Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Do We Want To Live!

I have been working this week trying to write a post about a very special person. It has turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated so I have decided to wait for some inspiration on that piece and write about an issue that has been nagging at me since I first read it. It was a part of the first post I put up from Oteil and it really disturbs me. I feel sentiments like this are the driving force behind what I am afraid may the death knell of the USA as a democracy. Oteil said: "The liberal notion that the Federal gov’t is supposed to give out money freely is wrong to me because it first depends on the theft of my money by the IRS. I am all for giving liberally individually but not federally. If I am allowed to keep more of my money I can guarantee it will get to the local homeless shelter, food bank, school, etc... when it is stolen from me by the IRS and given to the Federal gov’t it disappears into thin air." 

Let's think about this statement.  First a few hundred years ago our ancestors decided to form a society. One based on a here-to-fore untested system using a tripartite government. This government contained a system of checks and balances with the idea that this would keep any branch from gaining too much power and insuring that the people in this society could always have the final power using one man - one vote to replace any government that might abuse its power. This is a very simple definition of who we are and how we got here. That is the USA. The concept of "society" (groups of people forming unions) is as old as mankind himself. The concept that in all societies that members of these groups contribute to the common good is also as old as "society" itself. 

Let's take a group of very early humans that have formed a tribe for their mutual benefit. How can they benefit from this association?  It's simple enough, the men form hunting parties and provide the food. Women farm, take care of the young and keep the homes together. Each contributes to the common good. I doubt if one healthy young man would have simply said "you guys are just stealing my time and labor. I think I'll just hang here while you go get the food" and lasted very long. As humans evolved and societies became larger and more sophisticated then that labor became something else. Eventually it became taxes. Once societies formed into more complex entities then maybe some became the warriors, some the farmers, some the tradesmen, whatever but, along with their skills most societies for thousands of years have built projects on a societal scale and it took taxes to pay for them. 

After stating the obvious let's ask ourselves, given that we all know that the transcontinental railway system could have never been built by allowing the population to operate under the "If I am allowed to keep more of my money I can guarantee it will get to the local homeless shelter, food bank, school, etc... when it is stolen from me by the IRS and given to the Federal gov’t it disappears into thin air." way of thinking.  Really, do you think it remotely possible that the railways, the interstate system, the air traffic control system, our public school system (surely you can't believe that public education should not be provided), our Armed Forces (whether you agree with what they are doing that they are needed I am sure we can all agree upon), The Hoover Damn, etc. would have been built if we just left it up to the goodness of the average person to pay their share, or not? Do you think that we would have had any chance in hell of winning WWII without some very serious taxation that turned into most every American giving all that they could for the war effort, over and above those taxes? Do you have any illusions that this country with it's national electrical grid that was built with tax dollars and was the backbone for the industrial boom here in post WWII America could have ever happened? Really? Theft? Otiel, imagine a tour without the transportation infrastructure created by tax dollars. Think about all of the public services we use and just take for granted. There is little doubt that a lot of our tax dollars have been used for many corrupt purposes and that there is, has and always will be the need to monitor where those dollars go. I know of one story in Iraq where several truckloads of dollars, amounting to several b with a billion dollars just vanished. Shit like this goes on far too often, but to call paying taxes federal theft? Really? It all just disappeared into thin air? Really? The lack of those taxes are putting school teachers, fireman, policemen and public workers of every stripe out of work. Is this really what we want?

For the last couple of decades we have been headed (ostensibly) toward the conservative version of what the government should be (although the massive increases in our deficit happened under the three Republican Presidents, Reagan being the worst) . Taxes are at an all time low. Regulations on business are almost non-existent.  We are in the middle of a recession brought on, in a large part, by these policies. In the past when this happened the electorate usually went oops and the pendulum swung back the other way keeping us away from the radical right or radical left. What scares hell out of me right now is that we know that we are in a recession brought on for the most part by these conservative views. We see the evidence everywhere. The Bush tax cuts and unregulated corporations and Wall Street Companies were the major causes of this mess. We should be headed back the other way. It doesn't seem to me that we are. 
We now sit having blown trillions on idiotic wars and for the first time in the history of this country, while a few fought and died, the rest of us sat on our butts got very nice tax cuts and went to the mall. Now here we are facing what may be the defining election in our history. Where are we going? Where do you want to go? Do you really want to turn things over to people that are telling you that paying your taxes is nothing more than a rip-off? Really? If so, what will the society that replaces the one that requires you to pay taxes and the institutions that run it look like? It won't have any money, unless you feel like giving  it some. Really think that system has much of a chance? Good luck.


