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  1. #11  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Okay, exactly what beliefs do you hold that make you call yourself a liberal? How do you define liberal, as opposed to "progressive," socialist or communist? What differentiates those positions?
    --Odysseus
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    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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  2. #12  
    Senior Member LukeEDay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post
    To me, the tendency to seek or shape information to fit one's current viewpoint or agenda is simply a human trait, not a liberal or conservative thing. I absolutely agree that it is critical to overcome it in the engineering profession. I suppose if I could see some evidence that being liberal makes one worse at this, I would consider it. But as it stands, I don't see why this would be the case.

    I don't think many politicians are outright lying through their teeth, but folks on both sides of the aisle twist facts into talking points that don't withstand even the most cursory examination. I'm sure you all can point to countless examples of Democrats doing this that I would agree with (Obama's sequester fear-mongering is a recent example); I consider Bachmann to be one of the worse examples of this on the conservative side.



    I do not have firm views on fiscal policy; it's probably the topic I'm most interested in hearing about here.

    Here's my starting point: I know enough about economics to know I don't know nearly enough about economics. We like to assume people are rational but they often aren't. We have tons of economics 'experts' who have organized themselves into tribes and throw rocks at each-other.

    With so many variables involved in economics, it is difficult to really see what causes and effects are. Was Clinton our best fiscal president for having budget surpluses? Was he just lucky for being president during a bull market? Or was he actually bad for contributing to the events leading up to the 2007 collapse?

    I'm guessing the first question wouldn't get a 'yes' here, but my point is that there are so many ways to slice data that it's easy for anyone to find some pattern that fits their preconceptions and run with it.

    The debt does concern me somewhat, but I don't find analogies between government spending and household spending compelling. When the interest rates the US government gets are so low, it's seems almost impossible that the government wouldn't be able to get a better return on investment than that by borrowing, even if it is less efficient at spending money than corporations. So the answer isn't to have no debt. I can't tell you where I think we should draw the line, though.
    Understanding economics starts with understanding that you can't spend what you do not have, and to be able to spend more, you have to cut. A liberals view of economics is to spend more and tax more. There is no cutting back and there is no stopping the spending. They feel they can spend their way out of everything.

    Case in point: They take the Keynesian theory to extreme. What Keynes said was to either 1) Cut taxes, 2) Raise spending, or 3) Do both. The liberals just want to spend and raise taxes. They have no realization of reality at all. They know absolutely nothing about economics. You will see that the Republicans do know, because they always say that they will agree to more spending if they cut taxes, or agree to more taxes is they cut spending. It is never the other way around.

    Ad for Clinton. He was not the fiscal guru the liberals are claiming. His policies didn't raise the economy. The dot com bubble at the time did. He taxes the shit out of the winners who were making millions off their internet ventures. Then when that crashed, Bush lowered the tax rates. So anyone who thinks that Clinton is an economical genius is more stupid the Kardashians on Jeopardy.

    I love my God, my country, my flag, and my troops ....
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  3. #13  
    Junior Member Epimetheus's Avatar
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    Oh dear - hopefully I can keep up. Feel free to keep shooting questions my way, but it may start to take a bit longer before I can respond. I'll try not to forget anyone, though!

    Quote Originally Posted by Apocalypse View Post
    Why is it the responsibility for tax payers to fund sex change operations? Its not necessary to save any one's life.
    My argument would be that Medicare's goals include quality-of-life improvements possible through medical treatment as well as live-saving operations. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe drugs like acne medication and cholesterol medication are covered under Medicare for this reason. I'm pretty lukewarm on this argument, because it's difficult to objectively determine what a 'quality of life improvement' is.

