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OhCaptainMyCaptain
Sep 17 2008
Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

I need some political advise that I hope everyone/anyone on this post can address. I am a non-believer, and with that criterion, Barak O'Bama et al. stands head and shoulders above the McCain/Palin ticket. I am a fiscal conservative, like to shoot guns, and believe that government should be smaller and play a lesser role in the lives of people. The federal government was established to hold the independent states of the US together and to have a unified defense. Look at the piles and piles of beurocracy we now have in the 21st century. These facts make me lean towards the Republican ticket, which with Sarah Palin now on, scares the crap out of me.

Are there others out there with a secular humanist stance, but simply feel that O'bama doesn't have the experience to be President, and are leaning towards McCain? As a freethinker I am open minded. Somebody please convince me before November that O'bama is ready to be president. I have never voted for a Republican Presidental candidate before, but right now I think I would have to. Does religion matter that much in a candidate anyway? As humanists, we are in the minority and will not be catered to by a candidate.

n-atheist
Sep 17 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

I've never really bought into the idea that one party is for "big government" and "government intrusion in our lives" and that the other party is opposed to it. I think this is a myth.

We're basically all in agreement that the government is responsible for national security. Now, we could differ on how we think that would be done best. For example, I personally think that the Bush administrations "go it alone / we're tough" approach has done more harm than good for this country. That doesn't mean I don't believe in national security, just that I think it could be done better.

But, there are other things the government really needs to do. I think the government needs to protect the rights of its individuals, especially minorities who are apt to be abused by the majority. I mean, the Constitution promises some things to citizens -- things like a fair trial, freedom of speech, etc. It is not enough for the government to just avoid violating these things itself. If you don't list it among the powers of the government to actually take action to guarantee these rights, then they are essentially worthless.

This is where a lot of the trouble lies, because protecting one person's rights can always be interpreted as violating another person's rights. I think a LOT of the controversies (guns, abortion, smoking, prayer in schools, etc.) come down to this. If the government just tries to stay out of these things -- as if they can be "neutral" -- then some will see it as an instance in which they are failing to protect the rights promised to some individuals (the victims of gun violence, the unborn child, the non-smoker in a bar, the atheist's child in the public school classroom). But, if they do take action, then the government is accused of overstepping its powers and being too intrusive.

Look, I'm not saying which of these views I agree with and which I don't. That's not the point. The point is that it is not as simple as saying "small government is good and big government is bad". We've got to make the difficult decisions about where government should exercise its powers and where it should not. It is clear to me that "the smallest government possible", is too small and would subject many Americans to abuse that the government really ought to take action to avoid.

And, it is not just protecting people's rights which is an important role of government that is often ignored by "small government" worshipers. Perhaps in 1776 it would have made sense, but in 2008 the government really needs to take action to support the infrastructure. Roads. Bridges. SCHOOLS! If the government was not providing those basic things, we'd ALL be worse off.

And, in my opinion, making sure that the poor are not turned into virtual slaves -- as they were at the turn of the 20th century before the New Deal policies that the Republicans so despise -- is a combination of the two. The work force is an important piece of the American infrastructure. If we let it deteriorate through neglect, that would be just as bad as letting the bridges collapse. PLUS, unlike the bridges, the workforce is made up of people who have their own rights.

Anyway, I don't know if this is at all what you wanted to hear, but I think the way you framed the question in terms of government playing a "lesser role" in people's lives is part of a misconception. We all want the government to do SOME things and not to do OTHERS. The parties don't differ so much on HOW MUCH they want to do as they differ on which things they will do. I'm going to be voting for Obama...and I can see why some people would want to vote for McCain. But I would not say it's a matter of "more" or "less". Instead it's would you rather see smoking illegal to protect non-smokers from cancer or Roe v Wade overturned to protect fetuses from abortions -- would you rather see see money given to companies "too large to fail" or to people too poor to eat -- would you rather protect the right of a Christian public school teacher to try to save the souls of their students or the rights of non-Christian students to not have religion imposed on them by a government employee -- and so on.

kayaker
Sep 17 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

feel that O'bama doesn't have the experience to be President

Except in private e-mails to friends I haven't elevated Obama to Irish (O'bama) status.

As for the experience level, none of these politicians Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin have yours or my experience of going to work each day in a real job. None of them have my entrepreneurial experience of "making payroll".

