Class warfare or simple societal obligation?

One of the more interesting aspects of the recent GOP presidential debates has been the astounding exhortation of extreme individualism, the notion that every person is in it for him or herself, and that government should not provide any sort of safety net or assistance to those in need (there is another debate tonight in Florida sponsored by Fox News and Google) . From Social Security to healthcare to workers' rights to taxes, most of the Republican field eschews any affirmation of policies and programs that benefit public welfare. Anything the government does that may assist individuals is deemed socialist and un-American.

As the economy continues to stutter, the narrative of extreme individualism has become dominant, and talk of commonweal is sidelined. Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic notes that even Democrats try to frame their debate around raising taxes not in terms of something good for the whole, but as a mathematical equation:

These days, when you hear Democrats defend proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, usually they argue about the numbers. We need more revenue in order to maintain vital government services, those who can afford to pay more should pay more, etc. And that’s fine as far as it goes.

This idea that every person is in it for him or herself should offend, or at least concern, Catholic sensibilities. The history of Catholic social teaching offers an abundance of resources about the need to develop societies that care for the least among us. While the church does not necessarily endorse any one way of doing this over another, its teaching is clear: we are all in this together.


With both the current political climate and background of Catholic teaching in mind, the video below of Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the US Senate from Massachusetts running for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Scott Brown, is refreshing. Warren offers an impassioned defense of progressive taxation, reminding her audience that individual human beings are intricately connected to one another in a society, and as such, that we have certain obligations to one another:

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6 years 8 months ago
This is just getting tired and old.

I'd like to hear what Professor Warren has to say about the sordid Solyndra affair.  Indeed that shows that in foolish government spending we are an interconnected society...well except for the well-connected political fundraisers who get their money out first before the taxpayers.  So is it possible to hold the view that wasteful government attempts at playing venture capitalist also harms the "commonweal?"   Or is my view just anti-Catholic "extreme individualism"?

America - I beg you to get some alternative voices blogging for you!
ed gleason
6 years 8 months ago
John, You and the GOP [especially Perry]are obsessed with printing money, currency. "just print the money we need for every government purchase and 'transfer'
I'm well off and only have about 100 bucks on hand. The rest of my wealth exists as data bits in accounts.and so does the rest of the US wealth..  And I don't need any wealth transfers, I only want the  GOP hogs to pay their fare share.. not 15% and not the  zero that all GOP candidates have as their goal.  
"Engage the debate Ed. Think"..... like I need your rants?..
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
The current brand of market populism is a form of good old American hucksterism. It's difficult to debate the first principles behind it because, quite honestly, there aren't any.

"Is it possible that we could become citizens again and together seek the common good in the post-industrial, post-modern age?"


C Walter Mattingly
6 years 8 months ago
It's an old story that we learn over and over again.
When Jamestown was founded in its poor location, some of the self-proclaimed "gentlemen" refused to work. Soon the shelter was not getting built nor the crops planted and tended. Then Captain Smith stepped in and proclaimed, you don't work six hours a day, no food. Lo and behold, the shelter made progress and the colonists got fed. A decade or two back, Bill Clinton ended "welfare as we know it," and lo and behold, over 5 million went from the dole mostly to the workplace, paying taxes rather than drawing welfare, and the deficit improved. The same anew.
I have a different take on the evidence and reason Obama and democrats are playing class warfare. Of the estimated $4 trillion revenue lost over a decade to the Bush/Obama tax cuts unadjusted for supply side effects the CBO estimated, the proposed lifting for the very wealthy 2% would return $700 billion, or less than a fifth of the monies lost. Removing those tax cuts for the upper middle class, those making about $85K and up annually, who are some of the highest income earners in the world, would recover $2.65 trillion, or 2/3 of the lost revenue. Solving less than a fifth of the problem is hardly substantially addressing it, but the problem is there are too many democratic federal and union workers in the upper middle class and would not get the class envy votes. And that's Obama for you-what gets me votes, not what solves the country's deficit problem. 
It's a shame President Obama missed his moment and trashed the recommendations of his own commission. It was his moment to step forward and lead. He declined. 
ed gleason
6 years 8 months ago
walter; "Removing those tax cuts for the upper middle class, those making about $85K'

so far off . what's left to argue about.?
6 years 8 months ago

I do not agree that the GOP believe in the ''invisible hand'' of the free market.  I think that the GOP and the Democratic party are guilty of believing in the ''invisible hand'' of the government.  The problem with this government hand is that it often is clenched like a fist.
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
"markets are about lending money and getting rewarded for taking the risk"

