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October 27, 2008

Why John McCain Is Losing: It's That Vision Thing, Again

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18

It's been interesting watching the implosion of the Republican party from a distance. As election day draws closer the hysteria mounts as conservative pundit after conservative pundit goes wobbly at the knees or jumps ship entirely. It is unseemly, this mad scramble to be the first to say, "I told you so" before the votes are even decently counted.

It is almost as though you and I - We the Ordinary People - ceased to matter somewhere along the way. Like shushed children expected to be seen but not heard, we sit on the sidelines while the grown-ups chide us for being energized by moose-loving populists or argue heatedly over what went wrong and who is to blame. Charles Krauthammer's endorsement of John McCain, while unsurprising, was at least clear-sighted when so many appear bemused by the transformational and trance-like nature of The One's candidacy:

Today's economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I'm for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.

Krauthammer makes a good point, but you don't win elections by giving voters reasons to reject the front runner. This is a negative, rather than a positive appeal: it does nothing to make your man look Presidential. If you're serious about winning over undecided voters, you must also give them something to vote for.

There are a million factors causing the McCain/Palin ticket to lag behind in the polls right now, but none of them (contrary to the premature expostulations of the conservative punditocracy) are deal killers. What's behind the seemingly inexplicable flight of pro-life 'conservatives' like Douglas Kmiec, who blissfully jettisoned their core beliefs to support Obama, and the downright goofy behavior of Joe and Jane Sixpack, is something far more basic: the almost overwhelming need of human beings to believe in something larger than themselves:

This is the common thread which binds the illogical defections of the so-called conservative intelligentsia to the lemming-like, "don't confuse me with the facts" rush of average Joes and Janes to the Obama brand. They truly don't care about the issues. Or at least, the issues are not the determinative factor in their decision. If they were, we wouldn't see ardent pro-lifers willfully ignoring Obama's stance on abortion or lifelong Republicans regretfully asserting that Obama's intelligence and temperment outweigh his opposition to nearly every issue they care about.

What these ultimate swing voters want is what the McCain campaign has signally failed to give them so far: inspiration. Confidence. Something they can believe in. And this insight offers the Republican ticket one last hope for victory in November, because for all the hype and hyperbole that surround The Lightworker this race has remained remarkably close. Moreover, the Obama platform would likely prove fundamentally unacceptable to many voters if they could be induced to pay attention to a few carefully selected points.

What John McCain needs is a slight change of tactics. The key to his current problems (and to victory in November) lies here:

... McCain ... never articulated a governing philosophy, Hamiltonian or any other. In Sunday’s issue of The Times Magazine, Robert Draper describes the shifts in tactics that consumed the McCain campaign. The tactics varied promiscuously, but they were all about how to present McCain, not about how to describe the state of country or the needs of the voter. It was all biography, which was necessary, but it did not clearly point to a new direction for the party or the country.

What McCain needs to offer voters is a positive vision of what life in America would look like if he were elected President. The election needs to be framed, not as a choice between a dangerous Socialist and an American hero, but as a choice between two competing plans for America's future: one rooted in the stability of over two hundred years of American innovation and industry (but informed by 21st century idealism) and one based on the European model: redistribution of the wealth and more government.

It's a simple choice, really. In 20 years, what do you want America to look like?

Do you want it to continue to look like America? A land of opportunity where immigrants from all over the world flock, attracted by the lure of the American dream? A land where representative democracy was born and continues to improve, but where individual rights and initiative are still respected?

Or do you want America to look more like France and Germany? Do you think Congress did such a good job of protecting your interests while the mortgage crisis simmered for nearly 20 years that you want to expand its power over your life?

What is your vision for America?

