TCS Daily


Politics and Cults

By Arnold Kling - January 9, 2008 12:00 AM

"The problem with the [Ron] Paul movement is that it has become a cult. Far too many of the cultists not only are willingly blind to their leader's faults but have also begun to internalize his beliefs as they justify his writings and actions."
--Ron Chusid,

I have always been interested in the phenomenon of cults. I have often tried to fight cult beliefs with logic, and I am used to getting bombarded with disappointed and/or angry email from people who subscribe to beliefs that I find illogical. Still, I should say that I have always had difficulty coming up with a good definition of "cult."

As an aside, Nobel Laureate George Akerlof also found the phenomenon of cults interesting. He gave a classic lecture on procrastination, in which he suggested that the process of joining a cult consists of thinking that you are temporarily suspending rationality but forgetting to lift the suspension. So, just as a smoker says "I really have to quit...tomorrow," a cult-joiner says, "Before I join this group, I really have to take a step back and question some of their strange beliefs...tomorrow."

Examples of Cults

The groups that have seemed most cult-like to me up close were the National Caucus of Labor Committees and Amway.

The National Caucus of Labor Committees was a Trotskyite group that formed around a man named Lynn Marcus in the 1970's. He gave talks at Swarthmore when I was there, and he was a spellbinding speaker. But my friend Jeff Frankel and I noticed that his followers lost interest in everything else, had no sense of humor, and believed strongly in conspiracies. Those were signs of a cult. Since then, the group has changed its political outlook and its leader changed his name to Lyndon LaRouche.

Amway, when I encountered it almost thirty years ago, was a well-known multi-level marketing organization. If you're not familiar with multi-level marketing, let me explain it this way. If you sell for an ordinary business, someone above you in the organization pays you, and you're better off if the number of other salespeople in your areas is limited. If you sell for a multi-level marketing outfit, you pay the person above you, and it seems as though what you want is for the number of salespeople in your area under you to be unlimited.

For the typical participant, multi-level marketing necessarily collapses for the same reason that chain letters collapse. If you thought it through logically, you would not become involved. So multilevel marketing organizations evolve cult-style indoctrination methods in order to get participants to suspend logical thinking. In fact, one of the saddest aspects about multi-level marketing is that when people become committed to it, they tend to shut off contact with all of their former friends, apart from trying to convince them to join the scheme.

What is a Cult?

So, I still have not defined "cult." For now, let's say that you are in a cult if you have a set of beliefs where your emotional defense mechanisms have shut down any receptivity to what others would consider reasonable doubt.

Again, I am not sure that this is a rigorous definition. If your doubts about the theory of evolution seem reasonable to you but not to me, does that mean that from your perspective I belong to the "cult" of evolution?

Are the global warming believers a cult? Are the deniers a cult? Both? Neither?

My opinion is that the believers are a cult, because in my view the doubts are more reasonable than the believers allow. Nonetheless, the believers may turn out to be right. Of course, if the believers do turn out to be right, then it will be difficult to argue that today's doubts are reasonable, and therefore it will be difficult to characterize believers as a cult.

The Fair Tax Cult

The responses I got to my essay on the Fair Tax from FairTax supporters seemed very cult-like.

My argument was one of simple logic and arithmetic. I pointed out that under our current tax system, a significant proportion of revenues come from taxes on high-earning, high-saving individuals. If we maintain the same level of government spending but switch from an income tax to a consumption-based tax, then government will lose a lose a lot of that revenue. To make up for that lost revenue, the government must collect more taxes from other people, primarily people lower down the income scale.

I'm not saying that I like our current tax system. I would prefer a consumption tax. However, I think that in order to get rid of the income tax, we need to reduce government spending. If we keep government spending where it is but get rid of the income tax, then you have to stick middle-income individuals with higher taxes. That is simple arithmetic.

