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rjung
01-14-2004, 07:00 PM
Okay, there's been regular threads in GD about the Democratic nominees, so I'm interested in looking at things from the other side of the fence...

Pretend that we have Joe Public, a non-partisan unaligned American voter. He's voted for both parties in the past, and thinks that not voting at all is a bad thing. He sees the 2004 Presidential Election on the horizon, and looks back on George W. Bush's first term in office.

What incentives does he have to vote for Bush? After all, there's a war in Iraq that's apparently endangering American soldiers for no reason (no WMDs found, no threat to the USA, Army War College report, etc.). There's several hundred thousand jobs lost since 2000, and a general feeling of unease among his friends that looking for work now is a nontrivial matter. There's Osama bin Laden running around, but nobody seems to care any more. The Administration seems to be pandering to the rich and powerful, what with two sets of tax cuts for the wealthy, a Cabinet loaded with industry lobbyists, the non-prosecution of folks like Ken Lay and Bill Gates. There's a deficit that's completely obliterated the surplus we had back when Clinton was in office. And there's an annoying sense that the Administration wants to keep everything a secret (Dick Cheney's energy commission, stonewalling on the 9/11 investigation, etc.).

To counterbalance all this, what's the argument in favor of voting for Bush? I mean, to Joe, it looks like the nation is heading down the tubes -- so why shouldn't he vote for Anyone Besides Bush(tm), in hopes that things will get better?

MrTuffPaws
01-14-2004, 07:11 PM
On some other boards I read, some people think GW is the best president ever because "He sent me $300"

There you go. If you are greedy and don't mind handing debt to the kiddies, all is well and good.

XT
01-14-2004, 07:12 PM
From rjung
What incentives does he have to vote for Bush? After all, there's a war in Iraq that's apparently endangering American soldiers for no reason (no WMDs found, no threat to the USA, Army War College report, etc.). There's several hundred thousand jobs lost since 2000, and a general feeling of unease among his friends that looking for work now is a nontrivial matter. There's Osama bin Laden running around, but nobody seems to care any more. The Administration seems to be pandering to the rich and powerful, what with two sets of tax cuts for the wealthy, a Cabinet loaded with industry lobbyists, the non-prosecution of folks like Ken Lay and Bill Gates. There's a deficit that's completely obliterated the surplus we had back when Clinton was in office. And there's an annoying sense that the Administration wants to keep everything a secret (Dick Cheney's energy commission, stonewalling on the 9/11 investigation, etc.).

The problem here, rjung, is you are asking us to pretend we are "we have Joe Public, a non-partisan unaligned American voter", but then you ask totally partasan questions. Its debatable (especially in the 'Joe Public' crowd) whether any of what you said is true. After all, 'Joe Public' might actually think that there IS good reason to be in Iraq. Also, depending on circumstances 'Joe Public' might HAVE a decent job and be doing fairly well. After all, more people HAVE jobs than don't have jobs, no? 'Joe Public' might just NOT think things are going down the tubes...certainly this moderate centrist doesnt see things that way. Maybe I'm just deluded...

It goes on and on. You are looking at this from YOUR perspective, not that of 'Joe Public', to which I figure you mean 'The Center'.

I can't get into why to vote for Bush myself, as I'm not going to. For myself, I'll be voting one of the 3rd parties if Dean is the candidate as I can't stand Bush OR Dean for various reasons too numerous to get into, and I'd encourage all those on the fence to do the same (Green Party, Liberatarian, Reform, whatever). I think a good strong 3rd party can be very healthy for our country.

I'm sure some Bush supporters will do a good job of laying out reasons to vote for him. All I can say is, what is obvious to YOU is not so obvious to others. Or, what is obvious to THEM is obviously NOT to you. :) Its called partisan politics. Ain't this a great country??

-XT

John Mace
01-14-2004, 07:17 PM
Well, you did a great job of outlining why a Democratic partisan hack would not vote for Bush. "Joe" is much more rational and looks at things differently.

The economy is improving. Unemployment is going down, and it's very much in the middle of the range it has been at for the last 20 years. We haven't captured ObL, but we have caught many of the al Qeada leaderhip. And there have been no al Qeada attaks on US soil since 9/11. Taxes are lower than they were under the Dems, and Joe is smart enough not to fall for the class warfare rhetoric of the left about "tax cuts for the rich". Being an average American, Joe supported the war in Iraq, so he's not too interested in Dean or Clark. Joe likes that fact that we've caught Saddam and, again being an Average American, is not especially gung-ho about the UN. He's somewhat concerned about how we get out of Iraq, but the Dem candidates haven't come up with a credible exit plan.

The deficit is a major issue, and Joe thinks the best way to deal with is to keep taxes low so the economy can grow, and curtail spending. Although Bush has performed poorly in this area, he doesn't trust the Dems to do any better. But if there's any reason he might not vote for Bush, this is it. He's pretty certain that if Bush wins in '04 and the Pubs have both houses of Congress, and they don't get the defecit under controll, he'll pay a lot more attention to the Dems in '08.

manhattan
01-14-2004, 07:41 PM
Well, there's a few reasons, depending on what your nonpartisan voter believes.

In Iraq, a single invasion with historically minimal U.S. casaulties has, at least in the short term, tipped the balance of power in the Middle East away from the terrorists and fascists who were running the show in Iraq and Syria. Already, we've seen increased cooperation from Iran on nuclear inspections, significant concessions by an already-improving Libya, a recent move by Syria to reopen talks with Israel and other events which indicate that the invasion may have been the best thing to happen to that region in about 600 years. Your voter might think that's a good thing.

As regards Bin Laden, it's frustrating that he hasn't been found. But it's not like there are no troops looking for him. Some people think that he's in the mountains on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and that the Pakistanis are preventing us from getting him. Your voter might think an invasion of Pakistan is justified if that's the case, but I'm guessing if he thinks that he was probably not also against the invasion of Iraq. He has to ask himself what a Democratic candidate might to different or better? 100,000 more troops in Afghanistan? An invasion of a nuclear-capable country? They keep saying do "more" but I don't think any of them is really saying precisely what. Your voter will want to know what.

Economies turn. And ours turned down following the collapse of the bubble (which wasn't just about internet and telecom, but about too-cheap capital generally leading to capacity expansion). As it happens, though, the turn was relatively short and shallow -- the peak unemployment rate wasn't much above what used to be thought of as the minimum unemployment rate our economy could sustain over a long period without overheating. Some people don't believe a President has much influence over the economy at all, in which case neither the contraction nor its shallowness would enter into his thoughts when selecting a candidate. Others might think that the tax cuts and the additional domestic spending under Bush helped things and would look favorably on that record. Alternatively, he might look at the future plans of the small businesses which have been the job creators in the U.S. for the past couple of decades, see that the net percentage of them who intend to hire this year went up by almost 50% in the past couple months, and say that there's hope for the future whether it's Bush's doing or not.

As above, domestic spending, which had been under control during the Clinton years, has exploded (well, relatively). And it's going to get worse. Among other things, Bush has created and partially (only partially) funded a massive program of school testing, mandating that schools get the performance of its worst students up. He has also created an entire new prescription drug entitlement for seniors. NEA funding, NASA funding, all kinds of funding are up. If your voter is a big-government type, he might like this and again put a check in the Bush column. On the other hand, if your candidate is a small-government type, he might be pretty pissed off about this and go looking for candidates promising at least to constrict the growth of spending. I'll let someone who is a Democrat spell out which candidates are promising to undo those new programs and not roll out any new ones.

And he cut taxes. Yes, most of the money went to people that most people consider "the rich." They pay the most. But many middle-class families got cuts, and many more lower-class families became exempt from paying any taxes at all. Your voter, if he's married and has kids, probably got a tax cut. So he's probably at least a little happy about that.

The result of increased spending and decreased taxes is deficits. If your guy is a deficit hawk, he might not like that at all! But not everyone is a deficit hawk. Our economy somehow got through the Reagan deficits and earier deficits, so maybe your guy doesn't care or doesn't care enough to make it a deciding factor. To the extent he does care, again, he's going to want to quiz the Democratic candidates about how exactly the deficit will be closed, and his opinion might be swayed by how. Is it entirely by raising taxes again? Are those new entitlements going to disappear? Maybe we'll not keep our promise to the new Iraq? It all depends on what your voter believes.

I don't think many people choose a President because he has or doesn't have a secrecy fetish -- maybe that's too bad. If your voter does, he's certainly not going to give any points to Bush for it! So he'll want to look at how the leading Democratic candidates have treated their records and weigh the records accordingly. Some seem to be better than Bush in this regards and would get points. Others, not so much, And of course some of them don't really have much in the way of records at all, or a least ones you'd want public, so you kind of have to take them on faith.

Lemme think of some more reasons later.

Abbynormalguy
01-14-2004, 07:43 PM
Here's a couple of things that we need to consider...

First, the war in Iraq...

1) Don't you think the world is a better place without some :wally like So-damn-insane running the place over there? Despite the paper that was recently found, he has supported terrorism and terrorists in the past (the single biggest one being our good ol' friend Yasser Arafat). In the days after 9-11, while he may not have vocalized his overwhelming joy at UBL's attack, you can rest assured that he felt it. Also, take a look at what he has done to his own people. But you know, it's ok that he gassed tens of thousands of people and has made hundreds more disappear or tortured or executed...they are his own people, after all. (The difference between people like Stalin and Pol Pot and people like Adolf Hitler? Stalin and Pot killed their own people; Hitler killed other people..we can't have that, now, can we?)

2) Dubbyah went into Iraq with the best intelligence available at the time. He had people all around him saying that Iraq was filled to the brim with WMDs, etc. (And despite the failure to find any WMDs, I'd be willing to bet that Saddam asked his good buddy Assad in Syria if he'd mind watching his "toy bombs" for a while).

Second, with the secrecy bit...Having studied terrorists and terrorism for many years on my own, secrecy is of the utmost importance. The minute that terrorists realize that you are using mode-of-communication X to find out about them, they shut that pipeline down and move to mode-of-communication Y. The Israelis have known that for years; we are just now learning that fact. If you want to know everything that is going on, then good for you...just realize that if you do that, it'll make the gathering of information and the prevention of future 9-11 attacks that much more difficult.

Third, why Dubbyah over the other guys? Dr. Howard Dean seems to be the frontrunner for the Dems ticket. That guy just downright scares me. He's a liar (he claims to be anti-war, but previously pushed Clinton to do in Bosnia exactly what Dubbyah did in Iraq.)

Jessie Jackson, et. al. Do I really have to elaborate? The only democrat that seems to be a not-creepy guy is perhaps John Kerry from SC. Then again, I haven't researched what his campaign is about, so I just reserve judgement against him.

Worst case, Bush II is the least of all evils. He is the evil we know, and we can trust his "evilness" to be consistent.

Quint Essence
01-14-2004, 07:54 PM
Don't you think that our president should be honest with us?
Do you republicans really not have a problem with our president lying us into a war?!?!?
Bush is killing this country. Economically it is a shambles. The deficit has reached unheard of proportions and the dollars fall more than offsets the slight rise in the stock market.
Oil right now is 32$ a barrel. If the dollar was trading at the same rate as it was 2 years ago the price would be approximatly 22-24$ per barrel.
We have lost millions of jobs in this country and there is no indications that that is about to change. Companies are still intent on moving to other countries for the cheaper labor.
Minimum wage is quickly becoming the average wage.
I can not think of one single issue that Bush has addressed that has benefited this country.

Why would someone vote for Bush?
Lack of patriotism and love of this country are the only reasons I can think of.

XT
01-14-2004, 07:54 PM
Jessie Jackson ain't running afaik. The least of all evils, IMO, is Lieberman...who incidently has almost zero chance of getting the nomination, again IMO. Dean is a flake...I think he doesn't have a snow balls chance in hell of beating Bush in a general election precisely because he DOESN'T appeal to 'Joe Public'. I'm willing to make a gentlemans bet on this with anyone here...if the Dems run Dean, Bush will get his second term. And it won't be pretty either. IMO, if the Dems ran Lieberman (or possibly even Kerry), they would have a shot...it would at least be close.

-XT

John Mace
01-14-2004, 08:08 PM
Joe has a few hard-core Dem friends. He really gets turned off by shrill comments like "America is going down the tubes" and "Bush is just like Hitler". Joe has a good job. He's proud of America and thinks we are a force for good in the world. All this screaming by his friends affects him on an emotional level and tends to reflect poorly on the Democratic candidates.

And, believe it or not, he has this one friend who keeps saying "Shrub stole the last election". Can you believe it? Can you believe there are people who are that patisan? Joe wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't heard it with his own ears.

Evil Captor
01-14-2004, 09:51 PM
Joe will vote for Bush because he still remembers with shuddering horror all the peace and prosperity of the Clinton administration, when there were so few real problems around that the media were able to get all worked up over a blowjob. He sure doesn't want that again!

Abbynormalguy
01-14-2004, 10:00 PM
In a momentary lapse of judgement, I forgot about Joe. My apologies to all. He's definitely one of my more favourite dems...my one major criticism of him (and the nail on the coffin for people like Dean) is that he doesn't support Israel like Bush does. There are those who say Dubbyah has been America's most pro-Israel president ever. (I'm willing to reserve judgement until he's completed his presidency...don't want a "read my lips" relapse).

It would be a real treat to see a Kerry/Lieb (or Lieb/Kerry) ticket for November, but I know that's probably just a pipe dream. :smack:

John Carter of Mars
01-14-2004, 10:13 PM
Re: Why should I vote for Bush?

You should vote for Bush if you find him less objectionable than the Democrat's candidate. Most Americans will find that to be the case.

Things aren't as bad as some of you make them out to be, and the Dems don't have a candidate that's presidential material. That's why Bush is going to get four more years.

jshore
01-14-2004, 10:44 PM
Here's a couple of things that we need to consider...
2) Dubbyah went into Iraq with the best intelligence available at the time. He had people all around him saying that Iraq was filled to the brim with WMDs, etc.

Well, then he surrounded himself with the wrong people and ought to be thrown out. Certainly, there was no hard intelligence telling him this was the case. And, some former (and presumably current) CIA analysts and such knew that things like Powell's presentation before the UN were bullshit. Here (http://www.truthuncovered.com/transcript/index.cfm) is Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst from 1964 to 1990, who regularly reported to the vice president and senior policy-makers on the President's Daily Brief from 1981 to 1985 (that's the Reagan era):

I would have to comment here on Secretary of State Colin Powell’s debut as an imagery analyst. It was highly embarrassing for those of us who know something about the business. We couldn’t tell whether this was an honest mistake by those who now do the imagery analysis, who now report to the Secretary of Defense, unlike our day when they reported to the Central Intelligence Agency, whether that was the case, or whether perhaps Colin Powell was being set up.



(And despite the failure to find any WMDs, I'd be willing to bet that Saddam asked his good buddy Assad in Syria if he'd mind watching his "toy bombs" for a while).

Well, we are all entitled to "interesting" theories but that doesn't make them anything but wild unsubstantiated speculation.


Third, why Dubbyah over the other guys? Dr. Howard Dean seems to be the frontrunner for the Dems ticket. That guy just downright scares me. He's a liar (he claims to be anti-war, but previously pushed Clinton to do in Bosnia exactly what Dubbyah did in Iraq.)

That is not a lie if he supported a different sort of military action in a different sort of circumstance. Dean never claimed to be "anti-war" as a general principle; rather he claimed to be against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. So, he is only a liar in the sense of "he does not mean what I think he ought to mean which has almost no relation to what he actually said."


Jessie Jackson, et. al. Do I really have to elaborate?

I didn't even know Jesse Jackson was running this year.

jayjay
01-14-2004, 10:46 PM
I didn't even know Jesse Jackson was running this year.

That's okay, jshore. Clinton wasn't running in 2000, either, but the Republicans were campaigning against him as if he were.

Brutus
01-14-2004, 11:04 PM
...To counterbalance all this, what's the argument in favor of voting for Bush? I mean, to Joe, it looks like the nation is heading down the tubes -- so why shouldn't he vote for Anyone Besides Bush(tm), in hopes that things will get better?

How wrong are thee? Let me count the ways...

-Americans are happier now than at any point since 1956. (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36477) (When the survey began.)

-Consumer optimism is on the rise. (http://gallup.com/poll/releases/pr040112.asp)

-Historically, GW's popularity is well above what previous presidents had prior to reelection. (http://gallup.com/poll/releases/pr040108.asp)

-If the election were held today, Bush would spank Dean, 54% vs. 33%. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,107941,00.html)

Some people just can't accept the fact that GW is generally liked, and that most Americans are pretty happy with how things in America are going.

jshore
01-14-2004, 11:09 PM
And he cut taxes. Yes, most of the money went to people that most people consider "the rich." They pay the most. But many middle-class families got cuts, and many more lower-class families became exempt from paying any taxes at all.

Your statement are only really true of federal income taxes. Once you add payroll taxes into the mix, the distribution is more even. And, then there are state and local taxes which really hit the poor and middle class. And Bush's policies are putting increasing financial pressures on the states, thus forcing them to raise taxes. So, the net effect of all this is the rich getting a healthy reduction in their total tax burden, much of the middle class probably getting little or nothing in the end (depending on individual circumstances, where they live, etc), and the poor likely seeing nothing or even an increase in their total tax burden. And, of course, this whole tax cut is being financed on borrowed money anyway. So, it is sort of like GW stealing our credit card and then using it to pay us a cash advance.

Oh, and note that the reason the rich pay an ever-increasing percentage of the federal income tax is because of the explosion in inequality...i.e., the even faster increase in their share of the income.

John Mace
01-14-2004, 11:19 PM
Your statement are only really true of federal income taxes.
Joe is smart enough to realize that the President can't cut state taxes. He also knows no one ever cuts Social Security taxes, so he's not surprised that Bush didn't.

milroyj
01-14-2004, 11:28 PM
Minimum wage is quickly becoming the average wage.


This is quite possibly the silliest thing I've ever read.

Leaper
01-14-2004, 11:36 PM
Y'know, I can't help but think that any answer to "why should the average voter vote for Bush" would depend on what exactly the "average voter" is and believes. For example, if the "average voter" were gay (which they can't be, due to sheer numbers), (s)he would have little reason to vote for Bush, unless there were major agreement on almost every other non-social issue. If the "average voter" cared about the environment, then it might be the same thing, but only depending on how MUCH they care, and whether they'd care as much given various economic factors.

Heck, I'd be stymied to give a serious answer to the OP, really. It's quite a daunting question.

Lissa
01-14-2004, 11:39 PM
(And despite the failure to find any WMDs, I'd be willing to bet that Saddam asked his good buddy Assad in Syria if he'd mind watching his "toy bombs" for a while).

I'm sure we were watching Iraq so closely with our satellites that if Saddam had tried to move anything as large as a bomb across the boarder, we would have known about it.

rjung
01-15-2004, 02:16 AM
The problem here, rjung, is you are asking us to pretend we are "we have Joe Public, a non-partisan unaligned American voter", but then you ask totally partasan questions.
I thought that would be obvious. I already know the arguments against Bush; what I want to know are the arguments in favor of the guy.

Not that I'm chainging my opinion, natch, ;) but I want to know how things look for the folks wearing the George-tinted glasses. :cool:

The Long Road
01-15-2004, 03:13 AM
I thought that would be obvious. I already know the arguments against Bush; what I want to know are the arguments in favor of the guy.

Not that I'm chainging my opinion, natch, ;) but I want to know how things look for the folks wearing the George-tinted glasses. :cool:

The thing that will get Bush re-elected will be the Democratic party. All the Dems are doing right now is ripping each other to shreds but when the fighting ends, they will act like none of it happened. Problem is, the voters won't forget the negative attacks made against the candidate. Al Sharpton attacking Dean for hiring zero minorities will not be forgotten by minority voters.

Offer people a better alternative and they will flock to it. Clinton came from practically nowhere and beat Bush I. Is there a Dem candidate waiting in the wings to do the same to Bush II?

Sterra
01-15-2004, 05:27 AM
Funnily enough I think that the conservatives here are doing a pretty good job of arguing a Bush loss. Saying "the other guy will be worse" rarely if ever works in elections. Not to mention the fact that a lot of their information is false (IE Dean did hire minorities and tried to hire minorities for senior posts, but none of the ones he tried were interested) And the whole comment about Dean claiming he was anti-war when he has been claiming the opposite.

Anywais I think that the best arguement for voting for Bush would be that their personal situation has improved while Bush is president. Now obviously this would be untrue for many more people than it was true for, but that is still a reason for some people.

