Conversations with a Libertarian…

Preface, 3/19/2018:

The following conversation originally appeared on Facebook five years ago and is reproduced here virtually verbatim (punctuation and spelling tweaked slightly). It all started with the article at the top of the thread, discussing the aftermath of the 2012 Presidential election. The net result led to a blocking over increasingly virulent discussion concerning the 2nd Amendment, which eventually led to An a-HAH moment worthy of exploration… and the eventual blocking of the original poster.

I’ve since unblocked said individual, which allowed me access to the contents of this post. And now the post is gone on FB, because that’s what’s going to happen to the rest of the posts that are similar to this one.

I’m not turning them back into public posts. I’m just going to move them here.

The fascinating thing, in hindsight, is how much I covered five years ago, and how right I was at the time.

Not expecting acknowledgment, mind you, because that would be admitting he was wrong, but I can still derive at least a tiny fraction of the smuggest satisfaction knowing that he’s going to go down with this ship, even as I try to maintain a dog paddle, and all because Gary Johnson was gonna protect his guns.

Like a slo mo train wreck, really…


Poor Mitt. My heart bleeds for him and his sad wife Ann. He couldn’t get into office because of those darn Black and Hispanic people. They’re the cause of everything bad in this world.

Oh, wait…

Washington Post: Romney, in interview, assigns blame for election loss and criticizes Obama

And because this sort of went along with the interview (as in, it showed up as a related link), here’s part of why they just don’t get how they lost:

Wonkblog: One study explains why it’s tough to pass liberal laws.

Comments:

LS: Blacks and Hispanics? You mean the large number of people whose votes he needed that he insulted in order to curry favor with the small number of people whose votes he wanted?

Me: Yeah. How dare they accept bribes, because obviously that’s what the ACA is. Isn’t it?

LS: An equally popular theory is that the ACA is a strategic milestone on the road to the New World Order.

JT: Hah! A new world order where ordinary people who are not multimillionaires are entitled(tm) to the basic necessities of life, like health care, a decent job at a living wage, education for their children, and a decent, affordable place to live…. Bring it on.

Me: JT gets it too…

RW: In my case, he couldn’t get into office because he chose a complete right-wing nut-job for a running mate.

LS: Paul Ryan was indeed a curious choice, if one’s aim was to win the election.

LSC: Don’t forget the Jews and the Muslims

RW: Your new world order is only sustainable as long as people are willing to have the product of their labor forcibly extracted through taxation to pay for things you assert people are “entitled to” but are either unable or unwilling to work for themselves.

The very minute that those multimillionaires that provide “entitlements” decide that the resultant unrest from cutting them off is less expensive than continuing to pay for them, those thing you feel entitled to will be a fading memory, as you literally struggle to survive in the remnants of a society competing for the basics of food, clothing, and shelter.

You might want to remember that the top 10% of earners pay 71% of all income tax, and the bottom 50% or earners only pay 2% or all income tax. And you might want to remember that wealth not tied to land is portable, and just like O’Malley has run many of the millionaires out of MD with his punishing taxes, Obama can and will do the same thing to America’s wealthiest.

Me: He thought he was speaking to the majority. He still does. He just doesn’t get that the majority has shifted. Denial is an ugly thing. Too bad so many House Republicans believe the exact same thing.

LS: I’m not interested in an entitlement society. What I want to see is a return to the situation that obtained in the U.S. between the end of WWII and 1980, where economic productivity gains were shared in equal measure by all socioeconomic classes. The proverbial “rising tide lifts all boats” really did operate back then. Between 1947 and 1980, the real income/wealth of Americans doubled across every income quintile. This is no longer the case- the benefits of economic productivity are channeled almost exclusively to the top quintile today. The basic question is, why shouldn’t everyone benefit from economic gains the way they used to, and thereby be able to pay for their needs themselves?

Me: Precisely.

This lays it all out. The Cassie Times: It’s all there. All you have to do is look…

You’ve swallowed the kool aid. I suggest you try spitting it out.

Otherwise, you’re saying the super incredibly rich are entitled to withhold their excessive income from the rest of the country. That kills the American Dream just as surely as it did for the Third Estate in France. Whose side are you on?

