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May 03, 2021

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As to the rhetorical ploy represented (in GftNC's link) by the fantastic notion that the concept of the asshole ever fell out of use or favor, and thus needs rehabilitation, Aaron James's 2014 book Assholes: A Theory, is currently ranked 110,514 in Books on Amazon, while deBoer’s The Cult of Smart, published last fall, weighs in at 426,543.

Headline from JanieM's link
More than 100 Republican former officials to seek reforms, threaten new party

That ambiguous reading of 'threaten' is great. 'Eh, youse guys, you wanna make a new party? Howzabout we throw a new party on your faces, capish?'

more than 100?!

wow.

they could possibly elect a county clerk somewhere.

Republican cancel culture run amok:

Now, the Republican lawmaker wants to create new obstacles for fact-checkers who might challenge politicians over unsubstantiated claims.

“My legislation will put Fact Checkers on notice: don’t be wrong, don’t be sloppy, and you better be right,” Maddock wrote in a Facebook post announcing his proposal last week.

Maddock’s bill, the Fact Checker Registration Act, was introduced Tuesday and would require fact-checkers to register with the state and insure themselves with $1 million fidelity bonds. Any fact-checker that failed to register with the state could face a $1,000 per day fine. The proposed legislation would also allow anyone to sue a fact-checker over “any wrongful conduct that is a violation of the laws of this state.”

If the Rs want a law against telling lies in public, bring it on.

Seriously, I think a law against lies is needed now that the internet has made it so easy to spread falsehoods. It could be quite simple: you can say anything you like if you flag it as fiction or parody or humour, but if you represent it as fact it has to be true.

Liz Cheney got officially ousted from her party leadership position. The voting procedure got changed so we do not know what the exact result was, just that Cheney lost.
Quite ironic that she got kicked for probably the only decent thing she ever did in politics.

Seriously, I think a law against lies is needed now that the internet has made it so easy to spread falsehoods.

So, we need a Ministry of Truth?

a law against lies

So, we need a Ministry of Truth?

Over here we already have the First Amendment...

More than 100 Republican former officials to seek reforms, threaten new party

I know I'm not alone. But it's nice to get occasional confirmation.

As for cleek's: they could possibly elect a county clerk somewhere, I expect quite a bit more than that. There are, admittedly, a depressingly large number of cult members. And also, of politicians who simply have no core -- they'll say or do anything to (they hope) hold power. But a large number isn't 100%. And a lot of those who still care about reality do get elected.

At the moment, I expect the GOP to go the way of the Whigs. The only question is, how soon? And does it happen before or after the death of the cult's leader -- which his followers refuse to believe either. (Not sure whether they will go for "fake news" or resurrection.)

wj - I hope but doubt it will happen fast enough to rescue the country.

2022 elections will be a wild ride, and 2024 may well see all GQP-controlled state legislatures simply refuse to certify election results they don't like...

...with SCOTUS upholding them.

For cleek (et al.):
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/12/miles-taylor-100-republicans-third-party/

You may feel, as Sargent says, that a good cause deserves better advocates. But what is on offer, at the moment, is a commitment to accept the results of an election. And that, not agreement on policy, is the critical need right now.

a commitment to accept the results of an election.

that'll do.

absent that, we are in the world of government without the consent of the governed. I'm not sure what things look like at that point.

given our understanding of what we are about as a polity, minority rule is not going to be sustainable.

policy discussions are fine. not accepting the outcome of elections is not going to be fine. if that is where the (R)'s are going to hang their hat, there is going to be trouble.

One interesting facet of the vote to remove Cheney: instead of being a secret ballot (as is usual), it was done as a voice vote. Which suggests that McCarthy, at least, was aware that his spineless colleagues might well vote to keep her. Again. IF they didn't have to stand up for their positions. Profiles in courage everywhere....

just posting this for the lulz.

Jeff Bezos is getting a new boat. It will cost half a billion dollars, and comes with a second, support yacht. The support yacht has a helipad.

god forbid we should raise taxes on the wealthiest, think of the impact on the super-yacht industry.

A very quick note on that Towner article I linked. I pretty much agreed with hsh when he speculated about it being a pre-emptive strike to excuse the writer, and to what russell said about systemic prejudice, and knew there was a good chance it might provoke a bit of controversy (McK's approval was hardly surprising).

But I just wanted to say the following, briefly (briefly because I essentially posted and ran: I have just done a flying two day trip to the North Country to take care of some business, and have not really had a chance since posting to come back to it):

1. I had no idea who the writer was, or what his history was, and obvs I don't check this with everything I link, which I am sure you all understand. But I thought, whatever his history was (and I will search it, because now I am interested), the piece on its face was good enough to stand up.

2. If it turns out (which I am quite prepared to believe) that he himself is a considerable arsehole, I nonetheless thought the argument was well and pithily expressed. And, contrary to what some of you have said (that it - the argument - should be so obvious as to not need expressing), I actually think it does need to be expressed. I have myself brushed against the fringes of this phenomenon, enough to have occasionally wondered if it was worth the trouble (in discussion) of analysing whether a particular pundit or writer was really a bigot, or whether they were just being an arsehole. I'm happy to say that I have never been silent to avoid trouble and save the peace, but I can see how it could happen.

Anyway, I'm glad if it was of any interest to anybody, and I will even weather the McKinney kiss of death!

I actually think it does need to be expressed.

agreed

apologies for the serial posts, but I'm still shaking my damned head about the yacht with a support yacht (with a helipad).

is it just me, or is Bezos auditioning to be the next Bond villain?

or, could it be....?

So, we need a Ministry of Truth?

No, courts decide what is true.

*Major Change in Topic Warning*

Does anyone here suspect this Colonial Pipeline thing is in any way approved by the Putin regime? It seems like a great way to undermine faith in Biden and generally sow discord in these United States - another monkey wrench to throw into the works. Perhaps even a pilot program for future cyber attacks.

Also, too, that pipeline runs within a mile or so of my house. I drive by the big tank farm almost daily. So far, no gas shortages at the northern end, thankfully.