Doc Nickel
01-15-2004, 06:09 AM
The reason I'll (probably) vote for him is, like very other election I've been a part of, he's the lesser of two evils.

I wasn't really thrilled with him in 2000, but I was by far less enamored with Gore.

And right now, most of the Democrats I read about sound like an only-mildly-toned-down Diogenes; "Illegal" war, "stealing their oil", "stole the election", "destroying the country", comparing Bush to Hitler, "murdering" our soldiers, "in the back pocket of big business", ad nauseum.

Bush might not be my best choice, but the Democrats haven't put forth anyone better. Campaigns always involve a modicum of hearsay about "my opponent did this or that Bad Thing" but so far, that's ALL we've seen from the Dems.

And that's NOT what I look for in a President.

John Mace
01-15-2004, 10:07 AM
The Long Road:
This is no different than any other primary. Candidates in the same party snipe at each other and then rally after the convention. People do forget (or at least discount) the sniping, and then go on to vote for their preferred candidate (or the lesser of two evils).


Anywais I think that the best arguement for voting for Bush would be that their personal situation has improved while Bush is president. Now obviously this would be untrue for many more people than it was true for, but that is still a reason for some people.
I don't think it's obvious at all. What specific data do you have that makes you think it is?

Captain Amazing
01-15-2004, 10:54 AM
In a momentary lapse of judgement, I forgot about Joe. My apologies to all. He's definitely one of my more favourite dems...my one major criticism of him (and the nail on the coffin for people like Dean) is that he doesn't support Israel like Bush does.

Joe Lieberman doesn't support Israel? Why do you say that?

fruitbat
01-15-2004, 12:44 PM
I do not hate Bush and I have voted Democratic in every election since I was eighteen. Were Gephardt to be the choice of the Democratic party I may even consider voting for him.

While I am with the crowd in agreeing that the war in Iraq is a foolish adventure, I have been pleased with several of his policies as President. His pledge of $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa was surprising and made him the first President to allocate significant money to a disease that threatens to destroy Africa. I will grant you that the money isn't there yet, but at least he started the process.

His recent initiative to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants was a tough political stance to defend against criticism from his own party and took courage. The Republican party has become increasingly nativist over the past decade, and anyone willing to stem that tide gets some respect from me.

His Mars initiative, though much mocked, is welcome in my corner. Man has a natural need to explore. There will always be uses for the money on earth, that alone is not reason to dismantle the space program. The development of science is the most important use of our intellectual capital. Increasing our reach into space is a worthy use of our resources.

Finally, I believe in free trade. I believe in it almost without condition. I don't mourn the loss of manufacturing jobs when they can be performed more efficiently overseas. I would like to see subsidies to inefficient business repealed altogether, but I realize that is a long ways off. Bush is not perfect, or even near perfect in this regard. He is however, a hell of a lot better than Gephardt and Kucinich with their naive and pandering views on free trade.

I likely will not vote for him, because I cannot stomach most of his views on social issues. I find Ashcroft and his desire to turn America into a land without privacy deplorable. I just wanted to put a voice in to say that, as partisan as we get here, he is responsible for some good along with the foolishness.

Age Quod Agis
01-15-2004, 01:32 PM
Bless you, fruitbat, for your wonderful post.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
01-15-2004, 02:10 PM
.... the non-prosecution of folks like Ken Lay and Bill Gates. Others have done a fine job of dealing with your other points, but this silly lil' thing has gone overlooked.

Funny you should mention Lay, since Andrew Fastow and his wife recently copped a guilty plea (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2004/nf20040115_1433_db035.htm) under which they will cooperate with prosecutors. That means the prosecution of Lay and Skilling are moving ahead, since a big part of reeling in the big fishes is making the little fishes start talking. In a complicated case like Enron, these things take time. The fact that it's taken awhile doesn't mean criminal charges aren't eventually forthcoming.

As for Gates, one wonders what the fuck you're talking about. I assume you're referring to the antitrust case, which is stupid -- even if you believe every last tidbit of the government's case against Microsoft, Gates himself isn't criminally liable for anything. At worst, the kinds of things Microsoft has been accused of would lead to government action against the company (see, e.g., the breakup of Ma Bell), and not against Gates personally.

jshore
01-15-2004, 02:29 PM
Joe is smart enough to realize that the President can't cut state taxes. He also knows no one ever cuts Social Security taxes, so he's not surprised that Bush didn't.

No, but Joe would hopefully understand the idea that if costs are just transferred down the ladder (and to the future) so that taxes at that level are raised on him then the President's policies are still responsible.

This idea that there is just this bunch of free money around so that we can simply cut taxes, increase spending and everyone is happier is kind of stupid. Once people are made to realize the Bush taxes (http://www.bushtax.com/) they are and will be paying then they will realize that this was never about cutting the taxes for everyone and really about transferring the tax burden from the wealthy down to the rest. Whether this realization actually occurs to a great enough extent before the next election remains to be seen.

John Mace
01-15-2004, 03:06 PM
No, but Joe would hopefully understand the idea that if costs are just transferred down the ladder (and to the future) so that taxes at that level are raised on him then the President's policies are still responsible.

Not if Joe lives in CA (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=235110). You and I went at it awhile back about whether the Feds should align the Fed tax structure with the states or vice versa. I don't think there's much point in rehashing that-- I'm very comfortable with the idea that it's incumbent on the states to follow in this area. But if you're game, so am I...

This idea that there is just this bunch of free money around so that we can simply cut taxes, increase spending and everyone is happier is kind of stupid.

Yes the "increase spending" part is, and I aready noted that Joe will probably not give the Republicans a pass on this next time around.

kniz
01-15-2004, 05:19 PM
Funny you should mention Lay, since Andrew Fastow and his wife recently copped a guilty plea (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2004/nf20040115_1433_db035.htm) under which they will cooperate with prosecutors. That means the prosecution of Lay and Skilling are moving ahead, since a big part of reeling in the big fishes is making the little fishes start talking. In a complicated case like Enron, these things take time. The fact that it's taken awhile doesn't mean criminal charges aren't eventually forthcoming.
Excellent point, including that about Gates. I would hate to be Ken Lay or Skelling just waiting for that knock on the door and knowing that I didn't have anyone to roll-over on to get a reduction in charges or sentencing. Martha is another good example.

fruitbat also made some excellent points, especially considering s/he is not a supporter of Bush.

ElvisL1ves
01-15-2004, 06:23 PM
His pledge of $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa was surprising and made him the first President to allocate significant money to a disease that threatens to destroy Africa. ..
His recent initiative to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants was a tough political stance to defend against criticism from his own party and took courage. ..
His Mars initiative, though much mocked, is welcome in my corner...
Finally, I believe in free trade. I believe in it almost without condition.The things you've given him credit for are all words so far, with no followup and no tangible results. That hasn't taken any courage or even the spending of any political capital. Not everything you've given him credit for simply saying is even right - AIDS was getting attention before and much of the money he said almost 3 years ago that he'd spend on it would have been simply transferred from other humanitarian budgets. For anyone who believes in free trade, his actions on steel and grain are, shall we say, odd.

I don't mourn the loss of manufacturing jobs when they can be performed more efficiently overseas.It isn't that simple; manufacturing has a tremendous multiplier factor in both jobs and new technologies that are lost along with the jobs themselves, but you're generally right; free trade is better than protectionism.

He is however, a hell of a lot better than Gephardt and Kucinich with their naive and pandering views on free trade.And that might matter if either man had a snowball's chance of getting the nomination, or if either's views reflected the moderate mainstream that is the core of the Democratic party.


So what has Bush done (not just said) that he gets credit for? The subjugation of the Taliban, as far as it went and as temporary as it may turn out to be, was necessary and he did it. What else? I dunno. A nearly-apolitical co-worker puts it: "All I know is, as soon as he came in, everything turned to shit."

jshore
01-15-2004, 06:30 PM
Not if Joe lives in CA (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=235110). You and I went at it awhile back about whether the Feds should align the Fed tax structure with the states or vice versa. I don't think there's much point in rehashing that-- I'm very comfortable with the idea that it's incumbent on the states to follow in this area. But if you're game, so am I...


Well, if Bush wants the states to adopt a more progressive taxation system, then I am sure he could use the bully-pulpit of the Presidency to make that happen. And, of course, if he gave the states sufficient funds to deal with the increased mandates due to security and other things, the states may not be forced to raise taxes or propose a bond act to just postpone the issue.

The fact is that the net effect of the Bush tax cuts is going to be (or already is to a large degree) a transfer of tax burden from the rich to the poor and middle class. You can argue 'til you are blue in the face that this is not Bush's fault and blah-blah-blah. But, that is simply what is going to happen when you cut the most progressive taxes hitting people in a pretty neutral way. One has to live in the real world where policies have consequences...Not in some la-la land where in theory the states could restructure all of their tax systems to be more progressive and money could fall from the sky to help them pay for greater security and education mandates, etc., etc.

It's not like these people in the Administration are stupid and have no idea what they are doing. They know damn well what they are doing (at least some in the Administration); they simply can't be complete idiots. And, they are doing it out of ideology...The same sort of ideology that leads the WSJ editorial page to whine about the "lucky duckies" who don't pay federal income tax because they are too poor to and to whine about the increasing share of the federal tax burden borne by the richest 1% (without bothering to note that the reason this share has increased is because their share of the income has increased even more rapidly).

rjung
01-15-2004, 06:36 PM
Funny you should mention Lay, since Andrew Fastow and his wife recently copped a guilty plea (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2004/nf20040115_1433_db035.htm) under which they will cooperate with prosecutors. That means the prosecution of Lay and Skilling are moving ahead, since a big part of reeling in the big fishes is making the little fishes start talking. In a complicated case like Enron, these things take time. The fact that it's taken awhile doesn't mean criminal charges aren't eventually forthcoming.
I'd like to say you're right, because I think a big part of California's energy and financial crisis can be laid on Enron's doorsteps, but at the moment, the layman's view of the matter is that George's pal "Kenny boy" is getting away scott-free. Meanwhile, other corporate crooks like Martha Stewart get trussed up and plastered on the front page of the newspapers lickety-split. Why can't the same efficiency be applied to folks who are pals of the Pres?

As for Gates, one wonders what the fuck you're talking about. I assume you're referring to the antitrust case, which is stupid -- even if you believe every last tidbit of the government's case against Microsoft, Gates himself isn't criminally liable for anything.
Sure, but "Microsoft and Ken Lay" doesn't scan as well, being two dissimilar nouns. :)

In any event, we're still left with the glaring notion that a convicted monopolist is getting off the hook with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and plays into the overall impression that the Bush Administration is more interested in shielding George's billionare friends instead of taking care of the average citizen.

fruitbat
01-15-2004, 09:19 PM
The things you've given him credit for are all words so far, with no followup and no tangible results. That hasn't taken any courage or even the spending of any political capital.

I will grant that I am stretching here. Not being a Bush supporter and all, this is difficult for me. I would disagree by saying that words can use up political capital. I think we would all agree that if Bush said he supported gay marriage, even if he did nothing to further the aim, he would use vast reserves of political capital. Drawing the nation's attention to problems in Africa uses his bully pulpit in a way I frankly did not expect.
For anyone who believes in free trade, his actions on steel and grain are, shall we say, odd.
I certainly agree, and find his actions deplorable. The Democrat contenders might just be far worse. Kucinich is certainly a non-entity, but Gephardt is an important figure in the party. I wouldn't trust him to balance my checkbook. I would argue that Bush's positions on trade are less protectionist than most of the Democratic candidates. No candidate is perfect.

Bush's actual achievements are pretty ephemeral. His vanquishing of the Taliban was efficiently done, but does little to distinguish him. Any President would have been forced to take the same actions. On the tax front, his gradual elimination of the marriage penalties and some of his capital gains and dividend tax cuts made sense from a fairness point of view.

Finally, his amnesty for illegal aliens required an actual action that made a difference in millions of lives. Recently I feel like he is campaigning in some alternate universe. I can't imagine he is solidifying his base by promising Mars and bringing illegal aliens into the mainstream. I have warmed to him recently because these actions don't carry the stench on pandering and political maneuvering.

As a resident of Washington DC, my vote doesn't much matter anway. I have the luxury of voting for a third party if I don't like either of my two principal choices. That seems like the most likely course at this point.

Apos
01-15-2004, 10:44 PM
It's a crazy world where this would be true, but Bush and the Republicans are now officially the party of big government spending. Under their watch, spending has gone up at a higher rate (it actually went down under the Clinton/Republican House combo). It's gone up in defense and on entitlements, but even if you write those off as necessary and inevitable, it's still gone up. Nationally, Republican legislatures outspend Democratic ones (though not by a very high factor). You might make a case that Democrats would spend more, and that certainly seems to be the proposal of the Dem candidates (though how much they promise and what they actually deliver are two different things). But the fact is that under Clinton and a more Democratic Congress, far less was spent than has been spent under Bush and the Republican dominated Congress.

I think, basically, it boils down to the fact that the Republicans really are the party of the rich and well connected, and have a lot more expensive pork to be payed back.

Apos
01-15-2004, 10:47 PM
I can't imagine he is solidifying his base by promising Mars and bringing illegal aliens into the mainstream. I have warmed to him recently because these actions don't carry the stench on pandering and political maneuvering.

In both cases, these things are likely to bring in key votes without losing him too much elsewhere. If you don't think those two moves were political, you haven't been paying attention.

jshore
01-15-2004, 10:59 PM
I think we would all agree that if Bush said he supported gay marriage, even if he did nothing to further the aim, he would use vast reserves of political capital. Drawing the nation's attention to problems in Africa uses his bully pulpit in a way I frankly did not expect.


Yes, but there is a vast difference between him saying he'd support gay marriage and him saying he's against AIDs. The first would alienate a lot of his base. The latter won't alienate very many people except a few real loonies. And, it makes him look good to the general public. That is what this President is all about...talking a good moderate game to appease people who don't notice that how extremist many of his policies are. I mean this President is wonderful if you just listen to his words...He is concerned about climate change, he wants to make the skies clearer and the forests healthier, etc., etc. It's just when you look behind the words to the policies that things really start to suck!

We're living in an Orwellian world these days. You can't just look at what is being said and take comfort in it unless you feel that ignorance is bliss!

Brutus
01-16-2004, 12:15 AM
Yes, but there is a vast difference between him saying he'd support gay marriage and him saying he's against AIDs. The first would alienate a lot of his base. The latter won't alienate very many people except a few real loonies. And, it makes him look good to the general public. That is what this President is all about...talking a good moderate game to appease people who don't notice that how extremist many of his policies are...

Extremist policies such as...? If 'many' of his policies are extremist, I am sure you will not have trouble pointing out one?

GW launches an initiative to fight AIDS in Africa? He must be robbing other programs to accomplish that! Sure, you don't actually have a cite for that, but gut feelings should be enough in GD! Dot.com bubble burst? Bush's cronies in action! Hey, who cares that it happened under Clinton's watch? California enacts moronic legislation that cripples its energy sector? Holy poop! The fell hand of GW flipped out the lights in Cali! :rolleyes:

You guys are going through more contortions than the Cirque de Soleil in your efforts (weak though they be) to attack this administration.

scotandrsn
01-16-2004, 12:27 AM
Joe has a few hard-core Dem friends. He really gets turned off by shrill comments like "America is going down the tubes" and "Bush is just like Hitler". Joe has a good job. He's proud of America and thinks we are a force for good in the world. All this screaming by his friends affects him on an emotional level and tends to reflect poorly on the Democratic candidates.

And, believe it or not, he has this one friend who keeps saying "Shrub stole the last election". Can you believe it? Can you believe there are people who are that patisan? Joe wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't heard it with his own ears.

Actually, Joe has at least a 1 in 30 chance of having no sort of job whatsoever these days (11mil out of work divided by a population of 290mil). He has lots of time to read, and realizes that Bush is crowing about his ability to get things from horrible to better-but-still-nowhere-as-good-as-he-found-them.
It reminds him of the way Bush boasted about his ability to get Texas schools from the bottom 5% in the nation to the bottom 10%. He has time to remember that we still haven't found the man who masterminded the worst attack on our country, and wonders why we should be satisfied with overthrowing only one of several dozen dictators throughout the world who collectively have had zero effect on our safety. He begins to wonder why he should back a man who is so proud of his ability to underachieve.

His minute tax refund is long gone, and the bills still aren't paid. There are no jobs available that will pay the bills, and the president has just announced he plans to bring several million people who crossed the border illegally out of hiding to drive wages down even farther.

He is not partisan. He is not out to "get" Bush. He just wants someone in office who will represent his needs. While he may not find a Dem who fits the bill, he's have to have a pretty sorry excuse for a brain to think that Bush is suddenly going to look out for him when he has failed to do so for three years.

John Mace
01-16-2004, 01:45 AM
Actually, Joe has at least a 1 in 30 chance of having no sort of job whatsoever these days (11mil out of work divided by a population of 290mil).

Is that supposed to be scary? 1 in 30 turns out to be under 4% unemployment. That is extremely low by historicial standards in the US. Do you even know what you are talking about? How many years have there been out of the last 25 when the unemployment rate has been less than 1/30? Go here (http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet) and set the timeframe for the past 25 years. It looks like there was a brief moment once (in early 2000) when the unemployment rate was < 4%.

ElvisL1ves
01-16-2004, 09:35 AM
No point here, just a chuckle over seeing "Mars" and "alien immigration" in the same sentences.

We gotta keep the damn greenies out or they'll take all our jobs.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
01-16-2004, 10:14 AM
I'd like to say you're right, because I think a big part of California's energy and financial crisis can be laid on Enron's doorsteps, but at the moment, the layman's view of the matter is that George's pal "Kenny boy" is getting away scott-free. Then the layman's view of things is idiotic. What would you have the DOJ do? Summary executions? As long as the accused has pesky little advantages like the presumption of innocence, a right to a jury trial, and a right to confront his accusers, prosecutors will have to be sure they can marshall an airtight case to secure a conviction. In a case like Enron, involving highly technical accounting and finance issues, that will take time. There's simply no way around that. We are not a society founded on frontier justice. Meanwhile, other corporate crooks like Martha Stewart get trussed up and plastered on the front page of the newspapers lickety-split. Why can't the same efficiency be applied to folks who are pals of the Pres?Because the case against Martha involves a substantially simpler set of facts than does the Enron affair. Comparing building a case against Stewart to building a case agaist Lay is a little like comparing building a soap box derby racer to building an Indy 500 car. In any event, we're still left with the glaring notion that a convicted monopolist is getting off the hook with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and plays into the overall impression that the Bush Administration is more interested in shielding George's billionare friends instead of taking care of the average citizen.The direction and outcome of the Microsoft case and its attendant settlement are consistent with past antitrust actions taken by the government. I do wonder, however, just exactly how familiar you are with the case, and in what way exactly you think that Microsoft is getting off easily.

(The case itself is largely absurd, but that's another argument entirely).

jshore
01-16-2004, 11:25 AM
Extremist policies such as...? If 'many' of his policies are extremist, I am sure you will not have trouble pointing out one?

Why should I stop at one? Here (http://www.nrdc.org/bushrecord/default.asp), courtesy of the NRDC, is a summary of the Bush record on the environment. You can read all about the weakening of the clean air act, the "healthy forests initiative", the misguided energy policy, etc., etc. On global warming, Bush has done basically nothing and has bad-mouthed hard-working people within his own executive branch when he derisively said that he had read the report put out by the bureaucracy (a statement that turned out not to be true anyway since he had only been briefed on it...He hadn't read it.)

Here (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A26554-2002Sep16?language=printer) and here (http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/gr060201.html) are stories about what Bush has been doing to stack scientific committees that advise the government.

Then, of course, there is the extemism on tax cuts that is creating a fiscal disaster and leading even former advisors like Paul O'Neill to believe things have gotten excessive.

I'm sure we can come up with many other examples if we think about it.


GW launches an initiative to fight AIDS in Africa? He must be robbing other programs to accomplish that!
Sure, you don't actually have a cite for that, but gut feelings should be enough in GD!

Well, there appear to be two issues concerning the AIDS funding, one being that he hasn't fully funded his own initiative and the other being proposed cuts to other international public health and relief programs. I haven't followed this issue that closely but here (http://www.aegis.com/news/lt/2003/LT030707.html) and here (http://www.hivdent.org/publicp/ppBSBABF062003.htm) are a couple of links to get you started.

