Comments About 1/6

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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby ET » Thu Feb 04, 2021 2:03 pm

Dave, our grandchild is a girl, also. She's something else! She is truly a blessing from the Lord. Our oldest daughter deals with fibromyalgia and some related health issues and was told about a year before our granddaughter was born that she might not be able to have children. Wasn't much more than 6 months or so after that she found out she was pregnant.


Now, Keith, surely that political question asked in jest? :D I doubt you would find I have changed much in my views on economics. I supported the judicial appointments and the regulatory reduction and the tax reform. I opposed the trade wars and view tariffs as nothing but taxes on the consumer. I don't think the Lord really cares where a building full of American bureaucrats are housed in Israel. Many, if not most, of Trump/Republican claims about the greatness of the economy during the time were overblown or false or lacked context. Yes, it was strong, but not at the level of greatness so often implied. Claims such as "lowest unemployment ever" were bogus, for instance. There are five other years since 1950 with lower unemployment.

However, I was essentially a "Never Trumper" evangelical for the last four years because I was never able to get over the "ends justifies the means" premise that seemed to me to be a requirement for voting for him - especially as one who lived for 30 years prior in a subculture that used to spout all that "character counts" stuff. Granted, taking such a position wasn't risking anything because whether Trump would win TN was never in doubt in 2016 or 2020.

I've become a big fan of David French as he does such a good job of approaching politics with a Christian lens. I regularly shared his columns over the last couple of years as a way of arguing why unwavering, uncritical support for Trump was - or should be - morally problematic for evangelicals. The inability of my evangelical friends to honesty assess the character and leadership failures of Trump because he gave them a lot of goodies was the most frustrating thing about it all. So many went from "holding our noses"/"lesser of two evils"/"we're voting for a president, not a pastor"/"we know what he is" to deeply imbibing Trumpian Kool-aid and treating him as a fount of political truth who could all but do no wrong. I make that assessment based on review of my FB feed and numerous articles regarding evangelicals and Trump, not because of any lengthy conversations with folks at church, so my sampling may lead to skewed perception, but I think my assessment is still correct.

Ironically, my biggest moderation has come in the area of immigration, and it comes largely, but not completely, due to someone you wish your alma mater would disown - Thomas Sowell. In my time away from here I read his trilogy "Migrations and Cultures", "Race and Culture" and "Conquests and Cultures". The anti-immigrant rhetoric and attitudes prevalent in American society today differ little from the attitudes about immigrants in societies the world over and in times past. Like so many of Trump's arguments, there was little evidence to back it up. I support immigration reform and permanent status for DACA folks. I would probably make it a little more difficult than what Dems will want to do, but I've never been part of the "build the wall" crowd.

What Sowell's book did is give insight why the Bible has so much to say about how we should treat the foreigner among us. Much of the book on "Migration and Cultures" shows that immigrants are often targeted for discrimination whether they are immigrants to the U.S., Brazil, Malaysia, Europe, Africa or anywhere else. The rhetoric against them is so often the same regardless of the country. Along with some other occurrences, it impacted me enough that pre-pandemic I had started doing some volunteer work with our local chapter of World Relief who do work with immigrants and refugees in my community.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby KeithE » Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:34 pm

ET, I’ll digest your post next weekend - feeling a little sick tonight and have busy day tomorrow (eye appointment, bridge online).

As for me - I’m very aware that I’m aging (eyesight, feebleness, swallowing, golf is terrible) but am pleased with Biden so far. Glad to hear you had the good sense to be a NeverTrumper! Just hope we as a country can end the violence and automatic partisanship (today’s votes show no promise). Read “Mistakes were Made” for a good read about entrenched viewpoints.

My most influential new economic read is “The Deficit Myth” by Stephanie Kelton which advocates Modern Money Theory - go ahead and print/spend more money as long as it is for good purposes and inflation stays stable as it has for 40 years while the national debt rose from <$1T in 1980 to $28T today despite warnings from Friedman to Sowell.

Good night.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby William Thornton » Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:24 am

A pleasure to read a sensible conservative voice here once again, ET.

Since you left, just an occasional post here. An attempt was made to transition into a FB BL page but that was blown up by a few.

Good to hear from you and all the best from me.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby KeithE » Sat Feb 06, 2021 1:45 pm

ET said

Now, Keith, surely that political question asked in jest? :D I doubt you would find I have changed much in my views on economics.


