguishing characteristic as an insult.

    You don’t love me, I guarantee it.

  377. Seymour Brighton says

    Gees, I never thought of “cunt” as being denigrating to women before. Wow, thanks for changing my mind on that! I promise never to use it again, and ONLY to use it in its normal, everyday, non-offensive usage.

  378. raven says

    I haven’t read this thread past #71, but one thing is well known.

    The more income inequality a country has, the more unstable it becomes.

    You see it in South America with libertarian economies, that is fabulously wealthy oligarchies controlling everything.

    The rich pay a price. They have to hire armed guards to protect them from very poor people with nothing to lose. One of the common jobs that anyone can get who owns a gun is “armed security guard”.

    One of my friends is from a Philippines ruling family. They have to hire armed guards to protect their rice fields. From people stealing rice I guess. They also spend as much time as they can in the USA. One of her family members was killed during some sort of labor dispute with the campesinos.

    That is the trajectory the US is on right now.

  379. Seymour Brighton says

    I LOVE you SallyStrange :) You’re funny, smart and you stand up for what’s right.

    BELIEVE IT

  380. Anteprepro says

    Nobody, word origin is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the predominant usage of the word is a reference to a disorder called “autism” and all any mention of the term “autism” will be associated with autism spectrum disorders by the vast majority of readers. If Harris meant to use some overly vague definition of “autism” only slightly related to the actual disorder, instead of alluding to the actual disorder directly, he did a very poor job of making that clear and deserves all the flak he gets, regardless if he intended some obscure, alternate meaning. And I still contend that sociopathy/psychopathy/antisociality would have been a better fit, especially if going along with such generalizations that would make autism somehow fit the bill for “lack of compassion”.

  381. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Also, I want you to know, that outside of this conversation, I actually love you all very much.

    ‘Scuse me, everybody. I took all appropriate biohazard procedures before entering this thread, but I still kinda feel the need to go shower now.
    Gross.

  382. Aqua Buddha says

    @Dianne

    My argument is that I prefer the moral standard where greater compensation is given for greater shittiness of the job. Residency is indeed crummy, therefore doctors doing residency should be paid more during that time than doctors who are doing less intensive, less stultifying work.

    IF coal-mining is indeed harsher than residency (I think it clearly is… I would greatly prefer three years of residency to three years of coal-mining), then coal-miners should be compensated more, and they surely should be compensated more than the typical lawyer, theoretical physicist, engineer and so on.

    And this is coming from a lab tech aspiring to be an academic biologist. No insurance company related motives here.

  383. texatheist says

    Flat tax systems are in place in several states in the U.S.

    Flat tax systems eliminate deductions, tax credits, and most exemptions, thereby eliminating biases towards certain behaviors and activities.

    Eliminating deductions, tax credits, and complex tax brackets also simplifies the tax code, making compliance easier. Flat taxes also encourage investment.

    The facts are that our tax system is so convoluted and complicated, that it allows all these tax breaks and incentives for businesses and individuals. Going with a flat tax rate would effectively eliminate all these loopholes and biases that the evil lobbyists have built into our current tax system.

    The ever-growing Internal Revenue Code is now over 3 million words. It’s far too complex, intrusive and long. All of you know this. I heard the average person spends 25 hours or so trying to put their taxes together, or paying someone else to do it.

    With a flat tax rate we can get rid of a lot of our problems as a nation, as people who game the system and find tax shelters here and there.

    You want to stick it to the rich people folks? Switch things over to a flat tax rate.

  384. SallyStrange says

    You’re funny, smart and you stand up for what’s right.

    Just because a lying morphing sexist troll says it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    Critical reasoning FTW!

  385. Carlie says

    Dianne – ooh, but why just fines? We can make all goods priced on a sliding scale. I like it. People making less than 20k a year don’t pay more than $2 a pound for steak, people making over 200k a year have to pay at least $20 a pound for steak. People making less than $50k a year pay 15k for a new minivan, and people making $500k have to pay 150k for that same minivan (all the excess, of course, being taxes that go straight into the system). Hm, this could be interesting…

  386. SallyStrange says

    However, if you don’t mind my sayin’, I don’t want Seemore Cupcake “lovin’” me, from any distance. Creepy.

    Seconded. I am now officially skeeved out.

