Those So-Called Tax Cuts

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Barry
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:20 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
I still disagree with the notion that wealthy people don't pay their "fair share" in taxes.
It is the (to my mind loony) insistence of people who are not rich on going to bat for people who are in this fashion that is the real reason the rich are not being more extensively taxed. In case nobody noticed, there are a lot more of us than them, an imbalance which should, however buffered, translate into votes.
Your inability to "get" why people who themselves aren't wealthy would defend the right of those who are to keep the majority of what they earn is absolutely classic, John. The liberal mind is something else.
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:53 pm

Barry wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
I still disagree with the notion that wealthy people don't pay their "fair share" in taxes.
It is the (to my mind loony) insistence of people who are not rich on going to bat for people who are in this fashion that is the real reason the rich are not being more extensively taxed. In case nobody noticed, there are a lot more of us than them, an imbalance which should, however buffered, translate into votes.
Your inability to "get" why people who themselves aren't wealthy would defend the right of those who are to keep the majority of what they earn is absolutely classic, John. The liberal mind is something else.
Why thank you, Barry. :)

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Barry
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:15 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Barry wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
I still disagree with the notion that wealthy people don't pay their "fair share" in taxes.
It is the (to my mind loony) insistence of people who are not rich on going to bat for people who are in this fashion that is the real reason the rich are not being more extensively taxed. In case nobody noticed, there are a lot more of us than them, an imbalance which should, however buffered, translate into votes.
Your inability to "get" why people who themselves aren't wealthy would defend the right of those who are to keep the majority of what they earn is absolutely classic, John. The liberal mind is something else.
Why thank you, Barry. :)
Don't mention it. :wink:

Seriously though, this difference in perception between liberals and conservatives is an interesting topic. While liberals tend to see inequality as an injustice, to conservatives, and apparently a lot of Independents, it would be an injustice for the government to take more than its fair share of what a person earns. That principle obviously doesn't apply to something like taxes on income from investments, but there are economic factors involved in those cases beyond the principle of allowing someone to keep the majority of what he has earned that mitigate against simply raiding someone's income to too great of an extent. The unearned income issue aside though, it's almost comical to me that anyone would assume that all of those who are not in the top bracket would favor higher taxes on those who are.

There is a similar difference in the way liberals and conservatives tend to view "elites." While liberals tend to base their view of who elites are largely on economic status, conservatives view elitism as something that derives from someone's attitude. Thus, they're more likely to brand as elitist a professor or celebrity who think they know better than the unwashed masses what we need and what the role of the government should be (or what qualifies a society as "civilized") than a country club millionaire who wants to keep the majority of his income.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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John F
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by John F » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:01 am

Barry wrote:Seriously though, this difference in perception between liberals and conservatives is an interesting topic. While liberals tend to see inequality as an injustice, to conservatives, and apparently a lot of Independents, it would be an injustice for the government to take more than its fair share of what a person earns.
You used the key word, "fair." This liberal doesn't feel that inequality per se is an injustice, but unfair inequality definitely is. It seems to me that liberals and conservatives have different notions of what is fair or unfair, and of how much they believe fairness matters.

President Kennedy and countless others have observed that life is unfair. That's obviously and profoundly true. Accident and good or bad luck have as much to do with the quality of our lives as our individual gifts and talents, and those gifts and talents themselves, mental and physical, are distributed more or less randomly without regard to fairness.

Some of us feel a human moral obligation to try to make life more fair than nature does, not just for ourselves but for everyone, even at some expense to ourselves. I call this unselfishness. Others insist that life first of all be fair to themselves, by their own view of what they're entitled to, and are decidedly less concerned that fairness be shown to others. I call this selfishness. And of course there's a continuum of attitudes between extreme unselfishness and extreme selfishness.

That said, who's to judge whether a certain level of income or other taxation is or is not fair, and by what standard of fairness? Indeed, how does "what a person earns" relate to what his/her work fairly deserves? Getting down to cases, is it unfair for our society, through its democratically elected government, to take 39.6% of those multimillion dollar bonuses to corporate executives, including those who took their companies and the American economy down the drain, but fair to take 35%? Or is even 35% unfair? Why?

I understand that these are enormously complicated questions and very possibly have no answers - but if so, then perhaps you ought to replace the word "fair" with some other concept, it would be for you to say what.
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by living_stradivarius » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:12 am

lennygoran wrote:That was me :( I never really pushed for bigger greater things--well I once to the law degree tests which I found impossible and failed miserably. :(
Unfortunately law has been pushed forth as the path for lib arts and generalists coming out of college (by pop culture & entertainment) whereas entrepreneurship hasn't been, mainly because it isn't standardized or institutionalized like law. The spirit of entrepreneurship needs to be introduced early - so many kids are completely oblivious to it, even those who know the law like the back of their hand. Even law school grads can't get jobs without business savvy nowadays due to market saturation.
John F wrote:President Kennedy and countless others have observed that life is unfair. That's obviously and profoundly true. Accident and good or bad luck have as much to do with the quality of our lives as our individual gifts and talents, and those gifts and talents themselves, mental and physical, are distributed more or less randomly without regard to fairness.
JFK also told us "ask not what your country can do for you..." so when it comes to SS benefits it's quite strange seeing everyone demanding their benefits when they clearly know that strain on the system will have an adverse impact on future generations.

