Category: Ben Voth

Civil Rights Renaissance to Remember Martin Luther King


March 4, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of what may arguably be the end of America’s second revolution:  the civil rights movement.  On March 4, 1968, Martin Luther was assassinated on the balcony of the Loraine Motel in Memphis.  The assassination was a jacobin fantasy long sought against King since the inception of his leadership efforts for civil rights beginning in 1956.  King’s assassination 50 years ago was perhaps an end of the community of the beloved and a non-violent effort to bring a stop to segregation and other overwhelming aspects of racism in the United States.  King’s efforts along with other leaders such as James Farmer, Jr. and James Meredith were increasingly sidelined by more militant efforts to reject American political conventions as articulated by men like Stokely Carmichael in his famous alternative to the non-violent movement expressed in the simple words:  “Black Power!” 50 years later, America needs more than ever a renaissance of the American civil rights movement. 

With the ascendancy of black power movements like the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, white participants in the civil rights movement were expelled.  The Christian, non-violent, and religious trappings of the movement were discarded and the partisan beliefs that blacks must claim for themselves the rights so long denied became dominant and entrenched.  Carmichael incited the counter movement when he co-opted James Meredith’s “March Against Fear.”  On June 16, 1966, Carmichael led the crowd in chants of “black power” and explained in Greenwood, Mississippi: “every courthouse in Mississippi ought to be burned down tomorrow to get rid of the dirt and the mess.” The idea of ‘burning it down’ has become a trademark of an Alinsky-inspired vision of riots and violent destruction across the nation.  Carmichael’s frustration tapped into an endless sea of anger all people feel at the pain of genuine injustice.  Academics have to a large extent fanned the flames of 50 years of black power fantasies by offering false hagiography of leaders such as Malcolm X.  In current re-tellings of the 1960s, Malcolm X is viewed as the path not taken versus King, and a militancy we should now embrace to reduce problems like police killings of innocent black men like Stephon Clark.  Malcolm’s last words, less than 24 hours after having his house bombed by jacobin radicals and one week before being assassinated himself, show a change of heart different from his present hagiography:  “I say again that I’m not a racist, I don’t believe in any form of segregation or anything like that. I’m for the brotherhood of everybody, but I don’t believe in forcing brotherhood upon people who don’t want it. Long as we practice brotherhood among ourselves, and then others who want to practice brotherhood with us, we practice it with them also, we’re for that. But I don’t think that we should run around trying to love somebody who doesn’t love us.”  Malcolm X’s repudiation of segregation and exit from the Nation of Islam was a diametrical change from his debates with James Farmer Jr. in 1962 and demonstrated a decisive break with the radical visions of NOI.  His change of heart came not long after civil rights workers James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.  Exasperated with the non-violent methods of his martyred brother within the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Ben Chaney joined the ranks of the Black Liberation Army in the 1970s.  This terrorist group was dedicated to violent revolution against racism within the United States.  Chaney went to jail for years after being caught running guns related to several murders committed by the group.  He has since renounced the path of violence he formerly embraced.

In 2018, we need a renaissance of the American civil rights movement.  They myth that confrontation, anger and neo-segregationism have not been tried sufficiently, needs to be seen for the 50-year failure it has been in American race relations.  The nation needs to re-discover King’s words at the conclusion of his letter from a Birmingham jail.  In the closing, King said the South would someday remember her heroes: “the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose, facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.” James Meredith is still alive today in Mississippi and largely shunned by experts for failing to maintain the reactionary political zeal that holds civil rights memory captive to one political ideology.  Meredith’s 2012 biography, “Mission from God,” stands as a powerful correction to the conventional secular and ideological narratives of how we should both remember and act upon race relations.  Civil rights heroes such as John Lewis need to remember the true calling of civil rights when confronted with the bi-partisan opportunity to stand with President Trump at the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum in Jackson.  Great non-partisan leaders like Reverend John Perkins continue to point us toward a better path.  As long as civil rights memory is used as a narrow ideological whipping post for Republicans, it is African-American men who will bear the brunt of ongoing injustice.  Meredith, Farmer, King, and Malcolm X all understood this dangerous jacobin end of spiraling partisan cynicism.  The 50 year anniversary of King’s assassination in the immediate aftermath of Easter, is an ideal time for a national reconsideration of our present path on race relations.  The conclusion of King’s last public words on the night of April 3—the eve of his assassination, are a compelling reminder of our eternal idealistic call for justice as seen through God’s eyes:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight.


I’m not worried about anything.


I’m not fearing any man!


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”

Dr. Ben Voth is an associate professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs and director of debate and speech at Southern Methodist University.  He recently co-authored a book on American politics with Dr. Robert Denton entitled Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy by Palgrave Macmillan (2017). 