  387. Carlie says

    Anyway, ciao! You’ve helped me waste 2 hours and I’ve helped to waste a couple of yours :D Bye!

    Interesting way to put it. I don’t consider articulating my stance on public issues, honing my skills in defending my own points of view, and putting down a semi-permanent record of the topic hoping to convince any voting members of society reading along to consider the greater social good a waste of my time. I would think only sociopaths would consider such a discussion a waste.

  388. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’ll say this again because people may have missed it.

    If I make 100,000 and my tax rate is 15% I pay 15,000 right?

    If I make 1,000,000 and my tax rate is 15%, I pay 150,000 right?

    Hey! WOW! That’s more money collected from the person making a million than the person who earned 100,000…

    What about someone making 15,000?

  389. Mr. Fire says

    I gave an example of a tax rate…

    If I make 20,000 a year and pay 15%, I pay 3000 in taxes

    If I make 100,000 a year and pay 15%, I pay 15,000 in taxes

    If I make 1,000,000 a year and pay 15%, I pay 150,000 in taxes.

    All of them paid the same tax rate, yet the person who made 1,000,000 a year paid more in taxes than the other 2 combined 150,000 vs 15,000+3000.

    it’s not hard to grasp.

    Anteprepro addressed this way back @121, and the again with carefully-worked example for you, @227.

  390. Carlie says

    The facts are that our tax system is so convoluted and complicated, that it allows all these tax breaks and incentives for businesses and individuals. Going with a flat tax rate would effectively eliminate all these loopholes and biases that the evil lobbyists have built into our current tax system.

    One doesn’t follow from the other. You can eliminate all of the loopholes and still have several tax brackets.

  391. says

    In the US, the top 5% of wage earners pay something like 80% of the total taxes collected by the US government, and I’m fine with that, but this is a good example to proving that the rich already DO pay their fair share.

    see, this is precisely why we think your idea of fairness is sociopathic in effect. the US taxation rate is destroying US society and has severely negative effects on everyone, but you’re “fine with that”.

    And anyway, you’re wrong in the “lying with statistics” sense. for the top 20% of wage earners, the difference between percentage of all income and percentage of all taxes differs only by 5 percentage points, so hardly grossly unfair even by texie’s case-specific, idiosyncratic non-definition. However, once all taxes as well as all tax-breaks are included, the US tax system is actually highly regressive (and fuck me for having returned the source of those numbers before copying them for future reference *sigh*). It would take a far more progressive income tax as well as the closing of a lot of loopholes and proper corporate taxation (not the 0% in real taxes paid that’s currently going on) to balance out taxation rates to the point where everyone paid the same percentage in terms of actual yearly income & wealth.

  392. Seymour Brighton says

    Caine, Fucked Ya, Mum (cos I can play that game too):

    I said I was here SPORADICALLY. Every time I think I’m joining in a normal commenting thread I quickly learn there are ‘special rules’ to follow and unspoken social structures, so I never comment for more than a couple of threads.

    I mostly just read what PZ has to say and ignore the comments. For that very reason.

    But yes, one can be true while the other is true.

    I can be a PZ reader and have NO interest in the weird world happening below the blog post. When I venture into this world I regret it every time.

    But I’ll keep reading PZ because he is well-written and illuminating. I never feel like he pushes it too far. But you guys take up where he leaves off and just ram people who aren’t even ideologically opposed.

  393. says

    Going with a flat tax rate would effectively eliminate all these loopholes and biases that the evil lobbyists have built into our current tax system.

    incorrect. As our resident economist noted previously, any such development would be very quickly undone. it’s ideological thinking, not realistic, evidence-based thinking

  394. says

    As an Aspie, I (I know, repeating old stuff) object to the comparison of Objectivists to autistics.
    For that matter, it’s not really fair to call them sociopaths. Objectivism is a choice, antisocial personality disorder isn’t.

  395. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ugh, can everyone stop feeding Seymour?

    Sally-wanna come to a potluck on my street tomorrow? Price of entry is “make a dish you’ve never made before.” Starts at 6. If so, txt or call.

  396. Carlie says

    I said I was here SPORADICALLY.

    Then why were you on such a high horse about it? Why bother to mention it at all?

  397. Seymour Brighton says

    Yeah I’m a mighty morphin’ troll ranger.

    I’ll be back. But you’ll never see Seymour Cupcake again.