Not in jest at all. Economic viewpoints are constantly changing even in conservative circles. Read This new think tank wants to reform conservatism. Republicans ignore it at their peril. and its sublnks.

ET said:
I supported the judicial appointments and the regulatory reduction and the tax reform.


I have not independently reviewed all the judicial appointments the Senate has made in the last 4 years (practically their sole contribution). My worst fears of a much more conservative rulings has not materialized - in fact Trump is not getting his way from many of these judges he and McConnell advanced. Read Trump has appointed a lot of judges. But they won’t necessarily do what he wants

I disagree with most of Trump’s deregulation moves. The Brookings Institute tracks these here. It is clear they are mostly gifts to industry or photo ops to his base. In typical Trump fashion more than 2/3 of them have not been implemented; Trump has not been into follow-through fortunately. And fortunately some the most harmful to our citizens and to the environment are being rescinded by Biden

I disagree heartily with the massive tax reductions Trump enacted - plenty of spending increases (another example of lack of follow-through). Read Spending Has Increased $800 Billion Under President Trump. That’s a 25% increase in spending ($4.829T in 2020 prior to any Covid relief/stimulus and $3,853T in 2017) with a ~ 14% decrease in revenues from high income individuals and a 46% decrease in tax revenues from big businesses. Trust that you ET are not what in the number who claim Trump has been fiscal responsible while Obama was not (annual budget defends shrunk from $1.5T in FY2009 to a low of $443B in FY 2015).

I also heartily object to the tax cut distribution slanted heavily to the rich.

Image

And no reputable economist still believes trickle down theory works. Read Does Trickle-down Economics Add Up – or Is It a Drop in the Bucket?

One more thing about "tax reform”. True tax reform would be far more involved that changing rates. True “tax reform" would also include simplification, loophole reassessment and new different incentives.

Enough for now. Bridge starts soon. Glad you are back ET and hope you can join the discussion meaningfully. Have you bought a Prius, hybrid or electric car yet?

I will continue to comment on your posts - don't know anything about David French but will read up.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby ET » Sat Feb 06, 2021 10:49 pm

It may be a bit premature to say that I'm back. I'm not sure I plan to wade into a lot of stuff, but a few quick comments. I suppose folks views on economics may evolve or adjust, but I can't say I've spent any significant time pondering economics all that much since I drifted away from here a few years ago. Besides, I don't believe in "trickle down economics" either - because it doesn't exist. You won't find such a term in any legitimate economics textbook. Another thing that hasn't changes is that corporations don't pay taxes, people do. Taxes on corporations are nothing but indirect taxes on Americans. As an employee of a corporation for 35+ years, corporate taxes just mean less money for my pay, less money as an investor or a higher price for those using our services.

Anyway, I really have no intention of getting back into all the extended economics discussions. They take too much time and I'd really rather spend my time dong other stuff.

As for my vehicles, no purchase of a hybrid or electric car. Have picked up a 2012 Highlander to replace a '98 Suburban about four years ago. My beloved '06 Ridgeline met an untimely end about a year ago, but I had an old '98 Camry I could drive - but it's not a truck.

However, I did toy briefly with the idea of a used electric car to use as a commuter vehicle, but that doesn't get me the utility of a truck, so no hybrid or electric car in the future. Just not a viable option for me nor do I believe it's as an environmentally friendly option as the "greenwashing" rhetoric surrounding them promotes. Probably another Ridgeline at some point. I do have some friends in Nashville that acquired a Tesla Model X and I got to drive it and let it drive me. Not a bad vehicle for $85,000 or so, but it's not a truck. I'm not going to throw a deer into the back of a Tesla during hunting season.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Feb 07, 2021 7:28 am

Ed, I appreciate your reflections on economic realities. Just a couple of thoughts--trickle down is as George H. W. Bush described it: "voodoo economics." Human behavior is not selfless enough to make it work. Its failure is, as always, the reflection of our selfish natures in not loving our neighbors.

