Making money the Confederate way…

There are two main ways to acquire wealth in America.

One is to create it. The other is to steal it.

To create wealth one must innovate, invent or invest in new infrastructure. Innovations are ways to get more productivity out of a process and inventions are new products. Both generate wealth, but more times than not both also grew out of investments in infrastructure–physical things like canals, railroads, highways and power grids or research that created entire new industries from plastics to the internets and/or investments in people like education funding and job training. In the history of wealth creation most of these infrastructure investments have been led by Government spending and from that spending billions of dollars of wealth have been created along with millions and millions of jobs. It is a model of creating real wealth that goes back hundreds of years.

Of course, the other model of generating wealth goes back thousands of years. It has always been easier to steal money from others than it has been to create it through investment, innovation and invention. Stealing is just an easy path to riches.

150 years ago the Confederacy launched the Civil War to protect an economic systems based on the theft. Slavery was the most obvious example, but the system also exempted the rich from taxes and the burdens of war. It also refused to support innovation, invention or infrastructure as tools to generate wealth. It was a Kleptocracy.

One of the Confederacy’s biggest gripes against Lincoln was that Old Abe wanted to invest Federal money in Education, railroads, ports, and other physical improvements. Worst from their POV was that Lincoln also wanted to invest in people and protect the rights of workers. Lincoln’s desire to limit the amount of wealth the elites could steal was why the South started the war.

The right of the elites to make money through theft was what the Confederacy was all about and protecting the rights of elites to steal wealth is still a core belief of the modern Republican Confederate Party.

Case in point is Paul Ryan’s very “serious” wealth redistribution plan. At its core it is a plan to steal the labor, savings and wealth from most Americans and redistribute it to the elites. It is just another plan–in an endless series of plans–designed to steal money while passing along the cost of social and environmental destruction to others. It is just theft, plain and simple.

And like the Confederates of old, Ryan and his fellow eunuchs of the the elites are against any Federal involvement in wealth creation through innovation, invention or infrastructure spending. That might create new winners and losers and we can’t have that in their Galtian wonderland.

Ryan’s plan is distinctly Confederate, but then again that could be said about almost everything offered by the Republican controlled House. All of their policies are an effort to turn the clock back to some time before the Civil War and recreate a distinctly Confederate economy–an economy controlled by an elite handful of old white guys who could steal anything they wanted and below them a mass of poor folks struggling just to survive.

Ryan has an ambitious vision and it should be fought with all the passion that the Grand Army of the Republic fought the earlier ambitious vision of the Confederates. Both shared a vision that theft was the best way to generate wealth and both were wrong.

Cheers

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108 replies
  1. 1
    beltane says:

    Stealing money doesn’t generate wealth, it generates poverty. One wonders if people will ever start asking when they will be able to harvest the crop of billionaires they have sacrificed so much to feed and grow.

  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    Well said, Dennis.

    Do you think we might be getting to the last dregs of the Republican/Moral Majority/Teabillies party?

    Because it’s hysterical and nonsensical; they don’t have any credible presidential candidates (and if they did, a lotta voters are going to realize you get the Crazy Train if you vote GOP).

    I am wondering if we are nearing a hinge.

    Chaos cannot sustain itself, and that’s all the GOP has.

    (OK, besides the mainstream press and loads of political donors.)

  3. 3
    Mandramas says:

    This post looks like an Ayn Rand’s book, only that twisted in some way….

  4. 4
    Martin says:

    Wil Shipley wrote a nice essay to distinguish between different business models.

    Farming vs. Mining

    The entire premise of the GOP is on the mining side – spend less, do less. That doesn’t lead to growth. You can’t build something by going out of your way to not spend. All it does is make sure you die with more of what you’ve already earned, not help you earn more. The GOPs attitude is that the US is done – we’ve run our course. No point investing in this rusty ship. Better to hold onto what scraps of success we’ve already gained, because they’re convinced that China is going to win the future.

  5. 5
    LGRooney says:

    Just a quibble: wasn’t it Grand Army of the Potomac?

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    @LGRooney: No, the Union army was the Grand Army of the Republic. I am reminded of this every day when I drive along VT state Hwy 15, aka The Grand Army of the Republic Highway.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @LGRooney:G.A.R. Look at the markers on Civil War veterans’ graves.

  8. 8

    @beltane: You can read the signs? I’m too busy dodging the potholes!

  9. 9
    moops says:

    The theft analogy does nothing to alter the conversation. The Confederates have an even more fundamental view of theft. Taxes are theft. The government comes, with the backing of the courts and the police, and takes your money. That is the primary theft for them. They view all subsequent looting of the government as taking back their own. They are Robin Hood, and government is the King and the Sheriff.

    Now, I support higher taxation, but it has nothing to do with the GOP being thieves. They aren’t. That is not their sin.

  10. 10
    Dennis G. says:

    @beltane:
    Stealing money does generate wealth for the thief and those thieves are who Ryan and his fellow travelers seek to protect.

  11. 11
    Ron Beasley says:

    Dennis
    One of the best posts I have read anywhere for a long time. A must read and I’m going to do what I can to make sure more people read it.