    I might try a different approach. Maybe I could write in big block letters and post weird images and YouTube videos and threaten all the atheists with god’s wrath!

    Meh, who has the time?

  398. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But you guys take up where he leaves off and just ram people who aren’t even ideologically opposed.

    If you use misogynist language fuckwit, you are ideologically opposed, and you know it. Keep showing us your loseship. You are doing a magnificent job of convincing us you don’t have a cogent thought in your head.

  399. texatheist says

    Seymour, I’m with you… let’s get out of here and let them crow that they’ve won another internet argument and run off some more “losers” ;-)

    Like you, I don’t often delve into the forums. I’ve listened to too many beat downs from PZ’s goons. I can now crow that I was one! I feel privileged!

  400. SallyStrange says

    Thanks Josh but I’s workin! At a minimum wage-type JOB! The kind that would never let a person save up any money at all were they to do it all year round. The kind that Republicans and libertarians point to and go “Those free-loaders never pay any tax at all!” ignoring the fact that about 30% of my income is gone before I even see it. Fortunately it’s just for a week. And I get free tickets to the fair.

  401. says

    Rev. BDC:

    What about someone making 15,000?

    Oh, who cares about people who only make 15K a year? Wait…there are people who only make 15K a year?

    That last sentence is only one of the reasons Flatbrains like Tex are contemptible. Those who advocate a flat tax are unashamedly protecting the filthy rich and think anyone who is making less than 100k a year just isn’t trying hard enough.

    :spits:

  402. Seymour Brighton says

    If I seem to be a troll it’s only because I stopped taking this seriously ages ago. At first I was bothered. But I’ve made my peace with the culture that exists here. And now I’m just poking fun.

  403. SallyStrange says

    But I’ll keep reading PZ because he is well-written and illuminating. I never feel like he pushes it too far.

    Is Seymour issuing PZ a challenge?

  404. Seymour Brighton says

    Tex… you’re making me look like a “sock puppet”. Quit agreeing, man! lol

    Everyone, I’m from Melbourne, Australia. Seymour and Brighton are two suburbs here.

    I’m not from Texas at all, and I came into this conversation late. I’m not Texatheist.

  405. says

    You want to stick it to the rich people folks? Switch things over to a flat tax rate.

    amazing that your only real argument for the flat tax is that to institute it, one would have to scrap the old tax code and replace it with a completely new one.

    You are aware that this would be true for any other system as well, and is thus not an actual argument for the flat tax? (and this is in addition to the fact that such a “clan” code would not last long)

  406. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn liberturds still showing us arrogance and ignorance. Can’t put up, but can’t shut up. That tells us all we need to know about their lack of intelligence, honor, integrity, and cogency. Texatheist and Seymour are prime examples of this, and why they are ignored, as they lack basic decency..

  407. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I think Seymour and Tex are a matched pair. Of knitted cotton in one’s upper drawer.

  408. Mr. Fire says

    Seymour, I’m with you… let’s get out of here and let them crow that they’ve won another internet argument and run off some more “losers” ;-)

    great to you know you’re happy throwing in your lot with a misogynistic self-confessed troll

  409. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Like you, I don’t often delve into the forums. I’ve listened to too many beat downs from PZ’s goons. I can now crow that I was one! I feel privileged!

    oh big yawn.

    Don’t poke yourself with the tail firmly planted between your legs.

    Like that lame cop-out has never been uttered before.

  410. says

    also “stick it to the rich folks” is something you pulled out of your ass. Progressive taxation is something positive not because it’s “sticking it to the rich” (which it doesn’t, as I previously mentioned; even the top quintile doesn’t effectively suffer decreases in quality of life due to higher taxation), but because it promotes the kind of society that makes everyone better off.

  411. raven says

    Well I see this thread ended up trolled to death and I’m not in the mood to wade through troll poo tonight.

    In my crash course on economic survival, we learned that there is actually a clear path for the US out of the hole Bushco dug for the USA.

    1. We need to raise taxes judiciously. The Bush tax cuts are starving the government without actually helping the economy. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, those tax cuts helped produced the Great Recession and we have yet to get out of that. They need to be reversed.

    2. We need to cut spending too. Judiciously. It will hurt some people but not a huge amount. We’re not going to throw the grandparents under the bus or anything.

