Obama Against Extending Bush Tax Cuts on Top Earners (Producers?)

Via HotAir's AllahPundit comes news that President Barack Obama has ruled out extending "the Bush tax cuts" on individuals making over $200,000 and households pulling down over $250,000. I suppose that it also means that Obama is ready to goose the estate tax from its current historic low of 0 percent up to 55 percent on estates worth more than $1 million after all exclusions. AllahPundit notes that former Obama economic advisor Peter Orzag has come out in favor of extending the cuts, which "favor" the wealthiest Americans who just happen to be the most likely to spend money, create jobs, etc.

The NY Times reports:

It is not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his own diminished popularity, the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his party. But by proposing to extend the rates for the 98 percent of households with income below $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals — and insisting that federal income tax rates in 2011 go back to their pre-2001 levels for income above those cutoffs — he intends to cast the issue as a choice between supporting the middle class or giving breaks to the wealthy.

In a speech in Cleveland on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will also make a case for the package of roughly $180 billion in expanded business tax cuts and infrastructure spending disclosed by the White House in bits and pieces over the past few days. He would offset the cost by closing other tax breaks for multinational corporations, oil and gas companies and others.

If taxes for the top tiers go back to their pre-2001 levels, the second-highest rate would jump from 33 percent to 35 percent and the highest rate would go from 36 percent to 39.6 percent. All told, reverting back to the old rates would generate an estimated $70 billion a year while expenditures will be around $3.5 trillion. To put that amount in more perspective, there's over $160 billion in transportation stimulus funds that have yet to be spent. Who do you think would spend the money more efficiently? Bureaucrats pouring concrete or folks who were smart enough or lucky enough to be in the top 2 percent of income earners?

I am no fan of the "rich" (even as I aspire to join their ranks). But this sort of tactic - raising token taxes on the wealthy while coming up with a hodgepodge of sure to be temporary and confusing breaks and funds for "businesses" and "infrastructure" - is exactly the problem. Those sorts of programs create uncertainty that ultimately freezes economic activity. Far better to keep tax rates - and business handouts - simple and stable than to constantly think you can squeeze on this part of the balloon now and this other part later. Obama displays the mentality of someone who thinks he can manage every aspect of every activity, whether it's car manufacturing, housing prices, or credit card fees. The smarter move is to simply create a basic structure and then let people have at it, knowing that the rules are fixed for the forseeable future.

Bonus discussion: The argument for increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans is often buttressed by the fact that Bill Clinton's tax hikes in 1993 didn't sink economic growth (indeed, the rates that would kick in if the Bush tax cuts are repealed would be the ones imposed by Clinton). It's true that wealthy folks didn't go Galt and disappear in the wake of the tax hikes. But the parallels aren't particularly strong. By 1993, the economy was well into recovery and had been expanding for a couple of years. As important, Clinton was actually cutting discretionary spending in real terms (by over 8 percent in his first four years in office). Anybody who thinks that hiking taxes is the same as back then is off his rocker.

For a full discussion of the Clinton 1993 tax hikes (and 1997 tax cuts, which definitely helped goose the economy), go here.

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  • ||

    Caption Contest!

    "Tax hikes and tax cuts - it's black and white!"

  • hmm||

    "Could ya get your hand off my ass Bill?"

  • DADIODADDY||

    actually his hand is up his ass...I always thought Barry was Billies meat puppet...

  • JOhnny MAckson||

    "Do it for the lulz.". LOL

    Jess

    www.anon-yes-please.com

  • ||

    "Please don't fuck my wife."

    "I make no promises."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I guess if you don't take "fuck" literally, that could go either way.

  • Warty||

    It depends on what the meaning of "my" is.

  • Tony||

    Just let's not bitch about the deficit, then.

  • Tony||

    ...unless Republicans regain the majority, in which case we'll do the bitching about the deficit.

    Because it's okay when we do it.

  • Tony||

    Well Republicans have the luxury of living in a world where revenue and deficits are completely unrelated, and therefore they are free to bitch if either goes up.

  • Tony||

    ...but, again, it's only okay when WE do the bitching.

  • Tony||

    We are not quote so cynical and disingenuous about fiscal matters.

  • Tony||

    ...that is, if we aren't in power. If we lose the majority, we'll be cynical and disingenuous as fuck.

  • Pauly Krugnuts||

    You have learned well from my teachings, Tony.

  • Max||

    ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    We are not quote so cynical and disingenuous about fiscal matters.

    I just about puked when I read that.

    You're so fucking delusional you can't even see your own hypocrisy. You actually believe that? That the Dems are more fiscally responsible than the Reps?

    And for the sake of clarity, let me emphasize that I am not arguing that the Reps are more fiscally responsible than the Dems - they might be, but if so, only by a very slight measure. But there is no fucking way a rational, thinking human being could look at what the Dems have been doing and defend it as anything resembling sensible, reasonable and responsible management of the government fisc.

    Also, fuck you, dipshit.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's all about feelings!

    You're supposed to feel good when taxes are raised on those who have more than you.
    It doesn't matter that the money belongs to them, or that their uncertainty keeps them from giving you a job, or that their not spending money hurts the economy.
    Forget those things.
    It feels good to stick it to the rich.
    As far as deficits go, the Republicans did it first.
    Because they did it first it feels good for the other party to run deficits.

    Do not be fooled by logic or reason.

    Regress to the state of a wild animal that only knows instinct and emotion.

    Then you will know what it means to be progressive.

  • Tony||

    That the Dems are more fiscally responsible than the Reps?

    Uh, yes. Tax and spend rather than borrow and spend. Unless of course they're busy cleaning up a Republican fiscal catastrophe.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You've bought their bullshit hook, line and sinker.

    What taxes are they spending with the incredibly massive, historically unprecedented increase in the DEFICIT?

    Or haven't you been paying attention.

    They have yet to show, with REAL numbers, how the government really is gonig to pay for everything they have enacted in the last two years.

    You're living in a fantasy world where everything the Republicans do is false, evil and ineffective and everything the Democrats do is true, good and right.

    You're a fool if you actually believe what you're typing.

