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visagrunt
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09 Apr 2013, 11:47 am

Dox47 wrote:
I'd be a bit happier with use taxes, and even happier still if they were legally bound to specific causes rather than flung into a general fund. Gas taxes can only be used to pay for infrastructure and road maintenance, cigarette taxes can only be used to pay for direct costs incurred to the state through smoking, etc. That would eliminate a lot of the temptation to unfairly burden a politically unpopular group to prop up unsustainable government, as we've seen in my home state where they nickle and dime smokers and drinkers and even tried to go after soda pop to plug budget holes.

I also have a bunch of bad ideas that I occasionally contemplate when this subject comes up, mostly having to do with voter qualifications and not allowing people to vote when they have a personal conflict of interest, but I know that they're bad ideas, so they don't get very far.


I'm strongly opposed to restricted funds in government, for two reasons: First, they take away government's ability to approach public spending in a least cost fashion. By having a single, consolidated revenue fund, government can then allocate a source of funds for each of its spending priorities. When little pockets of money cannot be used except for a restricted set of purposes, it allows governments to "find uses" for that money, whilst doing nothing for funding general programs. The second reason I dislike restricted funds is that they invite abuse.

To my mind there should only be two classes of restricted funds in government: 1) pooled insurance, such as employment insurance premiums from which employment insurance benefits are paid, or medical insurance pools; and 2) trusts, such as pension funds. Both of these restricted funds should be inviolable, restricted from use for government operations.


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09 Apr 2013, 12:02 pm

ruveyn wrote:
Sweetleaf wrote:
visagrunt wrote:
Calling taxes theft is stupid. Claiming that taxes do no damage to the economy is equally stupid.


I think its more how the tax revenue is used/abused by the government and how they sometimes go about the taxation that damages the economy....


If ill advised taxation or "bad" taxation or unjust taxation is not "taxation in itself" then what pray tell, is it?

And why do taxes that start off reasonable, -always- become onerous or unbearable in the fullness of time?

ruveyn


Uhh, those would be issues with taxation....is corrupt government, government in itself or is corruption an issue within the government? An issue with something is typically not referred to as that thing so it would be stupid to call the issues with taxation, taxation.

I don't have an answer for the second part as that seems more in the realm of opinion.....if you feel you are taxed at an unbearable rate, I am not so sure that actually reflects unbearable taxation across the board it could be its just your opinion. I think taxes should always remain reasonable when they don't it is an issue.........but I don't think the solution is throw out taxation all together.



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09 Apr 2013, 12:44 pm

What if the taxation system results in people paying more than their fair share - for example, current tax bands where people earning above £50k a year have to pay 40% on the income above that limit, resulting in them paying more of their income than someone below that? Why should someone on £20k a year be able to get away with paying less than their fair share?

I have a moral objection to taxation, but especially taxation of 50% or above, since it presupposes that the government is somehow the senior partner in the business, and the actual wealth-creator is the junior partner.


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09 Apr 2013, 2:09 pm

Steinhauser wrote:
Gromit wrote:
Restricted immigration is a form of protectionism, a service provided to you by your government.

I never asked for this 'service.'

Restricting movement, trade, and association through violence is just as morally unjustifiable as extracting money from people through violence.

Then you are at least consistent. There seems to be a positive correlation between believing that tax is theft and opposing illegal immigration. The trust in the free market that usually is the basis for seeing tax as theft is inconsistent with the concept of illegal immigration. A free market must include free movement of labour. That means no restrictions on migration, the end of the nation state, and global redistribution of income. Material living standards in countries now above average would fall. If you were not willing to pay that price for liberty, opposing taxation in general would be rank hypocrisy.

I don't know whether free migration and the end of nation states would cause enough harm to justify restrictions on utilitarian grounds. If yes, utilitarian ethics would permit forcing a social contract onto people. If your ethics are not utilitarian, you will not accept that.

Steinhauser wrote:
Gromit wrote:
Do you benefit from the economic infrastructure provided by government? The transport and communication networks, the legal framework, the education system?

No more than I'd benefit from voluntary free market alternatives.

Profitability is only relevant to whether something is justified in utilitarian ethics, if profitability produces more benefit and less harm for more people.

Steinhauser wrote:
A contract can't exist unless it's voluntarily entered into. Otherwise, it's just an involuntary relationship imposed by force. This includes the "social contract."

You'll have to decide how utilitarian you want to be.

Steinhauser wrote:
I'm at a loss as to how externalities would be handled in a free market. I will have to do some digging and asking around.

That is my biggest problem with libertarianism and I never got a satisfactory answer when I asked about it. If you find an answer, please tell or provide a reference.

