Sunshine on the Draculeft

INCOME GAP WIDENING! HEALTHCARE DISASTER! The well-worn dogma of the left is that modern American economics is a horror tale for the working folk. Well, Not so fast. A couple of articles on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal cast a little sunshine on the left’s own dark lair.

I can hear the howls now. Portraying the political left in the same light (or lack thereof) as the vampires of old? The gall! Think of it, though. Something that promises eternal life gets transplanted from places where it has held fast for ages, a place where it has sapped the lifeblood of the region, to a new place filled with life. In Bram Stoker's Dracula the story's namesake has so devastated the Carpathian region (interestingly enough, modern-day former Soviet satellites Romania, Slovakia, and the Ukraine) in which he originated that he needs new sources of life on which to feed. He leaves his native land to take up residence in England, where he starts an "ever widening circle of darkness". In real life Europe today, and in much of American culture, there are people who wax nostalgic eighteen years after the fall of the Berlin wall for the old promises of Communism and the socialist ideal. Never do they suspect they are speaking of the governmentalized version of the vampire.

Of course, Stoker himself was obliquely commenting on the theater culture he knew so well, but his villain is so like a modern politician its difficult to read his book and not see "public servants' on every page. Dracula can't enter a room uninvited, but he is able to hypnotize people into powerlessness against his entreaties. Everywhere he goes he leaves people unable to exist without sucking off the still living folk around them. He can't survive in sunshine. The whole story is fraught with parallels to modern politics.

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal stories cut through some of the hypnotism. The first article, the top editorial for Tuesday, Nov.13, is linked above. It takes note of a new Treasury department study of income mobility in the American economy from 1996 to 2005 after an examination of over 96,000 income tax returns. The Journal's editorial writers note that, according to the study-

"One of the notable, and reassuring, findings is that nearly 58% of filers who were in the poorest income group in 1996 had moved into a higher income category by 2005. Nearly 25% jumped into the middle or upper-middle income groups, and 5.3% made it all the way to the highest quintile."

This may not fly smack in the face of the left's wisdom from-on-high, but another tidbit from the study does-
"The Treasury study found that those tax filers who were in the poorest income quintile in 1996 saw a near doubling of their incomes (90.5%) over the subsequent decade. Those in the highest quintile, on the other hand, saw only modest income gains (10%). The nearby table tells the story, which is that the poorer an individual or household was in 1996 the greater the percentage income gain after 10 years."

Added to that is a third piece of information that gives the lie to what the left has been selling us for decades in an attempt to suck the lifeblood out of the least popular economic quintile.
"Only one income group experienced an absolute decline in real income--the richest 1% in 1996. Those households lost 25.8% of their income. Moreover, more than half (57.4%) of the richest 1% in 1996 had dropped to a lower income group by 2005. Some of these people might have been "rich" merely for one year, or perhaps for several, as they hit their peak earning years or had some capital gains windfall."

This reflects a simple fact of life those who want to play the envy card don't care to have you thinking about. Most people in high risk entrepreneurial employment, sales, and the self-employed make wildly fluctuating incomes from one year to the next. They may only be "rich" for a single year. (My own highest income year, 1997, was nearly 40% above any other of my more than 30 years of filing tax returns.) Liberal policies treat these people with the same disdainful envy as they apply to those who make consistent high incomes, though the long-term earning (and saving) capability of the two types of earners are highly assymetrical.

The bottom line on the Treasury Department study is that, to keep their supply of lifeblood donors steady, the left is willing to hypnotize us with falsehoods about the makeup of what they categorize as "the rich" and misrepresent the supposed plight of "the poor". It is no surprise we would not see this form of sunshine proffered by those who need us uninformed, fearful, and jealous so that we would bare the necks of others to their predations.

