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The Politics Forum: a Festering Pit of Inanity

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Actually I can't imagine the viewer ship of an Obama/Bush debate, it would shatter any records, but I've seen many threads produced and argued, basically with two posters with ideologically different viewpoints, moderators or not, draw huge viewer ships. It has always seemed to me, that should be a motive or the motive for any forum. This leads to poster interest and of course ratings for potential advertising revenue...

There are forums where anything goes and you get rampant confirmation bias because only one viewpoint is tolerated; any dissent brings a dogpile of "you're an idiot" style of posts. They get a lot of traffic. If SFN went that direction, I would leave, and I suspect a lot of others would as well. Traffic is not the sole goal.

 

swansont, using iNow's hypothetical thread above, it would be easy to offer hundreds of threads pro/con Krugman or Keynesian Economics. The issue itself is subjective to a person and that person's ideology determines the validity, the various approaches to solutions have thousands of arguable variables to be considered. Said another way, iNow simply believes the way Krugman explains Keynesian Policy is a viable, practical means to reach some result.

I would have no problems with people discussing various schools of thought. What bothers me is when a poster creates a strawman to rebut someone else or twist the statement of some source, or states bald falsehoods (taxes are at an all time high!). It bothers me when things get personal (reading comprehension is obviously not your strength).

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I would have no problems with people discussing various schools of thought. What bothers me is when a poster creates a strawman to rebut someone else or twist the statement of some source, or states bald falsehoods (taxes are at an all time high!). It bothers me when things get personal (reading comprehension is obviously not your strength).[/Quote]

 

swansont, in offering me proof of how any statement can be argued, I'll stray off topic. Federal Income Taxes RATES, have been higher or non existed (most the first half our history), but overall taxes in many places NYC, Chicago and most States ARE at near or at all time highs, the combination far exceeding historic revenues and most certainly the total tax collection of the past.

 

Here is a year by year picture, but keep in mind inflation which has increased also from 1914 and each States Collections for everything including tolls, are at all time highs and are not just on the rich, even the less wealthy are paying more today than ever. Then how many people do you think earned 400k$ from 1948 to 1964, compared to the number earning 250k$-379k$ after deductions (which have declined, dramatically)?

 

http://ntu.org/tax-basics/history-of-federal-individual-1.html

 

Well, I've taken the blunt of many personal attacks, grammar the most often, by whom is not important, but this has only encouraged me to produce better post, it's very much part of any intellectual discussion. "It bothers me" is a subjective statement and one which should not be included during moderation, IMO...

 

There are forums where anything goes and you get rampant confirmation bias because only one viewpoint is tolerated; any dissent brings a dogpile of "you're an idiot" style of posts. They get a lot of traffic. If SFN went that direction, I would leave, and I suspect a lot of others would as well. Traffic is not the sole goal.[/Quote]

 

In my years posting, "anything" goes or put my way, no moderation at all (Frost Cloud), I've seen nothing, NOT found on any other Science oriented forum. What I have seen and mentioned are the views a couple good debaters can bring to a thread, which this forum HAS had many. Since this argument is nothing new to me, I will admit forum owners are reluctant to say revenues are important however it does play a roll. As for losing staff, you have lost some good members and I can only guess why, leading to internal politics and I would never get involved with that...

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swansont, in offering me proof of how any statement can be argued, I'll stray off topic. Federal Income Taxes RATES, have been higher or non existed (most the first half our history), but overall taxes in many places NYC, Chicago and most States ARE at near or at all time highs, the combination far exceeding historic revenues and most certainly the total tax collection of the past.

 

Here is a year by year picture, but keep in mind inflation which has increased also from 1914 and each States Collections for everything including tolls, are at all time highs and are not just on the rich, even the less wealthy are paying more today than ever. Then how many people do you think earned 400k$ from 1948 to 1964, compared to the number earning 250k$-379k$ after deductions (which have declined, dramatically)?

 

http://ntu.org/tax-basics/history-of-federal-individual-1.html

 

The issue with a post like this is that it does not back up the claim. The link you provide shows that tax rates were higher in the past. No evidence is given to support the claim that the total tax rate is at an all-time high. Any comparison of amounts has to be indexed to inflation to mean anything. Providing a link at all puts this ahead of some posts, where you find claims without any substantiation at all.

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swansont; First and foremost, Federal Income taxes are today, whatever they are, higher than what was before 1914 (excluding, during US Civil war), because there were NONE.