Sounds like gambling to me.  Okay for Vegas but not with retirement and kid's college funds. Sorry.
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 8 months ago
"sordid Solyndra"?
Bet they wish they were sordid Halliburton. 
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 8 months ago
Following WW II, there was a big technological boom based on technologies developed during the war.  Microwave, jet engines, electronics, radar.  Some of this technology is still being transitioned to the commercial market.  What else was this but a burst of government investment in a multitude of technologies, some successful, some not?  And some of it was investment by the Nazi government in R&D.  Then there was (and I mean was) the space program.  I am not sure how fruitful Reagan's goofy anti-ballistic missile program was in terms of spinoffs.  It DID create a lot of Ph.D.'s in photonics (the academic community always knows how to slurp up the bucks).  It would be an interesting study.  I can think of one spinoff.   Adaptive optics and accompanying algorithms wee originally developed to cancel out the distortion of high energy laser beams by the atmosphere.  Once unclassified, this became available for telescopes to see objects in space through the atmosphere with high resolution by canceling out the variations in the air path.  Closer to daily life, it is possible to look inside the living eye now while cancelling out the aberrations of the human eye.  The retina can be inspected to the cellular level.  The government is always promoting research and as is always the case,  a lot of these efforts fail.  That's R&D.  The government's always been a player in technological progress an therefore economic progress, not the only one, but a huge one.
6 years 8 months ago
A couple comments:

First, Mr. O'laughlin offers his all too frequent distortion of what is happening and then decries the straw man he presents.  What a churlish way to denigrate what you do not like.

''astounding exhortation of extreme individualism, the notion that every person is in it for him or herself, and that government should not provide any sort of safety net or assistance to those in need''

Who is saying that?  The objective is to eliminate the need for a safety net for everyone and that is a noble objective, but no one is saying there should not be any safety net or that everyone is in it for him or herself.  Just one non sequitur after the other.

Second, Elizabeth Warren is a colossal hypocrite and demonstrates she does not understand how the world works economically.  Yet she was put up by the current government to oversee most of our financial transactions when she over saw the implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  She now wants to take this hypocrisy and ignorance to the US Senate.  Well she won't be the first to have done so if she gets elected.  Most millionaires do not owe their good fortune to others, they help others make a better life for themselves by becoming millionaires.  In the process they help pay for the roads, education and security that we have.  It is  just the opposite  of what she is saying.  Government is mainly dependent on the millionaires, not millionaires dependent on the government.  This is not to say that government does not provides some useful services but the money to do so is coming mainly from the millionaires. She has it all backwards plus she is lying through her teeth on what she is saying.

The marauding bands are those who want to take what what the millionaires have developed and contributed little if nothing.  She should figure out how to make more millionaires by mainly getting the government out their way because they are the ones who pay the taxes for  the roads, education and protection.
Joshua DeCuir
6 years 8 months ago
One quick follow up point if I may: I certainly think that the problem of "extreme individualism" is present in BOTH political parties.  It certainly does come through in the economic libertarianism that now appears ascendant on the right, but it is equally at play in some of the policies on the left, particularly with respect to the "anything goes/I can't impose my narrow moral view on you" at play in some of the social issues. 

Finally, as a Republican, I see an equal danger at play on the left in the form of a false collectivism that would, in the name of social justice, condemn poor children to failing public schools in order to protect teachers' unions, or that, in the name of workers' rights, would allow political corruption and influence peddling to massive public unions that wrest financially unstable benefits from state and municipal governments.  But again, to read some of these blog posts, you would never know that, as anyone who has an alternative conception of achieving the common good is quickly dismissed as "anti-worker" or "anti-social justice."
Joshua DeCuir
6 years 8 months ago
For those interested in a rebuttal/critique of Warren's POV from a NON-individualist/libertarian POV, I'd suggest reading this entire column from Reihan Salam.  Here's his conclusion (please note in particular the part I've highlighted, as  I think it represents the crux):