Bezos' yacht is being built in the Netherlands. Wonder how much of that will trickle down to Dutchmarbel...

I grew up in a town whose main industry was maritime building. We had a luxury yacht builder in town that employed about 100 people as well as a few local professional contractors (naval architects and the like). The company has since moved to the UK and thence to the Netherlands.

The story of owner excess that most stuck with me... I remember that one particular owner brought in his yacht for renovations. (It was small by today's luxury yacht standards, only being large enough to have one car on either side of the deck so that they could be lowered by winch to the dock regardless of which direction the yacht was berthed - no helipads, and no turning into Voltron or whatever they do now.) The carpenters spent days in one of the cabins bookmatching the solid Purple Heart paneling on the walls. When the owner came for a progress check, he thought the wood was too dark for the room his daughter would be sleeping in, so he had the workers leave all the paneling, but paint over it with pink.

When the owner came for a progress check, he thought the wood was too dark for the room his daughter would be sleeping in, so he had the workers leave all the paneling, but paint over it with pink.

This isn't excess so much as a straight up crime against craftsmanship and nature.

I think one of the most corrosive aspects of money worship/"American-style-capitalism" whatever is the whole idea of transactionalism. That just being able to pay for something somehow gives you the right to do whatever you want.

Not "whatever you want" in the sense of "murder someone and get away with it" (though there's plenty of that too), but stuff like this. Or that couple who made the news early on in the pandemic for filling up their shopping cart with all the steaks in the supermarket. Or abusing wait staff. Or the random article I read the other day about people who order super-specific custom Starbucks drinks with 29 ingredients.

Speaking of assholes...

IMO, the 100 Republican military wankers who just signed a letter outlining what's little more than a bulletin of Fox News stories cancel out 100 never-Trumpers.

70M morons voted for Trump.

2/3 of Republicans think Biden is illegitimate.

gonna take something seismic to shake that faith loose.

@hsh (2:23): This was a recent, very interesting discussion about cybersecurity with, among others, Angus King, who's on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I happened to be in the car that day and heard most of it.

The company has since moved to the UK and thence to the Netherlands.

Perhaps once burned twice warry. I remember the luxury tax on yachts some decades ago.

Or that couple who made the news early on in the pandemic for filling up their shopping cart with all the steaks in the supermarket.

That happens when you don't allow the price of some to go up when its value goes up.

As for luxury yachts, I rather the rich spent their money on them rather than that other luxury good, politicians.

so he had the workers leave all the paneling, but paint over it with pink.

I once was hired to paint a kitchen full of beautiful cherry wood cabinets white. I needed the money so I did it, but it was a freaking crime.

I remember the luxury tax on yachts some decades ago.

Luxury taxes and tariffs were what we ran the country on, back in the days of the sainted founders. Personal coaches (not commercial wagons), booze, tobacco, sugar. Higher tax rate for coaches with four wheels, lower rate for two-wheelers.

Somehow we survived it.

That happens when you don't allow the price of some to go up when its value goes up.

Or, it happens when people are greedy jerks.

Perhaps once burned twice warry. I remember the luxury tax on yachts some decades ago.

Nope. Nobody who bought a yacht from them gave a damn about the 10% surcharge any more than they cared about the cost of the paneling they were painting over. These weren't $100,000 boats. They did boats that cost millions and had rolling budgets. You didn't come to them with a budget, you came with an idea and a statement to make.

Personal coaches (not commercial wagons), booze, tobacco, sugar. Higher tax rate for coaches with four wheels, lower rate for two-wheelers.

Politicians are always coming up with stupid ways to tax people. I think it was in England that, at one time, they taxed windows because they were easy to see and count. The result was that people built houses with few or no windows and bricked up the existing windows. The result was detrimental to people's health and wellbeing.

A champagne tax was introduced in Germany (the 2nd Reich), so rich people would pay their (highly visible) part in the naval build-up. That fleet ended up at the bottom of Scapa Flow, we still pay the champagne tax a century later (at least those that drink that stuff do).

what's stupid about taxing luxuries?

the people who can afford luxuries can afford the taxes. people who can't afford luxuries, and would suffer the most negative impact from taxes in general, wouldn't be taxed. luxury goods are by definition optional in the first place, if you really really really don't want to pay the tax, you can choose to not buy the luxury good.

I'm missing the stupid part.

Is there any tax whatsoever that would be acceptable to libertarians? if not then maybe we can all just stipulate that any tax is going to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad from your point of view and move on.

If we want stuff, somebody has to pay for it. We apparently want stuff, even the libertarians among us. The way we pay for it is taxes.

"I rather the rich spent their money on them rather than that other luxury good, politicians."

I would rather the rich spent their money on shopping carts full of GOP politician steaks, but that's just me.

Well marbled, mostly.

Taxes which cause people to do daft things - have fewer windows in their houses (yes, that was in England), or fewer wheels on their carriages - are a bad idea.

There's a very long list of luxuries that are now necessities that almost everyone has. Including the poor. Heavy taxes would have slowed widespread adoption.

Re. the Towner article. I read a couple of the attacks on the doxing, and their accusations of sexism were based on the suggestion by the doxer, having identified the real person behind EF, that her husband may have written some or all of her stuff. Which does look sexist to me.

yes, that was in England

The US has had its share of such taxes.

A tax on interior staircases. So houses were built with exterior staircases. So, regardless of the weather, if you wanted to get to the second floor of your house, you had to go outside.

A tax on closets. So houses were built without closets and people put their clothes in freestanding armoires & wardrobes.

A higher tax on houses with kitchens. So people built houses with detached kitchens.

Different times .. Different taxes.

Nobody needs a 120’ yacht.

Politicians are always coming up with stupid ways to tax people.

I'll be fascinated to hear what you would consider a non-stupid way to tax people.

Some taxes are more stupid than others. One thing people won’t completely forego to avoid taxes is money. And I don’t care if they forego yachts (or yacht rock).

