June 29, 2009

Affordable housing in South San Francisco

240 JUNIPER Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080 | MLS# 80834807
240 JUNIPER Ave South San Francisco, CA 94080
Price: $350,000

240a
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 740
$/Sq. Ft.: $473
Lot Size: 3,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1906
Community: Old South SF/Rocca
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 80834807
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 269 days
LOOKING FOR A BARGAING? Fantastic Opportunity For anyone including contractors. Lots of Potential in this 2Bed/1Bath and 1detach car garage Home, plus 2Bed/1Bath in-law in basement with separate entrance(not warranted). New pluming and electricity. Good commuter location. Needs some work. Don’t Miss This One. Here’s Your Chance!

This house may need some work. Like making it visible! Actually this house was built originally as part of the government’s continuity plan. You see, by making it hard to find, terrorists can’t get to it. They just never got around to adding concertina wire to the fences on either side – but you can do that. Cool huh? If you like privacy, this house is for you!

And now it can be yours. It’s a BARGAING! And at $473 per square foot, definitely super affordable.

There. Now the Bay Area (unreal) is affordable. Problem solved.

Comments (120) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:26 am

120 Responses to “Affordable housing in South San Francisco”

  1. Herve Estater Says:

    First time I notice that on Redfin:

    This home is flagged as a short sale. We’re sorry, we don’t tour or write offers on short sales because of the slim chance that you’ll get the home.

  2. anon Says:

    Real estater, you see the caption?

    Hurry. This is your chance to have that investment property you always wanted. If South Frisco isn’t RBA, I don’t know what is.

  3. jbunniii Says:

    What a weird sale history:

    June 23, 2004: $160k
    April 23, 2004: $480k
    June 20, 1989: $135k

    What was special about April vs. June 2004?

  4. nomadic Says:

    June 2004 wasn’t an actual sale. I’m not sure what it means but the owner stayed the same. But surprise! It was refi’d for $531k in 2006.

  5. nomadic Says:

    Looks like Porsche is in trouble with its debt load.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aUfkV4Slo908

    Now why would the most profitable car company on the planet need such a huge credit line? Oh yeah, must have been that “buy now or be priced out forever” idea of taking a huge stake in VW. Reminds me of the realtards buying up properties to flip who were caught short when the market turned.

  6. BuyersAreIdiots Says:

    Good article on the rising income gap for California:

    http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2009/0906_pp_IncomeGaps.pdf

    Basically demonstrates that what this state is essentially becoming is a third world hierarchy. A very small uber rich upper class and then a working middle class mixed in with the lower poor classes but with minimal distinction between them. High prices and high taxes basically whittle away at the middle class’ ability to thrive, turning them into house poor families.

  7. UnrealAlex Says:

    Does it come with fighting chickens?

  8. A. Lewis Says:

    #6 – that is a great article. And pretty sad. It’s a good illustration of how the rich in CA have gotten very entrenched, and successfully pursued strategies that increased their wealth disproportionately. So while the pie was getting bigger – they grabbed far more than their share.

    It’s not a sustainable path. At this trajectory, we’d have 70% of the population below the poverty line in a few decades. Then 90%. That doesn’t sound like a fun society, even for the few remaining rich people, who will have to defend themselves with a private army in a compound, and somehow keep the 90% working at super low wages, and spending most of their income on the rich’s products…

    I don’t advocate turning us into a giant commune, but it would be nice if during a period of economic expansion, all 5 fifths of the income quintiles saw improvement in quality of life…not just 1 quintile.

  9. BuyersAreIdiots Says:

    A Lewis.

    Agreed.

    Much of this disparity is all the protectionist measures the previous generation put in place for their own benefit. In California, it started in the 70s with Prop 13 and the copious NIMBY measures that were created. In Saratoga, near where I live, for a period of time, they had a law on the books that lot sizes had to be a certain minimum in size. Which basically allocated a larger amount of land per unit of housing which invariably served best those who happened to be there at the time.

    And of course, the late 70s and early 80s was when we began this giant outsourcing trend and debt binge. All our manufacturing was shipped overseas to accommodate lower prices for those who, despite their affluence, wanted to keep inflation for key items at bay whilst simultaneously inflating their own net worth. The most telling evidence of this was the income inequality between those at the top versus the average wage earner. In the 60s and early 70s, that ratio between a high wage earner in a company (like a CEO) versus a regular employee was something like 50:1. At the height of the dot com idiocy, that ratio ballooned to something like 500:1. Which is extremely ludacris.

    What is intersting (and scary) is that this exact thing happened once before in our country. And that was during the roaring 20s right before the Great Depression. We put checks and balances in place after that to ensure that it didn’t occur again, but by the 80s, the government and both political parties began to whittle away and those laws until we finally reached armageddon. And here we are.

    As much as I feel saddened for my generation (gen X), its those that come after me that I feel MUCH worse for. They will be saddled with a burden that is astronomical. Coupled with high education costs and a tightening job market will make their future much bleaker than their predecessors.

    All this mess for a bunch of moronic baby boomers can have their McMansion and cheap crap from China. I will always be in debt to the ‘Greatest Generation’ that sacrificed so much during the Great Depression and WWII. But where I have to fault them is the philosophy of excess and greed that they instilled in their kids.

  10. nomadic Says:

    BAI, good post.

    Are you a fan of rap music? (ludacris v. ludicrous)

    :-)

  11. zanon Says:

    Has anyone here actually lived in a 3rd world country? 10% rich, protecting themselves in an armed compound, from 90% poor is actually not a bad way to live for the rich.

  12. BuyersAreIdiots Says:

    Are you a fan of rap music? (ludacris v. ludicrous)

    LOL.

    I hadn’t even noticed that. :P

    Then again, it gives me a good line to use against Excreter or his kind:

    “Get back motherf&*ker you don’t know me like that!”

    :-D

  13. A. Lewis Says:

    #11. No, have you? Are you kidding? The only way to do it, sustainabily, is to successfully run a brutal regime unafraid to kill to maintain the status quo, and maintain a terror level so high among the 90% that they do not in fact ever rise up and kill you in your bed at night.

    If you can sleep at night after killing innocents, than yes, it’s a ‘good’ way to go.

    I’m just saying – let’s not have it come to that. Or even close to that, OK?

    I also, for one, give a damn about the other 90%, if even I’m in the top 10% now. I would like for all 100% to have safety and security in their homes and persons, a good education for themselves and their children, meaningful work, clean air and water, and safe and nutritious food to eat. Not mention a functioning judicial system to give them justice.

    It’s called basic human rights, and we’re well on the way to denying very many of them to a majority of California citizens.

  14. A. Lewis Says:

    I also like to think that if you deliver on my little list of things you get some big benefits – lower crime, lower healthcare costs, more productive citizens, stability in your tax base, and happier people.

    And educated folks elect better politicians, too, who actually serve the people’s interests.

    It’s a fantasy, I know…

  15. zanon Says:

    A. Lewis: I have, actually. And it does not require a massive terror level. Mostly, the poor people just go about their business, trying to scratch out a living, and doing their best to avoid a Government that takes money from them through licenses, kick-backs, and bribes. Sound familiar?

    “If you can sleep at night after killing innocents, than yes, it’s a ‘good’ way to go.” Oh please. Plenty of innocents get killed every day. DC? EPA? South side of Chicago? Homicide rates are not necessarily high in the third world. In some parts, they are very low thanks to brutal police action. Police do not need to act often, but when they do, it really is brutal. For most poor people, this would be preferable from living in, say, a Baltimore ghetto. You have a lower chance of being murdered.

    “I also, for one, give a damn about the other 90%, if even I’m in the top 10% now. I would like for all 100% to have safety and security in their homes and persons, a good education for themselves and their children, meaningful work, clean air and water, and safe and nutritious food to eat. Not mention a functioning judicial system to give them justice.” And a puppy!

  16. zanon Says:

    A. Lewis 14: Look at SF. HUGE effort trying to deliver “basic human rights”. Result is crime, unemployment, public defecation, and exactly the stratified society you deplore. Plus a brain-washing environment unseen since Communist Russia. No uprisings, though.

    I’d rather be a poor person in the third world than a poor person in SF.

  17. Real Estater Says:

    madhaus,

    What’s up with the inventory in Cherry Chase and in your neighborhood? Is everybody upgrading to the Trinity Park?

  18. madEstater Says:

    I’d be happy to answer your questions, RE, when you provide some data that isn’t either meaningless or useless. In the absence of same, feel free to direct your concerns to my secretary, Herve, or his cousin HerveEstater.

  19. nomadic Says:

    Can’t be a lack of demand! The bottom was 5 months ago!

  20. A. Lewis Says:

    #15/16, OK, I think we’re way far apart on this one. I think we see it differently. Care to flesh out what you mean by the brainwashing going on in SF?

    Also, you say I’d rather be a poor person in the third world than a poor person in SF..

    Were you a poor person in the 3rd world country you lived in? Or a rich person? If you were poor in the 3rd world country, I’d give a lot more credence to this assertion that you’d prefer it there.

    I disagree, I’d rather be a poor person in the U.S., or a 1st-world European country with a social safety net.

    Apparently you think it’s better for both rich and poor in the 3rd world. Doesn’t this suggest that logically, you’d be happier there?

    I think there’s plenty to like about the U.S. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to try to improve it.

  21. Pralay Says:

    Can’t be a lack of demand! The bottom was 5 months ago!
    ———

    And that neighborhood has “fully recovered” anyway.

  22. zanon Says:

    A. Lewis: The point I’m making is simply this. In the US, the notion of equality is an important one — it’s right there in the declaration of independence “all mean are created equal” etc. etc.

    This is *not* the case outside the US, in countries that do not share the Progressive/Christian (Protestant) tradition. India has the caste system, Islam has very clear delineation between people of different faiths, and men and women, China has a Confucian tradition (plus communism — weird that) etc. etc. Even old European traditions don’t have this notion of equality, although very little of that culture remains.

    If you live in a place that does not fundamentally believe that “all men are created equal” then you can have a society with very high levels of inequality and you don’t need brutality to keep it that way. It’s just accepted as normal. In the US the notion is that “huddled masses are yearning to break free” when in fact, the huddled masses are not huddled at all, they’re just trying to stay out of trouble and get food on the table. They don’t want to change the world, they just want to be left in peace and live their lives.

    The reason that I would prefer to be a poor person in a third world country is because there, I would 1) have a wife, 2) have kids, 3) have kids be from my wife, 4) probably not be on drugs, 5) probably not be murdered, 6) have a job, or several jobs, none of which would be good, but they would be jobs, 7) live in a neighborhood where my neighbors were similar to me. My greatest wish would be better law enforcement.

