Comments On “Comments”: An “06880” Plea

Sunday’s “06880” post — based on a reader’s request for insights into the Westport and Weston school systems — elicited plenty of reasoned, insightful and well-written responses. The online discussion was thoughtful, nuanced and robust.

Lately, that’s a rarity.

The “Comments” section here too often resembles the Wild West — not Westport.

This rendering of the new Y unleashed a torrent of hostility -- much of it anonymous.

This rendering of the new Y unleashed a torrent of hostility — much of it anonymous.

Everyone knows that every Westporter has an opinion about everything. Taxes, education, transportation, downtown, infrastructure, recreation, Winslow Park, Baron’s South — if it exists, we’re experts on it.

One of the reasons I started “06880” nearly 4 years ago was to be able to express my opinions about my hometown.

And to give everyone else — those who grew up here, live here now, or somehow wander through this town (or site) — a chance to express theirs, too.

One of the founding tenets of “06880” was that anonymous comments were okay. The First Amendment is a powerful force (though it does not apply to private blogs), and from the beginning readers took advantage of the option for anonymity to toss in their 2 cents’ worth.

Some were private citizens, eager to talk but worried what their friends and neighbors might think. Others were town officials, happy for a chance to chime in without bringing their names and titles into the discussion.

But — month by month, year by year — the thoughtful anonymous commenters have been elbowed aside by trolls. Bozos. Haters.

Troll -- or "06880" commenter?

Troll — or “06880” commenter?

Those are not my descriptions. They’re yours — expressed to me in emails, by readers frustrated that the comments section has devolved into a mud pit of finger-pointing, name-calling and real nastiness.

I have always responded the same way to those emails: “I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. I don’t like what some people say, but I defend their right to say it. I’m keeping the ‘anonymous’ option open.”

Three recent stories, though — two on gun control (right after Newtown, and on Monday), the other on the Y (really, just 3 architectural drawings of the new building) — may be a tipping point.

Scott Smith — who always comments using his real name, alias-sounding though it is — emailed me:

I know you don’t agree, but I think the policy of allowing anonymous posters devalues what has become a vital community resource.

I know full well the online trusim that uninhibited commenting results in an inexorable drive to the lowest common denominators among us. Trolls, crackpots, hatemongers and the uninformed always come to dominate and ultimately drive out the more insightful people who might wish to add their views.

I see it as a shame as I, perhaps naively, wish for more enlightened discussion among a group I willingly choose to be a part of. But who wants to 1) stoop to their level, 2) get attacked personally, or 3) engage in an unfair debate?

Not me, and it seems, increasingly, many other loyal, intelligent denizens of “06880.” Though many of your own items are wonderfully insightful and uplifting, the comments on your blog are all too often just the opposite.

Scott noted that when he argued in the comments section for a policy in which commenters could use pseudonyms only with my blessing, and for a reason, he was attacked by an anonymous person — and his place of employment cited.

He said — and others have, too — that serious commenters no longer contribute their thoughts. They’ve been driven away by the level of vitriol.

Another commenter who believes "06880" is Number One.

Another commenter who believes “06880” is Number One.

Scott acknowledges that “the unbridled free-for-all of anonymous commenting can be fun and liberating. Certainly revealing. I know you like a certain amount of free-spirited rabble-rousing.

“But like most libertarian exercises, the end result is usually excess, anarchy and ultimately negative consequences. Sadly, we are not an altogether enlightened species. Too often, dumb and dumber triumph over good and gooder.”

Scott admits he’ll “probably keep checking in on ‘06880’ every day. There is too much good stuff on it, from you and occasionally from others.” But he may not check the comments.

Or, he says, “I may join the dark side and start posting anonymously. (I bet I would be vicious.)”

Neither solution is appealing, he says. So he turns to me for the answer.

Thanks a lot.

I’m not sure of the solution. Personally approving every comment would take far too much time — and because of the lag, it would kill the real-time conversation that can make a blog like this so valuable.

I could ban certain commenters. Again, more work for me. (And not foolproof.)

I could require names. But I’ve seen blogs that do that, and the discussions on them are about as lively as a Trappist monastery.

This is not how I want to spend my time.

This is not how I want to spend my time.

I could sweep through the comments section every so often, deleting those I deem overly nasty, personal, unsubstatiated or whatever. But that too takes time. Plus the comments would already have been seen. Plus it seems way too school-marmish for me.

There may be a way to have commenters register, with their names and emails, before posting. It’s an extra step or 2 for the commenters — though time they could use to compose their thoughts logically, perhaps? — but that’s not foolproof either. It’s not always easy verifying which names are real.

So maybe the burden isn’t on me after all. Maybe it’s on you. Maybe, as we head into a new year, readers’ resolutions should be to call off the attack dogs. To play nice. To use your inside voices.

I want the “comments” section to remain an important part of “06880.” I want this online community to really feel like a community — not a dysfunctional family. I want, above all, to keep allowing people to comment.

But I may not be able to. My new year’s resolution is to not get another email like the one I got from Scott Smith.

Or the many similar ones I got before his, from readers who no longer feel welcome at “06880.”

225 responses to “Comments On “Comments”: An “06880” Plea

  1. Suggestion: if you install the “log on with Facebook” social plug in on your site users can log on with their authentic Facebook names– simpler for users than a 2-step sign in. Real identity may help promote more respectful and productive dialog.

    • Noooooooooooooooooooooooo…….


      Facebook is blocked here at work!

      Don’t do it Dan!


    • Based on the various things Facebook does to destroy privacy, tying anything to Facebook would be a massive mistake.

  2. George Washington

    How about the people who don’t have a Facebook account? I’m old school.

  3. Well, Dan — since I love your blog, and your spirit about preserving all the good in Westport, and cringe as I drive around each summer to see so much changing, I’ll chime in my two cents. It’s fine for those to say, “use your own name or no posting.” I did that some years ago here quite innocently and genuinely interested with a question for you about Westport, and got slammed so viciously, by people who know nothing about me that was truly shocking. Saying I had nothing better to do — wanting attention??? Oh really??? 60 hour per week recruiting job, raising a teenager, newly remarried?? I had no life?? Really??? I have a rich full life and just loved my old childhood town. A lot of old crony ignorant assumptions that are not easily forgotten in that out of the blue attack. Having differing opinions is fine, vitriolic attack is not at anytime so you all should check your comments before you click “post.” Not the Westport I knew and loved growing up in 60’s/early 70’s where civility meant something, and it was about a bunch of Westport cronies or a good ole boy network sitting around waiting to pick off the latest new bird. It was truly a horrible experience and hence, always use different names now.

    That being said, I’ve also been one of those to be vocal about the unnecessary vocabulary used here “stop your whining,” for one, name calling, etc. Grow up! People are whining if they simply disagree with you??? Oh really?? Since when?? Your first grade class? I’m not a prude but calling people “horse’s ass??” Really, on a public blog?? Really? Westport used to be better than that and what are you teaching your children?

    Hope this works because the comment section here has deteriorated for some time now, and not fun discourse but downright nasty many times and Dan’s blog deserves more. I enjoy keeping up with the news.

    • I’m curious – were the people speaking to you so rudely doing so with their name, or anonymously? I think people think twice before being rude if they have to out their name on a message.

      • As I remember from a few years ago, it seemed some used real names and most of the others used pseudo names. It was really quite something. Never really had an experience quite like that and haven’t since, and I’m a believer in using one’s real name normally but… not here. I still very much enjoy 06880 and will continue to do so — not being intimidated from enjoying things on the planet I enjoy. Lived too long to be scared off that easily.

  4. Richard Lawrence Stein

    It’s interesting… My very precocious 12 year old niece wrote a letter to politicians during the campaigns to stop bullying each other. If our political heads were in school they would all be in trouble for their bad behavior. Out of mouths of babes. In many instances this blog has become a bully pulpit of similar discontent. Many would be in detention at any given school in Westport, because there is a no tolerance policy on bullying. Stop the bullying. Present your opinion. Do Not call people names, agree to disagree, and try to be civil.

  5. John McCarthy

    You might want to look at using a different platform for your Comments. is one I would recommend. Works well with WP. It allows the community to vote comments up or down and it allows editing and deleting of comments by the original poster, a feature that can help improve the overall tone. I know it is something I wou,d have liked t have over the years :).

    • John McCarthy

      See, I would love to correct that typo.

      • does not work with — only is entirely different (and much more work for the blogmaster, unfortunately.)

        I can fix typos. People often ask me to do that, and I oblige.

  6. Another citizen

    Just make your comment and end it there! I love reading 06880 because it really keeps me in touch with what’s going on around town. I usually post anonymously because I work for the town and feel it’s safer for my job that way. I prefer to skip the nasty, hateful comments and do just that!!!!
    Have a nice day.

  7. So Dan, you mean his “Internet thingie” is not quite what it was made out to be? 🙂 Sadly, “flame wars” or mud slinging will exist no matter what you do or try to monitor.

    I am a Facebook user, butI refuse to let any portal use FB to login. I am not comtorble with their privacy/Terms of Service.

  8. Mary Ruggiero

    Since, I assume that you, Dan, have access to the real names/accounts of posters, is there any way for you to delete posts or ban posters who continually engage in uncivil liberties?

    • I do not have access to the real names of posters, if they sign in anonymously. I can ban posters, though that’s not foolproof. I can also delete posts. I’ve only done that 4 or 5 times (and there have been over 27,000 in total), when they were clearly defamatory or grotesquely offensive (blaming someone for his own death). Much as I do not want to, I may have to start deleting posts that are bullying in nature, that make unfounded or unsubstantiated attacks, etc. Any thoughts on that one, “06880” readers?

      • Mary Ruggiero

        It would be an unfortunate step to delete posts but in some cases a necessary one. Being responsible for what you say is part of having the right to say it!

        • THANKS, Mary. I like the way you phrase that. I am trying to do several things: 1) make sure everyone feels welcome at “06880”; 2) maintain a robust comments section, in which people are able to express opinions and share ideas, and 3) allow anonymity, which in theory should help achieve #2 above. Sometimes those goals contradict each other. That’s why I’m appealing — perhaps naively — to the better angels of our blog community.

  9. Bart Shuldman

    Dan. You should be proud that you have maintained free speech which no matter what, is a blessing here in the US. While some try to take advantage of it, free speech separates us from every other place on this Earth. We should all hold our nose when it might be abused or wrong but maintain our appreciation of a free society.

