Jon Stewart on Fox's response to Warren Buffett's "socialism"

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223 Responses to “Jon Stewart on Fox's response to Warren Buffett's "socialism"”

  1. tw15 says:

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  2. Saltine says:

    Son of Thunder? Taxation is theft? Hyperbole much?

    The idea of the social contract is pretty old. Might want to read up on it. It was not written by a communist, believe it or not! Heck, even Adam “Invisible Hand” Smith thought proportional taxation was a good idea.

    • jackrabbitslim says:

      Hey now! Slander is verbal. What Son of Thunder did is libel Warren Buffett, thank you very much.

      Sorry, that was in reply to lesbianjesus. Still not used to the new layout.

  3. lesbianjesus says:

    Son of Thunder, if he pays more himself, that doesn’t give the government the kind of money they would get if they raised the rate, even if he gave it all.

    I like how in the same sentence you call taxation theft, and then slander him because you think he pays lawyers to avoid being robbed in this “theft” scheme.

    Warren Buffett has donated another $1.5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, part of his plan that began in 2006 to donate 99 percent of his wealth.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43677757/ns/us_news-giving/t/buffett-donates-billion-gates-foundation/

    • Actually it wasn’t the same sentence. Also, I didn’t evaluate whether or not he did the right thing by avoiding taxes (I think it is the right thing to do), I was simply pointing out his hypocrisy.

      Taxation is theft is a statement of fact. The social contract is a myth. I never agreed to be robbed to pay for things, good or bad. If I want something, I’ll pay for it voluntarily. Unfortunately in today’s world the government has a monopoly on so much that it just isn’t possible.

      • Michael Flynn says:

        “The social contract is a myth.” Clearly that’s more true for some of us than for others.

      • Gutierrez says:

        What do you think your proportionate share of public infrastructure and military and police protection costs?  I guess we could make all roads toll roads, and set up local contracts that you pay the police and fire department for protection.

        How much will you pay to ensure while you’re on a trip you can use their roads or public works? What if you fall ill or get robbed on the road?  Who do you pay then to get help?

        Sorry to be feeding.

      • Zyr says:

        So I guess you don’t drive on public roads, or call the police when a crime is committed against you, or the fire department if there’s a fire, and of course you’ve memorised the direct number of the hospital in case there’s an accident (wouldn’t want to use that 911 service you never volunteered to pay for).

        Also, if I listened correctly, the proposed tax increase would only affect the top 2% or the population, which wouldn’t cover small business owners anyway.

      • ChicagoD says:

        All I ask is that you stop using the resources I am paying for. And I mean ALL of them.

        It would be very inefficient to have to pump quarters into machines all over the country to pay-as-you-go for every resource you used. It would almost make more sense to pay a fixed amount and have the services just . . . be there. How could we administer something like that?

        • As I said, if there wasn’t a government monopoly on them, I would stop using them. Unfortunately there are no alternatives.

          By the way, you use “resources” that you have to “pay as you go” for all of the time. It’s really not that difficult. The resources that the government controls would be a hundred times better if they were voluntarily funded.

          • Gutierrez says:

            So do we voluntarily fund programs at a local or national level?  What is the breakdown of those programs?  It’s not that the idea of letting someone have more direct control over what they fund or that more transparency in the taxation and budget process is a bad idea at all, but how do you break that up and present the options to the American people?  Your election of officials who control the budget, vote on tax rates, and appropriate money to local causes are your say in how much and to whom you pay.

            Removing the tax only makes creating a budget an even greater bureaucratic and logistic nightmare.  If you want to pay less and pay for certain causes, you go control that with your vote and your voice.

            This feeding smells like America.

          • In a free country, we would voluntarily fund programs at the individual level.

          • Gutierrez says:

            I understand what you’re trying to say.  Citizens should have direct control over the government, and be able to control where all their money goes.  That’s fine.  But at what level are these programs divided?  Are they local or national?  Categorical or specific?  Who gets to decide the categorizations?

            Do we present you with a list of every single road in the United States and ask you which ones you plan fund?  What about a list of schools?  Electrical power?  Public spaces?  Police departments?  Fire departments?

            An individual doesn’t have time to decide every aspect of where their money goes, and the moment you start to create broader categories, whoever is doing that is deciding where some of your money is going for you and you no longer have all the control you desire.

            It’s an issue of transparency in budgeting at that point.

          • LOL, I think you missed my point entirely.

            I believe government is fundamentally immoral and is basically equal to slavery.

            I think individuals should have direct control over their lives, and nobody else should have control over them, provided they follow the non-aggression principle.

            I find it funny that you think it’s impossible for an individual to decide every aspect of where their money goes, but for some reason some wise overlords in Washington will be smart enough to plan out the millions of decisions that the millions of individuals in this country make on a daily basis.

          • Ethan says:

            Huh… I think of slavery as being immoral, not amoral. But to each his own.

          • Ferd Burfel says:

            Well he also clearly doesn’t understand slavery.  He seems to think slaves could just up and leave like he can this country.  Needless to say Son of Thunder, they couldn’t.

          • Zyr says:

            If things worked the way they should, then yes, the people in Washington would make those choices, as they are suppose to represent the people. Unfortunately, they really just represent themselves.

          • Gutierrez says:

            Well, you are partway there. Congress is not planning out the millions of decisions themselves.  The larger budget is a set of decided budgets from various other departments put together by bids from contractors, local governments putting up funds in hopes to get funding help, and other millions of individuals putting together the list of funding they feel they need to get their jobs done already.

            I want a clearer picture of what you are looking for.  Do we present these items to the public and hold a referendum on what line items in this budget they are willing to fund and by how much?  Make pledges like for public TV and then toss the items that don’t make the grade?

            Do we allow people to advertise their pet products to get recognition?  How do we keep the public informed about everything in the budget?  I’m still all for a transparent and clear budget.

          • SeattlePete says:

            “I think individuals should have direct control over their lives, and
            nobody else should have control over them, provided they follow the
            non-aggression principle.”

            You have this.  As others have stated, nothing is keeping you here in this country.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  Use the glorious hand of the free market to become king of Somalia as Maggie pointed out 45 minutes ago.

          • Ted Rockwell says:

            “I think individuals should have direct control over their lives, and nobody else should have control over them, provided they follow the non-aggression principle.”

            You are the very model of a modern major anarchist. 
            Anarchy is an overrated idea that is the plaything of privilege.

          • Joshua Rogers says:

            So, what mechanism do you believe, in your no-government utopia, would cause anyone to follow the “non-aggression principle”?  Without an agreement among the majority to do some things together (because that is what government is really), what would prevent the strong from preying on the weak?  The immoral from taking advantage of the moral?

          • You must be an anarchist. I understand your sentiment, but security and many of the luxuries you take for granted are provided through your taxes. To expect that everyone will freely give towards necessities without being made to is giving far too much credit to the human race. Governments are put in place to ensure we don’t acquiesce in doing our part to maintain as high a standard of living as we can. Yes, governments can fall prey to corruption, but with the alternative of hunting my own meals and fending off grizzly attacks in the woods, I’ll take my chances here for a while.      

          • Noah Nickels says:

            In this same free country do we allow companies to regulate themselves? I think that worked out real well in the 1900s. Read ‘The Jungle’ before you begin to trust the basic nature of the corporation.

          • kP says:

            I suggest you read the “Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” and decide if you really still believe this.

          • EeyoreX says:

            “Unfortunately there are no alternatives”

            Evidently you didn’t read Maggie Ks reply. I think her suggested alternative really solves all your percieved injustices in one broad stroak, and untill you adress that you should just shut up.

          • kP says:

            Libertarian clap-trap…. blah blah blah….

          • Pascal says:

            A hundred times better for rich people and a hundred times worse for the other 80% of us.  Sorry, doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

        • ppdd says:

          What quarters?  Are you talking about the quarters our government issues?  

        • zachstronaut says:

          ChicagoD is onto something.

          Let’s say we get rid of all tax and all government tomorrow.  I still need ambulance service, fire service, electric service, phone service, etc etc etc etc etc.  So, some corporation offers this service.  (And to be fair, I’m sure they will come up with a really clever way to bill me and others that we all find very convenient — so no problem there.)

          But, we’re going to let the market sort itself out. Let the market regulate itself.  So what happens?  Are we going to have 1000 local phone companies?  We don’t now… We have a couple very big ones.  Are we going to have 1000 local power companies?  We don’t now… We have several very big ones.  Businesses grow and merge and get bigger and bigger.

          So now, rather than a trillion dollar tax funded government service, I instead have a trillion dollar fee funded business providing the service.

          This is where the people who like this idea very much will say “yes, and the business version will be cheaper and better.”

          But it isn’t always cheaper or better.  And, when you only have a single option to pick from, this is a problem.  However, when your single option is the government, you can vote for that problematic service to change.  When your single option is a business, your only option for complaint is to not spend you money on that business.  This is very difficult if the business in question provides electricity or ambulance service.

          So, why must government get smaller, but it is ok for business to get bigger?

      • OtherMichael says:

        ” The social contract is a myth.”

        No, it’s not. If you do not agree to be robbed to pay for things, swim to an offshore island and set up your own republic [uh, and please don't drown on the way, because our Coast Guard will have to pull you out of the water].

      • Bill says:

        I never agreed to have to use money or pay for the things that I want.  