On foreign policy or most other issues, does being Governor of Arkansas (Clinton) or Texas (Bush) or Alaska (Palin) or being a POW (I was a Navy officer during Vietnam) qualify one to meet Iran's Ahmadinejad?

n-atheist writes
the idea that one party is for "big government" and "government intrusion in our lives" and that the other party is opposed to it. I think this is a myth.

I agree that that is true today on the party definition. Forgetting the parties for a moment, there is a split among those who believe that the government can solve all problems and those who believe that the government's purpose as defined by our founders was to provide a common currency, field a national army, and to negotiate treaties.

The problem today in the "conservative" movement is that they want less government UNLESS it is to their benefit. Homeowners are a prime example. OUR government will do anything to bail out homeowners whether it is financing bad (subprime) mortgages (or the companies who make them) or bailing out the clueless who build/purchase homes on barrier islands. (See http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/29/kiawah_sand_spit_bill_gets_ax52390/

n-atheist also writes
in 2008 the government really needs to take action to support the infrastructure. Roads. Bridges. SCHOOLS! If the government was not providing those basic things, we'd ALL be worse off.

And I completely agree on roads and bridges. However, today's public schools are an abysmal failure. Prior to moving here I lived in Hawaii where they compete with SC as to whom has the worst schools. Yes, a lot of the blame can be laid on the family/culture but an equal share lands on the Teacher's union and the Democrats who swear by unions.

Honestly, to your original question, I have not decided whom to vote for.

Barack Obama is too liberal for me, i.e. he believes that the federal government can solve all problems. The first half of [u:1zkecs8p]Audacity of Hope[/u:1zkecs8p] is an excellent read and explains how Congressmen/women ease in to special favors.

I'm more in tune with McCain but let's face it, he is 72 years old. While I wish him a long life, I am very worried about Sarah Palin.

I have no issue with the fact that Governor Palin is a strong, determined woman but I fear that she may be within a heartbeat of the presidency with her evangelical views that Darwin is nuts and man walked with the dinosaurs.

Tough call!

Dennis

Alex_Kasman
Sep 18 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

Hi, OhCaptainMyCaptain, welcome to the SHL discussion board!

I'd like to make a comment about your post, but first I'd like to reply to something in Kayaker's post:

And I completely agree on roads and bridges. However, today's public schools are an abysmal failure. Prior to moving here I lived in Hawaii where they compete with SC as to whom has the worst schools. Yes, a lot of the blame can be laid on the family/culture but an equal share lands on the Teacher's union and the Democrats who swear by unions.

I have a completely different opinion than you on this topic. Of course, we're entitled to different opinions. But, as an educator in this state (I have taught hundreds of students who went to school here) and a parent of a child in the public school system here in Charleston, I think I have access to some important information. So, please, give some consideration to my views before you reject them.

The idea that the public schools are a failure is yet another myth spread by politicians. It seems that voters are always willing to believe this, though I'm not sure why. I swear that in every state I've lived in (and that's quite a few) the political candidates were telling people that their schools were the worst in the country and that they were going to fix it by taking control. As far as I can tell, neither is true: the schools are not doing poorly and the steps taken by politicians generally make things worse rather than better.

By what criterion are you claiming that the schools are bad? School children in the US today learn so much more, and learn it so much faster, than we learned when we were kids. It is completely ridiculous to hear adults today complaining about how bad the schools have gotten. The statewide standards for science, math, history, writing, reading, etc. have the sixth graders today learning things we didn't learn until high school! One of the public schools in Charleston (the Academic Magnet) ranked among the top 10 schools in the nation. The SC standards were also rated among the best in the nation.

The only standard I know of by which our schools are failing is that many of them don't meet the bar set by the politicians. But, this doesn't mean anything if the bar is placed too high! If there is a problem, it is that we're pushing the kids too hard and too fast, and that's the fault of the politicians who continuously argue that they're not learning enough. I'm a math professor, and even I think it is ridiculous to require all 6th graders to learn probability and to expect nearly all of the 12th graders to study calculus! That's too much to expect of people, and OF COURSE you'll find that many schools are not able to do it.

