What are the Priorities of a Federal Government

OG_slinger wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

In other words, when you say to Minarchist "You don't get to tear up the contract because you, personally, don't like it" why can't he give your words of "a social contract is a social and political construct, not a literal contract" so OG, when you bring in this concept of breach (or I guess unilateral rescission, technically) "you're the only one insisting that contract law is somehow related to the American social contract" right back to you?

Since we're down to parsing the word 'contract', let's do a little substitution and see if that clarifies anything. When I say social contract, think social covenant instead. A collective agreement.

Maybe that way you can see that my telling Minarchist that he doesn't get to tear up the social contract because he doesn't like it was rhetorical turn of phrase, not a reference to a literal social contract nor having anything whatsoever to do with contract law.

My mistake then: I thought you were making an argument to Minarchist, not just engaging in a rhetorical turn of phrase. I didn't realize it was an appeal to his emotions and not his intellect.

No, but I'm basing it's legitimacy on a different part of John Locke and 17th century political philosophy than you are.

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Granting all that for the sake of argument, what does the fact that China will or will not recognize the U.S. Constitution have to do with a Libertarian in America claiming he doesn't have to pay U.S. taxes?

Where in my example about an American dropped in China did I compare it to a libertarian not paying taxes?

It was to show that there are no such things as universal natural rights. The rights a citizen has depends on the unique social covenant they have with their fellow citizens and their government. So while a transplanted American might think he has an inalienable right to freedom of speech, he really only has that right because it has been specifically defined in the American social covenant. That right really only exists while he's in America because we've all agreed that its a right. Take that individual and drop him into another country and his supposedly inalienable right to freedom of speech may vanish. If he was dropped into China, he wouldn't have the freedom of speech because that's not a right recognized in the Chinese social covenant.

Right--and what does any of that have to do with the topic at hand? Are we discussing whether universal natural rights exist, or are we discussing whether the American system of government believes they exist?

Do you realize you're doing the same thing with universal natural rights that Libertarians are doing with taxes? You don't like them, so you're acting as if they're not a part of the American political tradition. If you don't believe in universal natural rights, then like you said to Minarchist why don't you move to a country that doesn't believe in the either, like Somalia? Good for the goose, good for the gander, right?

Right, and you said "it's all based on the consent of the governed" not consent of the majority of the governed. Big difference.

Explain how it's such a big difference.

If everyone has consented, then it's completely consensual. If only a majority have consented, then it's non-consensual for a minority. Now, maybe you want to argue that non-consensual acts against part of a group are *legitimate* when you have majority consent of some group, but you see the difference there right? I mean, there's a reason we call military conscription a draft to distinguish it from a call for volunteers.

In the case of finalizing the American social covenant with the ratification of the Constitution the framers established what consent meant: 3/4th of the States had to ratify it for it to go into effect. The ground rule everyone agreed to from the beginning was that if nine States said "yes" the Constitution would apply to all 13. From the beginning of our government consent of the governed has meant consent of the majority.

No, that's a super majority and shows that even for those that consider majority rule legitimate, there are some things that require more than just a simple majority to be seen as legitimate acts. And that's not establishing what consent means, that's establishing a legitimate foundation of power even over those who do not consent. I mean, Rhode Island didn't even send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, right?

Magic had nothing to do with it--they're claiming exemption because you're talking about one generation binding another. I mean, even the descendants of traitors can't have that held against them in the American system--our Constitution prohibits Corruption of the Blood. Your whole theory of a social contract that binds a person's descendants is completely repugnant to that Constitution.

So you go around speeding and not wearing a seat belt because you personally didn't vote on those laws and, because of that, feel they don't apply to you?

The Constitution--and all the laws created from it--actually requires one generation to bind another. That's pretty much how societies and the rule of law works. Each generation builds off what the previous one did.

On a very different basis than the one you were talking about when you were calling it a contract.

Well okay, but now you're moving the goalposts: you started off talking about "That means as soon as you're born, you automatically fall under the terms of the existing contract." Now you're talking about something else.

It's really all the same, Cheeze.

I disagree. There's a major difference between me volunteering for an army and me being drafted into it because of where I choose to live. I'm not saying all forced conscription is wrong, but I am saying I don't agree with your arguments for it.

In other words, I probably agree with your end results--e.g., constitutional representative democracy has the legitimate power to raise taxes for things like schools and roads and TARP--I just don't consider the way you justify those end results to be legitimate/logical.