  1. Butch & Oteil,

    Let's not let this cause friction in a smooth rhythm section, OK? I'm having this same debate with several Libertarians on Facebook and have yet to convince one how unfeasible their position is.

    First, I don't agree that Uncle Sam is stealing your money. It's like a cover charge, Oteil. I'm sure you must remember your early days in the music biz when people bitched and moaned about having to pay a cover charge in the bars.

    If you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. Same same with taxes.

  2. First and foremost, I second Mr. Lizard's comment "Let's not let this cause friction in a smooth rhythm section, OK?"!

    FWIW, I agree with Butch regarding the overall concept of taxes. Unless taxation is mandatory, there will never be enough revenue for all the basic services mentioned above. Self-interest will trump societal interest. To me the debate is "how much taxes?", which is a very complex issue. As Butch noted, most things of this sort swing back and forth in a pendulum over periods of time, with the overall "average" being a centrist point of view. I honestly believe that most prople are centrists at heart. We all have a lot more in common regarding our overall philosphy than we have differences. Some of us are centrists who lean left. Some are centrists who lean right. And that is the way it should be. It allows for dialog and differing views to enter the equation, and in the end the conclusions/compromises reached will be in the majority's best interest. Neither the far left nor the far right has ever taken contol, nor should they. If they do, the balance of the system is lost. And our society will be worse off for it.

  3. A follow-up comment related to a short article I just read on NPR's website (after posting my comment above). The article highlights a new book by Thomas Friedman. To quote from the article: "The incentives of politics today — money, cable television, gerrymandered districts — are so misaligned with the needs of the country that they become like a closed circle, operating on their own," he says. "What we argue for is an independent, third party that actually can show that there is a huge middle in this country that demands different politics."

  4. I was directed to your blog by a friend who loves your music. Please look in on my blog now and then, Although we disagree about many things I think a civil discourse is sorely needed in our time.

    I liked your analogy about the warrior hanging at camp while the rest of the hunting party went out to gather “taxes”. I have a different take on the guy who was slackin, I didn’t see him so much as a tax avoider but as someone who felt a sense of entitlement. The Slacker may have been an individual who decides work is to demeaning or perhaps inconvenient or a “Too Big to Fail” Bank. They both expect to be taken care of by the rest of the tribe.

    I have a couple of points on taxes. First, my objection to increased taxes is that the more we “give” them the more they spend. I am talking about both sides of the aisle. While I would not welcome an increase in MY taxes, I think it may be necessary and I would tolerate the increase better if I felt the money was being spent judicially. Secondly, send in all the money you want, the IRS will gladly accept it.

    Great blog keep it up

  5. You keep refering to a dead system (this "democracy" you talk about and this old/dead document the constition) and has been for exactly 10 years now. It is kind of funny you seem to really think the savior to this is to be found in the dog and pony show called politics

  6. "Idiotic Wars" !! I really really hate that reference. Possibly if you witnessed multiple bodies hitting the pavement 10 years ago today you would feel differently. Yes mistakes have been made, but tried to be righted and the time has come to retract responsibly, however americans have not been slaughtered the way they were 10 years ago. That pendulum may have swung in either direction prior to 9/10/01 but the world is not the same and we need to adapt to the world that has come after 9/11/01. Both parties need to figure out a way to make this country prosper and protect us at the same time.

