Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Remedial economics for the WSJ editorial board
April 27, 2005 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Remedial economics for the WSJ editorial board An April 26 Wall Street Journal editorial argued that "the overall tax burden grew more progressive" in the last 25 years because upper income taxpayers pay a larger share of total taxes than they did in 1979. But the Journal failed to explain why upper income taxpayers pay a larger share today: The wealthiest Americans earn a much larger share of total income than they did in 1979. [see, too: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_04/006194.php]
posted by Postroad (106 comments total)

 
As an istructor of first year writing at a university, this topic came up several times during the 2004 election season. It is not at all surprising the spin that WSJ puts on it, they have a "message" to convey. But like the MediaMatters article makes clear, statistics are readily available to those with half a brain.

Took less than twenty minutes to construct an excel chart to reframe this question and use it as a dialog starter about issues of income distribution. Same sort of thing happens nearly every semester with the "rapid increase in teen pregnancies" (the gross number is up slightly but the percentage is down significantly) and abortion-on-demand (same general trend). What amazes me is that people seem to have a sense that the population pool is larger, but they don't seem to understand that that means that simple numbers of incidence EVERYTHING will be up.
posted by beelzbubba at 4:44 AM on April 27, 2005


It feels like the public domain is so polluted with statistics taken out of their proper context (usually to 'prove' somebody's political point, but also through editorial ignorance) that the value of well used statistics has been lost. I've increasingly the bad habit of ignoring all statistics on the basis that whoever gives them (in this case WSJ) is probably bias.
posted by skarmj at 5:04 AM on April 27, 2005


I'm starting to think that news sources should be regulated and subject to audits, but then it seems the auditors are no better.

How would you fine someone for biased statistics? Is there such a thing as unbiased statistical analysis?
posted by Eideteker at 6:07 AM on April 27, 2005


I think this all started when the word "spin" started being used instead of the word "lies"
posted by fullerine at 6:17 AM on April 27, 2005


Anyone interested in tax policy should take a peek at Tax Policy Center. Full disclosure: I work for one of the organizations behind it, but still think it is a valuable non-partisan reference.
posted by terrapin at 6:21 AM on April 27, 2005


The editorial didn't use "biased statistics."

I think the paragraph that is so objectionable is this one:
Well, not so fast, Robin Hoods. An IRS study by a trio of tax wonks shows that, even after including Social Security taxes, the overall tax burden grew more progressive from 1979 to 1999. And while that burden became a tad less progressive after the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the rich and upper middle class continued to pay far and away the bulk of U.S. Taxes.
The little nit that Media Matters is picking is the use of the "grew more progressive" phrase. If one uses the (broad) IRS definition of progressive, this seems to me to be a defensible statement.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2005


As an istructor of first year writing at a university, this topic came up several times during the 2004 election season.

I'm sorry, I couldn't get past that. As an editor, this sentence bothered me.

And Kwantsar, the point is not that the statement isn't "defensible" -- of course it is, the WSJ is nothing if not professional -- the point is that it knowingly misrepresents the economic situation of America. They're trying to make us feel sorry for the poor rich folks, or rather they're trying to justify rich people in feeling sorry for themselves and screwing the rest of us over even worse than they do now.
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on April 27, 2005


What languagehat just said. Claiming that the tax burden is becoming more progressive would be a fair point if all the necessary information was included to follow up that statement. Had the editorial mentioned the increasing income disparity, the reader's conclusions may have been less conclusive and more curious to learn more about the situation. As it stood, however, the editorial seemed to make a very generalized statement using only part of the statistical data available.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:06 AM on April 27, 2005


...They're trying to make us feel sorry for the poor rich folks, or rather they're trying to justify rich people in feeling sorry for themselves and screwing the rest of us over even worse than they do now.

posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM CST on April 27

Putting aside the debate over the misuse of "progressive," take a look at the Tax Policy Center website that terrapin linked to. Here is a tax distribution sheet. In 2000, the top 10% of income earners paid 48.5% of federal taxes. The top 1% paid 20.1% of taxes.

How exactly is that "screwing the rest of us over?"
posted by AgentRocket at 7:12 AM on April 27, 2005


How exactly is that "screwing the rest of us over?"

Take a look at this chart. The increasing income disparity between the wealthy and the rest is why major tax cuts make people feel screwed. Especially if it's shown that these same tax cuts are targetted primarily toward the wealthy.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2005


Batboy in Weakly World News has more credibility than the partisan opinion columns of the Wall Street Journal.
posted by nofundy at 7:33 AM on April 27, 2005


You feel screwed over because someone else is making more money than you do?

If 50% is an inadquate burden for the top 10% of wage earners, what would be adequate?
posted by Kwantsar at 7:36 AM on April 27, 2005


Agentrocket: If social obligation is by head count, then the rich are getting screwed over. But not even flat-taxers think it should be a flat sum: there is an implied obligation that comes from making more money. If we pre-suppose a progressive system where tax` is increasing with income, then a less-progressive system is a shirking of social obligation.

Standard analysis is not to look at % tax burden per capita, but per dollar earned. It's the way we've always done it, economists and political scientists alike. To frame the issue as per capita is astoundingly disingenuous.
posted by allan at 7:37 AM on April 27, 2005


If 50% is an inadquate burden for the top 10% of wage earners, what would be adequate?

It depends entirely on how much total disposable income the top 10% relative to the other 90%.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:46 AM on April 27, 2005


the top 10% have
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:47 AM on April 27, 2005


If 50% is an inadquate burden for the top 10% of wage earners, what would be adequate?

Again, your comment represents a similar type of statistical misrepresentation. The top 10% may be paying 50% of total federal taxes, however, that does not mean that their tax rate is 50%. Nor does that take into account how much of a percentage their gross income equals when compared to total income by all taxpayers. Nor does it, as mentioned above, consider the growing income disparity.

