It's good to be the Prez
Posted by aogThursday, 14 May 2009 at 20:16 TrackBack Ping URL

The new Chrysler-Fiat partnership will get around U.S. restrictions on executive pay by having its top officers deemed Fiat employees.

Detroit Free Press

Given that the same government has both created those restrictions and obtained a controlling interest in Chrysler, we can reasonably presume that this avoidance meets with the approval of that government. Anything for a friend, eh?

Comments — Formatting by Textile
erp Thursday, 14 May 2009 at 21:01

The executives aren’t UAW.

cjm Thursday, 14 May 2009 at 23:48

hail il duce, americanus caesurus.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 14 May 2009 at 23:55

Labor unions may be President Obama’s best friends, but they’re not his only friends. Any executive that treats Obama as The Man is his friend as well.

Daniel Duffy Friday, 15 May 2009 at 09:17

So now senior executives at Chrysler will be free to spend millions on redecorating their bathrooms while laying off tens of thousdands of hard working, honest Americans. They can continue to vote themselves obscene bonuses while making the bone-headed mistakes that put the American auto industry where it is today.

Who says America isn’t the land of opportunity?

You know, it would be a lot easier to defend unregulated capitalism if the capitalists weren’t such evil, greedy, egotistical, stupid bastards. It would be easier to argue against the welfare state if CEOS weren’t the biggest welfare queens in the country. It woud be easier to argue in favor of free enterprise if it weren’t for the fact that the system tends towards corrupt, freedom killing oligarchy.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 15 May 2009 at 10:17

You seem very confused. All of these things you abjure are happening because free markets are being changed in to government run and controlled satrapies, and your conclusion is that it’s a problem with free markets? You dislike CEOs because they are welfare queens and conclude that objecting to welfare is the problem? I, personally, take this as a text case validating the view that whatever the problems created by a free market, government intervention will create even worse problems.

daniel duffy Friday, 15 May 2009 at 12:11

I’m afraid AOG that you have missed the point, which was to hilite the utter hypocrisy of corporate libertarianism. If the past six months have proven anything, it is that the CEOs (aka the foxes that would be left in charge of the hen house under libertarian ideology) simply cannot be allowed to run fee without adult supervision from government regulators.

Unless of course you are a plumbing contractor earning big bucks remodeling their executive wash rooms.

You also failed to comment on the rest of the paragraph dealing with the character (or lack thereof) of those CEOs or the fact that unregulated wealth accumulates into fewer and fewer hand over time creating a dnager to the democratic process and personal freedom. This accumulation is perfectly natural and often fairly earned.

Too friggin bad.

Wealth is power and its accumulation creates oligarchies that always destroy freedom. To preserve these freedoms, every generation or so the rich have to be treated unfairly and their accumulated wealth confiscated by the less worthy and less talented.

Hey Skipper Friday, 15 May 2009 at 15:19

Daniel:

Review an entire discussion on your argument here.

With the added proviso that the (IIRC) Hatch Act imposed a monopolistic labor cartel on the US automakers. You need look no further for the cause of the Big Three’s problems.

Bret Friday, 15 May 2009 at 15:44

Daniel Duffy wrote: “…it would be a lot easier to defend unregulated capitalism if the capitalists weren’t such evil, greedy, egotistical, stupid bastards.

To me, that’s the single best argument for capitalism. In Socialism, all of those “evil, greedy, egotistical, stupid bastards” would be working for the government and that would be even worse.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 15 May 2009 at 18:45

Bret;

Quite. I read Mr. Duffy’s policy as follows:

  1. Assume angels.
  2. Have the angels regulate the Evil Capitalists.

When I then object “I don’t believe in angels”, Duffy dings me for being against regulation, or actively like the problems caused by the Evil Capitalists. One need only read the phrase “without adult supervision” to see the moral gulf he imagines between the regulators and the Evil Capitalists. From whence this difference, or even its existence, is not to be discussed, only presumed.

I am still at a loss as to what events in the last 6 months indicate failures on the part of the Evil Capitalists. I see a massive power grab by the government that has lead to ever worsening economic conditions. Mr. Duffy, could you be a bit more explicit concerning your references in this matter?

In exactly the same vein, there has certain been an increasing concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands over the last 6 months, but those have been government hands. I don’t see how more government is going to solve that.

