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Debt ceiling


He was held in "inhumane conditions" (otherwise known as Russian prison) and was detained “in a manner more appropriate for dealing with dangerous criminals”. Boo friggin hoo. What did he want, a limo ride to prison? This is Russia. It treats ALL of its arrested criminals like criminals. Khodorkovsky encountered merely the generic conditions, despite his massive foreign PR campaign (all that money has to go to use somehow, right?).

I feel sorry that prison conditions in Russia are rough. I don't feel sorry that Khodarkovsky had to encounter them. I especially don't feel any remorse about him trying to use very generic conditions that all inmates go through to paint a picture of just himself as some sort of extraordinary tortured political punching bag...

Who is the criminal? Khodorkovsky, clearly. Did you not read your source again before quoting it?

Did you actually read my post?

What do you do with the fact that the Russian governement tooked over his business ? =)

And to end the debate, none other than Russia's prosecuter general admitted that russia's legal system is a MESS.

''Russia’ prosecutor general Yury Chaika admitted yesterday that his country’s legal system is a mess that cheats thousands of people of justice every year.'' http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/harrydequetteville/3693621/Russias_legal_system_is_a_mess/

So, all your arguments regarding Russia's justice system are out of the window.

A solid legal system takes a solid socialist government to feed it, and massive amounts of restrictions, and BIG, nay, HUGE government.

Don't get me wrong. The governement has a very important role to play in society. It just that it is a LIMITED one.

Russia is capitalist and free, libertarian. Damn near the definition of capitalist libertarianism (at least it was in the 90s for sure...). It's YOUR utopia, not mine. Russia is the real-life consequences of your economic and political views. Suddenly not as much fun as it sounded?

If you want to be safe, pay more guards. Simple capitalism. Yeltsin understood it full well. The house he owned the whole top floor of is in the courtyard of my house in Moscow. It's surrounded by 10 feet fences with AK-47 - armed guards patrolling the grounds 24/7. The law enforcement's a little lacking and irregular, but hey, that's the price of small government, right? That's the libertarian creed - you are much more capable of spending your money than the government, right?

Again, if Russia had a solid legal system, it would work.

And as I proved you, Russia do not have a viable legal system.

Using your arguments, hey look at africa, there is no governement there, so it's a capitalistic system? It is naive and shows your lack of understanding of how capitalism work.


I don't know, I think basic government aid for this disabled or sickly is not a lot to ask. I consider it an investment in infrastructure. If the US wanted to incentivize people to donate more it could increase the amount of charitable deductions it allows on the taxes. The reason why the government likes to roll out expanded aid and programs is because it garners votes. Charity, on the other hand, cannot be channeled or controlled for election purposes.

My problem is not that ''it's not alot to ask for''. My problem is, as a society, we got to have clear guide lines.

As I said in my previous posts, if you're ok with the principal that a majority of people can dictact what you do with your money (i.e. income tax to redirect the money to poor people or whatever), then if the same majority triple the income tax for all people who's name is Anthony, you should accept it.

People have to remember the fundamentals of a society.

We're all different people. The only thing we got all in common is our governement. And why did we set up a governement? It is to acheive collectively what we cain't acheive individualy, i.e. garantee my security (police, military etc) and liberty (solid justice system).

That's basicly it. If one could garantee his own security and liberty (against the oppression of the majority), he wouldn't need to be part of a society.

And that's what the founding fathers understood and that's what made the US great and unique. How did the US survived without an income tax for +100 years? Governement should only eat from the consumption tax.

It's just too bad that the US citizens lost their self confidence and confidence in freedom (personal AND economic freedom!).

You guys tooked a one way ticket to the road of serfdom!
This is a democracy within a constitutional framework. Just because the majority want to do something doesn't mean it will get done.

Listen, I am 100% all for the free market and private charity doing things, but charity is not evenly distributed. When someone is disabled in an area where charity hasn't sprung up I don't think it is right to tell them tough luck.

Just about every nation has some form of safety net. These safety nets allow people to take chances. Unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc all allow people to take chances or have a way out. If you are starving and have a choice between food and school, people will choose food. Do we want extremely poor children to have forsake their education for the desire to live? Is the savings in tax dollars worth the socio economic woes of an all or nothing society? When people starve and have no help they revolt, they steal, they kill.

My issue is that we have swung too far. Half this country pays nothing, but that is no longer enough. We have become a society that wants to punish the rich, when in fact most rich people are simply small business owners or people who have saved and invested throughout their life.

Prove a safety net. Provide a chance to get out of poverty if you are hungry enough, but that is it. What you should not do is punish the fighters, the achievers, simply to placate the mob.
I would go a step further - if the child should successfully complete said education, would the extra tax income generated by his higher paying job more than cover society's investment in him over his lifetime as a productive member in it? There are very successful countries out there built around that principle...

