Third Party & Independents Archives

April 27, 2005

The We - Me Debate

Politically speaking, according to the polls, Pres. Bush should drop pushing privatizing of Social Security. The more he pushes it, the worse his and the GOP congress’ polls become. ABC News has two polls, one reported on the 8th and another on the 25th of April, showing the GOP may be in trouble in 2006 on domestic policy. Even Alan Greenspan, the Republican Chairman of the Federal Reserve has recommended saving Social Security in order to save the economy in the future.

There is no question that the President's rhetoric about "an ownership society" has a nice ring to it. But, if you combine the recent Bankruptcy Reform which denies unfortunate but honest Americans a clean slate second chance to build a financial future, with the increase in senior citizen poverty that would result from privatizing any or all of Social Security, both from reduced benefits as well as bankrupting the SS system decades earlier than if we did nothing, a prescription for economic disaster is written. And this is what Alan Greenspan is warning politicians about.

With almost 8 trillion dollars national debt, and the additional 5 or so trillion that privatizing Social Security would add to the debt, plus another 1.5 to 2 trillion in deficits added over the rest of this decade, we taxpayers and our children, face large tax increases in the future in order to deal with the negative consequences of a 15 Trillion dollar national debt which would be in the middle of the road blocking future growth. Republicans love to argue that taxes impair economic growth. Why is it then, that these same Republicans in full control of our nation's economic apparatus, are guaranteeing horrendous tax increases after President Bush leaves office in order to deal with his and Congress' legacy of red ink?

Americans are waking up to the reality that the GOP is no more disciplined or responsible with the public's money than Democrats were. And that is what is behind the falling poll numbers for Congress and the President. This could spell a sea change in future elections. As taxes begin increasing in the future, regardless of which party is in office, voters will have to ask if they got more from their tax dollar under the Democrats than they will have under the Republicans. With Republicans wanting to cut SS benefits, Bush's threat of veto over the transportation Bill resulting in American roads and bridges falling into even further dangerous ill-repair, loss of class action public suits against corporations under the GOP tort reform, ever more MTBE polluted water, incredibly fast rising health care costs and insurance premiums, it will be far more difficult in the future for voters to justify a GOP vote.

It is not that voters will trust Democrats any more than Republicans. But, in the future, for all their tax increases brought on by this Republican government's deficit spending, voters may fondly reminisce about safety nets, good roads, adequate government watchdogs regulating clean water, ethical lending practices and affordable health care under the Democrats. Both parties are big spenders. Both parties have proved that. The question of the future is which party gives the voters more bang for their buck?

The debate today on social security and a host of other issues is the "we - me debate". On the "we" side of the debate are those who want to see American policy insure the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans. The "we" side, like the nation's governors, believe we all have a stake in the quality of life of the majority of Americans, for that quality of life shapes our children's future. The "me" side, like Libertarians and far right conservatives, believe a neighbor's failure or default should not reflect on "me", or cost "me", and when contemplating a less fortunate person, the "me" side says, "there but for being like me, go I."

The "me" side loves to tout how good looking, how frugal, how hard working, how wise, how educated: - how they are so much better as people than those who need to file bankruptcy, or those who can't afford insurance, or those who are victims of crime, or those who lose their jobs. The "we - me debate" is raging. And our future will be dramatically affected by who prevails at the end of this American debate.

Posted by David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 08:47 AM
Comments
Comment #52344

“We - Me”, “Us - Them”.
It’s really mostly just “Us”.
It’s just the way we are, seemingly powerless to change.
There’s the predator, and the prey.
Politicians quickly adjust to corruption
(the predators; e.g. the wolves),
and Voters (the prey; e.g. the sheep) let it happen.
While politicians are victims of rampant corruption,
Voters are more so the victims than politicians.

Voters are almost equally to blame for
letting themselves being victimized.

There’s a simple way to fix Social Security.
But, ignoring the obvious simple fix is admitting
that government doesn’t have the discipline to
do the most simple thing. Greed and corruption
keep getting in the way. It’s almost as if
Bush’s plan is an admission that government is
not capable of responsibily managing S.S.
He may be right. That may be why he seems to be
trying to dismantle S.S.

All the government has to do to fix Social
Security is: “quit plundering the surpluses”
(starting now). There have been many years
when more S.S. taxes were collected than S.S.
benefits paid out. S.S. wouldn’t be in
trouble had politicians never been able to
plunder those surpluses in S.S. And regardless
of where the money went, it was stolen from
those that paid into the system, and the
defrauded won’t get much (if anything) back
when the system fails.

Politician always find a way to screw up things,
always a side-effect of over-complication
designed to hide their plunder and fraud.
And the theiving politicians will never
voluntarily stop spending the surpluses, and
building huge debt on future generations.

Not only are BOTH parties irresponsible, all
politicians are irresponsible, and will do
anything (pander, lie, steal, cheat, plunder
social programs, redistribute wealth, etc.) to
stay in power. Nothing is sacred.

And if you think the government has mismaganged
S.S., just wait until Wall Street gets their
greedy hands on all of that money.

Sure, Grandpa…your money will
be safe here and it will grow and grow !

Yeah, right. How much money have middle income
families lost in the markets in the last 6 years?
The most accurate way to characterize the stock
market is that it is GAMBLING (and please don’t
tell me how, throughout history, how most
investments have grown in value in the market…
it’s still gambling).

99.99% of all our energy is spent slowly chipping
away and debating countless problems at the outer
fringes, which are only a few of the countless symptoms of the core problem.
Thus, nothing changes…in fact, the problems deepen.
It speaks volumes about human intelligence.
Perhaps we’re just not smart enough to solve the problem…not
anytime soon anyway. Perhaps in
another million years. Until then, we will
continue to focus on the daily minutiae and
nuances of a corrupt government,
the petty bickering and partisan politics.
Until then, we all deserve each other.

Posted by: . . . One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 09:43 AM
Comment #52345
the GOP is no more disciplined or responsible with the public’s money than Democrats were

HELLO. Did the 90’s cease to exist? Does the term “balanced budget” ring a bell?

Other than that, you’re spot on David. Good article.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 27, 2005 09:45 AM
Comment #52346

At the risk of more focus on the minutiae,
the budget was never really balanced.
The National Debt has never decreased in the
last 35 years. Yes, it grew slower in 1999,
but the budget was never balanced.
Only during Clinton’s last year in office, did
the government almost keep from growing the National Debt.

The National Debt has exploded during Bush’s terms.

Still, neither have anything to brag about.

Posted by: . . . One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 09:55 AM
Comment #52349

Just like Washington- when Bush comes up with terrible ideas like the huge give-a-away-to-seniors that was the Medicare bill, that gets through, but when he tries to have some political courage and get through an important reform that will help a lot more people than it would hurt (to say that “with the increase in senior citizen poverty that would result from privatizing any or all of Social Security” is just plain silly- the market constantly outperforms social security- so NET senior poverty would decrease), that gets shot down.
As for “On the “we” side of the debate are those who want to see American policy insure the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans.”- that is just totally wrong. If you wanted to see the greatest benefit for the greatest NUMBER, you would want to privatize social security. What you want is to keep a small number of potentially irresponsible people from investing poorly- and you are willing to sacrifice the well-being of the majority of those who are harmed by social security (as I have repeatedly explained on this blog) to do it. You want to keep your social controls over people- keep them from being responsible for their own lives- yet, your arguments do not even work on YOUR OWN utilitarian premises.
Maybe Bush will learn his lesson- dont take chances, dont stick your neck out on tough issues. Otherwise, demagogues from the left will eat you and you will lose political support. Forget fixing social security for the next generations- lets try to have another faith-based initiative program instead! Bush first term on domestic policy was just a slightly more right-leaning version of Clinton’s play-it-safe strategy after 1994. He tried to take a chance after the election and do something serious- and it looks like he is going to lose. I wouldnt be surprised if he now retreats into the same Clinton-esque cynical moderate approach that served him well in his first term….

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at April 27, 2005 10:41 AM
Comment #52356

Misha is right.

It looks like the Presidentís private accounts will not succeed and we will be the poorer for it. The special interests have won again, scaring old people and misleading the public. We will be back at this issue in a couple of years and it will be harder to fix by then. Opponents of private accounts can take solace in the fact that everybody was kept equally poor and nobody managed to pull ahead of anyone else.

President Bush tried to spend some political capital to do what was right for the country. If anyone can find a political advantage for him picking a fight with the AARP and the pension establishment, please let me know what that is. There are none. He did it because it was right. You can see what happens.

Posted by: jack at April 27, 2005 12:01 PM
Comment #52358

No, Misha and Jack are dead on wrong! They are blind to patterns here. Bush sees a problem with SS and comes up with a plan to dismantle it.

Bush previously saw a problem with Medicare and came up with a plan just like he has for Social Security. Send it further into red ink with huge transfer payments to the pharmaceutical companies to hasten the day when Republicans can (with optimisitic credulity) “see, its broke, and it will cost too much to fix”. We will have to scrap it for privatized health insurance for all.

It is just a more subtle version of the “me” oriented policy. If the GOP had plans for making Medicare enduring, they would have permitted competitive bidding to hold down costs to the taxpayers. What they did was hasten the red ink Medicare is accruing so they can declare the whole program unaffordable when the Soc. Sec. privatizing plan fails or passes.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 12:15 PM
Comment #52359

Onesimpleidea,

Your facts are quite wrong SS being saved by lockboxing the surpluses. Provided Bush does not seriously alter the program by privatizing it, the Government can and will make good on SS through 1941 by using the treasury to make payments for every dime of the surpluses earned. The surpluses constitute a loan by wage earners to meet current SS obligations. The full faith and credit of the United States on all of its debt instruments depends upon it honoring the repayment of those surpluses. A default (not likely in the next couple decades) would the first in US history and spell the death knell for any political parties with a hand in bringing it about.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 12:22 PM
Comment #52360
to say that “with the increase in senior citizen poverty that would result from privatizing any or all of Social Security” is just plain silly- the market constantly outperforms social security

Misha, your comment is based on a misperception. Your SS payments are NOT saved up by the government at a fixed rate of return, then dispersed to you after you retire. Your SS payments are spent on your parent’s SS benefits, and your SS benefits will come from your children’s SS payments.

Privatization is a proposal to shut down this pipeline - not a proposal to invest in wall street versus some long-term savings account the US government controls. Stock returns just don’t figure in the calculation.

If you privitize by diverting current payments IN to SS to private accounts, then you have to either (a) cut payments OUT for the system to balance or (b) incur debt.

If you’r in case (b) and don’t cut benefits, then you’ll incur a debt of $1 for every $1 that gets diverted to a private account. So you’re basically borrowing money in one place, investing it somewhere else, and hoping you come out ahead. If that sort of scheme appeals to you, Misha, go ahead and do it.

Jack:


President Bush tried to spend some political capital to do what was right for the country. If anyone can find a political advantage for him picking a fight with the AARP and the pension establishment, please let me know what that is. There are none. He did it because it was right. You can see what happens.

I agree with this, if you interpret the word “right” as “ideologically appealing to the far right”. He was (and is) using his political capital to start dismantling social programs, starting with SS. Only some of us consider that “right”.

Posted by: William Cohen at April 27, 2005 12:27 PM
Comment #52361

Yes, Bush made a mistake. Good thing he didn’t
attempt this during his first election.
I think Bush did it because he, as many,
do not believe Government can manage it correctly.
Paradoxically, Bush grew another entitlement program (Medicare),
that eventually, will be in as much trouble as Social Security.

Bush, on one hand says people should keep their
money to do what they think is best, and on the
other creates bigger Medicare system, and then,
on another, trys to dismantle Social Security.
It’s just a big mess, and Bush and other politicans
seem to be running around in every direction,
with no solid or consistent philosophy or vision.

Personally, I’d like to see it completely phased out and discountinued.

Either (a) make the funds for entitlement systems (e.g. Social Security) totally
separate and protected so that the Federal government can NEVER plunder those
funds for ANY reason, or (b) phase out Social Security and Medicare, and all
similar entitlement systems. In the beginning, Social Security was supposed to be
a separate fund that could not be touched by the Federal Government. But, greedy
politicians soon (in 1939) found a way (only a few years after it began) to plunder
those funds. All of the surplus that should now exist within the Social Security fund
has been stolen. Unless protected from plunder, entitlements are another form of
legal plunder and wealth redistribution, so it may be better to end those entitlement
systems, finalize all current recipients of Social Security as scheduled, until their
deaths, and start paying back (or a portion of) all funds already paid into Social
Security and Medicare. Bite the bullet now, because it’s only going to get worse.
The Federal government has proven that it can not be trusted to manage it
correctly, and needs to quit trying to create and insert itself in the position of
redistributing wealth (i.e. in the money stream), because the Federal government
always abuses it. Most of what the Federal government does, could be done much
better at the local and state levels, and much of what the Federal government
does now, doesn’t need to be done at all.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 12:29 PM
Comment #52363

David, I agree that it will be difficult to convert a glorified Ponzi scheme into a genuine system of retirement planning for individuals, but that doesnt mean it shouldnt be attempted.

Interestingly, your account of what SS is, while probably descriptively accurate, is not how it was sold to the american people today or at inception. It has always been sold as you putting money down to ensure your OWN retirement. So, if you are correct, that its just a system of wealth transfer from current working to current none-working people, the American people need to be asked if they believe THAT is a system that they want to invest so much in. The problem is that politicians defending social security-as-is will never actually defend it for what it actually is (which you had the guts to do, and i applaude you).