"So when Elizabeth Warren allows the owner of a factory to keep a big hunk of what she earned, what exactly does she intend to do with the hunk that she has taken as part of the social contract? Will she spend it wisely? I’d submit that this actually isn’t an irrelevant question. We can accept the premise that there is such a thing as a social contract and that we should all do our part for the cooperative venture that is a civilized society. Yet should we then suspend judgment about what is done with Elizabeth Warren’s hunk, or can we take the view that the state is also a party to this social contract and that the state hasn’t been doing its part and that a great deal of evidence suggests that simply giving the state a bigger hunk of whatever we happen to earn in the course of freely and voluntarily cooperating with each other isn’t actually the best or the smartest way to get the state to do its work well?  
I think that we should care about the next kid to come along. We should care about her a lot. Here’s the thing: there is someone between the rest of us and that kid. There’s a big machine that somehow takes tax money in one end and imparts various public services at the other end. When we pump money into the box that gives us most consumer products, we get a pretty decent product on the other end, for all kinds of reasons. When we pump tax dollars into the box that is most governments in the United States, I’d argue that we actually don’t get a very good product at all. This is why it helps to look at the guts of the machine, and to see what is working well and what does not."
ed gleason
6 years 8 months ago
What causes me to laugh is how the conservatives posting here continually condemn America Mag. for 'allowing' and paying contributors to  blog and only because they are blogging from a progressive prospective.
 "it continually disappoints me to see America give "official" space to bloggers"..."their own blog writers to the detriment of America’s desire for its blog to be taken seriously?'...."America - I beg you to get some alternative voices blogging for you!'
Some of you guys cannot write a para. without some sentence implying America Magazine and it's bloggers have no right to publish what they want. What don't you know about the first amendment? If you're so enchanted with free enterprise start up another of the million or so Catholic conservative websites. Better yet get one of their jobs deleting any comments they don't agree with. must be a million jobs out there censoring  at least.   

6 years 8 months ago
''Some of you guys cannot write a para. without some sentence implying America Magazine and it's bloggers have no right to publish what they want. What don't you know about the first amendment? ''

I think a lot of those who object to what is published on this site by the authors, do so because it is a perversion of the Jesuits educational philosophy under which they were taught.  That is why I do so.  They taught me and my classmates to seek a variety of opinions and base our conclusions on logic and fact not emotion or specious reasoning or one's political affiliation.  That premise is violated consistently by authors here.  This particular post is a prime example.

The first amendment has nothing to do with it.   However, everything here is posted under the auspices of the Jesuits and as such much is an embarrassment to what was once the greatest voice of logic and influence in the Catholic world.  Instead of enlightening, many of the authors here have become political shills.  Instead of encouraging dialogue and with that a better understanding of the issues, we frequently get from the authors and other commenters that those who disagree should limit what they say or go elsewhere.  An incredible attitude for a Jesuit site.
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
Does taxing the rich work?  John L. wants proof!

Start with University of Massachusetts economist Nancy Folbre clear and concise explanation with historical context: I'm not certain a Catholic news weekly is the forum for a tutorial on this but I'd love to analyze this issue further.

Since we're on the subject of evidence I wonder if John might provide some of his own to support his claims.  As he so graciously lectured us in #3: "Engage the debate. Think. Define your terms."

6 years 8 months ago
''University of Massachusetts economist Nancy Folbre clear and concise explanation ''
This article provides no rationale for raising taxes on the rich other than public opinion and that the rates were once higher.  She also distorts what happened during the Clinton era where tax rates were actually lowered in 1997 and fails to note that this led to an increased collection in taxes at the end of the 1990's before the internet bubble exploded and then collapsed in 2000.  

If Dr. Folbre were an honest person she would have analyzed the cause for the increased revenues and constrained spending during this time.  She also distorts the budget process and was not accurate on what happens to budgets items such as Head Start.  But she doesn't do any of this which automatically disqualifies her as one who should be referenced on the effect of various tax rates, budgets or probably anything.  But she is typical of what the NY Times does.

The argument over taxing the rich has more than one objection.  First, it is accepted that it would curtail economic activity when it is needed the most during a recession and thus reduce jobs.  Second, if it did happen to increase long term revenue, which is very suspect, it would ease the pressure to do the right thing.  It is like giving a spendthrift relative a loan and saying you really should cut back on your extravagance when you know the money would be blown in short time and never repaid.  We have Solyndra as an example of what happens when you give money to favored ones and how fast it can be blown.

