My MLK

Chris H. is a Friend of the Blog. He says: “I am married to Lyndee and the father of Todd, Shem, and Geneva. I was born in Washington, DC and raised in the suburbs of Maryland. I attended Ricks College and went on to earn my BA and MA at the University of Utah. I am working on my doctoral dissertation at Idaho State University. My primary academic interest is political philosophy, particularly the work of John Rawls.

I am currently a visiting instructor of political science at BYU where I am teaching political philosophy, American political thought, and American Heritage. Prior to this school year, I taught at BYU-Idaho for three years. I have also taught philosophy at Utah Valley University.

My blogging exploits can be found at Faith-Promoting Rumor.”

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my very favorite figures in the history of American politics and social thought. I have always had a special respect for the civil rights movement, even during my days as a conservative. But King himself holds a special place in my thinking today. I think this is largely because King represented a form of left- leaning liberalism that died in American politics when he died in Memphis.

Some of his greatest moments are the moments which made him a controversial figure during his day. In many ways, our image of King as a non-controversial figure misses out of some of the things which make him great.

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, he rejects calls to wait rather than act, we see the most eloquent and passionate rejection of Burkean gradualism since Thomas Paine. In American thought, King is very much a mixture of Paine and Thoreau: a advocate of a rights revolution of non-violence. I am not sure if you can beat that.

His “Beyond Vietnam” speech stands as one of the most articulate moral arguments against that war. While we are well aware of the eventual widespread opposition to the Vietnam War, King’s 1967 speech was before the public turned against it. He took a stand against the war before most public officials would do so publicly (almost a year before Walter Conkite’s famed turn against the prudence of the war). The part of the speech which stands out most to me is his assertion that the Vietnamese were people, too. This is a truth that was lost on our war policy of that time, and ours.

When I lived in Idaho, it is not unusual to see a letter to the editor which complained about Martin Luther King Day because King was a communist. The best part of the communist charge is that it is false and a relic of a time when unpopular figure of the left was a communist. He was an egalitarian and a radical one at that. He was a critic of American capitalism. This might make him some form of social democrat or socialist (I proudly claim to be both) but he is anything but a Soviet Marxist. In many way he was a Hugh Nibley with social organization skills.

Of course, you have to keep in mind that these myths are usually spread by John Birch Society-types who consider William F. Buckley and George Will to be communists. Within Mormon culture, this perspective of King and the Civil Rights movement was advocated by Ezra Taft Benson. Mainstream conservativism and the GOP long ago distanced itself from this lunacy. We are stuck with it.

I relate strongly to the world-view when he stated in his “Where Do We Go From Here” in 1967:

What I’m saying to you this morning is that Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

I love King for his willingness to go beyond basic civil and voting rights and to call for a more equal America. It is also why his vision is still a vision for our day, though a very distant vision. We have spent the last 40 years moving away from King’s vision of a more egalitarian society. Am I hopeful that his dream will ever be realized? I am not sure anymore. If anything I am more pessimistic than ever about the prospect of a just America.

Do I believe in the dream? Absolutely. The whole dream.

Comments

  1. Thanks BCC (Steve and John) for allowing me this opportunity.

  2. Wonderful. Thank you.

  3. I’m pessimistic, too, but perhaps slightly less so after reading this post. Rather than allow our memories to devolve into bitterness and resentment, if we can keep reminding ourselves that we know better, perhaps there is purpose in remaining hopeful.

  4. Good stuff, Chris. I don’t know enough about the man, but my students (on Friday at UVU) were arguing that he wasn’t a gadfly (ala Socrates). I asked if they had ever read Letter From Birmingham Jail (they said no). If my students are any indication, we seem to have collectively forgotten how radical he was.

    I wonder if this is a product of a sort of societal amnesia regarding the segregation era. If a non-violent man convinced America to change, it must not have been that bad. But MLK, Jr. was a thorn in the side of a lot of powerful people and there is a reason he encountered a lone gunman.

    Thank you for this remembrance.

  5. John,

    I think that MLK represents the best aspects of Socrates, in that he challenged the system, including more cherished aspects of that system (capitalism and the military machine). However, unlike Socrates (at least in the portrait of Socrates given to us by Plato), King embraces the political aspect of his soles. Philosophy meets social change.

  6. roles, not soles. Though he did make good use of his soles in the pursuit of a more righteous public soul.

  7. Chino,

    I find myself often devolving into bitterness, especially as even modest health reform struggles here. Yet, bitterness is self-defeating. Thanks.

  8. “The best part of the communist charge is that it is false and a relic of a time when unpopular figure of the left was a communist.”

    Yes, things have changed. Now we have a left-leaning centrist president who happen to be black. This person is called a communist not by an LDS apostle but by a dry-drunk convert with a show on Fox News. I’m sure Martin is letting the missionaries into his spirit-world dwelling as we type…

  9. MLK is my favourite American. God bless the man.

  10. Emma, my hope is that he can see beyond that from his vantage point. Maybe, President Benson has received the Civil Rights discussions in the Spirit World as well :)

  11. We talked about MLK in tonight’s FHE; grieved at the British hand in African oppression; encouraged our children to read and remember 2 Ne 26:33; and watched Amazing Grace in order to honour an English MLK — William Wilberforce.

  12. “Maybe, President Benson has received the Civil Rights discussions in the Spirit World as well :)”

    This comment made my day.

  13. Thanks for your thoughts, Chris.

  14. Good stuff, Chris. Living in (Martin Luther) King (, Jr.) County, Washington (apologies to the original namesake, Thomas King), and sometimes driving or riding the light rail along Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Seattle, I wonder if these token gestures of honor and similar eponymous streets in nearly every city in America have contributed to complacency in honoring what King actually dreamed, said, and did.

  15. This is why I think King won:

    Non-violent Christianity. This is in the end why I think he won. He shamed the South. Its hard for Christians to have their sins held up to the light and not make a change. Thats essentially what I think happened in the South. If there had been violence on the part of Kings people the strategy would not have worked.

  16. Mark your calendars — bbell and I are in perfect agreement.

  17. Any day I see a Chris H byline is a nice day for me, but this is especially beautiful and thought-provoking. Thanks, Chris.

  18. Chris writes: “Emma, my hope is that he can see beyond that from his vantage point. Maybe, President Benson has received the Civil Rights discussions in the Spirit World as well.”

    More likely is that Ezra Taft Benson is preaching the gospel to Martin Luther King and other “progressives.”

  19. Since part of the theme of this excellent post is to remember that King (and many figures in the Civil Rights Movement) were seen as radicals then as opposed to their consensus acceptance now, allow me to suggest a few issues where King’s principles suggest we are just as off-base now as then:

    -“What I’m saying to you this morning is that Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.” The extreme blind faith (as opposed to the active discovering faith the scriptures enjoin us to have) that many church members have in capitalist systems despite their repeated failures is made perhaps even more striking for their contrast to the principles of the United Order that were attempted in early church history. While that extreme may have proven unworkable then, surely we as a church have a responsibility to see the organization of our society as not purely driven by individual needs, but rather as modern revelation and King’s statement here point, a higher synthesis?

    -“the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together”: This is a near perfect description of two situations that are sadly very tied together. (1) Current US wars in the Middle East – though they have many predecessors going back to the dawn of modern America and in modern times to at least the Spanish American War – wherein barely concealed racism against Muslim and Arab peoples, the exploitation of those countries natural resources and the subsequent propping up of dictatorships, and the wars we wage to vent and sustain the above are inextricably tied. With the dehumanization of those we kill – the numbers of their dead and wounded exceed our by an order of magnitude yet we barely bat at an eye or consider their stories except when we allow ourselves to be seen as a hero in rescuing 1 out of the 1000s we helped kill – we say that they are not human in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or Pakistan just as King decried us acting in a manner that said quite clearly we didn’t consider the Vietnamese human. And (2) the state of Israel that the US and most church members give near blind support to. A state that in fact is almost the perfect incarnation of the Jim Crow south, only where Palestinian Arabs play the role of blacks and white racists are played by Zionist racists. King’s principles say we are on the wrong side of right here in the starkest terms, yet we find ways to tarnish with labels (all Palestinians are “terrorists” just as civil rights supporters were “communists”, while erroneous twisting of the scriptures is trotted out to support Israeli thievery and murder which all supposedly trump the most basic of commandments).

    King was revolutionary, his principles have real world applications today that suggest there are many issues on which we as a society are very very wrong. Will we see it, or just pat ourselves on the back this MLK day?

  20. chris! thanks for the heads up on the post.

    it’s wonderful. you never disappoint.

    m

  21. Martin Luther King taught us that one person who stands up for justice, integrity, and freedom can make a big difference. We can learn much from his example.

  22. Having some memory of Dr. King from my growing up years, I recall my parents looking at him with a fair deal of mistrust. They bought into a lot of the prevailing “he’s a communist” rhetoric. I had begun reevaluating him from my own perspective as I got into my teenage years and read a little more about him. But it wasn’t until after his death in 1968 that I realized what a heroic figure he had been.

    I listened to a discussion of his recently recovered speech in Kansas from 1960, where he talked about not wanting to be, if I recall the words right, “socially acceptable”, if that meant continuing the status quo. His focus may have started with civil rights, but it had expanded to the realm of world peace and women’s rights by the time of his death. He continually challenged our comfortable assertions with calls to be better and do better. I hope we don’t forget him.

  23. Steven (#19),

    Perhaps. But if ETB were talking to MLK at all, we’d know President Benson had had a significant change of mind and heart.