Posted by: Misha Tseytlin at April 27, 2005 12:43 PM
Comment #52364

One simple idea, again, your lockbox assessment is a faulty conceptualization and fails to take into account the full faith and credit of the US to meet its obligations. Provided the American people do not allow privatizing SS, the surpluses will be paid out as benefits with a single dime lost. Seem my previous reply to you on this subject.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 12:51 PM
Comment #52366

Misha, the question I have is why politicians won’t advocate a parallel privatized retirement system that one day could relieve taxpayers of the SS system for all?

Of course, that would still leave the need for affordable life and disability insurance which the current SS system provides, but, too could be incentivized to one day replace the insurance aspects of SS.

I know this is complicated, but, allow me to hint at a more basic underlying dynamic. We live in a society that defines middle class considerably above what the middle class can afford through media and advertising. Perceived poverty in America by the working poor is just as damaging psychologically, developmentally, and even sociologically as physical poverty by non-working indigents in third world countries.

If we could educate all of our students in America from 1st grade on with economics and basic bookkeeping, and teach financial planning in high school as required curriculum, the benefits to our society of the future would be overwhelming. First, it would eliminate the need for a great deal of social/safety net tax spending. Second, it would bolster private savings by magnitudes and remove the stigma of leaving within one’s means and prioritizing choices for each dollar allocated. Finally, we would actually one day have Congresspersons who understand money elected to office by a constituency that also understands money and economics and would hold their rhetoric and bullcrap to account.

I have always believed education is the foundation upon which America stands strong on bedrock or sinks in the mud. Tomorrow’s future is being built on educational sand. It only needs to get soggy to fail.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 01:08 PM
Comment #52367

David R. Remer wrote:

|Onesimpleidea,
|
| Your facts are quite wrong SS being saved by
| lockboxing the surpluses. Provided Bush does
| not seriously alter the program by privatizing
| it, the Government can and will make good on SS
| through 1941 by using the treasury to make
| payments for every dime of the surpluses
| earned. The surpluses constitute a loan by wage
| earners to meet current SS obligations. The
| full faith and credit of the United States on
| all of its debt instruments depends upon it
| honoring the repayment of those surpluses. A
| default (not likely in the next couple decades)
| would the first in US history and spell the
| death knell for any political parties with a
| hand in bringing it about.

It’s not like the government has a magic money tree. You tout accounting for “the full faith and credit of the US to meet its obligations.”
Well, that faith is shrinking fast all around the planet. Do not be so certain that the
government can’t go bankrupt if it keeps spending
and growing government the way it is now.

My facts are wrong? By the way, 1941 ?
Don’t you mean 2041 ? And, pay as you go has
some serious flaws….especially when that’s
not the originally touted design, and the
system will be in trouble when it’s short of
funds due periods when there are less revenues
than benefits paid out. That’s why surpluses
should not be plundered…especially with an
aging America. But, then, I guess the government
can just print some more money? That is one of
the causes of inflation, which destabilizes the
economy, and destroys savings, and leads to
risky investments by people that are trying to
stay ahead of inflation. And resorting to
more loans from the Treasury or whereever doesn’t
explain away the problem. It’s not like the
government has a magic money tree.

The government can’t help but mismanage entitlement
systems, which is why they should get out of the
habit completely. But, that will never happen.
The more realistic outcome will be a slow and
gradual failure of the system (which will take
many years) due to continued mismanagement,
while benefits will be reduced, and taxes will
be increased, and companies move their companies
and operations to other countries, where the
taxes are lower, the labor is cheaper, and the profits are higher.

Actually, I’m all for privatizing, because I think it will lead to dismantling S.S.
Things can’t get better until they get worse.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 01:11 PM
Comment #52369

David Remer wrote:
|
| One simple idea, again, your lockbox
| assessment is a faulty conceptualization and
| fails to take into account the full faith and
| credit of the US to meet its obligations.
|

David,
One thing I do have full faith in is the
ability of government to thoroughly
mismanage and corrupt what ever they do,
meddle in everything, attempt to control
everything, and be responsible and accountable
for NOTHING.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 01:22 PM
Comment #52372

I agree that good eduction is important.
But, sadly, our education system is fair to bad.

At my son’s college education, most of the
engineering and masters and doctorates were
to foreign students (mostly Asian, and Eastern
Indian students).

It doesn’t seem we value builders, scientists,
designers, engineers, etc. as much anymore,
since they can hire them for a fraction of the
salary in other countries.

Soon, we won’t design or build anything in this country.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 01:39 PM
Comment #52375

One Simple Idea said: “Do not be so certain that the
government can’t go bankrupt if it keeps spending
and growing government the way it is now.”

Most Americans agree that this statement is true. Which is why Americans are growing disenchanted with this President and Congress. They see the writing on the wall, and are paying more attention to the deficits and debt.

We don’t disagree at all about the desperate need to get not only our deficits to zero (not even a goal of this President or Congress) but, our debt back to a level which does not cost taxpayers huge sums for decades in interest payments on that debt. The taxpayers get very little in return for the interest payments.

There are hard times ahead due to this uncontrolled spending. Government spending to stimulate the economy is fine when your debt is non-existent or low. But, we are facing a future with our credit max’ed out and recession demanding more spending to relieve the social suffering of high unemployment, defaults on loans and mortgages, and the whole spiral effect that causes. Our ability to borrow in the future partly depends on our not defaulting on our social contracts of Medicare and SS. The rest of the world where 45% of our investors we borrow from come from, knows the benefits of social spending and they are working diligently to manage the costs and negative aspects on their economies. What would it say to them if they can manage their household while we default on our own people? Will they want to keep their investments in the US? I don’t think so.

Thanks for catching the 1941 error - quite right, latest projection is 2041. At 56, everything begins to seem a hundred years older. (Grin!)

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 02:19 PM
Comment #52382

David
The biggest problem is not helping those who truely need it.
It is when the “ME” side is FORCED to put the “WE” side ahead of themselves and their own family that the “ME” side has a problem.

While some people don’t need the money taken from them each paycheck, most of us need every dollar we earn. Why should people be forced to have a lower quality of life in order to make somebody elses quality of life better than their own?

Posted by: kctim at April 27, 2005 03:00 PM
Comment #52385

David my friend,

How would you fix the SS system?, of would you just leave it as it is?

Posted by: Beagle at April 27, 2005 03:03 PM
Comment #52388

David, excellent article, and follow-up posts.

Beagle:
“How would you fix the SS system?, of would you just leave it as it is?”

Roll back the tax cuts on the wealthiest American’s would be the best place to start, yes?

Posted by: Adrienne at April 27, 2005 03:12 PM
Comment #52389

kctim asked: “Why should people be forced to have a lower quality of life in order to make somebody elses quality of life better than their own?”

Perhaps for the same reason we force people to pay police salaries instead of vigilantism and each person acting as their own police? Perhaps for the same reason we transfer 100’s of billions of tax dollars in each administration to the common defense called the military, regardless of the doves and anti-war objections?

It is vital that a strong and healthy consuming middle class (increasingly an aging class) support the economy and tax revenues through consumption of needed goods and services. I could go on, but, you get the point, I hope.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 03:24 PM
Comment #52391

Beagle, first I would means test the benefits paid out. If the benefits paid out are reduced, the taxes needed to put into the system commensurately go down. And we are all for lower taxes, yes?

Second, I would eliminate the income cap on FICA deductions. That way Bill Gates would pay the same rate on his income for Soc. Sec. as a supermarket assistant manager does.

That is likely all that is needed to shore up the system through the rest of this century.

Third, and last, I would mandate bookeeping and economics education from 3rd grade through senior high school year over the next two decades, so that voters and tax payers would 1) be immensely better equipped to manage their money and more appropriately budget needs vs. wants, and 2) immensely better equipped to hold politicians accountable for managing the public’s money.

That would solve a lot more than just Social Security, but, hey, nothing wrong with a bonus, eh?

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 03:31 PM
Comment #52392

Thanks, Adrienne.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 03:33 PM
Comment #52395

Adrienne wrote:
|
| Beagle:
| “How would you fix the SS system?, or would
| you just leave it as it is?”
|
| Roll back the tax cuts on the wealthiest
| American’s would be the best place to start,
| yes?
|

Yikes!

Isn’t that demonizing the wealthy ?

Sounds like “ENVY” disguised as demands of “EQUALITY”.

Raising taxes is ALWAYS a bad idea, since
they are already TOO high.

Perhaps we should ignore how much money people
have…some will always have more than others.
So what? Why try to dream up ways to
make the wealthier pay more? Is there really
any justifiable logic in that reasoning?

Keep that up (making the rich pay more), and the
wealthy will keep moving their homes,
businesses, and operations to other cities,
states, or countries, where they can get a break.

For example:
_____________________________
Five friends meet every Friday for lunch.
Rather than each pay his own lunch bill,
each paid according to their net worth.

One friend (Richard) was wealthy and paid 66% of the bill.

One friend (Pete) was poor, and paid only 1%.

The others (Mat, Mark, and Mike) were in the
middle-income bracket and they each paid
the remaining 33% split three ways (i.e.
11%). All was fine and dandy for a while,
until one day, Richard didn’t show up for lunch.
Now, the poor friend (Pete) had to pay 4% and
the remaining three friends suddenly had to
pay the remaining 96% split three ways (i.e.
32%). Mark, Mat, and Mike complained…
that’s not fair! We had to pay more than
what we ate cost! And what about Pete.
He only had to pay 4%!
Well, Mark, Mat, and Mike stopped going to
lunch with Pete. And, Pete, being the
poorest, could no longer afford to go out to
lunch. So, Pete prepared his lunch each
morning and took his lunch to work.
Pete thought to himself, well it was great
while it lasted, but I can’t force my friends
to always buy my lunch.

So, you see…if we keep punishing the
wealthy (due to ENVY disguised as claims
for EQUALITY), they’ll stop coming to meet
for lunch…that is, they’ll just move
somewhere else where the cost of living is
cheaper, the cost of labor is cheaper, and
their profits are higher.

And if you still think the wealthy should pay
more, ask yourself this:
(1) Why don’t the wealthy then pay more for food ?
(2) Shouldn’t the wealthy pay more to get a
ticket to a movie, a coke, a popcorn ?
(3) Shouldn’t the wealthy pay more for a gallon
of gas too ? Especially, since they drive the
big gas guzzling Mercedes ?
(4) Shouldn’t restaurants, and stores, and
merchants all charge the wealthy more ?

So if you believe the wealthy must pay more
tax, they should also pay more for everything
else? Right? So, perhaps you now see the
falacy in the premise. Once you start down that
slippery slope, no one is safe. To damage the
rights of one citizen actually damages us all.

People should not be taxed differently based
on income or net worth, as if they’re being
punished for being wealthier. And if we keep
doing it, they’ll simply stop coming to lunch,
and take their business elsewhere.
____________
Some reasonalbe TAXation is necessary for
the common goals of civilization.
We can’t expect government to function
without ANY funding.

However, I’d prefer a national sales tax
rather than any kind of income tax or property tax.

And that national sales tax should have
a maximum that can never be exceeded
(e.g. 8%). And a state sales tax that
can never exceed a set maximum (e.g. 9%).
Thus, a potential maximum tax of 17% of all
spending (excluding FOOD and MEDICAL
expenses…the only two things that would NOT
be subject to a national sales tax is FOOD
and MEDICAL expenses).

Also, get rid of ALL tax deductions,
and get rid of property tax, and
estate tax, and a million other taxes.
Just think how simple it could be without
all of the paperwork to track deductible
expenses such as mortgage interest,
unreimbursed employee expenses,
cost of tax software, state sales tax,
state income tax, fuel tax, business expenses,
fuel tax, telephone tax, 911 tax, home office
deduction tax based on square feet and value of
home and land, etc. Just think of the billions
that would be saved without all of the record
keeping and paperwork and storage to support the
current tax system.

And the federal government should quit meddling
in everything from A to Z, and get back to doing
ONLY the very few things they’re supposed
to do, such as:

(1) National Defense
(2) Law Enforcement,
and protection of Civil Rights
(3) Welfare for the truly needy

Let the states do the rest, which they’ll
probably do much better and at much less cost.


Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 27, 2005 04:10 PM
Comment #52404

David
Those are all public services which benefit society. They are not, or should not, be a part of SS.
I’m not giving you a “you shouldnt have to pay because you disagree” arguement here.
I really want to know how lowering someones standard of living benefits society.

Posted by: kctim at April 27, 2005 05:04 PM
Comment #52406

OSI,

“And if you think the government has mismaganged
S.S., just wait until Wall Street gets their
greedy hands on all of that money.”

Raising a good point, what Wall Street firms are going to manage the several hundred billion dollars of SS money should it ever be privatized? Can you say, “conflict of interest?” If not, how about, “pay-offs?”

“Soon, we won’t design or build anything in this country.”

The US does none of its own factory production. All of it is already overseas.

David,

“If we could educate all of our students in America from 1st grade on with economics and basic bookkeeping, and teach financial planning in high school as required curriculum, the benefits to our society of the future would be overwhelming.”

See, that’s a nice idea in theory, but the truth of the matter is that the classroom textbooks rarely provide any applicable knowledge, and quite often the teachers themselves are not financially competent. The best people to teach money matters are rich people, and they aren’t generally teachers.