Taxes which cause people to do daft things

None of those taxes caused people to do daft things. No one in government forced them to brick up windows or build detached kitchens. People did those daft things because they were too spiteful, or greedy, or both, to pay into the public coffers.

IOW, they're tax assholes.

Basically, you can tax luxuries, in which case some people will go thru contortions to avoid paying tax. Even if the money isn't really an issue per se. That is, they just object to taxes in principle.

Or you can tax necessities, in which case some people will end up pushed further into poverty because they can't afford both the necessity and the tax.

Or you can just not have taxes because you don't have government. Which somehow never works out quite as beautifully as advertised.

@hsh (2:23): This was a recent, very interesting discussion

That sounds like a good office listen. I’ll check it out tomorrow. Thanks, Janie.

After listing off the top of my head stairs, closets, and kitchens as having been taxed at one time or another, I can't find any good evidence that that was ever the case in the US. But I had read claims for the taxes somewhere. The top of my head doesn't seem to be very reliable.. :(

Nineteenth-century houses had few or no closets because people didn't have much stuff to put in them.

I think most houses with exterior staircases were in the south. Could be because the houses were cheaper to build, saved space in the house, and the milder weather.

Also, in milder climates, a detached kitchen wouldn't heat up the rest of the house.

GftNC, thanks for dropping back by, I appreciate it. I wanted to take a chunk out of your comment as it's been on my mind a bit.

I had no idea who the writer was, or what his history was, and obvs I don't check this with everything I link, which I am sure you all understand.

I understand this totally, but I find myself on the fence a bit. I've had a couple of unpleasant back and forths with people on Facebook, often friends who also live in Japan, who highlight something (often it has been by Jordan Peterson or Bari Weiss) saying 'wow, this makes sense'. I usually offer up something like 'I don't care much for [name]' and then put a link to something that tries to summarize the problems with [name]' The most recent one linked to a colorful takedown of Peterson and the person got really upset, saying of course, they weren't espousing everything Peterson stood for and they certainly didn't have time to go back thru his back catalogue and they were sure that they had apologized for any rhetorical overreach. I think the person got upset in question got upset because the takedown piece called Peterson words similar to asshole, and he assumed that I was calling him an asshole thru the link. And I may have been, my frustration with Peterson's argumentation can easily boil over. And I'm certainly not the only one guilty of that
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/apr/07/jordan-peterson-shocked-by-captain-america-villain-espousing-10-rules-for-life

So, the question in my mind is where is the line on that? I often wonder if it is because I'm an academic and the genealogy of an idea is as important as the idea. But it seems off to me when someone quotes Bari Weiss and then says 'well, I have no idea who she is, but she is asking the right questions'. I'd be interested in what the commentariat thinks.

Dammit, Charles, stop correcting yourself before I can do my thing.

"Heavy taxes would have slowed widespread adoption."

So, politicians seem NOT to tax in stupid ways most of the time.

https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-mansion/the-chintz-room/when-is-a-closet-actually-a-closet/

That tax on closets was thought up by uptight conservative scum who wanted to remove all refuge and privacy for homosexuals and lesbians, which is why if you wanted to locate a Fallwellian Puritan Christian conservative hypocrite and a slave boy together, the armoire on wheels was the first place you'd look.

The reason there are no houses in America is because we have property taxes.

Cave living was never taxed, so whatever happened to it?

Living under bridges is tax free, and yet the rich turn their noses up at it. Maybe they require a support bridge next door under which they can store their helicopters.

The reason Milton Berle regularly appeared on stage without pants? The trouser tax. He also entered the theater through a second floor window because that's where the ladies' dressing rooms were and cigars that were JUST cigars were taxed if he entered on the first floor, but his other cigar that wasn't a cigar wasn't taxed unless he ran some beer through it.

Balconies were taxed for a time as well. That ended love as we know it, but fewer accidental suicides among your besotted Romeos and your hot-to-trot Juliets were reported in the ten-year census, as they were forced to leave the building by the outside staircase on which going down the outside staircase was untaxed ... going up the down outside staircase WAS taxed, but walking UP the interior staircase was a non-taxable event, while walking down it caused massive tax liabilities, not to mention calamities like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN0I7R_NCe4

Things never change:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHjlIPnnY1Y

"A higher tax on houses with kitchens. So people built houses with detached kitchens."

Fewer houses burned to the ground and immolated the kids upstairs who refused to escape via the staircases for fear of taxation.

Thus, the dumbwaiter was invented, but the inventors sorely under estimated the number of dumb waiters.

Stupidity and lying are not taxed, which is why the Trump republican Party produces a surfeit of it on account of it is speech protected by the First Amendment, except in legal proceedings where free speech and freedom go to die because you must swear to tell the truth and nothing but, unless you are 100 whackadoodle fascist murderous military conservatives who are intent on committing genocide.

If we confiscated stupidity and lying and arseholes, they'd only want more it, like their guns, not that that they have enough untaxed outbuildings on their property and/or support yachts to store all of it.

If lying was taxed out of existence think how awful life would be without billboards, pop-up ads, FOX News blondes, the internet, television, radio, fortune cookies, check engine lights, social media and Americans in general.

We'd be down to one "The biggest, world-renowned Hamburger in the world" joint for the lot of us.

Lying is the lifeblood of America.

Bullshit is the oxygen.

Kidding ourselves is the lymph.

Groucho interviews the editor of Reason Magazine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmnnLs0v9_s


Indoor plumbing is taxed one way or another, which is why most libertarians still use an outhouse, or they follow the Pope into the woods to to see what he's up to.

Texas has a pole tax...

"Throughout history there have been many strange, unusual, and weird taxes (read about the history of taxes). Many of them were implemented to raise additional revenue, while the purpose of others was to promote social change. Here are some of the strangest ones:"
Strange & Unusual Taxes Throughout History

The "window tax" in England prompted Isaac Newton to invent the reflector telescope, since the primary lenses of refractor telescopes were taxed as "windows".

