Monday, November 22, 2010

How very Jeffersonian!

There's a movement afoot to amend the federal Constitution to permit 2/3rds of the states to nullify federal legislation.  Here's the story.  It doesn't appear that the amendment would allow the states to revoke federal judicial rulings as well.  Looks like the Jeffersonian idea of nullification and interposition has been updated and put back into circulation...

51 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Very interesting< Mark. Thanks.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Randy Barnett, a "radical originalist," I might call him, is into this.

http://volokh.com/2010/09/16/the-case-for-a-repeal-amendment/

Too radical for me, but Jon Rowe like him enough that he probably would mind if I call him a "Barnettist."

I like this proposal very much, as it accomplishes what repealing the 17th Amendment wouldn't---returning to the states a more direct voice in Washington.

Our original Constitution provided for our senators to be appointed by their state legislatures, so that senators would be accountable to their states. Eventually, many states chose direct elections by the voters instead. Finally, in 1913, the 17th was ratified, and ALL senators were elected directly.

So even if the 17th were repealed, many, most, or all states would still go with direct election. Trying to repeal the 17th is probably impossible, plus it probably wouldn't change much anyway, since most states would choose to stick with direct election.

This "Barnett" Amendment could work, at least occasionally, to restore more power to the states---devolve power from the "general" government---i.e., "federalism."

Mark in Spokane said...

One of the major things it would do, as you note Tom, is to revigorate the idea of the States having some protection against federal intervention into State affairs. That's something that has been missing since the 17th Amendment was ratified, and it is something that structurally needs to be reincorporated into the Constitution, I think. Repeal of the 17th Amendment, as you also point out, probably wouldn't accomplish that purpose now, but the kind of amendment proposed by Barnett and others might.

One thing I would like to see is for the proposal to apply to more than just federal legislation. I would also want to see it apply to federal judicial decisions as well and federal regulatory policy. Place some kind of structural limitation on the power of the federal government in all its forms -- legislative, judicial, executive. That would reinvigorate both State authority and State politics.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

While I agree that it "MIGHT" limit federal power (a good thing), since Senators would be political appointees by the State, would it bring politics to a lower level of a "good ole boy" system? Would it affect civil rights, like the original Federalists would have liked? How would these appointed senators, who would be representing their States deal with government contracts, such as the Defense Department? Wouldn't it just make States the benefactor of the profits like private corporations used to have? Would it disadvantage some States that did not have as much expertise at their disposal to gain these contracts?

James Hanley said...

I'd be satisfied with legislation like this. It's good in that it's not too rigid. It has flexibility in that Congress could revisit an issue after elections, to test whether the states really still mean it, rather than it being a fixed, set-in-stone, outcome based on feelings of the moment.

Pragmatically, we might want the amendment to specify a time window within which the states can do this for any particular piece of legislation. I.e., perhaps within one year of a law taking effect, or all 2/3 repeal votes must occur within a one (two?) year time frame.


It's an interesting idea also for the underlying political meaning, which is to reassert that Congress is not itself simply supreme over the state legislatures, but a partner in governing.

I would vigorously object, though, if it applied to judicial decisions. I just can't grasp why people don't make the distinction between law and politics and are so eager to politicize the judiciary.

Application to executive branch rule-making would be worth considering, too. It's probably even more of a problem for the states than federal legislation itself is.

Mark in Spokane said...

Angie, I think you raise some good points, all of which work against repeal of the 17th Amendment. While I think that many of the distortions between federal and state power that have arisen in the last century (give or take a few years) can be attributed at least in part to the 17th Amendment, repeal of that amendment would cause its own host of problems. I think that a better, small-c conservative approach would be to do something like the amendment that Barnett is proposing -- but I would expand it somewhat as well to include both regulatory policy and federal court decisions. The federal government, particularly the modern federal government, isn't just the Congress acting. The president's authority has expanded dramatically with the rise of the administrative regime since the Progressive Era, and the federal court's have drastically increased their power since the "Switch in Time That Saved Nine" during FDR's administration -- via the power the Court provided itself via Caroline Products footnote 4. All of those developments -- the 17th Amendment, the rise of the administrative function of the federal government, the increased scope of the federal judiciary's power over the states -- need to be taken into consideration.

