Ray Bradbury on JFK, Ronald Reagan and Sensible Economics

From Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews by Sam Weller
(Brooklyn NY: Melville House, 2010), 170-171.

WELLER: Do you consider yourself conservative, liberal, or moderate?

BRADBURY: You mustn’t put labels on people. This is what is important: Somebody somewhere along the line had to give the taxes back to the people. Roosevelt never did it, Hoover never did it. They could have cured the Depression in 1932 when my father was out of work for ten years. My father suffered. They should have given him back his tax money. Nobody thought of that, and nobody did anything. Kennedy was the first to experiment with it. The year before he died, there were a few experiments with giving the taxes back, but there was never the chance to really experiment fully, and he died. So it was never mentioned again until Reagan came along and cut the taxes, and then we began to get jobs. When he came into office, there were millions of people unemployed. He lowered taxes all over the United States and created millions of jobs. . . . So Reagan’s experiment worked. That’s not being conservative, that’s not being anything except sensible.

WELLER: Sounds to me like fiscal conservative thinking.

BRADBURY: No, no. No labels. I don’t believe in them.

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France is Scroomed and So Are We

The Armstrong and Getty Show, April 23, 2012, Hour 3 (Podcast), Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty:

Jack: In France, everybody is running on the “what can I give you more of” platform, including Sarkozy. So, unlike all the other countries that got the message, “Hey, we’re broke, they’re rioting in the streets, we’ve got to tighten our belts, the good times are over,” France is completely ignoring that in their presidential election and all the candidates are running on the platform of, “Oh, you want to lower the retirement age from 65 to 62, I want to lower it to 58!” “Oh yeah? Well I want to make it 52! And I want to have a million more teachers on the government payroll.” They’re all running on the bigger government, the “give-people-more-stuff” platform. This guy, François Hollande (of the French Socialist Party), who beat out Sarkozy yesterday, wants to tax the rich, anyone who makes €1 million or more, 75 percent.

Joe: That seems fair.

Jack: The guy to the left of him, who got beat out, wanted to tax the rich—who he defined as anyone making more than €500,000—at a rate of 100 percent.

Joe: Now, that’s confiscatory.

Jack: And he just barely got edged out. And he was advocating a tax of 100 percent of everything over €500,000.

Joe: How much effort does he think people are going to put into making money and to create jobs and to grow companies, if the government is going to confiscate 100 percent of their earnings? Screw you. To hell with you, France. If the Germans invade again, we’re just going to watch TV. We’re just going to say, “I don’t hear anything, I don’t see anything,” achtung!

Jack: It’s an interesting idea. Because if I make $500,000, and every dollar over that I make, the government gets all that, there are only a couple of options. You’d figure out a way to cheat and hide it somehow, or you’d hire somebody to pretend they’re you and take part of your business. You’d have to do something like that.

Joe: Well, you’d find a way to deny the government that revenue. And the vast majority of people would just not put in the effort anymore.

You know, the free market has lifted more people out of poverty than anything conceived of by man, bar none. But everyone wants to do away with it in the name of “fairness.” You want fairness? Let the market work.

Jack: “A Country in Denial” was the article in The Economist. By ignoring their economic problems, France’s politicians are making it impossible to solve those problems. Everybody still thinks the party is not over. You can still just give people stuff, promise them anything, let them retire early, it’s amazing! It’s really quite amazing.

But you know, we’re more or less there in the United States. We’re in not quite as dire a situation as France, because our economy is so good. But we are headed in that direction, and we are still acting like nothing was wrong.

Joe: Okay, here’s the calculation that politicians are making. If you don’t deal with politicians as often as we do, you can’t conceive of how cynical they are. The calculation they make is, “Will the ess hit the fan, will the disaster happen during my term?” And if the answer is no by as little as a day, then they will continue doing politics as usual, the pandering, the income redistribution, the overspending—unless it’s going to happen on their watch. And literally, if it’s one day after their power is no longer an issue to them, then they don’t care, they don’t care.

They are beating the hell out of our children and we’re letting them.

Jack: The vast majority of politicians are cowards who just want to hang onto their job while they’ve got it.

Joe: And a majority of Americans don’t pay income tax anyway, so it doesn’t really seem like an issue to them.

It’s the human beast. It’s an ugly, ugly beast. The human beast is capable of unspeakable selfishness and evil. Once in a while, you know, once every couple hundred years, some great thinkers come together to design a government that somehow staves off the ugliness of humanity long enough to build a great culture. But sooner or later, We the People figure out a way to screw the pooch and ruin it. And we’re about there—scroomed.*

[*Note: Scroomed is an Armstrong & Getty term. Derivation: Screwed + doomed = scroomed.]

Jack: France, which is further down the road of being scroomed then we are, the guy who currently leads to become the next president of France, is running on, “I’m going to move the retirement age from 65 to 62, and taxing people who make over €1 million at a rate of 75 percent.

Joe: Wow, that’s a kick in the baguette.