Peter Burnet Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 07:12

the fact that unregulated wealth accumulates into fewer and fewer hand over time creating a dnager to the democratic process

Then how do you explain the fact that in the last twenty years or so there are been an unprecendented explosion of house construction and ownership, mass travel, automobile sales, high-tech gadgets and services, stylish cheap clothing, restaurants, etc. etc. How many of those things can “fewer and fewer hands” consume?

Also, in what way does a larger number of super-rich restrict the personal freedom of a huge and growing, well-off middle class? is that economics or schadenfreude?

daniel duffy Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 10:52

“would be working for the government and that would be even worse.”

Oh much worse, becuase they would also have violent force to back them up. And regulators tend to be less than competent. Which is I why assume:

1. Nobody is an angel.

2. Have a balance of power between regulators and the regulated.

As Madison said, if men were angels there would be no need for government. If business were angels there would be no need for regulation. But since businessmen are too often far removed from angels as humanly possible, they need to be regulated - sometimes heavily regulated. Also since the regulators aren’t angels we need to have “ambition check ambition” with a divided government and separation of powers.

AOG, you have it backwards. Now go back to the start of the financial meltdown and you will see that the worsening economic conditions preceded a power grab by the government (just like the Crash of ‘29 preceded the New Deal). If the capitalists on Wall Street hadn’t screwed the pooch, there would have been no excuse or reason for Obama and the Democrats to step in and take over. What preceded the financial meltdow was the gutting of laws and regulations (beginning with the overturning of Glass-Steagal) as well as the staffing and budgets of the regulatory agencies governing the financial markets and keeping them honest.

What libertarians and socialist fail to understand is that the economic game requires BOTH players AND referees. Take away either and the game collapses. Now we can argue about the necessary degree of economic freedom vs. degree of economic regulation, but both will always be necessary given that people are not angels.

Peter, the danger comes from the very rich taking effective control of the political process, deciding who gets to run for office, what bills get passed, etc. via the power of lobbying, advertising, campaign contributions, and money that the ordinary voter cannot hope to match. For an excellent example of how the concentration of wealth destroyed a republic look at the histroy of the late Roman Republic from the assassination of the Gracchi to reign Augustus. All this occured while the Roman middle class, the equites, were the wealthiest they had ever been.

Tom C Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 12:40

You make Andrew Jackson’s case against central banking. The game is rigged and it’s rigged by the state. Get to the root of the disease and stop fixating on the symptoms. The problem is government and the bureaucratic/admistrative state structure we’ve inherited from the progressive era and the governing philosophy of interest group liberalism developed by FDR and locked in place by LBJ. Time to get back to basics.

erp Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 13:24

All the evil CEO’s and capitalists are lefties now and have been for at least the last 25 years and maybe even longer and their buddies in congress have been resisting constraint because they’ve found that giving out the goodies buys votes and the media love them, so they don’t have to worry about re-election no matter what they do.

Nice work if you can it.

daniel duffy Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 16:41

Tom - by basics, do you mean we should get rid o child labor lawas and let kids under 12 work in factories and mines just like th good ole days? How about getting rid of the food a drug administration and (for example) going back to packing meat the way Upton Sinclair described in “The Jungle”? Wall Street never did like the SEC (asWill Rogers commented back in the 30s, “For some reason, Wall Street bankers don’t want a cop on their corner” - neither would I if I was the theif). Geez, one little Depression and the government thinks its can regulate you.

If capitalism could work without regulations there would never have been any regulators. Why is that hard to understand?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 22:01
Then how do you explain the fact that in the last twenty years or so there are been an unprecendented explosion of house construction and ownership, mass travel, automobile sales, high-tech gadgets and services…

Loose money policies by the Feds and lax lending standards in the private sector, which has resulted in the current situation: The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a high-tech boom ‘n’ bust that vaporized trillions of dollars, the bankruptcy of the entire American automobile industry, an ENORMOUS glut of completely unneeded houses, and the coming bankruptcy of the entire American homebuilding industry.

The “good times” were built on debt, not on productivity. Now the good times are gone, but the debt remains.

Hey Skipper Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 22:56

Three words: Community Reinvestment Act.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Saturday, 16 May 2009 at 23:04

To follow up a bit:

“Since the early 1980s,” begins a report in the Economist, “spending by households on goods, services and homes has grown faster than GDP, making it the locomotive of American - and global - expansion. By 2006 it accounted for 76% of nominal GDP, the highest since quarterly data began in 1974.