  24. Steven,
    My tolerance for propaganda is relatively low, so I only got through a couple of paragraphs of your latest link. Was that person seriously arguing that believing that two ideas can influence one another to produce a third, better alternative is a direct path to the Stalinist purge? Because that seems crazy.

    Also, I could be misreading, because of the low tolerance for propaganda leading me to drop out quick. Please let me know.

  25. Chris H, can you elaborate on this sentence:

    “We have spent the last 40 years moving away from King’s vision of a more egalitarian society.”

    I’d agree we haven’t fulfilled King’s dream completely, but I don’t think we’re moving in the opposite direction of it. Is that what you mean to say?

  26. Emily U,

    I can’t speak for Chris, but if he meant egalitarian in an economic sense, we’ve absolutely been moving in the opposite direction. Mainly due to the influence of Milton-Friedman-inspired Reaganite and Thatcherite economic policies implemented not just in the US and UK but internationally through World Bank loans and such, the world is a much, much, much more economically stratified place than it was then. The haves have a LOT more, and the have nots are a lot more plentiful.

  27. re: 29
    I wonder about this sometime: Is the U.S. really more economy polarized now than in, say 1960? Does anybody have any information on this?

    I’m just not sure that the world is a “much, much, much more economically stratified place than it was then.” Hundreds of millions of new middle class people in Korea, China and India would beg to differ, that’s for sure.

  28. Mike,

    #30,

    in terms of economic polarization, by far, the richest 1% are way farther ahead than they were in the 1960s. But you have to remember, by the 1960s, tax levels on the ultra rich were at extremely high levels. In the 1950s, the richest Americans were taxed at 90%. Also in the 1960s, Johnson passed his big legislations that brought more equality among the masses. Reagan rose up as a counter to the egalitarian measures Johnson passed in the 60s. Reagan cut the taxes to the ultra rich down to 50% and lower. By Bush’s term, the ultra rich had a tax rate of 35%. That’s awfully low, and one of the natural consequence of that is that the ultra rich get ultra richer. Meanwhile, the lower and middle classes have not been able to keep up with inflation since Ronald Reagan cut taxes for the rich. Thus the middle and lower classes have remained stagnant. At the same time, they increased their spending with credit, thus putting the lower and middle classes in a terrible bind. Not only have they not kept up with the ultra rich, but they are now terribly in debt. This is, of course, unsustainable for the long run.

  29. I feel like I’m in a time warp. Skousen reappears, then Schwarz? When may I expect to see the reanimated corpse of Joseph McCarthy? Makes me want to listen to Stairway to Heaven in reverse and read Fascinating Womanhood.

    Ugh.

  30. Matthew L. says:

    Thanks, Chris. This is a nice piece.

    #11. Thanks for the FHE idea. Amazing Grace is a little over the heads of my children, so we’ll be watching “The Children’s March” (produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teachingtolerance.org)

  31. Daniel,

    I must add, too, that Republican tax cuts for the rich were never accompanied by cuts in spending. All the Republican presidents since and including Reagan increased government spending dramatically, despite claims of fiscal conservatism–in no small part to fund their tax cuts for the wealthy. Likewise, worker productivity in the U.S. has increased dramatically in the last 30 years, boosting the GDP, but that has not been accompanied by anything close to a commensurate increase in average worker wages. In other words, the U.S. has created incredible wealth, but it has been shared in a very, very lopsided way.

  32. Um, Steven, actually, it’s Hegel. Read up on it.

  33. Chris,

    If MLK’s big critique was against capitalism and the military machine, we’ve certainly failed at that as a society. The sad part is we’re nowhere close to the end of our militaristic run. We’re more on the climb toward the peak.

  34. Jeremy,

    #34,

    well put.

  35. Steven (19): You missed the smiley face.

    As for your links: all complete rubbish. Thanks.

  36. bbell, the non-violent strategy was amazing well carried out. It was a central aspect of the campaign, particularly in light of the extreme amount of violence that was targeted at them.

    In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, he talks about the need for self-purification before marching and protesting. It required a complete willingness to be beat (and not strike bike) and to the arrested. One can imagine the horrors that must have awaited them once behind the walls of the county jail.

    That Brad and bbell can come together over this speaks to the power of the message and its impact.

  37. ….amazingly….

  38. Emily (28)

    What I mean by that is that we have abandoned any commitment to economic fairness in the United States. As the EJ Dionne column that I linked to mentions, with King died all the hopes of the 60’s, particularly those of the Great Society. The reasons for this are complicated (with Vietnam playing a huge role).

    Even in places like the countries Mike mentioned, the underclass is becoming even more poor and more politically ignored.

    I do not blame the Republicans for this, though Reagan represents the opposite view of mine. In fact, Bill Clinton’s greatest legislative successes (NAFTA and Welfare Reform) were the type of things that Reagan only dreamed of being able to pass. Clinton delivered.

    As we more economically polarized? Hard to tell, the New Deal and the Great Society had many successes. Yet, even the likes of Alan Greenspan worry about the extreme gap between the rich and the rest of us.

  39. by the way, one of the major reasons the lower and middle classes have not kept up with the Joneses is because of the exorbitant cost of health care in this country. If you want the middle and lower classes to keep up, health care costs must come down. This is another unsustainable aspect of American economics.

  40. The same can be said for housing costs.

  41. Chris,

    aside from house costs, apartment costs have kept with inflation, have they not? I’m guessing here and haven’t looked at any numbers.

  42. I am not down playing the healthcare issue, just pointing out the the lower and middle classes are getting squeezed in many ways.

  43. I haven’t read all of the comments above. I’m just replying to the article itself, briefly. If the author reread the Martin Luther King quote he posted at the bottom about the “thesis of Communism” vs the “antithesis of capitalism” comming to a “higher synthesis,” and if he had read more of Marx’s writings, he would recognize in this the Communist dialectical way of bringing about change towards a “synthesis.” Funny the author should pick a quote that sounds like it comes directly from a trained Communist.

  44. Bliss,

    I have read a ton of Marx and it does not strike me this way. In addition, I am pretty sure that communists do not have a special claim on thesis and antithesis, which as Kristine (#35) points out above is really more Hegel than Marx (though granted Marx is heavily influenced by Hegel).

    There is much good in Marx.

  45. In the 1960s, a black, American housewife, Mrs. Julia Clarice Brown, infiltrated the Communist Party, USA as a card-carrying member and as an undercover agent for The F.B.I. She wrote a book, “I TESTIFY- My Years as an F.B.I. Undercover Agent.” It was published in 1966 by Western Publishing, a publishing company owned by The John Birch Society. Later, Julia C. Brown spoke to audiences across America including in Ogden, Utah during a national speaking tour. I never attended one of these speeches as a youth as I was not aware of them, but have heard that she told people who did attend her speeches that Martin Luther King attended the some of same Communist training meetings she attended and she was under the impression that one had to be a Communist in order to attend the training meetings. Perhap’s Chris H.’s hero, Martin Luther King, had stronger ties to communism and Communists than he’s knows of, believes, or admits.

  46. BTW, since he is addressing Communism, it might make sense that he uses some comminist terms. Read the sentence, he is using the terms to point out that they are WRONG.

  47. ” It was published in 1966 by Western Publishing, a publishing company owned by The John Birch Society.”

    Really?

  48. As a libertarian trending neo-con who loves Martin Luther King’s work, I think you should be arguing about theocratic communitarianism.

  49. Bliss,

    Perhap’s Chris H.’s hero, Martin Luther King, had stronger ties to communism and Communists than he’s knows of, believes, or admits.

    And? Let me just make sure this is clear. Charging that MLK was a communist does not diminish what he accomplished. Charging MLK with being a communist was an attempt by those in the John Birch Society to stop the push for equal rights, to stop the push for desegregation. Those in the John Birch Society were perfectly fine with thinking blacks were an inferior race. That they ought to accept blacks as equal was an affront to their way of thinking. The only charge they had to make that might stick against someone like MLK was that he was some commie.

    Remember something of that period. Why would a large segment of the population even flirt with communist principles? Surely the folks of the John Birch Society were very welcoming, warm and friendly types. Yeah, how could anyone go elsewhere!

  50. I was questioning the John Birch Society reference because Birchers are nutters that I am talking about in that part of the post. I actually would not mind if he was a Marxist, he just wasn’t one. Steven, you are now annoying. Please, go away.

  51. Mark Brown says:

    Steven M.,

    I think you have made your point sufficiently now that you are no fan of MLK and in fact regard him as something of an evil or dangerous figure. As a person who is at least partially responsible for what happens on this blog, I am unwilling to tolerate your distractions any longer. You’ve done your drive-by, now please find another parade to rain on.

    Chris, I appreciate this tribute. Thank you.

  52. There is a measure of income equality. It’s called the Gini coefficient; 0 is absolute equality–everyone makes the same amount of money, 1 is absolute inequality–one person holds all the wealth.

    Here’s a sample of US scores over time:
    (taken from Wikipedia, which took them from the census bureau).
    1929: 45.0 (estimated)
    1947: 37.6 (estimated)
    1968: 38.6 (lowest index reported)
    2000: 46.2 [8]
    2006: 47.0 (highest index reported)
    2007: 46.3
    2008: 46.6

    By contrast, the EU has a Gini index of 31, and Mexico has a Gini index of 46.1.

  53. J.,

    I do not think social democratic thought and theocratic communitarianism are all that different. In many ways, theocratic communitarianism and liberal egalitarianism tend to fall under the larger umbrella of social democracy.