Or what allan just said. I'm not sure if you're trying to defend a less progressive tax or just stirring the pot, Kwanstar.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:47 AM on April 27, 2005


They're trying to make us feel sorry for the poor rich folks

well, didn't they call the poor "Lucky Duckies"? the slave-labor-loving WSJ editorial board, after all, has never met a sweatshop or a union-buster it didn't like. for years now they have been very consistent in their war against, among other groups, the poor whose living standards are still above those of the average third world slave.
damn liberal media.

as Satan-loving Paul Krugman put it,
The Journal considers a hypothetical ducky who earns only $12,000 a year — some guys have all the luck! — and therefore, according to the editorial, "pays a little less than 4% of income in taxes." Not surprisingly, that statement is a deliberate misrepresentation; the calculation refers only to income taxes. If you include payroll and sales taxes, a worker earning $12,000 probably pays well over 20 percent of income in taxes. But who's counting?
What's interesting, however, is what The Journal finds wrong with this picture: The worker's taxes aren't "enough to get his or her blood boiling with rage."
In case you're wondering what this is about, it's an internal squabble of the right. The Journal is terrified that future tax cuts might include token concessions to ordinary families; it wants to ensure that everything goes to corporations and the wealthy. But the political theory revealed by the editorial — policy should be nasty to people with low incomes, lest they have any good feelings about government — may explain a lot of what has been happening lately.
posted by matteo at 7:47 AM on April 27, 2005


Leave it to the WSJ editorial crew to abuse statistics.

However, in the last two elections those at the bottom came out in droves for GW and Republicans in general. This is really disappointing. Oh well, if those rubes want to hand me another tax cut that I don't need, then screw 'em.
posted by caddis at 7:49 AM on April 27, 2005


If 50% is an inadquate burden for the top 10% of wage earners, what would be adequate?

Again, your comment represents a similar type of statistical misrepresentation.


My arse. It's only a misrepresentation if read completely independent of context. I know what I'm saying, you know what I'm saying.

But "disposable income," Armitage? What's "disposable income?" If I make $500,000/yr-- where $480,000 goes to my mortgage and $15,000 feeds me, how much disposable income do I have?

And, matteo, it's cute that Krugman just completely fucking ignores the EITC, and pretends that tax policy has no consequences or second-order effects whatsoever.

Warrior for truth, indeed.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:58 AM on April 27, 2005


C'mon Kwantsar, you're coming from one place and one place only: This is my GD money and I shouldn't have to share it with anyone else.
posted by kgasmart at 8:01 AM on April 27, 2005


kgasmart, I am fucking broke. Broke, broke, broke. The place I come from is that "This is their GD money, and they shouldn't have to share it with anyone else." But that's not really what I believe. I believe that we should reduce the size of government and tax Ricardian Rents only.

If I were as smart as Will Wilkinson, this is what I'd believe.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:07 AM on April 27, 2005


If I make $500,000/yr-- where $480,000 goes to my mortgage and $15,000 feeds me, how much disposable income do I have

If that's how your spending your money, you're an idiot, and the government would spend it better than you. But as to your question, there is no appropriate answer to what percentage X of taxes the top 10% of wage earners should be paying. If they are making more money they should be paying more in taxes.

Also, I agree with caddis. I'm really getting to the point where it's draining to argue with people who are getting screwed by these tax shifts that my family doesn't need all this extra money.

On Preview: Enjoy paying more taxes for me Kwantsar
posted by slapshot57 at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2005


If I make $500,000/yr-- where $480,000 goes to my mortgage and $15,000 feeds me, how much disposable income do I have?

If that's the case, you'd probably need a cheaper house.
posted by drezdn at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2005


Actually Kwantsar, I took your statement to mean that the top 10% had to pay 50% of their income as an income tax, (which seems about fair to me), later statements would seem to indicate that is not the case. Your statement was unclear, as SeizeTheDay suggests.
posted by biffa at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2005


The WSJ is also ignoring the fact that the income disparity is driven by tax disparities, in this case tax concessions and loose code allowing corporations to steadily decrease their tax burden. This has been happening over the past several decades. The people who benefit from that are the wealthy people who earn wealth and money from capital gains and dividends. Many of those same people are payed exorbitant salaries that in earlier times would, perhaps, have gone to pay for corporate tax bills.
posted by OmieWise at 8:15 AM on April 27, 2005


kgasmart, I am fucking broke. Broke, broke, broke.

But are you broke because of taxes?

Seriously. I don't know what you make, and I don't care. But you're in the process of making an argument here that even the top 1 percent of wage earners in the United States, who likely take home monthly more disposable income than you or I might see in a year, or several years, are somehow getting screwed via "confiscatory" tax rates. And I just don't see it.

We in this country have now had half a decade (longer, actually) of conservative fiscal policies, the cornerstone of which has been the reduction of federal taxes. And what has been the result? The market's sinking, the deficit has ballooned, and a host of other economic woes continue to bedevil the "recovery," if it can even be called that.

So how, in any way, have these lower tax rates translated into anything that's been good for this country on the whole?

News flash: It's not trickling down. And try as I might, I simply can't get all misty-eyed at the idea of someone making half a million a month who has chosen to buy a home with a $480,000 mortgage payment; I just can't do it, particularly when their tax rate is only a few percentage points higher than what I pay.
posted by kgasmart at 8:17 AM on April 27, 2005


Comment three comments above mine: Here is a tax distribution sheet. In 2000, the top 10% of income earners paid 48.5% of federal taxes.

My comment: If 50% is an inadquate burden for the top 10% of wage earners, what would be adequate?

Sorry if it's unclear.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:19 AM on April 27, 2005


But "disposable income," Armitage? What's "disposable income?

For a start, let's subtract the current poverty line income level from each person's income, and compare the total income left over for the top 10% and the other 90%. That would at least put your otherwise utterly meaningless statistic in *some* context.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2005


kgasmart: If I (or, probably, you) had never been born, the world would not be substantially poorer for my absence. The same cannot be said for Michael Dell or Bill Gates.

I'm not broke because of taxes. I'm broke because I made a few bad decisions. I'm living with the consequences, working to resolve my failures, and I hold no one or thing responsible other than myself.

We in this country have now had half a decade (longer, actually) of conservative fiscal policies, the cornerstone of which has been the reduction of federal taxes. And what has been the result? The market's sinking, the deficit has ballooned, and a host of other economic woes continue to bedevil the "recovery," if it can even be called that.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Maybe we've had "conservative" policy, but we haven't come within a country mile of Laissez-Faire.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:26 AM on April 27, 2005


Let's add more numbers to this debate.

In 2002, if your adjusted gross income was more than $92,663, you were in the top 10%. So if you and your significant other made $55,000 each, you were in the top 10% If your AGI was $126,525, you were in the top 5%. That's $70,000 each.

We're not talking about Rockefellers and Carnegies. I'd guess a fair number of commentors in this thread are in the top 10%.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:30 AM on April 27, 2005


I'm starting to think that news sources should be regulated and subject to audits

That's not a long slippery slope at all... imagine that GWB gets to actively control the news media. Six channels of FoxNews and nothing else for you, comrade.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:44 AM on April 27, 2005


Maybe we've had "conservative" policy, but we haven't come within a country mile of Laissez-Faire.