    Poor people in the third world are pretty normal. Poor people in rich countries are just really different. I recommend Theodore Dalrymple’s “Life at the Bottom” about the poor in the UK. He works in a hospital, and his experiences there match my wife’s exactly.

    As for the brain-washing in SF, are you being serious? It’s described as 50 square miles surrounded on three sides by reality for a reason.

  23. DreamT Says:

    “This is *not* the case outside the US”

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rightsof.asp

  24. Pralay Says:

    This is *not* the case outside the US, in countries that do not share the Progressive/Christian (Protestant) tradition.
    ——-

    Can someone explain me the relation between Christian tradition and Declaration of Independence (which is totally secular document written by Jefferson)?

    In addition, if Declaration of Independence declared “all men are created equal” why America had to wait for Emancipation Proclamation in 1862? Or 1893 for woman’s right to vote?

  25. A. Lewis Says:

    #22, well, you make a few interesting points, zanon, and it’s interesting how you bring homogeneity of the population as a big plus for the poor in other countries.

    It’s probably true that the heterogeneity of the US population is one of the greatest challenges to creating laws and policies that are effective. For example, Denmark seems to have an easier time of things in various ways compared to us – one of the reasons cited is b/c they’re all alike in many ways, so they all tend to agree on what they want, what their priorities are, etc.

    However, I’m ready to stand up and say diversity is a good thing, and we should rise to meet the challenge of serving a diverse population, while maintaining equality.

    Where does your argument end up, zanon, about the negatives of diversity? Here we are, in the US, diverse as it is. Do you want to declare some of the people to be lesser peoples, who should leave? That’s abhorrent to me.

    It’s possible I overstated the case about what it takes to keep the poor people in line, but I’m thinking on long time scales. Name me a country you have in mind, and I think I can find a period of bloody revolution, often driven by massive inequality. Maybe not. I’m making big generalities here.

    I think you’re right that the huddled masses aren’t yearning to be free in terms of being all set for world-changing revolution, but they want more than just food on the table. They want my lists of things, which you followed up with ‘and a puppy’. I don’t think my list was too crazy. It wasn’t 3-car garage, full HBO package, a 10-hour workweek, 2 vacations in the Caribbean, and retirement age of 40.

    If you deny them too much on my list, especially as it affects their kids, for too long, they prepare to steal or fight to get it. Then you have to bring in the riot police, and both sides escalate. Old story.

  26. A. Lewis Says:

    Oh, and I AM serious about the SF question. I’m ready to state offhand that SF is a weird place, but what kinds of things did you have in mind when you talked about brainwashing in SF?

    Stereotypes about SF people I can think of offhand: 1) They’re politically liberal 2) they’re environmentalists 3) they’re more likely to be LGBT, and support LGBT rights, 4) they are willing to pay a lot for housing :-).

    So maybe some in SF are ‘brainwashing’ their children with ideals like these? Is that what you had in mind? Or something different like some specific city laws or ballot measures – there’s some wild and crazy ones, to be sure.

    I didn’t go so far as to say you’re wrong, I’m just not sure what you’re specifying…

  27. zanon Says:

    DREAM T: The Declaration of the Rights of Man kicked off the French Revolution, Reign of Terror, Napoleonic wars, etc. It is very much part of the Progressive Tradition, and note, it was against the older, aristocratic tradition which is pretty much obliterated in Europe.

    PRALAY: Founders of the US were English Separatists. They wanted to overthrow the monarchy, and were very much part of the Progressive (“all men are equal”) tradition. Their primary enemy was Catholics, and pro-monarch (“Catholisized”) Protestants, which is why they were thrown out. Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan!

    Anyway, Founding Fathers were Christian, in particular they were Protestant, in particular they were the brand of Protestant who believed in the equality of man. You can trace this back through the French Revolution, back to low-church traditions in Holland, back to Calvin himself.

    To answer the second part of your question, Pralay, everyone else did not believe the same thing! Took them a while to win over the other side, either through politics, debate, or violence. They’ve made great progress.

    But we’re way off topic! My point is simply that the notion that “all men are equal” is not a law of physics, it is a belief, and that every culture does not hold this belief. In cultures that do not hold this belief, you do not need “continual, violent, brutal repression” to maintain civil order in a highly stratified society. They can be perfectly pleasant places to live, just different.

    I would also add that California is not exactly a poster child for the benefits of giving “power to the people”.

  28. zanon Says:

    A. Lewis: When someone says “abhorrent” we’re getting into religious territory, and I am exercising my right not to talk about religion.

    Population diversity doesn’t just “happen”. There are things like immigration policy, sanctuary city policy, etc. that impact it. It is more difficult for a Harvard grad to immigrate to the US than an illiterate Mexican. This is a consequence of policy.

    In my reading of history, bloody revolution is driven by political agitation, not inequality per se. Often the poor, though, are turned into political weapons that one elite group uses to bash another. Comparing 1950s Harlem to 1970s Harlem is instructive here.

    The Egyptian empire lasted 3000 years, and was very unequal. The Mughal Empire lasted 800 years, very unequal. The Qin dynasty lasted about 2000 years, very unequal. The British monarchy is still around, although the old aristocratic tradition them represented began to fall apart after WW1, and was gone by the end of WW2. Still, the British Empire had a good 200 years, and the British Anglo-Saxon aristocracy can trace their lines back about 800 years before that. I will fully admit that I’m reaching back far here. As stable as the old pre-Progressive cultures were, by and large they have lost. I cannot characterize the Progressive era as being particularly peaceful though.

    Your list of things was fine, but none of that requires equality. I am so-so about including “justice” on that list though — if you mean “rule of law” then yes, that’s good. if you mean “social justice” then we part ways.

    As for SF, we’re thinking the same things. SF is extremely Progressive, and you see this Progressivism active in Government, through K-12, into the University systems, and in major media outlets. For a city so pro-Diversity, everyone in it seems surprisingly similar.

  29. Pralay Says:

    My point is simply that the notion that “all men are equal” is not a law of physics, it is a belief, and that every culture does not hold this belief.
    —-

    And what makes you think that other cultures (“outside US” to be literal) do not hold that belief?

    Secondly, I think you are mixing up between social problem and cultural problem.

    Yes, Founding Fathers were Christian. But I am yet to find the relation between Christian tradition and Declaration of Independence. Unless you can show that philosophical views of Jefferson and others were heavily influence by religion. I am yet to find such an example.

  30. Pralay Says:

    They wanted to overthrow the monarchy
    ——

    I disagree. If George Washington wanted to overthrow monarchy, he would be sailing on Atlantic to reach England’s shore.
    Nobody (well not exactly – some wants) wants to live under colonial rule. People who settled in America didn’t want to live under colonial rule either. It was purely an issue of self-governance (therefore political, not religious).

  31. DreamT Says:

    zanon – my post was mainly triggered by your assumption in parenthesis that protestant ethics/tradition were a prerequisite for equality of rights. XVIII century France was primarily catholic, not protestant. Small detail, but from your formulation, US has both leadership and exclusivity on the concept of equal rights, and you should know better.

  32. nomadic Says:

    A. said: I don’t think my list was too crazy. It wasn’t 3-car garage, full HBO package, a 10-hour workweek, 2 vacations in the Caribbean, and retirement age of 40.

    How about home ownership for everyone regardless of their down payment, documented income or credit history?

    ;-)

  33. SHBH Says:

    The Qin dynasty lasted about 2000 years, very unequal.

    Actually Qin dynasty was one of the shortest dynasties in China that lasted less than 20 years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Dynasty

  34. A. Lewis Says:

    I think people should be judged by their actions, not by their religious preferences, the color of their skin, what their native language is, or how much money their parents have.

    I did not mean ‘abhorrent’ in a religious sense, so I can’t concede that part of the argument to you. From Merriam-Webster dictionary online, definitions 2 & 3:

    2: not agreeable : contrary
    3: being so repugnant as to stir up positive antagonism; acts abhorrent to every right-minded person

    No religious reference whatsoever. It is a little bit of an archaic word and usage, but I’m funny like that sometimes.

    So let me rephrase the statement:

    Do you want to declare some of the [U.S.] people to be lesser peoples, who should leave? That’s abhorrent bad and wrong to me.

  35. A. Lewis Says:

    #28 – your last points on SF:
    For a city so pro-Diversity, everyone in it seems surprisingly similar.

    That’s funny. Now you’re arguing everyone is so alike in SF? But you said one of the advantages of the 3rd world poor is that the poor around them were like them.

    So the SF poor should be happy because such a high fraction of them are Progressive politically?

    You’ve contradicted yourself. I think SF is one of the most diverse populations around. There’s many flavors of Progressive and Liberal, if you just want to address the political side of it, and the evidence is how much bickering there is on the far-left side over what to do in the city and state!

    There’s far out radical Progressives, and moderate Liberals, and fiscal conservatives who support gay rights and abortion rights and want strict gun laws.

    Compare to Orange county, where I lived for 2 1/2 years, and you have a lot more voices speaking different opinions up here.

    Even if the percent who registered for the dominant party was 60-70% in both places.

    It’s just that so many of the opinions are on the left side of the nation’s spectrum, that I would guess a politically conservative person might think they all sound the same.

    Well, it’s pretty obvious I’m a liberal, maybe I couldn’t tell the variety of conservative voices in Orange county, and I’m being hypocritical.

    But mostly I saw heavy loyalty to whatever Bush/Rove/Cheney and Limbaugh were saying, and an almost fanatical loyalty and willing to go along with the current party talking points.

    Around SF, you’ll hear all kinds of arguments about what to do differently than Bush/Rove/Cheney – it’s not just one policy.

  36. A. Lewis Says:

    I also see a lot more religious diversity on the left – atheists, protestants, catholics, agnostics, Unitarians, and many others who deserve to be listed but I’m too lazy. On the right – dominated by Protestants.

    I’m really really not trying to turn this into a religious or political debate, I’m just trying to pick apart your criticisms of SF. Calling it non-diverse, b/c so many people are liberal, is such an over-simplification it’s bizarre.

    And I don’t get your point from it. It sounded to me you want to call SF people hypocritical for claiming to embrace diversity while not allowing conflicting political viewpoints the voice they deserve?

    I don’t think so. You can listen to conservative talk radio around here. You can find the Young Republicans club on the Berkeley (and Stanford) campuses. You can read editorial letters of all kinds in the different newspapers.

    You would probably find yourself a minority as a Republican at a random cocktail party, but it’s not like you’re carded at the door and told to drink somewhere else.