A second article on page A25 in the same day's Journal deals with the health care situation, challenging received wisdom on how healthcare costs are affecting our international competitveness. In "The Health Cost Myth" John R. Graham looks at a recent economic analysis of the cost of healthcare in western nations and comes to some surprising conclusions. First he notes that recent declines in the availability of health insurance are largely among firms employing ten or fewer people. These have been in part the result of ever more onerous regulatory burdens being placed on the sort of coverage such firms can offer. Secondly, he shows that, far from placing a greater burden on the economy as a whole, the freedom to forgo such coverages in lieu of higher wages makes the products of these small firms more competitive on world markets and increases American incomes in comparison with European competitors!
In service of this argument he notes the following study-

"Robert L. Ohsfeldt and John R. Schneider of the American Enterprise Institute have determined that health spending increases at a constant rate of about 8% for every $1,000 increase in GDP per capita. For example, if GDP rises from $30,000 per capita to $31,000, health spending increases by $232. But if GDP per capita rises from $40,000 to $41,000, health spending increases by $500.
Thus, because Americans earn so much more than people in other countries, it naturally follows that we spend more on health care."

Graham does not argue that there is no cause for alarm in the matter of health care, just that the universal model favored by the left bleeds productivity from the marketplace and ultimately leads to a lower overall quality of care. He quantifies the income advantage given to American workers by our present system thusly-
"Look at it this way: Even after paying for our health care, Americans have far more money left over than their neighbors to spend on other goods and services. It works out to about $8,000 more than the average German or Frenchman, and about $4,000 more than the average Canadian or Briton."

There are painful choices to be made in dealing with healthcare, but the extra average income Americans enjoy allows them to make those choices themselves, as opposed to having them imposed on them by others. He closes his argument with the following-
"Crusaders for “universal” health care allege that America’s unique lack of government-mandated coverage is a handicap to the nation’s competitiveness. Given America’s superior economic performance, however, it is a uniqueness we should not rush to abandon."

To that I can only say "Amen".
As one might expect of folks who eschew sunshine the left can't understand how economic structures not suspended from above work. Our answer is to point out that economic structures built from the ground up may not create the kind of easily identifiable 'intelligent design' solutions socialists prefer, and they may look uneven (as though there were no rich people in modern socialist systems) but they place the society as a whole on a higher level. Where the left would impose ever more arcane, dank, unlit structures to solve serious issues we simply want more sensible market structures (like portability, comparable a la carte insurance products, an end to denial for preexisting conditions, etc.) and transparency in the markets themselves.

Bleeding the most productive people in society to feed the government vampire's desperate minions may seem like a good idea if you are one of the minions. Those resources are the assets by which the rest of us are employed, though. It's a bad idea if you are not ready to see an ever widening circle of darkness in the economy. Once that lifeblood is finally gone, as it was in the old Eastern Bloc in the '80s, even the minions suffer.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at November 13, 2007 8:31 PM
Comments
Comment #238315

First do you find it reassuring that, despite all this income mobility, the income inequality has increased? Inequality is ok if the faces change? Me, I don’t get that logic.

Second, you wrote

the freedom to forgo such coverages in lieu of higher wages makes the products of these small firms more competitive on world markets
Gee, if a company doesn’t give it’s workers coverage, they make more money! What a novel concept! So does that make it okay that they don’t give their workers the coverage they need? Again, a logic that escapes me.

Third, yes I do find your constant references to Carpathian bloodsuckers annoying. I’ve never understood the point of view that people with economic problems are nothing but lazy leeches sucking the life out of good, hard-working Americans. If there are those who need help, why not help them? Will there be those that abuse such help? Of course. But to dismiss everyone who needs help is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at November 14, 2007 10:56 AM
Comment #238318

leatherankh,

You said…

“yes I do find your constant references to Carpathian bloodsuckers annoying.”

Hey…it’s all good.

Over here in the red column, Liberals are vampires.

Over in the blue column, Conservatives are Nazis (see Wiretapping Companies: I did what I was told over there).

One more reason I’m an Independant.

Posted by: Jim T at November 14, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #238319

“Gee, if a company doesn’t give it’s workers coverage, they make more money! What a novel concept! So does that make it okay that they don’t give their workers the coverage they need? Again, a logic that escapes me”

Company “A” pays more, but offers no coverage.
Company “B” pays less, but offers coverage.

If you choose to work for Company “A,” shouldn’t employees use their difference in pay to provide for coverage themselves?
Or, if they are not responsible enough for themselves, shouldn’t they choose to work Company “B?”

