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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Green Says 100% Tax Rate Is Too High

Preston, I do NOT "believe that liberty and justice trump overall well-being", and I explicitly said otherwise: "I maintain that the design I favor actually saves more lives than yours does in the long run."  What you still don't seem to understand is that the best possible reform for improving "overall well-being" now is to go back in time and start (the West's approximation of) free-market industrial capitalism fifty years earlier.  There is absolutely no amount of feel-good confiscation+redistribution you could propose that would improve "overall well-being" nearly as much.  If you believe that people being unable to afford health insurance right now is "killing people", then you need to understand that retarding market-driven economic growth is killing even more people.  One kind of death is easier to point out to bipedal omnivorous tool-using primates, because evolution hasn't equipped us to think in counterfactuals very well.  But make no mistake: your proposals involve counterfactuals just as much as mine do.

I don't accept that a you've adequately answered my question "How much of other people’s money are you willing to spend to save one more life?"  All you said was "blah blah blah x < 100% blah blah blah".  The Single Payer law you ask for would have actual numbers in it, not just "x < 100%".  So are you OK with 99%?  75%?  50%?  Again: tell me what your limit is, and how you justify it.  And remember: my X is not 0%, because I favor nature's safety net (a citizen's dividend financed by a land-value tax).  So if there is even one life that you wouldn't save by raising the tax rate to 100%, then you are guilty of the same charge you level against me, and the difference is only in degree.

Your answer about savings Africans just shows that you are no more immune from facile charges of wishful policy-making than I am. It was your side that here played the card of "you see nothing wrong with a system that kills more of your fellow Xs every year".  If you're willing to let more African children die every year so that middle-class Americans can get "free" health care, then how is that any less monstrous than what I allegedly am proposing to allow happen?

You claim: "to say something like single-payer health care is wrong in principle is to really tie your hands as to what you can do to help people."  No, it simply ties your hands as to what you can do to help people with the stolen money of other people.  Your expanding-Medicare proposal is especially perverse, because Medicare is straightforward intergenerational larceny, and many of its beneficiaries are far wealthier than the working poor whose payroll taxes finance Medicare.  Unless you're willing to means-test every social program you propose, you can't even claim the dubious moral status of being a Robin Hood.

You, Preston, are still free to "help people" as much as you want. And if you claim that I'm not trying to "help people", then you simply haven't grappled with my proposal. None of you Medicare advocates here have said a word about why it's not better than yours.

I'm not "shifting back and forth" between principle and utility; I'm just saying that both are on my side.

As it happens, I just addressed the topic of gun rights this morning.