Democrats & Liberals Archives

How's This for a New Tax?

Let’s call it, the ignorance tax. Essentially, these people understand the tax system so poorly that they’re willing to make less money even after taxes, in order to avoid them. But that’s not the worst foolishness. If we were groaning under truly heavy tax rates, one could see how we might get hopeless, but in truth, there is one surefire way of getting past taxes. It’s simple. Make more money.

The Progressive tax system can be imagined as a series of tanks of milk. You (or rather your cash cow) made this much milk this year. That milk is poured into the first tank, which overflows with a spout into the next tank, and it overflows into the next. Each tank has a percentage of milk which will be skimmed off and made into cheese.

The operative question: does the percentage of milk apply to all the milk your cash cow has made?

No.

Each tank, or bracket as we call it is taxed at a certain rate. The goverment ONLY skims that much from THAT tank.

In other words, The wheel of cheese made from the first 40,000 dollars of a person making a million dollars is no bigger than the wheel made from the taxes that the only 40,000 of a lower middle income citizen would pay.

Which leads us to a rather interesting paradox: Those earning over 250,000 dollars a year would see the Obama tax cuts in their lower brackets! It's their top brackets that would change, when the old tax cuts wear off. But what does this mean for the tax cuts that came before?

Well, here's the thing: those were never tax cuts the average earner would ever see. unless and until your income got that high, which was distinctly unlikely for most, the only tax cuts you would see would be those at the bottom of Bush's tax cuts, a pittance by comparison for what the rich got. In other words, the tax cut was deliberately structured in a way that meant most Americans would never see great benefit.

Another interesting feature of the progressive tax is that one always pays less than the top marginal rate in actual taxes. Your highest rate only applies for part of your income. The rest is taxed at a lesser rate, and then lesser still. Flat taxes, by comparison, would have people keep less of their money at an equal top rate.

The progressive tax rate was put together with the notion of putting greater amounts of the tax burden on the rich. Some label this class warfare, but there's a simple reason to do this: the Rich will still spend a lot of if you tax them more. They've got the economic muscle to stand up under the weight, because their needs are mostly taken care of by their wealth. As long as you're not getting confiscatory with the rates, you can take the burden off the lower classes...

Which enables them to spend money which gets paid to the rich investors and leaders of business.

Much is made of the rights of profit. Much is made of philosophical arguments about whether anybody has the right to take from some to give to others. Much is made of what government does with the money.

But are these people researching all this, or are they simply making assumptions based on what others tell them, and what they never learn themselves? Policy gets stupid when it's decided by sloganeering and perpetual campaign criteria, when the rhetoric becomes the gravitational center of what people understand, rather than their own independent inquiry, moderated by a willingness to see the world for what it is, not always be searching for justification for what we believe.

It is in all our interests to create an equitable tax system, one which strikes the right compromise between what the majority has decided it will pay for (not party majority, but public), and the taxes necessary to pay for that. If we want a system where taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, there, too, we must examine things, and not merely go off on emotional tangents.

It's always puzzled me when people say that folks will be discouraged from earning more money by higher taxes. I always thought, and maybe this is just crazy old me here, that the solution to having more money taken in taxes is simply to compete to make enough money so that one replaces what was lost with taxes. Thanks to years of overblown rhetoric, people are forgetting to look at the the bird in hand in their effort to seek the two in the bush. If you want that other bird, keep hold of the one you got and make plans to get your next bird.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 3, 2009 3:01 PM
Comments
Comment #276677

Stephen-

I think from another post you said that you weren’t around for the pre-1986 tax reform days. Or at least you weren’t paying taxes back then.

People will reduce their taxable income not their earned income.


Posted by: George at March 3, 2009 5:15 PM
Comment #276679

What a lovely little fantasy Daugherty spins here for the suckers. He conveniently forgets to weave into this fairy tale the fact that nearly 50% of the milk isn’t being skimmed at all. And, he forgets to mention that some of the milk skimmed from the “so called” wealthy tank goes back into the first tank in the form of tax refunds for those who pay no taxes.

And finally, his biggest falsehood of all, that unless the cash cow produces even more milk, increasing the skimming makes a smaller cheese for all.

Continually increasing the amount of GDP that government takes from the private sector doesn’t enlarge the economy, but rather, merely redirects the fruits and labors of others. With all the new federal government spending it will be taking about 28% of GPD. Add to that state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and the middle class is forking over 50% of their wealth to government. And yet, Daugherty simply says “earn more” so we can pay more.

France tried that system and even reduced its workweek to 35 or so hours. Of course, no Frenchman was paid less for less work. Well, that wasn’t working so well and when Sarkozy (sp) attempted to increase the workweek to 40 hours he was met with outrage. His solution, allow Frenchmen who worked more than the mandated hours to not pay any tax on those extra hours. Well, that met with huge success. Just imagine Daugherty, folks were actually willing to work more if government didn’t skim any off the top for the extra hours.

It seems that Frenchmen, along with me and many others, believe in “work more…keep more”.

Posted by: Jim M at March 3, 2009 5:36 PM
Comment #276680

Stephen, have you ever owned a business or been involved in managing one? You don’t just choose to make more money in most cases. I sure wish it were just that simple! I know what I would pick.

What you’re missing is that making more money involves more risk. Increasing profits if it means expansion means leaving your business’s comfort zone and exposing yourself to greater potential setbacks. You’re never guaranteed that your risks will pay off.

The 250k+ tax is yet another disincentive to risk-taking, one of many that are already weighing us down in this troubled economy, and there’s a hell of a lot of businesses that fall in this range that will be effected.

If your firm has five guys who earn you roughtly fifty thousand each year, will you hire a sixth guy? You might actually earn less, after taxes, for getting bumped into a higher bracket. Considerations like this will happen on many levels all around the country and not just when it comes to hiring, but expanding infrastructure, distribution, etc.

The irony is that this kind of stuff hurts employees and potential more than those who earn the big bucks.

If you’re talking about salaried employees, there will be a very real benefit to remaining under the 250k mark unless your salary is being kicked way up to offset the tax increase. Only a tiny percentage of people will be effected by this consideration, however. Not many salaried folks are in that range anyway.

Posted by: Liam at March 3, 2009 5:44 PM
Comment #276687

George, Liam-
The irony is, they’ll be earning less overall. You only pay the elevated rates on what you earn in that bracket. They’re cheating themselves out of their own money because they’re so scared of paying taxes. People are just getting phobic about this. If they dont’ want that salary, they can offer it to me, I’ll take it! Your income tax on the income below that bracket won’t see a red cent taken off of it when you move to the higher bracket. That’s what I’ve been trying to say. The increase only occurs in the new bracket’s income range.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 3, 2009 6:34 PM
Comment #276691

stephen

enjoy your short lived majority. come 2010 if the dems continue down this tax and spend road it’s gonna be 1994 all over again. the tax cuts are a farce, when you figure in the carbon tax that will increase the cost of energy to EVERYONE that piddly 13 bucks a week, or whatever it is, is a joke. not to mention the tax increase comming in 2010 when all the brackets go up to thier old levels. oh and then there’s the gun control thing. thats gonna bite you in the ass too. the smartest thing for the dems to nows is eliminate ALL the earmarks, in the new spending bill. the dems are headed down the same path they took in california, out of control spending. i bet that 42 billion dollar deficit ballons when the actual tax reciepts come in. time to push that place into the ocean.

Posted by: dbs at March 3, 2009 6:56 PM
Comment #276693

Stephen:

Not your best article. The Obama tax hike is a disincentive to work if you are north of $250,000.

Here is another thing that should happen. A weird unintended consequence. Obama’s biggest victories are in urban areas, which is where the highest concentration of affluent taxpayers live.

I expect a migration of higher earners to smaller towns simply because one way of beating the system is to make the same money only live where the cost of living is lower.

Bluntly I expect affluent business owners to start moving businesses from say California to Idaho. Now that Obama has reduced the “take home pay” of those over $250,000, they can recapture their lost style of living simply by moving. They can earn say $200,000 and live just as well.

Tax avoidance is a national past time.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 3, 2009 7:07 PM
Comment #276694

bartering, and cash transactions are also a good way of cutting into comrade obamas spending loot.

Posted by: dbs at March 3, 2009 7:11 PM
Comment #276698

Stephen D., you overlooked the other sure fire way of getting around higher taxes, borrow and print money instead of raising taxes today, and pass the higher taxes to future generations decades away. Democrats MUST remain acutely aware, going forward, of the liability this created for Republican elections in 2006 and 2008.

I can assure you, the Independent voters are acutely aware, and we will determine the outcome of the elections in 2010 and 2012.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 7:51 PM
Comment #276699

dbs said: “bartering, and cash transactions are also a good way of cutting into comrade obamas spending loot.”

Still advocating for criminal activity I see. As if supporting and defending Republican governance and ideology was not enough. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 7:53 PM
Comment #276700

Craig said: “The Obama tax hike is a disincentive to work if you are north of $250,000.”

Unbelievable. In droves, those making more than $250,000 per year are going to quit their jobs and do what instead, Craig? Become regular poor people living on food stamps and praying for universal health insurance before they get sick? Laughable. Hilarious. You should apply to be Colbert’s Ed McMahon.

So, let me see if I understand this conservative logic correctly. If you are poor, you should not look to government but seek and prepare for a better income job. But, if you are making over $250,000 a year, and a modest tax increase so squeezes your paycheck to paycheck marginal lifestyle, one should just consider quitting work altogether and become a homeless person/family?

Yep. Sounds right and fits right in with the hypocrisy of conservative ideology.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2009 8:06 PM
Comment #276701

david

gotta do someting to offset that carbon tax ;-)
looks like we’re gonna need to throw ALL these A-HOLES out of office in 2010 they still haven’t gotten the picture.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090304/ap_on_go_co/congress_spending

Posted by: dbs at March 3, 2009 8:07 PM
Comment #276710

We cannot pay the bills without paying the bills. The only way to bring down deficit spending,the responsible thing to do, is to raise revenues. Thoses that have gained the most in the last few years are in a better position to assume more of the burden than those that have lost ground.
Certainly there are places to cut spending and many of those are being seriously looked at but there is no magic way to cut debt without paying it. The cost of unnecessary wars and the fiscal lunacy of the past administration has to be delt with and that means more revenue. A lot of Americans these days reflexily start to whine and snivel like so many spoiled children when it comes to pay for services they demand and expect from the government. People expect to be able to buy untainted meat, drugs that are effective, have the FBI fight crime, have FEMA show up during disasters, keep bad guys locked up in the federal prison system, have veterans cared for, meet international commitments, maybe get a little federal help with local highway improvments, have the Navy patrol the sea lanes and have national parks maintained etc. etc. etc. but when it comes time to pay for all that stuff its whine ,whine ,whine. To use SD’s analogy,do want a little cheese with that whine?

