Thursday, October 18, 2007

Megan, you're not a human being

you're a conservative who uses faux-economic arguments instead of faux-moral ones and calls herself a libertarian to pretend there's something behind your greed and ignorance.
Example 1:
It might be fair to have the rich pay half their income . . . but when you factor in other taxes, many of them do. My old colleagues moving to New York City from London were frequently heard to say "What is this rubbish we've been talking about America having low taxes? My taxes are higher here!" That's because New York State and New York City together levy an additional income tax of 10% once your income is over $100K, which pushed two-income families above Britain's 40% top tax bracket. A 50% tax rate on top incomes would result, for New Yorkers, in a 60% effective total income tax rate total, with their incomes further eroded by the city's 10% sales tax. Since pretty much the entire increase in inequality in the last few decades seems to have come from a few zip codes in the high tax zones around New York and San Francisco, this matters.
Notice the flaw in this argument? Essentially, Megan is saying adjusting the tax rate to levels still lower than in the decades following the Great Depression and WWII would have the effect of placing a greater tax burden on those folk who, in no small part thanks to Bush's tax cuts, have become the beneficiaries of the greatest income inequality our nation has known since just before the crash of '29. At a time when the nation is hurting, badly, these folk are living in a second Gilded Age. And Megan wants them protected, because the guy making half a million a year needs that extra $50k a 10% difference in the tax rate means. You try living on $200k a year vs $250k. We're talking about depriving these folk of a second Hummer for their place in the Hamptons. That's just inhuman.
But Megan doesn't even need to argue why it'd be bad to take that extra 50k and put it to public service. It's simply so obvious that everyone deserves every cent of their income that Megan doesn't have to say it.
There might still be room to compromise, tho, and find other ways to afford social spending. Surely we can agree that military spending is massively wasteful, in the sense that military contractors grossly inflate their profits with the assistance of elements of our Armed Forces and Congress. It seems obvious that with a simple focus on removing corruption and cronyism we could spend less to have more, military-wise. There's untold billions in social spending just waiting to be funded by making our military spending efficient and cost-effective.
Or not:
Well, there's one way: the US could be like Alcoa. That is, we are huge, and rich, and this makes us the low-cost provider of military services to the world. We are so cost-effective that no one else even bothers trying to enter the market to compete against us. We've achieved this position in part just by being huge and rich, but also in part through path dependence: over the last fifty years, we've gained a lot of relevant expertise at having a giant high-tech military.

If we cut our military spending in half, however, it might be worthwhile entering the market to compete against us. At 1-2% of GDP, other countries probably could field an army against us. Yes, we're isolated, but that also makes us vulnerable to things like interdiction of shipping, which is why we ended up in both World Wars last century. Plus, the invention of the intercontinental ballistic missile renders discussion of our isolation somewhat moot.
.......... "We are so cost-effective".... She actually wrote that. If we spend less, other countries will decide to develop military forces, which will somehow endanger us. China and Russia don't have military forces, currently. Megan even says the following, "Imagine Europe if the US were not a global hegemon. I imagine Russia engaging in a rapid military buildup, taking back some of its lost territories, and wielding a great deal of influence over the ones on its new borders that it did not formally control."
Because Russia is not trying to create a new sphere of influence now, taking the US's diplomatic and military failures as an opening on the world stage. Phew.
But wait, you say that projection of power isn't something libertarians are in favor of? Could Megan be caught?
[O]ur military does not perform the traditional libertarian task of protecting our borders from invasion. Instead, it protects our interests abroad--and does so well enough that Europe, for all its complaining, is happy to free ride. This suggests that we are, for all our faults, doing a fairly good job of protecting the broader interests of liberal capitalistic democracy. A world in which China and Russia and Iran were using their military might to protect their interests, while we squatted behind our borders, would be possibly a nobler one, but I find it unlikely that it would be a better one in any utilitarian sense.
Imagine a world in which Russia used troops against Chechnya, or China used military force in Tibet, or Tiananmen Square. Imagine a world where Europe isn't threatened by the danger of being invaded by a Russia which depends on the European market to profit off its natural gas and oil reserves. Imagine a world where instead of close to $500 billion being spent by the US on defense, only $300 is spent under far more stringent oversight. We'd be invaded by Canada, as it suddenly became cost effective for them to adopt a violent, warlike culture of territorial expansion.
Besides, fuck the non-rich. If we put more money into actually helping people they might get it in their heads to expect to be treated with basic respect and consideration. What would that do to profit margins? Rich people are rich because they are successful because they worked hard. It has nothing to do with being born into wealth, and all them studies and numbers whut say otherwise just don't get it. And compassion is for suckers. There simply shouldn't be social spending, beyond poor houses and orphanages.
Food, shelter, or clothing are also necessities for children. But no one suggests that the government should provide them, except in the cases of those who are too poor to provide for themselves. Why should childcare be any different?
I can't keep going. If you can't see what's wrong with Megan's work, you're not human either.
Once upon a time, The Atlantic tried to promote the best in human nature. Now, it's "get yours n fuck em all". I... am disheartened.


Rickm said...

Read my comments in her comments section. The other commentors are Panglossian morons.

Fishbone McGonigle said...

Wow. She really, really, really hates contributing so much as a single thin dime to the cause of making society work.

She truly is inhumane, if not flat out inhuman.