March 4, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of what may arguably be the end of America’s second revolution:  the civil rights movement.  On March 4, 1968, Martin Luther was assassinated on the balcony of the Loraine Motel in Memphis.  The assassination was a jacobin fantasy long sought against King since the inception of his leadership efforts for civil rights beginning in 1956.  King’s assassination 50 years ago was perhaps an end of the community of the beloved and a non-violent effort to bring a stop to segregation and other overwhelming aspects of racism in the United States.  King’s efforts along with other leaders such as James Farmer, Jr. and James Meredith were increasingly sidelined by more militant efforts to reject American political conventions as articulated by men like Stokely Carmichael in his famous alternative to the non-violent movement expressed in the simple words:  “Black Power!” 50 years later, America needs more than ever a renaissance of the American civil rights movement. 

With the ascendancy of black power movements like the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, white participants in the civil rights movement were expelled.  The Christian, non-violent, and religious trappings of the movement were discarded and the partisan beliefs that blacks must claim for themselves the rights so long denied became dominant and entrenched.  Carmichael incited the counter movement when he co-opted James Meredith’s “March Against Fear.”  On June 16, 1966, Carmichael led the crowd in chants of “black power” and explained in Greenwood, Mississippi: “every courthouse in Mississippi ought to be burned down tomorrow to get rid of the dirt and the mess.” The idea of ‘burning it down’ has become a trademark of an Alinsky-inspired vision of riots and violent destruction across the nation.  Carmichael’s frustration tapped into an endless sea of anger all people feel at the pain of genuine injustice.  Academics have to a large extent fanned the flames of 50 years of black power fantasies by offering false hagiography of leaders such as Malcolm X.  In current re-tellings of the 1960s, Malcolm X is viewed as the path not taken versus King, and a militancy we should now embrace to reduce problems like police killings of innocent black men like Stephon Clark.  Malcolm’s last words, less than 24 hours after having his house bombed by jacobin radicals and one week before being assassinated himself, show a change of heart different from his present hagiography:  “I say again that I’m not a racist, I don’t believe in any form of segregation or anything like that. I’m for the brotherhood of everybody, but I don’t believe in forcing brotherhood upon people who don’t want it. Long as we practice brotherhood among ourselves, and then others who want to practice brotherhood with us, we practice it with them also, we’re for that. But I don’t think that we should run around trying to love somebody who doesn’t love us.”  Malcolm X’s repudiation of segregation and exit from the Nation of Islam was a diametrical change from his debates with James Farmer Jr. in 1962 and demonstrated a decisive break with the radical visions of NOI.  His change of heart came not long after civil rights workers James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.  Exasperated with the non-violent methods of his martyred brother within the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Ben Chaney joined the ranks of the Black Liberation Army in the 1970s.  This terrorist group was dedicated to violent revolution against racism within the United States.  Chaney went to jail for years after being caught running guns related to several murders committed by the group.  He has since renounced the path of violence he formerly embraced.

In 2018, we need a renaissance of the American civil rights movement.  They myth that confrontation, anger and neo-segregationism have not been tried sufficiently, needs to be seen for the 50-year failure it has been in American race relations.  The nation needs to re-discover King’s words at the conclusion of his letter from a Birmingham jail.  In the closing, King said the South would someday remember her heroes: “the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose, facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.” James Meredith is still alive today in Mississippi and largely shunned by experts for failing to maintain the reactionary political zeal that holds civil rights memory captive to one political ideology.  Meredith’s 2012 biography, “Mission from God,” stands as a powerful correction to the conventional secular and ideological narratives of how we should both remember and act upon race relations.  Civil rights heroes such as John Lewis need to remember the true calling of civil rights when confronted with the bi-partisan opportunity to stand with President Trump at the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum in Jackson.  Great non-partisan leaders like Reverend John Perkins continue to point us toward a better path.  As long as civil rights memory is used as a narrow ideological whipping post for Republicans, it is African-American men who will bear the brunt of ongoing injustice.  Meredith, Farmer, King, and Malcolm X all understood this dangerous jacobin end of spiraling partisan cynicism.  The 50 year anniversary of King’s assassination in the immediate aftermath of Easter, is an ideal time for a national reconsideration of our present path on race relations.  The conclusion of King’s last public words on the night of April 3—the eve of his assassination, are a compelling reminder of our eternal idealistic call for justice as seen through God’s eyes:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight.


I’m not worried about anything.


I’m not fearing any man!


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”

Dr. Ben Voth is an associate professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs and director of debate and speech at Southern Methodist University.  He recently co-authored a book on American politics with Dr. Robert Denton entitled Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy by Palgrave Macmillan (2017). 



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The Habits of IndigNation


Most Americans are now aware that we live in an essentially surreal political environment.  A concerted team of political reactionaries guides the national conversation from crisis to crisis, all the while demanding further expansions of federal government power and the repudiation of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  A special group of professional complainants has taken over. Let’s call it IndigNation.  Its members’ sense of “outrage” at every perceived slight and misinterpretation drives them into ever greater commitments to their increasingly autonomous IndigNation.

In IndigNation, there are no immigration laws.  In IndigNation, the president will be impeached.  In IndigNation, the opposition is known as the Alt-Right, white supremacists, and Nazis.  In IndigNation, the news is manufactured to fit the narrative.  In IndigNation, the enforcement of laws is conducted in agreement with the ideology of blue privilege.

