(Source: Census.gov)>

If we were all to become suddenly rich tomorrow, the government’s revenue problems are solved at the current tax rates, so no worries in that case. But I place long odds on that, so let’s move on to what’s actually happening.

It’s as if the entire country has turned into Lake Wobegon, as if we’ve been overcome by an epidemic of illusory superiority.  As I’ve watched the Republican debates, I’ve listened closely for the applause lines, paid close attention to the questions and answers. I also keenly read a variety of papers and  occasionally watched Fox News.

My conclusion?

I am convinced that when President Obama mentions raising taxes on “the wealthiest Americans,” everyone thinks he is talking about them. I’m sure of it. I suppose I should be surprised, but when citizens admonish politicians to “Keep the government out of [their] Medicare,” I guess anything’s possible (like, say, an audience applauding the mere mention that Rick Perry has presided over more state-run executions than any governor in modern times).

Perhaps folks are thinking, “Well, my taxes might not go up now, since I’m making the median income, but my wages are going to quintuple any day now, I just know it.  And when they do, I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay one more plug nickel in taxes.  I also need to protect the loopholes for corporate jet owners, as I’ll surely soon be one.”  Folks, can we have a reality check here?  Pull out your most recent IRS Form 1040 and see exactly where you stand and whether or not you’re among the “wealthiest Americans” to which Obama has been referring.  There is no doubt that some of you are, but I am equally sure that the vast majority of you are not, even if TBP may draw a somewhat higher income cohort.  (As I read the comments to my recent post on the Census release (having already almost completed this post), I guess what I’m trying to say is summed up by Dogfish, who paraphrases Taibbi’s Griftopia:  “”…tea party types like Joe the Plumber identify with the rich because they think “they are one clogged toilet away from being millionaires.”"  News flash: they’re not.)

To quickly demonstrate the faulty thinking that must be at play here, let’s have a look at some economic statistics from the area in which Monday night’s debate took place.  Specifically the zip code in which the Florida State Fairgrounds resides — 33610.  Seems fair, since the audience was certainly enthusiastic enough about the slate of debaters and most definitely jazzed not to have their taxes raised.  (With all credit to The Reformed Broker for his astute observation, it did seem as though most of the audience arrived at the Fairgrounds in their Medicare-funded Rascal Scooters.)

Unfortunately, the American Community Survey (ACS) covering the 2010 Census won’t be released until Sept. 22, so we’ll have no choice but to use data from the 2000 Census (I’ll make a note to revisit this data in a couple of weeks).  So what do we learn about all those folks in 33610 (click through for Census fact sheet) who seem deathly afraid of having their taxes raised?

Give or take, it would seem there are probably just over 100 or so households (out of 12,000) that might see their taxes rise if some of what Obama proposes gets passes.  All the others, not so much.  We’ll have an updated number within the next two weeks, when the ACS is updated.  So let’s get a collective grip here, splash some cold water on our faces, and have an understanding about what is being proposed and whom it’s going to impact.

Having gotten that off my chest, below is another of the more distressing charts that appeared in the deck that accompanied the recent Census conference call on the Income/Poverty/Health Insurance release.  Neither chart (at the top or immediately below) really needs much by way of explanation.  It would be an understatement to call the trends disturbing.

~~~

~~~

Lastly, might as well get it out there that I’m making an effort to have a presence on Twitter.  I’m @TBPInvictus if you’re interested; it’s almost exclusively economy and markets related.  You’ll be wealthier for the follow.

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

87 Responses to “Attention Americans: You Won’t All Be Rich Tomorrow”

  1. Nuggz says:

    Based on the bump stickers I see here in Texas, people don’t care about being rich because quote:

    Don’t let the car fool you, my treasure is in heaven.

    So it’s all good.

  2. Francois says:

    Before we get a true Bonus Army like in the 20′s, we’ll need to kick this poverty rate up several notches.

    Sad, but true!

    In the meantime, 7 of the 10 new wealthiest counties by median incomes have experienced a very heavy influx of dollars related to the National Security apparatus described in Dana Priest’s serie of articles Top Secret America.

    Rising income inequality, epidemiological indicators of national health sliding backward, record increases in poverty and deep poverty, budget cuts for social safety nets and education…a bona fide nascent fascist state.

    This is not the country I emigrated to, twenty years ago.

  3. Tarkus says:

    You’re forgetting that people don’t want their winnings to be taxed more when they win the Lotto (which, incidentally, is also referred to as “A tax on the stupid”).

  4. squire says:

    So… more money for the government. That sounds like equally faulty logic.

  5. steve says:

    Invictus, you are preaching to the choir. Make yourself useful and get on Fox news and convince the goofballs watching.

    Invictus: Would if I could, believe me.

  6. dant says:

    I dont know the right number, but your analysis is thin

    1) Why is the relative level 40 years ago the baseline of what is optimal?
    2) You’re implying that the Top 10% group income came at the expense of the other groups. It could be just the opposite.
    3) You’re implying that these groups are static

    ~~~

    BR: Okay:

    1) What baseline would you suggest?
    2) Do you understand the concept of Zero Sum Game?
    3) Why do you believe these groups are not dynamic?

  7. machinehead says:

    In a manipulated fiat-money economy, those who can game the system profit mightily. Nixon cut loose the dollar’s last link to gold in 1971; real wages peaked in 1973 and flatlined ever since.

    When the value of money depends on a committee of wise men who exercise complete discretion (i.e., the FOMC), insiders will rake in the loot, while those who stolidly work and save the old-fashioned way will be systematically raped. (Checked savings account yields lately? LOL!)

    Crucify Greenspan on a cross of gold! Then bury him under Broadway and 42nd Street with an iron spike driven through his heart. And pray that this trivial gesture suffices to propitiate the angry gods.

  8. ThatsNotAll says:

    Barry,

    What is your opinion of the President and his party calling for a tax on millionaires but making that tax take effect on those earning $200K? When did $200K became millionaire status? Does it not occur to you that if the Democrats are going to be so disingenuous in defining who is rich that Americans are wise to not trust them at all on the issue of taxes? BTW, why don’t you tell your readers how far an annual houseful salary of $250K goes for a family of 5 living in Westchester County. Is this family rich? Well off, yes. But not rich. They still fly coach on family vacations, might even have a car payment on a Honda and they are struggling to figure out how to afford college tuition for their kids.

    When Obama starts talking about a tax on actual millionaires and billionaires Americans might start listening.

  9. algernon says:

    Your cartoon relates to the comment about giving up being thoughtful I guess.

  10. Edoc says:

    With regard to taxes and income distribution, I often go back to this blog post to put things in perspective:

    If America had $100 and 100 people…
    http://afferentinput.blogspot.com/2007/12/if-america-had-100-and-100-people.html

    “$54 goes to the top 20 people… the share to the top person is $18.39.”

    This was using 2005 data, and the present day income gap is significantly worse.