Posted by: bills at March 3, 2009 9:57 PM
Comment #276712

bills

before we raise taxes we need to cut ALL the wastful gov’t spending. when the waste is eliminated, and we still can’t pay the bills, then i’ll listen. bye bye earmarks, if you can’t get it funded locally, why should i, or anyone else pay for it? gov’t needs to learn to live within its means. if revenue drops because the economy slows down, then they should have to cut back like anyone else. no more appropriated budgets. if the private sector is laying off, and there is not enough revenue to maintain gov’t sector jobs at thier current level, they will have to cut back on thier employees too. we need to cull the heard thats feeds at the public trough.

Posted by: dbs at March 3, 2009 10:13 PM
Comment #276719

I can hardly believe my eyes.

I thought I made the point clear: no matter what the rate you pay on your next bracket, below the limit of that bracket, you won’t pay an extra penny worth of taxes. Your rate increase goes no lower than that limit, which means you get every dime you were getting before, plus money you weren’t getting before. The Progressive tax code does not kick people out of the lower brackets when they make more money, but rather spreads the new part of their income into another bracket. ONLY that money is taxed at a higher rate.

YOU’RE STILL MAKING MORE MONEY!

Is there less incentive to make that much of a salary. Of course! But it’s not an incentive that inspires people to impoverish themselves. Rather, it tells you, make more fricking money! Sure, you’ll pay more taxes, but you will also get more money!

If a little tax increase, nowhere near the amount people still tried to get rich under in the sixties and sevenities, is enough to discourage you from higher income, then your ambitions are kind of weak.

Liam-
I’m not talking about business taxes. Most businesses won’t even be effected under Obama’s plan. If you’re giving away all your money to your workers, you’re admirable, but not common.

Is it a disincentive to grow? I don’t think so. You’ll have to plan things a little differently, but you might find the economy better, or things like healthcare no longer troubling that same budget (or no longer troubling it to such an excessive degree.)

Jim M-
You can call it a fantasy. I call it a visual metaphor. The thing to keep in mind is that once you surmount the amount in the bracket, your tax liability becomes a set number, and you can essentially add the numbers together until you get to your top bracket. The taxes you pay there, only in the bracket, are the only ones that go higher. Each bracket’s worth of income is then taxed the same as if you had never left that bracket.

As for state and local taxes, well I guess when you argue for state rights, when your people go with unfunded mandates… Don’t you guys realize why previous generations went with greater federal government control? Making something a state issue ensures that you will get 50 different sets of laws and fifty different sets of fees and taxes to make it all run.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. Yes, the burden is high in many of those places. And in most of them, so is the quality of life. People make a choice and make their trades. That is life.

As for what you say about the GDP that’s taken from the private sector? I think you’ll agree with me that in a time of deficit spending, the government’s taking less from the private sector at that point than it really could be, by definition. That’s the point of a deficit financed stimulus Spend now, pay back later.

I wouldn’t knock the Europeans on social spending. They’re happier than us, for the most part. We work more for less. We don’t get as much quality of life as they do, despite their lesser wealth. I think it helps to think of things in terms of all this rat-racing having a purpose, rather than just being some treadmill or gerbil ball that just leaves us pointlessly repeating a routine, day in and day out.

You have to realize something here: Liberalism and progressivism weren’t forced on people. The people sought it. In the old days, you could enjoy the fruits of your labor. But with the industrial revolution, labor became cheap, and with it, the upper class’s regard for the lives and happiness of those working under them (that is, if they weren’t already treating them like dirt to begin with.

Reform came gradually and grudgingly, but it came, and there was a reason: people wanted to be happy.

Lo and behold, when people were happier, healthier and wealthier, they contributed more to the growth of the economy.

America didn’t become great on accident, it became great because the economy was turned to serve the common man, as well as the rich person. It’s not communism, it’s capitalism with better circulation, capitalism that gives the average person a better stake in the success of the system as a whole.

dbs-
“time to push that place into the ocean”. I would love to get into a discussion of just how much anger, resentment and hatred of fellow Americans has become a cornerstone of Republican politics. But hey, I’v got better things to do.

Higher taxes aren’t the end of the world.

Craig Holmes-
A person making over $250K that doesn’t feel they have incentive to do their best is in need of therapy or another job. It just seems silly to me.

We’ve got to grow up here. You can’t scream about endless deficits then balk at tax hikes, not when people want the benefits of government by a majority. There’s a Reason Republicans never pushed all that hard all at once to Abolish FDR’s legacy: They would have lost out sooner.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 3, 2009 11:33 PM
Comment #276720

stephen

“Higher taxes aren’t the end of the world.”

tell that to general population when thier paying higher heating bills, and more at the pump, and that piddly tax credit obamas offering aint covering it. this isn’t about anger, it’s about failed liberal policy in california that is now being pushed at the national level.

Posted by: dbs at March 3, 2009 11:42 PM
Comment #276721

dbs,
How do you cut wastefull spending when none of the spending is considered wastefull?

I have an Idea.

Let’s levy a tax of 100% on political contributions.

Let’s tax each and every dollar of each and every contribution.

The only way we will eliminate wastefull government spending is if we re-evaluate our constitution and decide what it means.

We’ve allowed 7, no! We’ve allowed 9 people to make the decisions for us for almost one-hundred years.

Look at the Panic of 1907 and it’s causes.

The panic of 1907 was an excuse for Progressive Government to take control.

The Fed was created. FDR spent. But, we still have a mirror image of the Panic of 1907! Another Panic that will herd the people towards the next stage of the Progressive Movement.

Don’t you feel you’re being used? Shouldn’t we quit bickering amongst ourselves and start looking at the 10 or 12 global entities that are controlling our destiny?

Or our we past that? Are we so divided we can’t see the tree in the forest?

How’s this for a new tax?

Stephen Daugherty,
Whenever you say Democrat, deposit a dollar in the public trust.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 3, 2009 11:58 PM
Comment #276722

Stephen/David:

You are going down politics, I am going down the road of economics. Taxes going up is a disincentive period. That is the theory behind cigarette taxes remember? When you raise taxes it creates a disincentive. People make decisions.

Remember lowering capital gains taxes? That creates an incentive to sell at a profit so more people sell. Raise capital gains taxes and it creates a disincentive to sell, people hang on to rental properties longer because it takes longer to make a profit. The owner needs to hold the property longer to make the money they wish to make.

It is simply supply and demand.

There is another solution besides raising taxes. It’s reduce spending. Revenues in our country before the recession were normal meaning that the tax revenue coming in to the US Treasury was at or near historical norms. The only reason based on history to raise taxes is to spend more money and grow the size of government which we are now doing.

Equity is another issue entirely.

Also there are of course unintended consequences to raising taxes. People generally move to lower cost setting, all else being equal. Tax avoidance is a national sport. Look for people moving from urban areas to lower cost areas such as Iowa. Des moines could grow through all of this. If a business owner is making $300,000 in Illinois, he might say “honey pack the bags we can live on $200,000 a year and have the same standard of living”.

In economics it’s called arbitrage. Obama just created an arbitrage by singling out 5% of the population. It’s called unintended consequences.

Many people who earn over $250,000 are wondering who to lay off, in order to pay for their addition taxes. That is another way to pay the bill.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 4, 2009 12:11 AM
Comment #276723

Today is my brother’s birthday. He passed away before this fiasco started.
His most memorable achievements were caring for people while they died.

He passed away alone on his bedroom floor.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 4, 2009 12:15 AM
Comment #276726

Stephen,

So, what I hear you saying is that paying more taxes is great because it means you get to work harder? Sounds suspicious.

Also, I’m not clear on your position about people getting richer… you said that they should just earn more to compensate for higher taxes… “Make more money.”

Wouldn’t the ‘more money’ that they made be at the expense of the poor?

Posted by: eric simonson at March 4, 2009 1:52 AM
Comment #276728

Stephen,

Your analysis is absolutely correct. There is not a reason than any individual should want to make less money just because their next dollar may be taxed at a higher rate. They will still make more money.

However, we are not talking about people making more money in most cases. We are talking about people making the same money and having more deducted in taxes. They are in essence getting a pay cut. That point gets lost a bit in the rhetoric.

I agree, however reluctantly, though that tax increases (pay cuts) are necessary. We must begin to close the deficit in this country, and it can not be done by spending reductions alone. But spending cuts must figure prominently in any plan. When our employers ask workers to take pay cuts or force lay-offs, we would be incensed if the company did not look at other cost saving measures first or at least concurrently. The same principle must apply here.

Posted by: Rob at March 4, 2009 2:16 AM
Comment #276729

We are mostly talking about taxes going back up to where they were during the Clinton administration. Remember that. Low, low unemployment, a budget surplus, wages going up,even rich people doing just fine,etc.
The long range economic development must have a shrinking deficit. Problem is that the debt sucks up capital.The government becomes the biggest pig at the trough.The Bush tax cuts added to the problem. The evidence is clear except to the blind. There are two ways to close the gap. Because of the huge deficits run up they both need to be employed. The first is to cut spending. What programs are not working or needed?The second is to raise revenues by some form of taxation. BHO is attempting to do both while at the same time preventing the failure of the shaky economy he inherited from the Republicans. Its time for responsible Americans to support his efforts. Time to grow up.

Posted by: bills at March 4, 2009 2:43 AM
Comment #276731

Craig said: “Taxes going up is a disincentive period.”

No, that is applicable only in certain defined circumstances, Craig, and not applicable at alll to a modest raise in taxes on those earning a quarter million or more per year.

When you get down to the poor, whose entire incomes are consumed by life sustaining basics like food, housing and job transportation, there is most assuredly a disincentive to remain employed if tax increases would exceed their ability to pay for basic life necessities out of their income. But, that is a very specific circumstance representing a minority population, and is not even remotely affected by the proposed modest increase in taxes on those making over $250,000 per year.

You are arguing from the specific to the general, which always involves flawed logic. The general principle you cite is an economic ideology which bears no relation to the real world Obama tax increase in the U.S. today.

For a tax increase to become a disincentive to work or business, causing voluntary unemployment, taxes would have eat so much income that working for that income no longer warrants the time and effort put into that job or business.

Obama’s allowing tax rates to revert to levels of pre-Bush administration, will not result in an economic disincentive toward gainful employment. It may result in modest budgetary adjustments to live within one’s means, and may result in some chortling, harrummppphing of some tax payers, but measurable voluntary quitting of gainful employment or business? No, not at all, and not in this economy especially, when a premium is being placed on keeping one’s job or business.

I know it is hard to discard ideology in favor of realities, since ideology usually comes down from people we once respected as knowing more than we do. But, a big part of on going education is perfecting that critical mind which tests and questions the authority of one’s teachings against the real world to see if they are valid or not, in the real world.

Join the real world. Someone out there in the real world making more than $250,000 per year no doubt has committed to a level of expenses and obligations that exceeds their capacity to afford a very modest increase in their taxes. But, national economic policy cannot accommodate each and every individual circumstance, and aims instead to fulfill the needs for the greatest number in that society.