At present, IndigNation has as its propaganda focus the deaths of 17 teachers and students in Broward County, Florida.  Their deaths can mean only one thing: more gun control.  IndigNation has had it.  Its members are fed up, and they will not take it anymore!  Rallies will commence, and the media cameras will be turned on, and the minders of social media will allow the narratives to coalesce around the grand theme of gun control.  The killer, Cruz, wore a “Make America Great Again” cap while he practiced with his firearm.  ABC News falsely reported that he was a member of a white nationalist group.  It all fits together for a mob mentality against the injustice of the crime.

IndigNation does not blame the government.  Only political figures seeking to limit the government are a threat and worthy of demise and removal.  President Trump is the unspeakable center of IndigNation’s rage.  IndigNation believes he stole the government from IndigNation’s rightful heir: Hillary Clinton.  She should be president!  He cheated in a conspiracy with the Russians to overthrow the politics of IndigNation.  President Trump, along with the NRA, wanted those children and teachers to die.  They have blood on their hands!

There is no reasonable limit to their rage.  What is wrong in their minds goes beyond reason.  Pure emotion must be unleashed, and what better rhetorical vehicle than “the children”?  They were so innocent, and the Enemy is so guilty.  This is the terminology that escalates and spirals.  “Thoughts and prayers” are a conspiracy against the innocent.  No one should say such things!  People who say Jesus speaks to them are mentally ill.

IndigNation is always ready and waiting for the next basis of rage.  Why should these people hate the president further?  Why should they distrust their fellow citizens with an ever deepening resentment?  These questions can be answered by watching CNN, NBC, ABC, Rachel Maddow, Hollywood movies, Jimmy Kimmel, and too many college professors.

In many respects, Broward County is the forced capital of IndigNation.  This is the county that unleashed the outrage of Bush v. Gore on the wings of butterfly ballots.  This is the home of “Jesus-stomping,” where a local professor asked students to write Jesus’s name on a piece of paper, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it.  When a student said “no,” the student was expelled.  The professor was an adjunct professor whose full-time job was leader of the Democratic Party for Broward County.  This is the home of Trayvon Martin and the NYT’s “white Hispanic,” George Zimmerman.  This is a community that helped lead the way on limiting the power of police to arrest high school students guilty of crimes.  In response to 2010 federal rules saying arrests were too frequent on high school campuses, school boards like Broward County’s began to discourage arrest, and police began to dismiss the evidence of serious crimes they found among these high school students.

Broward County is an epicenter of the kind of governing corruption that pervades the political preferences of IndigNation.  The gross favoritism to the corrupt and criminal over the faithful and innocent community of the beloved characterizes the political preferences of IndigNation.  #MeToo, unless your chief law enforcement officer rapes Juanita Broaddrick.  The FBI can enforce laws against foreign interference in elections, but it is too busy to be bothered with the expressed concerns of residents of Broward County who thought Cruz was going to commit a mass slaughter with guns.  Local authorities had more than 30 complaints against Cruz, and yet they could not seize Cruz the way they did his brother mere hours after 17 innocent people were killed at Parkland High School.

The governance of IndigNation is corrupt.  Those who run it know that this is true.  This is why there must be another crisis, another distraction, another spectatorship.  The spectacle will draw all eyes away from how government works – or does it?

These are the habits of IndigNation.  We all know its habits, but as individuals, we seem unable to arrest its work.

Thoughts and prayers to IndigNation.

Dr. Ben Voth is an associate professor of corporate communication and public affairs and director of debate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  He is the author of three recent academic books on the power of communication and argument to shape a better world.

Most Americans are now aware that we live in an essentially surreal political environment.  A concerted team of political reactionaries guides the national conversation from crisis to crisis, all the while demanding further expansions of federal government power and the repudiation of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  A special group of professional complainants has taken over. Let’s call it IndigNation.  Its members’ sense of “outrage” at every perceived slight and misinterpretation drives them into ever greater commitments to their increasingly autonomous IndigNation.

In IndigNation, there are no immigration laws.  In IndigNation, the president will be impeached.  In IndigNation, the opposition is known as the Alt-Right, white supremacists, and Nazis.  In IndigNation, the news is manufactured to fit the narrative.  In IndigNation, the enforcement of laws is conducted in agreement with the ideology of blue privilege.

At present, IndigNation has as its propaganda focus the deaths of 17 teachers and students in Broward County, Florida.  Their deaths can mean only one thing: more gun control.  IndigNation has had it.  Its members are fed up, and they will not take it anymore!  Rallies will commence, and the media cameras will be turned on, and the minders of social media will allow the narratives to coalesce around the grand theme of gun control.  The killer, Cruz, wore a “Make America Great Again” cap while he practiced with his firearm.  ABC News falsely reported that he was a member of a white nationalist group.  It all fits together for a mob mentality against the injustice of the crime.

