Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

A Minor Political Screed

Hemos posted about 14 years ago | from the this-is-gonna-spark-something dept.


A note from Hemos: The following piece came to me as a personal letter from David Brin. David is a prominent scientist and author of best-selling novels like The Postman, who has shared entertaining and provocative views with us in the past. His letter struck us as so biting and timely that we asked permission to post it before the whole Slashdot community, in order to provoke your rambunctious discussion. David graciously agreed, on condition that you all remember, it was written first of all as a private person sharing his "cranky political opinions" with a few friends. "It goes over the top in a few places," he warned. "First draft expressions of outrage tend to be that way." So as friends, let's not get too vexed with him. Above all David is interesting, as usual....


Hello all. Here's hoping that autumn 2000 finds you well as we continue our transition into a new century.

Has anyone noticed something interesting? The complete lack of any voices proclaiming that December 31, 2000 is the _real turn of the century? Odd huh? I haven't heard a single call to celebrate this formal milestone -- even as a simple excuse to have another party! You'd expect at least for some Society of Nit-Pickers & Pedants to do so..

Anyway, whenever it's time to bid adieu to the Summer Olympics and prepare for Halloween, you can be sure that we in the USA are also approaching another bizarre ritual - our quadrennial presidential elections.

As usual, there is the politics you see on the surface... and what's going on below. Issues that get little play in the press. Issues that are really driving the deep agenda of one party or the other.

I've noticed one of these. And it bothers me enough to provoke spending an evening to pen this letter, offering a comment or two, in case some of you are interested.


Something strange is going on in the States (for those of you who live outside and cannot feel it in the air.) Times are good and that tends to seep some passion out of the political contest. Also, nobody is particularly scared of the choices being offered. Or excited, for that matter.

True, almost everyone agrees that Al Gore has about twice the IQ of George W Bush, more experience and a much better idea what's going on. Some call him "overqualified the same way Spock was, to be captain of the Enterprise, and therefore unromantic, a rather unpalatable choice for those preferring the zing of human fallibility in their leaders.

(See the latest issue of Yahoo Internet Life Magazine for a fascinating interview that seems to support this view.)

But for those who worry about George W's paucity of intellect, do not fret. By nominating Richard Cheney as his running mate, Bush quite properly signalled that he is front man for a brain trust that has considerable experience and knowledge about the workings of policy and government. As they did under Ronald Reagan, these gray eminences will handle most decisions with utter seriousness. They are not scary madmen or boat-rockers.

Government will function either way. To a large degree (at least compared to past empires) it will leave us pretty much alone. Those of us in the middle class, that is.

Then why am I writing now? Clearly I care, and wish to influence your vote, speaking openly, as one citizen to another.


Well, for one thing, I utterly reject the silly platitude going around that says the republican and democratic parties are just the same. What hogwash!

On the left, some males swallow this romantic twaddle and go running off to Ralph Nader, seeing him as a Don Quixote-type, ignoring his programmatic vagueness, his oversimplifying demonization of markets and his many questionable personality traits. Very few women seem to have joined the Nader campaign. Maybe because they are more practical, knowing that the next president will appoint at least three Supreme Court justices. I've seen quite a few buttons saying "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid."

That issue, alone, should eliminate any thought of voting Republican this year.

But there is another, far more important reason. It has to do with a blatant attempt at social engineering that none of us should like or put up with. An effort to fundamentally alter a social contract that has done very well by America and the West for several generations.


Look at the difference between European and American societies. Both have changed considerably since World War II by becoming much less pyramidal and more "diamondlike".

Some of you may have heard me talk about this before. It's an obvious metaphor for our unique culture. Throughout history, almost every civilization had a social structure shaped like a pyramid, with a few at the top lording it over uneducated masses below. And it was in the best interest of those on top to make sure those masses stayed down. Social position was inherited. Above all, information flows were tightly controlled.

In sharp contrast, our contemporary social pattern is diamond-shaped. For the first time, the well off actually outnumber the poor, at least inside our national borders. The educated outnumber the uneducated, and those who see themselves as somewhat empowered make up a majority. For the first time, most people merely envy the rich and do not hate them, because each of us can daydream taking our own turn in the pointy upper half. And if not us, then perhaps our children. It's called "social mobility" and it never happened before - at least not on this scale.

Above all, we feel that society's elites are somewhat accountable - or at least they are limited in the degree that they can use their elevated position to wreak capricious and direct harm on us, unlike the impunity that cloaked aristocracies in pyramidal cultures of the past.

(Harm done to the earth is another matter, we can discuss elsewhere.)

People who rage at "government bureaucrats" seldom stop to think how little those bureaucrats can actually do to harm you, compared to the impulsive power-abuses of aristocrats and oligarchs in nearly every past culture. And not too long ago! Forget Caesar and Louis XIV. Read Dickens, Jane Austin, Faulkner, Steinbeck! Hell, look at Myanmar and China today. It's like peering into a strange and desperately lopsided world -- the world that all our ancestors toiled in, friends. We are the ones living in an anomaly. The social engineering that occurred since WWII -- through marvels like the GI Bill, the explosion of literacy and expanded state universities, etc. -- caused a peaceful revolution in human affairs that was unprecedented across all time. And unlike other revolutions, it happened without much violence or bitterness. This revolution benefited those below without tearing down those above. We ought to appreciate such a marvel; it's incomplete, by a large margin, but it's also quite unprecedented. Our diamond-shaped social structure, with its implication that any of us may succeed next year, promotes a vibrant, can-do spirit that makes vigorous use of tools like mutual criticism and accountability. And note this symptom of health -- America has seen a burgeoning in the number of millionaires, but the vast majority of them made their own fortunes in the marketplace, through competitive delivery of goods and services.

Hey, that's what capitalism is supposed to be for, right? We can (and should) argue all day about how to help the poor. But at least their brightest sons and daughters already have a much better chance than the peasant kids did in the past. Every year, some of the best (or luckiest) make it all the way to the top. And countless sons of the rich find themselves having to earn it all over again.

*=> In Europe, by contrast, a majority of millionaires inherit their riches. Studies show that few of them seek to learn useful occupations or do anything dynamic with their fortunes. They do work hard at politics, striving to keep property and inheritance taxes low, while sticking the poor with high sales taxes. This way, they will be able to pass on their money, titles and life-style as entitlements to their lordly kids without impediment or inconvenience.


Don't get me wrong! I have every intention of getting into the upper brackets myself. I've already made some progress in that direction. And I plan to be sure that my children get some advantages from my success. But that's a far cry from entitling them to billions from goods and services they never did a thing to produce or provide to anyone. My success does not entitle them to a position in life that safeguards them from competition.

I lived in the U.K. when Margaret Thatcher succeeded in ramming through a bill ending all property taxes. The chief beneficiaries were 1,000 landed families who no longer had to worry about actually earning some money to keep their grand estates. The chief effect? An increase in the VAT paid by normal folks... oh, and many castles and manor houses stopped having open house days, since they no longer had to earn tourist dollars to pay the rates! Oh boy, now the art collections could go back to being "for our eyes only!"

Here in the States you see the same movement at work. Lots of "Simple Tax Plans" take advantage of citizens' (justified!) anger at tax code complexity, pandering to that anger by pushing a National Sales Tax, with the chief effect of shifting the burden of taxation from the top of the diamond to the bottom. And the underlying agenda of turning that diamond into a pyramid once again.

(An aside: I am working with a group developing ways to simplify the income tax code using a computer program that will find politically neutral simplifications, taking the whole issue out of politics. It's an exciting project, requiring fascinating algorithms, but more than we can get into here.)

*=> Now comes along George W. Bush with his grand plan to "cut taxes" in a manner that blatantly gives fully half of the benefits to the richest 1%. Delaying the payoff of our grandchildren's public debt for a decade, he'll use most of the budget surplus to achieve such wonders as completely repealing the inheritance tax.


Now there's a funny thing about the inheritance tax - it's effects are vastly greater than they seem at first sight. At the surface, it doesn't look like the government's biggest source of revenue. In fact, its chief effect over the years has been encouraging super-rich folks to create charitable foundations, in order to keep their money away from the IRS!

Get this -- in the USA, charitable giving by the rich is MORE THAN TEN TIMES as high as it is in Europe! Studies credit most of this difference to the inheritance tax, spurring the wealthy to use their money to buy fame and gratitude, rather than let Uncle Sam decide how it will be spent.

Yes it's kind of quirky and ironic. But there's a kind of beauty to it, leaving the super-rich free to choose WHICH charitable use their money will go to. That's a lot of pleasure and power to have while doing a lot of good. And the pleasure goes to the people who got rich by actually providing goods and services, not their spoiled kids. (Andrew Carnegie set aside a nice little fund to ensure his kids' comfort, then dedicated the bulk of his fortune to giving libraries to the poor, all over the world. He said -- "I'd rather leave my son a curse than the almighty dollar.")

Care to guess what'll happen to charitable giving if GWB gets his way?

We are entering a period when some estimate that fifteen trillion dollars will shift hands between generations. For those in the middle class, this may be the only sizable dollop of cash they'll ever see, since most of their current savings are tied up in their homes... and the Inheritance tax won't touch a penny of it. But about a third of that fifteen trillion dollars is set to flow to a few thousand people who never produced a thing to earn it. Fortunately a large portion will also go into charitable foundations, taking on a myriad bold tasks that simply don't appear on the radar screens of either government or corporate planners. Fascinating projects, chosen by real innovators. That is, if things stay the way they are.