Unions have the job of trying to get workers as much as they can out of their employers, just as employers try to give as little as they can to the employees. Seems like a fair balance of power to me. But, the political parties seem to enjoy making one of the two (depending on which party) into a scapegoat for all of the problems (including the imaginary problems like the supposed failure of our schools). But, I can assure you that the myth that being a teacher in a public school is a cushy job where you get lots of benefits for little work is quite far from the reality. Being a teacher is a really hard job which requires working a lot of extra hours, and all that the "powerful union" has been able to achieve for them is pay that is a little low instead of very low. (There is also the issue of the unions making it difficult to fire teachers. I wish that could be avoided, because I can see how it might sometimes keep a person on the job who was not performing well enough. BUT, nearly all of the teachers our daughter had in school here have been pretty good, and more than a handful have been EXCELLENT. More importantly, I think that this only arose in response to unfair treatment of the teachers by their employers -- the school boards and politicians -- and so it is disingenuous to lay all of the blame on them.)

Sorry for the diatribe, Dennis, but this is an issue that is very important to me. Again, please feel free to disagree with me, but before you do make sure that you're basing your opinion on the reality of the situation and not the hyperbole you hear from political candidates and talk-radio hosts who benefit from getting people fired up about the "failing schools" even if the schools are pretty darn good by any reasonable standard.

Anyway, OhCaptainMyCaptain, back to your original question. As you see from the discussion above, even humanists can disagree on politics. There is no one answer we all agree upon. What we do agree on is that we need to base our decisions on facts and reason, not on fantasies or dogma. President Bush is a good example of what happens when we have a president who doesn't know how to make rational decisions. So, I'm looking for a candidate who will get good information and analyze it logically. Their ideologies aside, it looks to me as if Obama is the one who can do that better. He was a professor of Constitutional law at the University of Chicago and had a reputation there for being able to really think deeply about questions and come up with well supported answers. He did NOT have a reputation for being an idealogue -- his answers were not always in support of the liberal dogma, nor of the conservative dogma of his colleagues. Instead, his answers were the ones that actually made sense. I'm glad that the Republican candidate is not someone who always sticks to his party's dogma. But, I don't see that McCain's decisions are driven by careful reasoning either. Instead, he seems to be a guy who makes snap decisions based on raw emotion. That would only be a slight improvement over Bush who also makes snap decisions based on raw emotion -- but then concludes that it is the Will of God and can't possibly be wrong.

Well, this is an interesting discussion! I hope that more people write in with more different views. I'm sure we're not going to find much to agree upon here, but it is just nice to see the variety of opinions humanists can have on an important question such as this.

Thanks!

Alex

OhCaptainMyCaptain
Sep 18 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

This came as a timely article in the journal Science. It is summarized in Scientific American as Voting Republican May Be a Survival Response. :o

Check it out if you have time.

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/bei ... news_rss20

n-atheist
Sep 18 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

Kayaker says:

Forgetting the parties for a moment, there is a split among those who believe that the government can solve all problems and those who believe that the government's purpose as defined by our founders was to provide a common currency, field a national army, and to negotiate treaties.

One of the weird things about America today is how everything has become so black and white. For example, Bush's "Your either with me or with the terrorists".

Why do you think everyone must think that government can solve all problems or the opposite extreme? Perhaps there are some people who are one or the other, but surely there are lots of people out there who think that there are some problems the government can (and should) work to solve and others that are best resolved without government. It sounds to me like Obama is in that middle ground. Here are a few quotes from a NYT article which explains that Obama really understands that there are times that the Reaganomics approach is better, and other times that it leads to disaster, and the clever part is figuring out which is which:

Some of the confusion stems from Obama’s own strategy of presenting himself as a postpartisan figure. A few weeks ago, I joined him on a flight from Orlando to Chicago and began our conversation by asking about his economic approach. He started to answer, but then interrupted himself. “My core economic theory is pragmatism,” he said, “figuring out what works.”

This, of course, is not the whole story. Invoking pragmatism doesn’t help the average voter much; ideology, though it often gets a bad name, matters, because it offers insight into how a candidate might actually behave as president. I have spent much of this year trying to get a handle on what is sometimes called Obamanomics and have come away thinking that Obama does have an economic ideology. It’s just not a completely familiar one. Depending on how you look at it, he is both more left-wing and more right-wing than many people realize.

n-atheist
Sep 20 2008
gun rights?

I know you posted asking us for advice, but I'm wondering if I can ask you a question instead, OhCaptainMyCaptain?

Honestly, I'm just trying to understand a point of view I've never understood. This is like when I ask a "believer" to tell me what they really think about God out of honest curiosity.

Since you describe yourself by saying

I am a fiscal conservative, like to shoot guns, and believe that government should be smaller and play a lesser role in the lives of people.