  10. Angela McKelvey

    Enjoy 06880 so much,Dan,especially since I moved to Oronoque Village 21/2 ys ago after living in Westport 75 yrs. It’s a link to warmth,familarity and love of my old home town! Angie Arcudi McKelvey

  11. Angela McKelvey

    Sorry,Dan,I meant two and 1/2 yrs ago, Angie

  12. Facebook is definitely not the answer. Definitely not.

    Is it possible to have a firewall that blocks certain words? I assume it is, because I used to have some pretty strange experiences with a publication for which I was a contributor (blocking “lust” meant any article with “luster” got bounced back to the sender, and you can imagine what happened if you wrote about a person from Middlesex or Essex).

    It would be nice if you had a block for the word “Anonymous.” Many of the worst comments come from various people using that “name,” the overlap gets confusing, and requiring people to at least make the effort to come up with a more distinctive name might diffuse their nastiness. No, of course, it won’t. But anyway.

    • Hey, Jake, I’m not sure that’s the answer either. The “Comment” form says, quite clearly, “If you’re posting anonymously, please choose a pseudonym!” Many commenters don’t even have the courtesy to follow that advice.

      Some of the most odious comments on Monday’s gun control post came from someone calling himself “The liberal mind – No logic, Just squishy feelings and herd mentality.” He was responsible for 24 of the 76 comments on that story, until — for the first time in “06880” history — I closed comments on that thread. He was nasty all day long, particularly to people posting using their real names.

  13. Mary Ruggiero

    It would be an unfortunate step to delete posts, but in some cases a necessary one. Being responsible for what you say is part of your right to say it.

  14. There are plenty of folks here using their real names or a name who are just as nasty — not just “anonymous” posters. So how would that work? It’s about time this issue on 06880 blog was addressed head on with some real solutions. The info 06880 presents each day is to valuable, interesting, a good read with morning coffee for many.. I enjoy reading the actual blog every day with my coffee. Westport is a town of 26K people. I remember when we lived there — there was hardly a time one did not bump into one’s neighbors and/or school/work friends at the beach or downtown or out to eat. I’m sure it’s still much that same way. How do you all face each other after these attacks here? It’s a small town and you need to protect the town from imploding on itself with this kind of stuff.

    I think Dan is correct here today– it’s not his job to police adults but it is the responsibility of anyone who posts comments on this blog — search your own hearts before you click “post.” If there’s that much darkness lurking in the hearts of some folks attached to Westport to spew out all of that nastiness and attack — all this blog does is hold the mirror up and you all who are posting this vitriolic stuff need to take a good look at what’s going on in your own hearts — ESPECIALLY for future generations of Westporters and beyond. Some of us think it’s becoming unrecognizable now? Just wait.

  15. Sank T. Monious

    Dan, without admitting blame, let us all agree to exhibit a little more self-control going forward. You are the George Bailey of Westport and your life has been a wonderful life for all of us. Let us attempt to return the favor.

  16. Your reasons for allowing anonymous posts are exactly correct. I would never use my real/full name here (or posting anywhere) solely because my employer would prefer that anyone associated with the company not make any comment on an social network/blog that anyone on the face of the earth might consider at all controversial (e.g. any side of the tax/spending debate) thus possibly bringing attention to them.

    That said, even when I disagree with someone, I try to keep it civil though, to some, the simple act of disagreeing and/or trying to engage in civil discourse is viewed as an attack.

  17. The tone of the article often sets the tone for the responses, but not always. If you go back and look at the instances where comments have jumped off the rails, they were predictable for the most part. There are certain topics that provoke hostilities, especially when raised in a manner calculated to stimulate heat rather than light. (There are other topics that stimulate no comments.) You can avoid those topics, but then what would be the point of the blog, or the same topics can be raised with a different voice. Ultimately, stuff happens. I have seen it on other blogs. The wider your audience, the more likely it is any given topic will stimulate over the top responses.

    • No topic — no matter how it’s written with some heat or not — should give good people a “reason” to go off the rails with their responses into crazy land. Someone can write something I totally disagree with anywhere, anytime, any way, and I would make sure my responses were carefully crafted, measured with some good will, care for the topic and the people, and no name calling, crudeness, cruelty, etc. Stuff doesn’t just “happen.” People make extremely poor choices — things they can never take back — and they, the people make things happen. It doesn’t happen all by itself in a vacuum.

      In healthy, smart, educated communities, supposedly, people can and are capable of checking themselves first before posting venom and cruelty. Especially a community such as Westport. The topics and manner in which they are raised in a blog are not the instigator of off the rail responses — the people posting those responses are solely responsible for their emotions and responses — not the blog. If a blog merely asks that we think about a subject that’s controversial — then that’s what we can do if we choose to read the blog and participate — think and then contribute responsibly and respectfully and with care for others.

      • Thank you for your opinion, but I disagree. Your agrument amounts to a claim that what is written has no ability to stir emotions. What is the purpose of writing then? Moreover, the evidence does not support your beliefs; the comments on this blog represent a reality that contradicts your hypothesis.

    • The most recent “gun control” story was a straight-forward report on an agenda item the RTM will consider. The Y story was a straight-forward report on 3 artists’ renderings of the new building. Both elicited venom and fury.

      • The RTM agenda article follwed this article:
        “Dave Stalling: The NRA Doesn’t Kill People (But They Sure Do Their Part)”

        When you accuse people of killing others; do you expect a calm reasoned reasponse?

        Unfortunately, any story about the new Y stimulates very deep feelings, but this is not the first time a story about the new Y did so. My guess is, the next article about the new Y will do the same.

        • But, Emma, isn’t there a difference between outright venom, and simply saying, “The new building seems to be too big/blocky/whatever for my taste”?

          • Yes of course. But as you can see, each article about the Y seems to produce coments with the same tone. Bring up Barons South, Development of Downtown (in any of its many guises), McMansions, and any on a list familiar items and you will get responses in the same vein. Why is a matter for conjecture, but the reality is eveident.

          • EXACTLY. And why do deep feelings about an issue have to elicit attacks and name calling vs. good and lively debate that’s respectful, yet one is allowed one’s pov? Things can even get a bit heated but… Doesn’t Staples have a good debating team? That’s what debates in an academic atmosphere teaches early on in life, hopefully. All done in the spirit of finding solutions and compromise to live together better in a healthy society. We all have deep feelings about our roots, our towns, our beliefs, where our money goes. I think this is an effort to have a healthier online community at 06880 and maybe beyond.

            If one is a member of a club, church, town, or whatever, unless we all just stop interacting with one another face-to-face altogether, you will have differing pov’s. Does that mean that technology has finally won out over civility? That one can hide behind one’s computer or smart phone vs. sit down face-to-face and say these things no matter what the consequence which they will never witness after it slips out of their fingers (mouths)? I hope not. 06880 is a community just like any other club, school, church, etc. and those participating need to follow the same ground rules as if all were sitting around in the same room having coffee together every day. If one would witness anther’s face as one name calls or attacks one, 90% of the vitriol would be stopped here. Guaranteed.

            • You are making normative statements; I am merely trying to point to a reality. Maybe we should all learn to live in a world where the tone of public policy debates is acrimonious.

              I don’t think your concept of “community” is accurate; once upon a time perhaps, but no longer. A “community” has shared values; we no longer have shared values and the comments made here are consistent with that view.

              • Emma again

                • Also, have to say, I’m not addressing public policy debates here on 06880. Let those debates go on in Town Hall and people’s feeling on issues be here as safe venue. There have been issues discussed here that are personal interest stories where people have been maligned, attacked, etc. Just so unnecessary and for what purpose? And don’t agree that public policy debates have to be so acrimonious as they are now — i.e. our Speaker’s latest remarks — sign of greatness of a man or of our nation? — I don’t think so. How’s that working for our messed up world so far? Why aren’t we even trying to be better?

                  • You are choosing sides, which is fair enough, but once you do so, the other side may see your comments as nothing more than partisanship. As for trying to be better; not likely, look who we elect year after year to represent us.

                    • Actually, not knowing me, you may be surprised at my politics and I actually agree with you that voting in the status quo every 4 years is sinking us. I have not chosen sides but am addressing an individual’s behavior that was in the news this morning that mirrors behaviors in our society. I’m on the side of right and good behaviors with an unselfish motive for serving — not what we have now. For an elected official to go on public record saying what he did is not what any I voted for — immature behaviors — not a party. It could have been someone from the other side reported in the news this am and I would have said the same thing. I think we need a redo as far as gov’t is concerned. A clean sweep and a redo.

                    • I am not sure the remarks were on the record, but i understand your point. When we vote we reveal our preferences; we must like the way things are.

              • Actually I meant “exactly” to Dan. But the posting here is pretty fast this am. I hear your point but someone has to stand up for the perhaps lost community that I believe can still exist including the basic shared values that are the cement of healthy society. It may be too far gone, you may be right but I’ll probably hope until I die that the values of common courtesy, kindness, civility, respect for differing pov’s win out and that cohesive community in many avenues of life can happen again. The only “shared values” needed are the ones I listed above — nobody has to believe exactly the same to have a healthy community. Online is community now in the 21st century. I believe 06880 is a community of a kind – one of millions that exist online. So, humanizing it, hoping that basic values of a healthy society can prevail — hope too much? Maybe.

                • The problem is the the price of a community is some level of conformity to shared values, and the need for someone to enforce the comformity. Those who feel the brunt of the enforcement will object with a vigor that is directly proportional to the degree to which their values differ from the values of the larger community.

                  • Where does that leave personal responsibility? Also, why do the shared values I mentioned have to be considered restrictive? I think those are values one has if one is part of a decently raised human. If one feels restricted by having to exercise a little self-control to give a civil response,to show another respect, to show a little kindness then perhaps they need to find another community they can feel more a part of where explosive, vitriolic individuals reign. They can still have their community where they feel they fit. I don’t believe that is 06880 at it’s heart — I think it’s wanting to be a force for good. Gandhi – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” How about extending that out to how we treat each other. So, whereas I may have hope, you have acceptance for this darkness — I can’t. You seem quite a smart and intelligent young woman, I wish you hope in your heart. You have a long life to live.

                    • You’re definitely overanalyzing Emma’s words, I think. Her point is rather simple: we can discuss this but it will never completely stop or change.

                      And while a supportive, friendly “community” is healthier for all, it does come at a cost too. Everything has a price. That’s what she is saying I believe.