  12. 12
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    I agree with Burma Jones in A Confederacy of Dunces – what this country needs is a maximal wage.
    .
    .

  13. 13
    Little Boots says:

    I swear half the politicians in this state want to live in Mississippi. It’s odd, but true. they really do.

  14. 14
    Scamp Dog says:

    @beltane: It would probably be better phrased that “there are two ways to acquire wealth”. But Dennis G. gets the concept. With that one-word change, he’d have totally nailed it.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Dennis G.: It doesn’t generate wealth, as in creating it. It merely reallocates it, moves it from one person’s pile to another’s.

  16. 16
    Little Boots says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    yeah, Dennis is pretty good, ain’t he?

  17. 17
    Dennis G. says:

    @moops:
    No. They are thieves. That is their thing.

    Taxes are not theft. They are a shared obligation of a civil society. The ‘Government as thief’ meme is just a bit of projection on their part and a talking point for the rubes among us.

    Cheers

  18. 18
    Dennis G. says:

    @Scamp Dog:
    I like the edit. It is a better word for what I was trying to say. Change made. Thanks.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Little Boots: I’ve driven through Mississippi. We don’t want to live there.

  20. 20
    moops says:

    @Dennis G.:

    What are you wanting here ? A pat on the head and cheers ? or effective rhetorical arguments ?

    If you want to displace the “Government as Thief” meme, you have to replace it.

    the closest you have come is “shared obligation”.

    by who’s agreement? who decides what is shared ? I’m challenging you to try harder.

  21. 21
    Little Boots says:

    and to see Wisconsin politicians actually jealous of Mississippi is kind of what is going on here. they really want a no-union, crappy schools, no services, thoroughly corrupt state, where everyone knows their place. that is completely not what our state has been about, but enough people crave that, that they might just pull it off if we don’t stop them.

  22. 22
    Little Boots says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    because you’re not an asswipe like Scott Walker. Some really do want that. they really do.

  23. 23
    General Stuck says:

    Only problem is with the nostalgic thieves like Ryan and his ilk, is that it really isn’t 1850 any more, and we have a government deeply involved in social service, using taxpayer dollars. And that is truest in the reddest states.

    Racist, xenophobes and other anti government malcontents are all for waving the Rebel flag, and screaming soshulist liberals, and all that good shit. But take away their gramma’s medicare, and that won’t fly. It is, or has been, a parlor game for the wingnut nostalgics and a way to motivate it’s fat white guy voters. But Ryan is serious, and so are most of the House wingnuts. But they are fucking with mother nature, who sends out the SS checks every month, and guarantees Billy Bob’s heart troubled pappy can go to the doctor. Rubber meets road at some point, and the Glibertarian Clown Car needs to find the brakes, or it’s over the edge for the Confederate Party, on a national basis. Maybe Obama had the cables cut. We shall see.

  24. 24
    Sharilynn says:

    Why isn’t anyone talking about increasing revenue via tax increases? I know it’s not popular, but is fiscally sound.

  25. 25
    Little Boots says:

    @General Stuck:

    which is why I lean toward the shutdown. people are living in a fucking dreamworld. let them see what happens when the government actually shuts down. then stop being the kind of assholes that turn out for teabagger rallies, mmmmkay.

  26. 26
    moops says:

    @General Stuck:

    Any claim that Obama set this up is scorn-worthy. Should deserve a big combined Glenn Greenwald+John Cole 11-dimensional chess guffaw.

    If anyone is going to be predictable in this political theater it will be the MiddleMan.

  27. 27
    General Stuck says:

    @moops:

    It was a joke, moron.

  28. 28
    sukabi says:

    Ummm Dennis, you forgot the most important way to become wealthy… inherit it.

  29. 29
    Mark says:

    Off-topic, but I went to do a presentation to a customer today and one of their guys was wearing a “John Galt” t-shirt at the presentation.

    I wanted to vomit, especially since we work in tech, which has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of government subsidies over the years (though not today.)

  30. 30
    Arundel says:

    @moops: So I suppose Christ was advocating theft when he said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”?

    @Martin: Thanks for the good link. Yes, “spend less,cut everything, do less” seems a recipe for inertia and death, in national economic terms. It’s profoundly pessimistic too- Republicans are the first to wave the flag and talk about American ingenuity, then go and express sentiments close to treason (secession) and truly seem to think the US is a carcass they want to strip bare while they can, and thwarting each and every step toawrds innovation and remedy. Right now, raiding the honeypots of SS and Medicare, through bamboozlement and yes, theft- it’s just how they roll. They actually do have a seething contempt for this country and its people- just look at them go.

  31. 31
    General Stuck says:

    @General Stuck:

    It was a joke, but it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that passing HCR after 100 years of dem effort, and jeebus, by a black president of all people, hasn’t done anything positive for republican sanity in these matters.

  32. 32
    Dennis G. says:

    @moops:
    No. What they do is theft. This 10 point analysis of the Ryan Plan by Ezra Klein makes the case, especially points 5 and 6:

    5) The implication of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis isn’t just that seniors would pay more for less under Ryan’s Medicare reform but that the gap between Ryan’s plan and traditional Medicare would grow over time. That suggests Ryan’s plan isn’t just shifting costs without cutting total costs but that it’s shifting costs while increasing total costs. I don’t know that people have grappled with that yet.