Increasing government revenues at a time of record deficits fulfills that national economic need and policy goal. And the vast majority of those making over $250,000 per year have, through their budget choices, sensibly allowed for some flexibility in their budget to accommodate the unexpected. It is foolish not to, and anyone making over $250,000 per year most likely has, or should have, enough education in financial management to budget sensibly, knowing unforeseen expenses or variability in income is possible, and to be allowed for in their budget and spending commitments.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2009 4:03 AM
Comment #276733

Rob said: “However, we are not talking about people making more money in most cases. We are talking about people making the same money and having more deducted in taxes. They are in essence getting a pay cut.”

These are valid comments. But, it is also true that most employed people and business owners budget flexibility into their budgets, to withstand modest changes in either income or expenses. There is a standing rule for consumers, keep 6 to 8 months income in reserve and on hand for the unanticipated.

Whether most people are aware of this sound financial advice and rule of thumb, it is nonetheless, a common sense approach to retain flexibility in one’s budget, in order to ride out unforeseen or unanticipated changes in expenses or income. I do not know anyone in my circle of middle class folks who do not allow for such contingencies by refusing to maximize their spending equal to their cash reserves and income limits.

Now, when you get down to the poor, whose entire incomes are consumed by life sustaining basics like food, housing and job transportation, there is most assuredly a disincentive to remain employed if tax increases would exceed their ability to pay for basic life necessities out of their income. But, that is a very specific circumstance representing a minority population, and is not even remotely affected by a modest increase in taxes on those making over $250,000 per year.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2009 4:19 AM
Comment #276738

There is a progressive rate that will make rich people flee the country. 100%. England had that kind of taxes in the 60’s and resulted in the Beatles famous taxman song, as well as their flight from England.

That being said, the whining of Republicans is so overblown on this, that it reminds one of Britney Spears tirades in Hollywood. Someone so out of touch with reality, that people just stare at them with amazement and slow head shakes.

Like Britney, Republicans need a conservator to manage their affairs. They are hurdling America from the very free market principles that they scream about. Like a drug addled addict, they cannot help themselves. Why doesn’t it surprise me they choose an oxycintin addict as their new leader?

Posted by: gergle at March 4, 2009 5:18 AM
Comment #276741

Gergle made the relevant and astute observation: “England had that kind of taxes in the 60’s and resulted in the Beatles famous taxman song, as well as their flight from England.”

Then Gergle went off into comments brimming with counterproductive partisan deluded ad hominems which imply that Democrats behavior in Congress is so vastly more frugal, efficient, magnanimous, and sage in their apparent efforts to double the national debt yet again with wasteful bribes and kickbacks to special interest constituents pulled into appropriations, which have nothing to do with responsible national management of the nation’s budget or future resources, liabilities and opportunities.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2009 6:53 AM
Comment #276744

dbs-
It helps to look at Obama’s overall agenda. The point of cap and trade, which will generally start out at higher, easier emission caps, is to gradually pressure industry and consumers into the changeover to other forms of energy.

Which, Obama is spending billions to help prepare. What he takes with his left, he gives back with his right.

The policy problem in Sacramento comes down to both parties and the government in general being bound by an excess of political theory and a lack of governing flexibility on the part of legislators. The Republicans tried to insist that everything come out of spending. Only problem is, that spending included much in the way of necessary services, like education.

The Republicans could work towards administrative and economic reform, not simply cutting spending, which doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of inefficiency.

Craig Holmes-
You could say its a disincentive, but how much of one. And is it a disincentive to an ambition to that level, or is it a disincentive to staying at that level? A Moderate rise in taxes, which this is will not discourage the seeking of wealth.

But step back a moment: for most people, for many all their lives, they’ll never have to worry about it. The fact remains that even the riches of those taxed might be increased if their employees and customers have less taxes withheld at the same time. Volume among most people will beat quantity among a few. That’s how the consumer economy works, and why it works better than systems where wealth disparity is greater.

The tax policy you advocate was advocated by rich people for rich people’s sake, and was short-sightedly focused on the health of the economy being dependent on the least burden being put on the top. But in a consumer economy, you’re just giving surplus to those who already can afford whatever they want, while increasing the burden on those who can’t. The trick is, if you give money to the lower earners, it gets spent, and it gets concentrated eventually at the top. However, it percolates more through the rest of the economy before it does that.

Most people are not rich enough or astute enough on such issues, and then thereafter willing enough to uproot their lives to avoid taxes.

The Right in this country has gotten unjustifiably phobic about raising taxes. A moderate increase in the rates on the rich, to Clinton Era levels didn’t kill our economy before, nor will it kill it now. This is just Republicans rationalizing an irrational, pragmatically untenable position by stoking unjustified fears about the effects of moderate tax increases.

Eric Simonson-

So, what I hear you saying is that paying more taxes is great because it means you get to work harder? Sounds suspicious.

I didn’t say it was great. I just said you could find a way to make more if you were so attached to that after taxes income. Or hell, you could do something green to your house and take the deduction on that. It bugs the hell out of me that these rugged individualist are being so stupid as to let this scare them into a what is objectively a stupid move. You’ll lower your taxes, but you’ll earn less than if you left everything alone!

The expectations that the Republicans have had for years are unrealistic, and they’re going to have to adjust to reality. I suggest that they, being the rugged individualists that they are lean in to the wind, and prove the value of being competitive. Earn back what the government took from them.

Additionally, people at that level have had the greatest growth of income of any group in the American economy. Do you actually think they’ll let themselves make less? No. I trust in people’s self-interest to make up for the losses. You seem to be relying on the government to be gracious to these people in order to increase their wealth. Here, I seem to be more conservative about the value of hard work than you.

Rob-
They can take a minor pay cut. A person at that level, unless they’re irresponsible with their money, will not suffer nearly the trouble that a person from the middle class would. They don’t need every dollar as much as poorer folks. If they did fine in the Clinton years, they’ll do fine now.

And once they do fine, they won’t miss it, either because it simply isn’t that great of a problem, or because they simply get more money as the benefits of the Middle Class tax cut filter up.

The Republicans have insisted for years that the average person sacrifice their income, their power at the bargaining table, their strength to see their own interests. Result? A dependence on credit to keep up with the economic price increases, and the drop in income relative to everybody else. The promised shared prosperity was a crock. Now people are going to insist on more evenly shared burdens. The thing is, if they share those burdens, they’ll also share in the benefits, because prosperity ALWAYS filters up.

Something else to point out: because of the way the progressive tax code is set up, they get the lower class tax cuts as well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 8:17 AM
Comment #276745

Stephen,
Good Article! I can’t tell you how many people who would be in a tizzy if they made $251,000 when there extra tax would actually be next to nothing. Not to mention all the joe the plumbers who make nowhere near that but somehow imagine that they are high rollers.

All the over-reacting responses on this thread prove your point.

Posted by: Schwamp at March 4, 2009 8:45 AM
Comment #276752

Weary Willie

“Today is my brother’s birthday. He passed away before this fiasco started.
His most memorable achievements were caring for people while they died.

He passed away alone on his bedroom floor.”

willie i’m so sorry. i lost my dad not all that long ago. he died in a hospice which iguess is far better than dying alone. the thing that gets me is my stepmother had more enough resources to have him cared for at home during the last week of his life. neither she nor my brother were there when he drew his last breath, even though they were just minutes away.he deserved better than that.


Posted by: dbs at March 4, 2009 11:06 AM
Comment #276754

stephen

“The policy problem in Sacramento comes down to both parties and the government in general being bound by an excess of political theory and a lack of governing flexibility on the part of legislators. The Republicans tried to insist that everything come out of spending. Only problem is, that spending included much in the way of necessary services, like education.”

the budget problem in california is one of overspending period. i lived there all my life, and i’m quite familiar with the goings on in sacramento. i think ca. currently spends between 60, and 66% of its total budget on education @ 11,000 per student. throwing more money at it won’t solve the problem.

http://www.dof.ca.gov/budgeting/budget_faqs/information/documents/CHART-B.pdf

Posted by: dbs at March 4, 2009 11:26 AM
Comment #276755

The person who dies by themself having done good in this life will never be alone thereafter. They will not only have good company, but the best. That is what I believe. My condolences on your Brother’s death. I hope that you will see him again one day.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 11:27 AM
Comment #276756

dbs-
The problem is looking at efficiency merely in terms of spending less. The problem is not the amount but the uses and the results. I don’t think the Republicans, with their one-dimensional approach to budgeting, are really making things more efficient by not funding things.

The folks who simply destroy government will not do everybody else much good. They need to make government effective for what it seeks to do.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 11:31 AM
Comment #276760

stephen

all the republicans in ca. have done is try to go back to tying the increases to population growth, and cost of living. this was what they used to have, it was called the gann limit.

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=2871

notice page 69 projected revenue. i don’t believe it’s going to be that good. it will probably be much worse, but we’ll see when the tax reciepts come in. IMO it will extremely ugly. sure glad i don’t live there anymore.

http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/pdf/BudgetSummary/FullBudgetSummary.pdf

Posted by: dbs at March 4, 2009 11:51 AM
Comment #276761

stephen

sorry page 68 is the projected personal income tax revenue. i believe it’ll be much worse.

Posted by: dbs at March 4, 2009 11:55 AM
Comment #276767

Bills wrote; “A lot of Americans these days reflexily start to whine and snivel like so many spoiled children when it comes to pay for services they demand and expect from the government. People expect to be able to buy untainted meat, drugs that are effective, have the FBI fight crime, have FEMA show up during disasters, keep bad guys locked up in the federal prison system, have veterans cared for, meet international commitments, maybe get a little federal help with local highway improvments, have the Navy patrol the sea lanes and have national parks maintained etc. etc. etc. but when it comes time to pay for all that stuff its whine ,whine ,whine.”

Bills, I don’t know of a single conservative who is “whining” about the expenditures you list. And, we’re not whining about the taxes we currently pay. It’s all the new, unfunded, and never-ending spending that is being proposed that we object to.

I would like to ask Remer, Daugherty and others who are well versed in the new proposed tax rates exactly how much money is expected from those increases.

And, once that amount is known, will it pay for all this new spending? If not, what percentage will be paid for by these new taxes.

I am reminded of a description of a liberal as being one who feels a great debt to his fellow man…which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

May I offer this observation from Mark Twain…”The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the hide”

Posted by: Jim M at March 4, 2009 12:46 PM
Comment #276772

Jim M-
1) Cut funding to agencies, run them into the ground with negligent leadership and a philosophy that rejects intervening against businesses.

2) Watch those agencies fail.

3) Point out those failures and criticize the inability of government to get anything right.

Jeez, you can’t lose, can you? Not unless people actually start wanting their government to work.

Democrats and Liberals actually have to do things right to make our philosophy work. Some tough luck. The good news is, we have incentive to make things work, and when they do, people will appreciate the fact we’re doing our jobs.

The Republican Party is like the new trophy wife the guy in the mid-life crisis gets, hoping to fulfill and maintain the fantasies he once had about himself and what he could do.

I won’t tell you that the Democrats are the virtuous wife he returns to when he returns to his senses, but I’ll tell you the Republicans maintained power by indulging a fantasy: that you could get the same law and order in society you were getting before, just with less regulation, less manpower and less taxes.