  54. How is egalitarianism in social and economic issues compatible with gospel principles of agency, stewardship, responsibility, accountability, the law of the harvest, etc? Or do you mean egalitarianism in the sense that everyone is equally free to his or her life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness? Or is this post simply politics over principle?

  55. To clarify, I never called the John Birch Society racist. I called them nutters. Nutters come in all colors and faiths.

  56. agnes,

    Wait, 0 is absolute equality and 1 is absolute inequality? Those numbers make no sense then. Where is 46.6 on a scale of 0 to 1?

  57. Oops, sorry about that, Didn’t see your note Mark. Thanks. I was needing back up.

  58. Agnes, thanks for that data.

  59. “How is egalitarianism in social and economic issues compatible with gospel principles of agency, stewardship, responsibility, accountability, the law of the harvest, etc?” If you take a look at the Gini Indices above, in post 59, you’ll see that there are structural inequalities in the system that favor the rich. That is, they keep getting richer, to the detriment of all of us. Those gospel principles are about fairness; the current system is manifestly unfair.

    BTW, Utah is the state with the lowest income inequality, at 41.

  60. Sorry I got my coefficients and indices mixed up. 0 is absolute equality and 100 is absolute inequality.

  61. agnes,

    If you take a look at the Gini Indices above, in post 59, you’ll see that there are structural inequalities in the system that favor the rich. That is, they keep getting richer, to the detriment of all of us. Those gospel principles are about fairness; the current system is manifestly unfair.

    Well said. It shouldn’t have to be clarified that capitalism is not a gospel principle.

  62. Agnes (66): If you take a look at the Gini Indices above, in post 59, you’ll see that there are structural inequalities in the system that favor the rich. That is, they keep getting richer, to the detriment of all of us. Those gospel principles are about fairness; the current system is manifestly unfair.

    I agree that there are structural inequalities built into the current system (I am not sure, however, how that can be derived by a look at the Gini indices) and that those are unfair–un-egalitarian imo–although I believe we hold different views as to how they are unfair and what should be done to resolve them.

    But how is, for example, the law of the harvest fair in the sense you and others seem to be referring to? You reap what you sow is not the same as you reap what others have sown, which is what I believe you are advocating. I am essentially asking just what you mean by “egalitarian.”

    Daniel (68): Well said. It shouldn’t have to be clarified that capitalism is not a gospel principle.

    I am not arguing that capitalism is a gospel principle. I am merely asking how egalitarianism is.

  63. Admin note: some of the comment references and discussion above won’t appear to make a lot of sense. This is because your usually faithful admin stepped away, and in his absence a raving John Bircher slithered in. Many of his racist and inflammatory comments have been removed, and so some of the responses to Steven Montgomery won’t seem right.

  64. The covenant on Human rights of the U.N. Charter states that rights derive from the human person,…. rights are provided by the states. This idea is called Statism or humanism. Martin Luther King was a Champion of Human rights. As he pushed the civil rights legislation it always ended in more “human rights” being given to the American people. In his letter to Coretta he states that he is a socialist. Mark E. Peterson states that there is only one replacement for the free enterprise capitalistic system and that is Socialism. Socialism leads to communism and communism is anti-Christ.
    I have read the works of Martin Luther King and find him to be very open about his human rights advocacy. Barrack Obama in his inaugural said that his election was the embodiment of Martin Luther Kings “I have a dream”.
    One of our “human rights” provided by the state as listed in the U.N. Charter to be provided by the state is “proper medical care.”
    Martin Luther King was instrumental in Federal aid to education. He said that the whites didn’t want federal aid to education for it would make the blacks equal with the whites and the whites didn’t want that. David O McKay said that “if this law passes “Federal aid to education” it would initiate the greatest propaganda campaign in the history of the world.” From reading this forum it has certainly been effective.
    Martin Luther King violated the constitution (amendment 1) when he assembled the people for unpeacefulness purposes.
    He advocated gun control “When will we get rid of ‘buy a gun at will and fire it on whim’?”
    The civil rights portion of the U.N. Covenant on Human Rights reads almost identical to the Constitutional bill of rights yet they support the Godless origin of our rights with results totally contrary to the endowment of Creator.
    List of Human rights provided by the States Party to the Covenant;
    the right to a free public education; Compulsory
    the right to adequate housing
    the right to full employment
    the right to a nutritional diet
    the right to proper medical care
    the right to maternity leave
    the right to paid vacations
    Where do the States Party to covenant get all these things to provide the people with them?
    Each state Party to the covenant will pay according to its ability and receive according to its need.
    Which Karl Marx said that?
    You can find this information in “The Basic Documents of the United Nations” By Louis b. Sohn
    Thank You, D.L. Hatton

  65. Where does the Bill of Rights mention God?

    As an advocate of human rights and a socialist, it is nice to meet you David.

  66. I think we should let #63 stand as evidence against itself but I am not interested in any back and forth over the details of its content.

  67. CB,

    Support for an egalitarian outlook can be found in Jacob 2 and Mosiah 4.

    I address this in many places. I would point you to this as a starter:

    http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2008/10/why-the-redistribution-of-wealth/

  68. CB said: “But how is, for example, the law of the harvest fair in the sense you and others seem to be referring to? You reap what you sow is not the same as you reap what others have sown, which is what I believe you are advocating.”

    One of my frustrations with having this discussion over and over again with conservatives is how simplistically ideas like this are applied. Let’s look at it another way. Worker productivity over the last thirty years soars, increasing the GDP dramatically: lots of sowing. But the workers see hardly any of that created wealth because it ends up in the hands of the wealthiest of the wealthy: no reaping.

    See how easy it is to wrest the scriptures however you want to?

  69. Chris, we’ll leave #63 up as an example of the type of comment that will land you in our mod queue faster than you can say “Right Hegelians disagreed with Marxists over dialectical idealism.”

    Note to Birchers and other trolls looking for places to spew your poison tonight: BCC is not the place for you. Kindly move along.

  70. #63……um ????

  71. I am not a member of the John Birch Society nor do I subscribe to its political views. But I have friends who do, and whom I admire and respect. The views apparently expressed by a John Birch member here regarding race related issues are not representative of the John Birch Society members or sympathizers whom I know. (That being said, I have not read and do not know the official position of the society on racial issues, but the particular John Birch Society members I know are not racists.)

  72. David H, I don’t think anyone actually accused them of being racist, though Steven did defend them against the strawman charge. Alas, Mormon Birch Society members have the history of our church’s shameful racist policies to contend with as well, and some Mormon John Birch spokespersons had views on MLK that were deeply tinged by racism. It’s a shameful part of our history, and it’s perhaps ok for us to be hypervigilant about even hints of excusing or extending those attitudes.

  73. Thanks for the article. He was a hero to me, and I would love to be as brave and kind as MLK!

  74. For FHE we are listening to MLK’s “I have a dream” speech as we do each year (started three years ago). Thanks for this.

  75. The rich are reaping what the rest of us have sown. The median income in 1999 was $44,922. Today, it has declined to $43,318. Worker productivity in the same time period has risen 20%. Where’s our money? Why don’t we have it? Us workers earned it.

    You can tell by looking at the Gini index; it’s all gone (and a bit extra) to the top 1% (roughly) of earners. How can anyone see this as fair or even sustainable?

  76. agnes,

    don’t forget that inflation has also risen since 1999, so $43,000 today is certainly far less than what $44,000 was in 1999.

  77. Agnes, I think you answered your own question. If worker productivity goes up then typically less skilled workers who were contributing to the product lost their jobs. Probably they were only able to get lower paying jobs, dropping the average. While it’s undeniable the rich got richer in the last 20 years it’s also the case that the middle class have hardly had their place stagnate. You might find this post (coincidentally by a liberal) interesting.

    The problem for unskilled workers (or with skills that are now done cheaper by machines) is that they are competing with a huge influx of immigrants, all of whom are willing to do the jobs for less. (Whether legally or illegally) Supply vs. Demand suggests that the wages will drop. Exactly how to deal with this rising permanent underclass isn’t exactly clear. Clearly education is a huge part – but precisely there many of these people are being failed by their government. We’re not providing the opportunities to help them out. That said, one must say that even with the opportunities there few are taking advantage of them – albeit for complex social reasons. (With free education why wouldn’t you try to become an engineer or the like? – yet few do preferring to fall into the roles of their peers)

    I also think that the figure you mention is somewhat deceiving because it neglects the reduced costs of goods. (Which the link above gets into). If I’m say an upper lower class worker, not quite in the middle class and my salary drops $2000 but the cost of the goods I buy drops $3000 has my situation improved or gotten worse?

    Don’t get me wrong – I think there are some real issues here. Particularly health care which I don’t think either party is really grappling well with. But it’s just not as simple as you suggest.

  78. BBell (15) This is in the end why I think he won. He shamed the South. Its hard for Christians to have their sins held up to the light and not make a change. Thats essentially what I think happened in the South. If there had been violence on the part of Kings people the strategy would not have worked.

    I’m anything but a historian of that era, but I really wonder whether this was true. Would King’s approach have worked were there not the alternative presenting itself via the various race riots of the era? I think part of what made things work was white America seeing two choices, one which demanded an ethical stance but which avoided the violence of the other. One of these alone would probably not have worked. It required both shame and fear.

  79. Jeremy (68): One of my frustrations with having this discussion over and over again with conservatives is how simplistically ideas like this are applied. Let’s look at it another way. Worker productivity over the last thirty years soars, increasing the GDP dramatically: lots of sowing. But the workers see hardly any of that created wealth because it ends up in the hands of the wealthiest of the wealthy: no reaping.

