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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

We never talk about the source of "extremism."

Iran was headed toward a stable, secular democracy, until the CIA decided it needed to be more open with its oil reserves and gifted it with the dictatorial Shah. The response was the rise of the Islamic Revolution. It's questionable as to whether Iran would have Ayatollahs and be the central force in radical Shia activities today if we hadn't decided to topple a government the people seemed to like.

Al Quaeda inspired its followers on a similar basis -- American troops in Muslim lands.

Then we thought it would be smart to annihilate the government and infrastructure of Iraq, and in so doing, do nothing to either co-opt or capture Hussein's Sunni troops and leadership.

Then destabilization in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, leaving chaos, a huge power vacuum, and tens of thousands of people who only know America as that outfit that keeps blowing things up.

We're not the sole cause of Islamic extremism, but absent our consistent foreign policy of preferring business-friendly dictators and trying to destabilize or "regime change" every player in the region, it's hard to see how either Al Quaeda or ISIL could have gained the traction that they have.

We set things on fire and then shriek in outrage when a spark leaps off onto our clothes. And for some reason, we almost never connect any of those dots -- even the most obvious like our disastrous regime change adventures in Iran and Iraq -- and consider that maybe we should stop doing things this way.

Yes. Hundreds of laws. Religious extremism is thriving in America.

... with all the primitive thinking about human rights, the role of women in society and insistence on pre-scientific views of the physical world that entails.

I fell into some Internet hole today where people were talking about "the biggest lie you ever believed." There was a striking number of responses from people brought up in fundamentalist Christian schools who were taught that "fossils are a lie planted by Satan," and that there used to be an "extra canopy of oxygen" on the earth that allowed people to live for hundreds of years. In their private-school SCIENCE class. They literally had to unlearn these things to accept what most of us would think of as basic objective reality.

I read too that the PP clinic in Colorado, which is still closed due to the shootings there, *already has protesters* hanging plastic baby dolls in the trees and screaming at anyone who walks near.

We cannot be like this. Reason cannot be an option people can subscribe to or not. I don't know how proud we can be that we are not beheading apostates in the public square or selling women to soldiers, simply because the people pushing us in those directions have not gotten us all the way there yet.

It may be time to take the Tasers away for a while.

And maybe the pepper spray as well.

The whole idea behind "less than lethal" equipment for police officers was that they could subdue people who would otherwise be a threat without killing them.

Instead, when someone is the least bit threatening (unless it is an older white man with an assault rifle of course) they are shot 15 or 20 times.

Tasers and pepper spray are being used as torture devices, or to obtain utter "compliance" without the slightest bit of effort by the officer. These stories of people being Tasered dozens of times (the device manufacturer warns not to do that) are common now. Old women. People in wheelchairs. The mentally confused. Electrocuted until they lose consciousness or die, while some angry LEO screams at them to "stop resisting."

That is not what this equipment is for.

I do not like the dumbed-down way we as a country are discussing the issue of brutality in law enforcement. It is not a question of hating law enforcement in general or not respecting the people who do that very difficult and dangerous job well.

But we DO have an enormous problem with excessive force, which does have a clear racial component in many cases. We have militarized and radicalized law enforcement as though we were preparing them to expect ultra-violence at all times. They throw bombs through windows on the basis of anonymous tips. They drive armored vehicles and dress in tactical gear to address peaceful protests.

They are armored up and amped up and encouraged to be remorseless killing machines, when what we need are PEACE OFFICERS.

The people angriest at ISIL are certainly the most like ISIL.

The problem the Republicans see is not the rise of religious fundamentalists who reject reason, embrace cruelty and violence, and try to destroy anyone not in their cultural tribe.

It's just that to them, it's the wrong tribe doing it.

I see people in the thread curling their lip at the comparison, but our conservatives espouse the same levels of intolerance, the same contempt for reason and the rights of others; the same utter lack of empathy or moral compunction.

And our leaders -- even our minor ones -- have far, far greater actual physical power in the world than the latest Muslim extremist group.