That didn’t turn out to be the case. I’ll tell you this: if Democrats merely restored the security people once enjoyed under them, people will be grateful. The Republicans have made life in America much more difficult for the average person, and they’ll have to do a lot of smooth talking and spin to change people’s minds.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 1:18 PM
Comment #276774

Stephen,

I love the “You’re still making more money!” comment- as though having to work two or three times as hard for each additional dollar, when as others point out people already have enough, was not a disincentive to additional work.

You don’t get it. It is hard work to make money. It is not made easier when you have to earn two or three dollars (Remember there are state income taxes, too.) to keep one measly additional dollar. Let me quote from you-Stubbornly insisting on certain philosophical positions is no way to run a government. We see what works, we stop doing what doesn’t. We undertake the struggle necessary to make sure the government acts and behaves responsibility.AMEN!

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 4, 2009 1:22 PM
Comment #276778

To stop people complaining about taxes, from both sides of the issue, we should only have two taxes:

The Government Tax: People are taxed 5% and all taxes collected are only used to run govt.

The Entitlement Tax: A tax that really is voluntary and the people are free to pay what they choose.

No more dodging. No more loopholes. No more complaining. No more envy. No more spreading the wealth. No more class warfare.

Posted by: kctim at March 4, 2009 2:06 PM
Comment #276779

David,

I made no such implication that Democrats were any better historically, it is just the current spoiled brat syndrome of the recent Republican stances( in particular Rush) in the face of the abject failure of their party’s message seems to be blatantly obvious to everyone, but them.

I simply put it in terms that places it in a similar category to the outrages of privileged hollywood brats. Over the top? Well, sure sometimes I have to go there. I accept your criticism as fair, but still think I’m not far off the mark. Would anyone really be surprised if Rush shaved his head and began waving an umbrella at Paparazzi?

Posted by: gergle at March 4, 2009 2:13 PM
Comment #276781

Lee Jamison-
You’re not working two or three times harder for that dollar. This is just senseless self-indulgence in victim status by the people in society who have the least excuse for complaint.

It puzzles me how the Republicans insist on Americans being victims of big government, regulation and taxation, and yet are quick to turn around and decry those who exist in a state of perpetual victimhood.

The raising of taxes here is no worse than the Clinton Administrations. We survived that, somehow, despite what an ordeal that all was. I think anybody that’s this scared of taxes really needs to get a grip.

You talked about what worked. Well, the Clinton tax rates worked. So did the tax rates which we had during the 60, until Johnson started trying to run a war and do social programs without sacrifice. We actually could have afforded it, but by putting it on the credit card, LBJ made the economic consequences worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 2:34 PM
Comment #276787

Lee writes:

You don’t get it. It is hard work to make money. It is not made easier when you have to earn two or three dollars (Remember there are state income taxes, too.)

Good point. Those wall streeters really worked there tails off to get those 7 figure bonuses. We all need to fight for them - they sure don’t fight for themselves.

Posted by: Schwamp at March 4, 2009 3:05 PM
Comment #276788

Stephen:

A couple of points.

1. Of course a majority of Americans are for more social programs. They were presented in such a way as that they didn’t need to pay for them which is false.

How to the bottom 95% pay for the benefits the left has promised? Slower GDP growth and less jobs. The money taken from the wealthy comes at the expense of whatever else they were going to do with the money.

So the cost to the bottom 95% is the unintended consequences of the tax increase.

2. You are good at telling the top 5% to work harder to make the same $$. That is fine except that they are the hardest working Americans already and the money that place where the money is going to target is the place where Americans work the least hours per week. So you are asking those who work the most to subsidize those that work the least. And of course i know there are exceptions, i am speaking of averages, so I don’t need to hear about what a person earns on minimum wage. It you want to give benefits to the working poor that are working more than 40 hours a week and still cannot make it on two incomes then count me in. I am speaking of the majority of low income workers that work on 20 to 30 hours a week. Also count me in on programs to get the working poor up the full time. I’m an ally on that legislation!!!

3. Again, I say that let’s be clear, the federal revenues have been fine relative to America experience. The Bush tax cuts did not hurt the revenue stream of this country. The only reason to raise taxes is to spend more. And again, of course a majority of Americans are for benefits they have not been asked to pay for.

4. Lastly, get ready for all of us to pay for the unintended consequences of this tax increase as research is clear even among Obama’s economic advisors that tax increases harm the economy.

bottom line. You are simply liberal and want the federal government to larger. You want America to be more like Europe.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 4, 2009 3:32 PM
Comment #276791

1) We’re returning tax rates at the top earners to that of the Clinton years, during which we saw an explosive growth in GDP and Job growth. Bush cut taxes more than anybody in history for the upper class, and left us with a net loss in jobs, an economic crisis and a shrinking GDP.

You tell me: where’s the proof there that tax cuts are good for the economy and raising taxes (or rather letting the rates go up when Bush’s tax cuts expire) will be lethal? At the very least, we have poor correlation between the expecations you state and the results we’ve seen over history.

As far as the top 5% being the hardest working Americans? I don’t think income level correlates with any necessity to being a hard worker, much less working the least hours.

3) Federal revenues not hurt by the tax cuts? I’m sorry, but the folks in the budget offices estimated at least half the deficits were created by the removal of those tax dollars. The truth is, unless you get explosive growth in the economy as a result of the tax cuts, which never has happened, you always get drops in revenue, and rises in debt.

The Bottom line is this: the rhetoric on tax cuts is not serving you well, nor anybody else. The results of these cuts have generally led to a decline in fiscal sanity and probity, not an increase. We need to have a more adult perspective on taxes, one that doesn’t lead to people making slippery slope arguments on even the most middling tax increase.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 3:59 PM
Comment #276793

An editorial in the NY Times today reads in part;

“In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget.

He reckons he’ll need Congress for more ambitious projects, like health care, and when he goes back to wheedle more bailout billions, given that A.I.G. and G.M. and our other corporate protectorates are burning through our money faster than we can print it and borrow it from the ever-more-alarmed Chinese.

Team Obama sounds hollow, chanting that “the status quo is not acceptable,” even while conceding that the president is accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.

Obama spinners insist it was “a leftover budget.” But Iraq was leftover, too, and the president’s trying to end that. This is the first pork-filled budget from a new president who promised to go through the budget “line by line” and cut pork.

On “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, dismissed the bill as “last year’s business,” because most of it was written last year.

But given how angry Americans are, watching their future go up in smoke, the bloated bill counts as this year’s business.”

Link; http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/opinion/04dowd.html?th&emc=th

I would say this does not bode well for PO and his administration. We can all hope that he keeps his campaign promise of going thru each bill…line-by-line to ferret out the pork.

Posted by: Jim M at March 4, 2009 4:14 PM
Comment #276801

Jim M-
Oh Noes, Maureen Dowd pens a negative editorial! What will we do? Run and hide? Stuff the money under the bed? Stock up canned food in the cellar? Wait. I don’t have a Cellar!

I’m doooooooooooomed!

But seriously, I get very annoyed when people expect Obama to straighten out Washington all at once. Especially when many of them are just trying to keep Washington as crooked as they’ve had it. We’re getting this flak from the Republicans as they’re asking for 4 out of every ten earmarks in the bill.

Besides which, Earmarks are just directions for appropriations. Spend here, like this, so on and so forth. The question is, whether they’re good earmarks, and whether we have the time to work them all out without getting pretty far into time wer’e supposed to be using for 2010 and 2011 spending bills. Government doesn’t pay for itself, nor are the appropriations automatic.

Sometimes things have to get done ugly to get done. We’ve got other spending bills to handle, if Ms. Dowd isn’t too busy being morally indignant.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2009 5:10 PM
Comment #276808

kctim,

A poor person, working part time or for minimum wage or less, with ‘X’ number of children to feed. You say we should have an all volunteer system for entitlement programs…okay…hmmm…you apparently want only wealthy to eat in old age…them damned sorry-assed poor people should have been wealthy! Right?!? they should have gone a little hungrier, put a little away…suck it up fool! Right?!? The great unwashed just don’t count…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 4, 2009 6:35 PM
Comment #276818

Stephen said, “Something else to point out: because of the way the progressive tax code is set up, they get the lower class tax cuts as well.”

Surely your not making the argument that those who are the target of the tax increases will not being paying less, right?

My point was basic, I agree with your analysis. It basically says that those making over $250K will take a pay cut. I agreed that we need to do it. I noted that if we are going to ask folks to take a pay cut, it is fair to demand that spending receives a fair amount of scrutiny. Do you disagree with any of this?

Posted by: Rob at March 4, 2009 8:39 PM
Comment #276836

This really is a pretty silly discussion. People that make over 250,000 do not work hard. They only think they do. Most could not even change their own tire.

Posted by: bills at March 5, 2009 7:04 AM
Comment #276838

Rob-
Well, they’ll be paying somewhat less than if the lower brackets didn’t get their rates cut. Because of the compounding of the brackets, though, they’d get that rate cut, too, for that level of income.

However, if you do the math, by the time you get up to about 250K, the money they have to dish out most likely cancels out that gain. Still, they do see the same benefits everybody else does.

Are you familiar with the concept of marginal utility? A person who earns at that level, even if they lose five or ten percent more in their top brackets, still has greater buying power than the average person. They’re still rich. Unless they’re living on the very margin of their means, they can take that pay cut better than everybody else.

Which, if you need to curtail a deficit problem without lowering spending, which is a bad idea in deflationary times, is the better alternative to sticking the middle class with the bill, where the marginal utility of that money is greater. We’re a consumer economy, which means that even if the upper classes see a pay cut, if everybody else does well, they get more money, as it inevitably filters up through the businesses. But if you levy the taxes more on the middle class, that cuts down on disposable income, which makes the economy more unstable, less likely to grow. By raising taxes first on those who can afford to part with the money, as an alternative to those who can’t, we lessen the overall punishment the market gets from the tax increase.

Which, in the end, is good for those who make a lot of money, because it’s easier to make it back.

It’s not merely a matter of social justice, though there is that aspect to it. It’s a matter of burning economic fat rather than economic muscle. The rich can’t power a market by themselves. They need income from us in order to make their business work and their investments pay off. Though people who were well off during the Great Depression generally remained well off, business and investment stayed in a downturn for quite a long time, because people couldn’t afford to spare the income to pay these folks.

As much as many in the upper class hated it, calling FDR “That Man” rather than mention him by name, he made the economy safe for capitalism again, by returning strength in the lower and middle classes.

It’s short-sighted to think of the immediate effect on business and investors, without turning around and thinking of the follow-on effects on those who are expected to be consumers in the economy.

Republicans have become very one-dimensional in their analysis, in addition to becoming problematically fixed upon just one side of the revenue/expenditure equation. True, we could could cut spending to solve all deficits, but not all spending cuts would be good for the country or good for the economy, nor do the majority of Americans sympathize with many of the cuts that might be employed. As such, it’s not always the best option. Unfortunately the Republicans have made raising taxes, or even allowing tax cuts to sunset a mortal sin. How do you run an effective government with such rigid thinking? Moderate tax increases might be the preferable outcome to interest rate hikes or out of control inflation. But try telling that to a person who gets primaried by the Club For Growth if they even think about it. The Republican party paints itself as the party of ideas, but I think the Republicans have become a party imprisoned, shackled by their ideas, which they refuse to abandon, even when they prove bad ideas.