I did not put words in your mouth, nor did I say you made that argument--please read what I write more carefully. My point is that the logic you are using in this context, if we applied it in the context of Incorporation, that would mean the Bill of Rights would not apply against the states.

You are free to agree that there's no separation of Church and State at the sub-Federal level, but somehow I get the impression you do not want to, so you may want to abandon this line of reasoning.

Please read what you write more carefully because you certainly did try to put words in my mouth and then argue against them.

See though, this kind of debate is just "I know you are but what am I?" I gave you an explanation of how you misread my words--"My point is...". If you believe I put words in your mouth, explain how I did so. Plead your case, don't just plead your plea over and over again.

But since you keep trying to tell me what I think about incorporation, let me set you straight. The Bill of Rights applies to the State because the Supreme Court has ruled it so. It's really that simple.

Right, but you originally said: "If you want our social contract modified to include the Contract of Adhesion and Unconscionability then you'd best get busy electing politicians who want to amend the Constitution to include a citizenship opt out clause."

In other words, my point was that no, you don't need an opt out clause anymore than you need an incorporation clause. You were setting the bar higher for 'modifying our social contract' in one case than in another.

Exactly--you can't see the difference between a libertarian and a liberal who looks back to Locke's ideas on natural law, because you're speaking as if the U.S. only drew on Locke's ideas on the social contract. You're making an argument based on history while retconning out the facts you don't like.

I'm not retconning anything. Much smarter people than you or I have written entire tomes about philosophical, political, social, economic, and religious influences on the Founding Fathers. There's Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, the Enlightenment as a whole, the failures and limitations of the Articles of Confederation, concerns about events of the time like Shay's Rebellion, and much, much more.

I notice you did not say any of those much smarter people *disagree* with me about theories of Natural Law being more influential than you are acknowledging, though ;- D

Chairman_Mao wrote:

I also don't have a clear understanding about why deficit spending is necessary, at least to the degree we are currently engaged in it. Did Reagan's deficit spending lead to some sort of sustainable economic growth? Did Clinton's? Investment in infrastructure, education and all that are important to me, and I put them in my top 5 things the government should fund. I just don't see any evidence that deficit spending has had lasting positive effects on our economy, though I'm fully willing to admit my ignorance on the topic and would like to hear from those who know more about it.

An interesting piece of data I found here:

the 1970s had been a period of stagflation: slow growth along with high unemployment, high interest rates, and high inflation. The economic stimulus provided by President Reagan's tax cut in August, 1981—which scaled back marginal tax rates by 25 percent over three years—clearly set the economy on a growth trajectory.

But it also set the national debt on a growth trajectory. The debt rose from $930 million in 1980 to $2.6 trillion in 1988. Some observers point out that this doesn't matter because after the tax cut, government tax receipts doubled from about $500 billion to $1 trillion from 1980 to 1990, due to the higher income in a growing economy. But whatever the increase in tax receipts, it clearly did not come near to covering the increase in government spending—for which each party blames the other."

The last line is telling, but clearly the relationship between deficits, taxes and economic growth is not a simple one. Seems paradoxical, even.

I am now also curious why deficit spending rose so much under Reagan, but that's for another thread.

Stagflation happened not because of internal domestic fiscal policies but because the USA lost control of oil price. OPEC took over and raised the price which led to stagflation. After OPEC lowered the price inflation was not a problem any longer and monetary policy was able to deal with it.

Internal deficits of currency you control does not matter. What matters is the consequence of those deficits. Reagan deficits did help Americans get jobs. While the majority of them were supply side deficits there was some demand side spending also.

What supply side taxes do is increase productivity faster than wage growth. Since wages have not kept pace in America because of these policies, debt replaced some of the income that Americans were using for consumption. This private debt led to asset price increases which led to the housing bubble which led to the financial meltdown.

This leads us to where we are now. Too much supply and not enough income based demand. One way to fix this problem is run deficits long and high enough to get the household sector whole again. This was part of the stimulus but for those that did the math it was only half of much as needed. So we are now in a malaise of relatively high deficits and high unemployment. Running these higher than normal deficits long enough will help in bringing the unemployment rate down.

I am sticking with this explanation until someone proves it wrong.

I don't even think government debt to income matters ever. What matters is if America can pay the interest payments. Did you know that we pay less in interest payments now than they did 10 years ago during Clinton's presidency? Interest rates matter.