Posted by: kctim at November 14, 2007 11:32 AM
Comment #238335

kctim,

Are Americans going to pay for their own coverage with all that “extra money” they make? Americans also usually have education debt to pay for, not to mention that when you get cancer not every business holds on to you for the duration. Does your average Joe have enough to pay for that? Why is it European governments pay less for quality healthcare free for everyone than we do?

Me, I would accept free healthcare for life, and never worry about having to take a job I hate or being bankrupted from some kind of disaster over $4000 a year.

Posted by: Max at November 14, 2007 1:19 PM
Comment #238336

Lee
FYI,The opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal are a propaganda organ.Heretofor the WSJ has done at least a decent job of separting it from the news operation but with Murdoch taking over that is not likely to continue.

The averages you site,Britian,Cananda etc, are meaningless. If you average my net worth with Bill Gates we have an average worth of about 32 billion. Tell my creditors that,please.
If everything is so wonderful then why is the US infant mortality rate similar to Latvia? Why is our life expectancy behind several other countries?
You have exemplified the basic difference between conservative and liberal. The liberal thinks we can do better. The conservative thinks,”I got mine and changes could threaten that.”

Posted by: Bills at November 14, 2007 1:34 PM
Comment #238337

Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. testified before Congress this week:

Buffett said that in the last 20 years, tax laws have allowed the “super-rich” to get richer.

“Tax-law changes have benefited this group, including me, in a huge way,” he said. “During that time the average American went exactly nowhere on the economic scale: He’s been on a treadmill while the super rich have been on a spaceship.”

Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and George Soros all have this in common. They want the Estate Tax to remain in place.

What a bunch of dummies, eh? What the hell do they know about capitalism, America, and wealth disparity?


Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2007 1:44 PM
Comment #238338

Actually, Max, the situation is more like “Country A and country B claim to offer health coverage for life, but dual citizen of both countries works in the U.S. because that is where she can get a job. The same can be said of the complaint about the small firm being able to sell products for less.

And Leatherankh, your point about income inequality is heavily mitigated by the fact that so many of these people making the highest incomes are not permanent residents of the highest quintile, but are, over time, distributed throughout the quintiles. You can be sure the 5.3% who went from the bottom to the top, and know how tenuous the top can be and how far it is down, are trying to make the very best of being there. The essential lie of the left is to say that any year spent in the top quintile is being “rich”. Try retiring on what you could save in one year at the bottom of that bracket.

That is why I’ve characterized leftist and Democrat politicians as “Carpathian blood suckers”, to borrow your phrase. Their effect on those whom I characterized as their minions (a term which implies more voluntarism than I really want to invoke) is entirely unfortunate for those people, as it was for the common folk of the Eastern Bloc.

As it was for Dracula in the book, once everyone on whom you may feed is also undead the quality of unlife goes way down.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 14, 2007 1:50 PM
Comment #238339

David,
Not one of those guys owns a farm. Not one has to worry about not being able to leave tens of millions of liquid dollars to cover the tax liability of the family assets. Each covers his assets with a charitable trust. The bloodsuckers go out of their way to make it difficult to keep small businesses and family farms together, which ultimately leaves tens of thousands of jobs at risk every year.

Your examples need not give a hoot about their problems.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 14, 2007 1:58 PM
Comment #238340

Lee, what knee jerk response to a complicated issue. I suggest you read my article: Warren Buffet - Keep Estate Taxes ! for a more comprehensive view of the issue.

You are right that theirs is not an issue of a family farm. But, too, the Estate Tax is not taking small family farms from people. That is a Republican created myth to fight the Estate Tax issue.

Estate Taxes need not be incompatible with family farms or small businesses which continue to be operated for the benefit of the economy by the inheritors. Its the inheritors who sell the family business quitting the economically productive endeavor that should incur an estate tax. As Buffet argues, Estate Taxes are actually better for capitalist economics in the long run than not having Estate Taxes. Estate Taxes spur entrepreneurial activity over generations. Massive accumulation of wealth in a small number of families does not.

“Paris Hilton may be talented in the beds of the Hilton Hotel chain, but, she shows no signs of having the talent needed to put inherited wealth to productive entrepreneurial use creating more business, new technologies, more jobs, and new wealth.”