    GDP is a fluid measure and, imo, a harmful and dubious one. But it also takes into account government spending, which has obviously soared as well. In other words, it is not as simple as saying worker productivity has increased and that is why GDP has increased.

    Why don’t workers simply quit working for someone else and start their own business?

  80. Why don’t workers simply quit working for someone else and start their own business?

    You’ve solved it! Someone give that man a Nobel Prize in economics.

  81. CB,

    Why don’t workers simply quit working for someone else and start their own business?

    Because it’s not just that easy.

  82. Clark, I read the paper that you cited and the papers that it cited. They all said the same thing. There is a huuuuge gap between the median income and productivity. Just not as large as reported by the US census. But, the papers rely on there being smaller households, there aren’t–family size has increased from 3.14 to 3.59, roughly–and don’t mention that more women are in the workforce–47% of the total workforce in 2002 and 48% in 2008.

    Further, this argument is just silly. 6.5% of the population pull in 1/3 of all income. No one is disputing that. Male wages have remained totally flat for the last 10 years as admitted by the most optimistic sources. No one is disputing that. The income distribution in the US today looks disturbingly like that in 1928.

  83. Brad (80): You’ve solved it! Someone give that man a Nobel Prize in economics.

    It’s a legitimate question, despite your attempts to ridicule instead of answering the question.

    Daniel (81): Because it’s not just that easy.

    Sure it is. Why not?

  84. Barriers to entry, efficiencies of scale, amassing sufficient capital and resources, non-competitive markets, and that’s just off the top of my head…

  85. Because starting and running your own business takes a LOT of time, and it’s not always conducive when you’ve got a family and belong to a Church that takes up time. Not to mention requiring (for some businesses) startup capital.

    We’re not all Mark Cubans…

  86. Agnes, I think you missed the point. The point is that talking about absolute wages isn’t the best metric. Rather that considering money some absolute value you should look at what people do with it.

    Regarding the GDP comparison GDP has largely increased because the population has increased. The more telling figure is per capita GDP and there I think you’ll find it hasn’t been increasing much.

    Agnes, regarding the 40-50s you have to ask why wages were higher. It wasn’t because of the tax rates you mention (which at the time affected only a few – a few who knew enough loopholes to bypass most of the taxes). Rather a large factor was the control of immigration thereby driving up the wages of unskilled workers. Once again the combination of technology to increase worker productivity and large immigration drove down prices. To tie all problems to low taxes is as silly as those Republican who see every problem in terms of high taxes. The issues are quite complex.

    As for health care it once again isn’t a fair comparison since our health and health care is so much better now than in the 1940’s. A lot of health care was cheaper because little could be cured and so people died – which is cheap to the system. Now, beyond wages, compensation often includes health care thereby making the actual overall benefits to the middle class (and some poor) much higher. I think some quasi-uniersal health care would be more efficient. However I’d note that current plans primarily expand one of the worst programs (medicaid) and don’t resolve the primary problem: health care comes via work.

    Anyway if we want to deal with inequality we have to go at the source which is much more complex socially. We have to deal with immigration, technological progress, internationalization, education and much more. It’s simply not a simple thing. Likewise some changes (immigration and outsource) might improve things in the US but at the cost to the rest of the world (which has improved drastically the last 15 years even if US improvement is more modest). Is that fair. If we are talking about egalitarianism in a gospel context we simply CAN’T simply talk about the US. If we improve life in the US on the backs of the rest of the world then that is immoral. (IMO)

  87. Nate W. (84): Barriers to entry, efficiencies of scale, amassing sufficient capital and resources, non-competitive markets, and that’s just off the top of my head…

    queuno (85): Because starting and running your own business takes a LOT of time, and it’s not always conducive when you’ve got a family and belong to a Church that takes up time. Not to mention requiring (for some businesses) startup capital.

    Not to mention risk of loss and bankruptcy. There is no guarantee of profit and typically workers are paid before the profit or loss is even known, i.e., there is a time delay between production and consumption (if an exchange even occurs) and profit (or interest) is the reward for the risk and time of the entrepreneur. Should the return (i.e., profit) not then be higher to compensate for all of those difficulties for those who start a business?

  88. Clark (86): If we are talking about egalitarianism in a gospel context we simply CAN’T simply talk about the US. If we improve life in the US on the backs of the rest of the world then that is immoral. (IMO)

    Very good point, Clark. I think the implications of egalitarianism need to be fleshed out here. I believe they are contra gospel (and nature) and would ultimately have disastrous consequences.

  89. To add, if we are criticizing via tax the rich, one shouldn’t look at tax rates but rather the percent of taxes paid by the rich. As I’m sure you know, that rate has been increasing quite a bit the last 10 years.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t reform the tax system. I think we should. There are a lot of inefficient taxes. Some things are taxed too low and others too high. Neither party is apt to do much about it. Republicans never met a tax they didn’t want to cut – ignoring typically questions of efficiency or economic incentives. Democrats are more open to raising taxes but end up with legislation with big loopholes and breaks for funders of politicians such that the large and rich end up figuring ways around it while the smaller and less connected pay more. The opposite of the claimed egalitarianism.

    In any case it’s all very complex and reducing things to slogans like the tax rate on the rich is pretty misleading at best.

  90. The percent of taxes paid by the rich has gone up so dramatically because they have proportionally more money! That’s the point! And, Clark, why is our income inequality so totally out of line with the rest of the developed world?

  91. Chris H.,
    Great post; I hope that the experience hasn’t been soured too much by the nutters.
    I think that MLK Light version of Dr. King that we have been sold over the past few decades is one of the major crimes committed on the historical record of the past century.
    What are your thoughts about the way he is presented by liberals? In particular, Howard Zinn credits King for his stance on Vietnam, but paints him as moderation to Malcolm X’s radicalism and even to other speakers at the march on Washington. Does this contribute to his decaffeination?

  92. Ahh, you (Chris H.) beat me to it. I just recently wrote up my own post about MLK over at the USU SHAFT site (a secular student group at Utah State University). Funny how similar are posts were (though I didn’t read yours until just now). We both touched on Benson, for example, and also King’s more radical political views.

    Should anyone be interested, check it out. I’d appreciate your thoughts: http://usu-shaft.com/2010/in-commemoration-of-mlk-jr-day/

    Take care.

  93. *our posts, not “are posts.” Argh.

  94. Kristine (#69),
    Thanks for the help. My post likely provoked a certain crowd (I did take a shot at them in the OP). This is why I will likely never do a more serious treatment of ETB in a blog setting, though I hope to do so someday in print.

    DavidH (#71),
    I, too, have many friends who are members of the JBS. Well, at least I did before this post. However, most of them know my views.

    Clark and Agnes: Wow. I like what Agnes is getting at. I also am glad that there are conservatives like Clark around.

  95. CB,
    “I think the implications of egalitarianism need to be fleshed out here.”
    My life is committed to the philosophy and practice of egalitarianism. Did you check out the link I showed you earlier? Anyways, the point of the post was that MLK was a hard-core egalitarian and not to defend, here and now, the idea. We will likely have opportunity to do so elsewhere.
    “I believe they are contra gospel (and nature) and would ultimately have disastrous consequences.”
    The gospel and nature claims are silly. Unless we are talking about the gospel of CB. As for the disastrous consequences: When I see the people of Haiti, I often think to myself “They are actually quite lucky, they could be living in an egalitarian hell like Sweden or the Netherlands.”

  96. Love the post, sorry I missed the JB comments–those are good comedy.

    I am sad to read (way back at the top of the thread) of college-age students with a ho-hum picture of Dr. King. As blt in #91 alluded to, I suspect that the way in which we teach about Dr. King in public schools is somewhat to blame (that’s me, btw–I am a public school teacher). He is part of the hero worship approach to the Civil Rights/black people in history that we teach. From the information included, even in high school, there is little hint at controversy. I am gratified that students see segregation as a stupid idea and therefore the Civil Rights movement as inevitable and righting a terrible wrong (true), but I do wish we (fellow teachers) delved further into the meat of Kings’ rhetoric and passions–I wish that his focus on poverty eradication, for example, was also viewed as such a no-brainer necessity as integrated public transportation and education, for example.

    I like a quote from Hellen Keller; she devoted much of her time to poverty issues but was frustrated at the reception it got from the public:

    “So long as I confine my activities to social services
    and the blind the newspapers compliment me
    extravagantly, calling me an ‘arch – priest of the
    sightless’ and ‘wonder woman’. “But when I discuss
    poverty and the industrial system under which we live
    that is a different matter.”

    Martin Luther King, Jr. too, was a poverty activist
    but we have revised history to make his work strictly
    racial because we think we are over that.

  97. ESO,

    I’m a public school teacher, too. I guess that we’ve reached the first step–admitting we suck.

    blt

  98. Great post, Chris!

  99. Agnes, I think you are still missing my point.

    (1) the reasons for negative pressure on the power of the power are complex and include things like immigration and globalization. Assigning it all to taxes and health care is simply wrong.

    (2) measuring power purely in terms of dollars earned is simply a bad metric and misleading as a measure of egalitarianism.

    (3) saying taxes will resolve the problem is likewise highly problematic – especially merely a return to 1940’s taxation.

    (4) while I’ve not discussed it here yet, it appears likewise that the rise of the wealth of the rich is complex and tied to large salaries and bonuses for corporate leaders, the ability of those with power to increase that power, the gaming of the legislative system by those who can fund politicians, and structural inequities in the system.