    Janine/Long Island

  7. Do you really think that what we did to Iraq has in any way shape or form made us or the world safer? We blow the hell out of a country that had nothing to do with an attack on us. What else could you call that but idiotic? I guarantee you that history will mark the time after 9/11/2001, as THE single biggest missed opportunity to move this country and the world in a positive direction. The war against terrorism should look more like what happened the night they killed Bin Laden. After 9/11 the rest of the west was ready to join with us to do exactly that. Instead with gave em the finger and blew hell out of one of many satraps that our president just happened to want to take out. Imagine if instead he had formed an international alliance of convert operations with all of our allies and really gotten into the heart of terrorism. We know what we got. We can only imagine what we might have had. If you use the fact that we haven't been hit again since 2001 as your metric for measuring our success just wait. If you recall we had never in history been hit like that before 9/11. Do we really live and make our plans based on the fear that someone might hit us again? we got "The Patriot Act" from that kind of thinking. Our rights, on many levels, have never been so attacked. That it still remains in force is one of my biggest disappointments with Obama. I'm sure you've all heard the quote from Ben Franklin, "Anyone who would give up his liberty for security deserves neither." As far as your "we need to adapt to the world that has come after 9/11/01", is fighting a 1940's style war what you would call the proper adaptation? I don't.

  8. My thoughts on Iraq have changed so dramatically over the last 10 years. From agreeing with it to not and back. But YES I do believe we are safer because of the steps taken to fight terrorism in the last 10 years. Butch you're saying we were never attacked "like that" however we were attacked. 1993, USS Cole, Our Embassies. They may not have been as dramatic but they certainly were successful attacks. Attacks being the key word. For 10 years possibly more the plans to attack Americans were in the works. The 911 terrorists themselves have said they were elated on how much damage was caused September 11th.
    My position is the same. I don't believe idiotic defines our actions. I'm not taking a stand in my post, it truly is how I feel personally. I don't post to change the minds, or debate even, just how I feel. Again, I saw bodies hit pavement. That was the only choice they had to make. Stay and burn or fall to death.
    YES I believe we are safer.

    Janine/Long Island

  9. I posted a link to your blog on my blog.

    I, like the Poster above have mixed feelings on Iraq and our war there. On the one hand a really, really awful thug was brought to justice, on the other it cost the U.S. way to much in blood and treasure. In Afghanistan, with Bin out of the way (thank you Presidents Obama and Bush) I don't see much use in staying. It's not like Democracy is going to take root there, just take a gander at Egypt and its attack on Israel of late.

    The only dependable ally we have in the Middle East is Israel and Obama’s actions have not nourished that relationship and that my friends is an understatement.


  10. Let's see -
    4,300 American deaths
    600,000 to 1.2 million Iraqi deaths
    2 million external refugess
    2 million internal refugees
    Entrance of al Qaida into Iraq
    Loss of counterbalance to Iran's military power in region
    Diversion of personnel and materiel from Afghanistan
    Loss of control of battle in Afghanistan
    Resurgence of al Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan
    Osama bin Laden allowed to survive and thrive for TEN years
    Potential loss of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to extremists
    Loss of good will of most of moderate muslims
    Worsening of polarization of American political parties and populace
    $5 trillion increase in national debt under Bush
    triggering of worst recession in modern times

    All these events caused by a LIE!!!

    How can anyone say that the Iraq invasion was worth it?


  12. Didn't you forget the spread of the common cold and childhood obesity?

  13. All these events caused by a LIE!!! (and "Idiotic Wars")
    In 1980 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency filed a report stating that Iraq had been actively acquiring chemical weapons capacities for several years, which later proved to be accurate.In November 1980, two months into the Iran–Iraq War, the first reported use of chemical weapons took place when Tehran radio reported a poison gas attack on Susangerd by Iraqi forces. The United Nations reported many similar attacks occurred the following year, leading Iran to develop and deploy a mustard gas capability. By 1984, Iraq was using poison gas with great effectiveness against Iranian "human wave" attacks. Chemical weapons were used extensively against Iran during the Iran–Iraq War

    Ya It was all a big frigging lie !!!!!!!