I think the widespread libertarian disbelief in many environmental problems, chief among them global warming, comes from an inability to solve the problems of externalities without the regulation that libertarians oppose. If I'm right, the disbelief is an implicit admission of the shortcomings of the free market.

Steinhauser wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria#Treatment

None of this persuades me that the profit motive is effective in developing and providing treatments for poor people.

Steinhauser wrote:
That's the problem with taxation in a nutshell. Those who believe private companies are more accountable than governments don't want taxation. Those who believe governments are more accountable than private companies want taxation. Only one side is willing to point guns at the other while claiming the moral authority to do so.

I disagree. As I remember Gore Vidal's account of the US-backed coup in Guatemala, the US acted as the reinforcement arm of United Fruit. A similar argument can be made for the overthrow of Mossadeq. Some oil companies have been accused of financing militias. I have heard second-hand reports that Monsanto goes on farmers' land without their permission, searches for its GM plants, and sues people if the stuff grows there without them having paid Monsanto. That even happens if that farmer doesn't want to GM plants there. If you see debt collection as ultimately backed up by guns, then (if you trust those reports) Monsanto points guns at people. And that is a debt determined unilaterally by Monsanto.

Steinhauser wrote:
Gromit wrote:
The profit motive encourages truthiness rather than truthfulness. My trust in the public having access to accurate information would be even lower than it is now, at least until I see an example of it working.

The companies providing the information would be in constant competition as well.

So were the big accounting firms that competed not for accuracy, but for creativity. Competition does not always work as we would like.



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10 Apr 2013, 10:36 am

You're the only interesting guy in this thread anymore.

Gromit wrote:
I don't know whether free migration and the end of nation states would cause enough harm to justify restrictions on utilitarian grounds. If yes, utilitarian ethics would permit forcing a social contract onto people. If your ethics are not utilitarian, you will not accept that.

The problem I have with utilitarian ethics is that the ends justify the means some of the time. In order for an ethical theory to be internally consistent, it must be able to predict exactly when and how force can justifiably be used, down to the smallest possible detail. How much suffering must be prevented to make violent means acceptable? What if only slightly less suffering than that was prevented, would that violence suddenly become immoral? And if it can't predict which actions would be moral when, to a significant degree of accuracy, how can you be sure of its ability to predict anything?

I agree that some (perhaps even most) libertarians still hold foully hypocritical views, and that usually stems from some attachment to utilitarianism.
Gromit wrote:
Steinhauser wrote:
No more than I'd benefit from voluntary free market alternatives.

Profitability is only relevant to whether something is justified in utilitarian ethics, if profitability produces more benefit and less harm for more people.

Maybe I misstated that. What I was getting at is, you can't use the government's services as justification for taxes, because without the government monopoly on those services, the free market could easily provide them.
Gromit wrote:
Steinhauser wrote:
A contract can't exist unless it's voluntarily entered into. Otherwise, it's just an involuntary relationship imposed by force. This includes the "social contract."

You'll have to decide how utilitarian you want to be.

For the non-utilitarian, morality is not a decision.
Gromit wrote:
Steinhauser wrote:
I'm at a loss as to how externalities would be handled in a free market. I will have to do some digging and asking around.

That is my biggest problem with libertarianism and I never got a satisfactory answer when I asked about it. If you find an answer, please tell or provide a reference.

I've asked around on another forum, and the answer ended up being quite simple - more clearly defined, and properly protected, property rights. Externalities imposed on a person are considered trespassing if they interfere with a person on his own property. In one poster's own words:
Quote:
One person's use of his property cannot legitimately infringe on anyone else's use of his property.

If you are polluting air or water, which have a tendency to drift around onto other people's property, then you are trespassing. Polluters trespass when they fail to contain their pollutants, and they end up in my lungs, for example.

Quote:
The law of nuisance can go a step further than requiring payment in restitution for trespassing. If a property owner's use his property repeatedly interfered with the property rights of others, then the offender could be shut down. It was an act of self defense -- force could be used if the interference could not be remedied by money damages and the polluter kept doing it.

That happened with some of the early industrial polluters, like coal burning factories or tanneries. They'd initially be located out of town, so as to avoid harming others, but the town would grow. The law of nuisance doesn't care who got there first. If you bought a house next door to a pre-existing tannery that stank so much it interfered with the homeowner's use of his property, then the tannery still had to either shut down or move.

It is very short-sighted to allow a tannery to keep polluting, even though it is economically important to a community, and had been there first. If it can't operate without harming property that it does not own, then it should not operate.

