in Politics

Post-American Possibilities

In response to my “Writing” post, my nephew Jeffrey has this to say:

It’s not numbered, but I’d like to hear more about “America has about ten years left. Fifteen, tops. But that might not be a bad thing.”

Ask and ye shall receive, sir.

Actually, I’ve addressed this in pieces before – I talk about the impossibility of America meeting its unfunded liabilities here, and I talk about our tribal future here. But in this post, I’ll try to put all the pieces together.

It begins with the fact that there is not enough money in the world to pay America’s future obligations.

This is no conspiracy theory. This is simple mathematics. America’s entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and now Obamacare – eat up about 110% of all the money the government collects in taxes. Future funding at current levels will require money that does not now and will not then exist, nor can it possibly exist.  No tax increase will be enough. Benefits will be slashed drastically, but it will reach a point when the United States will have no choice but to default on a significant chunk of its obligations. 

That time is coming faster than most people realize.

Social Security is going broke sooner than predicted and has about a decade before benefits start getting seriously gutted. Medicare has less than half that time. The Medicare disability fund is already insolvent. As costs continue to rise, the day of reckoning comes faster, and a bankrupt government runs out of options. Think Greece, only with an exponentially larger GDP and no EU or anyone else large enough to bail us out. 

All that is essentially a given. The real question is – what happens after that?

When I wrote my post about our tribal future, frequent commenter Moisture Farmer said “Well, if you really feel that way, the best advice I can offer you is to buy as much gold and silver as you can. If there is indeed a collapse coming, nobody is going to honor that 401K crapola or anything else on paper afterwards. You’d be wise to arm yourself too.”

I think that’s hooey, but many other do not. Prophets of doom predict that after America, we will instantly descend from civilization into chaos, with “Mad Max: Fury Road” serving as the template for what the world will look like.

But why? If the government can no longer function properly, what will that really change? Will my house spontaneously burn to the ground? Will my car collapse in the middle of the freeway? Will people start running naked through the streets throwing dead birds at passers-by?

Nope. Everything will still be here. What will change is how we will manage all of it. 

The fact is that the world is unknowingly in the midst of a post-nation-state society, and when the nation state fails – and it will fail, all around the world – people will look to the infrastructure that’s already being built. 

Commerce, for instance, has already outgrown provincial governments. 

Consider McDonalds. It gathers its raw material from all across the globe and sells burgers on every continent but Antarctica. Should America cease to function, would the Golden Arches close up shop? Of course not! They’d probably be grateful to have one less tedious governmental relationship to negotiate. Their business model would remain unchanged, and customers would soon realize that trade doesn’t depend on Washington DC to provide a stamp of approval. 

The same is true of just about every major industry across the globe. No more American political system wouldn’t mean no more iPhones or Range Rovers. In fact, it might mean an explosion of capitalistic productivity that produces better products at lower prices. 

Communication has also outgrown borders. The Internet has shrunken the world to the point where the geographical justifications for nation states make far less sense than ever before. When the nation states prove to be impotent, people will begin to wonder why they ever mattered in the first place. I think it will startle people to discover how little the absence of a centralized government will change their everyday lives. 

The private sector will also end up assuming functions of government that many thought couldn’t be managed without a nation state. It had long been assumed, for instance, that there was no way to produce a functioning currency without a government printing press churning out dollars and pounds and yen. Bitcoin has shown that’s not the case. As the nation state becomes less reliable, new solutions will present themselves and surprise everyone.

I realize I’m painting in broad strokes here. I don’t think the concept of the nation state will vanish altogether, at least not in my lifetime. I think, however, that it will diminish significantly to the point of irrelevance. There will also be hiccups, of course, and some will be major. What happens to the military in the absence of a functioning nation state? Even a collapsing bureaucracy isn’t going to willingly give up its guns. That part is going to get messy, and I’m not sure how it will work. 

Honestly, I’m not sure how any of it will work. This is all wild supposition, and large chunks of it will certainly be wrong. But I think people need to be open to the idea that the system that is currently in place is not immutable, and the world needs to consider new possibilities of evolution rather than try to keep the dinosaur of the nation state from going extinct. 

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28 Comments

  1. “This is no conspiracy theory.”