  14. We were also attacked in Oklahoma City, numerous times by the Uni-bomber. Terror is not a new thing and it is not a Muslim thing. It was the scale of 9/11 that caused our response. It was the alien nature of those that did it that leaves us with a mistrust of all things Muslim. But, as I said to you in my e-mail going to war on a 1930-40's scale with a country that had nothing to do with that attack to fight an enemy that was killed by a team of special ops and doing it while giving the finger to most of the allies that were ready to help and build an international covert agency that is obviously the way to deal with people like Bin Laden will go down in history as one of, if not the greatest, missed opportunity in history. Imagine if we had, instead of blowing trillions of bucks and all of those lives formed an agency with Israel, France, Germany, England, etc and went to work putting people into these cells rather than telling all of them thanks, but no thanks we're gonna bomb the bejesus outa some satrap we don't like so we can feel better. Truth be damned. In fact if someone tries and expose our lies and his wife happpens to be working for us as a CIA operative we'll just expose her to shut him up. I thought that was considered treason. This all sound like what we were raised to believe that this country stood for? Oh, and torture is OK, too. They're the bad guys because they torture but since we're the good guys, with god on our side, we can do it. After all if we torture enough we might learn something that could save an American.

  15. Terror is not a new thing and it is not a Muslim thing.....
    Nor were the meat hooks where Indonesian backed militias hung their victims, before mutilating and killing them.

    Terror is not a new thing and it is not a Muslim thing....

    But nether were the Indonesian fields of the dead where the corpses of men, women and children were piled into mass graves.

    Terror is not a new thing and it is not a Muslim thing....

    Nor were the machete squads who hacked Indonesian people to death in full public view and on video.

    Terror is not a new thing and it is not a Muslim thing....

    Nor was the Indonesian ethnic cleansing, the mass deportations, the gang rapes or even the murder of Western reporters.

    And there's a simple reason for all that.

    Indonesia is a Muslim country. Their victims in East Timor were Christians.

    But Obama insist's on playing dumb when it comes to his adopted country's genocidal????...(ever wonder why Obama never wrote a book about his mother???)

    Now here we are facing what may be the defining election in our history. Where are we going? Where do you want to go? Do you really want to turn things over to

  16. Go to a country that has almost no government and see how it is there. Our government is far from perfect, but at least the people have some input in the form of voting and free speech. In a power vacuum, the rich and powerful always kill, rape, and plunder. This is an essential part of the human condition. Want roads? Pay your fucking taxes. Want clean air and water? Protect the EPA. Want a military? (as I'm sure most anti-tax Republicans do) then you have to take part in a socialist system of taxation. Want public education? Fire fighters? A police force? It goes on and on.

    During The Bush years we saw regulation stripped (and also during the Clinton years to a slightly lesser extent) and the results have been predictable; rampant corporate crime, jobs being shipped overseas, oil spills, recession, the highest levels of poverty since the 1960's, and pretty much a regression of progress on every level.

    The saddest thing is that Obama has been no better than Bush/Cheney on most of these issues. He is a traitor to anyone left of Ronald Reagan. Time for a real progressive candidate as a primary challenger in 2012.

    Anyone who says things like "Obama is a socialist" proves themselves to be a fool who's grossly misinformed.

  17. My dear friend “Wired”, I love the debate. It is a healthy discussion of our differing views of the war and frankly the world as we see it. Nevertheless, my opinions are largely based on facts. Like many, I remember 9/11 vividly and thought a great deal about it and its aftermath- a transformative world event from virtually any perspective. Our 10/01 bombing of Afghanistan, which was trumpeted as going after the terrorists of 9/11 was the right thing to do. However, in 2002 and 2003, my ears perked up trying to follow and digest the vast amount of emotional and contradicting talk about our need to attack Iraq by the time we invaded them in March 2003.

    To stress my point, I asked myself these questions;

    Given the intelligence and information the U.S. had or that was "out
    there," could we or should we have prevented 9/11?

    What is the history and background of Osama bin Laden and Al-
    Qaeda and why have they and other extremists been so committed to
    hurting the U.S. and other Western countries?

    How and why did the U.S. originally pick and support Saddam Hussein in Iraq and why did we subsequently overthrow his regime? Was our March 2003 invasion of Iraq necessary to protect our country? Has it made us or will it make us safer?

    What has been our involvement with Saudi Arabia, their government, their people and their oil? Has that relationship been understood by congress and the American public, and has that relationship been good for America?

    To what extent has oil been a substantial contributor to the decisions that led to 9/11 and to our subsequent invasion of Iraq?

