Vote

By Phil Plait | October 31, 2008 12:31 pm

I votedI just got back from voting. I don’t know if it’s too late where my American readers live, but if it’s not, I suggest getting out there and doing it. The lines will be a lot shorter; Tuesday promises to have record voter turnout.

I was actually excited to vote today. I was fired up. It was great to see the early voter polling place full (though not too full; I’m not so good at waiting in lines). There were so many different types of people: old, young, men, women, various ethnicities (including one woman wearing a burqa-like covering, though her whole face was exposed; it occurred to me that here it’s considered extremely modest, but in some countries — where voting isn’t quite the same as here — it would be considered the height of sacrilege).

There were two (very) pregnant — hope for the future. There were men with ponytails (it’s Boulder, after all) and a big guy dressed like a farmer. Some people were in costumes for the holiday, but most came in off the street to get their voice heard early.

I walked out of there feeling happy. Uplifted. Empowered.

I know, it sounds corny. But I have hope. We’ll see what’s what on Tuesday night.

Until then, exercise your obligation, your duty, as a citizen of a country that remains bound by the Constitution.

Vote.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (161)

  1. dan

    I’d be more enthusiatic voting for obama in the US than any we got in uk.

  2. Thomas Siefert

    Hello I’m Johnny Cash
    One night I had a backstage pass to the Willie Nelson Show

    There were wackoes and weirdoes and dingbats and dodoes
    And athletes and movie stars and David Allan Coe
    There was leather and lace and every minority race
    With a backstage pass to the Willie Nelson Show

    Kristofferson got an offer for a movie promoters closed another deal or two
    Waylon got a call from his son Shooter and he went home the minute he was through
    I moved with the mob at intermission
    To the green room where you see who you can see
    There were has-been’s and would-be’s and never-were’s
    Paupers punks and millionaires and me
    And there were wackoes…

    Hells Angels blocked the traffic to the building
    In order for the beer truck to come through
    And waitin’ in the wings to sing with Willie were hopeful stars of flickering magnitude
    There was a singer Willie knew back in the fifties
    Who once paid him fifty dollars for a song
    There were women who once did and some who still would
    I heard one ask did Connie come along
    And there were wackoes…
    I wish you could’ve been there well maybe you were

  3. I hope CO goes blue this year.

  4. Russ

    Its really too bad that so many have lost sight of what make this country great, personal liberty.

  5. Mus

    I would vote, but I’m not a US citizen yet :(

    CO is definitely going blue this year. So is virginia. What I’m hoping for is for NC to go blue. FL would be nice too.

  6. Trebuchet

    BA, apparently you have early voting, which I don’t think is all that widespread. Here it’s all by mail. That’s very convenient (and in fact we had requested permanent absentee ballots several years before mail became the only way) but there is something to be said for actually making the trip to the polling place and seeing the folks.

  7. Did my duty in Florida (Floriduh?) a while back.

    And those who don’t want to “contribute to the system” or whatever excuse you have, keep in mind we can’t tell if you are too lazy, drunk, stupid, whatever to vote. If you must make a statement, you can “Burn the vote” (http://burnthevote.com).

    Another expression of contempt at the system could be to vote against every incumbent and say “NO” on every proposal they put up. ;)

  8. Dave Hall

    My wife and I voted last week. Here in the wilds of Spokanistan, WA, we have mail-in ballots. The day they arrived we filled them in and put them in the drop box at the library.

    Having voted did wonders around the house–the pressure to vote is gone. Before the ballots arrived, my wife was reading all the news stories and worrying about the election. Now peace reigns. We have done what we could. And now, it is up to the rest of the country.

  9. Cheyenne

    I voted early too. I always feel a tiny drop of civic pride when I do that. I can’t imagine living in a country where the people aren’t allowed to decide who their leaders will be.

  10. Jeremy

    I would if I could, but 20 states don’t have early voting and I’m in one of them.

  11. The Chemist Says: “I hope CO goes blue this year.”

    I’ve noticed that the only states using the blue-state/red-state cliche are the blue ones, so it looks like you’ll get your wish.

    - Jack

  12. Dmitry Mazin

    Unless you voted outside republicrat lines, your vote probably didn’t mean anything, so don’t be too giddy.

  13. billsmithaz

    I voted three weeks ago by mail-in ballot. The trend is that the percentage of mail-in ballots being cast is growing larger with each election. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects the campaign process. Will it eliminate the ‘October surprise’ (which is normally last-minute mudslinging and scandal mongering), or will it simple become an August surprise, followed by a September surprise?

    And as satisfying as it is to vote, Trebuchet has a point. There’s a communal aspect of going to the polls on election day that’s missing when you simply sign and mail a ballot.

  14. Todd W.

    *Wonders if anyone is going to vote for the socialist candidate…y’know…Brian Moore, the actual socialist candidate for president*

  15. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait:

    [...] (including one woman wearing a burqa-like covering, though her whole face was exposed; it occurred to me that here it’s considered extremely modest, but in some countries — where voting isn’t quite the same as here — it would be considered the height of sacrilege).

    Yeah, like the Janet Jackson ‘boob incident’ — here in Britain, Europe, and Australia, etc., it laughed off; whereas in the US, ‘the innocence of our youth has been corrupted’! :roll:

  16. @Jack Hagerty,

    I think you should look up the word “cliche” before using it. Though if you really don’t like the terminology, then it might be a good idea to avoid actually using it in your complaint.

    Just Sayin’.

  17. PhilB

    Yup, we had about a 45min wait up in Denver Country today. Apparently everybody’s excited about this.

    Now, I just have to keep fingers crossed for Obama for the next 5 days.

  18. Wow,

    We here in Atlanta haven’t been able to even get CLOSE to a early voting place. The lines have been HOURS long every day since the early voting started. Some of my office mates went into line at 9am today, and they came back to the office at 1pm, none of them made it through line, they stayed, but only got half way through the line in the 3-4 hours they stood there.

    I can’t imagine that after more than a couple weeks of lines that long, it will STILL be that way here. But… could happen…

  19. JSug

    Mail-in here. The weird thing for me is that I’m usually a fairly independent voter. I tend to vote mainly democratic, but there are usually at least a few non-democrats that seem very well qualified and not bat-guano crazy. This year I think I only voted for a single non-democrat. And that’s only because he’s the incumbent secretary of state and he’s done a good job by all accounts. He doesn’t really have any direct influence on policy. The statements for most of the Repub candidates for other offices were so far out in right field, it wasn’t even a contest.

  20. BTW,

    If you can see the face- it’s not a burqa. “Burqa” is a catch-all phrase here for some reason, but in other places it’s a very specific article of clothing. The Wikipedia page is sadly lacking- but I find it utterly bizarre to hear someone refer to certain things as Burqas that I have never heard anyone call that.

    Burqa is a generally acknowledged to be synonymous with the Afghan chadri and it’s variations: The one with the grille, sometimes a slit. It’s not worn that much outside of Aghanistan (I’ve never seen it in Arabia- for example)

    However the scarf around the head is the hijab, the (often black) robes are abayahs, there is a thicker more wintery variation of abayahs called jilbabs, and their is the niqab, which is frequently mistaken with a burka: It’s the hijab + a covering for the lower face.

    I’m not really much of a Middle Eastern fashion maven, but hearing people call the other things “burqas” is about as strange as hearing someone confuse skirts with jackets.

  21. justcorbly

    Voted here in North Carolina last week on the second day of early voting. A one-hour wait when I arrived, and a one-hour wait — in the middle of the morning — when I left. At least several, at least, obvious first-time voters in line.

    Early voting was to close tomorrow at 1 pm, but counties have been authorized to push it to 5 pm.

    Obama drew 25,000 two days ago in downtown Raleigh, which is pretty good ‘cuz parking in downtown Raleigh on a work day is almost invisible.

    BTW, I haven’t heard of any nefarious problems in early voting. NC uses OCR machines and everything seems to go smoothly.

  22. Richard Wolford

    @Jack Hagerty

    Yes, CNN is such a blue state. Like you said, no one else would ever dare use colors.

  23. Maltodextrin

    I helped turn Virginia blue about two weeks ago. It feels so good to get all that out of the way, especially considering how busy my Tuesday schedule tends to be.

  24. QUR

    Actually, hijab is a catchall term referring to the general modest dress (as well as other things, its Arabic meaning being something along the lines of “cover”), but also sometimes used to refer to specific garments worn for such purposes, including (often, but not always) the headscarf.

  25. We don’t have early voting here in my state of Misery. But my friend named John McCain voted early in Ohio … for Obama:

    I’d put a link to my post about it, but my earlier experience indicates that your spam trap prohibits all links.

  26. Well, being a Canuckistanian, I can’t vote… BUT please, please do the world a favor, and vote in the right man for change… :)

    BTW, I’m dressing up as Phil Plait tonight for a Halloween Party. I’ll be demonstrating science with my squishy ball of science which I will carry around in my pocket… :)

  27. BigBadSis

    Here are the states that have early voting and when it started. Unfortunately, here in Maryland, I don’t vote till Tuesday.
    Virginia: 9/19/08
    Georgia: 9/22/08
    South Dakota: 9/23/08
    Iowa: 9/25/08
    Ohio: 9/25/08
    Wyoming: 9/25/08
    Nebraska: 9/29/08
    Maine: 10/1/08
    Arizona: 10/2/08
    California: 10/6/08
    Vermont: 10/6/08
    Montana: 10/6/08
    Illinois: 10/14/08
    Wisconsin: 10/14/08
    Kansas: 10/15/08
    Tennessee: 10/15/08
    West Virginia: 10/15/08
    North Carolina: 10/16/08
    Nevada: 10/18/08
    New Mexico: 10/18/08
    Alaska: 10/20/08
    Arkansas: 10/20/08
    Colorado: 10/20/08
    Florida: 10/20/08
    North Dakota: 10/20/08
    Texas: 10/20/08
    Hawaii: 10/21/08
    Louisiana: 10/21/08
    Utah: 10/21/08

  28. billsmithaz

    @Michael L:

    Just be very, very careful when using the phrase “click here to embiggen”…

  29. Knurl

    FL quite probably will be blue this year, from what I’ve been hearing people say. The early voting lines have been running a 1-2 hour wait, up to 3 last weekend. Turnout has been so high that here in Palm Beach County they extended the hours to 7AM – 7PM.