  11. bergsten says:

    Well, where WE live, the electricity costs about 5x more than the national average. Gas costs more (natural and from the pump too). WATER costs more. Housing costs more. Food costs more. Insurance (of all kinds) costs more. Sales taxes are higher. Property taxes are higher. Various and sundry licenses and fees are higher. Tolls are higher. What jokingly passes for public transportation is higher, and is worse than useless. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, plumbers, electricians, contractors, landscapers, handy-persons, hospitals, vets, pets, kennels, restaurants, movies, parking, clothing cost more. Even AIR (thanks to pollution) costs more.

    All of this is a combination of the price one pays for living where one can make a living, and a result of the tyranny of the majority (“there’s less of them and they have more money so they deserve to pay more”). Oh yeah? Says who? What makes the electrons flowing down my wire worth five times more than yours?

    If you can figure out a way for us out here on the original left coast to pay equitably for equivalent services, we would be glad to pay higher taxes.

    Well, no we wouldn’t, but it sounds good.

    In the meantime, please STFU about how we “rich” have all this disposable income, because mine at least is flowing out faster than it’s coming in, with damn near nothing to show for it.

  12. comparablebs says:

    Sorry, but you don’t get it. Tea Party people believe government is too big and no amount of money will satisfy this beast; therefore, raising taxes…period…is useless.

    Slash the size of government back to its appropriate size, maybe 16-18% of GDP…..then lets talk about proper level of taxation for individuals, corporations, etc.

  13. wally says:

    ThatsNotAll Says:

    Did you mean to say, “but making that tax take effect on those earning $200K AND ABOVE” ?

    Accuracy is a two-way street.

  14. hammerandtong2001 says:

    America is abandoning its children.

    Steppenwolf said it in 1968.

    America, Where are you now?
    Don’t you care about your
    Sons and Daughters?
    Don’t you know, we need you now,
    We can’t fight alone against the Monster!

    So who cares for their children here? Of course we do.

    And do what?

    .

  15. dant says:

    Summary:

    - It was different before so it must have been better
    - People are dumb not to vote for anything other than their personal pocketbook.
    - It is a zero sum game – i.e. those dollars from the top 10% would go to the rest. The average is not changed via tax policy
    - It’s the same people in these brackets (there isn’t movement between them)

    You should also include the comparisons to other countries (that have no immigration). Equally of limited value.

    Truthfully, I don’t have a view, but get tired of the same limited analysis

  16. Edoc says:

    Bergsten: “In the meantime, please STFU about how we “rich” have all this disposable income, because mine at least is flowing out faster than it’s coming in, with damn near nothing to show for it.”

    Well if you don’t save any of your money, you won’t have any disposable income, but that doesn’t make you any less affluent. Just be honest and admit that you don’t make personal saving a priority and you blow through your dough because of the lifestyle choices. Or are you saying that you live in an area with basic living expenses so high that despite being in the top 2% of incomes you are effectively poor?

  17. franklin411 says:

    Invictus,
    While I agree with your perspective, I think you’re missing one crucial element that explains why an old senior citizen on gov’t health care and gov’t pensions would be anti-government and anti-tax.

    It’s not really about “big gov’t” vs “small gov’t.” That’s just a smoke screen…a veil used to conceal the person’s true motivations.

    It’s about who the Tea Party types perceive as the “just benefactors” of tax dollars.

    Simply put, government programs are A-OK when they support white people, but when they are perceived to benefit non-whites primarily, they’re “big government.” Also, remember that the vast majority of elderly people are white, while the majority of young people are not white.

    Look at the targets of right wing ire: infrastructure (you don’t need new freeways when you’re 90), education (you’re retired…you don’t need education), science (who needs science when you’re about to meet God?), the environment (global warming isn’t an issue if you’ll be dead in 10 years. Besides, old people are always cold!), etc…

    I’m not saying race explains everything, but it’s certainly a major factor in the lily-white elderly Tea Party crowd.

  18. Sensible says:

    Did you ever consider that perhaps the reason the small guy is against raising taxeson the big guy is because the big guy gives the small guy a job and the small guy wants to keep that job? Which would make Joe the Plumber smarter than Obama the Wealth Redistributor.

    ~~~

    BR: You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts: The data overwhelmingly shows its the small guys/start ups/entrepreneurs who are the job creators — not the big guys, who are doing layoffs and shipping jobs overseas where the labor is cheaper.

  19. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    ThatsNotAll Says:

    “When did $200K became millionaire status?”

    When you’ve been compensated at that level for 5 years, or so.
    _______

    Francois Says:

    “. . . a bona fide nascent fascist state.”

    Yes indeed. And for the reasons you cite.
    _______

    bergsten Says:

    “Well, where WE live, the electricity costs about 5x more than the national average. Gas costs more (natural and from the pump too). WATER costs more. Housing costs more. Food costs more. Insurance (of all kinds) costs more. Sales taxes are higher. Property taxes are higher. Various and sundry licenses and fees are higher. Tolls are higher. What jokingly passes for public transportation is higher, and is worse than useless. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, plumbers, electricians, contractors, landscapers, handy-persons, hospitals, vets, pets, kennels, restaurants, movies, parking, clothing cost more. Even AIR (thanks to pollution) costs more.”

    So move to South Carolina, Alabama, or Afghanistan. Can’t, ’cause where you live is where the money is? We all makes our choices.

  20. ThatsNotAll says:

    What claim should the government have on the last dollar a man earns? 25%? 50%? 75%?

    If the law dictated to you that half of every extra dollar you earned would be given to someone else how motivated would you be to earn that extra dollar?

    Why does Warren Buffet buy and hold? As he explains it, to avoid paying taxes. If the 2nd richest American does not like to pay taxes why do so many assume those with much less wealth to their name would be any more willing?

    Barry?

  21. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    ThatsNotAll:

    Are you advocating a society without taxation? I hope not, ’cause that’s just dumb.

    If you want low or no taxes and small government, move to a third world country (and take Buffet with you). Afghanistan would be ideal if those are the conditions you’re looking for. WTF do you think the US has been so successful?

  22. whskyjack says:

    “If the law dictated to you that half of every extra dollar you earned would be given to someone else how motivated would you be to earn that extra dollar?”

    Spoken like a true wage slave.

    The last time I looked 50 cents is still a lot bigger than 0.

    Jack

  23. whskyjack says:

    All my life everybody has gotten a piece of what I made on a deal. Back when I farmed years ago, take a cow to market and the sale barn took a cut, then the banker took a cut, then the county got a share, the feed store got their cut the ex wife got hers and then what was left over me and the govenment got to share. My job was to make sure I had enough cows to sell to make me and everybody else happy. It has been a long time since I took a cow to the salebarn, but something I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t matter what I’m selling it is just like that cow, I’ve still got to give everybody their cut. So I plan on it but I still look for deals.

    Jack

  24. ThatsNotAll says:

    Wheatstraw:

    Barry seems uptight that people who would not see their taxes increased are opposed to a tax increase on others. I provided Barry one rational for this viewpoint and a good economist, perhaps some on Barry’s speed-dial, could explain several other reasons for this phenomenon. It is not irrational to advocate lower taxation of society, including the rich, and the denial by some of this reality reflects on their ignorance.