    But there is. It’s called the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and it’s routinely taught in all of our colleges, and probably has been since at least the 1960s.

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/Articles/theclowardpivenstrategypoe.html

    I know, you don’t believe in it. But it believes in you.

    I find it intriguing that the very scenario you outline, is the exact same scenario planned out in the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and the very same scenario that adherents to that strategy on the left have been tirelessly working towards under the aegis of “activism.” It’s just too coincidental for me, that the very thing they planned and work towards is now in fact happening.

    Look, conspiracies do exist. Bad people get together to do bad things. That’s why the FBI and CIA exist. Of course, now the bad people run those agencies and more, so there’s another conspiracy for you to consider.

    • Well, okay. But if the Cloward-Piven Strategy is designed to drive people toward a new, massive, centralized government, it’s going to produce the opposite effect of the one intended.

      • I think the goal was to collapse the system as you suggest is going to happen, and from the ashes all of the activist organizations that taxpayers have been funding rise up to become the new layers of the law. That could unintentionally create factions that fight among themselves, but leftists are collectivists and will follow a cult of personality into hell.

  2. “When I wrote my post about our tribal future, frequent commenter Moisture Farmer said “Well, if you really feel that way, the best advice I can offer you is to buy as much gold and silver as you can. If there is indeed a collapse coming, nobody is going to honor that 401K crapola or anything else on paper afterwards. You’d be wise to arm yourself too.”

    I think that’s hooey, but many other do not. Prophets of doom predict that after America, we will instantly descend from civilization into chaos, with “Mad Max: Fury Road” serving as the template for what the world will look like.”

    I think you may have misinterpreted this comment.

    First, it’s important to understand that gold and silver have been used as currency throughout human history in all cultures. So this stuff will continue to have value regardless.

    My comment that no one will honor your 401K, doesn’t necessarily translate into a Mad Max scenario, feminist or otherwise. I’m merely suggesting that many organizations would use such a collapse to excuse not honoring contracts and so forth. Remember, your house is a physical object, while your 401K is not.

    I will say however, that America has been the world’s policeman. Without it to enforce civility, I think there is a potential for a new Dark Age to descend upon us. No other nation has as altruistic as motivations as America has had, nor do they have the motivation to do anything but worry about themselves. Our recent withdrawal from the world stage militarily shows the kind of chaos that is capable in that kind of power vacuum, though I fear it’s only a trailer for a really crappy full length feature yet to come. Though I don’t think this is a certainty, only a real possibility.

    • If it was my “arm yourself” comment that sparked the comparison to a Mad Max scenario, then I can understand that even though it’s sound advice under any circumstance.

      While under any other administration, I might agree with the likelihood that civility would prevail, the reality is that we now have an administration that is actively promoting divisive unrest such as that seen in Baltimore and other cities. If America falls, the physical structure of your house will still exist, but who will defend your property rights to own it, particularly if the new government(s) don’t exactly support the concept of private property rights to begin with?

  3. “Consider McDonalds.”

    Who will protect McDonalds, when Islamists start defacing statues of the Hamburglar for transgressions of idolatry? Particularly when it has been demonized by America’s enemies and academia as the prime mascot of American imperialism and/or colonialism?

    • I don’t know. In all likelihood, McDonalds will likely take a greater interest in protecting McDonalds than they do now. But most of its locations are not in pressing danger of Islamist Hamburglar outrage, and I don’t think that would change a whole lot. If anything, the absence of a functional American government means that Islamists won’t be able to strike terror into the hearts of anyone by attacking a diffuse set of targets.

      • Well, the specifics of my question were meant to paint at a larger picture.

        The primary reason that most of McDonald’s locations are not in pressing danger of Islamist Hamburglar outrage, is because there’s generally been a sizable global American military presence protecting them. When that’s gone, who’s going to protect this capitalist corporate fast food entity’s interests, the quality of their food aside?

        France?

        • No, France is on its way out, too.

          When I say I don’t know, I mean it. I don’t know. I’m predicting the collapse of the nation state, not advocating it. I think military concerns are going to cause the biggest headaches in a world where countries don’t really matter anymore.