The FairTaxers respond with all sorts of gobbledygook about "embedded taxes" and the like. I received several comments and emails, all with the same talking points. They said that I do not understand the details or the subtlety of the FairTax. But no details can be so subtle that they repeal the laws of arithmetic.

Mass Politics and Cults

Are all mass political movements cults? I tend to think so.

Many well-meaning libertarians signed on to the "Ron Paul revolution." At first, this only required accepting his pro-life and anti-immigrant stances as libertarian, contrary to the leanings of many libertarians. More recently, a journalist for The New Republic found some newsletters that were circulated under Ron Paul's name in the 1980's and 1990's that included angry, racist rhetoric. Ron Paul himself disclaims having such sentiments, and he says that the writing was the work of someone else operating with lax supervision.

I do not know Ron Paul. He may be wise. He may be decent. But to dismiss all doubts about his judgment and his character would be to succumb to a cult.

Let me hasten to add that I do not think of the Paul cult as unique. I am equally loathe to join the Clinton cult, the Obama cult, the Guiliani cult...you name it.

For me, democratic politics is a "lesser of evils" game, and I'm never sure how best to play it. But I have to say that when I read that this year's New Hampshire primary had a record turnout, it made my heart sink rather than warm. Not that I'm against voting, but I hate to think of people as buying into anyone's political campaign.

For libertarians, I recommend focusing on institutions that compete with government: families, private schools, charities, and religious organizations (short of becoming cult-like in your devotion). I recommend developing your logical reasoning skills and applying those skills to questioning what politicians say. But I do not recommend joining mass political movements. Instead, treat them as cults.

Categories:

70 Comments

Commitment is a cult?
You’re using the word cult in too broad a sense. Labeling X a cult merely stifles debate and avoids a discussion of the issues. I disagree with Paul but he deserves better than to be dismissed as a cult.

The Middle Class is Already Paying Most Taxes
"If we keep government spending where it is but get rid of the income tax, then you have to stick middle-income individuals with higher taxes."

"Embedded taxes" are gobbledygook? Who do think pays the other half of the 12.4% Social Security tax, the Unemployment compensation, the extra tax accounting and lawyers fees, etc. Companies and corporations do not create wealth, the employees do; the company does not create money, the customers of that company pay that company for products and services provided. All of the taxes paid by a company, including taxes paid as part of employee compensation, are passed on to the customer. All products of a company eventually must be purchased by an end user (consumer). Right now the U.S. Federal government taxes in layers all along this path and uses those taxes (and subsidies) to show favoritism to perceived friends and to punish perceived enemies.

In the end though, all of these taxes Trickle Down to the end consumer hidden in the price of the product so the end consumer is paying the tax anyway. You can argue that the end consumer would be shocked at the price they are paying for the Federal government:

U.S. Federal Government Budget - $3 Trillion
U.S. GDP: $13 Trillion
3/13 = 23%

OR

U.S. Federal Government Budget - $3 Trillion
U.S. Population - 300 million
$3T/300 million = $10,000 for every man, woman, and child.

Since most United States citizens are middle class , it is the middle class that is already paying the vast majority of Federal taxes. If the taxes that the middle class are already paying were unhidden by shifting all of them to an Personal Consumption Tax then the middle class would demand a reduction in the size and scope of the Federal and State governments.

Since most taxes are now hidden (or "embedded") in the price of products most middle class citizens think they are getting the Free Lunch and they will continue to ask for more from government because we all know we can just make the "Rich People" pay for it.

Just an aside, have you noticed that most of the Representatives in the U.S. Federal government are "Rich People". Well they must just like paying taxes so us middle class folks can have the Free Lunch, Right?

Thanx,

Kevin

Fair Tax + Negative Income Tax = ?
I'm a little iffy about the fair tax too. However, I do argue on my blog that if you combine it with a negative income tax for all, it counteracts many of the problems.