      • Joshua Ochs says:

        I’m going to go with the idea that you’re a really dedicated and expert troll, as otherwise such selfishness is… impressive.

      • Spinkter says:

        Hey! You’ll love living in Somalia.  Never need to worry about government theft there…

      • Judonerd says:

        How the hell are you going to pay for roads and police and a general lack of anarchy privately? Do you own 1.25% of one police officer and 6 feet of road?

      • Glen Thayer says:

        Really? You would want to “voluntarily” pay for the road outside your residence, your water connection…the list is endless. Making statements like taxation is theft is just ignorant. If you feel that taxation is theft back up your words with action. Please move into some remote area of the world and live of the land in complete isolation.

      • Pascal says:

        So then we should have no taxes?  Which means that we should have no government since there are no taxes to pay for it?  Which means we’re living in anarchy?  So only rich people should get to go to good schools?  Have clean water?  Safe food and drugs?  Police/Fire?  All that should be privatized?  You should take a moment and think about what you say you want.  When it comes down to it, I don’t think you’d enjoy having a privatized military and police (do you really think they’d work in your best interest?), along with privatized firemen.  How are the poor supposed to survive?  Or are we supposed to just forget about them?

        • Mike says:

          Anarchism is a philosophical orientation and historic movement that opposes hierarchy in all forms (theocracy, capitalism, the state).  It proposes a highly organized system of governance based on workers self management, solidarity, mutual aid, federalism, etc.

          Rich people wouldn’t exist in an anarchist system. Nothing would be privatized because private property wouldn’t exist. The effective tax rate would be essentially 100% because all wealth would be socialized for the worker-self-managed collectives to decide to use as they see fit in an egalitarian democratic fashion.

        • David Fisk says:

          Pascal….did you know that up until the civil war there was no income tax? The government functioned just fine without out, and only started the income tax to pay for the war.

          • Ethan says:

            And nothing has changed about the world in the last 150 years that might account for the change in what, why, & how much is taxed?

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            Ha, I know right?  It shouldn’t be a problem to turn back the clock to antebellum*, agrarian times.

            *read between the lines and you see what much of the motivation for this antebellum fetishism is. 

          • David Fisk says:

            Well, Ethan, the government has never met a tax it didn’t like. Once they started taxing people to pay for war, they realized they can start taxing for all kinds of things and, well, here we are today. What the nation has become is not what the founding fathers had in mind. If you read many of their writings, you’ll see they were more libertarian than the teachers in public school made them out to be.

          • Brainspore says:

            What the nation has become is not what the founding fathers had in mind.

            Thank heavens for that. Because you know what’s even more like slavery than paying income tax? Fucking SLAVERY, that’s what.

          • andyhavens says:

            I grew up in Boston, and was weaned on reverence for our Founding Fathers, especially John Adams. Who said things like:

            A government of laws, and not of men.

            Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.

            Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.

            The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries.

            There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a
            free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to
            endanger the public liberty.

            Take from those what you will…

            In addition, I’d remind you that our FFs lived in an agrarian society where 90% of the people lived on farms, and 99% worked, to one degree or another, in food production and distribution, all so that most of the people could be almost starving most of the time. These were, largely, remote and independent people. Even so, the FFs managed to contrive one of the most successful institutions for the growth of business and industry in history; the modern US patent system (which is now being gamed by lawyers — not the government — to the detriment of us all).

            As soon as you invent carts, you need roads and road management. Invent electricity, you need wires. Telephones, poles.

            And as soon as you invent a way for Company A to spew toxic chemicals into the commons, you need some way to say, “Yo, dudes. Your right to build Mercuries ends at my right to not have mercury in my drinking water.” Crap like that is complicated, my brother.

          • Guest says:

            ‘Man’ ‘men’ ‘my brother’…

            FTP.

          • andyhavens says:

            The “man” and “men” were part of quotes from Mr. Adams. I assume David is a man, with the name “David” and so address him as brother.

            What are we talking about here?

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            David,
            Respectfully, not all citizens think that strictly following the conflicting thoughts of the founding fathers for centuries on, and in a completely different kind of world is sensible or sustainable.

          • Brainspore says:

            …did you know that up until the civil war there was no income tax?

            Did you know that up until the civil war there were entire populations of human beings in this country who had no legal rights whatsoever?

          • David Fisk says:

            Brainspore, yes there were people that had no legal rights, but that has nothing to do with taxes.

          • Brainspore says:

            …yes there were people that had no legal rights, but that has nothing to do with taxes.

            I’m not so sure about that. At any rate it certainly undermines the idea that the government was functioning “just fine” prior to the civil war. For a lot of Americans it wasn’t just dysfunctional, it was effectively nonexistent.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            Like the ones that were considered 3/5ths human.  So much for “All men are created equal”…

          • Ferd Burfel says:

            That is one of the best points anyone has made here yet.  Our government has never been perfect.  Which is why I get such a kick out of people harkening back to our ‘founding fathers’.  The ones who owned slaves.

            This country has been and always will be imperfect.  But that is far from evil or wrong.

            The implication that we’d be better off if we brought back 235 year old laws and thinking is so asinine. 

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Brainspore, yes there were people that had no legal rights, but that has nothing to do with taxes.

            So you don’t feel that mass slave labor might have had just the teensiest effect on the economy that made it possible for non-slaves to live off the fruit of slave labor?

            Next!

          • Hollando says:

            Beautiful.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            Pascal….did you know that up until the civil war there was no income tax? The government functioned just fine without out, and only started the income tax to pay for the war.

            Those were the days.  No national standing army (to say nothing of the tanks and fighter jets and aircraft carriers).  No interstate highway system.  No NTSB.  No FAA.  No FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, CPSC, FDA, FCC, FDIC, and certainly no Social Security or Medicare.  No 14th amendment and no women’s suffrage, so only the white male landowners could vote.  A life expectancy of under 44 years if you were white, half that if you were black.  A national population approximately 5 million smaller than today’s population of California.

            What, exactly, did the government do on behalf of the people back then?  As much as you might gloat at the prospect of having a federal government consisting of two dozen file clerks, a handful of circuit judges, a general, an admiral, a postmaster and a U.S. Marshal or two, the fact is that the government needed no income tax before the Civil War because the nation was largely one big, bucolic, lawless, vast stretch of unexplored emptiness.  The robber barons of Industry were wholly unchecked in their murderous and rapacious exploitation of people, land, and resources.  There was no PBS, NEA, or NPR because the technology didn’t exist, but a quarter of the population couldn’t read anyway, nor could they get to a museum or see a show very often.  A third of all boys between the ages of 10 and 15 worked for a living, with no government oversight or intervention.

            To my way of thinking, this was not a golden era of appropriately-small government. This was an era of every-man-for-himself, primitive frontier life.  Sure, the government was tiny and operated on a tiny budget.  It wasn’t trying to regulate pollution, exploitation, child labor, automotive safety, air traffic control, electronic commerce, consumer product safety, business monopolies, insider trading, unfair business practices, or infrastructure maintenance.  It wasn’t trying to encourage scientific development, or international competitiveness, or high educational standards, or child protection, or fire prevention, or national security beyond keeping a weather eye out for invading fleets.  You might think that we were better off back when government didn’t involve itself in any of these matters.

            Once again, Somalia beckons.  And you say it’s too expensive to move?  Ship your stuff out of the country.  Get a couple of connecting flights and get your ass out.  Stroll down the jetway in Aden Adde… uh, that is, K50 airport.  Renounce your American citizenship.  You say they’ll want to keep taxing you for ten years?

            Why do you think they’d be willing or able to come and get you?

          • Mark Wurden says:

            “Ship your stuff out of the country. Get a couple of connecting flights and get your ass out. Stroll down the jetway in Aden Adde… uh, that is, K50 airport. Renounce your American citizenship.” 

            Likewise.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            Don’t wanna.  I like paying taxes.

      • No, you’re still wrong. Again, I suggest a simple dictionary consultation will alleviate your confusion. Theft is theft; taxation is taxation. You can disagree with the need for taxation, or the legitimacy of its underpinnings, but it isn’t theft. Calling one thing something it is not is factually wrong. You are attempting to be metaphorical: taxation is LIKE theft. This of course is not literally true. You are attempting to make a non-literal equation to assert an option.

      • Ray Mercier says:

        So get off my taxpayer-paid roads, stop using my taxpayer-paid air/water quality controlled systems, stop using my taxpayer-paid system of government so stop using our national defense budget so go ahead and go voluntarily fight off dissidents in a third world country so you can come back home using your own bloody jet so you can stop using our programs that help our veterans. Stop using any sort of service wherein people who have to live on wage labor (and therefore assisted by the government), which means stop using any sort of food because it’s all trucked to you by some poor overworked SOB trying to make ends meet driving on those dreader taxpayer-paid-for roads you somehow hate, while having to pay for the maintenance on his own truck.

        Stop using our education system, stop letting the government house criminals in any sort of prison that has any ties to the government. Wait, you couldn’t use the police, so go ahead and fight off criminals by yourself. Put out your own fires, create your own electricity, school your own children, hunt and gather your own food. Unless you can pay everyone to do all of this for you, and only you, can you even begin to contemplate that the social contract is a myth. 