          I do think private security will come into play, and McDonalds could end up giving its clowns and grimaces a few firearms to keep the burgers safe. More likely, they’ll just stay as far away from Islamist hot spots as possible and bet on the fact that terrorist thugs aren’t going to coordinate efforts to take out a fast food franchise hundreds of miles away, especially when it isn’t striking a blow against an America that’s already forfeited.

          • Are you thinking in terms of Britain’s East India Company?

            FYI, this might be of interest to you.

            http://listverse.com/2014/01/07/11-frightening-facts-about-private-military-companies/

            I think there’s more to worry about than just Islamists though. There’s also socialists, communists, pirates, and other assorted scum and villainy throughout the world that could oppress/repress/suppress McDonald’s interests, I was merely using extremist Islamists as the easy go-to example of the day.

            Without the World’s Policeman, well; when the cat’s away, the mice will play.

          • There will be a good deal of mice playing, yes.

  4. My unrelated question: Do you think that it makes sense when people say “that work’s not canon!” based on whether or not the company that owns the copyright to a work says it is. The thing is, if something’s a story, then it IS canon for itself. Tie-in novels exist within separate canons from the inspiring works. People say that the old Star Wars Expanded Universe is no longer canon because Disney is discarding it…you could just as easily say that Disney’s films aren’t canon. Really, they’re just two separate continuities, where one has a lot more money behind it.

    I bring up Star Wars because I thought it would be the example we’d have mutual experience in. At the moment the example I’m most thinking of is Dragonball Z, which I grew up on. When the original series was made, a prequel special was made for the anime called Bardock: Father of Goku, which Akira Toriyama liked so much that he showed a single flashback in the manga (usually with anime manga is considered canon, and anything else added for the anime is considered “filler” that can be ignored) confirming Bardock’s existence, but not confirming the other aspects of the film…and now, many years later, he’s gone back and written his own version of Bardock’s story…which makes Bardock far more sympathetic, and arguably misses the entire point of his original story. While I have yet to read Toriyama’s version, I can safely tell you it will never replace the one I grew up with.

    And, yeah, you can yell “fanon” until you’re blue in the face…but so what? What is the real difference between fanon and canon? Just two different stories.

    Now, having wasted all that time on an unrelated rant (that I do hope you’ll respond to): If the government fails, I think we’ll build another one. Maybe a wildly different kind, but in the end I think people want a government.

    Yes, I do agree that businesses could function more efficiently without a government. But, what is “efficiency” the only thing that matters? I often find myself standing between the far Right screaming “efficiency” and the far left screaming “equality,” and find both sides to be incredibly simplistic.

    The example I like to bring up (I use this as an example, not because I’ve taken the time to confirm that it’s accurate) is that we’ve built multiple vacant houses for every homeless person. Now, let’s say that we reduce efficiency a bit, and raise equality just slightly, by providing each of those homeless people with a tiny, but livable, apartment…and due to the efficiency increase no longer had extra houses lying around.

    Unregulated capitalism is great for production…but at a certain point you’re producing too much, and have no one left to buy it. And that’s when you run into problems.

    And you can call this “Marxism”…and I’ll agree with you. One quote in college that really resonated with me, and pretty much shaped by current view of economics was “Marxism does not work as it’s own system. However, it is useful as a critique of capitalism.”

    • “Unregulated capitalism is great for production…but at a certain point you’re producing too much, and have no one left to buy it. And that’s when you run into problems.”

      What’s the problem? An economist would say that in a free market, supply and demand resolve this issue, right? If oversupply or under-demand result in a surplus, the markets adjust. Production decreases to the optimal level. The market is constantly adjusting, so there is never a serious problem with producing too much, right?

    • …and this “adjustments” are what we call “economic recessions.” People can’t buy anymore, so companies lay off, so their employees can’t afford to buy anything, and it all turns into a downward spiral.

    • The primary problem you’re having here is that you’re arguing against points that no one is making. No one is promoting the idea of anarchy, nor is anyone calling for unregulated capitalism, except a few lunatics in the Occupy contagion.

      Unfortunately, the generation that grew up with Dragonball Z, which I believe are referred to as Millennials, has never been properly taught about the concept of limited government, which is entirely different and separate from concepts of no government. For them, government is an all or nothing proposition, and that’s where your disconnect lies.