    • Respectfully Listening

      I don’t understand. Are you suggesting that we just need to accept that hot topics will bring out the worst in people and that we should just accept that “stuff happens” (I assume by “stuff” you mean the ad hominem attacks, slander, disdain, name calling, etc.)?

      Just because the topic stirs deep heartfelt emotions doesn’t mean that people should stop being civil and respectful of each other.

      • Maybe things should be different, but they are not. That is my point.

        • This post was from Emma

        • Respectfully Listening

          Rational, I agree with your conclusion. This is reality. We don’t have to like it.
          The point of this thread is to try to make future discussions different.

          When the comments get vitriolic many people stop reading, so if the commentator’s desire is to influence as many as possible it would make sense to be civil and rational. If the goal is not to sway the public discourse then it must be just to pick a fight.

  18. Laurie Brannigan

    If you wouldn’t say it to a room of people, you shouldn’t write it! Even if you wish to keep your name a secret, think before you type!! It’s one thing to disagree, but there is no reason to be nasty while stating an opinion. I agree, it’s up to us “adults” to manage how we speak to each other. Imagine your child were to see what you have written (even if not for 10 years).

    • Interestingly, there are a few Staples students who are regular commenters on “06880.” I can’t recall one instance where they have been nasty, abusive or out of control.

  19. Well, I have weighed in on this before and, since you made this the topic of today’s blog, I’ll reiterate my position.

    I think you should not allow anonymous posts. For many years, newspapers all over the country have had a “Letters to the Editor” section that requires writers to identify themselves, and there has been a wide range of opinions expressed in those letters (with a tone that is typically more civil than what can be found on 06880).

    I don’t see why you can’t have the same policy here.

    • Letters to the editor are chosen to advance the commercial interests and editorial views of the newspaper.

  20. Mr. Woog, perhaps there is a way for you to flag comments — or even sections of comments — somehow, to denote “not quite in the spirit of what I’m trying to do at 06880.” In other words, let everyone have his/her say, but make it easy for readers who like their debate sans vitriol to bypass commentary that doesn’t add much to the debate. Your opinion, sure, but your blog, as well. I can understand not wanting to be the de facto censor; at the same time, I think it could be quite instructive.

    • Not a bad idea at all. I’m not sure how I could “flag” them, but perhaps it could be the equivalent of soccer’s yellow card: a warning to the commenter (public? private?). A second offense would result in a red card: banishment. I much prefer coaching to refereeing, but it is a thought.

      • I was thinking that the other night when you closed the comments section. Since your side was losing you called the game for unnecessary roughness. You couldn’t stand to see the public trouncing of your liberal brothers.

        • Not true. 24 comments out of 76 by you was piling on.

          • Yet not one reply to any legitimate point I made! Hence my 24 replies.
            And Yemma said, “blah, blah, blah…DIARRHEA”.
            John Hartwell denied something he described on his Facebook page, then said, “it must have appeared when he friended someone”. If that wasn’t so ridiculous it would be funny.
            Seriously, you guys are great and if you and your failure of policies wouldn’t affect my life or the lives of my children I wouldn’t even bother with you, but unfortunately they do.

  21. As someone who posts with my real name, I do not really feel strongly either way. I think anonymous posters have the right to express and comment, and it would be borderline draconian to stop that. However, Dan, I will say that 24 out of 76 comments on one post is absurd — that is abusing the privilege of commenting, in my opinion. Especially when the majority are personal attacks.

    That being said, I do take a huge issue with one point brought up by Mr. Smith and someone else on the RTM Gun Control comments section: why are anonymous commenters immediately disregarded when they make (sometimes) very good points in a debate or argument? It’s confounding to me that because these people refuse to use their real names, the substance of their comments is completely ignored. What, exactly, would change about a debate if the anonymous person suddenly agreed to use their real name? I simply don’t understand this logic. It’s not about the person, it’s about the content. In my opinion at least. And I’m not talking about the crazy vicious commenters — I’m talking about those well meaning anonymous posters who are instantly shut down by those of us posting by our real names.

    Can someone please explain this to me??? I just do not understand. Who cares what name they are using? It’s about the substance they post, not who they post as.

    • No they can’t Mr. Boten. So instead they will ignore you and pretend you never existed. However, if you spice it up a little you will get a response, but most likely not an answer or a legitimate response to your comment.

      • Respectfully Listening

        I don’t think that the substance of anonymous posters is completely ignored. I have read and given very serious consideration to those who have posted anonymously. When the posts get vitriolic, disdainful, holier-than-thou, etc the message gets lost and I find myself moving on to the next post. I question whether the people who post this way are interested in swaying public opinion or just providing entertainment for those who would like to see some blood in the ring.

        “I Know you”,
        If you put in too many hot peppers I only feel the heat and no longer taste the meat. Let’s get back to talking about the meat.

        • Fair points, Respectfully Listening. Sorry — I should have been more clear, though.

          This is specifically referencing those of us who use our real names that constantly disregard the anonymous posters (like yourself). I’d be interested in hearing from someone like Scott Smith.

    • Peter Schwartz

      The problem, as I see it, is when you have 14 different Anons. Anon46. Anonymous, Anonymous2, and so on. Yes, “they” say worthwhile things which can be addressed. But unless there’s some constancy in the pseudonym, it becomes a little silly.

  22. Thank you Dan for this website and all that you write about Westport and the people who create the mosaic of a hometown and the opportunity to chime in. You know I call you a master writer for a reason and I’ve learned so much by your example.

    I also appreciate when (twice) you have removed personal attacks on me, not in relation to the story or my comment, those that would seem to have hate in their heart and a vendetta on their brain. Call me Huffy and I take that as a complement, yes, I have developed a thick skin but still bleed.

  23. No censorship or deleting, please…leave that to WestportNow.
    Fortunately, this is a “bell curve” universe, and we have loonies at both ends of the spectrum with respect to politics, sex, religion, the Y, guns, and also degree of politeness / rudeness.
    Let em rant, Dan.
    There are far more reasoned opinions expressed anonymously than rude ones. If a reader thinks a poster is rude, jump in and offer your thoughtful opinion on how they are expressing themselves inappropriately. A lot of these comments are simply someone “poking the pigs” in an effort to create conflict or “stir the pot.” While it may not be everyone’s style, it certainly adds color.
    Most bloggers with names seem to suggest some form of censorship. This blog today is almost devoid of anonymous posters. Town employees, elected officials, police & fire personnel, local businesses…all read 06880 and must comment without a real name, but their insight is valuable.
    We should be able to laugh off a few wackos rather than censor everyone.

    • THANKS, Tom. I am impressed with the responses today. And I like the idea of “positive peer pressure” on rude posters!

    • I totally agree with you Tom. There will always be the people who love “to stir the pot”, just to see the reaction, whether or not they believe what they propose. I also feel that because we are in Westport (as opposed to the city) that people take things more seriously. This is our town. Think about it. In the city, nobody notices the noise, car honking, people bumping into you, etc. It’s all part of the cacophony of the city. In Westport, people get very annoyed when they are honked at, cut off, cellphone usage (that’s a whole other debate), noisy neighbors, walls, other people’s animals on their property…. I could go on and on……. reserving tables at the beach, dog park, the new Y. We have so much here and we seem to complain so much instead of being happy for what we have.

      That being said, I do love a good debate and I agree, we should as adults be able to express our opinions without being tarred and feathered for them. But, people do take things to heart when they are attacked – their feelings are hurt or they just become angry and lash out. This reminds me of when my children were little. Our son would poke his sister just to annoy her and he always got a reaction….. a scream – and nothing delighted him more. I told her that if she stopped reacting, he’d stop doing it. She smiled at me and that was that!

  24. Nick Thiemann

    The solution is quite simple. The Amish practice it. We should all shun the wrongdoer. Do not respond. No fuel on the fire puts the fire out.

    • Yeah, but what about the Amish who cut off the other Amish men’s beards?

      NO! I’m kidding! I’m not anti-Amish! It was a joke!

  25. Just rename your Blog – Dan the Man and His Drooling Fans.

    How come not nary a word when Obama says, ‘If they bring a knife, you bring a gun’, or when he says, ‘get in their face’ or when his union boss Jimmy Hoffa jr. who flew in with him to a rally on Air Force One says, ‘we’re your army…take these sons a bitches out’. Or when the teacher union bullies did what the did in Chicago and WI, how come you and your peace loving liberal friends have nothing to say? Or what about your boy Bill Maher and his hate speech? Chirp, chirp, chirp…

    The reason I ticked you guys off so much is, because you know I speak the truth and I’m right. I hold up a mirror up to you and you don’t like what you see.
    Because I know you, I live with you, I’m related to you, I used to be you (not entirely, but I was much more liberal back in the day).
    What happened? I wised up and saw what hypocrite phonies you were/are.
    I know you ‘liberals’ all too well.
    I know all about your double standards. All your policies for me, but not thee. I know how you aspire to be someone, but don’t live up to your own expectations as you still pretend with the same self righteousness. I know how you all speak from the same talking points and slogans as you speak of ‘diversity’, but God help those who disagree with you.
    Yes, I know you.
    And for those very few who truly do live by what they say, I respect you and none of the above refers to you…just the other 99%.
    But of course since I have not signed my real name, you will ignore all of this as if that makes any difference.

    • Must be a difficult life…to be so all knowing.

      Sorry, Nick…couldn’t resist not shunning.

    • You know far far less than you suppose, including about “liberals.” And you’re not just part of the problem. You are the problem.

      • Nice Jake. So your ‘thoughtful’ reply to me is, “you are the problem”.
        Where did you learn that, in diversity training or being tolerant of other’s opinions?

    • You make the point that the debate about policies at the national level is not conducted with civility, and you are right. Why should we expect the debate here to be any different?

      • See my comments about Obama. And as usual, the liberals here will pretend it never happened, but I’m the bad guy for acknowledging it.
        I wish you liberals would prove me wrong, but you just make my case!
        This is too easy!

      • Because it is local. Just as we don’t really “know” our Senators and congressmen — and they don’t know us — it’s easier to say outlandish and/or negative things about them (and easier for them to take hard-line positions).

        But we know our local politicians. We see them every day. We socialize with them, and know their kids. Because we are all in such close proximity — personal, professional, social, etc. — we SHOULD hold ourselves to higher standards of civility.

        • All politics is local. The locals seem perfectly willing to align themselves with national tickets every 4 years. I have lived in Westport for only 35 years, in that period I have not noticed the local politicians behaving any differently than those who operate at on a bigger stage.