Ron Paul cult
It's phony to call his followers a cult. Maybe they just recognize in him a politician that is actually different for a change. They might like him too because he can put normal politicans on the spot with his economic thruths, for a change. Too bad more people weren't brave enough to vote for him.

Fair Tax + Negative Income Tax = ?
I'm a little iffy about the fair tax too. However, I do argue on my blog at www.zatavu.blogspot.com that if you combine it with a negative income tax for all, it counteracts many of the problems.

Bravo Professor
Mr. Kling is right at the end of this article. A few monts ago, I saw a 'Glenn Beck' program where he interviewed magician and liberatarian Penn Jillette. When Mr. Beck got to the (thorny) topic of drug decriminalization, Jillette brought up something I found profound. He mentioned a discussion of this issue with a friend who is a wealthy philanthropist. Mr. Jillette's friend asked what would be done with the 'crack babies', and Mr. Jillette said that people like the friend would be the ones for helping people in those situations. It occurred to me then that the liberatarians would be better to would on developing institutions and projects to solve problems OUTSIDE of government, rather than spend their time (and money) supporting the Ron Pauls of the world in trying to storm the castle and somehow restore us to the status of the pre-'Big Government' age of 100 years ago. (And how can they expect to do that without their being a large measure of chaos from a society not use to anything else.) We need to see that solutions to our social problems are possible without government involvement BEFORE anyone who would want to devolve the government. Otherwise, the 'cultists' for Rep. Dr. Paul will just look like the 'cultists' for anyone else. Only nuttier.

Foolish to vote for Paul, not brave.
I like Paul's economics, but his foreign policy scares me.

The USA tried his foreign policy up to 1917 and in the mid 1930s and look what happened.

If the USA could isolate itself and tell the world to pound sand, Paul's would be a good choice.

There can't be any solutions except government solutions.
That what we are all brainwashed to believe.

The only reason anything really works now is in spite of the government 'solutions'.

One great example is education. Those educated outside the public sector perform significantly better at much less cost.

Imagine how much better it would be if the government returned to its Constitutional functions.

nicely done!
You simplified a rather complex issue nicely. But there is a lot to consider that seems missing.

First off, your embedded tax point only applies to corporate portions of income taxes and all corporate taxes; it does not apply to the employee side, to those whose incomes come from other sources (non-earned income such as investments), etc. This makes up anywhere from 20% to 40% of the total taxes collected. Under the fair tax scheme, all of this revenue is lost to the government and either has to be recovered (through higher taxes for all or through budget cuts).

Now I understand that one of the reasons for the fair tax is to make taxes more transparant and give everyone a reason to want the government to cut that budget. A noble cause in my opinion. But I think everyone want to see the budget cut right now; they just don't want their pet project to be a part of that cut. Since some group or another is behind every program the federal government pays for, no system is going to "guarantee" a budget cut. Without a constitutional amendment setting in stone a tax system, and making illegal all others, the effect of the proposed tax plan would be null and/or devestating and accomplish nothing.

And it is the potential cost to the young worker and the poor that bothers me. They are going to take the initial hit and be hit hard by this.

Finally, I find it intersting that self-proclaimed "middle class" people are worried about the wealthy. It seems the wealthy in this country have never been devestated by taxes; even when they were taxed at a 90% rate.

I don't worry about the income of the wealthy or the established "middle-class"; I worry more about the effects on the new entry workers. They, even with a college education, are usually the lower paid in their fields. It can be hard enough to get started and "stand on your own two feet" the way things are now.

I do agree we need to completely overhaul the present tax system with a more transparant one. I would like to see all "embedded taxes" and BS fees eliminated in favor of a single tax program that is fully transparant. The undeniable fact is that the federal government alone "steals" nearly 25% of the GDP of this country. That is way too much. The other fact is that government at all levels is taking around 60% of GDP and that is criminal.