(listing "liking to shoot guns" along with political beliefs) that maybe you could help me to understand the "gun rights advocate" point of view.

The Second Amendment says "the right to bear arms shall not be abridged". Perhaps this part is more controversial, but as I read it, it also clearly explains the reasoning, which is that the people need to be able to fight their own government in to prevent abuse of power.

My question is this: As you read it, does this apply to ALL types of weapons or only to guns? Does it apply to nuclear weapons, ICBMS and "fertilizer bombs"? Can someone collect working copies of all of these dangerous weapons either as a hobby or to protect themselves against the US military in times of crisis?

If not, if you think the 2nd Amendment doesn't guarantee their right to have these things, then why can't we apply the same reasoning to ban private ownership of assault rifles as gun control advocates have tried to do?

If so, if the second amendment does guarantee this right, don't you think the advances in military technology have made the threat of terrorism so high and the idea of civilians successfully fighting off the army so unlikely that it is time to bring the amendment up to date?

reasonwithme
Sep 20 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

A vote for the Republican ticket this election is a slap in the face to all Americans. This isn't about being secular or government involvement - look how MORE involved the government has become over the last 8 REPUBLICAN years. Not one of them has been president and therefore none of them have presidential experience. You don't just vote for the oldest person or the one that's been there the longest - judge each person by their character - words and actions.

It's funny how McCain rode Obama's ass about being "inexperienced" and then chose Palin......such a hypocritical move and clearly using her as a ploy for the ultra conservatives and the Hillary swing base....especially considering the fact that she was only interviewed by his campaign the day before he announced her as VP and they were still trying to get info on another candidate the day she was asked to be VP....what does that say about McCain's "experienced" judgment?

If you want to bring religion into it, then the Republican VP candidate believes that the war in Iraq is "God's will". Is that not scary? Especially considering how wrong the war in Iraq is. The fact that John McCain to this day will not recognize that the Iraq war was/is wrong should tell you something about his judgement....shouldn't he be more intelligent in regards to that subject since he is more "experienced"? Look at how die hard she is about "abstinence only" while her own teenage unwed daughter gets knocked up (and only getting married for the baby - horrible idea/philosophy)....also, Palin was supposedly pregnant with her first son before she got married.

Bush is a complete failure as president. How could you vote for anybody who kisses his ass? Change isn't voting over 90% with George Bush over the last couple of years.

McCain admitted on multiple occasions he doesn't know much about economics....how's he going to fix our economy? Especially while agreeing with the incumbent who wrecked it. McCain didn't know how many houses he has....and why should it matter...because if you're making over $112,000 a year then you're getting huge tax breaks under McCain (while Obama's breaks are larger than McCain's for those making under $112,000 - aka most of the American people in the country). His buddy George W. also admitted nationally that he didn't have any information/was unaware that gas was $4 a gallon....show's you how out of touch they are.

I can write a book about how unfit McCain and Palin are. They are both pathological liars and run a smear campaign from hell. McCain gets blasted on every ad he puts out because of how much he lies.

Please read the facts on the candidates and vote responsibly.

OhCaptainMyCaptain
Sep 22 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

natheist

You pose for me a very interesting question: :?

The Second Amendment says "the right to bear arms shall not be abridged". Perhaps this part is more controversial, but as I read it, it also clearly explains the reasoning, which is that the people need to be able to fight their own government in to prevent abuse of power.

My question is this: As you read it, does this apply to ALL types of weapons or only to guns? Does it apply to nuclear weapons, ICBMS and "fertilizer bombs"? Can someone collect working copies of all of these dangerous weapons either as a hobby or to protect themselves against the US military in times of crisis?

If not, if you think the 2nd Amendment doesn't guarantee their right to have these things, then why can't we apply the same reasoning to ban private ownership of assault rifles as gun control advocates have tried to do?

If so, if the second amendment does guarantee this right, don't you think the advances in military technology have made the threat of terrorism so high and the idea of civilians successfully fighting off the army so unlikely that it is time to bring the amendment up to date?

I have to admit, I have never really thought of the 2nd Ammendment like this before. My personal opinion is that it should be limited to guns. I do not believe any reasonable person would say that all citizens have the inalienable right to sequester nukes. Assault rifles, although they have no practical value in the real world, do/would serve the purpose of individual defense against one's own military. I am not an advocate for them, but I cannot reasonably exclude them without excluding all guns.

