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June 13, 2006


"All I did in the estate tax post was point out that we have a general rule that there should be a tax whenever money is transferred from one party to another, and the rule would work better if it were applied consistenly to all such transactions."

Yes, but that you don't question the 'general rule' that money should be taxed every time it moves, makes you a liberal.
Besides, having a threshold before the estate is taxed at the exorbitant rate, is also not consistent. Why are you inconsistent in your demand for consistency?

"And higher rates lead to economically inefficient tax avoidance behavior."

So are you in favor of government lowering its spending so that it requires less "revenue"?

I am not a liberal because liberals are ruled by guilt. This is why liberals seldom care much about the middle class. Liberals only want to help the poor. Liberals think that the middle class in the United States has it so much better than the rest of the world so that by helping the middle class they are increasing the inequality of the world. Liberals truly do hate America because they feel guilty about American being such a great country and they want to alleviate their guilt by ruining America.

Um, wow. That's pretty ignorant. Liberals care about people. It's true that the poor need more help than the middle class (by definition) but we certainly don't hate the middle class, nor even the upper class. We don't feel guilty about America being a great country, yet we'd like to use that greatness to help other people as well. For example, illegal immigrants and the victims in the Sudan.

Calling "caring" "guilt" is a pretty cynical way of dismissing the opposition.

I think you're only talking about a certain segment of well-off liberals. The reason members of this segment don't care about the middle class is not guilt, but because they don't want to admit how different their lives are.

Like NPR, rich people like to think of the world as divided into two groups: 1) the privileged, and 2) people picking through garbage cans in New Orleans slums, or starving in fly-choked refugee camps. The latter will never be any competition for them, so they can afford to be magnanimous toward them -- thus enabling themselves to claim moral superiority over anyone complaining about less dire situations. Whereas, kids from, say, NEST might actually join their ranks someday and challenge them.

However, if you call yourself a liberal and aren't rich, you're open to charges of blaming the system for your own failures.

but that you don't question the 'general rule' that money should be taxed every time it moves, makes you a liberal

I believe he intended it as an observation, not a recommendation. As it happens I agree with his analysis - *if* we are going to spend money at our current rates, repealing this tax makes no sense. I am a libertarian but I am not sympathetic to 'starve the beast' style arguments which put tax cuts before spending cuts. And while all taxation has negative effects on human motivation to work and produce, the estate tax is probably less harmful than many others. This of course does not mean that we would have such a tax in a truly just society.

David Brin (who from what I can tell is more or less a Democrat, albeit with libertarian sympathies) had an interesting take on the estate tax as well - he opposed its repeal albeit partly for cultural reasons. But I can't seem to find the link right now.

First of all, I'd like to apologize for being a bit flip.
And you are correct about the 'hate america' bit, although I wouldn't put it in exactly those terms, the poster above says it best: they see America as being too rich.

I guess I don't see you as conservative because your last couple of posts have included:
Against the abolition of the estate tax
Complaints about unpaid internships favoring the upper class
Descriptions of how few people inherit a lot of money
The Da Vinci code is a good thing

On the other hand, you have said that:
A school for gifted middle-class kids should be preserved
Gay marriage is bad but you don't support a constitutional amendment against it

But you are correct: that does not ipso facto make you a liberal either. To be a liberal, you have to sign on for a bunch of other things, many of which I don't even support myself.

You know, I've noticed that a lot of times people's beliefs don't match their political labels; a lot of people who think the upper class has too much power and think the US is too religious for its own good don't want to hang out with crunchy tree-huggers and screechy professors. (Or, for that matter, snooty latte-sipping Northeastern lawyers.) A lot of people calling themselves 'liberal' or 'conservative' has to do with whether they see themselves as a certain sort of person. Perhaps it is the arrogant unconcern for the average man of *rich* liberals you detest?

The only common thread I can see between the things you've said is that you're pro-American middle class, which I certainly have no objection to; in fact, I'm in favor of it! I think people like you are in fact very common, and perhaps need to come up with a word so you can have a movement. 'Centrist' is too vague...

Business calculations are in terms of risk adjusted net present value -- ie: net assets. Until the tax base aligns with business practices, the political economy will be operating in the wrong coordinates.

This makes libertarian sense since property rights (at least property rights other than subsistence assets which would exist in the Lockean sense without government) are a service of government and require a use fee.

It may be a largely obsolete term today, but some of your policies as stated on this blog sound relatively populist.

"For example, illegal immigrants and the victims in the Sudan."
I see your point but bad examples, as the former may hurt our current working class. As for the latter, should America sacrifice lives when innocent (if it came to that)?

Liberals will usually answer affirmatively, that yes, you must fix that which someone else broke, to questions of this sort. I can't comprehend why. And, due to scarcity, this tendency is 'unsustainable.'

Caring, guilt - it manifests itself in the same, self destructive (damaging at least) way.

If only liberals formed their own country, say New York or Massachusetts or California, so that they felt the effects of their self-immolating ethics.

What's it called when you're a tenderhearted liberal towards US citizens, and a Machiavellian atavist towards the rest of the world?

"What's it called when you're a tenderhearted liberal towards US citizens, and a Machiavellian atavist towards the rest of the world?"

Nationalism, pretty common human feeling actually. Comes from the old days when we were lots of little tribes warring against each other, where it was evolutionarily pretty sensible.

Is it still pretty sensible to put your own first? I think it might be, at least since every other country seems to be doing th same.

"It may be a largely obsolete term today, but some of your policies as stated on this blog sound relatively populist."

It's still used by political scientists, no? The antonym is 'elitist'. Hey Sigma, how about 'populist libertarian'? Got kind of a nice ring to it don't you think?

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