IndigNation does not blame the government.  Only political figures seeking to limit the government are a threat and worthy of demise and removal.  President Trump is the unspeakable center of IndigNation’s rage.  IndigNation believes he stole the government from IndigNation’s rightful heir: Hillary Clinton.  She should be president!  He cheated in a conspiracy with the Russians to overthrow the politics of IndigNation.  President Trump, along with the NRA, wanted those children and teachers to die.  They have blood on their hands!

There is no reasonable limit to their rage.  What is wrong in their minds goes beyond reason.  Pure emotion must be unleashed, and what better rhetorical vehicle than “the children”?  They were so innocent, and the Enemy is so guilty.  This is the terminology that escalates and spirals.  “Thoughts and prayers” are a conspiracy against the innocent.  No one should say such things!  People who say Jesus speaks to them are mentally ill.

IndigNation is always ready and waiting for the next basis of rage.  Why should these people hate the president further?  Why should they distrust their fellow citizens with an ever deepening resentment?  These questions can be answered by watching CNN, NBC, ABC, Rachel Maddow, Hollywood movies, Jimmy Kimmel, and too many college professors.

In many respects, Broward County is the forced capital of IndigNation.  This is the county that unleashed the outrage of Bush v. Gore on the wings of butterfly ballots.  This is the home of “Jesus-stomping,” where a local professor asked students to write Jesus’s name on a piece of paper, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it.  When a student said “no,” the student was expelled.  The professor was an adjunct professor whose full-time job was leader of the Democratic Party for Broward County.  This is the home of Trayvon Martin and the NYT’s “white Hispanic,” George Zimmerman.  This is a community that helped lead the way on limiting the power of police to arrest high school students guilty of crimes.  In response to 2010 federal rules saying arrests were too frequent on high school campuses, school boards like Broward County’s began to discourage arrest, and police began to dismiss the evidence of serious crimes they found among these high school students.

Broward County is an epicenter of the kind of governing corruption that pervades the political preferences of IndigNation.  The gross favoritism to the corrupt and criminal over the faithful and innocent community of the beloved characterizes the political preferences of IndigNation.  #MeToo, unless your chief law enforcement officer rapes Juanita Broaddrick.  The FBI can enforce laws against foreign interference in elections, but it is too busy to be bothered with the expressed concerns of residents of Broward County who thought Cruz was going to commit a mass slaughter with guns.  Local authorities had more than 30 complaints against Cruz, and yet they could not seize Cruz the way they did his brother mere hours after 17 innocent people were killed at Parkland High School.

The governance of IndigNation is corrupt.  Those who run it know that this is true.  This is why there must be another crisis, another distraction, another spectatorship.  The spectacle will draw all eyes away from how government works – or does it?

These are the habits of IndigNation.  We all know its habits, but as individuals, we seem unable to arrest its work.

Thoughts and prayers to IndigNation.

Dr. Ben Voth is an associate professor of corporate communication and public affairs and director of debate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  He is the author of three recent academic books on the power of communication and argument to shape a better world.



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The Disingenuous Tax Cut Debate


One of the important drivers of political dysfunction in America is the dishonest framing of debates Americans need to observe. Among the many controversies misrepresented by the commentary class is the tax cut debate. At the heart of the misrepresentation is the “cost” of the tax cut. Tax cuts do not cost money and empirically, they are almost certain to increase revenue to the United States Federal government.

In the current debate, we are told as we have been told by the commentary class since at least the 1980s, that the tax cut will be costly. It will “cost” more than a trillion dollars. It will blow a hole in the deficit. This rhetoric fills newspaper articles designed to attack the tax cut as illegitimate and a plain political contradiction to the conservative conventions of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility. This turns the tax cut into a wedge device asking conservative Republicans to choose between party affiliation and philosophical fidelity. At the heart of this fallacious misrepresentation is an insidious civic assumption: all taxpayer money belongs to the government. Therefore, any failure to collect potential taxpayer assets is a “cost.” The government owns all and allows individuals to keep assets after it has discovered the true priorities for money in the economy. This all coming from a government that also has the power and freely practices the printing of money for its own ends beyond those found in the assets of the taxpayer. None of this prevents the commentary class from falsely intoning that the tax cut will cost the government.

Beyond the faulty assumption of who owns the money behind taxes, is the flawed analysis of what tax cuts do. Inevitably, the cost argument rests upon the expectation that tax cuts reduce revenue to the government every year they remain in effect. That makes sense since the rate of extraction from taxpayers is reduced by a percentage. However, tax cuts are not a theory. Tax cuts are a plain and clear empirical reality that we can observe. There are at least three important examples of tax cuts in U.S. fiscal history: the Kennedy tax cuts of the early 1960s, the Reagan tax cuts of the early 1980s and the Bush tax cuts of the early 21st century. What do those tax cuts demonstrate with regard to costs?

JFK as a democrat promised to cut taxes in the 1960 campaign for the Presidency. He got his wish with his election. Here are the facts on government revenue in millions of dollars for 1961-1963:

1961 – $94,388

1962 – $99,676

1963 – $106,560

The JFK tax cuts provide no empirical support for the contention that tax cuts reduce revenue or constitute a cost to the government or the public as a whole. Government revenues increased by more than 5 billion dollars each year which was a 5% increase in revenue each year. There is no observable decline in government revenues during the entire decade of the 1960s.