Calling Obama a Socialist proves nothing germane to most voters while allowing the Obama camp to claim they're the victims of a smear campaign or are being targeted by ignorant racists. The truth is that voters don't care about political labels. They want to know two things about a candidate:

1. Can I trust this person to make good decisions that protect my interests?

2. How will the vote I cast on election day directly impact my life?

Notice that both these questions boil down to, "How does this affect ME?" This is the connection that has been missing so far. John McCain needs to provide voters the information Barack Obama has been hiding. He needs to persuade them that he has a better plan than Obama, and you don't do that by running down the other guy. You do that by selling your own plan and your ability to implement it.

Instead of negative commercials, he might try something like this:

"Barack Obama says I want to scare you. I don't want to scare anyone, but I believe with the economy showing signs of a serious slowdown both candidates owe the American people a full and honest accounting of how our economic recovery plans would impact the average family.

This is important information. Without it, it's awfully hard to cast an informed vote.

My plan and Barack Obama's are fundamentally different because they are based on two competing visions of what makes America great. On November 4th, you will be asked to choose the vision that matches what you want for yourself, your family, and for the future of this country.

My vision - like my plan - is based on the idea that people are most productive when they are allowed to keep the fruits of their hard work. All governments tax income to some degree. They do this to provide benefits to their citizens. But there is a trade off here - tax too little and government cannot provide essential services like national defense and social security. Tax too much and the wealthy hide their assets or take their business - and their tax dollars - to a more tax-friendly environment. What makes America special - and what continues to attract immigrants to our shores in great numbers - is the promise that in America, hard work is rewarded.

In other words, we have the right balance. You don't hear much about the Swedish dream, the French dream, or the German dream. That's because these nations all tax individual income heavily. They engage in something called "redistribution of the wealth".

There is nothing wrong with this idea, if this matches your vision of what makes a country great then you should vote for Barack Obama on November 4th. But what this means to you as a wage earner is that as you work hard and move up the economic ladder, more and more of your earnings are seized by the state and given to those who make less than you do. This has never been the American way. What you are being asked to decide is, do you want it to be the way of the future?

Barack Obama claims his plan will reduce taxes for 95% of working families. Let's examine that claim and compare his plan with mine:

GR2008061200193.gif

Please note two things about this comparison:

1. Unlike Senator Obama's plan, my plan lowers taxes across the board: for every single category of taxpayers. Certainly, taxes are decreased less for the lowest income brackets. This is because wage earners in these brackets currently pay little or no taxes. In order to reduce their taxes further, it would be necessary to give them money earned by other wage earners. Taxes are reduced more for the top income brackets. Because they currently pay more taxes than other wage earners, their taxes can be reduced more.

2. The Obama tax plan dramatically raises taxes on the two highest income brackets and "distributes" the wealth to the lowest income brackets. The Obama campaign claims this isn't simply welfare under another guise because although the lowest income brackets pay no income tax, these "wealth transfers" would offset the Social Security taxes they do pay. In reality, the Obama wealth transfers would be larger than any payroll taxes paid for most low income workers, resulting in a direct transfer of income from high wage earners to lower wage earners.

Protecting your savings and investments:
with the financial markets in turmoil and many Americans' investsments rapidly dwindling, the last thing America needs right now is a destabilizing and recessionary increase in the capital gains tax as proposed by Barack Obama. This is potentially a huge issue. McCain should be urging Americans to vote their pocketbooks:

With the Dow Jones dropping each day by hundreds of points, this election is being held against a backdrop of economic fear unlike any since the Depression. Almost every reputable economist agrees that it would be catastrophic to add to the economy's woes by raising the capital gains tax. But Obama is on record as favoring an increase from 15% to 20% and suggested during the primaries that he would consider hitting 28%.

McCain should jump on the issue and challenge Obama to agree to a two-year moratorium on increases in the capital gains tax. If Obama agrees, McCain will score points for leadership. If Obama refuses, or ignores the challenge, McCain can attribute much of the drop in the market to the fear of increased capital gains taxation once Obama takes over. After all, its pretty obvious that if you keep 85% of your capital profits right now but stand only to keep 80% or 72% once Obama takes over, it's prudent to unload now. This pressure to sell is exactly what the markets do not need, and McCain can hammer the point home.