    Anyone who feels he or she is not paying a fair share can pay more. Barry can write that check. So could Buffett and Matt Damon and the whole Democratic National Party. Anyone who whines that people should willingly agree to higher taxes but who does not volunteer to pay more, absent the law, is a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

    As for your specific accusation. No where have I advocated zero taxation. I asked a simple question and I still invite you to answer: What claim should the government have on the last dollar a man earns? I invite Barry to answer this question also and, if he provides a number greater than what he currently pays I invite him to make that donation to the U.S. Treasury. If he provides a lower number I am curious why he would desire lower taxation for himself but not for others.

  25. maddog2020 says:

    The US avg for residential electricity is 11.6 cents kWH.
    (http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_factors_affecting_prices)

    “The three States with the highest average price of electricity in 2010 were:
    Hawaii (25.12¢ per kWh)
    Connecticut (17.39¢ per kWh)
    New York (16.31¢ per kWh)”

    So Bergsten, you’re paying 58 cents/kWH?? Maybe you should switch to those gubmint mandated light bulbs. Or you should check out the solar homes article from earlier today. Or stop complaining and move.

  26. tdotz says:

    Right On. Quite simply, well said. Americans live in the delusion that just by being “good folks” they’ll somehow be tipping hats with the Hampton crowd.

  27. Robespierre says:

    @ThatsNotAll Says:

    “What claim should the government have on the last dollar a man earns? 25%? 50%? 75%?”

    See that sentence is completely wrong. Some time ago people started to live in communities, people decided that they wanted to visit each other therefore roads were needed. Eventually, they figure that it made more sense to pull resources together to build aqueducts to get water to their houses and so on and so forth.

    It is not “government” that has a claim on what you earn. It is society who does – yes including yourself. Because, I assume, you drive so roads are needed. I assume you like drinking water etc (you get the picture). The problem is not the collecting of the money to pay for these things but the selection of what these things should be. I personally think that the war machinery should be reduce by %80. I’m sure you to have pet programs you want to kill. This is where elections come into play. Unless we only have crooks to chose from… Then when the crooks from the “left” win your money will be taken to provide for their “pet” projects. When the crooks from the “right” and “tea party” win then your money still will be taken (maybe not by the government but by unregulated corporations)> The result for you will be exactly the same (less money) though the left may leave behind more widely usable services that most can enjoy.

  28. flocktard says:

    This is something that struck me last year, as we visited the State University of New York at Cortland, which is well upstate in the boondocks. Tea Party and Sarah Palin signs abound, but the town is

    1) an impoverished dump whose main street is caught in a late 1940s time warp, with most store fronts empty.
    2) the entire town lives off the benefit of the state run school, otherwise there is absolutely no point in living in this barren, windswept outcropping of rock, and lastly
    3) if there was someone living in this threadbare s–thole who DIDN’T qualify for earned income tax credit, we didn’t see him. And we looked!

    Same thing with the Red States- lowest per capita income this side of Haiti, but they’re against any tax increase because they think it will choke them off.

    How the hell were we once a great nation? Not with these dopes.

  29. call me ahab says:

    Robespierre,

    of course, we can rationalize taxation . . . forever,

    doesn’t negate the fact that 50% of the populace are indebted to the USG because they have to pay no income tax,

    but that’s what society does, one half of the population takes care of the other 50% . . .it’s only fair

  30. ashpelham2 says:

    Franklin411: thanks for your comments. They clearly show that the racial divide in this nation of ours is seated in so many ways. Race tells us everything about the state of our nation, then, now, and tomorrow.

    These are the things that we know to be true, but NO ONE will publicly say them.

  31. Eric Sebille says:

    Barry,

    You prove the tea party’s point. Think of all the billions upon billions of dollars that have been spent through entitlements and handouts to the poor since 1967, and as your chart shows it hasnt helped, they just keep growing and growing. I think a successful earner in the 200K+ will put his income to much better work than a group of washington beauracrats like Obumbles did with his grants to Solyndra.

    ~~~

    Editors: Note this was written by Invictus, not Barry

  32. carleric says:

    I think all of you big spenders of other people’s money are somewhat missing the point…it doesn’t make much difference how much you make that determines your attitude towards the government….it is the thought that your money is going to the elitiists or the pampered mintorities or inept corporation managments. If the government ever demonstrated its ability and willingness to spend wisely and well and not be pimping for votes I thik you might see a chance inthe country’s attti=ude. Stop complaining or wondering why even the poor are disgusted with government.

  33. jjpstat says:

    While I agree with 99% of this I think it really becomes what happens to the money once the govt gets it. The reality for me is even though I don’t qualify as rich (no matter what your definition would be) my issue with taxes is the amount of waste we have in this country. I would be more than willing to contribute another $1000/ yr if I knew it was going to good use. This is the reason my $1000 is now a contribution to a reputable charity (which then becomes a write off!!). My idea of smaller gov’t is not less services for those in need (which I think most people willing to help), but more efiicient and accountability. Most “rich” folks can probably afford it, but I’d be pissed to if it just went to wall street banks in 5yrs

  34. MayorQuimby says:

    Interestingly or crazily enough, most wealthy people with whom I am acquainted are fully supportive of higher taxes and most middle and lower class Republicans are not. It is almost as if they aspire to wealth without taxation. I really don’t get it.

  35. Lyle says:

    Re Maddog2020: The rate for Hawaii is for Oahu. The rates for other islands range up to .41/kwh (because the load is smaller, they use diesel for their generators), as well as having large distribution areas relative to the number of customers.
    From what I have read rates outside of Anchorage and Fairbanks are high in Alaska also because of the non-interconnected systems issue.

  36. csainvestor says:

    Here’s a novel idea, instead of raising taxes on the “job creators” lets raise the minimum wage -substantially.

    Want to get people off of food stamps?
    want to broaden the base of federal income tax payers?
    want to get people out of poverty?
    want to increase personal saving accounts?
    want to decrease consumer debt?
    want to resurrect housing?

    Then Double the minimum wage!

    I know all the arguments against raising the minimum- but they don’t apply when inflation -real inflation- has destroyed purchasing power to the degree that it has.

    Want to see GOP really explode- steer the argument away from taxes and onto the minimum wage.

  37. GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

    ThatsNotAll seems hung up on the highest tax rate. Well, during my lifetime, the highest Federal tax rate was 92%. It was during the 1950s. No one is paying anything close to that today, even after you adjust for today’s higher Social Security, state and local taxes. Does anyone really care to argue that the most-highly paid people are working that much harder or smarter today than the most-highly paid people were in the 1950s?

  38. wunsacon says:

    ThatsNotAll,

    >> If the 2nd richest American does not like to pay taxes why do so many assume those with much less wealth to their name would be any more willing?

    No one “likes” to pay taxes. No one said anyone of the sort. So what’s your point?

  39. wunsacon says:

    No one said [anything] of the sort.

  40. MadSat says:

    Yes GBWR, and it is odd how those who worship the 50′s as the “can do” era don’t want to return to the conditions that made it possible.