Wait, I'm confused. Are you saying that the extra tax income generated-- solely -- by the extra wage (i.e. that he pays the same tax rate as his poorer friend) should more than cover society's investment in him? If so I am not in full agreement with you kind sir, I think a somewhat progressive tax structure makes sense, just not the one we have now :D
@ all this argument: ehhhh...my personal belief is that safety nets need to be the bare minimum The idea that half of the population pays no income taxes and can vote to raise other peoples' taxes...is interesting to say the least.

Frankly, I really don't like the idea of safety nets, as that money is lost. It's spent, burned, gone, kaput. In my opinion, if individuals showed fiscal discipline, didn't constantly spend in order to keep up with the Joneses, bought only what they needed to and no more, maybe took the occasional vacation once or twice a year, then set aside the rest for a rainy day, they wouldn't be in the mess they're in.

Instead, you hear stories about credit card debts and bills piling up to people's noses and so on and so forth.

Sure, the occasional person is legitimately disadvantaged because they were born with a debilitation or whatnot, but other than that, what exactly are we arguing over? If you know your job doesn't pay the most, then you don't get that 64" HD, but a 26". You don't buy the newest state-of-the-art computer, but set a budget and don't go over. You don't eat out at expensive restaurants. You don't go and enjoy the "finer things in life" when you're perhaps a month or two away from getting your mortgage foreclosed at any point in time.

IMO our social safety nets are too strong. IMO, if you're in reception of a social safety net, your sustenance should consist of the most basic stuff that keeps you alive, you should be living in a small studio in a non-prime location, and you should probably provide evidence of applications to some sorts of employment every single month to prove that you're not just living on the dole. So yeah. I hate, despise, and detest welfare. I'm also personally against the idea of SS and medicare/medicaid. Same crap, different day. Yes, people should have healthcare. I also would be preferential to a public option, simply for the fact that it gives competition to insurance companies, and competition is never a bad thing, even if the government decides to compete in the private sector (and why shouldn't it be allowed to? If it can provide a better service because it's not out to profiteer and turn your premiums into shareholder dividends instead of healthcare, then I'm all for it). But the idea of spending money on causes which have no ROI = makes the quant in me very sad.

As for where the rest of government spending should go besides the very bare minimum for safety net...that's quite easy...

Better infrastructure. More public transport. High speed rail. Light rail. Green energy initiatives. A government-funded venture capital firm for green energy companies. Ever been to Disney World down in Orlando? That place is beyond beautiful. Why can't the government contract those same people, and have the rest of America undergo such a revolution? Out in Silicon Valley, Elon Musk is trying to get the U.S. back into space and wean it off of its oil addiction. Why can't Uncle Sam magnify his contribution on an epic scale? Frankly, I'd be much happier as a taxpayer that my tax dollars went to supporting visionary entrepreneurs rather than being spent on people who are old, spent, keeled over, and whose diminutive contributions to society have come to an end who couldn't save up enough through 40 years of work that they can't live out their next 15 before they reach the average life expectancy of an American.

Also, more investments and grants in education--and not for the low-class, stupid (relatively) minority children who only realize that 2+2=4 a year behind schedule. I'm talking about more funding for honors classes and such. Laptops on the desks in accelerated/AP classes. Field trips. Special teachers for students that show promise of becoming something. And far higher teacher salaries but at the cost of destroying the teachers unions. And someone riddle me this: how is it that in America, we call our most elite soldiers the "Special Forces" yet what do we reserve the term "Special Education" for? Oh right, people so mentally deficient that they can't even succeed in a class that someone with a modicum of talent could just sleep through and get an A in.

Somebody riddle me this: why all of the emphasis on "safety nets" and looking out for the very bottom of the population pool? The bottom of the population pool is the bottom for some very good reasons--otherwise they wouldn't be at that bottom that they need to depend on social safety nets.

Think about it...if the government took the money it was burning on safety nets and instead invested it on turning the dreams of the next generation into a reality--of allowing that one kid who dreams of creating a hypersonic passenger space-jumping jet to do that--to allow that other kid who envisions using photosynthesis to create electricity, of allowing another kid who happens to like the idea of painted-on solar panels to get the education to pursue that dream--it wouldn't need the ridiculous safety nets it has. Because instead, it would use that funding to allow for the next generation to get an education with which to pursue very fulfilling careers, and in turn, become taxpayers that make up for their costs.

And that would be a return on investment, allowing the cycle to repeat, better than before.

Repeat this virtuous cycle for a route to prosperity.
His prosecution is not corrupt at all. It's just prosecution. He committed a bunch of crimes, some quite serious that the prosecution has evidence of. And it's pretty solid evidence, because he has used his money to hit up every appeals court starting from Russia and even going into the general European appeals court (that someone was so nice to link) - and they've all come back with the same verdict - guilty.