    The gay bars allow straight people in.

    And I don’t consider teaching our kids tolerance, equality, and respect for human rights to be brainwashing. So if you want to get more specific than that, name something taught only in Bay Area schools you think is inappropriate and we can debate that.

    But then this would be a political blog. I say we don’t go there – but you imply all this and more, so I felt like standing up to you on it.

  37. zanon Says:

    SBHB: D’oh! Maybe I was thinking of the Han. Anyway, you clearly know more about this than I do. But I’m sure there was at least one Chinese dynasty that lasted several hundred years, and I’m sure it was unequal.

    PRALAY: I know that people outside the US do not believe that “all men are equal” because I have been there. For example, the caste system in India is well established. Hard to consolidate that with “all mean are equal”. In Islam, there are faiths that are part of the book (so muslims can marry into them, with certain restrictions) and faiths that are not. Go to any of these places, and it’s pretty obvious. Japan also clearly does not believe in a “universal brotherhood of man”. etc.

    Heck, even in the US, rewind a few generations and you see the same thing! Slavery was abolished for a reason. Laws of physics are eternal. Beliefs come and go.

    As for “Christian Tradition” and the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal” is a good starting point. I recommend you look into the credo of the English Abolitionists: “Am I not a man and a brother” used to be a rallying cry. And not all parts of the Christian tradition had this. The ideals in the Declaration of Independence can be traced back to Martin Luther very clearly.

    I’m pretty sure George Washington wanted to overthrow the Monarchy, which ruled the US at the time. In doing so, he fought fellow Colonists who wanted to continue living under (monarchic) colonial rule, they were called the Loyalists. There were a lot of these folks, btw. While it is true that Washington, once he was done defeating the Monarchy in the US, and fellow colonists with Loyalists sympathies, did not sail back to the UK, his Puritan antecedents did overthrow the Monarchy from 1649-1660. You really cannot describe Washington as being pro, or even lukewarm, towards the Monarchy.

    DreamT: “XVIII century France was primarily catholic, not protestant”. True. Which is exactly what the Progressive tradition there was fighting against. Not sure how this is contrary to my point. The tradition started in Geneva, I think, with Luther. Equality was a core component of it. It’s done well over time.

    A. Lewis: When I said people lived in areas with like people around them, I meant that everyone worked, was married, etc. etc. They were all poor together. Compare and contrast to SF, where rich and poor live close to one another, but have very different lives.

    That said, I do think that the intellectual monoculture in SF leads to tranquility. Imagine if there were staunch hotbeds of conservatives there holding street rallies all the time! There are benefits to mass brainwashing/widely held beliefs in common. If you want to claim that SF has intellectual diveristy, knock yourself out.

    And why on earth should I want to deport anyone? My point was that you can have lots of inequality *and* tranquility *and* a perfectly OK life for everyone involved.

    Your point is that “unless you have equality, you will have unrest” and I’m pointing out that this has not been true historically, nor is it true overseas.

  38. Pralay Says:

    PRALAY: I know that people outside the US do not believe that “all men are equal” because I have been there. For example, the caste system in India is well established. Hard to consolidate that with “all mean are equal”.
    ——

    Zanon,
    I know plenty of American who don’t believe in “all men are equal” either. They think blacks and Hispanics are inferior. Same way, lots of India don’t believe “all men are equal” either – although Indian constitution does not endorse caste system.

    What’s the difference? Please tell us.

  39. Pralay Says:

    The ideals in the Declaration of Independence can be traced back to Martin Luther very clearly.
    ——

    I am getting more and more confused from your response. So far you are pointing towards some people who happens to be Christians and then you are trying to relate their philosophies with Declaration of Independence. Basically, your argument comes in nutshell: “This guy talks about equal rights, and he is Christian. Therefore Declaration of Independence got to be something to do with Christianity”. Am I right?

  40. Pralay Says:

    Japan also clearly does not believe in a “universal brotherhood of man”. etc.
    —-

    Zanon,
    Here I find problem in your argument. You are ready to cherry-pick certain negative aspect of some people’s ideology and then you label it on the whole nation.
    A Japanese can also do the same thing – he can finger-point white-supremacist ideologies that exists in America and say that America is a racist nation.

  41. A. Lewis Says:

    #37, OK Zanon, thanks for clarifying. I think you can some tolerable level of inequality and still ahve tranquility.

    But I’m all about the longterm view. In the 90’s I felt like we were slowing moving towards a more egalitarian society, slowly implementing the liberal progressive policies to enable healthcare, education, and freedom from minority persecution and disenfranchisement that prevented all Americans from having a solid shot and improving their lot in life.

    I think this was massively undermined by various conservative fiscal (and social) policies, or the failure to implement more liberal ones, and the damage has been building up – massively increasing the inequality in this country for a long time.

    My point is that if the equality is ever increasing (when I wrote 70% going to 90%), you’ll end up with a problem.

    If you think that an economically-classed society is sustainable, I would answer maybe – but your system better not keep shrinking the number in the top class, and making them richer and richer relative to the bottom.

    You end up with 1 guy with all the money. Trust me – the mob will kill him and redistribute the wealth.

    We need to roll back the inequality to a more tolerable level.

    Also, I see significant benefits to more equality, which I cited: less crime, higher productivity, lower healthcare costs, happier people.

    Even if you could have stability in the unequal society you imagine, I say even the rich will be better off when the poor are stealing less, getting diabetes less, and innovating more in the offices and factories. Instead of merely plodding along just getting by.

    And it’ll be worth it to the rich to pay a bit more in taxes to get it.

    So I think I’m the optimist. I think the pessimist is the rich person who says “there’s no point in raising my taxes, which I think will make me less happy, and giving it to public services that benefit the poor – b/c they won’t make themselves any better, and they’ll waste it, and I’d be better off just keeping it”. I think that’s pessimistic.

    But it’s a pretty widely shared view, and I respect your right to hold it. I just disagree.

    Thanks for the substantive discussion, zanon, even if we disagree on lots of things! You have been very patient with me.

  42. Pralay Says:

    You really cannot describe Washington as being pro, or even lukewarm, towards the Monarchy.
    —-

    You are yet to make a case that GW wanted to overthrow monarchy. Nobody here said that fighting for freedom from colonial rule equates to “pro or even lukewarm towards monarchy”.

  43. A. Lewis Says:

    Ack! Typos in the very first sentence!!

    I meant to say:
    “[I agree with you,] I think you can have some tolerable level of inequality and still have tranquility.”

    In a nutshell – I want moderated socialism, included a big social safety net, yet with many entrepreneurial/capitalistic opportunities and motivations to innovate and make progress (and even get rich). I don’t want a communist-style “utopia” where all things are distributed evenly.

    But in the good old U.S. of A, we should have solid public schools, health care for all, and no hungry people, even if many of them are still poor (though I’d like the truly poor to be a small minority, with much more middle class), and a minority are living richly.

    Current policies are moving in the wrong direction, as a whole, which we see because of rising inequality, worsening schools, and less health care coverage.

    The ‘right’ answers/policies are complicated and difficult to find, and may take a while to implement, but just saying “let’s cut all the taxes!” is not a step forward. It’s just a way to get to armed/gated enclaves for the ever-shrinking population of rich people who can afford services.

    I recommend reading Snow Crash and The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson to touch on some of these ideas on where it ends up. It’s a dystopia I think we can do better than.

    But I admit, it’s pretty stable, if not actually tranquil.

  44. Pralay Says:

    A Japanese can also do the same thing – he can finger-point white-supremacist ideologies that exists in America and say that America is a racist nation.
    —–

    To add a note, I am sure 99% of those white-supremacist would consider themselves as Protestant.

  45. DreamT Says:

    zanon – so you’re now saying that the people who led and fought the French revolution were not catholic but protestant, as opposed to royalist and republican? (ignoring your attempt to replace “protestant” with “progressive”) My point is clear, unlike yours: it does not take a mainly protestant society to embrace and engrave equal rights. So your initial assumption in #22 is wrong.

    The problem with your argumentation, as shown by your approximations, errors and this particular hole you dug yourself into, is that you didn’t take the time to understand the examples you cherry-picked (as Pralay justly wrote) to illustrate you point. This kills your credibility, which is too bad because the topics you’re attempting to discuss can be fascinating. I’d love to contribute if the discussion was of a higher caliber, but it’s clear to me that I’d be wasting my time.
    I’ll throw one bone, though. How are the Terror and the Napoleonic wars mentioned in #27, relevant to this discussion about equal rights in society? Please explain.

  46. A. Lewis Says:

    #45 c’mon, DreamT, weigh in with your own thoughts on how unequal U.S. society is now, the trajectory (past and future) of that inequality, and your own opinions on what is stable, and what is desirable in terms of equality in the U.S.

    I’d really like to hear what you have to say.

  47. BuyersAreIdiots Says:

    Wow. Lots of heated political discourse on this thread. I’m glad I steered clear! ;-)

    One thing I will add, when it comes to comparing various political idiologies from various countries and nations: the end result is that social disparity exists mainly because we, as a species, are genetically predisposed to striving for dominance. The reason that folks subvert the system for their own benefits at the expense of others is that they are, well, human!

    Generally speaking, that type of mindset is ingrained in our psyche. We actually have to be taught to share and collaborate as children. But from a genetic standpoint, we are actually going against our base instincts which are more selfish on a fundamental level.

    The Founding Fathers understood this; which is why they created a system of government with checks and balances in place that allowed for a democracy that was vote based to function while still having judicial provisions in place to ensure exploitation of minorities would not be as easily accomplished. Didn’t end up working perfectly, but hey. I’d rather be in the USA than Russia. :-)

  48. DreamT Says:

    A., I couldn’t say no to you :P
    I think the US performs well as far as equality of rights are concerned. But to zanon’s point, you have to define what these rights are, and there’s a whole literature that explains why it’s a mistake to throw to much in there. Universal access to health care or education are not basic rights. These are privileges / entitlements that any society should strive to offer. The link in #23 lists what I consider basic/essential (inalienable) rights: liberty, life, body integrity, justice, access to ownership, freedom of expression, etc. Note that the French version does not mention the right to pursue happiness, this is a (contentious) American twist.
    I think the US (and French) foundations of human rights are very sound, even if there’s still so much progress to be done in its application. I can’t speak for all other countries but I think they all fare worse to various degrees. I heartily disagree with zanon that it’s morally ok to move to a place that does not defend these values as well or at all, just because you can benefit personally; you probably guessed as much.
    I also know that freedom does not equate peace but the monopoly of violence by the state. This inner contradiction to our society (surrendering violence for equality’s sake) is fascinating in my opinion, as is the role of public trust in the government and the duty of that government to mold/groom this trust through public education, television, a democratic system and various other sophisticated apparatus. The US government must be masterful at this considering how few demonstrations there have been in recent times, and therefore (amongst many other reasons) I’d trust the US over almost any other country on political stability. Political stability and public trust are essential conditions for the continued application of basic human rights.
    Note I didn’t mention anything about the role of the media, the “right” to bear arms, the role of money, etc. IMO the former is essential for the supervision of the application of human rights. The right to bear arms is still there purely (IMO) to assuage the American public. As for the role of money, the inequality in its distribution is probably an essential reason why the US can fulfill its declared duty to enable the pursuit of happiness.

