Sunday, March 05, 2006

Government blues

I not much of one to complain about the burdens of government regulation on small businesses. It ain't that bad, at least not for this one. But this bugged me:

On Friday I got a notice from the Montana Department of Revenue assessing The Outpost a "penalty/fee" of $60 on withholding taxes for the Dec. 31, 2004, filing period. Why? No idea. The department offers no explanation, and my own records show that the payment was made on time, and the government cashed the check.

So now I have to fill out a "Request for Informal Review" stating "factual reasoning for your dissatisfaction." But since I don't know why the fee has been assessed, factual reasoning will be a challenge. The good news is that if the department finds against me, which is likely, I can file an "APLS102F with the Office of Dispute Resolution."

Or I could just pay the $60, which is likely to be cheaper. Damn it.


Anonymous said...

I spent two days working in TurboTax 2005 Premium Edition last week. I had to do about eight federal schedules in addition to the Form 1040. When it came time to do my Montana taxes, I noticed that it seemed to be taking me longer than usual to work through the TurboTax program, so I pulled out the paper copy of the Montana tax forms to see what had changed. Talk about a disaster. The damn forms looked like they had doubled in size from last year.

Our tax system is an unmitigated failure. The poor and the rich don’t pay any taxes. The former don’t pay any taxes because they don’t make any money, and the latter don’t pay any taxes because the tax laws have ten million loopholes and “special programs.” Only the people who work for wages get hit, and that includes everybody from McDonalds to university presidents. They get hit right upfront, right off the top of their paychecks through “withholding.” Some “voluntary” income tax system, I'll say.

There’s no way the federal government can keep track of who earned what and who owes what. Forget about the State of Montana. The Dept. of Revenue is just running on a wing and a prayer. I doubt if 10% of their employees even understand their own tax forms and tax rules.

This is what you get with a stupid socialist idea like “progressive taxation.” It doesn’t work. Just the sucker wage earners get clipped.

As for the $60 the Dept. of Revenue says you own them, I would forget it. They’re clueless. You might actually cause yourself more problems by paying it!

Mark T said...

Well, there is something to what anonymous said. The state of Montana attempted to simplify their tax forms this year, and got off on a tangent. They decided that every aspect of the State tax code needed to be included on every return. So we've got five pages now, most of them blank, to hand in for each tax payer.

It'san oft-repeated myth that the poor don't pay taxes. They do. They pay the hidden tax, the payroll tax. It's an oft-repeated my that the rich don't pay taxes. they do - almost all of them. They've only managed to break down the progressive structure, so that that portion of the working poor who benefit from the earned income credit now have to be made up by soaking the middle. That is what our tax system does.

Anon - your comments about socialism aren't very well thought out. A hard look at our system yields one laden with subsidies and state planning. America only differs from Europe in that we call our brand of socialism the free market.

But most "capitalist" economies have adopted the tenets of socialism - huge subsidies to industry (here disguised) and state planning. That's the only way we survive.

dmerriman said...

It is a tenet of the legal system that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Go to any decent-sized public library - or anyplace with the U.S. Code in it - and have a look at how much makes up 26 USC xxx (the Tax Code). Show me the mere mortal that can know and understand it in its entirety, and I'll kiss his butt at high noon on the village square. If we *have* to have an income tax, how about something as complicated as "send us [some low number]% of your NET income."

Nah, wouldn't work. No room for Congresscritters to rake in bribes^H^H^H^H^H^H contributions from lobbyists, would put a lot of tax lawyers and accountants out of work (they'd have to get real jobs), and make the average citizen approximately happy.

Anonymous said...

To Mark T:

In my example I said the poor don’t make any money, so they don’t pay any taxes. Why would you dispute that? It’s simple and true. If you’re talking about the “working poor,” then yes, they might pay some income taxes. But in my example the poor are poor—they don’t work, and they don’t pay taxes.

As for the rich not paying any taxes, that depends on your definition of rich and the type of income you are talking about. If “rich” is $250,000 a year in income, and the type is ordinary income, then, yes, that rich man will pay a huge amount of taxes. But if you are T. Boone Pickens, and you donate $165 million to a college golf program, and the golf program administrator (within 30 minutes) places that money with your wholly owned investment company, you don’t pay any taxes! (Assume, for the sake of argument, that poor ol’ Boone only made $165 million last year.)

