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March 07, 2019

Comments

Hey, if you really want that 1800's lifestyle, just join the Amish or Mennonites, ditch the internet and electricity in your home, put the phone on a pole out in the yard, and learn to take care of the horse that pulls your buggy.

It's not for wimps.

"The rest of human history" covers a lot of ground, and a lot of places. Blanket statements like "things are better now then they ever have been" depend, quite a lot, on the particular circumstances you're talking about.

The human condition has always been a mixed bag, and wealthy people (especially in well functioning societies) have always been materially better off than the poor. Well people are physically better off than sick ones. Etc. Some people are happier than others because of their mental health, or psychological makeup. No general statement about the well-being of humanity is true of every person.

And my optimism about the trajectory of human history from, say 1920 to now, is based on data. I'm not going to look it up for anyone, because it's easy to prove. That said, our success is fragile if we don't foster the conditions that created it.

How do I apply that information?

Number One: Tell any anti-vaccers you know to go stuff it. Number Two: Study how international institutions have helped to prevent world wars and do it more and better. Number Three: Understand that scientists who are predicting climate catastrophe are onto something, and support eliminating the dependence on fossil fuels. (Green new deal?) Number Four: Support human rights, civil rights, religious tolerance, equal access to justice.. Number Five: Support democratic institutions. Number Five: Work against monarchy, autocracy, other power monopolies and corruption.

I'm sure there's more, and that people's can order their own priorities. Oh, and about TV and other technology - make it available as a tool of education instead of misinformation.

The world always changes, and so do its challenges. Nobody said it was easy, but if anyone is in a position not to give up hope, it's middle class (or wealthier) comfortable Westerners. And sure, even we have our individual peculiar life challenges and setbacks, some of them fatal.

Number Five: Support democratic institutions. Number Five: Work against monarchy, autocracy, other power monopolies and corruption.

Number n: Learn to count.

Number One: Tell any anti-vaccers you know to go stuff it.

As somebody (can't remember who) recently commented quite wittily on twitter, anti-vaxxers suffering from measles etc are victims of Big Karma. (Too bad the children of anti-vaxxers get caught up in it too).

Other than the "do it more and better" part, I don't see what believing that humanity is now better off than ever has to do with all of the stuff you mentioned, sapient. I agree with all of it, mind you. I just don't see how it follows.

If anything, I tend to think that people who point out how much better things are now are trying to blunt criticism and thwart any evil government interventions on behalf of the less well-off.

(Too bad the children of anti-vaxxers get caught up in it too).

Yes, and I'm sure everyone saw this horrifying story.

If anything, I tend to think that people who point out how much better things are now are trying to blunt criticism and thwart any evil government interventions on behalf of the less well-off.

I guess that people will make what they will of facts. My point is that we have the capacity to make things better, as shown by recent history. We need to apply our knowledge rather than rest on our laurels, because laurel wreaths are fragile.

No general statement about the well-being of humanity is true of every person.

And my optimism about the trajectory of human history from, say 1920 to now, is based on data.

I have no argument with either of these statements.

Humans have been living in settled communities for 10,000 years. A hell of a lot of people - not just individuals, but communities of people, societies, cultures - have lived lives that would be seen as an improvement over the circumstances of folks who currently live on the equivalent of single-digit dollars a day.

Which is billions of people.

As sapient says, I'm not going to go look it up for anybody, you all can do your own reading. It's no biggie to me either way.

I'm just not buying the "things have never been better..." line. It's likely true if you live, for instance, in the US, or the EU, and have some money.

A lot of people are not living that life.

I've noticed in real life that the people who tend to use the statistics showing how much better for most people in the world things are today (using such metrics as violence, disease, poverty, starvation etc) are usually rightwingers or libertarians, defending the status quo and arguing with lefties/liberals who want to improve things. This clearly (to me) does not apply to sapient, who is self-evidently about trying to make things better.