Here is a point of view on raising the taxes on the rich by a current well known politician.
Vince Killoran
6 years 7 months ago
I'm not certain AMERICA is trying to demonize anyone-I do think that it leans liberal and that really bugs conservatives. They cannot accept this perspective.  I wodner if they visit conservative Catholic sites and rail agains them for their general outlook. . .?

I do think that the editors should re-think the practice of publishing entries on political news, at least those with little theological perspective.  I do applaud their open discussion format (notwithstanding Cosgroves insistance that he is being silenced!).  The whole "cult of balance" approach is just a way of insisting on equal space for one's own particular views.
Vince Killoran
6 years 7 months ago
"I do make comments (sometimes critical) of those posts"

But do you demand that they provide "equal time" for "the other side?" If so, please provide some examples.

The problem isn't a conservative critiquing a piece that appears liberal blog (or vice-versa)-it's questioning of the very legitimacy of IAT because it leans liberal. I visit FIRST THINGS et al. and I find that they monitor their comments section more closely(some, not all)and they rarely if ever publish non-conservative bloggers. Perhaps I should fill up the comments section with rote denunciation of their choice of bloggers and why good liberals can't contribute.  After a diet of this-and some name-calling-the quality of discussion declines. 
ed gleason
6 years 8 months ago
" This idea that every person is in it for him or herself'
 that may be the GOP mantra but the recent huge increase, almost a million enrolled of the college age young, to age 26,  in their parents health care, that Obamacare gave them, shows us that GOP rhetoric stops just short of where  self interest begins.
Say hello to farm subsidies, bank and student loans, capital gains and dividends @15% "we love the deals that the evil government gives us but
It's those welfare queens in the Ghetto that are driving up the deficit.'
6 years 8 months ago
For the love of your own families, please liberals, engage us in a debate!

Where does wealth come from? Government or the private enterprise of individuals?

You do know that capitalism is a system of commerce that presupposes some sort of rule of law and law enforcement while socialism is a theory of government that presupposes that wealth is a useful fiction of fiat currency minted by that sovereign state and does not reflect objective realities (goods, services...) right?

If your liberal theories of government and commerce (and wealth) were correct and poverty is caused by private enterprise greed and wealth is created by government fiat and poverty eliminated by government wealth transfers (which assumes private capitalists are greedy whereas government bureaucrats are saintly and generous) - and that if only those greedy capitalists would get with the program.... how do you explain the real-world experience of the USSR's collapse, the length of the Great Depression, and the localized experience of California, New Jersey, Illinois, and places like Detroit?

If your theory of how things are doesn't match reality on the ground (or in history!) why not be open minded enough to ponder alternatives rather than double down?

If I'm right then all those millions of Americans (and others) whose entire existence is utterly dependent on benevolent Government wealth transfers are about to be crushed - not because I'm greedy, but because the government has made promises it cannot keep because there's not enough wealth in the world to pay the IOUs.

If you're right, and wealth is money created by fiat and not created by the private sector.... why do we need to have taxes at all?

How can it possibly be the case that government monopolies and inter-generational wealth transfer payments, ever more regulatory burden and micro-managing via rules, codes, and subsidies result in the squalor and decay evident wherever liberals have ruled uncontested for decades? Unless their theories of wealth and currency, commerce and human nature are wrong?

Engage the debate Ed. Think. Define your terms. Show me where government creates wealth (not merely the conditions underwhich it can flourish such as patent laws, safety on the high seas and high-ways....). Before the DOD paid for that Aircraft carrier which does have intrinsic value.... money was taxed from the private sector to begin with! Before Obama and Congress spent $800 billion in borrowed stimulus on 'shovel ready jobs'.... that money had to be lent (at interest) from someone (a lot of someones...). 

If wealth is money, currency, then we could reduce taxes to zero and just print the money we need for every government purchase and 'transfer'! But it's not. Money is a means of tender for goods and services (wealth), not wealth itself. Those goods and services still need to be created.

You are asking for 100 million Americans or more to receive via money the wealth of other Americans (and Chinese and 3rd world serfs) created before government taxed it from them. You act as though these wealth creators owe you and the 100 million everything and you who enjoy it owe them nothing but scorn in return.