    6) This is related to No. 5, but there’s a big difference between cutting costs and shifting them. Cutting medical care for the disabled doesn’t cut the cost of their care; it just means someone who isn’t the federal government has to pay it. Solving a problem for the federal government isn’t worth that much if it comes at the cost of creating a problem of equal or greater size for individual households.

    Just because they claim that taxes are theft does not make it true. A closer look at their policies almost always reveals an effort to protect the acquisition of wealth through theft–also known as “cost shifting”.

    Theirs is a movement rooted in theft regardless of the candy coating.

    Cheers

  33. 33
    moops says:

    @Arundel:

    getting better.

    So, one argument here is that taxation does not violate Christian ideals or is sinful.

    That is an old argument. The occupied people of Christ’s time were eager to have a moral foundation to oppose their occupation and taxation. Christ set that aside.

    so….. Does that argument change a Randian libertarian’s heart ?

  34. 34
    Tom says:

    Thought I’d take the time to thank all of the different frontpagers for their varied and unique voices on this topic and all the others. It’s what keeps me coming back to this blog day after day.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:

    I agree with Burma Jones in A Confederacy of Dunces – what this country needs is a maximal wage.

    We don’t need a maximum wage, since really rich people don’t depend on wages. We need a limit on the amount rich people can earn on their investments and, more important, on their inheritance. A maximum wage will just send even more unearned wealth to the top fraction of a percent.

  36. 36
    moops says:

    @Dennis G.:

    just stating taxation is not theft is as pointless as stating it is.

    Look, I’m a sympathetic audience here. I support taxation at a much higher rate, and your Confederate Thieves Party narrative just has nothing in it.

    kicking old people off medicare to die in the gutter is not “theft”, by any definition of the term.

  37. 37
    General Stuck says:

    @moops:

    kicking old people off medicare to die in the gutter is not “theft”, by any definition of the term.

    Sure it is. It is cutting off their insurance policy they paid into for decades, at the time they need it most. Theft by deception i would call it.

  38. 38
    Martin says:

    Heh, Jerry Brown tries a different tack:

    “Hug a Republican, make them feel good,” Brown said. “In fact I’m going to go up and down the state to see if I can’t hug Republicans and … tell them, ‘We love you, but give us a break, let the people vote.'”

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @Little Boots:
    Not going to happen. The Confederates know they’ll lose the kind of real shutdown that would involve stopping SS checks and Medicare payments, so they’re shutting down only the parts of government they don’t like.

  40. 40
    tkogrumpy says:

    @General Stuck: Beautifully done!

  41. 41
    moops says:

    @General Stuck:

    I’m trying to get some narrative that can be useful in a discussion with an actual conservative.

    kicking old people in the gutter -> lower taxes

    The crux of the argument here is that “lower taxes” = “theft”

    Really ? so I can tell the stuffy white old man that lowering his taxes is the same as him committing theft ?

    just play this conversation out a little bit.

    I come back to what is the point of all this ? enjoying the smell of our own farts ?

  42. 42
    General Stuck says:

    @tkogrumpy:

    Thank you kind sir!

  43. 43
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @Roger Moore:
    .
    .

    We don’t need a maximum wage, since really rich people don’t depend on wages. We need a limit on the amount rich people can earn on their investments

    I’m all for adding that too, even though it makes the bumper sticker overly long, but then we will still need the maximum wage to prevent the richies from calling their sociopathically greedy gains “wages”.
    .
    .

  44. 44
    Wag says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Chaos cannot sustain itself,

    Unfortunately, I think you are reading the laws of Thermodynamics exactly wrong. Chaos can sustain itself. Systems tend towards increasing disorder without the input of energy. It is incumbent upon all of us to be the energy that decreases the disorder, the change that makes a difference.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about the old hippy adage “Think Globally, Act Locally.” I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the originator of this piece of pablum wasn’t a mole from the GOP. What better way to co-opt a powerful movement than to narrow its focus. Additionally, I am becoming more and more convinced that we, as progressives, need to invert this in order to become more successful in out politics.

    Think Locally, Act Globally. Dream big. We don’t need to restrict our aspirations to our own little corners of the world. We CAN change the world.

  45. 45
    moops says:

    Theft by deception is even more meaningless.

    theft of what ? by who ? where did it go ? who was fooled ? the old person in the gutter, were they fooled ?

    This is not a troll. I do want answers to my points, but I’m thinking nobody here has any.

  46. 46
    rikyrah says:

    keep on telling the truth

  47. 47
    Arundel says:

    Moops, how about this then: that the hundreds and hundreds of millionaires who live in my area (The Hamptons) ought to pay for the airports they land their private jets on. And the roads their limousines use. And the billion tons of water they use for their sprawling lawns and pools. Oh, and all this for mansions they use 3 months a year. Is that theft to ask them to pay their fair share? How about living in a country that’s not a hellhole of poverty?

    If anyone’s the thief, it’s the billionaires not paying anything, stashing their money away in Gstaad through a million loopholes, using our roads and airports and tech infrastructure to build and maintain their corporations. At our expense, the environment’s expense. Who’s the thief?