When it came to SS, JFK was the one who pushed for "fairness" in SS reform. Prior to said reform, SS benefits were handed out without regard for how many years the beneficiary paid into the system -- hardly fair for those who paid into the system longer than those who didn't. Well now the concept of fairness needs to be extended to future generations.

But really, when it comes down to it, life in the US is as fair as you can get given the unique opportunities that we have. People simply need to persevere in pursuing them. It's really interesting to see how the immigrant Mexican laborer sees this so much more clearly than the fat kid around the block who foams at the mouth in front of a TV all day only to get up when he realizes the government is running out of dollars to pay for his food. Back luck isn't a driver of poverty in the US - apathy and indignation are. That is not to say there are people who slip through the cracks - but the suggestion that the majority do is a huge exaggeration.
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:19 am

>it would be an injustice for the government to take more than its fair share of what a person earns.<

Yes but how does one determine what the fair share is--would you advocate eliminating the progressive income tax, for example? Regards, Len

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:24 am

>The spirit of entrepreneurship needs to be introduced early <

Where were you when I needed you--we grew up in a Brooklyn tenement and my parents wouldn't have known entrepreneurship if they fell over it! And I got into computers late in life too! :(

Regards, Len

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by John F » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:19 am

living_stradivarius wrote:
John F wrote:President Kennedy and countless others have observed that life is unfair. That's obviously and profoundly true. Accident and good or bad luck have as much to do with the quality of our lives as our individual gifts and talents, and those gifts and talents themselves, mental and physical, are distributed more or less randomly without regard to fairness.
JFK also told us "ask not what your country can do for you..."
And Abraham Lincoln described our system as government not only of the people and by the people, but for the people. Not an abstraction such as "your country," mind, but the millions who constitute the country. And not just for those who know how to buy influence, exploit the loopholes in the law, and generally game the system, legally or otherwise, but for all the people. If dueling quotations is the game, I can play it too. :)

I didn't quote JFK just to drop names, but to put the issue of fairness into perspective, with the topic of this thread in mind, "Those so-called tax cuts." How does the generalized notion of patriotism relate to either? And when you come right down to it, why shouldn't the people ask what their country, i.e. the people, can do for them, with the money they pay in taxes? Lobbyists certainly ask what their country can do for their clients, indeed "ask" is rather too weak a word, setting you and me and the people at a disadvantage. (Nobody's earmarked any $$$ for me lately.) Is it not fair for us to do likewise?
living_stradivarius wrote:But really, when it comes down to it, life in the US is as fair as you can get given the unique opportunities that we have. People simply need to persevere in pursuing them. It's really interesting to see how the immigrant Mexican laborer sees this so much more clearly than the fat kid around the block who foams at the mouth in front of a TV all day only to get up when he realizes the government is running out of dollars to pay for his food. Back luck isn't a driver of poverty in the US - apathy and indignation are. That is not to say there are people who slip through the cracks - but the suggestion that the majority do is a huge exaggeration.
All's for the best in this best of all possible nations, eh? Tell me another. And tell the millions of unemployed today, or the millions of elderly who saw their savings for retirement worse than decimated when the markets crashed, that their situation is not their bad luck but their fault - the result of their apathy and indignation. Sheesh!

Nobody has ever suggested that the majority of Americans "slip through the cracks." You're arguing against a position that doesn't exist. And what has "the fat kid around the block" to do with the plight of real people who are suffering real distress through no fault of their own, but are victims of the unfairness of life, not excluding life in America? Another straw man. If we're going to discuss a serious issue seriously, then let's be serious about it.
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:30 am

>Nobody's earmarked any $$$ for me lately.<

You'll have to just be content with the material they give you from PBS--just our luck that's the one they'll decide to not extend money for! Regards, Len :(

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:48 am

John F wrote: I didn't quote JFK just to drop names....
And after all, he was the first to observe that life is not fair. :wink:

What concerns me in addition to all the normal (ha!) consideration for social justice that John has so effectively laid out is that very large portions of the middle class are also threatened by the way Republican politics is proceeding, and there's a good chance if current developments continue unchecked that many of them will not realize how they're being led down the garden path until it's too late. I can foresee a situation where people making less than $XXX,000 for all their numbers have been pushed further toward the margins of society by the next generation as a new plutocracy consolidates its power.

