Monday, August 28, 2006

A Point-By-Point

For those of you who like blood'n'guts verbal fistfights, perk up - there's one incoming. This is in response a comment by a reader; his comments in quotes, my response in normal font.


I don't disagree with everything Bush says, only somewhere around 99% of it. And it's not because somebody told me to, or that my brain is wired in such a way that it's impossible for me to not hate the guy... it's that if I were in his position, my policies would be entirely different on almost every level (around 99% of them). Bush's administration is full of a bunch of cronies, people with the exact same ideology as him, who have shown time and time again to be incompetent in government. But this okay in the end because it reaffirms the basis of their ideology which is "government doesn't work". It doesn't matter if they do a horrible job because they can look back and say, "see, we told you so".
You say these things with such categorical certainty that I must assume you believe them in their entirety. However, they are completely irrational, based solely on your own opinion, and have little, if any, basis in reality. If you're going to point out incompetent government leaders, please, be specific - do you oppose Condi or Cheney? Or Rumsfeld? Perhaps Powell? Be careful; all have distinguished resumes, and quite impressive careers in public service thus far.

They've bankrupted our national treasury, given the richest 1% of americans extended tax cuts in a time of DEBT. Up until 9/11, they ignored the threat that was Al Qaeda and the SPECIFIC warning that they would use planes as flying bombs. Healthcare costs have risen, public education is in shambles (just the way they want it). You know me, I could gone forever and ever. But that's not the point.
You claim all these things are the product of the Bush administration. I'll sit back and remind you that the president does not craft legislation, he merely influences it from his vocal position and can prevent it from being signed. Upset that he didn't use the veto pen more? Join the club. But the attitude that "EVERYTHING IS BECAUSE BUSH IS BAD" is just contributing to the defunct image of the democratic party -- all angst, no solutions.

The government needs to cut taxes. They need to downsize to the point that they can abolish the income tax (we did fine without one for over a century). They need to cut pork, cut spending on stupid projects, and let the market flex and fill in the gaps. Things I include in this list: public schools (in their current incarnation), national healthcare, social security, and welfare. Just on these alone you could give a huge tax cut to the entire nation, every man jack among us.

Don't say you'd do everything different, because you don't know that. Here's a point of view I had pointed out to me when grousing about Bush's refusal to veto -- if you had to spend 200 million in pork on a bill that got you 20 billion in necessary money for the armed forces, what would you do? Sometimes personal politics have to be shoved aside for the good of the whole. I think Bush has done a wonderful job on "staying the course" (George Washington's words, not Bush's) without regard to public opinion.
This president has lost my trust completely. I was wholeheartedly behind him after 9/11, I was ready to join the army. Everyone in the world was unified behind the United States of America. Now look at it. For lack of a better word, George Bush f*cked up big time.
I don't really think Bush screwed up. I think he'll be justified by historians later. I think there's a whole lot going on behind the scenes that people can and won't see. Remember his speech about the GWOT back when you were "wholeheartedly" behind him? He said this would be a long war, that it would be fought mostly behind the scenes, and that public news of victory would be few and far between. How soon we forget.
I would like to see a GOP plan for the future. Because the "stay the course" approach to everything obviously isn't working. The country is so much worse off than it was 8 years ago. Remember when the president was having extra-marital sex in the oval office? You know the time when we had a budget surplus and the market was at it's highest rate of expansion since the 60's, and gas cost a buck a gallon? Yea, those were the good old days... Clinton's track record on domestic policies makes reagon and the two bushes look foolish. That's what I want, I want my liberals back in office. That's all.
Again, I'll remind you that all the things you're attributing to the Clinton years happened with a Republican congress. Yes, the "surplus that never was", the market bubble, all of it. Except for oil prices; that beast is something no single entity can tackle. You're talking out of nothing.
If Democrats get elected this fall, they will attempt to balance the budget.
This is when you go off the deep end. If democrats get elected this fall, they'll enlarge government. For Pete's sake, Republicans enlarge government and say they won't. How much more frightening is it, then, to put a put of people in charge who tell you beforehand how much they're going to grow it?
Focus on fair(er) trade as opposed to free trade.
...Whatever that means. I assume you're jumping on the anti-China / Wal-Mart bandwagon? I'd like to politely remind you that the China can-of-worms was also opened during the "Good ol' Clinton years"...only this time, it wasn't the Republican congress that did it - it was Slick Willy himself. Lets see you squirm out of that one. (See post below for what government involvement does to the economy. Capitalism isn't fair, any more than life is, thank goodness.)
They'll stop giving oil companies that've been reporting record high profits for the last 4 years, tax breaks.
You want the government to stop giving tax breaks to oil companies? Be prepared to pay for it at the pump. Oil companies aren't evil, and they aren't not paying taxes. You want to know how much taxes these "record profiting" oil companies pay?