It seems to me you can hold both opinions simultaneously: raw statistics show things have gotten better for most people in most places (I am not a statistician, but the stats are out there), and things are still shit for far too many people and need to be made better. In my view, people who concentrate on the former lack empathy and imagination. But, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, as a liberal I would think that wouldn't I.

Humans have been living in settled communities for 10,000 years. A hell of a lot of people - not just individuals, but communities of people, societies, cultures - have lived lives that would be seen as an improvement over the circumstances of folks who currently live on the equivalent of single-digit dollars a day.

It would be hard to poll the level of happiness of people who lived in ancient, or even recent settled communities. As a woman who values personal autonomy, I am living in the best place at the best time in history. Perhaps if my values were shaped by religious fundamentalism, my happiness level would be different. So, sure, we can't really generalize at all, even for people who live elsewhere in the present, because we're shaped by our own cultural standards.

Life expectancy is increasing all over the world. Including those people living on the equivalent of single-digit dollars a day. So life has improved for them in ways that aren't being measured in increased income.

If anyone has Netflix, I would highly recommend watching the documentary "Period!" It's only an hour long and its subject is a simple technology that's (possibly) improving the lives of a lot of women. Not discussed is the environmental impact of that technology.

We have a lot of work to do in figuring out how to make our technologies more sustainable. But I question the value of denying the positive impact of those technologies on people's lives and choices.

We have a lot of work to do in figuring out how to make our technologies more sustainable. But I question the value of denying the positive impact of those technologies on people's lives and choices.

I fully agree with your first sentence. While I don't deny the positive impact of various technologies on people lives, I don't want to ignore the potential long-term negative impacts (which is why I agree with your first sentence).

Analogy time! Lyle Alzado was an all-pro NFL defensive end in the 70s and 80s. He did lots of steroids. He died in 1992 at the age of 43.

In all likelihood, his high level of performance as a professional football player was due in no small part to his steroid use. The same can be said of his early death.

I doubt I have to explain to this crowd how this analogy applies.

Sorry - actually, the film is called "Period. End of Sentence."

It would be hard to poll the level of happiness of people who lived in ancient, or even recent settled communities.

Or, that matter, in many if not most places today.

My point overall is that statements like "we are presently living in the best period in human history" are facile to the point of being almost meaningless.

Best by what measure?
Best for whom?

If you live in the first world and have a reasonable amount of money, you're probably living a pretty good life.

If you live in other parts of the world and have a relatively large amount of money, ditto.

That excludes something like half the people on the planet.

Obviously things look better if we exclude events like civilizations collapsing and wars, but I'd say that rather begs the question. Exclude civilizations collapsing and wars and the Mongol invasions of Europe start to look kind of rosy.

Human history is quite deep, and includes a fairly wide range of experiences. IMO it's useful to not assume we, or our time, or our civilization and culture, are the best thing that's ever happened.

Over and out.

We're making observations about the physical world and russell is going all metaphysical on us. :)

We're making observations about the physical world and russell is going all metaphysical on us.

I've conceded to russell that people's subjective reality can't be measured. But, russell, although I know you're done with this conversation, when you say "If you live in the first world and have a reasonable amount of money, you're probably living a pretty good life. If you live in other parts of the world and have a relatively large amount of money, ditto," you are referring to your own standard of what "a pretty good life" is.

Data is useless and "facile" for determining any one human being's experience of meaning and happiness. But, as a measure of whether we're making progress fighting global poverty, or decreasing the chances of being killed in a war, the positive numbers provide hope, and maybe some guidance.

Let the good times roll!

Waste management is an age-old societal challenge, made harder by the use of non-biodegradable materials. None of my comments suggest that we should give up on the environment, or environmental justice. Quite the opposite.

One age's waste is another age's archaeological treasure.

One age's waste is another age's archaeological treasure.

32nd c archaeologist: "TMI!" or maybe "Squeak squeak! Chomp chomp!"

Good link, sapient.

Adequate sanitation is probably the single biggest and most practically achievable improvement in worldwide quality of life, in the relatively short term.
India is making some ambitious advances:
https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Cover-Story/World-s-biggest-toilet-building-project-empowers-India-s-women

I'd agree with that Nigel, but sometimes I get all misty eyed and consider that it pales in comparison to having over 20 different brands of catheters.

