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Bloggingheads
03-18-2008, 10:13 AM

laura
03-18-2008, 11:13 AM
Maybe I need to listen to this again, but could this be the first time Megan didn't mention her father?

DenvilleSteve
03-18-2008, 04:33 PM
as of Sept 2007 home sales and prices were both down 5%.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20970287/

even if the precent decline is much greater, what is the multiplier effect that is causing these large financial institutions to go bust?

( looking for big government as the cause somehow. possibly the home loan lenders have restricted rights to retake possession of properties from homeowners who have fallen behind on their payments. )

-Steve

DenvilleSteve
03-18-2008, 04:52 PM
ok. so those who advocate higher taxes do or dont want to pay those taxes voluntarily. Kleiman obviously makes a stronger case with his club dues analogy. Why does Megan choose to debate on such trivial grounds?

Democrats should have the right to tax, spend and regulate to their heart's content. But the decent, self reliant people in the country should also be allowed to live free of government intrusions.

People should be able to opt out of social security, socialized medicine and public schools. In exchange for a lower credit card finance rate a person should be able to waive their protections in the event of bankruptcy. or give the credit card company the right to levy their bank account. People should be free to purchase pharma drugs not yet approved by the feds. Or agree not to sue their doctor, in return, getting a discount from their bill.

-Steve

Ooga-Booga
03-18-2008, 05:53 PM
Megan McArdle is my hero.

daveh
03-18-2008, 06:51 PM
I think Mr. Kleiman delivers the definitive and understated (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9520?in=00:48:33&out=00:48:41) reaction to Ms. McArdle that many of us share.

bjkeefe
03-18-2008, 07:24 PM
Maybe I need to listen to this again, but could this be the first time Megan didn't mention her father?

In fact, she mentioned no family members that I can remember, nor did she base any argument entirely on what "this friend of mine" said. This is an accomplishment worth saluting. Nice sign of progress, Megan.

a Duoist
03-19-2008, 05:55 AM
Megan was correct, and unfortunately, Mark was wrong: Ethical lapses are not a feature of just one political party. In an era of mass communications, mega-hundred million dollar political campaigns and several trillion dollars federal budgets, it is becoming ever more important to keep government divided. Two great benefits accrue to our citizenry by multi-party government: government activism becomes problematical, and the intense scrutiny by the party out of control helps the 'ethic' problem Mark is concerned about.

DenvilleSteve
03-19-2008, 10:31 AM
In an era of mass communications, mega-hundred million dollar political campaigns and several trillion dollars federal budgets, it is becoming ever more important to keep government divided.

the problem with divided government is it is inefficient. Microsoft would not be the great company it is if every 4 years it replaced its management with a new team that had a completely different approach to things. Democrats want socialism, government control of individual's lives. Republicans want freedom and self reliance for all. ( the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ) What we should be working towards is a government which allows ppl to choose the gov structure they want w/o dividing the country and adversely affecting their fellow citizens who opt for the opposite.

-Steve

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
03-19-2008, 11:43 AM
She did, however, maintain at one point that she was "poor." While, previously she had shared her concern about how current events were affecting her retirement fund. Note to Ms. McArdle: Poor people do not have investment portfolios.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Bloggin' Noggin
03-19-2008, 05:35 PM
I love Megan's approach to losing an argument: Declare victory and retreat -- which in this context amounts to saying "I never intended to prove the point I claimed to be making -- I just wanted them to THINK REALLY HARD about it.
Could anything be lamer?

Mark concedes that people who vote to raise taxes are concerned to make sure that others pay, not that they themselves pay for the programs they believe in. For the sake of argument this makes sense, since there was plenty more to object to even granting that.
But I wouldn't admit even that much.

What I want is that genuine needs should be taken care of before more frivolous consumption. But I know that if I get my hands on my paycheck, I'm going to have a harder time parting with the money to serve these needs of other people. I want the money taken from me before I can start getting selfish with it.

Of course, if self-control were the whole problem, then some kind of payroll deduction for charity could do the trick.

But it's not the whole problem. First of all, there is no guarantee that charities serve social needs in anything like reasonable proportion to the needs. Think of all the money that went to 9/11 victims vs. less publicized, less popular causes. I want the genuine needs to be met, and I want to pay my share. Of course, government will not always be rational in its distribution either, but at least government is accountable to both those who need help and those who pay the bill. If the Social Security Administration doesn't cut its checks on time or uses the funds for lavish offices instead of paying pensions, those who are supposed to be receiving the pensions have a right to complain. Charities have to be responsive to their donors, but not to the people they serve. But the donors don't have any immediate sense of what happens to the money and have little incentive to pore over financial filings. Worse yet, they can't tell very well how much bang they're getting for their buck. If a charity spends it's money inefficiently but not corruptly, by funding the wrong kind of projects, how can a bunch of individual donors know what's happening? The recipients know best whether their needs are being met, and with a vote, they at least have some hope of affecting policy.