The reasons behind his arrest are shadowy, but still more Kosher than his previous lifestyle.
I bet you think Pravda is an unbiased source as well...
Both of these examples (Britain and Germany) had a huge governement, so I'm not surprised.

Britain, huge government in the 18th and 19thC? Not true at all. Britain had a largely laissez-faire approach to government until the 20th C - really after WW2 when the Labour government got into power. It's why they didn't have health and safety standards on industrial machinery, why children were sent up Chimney's to clean them out, why the famine in Ireland largely happened.
Legislation was introduced slowly to address these issues.

Yes there was charity, the Quakers sent food to Ireland during the potato famine. It didn't do much good. There was the work house, where you could become a virtual slave for food.
The poor lived in squalid conditions in the slums of Manchester and Salford. Surplus labour allowed prices to be driven down by the factory owners and with no provision for any social benefits, no rules on pollution, working hours and similar the life expectancy reached 24 years of age in Salford. That is actually worst then it was in England during periods of the Middle Ages.

Britain was the wealthiest nation on earth during this period. The British funded the rail-roads in the US during this era for example (through private bonds). The British civil service in the empire tended to be on the small side, and private individuals and their mercenary armies tended to do the dirty work.
Cecil Rhodes is a prime example of this, complete with his own mercenary army and company men expanded the British Empire across a large swath of Africa.
Then you had the "informal empire" places like Argentina, where large number of British engineers and merchants setup shop.

Fact is just because somewhere is wealthy and has small government, does not automatically mean charities will fill the gap. It is certainly true that in Victorian Britain many wealthy capitalists spent their own money on workers housing (look at the Cadbury family for example - a trend you will notice is that many were Quakers interestingly), but for most people in the British Empire life was bad if you were poor (although opportunities of course did exist).


Alexei, Russia's prosecuter general admitted that russia's legal system is a MESS.

And you know that in order for an official to come out and admit something like this publicly, the situation have to be 1000x worse in real.

If that is not enough for you, then you're blinded by patriotism or something.

And to get back to the debt ceiling debate, here is the actual democratic party leader, Harry Reid, back in 2006, explaining to us why it is not a good idea to raise the debt ceiling, enjoy:

That is actually worse than it was in England during periods of the Middle Ages.

During all of the Middle Ages -- with the except of the Black Death -- life was generally better than in Victorian England for the majority of people. Better nutrition, better living conditions.

Cecil Rhodes is a prime example of this, complete with his own mercenary army and company men expanded the British Empire across a large swathe of Africa.

The East India Company was an earlier example.
During those times, the US government spending was 5% of GDP.

You can't use a single metric to measure the size of government. As for spending and debt. It fluctuated of course.

Between 1700 and 1715 the debt went up to 60% of GDP. By 1816 the debt had reached 237% (largely driven by a succession of wars fought with Spain and France and of course the war of Independence - and the ability for the British government to fund its campaigns through private individuals was a decisive factor in driving up the debt).
In fact the lack of wars between Britain and its neighbors during the later half of the 19th C contributed towards lowering the debt.
After this period the debt dropped significantly. By 1914 it was at 25% of GDP.

The US on the other hand also experienced a fluctuating debt to GDP ratio, it stood at 30% of GDP after the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Not as high as Britain, but then the US wasn't in a state of perpetual warfare, other then domestic issues i.e. the native tribes.

The vast majority of spending in Britain was to fund warfare, not social programmes or similar - which many people would use as a metric when measuring whether a government is big or not.
Better nutrition, better living conditions.

Generally yes, the threat of warfare was obviously significantly worst, urban life was appauling and jobs like being a Tanner were pretty lethal, but over all the life expectancy was better, which shows just how bad places like Salford were.
The East India Company was an earlier example.

Indeed, Yale University being named after the Govenor of Madrass a merchant of the East India company.

** Edit: I have a feeling this is going to turn into another one of *those* debates :), where it goes on for pages and nobody agrees. So might be best to leave it at that! **


Quant Headhunter
Newhaven is right that the British government before WWI spend really very little on social programs.
As a student of the pensions time bomb, I'd like to share with you who was responsible for state pensions in Europe then the USA, anyone care to guess ?

Bismarck, yes that Bismarck, Hitler's pin-up. Before then workers and especially ex-soldiers were pretty much left to die. The vagrancy laws in Europe were created in the 19th century because the number of ex-servicemen who were unemployed (and often unemployable) but who could cause trouble was becoming a threat to law and order.
When pensions were first introduced in Britain, the life expectancy was 43. Yes it was. Really, the numbers in Germany were fractionally higher, but not much.
It simply does not matter how you fund pensions, something the evangelicals that Americans insist on electing in spite of their track record simply cannot grasp.
If you have a large % of your population consuming, but not producing, GDP per head goes down, and given the demographics it goes down hard.
GDP per head is a decent approximation for the wealth of a country, thus America will get poorer, much poorer.

