Did I find a crack in someone’s armor? Another conversation with a liberal

I was talking with my lib friend yesterday (the same one who said Tuesday’s vote would inaugurate fascism in America), when he opined that Boehner had said something incredibly stupid.

“What?” I asked.

“He said something along the lines of ‘the American people want us to lower spending and create more jobs.'”

I replied, “Well, that makes sense to me.”

My friend sneered.  “Do you know how many jobs the government creates?”

“Yes, I do,” I answered.  “I also know that all government jobs are paid for by taxpayer money.  And I know that right now, on average, government workers earn more than private sector workers, and that’s not even including the pensions.  That makes it a Ponzi scheme, because there’s eventually not going to be enough money to pay for government workers.”

Silence greeted me.

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Comments

  1. suek says

    Very good!  You know…I have one son who doesn’t vote.  He says it’s because his one vote won’t make any difference.  I understand the sentiment, but I really think it’s because he doesn’t like to make choices and/or decisions.  In any case…because he doesn’t vote, I didn’t argue with him when he complained that the local state university was laying off people because of the budget, and he thought it was stupid because the people they were laying off were taxpayers.  I decided to keep my mouth shut – because he doesn’t vote.  Next time, I think I’ll suggest that he give me $100 of his to save…and I’ll reward him with $10 back.  Maybe even $20…but I get to keep the rest.  Hey…he’ll be getting 20%!

  2. says

    ” I understand the sentiment, but I really think it’s because he doesn’t like to make choices and/or decisions.”
     
    What prohibition is he under, the Prohibition Never to become an Adult?

  3. SADIE says

    BW, the ‘silence’ may have been the nicest thing your friend ever said;
     
     
     
    suek … OMG! Is this why my mother said always wear clean underwear – what’s next. Regarding your son’s option not to vote … you may want to prompt him with the word ‘recount’ and point out a few examples, including a blue dyed finger on the hands of those, who risked their lives to vote.
     
    There was a local story on the news last night. Local man, who had been in the hospital for 2 weeks, was released the day of the election. At the age of 83, he had never missed voting. A cabulance was bringing him home and he asked the drivers to stop at his local polling station (fire house). They rolled him into the booth on a gurney to vote and then delivered him home to his wife.

  4. suek says

    >>What prohibition is he under, the Prohibition Never to become an Adult>>
     
    Hmmm.   I never thought of it that way, but that’s very close.  He’s caused me a lot of sadness – not because he’s done bad things, but just hasn’t done anything particularly good.  And yet, he’s really a good  person.  But maybe you’ve hit on it…he doesn’t want to take on responsibilities, which – at least to me – is the definition of an adult.  He just floats along, taking the path of least resistance.

  5. SADIE says

    Off topic and off the charts – my calculator just had a heart attack!

    The total cost to rescue and then overhaul mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could reach $685 billion, according to estimates published Thursday by Standard & Poor’s.

    Fannie and Freddie have already cost taxpayers nearly $134 billion, but S&P analysts said Thursday that the government could ultimately be forced to inject $280 billion into the firms because of a slowdown in the housing market.

    Any entities that might replace Fannie and Freddie would need new start-up funding that would go beyond the money already committed.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703805704575594300330039336.html?mod=WSJ_business_whatsNews

  6. Bill Smith says

    Actually, if a “job” is an economic job, meaning that its holder performs a function that the economy demands, then the government creates no jobs. Yes, yes, we need firefighters and teachers, etc. but they are still paid from taxes, and those taxes come from what I am calling economic jobs.
     
    Economic jobs are only created by the public sector. You have a lawn, little Johnny has a mower. Job. Money changes hands, and then gets spent. That causes a REAL multiplier effect when Johnny spends his 20 bucks, because real value was exchanged, NOT because a 20 dollar bill got taken from a taxpayer, and dropped out of a helicopter onto the economy.
     
    The only thing that stimulates an economy is confidence, stability, and opportunity. Without these, people will mostly hoard anything of value, and simply wait and watch. Johhny’s mower will be idle, because people won’t spend their money to have their lawns mowed. Drop a twenty out of a stimulus helicopter, and sure, the finder may spend it, but he won’t believe it’s a steady income, nor will the place he spends it.
     
    Does your liberal friend think that there was a fully functioning nanny government waiting on the shore when the Pilgrims landed?
     