You’re only generally correct when you say the rich have “managed to break down the progressive [tax] structure.” Specifically, many of them have broken it down so far it doesn’t exist for them. Even the moderately wealthy, working without an army of accounts and tax lawyers, can “break down” a tax rate of 30% to 8%.

I dismiss all of your comments about socialism, as you have very obviously confused taxes, subsidies, and state planning and what roles, if any, they play in capitalist economies.

Dmerriman is right. Only a flat tax will work.

Mark T said...

There are some very wealthy people who manage to escape paying taxes, but that is the exception. In the case you mention with Mr. Pickens, he would be nailed by the alternative minimum tax, and pay a bunch. It should come as no surprise that the Republicans want to do away with AMT.

When you combine the effects of the payroll tax and income tax, we are very close to a flat tax system. We pay two income taxes - not one. A poor schmuck making $15,000 a year will pay 15% of his income in tax, though by conventional wisdom he pays none.

The tax code is complicated, as it must be. For every law there is a lawyer finding a way around that law. The code must anticipate this.

My comments regarding socialism in capitalist economies should not be so easily dismissed. One must see through the fog at the reality - in America, we pay huge subsidies to corporations, we call it defense spending. Without that subsidy, the economy sags. We need the stimulus - capitalism failed in the 1930's, and it is only massive subsidy since that time that has kept it afloat. I look at that subsidy and think socialism - give it another name fi you want, but the heaert and soul of our existence are subsidies and defictis. Without them, we sink like a stone.

Professor Picklewiggle said...

Mark T. -- Your claim that “capitalism failed in the 1930's” is quite ridiculous. You are merely repeating Marxist nonsense that was circulated at the time and shortly thereafter by apologists for FDR’s disastrous attempt at government intervention, otherwise known as the New Deal.

Every scholarly work since the publication of Milton Friedman’s 1965 “Monetary History of the United States” acknowledges government interference or ineptitude as the principle reason for the length and depth of the Great Depression. In an interview several years ago, F.A. Hayek--like Friedman, another Nobel Laureate in Economics—neatly summed up the situation prior to and during the Great Depression:

“I think it is certainly true that ending an inflation need not lead to that long-lasting period of unemployment like the 1930s, because then the monetary policy was not only wrong during the boom [of the 1920s] but equally wrong during the Depression. First, they [the government] prolonged the boom and caused a worse depression, and then they allowed a deflation to go on and prolonged the Depression.

“I believe that if it were not for government interference with the monetary system, we would have no industrial fluctuations and no periods of depression.”

Furthermore, your claim that defense spending keeps our economy afloat is also ridiculous. A few hundred billion in military outlays is not significant in a $12 trillion economy.

Socialism, in all its manifestations, is the problem, not the solution.

Mark T said...

Good post, interesting comments, whoever you are. I'd take issue with a few things, and maybe will this evening when I am free. So check back if you would please.

Mark T said...

Well, professor - one thing I've noticed about Marx: He was clueless about what better society we might have, and offered nothing of use. But he was pretty decent in his analysis of capitalism. But I'm not so sure that the underlying causes of the Great Depression necessarily spring from a Marxist analysis. My understanding, or the explanation that makes the most sense to me, is that the economy simply overproduced, and people went bankrupt sitting on inventories while people who produced the goods could not afford to buy them.

But you're right, I'm sure, that FDR didn't do anything to help us. Try as he did. WWII lifted us up, but after the war, we were sinking back in again, and then Korea came along, and it picked up both Japan and the US, and our state planners began to realize that war was the answer - permanent war would be a beautiful thing. In the early fifties, the Cold War began, and military spending took a front seat in DC, and has ever since. It's a beautiful solution to the Achilles Heel of capitalism - to take our surplus and waste it on military toys and deployments. Problem: They've got to keep spending more and more, and running deficits, and there is no free lunch, and the spiral must end somewhere.

What I have noticed is that deficits are no accident - they are policy, part of state planning. When we didn't run deficits, in the late 90's, things seemed OK, but soon followed a crash, and tehn came Bush II to the rescue, and more deficits to bail us out again, and now deficits as far as the eye can see.

Problem with socialism: Weakened backbone, as people learn to expect something for nothing. Problem with capitalism - it cannot sustain itself. Solution: A blending of the two. That is what we have.

Mark T said...

