“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rand Paul vs. the Vacuous David Letterman

Rand Paul vs. David Letterman

Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was on David Letterman last night, talking about wearing jeans on TV, being mentored by Al Franken, the difference between Tea Party and the GOP, the dangers of government debt, shrinking the public sector and growing the private sector, whether tax cuts hurt the middle class, and whether we can solve our public problems by taxing the rich.
Thomas Woods on where Sen. Paul is right and the talk show host and his audience are wrong. Some examples:
Rand correctly noted that the top 1% of income tax earners pay one-third of all the income taxes, with the top 50% paying 96%.  So the "rich" are already paying plenty.  Letterman's response? There must be something wrong with those numbers, he said to applause from the audience.  So the audience is in effect saying, "We also refuse to believe those numbers!"  But those numbers are correct....
Rand explains, again correctly, that spending more money on education has not improved educational outcomes.  Letterman's response?  Well, education is important, so we've got to try something -- how about spending more money?  But by the time of George W. Bush's term, per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, had already doubled since LBJ....
Letterman wonders why we can't just loot the "rich" some more.  Well, if we'd like to make still more firms leave the U.S., that'd be a good start.  Want to strangle the growth on which everyone's welfare depends?  By all means pursue this strategy....
Rand points out, correctly, that the compensation package for Wisconsin teachers is extremely attractive, amounting to over $80K annually.  Letterman, to general applause, says that figure should be doubled.  Isn't education important?  This is the level of reasoning people appear comfortable with.  On Big Rock Candy Mountain there's a giant pile of cash overlooked by the governor and the rest of us. Don't worry that the pension systems are going to bankrupt the states -- that's nothing a doubling of teacher salaries won't solve.


  1. David Letterman is a humorist that is not funny. He is a pundit that that has no grasp on facts. Letterman is an Un-lettered twit. Yet, people watch him. Why?

  2. Secretary Tim Geithner isn't worried:

    “The economy is in a much stronger position to handle” rising oil prices, Geithner said today during a Bloomberg Breakfast in Washington. “Central banks have a lot of experience in managing these things.”

    But he probably should be:

    Analysts at Morgan Stanley say sharp increases in oil prices pose the biggest threat to growth because consumers suffer a sudden hit to purchasing power. They note a 85 percent to 90 percent increase in the price of oil over a year was followed by U.S. recessions in 1975, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2008.


  3. The reality is sinking ...

    A revolution far from over

    Saturday's army crackdown in Cairo's Tahrir Square highlights deepening tension between protesters and army.

    Contacts I met in Cairo earlier this month, a few of them still camped out in Tahrir Square, said the Egyptian military was using force to expel protesters from downtown Cairo.

    Protesters had gathered on Friday, the two-week anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's ouster, to remind the country's military junta that they want real democratic reforms.

    Witnesses in the square said soldiers, many wearing masks and wielding cattle prods or automatic weapons, forced everyone to leave. A number of people - it is not clear how many - were injured and arrested during the onslaught.

    The crackdown highlighted a tension that is likely to worsen in the months leading up to scheduled elections in September. Many protesters do not trust the military, and say they will continue agitating for political and economic reforms; but the military's patience with demonstrations seems to be wearing thin.

  4. From the AP wire:

    CAIRO — Egyptian military police beat protesters Saturday to clear them from outside the Cabinet office where they were trying to camp out overnight to press demands for sweeping political reforms and the dismissal of remnants of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

    The clash signaled a tougher line from Egypt's military rulers, who had avoided violently confronting anti-government protesters in the streets while promising to meet their demands for democratic reform and return the country to civilian rule.

    The protest movement, however, is growing impatient, and tens of thousands rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square throughout the day on Friday to keep up the pressure and, in particular, to demand the dismissal of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak.

    About 150 protesters tried to spend the night outside the Cabinet office near Tahrir Square.

    After midnight, when a curfew goes into effect, military police moved in to clear them away and beat protesters, some of whom tried to resist, according to Shady Ghazali, a leading youth activist who said he witnessed the clash.

    There was no revolution, there was a coup.

    The old General out -
    A new General in.

    Obama style "Change".

  5. Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    BAGHDAD - Tens of thousands of Iraqis surged into the streets Friday in at least a dozen demonstrations across the country, storming provincial buildings, forcing local officials to resign, freeing prisoners and otherwise demanding more from a government they only recently had a chance to elect.

    At least 23 protesters were killed as Iraqis braved security forces to vent shared frustrations at the nearest government official. Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians, they shouted for simple dignities made more urgent by war - adequate electricity, clean water, a decent hospital, a fair shot at a job.

    "I have demands!"
    Salma Mikahil, 48, cried out in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, as military helicopters and snipers looked down on thousands of people bearing handmade signs and olive branches signifying peace. "I want to see if Maliki can accept that I live on this," Mikahil said as he waved a 1,000-dinar note, worth less than a dollar, toward Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's offices. "I want to see if his conscience accepts it."

    The protests - billed as Iraq's "Day of Rage" -

  6. DR, you are not impressed with our trillion dollar investment in Irabia, all for the pleasure of buying their oil?

    It seems to me all sorts of US debt will be sold in a hurry, all across the Middle East, to fund just about everything for the people.

  7. The top 1% of income tax earners pay one-third of all the income taxes.

    The top 50% paying 96%.

    So the "rich" are already paying plenty.

  8. The money spent in Arabia was grossly misallocated, from a US national interest viewpoint.

    That perspective is one not shared by the Boner elites and the profiteers in the Military & Industrial Complex.

    The military takedown of Saddam was next to flawless. In and done, total regime collapse, in less than 60 days.

    The post-war reconstruction pfoject, total failure.

    The major regimes that are killing political protesters in the streets:
    Libya - Iran - Iraq

  9. How much is "enough" to continue on with the lifestyle afforded to those "rich", anon?

    The opportunity the system provides them, to excel beyond average, to soar with eagles, rather than live amongst turkeys.

    How much is enough to buy off the mob?

  10. Something is not quite right ...

    No military intervention required.

    Reuters -

    TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran confirmed on Saturday it was having to remove nuclear fuel from the reactor of its only nuclear power station, signaling more problems for the Russian-built Bushehr plant after decades of delay.

  11. "buy off the mob"

    as in pay up or face violence?
    Don't really worry about it bro.
    How's that Obama working out for you?


  12. What makes you think the nuclear problems didn't start with a software problem from some of those very tricky Israelis?

  13. .

    I like Ron Paul and Dave letterman is a dick.

    That being said, Ron Paul's 1% comment and the implications he draws are ones any student who has had Statistics 101 couldn't help but scoff at. It says nothing about the effective rate of taxes the "rich" are actually paying. It says nothing about the fact that if you're not making money you are supposedly not paying taxes. It says nothing about the fact that even if you are rich you might not be paying any taxes. It ignores the fact that many international companies pay nothing on their overseas operations. It says nothing about the fact that median wages have been flat for thirty years.

    Let's take the last fact and expand a bit. Over the last couple decades the disparity between "rich" and poor (or the middle class for that matter) has been growing exponentially with incomes of the "rich" growing at an expanding rate and that of the "super rich" expanding at an astounding rate.

    If median incomes have been flat even in the face of the rising incomes of the rich, the only assumption you can make is that the guys a the bottom are losing ground.

    This simple fact explains why the "rich' are paying more taxes. The only place that incomes are expanding is at the top end. There doesn't appear to be anything that will stop this trend in the foreeable future.

    And how bad has it been, or is it, for the "super-rich"? The Bush tax cuts were skewed heavily to the rich. Those have been extended. Obama talks about simplifying the tax code and doing away with loopholes. Does anyone really think that will happen? US tax code allows multinational corporations to sequester profits overseas in their foreign operations.

    Right now, the Federal Reserve is the biggest holder of US debt, bigger than that of China and Japan combined. And what are they doing with the money? They are handing it out to the big boys at zero percent interest. The "rich" would have to be extremely stupid not to be able to make huge profits in this environment. As Dire Straights would say "That ain't working..."

    And where is all this free money going? To corporations so they can invest overseas. To Wall Street so they can invest overseas.
    Currently, US corporations are sitting on trillions in profits unwilling to invest in jobs that would allow the poor suckers in this country to get a job and pay taxes.

    If you can't see what is obvious, you need to take a statistics class or read a newspaper. Or better yet ask yourself the question, "Would I rather be one of the 'oppressed' rich in this country or one of the growing army of unemployed or under-employed who enjoy the 'sweet life' milking the system?


  14. The U.S. mainstream media toe-to-toe follows the formulated guidelines of the White House and the Department of State for undermining the legitimacy of a number of independent states in the Middle East, including Iran, Syria and Lebanon, when it comes to Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, it chooses to remain silent.

    The Arab and Muslim nations in a short span of time, less than a month proved that for self-governance and real democracy – and not just corporate money-dictated elections – they have no need for a bully like George W. Bush at the head of a group of militarists from Texas and Zionist thieves from Brooklyn, New York to come down seven thousand miles to force the sword of "democracy and civility" down their throat, using bullets, depleted uranium, bombs, drones and the terrorists of Black Water Xe.

  15. It says nothing about the effective rate of taxes the "rich" are actually paying.

    Forget about effective tax rates.

    How much money should the Feds be allowed to extort from any individual? That is the question we should be asking. As I see it, we've gotten so screwed up in this country that we figure "let him with the means pay the freight for those who do not." In other words, it's sounds eerily like, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

  16. Oh, George W. Bush, the man who called for all people to be free throughout the whirled, is a bully?...The people in Iraq didn't need him to liberate Iraq from Saddam? And exactly what do the "Zionist thieves" have to do with the totalitarians and the revolts?

  17. Q , in a thoughtful post, said:

    If median incomes have been flat even in the face of the rising incomes of the rich, the only assumption you can make is that the guys a the bottom are losing ground.

    And that fact alone could radicalize much of the former middle class that is slipping financially downward . We are in the third year of this slow growth recession and many people have been effectively stripped of their financial equity. Savers are subsidizing banks in two ways. The banks are getting away with interest rates around 1% while inflation of a broad base of non-real estate financial assets have grown over 50% in less than two years.

    The government continues non-legislative regulations that discourage hiring US workers. Gulf oil is an extreme example.

    The US govt guarantees deposits to banks allowing the bank to speculate on recovered real estate until inflation kicks in and they can then unload these assets without a loss.

    The Democrats are screaming about government workers and doing nothing for the people that produce non-financial assets and pay the taxes.

  18. Would I rather be one of the 'oppressed' rich in this country or one of the growing army of unemployed or under-employed who enjoy the 'sweet life' milking the system?

    Really, is that choice?

    The question will be, "How long will middle income earners struggle to maintain 'credit inflated' lifestyles? How many people will conclude that life could be "sweeter" on the dole? How long before we're a nation of underachievers with little or no middle class? How long with the "rich" tolerate that?

  19. How much money should the Feds be allowed to extort from any individual? That is the question we should be asking. As I see it, we've gotten so screwed up in this country that we figure "let him with the means pay the freight for those who do not." In other words, it's sounds eerily like, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

    Spare me Whit.

    This used to be a country where if you worked hard you could expect that over time you would make progress just like everyone else.

    If we had a flat tax with no loopholes or exceptions your comment might make sense. What do you think the chances are of that?

    The current system is so skewed to the benefit of the rich that they have no risk. How can they help but make money. They get taxpayer dollars at zero interest for god's sake.

    Talking about socialism and communism as in some capitalistic idyll from fifty years ago? Laughable. In this country, it's become a zero-sum game and the rich are the winners.

    Tax policy, fiscal policy, monetary policy is all skewed to the advantage of the rich.

    Every ten years we get a bubble in this country. The poor smucks lose half their 401k's and it takes ten years to get back to even, just in time for another bubble to hit.

    What happens to the rich? They get bailed out. They get zero interest loans. They get subsidies. Within a couple years they are back to normal and flying higher than ever.

    And what do we get for it? Do they create more jobs?


    The meme you throw around about socialism has about the same relevance as the one about "We have to take care of businesses because they are the only ones that can create jobs."

    Yea, well how is that working out.

    If we truly believed the last one all of our subsidies would be going to Micky D's and Dominoes Pizza. They are the only ones actually hiring anyone.


  20. When Mickey Mantle was at the height of his career, he made about $50,000 and a skilled foreman made $5,000 a year, a 10:1 spread which seems right. Today that foreman can be making $50,000 and a ball player can be making $10,000,000 or 200:1. Ball players are not 20X better than they used to be, and foreman not that less skilled.

    That ball player by gaming the pre-gamed system can be paying a lower efective tax rate than the foreman. The tax system is a disgrace as is the government spoils system.

    Such inequities creates a system where people feel the only way to keep up is with governmenet handouts and vote on the left.

    It is a hot smoking pile of bullshit.

  21. .

    The question will be, "How long will middle income earners struggle to maintain 'credit inflated' lifestyles? How many people will conclude that life could be "sweeter" on the dole? How long before we're a nation of underachievers with little or no middle class? How long with the "rich" tolerate that?

    Jesus Whit.

    Fifteen or twenty years ago I used to believe all that shit.

    Time for a reality check. Try explaining your 'philosphy' to the guys who have worked 20 or 30 years busting their ass to get ahead and now find themeselves unemployed for the past two years and out of unemployment benefits. Tell the guy who was making $50k-$100k a year and got kids who want to go to college how you are afraid that over time he is going to get satisfied living on $400 per week and food stamps. Tell people that are losing their houses about your philosophy. Tell the 25-30 million that are unemployed or under-employed in this country that they get what they deserve because they are "underachievers".


    As for 'how long will the rich tolerate that'? They will tolerate it as long as they are being given money for nothing. They will tolerate it as long as they can get one more marginal dollar of profit. They will tolerate it until the tit is dry.


  22. "The devil guided my hand, probably a result of my ironic name."

    I have a sneaking suspicion that neither the devil nor God has anything to do with it.

    Which doesn't quite come as a relief, even to this skeptic.

    I know how I will look back on this past winter. I saw spring before it was here and all-in-all there are worse things than...

    Well, that's not true.

    There only seem to be worse things now because what I thought was the worst thing is over.

    That terrifying thing now seems like a piece of cake.

    Which it most definitely wasn't at the time.

    I appreciate EWTN's mention of exile and the abyss.

    And to think, I've never even bothered to contribute.

  23. There is nothing like a win to check a string of losses. Keep the faith Red, keep the faith.

  24. I think we better define who "the rich" are.

    I understand if you're referring to Wall Street Bankers or Government bailouts of Multinational Corporations.

  25. That terrifying thing now seems like a piece of cake.

    Tempered by the fire.

  26. Did anyone tell you that life would be fair?

  27. And it can be funny simply because it's today.

    I mean, some days are meant for mirth. For laughter.

    That's a good thing.

    Then there are other days. Not only not meant for laughter, but when the dragon wins.

    We get our asses kicked.

  28. taxpayers with an AGI of $159,619 or more in 2008 constituted the nation's top 5 percent of income earners.


    to break into the top 1 percent, a tax return had to have an AGI of....

    $380, 354

    "As for 'how long will the rich tolerate that'? They will tolerate it as long as they are being given money for nothing. "

    money for nothing... no wonder you have so much time to blog


  30. There is no fair in this lifetime. Oftentimes we have no explanation of why miser befalls us, our loved ones or anyone else for that matter. Well, the Bible explains generally why things happen but at times, when we are suffering, we're like Job. Clueless.

    Sometimes, if we're circumspect in hindsight, we get answers.

  31. .

    You pick which 'rich' you want to talk about Whit and I will be glad to debate.

    I started out talking about 'lying with statistics'.

    I then proceeded to knock people who throw around 'sound bite' bullshit about socialism and capitalism as if we actually had a system in this country that was either.

    Then I took a swipe at people who are sitting around retired or with a good job that take swipes at the 25-30 million people in this country (and that's just the workers not their families) who are currently seeing their life's savings wiped out while profits for the rich (anyway you want to define them) are growing exponentially.

    I took a swipe at people who assert those 25-30 million are 'underachievers' who are living it up milking the system.

    I took a swipe at the guys who assert the only way we can get more jobs is to continue to cut taxes and increase subsidies to businesses. We've seen over the past two years that that doesn't work. All the tax cuts and subsidies have done is pad the profits of those business. They are sitting on trillions.

    Most businesses are there to maximize profit not to promote social welfare.

    And finally I too a swipe at the useful tools that promote the meme that the 'rich' are going to leave this country in a mass exodus because they are so put upon. The only time you will see a mass exodus of the rich from this country is after it has been sucked dry.


  32. "There is no fair in this lifetime."

    Then maybe what we ought to be doing is working out 'fair' in this lifetime.

    Look, if there's little we can ultimately do, maybe we ought to be seeking 'fair'. In this lifetime.

    And in somewhat the opposite way that Bob's goo drips on us, fair can, too.

    In the fullest meaning of fair.

  33. I am not going to get into a back and forth with you, Q. I will say that you have drawn your own conclusions about what I wrote. Some of which are not what I meant such as inferring that I was calling the currently unemployed "underachievers." Rather I was thinking of the situation in Britain where so many people were on the dole. I was also thinking about middle income earners becoming so squeezed that they would elect to drop out and get the hand outs.

  34. Yes, Trish, that's exactly what we should try to do. It begins with us, individually but becomes a sticky wicket collectively.

  35. I need some comma intervention.

  36. Of course, I always like to think of myself as NOT on the receiving end of justice, divine or otherwise.

    I like to think of myself as always a righteous complainant.

    Violet is the color of penetance.

    Not necessarily the color of royalty.

  37. .

    taxpayers with an AGI of $159,619 or more in 2008 constituted the nation's top 5 percent of income earners.


    to break into the top 1 percent, a tax return had to have an AGI of....

    $380, 354

    The numbers cited are the low end of the ranges therefore the 5% can go up to $380k and the 1% can go up to what some would call big bucks. It also only talks about AGI which ignores the tax break issue.

