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Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Josh Marshall notes the youth vote didn't turn up...



Living Poor, Voting Rich

November 3, 2004

In the aftermath of this civil war that our nation has just fought, one result is clear: the Democratic Party's first priority should be to reconnect with the American heartland.

....whetherJohn Kerry's supporters are now celebrating or seeking asylum abroad, they should be feeling wretched about the millions of farmers, factory workers and waitresses who ended up voting - utterly against their own interests - for Republican candidates.

One of the Republican Party's major successes over the last few decades has been to persuade many of the working poor to vote for tax breaks for billionaires. Democrats are still effective on bread-and-butter issues like health care, but they come across in much of America as arrogant and out of touch the moment the discussion shifts to values.



Bush just took Ohio. Marc, do you need a regulator for your scuba gear? But, he is still Three Votes shy.... Kerry can still pull it out, but I don't think so. 11:43 PM CST

John x Moore

I find it amusing when democrats complain about republican's being for the rich, when today the Democrat party gets the bulk of contributions from the rich.

As for the tax breaks, they affect a whole lot more than billionaires. For example, those who sell a business may suddenly be taxed as if they are billionairs. It has happened to me, even though I am far from rich.

The rich like to push for the death tax. Warren Buffer supports the democratic party's goal of reinstating that full tax. Why? Because he makes a lot of money buying family businesses that family is forced to sell to pay the death tax.

Two other points: progressive taxes always have to hit the non-rich, because the rich don't have enough money to provide much funding. Also, those taxes hurt the folks trying to get rich much worse than the hurt the rich. If you have a few hundred grand, a tax of tens of thousands of dollars affects your lifestyle. If you have a billion, it may be a huge amount of money, but you still have your jet and your lifestyle.

Finally, envy is an ugly emotion. Democrats appeal to envy in order to tax people.

Democrats push important issues - Health Care is an example. Unfortunately both parties don't get it. Democrats want centralized government provided health care, in spite of the catastrophes of such systems throughout the world. Republicans are unwilling to regulate far enough to prevent abuses. There is an issue called medical underwriting, which prevents small businesses and individuals from buying adequate insurance in some cases. Republicans usually ignore it.

A true loyal opposition would be useful. But lately the Democrats have been nothing but obstructionists - for example with their unprecedented filibuster on judicial appointments. There has been no willingness to cooperate or compromise.

That needs to change.

BTW, unless something changes radically, welcome to FOUR MORE YEARS.


Too numb and frightened to comment.


Rosedog, I felt exactly the same way in 76 and in 96. We survived LBJ, Nixon, Carter and Clinton. You will survive Bush and more importantly, this Glorious Republic will survive. Sooner or later the worm will turn. The two parties are far more alike than they are different.

When we do this again in 4 years, we will pick another President, and someone will say "I'm too numb and freightened."

Be of good cheer my friend. Marc has seen up close how regeimes can change in not such a good way, I have been near by when the peoples choice was crushed by the tanks of the Soviet Union.

Our way is better, oh so much better.


No, Bush ain't grabbed Ohio yet. There's the question of provisional ballots up in the air -- takes 11 days ore more to count them. So lawyers are already sharpening their swords. However. Kerry would have to get 90 percent of those votes, a virtual impossibility.

But what's there to be frightened of? A Bush 2nd term would, if at all, feed a revival of protest movements more than a Kerry presidency would. We know the "progressive" mentality: "let's give him a chance" -- the same Clinton got.


GM:….Whatever happens---it helps that good folks like yourself are on the other side of the fence.

(Painfully, I don’t include those at the top of Bush administration as among the “good folks,” however.)

I think it's going to be a long day or two.

Michael Turner

Barring some major vote fraud fracas, I'd say Bush has it. After Ohio tilted Bush, Kerry had to get all the states Gore got, AND both N.H. and Nevada just to get an electoral college tie and throw it to the House (where I guess he'd lose); N.H. he got, but last I looked, Nevada was showing a razor-thin leaning toward Bush, with about half the vote counted. So it's down to choices about how he dies, as I see it. At best.

