January 02, 2013
Senator Murray, Meet Dr. Jones And Candy Jones

In which your humble correspondent offers an example in his effort to understand the thinking of our president, and Washington state's senior senator, Patty Murray.

Here is the message in a letter I just sent (by email) to Senator Murray:

Dear Senator Murray:

I am disappointed that you chose not to reply to my letter of a couple of weeks ago, asking you to describe a tax system that you believe would be "fair".  Since you say that the one we have had for most of the last decade is not fair, I think you owe it to the people to explain, with some specificity, what changes you think we should make, in order to achieve a "fair" system.

Since you haven't been specific, we have to speculate, based on your actions.  Let me give you a hypothetical example which illustrates your position, as I understand it.

Dr. Jones is a medical researcher, as well as a physician.  He is currently working on developing a new antibiotic, something we need desperately.  He has made enough progress so that his small firm will be giving him a substantial bonus this year, enough to put him into the "rich" category that you and President Obama have targeted.

Dr. Jones lives a life most of us would admire.  He has been married to the same woman for more than a decade and has been a good husband and father to their three children.  Every year, like your former colleague, Bill Frist, he takes some time off to give his services to the poor in a 3rd world country.

Dr. Jones has a cousin, Candy Jones, who most of us would find less admirable.   She also has three children (by different fathers), though she never married.  She is currently keeping two of her children out of literacy classes so that she can continue receiving their disability payments.  (Those who doubt this happens should read this Nicholas Kristof column.)  Those payments are not her only official source of income; she also receives food stamps and Medicaid.

Unofficially, she sells a little meth on the side.

Although she has large amounts of leisure time, she does no volunteer work.

As I understand your position — and President Obama's position — the most important thing we can do on taxes and spending is to take money from Dr. Jones and give it to Candy Jones.  That, you believe, would make our system "fairer".

As you may have guessed by now, I disagree.

It is not that I object to taxing the rich.  In fact, in a week or so, I plan to send you a list of rich people who I think should be paying higher taxes.  But I do think that our taxing and spending should reward good behavior, not bad.

This is an open letter, which I will be posting on two sites.  I'd be happy to add your reply, if any, to the posts.

Sincerely,

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(Note to would-be commenters:  As a courtesy, I'll give Murray a week or so to respond before opening the post.  I don't expect a substantive reply, though I would be delighted to receive one, but I think it only fair to give her a chance to make one.) Posted by Jim Miller at January 02, 2013 09:08 AM | Email This

Comments
1. Jim, why exactly did you expect to get a response?

Posted by: demokid on January 7, 2013 03:02 PM
2. "good behavior, not bad"

WTF is that supposed to mean? Good or bad according to Jim Miller, no doubt. You see, Dr. Jones has another cousin, Bertha, an unmarried meth head with illegitimate kids, useless, lounges by the pool. But she is the daughter of an incredibly wealthy man, the vulture capitalist older brother of Dr. Jones and who recently died of joy from shipping American jobs overseas, leaving a billion to Bertha. The Big Plan that your guy Ryan came up with, the one that is an expression of your right-wing values, would reward Bertha's behaviour with zero taxation on the estate she inherits and all the moolah she rakes in for the rest of her life from capital gains and dividends, as well as for the lives of her heirs, generation after generation. She and her spawn can buy all the meth she wants, never contribute anything, and never pay one dime in taxes!

It seems that Jim is hankering to punish Candy and reward Bertha. Yeah, that makes great sense there, Jim. If your values are warped.

"Candy"

Could you please be more obvious next time?

Let's get to the bottom of this BS. Please provide a link to where I can get all the free stuff, all of the free candy. Where does one sign up, Jim? From the other thread, I understand that I can get cell phones, large screen TV's, that I can live the life of Reilly and you're gonna pay for it from your hard work and oh-so-bitterly paid taxes. Hot damn! Where do I sign up for the free "candy", Jim?

It's all a bunch of BS, an excuse to whine.

Posted by: Dr. Steve on January 7, 2013 07:28 PM
3. Jim, You're waiting for Godot...

Posted by: KDS on January 7, 2013 09:38 PM
4. Dear jmiller22898@aol.com:

While Senator Murray always tries to answer every letter from her constituents from the great state of Washington, her recent business involving budgetary matters, and welcoming new members to the growing Majority Caucus, have occupied much of her time since you wrote. Also, although the senator rightly takes great pride in her long-standing success at reaching out across the aisle to the Minority Caucus, she prefers otherwise to limit her communications to members of what she likes to call, "the reality-based community." Thus, it falls to a member of her staff-- specifically, the one currently least liked by the senator's chief of staff -- to respond to your missive.