Past five years, Exxon Mobil:
US Earnings: $34.9 Billion
US Taxes Paid: $57.1 Billion
1Q 2006:
US Earnings: $2.3 Billion
US Taxes Paid: 3.7 Billion

That's right. When they made their record profit they actually paid MORE to the federal government than they did to their shareholders. And you want to tax them more?
They'll reform healthcare and make sure that every single child in America has healthcare.
Every child in America has the option to have healthcare, because every American has the option to buy insurance or work at a company that provides it. The opportunity is there. The only way the government could do anything about it at this point is to force people to do things at gunpoint (i.e. with the force of law). No one wants that. Incidentally, we are not guaranteed healthcare as a natural right; we are guaranteed liberty. Hence, it is unconstitutional to trade one for the other.
They'll reform campaign contributions (again).
They'll reform campaign contributions? What's there to reform? Why should the government tell private citizens who they should and shouldn't give money to? The only law that should be on the books about campaign contributions should be one of full disclosure. Again, you want a restriction of freedom -- no thanks.
They'll push for a voting system that allows you to make more choices at the ballot.
What choices would those be? A third party? Or are you talking about the ballot itself? Not more "Bush stole Florida," please. I'm not sure I could stomach it.
They'll push for better initiatives into alternative energy's, and actually TRY to make our country energy independent.
How can you say that pushing for alternative energy is a Democratic idea? The US government has spent $10B (yes, billion) since 2001 on alternative energy research. Bush himself marked $300M in his budget for developing a hydrogen powered automobile. You want to make the country energy-independent? End the liberal insistence on no new refineries; stop the stymie of drilling in ANWR, in the Gulf, and off the coast of California.
Democrats aren't weak on terrorism. This is a huge misconception. When Clinton left Washington, on every front in terms of diplomacy and homeland security, our government was doing more to thwart terrorism than when Clinton took office.
Why should I believe YOU that dems are tough on terror when the majority of likely democratic voters don't even believe that? Riddle me that. Tell me what Democrats have done for me lately.

In all honesty I hope the Democrats run on the platform you just outlined. They'll get torn to shreds in about fifteen minutes.

8 comments:

Matt said...

Wow you really dug into me there. I'm just a reader huh? That's all I am... that hurts. Anyways, I felt I had to say something to defend my honor before I headed off to work. I'll use your own words against you since you really didn't do much to prove me wrong, you actually did the exact same thing I did. You told me I was wrong, and on the basis of your ideology, tried to show how wrong I was without providing much evidence. "The government NEEDS to do this or that because that's what I believe"... that's really all I got out of that.

You say these things with such categorical certainty that I must assume you believe them in their entirety. However, they are completely irrational, based solely on your own opinion, and have little, if any, basis in reality.

rightonq said...

Boy, you and matt really got it going. I read a few of your "arguments" on his site. Interesting.

I'll tell you something though, I didn't used to find myself defending government at all until the left became so irrational. Now I find that I reflexively defending just about everything because the hyperbole is just too much. On balance, there's lots of things I could criticize Bush on, but there's NO WAY I'll vote for democrats that are running on a platform of "Blame Bush" and "Blame America".

Matt said...

It's the battle of the Matt's. Matt from texas may be right alot of the time, and he thinks I'm a loon but I usually just like to play the devil's advocate. This works because, for the most part we're respectful to one another. In fact, I'm less of a lefty than I was 5 months ago thanks to him and his "obsissive love of logic".

I love debating, it's a great hobby. It helps me hone and strengthen my own personal political opinions.

What the point-by-point misses is the humanitarian side that I believe the government should play. Cutting social programs like welfare, and privatizing things like healthcare and education are dangerous ideas. These programs are there to give everyone an even playing ground in our capitalist society. Sure, people abuse them but I believe they do a lot more good than bad (which is highly debatable) I believe in capitalism but I don't trust a completely free market. I think cutting the income tax is ludicrous, I think Rumsfeld should be fired for his handling of the Iraq War... I think Condi is a horrible diplomat (she recieves on the job training in diplomacy), I think putting a guy who hates the U.N. in charge of U.N. diplomacy is an arrogant mistake. I think putting a guy who's previous job was the manager of the arabian horse organization in charge of FEMA was stupid.