I think the 2/3rds majority provision would adequately insure against a return to some of the more noxious elements of federal deference to State's Rights, such as Jim Crow laws. And it would provide a need for political elites to pay more attention to the middle part of the country -- "flyover" states that don't necessarily get a lot of attention now, but would in a system where 2/3rds of all the states -- not just big states like Texas, California, New York and Florida -- would have an increased structural function in federal law-making.

Jason_Pappas said...

I, too, recalled the 17th Amendment as I was reading your article, Mark. I like the motivation of the legislation but as always I'm hesitant to change the Constitution. One can never be sure of the unintended consequences.

Still, the executive branch now has regulatory power that virtually enables it to avoid passing further legislation. These regulations put financial burdens on the states. Some checks and balances are needed.

Pinky said...

.
My thoughts on this idea and others of a similar vein all of which question the validity of those activities in which our government seems most involved is that merely putting them on the table is a healthy sign.
.
It seems healthy to me, as well, that we are having these national debates of what is and is not responsible on the part of our governmental representatives. It also seems to me that the present push and pull regarding so-called conservative and so-called liberal segments is a sign that our system is working.

Most of my questions might have to do with whether or not the debates have come in time to do a lot of good. Perhaps we've leaned too far in our national reaction against liberal thinking. The dangers of too far leaning in either direction tend toward totalitarian authority and that has proven to always be a dangerous tilt.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
I think I agree with you.
No one person has a handle on wisdom and the debates our Founders had were a search for the right fit for our government. We do the same.

The problem, as I understand it, is the if State legislatures appoint their Senators, then the busniess that is to benefit the Staes must not infringe upon the individual's liberties, either.

Lobbyists at the national level do this for the corporation's benefit, but at what costs to the average citizen? Money is the driving force for both the corporation and the State. The corporation, though is a free enterprise system. Wouldn't a State system be over-turning private ownership? Wouldn't the State system be "unionizing" corporate interests? Would these regulations demotivate workers? Would regulations undermine profit margins, limit propserity? What about private ownership in regards to stocks and bonds?

Pinky said...

.
Yes, at least I think you are correct in asking your questions, Angie.
.
And, it seems to me that your questions show the national conversation needs expanding.
.
I've heard criticism of the president regarding his "professorial" ways.
.
Hah!
.
What I remember about college that was the most effective learning tool were those discussions we held after our reading assignments and the lectures had been completed.
.
It seems to me that the national table needs to be set with food for serious thinking by We the People. Maybe it would short circuit the bullshit cable shows?

I'm not saying Obama should be promoting Make Work Programs like FDR enacted; but, that he should put the ideas on the table so we can have a national discussion that would test our taste for such fare. He could direct our discussions more specifically. Maybe that's what he has in mind?
.
As it is, the Corporatocracy seems to be having its way far too often.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm not saying Obama should be promoting Make Work Programs like FDR enacted; but, that he should put the ideas on the table so we can have a national discussion that would test our taste for such fare.

We just did. It's called an election.

Pinky said...

,
I expect much more from you, Tom.
.
There was NO discussion--only a vote. And, the meaning of which--at best--is highly doubtful.
.
Time will show that to be true.
.
The American electorate is almost clueless.
.
But, the discussion seems to be opening up.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I was being glib, but not unserious, Pinky. The discussion went on all year. The people hath spoke

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44670.html

at least until they change their minds again. Plus all you have to do is look at the financial meltdown in Europe to see that a dreamy utopian social state is simply unsustainable.

And I don't share your disdain for the American people and the electorate. They get it right more often than the politicians themselves do.

bpabbott said...