    (5) we can’t simply look purely at the US without considering economic changes in the rest of the world. Likewise egalitarianism as a principle can’t merely apply to the US without considering the rest of the world.

    (6) if, as I suggest, the reasons for changes in egalitarianism are very complex (including poor education, cultural issues, and other cases of opportunity loss) then merely focusing on simple taxes is apt to simply avoid the problem rather than solve it.

    (7) as I thought I said very clearly I think our tax system is a mess. It’s just that I think those often crying for egalitarianism will make things worse, not better.

  100. To add, I think there are many real egalitarian problems in the US. However I think the focus should be on opportunity and not just dollars earned. As I’ve mentioned several times in this thread the #1 problem is education where the opportunities the children of the rich encounter and the children of the poor encounter is radically different.

  101. Clark, I wish there were more conservatives like you.

  102. Clark,

    (3) saying taxes will resolve the problem is likewise highly problematic – especially merely a return to 1940’s taxation.

    I wouldn’t recommend a return to 1940s taxation levels. I mean, that was a generation that felt responsible and wished to pay off its debts after all from wars they had to fight. This generation of Americans will never agree to something like that. I do, however, feel the ultra rich should have their tax levels returned to what they were in the 1980s, at about 50%. That ought to cover our expenses as a country fairly well. If they don’t like it, by all means, they are free to leave the country. But somehow, I don’t think they will. The lure of making money in America is too great. It’s one of the reasons why the ultra filthy rich still stay in New York City. Even with the high taxes (plus a fairly high city tax), the ultra rich stay here because here is where the money is made. Tax the rich at 50%, pay off our debts, stay within our budget. That is what is sustainable in the long run. If we come to a situation where our debts are no longer fantastically high, then we can lower those taxes again.

    (5) we can’t simply look purely at the US without considering economic changes in the rest of the world. Likewise egalitarianism as a principle can’t merely apply to the US without considering the rest of the world.

    Why would we have to? The developing parts of the world (China, India, Brazil, etc) have been doing remarkably well while we’re going downwards. Our decline doesn’t have anything to do with their rise. Our decline is a fault of policies we’ve put in place in this country that have enriched the wealthiest Americans while impoverishing the rest of the country. Take for example speculating on oil futures. That had a remarkable effect on creating a powerful bubble in the oil market that sucked the life out of the rest of America’s economy, particularly the housing market. The price of oil should never have gotten to $150 a barrel.

    (7) as I thought I said very clearly I think our tax system is a mess. It’s just that I think those often crying for egalitarianism will make things worse, not better.

    Why would it be worse? Can you give examples? Agnes provides evidence that egalitarian taxation policies provided more funds to a larger set of the American population. Furthermore, if we look at GDP growth per capita during that same period, the 1950s-1970s, we’ll find that we had a remarkable run of growth. Furthermore, we can see today over in Europe, where tax policies push for more egalitarianism, and they don’t seem to be in that deep of fiscal trouble.

  103. Clark,

    I think most egalitarians, at least those in philosophy and social science, look at a range of issues (including poor education, cultural issues, and other cases of opportunity loss). The global context of the issue has been front and center for the last couple decades as well.

    Taxes will play a role in funding things related to health and education, but it should not be viewed merely as a means of redistribution.

    “…I think the focus should be on opportunity and not just dollars earned.”

    Absolutely. However, opportunity is difficult to quantify, so when presenting data like Agnes has, income (or GDP) is often the variable used. This is one reason why this issue is a normative philosophical one and not just a numbers game.

  104. Steve, I read through everything to see what you said that could possibly have raised such a ruckus . . . what? Was it that MLK could be hearing the gospel right now in the spirit world from President Benson? Or, did I miss something else?

    You stood up for President Benson and implied that Martin Luther King might not have gone into the next life with the fulness of the gospel.

    Is that really why people are not happy with you?

  105. Steve Evans says:

    Allison, as I mentioned earlier, many earlier comments were deleted, and so the existing criticisms may not make sense. I recommend that people focus on the post itself instead.

  106. “Or, did I miss something else? ”

    Yes, you did. A number of the comments were deleted.

  107. Dang, Steve. You are quick.

  108. Dan, I think you missed the point I was making. Taxes were high in the 40’s and 50’s on the rich but they were able to escape paying them by gaming the system. It is this gaming of the system by the rich and powerful that liberals tend to overlook or outright ignore. Therefore taxes and regulations purported to fall primarily on the rich and powerful tend instead to be manipulated to simply make life more difficult for others. (Who aren’t able to game the system) This is not to say tax reform shouldn’t happen, but rather than talking about some ideal our discussion ought include the realities of the American legislative system. Utopian schemes are always fated to fail if they ignore the way the humans they are applied to actually function.

    In my view a lot of discussion of taxes is as naive as conservative libertarians who say the rich will simply voluntarily help the poor sufficiently independent of the government. Both tend to ignore human nature. That is why I think liberal tax policy will make things worse. It’ll simply let the rich and powerful get more rich and powerful.

    Now I’m actually in favor of revised taxes. I think we need to simplify them, raise the tax on individuals and significantly cut taxes on corporations – especially small business. It’s ridiculous that American corporate taxes (typically passed on in a hidden fashion to consumers) are so much higher than what is typical in Europe.

    Likewise saying our decline doesn’t have anything to do with the rise of other nations is inexplicable. You really think China would do as well if Americans weren’t buying Chinese goods? While one can likewise always deny the economic impact of immigration, it is naive to do so. (Note: I’m not opposed to immigration in the least – but let’s not ignore its role in changing the market for unskilled workers)

    Likewise oil speculation has been analyzed and from everything I’ve read by economists had a relatively minor role in the prices. Once consumption dropped, prices dropped. When the economy picks up oil will go up. Also much of the oil price is affected by the price of the US dollar. Even Krugman was skeptical of speculation and oil prices. That said the current fluctuations (which frankly are small compared to a few years ago) are thought to be more affected by speculation (as Krugman notes)

  109. Chris, I think many egalitarians look at a range of issues. However many vastly oversimplify things. The egalitarians I worry about don’t tend to be philosophers or even sociologists. Rather it is the political activists involve in actually enacting change. Somewhat akin to the difference between a theoretical discussion of changing our medical policies versus the mess the Congress appears likely to pass.

  110. To add, while opportunity is difficult to quantify there clearly are better and worse ways of attempting. Raw cash or GDP are, I think, clearly worse than other ways of drawing comparisons. As I said buying power against a set of goods is far superior as is GDP per capita. And neither of those are terribly difficult calculations. There’s a lot this doesn’t capture (such as a rich person buying a $50,000 TV versus a poor person buying a $500 one – is the rich person really better off egalitarian wise?) but it’s better than the way these discussions usually go.

    Likewise talk about taxes in theory rather than taxes in terms of what is actually collected is silly. Even if one thinks taxes collected misses part of the egalitarian mix (as Agnes suggested) all you have to do is look at taxes collected versus share of wealth. Once again it’s not a terribly complicated calculation.

  111. “However many vastly oversimplify things. ”

    I think that you and I agree that this is a major problem right now all across the political spectrum.

    BTW, I cannot speak for activists (I am looking at the Provo Temple right now from my Ivory tower) but the normative and empirical work of the economist Amaryta Sen is a good example of one who takes a multi-layered look at issues of well-being and equality.

  112. Yes Chris, I think we all agree. We’re going through an unfortunate populist period in American politics which wouldn’t be bad by itself except it’s combined with a polarized mess in congress and the problem of congressional funding. (Always a problem – but given the kinds of changes people want, perhaps more of a problem than it was)

    Getting back to MLK, I think we ought praise him for bringing up egalitarianism. But what counts are the actual implementations of solutions. Awareness raising is fine, but it only the first step and arguably not even the most important.

  113. “Getting back to MLK, I think we ought praise him for bringing up egalitarianism. But what counts are the actual implementations of solutions. Awareness raising is fine, but it only the first step and arguably not even the most important.”

    I think that is the sad part. He died at 38 and we were not able to see where he would have taken this argument. In many ways, his message needed his leadership.

    For me, I am bummed about the demise of the egalitarian voice, not because it would win out, but because those arguments that I view as starkly anti-egalitarian are very strong an unapologetic.

  114. I grew up in western Montana, not understanding the Civil Rights movement at all. After all, there really was no big movement occurring in states where there were no blacks.

    However, I spent 17 years living in Montgomery, and working with many in the inner city, as well as in Tuskegee. I learned a lot about MLK. I befriended one of his good friends, Johnnie Carr (3rd president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which MLK was the first president). She, and others, helped me see King in a way I had not seen before.

    I’ve stood in his little chapel. I’ve stood across the street at the state capitol, where a former governor had declared “segregation forever.” I’ve walked the Selma bridge, thinking about those who were beaten walking that same span. I’ve visited with the pastors at the Birmingham Baptist Church, where 3 little girls were slain in a bomb attack.

    I, too, love King and what he stood for. I’m sad that so many have twisted his dream, both on the right and the left. Hopefully, we can someday truly understand.

  115. Clark,

    Dan, I think you missed the point I was making. Taxes were high in the 40’s and 50’s on the rich but they were able to escape paying them by gaming the system.