“This was accompanied by a steady decline in the personal saving rate and a rise in household debt relative to income…”

Andrea Harris Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 08:40

“Wealth is power and its accumulation creates oligarchies that always destroy freedom. To preserve these freedoms, every generation or so the rich have to be treated unfairly and their accumulated wealth confiscated by the less worthy and less talented.”

Communism in a nutshell. And we know how well for everyone communist wealth-grabs and “punish those mean rich people” movements turned out for everyone. Though I suppose to Mr. Duffy all the people who died weren’t deserving of life, since they had the nerve to have a bit more money (or as was just as likely, had the wrong thoughts or didn’t support the Party or were too weak to fight the looters) than their murderers. But I’m sure it will turn out differently this time — Obama is our Great Leader, our Great Leader would never allow anything bad to happen. When “wealth” is “redistributed” then we’ll all have magic flying unicorns to ride and we won’t need money anymore because we’ll all have a palace to live in and plenty of skittles to eat.

daniel duffy Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 11:31

I for one welcome our new socialist overlords. 30 hour work weeks, universal medical care, luxury mass transit, and assured retirement are looking real good about now. Real good.

Anyway, the accumulation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands followed by its confiscation and redistribution is one of those naturally reoccurring historical cycles that no statesman or economist has ever figured out how to break. As noted by historian Will Durant:

“Since practical ability differs from person to person the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in the minority of men. The concentration of wealth is the natural result of this concentation of ability, and regularly reoccurs in history. The rate of concentration varies (other factors being equal) with the economic freedom permitted by morals and laws.… Democracy, allowing for the most liberty, accelerates it. … In progressive societies the concentrtion may reach the point where the strength of numbers of the many poor rivals the strength of ability of the few rich; then an unstable equilibrium generates a crtitical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution redistibuting poverty.”

In other words wealth and power always concentrate into fewer and fewer hands. This eventually makes a society unstable. Stability can be restored either peacefully through legislation and taxation, or violently by revolution. Examples of the first include the reforms of Solon in ancient Athens and FDR’s New Deal in America. Examples of the latter include the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the fall of the Shah of Iran. Once a degree of levelling has occured, wealth accumulation begins another cycle, until society again becomes unstable and the process has to repeat itself. The only choice availalbe to us in this inevitable historical cycle is whether the redistibution is to be accomplished peacefully (by regulation and taxation) or violently (by guillotine, firing squad or gulag).

But redistribution of wealth occurs as needed during the cycle and cannot be stopped anymore than the tide coming in or the sun going down - no matter how much you complain or protest. Because of the blindness and greed of the wealthy few in the financial sector, America has reached that point.

And it is a good thing that redistribution of wealth happens, otherwis our political freedoms would be endangered. Wealth is power - and power corrupts. A few wealthy oligarchs can use their money and influence to make a sham of any democracy. When the concentration of wealth creates an oppressive ruling class, freedom is dead no matter what is written in the constitution. A perfect example of this would be the history of the late Roman Republic (before the Empire). When the dust settled and Octavian emerged as sole ruler (and first emperor) of Rome, the Republic was dead and replaced by a hidden dictatorship. Rome still called itself a Republic, elections were still held, and the Senate still debated. But the power was held by only one man.

My wish is that America avoid the fate of Rome by following the example of Solon and by repeating the actions of FDR. Now can the taking of often hard earned and honestly gained wealth from the capable few and giving it to the less capable many be considered fair? Of course not. It is a completely unfair act. But there are more inmportant things than fairness, like political freedom and preserving it from the danger of concentrated wealth.

To finish by quoting Durant again: “The government of the United States in 1933-1952 and 1960-1965, followed Solon’s peaceful methods and accomplished a moderate and pacifying redistribution; perhaps someone had read history. The upper classes in America cursed, complied, and resumed the concentration of wealth.”

Andrea Harris Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 14:00

“I for one welcome our new socialist overlords. 30 hour work weeks, universal medical care, luxury mass transit, and assured retirement are looking real good about now. Real good.”

Wow, you’ve not only swallowed the kool-aid, you’ve washed down a couple of tabs of acid with it, and now you’re seeing unicorns in your living room. Don’t worry, they only crap rainbows.