Re: "all you have to do is look at the financial meltdown in Europe to see that a dreamy utopian social state is simply unsustainable."

Tom, the entire EU can't hold a candle to the unsustainable example we'v set.

I'm not disagreeing with the need to be more fiscally responsible, but the "socialist" European nations as a whole have been more fiscally responsible than the US.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

bpabbott,
I don't think that America's problem is with its lack of "socialist" agenda. It is rather the focus of our nation's life on "get rich quick" schemes and a desire to be rich as one's ultimate goal/purpose. This is what drives politicians to "give perks" to their States at the expense of us all. Or programs for the poor that do little to enhance their desire or ability to work, or be productive to/in/for society.

What this has done to our country from the young marrieds thinking they can have what their parent worked hard all their lives for; parents to seek careers that disadvantage their children emotionally; and the markets to be driven by a higher and higher need to consume; have all created our society's desitution fiscally.

Those of us who have made other choices than the above don't think it wise to continue the cycle of rescuing those that have made bad financial choices. Personal responsibility for one's finances and one's life choices is what America lacks these days.

The "American Dream" is a symbol for opportunity to create wealth, and make a "statement" with one's life, but it can become the "American Nightmare" if it becomes the end all of one's life. Ambition drives competition, but it also drives corruption, or evil toward those that might hinder one's goals.

So, politics has become driven by these "ideals". And those that hold the money strings also hold the attention of the politician because political campaigns have become so expensive. Those of character who do not hold positions of power are doomed under leadership that is short on representing their interests.

Hopefully, the "Tea Party" movement will make a difference in how politicians listen to those that have had no "voice".

I, for one, have delighted that the disempowered have gotten their foot in the door. Hopefully, the government programs that have led to abuses of power will be undercut and we can turn the state of our country around.

Pinky said...

.
Any conversation that was held was little more than a display of the fear for what might be the inevitable--a preamble to things yet to be.
.
This is the period of unrest--a time when built up wealth is wasted--a kind of civil war within our Western civilization and American Society.
.
The Devil is taking his due.
.
And, America is being injured.
.
Pray for her recovery.
.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles were on a committee that sought to find a way to bring fiscal responsibility. Alan Simpson spent $25,000 of his personal wealth (which I am sure is above the average "joe") to underwrite expenses for such an endeavor. That is real leadership, I believe. I respect them for doing what they can.

Pinky said...

.
Put this is your pipe and smoke it:
.
Ireland is in a bankrupt condition and has taken aid paid for by the common taxpayers of other, some socialist, European countries. Today's N.Y. Times reports the economic situation in Ireland with the lowest corporate taxes in the entire European Union. And they've just voted not to raise corporate taxes.
.
A easy raise in taxes on corporations would cure Ireland's economic woes.
.
Long live capitalism.
.

bpabbott said...

Re: "I don't think that America's problem is with its lack of "socialist" agenda."

I agree Angie. My point was that the American example doesn't compare well with Europe's. I think it is clear that American entitlement programs (whether they are socialist, fascist, or otherwise) have presently demonstrated a far greater failure than Europe's, but I don't favor either regions approach to economic management.

I also agree that there are too many looking for an easy path to riches ... or help in preserving riches already obtained. Meaning I see unjust political ideologies embraced by the unsuccessful, as well as by the elite and rich (different ideologies, of course) ... I suspect the majority of the TP crowd are from between these extremes.

I am hopeful the TP movement will result in constructive change, but am frustrated by much of the nonsensical rhetoric that is promoted by politicians claiming to represent this discordant group.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Pinky---and Ben---I've been keeping an eye on Europe and the EU for awhile now.

Trying to stay away from our own politics as much as possible, the first thing is Ireland. It was practically 3rd world until the EU pumped billions into its economy, pretty much for political reasons, to swing it into the EU.