LS: I assume you’re referencing the video on that page, CT. It describes the current state of income distribution in the U.S., but unfortunately it provides no historical perspective on how we got here. You need that for the complete picture.

Me: See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economics

RW: CT, your chosen author sums up precisely what’s wrong with BOTH parties when he writes “I will freely admit that I have never, ever understood the Libertarian mind.”.

He, is by his own admissions using his own limitation (inability to understand the Libertarian mind) to define my capabilities – that ability to not only understand, but to appreciate and agree, in general principles, with the Libertarian mind.

He asserts that “It never, ever, occurred to them [our founders]that we might one day look down the gun barrels at each other, and fight to the death to protect wealth we have NO chance of ever achieving ourselves.” What he utterly fails to appreciate that it’s not wealth we’d be fighting to protect, it’s confiscation of our own labor to support not an aristocracy, but a permanent welfare class that never has nor likely never will produce anything from their own efforts but more welfare recipients.

When you can give me a valid reason why I should forfeit my earnings in exchange for nothing, in order to provide anything for someone who won’t earn for his or her self, feel free to get back to me.

And your comment about drinking the kool-aid was insulting, and before reading it, I would have considered beneath you.

CT: RW, that chosen author is me. Not all writers are male. Ahem.

And unless you have income in the seven or eight digit range, I suggest you are assuming I’m talking about your money. From the mega-math perspective, you are only a few dollars away from me, and thus not touched at all.

And you have made my point more eloquently than I ever could. The Tea Party isn’t interested in protecting your wealth. Your wealth doesn’t even register as important. You might not be in the 47% Mitt Romney disparaged in his candid comments to the guys he does support, but you should be. Of the 53% (or thereabouts) he assumed were in his camp, most make about the same you do. He wasn’t talking to them, either. That room was full of folks in just the top 2-3%. You can’t touch their income.

RW: I’m not interested in touching their income CT, I’m interested in preserving and protecting my own. The original premise of the TEA part was”Taxed Enough Already”, and I fully agree with that. I stopped supporting them the minute they were hijacked by the religious right. No one has yet provided me with a good reason to support the welfare state other than that if I don’t pay my taxes, I go to jail. Government has always been definable as the lawful use of force, and too much government is the lawful use of excessive force.

And I apologize for presuming the writer was male – the only picture I saw was a guy’s and did jump to that conclusion. On the other hand, the mistake in gender does not in any way negate the truth of my statement that the writes is using a personal limitation to define my capabilities – and that’s an inherently flawed position from which to start.

CT: As I said, the only welfare I’m concerned about is the welfare that keeps Corporate America from helping with preserving and improving our infrastructure. You’re not protecting your wealth, you’re protecting theirs. Just how many multi-million dollar mansions and private islands do you own?

LJ: To be fair, I watched that entire interview on Fox yesterday morning (I was curious what they had to say), and neither of them directly said they lost due to his inability to win the votes of blacks and Hispanics. What he and his wife did say was that they thought Obama had the incumbent advantage of being able to offer money and services to gain votes. And it was the liberal media’s fault. She did say that. Sigh.

CT: Read up on history, both the Reaganomics / American version and the French Aristocracy. Taxed enough isn’t about the little guy and it never has been. You’re being used as a tool. If I were you, I’d be looking at the guys in charge and seeing how their income equated with my own.

NOTE: I receive Earned Income Credit because of my employment situation. That’s the only “welfare” I receive. We’re about to cut loose hundreds of thousands of workers across the country – not just government employees but those in support industries. And all because the Tea Party has decided the rich aren’t rich enough. If that money was freed up, we’d see an increase in income and people would be spending because they could afford to. Now?

Look at where we’re headed, thanks to the “I’m protecting MY wealth” greed of the top 1%.

RW: You really don’t understand that I AM protecting my own welfare, do you? I don’t own a lot, but after 4+ decades of working, and I’m still working part time as a musician, I consider what I have earned from my labor to be mine. I pay taxes on what I earn, federal, and state and county, and the less taxes I pay, the more of what I earn I get to keep. There ARE no free lunches, someone ALWAYS has to pay for what someone else gets without paying for, and if someone gets free medical care, someone else had to pay for it. Someone gets free education, someone else has to pay for it.