      • Andrew Conlon says:

        Could you please stop using my roads, emergency services, and military then, please.

      • Hollando says:

        “If I want something, I’ll pay for it voluntarily. ”

        Is this some meta-joke?
        If serious, I am sure you mean well, but please explain how you will put a value on the myriad of benefits you derive on a daily basis from things that the social contract created and is paying for.

        Are you so out to lunch that you think a modern society, especially one of 350 million, could function on a pay-to-play basis?
        If nothing else, can you say “transaction costs”?

          So, to paraphrase Holmes, how are *you* planning on paying for your civilization?

  4. ZikZak says:

    Small business owners 1) Aren’t generally rich 2) Don’t generally exist, at least as a significant percentage of the economy.
    We talk about our economy as though we’re a nation of middle class business owners and entrepreneurs, when in fact most of us are working class employees.  Why is that?

  5. Michael Flynn says:

    He really does a great job of showing the echo chamber – that was more scary than funny to me.

  6. Ethan says:

    Uh, I don’t get your point, Son of Thunder. Warren Buffett is supporting the idea that billionaires should pay more in taxes. So unless you’re a billionaire, he isn’t talking about taking money out of your pocket (if anything, such a change is likely to eventually give you a tax cut).

  7. Gulliver says:

    Ordinarily I prefer some Daily Show and Colbert Report right before I go to bed at night. A good laugh helps me sleep better. But this was worth watching in the morning, usually my time for perusing the non-fake news. Stewart was in rare form.

  8. SeattlePete says:

    http://www.sba.gov/advocacy/7495/8420

    I was going to ask for a citation but I knew this figure was bogus so I just spent 20 seconds googling this myself.

    Small businesses:

    “Employ just over half of all private sector employees.”

    Unless Son of Thunder wants to provide some evidence that the Small Business Administration is a government entity and therefore lying Socialists.

  9. Sam says:

    Weird, Son of Thunder’s comments sound an awful lot like this piece from RedState:

    http://www.redstate.com/agconservative/2011/08/15/the-ignorance-of-warren-buffet/

    The fact is, if you want to live in a reasonably ordered nation, you will have to give some sort of governing body money to manage that society. That’s not theft, it’s more like dues. If that’s a social contract you don’t accept, you are perfectly free to renounce your citizenship and move to Ethiopia where there is no functioning government to interfere with your daily life.

    PS: Good luck getting a refrigerator to run in a place without electricity.

    • Gyrofrog says:

      I am assuming you meant Somalia.  The Ethiopian government does plenty of interfering with people’s daily lives.

      Speaking of Somalia, anyone else remember SomaliAnarchy.com, “Defending and Celebrating Somalis’ Freedom and Prosperity?”

  10. DianneS says:

    Yeah! Like, roads. Ima gonna pay for that shit myself. Gonna get me a grader and some rock base and some concrete and some asphalt. Sure it’s gonna take some time, but I can do it after work, get up early, you know, be PRODUCTIVE! WORK HARDER!

  11. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    Taxation is theft is a statement of fact. The social contract is a myth. I never agreed to be robbed to pay for things, good or bad.

    I look forward to the day when everybody who claims this finally gets on a goddam ship and leaves. I hear Somalia is beautiful this time of year. Go knock yourself out*. 

    *And now you have cholera. 

  12. Son of Thunder – you should read Snow Crash. Not only is it just a great, fun read, but it also gives the reader a glimpse of what the world would look like if all things – roads, prisons, police forces, etc. were privatized. Personally, I don’t want corporations controlling my life, and believe it or not, that’s what living without a social contract would end up as. There are ways to live with absolute freedom, even in today’s society. Go find one of those instead of trying to take away the lower class’ lifeline.

  13. Bill says:

    If everyone should pay income tax then everyone should own stock.   

  14. Matthew says:

    I don’t have cable.  I think I will keep it that way so that I will NEVER accidentally turn to the Fox News channel.  It’s unbelievable how greedy and reprehensible the people on that channel are.  And the sad thing is, from these little clips, I hear the same soundbites used by Republican politicians.  I mean, they don’t even pretend to be anything other than the Republican Propaganda network.  Karl Rove and John Huckabee as analysts?  Really?  Fair and Balanced?  Really?  Apparently, a billionaire like Warren Buffett is a traitor because he’s willing to pay a more fair share of taxes, whereas everybody on Fox News and in the Republican party wants a society where the rich pay no taxes, and the poor are just slaves I guess.

  15. John Poe says:

    In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.
    Voltaire

    • I like the HL Mencken (sic?) quote:
      “Elections amount to little more than advance auctions of stolen property.”

      • Pascal says:

        Stolen?  Like stolen from the Indigenous Americans?  I’m more than willing to leave this country as soon as anyone who doesn’t have “red” skin does the same.  I’m sure that your native Ireland/Italy/Germany/Russia/Poland/etc. will take you back…oh, wait, no they wont.

  16. lknope says:

    Boy, am I ever tired of the misleading “half of all Americans don’t pay any federal taxes” talking point.  A rational person hearing that would think, Gee, why are so many people not even earning a living wage? but instead their conclusion is “Lazy free-loading bums!”  As if most people WANT to earn so little and be unproductive.  Do they actually know anybody like that?  I don’t.

      • lknope says:

        Probably because you are neither rich nor speak for anyone who is.

      • Gyrofrog says:

        Actually, I do too.  However, I don’t think this equates to everyone using these programs not genuinely needing the assistance.

        I also do not believe that reducing or eliminating these programs would affect anyone’s income taxes by one cent. (At the same time, I’m not sure that reducing or eliminating DoD, DoJ, or DHS would reduce anyone’s taxes, either.)

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

      Boy, am I ever tired of the misleading “half of all Americans don’t pay any federal taxes” talking point.

      My family is a microcosm of America: my wife and I work and pay federal income taxes, and our two young children don’t.  That’s half the Americans in my family, not paying any federal taxes, and it seems perfectly reasonable.

      When I was a kid, I didn’t pay income taxes.  When I was in college, there were years I didn’t make enough to pay income taxes.  If I retire without a whole lot of investment income, I won’t be paying income taxes.  I don’t have a problem with people in these situations, despite the fact that I’m paying taxes now, because I’ve been in two of those categories and might someday end up in the third.  It’s not unfair or unreasonable.

      • lknope says:

        I watched the clip again and according to Fox “News,” half of all American households don’t pay any income taxes but I suppose you could be right if we knew how many college students and retirees there were compared to households with working family members.

  17. Mordicai says:

    I can’t get enough of the rich propagating a system of class war.  I just can’t understand how they don’t look around them & go “oh wait, crap I am just made of meat, if this gets all French Revolution I am totally screwed.”

    • jackrabbitslim says:

      They do! At least some of them do. Don’t you remember, when the financial crisis first blew up there were all those Wall Street guys buying handguns in case the “populists” came for their blood?

      • Mordicai says:

        True enough.  Wouldn’t it be great if the government protected us against financial crimes like that, like when those guys knowingly gambled on a system they knew had to eventually fail?  Oops, I guess I’m a socialist!  I hate having massive systemic white collar crime ruin my life!  Socialist pinko!

    • SeattlePete says:

      They all look around them and say that.  Buffetts response is the correct one, work for equality and when the time comes you’ll probably be one of the last ones eaten.  Other mega-rich take a different track and fund FOX-like mouth pieces and try to ham-string the education of the lower class in an effort to retain their money and hides.  The ultra-rich are not stupid but they certainly don’t read much history.

  18. That’s “Buffett”…two t’s.  Warren Buffet is an all you can eat dining establishment run by sentient, talking rabbits.  Can someone fix the headline.

    Also, this truly does ginger my blood.  Let’s have a war…

  19. jackrabbitslim says:

    People still say “Socialist” with, like, a hiss in their voice. What is this, 1947? “Oh no, the Commies!” Seriously, if it weren’t so fuckin’ cold there I’d be in Denmark like a shot. 

  20. RobDobbs says:

    I hate that Comedy Network cuts this feed off at the knees. If anyone in Canada finds a (non-proxy) version of this online, could you post a link please? 

  21. David Fisk says:

    actually,  taxation IS theft. It is money taken from you by the threat of force. If you don’t pay income tax, what happens? they throw you in jail. If you don’t pay property tax, what happens? they take your home. It’s not a social contract because the government is in no way obligated to protect the people. You can’t sue the cops if they don’t show up. You can’t sue the federal government for the wars going on because those wars put us in danger. They are unaccountable. Son of Thunder is correct in most of his thinking. He comes from a school of though based on Austrian economics and libertarianism. Before everyone shoots his ideas down (because you seem to have been brainwashed in government schol), maybe you should do some research on Austrian economics and the people behind those ideas. Look at where those ideas have actually worked, and look at history to see that what the federal government is doing now doesn’t work, and will lead to the failure of government. I see all the uneducated critique of an idea that most of you don’t even understand.

    • Ethan says:

      So murder being against the law is also theft because the right to do it is taken from us by threat of force?

    • EeyoreX says:

      I see all the uneducated critique of an idea that most of you don’t even understand

      I assume what you see is a lot like gazing into a mirror.

    • zachstronaut says:

      David Fisk… how are you supposed to sue the private corporation you pay for policing service when they don’t show up either if there’s no government?

      Or, are you not being clear, and you’re saying the single role of government should be a court system whereby people can sue businesses?