Just 18 months ago, I was reading about an Irish miracle, that a sleepy, backward, and rural/agrarian society turned into a sort of celtic Bangalore overnight---call centers, educated populace, information technology, etc.

It wasn't about corporate low taxes, although that was part of the equation. It was a remaking of its society by the EU's wealth, to rope it into the what Strauss and Kojeve might call the modern international Universal Homogeneous State. The EU is the genesis of that.

And yes, Ben, while Europe, esp Scandinavia, has been pulling in the horns of Social Democrat statism for years now; although they loved the cosmopolitan leftism of Obama, they were puzzled that America swung left just as they have been swinging right for years now.

The European social democrat state is only 65 years old or so, since the end of WWII. After hearing how wonderful it is, with gov't subsidies for virtually everything, and half the population or more receiving them, I was curious to see the other shoe drop---that of sustainability.

65 years ain't shit in human history. The UK's national health service started by confiscating [nationalizing] every private and charity hospital. what happens in 50 years when they all start falling a part and you have to build new ones from scratch to replace them?

This was the part they didn't account for---running the existing infrastructure on a shoestring was OK for awhile but...

It was sort of like stealing a car. You might scrounge up enough for gas to keep going, but at some point, the transmission falls out. So what do you do when there are no more cars left to steal?

bpabbott said...

Re: "A easy raise in taxes on corporations would cure Ireland's economic woes."

Phil, I'm not accustomed to sarcasm from you :-)

Re: "Long live capitalism."

If history is any judge, free markets will prosper independent of the degree of Ireland's (or our) participation.

bpabbott said...

Tom, good comments. I've also noticed Europe's shift to the right. Its a good trend. Kudos to them.

Unfortunately, I noticed we've moved toward offsetting social entitlements for the poor with entitlements for corporations and/or the rich.

Entitlements for the left being traded for entitlements for the right ... all of them being wrong.

Perhaps this is to be expected in a society whose politics are dominated by two parties, one championing the left and the other the right.

Tom Van Dyke said...

ben, there's one number i've never/seldom seen. i had to attempt to calculate for myself.

All the blather about "tax cuts for the rich," percentaged raising "only" from 36 to 39, etc.

How much money are we talking about???

Already.

When the "Bush tax cuts" went in, my back-of-the-envelope said the rich's share was $40-80 billion.

So that's what we're talking about in a trillion-dollar deficit. Not petty cash, but not even 10%.

Now, I'm not one to argue that such tax cuts entirely pay for themselves. However, these rich folk do have the most easily spreadable loose catch, and it does tend to go to investments, cars, hotels, restaurants, etc. Cutting off that loose cash off can contribute to an economic death-spiral.

When the rich cut back, that's bad, even for Joe or Jose Six-pack.

As for tax breaks for corporations, I have no moral or philosophical leanings either way. Whatever works.

But I'm not convinced they are the enemy. I see them more as forces of [free-enterprise] nature. Sometimes they are hurricanes, but mostly they just bring sunshine or rain, both of which we need.

As for entitlements and "social justice," I've been wondering how hurting those you want to help [sapping their self-sufficiency] or stealing from future generations to live well today [unsustainability] meets any conceivable definition of justice.

A rhetorical argument, I know, but not unbased in reality and a question being asked not just in Europe, but in this past election as well.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Relevant & food for thought, BTW, challenging the narrative;

“If you look at President Obama’s healthcare legislation and cap and trade, there’s only one reason those things got as far as they did – they had big business support,” said Tom Borelli, Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/11/26/tea-party-targets-big-business/#ixzz16S9sn8Bz

Just throwing it into the mix. I take no side here, but it's been a thought that's occurred to me.

That GOP = Dow Jones was true in the 1920s, and probably for many years after.

But GOP in 2010 = Tea Party, and Tea Party = federalism. I bet a lot of Tea Partiers are hostile to MegaCorp Inc., as long as you don't fuck with their Wal-Mart.

Ben, I see a realignment here that the well-worn paradigms, the traditional battle lines, just doesn't account for.

