Democrats & Liberals Archives

Money for Nothing And Checks For Free

The whole thing of preserving the tax cuts isn’t centered on being economic, it’s centered on being lazy. It’s centered on getting free money.

This argument that we’re earning it and they’re taking it away from us is absurd. A properly functioning government returns our taxes to us in the form of infrastructure, a system of law and order, and the ability to bargain and make war with other nations to see our interests taken care of. We pay for the benefit of having a country, having a civilization, having communities that function and thrive.

Taxpaying is our duty, and that duty is something we evoke every time we appeal to raising the quality of government by saying that as taxpayers we deserve to see things done right- in short, we are saying, I did my duty, now they should do theirs.

Only nowadays, there isn't that sensibility on either side, and that's why we're running a deficit. It's easier to keep spending down when there is a threshold to cross. Overspending is like theft. If you're going to steal, you might as well take all you want, rather than see little profit from your transgression.

A big deficit means plenty of room for pork, defense, and program spending that makes these people popular with folks back home. It's addictive. Once you start spending into debt, it's deferred anyways, so why not go deeper?

We need to restore enough taxes to get us at least within a hundred million of the break-even point, if not closer. With revenue-based spending, we have that point as a metric by which to measure how badly we really want a program or other expensive item: if we're not willing to raise taxes to get it, we don't get it. If we take in more than we receive, we can choose between a policy of debt reduction, and given true tax cuts back to the people- tax cuts unburdened by the necessity to pay back the deficit spending they create.

Fact of the matter is, Bush tax policy is hiding the real costs of Bush's other policies from people and only deferring those costs until later, on the theory that at some future date we could pay for all the fun we've had. But when the bill comes due, we will still have to pay our taxes in order to resolve our debts. We got all these supply-side financial wizards telling us how well the economy's doing because of our tax cuts, even as interest rates steadily rise and our debt skyrockets. They tell us it'll help starve the beast, but the beast is over in the corner picking its teeth with quarter percentage points as it bloats on record deficit spending.

Bush's policy is one of those kinds of lies that people accept because it gets repeated so often. I think the American Economy is robust enough to take the hit, and will be much more prosperous in the years ahead if we don't eat up our future now with unpaid-for spending.

I think true fiscal conservatives should look on the brightside of tax hikes: it's easier to get people to stop spending so much when they they have to count the bills coming out of their wallets.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at October 18, 2005 1:06 PM
Comments
Comment #86453

But they will try to make the tax cuts permanent. And they will work diligently toward their not so secret goal of undermining social spending programs. While Soc. Sec. is off the table for the moment, Republicans are going to drop the other foot on Medical care. You see, they passed a Rx drug plan made enormously more expensive by Republican’s insistence that drug making companies not have to bid against each other which would have lowered their contract price to the federal taxpayer. Hence they quite deliberately passed the bill to make Medicare unaffordable. Now the other foot drops on Medicare, cutting billions from the program, and that is just a first installment.

The ultimate goal of supply-siders, is so increase the national debt, that social spending programs become obviously unaffordable, hence justifying their elimination, as Pres. Bush was want to do with the Soc. Security reform, which would have ultimately replaced the program with one in which each person is on their own to save for themselves, if they can.

OK! Republicans blew it, and voters can see that now, but, I have yet to hear a single Democrat foster a balanced budget plan. Democrats are all about allowing the tax cuts to sunset, making them just as one-sided and irresponsible and incompetent as Republicans. To rescue our fiscal health and the next generation of workers in schools today, spending cuts AND increasing taxes are needed, which I have been writing about for years, now with no audience. Apparently, I have one now, small though it is.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 18, 2005 2:16 PM
Comment #86456

Tax hikes are the same as a cut in pay.
Balance the budget? Get rid of the pork, feel-good programs and lead by example.

Posted by: kctim at October 18, 2005 2:18 PM
Comment #86459

Kctim said: “Tax hikes are the same as a cut in pay.”

Actually, tax hikes today, to buy down deficits and debt, are tax savings for tomorrow’s workers. Even Republican Senators are out this week saying we are on track for 11 trillion of national debt by 2009. May I remind you that Republicans came in full control of the budgetary and tax policy in 2000 with a national debt of 5.7 Trillion. They will have doubled it in less than 9 years.

If you think we can cut federal spending by 5 plus trillion dollars in five years without revolution and/or civil strife in this country, you are dreaming. Hence, tax hikes today mean keeping more of one’s paycheck tomorrow, if it lowers the deficit and debt. It only takes political will to do both, allow tax cuts to sunset and cut spending. But Republicans will have none of that kind of fiscal responsibility and discipline. It would cost them their political capital at the polls.

I suggest their political capital is already bankrupt if the polls mean anything at all.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 18, 2005 2:27 PM
Comment #86460

Tax hikes are coming, because democrats will probably win back both houses, and the Executive Branch too.

Balanced budget, get rid of pork-barrel, waste, graft, irresponsible spending ? Only in your dreams. It’s very unlikely if both main parties continue to take turns runnin’ the country into the ground.

The problem is, regardless of which wing wins, they continue to fly around in circles, and continue to be fiscally & morally bankrupt.
Nothing will change (not much anyway).
The debt is so large now, it may be too late.

It’s doubtful that any reforms will occur.
Government will continue to be for-sale, politicians will continue to peddle influence, and the people will continue to be used and abused.

One possible way to stop the insanity is to oust both main parties who just take turns being irresponsible and unaccountable, and start recalling the most corrupt politicians.
Neither party stands for much of anything anymore. Both main parties are having a good laugh though, because they arrogantly believe we’ll keep empowering them to simply continue to take turns gettin’ theirs, votin’ on pork-barrel, graft, more perks & raises, and being generally irresponsible and unaccountable.

Who here really thinks the federal government is responsible and accountable ?

If your answer is NO, then why continue to empower it to continue to be so ?

Now that both main parties have thoroughly screwed-the-pooch this time, I’m votin’ non-incumbent from now on, and all third parties and all independents should jump at this opportunity to advocate that same message.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 18, 2005 2:41 PM
Comment #86465

“Actually, tax hikes today, to buy down deficits and debt, are tax savings for tomorrow’s workers”

Not all of tomorrow’s workers are todays voters though.
As long as our reps keep allowing funding for ridiculous programs, todays voters are not going to agree to pay more.
It makes no sense.
They need to cut spending, bigtime, and convince the voters to do whats best.

Posted by: kctim at October 18, 2005 3:15 PM
Comment #86476

kctim said: “They need to cut spending, bigtime, and convince the voters to do whats best.”

And they need to raise taxes on those who will not suffer from the increases, and convince those special interests to do what’s best for their country as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 18, 2005 4:00 PM
Comment #86478

What’s stopping them? We’ve been running deficits for a few years now, and Republican spending shows no signs of stopping. While d.a.n. and David’s plans are no less deferred than that debts we’re going to end up incurring, yours, kctim, is just as unrealistic. Like it or not, these entitlements are already integrated into our economy. You’re taking from one side to give to another.

But just as unrealistic and ill-advised as a solution to our situation is the current Republican tax policy, if you can really define one out of the mess of tax deductions, write-offs and cuts that they put into the law. They are betting that when all this debt comes due, we’ll be in grand economic shape, and the dead weight will fall on an economy with capable shoulders.

Frankly, our government is bleeding money, and you all are proposing grand spending cuts or great big changes of government that are years in the offing. What I propose is that we stabilize the patient, and get back to the point where the amount of taxes we take in closely approximates what we spend.

Today’s policies are like a credit card in the hand of a teenager. Sure, you’re not paying anything now. But you will later, and your credit will suffer if you fail to pay off your bills, and your wallet will suffer as you are forced to take care of the expenses of living beyond your means.

Only if we recognize that the bills we run up are the taxes we pay, will there be any public support for austerity in spending. People might approve more government spending, but that is the decision of the American people, and it will be done with an awareness that we pay for what we get.

I think this business of spending cuts is fine, as long as we are cutting the frivolous and the unnecessary. otherwise, we’re just finding new ways to bleed money out of our hands. Government money is spent in the context of our country, and what we take from medicare and other entitlements, we are forced to pay elsewhere. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and to paraphrase Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption We either get busy paying, or we get busy going bankrupt. It’s a hard choice, but I think we’re adults here, and should be familiar with tough choices. Too much about politics nowadays is about avoiding difficulties, instead of confronting them and resolving them before they become worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 18, 2005 4:05 PM
Comment #86482

This is why the Republicans are going to lose out in the future elections.
________________________________________
QUESTION: Do you think the economy is headed in the right direction?

N = 7,882 Margin of Error +/- 1.5%
…….. Yes …… No …. Undecided
Dem …. 4.0% …. 92.0% …. 3.9%
Ind …. 19.8% …. 71.9% …. 8.3%
Rep …. 58.3% …. 28.8% …. 12.8%

Overall Percentages:
28.2% believe the economy is headed in the right direction
63.3% do not…
8.5% are undecided
_________________________________________

I hope Third parties and Independents are paying attention to this. Voters may be gettin’ fed up with both parties. I surely hope we don’t just keep lettin’ the two main parties take turns usin’ and abusin’ the nation.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 18, 2005 4:18 PM
Comment #86486

David
“And they need to raise taxes on those who will not suffer from the increases, and convince those special interests to do what’s best for their country as well”

Those who will not “suffer” make up the majority of voters. If a politician wants to keep his votes, he must convince his voters that Washington is serious or they will not support more pay cuts.
Special interests are only concerned with their personal interest and it comes before everything else.

Posted by: kctim at October 18, 2005 4:32 PM
Comment #86487

“yours, kctim, is just as unrealistic”

Why?
Nothing will get done if politicians are afraid of losing their voters.
If they lead by example, then maybe they could scam another pay cut onto the people without a backlash at the polls.

Posted by: kctim at October 18, 2005 4:35 PM
Comment #86497

There’s so much waste in government, it would be easy to cut about $500 billion out of the annual budget without adversely affecting the economy (in fact, it would probably help the economy). For one thing, start with this list. We don’t need all of that.

The government has grown so huge, there are litterally thousands of places to cut waste. Start with all the pork-barrel ( www.cagw.org ), and then cut useless departments (like the Energy Department and the Bureau of Economic Analysis…since they obviously don’t know what they’re doing). Then cut salaries of Congress, and the Executive Branch.
Then cut the numerous unnecessary commissions, committees, and some of the gang of over two million in the Executive branch (that is neither seen nor heard as it throttles our freedoms and prosperity), and the hundreds of thousands employees employed by the 435 in Congress.
Then cut the bribes going to N. Korea, and other countries. Cut all of the spending used to other countries used to control those countries.
Then fix the tax system. But, never, never raise taxes. Government already gets 19% of GDP and it should be reduced to 15%. The federal government has grown to such nightmare proportions, there are thousands of places to cut waste and unnecessary, useless, crap that adds no net benefit to society. Government employs more people than all manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Duuhhhhh ! Cut spending ! Don’t ever fall for the ploy that we need to raise taxes. For Pete’s sake ! They are already getting $2.2 trillion per year ! That’s over 19% of GDP ! They don’t need more money ! That’s like giving alcohol to a alcoholic ! Please, repeat after George Herbert Walker Bush:
READ MY LIPS !
NO NEW TAXES !
NO NEW TAXES !
NO NEW TAXES !

New Mantra:
PLEASE CUT SPENDING AND BORROWING AND STOP BANKRUPTING THE NATION !
PLEASE STOP GROWING GOVERNMENT EVER LARGER !
PLEASE STOP GIVING TAX CUTS TO THE RICH !
PLEASE FIX THE STUPID TAX SYSTEM !
PLEASE STOP THE PORK-BARREL and WASTE !
PLEASE STOP PLUNDERING THE ENTITLEMENT SYSTEMS !
PLEASE STOP STARTING WARS BASED ON BAD INFORMATION !
PLEASE STOP ALIENATING OUR ALLIES !
PLEASE STOP VOTING YOURSELVES RAISES, UNTIL YOU DO SOMETHING TO DESERVE IT !
PLEASE STOP PEDDLING INFLUENCE - GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE FOR SALE !
PLEASE STOP ELECTION FRAUD !
PLEASE STOP CAMPAIGN FINANCE FRAUD !
PLEASE STOP BLOCKING ACCESS OF 3rd PARTIES and INDEPENDENTS TO BALLOTS, DEBATES, AND THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS !
PLEASE STOP PANDERING !
PLEASE STOP IGNORING OUR OPEN BORDERS AND CALLING THE MINUTE MEN VIGILANTES !
PLEASE STOP IGNORING ALL VOTERS EXCEPT THE 10% of THE POPULATION WITH 79% OF ALL WEALTH !
PLEASE STOP BEING ARROGANT, IRRESPONSIBLE, AND UNACCOUNTABLE !
PLEASE STOP USIN’ and ABUSIN’ THE PEOPLE !
PLEASE GET SOME #@!%^*$ BACKBONE AND START GOVERNING RESPONSIBLY !

Otherwise, we’re gonna all march on D.C. and beat the crap out of all you crooked, bought-and-paid-for pieces of @#$!@#$!

Or, a more peaceful approach: Vote ‘em all out…vote only for non-incumbents.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 18, 2005 6:06 PM
Comment #86499

kctim-
Pay cut? Well, if you’re going to engage in cute wordplay, why don’t I call your tax cuts what they really are: An investment in our competition. The people buying the debt from your wonderful little “pay raises” are the people taking our jobs away!

Which I might call the ultimate pay cut, but then it might get confused with the fiscally sound raising of taxes. God, when did you guys get so rigid-minded about this? Probably every president who has lowered taxes has raised them again, including your hero Reagan, who did it three times.

Why? Because tax cuts by themselves are not a fiscal policy. They are a good thing sometimes, but used all the time, they create debt, create inflation, and make it more difficult to borrow money where its needed.

This administration has been absolutely cowardly about taking responsibility for the nation’s finances, and worse has lead the American people to be phobic about sensible finances to. After 9/11, was Bush calling for Americans to sacrifice, live within their means, keep themselves financially solvent? No. he encourage a record explosion of debt-financed spending.

I’m sick and tired of this, sick and tired of being surrounded by debt. Truth is, if we’ve spent ourselves this much into the hole, we’re not back on our feet like the president has said, and all gains we have are ephemeral.

Call things what they are and reject this culture of euphemism, irresponsibility, and impracticality. Assume that in your life that you have to give something up to call yourself a citizen of the home of the free and the land of the brave, that freedom, literally, is not free. You don’t have to let the tax burden explode recklessly, but for heaven’s sake admit that that you have to pay some price for living here.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 18, 2005 6:11 PM
Comment #86500

d.a.n.
Take the word please out of your list and it’ll be perfect.
As taxpayers we have a right to demand thoes things out of our elected officials. There’s NO WAY we should have to ask or beg for them.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 18, 2005 6:19 PM
Comment #86502

Right Ron. How about ending each one with: OR ELSE !

Posted by: d.a.n at October 18, 2005 6:25 PM
Comment #86513

VERY GOOD IDEA d.a.n !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 18, 2005 7:06 PM
Comment #86520

Stephen,

The tax cuts are NOT what is driving up the borrowing and debt. People need to stop getting those confused.

The debt and borrowing is because the federal government is constantly fattening itself up, aquiring more power and spending more and more money. A lot of the money they do spend is for gaining more power, not helping anyone. Do you REALLY think that thevernmental aid programs are getting to the people they need to get to at the most economical way? The mindless beauracracy that our tax dollar has to go through (the myriad of hands that each dollar has to touch, getting their piece of our pie) is staggering and growing each and every year.

And this president hasn’t had the backbone to veto one single bill, send back one single budget.

It’s a damn shame when the republicans act like the democrats and the democrats see their own game being played against them and NOW cry foul. Only their response is to try to play the game MORE, taking MORE of our money to build up MORE power.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 18, 2005 8:00 PM
Comment #86530

Rhinehold-
Maybe in your philosophical notion of things, tax cuts aren’t the problem, but from an objective point of view, it’s hairsplitting- whether you call it over-spending or under-financing, it amounts to one thing: We don’t have the revenue to cover our costs of government. The largest part of what’s eating up that revenue is the tax cuts. Go figure, people might think the tax cuts are driving up the deficit.

As for Bureaucracy, sit down for a moment and consider this: We live in a country of 290 million souls, with fifty states, tens of thousands of municipalities, and a society more technologically advanced than anything its founders could have imagined. Bureaucracy can be problematic, but it’s also necessary, when the size and complexity of a nation reaches that of ours. It’s a Goldilocks thing: put too many middlemen in the process, and it slows down. Put too few, and you overwork your bureaucrats, and that reduces efficiency as well. The key is to strike a balance, not to try and force one on a system that won’t function your way.

My response is not principly to take your money. I’m a taxpayer too. My reponse is that I’d rather present you with the bill than quietly raise a mounting tab in your name.

I think you’re rational enough to realize that at heart I’m very much the fiscal conservative. We should pay for what we spend. If we’re not willing or able to reduce spending fairly quickly, that means raising taxes, something I wouldn’t approve of being the perpetual solution.

I just think y’all are being idealists about spending cuts and tax cuts, and you’re failing to confront the real problem, because it’s become so ingrained in your minds that this economy needs tax cuts to prosper. Unfortunately, you’re spending away your future prosperity to avoid damaging the current. Will we have the prosperity to spare when the time comes? That’s a gamble I’m too old fashion about fiscal matters to make.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 18, 2005 10:02 PM
Comment #86534

Yes, I’ll say it. If it wasn’t GeeDubya’s
tax cuts that wiped out {Gasp!} Clinton’s big old
surplus what the hell was it? And please don’t
drag out the Twin Towers and Katrina and the
“war on terrorism”. We don’t buy that anymore.

Posted by: Disgusted in GA at October 18, 2005 10:33 PM
Comment #86543

Disgusted,

You should take a second look at ‘Clinton’s surplus’, it wasn’t what you think it was…

Stephen,

Ok, how much of the government’s should the american citizen be allowed to keep then? 50%? 20%? Just enough to get by with the government keeping the rest to make sure everyone is making the same?

The more money that the government sucks up into their pork projects and powergrabbing, the less money is in the actual economy to earn profits for the american people. Yes, there is a certain amount of money that the government needs to function on, but it should take that and NO MORE. Right now we are funding way too many programs that do no good for anyone and are in place just to pay back contributors and keep politicians in power. This country once worked without an ‘income’ tax. In fact, it was only allowed to exist by a constitutional amendment less than 100 years ago. And at the time, it was determined that no limit needed to be put in because, as one person at the time put it, ‘if we tried to raise the income tax above 1% the american people would lynch us’.

I guess he underestemated the sheepishness that the citizens of the United States would turn towards…

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 19, 2005 12:12 AM
Comment #86547

Rhinehold-
How much are we willing to pay? That’s the real question. It’s our government, and the sooner we take ownership of it, rather than dealing with it as if it’s some bizarre space invader, the sooner we get more responsible.

The ugly truth is that people let the government spend, because often it gets spent on them. Jobs, benefits, entitlements- these things get bigger because people want them, and your tax cuts make it far easier to want them.

As long as we fail to match taxes to the price of government, we fail to give people the incentive to be concerned about what they are paying for. Tell people: you want a tax cuts, we’ll cut waste, and you’ll tell us as a country what you can live without.

Any other way, and taxpayers don’t have to make the choice.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 12:31 AM
Comment #86559

tax increases equal pay cuts?

Interestingly enough, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever seeing millionaires taking a pay cut.

Posted by: Thom Houts at October 19, 2005 5:16 AM
Comment #86576

The fiscal mess this country’s in right now makes a balanced budget amendment look pretty good right now. I used to think such an amendment was not necessary. However, after seeing how politicians of both major parties are spineless in regards to fiscal matters, I’m thinking that such an amendment might be our only hope. I shudder to think of the economic straits we’ll be in when all the bills come due—or whenever the baby boom retires, whichever comes first.

Posted by: J. R. Milks at October 19, 2005 8:58 AM
Comment #86580

Let’s face it gang, our government is broken and we can’t do a thing about it! At least until we get rid of all the K-Street bunch that really run the country. And we didn’t even get a chance to vote for the K-Street gang.

The GOP has trashed our economy. Who else can turn billions in surplus to trillions in deficit in only 4 years! The GOP, thats who.

Fix the tax system? I say abolish the tax system and implement the Fair Tax system. You will never be able to have a fair tax code until you eliminate the current system. It was created to help the rich gain ever more riches on the back of the middle class. And the middle clas is on the verge of rebellion against an incompetent government.

It’s time for the people to take back the country. After all, it is suppose to be a government for the people, by the people and not for the corporations by he corporations. Last time I looked a corporation is not a living being and cannot vote for national office. Only a human can do that!

It is time for the people to rise up and take control.

Posted by: Richard at October 19, 2005 9:21 AM
Comment #86581

SD
“God, when did you guys get so rigid-minded about this?”

That is why you cannot or will not see both sides of this issue. You are making it a left vs right thing and I was not.
Read my first posts again. I didnt even mention this as a left or right thing. I simply said that if politicians expect the people to accept their pay cuts, then the politicians themselves are going to have to lead by example or suffer at the polls.
I said nothing of how unfair taxes are, the ridiculous programs they are wasted on or how they are used to force a belief onto others.
I was only trying to be openminded and look at it from what I think politicians should do first angle.

Posted by: kctim at October 19, 2005 9:22 AM
Comment #86584
OK! Republicans blew it, and voters can see that now, but, I have yet to hear a single Democrat foster a balanced budget plan.

David, that’s totally untrue. You know damned well we have legislation that Republicans are ignoring to reinstate the pay-as-you-go rule and stop fast tracking any legislation that would increase the deficit.

The tax cuts are NOT what is driving up the borrowing and debt.

Yeah, Rhinehold, they really are. Somebody even put up a pie chart recently that made it very clear.

Posted by: American Pundit at October 19, 2005 9:34 AM
Comment #86585

Stephen,

With all due respect I do not think you could be more wrong about this… Repealing the tax cuts will only lead to this government spending that money also. You can’t throw money at this problem because lack of funding is not the issue. Overspending is. That is Rhineold’s point IMO.

This is like a parent who’s 30 year old child has always come to them for money when they screw up and can’t pay the credit card bills that they have racked up. And the parent has always bailed them out without making them pay the money back to anyone. The child begins to understand that no matter what, mom and dad will bail them out, and because of this the child never learns to budget, save, etc… And why should they? The enabler parent will always provide what they need. Now, should the parent let the child starve and become homeless? Of course not. But should they pay their credit card bills for them so that they can continue to live their life as if they never existed? Absolutly not!

Under your ideal the American taxpayers have become that enabler parent, and the 30 year old child the Government. Is anyone saying that we should not pay any taxes, effectivly letting the government starve? Of course not. But are we as “parents” deciding that, instead of just paying them the money to “help them out” we are right in demanding that they cut up their cards (Reduce spending) before we just go handing them more amd more money? Absolutly.

I think people would be a bit more forthcoming with paying taxes if they felt that they were actually going to a government that was managing them correctly.

Posted by: BradM at October 19, 2005 9:37 AM
Comment #86590
I say abolish the tax system and implement the Fair Tax system. You will never be able to have a fair tax code until you eliminate the current system.

Richard, Absolutly! I could not agree more. Along with many other reasons, getting rid of the K street lobyists (as the Fair Tax would) is probably the best thing that could happen to our national government at this point. Get rid of them and you will get rid of a lot of special interest spending. The politicians may actually be controlled by the people again instead of the lobyists.