    As for the tea party leaders, from what I’ve seen they are the same anti government people that protested the Vietnam War in the 60′s and early 70′s. They hated government then, they hate government now. They were the Jesus Freaks then, they are the evangalicals now. They haven’t changed at all that I can see apart from some name changes and getting older and more bitter as they see that things really haven’t changed despite all their protesting.

  41. aleealee says:

    I am very not rich, been all over the country and world a couple times over and know tons of people well enough to know their income and net worth. I’ve never heard anyone say brag of their plan of ‘making it big someday’ by working his blue collar, admin, back office, tech, non-executive position for the rest of his life. Never.

    Everyone seems resigned to the level of compensation that they and their peers get. What I have noticed that is different in the U.S. is the prospect of downward mobility is much greater here. Folks know they can be gone at the strike of a key-home, family, life…decimated quickly and remorselessly. Worst part is there ain’t a damn viable thing to do about the lack of job security. Possible, sure but not viable. The terrible feeling has to be mitigated somehow.

    One recourse is to change your perspective of how you think about yourself if you can’t change your reality. Supporting a team triggers a feeling of connection which is invisible to everyone not seeing you wear your teams colors. Feelings of connectedness to this group or organization is achieved just by advocating for them (even if they suck perennially), sometimes with risk to your best interest. Fighting against their enemies. Showing that you are on their side, not the other teams side, those losers. Real connectedness needs agreement from the other party. This kind doesn’t. ‘Support the troops’, don’ be one of those that doesn’t. It’s quite rational. It works. The feeling is achieved and that’s the goal.

    ‘When support is needed for war, and bailouts or for you to look the other way while the constitution is shredded, whose side are you gonna be on? Who do you identify with? What are you going to do or say to show which team you’re not on?’ They’re like sleeper cells. They come out when the signal is triggered.

  42. basquebob says:

    @ThatsNotAll

    Before you go on and on and demand answers from Barry, do yourself a favor: READ who wrote the post.

    BTW, as Robespierre asks, what are you willing to give up in exchange for those lower taxes? Lowering taxes in the abstract sounds great. So far all I’ve heard the GOP propose is screw the middle class, let people die and if you need something, go beg at your local church or charity. I just read tonight that Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign manager died, he did not have health insurance due to a pre-existing condition and the family was left with a $400,000 in medical bills. Paul’s basic suggestion the other night in the debate to Americans: go beg. Here is a link to the story of Paul’s campaign manager http://gawker.com/5840024/ron-pauls-campaign-manager-died-of-pneumonia-penniless-and-uninsured .

    I find csainvestor’s proposal interesting.

  43. Lyle says:

    Let me ask a question rising out of basquebob. I assume the campaign worker was over 18? If so unless the family cosigned something, there is absolutly no legal obligation to pay any of the debt, beyond whatever might have been in his estate. Anyone worrying about moral obligation does not understand how business is done. If you die and have a negative net worth, well its just tough for those who owe you money. People should also know that this applies to credit cards in the deceased’s name, the only required payout is whatever is in the estate. So I don’t understand how the mother got stuck with the bill, legally at least.
    Its just like if strategic default makes sense from a financial point of view do it. (I do include figuring the cost of a bad credit rating in the costs involved)

  44. endorendil says:

    Lyle, when you show up uninsured for a serious illness that looks like it will be expensive to cure, the hospital will make you and your family sign a contract making them liable for the expenses. In fact, even when you’re insured, they may require that you sign papers taking on full liability for expenses that your insurance company does not cover. Otherwise, you just don’t get treated. I doubt people usually read the stuff that they sign, and if they do, they’re hardly in a position to argue with it. I assume the family signed such paperwork, requiring them to pay off the debt.

    Note also that declaring bankruptcy only protects some of your assets against seizure. It’s not a get out of jail free card.

  45. ThatsNotAll says:

    If Democrats want to tax the rich in order to punish them then no rate is too high. If they want to purse a tax policy that maximize public revenues then perhaps they ought to care less about class warfare.

    “The U.K. has imposed a new tax rate of 50% for those making £150,000 a year (or about U.S. $236,000)… A report from Britain’s Institute for Fiscal Studies said the tax is costing the treasury £500 million a year, instead of earning billions. The reason: High earners are simply finding ways to avoid the tax.”

    http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/09/14/do-taxes-on-the-rich-raise-more-revenue/

    But if we are going to play the class warfare game why don’t we increase the capital gains tax rate to 40% and the tax on carried interest to 50%? Heck, why not 75% tax on investment profits? Let “THOSE” people pay their fair share.

    BTW, Barry owns this blog so I assume he agrees with the content published here. If this is not the case I expect he would post an opposing viewpoint.

  46. cahuenga says:

    Why, oh why do these blogs always jump on ‘median household income’? Household income conceals the fact that many many more person hours are worked now than in the recent past, something on the order of 500 to 700 more hours per month. Is there possibly a worst measure?

    If you are seriously looking for any truth, look to real median wage, which for men peaked some 40 years ago (1974). A majority of the gains (if it can be called that) in household income are strictly from the growth of the two income household and, to a lesser degree, gains in wage parity between the genders.

  47. Lukey says:

    I think a lot of people who oppose this type of tax policy understand that a) with the size of our deficits and accumulated debt (and the trajectory of our economy), there just aren’t enough wealthy folks to solve our fiscal problems by merely “taxing the rich” b) there’s something kind of “icky” about us running up the credit card and then sticking a small subset of the population with the bill and c) are hep to the fact that highly progressive wealth based taxes usually end up bringing in way less revenue than projected and often have unintended negative economic consequences.

    I don’t see why the default position on this is that we are somehow “dumb” or working against our best interests if we don’t buy into the quasi Marxist doctrine that we need to address disparity of wealth through the tax code. I think a lot of wealth is accumulated these days precisely due to a big government washing the feet of big business and I’d rather see us address the wealth distribution issue through a simpler regulatory environment that would give smaller companies an edge against their bureaucratic mega-corp competitors and a smaller government footprint that would keep petty bureaucrats from hitting the jackpot at the K Street casino.

  48. call me ahab says:

    Invictus . . .silly drivel as always,

    and I know this won’t be posted, but just got to say to anyway

    Invictus: Putting aside your failure to contribute anything meaningful, you’re not even a good gadfly.