    Not a troll? That’s too bad, it seems you’re merely foolish then. “Taxes are theft, and I demand you all tell my why it isn’t, and will do so with terrible grammar and spelling”. Doing a pretty good troll impresssion.

  48. 48
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Dennis G.: Woo hoo, I’ve hit the big time! (wags tail as hard as he can)

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:
    No, we don’t need a maximum wage. We just need a 100% estate tax for amounts over, say, $10 million and a graduated income tax with really high rates for extremely high incomes.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @moops:

    theft of what ?

    Of the money that was deducted from their paycheck for their whole working life with the promise that they would get healthcare when they were old.

    by who ?

    Mostly Republicans, but there were some Democrats doing it, too.

    where did it go ?

    Iraq and Afghanistan, and into Paris Hilton’s pockets in the form of tax cuts.

    who was fooled ? the old person in the gutter, were they fooled ?

    Yes, they were, because they paid into a system for decades and then were told, “Sorry, suckers, there’s no money left!”

    There’s a reason conservatives keep trying to claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme — that’s the end result they want. They want to take the money that people have paid into the system in good faith and blow it on hookers and cocaine.

  51. 51
    moops says:

    @Arundel:

    thanks for the strawman, not a good likeness.

    What society operates without effective taxation ? Did I ask for one ? scroll back and read it all again. I think you will find a specific quote from me on this point.

    The billionaires stashing their cash in Gstaad is not the cause of even a large amount of our deficit. It just isn’t. Corporations use most loopholes.

    The wealthy live in excess and lay about their mansions and pools. and that makes them thieves ?

  52. 52
    moops says:

    It just convinces nobody but the already convinced.

    lower taxes = theft

    you say it and your pals nod.

    conservative hear it and know you are a fool.

    If my grammar is deplorable then I can be dismissed. That’s how blog comments work right ? Bad grammar.

    noted.

  53. 53
    Dennis G. says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Thanks for that.

    Cheers

  54. 54
    moops says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Medicare and Medicaid are a Ponzi scheme ? haven’t heard that one before. well, not really new, John Stossel is that dumb, but I don’t think Ryan’s budget or the Confederate Thieves Party is targeting SS today.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @moops: If you must be disingenuous, and it appears that you must, could you at least try to be entertaining or interesting?

  56. 56

    @moops:

    The wealthy live in excess and lay about their mansions and pools. and that makes them thieves ?

    When they’re getting subsidies and no-bid government contracts while cutting wages if not workers? Yeah, I’d say they’re stealing. Every one of those fuckers at banking houses that got a bonus after their bank was bailed out? Fucking thieves.

  57. 57
    moops says:

    going to War was theft also ?

    we should perhaps call it a heist. In fact, lets refer to all incorrect distribution of wealth as theft. Spending money on cruise missiles is theft. Buying off Central American dictators is theft. Removing a line item in the budget for forest restoration is theft. Every round of budget negotiation is a litany of thievery.

    It all involves money, so it’s theft, right ?

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:

    @moops:
    The problem is that, as radicals like to say, property is theft. More accurately, capital is theft. Businesses steal all the product of their employees’ labor and expect us not to notice the theft because they return some of it. We’re just so used to being stolen from that we don’t even notice how unfair the system is.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @moops:

    Medicare and Medicaid are a Ponzi scheme ? haven’t heard that one before. well, not really new, John Stossel is that dumb, but I don’t think Ryan’s budget or the Confederate Thieves Party is targeting SS today.

    Uh, yeah, they are. What did you think “privatization of Social Security” means? The financial “services” industry sees all of that sweet, sweet money in the SS trust fund as an unexploited opportunity to siphon off fees for doing nothing, and they’re doing everything they can to get Republicans to turn it over to them.

    Republicans have been stealing from the Social Security trust since Reagan. Now they want to cover up the theft by taking the rest of the money and pretending it was never really there in the first place.

    So, yeah, the money that has been taken out of every paycheck of mine since I started working part-time jobs at 16 is in danger of being stolen instead of being used for my Social Security and Medicare in the future.

  60. 60
    agorabum says:

    @moops: They do believe in theft. They don’t want environmental regulation (so that the wealthy can steal your right to live clean and healthy). They want to make sure the upper 1% keep all the economic benefits of a growing economy (stealing the value of work from the lower 99% to reward the value of wealth).

    Taxes are the dues we pay for civilization. They don’t want to pay their dues. I’d say that’s a form of theft.

    And the government is not ‘theif’ it is “we the people.” That’s who should decide it.

  61. 61

    @Arundel:

    Moops, how about this then: that the hundreds and hundreds of millionaires who live in my area (The Hamptons) ought to pay for the airports they land their private jets on. And the roads their limousines use.

    If it was just about them using airports and roads purely for personal travel, I don’t think you could make much of a case.

    However, they depend upon the federally funded infrastructure (add railroads, waterways and ports to your list) to make their money. The bigger the business, the more dependence on that infrastructure.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    @agorabum:

    I usually call them moochers or leeches instead of thieves. They’re like the guy that you go out to dinner with who disappears into the bathroom when it’s time for him to pay his share and doesn’t come back until everyone gives in and pays it for him so they can all just go home already.