    What are the lessons and insights to be learned from our decisions leading up to 9/11 and our subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq that will better secure our future and enhance the quality of our lives?

    Please let me share with you some quotes to better clarify my position on the Iraqi war. But let me preface with, “I love this country and I have served this great country for 24 years and would lay my life down for you, my American brother.”

    09/15/01: “Only a few days after September 11 [2001], [CIA Director George Tenet] writes, that he was told by Bush that he wanted to remove Saddam. Tenet’s response; “If you want to go after that son of a bitch to settle old scores, be my guest. But don’t tell us he is connected to 9/11 because there is no evidence to support that. You will have to have a better reason.” – The Military Error; Thomas Powers.

    09/17/2007: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” – The Age of Turbulence; Alan Greenspan, page 463.

    “Wired”; I hope I made my point to you. End of Discussion!

  18. Wired, you have to be smarter than that. You want to pull examples of atrocities out of a hat to defend your position. How about the First Crusade? The Christian Crusaders killed every man woman and child they could find and left Jerusalem ankle deep in blood. Again I will say, terror is not a new thing and it is not a Muslim thing. When Saladin the Great retook Jerusalem he allowed any Christian that survived his siege to either return to Europe, leave there and go where they wanted or stay and live with his people. We could pull examples of terrorism from all peoples, all societies and, most of all, all religions. Your comment does not add any credence to your attempt to make terrorism a "Muslim" thing.

  19. Cripes, Look at the horrors we exacted on the people we took this land from. People like Custer were terrorists and I doubt if he had even heard of Islam.

  20. Butch I'm surprised that went right over your head and you did not correct me...
    Insert "Communists" instead of the word "Christians"

  21. Elvis I guess it doesn't matter at this point and none of us will know for another 40 years or so...
    But my own feeling on the reason is that ya oil was one factor, wmd's and the protection of our troops were another, and thirdly Irac was also a staging point to enter Iran (from both the east and west)if necessary

  22. One more quick comment Butch I know your not a Reagan Fan [the first post of the series(and probably think the Heritage foundation is a right wing outfit)]
    But just for the sake of future conversations I thought I would post this link on this upcoming series entitled " Preserve the Constitution, Now More Than Ever" actually first post was posted on Sept 9,

    Just figured it would be some great talking points and an interesting and informative for us.

    Also I would like you opinion on some of the taxation, budget, policy and other numbers and there effects as put forth by this outfit (see the various links on the site)are they factual, reliable, etc etc...

  23. Awe screw it...I like spam...(yuck!!!)LOL
    Might as well get it out there as a discussion point...

    (copy and pasted from the email notifying me of this blog post)

    Hi Butch,
    sending this via reply to the email of your blog vrs how I usually post (going directly to your blog {so I can also read the comments [because I have already posted three or four time and don't want to spam your blog]})
    Now to the point...
    This video (not part of the restoring the constitution series link I already posted on your blog) please watch...
    Addressing the Social Security Conundrum

    I think this sounds like a great Idea (the personal accounts and federal guarantee)with the exception of these major flaws...
    I think it would work but...
    it needs to be secured by stricter federal regulations on the financial industry and wall street banks and who will manage these accounts and prevent fraud, along with closing any loopholes that will allow present and future legislation and policies to get around the reform as exist now that will prevent the
    creation of bubbles that may bust and create another financial melt down of social security in the future (like what just recently happened in the RE and derivatives market ) and big banks and wall street will fight tooth and nail to prevent further reforms...etc
    what are your thoughts? can you do a post on this? I'm asking you because you are or have experienced having wealth vs I never have etc etc...
    Kevin T. AKA The wired journal

  24. Hey Butch,

    Were you encouraged to start this blog by groups like Organizing for American or The Center for American Progress or maybe liberal 527s like America Coming Together or Move.Org? I get their talking points sent to me on a regular basis and your points are identical to theirs.

    One of their tactics is to talk celebrities like yourself into spreading their message(s) on blogs like this hoping that you will convince your fans to vote Democrat.

  25. hoping that you will convince your fans to vote Democrat.