    3. There are other parts proposed such as job creation strategies that I don’t know enough about to evaluate. I doubt anyone does, but who knows, maybe they do.

    Economists who have run the numbers say the budget can be balanced in 5 to 10 years that way. There is no quick way to undo Bush’s 8 years of destruction.

    As to why we should care about the US economy and the USA. If the boat sinks, we are all on it. Individuals might be able to grab a lifeboat but chances are some of their friends, relatives, and children are going to be heading to the bottom of the ocean. That assumes we don’t end up with civil unrest. Again.

    I haven’t heard many of the next generation from mine, 20 somethings complaining that they have it harder than the Boomers. I don’t know why, AFAICT, they sure as hell do. I graduated from a good state school back in the Dark Ages, debt free (and completely broke). My heavily subsidized tuition my first year was something like 600 USD. Try and do that these days.

  412. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and guys, failure to stick the flounce proves my points without me having to say anything. So, stick your flounces, and show us you have honor and integrity…

  413. Seymour Brighton says

    Nerd you told me off for using that word in 2009. Guess I didn’t learn anything.

    But, I’m now fully pro-Choice. So maybe I did.

    You prob won’t remember the convo.. it was a long time ago.

  414. Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM says

    But I’ll keep reading PZ because he is well-written and illuminating. I never feel like he pushes it too far. But you guys take up where he leaves off and just ram people who aren’t even ideologically opposed.

    Fuckface, tell us how you threatened PZ with a petition because, well, you brought up a Family Guy joke.

    Assclam.

  415. Dianne says

    @aqua: Re coal miners in particular, I seem to remember in the 1990s there being protests by coal miners in Germany who were upset that a mine was being closed, putting them out of a job. They were, IIRC, resisting attempts to retrain them for other, probably safer but likely less well compensated, jobs. So at least in that context, coal mining was considered a desirable job and loss of it a bad thing which should be resisted. Of course, this is in a country with actual safety standards. Being a coal miner in WVa is probably a different matter.

    Rather than punishing people for having jobs they like, though, why not work on making all jobs safe and enjoyable. If coal mining is too dangerous for people, build robots to do the mining. If factory work is too tedious, automate it. If phone solicitation is too soul sucking, find other ways to sell your products. (Personally, I’d rather be a coal miner than a telephone solicitor–and I’m slightly claustrophobic.) Give the crappy jobs to robots* and figure out ways to use people’s talents in the way that is most enjoyable and effective.

    *Nonsentient robots, of course. If sentient robots are developed they can compete for the good jobs with the rest of us.

  416. says

    I said I was here SPORADICALLY.

    So? If you’ve been around since Expelled, even “sporadically”, you would hardly be some naive waif unfamiliar with how things work here. So, you’re still a liar, a hypocrite and a troll.

    Glad we got that all straightened out. By the way, changing your nym rarely works here. People have great memories for a person’s style and content. Unless you get a brain, changing your nym and showing up as “new” isn’t going to work out for you, especially as you’re a Pearl Clutching, Tone Trolling Misogynist.

  417. SallyStrange says

    @Raven

    What about financial reform? To my mind, that had a lot to do with sucking the air out of the economy and sinking it into non-productive pursuits that benefited only the super-rich.

  418. Dianne says

    Flat tax systems are in place in several states in the U.S.

    I know. I just moved from a state with a graduated tax to one with a flat tax. I pay lower taxes. It sucks. I want my subways back. And safe water supply. And decent public education. And…you get the idea.

  419. Seymour Brighton says

    Nerd: I’m not liber(tarian?). I believe in a scaling tax.

    Tex is the only one here who doesn’t agree.

    I hope one day he does read the right information to come to that conclusion, because we can agree it is logical once all the factors are considered.

    But I could tell no-one would convince him by telling him he’s basically immoral for holding the views he holds, and that they hope he “doesn’t vote”.

    Well… I’d be happy to talk to Tex off this forum and perhaps he’ll come to a better understanding of the issues.

    You guys failed.

  420. chris says

    Who here has an econ or political science degree?

    Or at least is a major in one of them?

    PZ, when he talks about politics or ecnomics sounds like the guys from uncommon decent when they talk about evolution.

    PZ should stick Ken Hamm and his wonderful evolution articles instead of Gish Galloping economics.

    Anyone who calls the crony capitalism we have here in the US libertarianism is sorely mistaken.