Kristof echoes a sentiment I saw not long ago in an Australian paper, also made by Paul Krugman in a speech in Britain - how is it that conservatives are so good at getting the majority of voters to shoot themselves in the foot? How is it that the more democratic parties of the world have such trouble reaching their supposedly natural base?

Well, Kristof touches on this, too. Good policy comes down to being educated about issues. Margaret Thatcher once said that the best a first-class mind can offer a leader is a good analysis of the choices. Voter inattention to the ins and outs of issues means that a good analysis can get drowned in apapthy, and a bad one prevails because it's more accessible or more exciting or more memorable.

The better educated you are, the better equipped you are to look at policy with the objectivity the subject requires. The downside: you're also more likely to come off like an aloof, arrogant know-it-all to the less educated. You've become part of what Marxist sociologist Alvin Gouldner called "the culture of critical discourse", and you begin to speak in its "elaborated codes" as a matter of habit if nothing else. When you do that, you lose a lot of any randomly selected audience. Sometimes without even realizing it. Kerry has done this a lot, in this campaign.

It's not good for perceptions of style, class and culture to determine ballot choices. Bush can don a hardhat and yellow plastic, and it fits. Kerry does the same and it seems like the transparent pose that it ultimately is in both cases. Kerry probably aced a lot of courses at Yale; Bush's report card is nowhere to be found. Kerry's loss started with his high GPA.

Not to harp on it or anything, but this is why I like Deliberative Polling. DP is a long way from political reality, but it's the only idea I've seen that combines the legitimacy of democracy with more consideration of the facts. It largely removes tribalism and tribal personalities from the picture. It can't utterly remove cultural and class divides, but probably nothing can do that. Here's the starting point, again:


Is this just crypto-liberalism? I can't vouch for the neutrality of these academics. However, I can tell you that reading into the DP literature convinced me that the (largely) Republican case that medical malpractice damage awards have gotten too high, and should be capped, is almost certainly a good one. I never thought I'd change my mind about that one.

And in this forum, John Moore suggests that Warren Buffet is an indirect beneficiary of death taxes. Hm, interesting. Maybe Buffet isn't some horse-sense investment genius after all, but a kind of predator. If so, is that the complete case against death taxes? Well, I don't know. But it's an interesting point, and credible (if not proven, to my mind.) How many people DO know the complete cases pro and con, for death taxes? And what would be the result, if you put the pro/con cases together, and made a random sampling of voters sit down with each other, read through it all, and talk out the decision, much as they do when arriving at a verdict in a jury trial? Whatever the result, wouldn't that be truer to the core concept of democracy than what we have now?


Rosedog, I think he is, otherwise I wouldn't support him. Be damn sure of that!. At any rate, it's 2:00 in the morning, I have to see patients tomorrow and I go to bed thinking Bush has won. When I wake up, I suspect that I will find the same thing, but I don't know and that is unsettling.

At any rate, it has been exciting. Marc, thank you so much for providing all of us an opportunity to discuss issues.

G'night all.


"I find it amusing when democrats complain about republican's being for the rich, when today the Democrat party gets the bulk of contributions from the rich."

I'm certainly critical of the dems' reliance on corporate donations to survive, but I'm not at all clear about your apparent belief that that somehow makes the argument that the Repubs are a party of the super super rich [not the 'rich', but the super super super rich] illegitimate. You make up links that don't exist logically.

John x Moore


Today, billionaires are more likely to fund the Democrats than the Republic. Just look at this election and Soros. This is a pattern that is seen a lot. The one billionaire that I know personally certainly is a Democrat. And consider how many really rich Hollywood folks support Democrats, and how long that pattern has existed.

The super, super rich don't particularly benefit from republican policies. Big corporations benefit from either party, because they buy the cooperation. This is hardly a republican monopoly.

Many years ago, Republicans were the party of the upper classes. That has not been the case for a long time. Reagan, for example, pulled in many blue collar people. The religious right is a big part of the party, and they aren't, on average, rich. They are just folks. There are lots of us in the party who are not rich. I have been a republican as long as I could vote.

