10-08-10 - The Greatest Con

The Greatest Con is when the powers that be convince people that what they really want is the thing that's good for The Powers. The oppressed take up the cause of their oppressor and become the advocates of their own destruction.

I see shit like this on the web all the time :

"Class action = thousands of those damaged getting 5 bucks each + one law firm getting millions."

Well you've really bought the lie my friend, that lawyers are evil and using class actions as a tool to reform corporate behavior is pointless. Of course along with that was the lie that the punitive damages were excessive so now we have limits all over which make most settlements against corporations just slaps on the wrist.

But there are tons of these diseases. It's sickening when people are so convinced of some bullshit that they actively fight to screw themselves. They believe in something that keeps themselves down and penalizes themselves, and the powers just laugh and laugh.

Poor people convinced that high taxes on the rich are "unfair" or that estate taxes are "double taxation".

Soldiers convinced that risking their lives for some ill-conceived cowboy bullshit is "noble".

Consumers everywhere convinced that they have to buy the latest disposable bullshit to be "green" or "fashionable".

Middle class people believing they need to invest in risky stocks or leverage up to buy big houses. Of course all this does is give money to brokers.


jfb said...

Charles, however you may feel about it, estate taxes _are_ double taxation. Whether you feel that is okay or not is entirely separate. Don't end up a partisan hack in your old age ;) You're too smart for that..

cbloom said...

"estate taxes _are_ double taxation."

No they aren't. Money that flows through the system is taxed about 100 times. Sales taxes, corporate taxes, income taxes, etc. etc. The estate tax is the 101th tax, so to single it out as "unfair double taxation" is the partisan distortion and the lie that they have convinced you to spread.

There's absolutely no principle that money should only be taxed once.

cbloom said...

One of the funnier ones is that government scholarships or wellfare money has to be declared as income and taxed. So I work at my job, pay taxes, that goes into the general fund, I get some of it back in the form of grants or whatever, and pay taxes on that again.

cbloom said...

And can you explain to me who exactly is getting double taxed by the estate tax? It's not the person who made the money, cuz they're dead. The person receiving it is paying much less than the normal income rate, so we could say they are getting an unfair tax break. If you say the "money itself" is getting double taxed, that's absurd because money is taxed millions of times in the lifetime of its flow.

And piss off with your ignorant condescension BTW.

jfb said...

The phrase refers to being 'taxed again' -- if you had to make a separate word depending on something unknowable like 'how many times the government has taken a cut', it would be impossible to discuss the issue. This has to be completely obvious.

As to your second point, again, whether you feel that is okay or not is entirely separate.

jfb said...

As to what you call 'ignorant condescension', if you mean the partisan part, I've seen the 'why are people so stupid as to vote against their interests' line on the Internet a thousand times and was disappointed to think you could presently believe it. Your blog often has interesting posts as with cbloom.com.

In any case, regarding that comment, I often see it from Democrats upset that anyone could be poor and yet not vote for them. I'd call _that_ condescending, because really, both party lines come out of political necessity to get to the coveted 50%, not any ideological consistency. Nobody really likes the choices they get, but it's winner take all plurality, so that's what happens.

cbloom said...

"Don't end up a partisan hack in your old age ;) You're too smart for that.."

"was disappointed to think you could presently believe it."

This kind of childish non-topical name calling is why I never talk to anyone. If you're going to be a dick at least contribute something interesting. I may be wrong but at least I say something. Go away now.

Anyhoo, the point of the post is not about whether the estate tax should be higher or lower or whatever, it's that it's such an irrelevant issue to most people, and yet people got all crazy about it, which you have demonstrated admirably. So if this was an elaborate Andy Kaufmanesque meta performance to show what brainwashed stooges act like, then bravo.

jfb said...

First, the latter of those two is not off-topic. You can say "It's sickening", but you are presuming to know what others' interests are, that their immediate self-interest/money is the only basis for their vote...

As for the estate tax, I'm curious why you'd bring up an issue you feel is irrelevant, then.

Granted that its purpose (departing from 'tax is good' or 'tax is bad', which probably is overly simplistic) is to avoid generations of parasitic landowners, but...

Property valuations depending on nearby structures and what have you, a developer concretes in some land, valuation goes up, when folks at land+1 die they can no longer afford for anyone to keep it (being previously 'in the middle of nowhere', it may have been cheap before), repeat. Society doesn't value farmland or the existence of forests, and they get concreted in for McMansions, continually. That's the other side of the estate tax.

jfb said...

As for what you said about soldiers, I had a housemate a few summers back who'd been a Marine in Iraq early on. He came out believing they'd never have modern civilization of any kind over there. Maybe Iraq has gotten better since then? Noble fight for freedom etc. is the marketing, notice not everyone re-enlists..

brian said...

I think it's one of the better head-fakes of the rich & their advocates to con people into voting in the interests of the rich, and then to attack anyone who has the nerve to say "Those people are voting against their interest."

How dare you presume to know what's in the best interest of those other people, you arrogant bastard?!

The real world's not boolean; you can say "Most people opposing estate tax hikes are voting against their own interest" without saying explicitly what their interests are.

At this point I think The American Dream is one of the most essential elements of the Greatest Con. Hey, do the things that help me, Mr. Superrich, because, uh, you could be me too! All of you could! Why, with a little elbow grease...

old rants