My column this week, trying to explain the paradox of Obama leading in the polls despite being a failed president, generated more than the usual number of comments from FutureOfCapitalism community member-participant-watchdog-content co-creators. Some highlights:
From Rich Hand:
You are falling into the media's trap of making people feel the election is in the bag for Obama. The polls are a joke and very few are buying the line. Fred has been dissecting the polls and the most recent PPPL poll actually was Romney 53 O 44 when proper voter weight was applied.
I know this will sound funny but this country is too smart to be dumb enough to vote for this president again. I know voters have made mistakes before but this time around Americans are feeling duped. They can't wait to fix it.
Romney is not a great candidate but he will be an acceptable alternative to the current failure...
From Rich Jefferson:
Obama is not winning. The polls are a sham – have you looked at the questions, and the samples? You're falling for the stories "covering" push polling that poll predominantly Dems. Besides, the only polls that matter before the November poll that really matters are in October. Why would you run a headline that feeds the Axelrod propaganda (prevarication) agenda? Your column's third explanation would be the closest to the probably truth, which is why they're using push polls to mold public opinion. They might win with this "narrow path." But there is a fourth explanation for a possible Obama victory. And that is too many people on our side give in to the "Obama winning" scenario and don't vote. I live in Wisconsin and even Rasmussen had the June 5 Walker recall to close to call going into election day – Scott got 53.5 percent and soundly beat the Dem.
From Frederick Van Bennekom:
I express the maker/taker dilemma this way. When representation without taxation reaches an inflection point (around 50%) coupled with vast numbers who vote for their bosses, then you have de facto taxation without representation. This is why I believe more and more that we need a divorce -- split the country.
Mr. Van Bennekom notes that he doesn't want to sound like he is in favor of a poll tax. One could return to colonial practice and limit voting to property owners, but then someone with an underwater mortgage would be able to vote, but a renter with hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-house investments wouldn't, and that doesn't make much sense to me. The other point the left makes is that even those not paying income taxes are paying state sales taxes and in some cases also payroll taxes.
Secession has a justifiably bad rap dating back to the Civil War, which was fought in part to preserve the Union. But what if instead of the South seceding to preserve slavery, the North had decided to secede to shed slavery? Maybe we Northerners would have looked at it differently. Right now, neither side is getting its way. President Obama and his allies are complaining that the obstructionist Republican Congress is making it impossible to do what he wants to do to lower unemployment. And Mitt Romney and his allies are complaining that the Democrats are imposing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank on a nation that doesn't want it. If nothing else, splitting America in two would be a tremendous natural experiment. Let President Obama rule New York and California, let President Romney rule Texas. Let the other states decide which team they want to join, and then let individuals, and companies, decide which country they wanted to be a part of. One country would have generous welfare programs, higher taxes on the rich, ObamaCare, a smaller military, and lots of environmental and consumer regulations. The other country would have stingier welfare programs, school vouchers, premium support for Medicare, a flatter tax system, a bigger military, and fewer environmental and consumer regulations.
In ten years, we could check back in and see which country has a lower unemployment rate, which country has less debt, which country has happier citizens, which country has a higher GDP, and which country is a destination more desired by immigrants.
Big companies do this sort of thing — break up into smaller parts and let them go their own way — all the time. Advocates might say that this secession is also about slavery — the refusal of the producers to be enslaved by taxation. The advocates would be accused of exaggeration, but the Founders themselves compared taxation without representation to slavery.
This may be a bad idea for lots of reasons. The details might be hard to manage: who would get the U.N. Security Council veto? The nuclear submarines? The two-party competition probably does something to help keep government honest and on its toes. Half-size former Americas might be so small that they would have even harder times competing with giants like India and China than the full-sized America goes.
I'm not advocating this "divorce" plan, but I do think it's a provocative idea that might have some advantages and is worth discussing or thinking about further. There's probably a book to be written about it.