  49. Greg0658 says:

    “If the law dictated to you that half of every extra dollar you earned would be given to someone else how motivated would you be to earn that extra dollar?”
    “data overwhelmingly shows its the small guys/start ups/entrepreneurs who are the job creators — not the big guys”
    … why we need a long tail gradual increase’g tax (on some metric) that keeps the iguanas from become’g dinosaurs but allows a iguanas to be a komodo dragon … the long tail is not set in lawstone but floats with the Seasons, the Tides, the Elections

    whskyjack :-) mooo

    on this “give it back – not taxed back” .. games don’t play that way .. and lifes a game :-) lol

    Robespierre @10:54 :-| yepper

    “his grants to Solyndra” .. LOL the POTUS made it all happen under his and only his watch … I’d like to hear the rest of that story / by the book / the accounting book / who got the work installing that stuff / who got the sale of the machinery that is on the ground / and who got the taxes from all that CHURN … and last but not least WHO is gonna get the factory at the dimes on the dollar .. WOOHOO BOORAH

    made it to midnight .. later gator

  50. Greg0658 says:

    my raisonbran is gettin soggy but … Solyndra drum solar panels do work . right? & not crap in a tube?
    we need energy . we need in-shore work . reminds me of that phrase “there are no such thing as toxic assets, only toxic prices” .. and yes there is such a thing as toxic stuff

  51. dh2212 says:

    If increased taxes went direct to debt repayment great.

    Increase tax on banks and bankers directly, that were directly responsible for this situation (with gov closing eyes), great…

    BUT, if you really want a smaller government… downsize the military… good luck with that one!

    Military industrial complex says no, but more importantly you’ll have to change the national anthem!!!

  52. ThatsNotAll says:

    Good post, Lukey. I would add to your wise observations another factor. People are much more willing to dip into their own pocketbooks when the money is being spent for product and services that directly help their community. People like to see the tangible benefit of their tax dollars and they like to feel some ownership of the “investment”.

    The current model where the Federal Politicians tax citizens and then barter amongst themselves and the lobbyists about where and how it dribbles back to the citizenry is asinine. The process only serves the interests of the politicians, lobbyists and big businesses and big unions who are able to tap into the tax revenue pipeline.

    How about we flip over the tax pyramid so that the majority of taxes never leave one’s state. Let 5% of one’s income go to the federal government to pay for common defense and common welfare and let the other 10 – 20% go to the State where the citizenry can keep better tabs on who is spending what.

  53. Greg0658 says:

    back to finish post-midnite ..
    1> thanks for the link on RonPaul campaign HC issue
    2> aleealee (-;
    3> man-session stuff and Wal-Mart putting $20B to work for female owned business yesterday in the MSM |-:
    4> woohuff

  54. UncleMilty says:

    It seems overly simplistic to assume that Tea Party folks believe in limiting government because they will all be rich. I’ll bet if you asked them, the vast majority do not believe they will ever be rich. They just want their children to have an opportunity to have a better life. And they don’t believe our Used-Car-Salesman-In-Chief who says we can have all the health care we want, affordable college and green jobs and it won’t cost us a dime. As for Tea Party motives, versus the average big-government liberal, take a look at who is more charitable. Red states, and I’ll bet Tea Partiers as well, give a far higher % of their income to charity. Is that because they all think they will be rich soon and don’t need the money? Is that because they don’t care about poor people?

    Invictus: Red states, and I’ll bet Tea Partiers as well, give a far higher % of their income to charity.

    I’d be very interested in seeing the supporting data for that.

  55. ews says:

    As usual, I read a couple paragraphs, thought that something sounded off, looked up, and said “Of course this is an Invictus post.”

    If you want attribute middle-class reluctance to raise tax rates to delusions of grandeur or just plain stupidity, go right ahead. I wouldn’t expect less from you. I will suggest, though maybe I’m just stupid, that a non-trivial portion of the population sees a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and that’s why they oppose tax increases.

    Invictus: If you believe that the problem lies solely on one side (spending), and not both, there is probably nothing I could write here to persuade you otherwise. As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, fractions have both numerators and denominators, and it pays to see what can be done with both. Why people fret about potential tax increases that will not impact them one whit is simply beyond me, yet that is clearly what is going on. And that is due to a major problem in messaging on the part of Democrats and the president.

  56. UncleMilty says:

    Regarding the media’s favorite median household income stats, there are few things worth noting:

    1) If you look at who is in the top vs bottom, compared to previous periods, I would bet that the disparity is explained by an increased value of being/staying married, having a college degree, access to a quality K-12 education, speaking English, etc.

    2) I think Invictus would be happier if all the lines were flat. I’m not suggesting he wants everyone to fail. But equality should not be the goal, or the measuring stick of progress.

    3) The median household has shrunk over the past 30 years. Look at median worker wages and the picture, though not pretty since 2000, is much better.

    4) Does this data consider benefits like health care? Does if factor in government transfers (EITC, child credits, food stamps, subsidized school loans? Does it consider that more and more people don’t pay ANY federal income taxes?

    5) This data leads one to believe that Joe Worker and his family is making 50k/yr forever and has no hope of moving up the food chain. The IRS has data that shows incomes are highly volatile and generally move up over one’s life. Think about it. How much did you make when you were 20? How about 30? 50? In most cases, you build skills and earning power over time.

  57. maddog2020 says:

    Lyle Says:
    September 15th, 2011 at 12:33 am

    “Re Maddog2020: The rate for Hawaii is for Oahu. The rates for other islands range up to .41/kwh (because the load is smaller, they use diesel for their generators), as well as having large distribution areas relative to the number of customers.
    From what I have read rates outside of Anchorage and Fairbanks are high in Alaska also because of the non-interconnected systems issue.”

    I understand your point; even more reason to go solar. If it works in Maine, where I live, then definitely in Hawaii. There should have been a gov’t funded Solyndra solar panel on every flat roof in Hawaii. That $500 million would have actually done some good. Now instead they could be Chinese gov’t subsidized panels.

    My larger point is that lifestyle choices (cost of living) are in large part in the control of the individual. Complaining about a high-cost of living as a reason for not feeling rich is not legitimate, in my book. As others pointed out, move!

    If someone is making a salary of $200K, their true compensation is probably closer to $250-300K, depending on benefits, the bulk of which is heavily tax-subsidized. Increasingly, most people on the low end don’t get to enjoy those tax-subsidized benefits.

    Sorry for the rambling…

  58. constantnormal says:

    Out amongst the Great Herds of Bananamerican Sheeple, nobody cares … this is how you cook a frog … not too quickly, but never letting up, cranking the temperature up a notch as the inhabitants of the pot get accustomed to their warmer climate …

  59. Slade says:

    Let’s tax the rich more by killing off the small jet building industry.

    After all, it worked so well when we punished the rich for buying luxury yachts. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/budget/budget_1-1.html

    ~~~

    BR: the tax burden on my peers is the lowest it’s been in half a century

  60. Nuggz says:

    I believe that Franklin/ashpelham2 actually hit the nail on the head.

    Because if you look at the exquisite level of cognitive dissonance surging through the GOteaParty coupled with the fact that every point they attempt to make does not withstand debate, what else can it be?

    Furthermore, where exactly were these oracles of finance during the Bush Administration? Based on what I see daily, the country is lousy with them.

  61. louiswi says:

    Unvictus and Barry,

    After reading the post and all the comments, I have to say this is an excellent post! Thank you for putting it up. I couldn’t find one salient argument in opposition.

  62. UncleMilty says:

    To Invictus (from above):

    Here are some links. Red states generally give more than blue states, relative to income.