In fact this link


http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44670.html

was actually about the GOP taking over the statehouses. 500+ state legislature seats went Republican!

The GOP has always been a national party, thinking about the Big Things---national security, capitalism as a concept, and cosmic issues like abortion and whathaveyou. [It started with opposition to slavery, of course.]


But it's been, in our lifetimes, relatively uninterested in local issues. Indeed, it was happy to win the presidency, and ceded Congress to the Dems until Gingrich's revolution.

And at the local level, Dems have usually dominated. Local stuff is not Big Things. They dig all that technocrat wonk stuff anyway. Let them worry about the most efficient way to collect garbage. Hell, they get degrees in it!

A good discussion, and thx to Pinky, Angie & Ben. There's a tendency to just try to plug current events into the past, one-for-one.

But although history doesn't repeat itself, it echoes, here and there. 2010's Tea Party isn't 1773's Tea party. And like this douchebag writes---printed in a major American paper, it's not a repeat or even an echo of the Know-Nothings, an ignorant and disgraceful comparison.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20101010_With_the_tea_party__history_repeats_itself.html

But it is a reorientation of the GOP, away from Big Business is Best back to federalism---which was actually the position of the anti-Federalists, not that bigger is better, but that smaller is better.

If you have a sharp ear, you can tell where an echo is coming from. To the dull ear, the echoes just melt all into each other, an indistinguishable wall of noise.

Pinky said...

.
Long Live Capitalism....
.
Right--Sarcasm.
.
Could we ever possibly be able to think there might be something wrong with capitalism? Or is it too sacrosanct for words that we can't even admit to some small problem with it and how it works? Has it come to be like some religious doctrine about which if we take exception we must be excommunicated?
.
My comments about national conversations regarding the present situation hold.
.
When the rhetoric laid down overwhelmingly promotes a one sided answer to all the problems, there is no conversation--only a drilling repetition of the thinking that got us into he problem in the first place--the one with which we are presently faced.
.
American Exceptionalism has something to do with the idea that we, as a People, are able to look our problems squarely in the eye and to consequently come up with innovative answers that move us into an improved future. Instead, what we're being faced with is a recalcitrant leadership that will not consider causes of the problem or alternative ways toward the future.
.
Too bad...
.
Way too bad.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
About American Exceptionalism, are you talking about economics via capitalism, or type of government? I find that without a good government, capitalism doesn't work except for a few. And this seems to be "fly in the soup", so to speak.

With the expansion of the executive branch, Presidents have been able to surpass the oversight of Congress, which has subverted the balance of power. But, at the same time, with professional politicians "in place", with no term limits, Congressmen are constantly campaigning by granting monies and giving entitlements to thier particular State with no sense of responsibility toward the 'whole" (U.S.A.). And these same politicians can prosper themselves by granting entitlements to corporate interests, which just so happens to benefit their own interests, at tax payer expense. This is the demoralization of our nation. Where leaders are no longer serving other, but themselves.

Perhaps the Tea Party and its "wins" this year will help further the purposes that our Founders wanted in government; accountabilty/balance of power. I do hope so!

Pinky said...

.
I only mentioned American Exceptionalism as an example of how we Americans have traditionally solved our problems as a People during our era in history.
.
I don't count on the Tea Party or any other aspect of party politics to solve any problems. Political parties are the problem and the Tea Party is just one more example of the problem.
.
Sure. There are well meaning people who, if they could ever have their way, things would get done for the better. But, they will not have their way. Party is superior to the individual. They will have to go along or be marginalized. The Koch Brothers influence is no cooked up fantasy.
.
The idea that the act of becoming wealthy is an unalienable right is a little on the pathetic side of life's experience. It's no more such a right than was John Candy's right to become a ballet star. If he could have done it in the mix of all the rigors involved, more power to him. But, he was a terrific actor.
.
Wealth is also a relative thing; so, getting to be wealthy is something that is done relative to what others are getting to be. And, we all have exactly the same rights all the rest of us possess. Perhaps I see something in the wealthy people I know that I think is far away from any goal or aspiration I have. What responsibility do I have to think wealth is a desirable end of life? The majority has the right to see taxes levied as much as it has the right to do away with them. Arguments to the alternative are simple minded.
.
And, since Tom brought up Strauss, I think it is appropriate, here, to point at Strauss's lecture in which he deals with the Xenophontic Socrates, i.e., politics and philosophy.
.
If all you're interested in is the political outcome of what's transpiring in our current American situation, then, I guess we can talk about "wins" and all that sort of balderdash. But, justice seems important.
.
Yet, the politics of going along to get along seems to have the moment.
.