THAT is why the effort to revoke the Inheritance Tax is so frantic and urgent right now. It is why the bosses of the GOP have made it their number one priority. A trillion or two, taken away from bold foundations and slipped into the pockets of new lords. What a cool agenda!


Oh, don't talk to me about "family businesses & family farms". That's been debunked, big time. The effect of the inheritance tax on small and mid-sized family business is virtually nil today. Nil. Moreover, Clinton & Gore have shown willingness to push upward the exemption from a million dollars to two million. Hell, make it five! TEN! That's a heap of equity to pass on. The kids should be able to do a lot with it, even if they must reconsolidate a bit

That's still a far cry from letting a small cadre of lazy preppies scoop in billions without paying a penny of it to the nation that protects them, pays for the research, protects them, educates their workers, protects them, keeps the poor from rioting, protects them, maintains labor peace, protects them, enforces contracts, protects them, invests in saving the environment we all share and then protects the rich some more, in ten thousand more ways than they would ever willingly acknowledge.

It's ungrateful, churlish and just plain nuts.

No, I am not preaching class warfare... though that is exactly what you will get eventually, if the pyramid is restored.

A lot of people are upset because the fraction of our economy controlled by the top 5% is rising, higher and more rapidly than at any time in 3 generations. I'm a bit less concerned by that, so long as the diamond remains healthy. So long as most of the millionaires in each generation still have to earn it and their kids still go to college with our kids. In that case they'll keep intermarrying with us, instead of thinking themselves a different species.

...which is exactly how the rich always thought of themselves in other cultures/times/places. As a different species, justifying their status with absurd racial notions or self-serving ideas about divine authority.


(Okay, not all of the rich! Not today.
(It depends on which kind of wealth eggs you on -- RELATIVE wealth or ABSOLUTE wealth.

(Take those who want to be rich in order to have lots of fun and cool stuff. These folks don't compare themselves to those below them. They don't begrudge if others get rich too. In fact, the more the merrier! Let's all get so rich together that everybody vacations on terraformed Mars! Ski Olympus Mons! Ain't it awful how crowded Europa is getting these days?

(Others need to feel rich-er than the masses. It's the "er" suffix in richer that gives their life zest and meaning. The relative comparison to others. They would feel happier being in the top 1% of a poor society - with shabby servants to scream at - than being at the mere 90th percentile in a fabulously wealthy nation of equal citizens.

(I'll bet you know both types, admit it! This personality factor makes a big difference in which political movements each wealthy person donates money to, even if they buy similar cars and belong to the same clubs.)


People, it's time to say no-thanks to those wanting to bring back the old social pyramid. The diamond deserves our loyalty.

But alas, the diamond ain't stable, ladies and gents. The natural human tendency is for those with power to want more power.

I accept the productive value of capitalism, when the market is a vibrant place for fair competition of goods & services. But if accumulations of wealth pass a certain point, capitalism will die and feudalism will replace it, as happened every other time there was a brief renaissance of competitive opportunity in human affairs. Seriously, name a bright era when that did not happen, shutting down opportunities and progress for centuries at a stretch.

Anyone who wants the pyramid back is your political enemy, folks. Not just the enemy of us but an enemy of his own children. Just ask the innocent young baronets who lost their heads during the French Revolution. THEY didn't rape the serfs, but they paid a stiff price for their grandparents' arrogant, insatiable greed. Alas, those yearning for pyramids are too stupid to grasp how wealth is really made, or what happened to the pinnacle classes in every other culture, when the people below got fed up. They are too stupid to realize that the diamond is their own best friend.


Oooh, Brin is really starting to go over the top now!

Oh, all right.

Maybe the social diamond won't fall apart overnight if George W. Bush becomes president. Maybe he'll be balanced by a Democratic Congress. Maybe we'll be fine. There are lots of other factors involved than which figurehead occupies the White House.

Still, his blatant campaign to give a few trillion dollars to those who need it least bothers me deeply. Especially the raging avarice and ingratitude of it. People who have thrived immensely under the protection/support/subsidy of a great nation don't want to help pay to keep that nation prospering and growing, or to help poor kids rise up high enough to compete with them on an even playing field.

They want to be lords. OUR lords. And we shouldn't let them. Merely as rich as Croesus, that's all they should get to be. Getting to be rich as Scrooge McDuck should be enough for anybody.

Oh, pity their poor offspring, who must graduate from Andover or some other prep school knowing that now they have to go to university alongside the bright scions of accountants and teachers and laborers!

Oh no, they may actually feel a need to study something useful in school, in case their measly inheritance ever gets frittered away. Their mere ninety million dollars instead of tens of billions.

Worst of all, they have to suffer and watch as Dad's fortune goes to some prissy goody foundation to cure cancer, or to some university to buy buildings named after him and Mom.

"What an outrage! That money's MINE, you hear? Do you have any idea how little ninety million dollars can buy, these days?"


This is the GOP's absolute top agenda item - they say so themselves - and we should reject it resoundingly. Send the Republicans back to the drawing board.

If Bill Clinton and Al Gore can see the light about welfare reform and budget balancing, then Dick Cheney can bloody well go back to the brain trust and report that the GOP needs some fresh ideas. And, please, some fresh blood while you're at it.

There are fresh ideas out there! * Ideas about how markets can be used to help stimulate and promote sustainable occupancy of the planet without putting all our faith in bureaucrats or the almighty dollar. Ideas about how markets can be made more vibrant than ever, spurring innovation while helping forge a diamond that floats ever higher, carrying everybody on Earth upward with it.

Go away this time, Dick. Give poor George W. a nice cushy job somewhere in the oil biz and bring us someone else in 2004. Somebody with brains... and proposals that make sense.

====================================================== ========================


* For those of you who are libertarians, see the next issue of LIBERTY magazine for an article about ideas like these. Ideas about freedom and "reduced government" that are worth campaigning for and that aren't about helping foster an old-fashioned inherited aristocracy in America. When you think about how many interesting things Cheney & co. could be talking about - like ending the Drug War - you'll wind up holding your nose and voting for Gore.

For those of you on the left who are actually thinking of voting Nader... gadzooks, do you know anything about that person? A gadfly needs personality traits that would be calamitous in a President. Learn more about him, for Gaia's sake. Then think about Global Warming, the Supreme Court and the Internet. You'll hold your nose and vote for Gore.

Me, I ain't holding nothing when I vote for him. He's a geek, but a smart/nice one. We've done worse. Most of the time, in fact. A lot worse.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Hang on a mo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#695657)

I post something like this, and get marked as "flamebait", but someone sends you an email, and it gets posted to the front page?

Hemos, you old troll you!

Hrmph.. (1)

PHr0D (212586) | about 14 years ago | (#695658)

Well now, maybe if YOU were born with a silver spoon in your nose, YOU would prefer to eliminate the Inheritance Tax as well.


Finally someone figures out the truth (1)

sips (212702) | about 14 years ago | (#695659)

Well, for one thing, I utterly reject the silly platitude going around that says the republican and democratic parties are just the same. What hogwash!

Anyone who studied history could have told you that. Oh I forget most people on slashdot don't like hearing facts.

Maybe my Dad is one the right track (1)

AntiPasto (168263) | about 14 years ago | (#695660)

I would like to discuss the Election Year economics thing we got going on here.

I know that there are a literally uncountable amount of factors in our economy, but this year (the year I for some reason got into mutal funds) has seen quite a decrease in value of our stocks.

My dad seems to think that we are just going through October rollercoaster that happens every year AND election year jitters. Is the election really a factor?

I would like to think so. -- I mean, I just can't fathom what the media is harping on -- tech stocks dwindling. Are they over-valued, well, yes of course, but the big names are still driving our world. I think that everyone as a whole just doesn't know what a Republican majority might do. I highly doubt it could be much.


Remember - the richest 10% pay most of the taxes (4)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | about 14 years ago | (#695661)

There's a reason GWB (disclaimer:yes, he's a moron) is proposing a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans - the top 10% is current paying at least 1/3 of all taxes, by even the most conservative estimate. Even left-leaning economists are beginning to concede that the wealthy are being disproporionately and perhaps unfialry taxed.

The US is prosperous while Europe continues to plod along with a lame-duck currency. This isn't by accident - its a result of policy.

Bush vs. Gore (2)

Dr. Sp0ng (24354) | about 14 years ago | (#695662)

One thing I don't understand is why everybody around here seems to be favoring Gore over Bush. True, I would never in a million years vote for someone as mind-bogglingly stupid as Bush, but I would also never vote for Gore - he is extremely in favor of censorship, and his wife Tipper is even worse. True, she won't have any real power if Gore is elected, but she will have way too much pull. She is a very dangerous woman.

Why is censorship so bad? You tell me. []

Not over the top at all... (3)

zorgon (66258) | about 14 years ago | (#695663)

I disagree with Dr. Brin's self-assessment: this is not a rant, it's well thought out and carefully considered. It's the best piece of political commentary I've seen this entire (endless) campaign season. Should be read very carefully by all.