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Barry
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:58 am

lennygoran wrote:>it would be an injustice for the government to take more than its fair share of what a person earns.<

Yes but how does one determine what the fair share is--would you advocate eliminating the progressive income tax, for example? Regards, Len
To answer both you and John F, I'm aware that "fair" is a very subjective term, but I would say the top rate during the Clinton era (39.6 percent) is about as high as I'm comfortable going in terms of what I believe is fair, especially for people who are within a couple hundred thousand dollars of the bottom line of that top bracket. I've indicated before that I wouldn't mind another bracket added on to the top for people making over a million per year that is perhaps another two points higher still than for people making between a quarter million and a million. A lot of small business people probably fall in that range of being in the top bracket, but not making millions. Then you've got the people who worked their butts off because they had certain goals in mind in terms of things like having nice second homes in a resort area or another part of the country that appeals to them and they need a nice income coming in to maintain that lifestyle. Why shouldn't people like that be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor?

Having written the above in terms of what I'm comfortable with for top brackets, I have no trouble sympathizing with someone who thinks he or she should get to keep at least two-thirds of what they earn. And there is another important issue. I've stated on here a few times recently that people in the top bracket will start to change their behavior in certain ways to either avoid paying the higher taxes or off-set those taxes by either charging more for their goods or laying off employees (or cutting pay/benefits). You can complain all you want about rich people being selfish, but that attitude simply flies in the face of reality; aka human nature. Tax policy needs to take human nature into account and respect it if it wants to get the most revenues to put towards reducing the deficit and debt, which is what I think our top priority needs to be for the foreseeable future. I happen to think that the rates I mentioned as the ceiling of what I think is fair are also about as high as we can go before we get to the point at which enough people will start to change their behavior to avoid paying the higher taxes or get the money in other ways that harm either consumers or employees, resulting in less revenue for the government in the process.

Ultimately, while some tax increases from where we are now will probably be necessary, cutting the debt and deficit will have to come more from cutting costs than from raising taxes.
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"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:08 pm

> I've indicated before that I wouldn't mind another bracket added on to the top for people making over a million per year that is perhaps another two points higher still than for people making between a quarter million and a million.<

That sounds good to me--I admit I'm no economist but that seems a little fairer imo.

> And there is another important issue. I've stated on here a few times recently that people in the top bracket will start to change their behavior in certain ways to either avoid paying the higher taxes or off-set those taxes by either charging more for their goods or laying off employees (or cutting pay/benefits). <

But aren't many of these millionaires involved in enterprises where competition from other millionaires and their businesses makes them keep their prices low. For example I would imagine the people who run Walmart at the top are quite rich--I presume the same for Costco--if the people at the top try to squeeze me at Sam's Club [walmart] I will know it soon enough and then can go on to Costco?

Regards, Len

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by John F » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:13 pm

living_stradivarius wrote:
jbuck wrote:SS is welfare (transfer payments to support people's income).
And in that sense I agree, with my qualification. And it is a transfer payment even if you contributed "a lot of money to it" because your returns are paid thrice in kind by younger people. The system is flawed from the getgo, and any stigma you attach to it is a result of this inevitable flaw.
I somehow missed this, but I'm not going to let it go.

This is a fallacious argument. Social Security is not a bunch of individual savings accounts, any more than a pension plan or an annuity is. It's a form of insurance to which each participant contributes a specified amount, whether you choose to call it a premium or a tax; is vested under the terms of the specific pension agreement; and on becoming eligible, receives a payout which cumulatively may be and often is more than the total of his/her contributions (premiums or taxes). How the pension fund, or Social Security, meets its payout obligations, is its business, not the beneficiary.

If "transfer payment" is just a technical term meaning that what's paid out to me has a different source from my own payments in - your "definition" is not in the dictionary - then all insurance, including life insurance, involves transfer payments. I've no objection to the term as such. The term I object to is "welfare," when Social Security benefits are plainly, obviously, no form of welfare at all, and especially when the term is bandied about as a form of abuse.

It may be that the money I paid for Social Security went to pay my father's benefits, or even your father's benefits. I don't mind that - why should I? It's really none of my business how those dollars, formerly but no longer mine, were eventually spent, as long as when my time comes, as it has, my own benefits are duly paid. If my benefits, such as they are (not very much), are paid out of your children's Social Security contributions, why should they care, and why should you care, as long as their benefits are properly paid?

And why should they ever not be properly paid? Social Security is not a privately run business subject to the vagaries of the market but a legally binding responsibility of the government of one of the wealthiest nations on earth, with that nation's good faith and and its considerable credit behind it. If the current mechanism by which Social Security is managed, is not adequate to ensure that its pension obligations will be honored, then fix it. That's what is legally required of any insurance company, and surely also of our government - not as some kind of favor to the beneficiaries, but in recognition of the government's obligation to keep its legal commitments.
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Barry
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:21 pm

lennygoran wrote: > And there is another important issue. I've stated on here a few times recently that people in the top bracket will start to change their behavior in certain ways to either avoid paying the higher taxes or off-set those taxes by either charging more for their goods or laying off employees (or cutting pay/benefits). <

But aren't many of these millionaires involved in enterprises where competition from other millionaires and their businesses makes them keep their prices low. For example I would imagine the people who run Walmart at the top are quite rich--I presume the same for Costco--if the people at the top try to squeeze me at Sam's Club [walmart] I will know it soon enough and then can go on to Costco?