    Republicans want to get something for nothing. I don’t know if you can technically call that “theft,” but it’s definitely mooching off the work of other people and refusing to do your fair share.

  63. 63
    moops says:

    @agorabum:

    Taxes are the dues we pay for civilization. They don’t want to pay their dues. I’d say that’s a form of theft.

    And the government is not ‘theif’ it is “we the people.” That’s who should decide it.

    thank you.

    I don’t know why it took this long to start the conversation. What amount of prodding does it take ? I get fat bastards and their secret bank accounts and Paris Hilton and cunning sharks on Wall Street.

    And that all misses the point.

  64. 64

    @moops:

    I don’t know why it took this long to start the conversation.

    Yeah, and thank you for not splooging all over our shoes at the end of your frantic round of rhetorical masturbation.

  65. 65
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @Roger Moore:
    .
    .

    No, we don’t need a maximum wage.

    We do if we don’t want someone making $[whatever] million a year in wages. Apparently this “we” does not include you.
    .
    .

  66. 66
    moops says:

    The argument conservatives make is pretty simple. They disagree with what is taken in taxes and what it pays for. In their view it should cost a lot less. You are not going to convince anyone that them forcing their point of view is equivalent to theft.

    I’m as liberal as they get, and think a 90% tax bracket is justified, and I don’t see the point of labeling anything here as theft. If you want to poke your finger that phrase you will get a pretty automatic response from someone that disagrees.

    and then you are here. Where I’ve been trying to drag you.

    Might as well work through your rhetoric with a friendly audience first.

  67. 67
    moops says:

    The Balloon Juice crowd wishing for a real shutdown get the point. I don’t think that is a good outcome, but they at least get the point of what conversation they WANT to have.

  68. 68
    Roger Moore says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:
    If somebody is doing work that is worth $X million per year, they deserve to be able to earn $X million per year. If we forbid the people who are actually doing the work from earning their value, the difference between what they’re worth and what we allow them to be paid will accrue to their employer. I’d much rather see the money go to the worker who creates the value rather than a capitalist leeching off their success.

    If you don’t want anyone to have an income over a certain amount, you should just tax income above that amount at some extortionate rate. That way you’ll also hit investors who are reaping capital gains as well as people who are actually earning their money.

  69. 69
    moops says:

    @Roger Moore:

    actually, a 90% tax rate has some very favorable outcomes. The shareholders start demanding that more of the pay be disbursed to the middle managers and bottom workers. That creates more ROI than executive pay rates once the tax rate is high enough. This effect is already known, but not talked about much.

  70. 70
    MattR says:

    @moops: You are starting with a fundamental misunderstanding that the point of Dennis’s post was to provide a tool to convince conservatives of the error of their ways rather than as a history lesson for liberals.

  71. 71
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @MattR: Ditto that. And it was a good history lesson, indeed. Well worth remembering.

  72. 72
    moops says:

    @MattR:

    but what good is a history lesson through your own optics ?

    perhaps a nice rallying effort. Make us feel righteous ? That we are contending with thieves ?

    I don’t think it improves our strategy or approach. As a rhetorical exercise maybe it is a nice interpretation. That the GOP is playing a game they have played since Confederate times is a nice connection. That unearned wealth is theft, In my opinion, misses the point.

  73. 73
  74. 74

    @moops:

    but what good is a history lesson through your own optics ?

    Uhhh…For the history lesson?

  75. 75

    Dennis, I’m just a bit surprised that you didn’t mention all of the military installations and armories that were taken over by or just handed over to seceding states. Didn’t offer negotiations to pay for them, just took ’em and told the Unionists there to GTFO.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @moops:

    I don’t think it improves our strategy or approach.

    It’s not meant to. I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what Dennis’ point is with these posts.

  77. 77
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Little Boots:

    and to see Wisconsin politicians actually jealous of Mississippi is kind of what is going on here. they really want a no-union, crappy schools, no services, thoroughly corrupt state, where everyone knows their place.

    If you’re a sociopath or an emotional cripple whose only “joy” is measuring how much stuff you have in comparison to everyone around you, Mississippi is a pretty good environment. In a high-dollar enclave like New York City or San Francisco, it’s hard to impress your fellow sociopaths through displays of conspicuous consumption. And in a high-social-connectivity place like the Scandihoovian Midwest that Garrison Keillor called Lake Woebegone, just having more “stuff” than your neighbors isn’t sufficient, because you’ll be publicly pitied for your lack of empathy. But in a desperately poor banana-republican stronghold like Mississippi, it doesn’t take all that much money to be J.R. Ewing, and you’re guaranteed neighbors who are too ignorant and/or beaten-down to question your soulessness. As the latest popcult avatar of raw selfishness would say: WINNING!

  78. 78
    moops says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    and the history lesson is what ?

    Thieves !

    The word is less than worthless in this lesson. The North didn’t fight a war against Thieves. The Confederacy didn’t unite under the Jolly Roger.

    just pointless revisionism.

  79. 79
    300baud says:

    @Dennis:

    I agree with your basic point, but you’re wrong when you say “To create wealth one must innovate, invent or invest in new infrastructure.”