 

2nd; Even indexing to inflation or population increases, collections and expenditures were minute compared to today's and today's State expenses are largely determined by Federal mandates. In 1950 total Federal Revenue was 43.5B$, expenditures 44.8B$ (1.3 added to deficit) and State and Local Spending totaled 27.9B$, with a GDP of 294B$ or about 1/50th in 2010. In 2010 revenues were about 2.3T$, expenditures 3.7T$ (1.55T$ added to deficit) and STATES & LOCAL Government collected or were granted and spent 2.9T$. You will have to enter year for citations on these figures....

 

http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/budget_pie_gs.php?span=usgs302&year=2010&view=1&expand=&expandC=&units=b&fy=fy11&local=s&state=US#usgs302

 

3rd; for all practical purposes there were no payroll taxes or collections in 1950 and virtually no expenses before 1940. Today collections are over 800B$, all of which goes to the Federal before granting.

 

http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/federal_revenue

 

4th; Legal deductions in 1950 have largely been diminished, even though targeted credits have replaced some to specific business or demographics, the end result being more overall taxes and States/Local taxes, significantly higher today, have had few deduction allowable.

 

5th; Inflation from 1950 to 2010 has been about 800% or what cost you 20.00 in 1950 would cost you 180.00 today and for the sake of rebuttal, the population has doubled. By comparison the above high lighted increase would be a 5,000% increase.

 

http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/

 

My conclusion would be that overall tax revenues have never been higher and that the evidence is NOT disputable. Keep in mind however, that I've gone through the trouble to lay out this argument, ONLY to show, under politics, any issue can be disputed and very few would bother...

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One must also consider income growth. Higher government revenue is unimportant if family incomes have shot up dramatically, as is in fact the case. The current tax burden, as measured as percentage of family income and including federal, state and local taxes, is at the lowest point since 1958.

 

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2011-05-05-tax-cut-record-low_n.htm

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One must also consider income growth. Higher government revenue is unimportant if family incomes have shot up dramatically, as is in fact the case. The current tax burden, as measured as percentage of family income and including federal, state and local taxes, is at the lowest point since 1958.[/Quote]

 

CR; Your article is based on incomes of 100K$ and looking at your link's chart the current decrease is based on the Bush Tax Cuts and a recession, a significant drop coming after 2003 and 2007. Keep in mind today nearly half the filers, those that even file, end up paying nothing to the Federal, yet still pay some payroll and probably an increased amount to States and Local coffers. You should also consider GDP, overall wealth, which had increased yearly until 2008.

 

If you then consider "disposable income", which has been decreasing, in part by local/State Taxes, really high inflation (using above link 31% since 2000) and personal debt, it become a matter of priorities. The housing bubble burst also needs to be considered, but overall until recently, tax revenues proportionately speaking have increased, certainly from when tax RATES were at there highest.

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swansont; First and foremost, Federal Income taxes are today, whatever they are, higher than what was before 1914 (excluding, during US Civil war), because there were NONE.

 

The issue is supporting the claim that the tax burden is at an all-time high. Not that they are at an all-time low.

 

2nd; Even indexing to inflation or population increases, collections and expenditures were minute compared to today's and today's State expenses are largely determined by Federal mandates. In 1950 total Federal Revenue was 43.5B$, expenditures 44.8B$ (1.3 added to deficit) and State and Local Spending totaled 27.9B$, with a GDP of 294B$ or about 1/50th in 2010. In 2010 revenues were about 2.3T$, expenditures 3.7T$ (1.55T$ added to deficit) and STATES & LOCAL Government collected or were granted and spent 2.9T$. You will have to enter year for citations on these figures....

GDP went up by a factor of 50. Taxes collected went up by a factor of 32. The overall tax burden compared to GDP has therefore gone down. How does this help your case?

 

CR; Your article is based on incomes of 100K$

No, it's not. That's simply used as a numerical example.

 

But this does bring to mind another problem: clarifying your claims. As we have seen, the remark "taxes are at an all-time high" can be interpreted in different ways. One should explain if they mean total revenue amount, the tax rate, etc, in addition to giving a link to back up the claim.

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No, it's not. That's simply used as a numerical example.[/Quote]

 

And I'm using 1950 as a base line, so what...if I used 1914 it would look ridiculous. Look closely at that 1950 budget and compare to any 2010 expense you want without counting the deficit and it's not possible to justify where the increased money supply came from other than through revenues.

 

But this does bring to mind another problem: clarifying your claims. As we have seen, the remark "taxes are at an all-time high" can be interpreted in different ways. One should explain if they mean total revenue amount, the tax rate, etc, in addition to giving a link to back up the claim. [/Quote]

 

swansont, have you ever argued with yourself, I don't recall ever having done so and not had out of context material thrown back at me, often using the memorable phrase "word games".....and I did explain the rates/revenue differential, in my opening statement to you.

 

 

GDP went up by a factor of 50. Taxes collected went up by a factor of 32. The overall tax burden compared to GDP has therefore gone down. How does this help your case?[/Quote]

 

Yeah, I took the wrong number using the GDP figure opposed to State/Local spending which had to be collected, either by taxing or grants from the Federal. The increase from 2010 then has jumped to 104 times the 1950 figure, not the 50. I'm might be getting too old, to be explaining math to scientist.

 

 

Now here is my final question and simplified; Since the inflation calculator figures in 2010 it would take 180$ to buy what 20$ would in 1950, --8-- times as much, how can you or CR deny the --104--- times increase in State/Local (itself 13 times FASTER) spending growth (28B$ to 2.9T$), was not or could not compensate for lower rates ALONE, much less involving the other variables?

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My conclusion would be that overall tax revenues have never been higher and that the evidence is NOT disputable. Keep in mind however, that I've gone through the trouble to lay out this argument, ONLY to show, under politics, any issue can be disputed and very few would bother...

 

This is highly disputable even if you only look at the revenue.

Link

(also the other graphs are quite nice).

 

The point is that the revenue only makes sense as part of GDP as Capn implied. Since the 50s the revenues were consistently between 15-20% of GDP certainly there are no increasing trends or peaks.

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Now here is my final question and simplified; Since the inflation calculator figures in 2010 it would take 180$ to buy what 20$ would in 1950, --8-- times as much, how can you or CR deny the --104--- times increase in State/Local (itself 13 times FASTER) spending growth (28B$ to 2.9T$), was not or could not compensate for lower rates ALONE, much less involving the other variables?

First of all "spending growth" wasn't the subject, it was taxes — money paid in. So that's either an example of miscommunication, where people argue different points or it's moving the goalposts (which is a no-no) that often creeps into politics discussions. Changing the argument or not realizing what the argument is leads to problems (personally I find it to be one of the more frustrating things, when you say that you aren't arguing a particular point and keep getting engaged on that same point). We were talking about the tax burden, i.e. how much people pay in taxes. Nobody denied that spending has increased x104, because that was never part of the discussion.

 

As a fraction of what we make, taxes are not at an all-time high. It's been higher for most of the 30 years prior to the Bush II tax-cut era.

 

(and you have a typo; 180/20 = 9)

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And before you protest that INCOME taxes may be low, but the government is now gouging us a thousand new ways, note that total government tax revenue (federal, state, and local) is actually now lower than pretty much any time in the last 40 years. (Not as low as it was in the first half of the last century, though!)[/Quote]

 

From your link, with my emphasize...

 

 

CharonY; If you understand your chart, it represents the total revenue collection from ALL Government, Local/State/Federal. Since Federal has in modern times run consistently around 18-19% of GDP, anything above indicates increased taxes from other sources and always from State or Local sources (on some manner), which has been the case since 1950, which is the essence of my argument.

 

 

 

 

First of all "spending growth" wasn't the subject, it was taxes — money paid in. So that's either an example of miscommunication, where people argue different points or it's moving the goalposts (which is a no-no) that often creeps into politics discussions. Changing the argument or not realizing what the argument is leads to problems (personally I find it to be one of the more frustrating things, when you say that you aren't arguing a particular point and keep getting engaged on that same point). We were talking about the tax burden, i.e. how much people pay in taxes. Nobody denied that spending has increased x104, because that was never part of the discussion. [/Quote]

 

swansont, actually the thread was a complaint on how one poster felt the "Politics" forum was heading. I admittedly went off topic, to show how issues in politics can be seen in more than one way by different people and the use of links can become disingenuous to the discussion, once the authors intent is established, which I believe I've accomplished.

 

As for increased spending 104 fold since 1950, by all Government, this could only happen with increased revenues and IMO basic common sense, even understanding that most those Governments are also at all time high debt/GDP ratios, then based on current or future obligations. How you can split one from the other is beyond my imagination, then to argue Taxes are somehow lower today than ever....

 

As a fraction of what we make, taxes are not at an all-time high. It's been higher for most of the 30 years prior to the Bush II tax-cut era.[/Quote]

 

I don't disagree with this, noting they are Federal Income Taxes only, however States/Local Governments have increased, even after the Bush Tax Cuts. Somehow, it wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't a factor in the housing bubble burst, as people buying homes were coping with higher property/school taxes in many parts of the country. The above chart where total taxes steadily increased from around 25%, post WWII in 1950 to 36% in 2002 and again in 2007, in my mind tells the story, since from the same period Federal Taxes have been held to 18-19% of the GDP, yet total revenues increased to GDP and that GDP has radically increased, a larger percentage of a larger total GDP???

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As for increased spending 104 fold since 1950, by all Government, this could only happen with increased revenues and IMO basic common sense, even understanding that most those Governments are also at all time high debt/GDP ratios, then based on current or future obligations. How you can split one from the other is beyond my imagination, then to argue Taxes are somehow lower today than ever....

 

I don't disagree with this, noting they are Federal Income Taxes only, however States/Local Governments have increased, even after the Bush Tax Cuts. Somehow, it wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't a factor in the housing bubble burst, as people buying homes were coping with higher property/school taxes in many parts of the country. The above chart where total taxes steadily increased from around 25%, post WWII in 1950 to 36% in 2002 and again in 2007, in my mind tells the story, since from the same period Federal Taxes have been held to 18-19% of the GDP, yet total revenues increased to GDP and that GDP has radically increased, a larger percentage of a larger total GDP???

Again, this is why we must clarify our points very carefully. CharonY's graph shows definitively that as a fraction of GDP, total state, local, and federal taxes have not increased since the 50s. The article I pointed to from USA Today shows that as a fraction of household income, the federal, state, and local combined tax burden is at the lowest level since 1958. But if you want to argue that total tax revenues are higher than ever, sure...

 

Also, increased spending doesn't have to happen with increased revenues, as I'm sure the deficit crisis has made you aware.

 

This also demonstrates how politics threads often get derailed by minor points because posters don't clearly express their points and cite dodgy evidence (like quoting revenue and GDP statistics rather than tax burden). Unfortunately it's nearly impossible to enforce rules about this.

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This also demonstrates how politics threads often get derailed by minor points because posters don't clearly express their points and cite dodgy evidence (like quoting revenue and GDP statistics rather than tax burden). Unfortunately it's nearly impossible to enforce rules about this.

It also demonstrates how political threads get started in Off Topics forums and discussed outside the area where some people are banned. You might as well let them back in the politics forum so threads like this don't go off topic >:D

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Local revenues have remained principally ad-valorem taxes. Income taxes remain negligible in most localities. Fees and business income, including employee retirement operations, have steadily increased as a share of revenue throughout the 20th century.[/Quote]

 

http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/revenue_history

 

 

CR; Here is about the best evidence I could produce, basically showing, that Federal Revenues (from what ever source) have been relatively constant from 1950 to 2008, under 20% of GDP. If I were debating your side, I could argue SS or payroll taxes should not be included, were supposed to be held in a separate account (was not), but has been part of revenues used to spend. Chart #4....

 

Chart #5 and #6, are a total of all States and localities, based on USA GDP and between them indicate about 5% of the 1950 GDP (294B$) and 17% of the 2010 GDP (14.6Trillion$), nearly the same as the US collected. Please note the difference GDP figures, actual then dollars in 1950 about 14.5B$ vs. 2.5T$. Per the inflation calculator offered above which is adjusted for inflation it takes 9 times the money in 2010 to buy what one dollar would in 1950, while the collections are up 172 times, far exceeding inflation.

 

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104575.html

 

Yes, I understand deficits and above have mentioned as a variable, but the problem here is that most States and few localities can run up deficits (State Balanced budget laws) and only the Federal Government can or actually deflate the dollar, by printing money. In fact the link offered above and now below, shows State and Local Governments had -0- deficits in both 1950 and 2010, you will need to put in year you looking for...

 

 

 

http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/budget_pie_gs.php?span=usgs302&year=2010&view=1&expand=&expandC=&units=b&fy=fy11&local=s&state=US#usgs302

 

Also I understand the Federal sends back a large portion of their receipts (payroll/user taxes) and under various grants, but even here they were doing the same things, probably more proportionately in 1950 than today. Frankly nobody can offer a viable figure on what all is involved, but the end figures can only mean we have been spending more and more for all our Governments, but that money HAS and HAD to come from public funds, individual or business.

 

 

It also demonstrates how political threads get started in Off Topics forums and discussed outside the area where some people are banned. You might as well let them back in the politics forum so threads like this don't go off topic.[/Quote]

 

doG, I hope I haven't miss lead you, but to my knowledge only iNow has been banned from

Politics, but they do have a 30 day/30 post minimum (I think) for new members and I don't understand either action. I believe if iNow did PM Staff, they would act according to only what they know, caused the banning. Many others have left, I assume on their own and the thread author was disgruntled about today postings.

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I took a break from the forums and came back to find that the politics forum has been subjected to another barrage of utterly moronic tripe. Before this thread got somewhat derailed, the conversation was about weather or not serious changes were needed to prevent such blitzes of stupidity, and what those changes should be. I think its worth renewing that conversation.

 

Previously, I suggested that the ability to open new threads in the politics forum be restricted to those who have demonstrated the ability for reasoned discourse. DJBruce said he supported the idea.

 

I think that would fix the problem of threads that are doomed from the beginning to descend into a cacophony of idiocy. But even then the posters who had been posting tripe would still be able to derail and otherwise ruin threads started by trusted users. Fortunately, I think that with the moronic threads gone, it would be easier to maintain the forums. If someone posts something truly moronic in a thread, trusted politics users could remove the post to a new forum perhaps called politics-lite where trusted users could educate the poster on why their post is misguided and help them develop a less bad post for the original thread.

 

So my over all proposal, is that the politics forums be split into politics and politics-lite.

 

In politics, only trusted users can start new threads, but anyone with 30 posts can post in them.

 

When someone posts in politics, an the post is found to be bellow community standards, a moderator moves it to politics-lite. Here, only trusted users and the person who's post was refereed to politics lite can post in the thread. The goal is for the trusted users to help the user develop a post that is up to community standards which can be posted in the original thread in politics.

Edited by bob000555

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Previously, I suggested that the ability to open new threads in the politics forum be restricted to those who have demonstrated the ability for reasoned discourse. DJBruce said he supported the idea.

<...>

But even then the posters who had been posting tripe would still be able to derail and otherwise ruin threads started by trusted users.

<...>

If someone posts something truly moronic in a thread, trusted politics users could remove the post to a new forum perhaps called politics-lite where trusted users could educate the poster on why their post is misguided and help them develop a less bad post for the original thread.

<...>

Here, only trusted users and the person who's post was refereed to politics lite can post in the thread. The goal is for the trusted users to help the user develop a post that is up to community standards which can be posted in the original thread in politics.

By what criteria would you be able to objectively make this decision regarding who is a "trusted user?" Who gets to make it? What do you do when there is disagreement among the decision makers about who is and who is not a trusted user? How could you eliminate personal bias and subjectivity from these decisions? I understand what you're saying in theory, but in practice it is quite likely to fail quickly. Humans are biased, and their biases will cause disagreement, both inside political discussions and also inside the room where the "trusted user" label is being discussed and decided.

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When someone posts in politics, an the post is found to be bellow community standards, a moderator moves it to politics-lite. Here, only trusted users and the person who's post was refereed to politics lite can post in the thread. The goal is for the trusted users to help the user develop a post that is up to community standards which can be posted in the original thread in politics.

In my experience, people take offense at measures like this, and they invariably become stubborn and unwilling to learn. Consider how they perceive it: "I posted my opinion, people disagreed, and now I've been forced into some special forum for nitwits because I took an unpopular position."

 

Furthermore, how do you maintain continuity when posts are shunted into separate forums with regularity? Discussions would be disjointed and difficult to follow.

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Yeah, it was only a suggestion; the point was to renew conversation about fixing the politics forum. But, I do stand by my position that the right to start new threads in the politics section should be restricted.

Especially in light light of threads like these:

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59183-right-or-wrong-brains-or-brawn/

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59132-logical-argument-to-consider/

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59162-fortunately-most-countries-are-nowhere-near-their-maximum-sustainable-population-sizes/

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59118-just-for-interests-sake/

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/59008-wealthy-people/

 

Quite frankly, the politics forum is drowning in shit and and something needs to be done about it.

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bob000555; With due respect, I don't think any respected member of most any forum has gone very long without authoring threads he/she wishes were not posted. On the other hand, I could list your dozens of threads, even in Politics, that were started by seemingly illiterate or INEXPERIANCED posters that became big hits. Additionally, I could list threads on every subforum, this site or any other, that to me seemed like pure nonsense, but took on a long and interesting life. I think iNow, above, pretty well explained the subjective nature of judging others!!!

 

What your probably concerned with, being a casual poster over 5 years here is the current level of actual political threads being offered under Politicsw, maybe the quality that has off and on, been outstanding (exceptional to even Political forums) over the years, appears not to be the same. They have dropped the requirements to post on politics and given a little time, you will see an improvement.

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There's also an issue of what topics are of importance to people. Everyone is entitled to an opinion about what is important to them, even if it seems trivial to someone else.

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