Now that's real progress.

It seems to me you can hold both opinions simultaneously: raw statistics show things have gotten better for most people in most places (I am not a statistician, but the stats are out there), and things are still shit for far too many people and need to be made better. In my view, people who concentrate on the former lack empathy and imagination. But, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, as a liberal I would think that wouldn't I.

Just for the record, this conservative thinks so, too.

I would just point out that failing to acknowledge the progress that has been made (which I have encountered numerous times from those to my left) is actually counterproductive -- if they are so lost to reality, why pay attention to them on what's needed next?

Thanks, Nigel, for your link as well.

I would just point out that failing to acknowledge the progress that has been made (which I have encountered numerous times from those to my left) is actually counterproductive

A millennial friend of mine, who is a grad student, has spent years (and isn't done) in India, accumulating data to support assessments of which development programs have been helpful or not.

Data is important if we want to figure out how to make people's lives better. Or maybe it's not. Maybe this woman's work in India is bullshit. I think it's valuable. Progress is hard work; it's policy, not sloganeering. And we deserve to understand whether we can make a difference, and how.

In keeping with the theme.


Pollution in Pre-Industrial Europe: Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once described the River Thames as a “a Stygian pool, reeking with ineffable and intolerable horrors.”


The Darker Side Of 19Th Century London: The Great Stink


Rural Life in the past Was a Battle for Survival: People in pre-industrial Europe generally lived a miserable, hand-to-mouth existence which would be foolish to romanticize.


Ten recent low-tech inventions that have changed the world: Technologies don’t have to be cutting edge to make a profound difference in people’s lives.

russell is going all metaphysical on us

LOL. Dude, if you only knew. It only gets worse from here....

you are referring to your own standard of what "a pretty good life" is.

yes, I'm sure that's so. also, I'm trying to frame a somewhat vague idea in terms that are... congruent to the overall thread.

Basically, my reaction to Charles' "we are presently living in the best period in human history" was akin to my reaction to things like "an increase in CO2 is actually a good thing!". It strikes me as panglossian and naive. In some cases, although I doubt in Charles', self-serving.

Human technological progress from the advent of the Industrial Revolution until now has been remarkable. Almost certainly a transformation of human culture comparable in scale and consequence to the neolithic agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, only happening in a much more compressed timeframe.

Very little of that has been free of cost. Not just economic, but social, environmental. In terms of the meaning and purpose of work, and of life. In terms of the degree to which people distant from us are affected by our choices about how we live. In terms of how all of the other creatures we share the planet with are affected.

The changes in human life and culture that have resulted from all of this have not been uniformly beneficial. Not everyone is better off than they were, or might have been. A lot of people actually are not.

And none of that even gets into the question of how we address the fact that everyone *can't* have all of the lovely benefits of industrial and post-industrial culture, because we'd need about 7 planets to make that happen, and we only have one.

Technology will solve some of that, but not all of it. And it will create other problems in the process of fixing whatever it does fix.

The reason I am persistently pessimistic about stuff like this is because it *does not have a technical solution*. It requires a human solution. It requires people deciding to forego some of what they think they're entitled to, so that others can have enough.

And humans don't have a good track record with that.

Now excuse me while I go eat some shrooms and watch "Koyaanisqatsi"....

I appreciate your links, CharlesWT. I wish you were more proactive in advocating for the environment.

This thread has been interesting, and I hope my comments haven't been too heated. If anyone wants to discuss the menstruation issue, I would love that. It's a taboo topic in India. Also here.

I am 62, and the technology for dealing with menstruation improved dramatically during the years that I menstruated. Even so, when I watched the film "Period. End of Sentence" I thought about how many times, in school, in business meetings, in court, I had to worry about bleeding. How one time when sitting in my office, absorbed in my work, I looked down and realized that my chair was soaked in blood. I spent hours cleaning the upholstery and hoping that no one would see.