    If a baker gets up in the morning and bakes 100 loaves of bread that people come in and buy over the course of the day, then the baker has created wealth. Everybody involved is better off, which is all that wealth creation is. Innovation, invention, and investment are not necessary.

    This is in contrast with, say, financial trading, where one side of a trade wins what the other loses. In the big picture, that ranges from a little negative (because there are both actual and opportunity costs) to a little positive (because good price signals can be useful to society).

    Worse are things like a lot of lawyering (a net negative in America) and advertising (which mainly shifts demand around, often in favor of waste). Worse still are various sorts of theft, including some lawyering (like patent trolls), a lot of consumer banking (e.g., credit card and home loan traps for the unwary), monopolies and near-monopolies (hello, Comcast!), and scammers (everybody from homeopathic medicine producers to Bernie Madoff).

    But quite a lot of ordinary people still produce actual wealth, a little bit every day. It’s important to keep them in mind. America can get by without captains of industry, but without solid citizens creating value, we’re done for.

  80. 80
    Caz says:

    Your opinion is so ass backwards ,factually wrong, and intellectually disingenuous, you are either lying, stupid, or hate America. Any one of those is just as likely as any other, I suppose.

    The left has been tring to redistributed wealth, with some success, for many decades now. This is a major tenet of marxism and socialism. I think some liberals decided recently to start calling it “social justice” and “government investment.”

    What a farce. Are you really that stupid? At least I can buy it if you are just lying and propagandizing because you don’t like our constitutional, free-market system. But if you really believe this, then I think all hope is lost for you and I really hope you are too sick in November, 2012 to get out and vote, because ideas like yours are being touted by those in power who wish to destroy this country and turn it into a socialist nation. We are part of the way there already, and propaganda might get us the rest of the way with idiots like you voting for those who say stuff like this.

    Fortunately, the only ones that will actually read this garbage are those that already agree with you, because you alienated anyone with a different opinion with hateful speech and personal attacks, and this blog is generally considered a joke among political blogs.

    I might be more distressed if I read this in the New York Times – but since it’s only a juicetard rant, it’s not likely to have much exposure or effect on anyone who isn’t already as lost as you are.

  81. 81

    @300baud:

    Right *whoosh* over your head.

    The point of the post being that not only did the planter class in the Confederacy steal labor from the slaves, they also stole wealth from those around them by refusing to pay for the canals and ports which allowed them to move their goods.

    You know what the Three-Fifths Compromise did, don’t you? No? It counted slaves as three-fifths of a person, not to give extra votes to the slave-owner, but for the purposes of apportioning seats in the House, and, by extension, votes in the Electoral College. The individual slave states had their own versions of the compromise, so that slave-holding interests held the power in the state legislatures, which, at the time, appointed senators to the federal government. This had the effect of over-representing slave-holding interests in Congress as well as giving them the veto power of the Presidency. Pretty sweet for slave-holders, right? Get shit built for you and yours while exempting yourself from federal- and state- taxes.

    Then, in 1820, the slave-holders realize that, OH FUCK! people moving west don’t need slaves to run their wheat and corn farms, which aren’t as labor-intensive as southern cotton, indigo, rice and sugar plantations! They can’t even grow those crops outside of the South! Soon we’ll be swamped by all of these free-labor states, and the gravy train will end! So they threaten to leave the Union, which would have the effect of severing western farming and industrial interests from shipping down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to port in New Orleans. The South forces the Missouri Compromise. And for nearly 40 years there’s this tenuous situation between slave and non-slave states until, finally, when Kansas applies for admission as a free state, the writing is on the wall that slavery won’t last, and the slave-owners decide that they might as well secede now.

    That is what you’d call legalized extortion. Extortion is theft. QED…

  82. 82

    @Caz:

    It has nothing to do with soshulism. It has to do with the type of extortion I described just above, except now instead of slave-holders threatening to kill the nation if we don’t just give them everything they want, it’s modern corporate giants.

    So please die in a fire.

  83. 83

    @Caz:

    It has nothing to do with Marx. It has to do with the type of extortion I described just above, except now instead of slave-holders threatening to kill the nation if we don’t just give them everything they want, it’s modern corporate giants.

    So please die in a fire, you myopic twit.

    ps- Goddam spam filter…

  84. 84
    Emerald says:

    @Caz: I agree completely that wealth is being redistributed in this country. It’s all going to the top. Literally all of it.

    Notice, too, that those socialist democracies in Europe have had a higher standard of living than the U.S. for decades now, along with longer life expectancies and greater social mobility.

    Yeah, I’ll take a little of that socialism too. Fortunately we have some of it for our elderly population, or our life expectancies would be even lower.

  85. 85
    rea says:

    The Grand Army of the Republic was a post-Civil War union veterans organization

  86. 86
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    I refuse to waste my time engaging idiots like Caz. It’s like stopping to smell dog shit; there’s no need to do it because you can clearly see that it’s nothing more than dog shit.

  87. 87

    I love this from Moops:

    This is not a troll. I do want answers to my points, but I’m thinking nobody here has any.

    I do not know who you are, sir, but you seem to be an idiot. (And your lovely wife Caz is certainly a pert and perky enabler.)

