Saturday, July 30, 2011


(Post has been updated to correct my bad research about who pays what fraction of the total tax bill)

My nephew thinks I ought to consider adding a Corvair 95 "Rampside" truck to the vehicular stable here at Roseholme. In that, he's pretty much spot-on, as I would very much like to have a truck for the truck-type jobs -- and especially if it's something a bit odd. I missed an early-1930's one some years back; it had some kind of modern smallblock V-8 under the hood and needed a new (wooden) bed floor, but wasn't a terrible hack-job. I'm still looking; it's not like I have to have one, they're just handy. A Rampside would be a real gem.

(OTOH, I'd swap the Hottest Needle of Inquiry, my third 2003 Hyundai Accent, for a decent hard-top Suzuki Samurai in a heartbeat. While you really, really don't want to roll the little 4-by, they will get into and out of just about anywhere, in any weather. It's a long, hard slog up to the 55ish mph top speed but they'll happily stay there all day. Like a mule, but without the attitude.)

On the other hand, he appears to believe I'm conservative. --Hecky-durn, Dear Reader, p'raps you do, too? Is it my belief that the State oughta stop frettin' over the freely-made marital arrangements of legal adults that gives that impression, or is it my wild and crazy notion that wandering the world gettin' into fights might not be an ideal hobby for a free nation, that John Quincy Adams' description of America's ideal foreign policy, "Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America's] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own," might be the wisest course of action? Or is it my notion that we'd have a lot less drug violence, meth-lab fires and hidden drug abuse if the various substances were legal and the persons who got into trouble with 'em could seek treatment without having to cop to a mandatory-jail-time felony?

Nope. See, I figure you should be able to hang onto your own money. Even if you have whacking great piles of it and go diving into it like Scrooge McDuck. That makes me "conservative."

Yep. I guess it's a lot better for Uncle Sam to take it, spend over half of every dollar grabbed on bombing someplace overseas (and related support thereunto), 16 cents on "physical assets and general government," and use a fraction of the remaining 30 cents on widows, orphans and The Poor, less administrative costs and overhead.

After all, what would a rich guy do with excess money? Buy a private island, have a house built on it and hire a staff? Gamble some on investing it in a start-up business, a wacky thing like an Internet search engine or an online bookstore? Use it to keep his business running through hard times? What good would that do anyone?

Especially compared to a government department that, having made a big investment in providing goods and services to The Poor, needs to maintain a sizable group of poor folks to justify the continued existence of said department.

Meanwhile, the eeeeevil, money-grubbing rich guys continue to hire people who will work for the wages offered -- and who pick up skills doing the work. Some of those people will advance, becoming more valuable to their employer in the process. Hey, it's no sure thing -- companies go broke, or move, or adopt polices to keep wages low and staff turnover high -- but in general, they don't benefit from keeping employees needy-hungry poor, not even the cheapest of cheapskates. (Though the latter group may only find out after their company has gone broke, or been sold to China for pennies on the dollar).

Conversely, the poorer you are, the more you need Help From The Government.

So, yep. By that skinny yardstick, I'm conservative; even though I know William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer pushed the U.S. into a nice little war, I also know they didn't have any troops, warships or cannon. David Saroff's RCA indeed hounded their competitors relentlessly -- ask the widows of Armstrong and Farnsworth -- but they did it in the courts and the marketplace; they never had troops hunt them down.

See, if we compare "the rich" on one side and "government" on the other, there's an interesting distinction: the wealthy don't put people in concentration camps, they don't drop napalm on towns,villages and interesting scenery and even when they are ripping you off, they don't require you to pay in (this is why Enron's scam was, horribly enough, more moral than the Social Security system). This is not to say that rich people and/or Big Business don't have a whole lot of flaws; but their flaws are generally as nothing compared to the damage governments can and will do.

Y'know, when Toyota and General Motors duke it out, there is no Pearl Harbor, no Iwo Jima, no Hiroshima. When a fat-cat business executive wants a good, old-fashioned war (see above), he's got to chivvy governments into doing it -- and the government funds the war with tax money, just under a third of it yours and not his.* (Unless they're funding it with what amount to bad checks against future tax money, IMO even worse).