I don't think this war is being fought "behind the scenes" enough! It's out there for everyone to see. I will never accept the claim that Iraq ever had anything to do with the war on terror. Saddam had absolutely no connection with al qaeda, in fact he despised osama bin laden.

The idea that the presidency is just there to dink around and wait for bills to be mailed to the oval office for approval is naive. I know you don't think that, you know better.

Globalization and free trade are complex subjects. On the one hand, all of america's corporations are headed overseas for cheaper labor, laying off all of their american employees. Nothing is manufactured in the U.S. anymore. I think we need to push for initiatives to keep our jobs and our corporations here. On the other hand, like you say, profit is the bottom line. Profit is good. I'm not quite sure which side I'm on on this issue.

Explain to me how it's okay that the major oil companies are making record profits in a time of record high gas prices. Shouldn't they be passing the savings on to american consumers? Why do these individual corporations absolutely NEED to make 1700 dollars a SECOND in gross profit?! Yes, a second. That doesn't seem right, especially when I'm spending 80 dollars at the pump every week. I might as well just buy my own barrel of crude oil.

Yes, freedom of campaign contributions sounds great, but what's the point of government if the people who are supported by the biggest corporations in the country always get elected? And they get elected specifically to loosen regulations and pass laws that make it easier for these same corporations to make bigger profits.

When I talk about giving voters more choices at the ballot I'm not talking about Florida in 2000... although I could talk lots about that if you wanted to go there. (it's called discussing facts, not whining... look at Katherine Harris's role in it all for example) I'm specifically talking about a single transferable voting system or "second choice voting" in which you get more than one choice for a candidate that you want to see in office. You get your first choice, then a second choice, or even third. If your first choice has absolutely no chance of winning, your second choice is counted as your official vote.

Finally, the issue of terrorism. I look at the repubs strategy and its simple, "let's get 'em boys... kill 'em all". I look at the democratic strategy and I see a more comprehensive plan to defeat terrorism as an idea, because that's what it really is. Check my blog later for a post on this. As far as Clinton's role in the GWOT, don't take my word for it, just look at his record.

Matt said...

It's the battle of the Matt's. Matt from texas may be right alot of the time, and he thinks I'm a loon but I usually just like to play the devil's advocate. This works because, for the most part we're respectful to one another. In fact, I'm less of a lefty than I was 5 months ago thanks to him and his "obsissive love of logic".

I love debating, it's a great hobby. It helps me hone and strengthen my own personal political opinions.

What the point-by-point misses is the humanitarian side that I believe the government should play. Cutting social programs like welfare, and privatizing things like healthcare and education are dangerous ideas. These programs are there to give everyone an even playing ground in our capitalist society. Sure, people abuse them but I believe they do a lot more good than bad (which is highly debatable) I believe in capitalism but I don't trust a completely free market. I think cutting the income tax is ludicrous, I think Rumsfeld should be fired for his handling of the Iraq War... I think Condi is a horrible diplomat (she recieves on the job training in diplomacy), I think putting a guy who hates the U.N. in charge of U.N. diplomacy is an arrogant mistake. I think putting a guy who's previous job was the manager of the arabian horse organization in charge of FEMA was stupid.

I don't think this war is being fought "behind the scenes" enough! It's out there for everyone to see. I will never accept the claim that Iraq ever had anything to do with the war on terror. Saddam had absolutely no connection with al qaeda, in fact he despised osama bin laden.

The idea that the presidency is just there to dink around and wait for bills to be mailed to the oval office for approval is naive. I know you don't think that, you know better.

Globalization and free trade are complex subjects. On the one hand, all of america's corporations are headed overseas for cheaper labor, laying off all of their american employees. Nothing is manufactured in the U.S. anymore. I think we need to push for initiatives to keep our jobs and our corporations here. On the other hand, like you say, profit is the bottom line. Profit is good. I'm not quite sure which side I'm on on this issue.

Explain to me how it's okay that the major oil companies are making record profits in a time of record high gas prices. Shouldn't they be passing the savings on to american consumers? Why do these individual corporations absolutely NEED to make 1700 dollars a SECOND in gross profit?! Yes, a second. That doesn't seem right, especially when I'm spending 80 dollars at the pump every week. I might as well just buy my own barrel of crude oil.

Yes, freedom of campaign contributions sounds great, but what's the point of government if the people who are supported by the biggest corporations in the country always get elected? And they get elected specifically to loosen regulations and pass laws that make it easier for these same corporations to make bigger profits.