      • David Fisk says:

        zachstronoaut: I don’t think I was clear. If a private company doesn’t have the protection of being a corporation, then the people that run that company can be held responsible for the actions of that company, so then they themselves can be sued, making them less likely to be the “evil corporations” everyone likes to talk about. So, if you have a private protection company that you pay for, and they don’t show up, you can sue them for loss and damages. You can’t do that with the police as it stands now. If they don’t show up in an emergency, or are take to long to show up, you are SOL. It’s happened to me, and I had no recourse.

        • Corwin Joy says:

          Um, good luck with suing a company for failing to provide a critical service.  Look what has happened with medical insurance companies who have repeatedly failed to approve life saving procedures.  These companies have managed to get laws passed like ERISA, limiting their damages so that don’t care if they are sued.  Why would you expect other large scale privatized services to behave differently?  (See e.g. the recent cases of privatized prisons lobbying for longer and more mandatory sentencing).

    • Dylan Merriam says:

      Or maybe because “Austrian Economics” aren’t based on any sort of scientific fact or mathematical basis. in fact, while austrian economics provide for much criticism of traditional economics methodologies, they don’t offer any alternatives to those methodologies. there is a reason that austrian economics are considered outside the mainstream of economics.  while looking into your claim about countries that use Austrian economics and i couldn’t find any, other than medieval iceland. if you could fill me in on that, i would love to hear about who uses it.

    • Daniel says:

      First of all, it’s pretty presumptuous of you to assume that none of us have heard or looked into the Austrian school.  There’s another possibility: people have looked at and simply weren’t convinced.

      For example, you say “look at where those ideas have actually worked.”  That’s part of the problem.  There is no place I can look where they have actually worked.  There is no place on earth that has ever been a glorious paradise of tax-free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and plenty. 

      I really don’t understand why people so obsessed with economics don’t understand the idea of “no free lunch.”  Your best chance of success in life to live in a stable, prosperous society where people engage in commerce in good faith and rarely engage in criminal activity.  Like almost everything desirable in life, this is not free.  To get the benefits of living in such a society you pay taxes.  It really is that easy.  If you don’t like it move somewhere that doesn’t have an effective tax collection bureaucracy (I keep hearing Somalia thrown around).

    • Ferd Burfel says:

      This is such a load of nonsense that I don’t even know where to begin.

      First off, nothing anchors you to this country.  You can leave anytime you want.  You do not have to pay any taxes for the simple reason you do not have to be here.  To live in this country you have to pay taxes, as setup by those old guys a few hundred years ago (don’t argue semantics of taxation creation, I’m merely making a point).  If you don’t like how this country operates, go to one that doesn’t have taxation.  Or government.  By living in this country you ARE agreeing to a ‘social contract’.  To disagree you simply have to leave.  David Fisk, you try to drop big words to sound like you know what you are talking about.  You do not.  Unaccountable?  That’s not only misleading, it’s a flat-out lie.  You spew such garbage in your post it’s mind-blowing where to even start.  But I have to agree with an earlier poster, it’s time to stop feeding the trolls.

      And Son of Thunder, your thinking is completely flawed and simplistic.  No experiment in having private industry run government industry has worked all that well.  Simply look at what has happened when private industry has run prisons and police forces.  The corruption and mismanagement was/is SO FAR beyond anything the government runs.  And what do you think would happen if there was no USPS?  I hope you enjoy paying $5 to ship a letter.  Slavery?  Surely you jest!  Actually, I know you aren’t because you aren’t that intelligent.  If it were slavery you would never be allowed to leave.  You can go right now if you choose.  But you choose not to. 

      My final post will be that of a fire department here in the state I live.  Taxes were cut and many fire departments had to close.  To combat that, a volunteer tax was imposed.  If you paid the tax freely, you had fire service.  If you chose not to, then you had no fire protection.  A man decided he didn’t wanna pay the money, that it was an unfair expense and he didn’t need it.  His house caught on fire.  He called the fire department.  They responded to his call.  They did not put the fire out because he had not been paying for the service.  They waited on standby to control the blaze because his neighbor DID pay the tax.  They waited to see if his house would be threatened.  The original man tried to pay on the spot for the service so he could save his house.  After it burned down he tried to sue the city for not putting it out.  That is exactly what happens when you don’t pay a tax.  That is what happens when the ‘evil’ government taxes you to provide basic services.  This country would completely fall apart if everyone was tasked with paying for everything themselves and by choice.  You ideas are flawed and your thinking is child-like.

  22. mikeminer says:

    I think there’s a problem with Stewart’s math. He says you’d have to tax the bottom 50% of the US population at a 50% rate to get $700 billion. But the $700 billion number came over 10 years of taxing the rich. So you’d have to tax the poor at 5% to get the same figure over the same period.

    I don’t quibble because I hate the poor. I quibble because I love math.

    • Pete-O says:

      Please listen to the video again.

      Stewart is not talking about taxing the poor, he’s talking about depriving them of HALF OF EVERYTHING THEY OWN.  Everything.

      I love math too.  The basis of solving an equation is understanding the variables.

    • selfsimilar says:

      But he’s not saying tax at 50%, he’s saying take half of their total net-worth, which would be the equivalent of taxing at over 100%. What he says is ridiculous and is meant to be, but you’re right it’s not quite an apples to apples comparison over the the timespans mentioned.

    • digi_owl says:

      sometimes i wonder if the term X over Y period is specifically designed to confuse. This because it can both be understood to be a total and a per year sum. And with there being a 4 year voting cycle, it is unlikely that anything will last for 10 years when politics is involved.

  23. digi_owl says:

    So simply owning a microwave (never mind how old it may be, those early ones where basically a wind up timer hocked to a power switch and so is likely to not fail until the magnetron goes), is a sign that one is not poor in USA? Damn glad i do not live there. Sadly this kind of thinking seems to be a digitally transmitted infectious agent, as it seems able to cross 10000+ km of water…

  24. Moriarty says:

    Taxation is no more involuntary than the rent on my apartment is involuntary. I’ll get in trouble if I fail to pay either one, but in either case, technically, I can just leave and live somewhere else. I have the chance to renegotiate the terms of my lease every year or two, and I have the chance to collectively renegotiate the terms of taxation every election cycle. (Though in both cases, practically speaking my own negotiating position is pretty bad.) The only differences are 1) scale, and 2) the fact that for me (but not for everyone), one is opt in and one is opt out.

    inb4 “the government isn’t a landlord.” I know. It’s an analogy. A closer analogy would be something like a co-op board, with taxes something like maintenance fees.

    inb4 attacking specific policies – I’m not defending our specific system (with which I have many problems) or any other. I’m only defending the concept of taxation itself.

    • David Fisk says:

      Moriarty, your comparison of taxes to rent is not a good one. When you sign a rental agreement, you are signing a document you enter into voluntarily. Nobody is forcing you to rent anything. Taxes, on the other hand, or not voluntary. Your analogy to a co-op board is also not good because again, that is an example of a private contract you enter into voluntarily.

      To everyone else: Threat of force means the government says “pay us our taxes or we’ll throw you in jail. If you resist we will hurt you”. It really is that simple. It’s no different from when the mob used to go from business to business and say “pay us, or we’ll hurt you”. Now, some of you like that because you think you are getting services in return. Other people don’t like that because they feel their money could be better utilized by a private contractor to do some of the things government does. There are certain things I’d like to see the government get their hands out of, and other things (like roads) that I don’t mind that they handle. Ultimately, it would be great if we could choose where our tax money goes, and the government would then actually do what we want with our tax money, rather than just take it in and spend it willy nilly like they do now.

      The problem with corporations is they are a government created entity. A corporation has governmental protection. The idea of corporations was created by the government as a way to protect the owners and people that run the corporation from civil action from employees. A corporation, in the eyes of the law, is essentially a person. You can sue a corporation if you are fired unjustly, but you can’t sue the boss, or the boss’s boss. Thus, there is no sense of personal responsibility there, and that is why (among other things) you see corporations keeping money and not using it on the employees or new products. If the legal form of a corporation did not exist, and the owners and upper management were held personally responsible for the actions of their companies, then things would be different.

      • Brainspore says:

        It’s no different from when the mob used to go from business to business and say “pay us, or we’ll hurt you”. 

        FYI, the mob still does that in some places. Thankfully the practice is largely kept in check by taxpayer-funded law enforcement agencies.

      • Jonathan Badger says:

        Rent is no more or less voluntary than taxation. You have to live somewhere, and so the only option is to shop around for the best deal, realizing that more expensive apartment buildings often have nice perks like gyms and swimming pools. It’s the same thing for countries — you shop around trading off taxes for perks. And I’m not speaking hypothetically in my case. I’ve lived in two countries and have been considering a third. Places like America have low taxes, but just like cheap apartments, it doesn’t have many perks.

      • Dylan Merriam says:

        i agree with you on this point about corporations. i think that their status as people is ridiculous, but if they must be held to the same status, then they should be taxed as such. that would raise a hell of a lot more money than 700 billion.

    • Ferd Burfel says:

      Exactly.  You can not pay any taxes by not having a job or buying anything.  They don’t come after you if you don’t have any income.  That is what is flawed about his thinking.  They don’t take for the simple sake of taking.