Women in the film dropped out of school because of this. russell, use the google, and show me the cultures that appreciate[d] women during menstruation. I'm sure there are some! And, sincerely, no snark, I'm sure that women found meaning and happiness in their lives even though their culture (a beautiful culture, no doubt - a culture that they loved) enslaved them. I understand that we all have to think about this, and that there are no simple answers.

One aspect making matters complicated is the growth of world population. Even with a general improving trend concerning quality of life the absolute number of people suffering is growing (even while sinking percentage-wise).
The Spanish flu killed far more people than the Black Death not due to higher lethality but because there were far more people on Earth at the end of WW1 than in the Middle Ages.

even though their culture (a beautiful culture, no doubt - a culture that they loved) enslaved them.

I do not and will not argue that women have not been oppressed, often, and right up until now, by the cultures they have been born into. Full stop.

What I think about the issue of being enslaved by culture, broadly, is that we are all creatures of, and products of, the cultures we are born into. Even when we object to them, or chafe against or resist them, the terms available to us to do that are, to some degree, limited and determined by that culture.

People hundreds of years from now, looking back at us, will likely not see us as being as happy and free as we think we are.

And no, the shrooms have not just kicked in.

I'm really not looking to pick fights about this, I'm making what I think is a simple point. All of the progress we proudly point to has a flip side. It's not all beneficial, and it's certainly not all beneficial to everyone.

What I'm certainly not calling for is a nostalgic return to some Arcadian yesteryear, when all was sweetness and light. Life isn't sweetness and light. Not now, not then.

Some things we've come up with over the last couple hundred years have been great. Some have been horrific. All or nearly all have been a mix of good and ill. I'm quite sure that, were it possible to arrange a swap between folks now and some random point in the past, some of our forbears would leap at the chance, and some would run away as fast as they could.

No doubt. But that doesn't help us at all to know what to do going forward. Sure, do charitable works, love our enemy, etc. But in terms of government and policy, some stuff "works". If you're not willing to acknowledge what that even means, what's the point?

It means we need to give up. I'm not in that camp.

I'm really not looking to pick fights about this, I'm making what I think is a simple point. All of the progress we proudly point to has a flip side. It's not all beneficial, and it's certainly not all beneficial to everyone.

Shorter russell: Nothing matters.

It means we need to give up

No.

Really, I think you're taking my comment in a direction that was not and is not intended.

Charles says: we are living in the best period of human history.

russell says: I don't know if that's true, or if it's something we can even say or judge. it certainly isn't the best period of human history for everyone.

And that's about it. Maybe some half-baked St Francis and Marcuse and perhaps even some warmed over hippie shit in there, too, but basically the above is my entire point.

To your point, no doubt, there's lots to do, and we should be about it.

I watched Period. End of Sentence. Recomended.

"Arunachalam Murugananthan is known as India's pad man. Breaking a strict taboo in India's tradition-bound society, Murugananthan worked to perfect an affordable sanitary pad in hope of starting a movement to help women in the developing world. Special correspondent Sam de Fred Lazaro reports."
This innovator is trying to make sanitary pads affordable for women in India (YouTube version)


Thanks for indulging me, russell. Thank you, CharlesWT, for watching the film.

Shorter russell: Nothing matters.

Nope, not what I said. Please see my immediately previous.

I'm moving offa this, because the point of diminishing returns has been achieved.

Cheers.

Oops, cross posted.

You are welcome, no worries.

Meanwhile, a drummer departs.

https://toddleopold.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/hal-blaine-1929-2019/?fbclid=IwAR0gdsBWOJKw2Njxss74KlVh-g_xg82FUrCBtVdRVEfeLoPJAX3BagejEbI

Damn.

Open thread, so I will cut and paste this activist email I received here. It’s a bit late, but if you have the time—————-

The Senate may vote as soon as TOMORROW on whether to reject U.S. support for the brutal Saudi- and UAE-led coalition’s war in Yemen that has left 15 million Yemenis at risk of famine.

And this is going to be a close vote.