    There is no question whatsoever in my mind that this is the most critical election I’ve seen in the 32 years that I’ve been voting. Everyone, please make sure you vote. And when you do, vote “YES” for science.

  30. If I could vote early, I would. But I’ll be there bright and early Tuesday morning :-)

  31. BTW, I’m dressing up as Phil Plait tonight for a Halloween Party. I’ll be demonstrating science with my squishy ball of science which I will carry around in my pocket… :)

    It’s Squishy brain of science!

    *Rolls Eyes*

    Wannabe.

  32. schism

    I know, it sounds corny.

    You have no idea.

    To be fair, I’m enormously cynical about votes actually mattering, being a non-Republican in Texas. The poll workers might as well rip up my registration card and throw me out of the building for all the effect I’ll have.

  33. BMcP

    I will be voting Monday, and I have a ponytail also. :)

    I am not big on the whole “everyone vote!” idea, as I loath the idea of ignorant and uninformed people voting, especially when they just do the straight party ticket idea without even really knowing why.

  34. In Virginia you can only vote early if you qualify to vote absentee (only a few outlined reasons). I don’t qualify. That’s ok, though. I hope the lines are really really long on Tuesday. This is an important election and I would love to see record turn out.

  35. Mena

    BigBadSis, early voting started in Illinois on 10/13 and ended yesterday. Next stop-election day!
    By the way, I have been an election judge since I was in my 20′s. They are always looking for people to man the polls, and in some cases have waived the “registered voter” requirement so they could have high school students work. It’s not just voting that’s important, go out there and be a judge and make sure that the polls in your area are being run fairly. It’s a long day and the pay sucks but it IS worthwhile.

  36. @ The Chemist:
    Brain of science, ball of science, what’s the difference…? :)

  37. Doc

    I’ll be voting on Tuesday. Even on the busiest of election days in our district, I’ve never had to wait more than an hour.

    Then again, I live in a part of Ohio that has always voted strongly Republican. Always had enough voting machines and poll workers. Coincidence?

  38. Dee

    Lets take the most uniformed people in society and simplify the voting process for them. oh,wait that still not enough. Okay then lets have an organization hold there hand still and move the registration form under it. but wait, its still not enough. Okay lets promise them a bunch of government entitlement programs. One last thing. Don’t forget to tell them which candidate to vote for just before the curtain is closed. Democracy in action.

  39. My psyberwife and I brought the psyberbaby to the poll this morning in (dare I say) Florida. It was well-attended by voters and staff.

    Poll workers were gleefully giving out “I voted early” stickers and announcing first-time voters to the waiting crowd as the newbies joined the line. Nobody yelled “Virgin!”. I was hoping.

    No butterfly ballots or hanging chad this time; Scantron forms. So now there is a paper trail in addition to the electronic data scanned and submitted.

    If it works, it should be quite exciting :-)

  40. I’ve noticed that the only states using the blue-state/red-state cliche are the blue ones

    Probably because the red states don’t consider the blue ones to be “real America” at all.

  41. JoeSmithCA

    I say DON’T vote “blue”, “red”, Independent, Republican or Democratic. Vote for whatever or whom ever seems most likely to be in-line with your own goals, beliefs, ideals etc. It’s nice to proud to be of a paticular group or affiliation, just as long as you don’t follow it blindly.

    Hmmm, that reminds me:

    McCarthyism.

    Hmmm Joe or Jenny.

  42. Chip

    Voted today!
    Also volunteer working phone banks for Obama.
    Helped create and worked on a local fund raiser for Obama. :D

  43. DaveB

    I don’t think it’s corny at all to feel proud of voting.

    I always feel good when I go to my polling place and cast my vote.

    I AM worried about the wholesale voter disenfranchisement, though. In an election that seems to be marked by a concerted effort to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from exercising their right to vote, I just hope that the margin of victory is large enough to prevent it from affecting the outcome.

    Tossing out ANYBODY’s vote or making it hard for people to vote is tragic, even if it only happens to a few people. If the right people win, hopefully we can fix the system so that everyone gets to vote and make it count.

  44. kuhnigget

    @ all Californians:

    No on Prop 8. Boo. Hiss. :D

  45. kuhnigget

    Oh, and happy Halloween!

  46. hale_bopp

    I just voted early on campus here…mostly students of course (I was well above the median age). A couple hours wait. U of A students were handing out candy and cookies, water and even coffee in line.

    Oh, and at least one red state (Arizona) uses that cliche, therefore I declare Jack’s statement false by counterexample!

  47. Donnie B.

    BMcP: would you settle for, “Everybody vote who is a reader of Phil’s blog and not a troll”?

  48. Donnie B.

    Oh, and I can’t vote early here, but I chipped in some funds and will be at the polls bright and early Tuesday to vote for a certain historically significant Presidential candidate (and other like-minded folk).

  49. Justin Olson

    Phil Plait:

    Until then, exercise your obligation, your duty, as a citizen of a country that remains bound by the Constitution.

    What exactly are you saying here? Are you claiming that the Constitution obligates citizens to vote? That it is a requirement of citizenship itself? As far as I’m aware, the only thing the Constitution has to say about citizen voting is that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, sex or age (over 18)… and that it shall not be taxed. That’s it.

    You might want to modify your statement, as it is not very accurate.

  50. Law Mom

    I voted this morning, our last day of early voting. I like to wait as long as possible because you never know when there will be a last minute scandal in one of the more minor races. I showed up a little before 9:00 and there was no line. They are projecing that one in four registered voters in the state will vote early, and in my opinion it’s because they made it so easy with machines at the mall, the supermarket, health clubs, senior centers, etc.

  51. Benton County Washington is all-absentee ballot for several years now. In some ways, I miss polling places. On the other hand, the absentee ballot works just fine too and, as a consequence, I have already voted.

    You can still turn in your ballots right up until The Day though.

    @Justin Olson:
    No, it doesn’t oblige people to vote, but the system works best when the most people
    1) Vote
    2) Know what they’re doing.

    We could use work on both points. One thing’s for sure, it’d be stupid not to vote. Um. Unless you’re a Republican, then you’re safe.

  52. Mrs. BA

    @ Justin Olson – Maybe Phil should have said “exercise your moral obligation…” but I think everyone but you got the idea and didn’t feel the need to nitpick.

    I was reluctant to vote early because I just love the jolt of patriotic pride I get from going to the polls on election day, but Phil convinced me that standing in line for several hours on Tuesday would probably kill that buzz. I was happy that there were so many people voting today and I still got a little voter’s buzz from the experience.

    Oh, and anyone in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District – please, please encourage everyone you know to donate to and vote for Hal Bidlack for U.S. Congress. He is truly one of the most dedicated, selfless, intelligent and honorable people I have ever cooked fajitas for. He will be an outstanding Representative for Colorado.

  53. Justin Olson

    JediBear:

    @Justin Olson:
    No, it doesn’t oblige people to vote, but the system works best when the most people
    1) Vote
    2) Know what they’re doing.

    We could use work on both points. One thing’s for sure, it’d be stupid not to vote. Um. Unless you’re a Republican, then you’re safe.

    Well, I’m not a Republican, thank you very much… but what if I were? Are you really saying I should not vote? That contradicts your earlier statement that, “the system works best when the most people vote.” So you, in fact, want an imperfect system?

    And why is not voting stupid? Are you saying that there are no rational reasons to withhold one’s vote? That sounds like an argument from incredulity: “I can’t understand why someone would chose not to vote, therefore they must be stupid.”

  54. Damn Justin, don’t have a cow. People kid around and make imprecise statements sometimes. Go ahead an be pedant if you want, but you don’t have to be a jerk. Get over yourself.

  55. Fauxnetikz

    “Until then, exercise your obligation, your duty, as a citizen of a country that remains bound by the Constitution.”

    I consider it my right, not my “obligation” or “duty.” I can exercise the right, or I can choose not to. This year I chose not to. I don’t want either one of the candidates in, so I’ll start thinking about it again in 4 years.

  56. Justin Olson

    Mrs. BA:

    @ Justin Olson – Maybe Phil should have said “exercise your moral obligation…” but I think everyone but you got the idea and didn’t feel the need to nitpick.

    I simply think clarity is best… is that nitpicking? Okay. But your husband’s sentence makes it sound like the citizen of a country bound by the Constitution obligates them to vote. Your modification helps a little… I only suggested that he might consider changing it for accuracy’s sake.

    He does this on occasion for scientific facts that he misstates. In this case, he doesn’t need to strikethrough anything… he just needs to (possibly) reconsider his sentence structure. If I’m the only one to suggest it, then I say don’t change anything.

  57. Sir Eccles

    Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!

  58. “Until then, exercise your obligation, your duty, as a citizen of a country that remains bound by the Constitution.”

    Which country would that be again? Hasn’t been a whole lot of Constitution binding in the US for quite a while.

  59. Justin Olson

    The Chemist:

    Damn Justin, don’t have a cow. People kid around and make imprecise statements sometimes. Go ahead an be pedant if you want, but you don’t have to be a jerk. Get over yourself.