So call me conservative. I don't want the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or even George Soros to be taxed at any higher rate than I am -- preferably, zero. And that, in this strange day and age, is weird, wild conservative stuff. Even the GOP's pols look askew at that kind of crazy talk.
* For the logic-impaired, those sneaky, conniving tax-cheating top ten percent income types pay 70 percent of the total federal tax bill. You and I and the part-timer who makes barely enough to put him in tax-paying income pick up the remaining 30 percent.


Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, whether or not you get a Corvair, I'm also one of those people who believe there should be a Truck in every Garage, 'cause when you need a truck, you NEED a Truck. Our is named "Lowes Depot", because that is where it likes to get down, as it were.

As for the Political Philosophy, we be pretty much on the same page. Too bad I still think we are Living in Heinlein's "Crazy Years". But I'm not sure if we are going to get Nehemiah Scudder, the New Soviet Man/Woman/Transgender, or somebody will launch some Nukes at us and the rest of the World will just let it happen, saying "Good Riddance."

The Jack said...


How does a rich person get your money? You have to voluntarily give it to him, usually by entering into a contract for a good or service.

How does the government get your money? By threatening to put you in prison or worse if you don't.

Bit of a difference there.

Sure sure, a rich person could lobby the state to pass a law mandating that a person buy his product under penalty of prison, but guess what? That's still the State being the club here.

It's always creepy when people scream about how evil corporations are; let's tally up the butchers bill then. As you said, companies don't run concentration camps or bomb cities.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Roberta...that's an impressive essay. I do really like your comparison between business and on, I think.

Wayne Conrad said...

You may be conservative. But you are most definitely libertarian.

On one axis, liberal/conservative. On the other, statist/libertarian. People get all mixed up thinking that these things are all arranged on one axis, with liberal=statist and conservative=libertarian, but that's absurd. Conservatives, on the whole, are just as happy to use the state's big stick to Get Their Way as are liberals. And of libertarians, there are conservative ones and there are liberal ones, and shades in between. What makes someone a libertarian isn't what they think about gay marriage (or whatever), but that they don't want to use the state to beat up people who don't believe what they believe.

perlhaqr said...

See, if we compare "the rich" on one side and "government" on the other, there's an interesting distinction: the wealthy don't put people in concentration camps, they don't drop napalm on towns,villages and interesting scenery and even when they are ripping you off, they don't require you to pay in (this is why Enron's scam was, horribly enough, more moral than the Social Security system).

Nicking pits here, but, while "The Rich" may not do those things directly, at least not here, I have noticed that there are, to the best of my knowledge, no poor people in Congress or the Cabinet or the Presidency.

Which, I suppose, is fairly orthogonal to any point you made, since the answer to that problem is still "take that power away from the government".

Sorry, just spent a couple hours in an open top, open wheel truck, off road, in the rain, and then back home on the highway, so my brain's a bit buzzy at the moment. Yes, more so than normal. ;)

Drang said...

While reading this, I kept thinking "For given values of conservative..."

WV: shrit. "No shrit, Sherlock."

Art said...

Very nice screed.

Only two problems with any truck I've owned ...
1. Bad gas mileage
2. Anyone you know, that is moving, calls you.
Even accepting those probs, life is better with a truck. They're just so damn handy.

Politically, you obviously espouse Freedom. That's a dangerous, almost inconceivable, concept in the place that used be "The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave".

Cincinnatus said...

You footnote some fascinating data that can be found at the Tax Foundation website. They process the actual IRS data and as you mention, those evil "rich" already are paying more than their "fair share". Our income tax system is very progressive, as that term is used in taxation, and more so since the Bush era tax rate adjustments moved aggregate taxation up the income levels.

Justthisguy said...

I like the short form better: "We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own."

Though I must say from what I see of most of the humans these days, entirely too many of them aren't fit for liberty, and sometimes, in my grumpiness, I tend to look fondly past conservatism, all the way back to reaction. I haven't gotten as far as Throne and Altar, yet, but, well, some of the kids these days...

Justthisguy said...

WV: soader. That is a military carbonated beveridge, unless the bottle is empty, in which case it is a dead soader.

Larry said...

I had a Dodge Rampage and have a Subaru Baja, both of which were capable of doing truck-like jobs when needed.
And going by your definition I guess I would be conservative as well...