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2007 2:11 PM
Comment #238342

“Estate Taxes need not be incompatible with family farms or small businesses which continue to be operated for the benefit of the economy by the inheritors”

Then they ARE incompatible with family farms or small businesses which continue to be operated for the benefit of their OWNERS? Or do you think the government owns these family farms and small businesses?

Posted by: tomd at November 14, 2007 2:27 PM
Comment #238347

tomd, Estate Taxes need not apply to family farms where the inheritors elect to continue to operate the farm. If they sell it however, then estate taxes should apply, IF the proceeds meet the requisite amount. In case you were unaware, Estate Taxes don’t apply to inheritance under a certain substantial dollar amount.

For this year, individual estates valued at more than $2 million are taxed at a top rate of 45 percent. By 2009, estates valued at less than $3.5 million will be exempt.

So, unless you are inheriting more than 2 million this year, or more than 3.5 million in 2009, you incur NO estate taxes.

What Congress has to deal with is the expiration of this law, because, in 2011 it is scheduled to return to a top rate of 55 percent on estates worth more than $1 million. What is needed is a graduated rate, something like 10% on 1 million to 2 million, 20% on 2+ million to 3 million. 30% on 3 million to 4 million. And 45% on 4+ million and above, with inflation adjustments of course.

And as I recommend, no Estate Tax on small business or farm assets as long as the inheritor’s primary occupation is the daily operations of that small business or farm.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2007 2:48 PM
Comment #238352

David,

We can go round and round about this, but Estate Taxes are WRONG. I understand that they are legal, but they are WRONG.

If you, I, or anyone else manages to accumulate wealth during their lifetime it is wrong to take any part of that wealth because they die.

Of course in your world, the government owns the wealth and only allows the poor sucker, who worked for it all his life, to use it as long as he follows instructions and don’t get too successful.

Posted by: tomd at November 14, 2007 3:11 PM
Comment #238359

They are wrong according you and those who just lost power in the U.S. Congress. Doesn’t say much for your case.

Our nation has a 9+ trillion dollar debt and 400 billion a year in interest payments on that debt. The money to deal with that debt must come from somewhere. Those who can pay to reduce that debt without losing quality of life is a just and righteous argument.

So, I would have to disagree with your assessment. They are not wrong. They are necessary. Saying Estate Taxes are wrong is like saying Daylight is bad because it causes skin cancer. The world simply cannot survive without daylight. Neither can a society function or sustain itself without taxes.

Taxing the non-wealthy, and thus reducing their consumption, while exempting the wealthy from taxation, is not sound economic practice. No one in this country gets wealthy and remains wealthy without enormous assist by the U.S. federal government and the people of America who maintain that government.

Reality trumps ideology every time. As it must. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the government going deeper into debt creates a necessity for increasing revenues without harming people’ s lifestyle. The wealthiest in America will remain the wealthiest in America, even after estate taxation. It is not wrong. It is necessary.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2007 3:39 PM
Comment #238371

David wrote-
“And as I recommend, no Estate Tax on small business or farm assets as long as the inheritor’s primary occupation is the daily operations of that small business or farm.”

That is cold comfort to an employee of the farm or business when the heirs are not operators. This is what I mean by blood sucking. The government doesn’t care who it hurts or how much it damages business productivity. My brother was once forced to pay $60,000.00 in taxes (A.M.T.) after he had paid himself only $12,000.00 for a year as he struggled to build a business. That cost at least three workers their jobs and damaged the productivity of his business! Did the blood suckers care? Hell no.

Government, the people who work for all of us, believe we owe everything to them. Just see what happens if you don’t pay your government rent (property taxes) in Texas.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 14, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #238372

David
Why should you or I have the right to determine what anothers quality of life is?
What is so just and righteous about telling another person how they should live their life or what to believe?

Taxing the non-wealthy while exempting the wealthy from taxation?
While that creates a false sense of “unfairness” and makes many “envious,” it is nothing but spinning in order to make people believe it is ok to take advantage of a minority of the population.

IF, the non-wealthy paid such steep estate taxes and the wealthy did not, THEN you could say the wealthy were exempt from paying the same taxation penalties.

And if “reality trumps ideology every time,” then why is ok for special interest groups to use govt to increase revenue when it does harm the peoples lifestyle?
Universal healthcare will affect my lifestyle in a major way, why do others get to make that decision for me?