But with just a day left to call our senators, we have to make sure they hear us loud and clear: a vote for S.J.Res.7 is a vote to finally reject the United States’ role in creating a man-made humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

Thanks, Donald. A call to action is something I appreciate, and will heed.

Thanks, sapient.

Under the heading, you cant make this stuff up:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wcvb.com/amp/article/fall-river-mayor-jasiel-correia-recalled-and-re-elected-on-same-ballot-after-being-federally-indicted/26804032

Election by plurality strikes again!

One thing: the stagnation of incomes for ordinary workers in the US and UK, and the consequent popularity of reactionary politics, is directly related to rising incomes in China and India.

Overall, the world is better for spreading opportunities more widely. But the process is far from painless.

Further Brexit news. Carole Cadwalladr tweets:

Last week @arron_banks & @andywigmore went to Veneto, the heartland of Italy's Lega Nord. Today, the plan is revealed. The fascists have agreed to help Britain exit without a deal. Salvini will block an extension of article 50. We're fucked.

Which is retweeted by Peter Grant MP with the following:

Apologies for the sweary word in the first tweet but this is too important. The people who bankrolled Brexit to “take back sovereignty” are asking the successors of Mussolini to help them impose a completely different kind of Brexit from the one they promised.

Hard to argue with that.

Hard to argue with that.

Heartbreaking.

Hard to argue with that.

Except that I'd take the likelihood of their actually blocking an extension, which the rest of the EU approves, with a pinch of salt. It's not impossible, but it is far from certain.

Cadwalladr is an enterprising journalist, whom I like, but is not always 100% accurate in her conclusions.

It's unclear to me that Salvini can cause Italy to seek to block an extension - his party is a partner in the governing coalition, and he is deputy prime minister.

If the Italian government does decide on a policy of blocking an extension, I think it very unlikely to insist if Germany wants to grant it. Italy's government deficit and debt are problematic, and it will continue to need favours from the EU.

I think the EU as a whole will grant an extension if it thinks the alternative is a hard Brexit. There would be some muttering about where is the UK's plan to resolve the issue during the extension, but in practice kicking the can down the road is what the EU does best.

The EU elections at the end of May are a problem. As things stand, the UK is not going to take part.

Pro Bono and Nigel: from your lips to God's ear (although you're certainly right about the EU elections being a problem).

As for Cadwalladr, I think she deserves to be made a Dame, in the absence of anything better, for services to the nation. She is a credit to her profession - her staunchness and persistence have been astonishing, in the face of both official neglect and negligence, and personal attacks of considerable vitriol.

I have a question for the UK folks. (Actually for any of the Europeans.)

Assume, for the sake of discussion, a hard Brexit. How long, if at all, before the pain gets bad enough for Britain to ask to rejoin?

Inevitably it would be without all the special carve-outs the UK has currently. That being the price of stupidity.

How long, if at all, before the pain gets bad enough for Britain to ask to rejoin?

And would that be an option? I.e., would the EU entertain that request?

I believe a vast majority of EU states would like to have Britain rejoin* but there may be just enough to block it. Not because they have a grudge against the UK but as part of their own desires to weaken the EU from within while increasing their own relative influence. Hungary and Poland come to mind. Italy may or may not join the effort.

*though without the special privileges.

Two rather conservative people I know of (one public pundit and ex-MP who has always been a Leaver) and one friend (who was on the fence, but voted rather uncertainly for Remain) have said recently they think there's a reasonable chance that if it comes down to the wire (i.e. if the EU refuses an extension), out of the three options actually available to parliament (the May deal, No deal or Revoke Article 50) parliament will opt to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit. I myself hardly dare hope for this, since all Leavers and even Remainers say continually as a mantra that they must "fulfil the will of the British people", and it would require the talents of impressive contortionists to find a justification that would fly.

But to answer wj's and russell's questions (in the wrong order): I imagine the EU would let us rejoin eventually, but (as Hartmut says) without the special privileges. But as for how long it would take the British to decide they'd made a mistake and re-apply, I have no idea what it would take to convince the public, if what has happened so far does not convince them (which the polls still suggest, if not definitively). No matter how bad the pain, I have lost all faith that my countrymen would correctly diagnose the cause.