I’m no stereotype foaming at the mouth for tax hikes. But I understand that sometimes, if you want something, you got to pay for it, and that the best way to prevent runaway spending is to make sure that people feel the cost.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 5, 2009 7:47 AM
Comment #276839

BillS,


Agree with you 100%.

Posted by: gergle at March 5, 2009 7:50 AM
Comment #276852

bills

“This really is a pretty silly discussion. People that make over 250,000 do not work hard. They only think they do. Most could not even change their own tire.”

what a truely ignorant statement.

Posted by: dbs at March 5, 2009 10:42 AM
Comment #276853

dbs, gergle, bills-
What I would say is that I don’t think the level of your salary is necessarily indicative of how hard you work, but one thing is for sure: There is no superhuman work ethic that distinguishes the people in the top brackets from the lower brackets, and by that logic, the hardest working investment banker (if that profession still exists in America!) gets more money for his hard work than the poorer gentleman or lady.

So, let’s not make this argument about who works harder. That was never the point of my argument. The point, really, is that some people are more familiar with talking points about taxes than they are about how it all really works. As such, their judgment about what to do both on a macroeconomic level and a personal level has been skewed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 5, 2009 10:52 AM
Comment #276856

Well, I guess we know who makes over $250,000.

Stephen, while I would whole-heartedly agree with your last response, I still think BillS said something that is truer than people want to admit.

People attempt to achieve high income and wealth precisely because they don’t want to work hard. Like feline predators, we are efficient hunters. When our bellies are full we mostly sleep. It is simple human nature. What BillS was saying, in my opinion, and that I concurred with, is the tendency of the wealthiest among us to justify their wealth by complaining about the sloth and incompetence of the “lowlier” classes. I happen to interact with both sets of people. There is some truth to both view points. But I am much more disturbed by the utter arrogance I observe among those who have made it. I am secure and comfortable myself, but I never fool myself into thinking that I work as hard as I did when I didn’t have money. Certainly many wealthy people do work hard, at their own discretion. Those with fewer resources simply don’t have that discretion. Those poor that don’t or can’t work hard usually end up dead or in jail. Tales of welfare queens are greatly exaggerated.

Posted by: gergle at March 5, 2009 11:26 AM
Comment #276860

gergle

“Well, I guess we know who makes over $250,000.”

and you would be wrong.


“I still think BillS said something that is truer than people want to admit.”

and you would be wrong again, and also guilty of making the same ignorant assumtion.

Posted by: dbs at March 5, 2009 11:48 AM
Comment #276864

I want to add something to this. I guess my perspective on this is perhaps somewhat more diverse than some people.

I grew up in Ohio, the son of an electronics technician with some college. My grandparents were tobacco farmers in eastern Kentucky. They raised their children in the Depression. They lived at a subsistence level. Grew their own food, collected water from a bucket in a well, and used outhouses. They planted and plowed using mules. My grandfather once told me that he believed people would starve rather than work that hard again, me grandmother would scowl and say “what good old days” when people would wax on about the past.

Both my parents children went to college. I work in civil engineering. I do construction inspection. I interact with construction workers and engineers. They are at diverse ends of the economic spectrum. Many construction workers are Mexican and Central American immigrants. They are usually poorly educated, they usually die younger. Many are elderly men who do physical labor that, even when I was younger, could not sustain. I find most of these people honest, direct, sincere and highly moral. Sure there are some among them that are derelicts and drunks. I’ve also watched engineers destroyed by drugs and alcohol. It is not unique to social class.

Among engineers, many are hard working and honest. Do they work as hard? Not by a long shot. Do these engineers work hard building careers and comfortable lives for themselves? Certainly. Do they deserve the rewards of their labors? Yes. Could they do the work of construction crews? Some could, most would do poorly, and many would utterly fail. Could the construction workers do the engineering? Same answer. Don’t hard working construction workers deserve retirement and healthcare?

When I started in engineering, you could become a professional engineer through a grandfather clause, meaning years of experience could replace a college degree and you could become a P.E. I think that has been eliminated by most states. Unfortunately anyone who passes a PE exam is considered an engineer. Many engineers fresh out of school are completely incompetent.

Nothing in life is perfect, I know, but we have created a phony cast system in this country, that treats some people’s work as dramatically more valuable than others. I think Obama has made subtle points to this in his views about Wall Street excesses.

Why does our system make the guy that builds something work less valuable than the guy who designs it or finances it? This is classism, not “free market” capitalism. I just get a bit disgusted with all the claims of “working hard”
In my opinion, 99% of it is pure BS. It seems to me, most people have no clue how the other half lives.


Posted by: gergle at March 5, 2009 12:00 PM
Comment #276865

Thanks, dbs, I richly value a completely unsupported opinion. As someone here once said, ignorance is a broadly shared commodity.

Posted by: gergle at March 5, 2009 12:02 PM
Comment #276874

Jim Cramer from CNBC recently ranted about Obama’s budget and tax increases being anathema to the economy as evidenced by a continuing drop in the Dow.

While Cramer went on to say he actually supports Obama’s vision, just not RIGHT NOW, I am frankly perplexed by his rather confusing position, given that the return to a more progressive tax structure that are timed to occur down the road.

I think Jon Stewart, while perhaps being a little unfair in his editing, points out the hypocrisy coming out of the “investor class”

Posted by: gergle at March 5, 2009 12:59 PM
Comment #276877

Dude, you are missing the beauty of such a simple tax system.
Not only are your rights protected, but I am free to give as much money as I want to help those I believe need real help.

If I was a talkshow host who believed in helping the poor, I could give billions to the cause and still have enough for myself to live a modest life. Best of all though, when I see all the waste and abuse, I can stop contributing and that would cause positive change.

But I do see a legit point that could cause doubt; what if all those who purport to care so much about entitlements, don’t care enough about them to actually support them? Kind of a gamble with them isn’t it. Shouldn’t matter much though, those who actually do help those in need instead of waiting for govt to do it for them, would step up to the plate. Most churches are like that.

Posted by: kctim at March 5, 2009 1:59 PM
Comment #276883

Daugherty writes: “I get very annoyed when people expect Obama to straighten out Washington all at once. Especially when many of them are just trying to keep Washington as crooked as they’ve had it.”

I read this morning in the NY Times that PO has signed onto the unions demand that no pork and none of the stimulus can be spent on non-union labor. Frankly, that just stinks. I don’t really give a damn how much PO owes the union for helping him get elected…he is now the president of the entire U.S. and all her citizens.

Daugherty talks about folks in Washington being crooked…I wonder how he would describe this latest outrage.

Posted by: Jim M at March 5, 2009 2:48 PM
Comment #276885

Daugherty wrote; “But I understand that sometimes, if you want something, you got to pay for it, and that the best way to prevent runaway spending is to make sure that people feel the cost.”

Unbelievable…even from Daugherty. “Sometimes…you got to pay…” Here’s a wake-up Mr. Daugherty, someone always pays.

But, to be fair, I now have a better understanding of the liberal philosophy of big government spending. PO and the liberal congress are only spending like wise men to make sure that we, the taxpaying fools, understand the cost so that we “prevent runaway spending in the future.

HUH! AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?

Posted by: Jim M at March 5, 2009 3:08 PM
Comment #276890

Stephen,

Just to be clear anyone making $250K (adjusted not gross) after the tax increases will be in raw dollars paying more not less right? I thought I understood completely the math, but you are making me second guess myself.

I’ve made no arguments stating that we should not do this. I agree we need to close the deficit.

As an aside,


Which, if you need to curtail a deficit problem without lowering spending, which is a bad idea in deflationary times, is the better alternative to sticking the middle class with the bill, where the marginal utility of that money is greater. We’re a consumer economy, which means that even if the upper classes see a pay cut, if everybody else does well, they get more money, as it inevitably filters up through the businesses. But if you levy the taxes more on the middle class, that cuts down on disposable income, which makes the economy more unstable, less likely to grow. By raising taxes first on those who can afford to part with the money, as an alternative to those who can’t, we lessen the overall punishment the market gets from the tax increase.

I’m not sure that the market will necessarily see it that way. The market is based on investments and performance. When we raise taxes on the most affulent, we remove some demand for the market. When we raise taxes on the middle class, we have the potential to impact performance of companies. It’s not necessarily as straight forward as you indicate.

From a social justice standpoint, I don’t disagree with the progressive tax system as a concept, so I agree with you.

Posted by: Rob at March 5, 2009 4:18 PM
Comment #276891

gergle

the only ignorant remarks were yours, and bills.

“Well, I guess we know who makes over $250,000.”

you made a comment that i’m guessing was directed at me, and if it was, you were wrong. your remark was narrow minded not mine. the same goes for the remark made by bills.

“This really is a pretty silly discussion. People that make over 250,000 do not work hard. They only think they do. Most could not even change their own tire.”

what is not ignorant about pigeon holeing anyone who makes over 250k a year?

“Thanks, dbs, I richly value a completely unsupported opinion. As someone here once said, ignorance is a broadly shared commodity.”

my opinion is supported by the remarks referenced above.

i too have worked in the construction industry, that is up until it took a dump. i now have a dump truck that made me an exellent living up until about a year ago, just sitting. since then i have sold the home i owned for over 15 years before i lost the rest of my equity relocated, purchased a nicer home for a lot less money, and have lived off banked equity, taken a job for 13 dollars an hour, and been laid off. i don’t want anything from the gov’t, and i have nothing against people who are more successful than i am, and i don’t think they should give anyone a dime. quit playing the class warfare game it’s counter productive. BTW those mexican, and central american workers, or should i say illegal aliens are stealing work from americans, but i guess that shouldn’t bother you. you know when i was young those jobs were done by american workers. i guess ignorance is truely in the eye of the beholder, so take the patch off your left eye, and look at the whole picture.

Posted by: dbs at March 5, 2009 4:51 PM
Comment #276904

>I read this morning in the NY Times that PO has signed onto the unions demand that no pork and none of the stimulus can be spent on non-union labor. Frankly, that just stinks. I don’t really give a damn how much PO owes the union for helping him get elected…he is now the president of the entire U.S. and all her citizens.
Posted by: Jim M at March 5, 2009 02:48 PM

I will assume, for the sake of argument that this referrence is correct…why would that be somehow un-American? Obama is a Democrat, and Democrats believe that unions are a great part of the successes of America. He is the President of all Americans, much like Cheney/Bush was the President of all Americans, but Obama is much better at it.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 5, 2009 7:27 PM
Comment #276905

Marysdude:

Like you assuming the reference is correct, my answer would be that non working union workers are Americans as well, and pay taxes just like union workers do.
To discriminate against tax paying non union workers would seem in poor taste.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 5, 2009 7:41 PM
Comment #276906

Stephen:

You tell me: where’s the proof there that tax cuts are good for the economy and raising taxes (or rather letting the rates go up when Bush’s tax cuts expire) will be lethal? At the very least, we have poor correlation between the expecations you state and the results we’ve seen over history.