McCain can say that Obama's refusal to join in supporting a moratorium on capital gains taxation increases shows his commitment to class warfare - and that big government exceeds any concern he might have for stock market stability or the value of 401Ks or retirement pension funds.

McCain has already scored mightily with his invocation of Joe the Plumber and, polls show, he won the third debate by using the issue of taxes and small businesses. By early this coming week, his advertising will have achieved sufficient levels of frequency to have an impact on the polling.

What McCain needs to offer is the vision of a safe, prosperous, and free America with an experienced leader who has a plan that will protect our already battered pocketbooks. He should call on our national pride and stay away from anything that smacks of divisiveness or fear mongering. What many conservatives don't understand is how their arguments are perceived by those to the left of them on the political scales.

Like it or not, there is an almost paranoid fear of strong beliefs in this country. We heard it in Colin Powell's endorsement, and have heard it over and over again in the strong reactions to Sarah Palin.

We are a country in love with moderation, and to be electable a President must be able to project strength and conviction without looking intolerant or mean spirited. It doesn't matter whether conservatives agree these labels are merited or pertinent. What matters is that a large portion of the country think this way, and without swing voters the Republican party doesn't have the votes to win a national election. Perceptions matter, and this has always been a problem for Republicans, who must contend with the almost irrational fear that anyone with a strong belief system feels superior to others and secretly wishes to force their way of life on the rest of the country:

The Obama campaign has been extremely adept at exploiting two deep seated fears in swing voters:

1. The fear that Republicans are not inclusive and tolerant, and
2. The fear generated by the economic crisis.

If McCain wants to win in November, he needs to provide these voters with a positive, confident image of a strong, prosperous and free America where citizens of all socio-economic groups can succeed, and he needs to show specifically why his plan will result in more opportunity, more economic growth, and increased incentive for Americans to be productive and succeed.

labor.gif

The favorable climate for businesses and individuals in America is what has kept us competitive in the global market and kept our permanent rate of unemployment far lower than the double digit rates seen in Europe. Every American understands that when you raise the cost of doing a thing (whether it's running a business or going after the American dream), you make it harder to achieve and less attractive.

That's the kind of message that wins elections in tough economic times.

Posted by Cassandra at October 27, 2008 08:03 AM

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Comments

You don't think McCain has put forth a vision of what his Presidency would be like? That's one thing I wouldn't charge him with. He's the only person who has been in this race who has ever articulated an actual governing philosophy, what he and others called "National Greatness Conservatism."

It's even been mocked, which means that people have at least heard of it.

I am more and more coming to the conclusion that National Greatness Conservatism, like all quasi-fascist movements, is based on a weird romantic teenager’s fantasies about what it means to be a grown up. The fundamental moral decency of liberal individualism seems, to the unserious mind that thinks itself serious, completely insipid next to very exciting big boy ideas about shared struggle, sacrifice, duty, glory, virtue, and (most of all) power.
McCain may be a couple of years too early, is all. People who have lived such lives of plenty that they believe "shared sacrifice" is "weirdly romantic... idea about what it means to be a grown-up" don't have their minds in the right place to hear what is being said, or their hearts in the right place to understand it.

It's not that McCain hasn't said it. It's that America today is rocky and hostile ground for this mustard seed.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2008 11:57 AM

Shared sacrifice for most of us meant working 12+ hours a day, working weekends to pick up the slack as businesses downsized everything but the workload. When we did sneak away for the odd anniversary, birthday, or whatever we took our cell phones and/or pager to stay in touch lest we be let go on the next round of cuts.

The only guilt I feel personally is not to the schmuck who got every weekend off, bless his/her heart, working 9 hours a day with an hour for lunch, but to my family who went on without me hoping I would at least come to the party late.

Hard work is usually rewarded eventually if for no other reason than a job worth doing is worth doing well. Now that is shared sacrifice.