I also like your point on whether armed citizens could actually fight off the army or even overthrow the government in the 21st century. :lol: In the 1700s the board was fairly even. One man--one gun. Whoever had the more men typically had the advantage. The constitution was written with this mindset, so it was entirely feasible for an uprising against a tyrannical government succeeding. Today, however, with the military might of the US, I find it difficult to imagine a head-to-head battle militia vs. Uncle Sam. Unless a coup force copied the tactics of terrorists, e.g. hit hard then hide among the populus.

Thanks for the stimulating question.

kayaker
Sep 22 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

n-atheist penned

Why do you think everyone must think that government can solve all problems or the opposite extreme? Perhaps there are some people who are one or the other, but surely there are lots of people out there who think that there are some problems the government can (and should) work to solve and others that are best resolved without government. It sounds to me like Obama is in that middle ground.

I don't think that the government can solve "all" or "none" but rather that the populace believes that the government can help "me" or "others".

If I build my McMansion/home on a barrier-island/mud-slided hillside/forest then I expect the government to reimburse me when the hurricane/rain/fire destroys my home. If I greedily invest my funds in Enron/investment banking/mutual funds then I expect the G-ment to bail out my ass if those investments fail. Has anyone complained that they were receiving unreasonable profits while investing?

If I choose a union career where no one can be fired, then I want the government to guarantee my retirement fund no matter how the union management mismanages the funds.

n-atheist penned
I have spent much of this year trying to get a handle on what is sometimes called Obamanomics and have come away thinking that Obama does have an economic ideology. It’s just not a completely familiar one. Depending on how you look at it, he is both more left-wing and more right-wing than many people realize.

My friends say that they will vote for Obama because it is ludicrous to cut taxes during a war. However the core of Obamanomics is to tax the wealthy so that he can give tax cuts to the middle class. I may not agree with that philosophy but it is a zero-gain sum. Obama may redistribute the tax income/revenues but HE IS NOT REDUCING OUR NATIONAL DEBT.

Dennis

n-atheist
Sep 23 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

My friends say that they will vote for Obama because it is ludicrous to cut taxes during a war. However the core of Obamanomics is to tax the wealthy so that he can give tax cuts to the middle class. I may not agree with that philosophy but it is a zero-gain sum. Obama may redistribute the tax income/revenues but HE IS NOT REDUCING OUR NATIONAL DEBT.

It sounds like you and I are in agreement on at least that point. We're going to have to find a way to raise tax revenues to pay back the huge debt we've incurred...and this week it looks like it is going to grow even huger. If you listen to what the candidates actually say, McCain talks about really lowering taxes and Obama talks about shifting taxes (as you say). I'm not sure I believe that this is what either of them actually believes. I actually believe that both of these guys are smart enough to know that taxes need to be raised. (Remember, McCain was against Bush's tax cuts before he was for them.) So, I conclude that both of them are LYING. (I know, shocking. Who would have expected it from a politician!?) I guess it isn't possible to elect an honest AND smart politician because they'd have to say out loud that we need to raise taxes and 90% of Americans would vote against them for that alone. I've already decided that Obama is closer to my opinion on most of the issues that are important to me, but even if I was just looking at this tax question, I think I'd go for his lie over McCain's lie. For one thing, the "zero sum game" you complain about is still better than the loss that would come from actually cutting taxes. Plus, given that everyone knows that candidate's promises are not entirely believable, I bet McCain could get away with not raising taxes and Obama could get away with an actual (but slight) increase if they were elected.

I have to admit, I have never really thought of the 2nd Ammendment like this before. My personal opinion is that it should be limited to guns. I do not believe any reasonable person would say that all citizens have the inalienable right to sequester nukes. Assault rifles, although they have no practical value in the real world, do/would serve the purpose of individual defense against one's own military. I am not an advocate for them, but I cannot reasonably exclude them without excluding all guns.

Ah, that's the important point there that I'm missing. The NRA always makes it sound as if any restriction on guns is equivalent to a complete ban on guns, but I think gun control advocates only want to ban SOME guns. If you agree that the second amendment protects your right to own some weapons (guns) but not others (nukes), then why can't the same argument apply to protecting some guns but not others?