You act as though you are the Lords and they are the serfs, working the fields and kept alive only out of your benevolence. 
6 years 8 months ago
For those interested, here's a critique of Pres. Obama's tax proposals from a notorious right-wing source: The Atlantic's Megan McArdle.

I guess it's for all of us extreme individualists out there.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 8 months ago
The wealth of a nation is in its land - its water, its soil, its minerals - and its peoples - their labors, their gifts and talents.  When each can give according to his ability, and receive according to her need, everyone is wealthy.

The question "where does wealth come from, the government or private enterprise, makes little sense to me.  In order to actualize the wealth that we already possess, both goverment and private enterprise must be working together, in tandem.  One cannot exist without the other.

This idea that an enterprise could even exist without the wealth of the land or her peoples is preposterous.
Pope John XXXIII says that one of the functions of government is to distribute the wealth of a nation.   When making money becomes the goal - making money for the sake of making money - the whole system becomes monstrous.  Read John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath.

The goal of many companies today is to make money for stock-holders and the already very rich, not for the common good.  Workers are hired for the lowest possible wage in the interest of "profit".  Yet Republicans don't want to regulate and keep saying no government interference.  Good grief. 

Elizabeth Warren has the gift of being able to articulate clearly and simply the outrage of what is going on, in a way that the common person can understand and affirm.  In her cutting through great tangled knots of lies, she is a modern day prophet.

Like Ed, I'm tired of the "debates".
ed gleason
6 years 8 months ago
The GOP/TP believes in the 'invisible hand' of economic laws. However they  don't believe in the visible hand of evolution, global warming, government regulation or any visible restraint on greed. If we lose to these guys we deserve what happens.  
ed gleason
6 years 8 months ago
Joe K. you win the rhetorical grand prize. " the government hand is often clenched like a fist.'
Wow ...are federal agents after you too? next the black helicopters..
The GOP debating candidates tonite are all calling for no capital gains and no dividend taxes. The super rich like Romney have no wages to pay income taxes or SS taxes on. That's Buffet's point. Romney will pay nothing under the GOP plan. Nada. Nada.

6 years 8 months ago
They do point a gun at me with a threat of prison time if I don't give money to what they decide is charity.  That is a heavy hand indeed.

You may not think that a free market organizes itself without some central planning even though data and history show otherwise but why do you think that the "invisible hand" of government would do any better when data and history show it fails time and time again?
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
Just to add to Stanley's point, the government has long supported basic scientific research (e.g., NIH, universities).  I've met many researchers who live in fear that these funds wil go away and they'll be at the mercy of companies who will distort the science for the almighty dollar.
Michael Kelly
6 years 8 months ago
Re: “One of the more interesting aspects of the recent GOP presidential debates has been the astounding exhortation of extreme individualism, the notion that every person is in it for him or herself, and that government should not provide any sort of safety net or assistance to those in need (there is another debate tonight in Florida sponsored by Fox News and Google) . From Social Security to healthcare to workers' rights to taxes, most of the Republican field eschews any affirmation of policies and programs that benefit public welfare. Anything the government does that may assist individuals is deemed socialist and un-American.”
            This is abject nonsense.  Are there any adults among the editors at America who care that such distortions and strawman argumentation are advanced by one of their own blog writers to the detriment of America’s desire for its blog to be taken seriously?  Like many others I routinely peruse a fairly large number of articles and blogs in political and religious websites and as a conservative I am especially interested in what catholic liberal and liberal catholic writers are saying.  But reading blog posts such as this is akin to reading a comic book.   
C Walter Mattingly
6 years 8 months ago
@ Ed,
"'Removing the (Bush) tax cuts for the upper middle class, those making about $85K (and up)'
So far off. What's left to argue about?"
Statistical quiz.
1/ Americans making $85K a year are at about the 20th percentile of earners. That means they are A/ in the top quintile? B/ in the third quintile?  
2/ Those in the top quintile of income are A/ High earners? B/ middle earners? 
Hint: B is not the answer.
Political quiz
As doing away with the Bush tax cuts for those very high earners only recovers less than a fifth of the revenues lost to the tax cuts according to CBO estimates, while doing away with the tax cuts for those top quintile earners making $85K and up would recover 2/3rds of the lost revenues, what are the reasons democrats are not in favor of ending the Bush tax cuts for the top fifth, which would recover over 3 times the lost revenue than just those at the 200K level and up?
A/ Too many federal employees and union members have finagled their way into these income categories and they don't want to pay their "fair share" of taxes, or any taxes they can avoid. And they tend to vote democrat.
B/ They are more interested in stirring up envy and class warfare votes to continue to advance their economic interests at the expense of the general population than seriously addressing the deficit problem.
C/ Both of the above.
Now Ed, if you answered A and C respectively, you have aced the quiz and can proceed to Democratic Demagoguery 102. 
Joshua DeCuir
6 years 8 months ago
Just to back away from this individual post and its related comments for a second, I think exemplifies the biggest and consistent grumble I have with these politically-related posts.  It isn't that, as a fairly right-of-center America reader, that the blogers at IAT consistently and uniformly espouse left-of-center POVs, but it's that in doing so, the presentation of the other side is so consistently unfair, constricted, and, frankly at times, downright partisan, that it closes off any meaningful points of convergence that might bear fruitful dialogue.

