Respecting the other

There’s been a lot of excitement about how terrible the Democrats are being to Sarah Palin and how it’s hurting them etc etc.  It’s all a bit strange.  What’s strange is that the main guy – Obama – reacted to her appointment in a dignified way.  So did Hilary Clinton.  But Democrat pundits didn’t.  Well it’s hard to see the big deal in that. In some ways I’m sympathetic to this bashing of ‘liberals’ (US terminology) bashing of Sarah Palin.  I was certainly pretty disgusted by the inane superiority of the media in this country in hopping into Pauline Hanson.  I admired Hanson’s courage if not much else about her and the issues she raised in her inarticulate way were reasonable enough. 

But since when was it possible for a political party to ensure that all its sympathisers said the same thing? Centrist Clive Crook berates the Democrats for their disdain of the values and lifestyle of a good portion of the country.  So did leftist Guy Rundle in the Sunday Age, though I can’t find a link.

Well they do have disdain. Now there are many good people who are into guns.  I’m not in favour of banning duck shooting and the  holier than thou agenda of the soft left.  But I can’t say I relate much to people who like guns.  And as for Christians, well I’ve got a great deal of respect for religion withough being religious myself, but I can’t say that extends to Pentacostal religiosity which I see as a kind of anti-religiosity a kind of massive missing of whatever point religion has.  And creationism?  Well shucks, I guess it’s disdain for me. 

Now I don’t run round the country loudly proclaiming my disdain for such things. If I was a politician I might be more circumspect again.  But is it such a crime to not feel much fellow feeling for people who are – well for people who have different values to you?  I’d call it natural.  That doesn’t mean you wish them harm or hate them or that you wouldn’t work with them and join political coalitions with them, but is it such a big deal that inner city professional Democrat voters don’t feel much fellow feeling with guns and pentacostalism of the mid-west?  Is it such a big failing?  

The thing is that, at least in Republican land, contempt for those who are different – I’m talking about those effete inner city New England ‘liberals’ – has been one of the central talking points of Republican politics from the very top down for at least a couple fo decades. Indeed, I’d say it is the central means by which Republicans manage to keep poor white trash from voting for those who might slip them a few more favours.

And then when the Republicans jump on the opportunity that Sarah Palin’s nomination provides them with to orchestrate the divisions and emnities of the culture wars, to fan the Republican contempt for liberals rather than for instance accept the measured and reasonable reactions of Obama, Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden, we’re supposed to think that this demonstrates how ‘liberals’ need to learn some respect for their fellow Americans?  Well yes, and how about a bit of respect back?

This entry was posted in Politics - international. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
51 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SJ
SJ
13 years ago

Mark Thoma has already covered this at length.

James Farrell
James Farrell
13 years ago

…contempt for those who are different – Im talking about those effete inner city New England liberals – has been one of the central talking points of Republican politics from the very top down for at least a couple for decades.

Exactly. But if it keeps someone like you on the back foot all the time — affirming your deep respect for duck shooters and religion, distancing yourself from the execrable ‘soft left’ — doesn’t that mean that the tactic works?

Sarah Palin is by any objective standard a reactionary, an environmental vandal and a religious irrationalist. It should be possible to point these things out calmly without getting drawn into a debate about who is more disdainful than who. The problem is that Palin is no different from Bush and about two thirds of Republican politicians anyway: the people who vote for them obviously are not deterred by the aforementioned characteristics.

skepticlawyer
13 years ago

Thoughtful piece, Nick. Having watched the Palin business a fair bit over at our place (and having discovered that she’s nowhere near as far right as she’s been painted), I think part of the problem for US ‘liberals’ (oh how I dislike how that perfectly good word has been appropriated) is that their ‘hating’ is based on superiority and condescension, while the Republican ‘hating’ is based on near complete disagreement over values.

I don’t know how you can get around this – it’s the political version of ‘We have always been at war with Eurasia’. The best that can be done in the circumstances is a sort of walled-off non-interference. Palin said this to AP back in 2006 when her personal social conservatism came up in Alaska:

Palin has done little while in office to advance a social conservative agenda. She told The Associated Press in an interview in 2006 that she would not allow her personal beliefs to dictate public policy.

“I’ve honestly answered the questions on what my personal views are on things like abortion and a lot of controversial issues,” Palin told AP. “I won’t hesitate to answer those questions about what my personal views are, but I am not one to be out there preaching and forcing my views on anyone else.”

The link is here.