    Please don’t breed.

    @Dennis G.: Bravo, sir. Brilliant and concise post.

  88. 88
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Cheap labor is theft. The cheapest labor available is slavery. You need only put some rags on your slaves, give them enough food to make them strong enough for the fields, and then get the preacher to learn them Jesus so they actually thank you for letting them die on the cross for your profits.

    The Confederate Party then fought to protect the theft of cheap labor via slavery. The Confederate Party now seeks to cheapen labor by any means they can get away with.

    Having me pay into Medicare and Social Security and then shoving me off into the tender ministrations of the “free market” when I retire is a way of cheapening my labor. It is theft. When the government does this, it’s participating in the theft.

    moop: You will likely find a more congenial audience if you simply state your point rather than Socrates it out of us.

  89. 89
    Wolfdaughter says:

    @moops:

    so….. Does that argument change a Randian libertarian’s heart ?

    You’re assuming facts not in evidence. IOW, that randians have a heart.

  90. 90
    Wolfdaughter says:

    @Roger Moore:

    So what does a worker do to “earn” a million/year? Much less billions, as do some of the top execs? Whose companies then go belly up? How did the execs “earn” that money?

    What sorts of work are essential to the function of society? And how should they be compensated?

    For instance, I submit that the garbage collector is performing far more valuable work to society than the derivatives trader. Are both being fairly compensated for what they bring to society?

    Seriously, how does a worker “earn” a million/year?

  91. 91
    t says:

    Union states still have their tax dollars redistributed to the old confederacy. Kleptocracy lives.

  92. 92
    ksmiami says:

    They are not thieves actually, they are murderers and traitors to our nation. Period. That is who the Republicans are at this point and I tell them that at every opportunity

  93. 93
    Dennis G. says:

    @moops:
    The word “theft” seems to hang you up. My apologies for that, but it is an accurate word to use here.

    All things have a real cost. When you increase your profits by ‘cost shifting’ those real costs to others who have their labor stolen or are forced to pay for your damage that is a form of theft.

    It does not matter if it is labor abuse like relying on children picking cocoa beans to shift the cost of that commodity onto the backs of those kids or shifting the cost of environmental damage from hydrofracking to local communities and property owners. It is theft, but folks prefer to use other words to describe it. So it goes.

    Policies to protect this kind of theft is a form of theft as well. And virtually everything advocated by the modern Republican Party and Conservative movement is dedicated to protecting folks who have built their business models on the theft of labor and social and/or environmental destruction.

  94. 94
  95. 95
    Roger Moore says:

    @Wolfdaughter:
    When I’m talking about people earning millions of dollars a year, I’m thinking mostly of high productivity entertainers (e.g. actors, authors, athletes) where you have some hope of figuring out just how much that individual is adding to his or her organization. I’m inclined to think, for example, that top athletes genuinely are worth millions or even tens of millions of dollars to their teams because of the fans they attract.

    That’s not to say that we’re necessarily correct in how we attribute all of the new income. Yes, hiring a star player may help a team by attracting new fans, but he doesn’t necessarily deserve 100% of the credit. The team can’t make money off those fans without all the unglamorous day-to-day employees like ticket takers, parking lot attendants, vendors, etc. We’re probably making a basic attribution mistake by not paying those people better wages to start with and bonuses when the team does especially well.

    I’m sure that kind of attribution mistake is why CEOs claim to be so valuable to their companies. They’re basically claiming that all of the difference in performance of their company when they take over is because of their efforts. In reality, most of the change comes from the things people lower on the ladder are doing. It’s part and parcel of the same basic Confederate thinking: the people at the top take everything and give just enough back to the people at the bottom to keep them from quitting.

  96. 96
    Juicetard (FKA Liberty60) says:

    @Caz:

    Ruh-roh

    You caught us.

    We do hate America.

    Jigs up, comrades!

  97. 97
    WereBear says:

    Kudos to Dennis G. for placing his finger firmly upon a mindset that continues to wreak havoc.

    They don’t believe in building the US anymore. They just want to vacuum all the money out of it, and leave.

  98. 98
    Brachiator says:

    One of the Confederacy’s biggest gripes against Lincoln was that Old Abe wanted to invest Federal money in Education, railroads, ports, and other physical improvements. Worst from their POV was that Lincoln also wanted to invest in people and protect the rights of workers. Lincoln’s desire to limit the amount of wealth the elites could steal was why the South started the war.

    This is simple minded, tiresome bullshit. Lincoln as a New Deal Democrat? Lincoln wanting to invest in railroads? The history I remember, the railroad tycoons were bribing officials, making secret deals, screwing over communities to get rights of way, and screwing the feds out of money in the process.

    What’s next, Andrew Carnegie as a Secret Marxist?

    The Confederacy was a blot on the moral conscience of the nation, but this fixation on assigning every bad economic, political and ideological policy solely to the Confederates is a sad abuse of history.

    Meanwhile, back in reality, the Smithsonian Magazine site is one of a number of on the web noting the beginning of the Civil War in April, 1861, Fort Sumter: The Civil War Begins.