When I talk about giving voters more choices at the ballot I'm not talking about Florida in 2000... although I could talk lots about that if you wanted to go there. (it's called discussing facts, not whining... look at Katherine Harris's role in it all for example) I'm specifically talking about a single transferable voting system or "second choice voting" in which you get more than one choice for a candidate that you want to see in office. You get your first choice, then a second choice, or even third. If your first choice has absolutely no chance of winning, your second choice is counted as your official vote.

Finally, the issue of terrorism. I look at the repubs strategy and its simple, "let's get 'em boys... kill 'em all". I look at the democratic strategy and I see a more comprehensive plan to defeat terrorism as an idea, because that's what it really is. Check my blog later for a post on this. As far as Clinton's role in the GWOT, don't take my word for it, just look at his record.

Matt said...

Damn, I hate when that happens sorry again

k2aggie07 said...

Glad to hear its having an impact! Truth, justice, and the American way may prevail just yet.

The humanitarian side of the government should be left up to the private sector. Americans are generous; we give more per person than any other nation in the world. People would give more money if they weren't taxed so heavily. These same funds would be going to charitable organizations and to the people who need them, rather through the government to be dispensed to the needy. The reason for this is competition. Charities, like all private entities, compete for your dollars. Irresponsible charities lose their ability to raise money, and go away. The government is one of the most irresponsible charities ever made. They waste a large part of each dollar before that money gets to the person who needs it. By contrast, a "good" charity will only have about a 25% overhead cost. That means for every dollar you donate, they actually give .75 to the poor. The government can never match that.

You say what I outline is a "dangerous idea", but why do you think that? Because people might starve to death, or die? We're not a cruel people. These services havn't been around forever. People used to take care of one another. I'm all for organized healthcare; I think its a great thing to have medical insurance. I don't even mind government meddling to force people to have insurance (i.e. auto). I do mind the government providing said service. Its wasteful and outright wrong.

You think this war isn't being fought behind the scenes because you see reports on CNN and over the news wires. I guarantee you there's a lot going on you don't know about.

You say you'll never accept that claim. Ok, never accept it. If it turns out to be true, you can continue to deny it. That's your right. That doesn't make you correct.

The president does not craft legislation. He offers recommendations to congress, but yes...in effect, he waits for the bills to be mailed to him. He has zero say in what congress actually puts into their laws (other than to express his views, like any other American).

I don't think there's any advantage at all to having low level manufacturing jobs here. Where's the glamor in that? Who wants their kid to grow up to be an assembly line worker? Jobs going overseas mean more products for cheaper here. America isn't suffering from an employment crisis...4% is what economists call "full employment". America isn't hemorraging jobs, just swapping around where those jobs are in the market.

It is OK for companies to make record profits, especially if they're 10%. Let me repeat: it is OK for companies to make record profits. You know that insurance companies regularly make 25-50% profits? Or homebuilders, who get well over the margin Exxon gets? How about this -- gas is cheaper than milk. No one sues Kroger for their "gouging markup".

One of the tenets of capitalism is to put your product at the highest price that the market can bear. If you're not doing that, you lose...because your competitors are.

Your comment about buying your own barrel of oil is very telling. Do you know why? Because you could buy your own barrel, but you don't have the HUGE infrastructure required to refine that barrel. Hence, it is worthless to you. These companies "deserve" and "need" to get a return on their BILLIONS of dollars invested in exploration, extraction, and refining. The fact that you think their cost is too high is irrelevant. You should yell about Gates and the price of Windows, or the price of Dell PC's, or any other product thats traded in the free market. Its like trying to push back the wind.

The problem with your statement "what's the point of government if the people who are supported by the biggest corporations in the country always get elected" is this: companies don't vote. No amount of money can win an election (it does help) -- see Ross Perot's multiple failed campaigns. People are in charge of this country, and people own companies. No one should limit what those folks do with their money (barring narcotics and other obvious exceptions).

You get your first choice, then a second choice, or even third. If your first choice has absolutely no chance of winning, your second choice is counted as your official vote.
Not to be harsh, but grow up and take a stand. Your vote should be something precious. If you can't value it enough to "spend" it wisely, you ought not to vote. Can you imagine an investor demanding that he tag three stocks, and only has to "really" invest in the best gainer of them?

You can fight an idea til your blue in the face. Unfortunately, they're not doing that. They're fighting US. You reason with them -- if I see a terrorist trying to kill me or mine, I'll shoot him.

3agsmom said...

Congratulations k2aggie07, doesn't it feel good to know you have exerted a positive influence on someone? (Matt said he's less of a lefty now after your logic). Well thought out arguments based on facts and logic will eventually overcome arguments based on irrational emotion.

g said...

Too bad people confuse society with government. Thomas Paine cautioned against this in the first paragraph of Common Sense.