    Will not happen, even the Democrat's will not vote for Obama with how he is destroying this economy

  26. Hey Butch,

    I would say that there is middle ground between you and Oteil, and you post makes the argument.

    you mention the rail system, public schools, the army and Hoover dam. The great thing about those tax-enabled entities are that they are tangible and were established decades or centuries ago. what i think Oteil is referring to are today's taxes that disappear into the intangibles.

    Oteil, and the rest of us, are taxed 16% towards Social Security, which does not go into a trust fund, and those funds are disappearing. We are taxed on wars (you mention trillions spent) where the tax money disappears. here in NJ, we are taxed and it disappears into the pockets of people who double, triple and quadruple dip their hands into the tax coiffeurs.

    you both make good arguments. you're both right. oteil is seeking accountability and i feel his pain. he wants a return on his tax investment - we should all feel the same way.

  27. What I am the most concerned about is that it seems that more and more of the country view taxes as evil, theft, whatever. That our tax system is way out of whack and needs major repair is a given. That we can have a country that even resembles the one we grew up in without taxes is an impossibility. Look back two to three generations or even more and look at the incredible infrastructure, system of national parks, take your pick. These were national projects on a national scale paid for with federal funds. When you start calling taxes "theft" you're throwing out the baby with the bath water. I want my children and grandchildren to benefit from some grand national projects that we began with no thought of them being completed in our lives. That is what we got, what are we doing? the answer is to grab hold of the last bit of democracy that is left and force the bastards in charge to clean up the act. Reform the tax system so that it is fair, balanced moves up back toward the lead in what matters in this world. Sorry Oteil Ron Paul just don't get it. What, following his policies, would we ever build on a grand scale that we could be proud of?

  28. I didn't feel like I had anything to add in this post until I read Sully's post. (I respect Oteil's libertarian (?) standpoint as an ideology, but living in a society and enjoying it's benifits and common goods - in any way - while saying that "tax is theft" is a paradox.)
    "Return on tax investment" is an interesting phrase. Of course, paying taxes and riding a train could be such a return. But isn't also public schools and healtcare for poor people a return?
    The main question is, what do you want for your tax money? To me, as a non-US citizen, it often seems like americans think that "if I don't benefit from my tax money myself, it's wasted money". But aren't taxes also a way of redistributing wealth? I'm not rich myself, but I can't complain either. If my taxes were to benefit people like myself only, I would consider them wasted. I want them to benefit people who don't have roof over their heads, can't afford food on the table or could not afford going to a hospital otherwise.
    As a matter of fact, in working so called "welfare states", people don't even need guns to defend themselves at home (refering to Oteil's post)...

  29. We can't afford to build anything on a grand scale we need to pay off our debt before we even dream about it. Obama simply spends too much and you want him to spend more. Not with my money, enuff!!!!

  30. How about we stop with this foolish statement "Obama simply spends too much." He is the president. He has no power whatsoever to spend. That power rests with congress. How many times do you have to hear that? Please go do some research and learn how our government works before making totally false statements like that. That is one of those lies that has been stated so many times people just accept it as true. CONGRESS is in charge of the budget. Not the president. He also has no power over Wall Street as at least one of our posters likes to think. Go back and look at the money spent under Bush. It blows Obama out of the water. Bush, however did not spend it, he may have influenced congress to do so but he himself did not have that power.

  31. "He is the president. He has no power whatsoever to spend."

    With that logic, you should stop referring to "Bush tax cuts."

  32. No one is advocating "no taxes." In fact, that is not what I got out of Oteil's post. There is a point of over-taxation when the tax burden starts to hurt economic growth. We are at that point. On top of that, people can see that there tax dollars are being wasted and they've had enough.

    Stop taking the anti-tax message to the extreme.

  33. Go back and look at the money spent under Bush. It blows Obama out of the water....

    Is that really true???

    Care to back up that statement Mr. Trucks by providing us with this Administrations figures? (don't forget the nation debt)
    so far we have 8yrs for bush vs 2 1/2 for Obama

    The Bush administration racked up deficits of $158 billion in 2002,
    $378 billion in 2003,
    $413 billion in 2004,
    $318 billion in 2005,
    $248 billion in 2006,
    $162 billion in 2007,
    $410 billion in 2008.
    And a five trillion increase in national Debt in 8 years...