    • Respectfully Listening

      Dear God,
      You don’t know me, but since I challenge your omniscience you will label me as a heretic (aka “a liberal”).
      Rather than having a conversation you are just being bombastic. So there is hypocrisy. It exists on both sides of the political divide. Just because it exists doesn’t invalidate the need for thoughtful and reasoned discussion of the issues at hand. Whether or not the readers of this blog can do anything directly about an issue doesn’t invalidate the necessity to discuss it. Perhaps by doing so we will be better informed citizens and in future not just follow the party line.

      By your reasoning I am not a hypocrite, a phony, or a liberal because I agree with you that there is hypocrisy. So what?

      • You’re good! So by saying you’re a hypocrite and you agree with, then I am incorrect.
        I like that!
        And please don’t call me God, I am human with faults and successes like eveyone else.
        I just try to be truthful and honest.

    • What an egomaniacal post. A wise man once said, he who claims to know everything usually knows nothing.” Especially true for those who say they know everything without the courtesy of revealing their identity.

    • Peter Schwartz

      Well, let’s see:

      Just rename your Blog – Dan the Man and His Drooling Fans.

      PS: I like it!

      How come not nary a word when Obama says, ‘If they bring a knife, you bring a gun’, or when he says, ‘get in their face’ or when his union boss Jimmy Hoffa jr. who flew in with him to a rally on Air Force One says, ‘we’re your army…take these sons a bitches out’. Or when the teacher union bullies did what the did in Chicago and WI, how come you and your peace loving liberal friends have nothing to say? Or what about your boy Bill Maher and his hate speech? Chirp, chirp, chirp…

      PS: Because if “they” bring a knife, maybe you should bring a gun. When the right-wing power brokers attempt to take away bargaining rights–one’s livelihood–and one’s rights–then that is a violent act. That’s the opening salvo. Particularly when the power relationship between boss and worker is one-sided.

      I don’t know why Dan “said nothing”–why do you care? You need a Daddy to confirm your views? Sanction what you have to say?

      The reason I ticked you guys off so much is, because you know I speak the truth and I’m right. I hold up a mirror up to you and you don’t like what you see.
      Because I know you, I live with you, I’m related to you, I used to be you (not entirely, but I was much more liberal back in the day).

      PS: The David Horowitz, John Stossel shuffle.

      What happened? I wised up and saw what hypocrite phonies you were/are.

      PS: Better to have ideals and fall short than to jettison one’s ideals.

      I know you ‘liberals’ all too well.
      I know all about your double standards. All your policies for me, but not thee.

      PS: Yes, I hear this paranoid rant a lot. Here comes Al Gore with his 3,000 sq ft. house. Well, dude, here’s the thing: You, too, can have a house this large, or larger, make it as drafty as you want. It will cost you a lot more, but hey, it’s a free country.

      I know how you aspire to be someone, but don’t live up to your own expectations as you still pretend with the same self righteousness. I know how you all speak from the same talking points and slogans as you speak of ‘diversity’, but God help those who disagree with you.
      Yes, I know you.

      PS: Actually, thus far, you’ve been entirely predictable.

      And for those very few who truly do live by what they say, I respect you and none of the above refers to you…just the other 99%.
      But of course since I have not signed my real name, you will ignore all of this as if that makes any difference.

      PS: I don’t sign my real name, either. People will read you if you say something interesting.

      • Unions are monopolies. No one has had their bargaining rights taken away by force since the end of WW II. And you are not a liberal, you are a totalitarian leftist who doesn’t have much regard for the truth.

        • Peter Schwartz

          Well, actually, unions are not monopolies. The term doesn’t apply, but to the degree we can make it apply…closed shops have been banned. Scott Walker tried to remove collective bargaining rights without the consent of union members effected. That’s force. (It didn’t apply to his supporters in the police.) They tried the same thing in Ohio.

          As far as the rest goes…hahahahaha.

          • Unions are monopolies over supply. “Force”? Your use of the language is slovenly, the only force evident was that exhibited by the union thugs who stormed the capital building. As to the rest, Jefferson was a liberal; you are not a liberal.

            • Peter Schwartz

              Sorry, they still aren’t monopolies. Voting away people’s rights that they had under law is “force” and it is backed up (enforced) by physical force. The response is “self defense.” Jefferson was also in favor of the use of force, in his policies toward slaves and toward the creation of a strong, powerful central government, e.g., his extra-constitutional approach to concluding the Louisiana Purchase.

              • They are monopolies;

                “According to Harvard economists Richard Freeman and James Medoff, who look favorably on unions, ‘Most, if not all, unions have monopoly power, which they can use to raise wages above competitive levels’ (1984, p. 6). Unions’ power to fix high prices for their members’ labor rests on legal privileges and immunities that they get from government, both by statute and by nonenforcement of other laws. The purpose of these legal privileges is to restrict others from working for lower wages.”

                The demand for labor is not price inelastic thus, unions produce a reduced demand for labor, the subsititution of capital fo labor, and the movement of jobs away from the unions.

                There is no more prevalent use of force than in the collection of taxes. I am sure you oppose that sort of activity as well.

                • Peter Schwartz

                  “Our research demonstrates that the view of unions as organizations whose chief function is to raise wages is seriously misleading. For in addition to raising wages, unions have significant non-wage effects which influence diverse aspects of modern industrial life. By providing workers with a voice both at the workplace and in the political arena, unions can and do affect positively the functioning of the economic and social systems. Although our research on the non-wage effects of trade unions is by no means complete and some results will surely change as more evidence becomes available, enough work has been done to yield the broad outlines of a new view of unionism.” ~Richard B. Freeman, James L. Medoff

                  • Doesn’t alter their first conclusion. Unions are monopolies.

                    • Peter Schwartz

                      Actually said they had “monopoly power.” Are you going to cherry pick their conclusions, take a bit here and there, and glue them to Morgan Reynolds’ views? Really?

                    • Peter Schwartz

                      They actually said “monopoly power.” But are you really going to cherry pick a small fragment of what they say and glue it to Morgan Reynolds? Really?

                      For example, Freeman might be willing to show some similarities between unions and monopolies, but not agree that unions had the deleterious affects of a corporate monopoly.

                • Peter Schwartz

                  The fact is, of course, that even in industries where there are still strong unions–automobiles–there are PLENTY of places where folks can work without the union, its protections or its depredations.

                  • It is not necessary to control 100% of the marketplace to have monopoly power. Unions are monopolies.

                    • Peter Schwartz

                      They don’t control anything even close to 100% of the marketplace. Like I said, private and public sector unions combined make up something like 14% of the total economy.

                      But I do agree that union wages tend to raise wages in non-union workplaces by the competition they provide. It’s a tide that lifts all boats. Who knows how low they could fall without unions. After all, they’re competing against $2 a day coolies and machines that don’t tire.

                      Blaming unions for the move away from labor to capital and technology is silly. Capital always wants to cut labor costs. Replacing labor with a machine makes a lot of sense in many ways: it doesn’t complain, makes fewer errors, costs less the longer you own it, can run 24 hours. And, of course, capital owns technology lock, stock, and barrel. An inanimate slave.

                • Peter Schwartz

                  I have no problem with taxation. Everyone, from the Founders on down, believed in its necessity. No taxation; no country. Take your pick. Busting unions–which now form about 14% of the labor force–presents no such necessity, except for greedy CEOs who feel personally entitled to as much remuneration as they can possibly negotiate with their BODs, i.e., their friends and fellow connivers. The idea that CEOs get paid what the market “says” they should get paid is ridiculous and false on its face.

                  The notion of competition you bring up above is silly. It’s a relative term. And it moves with the market according to various forces. ONE of those forces is a union. The presence of a union is no more artificial or manipulative than putting meat on sale or undercutting your competitors until they go out of business, all of which are considered to be members in good standing of “the market.”

                  • Jefferson opposed direct taxation. If the Famers were so found of taxes, why did they not establish an income tax?

                    “Direct taxation was to be avoided, this could be done by avoiding expense that are not necessary. when merely by avoiding false objects of expense we are able, without a direct tax, without internal taxes, and without borrowing to make large and effectual payments toward the discharge of our public debt and the emancipation of our posterity from that mortal canker, it is an encouragement, fellow citizens, of the highest order to proceed as we have begun in substituting economy for taxation, and in pursuing what is useful for a nation placed as we are, rather than what is practiced by others under different circumstances.”

                    Taxes merely redistribute income from those who earned to those who did not. Those who are most greedy are those who want what they did not earn.

                    No one is forced to pay a CEO one dime.

                    You seem to have glossed over the issue of the price elasticity of demand for labor.

                    • Peter Schwartz

                      And you seem to have glossed over Jefferson, the liberal, and his slaves and views on the black race’s inferiority.

                      Your question about why the Framers didn’t institute an income tax is rhetorical. Nor do I see why income tax is especially odious.

                      As far as quoting the Framers, especially Jefferson, you can find all kinds of opinions, many of which are contradictory. I’m reading Washington now, and he saw the clear need for the central government to be able tax the people directly. He couldn’t pay his men, and the states weren’t forthcoming.

                      This redistribution jazz is malarkey. When I’m taxed for, say, road repair that money comes back to me in the form of better roads. We all pool our money and can do more than in the way of building and repairing roads than if I had to do it on my own or with few buddies.

                      No one is forced to pay a CEO a dime. However, there is HUGE collusion among CEOs and BODs. They WANT to pay each other huge packages. The idea that collective bargaining is anti-market and CEO pay is pro just doesn’t live up to the facts.

                      And actually, by contract, many companies are forced to pay CEOs huge parting bonuses even when they fail. Romney had a sweetheart deal like when he formed Bain Capital. The idea that capitalists are risk-takers is way over blown.

              • Peter Schwartz

                Here’s a briefer summary of their book: What Do Unions Do?

                “Argues that unions play a beneficial role in improving the workplace, increasing productivity, reducing economic inequality, and stabilizing the work force.”

                Increasing productivity, in particular, would suggest that the presence of a union does NOT necessarily move labor away from unions through competition. Of late, most of those increases have gone into the pockets of the top 1%. The fact that unions try to capture some of those increases for their members is unimpeachably fair.

                Interestingly, one could not say the same things about true monopolies, which tend to squelch competition, stifle innovation, lower productivity, and close off industries to new entrants. They corner markets. That’s why they’re (mostly) illegal. Unions don’t have that negative impact on the market.

