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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rants, Respect, and Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders went for the gusto, holding an 8 1/2 hour filibuster. Old school. By actually standing up and talking for the entire time. Senator, you have my respect.

Not my agreement, mind you. You've said a few things, from the various quotes and excerpts I've seen, that I have to take issue with. But you have my respect. It's good to see an actual filibuster, instead of one of the lame "filibusters" we've seen over the past decade or so. Thank you.

That said, I have a few comments. On the tax cuts at one point, you said (according to USA Today):
"They're taking it from the middle class and working families and we're giving it to the wealthiest people in the country."
I assume that "they" are the people supporting extending the tax cuts, and "it" is money. Assuming I'm correct, I don't actually see how this makes any sense at all. A tax cut on the wealthy is not taking money from "the middle class and working families", nor is it "giving it to the wealthiest people in the country". It is simply a reduction in the amount of money that is taken - in a fashion that would be considered robbery[1] should one individual attempt to extract money directly from another in similar fashion - from any person who actually pays taxes.

It is true that some of the monies extracted from the wealthy (and from the middle class) are then granted to the poor through various transfer payments and entitlement programs. This fact does not create a permanent, ongoing obligation of the individuals from whom the money is extracted to continue to transfer those monies to the recipients in perpetuity. Except insofar as the government, who (for an administrative fee) processes the transfer of wealth, elects to continue the transfer.

In other words, if tax money is being transferred from the rich (and/or the middle class) to the poor, and the government chooses reduce taxes and decrease or terminate the transfer, the money is not being taken from the poor and given to the rich (and/or the middle class). It is simply being allowed to remain with those had the money in the first place.

On a related subject, why are tax cuts always described as benefiting "the rich" over "the middle class and working Americans"? Many of the rich - particularly when "the rich" are defined as any individual or family earning more than $250,000 per year - work for a living. Just because someone doesn't work in a factory or drone a way as a cubicle wage slave, doesn't mean they don't work for a living[2]. There is no inherent virtue in working a minimum wage job, and there is no inherent vice in earning thousands of dollars an hour, so can we please stop pretending there is?[3]

Of course, there is nothing groundbreaking in any of this. The people reading this who agree with me will probably just wonder why I'm preaching to the choir, and the people reading this who agree with Senator Sanders no doubt already have their counter-arguments ready to go. So let me close with this:

I have to give Senator Sanders for being honest in his beliefs. He certainly isn't getting rich as a Senator, and his voting record certainly seems[4] to follow his conscience. And that's worth respecting, whether I agree with him or not. So here's to you, Senator Sanders. Keep giving long speeches.

[1] No, really. This is not hyperbole. Robbery is, by definition, "the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force and/or by putting the victim in fear". Taxes are extracted from the American people by threat of force and/or by putting the victim - I mean, the taxpayer - in fear.
[2] Oh, wait. I forget. The language of class warfare requires that "the enemy" (whatever class they may be) be made to seem like parasites.
[3] The answer, of course, is "no".
[4] "Seems", because only he can say for certain.

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