Oh so it's a troll if... (1)

sips (212702) | about 14 years ago | (#695664)

You don't agree with it and you can't refute the statements made therein? Interesting. Tell me just what makes it illogical or unsupported to be classified as a troll instead of a differing political opinion.

Adults at the helm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#695665)

After eight long years of corrupt, flag-burning hippies with their Addams Family-looking mutant cabinet running the country, I'd be perfectly happy just to see some normal adults runnings things, even if they aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer.

As for the difference between the Dems and the GOP, the author is correct, there is a difference: The Dems want to steal your money and waste it by shoveling it out to corrupt foreign leaders and crack heads. The GOP want to steal your money and use it to buy $2,000.00 toilet seats.

Darth Spocker (1)

grovertime (237798) | about 14 years ago | (#695666)

The only thing that got me excited in his letter was his mention of Spock vs. Darth, and that the thought that he might begin speaking of which he knows. Articulating thoughts well does not make them right, and his meandering ramblings leave no Slashdotter closer to any political epiphany.

  1. Where Your Vote Should Go []

This is scary stuff (4)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 14 years ago | (#695667)

This whole peice is dedicated to the principal that Government is smarter than people are. "We are from the Government and we are going to help" is one of the most scary thoughts anyone could have.

Thomas Jefferson said, "People who give up freedom for security will get neither".

The problem is Government thinks that your money is their money. And since we are the government, your money is my money, and that my friend is called Socialism.

Our founding fathers knew that the only way to keep America free is to limit the Federal government, something this generation has not learned.

People who think they are superior to others, aren't.

2000 AD: BFD. (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 14 years ago | (#695668)

> Has anyone noticed something interesting? The complete lack of any voices proclaiming that December 31, 2000 is the _real turn of the century? Odd huh? I haven't heard a single call to celebrate this formal milestone -- even as a simple excuse to have another party! You'd expect at least for some Society of Nit-Pickers & Pedants to do so..

Actually, I'm a Life Member of the SNPP. But that's exactly why I don't call for the celebration.

Sure, I'm all agreed that this New Year's it the millenial anniversary. But anniversary of what? A WAG at the date of a possibly mythological event? We NPPs would rather pick at it than celebrate it.

Besides, only lamers need holidays as an excuse for a party. If any day is holy, then they all are.

Capital makes us wealthy; death tax destroy capita (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#695669)

One thing, and one thing only makes anybody wealthy: capital. Savings applied to productive uses. Death taxes destroy capital. They force the sons of farmers and businessmen to sell the business in order to pay the taxes on what they have inherited. This destroys capital.

Inheritance taxes make us all poorer, even if we don't pay them ourselves.

Re:Adults at the helm (1)

sips (212702) | about 14 years ago | (#695670)

As for the difference between the Dems and the GOP, the author is correct, there is a difference: The Dems want to steal your money and waste it by shoveling it out to corrupt foreign leaders and crack heads. The GOP
want to steal your money and use it to buy $2,000.00 toilet seats.

That's an old and tiring joke at it's best. The expense that is often quoted by various liberals to illustrate the expense of government (especially military) production is a joke. The price you are seeing is a reflection of the cost of compensating every person it took to run the plany, the lights, the machinery, and all that. It's because of various lobbiests (including labor unions and consumer interest groups many of whom are actually from many of the average Joes in the world) make the government do many things at once and hence you get figures like that. So if you don't want the government to pay figures like that expect less of them in the way of assistence.

the real truth (1)

sik puppy (136743) | about 14 years ago | (#695671)

The very rich DON'T pay the inheritance tax! Do you really think the Kennedy's pay this tax. Of course not. With proper estate planning, the tax can be avoided entirely. It is the people who get caught off guard that get ripped off by this tax. An untimely death, or some similar circumstance. A family who has been a long time resident in some california communities, and whose real estate has crossed the threshhold. If the tax isn't to be abolished, lets close ALL the loopholes, and let the ultra rich old money families pay their share too. How fast do you think Ted Kennedy will change sides if he has to give 55% of HIS money to uncle sam?

How about the poor ? (1)

AftanGustur (7715) | about 14 years ago | (#695672)

The poorest 10% propably pay less than 3% of the taxes. That's "disproporionately" for ya, is it fair ?

Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?

we are the working rich (1)

jzuska (65827) | about 14 years ago | (#695673)

Dont you people see that we ARE the working rich!!!

Hmmm (2)

dragonfly_blue (101697) | about 14 years ago | (#695674)

Does this mean Slashdot is endorsing Gore, then? Or are they going to run editorials from other pillars of society, to give the other candidate(s) equal time in front of our eyeballs?

He has some interesting points, though. But, as he dismisses the notion that we have a single-party system, I dismiss the idea that this election is simply about the inheritance tax and Supreme Court justices.

A tip (1)

Kriticism (225999) | about 14 years ago | (#695675)

Very well written, despite being an unfiltered draft. Katz, you'd better start taking notes. There'll be a test at the end of this class.


Nader (2)

Bearpaw (13080) | about 14 years ago | (#695676)

For those of you on the left who are actually thinking of voting Nader... gadzooks, do you know anything about that person?

I know more about Nader than I really know about either of the two republicrats, and that's part of why I've decided to vote for him.

And it's not about the Supreme Court. It's about scare tactics.

So it means that inheritors don't work (1)

sips (212702) | about 14 years ago | (#695677)

They get permanent positions in the lap of luxry and very rarely have to actually do any of the genesis work that makes American capitalism supposedly great. I live in America but I have to at least concede that starting a business is almost impossible to do without failure and as such takes real talent (and unfortunately massive luck). People who just maintain things don't change anything.

Re:Bush vs. Gore (1)

Azghoul (25786) | about 14 years ago | (#695678)


Here's a goof with his little pro-stoner link on his post, talking about Bush being stupid.


Brin has me pegged. (1)

Zakk (229802) | about 14 years ago | (#695679)

Darn. Just when I thought I was being intelligent and thoughtful, David Bring demonstrates that I'm just one of the many "males who think they'll vote for Ralph Nader." Oh well. I think that after reading this letter I'm back in the Gore camp. The last thing I would wish for is a return to the pyramid.

contact (3)

AugstWest (79042) | about 14 years ago | (#695680)

...and let them know [] that you think they're impeding any progress in the American ploitical process.

I sent them this last night:

I'm just wondering how you people sleep at night knowing that you are hampering any progress that this country has tried to make past the same old crap spewed forth decade after decade by the two parties whom you solely represent.

The American public, as well as the global community, is appalled at your evil nature for not allowing Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan to speak to the American public.

People all over the world are mocking Americans for your exclusion. We know that any non-partisan inclusion in your decision making was removed about 8-10 years ago when the formerly conscientious comittee resigned in disgust at your two party insistence, stating that they would not be involved in "hoodwinking the American public."

I am a patriot, and I love my country, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so due to your heavy-handed control over the political process. How your representatives can stand in front of a live television audience and feel good about themselves while screwing us all is beyond me.

The political process needs to be fair to all Americans. Your process is so self-interested that it leaves us all wishing that someone within your organization would wake up one morning and say, "My God, how can I continue to belittle the American political process and silence the voices of millions in the elections."

Hopefully, someday, your consciences will speak up and you will fight to help us regain some voice in our own political process.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

Xiphoid Process (153566) | about 14 years ago | (#695681)

oh right, i forgot. there is only one school of economics, and that is the 20 year old, prooven to have failed idiotic idea of "tricle-down" economics. please.

Re:Capital makes us wealthy; death tax destroy cap (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#695682)

I see that David says that farmers and businessmen are not affected by the inheritance tax. I'll accept his point regardless of its veracity. My point still holds: the inheritance tax converts capital into consumption. This is a bad thing in the long term.

Why I can not vote Gore (2)

Bpr (106544) | about 14 years ago | (#695683)

Why do I get the feeling that Gore will also do as his predecesor and lie and tell the people what they want to hear? Gore seems to be a great story teller. Other then the supreme court issue (Look what happened when E. Warren was appointed! SHEESH! Talk about back scratching deals!) Andy Roony could be president because all the real work, ie. Speech writing, negotiations, bill props etc. are done by advisors. However, the one thing that Clinton/Gore have hurt is the USA military. The Voice of America recently put out an editorial about the Cole. The state department who approves such editorials denied its printing because the death of the 17 Navy boys don't out weigh the 100s of palestineins (sp?). Thats the Clinton/Gore state dept. Thats just sad. An editorial cant be printed because it might enrage Palestine and the deaths of their 100 outweigh the deaths of our 17 that serve us and our country. Ugh.

Re:the real truth (1)

replicant2000 (169060) | about 14 years ago | (#695684)

no, you are wrong here. Estate planning can not eliminate the inheritance tax. At best it can help shield some of it for a period of time, but the tax must be paid, even if the assets are in LLC's or trusts. Obviously an untimely death makes this pain much worse than it could be. But dont get the idea into your head that the very rich arent paying up- they do- thats why they want the tax removed. I am all for taking money away from the government, at any cost. Ever been to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles? See what I mean?

Re:we are the working rich (1)

spacey (741) | about 14 years ago | (#695685)

I thought we're the working hard and moderately comfortable, though highly motivated.


Inheritance tax is the biggest issue? (5)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | about 14 years ago | (#695686)

Get real.