    Well that’s the analysis of history we’re supposedly familiar with, but I’m curious to know exactly how much gaming of the system there was. Of the top 1% who were taxed at 90% in the 1950s, how many of them were able to game the system? 50%? 30%? 80%? 100%? Surely our government back then would not have tolerated 100% of the richest Americans not paying their taxes. I mean, I look back and see that right after WWII, our debt was tremendously high, due to the war, and within 30 years or so, we nearly paid off all that debt. I believe in 1980, our debt to GDP ratio was 37% or so, if I remember the numbers correctly. It seems that having high taxes on most classes in America did not affect economic growth, as GDP per capita during this same period showed remarkable growth. You generalize that the rich Americans of the 50s and 60s gamed the system, but I don’t think that is fair to them. Some of them may have gamed the system (as some today continue to game the system), but most did not. The country grew economically, and most everyone profited nicely.

    Utopian schemes are always fated to fail if they ignore the way the humans they are applied to actually function.

    Is asking for a 50% tax on the richest Americans an utopian scheme? It’s not revolutionary, Clark. It’s been done before. And it has even been tolerated before by Reagan economic guys (namely Reagan himself). I’m no utopian Clark. I believe in hard numbers. And facts being stubborn things, the evidence points to sustainable economic growth with high tax levels for the wealthiest citizens of a country.

    It’s ridiculous that American corporate taxes (typically passed on in a hidden fashion to consumers) are so much higher than what is typical in Europe.

    yet America’s economy still far surpasses that of Europe. Interesting, isn’t it? I see no problem with corporate taxes being what they are in America. Though, if you wish for us to more emulate Europe, I also do not have a problem with higher income tax levels coupled with government services you may find in places such as France.

    Likewise saying our decline doesn’t have anything to do with the rise of other nations is inexplicable. You really think China would do as well if Americans weren’t buying Chinese goods?

    The Chinese economy seems to be doing fine while we’re going down. Our decline means we don’t buy as much Chinese products, thus, if we go down, so does their economy. Yet the reverse is happening. The Chinese economy continues to climb.

    While one can likewise always deny the economic impact of immigration, it is naive to do so. (Note: I’m not opposed to immigration in the least – but let’s not ignore its role in changing the market for unskilled workers)

    But Clark, at what point has immigration not impacted our economy in our history? Are you telling me that during the 1950s-1970s, immigration levels were low, thus allowing for tremendous growth? America is a land of immigrants. They continue to come seeking that great economic opportunity. It has always been thus, and always thus will be. I don’t see immigration levels vastly increasing over the past thirty years as compared to the previous thirty years. Though I haven’t looked at the actual numbers, my guess is that there isn’t that great of a difference, certainly not great enough to impact economic growth.

  116. “I don’t see immigration levels vastly increasing over the past thirty years as compared to the previous thirty years. Though I haven’t looked at the actual numbers, my guess is that there isn’t that great of a difference, certainly not great enough to impact economic growth”

    You are kidding right? In the 1920’s a series of laws were passed that really slowed down immigration from the 1920’s to the 1960’s that ended with Ted Kennedys reform of immigration in 1965. Immigration levels are at extremely high levels by historical standards and have been so since the 1970’s.

    I see that you really have not looked at the numbers.

    Clark is right about the impact of immigration on economic stratification. The numbers from Agnes better fit when you take into consideration immigration. I think that’s the most likely culprit. Really high immigration levels in the 1920’s and really high immigration numbers since the 1970’s leads the numbers that Agnes posted about. In the 1930’s to 1970’s the immigrants assimilated and moved closer economically towards the norm.

  117. Great post Chris H. We have much more in common than we both originally thought. Although I have written a short series of posts called Notes on Socialism, I am in agreement with MLK and Chris H. that a “higher synthesis” is much-needed and necessary. A future series on my blog will explore the “antithesis” of socialism – i. e. capitalism – starting later this week.

    Concerning President Benson’s comments concerning the civil rights movement, see Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception. This was apparently a pamphlet published by the church in 1968.

    At some point, it would be helpful if someone wrote a post analyzing why he and others (for example, see Admiral Ben Moreell, as well as John C. Satterfield’s comments at note 23 in the chapter on Socialism – The Royal Road to Communism) made these types of statements.

  118. I am not sure whose comments are longer, Clark’s or Daniel’s, but I know Clark makes chocolate so he wins. Now both of you guys cut it out, you’re giving Raymond Takashi Swenson a run for his money.

  119. bbell,

    well I’m looking at the immigration statistics

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_immigration_statistics

    and honestly I cannot see any kind of correlation with economic growth, or lack thereof. The argument is, supposedly, that high immigration levels should correlate with troubled economic conditions. At least that is my understanding of Clark’s point. Total immigrants to the US in the 1920s was apx 13,000,000. For the population at the time, those are phenomenal numbers, particularly if you compare with the 1990s, when apx 19,000,000 immigrants came to the US. For some odd reason, this page does not include the 1930s or 40s, which is odd. In any case, the 1950s, which had phenomenal economic growth also had 14,000,000 immigrants. The 60s and 70s had significantly lower numbers, and the explanation might be that the 60s and 70s showed significant economic growth in the underdeveloped countries thanks to a long peace after WWII.

    So I really am curious where the argument comes from that immigration significantly impacts economic growth. I don’t see it from the numbers. Decades where the economy grew fairly robustly also showed high numbers of immigrants coming into our country.

  120. Sorry – the links in my comment above are not correct. Perhaps the mediator can fix them.

    Here is the proper link to the chapter on Socialism – The Royal Road to Communism.

  121. I make chocolate cake if that counts for anything. :)

  122. I am talking about economic stratification NOT Growth. My own view is that immigration long term helps with growth. I think it short term like a generation or 2 or so leads to economic stratification. AKA a smaller middle class as poor immigrants take a few decades to assimilate.

    We are talking about 2 different things.

  123. Dan, in the 1940’s and 50’s immigration was very low (largely artificially although Mexico was also in a different state than today). At that time we didn’t have the mechanization of the last 30 years. So low skilled workers trained for various labor were at a premium. So you could not even finish High School but get a high paying job on say an auto assembly. Then an influx of immigrants looking for jobs came into the market. They tend towards low skilled jobs for various reasons. That means suddenly there are more available workers to hire which puts a negative pressure of salaries. Then you have the rise of automation and other things increasing productivity per worker. So say an assembly that used to take 50 people suddenly takes 98. Those other workers are in the labor market putting a downward pressure on salaries. Then you have globalization such that many industries (such as say textiles) simply go overseas. That adds more unskilled workers into the pool putting still more negative pressure on salaries.

    This is a huge problem (I’d say America’s #1 economic problem) and merely pointing to taxes doesn’t do much for it at all.

    Regarding China, they have a huge domestic market which until recently wasn’t tapped much. Also they sell to more than just the US. Much of the world wasn’t hurt by the recession nearly like the US. (Look at Canada which is doing better than a few years ago) In any case China’s rate of growth has decreased during the recession leading some economists to worry that China may enter its own recession. (And there are various bubbles in China right now – with some pointing to a housing bubble although others suggest the population is such that it isn’t really a bubble) For most of the last decade or so growth in GDP in China was well above 8% and actually 13% in 2007. Predictions for this year are, I believe 5%. So it’s hard to say the recession didn’t hurt China.

    When you consider a lot of that growth is due to the modernization of its peasants it’s hard to see how this isn’t affecting the poor in China. And if China goes into its own recession…

    Also note that our recession has led to a decrease in purchases of luxury goods in preference to cheap goods. Yet those goods (the Walmart model) are precisely those made in China. So there are reasons China hasn’t had its economy crumple.

    The US economy is larger than Europe however the per capita GDP in the advanced part of the EU is much higher than here. The US is the 12th largest economy by that measure whereas many EU nations are higher. (Once again it depends upon the year you look at) Some suggest that you should break out states versus EU nations for a fairer comparison (so that Mississippi doesn’t drag us down). I’m not sure that’s entirely fair but here are those figures.

    Just by population alone Chine will eventually have a higher GDP than the US even if its per capita GDP is significantly lower.

    Note when talking about that 50% tax note that is the marginal rate and not their overall tax rate. Certainly it can be done and if you look at my earlier comments I actually advocate such a measure. Just don’t kid yourself it’ll do what you think it will. The rich can hide their money in various schemes fairly easily once it becomes economical to do so.

    I’m not saying the US is weak by any means. I think some keep trying to read into what I’ve said the unfortunate populism that pops up on say Fox News. My point it is complex – much more complex than some suggest.

    Regarding effective tax paid versus tax rates, I don’t have those figures handy prior to 1975. Here’s the graph though. As you can see the marginal tax rate and actual income to the government don’t correlate well at all.

    As for how much gaming went on in the 20’s, I had just read a paper on that but can’t for the life of me find it. However I think all people in finance would agree that there are tax loopholes and ways of hiding income. To analyze tax rates independent of that question is just naive.

  124. “assembly that used to take 50 people suddenly takes 98″

    That obviously should be 8 and not 98.

  125. Clark,

    So I don’t get too much on the dark side of Mr. Evans, I’m going to stop here. As always, it is a pleasure to debate with you, and I state with the others above, that I too wish more conservatives were like you.

  126. Steve, no more long comments – I promise. I’ll just say MLK’s vision can only be realized by everyone here buying lots of our chocolate. It’ll also help income inequality.

  127. Here is the proper link to Ezra Taft Benson’s pamphlet – Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception.

  128. Clark,

    Where are your chocolates sold? Any retailers in SoCal?

  129. I love the logic in some of these comments.

    “The UN says that people have human rights, which means that the state gives you rights, which means communism, which means the anti-Christ.”

    I want to know where I can get a bumper sticker that says “Jesus hates human rights!”