    I think you’re reading-in something that isn’t actually in my posts. Phil (through imprecise wording perhaps) implied that voting is Constitutionally required for citizens… I suggested changing the post for accuracy… someone else suggested that people who don’t vote are stupid… I replied that that might not be the case and pointed out a possible logical fallacy with that statement. How is that being a jerk?

  60. Justin: living in a country where the Constitution is being shredded obligates you to vote. I never said “legally mandated to vote”, or “forced at gunpoint to vote”. It’s a duty and an obligation, and those are implied in many of the writings of the Founding Fathers. I stand by what I said.

  61. greg

    I voted for Obama and Biden last week in Florida’s early voting .

    It took me 1 hour to stand in line, sit and wait to be called, and to vote. There was a steady line of voters when I left the library.

    As of today, 60,000 voters in my county, Volusia County, have voted through early voting. There are about 340,000 registered voters in my county. So, by Sunday, more than 20 percent of the county’s population will have voted. It will most likely get up to 25 percent by Sunday.

  62. Justin Olson

    Phil Plait:

    Justin: living in a country where the Constitution is being shredded obligates you to vote. I never said “legally mandated to vote”, or “forced at gunpoint to vote”. It’s a duty and an obligation, and those are implied in many of the writings of the Founding Fathers. I stand by what I said.

    Thank you. See, now if you had been that clear to begin with I would have completely understood the point you were trying to make. I strongly encourage you to add this to your original post.

  63. ThePorkMeister

    hey, if there’s no better reason to vote, ben & jerry’s is giving free ice cream to people with an “i voted” sticker!

  64. IVAN3MAN

    Is there postal voting in the US, as there is here in Britain?

  65. Maybe someone from “Down Under” can correct me on this, but didn’t the Australian Government pass legislation making it illegal NOT to vote? I had heard they were talking about that. Our Canuckian Gov’t talked about that in the election previous to the past one, which, I think had record Low voter turnout.

    I don’t know how you could legislate that. I mean, the freedom to vote, or not to vote is a part of democracy, is it not?

  66. It is compulsory in Australia to turn up at the polling booth and register your appearance as being prepared to vote (if you are a citizen, which I am not, I’m an immigrant). If you do not sign in at the polling booth you are fined, something like $25.

    But you don’t have to actually vote once you get there. The majority do vote, but many choose to deliberately deface the ballot, or just not bother filling it in.

    I wish the non-votes counted as something, but they don’t – they’re just dismissed as “no-votes”, and not ever considered as being “I don’t trust or like any of these slimy idiots” significant messages.

  67. DrFlimmer

    @ Michael L

    Well, but if you don’t want to vote but have to, then just void your vote (hopefully it’s the right expression *rolleyes* ). The result is the same and you have done your duty.

    In Germany the latest votes had a rather low participation. Right after the vote there were some who said “hm, strangly low participation”, wondered a little bit and that was it! They see that no one wants to vote but they neither want to hear the reasons nor do they do anything against it….

    Btw: VOTE! (I’d like to do it, too, but I can’t….)

  68. I wish we had early voting here in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, but we only have absentee allowed (and you have to have a good reason). I’d LOVE to not stand in line on Tuesday, but if the alternative is to have my vote shredded or spindled or mutilated or otherwise disrespected by those who feel that suppressing the vote is the only way to win (hear me GOP?), then I”ll gladly stand in line. It is, as Phil pointed out correctly, one’s duty in a democracy.

    Justin, I’ll echo what others said: get over yourself. Phil meant what he said and said what he meant. It’s up to you to find the meaning without being a prig about it.

  69. I’m just wondering, though, doesn’t fining people for not showing up at the polling booth go against personal freedoms? I do believe people should vote, BTW. I’m just trying to think of how forcing people to get out the the polls is democracy in action?

    @Justin:
    There are over 60 responses on this posting. I think you’re the only one that didn’t get what Phil was saying…

  70. BMcP

    @Donnie B Sure, as far as I can tell, everyone here is pretty well informed.

  71. he Chemist Says: “@Jack Hagerty,
    I think you should look up the word “cliche” before using it. Though if you really don’t like the terminology, then it might be a good idea to avoid actually using it in your complaint.”

    You’re assuming that I was complaining. I was actually observing.

    - Jack

  72. Paul M

    Michael L

    I am one of those upside down people from oz, and as long as I can remember it has been compulsory to vote here – as long as I’ve had to anyway. I should probably learn a bit more history and find out how long it has been like that.

    I have on occasion, when I didn’t care for any of my options, just left my ballot blank. I like to think of it as exercising my democratic right to have my name ticked off the roll. That said if you don’t vote for anyone you forfeit any right to complaining about who gets elected. This is just as true in a system where it isn’t compulsory to vote.

  73. Quiet Desperation

    I walked out of there feeling happy. Uplifted. Empowered.

    You sure you went to a polling place and not an opium den?

    Is this the point where we all hold hands and sing?

    Did you remember to get your free Obama votive candle?

    http://lastrow.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/obamavotive.jpg

  74. Fizzle

    I haven’t voted nor do I plan to, however being 16 I have an excuse.

  75. stopgap

    You are not missing out on anything important. Voting is overrated.

  76. Justin Olson

    ccpetersen:

    Justin, I’ll echo what others said: get over yourself. Phil meant what he said and said what he meant. It’s up to you to find the meaning without being a prig about it.

    Why are you dredging this forth again? It caused a minor digression, but that’s over now.

    Look, I just obviously needed it spelled out for me:

    Not being partisan-minded, I asked Phil to clarify the meaning of his words for me. He very kindly did. I now completely understand what he meant and consider the matter closed. I didn’t understand that he was making a political dig at the Bush administration (which is fine by me), I mistakenly thought he was making some kind of bizarre statement about citizens being bound by the Constitution to vote. Consider it political naivete or poor reading comprehension, not priggishness or self-righteousness.

    Reading it now, I see the meaning clearly. Hindsight being 20/20 an all. What he really meant was not Vote but Vote Obama… without actually saying it. To be honest, I think that would have been preferable.

    But it’s his blog. I’m just glad he took the time out to explain it to me. Satisfied?

  77. Joel

    This isn’t direct at you so much Phil, as this silly idea that “it’s your duty to vote!” No, it’s your civic duty to educate yourself on local, state and federal canidates, and the issues, and vote if you feel confident you’re able to make a reasonable decision. So please, people young and old who are unwilling to take the reasonable measures to educate themselves- DON’T VOTE!!!

    Don’t spread this “rock the vote” message people. How ’bout “rock the brain, and don’t vote until you do!” Ignorance is what keeps us with only one party more than dictatorship.

  78. Mad Hussein LOLScientist, FCD

    No early voting in PA, and it’s supposed to be sunny on Tuesday. That does it. I’m taking my lunch and a lawn chair. Getting my snacks and potent potables tomorrow for the late-night returns – my building’s community room usually closes at 11 pm, but they’re leaving it open all night Tuesday night. I sincerely hope it’s gonna be a Democratic party.

  79. “That said if you don’t vote for anyone you forfeit any right to complaining about who gets elected. This is just as true in a system where it isn’t compulsory to vote.”

    That’s a bunch of crap. You would only lose the moral authority (not right) to complain that your guy didn’t win. Since I don’t want any of them to win, my complaint is equally valid no matter the outcome, voting or not.

  80. Paul M

    I guess you are right Adam – you retain the right in a free country to do all sorts of stupid things – bad choice of word maybe. But if you complain to me and haven’t voted you wont get any sympathy. If there is nobody on the ballot who you think is worthy of your vote then don’t cast it – but don’t come whinging to me. If you really feel that strongly then perhaps you should consider running for office.

  81. kuhnigget

    “Until then, exercise your obligation, your duty, as a citizen of a country that remains bound by the Constitution.”

    Sorry to dredge up the dreck again, but… Dr. BA’s sentence very clearly suggests the country is bound by the Constitution. Had he replaced “that” with “who” he would have been suggesting the citizen was bound by the Constitution.

    Still an awkward sentence, but then perhaps he ate too much of the Halloween candy and was a little wiggy at the time.

  82. On our, Australia’s, compulsory voting. Sure many people b*tch and moan about it but when push comes to shove we get better than 95% valid votes. At least you can say you participated and most of the time you know when a government gets a mandate. It also gets the majority, who would otherwise be too apathetic, off their collective bums to do something that counts.

    Our system is also preferential. You number the candidates in your preferred order. No first past the post for us so votes for the minor parties actually count depending on where their preferences lie.

  83. Andy James

    I voted on Tuesday for the only reasonable candidate, Barack Obama. I hope other reasonable people will join me in this.

  84. Last time I voted (in Norway) the candidates were all so horrible, I ended up voting for the communist party. Yeah. And I’m not even slightly ashamed. With the rightwingnuts being the only viable alternative, and already 99 % stronger than the communists (who seem to consist of bitter old men still stuck in the 1970′s), I simply felt that things should be evened out a little bit.

  85. Ben

    > Until then, exercise your obligation, your duty, as a citizen of a country that remains bound by the Constitution.

    What? I don’t think you’ve been paying attention, BA. The only parts of the bill of rights that remain in effect as even *remotely* intended are amendments three [quartering soldiers] and and seven [civil trials.] The enumerated powers congress was empowered with have been overwhelmed with usurped, coercive powers. Article III has been turned into a de-facto power to amend. The commerce clause has been turned right on its head, now used as an excuse for the government to regulate anything it likes within the states because it “could” be something that “could” be done across a state line.

    Quite aside from the constitution’s sorry state of being relegated to “just a piece of paper”, if you’re under the impression that the democrats will do anything different than the republicans, you get back to me when Obama and crew:

    1) Ends the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and *doesn’t* start one somewhere else

    2) Eliminates the deficit (or at least consistently drives it down)

    3) Stops earmarks and other pond scum backslappery

    4) Restores constitutional liberties to the citizens

    5) Ends the war on personal liberties (drugs, sexuality, broadcast speech)

    6) Ends our role as unpaid “policeman” of the world, not to mention re-builder of countries

    7) Ends theft of land (“eminent domain”) for other than government infrastructure

    8) Treats the health of the citizens with equal importance to education (which isn’t saying much)

    9) prevents the congress from making unconstitutional laws (good luck with that)

    10) unhooks us from the 100% broken fiat money system

    …Obama, McCain, Bush, Gore… they’re not running the show. That idea is a scam to keep you in the mindset that you have some control. You don’t. Nothing important will change. You watch. Check back here in four years. And eight. And 12, etc. Welcome to the machine.

  86. KillerChihuahua

    LawMom: wow, we have a very few early polling places, certainly nothing like what you describe.

    IVAN3MAN: It depends on which state you live in.

    I stood in line for 2 1/2 hours here in east central FL and voted yesterday. I canceled out the vote of the woman in front of me.

  87. Gary Ansorge

    Derek Colanduno:
    I’m in Bartow county(Cartersville) and voting at the civic center last Tuesday took less than 20 minutes however, I understand that’s because we had over 20 voting machines set up. In other counties(Cobb) there were only six such machines and voters were still in line at 1 am,,,wonder if that was because they have a higher percentage of people of color,,,

    ,,,NAh! That’s just paranoia. Right???

    Over 20 % of eligible voters in Georgia have already voted and the polls indicate we’re “too close to call”,,,for the first time in decades, Georgia may go Democrat. What a hoot!

    Gary 7

  88. Gary Ansorge

    PS: The Burka was to hide and protect women from the Turkish soldiers that held Arabia in thrall for three centuries. You know how lonely soldiers of a despotic nation behave,,,

    The Vail is actually a cultural custom of respect for the wives of Mohammed, an honorarium, if you will, similar to the custom in the English speaking countries of wearing a tie, in Honor of King Henry the VIII,,,

    I hate ties,,,

    GAry 7

  89. Peter B

    As Shane mentioned, voting is compulsory in Australia, at least for federal and state/territory elections.

    I frankly don’t see what the fuss is. It’s not as though it’s a terribly onerous task – polling places are generally in suburban government schools, and I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes to vote. And to make it more fun, the local primary school where my wife and I voted (in the territory election this year and the federal election last year) held their annual fete on polling day, guaranteeing a good supply of people to spend money at the fete.

    Of course, the other sensible thing we do with elections is hold them on a Saturday. I can understand the logic of allowing pre-poll voting to lessen the strain on election day Tuesday. But wouldn’t it be simpler to just hold the election on a Saturday?

  90. Craig

    I keep hearing things on the news about how y’all are (understandably) expecting a record turnout, and because of this there are going to be massive delays at voting booths etc.

    Seriously guys: it’s not that bloody hard. Thanks to Australia’s notorious compulsory voting attendance [1], we get close to 100% turnout at every election. Never in my life have I had to wait for more than 20 minutes to vote, despite living in densely-populated areas and usually making no effort to avoid busy times. Typically, I’m in and out within a couple of minutes of arriving at the poll (although for the last couple of elections I’ve then spent a few hours standing at the gate annoying people on behalf of the Australian Greens).

    One thing you might want to hope that the next administration does is to fix your electoral system. It’s trivially easy to do, from a purely practical viewpoint; the only reason why anybody in the US has to queue for hours at a polling booth is because your governments have chosen to keep it that way.

    [1] No, it’s not a compulsory vote; you just have to show up and get your name ticked off, or be faced with the trivial penalty of a $50 fine that is ridiculously easy to talk your way out of. There’s nothing stopping you from submitting a blank ballot if you have a philosophical objection to voting.

  91. stopgap

    What happens if you don’t vote peter?

  92. I may be coming late to the party, but some thoughts:
    1.As a political conservative I believe that government should be less intrusive.
    2.I believe lower taxes will spur the economy.
    3.I have a strict constructionist view of the Constitution, not an instrumental view. If it’s not there, it’s not there.
    4.I believe that judges should not legislate from the bench.
    5.I believe the best defense is a strong defense or as Tony Stark said, “I believe the best weapon is one you only have to use once.” Fighting terrorism over there is much better than fighting it over here.
    6.I believe the Patriot Act is wrong because it does conflict with the basic ideals laid out in the Bill of Rights. A free society is prey to terrorism, both foreign and domestic (see above), but what if it was your spouse on United 93? Can you see their point?
    7.I believe that parents should teach character, and sex education, not schools; especially not if the students in question are in kindergarten.
    8.I accept, not believe in, evolution; belief requires faith, acceptance is based on evidence.
    9.I believe in God.
    10.I agree that voting is an obligation, required not by law but as a categorical imperative, in order to maintain a government by the people and for the people (kudos Phil, sorry Justin).
    I recognize our countries imperfections, as our founders accepted, we are a constitutional federal republic and so are much more disorganized say than Nazi Germany. Freedom is messy. Capitalism is often cruel. Representational government is ponderous. Gridlock is good; it prevents oscillations based on emotion rather than logic, mostly. Americans rarely agree; it’s in our nature. We bicker, argue, fret, and engage in endless self-flagellation regarding our numerous mistakes. The Constitution has not been shredded, wrinkled a bit to be sure, but it’s in good shape for the shape it’s in.
    We need to look beyond single issues, science or whatever, and wonder how the changes of today will be felt by our children and their children. We need to restructure entitlements; in fact, we need to drop the term entitlement from the budget. We need to stop viewing the government as the dispenser of, or distributor, of wealth. Senator Obama wants to “share the wealth.” We have wealth sharing; it’s called a free market. In this country if you work hard, sacrifice, and stay on track you will succeed. Maybe we need to remember the words of President Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
    I am a middle school teacher. I have dedicated the last seven years, I’m 44, to helping our children on the pathway of discovery. What do YOU do to make our country, our society, our future better? In his forward for Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan shared a quote (that I’m paraphrasing): It is far easier to curse the darkness than to light a candle. How many candles have you lit today? We may disagree about many things, but I’m sure we agree about many more. Let’s build on what we share; instead of being divided by what we don’t.

  93. Joel

    If you can’t name the vice president, and at least a few supreme court justices, do us a favor and don’t vote. If you have no idea what McCain and Obama believe, don’t vote.

  94. Stopgap said “What happens if you don’t vote peter?”

    Just Peter or all derivations? Pedro, Pietor, Pietro….

    Only kidding.
    It is a $20 fine. If you have an excuse, and there are lots that can be used, you have no worries. You will get a “please explain” letter in the mail to show cause. Easy. I did a pre-poll vote recently where you also had to give reason for pre-voting. My excuse, I would be working on the day or travelling or something. Simple.

  95. inertially guided

    I sent in my absentee vote over two months ago, and am now a spectator from afar, watching what may be the most important election I’ll see during my life. It’s thrilling to watch that amazing machine called Democracy at work, and to be a part of it, and to serve the citizens that it represents by wearing the uniform that I voluntarilly donned nearly thirty years ago.

    Tom Epps
    OS1(SW) USN
    USNS Arctic
    Persian Gulf

  96. inertially guided

    Oh, and one more thought. Is our system perfect? No, show me one country on this planet that is.

    TLE

  97. Craig

    To clarify the $50/$20 thing re: Australian non-voting fines…if you don’t vote, you get sent a letter telling you that if you pay $20, the whole thing goes away right then. It also says that you can provide a “reasonable excuse” and get the $20 waived, but if your “reasonable excuse” isn’t good enough (or if you just ignore the whole thing) then you might eventually be fined $50 (and potentially court costs if you’re daft enough to drag it out that far).

    Incidentally, despite being a committed fan of compulsory ballot attendance, I love that the Australian Electoral Commission presents arguments both for and against compulsory voting on their website.

  98. Was that for me Joel? I suppose that would be a non-sequitur (a logical fallacy).
    I can name much more than that, if you like. I think your comment pretty much proves my point. I have spent a tremendous amount of time studying the statements, both written and spoken, of both candidates and I must say that my already cast vote, sorry, was a choice of the lesser of two, well, lessers (not a word, but should be). Neither candidate really gets me fired-up so it came down to a choice based on basic ideology and experience in those issues I think are critical to our future.
    Senator McCain has made some bone-head statements, as Phil has correctly pointed out, regarding science (I need a new overhead projector for my classroom), that’s why I have been a faithful reader for quite some time. There are, however, other issues that I think are vitally important to the future of our country that Senator Obama and I are diametrically opposed on. Senator McCain and I are at least on the same side of the sphere.
    Economic redistribution through taxation doesn’t work. The nature of science requires, if the premise can’t be demonstrated through experimentation, that it be demonstrated through observation (Phil’s piece on Black Holes is a prime example [I feel funny saying Phil, like we’re buds]). We have numerous examples of economic redistribution through government intervention that we may draw upon to make inferences: the former Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, China (though the times they are a-changin’), and all of Eastern Europe. Look how well they have turned out. Free markets work better than anything else, though they may seem cruel to some.
    Universal health care is a wonderful idea, like puppies, ponies, and rainbows. The problem is that it doesn’t work. It ends up slowly degrading the quality of care that we all get (I live in AZ where many Canadians [not only the players with an e] spend their winters; many of them wait to have procedures done here just for that reason, also because the system limits what can be done) and it stifles innovation. Also, the government would be in charge of administrating the program. That’s a good idea because the government does things like that very well. On the one hand we bemoan how the government does things and then we want to give them even more things to screw up.
    Joel, if your comment was intended for me, please cast aside your rhetoric of anger and engage in a meaningful discussion of issues and ideas. My views are deeply-held and have been arrived at over many years of study and thoughtful discussion. I respect anyone whose beliefs are deeply-held and not the product of a focus group or a poll (as I fear too many politicians are). I am a conservative by choice, a Republican by default. I remember what Winston Churchill said, “Any twenty-year-old that is not a liberal has no heart, while any forty-year-old who is not a conservative has no brain.” I don’t mean that as a jibe, it just makes me chuckle.

  99. You know folks, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Vote. That was the message.

    Parse the Constitution if you like, but recognize that such parsing wasn’t in Phil’s original message.

  100. David D.

    Tom Epps–

    I want to personally thank you for your service. You and the folks that serve with you make this blog possible (for example), and give us the freedom to vote on Tuesday.

    Thank you.

  101. Good point, but it’s so much fun. I think this is the most wonderful thing about blogs, people freely exchanging ideas in a world-wide forum! Thank you, Mr. Plait.
    If I have offended anyone I sincerely apologize, such was not my intention.

  102. Doug Lawslo said “Economic redistribution through taxation doesn’t work”

    Doug you then go on to cite a bunch of communist countries. Well, duh, communism has proven to be in practice to have been a failure. Are you saying that if Obama is elected the USA becomes a communist state?

    Doug then goes on to say “Universal health care is a wonderful idea, like puppies, ponies, and rainbows. The problem is that it doesn’t work.”

    As inertially guided said earlier nothing is perfect. But, universal health care does work. If you live in any of the majority of western democracies (or Cuba) you will know this. I’d suggest that any Canadians holidaying in Az every year and getting medical work done are not your typical average Canucks. If Canada is like Australia the health care system works like this:
    1. You get sick.
    2. You go to a doctor – a doctor is usually self employed and not employed by the State unless he works in a public hospital. The doc could have his/her own practice and still consult at a public hospital.
    3. The government, through Medicare, sets a schedule of fees for doctors services.
    4. Say the scheduled fee for a basic visit is $50 and the doctor charges $50 Medicare will pay for the visit.
    5. The doctor can charge, say $70. In that case Medicare picks up the $50 and you pay the difference – $20.
    6. If you are privately insured, yes we can have private insurance too, depending on the insurance you are covered for the gap – $20 then Medicare still picks up the $50 or the private insurance pays for the lot.

    Hospitals work the same way. Public hospitals will usually only charge the scheduled fees. Private hospitals will charge what they like.
    If you have no private insurance and you have a serious injury or illness you will be treated in a public hospital immediately and with world’s best service and possibly no cost to you. If you are privately insured you have more options (private hospital or private patient in a public hospital) but as far as care goes you will be no better or worse off.

    One major benefit apart from the care received is you will not be bankrupted nor have a debt for tens of thousands of dollars.

    We also get cheap drugs. It is called the pharmaceuticals benefits scheme. Basically if a drug is listed on the scheme there is a cap to how much you pay. I think there may be something like 30000 listed drugs and medicines. This means that if you have cancer and your chemo drugs would normally cost $1000 per month if it is listed, and it probably is, you might only pay say $100 per month (it’s probably cheaper than that). When we joined a FTA with the US the US tried to scuttle this scheme. *Insert really bad word here*

    So what is the problem with that? It works. It is fair. Society is better for it. Doctors and hospitals still get rich. And we get decent treatment for nix.

    By the way as far as stifling innovation, what a load of codswallop. We in Australia lead the world in many fields of medical research, care, innovation and practice.

  103. Peter B

    Doug Lawslo said: “In this country if you work hard, sacrifice, and stay on track you will succeed.”

    Not true. If you work hard, sacrifice, and stay on track, you MAY succeed.

    Unfortunately, luck comes into it too. If there are three equally qualified people for one vacancy, only one of those people can possibly succeed. The other two will lose out.

    Sorry, but you can’t let people assume that by doing the same things that self-made millionaires did, they will also become self-made millionaires.

  104. David D.

    @PeterB–

    Nobody said anything about becoming a millionaire. Hard work, sacrifice and staying on track is by far the BEST advice to follow to success, and perhaps even making a million bucks. Luck, or chance has a role to play–so what? Is the government supposed to MAKE everyone successful?

  105. Hey Shane,
    I’m afraid you have me at a bit of a disadvantage as I really have not looked into the health care system in Australia. Many of the points you made we already have in America. Anyone can go to a hospital and they can’t be refused treatment. Most pharmaceutical companies offer programs that will assist one in getting needed medication, as well as many different local, state, and federal programs that will provide, at no cost, medical coverage for those that need it. There are various programs that provide wellness visits. Large cities have publicly funded hospitals that are open to everyone.
    I suppose I should clarify my concern: a government run health care system. There is another concern that, as a resident of Arizona, is of prime concern. Our state and local institutions are overwhelmed by an increasing number of illegal immigrants that are taxing the existing system that provides health care, education, and numerous other services that my tax dollars pay for. Also, I Googled medical advances and found a timeline that listed numerous advances that occurred in America, I’ll keep looking for Australia.
    I don’t fear America becoming communist, what I am afraid of is that Senator Obama will do exactly what he said he will (granted that doesn’t happen often for politicians). I share my wealth. I contribute money and time to numerous causes that I support. I don’t want the government sharing more of my wealth with those they think it should be shared with.
    Hey Peter,
    I would love to be a millionaire, but as a teacher that isn’t likely. However, I do consider myself a success. America is desperate for teachers. Heck, many school districts are offering to pay tuition for those willing to agree to teach in their district for a given number of years. In America, though, that’s the dream: being a millionaire. It says something profound about our country where so many people believe they can be millionaires, and they can, if they work hard enough (and get a few lucky breaks). The reality is that most won’t, but we can’t call them failures. If they pay their bills, raise their families, and contribute to society in a meaningful way; I call that being a success.

  106. David D.

    @shane–

    Es la ley–you cannot be turned away for treatment at any hospital based on your ability to pay or not. The hospital (and the doctor) just have to eat the bill. And most hospitals have an “unreferred” call schedule, where the doctors have to take care of uninsured pts that are admitted. This is usually a mandatory requirement.

    It sounds as though you have an apparently workable national health-care system down there. We could certainly use your ideas.

    How much of a malpractice problem do you have in Oz?

    And am I wrong in thinking that Oz has a fairly large medical woo contingent? Does your plan cover homeopathy, crystals, etc.?

  107. John

    Sarah Palin

    Putting the ‘Alas’ in Alaska

  108. David D,

    Most hospitals have an unreferred call schedule eh? Nice of them. So some don’t? Nasty.

    The system works, not always as efficiently as it should. Too many beds in one hospital, not enough in another for example. Administration like all government stuff can be a nightmare.

    Malpractice? I have no idea. I’d expect there would be some. I do know that for some services or procedures the cost of insurance to doctors can be exorbitant.

    Pretty sure Medicare doesn’t cover woo. Private health insurance definitely does if you pay for that kind of coverage. Pathetic really. The insurance companies are pandering to the woo crowd to attract customers.

  109. Mrs. BA

    @DougLawslo -

    You make some very good points Doug, but some of what you say smacks of ideological rhetoric rather than conclusions based on evidence. For example – “if you work hard and stay on track you’ll succeed” What’s your definition of success? Does it include being able to pay for your child’s college tuition? If so, then your system doesn’t work. There’s not room for everyone to be a corporate executive, so someone has to work in retail stores, be firefighters, teachers, nurses, etc. These people earn only a small fraction of what a business exec does, but they still have to pay the same tuition for their children, they still buy a house in the same market as the exec, they still pay as much for groceries. These people have worked hard at important jobs that keep our economy going, yet they have to go into tremendous debt to pay for life-saving medical care and send their kids to college. Does that seem like a system that works? I’m not anti-capitalism at all, but when so much of the wealth is in the hands of so few, quality of life and democracy itself eventually decay.

    As for lower taxes – Trickle-down economics didn’t work for 8 years under Ronald Reagan and it hasn’t worked under George W. How much evidence do you need that it just doesn’t work? Remember the definition of insanity? It’s continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results. The same applies in the war on terror. Absolutely it’s better to fight there than at home, but if the way you’re fighting is treating only the symptoms of the problem and not the cause, you are never going to win the war. After 6 years of military efforts that have burdened our country with outrageous doubt, cost thousands of lives, and not had a significant positive impact on the spread of global terrorism, can’t you admit that perhaps it’s time to at least try diplomacy?

    Also – Obama never wanted to teach sex ed to kindergartners. He supported a program to teach kindergartners about sexual predators. You shouldn’t blindly believe the spin doctors who conveniently left out that part of the story.

    All that being said, it took guts to admit that you voted for McCain in this forum, and it sounds like you really did think about your choices before you voted. Time will tell if you made the better choice, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t.

  110. Doug Lawslo said “Also, I Googled medical advances and found a timeline that listed numerous advances that occurred in America, I’ll keep looking for Australia.”

    Are you saying we haven’t contributed? Look up Nobel prize winners for medicine – 6 btw. Look up cochlear implants. Look up tissue cultures and skin transplants for burns. Look up antibiotic treatments. Look up Penicillin for gosh sakes. Look up the 4th IVF baby in the world – the US was 15th.

  111. David D.

    @shane–

    I guess I should have said ALL hospitals that accept Medicaid/Medicaid dollars. Private hospitals, like a private drug rehab facility for example, etc. don’t have such an arrangement.

  112. David D,

    I guess that makes sense. I’m going to day surgery in a few weeks in a private hospital. The procedure is covered by medicare but the hospital stay is not. Therefore, I’ll use my private health insurance to pay the lot.

  113. David D.

    @Mrs. BA–
    “What’s your definition of success? Does it include being able to pay for your child’s college tuition? If so, then your system doesn’t work.”

    I don’t know many people who would define being able to pay for their kid’s college tuition to be a definition of success. A lot of kids go to college on student loans, and many colleges offer grants based on need. Perhaps Obama will make it possible for everyone to attend Harvard. I think Doug’s definition of success is a pretty good one.

    There are a lot of colleges out there that do not cost an arm and a leg. Not everyone pays the “same tuition” as you say. Nor does everyone shop in the same housing market.

    I think other posts and commenters have made it clear that when tax rates are cut, tax revenues actually increase. And some of your comments also smack of ideological rhetoric. FOr example, the Iraqi war was NOT ALL about the spread of global terrorism. And, now, the surge has worked, and I would guess most Iraqis feel a lot better about their country than, say, some of the folks on the south side of Chicago. And did I miss someone saying something about teaching sex ed to kindergartners in this post? Yeah–that got spun way out of reality; so did a lot of other comments on both sides.

    A lot of people who did or will vote for McCain do think long and hard about their choices. A difference of opinion does not mean a difference in compassion or intelligence.

  114. David D said “I think other posts and commenters have made it clear that when tax rates are cut, tax revenues actually increase.”

    On the face of it this looks like doublespeak.

  115. FOr example, the Iraqi war was NOT ALL about the spread of global terrorism. And, now, the surge has worked, and I would guess most Iraqis feel a lot better about their country than, say, some of the folks on the south side of Chicago

    It wasn’t? The surge has worked? I suppose not as many Americans are dying every day. The war didn’t need to happen. Someone got a splinter in a finger, the doctor cut the persons arm off and says, “I fixed that splinter for ya”. That is Iraq.

  116. David D.

    @shane–

    No, not really. When tax rates are cut, this often stimulates business activity. An increase in business volume will lead to a an increase in revenues despite the lowered tax rate.

  117. David D.

    @shane–
    Not as many Iraqis OR Americans are dying. There is even serious talk of Iraqis taking over the security of their country, and American troops coming home. So–yeah, the surge worked.

    Wasn’t that long ago that a lot of people were talking of our “failure” in Iraq, and the predictions were that the war was going to be THE issue of this campaign.

  118. 3

    Trickle-down economics didn’t work for 8 years under Ronald Reagan

    FAIL.

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=1120&full=1

    and it hasn’t worked under George W.

    Reagan and the current Bush are not even in the same ideological planetary system.

    Remember the definition of insanity? It’s continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.

    So you admit that those on the Left who want to keep throwing monst at problems are insane? Good!

    But keep accusing *others* of being ideological. Your hypocrisy is epic.

  119. Quiet Desperation

    THIS IS A MINITRUTH ALERT, DISPERSAL VIA RECDEP:

    Blogcrime detected. Felontext as follows:

    David: A difference of opinion does not mean a difference in compassion or intelligence.

    Gasp! You blaspheme! Crimethink!

    A vote for McCain is doubleplus ungood. Eurasia, oops, I mean Obama is our buddypal who will create the Miniplenty to provide us all with bellyfeel! Obama determines the complete blackwhite and you shall not question! YOU SHALL NOT QUESTION!

    Every vote against Obama kills a puppy!!!!!!!! We will be watching for facecrime at the polls! You have been warned!

    PS: !!!!!!!!!

  120. David D.

    Darn–I knew my Constitution was being shredded . . .
    ;)

  121. Quiet Desperation

    shane: On the face of it this looks like doublespeak.

    I am so sick of this bit of ignorance. Cutting taxes can increase revenues, Shane. It’s been shown over and over and over and over again. The cuts stimulate the economy if it’s the right cuts. As the saying goes, the taxes are a smaller piece of a larger pie.

    The idea is idealized and quantified by the Laffer Curve.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

    This is a generally accepted concept, and the only real controversy is what happens in the pathological states (the extremes of 0% and 100% taxation) and which side of the curve we might be on at any given moment.

    This is Econ 101. Everyone and his grandmother who pays attention to the world knows this. To even argue this point is the mark of a mind ossified by ideology.

  122. Gary Ansorge

    David d:
    Extremes of any social/economic system have their inconsistencies/faults. In the 19th century, we had extreme lassaiz faire capitalism and the extreme separation of wealth of the Robber Barons. Only when we formed worker unions did that begin to evolve into something a little bit more fair. It’s been said “Them what has the gold, rule,,,” and “,,,the poor we shall always have with us,,,”. Both statements are true,,,in a top down hierarchal social structure, which is what we have on earth today. One should note however, that this type of social structure became the norm only after we had developed cultivation of food(about the last 10,000 years). It was a natural development when we had to protect the wealth (grain) from encroaching hunter/gatherers, ie, planners to allocate the food(kings), military to protect it, astrologers/astronomers (priest caste) to determine when to plant, and of course, peons to do the work of planting and harvesting. Thus control of the wealth went to the top, while the poor were those left with doing the grunt work.

    For about a million years before that, we had a communalist (not communist) social structure, in which everyone in the tribe worked as they were able and what was good for the individual(gathering food/hunting/fishing, etc) was in the best interests of the tribe(extended family). In this structure, everyone is involved in gathering the necessities of life but all get to share equally in the bounty. Tribal elders were those who had lived long enough to actually know something that contributed to the tribes survival. Studies of the tribes of New Guinea and the Kalahari showed that the average time a tribesman spent providing for the necessities of life was about 12 hours a week. In such a system, there are no rich and no poor. Some are able to work smarter/harder, but all reap the benefits. The only reward for the smarter/harder was the chance to have more access to women,,,and offspring. Everyone loves a winner and wants more just like that one,,,

    Communism was anything but fair. It still had its wealthy, powerful individuals at the top of the pyramid, its poor workers and everything in between (with the exception of the priest caste).
    That was inefficient, since the poor could obviously see, no matter what they did they weren’t going to be any better off than they started so why even try?

    See: that’s what happens when we go to extremes.

    The only way cutting taxes can increase tax receipts is IF the economy grows enough to compensate for the lost tax revenue. That is NOT a given. If we’re all competing for a part of a single pie(resources) some will be losers, some winners. The only way the economy can grow indefinitely (without going to war and eliminating the competition) is to increase the size of the pie.

    Ya see where I’m going with this?

    Space: the final frontier, for capitalists and communalist alike.

    GAry 7

  123. Quiet Desperation

    If we’re all competing for a part of a single pie(resources) some will be losers, some winners.

    What people miss, though, is not that wealth can’t be inifinite, but that total wealth is not a constant. Warren Buffet making another dollar does not stop me from making one. No one claims it can go to infinity, but it doesn’t have to.

    When someone is worthm say, $100 million, that money is not sitting in some Scrooge McDuck vault somewhere inaccessible by other people. It’s out there buying goods and paying salaries, in constant circulation, and that’s where the pie analogy, as useful as it is for an overview, breaks down.

    The point of the matter is this: as long as the bulk of the voter base has a childlike view of economics, where there is some mythical, unvarying amount of wealth that has to be fought over, we’re doomed to a never ending parade of ideological extremists in office. And remember, we’re talking wealth and not resources.

  124. “In the 19th century, we had extreme lassaiz faire capitalism and the extreme separation of wealth of the Robber Barons. Only when we formed worker unions did that begin to evolve into something a little bit more fair.”

    That’s a myth, one that has been spread by modern day government schools. There were indeed some very wealthy people, and they (for the most part) got wealthy by finding ways to improve the living standards of everyone. There wasn’t much “robbing” in their “barons” because they got rich by lowering prices and increasing quality (sometimes by orders of magnitude). If you call that “robbing,” then so be it. I personally don’t care if someone gets rich by making our lives,,;,l better.

    There were some genuine robber barons, though, and they existed because of government intervention. Look into the Interstate Commerce Commission, for a good example.

    And what helped the working class wasn’t unions, but technology and innovation that increased competition for their labour. If technology and innovation hadn’t advanced things, we’d still be seeing bloody union busting going on because of too many workers chasing too few jobs.

    “If we’re all competing for a part of a single pie(resources) some will be losers, some winners. The only way the economy can grow indefinitely (without going to war and eliminating the competition) is to increase the size of the pie.”

    But the pie isn’t fixed in any way. Human ingenuity is literally unlimited, the pie will always grow when people are given the freedom to expand it. It’s the reason that natural resources continue to drop in price (adjusted for inflation) despite higher and higher demands for them. If the pie was truly fixed and a zero sum game, you’d have seen prices for them all skyrocket.

    “Studies of the tribes of New Guinea and the Kalahari showed that the average time a tribesman spent providing for the necessities of life was about 12 hours a week.”

    You could, too, if you were willing to live in a hut and eat low quality foods with little variety. It’s not the social structure that provides this, but a very low standard of living. It all depends on how you define “necessity of life,” I suppose.

  125. kuhnigget

    @ Adam:

    “There were some genuine robber barons, though, and they existed because of government intervention. “

    Rockefeller’s Standard Oil trust existed because of government intervention? Really? Hm.

  126. David D.

    @Gary Ansorge–

    Space: the final frontier, for capitalists and communalist alike.</

    Probably not for the communalist, for it does not seem to be a society open to growth and new ideas. If we as the human race had remained communalist, perhaps we would all still be living in rude little villages, waiting to die as a tribal "elder" at age 35 (if the community hadn't decided to bump us off first).

    The "state of nature" may not have been uniformly nasty, brutish and short, but it certainly didn't look like the communal paradise that you painted.

  127. “Rockefeller’s Standard Oil trust existed because of government intervention? Really? Hm.”

    Rockefeller wasn’t a robber baron. His company at one time owned the majority of oil production in the US, but by the time of the anti-trust trial, Standard Oil had already lost most of its market share due to competition.

    Besides, who did he rob from? Certainly not consumers, his company lowered the price of oil (kerosene in particular) signifcantly for everyone. I guess you could say he “robbed” from his competition by improving quality and lowering prices. But that’s the whole point of competition.

    The real robber barons are the ones who got the government involved to kill their competition through legal means, such as the ICC outlawing cheap rail transport (and now cheap trucking transport), something we’re still paying for today.

  128. David

    My wife & I voted a couple weeks ago: Mail-in absentee ballot. We did our part to try to turn Ohio blue this year.

  129. Chip

    # Quiet Desperation Says:
    “Is this the point where we all hold hands and sing? Did you remember to get your free Obama votive candle?”
    ===
    Mexican prayer candles not withstanding; the depiction of Obama supporters as if they were deifying Obama is just another (recently abandoned) fundy-inspired Republican ploy. It actually pretty much stopped soon after a demonstration outside the Democratic convention in Denver when young Republicans in togas danced in a circle around Obama’s picture, as if mocking the delegates there. The little protest however was abandoned when all it drew were a few chuckles and shrugs from people going in and out.
    Having worked at Obama headquarters here, traveling around and meeting numerous supporters, the enthusiasm I’ve seen first hand ranges from mild to wild but no one thinks Obama is perfect or can solve all the numerous problems Bush and his friends have perpetrated. Obama is simply the best choice at this time. Supporters and even some Republicans know that, but McCain/Palen shills and their followers, flailing and late as usual, are just trying to fool people.

  130. I have to agree with Chip, even as some who voted early for Obama I have issues with some of his policies, which I am willing to state at the drop of a hat: His willingness to escalate in Afghanistan, his policies on Israel will maintain the status quo, and his economic plan may not fully address the mess he is going to meet as soon as he sets foot in the White House.

    I was enthusiastic in voting for him yes, especially since it has signified the end of Bush 43, and I do not feel he is the lesser of two evils. However neither of those two things is deification, and my own personal political philosophy is to offer as much criticism of the person occupying the White House as possible. C’mon, give us Obama voters all just a smidgen more credit.

  131. Typo: It should be: “Even as someone…”

  132. David D.

    @The Chemist–

    So you are okay with Obama voting for FISA and being against gay marriage?

  133. I’m very interested to see what happens with an Obama presidency. The current congress got in with a mandate to roll back the abuses of the Bush administration and have done little to nothing, even with a veto averse Bush. Will congress finally get some cojones with a Democratic president? Personally, I don’t think so, but I’m willing to be proven wrong. I usually say I don’t care who wins, but I must admit a mischevious desire to see if Obama fails to deliver on his promises like I predict he will. I’m not holding my breath, but hey, I could be wrong.

  134. Mena

    I wasn’t going to get involved with this thread because it was starting to look like Pharyngula but…
    WTHeck?
    Adam, the current congress doesn’t have a mandate. Bush is no longer veto resistant and there is no way that a veto can be overridden by a 52% democratic House and a 49% democratic Senate, especially since one of those senators is Joe Lieberman. I don’t know why everyone keeps saying that, it’s almost as if no high schools except for mine taught that they need a 2/3 majority to override a veto. I have even heard John McCain saying this, and if he hasn’t figured out how the Senate works in his 26 years there he really shouldn’t be reelected to that job.

  135. kuhnigget

    @ adam:

    Besides, who did he (Rockefeller) rob from?

    C’mon, Adam, not to keep whacking this horse, but please tell me you don’t think John D. Rockefeller put together his oil trust by politely asking competitors to step aside? Undercutting prices, monopolizing the manufacture of barrels, cutting deals with the railroads so they wouldn’t ship oil from other manufacturers, sending his thugs to attack stubborn holdouts…the man’s actions practically defined robber baron.

    Face it, there are very good reasons why governments “interfere” with business. Without regulation, greed runs rampant and society at large takes the hit.

  136. Mena,

    That’s all true, but they haven’t even tried anything. There’s a reason they’ve got the lowest congressional approval ratings of all time. They’ve been impotent and inert, and that can’t be blamed solely on a potential veto.

  137. @David,

    No I’m not in favor of FISA, and yet I am in favor of FISA, and I sense that Obama is very much in the same boat. The problem with FISA and the Act passed in 2007 is that it is the culmination of three competing acts passed separately in the Senate. To be frank, I never cared much about telecom immunity. If we’re not going to impeach Bush, it doesn’t matter, that’s where the buck stopped anyway and that’s who I hold responsible. After all, in theory Bush could have simply overturned any convictions and it would have been perfectly legal.

    Meanwhile, FISA is a mechanism for obtaining warrants under seal, and I would much rather have appealable warrants in secret with at least some accountability than extralegal measures taken without warrant. FISA has been around since before Bush, and Bush didn’t abuse FISA more than he circumvented it and ignored it all together. In other words while I dislike FISA immensely, it’s not anywhere on the level of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    As for gay marriage, what are you on about? Obama supports the overturn of DOMA. Meanwhile, yes he supports “civil unions”, but that’s functionally the same damn thing as marriage. Marriage is not something the state should define anyway, the fact is that “marriage” in a legal sense is a private contract adjudicated upon by the state when and where necessary. Beyond that I don’t care what in blue blazes you call it. A rose by any other word would still smell as sweet.

  138. “please tell me you don’t think John D. Rockefeller put together his oil trust by politely asking competitors to step aside?”

    Why is that the only other possibility besides being an evil robber baron? He was undoubtedly a tenacious competitor, but that’s a GOOD thing. Dropping the price of kerosene from $2.00 per gallon to $0.06 per gallon was good for the world, not bad.

    I will agree that sending in thugs to use violence is a robber baron type thing. But in the Standard Oil case it’s mostly just rumour created by unhappy competitors in order to gain sympathy. But even if it did happen to some degree, even the biggest detractors don’t claim this was a major factor in the growth of Standard Oil.

    Everything else you mention is only bad when said with scary music behind it. Predatory pricing is a myth (it never happened because it wouldn’t work) and working out exclusive deals with suppliers is a well worn competitive tactic, one that hurts competitors but lowers costs and helps consumers. There was no “hit” taken by society because of Standard Oil, in fact we’re all better off because of the great gains in efficiency that their competition created.

    Here’s some articles on the topic that get past the mythical propaganda you find in a most textbooks.

    http://www.campusreportonline.net/main/articles.php?id=154
    http://www.fff.org/freedom/0592c.asp
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-169.html
    http://books.google.com/books?id=CQFixQA6p9UC&pg=PA215&lpg=PA215&dq=standard+oil+monopoly+myth&source=web&ots=Nf9FFL5LAS&sig=dK-Qs4o0Txzu4_2BFwENE8_F9S4

  139. Quiet Desperation

    @Chip

    Calm down, sport. I’m voting Obama, but under protest. I’m on record on this blog saying a literally *hate* McCain for running at his age, and that I don’t want Palin to see the inside of the White House even as a tourist. I’m also voting NO on Prop 8 here in California.

    But the level of adulation I see for the O-Man, a politician, is *very* off putting to an independent person like myself. I keep hoping civilization will evolve beyond such things, but I have come to accept it won’t happen in my lifetime.

    Doesn’t mean I can’t poke fun.

    What we really need now is a Middle Party that rejects ideology and tries to use the best tools of the Left and the Right and the Center to develop rational solutions for things. I’d start it if I could figure out how. This internet things has to be good for something.

  140. @QD: The idea that reducing tax rates can ultimately increase tax revenues as a secondary effect is more reasonable than it sounds at first, but moving from that to “tax cuts increase tax revenues” (the original disputed claim) is an unjustifiable leap in logic.

    Meanwhile, wealth held as investments in the microeconomic sense is actually /savings/ in macroeconomic terms, and is as such the very source of economic stagnation. It’s /not/ being spent or invested, again in the macroeconomic sense of the word, and so it’s not helping the economy to grow.

    So, yes, pie is a bad model. Clearly, the economy is not a pie. It can grow, and the rate at which it grows depends the evenness of the pie’s slices. Therefore, since I am poor (and thus save nearly nothing) and Bill Gates (nothing against Billy Boy, he’s just the Standard Issue Example) is rich (and thus saves nearly everything,) every dollar Bill Gates adds to his net-worth is not only another dollar I do not have, it’s an additional brake on the growth of the not-pie. (Conversely, every dollar that I have that Bill Gates does not adds to the growth speed of the not-pie.)

  141. JediBear,

    You seem to be coming at this from the now discredited Keynesian model of consumption and savings. The fact is that savings drive the economy as much as consumption, if not more. The money BG has saved and invested is not stagnating the economy, but is driving it by allowing for the capital investment needed in order to create supply.

    You’re both adding to the growth of the pie, as his money is coursing through the economy with just as much force as yours.

  142. You seem to be coming at this from the now discredited Keynesian model of consumption and savings.

    Discredited? I have to know a few competent economists and of at least one recent Nobel Prize winner who would disagree with that characterization.

  143. OMG! Note to self: Do not type after 12AM. Should be “I happen to know…”

  144. Sure, there are some who still adhere to it, but they are in the declining minority. Paul Krugman won his Nobel for work he did in the 70s relating to international trade, but for the last decade he’s been going more and more off the reservation. His op-eds are definitely Keynesian, but his past academic work decidedly less so.

  145. stopgap

    Let’s pump the fed funds rates down 100 basis points! That will fix the economy!

  146. stopgap

    On a serious note. I think this “democracy” aka “democratic republic” could be well served with an option of “none of the above” on the ballot. The problem with voting is candidates consider your vote an endorsement. The reality is that many voters just pick the lesser of two evils.

  147. Gary Ansorge

    David D:
    (Space: the final frontier, for capitalists and communalist alike.
    Probably not for the communalist, for it does not seem to be a society open to growth and new ideas. If we as the human race had remained communalist, perhaps we would all still be living in rude little villages, waiting to die as a tribal “elder” at age 35 (if the community hadn’t decided to bump us off first).
    The “state of nature” may not have been uniformly nasty, brutish and short, but it certainly didn’t look like the communal paradise that you painted.)

    1) As far as communalism being open to growth and new ideas: Who do you think came up with aspirin? You’re arguing about technology while I’m discussing social systems. Hunter gatherer tribes didn’t live in “crude huts and little villages”. Mostly they lived in tents and collapsible Yurts. They typically roved over an area about 20 mile in radius in their search and acquisition of food.
    (The Kalahari typically had about 68 different sources of food).

    2) Waiting to die as a tribal elder at age 35? Where do you get that? Comic books? Just because average life span was 35, doesn’t mean some didn’t live to 100 years. Average life span has much more to do with death from accidents, infection and infant mortality. Remember, our highly vaunted technological development has only had immunization ,beginning with Edward Jenner’s creation of the world’s first vaccine for smallpox in the 1790s and antibiotics since the 1940s. Prior to those innovations, average life span for this “civilization” was about the same as for the hunter gatherers but MAXIMUM lifespan has been pretty much the same for tens of millennia.

    As far as the “community bumping us off”, is concerned I have no idea where you got that misinformation. Tribes are EXTENDED FAMILIES. If the families you’re familiar with bump off their seniors, you come from a really weird family environment.

    The acceleration in technological development is directly proportional to the absolute number of humans on the planet. More people equals more innovation. How hard is that to understand? The earliest human settlements were, in fact, RUDE VILLAGES associated with agriculture. Agriculture was likely established for one purpose: to provide grain for the making of BEER. I expect humans knew quite well for many millennia that the seeds they were eating were the source of the plants from which they came. People just had no reason to stay in one place until the day some bright lad decided to hang around making beer, which requires staying in one place long enough for it to brew. Then of course, there were the containers for the brew, which were bulky, heavy and fragile. Don’t want to spill this precious nectar so staying in one place all year long made sense. Thus, the villages, kings, military, etc.

    All of that is beside the point. I was talking about two different views of social organization, communalist vs hierarchical. The former was “fair” to all members of the tribe. The latter is intrinsically unfair to some of the tribe, thus we have “the poor we shall always have with us” as long as we adhere to a hierarchical social structure.

    GAry 7

  148. Mena

    Adam, they also need a majority to pass something. There really isn’t a clear majority of either party at this point, in either the Senate or the House. It’s gridlocked because a vote or two for or against something by someone from either party can make a lot of difference.

  149. This is old news as far as this thread is concerned, but I have to put it out there.

    Voting IS an obligation, and such an obligation is a requisite to be a citizen. I don’t mean the legal definition, but the socio-political implications that living in a liberal-democracy (yes, America, you ARE a “liberal” democracy *GASP!*) entails.

    Citizenship is a two-way contract between the state and the civilian: the state shall not infringe one’s right to vote, and the civilian has the obligation to participate in how the state is constructed/operates.

    If you want to call yourself a citizen and not a hypocrite, you vote. Otherwise, you’re a civilian (with almost no moral rights to complain about the government…you had your chance).

  150. Sherry

    I was a very moderate Republican for 35years. Since the Christians took it over, there is no longer any place for Rational people in the GOP.

    I’m proud to have voted for Obama and Biden.
    Wish I could have voted for Hal Bidlack too.
    However, the Roaring Fork Valley is way more comfortable for Freethinkers.

  151. stopgap

    “Voting IS an obligation, and such an obligation is a requisite to be a citizen. I don’t mean the legal definition, but the socio-political implications that living in a liberal-democracy (yes, America, you ARE a “liberal” democracy *GASP!*) entails.”

    No, it’s not an obligation. I’m sorry but I don’t want every uninformed person in the U.S to vote. Sometimes it’s better if people who don’t know what they are voting for to stay home. Second, the type of government we have is a Democratic Republic or Constitutional Republic. Both of those labels are fitting. I get that you are saying it from a non legal sense, but it does no good in convincing others to vote with the unstated premise that they are inferior for not voting. That will just push more pressure on those that shouldn’t vote. Given that some are unwilling to become informed on the issues, it’s best to not glorify the process of voting or scorn those that choose not to.

    “Citizenship is a two-way contract between the state and the civilian: the state shall not infringe one’s right to vote, and the civilian has the obligation to participate in how the state is constructed/operates.

    If you want to call yourself a citizen and not a hypocrite, you vote. Otherwise, you’re a civilian (with almost no moral rights to complain about the government…you had your chance).”

    In the U.S voting is a privilege that can be taken away. Anything that is granted by government, that can taken away by government, is a privilege. A person has every moral right to complain considering the people that were elected were not endorsed by said individual. This morality is greatly enhanced if all the choices presented deviated a great deal from the principles or value judgments held by the voter.

  152. Quiet Desperation

    @Jedibear

    You’re so wrong I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve never been a very good deprogrammer.

  153. Mike C.

    I voted two weeks ago by absentee ballot. This is a normal thing for me, since I never work anywhere near where I live, so I’m ususally at the very least out-of-state, and more normally out-of-country.

    In any case, if you have at lest a hint of a clue (whatever you perceive that to be), get out and vote. If you don’t, please stay home and leave it to the adults If it takes a pack of cigarettes, a dollar or a half-pint to get you to the polls, we can do without your input. Same goes for you dead people.

  154. stopgap said “I’m sorry but I don’t want every uninformed person in the U.S to vote. “

    Too late. If this was true McCain/Palin wouldn’t be getting any votes. :-D

    I reckon, for what it’s worth, that if you got the the truly ignorant and uninformed to vote they be pretty much divided evenly down party lines anyway. You do, however, seem to have a large group of people that are informed that choose not to vote for either philosophical reasons or for just being apathetic.

    Anyway saying that some people shouldn’t vote smacks of “elitism”.

    Having said that click my name to see the “The Chasers” perspective on people who voted in the elections in Australia. Funny but definitely NSFW.

  155. Davidlpf

    2 days left, @Michael L I hope the hair grows back from your halloween costume.

  156. Peter B

    Doug Lawslo said: “I would love to be a millionaire, but as a teacher that isn’t likely. However, I do consider myself a success…In America, though, that’s the dream: being a millionaire. It says something profound about our country where so many people believe they can be millionaires, and they can, if they work hard enough (and get a few lucky breaks). The reality is that most won’t, but we can’t call them failures. If they pay their bills, raise their families, and contribute to society in a meaningful way; I call that being a success.”

    Doug, with respect, my point doesn’t rely on people becoming millionaires to be considered successes. Rather, my point is that hard work, sacrifice and staying on track aren’t a guarantee of success. Despite all that, some people still end up losing out.

    I have no problem with people going out there and giving it a go, and the government should do what it can to help them succeed. But I also think a compassionate government should be there to help those in difficult circumstances. The question seems to be how the government should raise the money necessary to do that.

    The way I see it, where people earn so little that it’s hard for them to make ends meet, it’s inequitable to make them pay tax. High income earners, by contrast, are at little financial risk if asked to pay a little extra in tax.

    Perhaps someone could post the current income tax rates for the USA.

  157. Peter B

    David D said: “I think other posts and commenters have made it clear that when tax rates are cut, tax revenues actually increase.”

    I’m assuming you don’t think that, automatically, *all* tax cuts result in increased tax revenue. Take that to its logical conclusion and we find that cutting tax rates to 0% would result in infinite tax income. Homeopathic tax! ;-)

    Seriously, my understanding is that Obama’s tax plan means that 95% of tax payers pay less tax. Given that apparently in the Bush years, middle class salaries have declined by 1% in real terms, while those of high income earners have tripled in real terms, suggests that something is a little out of whack in the US economy.

    The point is often made that cutting taxes on high income earners allows them to spend more to keep the economy growing. But wouldn’t cutting the taxes of low/middle income earners instead also achieve that result? After all, there are a lot more low and middle income earners. Additionally, these people are more likely to spend their income on ordinary day-to-day items like food, fuel, and consumer goods like televisions, white goods and cars – things which keep an economy ticking over.

  158. What happens if you don’t vote peter?

    Then Peter doesn’t win.

  159. Linda

    I voted last Tuesday and waited in line for 2 hours, 10 minutes with no complaints. The nice thing to see was hundreds of people waiting in line with NO complaining or whining and nobody left before voting. Yesterday (Sunday) I decided to swing by the library where the voting was taking place to see how long the line was at 1:30PM and it was easily 3 times as long as the line I had waited in earlier in the week. Even though the voting place was supposed to close at 4PM, they promised anyone in line at that time would be allowed to vote, so I’m guessing they were there until at least 8 PM.

    This morning I stopped at the Supervisor of Elections office to drop off my mom’s absentee ballot and was impressed to find a table set up in the lobby of the County Governmental Center. They had log books for people to sign in with the name of the absentee voter and the person dropping it off, they time-stamped the actual ballot envelope, and had me insert the ballot into a sealed container. So I’m confident they plan on actually counting the absentee ballots. Needless to say, South Florida officials are trying hard to lose the name Floriduh.

  160. Mona

    I voted the week before last from England. I’d applied for an absentee ballot to mail in, but found out that I could vote by fax in California. You just have to sign a declaration waiving your right to a completely secret ballot, since someone has to get it off the machine and put in the right place to be counted. But they didn’t fax me a sticker saying “I VOTED” so I just had to run around and tell everyone.

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