But I reiterate: How have the more conservative fiscal policies of the past few years contributed toward the common good in this country?

Or am I out of line to use the term "common good?"

Really. Is it all about me? Is it all about you, and if someone else gets screwed because of their "bad decisions," or maybe they happened to get real sick or something like that, ought our national policy to be: Are there no workhouses?
posted by kgasmart at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2005


We're not talking about Rockefellers and Carnegies. I'd guess a fair number of commentors in this thread are in the top 10%.

Exactly. The bottom 90% aggregate income is apparently chicken feed. So why is anyone surprised that the top 10% are contributing a high percentage of the total income collected?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:55 AM on April 27, 2005


More class warfare nonsense. Bitter people who want to penalize successful people even more than they already are being penalized because those people worked their ass off at being successful. As much money as I pay in taxes, you can bite me if you think I should pay even MORE than the unfair percentage my wife and I already pay.

I find it funny, though, that people who trumpet progressive tax policies because "the rich have an obligation to the help the needy" tend to be the same people who said after the election "we should just get rid of the South because us Coastal brilliant wunderkinds are tired of supporting the slackjawed yokel trailerpark that is the South."
posted by dios at 9:00 AM on April 27, 2005


I think this all started when the word "spin" started being used instead of the word "lies"

posted by fullerine at 9:17 AM EST on April 27 [!]


Best comment I have heard in days.
posted by caddis at 9:02 AM on April 27, 2005


Please don't let dios derail this thread with his non sequitor.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:04 AM on April 27, 2005


We in this country have now had half a decade (longer, actually) of conservative fiscal policies, the cornerstone of which has been the reduction of federal taxes.

There haven't been any conservative fiscal policies! How much debt have they racked up since those tax cuts? It's not a "cut" if they force you to pay even more back later!

The words for all the concepts I believe in have been stolen. "Free trade", "conservatism," "fiscal responsibility," "personal accountability," "states' rights" ...so long. You've been redefined out from under me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:12 AM on April 27, 2005


but we haven't come within a country mile of Laissez-Faire

luckily, you don't need a lot of money to read up on your country's history -- just go to a socialistic public library and check it out a bit. one cool example: the 1920's. lots of laissez-faire back then. we all know what happened next.
oh, a nice by-product of old-school laissez-faire: a more diverse workforce.


The same cannot be said for Michael Dell or Bill Gates.

yeah, but then our fucking computers would actually work, for chrissakes

__________________________

More class warfare nonsense.

too bad that class warfare is being fought every day by the rich (say, untaxed corporations and their dutiful servants in Congress and, yes, on the Internet) against the poor. and i sure hope you're rich, because otherwise you're voting against your economic interests


same people who said after the election "we should just get rid of the South because us Coastal brilliant wunderkinds are tired of supporting the slackjawed yokel trailerpark that is the South."

well, I don't agree, and I really like the South, but if a large part of a country consistently votes as a reliable bloc in favor of certain anti-big-gub'mint policies it shouldn't certainly be entitled to lotsa big gub'mint help, shouldn't it
posted by matteo at 9:13 AM on April 27, 2005


Most rich people make their money the old fashioned way. The ones who do work hard by starting a business, busting their asses on Wall Street, what have you, certainly deserve to enjoy it. But they also need to understand that their heroic act of Horatio Algerism doesn't happen in a vacuum--it requires an infrastructure of cops, bureaucrats, roads, and schools that are paid for by taxes. And they should be grateful that our society allows them to make money and keep a fair amount of it.
posted by bardic at 9:16 AM on April 27, 2005


More class warfare nonsense.

Ah, my friend, class warfare is going to come around and bite you in the ass.

And unless I miss my guess, you'd consider 1 percent an "unfair percentage."
posted by kgasmart at 9:17 AM on April 27, 2005


caddis "Oh well, if those rubes want to hand me another tax cut that I don't need, then screw 'em."

That might be the dumbest thing I've heard on Mefi in a while. Right, screw a government mired in corruption and wasteful spending for giving you more of what is YOURS so that YOU can decide where it is best used. Brilliant.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:29 AM on April 27, 2005


But "disposable income," Armitage? What's "disposable income?" If I make $500,000/yr-- where $480,000 goes to my mortgage and $15,000 feeds me, how much disposable income do I have?

Oh, roughly $400,000.

If you have $480,000 going to your mortgage EACH YEAR, I must respectfully call you a complete flaming dumbass. Feeling sympathy for that would be like demanding a bailout for a poverty-level family who went into debt over a Dolby 5.1 home theater system and a 52" plasma screen.

The point the original poster was getting at was that our society has a certain 'base living fee' for anyone not being supported by an extended family. Rent, utilities, food, transportation (to and from your job) and so on all add up. This can certainly be reduced by thrifty living, but the lower your income, the more difficult it is to meet this baseline requirement.

Moving from a $300 a month apartment in the inner city to a $600 a month apartment in the burbs is, in my mind, a slightly easier shift to justify than moving from a $2000 apartment to a $4000 one. Claiming that a $480,000 a YEAR (?!?!?) mortgage puts a millionaire at the same level as a paycheck-to-paycheck retail worker is absurd.
posted by verb at 9:29 AM on April 27, 2005


dios,

please explain to me how pointing out an article is being disingenuous when they claim the rich are paying a higher percentage of taxes is class warfare?

Just for a refresher, here is what has been established:
A. The rich are paying more in taxes than they used to
B. This is because they are making much, much more money

or is any arguement that doesn't shift your tax burden onto others class warfare?
posted by slapshot57 at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2005


verb's comment is why I like the idea of a consumption or sales tax.

The income tax system isn't fair as it works out, though it could be in theory. People on the high end overpay, and people on the low end don't pay at all. The question should be, what do the people on the lower end do with the money they save from having someone else pick up their tax burden? Well, if they are using it effectively (e.g., job training, schooling) then I think most people wouldn't be opposed to it. But that isn't what happens. Money is wasted on cars, big screen tvs, a giant pickup truck, taking the clan out to Disney World, diamond-capped teeth, expensive sneakers and various other bling-bling wasteful things.

But if we switched to a consumption tax, I wouldn't care about my tax burden being higher. If I want to lower my taxes, I can be more frugal. But that would require people on the lower end to spend money more efficiently. You want those spinners so that you can pimp your ride? Well, you can't afford it, so maybe spend your money in a way to help you get a job that will allow you to afford your spinners.
posted by dios at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2005


Right, screw a government mired in corruption and wasteful spending for giving you more of what is YOURS so that YOU can decide where it is best used.