Also, on electric vehicles. They are very practical for people in large urban areas and help reduce pollution in those areas of dense urban life. For those of us who live in rural and small town areas and who have to travel pretty large distances for many services, they are not practical due to the range. For example, one doctor I see is a 140-mile round trip. To catch a flight from a regional hub airport, RDU, is a 200-mile round trip. To see our son and daughter-in-law is a 400-mile round trip, and charging facilities along the way are not readily available yet. At the same time, I try to buy vehicles with good gas mileage for my needs. Hybrid trucks are beginning to be available, but that will take a while. A natural gas fired power plant is cleaner than a coal-fired plant, but it does not solve everything. In my area, the heir to an oil distributorship is building a 1000-acre solar farm, and that probably reflects where he thinks things are headed for the future as the profitability of petroleum-based fuels will gradually diminish. We are taking baby steps, but it's a long journey to a total rethinking of the fuels for the future. There is a big job out ahead for all of us.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby KeithE » Sun Feb 07, 2021 9:29 am

ET wrote:It may be a bit premature to say that I'm back. I'm not sure I plan to wade into a lot of stuff, but a few quick comments. I suppose folks views on economics may evolve or adjust, but I can't say I've spent any significant time pondering economics all that much since I drifted away from here a few years ago. Besides, I don't believe in "trickle down economics" either - because it doesn't exist. You won't find such a term in any legitimate economics textbook. Another thing that hasn't changes is that corporations don't pay taxes, people do. Taxes on corporations are nothing but indirect taxes on Americans. As an employee of a corporation for 35+ years, corporate taxes just mean less money for my pay, less money as an investor or a higher price for those using our services.

Anyway, I really have no intention of getting back into all the extended economics discussions. They take too much time and I'd really rather spend my time dong other stuff.

As for my vehicles, no purchase of a hybrid or electric car. Have picked up a 2012 Highlander to replace a '98 Suburban about four years ago. My beloved '06 Ridgeline met an untimely end about a year ago, but I had an old '98 Camry I could drive - but it's not a truck.

However, I did toy briefly with the idea of a used electric car to use as a commuter vehicle, but that doesn't get me the utility of a truck, so no hybrid or electric car in the future. Just not a viable option for me nor do I believe it's as an environmentally friendly option as the "greenwashing" rhetoric surrounding them promotes. Probably another Ridgeline at some point. I do have some friends in Nashville that acquired a Tesla Model X and I got to drive it and let it drive me. Not a bad vehicle for $85,000 or so, but it's not a truck. I'm not going to throw a deer into the back of a Tesla during hunting season.


Glad to see you don’t buy trickle down theory. Sowell doesn’t either- here. But do you support the sort of distributions in tax cuts as I showed above? Simple YES/NO or a full fledge defense - your choice.

I betcha a smallish deer would fit in my Prius V hatchback; there is 5’10” available length with rear seats down. I’m getting 45 mpg. Savings have been ~ $7000 over 12 mpg gas guzzlers over its lifetime of 60,000 odometer miles. But to each his own.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby KeithE » Sun Feb 07, 2021 11:04 am

Dave Roberts wrote:Ed, I appreciate your reflections on economic realities. Just a couple of thoughts--trickle down is as George H. W. Bush described it: "voodoo economics." Human behavior is not selfless enough to make it work. Its failure is, as always, the reflection of our selfish natures in not loving our neighbors.

Also, on electric vehicles. They are very practical for people in large urban areas and help reduce pollution in those areas of dense urban life. For those of us who live in rural and small town areas and who have to travel pretty large distances for many services, they are not practical due to the range. For example, one doctor I see is a 140-mile round trip. To catch a flight from a regional hub airport, RDU, is a 200-mile round trip. To see our son and daughter-in-law is a 400-mile round trip, and charging facilities along the way are not readily available yet. At the same time, I try to buy vehicles with good gas mileage for my needs. Hybrid trucks are beginning to be available, but that will take a while. A natural gas fired power plant is cleaner than a coal-fired plant, but it does not solve everything. In my area, the heir to an oil distributorship is building a 1000-acre solar farm, and that probably reflects where he thinks things are headed for the future as the profitability of petroleum-based fuels will gradually diminish. We are taking baby steps, but it's a long journey to a total rethinking of the fuels for the future. There is a big job out ahead for all of us.


My wife has a plug-in electric car (Ford Fusion Inergi) with a Hybrid backup. The fully electric charge provides for 28 mile per charge (advertised), more like 24 miles per charge in the winter. She usually travels less than the 28/24 miles in a day (mostly around town) but occasionally get further (like to our son's who lives about 20 miles away or shopping sprees). The hybrid backup gets 34 mpg so that's fairly economical as well. Overall she has averaged 180 mpg. It’s been a good solution for her. So rural dwellers (or those who drive many miles) should not avoid plug-ins. Norway is doing this to the point that 74.7% of new car buys in 2020 are plug-in electric. Plug-in cars in Norway, Grant it that Norway has a higher per capita income than the US does, ironically through the oil business.