Take this sentence from above for example:

"From Social Security to healthcare to workers' rights to taxes, most of the Republican field eschews any affirmation of policies and programs that benefit public welfare. Anything the government does that may assist individuals is deemed socialist and un-American."

Now that is a statement farily sweeping and totally unsubstantiated, and as a Republican it makes me feel defensive.  So even though I might be open to a comprehensive tax reform proposal (along the lines of the President's Bowles-Simpson commission that he has totally ignored and that can be the basis of bipartisan reforms that allows both parties to acheive their goals) that INCLUDES some marginal rate increases, I feel compelled to speak up and say "well not actually."  Then we get a lot of opposite comments that go to the other extreme, such as that private enterprise and the stock market equates to Las Vegas gambling (surely as ludicrous a statement as that Social Security amounts to a Ponzi scheme), or describing Elizabeth Warren (a very smart compassionate woman no doubt) as a "prophet" (hint: she's a politician).

I get that we're in a election season and that politicians (being politicians) say some of the darndest things, but it continually disappoints me to see America give "official" space to bloggers who eschew the opportunity to analyze in ways that BOTh sides can dialogue (as America proves so darned capable of doing for some many years) in favor of adopting the partisan mentaility of the herd and play along with some of the black-white silliness.

One can be opposed to Pres. Obama's economic policies for good reason (even Catholic reasons such as that wasteful government spending is harmful to the common good) and not exort to mere "extreme individualism."  One can point to his failure to lead on common sense moderate entitlement reforms (which THE major issue facing the country) and not simply be an anti-social justice hardhearted profit pig who could give 2 hoots about poor people.  But you would never know that reading some of these blogs.
6 years 8 months ago
Just curious Ed, but have you yet replied to any argument on this thread with a valid counter argument?

Is changing the subject, ad hominem, straw man, and red herring the only arrows in your quiver?

If we are wrong about economic theory, government theory, Catholic social doctrine, etc. then it ought to be trivially easy for you to quote us chapter and verse where we've gone off the rails.

If the US Treasury can just print money to pay for the US Government's bills....then why does it need to raise revenue via taxation in the first place?

On the other hand, if money is not itself wealth but only a medium of exchange and thus wealth needs to be created in the form of goods and services - which is what the private economy does.... then we are running into a crisis of not having enough wealth convertible into dollars to pay for all the IOUs made by politicians.

You have a set of proposals: tax the rich! spend even more! and we counter with mathematics and pointing out the folly of your approach. Now, if taxing the rich really works - or printing money - then show us Ed. Show us the history, show us the evidence.

Dialogue ed, engage the conversation. Show the thousands of lurkers to this site that liberal/progressives have intellectual firepower to spare.
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
In '09 Obama was pandering to the GOP hoping that they would be his friend. A fatal error by a centrist Democrat.

I wish you had read the piece carefully instead of calling Professor Folbre dishonest. Folbre actually provides proof of a number of things including the fact that high taxation in the 1950s-60s helped fuel the engine of growth and that high taxes do not results in millionaires fleeing. 

As for Clinton & the 1997 tax rate change Cosgrove is working off of a Heritage Foundation report that is mistaken on two counts: the '97 rates didn't go into effect into effect until a few quarters after the report claims (when you line up the quarters accurately the rate of growth was no more impressive than the '93-'97 period). Second, the economy added more new jobs in the first phase of the Clinton years than it did in the second phase that Heritage heralds. 