It is mired in corruption and wasteful spending when it both refunds money, and then proceeds to spend not only that money it refunded, but even more money "borrowed" (see: stolen) from future generations.

If the tax breaks had prevented that multi-hundred-billion-dollar disaster that is the Iraq adventure, that would be one thing. But the Administration is in the position where it's both taking in less money and spending more (largely on their corporate buddies). Are you actually saying that this is an intelligent way to govern?
posted by clevershark at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2005


slapshot, I was referring to the comments herein which include people suggesting that the bastard rich have a duty to pay more and that the rich are screwing over the poor. That is class warfare.
posted by dios at 9:43 AM on April 27, 2005


What's wrong with class warfare? A little open class warfare would do this country some good.
posted by klangklangston at 9:46 AM on April 27, 2005


Are you actually saying that this is an intelligent way to govern?
posted by clevershark at 9:41 AM PST on April 27


I'll answer that. No. It isn't the intelligent way to govern. My biggest criticism of GWB is that he hasn't restrained spending. I support our actions in Afganistan and Iraq. I hope in the future we don't have to go into any more places. But I certainly don't figure the financial costs into the consideration of whether or not to do the right thing internationally. So I am willing to forgive deficits caused by that.

But GWB hasn't restrained spending domestically, and I think his failure to do so is his largest fault. Tax cuts were the right thing to do. But the government has to limit its spendings in an equivalent amounts. I don't count military spending in that calculation. But what Bush should have done is said: tax cuts in this amount. We must cut domestic spending in an equal amount. By allowing domestic spending to increase and add to the deficit, he has been not managing fiscal policy well.
posted by dios at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2005


dios, are you suggesting a luxary tax? If so I would be in agreement, but then again who gets define what a luxary item is? I am dead set against a consumption tax based on necessities because that is in fact a regressive tax.
posted by ozomatli at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2005


I can't say that I loved A People's History of the United States as much as most people seem to, but I thought Zinn made one interesting offhand observation: that throughout history, the US government has generally been very good about throwing the poor just enough of a bone to make any sort of mass uprising unpalatable. And frankly, I'm surprised that people who get bent out of shape over income tax don't see that it's really in the interests of the rich to pay enough taxes to support a social structure that, for lack of a better word, mollifies the poor.
posted by COBRA! at 9:49 AM on April 27, 2005


Dammit i misspelled luxury twice! Damn phonics and my Kansan accent.
posted by ozomatli at 9:50 AM on April 27, 2005


dios,

the issue people have is not "screw the rich" because as established most of us likely fall into the screwed rich category. I'm currently doing quite well though I'll be dirt poor when I head back to school. Still, my family has saved tons of money through many of the "save the rich" tax cuts. But these tax shifts just come back to bite us in the as with increased property taxes, increased, health care, and exploding tuition at state universites.

yes, you and I might be a lot happier with the extra few thousand we have laying around, but these tax shifts are putting the american dream out of reach. Also, enough of your condescending "the poor will simply waste their money anyways" bullshit. Try attending an Ivey league school and see how the trust fund babies who never have to worry about an inheritance tax waste their money. There are examples of stupid people with money everywhere, but you shouldn't base a tax policy on your stereotypes of what black people are going to spend money on
posted by slapshot57 at 9:57 AM on April 27, 2005


Class warfare? Is that when rich people will do anything to make sure they stay rich and take everyone else for as much as they can get?
posted by biffa at 9:57 AM on April 27, 2005


lots of laissez-faire back then.

Except for, you know, the Federal Reserve Bank (1913)-- the existence of which is the antithesis of Laissez-faire

we all know what happened next.

Yes, we do. Von Mises said (in 1931!) that
"all attempts to emerge from the crisis by new interventionist measures are completely misguided. There is only one way out of the crisis: Forego every attempt to prevent the impact of market prices on production. Give up the pursuit of policies which seek to establish interest rates, wage rates and commodity prices different from those the market indicates. This may contradict the prevailing view. It certainly is not popular."

But instead, Hoover and FDR gave us wage controls, price controls, and asset seizures, and we had a depression.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:11 AM on April 27, 2005


I live in a country with two other citizens. My friend and I each make $20,000/year, and our boss makes $20,000,000. My friend and I each pay $5000 in taxes to the general fisc, at a tax rate of 25%. Our boss pays $90,000 in taxes (that is, 90% of all taxes collected), at a tax rate of less than 1/2 of 1%. This tax rate is highly regressive, despite the fact that the top 30% of the earners pay 90% of the taxes. This is the point of the FPP. The WSJ looked at the aggregate tax burden for a particular quantile and pronounced upon the progressivity of the tax system. You can't tell anything about the progressivity of the tax system from such aggregate statistics, unless you have some information about the income distribution, or else how the tax rate varies across individuals as income varies. The fact is that the rich in this country have become richer faster than the poorer have, so without any change to the tax system at all, their share of the total tax burden would have increased. Knowing that doesn't tell us how the tax system has changed.
posted by dilettanti at 10:13 AM on April 27, 2005


If 50% is an inadquate burden for the top 10% of wage earners, what would be adequate?

According to this source, under current law the top 10% of income earners make 46% of all income and pay 55% of all federal taxes.

The average effective tax rate (all federal taxes) for everyone is 18.4%.

The average effective tax rate for the top 10% of income earners is 22%.

For those in the top 0.1% of income, the average effective tax rate goes all the way up to 23.9%.

I won't try to play your game of defining what is "adequate" or "inadequate", but it's pretty clear that the top earners are not paying a grossly disproportionate share of their earnings as tax.

They are, indeed, paying a slightly higher proportion of their earnings as federal tax than average.

But the main reason they're paying a such a large proportion of total federal taxes is because they're making a huge proportion of the total earnings.
posted by flug at 10:14 AM on April 27, 2005


throughout history, the US government has generally been very good about throwing the poor just enough of a bone to make any sort of mass uprising unpalatable. And frankly, I'm surprised that people who get bent out of shape over income tax don't see that it's really in the interests of the rich to pay enough taxes to support a social structure that, for lack of a better word, mollifies the poor.

See, this is why I think class warfare is going to make a comeback in a very big way.

The petulant anti-tax sentiment of the top income bracket has fully convinced itself, perhaps in those idle moments aboad the private jet, that they are being treated unjustly by this country.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the country is watching their 401k sink like a stone, assuming they have one, watching the cost of their health insurance rocket skyward, assuming they have health insurance, and now of course they're paying more at the pump.