                • Unions do have a negative inpact on the market. If they did not there would be more union jobs. As it stand the number of private sector union jobs has declined substantially since 1960. If union jobs were economically viable, there would be more of them.

                  • Peter Schwartz

                    You assume a rational marketplace in which all information is perfectly known across all players. Business makes bad decisions all the time for all kinds of reasons. If the market place were rational, Warren Buffett, by his accounting, would not be a billionaire.

                    • No I don’t. If the marketplace were rational, there would be no unions. It is only necessary that people have the ability to attempt to maximize the return on capital. BTW unions make bad decisions all of the time as well. The fact that participants make bad decisions is not a sign that the market is irrational.

                    • Peter Schwartz

                      Sorry, Anonymous, the system won’t let me respond above:

                      A: “Unions do have a negative inpact on the market. If they did not there would be more union jobs.”

                      P.S. You are assuming what you have to prove. There are also legal and business and government moves to squelch unions. Including poor enforcement of labor laws.

                  • Your argument about $2 per day workers, and its racist tone, is utterly disengenous. Wage comparisons need to be adjusted for PPP. Moreover, the strength of the move to lower wage costs is directly proportional to the amount local wages are above the market clearing price.

                    The tendency to substitute labor for capital is driven in large part by the same variable.

                    Unions may be 14% of the private sector work force, but that is not the standard used to measure monopoly power. If unions have complete control to access in jobs an a given sector, then they have monopoly power in that sector.

                    Why don’t workers in other countries deserve jobs?

                    • Taxes redistribute income. The Gini Coefficient for income in the US is higher after tax than before; hence taxes redistribute income. If I wanted to build a road I would voluntarily pay to have the road built. Virtually no government program does not make some one worse off in order to make others better off. They are not Pareto Optimal.

                      The CEO is paid a severance if he has a contract that provided for severance. Unlike the IRS, he cannot hold a gun to the heads of the BOD and force them to pay up.

                      Jefferson’s view on slavery is irrelevant when discussing Jefferson’s view on taxes. The country function just fine from 1792 until 1913 without a federal incom etax.

  26. Cathy Smith Barnett '66

    Happy New Year Dan! Fred Cantor’s comment is accurate. Newspaper “letters to the editor” are only printed if writer uses his/her real name and address. Of course, addresses are never posted, only kept on file. The New York Times only posts subscriber comments; CNN is a free for all and comments get mighty nasty. You might want to consider filtering the mudslinging and have a lively discussion without it sounding like a high school debate!

    • “Filtering” changes the substance of the debate. What is to be filtered? A person’s ability to be offended is quite specific to that person.

  27. Some regular commenters got fed up and never darken this place again. Remember Jeffxs??

  28. Dan, At least we’re both Yankee fans!
    See we’re not that different!
    I saw you earlier today wearing your jersey. I would have said hello, but was in a hurry for a drop off and you looked deep in thought.
    Next time I will stop and chat.

  29. What about requiring people to give email addresses that can be seen by only you? My guess is that it will cut down on the number of nasty comments because you know who they are.

    People sometimes forget that this is a blog and not a newspaper. There is a big difference and you are not required to be fair and balanced. It’s your show.

    Despite all this, thank you, Dan, for all your work and for allowing an interesting conversation with the community. It’s a shame that a few people can’t oppose an idea without slinging mud.

  30. Dan should not have to police the comments on his blog. That would not solve anything anyway as some of you have pointed out. Anonymous, Fake Name or Real Name, people will still voice their opinion and should be able to do that. That’s what I respect about this site… that people can comment freely, even if I disagree with their comment. Sometimes very strongly. It does however make me sad and upset to see the level of hatefulness and rudeness that comes out. I’ve read through some pretty ugly back and forths and don’t understand why so much time and effort is put into those posts. For what purpose? Like the one above. I don’t get what “I Know you” is trying to say but look at them go. And that’s their right to say what they feel. My brother worked for the local newspaper and it was his job to sometimes write letters to the editor just to get people to respond, so I guess you’re right, Tom Feeley. I don’t think any one of us can fix this issue here on this site with this open forum. We’re not going to change those types of posters but I for one will continue to read 06880 because of all the positive reasons. Please, Dan, keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll keep hoping naively that people will stop being so mean to each other.

    • You really have no idea what I’m saying?! Come on, who you kidding?!
      You may disagree with me or not like my delivery, but have no idea what i’m saying?
      Fine, go back to your echo chamber and back to asking yourself why do the same things keep happening? Maybe, just maybe, if you looked at things a little differently or TRIED to consider other opinions you would have an aha moment.
      Or you could continue on as you have and wonder why there are ‘mean’ people in the world who think differently then you.

  31. Westporter Since '03

    Maybe we do the “Survivor” thing and just vote the Nasties “off the island ???”

    Seriously, Dan, maybe WordPress offers a function where we can “Like/thumbs up” or “Dislike/thumbs down” Comments (altho I don’t know how you prevent someone from “stuffing the ballot box” and “Liking” themselves 24 times)…

    It could be just our way of saying to someone “ease up, brother/sister”…

    BTW, Dan, I love your blog – and call me a “Pollyanna or a Pollyandy,” but I especially enjoy the historical stories (tales of Westport, how things used to be or people who lived here) or “human interest” stories – the ones about Westport people who do unique things (like the Stanley Steemer gal – fabulous !, or the executive who was “homeless” for a night)…

    And, I don’t always Comment because oftentimes, if it is an issue I care about, I don’t feel like jumping into the fray, especially when it has turned viscious.

    Thanks for sharing your view of our little corner of the world and keeping us connected (although many of us abuse the privilege).

  32. Dan: I’ve been a baseball umpire in Westport for 42 years but I sure am glad
    it is you having to make the calls and not me.

  33. John Hartwell

    Free speech and anonymous speech are not the same thing. The first allows you to say anything you want, the latter allows you to hide while you’re doing it.

    I believe that in a small town like this we should have the default set to using real names, especially when commenting on local issues. It won’t necessarily result in a completely civil conversation, but I think it would certainly encourage it.

    As some have pointed out here, however, there may be times when using an alias is warranted, especially for town employees. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be completely hidden from everyone’s view. The NY Times has a policy on quoting anonymous sources, which includes stating in the story why the source has been allowed to remain anonymous, but also requiring that the reporter’s editor knows and approves the arrangement before publication. It’s far from perfect, I agree, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    I don’t know how WordPress works, but many other online communities I belong to require you to sign up and then get a confirmation email back which allows you to begin participating.

    Unfortunately a system like this would require Dan (or his substitute, whoever that might be) to do the extra work of checking credentials and sitting in judgement whenever someone requests being allowed to post under an alias. Dan already puts in an incredible amount of effort on this blog, and it seems unfair to ask him to take on more work that would ultimately reduce his productivity and make him a potential target of abuse.

    So there’s no silver bullet. Asking people to be polite clearly hasn’t worked (see some hyperbolic comments today from our favorite anonymous poster), and asking Dan to restrict his reporting to uncontentious subjects would deprive us all of his great work. A “like/dislike” button might help as it would give the entire community the chance to weigh in, hopefully signaling some more aggressive participants to cool down and encouraging others to speak up.

    Finally, a response to Frank Boto’s question: I’m not sure I agree that the content of anonymous posters on this blog is routinely or automatically disregarded, nor should it be. As you say, there’s no logic if that’s the case. But what I can say is that abusive comments from people hiding behind an alias makes me angry, and (unfortunately, perhaps) I’m likely to rise to the bait. I’d much prefer calm discussions of public policy where I can make my points and see what others think, but I’m too old to stand back and be bullied.

    • John,

      That doesn’t really answer the question. Though I am glad you weighed in as my question was practically directed at you because of our exchange in the RTM Gun Control post.

      It seems to be the opposite, in my opinion. So I guess we will agree to disagree. But I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt more times than not.

      Yes, I end up with the pie in my face sometimes but it’s kind of easy to recognize the difference between a “troll” and an emotional/aggressive commenter with strong opinions. Whether or not that person is posting under their own name is irrelevant, right?

      In theory, if I had no shame, I could come on here and post the same words our friend “I Know” is spewing as my real name. Then what? Would you treat the irrational comments and vicious opinions differently? Would you view them in a different light?

      Certainly not. And that’s my point. It’s not about WHO is commenting, but more about WHAT the comments are. So all of this nonsense about requiring people to register is pointless and, in my opinion, rather disheartening.

      There will always be aggressive, passionate, and sometimes brash commenters. Both with real names and without real names. It’s all irrelevant. Let’s focus on the tone and civility instead, and allow those anonymous posters to continue.

  34. Bart Shuldman

    I vote to have everyone use their real name. While it might stop some from posting it would end the sometimes ugly posts that helps to spew rate us all.

  35. Dan, you know I have been saying this to you practically since your blog launched. I rarely comment because (as Maggie May wrote) even my most innocuous comment will usually incite at best a nasty comment, and at worst a personal attack. (Someone actually once stalked my own personal blog and followed up with a nasty attack there.) The comments completely devalue the otherwise high quality of 06880, along with the great contribution it makes by creating a community forum and thereby a community. And although I am personally in favor of requiring full name disclosure, I also recognize that certain people (e.g. public employees, teachers) may need to keep their comments anonymous. I see no alternative therefore than for you to do the following: 1. require anyone posting anonymously to register with you first privately, so that you at least have their actual name – this will creative at least some filter for the venom; 2. you moderate comments, and do not permit the nasty attacks and general mean-ness. (Wouldn’t you ask guests to your home to wipe their feet?) Is this what the NY Times does? It’s more work for you, to be sure. But with freedom comes responsibility, yes? Or perhaps you could enlist a volunteer intern to screen comments for you?

    • The NYT screens comments as do organizations like Huffpo, but the result is a set of comments that favors the views of those who screen the comments not an open debate. The question is which do you value more; comments manicured to reflect the biases of the site owner, or an open debate. Certainly the NYT and Huffpo have a right to advance their agenda, they are footing the bills, but let’s not pretend that they foster a free and open debate.

      • I know that, you know that, do they not know that?!
        And if so, is that what they really want? I believe they DON’T want any opinion that varies much from their own, which is part of my point.
        They’ll say they do, but their actions don’t support their words.
        And if they do have someone to voice the other side, it will always be a David Brooks type ‘conservative’.
        Just look at the vitriol Jaun Williams suffered just because he’s on Fox and NPR?! The NPR crowd went crazy to have him fired. It’s the same time and time again.
        For them it’s, ‘elections have consequences’, until they lose! Then it’s walkouts, recounts and lawsuits!
        I’ll say it again’ they (liberals) prove my point!