On several occasions I was in the vicinity of the post office in Santa Cruz, California on the first of the month. I always found it strange the number of young folks stopping by to pick up whatever checks they received from the government or some trust fund by a deceased relative. I'm feeling guilty about taking a well-deserved vacation while watching their euphoria for receiving money for who-knows-what.

Talk about grown-ups should be prefaced by perusing the liberal offerings at the average new-age institution of 'higher learning'. I don't see grownups in the making but post adolescents suckling on the breast of government giveaways.

Posted by: vet66 at October 27, 2008 12:16 PM

Going to be some rough years coming, most likely, and it may reinvigorate the concept.

I was meaning to write about the Brooks piece -- I'm not sure he locates the founding point in the right place by giving it to Hamilton (although he is apparently following the Democrats in this, to take him at his word -- a very rich irony, that they're now the Hamiltonians, i.e., the elitists).

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2008 12:31 PM

I agree with Cassandra and disagree with Grim on this: McCain has not put forth a vision of what the economic component of his Presidency would be like. The "shared struggle, sacrifice, duty, glory, virtue, and (most of all) power" have been spoken of mostly in terms of biography and after that in terms of the war in Iraq and - by extension - the wider war on terrorism and then on to America's military standing in general. These is a crucial issue - as my husband said, "Without national security no other issue matters" - but for most people they simply do not seem as immediate as the economy.

I very much wish, Cassandra, that McCain could give the kind of speech you want him to. I very much suspect, though, that he actually does not have the type of economic vision he would need to do so. This does not mean I think he's an economic idiot but I look at it this way. Any national security issue McCain encounters he can think about by asking, "What decision will best serve my view of America's national security needs?" The answer will be relatively clear to him because he has a framework that defines his vision of the right path for America in that regard. I do not believe he has any similar framework to answer the question, "What decision will best serve my view of America's economic needs?" He has individual economic beliefs but they are not integrated and so he looks reactionary and rather random when responding to or even talking about economic issues. (I sometimes wonder how much the loss of Phil Gramm has cost him in this arena.)

In contrast, Obama has a clear economic framework. I don't much like it but it's fully integrated and internally coherent and drives his stances on economic issues.

More broadly, I think your post addresses a very big part of a still wider question. I've been thinking about this question in terms of the recent squabble over terms like anti-American, pro-American, unAmerican. Your framing the issue not as one of how American someone is or whether their view of American is right or wrong but rather as one of a clear, simple choice between two different views of America seems to me exactly the right tack to take both politically and for the sake of domestic tranquility.

Posted by: Elise at October 27, 2008 12:43 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/27/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at October 27, 2008 01:08 PM

I accept that we disagree; though I find I disagree even more now that I've read your argument. :) I would say, once again, that McCain has been perfectly clear -- it's just that people's minds and hearts are so far away from what he's saying that they don't grasp he's said it.

For example, in the second debate between himself and Sen. Obama, he answered this question precisely when he stated that he favored the government buying out bad mortgages to protect people from losing their homes, and the banks from any failures arising from the nonpayment of mortgages. That was a clear plan both for "how will we help you?" and "how will we save the economy from collapse?"

By the same token, he's the only one who answered the question, "If the government has to cut back on spending due to the economic crisis, what are your priorities?" He made clear they were defense and a few other things, and furthermore stated exactly how he proposed to make up the difference in other areas: by freezing spending across the board outside of those priority areas.

Obama said that he'd give 95% of Americans a tax cut, free health care, and a pony.

So again, I don't think I agree that McCain lacks a vision or hasn't articulated it. It's just not what people want to hear, so they think they haven't heard it.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2008 01:10 PM

Here's the problem I think McCain faces:

The proposed advertisement Cassandra puts together isn't a bad one, but try reading it out loud. See how long it takes.

Even with the best of editing, this isn't a 30-second ad. This is a sustained argument, which requires money to buy the time and it requries people willing to give it their attention.

Obama's arguments are given for free by the media. Every time McCain or Palin says something about his plan, the AP or whoever adds in a line like: "Obama's plan is actually to..."

