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March 07, 2019


Tony, he hasn't answered you, after not answering me on the same point. Combined with his suggestion of "loans" (with no indication of how they might, even theoretically, be paid back), I'm beginning to suspect that the actual answer is: magic!


I just noticed that tariffs did not appear on CharlesWT's list of (non)proposals. Maybe because Charles (unlike He, Trump) recognizes that tariffs are taxes; maybe Charles meant to subsume them under one of the other items on the list. But that's by the bye.

Charles does write: My non-starter proposal is that the size and scope of government be greatly reduced so that any required taxation would be low by current standards.

That begs the question, of course: what parts of The Government would Charles propose to reduce?

I get the impression that the reductions would have to be really, really big if the goal is to cut the federal budget down to where it could be funded by "voluntary contributions" and such.


You'd have to get rid of the military and the entitlements.

Once that was done, easy peasy.

This is really interesting.

My thinking is that the demand for human labor to produce what people want and need has been declining and will continue to do so (at least until we decide to bomb ourselves back into the stone age).

So what the hell kind of jobs are there going to be for the majority of people? How does market-based capitalism not eventually collapse in on itself? What happens if people can pursue their own interests without having to worry about obtaining food and shelter?

I mean, just imagine if, instead of sitting in an office commenting on Obsidian Wings, I could sit in my living room commenting on Obsidian Wings!

We could move in with you.

Music would be too loud.

Am I alone in seeing the guaranteed basic income, instead of various welfare programs, as enormously similar to the block grants that Congressional Republicans seem so enamoured with? Yeah, they go the individuals, rather than to states. But that would seem to be a feature, but a bug: it would mean less government at the state level as well!

I do see one unintended consequence which should be addressed. For a lot of people, their job is what gives structure to their life. Witness those who, when they retire, end up just sitting around waiting to die.** Yes, most of us have plenty of ideas for things we will want to do, once we have more time. But that's not universal. And it seems like something which should be addressed by anyone seriously proposing a guaranteed income.

** It occurs to me that this might be a factor in why women live longer than men. The work around the home that women traditionally do doesn't go away; essentially, they don't retire. Hmmm....

Came across this this morning (hey, it's still morning where I am!):

It occurs to me that bills to require Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to publish their tax returns would be far easier to uphold if states doing so applied the same requirement to candidates for state office. I can't tell from the article if any of them propose to do so. Does anyone know if that is already a requirement somewhere?

wj: there's no way that that 'release your tax returns' requirement would survive a court challenge.

Particularly not with Lawless, StripSearch, Token, Kav and Squi in the majority.

For a lot of people, their job is what gives structure to their life. Witness those who, when they retire, end up just sitting around waiting to die.

But you're assuming people who have jobs will quit them. And even then, if you decide not to work when you're relatively young and not set in your ways, that problem won't necessarily manifest itself to the same degree as it would for someone who works almost their entire adult life before retirement. So neither age nor habit will be as large of a factor.

Particularly not with Lawless, StripSearch, Token, Kav and Squi in the majority.

When I remember the excruciating depression I went through after the Kavanaugh hearings, and my ongoing horror about the long-lasting changes that are being made to the American bench, I cannot explain why this cast list (and particularly Squi) makes me laugh.

But you're assuming people who have jobs will quit them.

I think some of them, especially those who don't particularly like their specific job, will quit once it's no longer necessary in order to keep food on the table. If they realized the downside, they might not -- but how many people, before retiring, realize that they will find nothing much to do once they aren't going to work every day?

I guess I thought it was obvious that I was implying that you were assuming lots of people would quit their jobs - enough that "death-by-idleness" would be a considerable issue.

I can imagine people quitting jobs they don't like and taking a jobs they do like but that wouldn't pay enough absent a universal income.

So you'd have people who weren't working in the first place.

You'd have people who would keep working the same job.

You'd have people who would quit one job for a more enjoyable but lower-paying job.

And you'd have people who would just stop working.

Only a fraction of that last category would have the death-by-idleness problem, and they would likely be a smaller proportion of younger quitters than the proportion of traditional retirees with the same problem. The very reason for quitting for many would be to pursue other non-vocational interests.

With a Universal Basic Income, people could price themselves into jobs they actually want to do.

I guess I thought it was obvious that I was implying that you were assuming lots of people would quit their jobs - enough that "death-by-idleness" would be a considerable issue.

I don't know that it would amount to "lots" of people. I do think that it is something that shouldn't be just ignored when planning for something like this. If it turns out that the number is small enough to ignore, well hallelujah. But I'm guessing that it may not.