CheezePavilion wrote:
Shoal07 wrote:

No, it is exactly. You're essentially agreeing with me, and expanding in a way I considering mentioning but decided not to, for the sake of brevity.

Well hey, if we essentially agree I'm not going to argue with you over semantics or something. I just thought brevity might be misleading here.

None of which are specifically denied by the existing tax structure, social contract, or US (Federal) Code of Law. You may feel something in existence infringes on these unalienable rights, but nothing outright denies them, nor does anything actually grant you these rights in the first place (outside of the idea of these "truths"). The ideas of the Declaration have been followed and upheld in most US laws, it's how we framed everything, so it's pretty hard to say they're being denied.

Oh, no, I'm not making that argument. OG stated "our social contract, which is essentially the ideas embodied in the Declaration of Independence and rights embodied in the Constitution and Bill of Rights" and I was arguing about how to understand the 'terms' of that 'contract.' I mistook his rhetorical turn of phrase for a reference to a literal social contract (or at least one literal enough that his mentioning of it wasn't just an appeal to emotion).

The point I was trying to make is one of the foundational arguments being tossed around is this idea of unalienable rights (universal truths, whatever you want to call them). The fact is, no document of law (e.g. the Constitution) grants any unalienable rights. In fact, they are only mentioned in a document which predates the Constitution and is not a part of US law. Therefore, if an argument is being made on the premise of a right being unalienable, it's a false argument, and preceding arguments based on those are just as false. Essentially, it's being claimed that certain rights are being violated which never existed in the first place (or in the case of the three ideals/rights in the Declaration of Independence, are not possible to violate, since they are ideals, and not tangible things/actions that can be repressed).

I'm not saying you and/or libertarians don't have a beef, but your beef needs to be structured on solid ground, not imagined violations of rights that don't exist.

Robear wrote:

Upon what principle do you claim you should be reimbursed for things you consumed? Do you expect that if you stop your credit card or cable account that they will reimburse you?

I was saying it's the other way around. You have been given nothing of use, had many things taken from you, and don't get reimbursed. I read it again and it seems pretty clear...maybe just to me.

Jefferson argued strongly for a system of schools supported by the rich for the benefit of all - surely a "redistribution of wealth" under the silly definition currently en vogue (as compared to *actual* redistribution of wealth conducted at gunpoint by Communists, for example). Clearly the Constitution allows for the Federal government to "provide for the common welfare". As for the scope, you seem inclined to Madison's point of view, that the laying of taxes is essentially only for the self-support of government. However, it's Hamilton's pov that actually has taken hold from the start - that taxes can be laid for any purpose that encompasses "the general welfare of the union".

God help us that Hamilton's ideas took hold. The same Hamilton that championed "The American System" — a system of corporate welfare, protectionist tariffs, central banking, and a huge public debt (which he called "a public blessing"). Jefferson, meanwhile waited until after his presidency to organize a publicly-funded school system in Virginia, not at the Federal level, which is what we're discussing here (see thread title). States can do whatever they want. He also wouldn't recognize the public schooling system today, as he thought parents should still maintain control (the exact opposite of what is presently occurring).

That's a real stretch, that they were unwilling to rely on the state for social programs because they didn't want to let the Church gain power. Again, the consistent legal and legislative reading is that social welfare is one of the proper uses for tax funds. That's not an opinion, it's the actual way things are.

Wait, I thought judicial rulings were called "opinions". And quoting justice Roberts, Mr. "Switch in Time that Saved Nine", is probably not the paragon of judicial virtue that we should be upholding. Look, it's not like the SCOTUS ever made a wrong decision; Dred Scott, Plessy Ferguson, Kelo, there are plenty on the books. Many of them nearly (but not quite) as damaging as this one.

I know that the Supreme Court ruled this direction, but I still think the only logical viewpoint is that the ruling is incorrect. Why even have any other article of the Constitution if "provide for the general welfare" is to be such a catch-all? The whole document beyond that is pointless. Madison, in Federalist #41: "For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars." Or in a letter to Edmund Pendleton, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.”

So what is it that you think makes the broad interpretation correct? How does is jibe with the rest of the document, if it is to be such an all-encompassing line? Or with specifically numerated powers as described below it?

I covered some of that above, so I guess I'll just ask: what benefits? An abysmal school system? A Child Protective Services agency that far too often removes kids from happy homes to give them back to their addict mothers? An adoption system that makes it so unattainably expensive for parents who desperately want to help American children that may people go overseas, or try artificial fertility treatments because it's actually cheaper?