Reagan promised tax cuts in the 1980s and with his victory, cuts were implemented by 1982. The data for 1982-1987 gives us a fiscal picture for revenue into the federal government:

1982 – $617,766

1983 – $600,562

1984 – $666,438

1985 – $734,037

1986 – $769,155

1987 – $854,287

1988 – $909,238

Here the case for cost has some founding. Between 1982 and 1983, revenues declined by 17 billion dollars. That is a 2.8% decline in government revenue. In 1984, revenues surged well above 1982 levels. They increased by 11% and 66 billion dollars more than three times larger than the 1983 loss. The revenues to the USFG continued to move in a profoundly beneficial direction: 10% growth in 1985, 4.8% in 1986, 11% again in 1987, and finally 6% in 1988. Government revenues grew by more than 50% between 1983 and 1988. It was a staggering benefit to the coffers of the federal government.

George W. Bush promised to return government surpluses to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts in election 2000. By 2002, his tax cuts were law. The results are also clear:

2002 – $1,853,136

2003 – $1,782,314

2004 – $1,880,114

2005 – $2,153,611

2006 – $2,406,869

2007 – $2,567,985

Here again, we some indication of a cost in the first year of the tax cut. Government revenues declined by 5% in 2003. But again, the increase is 6% in 2004 and surpassing the revenues of 2002. There is a 14% increase in revenue in 2005. There is a 12% increase in revenue in 2006 followed by a 7% revenue increase in 2007. This is a 39% increase in government revenues over 5 years.

The data is clear and the debate can only be about the choices the Congress makes in spending taxpayer money — not in how it is raised in relation to tax cuts. The fact that Congress spends so recklessly is a fact understood by most voters but used to form the basis of faulty assumptions by the commentary class directing readers to the risk of “deficits” caused by tax cuts. In every case, one-year shortfalls are immediately erased and surpassed by revenues in the next year. In fact, it is rather extraordinary how much additional revenue has poured into government coffers since 1960.

The neo-Marxist assumption of the commentary class rarely focus their critical lenses on the world’s truly largest corporation: the United States Federal Government. Why should revenues not grow when the public is able to breathe the sigh of relief that this 4-trillion-dollar annually spending monstrosity might have encountered the fiscal limits symbolized by tax cuts? It is not surprising that private sector and consumer spending confidence rises in response. Tax cut legislation is rarely perfect and often inclusive of undue political favors. Nonetheless, constraints on the consumption habits of the largest corporation in the world leaves its involuntary contributors with a greater degree of freedom and liberty. The commentary class indicts any reduction in tax gathering power while ignoring spending abuses outside the Defense budget — probably the clearest Constitutional obligation of the Federal government. Take for example TARP 2008. The Temporary Asset Relief Program was ostensibly temporary. Because of a banking emergency — the Federal Government would temporarily provide roughly 3/4 of a trillion dollars to banks and GSEs. The spending was well more than 15% of all government spending. Did the spending budget of the USFG drop a corresponding 10-20% once the crisis passed? No. Does the commentary class think this is wrong? No. This rhetorical abuse has allowed the USFG to abound as “no good crisis goes to waste” in the words of former Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. Whatever the flaws of the current tax cut legislation, a reduction in revenue gathering power of the USFG is a step toward economic freedom that will reduce poverty here at home and abroad.

Dr. Ben Voth is an associate professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs and Director of Debate at Southern Methodist University. He is an advisor to the George W. Bush Institute and the Calvin Coolidge Debate fellow. He examines our current political struggles in a book with Dr. Robert Denton titled Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy [Palgrave Macmillan-2017].

One of the important drivers of political dysfunction in America is the dishonest framing of debates Americans need to observe. Among the many controversies misrepresented by the commentary class is the tax cut debate. At the heart of the misrepresentation is the “cost” of the tax cut. Tax cuts do not cost money and empirically, they are almost certain to increase revenue to the United States Federal government.

In the current debate, we are told as we have been told by the commentary class since at least the 1980s, that the tax cut will be costly. It will “cost” more than a trillion dollars. It will blow a hole in the deficit. This rhetoric fills newspaper articles designed to attack the tax cut as illegitimate and a plain political contradiction to the conservative conventions of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility. This turns the tax cut into a wedge device asking conservative Republicans to choose between party affiliation and philosophical fidelity. At the heart of this fallacious misrepresentation is an insidious civic assumption: all taxpayer money belongs to the government. Therefore, any failure to collect potential taxpayer assets is a “cost.” The government owns all and allows individuals to keep assets after it has discovered the true priorities for money in the economy. This all coming from a government that also has the power and freely practices the printing of money for its own ends beyond those found in the assets of the taxpayer. None of this prevents the commentary class from falsely intoning that the tax cut will cost the government.