Posted by: BradM at October 19, 2005 10:04 AM
Comment #86594

The government owns the printing presses. They dont have to balance anything.

Nobody knows how much of a deficit is too much and we wont know until well after that point is reached. For some reason, economists aren’t smart enough to figure it out.


Posted by: Ms Schwamp at October 19, 2005 10:15 AM
Comment #86600

Some economists know.
There are an increasing number of economists that are starting to raise red flags about the direction of the nation.

www.speaking.com/speakers/harrydentjr.html

www.s-a-f-e.org/generational_storm.htm

Here are two tax system solutions I’d support.
I prefer (a) to (b), but either would be better than what we have now.

(a) would be easier to adjust to, because it would require the least change.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 10:36 AM
Comment #86608

Interesting discussions…pro and con. I am not smart enough to argue for the benefits or the downsides to large deficits or how much of a deficit we can handle. My gut tells me they are bad and will create incredible downstream financial woes. Realistic spending cuts will only gain a modest amount of traction toward lowering the deficit levels that are growing today. And politcal will goes only so far with turning off the spending spigot. Basically I know we are borrowing huge amounts of money and paying ever increasing amounts of money toward the interest to service this debt…much of this money I think is owed to Japan, China and others who are propping up our economy.

If we can not calculate and explain the fiscal basis for each spending program, and the likely outcomes (how it will impact millions of American citizens) if we change this basis, we can not even begin to wrestle with the issue of increasing taxes to anyone’s satisfaction. Everything comes down to a choice or a tradeoff with many, many downstream impacts. For example cut Medicare entitlements and force more elderly people to pay higher out-of-pocket healthcare expenses from fixed income savings accounts and you end up with what? Greater numbers of bankrupt citizens who will no longer be buying other basic goods and services. This will result in higher prices and loss of jobs downstream for other segments of our population. It is all connected. And when you cut federal programs because we have fewer federal tax dollars to support them, magically, state and local taxes, sales taxes, and other forms of revenue producing “tricks” fill in the void…there is no free lunch. We just shift the burdens yet again.

Posted by: Bill at October 19, 2005 11:04 AM
Comment #86610

Approximately 20% of the federal budget is comprised of grants and cooperative agreements going back to state, local, and non-profit organizations. That’s because grants are the absolute best way to circumvent the constitution and infringe on the 10th amendment.

I will not support another dime of federal taxes until those programs, and their HUGE overhead structures, are completely eliminated. End of story…

Posted by: George in SC at October 19, 2005 11:25 AM
Comment #86612

J.R. Milks-
I don’t think a balanced budget amendment is a good idea any more than a permanent tax cut policy. Neither allows us the flexibility we need in our current times.

I recognize that sometimes there’s no avoiding a deficit. I also recognize that some times you have to bite the bullet and raise taxes. Neither is the most desireable option, but they have to be options, or otherwise we lose potential solutions to problems we face.

I think we must stiffen our own spines before we stiffen theres. We must get in our politician’s faces about this problem, because this should not be business as usual.

Richard-
The Lobbyists can only ply their influence to the extent that the politicians understand they can get away with things. If we keep informed, and don’t let things slide, we can make the legislator who gets into bed with lobbyists very uncomfortable. We are the final determinants of who gets in and who stays in. We can either choose to exercise this power in name only, or we can exercise it confident in our ability to make a difference. The last thing we need to believe is that we are powerless, because that’s the easiest way to convince us we don’t have the power.

As for the fair tax code? It’s regressive. As your income rises, the percentage of that income you need to survive goes down. Sales taxes increase the amount one needs to survive, which hurts the middle class and poor first.

The reality is, the progressive tax system actually takes less income from you than the top rate implies. Each bracket down from your top bracket is taxed at a lower percentage. Naturally, adding together this descending series of fractions from the top rate you owe on is going to produce less of a liability than taking a simple percentage at that rate. The Conservatives deliberately oversimply what is a complex but actually cheaper system because they want to give tax cuts to the upper class.

kctim-
If you are so open minded, why are tax hikes always off the table? I don’t rule out tax cuts, when the time is right. I don’t even rule out the shrinking of government, if that’s what Americans want. It folks like you who are taking options off the table before the discussion is even possible.

BradM-
Overspending? But it wouldn’t be overspending if we hadn’t had had the tax cuts! It’s shortsighted to say that it’s merely overspending, when much of this deficit would have never occured in the first place without the tax cuts. That’s what makes the Republican point of view on this so damn irresponsible- they make no connection between their behavior then, and the problems they have now.

Y’all are trying to argue limited government. Fine. Argue it with people aware and wide awake about what they’re spending, and this country not going further into debt. This isn’t some government deposited by an alien spaceship in Washington, D.C.. This is our government- hell, this is us! WE are spending and overspending, and underpaying. WE are the ones failing to put the money into the system to pay for all these wonderful things we’d like to have.

It doesn’t matter whether that this happens at proxy, through our elected representatives. We Americans are responsible for who we put in there. Let’s send the message, the strong message that we’re not satisfied.

The tax policy is not a result of a bad government here, it the result of an irresponsible public. And, no, we Democrats are not doing much better on this account. We all need to change.

Ms. Schwamp-
If the Government prints money to pay the debt, it’s called Monetizing it, and the result is a drop in our dollar’s value. That’s inflation.

As to how much debt is too much, it is a complex question, because our economy itself is complex. One thing for sure, though: Every time this government has spent into a deficite for a long time, the result has been economic hard times when the bill came due. The Seventies were payment for Vietnam and the Great Society, and Johnson’s refusal to raise the taxes necessary to cover it. The early nineties came about because of Reagan’s deficits. A good book to read in terms of this is The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind. If anybody thinks our current deficits are here just because, they should read that book. There’s a reason Paul O’Neill is no longer Treasury Secretary.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 11:30 AM
Comment #86615

Stephen

You obviously have not read the material on the fair tax. I suggest you read the book on fair taxes. Any tax is regressive, but we do have to fund government to do the things that keep the country together. I would certainly love to see the fair tax implemented. It is still far better than the horrendous system we currently have.

Posted by: Richard at October 19, 2005 11:49 AM
Comment #86618
Interestingly enough, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever seeing millionaires taking a pay cut.

This is exactly what I hate about the democratic party. Not ‘hey, we need X so we are willing, as a country, to do with Y’. It’s, ‘hey, those jackass millionaires have more than I do and I want some of it’.

When the democratic party gets beyond the class warfare that has been their bread and butter for the past 3 decades then this country might start moving in a better direction. It’s not the government’s job to make sure everyone is taken care of, it’s the individual’s job. Focusing our domestic policy on one of envy and greed, on both sides, only plays into the hands of the powergrabbing politicians who will continue to play us at each other while laughing themselves to the bank.

Get over the envy, look objectively at what the government is spending money on and evaluate better, more effective ways of resolving those issues. For example:

Local control of education. Local communities have a much better grasp on what their local needs for education are. Quit dictating to them with their own money how to teach their children (which hasn’t been working since we started trying it)

Local control of aid to the less fortunate. Local communities have a much better grasp on who is in need of help and who is leeching from the system. Quit making entitlements what AREN’T and put in local programs that actually help people.

End prohibition of recreational drugs and put programs in place to help those who have a problem with self control. By criminalizing drug use we sweep the problem under the rug and spend billions of dollars on trying to block the underground community from getting them, the community we create by making illegal in the first place. The people who abuse the drugs are in need of help, not criminalization, and it makes us hypocrites for making some drugs illegal and others not. We need to learn from our past mistakes regarding prohibition and work towards a better solution.

Eliminate all pork and spending that is not necessary. Why are we buliding bridges in places where there is no need for, and using a hurricane relief bill that is designed to help those thousands of miles away to do it? Make the bills focus only on what it is for and make them readable by everyone, not thousands upon thousands of pages long. If the ‘rider’ is not about the topic of the bill it should be an illegal law.

If we do those simple things, and there is more we could talk about, we could keep our taxes where they are and actually move forward on elminiating our deficit. And they aren’t hard things to do, they’re actually things we SHOULD be doing.

Stephen, I agree that there is a price for government, but when it is in the hands of the federal government over the local then it comes with a price of not being able to oversee and control it as well as we can with our local governments.

How many people even know the names of the local and state representatives? Shouldn’t we know that more than our federal ones? Since when did we start ignoring the 9th and 10th amendments and start allowing our federal government to act like our local ones? Why do we even have state lines anymore? Should someone representing California really have any say as to how people from North Carolina teach their children or take care of their poor? What do people in California even know about the needs of the people thousands of miles away?

The direction of the government, at the hands of the democrats and republicans, is about gaining and keeping power and centeralizing even more power under their control. It’s a joke and we as Americans should be appaled at what we’ve turned this country into.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 19, 2005 11:59 AM
Comment #86621

That fact is, with few exceptions, what government does now, won’t have a large impact for years (often decades later, even 50 years later). This is why it could be too late. The system has inertia. And this is a large nation.

We once had a larger National Debt (after World War 2), but we were a smaller nation, we also had incredible growth, manufacturing, and economic advantages that other war-ravaged nations didn’t have following the war.
Also, we didn’t have as many problems as we do now.

This time it is different. We are more vulnerable this time. And, we are not as fiscally and morally responsible either.
Some economists are now predicting a significant down-turn around 2010. There are several good books about the numerous reasons.
And, then, there’s history, if you believe in such cycles:

Provide a Link for your Image, as it creates problems for formatting the comments window- Contributing Editor

There’s always some nut cases running around predicting the end of the world, or the next great depression, but it’s not hard now to see it actually happening, based on the facts presented by these writers and econommists:

www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/862477/posts
www.s-a-f-e.org/generational_storm.htm
www.speaking.com/speakers/harrydentjr.html
www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/09/1526251
www.richdad.com/pages/article_dollar_crisis_part2.asp
www.sowpub.com/cgi-bin/forum/webbbs_config.pl/read/10285

Also, Economist Harry S. Dent has been successful in predicting other market trends in the past, so even if we don’t believe him, we should at least entertain the possibility that he may be right again.

Personally, I think there are 25 serious problems facing the nation, but there are 5 items that are most likely to culminate to create a perfect storm, maginfy all of the 25 serious problems, and lead to a significant economic down-turn:

[1] energy shortages;
[2] $8 to $10 trillion National Debt, and $1.6 trillion shortfalls in pensions; and the resulting inflation (falling dollar) that will result from that fiscal irresponsibility;
[3] an aging population, growing poorer in retirement, and looming shortfalls in huge entitlement systems (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) that continue to be plundered;
[4] increasingly unaffordable and unreliable health-care
[5] declining quality and growing cost of public education; and our decreasing ability to compete in the world;

Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 12:31 PM
Comment #86625

IMAGE: http://home.comcast.net/~d.a.n/The80YearCycle.gif

Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 12:51 PM
Comment #86629
The direction of the government, at the hands of the democrats and republicans, is about gaining and keeping power and centeralizing even more power under their control. It’s a joke and we as Americans should be appaled at what we’ve turned this country into.
You’re absolutely correct. We’re all really responsible. We should do something about it. Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 1:23 PM
Comment #86631

“If you are so open minded, why are tax hikes always off the table?”

“It folks like you who are taking options off the table before the discussion is even possible”

Because govt officials have NOT proven they can spend tax money wisely.
You talked about how its “our duty” to pay taxes, well maybe the majority of people see that we pay too much and are sick and tired of seeing it wasted. Maybe thats why people dont want even more pay cuts.
Its time for govt to take the lead and show us that they are serious.
You can dwell on blaming Bush, Republicans or whatever. But until govt quits wasting money to buy votes or favors, I dont think working people will agree with you.

Posted by: kctim at October 19, 2005 1:33 PM
Comment #86637
Because govt officials have NOT proven they can spend tax money wisely.
No !##$^% kidding ! It’s like giving alcohol to an alcoholic. Besides, isn’t $2.2 trillion (19% of GDP) enough ? Damn right it is. In fact, it should be only $1.8 trillion (15% of GDP) or less.

You know the people got a bad case of brain-washing if they think we need tax increases.
If the government is going to do anything with the tax system, they should fix it, because what we’ve got now is ridiculous, abused, and unfair.

Its time for govt to take the lead and show us that they are serious.
Yes, but I don’t think government will reform itself. The government has perverted the system to the point that they can do what ever they want, be blatantly irresponsible, and unaccountable. It’s up to the voters now. It can happen peacefully (the smart way), or (much later) not so peacefully (the hard way). But it will happen some day. It’s up to the people. What ever happens, we will all have ourselves to thank for it. Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 2:04 PM
Comment #86638
Overspending? But it wouldn’t be overspending if we hadn’t had had the tax cuts! It’s shortsighted to say that it’s merely overspending, when much of this deficit would have never occured in the first place without the tax cuts.

I’m sorry Stephen but that logic does not fly with me. Yes, not having the tax cuts would have resulted in more money being in the bank for the government to use. But what would they do with those extra funds? Recent history has shown that it would probably be spent on additional pork. Perhaps some of it would have helped to make the deficit smaller, but no one can tell me that for sure. I’d rather not take your word for it that if the tax had never taken place that the government would have suddenly become fiscally responsible with that money.

By overspending I mean the blatent misuse of our tax dollars on pork projects, inflated governmental agencies budgets, etc… Things that we as taxpayers should not have been paying for to begin with our hard earned money. If this fat was trimmed then we may have had the money to pay for the unexpected things such as Katrina relief. Again, repealing the tax cuts does not solve the real problem, it just provides an already fiscally irresponsible government more money to be irresponsible with.

If you are so excited about giving money then by all means send in extra with your tax payments or don’t cash your “tax return” this year. That way you can feel like you are making an additional contribution to “pay for all these wonderful things” that you feel are so important.

Look, if I was the one messing up then I would expect that I should be the one to change. But I’m not. I pay my taxes, exactly as they request. They know what their budgets should be, and yet they have chosen to continue to throw money at pork and special interest. The government is the one that has and is continuing to make bad choices with the money I already send them. I refuse to accept that if I were to send more now they would see the error of their ways and shape up. It seems very nieve to think that way IMO.


Posted by: BradM at October 19, 2005 2:13 PM
Comment #86639

Richard-
Because our current income tax system taxes in brackets, with each bracket

a)covering a progressively higher segment of the individuals income, and

b) each segment being taxed at a higher rate than the last,

it is by definition progressive. This is not progression or regression as defined by people’s ideas about progress.

Your Fair Tax, if it’s Neil Boortz’s flat tax, is a regressive tax in that it does not lower its rate as income falls. Because of that, the tax puts greater amounts of the tax burden on the middle and lower classes.

I wonder if you know what Boortz’s attitude towards the poor really is.

Rhinehold-
Education is already locally controlled, as far as Bush has let it be. As far as aid to to less fortunate, what you you gain in locality, you may lose in economies of scale and centralized rules and regulation. As it is, in Texas, Social Security offices here have made it difficult to get disability even for those with obvious medical problems requiring it.

Recreational drugs aren’t as fun as you think. These are generally pretty strong substances, and they strike very strongly at the parts of the brain that deal with motivation. People’s personalities change under the influences of these drugs, and their lives become centered on these drugs. They deserve the kind of legal control they are under. That said, treatment is the better option than mandatory jail time, because in essence, this is a medical problem.

Eliminating pork is of course a good idea.

I think we share much more in common regarding our lives than we once did. The suburban culture that has developed transcends the distances that once separated communities. A/C has made life in my neck of the woods comparable to life in the north and elsewhere; we watch much the same shows here as there, and listen to much the same music. We’re a different, more unified society.

We should know our representatives better, to be sure. Locals should have control over their affairs more than people far off. But again we are confronted with a truth that at its basis forms the foundation of cause for our constitution: we’re different here, but not totally different. Biologically, mentally, scientifically, we’re much the same. The differences, though profound, are small, and therefore the wisdom of what is right for one set of people fits others.

For me, there is a balance to be struck. I know it’s tempting to state that the other side’s idea of things escapes from the orbit of the rational, but the reality is, there is a balance to be struck, and in the newer, more close knit America, it’s more towards centralized government than localized. Still, there are limits, but I think it’s better to go case by case on those, rather than generalize.

kctim-
It the duty of a citizen to pay for the government they elect. If you are sick of the bad government, kick out the bastards who are failing to do their jobs, but don’t complain about their misuse of your tax dollars unless you are willing to punish the officials themselves for that. I blame Bush and the GOP because pushing this legislation was his idea, and I don’t need to go far to prove it.

The government that wastes this money is the government whose leader you support on this issue. At some point, you will have to reconcile the notion that the governments wasting your money with the people who are actually in charge of it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 2:20 PM
Comment #86641

BradM-
Your view is shortsighted. You look at the pork as if it were inevitable, when there were strong inhibitions before the tax cut to anybody crossing that line. We were still going on pay-as-you-go. Only after we went into deficit was the Rubicon crossed. But hey, that would make the Republicans responsible for the mess, not “the nature of government itself”.

This pessimism about government is the mother of the permissiveness regarding your party and spending. Reagan overspent, Bush 41 did, and this president and his Congress does. Why? Because they don’t take the initiative to keep costs down. Why stand in the way of the inevitable.

I understand what overspending is, but the fact of the matter is, as much as you would like to try an persuade these people not to overspend, they’ll keep on doing it because there’s no threshold they cross that they can be blamed for. You’re just not wanting to consider that tax hikes would be a necessary (though unfortunate) solution to the problem.

What gives you the right to complain about overspending? You won’t admit that people and not just tendencies are the ones overspending this money. You use it as an excuse not to consider that the tax cuts have contributed to the hole we are in.

I mean, our congress, our senate and our president consciously decided to take in less revenue, and you tell me that this conscious decision in the face of evidence that it would send us into deficit doesn’t count as a contributing factor to our fiscal crisis?

Maybe we should do away with taxes altogether, and blame that shadowy “they” of a government for overspending. That would be greatly preferable to admitting that Republican administration and legislature both failed to balance the books, given the power. That would mean actually assigning responsibility to the people you are taught to be such loyal defenders of. Sad thing, really.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 2:33 PM
Comment #86664

Stephen,

And I thought we were making ground…

First of all, trying to equate what Neil said about ‘saving the rich first’ to equate that he doesn’t care about poor people is a leap and moronic. I’m surprised you included it, it’s tacky and cheap. But what else can you expect from a party that is more upset that the right is outsleasing them than what is right for the country.

Secondly, the fair tax ensures that the poor pay no taxes at all except if they buy something that is not a necessity. I’m not sure how that is ‘regressive’ other than by people who think it’s ok that they pay hidden taxes on necessities as they do now.

As for legalizing drugs, I guess I don’t understand how many of the drugs that we outlaw are any worse for you than alcohol and cigarettes. It would be one thing if we had the balls to outlaw them as well for the same reason, but to by hypocritical is amazingly silly. The money we get by taxing cigarettes and alcohol helps pay for the treatment for those that can’t use them responsibly. The fact is that many can. Just as many can use other substances just as responsibly. When we push their use underground people get dangerous versions of the drug, as they did during prohibition, and the people who run these underground societies, pushing the illegal drugs, end up becoming rich and powerful, safe from prosecution while still selling it to those who can’t get any treatment for their addictions now, just like prohibition.

Yes, I know what kinds of drugs are out there and I think there are some limits we can put in place. But I can name several ‘illegal drugs’ that are less harmful to a person than alcohol and tobacco, but we keep up the hypocrisy instead of dealing with the issue, which is the number of people who have addictive personalities and will abuse the recreational drugs to the detrement of themselves. And while we keep them illegal we will almost never find out who these people are without it being far to late to do anything about it while spending valuable resources in money and time police could be protecting us from dangrous people instead.

For example, there is a problem with meth in this country. The response in Indiana? Well, now we can’t purchase Nyquil without going to the pharmicist and signing a form that will be used to track how much ephedrine you use in a week. The limit is actually very low and if you have two children and a need for more than the allotted amount you are going to have to try to ‘score’ some somewhere else.

SO they’ve taken the nyquil from the shelves and made more room to sell the alochol in it’s place.

What a wonderfully stupid insane country we live in.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 19, 2005 4:10 PM
Comment #86668

BradM,
Your absolutely right. You’re paying taxes.
It’s the federal government that is irresponsible. It’s now up to us to oust that irresponsible government.

Stephen Daugherty,
Sorry, but arguing to increase taxes when the federal government is already raking in a staggering $2.2 trillion per year (that’s 19% of GDP for Pete’s sake !), is truly akin to giving alcohol to an alcoholic.

You know all that pork-barrel isn’t going back to the voters. It’s full of graft, kick-backs, and political pay-offs. And, it’s not just the corruption that costs so much. It’s all of this. We don’t need all of that. Much of it is dead weight, and isn’t providing any net benefit to society.

Besides, even if taxes are raised, will government suddenly become more responsible? Of course not. Not based on track record. Afterall, the National Debt has grown every year for the past 45 years.

And, people shouldn’t have to get to know their representatives better. Their representatives should simply be responsible. And if they aren’t, voters should recall them, or vote them out.

And, nobody is saying government can operate on nothing. Of course it’s folly to expect the government to operate without revenues. But, that’s not even remotely the problem, when the federal government is rakin’ in $2.2 trillion per year.

The problem is the fiscal and moral bankruptcy of the federal government, and the comlacent and apathetic voters that tolerate it. Not insufficient revenues via taxation.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 4:18 PM
Comment #86670

Dan,

You’re right, of course.

It’s not that the democrats are better or worse than the republicans at spending tax revenue, it’s that they are both horribly inept because their main goal is acquiring, keeping and building power. Neither party is interested one single iota with doing the right thing, only what is right with thier party.

There are parties that are trying to live by a philosophy, a basic ideology, unlike the reps and dems. For example, the libertarians refuse matching funds for elections, the greens are truely interested in saving the planet, etc.

The problem is that the power that the two bigs have acquired allow them to convince the american voter, who is notoriously stupid about politics, that voting for anyone but them will be ‘throwing their vote away’. Nevermind principle, nevermind doing what’s right. Just vote for the party you hate least to keep the others out of office.

And people wonder why this country has been on a downward spiral the past 60 years…

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 19, 2005 4:26 PM
Comment #86672

Stephen Daugherty wrote:

kctim-
It the duty of a citizen to pay for the government they elect. If you are sick of the bad government, kick out the bastards who are failing to do their jobs, but don’t complain about their misuse of your tax dollars unless you are willing to punish the officials themselves for that.

Stephen, that’s exactly what I intend to do from now on, until we regain a balance of power between the government and the people, and government stops ignoring our many pressing problems.

I blame Bush and the GOP because pushing this legislation was his idea, and I don’t need to go far to prove it.
I blame Republicans and Democrats alike. They both did this together. Look at their voting records if you want proof of it. For the most part, both parties have done what they’ve done together, in unison. Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 4:26 PM
Comment #86674

Rhinehold,

The problem is that the power that the two bigs have acquired allow them to convince the american voter, who is notoriously stupid about politics, that voting for anyone but them will be ‘throwing their vote away’. Nevermind principle, nevermind doing what’s right. Just vote for the party you hate least to keep the others out of office.

That’s sad, but true. That’s why we need to get this point across to all third parties and independents to unite, to spread the message to vote for non-incumbents, to finally have a voice in government, and get this nation back on the right path.