  • Tony||

    This is the disingenuous bullshit I'm talking about. "The last two years." Bush's wars, healthcare law, and tax cuts not only vastly outweigh Obama's stimulus spending, they were all completely useless!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Yeah. The terminally demotarded are never disingenuous about budget matters at all.

    Take your "democrats always do what's right thing" meme somewhere the fuck else.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    We are not quote so cynical and disingenuous about fiscal matters

    Where's barfman? His services are needed.

  • ||

    Right, because raising taxes is the only way to attack the deficit.

  • Tony||

    Considering the Bush tax cuts are one of the largest contributors to the current deficit, I'd say they're relevant.

    But taxes could go to zero and you'd still be arguing for cutting spending rather than raising taxes. None of you have any credibility because none of you are ever for raising revenue, ever.

  • Tony||

    ...because the ONLY way to solve ANY problem is to raise taxes.

  • ||

    taxes could go to zero and you'd still be arguing for cutting spending

    It's very easy to cut taxes. Many presidents have done so with popular support. It takes balls to cut spending and we have yet to have a leader that has done it in a meaningful way.

    Leave the tax code the way it is. Let's see someone actually cut spending. I'm beginning to think that it simply cannot be done by the republicrats.

  • ||

    The only way to cut back on heroin usage is for a junkie to have constant access to all the heroin they want.

  • ||

    No withdrawl symptoms that way.

  • ||

    ACK! "Withdrawal"!

  • Tony||

    Because tax policy from 2001 that didn't pay for tax cuts is the best possible fiscal situation?

    This is a game. What takes the most balls is raising taxes, because fiscal terrorists on the right have made it virtually politically impossible. But this is pointless because you guys will never consider raising them, ever. Nope, can't burden the wealthiest 2% with the second-lowest rates in history, we must cut social programs for the poor, it's the only way! Nothing disingenuous about that at all...

  • hmm||

    Fiscal terrorists?

    Jesus christ that is some awesome hyperbole.

  • sarcasmic||

    Considering the Bush tax cuts are one of the largest contributors to the current deficit

    That is a false argument.
    Lowering taxes does not cause deficits.
    Lowering taxes allows people to keep what rightfully belongs to them.
    Deficits are caused by the government spending more than it confiscates.

    To say that lowering taxes raises deficits is to say that that which was not taxed belongs to the government which was nice enough to give it back.

    Totally false argument.

  • Tony||

    Oh blah blah blah. When you can't win an argument on numbers you resort to lame libertarian ethics. Actually, that money at one time was in the treasury, meaning it was the government's (by extension, the people's). It didn't belong to the rich. Bush just gave it to them and didn't cut anything to make up the loss. What do you propose to do about that?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    It was in the Treasury - but where did the Treasury get it from?

  • John Houseman||

    We make money the old-fashioned way: we mint it.

  • hmm||

    Cut things to make up the loss?

  • sarcasmic||

    meaning it was the government's (by extension, the people's)

    Spoken like a true socialist.

  • Tony||

    Better than an apologist for plutocrats whose ranks he will never join.

  • CJ||

    whose ranks he will never join.

    Having no self-interest makes a position stronger, not weaker.

  • Tony||

    Not when it's a bad argument hand-delivered to you by people who do have a self-interest in it.

  • Jerry||

    You mongrel. The point is that the deficit would increase more next year by enacting the Obama infrastructure plan than by extending the the Bush tax cuts.

  • Cricket||

    chirp

  • Your President||

    Hey, it has to be done. There is no other way. And besides, rich people have enough money, no matter how much money they have. And I get to decide how much is "enough".

  • ||

    "Hey, your cigar is digging into my hip."

  • Max||

    There's no difference between making a quarter-million a year and Bill Gates! They're ALL evil! Suck Ron Pual's cock!

  • shrike||

    You tell those Christfags!

  • Chad||

    You get what you deserve, capitalists. Suck it up. And quit bitching - you're lucky the taxes aren't going up as high as I want them to be.

  • Your President||

    Chad, you have no idea how much your postings please Me.

  • chad||

    Weeee! Weeeeee!! Wheeeeeeee!!!

  • ||

    That was pretty funny, fake chad.

  • Chad||

    I have over 9000 penises, and they're all raping your bank account.

  • ||

    We can do the two things that lefties always want (let the tax cut expire and cut military spending) and not put much of a dent in the deficit.

    If we decide that need to spend only as much as the #2 nation in defense (rather than the entire rest of the world combined), we'd be looking at a ~80% cut in military spending. We can do that, plus let the tax cuts expire on the top 2%, and it will only account for 45% of the deficit. We would still need to cut at least $1 from domestic spending for each dollar gained against the deficit by these two hobby horses.

    Not saying that the left is wrong about their requests (although I'm sure you guys will argue (convincingly) that the tax hikes are a bad idea) but those requests are woefully incomplete if we're interested in reducing the deficit.

  • ||

    Obama displays the mentality of someone who thinks he can manage every aspect of every activity, whether it's car manufacturing, housing prices, or credit card fees.

    Any word on who's next on the White House tennis court?

    Eliminating "tax incentives" for private business entities to spend money in politically beneficial ways is anathema to the philosopher kings who currently rule us.

    It won't happen.

    Bring on the guillotine!

  • ||

    Considering the Bush tax cuts are one of the largest contributors to the current deficit

    Dumber

    and

    dumber

    and

    dumber...

  • Daze||

    What's so bad about the inheritance tax? If we have to tax something, why not dead people? Makes more sense than income tax or property tax or sales tax or business tax.

    That's a serious question. Some libertarians seem to consider inheritance tax to be especially heinous; to me, it seems less awful than other types of tax.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Because those property-owners paid taxes all their lives, for one thing.

    Besides, wouldn't it be more "fair" to tax ALL property upon death? Using your logic, it would have to be thus. Why let anyone off the hook when they go toes-up?

  • ||

    I'm personally repulsed by the vision of the tax collector picking through the belongings of dead people.

    Plus, what incentive is there to leave anything to your children (or whomever) knowing that the state will tax the crap out of it?