And then, as I said, I want to pay my fair share. Megan has a loopy (and peculiarly self-involved) view of what social services are all about. She says she worries about whether she's consuming too much. And she points out that if you feel you are consuming too much you can always give away the excess. But I don't think most people worry about consuming too much -- they worry about whether others are getting enough to eat or a reasonable amount of medical care.

Kleiman is right to cite Peter Singer's famous article about famine. Singer imagines one individual confronting a child drowning in a pool (if I remember correctly). Would you go to the inconvenience of wading in and saving him? He then suggests that the individual's relationship to this one child cannot be reasonably differentiated from the individual's relationship to the world's poor. This purely individualistic focus is clearly welcome to Megan, but it does distort the facts. The poor are many and the (relatively) rich are many.
If a number of us "give till it hurts" while others use the money we're spending on the poor to buy themselves bigger houses, more houses, nicer furniture and better clothes, is that fair? It appears that selfishness is rewarded and altruism is punished -- those who contribute as selflessly as Singer recommends end up being patsies in their own society.

Helping the poor may indeed be important enough that we should do what's right even though we are essentially punished for it (given that many goods are "positional"). But most people aren't pure altruists and it's understandable, if not admirable, that in those circumstances people usually don't give heroically. It's hard to live in a hovel and wear fraying clothes when your neighbors have big houses and always look good in their brand new designer clothes. If only we could all give a fair share and all wear slightly less fancy clothes and all have proportionally smaller houses, no one would have to give heroically, and no one would have to look like a bum for the sake of others.

So, of course, it's a collective action problem. If law and order is valuable to us (as Megan would probably concede) and if people won't contribute voluntarily enough to maintain the police force, isn't it rational to make payment compulsory? Would it be fair to make such payments voluntary? Would we have a police force at all if everyone were hoping to be a free rider?
Should we blame people who are willing to vote for taxes for this purpose, but who are not willing to give way more than their fair share for law enforcement, saying that they don't really care to pay for law enforcement, they just care that others pay for it?

I generally like Megan and often feel she has interesting things to say, but this argument really was stupid, as she kind of seems to concede in the end when she declares victory for having gotten people to think (rather than answering Mark's argument).

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
03-19-2008, 07:37 PM
A lot of excellent points in that comment Bloggin Noggin.

.
I generally like Megan and often feel she has interesting things to say, but this argument really was stupid, as she kind of seems to concede in the end when she declares victory for having gotten people to think (rather than answering Mark's argument).

Isn't this how nice but intelligent people reacted to Jonah Goldberg's book, "He got people talking about important issues."

It's like when you're teaching a class and someone answers a question with a totally wrong and ridiculous answer...you don't want to discourage people from participating so you say, "Kinda" or "mmm" and find another hand to call on fast.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Gravy
03-19-2008, 07:57 PM
Enough on taxes already! That was a complete throwaway ending to an important diavlog. The conditions in the housing and credit markets dwarf it in importance and yet we have Dear Mr. Noggin writing a monograph on it! Didn't you notice that we hit a quadrillion ton iceberg and the pumps seem severely undersized?! Pay attention people! There is a bullseye being drawn on every equity dollar you think you have. The banks and the mortgage companies want them; your nice neighbor that thought she could afford her house wih the $40,000 of equity that was certain to appear like magic wants some of yours (its only fair, right??); the elected officials representing tracts of vacant McMansions wants plenty of them; and the homebuilders who hired half of Oaxaca as drywallers are trying to angle for a few, too. And if you waste your time chatting about Megan's family and friends showing up here, they are all likely to be successful!

Wonderment
03-20-2008, 03:22 AM
First of all, there is no guarantee that charities serve social needs in anything like reasonable proportion to the needs. Think of all the money that went to 9/11 victims vs. less publicized, less popular causes. I want the genuine needs to be met, and I want to pay my share. Of course, government will not always be rational in its distribution either, but at least government is accountable to both those who need help and those who pay the bill.

There are watchdog organizations out there that assess and rate charities. Examples:

http://www.charitynavigator.org/

http://www.charitywatch.org/

Bloggin' Noggin
03-20-2008, 04:13 PM
Thanks Wonderment. I know about the watchdog organizations. I still think the dynamic I'm talking about applies. People with needs usually have a better idea what they need and whether those needs are being met. If a charity doesn't have high overhead but spends money on fancy equipment that can't be repaired without further help or if it gives people something low on their priority list over something high on their priority list, that's not going to show up in an audit. (I'm reminded of the story of a poor man begging a dinner from Andrew Carnegie, who refused to give him a cent and encourage slothfulness. "Give the man a library!" Carnegie is supposed to have said.)

Besides, even if donors can hold charities accountable, they don't have the incentive to follow up that people who actually need things have. I don't have a problem with charities and I'm glad there are watchdogs, but I don't think it's irrational or mean-spirited to prefer government social services in some cases to charity.

Wonderment
03-20-2008, 05:36 PM
Besides, even if donors can hold charities accountable, they don't have the incentive to follow up that people who actually need things have. I don't have a problem with charities and I'm glad there are watchdogs, but I don't think it's irrational or mean-spirited to prefer government social services in some cases to charity.

(Almost) needless to say, I wholeheartedly agree with that.