I agree that neither Democrats or Republicans give a $#!+ about the average tax payer. They even take great joy and delight in the fact that most voters are so bainwashed (and I admit I used to be one of them) that they think they’re wasting their vote by not voting for one or the other main-party bigots.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 4:32 PM
Comment #86696

My wife doesn’t contribute to this blog but she reads it. And she DOES have her opinions.
She also has a memerory like a steel trap. I know she’s sprung it on me a few times.
Anyway as anyone knows that has been here any time at all, there are a lot of us that are tied of the courption of BOTH the major parties.
She reminded me of a small town of around 800 near one of the bases where we were stationed that had a mayor that makes Al Copone look like a Sunday School boy.
The mayor was up for reelection and for the first time in 15 years he had a cahllenger. Most the town folk were behind the challenger. Election day finially comes and the folks around town were sure they were finially rid of the crooked mayor.
Well the incumbant won the election by a vote of 950-0. But who says politicians are crooked?

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 19, 2005 6:28 PM
Comment #86712

Rhinehold-
Neil Boortz is the guy who authored the Fair Tax Book. His attitudes towards the poor as evidenced by his quotes are quite obviously not that sympathetic. Would such a person have any qualms about “tax reform” that soaks the poor and middle class? I don’t consider it cheap to draw conclusions from a person’s recent comments to illustrate his current mindset. I consider it logical.

Additionally, this whole thing of necessities- This is not a subsistence, but a consumer economy. Taxes on consumption will only drive consumption down. Then where’s your economy?

As for Meth, Cocaine, heroin, and other drugs? When I was a kid, I was given ritalin under a prescription. That spurred an interest (one of those I tend to get on different subjects) in learning the science behind these drugs. In the years since, I can come to the following conclusions:

There is no such thing as recreational drug use, anymore than there is a such thing as recreational brain damage. Use of psychoactive chemicals of this strength tends to create permanent changes in the brain and the brain chemistry. Among those changes are changes to the motivation-related Dopamine centers of the brain, triggering the anticipatory cravings that make drug withdrawals so difficult.

Also complicating things is that drugs like Amphetamines and barbituates can cause seizures, convulsions and even death for those who simply drop the drugs.

This has to do with the balance of inhibitory and excitatory neural structures in the brain. The stimulants or depressants push users so far in one direction, chemically speaking, that their bodies counter that neurochemical imbalance with another imbalance that negates some of the effects. A depressant creates a counter response that excites, a stimulant creates one that inhibits. Result? The absence of the drug creates a critically out of balance state of brain chemistry, and rushes the person towards collapse.

Cocaine permanently lessens the brains ability to feel excitement and joy apart from its influence. Heroin leaves those who try to withdraw from it dealing with a painful, literally messy recovery, and they are permanently left with the craving for the drug. The supposedly safe LSD can create problems in the Serotonin circuits of the brain, that being the neurotransmitter which LSD most closely resembles. Many people report flashbacks years after their initial doses. Even Marijuana is not without its issues, as it is associated with memory problems, judgment problems, and a slowing of reaction time.

At the very least, these substances should be regulated, which many already are. The question is what kind of attitude to we take to defendents, and what kind of attitude do we take as a culture to drugs?

The problem is that they’ve been treated a cultural menace, rather than the public health issue they are.

Oh, by the way, it’s pseudoephedrine they’re tracking.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 7:56 PM
Comment #86716

d.a.n.-
I’m not looking for instant results. The tax hike is to solve the practical problem of continual deficit spending, and bring us back into the position were we are sharply aware of when the spending starts to go wild. When your even, thirty billion in deficit spending is a lot worse than when you’re three hundred billion in deficit. Additionally, it’s easier to sell the notion of spending cuts to cover the territory of tax cuts when the spending cuts precede the tax cuts, and are paid for by it.

This insistence on constant tax-cutting makes trying to cut overspending futile. Why cut spending when your next tax cut’s removing the gain from that?

People must get to know their representatives. Our ignorance about what these people say and do only contributes to our problems in trying to get them to say and do things that represent our interests. You can’t argue against the apathy of voters and approve of their ignorance.

Rhinehold-
You treat the parties as if they’re monolithic. They’re not. Personnel and leaders can be changed out, cultures altered, and ethics and morality can be improved. There will always be the corrupt, the incompetent, and the ideologically overboard, but then, if we’re wise about how we approach it, there will always be the people to make sure they don’t get reelected.

If we keep them on their toes, it will be easier to keep our government from getting too many of the wrong kind of bright ideas.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 8:16 PM
Comment #86721
d.a.n.- I’m not looking for instant results. The tax hike is to solve the practical problem of continual deficit spending, and bring us back into the position were we are sharply aware of when the spending starts to go wild. When your even, thirty billion in deficit spending is a lot worse than when you’re three hundred billion in deficit. Additionally, it’s easier to sell the notion of spending cuts to cover the territory of tax cuts when the spending cuts precede the tax cuts, and are paid for by it.

Stephen,
Try and try as hard as you can, but you’re not selling me on tax hikes at all. Like I keep sayin’ … raising taxes is like givin’ alcohol to alcoholics. And there is decades of track record to support that conclusion.

This insistence on constant tax-cutting makes trying to cut overspending futile. Why cut spending when your next tax cut’s removing the gain from that?

Spending cuts are what is needed, and there is ample places to cut spending. Please look to spending cuts, before asking for tax hikes. Like I said before, the federal government is already raking in $2.2 trillion a year. THAT’s ENOUGH !

People must get to know their representatives. Our ignorance about what these people say and do only contributes to our problems in trying to get them to say and do things that represent our interests. You can’t argue against the apathy of voters and approve of their ignorance.

Yes I can. We should be able to expect our government to have some small amount of a sense of responsibility and accountability.

All we need to know, which we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that they are not responsible and accountable.

Rhinehold- You treat the parties as if they’re monolithic. They’re not. Personnel and leaders can be changed out, cultures altered, and ethics and morality can be improved. There will always be the corrupt, the incompetent, and the ideologically overboard, but then, if we’re wise about how we approach it, there will always be the people to make sure they don’t get reelected.

Rhinehold, I seriously doubt you’re fallin’ for one itty bit of that. You know what’s going on. Unfortunately, Stephen, as much as I like him, doesn’t really grasp reality. He is young, and much more wise than I was at his age, but Stephen still doesn’t really see that both parties are slumin’ and usin’ and abusin’ the average voter.


If we keep them on their toes, it will be easier to keep our government from getting too many of the wrong kind of bright ideas.

Now, that’s something I do agree with. Never ignore government, because that invites abuse.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 19, 2005 9:22 PM
Comment #86728

d.a.n.-
A person can function without alcohol. A government can’t function without funds. This isn’t fiscal detox, it’s budget bulimia, cutting a little bit, then spending a lot. Your solution is get anorexic, starve the government. neither is a healthy approach.

Pay As You Go. If you want it, get it, and count the cost. We should cut spending where it’s just waste, but we should be prepared to hold our noses and accept a tax hike if our cuts aren’t enough.

On the subect of apathy and ignorance, they go hand in hand. If it’s not part of what they know, experience, or at least imagine, it’s not something people will waste time reacting to.

This is my whole point about breaking these things even. It’s a figure ground things. If the debt is still just a deferred problem, people have little to react to. If the money isn’t theirs, it isn’t their problem.

The problem with this deficit is not the legislators in Washington, it’s the people in America who are unwilling to ask for spending cuts, yet unwilling to refuse tax cuts we know dig us deeper in debt. Why? Because the Bush administration is bribing us with free money. Tax hikes would end that. The dollars we spend would be the dollars that get yanked from our checks. People will be better motivated to slam Republicans and Democrats alike for excessive spending when the distance between the spending bill and our wallets is measured in months, not years or decades, when we can see the money flowing out. Only with Katrina has the price for the excess even begun to come clear, as the truth hits home: how will we pay for all this?

I say, we give people a straight answer to that: You will pay out of your own pocket. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the folks spending your money, and get together with your fellow voters to do something about it. This isn’t naivete, it’s the only way things get done.

I’m not naive about how people use us. I just think we should go ahead and use the fuckers right back. Ultimately, many of our party leaders are no more leaders than you or I are. They want to coast on our approval. I say make them work for it, and inch by inch, let the pressures of our attentions shape their agenda closer to ours. If the opportunity presents itself we push things even further.

Fact of the matter is, the parties are like the weather, dependent on and sensitive to the conditions that surround them- the attitudes of millions upon millions of voters. If somebody can shift the opinions of those people, then it only takes a few critical events to shift things in a radical new direction.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 19, 2005 10:56 PM
Comment #86737

Here, let me help you Stephen. To see government from the perspective of the other side you must think of government as a corporation.

Pretend for a moment that Microsoft is the Federal Government and Bill Gates is the President. From a liberal perspective the price of software is outrageous because Microsoft is a monopoly and they’re overcharging everyone, right?

The real difference is that, unlike Microsoft, Government actually is a monopoly that is overcharging.

Your post is not the central issue of contention anyway. “The Tax Hike” you would propose is neither temporary nor trivial. The real issue is who decides your economic future. Who decides? You apparently believe that government is the proper place to make the economic decisions for all of us. In order to do this they need more money. More taxes. The money they get gives them power to control your life. You will not be shifting any opinions once they hold all the cards and we live within communal villages run by ‘the party’.

The problem with this deficit is not the legislators in Washington, it’s the people in America who are unwilling to ask for spending cuts, yet unwilling to refuse tax cuts we know dig us deeper in debt. Why? Because the Bush administration is bribing us with free money. Tax hikes would end that. The dollars we spend would be the dollars that get yanked from our checks. People will be better motivated to slam Republicans and Democrats alike for excessive spending…

Why choose tax hikes over spending cuts? Wouldn’t spending cuts solve the deficit problem? If you somehow have the political will to overcome the people’s unwillingness to refuse tax cuts, why don’t you have the political will to cut spending?

The answer is that your side does not want spending cuts. Only tax hikes. Which means we will work more and more for less and less and then have to go to the government for services we cannot afford. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Why in God’s name would anyone willingly create a condition of serfdom for themselves when they can be free?

Posted by: esimonson at October 20, 2005 12:42 AM
Comment #86739

Johnson tried to create a “Great Society” and fight a war at the same time. The “Great Society” was well intentioned but ill conceived and was never going to work and certainly not in the middle of a war. That… is ancient history… but history has a way of repeating itself. Now Bush the Second is trying to create a “Great Society” for the rich - conceivably well intentioned – certainly ill conceived - and fight a war at the same time. It is never going to work… but we could debate that until the cows come home – it certainly is not going to work in the middle of a war.

The tax cut that that Bush the second gave to the rich was virtually exactly equal to the excess Social Security Payroll Taxes that are paid into the general fund mostly by middle class workers. Bush stole those funds for the rich and then used the fact that they were gone as a pretext to attack the security of Social Security for the middle class. Certainly some minor adjustments need to be made to Social Security, but Bush is certainly trying to manufacture a financial crisis in order to necessitate his right wing extremist agenda.

Many of the people commenting on this excellent article think that the solution is to just throw the bums out - both Republican and Democrat. That is really not realistic and even if it was the problem is more complicated than that. The problem is that the political process is corrupted and controlled by big money special interest. The Republicans and Democrats do have a virtual monopoly and you will not be able to throw them out unless you sell out to big money and then you would be just as corrupted. No one can win without money – no one gets money without selling out.

Posted by: Ray at October 20, 2005 1:05 AM
Comment #86751
The answer is that your side does not want spending cuts.

That’s funny, eric, seeing as how Republicans just took food stamp and dairy subsidy cuts off the table because they’re facing some tough elections next year.

At least Democrats have a plan that would force automatic across-the-board cuts if spending went over budget and we want to reinstate the pay-as-you-go rule that got us the budget surplus in the 90s. You Republicans need to stop being so obstructionist and let Democrats balance the budget like we did last time.

Posted by: American Pundit at October 20, 2005 5:11 AM
Comment #86757
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n.- A person can function without alcohol. A government can’t function without funds. This isn’t fiscal detox, it’s budget bulimia, cutting a little bit, then spending a lot. Your solution is get anorexic, starve the government. neither is a healthy approach.

Stephen,
Above, I said it’s folly to expect government to operate without funding. ZERO funds is not the issue. On the contrary. 15% of GDP should be more than enough. But, it’s currently 19% of GDP, with additional irresponsible borrowing and spending. The amount of waste, graft, and misplaced priorities is staggering. You’ve got your work cut out for ya tryin’ to defend the excesses of the federal government.

Pay As You Go. If you want it, get it, and count the cost. We should cut spending where it’s just waste, but we should be prepared to hold our noses and accept a tax hike if our cuts aren’t enough.

No way. No more tax hikes. First, fix the stupid, abused, dysfunctional tax system. And, like I said, $2.2 trillion per year (19% of GDP) is way way more than enough. Try to find somebody else to agree with you, and some better reasons and get back to me, because I’m still not convinced tax hikes are needed…not when they are already getting $2.2 trillion ( 19% of GDP).

On the subect of apathy and ignorance, they go hand in hand. If it’s not part of what they know, experience, or at least imagine, it’s not something people will waste time reacting to.

I don’t know about that. I know intelligent people that are apathetic and complacent. They know government has run-amuck, and don’t know what to do about it (what they should do is vote non-incumbent).

This is my whole point about breaking these things even. It’s a figure ground things. If the debt is still just a deferred problem, people have little to react to. If the money isn’t theirs, it isn’t their problem.

Hmmmm…that’s a bit nebulous. What do you mean “if the money isn’t theirs” ? It is the tax payers money. And it is our problem (all of us). By the way, the debt is so large now, it would take 127 years to pay it down, and that’s only if government stops borrowing $1 billion per day, and starts paying back $1.01 billion per day (i.e. the payment must exceed interest, or it keeps growing larger).

The problem with this deficit is not the legislators in Washington, it’s the people in America who are unwilling to ask for spending cuts, yet unwilling to refuse tax cuts we know dig us deeper in debt. Why? Because the Bush administration is bribing us with free money.
Yes, the debt is the fault of government mostly. Sure, people (like children) ask for everything under the sun, but that doesn’t mean they should get anything they want. That’s why we need politicians with some backbone, and courage to do the right thing, and stop pandering.
Tax hikes would end that.
YIKES ! No Hikes ! Please, Stephen…stop asking for tax hikes. And please don’t let politicians hear or see you saying that. That kind of talk is worrisome. $2.2 trillion (19% of GDP) is too much already. Besides, the current government wouldn’t cut spending and pay down debt…giving them more money will make the problem worse!
The dollars we spend would be the dollars that get yanked from our checks.
No argument about that.
People will be better motivated to slam Republicans and Democrats alike for excessive spending when the distance between the spending bill and our wallets is measured in months, not years or decades, when we can see the money flowing out.
No. They get slammed all the time for spending and being irresponsible and unaccountable, and nothing changes. That’s why we need to vote non-incumbent. That will peacefully force a balance of power (not simply shift it) between the government and the people.
Only with Katrina has the price for the excess even begun to come clear, as the truth hits home: how will we pay for all this?
First of all, the tax payers shouldn’t have to foot the entire bill. And I don’t see why tax payers should have to continually bail out people that choose to live in flood zones. And, poverty isn’t the cause of that either. Besides, watch and see who gets the most funds. It won’t be the poor. Your right, the graft and waste will be amazing.
I say, we give people a straight answer to that: You will pay out of your own pocket. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the folks spending your money, and get together with your fellow voters to do something about it. This isn’t naivete, it’s the only way things get done.
I agree. Take it up with those spending the money. Vote non-incumbent, because nothing else is workin’ , and the Ds and Rs are just takin’ turns gettin’ theirs, votin’ on pork-barrel, graft, bribes, waste, and kick-backs. And even if they get caught, they get a pardon, and get to keep their multi-million dollar pen$sions funded by the tax payers.
I’m not naive about how people use us. I just think we should go ahead and use the fuckers right back.
Stephen ! I’ve never seen you use profanity before. But, I understand how you feel. But, I don’t advocate usery. Lets kick the bums out, start some recalls, and keep doing it until they start being responsible and accountable, and at the very minimum, start solving this nations top 10 most serious problems. Please help us do that .
Ultimately, many of our party leaders are no more leaders than you or I are. They want to coast on our approval.
Yes, they are a bit different. Many of them have it way too easy and they’re for sale. Yes, the do a lot of coasting, and waste a lot of time raising money for campaigns, instead of doing the work for the country. They’ve got it much too easy, have too many cu$hy perk$ and multi-million dollar pensions, get to write hot-checks, and even vote themselves raises.
I say make them work for it, and inch by inch, let the pressures of our attentions shape their agenda closer to ours. If the opportunity presents itself we push things even further.
Now you’re on the right track.
Fact of the matter is, the parties are like the weather, dependent on and sensitive to the conditions that surround them- the attitudes of millions upon millions of voters. If somebody can shift the opinions of those people, then it only takes a few critical events to shift things in a radical new direction.
No. They are like bratty kids let loose in a candy store. And, they have had it their way for so long, they are incredulous when they rarely do get unseated (like Tom Daschle was; I’ll never forget the look on his face when he lost). And, even if they get caught or convicted of a crime, they can get a pardon (like Clinton who pardoned a lot of felons like Dan Rostenkowski (who pled guilty for Pete’s sake); and he still got to collect his cu$hy multi-million dollar pen$sion funded by the tax payers. What voters need to do is fire them, and start some recalls, and need to be prosecuted. That’s how serious the situation really is. But watch…even if Tom DeLay gets convicted (even if he pleads guilty like Dan Rostenkowski), he’ll probably get a pardon, and still get to keep his cu$hy multi-million dollar pen$ion too.

Third Parties and Independents need to jump on this opportunity. They’re missin’ out if they don’t. All Third Parties and Independents should spread the non-incumbent message, because this may be the only peaceful way to balance power (not shift it) between government and the people. We need government that is responsible and willing to make tough decisions without fear of risking re-election. Voting non-incumbent repeatedly, until things are improved will remedy that. We need government with some courage and honesty. Not government that is for sale, corrupt, panders, and votes for pork-barrel, waste, graft, and themselves raise$ and perk$. Just go to www.cagw.org to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 20, 2005 6:11 AM
Comment #86758

A.P.
True, government during Clinton’s terms slowed spending, but the National Debt has grown every year for the last 45 years.
But, I’m not sure Ds should get all the credit for that. It’s funny that we praise government for slowing spending and simply being less irresponsible. Also, the current debt is also due to both the Ds and Rs spending like there’s no tomorrow (which might happen if they keep it up).

Technically, the National Debt still grew from 1992 to 2000 under Clinton. True, there were potential surpluses in 2000, but they got spent. They always do. Thus, the National Debt grows every year. It’s now $7,986,677,006,850.36 (10/14/2005), with interest over $1 billion per day. It would take 127 years to pay it off if we started now paying back $1.01 billion per day. The bigger it grows, the more it endangers the future and security of the nation.

09/30/2005 $7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004 $7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003 $6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002 $6,228,235,965,597.16
09/28/2001 $5,807,463,412,200.06
_______________________________________
09/29/2000 $5,674,178,209,886.86
09/30/1999 $5,656,270,901,615.43
09/30/1998 $5,526,193,008,897.62
09/30/1997 $5,413,146,011,397.34
09/30/1996 $5,224,810,939,135.73
09/29/1995 $4,973,982,900,709.39
09/30/1994 $4,692,749,910,013.32
09/30/1993 $4,411,488,883,139.38
09/30/1992 $4,064,620,655,521.66

True, it’s funny where politicians look to cut spending, while they ignore the pork-barrel, interest on the debt, and entitlement systems (which are still being plundered). It proves they’re not serious about it. It’s laughable.

Personally, I’m fed up with both Ds and Rs,
they’re both too irresponsible and unaccountable, and I’m not voting for either anymore, for a long long time…not until they get some courage and backbone and stop the excessive corruption, stop the election and campaign fraud, stop blocking access to 3rd parties and independents, fix the stupid tax system, reform the entitlement systems, stop pedding influence, and start being responsible and accountable.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 20, 2005 6:35 AM
Comment #86770

“You know all that pork-barrel isn’t going back to the voters”

“It proves they’re not serious about it. It’s laughable.”

But yet, they keep asking for more dont they.
Good posts d.a.n

Posted by: kctim at October 20, 2005 9:03 AM
Comment #86782

What would fix the tax problem is the fair tax!

Posted by: Merlyn at October 20, 2005 10:43 AM
Comment #86791

Eric-
I don’t think of the government as a corporation. I think of it as a government, which means it must follow different rules. Why? Because it’s purposes are different, and therefore what make government efficient changes.

I think we are being overcharged, but because of the tax cuts, not in spite of them. We’re still paying for your “cheaper” government, but we’re paying for it with interest bearing bonds. We will have to pay for the money we borrow, and interest on top of that. This is the system your tax cuts are based on, and every time somebody works things this way, we end up in the economic toilet. When LBJ deficit spent to cover both the Vietnam War and the Great Society(the “cheaper” option), he gave us the wonderful economic situation of the ’70s. When Reagan and the Democratic congress decided to pay for tax cuts and new defense expenditures by deficit spending, the early ’90s resulted.

Bush is overcharging us by not asking us to pay for it with revenue. A lack of spending discipline is certainly a part of it, and it’s a cariacture of my argument to say that I would not approve of prudent spending cuts, especially if they could be initiated in the place of taxes. But I don’t think most of our new spending is disposable. That is, unless you want to end a war, and get rid of DOHS.

You talk of a monopoly. That’s ironic since your people don’t do much to stop companies of any type from consolidating. So what is it a monopoly of? You’re not clear on that. You just use it because it’s a word liberals don’t like to hear. With your positions on business kept in mind, though, it’s just a rhetorical argument, nothing substantial.

Fact of the matter is I don’t mind capitalism. I don’t mind competition. In fact, I want more of it than you do. I don’t think the government needs to make all our economic decision. I do think it needs to pay for itself, though.

Besides, your party isn’t merely failing to pay for the government, they’re spending more than ever before. They’re even putting the Liberals of the 1960s to shame.

I don’t want communism or nationalized industry. Your fertile imagination is the only thing that would convince our readers otherwise. I hope they would not be so gullible, that they would closely read my opinion, before taking your flights of fancy seriously. I choose tax hikes because at some point, we’re not cutting fat, but sacrificing muscle, the ability of our government to function and absorb massive hits like that of this war and of Katrina.

You give the unlikely scenario of typically tax averse Americans allowing things to spiral out of control, to avoid facing the truth of what those two crisises have made unmistakeable for most Americans: that our fiscal policy cannot support tax cuts, a war, and disaster relief at the same time. It’s questionable whether we can reduce enough big ticket items to compensate. That’s why I think we need to raise the taxes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2005 11:20 AM
Comment #86800

d.a.n.-
What makes you think I’m trying to defend the excesses of government? I’m saying we can’t just sit around and let those excesses pass on the debt to our children. By all means we need to cut unnecessary spending. But that won’t do everything, because many of the biggest problems we have in terms of spending aren’t negotiable, unless we want to lose a war, or leave the Katrina area devastated. We don’t have a choice of paying for our current budget. What I’m saying is that it’s better that we take the hit while it’s less expensive. It’s no use preaching fire and brimstone about future budgets and future expenditures, if we’re going to fail to pay for our expenditures now.