That represents a partial solution, but only a partial one. It still means that large swathes of the population are simply never going to agree on such basic things as what to include in the criminal category ‘murder’, and finding a compromise position is well-nigh impossible.

skepticlawyer
13 years ago

I don’t follow what I take to be your suggestion that condescension and superiority is somehow worse than differing on values.

.

People react badly to being told ‘You’re wrong because you’re ignorant/God-bothering/sexist/etc’, as opposed to ‘You’re just wrong’. Both positions are combative – and as you pointed out in the post, that isn’t going to stop any time soon – but the former just winds people up, and the Repubs have really gone to town with it (too far with the latest lipstick business – I have a lot of US Repub friends, and they’re appalled at their own party to a man and woman. They think it buys into the worst sort of liberal ‘Oppression Olympics’ and traduces what was likely Palin’s actual reaction – to laugh.

James Farrell
James Farrell
13 years ago

It’s true that you’ve been consistent in your defense of religion (and I concede that I probably don’t understand your position), so I’ll put that to one side.

For the rest, the question is whether these ‘soft left’ views are pervasive enough to cause any real trouble. I think they’re largely products of the right-wing propaganda machine. Stereotypes are very useful tools for cutting off debate. If I want to point out the link between social disadvantage and crime, it’s much easier to howl me down as a ‘sentimentalist’ excusing irresponsible behaviour, than to actually engage my arguments.

As for the duck shooting thing, is there any reason at all why that has to be framed as a left-right issue at all? (I’ve never understood why anyone would take pleasure in murdering animals, but as long as the hunter eats the duck, that’s one less duck that needs to be raised in a battery, and so much the better.) The right wing propagandist’s aganda is not to expose the irrationality of the anti-hunting campaigners (which is self-evident), but to brand it as left wing and thereby taint progressive politics generally with the same irrationality. If the same people believe in labour standards who want to save ducks from hunters, then what an absurd cause labour standards must be.

conrad
conrad
13 years ago

“I dont know how you can get around this”

How about two different countries: The United Democratic/Republican States of New America?

tim watson
tim watson
13 years ago

The fact that Sarah Palin is woefully underqualified speaks for itself.

If anyone has the time, check out the Charlie Gibson interview with her the other day on youtube.

The Republicans are already howling that Gibson deliberately set out to ask tough questions, and trick her. Much like One Nation supporters did here with Pauline Hanson.

However, any Vice Presidential candidate should have had little trouble responding to the questions Gibson asked.

She showed her lack of background on international affairs and policy issues, and her lack of experience more generally.

These things spoke for themselves, the interviewers supposed bias had nothing to do with it.

To expose the fact that the emperor has no clothes is not hating, based on condescension and superiority.

It is simply recognising the truth, and exposing it.

Don Wigan
Don Wigan
13 years ago

They’re good points raised. As you say, the Dem leadership has generally been dignified in their response – probably more so than the Repubs, who jumped aboard this ‘Lipstick on a Pig’ thing.

Many Dem supporters and the MSM cannot seem to help themselves – much as happened in Australia with Hanson. And that compounds the problem, which at best was only a diversion from the issues in the election – same as Hanson was.

I’m starting to think, however, that the (Bill) Clinton and Keating methods of taking their misrepresentations and pretensions head-on is the better way to go. The mainstream Dem and Lab have generally pulled back from this on the grounds that it is “too divisive”, but there’s going to be divisions anyway, and maybe it’s better not to have them all on the conservatives’ terms.

Keating and Clinton remain hated figures on the Right, but I think it is mainly to do with that, and their success in such wars.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Nicholas

The energy is not directed so much at Obama or Hillary. It is mostly taking place within the civic sphere as part of those Culture Wars. It exposes the huge chasm of hypocrisy and presumption that the Luvvie Left – particularly the white bourgeois baby-boomer leftist feminazis (such as our very own wymyn at LP and its subsidiary covens) – has deluded itself with for decades now. And they are quite rightly being served the mother of all Bitchslappings! I love it! :)