But the wealthy have it rough?

Please. Never in recent memory has there been a greater difference between the whining at the top and the cold hard reality at the other end. Limbaugh, et al, have done a good job of obscuring this over the course of the past decade - but you can't obscure it forever.
posted by kgasmart at 10:14 AM on April 27, 2005


dios: The rich may not have a duty to pay more, but they are definitely screwing the poor.

The poor simply cannot get the same percentage return on investments that the rich can (by legal means.) The playing field is not even, it's more like a Zipf distribution. Measures that would give poorer people the same advantages in leveraging their wealth as the rich have will not be taken because they aren't profitable, that is to say, they increase competition. That's good for everyone, except for the same rich people that are making most of the policies and controlling the majority of investment instruments.

When it benefits them, they're all for free markets and independent enterprise, when it might marginally cut into their huge income that they could never ever spend (unless they get that Hummer and house and rich-folk-bling) they're suddenly worried about economic instability.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:16 AM on April 27, 2005




languagehat wrote:
I'm sorry, I couldn't get past that. As an editor, this sentence bothered me.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. As an idiot, I take complete responsibility for that poorly wrought sentence. End of semester?

posted by beelzbubba at 10:18 AM on April 27, 2005


Wow, dios hates gays and blacks. But more to the point, slapshot is correct. There are plenty of people who work hard to get rich, but there are probably just as many who inherit it. And that's fine, but please spare us the rhetoric of noble masters of industry rising to the top of the Darwinian pile. It does happen, but there's also the trust-funder. Should they get to keep some of it? Certainly, but they also need to pay up for the police, courts, roads, Abrams battle tanks, etc. that allow them to live in relative peace and happiness.
posted by bardic at 10:22 AM on April 27, 2005


Wow, dios hates gays and blacks.
posted by bardic at 10:22 AM PST on April 27

Grow up. That is completely wrong and uncalled for. I haven't said anything to you, so quit being a prick. If you can't discuss this without making it about bashing me, then bugger off.
posted by dios at 10:39 AM on April 27, 2005


If you can't discuss this without making it about bashing me, then bugger off.

Let's make it about bashing people with cars, big screen tvs, a giant pickup truck, taking the clan out to Disney World, diamond-capped teeth, expensive sneakers and various other bling-bling wasteful things instead.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:41 AM on April 27, 2005


I'm not broke because of taxes. I'm broke because I made a few bad decisions.

There haven't been any conservative fiscal policies! How much debt have they racked up since those tax cuts? It's not a "cut" if they force you to pay even more back later!

I think kwanstar and sonofsamiam need to sit in a locked room together with a couple of large, blunt objects. My money's on sonofsamiam.
posted by bigbadem at 10:41 AM on April 27, 2005


I'm not convinced that anyone who thinks that refunds from the EITC etc are spent on spinners has ever spent any time with working poor people who use the money to buy necessities that are otherwise out of reach due to the expenses of everyday life-rent, food, utilities. The notion that a regressive sales tax fixes that problem is ridiculous, by which I mean, asinine. When income is as baldly skewed as it is in this country (and rather than proving otherwise, the stats on what makes the top 10% etc prove that it is very badly skewed), any tax that transfers any more of a tax burden to people that aren't in that 10% should be considered cruel and unusual. I certainly cannot fathom how someone like Bush, or anyone else who claims to be a Christian, can advocate such a system. Christianity, despite what some Calvinists seem to think, is not a coded form of winner-take-all capitalism.

And, incidentally, advocating any kind of tax, or even a redistribution of wealth, is not class warfare, it's discussion.
posted by OmieWise at 10:41 AM on April 27, 2005


dios writes " Grow up. That is completely wrong and uncalled for."

Dios, look to yourself. Your characterization was completely racially loaded. If you want to be taken seriously, which I sometimes doubt, then act with more decorum yourself.
posted by OmieWise at 10:44 AM on April 27, 2005


. . . I think class warfare is going to make a comeback in a very big way.

I doubt it. It will not happen as long as the Republicans keep succeeding at pitching themselves as the party of the people and lower income voters keep voting Republican.
posted by caddis at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2005


OmieWise said "I certainly cannot fathom how someone like Bush, or anyone else who claims to be a Christian, can advocate such a system. Christianity, despite what some Calvinists seem to think, is not a coded form of winner-take-all capitalism."

Agreed. They should study their Bibles more carefully.

And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark, 10:23-25
posted by caddis at 10:59 AM on April 27, 2005


bigbadem: I'll take my chances against any of you internet geeks ;-), thanks, but I doubt that sonofsamiam and I would have much to fight about. He believes that (t)he words for all the concepts (he) believe(s) in have been stolen. "Free trade", "conservatism," "fiscal responsibility," "personal accountability," "states' rights" ...so long. (they)'ve been redefined out from under (him).

I'm no apologist for the modern Conservative movement, and I agree completely with his points.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:02 AM on April 27, 2005


Money is wasted on cars, big screen tvs, a giant pickup truck, taking the clan out to Disney World, diamond-capped teeth, expensive sneakers and various other bling-bling wasteful things.

And Lord knows the top 10% didn't profit in any way from the irresponsible and profligate spending habits of the lower 90%. No no no - those credit-card companies allow that 90% to run up huge debts out of the goodness of their hearts, not because they make piles of money off it.

Also, in my experience - and I'm betting this is universal - nobody smart and successful and well-connected and well-informed enough to make it into that top 10% forks over 50% of their actual income to the govt. They have tax shelters, clever accountants, highly dubious write-offs that somehow manage to obey the letter of the law while pissing all over its spirit. (Case in point: there is a huge golf tournament here in southern Alberta every year for a cross-section of the region's elite called "The Classic Write-Off." It doesn't even pretend to be anything more than a high-end golf vacation.) And the top 1%? Ever heard of the Cayman Islands? Bermuda?

But hey, I don't want to get in the way of the infallible logic that says it's the management consultants and corporate lawyers of the world who are getting screwed. Wal-Mart greeters? Sandwich artists? Lucky Duckies!
posted by gompa at 11:09 AM on April 27, 2005


Now, for some of you it doesn't matter. You were born rich, and you're going to stay rich. But here's my advice to the rest of you: take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs. And take them down.
posted by bardic at 11:21 AM on April 27, 2005


In diosland, the rich are all hard-working and the poor are all wasteful. In diosland everyone starts equal -- even after the end of the estate tax and the crippling of public education and health care. Even if there are minor inequalities, If everyone tries hard enough then everyone can be rich in diosland. In diosland only some kind of personal failing prevents you from having a good income, and because of that failing you probably deserve no special treatment, even if you are raising kids.