    • Gyrofrog says:

      “A closer analogy would be something like a co-op board, with taxes something like maintenance fees.” Pow.  Actually, I’d agree that taxes are involuntary, but I’m not naive enough to think that some other kind of shake-down wouldn’t simply replace it.

  25. Trent Baker says:

    The only thing keeping the wealthy in power is pure apathy fueled by alcohol and TV programming. If the poor, and yes I am including the middle class in this category, got off their lard arse and donated a few dollars to form a lobby group to represent their interests it would probably have the largest warchest of all. This would be a step towards wresting control of the government away from the elites.
    But it won’t happen.

  26. Peter Anton says:

    Son of Blunder,
    I’ve always thought the roads in Ethiopia were 100 times better than ours, that the police in Nigeria were 100 times better than ours, that the court system in Iran was 100 times better than ours, and that the military in EAST NOWHERE, AFRICA was 100 times better than ours. I’m so relieved to have found someone who agrees with me that it’s better to pay for it yourself than to gather with your neighbors and do it collectively as a society.
    I mean, look at that word, society. Here, I’ll draw it on this here blackboard. The root of this word is socius. You know what other word has that root… yep, you guessed it… SOCialism.
    Come to think of it, rather than feeding the troll on this here ->publicly developed<- set of intertubes, I'm going to switch on over to a 100x better privately funde()AXDJ )!()SDQOSQ
    [No Carrier]

  27. King Coopa says:

    I figured the discussion would be more along the lines of how fair the current tax system is and the realization that the tax system is unbalanced with the top 2%.  Instead we get some asshat in the second post going on a rant about any tax what-so-ever being theft and how evil government is.  I think people who make those claims either a) are in a position where the system they describe benefits them more monetarily (i.e. rich) or b) they’re ignorant and take a lot for granted.

    Son of Thunder, could you at least tell us who you are and what you do for a living so we can get an idea of where you’re making these claims?  For all we know you’re some Koch employee who’s paid to stir up shit on an internet forum.

  28. cap10wow says:

    i absolutely cannot understand why not one person in my entire family tree has ever said “hey, all this groveling and scraping sucks. i think i will just take what i want from now on.”
    being an American is great, but living in our country shouldn’t be this difficult for the vast majority of us.

  29. Navin_Johnson says:

    In that fantasy country, childish, delusional, mealy mouthed, selfish paultards, and ayn rand fanbois would be the first ones voted off the island (aka killed) by the tribe.  You guys would be talking about ‘coercion’ while everyone else was trying to chip in to get the fire started and cobble together a meal.

  30. Brainspore says:

    If the poor, and yes I am including the middle class in this category, got off their lard arse and donated a few dollars to form a lobby group to represent their interests it would probably have the largest warchest of all.

    Either you didn’t see that graphic about wealth distribution or you’re just really bad at math.

  31. ikegently says:

    All – Please ignore Son of Thunder.  He is clearly trying to hijack and get us riled up.  Don’t feed the troll.

  32. Adam Lipkin says:

    You know, Scalzi anticipated this type of trolling when he posted about Buffet:

    “Arguing what level of taxation is appropriate for the well-being of the
    country is one thing. Arguing that taxation is inherently morally wrong
    means you’re foolish and tiresome. Learn the difference between the two.”

  33. Unanimous Cowherd says:

    Please disemvowel Son of Thunder’s posts. He is in clear violation of reality.

    I’m kidding — I’m sure there is at least one leaf of the multiverse where his view of reality exists.

  34. jackrabbitslim says:

    Part of the problem with mobilizing “the people” is the historical right-wing strategy of obfuscating essentially fiscal and or economic issues with “moral” questions, e.g. abortions, gay rights, etc. which do a fantastic job of distracting people from their own best interests. Another aspect is the frankly astounding ability of Fox News and others to convince broke-ass regular folks that they’re rich, or at least middle class, and that the economic benefits that accrue to the wealthy in a Republican-dominated political landscape will there for accrue to THEM, which, obviously, shenanigans, right? Also, they cast it as a moral issue, i.e. “capitalism, hard work and the Protestant work ethic” are the only good and acceptable way of succeeding and accepting help from or providing help to others is weakness and should be crushed out. Which is pretty bleak. Not to mention the fact that the biggest beneficiaries of government largesse are the ultra-rich, not small business owners, not the middle class, not the poor, not people on welfare. 

  35. Spinkter says:

    Regarding the rich:  I say soak ‘em or shoot ‘em.  But hey, we can give them the impression that they’re in control by giving them the choice.

  36. Jim Saul says:

    Now that BB is getting infested with the sockpuppet/astroturfer brigade, is there an “ignore” function available on the new comment system?  

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Now that BB is getting infested with the sockpuppet/astroturfer brigade, is there an “ignore” function available on the new comment system?

      Five flags and a comment goes to the cornfield.

  37. benher says:

    If the rich don’t want “class warfare” they’d do best not to create a poor class, widen it, then taunt it. After all, a lot of poor houses have video game systems and play a lot of CoD, GTA, …

  38. PhosPhorious says:

    Son Of Thunder:  Go Galt.

    Right now. 

  39. HenryPootel says:

    Here I thought there was a new expression in use that I didn’t know. All these posts starting with “Son of Thunder, this is wrong” or “Son of Thunder, where are the facts?” Does anyone have the account “Christ what an asshole”?

  40. ultranaut says:

    If taxation is theft, isn’t that even more reason to raise taxes on billionaires? On the moral spectrum of crime, isn’t stealing from those least harmed by the theft less bad than stealing from those the most harmed by the theft? Isn’t stealing a million dollars from one billionaire less bad than stealing a thousand dollars from a thousand poor people?
    If we must be criminals to maintain our society let us commit the least immoral crimes possible, and let us atone for it by using the proceeds of our crimes to benefit the greatest number of people possible. Civilization is expensive and our culture is dominated by a selfishness and greed that would allow it to fail, we have no choice but taxation.

  41. ultranaut says:

    I really do not like the new comment system as it currently is. If you write a comment and then click post but aren’t yet logged in it can eat your comment and/or break your ability to write comments. I just had one of those “HOLY SHIT I JUST SPENT SO MUCH TIME WRITING AND NOW ITS GONE!!!” moments that no good web form should ever produce. It’s not the first time since the new comment system was implemented.

    • gwailo_joe says:

      Agreed: I lost a good one the other day; right at the last damn phase.  Had to go for a run to ease frustration.

      Jon Stewart is a good guy; just the snippets of hate he shows turn my stomach: but at least I can get a laugh -through clenched teeth-.  What the hell is the matter with some people…

      “Poor” indeed…

  42. andyhavens says:

    @ItsMyBlog:disqus . Here’s the basic paradox that I’ve had to smack my libertarian friends over the heads with for several decades now. Here we go…

    If you believe in private ownership of stuff (mostly land, which all my libertarian friends do), then you have to allow for the individuals that own things/land to agree on ways in which they can be managed at large scales… mostly inasmuch as they intersect/overlap with each other. There is no state that just jumped up, ab nihilo, with rules about taxes, benefits, etc. The rules were agreed upon by the people who (pay attention, now) owned the land (to whatever degree you accept that land can be owned, and/or avoid various previous ownership issues).

    So… let’s make it simple. You and I own (in a wonderful, freedom-loving, libertarian sense of the word) two plots of land. No taxes, no leases, no holds. At one point, we agree that it would make sense to share the costs of building and maintaining a road that runs between our properties, as it would be oh-so-helpful for oh-so-many reasons. So we shake hands, build the road, and agree (in perpetuity) to evenly split the costs for maintaining it, since the benefit accrues to us equally. Now… two generations later, your grandson (who has maintained the road equitably w/ my grandkids), sells the land (as is his right), as 100 separate parcels. Each parcel is now expected to pay for 1/200th of the cost of the road maintenance, and that’s in the sales contract. At some point, one of the parcel owners gives the land to his son, who doesn’t want or need the road and doesn’t want to pay for its upkeep. He didn’t enter into any agreement, he doesn’t like the situation, etc. etc. Should he have to pay for the road? I would say, “Of course.” The land he inherited (a benefit) came along with some responsibilities. You can’t decouple the two, because his property wouldn’t have been worth what his dad paid for it without the road. It wouldn’t have grown without the road. He wouldn’t have neighbors without the road.

    Hopefully, you see the parallels. Our government wasn’t set up by extraterrestrial socialists. It was set up by the people living here. They made decisions about how they wanted to live together and share some resources (rights) and responsibilities (laws). Those decisions have consequences for future generations, even among those who disagree with them.

    Which is the long way of saying, “If you don’t like the hand you’ve been dealt here in the US, take your business elsewhere.” Or change the rules. But enough people (most) disagree with your assessment of “taxes is theft” that you’re probably stuck with a bunch of benefits and responsibilities you aren’t fond (nor aware) of.

    Another short-hand to keep in mind: if taxes are theft, so is any ownership right you claim to anything, anywhere, anytime because it interferes with my definition of the same thing. As soon as you agree on methods of controlling rights, you are agreeing on ways to limit other ways that people might define ownership. The power to define property is a government power. It is (yes) theft, in the broadest sense of the word, in that it steals the right of everyone else to claim ownership to something that is legally understood to be yours.

    • Brainspore says:

      Or, put even more simply, private property does not exist in the absence of government. 