Your letter seems to involve sketching, as if with a crayon, or perhaps a stick in the mud, some kind of contrast between three characters: one sympathetic, one neutral, and one completely lacking in any positive appeal. That last position is, of course, represented by Senator Murray's former colleague. As the link you so helpfully provided recounts:

In both 2005 and 2006, Frist was named one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress"[43] by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for ethics inquiries stemming from his troubles with the FEC and an investigation by the SEC for stock sales potentially based on inside information.

[...]

In the Terri Schiavo case, a brain-damaged woman whose husband wanted to remove her gastric feeding tube, Frist opposed the removal and in a speech delivered on the Senate Floor, challenged the diagnosis of Schiavo's physicians of Schiavo being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS): "I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office".[45] Frist was criticized by a medical ethicist at Northwestern University for making a diagnosis without personally examining the patient and for questioning the diagnosis when he was not a neurologist.[46] After her death, the autopsy showed signs of long-term and irreversible damage to a brain consistent with PVS.[47] Frist defended his actions after the autopsy.

[...]

While he was a medical school student in the 1970s, Frist performed fatal medical experiments and vivisection on shelter cats while researching the use of drugs on the mitral valve. By his own account, Frist improperly obtained these cats from Boston animal shelters, falsely telling shelter staff he was adopting the cats as pets.[49] In his book, Frist asserted that he succumbed to the pressure to succeed in a highly competitive medical school.

On behalf of Senator Murray, I request you not attempt to disturb her with memories of a colleague whom she would rather not recall.

As for one of the more-sympathetic characters in your little 'story', if this person did in fact exist, she would be an excellent example for the senator's lifelong support of access to safe, legal abortion. She would also be a "poster girl" for publicly-subsidized access to contraception. On behalf of the senator, I thank you for constructing a character, or perhaps caricature, which so perfectly demonstrates how government-subsidized contraception saves public funds in the long term. As you are a self-described fiscal conservative, will you help us in continuing our efforts to so save public funds? We eagerly await your next letter, wherein you will certainly pledge your support.

Most Sincerely,

[Name Withheld]

P.S. As a personal favor, I ask you resolve a question which us other low-ranking staffers have pondered since we were non-consensually assigned the task of responding to your most recent attempt at communication: was the name "Candy Jones" indeed meant to indicate that your interaction with females of child-bearing age -- at least those to whom you are not directly related by blood -- remains limited to the pages of Playboy magazine? Please do answer, because no matter which answer you give, one of us will receive a fine meal, entirely paid for, at one of the other Washington's finest public dining establishments.

Posted by: tensor on January 7, 2013 10:33 PM
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Posted by: ????????? on January 8, 2013 02:41 AM
6. Dr. Steve,

Let me see if I understand your position here.

Can I assume that you agree that Dr. Jones has obtained his properly in a both legal and morally acceptable manner? Yet, you feel it is justifiable to confiscate his property without his consent and give it to Candy, whom you feel would be punished if this were not done.

On the other hand, you feel that Dr. Jones' older brother obtained his property in an immoral manner, yet legal manner, but you object to his giving away his property, of his own fee will, to Bertha, whom you feel is undeserving.

So, Candy deserves to have money that was taken without consent, but Bertha does not deserve to have the money that was freely given. Dr. Jones, who achieved his properly in a legal manner should have his confiscated and given to someone who did not earn it, and his brother, who also earned his property in a legal manner should not be allowed to give his property to someone who did not earn it. Let's not forget the fact that prior to giving his money to Bertha, The elder Jones had the legal amount collected by the government at the time he earned it.

My guess is that you would have had no problem giving Bertha a certain amount of money, but only if you had first taken it without consent from the elder Jones.

The key differences in these two scenarios is control. You want to decide who gives, how much they give and to whom it is given. And you want to decide what is moral. If you decide that giving money to Candy is a moral act, then you are the one who also decides who must perform that moral act by taking their property and giving it to Candy. If you decide that giving money to Bertha is an immoral act, then you want to confiscate the elder Jones' property to deny it to Bertha in the form of estate taxation.)

By implication, you have made the case that property does not belong to individuals but to you. You want to be the one who decides who should have property and how much, based on your set of moral values, irrespective of the moral values of the property holder.