At some point, those of us that pay are going to say “enough”, and the more the liberals want to give away for free to someone, the closer that day gets.

CT: Did you read the article I wrote or just blow it off, RW? I address all the points you just made.

If you’re open minded, read the articles.

RW: I read it – I just don’t agree with you.

CT: Hence my comments about the Libertarian mind.

RW: exactly – you don’t understand, therefore it must be wrong

CT: The success of the House GOP is that they’ve convinced poor guys like you that we’re out to get YOUR money. They’ve done everything they can to remove the ability to take THEIR money, but you’ve bought that yours is what’s really at stake. I find that incredibly sad. It’s what will ultimately take this country down.

CT: We could have stopped this progression when Reagan took power in the 1980s. We didn’t. Economists warned then that trickle-down economics didn’t work and that the income equality gap would get worse. It has. But St. Reagan could do no wrong. Every GOP-controlled government since his election has done its level best to further his goals of protecting the rich from being touched by taxes. You should be supremely angry at them for setting us up this way. Instead you’re pissed at me because I see the sham, and you’ve been told I want your money. It comes down to that, doesn’t it?

RW: it doesn’t matter whose money your out to get – if it didn’t come in your paycheck, it’s NOT YOUR MONEY. The fat cats don’t need my help to preserve their wealth – they have lawyers on staff and lobbyists no K street more than capable of doing that. The only wealth I’m trying to protect and preserve is my own, and I know you don’t get that.

CT: Yep. And I know just as much that your wealth isn’t what’s at stake. But dig in your heels, because that’s what the Tea Party is counting on. You’re doing their work just as nicely as if you signed on for them.

RW: You seem to have this fixation about the TEA Party; I happen to know the cure for that, it’s called having a job that pays a good wage. I don’t know how you do that, personally I’m not hiring right now But the first time you get a paycheck with a comma in it, and see how much of what you earned you don’t get to keep, you just might change see the light…or not.

CT: Dude, I’ve been out of full-time work since 2009, when I got laid off. I’ve had resumes out there since then. There *ARE* no jobs for me because I’m almost 50 and there’s hundreds of people who are younger and can do what I do. This isn’t laziness. It’s a fact of the current economy. And now, with Sequestration, that problem’s just going to get worse. Where’s all the unemployment coming from to cover the furloughs? Could you afford to lose a whole month’s pay?

When I bought my house, I had a full-time job, with a comma. There’s still a comma in my salary, but I don’t reach the 20k mark anymore. That puts me *below* taxable income.

Don’t assume I like being down here, either. This is the first time in my entire employment history I’m not making something close to my age in salary. Statistically, I’m with lots and lots of other people.

But you should be proud of me – I’m not on the Welfare dole. My unemployment benefits ran out before the end of 2009, so I’m not getting that, and I’m not on Medicare either. I’m just mad as hell that the rich think this is okay, and that the safety nets that were put in place during the last Great Depression were valueless. Reagan should never have gotten into office. Neither should Bush. And W. did more damage to our economy than either of the first two, by taking us to war to protect his Oil interests.

But go ahead and keep arguing in favor of this and kiss the USA goodbye as you do. It’s only a matter of time before the Chinese call our loans. Enjoy your fantasy of “wealth” as long as you can. Mine’s already mostly gone.

RW: Dude? OK, I guess.

My DW has been out of work since 2005 when she was rear-ended and seriously injured in a car accident the same time her college professor job went from full time to adjunct (read: part time, no benefits), and because as an adjunct professor she just wasn’t rehired for any classes, she never got unemployment benefits – not the first dime. So please don’t presume to tell me about how bad the economy is. She was just released to go back to work last year, and she’s over 60, so don’t presume to tell me how hard it is for someone who’s not a kid to get a job – her resumes haven’t gotten any better response than your’s apparently have.

And quite honestly, I really am proud of you for resisting the lure of welfare – it’s a trap, and no, I’m not being sarcastic or degrading when I say this. And I get that you’re angry, and I totally get that your proud, and frustrated, and pissed about being where you are, especially after playing by the rules for so long.