Image

As for public utility energy, wind and solar is already cheaper than coal or natural gas Lazaar Annual Analysis.

As for all-electric cars, considerable challenge exist in charge capacity, and deploying long-range, quick-charging electric charging stations across the nation.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby ET » Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:58 pm

Dave, reductions in the corporate tax rates makes/made the U.S. more competitive with the rest of the world. That's a win for U.S. companies. I'm not going to get into other aspects of the past tax changes just because I don't want to spend the time on it.

As for the 'lectric cars, you're right. They may be practical for some folks, but not going to be my choice of distance driving. At least initial fears of battery life in the early years of driving don't seem to have played out. It was REALLY cool to drive that Tesla and if they ever come out with something along the lines of a Highlander or CRV or other mid-size SUV I might consider it.

Keith, you have to pay taxes to get a tax cut. When the bottom 50% of taxpayers pay less then 4% of federal income tax, then how in the world is it even mathematically possible to give those folks a tax break of ANY significance without them ending up with a negative tax rate?

Your graphs is convenient for your argument because it tries to imply some injustice. We could endlessly debate the best tax rates, but almost half of Americans basically pay nothing to fund the federal government, so you can always count of Paul's vote when you rob Peter to pay Paul.

I think you should post an accompanying graph that shows the percentage of income tax each of those groups pay. Or, create your own from the data in Excel spreadsheets at irs.gov. Show a graph of that distribution and then explain to me how 1% paying 37% of the burden is not paying a "fair share" while about 50% of folks pay nothing and are basically freeloaders on the rest of us. (I use that "freeloaders" with a bit of tongue-in-cheek.)
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby ET » Sun Feb 07, 2021 7:01 pm

What I originally intended to post before drifting off into the econ discussion....

I don't know if I'll be motivated to dig into broad economic books anytime soon. The book you reference is of some interest to me. Yes, I've heard from my side that all this deficit spending should lead to inflation and that hasn't been the case as of yet, but there is no free lunch. At some point it will impact our economy, but just maybe not in the way the "traditional" conservative economic position has argued.

I can understand the problems with trying to get a FB page going. I'm sure you know how it goes. You try to get a thoughtful discussion going that doesn't conform to one side or the other's rhetoric and folks drop in, read the headline, make a comment based on the headline, totally miss the point, misunderstand the premise, scream that you're either a RINO, "SOCIALIST!", communist, fascist or something along those lines and you drop out because of frustration that folks seem more interested in tossing their rhetorical grenades than engaging in anything that might challenge their policy positions. Few seem to want or are willing to engage in substantive discussion.

Probably the best summary of the last four years for me is wrapped up in these two quotes:

"You can be critical of the Democratic Party and believe, as I do, that it is becoming increasingly radicalized while also believing this: The Republican Party under Donald Trump is a party built largely on lies, and it is now maintained by politicians and supporters who are willing to “live within the lie,” to quote the great Czech dissident (and later president) Václav Havel." - Peter Wehner, Nov 2019

"Here’s the end result—millions of Christians have not just decided to hire a hater to defend them from haters and to hire a liar to defend them from liars, they actively ignore, rationalize, minimize, or deny Trump’s sins. They do this in part because they can’t bring themselves to face the truth about Trump and in part because they know it is difficult to build and sustain a political movement if you’re constantly (or even frequently) criticizing the misconduct of its leader. To criticize Trump even a quarter of the time he does something wrong would be to unleash a constant drumbeat of criticism against the man they hope to re-elect.

It’s at this point that many Christian Trump supporters will deploy the, err, trump card—the statement that’s supposed to settle the argument. What about the babies? If push comes to shove, they tell themselves, I’m going to support the person who seeks to end the slaughter of unborn children in the womb over the candidates who wants to expand legal protection for abortion and even publicly fund that horrible practice.

...in more than three decades of pro-life work, I’ve understood two things quite clearly—the defense of the unborn does not justify sin, and the battle for the unborn is far more spiritual and cultural than it is legal and political." - David French


For me, it is far less troubling that people I know and love decided to vote for Trump than to watch the aftermath. Even though I disagree with them, I can understand the decision that it was "about the platform". What troubled me the most was their seeming inability to ever honestly critique Trump outside of the lame "oh, they just don't like his personality" or "they just don't like his tweets". Going in many claimed to know about his character flaws but when he so glaringly displayed them, they handled them in the way Wehner and French describe.