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Nick, I don’t see how a position can be dangerous in and of itself just because it’s “left wing” or “right wing”: it’s dangerous if you stick to it and use it to determine policy that affects the lives of others without being prepared to consider what evidence there is that the policy is working as expected. My natural instinct towards disadvantaged people is that in more cases than not, their circumstances are due in significant part to factors outside their control, and there’s little if anything to be gained by insisting that such people “deserve” their lot. That probably makes me “soft left” in your book. But if I were in charge of policy whose purpose was to assist such people, I would make every effort to determine that such policy was actually working – and if that meant accepting there were individuals who needed more specific guidance to prevent them from continuing to make poor decisions, then so be it. And I would be respectful of anyone starting from the opposite position: that most disadvantaged people are such because of their own poor decisions, and policy should be framed accordingly, but if there was evidence that such policy was either ineffective or unduly harsh on certain individuals, a more forgiving approach would be adopted as necessary. I happen to think there are good rational arguments for preferring the former approach, but I can’t see how either is dangerous per se. It only becomes dangerous once policy is adopted primarily to appease voters, or with no preparedness to accept that your initial ideological position may be flawed. That sort of policymaking certainly deserves disdain, and I think most of us here can agree has often been the modus operandi of recent governments here and in the US.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

SL

and having discovered that shes nowhere near as far right as shes been painted

Completely spot on. Compare the psychotic demonisation of Palin around the Wymynsphere and note how just about all of it is based on complete fabrications or at least egregious distortions of the easily accesible record. She wants to invade Russia! She’s going to ban abortion! (ah, in which house does she actually vote in, again?) She doesn’t know what the “Bush Doctrine” is (never mind there isn’t one), We Must Force Her To Stop Describing Herself as a Feminist!

Perhaps she should stop describing herself as a feminist. Having spent the last two days on my first ever cruising of the Wymynsphere, I am convinced all those blogs must be held on servers in loony bins or corrections facilities. If not they bloody well should be!

All this “liberal” (FMD, poor Orwell must be spinning), “progressive’ (ditto), Luvvie-Left “feminist” outrage is a misnomer. These people are not concerned with the advancement of actual you know women or females. Their real agenda? Socialism, pure and simple.

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

*bzzzzz*

Did I hear something?

Nah, never mind.

Anyway Nick, great piece. The Repubs’ (and local Culture Warriors’) hypocrisy on this is incredible – or perhaps they can avoid that by deluding themselves with same non-distinction as SL makes above. It doesn’t really get you off the hook though does it? “They’re condescending and mean, whereas we merely hate viscerally and think you’re going to hell”.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Nick, I’ll only answer that if nothing else I don’t particularly trust governments to make decisions such as who among the poor “deserve” their lot, and therefore shouldn’t get the same sort of assistance. However in particular cases where it’s clear that specific individuals are squandering the assistance they are getting (e.g. spending it on gambling), I don’t see how anyone could object to more targetted assistance: e.g., replacing cash payments with food/rent/education vouchers. Those individuals get different treatment simply because of their behaviour over a particular period of time, without needing to label them as “deserving poor” who are somehow supposedly inherently incapable of improving their own lot.

Anyway, a little off topic…

Melaleuca
13 years ago

“Ive never understood why anyone would take pleasure in murdering animals, but as long as the hunter eats the duck …”

James, food doesn’t simply appear by magic in the supermarket isles. Do you get out of the city much? Humans hunted for their own food for 95% of human history, and presumably took some pride in their hunting skills. Hunters who eat their kill or exterminate vermin have every right to be proud.

As a practical environmentalist, I have a lot more respect for the avid pig/cat/goat/donkey/camel/rabbit/horse etc shooter than I do for your average inner city greenie, whose half-baked opinions are frequently based on what the newspapers and magazines are saying this week rather than experience and considered reasoning.

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

*bzzzzz*

Melaleuca
13 years ago

Crapola- that should’ve been “supermarket aisles”.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Melaleuca, James did say “murder”. I don’t think you can reasonably use the word murder where “kill for food” is meant, no matter how much extremist vegans may believe the contrary. Murder by definition implies malicious intent and disregard for the life of the victim.

Geoff Robinson
13 years ago

The worst thing are so-called intellectuals pretending a faux sympathy with populist conservatives while actually privately depising their views, Franck Furedi, David Burchill et. al. It’s more respectful of Palin, Huckabee, Hanson etc. enthusiasts to tell them that their views are plain wrong and have an honest debate.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Nick, did you mean to say “…there are times when choosing not to help the undeserving poor is better…”?

Assuming you actually mean “deserving”, do you have examples of where governments have actually successfully put in place a procedure of determining that some people “deserve” to be poor, and therefore shouldn’t be helped, and seen such a strategy produce positive results?