I know it is nice to those who have leftist views to have your political opponent be the party of the rich. It fits your rich oppressor / poor oppressed way of looking at the world.

It is good to examine your stereotypes from time to time.

As to the super super rich, who cares what their party is. Their interests in government are either social (i.e. not related to their money) or equivalent to that of a corporation.

If you look at the figures for donations to Republicans vs. Democrats, you will find that Republicans have small but numerous contributions, while Democrats have a lot of very large contributions along with other contributions. I wish I had a link, but if you care, you can track this down.

John x Moore


Regarding tax cuts, you write as if the poor are fools manipulated by republicans. That is a classic arrogant leftist trait, not endearing the left to those they are talking about. I suggest you consider two things: the nature of the press, which is tilted left; the fact that those people are capable of making their own decisions, including the decision to vote Repuiblican.

People vote for Republicans for lots of reasons. One thing about the right is it doesn't ruin our whole day if a rich guy benefits by a policy that benefits everyone else. Leftists seem to have a deep seated envy, where they are unhappy if someone richer than they are benefits. The language usesd makes it clear that benefiting "the rich" is automatically bad. That sort of thinking is way too reflexive to be taken seriously, but is held by everyone on the left I have ever met.

John x Moore

Michael Turner,

I could provide the cases for the death taxes, but I think you were giving it as an example.

The Deliberative Polling strikes me as impractical and potentially dangerous. Impractical in that it requires too much time on behalf of the voter and the people they interact with. Dangerous in that the material and the experts can be structured to drive people towards one decision - in other words, useful as a political weapon.

As far as the more educated being more objective, it has been my experience over decades of observation that there is no correlation between objectivity and amount of knowledge. Objectivity is a tough thing to create, even in ones self. Political expoerts, just like advertisers, recognize that decisions are made by emotion and analysis. Some people will be more one way than the other. Also, if you know an intelligent, well informed conservative, you can pick certain issues where the facts are known, and not get agreement on much of anything between the conservative and the leftist.

I would suggest you consider the above (and my postings preceding this) when you talk about Republicns convincing people to shoot themselves in the foot (another arrogant statement =which shows that you think that you are smarter/better informed than them are). The assumptions in such a sentence are many, and they are wrong. For example, the presumption that a poor person is wrong to vote Republican. I'm not going to take the time to argue why Republicans may be better than Democrats for the poor, but just consider that it may be possible, and look at how the statement looks. If you also consider that politics is about a lot more than economics, you get other possibilities. For example, many blacks are very religious and have a number of values that Republicans support. So they might vote based on that, and to hell with economics.

The left seems to assume that economics is the issue to look at. I think that is simply a result of the Marxism which is back in the source of leftist thought. If you free yourself from reflexive marxist thinking (also the bad oppressor / noble oppressed narrative ) a lot of things can be analyzed differently.

John x Moore

One final comment: I think that protest movements will wane. A lot of the anger against Bush was because "he stole the election" in 2000. This year, I don't think that claim will be as easy to make.

If that is the case, a lot of the hate Bush anger may fade away. Our country would be better off if the left wasn't angry enough to hate. Hate leads to violence, as many people with Bush bumper stickers have discovered. I don't think keying someone's car is a very democratic act. But when a movement uses the language of hate, it causes its fringes to act it out in violent ways. In some sense, Timothy McVeigh was an example of that.

Hopefully there will be some protests. Life is boring without protests to counterprotest or to photograph. I'm still waiting for another appearance of Women In Black here in Phoenix. I have some questions to ask them.

John x Moore

Sorry about the typos in the above postings. It's rather late.

Michael Turner

John Moore writes: "The Deliberative Polling strikes me as impractical and potentially dangerous. Impractical in that it requires too much time on behalf of the voter and the people they interact with. Dangerous in that the material and the experts can be structured to drive people towards one decision - in other words, useful as a political weapon."