     

  7. JKB says

    Bill Smith – There wasn’t a nanny government waiting but the Pilgrims wasted no time in imposing socialism to their near demise.  The hidden meaning of Thanksgiving is that the only reason we celebrate this last meal of the condemned is that within 2 years the Pilgrims abandoned socialism for the free market.  Otherwise, they’d just have been another failed colony in which everyone died:  The Great Thanksgiving Hoax – Richard J. Maybury – Mises Daily
     
     

  8. JKB says

    “…he thought it was stupid because the people they were laying off were taxpayers.”

    Actually, while government workers pay “taxes” they are really just providing a kickback on their salary to the General Fund.  It is all very circular.  Taxes are paid to the General fund, funds are appropriated to the agency to pay personnel costs, personnel are paid their salary, then along about April 15, the government worker negotiates, via his tax return, how much will be returned to the general fund.

    But in the end, the government worker is a net drain on the General fund.

    Of course, all government spending is a net drain on the Treasury since employee, contractor, supplier, servicemember or grantee, all receive more funds than they pay into the Treasury as taxes.  It is only by taxing private transactions and assets that the Treasury sees a net gain since those taxes are a portion of wealth that is not already accounted for in the General Fund.

  9. says

    Suek: I got the phrase from Sharin no Kuni, the Country of the Wheel of Justice. A Japanese novel. The Prohibition to Never Become an Adult is an obligation and duty imposed upon a child, such that they must always follow the orders of their parents. Thus preventing the child from ever needing to make decisions for themselves.
     
    The novel involved the protagonist attempting to reform the individual in question to get rid of their obligation.
     
    There are only two ways that I see that such a person can be reformed. Either they find something they really really want badly enough to start doing things like taking risks and making decisions to get it. Or they follow someone they admire and in the process learn from a real leader how to make decisions, even if in the beginning they are just following orders. The military is like the second form.
     
     

  10. says

    If real jobs are only created in the private sector, does that mean that the only real jobs in road construction are those jobs involved in constructing private roads? Isn’t a public highway “real”? Doesn’t it contribute value to the economy as a whole?

  11. says

    It’s not a point but a curve of human expectations.
     
    Not everything said here, I would even say a bare minority of things said here, is intended to point out faults but rather to provide a greater context.
     
    It’s all based upon the simple philosophy that history and human interactions are complex and no one knows it all by himself.

  12. says

    “Doesn’t it contribute value to the economy as a whole?”
     
    There are still toll roads. And toll bridges.
     
    Infrastructure is designed to facilitate economic transportation and trade. It does not in itself generate “trade” or “economy”.
     
    This is basic city planning even in the middle ages.

  13. says

    Yes, I agree. But my point is: how is paying for a bridge or a road, via my taxes any different from paying for it via direct tolls?
    More specifically: does anyone here want to see the conservative movement come out against tax-supported roads, and in favor of exclusively privately-owned toll roads?

  14. says

    “via my taxes any different from paying for it via direct tolls?”
     
    There’s a lot of difference, in fact. Efficiency and lack of corruption, for one thing.
     
    Taxes can go anywhere ethe power brokers tell it to go. Including their own pockets or the pockets of their friends. Trying to get kickbacks or skim off the top on bridge tolls… not exactly all that rewarding or popular.
     
    “and in favor of exclusively privately-owned toll roads?”
     
    Private roads can’t go over residential sectors or other areas, because they can’t simply Eminent Domain property for the project. Well, actually, now they can because the Supreme court said the government could take people’s houses if it could produce a bigger property tax return. Regardless, it still goes through the government first.
     
    “Seeing” things first requires that what you “see” is real. If it is impossible, like water becoming a black hole and sucking in the planet, you don’t see anything.
     
    On another topic, the Constitution is the contract that decides what tax money should be used for road. Infrastructure and transportation roads are indeed listed.
    Economic jobs that are sustainable doesn’t have anything to do with what the Constitution says about whether the government has authority to build infrastructure. Or did you actually think conservatives had to be against public roads because they were for a private economy.

  15. says

    I absolutely agree that as soon as the government gets involved — that is, the competitive market is not in play — we get the possibility of waste and corruption.
    Where roads (and bridges) get built become political decisions, not decisions influenced by potential users who are willing to pay money in exchange for using them.
    Thus the famous “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska. (But — probably most roads and bridges built by government are needed, and would have been supplied by private industry if the government hadn’t done the job anyway.)
    I just want to make the point that conservatives are not against all taxes, or all government. And that some of the things the government does are not distinguishable from things the private sector might do in its place.
    Reading Bill Smith’s post above, where it says
     
    “Actually, if a “job” is an economic job, meaning that its holder performs a function that the economy demands, then the government creates no jobs. Yes, yes, we need firefighters and teachers, etc. but they are still paid from taxes, and those taxes come from what I am calling economic jobs.