Pinky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pinky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
I didn't say that money was to be the only ultimate value in life. I just asserted that money had become America's "ideal". And that isn't "right or wrong", unless you prescribe to a "one size fits all" understanding about values.

But, I do believe that it is not ethical, or moral to disregard the principles of liberty as to individual personal "realities" in determining political "realities". This is the description of tyranny, isn't it?

bpabbott said...

Its hard to find non-partisan info on the Bush Tax cuts. I've read several articles that, to some degree, cut through the fog. The articles I'm thinking of debunk various partisan distortions.

The whole tax issue strikes me as a tit-for-tat cycle where (1) entitlements are handed out to the low tail of the bell curve, and (2) entitlements for the high tail of the bell curve. The outliers benefit in the short term, and become dependent upon the entitlements in the long term. All the time the middle shoulders the burden.

Regarding the effects of the Bush tax cuts, to date they've added about $600B to the debt, see Tax Returns: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Bush Administration's Record on Cutting Taxes.

Personally, I think the tax cuts were a bad idea. My understading is that cutting taxes on individuals does not correlate strongly with economic expansion. Neither does raising taxes on individuals correlate well with increased tax revenues as does economic expansion. Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing economic growth and personal income taxes are independent, just that there a more significant factors.

For example, corporate income taxes. I do think taxes on corporations have a more significant effect. High taxes push corporate expansion to regions with less of a tax burden, and low taxes attract expansion from regions with a higher tax burden. The study, The effect of corporate taxes on investment and entrepreneurship, backs up what I think is obvious.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
What I should have said (or closer to what I meant) is; riches are not the ultimate as to value, but a result of a free society. That is if private property and personal rights to life and liberty is respected and valued as a right.

Pinky said...

.
Maybe I'm confused, Angie?
.
I don't think money is the problem.
.
And don't see how liberty gets involved in this discussion.
.
Clue me in.
.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

PINKY,
I don't know if you are being sarcastic or honestly asking for my perspective..but, I'll assume the later.

The answer is really how one frames thier assumptions about political realities and values.

If one assumes that life is first and foremost of importance, then, one would value economics, as without economic viability, there can be no life. Money is means of producing a viable life.

If one assumes liberty, as a first priority, then, life is not valued unless liberty is of ultimate value, therefore government is an important aspect to emphasize.

Pinky said...

For example, corporate income taxes. I do think taxes on corporations have a more significant effect. High taxes push corporate expansion to regions with less of a tax burden, and low taxes attract expansion from regions with a higher tax burden.
.
That all depends on how the taxes are applied, doesn't it?
.
For instance, a tax on imports does not stop the multinationals from taking advantage of the low production costs provided by some foreign labor pool; but, it sure puts the stopper on their ability to reap profits from their niggardly ways when it comes to making sales at home.
.
Beside that, look what it has done to our local ability to respond to market demand when it gets expressed.
.
I'm not against helping the people of other societies to realize the same opportunities for economic growth we have enjoyed in our society. The problems are not so simple as they are being portrayed.
.
In the end, the city in which we reside must be taken into consideration.
.
After all, the health of our national economy is far more important than the rights of some greedy billionaires to take their liberties.
.
I spent a stint in the foundries of America's auto industry. I watched men hard at work. Pouring iron has to be the hardest of all jobs--much moreso than whatever it takes to be a billionaire.
.