Wonderful Message!
How refreshing and uplifting, as the nation becomes mesmerized by the relentless cult-of-personality propaganda from the media and the huge amounts of money spent on identity politics. Stay focused on things other than this false display. Wonderful message. Thank you.

Good point
But it will take 50 years to create the reversal, unless you are all for 10-20 years of absolute chaos.

But, at the federal level, this is one area (education) that could be cut off completely, over a span of less than 5-years, and returned to state and local control. And a mandate at the federal level, that returns all control (and probably most of the funding) over to local school boards would keep "public" education in place and get results more in tune with private schools.

It should be noted that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and ideas that are later corrupted. One example is infrastructure. Without federal dollars, the interstate system would not have been built; nor would the paved roads in almost all rural states. This was the reason for the gasoline tax, but it has gone way beyond the intended purpose. Somewhere in the 70s, the people in more populous states wanted their peice of the pie and now some of those dollars are going to fixing streets in Boston instead of maintain and improving the interstate system.

Again, just one example.

Not True...
It is against simple economic principles to beleive that all hidden taxes are bourne by consumers (and I am an anti-tax person, in particular against corporate taxes). The reason is as follows:

Prices are set by the market, and are set to maximize profits. Raising prices often causes a drop in sales, which can minimize profits (this is why there prices cannot be unlimited). Thus, a company will only pass on taxes if the market will bear it.

A good example is that even though gas prices are at all-time highs, many commodities that depend on gas have not gone up much. A company will be willing to eat the tax (or any other price increase in raw materials) if passing the increase on to the consumer causes profits to drop in response to reduced sales (or overseas competition, where there may be no taxes). Thus, taxes are not necessariy bourne by the consumer, but may be bourne by the stockholders (in reduced dividends or capital gains).

Furthermore, the article is about income taxes, not social security taxes, which are in a different bucket. But again, some are ultimately paid by the employee (reduced wages), the business owner (reduced profits) or the consumer (increased prices) or a combination of all three. But you CANNOT assume that all taxes are ultimately paid by the consumer, as some are clearly paid by the owners of capital.

-Bob

If ignoring opposing information is evidence of cultlike mindset,
how do you explain Arnold's continued insistence on passing off bad information regarding the fair tax?

static analysis
Because of competitiveness issues, some industries may be forced to eat new taxes. However this can never be more than a temporary measure. Over time, lower than average investment in a particular industry will cause investors to invest somewhere else. The result is that productive capacity as well as the number of competitors will decline. Eventually this drop in capacity and competitiveness will allow prices to rise, restoring profitability to it's long term averages.

Same thing happens in reverse when taxes are cut. Excessive profitability attracts investment.

arithmetic is bad information?
I'm sorry, but if you think arithmetic is bad information and mumbo-jumbo about "embedded taxes" is good information, then we are just going to have to disagree.

I belong to the cult of arithmetic.

Goobledygook? .... Good Grief
The FairTaxers respond with all sorts of gobbledygook about "embedded taxes."

I expected better.

Single-issue stupidity
Fair tax? Not for it since it seems to ignore reality. Reduced government size and spending would be a great start with tax cuts for investments, capital gains, and a repeal of the death tax coming in a close second.

However, as much as you like the Fair Tax fantasy, how can you ignore the Ron Paul's obvious shortfalls? The guy is a lunatic. I must say he is right on the money on some issues, as are most libertarians, but then he jumps into the outer limits.

Single-issue voters are idiots. One needs to look at the whole platform of a candidate before voting. Those who pick Paul or Huckabee are such idiots.

And
...the employee 'contribution' of the payroll taxes ultimately get paid by the consumer, as well.

The consumer pays for much of the employee 'contributions' as well
The company passes along total labor costs as much as possible, this includes the higher wages it must pay for after-tax income demanded by workers as the labor market allows. So, if I figure I only get X-y in income and won't accept anything less, the employer has to fork over X still. Of course, with the economy soaring after those taxes are removed, wages will go up anyway. But that will be driven purely by the labor market and not some artificial wedge heaped on top of said labor market.