With the side benefits of removing chromatic aberration and making it possible to expand telescope apertures from the ~few cm size of Galileo to the tens of cm in Newton's day to ~10 meters today.

Taxes which cause people to do daft things - have fewer windows in their houses (yes, that was in England), or fewer wheels on their carriages - are a bad idea.

So what kind of tax regimes are a good idea?

All of the examples of people 'doing daft things' given here are examples of people trying to dodge paying taxes.

It's true, tax luxuries, and people will go through contortions to avoid paying them. Tax income, and people go through contortions to avoid paying them. Tax money transfers like sales taxes and similar, and people go through contortions to avoid paying them. Except the people who can't afford the attorneys and accountants required to go through the contortions, those folks just have to pay and pay.

Maybe people should just pay their damned taxes instead.

lj: I often wonder if it is because I'm an academic and the genealogy of an idea is as important as the idea. But it seems off to me when someone quotes Bari Weiss and then says 'well, I have no idea who she is, but she is asking the right questions'. I'd be interested in what the commentariat thinks.

I care about the genealogy of ideas too; maybe it’s because I’m an academic manqué. But it’s also personal, and you can throw in an “attention conservation” component in my evaluation of who’s worth reading online.

On the one hand, an idea isn't responsible for the people who espouse it, so why should it matter who expresses an idea if it’s a good one?

On the other hand, people who write have a body of work -- and now, with the internet, a body and history of interactions -- so that we can place their expression of a certain idea into a larger context and, with enough experience, make our own judgments about their sincerity, honesty, motives, etc.

Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, the person in GftNC’s link, let’s call him Alvin – among others – seem to me to be mostly all about themselves, and not really about what they present themselves as being, which is concerned to make the world a better place. Thus – I don’t trust them, right upfront. (lj: upthread you seemed not to want to name the writer in question; I named him later but am reverting to your reticence.)

Alvin spews words like Niagara Falls spews water. He always has; he took a break (not a very long one, it would seem), and came back still spewing words, and still framing his points, such as they are, in terms of himself against the stubborn resistance of other people to take his brilliant advice about how to fix everything, which mostly involves other people changing their behavior.

This gets tiresome. There are 7.5 billion people on the planet, give or take, and most of them have opinions, and a lot of them/us spew their/our opinions online every day, so it’s not hard to find a good idea expressed by someone with a more trustworthy body of work and a more trust-inspiring history and apparent motivation than Alvin’s (IMO). (Yes, I know lots of people haven’t encountered him before. Lucky you!)

GftNC thinks Alvin is pithy; I find him unbearably turgid and self-absorbed. Tastes differ! But also, because of the manipulativeness of his writing, I think any good ideas embedded in it are more healthily sought elsewhere.

I mentioned above the rhetorical ploy of presuming a conclusion (that the concept of the “asshole” has somehow been out of favor and Alvin is just the guy to rehabilitate it). There’s another rhetorical ploy underpinning that essay, and many of Alvin’s writings, which is the use of the word “we.” Alvin bills himself as a leftist; you just have to look at the blurbs about his book on Amazon to see that. His ponderings are a sort of “more in sorrow than in anger” plea to the community he has alleged is his own, to get their act together.

From the essay GftNC linked, the more in sorrow than in anger plea: “I’m asking that we be free to utilize our judgment to decide which claims of bigotry are credible and which aren’t without being accused of being on the wrong side.”

First reaction: you might as well try to stop a hurricane as lay down the law in this manner about how people should behave. Since it’s not going to work, why write it? Self-congratulation, that's my interpretation.

Secondly, no writer who uses “utilize” when “use” would do is pithy. ;-)

I want to apologize for a certain amount of exaggeration in my take on Alvin's writing. But that doesn't change my intention not to spend any more of the precious minutes I have left on this planet paying attention to him.

Life is short, is what I've heard.

On the other hand, people who write have a body of work -- and now, with the internet, a body and history of interactions -- so that we can place their expression of a certain idea into a larger context and, with enough experience, make our own judgments about their sincerity, honesty, motives, etc.

This. The rhetorical situation is an important consideration. So while I may agree with the sentiment of what is being expressed, I may find that this sentiment, expressed in this particular context, by this particular person, becomes something more than just an argument in isolation.

By the same token, I try not to judge the person linking to, or quoting, the sentiment by the same measure as I do the original author. Different rhetorical situation to be judged by different standards. Still, if one supports, or enthusiastically quotes, Jordan Peterson or Bill Maher enough times and people will start to suspect a deeper affinity.

By the same token, I try not to judge the person linking to, or quoting, the sentiment by the same measure as I do the original author.

Yes, that's a good baseline.

*****

Bill Maher...the king of "Look how much cleverer I am than everyone else." With a sneer. There are people in my life who admire him, and there's at least one who admires Peterson. It's a difficult dance.

That happens when you don't allow the price of some to go up when its value goes up.

This kind of attitude is why we can't have things.

It's not even technically correct from a myopic libertarian econ 101 perspective. Even if raising prices is a valid (ahem, sociopathic) way to ration in a shortage, a shortage is not actually in evidence here. There were, in fact, a perfectly normal number of steaks in the meat case. Or at least there were 10 minutes before those assholes arrived...

So it's not that the supermarket was prevented from hiking prices because of bleeding heart liberal policies. I guess they might have been, if they'd gotten the chance, but it's moot. Practically speaking there's nothing they could have done if they'd wanted to. One minute it's business as usual in the meat section, the next minute, the shelves are empty, and a happy couple of sociopaths are wheeling their overloaded cart to the register, depriving everyone else of being able to buy meat at any price for a couple days.

The only even remotely practical way to somehow solve that with price signals would be to sell meat by auction or something. Have everyone crowd around while the butcher takes bids for the steaks one at a time. That just sounds like a giant PITA for everyone. It's not how supermarkets work, and for good reason.

So maybe, just maybe, consider whether the *actual* way to solve this sort of anti-social assholery -- without putting enormous non-monetary burdens on everyone -- might be to apply social pressure. Call people like this out for being assholes. Don't just shrug our shoulders and excuse it with the equivalent of, "Whelp, money. Whatcha gonna do. Transactions are more important than society."