  • ||

    If I had to choose between the tax collector picking through the belongings of living people at gun point and dead people, I would obviously choose the latter.

    Does your objection have rational basis or is just aesthetic?

  • ||

    I suppose if it were only those two choices you'd have a point. There's another possibility which is that the belongings remain with the party that was intended to receive it and let it stimulate the economy that way. It's not like Paris Hilton is keeping cash in a mattress, after all.

    There's also the remote possibility that the state might cut their spending so they don't have to rifle throught peoples' belongings be they alive or dead.

  • ||

    I agree, but we have taxes, and we are going to have taxes.

    The third possibility you are offering simply isn't going to happen, as much as we all may wish.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure it has to do with the lack of economic activity. You're not taxing wealth generation (as you do with excise taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, and virtually every other tax used by the US), you're taxing wealth transfer.

    It's not that it's inherently wrong, it's that it doesn't harmonize with everything else that we tax (and thus can lead to double-taxation.)

  • Mo||

    The taxes aren't on the assets, but on the assets changing hands. If I gift over $13K to someone, I'm taxed on it. Why should I be incented to be dead to gift money?

  • ||

    Double taxation? Perish the thought!

    Let's say you buy a $1 candy bar at a convenience store. First the state takes sales tax off the top, so you're really paying $1.07.

    Then the store uses some of the remaining dollar to pay the clerk who sold it to you, and to pay the payroll taxes on that employee. The clerk then pays income tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, etc on the money they get from the store, and the store owner itself pays either personal or corporate income tax.

    The store also uses most of the dollar for the candy bar to pay the distributor they got it from. The distributor pays its truck driver and warehouse staff with that money, plus payroll taxes. And all of them pay income tax and the other taxes the clerk paid on their wages, and the distributor pays income tax too.

    Finally, the distributor pays the manufacturer, which is subject to all the same taxes as the distributor above.

    So forgive me for being a bit cynical about the estate tax destroying the purity and logical consistency of our tax system.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    All of which was folded in the candy bar's cost at the point-of-sale. On the other hand, everything in the estate has been paid for, tax included, at sale.

  • ||

    That's circular poppycock. If the estate tax wasn't paid already, then obviously all taxes were NOT included at point of sale.

    I'll take this as an acknowledgement that your double taxation argument was invalid.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You are the one being circular. You either believe that at some point you own property, free and clear, or you do not. Not my issue if you don't.

  • ||

    So what? That you own the property does not suddenly make it immune to taxation.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    All of that property has already been taxed, paid for by owner "A". Your argument is that we should tax that same property again, at a much higher rate, because owner "A" died and left it to owner "B"?

    That's horseshit.

  • ||

    What possible rationalization is there for "taxing dead people", Haley Daze Osment? Please explain why someone who has been taxed their whole lives should be taxed again at a higher rate because they wanted to leave something to their families/loved ones/whatever?

  • ||

    Because dead folks don't make very strong moral claims.

  • ||

    So what you're saying is that you're a necrophiliac rapist. Got it.

  • ||

    What I am saying is that the moral rules for treating living people don't universally apply to the moral rules for treating dead people.

  • ||

    Right, so your raping of corpses is fine because the moral rules for treating rape of the living don't apply for rape of the dead. I totally get what you're saying, dude. Don't worry (wink wink), I'm totally on board.

  • ||

    Saying that the moral rules we apply to the treatment of living people do not apply to dead people does not imply that no rules exist for treatment of dead people.

  • cynical||

    But it's the living heirs who are losing out.

  • ||

    I think the point is that we would rather have heirs lose out than workers.

  • ||

    It's not just those outcomes, though.

  • MNG||

    Epi
    I've never seen it as a tax on dead people, after all the dead don't pay the tax. Their estate pays the tax on its way to the heirs, it's the heirs that pay the tax. That being the case I find it one of the more deserving taxes around, though I imagine we disagree on that.

  • ||

    Please explain, then, why it is reasonable--at all--to tax something that has already been taxed in several ways, just because its ownership is being transferred because of death?

  • MNG||

    My argument would have something to do with how someone who is bequeathed wealth deserves it less than someone who has earned it. If the choice is to take wealth via taxes from the latter or the former, the latter is preferrable.

  • ||

    That's a pretty astonishing amount of hubris, in saying that you get to decide who "deserves" what. There are so many assumptions in just that statement alone, you might want to step back and reconsider it.

  • MNG||

    Epi
    Aren't you making the same assumption (you assume the dead person or the heirs "deserve" it)? Granted your assumption has more of a following in the Western tradition :)

  • MNG||

    It strikes me the only thing that makes the heir "deserve" it is that the dead guy wants it to go to him. I could just as easily say that what people deserve is a function of need rather than dead people's wishes or possession...

  • ||

    I'm making zero assumptions, merely having the money be transferred as the owner of it wished (as expressed in their will). My choice of course of action makes no assumptions and does not make any attempt to assume worthiness, who deserves what, etc.

    Yours does. That's the big difference.

  • MNG||

    Epi
    I respectfully submit you make the assumption that people deserve anything given to them by another, as you object to policy that intervenes and distrupts that.

    I acknowledge that assumption is pretty standard, but assumption it remains.

    My point has more to do with the relative fairness of taxing living people's incomes vs. dead folks estates though.

  • Sigh||

    I'm making zero assumptions

    You probably believe that.

  • ||

    See the candy bar example above.

  • ||

    It can be viewed as a fee for the state's enforcement of the will of the dead person. Banks and such aren't going to hand over a dead person's assets to heirs unless compelled by the state.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You already paid that fee, many times, on that piece of property, when you are alive, as you are quick to point out.

  • ||

    Wait, so when I paid for that candy bar when I was 10 years old, I was paying a fee for the state to enforce my will?

  • robc||

    yes.

  • ||

    That's a raw deal, no? I mean, if I decide to blow all my assets on hookers and blow the night before I die, I pay the same fee as someone who leaves behind a billion dollar estate to sort out?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Yes. You own the candy bar. If someone stole it, you would (ideally) expect the state to at least expend some effort getting it back. Furthermore, if you give it away via contract, you would rightfully expect the state to enforce that contract.