Posted by: Eyago on January 8, 2013 02:44 AM
7. Jim,

I would like to suggest that you approach your "open letters" a little differently. I appreciate the fact that you want to grant the courtesy of first response to the addressee, but is there any real value in posting the letter here with comment closed while you wait for that response? Why don't you simply send your letter, wait the week and then post the the letter here AFTER the time has expired with either the response or the acknowledgement that you gave them a week to respond.

This way, the topic will be fresh in our minds as we join in the debate, and it will not so quickly drop off the timeline once the comment do open. I simply see no value in having a post sit there for a week without the opportunity for comments.

Posted by: Eyago on January 8, 2013 02:51 AM
8. @6 "My guess" I assume" "you feel it is justifiable to confiscate" "Candy deserves to have money"

Good grief! What a load of BS.

"you want to decide what is moral"

Too late, dufus, Miller already did that.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 06:20 AM
9. Dr. Steve,

There is a clear distinction between having a moral position and enforcing your moral position on other people. Everyone has a moral position, and that is expected. The difference between your position and Jim's is a matter of action verses inaction.

On Jim's side, he creates a moral dichotomy to highlight how a ssytem can penalize someone who most would hold is acting in a morally positive manner and reward someone who some might see is acting in a less morally positive manner.

In contrast, you specifically demonstrate how you want to act specifically to punish and or reward people, to confiscate their property and give it to someone else based on YOUR moral view point.

This is a huge difference: one of asking a moral question verse advocating the confiscation of property to advance a moral position.

Maybe you can't see this because you don't believe in individual property rights? Maybe you believe that all property belongs to the collective? And thus, it IS morally equivalent in your mind for one person to legally acquire property through hard work as it is to transfer that property to another person who did nothing to earn it, all entirely based on YOUR judgement of who should have what, not on the fact that they possessed it worked to earn it and broke no laws in the doing so.

Posted by: Eyago on January 8, 2013 09:20 AM
10. You've resorted to making stuff up, Eyago. That's usually not a good sign.

"On Jim's side, he creates a moral dichotomy to highlight how a ssytem can penalize someone who most would hold is acting in a morally positive manner and reward someone who some might see is acting in a less morally positive manner."

"The difference between your position and Jim's is a matter of action verses inaction."

Hardly. Jim would gladly reward the morally corrupt and useless with a tax-free existence, providing they're the spawn of the rich, of course, while he would punish everybody else. And this is void of moral judgement? Perhaps. Maybe it's just raw, insatiable greed that is completely disconnected from any Christian morality whatsoever.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 11:49 AM
11. Yeah, Jim's post is devoid of any moral jusgement, Eyago. Ignore that he deliberately chose to tar those on food stamps, Medicaid and disability assistance as being morally corrupt sloths deserving of scorn.

Like you, I prefer my government to reflect my values. Some of mine are nicely stated in Matthew 25. Apparently you and Jim get your values elsewhere. I've seen such values as yours expressed in Atlas Shrugged. I choose Christ Jesus, you choose Ayn Rand. I believe in brotherly love and you believe in getting yours. The way I see it, that's the basic difference between you and me, Bub.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 12:03 PM
12. Jim, because you make sense with good logic, Murray will never respond. It is not her style or method.

Posted by: Harry on January 8, 2013 12:17 PM
13. Jim, because you make sense with good logic, Murray will never respond. It is not her style or method as she goes with the democratic wind.

Posted by: Harry on January 8, 2013 12:19 PM
14. "There is a clear distinction between having a moral position and enforcing your moral position on other people."

By the way, that's rich, coming as it is from the side having a party platform plank which specifically calls for the imposition of your moral values on all American women.

Situational with your ethics much? That's because you lack a moral compass, Eyago. Too bad you can't buy one of those. It's something that's instilled, Eyago, and you seemed to have somehow missed out. Look what happens without one. Just look at you. You indudge in insatiable greed and dare call it morality.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 01:42 PM
15. County Seattle (over a few years). The State elections dept has finally removed my information from the record and so has King County...so why is it still listed on your website SOUND POLY? If you are a voice for the people ...show me that to be true via your actions! Remove the bad record. When do you actually update these records in your data base anyway?

You can look it up to see that they have corrected it above on the URL.

Posted by: johnson, bruce on January 8, 2013 02:04 PM
16. voter fraud littered in your records as fact? i have emailed you a few times...are your records reliable? it really seems questionable.

Posted by: johnson, bruce on January 8, 2013 02:08 PM
17. Doctor Steve,

Is that a self-awarded title? Given you complete lack of ability to understand logic I certainly would doubt you could earn such a title otherwise.