* can't have *nice* things.

It's true, tax luxuries, and people will go through contortions to avoid paying them. Tax income, and people go through contortions to avoid paying them. Tax money transfers like sales taxes and similar, and people go through contortions to avoid paying them.

There's some kind of Campbell's Law thing going on here, which is always interesting to me.

But I wonder if one way around this particular one would be to stop pussyfooting around and just elevate removing socially corrosive levels of excess wealth to be a primary goal of tax policy. As we should anyway.

Even if you could somehow manage to skirt the brightwork-on-yachts tax or the alligator-skin-shoe tax or whatever this week, you'd know the tax man would still be coming for you eventually. (And if the tax man was doing his job last year, you shouldn't have quite so disproportionately many resources to use to avoid him anyway.)

So what kind of tax regimes are a good idea?

Income taxes are a good idea. They should be progressive (higher marginal rates for higher incomes) and should apply to all forms of income equally.

In a wealthy country, income tax should be combined with a universal income, so that the effective tax rate becomes negative for the lowest incomes.

Sales taxes (or VAT, if you think of that differently) are necessary to raise sufficient revenue. They should apply equally to all goods.

Taxes on externalities (a carbon tax, for example) can be good. The tax level should be set to price the externality fairly, not to maximise revenue.

I can see the temptation to impose an additional tax on luxury yachts. But the government should not be using the tax system to express moral views on what people choose to spend their money on.

If we want stuff.....

IOW, they're tax assholes.

If we want government to buy us stuff.

If it's cheaper to brick up a window than pay the tax then most people would have fewer windows.

I assume no one here just pays a higher rate on income than required or calls to get their property tax appraisal raised. No one added money to their IRA but decided not to claim the deduction?

I assume no one here just pays a higher rate on income than required

You assume wrong. Briefly, there are a range of deductions available to me that I just don’t take.

I’m in the fortunate position of being able to do that without it having a significant effect on my daily life. But it’s also something I do intentionally. I have enough, more than I need actually, I don’t mind paying a bit more than I’m legally obliged to.

The “if we want government....” correction is accurate. And there are a lot of things the government buys that I would prefer they didn’t. Everyone reading this has their own list, no doubt.

I accept that as the price of living in a town, state, and nation that includes people whose values and priorities differ from mine.

If bricking up your windows to avoid a tax is how folks want to go, so be it. Let them enjoy the darkness.

tithe

Problems associated with taxing the rich can be effectively addressed by not having any rich people to begin with.

I think that is admirable russell. Not because you do it, but because it is a personal action consistent with your values as expressed here.

I can see the temptation to impose an additional tax on luxury yachts. But the government should not be using the tax system to express moral views on what people choose to spend their money on.

There's an argument to be made that luxury yachts -- at least the ones that require utility yachts -- are themselves a kind of negative social externality.

I think it'd be probably be more straightforward to simply tax the wealth away before it gets that far, but the argument is there.

There is in general a far wider range of stuff where there's legitimate public interest in at least discouraging or encouraging certain spending patterns.

This is actually in large part what raising the corporate tax rate is really about. Or should be. Most firms have a lot of flexibility with where their accounting profit ends up. They can easily avoid taxes on profits by increasing "expenses", like R&D budgets or higher "efficiency" wages. And those are tax dodges we should be more or less entirely in favor of.

Problems associated with taxing the rich can be effectively addressed by not having any rich people to begin with.

This.

So maybe, just maybe, consider whether the *actual* way to solve this sort of anti-social assholery...

I'd like to believe that, were I the manager of that supermarket, I'd have kicked those two out sans le bœuf. That would be my idealized conception of myself as a supermarket manager in that situation.

So maybe, just maybe, consider whether the *actual* way to solve this sort of anti-social assholery -- without putting enormous non-monetary burdens on everyone -- might be to apply social pressure.

limit 5 gal per person.

5 gallons will get the average person around for a few days, by which time the current problem will have sorted itself out.

instead, people are buying gas they don't immediately need out of unfounded panic and leaving people like me and my wife literally without a car. literally - our car is 25 miles away in a gas station parking lot because my wife ran out of gas while trying to get home and couldn't find a gas station anywhere that had gas.

it's the same situation as the great TP shortage of 2020. there was no supply shortage. there was an unnatural demand spike by caused by people trying to get ahead of a supply shortage that didn't exist until they caused it.

panic buying is a disgraceful tendency.

I can see the temptation to impose an additional tax on luxury yachts. But the government should not be using the tax system to express moral views on what people choose to spend their money on.

One of the, to my mind legitimate, uses of the tax system is to motivate desirable behavior. If you want to do something about climate change, for example, you can try to write volumes of regulations covering any and every activity that might contribute. But a carbon tax of some sort is vastly easier to administer. And, other than being a tax (if the word makes you twitch), has few negative externalities.

Now you can argue about whether that constitutes a "moral view" about what people should spend money on. But no more so than any non-tax law that might get written on the subject.

Ha, just got back to this, and realise that the commentariat may well have moved on to tax and yachts, but just in case:

I don't know why we're calling him Alvin, but I assume it's for a good reason so I'm sticking with it.

As I said, I knew nothing about him, but I have now had a quick scout around, and see that not only is he a lefty, he is "an avowed Marxist". No doubt McKinney will find that of note, although I didn't.

Interestingly, I see that he has suffered since youth with bipolar disease, and has had several episodes of unmedicated mania during which he has said and done horrible, unforgiveable things. He has posted about this, fully owns it and its heinousness, and seems properly and sincerely regretful, including now (he says) conscientiously taking the meds. I've had a couple of people close to me with this condition, and know how terrible it, and its ripples, can be. He doesn't seem to use it to excuse himself, FWIW.