    Sally H.

  34. If you took all the money from all the billionaires in the US, you would only come up with $1.3 trillion. The current deficit sits at $14 trillion.

    Yea, what the hell. Let's just keep spending.

  35. Bush is a kitty kat compared to what Obama has done. Butch your just trying to deflect and put a different spin on the issues. So you think the deficit is fine, Obama is not responsible for anything, our taxes are too low. We have looked at the numbers more has been spent under Obama then any president in history.

  36. Bush also had congress put two wars and the prescription drug bill off of the budget. That trillion or so doesn't show up in your numbers. He also inherited a budget surplus. We know what Obama faced. That ain't spin.

  37. Great dialogue.

    Butch, I would challenge you to read Neal Boortz "Fair Tax" Book. No only does this plan eliminate the fraud and waste, it makes it so that important programs Social Security are funded and secured.

  38. "There is a point of over-taxation when the tax burden starts to hurt economic growth. We are at that point."

    Anonymous: If this is the case than why did the economy tank after Bush's tax cuts went into effect? Why did CEO bonuses go through the roof? Why did we hemmorage jobs during that time? It seems to me that if you give a company a bunch of tax breaks,you are giving them the ability to make more of a profit while producing less. I have a friend who is now out of work because his indepently owned construction company he worked for closed.The owner made enough money through tax breaks, profits, and investments that he no longer needed to burden himself with the day to day grind of running the business. Thirty people lost their jobs. It seems to be very idealistic to expect companies to take these tax breaks and go out and hire a bunch of new people. I think history has proven that they use the tax breaks to bring up the profit margin, pay off the investors, and enrich themselves personally.


  39. Afghanistan I would Classify as Obama's war he has more than doubled the size of the effort. We are barely in Bagdad and Bush started clearing that out before he left. What has Obama done besides spend? The Economy is worse, spending is worse, healthcosts are worse, energy prices are worse. Anything good? He has no clue.

  40. I think it would be a fairly accurate statement to say that nothing is really going to change until all these people in office start dropping from lead poisoning and the people revolt....
    The problem then becomes managing and controlling the mob mentality of the masses and restoring law and order. And the Union may become fragmented in the process. I don't mean to sound fatalistic but I just don't see how any new laws and or bills are going to save us from the people that are creating this mess. I honestly fear for what our children may have to experience and endure in the coming decade or so.
    Personally I honestly feel the whole system needs to be overhauled and the basic principles of our constitution restored. Our constitution and society has been infected with the cancer of the dark side of our human nature and it is (and has been) spreading like gang green for years and killing us all and our way of life slowly. We can all sit here and discuss this and vent till the cows come home but nothing will change.


    "The Meek will Inherit The Earth Only When They Get The Balls To Take It Back"

  41. Hi Butch,
    I'm glad I found your blog. Your message strikes me as down to earth and rational and the product of a man with a functioning BS detector.

    Thanks for everything over the years

    bk, dallas

  42. Given the enormous power this New super committee has and the implications of their decisions...
    We need everyone to contact their congressmen and Rep's ASAP...
    and get this bill H.R.2860 - Deficit Committee Transparency Act passed ASAP!!!

    We don't have much time
    Read the bill here...

    Contact you reps by starting Here...

  43. Hi Butch,

    While I agree with some of the statements that Oteil made, I do think we should keep as much money in our own pockets. I am an avid supporter of a flat tax and get rid of many of the loopholes and the feds could collect a good amount of money. I do though see the need for infrastucture to be done. I do find the fact that you place no blame for the economic mess on the federal government which I disagree with. The policies fannie and freddie created (under Carter) which strove to make home ownership easier for people, while being an good idea completley backfired when tried. the feds pushed just as hard for some of those crazy mortgage policies and told banks that the feds would back the loans. Yes the Mortgage companies need to take blame too because they went crazy with giving them out but Fannie and Freddie and the Fed need to take 50% of the blame for this as welll, the blame cannot be just left to the private sector, the gov played a role and a big role in this too. I would never say pay no taxes, I know there is a need but i think that 25-30% of a flat tax with minimal loopholes for everyone would bring in a lot more dough than we have now! I also think the financial crisis was not just one side it was both working hand in hand. Hey thanks for listening and keep up the great tunes and blogs - Dave from MA

  44. Butch

    I couldn't agree more. With organisations as vast as federal government there are always going to be problems with money being mis-spent, mis-appropriated or simply mis-placed. But that doesn't mean the concept of taxing the population in order to spend money on services for the population is a bad idea.

