Skip to main content

All too often I hear the, so called, progressives framing the issues of compassion in terms of taking from the rich.  I wonder if it even matters that we "justify" such actions by alleviating conditions of poverty.  While such a scheme is probably righteous in some religious circles it is not necessarily just and fair.  And when the "progressive movement" transgresses upon the boundaries of justice and fairness I, for one, become less enamored.  For me this lack of support for "progressives" happens because I know that almost all of the problem of poverty and inequality of opportunity can be eliminated without this indiscriminate blackjacking of the rich. Assuring equal opportunity is not the same thing as showering the poor with goodies simply because they are poor; it is not the same thing as nurturing and feeding those that refuse to contribute to the society.  Opportunity and equal justice matters.  Outcomes are not guaranteed.

Equal opportunity has to do with the idea of realistic entitlement and the definition of earned and unearned.  And the natural world is an entitlement that is given by nature or by the almighty to all of us equally.  They put that word "natural" in front of that word "resources" to signify that the resource is totally unearned and that the "ownership" of it (and that term actually does not apply) is vested in the entire community.  Natural resources are the things that exist without any contribution from any person and this lack of contribution is a  hallmark of the word "unearned".  Access to the natural world (natural resources) is the realistic entitlement of all citizens of any sovereignty.  It can be argued that sovereignty has nothing to do with it and that all the peoples of the earth have an equal and moral claim on all the natural resources but religion and culture prevent that.

This "equal right" does not extend across political and religious barriers.  Morality in New Deli is different from morality in Jerusalem and that is different from the morality of Istanbul and New York.  The word "morality" is from the Latin "moralis" which means "of manner and custom".  Religious beliefs inform and control "manner and custom" and so each sovereignty has its own idea of righteousness and its own way of dealing with entitlement to natural resources.  Religion trumps economics every time. And so we address life in these here United States as opposed to the entire world.  

Let's begin with something very obvious.  Let's begin with oil.  The oil is a natural resource and it is the equal right of every American voter to use, abuse, waste, preserve, or consume all of the oil within the political boundaries of the United States (democracy matters). And all of the proceeds from the sale and consumption of oil (less the cost of finding it and extracting it) should be equally distributed to all American voters.  If the proceeds from the consumption of oil are redistributed equally then those who use a lot of oil directly or indirectly will be subsidizing the poor who do not guzzle oil.  Most certainly this is true of oil in the north slope, the arctic regions, Gulf of Mexico, offshore Florida, and offshore California. But it is also true of the oil under the land owned by Mr. Texas rancher. So long as the extraction of the oil does not interfere with the ranching then the oil should be available to all persons of the sovereignty.  Many would argue that the ranch itself is a natural resource and not subject to privatization any more than the oil.  But American morality will not yet allow this redistribution of land rent.

The discussion of the oil is important in the discovery of truly unearned income and the Texas ranch owner will be the example.  The rancher (who no longer ranches because he gets $50K per week in oil royalties), could be comatose and he would still get the royalties. He made no investment in creating, finding, or extracting the oil and he does nothing to "provide" the oil at all.  Further, if the $50K of income was taxed at 80% the oil would still flow as before and the land owner would still get $10k a week for doing the same nothing that he is currently doing.  Gasoline will still cost the same amount as it does now and the only difference is that the poor (and the rest) will be receiving their/our natural entitlement.  And if all of the natural entitlement were redistributed in this way (all land rent and extraction fees) then there would be very few poor people and those that were poor would probably be poor because they choose to be poor, i.e. because they actually choose to live a very poor existence instead of contributing to the society and earning more. Redistribution of natural entitlement is not a robbery of the rich, but a redistribution of that which naturally belongs to all the people.  The redistribution of unearned income is a rational mechanism to eliminate poverty and it is not an indiscriminate attack on the rich.  It is an attack on privilege that arises primarily through the abuse of government and the privatization of the commons.

While a very progressive income tax is seen as the "one size fits all" solution to the problem of unequal opportunity it should be augmented with a natural resource recovery system.  Land and oil and gold and trees in the national forests are natural resources that simply are not subject to private ownership.  These resources are not earned in that they occur naturally and the administration of these resources is the province of the elected government.  It is therefore possible to have much more equal opportunity through natural entitlement.