I don’t know about that. I know intelligent people that are apathetic and complacent. They know government has run-amuck, and don’t know what to do about it (what they should do is vote non-incumbent).

What they can do is respond to specific problems. The advantage is that you’re not trying to mount a nationwide, comprehensive campaign. It’s something locals can do with simple awareness, a responsible press, and their votes. It doesn’t require some kind of big political machine to be created.

Hmmmm…that’s a bit nebulous. What do you mean “if the money isn’t theirs” ? It is the tax payers money.

That’s not nebulous. The treasury bonds that are paying for our debt are being bought by the Chinese and Japanese, mainly. They’re paying for our debt. We get to spend on other things, until the point we have to pay these folks back. In the meantime, we’re deficit spending, and it’s not our money paying for it. Therefore, why should we be concerned if spending goes up?

If spending goes up, and we’re in a pay-as-you-go policy, then the direct result, without spending cuts, is an additional tax hike, which the politicicans will have to explain to voters. If the voters want a program, and are willing to pay additional taxes, then that is the voter’s judgment to make. Putting things back on an even keep means it’s a question posed directly to the voters.

Sure, people (like children) ask for everything under the sun, but that doesn’t mean they should get anything they want. That’s why we need politicians with some backbone, and courage to do the right thing, and stop pandering.

Exactly.

The third parties should take the opportunity to mix things up, but you should keep in mind that the temptations of power come with the gaining of it, and so we will face the same problem with the new people and/or the third party politicians who come to power under any political shift. Your solution (in terms of changing out incumbents and pushing for greater third party presence) might change things in the near term, but even then the seeds of corruption will be sown again. My approach of being informed and paying attention to what our politicians do has a greater shelf-life because it deals with the underlying problem, rather than just the incidental or the superficial ones.

Government will always tend towards corruption, always attract the petitioners and courtiers that power has attracted since the beginning of civilization. Anybody who promises that one big effort will solve everything ignores history. America’s system works to the extent it does because it has a persistent response to the problems of power. It is the erosion of various safeguards and attitudes in our culture that has allowed things to get this bad.

Not the least of which, in my mind, is the bubbling away of government from its people over the decades, taken to it’s apotheosis by the Bush administration and the Republican Legislature.

If these guys lose their jobs when they misbehave, they will think twice about misuing their power. It’s a simplification of the reality, but really, this is a matter of margins. We can’t eliminate misbehavior, but we can make it rarer.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2005 12:17 PM
Comment #86812
We can’t eliminate misbehavior, but we can make it rarer.

Stephen, I agree with this. However, it is your solution that leaves me amazed. How will we make misbehavior rarer if we give in and hand them more if what they are misbehaving about. It’s like giving a child candy to calm them down in a store even though the sugar just gets them more excited. Your solution may temporarily change the financial outlook but if the behavior of the government is not changed first then it will just repeat itself again later. We need to help change the behavior of the politicans, not feed them more candy to shut them up. Would you be more willing to give a drug addict money to help them start their life over before or after they have successfully been through rehab? Same goes for the government. They are getting plenty of money as it stands, throwing more money at them (in the form of higher taxes) is not the solution.

And btw, the Fair Tax book was written by John Linder, and co-written by Neil Boortz to make it an interesting read (instead of just another boring tax plan book). It is supported by many people from both sides of the isle in Washington. The plan was designed by many very well respected economists and is neither regressive or progressive (thats why it is called FAIR). If your goal is to stick it to the evil rich then you would not like the plan. Your comments show that your dislike for Neil Boortz is what fuels your dislike of the plan. Clearly from your comments you really have no idea what the plan is really about. My suggestion would be to read about it before assuming that it is or is not something just by who supports it.

Posted by: BradM at October 20, 2005 2:07 PM
Comment #86899

BradM-
Try this Freeper entry from Dick Armey on for size

The Fair Tax is one of those ideas that works until it’s put into practices. I admit I was ignorant of what it was, but having read up about it, I like it even less. Implementing a Value Added tax means taxing business transactions at every step. Armey states that this is what national sales taxes eventually degenerate into, with examples of European nations presented in that vein.

I had to admit, I was smiling as I read through his descriptions of government getting involved in the tiniest business decision, though not for the reasons some dirty minds would present. No, I was smiling at the shear irony of what the conservatives would inflict on themselves. Even most liberals wouldn’t do this to themselves.

Fact of the matter is, the return checks alone would ensure the IRS and its bureacracy would survive in some form. You’d need it, if you wanted to distribute and process that many checks. If the Fair Tax went towards or already was a value added tax, you would agents poking their nose into businesses across the nation. You would necessitate all kinds of measures to ensure compliance. And then there would be the hidden costs of dealing with the black market that would come into existences.

Good heavens! Does does that sound like the conservatives dream? It’s sounds like a nightmare, from my perspective. The progressive income tax is fine as long as you’re not piling on exceptions and tax breaks every year like this congress. Your representatives can speak of the overwhelming complexity of the tax code, but what do you think all those breaks and things do?

We must take responsibility for our government’s spending. As long as we’re not paying out of pocket, we’re not going to keep as close an eye on what gets done. In the end, these people are elected by us, and their actions are our responsibility. If we do not keep aware of their dealings and keep the threat of losing elections present at all times, they will simply obey their thirst for power. We cannot sit around, fat, dumb, happy, and deluded, and expect corruption to solve itself. Moreover, as the last few years have proved, you can’t just keep us Democrats out of power and think that this will solve things. Members of both parties must actively interfere in the affairs of their representatives to ensure quality service from these people who are supposed to be public servants.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2005 4:33 PM
Comment #86905

I’m not any kind of expert on the economy or even on finances. I can barely balance my checkbook. That’s why I have an accountant at work and let my wife handle the checkbook at home.
But I am smart enough to know that if I keep spending more money than I take in, I’m going to run into a whole heap a trouble someday. Most likely I’ll end up bankrupt, and possibly in jail.
Now if I can figure that out, WHY IN THE HELL CANN’T THEM DIMWHITS IN DC FIGURE IT OUT?

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 20, 2005 5:16 PM
Comment #86917
If spending goes up, and we’re in a pay-as-you-go policy, then the direct result, without spending cuts, is an additional tax hike, which the politicicans will have to explain to voters.

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen. : )
Spending money is an addiction for politicians, and they don’t have any compunction about raising taxes. They do it all the time.

Giving politicians more money to spend is like giving and endless supply of cocaine to a rat in a cage. They’ll overdose on it.

For Pete’s sake, please tell me why $2.2 trillion per year (19% of GDP) is already not enough ? How much is too much ? Actually, 15% is what it should be. You’ll have to do a whole lot better to get me on board with tax hikes, when I know they’ll just spend and borrow more. It will make it worse, not better.

Oh sure, politicians give a tax cut once in a great while, but taxes usually keep getting higher and higher (except when Reagan cut them significantly; i.e. reduced maximum 90% category down to 33% I think). But, most the time, taxes continually increase. Besides, that last tax cut was not that enormous, and it actually resulted in a bigger tax cut (based on percentage of income) for the weatlthiest.

Now, about that borrowing from China, Japan, Germany, and France (BTW, I think France owns the biggest chunk of the National Debt);
Currently, we’ve got to pay over $1 billion per day for interest on an $8 trillion dollar National Debt. However, we’re also borrowing and spending $1 billion per day. That’s irresponsible. Should someone keep borrowing and spending when there’s a good chance they’ll never be able to pay it back ? These countries that are investing in our National Debt are in a Catch-22 now. If they stop lending us money, we’ll print more money, drive up inflation, and erode their investment. If they continue to lend us money, the Debt and spending and borrowing continues, until the interest can’t possibly be met, and the Fed prints more money which drives up inflation, which erodes their investment. So, you see, they’re screwed no matter what they do. Those countries are about to learn that. This may end up being the biggest scam ever perpetrated on the world.

We must take responsibility for our government’s spending. As long as we’re not paying out of pocket, we’re not going to keep as close an eye on what gets done.
But we are paying out of our pocket. We’re paying almost $2 trillion per year. That’s way more than enough. The problem is not insufficient taxation. The problem is irresponsible spending, borrowing, corruption, and stupid, dysfunctional, & costly tax system.
Government will always tend towards corruption, always attract the petitioners and courtiers that power has attracted since the beginning of civilization. Anybody who promises that one big effort will solve everything ignores history.

Yes, you can’t get rid of all corruption, but it can and should be greatly reduced.
The key to reducing corruption is to increase transparency, and simplify everything that has been over-complicated (by design) so that it can be more easily abused. It’s not that hard. A good place to start is:

(1) Pass a law that a BILL can only have ONE PURPOSE , so that the people can see what is really going on. BILLs consisting of thousands of pages are laden with pork-barrel, graft, and waste, and nobody can tell why anyone voted for or against the BILL. Therefore, pass a “ONE PURPOSE PER BILL” law. Any items in the BILL must be related to the purpose of the bill. That will save hundreds of billions per year.

(2) Pass a law that requires the federal government to adhere to a BALANCED BUDGET.
The only exception would be for a war and the funds would only be used for that purpose.

(3) Fix the tax system. It sucks.

(4) Reform campaign finance; government should not be for sale;

(5) Stop plundering Social Security; it really amounts to theft;

(6) Start reducing the Debt; $1 billion per day in interest is ridiculous, much less borrowing another $1 billion per day to pay that $1 billion in interest per day. It’s endangering the security and future of the nation.

The progressive income tax is fine as long as you’re not piling on exceptions and tax breaks every year like this congress
No. Graduated tax systems are unfair. The graduated part makes it unfair. It should be enough that with a flat income tax rate, that more tax is paid for more income earned. There’s no fair reason to tax higher incomes at a higher rate. A Flat Income Tax Rate (like this would be my preference) , or perhaps (maybe) something similar to the FairTax.org tax, with no deductions of any kind is what is needed. Posted by: d.a.n at October 20, 2005 5:51 PM
Comment #86930

d.a.n.-
They’ll think twice about it when we yank their sorry asses out. It all comes back to us. The quality of the people who get elected sadly (and happily) depends on the people who vote for these people.

Please stop with the generalities. It’s very difficult to know what to say or think about a generalized claim like yours. Give me incidents. Give me examples. It’ll make persuading people to your side a great deal easier if people can share in the same motivation. At the very least, even if they don’t agree, you might give them the ammunition to go after the people who are engaging in such practices.

As far as what’s enough, I think that should be plain: what we need in order to have a functioning government that does all we ask for collectively as voters. We shouldn’t be trying to starve the beast here. People have attempted that for a quarter century now, and the only result, ultimately, has been to create greater debt. We are only going to make this government work better and cheaper for us, if we are making the tough choices. We got to be willing to sacrifice some of our interests to see the most important ones through. We cannot sit around ignorant of our government’s dealings and expect to curtail their spending.

We cannot possibly demand fiscal discipline from our leaders, if we don’t demand it from ourselves. We have no room to complain about deficit spending if we accept tax cuts that exacerbate the problem. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and we’re paying for the government’s extravagance either way. If we pay for it now with the upward revision of tax rates, we can at least avoid the penalties the deficit spending will inflict on our currency and economy, and we can move closer to actually paying down the debt. Otherwise, it only gets worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2005 6:22 PM
Comment #86932

d.a.n.
No. Graduated tax systems are unfair. The graduated part makes it unfair. It should be enough that with a flat income tax rate, that more tax is paid for more income earned. There’s no fair reason to tax higher incomes at a higher rate. A Flat Income Tax Rate (like this would be my preference) , or perhaps (maybe) something similar to the FairTax.org tax, with no deductions of any kind is what is needed.

I agree with you on this one. A flat tax is more fair and we also need to close the loopholes.
It has been argued that a flat tax is unfair to the poor. That they will pay a bigger percentage of their income than the rich.
Now like I said earlier, I’m no enconomic expert but it seems to that 20% is 20% no matter how mich money is involved. That means that if we had a 20% flat tax that someone making $200,000 a year would be paying $20,000 in taxes while someone making $20,000 a year would be paying $2,000. Both would STILL have 80% of their income left.
The only reason I can see for a graduated income tax is to punish people for making money.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 20, 2005 6:32 PM
Comment #86933

I might add that the poor and the middle class are paying a higher percentage than the rich because of all the loopholes in the current system.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 20, 2005 6:36 PM
Comment #86947

Ron Brown-
You are subject to a major misconception about the way the progressive income tax works.

The brackets are of prime importance in understanding this tax.

I’ll simplify here: lets say you have a 1000 bucks divided into 5 brackets. The first bracket is left alone, so you get
200 = 200

We take 10 percent from the next.
380 = 200 + 180

Then 15% from the next:
550 = 200 + 180 + 170

20% from the next:
710 = 200 + 180 + 170 + 160

And finally %25 from the last:

860 = 200 + 180 + 170 + 160 + 150

But what if you just took a 25% flat tax?

750 = 150 + 150 + 150 + 150 + 150

You lose 110 dollars in the bargain.

It gets worse if you you compare that tax in the lower brackets. At the lowest bracket, you lose a full quarter of your income where you lost none. On the second, you pay five times what you might have paid. On the third, you pay three times as much. Fourth, it’s over double, and the fifth you pay one and three quarters times the taxes.

Notice the trend? It’s the same with any system of progressive increases. At 25% top rate, my progressive system here can even beat a 15% flat rate, which would cost 10 bucks more, as a matter of act. But no matter how you cut it, the nature of the system, if you want it to make the same money, is that a greater proportion of the wealth must come from those with the smallest proportion of it.

The Sales tax is not that much better, and has consequences for a consumer economy like ours. High Sales taxes encourage smuggling and black markets. Discouraging or driving business underground is hardly a smart idea. It gets worse if you try a Value Added Tax, in that it makes the whole thing a paperwork nightmare. This is the kind of things that should give Republicans hives and make them break out in rashes. Did I mention what country came up with the idea?

As for the loopholes, who do you think has been adding them in? This is just one example of how Republicans leaders have used the specter of those evil liberals to distract from their own record of spending and tax law complication. Where do you think all those tax incentives and whatnot go?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2005 8:35 PM
Comment #86952

Stephen Daugherty
As for the loopholes, who do you think has been adding them in? This is just one example of how Republicans leaders have used the specter of those evil liberals to distract from their own record of spending and tax law complication. Where do you think all those tax incentives and whatnot go?

I beleive it’s BOTH parties that create loopholes. Not just one party. Don’t forget, there are RICH Democrats too. And all of them politicians regardless of party are rich. You really think that them politicians want to pay the outragous percentage that they’ve put on their income bracket?
I get your drift on the so called progressive tax brackets. However if there was a flat tax there wouldn’t be any brackets so your last half is flawed.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 20, 2005 9:19 PM
Comment #86963

Ron Brown-
Though there are indeed no brackets in a flat tax, math-wise it’s no different than a progressive tax with equivalent brackets taxed at the same rate. It’s a trick of arithmetic, but it’s a useful one for illustrating my point.

I don’t deny that Liberals have overspent on their watch. That said, I’m not in love with deficit spending, and neither are most rank-and-file Democrats. I’m tired of being the folks bashed for what Republicans do with near impunity from their side.

That said, I’m for fiscal restraint regardless of who I have to stick in the straitjacket.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2005 10:28 PM
Comment #86971

Stephen,
The Flat Income Tax Rate Plan that I advocate doesn’t hit the poor, because no one pays tax until their income (since 01-January) exceeds N times the poverty level (I recommend N=1.5 times the poverty level), and only income above N times the poverty level is taxed. Thus, that ends the argument that the poor get taxed unfairly.

I could never support a graduated tax rate system, because its foundation is already comprimised by the obvious unfairness of taxing someone at a higher or lesser rate. That’s just beggin’ for dissent and controversy.

Here’s some arithmetic for ya with:
(1) a 17% flat income tax rate .
(2) and a poverty level of $12,000 .
(3) and (N=1.5)x($12,000) = $18,000 .

Mr. A’s annual income is 15,000 per year.
Mr. B’s annual income is 50,000 per year.
Mr. C’s annual income is 90,000 per year.

Mr. A’s annual income tax is 0 per year (since it didn’t exceed N times the poverty level of $12,000 ; i.e. it is less than $18,000 )
Mr. B’s annual income tax is (0.17)x($50,000 - $18,000) = $5,440 per year.
Mr. C’s annual income tax is (0.17)x($90,000 - $18,000) = $12,240 per year.

Thus, everyone pays 17% on all income above N times the poverty level . NOTE: Only income above N times the poverty level is taxed.

No loop holes, no deductions, no complications used to evade paying taxes, no upper-level income caps, no subsidies, no graduated tax brackets. All income is taxed 17%. Everything is as fair as it can be, and everyone should find that acceptable. Social Security and

Medicare benefits received are not taxed.
That is not an exception to the rule.
Medicare benefits received are not taxed, because income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare Tax was already paid once (on the gross income) when the income was earned. Taxing it again when benefits are received is double taxation. In fact, it’s a tax on a tax previously paid into the entitlements system. It’s also an accounting nightmare, and more unnecessary paper work.

If the tax system is fair, then people will have less reason to complain, and no justification for trying to evade paying taxes.

What could be more fair ?
And, now you don’t have to (like you would with a graduated tax scale) why anyone has to pay a larger percentage than someone else. After all, it should be sufficient that the higher income level is already paying more tax by virtue of the fact that 17% of a larger number is greater than 17% of a smaller number.

NOTE: the tax should be less than 17% , but the plundered Social Security and Medicare system requires it. Personally, I think Congress should not receive superior cu$shy multi-million dollar pen$ions and benefits funded by tax payers. Especially, since government has failed miserably to responsibly manage Social Security and Medicare.

. I’m tired of being the folks bashed for what Republicans do with near impunity from their side.
Stephen, that sounds like your a Democrat. That’s OK. I used to be a Republican. Regardless, we can all agree that both parties are irresponsible and unaccountable, and (as you said yourself) hold them accountable. That’s why we need to vote for non-incumbents, because we’ve got to stop the revolving door of corruption, irresponsibility, and unaccountability that is endangering the future and security of the nation. Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2005 1:14 AM
Comment #86982

d.a.n.-
There is simply no mathematical way for a flat percentage tax to be revenue neutral and not punish the poor by increasing the burden on them. That’s not my opinion, that’s mathematical fact. The only thing that would change that is if you worked the system with some exceptions, which would complicate things and defeat the point of simplifying the tax system.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 8:16 AM
Comment #86987

“The only reason I can see for a graduated income tax is to punish people for making money”

Dont forget envy and votes Ron.
Class warfare is a major vote getter.

Posted by: kctim at October 21, 2005 9:10 AM
Comment #86989

Class Warfare. Bush’s tax cut hit the lowest taxable bracket, then missed every one up to the one that starts at 100,000. Then it lowered the rates there and completely removed an entire tax bracket. Then Bush pushed for lowing taxes on gains from investment, which mainly benefits the big investors (ergo, the people with the money to be big investors), and then they went after “The Death Tax”, a tax that typically only deals with fortunes in the millions.

Why, if there is no class warfare, is this president continually fighting for the poor old rich people? Why has he not once vetoed any measure giving them tax breaks and whatnot?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 9:37 AM
Comment #86990
Try this Freeper entry from Dick Armey on for size

Stephen, I had a good reply to this but my pc crashed and it was lost. So I apologize but I’ll have to give you my short response.

I think you have quite possibly found someone who is more ignorant of the Fair Tax plan than yourself. Most of his article is either based off of ignorance to or blatent disregard of the way the plan is designed. It is clear that he has no more read the plan (or the book) completely any more than you have. The only way some of the things that he proposes as inevitabilities could happen is if the rules of the plan were changed before it was enacted. In which case it would no longer be the plan I am supporting would it? Some of the examples are just plain wrong and could not happen under the plan as it is written now. The example of the drug dealer was actually laughable it was so completely off point.

I wish I had more time but using this article to rebut the FairTax plan is a bad move. Hell, you yourself make better arguments than Dick Armey does. He did a great job of taking some bulletpoints from the Cliffs Notes version of the plan he saw somewhere, and imagining some interesting yet utterly misguided and wrong reasons to oppose it.

Your arguments were more credible before you introduced this little gem of an article. Thanks for the laugh though!

Posted by: BradM at October 21, 2005 9:39 AM
Comment #86997
d.a.n.- There is simply no mathematical way for a flat percentage tax to be revenue neutral and not punish the poor by increasing the burden on them. That’s not my opinion, that’s mathematical fact. The only thing that would change that is if you worked the system with some exceptions, which would complicate things and defeat the point of simplifying the tax system.
Prove it. Because I don’t see it. The fairest tax is the same flat rate income tax (only on income above N times the poverty level). Please endeavor to explan how that hammers the poor when the poor don’t pay any tax ? You draw mathematical conclusions with no supporting math. Show me, and if you can prove it, then I will believe you. Explain how the example provided above is unfair. Explain how the poor are being hammered by the Flat Income Tax Rate system I proposed above. Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2005 10:03 AM
Comment #86998

d.a.n.-
It’s we who need the discipline, in terms of spending. As long as we allow their culture to persist, as long as we make excuses for these people, they will do as you say, and it will be our fault this continues. It’s likely that even if the third parties make gains, that the Democratic party will gain greatly. What then? If my party gets into power, the temptations will be the same. My premise here is that we can’t go on forever trying to starve this beast when this beast is the government we need to run effectively, when this beast concerns the debtload we want to relieve from this country.

Bush can call his ill-advised tax cuts “tax relief”. Well, two can play at this game: The spending cuts and tax hikes I propose are “debt relief” My trick of the terms is likely the more honest of the two, because the fact is, we need to get out from under this debt.

We cannot change our government’s attitude towards money if we don’t change our own. It is our social weakness towards deferring the payment of our debts that allows the politicians to do the same. Only when we tighten the belt and demand fiscal responsibility will there be pressure for the politicians to get their act together in any meaningful way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 10:03 AM
Comment #86999

d.a.n.-
See my demonstration above.

The brackets are of prime importance in understanding this tax.

I’ll simplify here: lets say you have a 1000 bucks divided into 5 brackets. The first bracket is left alone, so you get 200 = 200
We take 10 percent from the next. 380 = 200 + 180
Then 15% from the next: 550 = 200 + 180 + 170
20% from the next: 710 = 200 + 180 + 170 + 160
And finally %25 from the last: 860 = 200 + 180 + 170 + 160 + 150
But what if you just took a 25% flat tax? 750 = 150 + 150 + 150 + 150 + 150
You lose 110 dollars in the bargain.

It gets worse if you you compare that tax in the lower brackets. At the lowest bracket, you lose a full quarter of your income where you lost none. On the second, you pay five times what you might have paid. On the third, you pay three times as much. Fourth, it’s over double, and the fifth you pay one and three quarters times the taxes.

Notice the trend? It’s the same with any system of progressive increases. At 25% top rate, my progressive system here can even beat a 15% flat rate, which would cost 10 bucks more, as a matter of act. But no matter how you cut it, the nature of the system, if you want it to make the same money, is that a greater proportion of the wealth must come from those with the smallest proportion of it.

That was my argument. The logic is this: A flat tax is no different than a progressive tax where every single bracket is taxed at the highest rate. As the brackets get towards the lower percentages, the savings of a progressive tax versus a flat tax get higher. Simply put, the poor pay a higher percentage in relation to their income automatically, an amount that causes all the more strife due to the fact that the poor spend nearly everythign they have to survive, typically. It’s in the math. I laid out the math.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 10:13 AM
Comment #87003

Stephen Daugherty,

I see your math, and it proves nothing except that you want a graduated tax system. It does not prove it’s fair at all. You simply are saying that the more a person makes, the larger the percentage of income tax they should pay.