  49. zanon Says:

    PRALAY: It’s a judgement call whether you consider an ideology to be dominant, minority, or fringe/marginal.

    In India, I do not consider the caste system to be minority or fringe/marginal viewpoint.

    I consider racism in 2009 America as a fringe/marginal ideology. There are certainly some around, but there is a strong taboo against suggesting that blacks or hispanics are inferior. It really isn’t acceptable at all in polite society.

    In Japan, it is perfectly polite and acceptable to draw a clear line between “Japanese” and “non-Japanese”.

    I also recommend that you take the core tenant in the Protestant Reformation (“All men are equal”) and trace that through history. You’ll end up with George Washington, and it does not stop there. I’m sure you’ll have no issue tracing the ideology in the Declaration of Independence to the Abolition of Slavery to the Civil Rights movement. You’ll similarly have no issue tracing it back through Cromwell, Low Church, to Luther.

    And I’m not talking about Protestantism, I’m talking about one branch of Protestantism (of which there are many) which eventually dropped the God stuff and became Progressivism.

    Clearly you and I live in some different reality when it comes to whom GW was fighting against in the American Revolution.

    A. Lewis: Believe me, I am very familiar with your perspective. It is Conventional Wisdom, and almost everyone I know holds it. I don’t know why you’re limiting yourself to just 10 years though. Look at US history in 50 year chunks and ask yourself if it’s becoming more or less Progressive.

    DreamT: The people who lead and fought the French revolution were Progressive and fighting for Progressive (Enlightenment) ideals. Jacques Necker, one of the revolutionary leaders, was a Protestant. The “Declaration of the Rights of Man” as explicitly modeled on the “Declaration of Independence of the United States”, a Progressive document.

    What’s the issue here? Is it that people do not know that the Progressive movement has initially a branch of Protestantism? It was, and it’s done really well.

    With all due respect DreamT, I’m not the one with a credibility problem. I’m glad you find “so you’re now saying that the people who led and fought the French revolution were not catholic but protestant, as opposed to royalist and republican?” clear, because I do not. The Royalists (tied to the Catholic Church) were fighting the Republicans (Republicanism was Progressive) lead by a Protestant (Necker), who took inspiration from the Progressive (and Protestant) Declaration of Independence.

    We are agreed though that continuing this discussion is a waste of time. Thanks!

  50. Pralay Says:

    The Founding Fathers understood this; which is why they created a system of government with checks and balances in place that allowed for a democracy that was vote based to function while still having judicial provisions in place to ensure exploitation of minorities would not be as easily accomplished.
    —-

    And separation of church and state. The Founding Fatherunderstood that a constitution and legal system influenced by religious doctrine is not necessarily a great vehicle for preserving the character of a nation or rights of its all citizens.

  51. DreamT Says:

    zanon – Yes, Necker led the French revolution (while he was appointed by the king, I suppose). Incidentally, he was also a famous member of the Qin dynasty! And he won WWI all by himself.

  52. Pralay Says:

    It’s a judgement call whether you consider an ideology to be dominant, minority, or fringe/marginal.
    ———–

    Zanon,
    I knew your argument would be coming to down to minority/majority. How predictable!
    First, you started the discussion with Declaration of Independence (DofI). “All men are equal” – that’s a principle of nation. When it comes to principle or rule or law of land, majority/minority argument becomes irrelevant. Isn’t it? Let’s revisit your own argument (post #27). In 1776 when DofI was signed, blacks were slaves. You mentioned following in #27:

    everyone else did not believe the same thing!

    What does that mean? Except a handful of people (Founding Fathers) majority believed that slaves should remain as slaves? So where does your majority/minority argument fits into it? And if majority protestants did not believe that slaves should be freed, then where does that “Christian tradition” coming from? It seems to the philosophy of Founding Father (definitely minority) were well-ahead of time and nothing to do with “Christian tradition”.

  53. Pralay Says:

    In India, I do not consider the caste system to be minority or fringe/marginal viewpoint.
    —–

    Zanon,
    You are comparing apples to oranges. India is old civilization and its history goes back to ancient time. Being a old civilization, it produced lots of good things and lots bad things (caste system is one of them). I am not justifying caste system, but your cherry-picking one particular issue just demonstrates the ignorance about anything outside US – especially socio-economic problems that exists in most of the third world countries.

  54. Pralay Says:

    In Japan, it is perfectly polite and acceptable to draw a clear line between “Japanese” and “non-Japanese”.
    —-

    What’s your point? I am US citizen for more than three years and still many call me “Indian”. Tell me how can I avoid it? Bleaching my skin-color? :)

  55. DreamT Says:

    Pralay, they just mean your ethnicity rather than your citizenship, and they don’t know the proper term to use (esp. since there are so many ethnicities in India). The point is, I don’t think “Indian” here is generally meant as “not American”, because blood lines don’t legally matter in America unlike say in Japan or in Germany.

  56. Pralay Says:

    I also recommend that you take the core tenant in the Protestant Reformation (”All men are equal”) and trace that through history.
    ——

    Zanon,
    Founding Fathers did a great research on various civilizations – their positive things and negative things, reasons for downfall, why they thrived etc. Then they came up with a set of principles and governing framework which, they thought, will allow American society (and America as nation) to survive with stability.
    When you say that this framework and governing system came from Christian tradition, you are belittling their great work.

    Although I don’t find anything new in this argument. Quite old and argued many times by many people – including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who claimed America founded by Judeo-Christian concept (and I have little doubt about their ignorance of American history).

  57. zanon Says:

    LOL! This is generating a lot of strife. Help me out here — what’s the offending statement?

    1) “All men are equal” has not always been a majority belief. (I don’t think this could be an issue. see: Slavery)

    2) Progressivism was the critical ideological force in spreading the acceptance of “all mean are equal”. First in overthrowing aristocracy. Then in abolishing slavery. Then in Civil rights. (I cannot believe this is a problem either).

    3) Progressivism, the ideology, began as a branch of Protestantism. (I went as back as Luther, but I should have stopped at Calvin. This may be not well known, but why is it controversial?)

    PRALAY: Chill out. You’re confusing the DofI with the Constitution. At the time the DofI was written it was not the principle of the Nation, there wasn’t even a Nation yet. It did kick off the War of Independence though, which included colonists (Washington & Co.) fighting other colonists (the Loyalists). It’s principles became enshrined in the Constitution once the minority had defeated/won over all sorts of opponents and seized power. If the Loyalists had won, we would be living in a very different America.

    The Founding Fathers were well ahead of their time for sure, but in part that was because they were skillful at forwarding their cause and spreading their ideas. Certainly their ideals were not shared by all Protestants, never mind all Christians. Nevertheless, their ideology can be traced right back to the Puritans, and the Puritans can be traced back to the Protestant dissenter traditions in Britain. Progressivism began was primarily anti-Aristocrat. It moved onto being anti-Racist later.

    Not sure about the majority/minority confusion. US used to be a majority, or at least significant minority racist country. Now, racists are a fringe element. Isn’t that Progress?

  58. DreamT Says:

    wow, I can’t believe zanon did not respond to a single question from Pralay or I (hint: sentences that end with a question mark).
    Talk about a waste of time indeed! :)

  59. zanon Says:

    PS. I don’t pay much attention to Falwell and Robertson because I consider them to be losers. Nevertheless, if they say the US was founded as a Christian Nation on Christian Principles, they are kind of right, it was founded as a Progressive Nation on Progressive Principles, and those principles were part of a particular Protestant (Christian) tradition. I don’t think this makes light of anything the Founding Fathers did.

    The Progressive tradition has also moved on since then, shedding all vestiges of religion and becoming a straight-up ideology. I don’t want to call is a secular religion, because secular means “of the world” and religions can be very worldly, but I think it’s very accurate to call it an atheistic religion. I don’t believe that Falwell and Robertson got that memo, the train of history has well and truly passed them by.

  60. DreamT Says:

    atheistic religion? zanon, I hate to throw oil on the fire, but you really have no idea what you’re talking about nor what certain words actually mean. You sound like someone who read too much in too little time, only half-digested them, then chose burbed to regurgitate them. I realize you’ll flame me for writing this :) but it had to be said.

  61. Pralay Says:

    You’re confusing the DofI with the Constitution. At the time the DofI was written it was not the principle of the Nation, there wasn’t even a Nation yet.
    —-

    You are right, zanon. DofI is merely a document to declare independence from Great Britain. In fact the primary writer Jefferson himself stated that DofI is a statement of sentiments widely shared by supporters of the American Revolution. That pretty much. That makes your following statement in post #22 pointless:

    it’s right there in the declaration of independence “all mean are created equal” etc. etc.

    Bill of Rights comes from Constitution. Not DofI.

    Case closed.

    Now the next topic: Anybody here to claim that US Constitution derived from “Christian tradition”? :)

  62. zanon Says:

    DreamT: I never resorted to personal attacks. I would appreciate the same from you. And I thought I had addressed the questions you and Pralay raised.

    How about this — I’ll answer some, and then you and Pralay tell me which of my 3 statements are causing such heartburn.

    PRALAY SAID “When it comes to principle or rule or law of land, majority/minority argument becomes irrelevant. Isn’t it?”

    No. The US used to be a majority (or significant minority) country. It no longer is. DofI would be meaningless if the Loyalists had won the Revolutionary way. South remained racist thanks to Jim Crow laws for years after the Abolition of slavery.

    PRALAY SAID: “In 1776 when DofI was signed, blacks were slaves. You mentioned following in #27:

    everyone else did not believe the same thing!

    What does that mean? Except a handful of people (Founding Fathers) majority believed that slaves should remain as slaves?”

    I don’t know if it was the majority, but it was certainly a significant minority. Slavery was an accepted notion in polite society once upon a time. It no longer is. Nothing controversial here.