        • Why would the NYT publish an opinion that challenges the most cherished beliefs of its readers and risk offending them? The NYT needs readers, CNN needs viewers, they are both trying to attract a crowd. Making people uncomfortable does not further their objective.

    • Thanks, Jessica. I have not yet found a way on to allow anyone who wants to post anonymously to register first with me. If anyone out there knows a way to do this, please contact me privately.

      I simply do not have any more time to moderate comments. I spend 2-3 hours a day on “06880”; I will not add more time moderating comments. Sorry. And I am not going to hand the job over to an “intern,” either!

      We’ll figure out a solution, though. We’ve got our best minds working on it!

      • Something tells me you will let the free market decide (and it doesn’t hurt your standing in the blogosphere with so many hits and comments).
        I little controversy and a good robust debate is a good thing.
        If that’s not your thing, there’s always Westpotnow.

  36. “John is getting angry” at what HE decides are abusive comments that HE disagrees with.
    Funny how he doesn’t take to task or is offended by others snarky, rude and crass comments by those HE does agree with.
    See the double standards and hypocrisy of our liberal friends?!
    That’s what I’m talking about, they can’t help themselves, it’s who they are.

    So he wants to ban those he disagrees with or who HE deems abusive (regardless of how subjective that is), real accepting guy of other opinions.
    I thought you guys were for diversity and preached tolerance?
    Or is that just for people who agree with you?
    Mr, Hartwell, please point out here where I hurt your delicate sensibilities?

    • …. wag more, bark less…..

    • I must disagree with you on one point. “They” are not liberals. Jefferson was a liberal; “they” are not Jeffersonian. But you are right on another point; a true liberals would not seek to suppress comments by those who disagree with them.

      • I barely recognize either political party in 2013. It’s frightening.

      • I agree with you and truth be told, I am a liberal by the true definition and not by today’s progressive bastardized definition.
        So how should we refer to them?

        • Let’s avoid that topic in the interest of maintaining the new found civility at least for one day.

    • John Hartwell

      I never asked that you be banned. I only ask that you come out of hiding and let everyone know who you are.

      I “took to task” you and a second anonymous poster for making ugly and demeaning comments about people while not having the courage to identify yourself. You’re free to say what you want, I’m free to think that much of what you say is nonsense and not worth paying attention to. That, as you point out, is my subjective opinion. It’s one, I believe, that is shared by many who read this blog.

      • John,

        Truth be told, you really are not helping the problem. You’re simply feeding the trolls, throwing gasoline on the fire, etc.

        This self-righteous courage to identify yourself is somewhat laughable. I hate to keep sticking up for the anonymous posters, especially the nasty ones, but there is no way you can believe everything you write. This indignation and outrage over someone “hiding” is dripping with an equally ugly tone. The very thing you are taking them to task for.

        For someone who claims to not pay any attention to anonymous posters and opinions, it seems that is all you have been doing for several days now. Follow your own advice and pay no attention to them.

        Just my subjective opinion, I guess.

        • So, how does the word “troll” advance the cause of civility ?

          • Emma,

            I usually eat what you are serving (dangerous euphemism) but you cannot sit there in front of your computer, with a straight face, and deny that there hasn’t been at least a little shred of trolling behind many of these comments.

            For me, it does not nullify the content or substance. And I have nothing against trolls. But please get serious…

            The named commenter who defends anonymous posters everywhere

            • Maybe civility is overrated.

            • With all do respect, I am not a troll, but a member of this great community.
              But seriously, as I have said, I have made valid points, which are ignored, because you, not Emma & Frank and I’m sure others, don’t like my delivery.
              As Frank has rightfully pointed out, it doesn’t make my points any less credible or valid.
              And they know that, however it’s easier to ignore my points and criticize me since they cannot argue or disagree with me on the points I make.

              Basically, when they ignore or attack me, I know I won the argument and more importantly, I know they know, I won the argument!

      • A little insecure are we? Like to be reassured by those who share our point of view? Don’t like to embrace ideas of others that may differ from your own?

        The last thing I have do is prove myself to a Yalie! Your arrogance gave you away (and your FB page, unless of course you only ‘friended’ someone who actually went there).

        Think what you want, but you may be surprised how many do agree with me, yes even here.
        Perhaps you would feel more at home on the Daily Kos or the HuffingPost, only ‘civil’ comments there by like minded individuals.

        Besides, 129 comments from guys like you would be predictable and pretty boring to say the least.

        I keep seeing George Costanza saying, “George is getting upset!” when I read your comments.

  37. Perhaps the goal of civility was won for a day for 06880. I’m happily amazed that a major discussion with lots of disagreement went on and no one’s bloody. I say alright! Try for another day of this.

  38. Mike McGovern

    How about a “one and done” policy? I don’t know the technical challenges for this and obviously if you own a number of different email addresses you can get around it but if you allowed posters to comment anonymously or not, but only once, that would give everyone a chance to express their opinions. I think it is the back and forth that gets nasty.

    • It’s called an exchange of ideas and how would that work out if you had to respond to more than one person?
      And you’re on the board of Ed?
      Ah, ah, only one response, you cannot respond back.
      See how bad an idea that was?

  39. It is, what it is

    06880 isn’t the first online community to suffer due to the asshole makeup of it’s membership. So be it. It’s a big internet.

    • As you prove to us all!
      It doesn’t take much for you guys to prove my point!
      This is too easy!
      Does anyone out there have any original thoughts without trying to limit the speech of anyone who disagrees with them?
      Can anyone reply to a valid point that is contrary to their own without insulting them?
      Do all liberals think alike? Is dissension not allowed in the cult of liberalism
      Do you guys all get the same memo and talking points every morning?

      • You talk an awful lot about your “valid points” when all you do is insult what your notion of a “liberal” is.

      • Okay. Now you need to stop. You’re becoming old and tired… even to me.

  40. Melony Goodman

    This is truly ridiculous. It is just very sad to see the members of our community just completely ruin something that has really been a treat to the town. I am just frustrated and upset

    • Over 150 comments..most by one commenter. Your point has been made.

      • Actually not “most” — but “many.” So far there are 155 comments; “I Know You” has commented 27 times, or 17.5 percent. That’s nearly 1 in every 5 comments. Perhaps the answer is to put a limit on comments per thread — maybe no more than 4 or 5?

        • That sort of rationing would handicap those who express opinions not held by the majority.

  41. Dan – Happy New Year and thank you for the great job you do highlighting the people and events that make 06880 interesting and blogworthy.

    I’ve commented only rarely over the years, and my benign posts were twice met with outrageous replies. (One of those rare responses you deleted was a reply to my post).

    I work in town, and I appreciate anonymity. I can’t afford to offend people whose views don’t align with my own. That doesn’t mean my thoughts matter less (or more). I hope you will continue to allow anonymous posters, for better or for worse, and I do hope that folks pushing for name, rank and serial number can accept or acknowledge that many of us have very valid reasons not to use our real names.

    Mostly I wanted you to know that I read 06880 faithfully to read what YOU have to say, and your insights are an integral part of my day. The comments are just window dressing.

    • Thanks, PP. You bring up plenty of good points. Today’s discussion has been all over the place. There is clearly no consensus — other than, perhaps, civility would be nice. Though civility is, of course, in the eye of the beholder.

      I need Solomon!

      • Bart Shuldman

        Why should we wonder why congress cannot get along. Look at all this. Almost too funny.

  42. I agree with Melony.

  43. Dan, missing your usual “more than one subject a day” posting. Time for a new one, don’t you think? <3 u and ur blog!

  44. Dan, you know I’m in the “have the guts to use your real name” column.
    And if “I know you” is a just one person he ( she?) has too much time on his hands. And he uses too many words to s
    ay very little.

    • As far as your negative comment about me having too much time on my hands, how’s this for today – I was at 3 different schools today 7 times, I was at two of my kids after school activities, including drop off and pick up, I was at 2 different restaurants in town, 3 if you count my morning Robeks smoothy, shopped at Fresh Market, went to both Post Offices this morning, made approximately $8k on Apple stock and still had time to piss off 75% of Dan’s worshipers with over 30 comments (so you say).
      Not bad for a slacker! I would say that’s a very good start to a New Year! Can’t wait for tomorrow!
      Oh, and I never sleep!

  45. Take the long view, friends.

    Go back and read what appeared under my name 225 or so years ago, and what was put out by my friends and my antagonists, men like Cato, for example. We used pseudonyms for a variety of reasons, and though you long since penetrated our veil of anonymity and remember us today for our eloquent discourse, we were not always so refined, and we wrote at times under other names. Frequent commenter STM is a fine example: eloquent here and more restrained than on other topics, but capable of vituperation when he wants to be.

    Nor is a requirement to use one’s real name an inoculant against vitriol. See, for example, the works and words of the scallawag James Callender as he wrote about the sainted T. Jefferson of Monticello. Frequent commenter Shuldman exemplifies this duality, being all sweetness and light here, and the very model of hostility when discussing the First Selectman’s plans for the Baron’s South property.

    The freedom to speak, and to speak uncivilly, is a cardinal virtue of our Republic. It is a natural right, and by that nature a right older than any of us. The freedom of one to speak does not impose on others the obligation to listen, nor does it imply or sustain a right not to be offended. While we might prize civil discourse above apoplectic ranting, surely we can tolerate the occasional burst of spleen as a modest price for the free exchange of ideas. And we can remain comfortable in the knowledge that the uncivil arguers and the ad hominem attackers undermine their own arguments by distracting from the intellectual content. Commenter “I know you,” under this guise or as his alter ego “The liberal mind…”, and commenter Yemma might think this through.

    Coach Woog provides a forum for all, and it is superior to any other local forum in large measure due to its unrestrained nature. It is his blog, his property. Property rights are also enshrined in our constitution, and he can do as he pleases with his. He is himself a bit of an agent provocateur, and he likes it that way. But he can close a thread or delete a comment if he so chooses should it violate his standard. That is his right, which we should respect. But we should also respect that he has kept a light touch to date.

    • Comment #163, and my favorite of the day.

      Gratias, tibi ago.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Now there is a better topic to bash about. Barons South. Thanks for bringing it up. And not suprising while trying to insult you also do not use your name. Now have your fun again.

      • Res ipsa loquitur.