Regards, Len
I was thinking more in terms of smaller businesses than giants, but I still think you're bound to see cost increases in certain segments of the economy when taxes are increased too much.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:34 pm

>I was thinking more in terms of smaller businesses than giants<

Well I really don't want to punish businesses of any sort--I just feel that many millionaires are not paying enough in taxes and they certainly didn't need to have that tax break extended for them. We'll see what happens in 2 years when it has to be debated again. I think in the long run this will hurt Republicans--as John B said there are many more people in the country with much less than what those millionaires got and that includes Republicans like me. :(

Meantime as of 31 minutes ago the Times reports:

Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Advances

Let the Congressional people keep working and getting to things--Start too should not be held up any more--no reason imo they can't work right up to Xmas! Regards, Len [Scrooge] :)

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by John F » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:21 pm

Barry wrote:Then you've got the people who worked their butts off because they had certain goals in mind in terms of things like having nice second homes in a resort area or another part of the country that appeals to them and they need a nice income coming in to maintain that lifestyle. Why shouldn't people like that be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor?
How many of those with the highest incomes are actually earning them through "hard labor," or through work of any kind? How many, for example, are indeed the founders or owners of small businesses, living-stradivarius's entrepreneurs? How many others came into money through inheritance, from parents or spouse, and their high income requires no harder labor than what used to be called clipping coupons?

Everybody knows there's no necessary correlation between how hard one labors - whatever one considers "labor" to be - and how much one is paid for it. It may be how the real world is, as JFK and you say, but is it fair? And is it the best we can do for each other, as fellow Americans and fellow human beings?

About taxes: as Robert Reich said in a C-SPAN interview I've mentioned elsewhere, the top federal income tax rate during the Eisenhower presidency was 91%. Nonetheless, during the '50s, the super-rich somehow managed to scrape by, and the country as a whole achieved extraordinary economic growth and prosperity - indeed, these very years are called by many the Golden Age of capitalism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-World ... _expansion)

The economic stratification of America has been increasing as the top tax rates have come down, with the top 1% now having over 20% of total income and the bottom 80% dividing up less than 40%. On the face of it, this looks anything but fair, and hardly offers justification for the super-rich to cry poor and press for still more tax relief.

So I've come back to fairness, which is what my previous message was about. I'm not challenging the specifics of what you say you believe is fair, as you're entitled to your opinion - but it remains unclear what you believe fairness is. That's basically not an economic question but one for social and moral philosophy, and as I can't find any such basis for your views, I can't see that you're talking about fairness at all. Which is OK with me, as long as we don't use the word loosely as if it were a real criterion when actually it's not.
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Barry
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:36 pm

John F wrote:
Barry wrote:Then you've got the people who worked their butts off because they had certain goals in mind in terms of things like having nice second homes in a resort area or another part of the country that appeals to them and they need a nice income coming in to maintain that lifestyle. Why shouldn't people like that be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor?
How many of those with the highest incomes are actually earning them through "hard labor," or through work of any kind? How many, for example, are indeed the founders or owners of small businesses, living-stradivarius's entrepreneurs? How many others came into money through inheritance, from parents or spouse, and their high income requires no harder labor than what used to be called clipping coupons?

Everybody knows there's no necessary correlation between how hard one labors - whatever one considers "labor" to be - and how much one is paid for it. It may be how the real world is, as JFK and you say, but is it fair? And is it the best we can do for each other, as fellow Americans and fellow human beings?

About taxes: as Robert Reich said in a C-SPAN interview I've mentioned elsewhere, the top federal income tax rate during the Eisenhower presidency was 91%. Nonetheless, during the '50s, the super-rich somehow managed to scrape by, and the country as a whole achieved extraordinary economic growth and prosperity - indeed, these very years are called by many the Golden Age of capitalism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-World ... _expansion)

The economic stratification of America has been increasing as the top tax rates have come down, with the top 1% now having over 20% of total income and the bottom 80% dividing up less than 40%. On the face of it, this looks anything but fair, and hardly offers justification for the super-rich to cry poor and press for still more tax relief.