Estate taxes are wrong and very unfair. And if Buffet has no problem with them or wants them to be higher, then he can always send them or even more of his empire to the govt to pay for the things he “says” he believes in.

Posted by: kctim at November 14, 2007 5:33 PM
Comment #238374

If you believe in equality of opportunity then you must support an estate tax. If you believe unearned payments to the poor breed idolance and sloth then for the same you must support an estate tax. If you think dynastic wealth and power is conter to the best interest of the country then you must support an estate tax. If you like the idea of being ruled by kings and princes then by all means oppose inheritance taxes.I thought we fought a war against that.

Lee
It has already been pointed out that the loss of farms etc. is a myth. Another myth by the same mill is that of double taxation. First off double taxation occurs all the time. For example when you buy a fishing lincense,driver license,park fee,bridge toll,sales tax, you are being taxed on money that has already been taxed. Another important point is that among large estates more than halfthe amounts are usually comprised of unrealized capital gains that have NEVER been taxed.Isn’t it fair to others that have paid capital gains to have these taxed at least at the capital gains tax rate?

Posted by: BillS at November 14, 2007 5:43 PM
Comment #238379

kctim, blah, blah, blah. Our nation needs tax revenues. The wealthiest, as the poor minority your heart bleeds for,, are the one’s most able to contribute without losing their status as a consumer or well off. That is fact.

A second fact is, as I have pointed out to you many times, the wealthiest derive the greatest benefits and services and consume more government services than the non-wealthy. Hence, their paying at least the SAME rate of tax as the non-wealthy is warranted, fair, and just.

The people I hear your argument from mostly are those with greed in their agenda and the hope of one day being wealthy themselves and hording it. Some very big names in the super wealthy circle this country are backing the Estate Tax as a keeper, as my article points out. Apparently ‘noblesse oblige’ is Greek to many who don’t actually run in the circles of the super wealthy who created their own wealth. (In fact, it’s French.)

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2007 7:12 PM
Comment #238380

Lee said: “My brother was once forced to pay $60,000.00 in taxes (A.M.T.) after he had paid himself only $12,000.00 for a year as he struggled to build a business.”

I have to question the veracity of that comment, since the AMT applies to personal income, not business assets. Claiming $12,000 annual income does not trigger the Alternative Minimum Tax. Sorry.

Try again, Lee, maybe with a comment with more credibility.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2007 7:18 PM
Comment #238383

David,

You express it so well…”From each according to his means…To each according to his needs”

Posted by: tomd at November 14, 2007 7:34 PM
Comment #238401

Vampires, eh? I know the Republicans are big on fantasy, but this is is pushing the bounds of plausibility.

First, inflation is having a profound effect, especially on food and other necessities. Dollar’s buying less. People are carrying more debt, with less ability to offload it. As for healthcare? Don’t even ask. The companies find every reason not to deliver on the product they’ve sold us.

If anybody’s being sucked dry, it’s consumers. But consumers are not the main focus of movement conservatism or political conservatism, corporations are. We’re all supposed to beg for scraps from their table, and just gut it out if they leave us starving.

A little history lesson: when Marie Antoinette supposedly said “let them eat cake”, the better translation is “let them eat crumbs” Makes a little bit more sense if you’re trying to figure out why people got a bit put out with her. We’re told that America is the most prosperous country in the world, but in the last few decades we’ve seen less and less return on our investment of work and education. We’ve been forced to rely more and more on debt to buy the products we need and want, and are now afforded fewer and fewer options for getting out from under that debt.

And no, for the hundredth time, we’re not seeing much of the money out of those tax breaks going to the rich, nor are those tax cuts making up for the revenues they give up with growth in the economy.

Maybe if Republicans quit trying to convince people they were prosperous, and actually did what it took to make sure wealth was spread more equitably, that economic interactions were fairer, they’d win more elections. At this point, they aren’t fooling anybody.

Except those who take the Op-Ed page of the WSJ as gospel truth, that is. America’s tried things the Republican way for a generation. It’s failed, on multiple levels. The time has come for something new.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 14, 2007 10:08 PM
Comment #238411

Lee, they based this study on tax returns and the richest 1% loss 25% of their income over the decade. Do you think that tax strategies available to the rich may have skewered the results of this study?