The owners of capital pay for the taxes in lost sales more so than in lost profits.
If labor costs (wages plus benefits plus taxes plus other compliance costs) are not covered in prices, then the company would not be in business for long unless it could figure out how to either become more labor-efficient (productivity) or outright cut those costs (outsourcing, eliminate health care, etc.). Since they can't eliminate taxes, well...if they are down to that bone and can't eliminate more then they operate in the red or outright go out of business.

So either the consumer bears those taxes ultimately, or what is to be consumed does not get produced or gets produced less well.

If the consumer does not have to pay all or at least most of those costs in these situations, then you are correct. But the costs get translated in less investment, less employment and other macroeconomic effects that aren't. Thus the 'costs' get burdened, either way.

So, you don't acknowledge embedded taxes?
High Paid Engineer makes $100k. Now, just look at the 'employer' contribution for that with FICA (what, about $13k?. Firm passes that along, or 'embeds' that cost in its prices.

Poor Welfare Person 'makes' $20k, buys products from the firm that pays High Paid Engineer.

Question: Who makes sure that Poor Welfare Person doesn't pay or at least gets rebated the costs of the product purchases that reflect the taxes aforementioned?

Answer: Nobody. Poor Welfare Person pays those 'embedded' taxes and perhaps state sales taxes on top of that.
But on Planet Arnold, its all 'gobbledygook', correct? There are no such thing as embedded taxes?

I'm not a true believer in the Fair Tax myself. But, I do acknowledge the hidden nature of embedded taxes from our tax code. The VAT system just makes it all more honest and straight forward, if not less hidden.

Consumers pay ALL taxes.
Corporations pay no taxes if they stay in business.

To Pauled
Finally, someone else who realizes that while it will be great to go to a limited government society like we should, it will take time and it will take work. If liberatarians as a movement, and Rep. Paul is guilty of it too, were truly serious, they would help us understand that we cannnot reverse a century of government expansionism overnight everything will be fine. We can start with what you said on education. As for infrastructure, maybe states should start keeping part of the the federal gasoline taxes they collect in the state. BUT it has to go to highways and mass transit, and nothing else.

On The Same Page
"Fair tax? Not for it since it seems to ignore reality."

Especially since implementation would require the repeal of the 16th Amendment, a circumstance I envision happening only shortly after pigs take flight. No congressional supermajority would approve such a proposal.

"[H]ow can you ignore Ron Paul's obvious shortfalls? The guy is a lunatic. I must say he is right on the money on some issues, as are most libertarians, but then he jumps into the outer limits."

I concur -- I'm sympathetic to quite a few libertarian positions, but the cultish mentality so many of those Devout Followers exemplify is a hugely detracting element to their otherwise agreable ideological stances. In that way, the Paulians are very much exempliary of the Randroid Objectivists who embody the same type of mindset. (A terriffic book which ably deconstructs the Rand/Objectivist phenomenon -- from which much of modern Libertarianism evolved -- is Jeff Walker's "The Ayn Rand Cult.")

"Single-issue voters are idiots. One needs to look at the whole platform of a candidate before voting."

I'd add that one needs examine the overall platform of an entire political PARTY (in practical reality, this means either Republican or Democratic since only one of those two will have majority status in gov't) when making voting decisions. [I refer people to radio commentator (and perhaps the smartest host on the air) Mike Rosen's very pragmatically apt ennunciation of why party is more important than person, especially when it comes to national politics:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1728426/posts

It pretty much sums up my thoughts on the notion of platforms and candidates.]

"Single-issue voters are idiots.... Those who pick Paul or Huckabee are such idiots."

That may very well be the case in some instances, but I'll add another aspect: those who pick Huckabee (or Hillary or Obama for that matter) are more prone (but certainly not universally) to support those candidates due to the "identity politics" angle those respective candidatorial camps provide. Perhaps that makes those supporters idiots as well...(!)