  130. Scott there are a few in SoCal but not as many as NoCal. You can also order them online. Email me your location and I can give you more exact contact info. Two of our bars are available at Starbucks as well.

  131. Kaimi,

    You can pick one up in any capitalist society for which there is demand for the “Jesus hates human rights!” bumper sticker. Otherwise, unless the State deems it necessary, there will be no “Jesus hates human rights!” bumper sticker.

  132. Clark, immigrants, at least since 1970 make more money than native-born, when you subtract out refugees. Second, about 1/3 of one percent of entire population are immigrants in any given year. So, why all the fuss? Immigration actually makes the opposite point.

    Third, could you please, if you comment again, stop referencing China? It’s a stone-cold Marxist command economy which allows tightly controlled areas of capitalism-lite to bloom, all the while ferociously protecting home-grown Chinese industries by, among other means, keeping the yuan artificially low against the US dollar. In short, they’re everything you disapprove of, as far as I can tell.

    You’re making my cognitive-dissonance meter smoke. I’m afraid it’s going to break, and those darn things are expensive to replace.

  133. Scott, please, avoid the very appearance of evil–do not step foot in Starbucks. Your impressionable non-member friends might see you!!

  134. I suggest all those people who dislike the state so much move to Haiti. No taxes! Also no military, no public education, almost no roads, certainly no urban planning of any kind; an anti-tax, anti-state control paradise.

  135. Clark, I really see you as the sort of decent conservative that I respect, and seems to have largely disappeared. Please don’t take my posts as anything but respectful discussion.

  136. Agnes, I’ve dropped out of the conversation, as Steve’s behest. I can but say you’re presenting a caricature of what people are saying. It’s unfortunate as I think understanding the actual positions of those you disagree with quite important. As for the immigration issue see this old post at DeLong’s. (Note: a liberal blog) With that I’ll be silent.

  137. Clark, thank you for the cite. I’m just going to address a single paragraph:
    Clark, I read that paper, and all I can say is that it’s deeply silly. The paper, while making broad historical claims, relies on a very narrow definition of what constitutes tax, doesn’t take into account tax saving available by encorporating or by a way to turn earnings into capital gains taxed at a much lower rate, uses an incredibly weak correlation to make their point and completely fails to look at historical data to confirm their weak weak thesis. Fail. Oh, and uses a very narrow range of dates–1984 to 1989 on one case.

    Plus, Krugman has no clue as how oil prices function–none, let alone how people manipulate the oil market.

    Referring to this:
    “The highly progressive tax structure of the early postwar decades further dampened competition. The top marginal income tax rate shot up from 25 percent to 63 percent under Herbert Hoover in 1932, climbed as high as 94 percent during World War II, and stayed at 91 percent during most of the 1950s and early ’60s. Research by the economists William Gentry of Williams College and Glenn Hubbard of Columbia University has found that such rates act as a “success tax,” discouraging employees from striking out as entrepreneurs.”

  138. Steve Evans says:

    Clark, please don’t take my chiding as much more than serious acclaim for your chocolate.

  139. agnes,

    Please tell us more about tax rates. It’s incredibly interesting stuff.

  140. I’m not sure what paper you are referring to. The one by Brink Lindsey quoted approvingly by economist Brad DeLong of Berkeley or the paper referred to in your quote by William Gentry of Williams College and Glenn Hubbard of Columbia University. I’m also not quite sure why the reference to oil since it was mentioned only briefly in the Lindsey paper. The primary reason for my citing it was the issue of immigration.

    But I don’t want to threadjack. So I’ll be quiet.

  141. uh, Steve B, guessing what you want here–marginal tax rates on the wealthy correlate (quite nicely) with much more income-equal societies. For examples, see pretty much all of Europe.

  142. Sorry, Clark, I was unclear. I was referring to the papter by Gentry and Hubbard. I just took a swipe at the oil cause I felt like it.

  143. Pretty sure Scott B was being sarcastic.

    The tax discussion is done. Please.

  144. Signing out.

  145. Steve Evans says:

    The problem is that you never know whether Scott is being sarcastic about stuff like that, because he is an economist and therefore a weirdo.

  146. Interesting post btw Clark.

  147. I wonder if Clark’s conservative friends know that he is frequenting Keynsian blogs. You secret is safe with us.

  148. As I said you have to read all the main perspectives so as to not cut off inquiry. I think a very unfortunate situation is liberals read liberals preaching to the choice, libertarians read libertarians preaching to the choir and conservatives read conservatives preaching to the choir. Not only does this lead to sloppy lazy thinking it means there’s no progress by people challenging your ideas.

    Also not all conservatives are anti-Keynes. Mankiw is a neo-Keynsian as I recall.

  149. Clark: I was playing with you.

  150. 19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.
    20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.
    –D&C 49:19-20

    Either Joseph Smith or our Lord has some serious Communist tendencies, right? We’ve been told how egalitarianism is anti-gospel. According to D&C it’s not.

  151. Or it’s just “law of consecration” tendencies which is distinctly different than communism. See the link to my post above.

  152. That’s not the law of consecration that the Lord is describing in section 49. It isn’t communism either. Nor is what Thomas Paine believed in. For example:

    It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, cultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with rest in the property of the soil, and in all its natural productions, vegetable and animal.

    and

    [C]reate a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property. And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.

    Simply tossing out the label “communism” just doesn’t cover it anymore, Greg. The world is far more complex than that. The Lord shows it in the verse Velska provides.

  153. Daniel – That’s an interesting point of view. Here are some links that suggest D&C 49:20 does in fact relate to the law of consecration:

    The Law of Consecration – Lesson 14: The Law of Consecration,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Class Member Study Guide, 9, which references D&C 49:20 in a scripture chain.

    Consecration – See Elder Maxwell’s quote referencing this scripture about consecration.

    Law of Consecration – In the Guide to the Scriptures, this verse is also used to support the law of consecration.

    According to the site Ohio History Central – “Shakers believed in communal ownership of property. The entire community held all property in common. They believed that men and women were equals.” (Shakers).

  154. Daniel – Here is a link to then-Elder Marion G. Romney’s April 1966 general conference talk which he was asked to give by the First Presidency on the subject Is Socialism the United Order?.

    In this talk he compared socialism to various attempts by the Church to implement the law of consecration through cooperatives called the United Orders of Zion and suggested that the Communist Manifesto was the “starting point” for modern socialism. Elder Romney also outlined the similarities – as well as many important differences – between these two systems; i.e. socialism and the United Order.

    This is why I suggested above – to paraphrase velska – that “Joseph Smith or our Lord has some serious [law of consecration] tendencies”.

    I hope this clarifies my comment above.

  155. Steve Evans says:

    Greg, please stop with the links already.

  156. Greg,

    the one verse from D&C 49 clearly would be used in support of the Law of Consecration, but that verse is neither the beginning nor the end of a discussion on the LoC, nor is that particular verse actually on the topic. The Lord is fairly clearly chiding the world for allowing one man to possess that which is above another, and that it is the Lord’s opinion that this is not good.

  157. I think the issue comes down to providing true opportunities for people. MLKjr (who somehow seems to have gotten lost in the economic discussion here) wanted people to be judged and helped by their character, not color of skin. I think some (not all) of our liberal policies have focused more on skin color than on giving opportunities based on character – and helping those of character with fewer opportunities.
    It wasn’t to be a handout, but a help up. MLKjr would have agreed with Frederick Douglass’ story of the boat in the Atlantic Ocean, where the people were without water. A passing ship saw them. The dying people begged for water. The passing ship called for them to dip their buckets in the ocean. Impossible! How would that help? What they did not understand was that they were in an area of the Atlantic where the water is fresh, because it comes from the Amazon. Such a massive river pushes fresh water out over 100 miles into the ocean. Such people could have been given a little water, but then thirsted again. Instead, being helped to help themselves, they could manage much better.

  158. Velska (151): 19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.
    20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.
    –D&C 49:19-20

    Either Joseph Smith or our Lord has some serious Communist tendencies, right? We’ve been told how egalitarianism is anti-gospel. According to D&C it’s not.
    ————–
    What you and others seem to be saying is that the end goal of every man having equal possessions is worth achieving despite the means to obtain it. You are advocating a particular social policy and doing it in the name of the law of consecration, the gospel, Joseph Smith, and the Lord to give it credibility.

    Yet what about all of the other features of the law of consecration? Doesn’t it matter that individuals must first come unto Christ, enter into a covenant where they will voluntarily consecrate all they have to Him, and that He will return it to them according to their circumstances, wants, and needs (D&C 51:3)?

    The law of consecration is much larger than simply “egalitarianism.” How do you fit in accountability, agency, responsibility, and stewardship, which are fundamental to the law of consecration with your social policy? Do they not matter? If not, why not?

  159. “What you and others seem to be saying is that the end goal of every man having equal possessions is worth achieving despite the means to obtain it.”

    Nobody has said that. I am not aware of any egalitarian who has. It is you who has claimed that egalitarian goals are inconsistent with the Gospel. These verses and the law of consecration do not show that my, or any other, view of political economy is correct. However, they do show that you are a fool.

    “The law of consecration is much larger than simply “egalitarianism.” How do you fit in accountability, agency, responsibility, and stewardship, which are fundamental to the law of consecration with your social policy? Do they not matter? If not, why not?”

    All of those things are also important to a democratic society. I am pretty sure that egalitarianism is a bit too complex idea for you right now. Sorry, I do not have time for a tutorial on thousands of years of intellectual thought. The failures of the American educational system and the lunacy of American political ideology will not be solved with one post.