But anyway, this really has very little or no bearing on his opinions and output, when not manic. So I revert to my position of not being prepared (or able) to vet every writer of an interesting article I read for their previous views and output, if I think the article worthwhile, as I did here. And it will be obvious, from everything I’ve ever said here on ObWi, that I resist any concept of an “approved” roster of commentators or public intellectuals, while agreeing that it’s valuable to know about their past views. I’m always happy to be informed about people I was ignorant about, and prepared to consider whether it changes my opinion of them or the work in question.

The question of how much one should consider a "creator’”s work in the context of their past is a fascinating one, and one most of us have had to consider at least when thinking about artists' works of genius, when what we know about their private lives inclines us to think badly of them.

The conclusion I came to, after thinking about it in that context, was that if their works survived (for me) the revelation of their behaviour (which they don’t always), I would not boycott the works nor try to stop myself from enjoying them. I suppose somewhere in this calculation was the concept that people are multifarious within themselves, and that great works are the product of their better selves (or, if that’s how you think about it, their divine self). But I know that not everyone takes this view, and that's obviously totally their right.

But anyway, back to Alvin. Janie’s right: anybody who uses “utilize” for “use” cannot really be called pithy. I should really have said coherent, or well-expressed. We all have different buttons to be pressed; I do not myself mind it a bit when people go on about how things should be, and how people should behave. I ignore it when I disagree, note it when I think it shows more about them than the people they are criticizing, and appreciate it when it either gives me something new to think about or manages to express something well that I have been incoherently feeling and groping towards, as happened here.

(On the limited point Pro Bono made upthread about the actual outer of Elena Ferrante, and how to the extent he implied that the true author was her husband, as in the case of Colette and Willi, then that justified an accusation of sexism, I agree. I didn’t follow that saga at all closely when it happened, but it may well be that this was not a particularly good example of the phenomenon. But the actual point of what Alvin was writing about is unaffected.)

I didn’t think his point about “asshole” falling out of use was just a rhetorical ploy and not true. I actually think what he is talking about is a real phenomenon I have noticed (nothing to do with the word “asshole”, and more to do with the tendency to go to ideological Defcon1 when accusing someone disagreed with, as opposed to just thinking they’re wrong and being an asshole or epithet of choice). I do believe that this phenomenon, if it continues and gets worse will have the effect of stifling nuanced dissent, even among people of considerably similar ideological or moral opinions, who could otherwise be staunch allies. Anybody else’s MMV.

limit 5 gal per person

We did exactly that during WW II. But it's a big hassle to set up. And administer. Probably not worth it for something this brief.

In the 1970s, we tried only allowing purchases on alternate days, mostly to keep the lines down. It was also a hassle. But the obvious alternatives were worse.

It sounds like a setting on the pumps to me. Or at least what could fairly easily be a setting on the pumps.

We did exactly that during WW II. But it's a big hassle to set up.

meh.

as Sean Hannity recently proclaimed: "God created us to provide goods and services for others"

hire a guy to stand there and watch. problem solved.

hire a guy to stand there and watch. problem solved.

For a single gas station, sure. But for a consistent system across all of them? Not so much.

Not to mention that the guy would have to be armed. Heavily armed, given the "freedom = license" views of some of the gun nuts.

For a single gas station, sure. But for a consistent system across all of them? Not so much.

It's possible that even a loosely enforced "5 gal per visit" rule would help at least a little bit. It doesn't need to be perfect. I'd add a "no containers" rule too, from what I'm hearing about my partner's foray into VA earlier this week.

I still feel like that's closing the barn door after the cat's left the bag, so to speak. This is probably just my "old man yells at clouds" moment, but I think a system where we just get in the habit of recognizing the existence of other people and their needs would be way more resilient in situations like this.

Social trust is a huge -- and hugely undervalued -- public amenity, and we don't pay nearly enough attention to the social externalities that are eroding what's left of it.

I think that is admirable russell.

much appreciated, in particular for the reason you cite.

it's not something I expect anyone else to do. just calling out that not everybody would react to window taxes by bricking up their windows.

I can see the temptation to impose an additional tax on luxury yachts. But the government should not be using the tax system to express moral views on what people choose to spend their money on.

I don't see luxury taxes as any expression of moral views. They seem, to me, to be a least-harm way to raise revenue.

Not a moral argument, but a pragmatic one.

If you can afford half a billion dollars for a boat, you can afford an excise tax on that purchase. Maybe that would translate into someone like Bezos buying a smaller boat, or maybe not buying a boat at all. The net impact of that on the overall health of the economy would be noise.

It's not about hating on rich people. It's about raising necessary revenue in ways that present the lowest overall burden on everybody.

If wealthy people feel picked on by stuff like this, I'd gladly trade luxury taxes for a re-balance of the relative tax rates on earned and unearned income.

limit 5 gal per person

We did exactly that during WW II.

I worked pumping gas during the 70's gas shortages. It wasn't just a hassle, there were fist fights and an occasional drawn gun.

It would be really helpful if people didn't freak out and hoard things when they are in short supply. I'm not sure what it takes to get people to behave in really helpful ways.

alas, the GOP is firmly against social trust and the idea of externalities and the existence of other people.

Hannity provides nothing but the thin noxious atmospheric gases of racism, hate, and malignant misbegotten privilege to the general weal, but he does suffer the little children to service unto him.

"But for a consistent system across all of them? Not so much."

Limitations on gasoline, steaks, and toilet paper would apply same-same across the board for everyone, like limitations on the voting franchise, as we have been instructed, so what's the problem?

Just change the rules and shrug with an innocent face as we claim nothing to see here while keeping the safeties off.

I'll know voting limitations are sufficient for my taste when conservatives/republicans/trumpers are turned away from both polling places and gun registration .... Liz Cheney, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Matt Gaetz and the lot of them equally screwed under the law.

We can either have America, OR we can have the Republican Party.

Choose one.

I will say federal regulators should stop warning gas hoarders that plastic fuel containers are inadvisable, on account of the freedom to self-immolate expressly stated in the Bill of Rights.

Let em load up and offer a lit match.


The question of how much one should consider a "creator’s work in the context of their past is a fascinating one, and one most of us have had to consider at least when thinking about artists' works of genius, when what we know about their private lives inclines us to think badly of them.