But eventually, the courts caved, and let them do it anyway. Anglo-American property law hasn't been the same since.

As long as pollution is understood to be an infringement on one's property rights (as it was in the 1800s), the polluting companies are liable for all private damages caused by their pollutants if not properly contained, whether they dumped those pollutants into a public zone (air, water) or not. Once that culpability is established, collecting restitution is trivial, through insurance and the company's own DROs.

If property rights are protected in this way, the free market can prevent pollution in a way that the government used to, but gave up trying to do as large companies bought into state power.

For sources/further reading, another user suggested this book:
Quote:
For more detail, Walter Block has a chapter on free market, property rights driven environmentalism in his book Building Blocks For Liberty, it's a good, rigorously thought out read (and it's free):

http://mises.org/document/5862/Building ... or-Liberty

Gromit wrote:
Steinhauser wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria#Treatment

None of this persuades me that the profit motive is effective in developing and providing treatments for poor people.

It doesn't have to, it merely has to prove malaria, like most poor-country-affecting diseases, has already been cured. The fact that those cures are not being distributed shows the current system does not work despite the use of force, so you can't use it as an example of a justifiable use of force.
Gromit wrote:
Steinhauser wrote:
That's the problem with taxation in a nutshell. Those who believe private companies are more accountable than governments don't want taxation. Those who believe governments are more accountable than private companies want taxation. Only one side is willing to point guns at the other while claiming the moral authority to do so.

I disagree. As I remember Gore Vidal's account of the US-backed coup in Guatemala, the US acted as the reinforcement arm of United Fruit. A similar argument can be made for the overthrow of Mossadeq. Some oil companies have been accused of financing militias. I have heard second-hand reports that Monsanto goes on farmers' land without their permission, searches for its GM plants, and sues people if the stuff grows there without them having paid Monsanto. That even happens if that farmer doesn't want to GM plants there. If you see debt collection as ultimately backed up by guns, then (if you trust those reports) Monsanto points guns at people. And that is a debt determined unilaterally by Monsanto.

Two points of contention:

1. See bolded above: The key difference is that governments claim legitimate use of violence. When businesses do it, it's out of the ordinary - notice you said "Some oil companies have been accused of financing militias." Why hasn't every government in the world been "accused" of the same? Because they claim to do it legitimately. They claim the moral right to do it. In your first and third examples, the only reason those companies were "allowed" to use violence is because they were endorsed by a state's violent monopoly. Essentially, they were playing with state power. Which brings me to my second point...

2. All corporations are artificial creations of the state, bloated to a size that would be untenable in a free market. Govt regulations and red tape are imposed on all businesses, but are far easier and less costly to comply with for corporations than for small start-ups. Corporate interests fund political candidates in exchange for favours, like passing these same regulations that unfairly benefit corporations. In a free market, the smaller, more agile companies would be able to compete with corporations, acting as a balancing factor to prevent overbloating, and no company could reach the disproportionately monolithic size of today's corporations.

Without the massive resources of a govt-bloated corporation, backed by an infinitely more massive taxpayer base, financing a private army is financially untenable. Even so, in a free society, those who attempted to do so would be ostracized from the business community (through the DRO system), and rightly so. Even if they pointed guns, they would not hold the moral authority to do so.
Gromit wrote:
Steinhauser wrote:
The companies providing the information would be in constant competition as well.

So were the big accounting firms that competed not for accuracy, but for creativity. Competition does not always work as we would like.

If fraud (say, misrepresentation of information) could be proven, the fraudulent company would be held liable by the DROs. More likey though, the DROs, who actually stand to lose money when the contracts they insure turn out fraudulent, would be the ones to pay for such information - not the public in general. And they would pay for accuracy, not creativity.

EDIT: Oh, I just found this out (from here). The three ratings agencies that misrepresented the bad bonds of the housing crisis were the only companies allowed to rate bonds, as enforced by the Securities & Exchange Commission. Competition was nonexistent. This is directly tied into what I said earlier - large corporations are artificial state entities, and enjoy special privileges as such.



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10 Apr 2013, 7:21 pm

Dox47 wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:
Who said I ever deified Obama? I just voted for him, and support many - but not all - of his policies. I've never seen him as a demigod as the right often sees the founders.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


You systemically turn a blind eye to the man's multitude of failings and perfidies, or try to blame them on the Republicans, while holding him up a shining example of principals he doesn't actually represent; isn't that the type of thing you're complaining about? You're no better than the person worshiping the founding fathers without acknowledging their flaws, and certainly in no position to judge such a person.