As for the rest of your comment: tl;dr.

erp Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 14:46

“I for one welcome our new socialist overlords. 30 hour work weeks, universal medical care, luxury mass transit, and assured retirement are looking real good about now. Real good.”

As Mrs. Thatcher correctly noted, socialism falls apart when it runs out of other peoples money to spend. Until now, the rest of the world counted on us for OPM.

Where are they going to go now?

BTW - Mr. Duffy, I’m guessing you’ve never been to Europe or Mexico or SA or Asia or Africa. If you had, you might not be so anxious to join in their fate.

daniel duffy Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 14:48

Hey, nice ad hominem there Andrea.

So tell me, are you capable of logical arguemnt and factual discourse capable of refuting the rest of my comment?

P.S. By the way , the first comment was suppose to be humorous. This is a tough crowd.

Tom C Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 15:20

Daniel- I’m not really sure what your point is. The progressive era of yellow journalism and hyperbolic reporting in the service of an unlimited central state was a disservice to our founding principles. Sinclair Lewis was a fraud. The constitution permits regulation of interstate commerce and it goes without saying that killing your customers is a bad business prctice. The states are more than competent in regulating intrastate commerce and should be left alone to do so. Child labor laws were merely another power grab by the central state as were the court’s rulings in roe and doe. Today children are required to attend school by the states and localities. The ‘liberal’ zeitgeist is so self-righteously concerned with the welfare of children today that it actually recomends killing them up to birth to avoid the theoretical poverty and abuse it’s belived they will face if permitted to live. I don’t think child labor laws serve much purpose in such an environmnet other than highlighting the absurdity of progressivism and central statism.

daniel Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 16:32

Tom - So you think its OK for children to work in mines and factories?

Apparently I’ve been wasting my time talking to crazy people.

Tom C Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 17:09

What mine or factory will hire children who should be in school? Which state would permit it? You throw up straw man arguments in support of what I can’t tell. The progressive mythology is bunk. Stop wasting your precious time.

Andrea Harris Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 17:55

Actually, it’s our precious time he’s wasting, with his wild and bizarre accusations and his “evil capitalist saintly socialist” propaganda straight out of some old Soviet cartoon.

Oh well — I’ve got child servants to beat. You wouldn’t believe how uppity the little minxes get if you don’t take the strap to ‘em regular.

daniel duffy Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 18:15

Andrea - I’ve made it very clear that socialists are just as foolish as libertarians. Arguing over whihc of these two economic extremes is more wrong is like arguing over who was more evil, Nazis or Communists.

Still waiting for that factual/logical counterargument.…..

David Cohen Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 20:34

Daniel: Screaming “Pink” at the top of your lungs doesn’t call for a reasoned response.

Stop being a dick, state a position, and we’ll respond.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 22:03

By quite a large margin, the most-likely endgame of unrestrained capitalism is oligarchy, punctuated by periods of technological or social revolution, but settling again into new oligarchical patterns.

Every single member of the G7, and at least 16 of the G-20, (interestingly enough, among the excluded is the one avowed “Communist” nation), are “socialist” by 19th Century standards, some very decidedly so. It’s a rather settled matter of history that that’s the way the majority of people in advanced industrialized nations want it.

Nor are they foolish to want it so, since as technology advances, fewer and fewer among us will have even the potential ability to be core players in the new elite. In the most-likely future, most of us will be the equivalent of household help. The Singularity will make life better for ALL on Earth, but it will also usher in a new age of Gilded Capitalism, in which only the brightest, most creative, and most driven will have real work to do. The rest of us will be salespeople or taking in each others’ washing.

In short, arguing over which is better, capitalism or socialism, is kinda pointless. What we’ve got, and will continue to have, is socialism. If you wanna live in a raw capitalist society, move to China.

Andrea Harris Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 23:09

“What we’ve got, and will continue to have, is socialism. If you wanna live in a raw capitalist society, move to China.”

Sir, I think you need to check the settings on your Tardis — you don’t seem to be in the correct universe.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 23:26
Sir, I think you need to check the settings on your Tardis — you don’t seem to be in the correct universe.

LOL

Witty. But seriously, the meaning of words changes over time. What you think of as “capitalism” is FAR different than the system under which Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller, or J.P. Morgan labored - and dominated. However, Jesse Livermore, John Law and of course Charles Ponzi would be right at home in the current conditions.