Since a couple of us are monopolizing the debate (again!) I'll back out with this question to you: Do you agree with Michael O'Loughlin's argument that "This idea that every person is in it for him or herself should offend, or at least concern, Catholic sensibilities. The history of Catholic social teaching offers an abundance of resources about the need to develop societies that care for the least among us"? 
6 years 8 months ago

''This idea that every person is in it for him or herself should offend, or at least concern, Catholic sensibilities. The history of Catholic social teaching offers an abundance of resources about the need to develop societies that care for the least among us''? ''
I have already answered this.  This is a straw man argument that does not describe anyone I know in the conservative area.  This does not describe Adam Smith or Hayek, two people that most conservatives respect and on whom they base their economic arguments.  So Mr. O'Laughlin is employing a specious and meaningless argument. What I don't understand is how he is able to get away with this by the editors on this blog.  I think the word ''shameless'' is appropriate.  It is actually the liberals who do not care for the poor.  All they seem to care about is getting their political philosophy implemented.  The poor be damned.
''Since a couple of us are monopolizing the debate (again!)''
This is the nonsense argument that the editors advance and apparently you too.  One person commenting and answering questions does not inhibit anyone from posting a comment.  There are too many examples where this does not happen.  It is actually just the opposite because many of the comments are in response to others and this is a way to learn something factual and other ways to think.  No one has to read any of the comments and as I said, often a comment is made as a dialogue between two or more persons.  Something that should be encouraged.  That it is discouraged is telling and just a means of attempted censorship.
''I wish you had read the piece carefully instead of calling Professor Folbre dishonest. ''
I did read Folbre's opinion piece carefully and saw nothing there and you have not brought up anything meaningful so I guess I was right.  I have no ideas which Heritage Foundation report you are talking about.  I have read a couple in the last 3-4 years but do not remember what they were about.  It is not something I am familiar with or a web site I go to very often but you apparently are aware of what they publish.  You tend to accuse others of reading or listening to things which they haven't but you seem to know their habits.  You then take this false reading or listening and suggest it is an automatic disqualification or something.  So I find it funny that you cite some study I am not  aware of as bogus to discredit what I said.  Interesting tactic.  Another example of using a strawman to make a point.
Dr. Folbre is basically dishonest or else she would have made a fair report. It is probably the only reason the NY Times would publish it.  Lowering tax rates has increased tax revenues several times.  One time was in 1997 when the capital gains taxes were lowered and much of the additional tax revenue was due to this and paid for mainly by the wealthy.  Also the 1970's were a period of high tax rates on the wealthy and little or no GDP growth with high inflation so I would not use this time to support the wonders of high tax rates.  It is why they coined the term stagflation to describe it.  Using the time after the war till the 1970's as example of how high tax rates work is really not valid since for a lot of that time we were the only country that was not affected by the ravages of World War II.  The high tax rates during the depression definitely stifled business expansion.
When Reagan lowered the tax rates in the early to mid 80's the economy took off with the rich paying more taxes even though they were being taxed less.  Same thing happened in 2003-2007 as well as the late 90's with the Bush and Clinton tax cuts.  Of course the late 90's had a lot of other things going for it that were temporary, peace dividend from cutting the military, rapid expansion of the stock markets from the dot com boom which fueled lots of income growth which fed into tax revenues, restraint by the Republican congress on Clinton programs, etc.  It was a situation that had to come to an end and it did in 2000.  Of course the housing expansion had begun in 1997 due to lax mortgage policies so this was starting to weave its way into the economy.
I am not philosophically against raising the tax rates.  I just think it counter productive especially with high unemployment.  Here are a couple references on the effect of different tax rates on tax revenues and the philosophy of taxing the rich:
The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence by Robert Samuelson -

Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
Except for some especially crude comments the editors have not deleted our comments. How on earth could you feel censored?! 

6 years 7 months ago
''How on earth could you feel censored?! ''

First, they have deleted some comments that were not to their liking and not because they were crude.  Less so in recent months because they have been called on it.  It is hard to document this because the comment is gone but it has happened more than once to me and I noticed with other commenters as well on occasion.  Second, they continue to try to limit comments under the guise that commenting will intimidate others from commenting.  That has been done several times mainly by two of the editors here and several of the liberal commenters. 