Posted by: Zeek at April 27, 2005 05:10 PM
Comment #52416

David,

As always, exellent points.

I hesitate at the means testing thing, If it was intended to be welfare, it should have stated as that at the start.

In todays world, with the system headed to the red, means testing might be more fair socially, I just don’t like changeing the rules midstream.

I really,really like your 3rd point, teach kids common sence and econ 101 all through school.
Wouldn’t that be resisted by the teachers onion?, after all,they couldn’t preach raising taxes to balance the budget after that?

How about every Gov. employee gets SS as their retirement plan, from the bottom to the top, anything they have now we’ll just roll into the SS system, ditto on their healthcare plan, medicare is what they get.

City, county, state,or fed, all the same plan, what could be more fair or liberal than that?

Posted by: Beagle at April 27, 2005 05:33 PM
Comment #52436

Bush is just being loyal to his Core Constituents. Privatizing Social Security will guarantee an unlimited source of income for Wall Street. Those Investing Companies will get paid no matter how badly they performed. This was what happened to England and other Countries that privatized their Welfare. Bush is just looking out for Number 1.

Posted by: Aldous at April 27, 2005 07:58 PM
Comment #52444

Aldous,

“Privatizing Social Security will guarantee an unlimited source of income for Wall Street.”

Sorry, but that’s just taking it too far. First off, the Wall Street firms would merely get paid for transactions and other legal fees, they wouldn’t actually buy and sell stocks/funds for anyone. The most they can do is give advice. Second, the money supply is by no means unlimited, people have to actually do something with their accounts for the firms to get payed. No transactions equates to no profit for the firms.

Posted by: Zeek at April 27, 2005 10:01 PM
Comment #52450

Beagle said: ” I hesitate at the means testing thing, If it was intended to be welfare, it should have stated as that at the start.”

The history of the SS program is very interesting. It started out as a safety net, and was intended to insure the elderly did not face death in degradation and poverty. It still serves that purpose today considering that millions of senior citizens who would be in poverty without their SS checks which after all, is not welfare since they paid for the assistance during their working careers. It is not like a free handout.

However, when the bill was initiated in Congress, passage was not assured if some of the more well to do would not receive anything back if forced to pay into the system. But as we know today, SS helped create the largest and best off middle class in the world and helped sustain it through thick and thin as well as increasing production and economic growth by supporting consumerism by those of low wages upon retirement, survivors of deceased breadwinners, and the disabled breadwinners.

So all in all, even if the well to do never got a cent back from SS directly, they benefitted from the greatest economic expansion of any nation in the history of mankind which SS helped fuel. Something folks on the right hate to see or admit, is that if there is not some mechanism for wealth distribution like estate taxes, SS or Medicare, the concentration of wealth that would subsequently occur would actually reduce consumerism and curtail economic growth. That is precisely why President’s of both parties deficit spend during recessions to keep the economic engine churning during what otherwise would be contraction, layoffs, and serious degradation in consumerism. Consumers were the mainstay for the last recession not being far worse than it was.

Overreacation take such analyses as arguments for dumping capitalism for socialism. But, that is what it is, overreaction. The simple truth is the 20th century economic dynamo is attributable to both the capitalist underpinnings as well as the social programs which built infrastructure and expanded the consuming population by legendary amounts.

Poverty breeds all kinds of social ills from selling babies, to prostitution, and crime as a way of life, not to mention complete lack of respect for law and society in general. To the extent that a balance of wealth redistribution programs work harmoniously with capitalist free markets and entrepreneurial activities, and vice versa, an optimal balance is struck where demand and supply can continue to expand at a measured pace, and the greatest economic good is created for the greatest number of citizens via low unemployment and increasing quality of life standards.

SS has served both increases in quality of life for the wealthy (via a vibrant consumer economy which capitalists profit from) as well as the working poor by bringing efficiency to their lives through time and energy saving affordable products, like the Model T and the washing machine. And it is still true today, though the optimal balance is being lost under the weight of growing national debt and wasted tax dollars on the interest for that debt being sent overseas. Since we are ever increasingly a net import nation, more and more of that interest going to overseas investors never finds its way back here, and that results in a net loss for the American economy, year after inevitable year with no end in sight.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2005 10:18 PM
Comment #52466

David R. Remer wrote:
|
| To the extent that a balance of wealth
| redistribution programs work harmoniously with
| capitalist free markets and entrepreneurial
| activities, and vice versa, an optimal balance
| is struck …
|

Good points.

But “wealth redistribution” ?
That term carries some negative connotations.

If we all pay in a fair share of taxes, it’s
not wealth redistribution; it’s a common goal
that benefits all of society. We have all
invested into the system (such as Social Security was supposed to be).

“wealth redistribution” is actually “steal from the rich and give to the poor”.

A good example of “wealth redistribution” is taxing the wealthy at
higher tax rates (i.e. progressive tax scale).
In fact, I don’t think taxes rates should vary
based on how wealthy a person is.

I am not rich, but to me,
there’s something fundamentally wrong with
the idea of forcible “wealth redistribution”.
It is a form of discrimination based on wealth.
It is “ENVY” disguised as a demand for “EQUALITY”. It isn’t fair.
It is false philanthropy.

No wonder the wealthy create tax loop holes.
It is actually futile to punish the wealthy. They’ll just create and take advantage of tax loop holes,
position themselves into positions of power,
or move their homes and businesses to other
cities, states, or countries where taxes are
lower, and profits are higher.

Currently, we tax the wealthy at higher tax rates (lets exclude the tax loop holes for now…
that’s a separate issue). If we feel justified
to tax wealthy people at a higher rate, then
shouldn’t the wealthy also pay higher tax rate
percentages across the board (e.g. sales tax,
fuel tax, property tax, etc.) ?

When did it become acceptable to assume it’s
fair to tax the wealthy at a higher rate ?
Why should a person’s net worth even matter ?
It shouldn’t.
That’s why other taxes (excluding income tax)
do not use a progressive tax rate. But, many
are still unfair since they are based on a percentage of income (two separate categories).

Perhaps there’s a better way?
The wealthy probably spend a lot more.
Why not implement a National Sales Tax (e.g. 8%).
The same sales tax rate applies to everyone.
Now, the tax is based on what people voluntarily spend. Wealthy will most likely spend more, and
will pay more sales tax. It’s merely based on
consumption and acquisitions, and not directly
related to income. Thus, no one is discriminated
against based on wealth; Only on what they spend. Now, some are going to say “But the
wealthy can more easily afford to pay the sales
tax than the less wealthy. It’s not fair to the
less wealthy”. So ? What’s that got to do with
anything? That sort of mind-set is as ridiculous
as going out to lunch with some friends, and
splitting the bill up based on each person’s
net worth. Soon, your wealthy friends will stop
going out to lunch with you…and rightfully so.
How dare you expect a hand-out, just because
they are wealthier than you.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 28, 2005 12:56 AM
Comment #52467
The wealthy probably spend a lot more. Why not implement a National Sales Tax (e.g. 8%).

I don’t see a connection - the rich don’t eat much more than most, and probably spend about the same on gasoline. Unless you mean luxury taxes, and don’t we already have those?

I would expect the rich to invest more, hence the capital gains taxes they’re trying to get rid of. And the estate tax, of course, for those who just can’t spend everything they have.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 28, 2005 05:56 AM
Comment #52470

The wealthy spend more on homes, products,
higher education, automobiles, food,
services, etc.

But, the point is not merely that they spend
more, but that taxing people based on income is
not fair. It’s discrimination.
Instead, it would be more fair if everyone paid
the same sales tax rate. The only items that
would not be taxed would be food and medical
expenses.

As for other taxes, they should all be eliminated. Eliminate income taxes and
property taxes.

Of course, this will never happen.
I’m just saying it would be more fair, and
not discriminate against the wealthy.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 28, 2005 08:57 AM
Comment #52479
For example: _____________________________ Five friends meet every Friday for lunch. Rather than each pay his own lunch bill, each paid according to their net worth.

One friend (Richard) was wealthy and paid 66% of the bill.

One friend (Pete) was poor, and paid only 1%.

The others (Mat, Mark, and Mike) were in the
middle-income bracket and they each paid
the remaining 33% split three ways (i.e.
11%). All was fine and dandy for a while,
until one day, Richard didn’t show up for lunch.
Now, the poor friend (Pete) had to pay 4% and
the remaining three friends suddenly had to
pay the remaining 96% split three ways (i.e.
32%). Mark, Mat, and Mike complained…
that’s not fair! We had to pay more than
what we ate cost! And what about Pete.
He only had to pay 4%!
Well, Mark, Mat, and Mike stopped going to
lunch with Pete. And, Pete, being the
poorest, could no longer afford to go out to
lunch. So, Pete prepared his lunch each
morning and took his lunch to work.
Pete thought to himself, well it was great
while it lasted, but I can’t force my friends
to always buy my lunch.

You’re view point is quite limited OSI. It works both ways, try this one:


_____________________________
Five friends meet every Friday for lunch at a 5 star restuarant.
Rather than each pay his own lunch bill,
each paid an equal slice of the bill(20%).

One friend (Richard) was wealthy and paid 20% of the bill (.01% of his weekly spending cash).

One friend (Pete) was poor, but also paid 20%(100% of his weekly spending cash).

The others (Mat, Mark, and Mike) were in the
middle-income bracket but they each paid 20% also (30% of their weekly spending cash). All was fine and dandy,
until the next week, when he realized he could afford it, Pete didn’t show up for lunch.
Now, the rich friend (Richard) had to pay 25% and
the remaining three friends suddenly had to
pay the remaining 75% split three ways (i.e.
25%). Mark, Mat, and Mike complained…
that’s not fair! We had to pay more than
what we ate cost!
Well, Mark, Mat, and Mike stopped going to
lunch with Richard. And, Richard, being the
wealthiest, could still afford to go out to
lunch, but by himself. Each day, he waved hello to his 4 friends eating their sack lunches on a bench in front of the restaurant.

In a few weeks, due to a drop in lunch sales, the restaurant went out of business and Richard had no where to dine.

Posted by: Taylor at April 28, 2005 11:01 AM
Comment #52480
The wealthy spend more on homes, products, higher education, automobiles, food, services, etc.

And I’m just supposed to just take your word for it..? How about some figures. Talk to me about daily expenditures on food, clothes, shelter, gasoline, and health care. How much more, if any, does a wealthy person spend on staples every day compared to middle-class me?

Posted by: American Pundit at April 28, 2005 11:05 AM
Comment #52497

Taylor,

There is a BIG difference.
In my scenario, Richard is punished for being
wealthier. In your scenario, everyone pays
for their own lunch, as it should be.

Don’t tell me when you go to lunch with your
friends, that you all split the bill based on
net worth and income. You don’t do that do you?

To me, just because my friend or neighbor has
more than me does NOT give me the right to
lay claim to their assets. To force someone
to pay more for anything (taxes, goods, services)
merely because they’re wealthier, goes against
my most basic principles and beliefs and sense
of fairness. But, then, I don’t demand more from
the wealthy, because I don’t ENVY them and don’t disguise ENVY as demands for EQUALITY…as many
do, which fuels their belief that those that
have more should pay more (i.e. taxes).
Perhaps, all of that sort of socialist thinking
should be revisited. To me, no rationalization
can justify the violation of one persons’ rights.
To violate the rights of one citizen damages all of us.

I want and demand nothing from the wealthier
people, while some have the belief that they
deserve something from the wealthier people.
But the wealthy are not going to give
it to you voluntarily, since they believe that
it is unfair (which it is). So that’s where
perversion of the law is required to do what
it was originally supposed to prevent. The law
is perverted to force the wealthy to pay more
(and higher, progressive rates to boot).
It is legal plunder. How did that happen?
Because, there are more ENVIOUS
and BITTER people who can’t stand someone else
having more than them. They’re unable to mind
their own business and affairs. It’s unfair!
It’s unfair! We must make the wealthy pay more!
We must pass new laws (i.e. pervert the laws)
to make them pay more!

And, it’s actually all futile.
The wealthy just move their homes and business
to different cities, states, or countries.
And I don’t blame them.
But, when reality strikes home, there’s always
some other city, state, or country trying to
entice them to bring their business and jobs to
their community, by offering lower taxes and
perks.
So, the result, is the wealthy, due to unfair
taxation (rooted in ENVY), are run off and
forced to go elsewhere. And that’s exactly what
many of them do. Go where the labor is cheaper,
taxes are cheaper, and profits are higher.

So, what we have here is a very core, and fundamental difference in philosophies.

All that I believe is governed by core
principles and everything must pass some basic tests:
(01) Anyone can do anything they want, as long
as they don’t violate the inalienable
rights of other person(s).
(02) Force is never justified except for self
defense, and to bring criminals to justice
for violating the rights of others.
(03) Live and Let Live.
(04) Taxes are for the mutual and equal benefits
of society; taxes should be equal for all,
and NOT based on wealth or income; income
and property should not be taxed;
(05) No one can be discriminated against based
on race, religion, gender, or net worth.

In your scenario, you theorize that business
will go out of business, because the wealthier
are not forced to pay more? So that
justifies taxing or making the wealthier pay more?
Nonsense; because, restaurants
currently don’t make people pay more for
lunch based on income, and they’re not going
out of business.