Nobody is doing that for McCain's plan. Nobody's going to be doing it.

That means he has to buy ad time to make the case directly.

He did it in the debates well, when he was given the chance, but here we have David Brooks et al saying that he's just never done it. So there's the "mustard seed" problem -- a clear, direct answer isn't good enough, because it doesn't harmonize with what people want to hear. The ground is too hard.

That means you need to prepare the ground by knocking some holes in it (aeration) and then reseed it with a great deal more seed, and then irrigate it to make sure that the seed takes. All that takes money.

So he hasn't been able to make the sustained argument you suggest. He did the next best thing: he came up with a simple, one line plan ("the government will assume these bad mortgages, which will keep people in their homes and keep banks from failing, and keep the system healthy"). He said it in the debate, in his speeches, and in the ads he can afford.

McCain has a massive money disadvantage b/c of his pledge to take public financing, Obama's massive private fundraising (tens of millions of dollars of which is apparently fraudulent; but never mind that for now), and the fact that the media is giving Obama that free meal on top of his money advantage.

This isn't McCain's fault. He did the right thing in agreeing to live by the rules for campaign finance that he himself wrote; to do otherwise would be massive hypocrisy. He did the right thing in not allowing fraudulent donations of the type Obama has been taking; to do otherwise would be criminal. And he can't help that the media is in love with his opponent, though he's made the case that they should be embarrassed about it.

I don't see this as his fault. I don't think he could do much better with the tools he's got. This is a Democratic year, with massive resentment against the sitting President and a huge mandate for change. McCain has held them to about even, and may yet win.

Honestly: that's the very best anyone could do this year. I think we should be proud of him. He's even kept his sense of humor about all this, and his positive nature. He's done a remarkable job under the circumstances, and he's done the right thing at every turn.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2008 01:45 PM

Is McCain actually losing, or are ABC, NBC and CNN only featuring the polls that show Obie in the lead? The online polls show McC running away with it.

Since the MSM has decided to abrogate its traditional role as purveyors of news in favor of shilling for the DNC, I'm wondering if their polling numbers are also part of the agitprop.

But it could just be cynical ol' me.

Posted by: BillT at October 27, 2008 01:47 PM

Oh, NOW McCain should say I don't want to scare you. (Forget that old McCain, of the last month or two).

The real problem with McCain is that he has been seen and heard and the vast majority of those who pay attention have seen an erratic old man, who makes bad decisions and jumps from hither to yon with disturbingly creaky alacrity. In the view of many (including, most importantly, the "undecideds") he is seen as intimately tied to a tremendously failed presidency, and the "Country First" future which he promises is fatally flawed by his wholly unserious and unpatriotic choice of VP.

Add to this the dear Senator's weakness on economic issues generally, and plain silly economic-crisis responses (the suspension, the McCain mortgage program, etc.) in particular, and ... oh well ... you get the picture.

Or perhaps you don't. No matter. Those who "now matter" in this election do get the picture, and that will not be erased by any version 24.3 of McCain which might be unveiled in the next week.

The only thing that can save the McCain bid for the presidency is a tremendous gaffe on Obama's part (unlikely, given his campaigning competence) or a tremendous new crisis (likely security-related - can you spell "Syria" can you spell "Iran"?). This too is unlikely (and in any event, who (among the sane) would seek more crises than we have already?).

The future of the GOP does not include a McCain presidency, and unless conservatives rapidly re-order their priorities and efforts along the lines sketched out on Sunday by Frum ("Sorry, Senator"), it does not include the GOP either.

Posted by: pogo at October 27, 2008 02:03 PM

Here's where I disagree with you, Grim.

Historically, few folks are more willing to give the Rethug the benefit of the doubt on having communicated their message to the American people than I am. However, what I heard from John McCain was what Elise heard: a lot of disconnected talking points about specifics.

Like I said, no one cares about the issues, in detail. You have to hit them with a broad-based VISION: WHY AM I DOING THESE THINGS?