Fat chance
With all the narcissistic, nanny state baby boomers retiring, they will be whining for more government services.

agreed on one point, not the other
I agree with states and local governments keeping some of the gas taxes to use on their roads and mass transit. But "mass transit" is generally a city/county issue. I personally don't want to pay for New York's subway system or the Seattle Bus system. Seattle and New York need to figure that out and their people need to decide whether or not they will pay for it and how.

The easiest, and quickest, way to get this done is to return the responsibility and funding for these issues back to the local government and local people.

for example, Local school boards should be deciding what to spend and how to spend it to educate their kids; not federal government, state government or even county or city government. the bigger any entity gets, the more corruption and waste the system has. The only thing worse is the many b@st@rdized systems out there. Education is among the worst!

Each state is a bit different, but most have something like this.

We have local school boards making decisions, but only within the relms of what is allowed by the State and Federal governments. Federal government supplies money for certain programs and under certain criteria, so state government adopts those programs and criteria, adds some of their own mandates and passes them on to the individual school districts with their portion of federal money and the state funding.

The school districts have to set budgets and make decisions based on the funds and wiggle room left available. They are limited in what they can ask for (if allowed at all), from the people in their district, to suplement what is sent by the state and feds. Worse, most funding is based on a per-child formula. Every year numbers go up and down in various districts so any long-term planning by the school district is automatically out the door.

Enter the teacher's unions. They want all of the funding to go to their members. Any time the school gets any "New" dollars, the union immediately wants a raise equal to that ammount. Who cares if the building is falling down or they haven't bought new books in a decade.

Contrary to popular belief, teachers are not generally under paid. also contrary to that fact, some are grossly underpaid. Why? The formula! If you work in a smaller school district or one with a transient population, you will not receive the funding needed. At the same time, many states are taking a big chunk of property taxes to pay for the education system and they can't figure out why it costs them more than it cost the combined total of the the districts before the state took over funding (even adjusted for inflation). At the same time, the public is saying that is enough; no more for education as the state is already taking too much.

So these schools struggle to stay open and proved the required education and keep teachers at lower pay scales. Still, I don't really feel sorry for the schools. Many are their own worst enemies. Let's do the math:
A small school district has 200 students K-12. The state pays an average of $7,000 per student plus a base building subsidy of $100,000. That is $1.5 million. The school must have 18 teachers to maintain accreditation. At $30,000 per teacher, this is $540,000. Administration costs the school $150,000 and food services cost the school $150,000. Maintenence is another $200-$250K (including heat and electricty.) Extra-curricular activities are under $100,000. That leaves $400,000 for transportation, supplies, telephone and internet, technology and misc. Telephone and internet is probably around $3,000-$4,000 and misc. (Liability insurnace is a lion's share of that) shouldn't be over $50,000. Transportation around $100,000 (probably a bit less than that). that leaves, maybe, $247,000 for supplies and technology. But the school had better get a tech grant because 30-50 new computers alone will run $15-50K not including programs; and text books and paper can be expensive. Also, they are going to lose 20 students next year; a loss to the school of $140,000.

To remain accredited they can not RIF a teacher. How do you make that work?

Bigger schools should be better off, but they aren't. first off, they have additional issues to deal with. Most states have maximum class loads (around 25-30 per teacher in elementary and 35-50 for high school) Still, if you have 4,000 students and 10 buildings in the school district, you have over $30 Million to work with. Maximum teacher requirement give you a need for just 130 teachers. Figure $3 M for administration and $3M for extra-curriculars plus $1-2M for building maintenence. Why are they crying for dollars? At $40,000 per teacher, they are paying just $5.3 million in "must have" teacher salaaries. Even if they have double the teachers required, it is only a bit under $11 million. their total budget should be less than $20M. Well, they have two problems; the teachers make an average of $60,000 and they have more electives in high school and more porgrams in elementary. Each of these has to have at least one teacher. Therefore, they are actually paying over $15M in teacher salaries. Their administrators also make more, so figure $5M for administrative. Suddenly that school district with 20 times the student body and 20 times the income is actually paying out 25 times the amount in salaries and is also struggling.