I don’t accept your premise that I am advocating that tax cuts are good and raising taxes are lethal. I am saying that tax increases slow the economy and tax cuts stimulate the economy. In times of recession I would agree with your assertion of what I am saying. However in strong economic times, tax increases can be good in that they slow the economy and keep inflation down, and you can use the revenue to pay down the debt. The reverse is true, in strong economies tax decreases can stimulate the economy and lead to run away inflation.

2.

As far as the top 5% being the hardest working Americans? I don’t think income level correlates with any necessity to being a hard worker, much less working the least hours.

If I said hardest working I mispoke. The number of hours worked does increase as one moves up the ladder as does the number of wage earnings in the home. It is not uncommon for low income families to have one wage earner working working fewer than say 30 hours a week.

3.

Federal revenues not hurt by the tax cuts? I’m sorry, but the folks in the budget offices estimated at least half the deficits were created by the removal of those tax dollars. The truth is, unless you get explosive growth in the economy as a result of the tax cuts, which never has happened, you always get drops in revenue, and rises in debt.

Pre recession federal revenues are well withing normal ranges for modern America.

There are two reasons for this. First of all, over time tax cuts need to be made simply to keep marginal tax rates the same because of bracket creep do to inflation. Give enough time $250,000 will be a low income because of cost of living.
Since Income tax brackets are not indexed for inflation they need to be adjusted from time to time.

Second is because of income distribution. Because the affluent have been the primary income beneficiaries the last 10 years or so, they have “moved up” brackets because of their prosperity.

Because of those two a reasons and more, federal tax revenues were well within the normal range.

The Bottom line is this: the rhetoric on tax cuts is not serving you well, nor anybody else. The results of these cuts have generally led to a decline in fiscal sanity and probity, not an increase. We need to have a more adult perspective on taxes, one that doesn’t lead to people making slippery slope arguments on even the most middling tax increase.

Actually not. It was spending. Republicans spent like (well almost like) democrats. Bush did not veto one spending bill while Republicans were in charge of congress.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 5, 2009 7:57 PM
Comment #276908

Stephen:

This is why Obama’s and your liberal plans will likely fail.

You can tell 95% of the voters that you will give them something for nothing. (As in give them more healthcare ect, and give the bill to the top 5%). And you did and you won.

Here is the rub. The top 5% own a majority of asset in the markets. The top 5% have the power and will use it by sitting on their capital if need be to veto Obama’s plans. We are likely seeing that in the markets today.

That is why dividing American in the the bottom 95% and the top 5% is a bad idea. We are all Americans. It takes those with the most votes (bottom 95%) and those with most of the capital (top 5%) working together to make the system work. The only way around this is to deny the wealthy their property rights and confiscate their property (socialism).

So what happens now? We are now having the second election. When does this all stop? It stops when you see Obama dealing direction (negotiating) with the top 5% and compromising (moderating) what he promised in the election. He needs the agreement of the top 5% to govern. It would help if he would stop the negative rhetoric.

Obama will cave on this because he has no choice. The markets will force him to moderate his goals.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 5, 2009 8:11 PM
Comment #276924

Stephen,

It bugs the hell out of me that these rugged individualist are being so stupid as to let this scare them into a what is objectively a stupid move. You’ll lower your taxes, but you’ll earn less than if you left everything alone!

There is a point at which the costs outweigh the risks. Most of us in the proletariat find a level and generally stay there. Some of us never attain those higher income levels and the progressive tax seems custom designed to make it harder to do so. Make more; get taxed more. It’s essentially a punishment for being productive. Also, there is a principle involved; the progressive believes the state is sovereign, the conservative believes the individual is sovereign. This is a difference akin to the equality of outcome and the equality of opportunity.

The road you want to go down will result in a different state of mind on the part of the worker. We won’t be striving to earn more when incomes are equalized. There’s no point.

Also, the avenue of striving will shift from a free market to the public square. Meaning that the road to getting rich will become more and more political in nature. Lobbying for wealth instead of marketing for wealth. Which is ironically what many liberals say they don’t want but is a direct result of their policies.

The amount you are paid isn’t necessarily based on how hard you work, it’s based on the worth of your work to those who are paying you. Whether it is an employer or a client you get paid according to how much your services are worth on the market.

The expectations that the Republicans have had for years are unrealistic, and they’re going to have to adjust to reality. I suggest that they, being the rugged individualists that they are lean in to the wind, and prove the value of being competitive. Earn back what the government took from them.

Again, by your own political theory here, reality is whatever the state wants it to be. Yet supply and demand continues to operate regardless of where the state tries to set it.

Posted by: eric simonson at March 5, 2009 10:44 PM
Comment #276940

So your guess about who I was directing my comment at supports your ignorant statement?

Great supporting argument.

Do you mean bills’ statement about categorizing a group of people is more ignorant than your categorizing a group of people called liberals. Why is that so?

Perhaps like me, he knows a few that do fit that category. Perhaps you know a few that fit your category. Perhaps you’re the kettle and he’s the pot? Perhaps your perspective is more limited than his.

Chris Matthews nailed a description of the stupidity of the politics of Rush, today. Rush is not the leader of the Republican party, he is defending, making heroes, of the elitist pigs that destroyed the US economy and continue to feed at the trough. The CEO’s and Wall Street. He is kings of the pigs. All hail the king.

Perhaps defending tax breaks for the wealthy makes sense to you and Rush. Maybe you are both a little out of touch.

Sincerely, dbs, I wish you well. I know how “easy” your job is. I’m well aware and concur with the laborers that call me easy money. I had offers to become a superintendent once. I chose to stick with engineering, even though I had the potential to make more money that way, I didn’t want the horrid hours, working conditions and headaches. I’m curious, dbs, did you ever drive or work less to avoid taxes? Don’t you ever curse the jerks that destroyed your job?

Posted by: gergle at March 6, 2009 2:37 AM
Comment #276941

Eric,

I’m not sure where your road is located, but in my state neither is sovereign. The individual must work within society and the state must work with and respect the individual that votes it in.

As to lobbyists being the attractors of wealth, doesn’t it even cross your irony meter just a little that you’re claiming this after the scandals of Delay, Abramhoff, Phil Gramm, Thomas Scully, Newt Gingrich……

By all means, let’s continue with this path of “leadership”. I mean it’s really all about individualism and the individual….if you have a well paid lobbyist, that is.

I see time hasn’t corrected your astigmatism.

Posted by: gergle at March 6, 2009 2:52 AM
Comment #276949

“So your guess about who I was directing my comment at supports your ignorant statement?”

HUH?

“Perhaps like me, he knows a few that do fit that category. Perhaps you know a few that fit your category. Perhaps you’re the kettle and he’s the pot? Perhaps your perspective is more limited than his.”

another assumption on your part, and once again you would be wrong.


“Well, I guess we know who makes over $250,000.”


who was this statement directed at?

“Do you mean bills’ statement about categorizing a group of people is more ignorant than your categorizing a group of people called liberals. Why is that so?”


where did i mention liberals? here’s an idea, why don’t actually adress the point i made. all i did was respond to yours and bills comments.

“Perhaps defending tax breaks for the wealthy makes sense to you”

you need to open your eyes and actually look at the tax cuts. everyone who paid taxes got one. why shouldn’t everyone share in tax relief? it’s real simple the more you pay in, the more a few percentage points adds up to in savings. should we just eliminate income tax on the bottom 95%? why do you have such hatred of those who do well?

“Sincerely, dbs, I wish you well. I know how “easy” your job is.”

did you even read my post? appearently not.

“dbs, did you ever drive or work less to avoid taxes?”

nope, i worked every chance i got, because i knew there would be times when work was slow. i was self employed so unemployment was never an option, and it still isn’t.


“I’m well aware and concur with the laborers that call me easy money. I had offers to become a superintendent once. I chose to stick with engineering, even though I had the potential to make more money that way,”

correct me if i’m wrong, but as a building inspector don’t you work for a city, county or some municipality? does that mean you have benifits such as retirement, vacation pay, sick pay, and a set work schedule? so what your saying is that you had an opportunity to make more money, but it involved taking risk, and getting out of your comfort zone. now i understand. i to once had a job with most of those perks, but i chose to take the risk in order to obtain the possible benifits of taking that risk. it worked out well for a long time. nothing ventured nothing gained. it’s an idividual choice. one we both made. so why so bitter?


Posted by: dbs at March 6, 2009 10:10 AM
Comment #276954

you can’t give people something for nothing. NOW repubs think this? you have been given a free ride for 8 years. social services were shut down fire departments, reduction in police force, empty food shelters, etc. we have been waiting for the “compassionate conservatism” to show up and fill the pantries - hasn’t happened. we were told by bush “we must not rely on gov’t to fund these projects, i will cut taxes on top brackets, and you will see the compassionate conservatives make up the difference. didn’t happen. we have found out the hard way that if left to the rich, they will not help others.

we all need to pay to be americans. if we do not - well, look in the trouble we are in.

it is not a crime to pay your fair share of taxes. it is not class warfare against the top 1% if we are asking you to pay your dues. we are asking you to pay what you did in the mid 1990’s. bush let you get a free ride, and now that ride has to end. if you can not see how deseperate we are as a country, and that your ride needs to end then there is no changing your mind.

i have never before in my life seen such promotion by tv, radio, and internet on the horrors the rich face. i mean imagine to have to pay your taxes. what a scary, scary story.

i can imagine while at the grove, all around the campfire with flashlights up to the faces “my taxes were increased”. the screams of utter terror, and the sleepless nights that follow.

now imagine the same situation, except at the gas pump, the grocery store, the phone company, electric company, that is the reality for the rest.

so, either pay your taxes or leave the country. republicans clearly despise this country, and everything it stands for. so, pay up or leave. and if you are truly wishing and hoping that we fail. you should be forced to leave.

we are ushering new hope - but you only hear “class warfare against the rich”. we are not blind. keep on that same course and you will lose all of your seats, in both houses. republicans are quickly becoming obsolete. keep fighting for the rich, keep telling america that you are carrying the burden of this great country. while all along we know who is keeping it afloat. your talking points were heard and discarded in states like indiana, and nc. you will lose the rest sticking up for the rich.

my advice for the repubs - either get real - or lose it all. fight for the rich - and get 1% of the vote. you have turned your back on the rest, and will face the consequences. turning your back on 99% of the country is the best thing you have ever done for us the dems.

so in the great words of your last representative you must “stay the course”.

Posted by: bluebuss at March 6, 2009 10:46 AM
Comment #276958

>Huh?
You said your above remarks support your statement. How so?

>another assumption on your part, and once again you would be wrong.

Prove it to me. You base your statement that my assumption is wrong based on your assumption? What kind of logic is that? It’s new to me. My assumption is based on my personal experience

>did I mention liberals?
Well….
>enjoy your short lived majority. come 2010 if the dems continue….

>comrade obamas spending….

>…it’s about failed liberal policy in california that is now being pushed at the national level.