  • ||

    A will isn't a contract.

    And of course, property taxes militate against the argument you make.

  • ||

    You need some sort of consideration exchanged by both parties to have a contract. If you just give something away with nothing required in return, that's not a contract; there is nothing to enforce.

  • ♥♥♥||

    Because the idea of wealth through inheritance rather than wealth through merit leads to people like Paris Hilton and a kind of pseudo royalty in America.

  • ||

    Because the idea of wealth through inheritance rather than wealth through merit leads to people like Paris Hilton and a kind of pseudo royalty in America class envy.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You're not taxing "dead people"; you're taxing their living heirs and beneficiaries.

    It is especially heinous - by what legitimate government power does the government get to tax the fact that you died and transferred title or possession of some stuff to someone else?

    Particularly when you paid tax on the income that you used to acquire that stuff during life, paid tax on the interest earned on that money, paid various taxes and fees when you acquired the property, paid tax on the property while you owned it, and on and on.

    At a certain point, the stuff you acquire during your life is YOURS, part of which means you get to say who gets it when you're done with it. The government sees "I leave my 1998 Buick to my son, John" as an opportunity to grab yet a few more dollars from the dead guy's hide.

    I have personally known more than one family farm that the family could not afford to keep because they could not afford to pay the estate tax without selling the real estate. The real value of the estate was in the land, which had been in the family for 5 generations. Nobody had millions in cash lying around - they had millions in market value of real property. To generate the cash needed to pay the nearly 50% estate tax, they had to sell off half the farm.

    That violates the fundamental principle that the primary purpose of government is to protect individual rights - notable among those rights are property rights.

  • ||

    What is the moral claim of the beneficiary upon the property?

    The moral claim on inheritance is made by the benefactor, so yes, you are taxing the dead person.

    So at this point I ask, what property rights do dead people possess?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Being circular, are you not? If dead people have no rights, then they have no rights to bestow property. But if they have property to bestow, then they have the right to dispose of that property, even upon death.

  • ||

    Or he's arguing for a 100% estate tax. Anything you own is forfeit when you die. Can't have property rights when your dead and you can't direct your property after death (because your wishes mean nothing when you aren't there to enforce them.)

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    The sick thing is how many people actually believe that to be the preferred public policy.

    In fact, my Trusts and Estates perfesser in law school started out the class on day one with a discussion of this whole underlying notion - why do we even let people say who gets their stuff after they die? I recall her saying, "You had it while you were alive, you're dead, you don't need it anymore, let someone else have it who needs it. It should go to the government, where it can be shared for the greater good."

    I got the distinct impression she was not speaking in the abstract, but more as an advocate.

    I know, shocking to think that a law perfesser might be a progressive socialist...

  • ||

    The only thing wrong with the 100% estate tax position is that it's not clear why the govt is entitled to the assets any more than anyone else.

    Personally, I think inheritance is a ridiculous and outdated convention completely at odds with the society we live in today. It is also not justifiable under libertarian principles as much as some would like to gloss over that fact.

    Dead people's assets should be treated like other unowned resources like oil and gold in the ground -- whoever finds it and extracts it owns it.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Dead people's assets should be treated like other unowned resources like oil and gold in the ground -- whoever finds it and extracts it owns it.

    This is the single most retarded and oblivious thing I’ve ever read on this blog.

  • ||

    So retarted and oblivious you can't even come up with a rational argument against it, apparently.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    It is also not justifiable under libertarian principles as much as some would like to gloss over that fact.

    Dead people's assets should be treated like other unowned resources like oil and gold in the ground -- whoever finds it and extracts it owns it.

    You obviously once again have "libertarian" confused with "anarchist."

  • ||

    How so? Libertarians don't believe that unowned resources belong to the person who finds them or the owner of the property they're found on?

    And keep in mind, if the real estate upon which the property is found was owned by the dead person at death, it itself is unowned, so it's finders keepers just like panning for gold in the American River.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    My first question is "what is greater?" immediately followed by "what is good?" immediately followed by "who the fuck gets to make that decision?".

    I love how the "greater good" always stands for give it to the poor. Why is it that observing property rights is not in the interest of the greater good?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Or he's arguing for a 100% estate tax.

    Which is really just an incentive to give it all away or blow it on coke and whores at the end of your life.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    A 100% estate tax would essentially put estate planners out of work. We cannot allow that. Let's go with 90%. Give just enough wiggle room that the living will pay big bucks for that accountant who can find as much of that 10% as possible.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    The better question is by what legitimate power does the government get to take possession of anything the person owned in life?

    Using your language, what is the "moral claim" of the government or anyone other than the owner of the property?

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the notions of property rights, which have been developed over several centuries of English common law. Property rights are viewed as a "bundle of sticks" - Google it. Each stick in the bundle represents a particular right the property owner has in his property.

    One of the rights inherent in ownership of property is the right of "disposition" - i.e, the right to say who gets it. E.g., I own a car; I can choose to give it to you, give it to my daughter, or donate it charity. I get to say who gets it. Why? Because it's mine.

    The decedent stated who he wants to get his stuff. He is exercising the long-understood and long-established right of a property owner to decide who gets his property.

    By identifying a beneficiary and a specific time at which the person is to take title or possession of the property, he has created a beneficial interest in the property, that the beneficiary often can enforce in court.

    The tax must be paid out of the estate, meaning that those who otherwise would benefit from the estate get less - so yes you are taxing the heirs and benefactors. Which is why there are certain exemptions, such as certain contributions to charitable entities and spouses. Just so that the government can try to look like it's not ripping those people off too badly.

  • MNG||

    "The better question is by what legitimate power does the government get to take possession of anything the person owned in life?"

    Well, of course this is really the rub.

    If there must be taxes I would argue that taxes falling on "unearned wealth" are the lesser of evils.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    It was already earned and taxed once! By this logic, charitable donations should be taxed at a higher rate - after all, that's "unearned wealth" too, right?