A grab bag for this
Picasso (I think the case was first put forth that I saw by a youtube video of a female art critic, but the name escapes me)
https://kamnakabir.medium.com/picasso-an-artistic-genius-or-a-bullying-misogynistic-womaniser-4752a94a6553

Eric Gill
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/apr/09/eric-gill-the-body-ditchling-exhibition-rachel-cooke

Margaret Sanger
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/pill-eugenics-and-birth-control/

The beat goes on...

it's the same situation as the great TP shortage of 2020. there was no supply shortage. there was an unnatural demand spike by caused by people trying to get ahead of a supply shortage that didn't exist until they caused it.

I do think that's about 90% of it -- and the hoarding was deplorable -- but there probably was also some contribution from the "people stopped pooping at work" factor.

I think it legitimately took the supply chain a little while to adjust to the almost overnight shift in demand from commercial rolls to residential ones.

jack lecou: I think a system where we just get in the habit of recognizing the existence of other people and their needs would be way more resilient in situations like this.

Might come in handy if we're ever faced with an epidemiological disaster of global proportions.

Oh, wait.........

lj: exactly. And Picasso and Eric Gill were actually on my mind, along with many others. Not to mention, slightly tangentially, the ban on Wagner broadcasts on Israeli media (I don't know if that is still in force). And more and more frequently now, things come out about artists one admires, so one continues to come up against this issue.

Limitations on gasoline, steaks, and toilet paper would apply same-same across the board for everyone, like limitations on the voting franchise, as we have been instructed, so what's the problem?

You missed the point. It's not about whether a given gas station applies the limits to everybody who gets gas there. It's about whether all of the stations are applying limits. Which isn't something that will happen with just some stations choosing to monitor purchases. It requires an external (i.e. government) mandate.

You (generic "you", not you personally JDT) can take the libertarian position that any limits are unacceptable. But that's a different discussion.

About gas, my FB feed is full of pictures of people filling up buckets or even plastic bags with gasoline. I read or heard someone recounting being on an Aeroflot flight with a guy who had two jerry cans of gas and was, of course, smoking a cigarette. I don't know if it's the same woman from multiple angles filling up the buckets with unleaded, but if it isn't, I feel like we reached some point that we really shouldn't have...

People filling plastic bags with gas are fools. As for those who smoke at the same time -- evolution in action. Just hope they don't take others down with them.

The question of how much one should consider a "creator’s work in the context of their past is a fascinating one, and one most of us have had to consider at least when thinking about artists' works of genius, when what we know about their private lives inclines us to think badly of them.

This, along with lj's mention of Picasso et al., has nothing to do with my avoidance of Alvin. It's a different thing entirely.

I remembered last night that the first time I read a piece by Alvin, long ago, I too thought it was reasonably well-written. As time went by and I saw more of his writing, and watched how he behaved to other people online, I realized that the writing itself emanated from, and was imbued with, a certain attitude about himself, his ideas, other people, and the world at large. Those things colored the ideas he was presenting himself as expressing, and tainted his expression of them, for me.

Also, for GftNC: no one suggested that you should vet every writer whose work you run across online. You asked what the commentariat thought, you got some replies. That's all. I was trying to describe the way I try to set my reading priorities, not making recommendations for you or anyone else.

And with that, since not for the first time lately there's a strong ships passing in the night flavor to this discussion, I will leave it alone.

"It requires an external (i.e. government) mandate."

Mandating is now irreversibly disabled as being socialist tyranny unless you are Jerry Falwell Jr's wife with a righteous "business" jones on for the Christian poolboy and then its share and share alike.

Mandating is now irreversibly disabled as being socialist tyranny unless you are Jerry Falwell Jr's wife

On the contrary, mandating is absolutely allowed, required even. As long as you portray it as evangelical Christian. (Whether it actually has anything to do with Christian morality, or even if it is antithetical to same, is irrelevant.)

Not quite done after all.

As a matter of interest, perhaps: Obit for one of Eric Gill's daughters.

*****

Also, I don't really know: does anyone think that if you knew nothing about the life of Picasso or Wagner, you would eventually see evidence of the abuser or the anti-semite once you had contemplated their art and music for a long enough time?

I wouldn't think so, but I don't actually know what people think about this question.

With Alvin's writing, the problems (as I see them) are embedded right there in the output, and once I had read enough of it, I started to realize that. I didn't even know about the actively malicious things he had done and has apologized for, as GftNC mentions.

On the other hand, people who write have a body of work -- and now, with the internet, a body and history of interactions -- so that we can place their expression of a certain idea into a larger context and, with enough experience, make our own judgments about their sincerity, honesty, motives, etc.

Is there a reasonably well known person who is recognized by the Progressive Left as a good faith critic of Progressive Left policies, viewpoints, etc?

As far as taxes go, you can only tax a surplus. Take away the incentive to produce a surplus and you're out of gas.

I'm generally not ok with getting pissy because someone has amassed a fortune beyond almost anyone's wildest dreams. That kind of money--assuming its not inherited--happens when something of value is created, which almost always requires human effort, i.e. jobs. Yachts are expensive as shit to build because of all of the bells and whistles that sit on top of the basic sea-going structure. All of those were made by someone who got paid for their effort. Plus, maintaining a yacht, like maintaining a plane, is f'ing outrageous and all of that money goes toward goods and services, which means people are gainfully employed and paying taxes.

Getting pissy about commercial endeavor, declaring that 'enough is enough!' is a sign of " I know better than everyone AND I have the authority to decide for others." Or, as I like to call it, Trumpism.

Back to taxes: put a luxury tax on yachts and watch yacht buyers go the the Netherlands for their next purchase while everyone employed making yachts in the US is out of work. Tax liquor and cigarettes and watch lower earning households' disposable income erode correspondingly. You can only tax a dollar once and when you run out of dollars to tax, you get Cuba. BP, you want somewhere where there are no rich to tax, give Cuba a try.