      Who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?

      The primary problem with what idiot professors teach in college about Marxism and socialism, is that all they ever present to students are the Utopian promises this philosophy offers. What they never ever touch upon though, is the actual historical reality of Marxism and socialism.

      This of course is one of the many reasons that a college education in the modern era is completely worthless.

      Sorry kid, you’ve been taken for a ride.

      • So, Stallion meant that new governments would rise up independently of the Nation-State? Then he should have specified.

        “Who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?”

        I literally answered that in my original post: If more goods are being produced than consumed, then there’s a problem. Obviously if one company overproduces something that’s one thing, but when things like food and shelter are being produced, and unused, while people who need them go without, we have a problem.

        “The primary problem with what idiot professors teach in college about Marxism and socialism, is that all they ever present to students are the Utopian promises this philosophy offers. What they never ever touch upon though, is the actual historical reality of Marxism and socialism.”

        Except, ya know, when I said that Marxism doesn’t work as it’s own system.

        So, you ignore large portions of what I said, respond to the convenient parts, and then insult me for being younger than you because the only compelling argument you have to make is shaming me into silence. That doesn’t make you look like a wise old man who has something to say, it makes you look like a fool who has to say something.

        • “I literally answered that in my original post: If more goods are being produced than consumed, then there’s a problem. Obviously if one company overproduces something that’s one thing, but when things like food and shelter are being produced, and unused, while people who need them go without, we have a problem.”

          You literally didn’t answer that at all. My question was in direct response to this statement.

          Here’s my question again:

          Who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?

          Pay particular note to how the words in this question (especially the word “who”), call for the name of a particular individual, organization, vocation, qualification, and how your neither your original post and your response contain any of these things.

          “Except, ya know, when I said that Marxism doesn’t work as it’s own system.”

          Well, technically you quoted someone else who wrote that. You also quoted them saying that Marxism is useful as a critique of capitalism, which of course thinking people understand is pure nonsense, given the wholly discredited nature of Marxism itself.

          “So, you ignore large portions of what I said, respond to the convenient parts,”

          I’m responding to the portions that I have a response to. Should I be responding to the portions that I don’t have a response to?

          “and then insult me for being younger than you because the only compelling argument you have to make is shaming me into silence. “

          What on Earth are you talking about? Where did I give even the slightest suggestion that I was seeking to silence you? Sorry, but silencing an opposition that they’re aware has superior arguments is a leftist tactic, and not something I’d engage in. Type away please.

          Furthermore, I’m not insulting you. I’m giving you some hard truths. Today’s college education is a complete and total waste of time, effort, and money. I know, because I recently returned to college, earned two degrees, and did so while sitting next to Millennials such as yourself. I know what they now teach. And that’s how I know it’s all garbage.

          None of this is your fault. You were brought up to believe that teachers and professors are purveyors of great wisdom, and that a modern education has real value. I’m sorry, but you’ve been lied to and taken advantage of. So it’s not me that you should be angry at. Rather, it’s the purported educators who robbed you of a genuine education while simultaneously sending you into debt to support their own preposterous salaries.

          “That doesn’t make you look like a wise old man who has something to say, it makes you look like a fool who has to say something.”

          Yes, yes. And parroting well-rehearsed rhetoric doesn’t convey an air of wisdom either, so I guess we’re even.

          • (Now on my phone, so I can’t copy and paste)

            So, naming the person who gets to decide is more important than establishing criteria by which it’s decided? Are you serious? What, you just want me to say the words “the government” so you can scream “Marxist” at me? The government has fulfilled that function since the Great Depression.

            So you call my claim that Marxism is useful as a critique of capitalism “nonsense,” then in your very next statement admit you have no response?

            You’ve spent a lot of time telling me my education sucks, very little time proving it.

            So, please, explain to me why a growing portion of our population being unable to afford the goods and services necessary for more than the most bare-bones of existances no matter how hard they work is a good thing for the businesses that provide those goods and services.

          • “So, naming the person who gets to decide is more important than establishing criteria by which it’s decided? Are you serious?”

