Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Liberal. Or Not.

with 13 comments

Here’s where we are.

I started to feel a little ill in a summer cold/maybe flu kind of way on Saturday, and I thought it would be over in no time.

Instead, it’s been getting worse and worse, and today I feel as if I’ve been hit by a Mack truck.

And then it backed up.

I’ve got two links below, both on the question of what is a liberal.

The first one is sort of wishy washy.  The second one is by Charles Murray.

I think what’s going on is that a number of people–Murray among them–are trying to figure out the differences between liberal as it was long understood in the US–and even the world–and what we’ve got now.

I think it’s interesting to note that the pulls of the ideologies we now call “progressive” and “conservative” go all the way back to the founding and before.

But I feel really bad, and I’m going to go away now.



Written by janeh

July 2nd, 2014 at 8:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

13 Responses to 'Liberal. Or Not.'

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  1. Look after yourself and get well soon, Jane. We need you.


    2 Jul 14 at 9:49 am

  2. I’d have said the first one had to improve a little even to make wishy-washy. “All we need to do is increase taxes and regulation and this time, it will work!” Ordinary peoples’ incomes stopped rising as soon as LBJ and Nixon introduced the country to complex and uncertain regulations–and expanded and VERY certain regulators–but somehow the left never makes the connection.

    Murray did a nice job–on paper. The social conservatives and the libertarians both sometimes win Republican primaries and general elections, so I try to be careful to distinguish the two. And just as soon as a Murray-definition liberal takes back a college campus or wins a Democratic primary, I’ll try to make that distinction too.

    Of course, this has to happen before I die of old age. At present, that’s not how I’d bet.


    2 Jul 14 at 5:48 pm

  3. I’m still looking for workable definitions of “liberal” and “conservative” but doubt that I will ever find them.

    The Murray article was better but the first article said “No size fits all and no policy works well for long.” which is something everyone needs to remember.

    I think many of our problems come from forgetting the advise “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

    US Social Security was developed at a time when average life expectancy was less than 65. The people who planned it are no longer alive and don’t have to deal with the problems of retirement at 65 and average age of death 78.

    Everyone has a right to an adequate education sounded fine when school leaving age was 15 and a class size of 40 was acceptable. Its much harder when adequate education is defined as a university degree and class size is expected to be 20.

    Making promises now which must be carried out by people not yet born is bound to lead to trouble in the next generation.


    2 Jul 14 at 6:26 pm

  4. jd, three cheers. If I had my way, EVERY law, from homicide statutes to old age pensions would have a “sunset” clause, and go off the books if not voted afresh every so many years. As it stands, a congress and president pass a law and when they are long in their graves the spending–or other harmful provisions–go on, and all the provisions in the Constitution meant to keep laws from being passed now function to keep the mistake from being corrected.

    It would also mean we couldn’t have more law then Congress could pass in that interval. I’d call that abonus.


    2 Jul 14 at 8:12 pm

  5. “Ordinary peoples’ incomes stopped rising as soon as LBJ and Nixon introduced the country to complex and uncertain regulations”



    Income tracked increases in productivity reasonably well for decades. Including, quite nicely LBJ’s AND Nixon’s terms. It dipped during Ford’s term, but resumed its upward trend at about the same level “below” productivity as the late 40’s and early 50’s.

    When it tanked was when Ronald the real clown took office and started spouting nonsense about “the Laffer Curve” — and taxes on the wealthiest Amercians came way down. Reagan re-raised some taxes, but the wealthy and corporations started making out like the proverbial raped apes, and the rest of us just keep getting an aluminum bat in the face.

  6. Try the Median income figures instead, Michael. But that’s just for confirmation. You only have to see the money flowing to our regulators–speaking fees or lobbyist fees and in inflated salaries for those between government positions–to realize they’ve invented a new game regular people can’t play.
    Compare Glass-Steagal with our current banking “reform” or take a look at the 40 page cap and trade bill some Freshman congresscritter produced–and the 4,000 page one that came close.

    The serious money today is in passing long bills which then are “interpreted” by the bureaucracy–or in renting a politician to help the interpretation.

    Which is why the rest of the country is still hurting, but the DC suburbs are doing just fine.


    3 Jul 14 at 4:43 am

  7. Robert: “Try the Median income figures instead…”

    Title of graph:
    “Productivity and real median family income growth”

    The chart is of median income.

  8. What do the Reagan (and, to be fair, the JFK and GWB) tax cuts have to do with the median income figures, Mike?

    Income tax is applied to income already earned which is neither increased nor decreased directly by the income tax levied or paid by any individual. Taking, say, 50% or even 100% of a 1 percenter’s income in tax is not going to increase the income of a 99 percenter by one red cent.

    What you are talking about is _disposable_ income, and the only sane answer to arguments about the gaps between the “rich” and the “poor” is “So what?”. Such gaps have always existed everywhere in the world, and always will. Taxation may be used to raise revenue to alleviate problems of the poor (but usually won’t because they’ll be gobbled up by the ever growing and ever hungry bureaucracies), but even direct handouts of cash will in no way increase the incomes of the poor or middle classes sufficiently to make any significant effect on the gap.

    Finally, this article suggests that revenues increase when taxes are cut. The Laffer Curve may not be quite as open and shut as is often said, but the basic idea seems well demonstrated by history.



    3 Jul 14 at 9:53 am


    Yes, if You Cut Taxes, You Get Less Tax Revenue
    Kansas Tax Cut Leaves Brownback With Less Money”


  10. Fine, but you obviously didn’t look at the Federal income tax graph I linked to. Since 1960, lower tax rates led to higher revenue – right through the JFK, Reagan and Bush presidencies.

    But, once again, what has any of that got to do with the gap between the rich and poor that you keep moaning about?


    3 Jul 14 at 12:24 pm

  11. Michael, in your honor, I actually followed your link. You’ll notice median income on your own selected graph starts flatlining about 1970–surely a little early to blame Reagan? America’s last year of 6% GDP growth–except under Reagan–was 1966. That’s also just about the last time out of office politicians had to find real jobs, by the way: Nixon is actually practicing corporate law about then instead of collecting quarter-million dollar “speaking fees” from a cowed populace.

    So I think I’ll stick with the Great Society as an inflection point. But the charts and graphs are basically decorative. Once you see businessmen shoveling money at even out of office politicians, you know the fix is in, and it’s not going to be good times for anyone who can’t afford a Congressman of his own. I don’t know how to change that without changing the nature of the regulatory state.


    3 Jul 14 at 7:08 pm

  12. A few random thoughts.

    I am tired of the continuous repetition of 1%. It sounds more like propaganda poster than a significant economic figure.

    The US has a population of 300 million. $10 per person comes to $3 billion. A billion is not a large amount of money when spread over the US population.

    Rolls Royce makes a small profit by selling cars to the 1%. Toyota makes a large profit by selling cars to the 99%. The difference between owning a Rolls Royce and a Corolla is of little concern to me provided I have a car.


    3 Jul 14 at 7:21 pm

  13. I take Robert’s point. We do it a bit differently down here where the political parties park their retirees in cushy government sinecures for life.

    But the 1-99% rubbish is just politics of envy.


    3 Jul 14 at 8:38 pm

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