I would say that overall the AIDS funding is actually one of the brighter spots in this administration. Still, if you compare this sort of money to the amount being spent on the Iraq war (or the amount of the tax cuts or ...), you can see that we are not talking very large amounts here.


Dot.com bubble burst? Bush's cronies in action! Hey, who cares that it happened under Clinton's watch?

Well, Ken Lay was a friend of Bush and a big contributor. But, hey, I will admit that there is enough blame to go around here. It was bipartisan crony capitalism at its best!


California enacts moronic legislation that cripples its energy sector? Holy poop! The fell hand of GW flipped out the lights in Cali! :rolleyes:

Well, if you start making up claims that haven't been made here as far as I can see then you can come up with things that might sound silly. A few notes though:

(1) Claims were made by conservatives that the problems in California were due to insufficient investment in new energy plants and that this was the fault of environmentalists. These claims were wrong on a variety of different levels but that did not stop them from being made. [I don't recall exactly how far people within the Administration went in making these claims but they certainly did use California as an example of why we need to step up production of fossil fuels.]

(2) While the legislation may have been bad, it was bad because it allowed (not in a legal sense but in a practical sense) companies to "game" the system. The fact that the companies then took advantage of this means they are largely to blame too.

Hammer
01-16-2004, 12:49 PM
Anybody know or have a cite for who "Joe" really is? That would really help frame the discussion. I'm mostly see the same ole arguements for and against. Give that we have identified him is as Joe I guess we can assume sex is male? How old? Where does he live? What party affiliation? What race? I can make some decent assumptions but if there is a real statisical basis for "Joe" that would help. I really think people here are too plugged in to identify with Joe and what may or may not motivate him to vote for Bush.

So What?
White
Male
45ish
Employed
High school Grad
30/60 minutes of News a day (all forms)
North East
Married
2.2 Kids

pervert
01-16-2004, 03:15 PM
Here (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A26554-2002Sep16?language=printer) storie[s] about what Bush has been doing to stack scientific committees that advise the government.
I didn't go into all of your cites (you do like to shotgun them don't you ;)). But I did want to comment on this paragraph from this one.

[i]A third committee, which had been assessing the effects of environmental chemicals on human health, has been told that nearly all of its members will be replaced -- in several instances by people with links to the industries that make those chemicals. One new member is a California scientist who helped defend Pacific Gas and Electric Co. against the real-life Erin Brockovich.

To which I say: "Good!" Someone has to do something about this sort of bad science. It has always seemed odd to me that "scientists with links to industry" are somehow disqualified while scientists who cannot get industry jobs are deified. I actually owe you a debt of grattitude. My suport for Bush had been flagging. After reading this, he gets my vote.


As far as Joe is concerned, he might feel as I do that many of the environmental laws have gone a bit overboard. While I'm sure he does not want to scrap them entirely, I'm also sure that he is not taken in by the rhetoric of the NRDC that "Americans voted for many things in November, but they didn't vote for a sweeping attack on the environment." I'm sure that he does not feel the need to identify with the hyperbole that Bush's policies amount to an attack on the environment.From here. (http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressReleases/030116.asp)
I only looked into their claims about wet land reclamation because I am aware of some abuses of this environmental law. Their objections seem to center around the idea that Bush wants to focus on replacing wetland function instead of merely acreage. I'm not sure at all that this is such a extremist position. Especially since the "Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act, National Academy of Sciences, 2001, and Wetlands Protection: Assessments Needed to Determine Effectiveness of In-Lieu-Fee Mitigation, General Accounting Office, May 2001" which they cite as supporting thier position seems to agree partly with the president (I could only get summaries of the report without paying) that accounting for function is important as well as acreage.

kwildcat
01-16-2004, 03:52 PM
My compliments to Brutus and Mace for so eloquently toeing the Bush apologists' party line, most especially with regard to the current economic condition of the U.S. and the (un)employment rate. Basically what they have said (and I have no reason to dispute the statistics John Mace cited), is "historically speaking, things were a lot worse, so things right now really aren't so bad."

I cannot tell you how delighted the aforementioned Joe Public will be to learn that the measuring stick for the highest elected office in the land, not to mention the most powerful individual on the face of the earth, is to not fuck up quite as badly as some of the really bad presidents. "Well, Joe, look at it this way - only two men raped your wife. Coulda been three!"

What the administration apologists so conspicuously neglect in their rush to provide "context" to today's unemployment numbers and GDP rates is that the net conditions that exist today are still definitively worse than they were at the beginning of this administration. If Joe Public is sufficiently nuanced to disassociate this downturn from Dubya because "the President, and the government, doesn't really have the ability to affect the economy", then Joe will likely base his choice on either social policy or some more visceral basis, like "character" or "patriotism" or even "lesser of two evils".

If Joe Public believes that the goal of each generation is to leave his children in better shape than him, then there's little chance he would choose Dubya, and for the simple, unadorned, nonpartisan reason that the public policy of the administration has not and will not foster that goal.

kwildcat
01-16-2004, 04:05 PM
Minor aside for Pervert - I don't expect to ever again read foolishness like "scientists that can't get industry jobs". A patent lie. In one of the hottest regions of pharmaceutical and biomanufacturing in the world, Research Triangle Park, NC (Merck, Biogen, Syngenta, Lilly, Glaxo, ad nauseum), the overwhelming majority of senior researchers in the industry do their "residency", if you will, in either academia or government service. Much like a politician may start in local city council or county government, then with experience and credibility be able to move up the ladder to nationally elected office, so a college postdoc may begin an academic career, and if he/she chooses, try to trade that expertise and experience for the $$ available in private industry.

The whole thing is cyclical, NOT a heirarchy. A significant number of industry scientists will likewise choose at the ends of their careers to return to the less stressful climes of academia, just like a professional athlete might retire from playing and become a coach.

Any inference that the minds and research in academia is inferior to that in industry is an ignorant falsehood. You cannot have the one without the other. If academia does not produce qualified scientists, then industry fails.

pervert
01-16-2004, 04:30 PM
Minor aside for Pervert - I don't expect to ever again read foolishness like "scientists that can't get industry jobs". A patent lie.

[...]

Any inference that the minds and research in academia is inferior to that in industry is an ignorant falsehood. You cannot have the one without the other. If academia does not produce qualified scientists, then industry fails.?This is not what I meant at all. After re reading my post, I can see how it could be interpreted that way. So let me explain a little. I was only trying to object to the opposite lie to the one you point out. I was not trying to suggest that academian research is worthless. Only trying to counter the equally silly notion that industry research is worthless. Specifically the cite provided by jshore complained about Bush changing some scientific commitees partly because some of the new scientists had "ties to industries". I object to this sort of thing for reasons similar to the ones you complained at me about. Apperently I let my passion about the subject get the better of me.

So, for the record, I do not ascribe scientific validity to independant, industry affiliated, nor activist affiliated research. I tend to prefer to judge such things on their merits (to the best of my abilities anyway).

Anyone who took my earlier comment to indict all academic research, I appologize.

netscape 6
01-16-2004, 04:36 PM
To which I say: "Good!" Someone has to do something about this sort of bad science. It has always seemed odd to me that "scientists with links to industry" are somehow disqualified while scientists who cannot get industry jobs are deified. I actually owe you a debt of grattitude. My suport for Bush had been flagging. After reading this, he gets my vote.



You sound like industry jobs are somehow better then goverment jobs. I would say goverment jobs are usually better as goverment scientist usually get to do unbiased science, indeed I would say anything biased is not science but propaganda.


Tell me Sammy scientist who works for Exxon is going to do unbiased work about automobiles and global warming.

Lissa
01-16-2004, 06:13 PM
I was not trying to suggest that academian research is worthless. Only trying to counter the equally silly notion that industry research is worthless.

<snip>

So, for the record, I do not ascribe scientific validity to independant, industry affiliated, nor activist affiliated research. I tend to prefer to judge such things on their merits (to the best of my abilities anyway).



I have to ask this question: do you believe that it's possible that scientists with financial ties to companies are more likely to be biased in favor of their employer?

I don't believe anyone would claim that industry research is worthless. Even the most poorly-done study may have the merit of inducing another scientist to study the issue, if only to debunk the previous findings.

I thought this (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0425-01.htm) was an interesting article on the subject:

Dr. Blumenthal, who studies the ties between academia and industry, said that scientists who failed to report conflicts generally "believe that they are people of integrity, and they feel they can separate their work from their financial interests."

But research suggests otherwise, Dr. Blumenthal said. Studies have found that scientists with financial ties to the companies whose products they study are more likely to write favorably about those products.

This (http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/lift_the_veil_intro.pdf) paper from
Center for Science in the Public Interest was also pretty interesting: (PDF)

In 2003, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a small professional association, accepted $1 million from Coca-Cola. The academy became a laughing stock when the public (and its members) learned of the deal—imagine, an organization ostensibly concerned about children’s teeth taking money from arguably the world’s biggest producer of sugary foods. But the situation got worse when AAPD President David Curtis defended his group. He stated: “Scientific evidence is certainly not clear on the exact role that soft drinks play in terms of children's oral disease.”

Also:

Another such organization is the International Society for Regulatory
Toxicology and Pharmacology (ISRTP), which serves to “inform and educate
scientists, policy makers, the media and the public about the scientific issues
affecting the regulatory process.” ISRTP publishes the scientific journal
Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise one that its sponsors include Dow AgroSciences, Eastman Kodak, Gillette, Merck, Procter and Gamble, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, and other corporations that have an interest in weakening government regulations of toxic chemicals. The journal’s editorial board is dominated by industry lawyers and scientists who consult for industry. In one egregious episode, the journal’s editor was paid $30,000 by the tobacco industry to write a paper—which was published in the journal—downplaying the risks of second-hand smoke.

While I wouldn't necessarily dismiss the findings of industry-related scientists out-of-hand, I'd certainly put more faith in a research group which doesn't have financial ties to the company/product they are studying.

pervert
01-16-2004, 06:42 PM
I realize this is a hijack, so I will only add 1 other post on this here.
While I wouldn't necessarily dismiss the findings of industry-related scientists out-of-hand, I'd certainly put more faith in a research group which doesn't have financial ties to the company/product they are studying.But this is harder to determine than you think. Re read the Blumenthal article you cited and realize that he does not even mention the possibility that Scientist might get money from activist groups. Specifically they might get financing from groups which are enemies of "he company/product they are studying."

This is exactly the attitude I was talking about. Look at the quote you included from Blumenthal and ask "more likely than who?". More likely than scientist with ties to regulatory agencies? More likely than scientist with ties to activists who favor heavy regulation? Or, only more likely than scientists who do not have ties to the industry in question?

Again, I am not trying to say that industry scientists are more likely to be honest than "non industry" scientists. I am merely saying that Political influence of science occurs accross the board. It happens to govenrment scientist (when for favoring popular or politically useful ideas), to activist scientists (when they get funding for proving the activist's case), and it happens to industry scientist (when they prove that their employers are not so bad). Sometimes these associations are irrelevant. That is research favorable to those who pay for it does not always imply false research. But sometimes it does. I agree that such associations are circumstantial proof of a motive. But it is hardly proof of invalidity. However, that is how it is commonly viewed.

OK, I'm done with this hijack.

jshore
01-17-2004, 10:39 AM
To which I say: "Good!" Someone has to do something about this sort of bad science. It has always seemed odd to me that "scientists with links to industry" are somehow disqualified while scientists who cannot get industry jobs are deified.

People have already responded to your "scientists who cannot get industry jobs" comment and you have clarified it...But, I will add a personal comment: As a scientist working in industry, I can safely say that it was much easier for me to get this industry job than an academic one. My 1 application to industry landed me a job at what is almost certainly amongst the top 20 industrial research laboratories in the country. My 50 applications to academia led me to one job interview (and possibly a job...I accepted the industry job before they decided) at a quite obscure academic institution. Obviously, such anecdotal evidence does not provide great statistics but I know others who did a more extensive search in industry and the several job offers they got were like manna from heaven after their job search in academia had made them feel that thier talents were not needed. Admittedly, this may be a function of time...I was in the market at a time when the economy was pretty good but the academic job market was not and the story might be quite different these days. However, I have never in physics heard of a market where academic jobs were thought of as consolation prizes for those who can't get into industry!

As for the issue of the committees, note that the quote you cited says that nearly all the committee members will be replaced and that "many" of them have direct ties to the industries that make the chemicals. We are not, as far as I can tell, talking about balance here...We are not talking about committees that were previously stacked with scientists with links to NRDC and Sierra Club. Historically, these committees have managed to be kept pretty much out of the political process with appointments made mainly on the basis of scientific credentials. There is strong evidence that the Bush Administration is making these appointments much more on the basis of holding the right connections and ideology. When you say "Someone has to do something about this sort of bad science," what evidence do you have that this committee was previously doing bad science?

Actually, here (http://www.house.gov/reform/min/politicsandscience/) is a site prepared by Democratic Senator Henry Waxman concerning science in the Bush Administration. Sure it is a partisan site but some of the basic points have been endorsed, for example, in an editorial in Nature [Vol 424, p. 861 (Aug 21, 2003)], which along with Science are almost certaionly the two most prestigious multidisciplinary science journals in the world. The title of the editorial was "No way to run a superpower" and the last paragraph reads "On major policy issues such as global warming, ballistic-missile defence and stem-cell research, Bush committed early on to an ideologically driven approach and has stuck to it. In an age when science pervades so many aspects of government, this is a remarkable, and remarkably ill-judged, approach t setting policy." It was written just after the release of the full report (http://www.house.gov/reform/min/politicsandscience/report.htm) that Waxman put out and while it doesn't accept the report uncritically, it notes that it deserves to be taken seriously and its points responded to but that so far the Administration had not taken it seriously at all but had summarily dismissed it by saying Waxman was just "playing politics".

By the way, fortunately the federal courts have been increasingly blocking Bush environmental rule changes on the basis of them flauting either the rule-making process or the science. Here (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/tnt.html?tntget=2004/01/17/opinion/17SAT5.html&tntemail1) is a New York Times editorial on the latest example, rules regarding efficiency standards for air conditioners.

jshore
01-17-2004, 10:48 AM
I only looked into their claims about wet land reclamation because I am aware of some abuses of this environmental law. Their objections seem to center around the idea that Bush wants to focus on replacing wetland function instead of merely acreage. I'm not sure at all that this is such a extremist position. Especially since the "Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act, National Academy of Sciences, 2001, and Wetlands Protection: Assessments Needed to Determine Effectiveness of In-Lieu-Fee Mitigation, General Accounting Office, May 2001" which they cite as supporting thier position seems to agree partly with the president (I could only get summaries of the report without paying) that accounting for function is important as well as acreage.

By the way, I haven't had a chance to investiage this wetlands issue you raised but I did want to point out that you can usually read for free the full reports from the National Academies online and this one is no exception: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309074320/html/ The full GAO report also appears to be available as an online PDF (warning: pretty big file) here (http://www.mitigationbanking.org/PDFs/Research2.pdf).

jshore
01-17-2004, 11:25 AM
It was written just after the release of the full report (http://www.house.gov/reform/min/politicsandscience/report.htm) that Waxman put out and while it doesn't accept the report uncritically, it notes that it deserves to be taken seriously and its points responded to but that so far the Administration had not taken it seriously at all but had summarily dismissed it by saying Waxman was just "playing politics".

I did a search both in google and at WhiteHouse.gov to see if there has been any response to the Waxman report and didn't manage to turn up anything. Others can try and see if they have any more luck. I highly recommend the report. It makes pretty chilling reading. Here are a couple examples:


Opposing Qualified Experts. The Department of Health and Human
Services rejected a widely respected expert’s nomination to a grant review
panel on workplace safety after it became clear that she supported rules to
protect workers from musculoskeletal injuries, rules that the Bush Administration opposes. The head of the panel called the rejection “directly opposed to the philosophy of peer review, which is supposed to be nonpolitical and transparent.”



Unqualified Persons with Ideological Agendas. The Department of Health and Human Services nominated as chair of the FDA’s Reproductive Health Drug Advisory Committee an anti-abortion activist who recommends that women read the bible for relief of premenstrual symptoms. The appointee’s principal credential appears to be his opposition to the abortifacient RU-486. The medical journal Lancet described his scientific record as “sparse” and wrote that “[a]ny further right-wing incursions on expert panels’ membership will cause a terminal decline in public trust in the advice of scientists.”


Suppressing Agency Reports. After the White House edited a discussion of global warming in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Draft Report on the Environment, agency scientists objected that the draft “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change,” and EPA chose to eliminate the discussion entirely. A former EPA Administrator in the Nixon and Ford Administrations commented, “I can state categorically that there was never such White House intrusion into the business of the E.PA. during my tenure.”

jshore
01-17-2004, 03:35 PM
Sure it is a partisan site but some of the basic points have been endorsed, for example, in an editorial in Nature [Vol 424, p. 861 (Aug 21, 2003)], which along with Science are almost certaionly the two most prestigious multidisciplinary science journals in the world...

Lest I leave people with the impression that it is only the editors of the British journal Nature who have taken the Bush Administration to task for its politicization of science, I'll add that the Editor-in-Chief of Science has also weighed in strongly on this point in an editorial titled "Epidemic of Politics":


Americans have come to accept the role of politics in the appointment of certain kinds of public officials. Few of us are surprised, though some may be disappointed, when a federal judgeship is awarded because the candidate passes a litmus test of loyalty to some principle important to the president's party. Scientific appointments, however, should rest on more objective criteria of training, ability, and performance--at least, that's what this community has always believed. Thus we can view with relative calm the interrogation of a future secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) about his views on abortion. But it seems out of place when appointees to scientific advisory committees are subjected to tests of political loyalty. And study section membership, which involves peer review of scientific proposals, surely ought to be free of such barriers to entry.

...

The present epidemic, in which advisory committees are shut down and reassembled with new members, and candidates are subjected to loyalty tests, seems old hat to some observers. "After all, that's fairly standard practice," we have been told by officials in HHS. Well, it isn't--or at least it wasn't. What's unusual about the current epidemic is not that the Bush administration examines candidates for compatibility with its "values." It's how deep the practice cuts; in particular, the way it now invades areas once immune to this kind of manipulation.

...

This stuff would be prime material for a Robin Williams comedy shtick, but it really isn't funny. The purpose of advisory committees is to provide balanced, thoughtful advice to the policy process; it is better not to put the policy up front. As for study sections, deciding which research projects to support has always been a matter for objective peer review. Political preferences are for the pork barrel, and the Congress is already doing too much of that. Indeed, the applicable statute for all this--the Federal Advisory Committee Act--specifically requires that committees be balanced and "not inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority." It would be a good idea for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and the White House Personnel Office to read the law, and then follow it.


[See the full editorial for the paragraphs of examples which I have left out here. By the way, the in-print citation for this is Science, Vol. 299, p. 625 (Jan 31, 2003).]

Evil Captor
01-17-2004, 06:13 PM
As long as the accused has pesky little advantages like the presumption of innocence, a right to a jury trial, and a right to confront his accusers, prosecutors will have to be sure they can marshall an airtight case to secure a conviction. In a case like Enron, involving highly technical accounting and finance issues, that will take time. There's simply no way around that. We are not a society founded on frontier justice. Because the case against Martha involves a substantially simpler set of facts than does the Enron affair.

I think the real advantage that both Lay and Stewart have here is MILLIONS of DOLLARS. Seems to be the biggest advantage a defendant can have, under our present system.

XT
01-17-2004, 06:25 PM
When (and in what society, ever) WASN'T it an advantage to be rich or powerful or both? Human nature, no? Reality check time...

-XT

Quint Essence
01-17-2004, 09:12 PM
The intentional ignorance of some republicans is absolutly astounding and entirely embarassing to patriotic americans everywhere.
Open your eyes and read for christ's sake. The information is out there and easy to find. How can you idiots be so freaking blind?!?!?!

fruitbat
01-17-2004, 09:29 PM
Well, Quint I could prepare a pithy response to that if I had any idea to what you were referring . Space? Environmentalism? Wombats?

Squink
01-17-2004, 11:17 PM
Well, Quint I could prepare a pithy response to that if I had any idea to what you were referring. Space? Environmentalism? Wombats? Tasmanian Bush Bash over Wombat (http://www.themercury.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,8422515%255E921,00.html) control.

Rashak Mani
01-18-2004, 12:52 AM
When (and in what society, ever) WASN'T it an advantage to be rich or powerful or both? Human nature, no? Reality check time...