  • MNG||

    Taxes are used both to raise revenue and to provide incentives for things thought socially desirable. We might find a charity getting money more socially desirable than an heir getting a windfall.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Taxes are used both to raise revenue and to provide incentives for things thought socially desirable.

    Stop. You are begging the question. When you start socially engineering the tax code, I can just counter that "I find that a family farmer keeping his land is more socially desirable than charity".

    I would rather have more rich people than more charity.

  • MNG||

    This is why we have consent of the goverened decided by majority vote TAO.

    But sure you could say family farmer protection (a small % of those to whom the estate tax applies iirc) is more socially desirable. You'd be wrong of course...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    This is why we have consent of the goverened decided by majority vote TAO.

    Like I said, I won't hold my breath waiting on you to kill yourself for the benefit of five needy organ donors.

  • MNG||

    Haha, boy you love that example!

    Might I point out the fallacy inherent in trying to refute a moral theory by claiming that the one asserting it doesn't live up to it?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Might I point out the fallacy inherent in trying to refute a moral theory by claiming that the one asserting it doesn't live up to it?

    Sure, go ahead. But if a pudding salesman absolutely refuses to eat his own product, then what does that say about the pudding and the salesman?

  • MNG||

    The idea that charities are socially desirable while rich heirs are less so probably is intertwined with the idea that the former are more deserving of gifts I should think. But either could provide a moral justification for the difference in estate and charity taxation.

  • ||

    TAO, it's been taxed far more than once. This hubbub about "double taxation" is like defending the honor of an old whore because someone says she screwed 1475 guys in her career instead of 1474.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    No, Tulpa, it is not. To use your candy bar example above, you are saying that my gift of a candy bar, where I already paid the tax (because all of the costs of production were folded into the bar's price at the counter) should be taxed again.

    Put it to you this way: if I buy an antique mirror, I pay all of the taxes at the time of the sale. When it is given away at my death, you are taxing it again. The consumer ultimately pays the entirety of tax on most items when they buy them at the store...except for the estate tax.

  • ||

    You didn't pay all the tax on it yet, since you didn't pay the inheritance tax.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Circular Cat is Circular.

  • ||

    I know. Do you?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Knock it off. How would you like if it ten years later the government came to your door and said "Hey, it's time for your Ten Year Sales Tax. What, you thought you paid then when you bought it? Pshaw!"

    Tell me this, Tulpa - suppose someone steals my mirror. Should I have to pay estate tax on it when I die? I mean, shit, my accounts with the government are unsettled. It isn't their fault the mirror was stolen!

  • ||

    The ten year sales tax is exactly what they do with property taxes already. You may not like it but it's part of the existing system.

    And you don't have to pay estate taxes on objects that are stolen since they aren't being transferred by your will.

  • ||

    The decedent had the moral right to control the disposition of his property up through the moment of his death. A will effects a transfer of title at that moment.

    The moral claim of the beneficiary on the property is precisely the same as if the benefactor was still alive, and transferred title as an inter vivos gift.

  • cynical||

    "What is the moral claim of the beneficiary upon the property?"

    Contractual obligation.

    Next question.

  • ||

    No. Wills are not contracts.

  • ||

    Libertarians consider it heinous because it is heinous. As others have noted, the wealth in the estate was taxed when it was first earned, then taxed if it generated any income, then taxed just to keep owning it, and now that the owner has keeled over the government wants to tax it yet again.

  • hmm||

    Small business...

  • robc||

    If we had a Single Land Tax, it wouldnt matter if the owner were alive or dead.

  • ||

    Why the "(Producers?)"? Libertarians would do well to consistently point to the general unproductivity of the rich. The latest catastrophe involving financial markets, and the inability of anyone to conclusively show how these financiers were more productive than destructive with their financial innovations.

    Libertarians have a wonderful opportunity to display priorities here consistent with the desires of the vast majority of the population: attacking the parasitical rich and the government programs that enable them.

    While I know that taxation turns economic activity away from production and towards tax evasion, and therefore parasites will be harmed less than the truly productive, a 3% increase in the top marginal tax rate really, really shouldn't rank high on the priority list.

    Furthermore, associating policy recommendations with sympathy for the wealthy is incredibly counter productive, and I really doubt it is all that sound libertarianism.

    (Unless, of course, we have reached an anarchistic economy, but that hasn't happened yet)

  • ||

    Ohh, class war! Not bad. Can you do more?

  • ||

    He's got a point. This is one of those issues (along with the cop vs. KFC thread some time ago) where libertarians display a reflex of supporting the position that benefits the rich and/or big corporations, even when that position is not justifiable from libertarian first principles.

    It doesn't help that the original poster assumes the wealthy are better at spending money than the plebes.

  • ||

    Libertarians would do well to consistently point to the general unproductivity of the rich.

    I know, right? Especially how they provide venture capital to new businesses, hire people to make them more money, and on and on. How frickin' lazy.

    Also, DRINK!

  • ||

    sage,

    You want me to praise the wealthy for behaving in their own self-interest? I have no problem with one behaving in his self-interest, but I will not praise them.

    They provide venture capital and hire people precisely because they are able to and will make money off of it.

    That is neither deserving of praise or blame.

    The key is to make sure that they are not entrenched in their role as the possessors of venture capital and employers, and as far as I can tell, government does everything it can to ensure that they are entrenched.

    That is what libertarians should focus on.

  • ||

    I love concern trolls.

  • ||

    Better than dense folks who have nothing to contribute.

  • ||

    You're going off-message. Come on, focus!

  • ||

    Yep. That's me. Mr. Dense. Duuh. Durr.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You call this contributing?

  • MNG||

    I think its appropriate to point out that certainly not all top earners=top producers.

    Hell, if only for all the rent seeking yada yada you guys acknowledge.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I think its appropriate to point out that certainly not all top earners=top producers.

    It is also important to point out when someone is attempting to stir naked populist class envy under the guise of "X", X = libertarianism, in this example.

    It is further important to note that the rich pay an astonishing amount of tax, and that the "rent seeking" is the exception, not the rule.