So I've come back to fairness, which is what my previous message was about. I'm not challenging the specifics of what you say you believe is fair, as you're entitled to your opinion - but it remains unclear what you believe fairness is. That's basically not an economic question but one for social and moral philosophy, and as I can't find any such basis for your views, I can't see that you're talking about fairness at all. Which is OK with me, as long as we don't use the word loosely as if it were a real criterion when actually it's not.
First, I've got to point out that you're jumping all over me for using the word "fair" in the context in which I used it, but it's YOUR Democratic party leaders and Congress people who have REPEATEDLY said the rich are not paying their "fair share" in taxes. I wish I had a ten spot for every time I've heard that phrase used by a Democrat of note. I didn't introduce the notion of the rich paying their fair share, but if people from your side of the aisle are going to repeatedly do so, it's only natural that some with opposing views are going to respond.

Second, I didn't say I favor more tax relief for the wealthy. I'd appreciate it if you would also be careful with your use of certain wording. I've said multiple times on this and other threads, that I not only have no problem with the top bracket going back to where it was under Clinton, but I'd prefer it. I also want another bracket that's even higher for those earning over a million. But then I think that's about as high as we can or should go for both the economic reasons I've given and as a matter of "fairness." That's also about as high as we're likely to get. When is the last time a candidate ran for national office on returning the tax rates back to the good old days of the 50s or 70s and came even close to winning (which is a hint as to what most Americans think with regard to fairness and taxes)?

We can both also selectively bring up historical periods of income tax rates. They were at 70 percent during the 70s and the economy was a wreck. They were lowered during the 80s and the economy boomed. Obviously there were factors behind just income tax rates during both the 50s and the 80s that played important roles in how the economy grew. Also, as I understand, when the income tax brackets were that high (70 or 91 percent), the people in those brackets didn't actually pay anywhere near that percentage of their income. They devised all kinds of ways to get around it. Which brings us back to my point that aside from the fairness issue, it's basic human nature that if you try to take "that much" of someone's income, they're going to find ways to get around it.

On how clear I've been, I don't know what else to say. I gave rates; I said that on principle, people should get to keep the majority (or over 60 percent) of what they earn, and I don't think most wealthy people inherited their way into their current positions. But even if some did, I know you wouldn't accept the notion that we should cut unemployment or even welfare because "some" of the people who get it are abusing the system. And you can get around that issue by taxing earned income at different rates.

You can make counter arguments that it's not fair for others to work just as hard and not receive nearly the reward in return for their work, but taking the bulk of someone's income in taxation to redistribute it in an effort to force a more "equal" society should be called what it is: a form of Socialism; not to mention completely inconsistent with what most non-liberals think the United States is about. That being that while we don't all have an equal chance in life in terms of our starting circumstances, we do all have an opportunity if you work like crazy, study hard, and make the right decisions (like getting married and not having kids until you do so) you can live the American Dream; and that dream doesn't include having most of your reward for that work taken back by the government. I'm comfortable with you and some others thinking that's a selfish attitude to take (although being as I'm not in the top bracket, it's clearly not selfishness on my part or on the part of the many other non-millionaires who think income tax rates should remain low in comparison to where they were during the 50s and 70s).

You have pointed out that there is a larger gap between the rich and the poor in this country now days. But there are also more people dropping out of schools than there used to be; there are fewer babies being born into two-parent families than there used to be. Those sorts of things have a significant impact on upward mobility. And they aren't the kinds of things that tax dollars are going to fix. No; it's not fair. But the alternative of trying to force fairness from on high has its limitations and many bad side effects (some of the welfare policies of the past did a lot of damage in terms of helping to breed a sense of dependency and entitlement).
Last edited by Barry on Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:16 pm

>Meantime as of 31 minutes ago the Times reports:
Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Advances<

Len good work--it's about time you took over the Republican party!


Senate Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By Vote of 65 to 31, Bill Is Sent to Obama

Now I hear you're working on McCain--heard you told him he owes everyone a positive vote on the Star treaty after the debacle he created for the Republicans with his choice of Palin:

"At issue in Saturday’s vote was an attempt by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, to delete a clause in the treaty preamble that says the two sides recognize “the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms” and “this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced.”

Regards, Len :)

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:10 pm

lennygoran wrote: "At issue in Saturday’s vote was an attempt by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, to delete a clause in the treaty preamble that says the two sides recognize “the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms” and “this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced.”
The NRA must be on this case.

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by living_stradivarius » Sat Dec 18, 2010 11:58 pm

John F wrote:
Barry wrote:Then you've got the people who worked their butts off because they had certain goals in mind in terms of things like having nice second homes in a resort area or another part of the country that appeals to them and they need a nice income coming in to maintain that lifestyle. Why shouldn't people like that be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor?
How many of those with the highest incomes are actually earning them through "hard labor," or through work of any kind? How many, for example, are indeed the founders or owners of small businesses, living-stradivarius's entrepreneurs? How many others came into money through inheritance, from parents or spouse, and their high income requires no harder labor than what used to be called clipping coupons?
Good questions. Let's get some data! :D
Image

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:02 am

living_stradivarius wrote:
John F wrote:
Barry wrote:Then you've got the people who worked their butts off because they had certain goals in mind in terms of things like having nice second homes in a resort area or another part of the country that appeals to them and they need a nice income coming in to maintain that lifestyle. Why shouldn't people like that be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor?
How many of those with the highest incomes are actually earning them through "hard labor," or through work of any kind? How many, for example, are indeed the founders or owners of small businesses, living-stradivarius's entrepreneurs? How many others came into money through inheritance, from parents or spouse, and their high income requires no harder labor than what used to be called clipping coupons?
Good questions. Let's get some data! :D
The closest thing I could find was a study indicating that people who make a lot of money tend to have less free time to enjoy what they have because they work a lot of hours and are more consumed by their businesses/professions.