    Quite the contrary: as you point out, the services provided in return for your tax dollar (or, in my case, pound) are simply too numerous to mention and are in most cases taken entirely for granted.

    It seems that essentially people object to the idea of their taxes being spent on things which may not be of direct personal benefit, such as health-care for the poor. It's symptomatic of the "me" attitude which is promoted by rampant capitalism.

    Things will never change for the better until people realise that the fundamental inequalities in society, which are the root cause of most of society's problems, need to be addressed by giving up a little more of what you have to those who have less.




  46. Butch you seem to be as misinformed as many of the people leaving comments. No one knows it all, but many have an opinion. I'll just comment on the "Budget Surplus" that you say Bush inherited.
    This has been repeated over and over and is simply not true. The "Budget Surplus" you speak of was actually based upon CBO projections over a ten year period based upon the continued success of the DOTCOM craze and we all know what happened there. The truth is with the failure of the DOTCOM era the economy was already in a steep decline when President Bush took office. So he did not inherit a Surplus just the opposite.

  47. Butch, I know I am late to this site, but I was brought up in the Southern Appalachian coal fields, where L.B.J. started the Great Society. I have seen more government programs that you have played gigs. Every one should take note of the results, a school system that has barely moved off the bottom, a great army of lawyers that will get you full disability if you get bumped into at Wal-Mart, and a population totally addicted to pain killers with an abundance of doctors to write the scripts. This has not been under Ronnie’s watch but a long line of local, state and federal democrats. I like you want a solution, but if you look at the results of this 50 year socioeconomic experiment, you would say it is a disaster. I am all for government spending that works, but to perpetuate your own business in the form of programs I am not.

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  49. The idea of "my money," or the idea seems to point to an idea that the production and distribution of energy is measured and valued by what an individual can accumulate and the agency he/she has in controlling the distribution. I do not have an issue with this perspective until it undercuts or overlooks the systemic and social nature of the production and distribution of energy. I think it is important to remember how the money came into your hands to begin with and view it as a social process that extends over time space and place. People choose to buy the albums, but the roads you drive are often payed by people who do not know who you are.

    You (Oteil) play a bass designed and built by other people. You play songs written by other people. You drive on roads paid for and paved by other people. Most of the land you perform and live on was owned by other people who met a horrible end so the concept of "my money" could take root. I am all for criticizing how production and redistribution works. However, I am hesitant at overemphasizing assessments that examine power from individual accumulation models.

    I had a chance to meet Butch and the rest of the Band a few years back. I got to hang out and meet with people. I appreciated the hospitality shown by the Elder Statesmen and sadly experienced some attitudes displayed by some others that emphasized the "my" or "me" perception of relationships with many things including the abundance of prime rib and Pepsi (I was told not to touch;)even though we had brought some collards, chicken, and other delicacies (we were a crew of Southern people, both African and Indian with some cooking skills) for the Band to enjoy.

    This made me realize the extent to which marketization can creep into a musical experience and sell it as a "Brotherhood."
    It made me sad. Granted, boundaries are important and I am sure all of the attention and hangers on are annoying. I still got the impression that I could be a thief if I drank a cup of coffee.

    I was refreshed to find that Butch still had the "Brotherhood" as a part of his identity. My experiences at the shows and these posts affirm that to an extent. I appreciate his talent, perspective, and kindness. He knows a lot about dogs, too. To some of the younger are of a different generation and framework. I hope you come to understand that "my money" was someone else's at some point and that it's value is mediated and assigned through social mechanisms and circumstances that do not rely on individual accumulation assessments of value. To an extent, we are all in the "Band." We just need to make that work, together.

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