  • MNG||

    "and that the "rent seeking" is the exception"

    Citation needed, big time!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You are free to cite opposing evidence. Common sense pretty much dictates my result. I do not believe that even a sizable minority of the wealthy get more in benefits than they pay in taxes. It's a straightforward calculation. I sense a lot of equivocating, guesswork and dissembling for you to prove yours, however.

  • MNG||

    "Common sense pretty much dictates my result."

    Citation needed again! I submit that the view of the rich as less than deseving of their riches is probably much more "common" among the populace of the world and the US.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I submit that the view of the rich as less than deseving of their riches is probably much more "common" among the populace of the world and the US.

    Which probably proves me right. Most arguments like the rich are a result of class envy, just like even the most sophisticated arguments against immigration are drive by "fear of the darkies and their funny talk"

    Fine, then, Mr. Pedantic - not common sense. Just sense.

  • MNG||

    "arguments like the rich are a result of class envy"

    Law student one day, mass psychologist the next!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Law student one day, mass psychologist the next!

    Anything wrong with criticizing widely-held social beliefs? You do it all the time. Like I said, I am calling them like I see them.

  • ||

    Angry Optimist,

    Are you offended that I see liberal elitism in you?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Are you offended that I see liberal elitism in you?

    Smartest thing you have said all day.

  • hmm||

    Only among your circles.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Yes. Most people without shit envy those with shit. That you feel it appropriate to form an entire political system based solely around that envy is fucking disgusting.

  • ♥♥♥||

    He raises a few good points...

  • ||

    You want me to praise the wealthy for behaving in their own self-interest?

    Holy strawman, Battman. I don't care what you do with them, so long as you know that calling them "unproductive" is a dishonest arguement at best.

    And again, DRINK!

  • ||

    As I have said, I acknowledge the role they play within the economy, but that is unimportant.

    The important part is to make sure they do not have a monopoly on that role.

    There seems to be absolutely no discernable correlation between productivity and reward in the US at this point.

  • ||

    I acknowledge the role they play within the economy, but that is unimportant.

    Please compare this statement to your previous one:

    Libertarians would do well to consistently point to the general unproductivity of the rich.

    Those do not seem to compute.

  • ||

    I don't believe the wealthy are wealthy because of the role they play, I believe they play that role because they are wealthy.

    While there are benefits to accumulation of wealth, I see no intrinsic reason to believe that wealth would accumulate under the control of such a small portion of the population.

    If the role the wealthy play right now could be just as ably or better performed by the nonwealthy, there is no reason to call the wealthy productive.

  • ||

    I don't believe the wealthy are wealthy because of the role they play, I believe they play that role because they are wealthy

    Regardless, you agree that they play that role (producer).

    If the role the wealthy play right now could be just as ably or better performed by the nonwealthy,

    And if your uncle had tits he'd be your aunt. Your scenario is not possible any more than a human is capable of photosythesis.

  • ||

    Doing things is not productive on its own.

    I could make a toothpick out of an entire tree, but if I am only able to do so because government pays for the tree, I am not being productive.

    Productivity and waste are relative.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    A wise truck driver once told me the most important reason to protect the rich is because a poor man never gave someone a fucking job.

  • ||

    I like this reoccurring theme that, if the rich didn't have money, the money simply wouldn't exist.

  • sarcasmic||

    You make a fine argument against crony capitalism.

    There is a slight problem.

    Crony capitalism and free markets are not the same thing.

  • ||

    I am not attacking free markets.

    The problem is that the government has baked inequity into its policy.

    We have a collosal overbearing entity directing the economy of this nation, and at every point that they issue some direction, the wealthy will be there to enjoy the fruits at the expense of all else. This is how it works.

    Get rid of the constant regulatory meddling of government that consistently provides advantages for one group over another, and then worry about the basic structure of economic governance.

    The libertarian who thinks he can reform the regulatory practices of government while defending the economic class who has the most to gain from increased regulation and government moderation of the economy is a fool.

  • sarcasmic||

    Again you make a fine argument against crony capitalism.

    I do not know any libertarians who support crony capitalism.

    Perhaps your argument is that taxes should be raised on those who benefit from crony capitalism.

    That higher taxes are moral.

    I don't know any libertarians who support higher taxes on a moral basis.

  • ||

    I am a libertarian.

    I do not support higher taxes.

    I do support having a coherent plan for actually changing society. Consistently defending the people who benefit from government activity is a sure fire way to offer support to government.

  • sarcasmic||

    I do support having a coherent plan for actually changing society.

    Those are the words of a Marxist, not a libertarian.

    You are not a libertarian.

  • ||

    WHAT?!

    I suppose you think that government is just a bludgeoning force instituting itself on a hopeless and static society?

  • ||

    I mean, how many votes did Bob Barr or Ron Paul recieve in the presidential election?

    How libertarian do you think society is?

  • hmm||

    I do support having a coherent plan for actually changing society.

    Glad someone noticed that. LoL

    How about we don't change society, but let it do what society does while protecting individual liberties.

  • sarcasmic||

    How about we don't change society, but let it do what society does while protecting individual liberties.

    Those are the words of a libertarian.

  • ||

    I'll ask you then: why do we have an overbearing and intolerable government?

    Is society in not some way responsible, and if it is, isn't a chore of the libertarian to change it?

  • Joshua||

    Libertarian don't want you to change the fucking society. Libertarian explicitly wants you STOP trying to change society.

    Your focus seems to be on taxing rich entrenched fuckers. NO! dismantle the regulatory regime that entrenches them, and your fellow citizens will become entrepreneurs & unentrench them.

  • ||

    Do you not believe that the US is in need of a major shift in political opinions?

    If yes, how is this not a manner of changing society?

    And the crux of my argument has consistently been to stop worrying about tax rates on the wealthy and concentrate on the regulatory regime.

    By consistently defending the wealthy from government, libertarians are inadvertantly supporting the primary parties responsible for the current regulatory regime.

  • sarcasmic||

    Brad - I get it now.
    A real libertarian would oppose cutting taxes on the wealthy because the wealthy benefit from regulations.
    So until we agree with you that taxes on the wealthy should not be cut, we're not real libertarians.

    I believe that is called a false choice.