    Enjoy the 10 percent unemployment rate the people you guys and the Republicans voted for.

  421. SallyStrange says

    And I get free tickets to the fair.

    Define ‘fair’

    It’s this thing with giant pumpkins, and cows, and tractor pulls, and a ferris wheel, and fried dough, and…

    Oh. I see what you did there.

    Talking with libertarians increases my socialist tendencies.

  422. Anteprepro says

    Texatheist, don’t be with him. You don’t want to associate with him. Although some of us may have been short with you, it is simply because you we think you are factually wrong and not adequately addressing our counterarguments. Seymour is all of that, plus a tone troll, sanctimonious hypocrite, and a misogynist whose only trick seems to be attempting to wallow in self-pity. Just because he came to your defense doesn’t mean you have to think that we have same opinion of you as we do of him. His Troll Quotient is around 7.5 of 10, while yours is probably only around 4 or 5. Stick around a little and try your hardest to understand what the others have been saying to you here. You just need to mull things that we’ve said here around a little, while Seymour’s best bet is to fade into the bandwidth until he can learn how to behave here, which will take a good amount of time more than understanding the basic pros and cons of a progressive vs. flat tax.

  423. Rey Fox says

    He wants to understand, but no-one yet has had the skills to combine the right set of words to convince him.

    It’s all those darned facts and explanations that people keep throwing out. If we were to couch our argument in terms of a half-assed ethical principle that feels truthy, would he believe us then?

    I *guarantee* that if I knew more about the topic I’d be able to convince Texatheist.

    I wouldn’t put money on it. You’ve failed to convince us that you’re any more than a pointless shit-stirrer.

    And just a polite note: trolling and morphing are bannable offenses. I mean, not that that should bother you, since commenting here is so horrible and you will never ever return again in the next five minutes…

  424. Naked Bunny with a Whip says

    Jim Mauch @137 is obviously blowing smoke, but it’s a good example of why the relying-on-charity idea wouldn’t (and didn’t) work.

  425. SallyStrange says

    I agree with Anteprepo. Tex is just ignorant and hasn’t thought things all the way through. Seymour is a genuinely awful person.

  426. Seymour Brighton says

    Janine, it was humour. I was referencing the recent Mabus petition, where the guy was threatening violence on people.

    PZ said “I will cut you”. So… it was just a joke.

    Forget that post. It was just humour. If you can’t tell then that’s your too bad.

  427. says

    Chris:

    Who here has an econ or political science degree?

    ‘Tis Himself, for one. See comments #11 #35 and #84. Or you could, oh, I don’t know, read the godsdamned thread before spouting off like an idiot.

  428. Seymour Brighton says

    By the way, Janine, “fuckface” is offensive to people who allow other people to fuck their face. You’re a bigot towards people who give head!

  429. Seymour Brighton says

    Also, an assclam is what someone looks like when they need to use the bathroom and hold their butt cheeks together as they walk, making it look like they’re an ass.. clam…

    And fuckface is someone who gives head.

    I am neither of those things.

    How offensive.

  430. Classical Cipher, OM says

    You guys failed.

    If you assume that our goal was convincing a dyed-in-the-wool idiot to stop spouting circular nonsense and start caring about evidence-based policy, then, well, yeah. But so did you, before you even started. Do you know why? Because you didn’t know the issues. (Also because texatheist, you know, didn’t care about evidence-based policy.) And rather than go off and learn about them – like, you know, making yourself useful – you chose to stick around here and whine at everyone else about how they were doing it wrong. That’s positively disgraceful.

  431. says

    The states with a flat tax are:
    Colorado: 4.63%

    Illinois: 3%

    Indiana: 3.4%

    Massachusetts: 5.3%

    Michigan: 4.35%

    Pennsylvania: 3.07%

    Utah: 5%

    Not a one of them famous for good infrastructure, education, or really anything else generally paid for by tax dollars, and except for Massachusetts and Utah* they all score pretty low on the index of health and social problems.

    OTOH, European countries with strongly progressive taxes have excellent public systems as well as less crime, less mental and physical illnesses, more trust, more social coherence, fewer social ills such as teen pregnancies and divorce, etc ad nauseam.

    *for Utah, this might be simply because they’re one of those states that receives more federal tax than they pay

  432. raven says

    @Raven

    What about financial reform? To my mind, that had a lot to do with sucking the air out of the economy and sinking it into non-productive pursuits that benefited only the super-rich.