But what’s going to kill the USA isn’t people who need a temporary assist to help them over rough spots – no matter whether those spots are weeks, months, or years long, but people who never got in the game in the first place. And the current crop of Democrats in office seem intent on granting that pool of people cradle-to-grave entitlements that taxpayers of all income brackets are going to have to provide for, and regrettably, but entirely predictably, those people vote Democrat.

And I seriously doubt that China is in any position to call in our loans, but presuming for a moment that they were, wouldn’t that alone be a great reason to stop borrowing more money to spend? Doesn’t borrowing money to give away sound like a fiscally irresponsible thing to do? And I’m talking about all give-away, foreign aid, too much big government, too much defense, the whole gamut of federal spending. People are going batshit over $82B in sequestration when that’s an almost insignificant part of the federal annual expenditure (I’m not going to legitimize it by calling it a “budget”). If the government ONLY did those things it was authorized to do under the Constitution, I think it could (fill in word between possibly and probably) both pay down the national debt AND take care of all the legitimate social needs of society. but we’re paying (but not quite) for FAR too much government doing far too many things it was never authorized to do under the Constitution, and that’s what I’m trying to protect my remaining wealth from. But somewhere along the line (which would by LBJ’s “Great Society”) people got the idea they were “entitled” to things that the government had to provide. They’re simply wrong.

CT: Frankly, I’d be happy if we just went back to the New Deal.

RW: That might be an improvement over the current conditions, I don’t know as much about the new deal as I should, but I do know that there was a LOT less government at all levels then. My dad worked for the CCC during the summer – that was a new deal employment program. And I like what this website gives as one of the purposes of it “Close to the heart of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the CCC combined his interests in conservation and universal service for youth. He believed that this civilian “tree army” would relieve the rural unemployed and keep youth “off the city street corners.”
<http://www.history.com/topics/civilian-conservation-corps>

At least the taxpayers were getting something for their tax dollars; my dad helped build Fort DuPont park in DC. But try to do that today and some lawyer would be in federal court asserting a position that you were violating someones “rights” by making them work in order to receive money, I fear.

And I like the New Deal Cafe too.

KBG: Thanks for this discussion. RW – I don’t know you but please understand, I’m like CT. I don’t understand the libertarian mind and am trying to understand. I really do wonder about my questions and wouldn’t mind meeting you someday to discuss face to face versus impersonally online. To paraphrase, you’re saying you don’t want to give up the money you’re earning to something you don’t see as beneficial. In this case, that something is welfare. Is that accurate? If so, what about other things that may not benefit you personally. Do you feel the same way about public schools? Monitoring weather of the whole US when you aren’t located there? Or perhaps my job of monitoring fisheries? From my standpoint, there are countless federal and state things that do not impact me personally. But I feel all of us should pay for them ‘for the common good.’ (Yeah, I know – if I had a better phrase, I’d use it.) As an example, if we aren’t all paying for public schools, then only people who through no fault of their own have an advantage of money will have an education. That won’t help us as a society grow. I could make the same argument about pretty much everything out there that doesn’t affect me personally, including welfare. I feel very few people actually choose to be on welfare. Most people want to feel they are contributing something to society. But in today’s economy, as CT has stated, the jobs aren’t there. So if we’re not going to help support people and get them on their feet, where does that leave us as a society? Does that mean we leave people (individuals? Families? That 3 yr old who has no choice or understanding) to starve because we can’t see the benefit of supporting them? Under welfare, many of them are already starving. I can’t imagine not supporting them. If anything, I think most of us should pay more taxes to help support these programs and mo (revive our infrastructure, rebuild the power grid, come up with better ideas to protect against cyber attacks while maintaining personal privacy, improve education opportunities, improve knowledge on health, work on climate change and more sustainable power, etc). And that’s why I have trouble understanding the libertarian mind. None of these ideas can work without more funding. Please help me understand what our choices are as a society for dropping welfare or any of these other programs.

RW: KBG, I think that being like CT is a good thing – she’s smart and passionate about what she believes. You pose a lot of good questions, some of which I don’t have answers to, and really, maybe no one does, I don’t know.