Mike Huckabee, who has been taken semi-seriously as a Presidential candidate, and who has been a governor in a state probably larger than anything ISIL will ever control, has said that the Bible takes precedence over the Constitution, and that women only want reproductive healthcare because liberals have convinced them they can't control their own libidos.

Jeb Bush, a member of America's most powerful political family, suggested that incoming refugees be screened to allow in only Christians.

The entire most recent Republican debate was a contest to see who could sound the most extreme and ferocious in their proposed response to the San Bernadino shootings, because it was apparently motivated by radical Islam. Not a peep about the previous mass shooting by a conservative Christian nut motivated by a hatred of Planned Parenthood. Or the other rightwing nut who murdered Sikhs at their own house of worship, because he equated them with Muslims. Or the other rightwing nut who shot a conservative Christian to death because he thought he was Jewish. Or the other rightwing nut who murdered black people in a church for racist reasons. Or the previous rightwing nut who shot some people in his apartment complex because they were Indian and he thought they were in his parking space.

Chris Hayes asked Republican Rep. Steve King about the parallels between the PP shooting and San Bernadino, and he literally smirked and said his religion doesn't agree with Planned Parenthood, so ...

He essentially said it was fine. The same Mr. King smirked the same way when yet another rightwing nut flew a plane into an IRS building and killed a custodian. He could "understand the impulse" or some such thing.

And of course Donald Trump, who appears to be consciously mocking the conservative id, is winning by proposing we execute entire families and block Muslim fleeing ISIL from entering the country, while encouraging his supporters to drag protesters at his events out by their heels.

Most of the Republican field seems to support intrusive surveillance and the torture of prisoners (maybe not Rand Paul, but who's listening to that guy?)

Most of them likewise have no problem adopting the stance that scientists are probably lying about the effects of carbon on the environment to make pollution seem like a bad idea.

Most of them, including the new Republican Speaker of the House, espouse a "no exceptions" outlawing of abortion, and would force rape victims and children to give birth, and investigate miscarriages as possible "murder," a thing which is happening already in this country.

We DO have within our "mainstream" establishment people every bit as contemptuous of the rule of law, of objective truth, or of human rights, as the most bloodthirsty Islamic radicals. The fact that they have not gotten everything they want at the moment is not as big a difference as people would like to pretend.

So how different are "we," really?

Yes, your argument has about zero economists behind it.

Here are a few more examples of what economists say on the issue. As you'll see, some disagree slightly with each other, but nobody takes the "corporations just pass on all their taxes" fantasy position.

Who Pays the Corporate Income Tax?

One way or another, though, actual people have to ultimately pay the tax. Consumers pay it if companies respond to corporate taxes by raising the price of their products. Workers pay the tax if corporations respond by lowering wages. Shareholders pay the tax if it simply eats into profits and lowers share prices.

But which is it? Bruce Bartlett reports today that the March issue of the National Tax Journal has four articles that address this question. Here are the answers:

Article #1: Shareholders pay 100 percent.
Article #2: Shareholders pay 100 percent.
Article #3: Shareholders pay 40 percent, workers pay 60 percent.
Article #4: Shareholders pay 82 percent, workers pay 18 percent.


You make a larger point though, which is this idea that if people say some cockamamie thing on the Internet enough times, it carries as much weight as actual facts or study. Or as you put it, "If all I need to do is find a single economist that disagrees, this should be over pretty quick."

But that's not really the standard of what is true or what isn't. You made an unqualified statement about how corporate taxes work based on flawed political ideology as though it were a substantiated fact. Apparently you didn't look at all as to what economists think or what studies show before asserting it with an air of perfect certainty, as though this was something everyone should know. But it's not. The idea that corporations pass all their taxes along to consumers (and so taxing them is pointless) is political rhetoric created by ideologues and corporate lobbyists who would simply like corporate taxes to stay low.

It's not the same thing as an argument or a point of view. It's propaganda; a pretext. An excuse.

