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Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm Grateful

I think that the United States is going through a realignment towards socialism right now and that realignment will continue regardless who wins the election tomorrow. I think that's unfortunate for the United States in general and for me in particular.

However, at the same time, I'm thanking my lucky stars that I was born in the right place at the right time. Reagan was elected when I was 21 and I've gotten 28 years of entrepreneur friendly administrations and witnessed an explosion in the technologies that I find interesting. In a few more years my career will probably start to wind down anyway as I get older, so socialism won't have nearly the negative impact on me now as it would have when I was young.

Before the positive career implications of the Reagan tax cuts occurred to me, I was pretty wild and unpredictable. I would work a couple of months as a programmer, then take off several months to party. I motorcycled across the country twice, crewed on a sailboat for many weeks, and generally goofed off.

That was a really fun, if somewhat austere, life. I was in some sense homeless for awhile. Sure, I had places I could go if I so chose. But for weeks on end it was just me and my motorcycle. I had no mailing address, no phone (this was before cell phones), and there was no way to get hold of me. I slept on the ground and I would go swimming in lakes with my clothes on to get me and my clothes clean at the same time (I didn't have anything else to wear so I couldn't go to a laundromat). I lived on less than ten dollars a day. But, I was really, really, really free.

Several of my friends discussed starting companies while we were in college (and some of them actually did so), but I figured that taxes were so high that there didn't seem to be much point in putting in all the effort. I figured it was much better to be free and party.

But with Reagan's tax cuts, the equation changed and my laziness lost out to my greed and I've averaged more than 60 hours of work per week since I was 23. As much as I liked the "free spirit" portion of my life, the working portion of my life has turned out to be significantly more fulfilling - especially when considering the wife and kids thrown in as an added bonus. I haven't made all that much money, but I've had the opportunity to start interesting companies and work with interesting people doing interesting things. I've had every chance that one could hope for and a large part of that chance and opportunity was the low tax, pro-market environment created by Reagan and mostly maintained by his successors (so far).

For that I am grateful. I will vote my conscience tomorrow, but I will fully accept the decision of the majority, and if that involves a change in the direction of the country going forward toward socialism, so be it. I will keep doing the best that I can.


Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, I know a guy like you.

I offered him a slam dunk way to increase his capital (with a limit of about $50K/cycle) with next to no risk.

He agreed my scheme was working and may continue working for the next little while.

However, he declined to take part, because it would have been taxed as ordinary income. Big whoops.

You double your money every 2 to 3 weeks, and turn it down because you have to pay the difference between 28 and 45% (or whatever the split would be in his bracket).

Some people hate taxes so much they turn down free money. Somehow, I fail to blame the tax pattern for that.

(Obvious question: Am I taking advantage of this nifty market opportunity? Answer: No, I am not. Ethical considerations forbid it. But it worked like a charm for over 2 months.)

erp said...

My husband is a CPA and over the years, he has on many occasions tried to reason with people who will go any length to avoid paying taxes even if the result is a less robust bottom line.

There's something in the human condition that abhors having its pocket picked.

Although I hate socialism, that's not my main fear. It's that socialism won't allow itself to be dislodged when the inevitable buyer remorse sets in.

Bret said...

The problem with expanding government for any reason, socialistic or otherwise, is the difficulty in dismantling it. That's why I assume that the US will be more socialistic now for the rest of my life.

Hey Skipper said...

That's why I assume that the US will be more socialistic now for the rest of my life.

And odd expectation, considering it has become less socialistic during your life.

Besides, the likely degree to which the US can become more socialistic is limited by socialism's abject failure.

Sen Obama redistributionist tendencies are annoying, but he shows no sign of approaching anything like the punitive tax rates of the 70's.

It seems to me that over the last forty years, the left has moved well to the right, while the right has scarcely moved at all.

(To the extent those terms have any meaning ...)

Harry Eagar said...

Short of turning out to be an actual Bolshevik, I don't see how Obama's redistributionist tendencies can be any more grandiose or obnoxious than George Bush's.

Contra Skipper, when I look at the Republican party and see massive deficit spending and an interventionist foreign policy, it is hard to tell from what used to be the Democratic party.

Bob Taft (any of them) wouldn't be a member of today's GOP.

Bret said...

hey skipper wrote: "An odd expectation, considering it has become less socialistic during your life."

The pendulum swings one way, then the other.

Hey Skipper said...


Yes, the pendulum will do its thing. However, IMHO, the fulcrum has moved to the right.

Lots of what had once been Left shibboleths are no longer on the cards.

Yet we still talk about the importance of low taxes and balanced budgets.

(Contra Harry, who I think had mistook a strawman for me, I have never been confused about the Republican party and deficit spending. That said, I'd love to hear a different option than our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan that is well thought out, and takes into account the entire strategic milieu.)

Harry Eagar said...

Well, who is the right then? I remain unpersuaded that the current mob on Wall St. is composed entirely of Wendell Willkies.

For one thing, they all wear shoes.

Very little in today's Republican party reminds me of the GOP of my youth. Reagan, for example, is responsible for something like 10-15% of the national debt. No Democratic administration of any 8 years comes anywhere close.

erp said...

Harry, thanks for making me laugh. It may be the last one for a long time, if ever, in my lifetime.