            Serious? I don’t know. I’m not even sure how to respond to this, since I never wrote that naming the person who gets to decide is more important than establishing criteria by which its decided. Is there a reason that you keep responding to points that no one is making? Who are you talking to? What is the nature of this problem exactly?

            “What, you just want me to say the words ‘the government’ so you can scream ‘Marxist’ at me? The government has fulfilled that function since the Great Depression.”

            Huh? Are you saying here that government has fulfilled the function of Marxism since the Great Depression? If so, how does that excuse discredited Marxism?

            “So you call my claim that Marxism is useful as a critique of capitalism ‘nonsense,’ then in your very next statement admit you have no response?”

            So what?

            “You’ve spent a lot of time telling me my education sucks, very little time proving it.”

            Look, this isn’t something that you should take personal offense at. It’s not an insult against you, but rather, an insult against your educators. And it’s not that your education specifically sucks, but rather, it’s that the education of everyone who received one after the 1960s era hippies took over academia sucks, and the closer you get to the modern day the more it sucks. The education that I myself received sucked, but the only reason I was able to recognize this while I was in college was because I was a voracious reader for 20 years before I ever even entered it.

            At some point Millennials will come to the realization that employers are not seeking graduates who can recite the tall tales of Che Guevara, perform mental feats of social justice fantasy making, or engage in fascism masquerading as activism such as “culture jamming.” It’s at this point that Millennials should sue public education out of existence, because they’ve all been royally screwed by their teachers, professors, and counselors.

            “So, please, explain to me why a growing portion of our population being unable to afford the goods and services necessary for more than the most bare-bones of existances no matter how hard they work is a good thing for the businesses that provide those goods and services.”

            I wouldn’t know, since I’m not suggesting it is a good thing. What I would like to know however, is who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?

            Do you have a direct answer for this, or are you going to dodge the question again?

        • Mustex June 4, 2015 “So, Stallion meant that new governments would rise up independently of the Nation-State? Then he should have specified.”

          The article would be considerably longer if he specified everything that can and perhaps ought to be specified. It is a good start.

          A “government” arises the moment you have two or more people in the same place at the same time. Someone takes charge, the others allow it, presto — you have the beginnings of a government. Sometimes they codify their agreement, sometimes not.

          The book and movie “The Postman” is a good example of New America. It is not “Mad Max” but it is not quite the drift into a new world that Stallion proposes as a possibility.

          One of the main functions of government is to enforce contracts. Without it, credit will vanish since credit is a contract. Without credit rather a lot of modern economic activity will simply cease.

          Another function of government which Stallion did mention is benefits (retirement, social security). 64 MILLION beneficiaries right now:
          http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/quickfacts/stat_snapshot/

          That will slow down or stop. That’s about half the size of the American workforce. The ripple effect in the economy of that many people ceasing to buy stuff will be enormous.

          But some of what they buy is food and shelter. When they can no longer buy it they will attempt to take it. Mad Max may seem rather mild in certain parts of the United States; the Los Angeles basin comes to mind that already is a bit like Mad Max, or at least American Sniper.

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is positioned as a regional government replacement. It *was* the government in Utah for a while. It *might* be sufficient to prevent a complete collapse into “Mad Max” in areas where it is strong enough.

          My vision is influenced by electronics and signal theory. Society is very sensitive to change; it has “high gain” and is nearly unstable. As soon as people sense a decay, they will go into survival modes which will dramatically accelerate the decay and for a few weeks society will run amok. Tens of millions of people will die in the first month, mostly in large cities that already are on a hair trigger for violence and incapable of sustaining themselves.

          Study the French Revolution. We have that as an example.

  5. “Serious? I don’t know. I’m not even sure how to respond to this, since I never wrote that naming the person who gets to decide is more important than establishing criteria by which its decided. Is there a reason that you keep responding to points that no one is making? Who are you talking to? What is the nature of this problem exactly?”

    Actually, no, you asked exactly that:

    “Pay particular note to how the words in this question (especially the word “who”), call for the name of a particular individual, organization, vocation, qualification, and how your neither your original post and your response contain any of these things.”

    If there’s another interpretation of that statement, I’m all ears.

    “Huh? Are you saying here that government has fulfilled the function of Marxism since the Great Depression? If so, how does that excuse discredited Marxism?”