-XT
Jews in the beggining of Nazi Germany ? Well at least the rich part.

pervert
01-18-2004, 02:27 PM
First I need to inlcude a disclaimer. I am NOT saying that the candidates under consideration were the best qualified for the job. I am NOT saying that inudstry science or industry scientists are better than others. I am only trying to make a point about what exactly constitutes independant science.
Also, I should note I have not in fact read all of the reports jshore linked to. I am primarily responding to the quotes he included and the conclusions drawn from them.
Opposing Qualified Experts. On this one, I'd just like to question the propriety of claiming that it is unfair to refuse someone because they are predisposed to a certain position. If she is to help grant money to researchers, is it not prudent to question her political bias towards the outcome of such research? I'm not sure this example qualifies as a gross breach of peer review ethics.


Unqualified Persons with Ideological Agendas.I have to object to this characterization as well. What exactly is wrong with recomending reading the bible? I don't recomend it, but It seems to me they are putting some statement or other regarding the bible by this candidate as evidence of scientific unfitness. I doubt very much if he said that science proves bible reading reduces menstral cramps. If he had, I'm sure that would have been in the quote. And yet, they seem to be attacking him as if he had said this.

Clearly there may be more information about these candidates in the report. There may even be more examples, possibly even better ones. I have a couple questions. As you read the report, how many scientific candidates are questioned because of bad science and how many simply on the basis that:

They believe in god;
They were not liberally predisposed;
They were linked to industry.

Specifically, I question how many were opposed because they did bad science. I would also be curious to find out how many such candidates previous administration placed on such advisory boards.

Again, I am certainly not saying that we should only nominate religious or industry scientists. I don't mean that at all. But if we are going to claim that independance, political nuetrality, and balanced representation of opinions are important to such panels, then we have to drop requirements which imply that such things automatically eliminate candidates from consideration.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
01-18-2004, 03:49 PM
I think the real advantage that both Lay and Stewart have here is MILLIONS of DOLLARS. Seems to be the biggest advantage a defendant can have, under our present system.Maybe so, but that's an entirely different thing than what rjung was claiming. The fact that Lay and Stewart can afford good attorneys capable of slowing down prosecutors has fuck-all to do with the Bush administration.

Furthermore, it's absurd to compare the Stewart case to the Enron case. The latter is more complex by several orders of magnitude. It is therefore unsurprising that it would move slower.

jshore
01-19-2004, 09:00 AM
I have to object to this characterization as well. What exactly is wrong with recomending reading the bible? I don't recomend it, but It seems to me they are putting some statement or other regarding the bible by this candidate as evidence of scientific unfitness. I doubt very much if he said that science proves bible reading reduces menstral cramps. If he had, I'm sure that would have been in the quote. And yet, they seem to be attacking him as if he had said this.

Well, you are quoting only part of the facts against him. It is also noted that by Lancet that he has a sparse publication record. Indeed, his "qualification" appears to be that he is an anti-abortion activist. And, I personally do not think it is appropriate for a medical professional to recommend reading the bible for relief of a medical condition in almost any context. You don't go to doctors for that type of advice; you go to your minister or whatever. I suppose if he said it in a more ecumenical context, e.g., that if you subscribe to a religious faith then that faith may help you in times of pain, that would be one thing ... But, apparently (it is hard to know the exact context), he recommended a specific religious text...the Bible...which sounds like proselytizing to me. I don't know about you, but I don't turn to medical professionals for religious indoctrination.


As you read the report, how many scientific candidates are questioned because of bad science and how many simply on the basis that:

They believe in god;
They were not liberally predisposed;
They were linked to industry.

Specifically, I question how many were opposed because they did bad science. I would also be curious to find out how many such candidates previous administration placed on such advisory boards.

Come on, pervert, you're being kind of silly here. These peoples' qualifications are not being questioned just because they believe in god, or are not liberal, or work for industry. The point is that they are apparently being chosen for these positions in the first place because of these credentials and not because of their scientific credentials. [For one thing, I don't see why Democrats, most of who profess religious faith...I don't know about Waxman in particular...are going to be against someone because they believe in god.]

You have the editors of Nature saying that the Waxman report raises serious charges, by a serious person, and that they deserve to be taken seriously and responded to by the Administration. And, you have an Administration that had refused to give a serious response to them at the time that editorial went to press and to my knowledge has still not responded to them. (The editorial does not say they know Waxman's charges to be correct but they do indict the Administration for pursuing an ideological-driven approach on major policy issues involving science, such as global warming, missile defense, and stem-cell research.)

You have the Editor-in-Chief of Science (who, by the way, wrote that editorial several months before the Waxman report so he didn't get his evidence from there...in fact, the Waman report references this editorial) saying that what is happening is unprecedented and even unlawful.

And, according to the Waxman report, you have got a former EPA Administrator saying that the sort of White House interference with the section on global warming in the EPA environmental report would never have happened in his day. (And, I would hope not since one of the things the White House apparently wanted to do was replace words describing the general consensus of the scientific community with the results of one paper published in one journal…where the editor and publisher of the journal both agree that the paper had serious flaws and should not have been published at least in its current form. It was so bad that the EPA scientists decided to just drop global warming from the report altogether rather than include the misleading language.)

Exactly what more evidence are you looking for here?!?

jshore
01-19-2004, 09:15 AM
Lest I leave people with the impression that it is only the editors of the British journal Nature who have taken the Bush Administration to task for its politicization of science, I'll add that the Editor-in-Chief of Science has also weighed in strongly on this point in an titled "Epidemic of Politics":

Whoops...I just realized this link I posted doesn't work...Here is the correct one:

[url]http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/299/5607/625 (]editorial[/url)

I believe that you do not need a paid registration to view this, although I could be wrong. (You may or may not need a free registration.)

pervert
01-19-2004, 02:11 PM
Exactly what more evidence are you looking for here?!?Well, more substantial objections would be nice. Seriously, do you think that a partisan researcher at the Cato institute could find liberal associations amongst the science appointments by the Clintons? If they quoted the study mentioned by Lissa and said that it showed a bias against products, then listed a few seriously liberal scientists would you accept this as evidence of a bias on Clinton's part?

Obviously not. But are you saying that if a couple "respected" journals agreed, then you would accept this evidence? All I am suggesting is that broad claims of industry connections, non contextual religious aspertions, and vague accusations of research bias do not a conspiricy make.

Now, having said that, I think there is some circumstantial evidence that Bush is changing the political or ideological tests that these scientists have had to go through in the past. He may even be changing them in extrodinary ways. However, I would argue that he is not creating such tests out of whole cloth. There is a lot of information out there about "junk science" generally compiled by conservatives accusing scientists or scientific panels of liberal bias. Clearly some of it is bogus. But some of it is quite reasonable. All I am suggesting is that maybe its time to shake up the community of government scientists a little. Perhaps bush is going too far. But I need to see more informatiion on how "his scientists" are doing (or have done in the past) bad science.

Here are a couple links. They are not small articles, rather they are sites which contain a large number of articles. Just wanted to warn any skimmers out there that you may not find easy skimming here.

This site is very partisan, but contains some good information. (http://www.junkscience.com/)

This one is far more balanced. (http://www.fumento.com/)

rjung
01-19-2004, 02:43 PM
When asked for a list of reasons to vote for George W. Bush in 2004, the collective Bush-backers of the SDMB provided the following list:

He's not a Democrat.
He gave me a $300 rebate.
The economy is starting to suck less.
We've only had one 9/11-style terrorist attack.
He started the "No Child Left Behind" program.
He's promising to spend money on AIDS in Africa and a moon base.

And, of course, the unspoken "Vote for Bush or terrorists will nuke our country," which will be the theme of his re-election campaign, no doubt.

Is there anything else?

E-Sabbath
01-19-2004, 03:33 PM
Well, there is his pro-nuclear policy.

Yes, I favor increased amounts of smaller nuclear plants. Go figure. It's still better than coal.

There's also his proposed space initiative. Which only has one problem. NASA.

ElvisL1ves
01-19-2004, 03:37 PM
There's also the unspoken theme, "He doesn't make me feel stupid. Or mean." And "He makes me feel as good about American kicking somebody's ass as I do when I watch a Rambo movie."

jshore
01-19-2004, 07:22 PM
Seriously, do you think that a partisan researcher at the Cato institute could find liberal associations amongst the science appointments by the Clintons?

Yes, but that wouldn't make it so. And, it seems rather doubtful that a quite centrist politician like Clinton would do such ideologically-driven things. Let's face it, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are not comparable images of right- and left-wing ideology. Maybe if you got Ted Kennedy elected President then we would see Science or Nature lambasting him for being too ideological in his appointments. But, that hasn't happened.


But are you saying that if a couple "respected" journals agreed, then you would accept this evidence? All I am suggesting is that broad claims of industry connections, non contextual religious aspertions, and vague accusations of research bias do not a conspiricy make.

When the two most respected scientific journals agree, then yes, I think this provides damn good evidence...At the very least, it is up to the Administration to refute this. And, when the Administration refuses to seriously engage in a discussion on this, I think we have to say that if they refuse to put up a defense, then we must find in favor of the prosecution.


Now, having said that, I think there is some circumstantial evidence that Bush is changing the political or ideological tests that these scientists have had to go through in the past. He may even be changing them in extrodinary ways.

Praise the Lord!


However, I would argue that he is not creating such tests out of whole cloth. There is a lot of information out there about "junk science" generally compiled by conservatives accusing scientists or scientific panels of liberal bias. Clearly some of it is bogus. But some of it is quite reasonable.

(1) You are changing the topic again. What we are talking about is stacking committees that are supposed to be providing scientific guidance to the government. We are not talking about individual scientists. As for government scientific panels, where is the evidence on this?

(2) I would say that most of it is bogus and only a little of it is reasonable. And, the stuff that is reasonable...like the argument that there is no evidence for deleterious effects from power lines...are attacking claims that haven't really had much traction in the scientific community anyway. Hell, I don't even see the mainstream environmental groups bringing up this issue. (Maybe they did at one point in the past ... I don't know.)

(3) You are conveniently overlooking that the same thing has been happening in the other direction too.

(4) The point is that Bush is bringing it all to a whole new level by making the process such that it tends to weed out people with differing ideological views even if they are good scientists and includes people with agreeable ideological views even if they are poor or marginal scientists.


All I am suggesting is that maybe its time to shake up the community of government scientists a little.

Well, you have presented no evidence of this and certainly no evidence that this belief is shared by, say, people of the stature of the two leading multidisciplinary science journals on the planet.


Here are a couple links. They are not small articles, rather they are sites which contain a large number of articles. Just wanted to warn any skimmers out there that you may not find easy skimming here.

This site is very partisan, but contains some good information. (http://www.junkscience.com/)


Well, you are half right. It is indeed very partisan. Steven Milloy's credentials as a scientist are none too impressive. His credentials as a right-wing spokesman, however, are awesome.


This one is far more balanced. (http://www.fumento.com/)

Well, I suppose...In the same way that the Cato Institute is more balanced than the Free Republic. I mean, come on, Fumento is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute which just hired on Robert Bork. Yup, that is nearly the very center of political thought! :rolleyes:

Just because some right-wing organizations have been attacking science doesn't make them right. You are just muddying the waters here to distract us from the fact that reputable people are noting that what this Administration is doing in regards to science and science advising is unprecedented. As I understand it, even the Reagan Administration didn't do this sort of stuff, or at least to the same magnitude.

jshore
01-19-2004, 07:42 PM
pervert: The argument you seem to be making is similar to the one conservatives have been making in regards to the "liberal media", namely:

(1) We conservatives are making a lot of noise and coming up with lots of examples where we feel the media is biased.

(2) Therefore, it must be biased.

(3) Therefore, having the Fox News Network is just providing balance to the "Communist News Network".

I thought that whole "liberal media" bias thing was kind of bogus but there it is admittedly hard to come up with objective criteria or arbiters. In science, by comparison, it is easier (although by no means easy).

[P.S. - Speaking of making a lot of noise...If you want to see a depressing comparison of the amount of money spent by a conservative media watchdog group to make claims that the media has a liberal bias and the amount spent by a liberal media watchdog group to make claims that the media has a conservative bias, compare the budgets of the Media Research Center and FAIR. I forget where I saw thsee budget figures but it was a frightening discrepancy!]

jshore
01-19-2004, 08:05 PM
By the way, if you want to read someone who I think is truly an honest broker of good and bad science, check out Robert Park's weekly What's New (http://www.aps.org/WN/) column or, better yet, his book Voodoo Science (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195147103/qid=1074564063//ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i0_xgl14/104-8629829-0161554?v=glance&s=books&n=507846). (Speaking of which, I can't freakin' find my copy and am tempted to hop in the car this minute to run out and buy another one!)

He definitely has strong opinions and maybe they are not always right, but he's fun to read and does truly care most about science first and foremost. He is not afraid to attack "conservative" sacred cows (like missile defense, various Bush Administration machinations, and creation science), "liberal" sacred cows (like alternative medicines and the dangers of powerlines), and science fiction affectionatos' sacred cows like manned space exploration.

pervert
01-19-2004, 08:57 PM
You are just muddying the waters here to distract us from the fact that reputable people are noting that what this Administration is doing in regards to science and science advising is unprecedented.
No, I am muddying the waters because they are muddy, and you are trying to claim that they are clear. This is an old article puporting the same sort of shennanigans by Clinton and Gore. (http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/publications/books/fulltext/polscience/49.pdf) This one, however might be more balanced. (http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20030813/04) It contains in part Smith disagrees with Waxman's view that Bush has misused science. "I think the Bush administration's policies vis a vis science are more confused than biased," he said. But for Pielke, what scientists should do is more important than who is right or wrong.

"What matters is not who is correct, but what actions the scientific community can take to lead to common interest outcomes," Pielke said. "The messy reality is that this requires getting into the details of policy context."

Again, I am not claiming that Clinton was overly biased nor that Bush is not. I don't have enough good information to decide. My own politics leads me to view government science in general as suspect. Personally I follow some of the junk science bruhaha enough that I don't mind if we change some of the government science committees. The mention of the PG&E case specifically, is what pushed my button.

But all that is just my opinion. Proving such a thing would require a rigorous definition of bias, and some good applications of it to more than a few months of a single administration. Something which is beyond the scope of my time and which is not provided by the Waxman report either.

My main objection in this issue is the seemingly automatic way in which certain things are accepted as evidence of bias while others are ignored or even accepted as evidence of objectivity. While there is an almost universal acceptance of the idea that industry affiliation can produce bias, there is almost no support for the equally likely concept that regulatory agency or activist group affiliation can lead to bias.

I guess in the end, I am concerned about our definition of bias in this context. If government regulatory agency funded scientists are more likely to produce studies showing negative characteristics about certain products, we call that science. If industry funded scientists are more likely to produce studies showing positive aspects of those products, we call it bias (or worse). The problem is that neither view is appropriate.

This is an interesting (though limite) study of the idea that certain biases exist in the scientific community. (http://www.ama-assn.org/public/peer/7_15_98/jpv71042.htm)
This one is more expansive, although also limited to medical studies. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=8192291&dopt=Abstract) David Horowitz writes a good deal about liberal biases in academia. This is a summary of one such study. (http://studentsforacademicfreedom.org/reports/liberalbias.html)

BTW, do you know what was changed in the EPA report on global warming?

pervert
01-19-2004, 10:20 PM
pervert: The argument you seem to be making is similar to the one conservatives have been making in regards to the "liberal mediaWell, my argument is similar to this line of reasoning. Except I do not particularly ascribe to the liberal or conservative bias in the media. Both exist as far as I am concerned. What I am saying in regards to the science committees is that we need to drop the hyperbole in this regard. If waxman wants to do a study comparing the level of education, number of peer reviewed studies, Nobel prizes, or some other scientific achievments of past presidential scientific advisory boards with Bush's, then fine. We can debate whether Bush is finding better scientists or not. But the whole tone of the debate sounds to me much more like the media bias debate.

Simply inquiring into candidates political preferences seems odd, but not particularly evil. Consider it like a sort of affirmative action. Its not like he is issuing memos dictating the outcome of studies. Or did you find evidence of this?

BTW, if you are able to find information on scientific bias let me know. I get more media bias than is useful when I google the subject.

Thanks for the link to Robert Park.. I remember reading his book some time ago. I would make similar claims about Fumento. I don't agree with some of his articles. I do recomend his hate mail section. I specifically remember wanting to use him as a cite in a debate on health care. I searched the subject on his site and found he disagreed with me! Shock and horror! I had to change some of my position as a result of what I learned.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
02-19-2004, 10:07 AM
I'd like to say you're right, because I think a big part of California's energy and financial crisis can be laid on Enron's doorsteps, but at the moment, the layman's view of the matter is that George's pal "Kenny boy" is getting away scott-free. Meanwhile, other corporate crooks like Martha Stewart get trussed up and plastered on the front page of the newspapers lickety-split. Why can't the same efficiency be applied to folks who are pals of the Pres?Hey, rjung -- Jeff Skilling was just indicted on 35 counts of fraud and related charges (http://money.cnn.com/2004/02/19/news/companies/skilling/) (and frankly, he's more central to the Enron collapse than Lay).

Do you still want to claim that administration is going to let the Enron folks get away "scott-free"?

rjung
02-19-2004, 12:42 PM
I don't see "Kenny Boy," close personal buddy of George W. Bush, the guy who loaned George his private jet for use during the 2000 Presidential campaign, anywhere near a set of manicles yet, do you?

(And none of this "Ken Lay wasn't important" stuff. A fish rots from the head down, as the old saying goes.)

Revtim
02-19-2004, 12:50 PM
I apologize if this has been covered, I only did a quick scan and search of the thread.

I think if a person is a social conservative, and social issues are their highest priority, that person should vote for Bush. Gay marriage, abortion, etc. these issues will be better represented for your view by Bush.

In the past, I might have said the same thing about being an economic consevative, but I don't think Bush is proving himself to being very conservative with his budget.

I personally am socially liberal so W will never get my vote.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
02-19-2004, 03:31 PM
I don't see "Kenny Boy," close personal buddy of George W. Bush, the guy who loaned George his private jet for use during the 2000 Presidential campaign, anywhere near a set of manicles yet, do you? Yes. The flipping of Fastow and the indictment of Skilling puts Lay significantly closer to a set of manacles. Only a completely blinkered partisan would claim otherwise. I'm sure this is not a pleasant day in the Lay household.

Seriously, do you really think the Bush administration is somehow shielding Lay from prosecution, given the news over the past month? Better adjust that tinfoil hat, dude. (And none of this "Ken Lay wasn't important" stuff. A fish rots from the head down, as the old saying goes.)If you had bothered to familiarize yourself with the facts of the Enron case, you'd know that Skilling was central to the SPEs that led to Enron's downfall. Indeed, one of the clearest breaches of the accounting rules governing SPEs was Skilling's placement of himself at the helm of the general partners of those entities -- general partners who are supposed to be independent from the company utilizing the SPEs.

That isn't to say that Lay isn't at fault -- he is -- or that he shouldn't be punished -- he should. And I believe he will. But Skilling was the financial illusionist who set up the house of cards. He is, in a very real way, the big fish the feds most want to put away.

The_Broken_Column
02-19-2004, 03:44 PM
Jews in the beggining of Nazi Germany ? Well at least the rich part.

The Rotheschildes and other powerful Jewish families (rich in most cases is synomynous with power, especially in this case) were moved to France before the Anti-Semitism began to become a powerful fervor, by the Nazi party thanks in part to contributions or money seized.

In fact, can anyone present me with a Rotheschild killed in the Holocaust?

And jshore, the Media is biased in many respects, just read the New York Times, you'll rarely find a "Conservative view point" in their editorial sections. Or it will be one conservative view point and 5 non-Conservative view points.

Now are you telling me in a nation that is usually split 50/50 on issues, somehow is resembled as 5:1 in the ratio in its News Papers? Now I'm not saying that's ALL news, but New York Times is a powerful Media source, and should excersize more 50/50 responses in the future.

MemoryLeak
02-19-2004, 05:46 PM
When asked for a list of reasons to vote for George W. Bush in 2004, the collective Bush-backers of the SDMB provided the following list:

He's not a Democrat.
He gave me a $300 rebate.
The economy is starting to suck less.
We've only had one 9/11-style terrorist attack.
He started the "No Child Left Behind" program.
He's promising to spend money on AIDS in Africa and a moon base.

And, of course, the unspoken "Vote for Bush or terrorists will nuke our country," which will be the theme of his re-election campaign, no doubt.