Personally, I think we should keep ownership of hand guns and rifles as they are now but exclude assault weapons and plastic weapons that could pass through a metal detector, and other specific weapons that are really great for terrorists or kids planning to shoot up their schools. You and I seemed to agree that the second amendment should protect your right to own hand guns and hunting rifles, but not your right to own nuclear bombs. I think that the SAME reasoning could be applied to argue that the second amendment protects your right to own hand guns and hunting rifles, but not to own assault weapons. Like the nuclear bombs, the danger of the assault weapon in the hands of a civilian is just too high (and I don't buy the idea that you'd be able to protect yourself from the US military's satellites, drones, tanks and bunker piercing missiles because you own an assault weapon).

reasonwithme
Sep 23 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

Whether or not Obama's tax cuts are just a shift from rich to poor....the fact of the matter is that the majority of the nation will benefit from Obama's cuts where only a small percentage (comparably) will benefit from the McCain/Bush cuts. Who needs them most? Not the 6,7,8 plus figure individuals. It's common sense to me. It's not the best plan in my opinion but it's the better of the two. People also need to realize that our money isn't even backed credibly by any precious metal. The government just prints money and issues billions here and there that have billions of interest to pay back here and there......we will never fully finance the government expenditures/debt with taxes until there's been a revolutionary change in the system. The idea of credit is dangerous and has been rampantly and irresponsibly been used.

"I have never yet had anyone who could tell me, through the use of logic and reason, justify the Federal Government borrowing the use of its own money... I believe the time will come when people will demand that this be changed.

I believe the time will come in this country when they will actually blame you and me and everyone else connected with the Congress for sitting idly by and permitting such an idiotic system to continue."

-Wright Patman

Democratic Congressman 1928-1976

OhCaptainMyCaptain
Sep 24 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

reasonwithme

You put forth some very strong arguements for O'bama. Some I have never really considered before :idea: until now. You may have leaned me a little toward the left with your presuasive arguement.

You mention in your last post that

Whether or not Obama's tax cuts are just a shift from rich to poor....the fact of the matter is that the majority of the nation will benefit from Obama's cuts where only a small percentage (comparably) will benefit from the McCain/Bush cuts. Who needs them most? Not the 6,7,8 plus figure individuals.

I have a question to pose for you. One thing I believe strongly is that one of the reasons that America is THE strongest country in the world and 'the land of opportunity' is because anyone can bring their ideas to fruition will succeed in this country. It may be about greed, but the government does not penalize those who succeed (succeed in this instance defined as $). You can earn/accumulate vast amounts of wealth by your abilities and the G-men don't come and take it away from you because 'it isn't fair that he has more than me' :cry:

So, my question to you is do you believe that it is fair to tax the successful and let those who are more complacent have benefit from their work? Have you considered a flat-tax scenario?

n-atheist
Sep 24 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

Hey OCMC,

I know I'm not the one you asked, but if you don't mind, I'd like to tell you about how it looks to me. As always, I'm happy to hear opposing views as well and usually feel educated by it even if I'm not "converted", so feel free to tell me where you disagree.

For simplicity, let's consider three economic paradigms:

1) "From each from his ability, to each according to his needs": This is the socialist ideal, and some people think it sounds pretty fair. As you and I know, there is a big problem with it though: it don't work! It removes the desire of people to work hard (since they are rewarded according to their "needs", which doesn't depend on their efforts at all). Moreover, it leaves it up to human planners to decide who to reward, what to make, how much to make, etc. and this both leaves room for terrible corruption and horrible misjudgments.

2) "You can earn/accumulate vast amounts of wealth by your abilities and the G-men don't come and take it away from you because 'it isn't fair that he has more than me": To many, including you apparently, this is the American ideal. It is based entirely on the individual. However, as I'll explain below, basing the economy entirely on "the individual" is as much of a misconception as basing it entirely on "the collective". The problem is, no individual success story is as individual as it sounds. Each great American success depended on lots of people around them, people who did some of the preparatory work but did not strike it rich themselves, the workers, the customers, childhood teachers who inspired them, etc. I suggest you look at countries that don't have taxes on the wealthy which benefit the poor and see what they're actually like. I'm betting that what you'll find is a permanent underclass which is so lacking in material needs, so miserable, so uneducated, so unmotivated that they are a hinderance to the kinds of successes that you're thinking about. Yes, I also can't help but feel that this is unfair, but that's not the only problem with it. If you want the kind of success that you see in America today, the kind of international power we've amassed, you can't do it without providing resources to everyone that the poor are unable to provide for themselves.