The practicalities are managed as they are in jury duty. When someone's going on trial, they don't call up the entire populace, do they? Deliberative polling aims to take a representative sample of citizens. Does it take time? Yes. Does it take as much time as sitting on jury? I don't know. All I know is: we haven't thrown out the jury system, which is open to the same objection.

As for the dangers, well, we have a pretty dangerous system already, and I believe DP would improve on it. Something like 75% of GOP voters STILL believe that Saddam had WMD. Did he? I guess it's not impossible, but the case seems to get slimmer by the day, and it was never very good. Prior to invading Iraq, Fishkin et al. conducted some deliberative polls, and participants became well acquainted with facts that the administration would prefer had remained obscure. They went into DP roughly favoring an invasion, and came out more or less opposed.

The dangers you cite are amply in evidence in the system we already have. They aren't necessarily present in DP any more than they are necessarily present in a jury trial. Advocates from both sides of an issue can come to an agreement on what sort of materials are fair game and factually based, and what others are simply prejudicial. If DP gains legitimacy, unresolved conflicts over what might be presented to deliberators could be settled as they currently are in rules of evidence and testimony in court trials: by law.

John, your reaction to DP illustrates behavior DP aims to address: you made some incorrect assumptions about it, you didn't apply your imagination except in negative directions, you didn't do any research (as far as I can tell), and you jumped to a conclusion that, I'm willing to bet, you are now pretty firmly wedded to. Of course, if you want to change my mind about that perception of your perception, I'm open to your case. ;-)

Michael Turner

John Moore: "The left seems to assume that economics is the issue to look at. I think that is simply a result of the Marxism which is back in the source of leftist thought."

I guess if you define "leftist" as "Marxist" you'll have airtight circular reasoning. But leftism has never been that simple, and politics have never been as simple as economics even for leftists who might prefer to claim otherwise.

Culture and values do matter - I loved Clinton's diagnosis of Gore's loss: "He went too far left on cultural issues." The fact is, it's values on both sides, not just economics, and that's why we've had these so-called culture wars. It is, however, pretty much beyond dispute that a bad economy hurts a sitting president.

Another fact: economic laws don't change (even if we're still not 100% sure what those laws are) but cultures do. Gay marriage bans were enacted in a number of states last night, but this reflects a reaction more than a trend. Younger people tend to be more tolerant of homosexuality, and it's doubtful they'll become significantly less tolerant as they get older. (Hey, they may even start voting one of these years. ;-) And it's certain that older people will die eventually.

Michael Turner

And one more thing: John Moore finds it presumptuous - and symptomatic - that I see the mass of voters as "shooting themselves in the foot" in leaning rightward. Is it?

People are worried about Social Security solvency. The GOP solution? Start privatizing, permitting stock-fund set-asides in the system. But what's the premise behind the theory that this will make people's retirement more secure? Simple: long term economic growth, as reflected in a long-term trend of stock value going up.

Well, let's check in with an esteemed senior economist who enjoys significant favor among conservatives: Alan Greenspan. On this question, he's no curve-tracer, he's no mindless extrapolator. Rather, he says - correctly - that continued long term growth in stocks (dividends, price - take your pick, it doesn't matter) depends largely on long term improvements in technology, which are the only *potentially* inexhaustible source of productivity growth. This was Joseph Schumpeter's thought - innovation as the real driving force of capitalism - and that's still mainstream economic thought.

And what's Greenspan's opinion on long-term technological trends? He says they are fundamentally unpredictable. At least if his congressional testimony is to be believed.

Well, speaking as someone who makes much of his living as a patent translator, I would very much like to believe that technology will keep delivering the goods. I know MY retirement depends on it - directly. And that's my choice to make: it's a career choice. At the same time, however, I look at the world around me, and I find myself in agreement with Paul Krugman: most of our material comfort and productivity stems from technological leaps and bounds made in the era of Edison and Westinghouse and Ford. The computer is nifty, but it's a frill compared to the telephone. Will nanotech yield the miracles portrayed in science fiction? Shrug.