Let’s not cloud the issue.

Just please simply explain how ZERO tax on the poor hurts the poor when the poor?
What could be more fair than ZERO tax on the poor ?
And then please explain how a flat income tax rate on everyone else that isn’t poor is unfair ?

If the poor need more than ZERO tax, then it is a welfare issue. Taxes and Welfare should not over-lap.

Also, why do you want to tax higher incomes at a higher percentage? That really makes me wonder about your motives.

Perhaps it’s really just envy and jealousy disguised as demands for equality ?
Regardless, it promotes class warfare.

I just can not see any argument whatsoever that ZERO tax is unfair to the poor.
Don’t just say it’s revenue neutral, progressive, regressive, or mathematically impossible or hammers the poor.

That makes no sense in the case where the poor pay ZERO tax.
In fact, in the system I promote, with the N factor (e.g. 1.5), there’s a additional buffer to ensure the poor aren’t taxed.

As for tax on everyone else, a flat rate percentage is the most fair, and puts an end to the question of fairness, because it doesn’t even concern the poor.

I’m not totally against the FairTax.org, but it seems to require a lot more explaining and seems to generate a lot more misconceptinos. Still, I promote it (secondary) as one of the two preferred tax systems.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2005 10:38 AM
Comment #87020

d.a.n.-
Zero tax to how high? You folks are putting forward these flat taxes and VATs and you’re failing to really understand the system as it is.

A flat rate is unfair because it cannot be adjusted to income, except to rule people out of it. Moreover, the amount of money one loses as a low income wage earner under the flat system goes up exponentially as one’s income goes lower. I demonstrated that with the brackets, which I reposted specifically to rebut your argument. At the top, one is only paying a little under two times more taxes. At the bottom, that rate increase went up five times. The current system already exempts people earning less than a certain amount. The question here is what happens to people in the lower brackets. Answer? They pay much more taxes, simply by the mathematical nature of the system.

Also, why do you want to tax higher incomes at a higher percentage? That really makes me wonder about your motives.

I don’t wonder about yours, you don’t wonder about mine. I want a system that pays for itself with the least friction generated with our economy. The fact is, the rich save more, and therefore leave more money idle, unspent. They can do this, simply by the nature of their income. This is not class warfare, this is economic optimization. Tax the parts of society that lose the least economic power at the higher rates.

Flat taxes ignore the progression of greater disposable income that comes with an increase in ones economic intake. That’s what makes it unfair. It’s like a transmission that wears on the lower gears more to avoid putting strain on the higher gears.

The Fair Tax has two outcomes: black market economy (caused by the friction created by high sales tax) or Government intrusiveness (cause by the need to identify those who are being compensated or to tax the VAT transactions in the midst of the supply and service train.). Whichever way you go, you only change the nature of your problem, without necessarily eliminating those you already have. These may be emotionally pleasing proposals, but they are made in ignorance of their implications in real life, as demonstrated by other systems.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 1:03 PM
Comment #87026

Brad M.
If you want to laugh at me, I will be happy to continue in my ignorance. I don’t have the time to read the book at the moment, so you would do well to try and concisely explain to me how this is supposed to work. As it is, the track record of the GOP’s bright ideas so far hasn’t been all that great. Why is this any different, I guess I’m asking.

The Republicans are all full of ideas about what marvellous things they can do to change the country, but they’re not measuring the costs, they’re not wrangling the bureaucracy with any skill or grace, and they’re making a mess of everything with their clumsy hammer-meets-thumbnail style of discourse.

Republicans suck at transitions. They want thing their way, immediately, so they go ahead with untested processes, untested strategies, untested ideology, and they try to make things work through brute force. The Result? They don’t have the mediation of experience to tell them where to quit trying to push their bright ideas and just think about what’s going on.

You fellows would push these tax schemes with barely any examination of them, because some economists and some high profile figures push them. Result? Collapse, I’d wager. Things are bad enough with the mess you’ve made of the tax policy, without introducing the untested variables of a theory heavy tax system. Why don’t you try this out at the state or local level and observe what’s going on there?

Your logic can be impeccable as that of an Ancient Greek Philosopher, but logic can succeed academically and fail in practice. You only have to look at the war or the disaster response to Katrina to see the truth of that.

So explain this system to me, tell me where it’s worked in the past. Don’t call me an idiot and expect me to get with the program. Explain to this educated, intelligent young man how your system works, and why you think it will work.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 2:00 PM
Comment #87039
Bush’s tax cut hit the lowest taxable bracket, then missed every one up to the one that starts at 100,000

Odd, since I don’t make anywhere near 100,000 and I saw a decreate in my taxes… I wonder how I did that?

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 21, 2005 2:51 PM
Comment #87042

Rhinehold-
The lowest bracket’s taxes were cut. That’s probably where you got your money. Otherwise, you didn’t enjoy the bulk of the tax cuts.

No other president in our history has cut taxes in a war. Now we understand why: it’s a strategic liability. There would be far less talk of leaving Iraq, if we knew we could pay for it for the long term.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 3:07 PM
Comment #87047

Stephen, Here is a link to the quick overview of the plan. Feel free to read it over. The FAQ page can provide more details if you have any quesitons regarding a specific issue.

The plan was designed by several economists and was originally introduced as a joint venture between a Republican and a Democrat and maintains that it is a non-partisan organization. So it is not a “GOP bright idea”. It has been around since the late 70’s so it is not some new crazy idea. It is just now picking up steam so many have not heard of it before now.

The current systems being used in the 9 states (such as Florida) that do not have state income taxes are based off of a very similar ideas. Since 1990 these states have seen 2 times the job growth and 2.5 times the population growth. These 9 states have become High tech job and corporate havens in this time frame. This is the same thing we could expect to see of our country on a global scale if the FairTax is passed.

There are more reasons that I support it but I’m running out of time to write.

I have never called you an “idiot” but to argue against something without any understanding as to how it works does not seem like your style.

So, check it out. Take time to read the book… I think it is a great plan. Easy on the poor, fair on the rest. It taxes illeagal activity such as drug money and illegal immigrants that are living here (Because they have to spend their money too). It lures American companies back to America, and forign companies here as well, and it puts more money in the pockets of Americans to choose how they want to use it.

And btw… I am not a Republican, I’m an independant (quite possibly a Libertarian though I carry no cards per se). I lean conservative in my thoughts but the jabs against Republicans don’t bother me one bit. In fact I agree with a lot of them. :-)

Posted by: BradM at October 21, 2005 3:38 PM
Comment #87058

Stephen Daugherty,

Below, I disprove many of your statements. Please examine it carefully. I don’t see how you can continue to argue ZERO tax is hard on the poor, and a %17 only on all income above N=1.5 times the poverty level is unfair to the less wealthy. You say the less wealthy will pay a higher percentage of gross income to tax, and I flatly disprove that below.

Zero tax to how high?
ZERO tax on the poor (e.g. just to be safe, say N=1.5 times the poverty level). Are you now worried the poor won’t pay enough ? For details, see: Flat Income Tax Rate with low-income exemption of N times poverty level.
You folks are putting forward these flat taxes and VATs and you’re failing to really understand the system as it is.
Not at all. And I know several here have researched both Flat Tax plans at great lenghth, every time this topic comes up on the watchblog. Flat taxes are not unfair in the systems presented. Flat taxes with low-income-level exemptions protect the poor.
A flat rate is unfair because it cannot be adjusted to income, except to rule people out of it.

Not true.
17% of 60K is $8.5K , and
17% of 100K is $17K .

Looks like it’s adjusting just fine for income.
In fact, it’s quite linear.

Moreover, the amount of money one loses as a low income wage earner under the flat system goes up exponentially as one’s income goes lower.
Not true again. Flat tax is linear (that’s a straigt line, not exponential) on all taxed income above N times the poverty level. And I can prove to you mathematically that, with a low-income-level exemption, the wealthy pay a slightly higher tax percentage on their gross income. Observe:

Given a flat income tax of 17% and a poverty level of $12,000, and a N factor of 1.5 :
A makes 15,000 per year.
B makes 50,000 per year.
C makes 90,000 per year.
D makes 200,000 per year.
E makes 900,000 per year.

Therefore:
A pays ( $0 since $15K is less than ($12Kx1.5= $18,000); that’s 0% of $15K gross;
B pays ( $5,440 = (0.17)x($50K-($12Kx1.5)); that’s 10.9% of $50K gross; and 17% of $32K
C pays ( $12,240 = (0.17)x($90K-($12Kx1.5)); that’s 13.6% of $90K gross; and 17% of $72K
D pays ( $30,940 = (0.17)x($200K -($12Kx1.5)); that’s 15.5% of $200K gross; and 17% of $182K
E pays ( $149,940 = (0.17)x($900K -($12Kx1.5)); that’s 16.7% of $900K gross; and 17% of $882K

I demonstrated that with the brackets, which I reposted specifically to rebut your argument.
Afraid not, Stephen. The proof above proves you are incorrect. You said above: Simply put, the poor pay a higher percentage in relation to their income… Check your results again, and look at the percentages. Lower income levels are not paying higher percentages as you claim. I carefully examined your example, and it only proves one thing: you want a graduated tax scale. That’s all. Additionally, your rebuttal and math in no way proves your allegation that lower income levels (under the Flat-Income-Rate-Tax-with-exemption). Look at the percentages I list above that disproves that allegation.
At the top, one is only paying a little under two times more taxes. At the bottom, that rate increase went up five times.
No Stephen. All you proved by that is that a graduated tax scale makes the wealthy pay a even larger percentage of income to taxes (not less), and conversely, the lower income levels pay a less percentage of income to taxes.

In my example above, the percentage of tax relative to gross income increases with income as the low-income-level-exemption (i.e. N=1.5 x the poverty level) becomes more and more insignificant to the higher income earners. Eventually, their tax rate on gross is approaching the limit of %17.
That’s the beautiful thing about the Flat-Tax-Rate systems with low-income-level exemptions.

The current system already exempts people earning less than a certain amount.
True, with the personal exemptions, EIC, etc. The new system doesn’t even make anyone pay any tax, except on anything above N times the poverty level.
The question here is what happens to people in the lower brackets. Answer? They pay much more taxes, simply by the mathematical nature of the system.
Not true again. How can 17% of 50K be greater than 17% of 100K. Your statement is false.

Stephen,
You’re entitled to you opinion and I’m entitled to mine. Never said it was otherwise. In my opinion, anyone who supports a graduated tax system is unfair.

I want a system that pays for itself with the least friction generated with our economy.
Me too. So, make it fair. Give up on taxing higher incomes at a higher % rate.
The fact is, the rich save more, and therefore leave more money idle, unspent.
So. What’s it to you ? You feel like you should have more control of other people’s money ? That truly strikes me as envy and jealousy being disguised as pleas for equality.
They can do this, simply by the nature of their income. This is not class warfare, this is economic optimization.
No, it is unfair, and promotes class warfare.
Tax the parts of society that lose the least economic power at the higher rates.
Again, that’s selective taxation and unfair.


Flat taxes ignore the progression of greater disposable income that comes with an increase in ones economic intake.
Not at all. Besides, what’s it to you if someone has earned more money than you?

That’s what makes it unfair.
Only to those that are are envious and jealous.
The Fair Tax has two outcomes: black market economy (caused by the friction created by high sales tax) or Government intrusiveness (cause by the need to identify those who are being compensated or to tax the VAT transactions in the midst of the supply and service train.). Whichever way you go, you only change the nature of your problem, without necessarily eliminating those you already have.
I disagree. Also, almost anything would be better than what we have now, the billions wasted in accounting, verification, tax evasion, over-complication, millions of pages of tax code, etc. Either Flat Tax System would be better than what we have now. I slightly prefer the Flat-Income-Tax-Rate-with-Low-Income-Level-Exemption.
These may be emotionally pleasing proposals, but they are made in ignorance of their implications in real life, as demonstrated by other systems.
Yep. Ignorance is rampant. Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2005 4:03 PM
Comment #87084

d.a.n.-
Where is the progressive tax system for comparison? I know you want this system bad, but I want to see how you come to your conclusion.

You and I have different definitions of fairness. You place the emphasis on rate. I place it on the amount these people have to spend in order to survive. 12,000 is poverty rate for just one person. What happens when that one person becomes a person and a spouse, or someone gains a family?

It did not escape my notice that the pattern was linear. That’s precisely the problem. The progressive tax curves the tax rate upwards, instead of mindlessly drawing a straight line upwards, disregarding the fact that the poorer a person gets, the more of their income goes to simple subsistence. And no, the exemption of the first few thousand dollars of income does not constitute fairness. It only changes the starting point for the line. At most, it just shifts the unfair burden to the middle class, instead of the poor.

Your system is too arbitrary. you ask:

Not true again. How can 17% of 50K be greater than 17% of 100K. Your statement is false.

You neglect the fact that I was making a comparison between the two systems. The people in the lower brackets of the progressive system will pay more under the flat tax system. Additionally, I demonstrated another fact: as we get towards those who earn the top rate, the distinction curves away. The amount a person pays at higher income differs between the systems less at the top rate than at the bottom. I did not fail to demonstrate my point, you failed to analyze my point correctly.

The only class warfare here is of the upper-classes against classes of lesser means who for some reason expect those who are given more to do more for the community in return. There will always be some degree of desire for those who have the least to get the most. That said, it is easier to stave off the jealousy and envy if the rich don’t hoarde their riches jealously, like the Drakes and Serpents of legend. Simply opposing any system that asks for them to contribute in proportion to their wealth is only going to make the tensions worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 5:24 PM
Comment #87178
d.a.n.- Where is the progressive tax system for comparison? I know you want this system bad, but I want to see how you come to your conclusion.
I presented my plan. You presented yours. I don’t know what else to tell you. Your avoiding the parts where I disproved what you said.
You and I have different definitions of fairness.
No doubt about it. Big time. I don’t feel like I own other peoples’ hard earned money. You do.
You place the emphasis on rate. I place it on the amount these people have to spend in order to survive.
Man Oh man. If you only knew how repulsive that sounds. That’s not merely socialist. It borders on communist. It’s really envy and jealousy disguised as demands for equaility. Wow. I’m really surprised you’d say such a thing.
12,000 is poverty rate for just one person. What happens when that one person becomes a person and a spouse, or someone gains a family?
If you had read the plan (it’s only one page), you’d know. The government establishes the poverty level (same as for the FairTax plan), and it is adjusted upward for each dependent.
It did not escape my notice that the pattern was linear. That’s precisely the problem.
Only to people with envy and jealousy and have the unmitigated gall to lay claim to others’ hard earned income (above the same fair flat income tax). You’re wasting your time with me. I’ll never agree with a graduated tax scale that makes people pay a higher percentage just for working and earning more.


The progressive tax curves the tax rate upwards, instead of mindlessly drawing a straight line upwards, disregarding the fact that the poorer a person gets, the more of their income goes to simple subsistence.
In your mind only. You ignore the fact that 17% of $100K is twice as much as 17% tax on $50K. Linear is fair. Progressive, graduated is not fair.

And no, the exemption of the first few thousand dollars of income does not constitute fairness. It only changes the starting point for the line. At most, it just shifts the unfair burden to the middle class, instead of the poor.
Stephen, you have yet to prove how ZERO tax is a burden on the poor.
Your system is too arbitrary.
Not at all. It’s fair. Your’s isn’t. You think people that have more should pay a larger percentage. It’s not enough for you that 17% of $100K is more that 17% of 50K. You want even more.
You neglect the fact that I was making a comparison between the two systems. The people in the lower brackets of the progressive system will pay more under the flat tax system.
That’s false on two counts: (1) the physical amount of tax on a smaller income is less than that on a larger income. (2) the percentage of tax on gross is smaller for the smaller income than that of a larger income. (3) the low-income-level-exemption creates (as I demonstrated above) a somewhat graduated scale if you calculate the percentage based on gross income. It’s very fair and you know it, as hard as you try to say it isn’t. (4) lastly, no one pays over 17%. Only the very wealthy would pay nearly 17%, because the low-income-level-exemption becomes negligible.
Additionally, I demonstrated another fact: as we get towards those who earn the top rate, the distinction curves away. The amount a person pays at higher income differs between the systems less at the top rate than at the bottom. I did not fail to demonstrate my point, you failed to analyze my point correctly.
No, I analyzed it perfectly. I said your plan is a graduated tax scale with higher percentages for those with higher incomes. What part of that is incorrect ?
The only class warfare here is of the upper-classes against classes of lesser means who for some reason expect those who are given more to do more for the community in return.
One thing that causes class warfare is people that believe the wealthy should be taxed at a higher tax rate percentage, harbor envy and jealousy, and thing they have a right to other people’s money.
There will always be some degree of desire for those who have the least to get the most. That said, it is easier to stave off the jealousy and envy if the rich don’t hoarde their riches jealously, like the Drakes and Serpents of legend.

Stephen, Are you for real? Are you just begin facetious now ?


Simply opposing any system that asks for them to contribute in proportion to their wealth is only going to make the tensions worse.

All that is expected is for everyone to contribute fairly (except the poor, who can’t).

I’m not sure if you’re pulling my leg here, but if you’re not, I’m asking you to seriously consider what you’ve been saying here.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 21, 2005 8:01 PM
Comment #87202

d.a.n.-
You did not present the bracket rates for comparison. what I showed you were just hypothetical example, intended to demonstrate the math. I said as much. I want you to present the government’s own rates so they can be compared to your plan.

No doubt about it. Big time. I don’t feel like I own other peoples’ hard earned money. You do.

Neat Rhetoric. Still got it wrong. I don’t own it. It’s shared with everybody, including the original taxpayer. He shares my money, I share his. I just ask those who can contribute a larger share to give back to our community.

It’s not socialist to talk about what people can afford to pay and still feed themselves. You can talk about people’s hard earned money, but there are people who work incredibly hard, not in some nice office like you or me, and they get much less than you or I for our time. It’s not communist to weigh the consequences of our policy! It’s moral! It’s Christian! It’s the only responsible way to govern! I’m not asking the rich to be divested of every penny and work on some collective. THAT’s communism.

You ignore the comparison I made between a flat tax system and a progressive system. Even adjusted for you exemption for the poor, it’s still the same deal. The lower you are in the brackets, as a progressive tax is raised, the more you have to lose. You continue to insist that the measurement is between percentages within your system, which is no basis for comparison. You still insist that equal percentages between income levels produces equal results in proportion. That’s only in the abstract. The cost of living imposes a floor to what people can afford to give and still retain the ability to make ends meet.

You don’t present our current tax system in comparison to your flat tax system so we can test my hypothesis, as demonstrated by my models of a flat tax system and a progressive system.

Your low income level exemption only creates a difference if you count taxable income, which makes no difference as a progressive system has its own low level exemption.

I can’t help but notice that you’ve already built in numbers of dependents and low level exemptions. Is it not reasonable to say that your tax is no longer as flat as you say it is? if you’re going to be fair in ratewise definition, why have the exemptions at all, much less with dependents increasing it.

One thing that causes class warfare is people that believe the wealthy should be taxed at a higher tax rate percentage, harbor envy and jealousy, and thing they have a right to other people’s money.

I’m not sure why you take my arguments so far from what they actually state, my views so far from what I’ve expressed. You’ve implied that my thinking is communist, that my motivations are the envy of the rich, and the jealousy I’m supposed to harbor for their wealth.

You’re not giving me much credit, are you?

Look, I plan one day to be a rich and famous filmmaker. No, I’m not kidding! I want to enjoy my wealth, when and if I get it. But you know what? I’ll be untroubled to pay my taxes. Why? Because I believe it’s a duty to support the public good. I don’t believe that by being stingy, that by not paying for what I get, that I’m going to do myself any good. I don’t believe that by underpaying people I do myself any good in asking absolute loyalty to my cause. We should take care of the folks who take care of us. If we do that, we may not see a lot of immediate profit, but our system will be healthier. You talk about a hard day’s work. Does the guy who digs a ditch work less hard than the man who plans it? In the end, we mainly pay for the difference between that one man’s education, and the other’s. It’s harder to train a person to do an advanced job, and harder to be that person in training.

We should not deny those who work hard the fruits of their labor. That’s capitalism: you work, you eat. We provide a safety net so the system doesn’t have to absorb the effects of people falling all the way, but we strongly encourage people to work, and I have no problem with that.

You think I think that much differently than you. Fact is, I don’t, and your emotional investment in your plan clouds your perspective on that. I’m no communist. I’m no thief, and while I want greater riches, I want them because I earned them, not because I got them from somebody else by theft or trickery.

Go look at other countries and see what happens to those who become excessively worried about the envious attentions of the poor, then ask yourself why America doesn’t have more real socialists and communists.

Try the middle class. Try the fact that the majority of Americans can claim a level of comfort beyond that of simply what they need to survive. This has all developed under your hated progressive tax. It works, because people have less reason to complain, less grinding on them from above.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2005 10:36 PM
Comment #87268

Stephen,

I never did approve of the graduated tax scale.
There’s no need to show the brackets. You already did that, except your percentages were not actual percentages used in the last 2005 tax tables. I’m not ignoring anything. I understand all of it perfectly.

We all know how the current tax system works, so there’s no need to compare it. It’s really not that complicated. I understand everything you’re saying, but simply don’t agree with you. We disagree on the tax rates. You think a graduated tax scale is fair, and I don’t. I think a Flat Income Tax Rate with a low-income-level-exemption that is N times (e.g. 1.5) the poverty level, and tax only on income above the threshold is fair. And you don’t. That’s it. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree.

However, there are two things you say that are quite revealing:

(1) You wrote: The fact is, the rich save more, and therefore leave more money idle, unspent.

So? So you feel it should be taken from them?

(2) You wrote: As your income rises, the percentage of that income you need to survive goes down.

So? What does it mater? Because you want to tax those more that make more? Of course you do, if you support a graduated tax scale.

So, your support for a graduated tax scale (what we have now, in the current ridiculous tax system, if it were not for all the loop holes, deductions, shelters, and complication to evade paying taxes, etc.), means that the more a person earns, the higher the percentage of income that must be paid to tax. Your the first person ever that I’ve discussed taxes with, that thinks a graduated tax scale is fair. Regardless of what anyone thinks, I think that a graduated tax scale is unfair. Besides, a flat percentage rate already results in more tax for more earned, because 17% of $100K is more than 17% of $50K. The Flat Income Tax Rate is quite fair. You say it isn’t fair. I say it is more fair than what we have now. And please don’t tell me the poor get punished, because as pointed out, they pay ZERO. Your argument, which I understand completely is that within a graduated tax scale, the percentage rate increases as the income increase, or conversly, the percentage rate decreases as the income decreases. To me, that discourages productivity. I can’t remember how many times someone said, I got a raise, but after that put me in a higher tax bracket, I barely got a raise at all.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 22, 2005 2:23 AM
Comment #87312

d.a.n.-
I completed my side of the argument by showing both a model of the flat tax system and a model a progressive one. With both in view, I openly compared the two. You might argue that the exclusion of a bracket of income makes it more progressive, but the nature of the flat tax doesn’t change once you’re past that.

