05 Sep 2009

Progressive Thought: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

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So Bob Roddis got me into the bad habit of checking Matt Yglesias’ blog every few days. In this post he follows the all-too-easy pattern–and right-wing pundits do this too–of disposing of an argument by pointing out that the federal politicians making it are (surprise surprise) a bunch of hypocrites:

[A]ll the Republicans plus Senators Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Cantwell (D-WA), Landrieu (D-LA), Lincoln (D-AR), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), and Tester (D-MT) thought nothing of adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit when the beneficiaries were a tiny number of already wealthy households. But quite a few of these people seem very concerned about the idea of spending similar amounts of money on making health insurance affordable to middle class Americans.

I was curious to see if anybody in the comments would point out that the deficit (and long-term forecast of the debt) was a heckuva lot lower when the death tax was phased out. (I assume that’s what they’re talking about; I didn’t follow the link to be sure.) After all, using Yglesias’ argument as-is, I could “prove” my new next door neighbor was a hypocrite by asking why he didn’t buy any house in the city that was as expensive or cheaper than the house he just bought. He can afford it, right?

Anyway, one guy (Brad) in the comments said:

I love it when liberals characterize not confiscating wealth from taxpayers as a “cost.” By that logic, failing to confiscate the entire GDP “costs” the government $13 trillion every year. Those bastards! Blowing a hole in the budget! Liberals really do see every dollar in the US economy as belonging to the US government first.

Not bad, not bad. Some liberals on that thread shot back decent (from their POV) responses (and again I point out that minarchists really have nothing good to say here, except pointing to the vision of some dead guys who wrote the Constitution). But then I read this response that took my breath away:

“Liberals really do see every dollar in the US economy as belonging to the US government first.”

Yes, Brad, I for one, do. Who prints the dollar in the first place? Who issues it? And whose collective will imbues the dollar with its value?


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