Again, if it's that bad, leave. You won't be taxed after renouncing citizenship, so that's not an issue. But if you stay, work for change. Help elect people who will *fix* the system, rather than simply tear it down with the belief that people with a bit more money in their pockets will fix everything on their own.

Again, you missed my point. I'm talking about what the system does to people under 18, the costs (or harms, in a technical economic sense) that it extracts from them. These people don't have the choice to leave. The quote block of yours directly above my paragraph was specifically referring to the role of children in the system. Or are you suggesting that a ten-year-old pack up and move to Hong Kong?

What happened then was good and forms the baseline of expectations held by everyone in the country today. (And the farm subsidies then actually benefited farmers and the nation by working to smooth out market fluctuations, as opposed to Nixon's that do the opposite.) Welfare is about 95% or more gone. Medicare is one of the most popular benefits out there, and is operated by *private companies*. FDA product regulation, the EPA, all sorts of beneficial services spring from this movement. I myself remember what things were like before the Clean Air Act - would you suggest repealing that in the interests of ideological purity? I hope not, as I have allergic asthma and it sucked back then. (Spectacular sunsets notwithstanding.)

Farm subsidies: benefited the farmers? Maybe. Smoothing out market fluctuations is something better done by free-market speculators. As it stands now, it's just a way for the larger companies to crowd out the little guys thanks to crony corporatism. And benefited the nation? No way. Benefited in higher taxes and higher food prices, maybe.

Welfare almost gone? You must be kidding. Unemployment/welfare are still almost 12% of our budget, nearly as much as defense (probably much higher in recent years, though we haven't seen numbers yet). And you may as well lump social security in there, at another 21.5%, since you aren't actually paying in to a system that saves your money then gives it back. It is, at its essence, taking money from one person and giving it to another.

Saying medicare is operated by private companies is the same as saying the puppet pulls his own strings. No marionette?

I would argue with you that the FDA, EPA and others are ultimately beneficial, although that's probably another argument for another day. Do they create beneficial things? Sure. Do their benefits outweigh their harms? That's more open for debate. Organizations like UL, Greenpeace (who recently got Apple to do a huge environmentally-friendly product re-evaluation), and others create far more good at far less cost to America. Public shame is a much greater catalyst than any law, which can always be subverted by a few million dollars to various campaign funds.

Ask your grandparents whether they think Medicare is a waste. Maybe they do, but they are outliers. When LBJ signed it into law, 40% of people over 65 had no medical insurance. Now, they all can. This is a step backwards?

My grandparents are all dead!

No seriously, they are, but I don't hold that against you.

I'm curious why you think it was libertarian, as opposed to republican. Can you cite specific differences? Certainly it was different, but how was it more supportive of libertarian principles? I'll leave you to make the argument despite an urge to dive in. :-)

Well, for that time period, it would have to be Federalist or Anti-Federalist, but that's an interesting question. Would you want me to answer it from the viewpoint of the difference between libertarianism and ideal republicanism (whatever that means)? Or the difference between libertarianism and the practiced republicanism of today? They aren't the same thing by any stretch of the imagination.

So there's still the crucial question - are you willing to work within the Constitution and accept the current system while changing policies? Or are you still standing on extra-Constitutional principles, in essence requiring major overhauls to the Constitution, or it's dissolution?

I'm still here, aren't I? Trying to bring the current system back to within Constitutional boundaries. When have I ever argued for dissolving it?

Shoal07 wrote:

Essentially, it's being claimed that certain rights are being violated which never existed in the first place

Even granting everything else you say, that's not what I'm claiming. You've jumped into the middle of an argument where OG is telling Minarchist that, among other things, the Declaration of Independence created a social contract between the people of America which binds future generations which Minarchist can't avoid the terms of. I'm saying that OG is ignoring the parts of contract law that *would* allow Minarchist to get out from under the terms of that 'social contract'.

In other words, the foundational arguments being tossed around is not just this idea of unalienable rights, but this idea of a social contract that requires specific performance, and that *certainly* isn't to be found in any document of law and is mentioned in 17 century political writings, let alone a document which predates the Constitution and certainly not in anything that is a part of US law.

In short, once you understand the context in which we are making these statements, your argument would probably be to Minarchist, OG, and myself about discussing this topic of a social contract something more like: