Ser Scot A Ellison

Were Mao and Stalin Actually Socialists? (No True Scotsman)

202 posts in this topic

7 hours ago, felice said:

Returning the top marginal income tax rate to 90% would have zero effect on the overwhelming majority of people. While it wouldn't stop tax evasion, it would compensate for it somewhat, and at no risk whatsoever to everyone else.

France tried a 75% version of this and it did not work out. Unless you are very careful about how your laws are written, chances are that it would not work out elsewhere either because you are going after people who control every aspect of the system. Also keep in mind that if you did somehow manage to get it to have a non-trivial effect, the 1% has the means to retaliate. If it ever got that far (which is not plausible), they may, for example, deliberately tank the economy until it is repealed. Such taxes are only likely in circumstances such as the Great Depression and WWII, when there is a nontrivial chance that refusing to share will result in losing everything.

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1 hour ago, Altherion said:

Also keep in mind that if you did somehow manage to get it to have a non-trivial effect, the 1% has the means to retaliate. If it ever got that far (which is not plausible), they may, for example, deliberately tank the economy until it is repealed.

That sounds like treason to me; an excellent excuse to nationalise their businesses.

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Posted (edited)

Automation may, in places with more than two parties, give people a real incentive to vote for a leftist party. 

I just saw a squirrel.

What I don't get about taxes, is how people seem to forget that everyone pays them, that they will still make less than their neighbour and his ilk, only the difference will be more pronounced with lower taxes. I can see the moral argument, even though it's incredibly flawed since we can not impact what conditions we are born into, and the argument for taxes seems morally superior, but the idea that more money in the wallet will automatically make you richer misses the point that we are only rich compared to each other, so lowering the taxes will do nothing for your status.

Edited by Mikael

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18 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

I don't know about this. It would seem to me that the choice being presented here is between being the Soviet Union or something else and that would seem to be a very false choice.

Here in the United States, the Republican Party has always sold, "Vote for us, and the growth will be so awesome, that you won't even notice we busted up your unions and weakened your social safety nets."

Except it never pans out. Since the election of Harry Truman, Democratic Presidents have actually had about 1.8% percentage point advantage in economic growth as documented by Blinder and Watson. Now Blinder and Watson do point out that perhaps about 40-60% of this growth is due to "luck". But, surely this doesn't make the so called Party of Business look too good.

And since 2008, the policy advice of the Party O' Business has been utterly insane.

I think the choice that's being presented by Joe498 is much more radical than simply a choice between Democrats and Republicans (economically speaking, the differences between those two parties are pretty marginal).

The question is why would 70-80% of the population, in a typical Western democracy, tolerate a situation in which a very small proportion of the population are much richer than they are.  I think there could be quite rational grounds for them to do so.  We've reached a situation in which the typical Western democracy has an income per head of $20-60,000, which is enormous by any historical standard.  It's not irrational for the poorer members of such societies to decide they'd rather not gamble on radical economic change.

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14 hours ago, felice said:

Who said anything about people not being able to have their own stuff? Socialism is about not being able to have other people's stuff. You can still own your own house and books and clothes and so forth, anything for the use of yourself, friends, and family. You just can't have stuff to charge other people for the use of, like extra houses to rent out, factories, etc, which isn't at all relevant for most people. It's collective ownership of the means of production, not of personal property.

Some, possibly, but there are some people who believe pretty much anything. It's certainly not mainstream leftist thought. Individual liberty is really important to me, but it has to be liberty for everyone, not liberty proportional to how wealthy you are.

Automation is certainly going to have a big impact, but if most of the working class is no longer actually needed to work, their power is greatly reduced. Robots don't go on strike.

Democracy doesn't mean anything goes. Eg people should not be given a choice in the matter of murder being illegal under any system. And you can have democratic control over how the health system etc is run. Eg should extra resources be put towards cancer research or better food in hospitals? Should euthanasia be permitted, and if so, how should it be regulated? When healthcare is privatised, it's mostly free of democratic control, ie undemocratic.

More than half of the bottom 70-80% don't vote at all (in US presidential elections). A huge part of the problem is there's nobody worth voting for who actually stands for their interests, and it's effectively impossible for a party that represent their interests to grow into a real contender under the current system (without financial support from the 0.1% they don't have the resources to get their message out and look credible, and if they do get any significant voter support they just bleed votes away from the Democrats and guarantee Republican victory).

Does it make an impact on yours?

Returning the top marginal income tax rate to 90% would have zero effect on the overwhelming majority of people. While it wouldn't stop tax evasion, it would compensate for it somewhat, and at no risk whatsoever to everyone else.

If there was public demand for radical socialism in the USA, either one of the big parties would move in that direction, or a new party would emerge that won seats on the back of such a programme.  In much of the North East and West Coast, and in mega cities, one could safely vote for such a party without letting in the Republicans.  I don't actually think there is a very big demand for such a programme among US voters.

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19 hours ago, aceluby said:

They may enjoy it, but those people aren't in the 'middle class'; and for many to enjoy a 'middle class standard of living' (which is highly contentious as to what that actually means) they go into thousands of dollars of credit card debt.

That's not true of all Western countries.  In some of them, like Germany, Switzerland, or Holland, people tend to have very high savings.  

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Posted (edited)

Felice,

Quote

Democracy doesn't mean anything goes. Eg people should not be given a choice in the matter of murder being illegal under any system. And you can have democratic control over how the health system etc is run. Eg should extra resources be put towards cancer research or better food in hospitals? Should euthanasia be permitted, and if so, how should it be regulated? When healthcare is privatised, it's mostly free of democratic control, ie undemocratic.

 

Who, pray tell, will have the power to determine what may and may not be determined in a Democratic fashion?

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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8 hours ago, Altherion said:

France tried a 75% version of this and it did not work out. Unless you are very careful about how your laws are written, chances are that it would not work out elsewhere either because you are going after people who control every aspect of the system. Also keep in mind that if you did somehow manage to get it to have a non-trivial effect, the 1% has the means to retaliate. If it ever got that far (which is not plausible), they may, for example, deliberately tank the economy until it is repealed.

Absolutely. The 1% will do everything necessary to avoid paying any kind of contribution. Some of them say quite openly that they do not believe they have any kind of duty to the society they live in, to their country, or to other humans generally speaking. Sociologists Monique and Michel Pinçon studied these "super-rich" for about twenty years and published a number of books on them and their vision of society. The only conclusion one can draw from their studies is that the super-rich are waging a class war in its purest form, are quite open about it among themselves, and that this war is waged on all possible fronts, with the complicity of the politicians and the media.

And France is a sad example of their power. On paper the top bracket (above 152.000€ a year) pays 45%, but Piketty showed that it's actually far less (closer to 20%) thanks to various loopholes. In fact, Piketty also showed that people who earn more than 14.000€ a month pay less taxes than the middle-class which earns between 2000€ and 9000€ a month.
Maybe 75% was a tough sell. I personally think it's fair but going from 40% to 75% overnight seemed difficult. Hollande should have tried 50% or 60% first imho. But then maybe he did not wish to succeed...
The reason why it's a sad example of their power... In 1999 the highest bracket was taxed at a rate of 54% and that was above... 45.000€ *!* Going back a couple of extra decades you could find a tax rate of more than 60% for the highest bracket.
Hollande's failure to implement his 75% tax rate on the biggest earners ended up having great propaganda value for the super-rich who could pose as victims when in actuality they've been winning their class war since the 1970s at least.
 

7 hours ago, felice said:

That sounds like treason to me; an excellent excuse to nationalise their businesses.

And you quickly end up like Cuba or Venezuela. Or perhaps like Chile after 1973...

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52 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Who, pray tell, will have the power to determine what may and may not be determined in a Democratic fashion?

Who determines that today?

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7 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

Who determines that today?

The US Constitution determines much of that in the US.  Hence the supermajority and rather involved process created for amending the Constitution (ether via Congress or Constitutional Convention).  I suspect other Nation-State will have similar safeguards in place.  The only alternative is Revolution every time someone wants to promote political or economic change.  That's anarchy.

7 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

 

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32 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

The US Constitution determines much of that in the US.

So constitutional assemblies end up taking such decisions, right?
 

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22 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

So constitutional assemblies end up taking such decisions, right?
 

They can in the US, but, in 228 years the "Constitutional Convention" provision of Art. V of the US Constitution has yet to be used. It demands a call for such a convention by 2/3 of the legislatures (or conventions called for this purpose) of the existing States.  Then, to adopt any amendment proposed requires 3/4 of the State Legislatures (or State Conventions) to ratify any particular amendment.  

The process is deliberately difficult. 

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Posted (edited)

But hang on, you don't need to change the constitution every time you have a debate on how much ressources should be used by your public healthcare system and why... The constitutional assembly determines what exactly can be debated through the democratic process, and from then on it's politics as we know it (with the difference that a socialist state would be expected to have a somehow more democratic system of government).

Edited by Rippounet

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15 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

But hang on, you don't need to change the constitution every time you have a debate on how much ressources should be used by your public healthcare system and why... The constitutional assembly determines what exactly can be debated through the democratic process, and from then on it's politics as we know it (with the difference that a socialist state would be expected to have a somehow more democratic system of government).

It depends upon the context of the change and what the change proposed entailes.  No, not all will demand an amendment to the Constitution.  But big changes would.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Rippounet said:

Absolutely. The 1% will do everything necessary to avoid paying any kind of contribution. Some of them say quite openly that they do not believe they have any kind of duty to the society they live in, to their country, or to other humans generally speaking. Sociologists Monique and Michel Pinçon studied these "super-rich" for about twenty years and published a number of books on them and their vision of society. The only conclusion one can draw from their studies is that the super-rich are waging a class war in its purest form, are quite open about it among themselves, and that this war is waged on all possible fronts, with the complicity of the politicians and the media.

And France is a sad example of their power. On paper the top bracket (above 152.000€ a year) pays 45%, but Piketty showed that it's actually far less (closer to 20%) thanks to various loopholes. In fact, Piketty also showed that people who earn more than 14.000€ a month pay less taxes than the middle-class which earns between 2000€ and 9000€ a month.
Maybe 75% was a tough sell. I personally think it's fair but going from 40% to 75% overnight seemed difficult. Hollande should have tried 50% or 60% first imho. But then maybe he did not wish to succeed...
The reason why it's a sad example of their power... In 1999 the highest bracket was taxed at a rate of 54% and that was above... 45.000€ *!* Going back a couple of extra decades you could find a tax rate of more than 60% for the highest bracket.
Hollande's failure to implement his 75% tax rate on the biggest earners ended up having great propaganda value for the super-rich who could pose as victims when in actuality they've been winning their class war since the 1970s at least.
 

And you quickly end up like Cuba or Venezuela. Or perhaps like Chile after 1973...

France's level of income inequality today is pretty much the same as it was in the 1970's, and the 1940's as well for that matter, after you take into account the effect of taxation. Here it is from Piketty's own database, under "Fiscal income". http://wid.world/country/france/

It is mainly the Anglo-Saxon countries that have experienced spiraling levels of income inequality since the 1980's. 

Here: http://wid.world/country/usa/

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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9 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

France's level of income inequality today is pretty much the same as it was in the 1970's, and the 1940's as well for that matter, after you take into account the effect of taxation. Here it is from Piketty's own database, under "Fiscal income". http://wid.world/country/france/

It is mainly the Anglo-Saxon countries that have experienced spiraling levels of income inequality since the 1980's. 

Here: http://wid.world/country/usa/

True that, but wealth isn't about income alone, as Piketty's work shows.
This is the evolution of private capital in Germany, France and the UK:
http://annotations.blog.free.fr/public/Piketty__rapport_capital_sur_revenu_en_Europe__graphique.png

I guess what you point out is that income isn't necessarily what should be taxed heavily. Eh... True again. But it's still part of the overall problem.

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11 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

True that, but wealth isn't about income alone, as Piketty's work shows.
This is the evolution of private capital in Germany, France and the UK:
http://annotations.blog.free.fr/public/Piketty__rapport_capital_sur_revenu_en_Europe__graphique.png

I guess what you point out is that income isn't necessarily what should be taxed heavily. Eh... True again. But it's still part of the overall problem.

No, although capital in general is mostly (though not only, no) valuable for the income streams it can generate. 

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20 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

No, although capital in general is mostly (though not only, no) valuable for the income streams it can generate. 

That can then be turned (directly or indirectly) into more capital...
For a time, I also believed that income inequality was not a/the real problem and that an optimal taxation of capital should suffice. But the more I've read the more I've come to the conclusion that the two are inextricably linked and that taxing capital does have some adverse effects.
I will wholeheartly agree that income inequality is less of a problem in many developed societies than one might think at a glance but I don't see how you can claim the two aren't linked and thus that income inequality mustn't be limited. If there's some theory or data behind your view, I'd be curious to know about them.

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Posted (edited)

15 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

That can then be turned (directly or indirectly) into more capital...
For a time, I also believed that income inequality was not a/the real problem and that an optimal taxation of capital should suffice. But the more I've read the more I've come to the conclusion that the two are inextricably linked and that taxing capital does have some adverse effects.
I will wholeheartly agree that income inequality is less of a problem in many developed societies than one might think at a glance but I don't see how you can claim the two aren't linked and thus that income inequality mustn't be limited. If there's some theory or data behind your view, I'd be curious to know about them.

Capital gains is a form of income and should be included in the graphs above. 

I would not say that income inequality isn't a problem either. Rather that the increase in said inequality is a bit overblown when talking about most Western European countries.

In the USA it is a different story, however. The Americans have indeed experienced a very large increase of it during the last 40 years, which is visible in Piketty's data. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Rippounet said:

That can then be turned (directly or indirectly) into more capital...
For a time, I also believed that income inequality was not a/the real problem and that an optimal taxation of capital should suffice. But the more I've read the more I've come to the conclusion that the two are inextricably linked and that taxing capital does have some adverse effects.
I will wholeheartly agree that income inequality is less of a problem in many developed societies than one might think at a glance but I don't see how you can claim the two aren't linked and thus that income inequality mustn't be limited. If there's some theory or data behind your view, I'd be curious to know about them.

Another thing, if you want to read about how income inequality isn't necessarily bad (depending on how it is structured), then this paper by Sarah Voitchovsky is pretty interesting, and was part of the course literature at my university. http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/pub/faculty/lloyd-ellis/econ835/conf07/zhao.pdf 

It basically posits that income inequality among the wealthier segments of society is not necessarily negative, but can actually be good for stimulating economic growth, whereas the problems are more serious if the poorest segments of society end up getting very little of the overall share. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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