You haven’t really answered my objection. You haven’t put these two systems side by side and run the same numbers through both. All I’m asking for is a simple demonstration of how your flat tax system defeats a progressive tax.

Additionally, you claim this will simplify things, but have you considered that your poverty rate exclusion itself will:

a)requires a complex bureacracy to handle the hundreds of millions of checks and the paperwork necessary for it to work, and

b) will provide free money to every individual in America, rich or poor, money that is not guaranteed to be spent back into the system via consumer goods. It will essentially be like a second welfare system for those below the poverty line, or who choose not to work at all.

Which demonstrates a very important point : There is no solution to a problem of loopholes. both complexity and simplicity can create loopholes. All you need is is a little creative logic, and knowledge of where the decisions have gone and whatnot. That’s why we need courts with judges that have discretion. That’s why we need something better than legal literalism. Laws interact, and without some kind of interstitial and precedential law, they create loopholes that make for eccentric or counterproductive behavior under the law.

Human society can be governed by laws, but not determined by them. That is the true folly of socialism, and the reason the market works better. In every communist country a black market economy existed for that precise reason, bypassing the hogtied, law-determined official one.

In my state, the tax runs at about 8%. can you imagine adding 23% or 17% on top of that? As for this relieving the tax load on corporation, It might actually inspire a kind of communism, as people collectivize and form business whose implicit purpose is to purchase “business to business”

What seems simple on paper rapidly complicates because it encounters the creativity of the human mind, and the vast set of unknowns that the real world presents to us. Among the assumptions that could easily prove wrong is the one that this system will be revenue neutral. With any economic system, the complexity of the system often conspires to make things perform unpredictably. Though Enron cost relatively little in terms of GDP, the fear and anxiety about the market reverberated, as well as the ripple effects of financial collapse. In addition to all that, other companies collapsed as reviews of their books turned up similar fraud and chicanery.

I think that many independents and conservatives here underestimate the complexity of the market and the economy, and have an all too deterministic view of a plan that would likely perform as anything but deterministic. These fair and flat taxes strike me as wishful thinking, more than viable alternatives. They count on the world being the way that the creators envisioned it, and that is rarely the case with any ideological cause.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 22, 2005 2:44 PM
Comment #87319

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen,

Why insist on a side by side?
Just look at your table (above), and then look at my table (above).
OK, very well. If you insist. But, you’re not going to like the results.

Given a Flat Income Tax Rate plan:
(1) a flat income tax of 17% ,
(2) and a poverty level of $12K ,
(3) and an N factor of 1.5
(4) therefore, low-income-exemption-level is 1.5 x $12K = $18K
(5) and five persons with different gross incomes:
A earned $15K per year.
B earned $50K per year.
C earned $90K per year.
D earned $200K per year.
E earned $900K per year.
F earned $9,000K per year.

Therefore, the income tax for each person (after subtracting the $18K exemption) is:
A’s tax = $0 since $15K is less than $18K; that is 0% of $15K ;
B’s tax = $5,440=0.17 x ($50K-$18K); that’s 10.9% of $50K ; and 17% of $32K
C’s tax = $12,240=0.17 x ($90K-$18K); that’s 13.6% of $90K ; and 17% of $72K
D’s tax = $30,940=0.17 x ($200K-$18K); that’s 15.5% of $200K ; and 17% of $182K
E’s tax = $149,940=0.17 x ($900K-$18K); that’s 16.7% of $900K ; and 17% of $882K
F’s tax = $1,526,940=0.17 x ($9,000K-$18K); that’s 16.97% of $9,000K ; and 17% of $9,982K


Graduated tax plan (using 2004 tables) for a single-filer (with $4250 personal deduction):
10% for up to $7,150 (A’s bracket)
15% for $7,151 to $29,050
25% for $29,051 to $70,350 (B’s bracket)
28% for $70,351 to $146,750 (C’s bracket)
33% for $146,751 to $319,100 (D’s bracket)
35% for $319,101 or more (E’s and F’s bracket)

A’s tax is $1,075=0.10 x ($15K-$4250); that’s (7.2% of $15K gross) VERSUS: $0 ; 0% (for flat tax; see above)
B’s tax is $11,438=0.25 x ($50K-$4250); that’s (22.9% of $50K gross) VERSUS: $5,440 ; 10.9% (for flat tax; see above)
C’s tax is $24,010=0.28 x ($90K-$4250); that’s (26.7% of $90K gross) VERSUS: $12,240 ; 13.6% (for flat tax; see above)
D’s tax is $64,598=0.33 x ($200K-$4250); that’s (32.3% of $200K gross) VERSUS: $30,940 ; 15.5% (for flat tax; see above)
E’s tax is $313,513=0.35 x ($900K-$4250); that’s (34.8 of $900K gross) VERSUS: $149,940 ; 16.7% (for flat tax; see above)
F’s tax is $3,150,000=0.35 x ($9,000K-$4250); that’s (35.0% of $15K gross) VERSUS: $1,526,940 ; 16.97% (for flat tax; see above)

Well, surprise ! suprise !
Looky there !
Your graduated tax system hammers the low income levels !. And your graduated tax system would really unfairly hammer the wealthy (if it weren’t for loop holes). Due to tax loop holes, I suspect that highest tax of $3,150,000 isn’t even a third of that in reality.

So, if you ask me, my system is much more fair.

So, now you can’t even say your graduated system is easier on the lower income levels.

Also, unfortunately, this excludes the home mortgage deduction, but that most likely doesn’t help the two bottom tax brackets much, since they’re unlikely to be able to afford to buy a home.

Also, state taxes are a separate issue. Don’t cloud the issues or obscure the facts with that.

Also, you say tracking income and paper work in a flat income tax system with no deductions and a lower-level-income-exemption will be a complex bureaucracy? How? You’re grasping at straws. The flat income tax plan I’m advocating would be much more simple than a graduated system, or what we have now.

Regardless, you want to tax the wealthy 35%, tax the middle class about 23% and tax the poor a few percent.
My tax plan tax everyone less, and the tax on the poor is ZERO.

You haven’t really answered my objection. You haven’t put these two systems side by side and run the same numbers through both. All I’m asking for is a simple demonstration of how your flat tax system defeats a progressive tax.
OK, I think I just proved it.

But, as pointed out above, you have a belief that I not disagree with, but find repugnant. You’re own statements and advocation of a graduated tax system reveals that you believe you actually have a right to lay claim to the money of the wealthy. You even virtually say they have more than they need to live on. I find that philosophy objectionable. And, it also seems that whenever you’re losing an argument, you simply say that it’s more complicated than that, and others’ are too simplistic. I’m not buyin’ it. Especially without something more substantial than the weak arguments I’ve seen thus far.

Others, please join in if you like. Which of the tow tax systems above is more fair ?

Just give it up, OK ?
Instead, join us to make government more responsible and accountable. : )

Because, all of these many problems we discuss endlessly here are never going to get better (in fact, they’re getting nore numerous and worse) without first peacefully forcing government to be responsible and accountable, and restoring the balance of power (not simply shifting it) between government and the people.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 22, 2005 5:51 PM
Comment #87341

d.a.n.-
Let’s take C’s bracket (he earns 90K), and examine your mistake.

C’s tax is $24,010=0.28 x ($90K-$4250); that’s (26.7% of $90K gross) VERSUS: $12,240 ; 13.6% (for flat tax; see above)

The reality? Figured properly, a person making 90K owes 18,636.32. an effective tax rate of 20%. It happens like this. We figure the top bracket only for the money that falls into it’s range. anything else is taxed in the lower brackets. So, the only tax at 28 percent, is that which is over the bottom part of that bracket’s range. In this case? Just about 15,000. The next brackets are easy. The brackets below contain set amounts of money, that anybody with an income greater than them would pay. A Millionaire will pay the same in these brackets as a person whose income just overtops it. The next bracket’s tax nets 10,000, then the one below it gets about 3,000, and the lowest one 715 dollars. We add each bracket’s amount together. We never tax everything at one rate.

Each step up builds on the step before. You really only have to figure out what falls in your top bracket, because the rest of the amounts are constant.

When filled to the maximum, each bracket the total taxes drawn are as such:
33% bracket: 56842.17
28% bracket: 21391.72
25% bracket: 10324.75
15% bracket: 3284.85
10% bracket: 715.00

There is no maximum for the 35%, and therefore no such shorthand. So, the corrected figures are (with your figures in parentheses):

A)1254.85 (1612.50)*
B)8174.60 (11,438)
C)18636.32 (24,010)
D)51885.99 (64,598)
E)294385.64 (313,513)
F)3129385.64 (3,150,000)

*You put him a tax bracket below his actual one. If you, using the right bracket, had estimated “correctly”, (with your standard calculation) this would be the figure.

All told, you overestimated the tax liability here by a total of 61,448.46, an error of 1.7% from the real tax liabilities What keeps it from getting worse is that your greatest errors are in the lower brackets, where the collection of the total taxes from each bracket matters more than any one bracket.

Error:
A = 28.5%
B = 39.9%
C = 28.8%
D = 24.5%
E = 6.5%
F = .66%

In short, you were way off in your estimation.

There’s another problem here: Revenue neutrality. Admittedly, even without the advantage of the exemption, your flat tax is cheaper all around.

That’s the problem.

This is the total revenue from your taxes: $1,725,500.

This is the total revenue from mine:
$3,503,723.04

Your “revenue neutral” tax system only collects a little under half (49.25%) of what the current one does under the same circumstances? Even an increase to 23% people only gets us to 2,334,500., which is 66.6% of what the progressive system gains on its own.

where do the figures fall, then?

Flat tax at 23%, 18K exemption (parentheses 17% figures)

A 0
B 7360 (5440)
C 16560 (12,240)
D 41860 (30,940)
E 202860 (149,940)
F 2065860 (1,526,940)

Progressive Tax, Variable rates, 4.25K deduction

A)1254.85
B)8174.60
C)18636.32
D)51885.99
E)294385.64
F)3129385.64

What’s going on here? In just a few percentage points of a hike, you’re much closer to the tax as would be figured progressively, but you’re still at 2/3rds. My bet here, is that taken long enough out, your system would actually have to require the Middle Class (poorly represented by your sample) to pay more to keep things on an even keel.

This is what I mean by the unfairness of this “fair tax” As it is, set low to tempt the unwary, it seems to be cheaper than our current system, which perhaps it is. But that cheapness only lasts as long as taxes aren’t raised, which the revenue neutrality would likely demand. In that case, the middle class would see the largest proportional increases, in comparison to the sort of focused bracket increases on the rich that could be possible. The Wage-earners of this country could be left alone, while those with greater resources could take on more of the burden, to match the greater gifs they have.

What I find objectionable is that we grasp so greedily onto every last cent, as if keeping every cent we can will necessarily mean security or economic stability. The way the tax cuts are disrupting the flow of revenue demonstrates that our greed here has a cost. We can’t continue to grasp for profit where we only find debt. We must get ourselves back in good shape, and the last thing we need to do is change over to a tax system where tax hikes would automatically penalize those with the least resources (even allowing for the exemption.), especially if we’re talking about a non-revenue neutral tax.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 22, 2005 11:26 PM
Comment #87352

I only made a mistake for A’s tax (see correction below…it should be $1613 instead of $1075).
__________________________________
Another CORRECTION: Above, A’s graduated tax should be 15% (not 10%), which increases the tax even more on the lower earner with $15K gross. Thus, is shoud be:

A’s tax is $1,613=0.15 x ($15K-$4250); that’s (10.8% of $15K gross) VERSUS: $0 ; 0% (for flat tax; see above)
__________________________________

But, it still doesn’t matter, because your tax system, based on your own calculations, taxes all income levels more heavily, you hammer the low income levels more, and you really hammer the upper income levels.

Then you happily point out that your system generates more tax revenue overall? Of course it does, but that’s nothing to brag about.
Stephen, I don’t understand your use of brackets. Our current tax system, after all deductions, etc. does not make the tax payer calculate tax by applying the ajusted income to consecutive tax brackets. The payer looks up the tax rate for their adjusted gross in the tax table (and I provided those same tax rates from the tax table). That tax rate percentage is multiplied with the adjusted gross. So, I don’t understand what your doing with the number by applying the income to each bracket (top to bottom) separately. That’s not the procedure for calculating taxes. Maybe that’s you’re system as you think it should be? Still it doesn’t matter, because you still just proved my case for me. I knew you would not fail to point out that your tax system taxes over $3 million, while mine taxed only about $1.7 million. And, you’re happy about that, because you want higher taxes, and you want to hammer the wealthiest income levels.

You want to tax people more, a lot more, and you call them greedy for not wanting to pay 35% tax? I can only shake my head in disbelief.

These are your own words:

What I find objectionable is that we grasp so greedily onto every last cent, as if keeping every cent we can will necessarily mean security or economic stability.

These are your own words:

… it is easier to stave off the jealousy and envy if the rich don’t hoarde their riches jealously, like the Drakes and Serpents of legend.

These are your own words:

The fact is, the rich save more, and therefore leave more money idle, unspent.

These are your own words:

As your income rises, the percentage of that income you need to survive goes down.

Stephen,
You’re entitled to believe as you want, but I don’t share your philosophy, and never will.
Your statements (listed above) are truly revealing. You’re arguments are weak and non-sequiturs.

In my opinion (opposite to you), I believe taxing increasingly higher income levels at increasingly higher income percentage rates is unfair. You think it is fair, and your remarks reveal that you feel envy and jealousy, and you feel you are entitled to other peoples income, and believe those that don’t agree with you are greedy (that’s your own words).

But, try this. Forget what I think. I’m not going to argue with you about it anymore, because no amount of logic will work.

So, try this. Go ask someone else. Ask someone else on this blog. I’d be very interested to see how many think your plan is more fair than the Flat Income Tax Rate with a low-income level exemption.

I’d be very interested to see how many agree with your philosophy revealed by your numerous statements.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 23, 2005 1:53 AM
Comment #87460

d.a.n.-
No, you’re wrong. Nearly every source I find agrees:

If an individual’s taxable income falls within a particular tax bracket, the individual pays the listed percentage of income on each dollar that falls within that monetary range. For example, a person who earned $10,000 in 2003 would be liable for 10% of each dollar earned from the 1st dollar to the 7,300th dollar, and then for 15% of each dollar earned from the 7,301st dollar to the 10,000th dollar, for a total of $1,135. This ensures that every rise in a person’s salary results in an increase of after-tax salary.

I don’t know how many ways I can say it to you. Just like I had trouble accepting that your tax plan was cheaper per bracket, You have trouble accepting that the progressive tax system is not a straight multiplication. We were both wrong. I have admitted my error, or at least admit it here. I hope you can admit that your interpretation was incorrect, as I have.

I illustrated the lack of revenue neutrality to make a point: that to be a fair tax, a flat tax must be a low tax, and unfortunately, whether you like it or not, we need a great deal of revenue to cover the costs of government. This is not something we can put off, this is not something we serve ourselves well by ignoring. We must pay the high tax burden for now, if we are to avoid facing the problems that come with excessive national debt.

You yourself stated that in order to deal with our problems in any way, we would have to devote over a billion dollars a day to debt relief. How can we devote a billion dollars a day to debt relief without a tax system capable of matching revenue to expenditures?

Leaving aside the great uncertainty that I’ve already spoken to, it is necessary that your system take on the tax burden we have now. Not that we’d like to have, not that, we might have in five years, what we’re dealing with now.

Because of this, your flat tax, even with it’s exclusions, would likely have to rise to a greater percentage to cover things. I demonstrated that even with a six percent rise in rates, your tax code still only gathered a third of the money of the progressive one. To bring your taxcode to revenue neutrality, I extrapolated that it would need to go higher. Given the rates already set, the only ones who would save money are the people that it’s going to do the least good for: the rich.

The rich cannot be the only folks on whose behalf we ask for fairness. Life is very fair to these people. They earn more, they can spend more on luxuries and consumer items, they have, if they live within their means, all the resources they would ever need to ensure their prosperity. Things are so fair for them that really, taking care of them better is unfair to the rest of us.

They, by definition, are not the people who need the help. That is not class warfare. It’s common sense. Boy Scouts don’t get merit badges for helping athletic joggers across the street. Jesus didn’t tell people to visit those who are free, or heal the well, or cleanse those with great skin. He didn’t say he was coming to bring salvation to the righteous.

Say what you want, but the question of fairness is mockery of itself when those asking for it most are those who are most well off. In the old days, there was a sense that if you were rich and fortunate that you were obliged to help others, and be a positive force in others lives. Now? Well, now it’s everybody for themselves.

That’s what most of these policies are about. There’s nothing wrong with being rich. But there is something wrong in becoming an worshipper of your material possessions, your own cashflow. That’s the perverse thinking behind a lot of these tax cuts. It’s become about control, about who decides how MY money is spent, instead of being about responsibility, about social justice, about a working system. Is it any wonder we’re in shit shape economically, when some of us are still worrying about getting tax cuts when our budgets are in massive deficit?

Your system isn’t a responsible choice. Until we cut down spending seriously, it cannot work, not at the levels you’ve set it. Worse, if it is made to work, more of the tax burden settles on the poor and middle class, those not covered entirely by your exemption. I don’t celebrate the fact that we have to pay this much taxes, but I don’t see it as a positive to love our paychecks so much that we destroy our economy to keep more of it. If you want to do something really positive, Attack spending, get that down, then start talking about changing the tax system. The priority is solvency. The priority is responsibility. The priority is not throwing the long term for the short term.

I’m not a marxist, you see, I’m just somebody who finds the heedless concentration on keeping money a failing of personal grace. This system works best when we use our freedom, our market economy, to get things done right. It does worse when we simply use that freedom to recklessly indulge our appetites.

I think we will do much more economic good for this country if we work with the system we have now to eliminate unnecessary spending and increase revenues to the point where we can start paying the debt, instead of contributing more to it. Then, having shored ourselves up there, the American people can choose whatever reforms and changes they want with some economic strength to spare. It is irresponsible to make radical changes to our fiscal system while it’s in this kind of distress.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 23, 2005 12:13 PM
Comment #87502

Stepen: No d.a.n, you’re wrong.
d.a.n: No Stephen, I’m not wrong. You are.
Stepen: No, you are.
d.a.n: No, you are.
Stepen: No I’m not. You are.
d.a.n: No way. I’m right. You’re wrong.
Stepen: Nope. I’m right. You’re wrong.
d.a.n: No I’m not.
Stepen: Yes you are.
d.a.n: Nope.
Stepen: Yep.
d.a.n: Nope.
Stepen: Yep.
d.a.n: Yep.
Stepen: Nope.
d.a.n: OK. I win. : )
________________________________
Thanks for the link. It supports my argument even more.

What you’re dwelling on about the tax brackets is merely the difference between the Marginal Tax Rate and the Average Tax Rate. The marginal tax rate is not evident to the tax payer. It is embedded (transparent) to the tax payer. They simply deal with a final percentage rate, and they see it increases as they earn more income.

Yes, Thanks for the link. I wish I’d found that sooner. It helps my argument far more than yours. For example:


… the average rate will rise as income rises; high marginal rates for those on low incomes can lead to a poverty trap within a progressive system, even if they face negative average rates.

That’s exactly what I proved in the examples above.

Read all the Pros and Cons. There appears to be far more Cons than Pros in the graduated (Progressive) tax system.

Sure, I don’t argue that the 2004 tax tables have the bracketing transparently built within the tax code, but the tax payer only looks up one percentage value (the values I listed for 2004) and multiplies that with their gross adjusted income. And, still, that has nothing to help support your argument that a graduated tax scale is more fair.

Still, the point is that your Progressive tax system is graduated. Mine isn’t (not unless you include gross income before the low-income-level-exemption, in which case, it is slightly progressive). But that’s simply by virtue of not taxing the poor, and income below N=1.5 times the poverty level is not taxed (not for anyone).

My tax system raised almost $1.7 million in tax revenues on about $10 million in income (exactly in line with a 17% tax that’s the same for everyone’s income that exceeds the lower-income-level-exemption). I don’t know exactly what you’re trying to get me to admit to?

Your system raised over $3 million in tax revenues. Of course it’s more, because your rates are much higher in the actual system that you support (i.e. the actual rates from 2004 IRS tax tables). By the way, do you think the top rate should be higher than 35% ?

And, you’re still ignoring the fact that within your system (the current tax system), you won’t really raise $3 million in tax revenue, due to tax shelters, deductions, loop-holes, and subsidies. But, if you got rid of those deductions, the rich would get hammered extremely hard, and so would the middle class.

My system would eliminate all of the tax shelters, deductions, loop-holes, and subsidies, that are all mostly designed to help the wealthy that can take advantage of them. It
would also save billions per year currently wasted trying to calculate and evade taxation.

You also refuse to acknowledge that a flat 17% tax rate is already progressive (in a sense) because 17% tax of $100K is twice as much 17% tax of $50K. That’s fair enough for me. Not for you. You want even more, which is why you support a Progressive tax system.

What this simply all boils down to is this:
(1) You want to tax everyone more than I do. You like the Progressive Tax. I do not. I don’t like the Regressive Tax either. I support a Flat (linear) Tax on all income above a low-income-level-exemption. You don’t .
(2) I believe 17% is enough, you don’t.
Please prove that 17% of all income is insufficient. If it is insufficient, then government needs to cut spending. It’s that simple. People have got to accept some cuts too. Inevitably, some cuts in Social Security and Medicare will be necessary, because it’s simply untenable now.
(3) You support graduated tax scales. I don’t.
(4) You say the wealthy have more idle money, unspent. I don’t care (it’s their money).
(5) You believe those that don’t like your graduated tax scale are greedy. I don’t.
(6) You call other plans too simplistic.

So, we have an unreconcilable difference of opinion and philosophy. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree. You believe what you want, and I’ll do the same.

By the way, you need to re-read the link you provided , because it states many more arguments against, than for support of a Progressive tax system. It also lists many dangers of a progressive tax system. And I agree with those many arguments against the Progressive Tax systems. I don’t see one single argument that I agree with (for support of a Progressive Tax system). The link you provide even says right at the start that: Many of the arguments for progressive taxation are related to welfare economics. Here’s many of the arguments against the Progressive Tax that you support:
(1) Progressive taxes lower savings rates
(2) Progressive taxes create a work disincentive
(3) Progressive taxes increase Income disparity
(4) Brain drain and tax avoidance
(5) Progressive tax fosters the belief that the wealthy should have a greater say in elections and government.
(6) Progressive taxes fuel class warfare; thus, Gregory Mankiw rightly points out that: If policy makers’ primary goal is … economic prosperity for all, they should avoid focusing on the politics of envy
(7) Progressive tax perpetuates the myth that we can all live at the expense of everyone else;
(8) Progressive tax suffers from bracket creep, which occurs when the amounts are not tied to the cost of living, due to inflation tax rates would thus slowly rise;

I wasn’t going to respond again, but decided to do so when you so kindly provided me with a plethora of more evidence to support my arguments. Thanks !

Posted by: d.a.n at October 23, 2005 4:17 PM
Comment #87511

d.a.n.-
This isn’t merely opinion and philosophy. This is how you calculated your progressive tax in your comparison:

B’s tax is $11,438=0.25 x ($50K-$4250); that’s (22.9% of $50K gross) VERSUS: $5,440 ; 10.9% (for flat tax; see above)

I quoted a passage that say that my calculation, which divided the money into the brackets it falls into, taxed each bracket of income at a different rate, then added the results together, is the proper way to figure the tax. You haven’t acknowledge that, which is disappointing. The 2004 tables merely lay out what the brackets are. Nowhere do I see any evidence that your method of figuring them is the right one.