Should I use this as the open thread or the other one?

I'll use this one.

What's up with Morris Dees, and the SPLC?

This does seem to be the only officially open thread!

sapient: from all the guarded comments about Dees and SPLC, it looks like it might be sexual (or more unlikely I think) financial misconduct. The reason I think this is his age, and when asked whether he had done anything improper, he said he didn't know what was considered improper these days. I was always used to consider the SPLC pretty respectable, and when McKinney poured scorn on them and their definition of "hate groups" a while ago I was inclined to think it was just his rightwing bias talking, but the fact that they impugned Maajid Naawaz and the Quilliam Foundation, and then had to retract, made me think maybe they have got ideologically carried away too far of late.

Sounds right, GftNC. Despite its error, the SPLC has long been one of the most effective organizations against hate groups. I hope that it is able to recover.

Despite its error, the SPLC has long been one of the most effective organizations against hate groups. I hope that it is able to recover.

I agree. And as to the first part, that is why it is so important for them not to get carried away and go haring off down ideological rabbit holes, because it gives the McKinneys of this world legitimate ammunition against them.

How did we miss mentioning this?
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/nyregion/sandy-hook-supreme-court.html
Money quote:

Their [the families who are suing] hope was to bring the case to trial, which could force gun companies to turn over internal communications that they have fiercely fought to keep private and provide a revealing and possibly damaging glimpse into how the industry operates.
It has always seemed a bit odd that, if you make any other product (e.g. a pesticide) that harms people, you are liable. But if you are a gun manufacturer, you're not. Any light shed on the way those manufacturers operate, especially how they market their products and why they market them that way, seems all to the good.

Since it's an open thread, I thought others might find this short rendition of Deep River as beautiful as I did:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_KMY_D9W4M

"The best way for politicians to keep Brexit—or any cross-border opportunities—from turning into smugglers' bonanzas is to leave people unmolested. That's because illicit trade isn't a measure of bad behavior so much of bad policies. In the absence of high taxes and restrictions on the availability of desirable goods, smuggling isn't a lucrative activity at all.

Brexit will be a smuggling opportunity only if government officials make it so. But, with history as a guide, they probably will."
Brexit Is a Bonanza for Smugglers (and That’s a Good Thing): Borders offer a wonderful opportunity to evade high taxes and restrictive rules.

Charles,
Any tax is something that can be evaded. Especially if it is not uniform worldwide.

So how do you propose to fund government without creating such opportunities (at least for those rich enough to allow evasion)? Or do you just want no government at all, i.e. straight-out anarchy?

This is just way cool.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/mar/17/nile-shipwreck-herodotus-archaeologists-thonis-heraclion

So how do you propose to fund government without creating such opportunities (at least for those rich enough to allow evasion)?

Some governments may have to make some hard decisions on what they will and won't spend money on. And be more efficient in their spending.

Charles,
You missed my point. It wasn't how much to tax (and spend). It was, how to fund government at all.

When the country was new, tariffs were how the Federal government funded itself. Currently, most funding is from income taxes (Federal and most states), sales taxes (states) and property taxes (local). What do YOU think should be the source of government revenue?

For those of you who still get your panties in a bunch over "reparations" I suggest taking a look at this and follow up by reading the original article.

Have a nice darned day (sunny and 70 today in Seattle).

What do YOU think should be the source of government revenue?

Not a question I can answer or google an answer for. Governments have very limited revenue sources that don't involve pointing guns at people.

So, Charles,

Name ONE government revenue source that does not involve "pointing guns at people".

Bake sales, maybe?

--TP

This is just way cool.

I was recently reading about Pytheas of Massalia (now Marseille) who circumnavigated England and Ireland, visiting much of both on foot as well, and may have made it to Iceland.

In the 4th C BC.

When the country was new, tariffs were how the Federal government funded itself.

Tariffs, and taxes on luxury goods.