      Without laws and taxes and courts and deeds and such, anything you own is only “yours” until someone else clubs you to death in your sleep and claims it for himself.

      • Navin_Johnson says:

        Which is one of the reasons that humans started cooperating and creating ‘society’ and civilization in the first place since the beginning of human history. Extremist libertarians like that guy are basically fighting against the thrust of human evolution. It’s all an act anyway, I give them a few minutes of life in the actual “free” Thunderdome they want to create.

        • Brainspore says:

          It’s all an act anyway, I give them a few minutes of life in the actual “free” Thunderdome they want to create.

          Even Thunderdome had laws and taxes. True, their Constitution basically amounted to a few rhyming verses (“bust a deal, face the wheel!”) and Tina Turner’s hair spray budget took the lion’s share of government spending, but it was still a more progressive society than most Libertarians support. They even had a renewable energy program!

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            Ha-ha!  Good point:  “Two men enter, one man leaves!”  Listen here, “Doctor” Paul says that….wait….stop…….unggghhhhh!!!!!”

          • Guest says:

            It wasn’t the hairspray. It was the metal outfit she wore. 75 pounds or something like that. Who runs Bartertown? Raggedyman? XD

    • David Fisk says:

      andyhavens: You make a really excellent point with your post. Your example is why I moved from what some people call “complete voluntaryism (sp?)”…meaning no government at all and everything is privately run, to what I’ve heard called “minarchist”, which has been described to me as government should exist to deal with things that are too big for one private company, or even several private companies to deal with. I really used to try to argue for the privatization of all the roads, but came to the realization that doing something like that would be a logistical nightmare, and end up making a lot of people angry. Can you imagine paying a toll every few miles because the ownership of the road changes that often? I can’t. I like the fact that there is an organization that takes care of that stuff. Yes, they are incompetent some of the time, but you know what, I drive around without any issues (for the most part. I’m glad I don’t live in L.A. anymore).

      Son of Thunder seems to be of the complete voluntary interaction/no government at all ilk. That is a really tough pill to swallow for most people, especially those educated in the public school system. We are taught in public (government) schools that government is good and government cares about us. It is a mild form of brainwashing. I know that sounds extreme, but there are days I have to de-program my son from some of the crap he’s been taught in school. So, I understand where Son of Thunder is coming from, but he’s not doing a good job of articulating and backing up his points, which is why I jumped in to try and help explain things. The problem is, some people just don’t believe or don’t agree with the libertarian way of thinking. That’s fine, but when someone says “you can always just leave”, that’s a lot easier said than done. If you want to officially leave the country for good, you have to pay all kinds of fees. They don’t make it cheap. It’s not like going to Italy for vacation. I’m talking about if you make it official to the U.S. government that you are leaving the country for good and don’t want anything to do with them. I have a friend that lives in England that is going through this now because even though he has lived out of the country for 9 years, he still has to pay U.S. taxes (don’t ask me how that works. I have no idea).

      • SeattlePete says:

        So are you saying that because it is expensive and inconvenient to permanently move to a country where there is no government, the aforementioned free-market utopia where there is no public education, EPA, taxes, CDC, Medicare – Somalia – that it’s not worth doing?  Easier said than done sure, but come on.  I mean, we’re slaves in this country being brainwashed by our Socialist overlords right?  The least you could do is start saving up for the move.  Maybe start learning a little Arabic?  Turn those passionate beliefs into action, I say!  Here’s a link to get you started:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Give_Me_Convenience_or_Give_Me_Death

      • andyhavens says:

        David — In the past, my discussions with my “minarchist” friends have ended up with an agreement to disagree on the definition of “small.” What I’ve discovered most of them actually believe in is not small government, but good government. Which I do, too. I have no use for bloated bureaucracies, pork-barrel projects, insanely short-term agendas focused on election cycles or gridlock due to intransigence on unrelated issues.

        The problem is, minarchists define hunger as a food-related illness and conclude that the solution is even less food.

        I learned almost nothing about government (besides some of the simple “How a bill becomes a law” stuff and the history of the US) in my public school education. If anything, my teachers at the time (the 70′s and early 80′s) were a bunch of hippie-leaning, semi-anarchists who taught me to be cynical about both government/politicians’ and big business’ claims to righteousness.

        My main reason for believing in a capitalist economy backed up by lots of social welfare programs is that it just works. The history of the creation of wealth is a story of the movement of ownership from a very few (feudalism) to many (a large, modern middle-class), because of the rules and benefits of states that provided investments in the long-term welfare of their people.

        The role of any individual is to prioritize his/her welfare, and that of the family, over other people. That’s natural and reasonable, even within the bounds of the Golden Rule. The problem, as we know it, is that our definitions of “welfare” are often both very short-sighted and narrow. The role of the state is to get a lot of us together, with varying interests, to agree on long-term, wide-scale projects that will (hopefully) grow the wealth of everyone.

        Public school is a great example. Even if you never went, and never have kids, you are better off living in a country with great public schools. Why? Because the potential for intelligence isn’t inherited along with money. See: Conrad vs. Paris Hilton. The odds are, if you spend some relatively small amount of money on schools, those kids will grow up and do great things for your country. If you only provide good education for those who can pay outright for it, you end up hamstringing your future; all the potentially life-saving (and wealth creating) stuff that those kids could create never materializes.

        Tell me something you don’t think the government should do. Specifically. I might agree with you. But, more than likely, I can provide you with a really reasonable answer as to why we’re better off collaborating (which is what a government is) than competing on it.

        Oh… and to the folks who talk about how the government is “fat cats in Washington making decisions on our behalf,” I say, well… that’s the politicians. Government is more about the fireman, policeman, librarian, teacher and doctor. The politicians are just the admins for the people who really do the work of our country.

      • Navin_Johnson says:

        We are taught in public (government) schools that government is good and
        government cares about us. It is a mild form of brainwashing.

        Good government is good, government corrupted by billionaires and undermined by neoliberal propaganda, not so much.  Our government is run by people that don’t like government which is precisely one of the reasons it fails so much.  One thing we do know is that libertarian fantasies, much like communist utopias, will never exist.

        And as far as dropping off the grid goes, it’s funny that lefty hippies have managed to follow through this more effectively than “Galt” folks have.

        • David Fisk says:

          Navin…your point about left wing dropping off the grid better than libertarians is a good one. I have an aunt that is as liberal as they get. Her and her husband bought some land in the Adirondaks. Her husband literally built their house fromt he ground up. He went in the woods, cut the trees down, and built it. They are completely off the grid. Pretty impressive stuff, if you ask me, and they did it all on their own. 

      • Jonathan Badger says:

        They don’t make it cheap. It’s not like going to Italy for vacation. I’m
        talking about if you make it official to the U.S. government that you
        are leaving the country for good and don’t want anything to do with
        them. I have a friend that lives in England that is going through this
        now because even though he has lived out of the country for 9 years, he
        still has to pay U.S. taxes (don’t ask me how that works. I have no
        idea).

        You don’t have to leave for good. Working and living in another country is a lot easier than most people realize. You don’t have to burn your social security card or anything — you just move.  As for paying US taxes in England, not really in practice. From experience, you have to file taxes in the US if you remain a US citizen living abroad, but you can deduct the income taxes you pay to your host country from your US income tax, so in practice you pay nothing if like most countries, your host country has higher income taxes than the US.

        • themac says:

          You are correct about the taxes paid when living abroad. I went through this myself. I had to file but was exempt from paying anything to the US as long as my income was below 92k a year because I was paying my new country’s local taxes. I think what the previous poster was referring to is the fact that even if you denounce your US citizenship you are still expected to file with the IRS for 10 years after. The embassy explained this to me as stemming from the idea that it takes about 10 years to become fully settled in a new country (community, legal and residency-wise) and often times people reinstate their US citizenship before the 10 year mark so it makes sense for them to contribute until they are really, really established in their new homeland.

      • Joshua Ochs says:

        I can appreciate a broad libertarian view. I don’t personally agree with it – but no one ever said we all had to agree.

        You mention that the government “should exist to deal with things that are too big for one private company, or even several private companies to deal with”. Well, that’s essentially what our government is – it’s the accretion of centuries of such experience.

        The government broadly covers three things:
        1) Things the private sector cannot capably handle. Defense, large-scale infrastructure, etc.
        2) Things the private sector has no particular interest in. Civil rights, social stability.
        3) Things the private sector has an established history of handling poorly. Anti-trust, consumer protection, labor laws, etc.

        I haven’t sat down and looked through all of the departments, but I’d wager the overwhelming majority of government functions could be argued to fall into one of those three buckets. Sometimes it doesn’t do that great a job, and sometimes it oversteps its bounds (let’s face it – there’s a *lot* of gray area whenever we’re talking about something as large as the functioning of human society) – but I’d say this is the kernel of government.

        If we agree on that (do we?), then we’re really just discussing where the line gets drawn.

  43. Martin Christopher says:

    “The Social Contract is a Myth” vs. “…provided they follow the non-aggression principle”
     
    And why should we follow the “non-aggression” principle again?

  44. Aloisius says:

    I love Libertarians. They are so entertaining.