    The average tax rate paid by the top 1% is 23.47%. The average rate for the top 5% is 20.70%

    Let me know when that mass exodus of the rich begins and I'll revisit my thoughts on the subject.


  38. "...a sticky wicket collectively."

    : )

    The nicest thing, really, about going to church last Sunday was the sound of the tower bells when we were all were assembled inside.

    The second nicest thing was the pastors walking up the aisle after the service. Wearing their vestments, like a uniform.

    It really astounds me, the very idea of being in charge of souls. Of the spiritual life of other human beings.

  39. I am a sucker for ritual.

    And for authority.

  40. It's okay to capitalize a sentence, you know.

    I will NEVER put bacon in waffles.

  41. "Why not think of yourself as collateral damage?"

    Because I don't think that any of us should think of ourselves as collateral damage.

  42. Alexander Tytler:

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

  43. She blows the ash off her keyboard.

  44. I don't know what any of you are looking for.

  45. Have you examined the possibility of possibly nothing?

  46. Blue, it shows up in some odd way in C. S. Lewis. Or Chesterton. Not to mention online.

    And then I think, Holy cow, I'm just here all alone.

    And why should that be?

  47. Pardon me while I go to a Viet restaurant in Chinatown for some Pho Ga (chicken soup), and a grilled redfish fish in Banana leaves.

    Pa being a state liquor controlled monopoly, I will be forced to bring my own beer.

    Can't get into Vietnamese food with wine. if you figure anything out in my absence, feel free to share.

  48. I will continue to examine it over dinner.

  49. It would be interesting to speculate with a few of you over dinner, unfortunately not tonight.

  50. I have conversations with people who aren't entirely themselves.

    I take that for granted.

    And I don't know why.

    I should be going insane and I don't know why I'm not.

    I don't think that you know what's going on.

    That doesn't comfort me either.

  51. "I don't think that you know what's going on."

    I think you may know a lot more than me. I think that may go without saying.

    I don't think you know everything.

  52. “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government..."

    Which is a really awesome thing to remark when what we have is a very neat depotism.

    And that's okay.

  53. Evil let loose:

    Four dead bodies with their heads severed have been dumped in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, close to the border with the US, police say.

    Gunmen laid the decapitated bodies out on a sheet in a central square in full view of horrified pedestrians.

    On the sheet was a written message from the Gulf drugs cartel to a rival gang.

    Beheadings have become a feature of the violent struggle between Mexican drugs gangs fighting for control of smuggling routes into the US.

    More than 34,600 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon began deploying the army to fight the cartels.

  54. Earlier this month Nuevo Laredo's police chief Manuel Farfan - a former army officer - was shot dead along with two of his bodyguards.

    Last June, a candidate for the governor of Tamaulipas, Rodolfo Torre Cantu, was killed on the campaign trail in an attack blamed on drug gangs.

  55. It is quite possible, Deuce, that the Israeli have infected the Iranian program.

    Good on them, if they did.

    The essential fact of the matter is clear...

    No overt military intervention was required.

    Not at all.

  56. Obama, E, is working out, for me, better than GW Bush did.

    We have recovered some of the losses caused by the Bush Team ineptitude at the SEC, HUD and lack of effective "jaw boning" of the Federal Reserve.

    Though the losses in real estate caused by the bush league quality, well, the total lack of effective oversight of Federally Chartered companies is legend.

    Since I've opted out of the personal income is paramount meme, my own lifestyle has much improved in the last two years.

    Whether that is to be credited to Mr Obama, Ayn Rand or myself, debatable.

    Who is John Galt?

  57. We've invaded Mexico twice, whit, to quell the violence.

    The annexation of those seven northern Mexican States, where all the industrial base has been developed, I can see it coming.

    57 States of the American Union.

    Before I die, or there about.

  58. Those seven new States fitting in perfectly with the other parts of Old Mexico that have been seamlessly integrated into the United States.
    California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas.

    Not to mention Florida, which was Spanish, not Mexican.

    The US will be forced to act, it has happened before.

    Circles and cycles.

    There is no where else for US to grow, but south.

  59. Yeah, if we went North Ash would talk us to death. :)

  60. Most of the wealthy pay about 17%, same as Warren Buffet. I doubt anyone here has had a year (well, not more than one, or two, anyway) when they paid that little in Federal taxes.

    Google pays about 2%, I believe, and Exxon Mobil pays none at all.

  61. Louisiana Sweet is selling for $115.00/bbl; as is Nigerian Bonny Light.

    Nigeria's awfully quiet, Kemo Sabe.

    Too quiet, Tonto.