  99. 99
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brachiator:
    You remember history wrong. Lincoln and the Republicans wanted to build up a lot of infrastructure- physical and human- but had been stymied by Southern obstructionism. Secession cleared the obstructions out of the way, so the Republican dominated wartime Congresses were able to pass a whole host of previously backlogged legislation. The most notable legislation was for the Transcontinental Railroad, the Homestead Act, and Land Grant Colleges. They also set up funding for free primary education. Basically all of that was paid for by giving away, to the railroads, states, or private individuals, large amounts of land that the government had bought for pennies on the acre.

    It’s actually one of the most remarkable aspects of the Civil War. Far from being bogged down by the need to run the war, the Civil War Congresses were some of the busiest in our history in terms of passing substantial legislation. That’s what happens when you clear out the people who have been blocking things for decades and give the activists a clear field.

  100. 100
    Dave E. says:

    Speaking of clearing out people, you might want to get the Native American take on the Homestead Act of 1862.

  101. 101
    Roger Moore says:

    @Dave E.:
    The whole Republican project- hell, most of American history- was carried out against the interests of Native Americans. I might be willing to give the Southern obstructionists some credit for protecting Native Americans if the rest of their history gave any indication that they gave a damn about anyone who wasn’t a member of the planter aristocracy.

  102. 102
  103. 103

    @Dave E.:

    Well, if you want to make that indictment, you’ve got to indict sedentary agricultural practices and the cultures that evolved because of those practices, all the way back to Catal Huyuk and Jericho about 10.000 years ago. That’s how long Cain, the farmer, has been stealing land from Abel the pastoralist/hunter-gatherer.

  104. 104
    samsa says:

    We are already there.

    Lately, I have been exploring various options for my retirement income, and the only serious option that I have is to give all my lifetime savings to some financial services company which sells me an annuity, and just hope that they keep on paying me till I die. Of course they will keep my money that happens.

    So much for ‘privatization’ of pensions. Republicans want us all to be slaves of the industry till the day we die.

  105. 105

    […] there is a superb post today by Doug G at Balloon Juice, which I commend to your attention. It’s a lot shorter than this, but approaches this from a […]

  106. 106
    mclaren says:

    Actually, the two main ways of getting rich in America are to inherit wealth or to steal it.

    There is no third way.

  107. 107

    […] Over on Balloon Juice, Dennis G. has an excellent post about Paul Ryan’s new very serious budget plan. His plan is to cut services to poor and working class Americans in order to finance massive government handouts to millionaires. It’s all about stealing from the poor and giving to the rich in a perverted Reverse-Robin Hood scenario. But he makes the case that this is nothing new. The Confederate economy was all about a group of wealthy and elite white men stealing the labor and resources of the vast majority of the poor and disenfranchised. The GOP has mutated into a New Confederacy Party. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan is simply the latest call of the GOP huckster trying to sell the American people snake oil. Like the snake oil of yore, this budget plan will do nothing to fix the ills of the current recession, but will separate the buyers from their hard earned money. It’s a path that will lead to the lost golden age, when the wealthy elites controlled every aspect of the economy by stealing from the vast majority of the working poor. For decades the GOP had been trying to turn America back to the time before the Civil Rights Movement, but now they’re upping the ante and trying to take the country back to the time before the Civil War. […]

  108. 108

    […] Balloon Juice » Making money the Confederate way… which is why I lean toward the shutdown. people are living in a fucking dreamworld. let them see what happens when the government actually shuts down. then stop being the kind of assholes that turn out for teabagger rallies, mmmmkay. ….. Spending money on cruise missiles is theft. Buying off Central American dictators is theft. Removing a line item in the budget for forest restoration is theft. Every round of budget negotiation is a litany of thievery. … […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Balloon Juice » Making money the Confederate way… which is why I lean toward the shutdown. people are living in a fucking dreamworld. let them see what happens when the government actually shuts down. then stop being the kind of assholes that turn out for teabagger rallies, mmmmkay. ….. Spending money on cruise missiles is theft. Buying off Central American dictators is theft. Removing a line item in the budget for forest restoration is theft. Every round of budget negotiation is a litany of thievery. … […]

  2. […] Over on Balloon Juice, Dennis G. has an excellent post about Paul Ryan’s new very serious budget plan. His plan is to cut services to poor and working class Americans in order to finance massive government handouts to millionaires. It’s all about stealing from the poor and giving to the rich in a perverted Reverse-Robin Hood scenario. But he makes the case that this is nothing new. The Confederate economy was all about a group of wealthy and elite white men stealing the labor and resources of the vast majority of the poor and disenfranchised. The GOP has mutated into a New Confederacy Party. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan is simply the latest call of the GOP huckster trying to sell the American people snake oil. Like the snake oil of yore, this budget plan will do nothing to fix the ills of the current recession, but will separate the buyers from their hard earned money. It’s a path that will lead to the lost golden age, when the wealthy elites controlled every aspect of the economy by stealing from the vast majority of the working poor. For decades the GOP had been trying to turn America back to the time before the Civil Rights Movement, but now they’re upping the ante and trying to take the country back to the time before the Civil War. […]

  3. […] there is a superb post today by Doug G at Balloon Juice, which I commend to your attention. It’s a lot shorter than this, but approaches this from a […]

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