They've also got to keep finding wars - the "War on Terrorism" is beautiful. It replaces the War on Communism, it's permanent, and people in this country are really afraid, so our state planners pretty much have a free hand to do as they please - every objective, domestic and foreign, now is part of the War on Terror, no matter what they would have called in in 1955. Eternal war for eternal peace.

Steve T. said...

anonymous = Don Mellon. I saw that immediately. Don, you're actually worth reading when you're not pretending to be a professor or making up imaginary conversations. Stay on the meds.

Anyways, my minimal understanding of Economics says that every economy rises and falls, this is your basic boom and bust theory. The goal, then, is to make it smoother. Therefore, all you can do is make the booms and busts less severe.

This is why you see the Fed raising interest rates as our economy improves. If they were to leave them as ridiculously low as they were, they would be setting us up for a very quick rise and a very hard fall.

This is also the reason that tax cuts and deficit spending are good ways to get us out of a recession. It lessens the effect of the bust period. However, when the economy is on its feet again, taxes must be raised again and the deficit must be eliminated to make sure that the economy doesn't grow too fast and inflation can be minimized.

Bottom line here is that we are being set up for a very, very hard fall. And when the next recession hits, we won't have a federal surplus to bail us out, and God knows they won't be able to cut taxes any further than they already hvae.

Professor Picklewiggle said...

To Steve T.:

All your comments are correct, except those in the first and last paragraphs.

To Mark T.:

About two-thirds of our economy is dedicated to producing consumer goods and services. (I know that is a hackneyed statistic, but it is generally correct.) The rest of our economy churns out capital goods, those items needed by business and industry to produce other goods. And yes, some of those capital goods are military goods, either durable or non-durable goods, depending on their usable lifetimes.

It is quite a stretch, however, to declare that military spending is critical to the proper functioning of our economy; that “permanent war would be a beautiful thing” for the perpetuation of capitalist profits. That is a variation on one of Orwell’s themes in “1984”: Produce a million pairs of boots for the soldiers at the “front” to simulate the economy and keep the workers busy. Whether the boots actually reach the front or are dumped in the ocean is not important. Indeed, whether there really is a war going on makes no difference, either.

All I can say to that is: 1. The Soviet Union tried a similar economic experiment and collapsed because of it. 2. Microsoft Windows is a beautiful thing because it somehow made a fortune for the capitalists without firing a shot. For example, the total market capitalization of the top five aerospace-defense companies in America is $157 billion. That figure is dwarfed by Microsoft’s $282 billion capitalization. Even Wal-Mart, which essentially makes nothing, beats the top five aerospace-defense companies with a capitalization of $188 billion. Such is common in our economy, because our economy does not run on war production.

As for Marx, you must remember that he was writing in the mid-1800s but looking back at the early 1800s, i.e., looking back at the first results of the Industrial Revolution in England, which had gotten underway about 1750. No sooner had “Das Kapital” been published, than its social and economic observations were rendered antiquated by the rapid evolution of industrial capitalism.

If Marx actually predicted a “crisis in capitalism,” which many have claimed, and that the Great Depression was in fact the crisis he predicted, I must have missed that part. In any event, the capitalists figured out a way to sate the proletariat, and the great metamorphoses from a society of wage slaves into a workers’ paradise never happened, unless you consider two cars and a TV set in every room a workers’ paradise. The workers of the world did not unite; the middle class was not swept away; and state did not wither and die. All of that never happened because socialism was never a viable economic system.

[But note: There is still much to be said for Marx’s work. He was the first writer to undertake an in-depth analysis of the relationship between men and machines, or the means of production, as he put it. His insights into how technology evolves and how human beings—both workers and capitalists—interact with technology are still relevant today and are the starting point for any serious discussion of the topic.]

So-called mixed capitalism may be the norm in Western economies these days, but it is the relative proportions of capitalism to socialism that distinguish the successful economies from the not so successful. The greater the proportion of capitalism, the more successful the economy, of course. Which is only to say that the socialist elements in an economy represent a drag on that economy. Socialism, in a way, is merely overhead.

I see no correlation between deficit spending and economic systems. Just off hand, I would say that capitalist, socialist, and mixed systems can have governments that are equally inclined to run themselves into debt for political reasons. But deficit spending as a fiscal tool is another subject, which should be left for another occasion.

Mark T said...

Steve T - I suspected as much, but you've got it right - he's doing a good job.