This is the problem we have. People have been persuaded that you can just "believe" any version of reality you want, because bad information is just as readily available as good information, and rhetoric and fantasy can be as loudly and widely dispersed as actual knowledge.

But that doesn't make malarkey and reality equal. There are actual qualitative differences in things that we can identify. The conservative / libertarian fantasy that corporate tax is magically irrelevant is not a real thing. People say it because they want a pretext to argue corporate taxes should remain absurdly low. That's it. It's not a po-TAY-to po-TAH-to situation. Corporate taxes work just fine, are actually paid by the corporations upon which they are levied, and may well need to be raised. It's nice that people who don't want them raised have come up with a piece of pseudo-logic in which to wrap their selfish objectives, but it really isn't a matter of opinion or debate.

It simply isn't so.

Well, your "central thrust" is rejected by all economists.

Economists -- even conservative ones -- who have studied how corporations handle taxes have disproven it.

The whole canard rests on very silly oversimplifications. To paraphrase,

"Everyone who makes widgets has to pay more tax, so widget prices go up."

But what if one company cuts stock dividends instead of raising prices? What if another company cuts executive pay? Or finds a more efficient technology? Or sources materials differently? Or falls into a different category of taxation?

It's a gross oversimplification that appeals to "common sense" that just isn't supported by reality. It survives like a lot of fallacies because corporations REALLY don't want to pay taxes, and repeat these false rationalizations endlessly.

Which raises the question of why, if it's all a wash anyway, corporations spend billions trying to avoid paying taxes in the first place, eh?

The fact is that corporations do not treat taxes like a fixed cost like labor. They can't, for a number of reasons. Profits are uncertain. Not all competitors pay the same taxes in the same way. Just tacking on extra costs to consumers to cover "taxes" is literally impossible and is never done.

If you had a completely inelastic demand, and a completely identical set of producers operating under completely identical conditions -- a virtual or literal monopoly -- you could theorize that taxes could be handled that way, but those conditions don't generally exist, which is why all the data shows things don't work out that way.

And the solution there would not be to lower corporate taxes, but to break up the monopoly. If for example all oil companies are so in-sync that any increase in their taxes raises costs in a 1:1 fashion, they are either colluding, or there are too few of them.

"Taxes are just passed to consumers" is not an economic theorem. It's a political fallacy used as a pretext for the most politically powerful entities to pay less of their share of the tax burden.

It's not the only one. Raising the minimum wage does not effect a 1:1 increase in consumer costs, either, not only because in a competitive market, companies can choose to deal with increased costs in a number of ways, but because higher wages decrease turnover and improve employee performance.

And then there was the grandaddy -- the "Laffer curve" -- the silly proposal that "tax cuts pay for themselves," long discredited but still used as a pretext by Republicans. That at least had a small basis in reality, which is that you can theorize that an extreme level of taxation would lower productivity, but it never purported that any reduction in taxes would automatically magically increase tax revenues, as Republicans routinely argue.

There is a whole catechism of irrational economic talk, created expressly by and for wealthy interests, that somehow has been swallowed by large numbers of people as reality. But it doesn't come from economists or from empirical study, but from political pundits and the monied interests they represent.

I think it's no coincidence that the same people claim that scientists, teachers and journalists all have "liberal bias." They know that their appeals to magical thinking and oversimplification simply aren't borne out by facts and reality.

Nope. Corporations do not just "pass on" all the taxes they pay. They can't.

This is an old bit of creative conservative economic theory to excuse cutting corporate taxes. As economists have long known, they can't do that though, because market forces will not allow it.