Now, some will come along as say, OSI,
dream on. But, we all know the world isn’t
perfect, but those imperfections should not
justify or lead us to rationalize the
violation of a single person’s rights merely
becaue it is pragmatic or supposedly realistic.
There are some things we should never
resort to comprimise.

American Pundit.
You challenge that MOST wealthy don’t spend more?
Seriously ? Just look at their homes, condos,
yachts, vacations, entertainment, automobiles,
educations, private schools, and all other property, etc.
The list is too long to include here in entirety.
I’m not wealthy, but I’ve been around many wealthy people
(working on yachts), and ALL of them (that I’ve known)
spend a whole lot more than me or most other people.
They employee a lot of people too. Their wealth often
creates jobs for others. Their wealth is meaningless if
it’s not spent somewhere, sometime. It’s rare that a wealthy
person never spends their money or hides it forever in some
bank(s) or under their matress.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 28, 2005 12:49 PM
Comment #52507

OSI,

We’re looking at the conundrum from inverted angles. You think a flat tax means the wealthy move down to the lowest tax rate because they are unjustly being taxed more now. I think that the poor are going to be raised up to the highest tax % because they are justly being taxed less at the moment.

The wealthy aren’t being punished, the poor are simply being given a break under the current system.

I would certainly argue that indeed, if under your perception, the wealthy are dropped to the lowest tax rate, the restuarant is gonna go out of business. It takes a lot of money to run this country, EVEN when it’s NOT being mismanaged. (It takes even more money when mismanaged under Bush & Co.)

I used to be poor, and I guess that whipped the stingy outta me, so I don’t see a problem paying taxes. I have a sincere appreciation for what it’s like to get your paycheck, pay your rent, then make the hard decision which utilities you can avoid paying and still keep on. I know what it’s like to live for a couple months at a time with no electricity because you couldn’t pay the bill, and it sucks. I also sincerely believe if we pass off more of the tax burden to the poor, it will result in increased crime, homelessness, panhandling, etc. The affluent in our society pay one way or another. I prefer preventative than reactionary, myself.

You think people are envious, I don’t doubt maybe some are, but there are a lot of people living at or below the poverty line today, and a lot of middle class folks that are just getting by. The people I hear repeatedly saying “it’s unfair, it’s unfair”, are on their yachts complaining about a low dividend return in the same breath.

Promoting extreme wealth and extreme poverty under your philosophy will eventually put us right back in the aristrocratic society of say — France, c. late 1700s. In which case, my advice to the wealthy is to build stronger gates on their gated communities or put together a plan to out-breed the poor.

Posted by: Taylor at April 28, 2005 02:12 PM
Comment #52510
Don’t tell me when you go to lunch with your friends, that you all split the bill based on net worth and income. You don’t do that do you?

As a matter of fact, on more occassions I can count I’ve picked up the bill for dinner for a friend I know is having a harder time getting by. I’d rather spend time with good friends and enjoy a good meal than haggle about who owes what and that everyone pay thier fair share.

Money is a very evil thing that too many people allow to get in the way of good relationships with others, imo.

Posted by: Taylor at April 28, 2005 02:22 PM
Comment #52514

Taylor,
I see and completely understand all your points.
Still, regardless that we don’t live in a
perfect world, taxing based on income goes
against my grain, and it goes against the
grain of others…they just don’t realize it,
and the proof is that they expect their friends,
regardless of net worth, to pay their own lunch
bill. It’s only when it comes to taxes, that
people comprimise their principles, and
rationalize a way to justify higher taxes for
some (not just based on percentage
of income, but also higher percentage rates).
Maybe, because it’s been that way for so long.

Still, to me, everyone should pay the same tax,
regardless of net worth. Of course, some will
say, well that tax is a larger burden for the
poor than the rich. But, that’s a smoke screen
really, because that’s not what people are
really concerned about. Their true concern is
that they honestly believe the wealthy should
pay more (not just based on percentage of
income, but a higher rate also). So, I hear all
of your arguments, but I personally still
believe the fairest thing is to ignore people’s
income, and we all pay the same. So, the reason
I prefer a sales tax is because it is not directly based on income at all.
It’s more related to spending.
On the up side, the wealthy spend more than the
average individual, so they’re still going to
pay more tax, and a reasonable sales tax (e.g.
8%) will not deter the wealthy from spending
or resorting to illegal black markets.
But, one complaint that will won’t ever get
any sympathy is the rich complaining that they
are paying more taxes because they are spending more.

Also, ideally, what I’d prefer to the current
tax system is a national sales tax, and a
state sales tax, and a city sales tax, and
all have ceilings that can never be exceeded,
and ALL other taxes be abolished (e.g. get rid
of property tax and income tax).

Something like the following:
City Sales Tax (2%)
County Sales Tax (2%)
State Sales Tax (6%)
National Sales Tax (7%)

And those are the ceilings…they could be
less, but never higher.

Thus, the maximim total sales tax ceiling
would be and could never exceed 17%.

I’d bet a lot of people, rich and poor would
go for that, and the governments at all
levels would probably have all the revenues
they need, things would be much more simple,
and there would be less corruption, crime,
and less class warfare.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 28, 2005 02:49 PM
Comment #52515

Taylor Wrote:
|
| As a matter of fact, on more occassions I can
| count I’ve picked up the bill for dinner for a
| friend I know is having a harder time getting
| by. I’d rather spend time with good friends
| and enjoy a good meal than haggle about who
| owes what and that everyone pay thier fair
| share.
|

Taylor,

That is very generous. I admire that.
I’ve done the same many times. My wife hates it
when I do that. It’s not because I’m trying to
show off, but often, it’s seems best to not
trivialize a wonderful time with friends over dissection of the bill.

However, how would you feel if your friend
suddenly EXPECTED you to pick up the bill ?
I’d bet that’s an entirely different matter ?

Also, when you went to lunch, I’ll bet none of
them were expecting someone else to pay their
way.

By the way, I’m not against helping the truly
needy. That’s the whole point of the taxes…
to care for the truly needy, and to protect the
country (National Defense).

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 28, 2005 02:58 PM
Comment #52518

OSI,

The sales tax only plan has another benifit you failed to outline: it would reduce waste at the citizen level. How much time do you spend calculating you taxes? If your experience in anything like my own, way too much. On the other hand, if I had enough disposable income (ie. “rich”) then I could just hire someone else to tabulate them. In the end, this overly complex system has other ways of penalizing the poor. (and students :P )

Posted by: Tim at April 28, 2005 03:54 PM
Comment #52519
By the way, I’m not against helping the truly needy. That’s the whole point of the taxes… to care for the truly needy, and to protect the country (National Defense).

Well, not the whole point, it’s also for supporting our infrastructure, police, roads, etc. etc. You follow me I’m sure.

I guess I look at it this way. When I moved to the city, all my friends and family said “Why are you moving there? The cost of living is so high!” I of course, make more, but they still insisted, it costs more to live.

It works this way. I make over double what I did when I lived in Ohio. I pay an additional 15% or so of my net income on rent than I did. I definitely pay a lot more, in some cases more than double, for staple items like groceries and what not. But, at the end of the month I have a certain percent of my income left. Maybe about the same percent I had left prior to moving here. But because my income is SO much more from a $$ perspective, my money left after expenses is greater too. Hence, my quality of life is very very different from my days in Ohio.

I don’t think it’s unfair that I pay so much more to live. It comes with the territory. I’m thankful for what I have. I’ve worked my posterior off getting where I am today. Considering the lower middle class family I came from, my accomplishments are so far beyond the kind of life I ever thought I would lead.

Most the wealthy people I hear complain don’t know what it’s like to be poor at all. They are the “Let them eat cake” variety aristocrat. Someone with a 200k/month income who only has 50k play money left each month, because they pay “so many taxes” and complain about how unfair it is, is a steaming lump of feces in my mind’s eye.

On the topic of “be grateful for what you have”, I wonder, since China’s taking more and more of our jobs, and stands to surpass us economically in the upcoming decades, will my mom’s “starving children in china” argument still get kids to clean thier plates? Or will that expression go the way of the 8 track cassette player?

Posted by: Taylor at April 28, 2005 03:55 PM
Comment #52527

OSI,

Replacing the progressive income tax with a sales tax would be the same thing as making the income tax regressive. And a regressive income tax is, if anything, even MORE unfair than a progressive one.

Posted by: Zeek at April 28, 2005 04:42 PM
Comment #52533

Taylor,

I know we’ll never agree on this, but I recognize your right to
your opinion, and that’s OK, but I’ll always fight for the principles
that should apply to all equally, regardless of net worth,
income, race, religion, or gender.

If some people (wealthy or not) feel like paying
more tax, there’s nothing keeping those that want to, and don’t mind doing so, from paying more tax, or contributing to charities of their choice. Just write out and mail those checks anytime.

|
| Most the wealthy people I hear complain don’t
| know what it’s like to be poor at all. They
| are the “Let them eat cake” variety
| aristocrat. Someone with a 200k/month income
| who only has 50k play money left each month,
| because they pay “so many taxes” and complain
| about how unfair it is, is a steaming lump of
| feces in my mind’s eye.
|

Sure, it’s a steaming lump of feces, and some
rich people are arrogant, and never really put
in a hard day’s work in their life. But, we
can’t let our ENVY lead to legal plunder.
We can’t make the excuse that it’s their own
fault (the wealthy) for being wealthy and not
voluntarily giving us their money before we
forcibly take it away from them (via higher tax
rates; i.e. legal plunder).

There still no justification to force them
to pay higher taxes. It fails the test that
that everyone has the right to do as they please
as long as they do not violate the rights of
anyone else.

And, people, wealthy or poor, should have the right
to do what ever they want, even if that is
nothing if that’s their choice (provided they
don’t violate the rights of any person).
If some wealthy persons don’t work and produce
anything, all they can do is spend what they
have, which creates jobs, and puts money into
the economy. However, their wealth is not a
crime to me or anyone else, so why punish them
with higher tax rates?

|
| I don’t think it’s unfair that I pay so much
| more to live. It comes with the territory. I’m
|
Sure, the cost of living varies everywhere.
That’s your choice. Nobody will argue that.

But, for all of those that believe in different
tax rates based on income, it wouldn’t surprise
me if, before long, they’ll be demanding tax
deductions due to higher costs of living, and
more tax increases for the rich, since they can
afford it.

|
| I’m thankful for what I have. I’ve worked my
| posterior off getting where I am today.
| Considering the lower middle class family I
| came from, my accomplishments are so far
| beyond the kind of life I ever thought I would
| lead.
|

That’s great! Really. But, what if one of your
less fortunate friends or family said…gee, your
doin’ pretty good. I think you should pay more
tax to help us less wealthy. Perhaps, you
wouldn’t mind, but most will, and rightfully so.

|
| On the topic of “be grateful for what you
| have”, I wonder, since China’s taking more and
| more of our jobs, and stands to surpass us
| economically in the upcoming decades, will my
| mom’s “starving children in china” argument
| still get kids to clean thier plates? Or will
| that expression go the way of the 8 track
| cassette player?
|

Yeah, it’s already gone the way of the 8 track.

What’s going on in China, and India, and Asia,
Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, and
many other countries, is like heat-transfer.

Physics shows that a natural equilibrium will
eventually occur. China is a huge human resource (low cost labor).
However, the inevitable downside is that many
jobs are leaving the U.S. and going over there.
Eventually (it will take a long time), their
standard of living will rise, and things will
approach equilibrium (provided there are no big
problems to upset that, such as war or
revolution, or some other dissaster).

Growth and development around the world is
a good thing, even if it is temporarily painful
for those here in the U.S. that have lost jobs.
Eventually, as standards rise all over, some
stability will return. But, until then, the
heat transfer is mostly in one direction (i.e.
jobs are going overseas), and it will be a
while before it stabilizes.

Posted by: . . . One Simple Idea . . . at April 28, 2005 04:56 PM
Comment #52549

Gentlemen, you are drifting away from the real life issue, which is economics. Tax policy is intended to support the operations of government. The simple upper and lower end economic limits are: UPPER: if you tax too much wealth, it reduces investments which reduces capital available for job producing production and service sector growth. It is safe to tax the wealthy up to that point at which capital becomes insufficient to support economic growth and expansion via entrepreneurial and small/large business formation and growth. LOWER: if you tax the poor and middle class too much, you reduce demand. It is safe to tax the poor and middle class up to that point at which demand is reduced causing business cutbacks and job layoffs.

The discussion of tax policy must ALWAYS work within these two limits, UPPER and LOWER. Since the economy is fluid and cyclical and subject to interdependent gyrations of foreign markets, tax policy must also be fluid and adaptable to accomodate existing and short-term (6 month to 5 year) economic trends and gyrations. In order for tax policy to become this malleable, it MUST be simple. Simple tax policy is far easier to adjust and adapt to market conditions.

This is why the first and foremost obligation of our government is to simplify the policy in a fashion that permits observance and adherence to the upper and lower limits on tax policy.

Sales tax does not permit effective adjustments to wealthier citizen tax adjustments, since the amount the wealthy spend on consumeables is relatively constant and represents a small portion of their discretionary income. Therefore, sales tax would not permit the government to increase revenues very much from the wealthy when needed nor decrease capital in times when inflation and an overheated economy are evident.