    My guess is that it’s driven by 1) A religious inclination to tithe (to chruch and elsewhere), 2) Blue states have higher housing costs and taxes, which lowers disposable income and, as you pointed out, 3) Those wacky Tea Party morons think they will all be rich soon and don’t need the money.

    It’s an interesting question of who gives more and if there is a link to fiscal ideology. I definitely see it with my clients. Christians and Tea Party folks, who tend to be more conservative and in favor of less gov’t, give far more generously to church and other health/welfare organizations.

    Not everything conservatives do is entirely self-centered. Some may actually believe higher taxes and out-of-control spending are bad for society. I’m curious if you are suggesting that you and other tax and spend liberals vote entirely on your own checkbook without regard to what is right for the country. Or are you suggesting that only evil conservatives vote that way. Your post may reveal more about you and other tax/spend liberals than it does about conservative Tea Party folks.

    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2682730&page=1

    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2004/12/generosity_inde.html

    http://www.catalogueforphilanthropy.org/cfp/db/generosity.php?year=2004

    Invictus: Thank you for the links. I will most definitely have a look, as I find that an interesting topic.

  63. Lukey says:

    I dont ‘think that just because you have a reluctance to jump to the defense of higher taxes (on the rich or anyone for that matter) means you refuse to consider that we might have a revenue problem as well as a spending problem. But the bottom line on that is that we’ve seen many many many promises in the past to get spending “under control” yet federal spending continues to skyrocket. So lets focus on the spending side first (especially since we have such a fragile economy/jobs picture). Then, once we show the will to cut spending (seriously), we can take a look at the revenue picture.

    And Barry, I believe you are referring to the tax rate burden on your peers and not the actual tax burden. Are they really paying a smaller percentage of the tax revenue than in the past? If so, I’ve never seen that data. I just keep recalling that graph that shows regardless of where marginal income tax rates have been over the past 60 years, the tax revenue raised as a percent of GDP is pretty steady. So maybe focusing on progressive taxation and the marginal tax rates on the rich makes us feel better but doesn’t really help the economy or the federal fisc all that much. And if that is the case, maybe we’re missing the forest for the trees…

    ~~~

    BR: Invictus wrote this!

  64. Edoc says:

    Welcome to the income gap. Individual median income in the US is about $30k. Average per-capita income is $25k, 33% of Americans have no retirement savings (50% who do have less than $2k). A recent Gallup poll posits that %64 of Americans would not be able to come up with $1,000 for an unexpected emergency. This is our present day America, and it didn’t just happen when Obama took office.

    “doesn’t negate the fact that 50% of the populace are indebted to the USG because they have to pay no income tax…”

    Here are some figures to add perspective to that “50%” number:

    14% (and growing) of the adult population are elderly & retired (SS is tax-free if it is the sole income)
    10% of the population is unemployed
    5% of the population which are students in college or grad school
    4% of the population are out of work on disability (ages 25 to 64)
    1% of the population is in prison
    .5% military personnel in a combat zone or who make less 15k per year

    So out of that original %50 number, we’re left with around 15% who pay no federal income taxes. But remember to factor out some additional % who owe modest taxes which are canceled out by standard deductions, or canceled out by the temporary tax deductions in the recent stimulus bill.

    The balance of lucky duckies are genuinely destitute. Nonetheless, all of these people pay over 16% of their total income in state and local taxes as well as federal payroll taxes:

    “When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account,the bottom fifth of households paid 16.3 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average, in 2010. The second-poorest fifth paid 20.7 percent.”
    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3505

  65. Nuggz says:

    @UncleMilty

    ” Red states generally give more than blue states, relative to income.”

    It’s all based on religion because they believe it gets them closer to heaven. And believe me, it has nothing to do with charity.

    Furthermore, the fact that the Salvation Army bucket in SF had less more than Sioux Falls is due to the fact that the Salvation Army in SF refused to offer domestic partnership to it’s employees. Which doesn’t play well in SF.

    Karma is a bitch.

  66. Lukey says:

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear Barry – I was referring to your reply to Slade.

  67. zozie says:

    Just finished the comments and I find it intriguing how different people support the position they brought with them without actually addressing the facts. I took it that this column was written in response to resistance at raising marginal tax rates 3-5% on income over 200,000. This means that if you earn 201,000 you would pay an extra $30-50. or if you make 300,000, you would pay an extra $3-5,000 – admittedly on top of the taxes you already pay. Would this really make large swaths of the upper echelon go into early retirement? I don’t think so. Policies, especially those of the Republicans, such as “starve the beast” have reduced the funds the government takes in, while the recession has reduced these funds again – fewer working people means less taxes paid. Then there’s the wars – which I believe are continuing just because they one of the only politically acceptable forms of government spending and stimulus. The result is a ballooning deficit.

    People complain bitterly about the deficit and then refuse to do what needs to be done to eliminate it. A good start would be to let the Bush tax cuts lapse (if you are really concerned about the deficit then let them all lapse). These cuts were not made permanent partly because they were such budget-busters even when they were enacted.

    Certainly I find the increased depreciation rate on private jets ridiculous – it should be returned to the level paid by commercial jet owners. Loopholes like this serve no valuable purpose. If this kills the small jet industry, well, capitalism is known for its creative destruction.

    I agree with Franklin411 that race plays into this more than people want to acknowledge. And the rooting for your team idea that aleealee outlined makes a lot of sense. I personally don’t think average people who won’t raise taxes at all are stupid. I believe they have been indoctrinated by the team owners – to further develop aleealee’s idea. Less doctrine and more problem-solving would go a long way to improving America’s future prospects.

    I appreciate Invictus’s willingness to present information that doesn’t just support the assumptions of everyone that visits TBP.

    Invictus: A very thoughtful comment. Thank you. And you are 100% correct that “this column was written in response to resistance at raising marginal tax rates 3-5% on income over 200,000.”

  68. basquebob says:

    @ThatsNotAll

    What are you willing to give up? Simple question. If not, it’s all hot air.

    And we also know now that you would only allow those that think like you to post in your blog since you assume that Barry would do the same. It is called projecting. A cursory review of the comments section shows that Barry is not afraid of who comments in this blog and what kind of fools they make of themselves, including me. After years of following this blog I know Barry is not that insecure or even insecure at all. BTW, he has the best preamble to the comments section of any blog I’ve seen.

  69. frodo1314 says:

    Thank you to ThatsNotAll and Coparalebs – I agree with you both.

    I come from a father who delivered bread and a mother who was a secretary, am the youngetst of 5 and the only one to go to college and have worked my @ss off to now approach with my wife’s combined income Obama’s magic $250k number. We are by no means rich. We live well, but are not rich. I consider us generous and willing to do our part but the thought of paying even more in taxes, to be asked to really “do our fair share” irks me as I’m sure it does many others in simialr situatiosn to me/us.

    The problem I believe as I have said before is there are not enough tax brackets plain and simple. To tax me at the same rate or only one rate below Warren Buffet is ludicrous. The answer is so painfully obvious – why can’t more people see it?

    Barry – Have you considered giving equal time to someone like Invictus but with perhaps a more conservative bent on things?