Is there anything else?
Which, I guess, shows you how lame they are. Contrast this list with the list from the other-side of the aisle (warning - it's pretty comprehensive and may take a while to read, let alone wrap your mind around):


He's not Bush

jshore
02-19-2004, 05:53 PM
And jshore, the Media is biased in many respects, just read the New York Times, you'll rarely find a "Conservative view point" in their editorial sections. Or it will be one conservative view point and 5 non-Conservative view points.

Now are you telling me in a nation that is usually split 50/50 on issues, somehow is resembled as 5:1 in the ratio in its News Papers? Now I'm not saying that's ALL news, but New York Times is a powerful Media source, and should excersize more 50/50 responses in the future.

I'll make you a deal: If you get the Wall Street Journal editorial page to balance their viewpoints, I'll try to get the NYTimes to balance theirs. And, the WSJ has a much further way to go! (To be fair, the WSJ, like the NYTimes, seems to have a pretty good "wall" between their editorial page and their reporting.)

The_Broken_Column
02-19-2004, 06:00 PM
Hah good deal jshore, I see your point now...and after ... .06 seconds of consideration, decided that I'd rather not have the Wall Street Journal spouting communist garbage.

Too bad the masses don't read more WSJ though :)

I don't see the wall between the editorial and reporting in the NYT you're talking about though, but that's just me.

BUT! My post was a reply to your "Fox News Post"...so it seems we're still in an agreement or something.

I thought you were saying there was not a liberal bias in the media, because you were complaining that people wanted a conservatively biased media source...Fox News.

But if there's a source from both sides I don't care, it doesn't have to be in the same paper, I just was showing that there indeed is a liberal bias, however extreme :)

jshore
02-19-2004, 06:04 PM
Which, I guess, shows you how lame they are. Contrast this list with the list from the other-side of the aisle (warning - it's pretty comprehensive and may take a while to read, let alone wrap your mind around):


He's not Bush


Well, let me give you a short starter list:

(1) We need a President who does not systematically distort science, economics, and intelligence to push his ideologically and tit-for-tat special interest payback-driven agenda.

(2) We need a President who exercises fiscal responsibility, rather than creating huge structural deficits for as far as the eye can see by giving tax breaks to his wealthy friends and giving the states essentially no help meeting their financial obligations so that have to raise taxes (and fees such as state college tuition fees) on the rest of us, negating much of the federal tax break we get.

(3) We need a President who sells his policies through an honest debate on the issues rather than using lies, deception, and fear.

(4) We need a President who values the environment more than he values the well-connected power industry.

(5) We need a President who understands that the economy is best stimulated in the short-term by giving tax breaks to those who will spend it and in the long-term by giving targetted tax breaks to businesses to encourage behavior that invests in jobs and growth and by spending government money wisely to invest in infrastructure, human capital (through education), etc.

And, that's just for starters.

jshore
02-19-2004, 06:13 PM
Too bad the masses don't read more WSJ though :)

Yeah...They'd get a much bigger dose of deception and abuse of statistics if they read the WSJ editorial page than they even do now listening to Fox!


But if there's a source from both sides I don't care, it doesn't have to be in the same paper, I just was showing that there indeed is a liberal bias, however extreme :)

Well, editorial pages of newspapers have never professed not to have biases. Fox goes far beyond that. If you want to see some bias in the conservative direction (including at the New York Times), as documented by a liberal media watchdog group (on a shoestring budget, I might add), check out www.fair.org ... Here (http://www.fair.org/international/iraq.html), in particular, is a link to their take on the coverage of the Iraq war.

The_Broken_Column
02-19-2004, 06:15 PM
Well, let me give you a short starter list:

(1) We need a President who does not systematically distort science, economics, and intelligence to push his ideologically and tit-for-tat special interest payback-driven agenda.

All of them do this, it is part of politics.

(2) We need a President who exercises fiscal responsibility, rather than creating huge structural deficits for as far as the eye can see by giving tax breaks to his wealthy friends and giving the states essentially no help meeting their financial obligations so that have to raise taxes (and fees such as state college tuition fees) on the rest of us, negating much of the federal tax break we get.

Well in this case the deficits are required, it is not as if Bush declared that Mount Whintney be carved in his image, the money is going somewhere important. And those tax breaks are why we have an 8% economic growth, or had, whicever it is now. Also I'm not wealthy and that tax break helped me out greatly, it's all what you make of it.

(3) We need a President who sells his policies through an honest debate on the issues rather than using lies, deception, and fear.

I don't really believe he lied or used the "fear" card, deception? Maybe, but I never really believed Nuclear missiles or germs were going to be flying towards us from Iraq any time soon anyways. I always remember him as describing him as a threat to the "Surrounding region". I think time in this matter is butchering the truth.

(4) We need a President who values the environment more than he values the well-connected power industry.

Well if you're talking about Northern Alaska, visit it sometime. All it is good for is drilling.

(5) We need a President who understands that the economy is best stimulated in the short-term by giving tax breaks to those who will spend it and in the long-term by giving targetted tax breaks to businesses to encourage behavior that invests in jobs and growth and by spending government money wisely to invest in infrastructure, human capital (through education), etc.

Bush did this, he just avoided immediate short term because he wanted to see the over all ends accomplished, reduced Government involvement.

And, that's just for starters.

Well you probably are a good researcher, but I'm just not seeing your vision yet...I don't necessarily see where Bush has fallen short in your requirements.

rjung
02-19-2004, 06:58 PM
Yes. The flipping of Fastow and the indictment of Skilling puts Lay significantly closer to a set of manacles. Only a completely blinkered partisan would claim otherwise. I'm sure this is not a pleasant day in the Lay household.
I'd be surprised if Lay gets approached long before election day.

Seriously, do you really think the Bush administration is somehow shielding Lay from prosecution, given the news over the past month? Better adjust that tinfoil hat, dude.
What's so implausible about this? It's no secret that the Administration gives prosecution of some crimes more attention and diligence than others (look at all the foot-dragging that's been going on regarding the leakage of Valerie Plame's role in the CIA). And given George W. Bush's heavy emphasis on loyalty, shielding a close personal friend like Ken Lay would be par for the course.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
02-19-2004, 07:14 PM
I'd be surprised if Lay gets approached long before election day.The election is but nine months away, so yeah, it may happen after the election. Look how long it took to assemble a case against Skilling. But that's just because the case is complex. And frankly, the case against Lay will be more difficult to make -- unlike Skilling and Fastow, Lay didn't have much direct participation in the particular fraudulent accounting vehicles used by Enron. Proving his involvement will thus be trickier, and will thus take longer to marshal evidence against him.

One wonders why you think the election would make Bush want to slow down the prosecution. One would think, assuming for the moment that your "Bush is pulling the strings" theory is true, that maximum political advantage would be had by throwing down indictments in mid-October, thus showing his independence and his willingness to vigorously prosecute corporate fraud. The only one-shot eleventh-hour event that would be better for Bush electorally than that would be to come up with Osama bin Laden.What's so implausible about this? It's no secret that the Administration gives prosecution of some crimes more attention and diligence than others (look at all the foot-dragging that's been going on regarding the leakage of Valerie Plame's role in the CIA). And given George W. Bush's heavy emphasis on loyalty, shielding a close personal friend like Ken Lay would be par for the course.If he's shielding a close personal friend, he's doing a really lousy job of it. If he really wanted to protect Lay, he'd start by protecting Fastow and Skilling -- two guys who certainly have the knowledge to give devastating testimony about Lay.

The_Broken_Column
02-19-2004, 07:22 PM
rjung Lay is not Bush's close personal friend, they are business associates if anything. Read their correspondance, Bush is polite in knowing how Lay's wife is doing and such, but they are not golfing buds because they grew up together or anything like that.

MemoryLeak
02-19-2004, 10:43 PM
Well, let me give you a short starter list:

(1) We need a President who does not systematically distort science, economics, and intelligence to push his ideologically and tit-for-tat special interest payback-driven agenda.You want a president who agrees with your ideological agenda. Your arguments go something like this: "The Union of Concerned Scientists presented irrefutable proof that [insert cause] ..."
(2) We need a President who exercises fiscal responsibility, rather than creating huge structural deficits for as far as the eye can see by giving tax breaks to his wealthy friends and giving the states essentially no help meeting their financial obligations so that have to raise taxes (and fees such as state college tuition fees) on the rest of us, negating much of the federal tax break we get.What's the goal? The top 30% pay 95%? Hell, let's just get rid of the states.
(3) We need a President who sells his policies through an honest debate on the issues rather than using lies, deception, and fear.See (1)
(4) We need a President who values the environment more than he values the well-connected power industry.See (1)
(5) We need a President who understands that the economy is best stimulated in the short-term by giving tax breaks to those who will spend it and in the long-term by giving targetted tax breaks to businesses to encourage behavior that invests in jobs and growth and by spending government money wisely to invest in infrastructure, human capital (through education), etc.
You got one.

jshore
02-19-2004, 11:12 PM
All of them do this, it is part of politics.

Not to nearly this degree. Check out this (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=240649) thread.


Well in this case the deficits are required, it is not as if Bush declared that Mount Whintney be carved in his image, the money is going somewhere important. And those tax breaks are why we have an 8% economic growth, or had, whicever it is now. Also I'm not wealthy and that tax break helped me out greatly, it's all what you make of it.

Well, deficits may be required during a time of economic slowdown but what Bush has done is create a longterm structural deficit. And, the tax breaks are only estimated to be responsible for a small amount of the economic growth...perhaps 1% of the 8% (which I believe was somewhat of a one month blip). The economy cycles on its own. It is impossible to inject that much money into the economy through tax cuts and spending and not get some stimulus but Bush has gotten about the minimum stimulus gain for the maximum buck, as responsible economists like Paul Krugman have pointed out.


I don't really believe he lied or used the "fear" card, deception? Maybe, but I never really believed Nuclear missiles or germs were going to be flying towards us from Iraq any time soon anyways. I always remember him as describing him as a threat to the "Surrounding region". I think time in this matter is butchering the truth.

Yeah...the only way time is butchering the truth is that it is making people forget the stories before the war about how Bush and company were misusing the intelligence they were being given (so that he can now claim that it was the intelligence services fault).

But, at any rate, most of the deception and such I speak of is unrelated to Iraq. There are those of us who were arguing a year ago on this message board that Bush's record on domestic issues showed that he had no credibility in regards to his claims about Iraq. The whole Iraq thing is only a sad reminder of what we already knew about Bush. And, actually, I think it was one of his smaller deceptions in that it may have been largely self-deception.



Well if you're talking about Northern Alaska, visit it sometime. All it is good for is drilling.

Well, thanks for the deep ecological evaluation. Actually though, I was referring more to his relaxation of air pollution laws. Drilling an ANWR is another stupid and shortsighted policy.


Bush did this, he just avoided immediate short term because he wanted to see the over all ends accomplished, reduced Government involvement.

No, he gave his tax cuts largely to the wealthy who do not tend to spend extra money that they get to the degree that a working class person would...They save and invest a good portion of it, which isn't what you really need when the economy is slack. (Besides giving the money to those who need it the least and those who have already gained the most from the economic growth of the last few decades.) And, he instituted tax cuts that will create a fiscal train wreck rather than provide temporary stimulus.

jshore
02-19-2004, 11:20 PM
You want a president who agrees with your ideological agenda. Your arguments go something like this: "The Union of Concerned Scientists presented irrefutable proof that [insert cause] ..."

And, they are supported by editorials in the two most prestigious multidisciplinary science journals in the world, Science and Nature.

We could also get into the various deceptions about the tax cuts, his various environmental proposals and so on. The list is long.


What's the goal? The top 30% pay 95%?

The only reason that the top 1%, for example, are paying a higher share of the federal income tax now than they did 20 years ago is because they have a higher share of the income....i.e., the increasing inequality in our society. (That's the part the WSJ editorial page doesn't tell you.) It has nothing to do with a rising tax burden on them. [In the case of the top 30 or 50%, it may also have to do a little with the increase in the earned income tax credit...but again is largely due to increases in income share.]

And, by the way, these numbers are almost always given in the context of the federal income tax only, conveniently ignoring the payroll taxes and the state and local taxes that are generally regressive.

By the way, is it "Invasion of the Freepers night" or something here on the SDMB?

MemoryLeak
02-20-2004, 02:21 AM
And, they are supported by editorials in the two most prestigious multidisciplinary science journals in the world, Science and Nature.

We could also get into the various deceptions about the tax cuts, his various environmental proposals and so on. The list is long.



The only reason that the top 1%, for example, are paying a higher share of the federal income tax now than they did 20 years ago is because they have a higher share of the income....i.e., the increasing inequality in our society. (That's the part the WSJ editorial page doesn't tell you.) It has nothing to do with a rising tax burden on them. [In the case of the top 30 or 50%, it may also have to do a little with the increase in the earned income tax credit...but again is largely due to increases in income share.]

And, by the way, these numbers are almost always given in the context of the federal income tax only, conveniently ignoring the payroll taxes and the state and local taxes that are generally regressive.

By the way, is it "Invasion of the Freepers night" or something here on the SDMB?
Sorry, the Union of Concerned Scientists have a political agenda. Their science follows that agenda, not the other way. And since you were kind enough to point out that the editorial stance of these esteemed publications often support the group, I take it you acknowledge there must not be much it the way of science going on since they had to express support via editorial stances rather than good old non-debatable 1+1=2 kind of stuff. Obviously, your mileage varies.

Class warfare rears its ugly head. So what if the top 1% (or 5 or whatever one you want) has a bigger share of the total income now than they did 20 years ago? You seem to be implying that they got that money from somewhere, so they must have stolen it from the bottom 50% guys. The pie got bigger folks. Sure, the guy behind the tree is wolfing done a humungous piece, but the piece I got today weighs more than the piece I had 20 years ago.

Payroll tax are incredibly regressive and represent the largest tax burden for most people. Absolutely, let's do away with them. Okay, not gonna happen. I think the best thing that could happen to Social Security/Medicare is change the way it's paid. Make everyone pay the full-ride (i.e., everyone pays the self-employment tax). Business would just bump everyone's salary by the employer contribution. Also won't happen - too easy for the masses to see how much money is flowing into Washington.

In the end, none of this matters. What matters is $2,500,000,000,000 divided by 250,000,000 people is $10,000 for every man, woman and child in this country (okay, so I'm rounding). That's just stupid. And it doesn't even include state and local. And it'll just keep getting bigger. The only way to stop it from getting bigger is to stop feeding it.

Besides, I find it exceptionally difficult to consider voting for the candidate of a party that takes Sharpton seriously.

Desmostylus
02-20-2004, 03:14 AM
An interesting and well thought out post, MemoryLeak. I'd like to ask you to expand on a few matters, though, if I may:Sorry, the Union of Concerned Scientists have a political agenda. Their science follows that agenda, not the other way. And since you were kind enough to point out that the editorial stance of these esteemed publications often support the group, I take it you acknowledge there must not be much it the way of science going on since they had to express support via editorial stances rather than good old non-debatable 1+1=2 kind of stuff.Can you point to where the "Union of Concerned Scientists" was mentioned in this thread (other than by you, of course)? Also, I can't seem to find the post where jshore said that: "the editorial stance of these esteemed publications often support the group" (the group being the aforementioned "Union of Concerned Scientists" who no-one seems to be discussing at all, apart from you, of course).The pie got bigger folks. Sure, the guy behind the tree is wolfing done a humungous piece, but the piece I got today weighs more than the piece I had 20 years ago.What's the goal? The top 30% pay 95%?I'm having trouble reconciling these two statements. You seem to be simultaneously arguing that everything's OK because the pie's big, but somehow something or other isn't OK because the pie's too small. Is the pie big, or not? Besides, I find it exceptionally difficult to consider voting for the candidate of a party that takes Sharpton seriously.I haven't got a dictionary handy, and I've always wondered what these terms mean:

1) begging the question, and
2) non-sequitur.

Do you know what they mean, and could you please explain them to me?

jshore
02-20-2004, 11:00 AM
Sorry, the Union of Concerned Scientists have a political agenda. Their science follows that agenda, not the other way. And since you were kind enough to point out that the editorial stance of these esteemed publications often support the group, I take it you acknowledge there must not be much it the way of science going on since they had to express support via editorial stances rather than good old non-debatable 1+1=2 kind of stuff.

I don't understand your point here. We are talking about matters of science policy. That is why these matters get discussed in the editorials in these journals. However, the editorials have duly noted, for example, that the science policy of the Bush Administration is out-of-step (e.g., in terms of appointments, some statements about global warming) with the science in the field, including many scientific studies that have been published in these journals.


Class warfare rears its ugly head. So what if the top 1% (or 5 or whatever one you want) has a bigger share of the total income now than they did 20 years ago? You seem to be implying that they got that money from somewhere, so they must have stolen it from the bottom 50% guys. The pie got bigger folks. Sure, the guy behind the tree is wolfing done a humungous piece, but the piece I got today weighs more than the piece I had 20 years ago.

Well, the point is that almost all of the growth in the pie has gone to a select few. The middle and lower income people are getting a piece of pie that is only a bit bigger than what they had before. You may feel that it is fine as long as people's pieces aren't shrinking (which over substantial parts of this period, they actually did) but some of us believe we should be asking why our policies are leading to a society where the vast majority of the gains made by society go to a few people.

At any rate, the point that I was making is not directly related to this as I was merely pointing out that the reason why the rich are paying a larger share of the taxes is because they are getting a larger share of the income. Once we realize this is the case then a proposed "remedy" of reducing their tax burden relative to everyone else seems to be a bit silly. If trends toward inequality continue, do we have to continue to lower the tax burden on the rich lest they end up paying too high a share of the taxes?!?! (Which would, correspondly, increase the tax burden on everyone else...You know, the ones who have seen much less gain in income.)

Class warfare is what the policies of the current administration are. Pointing out the effects of these policies is not class warfare. It is just enlightening people with information. [As Warren Buffett says, "If this is class warfare then my class is winning."]


In the end, none of this matters. What matters is $2,500,000,000,000 divided by 250,000,000 people is $10,000 for every man, woman and child in this country (okay, so I'm rounding). That's just stupid. And it doesn't even include state and local. And it'll just keep getting bigger. The only way to stop it from getting bigger is to stop feeding it.

You might want to actually do some investigation on how government expenditures and government revenues from taxes are growing or shrinking in terms of their percentage of GDP (which is really the relevant issue...not how they grow in dollar terms). If you look at the federal budget, you'll find that expenditures as a percentage of GDP declined by the end of the Clinton Administration to low levels that I believe hadn't been seen since the 1960s. Revenues as a percentage were at a more moderate level relative to the past since we were actually in a situation where revenues were exceeding expenditures...i.e., we didn't have a deficit but were living within our means. Now, under Bush, revenues have reached very low percentages too while expenditures have climbed some but remain relatively low compared to most of the last 30 or so years.

MemoryLeak
02-20-2004, 11:35 AM
An interesting and well thought out post, MemoryLeak. I'd like to ask you to expand on a few matters, though, if I may:Can you point to where the "Union of Concerned Scientists" was mentioned in this thread (other than by you, of course)?jshore wants a president who doesn't distort science, economics and intelligence. I simply offered them as an example of a group that quite often provides evidence supporting various Democratic positions - could have been any one of a number of agenda driven groups.Also, I can't seem to find the post where jshore said that: "the editorial stance of these esteemed publications often support the group" (the group being the aforementioned "Union of Concerned Scientists" who no-one seems to be discussing at all, apart from you, of course).See post #93.I'm having trouble reconciling these two statements. You seem to be simultaneously arguing that everything's OK because the pie's big, but somehow something or other isn't OK because the pie's too small. Is the pie big, or not?You're kidding, right?
I haven't got a dictionary handy, and I've always wondered what these terms mean:

1) begging the question, and
2) non-sequitur.

Do you know what they mean, and could you please explain them to me?Just another reason to vote for Bush.

MemoryLeak
02-20-2004, 12:36 PM
You might want to actually do some investigation on how government expenditures and government revenues from taxes are growing or shrinking in terms of their percentage of GDP (which is really the relevant issue...not how they grow in dollar terms). If you look at the federal budget, you'll find that expenditures as a percentage of GDP declined by the end of the Clinton Administration to low levels that I believe hadn't been seen since the 1960s. Revenues as a percentage were at a more moderate level relative to the past since we were actually in a situation where revenues were exceeding expenditures...i.e., we didn't have a deficit but were living within our means. Now, under Bush, revenues have reached very low percentages too while expenditures have climbed some but remain relatively low compared to most of the last 30 or so years.This line of reasoning is another reason (IMO) to vote for Bush. Essentially you're making the argument that federal outlays vs. GDP have hovered around 20% for the past 40 years. It's almost as if the goverment is entitled to this percentage.