Scaleable income tax does not permit flexible adjustments to revenue from the poor and middle class. Even small increases or decreases in income tax at the lower income levels move millions of Americans into different tax brackets which are not budgeted for, causing hardship and lack of predictability in budgeting and planning by families of these classes. In addition, calculating the impact of tax increases and decreases on the poor and middle class is difficult to predict in terms of demand and consumption. There are just too many variables to make such predictions accurate enough to meet changing economic conditions. In addition, graduated income tax will never appear fair to the majority of voters since it impacts their quality of life far more significantly than it does the other classes.

That leaves a version of a flat tax, which has numerous advantages over the other two. First, it is the simplest to code, modify, and adjust as market conditions warrant. Examples, setting and adjusting a poverty line below which families are not taxed is easy and can be adjusted on a market condition basis, and a modest increase or decrease in the rate is highly predictable in terms of the projected revenue increase or decrease it would produce.

Finally, and probably the most salient, is the fact that it will be perceived as the fairest of all tax systems, since 1/10th of one percent increase will impact the middle class just about as significantly as it would the wealthy class. Where the middle class may forego patio furniture due to an increase, the wealthy may have to forego that hedge fund investment in the same year. Both will feel the impact.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 28, 2005 07:20 PM
Comment #52558
and ALL of them (that I’ve known) spend a whole lot more than me or most other people.

On what? Did they really pay more than me for the Subway sandwich they had for lunch? Or the gas they put in their car?

I’m all for simpler taxes. I might even go for some form of flat tax if it closed all the loopholes and included all those hedge fund managers sheltering their billions in the Bahamas.

It’s a fact that 20% of Americans make 80% of the money. It’s obvious they’re going to bear the brunt of supporting the government. If they’re really interested in lowering taxes, they ought to be pressuring their representatives to make the government smaller and spend more efficiently.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 28, 2005 09:19 PM
Comment #52563
Gentlemen, you are drifting away from the real life issue, which is economics

Certainly drifting from the econmics angle, but we’ve had a livly exchange on the ends of the spectrum of the we-me debate. =)

Posted by: Taylor at April 28, 2005 10:23 PM
Comment #52574

David:

That leaves a version of a flat tax, which has numerous advantages over the other two. First, it is the simplest to code, modify, and adjust as market conditions warrant. Examples, setting and adjusting a poverty line below which families are not taxed is easy and can be adjusted on a market condition basis, and a modest increase or decrease in the rate is highly predictable in terms of the projected revenue increase or decrease it would produce.

I agree with what you are saying here in theory. What I like about even a small sales tax is it taxes consumption. It may see wise to eliminate taxation from dividends or interest, or to have a huge deduction so only the wealthy pay them, and instead tax consumption is some way that does not penalize the poor. (Sales tax on items like new cars???)

I am just trying to moderate increases in consumption and increase savings, not penalize the poor.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 28, 2005 11:28 PM
Comment #52576

Well, it’s hard to discuss economics without
touching upon taxes, politics, national debt,
and fundamental philosophies upon which all
policies should (but usually aren’t) derived.

I think David accurately details the boundary
conditions for taxation. Yes, a flat tax of
some kind (preferably sales tax rather than
income or propery tax) would not discriminate
against anyone based on race, religion, gender,
or net worth.

AP,
Ofcouse a Subway sandwich would cost the same,
except most likely, the wealthy person won’t
be dining at Subway…more likely, their chef
on their yacht prepared their breakfast, brunch,
lunch, dinner, and night-cap. Seriously, are
you still trying to say wealthy people don’t
ever spend any money? Hell, many wealthy pay
more property tax in a year than my home is
worth ! Some wealthy have two or three or more
homes and vacation homes, and condos all around
the country and planet. The wealthy spend
3.5 times more for Health Care. I’m not going
to research it to prove the obvious to you.
If you’re so certain it’s not true, why don’t you prove to us that the wealthy do NOT spend
more than the non-wealthy (generally speaking).

Posted by: ...One Simple Idea... at April 28, 2005 11:44 PM
Comment #52584
I’m not going to research it…

Of course not. That would lead to serious debate. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at April 29, 2005 01:16 AM
Comment #52601

Craig, consumption drives the economy. Those who would of necessity curtail consumption due to a sales tax are the ones least able to afford it and at the low end of the income scale. The middle class and wealthy would be largely unaffected by a small sales tax. Their discretionary spending would not be altered by a small sales tax. That is why sales tax is so inherently unfair to the lower income levels.

If it is savings you want to increase, don’t go after those in poverty and hovering around the poverty line to increase savings. Psychologically, that just ain’t going to happen.

If it is savings from the middle class you are trying to stimulate there are only two ways to stimulate it. 1) is to completely alter the nature of marketing and advertising such that buy now, pay later is eliminated and so too is advertising built around convincing people they CAN afford it (Kirby vacuum ploys). 2) offer short term incentives that will function as substitute for the short term high that comes from spending.

Saving is an intellectual exercise. Spending is largely an emotional exercise. So, that raises one additional option to increase savings from the middle class. Education, education, education… it appeals to the intellectual behavior of people.

The wealthy of course, don’t need to save, they invest, almost the same thing.

The fact is there is no easy nor simple way to sell saving behavior. Largely it is behavior learned young and involves rewards throughout life that reinforce the benefits of savings. In an economy running wild with inflation, saving makes no sense. Also, during times of low yield returns, saving doesn’t make as much sense, though increasing principle for the day when yields increase still makes sense. We are talking savings here, your word, which implies low risk accumulation.

Now, if by saving, you also meant investing, then of course risk needs to be factored in and there is a whole public psychology toward investment risk that needs to be dealt with to increase investment. I firmly believe there is no where near a majority of politicians who appreciate the complexity and dynamics of saving/investing behavior, so I would not hold out a lot of hope for effective policy that increases savings/investments beyond the normal trends we are already familiar with.

Flat tax needs to be on income. There is no fairness in taxing assets, again and again on an annual basis, which also runs contrary to original intent of the founding fathers who opposed double and triple taxation.

Besides, any other basis for a flat tax would be so foreign to our current system, the people would not trust it nor support it legislatively. Capital gains at the individual level are income and thus should not be exempt. To exempt capital gains is to walk down the road to the current complicated tax system we have today with differing laws for all kinds of differing groups of people based on wealth and income and a plethora of loopholes.

Flat tax, no loopholes, with a bottom exemption cutoff for those at the lowest end of the middle class and in poverty classification. I say the lowest end of the middle class, because taxation should not force people into poverty.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 29, 2005 03:37 AM
Comment #52602
would not discriminate against anyone based on race, religion, gender, or net worth.

OSI,

You keep saying this repeatedly. IF you believe the sufferage of the wealthy to be on par with minority races, religions and women, you really have a scorching case of bleeding heart conservatism that no dose of common sense can cure. Trust me, life on a 6+ digit income just isn’t that bad. =)

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 07:52 AM
Comment #52614

Taylor,

I don’t have sympathy of the wealthy and
I’m not wealthy. As for common sense, I could
say the same about you, but I understand how
ingrained and brainwashed people can be and
try to have more patience.

But there can be no justice for anyone if there’s
no justice for all, regardless of net worth.

So, all of your rationalizations still don’t
justify the violation of anothers’ rights.

One injustice leads to more injustices.
It’s so out of hand, that many think it’s
quite justifiable to tax people based on income.
Unfair taxation is a significant problem that
affects everyone, the economy, and sets a bad
example, that teaches people that it is OK to
penalize people for various reasons (based merely
on race, religion, gender, or net worth, etc.)

Affirmative Action is another example of such
wrong thinking, that actually creates resentments
and more racism. No one should be treated with
preference or penalized based on race, gender,
religion, or net worth).

So, trust me, one’s 6+ digit income makes no
difference to me. And, $100,000 is not that
much these days…that’s barely above middle
class, and after paying 39% (or more) to taxes
doesn’t leave much. Yes, taxes are too high
now for middle-class and the wealthy. The best
way to lower taxes is for the government to
cut spending, cut government employees, and
cut waste. It’s mind boggling how many things the
government meddles in, and mostly screws them up.
Look at the billions the government pours into
the Energy Department. So, where’s our Energy
Plan? Despite the billions to pay a lot of
dead weight to manage this country’s Energy needs,
we have no Energy Plan. Once again, if you want
something all screwed up, let the government do it.
They have a talent and great track record for it. And what about the billions spent on
Health Care? The government and greedy lawyers
and Insurance companies have thoroughly screwed
it up so that Americans spend more than any other
country for Health Care, but receive less for the
cost. More and more Americans can’t afford
Health Insurance, and many of them are now
middle class.

The root of the problem is laziness, which breeds
greed, corruption, legal plunder, crooked
politics, and a government full of parasites
living off the hard work and sweat of the
citizens of the nation.

If people concentrate on the fundamentals, with
no comprimises or rationalizations to treat any
class or portion of society (based on race,
religion, gender, or income), and make sure
every policy passes the most basic tests to
preserve everyone’s inalienable human rights,
we could fix the problem.

Currently, the biggest problem is a corrupt and
arrogant government that the people can control.
It’s not a government of the people, by the
people, for the people. It’s a government for
the crooks. The crooked politicians and government
employees are not completely to blame. We, the
voters have allowed it to happen. To ignore the
government is to invite abuses. And you can take
most any individual, elect them to an office in
the government, and they too will succumb to the
greed, corruption, pandering, pork-barrel, and
mentality of tax-and-tax-and-spend-and-spend,
and grow the government more ane more (like a
cancer growing out of control).

Based on history, which repeats itself over and
over, it will not resolve itself (not peacefully
anyway). But there is a peaceful way to bring
about significant improvements in which many more
improvements would naturally follow, if people
would simply implement this … One Simple Idea … . . . .

Posted by: ...One Simple Idea... at April 29, 2005 10:13 AM
Comment #52615

AP,
You’re the one that disputes the obvious.
If you don’t believe it, you prove it wrong.
Good try though.

Posted by: ...One Simple Idea... at April 29, 2005 10:15 AM
Comment #52623

AP wrote:
|
| The wealthy spend more on homes, products,
| higher education, automobiles, food, services,
| etc. And I’m just supposed to just take your
| word for it..? How about some figures. Talk to
| me about daily expenditures on food, clothes,
| shelter, gasoline, and health care. How much
| more, if any, does a wealthy person spend on
| staples every day compared to middle-class me?
|
| … Of course not. That would lead to serious
| debate. :)
|

AP,

OK, here’s some proof that wealthy spend more than the less wealthy…

1 , 2 , 3 , 4

….” Respected economists have shown that the wealthy spend much more on food, clothing, housing, and medical care than do the poor.” ….

5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 9 , 10

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:03 AM
Comment #52624

I’m not the one trying to convice everybody that the rich are getting screwed. :)

If you’re serious about your OSI, you need to do the convincing. And I’m not convinced.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 29, 2005 11:04 AM
Comment #52626

OSI,

I’m not buying that freedom of net worth is a fundamental right under natural law, the way you are. I agree with you that government corruption is a serious problem, rooted in greed. Out one side of your mouth, you’re promoting greed as a fundamental right, and out the other side, you’re citing it as an atrocity that’s undermining the effectiveness of our government.

So which is it? Are you pro-greed or not?

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 11:08 AM
Comment #52630

AP,

OK, here’s some proof that wealthy spend more…

1 , 2 , 3 , 4

….” Respected economists have shown that the wealthy spend much more on food, clothing, housing, and medical care than do the poor.” ….

5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 9 , 10

Posted by: OSI at April 29, 2005 11:10 AM
Comment #52634

I’m just promoting equal treatment for everyone.
Nothing more.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:12 AM
Comment #52635

4

….” Respected economists have shown that the wealthy spend much more on food, clothing, housing, and medical care than do the poor.” ….

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:13 AM
Comment #52636

That’s OK if you don’t agree. Really!
I can accept that others don’t agree, and
recognize they have that right.

All I can do is present the idea, plant a seed,
and hope it will grow, based on it’s merits.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:16 AM
Comment #52639

….what do you mean by ?

“that freedom of net worth is a fundamental right under natural law”

Are you saying wealthy should be taxed more?
_____
How about we wipe the slate, get rid of all
taxes, all property taxes, all tax loop holes,
and deductions, cut government and spending,
and implement a low tax based on spending only?

For example (sales tax ONLY):

City and/or County: 4%
State and/y County Sales Tax: 6%
Federal Sales Tax: 7%
_____________________________________
17% maximum (only on dollars spent)

The ONLY items not taxed (if ANY) would be
MEDICAL and food. And of course, public
education would not be taxed.


Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:24 AM
Comment #52640

We won the cold war, but Russia got the Flat Tax.

Russia’s Flat Tax Miracle”


Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:29 AM
Comment #52643

… and now, IRAQ is going to get a flat tax before Americans do …

Flat Tax for IRAQ”

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 11:33 AM
Comment #52657

Also, some say there’s no such thing as a fair tax.
Perhaps, we should abolish all taxes, and make
everyone pay for everything they use. Education,
medical, food, etc.
And just rely on charity to provide a National
Defense and welfare for the poor.
Well, that essentially, would spell the end
of civilization (if you want to call it that).

Therefore, it appears, some form of taxation is required. What’s the best form ?

[X] Flat Income Tax? (with or without caps)
[X] Graduated Progressive Tax?
[X] Flat Sales Tax? (with or without caps)
[X] Property Tax?
[X] Lower Cutoff points for the poor ?
[X] Upper Cutoff points for the rich ?
[X] Some or All of the above (what we have now).
[X] Which is easiest to enforce? Which will receive the highest compliance?