Melaleuca
13 years ago

NPOV,

I think a lot of city folk think shooters are all dumb drunk slobs who’d happily shoot anything. IMO James is going along with that stereotype, but maybe I misjudge him.

The field and game folk- including duck shooters- have a vested interest in conservation. Some of them do voluntary work helping to restore degraded wetlands etc.. But if you try raising such a point of view with soft left types- as I did when I was an inner city Greens member- you’ll be dismissed as the very devil himself.

Naturally I despise wanton environmental vandals, for example the idiots who have clubbed to death fairy penguins on the Tasmanian coastline on several occasions. But let’s not conflate these sick puppies with your average field and game shooter.

JC
JC
13 years ago

Nic

Do you honestly mean the comment that the GOP supporters are white trash? And then you’re suggesting the GOP holds the other side in contempt? Huh?

James Rice
13 years ago

James Farrell said:

As for the duck shooting thing, is there any reason at all why that has to be framed as a left-right issue at all? (Ive never understood why anyone would take pleasure in murdering animals, but as long as the hunter eats the duck, thats one less duck that needs to be raised in a battery, and so much the better.) The right wing propagandists aganda is not to expose the irrationality of the anti-hunting campaigners (which is self-evident), but to brand it as left wing and thereby taint progressive politics generally with the same irrationality. If the same people believe in labour standards who want to save ducks from hunters, then what an absurd cause labour standards must be.

I must be self-evidently irrational. Be that as it may…

I agree: battery cages, factory farms, intensive farming – all of these are vicious ways of growing your food. But equating killing a duck in an abattoir with killing a duck through duck shooting is misguided. With duck shooting, not all ducks shot are killed outright by the shooter. Some are brought down and killed by the shooter on retrieval, for example, by wringing the neck. Some ducks are crippled (brought down but not retrieved) and die within hours, days, or weeks of being shot. Other ducks are wounded but not killed. In short, duck shooting involves cruelty that killing in an abattoir does not.

What is the rate of crippling and wounding caused by duck shooting? On the whole, studies indicate that between 6.6 and 10 ducks are crippled or wounded by duck shooters for every 10 ducks shot and retrieved. (Note that these rates of crippling and wounding have nothing to do with shooters being drunk or sober. They have to do with the uncertain nature of shooting moving animals with a shotgun.)

It’s for these kinds of reasons that the RSPCA opposes duck shooting.

(For more information, see the RSPCA website here or, for the audacious, the Animals Australia website here or here.)

If anyone knows of other studies of crippling and wounding rates – apart from anecdotes – I’d be happy to hear about them.

James Rice
13 years ago

The “left” and “right” labels are ambiguous enough, but what is the “soft left”? How does it differ from the “hard, erect left”?

These just seem like pejorative labels to me.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

James R – interesting information, but I wonder: what’s less ethical? Shooting ducks for food in the knowledge that some will inevitably be wounded or crippled, or buying intensively farmed chickens for food in the knowledge that all have undergone fairly cruel treatment during their lives?
I think you have to take into account the *intention* of duck-shooters: they presumably do their best to hit their targets cleanly. I’m not so sure we could say that battery chicken farmers do their best to ensure their chickens are treated well.

And why do we need to ban an activity just because cripple rates are so high – why not only issue licenses to those who can prove they are capable of killing more accurately?

(Now giving up all hope of keeping this on topic, whatever the topic was…)

James Farrell
James Farrell
13 years ago

The crippling and wounding rate you quote is sobering, James. If it’s true, I withdraw the ‘irrational’ charge.

Irrespective of the above, in response to Melaleuca’s set piece at #20, let me reassert that I can’t empathise with people who kill animals for fun. Pride in hunting skills can be pursued through target shooting or wildlife photography.

Sorry for the derailment, Nicholas. (Perhaps we should open a duck shooting open thread.)

James Rice
13 years ago

Yes, not really on topic. I’m not very good at that, sorry.

Melaleuca
13 years ago

In respect of Republican nastiness we shouldn’t overlook the bevy of right-wing shock jocks who are on average far more vile than any liberal columnist. Michael Savage is apparently the third most popular right-wing shock jock in the US and Some of his comments noted here are very disturbing but the faithful still love him: http://mediamatters.org/issues_topics/tags/michael_savage

On the duck hunting issue, the RSPCA and AA are pushing a particular barrow so I would want independent verification of their injury figures. But in any event, the anti-duck hunting lobby should be aware that, contrary to the impressions given in Walt Disney cartoons, nature is indeed red in tooth and claw and utterly, ruthlessly amoral. I doubt a duck gives a damn as to whether it is suffering pain because it has a bullet wound as opposed to a gut full of parasites or a chunk of flesh missing after being mauled by a fox or raptor. Death with dignity and humane treatment of the injured and diseased are very rare indeed outside of humanity. Life in nature is nearly always short, nasty and brutish.

tim watson
tim watson
13 years ago

Nicholas

I did notice that both the interviewer and the interviewee had a very tenuous grasp of their respective briefs :D

It did make for some excruciatingly amusing television.