Professor whatever, War Resisters League does some interesting analysis of the Dept of Defense budget, coming up with annual outlays of over $1 trillion. They include "current military” which is Dept. of Defense ($449 billion), the military portion from other departments ($114 billion), and an unbudgeted estimate of supplemental appropriations ($100 billion) for Iraq and Afghanistan. They also include “past military,” which represent veterans’ benefits plus 80% of the interest on the debt, since most of our deficits have been run up on defense spending.

Every time I use the word "defense", by the way, I choke. It's an Orwellism. But the point is that our military spending dwarfs everything - Microsoft, Wal-Mart, the works.

Why military spending as a pump primer? Why not roads, national transportation system, national health care - wouldn't result be the same? I assume so, but state planners insist that we blow our booty on weaponry and war. I think they fear a state in which booty benefits everyone - military spending is essentially spending on high-technology - it is R&D - it gave us jet aircraft and computers and the Internet and GPS - it's our form of state planning. It's socialism, and it seems to work.

Steve - your model assumes that a balanced budget is an objective - if it were, we could have achieved it many times in the past. I take our failure to achieve it as a sign that deficits, rather than being an unpleasant political side effect, are in fact a state planning tool. It is as if, when Bush took office in 2001, that his first objective was to crush the surplus. He did so with greaet haste - he was almost maniacal in coming up with ways to spend.

Anyways, Marx is interesting, had a good take on capitalism, was wrong about many things, gave energy to the dark forces that eventually ruled Russia and China, but still had a pretty good grip on things. I say we're on war footing, have been since 1950, and will stay that was as a way of staying prosperous.

Professor Picklewiggle said...

To Mark T.:

If I were you, I would be a little skeptical of military spending estimates published by an outfit calling itself “War Resisters League.” Based on what you’ve said, they are probably including in their estimate of “military spending” the cost of polishing the monuments at national battlefields, long distance telephone calls to servicemen overseas, and American flag purchases by public schools, libraries, court houses, police stations, and town halls. Whatever. Their absurdly exaggerated figure is still only one-twelfth of the gross domestic product.

Forbes Magazine has just published its list of billionaires in America, which I have been studying this afternoon. At first glance, I didn’t see any billionaires listed as having made their fortunes in the defense industries. (George Lucas, at $3.5 billion, is listed as having made a “killing” on “Star Wars,” but I hope you will not count that as money spent on the military.) How do you explain for that? Surely, with your hypothetical $1 trillion in annual military spending floating around the economy some fat cat capitalists would have a billion or two by now.

I think you have a very skewed perspective on our economy and how it operates. One obvious problem you have created for yourself is how to explain why our economy doesn’t collapse in times of peace.

Mark T said...

We don't collapse in times of peace because we don't have times of peace - that is the point. Even when we are at peace, we are still at war. That was the Cold War and the War on Terrorism - never ending conflicts. Endless wars ... if this were 1955, we'd be chasing communists instead of terrorists, but the principle would be the same - we must always be at war with some one or some thing. The point is that we devote 3-4% of our GDP to military spending, officially. More according to War Resisters League - go to their web site and read their literature before you condemn them too harshly. Just their one minor point - $114 billion in spending at other agencies being disguised military spending - reminds me of a point Carl Sagan once made, that NASA spent billioins of dollars perfecting the rockets we now use to deliver intercontinental ballistic missiles ... they stopped going to the moon once the rocketry was perfected.

There are quite a few industries that exist because of defense contracts - where would Boeing, GE, Westinghouse, Raytheon, Halliburton, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed Martin, General Gynamics, Northrop Grumman, United Technologies, Textron, the Carlyle Group be without government?

Professor Picklewiggle said...

Mark T.:

You seem to have an amazing ability to expand your inventory of misconceptions at will. At first, I thought I was dealing with only a few common economic misconceptions that, once rectified, would simply go away. But now it looks like you have a bulging warehouse of general misconceptions that have been waiting for an opportunity to come pouring out. Either that, or you are creating these crazy ideas on the fly just to keep this conversation going.

[Here, I cook a single-serving pizza in my GE microwave oven. As I eat, I begin to wonder what portion of GE’s revenues are derived from building wicked jet fighter engines and death-dealing nuclear submarines, as compared to, say, its revenues from building electrical generation and transmission facilities, entertainment and finance operations, blow dryers, toasters, dishwashers, refrigerators, and, and—microwave ovens! I wonder if all those 300,000-plus GE employees are actually working in a war industry and don’t know it. I set aside my little pizza and decide to plunge ahead without looking up GE’s annual report.]