    No, I’m saying that the government has played an active role in redistributing wealth downward since then. Social security, minimum wages, disability, foodstamps, etc. We talk as if they’re just compassion driven. Don’t get me wrong, they’re also compassionate, but they play an important role in making sure that the goods and services produced have someone to consume them.

    “So what?”

    I assume your goal is to convince me I’m wrong (otherwise, why are you having this conversation with me?). If you can’t respond to my primary point, then why would anything you say get me to change my mind?

    “I wouldn’t know, since I’m not suggesting it is a good thing. What I would like to know however, is who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?

    Do you have a direct answer for this, or are you going to dodge the question again?”

    At the very beginning of this post you claimed you never asked that, and now you’re asking it again. Am I missing something?

    It’s not that I’m trying to dodge the question here. It’s that I literally don’t even know how you want me to respond. I need to give you the name of a person “qualified” to tell you that when we have multiple vacant homes for every homeless person something is wrong?

    • “Actually, no, you asked exactly that:”

      That’s preposterous. If I had asked exactly that, then the sentence would look like this: “Isn’t naming the person who gets to decide, more important than establishing criteria by which it’s decided?”

      Since I didn’t write that at all, I didn’t ask that at all. This is why it’s always so very important to respond to what is actually written, rather than to respond to what you wish had been written, just so you can make some point that you want to make.

      What I attempted to point out, and failed to get through to you, was how the two sentences contain entirely different words, which carry entirely different meanings. One written by me, other was not.

      Here’s the question written by me:

      “What I would like to know however, is who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?”

      Now, since we both know that you have no intention of directly answering this question, would you at least be a dear at tell us if you can tell the difference between the question that I did write, and the question that I didn’t write?

      “If there’s another interpretation of that statement, I’m all ears.”

      There is. The original interpretation contained within the words that were actually written, as opposed to the words that were not written.

      “No, I’m saying that the government has played an active role in redistributing wealth downward since then. Social security, minimum wages, disability, foodstamps, etc. We talk as if they’re just compassion driven. Don’t get me wrong, they’re also compassionate, but they play an important role in making sure that the goods and services produced have someone to consume them.”

      Okay. So why does government playing an active rile in redistributing wealth since the Great Depression excuse wealth redistribution? If this nation was able to get along without any income tax from 1776 until 1913, then why do we need one now?

      I’d also argue, that there’s nothing compassionate with killing the inner motivation to exceed and excel by offering a meager pittance that allows someone to barely survive rather than thrive in exchange for their votes.

      “I assume your goal is to convince me I’m wrong (otherwise, why are you having this conversation with me?). If you can’t respond to my primary point, then why would anything you say get me to change my mind?”

      What is your primary point exactly?

      “At the very beginning of this post you claimed you never asked that, and now you’re asking it again. Am I missing something?”

      Yes. You’re missing that I didn’t ask your reinterpretation and rewriting of my question.

      “It’s not that I’m trying to dodge the question here. It’s that I literally don’t even know how you want me to respond.”

      I would like you to respond by directly answering the following question:

      “What I would like to know however, is who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?”

      Is it the President who decides? Congress? the EPA? A Production Czar? Boxcar Willie? Planned Parenthood? David Hasselfhoff? Lena Dunham? Joe Biden? Barbara Boxer? Van Jones? Universal Studios? Who? What?

      And what qualifies them to make this arbitrary decision?

      • …you expect me to explain your position? As far as I can tell you’re making a distinction without a difference, and you’ve provided no reason for me to question that interpretation. I’ll be more than happy to answer it if you explain what the question is. And the fact that you list a series of names at the end of your post just reinforces that there is no difference to be seen here. Merely you trying to shame me, the same tactic I accused you of earlier.

        As I said, if there’s another interpretation, I’m all ears. But, we both know you have no intention of giving me one.

        “Okay. So why does government playing an active rile in redistributing wealth since the Great Depression excuse wealth redistribution?”

        Because the alternative is booms and busts that would be worse than what we currently experience. The rich keep most of the wealth for themselves, putting it back into production, while the middle and lower class live above their means (thus providing consumers) on credit, until they run out of credit, and the we get a bust. Don’t get me wrong, that’s the natural business cycle, but giving people some degree of liquidity at least helps.