    There was a brief period in my youth where I flirted with libertarianism. Then I realized that a lot of government programs are extremely practical. Paying for people’s education is rather more cost effective compared to say, throwing them in jail when a percentage of them inevitably turned to crime out of desperation. Paying for basic research that no company will touch because it isn’t cost effective in the short term leads to amazing growth in the long term.

    Why you are all are engaging him is beyond me. Do you walk up to the guy on the corner yelling to himself about how aliens are controlling your mind? No. Nor should you engage with zealots be them apple fanboys or ayn rand fanboys.

  45. Mike says:

    I too believe that “individuals [of the working class] should have direct control over their lives, and nobody else should have control over them”, and that’s exactly why I support social services and taxes.

    Capitalism is an unjust system of theft whereby the productivity of workers is stolen by capitalists and their hired managers.  The whole system is enabled by the state: an institution with a monopoly on the use of violence established by capitalists to secure their property “rights” and suppress the ability of workers to take back the wealth that they created in the first place.  Mass strikes and protests are particularly suppressed due to their revolutionary potential.

    So the state is a prison.  Right wing self-described libertarians (better called proprietarians) say they want to abolish the state, but really, in practice, they always appear to just want to abolish the few “good” things that the state does.  They want to cut public infrastructure development, socialized medicine, foodstamps, etc, but they want to keep the violent destructive aspects of the state (imperialist armies, corporate protections, and property serving cops) intact.  To elaborate on the prison metaphor: they say they want to break down the prison we are all in, but they call for the end of the cafeteria and medical clinic and act surprised when us prisoners starve and get sick.  All the while, they continue to defend the prison guards, gangs, and warden.

    Proprietarians are bootlicking authoritarians.  Libertarianism is socialist.

    • andyhavens says:

      Ooh. I like that. One man’s meat is another man’s hunger strike…

    • Peter Zanon says:

      Mike, exactly.

      Libertarianism is socialist. Right-libertarianism is incoherent. Here’s another argument:

      Just about any right-libertarian would be opposed to feudalism (the historic political and economic system in Europe). A right-libertarian also believes in the sanctity of private property. Interestingly, this emphasis on the notion of rightful ownership echoes the conservative literature written during the transition away from historic feudalism (I am especially thinking of the argument for serfdom among tsarists in Russia). So, let’s consider private property and economic freedom as the only rules of a given social system. If the lords of a social system owned the land that their serfs worked, which was the opinion of the feudalists, then, according to liberalism’s property rights, they have the right to make whatever arbitrary rules on the serfs working for them. It’s their land, they can do what they want with it. This includes the right to protect it by force, if necessary. These are economic decisions for them. The serf, in turn, owned no property, and is paid directly in food and rent. In the feudal age, nearly all the reachable land was owned by the lords. Here we see that feudalism can flourish under a system which recognizes only property rights. In short, capitalism and feudalism are completely compatible. One might say that feudal systems are a “subset” of capitalist systems. Once you attempt to make rules to carve away this “feudal” degenerate case out of the larger set of capitalist systems, then private property ceases to be a right, and the philosophy ceases to be libertarian.

  46. Forkboy says:

    “The sun beams down on a brand new day
    No more welfare tax to pay
    Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
    Jobless millions whisked away
    At last we have more room to play
    All systems go to kill the poor tonight

    Gonna
    Kill kill kill kill Kill the poor
    Tonight “

  47. Nytespryte says:

    I really doubt those are the statistics for “owning” appliances.  Rather those are the statistics for living in a place where appliances are present.  I don’t own a refrigerator, I just use the one that comes with my rented apartment.  I do own a washing machine, when I leave it comes with me or I get to sell it.  It matters because it highlights how tenuous and context-dependent these “luxuries” are.  They can disappear quickly with a small change of circumstance.  It just so happens that none of my fairly decent apartments has ever had a dishwasher but some do for about the same price.  It’s dumb luck.  Some tiny, ill-repaired, rat holes do happen to have an old dishwasher, but it barely reflects the livability of the place.

    I also wonder if that only includes appliances in actual working order.

    My friend used to rent a place where everything in the kitchen was defunct and no one went in there.  The rent was skewed low to compensate but I wonder if other places like that with non-working appliances affect the statistics. 

  48. Pascal says:

    I don’t understand why people like you don’t pay attention to what was actually said.  Where in this entire video clip, or in Buffett’s article, did anyone mention small business owners?  He doesn’t want to raise taxes on small businesses but on the wealthiest 2%.  I don’t think any small business owners classify.  Also, you obviously know nothing about Buffett.  He’s not a corporate raider, he’s a long-term investor.  When he buys companies he doesn’t break them down to sell them, he buys them to own them for the long haul.  You are obviously one of those people that gets angry any time the Left proves the Right to be wrong or malinformed.  The problem with that is that you’re content being wrong as long as it’s your position.

  49. Aloisius says:

    What’s really annoying is all those seniors and children getting away with paying no income taxes and receiving a disproportionate amount of federal money! Leeches on society they are. And at almost 40% of the population, they are clearly to blame for our problems!

  50. Paool says:

    I’m fine with billionaires voluntairily donating all day, I don’t want the Govn’t to help them in this endeavor however. You can try and close “loopholes” and what not that lower there taxes if you want I’ll even except that, but I don’t agree with picking out a group and going after them.

  51. Avram Grumer says:

    Son of Thunder, Buffett’s editorial in the NY Times talks exclusively about personal income taxes, not taxes on business. If you’ve got a business that employs a bunch of people (I’m talking here about an actual corporation, not just one person doing freelance contract work as a sole proprietorship), it ought to be set up so that you draw a salary, and your personal finances are kept separate from the business’s finances. If raising your personal taxes causes your business to fail, there’s already a problem with your business; don’t go blaming Warren Buffet for it. 

  52. Mike says:

    Libertarian means socialist:

    http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/150-years-of-libertarian

    What these free market fundamentalists are advocating is proprietarianism.

  53. thedisturbism says:

    The Daily Show rocks!

  54. 2brn2b says:

    Stewart and Buffet are on the money. America has been drifting towards
    an Aristocratic medievalism the likes of which is truly extraordinary
    for a developed country. But it has been done in a truly amazing manner.
    Being able to disenfranchise such an enormous proportion of the
    population, segregate them in bad neighborhoods, police them heavily,
    lock them up to the extent that 1 out of 100 Americans is behind bars (a
    little less now that we are finding it tough to pay for), criminalize
    poverty (and race/ethnicity), and still manage to not trigger a
    revolution? Remarkable.

    I have lived in a number of countries, and I live in one of the nicest
    neighborhoods in America, but I have never lived in a country with so
    much poverty, so much crime and so much violence. And at the same time,
    this is the wealthiest country in the world. It all feels wrong. So
    wrong.

    I know that there is a racial and a segregation problem here too. That
    different people, from different classes and ethnicities really don’t
    live together in this country, they live very separate lives. Maybe
    somewhere along the way, some Americans lost the ability to empathize
    with people who are “different”, who don’t look the same, speak the
    same, dress the same, live the same, earn the same, shop the same and
    live in very different places. I think that with the civil rights
    movement, that was it for large proportion Americans: they were no
    longer willing to support other Americans, different Americans.

    For such a patriotic country, I don’t understand how so many Americans
    refuse to empathize and help their fellow citizens, of any color, creed
    or class, and simply ignore the poverty, health and education deficits
    that affect so many communities in the US.

    I love America. It would be nice is America loved and cared about America too.

    • 秀平 月 says:

      And at the same time, this is the wealthiest country in the world.

      While this is true in absolute terms, it only is because Americans are on average _relatively_ wealthy and because you are so damn many people. If you look at the GDP per capita, the US is about the 10th richest country, with slight differences depending on whose list you look at and if you take PPP into account.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, writing that the US is “the richest country in the world” is like saying that Luxembourg (#1-3) is really, really poor compared to India, which of course is true in absolute terms.

      That being said, I fully agree with your point ;-).

  55. ultranaut says:

    I think the real issue with “libertarians” (and other disciples of the Invisible Hand) is that they value philosophical consistency above any utilitarian assessment of the policies derived from their ideology. The market is the first and best answer to social, economic, and political problems and so you see these seemingly absurd demands: Privatize the police and roads, eliminate taxes, eliminate safety and environmental protections, etc.
    Unfortunately, because the consequences are not what motivates their ideology they are easily exploited by the sociopathically greedy. It’s quite sad really…

  56. Hoo boy. You need a dictionary. Taxation isn’t theft; theft is theft. Taxation is governmental requisition of private funds for shared public weal. Regardless of your stance with regard to taxes, calling it theft isn’t hyperbole; it’s simply incorrect. A is not B.

  57. David Fisk says:

    Being a libertarian myself, I see a lot of great points made by those on here that disagree with me. There’s the typical “if you don’t like it here, get out” response, that I normally would argue against, but there are people starting to do just that. There is the Free State Project happening in New Hampshire, and people starting up on seasteading (not the best idea, in my opinion). I think the best thing for libertarians to do is to get like minded people together in one geographic location and live there. We are too small a minority to effect change on a national scale. If it were up to me, we’d all pool our money together and buy an island somewhere to create our own society. I’m all for that. It’s obvious to me that the U.S. is slowly (and I mean real slow) becoming more socialist. Some people are for that. People point to countries in Europe that do it really well. The problem is our government is incapable of doing socialism well. If they could pull off a Switzerland or Sweden, I’d be all for it. I know people that live in those countries and love it. 