Obama is going to be remembered for a curse. Fortunately Jimmy Carter was out in one term. We have to live through two terms of Obama who has not run a successful administration. In the fullness of time, the historians will establish just has poor a president Barak Obama was. If we had two terms of Hillary we would be much better off.

ruveyn



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10 Apr 2013, 9:38 pm

ruveyn wrote:
Dox47 wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:
Who said I ever deified Obama? I just voted for him, and support many - but not all - of his policies. I've never seen him as a demigod as the right often sees the founders.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


You systemically turn a blind eye to the man's multitude of failings and perfidies, or try to blame them on the Republicans, while holding him up a shining example of principals he doesn't actually represent; isn't that the type of thing you're complaining about? You're no better than the person worshiping the founding fathers without acknowledging their flaws, and certainly in no position to judge such a person.


Obama is going to be remembered for a curse. Fortunately Jimmy Carter was out in one term. We have to live through two terms of Obama who has not run a successful administration. In the fullness of time, the historians will establish just has poor a president Barak Obama was. If we had two terms of Hillary we would be much better off.

ruveyn


Bush II will be remembered as the curse. Obama will be remembered as the guy left with the job cleaning up his predecessor's mess - and for killing Bin Laden.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



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10 Apr 2013, 9:42 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:

Bush II will be remembered as the curse. Obama will be remembered as the guy left with the job cleaning up his predecessor's mess - and for killing Bin Laden.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


Dubya was clearly not the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree. By himself Dubya was not a bad man, he was unfortunately not a wise man either. He was far too influenced by Cheney and Rumsfeld. If he had been brighter or at least a bit tougher minded, we might not have done so poorly as we have done under his two administrations. When Dubya was governor of Texas, the state did not do badly at all. Dubya was simply out of his depth as president.

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Last edited by ruveyn on 12 Apr 2013, 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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10 Apr 2013, 9:52 pm

ruveyn wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:

Bush II will be remembered as the curse. Obama will be remembered as the guy left with the job cleaning up his predecessor's mess - and for killing Bin Laden.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


Dubya was clearly not the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree. By himself Dubya was not a bad man, he was unfortunately not a wise man either. He was far too influenced by Cheney and Rumsfeld. If he had be brighter or at least a bit tougher minded, we might not have done so poorly as we have done under his two administrations. When Dubya was governor of Texas, the state did not do badly at all. Dubya was simply out of his depth as president.

ruveyn


On top of that, Bush was hardly the right wing homophobic fundie as governor of Texas that he had pretended to be as President.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



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10 Apr 2013, 11:54 pm

Steinhauser wrote:
I define theft as the seizure of another's property using force, coercion, or fraud.
Is this definition accurate? If not, why not?
I define taxation as the seizure of a person's property by a state or collective, under threat of force.
Is this definition accurate? If not, why not?
If both definitions are accurate, how is taxation not theft?


If you are a Christian then the answer is NO.

Jesus tells us “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Mark 12:17) Christians have always recognized that they must not only honestly “pay back” money in the form of taxes to the secular government but also fulfill their superior obligations they have toward God. Beyond the paying of taxes we are also told in God's word, "Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God." (Romans 13:1) The words "relative positions" is used to simply mean that God tolerates human governments because without them there would be chaos and anarchy. In order for Christians to fulfill their obligations to God ("God's things to God") in carrying out the commission to preach the good news about His kingdom worldwide society needs relative order. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19,20)



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11 Apr 2013, 12:43 am

Kraichgauer wrote:
I've defended Obama against Republican charges that everything he undertakes is somehow an attack on freedom, that he's foreign born, a socialist (which might not be a bad thing), even that he's the Antichrist. It will take the perspective of time for historians to have 20/20 hindsight of Obama's presidency.
-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


You sell yourself short Bill, you've also defended him from me, and my charges that he's broken campaign promises on drug policy, transparency, foreign policy, executive power, immigration reform, etc, all things he's done unilaterally, to say nothing of the doubling down on W policies, the truth about Obamacare, his war on whistleblowers, ad nauseum. You've even said that you view any attack on him as a Republican trick, as if you couldn't conceive of the man doing wrong, let alone the many great wrongs he's done. I said before that you turn a blind eye, but I think it may be closer to the truth to say you turn a blind mind; I'm really beginning to think you don't even know the man you revere so much at all.


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11 Apr 2013, 12:47 am

visagrunt wrote:
I'm strongly opposed to restricted funds in government, for two reasons: First, they take away government's ability to approach public spending in a least cost fashion. By having a single, consolidated revenue fund, government can then allocate a source of funds for each of its spending priorities. When little pockets of money cannot be used except for a restricted set of purposes, it allows governments to "find uses" for that money, whilst doing nothing for funding general programs.