In the first place, almost no economists believe that the incidence of corporate income taxation falls on consumers. Most studies show that the actual burden of the tax is unequally divided between corporate shareholders, the corporation itself and the corporations employees but never consumers. In 1962, Arnold Harberger, a conservative University of Chicago economist and colleague of Milton Friedman did a careful study of the incidence (distribution of the burden) of the corporate tax and found that it fell largely on corporate shareholders in the form of lower dividends and stock value. Other studies show some ratio of distribution between labor and management, but it almost never includes consumers of the corporation's output. Another free market economist, Bruce Bartlett (a former Reagan adviser), explains why;

"...most people assume that the corporate income tax is largely paid by consumers of its products or services. That is, they assume that although the tax is nominally levied on the corporation as a whole, in fact the burden of the tax is shifted onto customers in the form of higher prices. All economists reject that idea. They point out that prices are set by market forces and the suppliers of goods and services arenít only C-corporations, which pay taxes on the corporate tax schedule, but also sole proprietorships, partnerships and S-corporations that are taxed under the individual income tax. Other suppliers include foreign corporations and nonprofits. Therefore, corporations cannot raise prices to compensate for the corporate income tax because they will be undercut by businesses to which the tax does not apply."


Taxes are on profits, and profits are calculated at the end of a tax year by adding up all the revenue and subtracting all the costs. When a product or service is sold the company doesn't really know yet how much profit, if any, it will have at the end of the year, so it doesn't know what the tax will be, so how can it adjust prices? But if a company was able to just raise prices based on anticipation of profits, then the result would be that profits would be higher because of the higher price charged, which means taxes would be even higher, so the company should have raised prices even more, but that means the profit would be even higher, so they have to go back and charge more, but then ... I think you are starting to see how silly this idea of raising prices to cover taxes can get.

About those competitors -- if one company is doing well and therefore making a profit, and another company is not doing so well, and therefore not making as much profit, and the first company raises prices to cover the taxes on the profit, then the second company has a price advantage so the first company loses sales and isn't going to have a profit after all so they really should put the prices back down, but then the other company's price advantage goes away and they are making a profit again so they should raise prices but ... Hey, this just gets silly, too!

Companies do not pass on taxes to their customers. So don't fall for this tax trick, it's just silly.


Note the bizarre double-standard as to rhetoric.

Fiorina goes on national television and repeats a complete fabrication about PP keeping a fetus "alive so we can harvest its brain" several times, even after it's established as nonsense. She is outraged that someone appearing to have taken her at her word could be seen as having been motivated by her insane accusation which she made without qualification or any indication she did not mean it literally.

Then she compares the killer that targeted PP to Black Lives Matter protestors, who the RW has accused of fomenting violence against police officers for simply noting that some of them have murdered people.

Their outrageous stories in other words, are fine, while truthful criticism is wildly irresponsible.

This is our current, mainstream Republican Party.

Cruz has gone a bit wackier than that.

He went with the shooter being "a transgender leftist activist" based some RW claim his voter registration had him down as a female.


Because that makes sense.

Again, the message is that the RW can routinely argue in hyperbolic terms that if true, would call for violence, then smirk or feign confusion when someone takes them at their word.

Meanwhile, when a rational observation is made that someone has been, for example, murdered by police, they shout that it is too dangerous a thing to say, even though it is true.

So, conservatives enable real domestic terrorism,

... while insisting that we take outrageous actions to prevent imaginary foreign terrorism to the exclusion of anything else.

Of course, foreign terrorism is a genuine possibility, but we already undertake massive precautions in that regard. The refugees that so terrify Republicans (even the toddlers, apparently) undergo a rigorous, months-longing screening process and are scrutinized endlessly. We have border guards. Watch lists. Invasive quasi-legal-to-illegal government surveillance.

And still they call for more. Higher walls. Fewer civil liberties. More belligerence and endless war on Mexico and the Middle East.

Yet they also freely encourage Americans to see other Americans they disagree with as "murderers" who "sell baby parts," or that government healthcare involves "death panels." Things which, if true, would call for a violent response.

Then they affect annoyance and confusion when someone takes them at their word and commits savage violence trying to respond to whatever life-threatening specter they have raised and people point out the connection?

How dare "the left" suggest that Carly Fiorina's explicit, repeated, disclaimer-free lies about Planned Parenthood could motivate someone to act as if they believed her?

Talk about a reality bubble. What's being sold is that conservatives can tell lies that essentially call for violent political action as a matter of course, then roll their eyes at the thought that anyone took them seriously.

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