Now Bush has done nothing about this, but I humor myself with the belief that he has been (and will be more agressive the next time around) laying the groundwork for fundamental changes that will push this number down. The only way I can see to push the number down is to push down the rate of revenue growth. Of course as soon as the astoundingly large number of people who pay little to no (to negative) taxes get their act together and realize it won't cost them a dime to vote for the guy that promises and delivers the most, then none of this matters.

Other than national security, it's the only thing on my personal voting radar. These are the only reasons I will vote for Bush and believe others should vote for him.

rjung
02-20-2004, 02:49 PM
One wonders why you think the election would make Bush want to slow down the prosecution.
Because daily news reports about the latest trials and tribulations of "Kenneth Lay, close personal friend of President Bush" would not look good to Karl Rove.

One would think, assuming for the moment that your "Bush is pulling the strings" theory is true, that maximum political advantage would be had by throwing down indictments in mid-October, thus showing his independence and his willingness to vigorously prosecute corporate fraud.
That's why Martha Steward is getting all the headlines these days. Why go after ol' buddy ol' pal Kenny Boy when you can throw someone else into the shark pit?

If he really wanted to protect Lay, he'd start by protecting Fastow and Skilling -- two guys who certainly have the knowledge to give devastating testimony about Lay.
I'm not convinced that the indictments against Fastow and Skilling have been moving with all due speed, myself.

Lay is not Bush's close personal friend, they are business associates if anything. Read their correspondance, Bush is polite in knowing how Lay's wife is doing and such, but they are not golfing buds because they grew up together or anything like that.
Really? So Bush interrupted his 2000 election campaign to fly to the inaugural game at Enron field -- where Ken Lay was throwing out the first pitch -- just because they're "business associates"? The fact that Bush has received more money from Enron than from any other source is just a coincidence? And you see nothing wrong withBush appointing people to high-level government positions based on Lay's say-so?

Bush's friendship with Enron chief dates back to late 1980s (http://www.beaufortgazette.com/24hour/politics/story/217715p-2099162c.html)
"My sense is that Bush cares about him," said Bill Miller, a political consultant in Austin, Texas, who witnessed Lay's ascent in the corporate world and Bush's rise to governor, then president. "It was a friendship-friendship, not just a business friendship."
Bush-Lay letters suggest close relationship (http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/02/17/bush.lay/)
Newly released documents suggest that President Bush's relationship with embattled former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay was once chummy and that Lay often asked him to act on Enron's behalf when Bush was governor of Texas.

Some two dozen letters written by Lay to then-Gov. Bush were among the 350 pages of Bush documents released Friday by Texas archivists in response to requests by news organizations and the nonprofit government watchdog group Public Citizen.
Bush and Ken Lay: Slip Slidin' Away (http://www.consortiumnews.com/Print/020602.html)
George W. Bush is trying to rewrite the history of his and his family’s relationship with Enron Corp.’s disgraced former Chairman Kenneth Lay. So far, Bush has enjoyed fairly good success as the U.S. news media has largely accepted the White House spin.

But the reality, as established by a wealth of historical record and recent disclosures, is that Lay and Enron were instrumental in Bush’s rise to power – and Bush played an important behind-the-scenes role in advancing Enron’s aggressive deregulation agenda, which helped the energy trader ascend to its lofty perch as the seventh-biggest U.S. company.

...

Internal administration documents suggest that Bush and his NSC staff put Enron's interests on par with or ahead of U.S. national security interests. The extraordinary NSC-led campaign around the Dabhol plant ended only on Nov. 8, the day the Securities and Exchange Commission delivered subpoenas to Enron about its questionable accounting. The same day, the company admitted that it had overstated its profits by $586 million since 1997, by improperly shifting debt into affiliated partnerships.

...

George Bush ran a hard-hitting campaign, suggesting that Richards was soft on crime. Critical to the campaign was getting his message out, and critical to that effort was money. Bush turned to his father’s old political benefactor, Ken Lay. Enron and Lay contributed $146,500 to the Bush campaign, seven and a half times more than they contributed to the Richards campaign. Lay also publicly endorsed Bush.

...

Bush appointed Patrick Wood III, a supporter of energy deregulation, to be chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission in February 1995. Wood's bio included a stint as an engineer for Arco Indonesia and a position as an attorney with the Baker & Botts law firm, run by former Secretary of State James Baker. Lay endorsed Wood and his appointment was a major boost to Enron's efforts to deregulate the Texas energy market.

...

In the 2000 campaign, Lay was a Pioneer for Bush, raising $100,000. Enron also gave the Republicans $250,000 for the convention in Philadelphia and contributed $1.1 million in soft money to the Republican Party, more than twice what it contributed to Democrats.

Lay and his wife then donated $10,000 to Bush’s Florida recount fund that paid for Republican lawyers and operatives to ensure that a full recount of Florida’s ballots never occurred. To this day, Bush has refused to release an accounting of how that recount fund money was spent.

After Bush took the White House in January 2001, Enron Corp., Enron’s President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Skilling, and Ken Lay contributed $100,000 each for a total of $300,000 to the Bush-Cheney Inaugural Fund.

These contributions cemented Lay’s standing with the White House. From the beginning of the administration, Lay advised on policy and personnel. The Enron chief was on the short list for two Cabinet posts, Energy and Treasury, though he ultimately stayed in the private sector.

jshore
02-20-2004, 03:16 PM
Now Bush has done nothing about this, but I humor myself with the belief that he has been (and will be more agressive the next time around) laying the groundwork for fundamental changes that will push this number down. The only way I can see to push the number down is to push down the rate of revenue growth. Of course as soon as the astoundingly large number of people who pay little to no (to negative) taxes get their act together and realize it won't cost them a dime to vote for the guy that promises and delivers the most, then none of this matters.

(1) You do indeed humor yourself since Bush has shown no real evidence of making tough decisions like this. He knows people want both lower taxes and continued government services at least the same level and he is happy to give them both, which is not sustainable in the longterm.

(2) Those people you talk of pay taxes. Some of them (the poorest) do not pay much federal income tax (or, even none or negative as you say) but they pay plenty of other taxes....payroll, sales, property (either directly or indirectly through renting), etc. Also, you are being deceived by the fact that the total contribution of, say, the bottom 50% to the federal income tax revenues is small. That is not the same as saying that they pay almost no federal income taxes. It is just that they are paying taxes on low incomes so it doesn't amount to very much...But, to them it is a lot of money. I.e., in some cases it may still be a fairly high percentage of their income...And, even when the percentage is considerably smaller than what Joe Moneybags is paying, you must recognize that taking, say, 25% of the income away from a lower middle class person creates much more hardship for them than taking this same percentage away from a very wealthy person. In fact, I would think it is the wealthy who still feel the least "pain" from taxes, even if they whine a lot about them. And, I am speaking as someone well-off (and frugal) enough myself that I pay more in taxes (federal income + state income + payroll tax [counting only my contribution, not my employer's]) than I spend each year.

fruitbat
02-20-2004, 06:54 PM
Rjung you have gone off the deep end with your conspiracy theories. Let's address a couple of things. G.W. Bush has many duties as President. I am sure you are familiar with them. He hasn't gotten around to becoming a federal prosecutor yet. As such he has no say as to whether or not Ken Lay is indicted.

I'm sure that he could influence that if he so chose. Politically that would be suicidal. Though I am ready to believe many things about our current President, I will need actual evidence for this one. Any pressure the White House exerts on the prosectors would be deeply resented (as it should be), and would long ago have been leaked to the media.

The Enron case takes a long time because it is incredibly complicated. Though they appear to have the documents, the prosecution needs witnesses to testify. They brought down Fastow, who will testify against Skilling. Skilling will cave and will testify against Lay. This is how things are done and always will be done. Without witnesses the jury will not convict. I work in the financial industry and I would have trouble understanding the maneuvers Enron used to defraud investors based on documents alone.

That's why Martha Steward is getting all the headlines these days. Why go after ol' buddy ol' pal Kenny Boy when you can throw someone else into the shark pit?

This is beyond the pale, and into the neighborhood of dementia. You are seriously suggesting that Bush controls the media like Stalin's twerpy, slightly goofy younger brother. He decided that Martha Stewart should be prosecuted to divert attention from Ken Lay. That can't really be what you are saying. Martha Stewart is being prosecuted because she is probably guilty. People pay attention because she is a celebrity. Not 1 in 10,000 Americans could pick Andy Fastow out of a lineup.

capacitor
02-20-2004, 08:54 PM
Why should I vote for Bush?

1. He made the world safe for Hailburtocracy.

2. He successfully raised state and city taxes, especially NY State and City income taxes, to a level that more than negates the federal tax cuts.

3. He has potentially created an aristocracy with the adocacy of the elimination of the estate tax.

4. He is the first president whose assistant says that transferring jobs out of the country isa good thing.

I vote for Bush to be president--of Iraq.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
02-20-2004, 09:38 PM
Because daily news reports about the latest trials and tribulations of "Kenneth Lay, close personal friend of President Bush" would not look good to Karl Rove.That would be more than offset by news reports that "Bush DOJ throws book at former Bush acquiantance." No serious person believes that Bush had anything to do personally with Enron's collapse -- the charge seems to be guilt by association -- and laying the smackdown on Lay would prove a powerful rebuttal to notions that Bush is a puppet on a string. That's why Martha Steward is getting all the headlines these days. Why go after ol' buddy ol' pal Kenny Boy when you can throw someone else into the shark pit? Man, Alcoa must love you for your voracious consumption of tin foil.

Martha Stewart is a celebrity. She gets media attention for the same reason Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez get media attention -- she is a famous person.

Lay, Skilling and Fastow, for all the attention they recieve in the business pages and occasionally on the front pages, have nowhere near that level of fame.

You seem to be implying that every federal prosecutor in the White Collar Crime division should be pulled from whatever cases they're working on and thrown at Enron -- i.e., that Stewart should get a pass, or at least a delay, until every Enron executive is wearing an orange jumpsuit. Which is absurd. We have plenty of federal prosecutors, more than enough to handle both cases.

Indeed, two separate offices are handling the two cases -- Stewart is being prosecuted in New York, while the Enron case is being prosecuted in Houston. It isn't like manpower is being diverted to handle the Stewart case. Those New York prosecutors wouldn't be working on Enron if it weren't for Stewart -- they'd be working on other cases centered in the Northeast. I'm not convinced that the indictments against Fastow and Skilling have been moving with all due speed, myself.I see. And your vast experience with white collar crime prosecutions enables you to make a meaningful judgment on this? Or are you just talking out of your ass?

These cases take years to develop. I recall reading a couple of months ago about indictments finally being brought against investment banks for wrongdoing dating back to well before Bush took office. If you really want to see the Enron folks behind bars, you'd be glad that it's taking time -- because that means the prosecutors are doing their best to carefully put together an airtight case.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
02-20-2004, 09:46 PM
2. He successfully raised state and city taxes, especially NY State and City income taxes, to a level that more than negates the federal tax cuts.The hell? Bush can't affect state and local tax levels. Your complaints are properly directed to Messrs. Pataki and Bloomberg and their lawmaking brethren.

jshore
02-20-2004, 10:57 PM
The hell? Bush can't affect state and local tax levels.

While he may not be able to directly raise them, he can certainly affect them. And, affect them he has by giving minimal aid to the states during their current funding crises and putting new unfunded mandates and pressures on them (e.g., in regard to homeland security). Then, when the states raise taxes or fees (such as tuition) and the net result is that the poor and middle class see most of their tax cuts erased, hey, that's not Bush's fault, right? Why, noone ever could have predicted that! Shocking...Who would have thunk it!?!

But don't worry, since the state and local taxes are usually way, way more regressive than the federal income tax and estate tax, you don't have to lie awake nights worrying about the plight of the rich...They'll still come out well ahead, thank goodness!

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
02-21-2004, 08:00 AM
I'll grant you the unfunded mandates part -- the federal government should pay for their own programs -- but the rest of your post is utter rubbish. The states that have funding crises need to handle their budgetary problems themselves -- the federal government is not obliged to bail them out, nor should they as that would create a disincentive for responsible management of state finances. And if state and local taxes are regressive, that's the fault of the individual state in question. Why aren't you complaining that, say, New York hasn't made its tax scheme more progressive as part of its efforts to pay its bills?

jshore
02-21-2004, 04:14 PM
Well, I am all for more progressive state taxes but the reality of the situation is that state taxes have always been more regressive. Part of the reason is probably that there is more of a "race to the bottom" competition between states because they worry that if they tax rich people too much, the rich people will move elsewhere. And, I think conservatives know this which is one reason why they like to devolve responsibilities more to the state level (and also regulatory laws, like environmental ones).

I think when you are President, you have a responsibility to deal with the world as it actually exists. (Or, at the very least, Bush could use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to press the states to make their tax structures more progressive.) But, let's be honest here, he has shown no desire to see that happen and seems completely content on making our tax structure as a whole more regressive.

pervert
02-21-2004, 06:22 PM
jshore We've gopne over this several times now. Have you finally found a cite which indicates that state taxes make up for the progrsion of federal taxes? Have you even found a cite to proclaim that states collect enough money to make up for the pregrsivity of federal taxes? I know it is a favorite whipping boy of yours, and that's cool. But if you have information that state taxes make up for the progressifity of federal taxses can you link to it?

rjung
02-21-2004, 07:25 PM
I'm sure that he could influence that if he so chose. Politically that would be suicidal.
So would several other things that this presidency has already gotten away with, yet it still chugs on (pity).

I don't want to derail this thread, especially since the only way currently available to prove whether or not Bush has been shielding Ken Lay requires planting listening equipment in the Oval Office, but consider this: to the average layvoter, the appearance of impropriety in the Enron collapse/Kenneth Lay non-indictal/"close pal fo the President" is huge. You don't need to be a raving conspiracy nut to believe that the President of the United States can throttle the Justice Department to ease up pressure against certain folks and organizations -- just look at the total reversal in the Microsoft anti-trust case for an(other) example.

And frankly, after four years of this Administration's mechanations, people are more inclined to believe that Bush is pulling in favors for "Kenny boy" -- heaven knows he's done it in the past, and he's certainly not above doing it now.

You are seriously suggesting that Bush controls the media like Stalin's twerpy, slightly goofy younger brother.
Nah, but the media's toothless approach to Presidential coverage is a travesty to the memory of Edward R. Murrow. The simple fact that the White House was able to sell a pre-emptive war with Iraq -- even when facts contradicting the Administration's case were publically available months before the bombs fell -- is proof enough that today's American media is satisfied with unquestioning acceptance of whatever the White House dishes out.

Silver Serpentine
02-21-2004, 08:10 PM
Okay. I'm really gonna try to remove my own political bias out of what I'm about to post. I'm going to try to remove everything I've read on here and in books. I'm going to try to think like someone who only pays attention to politics as far as what I see around me, and what I watch on the news.

In other words, it's probably going to be mis-informed, simplistic, and inaccurate. But I'm trying to see things like an Average Voter would. Not as someone who spends way too much time on this boards, reading all these cited things and research. Okay? Don't call me stupid for them, because they're not the views I've come to. Thanks! :D

Pro-Bush

Saddam was a bad guy, we got him out of there. And it didn't take long to do.

Taliban's out of power, right?

I've sat here for 10 minutes, trying to think up more things. I swear I have, they just haven't occured to me.

Anti-Bush

A lot of my friends have become unemployed. I've actually had to move across the country to find a job.

I never saw any of that tax cut you heard so much about.

I keep seeing factories shut down due to lack of moola, or to go overseas. This seems like a bad thing for my friends and I.

No WMDs. Not a big deal, since we DID get Saddam out of there.

No Osama.

I keep hearing something about a credibility gap, and something about him going AWOL during some kind of military service.

I don't care This are things I figure aren't a big focus for me, as an Average Voter. Don't directly apply to me.

Gay marriage.

Abortion.

Environment.

---------------------------

I hope I did a decent job of being neutral. I didn't toss out any "Bush is lying" or whatnot. I don't often have to play Apathetic, Non-Political Voter.

_________________________

-Irish, formerly AnimistDragon. Where did my sig go?

jshore
02-22-2004, 01:58 PM
jshore We've gopne over this several times now. Have you finally found a cite which indicates that state taxes make up for the progrsion of federal taxes? Have you even found a cite to proclaim that states collect enough money to make up for the pregrsivity of federal taxes? I know it is a favorite whipping boy of yours, and that's cool. But if you have information that state taxes make up for the progressifity of federal taxses can you link to it?

pervert, I don't think I have specifically claimed that the state taxes completely make up for the progressivity of the federal taxes. What I have noted is that the federal taxes are considerably less progressive once you go from looking at only federal income taxes to looking at all federal taxes. What I have further noted is that the progressivity in the tax structure as a whole is further reduced once you add the generally regressive state and local tax structures in so that the structure is "fairly flat". There may still be some progressivity. That is unclear and likely depends on various assumptions. (E.g., I think most economists argue that the employer contribution to FICA is essentially a tax on the employees since it is really exactly equivalent to a situation where the employer pays about 7% more salary to the employee and the employee then pays all the tax. But my impression is that the CBO study considers only the employee contribution as counting toward what the employee pays in taxes...Is that right?)

That said, here is some of what a book I have called "What Government Can Do" by Benjamin Page and James Simmons (copyright 2000) says about studies of the overall tax structure:


When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken together, they apparently do not have much net effect on income inequality in the United States. The progressivity of federal (and, to some degree, state) income taxes, together with the milder progressivity of the small and declining property and corporate income taxes, is largely offset by the regressivity of payroll, sales and, excise taxes.

Pechman and Okner's classic study, which considered eight different sets of incidence assumptions about the various taxes, found that in 1966, even under the most progressive ("1c") assumptions, the total effective rates of all taxes were nearly porportional over most of the income range...The effective rates then climbed substantially at the top, reaching 49.3 percent on income over $1 million. Under the least progressive ("3b") assumptions, there was virtually no progressivity at all --- effective rates sent from 28.1 percent at the very lowest incomes to 29.0 percent on the vary highest, with a bit of a dip in the rates for middle-income people [88] ...

Pechman's updates of these estimates over the next two decades showed little change except right at the end of the period he studied, in 1985. In that year, at the peak of Reaganism, any progressivity in U.S. taxes had almost completely vanished. Even under the most optimistic incidence assumptions, effective rates rose from 21.9 percent on the first income decile to just 25.5 percent on the top 1 percent of incomes. Under the least progressive assumptions, the tax system had become significantly regressive [89].

Presumably some of the earlier modest progressivity of the system has been restored by post-1985 changes in federal tax law. On the other hand, the increasing reliance on payroll and sales taxes, and the shift from federal toward state and local spending and taxing, does not bode well for tax progressivity. A number of states during the 1990s appear to have made their taxes more regressive, often by raising sales taxes during years of economic stringency and then cutting income--rather than sales--taxes during better times [90].

Fullerton and Roger's lifetime-income findings are quite similar to those of the original Pechman and Okner annual-income study. They found that overall U.S. taxes are roughly proportional across middle-income groups, though progessive at the very bottom and at the very top of the income distribution.... [91] ...


The references here are:

[88] J.A. Pechman and B.A. Okner, "Who Bears the Tax Burden?" (Brookings, 1974).

[89] J.A. Pechman, "Who Paid the Taxes, 1966-1985," (Brookings, 1985).

[90] N. Johnson and I. J. Lav, "Are State Taxes Becoming More Regressive?" (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1997).

[91] D. Fullerton and D. L. Rogers, "Who Bears the Lifetime Tax Burden?" (Brookings, 1993).

As I also noted, one expects the total tax burden to become more regressive under the Bush tax cuts...And, my guess is that the changes may be particularly dramatic near the very top because of the lowered tax rates on dividends and capital gains. If you look, for example, at George W.'s tax returns from the late 90s (I don't know if they have released more recent ones since then), you'll see that is where he gets most of his income and I think this is true of many very wealthy people.

Quartz
02-22-2004, 03:38 PM
I'm not an American voter. The economy's not booming, but it's doing ok so that's a wash. Bush has shown that he's stepped up to the mark and done the right thing after 9/11. If I were an American voter I'd be asking myself if the other candidates would do similarly. Kerry's voting record is too erratic. I don't know about the others.

jshore
02-22-2004, 08:00 PM
Yesterday, I bought "Perfectly Legal", by David Cay Johnston who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times. The subtitle of this book is "The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich -- And Cheat Everybody Else." I didn't start reading it tonight and so far have just read the first chapter but it is already a doozy!