    If we've determined acne treatment is medical (because it improves quality-of-life) whereas botox is merely cosmetic, then which is a sex-change operation more similar to? I'm sure those looking to get those surgeries would argue it is very important for their emotional health, but if I were looking to have these removed from Medicare coverage this is the leg of the argument I would go after.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apocalypse View Post
    Why is it the majority of violent people who act in this manor coming from the compassionate tolerant left? Last 10 major shootings, overwhelmingly have been committed by leftest. Why is that?
    Hmm, you'll have to give me more details for me to be able to respond in full. Three recent major shooting come to mind (Sandy Hook, Aurora, and that island in Norway), and the only one of those that I believe was politically motivated was carried about by a far-right individual. At any rate, I don't hold Breivik against conservatives - sick people are sick people... By the same token, Palin did not play any role in the Giffords shooting; the man in that article is an idiot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apocalypse View Post
    Why is it evil and completely unacceptable for ordinary people to own a firearm for their family's protection, but those who are calling to get rid of guns the one's surrounded by, and committing some of the worst with them?
    I would be surprised if any more than a tiny fraction of this country actively wanted to remove guns from the households of responsible people. At the end of the day, the question is, how do we balance our desire to reduce the likelihood of gun violence without unduly impacting (in cost, or time) the rights of Americans to purchase guns? I don't have any brilliant answers, but I think there are enough voices on both sides of this issue that whatever comes out of this gun control debate is not going to be particularly extreme in one direction or the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apocalypse View Post
    Didn't Obama save the eccon? Is it not in a roaring recovery as he stated time and again thanks to his quick actions? Then why are those on food-stamps skyrocketing?
    Well, certainly I would expect it to have increased substantially over pre-recession levels, but it is interesting that it is still rising (the same thing is also occurring with the number of Americans on disability).

    Paul Krugman would tell you it is because we did not spend enough during TARP. Others will say it's because Obama is screwing things up. To me, it seems like just another symptom of the unemployment rate remaining high, but then why is that happening? Is min wage killing jobs? Can the US no longer compete with cheap labor? Has automation killed low-medium skill jobs forever? Are companies retaining cash hoards rather than investing in new manufacturing / jobs because demand is low? If so, why is that?

    I don't know the answers to these questions, and I tend to be quite skeptical of those who claim to know them for sure. These are complex issues. We can also wonder how things would have been different if McCain was elected, and again I'm going to be skeptical if anyone is sure it would currently be better or worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by ABC in Georgia View Post
    Tarnation, Epi ...

    You haven't at the moment shown yourself to have enough "cranial-rectal inversion" to put to you my favorite questions.

    Will just keep reading this thread and see where it goes.

    Kudos to you anyway, for posting this topic in the first place.

    ~ ABC
    Thanks - it's been enjoyable so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by txradioguy View Post
    Why do you support a political philosophy that has failed every time it's been tried?
    Sorry - having trouble coming up with a response to this one. Could you be more specific about the political philosophy (I'm assuming we're talking about liberalism, but in what sense) and an example or two of where it's failed?
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  4. #14  
    Sin City Moderator RobJohnson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post

    My argument would be that Medicare's goals include quality-of-life improvements possible through medical treatment as well as live-saving operations. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe drugs like acne medication and cholesterol medication are covered under Medicare for this reason. I'm pretty lukewarm on this argument, because it's difficult to objectively determine what a 'quality of life improvement' is.
    Acne medication and cholesterol drugs are not even in the same class.

    Cholesterol drugs help combat future medical costs by lowering the risk of CHD.

    I have never seen acne medication covered by Medicare. I have seen it covered by Medicaid and the freaking dermatologists write for every new name brand drug on the market that private insurance companies won't even touch and if they do it's with a very high co-payment. In fact, Medicaid covers OTC acne medications as well. Teenagers get pimples and they still get knocked up, taxpayers pay for that also.
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  5. #15  
    CU Royalty JB's Avatar
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    I actually have no interest in your politics, policies, positions, values, morality, social or economic agenda. I've heard enough from enough liberals to know that I have and do not want anything to do with how they think or act and I do everything I can to keep them from gaining political power.