Beyond the faulty assumption of who owns the money behind taxes, is the flawed analysis of what tax cuts do. Inevitably, the cost argument rests upon the expectation that tax cuts reduce revenue to the government every year they remain in effect. That makes sense since the rate of extraction from taxpayers is reduced by a percentage. However, tax cuts are not a theory. Tax cuts are a plain and clear empirical reality that we can observe. There are at least three important examples of tax cuts in U.S. fiscal history: the Kennedy tax cuts of the early 1960s, the Reagan tax cuts of the early 1980s and the Bush tax cuts of the early 21st century. What do those tax cuts demonstrate with regard to costs?

JFK as a democrat promised to cut taxes in the 1960 campaign for the Presidency. He got his wish with his election. Here are the facts on government revenue in millions of dollars for 1961-1963:

1961 – $94,388

1962 – $99,676

1963 – $106,560

The JFK tax cuts provide no empirical support for the contention that tax cuts reduce revenue or constitute a cost to the government or the public as a whole. Government revenues increased by more than 5 billion dollars each year which was a 5% increase in revenue each year. There is no observable decline in government revenues during the entire decade of the 1960s.

Reagan promised tax cuts in the 1980s and with his victory, cuts were implemented by 1982. The data for 1982-1987 gives us a fiscal picture for revenue into the federal government:

1982 – $617,766

1983 – $600,562

1984 – $666,438

1985 – $734,037

1986 – $769,155

1987 – $854,287

1988 – $909,238

Here the case for cost has some founding. Between 1982 and 1983, revenues declined by 17 billion dollars. That is a 2.8% decline in government revenue. In 1984, revenues surged well above 1982 levels. They increased by 11% and 66 billion dollars more than three times larger than the 1983 loss. The revenues to the USFG continued to move in a profoundly beneficial direction: 10% growth in 1985, 4.8% in 1986, 11% again in 1987, and finally 6% in 1988. Government revenues grew by more than 50% between 1983 and 1988. It was a staggering benefit to the coffers of the federal government.

George W. Bush promised to return government surpluses to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts in election 2000. By 2002, his tax cuts were law. The results are also clear:

2002 – $1,853,136

2003 – $1,782,314

2004 – $1,880,114

2005 – $2,153,611

2006 – $2,406,869

2007 – $2,567,985

Here again, we some indication of a cost in the first year of the tax cut. Government revenues declined by 5% in 2003. But again, the increase is 6% in 2004 and surpassing the revenues of 2002. There is a 14% increase in revenue in 2005. There is a 12% increase in revenue in 2006 followed by a 7% revenue increase in 2007. This is a 39% increase in government revenues over 5 years.

The data is clear and the debate can only be about the choices the Congress makes in spending taxpayer money — not in how it is raised in relation to tax cuts. The fact that Congress spends so recklessly is a fact understood by most voters but used to form the basis of faulty assumptions by the commentary class directing readers to the risk of “deficits” caused by tax cuts. In every case, one-year shortfalls are immediately erased and surpassed by revenues in the next year. In fact, it is rather extraordinary how much additional revenue has poured into government coffers since 1960.

The neo-Marxist assumption of the commentary class rarely focus their critical lenses on the world’s truly largest corporation: the United States Federal Government. Why should revenues not grow when the public is able to breathe the sigh of relief that this 4-trillion-dollar annually spending monstrosity might have encountered the fiscal limits symbolized by tax cuts? It is not surprising that private sector and consumer spending confidence rises in response. Tax cut legislation is rarely perfect and often inclusive of undue political favors. Nonetheless, constraints on the consumption habits of the largest corporation in the world leaves its involuntary contributors with a greater degree of freedom and liberty. The commentary class indicts any reduction in tax gathering power while ignoring spending abuses outside the Defense budget — probably the clearest Constitutional obligation of the Federal government. Take for example TARP 2008. The Temporary Asset Relief Program was ostensibly temporary. Because of a banking emergency — the Federal Government would temporarily provide roughly 3/4 of a trillion dollars to banks and GSEs. The spending was well more than 15% of all government spending. Did the spending budget of the USFG drop a corresponding 10-20% once the crisis passed? No. Does the commentary class think this is wrong? No. This rhetorical abuse has allowed the USFG to abound as “no good crisis goes to waste” in the words of former Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. Whatever the flaws of the current tax cut legislation, a reduction in revenue gathering power of the USFG is a step toward economic freedom that will reduce poverty here at home and abroad.

Dr. Ben Voth is an associate professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs and Director of Debate at Southern Methodist University. He is an advisor to the George W. Bush Institute and the Calvin Coolidge Debate fellow. He examines our current political struggles in a book with Dr. Robert Denton titled Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy [Palgrave Macmillan-2017].



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How many Americans does Obamacare kill each day?


In 2015, something unexpected and unusual happened to the United States. For the first time since 1993, life expectancy in the United States declined. The decline was significant and extensive. Life expectancy is one of the most basic indicators of human health and the United States is one of the most advanced nations in the world. The decline should be causing a careful consideration of its causes and potential solutions. This is largely being ignored by our intellectual leadership for a rather obvious reason: the Affordable Care Act that promised to make health insurance more affordable and available for Americans. Recognizing the most important achievement of the Obama administration and its potential role in declining health outcomes for Americans is an important investigation.