Ok. Then how do you avoid the tyranny of the majority problem?

visagrunt wrote:
The second reason I dislike restricted funds is that they invite abuse.


How so?


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11 Apr 2013, 12:52 am

Dox47 wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:
I've defended Obama against Republican charges that everything he undertakes is somehow an attack on freedom, that he's foreign born, a socialist (which might not be a bad thing), even that he's the Antichrist. It will take the perspective of time for historians to have 20/20 hindsight of Obama's presidency.
-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


You sell yourself short Bill, you've also defended him from me, and my charges that he's broken campaign promises on drug policy, transparency, foreign policy, executive power, immigration reform, etc, all things he's done unilaterally, to say nothing of the doubling down on W policies, the truth about Obamacare, his war on whistleblowers, ad nauseum. You've even said that you view any attack on him as a Republican trick, as if you couldn't conceive of the man doing wrong, let alone the many great wrongs he's done. I said before that you turn a blind eye, but I think it may be closer to the truth to say you turn a blind mind; I'm really beginning to think you don't even know the man you revere so much at all.


(Sigh) Nobody's perfect. And while Obama is hardly perfect, he's still better than the right that constantly criticizes him.
And I'll even concede Obama's war on whistle blowers is clearly wrong, and is antithetical to the message he rode to the White House on. Happy?

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



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11 Apr 2013, 1:18 am

Kraichgauer wrote:
(Sigh) Nobody's perfect. And while Obama is hardly perfect, he's still better than the right that constantly criticizes him.
And I'll even concede Obama's war on whistle blowers is clearly wrong, and is antithetical to the message he rode to the White House on. Happy?

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


It's a start. The problem I think you're having is the blind squirrel / broken clock one; yes, the Republicans are awful, but that doesn't mean Obama isn't also awful, or that the Republicans are always wrong. You seem to be happy with the lesser evil, I'm not happy with evil period, and I'm not even convinced Obama is the lesser one. A Republican pursuing the policies Obama has would be hounded relentlessly by a hostile press and progressive activists, where as Obama has gotten a pass from both groups, and thus has gotten away with more than I believe his GOP equivalent would have. If the Left wants to claim the mantel of dovish protectors of civil rights, they need to call fouls on their own team as well as on the opposition; as it stands they're mostly just a bunch of opportunistic hypocrites. Glenn Greenwald is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to earn that "mostly", BTW.


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11 Apr 2013, 2:24 am

Dox47 wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:
(Sigh) Nobody's perfect. And while Obama is hardly perfect, he's still better than the right that constantly criticizes him.
And I'll even concede Obama's war on whistle blowers is clearly wrong, and is antithetical to the message he rode to the White House on. Happy?

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


It's a start. The problem I think you're having is the blind squirrel / broken clock one; yes, the Republicans are awful, but that doesn't mean Obama isn't also awful, or that the Republicans are always wrong. You seem to be happy with the lesser evil, I'm not happy with evil period, and I'm not even convinced Obama is the lesser one. A Republican pursuing the policies Obama has would be hounded relentlessly by a hostile press and progressive activists, where as Obama has gotten a pass from both groups, and thus has gotten away with more than I believe his GOP equivalent would have. If the Left wants to claim the mantel of dovish protectors of civil rights, they need to call fouls on their own team as well as on the opposition; as it stands they're mostly just a bunch of opportunistic hypocrites. Glenn Greenwald is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to earn that "mostly", BTW.


Lots of luck finding anything better than the lesser evil in this life.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



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11 Apr 2013, 4:18 am

Kraichgauer wrote:
Lots of luck finding anything better than the lesser evil in this life.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


Again, I'm not so sure we've got the lesser evil. Obama makes Nixon look like the very picture of transparency, W look soft on drugs and immigrants, Cheney look like a model of restraint when it comes to trampling civil liberties, and Clinton look like a font of truth. But he's telegenic, seems like a nice guy with a nice family, and he's got a D after his name, so the people who claim they abhor all these things keep their mouths shut or make excuses (ahem). What would a President Romney or a President McCain have done that's so much worse? Shredded due process? Furthered the executive power grab started under W? Involved us in more overseas conflicts that we didn't need to be in? Passed a giant corporate giveaway under the guise of "healthcare"? Handed sweetheart deal after sweetheart deal to their big business cronies? Oh, right, they might have said mean things about poor people, the bastards!

You do realize that Obama is a right wing president by virtually every metric, right? He may say things you want to hear, but when it comes to what he actually does...


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