    Economic jobs are only created by the private sector. You have a lawn, little Johnny has a mower. Job. Money changes hands, and then gets spent.”
     
    I think this is a misconception. We could easily have private teachers and private firefighters, and in fact we once did, and even public (tax-supported) lawn mowers. We found that it was better for various reasons to support teachers and firefighters (and road builders) out of taxation.
     
    Bill Smith’s general point — that government often does a poor job doing things that the private sector could do — is absolutely valid, for the reasons others have mentioned. The government isn’t subject to the discipline of the market.
    In the elections coming up in 2012, our enemies are going to try to make us look like extremists who want to shut down government, close the schools, shutter the fire house, and cut off grannie’s Social Security check.  We must be careful not to do anything that will play into their hands.

  16. says

    All of these services can be privatized. It is a simple fact that government bureaucracy has created a monopoly for themselves so that nobody else can compete. Monopolies are only forbidden for private companies.
     
     

  17. says

    @Doug1943:  I’ll just throw in here that there are reasonable jobs the government should do.  It’s long made sense for them to maintain roads, so that you don’t end up with a medieval patchwork of potholes.  National security, police work, epidemic prevention, etc.  All good.  The problem is when the government steps out of its traditional realm or when it simply does make-work jobs.

    Back in the 1930s, a lot of jobs were make-work, on the theory that people needed to feel useful.  We don’t have that theory any more.  We just do make-work on the theory that people need their entitlements.

  18. Oldflyer says

    The usual straw man whenever anyone criticizes expensive, or excessive,  government is to to trot out the “essential services” mantra.  Never mind that even the most serious small-government conservative accepts a certain level of government.  Still, those services, with the possible exception of defense, could be privatized.  There are many elite private schools in my area, which charge roughly the same that DC spends per pupil in their public system. There is one major difference.  One system sends a high percentage of pupils to college; the other has a devastating percentage who never finish.  The reason for public schools, public fire service, public roads, etc. is to provide a mechanism for  those who don’t use the services to  defray the cost to those who benefit.  I have not had a child in public school in over 30 years.  Since the last one left, education costs have sky-rocketed.  But, through the magic of ever increasing  taxes, I help pay for all of the modern improvements, nay frills and bureaucratic layers, added to public education since my last child left the system.
    Just read today that the California solar power company which received over $500mil in stimulus funds to create “green jobs”, treated itself to a sparkling new facility, then closed its older one with a net gain of approximately 0 jobs.  That should shut up the Liberals  about gov’t creating jobs.  But, it won’t.

  19. says

    I agree with both the above, but we need to make a distinction between “privatization” and “subsidization”.
    I think our education system would be better, for the reasons given above regarding the malign effects of monopoly, if every parent were given a voucher and could then choose whatever school he liked. But notice, this is still taxation: I, who am childless, would still be forced by the state to pay for the education of my neighbor’s children.
    Now that’s fine with me, but it’s not genuine privatization. And there are other services carried out by the government that I would not want to see privatized at all. (For example, national defence.)
    We’re in a war for the votes of that 40% of the American electorate who do not consider themselves either liberals or conservatives. Without the support of a substantial number of them, we will see liberals returning to power.
    Now these people are ‘conservative’  in the sense that they are suspicious of radical change. This means our enemies on the Left are going to try to paint us as radicals, who want to close down government.
    Conservatives tend to be individualistic and contrarian, and it’s a huge temptation to reply to this accusation that we are anti-government by saying, “Close down government? Hey, not a bad idea!” Which is fun in a bar-room argument, but had better not go beyond that, if we want to keep winning.

  20. Charles Martel says

    I think we have to provide good analogies to our philosophical positions. If somebody asks me, “Do you want to shut down the government,” I will answer, truthfully, “Of course not. What I want to do is trim it. Imagine that everybody has a personal trainer—something like a secular guardian angel—to help you with certain parts of your life where you cannot go it alone. But when he shows up at the door he’s  overweight, admits he never exercises, is holding an opened bag of pork rinds in his hand, and immediately reaches for your wallet to grab some payment for services about to be rendered. Are you being radical if you think this guy is not what you need or thought you were getting?”

  21. SADIE says

    Charles Martel
     
    Anyone holding a bag of opened pork rinds is not coming to my door even if he/she has a bottle of Jones bacon flavor soda marked kosher for Passover.
     
    Excellent analogy, too.

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