Pinky said...

Personally, I think the tax cuts were a bad idea. My understanding is that cutting taxes on individuals does not correlate strongly with economic expansion. Neither does raising taxes on individuals correlate well with increased tax revenues as does economic expansion. Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing economic growth and personal income taxes are independent, just that there a more significant factors.
.
If the Bush tax cuts correlated with increased employment or increased tax revenues, then we should have had both of those advantages.
.
Obviously the Bush tax cuts helped to bring on the problems we now face. We must see them repealed.
.

Pinky said...

.
All this political rhetoric about the importance of extending the tax cuts, etc., is a one sided conversation as far as the general populace of the U.S.A. is concerned.
.
China and the multinational corporations are the beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts. They are the ones who truly want the tax cuts extended. Those tax cuts only hurt America.
.
I'm pretty sure the Chinese authorities have laughing fits whenever they think of the stupidity our political leaders have shown by handing our national wealth over to them. WTF do we care about the Koch Brothers?
.
Wealth, by the way, Angie, is the result of production. Productivity is the definition of the ability to be wealthy.
.
.

Pinky said...

.
It seems we have long since put the wealth of the individual ahead of the wealth of the nation.
,
We've got too close to the trees to see the forest.
.
We're sick.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Adam Smith, Pinky. Invisible hand.

Ben, I can't buy your first source, as it's pretty lefty [and ignores "dynamic scoring"]. The second source looks interesting, though. It's my understanding that corporate tax in the US is higher than in many or most places.

bpabbott said...

Phil: "China and the multinational corporations are the beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts. They are the ones who truly want the tax cuts extended. Those tax cuts only hurt America."

Tom: "Adam Smith, Pinky. Invisible hand."

I assume these comments go together.

Tax breaks give consumer more money to spend. Consumers buy products. Products are manufactured over-seas, with China being the largest manufacturer.

Imagine the effect if Dell, Apple, etc were to manufacture in the US. I'm not suggesting they should be forced to (that would be a poison pill for each company). Rather I'm suggesting the US should examine the economics that makes one site more attractive for manufacturing than another site.

In spite of the claims of cheap labor, my personal experience for manufacturing jobs (high capital equipment costs) is that they go to regions with highly skilled work forces and low corporate income taxes.

Cheap labor is attractive to business where costs are dominated by labor. Call centers are a good example. Semiconductor fabs, cell phone manufacturing are not.

Tom Van Dyke said...

My wonkage on this stuff is a little low, Ben, so my arguments tend toward the epistemological, if not sophistic.

However, it's fairly acknowledged that the US has become more a service economy, and services can be rendered only on the spot. [Mostly, leaving out call centers, a fairly unique phenomenon.]

Otherwise, restaurants, home construction, fixing your car, merchants, all of those benefit from tax cuts as the money must be spent in the US.

This isn't to say it's a panacea. It may indeed be true that without manufacturing, we create no wealth. But the decline of American manufacturing is a decades-old problem, and not specifically related to the Bush tax cuts.

And the fact remains that during the Reagan years, the net revenues of the Treasury ballooned, more than making up in volume what it lost in high margins, the Wal-Mart model vs. Bloomingdale's.

Actually, I was applying Adam Smith to the comment

It seems we have long since put the wealth of the individual ahead of the wealth of the nation.

For as Smith wrote

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

Pinky said...

.
Ben, I know about how tax cuts give the consumer more money to spend.
.
What's the number one characteristic of a consumer?
.
And, how does the consumer get that without a job?
.

bpabbott said...

Tom,

I agree that the US economy (today) relies heavily upon the service industry. However, that reliance was much less so in the 1980's when Reagan was President.