    DreamT asked: “How are the Terror and the Napoleonic wars mentioned in #27, relevant to this discussion about equal rights in society? Please explain.”

    Tangentially. The Terror came about after the French Revolution, which was about equal rights in society. The point is that fights in the name of equal rights do not always end well. Or rather, people fight in the name of equal rights, but when the dust settles, new people are in charge and those whose rights were being fought for find that little has changed.

    Napoleonic wars came directly after the French Revolutionary Wars. Napoleon lead the army, which was very active after the Revolution failed, grew in stature, and eventually staged a coup in 1799, and eventually launched total war across Europe. The (Progressive) French Revolution unseated the King, failed in install a strong government in place, and made room for Napoleon. Abolishing the Aristocracy, and the rise of the “All men are equal” credo was not easy!

    (btw. The phrase “All men are created equal” was pointedly anti-monarchic. His argument that God (the Creator), instead of giving Kings the divine right to Govern, instead endowed all men with unalienable Rights (and that men should govern themselves). It was used in the anti-slavery sense a few years later in Brom and Bett vs. Ashley.)

    OK, your turn.

  63. zanon Says:

    PRALAY: “All men are created equal” is from DofI, which you said was the principle of the Nation. At the time the DofI was written, it was not the principle of the Nation, there was no Nation, because the War of Independence was still going on. It was no “law of the land”.

    It so happened that the group who wrote the DofI won the war and then went on to write the Constitution, which *is* the law of the land. Unsurprisingly, the sentiments in DofI made it into the Constitution. But they first had to defeat people who did not agree with the DofI, which included fellow Colonists! I am confused as to how this does not support my point.

  64. Pralay Says:

    Nevertheless, their ideology can be traced right back to the Puritans, and the Puritans can be traced back to the Protestant dissenter traditions in Britain.
    —–

    Zanon,
    Please provide reference to a single legitimate scholarly article/book/paper that concluded so. Don’t tell me that English Common Law and the Principles of the Enlightenment have Puritian root too. :)

    Meanwhile, let’s enjoy couple the following quotations (some of them are from Founding Fathers):

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
    ————-

    “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
    ———–

    “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”

    - John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11.
    ———-

    “My parents had given me betimes religious impressions, and I received from my infancy a pious education in the principles of Calvinism. But scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself.”

    - From Franklin’s autobiography
    ——–

    “All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

    - Thomas Paine, in The Age of Reason

  65. nomadic Says:

    I really hate to butt in here, but was I duped when I was raised to believe the Judeo-Christian tradition had some influence on the founding of the nation? Why do we have “one nation under God” and “in God we trust?”

    I’m 1000% behind separation of church and state, but there always appeared to be a connection. The founding fathers may have had religious faith but they also felt it paramount to not have the government involved in a meaningful way.

  66. DreamT Says:

    zanon – I do believe you’re earnest, so plz interpret my comments not as a personal attack but as a critique of your delivery.

    Now I’ll address two of your claims.

    1. The French revolution was not about equal rights.
    It was about a starving, overtaxed people fed up with church and nobility privileges. At first, the people did not mean to overthrow the government, they merely wanted a constitutional monarchy. But the inability of the rulers to address the grievances collected in the Cahiers de Doleance, and various mistakes made mostly due to a severe disconnect with the people (culminating with the aborted escape abroad of the king) resulted in the rejection of the existing order, graphically illustrated by the political beheadings that took place in subsequent years. The next few years of the revolution until Napoleon’s ascent are just a grim story of brutal partisan political infighting, betrayals and deaths. Equal rights were a means among others to inspire and unite the people, and possibly the revolution’s greatest offshot. But revolution was not about them. Asserting otherwise is merely rewriting history to suit your point.

    2. Napoleonic wars came about because the nobility fled abroad (European countries were ruled by cousins) and prepared to invade France back. This was initially a defensive move for the survival of the new order. This has nothing to do with equal rights, and everything to do with new establishment survival and a man’s ambition.

    I’m not addressing your other points because I don’t find screaming fault in them. You chose to reformulate your previous point by pointing out that the inspiration of equal rights can be traced back to the enlightenment, with prominent (but not only) protestant figures contributing, and I’m fine with that statement. It would have been nice to see La Fayette, Montesquieu, Mirabeau and others mentioned; reading Necker’s name instead proved that you have little actual knowledge of these events.

  67. Pralay Says:

    It so happened that the group who wrote the DofI won the war and then went on to write the Constitution, which *is* the law of the land. Unsurprisingly, the sentiments in DofI made it into the Constitution. But they first had to defeat people who did not agree with the DofI, which included fellow Colonists! I am confused as to how this does not support my point.
    ——

    It does not support your following statement (and initial argument) stated in #22:

    This is *not* the case outside the US, in countries that do not share the Progressive/Christian (Protestant) tradition.

  68. DreamT Says:

    nomadic – were you also raised to believe in the influence of free-masonry on the founding of the nation? :)

  69. nomadic Says:

    nope. I’m not a complete rube! :-P

    My questions, while perhaps a bit naive, are still legitimate. How did god get in there?

  70. Pralay Says:

    but was I duped when I was raised to believe the Judeo-Christian tradition had some influence on the founding of the nation? Why do we have “one nation under God” and “in God we trust?”
    —–

    Actually those phrases came much later after this nation was founded. And both of the cases, it was due to sentiment of that time – sneaked into appropriate places for right or wrong
    reason.
    In God We Trust: 1864 (Civil War era)

    One Nation Under God: 1954 (beginning of cold war)

  71. DreamT Says:

    nomadic – It pays to be a complete rube sometimes

  72. nomadic Says:

    lol – didn’t Dan Brown cover that ad nauseum?

    Thanks for the links Pralay. I should’ve remembered those “snuck in” much later. I remember the Pledge one from a bar trivia contest. If it weren’t for that one, my team would’ve won! D’oh!

  73. DreamT Says:

    Did he? I tried to read one of his books 8 years ago and found his writing style atrocious and his plot approximate. Apologies if the dollar bill is now common knowledge.

  74. zanon Says:

    PRALAY: Puritans and Pilgrims left for the US starting around 1620. They were fleeing persection by the Anglican Church (and Monarchy) in the UK, although Puritans, Pilgrims, and Anglicans were all Protestant. The bone of contention was whether the Divine Right of Kings was heretical or not. Puritans believed that since “all men are equal”, men should not be ruled by Kings. This was an argument based in theology, and it was not a mainstream view at the time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritan#Conflicts_with_Anglican_Church

    About 150 years later, the descendants of those settlers pen a document beginning “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” and fought a war with fellow descendants (who did not share those beliefs) to overthrow the rule of the English Monarchy. They won this war, and set up a system of Government without Kings.

    It is not controversial to see that the notion “all men are created equal” was targeted at repudiating the Divine Right of Kings.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_men_are_created_equal

    All the quotes you have from the Founding Fathers are great, and I believe that they genuinely reflected what they believed. Nevertheless, the link from the Puritan theological argument in 1600s (“all men are equal” so the Divine Right of Kings is Heresy) to the descendants of those same Protestants saying (“all men are equal” so the Divine Right of Kings is rejected) 150 odd years later is obvious to me. You can make up your own mind.

    Best scholarly work on this is “George McKenna’s Puritan Origins of American Patriotism” for something recent, or “The American Revolution” by William Lecky for something older. The latter is available on Google Books, I believe, and includes the European perspective.

    NOMADIC: Pralay is right, the explicit “under God” language was added later.

    DREAMT: French Revolution is not my area of expertise. I defer to your points on it. I think I even agree with your statement “Equal rights were a means among others to inspire and unite the people… But revolution was not about them.” I would suggest that this is the case more often than not. Certainly the Loyalists would argue that the American Revolution was about one group of people wanting to wrest control from another group of people, and using the rhetoric of Equality of inspire and unite. But who can trust *that* gang of losers?

    Either way, the Progressive Movement has, well progressed, and in 2009 the notion of a Divine Right of Kings has been in the trash for an age, slavery is illegal, racial discrimination is also illegal and profoundly socially unpopular. What’s next?

    I think the next step for the Progressive movement is open borders. Since “all men are equal” why discriminate against someone just because they were born on the other side of an arbitrary national boundary?

    We have sanctuary cities in the US (started in California), Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be joining the Supreme court, and she is both sympathetic and empathetic towards immigrants rights, and most importantly we have large established immigration populations who form a strong political constituency for additional immigration.

    Since immigrants from latin america tend to be poorer than average, increased immigration will further increase income inequality. I see taxes going up to address that inequality, hopefully out of the charity in our hearts, but perhaps to A. Lewis’ point, also out of fear/self preservations instincts to avoid civil unrest. They key question though, is: what will this do to prices in RBA?

  75. BuyersAreIdiots Says:

    Nevertheless, if they say the US was founded as a Christian Nation on Christian Principles, they are kind of right

    Sorry, but that is outright false.

    Please read this excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

    I am still baffled that people in this country still attempt to push forth the notion that this country was founded on the Christian faith.

    If you need further proof, look at the constitution:

    “Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    If the founding fathers wanted to base our country off of Christianity, they simply would have said so. The official religion in the UK is Christianity; it is stipulated in their constitution. (With provisions indicating that other religions will not be infringed) Hell, even Iran has that type of clause while still defining itself as an Islamic state.

    But I am sorry folks, this country was NOT AND NEVER WAS founded on Christianity. Period. All the Christian things that appear on our currency and the pledge of allegiance were added in the 1950s by Eisenhower during the Red Scare.

    accurate to call it an atheistic religion

    What exactly is an ‘atheistic religion’? Atheism is just a response to a claim: Do you believe in god? It is not in on itself a religion any more than theism is a religion on its own. They are just viewpoints on an assertion.

  76. Pralay Says:

    Best scholarly work on this is “George McKenna’s Puritan Origins of American Patriotism” for something recent, or “The American Revolution” by William Lecky for something older. The latter is available on Google Books, I believe, and includes the European perspective.
    —-

    Zanon,
    Are you trying to equate patriotism/sentiment with philosophy how government should protect rights of the citizens?

  77. madhaus Says:

    Wow, reading all this stuff and wishing I was on a real computer.

    zanon, most of the Founding Fathers were not even Christians, they were Deists. I am stunned that this managed to escape your notice. And certainly some of them claimed Deism because claiming no need whatsoever for gods was beyond acceptable public speech.