        “If this nation was able to get along without any income tax from 1776 until 1913, then why do we need one now?

        This isn’t even historically accurate, the first personal income tax was imposed 1861 to help pay for the Civil War.

        Also, we got by without antibiotics until 1928, so I guess we don’t need those either.

        “I’d also argue, that there’s nothing compassionate with killing the inner motivation to exceed and excel by offering a meager pittance that allows someone to barely survive rather than thrive in exchange for their votes.”

        Firstly, saying “in exchange for votes” is disingenuous as hell on your part. You could add that onto any policy supported by either party. “To cut taxes in exchange for votes.” “To allow gun ownership in exchange for votes.” “To arrest murderers in exchange for votes.” See how that works?

        Secondly, this idea that minimum wages and wealth redistribution kills motivation is just downright deluded. Seriously, I don’t understand why giving money to rich people makes them more productive, and giving it to poor people makes them less productive. Doesn’t money have a point of decreasing marginal returns?

        More seriously, people don’t work until they have just enough to survive. They compare themselves to those around them, and seek to improve themselves. I have literally never known a person on welfare who didn’t want to work hard to get off it.

        I’ve worked at a job where I made decently into the double-digits per hour (I’m not giving you the exact amount, especially since commission was a part of it, but suffice it to say I was quite content). But, when they offered $100 per pay period to whichever employee could get the most email addresses from customers you better believe I worked my ass off for it. Because I wanted more than what I currently had. Put an extra $100 in front of my boss, and it would mean a lot less. Put an extra $100 in front of the president of a company and it means nothing at all.

        I should probably note now that the need for welfare reform is one of the few things I agree with Paul Ryan on. I have a disabled friend who’d like to make some extra money selling her money, and would be perfectly happy to have her disability check reduced accordingly. Unfortunately, if she has ANY income the whole thing gets yanked, even if she’s not making enough to support herself. This is the system too many people are stuck in. We need a system that weans people off.

        “What is your primary point exactly?”

        That Marxism works as a critique of capitalism, but not as it’s own system.

        You want me to change my mind about this, but admit you have no response to it.

        Have I misunderstood?

        “I would like you to respond by directly answering the following question:

        “What I would like to know however, is who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?”

        Is it the President who decides? Congress? the EPA? A Production Czar? Boxcar Willie? Planned Parenthood? David Hasselfhoff? Lena Dunham? Joe Biden? Barbara Boxer? Van Jones? Universal Studios? Who? What?

        And what qualifies them to make this arbitrary decision?”

        I still don’t see how this is any different from the way I phrased the question, but I think economic decisions should be made at the advice of economists. And I’m not saying that some economist should just say “Ok, you’ve made enough, stop producing!”

        Rather, I view the economy in terms of Supply Side (ie rich people aka “the producers”) and Demand Side (ie poor and middle class people aka “the consumers”). If economists determine that so much wealth is focused on the Supply Side that there’s no enough money to buy it all, then yes we need to redistribute downward, to at least make the impending crash more bearable.

        Also, for all the complaints of wealth redistribution downward, as long as it’s kept reasonable the actual hit to productivity is fairly minimal, because the wealth goes right back to the top anyway. Rich people can afford to save and invest money, when you give poor people more money it tends to go right into paying overdue bills.

        • Two different questions.

          One written by you. One written by me.

          “Isn’t naming the person who gets to decide, more important than establishing criteria by which it’s decided?”

          “Who decides how much is too much to produce, and what qualifies them to make that decision?”

          Can you tell us which is which, and what the difference between the two is?

          • Not to butt in here, as I’m enjoying this exchange immensely, but I have to say that I don’t understand that first question at all, nor do I understand how it can be at all confused with the clear, on-point second question.

            Carry on.

          • Thanks Stallion. I was worrying that perhaps we were beginning to overstay our welcome with this conversation. lol

          • If you’re really going to turn this into a conversation about two versions of a question, I’m out. I was trying to discuss the importance of consumer spending to the economy,. but apparently you’re just going to ignore that issue.

          • Well, that’s okay. I have doubts that you’re not a sockpuppet anyway.