    Wouldn’t hurt, but I don’t think it is too important.

    The stock markets and investment banks are only peripheral to the real economy. It’s more a rich person’s gambling club.

    Our real problems right now are the out of balance federal deficits, almost zero economic growth, and high unemployment.

    If we can get economic growth happening again, that will eventually fix everything. If we can’t, the Great Recession can easily turn into the Great Depression II.

  433. says

    Sally:

    Seymour is a genuinely awful person.

    Yes indeed. Because Seemore Cupcake is nothing more than a troll, a person intent on wasting their brain and their life.

    Seemore Cupcake is also incredibly boring.

  434. Seymour Brighton says

    I’m a genuinely WONDERFUL person :D You WISH you knew me in real life. I’m funny, and crass, and interesting to talk to, and just a whole lot of fun! But on here… it’s a weird place… it does weird things to people’s personalities. Look what it’s done to all of you! Oh! I feel so bad for you all…

  435. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    By the way, Janine, “fuckface” is offensive to people who allow other people to fuck their face. You’re a bigot towards people who give head!

    You’re a moron

  436. Seymour Brighton says

    Bwahahahahahaha …. I just have to put a quarter in and BAM, off you guys go…

    Yeh my tongue started being pressed against the inside of my cheek about halfway up.

    As much as you dislike me, that’s how much I think you’re all just so adorable.

    “Ooh, you’re a fuckface, troll! stick the flounce! don’t forget your pearls!”

    teeheehee…

  437. Seymour Brighton says

    I actually forgot that “troll” was a word you guys used against people who disagreed. It’s all coming back to me.

    By the way, calling people a troll makes them act trollish, even if that wasn’t their original intent.

    That’s human nature. Don’tchya know?

  438. Classical Cipher, OM says

    And it keeps growing larger as it is fed.

    It’s inflating. The predicted loud, messy explosion is imminent. Followed by the inevitable banning. Funny.

  439. Mr. Fire says

    I brought up a simple point and everyone blows it up into a much more complicated argument.

    But you failed to provide any evidence for that point, or even define it, which is why things got loud, and even then, they were still only really asking you variations on the original objection.

    ALL I’m trying to get you all to understand is that it is inherently unfair for one person to pay more than another when it comes to taxes.

    ALL we’re saying is that you haven’t provided any further reasoning for this, beyond simply asserting it. We got what you were saying, some of us disagreed that it is unfair, and we provided reasons and examples. But rather than meeting our objections of “why is it unfair?”, you simply re-iterated that it was unfair.

    Do you see why that’s irritating?

    I’m not addressing the benefits of making one person pay more than another. I’m not addressing the way people game the system when they put money into tax shelters and such. I’m not addressing the poor and destitute’s situation.

    Not only are you not addressing it, but critically, you’re not even incorporating it into your thought process. Your point about fairness doesn’t stand alone like some type of philosophical island. Once it comes into contact with realities like those you describe above, it becomes flat and meaningless.

  440. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Caine, stop being so damned shrill.

    data point

    and it keeps growing larger as it is fed.

    I’m waiting to see if it turns into a big foam dinosaur

  441. SallyStrange says

    Sam Harris is bemused: he made the simple, obvious statement that the US needs to tax the rich more, and furious readers of his blog stomped off in a huff. He has discovered an easy way to chase away readers!

    I fear it won’t work as well here, since my anti-libertarian views are already well known

    It does appear to be working, though not for the expected reasons.

  442. Seymour Brighton says

    What killfile?

    Can you block your browser from showing comments by particular people? Or… Is it just humour in this regard?

  443. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Two years ago I gave an explanation about a problem with flat taxes.

    Even under the current system, there are strong incentives to avoid being paid straight income. In many areas of the business world the conventional employer-employee relationship is being replaced by a company contracting with individuals for services rendered. The elimination of deductions that would accompany the institution of a flat tax would undoubtedly accelerate this trend toward self-employment—which has been driven from the start largely by tax considerations. Under a contractual arrangement, the company’s payment to the individual is not income but gross receipts. Income is to be calculated by the individual, with advice from his or her tax accountant, as receipts minus expenses. Even a wholesale elimination of deductions, then, would not achieve a dramatic simplification; it would simply shift the battleground on which taxpayers and the tax collector confront one another. Tax-avoidance strategies would aim at minimizing receipts minus expenses rather than minimizing income minus deductions.