Sarah Palin actually came closer to articulating this than McCain ever did: she talked about the entrepreneurial spirit with enthusiasm. She managed to make "profit" and "wealth" sound like things every American wants for themselves, and moreover, things that are not a zero sum game. If I get richer, it doesn't make you poorer. Successful businesses hire American workers.

They can buy American products.

What John McCain needs to do is to make this type of GENERAL argument - it presents a general framework for WHY penalizing Americans for being successful is such a bad idea. I am not trying to ding him, Grim. I want him to win.

I think, however, that if he used the same strategy he used at the end of his convention speech (talking about how he loves America) he'd find a more receptive audience for his ideas. This is what I'm hearing from people - they respond well when he's passionate, but that passion needs to be animated by a love for things American. That will help insulate him from what I see as very insidious and unfair attacks by the Obama campaign.

It's not "I love America and he hates it."

It's "THIS is the America I love: the land of opportunity. Do you love it too? Let's strengthen her together."

Posted by: Cassandra at October 27, 2008 02:05 PM

McCain is "weak" on the economy?

Whatever. I'd ask for some evidence that Obama has a better grasp of economic matters, but I don't feel like dying from laughter.

At least McCain understands that if you raise taxes on businesses and capital gains, you suppress economic growth, which is the worst possible thing to do in a recession.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 27, 2008 02:08 PM

If McCain loses this election, it would be quite the demonstration that his Campaign Finance Reform doesn't work because it was only designed to work by appealing to man's better nature. The US Constitution, however, specifically was designed to deal with man's baser natures such as greed, corruption, and megalomania.

McCain's got that upside down. Similar to Bush's trait in going easy on domestic and foreign enemies because of a need to prop up this non-existent "international social compact" between sovereign states.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 27, 2008 02:15 PM

Pogo is so funny, Cass. One of your new "out of the box" personalities?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 27, 2008 02:26 PM

It's "THIS is the America I love: the land of opportunity. Do you love it too? Let's strengthen her together."

Some people just like to watch the world burn, Cass. It's very entertaining to them.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 27, 2008 02:27 PM

In the realm of "What's Wrong With Kansas?", I look at the comparative charts and see I will get more money from an Obama tax cut than the McCain tax cut.
And yet, once again, those evil Republicans are giving back more money to the "top 1%" wage earners, so they can sell us more cheap toys and goods from China.

So why do I want to vote for McCain?

Because what do I believe? A lot of political mumbo-jumbo, or my own lyin' eyes?

So what happens when you tax wealthy people more and return more (unearned) money to people at the bottom of the economic ladder with the Earned Income Tax Credit?

1) A revitalization of the auto industry?
2) A growth in the production of synthetic fuels to supplant imported oil?
3) More investment in the information economy, and technological advancement?

4) Get more votes from the people at the bottom of the economic ladder?

Bzzzzzt! We have a winner!!

So the oldest political game in town is in play. Let's buy votes. I'm sure someone as educated and eloquent as Thomas Franks will put nice lipstick on this....porcine meat sack, but just how stupid are we?

I think that this is just the first installment of "let's buy an election". There is no doubt that the Earned Income Tax credit will grown significantly under the next four years of Obama.

Does this man (Obama) hate America? No.
Is this bad for the poor and working poor? No.

Yet, how do we pay for it and how do we justify this 'redistribution of wealth'? And what will the consequences be, really? This could be the beginning of 'reverse bracket creep', where more and more people become eligible for the EIC, and the Democrats can keep bidding up the price of votes at the expense of real economic growth. And the predicted LACK of economic growth justifies the whole thing. It's positively....European.

It's almost as if someone had actually figured this out and was gaming the system. (heh)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 27, 2008 03:10 PM

Is this bad for the poor and working poor? No.

Incorrect. It's just not bad in the short term. It takes time for the higher tax rates to be felt. You don't move jobs off-shore overnight. But eventually it does happen. Those who manage to *keep* their jobs *might* be better off in the long run, but the unemployment rate will more than off-set things in the long run.