    The idea that the Puritan branch of Protestant Christianity is the root of Progressivism doesn’t pass the smell test. While repudiating the Divine Right of Kings might be a necessary condition, the Puritans would have rejected most of what we mean by the term Progressivism. Contrast the laws of Massachusetts versus Rhode Island during the Colonial era. Practicing any religion other than that established by Massachusetts was illegal. Questioning the established religion was illegal. The Puritans learned well from their treatment by Anglican Britain, and set themselves up as the One True Faith. Dissidents could face the stocks, the gallows, or flee to a more welcoming clime (see Rhode Island).

    It was not Puritan Massachusetts or Connecticut, but free-thinking and tolerant Rhode Island, or Quaker Pennsylvania, where you will find the ideals of the Enlightenment and Progressivism.

    By the way, I never heard the term Progressivism used to refer to the Enlightenment, let alone Colonial or pre-Colonial political philosophy. As a political movement, you should find it first associated with President Roosevelt.

    That’s Teddy Roosevelt. At the turn of the century. The TWENTIETH century.

  78. nomadic Says:

    BAI, I like this:

    Please read this excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

    Thanks!

  79. zanon Says:

    PRALAY: I am simply recommending a good scholarly book that supports my position. You asked for one (or maybe it was DreamT). McKenna is using “Patriotism” in the “Patriot vs Loyalist” sense. Patriots had a lot of ideas about how a nation should be Governed. Anyway, it’s quite readable, and recommended. I encourage you to make up your own mind!

    MADHAUS: Yup, many of the FFs were Deist. Just so happens that their core Deist belief happened to be exactly the same core Protestant (Puritan) belief that got their forefathers kicked out of England. You certainly don’t need to be a Christian of any denomination to believe that “all men are equal” today. But 400 years ago, only Christians of a very specific denomination believed it.

    Also glad you brought up the Quakers, very interesting group. They were another Nonconformist sect of Protestantism in England, however, just like Pilgrims and Puritans.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaker#Beginnings

    You just can’t get around the “all men are equal” being a Christian, Protestant, Non-conformist trope!

    Also, your points about the various Church/State arrangements set up in early America are right on. It’s certainly a complicated story, but we know how it turned out.

    Teddy Roosevelt’s is another fascinating character, but I don’t have time to address him today.

    BAI: To me, an atheistic religion is simply a religion that does not have God in it. If you take a religion, and list out its beliefs “because God said so” and take out the “God said so part”, you have a list of beliefs.

    Personally I see Unitarian Universalism as almost being an atheistic religion, but not quite. I don’t know if they would agree. Again, their roots are Protestant, although they take influences from many different religions. Unitarianism in the US goes back to Puritans in New England (d’oh!). Anyway, if you drop the “Unitarian” part in Unitarian Universalism, I think you’ll get someone who is indistinguishable from a Progressive.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalist_Association#Principles_and_purposes

    Just take out anything that has to do with God(s) and see for yourself. Again, i invite you to make up your own mind.

  80. Pralay Says:

    I am simply recommending a good scholarly book that supports my position.
    —-

    Let me ask you more precisely. Your original position in #22 was that equal rights in US comes from “Christian tradition”. Does that book support your position? Reading the editorial review in amazon does not look like so.

  81. nomadic Says:

    To me, an atheistic religion is simply a religion that does not have God in it. If you take a religion, and list out its beliefs “because God said so” and take out the “God said so part”, you have a list of beliefs.

    That reminds me of the nuts who were trying to teach Creationism in school. They took the god stuff out of the book “Of Pandas and People” and renamed it intelligent design. IIRC an earlier edit was found during a trial in PA that showed it was a direct revision of Christian Creationist theory. Don’t want to derail your thread again – just making an observation.

  82. zanon Says:

    NOMADIC: Agreed. “Creationism” is clearly Christian, even though they’ve removed the God stuff.

    PRALAY: I think the book supports my position. And not just any “Christian tradition” — a very particular Christian tradition. But other people may have different opinions. The Amazon reviews are not very illuminating, unfortunately.

  83. A. Lewis Says:

    #79 – half of my family is Unitarian, and you might want to look into the history a little deeper. Did you know it involves Romania?

    I would call them much more of a bunch of uber-tolerant people who have strong Liberal Progressive beliefs. They welcome atheists in their midst, along with anybody else with basically any belief (or non-belief) system at all, aside from Hate and the desire to harm others, I guess.

    If you were to attend a UU church service, it strongly resembles, on the surface, a very neutral kind of protestantism. There’s a Reverend up front in a church with an altar, an organ, and pews. And plenty of discussion some days of the Bible and of Jesus Christ and they do have a statement about monotheism, but the main difference I see is nothing is ever stated in a declarative way that Catholic or Protestant or other ‘typical’ religion might.

    Like, “Jesus died for our sins.”

    It’s more like: “there’s an interesting book (the Bible), which has a fascinating character (Jesus Christ), who says and does many things in this book. This may or may not have happened in reality, and may or may not have been divine. But let’s talk about one of the stories today and try to learn something about morality, or humanity, or community, and let’s end with a really positive affirmation of our commitment to making the world a better place.”

    ;-) – They’re awfully nice, but I was bored to death as a child and I don’t go anymore.

    Zanon, I don’t think your atheistic religion statement is helping you, though I kind of get what you are trying to say.

    But you just can’t go calling something like Liberal Progressivism a religion, let alone an atheistic one. It’s a movement, and it’s useful to draw the distinction.

    Various religions can align themselves with various movements, but they’re different kinds of things.

  84. A. Lewis Says:

    DreamT, thanks for sharing your thoughts. But I would like to hear more from you on income inequality, which is obviously a pet issue of mine.

    You only say like one sentence at the end, about pursuit of happiness, which I will take to mean a somewhat Libertarian (?) view that being poor is a motivation to try and be rich, not an inherent evil, so why should the government do too much about it?

    I assert that income inequality is increasing, and is not only morally a bad thing, but that it will make a future crisis in American society if not fixed.

    Do you agree on any of the premise or the prediction?

  85. A. Lewis Says:

    And to address zanon’s key statement – how will all this affect RBA home prices? My idea is that as income inequality increases, the fortress of the RBA must shrink – and I guess prices inside it could well keep going up until the crisis when it goes chaotic.

  86. Pralay Says:

    Puritan theological argument in 1600s (”all men are equal” so the Divine Right of Kings is Heresy) to the descendants of those same Protestants saying (”all men are equal” so the Divine Right of Kings is rejected) 150 odd years later is obvious to me.
    ——–

    Nothing obvious here. Read by previous post (and the wiki link given in it).

  87. Pralay Says:

    I think the book supports my position. And not just any “Christian tradition” — a very particular Christian tradition.
    —–

    Thanks. I will try to read it. I am bit skeptical because the review talks (and the title of the book tells itself) about general sentiments and cultures in American political arena 300+ years back. Not necessarily how US constitution and rights of the citizens were shaped, consciously, based on “Christian tradition”.

  88. Pralay Says:

    All the quotes you have from the Founding Fathers are great, and I believe that they genuinely reflected what they believed. Nevertheless, the link from the Puritan theological argument in 1600s (”all men are equal” so the Divine Right of Kings is Heresy) to the descendants of those same Protestants saying (”all men are equal” so the Divine Right of Kings is rejected) 150 odd years later is obvious to me.
    ——

    Zanon,
    Mere “link” is not enough to make a case that US is founded on “Christian tradition”. I might have a link to India, but that does not mean that everything I do should be termed as “Indian tradition”.

    To establish that US (and its equal rights) founded on Christian tradition you must show that Founding Fathers made conscious effort to incorporate Christian traditions into US constitution.

    How does that “link” fits into the statement made in Treaty of Tripoli (quoted in #78)?

  89. DreamT Says:

    A. – So, income inequality. Ok.

    First off, income is not a right; minimum income is a privilege guaranteed by some enlightened countries to their residents. So, there are no reasons whatsoever that we should strive for income “equality”.
    I like to think of the income issue more along the lines of fair compensation for added value (as opposed to effort produced). The source of income and the market at large determine the added value of the effort. The role of the government is to ensure that regulatory systems are in place to avoid flagrant abuses. I’m describing capitalism, a profit-based reward system that works well because it contains no moral or religious aspect to it (although surely zanon will disagree). Is it morally bad to be rewarded for added value? I say no. Is it morally bad that said rewards now reach another order of magnitude, because efficient communication and freer trade accelerate reach to market and expand potential market? I also say no. Just because it’s amoral does not make it immoral. So I disagree with you that the perceived income inequalities are “morally bad”.

    Obvious wealth disparities are necessary to encourage effort and risk. The real problem IMO are the barriers that prevent a person starting from nothing from getting where he/she wants to be, after due effort and creative risk. American fares better than most of the world but failure to both encourage excellence in education while educating well the masses, means it is is falling behind. The solution so far has been to import brains from countries that are less keen on recognizing and rewarding success.

    The real internal crisis would be a crisis of education and lack of opportunity rather than a crisis of income or wealth disparity. But we’ll probably have other crisis before then – we’re still in the midst of a financial crisis and a housing crisis, and we’ve barely touched on a health crisis.
    More worrying to me, when America sneezes, the rest of the world gets sick, and America’s the first to recover with only a light fever. The current imbalance of power in favor of America remains stunning and does not augur well, unless the government shows much benevolence.

    Hope I was more on topic this time ;)

  90. anon Says:

    America. Fuck yeah.

  91. zanon Says:

    A. Lewis: I have not been to a UU service, although I have participated in a Quaker one, but your description matches what others have told me about them. Totally nice people, for sure. They also seem *barely* Christian to me, and it would only take gentle sanding to make them indistinguishable from a non-religions, tolerant, Progressives. I only bring up UU because it’s so clearly just one small step away from being an (well known) atheistic religion.

    As for whether “atheistic religion” is helping me — well, nothing else is either ;) Either you see the connection, or you don’t. Lead a horse to water etc. etc.

    PRALAY: I cannot do better than show that the same core belief, carried by the same people, which began as a Protestant theological argument, ended up being the declarative sentence in the DofI, which them formed the basis for the Supreme law of the land.

    Personally, I don’t see why this had to be done consciously–whether or not you know where a belief comes from does not change its origins. You are welcome to remain unpersuaded!

    The link you sent over does not help you. Of course the DofI reflected the beliefs of the supporters of the American Revolution. They believed that “all men were equal”, and so should not be ruled by a King, that’s why there was a revolt! I wonder where they go that idea from? They were also opposed by sizable number of fellow Colonists who did not believe that “all men were equal” and wanted to continue being ruled by a King. This point is so simple that I feel I must be missing something.