Bret Monday, 18 May 2009 at 00:08

Daniel Duffy wrote: “If capitalism could work without regulations there would never have been any regulators.

Capitalism has worked many times without regulators. On most frontiers, including the american frontier, for example.

Bret Monday, 18 May 2009 at 00:11

AVery… wrote: “The rest of us will be … taking in each others’ washing.

Nah. Robots will do that.

Bret Monday, 18 May 2009 at 00:34

Daniel Duffy wrote: “…the accumulation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands followed by its confiscation and redistribution is one of those naturally reoccurring historical cycles…

In the ages prior to the information age, the concept of confiscating and redistributing wealth at least had a certain plausibility to it (even if it didn’t actually work then either). If I had a pile of gold or acres of land or possibly a bunch of trucks or something like that, yeah, you could confiscate it and give it to someone else. It might do them some good, it might not, but at least something of value was taken and transferred and might at least be plausibly valuable to the new owners (whether government or private).

In the information age, it’s tough to even make a convincing pretense of confiscation and redistribution. How do you confiscate knowledge and information from those who know how to put it to productive uses? How do you transfer knowledge and information that is freely available anyway? How do you transfer education to those who are uninterested in learning?

So you may well be right that we’re coming to a point in the cycle where jealousy enables those who lust for power to inflame the masses against the productive members of society. But there will be no confiscation and redistribution this time. Only wealth destruction. You can keep people with knowledge from producing, but you can’t actually transfer any real wealth from them to others who are less fortunate. The productive will pay a price, but they’ll live just fine like they always do. The poor will bear the true burden of the wealth destruction, this time more than ever.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 18 May 2009 at 15:11

Wow, take a weekend off and this happens.

A few points —

Have a balance of power between regulators and the regulated

Many of us think that balance should be that the regulators set as few and neutral rules as possibles, and the regulated decide how to act within that framework. The current system is for the regulators to actively intervene (such as deciding on pay limits, or handing ownership of private companies to favored political allies). Perhaps you might be so good as to tell us how the Obama Administration measures up to this balance you favor.

the danger comes from the very rich taking effective control of the political process

Ah, might one not mitigate that danger by reducing the scope of action of the government? Would it not be far better to forbid the government from doing a thing, than to constantly worry about who might get control to do that thing?

For an excellent example of how the concentration of wealth destroyed a republic look at the histroy of the late Roman Republic from the assassination of the Gracchi to reign Augustus. All this occured while the Roman middle class, the equites, were the wealthiest they had ever been.

I was taught in my college classes on the Roman Empire of that period that, in fact, the middle classes were effectively wiped out. In fact, wiped out in a manner rather reminiscent of the Obama Administration’s economic policies.

go back to the start of the financial meltdown and you will see that the worsening economic conditions preceded a power grab by the government (just like the Crash of ‘29 preceded the New Deal)

Yet the start of the financial meltdown was much more than 6 months ago. You were the one who set that time limit, are you now abandoning it because it didn’t work out? My claim is that the actions of the Obama Administration caused the problem, my claim is that those actions are making a problem in to a disaster. You have yet to make even a counter-claim to that, much less present evidence for it.

Let’s look at this quote you provide

Since practical ability differs from person to person the majority of such abilities, in nearly all societies, is gathered in the minority of men. The concentration of wealth is the natural result of this concentation of ability, and regularly reoccurs in history

This rests on a rather static view of an economy. Is there no death in this model? No shift of talent between generations? Or does this concentration happen all within a single generation? Might one not look at, say, Sam Walton, as an example of this concentration and note that

  1. Sam Walton shifted the concentration from others to himself.
  2. His descendents are on a downward spiral of less concentration of wealth.

Or does that not fit The Narrative?

Tom C Tuesday, 19 May 2009 at 15:22

“Wealth” is not a zero sum game, unless the state gets involved in it’s re-distribution.

Gronker Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 08:52

Look, this really isn’t that hard. Government redistribution of wealth is slavery. It forces some members of society (the productive, useful ones) to work for the benefit of others (those that can’t earn for themselves) and enforces this act by the threat and use of violence or reduction in liberty. Slavery is evil, short of killing or raping someone, it is one of the most evil acts in the world, IMHO.