Which will, as you said, justify raising taxes even more. Those who promise to rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

What is sad, to me, is that so many people will sell out their morals against stealing for a couple hundred bucks.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 27, 2008 03:51 PM

Correct, Mr. Yu-Ain Gonnano!

It's not bad in the short run, but the higher tax rates will, in effect, "eat the seed corn". An effective lower growth rate over many years will make the country overall, poorer. Which I think is part of the game plan (per the last sentence in my post above yours).

And it will perpetuate the system, by effectively raising the unemployement rate (permanently)INCREASING the demand on the EIC. Like I said, it's almost as if someone had figured this out and was gaming the system.

Buy votes, and buy them early. It's like planting a little acorn and letting it grow into a big tree. How conveeeeeenient.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 27, 2008 03:59 PM

Oddly enough, Don, I was shocked when I talked to my husband and found out how much we earn (I don't do our taxes anymore so I genuinely had no idea).

If you go by that chart, we get more back under McCain than under Obama. But frankly that wouldn't make any difference in my vote because I have always voted my beliefs (for instance, I opposed the 'improved GI Bill' because I thought it was bad for the military and the country even though it would be good for us personally). And we've obviously spent most of our married life in the lower income brackets.

We were actually below the federal poverty line the first two years we were married. That's why I know a lot of people weigh the tax implications of various employment scenarios very carefully.

We did, and they kept me out of the work force during the Clinton years. We always look at the marginal tax rate when trying to make those decisions. It's stupid not to - otherwise you end up working more hours for Uncle Sam.

No thanks :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 27, 2008 04:10 PM

Is this bad for the poor and working poor?

You know, what conservatives consistently fail to do (and this really pisses me off) is tie their policies to the real-world tradeoffs business owners and employers have to deal with, and then CLOSE THE LOOP: explain how that "benefit" the Dems want to vote you actually makes it cost an employer MORE to hire a young black man, a woman with children, a poor person making minimum wage, so that when faced with the choice between competing alternatives, the "help" provided by the Democrats effectively prices disadvantaged and less skilled workers - precisely the people they claim to be "helping" - out of the labor market.

Don't tell me I need your "help" to compete against white males and then load me up with so many mandatory "benefits" and legal protections that an employer would have to be a fool to hire a married woman if he can get a single man for the same nominal wage. You just "protected" me out of a job.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 27, 2008 06:16 PM

ymarsakar..."some people just like to watch the world burn"...see this from a sadly-now-defunct Italian blog: Cupio dissolvi.

Posted by: david foster at October 27, 2008 07:33 PM

"These people have had this precious gift, this civilization, and they have got bored with it. They take all the advantages it offers them for granted, and despise the ideals that have powered it." [emphasis mine]

Great line! Talk about *fitting the narrative*.
Thanx for that David.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at October 27, 2008 09:25 PM

Like I said, it's almost as if someone had figured this out and was gaming the system.

The requirements for a ruling class to perpetuate their control over more numerous masses of uneducated and powerless people have been tried and tested throughout human history. They did figure out how to game the system. It just needs to be translated to modern economics and nations like the US, once and for all.

David, nihilism is a great and true philosophy perfectly consistent with the natural state of the universe in moving towards entropy. They are, after all, the "reality based party", neh? And what can be more real than speeding up the universe's tendency to become more and more entropic?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 27, 2008 11:12 PM

Well this post is a bit over the "event horizon", but I wanted to leave a comment anyways. This goes to show how that democracy can be flawed and lead to a "mob rule" where a majority of people can strangle the rights of a minority. Maybe that's why we have a constitution, but the trend has been that the government is for sale, so the principles of government go out the window in search of who can best give me more largesse. Also, I linked to you...right here!

Posted by: LT Nixon at October 28, 2008 11:27 AM

Thanks for the link :)

I'll check it out as soon as I get a free moment!

Posted by: Nancy Hopkins' Ghost at October 28, 2008 01:29 PM

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