The problems with the law did not prevent late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel from making the fallacious appeal that his young baby would die without ObamaCare. Anyone who tries to discuss the ACA knows that the most innocent and vulnerable person we can imagine (except for an unborn child) will die if we criticize and otherwise alter the Affordable Care Act. We need to employ reasonable critical thinking skills that are under such constant attack on college campuses, to reverse the decline in life expectancy in the United States. 

The Affordable Care Act came into legislative existence in 2010 and has increased its influence over health care delivery in the United States every year since. At the heart are mandates that every American purchase health insurance. Defenders of the ACA proudly boast that at least an additional 10 million Americans have gained health insurance with the addition of the law. Some have gone as far as extrapolating how this has saved life. If this is true, why has life expectancy declined so dramatically? The problem is significant.

The Washington Post provides a sense of the danger in December 2016:

“For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year — a troubling development linked to a panoply of worsening health problems in the United States.


Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death. “I think we should be very concerned,” said Princeton economist Anne Case, who called for thorough research on the increase in deaths from heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States. “This is singular. This doesn’t happen.””

The abrupt conclusion of the Post article is a clue of how we are not allowed to refute or criticize the ACA or other progressive political acts: “Meara noted that more people need better health care but that “the health-care system is only a part of health.” Income inequality, nutrition differences, and lingering unemployment all need to be addressed, she said.” The last sentence is the only clue that the Washington Post thought maybe the American health care system would have something to do with dramatic increases in death rates for American due to a variety of diseases ranging from heart disease to diabetes and pneumonia. Eight of the ten leading causes of death for Americans showed increases in mortality for Americans. This is rather important to demonstrate how health care has collapsed. In 1993, when life expectancy last declined, HIV was ravaging Americans with such consequence that its singular effects were profound and yet still largely difficult to combat through medicine. All the things killing Americans in 2015 are treatable and can be reduced. Overall, the New York Times concedes that more than 85,000 deaths resulted from this decline in American health in 2015 alone. This translates to more than 230 Americans a day who may be dying as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Again, the New York Times was completely unwilling to scrutinize the ObamaCare as a potential cause even though it the most significant national change to the health care in our country since Medicare and Medicaid.

How might ObamaCare harm American health care?

The ACA has raised deductibles and premiums for Americans. Both of these factors can work to reduce incentives to seek medical care. These effects would well explain the lack of popularity for ObamaCare. Americans who were not able to keep a doctor they were familiar with or the health care plan they already understood could be refusing to seek the medical care they need. All of this is speculation because not only do the New York Times, ABC News, and the Washington Post refuse to investigate the adverse effects of the ACA, they actively work to refute criticism of the law.

ObamaCare also has profound effects of regulation that are likely damaging our medical innovations. Taxes on medical devices dampen innovation. Regulations on what insurance companies must cover complicate the process whereby doctors treat patients. This interference in the doctor/patient relationship demoralizes both doctors and patients and diminishes American health care. Doctors are more likely to quit the calling of medicine and patients are demoralized by the lack of options alongside byzantine insurance demands. The mandate regarding pre-existing conditions discourages the purchase of health care insurance as well. Knowing that insurers cannot discriminate against individuals with prior medical conditions means that, especially for young people and apparently healthy people, buying health insurance is an unwise diversion of monthly income that is greater than the tax penalties for refusing to buy insurance. Little is said about this disincentive to health insurance purchases.

The ACA also dampened economic growth in the United States by encouraging employees to be demoted to less than full-time status and punishing businesses that have more than 49 employees. The sluggish economic growth from 2010 to 2016 factored into the demoralized flyover nation that does not receive the same quality of medical care as the politically preferred coasts. Suicides, accidental deaths, and drug abuse are all important drivers to accelerating death rates. Americans continued to spend more than $9,000 a year on health care — more than any other nation by far, and yet this spending has failed them. A breakdown of life expectancy by state shows that the states voting for Clinton have better health care results — something some commentators note with cynical delight. The idea of killing Trump voters has a cynical ring to the Jacobin ranks of the American left. The Washington Post was again early to this subtle call for passive violence against Trump voters. The problem seemed to be that Trump voters were not dying fast enough.

What can be done?

The most important thing that can be done is for our intellectual culture to stop worshipping the politically sacred cow that is the Affordable Care Act. Careful reconsideration of ObamaCare could save hundreds of lives everyday in the United States. The Washington Post is right — or maybe we should say Left — “Democracy dies in darkness.” Bringing light to the ACA’s role in reducing American life expectancy could go a long way toward not only revitalizing our democracy with a free press, but also saving American lives. We need a discursively complex society that can reconsider its most cherished ideological assumptions. We need to think critically about the defects of our ACA driven health care system. 

Ben Voth is an associate professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs and Director of Debate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. 