That yours failed to generate as much money is not a minor issue, as you people are saying that this will be a revenue neutral tax. You’re laying our nation’s fiscal future, on factors you don’t have control over. That’s not the way a tax should work.

I admit that my modelling of the system is not complete. That’s alright. I think we both agree that some of the tangle of complicating law should be pealed back.

So selectively read my sources, ignore what the material has to say on my point, and claim victory, because that’s all the satisfaction you’re going to get. At basis, the system I support is more flexible, capable of taking in the money that needs to brought in without burdening the middle class, and despite all the crap that’s been piled on top of it, is a good system underneath. You’re far too focused on keeping money and doing favors for those who need none to understand the underlying virtue of the system.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 23, 2005 5:57 PM
Comment #87518

Stephen,
Several (numerous actually) of your own statements (listed above) reveal your philosophy.

(1) You want to tax everyone more (even the poor). But, especially the rich.
(2) You’re not satisfied that 17% of $100K is twice that of 17% of $50K. You want more. That’s what is most revealing.
(3) And you don’t want them to have too much saved (idle) money (as if you have a right to control others’ savings).
(4) You don’t like it (by your very own words) that someone has more than they need to live on.
(5) You think anyone who doesn’t agree with your progressive tax system is greedy. Everything you said reveals a common theme to your philosophy.

Go ahead, and try to defend those five things. It’s all too clear where you’re comin’ from. I like a lot of your writing, and agree with much of it, but I’ll never agree with a Progressive Tax system.

It’s pointless to keep discussing your tax brackets. The brackets are embedded. So what? It’s still progressive. You keep returning to the brackets, and dancing around all of the other issues. It doesn’t matter what the brackets and calculations for each bracket are for your progressive system, because the end result is that your system is still a progressive tax system. Forget all that. That’s not the issue. The issue is a Progressive Tax system versus my Flat Income Tax Rate - with Low-Income-Level-Exemption.

Your preference is a Progressive tax. In fact, you’re vehemently defending a Progressive tax system. That’s fine. You should be happy, since that’s the stupid tax system we have now (which most people dislike). I don’t agree with the Progressive Tax system, nor your philosophy that others people’s money is to be controlled by government, and it is up to government to decide how much money they should have.

Also, what about the (8) negative aspects I raised above about Progressive Tax scales ?
One more thing…prove that the 17% Flat Income Tax does not raise sufficient revenues, if all loop-holes, deductions, and abused tax-shelters are eliminated. I believe it will, based on current tax 2004 revenues of $2 trillion, and GDP of $11 trillion.

Also, you didn’t answer the question:
Do you think the upper tax levels should be even higher than 35% ?

Sorry Stephen, but your arguments for a Progressive Tax are few and weak, and your many statements (above) reveal your envy and jealousy disguised as demands for equality, that fuels your secret desire to punish the wealthy. Go ahead…admit it.

Better yet, why don’t you start a new thread, where more people will read it, and contribute, and lets find out what the majority of bloggers think. Let’s find out who thinks which system is the most fair. Because, I don’t see anyone but you (with respect to the Progressive nature of it) saying we’ve got a good tax system now.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 23, 2005 6:45 PM
Comment #87539

d.a.n.
In my twenty six years, I’ve heard few people compose songs to honor taxes. You may think that if the Flat Tax replaces the other tax, people will fall in love. Fact of the matter is, there will always be resentment when it comes to taxes.

Unfortunately, a number people have stoked this resentment to fever pitch for their own political gain, and in the process, have made any rational, mature discussion of taxation a virtual impossibility in the current environment. Now, in the midst of a fiscal crisis, they want to shake up the system and change the basis for the taxation.

We’re running deficits of hundreds of billions, and you want us to take a chance on a system that you can’t even prove makes the same amount of money. In the place of such proof, you present a point not unlike that of the the supply siders, that the economy’s improvement in the face of this tax will make up for lost revenue.

But that doesn’t happen. It didn’t happen with any of the tax cuts. Maybe you get a bump but with something this complex, you’re probably like to get a real sharp shock. My calculation showed that your tax would only approach revenue neutrality as it reached and likely surpassed the rates as described with the Progressive plan. Your tax is fair, as long as it’s one that adds to a deficit. That is the hard reality of your tax. It cannot be fair and a solution to our fiscal crisis all at once.

Take your pick: Which do you dislike more: the deficit, or the taxes it will take to reduce it?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 23, 2005 9:51 PM
Comment #87548

Stephen,
You didn’t prove that the 17% Flat Income Tax does not raise sufficient revenues, if all loop-holes, deductions, and abused tax-shelters are eliminated. I believe it will, based on 2004 tax revenues of $2 trillion, and 2004 GDP of $11 trillion.

GDP ($11 trillion in 2004) is not a measure of total income, but if government, on the average, is taxing 20% of all income, then total income (nation wide) is about $10 trillion. 17% of $10 trillion is $1.7 trillion. That’s enough. Government must cut spending by $300 billion.
It can and should do that, because government is too big and continues to grow to nightmare proportions. Or, maybe you think it’s just right ?

Your solution is to keep giving more and more money to irresponsible and unaccountable government that is addicted to over spending and over borrowing. Or, maybe you think that’s OK ?

My solution is that government must cut spending, cut some of these unnecessary departmetns, offices, commissions, etc.. Or, maybe you think all of that is necessary ?

Perhaps you even think we should raise taxes ?
You never answered my question: Do you think the 35% tax bracket is too low ?
Do you think the current upper tax rates should be higher than 35% ?

Which do you dislike more: the deficit, or the taxes it will take to reduce it?

I dislike unfair taxation more than deficits.
Deficits should never be an excuse for more taxation. Spending cuts need to happen first. The federal government already gets $2 trillion per year (19% of GDP), and that’s already too much. They need to cut spending and waste. Many economists will tell you that government taxation should not exceed 20% of GDP. The percentage should be lower (about 15%).

You allege that I cherry pick facts and believe only what I want? No. Afraid not. Many facts have been presented to you, and (some that you graciously provided), and you have danced around all of them, and refuse to answer any questions about the numerous negatives associated with Progressive Tax systems.

Have you ever considered a career in politics? They’ll love you (fellow politicians, that is).

Posted by: d.a.n at October 23, 2005 10:45 PM
Comment #87584

The trap you fall into time and time again, is this unwillingness on principle to raise taxes. You just won’t work with the policy you have to solve the problem in front of you.

You’re like Bush, and all these other Republicans who want to solve the problem they’re obsessed with, but who overlook everything else in its pursuit. I am sick to death of having to deal with elected officials who have their own, rather nice, cloistered solution for everybody’s problem, which naturally self destructs on contact with reality.

However highly you think of this notion of yours, like anybody else’s including mine, they are the imperfect ponderings of human beings who often know not nearly enough to come up with a first plan that actually works.

I look at all these tables and charts, and agendas, and I see a person who thinks they know everything they need to understand, and who is unable to face the human inability to perceive the world as a whole.

I understand my limits I understand that whatever plan I write for my purposes, life is going to come in and do a re-write.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2005 12:41 AM
Comment #87588
You’re like Bush

Now you’re getting insulting.
Remember, critique the message, not the messenger.

You usually don’t do that.

Is it because you’re losing the debate?

Posted by: d.a.n at October 24, 2005 1:06 AM
Comment #87593

Dan and Stephen, the real life issue is that the American people are demanding a fairer tax system. Hence, change is coming.

Stephen is right, political plans for changing direction, usually require heavy modification after they meet reality. But, Dan is also quite correct, the flat tax is going to be the one perceived to be fairest to most Americans. The instant one tries to tax some capable of paying taxes, more than others capable of paying taxes, the plan becomes apparently unfair in the eyes of the public as critizized by opponents of tax rate differentiation based on wealth and vocational success.

Simplicity is also a desired commodity demanded by the majority of the public. Simple is better than complicated. A graduated tax rate is not simple and leaves wide the door to manipulation by special interests lobbying and campaign donation bribes, as we see with the push for a sales tax which quickly becomes complicated by issues like lifestyle maintenance, business vs. non-profit, vs. individual, etc.

Some Democrats are going to try to hang on to the progressive tax structure by trying to beat down all other alternatives. But, in the end, it will be as futile as Democrats trying to hang onto welfare handouts without employment being mandated and sought by both the individual and government. The progressive tax system is a dinosaur, and needs to go extinct, at least until all other options have proven worse. For Democrats to fight the flat tax, is in the end in real life, going to support the highly regressive sales tax promotion by Republicans replete with avenues for adjustments and shifts by lobbyists and special interests. If Democrats were smart, they would start backing the only plan that can help them politically, the flat tax plan, with a floor exemption for those with income to small to support themselves. The only tricky part to that plan is establishing criteria for where to set that floor cutoff, but, using the poverty line as a starting point would likely be amenable to most in the end.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 24, 2005 1:52 AM
Comment #87658

David R. Remer-
The Progressive tax system is the most fair, and the most flexible. The exploitable nature of it is no different than any other law. If people can write up amendments, write-offs, tax credits, and exemptions for a progressives system, they can do it for a flat system, especially in the inevitable adjustment phase.

It would soon become flat in name only, because the fact of the matter is, it would weigh on some more than others, and nobody would tolerate a big deficit for long, if this wasn’t (and I think it isn’t) revenue neutral at the promised rate.

Let me be blunt. I think much of the public antipathy to taxes is drummed up by the politicians. I don’t think most people really pay that much attention to what gets withheld from their check. That’s why Bush’s tax plan gives out tax rebates- otherwise it would be virtually invisible to people long used to having things taken out of their check.

The alternatives to the progressive tax are either inflexible, or potential causes of economic and bureaucratic friction.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2005 1:42 PM
Comment #87684

d.a.n-
I’m not saying you’re like Bush to insult you, but to compare you to another person who wants reality to fit an ideal no matter how much of a square peg it is to the round hole.

I think this debate would have been easier if everyone were clearer on what each system entailed from the start. Regardless, though, we both came to the table with strong beliefs.

I take the current system, because it’s done its job for many decades now. It doesn’t give a lot of nasty surprises. The taxes are low, in fact lower than it’s often ignorant opponents are willing to admit.

How many people know that the progressive tax operates the way it does, and what that means for the amount of tax delivered? The progressive tax is one that costs less than it’s supposed to, intuitively speaking. I demonstrated that by comparison of the differences between your calculations and mine. I worked out the error in one case to be up around 39%. That’s more than significant in terms of discrepancy, that’s major.

True, it did not measure up to your flat tax at 17% in terms of its savings, which you term progressive (using the foward marching social sense of the word, rather than it’s technical tax meaning). But that savings comes at the cost of revenue neutrality.

Given the same conditions, your 17% tax revenues fell short by almost half from the total revenues gathered. Again, not just significant, but major. I raised your tax to 23%, and refigured it, and found that revenues had risen substantially towards the ones the progressive system had yielded.

But again, they fell short, though this time, only by a third. But I want you to notice something. Let’s take B’s taxes to demonstrate the point:

Progressive: B)8174.60
Flat@23%(@17%): B 7360.00 (5440)

B’s income situation is significant, because he’s Middle Class, the exact sort of folks we need to keep from overburdening.

But even with the $1920 rise, you’re only getting to 2/3rds of way there.

Let’s try 26%: $8320

Damn. A 3% rise in taxes takes your tax from fair to unfair. Figure it out for yourself. At 50,000, every percentage rise tacks on an additional 320 dollars worth of tax. One percent on the top rate for B’s bracket would result in this: B pays an additional 166.99.

We can say that the rate of increase for B’s taxes is inherently limited by the progressive system. The reason the increase is so small in comparison at that rate, is that the rate hike, applied to one bracket alone, only affects that bracket’s worth of income. This is an intentional feature of the progressive tax: You have to increase the other brackets to get an overall increase. Additionally, increases can be done over the income level of these people and totally bypass those below that.

Your flat tax can only totally bypass somebody in an all or nothing fashion. There’s no adjustment, no fine tuning, no grey area. Moreover, it can only go across the board, and when it does, it takes the whole income into account. Small changes, therefore, have large effects.

The progressive tax is fine-tuneable, and can create great changes in revenue without hitting most people with the cost. This is essential for a consumer-driven economy where most customers are middle-class, and underpaid by their employers as it is.

I know you think it’s fair because it’s a mathematical constant, but I measure fairness by context, by the necessity a system places on folks when a time of need comes upon us. A progressive tax can ensure a time of need does not crush those less fortunate, and can shift the burden in a way that ultimately benefits all.

That is fairness: distributing the burden equitably, even if it doesn’t do it equally. Not forcing hard times on those who already do their best to make ends meet, so that those who are luckier in their position don’t have to pay as much. Fairness is a results oriented business. The results of change in your system are not fair.


Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2005 3:43 PM
Comment #87694

Stephen Daugherty,
No, the Progressive tax system is not fair.
It’s very foundation of taxing people at different percentage rates is unfair.
Why, why, why is it not sufficient for you that 17% of $100K is twice the tax paid than 17% of $50K.
Isn’t that progressive enough for you ?
No, obviously not. And still you never answered many of the questions?
Do you want a higher upper tax rate 35% ?
What’s the purpose of all those brackets ?
You know, if you’re going to have a progressive tax scale, it should use a polynomial formula instead of brackets, because brackets create stair-step jumps, a 5th degree polynomial would create a tax table that smoothly transitions across all income levels.

We’re not getting anywhere.
You say your progressive tax is fair, and I don’t, and I don’t see anyone running to your defense to defend a progressive tax scale, and that link to the wikipedia listed less PROs than CONs for the progressive tax system.

I’m still waiting to hear some PROs for the progressive tax system, aside from merely “it’s fair”, it raises more tax revenue. And if you re-read the wikipedia article, the PROs even sound more like CONs.

And to blame politicians for people’s objection to a progressive tax is non-sequitur. Politicians imposed that system. Voters didn’t, and most voters don’t like it.

And, there are many better alternatives to the progressive tax system. Also, deficits and over-spending don’t justify a progressive tax system. Just because government says it needs more money, doesn’t mean it really does. Overall tax on the nation should have limits, and many economists say taxation should not exceed 15% of GDP. We already have 19% of GDP ($2.2T / $11.6T).

Besides, as irresponsible and unaccountable as government is today, giving them more money is like giving cocaine to a cocaine addict. They’ll just use it up, and keep right on being irresponsible and unaccountable.

You say onlycis flexible. Not at all. A Flat Income Tax Rate plan can adjuste the percentage that everyone pays (excluding the poor). What more is needed that that ? It’s simple and fair.

You say other tax systems are potential causes of economic and bureaucratic friction ?
The Progressive tax system is an even bigger cause of economic and bureaucratic friction. It’s plagued with the fact that it punishes people for working harder to earn more, and it’s a disincentive to work. It’s plagued with a lot of problems. But, it’s also a great litmus test too (i.e. those that support it and those that don’t). Those that support a progressive tax can be expected to say things like:
________________________________
[1]What I find objectionable is that we grasp so greedily onto every last cent, as if keeping every cent we can will necessarily mean security or economic stability.
_____________
[2]… it is easier to stave off the jealousy and envy if the rich don’t hoarde their riches jealously, like the Drakes and Serpents of legend.
_____________
[3]The fact is, the rich save more, and therefore leave more money idle, unspent.
_____________
[4]As your income rises, the percentage of that income you need to survive goes down.
_____________
[5] The rich don’t need all that money. They have enough, and it shouldn’t sit idle, unspent.
_____________
[6] It’s not fair that anyone should receive (i.e. inherit) money they didn’t work for, and the government should take it away from them.
_____________
[7] The most fair tax is a progressive tax that taxes the higher income earners more (such as our current tax system that ranges from 0 to 35%)
_____________
[8] The wealthy have a duty to contribute more to taxes for the nation.
________________________________

Stephen, does any of that sound familiar ?
[1] through [4] are you very own words. And you’ve said things similar in the past similar to [5] through [8]

Stephen, I know nothing I’ve said will shake your faith in your philosophy, but I think you are truly a minority. The only reason we currently have a progressive tax system is because of politicians. The people don’t like it. Even many that can admit their envy and jealousy of those with vast wealth, do not abide by a progressive tax system, or similar wealth redistribution. I certainly don’t. I’m very content that 17% tax of $100K is twice as much as 17% tax on $50K . That’s fair.

Here’s an example of what your progressive tax system sounds like.

Al, Bob, Carl, and Dave go to lunch each day.
Al is rich, Bob and Carl are middle income, and Dave is poor.
Al earns $800K
Bob and Carl earn $95K each.
Dave earns $10K.
So, they always split the bill so that
Al pays 35%.
Bob and Carl each pay 28%
and Dave pays 9%
For a while, everyone is happy.
Then, one day, Al doesn’t come with them to lunch (he moved to Austrailia).
They get the bill, and suddenly,
Bob and Carl have to pay more.
Dave still can afford to pay more than before, which is now actually an even smaller percentage than the previous 9%.
So, Bob and Carl are now each paying 48%, and Dave pays 4%.
Well, pretty soon Bob and Carl get tired of footing the bill for Dave. So the both stop going to lunch. Dave can’t afford to eat out by himself, so he takes a sack lunch to work.

Now, everyone is paying for their own lunch, but no one is going hungry.

So, one day, Al returned, they all went to lunch, and Bob and Carl said, how about we all go dutch (i.e. each pay their own bill). They all agreed. Dave, being poorer ordered a sandwich, instead of the usual filet mignon.
The bill came, everyone paid their own bill, and everyone was happy again. Even Dave.

The point is, the progressive nature of their burden was unfair, because going out to lunch was never a necessity, and it created resentments (and rightly so).
__________________________________________

The moral of the story:
We must be fair and responsible and reject the myth that the envious and jealous perpetuate: the “great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else” — by Frederic Bastiat 1848

http://www.bastiat.org/en/the_law.html#Heading3

Posted by: d.a.n at October 24, 2005 4:30 PM
Comment #87722

YEAR 2001: Support for a flat rate federal income tax is growing. A Fabrizio-McLaughlin poll taken just after last fall’s election [2000] found 63.3 % Americans in favor of a 17% Flat Income Tax and only 19.5% opposed.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 24, 2005 5:59 PM
Comment #87756

dan-
Your arguments are self-contradictory. You assure everybody in your earlier arguments that your exemption makes the tax more fair. But does it, by other logic you use? No, it does not. By your logic, letting the poor pay absolutely no tax is charging them a different rate than everybody else, and forcing their burden on everybody else.

Not only that, but when you figured your taxes, you set out not only the real flat tax rate, but you boasted in each and every example that the effective tax rate was progressive, lining up those rates right along your flat ones.

So, in essence, you cheat on creating a true flat tax, in order to prevent the flat tax’s inherent indifference towards income considerations from permeating the entire system. You essentially create a curve for your tax that undershoots what a true flat tax would ask for, a line that curves infinitely towards the limit produced by the line of the flat tax.

You talk about a tax only being fair if you have it flat, but then you turn around and create an ad hoc progressive system beneath the hood.

I don’t think a fifth degree polynomial would be all that friendly to a taxpayer. For those of you who don’t remember algebra, that’s a polynomial that’s like this:

x^5 + x^4 + x^3 + x^2 + x + c = 0

One problem with such an arrangment, is that unlike a quadratic (or second degree) equation (x^2 + x + c = 0), for which there is an actual equation to figure out the solution, there is no equation to solve any equation at or over a 3rd degree. If you can’t solve the equation, how do you make one that can actually fit your needs? Moreover, how do you expect the tax payer to solve it?

Another problem is that a fifth degree polynomial is by it’s nature nonlinear. As complex as a tax bracket set seems, it’s merely a series of multiplications whose products are added together. There is a linear relationship in each equation. A polynomial, though, is non-linear. It’s a curve that reacts very powerfully to small numbers, and small errors, too.

That explanation should key you in to one of the pluses of a progressive, bracketed system: it’s a nice, neat, stable way of introducing the allowances for different needs at different income levels into the system. Now you condemn me roundly for my advocation of this arrangement, but as I already have pointed out, you did precisely the same thing, when you put into play that exemption. The difference in my system and yours is that the rate jumps five times to your once, and adjusts in five places to your one. It creates an honestly progressive system. The change of rate over income levels is no different than than which you do at the very lowest levels. My shifting of the burden onto higher brackets is no different than your shifting from your lower bracket of 0% to your upper one of 17%

So really, my system merely evolves a few of the ideas in your tax system, and systematizes them for the sake of flexibility.

It’s not a perfect system, but I’m afraid that any systems where human beings involve themselves sooner or later falls from perfection. You say it creates a lot of bureaucratic and economic friction. Well, so does having a big debt that you can’t pay with your current revenues. I advise against radical changes at a time like this for a sensible reason. If your tax system screws now, things get worse, and we can’t afford that kind of worse. It’s better to change over when we have some fiscal fat to burn, not when we’re already hurting.

As for blaming politicians, leaders have mislead their people throughout history, playing on people’s fears and responses to authority. If playing on people’s fears and prejudices isn’t part of the political process, then how did we get calling tax cuts, “tax relief”, the estate tax, “The Death Tax”, and why do politicians constantly talk about people knowing better what to do with tax dollars than government? Why is there all this propaganda out there whose sole purpose is to get people thinking there should be less taxes, even if they will never feel the pinch? I mean, hardly anybody on this site will ever pay that one, should it be restored. It will only serve to tax people who get a lot of free money all at once from dead relatives.

That’s about it. Don’t look for a list of pros and cons; that’s not my style. Just read. You’ll find my arguments in there.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2005 8:15 PM
Comment #87787
Stepen Daugherty wrote: dan- Your arguments are self-contradictory. You assure everybody in your earlier arguments that your exemption makes the tax more fair. But does it, by other logic you use? No, it does not. By your logic, letting the poor pay absolutely no tax is charging them a different rate than everybody else, and forcing their burden on everybody else.
[1] Stephen, it’s sort of impossible to get blood out of a turnip. So, that’s weak and non-sequitur.
Not only that, but when you figured your taxes, you set out not only the real flat tax rate, but you boasted in each and every example that the effective tax rate was progressive, lining up those rates right along your flat ones.
[2]You’re really desparately reaching now, and that’s hardly relavent. It’s only appears slightly progressive only if you use gross income. But, I was honest to show both percentages (on on gross income and one on adjusted income). After the low-income-level-exemption, all income in my Flat Income Tax Plan plan is taxed at exaclty the same 17%. Thus, you’re argument is irrelevant, weak and non-sequitur again.
So, in essence, you cheat on creating a true flat tax, in order to prevent the flat tax’s inherent indifference towards income considerations from permeating the entire system.
[3]I didn’t cheat at anything. I’m really starting to worry about you. If there’s any cheating, dancing around, and obscuring the facts, changing the subject, and cherry picking facts, you are the supreme master.
You essentially create a curve for your tax that undershoots what a true flat tax would ask for, a line that curves infinitely towards the limit produced by the line of the flat tax.
[4] What? A line is straight. But a curve isn’t straight. Just kidding? I know what you’re eluding to. My system is linear (income versus tax paid). The only way you can get a non-linear curve in my system is to draw a graph of income versus percentage of tax. You’re comparing apples to oranges. Come on now, I’m slow, but I’m not stupid. I see what you’re trying to do. It’s deceptive, irrelevant, and again, non-sequitur.
You talk about a tax only being fair if you have it flat, but then you turn around and create an ad hoc progressive system beneath the hood.
[5]There you go again. You’re not foolin’ anyone, but like I said, I’m seriously beginning to worry about you. I already addressed the difference of Marginal and Average tax rates, and the inherent difference of income versus tax paid, and gross income versus tax paid. You continue to dwell on this for some reason that I can’t yet fathom, as if there’s some conspiracy to dazzle and confuse people with basic arithmetic. Come on, get a grip, and stop drawing these wierd conclusions.
I don’t think a fifth degree polynomial would be all that friendly to a taxpayer. For those of you who don’t remember algebra, that’s a polynomial that’s like this:

x^5 + x^4 + x^3 + x^2 + x + c = 0


[6]Stephen, are you for real, or are you just pulling my leg? Of course tax payers don’t calculate a polynomial. They look it up in the tax table (like they already do). What’s that now? 6 of me, zero for you.
BTW, it’s actually Y=A*X^1 + B*X^2 + C*X^3 + D*X^4 + E*X^5 . The trick is to solve for A, B, C, D, and E so that the polynomial can fit the line or curve.
One problem with such an arrangment, is that unlike a quadratic (or second degree) equation (x^2 + x + c = 0), for which there is an actual equation to figure out the solution, there is no equation to solve any equation at or over a 3rd degree.
[7]Ha! Now I know you don’t know what you’re talking about! You try to bluff your way through a lot of the time, but you get caught once in a while, such as now.