I'm probably using the wrong search terms or phrases to get what it is we need.

Edit: I found another piece in which someone claims that repeated studies have shown that inherited wealth accounts for 10 to 20 percent of multi-millionaires. But I haven't found those studies yet.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by John F » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:05 am

Barry -

Just because other people, even most people, use the word and the concept of fairness loosely, doesn't mean it's OK. And I haven't been talking to them but to you, because you're here to be talked to. Which may not be fair, :mrgreen: but there it is.

I'm not trying to make an argument about what tax policy ought to be. There are other important considerations than fairness, or in practice enough of the appearance of fairness to pass laws in a democracy, and you've rightly raised some of them. But when anyone invokes fairness in defense of a position that is not self-evidently fair, they are fair game.

Fair enough?

Now to a few specific points.
I didn't say I favor more tax relief for the wealthy.
Nor did I say you do.
it's YOUR Democratic party leaders and Congress people who have REPEATEDLY said the rich are not paying their "fair share" in taxes.
If they're MY Democratic party leaders and Congress people, why don't they always do what I want? Come on now. Anyway, party affiliation is beside the point I'm making about fairness. And if they don't explain what they believe a fair share would be, and what makes it fair, they too are using the word loosely and talking empty talk.
We can both also selectively bring up historical periods of income tax rates.
Of course. I brought up the 91% top tax rate of the '50s not to claim that it was good policy, let alone that it was fair, but to disarm the notion, popular in some quarters, that high tax rates on high incomes are ipso facto the enemy of economic prosperity for the nation and the people. As you say, there's more to it than that. With this shibboleth cleared away, I can return to the question of fairness.

Finally:
Barry wrote:
John F wrote:it remains unclear what you believe fairness is
On how clear I've been, I don't know what else to say.
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough. I wasn't talking about the fairness or otherwise of this policy or that act, but the nature of fairness itself. There are many areas of life in which unfairness is so obvious that everyone (well, nearly everyone) can agree on it and there's no need to define our terms; we call it "prejudice." You and I would surely agree that it is usually unfair to employ some people rather than others solely because of race or gender or religion (though somehow Catholics always have the inside track when filling the job of pope. :)) What would fairness be? To hire them or not based on their individual personal qualifications and experience relevant to the job, or all these being equal, to choose them impartially, for example by lot.

In other areas, however, it's so unclear what one means by fairness that the term needs to be defined. For example: if a few percentage points in the marginal income tax rate for the wealthiest Americans make the difference between fairness and unfairness, what concept of fairness, what meaning of the word "fair," is that based on? That's what I've been asking, and if you've answered that question, I missed it.

The simplest thing would be to drop the criterion of fairness altogether and stick to pragmatism - in effect, to act like economists rather than politicians. For example, the nation can raise taxes on the rich for the same reason that Al Capone robbed banks, because that's where the money is. Or the nation can lower taxes on the rich because it believes the national economy, and the rest of us, would benefit from it. In that kind of a discussion, I'd have little to say. Bring a moral issue such as fairness into the discussion, however, and, well, you see what you get.
John Francis

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by lennygoran » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:50 am

>The NRA must be on this case.<

Well whatever it's time to pass the treaty, stop all the obstructionism and move on! For myself I'm much less impressed with McCain than I used to be. Regards, Len :(

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:15 pm

John F wrote: Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough. I wasn't talking about the fairness or otherwise of this policy or that act, but the nature of fairness itself. There are many areas of life in which unfairness is so obvious that everyone (well, nearly everyone) can agree on it and there's no need to define our terms; we call it "prejudice." You and I would surely agree that it is usually unfair to employ some people rather than others solely because of race or gender or religion (though somehow Catholics always have the inside track when filling the job of pope. :)) What would fairness be? To hire them or not based on their individual personal qualifications and experience relevant to the job, or all these being equal, to choose them impartially, for example by lot.

In other areas, however, it's so unclear what one means by fairness that the term needs to be defined. For example: if a few percentage points in the marginal income tax rate for the wealthiest Americans make the difference between fairness and unfairness, what concept of fairness, what meaning of the word "fair," is that based on? That's what I've been asking, and if you've answered that question, I missed it.