“The Treasury study found that those tax filers who were in the poorest income quintile in 1996 saw a near doubling of their incomes (90.5%) over the subsequent decade. Those in the highest quintile, on the other hand, saw only modest income gains (10%). The nearby table tells the story, which is that the poorer an individual or household was in 1996 the greater the percentage income gain after 10 years.”

“Only one income group experienced an absolute decline in real income—the richest 1% in 1996. Those households lost 25.8% of their income.

So the top 1% of incomes in the country only went up 10% but they still lost 25% of their income? what does that mean? Is this “study” edited by the white house or am I missing something?

Anyway on to percentages. The poor who work for minimum wage say $6.00 in 1996 a decade later and with all that experience and probable advancement on the job now make $11/hr. But didnt say gas for example go up from 70 cents to $2 a gallon. So percentage wise, on paper at least, they are really not doing as well as they were in 1996 as far as buying power, right?
Now the atheletes, actors, musicians, CEO etc in the 1% have peaked in their career and are not making as much income wise but did make enough to buy houses, invest etc. are financially stable and able to make decent livings as part of the top 5%. New atheletes, actors muscians, and CEO have stepped into the top 1% and are only seeing the 10% increases from the average of all 1%ers because they are the 5.3% that just moved through the ranks to the top. Do they really notice this modest increase they are suffering? Another thing that strikes me as strange, if your at the bottom of the income groups in 1996 and have moved up presumably someone has taken your place. Are they still making the $6/hr despite the inflation of the decade in question? If so the poor have gotten poorer right. The previously poor are making more but still sinking compared to inflation right?
One last point, When your at the top 1% just how much higher can you go compared to someone in the bottom 20%. Wouldnt you think there are less jobs, careers etc that pay in the top 1% versus jobs, careers etc. that pay in the bottom 20%? So while I try to see your point it appears it just doesnt add up its well.. smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 15, 2007 12:52 AM
Comment #238421

kctim,

Company “A” pays more, but offers no coverage. Company “B” pays less, but offers coverage.

If you choose to work for Company “A,” shouldn’t employees use their difference in pay to provide for coverage themselves?
Or, if they are not responsible enough for themselves, shouldn’t they choose to work Company “B?”

Except Company “A” doesn’t exist actually. Instead, it’s:

Company “C” pays like “B” but offers no coverage.

And it does make “C” companies more competitive. So “B” companies are turning more and more into “C” ones. And the mythical worker choice shrink… like his health.

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 15, 2007 6:08 AM
Comment #238422

So it ends up to “who cares about Healthcare Cost, we’re the wealthiest in the world”?

Too much fiscal conservatism for me!
Oh, and I’m sure the less wealthy Americans won’t share the same point of view…

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 15, 2007 6:15 AM
Comment #238427

David wrote-
“I have to question the veracity of that comment, since the AMT applies to personal income, not business assets. Claiming $12,000 annual income does not trigger the Alternative Minimum Tax. Sorry.”

I may err, David, but I do not lie. Do not question my honesty.
To figure the AMT the I.R.S. imputed the increased value of the corporation to my brother’s income, thus negating his effort at thrift for the sake of building the company. That meant the added tax burden had to be taken directly out of company assets. This was a move on the part of the I.R.S. that, frankly, astonished even his lawyers.

It was a simple case-in-point of the government sticking it to someone for the sake of sticking it to someone. At the time my brother was living in one room of my parent’s home and driving a ten-year-old Honda so that he could buy equipment that would allow him to make more caulk of better quality than his regional competitors. He, and the employees of his company, were punished, pure and simple, for diligently trying to grow his company.

I have no quarrel with the government collecting taxes for legitimate public interests. I am deeply troubled, no, furious, however at the way taxes are designed to do the government’s dirty deeds (AMT), manipulate our morals (marriage penalty, set to be reinstated next year), pretend to be setting savings aside for our future while providing a slush fun with which to buy our votes (Social Security), reduce our competitiveness abroad (income taxes and corporate income taxes) and supress investment in private industry (capital gains taxes).