So. We “don’t have times of peace,” you say. And “when we are at peace, we are still at war.” I am not sure if that means you have never read any history, or if you are trying to drag me into an Orwellian Doublespeak Contest. No matter. I won’t go there—neither place, that is.

[I take another bite of pizza. Hmm. Maybe he’s counting the War on Poverty, the War on Crime, the War on Drugs, the War on Illiteracy, and so forth? Nah. That would be crazy. I lay aside my pizza and plunge ahead, again.]

So. Now we have exhumed Carl Sagan, the pop scientist who made his living doing TV shows. He said NASA stopped going to the moon once it had developed the rocket technology for inter-continental ballistic missiles. Really? Well, that sort of sounds like something the effete old pacifist would have said. But I wonder how he would explain all the Shuttle missions since his demise, all the contraptions crawling around on Mars or orbiting high above (a new satellite only yesterday!), and NASA’s announcement just this morning that it has discovered a huge water jet on one of Saturn’s moons. I know. I know. There’s no telling what secret military work NASA is doing!

A question for you: Should I finish this cold pizza, or throw it to the dogs?

Mark T said...

Yes, GE produces microwaves. That's not a large point. My question is would GE be the behemoth it is without government subsidized contracts? No.

You write well and make your points well, but your response to my larger point about DOD using NASA to mask some of its expenditures was greeted by an ad hominem. Do better, as you are certainly capable.

Just as GE makes microwave ovens, so too does NASA do pure science, but you avoid the issue. Would there ahve been a Space Shuttle had there not been a military objective underneath? Bush has seet forward military control of space as an important objective. The Shuttle has done much classifed work in space.

Professor Picklewiggle said...

Mark T.:

You toss around one gross generality after another, and you expect me to do the research to rebut them? I don’t think so.

1. “My question is would GE be the behemoth it is without government subsidized contracts? No.” How do you know that? Do the research and give facts to support your assertion.

2. The DOD is “using NASA to mask some of its expenditures.” How do you know that? Do the research and give facts to support your assertion.

3. “Would there ahve [sic] been a Space Shuttle had there not been a military objective underneath?” Answer your own question by doing the research. State the facts rather than pose a rhetorical question.

4. “Bush has seet [sic] forward military control of space as an important objective.” How do you know that? Do the research and give facts to support your assertion.

5. “The Shuttle has done much classifed [sic] work in space.” How do you know that? Do the research and give facts to support your assertion.

All you have done in your reply is list a series of unsupported claims in the hope that, when taken together, they will somehow raise the inference that military spending is supporting nearly every large-scale industrial or scientific enterprise in America. That doesn’t work where I come from. Over here, we run on logical conclusions derived from proven facts.

Mark T said...

I get the weird feeling I know you. I'll grant you this, whoever you are, you are fun.

Let’s take a quick stroll through the Professor’s ramblings:

"But if you are T. Boone Pickens, and you donate $165 million to a college golf program, and the golf program administrator (within 30 minutes) places that money with your wholly owned investment company, you don’t pay any taxes! (Assume, for the sake of argument, that poor ol’ Boone only made $165 million last year.)"

Give me Mr. Pickens bottom line, especially knowing that contribution deductions are limited to 50% of adjusted gross income, and that contributions are eliminated in calculating the alternative minimum tax. How much tax did he pay? You'd better bring some proof to the table , and not rumor.

"Even the moderately wealthy, working without an army of accounts and tax lawyers, can “break down” a tax rate of 30% to 8%."

8% of what? Are you considering that we have a dual tax system, and that most people pay more payroll tax than income tax, and that the two taxes taken together add up to considerably more than 8%? Or, are you doing as so many do, forgetting that we pay two taxes? Anyway, Better back that one up.

"Every scholarly work since the publication of Milton Friedman’s 1965 “Monetary History of the United States” acknowledges government interference or ineptitude as the principle reason for the length and depth of the Great Depression."

That sounds like a huge generalization and an appeal to authority to boot. You're citing "every scholarly work" and saying there is no disagreement? Better back that one up.

You cited Hayek in making the rather outlandish claim that without government interference in monetary policy, there would be no business cycle of boom and bust. How do you explain the boom and bust cycles of the nineteenth century? Further, Hyak makes a statement that cannot be tested, and is therefore worthless.