And yet, conservatives favor turning Social Security into a casino, one in which you won't really know what hand you've been dealt until it's decades too late.

Despite the Bubble excesses, which you'd think woulda larned the young'uns, the notion of Social Security privatization has found a significant foothold among the young. Great strategy: starve the beast, while passing out lottery tickets - demand for which will increase as the beast gets scrawnier, inspiring fear that there will be no rib-roast to be had in the end.

"Shooting themselves in the foot"? Well, that's my verdict now, but I'll try to keep an open mind about it.

Tom Grey

As one of Marc's Bushies (I am, aren't I?), I was about to drop by and gloaaaargghh. But I stopped myself, and thought of Monty Python
doing the sound of John Denver,
being strangled:
"You came on my pilloaaaaargghh".

Social Security, in a pay-as-you go system is was and will always be "broken" in any "sustainable" population.

Defining what "fair" is, in any system, is the problem. Either YOU pay, for your benefits, or else somebody else does. I go with mostly you pay for yourself.
But poor people need help.
They should get loans. Even gov't loans -- repaid by their taxes plus some surcharge loan repayment.

The reality in the US is that the rich (US middle class ARE rich) want, usually out of envy, to make the super-rich give them more benefits.

There might be something moral to be said for taking from the rich to give to the poor. But taking from the super-rich to give to the rich seems pretty much a form of democratic theft.

utterly against their own interests Ha!
When unearned gov't benefits are not highly valued, but morals are, the "interest" in bribes (of gov't cash) goes down among those more moral folk.
See how Sully made Bush win!

Michael Turner

Tom Grey writes: "Social Security, in a pay-as-you go system is was and will always be "broken" in any "sustainable" population."

Perhaps so. I've always been in favor of means-testing myself. But when I broach that subject with certain well-to-do Republican retiree family members, the air fairly crackles with static electricity. I'm talking about *their* social security check. I'm hinting that they might be members of some kind of ... some kind of *welfare queen* class. How insulting!

They don't even have to say anything. The looks on their faces are enough.

No lightning bolts yet, but only because I don't push the issue after the the hairs on the back of my neck start to prickle.


I find my self strangely in agreement with Mr. Turner (on this thread at least). Or, maybe not so strangely. I'm too tired to guess which.

" "Social Security, in a pay-as-you go system is was and will always be "broken" in any "sustainable" population."

Mythology, which any Democratic or progressive candidate can easily pick apart if they have the courage to:


"Today, billionaires are more likely to fund the Democrats than the Republic. Just look at this election and Soros. This is a pattern that is seen a lot."

1) as anyone who followed this election knows, that is not the case, in fact the B crowd supported Bush by a considerable margin, something like 3-1 or 4-1 I believe. 2, you don't seem to get my response to you, not even a little, oddly enough. Whether or not the Dems have rich donors changes nothing about the critique that the Republican Party is a party explicitly tied to the agenda of the business class. What is so controversial about that? Its main political task is the reduction of taxes for the wealthiest few and corporations. The Chamber of Commerces around the country are centered in the Republican Party. It's no less controversial than the plain fact that labor unions are the base for the Democratic party, in addition to institutions like the NAACP that have voter mobilization capacities in concentrated urban areas where poverty is a major concern.
Finally, what I point out is rather banal, so banal it's amazing to see John waste so much space 'rebutting' it. Name one capitalist country where there is not a political party that is oriented around the business class's agenda of lower taxation of their profits or a political party that is oriented around the agenda of the trade union movement? gosh, it's like capitalism 101 really.

"Perhaps so. I've always been in favor of means-testing myself. But when I broach that subject with certain well-to-do Republican retiree family members, the air fairly crackles with static electricity."

I don't think means testing is a good idea at all, it'd be the excuse to lower benefits even more actually. increasing the caps on the payroll taxes would more than deal with any problems in SS that might possible be down the road in about 50 years at the earliest. That and reversal of the tax cuts for the billionaire club.


"(US middle class ARE rich)"

What wouldn't anyone write at 3 o'clock in the morning.

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