Two ways to fix the problem. 1. Unified teacher, classified staff (aides, janitors, food service) and administrative pay. Everyone makes the same, base and steps and lanes, no matter where they tework. You could add a minimum Variable Housing Allowance for those living in higher housing priced areas if there seems to be a need. then you budget each school based on number of classrooms (teachers) required plus a little extra so bigger schools can still offer, at least some of, those extra electives and programs.
2. Get the feds and the state out of it. Leave it all to the local school districts. They must run only on permissive levies and those levies have to be voted on every time there is an increase needed or every 4-years whether asking for an increase or not.

taxes and the cost of goods
Taxes affect the cost of goods.

If I acknowledge that, will the FairTaxers acknowledge that 2 = 2 = 4?

typo
What I meant to ask was if FairTaxers would acknowledge that 2 + 2 = 4

politics
a) Thanks for calling him pro-life and not anti-abortion.
b) I'd sooner trust a businessman than a politician.

Your arithmetic is bad, because you didn't do all of it
You claim to be an economist, yet you don't believe that the cost of taxes that a company pays are embedded in the products they sell?

Are there any other free lunches that you believe in?

In other words, you will stop being dishonest if the other guys agree to your definitions of taxes?
If you believe that 2 = 2 = 4, then no wonder that you believe that companies can pay taxes without having to adjust their prices.

see what I mean about a cult mindset.
Don't deal with other people's arguments, just declare them to be gobbledygook.

re Obvious Ron Paul shortfalls
You guys keep mentioning these lunatic shortfalls that are so obvious. But could you remind us what they are again?

That is an inherently dishonest comparison
There are two ways to calculate this percentage.
You insist one way is correct.
They insist the other way is legitimate.

Mischaracterizing the arguments of the other side is one of the hallmarks of cultish thinking.

not to mass transit
Mass transit riders don't pay gas taxes, they shouldn't get any of the benefit from them.

If mass transit can't survive without subsidies, it should be allowed to die.

aren't all religions cults?
At least the monotheistic ones...

Go to his site...
where his wonderful views are on full display.

He is completely wrong about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and is parroting the conspiracy theories I hear on Air America. His crackpot foreign policies would leave us vulnerable in a world that is dangerous. Ron is not unlike Roy in this aspect as he believes that all animosity for America in this world is a result of American involvement. This is my biggest beef.

He has no grasp of the realities of a global economy. Sure, free trade is great but only if everyone does it. Ronnie believes that unilateral free trade is somehow a good thing.

He would cripple our intelligence services and has a somewhat interesting view of SSNs and HIPPA regulations. He believes insurance companies having access to your medical information is an invasion of your privacy. I wonder how Ron would suggest that insurance companies pay claims? Populism is about greivance, not solutions and this is one of those topics.

He is anti-corporation when he speaks. He makes business the enemy of the people in one policy and government in another. This seems to me to be trying to be all things to all people.

Pro-life. I hate abortion but I am also of a mind that you cannot tell other people what to do with their bodies. Period.

All that said, Ron Paul is right on with home schooling, healthcare, immigration, and many other areas where he firmly stands on libertarian virtues. But his shortfalls far outweigh his good points. And THAT being said, I must say I am impressed with some of his views. He apparently has good days and clear thoughts as well as bad days and populist thoughts.

Embedded taxes
is just a code-name for paying for middle-class entitlements. Why don't you want to drop them instead of making false claims about who pays the most in taxes in this nation?

Totally correct, Mr. Jay A
I've also been saying this (though I don't think I say it here at TCS) forever, it seems.