No person is an island.
A National Defense is something we all need,
and something we should all pay for.
Law Enforcement is a common need.
And how we care for the truly needy is a measure
of passion and our civilization, and somehting
most would agree we should all provide.
And, some believe we need public education,
otherwise the poor will never get educated.
There are some obvious things that are obviously
good for society, and no one should mind funding.
However, too often, too many things are added to
the list that don’t belong there. Not everything
is an inalienable human right or justifiable entitlement.

Perhaps we should first agree on some
basic philosophies:

[1] All persons are equal (i.e. have
equal human rights);
[2] no one should be penalized or rewarded
based on race, religion, gender, wealth, etc.;
thus, envy of those with more is never justified; pretend you just met
this person and you have no idea how wealthy they are;
[3] people can do as they like, as long as it
doesn’t violate another’s rights;
[4] force is never justified, except for self
defense or to bring criminals to justice who
have violated the rights of others;

So, most people would agree with these…
Now, try to derive a fair tax system while
trying to adhere to those basic principles
and philosophies.

Well, the problem is, some can’t let loose of
their ENVY of the wealthy. They’ll insist the
wealthy must pay higher rates. The wealthy,
like anyone, don’t like taxes, and some clearly
don’t like paying a higher rate, much less a
higher total amount. Some will say the poor
should pay no taxes. Some will say the wealthy
got that way by cheating the poor. Well that may
be true, but that’s an issue of law enforcement,
and shouldn’t be an issue of one’s wealth.

So, what we’re left with is the most unfair
tax system that is a combination of all tax
systems. We’re taxed on everything from A to Z.

Some people are proposing a 23% National Sales
tax, but that’s too high. Governments ought
to be able to operate on a smaller percentage. For example:

City and/or County Sales TAX: 4% (Maximum by law)
State Sales TAX: 6% (Maximum by law)
Federal Sales TAX: 7% (Maximum by law)
_____________________________________
maximum (only on dollars spent) 17%

If governments can’t operate within those limits,
they they need to cut spending, cut government
employees, and cut waste.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 01:06 PM
Comment #52658

OSI, you have a misconception of flat tax. First let’s clarify, flat tax refers to rate. A flat tax rate is the complete phrase and concept being discussed. A flat tax, (not rate) is everyone pays $25 per year regardless of spending or income or anything else. So, let’s be clear we are talking a flat tax rate.

Second. A flat sales tax rate works like this. Liza makes $24,000 a year supporting 3 kids. She spends every cent on the necessities like house payment, food, clothing, insurance, school supplies, medical and dental and eyewear expenses. Under your plan (assuming 17%) she would pay 17% of her income as taxes.

Now, George makes $500,000 per year salary, and another $100,000 per year on investment returns, 40,000 of which is capital gains and 60,000 in stock options which are automatically reinvested. George only needs to spend $350,00 per year to live on, the same things Liza does and a few others, sail boat, extra vehicles, etc.

When Liza dies, she will still be paying 17 percent in taxes. George on the other hand over his lifetime will save many millions of dollars tax free. The effective tax rate for George will be down around 7% of his income.

Now Liza will have little to pass on to her kids, which is as it should be based her income and decisions to spend. However, George passes his wealth on to his offspring, tax free under your plan, and they in turn invest it living off only part of the yields. Now George’s children are quick, they realize that if their investment income is made in the US, they will pay no tax. And if they make their purchases overseas in income tax nations, they can also pay little tax. So they sell their assets in the US and buy a villa in Cypress, rent a flat in NY, and pay an effective tax rate of about 5% (assuming they are taxed on services as well as goods like taxis, maids, and chauffeurs.)

There is no such thing as a flat tax rate if it is based on sales between the working poor and the wealthy. The wealthier one is, the less percentage of tax one pays based on one’s income and wealth.

Now you could move to tax investment vehicle purchases and all services as well as commodities to level the playing field a bit, but, then, you no longer have a simple tax system and the loopholes would proliferate under such a system as they do under our current system.

Flat tax only has meaning if it is based on earned income, all earned income. Then regardless of class, all members of society modestly above the poverty line, pay the same tax rate which is perceived as fair.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 29, 2005 01:22 PM
Comment #52660

OSI,

How can there be such a thing as “monetary equality”? Unless we do away with money altogether, some will have more than others, some will pay more than others. You’re consistently putting net worth on the level of racial equality, and that’s where you’re losing me.

You are arguing for equal treatment for a minority group that doesn’t want equal treatment. They don’t want to be the same as everyone else, they want to be better, have more stuff, own bigger multiple homes, a new lexus, etc.

I can guarantee you the very people you’re arguing for would never support getting rid of property taxes. Property tax plays a role in determining who can and can’t live next door to you. Affluent suburbs are in the habit of setting high property taxes on top of high property values in order to keep out the riff raff.

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 01:24 PM
Comment #52662
[2] no one should be penalized or rewarded based on race, religion, gender, wealth, etc.; thus, envy of those with more is never justified; pretend you just met this person and you have no idea how wealthy they are;

Ok, let’s say you’re an employer, and you interview two people for a position. Both have equal qualifications and are the same race. In the first interview, you notice that the address of the person is in a not so nice part of town, and while dressed professionally, their clothes are modest. They talk about their kids and some trouble they’ve had with the kids’ public school being recently closed and now they have to be bussed across town. In the 2nd interview, you notice the person lives in an affluent suburb, they are dressed in a very expensive suit, wear some very nice accessories, and talk about thier boat and golf outings during the interview.

It’s time to fill the job. Who do you hire and why?

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 01:39 PM
Comment #52668

Taylor wrote:
|
| Ok, let’s say you’re an employer, and you
| interview two people for a position. Both
| have equal qualifications and are the same
| race. ….It’s time to fill the job.
| Who do you hire and why?
|

I would hire the one that is most qualified to
do the job, based on skills and personality,
as will, most likely, the company (especailly not a rich person if I hate rich people).

Where they live and how much money they have
should not matter. In fact, that is
discrimination and it is illegal.

Still, the company, if they’re smart and want
to be competitive, will hire the person that
will do the job the best (as it should be),
regardless of their wealth.


Taylor wrote:
| OSI,
|
| How can there be such a thing as “monetary
| equality”? Unless we do away with money
| altogether, some will have more than others,
| some will pay more than others. You’re
| consistently putting net worth on the level of
| racial equality, and that’s where you’re
| losing me.
|
| You are arguing for equal treatment for a
| minority group that doesn’t want equal
| treatment. They don’t want to be the same as
| everyone else, they want to be better, have
| more stuff, own bigger multiple homes, a new
| lexus, etc.
|
| I can guarantee you the very people you’re
| arguing for would never support getting rid of
| property taxes. Property tax plays a role in
| determining who can and can’t live next door
| to you. Affluent suburbs are in the habit of
| setting high property taxes on top of high
| property values in order to keep out the riff
| raff.

I know I’m losing you on that. That’s OK.
We clearly have a different philosophy on the
subject of whether the rich should be penalized.

That’s a good point about the property tax, and
the wealthy may like the high property tax.

That’s all the more reason to get rid of the
property taxes altogether.

The cost of a property alone will control who
buys it. True, without a high property tax,
someone may come build a small, not so pretty
house, right next to a mansion. That’s tough.
If the mansion owner doesn’t like it, they need
to buy up a million acres and live smack dab in
the middle of it, far removed from the riff-raff.

Still, punishing the rich is ENVY disguised as
demands for EQUALITY and fails the fundamental
tests of equality and basic rights, since penalizing the rich violates a
person’s rights. I don’t care how wealthy they
are.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 02:08 PM
Comment #52670
I would hire the one that is most qualified to do the job, based on skills and personality, as will, most likely, the company (especailly not a rich person if I hate rich people).

They have no notable difference in qualifications for the position, I said that.

Where they live and how much money they have should not matter. In fact, that is discrimination and it is illegal.

Feel free to visit the US Equal Opportunity Commission

The criteria I’ve asked you to make a decision on is neither discriminatory nor illegal. No matter how BADLY you want it to be, it’s not.

Still, the company, if they’re smart and want to be competitive, will hire the person that will do the job the best (as it should be), regardless of their wealth.

But which person to hire? Are they both equal in every way preventing you from answering this simple question?

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 02:23 PM
Comment #52673

Taylor
Each individual interview will be different.
Many jobs are won or lost based on the interview.

OSI
“Still, punishing the rich is ENVY disguised as
demands for EQUALITY and fails the fundamental
tests of equality and basic rights, since penalizing the rich violates a
person’s rights. I don’t care how wealthy they
are.”

Very well said.
But without envy, the class warfare card could not be used to buy votes and the liberal platform would no longer be needed.
You have to remember, personal responsibility is no longer part of our govts vocabulary.

Posted by: kctim at April 29, 2005 02:33 PM
Comment #52674

David R. Remer,

I would not be terribly opposed to a flat tax rate on income at the city & country, state, and national levels if:

(1) all other taxes are abolished (e.g. property, sales tax, fuel tax, telephone tax, etc.)
(2) all tax loop holes are abolished
(3) all tax deductions are abolished
(4) the flat tax rate is equal for everyone
(5) the governments can never increase the rate
(6) the flat income tax rate percentages are low
(not 17%…lower if it’s based on income)
For example, Flat Income Tax Rates:
[x] City and/or County (3%)
[x] State {5%)
[X] National (6%)
_______________________________________
Maximum Rate (14%)

Of course, none of this will ever happen.
I’d just be happy and think things would be
better if we the people could gain a bit of
control over our government that is (supposedly)
supposed to be of the people, for the people,
by the people. As it is now, there’s grid-lock,
the most simple improvements can’t be implemented, problems go unsolved,
corruption and pork-barrel is rampant, debt is growing, and our choices at the
voting boothes are very limited.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 02:34 PM
Comment #52676

Taylor,

Sorry, I missed the point that they were equal in every way, except wealth.

Well, in that case, I would vote for the poor person, because I hate rich people. :) (just kidding).

I don’t know. But their wealth would not affect my decision.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 02:41 PM
Comment #52677

…. also, most of the hardest working and most
motivated people I’ve known were not rich,
because they were motivated to rise above
their poverty, or simply trying to get ahead to
pay for their children’s educations, etc.

So, I honestly might actually hire the person
I think is the most motivate also, and that
may not be the rich person.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 02:45 PM
Comment #52681
Still, punishing the rich is ENVY disguised as demands for EQUALITY and fails the fundamental tests of equality and basic rights, since penalizing the rich violates a person’s rights. I don’t care how wealthy they are.

Which rights? Life? Liberty? Freedom of speech? From what source are you deriving these rights?

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 03:14 PM
Comment #52684

Taylor,
There should be a crime before one is punished.
What is their crime ?

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 03:29 PM
Comment #52686
…. also, most of the hardest working and most motivated people I’ve known were not rich, because they were motivated to rise above their poverty, or simply trying to get ahead to pay for their children’s educations, etc.

So, I honestly might actually hire the person
I think is the most motivate also, and that
may not be the rich person.

One could decide either way, some might assume the less fortunate person to be a more devouted worker, some might consider the more fortunate person to be better adjusted, more professional, having a crisper look.

The point I’m trying to make is — we make decisions every day that judge people based on thier class status, some good decisions, some not good. On this aspect of a person’s attributes, we will never have equality, but should we judge them on it? If “net worth” should be a protected status, why doesn’t the EEOC mention it in equal opportunity employment clauses?

Being well off comes with many obvious benefits, but don’t those benefits come with some responsibility too? Would Bill Gates be as wealthy if he had been born and lived in Kenya?
Is Bill Gates oppressed and really being discriminated against by taxes because we all envy him?

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 03:35 PM
Comment #52706

Taylor wrote:
| If “net worth” should be a protected status,
| why doesn’t the EEOC mention it in equal
| opportunity employment clauses?

It should be, but it’s not, because nobody can
muster up much sympathy for the wealthy.
They figure they can go back and sulk in their
mansions or yachts. Also, since when was the
government ever quick to do anything.
And, it could be that it’s obvious to most people
that a person’s wealth does not justify
discrimination, that no one felt it was necessary
to create another law?

Taylor wrote:
| Being well off comes with many obvious
| benefits, but don’t those benefits come with
| some responsibility too? Would Bill Gates be
| as wealthy if he had been born and lived in
| Kenya? Is Bill Gates oppressed and really
| being discriminated against by taxes because
| we all envy him?
|
Yes, they should volunteer (but not be forced) to
waive their Social Security benefits. We can
make fun of them (at worst) if they don’t,
and say “How greedy is that?” , but still
recognize their right to do so if they wish…
like I recognize your right to your opinions
even if we disagree (a right that is rooted
in a basic and fundamental philosophy based
on the rights of free speech).

Bill Gates is very generous, and contributes
billions of dollars for all kinds of things.
I just wish he’d spend some of that money
do eliminate a few of the thousands of bugs in
his software. Also, Bill Gates is so rich,
he probably doesn’t waste a lot of time and
effort worrying about taxes. He’s more concerned
about beating down his competition (sometimes
unfairly and violating the laws).

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at April 29, 2005 04:30 PM
Comment #52730

OSI,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but according to you, people are punished for being rich… If that’s the case, why does everyone want to be rich? The idea of punishing the wealthy is almost a paradox. They are the masterminds of society and hold the greatest power, how does one go about punishing them?