Government programs or taxes that help the poor more than the rich are unfair in diosland. To think differently is class warfare!

So cash in that bling-bling and join the armed forces of glorious diosland! Die for diosland! Die to protect her sons and daughters and their hard-won capital -- surely they would endure an (exactly) equal percentage of hardship and sacrifice for you.

Accurate represention of the views of our honorable friend dios not guaranteed.
posted by fleacircus at 11:53 AM on April 27, 2005


caddis, I once read a conservative rationalization of that very piece of scripture which stated that the "eye of the needle" actually referred to a specific narrow, rocky pass near Jerusalem. So the Bible is clearly stating that you can fit plenty of your camels, and all the stuff they're carrying, through the Eye of the Needle and still get into heaven. So, we got that goin' for us, which is nice.
posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 11:55 AM on April 27, 2005


Kwantsar: kgasmart: If I (or, probably, you) had never been born, the world would not be substantially poorer for my absence. The same cannot be said for Michael Dell or Bill Gates.
I strongly disagree. Bill Gates is a bad person and both the world and The US would be better off without him IMHO.
posted by Mitheral at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2005


I hate to be rude, but anyone who calls dios' comments racially loaded is a moron.

I don't understand why the person in his first example - someone who wastes all of his $500,000 income on a mortgage - is just a guy, while the person who wastes his money on diamond teeth and spinners must obviously be black.

Anyone who associates diamond teeth and spinners with black people is racist, pure and simple. Seriously, did the word "negro" pop into your mind when you read that example? Because it certainly didn't pop into my head when I read it, and I'm giving dios the benefit of the doubt by assuming it didn't pop into his head while writing it.

Way to fuck up a great thread!
posted by b_thinky at 12:31 PM on April 27, 2005


What is a progressive tax? What is a regressive tax? How about just a fair tax?

I think a consumption tax equally applicable to everyone is the best way to go. You buy a Bentley? You pay an additional 10% on top of your $200,000 - or $20,000 - to the government. If you buy a Ford Focus, you pay $2,000 on top of your $20,000. Trust me, Bentley sales wouldn't be the worse because of it.

Class warfare is a one sided war being fought on the side of the poor and middle class. Rich people don't hate poor people - they simply don't think about them. If we move to a consumption tax, no rich person is going to say, "I'm going to cut my spending, just to spite all those damned poor folk!"

On the other hand, middle class people like you and I may learn to be more disciplined in our spending. We live in a society that loves living above its means. A consumption tax discourages that.

And the bonus would be losing the income and payroll tax along with the bereaucracy that goes with it.
posted by b_thinky at 12:40 PM on April 27, 2005


I don't want to screw the rich. And I don't want them to continue screwing me. So stop it!

I want to eat the rich.
After being well roasted on a spit in hell.
While they scream apologies for screwing the poor all over the world for time eternal.
And the apologists for the rich are getting it much worse.

Enjoy it while you got it all yo rich f*ckers and your apologist whores 'cause your days are numbered.

[dios (God) made me do this]
posted by nofundy at 12:44 PM on April 27, 2005


A consumption tax is great, if you have lots of money to save. Since wealthy people tend to save a higher percentage of their income they will effectively pay a lower tax rate. Now that's a fair tax!
posted by caddis at 12:46 PM on April 27, 2005


b_thinky,

That would be all well and good except there is a baseline cost just for existing.
Take the tax off food and medicine and health insurance and basic shelter and you're talking more sensibly. Tax only that above the subsistence level.
posted by nofundy at 12:48 PM on April 27, 2005


b_thinky-

Thanks, but no thanks.

I didn't call dios' post racist, I called it racially loaded. I stand by that. Dios is smart, and he knows enough rhetorical tricks to not be too explicit in his post. You'll recall, or perhaps you won't, how cleverly the GOP used pictures of Willy Horton, and how they talked about 'Welfare Queens' as if they were black, even though the majority of welfare recipients in the US are white.

Dios was using stereotypes. This is obvious from what he chooses to cite. Instead of talking about, say, how the profligate poor are buying caviar and a million tubes of toothpaste and Armani suits and Apple Powerbooks, all items that would be a poor use of limited resources, but which carry no particular cultural baggage, he chose to list a series of things, some of which are valued by a certain racial demographic. This was reinforced by his use of 'bling' at the end of his post. Bling may be a general term now, but it comes from a very specific cultural subset in America. It was his choice to present them as negatives. The same list of things presented in a positive light would be much less objectionable, and much less likely to draw criticisms.

You may be allowing your desire for there to be no such thing as racism to confuse your critical faculties. Or, you may not.

On preview:
Regressive tax.
Progressive tax.

These terms are a commonly aspect of the debate that recognizes that rich people have more money, and in many cases use far more public resources, than do poor people. Pretending to not understand that is as disingenuous as pretending that recognizing when some deploys racial stereotypes, and calling them on it, is racist.
posted by OmieWise at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2005


Sorry, but I have to correct my errors:

These terms are a commonly accepted aspect of the debate that recognizes that rich people have more money, and in many cases use far more public resources, than do poor people. Pretending to not understand that is as disingenuous as pretending that recognizing when someone deploys racial stereotypes, and calling them on it, is racist.
posted by OmieWise at 12:55 PM on April 27, 2005


...the world would not be substantially poorer for my absence. The same cannot be said for Michael Dell or Bill Gates.

Bullshit. Neither of these men is any sort of saviour to mankind. Their absence would make no difference whatsoever to this world, and one could argue effectively that we'd all be a helluva lot better off with neither of them.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:12 PM on April 27, 2005


b-thinky,

relax dude, you're not making yourself look too intelligent in this exchange. Here's a little exercise for you:

First, what group of people are known to have gold/diamond teeth?
Second, which group popularized oversized rims on cars?
Third, from whose music did the term "Bling-Bling" originate?
Fourth, which group started the "Pimp my ride" trend?


The answer to all those questions to anyone with half a brain is Rappers. Pretty much all mainstream rappers not named Eminem happen to be black. So intentionally or, as I suspect, subconciously, Dios gets a mental image of wasteful young black men when he thinks of the poor. Also, blacks were traditionally stereotyped as wasting money on expensive sneakers (jordans) during the 90s, though I think that's slipped over to everyone these days (like most of black culture). So out of the 8 or so condemnations of poor people dios made, half are culture neutral and the other half were popularized/primarily found in black culture.