The biggest issue this year is "Who is government working for?". And until this question is answered, no other issue even makes sense to talk about. You can't decide how (or if) to fix social security or respond to terrorist attacks unless you know who your constituents are and what they believe.

THAT'S why I'm voting for Nader. Bush and, to a slightly lesser extent, Gore are both working for Big Business. Nader, Browne and Buchanan are all working for The People (or subsets thereof). Buchanan's subset is the religious right and therefore I'm not voting for him. Browne is working for people, but defines businesses as people--which I don't agree with and therefore I'm not voting for him.

Nader is the only candidate that recognizes that government belongs to people and businesses are NOT people. Therefore he gets my vote. But not because I want him to win. I want to use Nader's candidacy as a medium through which I can send my message: I want goverment to be of, by and for the people.
An abstained vote is a vote for Bush and Gore.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Azghoul (25786) | about 14 years ago | (#695687)

Oh come on, it's very very obvious that the Slashdot bosses are going to endorse Gore.

As if what the coders who hold this site together have any particularly valuable insights into the campaign...

Well said, Sir! (2)

YuppieScum (1096) | about 14 years ago | (#695688)

Rather than "over-the-top", I find this to be well-thought and well-argued.

It's a shame that it'll never become a prime-time topic of conversation...

The Postman (1)

jtdubs (61885) | about 14 years ago | (#695689)

Come on people, don't listen to this fool. He's responsible for stealing three hours of my life under the guise that I'd be seeing a film with certain characteristics, such as acting and things that happen to keep my interest.

For THREE HOURS of my life I stared at Kevin Costner (the man responsible for such one-liners as "muh boat") ride a horse and obstinately persist in not acting.

If the movie was bad than the book must suck and therefore all of this man's opinions are void, null, undef, and so forth...

I should sleep more...

Harry Browne, not Bush (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#695690)

I'm voting for Harry Browne. I'm not holding my nose to vote for Bush OR Gore. Gore frightens me. The things he says in _Earth in the Balance_ are indistinguishable from the Unabomber Manifesto.

A call for unbiased journalism? (1)

cying (132283) | about 14 years ago | (#695691)

If you have even half a brain, you know who the Slashdot crew is voting for, and perhaps it's not our place to suggest how they run their own web site. But as a self-proclaimed news site, they ought to feel some responsibility towards providing unbiased political coverage. Or even something close. It would be a refreshing change over the slanted coverage given by mainstream media.

That's OK. There's more Bush boosters here. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#695692)

Our mouths just aren't big and noisy as the Gore followers. We quietly cast our majority votes behind the scenes, which I'm sure will just piss off the liberal media to no end.

And while neither of the big 2 candidates are really outstanding, what it really comes down to is:

Republican == smaller gov't, better protection of constitutional rights, and lower taxes.

Democrat == bigger gov't, less freedoms in order to protect [victim of the week], and higher taxes.

And seeing as 2-3 vacancies are expected to come up on the Supreme Court (and this is the *TRUE* importance of this election), I sure as HELL don't wan't gore sticking his freedom hating lackeys on the SC where they'll sit for the next 20-30 years.

Wow.. where to start (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 14 years ago | (#695693)

Now comes along George W. Bush with his grand plan to "cut taxes" in a manner that blatantly gives fully half of the benefits to the richest 1%. Delaying the payoff of our grandchildren's public debt for a decade, he'll use most of the budget surplus to achieve such wonders as completely repealing the inheritance tax.

Hmm.. who do you think blantly pays most of the taxes in this country? The richest 1%!

Take an example:

A hundred families are represented in a room, each making $50k a household. They a pay an income tax of 20% (fictional, but not to far off). Thats $1,000,000 in taxes. Give them a 50% tax cut, that means they now pay $500,000 in taxes.

Now take Bill Joy, or Gates, or anyone who is in the 1%. This person makes $100M. They pay 20% (also fictional, actually its more). That person pays $20M in taxes. Give this person a 50% tax cut. Thats $10M in taxes.

So look at it: the wealthy got 95% of the benefit! Thats only 1 person! How can only one person get so many of the benefits!
To give the highest percentange of benefits to the examples, you'd have to either eliminate 100% of the tax (they would pay infintely less taxes than others) or to not give any relief to the rich.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

spam-o-tron mk1 (237603) | about 14 years ago | (#695694)

because it will in fact bring about a stronger economy due to the fact that rather than having money tied in up in charitable foundations, it will be in more liquid forms, mainly equity. This is, as any student of economics knows, a good thing!

Correct. And, the more intelligent the person with all this money, the better the money will be used. The better the money is used, the more the economy grows. The more the economy grows, the more money we have. And, the more money we have, the more starving children we can feed.

Therefore, since I am more intelligent than any of you, if you do not send me all of your money, you are personally responsible for the deaths of starving children. Email me to arrange delivery.

Thank you.


Re:Bush vs. Gore (1)

sstaton (51605) | about 14 years ago | (#695695)

Both candidates pay lip service (and nothing more) to censorship. It's a non-issue that the President has little effective control over, but which plays well in Peoria (#include for residents of Peoria). What scares me is that Bush will do what ever the top corporations want, and in the media biz right now, that's a call to de-legalize many forms of software and software development (eg. reverse engineering). If he presses these issues, we'll see a "Drug War" like effort against ... programmers. THINK ABOUT IT.

regarding small business... (2)

xinem (245183) | about 14 years ago | (#695696)

Contrary to what the uninformed of the world are trying to claim, the inheritance tax *is* a huge factor in small business progression. I myself am one of thousands of people who *would* inherit my father's farm, but it's not gonna happen! I'll have to disolve the farm in order to pay the inhertance tax! No really! I'm not making this up! Imagine that! If Brin had actually used his own grey matter instead of that which was spoon fed to him, he might have noticed that this is a real issue affecting real people!


Re:This is scary stuff (1)

Skorpion (88485) | about 14 years ago | (#695697)

Whats wrong with socialism? I, unlike you, experienced it myself and I don't see any disadvantages of it. A.

You need taxes to run the government (1)

sips (212702) | about 14 years ago | (#695698)

Of course if you like being a slave in the United States of China because the government dosn't have any military defense and you have no other form of internal improvements to keep you living in the life you are now.

If not from the federal government you are going to get taxed somewhere.

I'd vote for an economist over a lawyer any day (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#695699)

The federal government controls so much of the economy, that I don't see how we can elect someone who isn't an economist.

OK, I'll take the bait... (5)

Daimbert (244769) | about 14 years ago | (#695700)

Look, saying that complaints about inheritance taxes destroying family farms and businesses have been thoroughly debunked does not make it so.

It does not take much of a farm or small business these days to equal 1 million dollars, the new amount at which inheritance tax will kick in. I know that sounds like a lot, but experience with my family's farm showed us that it was not. When you add up land at thousands of dollars/acre, and the value of lots of heavy machinery and buildings, even a modest farm can be raped by these taxes.

End result? It gets sold to a huge agri-business concern, since the family cannot afford to give away 1/3 of all it owns (and has already paid taxes on) to the government and stay in business. And then people complain about corporations taking over our economy... Sheesh. Get a clue and look at the consequences of the policies advocated by the Democratic Party. Just because what they say sounds warm and fuzzy should we believe it?

Re:Finally someone figures out the truth (1)

darksmurf (190761) | about 14 years ago | (#695701)

Slashdot Posting Rule #312:

Never EVER post something interesting without twisting in a bit about how horrible slashdot is.

1. Find a mirror dude(et?).
2. Look in
3. See original problem replicated.

Mirrors are cool.

I'm sure they would... (1)

Midnight Ryder (116189) | about 14 years ago | (#695702)

I'm sure /. would probably run an editorial from someone else on the other side of the issues - 'specially if they are someone has high-profile and eloquent as David Brin.

And, /. is giving the opportuninity for all sides to speak thier piece on issues that /.'ers find important - look back at the most recent set of questions to be presented to the various presidential candidate camps from here based on user comments.

Bore and Gush (2)

DuBois (105200) | about 14 years ago | (#695703)

Long ago, on CompuServe's Consumer Electronics forum, David Brin used to hold forth on the merits and demerits of high-end TV and stereo equipment. I followed his advice in that arena and have made many purchases that have stood the test of time.

I've read nearly every one of Brin's SF books, enjoying their scientific approach coupled with his humorous cynicism directed at politics.

But in this screed, I see Brin finally abandoning any hope for political change. This is cynical realism at its hopeless worst.

Sure, the Supreme Court scam [] is no excuse for voting for Gush, but geekyness is about the worst reason I can think of for voting for Mr. Status Quo Bore.

As for me, I'll be watching CSPAN on Friday night from 8:00-9:30 EDT to hear the "Rest of the Story."

Even if I agreed about the social contract thing.. (5)

Zigurd (3528) | about 14 years ago | (#695704)

Even if I agreed about the social contract thing, and there is considerable evidence that the "diamond" is becoming flat, hollow, lethargic, and unsustainable in places where big fat ineffucienct and corrupt bureucracies have grown up, I would not vote for Al Gore.