    Do you still beat your wife?

  • ||

    I never said anyone on here wasn't libertarian.

  • sarcasmic||

    The implication was there for anyone with a mind to see.

  • ||

    Yes, because defending myself from claims that I am not a libertarian is also a claim that all that disagree with me are not libertarians.

    Got it.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You want me to praise the wealthy for behaving in their own self-interest?

    Yes! I mean, why not? Certainly better than praising the "altruistic".

  • MNG||

    Because helping people is so morally bankrupt!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Helping people is fine; dedicating your life to others is the hallmark of a loser.

  • ||

    There is no greater moral scold than an Objectivist like TAO. Who the fuck are you to tell someone how they can live their life?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Who the fuck are you to tell someone how they can live their life?

    And who the fuck are you to tell me I cannot call people losers? Would you have any serious level of respect for a man who spent all of his time slaving for others? I wouldn't.

  • ||

    We're all going to die eventually, TAO. There is no way anything we do can provide a lasting benefit for ourselves, however much we might like to delude ourselves otherwise.

  • MNG||

    One big problem with Objectivism is that it seems to so quickly equate these two...See, they have to cede the former because Objectivist love their family and such, silly altruists that they are...They reconcile this by stretching self interest to include caring for others when that makes you happy.

    What if dedicating yourself to others makes you happier than any other course of action?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    What if dedicating yourself to others makes you happier than any other course of action?

    I would say someone like that is probably psychologically damaged. I call them like I see them.

  • MNG||

    It doesn't make you happy to do things for your loved ones? But think, every time you do you could have done something for yourself!

    Far from my morality being impossible for any normal human being to fulfill, it is yours.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You are deliberately talking about two different things entirely. So knock it off.

  • MNG||

    Of course not. Helping your loved ones and helping strangers both involves putting your self interest aside. If you want to enlarge the concept of self-interest to include the former, why when someone does the same with the latter would you think of them as damaged? Are'nt you just as damaged in the eyes of a "purer" self interested person?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Yes! And someone who eats 30 bowls of ice cream a week is the same as someone who eats one a week!

  • MNG||

    Ah, so there is some magic cut off number.

    "The right act is that which is in one's self interest, with self-interest acts to include the exact number oacts for loved one's that I, TAO, act contrary to my self interest toward at times."

    That's some moral theory you have there TAO, Mama Rand would be so proud!

  • ||

    Then why the fuck do you support inheritance in the first place? Shouldn't a psychologically healthy person sell all their assets and spend all their money before they die rather than bequeath it to other people?

  • MNG||

    +1

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Shouldn't a psychologically healthy person sell all their assets and spend all their money before they die rather than bequeath it to other people?

    You really do not see the difference between a final act of benevolence toward your lifelong loved ones and trying to scrabble out some self-esteem slaving over the needs of others?

    Like I said, two different things.

  • MNG||

    At what number of people does benevelonce toward them become "slaving" TAO? I just want to know so I can avoid the latter.

  • MNG||

    You can't blame TAO, Rand was famous for this. Saying you should help others meant for her that we should sacrifice ourselves totally in the service of others. Of course she would not take her own assertion that we should act in our self interest to its extreme, there she of course included caring for loved ones and such.

    Cake and eat it too, yummy!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    That would depend. If you can help millions without sacrificing yourself, OK. Helping one person, in context, can be one too many. I am sure that you live your life this way as it is, so why ask me?

  • ||

    You really do not see the difference between a final act of benevolence toward your lifelong loved ones and trying to scrabble out some self-esteem slaving over the needs of others?

    They both involve living your life (or at least part of it) in the service of others, which you have already categorized as "the hallmark of a loser".

    Now, I can differentiate between the two things you mention. I also can differentiate the pathetic attempt to ingratiate oneself to others from serving others because you believe it is the right thing to do, a distinction you failed to make in your characterization of altruists as losers, in compliance with your ugly, sterile Objectivist philosophy.

  • MNG||

    +100

    I can't add anymore, so off I go.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    What do you think altruism, at root, is anyway?

    The denial of self. The denial of self means that you can have no values. And calling someone without values a loser is being generous.

  • ||

    Uh...no, TAO. You're coming off a bit like HAL 9000 singing "Daisy" at this point.

  • hmm||

    No. Because being human means you assign some sort of utility to the idea of your offspring do better than you did or having to struggle less. Such notions can be seem throughout history with respect to parents enduring hardship at the chance of a better life for their child. You could argue that this is either instinctual or that there is some utility or sense of well being that is fulfilled through doing so. Such actions need not be altruistic.

  • ||

    Altruism toward strangers has also been evident in diverse contexts in pretty much every civilization throughout history.

    I didn't think Objectivists assigned weight to tradition, either. Maybe they only do it when they've run out of their usual bullshit.

  • sarcasmic||

    That depends on what you mean by "helping people".

    If you mean taking a risk and investing in something that will create jobs and new goods and services for people to enjoy, then yes indeed that is morally bankrupt!
    The investor might earn a profit!

    If you mean sending government agents to forcefully take that which would have been invested, and using it to help those with political connections, then that is morally pure!
    There is nothing more honorable than using the power of government to commit acts that if committed by a citizen would be considered criminal.

  • cynical||

    "They provide venture capital and hire people precisely because they are able to and will make money off of it.

    That is neither deserving of praise or blame."

    Neither is a wage slave who works for money (provided the job is not unethical), but both are fairly essential to the working of society, which is primarily based on reciprocity rather than altruism or exploitation.

    A rich investor is self-employed in the field of capital allocation. The profit he makes thereby is his wage. It is a job that will be done, and compensated, whether it is by a politician whose primary concern is not effective use of capital but cronyism and pacification of special interests, or by a salaried manager/bureaucrat who is less corrupt, but is apathetic because he is mostly rewarded whether he succeeds or fails.

    It should be noted that the system that failed wasn't really free market capitalist anyway -- once the government started giving money away to the "investors" and interfering in the normal operation of markets, the system gained the worst aspects of all three options described.