And in no certain order, I strongly favor public schools, especially when they’re allowed to teach, and not hamstrung by Standards of Learning crap. I think everyone benefits from having an informed and educated citizenry.

Weather monitoring – definitely a Good Thing, other wise, when we all know when to go buy all the milk and toilet paper for miles around.

Monitoring fisheries? I have absolutely what that is or who benefits from your doing it, so I’ll pass on that.

But the FDA arresting a farmer who sells whole milk to a willing buyer? That’s a total waste of my money. As is the EPA going after Gibson guitars and confiscating a million dollars of raw wood they’d legally imported from another country. Why our EPA has any control over international transactions is beyond me; I’d cut that entire agency to the bone.

But in general, if the beneficiary is not the general public, I’d say it should be supported by user fees and not tax dollars. And that’s where it all gets murky, because intelligence people of high moral standards and personal integrity can, will, and probably should disagree on things like that, and that’s why we have a Republic and not a Democracy. The theory behind that was to prevent what Jefferson and others referred to as the “tyranny of the majority” in which a majority of people could simply vote them selves benefits at the expense of the minority; we’re VERY close to that right now.

As to the shortage of jobs, one thought I’ve had is that we may have to get away from the idea that a full-time job = 40 hours a week, and with that, the notion that anything LESS than 40 hours qualifies for whatever employment benefits an employer offers.

My basic operating premise is that last thing that got better because the federal Government got involved was World War 2, and if the government isn’t going to make it better for We the People, then it should stay the hell away from it.

I suspect – which means I don’t know, really – that if the federal government were pared back to it’s Constitutionally authorized functions and was allowed to tax only enough to do those few things, and maybe a little more to pay down the debt, that there would be enough money that people would give to those charities they support because people are, I think, basically good and caring. But when the tax burden at the federal and state level is such that there’s little or nothing left over, then people take care of what’s important to their own immediate needs.

FH: ” And the current crop of Democrats in office seem intent on granting that pool of people cradle-to-grave entitlements that taxpayers of all income brackets are going to have to provide for, and regrettably, but entirely predictably, those people vote Democrat.”

oops. The assumption i quoted above from a previous writer is incorrect per the article i am going to try and find.
TaxProf Blog: Red States Feed at Federal Trough, Blue States Supply the Feed

and here’s another one from the NYTimes: Moochers Against Welfare

And, i’m tossing this one in for good measure. Reason.com: The Red/Blue Paradox Why do liberal states give while conservative states take?

KBG: Thanks RW and FH. You’ve both given me a lot to think about. And don’t forget to buy milk and TP this week.

FH: And the perpetual Welfare Recipients maybe they exist. And maybe they don’t. But, they certainly provide a political whip that doesn’t examine the issue, but criticizes the character of the people and the providers. Seems to ignore reality of life. The Earned Income Tax Credit attempts to bring people like CT up to a standard of living to keep them working. And, many on Welfare use it as a stepping stone for hard times. Just cutting programs doesn’t help them. And patronizing them doesn’t help them.

RW: FH – I read the three articles you posted, and they all have in common one thing – they seem to equate all federal spending with being welfare of some sort, discounting entirely spending for which the taxpayer receives benefit, whether it be research at a university or building planes and tanks and, in my own state of MD, the Beretta 9mm military sidearm. [an aside, Beretta is probably going to leave because our heavily Democrat controlled legislature keeps playing stupid anti-gun games]

I absolutely cannot argue the point the red states want to cut spending for abortion – which regardless of one’s position on abortion I think is bad fiscal policy, aside from being no one else’s business whether it’s privately or publicly funded.

But I have yet to see a valid study (by which I mean the data analysis has been peer-reviewed in a legitimate journal somewhere) that shows Republicans are more likely to get long-term welfare than Democrats, or any other demographic.

I do totally agree that MOST welfare recipients are not accepting welfare out of anything other than a necessity they put behind them as quickly as possibly, and they’re neither the target nor focus of my Libertarian stance.