It's the perfidy (stupid): Same lies, same sellout to, e.g. Russians selling nuclear stuff to Iran, or Russians pols and mobsters stealing the aid we send them, or sombody selling our nuke secrets to China. This is the biggest reason why, in a time of nearly unparalleled prosperity, the ruling party is losing. Charater does count: "loathing" the military traslates into some pinhead at Voice of America spiking a piece on the Cole bombing because those deaths do "not compare" [] to the Palestinian loss of life in the new Intifada.

Also, this Europhile thing is misplaced. Sure, I like blondes (and I am one), and SAABs, BMWs, and Mercedes are cool cars. IKEA makes cheap furniture that isn't ugly. But what about violent crime in gun-free London going out of control because you can be sure to be able to do a housebreak or a mugging without encountering a gun? What about ramapant mafias and endemic official corruption in southern and eastern Europe? What about the ever efficient and rational Germans going broke becuase their welfare state is unsustainable?

The real reason we are prosperous is that we have moderate taxes (that could be lower), pretty good rule of law (could be better), sanctity of contract (that is mostly enforceable), and private property (that could be better protected from bureaucrats). If we ever got freedom of choice in puclicly supported education, we would have a new Golden Age.

Re:Bush vs. Gore (2)

Dr. Sp0ng (24354) | about 14 years ago | (#695705)

Here's a goof with his little pro-stoner link on his post, talking about Bush being stupid.

You're calling me stupid for smoking pot? Well, I think you're stupid for making assumptions about people whom you obviously know absolutely nothing about. I think you're stupid for falling for government propaganda about pot when alcohol and caffeine are far more dangerous drugs. Go back to your little world where everything is fine and dandy and stop bothering those of us who care about our freedoms enough to do something about it.

Brin is cool (2)

BugMaster ChuckyD (18439) | about 14 years ago | (#695706)

I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Dr. Brin earlier this year. A wonderful thing about him is his ability to go off on a discourse such as the one above off the top of head, in real time. In person he has a great enthusiasm and clarity that few people have. Whats more he's right (IMO of course)

Re:Remember - the richest 10% pay most of the taxe (1)

darksmurf (190761) | about 14 years ago | (#695707)

And there is a problem with this?


What's so funny about that? (1)

flatpack (212454) | about 14 years ago | (#695708)

No, really, why the laughter? Do you have unresolved issues or something?

Re:Remember - the richest 10% pay most of the taxe (2)

Electric Angst (138229) | about 14 years ago | (#695709)

The wealthy are being disproporionately taxed, but they are also disproporionately benifiting from the society that they are helping to fund with their taxes.


Complete and utter nonsense (2)

elefantstn (195873) | about 14 years ago | (#695710)

When it comes to matters of technology, programming, etc., I trust the /. editors in their decision making, just like I trust my favorite musicians' and actors' creative decisions. But for the love of God, stay out of politics! You clearly have no idea what on earth you're talking about.

First off, in Bush's tax plan, when you look at the entire thing instead of the tiny little bit Gore harps on in his overbearing debates, the top 1% pay MORE of the tax burden than they do now. MORE. MORE. MORE. Are you listening, or do I have to say it again? Now, they pay 62% of the tax burden, under Bush's plan, 67%. 67 > 62.

Also, if you're worried about the rich having more money, please read some Adam Smith, people. What do you think they're going to do with it? Keep it locked up in a chest under their bed? No! They spend it! On buying things from the lower 99%, which gives us the money.

I am begging the /. editors now, before I lose any more faith in them, please stop posting this drivel.

Facts are such difficult things (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#695711)

Facts are such difficult things for people with your opinion. Best just to ignore them, eh? The first generation earns the money, the second spends it, and the third gives it away. At least that's what's happened historically. Look at any of the wealthy families from a hundred years ago.

Now, that said, as a practical matter, there are no safe investments. All capital must be managed, or it will slip away. It takes effort and skill to manage capital well. That's work. Sorry if you don't appreciate it as work, but perhaps you haven't tried to do it yourself.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

Brian See (11276) | about 14 years ago | (#695712)

Sure, the money will be in a more liquid form -- and that means "Hello, Cayman Islands". Many estate planners predict that the very rich will set up off-shore trusts if the estate tax is repealed.

With a simple bit of estate planning, a married couple can ALREADY give over ONE MILLION dollars tax-free to their heirs. (This will automatically raise to TWO MILLION dollars when the federal exemption rises in a few years.)

The reason that non-millionaires are supporting the repeal of the estate tax isn't that they want to benefit people who die with over two million dollars (ie, the richest of the rich). It's because people believe that they may someday "hit it rich", and thus be one of Bush's benefactors.

Maybe this is the wrong argument to be making to the stock-option laden crowd (even after the recent downturns in the stock market)!

Re:Nader (1)

Bpr (106544) | about 14 years ago | (#695713)

Call me superficial but other then I like Bush (would have like McCain more) I can't vote for Nader because he is the primary reason for all those years I spent in a car going 55mph. Grr.
If I am wrong -- then I will be more edumacated.

Honest Question (1)

nd (20186) | about 14 years ago | (#695714)

Why is this on Slashdot? It may be interesting to some, but for many others it's just liberal trolling. There was one blurb about tech about computing a better tax code.

For the past few days Slashdot has been posting political articles, favoring Gore for the most part (Hemos and Taco have made it clear they prefer Gore). This has really gotten out of hand. Is anyone else as annoyed as I am?

It's obvious that they've made an attempt to disguise the political articles as tech-related, but what it really boils down to is trying to push their opinions on us. I don't think I'm being overly conspirical, and I don't think Taco/Hemos intended to really sway the vote here.. but it does seem blatantly irresponsible.

Gore Dumber, Bush Smarter than they are made out (5)

Overt Coward (19347) | about 14 years ago | (#695715)

Anyone who believes that Gore is some sort of brilliant thinker while Bush is an idiot has been spending too much time listening to media spin and not enough actually looking at the candidates and their histories.

If you go to the academic record, they were both mediocre (at best) undergraduate students, with Bush having a slightly higher GPA while taking a slightly tougher courseload (including "Mr. Environment" Gore's 'D' in basic science). But Bush managed to earn a Havard MBA -- Gore dropped out of Vanderbilt twice in graduate programs, once in divinity (after he failed most of the courses he took in a program he got an early rotation home from Vietnam for) and once for law (I don't know what his grades were there -- he left to run for Congress).

Ok, so coursework isn't always the best example. But Gore's reputation for brilliance comes more from being very detailed as opposed to having original ideas. And seeing whom each candidate has surrounded himself with as advisors tend to make me think that Bush may really be the smarter one, especially in where it matters for a President. I personally prefer a delegator to a micro-manager. (Also true in business... but I digress...)

Of course, the real reasons to vote for someone are basic competence (I think either candidate is competent), trustworthyness (Bush beats Gore hands-down here), and issues (all depends on your own philosophy). There may be many reasons to vote for one candidate over the other, but please don't fall for the "Gore is brilliant and Bush is stupid" line as a factor in your decision.


Re:Bush vs. Gore (1)

darksmurf (190761) | about 14 years ago | (#695716)

-- always smiles when pot heads start ranting about "government propoganda".

I wonder if they realise exactly how little their "my freedom is important to me" comments seem when they are giving control over their mind to something else. (save the crap about the expanded soul please, it's still morning here)

Don't get me wrong, I am all for legalization of anything that has any benifit at all. You are just amusing, that's all.

The president has advisors (1)

sips (212702) | about 14 years ago | (#695717)

The president need not know anything of ecconomics to run the country when he has capable assistants who can do the job.

Dec 31 2000 turn of Cent.. Nope (2)

bug_hunter (32923) | about 14 years ago | (#695718)

Well if we want to base our Callandear on the supposed birth date of Jesus Christ, the end of the Cent happened in 1996. Because the Callandear we currently are using was declared around 300AD by a ruler who guessed the birth of Jesus 4 years off from where historical evidence points it to be.

And even if 1AD was Jesus's birth, we should be good C programmers and count from 0 anyway.

And should time really be based on one religion's views? (suppose it's too late to change it now)

I know this is barely relevant, but I get so annoyed when people who claim the new Cent starts on 2001 think they're so smart.

I feel better now.

Re:How about the poor ? (2)

Xerithane (13482) | about 14 years ago | (#695719)

I pay almost 50% of all money I get (47%, exactly). I pay more in taxes then most people make in a year..
It's not fair, true - but someone has to do it I suppose
In my home town that I grew up at, in one month I pay more in taxes then some of my old friends yearly income. Granted, they were single and living in apartments running $200/month but it still is ridiculous. The cultural divide based on annual income is huge.
But, I grew up poor and I'm doing really well now so I dont have too much sympathy for people who complain about being poor and never getting a chance to get ahead. I was 12 and 13 working on ranches illegaly to get money for computer parts. I did what I had to do, and it paid off in the end.
I doubt anything is going to change any of that.. it's just the way people are.
But I'll keep paying my 47% and deal with it.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

Vuarnet (207505) | about 14 years ago | (#695720)

it will in fact bring about a stronger economy due to the fact that rather than having money tied in up in charitable foundations, it will be in more liquid forms, mainly equity.

IANAnE(conomist) but why would money be "tied up" in charitable foundations? I would think that such money would be spent doing something, anything at all (even in the case of inane foundations like, say, "Save the Roasted Porks of Alabama Foundation").