For instance, when the permanent income tax in the US was first presented as a punishment for rich people, rich people quickly outsmarted the system by putting their money in ships, the first ever tax loop-hole. As we all know, the income tax eventually trickled down to all levels of society, thereby screwing the poor. The moral of the story: the poor always end up getting the short end of the stick.

Posted by: Zeek at April 29, 2005 05:17 PM
Comment #52736

“according to you, people are punished for being rich… If that’s the case, why does everyone want to be rich?”

ENVY.
If it wasn’t, there would be no rich liberals. They would put their OWN money where their mouths were and make all the great social programs they claim they love, better.
Hollywood, the kennedy’s and Mr. heinz prove that every day.

Posted by: kctim at April 29, 2005 05:38 PM
Comment #52739
ENVY.

… or greed. We are a naturally greedy species, and we’re in a time that promotes and glamorizes that greed more than ever before.

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 05:51 PM
Comment #52768

Greed and laziness are natural human tendencies,
but it is immoral to surrender to it.

Zeek,
You’re absolutely right. In the end, the
rich still get their way…via tax loop holes,
deductions, etc. That’s why a more simple
tax system is needed. No loop holes.

The term “punishing the rich” is what we attempt
to do when we raise their rates even higher.
That didn’t work either. Still too many loop holes.

A simple tax system could remedy much of this.
Yes, many wealthy people created the tax loop
holes, and the complicated tax system.
Complication makes it hard to know what’s going
on. Complication is often unnecessary
and by design, and created by wealthy politicians, so they can pay less tax.

However, there may be “One Simple Way” to fix the system (peacefully) … …

Posted by: One Simple Solution... at April 29, 2005 07:38 PM
Comment #52776
A simple tax system could remedy much of this.

Simple is good, however, as David pointed out, a flat tax rate doesn’t have the result you’re hoping it does.

Posted by: Taylor at April 29, 2005 08:13 PM
Comment #52783

What would be a good TAX system ?
Does anyone really know ?
None of them can make everyone happy.
Perhaps, if taxes were low and reasonable to
begin with, there would not be so much debate
on what to do with the TAX system.

One thing is for certain. It needs simplification. Perhaps many other good
things would naturally follow if we simply
had a responsible government with less
corruption and greed, and more Transparency
and Accountability.

Perhaps debate on TAXes is a waste of time,
if we never address the core, fundamental
problem, cause, solution, and implementation.

What we may need is One-Simple-Idea to first
implement basic reform, and perhaps many other
benefits would naturally follow…

Posted by: One Simple Solution... at April 29, 2005 09:09 PM
Comment #52784

If anyone were trying to punish the rich, they would be advocating making the rich live on $35,000 a year. Now that would be punishment.

What is being asked here is a fair and simple tax plan that would require all Americans to pay their fair share according to the rewards they enjoy as a result of this society which provides for their mutual defense, decent transportation and freedom of movement & expression, and pursuit of gainful employment, public schools, building codes and product quality controls and other consumer protections, and all the many other benefits of living in America.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 29, 2005 09:11 PM
Comment #52817

OSI,

“A simple tax system could remedy much of this.
Yes, many wealthy people created the tax loop
holes, and the complicated tax system.
Complication makes it hard to know what’s going
on. Complication is often unnecessary
and by design, and created by wealthy politicians, so they can pay less tax.”

That complication is due to the tremendous amount of add-ons that the left has put on (for the poor) and that the right has put on (for the rich). Everyone tries to look out for his/her constituents, and the people that get them elected. As such, I think finding a perfect balance would be impossible; for, it would require a perfect balance of power.

Your idea is nice and fluffy in theory, but it isn’t practical.

Posted by: Zeek at April 30, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #52834

Then what is?

Simple doesn’t mean nice and fluffy.
Over-simplification is not good, but it is usually
less harmful than over-complication.
Simple is always better than over-complicated.

Actually, debate on so many issues is futile without first addressing the root causes
for many of society’s ailments.

Transparency and Accountability is the real
solution, and many improvements would naturally
follow if we first fix the root problem …

Posted by: One Simple Solution... at April 30, 2005 01:46 PM
Comment #52885

OSI,

“Transparency and Accountability is the real
solution, and many improvements would naturally
follow if we first fix the root problem …”

Ok, I can agree to that. Let’s work from here shall we? How does one go about making the government more transparent and accountable when you have things like the CIA, the FBI, and executive privilege?

Posted by: Zeek at April 30, 2005 10:37 PM
Comment #52939

Kerry Threatens to Unveil Social Security Plan
by Scott Ott (scrappleface.com)
(2005-04-30) — While he was campaigning for president, Sen. John F. Kerry, D-MA, often noted that he had a plan to save Social Security.
Today, in his boldest move yet, he threatened to unveil his plan unless President Bush backs away from his proposal to reform the taxpayer-funded retirement system.
Mr. Kerry, during his 2004 White House bid, suggested he would not “privatize” the money that Americans put into the government-run system, and he would not cut benefits.
However, America’s failure to elect him to the White House seemed to ensure that his Social Security plan would remain cloaked in mystery, since as a mere Senator he can do little more than introduce bills and lead his colleagues to turn them into laws.
“As you’ll recall, my plan is better than the president’s,” said Mr. Kerry at today’s news conference. “It saves our beloved Social Security without any changes to benefits, taxes, or any other element of the system. If the president persists in attacking the co-dependent relationship between America’s seniors and the Democrat party, I will unleash my plan in all its magnificent glory.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, wondered aloud if the Kerry plan might be the hoped for “miracle” that would catapult the Democrat party back to majority status in the Senate in 2006.
Party insiders said that Mr. Kerry’s revived suggestion of a plan also helped to cement his position as “the visionary leader” among Democrats and the frontrunner for the party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

Posted by: useguys at May 1, 2005 08:20 AM
Comment #52960

|| OSI wrote:
|| “Transparency and Accountability is the real
|| solution, and many improvements would
|| naturally follow if we first fix the
|| root problem …”
|
| Zeek wrote:
| Ok, I can agree to that. Let’s work from here
| shall we? How does one go about making the
| government more transparent and accountable
| when you have things like the CIA, the FBI,
| and executive privilege?
|

OK I’d love to give it a try (Let’s work from here, shall we?)…

I don’t know why we need both the CIA (Central Incompetency Agency),
and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Incompetence).
And then there is also the Secret Service too.
The term “SECRET” alone, has some negative connotations. Except for National Security,
there’s too much secrecy, and turf wars, etc.
How about making it one National Security department? The states already provide most
local law enforcement, and the National and State
law enforcement levels need to work together.

And, the president shouldn’t be able to pardon criminals (like Clinton and others before him).

However, many agencies and deparments exist only
as long as Congress and the Executive Branch allow it.
Therefore, we need to give the politicians some incentive to increase transparency and Accountability.

How ? and peacefully too ?

We (the voters) gave it a good try in 1992.
We voted more incumbents out of office than before (in a long time). The only problem was
they didn’t keep it up, and warn the politicians
this was their last term if they don’t (first)
make a few changes to make government more
Transparent and Accountable.

So, “One Simple Idea” is to keep voting out all
incumbents, and vote in ordinary “John Q. Public”
into office, until things improve. Still, it
matters less who we vote for than what they do
after they are elected, but incumbents clearly
need to go (every election, until improvements are made).
(1) Too many things are hidden in large bills.
| Only allow ONE item per bill, so that we
| can see what is really going on.
| Also make all votes behavior and readily
| available to the public.
(2) Reduce government, cut spending, eliminate
| unnecessary departments, agencies, offices,
| commissions, etc.
(3) Implement an “Approval Voting” system.
(4) Enforce the laws and stop perverting the law
| for legal plunder.
(5) Protect or phase out entitlement programs.
| Bush may be attempting the later now.
(6) Pass a “Balanced Budget” amendment and/or
| set a limit on borrowing, and start reducing debt.
| Also, remove Congress’ automatic periodic
| raises. Let the people vote on that, just
| like any other job…raises should depend
| on performance.
(7) When there is grid-lock in Congress, the
| people get to vote on the issue.

The value of this theory is based on the
value of surveillance. It has been shown that
people behave better when they know they’re
accountable (i.e. things are simplified so that
people can see what is really happening).
Transparency is achieved by simplifying the
over-complicated, reducing government, and
making all votes on ONE item bills widely public.
Ignoring government invites abuse and corruption.

This might provide the peaceful force that voters
need to take action (rather than wallow in apathy),
and it may give the politicians the incentive to
police their own ranks if they want voters to
stop voting them out every election.

Also, voters should find ANYONE else to put on
the ballots that are NOT politicians, because
there are probably a whole lot of people in this
country that could do a MUCH better job and be
very happy with the salary.

A potential bonus from these changes may be that
many more improvements may naturally follow,
eliminating many current issues, and both
voters and politicians become truly more
responsible. This plan can only work if voters
become responsible to use the one thing given
to them, already built into the system, and costs nothing; their vote.

Posted by: One Simple Idea... at May 1, 2005 11:18 AM
Comment #52962

The one potential problem with this idea,
despite nothing else seems to be working,
is that the voters can never organize to agree
that this may be the only thing that will work.
It’s theoretically possible, but could it really ever happen? Maybe.
Obviously, there will be a lot of incumbents
spouting many reasons why it won’t work….
that, I would like to see and hear.

Posted by: One Simple Idea... at May 1, 2005 11:27 AM
Comment #52970

OSI,

Wait, so if we follow the idea of voting out all incumbents wouldn’t that lend itself to voting in CRAPPIER people to replace them?

Posted by: Zeek at May 1, 2005 12:06 PM
Comment #52974

No, I don’t think so.
And if they are crappy, we’ll
know it soon, because they will not
have implemented the changes to make
them Accountable and their actions Transparent.

I believe many people could do the job much
better, if the incentive to behave is in place.
It’s not rocket-science , despite the politicians trying to make the people think it is.

If they want to keep their jobs, they’d better
clean up their act, and also police their own
ranks. This system works. It works in the
military, when an entire platoon or squad is
punished because one person is out of line.
In Congress, this could work by which members of
Congress point out those misbehaving. Otherwise,
we continue to vote them all out. Eventually,
after several elections (most likely), when
things have improved, and a few changes have
been implemented to guarantee Transparency and
Accountability, we the voters (who are ultimately
repsonsible), only target the irresponsible
politicians to vote out of office. And whenever
government gets too out of control, the voters
simply start voting them ALL out…every election,
until they clean up their act.
This is the way the system is supposed to work,
but voters have NEVER been able to organize and
unite to do this ONE simple thing.

Posted by: One Simple Idea... at May 1, 2005 12:34 PM
Comment #52976

This idea also would eliminate the obvious
“conflicts-of-interest” main party politicians
currently have. They would have to start
focusing on what the people want, instead of
what the special interest groups want.

And, when there is grid-lock in Congress, the
issue is automatically put to a vote by the people.

The Constitution still exists to protect the
rights of all people. That is still our guide
from which most things are dervied.

Posted by: One Simple Idea... at May 1, 2005 12:39 PM
Comment #53027

OSI,

“And if they are crappy, we’ll
know it soon, because they will not
have implemented the changes to make
them Accountable and their actions Transparent.”

So, then all that we can do is vote him/her out. Which, according to what you are saying, is what we would do anyways.

“I believe many people could do the job much
better, if the incentive to behave is in place.”

What incentives would we give them?

“This system works. It works in the
military, when an entire platoon or squad is
punished because one person is out of line.”

Sometimes ideas are non-transferable between cases. I’m not saying your idea has no merits, I’m just saying that there are some notable fundamental differences between the military and government. For one, the military is all about oportunism and flexibility. In contrast, the government is about justice and moral law. Even if you don’t take into account the OSI, the military and government still operate differntly to a great degree.

“The Constitution still exists to protect the
rights of all people. That is still our guide
from which most things are dervied.”

Alas! For sight of that has been lost upon so many in so short a time period.

Posted by: Zeek at May 1, 2005 11:31 PM
Comment #53038

Zeek…click on my Name/URL…that’s where
the incentives are listed, and the benefits,
and the reasons, and FAQ, and why it could work.
Or, do a Browser search on “One Simple Idea”.

I think there’s many reasons to believe such
a system would also work within government (i.e. police their ranks); read the whole plan…we don’t keep voting them out of office forever, only until the 9 point plan is executed to make government Transparent and Accountable so that we (Voters) can easily identify and eliminate greedy and irresponsible politicians.
The only one big thing that could ruin it is:
(1) Voters never organize to do this ONE simple thing (it’s possible; it needs visibility)
(2) Government changes the rules and/or removes our ability to vote (not likely)

Don’t dismiss it too quickly, and
provide me with some better solutions
where possible. It’s been under way for
a long time. Despite the “picking apart” and
petty partisan bickering, etc., the idea is
within theoretical possibility.

Yes, too many know nothing about the Constitution. Take the 1st Amendment for instance. It’s amazing (especially among
Republicans) that so many don’t understand that one at all.
Our fore fathers wisely recognized that problem
(in 1791) and tried to address it.
But some people don’t get it at all.

Posted by: One Simple Idea... at May 2, 2005 01:17 AM
Comment #53043

(from the Polling Station)…
Do you believe religion should have a place in politics?