CT: You almost had me, RW. The problem is that you can’t answer the question “What good is the EPA?” with a strong response because corporate America gutted their ability to do what they were designed to do: Protect the Environment. An example: Do you recall what the air was like prior to catalytic converters? I know I do. The other day, I was driving with the vent open behind a car with an oil leak. The results were simply nasty. My kids were howling in the back with the smell. I said “now imagine all the cars smelling like that.”

We’ve forgotten the good agencies like the EPA do. KBG’s job is to maintain regulations over fisheries – that means that if you eat fish, theoretically, you can count on the safety of the food you eat. Important? Depends on how much mercury and other junk you want to eat along with the food.

The problem isn’t in the government agencies. It’s corporate control over the government agencies. Every time I hear the words “privatize” or “voucher” or “deregulation” it makes me want to scream, because those words represent a systematic corporate dismantling of public programs that are designed to keep greed out of the system and maintain public safety and welfare (the kind indicated by our Declaration of Independence).

If your theory held true about charity, there would be no organizations hurting for funds. The arts, church programs and more would be funded fully. Homeless people would have shelter and a chance to improve their situations. Frankly, as a non-profit employee, I don’t see a lot of that money floating around. It’s all tied up. The fallacy of charity as a means to cover our poor is what lets these plutocrats get away with the crap they do. It’s a carrot-and-stick promise that if we just let them keep their wealth, our lives will somehow get better.

Thirty years down the road, it’s just not true. They know it. And they’re afraid we’re starting to catch on.

I say, good. It’s about time they started to figure out the gravy train won’t go on forever. And I say it’s time to take the real Takers out of the picture before they make it impossible for us to fix what they broke. Nobody should make enough in a single week to pay the salaries of 100 full-time minimum-wage workers in a single month. That’s ludicrous!!!

RW: The EPA is one of those agencies that was started (by a Republican, btw) with the best of intentions, and somewhere along the way lost both its focus and its integrity. You can decide for yourself when that happened, but the example I cited – of armed EPA employees raiding the Tennessee factory of Gibson guitars and impounding $1M worth of raw wood happened, and I have yet to find anything in the document that created them that gives them any authority over wood imported for use in bulding guitars. If you know of something, please share.

Has EPA been gutted by business, gutted is possibly too strong a word. Has industry had an impact, of course, and it should, since the expertise and science about a given industry resides within that industry and not the government. Does industry always play fair? certainly not – it has to be profitable to stay in business, the government regulations don’t even have to be reasonable, much less fair.

And yes, I remember the air before the EPA, and I remember the Potomac River wasn’t fit to swim in too. The EPA does good things when it sticks to those things it’s supposed to do – its when it goes outside its charter that it runs amok.

And the problem with my “theory” about charity is that it’s never been given a chance, since for the average person, there’s so little left over that there’s little or nothing left to give, and the really rich are doing things like funding art galleries and museums and concerts and philharmonic orchestras. That’s the biggest difference between charity and philanthropy – the size of the check.

And you say that no one should make “enough in a single week to pay the salaries of 100 full-time minimum-wage workers in a single month. That’s ludicrous!!!”

Where’s your authority on that? And how do you feel about a movie star making more in a few months that you and I will see in our combined lifetimes? All they do is look good and say a few lines at a time that someone wrote and follow directions of some director. They don’t actually make anything. how about sports figures that earn 7 or 8 figure salaries because they can move some object from point A to point B?

You probably don’t want to hear this, but we’re living in the days of Bread and Circuses, just like the ones the preceded the fall of the Roman Empire and the end of “Pax Romana”. And if we don’t find something for the unemployed and underemployed people to do that’s not inherently demeaning, or at least that provides some sense of satisfaction and self-worth, we’re going down the tubes, and it won’t matter what we think about any of this because we’ll all be scrambling to make ends meet, and some of us will be better prepared than others.

CT: You mean this? It’s the only non-Tea site I could find (and that includes Weekly World News) to describe the incident. Says right here what they were doing: The Hill: Environmental, industry groups push back against Gibson Guitar

“The Lacey Act makes it a crime to import plants or wildlife into the U.S. if those goods were obtained in a way that violated the laws of another country.