Maybe it only happens here in Mexico, but when people with tons of money decide where to keep it, most of the time they end up investing it in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands or something like that.

Of course, I could be wrong, since I only took Economics I at college, so if you could explain your point in more detail, I (and probably a few other /. readers) would appreciate it. And I don't mean it in a sarcastic way at all.

Re:Remember - the richest 10% pay most of the taxe (2)

Prior Restraint (179698) | about 14 years ago | (#695721)

...the top 10% is current paying at least 1/3 of all taxes, by even the most conservative estimate. ...the wealthy are being disproporionately and perhaps unfialry taxed

There are several ways of responding to this without giving the wealthy a tax cut. Perhaps cracking down (via tax law) on companies like Microsoft and Cisco [] , the porportion that the wealthy pay would go down. And before anyone decries the horrible taxing regime placed upon the rich today, please consider that several decades ago (60s? 50s? Can some older /. readers indicate when?), there was a fifty percent tax bracket. What frightens me most is how much popular support there is for regressive taxing schemes (like a flat tax).

What's more liquid than money? (4)

YuppieScum (1096) | about 14 years ago | (#695722) will in fact bring about a stronger economy due to the fact that rather than having money tied in up in charitable foundations, it will be in more liquid forms, mainly equity. This is, as any student of economics knows, a good thing!

The money in charitable foundations is not "tied up" at all, but is used, for example, to pay salaries to researchers, purchase equipment, rent buildings, and so on.

This is placing real, maximum-liquidity cash money directly into the economy - an even better thing as far as this student is concerned.

Re:Why I can not vote Gore (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 14 years ago | (#695723)

> However, the one thing that Clinton/Gore have hurt is the USA military.

GWB tried to make a campaign issue out of that, and failed miserably. Why did he fail? Because reduced military spending was the "peace dividend" that the Republicans touted so much during their attempts to claim credit for 'winning' the Cold War. Now they're whingeing about those very spending cuts.

Go figure.

(Frankly, I think "weak military" is just a code phrase for "get US troops out of places like Kosovo, where the natives ain't Christian and they don't even have any goddam oil". But that's strictly suspicion. Perhaps someone who understands the Republican value system better can clarify it.)

great (4)

nomadic (141991) | about 14 years ago | (#695724)

Well, for one thing, I utterly reject the silly platitude going around that says the republican and democratic parties are just the same. What hogwash!

Thank you. Last time I brought this point up on slashdot, I was shot down by people who find it easier to group the parties together than actually follow the issues. And I have to agree about Ralph Nader; I'll probably be voting for him because my state seems a lock for Gore, so he doesn't need my vote, and I'd like the Green party to get matching funds. But I haven't been impressed by Nader as much as I would like to be, and if the race was close where I live I doubt I'd vote for him.

Me, I ain't holding nothing when I vote for him. He's a geek, but a smart/nice one. We've done worse. Most of the time, in fact. A lot worse.

It will be really interesting to see how a really intelligent president will handle things. Clinton's brilliant, but not in a geeky, policy-oriented way, and the last few presidents before him have ranged from moderately intelligent to downright dim. The other comment (besides the both parties being the same one) that always annoys me around election time is the charge that the President "shouldn't be too intelligent" because it will somehow limit their leadership ability. That's a particularly ridiculous claim, and one of the last vestiges of a thread of anti-intellectualism that's run through our country for too long. Gore was blasted for "talking down" to us during the debates; if you're going to avoid voting for someone because you don't like him to express his knowledge, then you deserve the President you get. Unfortunately, the rest of us don't, but we still get stuck with them.

Interesting clash of common discusssion elements (1)

mkafka (66546) | about 14 years ago | (#695725)

There are two interesting & contradictory forces at work here.

One is the general belief (I think) of most of us that people should be free to succeed based on their own merits. If I come up with a briliant idea, work my ass off and build an amazing company, then I don't think anyone will mind me getting rich at it. In this sense, schemes like a "progressive tax" that attack the successful seem Un-American.

On the other hand, there is another fair concern about excessive power (and power is at least proportional to money, if not equal) resting in the hands of a small minority. Those of us outside that circle are wary of "them" unfairly dominating the opportunities (ala the Russian oligarchs).

What can we do? Well, I hope that some good economists are working out what the actual "answers" to these problems are, and more importantly what the actual FACTS are. Meanwhile, I admit having some sympathy for the inheritance tax. Essentially it can be used as a generational 'RESET' button (only less severe) to force every person that wants to be rich to work for it and earn it on his or her own. In fact, in its current form it hardly seems to even be forcing that, so how can it be considered such a great evil?

On the other hand, a flatter income tax would seem more fair to the living. This is particularly true in my case, as all these "targetted" tax cuts seem aimed at other people. The complex tax code attempts to influence personal policy, which seems an excessive intrusion by the government. Does it really make sense that people receive a tax break just for having more children? Why do we want more people in the world?



Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

dweiss (128227) | about 14 years ago | (#695726)

Where do you think charitable foundations keep their endowments? Under a mattress? It's in equity and bonds.

Re:Harry Browne, not Bush (1)

Daimbert (244769) | about 14 years ago | (#695727)

I agree completely. In fact, I have read that "Earth in the Balance" was found in the Unabomber's cabin. I plan to use my vote to show that I believe in something other than federal meddling in my life. Voting for someone who will not win is voting all the same. Hopefully one day our voices will be heard.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (2)

gargle (97883) | about 14 years ago | (#695728)

Two scenarios:

1. Rich man dies. Passes equity, property to son, who promptly spends the rest of his life partying and frittering away the wealth his father acquired.

2. Rich man dies. Equity, property is sold to some other rich man. Money obtained is used to set up charitable foundation. Note that the equity, property is not "destroyed" but is in fact in better hands than in scenario 1.

So in which scenario does society benefit more?

Re:Remember - the richest 10% pay most of the taxe (1)

darksmurf (190761) | about 14 years ago | (#695729)

Would this be kind of like how Microsoft and Cisco are paying so much higher taxes than everbody else?

Oh wait! that's right the percentages you have are BEFORE THE TAX BREAKS that damn near aleviate all their taxes.

Did it seriously never click in your head that most of the tax breaks you ever hear about benifit the top 10% the most?

It's not the potential for what they could pay that counts, it's what they actualy pay.

For richer or poorer. (1)

vluther (5638) | about 14 years ago | (#695730)

I am willing to pay taxes for military, schools,
property tax (pays indirectly to military twice),
and charitable organizations.. and no I don't want a tax cut for "giving money away". I think what I understand of what Bush is saying, is that I earned the money, I should be smart enough to know how to spend it. If I came from the poor and became rich, and all of a sudden turned on the poor, then there is something wrong with me, not the rich in general. The govt should not decide who or what I spend my money on. I should pay taxes for the things mentioned above, and for roads and highways to be kept in shape etc, for the local police, and the police of my state.. actually.. thats what I'm willing to pay more of my money to. Not welfare, or social security that I won't see. If I choose not to use my social security.. then why make me ? what if I die before I turn 65 ? Where does the social security go ?
does my family get the social security that I already paid for ? There are plans out by Clinton, that would TAKE my property away when i die.. what about my remaining family ?

Re:Finally someone figures out the truth (3)

absolut_maniac (176412) | about 14 years ago | (#695731)

well, if you only consider the US's bi-party system, then sure democrats and republicans are not the same. however, compare the political structure here and in other countries. let's take France for example. last presidential elections, there were more than a dozen parties running, ranging from comunists, socialists, greens, republicans (doesn't mean the same thing over there and here), all the way to extreme right wing party (the FN, totally racist bastards who should be removed from the face of the earth, but that's not the point). those are just a few of the most important ones. if you were to put the republican and democrat parties on that scale, they would both be very close and somewhere next to France's RPR (sortof republican). so you see, to someone used to seeing a great variety of political parties, the choice between republicans and democrats is really irrelevant, since they will pretty much do the same thing with just a few minor differences. There, i guess that's all i have to say.

Inherited money is seldom actually liquid (2)

MemRaven (39601) | about 14 years ago | (#695732)

Hmmmm..... you seem not to understand how the liquidity effect happens.

consider the money stored in charitable foundations. Typically those are setup as true "foundations" according to the law, and that involves a couple of things:

The foundation must spend a certain percentage of its assets every year. This usually means funding programs, which employ people, who spend more money, etc. This ends up having the same effect as government spending, which is probably the biggest promotor of growth in an otherwise stagnant economy. If you build a wing on a library, you have to hire people to build it, design it, clean it, buy books, etc.

The foundation invests the money it hasn't been spending in order to maintain the foundation. While this money isn't then used actively, it has the same money multiplier effect as if I just sat there and invested on ETrade.

Now consider someone who just sits there on his money. If they're really serious about wealth protection, it's in bond funds, money markets, annuities, etc., which are all probably in some offshore country (switzerland, Luxembourg, the Caymans, etc.). This has some money multiplier effect, but less than spending a large portion of it every year, and is probably less likely to help than maintaining the endowment of a foundation, because it's being held elsewhere in low-yielding investments.

I'm not arguing for a tax-the-rich policy. I think that it's largely wrong to overly tax inheritance, and the example of France shows that it just transfers money to corporations (look at family wineries in France....there are very few of any size remaining, because the inheritance laws encourage sell-offs to corporations and require splitting the land if you have multiple children). That's not very good either.