Let me use language an evangelical might just understand.

I owe you $1,000
I repay you.

This is not wealth creation.

People living off their savings does not create wealth, nor by proxy do payments from a pension fund whether it is an insurance company or a government.

Thus "funding" of pensions won't solve the problem, even if it happens, which it won't.

The only possible solution is to make people work longer.
A lot longer.

That's really quite hard, politically.
Older people are more likely to vote and they are a growing % of the population, and all elected representatives of all parties care more about this than the future of their country.

References have been made to Britain, but not enough.

The British Empire fell because it ran out of money.
It spent too much on crap, and fell so hard that today my kids need explaining to even know it was there.

America spends a vast amount on wars that it cannot hope to win in any real sense, like Britain did.

In all the posturing, not one serious voice has been raised about cutting defence spending much.
In all the posturing, not one serious voice has been raised about cutting defence spending much.

That's taboo, strictly verboten. It's suicide (maybe even literally?) for a politician to bring this up. With exceptions that can be counted on a crippled hand, they are all assiduous in their devotion to the military-industrial cause and their financial overlords.
Ilya, because most human beings have these cool things called compassion and sympathy, and typically want to do unto others as they would want to be done unto themselves in such a scenario, at least to a certain extent. Because "starve the poor" makes for a bad campaign slogan anywhere amongst virtually all constituencies. At some point, people just don't want the blood on their hands.

That's nice, but if I choose not to be so compassionate, why exactly should it be my money being burned? I have nothing against paying for defense, better infrastructure, and programs that generate some ROI in the distant future (such as a generation into the future, when those elementary school children turn into outstanding and highly-paid teachers, engineers, and entrepreneurs). But to simply take my money and give it to old in a sum of three times what they paid over the course of their lifetimes=no thank you.

@ comparisons to the British empire:

What I don't understand about all the punditry is this: people compare the U.S. to other empires. But the U.S. isn't and never was an empire in the historical sense in that it does not occupy colonies. The Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the Soviet Union all held territories by force, that when the mother country went fiscally belly-up, those outlying colonies simply said "we don't want to pay you anymore, so we're declaring our independence, see ya". America has no colonies. It may have a "commercial" empire, but honestly, the fortunes of Starbucks, McDonalds, and Goldman Sachs really don't make an immediate impact on my life.

Furthermore, just because we might see a temporary decrease in standards of living doesn't mean that those among us who are better educated, harder-working, and so forth won't be able to do well for ourselves once we get a bit of luck getting our foot in the door. After all, this is the country of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. We still (and probably forever will) have the best technology and financial sectors on the planet, as well as the finest universities (if extremely overpriced).

So all of these comparisons to the fall of empires are just so much hot air in my book. Eventually, at some point, after the chickens come home to roost and a bunch of old people realize that there never was enough money for them and the young people realize that the only people who can take care of them are themselves, we'll get back to what made America great in the first place, which is scrappy capitalism and innovation rather than "working 40 years for a salary and keeping up with the Joneses".

In the past, parents moved heaven and earth to get to America, and sacrificed so much so that their children can have a better life. The idea that there's so much hullabaloo about the social programs taking care of the elderly just irritates me to no end, and then we have our military spread throughout the world, when the world can very well take care of itself. That money can be much better spent on innovation in terms of getting back into space, crisscrossing the nation with high-speed and light rail, putting solar panels by our roadways (or in them--google up solar roadways), and turning the USA into a giant Disney World.

But in order to do that, we have to spend our tax dollars in ways in which they will ensure more tax dollars being paid in the future--not in ways that they will simply get spent on perishable items.
That's taboo, strictly verboten. It's suicide (maybe even literally?) for a politician to bring this up. With exceptions that can be counted on a crippled hand, they are all assiduous in their devotion to the military-industrial cause and their financial overlords.

See what I don't understand is why do politicians campaign so much for re-election?

If I was made dictator of America for four years (heck, if I was made dictator of America for even one day), I'd clean house, and get more done in that span of time than all of the clowns in the circus that is congress and the presidency accomplish these days.

If you get into power, get something done FFS. Who cares if you don't get re-elected? You do what you need to in the one term allotted, then go back to the private sector. Are these clowns so otherwise unemployable that the only thing they can do is blow so much steam on Capitol Hill and squander other people's money?
I don't know, the cost of an all or nothing society is pretty steep. Bankruptcy is a wonderful creation because it allows people to take chances. Same thing with social safety nets. People need unemployment insurance, heating assistance, etc. The problem comes when people use these to exist vs. use them as a way back on their feet.