And what really blew my mind was to watch some of the people I know jump in with the "stolen election" crowd. Or when the pandemic broke out they seemed more interested in finding a position that avoided any responsibility for Trump's failure of leadership ("it's just the flu", the hydroxy hoaxes, "masks are about control!", etc) than in dealing with the pandemic. Trump seemed to become the oracle of truth even in a pandemic, not actual medical experts. Not that Dems don't have their own alternate reality when it comes to there being two and only two sexes/genders or that their concern for women ends where letting men who think they are women play women's sports begins, but that's another discussion.

Another thing that really troubles me is the inability of white evangelicals to even begin to honestly approach a discussion on race concerns in this country. Yes, some of the BLM stuff (riots and such) and the Marxist influence of CRT/I is concerning, but I have no problem accepting that man's sin nature affects the institutions he inhabits (government) and can cause legitimate issues that impact different populations adversely. However, that doesn't mean I think all cries of "systemic racism!" or "social justice!" are legitimate or that CRT/I isn't often presented in a form that makes it a load of BS. I just think an honest conversation needs to be done instead of white evangelicals heading toward their trenches and lobbing the latest rhetoric they've been given by Rush or Sean or OAN/Newsmax. (Apparently Fox is no longer a reputable source for news for many of these folks.)

So basically that's some of my general feelings/thoughts about what's gone on in the political world over the last four or five years.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:53 am

Grenade lobbing is always counterproductive. I would love to enter a discussion of racism, because I see myself as one who will always be a recovering racist given that I grew up in the South and was in the first generation of school desegregation, something we as a society and those of us who were students at the time all handled very poorly. I believe in extending a "hand up" but not just a "handout." Would like to discuss longer, but I have a tree trimming company on the way to my house.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby ET » Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:17 am

Dave Roberts wrote:Grenade lobbing is always counterproductive. I would love to enter a discussion of racism, because I see myself as one who will always be a recovering racist given that I grew up in the South and was in the first generation of school desegregation, something we as a society and those of us who were students at the time all handled very poorly. I believe in extending a "hand up" but not just a "handout." Would like to discuss longer, but I have a tree trimming company on the way to my house.

Just quick note before I jump into the work day, Dave. I would enjoy such a discussion if we have the time. I have a bit of a back story on this topic that ties a friendship I had at church with a black guy back in my late high school and college years to recent events and the fuss in the SBC over CRT/I. I grew up a bit later than you, so forced segregation was in the past when I got to middle and high school in the mid-to-late '70s, but there were still plenty of lingering effects.

My primary interest in economics is driven by the "love thy neighbor" aspect of implementing good economic policy as a way for that "hand up" to take place. I generally believe conservative economic policy is the better method, but of course others will argue differently.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:10 am

William Thornton wrote:A pleasure to read a sensible conservative voice here once again, ET.

Since you left, just an occasional post here. An attempt was made to transition into a FB BL page but that was blown up by a few.

Good to hear from you and all the best from me.


The FB group needs an arrangement of moderators similar to here, and some ground rules for posting. There is a chance for a group to grow on FB and not much of a chance here, sorry to say. Few people will bother with these old PHPBBS setups anymore.
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Re: Comments About 1/6

Postby KeithE » Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:44 pm

Dave Roberts wrote: I believe in extending a "hand up" but not just a "handout."


Handouts to those who are unable to help themselves (physically or mentally unable to take a job); a helping hand In the form of a job to those that can. I would recommend the current Biden plan:

1) Pass a somewhat scaled back Covid-19 relief package (somewhat less than $1.9T) with at least:
a) “Targeted" one-time ~$1400 Covid relief for those <$50,000/yr (more for families) to make up for current crisis (the handout)
b) Extended unemployment benefits until end of ~ August
c) $$ to make school safe (e.g ventilation)
d) food for food banks
e) continued protection for eviction with payment to landlords/mortgage lenders
f) other items in package as negotiated

2) But we also badly need a large infrastructure program (say ~$2T over 3 more Biden years after 10 months of Covid recovery) creating >1M jobs with OTJ training and at least livable wages according to area (the helping hand). Just like military contracting, this would be run by the government but most work done by contractors - all sorts of skills needed (envisioning, design, construction, accounting, inspection, critical assessment, sales). There would be much entrepreneurial opportunity and personal dignity in these new and needed jobs as well as earnings. Biden understands this.
Biden prepares to move to next phase of his agenda with infrastructure push

Program costs are high for sure but as long as it is not overly inflationary (<2% /yr), it is just what we need soon.

Do I have an Amen?
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