Conservatives have ridiculed the idea that government agents would raid American factories to enforce foreign laws.

The Lacey Act is a century-old statute, but it was amended to protect plants in only 2008. That change was a victory for a rare alliance of environmental and industry groups, who usually find themselves on the opposite sides of issues.”

Okay, so Gibson did something illegal and was raided for it. But you’re concerned because Boehner (our Tea Party Man of the Hour) says it’s crazy. Right. And I should believe him why, exactly?

Another tempest in a teapot. But there’s far more fuss about this than there is about Bainport. I just don’t get it. Still lost.

Putting corporations in charge of regulatory agencies and complaining about their inability to do their jobs is like putting wolves in the sheep folds and then wondering why the sheep are suddenly dying. The wolves have a great time and get what they want. No problem. For them.

RW: so you have an inherent prejudice against what you consider a Tea site? Not terribly surprising, though somewhat disappointing. Just because the Tea party says something that doesn’t mean it’s not true. The information I read shortly after the incident said that the wood came from the country legally – and that according to a spokesperson from the country of origin, and that the problem was a typographical error on a shipping document. And if your company relied on that wood to make fingerboards for guitars, you’d think it was a lot more than a tempest in a teapot.

So Gibson DID or DIDN’T do something that was illegal (only two options), and the EPA storm troopers came into a privately owned company with guns drawn and confiscated private property, and you DON’T have a problem with that? Do you really NOT have a problem with every tom, dick, and harry government agency having heavily armed troops?

I darned sure do.

CT: I have a lot of trouble with lumber taken from Madagascar. If that’s where it derived, it was taken illegally. Speaking from an environmental standpoint, the island is already having trouble with deforestation, and providing an illegal source for guitars? Really? Just one more way to encourage the island’s destruction. So yes, I do have a problem with it, because it violates a more basic principle: respect for the interdependent web of which we are a part.

RW: it’s probably a Tea party site and you’ll think it’s all lies, but the wood came form India, and Gibson pleaded guilty and paid a $300K fine and forfeited the wood <Reason.com: Gibson Guitar Settles Federal Case That Resulted in 2011 Armed Raid; Pays $300,000 Fine> because it was cheaper to pay the fine than fight the unlimited resources of the EPA (unlimited thanks to taxpayers)

And I still say it’s crap government.

CT: And there isn’t a reliable source (read: mainstream) that picked up on it. Plus which, Gibson WAS wrong. Here: Gibson Guitar Corp. Agrees to Resolve Investigation into Lacey Act Violations

“Gibson Guitar Corp. entered into a criminal enforcement agreement with the United States today resolving a criminal investigation into allegations that the company violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and importing ebony wood from Madagascar and rosewood and ebony from India.”

The difference is that my site is the government site, without the added bias.

RW: CT, if you think that the DoJ site isn’t biased towards whatever its current boss wants YOU need to stop drinking the kool aid. I’ve spend 29 years inside a government and and saw what was let outside, and I’ve seen what’s real versus what’s made public

Remember that this is the very same DoJ with the very same attorney general that let guns walk into Mexico and got at least one US government employee killed because of it and the very same attorney general that’s been stonewalling a Congressional oversight committee for over a year (and for some totally incomprehensible reason, getting away with it). So PLEASE don’t come to me with a government website and expect me to treat the information with any more deference that you do a conservative site.

CT: Okay, RW. We’re done here.

Your distrust of the government is way beyond any rational discussion if you can take the brief filed by the government and say it’s worthless. We simply can’t discuss the subject.

Sorry about that.

One more link (Dead — Malware), for the folks who want to understand further. Empathy. That’s what the GOP lacks most. Makes me sad as a human being, really.

RW: I’m not saying its worthless, unless that’s your assessment of every conservative site on the web, and even then I’m not going to say its worthless; I’m saying it’s biased to present the government in the most favorable light possible, and Gibson in the worst possible light possible; the government holds all the power, and has absolutely no reason to do otherwise. Gibson made a business decision to plead to whatever the government said so they could cut their losses and get back to making guitars. Making guitars is Gibson’s business, as it has been for over a century; fighting lawsuits is not their primary business and innocent or guilty, they deemed it cheaper to pay a fine and get back to making money.