    Also, thanks for the link showing how the DofI was directly influenced by the 1689 Declaration of Rights in Britain. Of course, that was part of the Glorious Revolution that put Protestant, Calvinist, Non-conformist William III on the throne, and ended absolute monarchy in Britain forever. D’oh!

    Finally Pralay, I even though you are of Indian ethnicity, I would never claim that everything you did was because of your ties to India. But, if you did something that was typical of India, such as practice Hinduism, I would say that you were following in an Indian tradition. The specific belief that the FF had around the equality of man, was exactly the same specific belief that drove their forefathers from England to the UK. And it was a religious belief peculiar to a particular strand of Protestant Christianity.

    History is not physics. I have no stronger proof than this. I am happy for us to disagree at this point.

  92. DreamT Says:

    “They believed that “all men were equal”, and so should not be ruled by a King, that’s why there was a revolt!”
    You’re making the same mistake as with French revolution, confusing cause and offspring. The revolt was absolutely not due to ideological reasons, but financial (taxation) and political

  93. Pralay Says:

    Sorry for the formating problem in earlier post.
    —–
    But, if you did something that was typical of India, such as practice Hinduism, I would say that you were following in an Indian tradition.
    —–

    I disagree. Hinduism talks about charity. If I do charity, can that be termed as “Hindu tradition” or “Indian tradition”?? I don’t think so. My desire of doing charity could be driven by simple humanity and nothing to do with Hindu belief. The only way you can make this “link”, legitimately, if I make conscious effort that “Hinduism talks about charity, therefore I am doing charity”.

    And this is where I see the problem in your argument. You are connecting dots (or making “link”) in a dubious manner. Founding Father never made any attempt to incorporate Christian tradition in US constitutions. Period.

  94. A. Lewis Says:

    #91, well, my idea about separating religions from movements is that going to a UU church service on a Sunday does NOT look like going to a Moveon.org phone-calling party on Tuesday night (to lobby some senator to vote your way on an issue).

    It might well be that the UUs hold the same position (they strongly opposed Prop. 8, for example), and they probably discussed tolerance on Sunday, but it still looked much more like church than a political movement.

    Do you know what I mean?

    Actually, the UUs hold lots of discussion workshops about a million things at other times than Sunday, and some of THOSE meetings probably look more like a bunch of atheists discussing how to make good policy.

    But the ‘religion’ part is still church on Sunday, and it’s not the same thing as the Liberal movement. I want to continue to make the distinction.

  95. DreamT Says:

    zanon – atheism is a firm reject of the existence of a/any deity. Atheists are passionately engaged in this belief. The term does not marry well with “religion”, which is organized worship.
    So when you write “atheistic religion”, you probably mean an agnostic movement. If that’s the case, you have to realize how misusing words can antagonize your audience.

  96. A. Lewis Says:

    #89, awesome, thanks very much for taking the time.

    Some things:

    Is it morally bad to be rewarded for added value? I say no. Is it morally bad that said rewards now reach another order of magnitude, because efficient communication and freer trade accelerate reach to market and expand potential market? I also say no.

    I realize how unhelpful “morally” was, because it clouded the issue. How about just ‘bad for the country’, or ‘bad for the community’?

    It’s easy to tie your example into the ratio of CEO to average worker pay. Plenty of data saying things like it went from 50 to 1 to 500 to 1. That’s what you’re talking about, right?

    Me, too. And I just don’t think the CEO is adding that much more value than the average worker (compared to how much they were at 50:1). They’ve just bought themselves a corrupt system where all the CEOs are on each other’s governing salary committees and they keep raising it. And did this result in big dividends for the stockholders? Long-term sustainable profits? Um…a few companies, maybe…

    Whilst some larger number of companies are not particularly outperforming the market, and some small number of others are doing horrible or criminal things and should be in jail, not paid a bunch.

    So I’m in favor of a bit of increased regulation, though I wish the market would properly punish bad behavior itself. Why doesn’t it? I don’t think the stockholders are getting a good return on most of those 7-digit management salaries. I think they’d do better ‘only’ paying someone $700,000 instead of $70M to run a company. I mean how much does one man bring at a big company? I’m more interested in them rewarding the really productive engineers, or that mythical creature, the effective middle-manager, who knows how to build a team of experts and support staff, match skills to tasks, manage personalities, keep focused on results, on time, and on budget. I don’t think middle managers should be paid $70M, either, but 10 good ones probably do much more for the company. I mean CEOs often are paid to make big big risky decisions. How good are they at doing it? How much better can one person paid $20M be than some other paid $5M? Or say a seasoned middle manager in the company paid $200k? Lots of evidence that the CEOs are not magical at it, so they shouldn’t be paid magical amounts of money.

    But I’m digressing a bit. Let’s say you’re comfortable with 500 to 1, justified by modern innovations. How do you feel about 5000 to 1? or 50,000 to 1?

    I assert again we’re heading in that direction, and it would be a crisis. I don’t want to just give handouts for no effort, and I don’t support removing the incentive to strive, innovate and excel. But I don’t see why you can’t provide a raft of basic services and still have people motivated to do better. It’d be nice to try it my way for a while, and see how it goes, instead of givings more advantages to corporations while lowering subsidies for health insurance, education, and retirement benefits – which is what we’ve been doing for decades.

    I think we are in total agreement that failure of education is a driving force, and that improved educational outcomes would do a lot for the country.

  97. A. Lewis Says:

    #96 atheism is a firm reject of the existence of a/any deity. Atheists are passionately engaged in this belief.

    Some are more ‘passionately engaged’ than others. Some have formed organizations to promote atheism, and speak out. Some want to convince believers to stop believing in God, b/c they think it’s ignorant and destructive.

    Others just firmly don’t believe in God, and aren’t interested in joining any clubs about it whatsoever. They’re rather discuss housing prices or something, and would prefer not to try to convince anyone of anything relating to the existence of God.

    These last folks might be hard to distinguish from an agnostic who has no firm belief in God, but also no strong feeling that they’re sure God does not exist. They might also not feel like joining any clubs about it, or convincing anyone else to be agnostic. It’s just not that interesting to them.

    So there’s lots of kinds of atheists…

    The nice thing about America is that hypothetically all these folks can get along, and there are laws to back that up. The people who try real hard to convince others about their belief system muck it up for the others, though, who have to deal with something they’d rather not worry about.

    Religious debate is fine, but people should be able to opt of the debate entirely and be left alone in America. It’s one of the reasons our nation exists.

    It should also be kept out of politics and schools.

  98. zanon Says:

    DreamT: I don’t know if agnostic is right. You can have agnostic theists. It’s usually used to mean non-committed, but technically, agnosticism is about knowledge, while (a)theism is about belief. And when I use the term I really do mean a set of beliefs, I am not making a “limits of knowledge” argument.

    I think you can have laid back atheists, just as you can have laid back theists. Not everyone has to be passionate about this. I don’t think Buddhists would think it’s inaccurate for their religion to be described as an atheistic religion. I know some chill Buddhists. There are probably others religions that are also atheistic that I don’t know about.

    My point remains straightforward: “all men are equal” was originally an explicitly religious belief, which lost its religious trappings somewhere along the way, and ended up being the basis of the American Republic, and continues as a powerful idea to this day. This stuff is really well documented, but it’s not Physics, so there is no scientific proof.

    The vehemence at the very idea that “all men are equal” could have a religious root, never mind a Christian root, or worse yet, a Protestant root is really interesting, and well documented on this thread.

  99. DreamT Says:

    Well A., the higher the corporate strata, the more intangible the personal contribution, and yet the greater the need to evaluate performance with simple, explicit metrics. The tension between these two justifies the higher pay. How much higher? That’s up to the board of directors and the shareholders to decide, not you or I unless we are shareholders too.
    There are currently some flaws in corporate governance whereby shareholders don’t have as much of a say as they should, and obviously regulation flaws as we saw for ex. with SEC oversight. But no country is making more of a good-faith effort than the US to address these flaws. Compare with the European countries’ effort at addressing corporate governance for example: individual countries refuse to delegate any power to a continent-wide regulation regulatory body. I am not ready to be shocked at an arbitrary ratio or absolute amount, and I think it a mistake to curb these arbitrarily. On the other hand, I am shocked at governance corruption and the failure to regulate properly, when these are not politically addressed, and I would hope that ultimately punishment happens at the poll.
    In summary, I disagree with you that a few CEOs payed 5000 to 1 would signal a crisis. Are you shocked that a night of effort writing an iPhone application may make you a millionaire? What is the ratio for this? Isn’t that a good thing, ultimately, as it encourages productivity, creativity and levels the field of opportunity?
    As for the discussion on basic services, I see it entirely disconnected from the issue of CEO compensation, unless you’re proposing to tax then at 80% to pay for people’s minimum wage.

  100. DreamT Says:

    zanon – You’re only reading what you want to read. There’s no vehemence from me on that point (see last paragraph of #66). Unless a movement explicitly state they reject theism, they cannot be categorized as an atheistic movement; the lack of religious reference in the bylaws is simply agnosticism, not meaning they haven’t made up their mind, but meaning they choose not to dwell and commit a standpoint on the topic.
    So I’m merely asking you if that movement currently has a committed, declared stand on theism, or if they just don’t include religious points as part of their discussion. In the latter case, your use of “atheistic religion” is misleading.

  101. A. Lewis Says:

    I also don’t want to pick magic numbers to be outraged about, and don’t want to ever see such a number enshrined in federal law, but I’d like to make the sustainability argument. 5000 is pretty bad, dude.

    It would be bad if one guy were paid $1T in this country, and 300 million people were paid $5k. He’s the only one who can afford health insurance – the rest just hope not to get sick.

    I never suggested an arbitrary curb – I imply I’d like to see policies that bring the ratio down. I’m in fact more interested in seeing the average worker’s wage increase when GDP increases (b/c many people put in the hard work for that increase). Instead, we get stagnant or falling wages for the average worker, and the CEO gets x10 from last year. That’s not good. And all those workers pay taxes and buy things, to – it’s not like it’s just flushed away…

    I already conceded that some disparity IS encouragement and incentive, so don’t take my position as communist.

    As for basic services and taxes – well, they do need to be paid for, and I think moderately higher income taxes would do it. It’s just that ‘moderately’ from me sounds like ‘draconian wealth redistribution’ to some others.

    We have a max fed tax rate of 35% now on taxable income over $372,950 (after you’ve deducted the heck out of your pay b/c your tax accountant knows all the loopholes). I wouldn’t have a problem with that being 38%. And then 40% on everything over $1M, and 50% on everything over $5M, and 60% on everything above $20M. Income tax rates have been as high as 90% on top earners in the U.S. in times past. My proposal is moderate, and would merely turn the super-rich into slightly less-super rich, while not affecting anyone below $372k taxable.