In 2015, something unexpected and unusual happened to the United States. For the first time since 1993, life expectancy in the United States declined. The decline was significant and extensive. Life expectancy is one of the most basic indicators of human health and the United States is one of the most advanced nations in the world. The decline should be causing a careful consideration of its causes and potential solutions. This is largely being ignored by our intellectual leadership for a rather obvious reason: the Affordable Care Act that promised to make health insurance more affordable and available for Americans. Recognizing the most important achievement of the Obama administration and its potential role in declining health outcomes for Americans is an important investigation.

The problems with the law did not prevent late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel from making the fallacious appeal that his young baby would die without ObamaCare. Anyone who tries to discuss the ACA knows that the most innocent and vulnerable person we can imagine (except for an unborn child) will die if we criticize and otherwise alter the Affordable Care Act. We need to employ reasonable critical thinking skills that are under such constant attack on college campuses, to reverse the decline in life expectancy in the United States. 

The Affordable Care Act came into legislative existence in 2010 and has increased its influence over health care delivery in the United States every year since. At the heart are mandates that every American purchase health insurance. Defenders of the ACA proudly boast that at least an additional 10 million Americans have gained health insurance with the addition of the law. Some have gone as far as extrapolating how this has saved life. If this is true, why has life expectancy declined so dramatically? The problem is significant.

The Washington Post provides a sense of the danger in December 2016:

“For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year — a troubling development linked to a panoply of worsening health problems in the United States.


Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death. “I think we should be very concerned,” said Princeton economist Anne Case, who called for thorough research on the increase in deaths from heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States. “This is singular. This doesn’t happen.””

The abrupt conclusion of the Post article is a clue of how we are not allowed to refute or criticize the ACA or other progressive political acts: “Meara noted that more people need better health care but that “the health-care system is only a part of health.” Income inequality, nutrition differences, and lingering unemployment all need to be addressed, she said.” The last sentence is the only clue that the Washington Post thought maybe the American health care system would have something to do with dramatic increases in death rates for American due to a variety of diseases ranging from heart disease to diabetes and pneumonia. Eight of the ten leading causes of death for Americans showed increases in mortality for Americans. This is rather important to demonstrate how health care has collapsed. In 1993, when life expectancy last declined, HIV was ravaging Americans with such consequence that its singular effects were profound and yet still largely difficult to combat through medicine. All the things killing Americans in 2015 are treatable and can be reduced. Overall, the New York Times concedes that more than 85,000 deaths resulted from this decline in American health in 2015 alone. This translates to more than 230 Americans a day who may be dying as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Again, the New York Times was completely unwilling to scrutinize the ObamaCare as a potential cause even though it the most significant national change to the health care in our country since Medicare and Medicaid.

How might ObamaCare harm American health care?

The ACA has raised deductibles and premiums for Americans. Both of these factors can work to reduce incentives to seek medical care. These effects would well explain the lack of popularity for ObamaCare. Americans who were not able to keep a doctor they were familiar with or the health care plan they already understood could be refusing to seek the medical care they need. All of this is speculation because not only do the New York Times, ABC News, and the Washington Post refuse to investigate the adverse effects of the ACA, they actively work to refute criticism of the law.

ObamaCare also has profound effects of regulation that are likely damaging our medical innovations. Taxes on medical devices dampen innovation. Regulations on what insurance companies must cover complicate the process whereby doctors treat patients. This interference in the doctor/patient relationship demoralizes both doctors and patients and diminishes American health care. Doctors are more likely to quit the calling of medicine and patients are demoralized by the lack of options alongside byzantine insurance demands. The mandate regarding pre-existing conditions discourages the purchase of health care insurance as well. Knowing that insurers cannot discriminate against individuals with prior medical conditions means that, especially for young people and apparently healthy people, buying health insurance is an unwise diversion of monthly income that is greater than the tax penalties for refusing to buy insurance. Little is said about this disincentive to health insurance purchases.

The ACA also dampened economic growth in the United States by encouraging employees to be demoted to less than full-time status and punishing businesses that have more than 49 employees. The sluggish economic growth from 2010 to 2016 factored into the demoralized flyover nation that does not receive the same quality of medical care as the politically preferred coasts. Suicides, accidental deaths, and drug abuse are all important drivers to accelerating death rates. Americans continued to spend more than $9,000 a year on health care — more than any other nation by far, and yet this spending has failed them. A breakdown of life expectancy by state shows that the states voting for Clinton have better health care results — something some commentators note with cynical delight. The idea of killing Trump voters has a cynical ring to the Jacobin ranks of the American left. The Washington Post was again early to this subtle call for passive violence against Trump voters. The problem seemed to be that Trump voters were not dying fast enough.

What can be done?

The most important thing that can be done is for our intellectual culture to stop worshipping the politically sacred cow that is the Affordable Care Act. Careful reconsideration of ObamaCare could save hundreds of lives everyday in the United States. The Washington Post is right — or maybe we should say Left — “Democracy dies in darkness.” Bringing light to the ACA’s role in reducing American life expectancy could go a long way toward not only revitalizing our democracy with a free press, but also saving American lives. We need a discursively complex society that can reconsider its most cherished ideological assumptions. We need to think critically about the defects of our ACA driven health care system. 

Ben Voth is an associate professor of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs and Director of Debate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. 



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