Let me point out how this particular post could lead to a long and fruitful dialogue and not contention.  Mr. O'Laughlin said

''astounding exhortation of extreme individualism, the notion that every person is in it for him or herself, and that government should not provide any sort of safety net or assistance to those in need'' 

This is a lie, distortion, mis representation of the conservative position, whatever you want to call it.  So why start with it?  Why do the editors allow it?  It will get people mad.  Why not start with a different approach, one based on truth but could get people here discussing a safety net, what is meant by it, how is it best provided, who should get it, for how long, how to pay for it etc. etc.

No we get something to feed the primal instincts to dislike those you do not agree with.  How is such an approach part of the Jesuit tradition.  I do not believe it is and if one can point to it as the way the Jesuits encourage debate, then it should be changed.  So you get immediate and a ''justly so'' push back to correct these distortions by several readers of this blog.  By the readers who just might be more socially just than the editors or the authors on this site.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 7 months ago
The problem that I have with the so called "dialogue" or "debate" of this comment section is that it almost always gets framed into a matter of proving which side is right, and what one side accuses the other of doing, one is guilty of doing oneself. 

These words from Merton might prove helpful:

"[We] never see the one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems: that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggressivity and hypocrisy." - Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation: 115-116
6 years 7 months ago

If the authors here started out trying to get a dialogue and not demonize a group or a person, then a completely different set of comments would ensue.  There is no respect for any of the comments by the conservative commenters so what would you expect.  For a different approach, Dr. Van Ornum structured his posts in a way that encouraged debate and there was little animosity on his OP's.  Nearly all of Fr. Martin's post lead to civil discussions or comments because he rarely tries to demonize someone.  It is not hard to do and it has happened in the past.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 7 months ago
dunno, Vince.  I appreciate America's discussion of politics from a Catholic perspective.  The Gospel has a way of transcending (and shedding light on) both liberal and conservative positions.  Look at Merton's words (#38).  The trick is to keep from falling into the partisan rut of "I'm right, you're wrong".
Joshua DeCuir
6 years 7 months ago
As one who is critical of IAT's coverage of politics, I want to say a few things in response to Beth & Vince.

First, Vince, I am under no pretensions that America is National Review.  I have no problem with consistently liberal analysis (although when its SO consistently liberal, one wonders).  I, for myself, do regularly visit conservative sites such as First Things, Mirror of Justice and the Anchoress, and I do make comments (sometimes critical) of those posts.  So the problem is not, as you say, my inability to accept America's "perspective"; rather my problem is the EXPRESSION of this perspective in a way that comes across to me (admittedly as a more conservative reader than the average America readers) as inherently unfair and, as Mr. Cosgrove, myself, and others have pointed out, seems to present alternative POVs in the worst possible light, that forecloses dialogue and forces people into black and white alternatives that results in mere partisan bickering.

"So what's so wrong with that?" you may ask - "it's America's business and you have a right to make your case."  The problem I have with it is, first, it's bad journalism/opinion writing - as a reader, I judge whatever the POV I am reading, by whether or not I understand more about ALL the sides of a debate.  But when one side of that debate is presented in a fashion that forecloses fair analysis of it (such as "Republicans don't care about the general welfare" or "republicans don't care about poor people"), then it fails.  SEcondly, and more importantly to me, this style of opinion is totally contradictory to what America the magazine is so consistently good at it in other areas.  Yes, America is a "liberal" magazine, but it has routinely given space in its pages to conservative opinion and has encouraged full and FAIR debate.  I think in particular of a series of back-and-forth articles that appeared when I was in college between Cards. Kasper & Ratzinger on the primacy of the local church.  Wherever one came out on the issue, one was sure that BOTH sides had been given free, fair, full reign to make their case.  So why is politics here so different? 

Beth writes: "The Gospel has a way of transcending (and shedding light on) both liberal and conservative positions."  So where are the conservative positions?  Why are they never given space?  I have tried to point areas where I think conservatives have insights, based on Catholic social teaching - education reform, for example, where school choice advocates such as Speaker Boehner (who is frequently presented as devoid of moral/Catholic feeling by many Catholic bloggers) has stood up to the special interest teachers' unions to ensure that poor, primarily black, children have equal access to high quality education.  Yet these issues have largely been ignored or dismissed.

I've taken too much space already, but I wanted to clarify the concern I have.  I hope this sheds some light.


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