  70. lippard says:

    dant’s point about income mobility is correct–income mobility is invisible in these data. People tend to move upward through the groups as they age, going from students to workers to more senior workers to retirees, then they move downward.

    That doesn’t make the trends less dismaying, it’s just that these measurements of income groups don’t measure how individuals move between the groups.

    It would be somewhat helpful to show the number of people in each income group at snapshots in time (like the 2009 version of the 1999 chart), which would at least show which groups were growing and shrinking, but even that would not show mobility.

  71. Edoc says:

    frodo1314 – Amen on the additional tax brackets. Warren Buffet is in a lower tax overall bracket, since most of his vast earnings are in the form of investment income, not salary.

    If you and your wife made $250k and filed jointly, excluding deductions or capital gains, you will pay $66k in federal taxes in 2011. This works out to a 26% effective tax rate before deductions. If the Bush/Obama tax cuts were to expire, you would pay $12k more (a 31% effective rate). The long term fiscal health of this country calls for the expiration of these historically low rates.

    http://interactive.taxfoundation.org/taxcalc/

  72. Unmitigated Audacity says:

    Lots of great comments here, but constantnormal at 10:08 am does it for me. Cogent, on target.

  73. basquebob says:

    For those expecting charity to do the trick, via Thik Progress:

    Snyder experienced Paul’s world of free market health care, a peculiar system that distinguishes the United States as the only Western country that does not provide basic care to its citizens. A look back at the charity effort launched to save Snyder’s life reveals a grim failure. Despite Paul’s insistence that charity is the appropriate response to America’s uninsured crisis, Snyder’s friends raised $34,870.53, far short of the $400,000 necessary to pay off his bills.

    —-

    Charity was tried in the past and it utterly failed, hence Social Security and Medicare. This is not to berate charities and charities have their place and all that contribute should be commended, but charity is not a substitute for social policy.

  74. dougbb says:

    So, real household income has declined during a recession. Poverty rates are higher, but within historical ranges, again during a recession.

    “Income inequality”, in an environment where manufacturing (typically a “median income”-type) jobs are declining in number and in wage both due to ever-increasing automation, and the flight to lower-cost production countries, is increasing.

    Shocking, truly.

    And what exactly, is “disturbing” about a migration from a 2.1x difference to 2.8x difference between the median and 90th%? Where’s the discomfort in saying “there’s now a lower relative value to some types of labor than there was 45 years ago”? Is this some semi-socialist desire to call everyone equal? Can we all grow up? People are different, and their skills are valued differently.

    And our “solution” to this non-problem is to level this field by taking more money away from people whose skills are most highly valued? In order to have it distributed through the least-efficient method possible, the Federal Government bureaucracy?

    We have a very real long-term spending problem in this country, as should be evidenced by the fact that despite “BIG BUDGET CUTS!!!” that the governement will spend more next year than last, and more the year after that, and so on.

    So, yes, I’m a skeptic that the right first step is more taxation. Our government’s best skill is in spending every dollar it is given. In the short-term, if we think austerity will have to painful an effect, spend more, and build more debt so that we don’t drive the poverty rates outside of their historical averages. But if you think we should just keep taxing and spending, and then taxing some more, and that it will all just sort itself out, then you’re REALLY not paying attention to most of Europe. And/or you somehow think that the rapid growth in the economy that happended over the last fifteen years wasn’t a bubble. Or, I guess, you still believe in the VoodooKeynesian multiplier.

    Sidebar- I’ll take the challenge that was laid out above to a different poster. I’d cut governement spending in the following large swaths:
    Disband the Dept of Education – return the responsibility to the states and municipalities
    Disband most of the Dept of Energy – keeping only such staff as is necessary to coordinate an emergency power grid
    Immediately cease all Farming subsidies
    Privatize the Postal Service
    Stop pretending that universal, unlimited, and constantly improving medical care is real. Take the median wage above ($50k to make the math easy). Say that someone works for 40 years. They’ve made $2m throughout their life. Someone with a treatable, but serious, chronic illness (many cancers) can exhaust most of that person’s TOTAL EARNINGS in a matter of years. How do MOST people die in this modern age? Quickly? Or slowly? We’ll need an awful lot of completely healthy people dying suddenly and quickly at age 55 or so to pay for all that. Maybe we should bring back dueling…

  75. DeDude says:

    These are natural problems developing as a result of increased productivity in a political and social system that was never designed to deal with super high productivity and efficiency.

    Lets imagine an efficient world where all the food, clothes, housing, cars, entertainment, and other services and material things a person can use in his/her lifetime can be produced by 20,000 hours of human work (or 10 years of working 40 hour per week, 50 weeks per year). In that world there will only be 10 years of full time employment per human being. We can let half of all the humans work for 20 years and the other half not at all. We could also indulge ourselves more with more luxurious cars and houses that required more work hours although it would probably only add another 25% to the total lifetime consumption of work hours. Ultimately we would be facing the problem that the human needs and wants simply would not require enough work hours to provide everybody with a full time job for as many years as they could be productive workers. Rather than just producing services and material things for individuals we could add artistic, intellectual and scientific activities to allow a “need” for additional “work” hours in society. But that can be a bit difficult in a society where a large majority of undereducated people have little appreciation for the value of such activities.

    Eventually people would have to live lives with a lot of downtime, preferably in the form of long vacations and early retirements. Problem is that a society where the average person only spends 10 to 20 years of full time work, you have to have an effective system to allocate sufficient resources to each individual for a full life worth of needed and wanted things (after such a short time of working).

    Predatory capitalism is about the worst imaginable system for ensuring that type of resource allocation in a situation of a shortage of work hours. It has a negative feed back where the work shortage reduce the compensation per hours worked, forcing people to need to work more hours before they have enough savings to live the rest of their life without working. Even if you closed the system (preventing labor arbitrage) and forced compensation up with drastic increases in minimum wages, that would be somewhat counter-productive as it increase the incentives to become even more efficient and reduce the use of labor in production. Government can also intervene by creating “needs” for work that does not directly serve to provide products and services for the individual (create excessive regulations to prevent adverse events, start unnecessary wars, create cultural or intellectual activities that few care about). However, for government to do this it has to collect substantial funding from individuals and corporations, and that is very difficult in a predatory capitalist society (whether it’s democratic or not).

    In a predatory capitalist corporate plutocracy as ours the natural outcome of efficiency creating a shortage of work is the creation of a large exploited under class and a small extremely rich “owner” group that runs everything. They will create just sufficient amounts of social programs and security forces to keep a lid on the boiling under class. However, with the lack of a spending middle class the overall economic activity will drop and eventually even the rich will lose much of their wealth – Welcome to BananAmerica.

  76. vicarious says:

    Terrific post, Invictus!

    It’s ironic is that this same bunch of people, also conditioned to believe in unfettered free markets as the solution to ALL the issues at ALL times (all adverse outcomes can be explained away or blamed on someone else) are also living example of a group consistently acting against their own ‘rational self interest’!