    And if the budget gets balanced, and we run a surplus, then you sock money away for a rainy day with these taxes. THEN when a bust hits, you can lower taxes to stimulate the economy and ease people’s tax burden, b/c you’ve got enough saved to make it work. Then during boom times you bring them back to the prior levels.

    That’ll generate me some hate mail, I’m sure.

    The conservative plan is lower taxes during boom times, and lower them faster during busts.

    Also, one night’s iPhone dev effort might net you 1000 $1 sales, but you’ll probably have to put like a whole WEEK into a good enough iPhone app to sell $1M worth :-)

  102. zanon Says:

    DreamT 101: It is possible I’m reading vehemence into this.

    Also, do you really assign zero ideological motivation to the American Revolution? Zero? You allow financial and political considerations, so I guess you must consider politics completely free of ideology.

    We definitely disagree here, which is fine.

    Your wikipedia link is a good one — thanks! — but it does not support your position. D’oh! No worries, you cannot believe everything you read on El Wiki.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution#Liberalism.2C_republicanism.2C_and_religion
    is a totally killer section. Talks about non-conformist churches, religious “all men are equal” arguments against the Divine right of kinds, and plain old-fashioned rabble rousing.

    “John Locke’s ideas on liberalism greatly influenced the political minds behind the revolution; for instance, his theory of the “social contract” implied that among humanity’s natural rights was the right of the people to overthrow their leaders, should those leaders betray the historic rights of Englishmen.[3][4] In terms of writing state and national constitutions, the Americans used Montesquieu’s analysis of the ideally “balanced” British Constitution.

    A motivating force behind the revolution was the American embrace of a political ideology called “republicanism”, which was dominant in the colonies by 1775″ etc.

    And just for gravy, it gives a shout out to the Puritans AND has this great Jefferson quote: “”The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, summarizing the core Biblical world view, that liberty is a God-given right,the basis for moral responsibility. [14]”

    Just in case you are wondering, I have personally never changed a single page on wikipedia.

  103. Pralay Says:

    My point remains straightforward: “all men are equal” was originally an explicitly religious belief,
    —–

    And how did you figure that out? Human equality or natural rights goes back to Greek civilization, Rome and Hammurabi era, Buddhism – in one form or another. Even Islam talks about human equality. Of course every equality concept has it own exclusionary tactics for slaves, women, non-believers etc. Calling it something specific to Christian tradition is dubious at the best.

  104. DreamT Says:

    A., I’m certainly not prepared to debate taxable brackets and amounts. Targeting CEO compensation in a discussion about basic social services sounds disingenuous to me (and I’m not a CEO by the way, nor do I plan to be one :) ). There are some unbelievable tax advantages to running a corporation that in my opinion should be targeted before individual pay. I believe transparency and simplicity breeds efficiency, therefore closing opaque tax loopholes and simplifying the tax code would go a way towards fixing budgets. The reform should be done before any discussion of tax increase or decrease. The other main reason is that taxes always seem too high to some, too low to others, and unjust to everybody; changing tax amounts arbitrarily either way won’t address much ultimately, and carry a relatively large risk for the economy.
    Finally, it seems that taxes should only be discussed when you have a properly defined (with $ saving incentives) new expense to meet. If you’re bringing up increasing taxes to fill a revenue shortfall, or to keep expenses at their current level, let’s just say I’m glad that you’re not my accountant.

  105. DreamT Says:

    zanon – I wrote: “The revolt was absolutely not due to ideological reasons, but financial (taxation) and political”
    Remove the taxation and political (governance) aspect, and the American revolution would not have happen, regardless of ideology. Period.
    Understand that “due to” and “motivation” have different meanings. I work due to the need to secure income, but the motivation for my working is a combination of the people and projects I work with, the sense of accomplishment and the difference I can make. Again, you’re misreading my post and misquoting me. Remember I wrote previously that ideology was used as one source of inspiration during the French revolution, but was not a cause of it?

  106. zanon Says:

    PRALAY: I can draw a clear thick direct line from DofI back to the non-conformist sect of Protestantism in England, and on back to Calvin. I cannot draw it further back. I can also draw it forward to A. Lewis (a Progressive) worrying about income inequality in 2009. This is a clear line in an unbroken tradition to me, but YMMV.

    I cannot extend that line to Greek, Rome, Buddhism, etc. If you can make the case, go for it.

    Islam, which I am most familiar with, is a bad example. They explicitly do not believe in the universal brotherhood of man.

    DreamT: The Loyalists would disagree. I recommend Hutchinson’s “Strictures upon the Declaration of the Congress at Philadelphia”. His claim is that the Patriots were ideologues spoiling for a fight, and inventing reasons for it in the face of very reasonable accommodation. There are other Loyalist texts from the period out there which make similar points, but they aren’t well known, written by history’s great losers.

    Not sure what you mean by Governance. If you mean that the Colonies were Governed badly (quality), again, the Loyalists would disagree and since we aren’t in a physics class and cannot run a controlled experiment, we’ll have to part ways, which is fine.

    If by you mean that the Colonies were ruled by a King (form) then we’re back at the crux of the issue, and firmly in the realm of ideology.

  107. Pralay Says:

    I can draw a clear thick direct line from DofI back to the non-conformist sect of Protestantism in England,
    ——

    And that “clear think direct line” is as much speculative as someone calling my actions “Hindu tradition”.

  108. Pralay Says:

    Islam, which I am most familiar with, is a bad example. They explicitly do not believe in the universal brotherhood of man.
    —–

    Some Christians must believed in universal brotherhood of man – unless of course the man was a slave. Right? Actually Islam believes in universal brotherhood too – but only within muslim men.

    See, everybody believes in universal brotherhood – as long as they can exclude a set of people for whatever reason.

  109. Real Estater Says:

    Pralay,

    Please take non-real estate related discussions elsewhere.

  110. nomadic Says:

    Go away, RE. This is an old thread. Discuss property on the new thread if you don’t like it.

  111. DreamT Says:

    shoo troll, shoo!

  112. Pralay Says:

    Please take non-real estate related discussions elsewhere.
    —–

    RealEstater,
    Last time checked you were not the owner of this blog. So keep barking.

  113. A. Lewis Says:

    Finally, it seems that taxes should only be discussed when you have a properly defined (with $ saving incentives) new expense to meet.

    Oh but we do, we do have such an expense! For good ness sakes, I’m not interested in higher taxes just for the fun of it!

    We do have expenses to meet (maybe they’re not new) – Healthcare, education, and the prevention of global warming are all underfunded necessities I want to pay for. I have some other budget items to slash to help (big subsidies for agribusiness, energy, and other industries), but by my math, we need some income tax increase to do these 3 properly.

    I also am in complete agreement with you on closing loopholes and simplifying the tax code to make it all hang together.

  114. DreamT Says:

    A., not having analyzed the current state budget, I won’t follow you there. :) Hopefully I answered you on income inequalities at least.

  115. A. Lewis Says:

    I think you answered me – it seems we’re pretty far apart on our evaluation – you don’t seem concerned about it as a systemic problem. I get the impression you think the free market for labor should basically set the prices of high and low-paid workers by itself, so there’s no point in advocating, as a bystander (instead of say, a stockholder) for changes in anyone else’s wages.

    Maybe I could get you on board with advocating for better incentives to companies for more equitable wages? Like enforcing the existing employment laws so they can’t exploit illegal immigrants with very low wages and no benefits. Or encouraging – somehow – companies to make long term sustainable profits, and tie C-suite salaries to that instead of the current system where pumping up things Enron-style for a couple of years can mean a $150M golden parachute if they time it right.

    And to talk more about the CA state budget, here are some other necessary expenditures I might feel compelled to raise taxes for: Public School funding, police and fire services, health care for poor children, maintenance for our roads & bridges, the water system, functioning courts and jails, and the state parks.

    I’m very worried about what the state budget crisis is going to do to MY kids’ elementary school, this year. They just become school-age, and it’s awfully frustrating that my fellow Calfornians have effectively been undermining the public school system for decades to present me with a decayed, poorly performing remnant. And I pay extra to live in the district.

    Now the housing bulls want to advocate I buy here and prop housing prices up? Let’s see how long this ‘good school’ can maintain in spite of continuing budget crises and the rule where you can never raise taxes unless a few Republicans want to. I’m starting to get the impression it’s on it’s last legs – not just a temporary setback.

    I’m looking to keep my options open – if I need to bail out to private school, I want to switch to the neighborhood next door that has the same low crime, but a mediocre school, and much lower rents (and home prices). It’ll be easier to move as a renter than an owner.

    I wonder if anyone else is making the same calculus I am?

  116. DreamT Says:

    A., “free market for labor” with the tax and governance reform I mentioned ;)
    I am all about advocating for better incentives for higher wages as well as equal compensation for equal contributions. I also favor law enforcement on companies that exploit illegal immigrants; but understand the tension here: on one hand, free trade pressures local companies out of business because they cannot compete with foreign companies at local wages; on the other hand, protectionism damages both our economy and foreign economies; and finally you just cannot reduce minimum wage. There’s a difficult balance to strike, and I don’t see it resolved by shutting down agriculture and construction in California. I’m no politician and don’t have an answer on this, my gut feeling just warns me on what the bad answers sound like.
    Regarding the budget, you’re suggesting to raise new taxes to cover existing expenses due to loss of revenue. You won’t see me agree on this, because these are not new expenses, unless as mentioned existing expenses are reformed with $ saving incentives. You’re listing a set of existing expenses and then trying to figure out how to pay for it. That’s the wrong approach to crafting a balanced budget. Most of these expenses can be reduced by reform without significant impact or even with improvement on the end service, but your approach is to blindly, artificially increase revenue (increase taxes) which only works short-term (taxes put a brake on recovery). I’m not against increasing taxes, but never as the initial approach to a problem because it doesn’t address the underlying inequities and inefficiencies, built over time by various interest groups.

  117. nomadic Says:

    Wow, DT, you should go into politics! :-)

  118. DreamT Says:

    nomadic – Isn’t it a prerequisite to be self-made / independently wealthy in order to go into politics? Since a lot of people equate wealth with credibility… :)

  119. Real Estater Says:

    Wealth does not equal credibility, but it helps…just like money does not buy happiness, but it helps.

  120. DreamT Says:

    My statement was about people’s perception of someone’s credibility. The stuff they think they know about you based on public tidbits.


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