You can solve for any number of unknowns. Go review your math. Go look up Gaussian Elimination. Ever heard of matrix algebra? The formula grows larger as the degree increases, but there is a formula. I’ve got a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I couldn’t write the formula to solve a Nth degree polynomial. I often solve 7th degree polynomials. Not only that, I often derive the formula (curve-fit) from data.

If you can’t solve the equation, how do you make one that can actually fit your needs?
[8]As I said above Stephen, I can easily derive an Nth degree polynomial formula to fit any data. That’s called curve-fitting. It uses formulas to solve for the parameters of the equation. I’ve written several programs to do it much faster, and can create a forumula of degree 130 .
Moreover, how do you expect the tax payer to solve it?
[9]The don’t and you know it. They use the tax table or tax software.
Another problem is that a fifth degree polynomial is by it’s nature nonlinear.
[10]Really? Are you sure? A fifth degree polynomial is non-linear? Well, guess what? You’re wrong again. I can give you a 5th degree or 50th degree polynomial that is linear over any specified range. Even a 2nd degree polynomial can be virtually (with very small deviation) linear over a certain range. What is that now? 10 to zero ?
As complex as a tax bracket set seems, it’s merely a series of multiplications whose products are added together.

[11]OK, I understand perfectly. It’s not that complicated. So, the point is ?

There is a linear relationship in each equation. A polynomial, though, is non-linear. It’s a curve that reacts very powerfully to small numbers, and small errors, too.
[12]Nope, that’s no true. This was explained above. You fail to realize that a polynomial can form a straight line. So can a Fourier Series.
That explanation should key you in to one of the pluses of a progressive, bracketed system: it’s a nice, neat, stable way of introducing the allowances for different needs at different income levels into the system.
[13]It should? With all the errors? How amusing. What’s that now? 13 to zero ?
Now you condemn me roundly for my advocation of this arrangement, but as I already have pointed out, you did precisely the same thing, when you put into play that exemption.
[14]Put into play an exemption? Stephen, right from the beginning, I posted my web-page that explains every detail of my simple plan. You weren’t tricked. You just weren’t paying attention. It’s not a clever conspiracy. Too many of your facts are just simply wrong time and time again.
The difference in my system and yours is that the rate jumps five times to your once, and adjusts in five places to your one. It creates an honestly progressive system.
[15]We’ve already been through this Stephen. Are you for real? You’re wearin’ me out. Like I said before, the progressive appearance is only visible with percentages of tax paid versus gross income. And the tax paid versus income above the exemption is always 17% (always). So, its a bonified Flat Income Tax Rate of 17% on all income above the exemption. Are you saying it isn’t ? Your saying that is progressive? What’s that now up to? 15 to zero ?
The change of rate over income levels is no different than than which you do at the very lowest levels. My shifting of the burden onto higher brackets is no different than your shifting from your lower bracket of 0% to your upper one of 17%
[16]Wrong again Stephen. A Flat Income Tax Rate is not the same as a progressive tax rate, in which the income tax percentage increaes as income increase.
So really, my system merely evolves a few of the ideas in your tax system, and systematizes them for the sake of flexibility.
[17]You’re funny. I’d be really worried about you if I didn’t know you were kidding. So, now you’re saying my system is flexible? No Stephen, a Flat Income Tax Rate plan is not the same as a Progressive Tax system. What’s that up to now? 17 to zero ?
It’s not a perfect system, but I’m afraid that any systems where human beings involve themselves sooner or later falls from perfection.
Finally, you’ve said something that I agree with. I’ll give you back one point.
You say it creates a lot of bureaucratic and economic friction.
[18]What ?!?! Look above (search from the top on “bureaucratic”) and see who said that first. It was you ! But, since you brought it up, yes your Progressive tax system, which is growing increasingly unpopular (based on polls), generates envy and jealousy, and people naturally don’t like it because it taxes people at a higher percentage when they earn more. I wish I could remember how many times someone said, “I got a raise, but it put me in a higher tax bracket”, so I really only made a few extra bucks. It’s a disincentive to work. But, you know all that and you like it too, don’t you ? Also, your current system wastes billions in simply trying to calculate, because it’s so ridiculously complicated. So, what are we up to now? 17 to zero ?
Well, so does having a big debt that you can’t pay with your current revenues.
The fact is, with our irresponsible and unaccountable government, you can never have enough revenue. What they can borrow, tax, or plunder from Social Security, they print. They’re like cocaine addicts. Giving them more money will only result in more spending, debt, taxation, printing more money, and more fiscal & moral irresponsibility and unaccountability.
I advise against radical changes at a time like this for a sensible reason.
[19]What reason? They’ve all been shot out of the water so far. That’s 19 to zero.
If your tax system screws now, things get worse, and we can’t afford that kind of worse.
We can always afford to improve. You don’t like change. I sense that in you.
It’s better to change over when we have some fiscal fat to burn, not when we’re already hurting.
We’re already hurting, and the longer we wait, the worse it will get.
As for blaming politicians, leaders have mislead their people throughout history, playing on people’s fears and responses to authority.
[20]But, what you tried to blame politicians for was generating antipathy toward the progressive tax system. Hell, they put it in place. Not the voters (not directly, only passively by not fighting it). So, you’re obscuring and clouding the substance of that statement.
If playing on people’s fears and prejudices isn’t part of the political process, then how did we get calling tax cuts, “tax relief”, the estate tax, “The Death Tax”, and why do politicians constantly talk about people knowing better what to do with tax dollars than government?
Simple. That’s what politicians do.
Why is there all this propaganda out there whose sole purpose is to get people thinking there should be less taxes, even if they will never feel the pinch?
[21]Man, you should listen to yourself? Yes, of course…it’s a vast right wing conspiracy. Your last statement belongs with the rest of these other things you said: ________________________________

[SD1]What I find objectionable is that we grasp so greedily onto every last cent, as if keeping every cent we can will necessarily mean security or economic stability.

_____________
[SD2]… it is easier to stave off the jealousy and envy if the rich don’t hoarde their riches jealously, like the Drakes and Serpents of legend.

_____________
[SD3]The fact is, the rich save more, and therefore leave more money idle, unspent.

_____________
[SD4]As your income rises, the percentage of that income you need to survive goes down.

_____________
[SD5] Why is there all this propaganda out there whose sole purpose is to get people thinking there should be less taxes?
_____________



I mean, hardly anybody on this site will ever pay that one, should it be restored. It will only serve to tax people who get a lot of free money all at once from dead relatives.

Wow, it just keeps getting worse and worse. That statement too, belongs with the other things you said above. Are you just saying all this to see how incredulous people will be ?

That’s about it. Don’t look for a list of pros and cons; that’s not my style.
No, I’m sure it isn’t…you don’t want to provide any more ammunition to your opponents than you’ve already provided.
Just read. You’ll find my arguments in there.
Yes, and it is very revealing, indeed !

Whew !…that was grueling.

FINAL SCORE:
___________________________________________
d.a.n (Daniel S. Summars): 21
___________________________________________
Stephen Daugerty: ZERO
___________________________________________

Posted by: d.a.n at October 24, 2005 11:10 PM
Comment #87805

Dan-
I’m just plainly stating a logical flaw in your argument against me: that you say a 17% tax is fair for all, and yet you exclude an entire range of income from that tax, and even boast of that fact in your calculations.

Additionally, you haven’t responded to one very important objection of mine: Revenue neutrality. What guarantee do I have from you that this tax of yours will successfully pick up the pass from the old system?

That’s important to me. Without that proper handoff, everything else is academic, and your solution to our financial ills becomes one itself. The economy is a cyborg of a system, part electronics, part machinery, and part man, and underestimating the influence of any of those in this day and age is foolhardy.

You can puff your chest out on your mathematical skill, but it doesn’t seem like you know people well. If your system isn’t revenue neutral as it is, people are going to rework it until it is. I point out the way in which the tax totals in your system work to indicate that the raise of rates will happen fast and will not even be sufficient to handle the change in revenue.

Question is, can your system work in the real world without becoming worse than the ones it’s replacing. The answer is no. Why? Because it cannot be revenue neutral and cheaper on middle class taxpayers all that much.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2005 1:22 AM
Comment #87824

Stephen,
That’s weak. You’re losing the debate, and really reaching at every tiny, irrelavent tidbit you can possibly think of, and even bluff you way through part of the time. Admit it.

But, truly, one thing you should think hard about (revealed by many of your own statements), is the deap seated envy and jealousy of the wealthy.

And, still, you refuse to admit dozens of your points were flatly disproven above.

And, yes, I think a Flat Income Tax Rate can work. Why? because what we have now is actually almost flat, once you account for the tax loop holes. The downside is the incredible complexity and cost. So there!

FINAL SCORE:
___________________________________________
d.a.n (Daniel S. Summars): 22
___________________________________________
Stephen Daugerty: ZERO
___________________________________________

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 8:15 AM
Comment #87827

Stephen,
That’s weak. You’re losing the debate, and really reaching at every tiny, irrelavent tidbit you can possibly think of, and even bluff you way through part of the time. Admit it.

But, truly, one thing you should think hard about (revealed by many of your own statements), is the deap seated envy and jealousy of the wealthy.

And, still, you refuse to admit dozens of your points were flatly disproven above.

And, yes, I think a Flat Income Tax Rate can work. Why? because what we have now is actually almost flat, once you account for the tax loop holes. The downside is the incredible complexity and cost. So there!

FINAL SCORE:
_____________________________
d.a.n (Daniel S. Summars): 22
_____________________________
Stephen Daugerty: ZERO
_____________________________

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 8:50 AM
Comment #87828

: ) Nice try though!

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 8:51 AM
Comment #87835

One more thing. I don’t focus merely on revenue, but focus much more (first) on what is just and fair (above all else).

But $2.2 trillion (current spending) is too much spending. That’s 19% of GDP.

A 17% Flat Income Tax Rate (with low-poverty-level-income exemption) should be sufficient and should raise about $1.7 trillion in revenues.

17% is more than enough, and government needs to cut spending to account for the $500 billion difference.

Government is B L O A T E D, irresponsible and unaccountable.
Government needs to cut waste, pork, graft, and spending, too !

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 9:33 AM
Comment #87836

One more thing. I don’t focus merely on revenue, but focus much more (first) on what is just and fair (above all else).

But $2.2 trillion (current spending) is too much spending. That’s 19% of GDP.

A 17% Flat Income Tax Rate (with low-poverty-level-income exemption) should be sufficient and should raise about $1.7 trillion in revenues.

17% is more than enough, and government needs to cut spending to account for the $500 billion difference.

Government is B L O A T E D, irresponsible and unaccountable.
Government needs to cut waste, pork, graft, and spending, too !

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 9:35 AM
Comment #87837

Sorry about the double post. There was a SERVER ERROR on the first one that said to try again later. So I did. Now there’s two.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 9:36 AM
Comment #87895

Dan-
What’s revealing is that you’re scoring yourself. Your arguments alone should be able to determine the score.

Your exemption is still a bracket in disguise, your flat tax, is not flat, not fair to middle income earners(by your definition or mine), and is only technically progressive, and not because the same rate brings more money when a greater amount of money is taxed.

My math skills may not be as great as yours, but I do recall from my algebra classes that no formula exists like the quadratic formula to spare people the difficulties of factoring or using higher mathematics to draw solutions. And yes, I am familiar with matrix algebra, I just don’t think most people would want to mess with that on a tax form. I think if you use a fifth degree polynomial, it will nonlinear by definition (as all curves are), and I have never specified a range for it to begin with, so talk of some parts being linear comes across as a non sequitur, because you’re going at right angles to my logic.

There is a curve to be found and it is in the ratio of the effective tax rate to the flat tax rate, a ratio that would rise from zero to one on the Y-axis as the X-axis proceeds to infinity. By it’s nature, it’s a curved line, as it approaches, but never entirely reaches one.

All in all, I think you’re a smart person who just doesn’t think your smart ideas through sometimes. You should have followed up on my points, and seen if your theory need revision, But you won’t accept any argument that doesn’t serve your own. I’ve abandoned, cast aside, so many arguments, not out of desperation, but out of a wish to argue from a solid foundation what I believe, and to believe the right things.

I’m enough of a student of history to know one thing: Belief in the inevitable is the best way to push a good idea too far, or necessary solutions not far enough. When you talk of not approving tax hikes on account of mistrusting what the government will do with spending, you lock yourself into an approach that has no breathing room If a great deal of our spending is necessary spending, (The war, disasters, other things), then it cannot be so simply cut. While it is true that crushing political pressure needs to be put on cutting spending and curtailing congresses newest bright ideas, we need to step up, and stop waiting for ideal circumstances to start paying for all this government we’re getting. Whether we want it all or not, we’re paying for it, and the more we pay for it now, the less we pay for it later. That was my original premise, and it remains my central belief.

Too much about our politics has become centered around ideology and agenda, and these are things people can imagine cheaply and easily, but which aren’t so cheap, easy and dependable when they get outside people’s heads. That’s why I’m loath to reinvent the wheel on taxation, especially when you can’t demonstrate that we’ll break even with it, that it won’t put a greater burden on the middle class, or that it will even remain as simple as you claim it will.

I don’t think you have clear in your mind what your goal situation is. In short, I don’t think you’ve worked out how this tax of yours and its effects are supposed to integrate with the real world, and what the consequences of that will be. You can’t predict everything, but the least you can do is work out how to get from our system to yours without dropping the ball.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2005 2:54 PM
Comment #87959

Stephen,
I’m scoring both of us. You’re losing the debate, and you’re just sore about it.
I systematically and thoroughly disected each of your paragraphs, and proved them wrong. Especially your misconceptions about curve-fitting, polynomials, marginal versus average rates, and your envy and jealousy of the wealthy (evidence by the numbered statements above…your very own words).

But, still you continue (not just once) say tax payers don’t want a polynomial. I keep saying they don’t need it with my system or any system. My system is linear. So, that’s another non-sequitur. And, with the current U.S. tax system, everyone uses the tax tables. So, that’s just another red-herring.

Really, Stephen, if you can prove where I’m wrong about something, then do it conclusively, prove it and I’ll admit it. But don’t expect such weak arguments and bluffs like you did above to work. Not everyone is dumb as you think.

You’re wearin’ me out with the same weak arguments, non-sequiturs, and premature judgements.

Stephen, I think you’re pretty smart too, but you try to bluff sometimes, and you got caught this time.

You also use the classic tactics to shift focus, cloud the issues, change the subject, obscure the facts, to disguise your incorrect facts and conclusions. Then conclude that I’m puffing my chest? Come on now. You can be bigger than that.

You say my plan isn’t well though out? See the link or my web-page that details my Tax plan. What more do you want to know? Prove it can’t work. Don’t just say you don’t think it will. Prove it. Prove it can’t raise enough revenue, but bear in mind, I believe spending cuts are needed to, and government can get by on less if more wisely managed. Give me data and calculations to prove it. What was the total income of the U.S. last year. What was the GDP in 2004? What was the total tax paid? What was the total spent by the federal government? What is the interest on the debt per year ? per day ?
All of these factors were weighed to come up with a 17% tax. It includes all tax for income, S.S., and Medicare. I’ve given you all of that data above. You’ve provided only a bracketed Progressive Tax Plan that seems less well thought out, in my opinion, not to mention unfair in my opinion.

You also refuse to answer many of my questions.
I’m not going to debate with you if you don’t answer my questions.
For example, do you think 35% is high enough?
Do you think it should be higher?
Do you think inheritance should be taxed 70%.
Do you think people should pay more if they earn more?
Do you think the poor should be taxed ?

The problem here really is a fundamental disagreement about what is fair.

Do you think a tax rate that increases as you earn more income is fair? I don’t

You truly mischaracterize my low-income-level-exemption. The purpose of that is that we can’t expect the poor to pay. What the poor don’t pay tax on, no one should pay on. That’s what is most fair to me, and easiest to support. The only person that wouldn’t think that is fair, is a person that prefers a Progressive Tax system.
I despise the Progressive Tax System.

So, how about you restart this topic on a new thread in this column, and we can get more people involved. This topic is too old, and there’s no one else to weigh in on it.
Then we’ll see how many support your Progressive tax plan or my Flat Income Tax Plan.

Or, let’s focus on ONE thing from above and work through each single item, so that it doesn’t become obscured by the many issues. Take your pick. What’s the 1st point you want to make?
Make it now below, and I’ll respond to it, while focusing on that one thing.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 25, 2005 5:33 PM
Comment #87985

Dan-
Yes, I know you’re scoring both of us. I find your scoring to be more tactic than measurement, though, and it doesn’t impress or persuade me of anything.

It helps to understand that I don’t bluff. I believe what I say, and I say what I believe. That means sometimes that I am wrong, and that I have to retract from a position. As I become better informed, you’ll notice I dropped certain arguments. Those I kept I still believe. If I thought people were dumb, I wouldn’t try explaining the progressive tax system to them. Nor would I use big words or discuss big scientific theories. I’m not a believer in the lowest common denominator theory of communication.

You think an awful lot of yourself, and unfortunately you assume too much of my motives and my tactics. Quite simply I was just looking for the weaknesses in your arguments, testing things out. On a hunch, I tested out the total taxes your tax would gather. After a moment insight into the effects of your tax’s exemption, I took that direction. I tested out the effects of percentage hikes and did the math myself, and yielded a result that demonstrated that your system would increase the taxes taken more for every point that was drawn.

I tried working out where your tax started to become more expensive than mine. That didn’t work, so I stopped making that claim. Maybe not with a lot of fanfare, but I was doing well not to bore myself silly point-by-pointing the volume of your work. When I found out that your tax wasn’t revenue neutral (at least in terms of individual taxes paid, I tried to work out what would happen as I nudged it towards that neutrality. As I did so, it became apparent that your tax would over take my tax everywhere it counted in terms of the tax burden and perhaps still be short of revenue neutrality. If a tax, I reasoned, could not cover current costs and still equal or undershoot the progressive system, it could not claim superior fairness.

As for fairness, you’ve been somewhat ambivalent about that in practice, even if in your words you’ve been unequivocal. The fairness I speak of is of course the fairness of how much load you dump on somebody with how much load already on them. I can tell you by personal experience that being middle class is not as profitable of a thing as it once was. We’re spending a lot on bills and on necessities.

There are a lot of people that a good kick could send screaming down into the depths of poverty. You think I’m resentful of some of the rich because I’m envious or jealous. The real reason is that I’ve seen folks fortune’s rise and fall with the decisions of those richer, better off, and I know the consequences of such decisions from personal experience. It’s much harder to argue what a wonderful thing laying people off is when you’ve lived through one of those periods yourself.

At the same time, the sheer amount of debt this country is building up is threatening to give that kick itself. I’m for cutting pork and fat in the budget. But I know at some point, you’re cutting more than that, and cutting spending becomes a spending liability waiting to happen. a few hundred million or billion tax dollars properly applied in the Mississippi Delta area would have saved us the tens of billions it’s going to take to rebuild the region.

Regardless of the venality of some politicians, and the stupidity of some spending items, There are things that need to be done, and we need to either force the politicians to do them, or we need to elect people with the good sense to follow our lead. I don’t care about incumbency. To me, that represents more the frustration with an entrenched power structure than it does frustration with the idea of keeping politicians around for additional terms.

There’s a difference in the thoroughness of a plan, and the thoroughness of the consideration for the items. I tend to examine things as emergent systems. One set of rules and tendencies has an effect on the other. The world leaks out the corners of our thoughts, and I try to find where they flow, and see whether expectations are frustrated or fulfilled.

This is why I find it rather annoying that people will raise the whole “we built new schools” argument, because nothing leaks from that about the situation around it. It’s used as a talking point precisely because it’s such a self contained piece of information. It suggest success, but nothing else. Rightly, people want information that exists as a sign of things on a multiple level. Those who don’t understand this, offer token signs of things, and are puzzled by the lack of acceptance of it.

The progressive system expects nobody to pay, at their income, a tax anybody else isn’t paying. A millionaire pays the same in all the brackets before his top one that anybody in those brackets would pay We don’t suddenly increase those brackets, conditional on their wealth. They keep all that money that the people below them keep. The brackets that are specifically tied to their income at these rates apply to all at that level. It may ask more of them, but when you’re making hundreds of thousands or millions, paying some more in taxes, won’t put you out of house and home, or leave you starving. Fairness is about result more than procedure.

Just on a side note: I never said that I thought the exemption unfair, I merely said that by your logic it might be considered that because it allows one set of people to get away with paying at another rate, instead of being perfectly flat-taxed.

It’s obvious that you don’t think it unfair- my words are meant to leak around the edges of the wall you’ve built up and suggest that maybe there is fairness in a tax not flatly applied across all income groups.

I think considering things in context yields richer knowledge and experience. We’re a part of this world, not set above it, able to plan without getting our hands dirty, or the efforts we think best frustrated, and maybe invalidated.

I think it’s easier to agree on a properly understood situation than it is to agree on an abstract principle, without the benefit of all the weight of understanding that backs it up. Compromise earns bad name from some, but like climbing a mountain, you don’t get to the top with one great big reach. It’s something you’ve got to reach towards gradually and (yes) progressively.

Otherwise, we’re going to continue to wonder why there’s still so much damn mountain over our heads.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2005 8:06 PM
Comment #87986

p.s.-
I’d just as soon go on to new topics. No offense, but even a bullheaded SOB like me needs new ground to graze. Fortunately, the Fitzmas indictments (or lack of same) are coming down the pike.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2005 8:08 PM
Comment #88049

OK, I’ll let you have the last word.
: )

Posted by: d.a.n at October 26, 2005 12:31 AM
Comment #88050

OK, I’ll let you have the last word.
: )

Posted by: d.a.n at October 26, 2005 12:34 AM
Comment #88051

Ooppss. Another SERVER Error. It said to retry. I did, and now there’s two.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 26, 2005 12:35 AM
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