The simplest thing would be to drop the criterion of fairness altogether and stick to pragmatism - in effect, to act like economists rather than politicians. For example, the nation can raise taxes on the rich for the same reason that Al Capone robbed banks, because that's where the money is. Or the nation can lower taxes on the rich because it believes the national economy, and the rest of us, would benefit from it. In that kind of a discussion, I'd have little to say. Bring a moral issue such as fairness into the discussion, however, and, well, you see what you get.
John,
I respect all of what you have to say above and agree with much of it. But it's difficult for me to ignore that I hear Democrats base their entire argument on why Republicans are no good on ambiguous terms like "fair" and "cruel." You'll have to pardon me for not being able to resist occasionally giving that treatment back to them. :wink:
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by JackC » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:16 pm

I, for one, have never viewed the tax issue as about people being greedy. No one wants their taxes raised. Still, I and I suspect most people, would be willing to pay a LOT more in taxes if I truly believed that the money would be spent to restore the nation to fiscal health. But I, like many others who have seen how government spends, have NO confidence that any increase in my taxes would be used for that purpose. It won't be. When I see politicians getting serious about this issue then come and talk to me about more taxes. Till then - stop SPENDING!

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:54 pm

JackC wrote:I, for one, have never viewed the tax issue as about people being greedy. No one wants their taxes rasied. Still, I would be willing to pay a LOT more in taxes if I truly believed that the money would be spent to restore the nation to fiscal health. But I, like many others who have seen how government spends, have NO confidence that any increase in my taxes would be used for that purpose. It won't be. When I see politicians getting serious about this issue then come and talk to me about more taxes. Till then - stop SPENDING!
In a democracy, no one is completely happy with the way the government spends, but everyone has to live with it while attempting to change it through the democratic process (or deciding not to make that effort). But everyone must abide by the spending decisions that are made and support them with taxes as a matter of law. Making the level of taxation to which one is willing to be subject conditional on how the government spends may not be a crime, but it is in the same general moral category as tax protest.

Aside from that, a large part of the current deficit problem can be attributed to the resistance of those who are living in the eternal airy-fairyland of "finally we'll get the government to shrink"; libertarians are currently having an orgy in fantasy over what they imagine as a gratifying outcome of the current crunch. But size of government and the attendant expense are not going to be what gives as things develop, though hanging on to that childish hope will increase the likelihood of a more painful denouement as debt service drains us bone dry.

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:05 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
JackC wrote:I, for one, have never viewed the tax issue as about people being greedy. No one wants their taxes rasied. Still, I would be willing to pay a LOT more in taxes if I truly believed that the money would be spent to restore the nation to fiscal health. But I, like many others who have seen how government spends, have NO confidence that any increase in my taxes would be used for that purpose. It won't be. When I see politicians getting serious about this issue then come and talk to me about more taxes. Till then - stop SPENDING!
In a democracy, ... everyone must abide by the spending decisions that are made and support them with taxes as a matter of law. Making the level of taxation to which one is willing to be subject conditional on how the government spends may not be a crime, but it is in the same general moral category as tax protest.
I'm sure Jack didn't literally mean he is going to refuse to pay his taxes if they're raised.

While you are right on paying taxes being mandatory in a democracy, it's also become obvious that when a strong majority of citizens are opposed to taxes being significantly higher than where they are, they likely won't go significantly higher than where they are. Which is why, as I pointed out earlier, you haven't seen a credible politician run for national office on returning the tax rates to where they were 50 years ago for many years, and you likely won't see it for many years to come.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by JackC » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:15 pm

Barry wrote:
I'm sure Jack didn't literally mean he is going to refuse to pay his taxes if they're raised.
Hey, wait a minute. I ain't payin! Don't tread on me. :wink:

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:19 pm

Barry wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
JackC wrote:I, for one, have never viewed the tax issue as about people being greedy. No one wants their taxes rasied. Still, I would be willing to pay a LOT more in taxes if I truly believed that the money would be spent to restore the nation to fiscal health. But I, like many others who have seen how government spends, have NO confidence that any increase in my taxes would be used for that purpose. It won't be. When I see politicians getting serious about this issue then come and talk to me about more taxes. Till then - stop SPENDING!
In a democracy, ... everyone must abide by the spending decisions that are made and support them with taxes as a matter of law. Making the level of taxation to which one is willing to be subject conditional on how the government spends may not be a crime, but it is in the same general moral category as tax protest.
I'm sure Jack didn't literally mean he is going to refuse to pay his taxes if they're raised.
No, and I didn't mean to imply that, or anything else nefarious on Jack's part. But I do question whether "I don't want my taxes raised because I don't like the way the government is spending money" is a very useful attitude. We should pay the taxes that are needed to avert the disaster which we in fact seem headed for, and change government spending, if that's what we want, by electing people who want to spend differently. That, I am afraid, is the only way it can work in a democracy. [/quote]
While you are right on paying taxes being mandatory in a democracy, it's also become obvious that when a strong majority of citizens are opposed to taxes being significantly higher than where they are, they likely won't go significantly higher than where they are. Which is why, as I pointed out earlier, you haven't seen a credible politician run for national office on returning the tax rates to where they were 50 years ago for many years, and you likely won't see it for many years to come.
Though Jack and others nobly protest that they are willing to pay higher taxes under the right conditions, taxes, as Benjamin Franklin once observed, are in the same general category as death when it comes to what people don't want to do but must. As Rob (RebLem) used to imply in his signature (a quotation from Edmund Burke), it is the job of our representatives to feed us bitter medicine when that is what is needed. Taxes can and have been raised in a number of instances in the last half century, and we could pursue no more dangerous a course than the further entrenchment of the notion that tax increases must be avoided at all costs.