I make a good living and have for some years. However, the reason I make a good living is, aside from being pretty good at what I do making me a good choice if you need my kind of services, I put a lot of people to work. I make more and so do they. If I could expand my practice 20X, my income would go more or less in proportion, but that would also means hundreds of well paid, with great benefits, people working.

That's how free market commerce works--build a really big shop and you have a huge payroll but you also make a lot of money. Win-win.

t's about whether all of the stations are applying limits. Which isn't something that will happen with just some stations choosing to monitor purchases.

it's a self-correcting system. those that don't limit will simply run out more quickly. people looking for gas will soon have a choice of 5 gallons or none.

it's a self-correcting system. those that don't limit will simply run out more quickly. people looking for gas will soon have a choice of 5 gallons or none.

It's a self-correcting system, IF the situation continues for long enough. Which, as in this case, it may not.

I'm generally not ok with getting pissy because someone has amassed a fortune beyond almost anyone's wildest dreams.

But what do you think about getting a little worried about amassing concentrations of power beyond almost anyone's wildest dreams?

Because that's what these kind of "fortunes" are. That kind of wealth is absolutely anathema to the concept of democracy. (Especially in the absence of anything even pretending to be an effective check on the deployment of that wealth to influence politics directly -- though given sufficient wealth, it's questionable whether any such thing is possible in any case.)

It's just super lazy to characterize advocates of taxing away wealth as being "pissy" or "jealous" about other people having money. It completely fails to engage with the arguments. Any of them.

a truck holds ~12K gallons, but a big gas station can have 20K of storage per grade. and they'll refill every day, if they can get it.

It's just super lazy to characterize advocates of taxing away wealth as being "pissy" or "jealous" about other people having money. It completely fails to engage with the arguments. Any of them.

But but but but but but no, surely it's not true that when it comes to ad hominems, both sides do it. Surely characterizing comments like russell's 11:09 as "pissy" or "jealous" is done with all the integrity of bloodless argumentation.

Anyhow, if McK is "not ok" with russell (who speaks for me on this), that's a pretty sure sign we're on the right track.

It's just super lazy to characterize advocates of taxing away wealth as being "pissy" or "jealous" about other people having money. It completely fails to engage with the arguments. Any of them.

1Mx this

It's just super lazy to characterize advocates of taxing away wealth as being "pissy" or "jealous" about other people having money. It completely fails to engage with the arguments. Any of them.

I will engage, gladly, but I need something other than a broad assertion in order to respond: pls provide three examples of a uber rich person having "concentrations of power beyond almost anyone's wildest dreams" in the US.

Alternatively, pls be more specific about what you mean by "concentrations of power beyond almost anyone's wildest dreams".

In exchange, would you mind answering my first question? Thanks.

The question of whether we should consider the artist's character when judging the art is a tough one for me for a few reasons, especially as an extreme metal fan. I listen to, and love, a lot of dark, aggressively misanthropic music. I also listen to a lot of nordic metal that expounds on mythological themes. I have a tattoo of an ukonvasara (Finnish Thor's Hammer) on my forearm and two spiral circles that are highly stylized sunwheels that fortunately look little enough like swastikas to offend. These are publicly visible tattoos, so I do feel they open me up to public scrutiny when we have people like QAnon Shaman running around being folkist assholes with their symbology. I'm also a public employee.

All this to explain the context in which the deeper questions about art and artist get played out.

I own, listen to, and love a few albums by Agalloch. They are an atmospheric black metal band from the US. They get associated with Burzum sometimes - that's the guy who burned down the stave churches in Norway and murdered the guitarist from Mayhem - partially because their music sounds similar, but also because their lyrics also traffic in dark and mysterious norse esoterica and pagan themes (with a bit of an detour into left hand path occultism). The music is beautiful and the thoughts and imagery are often profound.

Then a couple of years ago after the band had broken up, the main songwriter made an antisemitic remark on social media that got the other band members to publicly disavow his comments.

I firmly believe that it is permissible to like problematic things, so long as one does not attempt to minimize or whitewash the things that are problematic about the object of one's love, so I feel no need to purge my music collection.

But I also have to consider what others will conclude about me from my love of the band's music combined with my tattoos and my deep interest in pre-christian Scandinavia. Those things are part of my public persona.

So I can listen without guilt, but should I share their songs on my social media? Should I wear the band's shirt or keep their patch on my jacket? If I go to a concert and run into a group of white power assholes there, do my tattoos and patches give them a greater sense of support and embolden them?

The first order questions about art are not too difficult, it's the second order questions about the public role of liking and advocating for the art that gets so messy.

Cleek and JanieM, a request: give me a chance to respond to a challenge before taking your shots. Thanks and have a nice day.

PS, I'm headed out for lunch and a meeting, so my next response will be delayed. Anyone care to answer my first question?

pls provide three examples of a uber rich person having "concentrations of power beyond almost anyone's wildest dreams" in the US.

In no particular order, a few off the top of my head:

- Charles Koch
- Bill Gates
- J.B. Pritzker
- Jeff Bezos
- Meg Whitman
- Michael Bloomberg
- Paul Singer
- Sheldon Adelson

And that's just the ones with higher profiles, lots of direct political donations, or trying on political careers themselves. There's a lot more billionaire money operating behind the scenes, funding think tanks, etc.

Anyone care to answer my first question?

Your first question is ridiculous, especially given the capitalization of "Progressive Left," as if it's the name of a rock band. But also because I, at least, do not speak for the "Progressive Left" (much less the fantasy of it that you're carrying around in your head) or, for that matter, anyone but myself, and give no consent for anyone to speak for me under that label or any other.

Also:

That list is mainly about how economic power can be translated to political power, but that's only part of the story.

There's also the problem of concentrated economic power distorting markets in and of itself. One person's or small group's preference literally get far more economic "votes" than everyone else's.

And then there's other kinds of soft power. Cultural influence, etc.

Cleek and JanieM, a request: give me a chance to respond to a challenge before taking your shots.

McKinney's rules. Not sorry, not playing.

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