I despise almost everything government does or attempts to do. But, we are now so entangled in it all that everything would have to be "phased out" over a good many years and over more than one Presidential term.

FYI, I think that Ron Paul must know this. My guess is that he doesn't focus on saying that because he believes, probably rightly, that it would put most people off. Americans love quick fixes--which is exactly why government is too big already.

In Fairness to Arnold,
I did not get the impression at all that he was saying that companies can pay taxes without having to adjust their prices. I think, moreover, that he was taking that fact for granted, which is why he calls this talk of "embedded taxes" supergoop or whatever he called it.

Mostly in agreement
Choosing Ron Paul is, in fact, the least of all the evils being offered to us this time around. The guy is hardly an "idiot"; he is merely imperfect.

I don't like his proposed foreign policy, I don't like his intent to immediately withdraw from Iraq, and I sure as hell disagree with his pro-life stance. Apart from that, I love most of what he has to say.

I don't believe that he would try to instantly cut government by 70%, for the simple fact that he must know that that would be impossible. I think he simply doesn't talk about all the opposition he would have to overcome in the dip-**** Congress.

It is very important
not to make a cult out of bashing supposed cult mindsets.

If something is gobbledygook, then it is. That does not necessitate any kind of "cult mindset".

Take 98% of everything Roy writes and 100% of everything Eric used to write: gobbledygook!

goobledegook
If as you say, Arnold does believe that companies have to adjust their prices when taxes change.

Then why is it that Arnold declares that it is nothing more than goobledegook to insist that embedded taxes be removed from the price of goods before adding back in the fair tax?

Fair Tax--juat another case where politicians mess with the rules and rates
Want to see tax reform occur? Repeal withholding, and make everyone make quarterly payments including Social Security. Set it up so there are an equal number of people filing each month, not all at once. TV news will certainly find a single mom who's car is being taken by the IRS for unpaid taxes. When everyday people finally learn how much they pay in taxes, SOMETHING WILL BE DONE about government spending, but not until then.

The Fair Taxers themselves quote both, because whichever is used is irrelevent to their main points
http://www.fairtax.org/site/News2?news_iv_ctrl=1541&page=NewsArticle&id=8248

Looks like they are doing the math at 2+2=4 to me, and being quite honest about it.

And, it has nothing to do with whether a tax is quoted from an inclusive (23%) or exlusive (30%) poi
...

In defense of Roy...
...I can't believe I'm doing this, but:

Roy at least has done some homework before arriving at his beliefs. One can fault him for his resultant analysis and even declare it faulty (I do all the time), but he usually doesn't just throw garbage out there for the sake of throwing garbage, like Eric did all the time and Stephen does quite a bit of the time (IMO).

Nooo...
The best way to determine cult status is to check out their prescriptions on morality. If a group has a self-serving morality, and in particular, one that serves the leader of the group, then it might be a cult, especially if there is a secretive aspect.

The REAL CULT: The Republican Party.
The Republican Party is the REAL CULT!!! Here is my proof:
1. Iowa:Ron Paul failed. Voters picked the Mr TAX and SPEND, buddy up to the NEA, Earth is between 5000 and 12000 years old, Candidate of Jesus. Good show there Republicans! You know those winners!!!!
2. New Hampshire:Ron Paul failed badly. Instead of a candidate for sound economics and less empire, they picked More Troops McCain, AGAIN!!!! Before that it was Pat Buchannan. And these are less taxes, less regulations, get the government off my back Republicans?

Face it, the Republican Part is falling apart. Ron Paul tried to keep it together with radical, yet rational solutions DIFFERENT FROM THE DEMOCRATS!!!! The Welfare for Jesus Candidate and the Warfare for Peace Candidate have beaten him.

Not a good day for liberty, justice, prosperity and peace at all!!!!!

All this just as the economy is falling into a recession.

I think
your view of the world is a bit distorted.

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