  444. Seymour Brighton says

    Nevermind, found it. Man, that’s handy.

    Question: If I use it on myself do I disappear in real life?

  445. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Nevermind, found it. Man, that’s handy.

    Question: If I use it on myself do I disappear in real life?

    ugh yawn

    if only

  446. chris says

    I read through the thread, but I’m only really going to search the people I recognize, there’s a lot of Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Pulitzer Prize winners I haven’t read I’m not going to sit and read 450 comments of a post by a misinformed biologist.

    I’m also familiar with the idiocy that occurs in these comments. Pharyngula is the place to find a 90% troll rate.

    I can tell that 90 percent of you guys are idiots too when it comes to subjects such as these. That’s not to say I don’t think it’s not engaging to argue against European style social democracy, it’s just silly to do it here. Inverted Gish Galloping is all that happens here.

    To our economist “‘Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres” who couldn’t find an example of the skilled and wealthy leaving or quitting their prestigious or more beneficial to society jobs you only have to go to the former communist countries.

    Well educated teachers from Poland would rather be waiters in England, doctors leave the economy that trained them to work in other EU countries.

    The social safety net in places like France has seen social unrest when the governments can no longer afford a retirement age that’s so young. Nurses strike or threaten to strike all over Europe.

    How about this, let’s start by ending government subsidies to farmers and cut out corporate welfare completely, bring the troops home and end the tradition of employers paying for health insurance so those companies have to compete like my car insurance company does, keep taxes the way they are for the moment.

    Oh no wait the world will end. It’s far better to stimulate the economy by breaking a window so the window maker has work and inflating the dollar to no end?

    Democrats and Sarah Palin aren’t that different they all want a bridge to nowhere and a society painted by themselves.

    I just want all you motherfuckers to leave my money, my sexual preferences, and my religious beliefs alone. And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

  447. Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM says

    Janine, it was humour. I was referencing the recent Mabus petition, where the guy was threatening violence on people.

    Humor? That was funny?

    Blighton, the problem is that you suffer from verbal diarrhea.

    Please, continue with your running joke that insults are demeaning to a nonexistent group. You are a fucking laugh riot.

  448. Seymour Brighton says

    Mr Fire, that made total sense and it’s a pity that Tex seems to be gone now, cos I think he might have understood what you were saying there. He might still return.

    Tex doesn’t get that to gain new understanding on a topic and even change your mind you have to put aside your existing views, and he just couldn’t get past that fair/unfair false dichotomy.

  449. Aqua Buddha says

    @Dianne

    I don’t consider it “punishing people for having jobs they like”, but rather equitable pay for relatively enjoyable, rewarding jobs. I think the current system drastically undercompensates those working “lowlier” jobs (and also leaves their potential intellectual skills unrealized and their anxiety levels high). So they are the ones being punished, while doctors and lawyers are being unduly overcompensated.

    As for the goal of replacing deadening, labor-intensive jobs with technology, I agree completely. Unfortunately, a good deal of “technological unemployment” would be the result unless some sensible government-enforced policies against this were enacted (another reason to dislike rabid libertarianism, btw!).

  450. says

    The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging.

    Well, most Americans are OK with taxing the rich

    http://blog.reidreport.com/2011/04/tax-the-rich-polls-show-a-majority-want-to-tax-millionaires-leave-medicare-medicaid-alone/

    and last year only 1/3rd favored the Bush tax cuts extension on the wealthy

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/17/cnn-poll-only-one-third-favor-tax-cut-extension-for-wealthy/

    And yet, Obama and the Democrats will not do what they need to do:

    NOTHING.

    Do nothing, and we revert to the 90s.

    The main reason is the superiority of the Republican fear-mongering messages. They have managed to convince people that the government will be taking their money. No wonder 18% of those polled around 2005 figured they were in the top 1% of the richest.

    There is no other way to explain how returning the top two tax brackets to just 2-3 percentage points higher, rates that prevailed in the 90s is, well, socialism.

    The Democrats are to be blamed for this. The Republicans are doing what they can, take hostages knowing that Obama will cave in. They do and he does.

    When they evolve into vertebrates, perhaps they’ll be forced to do the right thing.