        • You, sir or madam, should offer your services as guest-host when Dan takes a vacation! Post of the day indeed.

          Dan – if you change anything about the blog, I’d like a “LIKE” button!

        • Bart Shuldman

          Pubes. You are a lawyer. Interesting. Given some of your support could you be Bloom? Hiding behind no evidence.


    • Pubes, I like your style but I think you’ve got me mixed up with commenter Emma.

    • Publius says what I have alluded to, though he says it eloquently and very creatively. Excellent Sir!
      Again this is where I have said, you may not like my delivery, but my critics have not confronted my content, instead predictably bashed or dismissed my comments since they disagreed with my opinion.
      I too have said, Dan likes the tension and he himself likes to present and frame topics a certain way knowing they will get the lions to fight.
      You can’t do that and then pull a Rodney King (Can’t we all just get along).

      As an experiment I would like to see Dan take the other side of the coin and then see how his base reacts.
      For example, maybe Dan could present the other side as if it was what he believed and do so with the same kind of cynicism as he sometimes does.

      And for the record, I did receive some personal attacks and inferences to my character today and no one called out the offender, except one. They rest only saw me as the bad guy.
      Now many may applaud that and think I deserved it, but if you truly believed what you say, then you would have said something in my defense.
      However, if you don’t think I deserve such treatment, then you are no better than me. Why? Because I find offense with many things that are said here and I speak up to try and offer another point of view.
      Bottom-line: So it’s not okay for me to speak up when I’m offended, but it is okay for you to disparage me when you find me offensive.
      That’s the double standard and hypocrisy I speak of with so-called liberals.

      All in all nothing changed today. No one here changed my mind of liberal hypocrisy and double standards. And in fact you guys reinforced them.
      And I it seems, never opened a single closed mind. It appears not many, with the exception of Frank, Emma and a couple others, even considered my premiss or opinion.
      I did however get a ‘date’ with Tracy 🙂 and I look forward to sharing a bottle of wine with her. Tracy, I prefer a nice full bodied wine. What’s your preference?
      In the end, it is Dan’s game and Dan’s rules and he can play it anyway he likes. I enjoy it (his blog), but if he starts applying rules and restrictions, he knows I and others will go elsewhere.
      So in the end, nothing changes…again.
      Goodnight friends and try to keep an open mind with consideration to opinions that differ from your own.

    • PUBLIUS says: “we wrote at times under other names. Frequent commenter STM [Sank T. Monius] is a fine example: eloquent here and more restrained than on other topics, but capable of vituperation when he wants to be .”
      Eloquent, if I may say so myself!!!

  46. Oh do I miss open access to this site from work…

    Somewhere above someone said that “Free speech” and “Anonymous speech” were not the same thing. My history books say the opposite. That said, this is a private party with a very tolerant host. Please don’t spill on the carpet.

    I love a passionate argument, but I also remember to re-read my own comments before I post them. Lots of snarky and nasty thoughts have been deleted…

    As many of us have done, I’ve chosen a handle that is well known to those who know me, including Woog. So yes, I think there should be a one-time log-in registration. You can keep your anonymity, but our host will know who each of us is.

  47. I don’t know who has time to contribute to greater than 15% of the comments to a discussion this long but I think “I Know You” should have some the points made in this discussion (as I haven’t seen his comments in the other discussions) directly.


    From the pool report of Amy Chozick of Morning Call of Allentown, PA, 2008:

    He [Obama] warned that the general election campaign could get ugly. “They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy,’ ” he said. A donor yelled out a deep accented “Don’t give in!”

    “I won’t but that sounded pretty scary. You’re a tough guy,” Obama said.

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

    You can now place his comments in context and decide if they were an inappropriate support of violence or just a paraphrasing of Sean Connery from The Untouchables.


    When Jimmy Hoffa is vitriolic and hyperbolic in his supportive and aggressive language is the President supposed to condemn him? Am I supposed to condemn the President if he doesn’t? I don’t think so. I didn’t vote for Hoffa and Obama didn’t appoint him to his position. I didn’t blame Bush for the stupid racist things Rush Limbaugh said. I blamed Bush for his own stupid comments.


    I’m only hypocritical if I condemn all the republicans for the ridiculous comments made by their fundraisers and supporters and I fail to do the same for the democrats. I choose to just condemn the idiots who make the ridiculous comments themselves. The King of All Liberals, Jon Stewart, makes this point indirectly on almost every episode. It doesn’t matter where the moronic statements come from (left or right) he can make fun of them equally, usually singling out the INDIVIDUAL. Excepting of course when it is an individual representing the GOP or Tea Party caucus and commenting usually through talking points or when the individual is voting as part of a bloc to accomplish something moronic — usually something he considers counter to the needs of the many to benefit the few (or none).


    That’s only a couple of points but it’s important to recognize that it’s not always trolling when someone says something inflammatory. Sometimes it’s a valid point worthy of consideration and rebuttal. Sometimes it’s not.


    However, when it comes down to it, I think the format of a comments section of a blog doesn’t usually lend itself to well thought out and meaningful commentary (although many of the 150+ comments on this entry might be the exception).

    I enjoy reading your blog, Dan, and frequently I take a look at the comments. Anonymous or Pseudonymous comments are often the most interesting. I hope you don’t ban them. A response you made to an earlier suggestion today — “I much prefer coaching to refereeing” — rings most true.

    A friend of mine commented on Facebook today, “It’s January 2nd and I already feel like punching someone in the face.” The first response was, “What took you so long?”

  48. A few suggestions based on democracy rules – one man, one vote!
    Since this is your blog you could –

    1- set limits of two or three comments per person per post- after that they are only repeating themselves in both substance and tone!!


    2- If you don’t want to set limits then make it self limiting by charging a quarter for the second comment, half a buck for the next one and a buck after that. (This would also guarantee that you would find a way to know who is commenting on your blog- whether anonymous or not and guaranteed anonymity- while turning a profit!!)

    You will have satisfied liberal, conservative and democrat principles in the bargain.

    Since everyone gets in their personal comments in your comments- I will conclude with a brief statement of my political stance-

    “One man, one musket” under the original concepts of the constitution as when written- and I am ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow musketeers to guarantee that right!!

    I feel grateful for the opportunity to have posted my first comment ever right here in my hometown for the last forty years! For free on your blog!!

    Thanks for a great blog (even if it is occasionally weighted down by several tedious comments- including mine).

  49. Hi Dan! I agree wholeheartedly with Sank T Monious. Also agree that it’s ok, upon rare occasions, for you to delete posts when they’re particularly hurtful and/or vitriolic.

  50. I do like the reference to the Federalist Papers but I don’t think Jefferson or Madison were as mean as some of the comments on this post. If people want to pick on others they should at least use their real names.

  51. 180 comments about what? Civility? I don’t think so. For what precise reason did Dan shut down comments? I don’t think we know. The reasons given don’t stand scrutiny. Morever, the comments, more often than not, deal with the mechanics of enforcing some arbitrary standard for civility rather than dealing with any related substantive issue. Thus far, there is no agreement on what constitutes civil behavior, and why should there be any such agreement?

    • Stacy Prince

      Not arguing that there “should” be agreement on what constitutes civil behavior, just noting that such agreement makes everything run more smoothly. On the continuum between anarchy and fascism, the biggest determinant is the percentage of the population that “buys in” to existing rules (including the uncodified ones, like “everyone knows Caveperson Grak will crack your head open you if you touch her man”). It’s all about mutual respect, aka the realization that we need to work with each other to survive. Tough balance to find, and democracy is historically weak when it comes to community — being that 49% of the population can be disgruntled over any particular decision. Consensus building works better, but (alas) takes a lot of time.

      • But even then, it’s subjective. What IS civility, exactly, in 2013?

        With politics as nasty as ever and the overbearing inclusion of social media, this is a whole new world. Free speech, online privacy, personal rights, and, yes, civility, have all become a new beast.

        Civility is not a universal concept or language anymore. It’s sad.

  52. Wow Dan, who knew that a seemingly minor posting on comments on comments would blow past 180 comments! While many are insightful you still get the Bickerson’s, it reminds me of a former client (me: a private chef) decades ago, a retired CEO of a major banking institution who was thrilled each time one of his letters to the editor of the local paper was published. Dan, your 06880 is akin to the Letter to the Editor.

  53. Sank T. Monious

    Dan, your parents did a good job buddy. Happy New Year!!!!!

  54. Peter Schwartz

    I don’t have a problem with anonymous comments and see why some folks NEED to comment anonymously. “Peter Schwartz” is my pseudonym. The only change I’d make is one to ensure that pseudonyms are unique. You want some constancy of persona in a discussion. So perhaps the blog should attach each email account to one pseudonym (or name) permanently and disallow duplicates. So, only one Anon46.

    As far as liberals demanding conformity to certain views and then freeing themselves of the need to conform to those views…one only has to look at the many, many, many bloodbaths now going on among conservatives to see how un-unique this is to liberals. Tea Bag Nation has enforced overwhelming conformity to a narrow range of views and policies and has actually paid a fairly heavy price, post-2010, for it. How range of things that a conservative “has” to be for, starting with “limited government” and moving on to the “right to bear arms.”

    • Sank T. Monious

      Peter Schwartzersatz:
      How do you feel about the ethics of appropriating the real Peter Schwartz’s name? Isn’t that like minor league identity theft?

      • Peter Schwartz

        Here’s the thing about “Peter Schwartz.” There are many of us, and many of us can fit inside even one “Peter Schwartz.” However, there is only one real Peter Schwartz, and he’s a Platonic idea. So I never worry about appropriating the name “Peter Schwartz.” He’s like love: The more he’s appropriated, the more there is of him for everyone else.

  55. Peter Schwartz

    As far as “civility” goes…you know it when you see it. But you can’t really define it. Or impose it. Imposing it is uncivil. Which is why carrying to create “a polite society” is both uncivil and inherently violent. We shouldn’t want a too-civil society, but it’s nice to have one that works.

  56. Dan, two comments. First, If I ever knew you were a Red Sux fan I NEVER would have set foot in this blog! Second, regarding the subject of this thread, I have sinned as I wrote to you the other day about and promised to always use my real name from now on. I’ve never posted nasty stuff like some people do but on two occasions I allowed others comments to respond in not such a nice way. And that’s the point I want to make. If the people who regularly enjoy your blog and participate in a human way, I highly suggest you simply ignore those nasty comments. It’s those responses that cause all the problems. I’m very against you monitoring names or any big brother’ish stuff. I served 4 years in the United States Air Force to help protect these idiots rights to say what they want to say but the constitution doesn’t say anything about responding to garbage. With that said I would hope everyone simply try to ignore when anonymous posters crash the site and interject garbage. Just leave it alone and make believe it’s not there and these people will slowly disappear. Every time these people get a response it simply energizes them to come back for more. Ignore, people, ignore!