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:24 pm

JackC wrote:
Barry wrote:
I'm sure Jack didn't literally mean he is going to refuse to pay his taxes if they're raised.
Hey, wait a minute. I ain't payin! Don't tread on me. :wink:
Sorry. Didn't realize how radical you are. :wink:
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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by JackC » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:34 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
No, and I didn't mean to imply that, or anything else nefarious on Jack's part. But I do question whether "I don't want my taxes raised because I don't like the way the government is spending money" is a very useful attitude. We should pay the taxes that are needed to avert the disaster which we in fact seem headed for, and change government spending, if that's what we want, by electing people who want to spend differently. That, I am afraid, is the only way it can work in a democracy.
What in the world does THAT mean??
:lol: :lol:


I would have thought it was obvious that my "attitude" was based on a different view about what politicians should be doing. I don't know how else I am supposed to make my views known in a democracy other than to let politicians know how I will vote based on their views about tax and spending policy.

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:35 pm

jbuck919 wrote: Though Jack and others nobly protest that they are willing to pay higher taxes under the right conditions, taxes, as Benjamin Franklin once observed, are in the same general category as death when it comes to what people don't want to do but must. As Rob (RebLem) used to imply in his signature (a quotation from Edmund Burke), it is the job of our representatives to feed us bitter medicine when that is what is needed. Taxes can and have been raised in a number of instances in the last half century, and we could pursue no more dangerous a course than the further entrenchment of the notion that tax increases must be avoided at all costs.
From the inception of the income tax through the mid 80s, the top rate was usually over 50 percent, and in fact, over 70 percent most of the time. Yet I doubt we'll see it top 50 again in my lifetime (I'm in my mid 40s). It hasn't been there since the mid 80s. I understand your reasoning for not liking that attitude, but you have to understand that you are basically part of the liberal Democratic base, and the liberal Democratic base is out of touch with the vast majority of the rest of the country on what tax rates should be.

There is a huge difference between raising the rates back up to or close to 40 percent and moving much beyond there IMO.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:44 pm

Barry wrote:
From the inception of the income tax through the mid 80s, the top rate was usually over 50 percent, and in fact, over 70 percent most of the time. Yet I doubt we'll see it top 50 again in my lifetime (I'm in my mid 40s). It hasn't been there since the mid 80s. I understand your reasoning for not liking that attitude, but you have to understand that you are basically part of the liberal Democratic base, and the liberal Democratic base is out of touch with the vast majority of the rest of the country on what tax rates should be.

There is a huge difference between raising the rates back up to or close to 40 percent and moving much beyond there IMO.
Though you seem to be deathly afraid of such high rates and say you have perceived a serious movement from the left to make it so, something much less drastic than that is what I have been seeing, and certainly restoring levels before the Bush "temporary" cuts is nothing nearly at that level. You are slightly to the right of David Stockman on this, you know.

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Re: Those So-Called Tax Cuts

Post by Barry » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:54 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Barry wrote:
From the inception of the income tax through the mid 80s, the top rate was usually over 50 percent, and in fact, over 70 percent most of the time. Yet I doubt we'll see it top 50 again in my lifetime (I'm in my mid 40s). It hasn't been there since the mid 80s. I understand your reasoning for not liking that attitude, but you have to understand that you are basically part of the liberal Democratic base, and the liberal Democratic base is out of touch with the vast majority of the rest of the country on what tax rates should be.

There is a huge difference between raising the rates back up to or close to 40 percent and moving much beyond there IMO.
Though you seem to be deathly afraid of such high rates and say you have perceived a serious movement from the left to make it so, something much less drastic than that is what I have been seeing, and certainly restoring levels before the Bush "temporary" cuts is nothing nearly at that level. You are slightly to the right of David Stockman on this, you know.
Well ... I know a good number of people on the left would like to raise those rates well beyond restoring them to where they were before the temporary cuts. But I don't think they'll have enough votes in Congress to do so any time in the foreseeable future. That's the objective view. The subjective view is that I don't think they should go much beyond that as well, regardless of what David Stockman thinks. :wink:
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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