High income people who actually earn their incomes should not to be the indiscriminate targets of taxation, but there is a definite limit to how much a person can actually earn.  When I was younger and a lot smarter I was paid for developing software and providing software development support services.  Then came the H1B's and I decided I'd rather drive a truck.  My income was less than half of what it had been as a technoid and my work week was 70 hrs instead of 40.  But I also got to see all of the USA and I derived enjoyment from the beauty of the country and I liked the solitude and the fact that nobody was on my case all the time about doing the impossible. If a reduction in the income I received from being a technoid  would not have resulted in my choosing to drive a truck then some amount of that income would have been unearned.  In other words, if i would have done the job for less as opposed to changing to doing something else then I was being overpaid.  And the amount of excess is defined by many as unearned.  If a Baseball player will chose to sell insurance instead of playing baseball because his income in excess of $1M per year is taxed at 80% then he must be earning the excess income.  If he does not elect such a change then the income is not earned, i.e. he enjoys the game and would rather play than sell insurance.  The same is true for CEO's and others who supposedly earn their wages. A CEO is not going to turn to selling insurance because his salary above a million a year is taxed at 80%.

Supply side, trickle down economics is a total lie and a sham and it has been used by the Republicans to enhance the wealth of the nobility of the USA. The lie was that rich people would invest and that this would make all boats rise.  Well, they saw to investment in China and India and Mexico and now all the middle class boats are sinking faster and faster.  And to a great extent they really didn't invest at all.  Most of the investing was done with money created from the ether.  When you give rich people a tax break on unearned income then they have more money.  What happens next is probably bad forr all but the rich who want to stay rich and get richer.

The proper way to get the money back is to simply print more of it and distribute it at the bottom of the economic ladder as opposed to the top.  The "stimulus" and many more like it and much larger is part of a the proper methodology to recoup what has been stolen by the Republicans and their backers.  The other key is the taxation of private income derived from the ownership of natural resources and the taxation of truly  unearned income at the top.  Instead of spending money into existence via the occupation of Iraq we should spend money into existence through education, research and development of pharmaceuticals, the construction of a decent power grid, high speed rail for freight, wind and solar energy, and a multitude of other things that enhance the quality of life and the productivity of America.  We do not need more interstate highways.  We need to get the trucks off of the highways we have.  I hope the "progressives" will stop screeching about rich people and "oh poor me" and actually use their alleged minds to help create real PROGRESS.  Because it looks more and more like the opportunity for real change is at hand.

Originally posted to TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:20 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  First things first (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, Dude1701

    Why wait until 2012 to roll bcak the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy?  Taxes on truly unearned income do not harm the economy in the least.

    "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

    by TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:21:33 PM PST

  •  Mr. Texas Rancher (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl

    is rather unlikely to own the rights to the oil under his land.  If he does, he incurred a rather large risk in finding it there.

    •  I actually know Mr. Texas Rancher personally (0+ / 0-)

      And I assure you that he inherited his ranch and the mineral rights as did his father before him.  And, BTW, the point is that the privatization of the income is an economic travesty regardless of WHO "owns" the rights.  Such income is the quintisential example of UNEARNED.

      "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

      by TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:40:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  At what point (0+ / 0-)

        did Stephen King's fabulous income pass the threshold from earned into unearned?  Or Paul McCartney's?  I think the distinction you wish to make is not as clear as you think.

        •  Its actually is quite clear in regard to taxation (0+ / 0-)

          Extreme incomes can be taxed without harmful effects on the economy provided that the proceeds are properly employed to enhance infrastructure.  The "thresholds can be detarimed as fixed proportions above the mean. Natural resource rents and depletions do not even have such a test.

          "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

          by TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:48:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  It creates market distortions. (0+ / 0-)

        If the guy can make 100 on oil royalties and 30 by farming dirt, the aftertax calculations favor farming dirt, thereby depriving society of the more valuable commodity.

        "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

        by burrow owl on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:43:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! (0+ / 0-)

          It actually removes the current distortions.  If the guy can rent out the land to a farmer and at the same time get royalties from the oil (and that is the case) then that is what he will do.  All of the income is unearned.  The actual farmer EARNS the 30 and pays taxs on it a a much lower rate.

          "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

          by TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:59:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Read Polyani's (0+ / 0-)

    The Great Transformation.