  57. Peter Schwartz

    Four, now five, Schwartzian comments in a row. Must be a zodiacal first.

  58. Peter Schwartz

    Anonymous | January 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Reply

    Your argument about $2 per day workers, and its racist tone, is utterly disengenous.

    P.S. I use the word coolie because that is how they’re treated, even by THEIR standards. Perhaps you’ve read about the riots at Foxconn; workers sleeping in poor quarters. Maybe you think the rioters are also “thugs” because they don’t want to accept the shit thrown at them. Maybe you think the slaves were happy because they sang out in the cotton fields.

    A: Wage comparisons need to be adjusted for PPP. Moreover, the strength of the move to lower wage costs is directly proportional to the amount local wages are above the market clearing price.

    P.S. No longer. Capital flies around the world looking for the cheapest resources, labor and production. This puts Chinese workers in DIRECT competition with U.S. workers. So capital can always buy low (labor) and sell high (back in the U.S. and elsewhere) leveraging cheap labor many thousands of %.

    The tendency to substitute labor for capital is driven in large part by the same variable.

    A: Unions may be 14% of the private sector work force, but that is not the standard used to measure monopoly power. If unions have complete control to access in jobs an a given sector, then they have monopoly power in that sector.

    P.S. In which sector do they have “complete control”?

    A: Why don’t workers in other countries deserve jobs?

    P.S. I didn’t say they didn’t.

  59. What part or racial slur do you not understand?

    “Historically, a coolie (variously spelled cooli, cooly, kuli, quli, koelie etc.) was an Asian slave or manual laborer, particularly in southern China, the Indian subcontinent, and the Philippines during the 19th century and early 20th century. It is also a contemporary racial slur for people of Asian descent, including people from South Asia, Central Asia, etc.,[1] particularly in South Africa.[2]”

    I have proved my point about the efficacy of unions; the number of union members in the private sector is declining, the market has spoken. If the market wanted more union workers, there would be more of them, that is how the market reveals preferences.

    Clearly you have no idea what adjusting wages for PPP entails. The liquidity of capital is not the issue in this case. If a loaf of bread in the country receiving the jobs costs $.20 and it cost $2.00 in the country losing the job, then there is no reason to expect nominal wages to be the same or close to the same.

    The owners of capital have the right to seek the highest return on their capital. If you want to increase the return to labor relative to the return to capital, then you can either increase the supply of capital or decrease the supply of labor.

    In non-right to work states, in union shops, the union is the only entity that can collect dues; that makes it a monopoly.

    If jobs move to other countries, they are not lost are they? If the poeple in those countries deserve jobs, then what reason do you have to deny them jobs?

    I did not see your response to the Gini coefficient argument or the matter of Pareto Optimality. Taxes redistribute wealth and income thereby making some better off and some worse off.

    • Peter Schwartz

      Okay, one last time, then I have to stop…

      What part or racial slur do you not understand?

      “Historically, a coolie (variously spelled cooli, cooly, kuli, quli, koelie etc.) was an Asian slave or manual laborer, particularly in southern China, the Indian subcontinent, and the Philippines during the 19th century and early 20th century. It is also a contemporary racial slur for people of Asian descent, including people from South Asia, Central Asia, etc.,[1] particularly in South Africa.[2]”

      P.S. They are being treated like coolies. Modern day coolies.

      I have proved my point about the efficacy of unions; the number of union members in the private sector is declining, the market has spoken. If the market wanted more union workers, there would be more of them, that is how the market reveals preferences.

      P.S. No, you have not. You might as well say that because the number of Jews in Poland declined after WWII, the “market has spoken” because there are fewer Jews now than before. The market has “revealed its preference” for fewer Jews. Factors other than economic ones produce social and economic phenomena. You’ve turned the market into an oracle.

      A: Clearly you have no idea what adjusting wages for PPP entails. The liquidity of capital is not the issue in this case. If a loaf of bread in the country receiving the jobs costs $.20 and it cost $2.00 in the country losing the job, then there is no reason to expect nominal wages to be the same or close to the same.

      P.S.: Capital has flown to China and elsewhere because the labor and other resources are cheaper. Corporation X is experiencing higher costs with American workers than Chinese workers. That’s why they go. That puts American workers in competition with Chinese workers who will work for much, much less. This has nothing to do with the nominality of wages. Corporation X saves money, pays less, much less, in American dollars, by going abroad.

      A: The owners of capital have the right to seek the highest return on their capital. If you want to increase the return to labor relative to the return to capital, then you can either increase the supply of capital or decrease the supply of labor.

      P.S. And labor has the right to seek the greatest remuneration for its work.

      A: In non-right to work states, in union shops, the union is the only entity that can collect dues; that makes it a monopoly.

      P.S. Who else would collect dues? The chess club?

      A: If jobs move to other countries, they are not lost are they? If the poeple in those countries deserve jobs, then what reason do you have to deny them jobs?

      P.S. Your first statement would only be meaningful if workers could fly across borders the way capital does. I’m not denying them jobs. It is the American capitalist who is taking away the jobs of workers here.

      A: I did not see your response to the Gini coefficient argument or the matter of Pareto Optimality. Taxes redistribute wealth and income thereby making some better off and some worse off.

      P.S. It’s there. We’ve had a long time with the income tax. But it’s only been in the last 30 years that there’s been tremendous redistribution of income and wealth… upward. An embarrassment of riches for the few, and a decline in wealth for the many. That’s not the result of the creation of an income tax nor taxes in general, except in the way they are skewed now in favor of the wealthy.

      Anyway, A, gotta go. Good talking with you.

  60. Peter Schwartz

    A: Taxes redistribute income. The Gini Coefficient for income in the US is higher after tax than before; hence taxes redistribute income.

    P.S. I would say you’re pretty sloppy with your “hences” and “therefores.” “There are some issues in interpreting a Gini coefficient. The same value may result from many different distribution curves. The demographic structure should be taken into account. Countries with an aging population, or with a baby boom, experience an increasing pre-tax Gini coefficient even if real income distribution for working adults remain constant. Scholars have devised over a dozen variants of the Gini coefficient

    A: If I wanted to build a road I would voluntarily pay to have the road built. Virtually no government program does not make some one worse off in order to make others better off. They are not Pareto Optimal.

    P.S. Even if you had enough money on your own, you couldn’t do this. You would have to appropriate other people’s land. There’s no way serious road-building isn’t a collective, i.e., government, operation, even if the road is then sold to a private operator.

    Even where there is redistribution–say, in welfare or education–those who put the money in are, arguably, better because they live in a society that educates its young and takes care of its vulnerable. You can’t reduce community and quality of life to dollars and sense. Tho’ maybe you can.

    A: The CEO is paid a severance if he has a contract that provided for severance. Unlike the IRS, he cannot hold a gun to the heads of the BOD and force them to pay up.

    P.S. He can be forced by a court of law. His assets can be taken from him. And people who enter into contracts want this assurance. If the fulfillment of a contract depended ONLY on the voluntary goodwill of all parties–and didn’t have the force of law–it would be a different world. Stop with the gun histrionics.

    A: Jefferson’s view on slavery is irrelevant when discussing Jefferson’s view on taxes. The country function just fine from 1792 until 1913 without a federal incom etax.

    P.S. You brought up Jefferson and called him a “liberal.” He was not. Not as a slaveholder and not as one who believed in the biological inferiority of black folk. Washington, who had seen blacks fight valiantly in the war, had his views softened, but still couldn’t free himself of the thought that he needed slaves to maintain what was, frankly, an aristocratic lifestyle. The same for Jefferson and probably the others.

    In general, however, the right has frozen the “founders” into marble statues whose words were etched in stone. This is historically false and is simply an appropriation of the past solely to meet the ideological demands of the present. And one particular ideological party in the present. They would be surprised to what we’ve made of them and their Constitution. It was Jefferson, in fact, who believed that each generation should start anew with the previous generation’s debt canceled and the opportunity to write its own constitution from scratch according to the needs and realities it faced.

    “The Earth belongs in usufruct for the living.”

    IOW, there’s no reason why later generations couldn’t or shouldn’t create whatever taxing system they thought best and met their needs best. The country got along “fine”–whatever that means–but it got along even better after 1913. Much more and quicker progress in every sphere of endeavor across the board.

    Anonymous, unfortunately, this is becoming laborious as the system forces me to scroll up and down a long thread to read and paste. I’ll have to leave it here…Peter

  61. Table C. Household money income
    distributions and Gini Index, USA[57]

    Income bracket
    (in 2010 adjusted dollars)

    % of Population

    % of Population

    Under $15,000



    $15,000 – $24,999



    $25,000 – $34,999



    $35,000 – $49,999



    $50,000 – $74,999



    $75,000 – $99,999



    $100,000 – $149,999



    $150,000 – $199,999



    $200,000 and over



    Total Households



    United State’s Gini
    on pre-tax basis



    Gini coefficient is unable to discern the effects of structural changes in populations[48]
    Expanding on the importance of life-span measures, the Gini coefficient as a point-estimate of equality at a certain time, ignores life-span changes in income. Typically, increases in the proportion of young or old members of a society will drive apparent changes in equality, simply because people generally have lower incomes and wealth when they are young than when they are old. Because of this, factors such as age distribution within a population and mobility within income classes can create the appearance of inequality when none exist taking into account demographic effects. Thus a given economy may have a higher Gini coefficient at any one point in time compared to another, while the Gini coefficient calculated over individuals’ lifetime income is actually lower than the apparently more equal (at a given point in time) economy’s.[14] Essentially, what matters is not just inequality in any particular year, but the composition of the distribution over time.

    Kwok claims income Gini index for Hong Kong has been high (0.434 in 2010[50]), in part because of structural changes in its population. Over recent decades, Hong Kong has witnessed increasing numbers of small households, elderly households and elderly living alone. The combined income is now split into more households. Many old people are living separately from their children in Hong Kong. These social changes have caused substantial changes in household income distribution. Income Gini coefficient, claims Kwok, does not discern these structural changes in its society.[48]