3) "The Middle Ground" (the n-atheist way): I suggest that in between the socialist model we both reject and the individualist ideal that you propose is a happy middle ground that actually is the only one that works. In this model, the successful people are expected to recognize that they do not live in a vacuum and (contrary to what you suggest) are expected to give some of their hard earned cash to the G-men to be used for public schools, sanitation, libraries, parks, transportation, welfare, etc. These are things that do not directly benefit them (since they could buy substitutes for themselves for less money than they have to pay in taxes) but do benefit the poor people who could not afford these things and would otherwise be living in horrible, squalid conditions. They keep enough of their money to be richer than everyone else, enough to continue to inspire people to try to reproduce their success, but they do have to give up some of it. Not because "it's unfair" if they don't, but because it actually works out better this way in the end for everyone. In return, they have better workers, happier customers, and exactly the kind of social structure in which the sorts of success stories you have in mind can occur.

Here's the most important piece of evidence: let me point out that America was not "THE strongest country in the world" until AFTER the New Deal, until after Social Security, after the WPA, after Medicare and public housing. You can ignore this "inconvenient truth" and vote for politicians who will make sure that the wealthy can keep all of their money (unless they happen to be particularly charitable)...but the fact is that America was like that once, and it was not the proudest time in our history at all.

BTW, what's the deal with your username anyway? Does it mean something? (Just curious!)

Laura_Kasman
Sep 24 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

There's an interesting recent article on the relationship between taxing the rich and economic growth by Larry Beinhart, the author of Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin.

Here's an excerpt:

There is vastly more evidence the other way. Tax increases stimulate the economy. It may not make sense, it may be counter intuitive, but here are the facts. What if taxes went up to over 90%? According to the Reaganauts and Bushwhackers the world would collapse! Business would grind to a halt. Investors would flee. Workers would lay down their tools. Back in World War II, taxes did go up that high.

Americans who earned as little as $500 per year paid income tax at a 23 percent rate, while those who earned more than $1 million per year paid a 94 percent rate. The result: the American economy expanded at an unprecedented (and unduplicated) rate between 1941 and 1945. The gross national product of the U.S., as measured in constant dollars, grew from $88.6 billion in 1939 -- while the country was still suffering from the depression -- to $135 billion in 1944. EH.net (from Economic History Services)

From 1946 to 1963 the top rate fluctuated from 86% to 91%. Average economic growth was 3.5% per year. The current top income tax rate is 35%. Economic growth has been, at best, 2.5%. That is if you stop counting in 2007. And don't consider the type of growth, which consisted primarily of increased debt and pyramids of borrowing.

In 1992 the top tax rate was 31%. Bill Clinton increased it to 39.1%. The Dow Jones average went up 360%. The number of jobs went up 237,000 per month (under Bush, as of 2007, it was just 72,000 per month.). Median household income went up (instead of down). The budget was balanced......

Why did we have so much growth -- so much business growth -- when we had high taxes and when the taxes on corporate profits were actually collected? If taxes on income (personal or corporate) are high, the impulse is not to take them. Especially if they're as high as 90%. Though there's no need to go that high to start making a meaningful adjustment. What do companies and people do when they're making money in a high tax environment? They reinvest...in producing something.

Makes sense to me.....

The whole article entitled "A crash course in economics" can be found at http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/17186

reasonwithme
Sep 29 2008
Re: Humanist for McCain--an oxymoron?

"So, my question to you is do you believe that it is fair to tax the successful and let those who are more complacent have benefit from their work? Have you considered a flat-tax scenario?"

sorry for the delay....i actually had this argument with my step-father. he makes 6 figures....i make 5 figures. his argument was just what you said, if i'm correctly interpreting your question. he told me it's not fair to tax successful people who've worked hard for what they have while those peddling along get breaks. i would be totally with him if this were true. the fact is i have a college degree, stand out at work as a competent employee, work directly with terminally ill patients, and yet i would get more of a break with obama's cuts than with mccain/bush's. everyone who works hard doesn't get 6 plus figures. and everyone with 6 plus figures doesn't work hard...think of people who marry into money or inherit it. think of a baseball player who plays a game for a living and makes millions of dollars while a police officer or fireman or medical worker who directly benefits society will not see 6 figures and thus get a tax break from mccain/bush. if there was a way to go through the entire u.s. population and determine how hard everyone works given there circumstances.....it would be not only a waste of time but unsound. over 90% of america will get a bigger tax break from obama than if mccain maintains the bush tax policy. i don't have the link on hand but forbes (i believe) did a recent top ten of presidents who had the most successful economy...the top three were democrats.

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