    Now, they can have many reasons, a number of them valid, to oppose higher taxes but it is harder to make the case that the basis for that belief is any rational incentive (of the sort on which free market belief is based).

    So why would the proletariat vote against their own interests? One notable attempt was made some years ago by Thomas Frank http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Matter-Kansas-Conservatives-America/dp/0805073396 , and it is certainly one reasonable explanation. The red state masses, he thinks, have been conditioned to believe that by voting their ‘values’ they also vote their ‘interests’.

    That aside, in big picture terms, it is a much serious problem for the right for once holes are successfully picked in free market efficiency and efficacy – and last decade has been especially harsh – whole pillars and sections of modern conservative, libertarian ideology also begin to crumble. Without absolutes it is a much weaker argument. George Will, recently cornered on the Charlie Rose show, ultimately resorted to defense like, ‘Sure, but what is the alternative? would you trust the government’? Not sure, but some monitoring and constraints does looks like a very reasonable idea.

    Invictus: Thank you for the compliment and the comment.

  77. dougbb says:

    DeDude siad, “Problem is that a society where the average person only spends 10 to 20 years of full time work, you have to have an effective system to allocate sufficient resources to each individual for a full life worth of needed and wanted things (after such a short time of working). ”

    Actually, the problem is that both this hypothetical worker, and you apparently, think that they are entitled to all of their needed and wanted things. And that an effective system to allocate resources thus is required to be created.

  78. Lugnut says:

    Instead of tilling at the class warfare windmill, how bout we just eliminate all the farkin loopholes? Tell me dear Invictus, what is the use of a ‘tax on millionaires’ when the effective tax rate on them is already quite high, but they have enough resources at their disposal in the form of high priced accountants and shelters to make sure they can turn that 38% into 18%. Surely 6-12 months after passage of the legilsation some Congress critter will be flooring a bill to give a tax exemption for some class high earners in the interest of ‘infrastructure development reinvestment’ or some lame justification.

    ‘The guy earning 200K is probably paying his ‘fair share’. The guy earning $20,000,000 or more, probably not so much. We’ve let monied interests lobby for legislative loopholes and help craft bills to make sure they keep theirs right in their pockets. Shit can all the loopholes, floor the rate 25% across the board, and make everyone happy (execept the really rich who hopefully will have to pay a normalized rate).

  79. DeDude says:

    dougbb;

    Well the alternative is that the excess workers are entitled to lay down in a hole and die? Furthermore, if they are not entitled to be able to find work to gain sufficient income to live (and they therefore die), then they will not consume so the need for work hours in society as a whole drops (so more people will have to lay down in a hole and die, etc. etc.).

    Maybe your problem is that they get to much (both needs and wants). If we restrict it and only “entitle” them to “needs” for “survival” the ultimate problem become the same. If those “survival needs” can be produced by 5 years of full time work hours then everybody need to be paid sufficient for 5 years work that they can purchase everything “needed” to survive a full lifetime. The basic problem is how to ensure that the benefits of increased productivity is distributed to all rather than harvested by the few.

  80. Ollie_Holmes_Jr. says:

    I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.

  81. Greg0658 says:

    DeDude @4:15 .. thanks for that hypothetical problem/solution sorta ..
    a fix > disaster capitalism and a real “Contagion” .. probably water born illness from bad food processing water
    http://contagionmovie.warnerbros.com/index.html

    my longtail hypothetical tax would not have stops .. just long and gradual upwards till business says enough is enough .. and leave some AIR for another business to take the reins
    (I suppose the business patents would still flow thru and the original business would just have to be burdened with more income & a higher tax rate for doing nothing more)

    ps – haven’t mentioned this in a while – sometimes I wish I knew the real person behind some of these posts (besides BR’s TBP, the NSA and probably the ISP) .. that geriatric white folks concept might have some validation

  82. BillG says:

    Regarding red state charitable contributions: how many of those contributions just end up going to churches? Donating funds to a church to pay for the church’s day to day operations or to help them build a new building or whatever may be tax deductible but its not charitible in my opinion. If the church takes the money and funds a meals program for the poor or something than that’s a whole different beast but giving a church money so you essentially have a nicer place to sit every Sunday is no different than the members of a country club kicking in money to renovate their clubhouse. The only beneficiaries are you and your fellow members.

    And frodo, if you are truly making exactly $250K then Obama’s tax increase will have no effect on you. You probably have at least $20 or $30K in exemptions and deductions meaning you’d need $280K to see any effect. Even at that point you’re just entering the new bracket and paying an extra $3 for every hundred you earn beyond that point. It would be a minimal increase for you but it would be significant for the people making well above that and that’s the point. You have to start this stuff at some level. I mean I’m totally with you on more brackets. No reason not to add one at $250K. Put one at $1M and $1B while we’re at it. And whether $250K constitutes “rich” or not is a meaningless argument that the media can’t seem to give up on. Its not like the point at which you jump from the 15% to 25% bracket has any significance and the IRS is jacking you for an extra 10% there.

  83. David in D says:

    Invictus: Amen!

  84. dougbb says:

    Dedude:

    The problem with your hypothetical is “want”. If the personal credit side of the credit crisis has only taught us one thing (and I truly hope there’s more), it’s that people’s wants, as a whole, will exceed their resources.

    It’s simply impossible to build a system where everyone gets everything they need AND want, regardless of the input they put into process. It’s a lovely theory, but so is Marxism. In the, you know, real, world, it takes incentives for people to do things. Without incentive to have access to better things (than other people), then people don’t work as hard. Then, a negative feedback loop takes over, and regardless of what you need and want, you get the same crappy stuff all the other Soviets got.

    To your direct question, no, the “excess” workers don’t lie in a hole and die. They have a lower standard of living. They get access to what they need, but not everything they want. Or, and I know this is tricky for some of you to understand, they “work” to gain more valuable skills.

  85. DeDude says:

    dougbb; you completely misunderstood what I wrote and simply projected it onto your pet peeve (them there lazy “other kind of people” who want something for free without working for it). I am assuming that people will be willing to work as much as it takes to get what they want. The problem is that if we are effective enough in producing things (without human work hours) then there simply wont be enough work to give everybody all the hours they need (to obtain the lifestyle they are willing to work for). That is unless we start paying a lot more money for each hour worked, and allow a lot less money to be diverted to the rent seeking rich people.

  86. Greg0658 says:

    dougbb and Dedude .. I believe we are at that point in the industrial age & computer age that those IDEAS are going be difficult to come by .. look at the world we live in .. besides an energy sollution for our machines AND our human bodies / what more do you want from Labor and their minds? oh right, a sellable idea.

    on the reason money exists in the 1st place > to get labor and ration .. I agree .. alas :-| we are just animals
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper

    combining both ideas .. you are asking alot from the kids aren’t you? .. hense / alas .. disaster capitalism I see you round the corner

  87. [...] part, I think she’s just motivated by fury and hatred) That we need government is just fact Attention Americans: You Won’t All Be Rich Tomorrow “Like a girl” – yes, again. Somebody at the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation has quite [...]