  160. Chris Henrichsen,

    My understanding is that we are both truth-seeking members of the church engaging in a discussion on politics in light of the gospel. I am not sure why seemingly every time I make a comment you (or others) have responded with something akin to your “you are a fool” comment.

    As far as I know, I have not engaged anyone in ad hominem attacks or done anything inflammatory in my posts. Is this your typical response to genuine questions?

  161. Since I was 18 in 1968 when King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, my recollection is that the immediate cause of racial riots in several cities by blacks was the assassination of King. It prompted a blue ribbon commission being convened, which issued a fat report on black poverty as the cause of the rioting.

    I really doubt that the riots were a significant cause of action by government or business. The Civil Rights Act had already been passed in 1964, due to the 1963 March on Washington that King spoke to and then the assassination of John Kennedy, which put LB Johnson into power with a better understanding of how to get legislation out of Congress and the sympathy engendered by the assassination that unified Americans.

    The rioting in 1992 after the not guilty verdict in the first, state trial of the police who beat Rodney King was on a much more massive scale than the 1968 riots, but it did not lead to any major reforms other than another trial for the policemen. Frankly, regardless of their guilt (which was obvious), trying them in a city that had undergone riots over their prior acquittal was like holding a gun to the heads of the jury, and violates basic principles of due process of law and fundamental fairness. Rodney King was not Martin Luther King, either, though he had more sense than the rioters when he called on them to stop.

    The genius of Martin Luther King’s approach to achieving advancement for African-Americans (he would have said “negroes”) is that he appealed to a shared heritage of Christianity and called on Americans to live consistently with the teachings of Jesus and love their neighbors as themselves, on a basis of equality. He deserves to be memorialized for that.

    Unfortunately, after King’s death, and the riots that occurred, many political leaders in black America took a different course, in which blacks were treated as a political faction, just like union members, who would give their loyalty to a political party in return for special benefits. Thus was born the era of “Affirmative Action”, in which the effort was made to ameliorate the effect of five centuries of slavery and second class citizenship by applying specific favoritism.

    Unfortunately, unlike the equality that was the theme of the Civil Rights movement during King’s era of leadership, selective favoritism rejected equality in favor of a system of political payoffs in which the way a person got ahead was to rely on his race, regardless of the content of his character. That message may work with people who feel convicted by guilt over past treatment of African-Americans, but most Americans, especially outside the South, saw past treatment of blacks as an injustice, but not one that they were individually responsible for. While most American blue collar workers believe in the ideal that “all men are created equal”, they were not sold on the notion that they bear guilt for the actions of the ancestors of people in another state. Incessant, inescapable guilt may be part of the belief system of some people, but most Americans, especially those who don’t work sitting at a desk, are not attracted to that philosophy. The net result of affirmative action has been to emphasize racial differences, rather than eliminate them, as the ideal of equality was meant to do. Affirmative action reinforced racial separation and opposition, making employment and education a zero-sum game in which average white men were the designated losers.

    Despite the negative effects of affirmative action, America demonstrated that it is not a viscerally racist nation by electing as its president a man who was explicit about his black identity, and whose election would be understood as an opportunity to escape the myth of perpetual white guilt. They had taken to heart the message of Dr. King about judging a man by the content of his character and not his ancestry.

    Unfortunately, what they got as a result was a leader who believes he has a mission to establish his vision of social justice, meaning those who have worked and earned something–such as health benefits–are going to be punished for it, being taxed to pay for health benefits for people who are NOT poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, and may have simply chosen not to buy health insurance. Regardless of how we have studied and worked, we are all going to end up with the same thing economically, by government fiat. If you have spent 30 years working your way up through education and experience, passing from poverty to affluence in your 50s, as your prepare to retire and have no new income, well, damn you for being “rich.”

    The original post and many of the commenters have argued that Dr King’s vision of equality went beyond equal treatment under the law, and equal opportunity to make something of oneself without regard to race, and included a forced financial equality of this kind. If so, then Dr King died at a time that preserved the bulk of his legacy, and did not mire it in the swamp of socialism.

    We should not forget that in 1968, communism was still very much a going concern in the USSR and Eastern Europe. It suppressed the Prague Spring of an attempt to allow some freedoms to individuals in Czechoslovakia. Only a handful of visionaries (one was Hugh B. Brown in 1967) even voiced the possibility that the USSR might not last. Communism in Vietnam was still seeking to unify its dominion over that country, and was viciously killing men, women and children who did not support it. Communism in Cambodia was about to commit genocide. And communism in Cuba was making people hope they were in Miami instead, and willing to die to get there, just as it is still doing. If Dr King was straddling the fence between capitalism and communism in 1968, he was all too tolerant of a system that kept millions of Poles and Czechs and Germans in slavery.

    The essential problem with communism, and many of the forms of socialism that approach it, is the totalitarian impulse in people who believe they can make everyone materially happy–or undeserving of being unhappy–if they can simply control what everyone does and how much material wealth everyone owns. The level of economic control that guarantees equality requires suppression of freedom–of speech, of economic enterprise, of choice–that in turn destroys the engine of production and innovation. A system that is perfect cannot tolerate innovation and risk, of things being done without permission.

    While we are told by many that unrestrained personal greed causes wealth for some and poverty for many, it is also true that unrestrained government greed is often enlisted in the service of making fortunes for the favored. Large entrenched businesses love regulation by government because it makes it hard for new competitors to enter the market. Some of the biggest advocates of environmental regulations have been large established businesses that have the resources to cope with regulation, but know that smaller competitors lack the margin of profit to do so. The biggest advocates of the “cap and trade” legislation are companies like General electric that will make a fortune in selling government-subsidized windmills and other machines to people who are forced to buy their overpriced, high profit margin power sources, rather than rely on the low-profit margin systems of commodified, traditional energy plants. Capital that could be used to improve education and health care and housing will instead go for expensive energy. Some will be richer, while most will be poorer, i.e. more equal.

  162. You are advocating a particular social policy and doing it in the name of the law of consecration, the gospel, Joseph Smith, and the Lord to give it credibility.

    CB, Yeah, but this isn’t fundamentally different from you or I making libertarian-ish arguments in the context of agency, wars in heaven, etc…so chill out.

    All of those things are also important to a democratic society. I am pretty sure that egalitarianism is a bit too complex idea for you right now. Sorry, I do not have time for a tutorial on thousands of years of intellectual thought. The failures of the American educational system and the lunacy of American political ideology will not be solved with one post.

    Chris, don’t be rude or condescending. Come on.

  163. CB,

    I have responded to you numerous times and you appear to just be repeating the same questions over and over. I do not see any evidence of your questions being “genuine.”

  164. Scott,

    Was that a command or a request?

  165. I am surprised that it took 162 comments for affirmative action to come into the discussion.

  166. CB,

    Yet what about all of the other features of the law of consecration? Doesn’t it matter that individuals must first come unto Christ, enter into a covenant where they will voluntarily consecrate all they have to Him, and that He will return it to them according to their circumstances, wants, and needs (D&C 51:3)?

    You too are reading 49:20 as it being a part of the Law of Consecration, but it’s not. Nothing at all of the rest of Section 49 has anything to do with LoC. The gist, the message of 49:20 certainly lends support to LoC, but it is about something else entirely. Thus it is not tied to the other aspects of LoC, such as the requirement that followers of this principle must first come to Christ. The Lord is just simply saying that it is “not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” It sure seems clear to me that the Lord is criticizing the world for allowing one man to posses that which is above another, which is an inherent characteristic of capitalism.

  167. Raymond,

    Communism in Cambodia was about to commit genocide.

    Just one small quibble. Communists in Cambodia would not have been able to commit the genocide they did commit, if Nixon hadn’t illegally bombed Cambodia to hell. Just making sure that is clarified.

  168. Was that a command or a request?

    Take your pick.

  169. Just checking.

  170. CB,

    I apologize. I have never been known for playing well with others.

  171. Raymond’s comment was way longer than any of mine! (But didn’t have scintillating tax debate)

    On to the topic – I think if there is overt discrimination then the courts can and ought impose corrections (say hiring of Asians to make up for anti-Asian discrimination in hiring). However there ought be some duration for the action and I think it incorrect to apply it too broadly.

    By the way, am I think only guy who was more of a Malcom X kind of guy than a MLK guy? Is that like in music only being able to like either the Beatles or Elvis? Malcom X is the Elvis of civil rights.

  172. It’s okay, Chris. Just don’t run with scissors, and we’ll all be fine.

  173. “Malcom X is the Elvis of civil rights.”

    Are you saying that Malcolm X is overrated?

    Scott, food for thought. Thanks.

  174. Raymond’s comment was way longer than any of mine! (But didn’t have scintillating tax debate)

    Clark,
    The requirement for a comment to earn the wrath of an admin on the basis of length alone is as follows:

    No Wrath: len(Comment) = max[1/3 x len(SRTSC)] and

    Wrath: len(Comment) = [1/3 x len(SRTSC)] + 1,

    where SRTSC is a “Standard Raymond Takashi Swenson Comment” which has been defined over the history of the bloggernacle as:

    SRTSC = [len(Original Post) x 4]/NSRTSC, where NSRTSC refers to the number of SRTSC’s in the current thread.

  175. I heart Scott

  176. Raymond’s comment had 1260 words.

    Clark’s #123 had 720 words.

    my comment #115 had 609 words.

    I think we’re safe, Clark. :)

  177. I think he’s saying malcom X is still alive

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