I don’t know for sure, but aren’t Commie, Democratic, tax and spend liberals still “liberals”

I won’t even go into the nonsense about reducing spending in a contraction.

>who was this statement directed at?

The statement was directed at those that squeal like stuck pigs at a trough that they have dined at for far too long. Is that you?

>you need to open your eyes and actually look at the tax cuts. everyone who paid taxes got one. why shouldn’t everyone share in tax relief? it’s real simple the more you pay in, the more a few percentage points adds up to in savings. should we just eliminate income tax on the bottom 95%? why do you have such hatred of those who do well?

Why do you assume I hate people for being well off? It’s the difference between a regressive and progessive tax structure. The wealthy receive greater benefit and use more resources than the rest of the taxpayers, why should they pay a smaller percentage of their share? I mean come on, dbs, did you read the subject of this post by Stephen?

>did you even read my post?
Aren’t you unemployed?.. and spending your equity? You want me to wish you poorly? Sorry, I’m not into S&M, but I’m sure you can find someone to abuse you, perhaps try Craigslist:)

>nope, i worked every chance i got, because i knew there would be times when work was slow. i was self employed so unemployment was never an option, and it still isn’t.

So, you agree taxes don’t generally cause people to work less. Me, too.

>correct me if i’m wrong,..

I’m trying. I work for private engineering companies, sometimes on government funded projects, sometimes on privately funded projects.
I started out by working for a state agency for 5 years. Periodically, I have been “rented out” to governmental agencies (Corps of Engineers, Local Counties, Cities), but was still paid by a private engineering firm or contractor. Since, I have job hopped, my retirement investment has been largely up to me. I usually have medical insurance benefits, though there have been short periods where I have not. I had a heart attack a few years back, shortly after switching companies and was left holding a $40,000 medical bill for the week I spent in the hospital. I probably could have sued the new employer that dropped me like a hot rock, since I was told that full benefits began on my first day of employment.
I didn’t. I, frankly, prefer not to hassle with thieves and weasels. I try my best to avoid them. I moved on, and rebuilt my assets.

For your information, most Superintendents are continuosly employed and have benefits and retirement packages, as well as bonus incentives, unlike most construction workers, although some do go from job to job.

The job also carries enormous stress and frankly seems exhausting to me. While I would have enjoyed it for the experience and money, the travel, lack of free time for the duration of the project, and sheer madness of balancing all the conflicting egos and needs of the various parties seemed unappealing. I’m hardly bitter about it. I didn’t choose it because, given my knowledge of myself, I’d likely be dead and miserable, rather than alive and happy. Would I be richer? Perhaps. But dead and richer doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m comfortable with my economic situation. There is also somewhat greater instability in the construction trade as opposed to engineering, as you can attest to. While I enjoy the commradery of “get her done” construction types, I also enjoy the analytical types of people in engineering.

Posted by: gergle at March 6, 2009 12:04 PM
Comment #276962

Marysdude writes; “…why would that be somehow un-American? Obama is a Democrat, and Democrats believe that unions are a great part of the successes of America.”

It is obvious to me that Marysdude is talking about two America’s. In one America only union members have a chair at the pig fest. In the other America, R’s, D’s and I’s who are not union members can wait outside the grand PO banquet hall and hope for scraps. One not need wonder what is happening to our great country when such an overt act of political debt paying, funded by all the taxpayers, and such selfish attitudes is defended and espoused by some of her citizens.

Marysdude refers to unions as “a great part of the successes of America.”

I wouldn’t disagree. Does that exclude all others from contributing to the success of America? Perhaps Marysdude can tell us why his union neighbor is more deserving of government lard than his non-union relative or friend?

It also makes we wonder how union members who are Republican’s or Independents will be ferreted out and removed from job sites being paid for by our collective taxes.

I also wonder if PO’s focus on NHC will cover only union members or will it include even some of us belonging to the great “unwashed”.

I await the day when PO steps to the microphone to read from the teleprompter than his new NHC plans will apply only to union members.

Posted by: Jim M at March 6, 2009 12:35 PM
Comment #276968

“You said your above remarks support your statement. How so?”

and they do. was the first response by you after i replied to bills not directed at me? if it wasn’t i appologise. so tell if it wasn’t, then who was it directed at?

sorry i don’t, and never have made 250k a year. so if it was directed at me, once again you were wrong. all the proof i need.

didn’t bills say that no one who makes 250k a year works hard? sorry still a narrow minded and ignorant statement. and once again wrong.

my understanding was that you were responding to one reply i made to bills, but as far as california goes i stand by my remarks. spending problem pure and simple. the state is controlled by liberal democrats, and a governor with no backbone. view the links i provided.



“I won’t even go into the nonsense about reducing spending in a contraction.”

good, then i won’t ask about last year the year before, or the year before that……you get the picture. BTW i’m refering to CA.

you said:
“Sincerely, dbs, I wish you well. I know how “easy” your job is.”

what does this mean? i know how easy your job is? thats wishing me well?

I said:
“did you even read my post? appearently not.”

you said:
“Aren’t you unemployed?.. and spending your equity? You want me to wish you poorly? Sorry, I’m not into S&M, but I’m sure you can find someone to abuse you, perhaps try Craigslist:)”

what does this have to do with you telling me know how easy my job is?

Posted by: dbs at March 6, 2009 1:09 PM
Comment #276978

dbs,

The comments were directed at those to whom it applies, as explained in my previous response.

Bills was accurately observing that many people who make high income thinkthey work hard. Compared to those who struggle at the lower end of the pay scale, they don’t. They have a choice about when to work long hours, generally. The peons don’t. I don’t know bills, I don’t know you. I do know several contractors and engineers that make substantial incomes. None of them work as hard as they did when they were coming up. It’s the whole point of making it. Of course, most of them will argue they still work hard. I differ with that opinion. I’m not saying they haven’t earned their leisure, or never put in a long day, but sadly, many of them become disconnected from the struggles of those who aren’t in their position, perhaps it’s due to guilt.

I should note I have worked directly for millionaires, being very aware of their lifestyle and work habits. I have helped several start their businesses and expand them. One engineer, who I deeply respect, once made a comment about a health savings account benefit at his company. He didn’t understand why more people didn’t contribute $2000 anually to it. What was beyond his grasp was that many of his employees didn’t have an extra $2000 to park on the gamble they might need to spend it.

Regarding California, since this thread is about more than California, and since you said Obama was adopting California’s scenario, I think to now claim you were limiting your remarks to that state is a little non-sequiter, but okay.

Sarcasm, I guess, doesn’t always translate well. The quotes were meant to convey that. I was saying the opposite of that, that your job is not easy. I have no desire to wish you ill will. The S&M Craigslist comment was a joke, thus the smiley.

Posted by: gergle at March 6, 2009 4:03 PM
Comment #276979

gergle

“Regarding California, since this thread is about more than California, and since you said Obama was adopting California’s scenario, I think to now claim you were limiting your remarks to that state is a little non-sequiter, but okay.”

maybe i should have put it this way. i stand by my statements about california, and it is my opinion based on what i’ve seen that the democrats are attempting the same thing at the federal level. the obama comment was directed at stephen, so i guess by the time you and i started our exchange i was focused on the comment you originally adressed, my mistake.

“Sarcasm, I guess, doesn’t always translate well. The quotes were meant to convey that. I was saying the opposite of that, that your job is not easy. I have no desire to wish you ill will. The S&M Craigslist comment was a joke, thus the smiley.”

no problem, must have overlooked the smiley in my haste to reply.

BTW you said you grew up in ohio. do you still live there? i just recently moved there from california. i live in a small town @ an hour northwest of columbus in bellefontaine. maybe you know where that is. finding a job around here is a real bitch when you’re an outsider.

Posted by: dbs at March 6, 2009 4:46 PM
Comment #277008

dbs,

No, I’m in Houston, Texas. I grew up near Dayton, in a town called Xenia. I’ve heard of Bellefontaine, don’t think I’ve ever been there.

Good Luck, Ohio’s economy has been dead for years. I moved in the 70’s.

Posted by: gergle at March 7, 2009 2:13 AM
Comment #277010

Jim M,

Since Obama has indicated that he wishes an America which is ‘all inclusive’, I doubt he has said anything about selecting union programs exclusively. You can rail against the stimulus all you want, but to indicate that a Democrat should not prefer ‘union made’, or ‘made in America’ is just ridiculous.

Your rant was way over the top for the subject being talked about.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 7, 2009 5:45 AM
Comment #277020

Gergle:

Bills was accurately observing that many people who make high income thinkthey work hard. Compared to those who struggle at the lower end of the pay scale, they don’t.

In general people at the top of the pay scale work many more hours, are far more likely to be married, and also far more likely therefore to have two incomes in the homes.

Lower income workers are far more likely to be single and work only part time.

What is troubling to me is that Stephen is very quick in his post above to suggest that the group of people that work the most hours and have the highest number of workers per household work more to replace their lost income due to higher coming taxes.

The only real way to help the working poor is not through handouts but job training and education. With that type of program everyone benefits. Telling the wealthy they need to pay a bit more to provide job training is an entirely different animal. The affluent also benefit because they get a more productive workforce. Also the working poor benefit in that the qualify for jobs that are more likely to be full time with benefits.

The current plan from Obama of wealth redistribution looks to me like it will have a moral hazard of increasing the number of under productive citizens and discourage those at the top from taking risk.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 7, 2009 10:35 AM
Comment #277023

gergle

i know where xenia is. where you there during the super outbreak in 74? we’re off RT 68 about 25 miles north of I-70.

i have a friend that wants to do some property developement in the austin area, and he wants me to help him. in acouple years that may be an option. right now he’s getting hammered by the stock market so it’ll have to wait.

good luck to you too.

Posted by: dbs at March 7, 2009 11:11 AM
Comment #277036

No, but I was there the next day. I lived near Cincinnati at the time, but my sister’s boyfriend (now husband) was there and she was freaking out based on the news reports. He was fine, but the damage from that F-5 was incredible, like a giant bulldozer had bladed off a half mile wide, several mile long swath. I’m amazed only 30 odd people died.

Posted by: gergle at March 7, 2009 2:43 PM
Comment #277038

Craig,

Frankly, I’m not sure where you get the idea that low income workers are part time, unless you mean students or people unable to find full time work.

Sorry, but I just don’t buy your idea about high income folks working longer hours. It just isn’t true. Mid level managers put in long hours. Execs occasionally do, but mostly have a great deal more free time. I do know some people making close to $200,000 who work a lot, but it is their choice. They want the lifestyle. They like to work. They don’t have kids. Families typically have one parent who either doesn’t work or has a more flexible schedule. The wealthy have options. The poor don’t.

I’m sorry but if you’re looking for pity for someone who wants to put in longer hours for greater reward, who now has to pay higher taxes than the historically low and unjust taxes they have been paying, your just not going to convince me with these weak arguments. These people aren’t going to work less or suffer greatly. The American people simply aren’t buying this sad, pathetic excuse.

Posted by: gergle at March 7, 2009 2:57 PM
Comment #277050

Eric Simonson-
People took such “punishment” in the nineties and nonetheless took the country through the most prosperous time in its history. They were “relieved” of that “punishment” and the economy has dropped to its lowest levels since that time, despite the biggest tax cuts ever.