N = 7,487 Margin of Error +/- 2.5%
……… Yes ……. No ….. Undec.
Dem …. 22.3% …. 71.7% … 6.0%
Ind …. 36.3% …. 56.7% … 7.0%
Rep …. 67.9% …. 25.3% … 6.8%

Overall Percentages:
41.5% believe that religion has a place in politics
51.9% do not believe it should have a role in politics
6.6% were not sure

Posted by: One Simple Idea... at May 2, 2005 03:11 AM
Comment #53102

OSI, those statistics say this issue will not go away from demanding public resources and time to wrangle over, and that is a shame, because America has much bigger fish to fry if we are to maintain our greatest nation status.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 2, 2005 02:44 PM
Comment #53170

Upon further scrutiny of the OSI, I have noticed 3 things:

I still can’t find a true incentive for politicians.

This advocates a more democratic system, which, in light of the general stupidity of people, I am against.

The OSI seems to think greed is a bad thing… I disagree… It is a tool, one that can either be constructive or destructive. If you got a beef with the politicians being unscrupulous, fine, but leave greed out of this -_-

Posted by: Zeek at May 2, 2005 07:56 PM
Comment #53186

Zeek,
First of all, thank for your analysis.
Now, to address each of the 3 items you noted:
————
(1) The incentive for politicians is that voters keep voting them out of office,
until some basic government reforms take place, and until much of the 9 Point Plan
is implemented. If politicians want to maintain some control and keep their offices,
they will need to start showing some responsibility. And, since politicians will want
the Voters to stop voting them out, they will have some incentive to police their
own ranks, so that a few bad apples don’t keep getting them all voted out.
The voters will have no shortage of people to place on all ballots (especially after
implementing an Approval Voting System which will increase Voters choices).
And voters will not simply replace politicians, each election, with more main
party candidates. Also, it matters less who is voted into office, than what they
do after being elected. Voters should look for good people (not necessarily
just rich people with a lot of campaign money) to put on all ballots.
There will be and incentive for the politicians is to keep their jobs and some
control, but also start showing some responsibility by implementing the
required “9 Point Plan”.
—————
(2) I try to maintain some hope (it is hard) for the people in general,
despite (as you say) their general stupidity. Also, the plan is not for a system
more democratic than what it was supposed to be from the very beginning.
This idea does not propose major changes to the system, as much as it
proposes major changes to the people and how they should educate themselves
about human tendencies, and how to use transparency and accountability to
limit the harm that can come from surrendering to these human tendencies,
and how voters can use this one simple solution, that is easy to understand ,
easy to peacefully implement , wisely uses the one thing each voter already has,
which is already built into the existing system, and costs nothing: their vote
And, I don’t blame politicians only for the way things are. All people (Voters and Politicians)
are ultimately responsible. The root problem is a human tendency, a failing.
It is laziness, greed, and corruption. While a natural human tendency,
it is immoral to surrender to it completely. Voters must snap out of their apathy,
and unite to make government transparent and accountable.
Subsequently, many improvements would naturally follow, and many
previous problems would get resolved.
——————
(3) I’m not sure how to debate greed, or whether that’s a good tangent
to go off on. It is a large mix of human traits that create a personality.
All I can say about any human trait, including greed, is that too much of
practically anything can become a bad thing. So, perhaps, the problem in government
is too much greed, which creates too much corruption, which causes more
harm than good, especially if it is unchecked, due to insufficient
transparency and accountability.
So, sorry, I can’t leave greed out of it.
I never did buy that line by completely when I
first heard Michael Douglas say it in the movie Wall Street” (1987).
—————-

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 2, 2005 10:10 PM
Comment #53190

OSI,

“If politicians want to maintain some control and keep their offices,
they will need to start showing some responsibility. And, since politicians will want
the Voters to stop voting them out, they will have some incentive to police their
own ranks, so that a few bad apples don’t keep getting them all voted out.”

How do you evaluate the progress? That alone might split voters. You can have one camp that feels that the incumbents have done a great job with progressing transparency and accountability. Thus, the vote once more turns into politicking, or, how good can you make yourself look without actually doing anything? Rather than actually be accountable and transparent, politicians will merely put on a visage for appearances.

“I try to maintain some hope (it is hard) for the people in general,
despite (as you say) their general stupidity.”

A merit of your idea I feel I should mention is that with transparency and accountability, a greater degree of democracy might (might) not be a bad thing. However, that takes us back to the problem: how does one go about institutionalizing accountability?

“So, perhaps, the problem in government
is too much greed, which creates too much corruption, which causes more
harm than good, especially if it is unchecked, due to insufficient
transparency and accountability.”

My response is that any emotion that is not tempered with control is bad and potentially harmful. Anger, fear, greed, and even happiness can all be negative if not taken in moderation. To try to single greed out is unneccessary; as you said, this emotion ceases to be a problem when there is greater transparency and accountability. Therefore, it makes little sense to bicker about how all the politicians are good-for-nothing greedy scum-bags when that does nothing.

What you need to figure out is how to unite people in this one simple idea (the best I can come up with is a new political party, and God knows we don’t need more of that :P).

Posted by: Zeek at May 2, 2005 10:46 PM
Comment #53202

The “Approval Voting System” would provide a lot more choices. Many countries are already using this system.

Yes. Spreading the word and uniting voters is the hard part.
I’m searching and researching ways to unite Voters.
The message must be simple. 1992 was some indication it could work.
There’s hope. Search “One Simple Idea” in your browser and see the first couple of hits.
Those are not mine. An idea can spread if it resonates with voters.

Another party is not a bad thing.
As it is now, we really only have 3 parties,
and we usually only have a few not-so-great choices.

A party that champions this idea may get
more support than they ever dreamed possible.

It might take a long time, but the whole idea is to present one simple solution to voters that is
easy to understand , easy to peacefully implement , wisely uses the one thing each voter
already has, which is already built into the existing system, and costs nothing: their vote

I’ve tried to tone down my dislike of parasitic
politicians, some lawyers, and some clergy, but perhaps it’s still too caustic.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 3, 2005 12:41 AM
Comment #53203

Oh…to answer the other question.
Voters, in the beginning, should vote out ALL
incumbents in the early stages, until most of
the 9 Point Plan is implemented.
And when in doubt, vote them ALL out.
Eventually, after the 9 Point Plan is
implemented, the voters will have the tools they need to easily
identify the irresponsible politicians. The other politicians must convince
the voters that the politicians now have the peoples’ best interests in mind,
and voters can start to ease up, and only
vote out the bad apples based on the transparency
that attained to identify the bad apples.
And if things get out of hand later, start
again, voting them all out, every election,
until they get the message, and clean up their acts.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 3, 2005 12:58 AM
Comment #53250

Zeek,
Thanks again. Perhaps I can clarify:
| Zeek wrote:
| OSI,
| How do you evaluate the progress? That alone might split voters.
| You can have one camp that feels that the incumbents have done
| a great job with progressing transparency and accountability.
| Thus, the vote once more turns into politicking, or, how good can
| you make yourself look without actually doing anything?
| Rather than actually be accountable and transparent,
| politicians will merely put on a visage for appearances.
|
|
Zeek,
To answer the question about evaluating progress…
The 9 Point Plan should be used to measure progress.
As those items get [X] checked off the list, the voters and politicians
will receive increased transparency required to determine who to keep and
who to eliminate. In the beginning, for a few elections, it’s safe to say
they all should go, until items start getting check off the list, to peacefully
force politicians to pass some of the items on the 9 Point Plan.
For instance, only allowing ONE item per bill would increase transparency a LOT ,
and make it obvious how each politician voted.
The good politicians will be quick to point out the voting patterns of the bad politicians,
and ONE item per bill will keep them all from hiding a bunch of pork-barrel and
crap in each bill. I know you’ll say that’s how it is now, but, actually, now,
too many bad apples exist with people knowing it, and too many items
in a bill makes it impossible to know the voting patterns and motives and
reasons for voting on ANY bill.
|
| A merit of your idea I feel I should mention is that with
| transparency and accountability, a greater degree of democracy
| might (might) not be a bad thing. However, that takes us back to
| the problem: how does one go about institutionalizing accountability?
|
Again, the 9 Point Plan will increase transparency by allowing only
ONE item per bill, which make it very clear what is going on (unlike now).
Widely publicizing votes on each single item bill will make it hard to
conceal hidden agendas. And Voters will just simply keep voting ALL
politicians out of office until they implement the 9 Point Plan which
gives the people (voters and politicians) the tools (i.e. transparency and
visibility) to easily identify the politicians voting against the majority.
I’m an engineer/software developer, so I have a knack for breaking
things down to basic and more manageable components , but I realize
human nature and psychology are inescapable factors to contend with.
|
| My response is that any emotion that is not tempered with
| control is bad and potentially harmful. Anger, fear, greed, and
| even happiness can all be negative if not taken in | moderation.
| To try to single greed out is unnecessary; as you said, this emotion
| ceases to be a problem when there is greater transparency and
| accountability. Therefore, it makes little sense to bicker about how
| all the politicians are good-for-nothing greedy scum-bags when that does nothing.
|
I see your point. My goal in using personality traits is to identify the
human factors and psychology that drive our natural tendencies,
that shape reality, regardless of morals and desire.
|
| My response is that any emotion that is not tempered with control is
| bad and potentially harmful. Anger, fear, greed, and even happiness
| can all be negative if not taken in moderation. To try to single greed
| out is unneccessary; as you said, this emotion ceases to be a problem
| when there is greater transparency and accountability. Therefore,
| it makes little sense to bicker about how all the politicians are
| good-for-nothing greedy scum-bags when that does nothing
|
OK. You are correct. We’re all really responsible, and I have said that.
I thought it might help to provoke Voters to take some action,
because the monkey is on the Voters back (to take action).
But that tactic may be doing more harm than good.
|
| What you need to figure out is how to unite people in this one simple idea
| …. and God knows we don’t need more of that :P)
|
I’m all ears and open to suggestions.
Hmmm? I wouldn’t rule out another new party, if it can win over voters,
and resonate with more voters, using ONE simple idea , to bring about
Transparency and Accountability , which is ALL that is needed to
make things much better, and only needs one simple thing: their vote

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 3, 2005 11:53 AM
Comment #53278

I agree with David about the flat tax being the best for a simple, fair tax system.

A sales tax hurts the very poor more. Case in point; state sales taxes, most states dont charge sales tax on food from the grocery store, but they tax prepared food from a rest. That sounds quite fair untill you consider that a homeless person with no place to cook anything has to pick up pop cans to go to burger doodle and get taxed at the same rate as someone eats out when they can afford to, not because they are forced to.

Posted by: Beagle at May 3, 2005 03:01 PM
Comment #53318

Yes, after seriously looking at all major tax systems,
the “Flat Income Tax Percentage Rate” looks to be
the most fair (see David, there’s still hope?).
I had previously been for a Flat Sales Tax Percentage Rate system,
but it’s hard to support, since the poorest would end up paying the largest percentage of income.

It’s impossible to create a tax system everyone will like,
but for it to be above reproach, and be respected, it must be as fair as possible.

Of course, the following must be eliminated:
(1) upper-level caps;
(2) all tax-loop-holes;
(3) all tax deductions;

The only exception would be an exempt cut-off point
at the low income level; for those below the poverty level.

_________
How did the marraige penalty tax ever come about?
Who gets credit for that one?

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 3, 2005 08:02 PM
Comment #53340

Oh…and Taylor deserves some credit too…you helped convince me Flat Sales Tax Percentage Rate is not that fair.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 4, 2005 12:02 AM
Comment #53540

It is good to see OSI that some come to WB with an open mind which can be influenced by sound facts and logic. I have changed my opinion on a number of issues since arriving here.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 5, 2005 11:39 AM
Comment #53620

David R. Remer,

Yes, ya’ll did change my mind about some things.
Facts and logic did it (but, I’m still reserving judgment about the Social Security thing, since it still
remains to be seen whether government will not mismanage Social Security
to the point of ruin; but, I recognize it’s benefits to many thus far too). At first, I vehemently opposed and fought it,
because what you were saying went against my long-held beliefs.
I had only looked at it only from a “pure individual rights” point of view, and never
thoroughly examined the “burdens that individuals impose on society” point of view.
It’s hard to live in a society with out ever being a burden and/or benefit.
And, people should not be wishy-washy, and just give up or give in,
or abandon what they truly believe, but people must try to keep an open
mind (though, difficult), because something or someone might come along
and shatter a belief. We shouldn’t lazily dismiss it, or ignore it if it is disturbing,
but we should have a duty to ourselves to investigate it.

The grueling process is somewhat revealing about how difficult it is to get people to genuinely
rethink some long-held beliefs. Some are programmed (brain washed) at an early age, and blindly
accept many things without ever questioning them.
Some (right and wrong), of which, we’ll probably never let go of.

But, your point is important.
There is much to be learned by debating beliefs, sharing and testing
them with others in a common forum, striving to find credible facts
and logic to support those beliefs, exercising our minds, and sometimes
learning that some of our beliefs are disturbingly in conflict with some
other more fundamental beliefs, requiring us to re-evaluate our beliefs, sometimes leading
to new insight, of which we’ll all benefit.

Posted by: One Simple Idea . . . at May 6, 2005 12:46 AM
Comment #53622

Open minds belong in the third party/independent column I think, the other two columns are awfully consumed by trying to make the reality fit their ideology, instead of the other way around.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2005 02:24 AM