But don't say that having scions just holding all money is a positive economic effect. Your high school economics class may have taught you something, but obviously not THAT much.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

Yo_mama (72429) | about 14 years ago | (#695733)

Ah, money makes money, but wasn't our country set up for the benifit of PEOPLE and not small green pieces of paper?

Non-profits are good for helping disadvantaged people pull themselves up out of that bottom part of the pyramid to make the diamond shape real.

Too many people are emphasizing the health of the economy over the health of the populace. There needs to be a balance.

The richest 10% control 90% of the wealth... (3)

isaac (2852) | about 14 years ago | (#695734)

...and so you won't hear me wailing about how unfair it is that they pay 1/3 or even 1/2 of all taxes.


My history with Brin, for what it is. (3)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 14 years ago | (#695735)

Hey, anyone on slashdot have David Brin's email address? He's always been a man I wanted to communicate with. Mostly, I think, to explain my love/hate attitude towards him. I need some closure on this.

It started in '92 when I met him at a sci-fi con. I'm a physicist who wants to write; he's a writer who learned physics. (Or so he told me then.) I was annoying, I admit, following him for about half an hour asking how one could do both physics and sci-fi at the same time. And he eventually rebuffed me as I deserved. After reading Startide Rising and Sundiver, see, I was just another worshipping fanboy, and although he was polite he did remind me that he was just human and I should get a life.

Then came what I call the 'political' era of Brin's writing, and I lost some interest in him as an author. Still a good thinker, though. After the IMO failed stories of his last trilogy, I find myself still reading Brin for his political and opinion pieces. I lost taste for his writing, even though he's the man I wanted to emulate...but I'm learning more from him now than before.

Now I'm a bit older, a bit wiser, I have a life and I've had one story published so far. (I'm planning on more, but I'm in no rush. I too shall one day spawn a trilogy or three. ;) ) And here he's giving me reasons to hold my nose and vote for someone, when I'm so far planning to not even vote because of how depressing the choices are this election.

It's an interesting cycle I'm in with David Brin. I act childish, and get kicked in the ass. I grow up. I act childish again, and get kicked in the ass again. Pardon me, I think it's time I registered to vote.

Libertarians voting for Gore?!?! (1)

Mathetes (132911) | about 14 years ago | (#695736)

* For those of you who are libertarians, see the next issue of LIBERTY magazine for an article about ideas like these. Ideas about freedom and "reduced government" that are worth campaigning for and that aren't about helping foster an old-fashioned inherited aristocracy in America. When you think about how many interesting things Cheney & co. could be talking about - like ending the Drug War - you'll wind up holding your nose and voting for Gore.
Why in the world would anyone who considers him/herself Libertarian vote for Al Gore?? Al Gore is as much an Authoritarian [] as G.W. Bush!

Why gore? (1)

voice of unreason (231784) | about 14 years ago | (#695737)

Please note: I am independant, not Democrat. I have even voted Republican at times. BUT:

1. The economy is not as stable as most think. It fluxes more and more each day, and is becoming unpredictable. A loss of confidence could cause problems, as could numerous other things.

2. If it keeps up, we might have a recession or depression, depending on the severity of the economic downturn.

3. It requires a smart man to steer a troubled economy.

4. Bush is not a smart man.

Any questions?

Oh, boy... (1)

update() (217397) | about 14 years ago | (#695738)

  1. Regarding 2000 vs. 2001: Duh. People care about the turning over of the calendrical odometer, not the reckoning of a round number from a retroactively established, inaccurate starting point. Or is Brin surprised that the smarty-pantses who were chirping about how 2001 is the real millenium were motivated more by the desire to act superior than by sincere concern for mathematical precision?
  2. To me, the most interesting thought as we approach 2001 is to look back a year. Remember when we were seriously considering the possibility of widespread technological, economic and even social catastrophe?
  3. Will Slashdot give me an opportunity to hold forth on my crackpot political philosophy too? Unlike David Brin, at least I haven't written tens of thousands of words about how upset I am over Yoda's treatment of Luke.
  4. If Slashdot is so concerned about giving Brin a soapbox, wouldn't (An aside: I am working with a group developing ways to simplify the income tax code using a computer program that will find politically neutral simplifications, taking the whole issue out of politics. It's an exciting project, requiring fascinating algorithms, but more than we can get into here.) be a more appropriate and interesting topic?


I'm getting kind of sick of this (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | about 14 years ago | (#695739)

Out of curiousity, did the Gore Campain buy slashdot while I wasn't looking? It seems that the dear authors of this website seem to post this Gore is God stuff on a rather frequent basis. I do remember one thing that got posted that had a pro-Republican comment and *naturally* the admin who posted it felt obligated to say something about both parties doing this, presumably for the need of balance!

I have Slashdot as my homepage. I am not sure this is going to last much longer.

Re:Remember - the richest 10% pay most of the taxe (2)

technos (73414) | about 14 years ago | (#695740)

If indeed they are paying such a large slice of the pie than I say great!

The top 10% make more money than the bottom 90% combined! Just think, the assets of the US's two richest people match the combined assets of the bottom 25%!!!

/.'s new favorite sport (2)

Janthkin (32289) | about 14 years ago | (#695741)

Well, it seems that Katz bashing and M$ bashing have been pushed aside in favor of something new: Republican bashing!

In all seriousness, folks, this piece goes pretty far (okay, VERY far) past moderation. Yes, most politicians are not the brightest of folks. Yes, they're mostly not geeks. But they are charismatic, and that's why they make good front men for the ideals behind them.

Probably the MOST disturbing idea in the above nonsense, for me at least, is the idea that the wealthy owe proportionately MORE to the country, simply because they've done well. If you're a failure, society will pick up the bill for you. If you're doing all right (read: middle class), society wants some back. If you've come up with something truly interesting, and are making big bucks, society will grab everything it can, and try for more. This leads to convoluted tax code, as the wealthy find it FAR cheaper to pay lots of lobbyists than to pay the taxes they might otherwise owe. As to inheritance tax: the constitution forbids double jeopardy: the government isn't allowed two bites out of the apple, in criminal matters. But inheritance tax gives them (at least) two HUGE bites out of the financial apple: this money is taxed when it is earned (income tax), taxed as it grows (capital gains tax), and taxed AGAIN after you die, and want to leave it to your kids (inheritance tax). And we wonder WHY people try to hide money overseas??

Elloquent, well-structured nonsense remains nonsense.

Re:The president has advisors (1)

Brian See (11276) | about 14 years ago | (#695742)

"The president need not know anything of ecconomics to run the country when he has capable assistants who can do the job."

Sure, I'll accept that the president has capable advisors. But, all things being equal, wouldn't you rather have an intelligent president instead of one than needs to be hand-held through the decision making process?

Re:Bush vs. Gore (2)

Dr. Sp0ng (24354) | about 14 years ago | (#695743)

I wonder if they realise exactly how little their "my freedom is important to me" comments seem when they are giving control over their mind to something else. (save the crap about the expanded soul please, it's still morning here)

Alcohol is legal, is it not? Why should somebody who enjoys using a different mind-altering substance be thrown in jail when you can go down to the bar and get completely cocked? I don't like alcohol - it just doesn't appeal to me. Pot does. Does that mean I'm a menace to society and belong in jail?

Once again... (1)

Stalcair (116043) | about 14 years ago | (#695744)

I still don't understand why Bush is refered to as stupid, yet Gore is not... or even worse, Gore is smart.

Well, maybe flunking isn't all that important, but as a simple point of comparison it definetely asks for some consideration. And if bush's "promised" plans are stupid, yet gores are not, I do not trust this persons ability to think in a scientific manner.

The "have seen the light" about welfare reform is a semi-accurate statement. On one hand, we have the administration vetoing and opposing reform earlier, yet more recently began to give in. Good for them... well, actually good for everyone. On the other hand, we have the promises of welfare and social security reform in 1992, yet the only things that have happened have been opposed by clinton/gore and other democrats. It seems to me, that along with all the other broken promises of all politicians, people would not be so taken and led by words.

If one is a scientist and wishes to study what has worked and what has not (effects) than it would behove one to not listen to the words as much as the underlying meaning and plan. I can say I will make pigs grow wings and fly, but until I either show you a plan, or a prototype flying pig... it is just words. Plus, if in the past I have made many such promises, (not to mention that at the same time promised to another group that I was against genetic manipulation of animals) but not delivered, then that sets a record.

Also important is to remember that a beaurocrat is a beaurocrat, whether in government or business. The difference is that government beaurocrats enjoy a lack of accountability. If a business hurts you, you can sue for reperation, and maybe even press criminal charges. Not with the government, most of it anyways.

Then again, if the media told everyone that bush was a child molestor, people would believe it. Sheep. Some sheep have degrees, some have high paying jobs, but most are just sheep. When people judge one candidate on a basis, then don't judge another on the same basis, then that shows a lack of logical thinking and using a logical process. If someone supports gore, fine.... don't make justifications and excuses for his incompetence, dishonesty, and sleaziness. Same with bush or any other.