Here are some things that Johnston claims looking at the tax returns of the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in the U.S. (in other words, the top tiny fraction of 1%!):

(1) In 2000, they paid federal income tax at an effective rate of 22.2 percent of their reported income, as compared to the rate of 15.3 percent for the average person. In fact, this 22.2% rate was about the same as that paid by a single person making $123,000 or a married couple with 2 children earning $226,000.

(2) This rate they paid dropped by 16 percent between 1992 to 2000 (from 26.4% to 22.2%) while the rate paid by the average taxpayer rose by 18 percent (from 13% to 15.3%) during that time period.


(3) Had all the Bush tax cuts passed through last year been in effect in 2000, these richest 400 would have paid only 17.5% effective tax rate...not much more than the 15.3% rate paid by the average American.

Note that these facts deal only with the income tax...Once you factor in the payroll taxes (and other federal taxes), I assume you'd see these folks paying a lesser percentage of their income in taxes than do average folks!

And, another major point of Johnston's book is that the superrich are very likely hiding income from taxation using stealthy tax schemes that those who can't afford such good tax lawyers and accountants would have to show, so this tax rate on their reported income is probably overestimating the tax rate they pay on their true income!

So, are federal taxes progressive? Well, at the very top it looks like it may not be at all! And, that's before adding state taxes into the mix!

You can also hear an interview (http://freshair.npr.org/day_fa.jhtml?displayValue=day&todayDate=01/07/2004) with David Cay Johnston on NPR's Fresh Air.

g8rguy
02-22-2004, 10:20 PM
Under the general heading of "learning something new every day," I am glad to see that winning a Pulitzer requires no appreciation of the meaningless of small samples. I question, however, whether this discovery is relevant.

Because after all, the situation of the richest 400 people in America tells us a great deal about the situation of the wealthy as a whole. If we are to use these 400 to draw conclusions about the wealthy as a whole, I do hope you'll allow us to use the poorest 400 people in America to draw conclusions about the poor as a whole. Isn't playing with meaningless data fun?

Desmostylus
02-23-2004, 12:50 AM
Under the general heading of "learning something new every day," I am glad to see that winning a Pulitzer requires no appreciation of the meaningless of small samples. I question, however, whether this discovery is relevant.

Because after all, the situation of the richest 400 people in America tells us a great deal about the situation of the wealthy as a whole. If we are to use these 400 to draw conclusions about the wealthy as a whole, I do hope you'll allow us to use the poorest 400 people in America to draw conclusions about the poor as a whole. Isn't playing with meaningless data fun?But it's not a sample at all, is it. It's not a sample of 400 high income earners drawn from the top x% of all income earners. It's the entire top 400. It's the extreme end of the scale, in its entirety.

To dismiss it would be utterly absurd. Like saying that the DJIA is of absolutely no relevance, because it only covers the top 30 out of millions of incorparated and unincorporated businesses.

g8rguy
02-23-2004, 01:36 AM
Of course it's a sample, Desmo! It's a sample of 400. Did you really think otherwise, or were you just trying to be funny?

It's a sample of 400, and it means jack, since the tax status of the richest 400 people doesn't tell you much about the tax status of the very wealthy as a whole, which is properly the thing of interest. It does, of course, tell you all about the tax status of the 400 richest, but if you're using this information to decide how to vote, you're beyond help anyway.

So since I was, apparently, insufficiently clear, let me try again: What in the name of God does the tax status of the richest 400 Americans have to do with anything? Why not the richest 10, or 1000, or those whose net worth exceeds $1bn? Why not just pick Bill Gates? If he pays an effective rate of 100%, or 0%, or anything in between, can I conclude anything remotely useful? Or might we, just possibly, be better off looking at a sufficiently large section of the ends of the scale as to get an idea of the ends of the scale as a whole?

Desmostylus
02-23-2004, 02:17 AM
Of course it's a sample, Desmo! It's a sample of 400. Did you really think otherwise, or were you just trying to be funny?

It's a sample of 400, and it means jack, since the tax status of the richest 400 people doesn't tell you much about the tax status of the very wealthy as a whole, which is properly the thing of interest. It does, of course, tell you all about the tax status of the 400 richest, but if you're using this information to decide how to vote, you're beyond help anyway.It isn't, and clearly isn't supposed to be, and was never claimed to be a representative sample of whatever it is that you happen to think are "the very wealthy". So since I was, apparently, insufficiently clear, let me try again: What in the name of God does the tax status of the richest 400 Americans have to do with anything? Why not the richest 10, or 1000, or those whose net worth exceeds $1bn? Why not just pick Bill Gates? If he pays an effective rate of 100%, or 0%, or anything in between, can I conclude anything remotely useful? Or might we, just possibly, be better off looking at a sufficiently large section of the ends of the scale as to get an idea of the ends of the scale as a whole?The thing that jshore is talking about is the progressivity of the tax scales. It can be represented as a graph showing average tax rate vs income, from the lowest income to the highest. jshore's cite doesn't give us the entire graph, only a few points on it. That's much more useful than nebulous babble.

If you want to argue that the way the data for the last point on the graph have been binned, e.g. that the bin size shouldn't be 400, it should rather be 1, or 10, or 1000, then go ahead. Present the data and argue your case.

If, alternatively, you want to argue that you should collect data on tax vs income based on net worth, or hair color, or anything else other than income for that matter, feel free to do that too. Just don't expect to be taken terribly seriously.

Apos
02-23-2004, 02:39 AM
Okay: how about corporations who pay 0 in taxes then? Frontline did a report on this. You know that bank with the dumb new name: Wachovia? Pays nothing in taxes? Some even get tax credits.

Why? Because it found a tax loophole wherin it gets a town in Germany to lease it the sewer pipe and cable cars, then it leases them right back to the town. The leases, in which nothing changes hands and the net cash in everyone's pockets stay the same, for some reason allow them to entirely dodge tax payments. That's our system.

And it makes a big difference when it comes to which statistics you use. Most of the tax statistics I've seen don't take into account dodges like this. They just use the general tax rate, estimate the tax bases of various tax levels, and estimate what everyone is paying. Not what they actually pay, which in some cases, is 0. Just something to be on the lookout for.

Desmostylus
02-23-2004, 02:55 AM
Apos: Is that post directed to anyone in particular?

If you're just trying to point out to me that taxable income can differ from reported income or GAAP income or cash income or whatever, you won't find any arguments here.

g8rguy
02-23-2004, 08:23 AM
It isn't, and clearly isn't supposed to be, and was never claimed to be a representative sample of whatever it is that you happen to think are "the very wealthy". The thing that jshore is talking about is the progressivity of the tax scales. It can be represented as a graph showing average tax rate vs income, from the lowest income to the highest.Yes, thank you, Desmo. Any time you wish to try saying something useful, you may begin.

Even you apparently understand that the data is not representative. Frankly, I'm stunned that anyone is defending using unrepresentative data as a gauge of anything, and that pointing out that the data isn't a usefully representative sample is somehow controversial. If you are willing to use unrepresentative data to make some sort of case, you are being intellectually dishonest. I'd hope for better. If I hope in vain, that's not my problem, but yours.

I am not trying to claim that the rich don't pay an insufficient amount of taxes. I am not trying to say that any conclusions one draws from jshore's cite are clearly wrong. I am claiming that knowing what 400 people are paying in taxes doesn't tell me squat about what the rich in general are doing, which is what we should be worried about.

You, apparently, think differently, and in your little world, it's my job to prove you wrong. But then, since in your little world the DJIA is all I need to know to gauge the economy's strength, I'm not surprised. In my world, you're not worth wasting my time on: If you don't understand that unrepresentative data allows one to draw no meaningful conclusions, you need more time than I am willing to devote.

jshore
02-23-2004, 11:24 AM
g8rguy: Boy, you are really exercised over this, aren't you?!? I didn't claim that the top 400 are representative of the top 1% or anything like that. What I claimed they are representative of is the very super-mega rich. They are in fact a perfect representation of what they are...the top 400 highest-earners (at least in reported income). And, you may think this is a trivial sample size but:

(1) 400 people is good enough to get pretty reasonable statistics. You can't claim this data is just some sort of statistical fluctuation.

(2) Although these 400 people represent a miniscule percentage of the total population of income tax returns ( <0.001%), they do not represent a miniscule percentage of the income. In fact, one statistic I didn't note is that these 400 people earned liked 1.1% of the total income earned in 2000...and this number was up from 0.5% in 1992.

The point is that the super-duper rich, the mega-ultra wealthy are paying federal income tax at a rate that is only a little bit higher than you or I on their reported income (in fact, it may not be higher depending on where our income falls). And, once you consider the other federal taxes (let alone, state taxes), it is almost certain that they are paying a lower percentage of their income in taxes.

jshore
02-23-2004, 12:21 PM
Just to further elaborate, I never claimed that these facts about the top 400 taxpayers are the first and last piece of interesting data on income tax progressivity. In fact, if you were around here more, you'd see that we have talked ad nauseum about the top 1%, the different quintiles and so on.

This is just one more piece of data, but in my mind it is a particularly fascinating one because it looks at folks who are without-a-doubt doing absolutely fabulously and asks what they are paying in taxes compared to the average Joe. I.e., it asks about what the progressivity of the tax system is like at the tippy-top. And, to my mind, the answer is rather disturbing. Maybe, to you, it doesn't make a bit of difference. But, hey, that's what democracy is all about ... You present the facts and people decide what they think about them.

pervert
02-23-2004, 12:29 PM
Dude, you have got to ficure out a way to get some less biased information. Seriously. You already have lots of information about how bad capitalism is. Try looking for some information about how good it is. ;)

I'm not going to go into every single claime in this new book you purchased. But I'll address the first 2 you posted.
(1) In 2000, they [the top 400 earners] paid federal income tax at an effective rate of 22.2 percent of their reported income, as compared to the rate of 15.3 percent for the average person.I have no idea whatsoever what he means by "average person". But this cite (http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4514&sequence=3) indicates that the top 10% paid 29.7%, the top 5% paid 31.1, and the top 1% paid 33.2% in total effective federal taxes. The numbers for income taxes are lower. At 19.7%, 21.6%, and 24.2% respectively. If you can come up with his method for calculating the "average person" I would appreciate it.

(2)This rate they paid dropped by 16 percent between 1992 to 2000 (from 26.4% to 22.2%) while the rate paid by the average taxpayer rose by 18 percent (from 13% to 15.3%) during that time period.Again, I don't understand what he means by average. However, the cite I listed above indicates that the total effective tax rate for the top 1% went from 30.6 to 33.2 an increase of 7.8%. Just to be fair, the income tax numbers went from 21.2% to 24.2%, an increase of 14.1%.

From a later post:
Although these 400 people represent a miniscule percentage of the total population of income tax returns ( <0.001%), they do not represent a miniscule percentage of the income. In fact, one statistic I didn't note is that these 400 people earned liked 1.1% of the total income earned in 2000...and this number was up from 0.5% in 1992.And how much of the total taxes collected did they pay? I suspect it is quite a bit higher than 1.1%. Don't you?

I understand that these numbers represent the top 1% rather than the top 400. But as you can see the numbers given by David Cay Johnston are clearly against the trend. I'd like to hear his evidence for the numbers presented in his book. Extraordinary claims and all that...

And, jshore as long as we are adding alarming allegations to the end of these posts without evidence, I should point out that these numbers become even more interesting if you look at the percentage of the taxes collected paid by each income group. That is, the richest of us pay a much higher percentage of the taxes collected than they earn as a percentage of the economy. I assume that this trend is mostly complimented by the states. IT would have to be reversed in a massive way (not simply slightly more regressive) to counter act this fact. ;)

From your earlier post and in no particular order:
But my impression is that the CBO study considers only the employee contribution as counting toward what the employee pays in taxes...Is that right?)No. From the report I cited "Most households pay more payroll taxes than income taxes; in 2000, nearly 71 percent of households did so (see Table 2). (Table C-1 provides data for the full 1979-2000 period.) That statistic counts both the employee and employer shares of payroll taxes--because, as most economists conclude, workers bear the full cost of such taxes.".

pervert, I don't think I have specifically claimed that the state taxes completely make up for the progressivity of the federal taxes. What I have noted is that the federal taxes are considerably less progressive once you go from looking at only federal income taxes to looking at all federal taxes. What I have further noted is that the progressivity in the tax structure as a whole is further reduced once you add the generally regressive state and local tax structures in so that the structure is "fairly flat". Right. But you have to assume that the State tax structures are extremely regressive to get to "fairly flat". Unless the States collect more money and do so in a much more regressive way, then they cannot counter act the progressivity of the federal taxes. I am blabbering without a specific site in this regards as we both have failed to come up with a good site that discusses State taxes and how they break down. This is most likely due to the massive increase in complication when you try and add States into the mix. But I am fairly confident that your assertion is wrong. State tax collecting would have to be much worse than federal tax collecting to make up for the progressivity of the feds.

Some of the numbers given by your cite "N. Johnson and I. J. Lav, "Are State Taxes Becoming More Regressive?" (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1997). (http://www.cbpp.org/930sttax.htm) seem to indicate that the state numbers are paultry compared to the federal numbers. That is, they are talking about income tax cuts of less than 10 billion over 4 years and sales tax increases of about 12 billion over 4 years amongst all 50 states. I hardly think this can change the progressivity of the federal income tax. I seriously doubt wether it could even dent it.

However, I want to acknowledge (for anyone else reading this, jshore knows it already) that I am somewhat out of my element talking about such things. I am not an expert by any means. And I should also reiterate that I do not have good numbers on the state by state tax breakdown. Your cite, jshore comes pretty close. However, it preferes to look at things like the number of progressive tax cutes and regressive tax increases rather than the total amounts collected or the income rates effected.

pervert
02-23-2004, 12:47 PM
A quick google on "who paid the taxes" resulted in this cite. (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/ProgressiveTaxes.html) It is a pretty balanced discussion of the issue of progresivity in the US tax system. It is old (as is the book), but it gives a good set of definitions about what progressive means, how it is measured and so forth. It does include a graph from the book which I found interesting. Scroll down in the link to see it. It is the only graph on there. The graph indicates 2 lines one indicating that the tax rate is progressive and the other indicating that it is regressive. Interestingly the regressive line assumes that half of corporate taxes are paid by customers. While the progressive line assumes that all corporate taxes are paid by shareholders.

It seems even basic assumptions about who pays taxes are not only open to question, but can reverse the conclusions. A very complex subject indeed.

g8rguy
02-23-2004, 12:52 PM
g8rguy: Boy, you are really exercised over this, aren't you?!?If Desmo and his ilk force me to defend my position, then I'll defend it. Has that been disallowed or something? Is there something odd about defending the proposition that looking at an unrepresentative sample and using it to draw significant conclusions is unhelpful?

You'll notice that I didn't attribute this to you, because you didn't do so, but merely said you found it interesting. I agree: it's interesting. But it doesn't tell us why the mega-ultra wealthy pay so little, and it doesn't tell us what the rich as a whole do, and as such it's less than indicative. A few bald figures about the tippy-tippety-top do not a story make. The focus, I suggest, is too narrow.

You, apparently, disagree. More power to you. As you say, that's what democracy is all about.

jshore
02-23-2004, 01:30 PM
It does include a graph from the book which I found interesting. Scroll down in the link to see it. It is the only graph on there. The graph indicates 2 lines one indicating that the tax rate is progressive and the other indicating that it is regressive. Interestingly the regressive line assumes that half of corporate taxes are paid by customers. While the progressive line assumes that all corporate taxes are paid by shareholders.

It seems even basic assumptions about who pays taxes are not only open to question, but can reverse the conclusions. A very complex subject indeed.

Interesting. My impression from previous forays into this area is that Slemrod is considered one of the gurus on taxation issues. And, yes, it is complex. As for the graph, it is important to note that the y-axis does not go all the way down to 0. So, yes, while various assumptions can change the conclusions, not looking carefully at the axis would lead one to believe the conclusions are changing more drastically than they are. Neither curve is what I would consider strongly progressive or regressive (although the regressive one does have some interesting sharper jumps near the top and bottom ends of the scale).

PeterS
02-23-2004, 01:35 PM
Well, you did a great job of outlining why a Democratic partisan hack would not vote for Bush. "Joe" is much more rational and looks at things differently.

The economy is improving. Unemployment is going down, and it's very much in the middle of the range it has been at for the last 20 years. We haven't captured ObL, but we have caught many of the al Qeada leaderhip. And there have been no al Qeada attaks on US soil since 9/11. Taxes are lower than they were under the Dems, and Joe is smart enough not to fall for the class warfare rhetoric of the left about "tax cuts for the rich". Being an average American, Joe supported the war in Iraq, so he's not too interested in Dean or Clark. Joe likes that fact that we've caught Saddam and, again being an Average American, is not especially gung-ho about the UN. He's somewhat concerned about how we get out of Iraq, but the Dem candidates haven't come up with a credible exit plan.

The deficit is a major issue, and Joe thinks the best way to deal with is to keep taxes low so the economy can grow, and curtail spending. Although Bush has performed poorly in this area, he doesn't trust the Dems to do any better. But if there's any reason he might not vote for Bush, this is it. He's pretty certain that if Bush wins in '04 and the Pubs have both houses of Congress, and they don't get the defecit under controll, he'll pay a lot more attention to the Dems in '08.

With all due respect what you have outlined are, at best, suspect reasons for voting for Bush:

1) If you pay any attention to labor statistics you will notice that very little job creation is taking place which makes one wonder how is unemployment going down? The answer is that labor force participation has declined by a full point taking 1.7M people off the unemployment rolls. And while it is possible they all hit the lottery and therefore didn’t need to work the more likely reason is that due to lack of job prospects the majority here simply dropped out and are a part of the disgruntled workforce.

So an declining unemployment rate placed in its proper context shows this portion of Bush’s economic program to be very much a failure.

2) Gore proposed a 500B tax cut targeted at middle and low income America. The democrats counter to Bush’s original 2001 proposal was 900B targeted at middle and low income America. Of the three–Gore, the Democrats, and Bush– Bush’s was the smallest for middle and low-income America plus the Child Tax Credit additions under the Bush tax cut are set to expire in 2005 and the Alternate Minimum Tax will start impacting Middle America in 2005. As such, Bush gave “average Joe” the short end of the stick and is going to need the AMT to meet his “cut the deficit in half” projections.

So, the Bush tax cut is certainly no reason to vote for Bush.

3) The quest of OLB is a coin flip. It is reasonable to assume that whom ever were president we would have invaded Afghanistan and pursued OLB. The unanswered question is if we weren’t also pursuing Saddam at the same time whether we would have been more determined to enter Pakistan in force and actually try to capture OLB. I think it reasonable to assume that splitting our military didn’t help in pursuit of OLB–the known murderer of over 3,000 Americans.

Given that, I would think average Joe would be kind a pissed at Bush’s leadership here.

4) The quest for Saddam Hussein is another coin flip. First, with the UN inspectors back in place and our military in place north and south there really wasn’t much Saddam was in position to do. And yes, I think everyone is happy he is gone but that in itself is certainly no reason to invade a sovereign nation.

I would think any average Joe not using his emotions for his brains would question Bush’s leadership here too.

5) The deficit and economic growth: we raised taxes on the top 10% in 93 and the economy continued to grow so I think it reasonable to assume that rolling back the tax cut on the top 10% will not have ill effects on the economy this time. Further, by rolling back part of the cut there is now some room to fix the AMT and make the CTC adjustments permanent which will without no doubt be of benefit to middle America and the economy and I think the average Joe smart enough to realize that.

So the deficit is a concern as is retaining the portions of the tax cut the have the greatest impact on the majority of Americans and vote for Bush by the average Joe is the best way to loose control of the first and totally loose the second.

jshore
02-23-2004, 01:44 PM
But it doesn't tell us why the mega-ultra wealthy pay so little, and it doesn't tell us what the rich as a whole do, and as such it's less than indicative.

Well, he argues that one reason why the mega-wealthy pay so little is the cuts in the capital gains tax (and more recent, dividends tax). In fact, I believe he shows that there effective tax rate rose somewhat in the first part of 1992-2000 period and then dropped back down quite dramatically after the capital gains tax rate went down to 20%. [Much of the book also talks about various ways the very rich shelter money from taxation...but many of these actually mean they don't even report the income and so it doesn't even figure into their effective tax rate.]