Work (production) should only be done in a mutually agreed upon structure, commonly called a contract. This is only viable when both parties, un-coerced, agree to provide value for value. I paint your house, you give me money. Yay!

There are a lot of theories about an “unwritten social contract” each member of society has with each other. [I personally think it should get WRITTEN and agreed upon in order to become a citizen but that is an argument for another day]. But almost everyone can agree that if there are clauses in a contract where one side works/pays and receives no benefit, that clause is flawed and the contract is suspect. Redistribution of wealth by the government is just such a “clause”. I didn’t sign up for it, and I don’t get a commensurate benefit for my end of the bargain. It’s slavery.

And “regulation”, in the sense Mr. Duffy puts forward, is creating bias towards one party of a contract at the expense of the other. This is coercion. It is tantamount to slavery. It is illegal for any other party in our society to do this, except our government. Doesn’t that say something?

Government can best serve it’s citizens (which is its only job, Mr. Duffy) by creating a fair and level playing field. It does this by making sure that contracts are enforced and that they are clearly written and understood by both parties. That’s it. Anything else is slavery.

Bret Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 10:43

Gronker wrote: “Government redistribution of wealth is slavery.

No, it’s not. I might consider it theft, but definitely not slavery.

Gronker wrote: “It forces some members of society (the productive, useful ones) to work for the benefit of others…

No, it doesn’t. The productive do not have to work, or at least they can work so little that the government benefits they receive exceed the taxes they pay. This isn’t hard to do.

Peter Burnet Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 11:36

Plus surely equating productive, useful members of society with those in higher tax brackets is more than a little problematic.

erp Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 12:13

Bret, IMO, productive people work less for the money than because it’s something they like and need to do. Most of the time, it’s also profitable, but that can change too.

Peter, are you speaking of politicians, academics, media personalities and others garnering public funds?

Bret Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 12:36

erp,

I agree that money is not usually the sole motivator behind career choice.

However, considering my own case, while I really like what I do, if it weren’t for the monetary incentive, I would do it far, far less (probably just a few hours per week instead of the 60-80 I’ve averaged over the last ten years). Also, if money had nothing to do with it, I would probably have done something else altogether, most likely I would’ve been a composer/arranger/musician. In which case I wouldn’t’ve been particularly useful to society.

I think this is a relatively typical example. So money is an important incentive and that’s why high taxes (required for redistribution) really aren’t a good idea.

Gronker Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 15:14

Bret: Sematics, I think. Theft of my effort by means of violence, or the threat thereof, is slavery, IMHO. And requiring me to withhold my effort to keep it from being stolen is the same thing as theft, since I am deprived of its value in either case.

Peter: I would not equate usefulness and higher taxed, but I would say there is a VERY high corelation. Money is not some natural resource randomly distributed, it is the measure of some value to society. And that value is often (not always) produced by usefulness to society. Skill in making buggy-whips is not likely to make alot of money since society doesn’t find them useful (except in the S&M scene :)

I guess the point is that higher tax bracket types TEND to be those who are more productive and who produce some value to society as a whole. Handcuffing these people lowers the overall value in society, which benifits no one. See Adam Smith for more on this idea :)

erp Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 15:19

Bret, perhaps if you’d spent 60 to 80 hours a week on your music, you’d be wildly successful at it and raking in the money and fame. My point is that productive people can’t just hang out for very long because that brain just keeps on churning and even hobbies and past times can turn into what most people call work.

Bret Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 18:51

Gronker: Okay, we can call it semantics, but to me, if you’re not forced to work by mean or threat of violence, it is not slavery. It’s very hard for me to consider hanging out at the beach, flying kites being a type of slavery. But if that’s your definition, then at least I know what you mean when and if you use the term in the future.

erp: Unfortunately, “productive” really means producing things of value for others. Just creating stuff isn’t really productive if others have no use for it.

The difference between a hobby and work? About 40 hours a week.

Gronker Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 22:08

Bret: Understood, but what if the choice is between starving or working under the conditions I described above. Or making your house payment? Or paying tuition for your kids to go to school? Its just a matter of degree, I suppose, but the concept is the same.

Bret Friday, 22 May 2009 at 10:47

Gronker: You’d have to work pretty hard at it to actually starve, so that’s not really a consideration. The rest is just understanding the game and optimizing your (and your family’s) place in it. A real slave doesn’t even have that choice.

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