    But Welcome to CU.
    Be Not Afraid.
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  6. #16  
    Junior Member Epimetheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
    Okay, exactly what beliefs do you hold that make you call yourself a liberal? How do you define liberal, as opposed to "progressive," socialist or communist? What differentiates those positions?
    Good question. I am going to struggle with this, as I've never really identified with any one group in particular and haven't spend significant time researching the full meaning behind the terms that can get thrown around pretty casually. Let me get back to you within the next day or so - don't want to hold up the rest of the thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeEDay View Post
    Understanding economics starts with understanding that you can't spend what you do not have, and to be able to spend more, you have to cut. A liberals view of economics is to spend more and tax more. There is no cutting back and there is no stopping the spending. They feel they can spend their way out of everything.

    Case in point: They take the Keynesian theory to extreme. What Keynes said was to either 1) Cut taxes, 2) Raise spending, or 3) Do both. The liberals just want to spend and raise taxes. They have no realization of reality at all. They know absolutely nothing about economics. You will see that the Republicans do know, because they always say that they will agree to more spending if they cut taxes, or agree to more taxes is they cut spending. It is never the other way around.

    Ad for Clinton. He was not the fiscal guru the liberals are claiming. His policies didn't raise the economy. The dot com bubble at the time did. He taxes the shit out of the winners who were making millions off their internet ventures. Then when that crashed, Bush lowered the tax rates. So anyone who thinks that Clinton is an economical genius is more stupid the Kardashians on Jeopardy.
    I disagree on the bolded point. I think this will be a key point in any discussion about fiscal policy, so I'll be happy to expand more on this.

    Simply put, I don't believe debts and deficits are evils in-and-of themselves. Breaking my rule about making household analogies for government spending, here's an example:

    The average family probably has a mortgage (debt) which is requiring interest payments of 3-5% annually. Say this family comes into $1000 (tax refund, gift, etc). I think it is an entirely prudent move to invest this money in the stock market, where you could expect an 8-10% annual return. Even though they aren't reducing their debt, they'll tend to come out ahead in the long run. Likewise, it would be reasonably prudent of the family to instead spend that $1000 on gym memberships or equipment. The math here gets a little fuzzier because it's difficult to quantify the benefits of this, but between increased life expectancy, reduced medical costs, and the general good feeling from being in shape, it seems to be a worthwhile investment.

    But at the same time, this family cannot forget that it is indeed in debt. Any money they are not spending, or worse, spending on useless stuff, is essentially being put on a credit card at 3-5% interest (the opportunity cost of paying down the mortgage). So they shouldn't be buying Latte's at Starbucks every day until they are free of that debt, unless they think the return on investment is better than the interest rate they are paying.

    The government gets a pretty sweet deal on debt. It's interest rates on debt are much lower than a family (or even a company, through shareholder expectations) would receive. This means it's pretty easy for the government to borrow money and use it in ways that are providing a return better than the interest it is paying, even if it isn't as efficient at spending money as the private market. So I don't think TARP was a bad idea in principle, nor did I immediately throw up my hands when I saw the senate budget contained yet more government spending than is currently occurring. But again, the same principle with returns applies - anywhere the government is wasting our money should be cut; even programs that are barely breaking even with their associated interest expense should probably be scrapped, scaled back, or made leaner, with those extra funds either paying down the debt or being moved to more efficient programs. Now the fun questions are - which programs are worthwhile and which are not, and how do we measure them? A lot of them are like the gym membership example, it's awfully hard to objectively determine what kind of return the government is getting on a lot of its investments.

    *There are lots of other questions too - like what level of GDP:debt ratio is acceptable (depends on how confident we are that we will get the returns on our investments we are predicting, if interest rates will remain where they are, if there ever will be a run on US debt, and to what extent we would ever be willing to use our 'panic button' - inflating the debt away, and probably a bunch of other things) and so on.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobJohnson View Post
    Acne medication and cholesterol drugs are not even in the same class.