I would also note that we have a bit an existing problem (at least in some places) with young people who, for whatever reason, cannot find work. And who get into trouble as a result of finding themselves sitting around all day with energy and nowhere constructive to expend it. Again, it may turn out to be small enough to ignore. But it seems worth at least thinking about it before we make it worse.

Finally, there are some jobs (agricultural ones leap to mind) which are sufficiently undesirable that they are hard to fill already. And would be harder to fill absent economic necessity. Now we already know that we could get immigrant (legal or otherwise) labor to take them on. But at that point, we need to address what the eligibility criteria are for someone to arrive and receive the guaranteed income. Because clearly we are not in a position to guarantee it for the whole planet.

Just to be clear, I think the basic idea has a lot of merit. But I think we need to think it thru, especially the unintended consequences, before we leap in.

But I think we need to think it thru, especially the unintended consequences, before we leap in.

We are thinking it through (to the extent that blog comments matter). I just don't think death-by-idleness is as likely to be as significant a problem as you do. (Not that I have the power to ignore the potential problem on behalf of the United States of America, nor would I if I did).

I think the majority of people who would quit working entirely would be the ones not making much money, anyway, and who could use more time taking care of themselves and their families. That, or people who would rather play the guitar or write poetry or paint happy little clouds.

Perhaps a portion of each person's UBC could be used by some to start a business and hire others for decent salaries and benefits.

There would be no law against working, I presume.

Entrepreneurship, if you'll pardon my French.

Much like Obamacare freed up a few hardy souls to take a little more risk and venture out on their own in business, since their medical insurance wasn't now a fucking life and death measure.

If idleness is such a problem, what's with every single financial site one visits running daily "sponsered ads" hyping articles like "How Macy and Ed retired at 35 and live a life of unfettered Freedom."

I guess if we met the real Marcy and Ed they would be catatonic with idleness except when they argue with each other over whether to take the Jaguar or the BMW out to Montauk for Sunday brunch.

I suppose a few ornery conservatives on the UBC themselves will fall prey to idleness against their long-held principles that a little work never hurt anyone and you'll take what you get and like it and, out of sheer habit, roll down their windows at intersections and tell perfectly innocent pedestrains who appear to be idle to "Get a job, ya layabout!"

I certainly understand some in certain fulfilling professions growing morose over the loss of their lifelong callings, but why couldn't they continue if not for ageism and "let's ease Bob out, because he's getting to be a bit of a weight on the bottom line, what with his chronic piles and all."

Myself, I find idleness to be a great boon.

I was reading about elderly Jains in South Asia who strap their belongings to their backs and go on permanent pilgrimage, walking the mountain trails day after day, removing themselves as burdens on their families.

They stop and have tea and perhaps read along the way.

Sounds like more fun than reporting to some officious MBA about the status of this week's inventory of crap that no one cares a whit about.

Americans are afraid of too MANY people coming into possession of fuck-off money, for fear they will be told to fuck off.

I think the majority of people who would quit working entirely would be the ones not making much money, anyway, and who could use more time taking care of themselves and their families. That, or people who would rather play the guitar or write poetry or paint happy little clouds.

A majority? I think so, too. But consider how many people, when retired or out of work, spend their days just sitting in front of the TV. (Commenting on blog posts at least engages the mind.) I'd say even a minority of, say, the size of the homeless population** would be big enough to worry about.

** Not saying the two groups have any relationship. Just an example of a relatively small part of the population which is nonetheless big enough to be a worry. At least for some.

An example of idleness being the Devil's workshop for a person with a guaranteed stolen income.

We WILL thank the future President who decrees no state funeral for this lout when he croaks, maybe an overpriced cortege of a buckboard led by a mule with three billy goats in attendance and a grave site in a flood plain.

No 21-gun salute, but rather a nationwide Bronx cheer with one cheek lifted off the pew.

Hail and Sleet on the Chief.

America is a disgrace.

Ed is SO idle that he has a wife named Macy AND a girlfriend named Marcy, which has got to be a sticky wicket when calling out in the dead of night.

I think there is something to be said for readying an expansion of Americorps (for example) as part of the planning for guaranteed income.

Particularly not with Lawless, StripSearch, Token, Kav and Squi in the majority.

Hope you're teaching law school in your spare time, Snarki.

a UBI of $15K would require $4,800,000,000,000 in taxpayer money.

that's about $1,400,000,000,000 more than the IRS took in last year.