You said "Socialism, in all its manifestations, is the problem, not the solution." That's a pretty glaring generalization. I've pointed out some socialist aspects of our economy - state planning, military spending as a pump primer and stimulus, and listed for you behemoth corporations that dabble in defense contracts. My point is that our economy is a hybrid. You dismiss socialism and all its manifestations as "the problem" - therefore, you must believe that capitalism can stand on its own. If so, why even bother to subsidize anyone?

My favorite: "Only a flat tax will work." Gross oversimplification - the government is taxing 21% of our income. If you were a poor schmuck working two minimum wages jobs to make ends meet, how would any social policy be advanced by taking 21% of your income? Saner heads have prevailed, and apportioned the tax burden out and weighted it a little heavier on the wealthier end. It seems to work - your statement that only a flat tax will work is general, not well thought out, and false.

So much for your well-researched verbiage.

Now, I’m not about to spend my evening scrounging through GE financials … they are a large defense contractor. They don’t say how much of their revenue comes from the government. I’ll settle for “alot.” Same goes with the other nine or ten corporations I mentioned. I think it goes without saying that the Shuttle program has had many military applications, flown many secret missions – that is, we knew they took off, but we were never told what they did – and that those expenditures are accounted for as NASA, and not DOD. Atlantis made her first flight in October 1985, conducting classified military activities ... the question about the Space Shuttle existing as a stealth military program was rhetorical. I do not believe it would have been built were it not for military uses, but that matter is beyond proof – a rhetorical device, a suspicion I hold dear to my heart. Bush withdrew from the 1972 anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. That was the governing instrument concerning military use of outer space. In the Air Force Space Command's Strategic Master Plan, FY06 and Beyond, the military said, "Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets. International treaties and laws do not prohibit the use or presence of conventional weapons in space." That’s with only a little research. There’s been a good deal written on space as the final military frontier – read some of it. And finally, Google “classified military work space shuttle” to get just a glimpse at the amount of work NASA has done for DOD, classified.

SO much for your questions. You left a string of generalizations in your wake ... you’re missing a lot, you know, by not following the debate on outer space, the uses of the Shuttle program, the use of deficits to stimulate the economy, and defense spending as a pump primer. There’s a whole ‘nother world out there just beyond the reach of your imagination.

Now this is more writing than I’ve done in quite some time, and probably more than a blog merits under any circumstances. I’m outta here. Have a nice weekend.

Professor Picklewiggle said...

Mark T.:

“I'll grant you this, whoever you are, you are fun.”

Hah. You’re twitching like a little snake caught in an raptor’s talons. Whom do you think you are fooling? As a matter of fact, you’re so stunned you don’t even know what hit you.

1. About T. Boone Pickens: I never said anything about him. That was another poster. Nevertheless, you are wrong saying “contribution deductions are limited to 50% of adjusted gross income.” The law was changed because of the hurricanes that struck the Gulf Region. T. Boone Pickens got 100%. See IRS Pub. 4492, p.4.

2. About paying only 8% tax: I never said that, either. That was another poster. My guess is, he or she was referring to the “effective tax” one actually pays after cranking the handle on the tax software machine a few times. But I really have no exact idea what the poster meant.

3. About Milton Friedman’s work: I never said there was no dispute. I said scholars recognize “government interference or ineptitude” as a principal cause of the Great Depression. See Peter Termin’s “Did Monetary Forces Cause the Great Depression?” Learn to use Google to find authors and book titles.

4. About F.A. Hayek: The quote stands on its own. I do not have to defend or explain what Hayek said. If you want to know more about his thinking, read his books. After your study, if you want to try to refute him, that is your business. Maybe you will win a Nobel Prize, too!

5. About socialism being a problem, not a solution: I refer you to F.A. Hayek’s book, “The Road to Serfdom,” since it seems you are eager to know more about him. You might also want to read his student’s book, “Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics,” by Henry Hazlitt. (Really, Mark T., I cannot do your homework for you!)

6. About the flat tax: I never said anything about a flat tax. That was another poster. (Sorry, I know that one was your “favorite.”)

7. About General Electric and the jumble that you have written thereafter: If you want to sort through this mess and leave out the Black Helicopter stuff, I will be more than happy to debate you on any remaining points, so long as they are presented one at a time. For example, the abrogation of the 1972 ABM Treaty.