You’re taking a much too ivory tower approach to the subject of taxation. Were you to consult the history books, you’d find that the rich were charged much greater taxes during WWII, during the 50’s and 60’s. They were absolutely confiscatory by our standards. Yet these were among our most productive times.

These also weren’t our worst times. We weren’t so enmeshed in partisanship that we didn’t realize that we were in it together, and that good governance took precedent over good politics.

I’m not saying we should return to such times, necessarily, but we have to stop employing slogan-born equations of one position with one outcome as some sort of infallible guide to the results.

Craig Holmes-

I don’t accept your premise that I am advocating that tax cuts are good and raising taxes are lethal. I am saying that tax increases slow the economy and tax cuts stimulate the economy.

You do go on to take more nuanced view, but I’m afraid even that wasn’t enough. Bush stimulated the public just the way you said with just the means you suggest to employ, and it didn’t do any good. Taxes aren’t a very strong means of improving the economy, especially when they come from deficit spending, and go to those whose buying power it will effect the least.

On your second point, the part time working is more an artifact of businesses trying to get out of providing employees with healthcare, but I don’t know where the data supports the notion that lower wage earners work fewer hours.

Third, we were running huge deficits even before the recession, and modern America’s averages have been sharply skewed by Republican deficit spending. As far as tax brackets go, you don’t give tax cuts to move the brackets, you move the ranges of income instead.

Spending was one part of this, but the Republicans spent and tax cut full well knowing what might happen.

As for the John Galt methode of dealing with the taxing and spending policy? You know, if individuals are not willing to invest, others will be, and they will out-earn the people who are dumb enough to screw their own interests. But then, given the performance of the economic elites, such a shake-up might be in order.

If people want to act silly and selfish in this day and age, they’ll do so at their own peril. Whatever they think of the rest of the 95%, if they think they can tell us off, and not see things get worse for them, they’re kidding themselves.

Rob-
If we were to increase taxes on the Middle Class and Poor, we cut into money they are very likely to spend. If we increase taxes on the Rich, we cut into money they are less likely to spend. If we cut taxes for the Poor and Middle Class, they will spend it, and being spent, it will find its way into the pockets of those running businesses, and those who employ others. We do remove some demand from the market with the rich, but not so much, per dollar, than we would remove taking it from elsewhere.

More to the point, these rises in taxes are not immediate, but begin next year, or the year after that. Obama’s immediate strategy is the tax cut.

Oh, and my argument is this: even if you are already above the threshold, and your taxes increase, though you would get a pay cut, your earnings would still be greater than if you somehow managed to lower your income to get under the threshold. There’s no real gain in the kind of evasive manuevers spoken of in the articles that I link to in my primary entry.

Jim M-
All the leaders of your party in the Senate have a stake in the pork on that spending bill.

Oh, and what you’re missing is this basic rule: people always feel something spent out of pocket more than something they get on credit. If you get all these wonderful programs and wage all these wonderful wars, but don’t have to pay for it, your economic self-interest, that is, the fact you will have to pay for it one day, will be vague.

If, however, you do feel the cost coming out of your paycheck, you might examine things with a more critical eye, because you know its your money, and your problem. Deficit spending makes the costs somebody else’s problem.

Which is why under most circumstances, I’d be against a large load of deficit spending. I do believe in pay-go, but I also have my eyes open and see a deflationary spiral on the way, and that’s not something we can take lightly.

I think the point should be made here and now that this is not free money. It’s a leveraged down payment on getting no further into our economic deflation than we have to, and for no longer than necessary.

kctim-
The question is whether you see the condition of the lower economic classes in incidental, rather than systematic terms. If you’re talking incidental terms, voluntary charity is fine. But if we’re talking a widespread social and economic problem, then voluntary spending can’t hope to match up.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 7, 2009 6:25 PM
Comment #277138

Stephen:

It’s really true, the affluent work many more house per household than the working poor. First of all the working poor are much more likely to be a single head of household. The affluent are far more likely to be married. Secondly, they work more hours per working persons.

One reason they are affluent (of course there are others) is their work ethic.

Here is one link. I can find more if you want.

http://www.parapundit.com/archives/005515.html


So your plan and Obama’s appears to be to tax those who work the most, and give it to those who work the least.

And as for the bottom 95%, I’m in that group. Easily in that group. I just think it’s utter stupidity to not expect a minority to react in our country when they are singled out. Especially when they control most of the wealth in our country. We are seeing that reaction right now. The S&P 500 was 1200 when Obama went ahead in the polls.

Obama will figure it out. He is a bright guy. He will figure out that he can work with the top 5% or he is gone. His choice.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 9, 2009 1:06 AM
Comment #277149

Craig,

Are you saying that the reason all poor people are poor, and that all people who are needy in some way are just sorry-assed, lazy creatures who don’t deserve to live in the same world with you? That is how you come across…you say those who have made it successfully in life are that way because they worked harder? I beg your pardon, there are huge numbers of folks who have done slave labor, but never ‘made’ it to what you would deem ‘success’. Then there are those who never had to work a day in their lives, but who live high on the hog anyway…let’s not talk about them though…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 9, 2009 10:15 AM
Comment #277177

Marysdude:

Not at all. I’m stating a fact that affluent work more hours than the poor. The affluent are more likely to be married and have two wager earners per household with each making more money.

I disagree with taxing those working more hours, (not those working “harder”, as I don’t have a clue whose job is “harder”). and giving the money to those who do not work at many hours.

I would prefer instead those dollars taken from those working the more hours be put into the only true way to help the working poor which is increasing their job skills. In this manner, not only do the working poor improve their lives, but they also increase their productivity and earn more dollars for the affluent. It’s an everyone win kinda thing.

I strongly disagree with Stephen’s suggestion that the affluent (who now work the most hours) should simply work harder to make up for the lost income due to Obama’s tax plan.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 9, 2009 2:02 PM
Comment #277279

Let’s see…many modern families have two or more wage earners…ma of those wage earners must now work at two or more jobs, i.e. wait tables during the day, and perhaps clean offices at night, just to maintain headway. Some have more than one wage earner working double shifts or a job and a half…but, the more affluent work more hours? By which measurement? Are you talking about working more constructively for more hour? Having more skills for more hours?

The more affluent don’t work more hours, they merely have the opportunity to work all those hours at one job. They elect to work more hours, while the unclean masses HAVE to do so to survive.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 10, 2009 9:27 AM
Comment #277286

Marysdude:

The affluent work more hours period. They also have more workers per household and are more likely to be married.

I’m not arguing who has the tougher life or who works the hardest. My argument is that give aways do not work. It’s the old give a man a fish, or teach a man to fish thing.

I can appreciate life is hard at the bottom of the economic ladder. What I am saying is that the only true way to help lower income workers is by improving their job skills. By the way for better or worse this thought comes from Ben Bernanke.

Let’s see…many modern families have two or more wage earners…ma of those wage earners must now work at two or more jobs, i.e. wait tables during the day, and perhaps clean offices at night, just to maintain headway. Some have more than one wage earner working double shifts or a job and a half…but, the more affluent work more hours? By which measurement? Are you talking about working more constructively for more hour? Having more skills for more hours?

This is not an accurate characterization of the working poor. Most working poor have one wage earner working less than 40 hours/week. Many have one worker, working part time.

The working poor spend more time on liesure than the affluent (about 30%). We need to help the working poor to spend less time on liesure and more time on education.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 10, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #277298

Marysdude:

You and I could work well together on this issue. I learned in my school board training that in negotiations when two parties have the same interest, there is room for an agreement.

We are both interested in helping the working poor. My point is that the only true way that I know of based on research is improving their skills. All the rest from what I understand just creates a class of people dependent on the government waiting for more handouts.

I do not believe it is “fair” to take money away from those who work the most hours, and give to those who work the least hours when giving them money (tax credits) over time only produces dependency, and has no benefit to the taxpayer.

On the other hand, giving the working poor tuition credits!! count me in. It works!! And the top 5% benefit as well by having better trained employees. Everyone wins.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 10, 2009 1:26 PM
Comment #277355

Stephen,

You said, “Oh, and my argument is this: even if you are already above the threshold, and your taxes increase, though you would get a pay cut, your earnings would still be greater than if you somehow managed to lower your income to get under the threshold. There’s no real gain in the kind of evasive manuevers spoken of in the articles that I link to in my primary entry.”

Agree completely. My point is that your explanation of the idiocy of those that would seek to reduce their income to avoid higher taxes whether intentional or not downplays that there is a real impact to those paying the higher taxes.

Real Americans are being asked to sacrifice more of their money. Rationalizing that they can handle it better than others or that they can afford it still does not erase this fact. We should acknowledge it, and we should be willing to say that we are going to do something to try to make that sacrifice as short-lived as possible.

You also say, “We do remove some demand from the market with the rich, but not so much, per dollar, than we would remove taking it from elsewhere.” While I agree with the premise on a social justice level because widening GINI coefficients can lead to some very bad things, my response is that there is serious disagreement over this analysis.

However, a dollar spent in the economy does not by it’s very nature have a more positive outcome than a dollar invested in the economy. It depends on where the dollar is spent and where it is invested to determine what the net impact will have. Taken on aggregate the same is true.

Let’s take an example, you and I have $50. I am poor so I go to Wal-Mart and stock up on household supplies, I buy vacuum cleaner bags, a toothbrush, deoderant, a new clock radio to replace the one a broke, and trashbags. Many if not all of those items are foriegn manufactured. How many times is my dollar multiplied in the U.S. economy? You are rich, and you invest your $50 in Google stock, nearly but not all of that investment will be spent in human capital that resides in the U.S. How many times is your dollar multiplied in the economy? You can create a scenario that is exactly the opposite. The analysis to aggregate all of the possible scenarios is immenesly complicated, and I do not believe that it is a settled question of economic fact. If I’m wrong, please cite the studies that support your argument.

Posted by: Rob at March 11, 2009 12:08 AM
Comment #277362

Rob,

Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy did not get spent on OUR economy. Not since the mid-eighties, in any case. Tax cuts have been used to hire an illegal work force, to outsource labor and jobs and to relocate manufacturing overseas. Those tax breaks have caused far more harm to our economy than any trickle-down good that might have been done.

It might be different in a Republican dream-world, but in real life those tax cuts have done serious damage to America.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 11, 2009 2:31 AM
Comment #277400

Marysdude:

Nafta had a bit to do with what you are talking about. I get tired of this “it’s all the Republican’s fault” line.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 11, 2009 12:55 PM
Comment #277584

Marysdude:

It might be different in a Republican dream-world, but in real life those tax cuts have done serious damage to America.

You are aware that revenues into the US Treasury before the recession were very much in line with historical averages. (Well, post WWII anyway).

With Bush’s taxcuts in place we do not have a revenue issue in this country. The only revenue issue is for those that want to increase spending over the post WWII period averages.

We do have a spending issue in both parties. That I will not only concede but proclaim.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 13, 2009 2:46 PM
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