But you know, maybe you're right, maybe it's my fault for loving rap music and actually knowing what the fuck I'm talking about. Or is Celine Dion going around in diamond teeth and an Escalade on 28 inch Pirelli rims?

Additonally, you'd look a lot better if the 500,000 comment you attribute to dios had not been made by someone else
posted by slapshot57 at 1:14 PM on April 27, 2005


what do the people on the lower end do with the money... [waste it] on cars, big screen tvs, a giant pickup truck, taking the clan out to Disney World, diamond-capped teeth, expensive sneakers and various other bling-bling wasteful things.

Only someone who has lived a life of great privilege could make such an asinine statement.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:15 PM on April 27, 2005


five fresh fish,

I don't know about how he's hurt the world monopoly-wise, but at least Bill gates is giving away the bulk of his fortune.

which means we'll have to eat the waltons before him
posted by slapshot57 at 1:16 PM on April 27, 2005


Anyone who proposes a national seals tax is totally insane. It has the double threat of not only increasing the tax burden on lower income people in families in not only dollar amounts, but in percentages as well, but also discouraging consumption, especially of luxury goods. This causes a cooling of the economy, which can have a deleterious effect on everyone, even those rich people, them what make money when people, rich and poor, buy things. This leads to things like layoffs, where now, you have no income, but are still taxed at a rate that assumes you have do. It's meritorious that people live within their means, but how does making it more difficult encourage them to do so?

If only want to tax luxury goods, or anything beyond a subsistence level, then how do you define that, exactly? By exempting certain items? How are these items exempted? By only taxing things above a certain threshold for various types of goods? Again, what is the threshold? Make it too low, and the threshold is Top Ramen and Chef Boyardee in a one room a person flat, too high, and you're negating the point of consumption tax in the first place, but have created a nice shiny bureacracy and a passel of new laws. It also doesn't address the second problem of an artificially slow economy. Maybe a tax based on consumption in proportion to one's income? That would necessitate a bureaucracy that makes the IRS look like a pizza parlor, and a level of paperwork for each taxpayer that would make the current tax code look like a postcard, with the same disadvantages as a normal sales tax.

I mean, I can possibly see a flat tax with an income exemption, a tax of corporate profits, or what have you, but a national sales tax is so far on the other side of absurd that you can't even see it from the border.
posted by Snyder at 1:21 PM on April 27, 2005


The "bulk?" I don't think so.
His net worth is somewhere around $29 billion.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:21 PM on April 27, 2005


That was supposed to be about Gates.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2005


five fresh fish writes " Bullshit. Neither of these men is any sort of saviour to mankind. Their absence would make no difference whatsoever to this world, and one could argue effectively that we'd all be a helluva lot better off with neither of them."


Actually, Dell can take a flyer, but Gates is indeed of serious service to the world. The B&M Gates Foundation is spending millions of dollars, hundreds of millions, helping to fight poverty and disease around the world. I wasn't much of a fan when Gates seemed to want to get everyone a computer, but he wised up and realized that a woman dying of TB and AIDS in Botswana needs good healthcare much more. Since then he has spent his money remarkably well, and deserves a Nobel in my opinion. His dad has also been a very strong proponent of keeping the estate tax in place, which I think must have a lot of backing from Bill.
posted by OmieWise at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2005


sonofsamiam,

I meant by his death. He's already given away billions, and he's stated several times he has no intention of simply handing his money to his kids. He plans on going the same way his dad did, give them enough to get started but then give the rest away.

so he's not evil incarnate
posted by slapshot57 at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2005


That is not his money he is giving away: it is your money, obtained through the outright theft of others' intellectual property and the subsequent development of a monopolistic empire that has kept product prices artificially high and essentially forced you to fork over the dough if you wish to use a computer.

It's great that he is giving so much to charity, regardless the underlying motivations (tax dodging, image-building, etc).

But if Billy hadn't been born, we'd still have a thriving computer industry, a lot more competition in the marketplace, undoubtedly a helluva lot more innovation ... and there'd still be a shedload of money being donated to charity, if not by companies then by individuals, all of whom would have a few extra bucks by benefit of not being screwed-over by Bill's monopoly.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2005


Snyder, why does it decrease consumption? It is quite obviously IN PLACE of the income tax, not in addition to the income tax. With all the money one gets to keep, it makes it more likely that one will go out and buy something with it. And let us not pretend that a sales tax is going to keep us from buying a nice car or whatever. We are just as equally likely to buy the nice car, and possibly even more likely given that we don't have to write a big check to the government. The threat of an added 8% tax surely isn't going to be a dissuasion.

As far as exempting certain necessities, how would that plan be any more burdensome than the tax system we already have with food stamps, etc? And if you are worrying about cooling off the economy, you should oppose income taxes because they really cool off the economy when you have people having to give away a third of what they make.
posted by dios at 1:33 PM on April 27, 2005


fff-

I'm not sure I agree. Plenty of people make their money and keep it, as this thread brings up repeatedly. Only a few choose to give away as much as he is. What's more, I think more good has been done because of the centralization of the B&M Gates Found. then would be done by a comparable amount of money given out by 100 other people.

Yes, I hate Microsoft, and his policies and the monopoly and everything else, but I actually think that we've got plenty going on in computers. People who choose to spend money on MSFT at this point are making a very informed choice that they need not make. I just can't care that much about the tech industry in comparison to the amount of good his money is doing.
posted by OmieWise at 1:37 PM on April 27, 2005


dios, we'll still have to give away a third of what we make, on average to keep revenue the same. The system will just be different, and it will favor the wealthy. It likely will discourage consumption in favor of savings. That would slow the economy a bit, at least in the short run.
posted by caddis at 2:13 PM on April 27, 2005


slapshot57: black rappers get rich by selling to what demographic? White suburban youth?

White people buy more rap than blacks. White people buy more rims than blacks. You seem to think blacks make up 100% of these markets. And you seem to think they're retards for making these purchases.

And you're calling someone ELSE racist?
posted by b_thinky at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2005


b_thinky, just ignore the BS racist allegations. It's just an attempt to demonize me so that the user can then dismiss my opinions and not deal with any contrary viewpoints. It's pointless to argue the point. The user has already concluded what they want to about me, and he isn't going to be fair or respectful to me. So, though you are correct, just don't argue the point.
posted by dios at 2:39 PM on April 27, 2005


Anyone who proposes a national seals tax is totally insane.