Politics and the american public remind me of football. Supporters of one team will always call "unfair" if the ref makes a call against their team, no matter what the instant replay shows. (ego is a very strong thing) Yet, 15 minutes later will jump up and shout WOOHOO if the ref does the same thing to the opposing team. They justify that as being fair and balanced. I guess I consider myself a ref, not a fan. And right now I see both teams wearing very similar jerseys. However I have noticed a lot more fouls and cheating on one team. Being the ref, I don't make excuses for either one, but I sure get annoyed at the fans who are so one sided.

Rich pay more now (1)

vluther (5638) | about 14 years ago | (#695745)

As for Gore's favorite line about Bush's tax cuts
giving more money to the Richest.. simple math.

I pay 1000 in taxes,
you pay 100 in taxes.

now we both get 10% back of what we paid..
who gets more back ? and who still paid more in taxes ?
The math isn't too hard is it ?

Why do the rich get taxed at a higher percent rate (1)

AndroSyn (89960) | about 14 years ago | (#695746)

This is a question that I've long pondered. To me it doesn't seem right that just because you make more money that somebody else, means that your required by law to pay more taxes, per dollar than somebody else.

Think about it, why should net income be a deciding factor regarding in income taxes? What is wrong with a flat tax rate, of say 20% across the board. Everybody will end up paying their share of the costs of running government.

Of course in this country nobody wants to talk about fair or equality. It comes down to class warfare. The middle class envy the wealthy for being wealthy, and they feel that they should have to pay a greater percentage of taxes for being wealthy, almost as a form of punishment for being finanically successful.

Consider if somebody who made, for example $1 million dollars a year, and the IRS takes, $300k of that, their ends up being $300k of money that cannot circulate back into the economy. Now if he was given a tax break of say 10%, he now has $100k extra to invest into various business ventures, purchase of goods etc. $100k can easily pay the wages of 2 middle class workers. Yes, I know basically what I'm pointing out is trickle down economics, which in my opinion does work. I think a lot of our economic prosperity it due to the policies of the Reagan/Bush administrations. How you ask? Well economic policies don't affect the economy over night, sometimes it can be a matter of years before the changes work through all levels of the economy. Notice that as we come to the end of Clinton's 8 years in office, the economy is showing signs of slowing. Perhaps this could be the result of 8 years of Clinton economic policy?

I guess we'll all decide in just a few weeks now how we feel about the issue....

Impressive. (1)

darksmurf (190761) | about 14 years ago | (#695747)

That's an impressive article, I would like to see it in a distributal form with stats and whatnot that I could take to all those places downtown with the "prayer for Bush" flyers and give them some mindshare competition.

Hmm, maybe I will just write one, I think this could have done alot better without the fluff.


-- is waiting for someone to suggest this whole thing could be done so much better on BSD.

trickle-down economics (1)

websensei (84861) | about 14 years ago | (#695748)

...didn't work too well under Reagan

Re:This is scary stuff (1)

Elgon (234306) | about 14 years ago | (#695749)

I have to agree with Archangel M. here: the principle that 'the government knows best' is a hateful idea...*shudder*.

I rather liked a comment that Regan made in the eighties about the difference between the US and the (then) USSR:

"Our countries are both alike in the we have constitutions: Yours sets out the rights of the people and so forth, whereas our says that the people will allow the govenment to do the following things."

Anyway inheritance tax? In the UK it is 40% of anything over £140,000 (This may not be exactly right but is of the correct order of magnitude, circa $225,000) which is not chickenfeed. Secondly, as all watcher of "The Mark Thoams Product" know, if you wish to avoid paying inheritance tax on an item of art or suchlike you must allow the public to see it within 30ish days of the request.

Finally, I love the idea that all rich kids are layabouts who just have a good time on Dad or Mom's money. How about sayng that all white southern US citizens are unemployed rednecks...uhh, crass generalisation?

I like David Brin's books but this letter sucks.


Re:This is scary stuff (2)

11223 (201561) | about 14 years ago | (#695750)

Aha, but Socalism requires some view of the common good of humanity (or at least your country), which is curiously absent from modern political discussion (unlike it was in our country's early days, up to about 1950.) What a way to live.

Re:What a load of liberal nonsense (1)

GangstaLean (102189) | about 14 years ago | (#695751)

Economics is a science, and one still in its infancy.

There's a reason that we discuss economic theories, because the social world is too complicated to be determined by mathematics alone.

IMHO, the greatest problem with eliminating the inheritance tax is that is will most likely lead to focusing money into discrete groups in society. These groups may not always have the best ideas on how to make money with their money, and it may be poured into bad investments.

The best way to increase available capital is clearly to increase the flow of money throughout society. Inheritance tax is one way to increase that flow by redistributing it from a highly concentrated segment (the extremely wealthy) to other segments.

A Silly and Inacurate Letter. (1)

Matthew Sullivan (83658) | about 14 years ago | (#695752)

The idea of an inheritance tax is supremely unfair. Were not taxes already taken out of the money when it was first earned? Now when a person dies and they want to give their kids the money, its none of our business how much money! The money is then taxed again? How is that fair? So long as a person makes their money legally then it is none of our business how much he makes. Just because he makes a lot of money does that mean he uses the roads more often the I do?

Another thing, the letter seems to imply that because Gore is pro-choice that women must therefore be on his side. This is simply not the case. According to a poll conducted by NOW (The National Organization for Women) 52% of women describe themselves as pro-life. This is an issue that is always assumed to be drawn along gender lines, but its not! The evidence shows that its not.

If I was to do a poll based upon the buttons that I see then I would think that Nader has overwhelming support by women. I've seen several women on my campus wearing Nader/LaDuke buttons.

I do not support Nader because I disagree with him on a lot of issues. But if I did agree with him more than I do with Gore I would vote him. In many ways are sacrificing your voice if you vote against your beliefs for the sake of winning immediately. Look, if Nader gets more than 5% he has serious potential to grow. If Gore or Bush are elected very similar paths will be taken with regards to the very weighty issues like Foreign Policy and increasing the welfare states' money handed out. Whereas Buchannon and Nader have pledge to pull all of our troops out of Germany, Italy, South Korea, Japan, etc. Plus B & N have radical new ideas for recreating our economy. Personally I don't like their ideas but if you do and you want your opinion paid attention to then for heavens sake, vote for who you agree with most! Anything else may help you win immediately but you will lose in the long run.

Re:Capital makes us wealthy; death tax destroy cap (1)

p0six (23324) | about 14 years ago | (#695753)

Let us examine your argument that "Death tax destorys capital". Irregardless of wether or not you think that these farmers in question have to sell their land, do you honestly think that selling their land is "destroying their capital"? For one, them selling their land merely means that someone else now has land (more capital for someone else!). Now, suppose these fictional farmers can't support their farm becuase of the inheritence tax. So they sell their farm. I bet they make a hefty sum of cash (liquidifying their capital). THERE IS NOTHING PREVENTING THEM FROM BUYING ANOTHER BUSINESS. So suppose they do buy another business. What do we have then? Capital->Cash->Capital! Minus some money out for taxes, of course. My point being, just selling land does not "destroy" capital. Capital can be bought and sold, sometimes for a profit, sometimes for a loss, but that's just the way the market works. The only way to "destroy" capital is 1. through depreciation (that's an entirely different book alltogether), and 2. bad investments (i.e. investing in a company that tanks, another subject that should have its' own book alltogether)

Re:Capital makes us wealthy; death tax destroy cap (1)

handorf (29768) | about 14 years ago | (#695756)

Um... you can't DESTROY capital with taxes. The Government SPENDS all it's money every year. It goes to contractors and employees and other groups.

It gets redistributed. Trickle down, remember? Just think of the government as another big business.

Re:2000 AD: BFD. (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | about 14 years ago | (#695757)

Besides, only lamers need holidays as an excuse for a party.


"Wow, the earth hasn't been incinerated by gamma ray bursts today! Party!!!"

Your Working Boy,

European inheritance tax: Mr. Brin has it wrong. (1)

SysKoll (48967) | about 14 years ago | (#695758)

Get this -- in the USA, charitable giving by the rich is MORE THAN TEN TIMES as high as it is in Europe! Studies credit most of this difference to the inheritance tax, spurring the wealthy to use their money to buy fame and gratitude, rather than let Uncle Sam decide how it will be spent.

Well, as a French guy, I can assure you that the inheritance tax in most european countries is absolutely staggering. In France, it's 33% (yep, one third). Inherit a $90,000 appartment? You owe the taxman a cool $30,000 plus various notarial fees (for appraisal). Generally, you end up selling it at a fraction of its value. No buyer? No big deal, the State just confiscate it.

So, According to Mr. Brin's reasoning, this ought to be a mighty powerful incentive for charity, right? Wrong: Charity donations per inhabitant in Europe are well below the US level, even after adjustment for GNP ratio.

The real incentive of the massive US donations seems different. It might be that the European non-gouvernmental charities are lobbying for subsides and are getting it from governments, and don't waste time on raising funds from individuals. It might also be a different tax dedu ction structure, which makes tax-lowering through donations much more efficient in the US than in Europe.

So I am afraid that Brin's whole line of reasoning is built on faulty assumptions and faulty data.

Disclaimer: I don't vote in the US, obviously, but I hate to see a "scientist" throw hogwash to defend a political agenda.


P.S. Also,we all know that Hemos is a frippin' liberal already, don't we :-) ? So this feature is pretty useless.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?