Spending on services tends to be less elastic than on consumer products. Thus, the difference in results when comparing Reagan and Bush tax cuts. Meaning with the Bush tax cuts more of the monies are expected to travel overseas.

Regarding Adam Smith, if you are implying that the invisible hand is the most desirable regulator of the market, you are asserting a claim that Adam Smith did not make. It is a popular, but incorrect, attribution.

(If you are not making/implying that attribution, I apologize. In either event, I'll continue along that thread for the benefit of those who may have come to understand Smith in that way)

Adam Smith's invisible hand is better described at unintended consequences.

For example, the government can raise taxes on corporations to increase tax revenues with the intent of increasing revenues .... only to later observe corporations move their operations overseas where taxes are lower. Not only do the tax revenues from corporations decrease, but the shift to overseas factories reduces the revenues from personal income taxes as well.

You can read about Smith's invisible hand at Wikipedia but you'll get a better understanding of the metaphor from Gavin Kennedy who has invested much effort in studying the subject.

There are some parallels between the American Revolution and Economics. The most striking for me is the frequent confusion of modern ideology/doctrine with enlightenment era opinions. Opinions that relied more heavily upon a reasoned examination of facts, than upon the blind acceptance of doctrine.

bpabbott said...

Phil: "how does the consumer [consume] without a job."

This is the what I think is the foundation of the problem. Just as in 1992, the 2012 election will be decided by the obvious ... It's the economy, stupid.

No offense to anyone intended ... just quoting for dramatic effect.

Pinky said...

Here are some facts.

It is said the family is the most important human group of all as it gives the individual the opportunity to live out their natural existence, etc., etc..

But, the family cannot exist without the greater society.

And, so on into every aspect of life.

America provides safe haven for families and, so, individuals are able to pursue their dreams exercising their liberty. It all depends on our American society.

It costs money to make the society work for the good of all involved.

This insanity that is being hyped all over the place about Obama's socialist values and his wanting the government to redistribute the wealth is damned foolishness to put it nicely.
.
You do not has to be a collitch perfessor to know that.
.

bpabbott said...

Smith: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

Regarding this quote, Adam Smith was explaining how self-interest may result in benevolence. I do not understand him to be asserting that self-interest must produces benevolence.

bpabbott said...

Phil: "This insanity that is being hyped all over the place about Obama's socialist values and his wanting the government to redistribute the wealth is damned foolishness to put it nicely."

I'm in agreement that Obama is far from a social messiah.

Tom Van Dyke said...

This about covers it for me.

Pinky said...

.
What did the Founders have to say about getting loans and accumulating debt?
.
I recall that learning that Carrolton (the elder?) made significant loans to the fledgling union to help carry out the revolution.
.
I see talk that we want to "manage the debt". Does that mean that we have no interest in paying off the national debt?
.
What did any Founders have to say about the problems involved in debt accumulation?
,

Mikewind Dale said...

"It doesn't appear that the amendment would allow the states to revoke federal judicial rulings as well."

That would violate the prohibition of ex post facto judgments, I imagine. To repeal a judicial ruling really means that whoever was paid damages, now must go back and repay those damages x2 to the other party.

What we want to do is to prevent the judicial ruling from having any significance in the future, and this amendment would do that just fine. You cannot touch the ruling itself, but you can strike down any law that relies on that ruling, and no matter how many times the Supreme Court insists the law is constitutional, the states can keep on repealing it ad nauseum.

And, after all, judicial rulings have no binding force except in the specific case. Stare decisis is a recommendation, not a legal obligation. The judicial rulings really only bind in the particular case, and technically, there's nothing to stop a future Supreme Court (say, composed entirely of clones of Clarence Thomas) from entirely ignoring all those rulings. So if the rulings have no legal force for the future, what would repealing them for the future do? All you can do is repeal their significance for the past, and that would be a violation of the prohibition of ex post facto.

Mikewind Dale said...

Or maybe it'd be double jeopardy. Same difference.