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George Will's Deceptive "Axiom of Scarcity"

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Opinion writer George Will argues that Congress' 2.3 percent tax on gross revenue (included in the Obamacare legislation) is "taxing jobs out of existence." His argument is rubbish! It rests on a so-called "Axiom of Scarcity" that he renders thus: "A unit of something -- time, energy, money, -- spent on this cannot be spent on that. So the 2.3 percent tax, unless repealed will mean" fewer jobs." First, money is different from time and energy. It circulates and its distribution is important. Second, axioms are assumptions without proof. There are axiomatic systems that lack -- even deny -- specific axioms. Two non-Euclidean geometries deny Euclid's "self-evident" Parallels Postulate. Will doesn't give an argument for his "Axiom of Scarcity;" he just manifests negative attitude toward non-acceptance of it. Such non-acceptance, he says, is "warped by working for the federal government." Attitude isn't evidence. Insult isn't persuasive. Money and credit have been kept scarce from us "99 percenters" to get us to work. But in our economy, this practice has become dysfunctional.

Treating scarcity of money and credit as a brute, unassailable "axiom" is conservative pretense. Like debt, it's the distribution of money that counts. Every debt is also someone's asset! Much of our national debt is owed to ourselves. We pay it off to ourselves. Persistent unemployment and slow growth are due to relative impoverishment of 310 million 99 percenters. As long as wealth interests keep funding both parties in office, those funded will act to increase distribution to the wealthy. This puts 99 percenters in a squeeze. The Federal Reserve made $16.1 trillion in loans to the irresponsible, gambling banks (see GAO Report 11-696, 7/10, "Opportunities Exist" Table 8, pg. 131, "Total," available online.) This was at rates as low as 0.01 percent in December 2008 (Bloomberg Markets, "Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress"). We 99 percenters, while losing 8.5 million jobs, still had to pay interest at rates between 6 percent and 13 percent. We could have a democratized Federal Reserve whose directors represent consumer borrowers, unions, students, professionals, small businesses, retirees, etc. and allocate credit to them as well as private banks and investment vehicles. If that had been the case, there surely would have been a less lop-sided allocation of low interest loans, the $16.1 trillion only to the biggest banks and a couple manufacturers like GM and only the $787 billion Recovery Act, unemployment compensation extension and a few ineffective mortgage "help" programs.)

While jobs are being destroyed and wages lowered by free trade, Republicans and Democrats blame inadequate, inappropriate education. But federal and state governments have been disinvesting in education, paying for less of it! We also have a structurally outdated Constitutional system that allows a minority of Senators to block the popular will of voters in even a sweep election. Long continued, this would leave us a jobless mass of relatively poor, big-screen-TV watchers. The 1 percent can move away from "unpleasantness," living anywhere in the world. There are fascist authority-believers in every society. If there's resistance by some 99 percenters to impoverishment, the 1 percent will recruit the fascists and we could have a civil war that would make the first Civil War look like a tea party.

 

http://baloneyslicer.tripod.com/

The author, born 1940, is a white male American retired college professor of philosophy raised as a secular Jew by professional parents. He is a long-time minor activist in the civil rights, anti-war, profeminism movements and taught critical (more...)
 

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George Will and many other economists treat scarci... by Robert Cogan on Friday, May 18, 2012 at 12:39:03 PM