Tag Archives: iron man

Bachmannalia

Michelle Bachmann has some interesting ideas on how to pay for the Iraq war, namely, the Iraqis should pay for it:

It’s over 800 billion dollars that we have expended [in Iraq]. I believe that Iraq should pay us back for the money that we spent, and I believe that Iraq should pay the families that lost a loved one several million dollars per life, I think at minimum.

It's been a long time that she has superpassed plausible parody; why not just run Stephen Colbert in her place.

On the bright side, however, she seems to think at least that the war has cost money.

Iron man versus straw man

Here is serial straw manner George F.Will on Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senate in Massachussetts:

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. . . . You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Warren is (as William F. Buckley described Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith) a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

In large part the straw man diagnosis is purely factual: does arguer A hold position p?  You merely have to go and check (um, editors?  fact checkers?).  Rarely does a serial straw manner such as Will make it so easy.  For Will's favorite straw man version is the hollow man–the variety of the straw man which attacks positions no arguer is alleged to hold.  Here we have Warren's actual words.  Sensisble or not (hey, I think they are and I've been making that argument for years, before it was cool), she is not asserting anything like what Will is saying.  

Worse than this, is the way Will poses the iron man–the egregiously charitable reading of his own team's view–next to the straw man of the other team.  Few in the Republican establishment seem to endorse that part about paying it forward via taxes, or that social infrastructure spending, education spending, etc., serves the purpose of individual striving.

See other commentary here, here, and here.

It belongs to him

In the "can't tell if troll category" here is Michelle Bachmann on taxation:

KELLY: Thanks, Bret.

Congresswoman Bachmann, after the last debate, a young member of the California Tea Party said he didn’t feel he had had his question fully answered. And it’s a question that received the most votes on Google and YouTube on the list, as well. The answer his question is a number. And the question was, quote, “Out of every dollar I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?”

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN.: And after the debate, I talked to that young man, and I said I wish I could have answered that question, because I want to tell you what my answer is: I think you earned every dollar. You should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That’s your money; that’s not the government’s money.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s the whole point. Barack Obama seems to think that when we earn money, it belongs to him and we’re lucky just to keep a little bit of it. I don’t think that at all. I think when people make money, it’s their money.

Obviously, we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government, but we have to have a completely different mindset. And that mindset is, the American people are the genius of this economy. It certainly isn’t government that’s the genius. And that’s the two views.

President Obama has embraced a view of government-directed temporary fixes and gimmicks. They don’t work. He’s destroyed the economy. What does work is private solutions that are permanent in the private sector. That gives certainty; that will grow our economy.

(APPLAUSE)

This is idiocy of the highest order–both question and answer.  For the idiocy of the question, listen to Elizabeth Warren.  Concerning Bachmann here, three obvious–and I think disqualifying for the job of Congressional janitor–logical problems.  (1) Obama doesn't think anything like what she alleges and (2) she thinks there ought to be taxation but people should keep all of the money they earn; (3) the red herring at the end urging that the private sector ought to fix the economy.

Sadly, over at TPM, a site I can't figure out, here is the headline: "Michelle Bachmann: Taxpayers Ought to Keep Every Dollar They Earn."  She does not actually put the matter in this obviously self-contradictory way ("taxpayers should not be taxpayers").  But she does say something idiotic.  And the most idiotic thing I think is the last bit about how doing nothing about the economy is what ought to be done.  Yet, sadly again, in most of the stories I surveyed this morning about this quote (googling the quote that is), the end bit was cut off. 

My own view is that the straw manner (such as Bachmann obviously is) deserves no charity; but that I'm going to predict is what people will object to about this story–"Bachmann misquoted!"  This misquote will justify the iron man in their mind.  And this is sad, I think. 

Corporations are people

No, Mitt Romney, they're not really.  They're completely unlike people in almost every way.  They may, however, involve people, real people, at some stage in the process.  But this doesn't mean the corporation simply is the people who work there.  That would be, er, communism or socialism.  In a recent add, Romney says:

At just over the halfway mark, Romney declares: "Businesses are comprised of people. I'm talking about repair shops, and gas stations, and beauty salons, and restaurants. I'm talking about Apple computer, and Facebook, and Microsoft. I'm talking about businesses that employ people. It's really astonishing to me that the Obama folks would try and argue that businesses aren't people. What do they think they are? Little men from Mars? But when they tax business, they tax people."

Well, this is different from "corporations are people."  But it's still equally wrong.  It's wrong now because repair shops and gas stations really don't belong in the same category as Microsoft, etc..  More to the point, the problem with this new formulation is positively Clintonian–it depends on what the meaning of "is" is.  Corporations involve people; sometimes lots of people, transnationally.  But they are certainly not identical with them in the narrow sense of identity Romney seems to suggest.  Anyway. 

On this same point, here is an epic Iron Man (by a liberal commentator, of course–it's a disease they have) of Romney's argument:

Matthew Zeitlin has a nice New Republic post on the Romney “corporations are people” clip and the very real “hack gap” between Democratic and Republican parties.

The title of my own comment on this imbroglio, Separating the wheat from the gaffe, telegraphs my view. What Romney said is obviously true, and everyone who thinks seriously about economic policy understands it. Taxes on corporations fall on the owners of corporations and on other stakeholders. On the specifics, this particular attack on Romney is devoid of substance.

So the taxes fall on their "owners" (who sometimes aren't even actual people), but this doesn't mean corporations are people too.  It means, at some level, they involve people.  No one denies that.  They object to the way they involve those people.