Hey, look, a functioning government of the people does its job, unlike the fucking gutless filth we put up with:

That said, until the Republican Party is gone from the Earth, I favor a heavily armed citizenry.

a UBI of $15K would require $4,800,000,000,000 in taxpayer money

Not quite that much. You'd pay a lower rate to (the guardians of) dependent children, $5k say. And you'd save about $500bn on non-medicaid benefits. And you'd make the UBI tax-free, but all income above it taxable, so that in effect it would attract a marginal tax rate of, say, 22% on average. Overall your cost would be about $2.8tn. Which is still not cheap.


So that what, two stupid foreign wars and a massive tax-break/giveaway to the űberrich?

File it under "why we can't have nice things"

A piece of Watergate history, updated.
It is not a pleasant story:
The only bright spot for Martha was that Nixon didn’t get away with it. In 1974, amid impeachment proceedings, the president gave a televised address announcing his resignation. In 1975, John Mitchell was convicted on five counts for the cover-up and served 19 months in federal prison. Martha said later, “Four years ago we had everything, and now we have nothing.” By 1976, she was dead at the age of 57, from a rare bone cancer...

...Things went better for Stephen King, the agent who detained and kicked Mitchell. He went on to have an illustrious career in chemical manufacturing. In 2017, President Donald Trump appointed him ambassador to the Czech Republic...

If my calculations are correct, using fingers and toes, the $4,800,000,000,000 figure divided by the roughly 210,000,000 working adults in the country is something under $23,000 cost per person.

In the interest of the environment and to reduce costs, I used the other side of the envelope Arthur Laffer used to calculate the Giggle Curve, which posited that the curvaceousness of Marilyn Monroe's pelvis, if exercised equally by each of her hips while she was on an oceangoing cruise, could cause tidal waves in distant parts of the globe, some alteration in the Earth's magnetic field, not to mention sinking the ship and its lifeboats, so there you go.

Graduating the tax burden according to income to whatever level would not relegate Warren Buffet to a life of idleness, ennui, and perhaps crime, of course, would do whatever it does, but I would need to grow more fingers and toes to tell you what.

Whatever happens, the IRS' budget and staff must be increased to collect the taxes the laws say should be collected, but we live in a lawless country by choice now.

It was a paper napkin, not an envelope, for the pedants out there.

Would that Laffer had been dining in a Chinese restaurant and only read-only cloth napkins would have been available for writing down bullshit.

"the agent who detained and kicked Mitchell"

He kicked him too?

See approximately the 1 minute, 24 second mark.

OK, a new theory regarding what p is up to.

He is faking mental illness, thus laying the ground for being removed from office once the 25th Amendment invokes his incapacity to serve as ..... ahhahahahahhahehhanhehehe ..... President of the United States as brought to us by Chuck Jones, Chuck Barris Enterprises, and the Worldwide Wrestling Federation.

This will enable him, like any mid-level mob boss or corporate liar worth his thinly-sliced garlic and represented by a battalion of bombastic bushkins whose only prior legal experience was sitting in hospital emergency waiting rooms squirting fake blood from up their sleeves on alleged comatose patients with bad comb overs and confined to gurneys, to show up for his many dozens of trials once he is out of office in a wheelchair with a blanket over his knees, a sippy cup in one hand while the other moves up and down over his mouth blubbering his lips to sound like a whackjob, trailed by an IV feed, and to plead "urghungaflapazoid, you loser."

"Your Honor, our client, as you can see for yourself, is too incapacitated to stand trial and, may we point out, to be executed by firing squad. May we suggest confinement to the penthouse of Mar-a-Lago with full Twitter access and daily tongue bathings by David Nunes, Sean Hannity, and KellyAnne Conthemallalltheway."

Lawyers, pay attention. There is money in them thar pustules:

Smart guy, Bevin. Exposing his children to chickenpox and this possibly exposing other children not his, who were possibly kicked off Kentucky's statewide ACA and Medicaid at his pleasure, and thus possibly denied medical care (they are forced exchange a chicken for a diagnosis and treatment of chickenpox and shingles) by the same fuck whose children exposed them to the pox seems a risky bit of full of shitness for a guy with such deep pockets for tort lawyers to plunder in the cause of justice.

Not to mention, there are rumors that Bevin's offspring also somehow, theories abound, passed along syphilis to these other children, not to mention character flaws and AynRand disease, which causes one's nose to point straight up in air while stepping on homeless people's throats in stiletto heels.