JC
JC
13 years ago

This is why the idea of attacking the horrid Maureen Dowd as if shes some spokesperson for the Dems is so off.

I recall once Andrew Sullivan attacking Dowd, however he made he point that she was loved and respected in DC circles.

I think we need to realize something about people like Dowd, Savage, O’Reilly and Olbermann. They may have strong political views (although more than a few people have mentioned Savage is faking it) and is far more ” liberal ” than he lets on. These people are selling entertainment. It’s a form of entertainment and they are getting richly rewarded.

Starting salary for the ” junior” shock jock is around 2 to 3 million a year. I read that O’ Reilly was on a 35 million 5 year deal. It’s the money.

And i would have to disagree with you, Nic (again :-) ) These people sell their crap because they mostly have audiences that agree with those views.

JC
JC
13 years ago

This is why the idea of attacking the horrid Maureen Dowd as if shes some spokesperson for the Dems is so off.

I would argue she speaks to the sentiments of a lot of DC/NYC types.

JC
JC
13 years ago

He’s a good piece on thinking the unthinkable- an obama loss ad what it will mean to the left.

http://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/the-audacity-of-defeat

The other problem is the Hollywood left, Nic. They are so egotistical, so transparently self serving and so bereft of originality in terms of their politics that they make an Alabama GOPer appear smarter than Einstein.

I don’t disagree with all of your characterizations of the South although I think you’re overdoing it a little, despite the fact there is a kernel of truth to it. Most National party supporters here aren’t much chop either.

However there is little, say a free market/small government type has to choose from in the US other than the GOP. They are much chop, but it’s better than the alternative in my mind except when you want to punish the GOP as the other side not only doesn’t pretend to oppose big government solutions, they celebrate it. So it’s a case of holding one’s nose at times.

JC
JC
13 years ago

So? What on earth has it got to do with anything.

You brought up the soft left and i was adding to that point of the discussion. Was that wrong of me, nic?

And no, I don’t think it ought to be a 1% cut in govt/GDP. That was what we got from the Clinton administration (even after he clipped the peace dividend coupon) and it still wasn’t enough.

It should be much, much more. I’ll go with Friedman’s view suggesting the size of the take shouldn’t exceed 10% of GDP.

Surprising you suggest the size of the tax take doesn’t effect economic efficiency as though that was the only thing it affected. Don’t you think we would see a fall in capital expenditure if we saw a cut in depreciation allowances or a rise in the cap gains tax? Wouldn’t a fall in capital expenditure translate into a fall off in economic efficiency? Were you thinking only of small immaterial changes perhaps?

Another exmaple of the effect of taxes on efficiency……..

raising the luxury tax rate has the effect of dissuading the purchase of imported cars for the relatively inefficiently produced domestic variety.

The body of written evidence suggests that the relative tax rate has a material effect on both economic efficiency and living standards.

Not all the GOP was in favor of torture in the same way not all the Dem party was against it. MaCain for instance was an outstanding critic of torture and related techniques. And no I don’t particularly like McCain.

James Rice
13 years ago

As a fun exercise…

(1) Go to the OECD Factbook 2008 in Gapminder Graphs. (Gapminder Graphs have been mentioned here before.)

(2) For the vertical axis, choose: Macroeconomic trends > Gross Domestic Product > GDP per capita.

(3) For the horizontal axis, choose: Public finance > Taxes > Total tax revenue (as a percentage of GDP).

(4) Click “Play”.

Does the situation in 2006 suggest that higher taxes lead to lower standards of living, as measured by GDP per capita? I’d say no. Admittedly, this is hardly a sophisticated analysis! (Although it is at least empirical, rather than being some account of what would surely happen on the basis of some economic theory.)

It’s also fun to play around with the other indicators. Okay, that was a little off topic too…

JC
JC
13 years ago

James
Also a little off topic. Do say tariffs make zero difference to economic efficiency? Damn straight they do.