    The notion that land, labor, water, animals, and air are commodities in which exchange value trumps use value for the maintenance and expansion of the former at the expense of the latter is a relatively new idea in human history.  And it is one that has had, and continues to have, some pretty enormous consequences, some good, some not so good.

    "Capital consists of living labor serving dead labor for the maintenance and expansion of the latter." --Karl Marx

    by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:33:30 PM PST

    •  Doesn't their exchange value stem directly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheTrucker

      from their use value?  Oil isn't valuable because we like to look at it; it's because its a highly useful materiel.

      "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

      by burrow owl on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:46:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Use value involves (0+ / 0-)

        a circuit where money capital is only a means of measuring and storing value as a lubricant to exchange; with exchange value the expansion of money-capital becomes an end unto itself.

        It's C-M-C as opposed to M-C-M+.

        And use value and exchange value don't always run parallel to one another.  United Fruit on more than one occasion destroyed product rather provide for people's needs, however obvious they might be, because destroying supply kept the operation highly profitable.  Home Depot destroys products everyday that could satisfy human needs--just walk into the back of the store need the loading dock and you can see the compactor (with a lock on it so no one's kid falls down it!).

        "Capital consists of living labor serving dead labor for the maintenance and expansion of the latter." --Karl Marx

        by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:10:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  All value is use value (0+ / 0-)

        But that has little to do with EARNING and privatization.  The creation of a market for oil was not CAUSED by the oil people though it was proabably enhanced by them and is probably still so enhanced.  The value of oil was a natural outgrowth of the industrial revolution and increasing population.  The "value" of natural resources is a direct result of population growth and, in this case, the things that were done to provide for (and exploit) the expanding population.

        "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

        by TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:14:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you God! (0+ / 0-)

    And the natural world is an entitlement that is given by nature or by the almighty to all of us equally.

    Now, go visit the Virgin Mary.

    Forthcoming from the Orange Press: "Planet Marx."

    by Trotsky the Horse on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:36:57 PM PST

  •  I believe the term for what is proposed in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheTrucker

    international law circles is "creeping expropriation."

    "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

    by burrow owl on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 02:41:27 PM PST

  •  One of many errors (0+ / 0-)

    in this diary is that it ignores the costs and labor employed in the extraction of a commodity from nature  by the landowner or those who have bought the rights to use the land, and those employed to expedite said labor.  It is the very value of the land, expressed in the owners income, that allows investments toward extraction of natural resources to begin with.

    Remember also that land is used, sometimes to live on, and what you propose seems to allow for essentially anyone to trample on your ability to live where you choose by effect of exchanged value, because "the land" is everyone's, and therefore not really anyone's.  This is the argument for Immanent Domain, a despicable doctrine that is often abused in order to eject the poor from property the city or state wants rich folk to live on (in order to extract higher property taxes and attract development).  Initially it was designed to allow for the construction of infrastructure, but even this is sometimes done to disproportionately favor a specific demographic (like the rich).  Preventing such abuse is problematic at best.

    Rabid imperialist at the fringe

    by Arculi on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:05:38 PM PST

    •  Are you mistaken or lying? (0+ / 0-)

      in this diary is that it ignores the costs and labor employed in the extraction of a commodity from nature  by the landowner or those who have bought the rights to use the land, and those employed to expedite said labor.  It is the very value of the land, expressed in the owners income, that allows investments toward extraction of natural resources to begin with.

      The "land owner" is typically paid by the prospectors (I used to work for an oil exploration company) for the right to "explore for the oil".  The land owner is then paid to "allow" the oilk people to drill and extract the oil.  The land owner makes no contribution whatever to the finding or the extraction of the oil.

      Have you actually have chosen to lie about what I have plainly said:

      And all of the proceeds from the sale and consumption of oil (less the cost of finding it and extracting it) should be equally distributed to all American voters.

      I'm afriad that it is you who are in error here whether the owner paid the costs or not.  I already covered it.

      Then you travel into the ownership of the land surface itself and the segway of the mean old nasty gummint throwing the widows and the ophans into the street for the sake of the new highway. The abuse of eminent domain happens because the wealthy and the powerful have too much control over government.  And the wealthy and the powerful are composed primarily of the land owners and the developers.  They use neoclassical economists to protect their privileged positions.

      "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

      by TheTrucker on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:45:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site