I agree. Why not just club them?
posted by nyterrant at 2:42 PM on April 27, 2005


It is quite obviously IN PLACE of the income tax, not in addition to the income tax. With all the money one gets to keep, it makes it more likely that one will go out and buy something with it.

Yes, I understand there would be no income tax, trust me, I understand that you are not arguing for greater taxation. However, my money isn't being saved, they've just transferred the source of revenue. For people like me who aren't, and for those who are paying only marginal amounts in the first place THEY GET TAXED MORE. Everything that we buy is now more expensive, and that means we have less money. It's basic math. Whereas prices were x, and I didn't pay income tax, paid payroll tax, and got an EITC. Now, I still don't pay income tax, (oh boy,) don't get an EITC, still pay payroll tax, and now everything costs more, and since the bulk of my income goes to essentials, then yes, I am getting taxed more. I still don't get to keep my money, in fact, I get to keep less. For someone getting taxed at a marginal rate, this still applies. Yay! They don't have to pony up in April! But now, the price of everything has gone up at least 8%. If you think that just by getting rid of income tax, people magically keep their money because you handwave the effects of sales tax away, then you're an idiot. If my basic necessities of life cost more, I won't be buying extra stuff. Ergo, consumption goes down. Not only that, making 80% of my income is being taxed. Someone can make 10 times as much as me, spend twice what I'm spending, and still be taxed less. That's fair?

Not only that, you said in your first post that the poor waste their money on buying crap, and this would cause them to act more frugally. Now you say it won't? Qut changing you're rationles for this.

To your second point: Want to talk about food stamps? Food stamps are opt in, and there is a high level of cheating going on, because they are easy to cheat, but there is means testing, and they generally only apply to one category of goods, namely, food, and is not generally limited by particular products, but by merchant categories, IIRC. Now, we can get rid of the whole means testing thing, but now we have to set it up for every taxpayer in the country, and broaden it's bailiwick to include thousands more items and products at least, and have a much more fuzzy system of what constitutes a necessity then what constitutes food, and then realize we created a system already known to be easy to cheat to nearly the whole populace. I think this can only create more government inefficiency and meddling and will not actually save anyone money.

Oh, and about the income tax cooling the economy? Didn't seem that way in the 1950's, when income taxes were much higher then they are now. Plenty of growth then. Yes, there were dozens of other factors, but it's not the damper you protray it as.
posted by Snyder at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2005


Zaogao! I saw the "seals tax" on preview, went for lunch, and forgot all about it. I'm still opposed to a seals tax though, I think it unjustly penalizes Chordate-Americans.
posted by Snyder at 3:10 PM on April 27, 2005


Oh, and how did the spellcheck (or more likely, me,) miss Qut?
posted by Snyder at 3:13 PM on April 27, 2005


> Let's make it about bashing people with cars, big screen tvs, a giant pickup truck,
> taking the clan out to Disney World, diamond-capped teeth, expensive sneakers
> and various other bling-bling wasteful things instead.

Add big butts and bad teeth and that's the American lower class you just described. See 'em buying big-screen TVs at Walmart all the time. And now they're going to have to pay for all that shit they bought on their credit cards instead of going bankrupt. It's dinnertime, justice is served.
posted by jfuller at 4:01 PM on April 27, 2005


Add big butts and bad teeth and that's the American lower class you just described. See 'em buying big-screen TVs at Walmart all the time. And now they're going to have to pay for all that shit they bought on their credit cards instead of going bankrupt. It's dinnertime, justice is served.

Along with the majority of bankruptcies resulting from medical costs. Have some sweet, sweet justice, sick people and sick people's relatives! Maybe you should of thought about the consequences of your actions before you went and got a debilitating illness, you stupid, selfish poor people!
posted by Snyder at 4:35 PM on April 27, 2005


Wait, so now it's the conservatives that're all for smiting the fat people at Wal-Mart? Kinda confused.
posted by furiousthought at 4:43 PM on April 27, 2005


b_thinky,

white people also buy a shitload more fried chicken and watermelon then black people. But you start making cracks about how poor people are going to spend all their money on fried chicken, watermelon and bling-bling and you got some first class racism. Does that clear things up for you? Minorities can go shop at abercrombie and fitch but if you start trashing it you're still making fun of whitie

and dios, there are many more reasons to be dismissive of you then the fact that when you think lazy poor people wasting their money you think of certain traits.
posted by slapshot57 at 4:49 PM on April 27, 2005


furiousthought,
I think conservatives have always been pro-smite, they just don't advertise it when they smite their base.

jfuller,
How about if instead of overturning the very workable bankruptcy system we have now, we don't enact legislation that attempts to protect overzealous credit companies from extending credit to people who are bad risks.

I have on occasion lived under crushing debt load, brought on by both job loss, and health issues. I can honestly say that if there were a situation where I couldn't declare bankruptcy in a default situation, then my only option would be to take up panhandling, and contribute zero to the economy for the rest of my life. If instead, I could declare bankruptcy, and get out from under the debt load, I might be able to contribute far more to the economy over the course of my life than the amount of the defaulted loans.

By all means, lets focus on punishment instead of efficiency.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:10 PM on April 27, 2005


Snyder said:

"Oh, and about the income tax cooling the economy? Didn't seem that way in the 1950's, when income taxes were much higher then they are now. Plenty of growth then. Yes, there were dozens of other factors, but it's not the damper you protray it as."

Not trying to pick a fight, but I did some searching and I don't see it that way. The % of tax paid on personal income for the nation as a whole was higher back then (single digits vs. double digits). See:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/02in08pa.xls

The change has been that the amount of income subject to tax has increased dramatically from about 36% to over 50% about 3 years ago (in 2002 is was 49%). See:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/02in08pa.xls

In any event, there will never be an ideal taxing point. Those who make more money will be asked to pay more, or we can all pay more through inflation as the government will need to print more money than it recieves to pay for its spending. However, at some point, I think you can tax too much, and we are getting pretty darn close in my book. I would rather see fewer government "services."
posted by Capt. Bligh at 7:20 AM on April 28, 2005


Capt. Bligh: I'm not quite certain I entirely understand, but I think I have a concept...that what was considered taxable income has increased since the 1950's, so the percentage taxed went down. Do I have it right? If so, that's an interesting point, and something I did not know. I'm just not sure how that works. What kind of income was exempted then that is not now?
posted by Snyder at 2:30 PM on April 29, 2005


« Older Diagram...  |  Free stream of Nine Inch Nail'... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments