David Cameron has squandered the Conservatives’ new year lead as voters turn against his health reforms, according to a Guardian/ICM poll. The Tories are down by four percentage points in a single month, slipping from 40% to 36% since January. Labour is one point ahead, on 37%, with Ed Miliband’s party up from 35% last month. The Liberal Democrats slip back two to stand at 14%, and the combined total of the smaller parties has climbed by four points, to 13%. As the prime minister hosted a special NHS summit, which excluded the professional bodies most opposed to his health and social care bill, the public is siding with those royal medical colleges who want the legislation ditched. An outright majority of respondents, 52%, say that the bill – which would overhaul NHS management, increase competition and give family doctors more financial responsibility – should be dropped. That is against 33% who believe it is better to stick with the plans at this stage.Which is to say, push more costs onto providers and introduce some kind of a Medicare Advantage-like program to complement, shall we say, the NHS (MA “competed” with Medicare at 150% the cost or so). But once again, the lesson is reaffirmed that steps toward privatization just aren’t going to be stomached by the voters of this or really any other electorate. As usual, the worst news here is for the Liberal Democrats. But this would be a golden opportunity to tear their misbegotten alliance asunder, if they wanted to. Whatever the logic behind it at first, it’s pretty clear that the new Tories are essentially the same as the old Tories, only with dumber leadership. Even Thatcher never messed with the NHS. Clegg must have decided to go all-in with this alliance, hoping things will get better before it’s too late, but as we Democrats have learned here in the US, passively waiting for the economy to get better isn’t where you want to be in politics.
Prime Minister David Cameron put his name to a letter also signed by the leaders of Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico and South Korea. [snip] The letter, not signed by the US or any eurozone state, urges swift action to resolve the debt crisis in the single currency area and for measures from Washington to put public finances on a sustainable path.I get the Europe part, but why the concern about long-term American finances alongside the Eurozone? Ours is not an urgent problem at all, it’s medium-to-long term at best. It’s actually very annoying to hear the leader of a country that is heading for a double-dip recession much faster than we are lecturing us about economic policy, as though he has any sort of standing to tell us how to run things. The politics in this country are screwed up for sure, but not that screwed up. As they say in your country, sir, bugger off.
I’ve been thinking about this argument by Kevin Drum about the estate tax all day:
I’m not sure what to think of this. It’s possible, of course, that the public has simply been brainwashed by over a decade of focused estate tax propaganda from representatives of the rich. It’s also possible that most people have no idea that the estate tax only hits the extremely wealthy in the first place. But I don’t think that’s the whole story. Like it or not, I think that most people simply have an instinctive feeling that you should be able to bequeath your money to whoever you want. If most bequests went to, say, political parties or yacht harbor upkeep groups, things might be different. But as long as most bequests go to family members, you’re dealing with a very deep, very primitive protective instinct that most people sympathize with no matter how rich you are. After all, I feel that, and I don’t even have kids.
I’ve always supported the estate tax*, because it makes sense from the perspective of finance and as a matter of social justice. I’ve always thought the Republicans’ edge on this was due to inept Democratic framing: dropping the estate tax for means we have to hike taxes elsewhere to pick up the slack, solely to help the wealthy. Taxing the dead means less of a burden on the living. Democrats almost never put it that way, though, because many of them don’t really support the estate tax themselves. But Kevin’s post has stuck with me because I think there’s a real element of truth there. Even in Socialist Old England, eliminating the estate tax has good public support. It is likely the reason David Cameron is the Prime Minister today, instead of having to wait until sometime in 2012. Some might excuse sentiment on this issue as the public thinking they’ll get rich some day to leave behind a huge inheritance to their children, which has some logic, but I think I agree more with Drum’s analysis.
The fundamental assumption of America is that there’s a chance–not a certainty, but a chance–that hard work will be able to be channeled into success. The estate tax is paradoxically both an affirmation and a refutation of that thesis, and an indication of how complicated our cultural identity still is. Polls generally show good support for hiking taxes on the rich (a quick search of my Reader finds this one, among others) to close the deficit, but not on this particular point. Perhaps it’s the altruistic overtone of the act of inheritance that makes the difference here. Something is being given to someone, rather than that person having to work to earn the money. It’s ironic that the public is much more comfortable taxing the money people earn than the money they get handed to them, especially since our culture idolizes work. But it seems to be the case. In fact, this interpretation could lead to the counterintuitive finding that the dearth of support for the estate tax isn’t the result of empathy for the rich but rather the opposite, since it’s easy enough for everyone to visualize getting a big inheritance check from a relative. That doesn’t require putting yourself into someone else’s shoes. Much harder to imagine earning over $250k a year I suspect. But, to be honest, that is supposition.
So that’s the way in which the estate tax opposition refutes “the culture of work.” On the other hand, inheritance can be seen as just a reward for a lifetime of hard work. Being able to pass on that wealth can be construed perhaps as an incentive to work hard as well. Thus, the argument that the tax is a double-tax of earned money, which is not always true if the money was inherited originally. That is a distinction that hasn’t been made and would be hard to form policy around, and it doesn’t seem too germane to the average person. Still, this constitutes the “straightforward” explanation for why untrammeled inheritance would be popular.
I don’t know what all this means, except that America is a young country that is still puzzling out these fundamental questions about work and money. I wouldn’t say that my opinion on the matter has fundamentally changed, but there are a lot of lefty bloggers and pundits who take a reductionist view of the estate tax debate. So do a lot of similar folks on the right. The public might side with them at this point, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like public opinion about the estate tax is a clash of distinct and contradictory values whose underpinnings have yet to be fully understood by either side.
*Of course, I haven’t always supported it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t care at all when I was an infant. That’s an irritating turn of phrase, no? And yet an ubiquitous one.
- Personality crisis: Balloon Juice
- Give ‘em the boot, you know I’m a radical: Balloon Juice
- It’s not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me: Balloon Juice
- Page 18 - Christian Chat Rooms & Forums: "LGBT RIGHTS"
- Page 4: The Most Powerful Man In The Free World
Wine Labels2012 Election Abortion Barack Obama Bullshit Bush Christianity Congress Conservatives Corruption Debt Ceiling Democrats Economy Fail Foreign Policy Fox News Gay Marriage Hatred Health Care Ignorance Insanity Law LGBT Issues Libertarianism Lies Media Mitt Romney Music Policy Polls Quotes Racism Rebuttals Recession Republicans Right Wing Sarah Palin Scandal Stupidity Teabaggers Torture Truth Video War Crimes War on Drugs War on Terror
- I Saw Jobs (3)
- Metavirus: yipes to that being the best scene. it’s so sappy and overwrought. it reminded me several times of an awful scene in an...
- Lev: Funny you should say that, since that’s one of the best scenes in the movie. It features an actor who knows what he’s...
- Metavirus: wow. i hadn’t heard much about the movie — thank you for warning me off. if it’s anything like that clip...
- Achilles Heels (1)
- So, Tell Me Again How You Planned On Repealing Obamacare? (2)
- They Take In Progressives And Turn Them Into Technocratic Centrists (2)
- AWOL (4)
- I Saw Jobs (3)
- First Time As Tragedy, Second Time As Farce
- Photo, Mystery and Flashback of the Day: Dark Flow At Edge of Observable Universe
- Why Are There So Many People Locked Up In The US?
- And Herein Lies The Ignorant Fear At The Heart of the Teabaggers
- BP Pledges To Continue Being Huge Profitable Corporation
- Quick Note: The Most Admirable Thing About Lou Reed
- Why The Catholic Church Is Stupid - Part 1,000,001
- Fox News Has a First Amendment Right to Lie – Updated
- Oregon Ducks Win First Rose Bowl Since 1917
- Massive Illogic
- Quote of the Day: Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged
- Oh, Come ON! You Stereotypical Gays.
- Ralph Nader Is Still Politically Stupid
- Still Looking For The Next Hitler
- Exploring How Identical Twins Can Have Different Sexual…
- TownHall’s List Of Racist Liberal Quotes As Pathetic…
- Primate Discovery of Higher Causality Created Religious…
- April 2014 (15)
- March 2014 (21)
- February 2014 (33)
- January 2014 (31)
- December 2013 (25)
- November 2013 (32)
- October 2013 (57)
- September 2013 (32)
- August 2013 (57)
- July 2013 (56)
- June 2013 (44)
- May 2013 (42)
- April 2013 (41)
- March 2013 (66)
- February 2013 (42)
- January 2013 (74)
- December 2012 (67)
- November 2012 (44)
- October 2012 (51)
- September 2012 (35)
- August 2012 (50)
- July 2012 (36)
- June 2012 (35)
- May 2012 (51)
- April 2012 (42)
- March 2012 (64)
- February 2012 (85)
- January 2012 (79)
- December 2011 (68)
- November 2011 (76)
- October 2011 (67)
- September 2011 (55)
- August 2011 (53)
- July 2011 (44)
- June 2011 (71)
- May 2011 (103)
- April 2011 (107)
- March 2011 (120)
- February 2011 (124)
- January 2011 (82)
- December 2010 (97)
- November 2010 (92)
- October 2010 (93)
- September 2010 (80)
- August 2010 (44)
- July 2010 (63)
- June 2010 (33)
- May 2010 (60)
- April 2010 (34)
- March 2010 (50)
- February 2010 (66)
- January 2010 (67)
- December 2009 (72)
- November 2009 (78)
- October 2009 (91)
- September 2009 (75)
- August 2009 (105)
- July 2009 (81)
- June 2009 (178)
- May 2009 (152)
- April 2009 (147)
- March 2009 (86)
- February 2009 (52)
- January 2009 (118)
- December 2008 (18)