    Cholesterol drugs help combat future medical costs by lowering the risk of CHD.

    I have never seen acne medication covered by Medicare. I have seen it covered by Medicaid and the freaking dermatologists write for every new name brand drug on the market that private insurance companies won't even touch and if they do it's with a very high co-payment. In fact, Medicaid covers OTC acne medications as well. Teenagers get pimples and they still get knocked up, taxpayers pay for that also.
    My mistake. Thanks for the correction. I have to imagine there are still medical treatments covered by medicare that fall into a grey area between cosmetic and medically necessary (perhaps restorative surgery after serious burns - neither life-saving nor cost-saving, but probably acceptable as a covered medical treatment in most people's views). The question is where to draw the line and on which side sex-change operations lie.

    Edit: one more
    Quote Originally Posted by JB View Post
    I actually have no interest in your politics, policies, positions, values, morality, social or economic agenda. I've heard enough from enough liberals to know that I have and do not want anything to do with how they think or act and I do everything I can to keep them from gaining political power.

    But Welcome to CU.
    Fair enough - if you change your mind you're welcome to participate, but otherwise thanks for the welcome
    Last edited by Epimetheus; 03-29-2013 at 07:02 PM. Reason: One more response
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  7. #17  
    Senior Member DumbAss Tanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post
    I do not have firm views on fiscal policy; it's probably the topic I'm most interested in hearing about here.

    Here's my starting point: I know enough about economics to know I don't know nearly enough about economics. We like to assume people are rational but they often aren't. We have tons of economics 'experts' who have organized themselves into tribes and throw rocks at each-other.
    People are rational economically, but that is in terms of their own frame of reference, and has nothing to do with values, aspirations, etc. in any direct way. For instance, if 99 weeks of UE comp are available instead of 13, people will tend to stay on it longer looking for the 'Best' job (By their own measure); food stamps, HUD rent supplements, free cell phones the same way...everything that takes the pain out of being low on the totem pole makes it easier for more people to stay low on the totem pole, and over time more tend to do it. The programs work as intended - a temporary leg up - for only the well-socialized of beneficiaries, but as an expected premium for going nowhere by an ever-growing entitlement-dependent class. Same kind of thing with disability - if you can qualify for it by any stretch (And there are plenty of lawyers specializing in entitlement law who will be glad to take and groom your case), getting the payments and staying home is a better deal than earning the same after-tax amount (Or less) by getting off your ass to work 40-plus hours a week...and a lot of people who aren't keen on working at all have realized that.

    With so many variables involved in economics, it is difficult to really see what causes and effects are. Was Clinton our best fiscal president for having budget surpluses? Was he just lucky for being president during a bull market? Or was he actually bad for contributing to the events leading up to the 2007 collapse?
    Presidents really have Jack to do with the economy, outside of very major executive branch actions like imposing CA emissions standards nationwide by regulatory fiat. The housing bubble had virtually nothing to do with G. W. Bush's policies, and everything to do with institutionalized Leftist race-related policies in DOJ's Civil Rights branch bureaucracy and a politically-neutral SEC that was asleep at the switch on the issue of derivative trading. Clinton's rep for having a fantastic economy was due to two things, the dot-com boom that he had nothing whatsoever to do with, and the fact that he had an opposition Congress for six years that wouldn't let him do any major expensive social programs. There was the little thing about the Cold War ending and some significant economic benefits from that which took a couple of years to mature.

    I'm guessing the first question wouldn't get a 'yes' here, but my point is that there are so many ways to slice data that it's easy for anyone to find some pattern that fits their preconceptions and run with it.
    It's really macro, not micro, on the economy during a President's term, i.e. trends and policy consequences rather than number-crunching. Right-wing pundits are often as guilty as Leftists on misapplying that, to be sure.