But you are right, I no longer trust the government to either obey the law, nor to uphold the constitution.
and if I came off as snarky, I apologize, I’ve been writing testimony for tomorrow’s Judiciary Committee hearing and I’m tired. I earnestly hope I haven’t said anything that would let you think that I hold you in other than the greatest regard, despite our philosophical differences in some areas.

CT: Not snarky. Embittered. Sad, that. S’okay. I’m coming from a different POV. Suspect that won’t change.

RW: I just read the article you sent – though not the comments. I fully agree with her when she said the Republican party moved away from her – I feel the same way, which is why I voted for Gary Johnson and NOT Mitt Romney. I stay registered as a Rep so I can vote in the Rep primary and hopefully provide a voice within the party that’s not been Shanghaied by the religious right and hopefully do what I can to bring the party more towards the center. I hold no hope of being able to do that as either a Libertarian or Democrat as MD has closed primaries, as I’m sure you know.

And I’m really not embittered, at least I don’t think I am. What I really am is feeling totally besieged by this near-constant attack on gun rights with literally dozens of bills being proposed that, if passed, even the elected officials acknowledge will have NO effect on crime at all, and are only being considered because Gov. O’Malley wants them to pass If I thought for a single second that passing any of these proposed laws would result in ONE criminal obeying them and making our world safer, I’d seriously consider going for it, but that’s not how criminals act, and ALL these bills will do is make it more expensive for me to safely own the firearms I already safely own.

RW: That’s a part of why I like talking with you about this stuff, I know going in that I’m not going to convince you of anything so we talk issues and it’s never going to devolve into personal attacks because that’s not who we are. there are 70+ comments on this thread, and I daresay we’ve made most of them

CT: Yep. And I need to get some sleep and read some more of my Western Civ book. Time to quit for the night.

RW: Pleasant Dreams I’m not far behind…

FH: Good Grief, Y’all! I can’t read all this yet. Thanks RW for clarifying ( comment starting with “FH-“). I’m interested in this quote from that comment: “But I have yet to see a valid study (by which I mean the data analysis has been peer-reviewed in a legitimate journal somewhere) that shows Republicans are more likely to get long-term welfare than Democrats, or any other demographic.”
And, I’m assuming that like-wise, you have not seen a valid study that long term Welfare recipients are Democrats? I hope that you will no longer state that they are. (There are now 70+ entries here and i could not take the time to find where i thought you DID state that.)

I’ve noticed a few posters who are referencing long term Welfare recipients getting a hand out from Obama (which is crazy since if they are long term, they would have gotten the hand outs over many administrations). When people make these types of statements, it seems more politically driven than factual.

Not bad. Only took me 10 min to finish reading this stuff!

I understand and respect CT’s opinion that CEOs and other high paid employees shouldn’t earn so much. But, We are in essence capitalists and salary increases are a part of competing for better workers in general. We cannot regulate that. We can explore and regulate minimum wage, though.

I disagree with the EPA thread, in that the EPA should be able to enforce the laws with what ever it needs to enforce the laws. Raids and commandos may be necessary. And people do break the law. Whether by accident or on purpose. And sometimes they are innocent and accused. We still need to enforce the law. It is often a wise business decision to pay the fine and move on.

Gun laws are not enacted to get criminals to obey them, but to be able to prosecute those that do NOT obey them. The prosecution of criminals is what MAY be a deterrent to crime. But there is no deterrent if there is no law to enable prosecution.

Thanks for the posts here! Ciao!

CT: Thanks, FH!!! RW, I missed one key point I forgot to address: absolutely no question that celebs and sports figure are paid way out of proportion to their relative importance. teachers should make what they do. our general priorities are totally out of whack.

Further, I am certain we are at the end of the American empire. Give me time to get back to a real keyboard and I will illustrate why.

EJ: According to the WSJ in Dec 2011, if every open billet were filled, something like 3/4 of the people now out of work would still be out of work. ‘Get a job’ is nontrivial. See also today’s news: DJIA exceeded its previous record high, and corporate profits have risen at 20x worker compensation.

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