Let the government tax us transparently so we actively have to sign the checks and are mindful to monitor the benefits attending the expense that causes us so much pain.

The way taxation is done today is meant to hide those expenses from an unwary public. It is plain dishonesty.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 15, 2007 9:45 AM
Comment #238428

David, blah blah blah? Common response from those who have no regard to individual rights when it comes to pushing their own agenda, but I kind of didn’t expect that from you.

Yes, our govt needs revenue to run. But it is to collect revenue in order to run govt, not lives.

Greed and hording? Pu-leez!
Sure, some are greedy and never get enough. The same can be said of non-wealthy who choose to live off govt.
But the majority of people believe in working hard so that life will be better for their children. It is nothing but petty jealousy for one person to use govt to take from another because they believe that person has too much.

Instead of punishing success in order to pay for things govt has no business doing, we should be working to cut those things so govt can run govt, not lives.

Philippe
Comany “A” does exist, but good points about Company “C” my friend. In fact, I used to work for a Company “B” and now work for a Company “C” and love it.
I now get the money I earn and can use it as I please without company pressure, penalties or attempts of itimidation. (Well, except for what the govt steals from me each week)

Workers not only have a choice on where to work and for what, but also a choice on how they use the money they earn.

And of course less wealthy Americans won’t share the same point as I, they have been trained to be undisciplined and dependent on govt.

Posted by: kctim at November 15, 2007 9:50 AM
Comment #238441

kctim,

I’m puzzled. You used to worked for a “B” company type but now that you work for a “C” one you own what you earn? What do you mean. Both B & C companies pay the same, so you got what you earn in both cases.

Only now you have to pay for your coverage too.

I failed to see any benefit for you, except for the freedom to have no coverage or… being the C company owner.

Workers not only have a choice on where to work and for what, but also a choice on how they use the money they earn.

As more and more companies are turning into C ones, the choice will disappear. As the competitive gain, too.

But I agree, now workers could trade more easily their own health or - worst - their kids ones for this new plasma screen, shiny SUV or whatever the free market have to sell, sorry, offer them in order to give them a better life.

Last but not least, I often saw on this blog the expression “govt should run govt, not lives”.

Government should only run government? What the point then, if it’s only subject is itself??? Then why people should keep control him, when its purpose is clearly unrelated to them but only itself? Sounds like a very wasteful egocentric body to me. Doesn’t make any sense.

Yeah. Someone needs to define what’s a “government” purpose and how it could achieve it *without* impact people lives…

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 15, 2007 11:50 AM
Comment #238446

“Yeah. Someone needs to define what’s a “government” purpose and how it could achieve it *without* impact people lives…”

They did phillippe, it’s called the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: tomd at November 15, 2007 12:27 PM
Comment #238453

tomd, the U.S. Constitution impacts people’s lives daily. The keyword in phillipe’s sentence was “without”.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 15, 2007 12:54 PM
Comment #238455

kctim said: “David, blah blah blah? Common response from those who have no regard to individual rights when it comes to pushing their own agenda, but I kind of didn’t expect that from you.”

What individual rights would those be, kctim? Those in the Bill of Rights, or ones of your own imagination’s creation? The Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court’s decisions on those, are the only individual rights the people in this nation are guaranteed. If you are fortunate enough to enjoy other freedoms like being wealthy, so much the better for you. But, no one has a guaranteed right to be wealthy, only the right to strive for it without interference by the government without due process. Due process allows government interference. That too is in the Constitution.

I assume you respect our Constitution, right?

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 15, 2007 1:01 PM
Comment #238463

Someone needs to read his Adam Smith better, if he is annoyed with estate taxes.
Free Markets are those with liquid capital running around.
Big farms deserve just as much taxes as any other huge inheritance (monsanto anyone?) However, small farms do not deserve this same burden.

Luckily, we’ve elected Democrats who have gone on record to fix this.

It’s this funny little thing called representation.

Posted by: Myurl at November 15, 2007 4:21 PM
Comment #238464

Vlad the Impaler? Next we know you’ll be comparing the leftists to Stalin.

And Hitler? Not rightwing at all. Centrist Authoritarian. After all, nazi unions had a lot of power.