    • SeattlePete says:

      “The problem is our government is incapable of doing socialism well.”

      How do you know this when it has never been tried?  Or is this a “I have potholes on my street so a single-payer healthcare system would be an obvious boondoggle” argument?

      “If they could pull off a Switzerland or Sweden, I’d be all for it.”

      Well, then, give them the chance.  Vote Democrat if that party is interchangeable with Socialism in your mind, or better yet  write-in the Socialist candidate in your next election.

      The other course of action would be, as you have stated, to buy your own island and live the dream surrounded by like minded people.

    • R A says:

      “I think the best thing for libertarians to do is to get like minded
      people together in one geographic location and live there… If it were up to
      me, we’d all pool our money together and buy an island somewhere to
      create our own society.”

      This concept comrade, is socialism. I’ve never posted on BB before but after reading your libertarian babble to see you end up with wanting to start a commune. Just freaking blew my mind!

    • Ferd Burfel says:

      Isn’t pooling money to share it for a common benefit socialist?  Which is what you’re afraid of happening here?

      That’s the problem with your exact school of thought, it is a lack of thought.  That simply fact is most of this country is not over taxed and the government doesn’t intrude all that much into my life.  I’m able to sit here and write this post without anyone ‘allowing’ it.  I’m also free to go get into my car to go anywhere I want.  And I get to use the road for free to do it.

  58. MisterH4x0r says:

    So roads, police, fire department, public schools, parks, national monuments, military…they should all be paid for with pennies that fall from the money trees, right?

    You fail.

  59. Cowicide says:

    Stewart failed to mention that the corporatists have already found a way to tax the poor 100 percent (and then some).  Put them all in prison and put them to work for 90 cents an hour.  It’s even cheaper than Chinese labor exploitation once you take out the overseas costs.

    This is happening RIGHT NOW within The Land of the Free, Inc.

  60. Daniel says:

    Son of Thunder, why should anyone take you seriously after lying so egregiously about the proportion of jobs provided by small business?  Here’s a nice citation on that from census.org — as of 2008, about 1/6th of all paid positions were provided by businesses of fewer than 100 people, just under half by businesses of fewer than 500 people:

    http://www.census.gov/econ/smallbus.html

    Also, if you believe this:

    I believe government is fundamentally amoral and is basically equal to slavery.

    Why are you even talking about taxes?  Shouldn’t you be trying to convince people that laws and criminal justice systems and consumer protections and pollution controls and schools and police are all bad things?  You’d have to win that argument first before you could win the taxes argument.

    Also, yes, like Maggie said — you’re free to leave at any time.

  61. Ito Kagehisa says:

    The “taxation is theft” nonsense apparently got a big boost from Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs and Steel”.

    I say “apparently” because I haven’t actually read the book.  Everyone I knew who both read and enjoyed it started spouting egregious nonsense immediately afterward, so I decided my time would be better spent reading something else.

    Thanks for the viddies, Cory!  Awesome sauce.

    • Daniel says:

      Nothing in there even remotely about taxation.  Diamond doesn’t strike me as very political in any contemporary sense.

    • Corwin Joy says:

      Really?  Guns Germs and Steel has some interesting ideas about agricultural factors that drove the development of various civilizations. I don’t recall it saying much, if anything, about political systems.

  62. 秀平 月 says:

    To all you “leave if you don’t like it here” folks: sorry, but you sound just like the crazed neo-cons during the Bush Jr. years. They said the exact same thing when people brought up legitimate grievances (and there were many). That’s really no way to address an argument, no matter how ridiculous it may be.

    • Brainspore says:

      Also worth mentioning: Somalia has actually seen the formation of several regional governing bodies in recent years. Looks like humanity’s stupid universal quest for a measure of safety and stability is ruining that place for the Libertarians too.

    • Ethan says:

      I agree… I also dislike it when my (liberal) friends say something like, “If [insert name of conservative] gets elected, I’m moving to [insert name of country].” The thing is, they never do. And if they did, they’ll find plenty to dislike about the politics of whatever country they imagine is a utopia. One thing I’ll hand conservatives, they rarely make threats/pronouncements about abandoning their country because of a possible election outcome.

      • Modusoperandi says:

        Ethan “One thing I’ll hand conservatives, they rarely make threats/pronouncements about abandoning their country because of a possible election outcome.”Obviously. Instead, they:
        1. Form a “grassroots” group threatening to “take out country back” (and empty stores of ammunition while enroute to protest with “This time it’s not loaded” signs)
        2. They threaten to (or, in one case, do) secede.

  63. Benoisito says:

    I forget which one is it thats theft taxation or property? And damn, what about taxed property!

  64. cami brunjes says:

    please, you make me sick.  just like all the fox news talking heads.  people like to constantly point out how small businesses will suffer if we raise taxes.  that is not the issue, if a small business is making millions in profits, then yes, they should pay more.  if not, they will not pay higher taxes anyway.  basically, i would be happy if they just rolled back the bush tax cuts.  there have not been any jobs added due to these, but the rich have simply just hoarded their money and not reinvested it in the country/workers that have made them rich.  it isn’t about class warfare, it is about people paying their share and not getting out of it, just beause they have the money to pay a cpa to work their way around paying taxes!  they didn’t make money out of thin air, they made it off the backs of people who are workers and have nothing.  

  65. Successful Troll was successful.

  66. Hollando says:

    “That’s libertarians for you — anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.” … Kim Stanley Robinson

    • Gulliver says:

      “That’s libertarians for you — anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.” … Kim Stanley Robinson

      You and KSM evidently know as much about libertarianism as Fox News knows about socialism. Of course KSM is a rock-sockin’ writer and, by all accounts, a swell fellow, so don’t take that as a personal retort.

  67. J B says:

    Has anyone at Boing Boing (contributor or commenter) ever sent an extra cent to the US government?

    I ask because at least a few people seem to espouse that they are highly in favor of many of the things the US government does.

    If they are so in favor, why don’t they back up their principles with their money?

    They believe in their cause so little that they will only use other people’s money for it.

    • CP-S says:

      Well, I sent several thousand dollars of my money to the US gov’t last year in…taxes. Because I like to back up the programs my principles support with my money.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Has anyone at Boing Boing (contributor or commenter) ever sent an extra cent to the US government?

      Yeah, FWIW, I have.  And I declined to cash my Bush tax refund checks, too.

  68. light_saber says:

    So 43% of children in America — the number of kids growing up in poverty since the policy changes of the Bush years — will now grow up to become “generations of utterly irresponsible animals.”

    Quelle surprise!  Who would have imagined that favoring the desires of the rich over the needs of the poor would have negative consequences?  

  69. Farley Smith says:

    Who is getting ‘socialist’ subsidies the most around here anyway.  How bout the FACT that the primary and overiding value that government provides is first and foremost SECURITY.  Maintaining police and military so that no one dare steal any fat cats property.  The more property/assets one has, the more value they derive from this arrangement, yet these people expect to get this service for free, while the rest of us pay the tab for them.  Talk about class warfare.  Making little people pay for the security of the assets of the rich sounds like socialism many times over to me.

  70. DirkSJ says:

    Flat tax.  Not income bracket dependent.  No loopholes or dodging or reductions.  Set the %
    rate at whatever rate it needs to be to cover our spending AFTER we cut
    spending all over the place.  Done.

  71. TNGMug says:

    Really enjoyed the comparison of “so-called” libartarian anarchy to fuedalism,  that is really exactly where that path leads, and it’s a place we struggled for centuries to get out of, and when we finally did, most people’s lives got a whole lot better.

    Honestly I see the whole point of view as spoiled upper-middle class brat thinking.  Those who live a life of privilege to the extent that they can succeed without such things as public schools.  Those who it condemns to a life of surfdom, well they must have been able to do something for themselves, so not my problem.  We wouldn’t want to let a historical context or real world consequences interfere with a great idiolology and catchy buzz-phrases like “taxation is theft”.  

    Basically, it’s anti-democracy.  Democracy by it’s nature is a somewhat social construct.  Everybody gets a say, we’re taking that economic power and spreading it out socially.  The Tsarists would have hated that idea, it’s taking the power *away* from them.  So when Libertarians talk about property rights, they mean it in a way this is very anti-democratic, it’s the rights of the elite to remain in control.

  72. Gyrofrog says:

    “It has been said that a libertarian is just a Republican who does drugs.” – Mike Gunderloy, Factsheet 5, Aug. 1991

  73. Mark Wurden says:

    There is another way to look at this, which puts the degree to which our government spends in perspective.  If Stewart is correct with his figure that $1.4 Trillion represents the value of everything the bottom 50% owns, then our government has a annual deficit about equal to 1/2 the networth of 1/2 of its citizens.  Or, maybe more to the point, it redistributes, each year, about as much as these people own.  That seems pretty high, doesn’t it?

  74. Ethan says:

    No, I’m quibbling with David Fisk’s formulation of “regulation using threat of force == theft.”

    Here’s a question for you… Do you really think that if there were massive tax cuts that you would actually reap the benefit. I’d wager my share of the cut that corporations (over the mid-to-long term) would simply soak it up as profit by paying less in salary or the equivalent (making employees pay more for health care, not giving raises until standard-of-living becomes what it used to be, etc.)

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