His water quality policies have caused cholera outbreaks in Lexington.

Dem chickens are no free lunch neither:

When I purchased my Boeing 800 Max, the showroom sales liar pointed out to me when I asked why the floor model had only one wing, that the second wing was available as an option for another one million dollars, with additional charges of course, amortized over the life of the lease, for the accompanying jet engine affixed to the second wing to prevent the plane from listing to one side and possible flying in circles.

When I accused him of upselling me, a practice now unavoidable across every product line in thieving Wharton-trained pigfucker America, he added, with a broad, ingratiating smile which displayed his Burt Lancaster chiclets that gleamed a blinding wattage much like the fake moons Chinese cities are about to loft over their metropolitan areas, that additional options available for sizable charges include a fuel gauge, fire retardant seat fabrics, landing gear, oxygen feeds, and on-board toilets.

Flushable versions of toilets were yet another incremental charge.

No drink caddies were available for nervous nellies, even those with bottomless bank accounts.

Stock equipment provided gratis includes a monitor over each passenger seat which records a charge to each customer's credit card for each scream, prayer, and curseword emitted by said customer as the nose of the plane is mysteriously forced down, while the pilot and crew leaf thru the fatal error message section of the 7000-page driver's manual ("It says 'adjust the rudder' right here; does this model come with a rudder, I wonder?") also available for an extra hundred-thousand dollar Franklins in the 12-volume leather bound set from Chico Marx Enterprises, which will double as flotation devices in the unlikely event of a water landing.

That should do me, and you, for the day.

additional options available for sizable charges include a fuel gauge, fire retardant seat fabrics, landing gear, oxygen feeds, and on-board toilets.

"If the oxygen masks deploy, make sure to put on your own mask first. Then look from side to side for Trumpers to punch and take away their masks. The lack of oxygen can't make their brain damage any worse, amirite?"

One more thing:

We're fucking insane, as a class of shitheads occupying the contiguous U.S. of A.

Instead of crash test dummies for observing the effects on humans of automobiles hitting bridge abutments at 80 mph, let's use real human specimens.

Load up a Boeing 800 Max with unwitting live humans, point the nose down, and let's reconstruct what happens.

Tell you what, instead of lining up teachers on their knees and shooting pellets at their backs as a "safety" lesson, let's tie any one of the NRA assholes starring in those YouTube videos to a chair in a classroom and shoot them point blank in the head with live ammo.

Record it and show it to all of the conservative vermin in this country as a word to the wise regarding their personal safety.

And would hurt the airlines to give me a little more legroom so that I can straighten my legs and brace myself for impact.

How many dicks to Americans need to suck in this country for a little fucking humanity free of the fine science of incentives and disincentives.

Tweet from John Hart, NZ farmer:

“Until today I was one of the New Zealanders who owned a semi-automatic rifle. On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse.

We don’t need these in our country.

We have make sure it’s #NeverAgain”

You gotta love this!

The Wall has places where it's actually inside US territory (as opposed to right on the border). Which means people can cross the border, and be on US soil. At which point they are legally entitled to apply for asylum; as opposed to being rejected at the border. Just another bit of Trump administration brilliant execution.

I was in Phoenix last week to take in some MLB spring training and took a day to drive thru the Sonoran Desert town to the border town of Nogales, Arizona after reading about the military festooning the border wall that cuts thru the center of town with concertina razor wire.

I think I've witnessed the endgame for Manifest Destiny, that made-up thing.

It reminded me of the photos of the Gulag or the camps during World War II. Beautiful, sparkling in the sun, just like p promised. Only the best.

Oddly, Nogales, Mexico looked better that the U.S half of town from where I stood.

The city fathers on this side, as the tourist info lady explained to me, are dead set against the razor wire and have protested with Homeland Security.

Not a good look for the land of the squi and the home of the knave, unless we're living in a Cormac McCarthy novel.

In the 1950s, apparently, a previous time the wrong sort acted out, the U.S. repurposed razor wire from the Japanese internment camps constructed during World War II along the Southern border, which goes to show that fascists can be budget conscious.

I imagined the staff of the p Administration trying to get hung up in the wire in their cheap suits as they try to get over the wall into Mexico once we create Jurassic Park on this side and chase them thru the Sonoran Desert with heavy artillery supported by vast squads of armed drones during the coming troubles.

Will vultures stoop so low to dine on Steve King and his wife Jeanine Pirro?

All the more reason to gut Obamacare.

We can't have these people living a little higher on the hog.

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