Economic efficiency (the term Nic used) is a analogous to rising/falling living standards. Taxes affect change behavior patterns and redirect resources. Unless you think all economic activity is neutral and equally valuable then taxes do matter and the level of taxes matter a good deal.

If you think they don’t matter ‘much” then you must be petty ambivalent about the effectiveness of an ETS. Are you?

‘small numbers’ not as visible to the naked eye have a big effect over oceans of time . A policy change that allows resources to be directed to more efficient use has a big impact over decades. Take a look with this simple example.

year 1, base = 100 with a change of 1% in productivity improvement over 100 years = 270.50. but isn’t as apparent over say a decade (110.50)

James Rice
13 years ago

Not entirely my area of expertise, but I’m willing to take the plunge!

First up, in my view “efficiency” is used in a range of distinct ways. For example, one more static use of the term is to refer to an allocation of resources that is pareto efficient (ie, one person can’t be made better off without another person being made worse off). A more dynamic use of “efficiency” appears, for example, in empirical studies of potential “equity-efficiency trade-offs”. In these studies, “efficiency” is usually operationalised, or measured, as economic growth of some kind (for example, growth in GDP, productivity, etc). In my view, there is no reason to think that these two notions of “efficiency” – the static and the dynamic – are linked in the real world.

So, we need to be clear about what we mean by “efficiency”.

If we take “efficiency” to mean pareto efficient resource allocation, I’d agree that taxes can affect resource allocation and hence “efficiency”. But isn’t it true that, in the face of externalities (like carbon emissions), levying appropriate taxes can improve “efficiency” understood in this way? And, no, I’m not ambivalent about the effectiveness of an ETS.

If we take “efficiency” to mean economic growth, it’s not clear to me that levying taxes would decrease “efficiency” in this sense (ie, economic growth). Surely an important factor here is what these taxes are subsequently used for. For example, if the consumption of luxury goods is taxed and these taxes are subsequently invested in infrastructure projects, why would this decrease economic growth?

JC
JC
13 years ago

For example, if the consumption of luxury goods is taxed and these taxes are subsequently invested in infrastructure projects, why would this decrease economic growth?

So, we need to be clear about what we mean by efficiency.

An Okay a good definition is:

Economic efficiency is a general term for the value assigned to a situation by some measure designed to reduce the amount of waste or “friction” or other undesirable economic features present. Economic efficiency is achieved when the cost of producing a given output is as low as possible. Production of a unit of good or services is termed economically efficient when that unit of good or service is produced at the lowest possible cost. In current usage, the term microeconomic reform refers to any policy that promises to increase economic efficiency (whether it does so or not).

Which is pretty well aiignd to what we’re discussing.

Ever seen a tax levied on luxuries that doesn’t go into the general pool? I haven’t, so suggesting that such a tax would be used to fund better roads etc isn’t happening in the real world. In fact most times it would be for more efficient to levy the tax on he direct user: car owners to roads repairs being one example.

You can’t have lasting economic growth without long term productivity improvements (that’s about as close to the round earth theory as you can get in economics) and you can’t have reasonable productivity growth without the taxing system being at least mindful of that. If taxes had zero behavior effect we should levy 100% tax on capital gains. But we won’t because we know the effect it would have.

The more tax one levies on a good or a service the less you get of it. Tax capital through cap gains and the less capital there is for investment which does have an direct effect on living standards. The capital to labor ratio is the direct causal effect on living standards.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

“The more tax one levies on a good or a service the less you get of it”

So therefore for maximum economic activity and growth we should have zero taxes, and hence effectively no government at all?

Assuming you don’t believe this, then you accept their is some non-zero level of taxes that provides the optimum conditions for economic growth. And in that case, how can you be so sure it shouldn’t be higher than it is currently?

JC
JC
13 years ago

So therefore for maximum economic activity and growth we should have zero taxes, and hence effectively no government at all?

I’ve often thought how ideal that could be, N, yea. The idea of no government has certain appeal especially when I look at the NSW government :-)

I’m referring to Cap gains tax, which I think is the most insidious of all taxes as it is a tax on capital.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Well there I tend to agree – I confess I’ve never understood the reason that capital gains shouldn’t be treated like any other income and taxed accordingly.

But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit that optimal economic growth could be achieved with somewhat higher taxes than we have now – it comes down to the competence of government more than anything. I’d happily argue for tighter constitutional restrictions on *how* taxpayers’s money can be spent.