Of course, I don't know how you define "rich as a whole", i.e., where your cutoff is. His book as a whole seems to be most focussed on those in the top 1% or even fraction of 1%. It's a whole book on the subject and I've just summarized about 1 or 2 pages of it in my post above. I heartily recommend you read the whole thing (i'm into chapter 4 now myself) and then you can come back and tell us what you think.

You may think that focussing even on the top 1% is considering only a tiny portion of the population but I'll remind you that these folks are pulling down about 20% of the reported income. (I think their fraction of the total wealth may even be higher...but I'm not sure.) And, the whole point of the book is that nearly all the rest of us are being ripped off by the tax avoidance of a very wealthy few.

g8rguy
02-23-2004, 02:10 PM
Well, he argues that one reason why the mega-wealthy pay so little is the cuts in the capital gains tax (and more recent, dividends tax). In fact, I believe he shows that there effective tax rate rose somewhat in the first part of 1992-2000 period and then dropped back down quite dramatically after the capital gains tax rate went down to 20%. Yes, one would assume that the capital gains tax cut had a lot to do with it. Next question: if that's indeed the cause, has the capital gains rate cut been a bad thing? If not, what are we worrying about?

Of course, I don't know how you define "rich as a whole", i.e., where your cutoff is. His book as a whole seems to be most focussed on those in the top 1% or even fraction of 1%.Of course, defining rich as a whole is certainly nebulous. I think the top 1% is a good number to look at, but I wouldn't insist on it, and if you wanted to use 0.5% or 2% or some such, I'd be just as happy. But the top 0.001% seems rather... myopic.

And actually, I had better thank you for bringing the book up to begin with, because as soon as I finish my dissertation I'll try to remember to take a look at it!

pervert
02-23-2004, 03:43 PM
[...] one reason why the mega-wealthy pay so little [...]Please. This seems like a nit pick, but this is the type of language we have to eliminate. The mega wealthy do not pay "so little".

And, the whole point of the book is that nearly all the rest of us are being ripped off by the tax avoidance of a very wealthy few.And this is another.

In 2000 the top 1% of households, earned about 17.8% of the income. They paid 25.6% of the total federal tax. Now, I'm all for discussing whether this number is too much or too little. I'm all for everyone having opinions about whether taxes on this group or that group need to go up or down. But as you so wisely said in another thread, we have to start with a more reasonable acknowledgement of the current situation. A quarter of the total federal taxes is hardly "so little". And while they do earn more of the total income than others, they are hardly "ripping us off" by paying a greater portion of the taxes than they earn of the income.

On a similar note, jshore, can you tell me if this summary is accurate? (http://www.stw.org/order/books/PL.html)

Also, We discussed this book before (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=236391&highlight=David+Johnston) .

jshore
02-23-2004, 05:20 PM
Please. This seems like a nit pick, but this is the type of language we have to eliminate. The mega wealthy do not pay "so little".

Well, as you can see from my post, I stole that language from g8rguy, so take it up with him. ;)


In 2000 the top 1% of households, earned about 17.8% of the income. They paid 25.6% of the total federal tax. Now, I'm all for discussing whether this number is too much or too little. I'm all for everyone having opinions about whether taxes on this group or that group need to go up or down. But as you so wisely said in another thread, we have to start with a more reasonable acknowledgement of the current situation.

Well, in this case, I thought I was borrowing language from Johnston, although now that I look back at the title, I realize I substituted "rip off" for "cheat". But if you read Johnston's book, his points are that

(1) They are using various scams to avoid paying taxes that they really ought to be paying. Many (although certainly not all) of these scams are not illegal, hence the book title, but they are loopholes to get around the law, or in some cases, changes in the law that are made often in a quite secretive manner to benefit a select wealthy few.

(2) Also note that many of these operate at the level where they reduce the income one even has to report. So, it is not really clear if the income of the very wealthy isn't being understated by a significant amount. As the reference you found says, quoting the book itself (in a claim that I'll admit I didn't get to look into his documentation for...He referenced some NY Times article):


If you tally up the economic benefits to the top 1 percent that do not show up in income statistics – for reasons of written law and because of tax tricks fashioned by lawyers like Blattmachr – then the richest 1 percent are taxed more lightly than the middle class. The same data show that the poor are taxed almost as heavily as the rich are – and even more heavily than the superrich. (p. 11)


(3) I am not sure exactly where Johnston would draw the line, but I think he is particularly interested in some fraction of the top 1%...The ones who really have the good tax lawyers working for them. As that reference that you found says:


Among those “hurt” by changes in the tax system are those whose incomes rise as high at $500,000 a year – for even this wealthy group has gotten the shaft in favor of the super-super rich.



On a similar note, jshore, can you tell me if this summary is accurate? (http://www.stw.org/order/books/PL.html)

I just skimmed it...And, as I've noted, I am not that far into Johnston's book yet, but the short answer is that this summary seems to be pretty accurate.


Also, We discussed this book before (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=236391&highlight=David+Johnston) .

Good point. To be honest, I forgot that that thread started out with the OP referring to Johnston's book. We seem to have quickly deviated into other related issues.

jshore
02-23-2004, 05:31 PM
I have no idea whatsoever what he means by "average person". But this cite (http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4514&sequence=3) indicates that the top 10% paid 29.7%, the top 5% paid 31.1, and the top 1% paid 33.2% in total effective federal taxes. The numbers for income taxes are lower. At 19.7%, 21.6%, and 24.2% respectively. If you can come up with his method for calculating the "average person" I would appreciate it.

Well, note he was talking only about federal income tax there. As for "average person", that is my poor choice of terms probably (I'm picking up bad habits from Bush)...He talked about the average rate by which I am pretty sure he meant the total amount of federal income tax paid divided by the total amount of income.

Note that it is important to compare numbers from the same source, as he notes different sources generally have somewhat different numbers although the conclusions are usually pretty much the same if you use the same method of measuring consistently.


From a later post:
And how much of the total taxes collected did they pay? I suspect it is quite a bit higher than 1.1%. Don't you?

Well, no...It would be a somewhat higher but not that much because their tax rate wasn't that much higher than the average (and would have been even less so if the Bush tax cuts had been in place). And, this is before we consider all the other more regressive taxes.


I understand that these numbers represent the top 1% rather than the top 400. But as you can see the numbers given by David Cay Johnston are clearly against the trend. I'd like to hear his evidence for the numbers presented in his book. Extraordinary claims and all that...

Well, his numbers come directly from the IRS release of the tax returns of the top 400 taxpayers. I think he would agree that the top 400 are better tax-avoiders than your top-1%er is.


From your earlier post and in no particular order:
No. From the report I cited "Most households pay more payroll taxes than income taxes; in 2000, nearly 71 percent of households did so (see Table 2). (Table C-1 provides data for the full 1979-2000 period.) That statistic counts both the employee and employer shares of payroll taxes--because, as most economists conclude, workers bear the full cost of such taxes.".

Oh, okay, thanks for digging that up...My guess was wrong. Glad to see they figure it this way.

Gotta go...will deal with the rest later.

pervert
02-23-2004, 05:33 PM
Well, as you can see from my post, I stole that language from g8rguy, so take it up with him. ;)My bad. g8rguy, consider yourself warned ;)

(1) They are using various scams to avoid paying taxes that they really ought to be paying.Of course there are tax cheats. And certianly there will be more rich tax cheats than poor tax cheats at least as a percentage of the group. Part of the lessons from the eighties was that if we lower the rates, we can reduce the loopholes and get similar amounts of revenue (I'm not saying that is the only or even most important lesson, don't bite me). But I'd be really interested in the other side of this coin. How much money do these 400 richest people pay? How much of the total taxes came from them?

(2) Also note that many of these operate at the level where they reduce the income one even has to report.Well, to do this they would have to hide the income from other sources as well. That is, if I am not mistaken, the CBO site I linked to did not simply look at tax returns and note total claimed income. IT used other methods of determining household income.

So,
it is not really clear if the income of the very wealthy isn't being understated by a significant amount.Yes, but extraordinary claims... He might need to provide more definitive proof that such a thing is occuring before we go out and hire more gestapo personel to hunt down those evil richies. ;)


He referenced some NY Times article[QUOTE]They weren't his own articles were they?

[QUOTE]Good point. To be honest, I forgot that that thread started out with the OP referring to Johnston's book. We seem to have quickly deviated into other related issues.That's all right. I remember. I recieved a significatn drumming from you on many very badly argued points (by me). So I remember the thread quite well. :) I learned a lot. It is what finally lead me to spend time with that CBO site and run numbers through my own spread sheet.

Desmostylus
02-24-2004, 01:39 AM
Yes, thank you, Desmo. Any time you wish to try saying something useful, you may begin.

Even you apparently understand that the data is not representative. Frankly, I'm stunned that anyone is defending using unrepresentative data as a gauge of anything, and that pointing out that the data isn't a usefully representative sample is somehow controversial. If you are willing to use unrepresentative data to make some sort of case, you are being intellectually dishonest. I'd hope for better. If I hope in vain, that's not my problem, but yours.Actually, the problem is entirely yours. You are still whining about the data not being "representative". I repeat: no one said it was, or was supposed to be a representative sample of some larger class of people that you are unwilling or unable to define.I am not trying to claim that the rich don't pay an insufficient amount of taxes.Neither am I, and in fact I haven't said a single word on the topic in this thread.I am claiming that knowing what 400 people are paying in taxes doesn't tell me squat about what the rich in general are doing, which is what we should be worried about. Perhaps if you'd included a statement like this in your initial post, instead of an attempted sarcastic dismissal of the data, I wouldn't have taken such exception.You, apparently, think differently, and in your little world, it's my job to prove you wrong.As I said, I haven't stated a position one way or the other. You are assuming that I have a position, and you have made an assumption about what it would be if I had one. But then, since in your little world the DJIA is all I need to know to gauge the economy's strength, I'm not surprised.If I'd said anything even remotely resembling that, you might have some kind of point, I guess. In my world, you're not worth wasting my time on: If you don't understand that unrepresentative data allows one to draw no meaningful conclusions, you need more time than I am willing to devote.Not sure what to make of that. You refered to my "ilk" earlier, and I think you intentended it to mean something like "liberal commie pinkos". My "ilk" is actually "people who have qualifications in econometrics and who understand the subject better than you do".

g8rguy
02-24-2004, 10:58 AM
Desmo, you know... I was prepared to be immensely irritated with you, but on rereading, I owe you an apology instead. Something about the way you phrased your objections really irked me, but that's not an excuse. Sorry.

Susanann
02-24-2004, 11:36 AM
Bush is as liberal as kerry, but the republican congress is not stopping anything liberal that bush does.

If kerry were elected, you would see the republicans trying to stop all liberal legislation. I doubt that the republicans would have supported the war in iraq, the huge deficits, the trade deficit, the homeland security bill, prescrition medicines, etc if a demcrat president tried to get them thru.

Electing a democrat president would cause the republicans in congress to once again come up with a "conservative contract with america".

pervert
02-25-2004, 12:33 AM
Well, no...It would be a somewhat higher but not that much because their tax rate wasn't that much higher than the averageI say quite a bit, and you say somewhat. Some day you and I have to have a conversation to come to some agreement on how to draw the line between the two value judgements. :)

In 2000, the top 1% paid 25% of the tax and earned 17% of the income. If we take your assumption about the top 400 (1.1% of the income) and the numbers for the revenue for that year (was it 2003? or 2002?) I'm using 2003, because I have some numbers from there. (http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=1824&sequence=0) The extimated tax base for 2003 is 5 trillion dollars. 1% of that is about 50 billion dollars. 22.2% of that (from your earlier post quoting fromt he book) is about 11 billion. Given that the 2003 budget is projected (on the CBO cite) at 1.7 trillion, we have the top 400 tax payers paying about 6% of the total collected tax.

I'm sorry if I confused 2003 with some other year, or if I mixed up any of the other numbers. I just wanted to get straight the difference between slightly higher and quite a bit higher is. I think 6 times is quite a bit higher. jshore seems to think that 6 times is only "somewhat" higher. ;) <just ribbing a little j.>

Oh, okay, thanks for digging that up...My guess was wrong. Glad to see they figure it this way.No problem. Thanks for asking the question. As soon as you did, I found I was not sure, and began worrying about that cite I have been relying on.

Desmostylus
02-25-2004, 07:15 AM
g8rguy: No worries, forget about it. :)

jshore
02-25-2004, 07:50 PM
I say quite a bit, and you say somewhat. Some day you and I have to have a conversation to come to some agreement on how to draw the line between the two value judgements. :)

In 2000, the top 1% paid 25% of the tax and earned 17% of the income. If we take your assumption about the top 400 (1.1% of the income) and the numbers for the revenue for that year (was it 2003? or 2002?) I'm using 2003, because I have some numbers from there. (http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=1824&sequence=0) The extimated tax base for 2003 is 5 trillion dollars. 1% of that is about 50 billion dollars. 22.2% of that (from your earlier post quoting fromt he book) is about 11 billion. Given that the 2003 budget is projected (on the CBO cite) at 1.7 trillion, we have the top 400 tax payers paying about 6% of the total collected tax.

I'm sorry if I confused 2003 with some other year, or if I mixed up any of the other numbers. I just wanted to get straight the difference between slightly higher and quite a bit higher is. I think 6 times is quite a bit higher. jshore seems to think that 6 times is only "somewhat" higher. ;) <just ribbing a little j.>


Ah, pervert, you have messed up here. I am not going to trace your error exactly, but there is no way you can have the top 400 paying at a 22.2% rate and the average person paying at at 15.3% rate and get that the top 400 taxpayers are paying 6% of the total collected tax. That just doesn't add up. What you want to do is multiply their income share of 1.1% by the ratio (22.2%/15.3%) which will get you about 1.6% of the taxes. And, that was before the Bush tax cuts which are estimated to drop their rate to 17.5% which means they will pay about 1.26% of the taxes. Personally, I think a factor of 1.14 is very accurately (if not generously) described as "somewhat higher but not that much"! :D

[If you want to be sure I did the math correctly, it is easy to check. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the total amount of income earned in the country was $10 trillion. (The amount you assume doesn't matter since it will appear in the numerator and the denominator and thus cancel out.) Then the top 400 get $110 billion (=$10 trillion X 1.1%) and would have (if Bush tax cuts had been in effect) paid taxes of $19.25 billion (=$110 billion X 17.5%). The taxpayers as a whole would have paid $1.53 trillion (=$10 trillion X 15.3%). If you divide $19.25 billion into $1.53 trillion, you get 1.26%.]

g8rguy
02-25-2004, 08:23 PM
g8rguy: No worries, forget about it. :)grand, thanks!

pervert
02-25-2004, 09:23 PM
Yep. My bad. I used the total expected revenue for 2003 instead of the revenue for individual income taxes. That number is about 794 billion. Of which 11 billion is about 1.4%.. Also it appears that my I dropped a decimal point one place left in my last calculation. I should have put .6% instead of 6%. If I had not made that second mistake I would have caught the first one. As it turns out, two wrongs make pervert a bad boy :smack:

In other news, it appears we are comparing apples and amigas again. The percentages from the book we are talking about seem to be focusing exclusively on personal income tax returns. I wonder what happens to them when we add in the other revenue sources. This ratio (groups tax rate) divided by (average or total tax rate) goes up for every income group above the bottom This cite. (http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4514&sequence=3) At least when you look at total income share vs total tax share. This seems to be because while the share of social security tax goes down as income goes up, the share of corporate taxes goes up even more as income goes up.

I suspect that the author is looking at income tax, or income tax combined with social security tax and ignoring (or perhaps reassigning them) corporate taxes. As we saw from the graph in the last cite of mine this can reverse the progresivity of the tax rate. As you read the book, would you look out for this? I'd appreciate very much hearing your thoughts.

Thanks again for noticing my error. I will take another turd off of your list. ;)

pervert
02-25-2004, 10:06 PM
I should add that a factor of 1.14 is certainly "somewhat higher".

So, can we agree from now on that a factor fo 1.15 is more than somewhat higher? ;)

jshore
02-25-2004, 10:21 PM
I suspect that the author is looking at income tax, or income tax combined with social security tax and ignoring (or perhaps reassigning them) corporate taxes. As we saw from the graph in the last cite of mine this can reverse the progresivity of the tax rate. As you read the book, would you look out for this? I'd appreciate very much hearing your thoughts.

Well, so far Johnston has focussed almost exclusively on income taxes so it hasn't come in.

I don't know what the solution is for how to incorporate corporate taxes. I assume from your description that CBO is reassigning them on the basis of assuming they come off of dividends and capital gains that the rich get? It is interesting because conservatives always try to claim that higher corporate income taxes just get past on to the consumer, in which case they would actually be regressive (like sales taxes). Of course, I think this is too simplistic. But, I do hope that CBO isn't going to the other extreme and assigning 100% of the corporate income taxes to people's dividends and capital gains.


Thanks again for noticing my error. I will take another turd off of your list. ;)

How many do I have left?

Just to point out, erislover used to be named aynrandlover and probably came in with stronger libertarian leanings than you and look where he is now. So, there's hope for you, yet! ;)

pervert
02-25-2004, 10:38 PM
I assume from your description that CBO is reassigning them on the basis of assuming they come off of dividends and capital gains that the rich get? They say " Taxes on businesses were attributed to households. [...]Economists find less consensus on the ultimate incidence of corporate income taxes. For this analysis, CBO considered the taxes to be borne by owners of capital under the assumption that the taxes affect the way capital is allocated between the corporate and noncorporate sectors of the economy, which influences the rate of return on all capital. CBO allocated corporate tax liabilities to households in proportion to their income from interest, dividends, rents, and capital gains.

It is interesting because conservatives always try to claim that higher corporate income taxes just get past on to the consumer, in which case they would actually be regressive (like sales taxes). Of course, I think this is too simplistic. But, I do hope that CBO isn't going to the other extreme and assigning 100% of the corporate income taxes to people's dividends and capital gains.They seem to have assigned them based on an assumption about ownership of capital. I think this is quite reasonable. If you assign corporate taxes to customers, you should also assign some portion of proffesionals taxes to the users of those services, no? Certainly, higher corporate taxes would make goods more expensive. But higher taxes on doctors, for instance, might make health care more expensive as well.

How many do I have left? I'm not sure. I intend to testify that you made me do math when I did not want to. I will, however, in your defence, remind the judges that you also helped me when I needed it. We'll let them determine who many that leave you. ;)

So, there's hope for you, yet! ;)I doubt that very much. :D

jshore
02-25-2004, 10:40 PM
I assume from your description that CBO is reassigning them on the basis of assuming they come off of dividends and capital gains that the rich get?

Just to answer my own question, from your CBO site:


Corporate income taxes are distributed to households according to their share of capital income.


I must admit that I am not too keen on this assumption. While I have never agreed with the conservative's argument that higher corporate taxes are all just passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices (when conservatives want to make the point that we need to lower this taxes), this counter-assumption that the CBO makes does seem a bit too extreme the other way to me. I wonder if there are any economics studies that weigh in on how this should be assigned.

pervert
02-25-2004, 10:46 PM
I know I am going to get in trouble for this, but I have to ask.

If you were President, jshore, what would you do if you felt strongly about this assignment of corporate tax issue? Might you require that they change the assumption?

jshore
02-26-2004, 02:24 PM
Well, I don't think the President can control the CBO since it answers to Congress. But, to answer your question more in a hypothetical sense, if I felt there was a better way this could be done, I might ask them to study it or ask an independent party (NAS or the equivalent for economics) to weigh in on the issue. But I would not simply try to force them to do what I thought they ought to do.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
06-19-2004, 01:40 PM
Because daily news reports about the latest trials and tribulations of "Kenneth Lay, close personal friend of President Bush" would not look good to Karl Rove.

That's why Martha Steward is getting all the headlines these days. Why go after ol' buddy ol' pal Kenny Boy when you can throw someone else into the shark pit?

I'm not convinced that the indictments against Fastow and Skilling have been moving with all due speed, myself.How about now? (http://money.cnn.com/2004/06/19/news/newsmakers/enron_lay.reut/index.htm?cnn=yes)

rjung
06-20-2004, 02:26 AM
About damn time. Guess those audio tapes of Enron executives cackling (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/06/01/eveningnews/main620626.shtml) over the rape of California was too much to ignore.

ElvisL1ves
06-20-2004, 08:13 AM
Oh, Kenny Boy,
The prosecutor's ca-alling ...