Liberally speaking,

Posted by: Myurl at November 15, 2007 4:25 PM
Comment #238472
tomd, the U.S. Constitution impacts people’s lives daily. The keyword in phillipe’s sentence was “without”.

David, don’t be hard on him, after all maybe I didn’t make clear enough the *keyword*…
;-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 15, 2007 4:50 PM
Comment #238479

Graham also wrote this in his article:

Consider four countries whose health-care systems are often held up as admirable alternatives: Canada, Germany, France and Great Britain. Certainly, the U.S. spends significantly more on health care than those countries do, but these nations also earn significantly less income per person.

Right. What is not is that with *less* income per person *all* these 4 exemplified countries have a *better* life expectancy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

In 2006, France ranked 10, Canada 11, UK 22, Germany 23 and US… 38.

Americans spend more on health care than anyone because they just can? Great. Too bad it doesn’t improve average health of your people in any visible way.
I guess it’s because the few that actually could spend more are not weighting more than the one who can’t by the UN in their report.

Damn UN!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 15, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #238490

Phillipe said: “Americans spend more on health care than anyone because they just can?”

It is much more complicated than that, Phillipe. Americans also live less healthy lifestyles, especially in the low to lower middle classes. Violent crime is significantly higher, and there is far, far more territory in the U.S. to police than any European country. It is not a simple matter of “just because they can”, though that too plays a part.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 15, 2007 7:25 PM
Comment #238491

David, you’re right obvioulsy.

But my main point is not about the money amount but the result. Which is not that good. Maybe the money *cost* is not the most sensible issue here, but *effectiveness* of your healthcare system.

Lifestyles does play a part too, no doubt. Maybe working too much hour long, eating fast and unbalanced is not the best thing to do to your health, for sure.

Europeans are more into trading earn more money with have more quality life than Americans who seems more trying to *buy* it.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 15, 2007 7:50 PM
Comment #238493

Oh, I forgot to react about this:

and there is far, far more territory in the U.S. to police than any European country.

True. US area is above twice the size of EU.

Meanwhile, EU care about near 500 millions healths, while US have “only” 300 millions. With both a similar total GDP (which indeed lead to more money per capita in US, thanks Graham for free 101 math!), EU life expectancy is still very similar to US one, a few better in fact.

Beside, size doesn’t matter that much, while effectiveness does clearly ;-)


Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 15, 2007 8:32 PM
Comment #238552

Oh, I respect the Constitution David, I just don’t respect the way its perverted to push personal agendas or buy votes.

And I apologize for using my imagination and “creating” rights which our founders had no intention of us having.
I read where our Constitution said our govt had the power to lay and collect taxes for the United States, but read right over the part where it says our govt had the power to lay and collect taxes from one and give to another. My bad.

But thats just how silly my imagination is when it comes to rights David.
I read things like “right of the people” “retained by the people” and “reserved to the people” and think of We the People. When, apparently, I should be qualifying them with “unless govt says different.”

Thanks for enlightening me David. It totally explains why we threw away a Constitutional Republic which was meant to protect the rights of all, and embraced a majority rules democracy.

Posted by: kctim at November 16, 2007 5:44 PM
Comment #238644

Lee,

Boy did you miss my point. What good is economic fluidity if the income disparity increases? As JFK said, the rising tide raises all boats, but from what you say, it’s okay for the tide to ebb as long as the people in dock can winch up their boats.

This is a further example of the to-me-inexplicable idea of the inherent morality of capitalism. If you don’t do well economically, it’s your fault for being lazy or undisciplined. There is no bad luck, there is no circumstance, there is only the equation that goodness equals income. I don’t get it.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at November 18, 2007 10:34 AM
Comment #238722

Apparently the Treasury Dept is willing to use funny math to support the Administrations point of view. Look at the statistics you quote. The 10% increase in then highest quintile may actually be more that the 90.5% increase for the lowest and may lead to an increase in the income gap. An example, take to families, the Jones have a $30,000 annual income and the Smiths have a $500,000 income. The difference in income is $470,000. A 90.5% increase for the Jones give them a $57,150 income. The 10% increase for the Smiths gives them a 550,000 income. The difference is now $492,850. The difference has increased by 4.86%. In other words, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Posted by: DrTom at November 19, 2007 10:38 PM
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