Governments have very limited revenue sources that don't involve pointing guns at people.

I have received a sternly worded letter or two over the years, but never had a gun pointed at me.

Just pay your freaking taxes, for crying out loud, and move on.

sheesh.

Not a question I can answer or google an answer for.

Not entirely clear why you would need to google for an answer. Or why you can't answer.

  • What governments do isn't free, right?
  • The money the government spends has to come from somewhere, right? (I don't think you're crazy enough to think we can just print fiat money, and that will work indefinitely.)
  • So, where do you think it should come from? Presumably, from your previous comments, somewhere that doesn't provide major opportunities for smuggling and other evasions (or have I misunderstood you?). But where?

Not looking for a perfect or comprehensive answer. Just some insight into how you think we should approach the question.

Name ONE government revenue source that does not involve "pointing guns at people".

Some examples:

• Loans
• State-owned enterprises
• Interest or profit from investment funds
• Sales of state assets
• Rents, concessions, and royalties
• Fees for the granting or issuance of permits or licenses
• User fees
• Donations and voluntary contributions

All of those are fine with me. If we can make it work with those approaches, I say go for it.

Some examples:

• Loans
• State-owned enterprises
• Interest or profit from investment funds
• Sales of state assets
• Rents, concessions, and royalties
• Fees for the granting or issuance of permits or licenses
• User fees
• Donations and voluntary contributions

Would it be rude to point out that, with the obvious exception of the last one, all of those involve some element of coercion. As in, for example, suppose someone doesn't bother to get (pay for) a license, but just does whatever. Enforcement involves some level of coercion.

Ditto rents (see the Bundy standoff a few years back).

Would it be rude to point out that, with the obvious exception of the last one, all of those involve some element of coercion.

But, unlike taxation, none of them involve upfront coercion. The coercion occurs when someone breaks a contract or engages in activities that require permits or licenses.

Loans
To whom? In competition with private sector banks? How do you enforce repayment without, ultimately, "pointing guns at people"?

State-owned enterprises
Like health insurance companies? Last-mile broadband service under the (constitutionally mandated) Post Office? I could go for those. But again: how do you ultimately enforce the contracts?

Interest or profit from investment funds
Picking winners and losers? Uhm-kay.

Sales of state assets
That's how Russian mobocracy got started, but I suppose that's not a bug as far as Libertarian principles are concerned.

Rents, concessions, and royalties
Enough to fund the FBI, maybe. But the Navy?

Fees for the granting or issuance of permits or licenses
For what? Guns? Stamps? Tea? Actually, Paul Krugman once proposed (tongue-half-in-cheek) that revenue from CO2 emission licenses could raise enough revenue to replace the income tax. But once more: how do you enforce any of this without "pointing guns at people"?

User fees
I think you're just padding the list here.

Donations and voluntary contributions
Ah, the REAL tax cut for billionaires and megacorporations!

--TP

Thanks, TonyP. I had drafted a response to that list, but I'll take yours instead.

The coercion occurs when someone breaks a contract or engages in activities that require permits or licenses.

We have, in our nation, something known as a social contract. We elect people who enact policy, and we pay for it with taxes (the terms of which are also controlled by our votes). I'm fine with that.

We have, in our nation, something known as a social contract. We elect people who enact policy, and we pay for it with taxes (the terms of which are also controlled by our votes). I'm fine with that.

Hey, hey, hey....the right of voluntary free association only goes so far ya' know.

/snicker.

This is very sad news:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/obituaries/alan-krueger-dead.html

• Fees for the granting or issuance of permits or licenses
For what? Guns? Stamps? Tea?

Everybody likes to go fishing.

We could auction naming rights for the Capitol, the White House, and the Washington Monument.

Maybe even get the national parks in the game. What am I bid for naming rights, for one year, for the Grand Canyon?

It works for sports arenas and concert venues. We're missing an opportunity here.

FWIW, this was my list:

• Loans

Bonds? We do that. And then Republicans complain about the deficit (unless they're in power, when they think deficits don't matter).