Well, I, too, must get ready for the weekend. I’m off to watch girls’ basketball. They don’t call me Professor Picklewiggle for nothing, you know!

Steve T. said...

Professor P. - I am now more convinced than ever that you are Don Mellon.

You are not claiming the Anonymous quotes as your own, despite the fact that you refuted my first claim that "anonymous = Don Mellon." Why would you refute that if anonymous was not you?

Plus, your posts have returned to inanity....telling us to "do our own homework" (homework being reading the economists whose point of view you happen to agree with and pretending that their research equals unmitigated truth) as opposed to making real arguments.

In any case, it seems that your psychosis comes through more and more with each post. Perhaps you should get on a more efficient schedule when it comes to taking your meds.

You are an odd duck, that's for sure. Your comment about Mark T. being a "snake in your talons" is a gem. I will have to remember that one.

Anonymous said...

And if you'll look at the post above, "the Mellon who is not Mellon" is back on his favorite hobby horse -- the Marxists at MSU and their leftist defenders at the Chronicle. He is truly a man of few thoughts and many delusions.

Anonymous said...

So if it's about humans having sex with animals then it must be Ed Kemmick, right?

Steve T. said...

So that last comment is what it's come to. It's sad really. You actually passed for a reasonable, intelligent (althought wrong) person in your first few posts.

Pathetic, really.

Anonymous said...

Ooooo! The Don Mellon bogeyman is back! Lose an argument, get stomped, it’s that boogeyman again! Ooooo!

Ed Kemmick said...

No, Don, this is me. But as for delusions, your delusions of grandeur would be enough to keep a team of psychologists busy. You post a bunch of twaddle, proclaim yourself victor and then pretend you're not the obnoxious troll everyone knows you to be. So you happen to go to MSU? Try to loosen up and make a friend, even a single friend. The real world can be ever so much more fun than looking at your reflection on the computer screen and seeing a genius.

Steve T. said...

Yes, Don, we're all squirming in your talons. Therefore we are reduced to telling you that you haven't made any arguments, and you are, quite possibly, mad.

I do that every time I lose an argument.

Anonymous said...

Is this a gay blog or what?

SF said...


You are projecting your inadequacies onto other people, both real and imagined people. You must learn to live with the average intellect and talent that nature has given you because it is inevitable, as you mature and go through life, that you will encounter others who have been endowed with greater intellect and talent, more so if you ever venture forth from the shelter of your local support group.

You simply cannot lash out blindly every time you meet someone who is more intelligent or more talented than you; for to do so will make you all the more alienated, not to mention a laughingstock. And such derision will only reinforce your psychological condition.

However, I also detect another problem that you are unconsciously struggling with. Although my analysis is strictly based on a study of the photographs you posted of yourself on your blog site, I do think it is generally accurate.

To the untrained observer, you appear to be merely uneasy and self-conscious in these photographs. But I believe all professionals would agree that the various props you have selected to adorn yourself with, combined with your unshaven appearance, indicate you are in the midst of a gender identity crisis.

Certainly this is not the place to offer an in-depth diagnosis, and I do have a strict rule against giving out too much free advice, but I will say, in short, that you must accept yourself as you are. Similar to my advice above, about accepting your middling intellect and talent, I suggest you try to discovery your real self, wherever that may lead you.

Ed Kemmick said...

The chickenshit takes a stab at humor and fails as miserably as when he attempts to be a smarty-pants.

Anonymous said...

Don Mellon fans from all over cyberspace wonder, how can I reach my hero, to let him know how much I admire him? Simple!
Don Mellon
14 Fish Hatchery Road S.
Ennis, MT 59729

Phone number: (406) 682-7400

Let him know you care!

Carl said...

Hey anonymous—I got the Magic Mirror Beauty Parlor in Ennis when I tried to call that number. What’s up with that?

Cowboy Steve said...

Ed don’t let them get you going just ignore them. I know your the smartest guy in town and I respect your music talents but it might not be a bad idea to change those pictures. I can’t put my real name on this because I don’t want people to think I’m well you know...

Mark said...

Don _ I respct that you've read Hayek - he needs t be alaylzed critically. Read Amartya Sen, Paul Krugman - get an opposing view. You do come off as not so bad if you would stick to your real name and post your convictions without appeals to aurhority and gross generalizations. We dcannot debate without generalizing, but you take it to extremes.