Hardly. Jim would gladly reward the morally corrupt and useless with a tax-free existence, providing they're the spawn of the rich, of course, while he would punish everybody else.

let's take this piece by piece...

Reward. Jim is not "rewarding" anyone. the Elder Jones might be AWARDING" someone by bequeathing them the property that he legal had claim to. Your position assumes that the property is Jim's to give. But that only makes perfect sense if you believe that all property belongs to the state. And thus, for one person to be "allowed" to give what he owns is a moral wrong because it was never his to give in the first place.

tax-free. The property that the elder Jones possessed was not tax-free. It had already been taxed the legal amount upon the obtaining of it. The fact that he then gives it to another person doe not imply that is should be taxed again. What if everything you wanted to give to somebody, another person would come in, take half away from the recipient and give that confiscated half to a person of their choosing, not yours? Give $10 to a grandchild for his birthday? Nope. the government takes $5 and gives it to some other kid down the street. Again, your argument seems to assume that property does not belong to a person but the state. I am sure, in your world, you would prefer that all inheritance be given to the state to distribute as it pleases.

Punish everybody else. Is allowing a person to keep what they made and give it to whomever they choose a punishment to those who did not get anything? Is it a punishment to people in Zimbabwe that you live in this rich nation and have all that wealth and they do not?

Let me spell it out to you plainly. Your position is that it is moral to take people's legally obtained property and give it to other people. It is Jim's position that it is not moral to do so.

Jim's position is one of inactivity. It is NOT immoral to not take take a person's property to give to another person regardless of one's opinions on the morals of the two people involved.

Your position is one of activity. It IS immoral not to take a person's property and give it to another person regardless of the morals of the to people involved, but more specifically, you reserve additional moral impetus when deciding if the property owner is a moral person and the receiver of that free gift is a moral person.

Jim is saying that we have no grounds for confiscating wealth, and you say that you not only have grounds, you have additional cause if you decide that the owner and/or the receiver are morally inferior.

Jim does not judge the giver or receiver, but rather says we cannot justify the state transfer. You want to judge the giver/receiver as a justification for the transfer.

Posted by: Eyago on January 8, 2013 04:12 PM
18. "Blah, blah, blah...,givers, takers..., blah, blah, blah."

My Lord, Eyago, you're such a simplistic fool, what with your binary perception of the world around you. Givers and takers. I take it that's easy for you to digest, huh?

Could you possibly be any more dumbed down? Hmm, you must be a libertarian. Heh. You know what I say about libertarians, don't you? They're nothing but stupid, whiney, half-assed anarchists without the balls to get it on.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 07:18 PM
19. Dr. Steve,


Wow. Your reading comprehension is astounding!
Astoundingly limited.

Apparently all you apparently WERE able to read was: "Blah, blah, blah...,givers, takers..., blah, blah, blah."

Somehow seeing those two words made you decide I was talking about libertarian talking points about the givers and the takers. Which had NOTHING whatsoever to do with what I said.

You ahve just cemented yourself as one of the most dense and irrelevant liberal posters on this blog, and that is quite an achievement.

Really, try actually reading the posts. Your ideology blinds you so severely that you decide what things say instead of what they really do. I do fell sorry for any conscientious liberals who can formulate a coherent thought. You just managed to justify the conservative estimation that liberals can't think. They will all have to work that much harder to overcome the damage you did to their reputation these last two days.

Posted by: Eyago on January 8, 2013 08:43 PM
20. Jim, your "letter" is too confusing for me. Next time would you please give your characters names like "Virtuous Victor" and "Evil Esmeralda" so I can keep track of who's good and who's bad? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Bruce on January 8, 2013 10:02 PM
21. "Is that a self-awarded title?"

No. I earned it the old-fashioned way, with my being Bob-certified and that infers. In other words, you may formally address me as it reads on my card,

Doctor Steve, BOBC
"have voltage, will travel"

By the way, I'm offering half-off on electro-shock this week in case any of you wingnuts are interested in improving your minds.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 10:51 PM
22. @19 "Blah, blah, blah"

Yup, either one of those silly libertarians or a castrated anarchist. Not much diff, really, is there? Not when you get down to it. Both are best shunned by good Republicans (now known as RINO's) and Democrats alike.

Posted by: Doctor Steve on January 8, 2013 11:00 PM
23. Thus, our shelves lead to filled with problems that we have fun with, but that we doní»t include time for the purpose of.

Posted by: longchamp soldes on January 9, 2013 07:17 AM
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