• State-owned enterprises

That's interesting to me. But isn't that kind of like socialism?

• Interest or profit from investment funds

I'm good with that, but what are we investing in, Trump Hotels? We need to do that in a way that is fair, transparent, and not enriching politicians.

• Sales of state assets

No, thank you. National parks, monuments, buildings, museums, etc. We need to keep these.

• Rents, concessions, and royalties

That pays for some things, but we shouldn't turn those things into a regressive tax.

• Fees for the granting or issuance of permits or licenses

• User fees

We do some of this already but, again, they can be turned into a regressive tax.

• Donations and voluntary contributions

Not a way to run a national government. Fine for a homeowners association.

It actually is true that there was no federal income tax for a significant part of our national history. We did actually pay for everything with tariffs, and luxury taxes, and licenses and user fees.

There was even a SCOTUS decision ruling that a federal income tax was unconstitutional. It took an amendment to get past that one.

This isn't the same country that it was in 1832, or 1904, or whenever. So, we do things differently. Good, bad, whatever. The clock will not be turning back.

Your proposals here are interesting. Were any of them to be proposed, the same folks who complain about taxes, with the possible exception of you, would complain about them as well.

Your proposals here are interesting.

I wasn't making proposals. Tony asked for examples of government revenue sources that didn't involve coercion. So I gave a list of revenue sources that various levels of government in the US and other countries are currently using or have used at some time.

Cool. All good, Charles.

Your historical point is apt, we (and others) have relied on a variety of funding mechanisms over the years.

The income tax is progressive. Also, if you're going to benefit from living in a country with a political system that advertises "equal protection", it's important to support it in a just manner. We have an all-volunteer army. It isn't feasible to have an all-volunteer tax system.

It's not interesting, except as a relic. It's regressive. It has been tried. It failed.

I've been forced at gunpoint to live and earn a living within the context of an ordered society, which in turn forces me to make a far greater income than I otherwise would. And I can buy cans of peas without worry, while having no idea who grew them or put them in the cans!

behold the violence inherent in the system!

IRS-ordered shootings are way up, cleek. I'll try to find a link.

Google "mysterious disappearance of millionaires".
Scary Deep State stuff.

I was quite amused by this 78 year old's column...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/joe-biden-and-bernie-sanders-are-too-old-to-be-president/2019/03/18/66f9a316-49ac-11e9-93d0-64dbcf38ba41_story.html

"the dunce cap of our times"

Google "mysterious disappearance of millionaires".
Scary Deep State stuff.

Und Schmul Meier bleibt verschwunden.
Und so mancher reiche Mann
Und sein Geld hat Mackie Messer
Dem man nichts beweisen kann

Google "mysterious disappearance of millionaires".

Has anyone checked Galt's Gulch?

Galt's Gulch?

Yeah, that's where deregulated gravity caught up with two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The second plane was filled with foreign aid workers, many dozens of them Americans. Reports are that the killers in the White House erupted in cheering and derisive laughter when they heard the news of who died.

They chortled with malign glee like a bunch of fake news Muslims in New Jersey on 9/11.

CharlesWT: I wasn't making proposals.

Well, I wish you'd make some, then.

"You're doing it wrong" seems to be your position on how we presently fund the government. Fine, but how about a hint as to how you would propose to do it right.

Incidentally, just to be clear: your first non-proposal was "Loans". I assumed that you meant lending by the government, not borrowing by the government. Was I wrong?

--TP

The NSA could probably make some money from the "data recovery" business.

You laugh, but will wish they did after your next hard-drive crash.

I assumed that you meant lending by the government, not borrowing by the government.

I should have made that clearer.

"Loans, or other borrowing, from monetary funds and/or other governments"
Non-tax revenue

State governments have, for years, sold their diver license and car registration databases.

CharlesWT,

Thanks for clarifying. So you really did mean borrowing by the government, aka running deficits, aka increasing the national debt. Good thing it wasn't a "proposal" on your part.

But you answered my incidental question without addressing my real one: what do you propose?

--TP

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.

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