    The debt does concern me somewhat, but I don't find analogies between government spending and household spending compelling. When the interest rates the US government gets are so low, it's seems almost impossible that the government wouldn't be able to get a better return on investment than that by borrowing, even if it is less efficient at spending money than corporations. So the answer isn't to have no debt. I can't tell you where I think we should draw the line, though.
    Not that keen on the household analogy myself; after all, governments can do two things households can't - deficit spending and printing money. Both can be most useful in an emergency, unfortunately they have become institutionalized to the point that they are propping up the current fake recovery, such as it is. There have been ugly demonstrations of worst-case events when this happens, in post WW1 Germany and more recently Zimbabwe, though we aren't in immediate danger of ending up that way...we are, however, starting down the same roads they took.
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  8. #18  
    Senior Member Apache's Avatar
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    Keep going Epi... not sure what you are trying to accomplish, but you do have guts. I admire that in an opponent...
    Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.
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  9. #19  
    Senior Member ReinMan's Avatar
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    I've a question: What do you see as the appropriate level of government involvement in the day-to-day lives of the citizens?

    Should the federal government have a string to pull for every facet of life that can be construed to impact the well-being the general population?

    Or should we move closer to the strict limitations of the Tenth Amendment? "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

    What would be your 'compass' that shapes your opinion on this?
    We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.
    In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.

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  10. #20  
    Senior Member LukeEDay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post
    I disagree on the bolded point. I think this will be a key point in any discussion about fiscal policy, so I'll be happy to expand more on this.

    Simply put, I don't believe debts and deficits are evils in-and-of themselves. Breaking my rule about making household analogies for government spending, here's an example:

    The average family probably has a mortgage (debt) which is requiring interest payments of 3-5% annually. Say this family comes into $1000 (tax refund, gift, etc). I think it is an entirely prudent move to invest this money in the stock market, where you could expect an 8-10% annual return. Even though they aren't reducing their debt, they'll tend to come out ahead in the long run. Likewise, it would be reasonably prudent of the family to instead spend that $1000 on gym memberships or equipment. The math here gets a little fuzzier because it's difficult to quantify the benefits of this, but between increased life expectancy, reduced medical costs, and the general good feeling from being in shape, it seems to be a worthwhile investment.

    But at the same time, this family cannot forget that it is indeed in debt. Any money they are not spending, or worse, spending on useless stuff, is essentially being put on a credit card at 3-5% interest (the opportunity cost of paying down the mortgage). So they shouldn't be buying Latte's at Starbucks every day until they are free of that debt, unless they think the return on investment is better than the interest rate they are paying.

    The government gets a pretty sweet deal on debt. It's interest rates on debt are much lower than a family (or even a company, through shareholder expectations) would receive. This means it's pretty easy for the government to borrow money and use it in ways that are providing a return better than the interest it is paying, even if it isn't as efficient at spending money as the private market. So I don't think TARP was a bad idea in principle, nor did I immediately throw up my hands when I saw the senate budget contained yet more government spending than is currently occurring. But again, the same principle with returns applies - anywhere the government is wasting our money should be cut; even programs that are barely breaking even with their associated interest expense should probably be scrapped, scaled back, or made leaner, with those extra funds either paying down the debt or being moved to more efficient programs. Now the fun questions are - which programs are worthwhile and which are not, and how do we measure them? A lot of them are like the gym membership example, it's awfully hard to objectively determine what kind of return the government is getting on a lot of its investments.

    *There are lots of other questions too - like what level of GDP:debt ratio is acceptable (depends on how confident we are that we will get the returns on our investments we are predicting, if interest rates will remain where they are, if there ever will be a run on US debt, and to what extent we would ever be willing to use our 'panic button' - inflating the debt away, and probably a bunch of other things) and so on.
    So you are one of these spend your way out of burdens type person. You agree with the tax more and spend more? Never cut back, if you need more money, just print it and tax it? Yeah, you are a liberal all right. People like you are the reason this country is in 16 trillion of debt. Soon to be 20 trillion.

    I love my God, my country, my flag, and my troops ....
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