  • Brett L||

    Those stupid rich, storing their money in those giant bins; used for nothing but swimming in. Oh, wait. You mean they buy bonds, stocks, and companies? They employ people? That doesn't count because they aren't government jobs, right?

  • ||

    Don't be obtuse.

    This is about the role government plays in the relationship between the haves and have-nots.

  • ||

    Marxist twaddle.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    the role government plays in the relationship between the haves and have-nots.

    What role is that?

    I like potato roles myself. With tuna salad.

    Where is it written that "government" has a role to play "between" the "haves" and the "have-nots"?

    And how do you define "haves" and "have-nots"?

    Class envy is an ugly thing.

  • sarcasmic||

    "But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."
    --Bastiat

  • ||

    If the have-nots are consistently denied political privileges available to the haves, then the activities of government must be changed.

    At this point there is no denying that the government does this to an incredible degree. So much so that entire industries (finance, education, health care) have no relation between productivity and reward.

  • sarcasmic||

    You make fine arguments against crony capitalism.

    I don't know any libertarians who support crony capitalism.

  • ||

    You apparently support policies that help crony capitalists.

  • Neu Mejican||

    sarcasmic|9.8.10 @ 12:11PM|#

    You make fine arguments against crony capitalism.

    I don't know any libertarians who support crony capitalism.

    He is making a more substantial argument than you are giving him credit for. It requires you to take the world as it is (with a certain degree of crony capitalism) and to ask if there is a relationship between the degree one benefits from the government infrastructure/services/regulations in place and the amount of that benefit that be taxed to maintain that infrastructure, those servies, etc...

    It is fine to say that the long term solution is to reduce the power of government to reduce crony capitalism. This is different, however, than saying that given the current system, the best solution is to lower taxes on those that benefit the most from the current system.

  • ||

    Exactly Neu Mejican!

    Thank you.

  • robc||

    Two wrongs dont make a right.

  • cynical||

    How exactly is anyone to determine the amount that people benefit from things that are fairly indirectly related to profit and which they have no choice but to pay for? Price signals don't function in such a situation, and people are remarkably adept at self deception, particularly on economic questions; the rich will always feel inclined to understate it, class warriors will feel inclined to overstate it.

    The most honest approach (though only practical in a smaller, civically active population) would be to allow bidding for payments on various government budgets. Each bid would be a pair of numbers -- the overall budget desired and the bidder's maximum payment pledged toward that budget. Once all the bids are in, the highest budget that resolves (that is, all the pledged payments to a budget at least that large add up to at least that budget) is the budget and the pledged payments are taken.

    In such a system, if the 99% poorest members of the public decided they had no obligation to fund the government at all, we could see exactly how much the richest 1% think that government benefits them. If they guess wrong, they'll directly suffer for it.

  • Tony||

    I don't know any libertarian who's willing to say any extra wealth at all should ever be taken from the wealthy, no matter how they got it.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I don't know any libertarian who's willing to say any extra wealth at all should ever be taken from the wealthy, no matter how they got it.

    You constantly speak in broad generalities and straw men.

    First, what is "extra wealth"? And who gets to be the artbiter of how much "wealth" is too much, so that we have some line, above which wealth is "excess"?

    Second, by what legitimate principle should ANY wealth or property be "taken" from ANYONE, "wealthy" or not?

    As far as the "no matter how they got it," I call total bullshit. We're not talking about Scarface or Jamaican drug lords who have amassed a fortune by murdering, extorting and selling heroine to kids.

    If an entrepreneurial person - say, Bill Gates - works his ass off for years - which Bill Gates did, by the way - and build a highly successful business from nothing - which Bill Gates again did - and becomes the nation's wealthiest human being, by what legitimate principle does he deserve to have some of his wealth "taken" from him? It's his. He made it happen. He got what he got as a result of his efforts. As long as he did so legally - i.e., not stealing, pillaging or murdering, etc. - he gets to say what happens to it.

    I'm trying to understand what's so hard to comprehend about this.

  • Tony||

    Extra wealth = anything you don't need.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to lounge on my private beach.

  • ||

    While a lot of libertarians wouldn't agree with me on the issue of government treatment of the wealthy(and I don't blame them for it), every single libertarian would support the remedy of wealth taken by one party from another.

    That is the disagreement here: whether the means by which the wealthy procure their wealth is consistent with libertarianism, and what libertarians should do about it.

    If you don't understand basic libertarian arguments, why do you come here? To look stupid?

  • ||

    That was for Tony

  • sarcasmic||

    This is different, however, than saying that given the current system, the best solution is to lower taxes on those that benefit the most from the current system.

    Your resentment towards those who have accomplished more than you is impossible to hide.

  • Joshua||

    reply to Brad P. 12:44.

    Seems to me if you really are libertarian, you wish to eliminate profiteering based on exploitation of the unfair system, not just tax rich fuckers.

    I find this goal laudable, but think the best way to achieve said goal is to change the system.

    How do you differentiate between wealth by system exploitation & earned wealth?

  • ||

    Joshua:

    I find it impossible to do, I just don't think we will ever make any progress if we keep defending the wealthy as a whole, which is basically the point of Gillespie's point here, even if he acknowledges many of the wealthy aren't worth defending.

  • sarcasmic||

    I just don't think we will ever make any progress if we keep defending the wealthy as a whole

    What's wrong with wealthy people?

    I've never been employed by a beggar, have you?

    How many of the things that you own at one time were beyond your means, and only the fact that wealthy people purchased them when they cost a lot of money allowed the price to drop to something you could afford?

    How many people payed their bills in the production, sales and distribution of those goods?

    How many charitable foundations exist thanks to benevolent paupers?

    I think you're a disingenuous socialist masquerading as a libertarian.

  • ||

    If you don't understand my argument, sarcasmic, you should probably just stop rewording your rebuttal and just leave it. Or you could go back and reread my comments.

    It doesn't really matter to me, but I don't feel the need to respond to a point that I have responded to at least two or three times already.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you don't understand my argument

    I fully understand your argument.

    You're saying that the wealthy attain their wealth by working the regulatory environment to their favor (a premise that is only partially true), and since there are no immediate opportunities to change the regulatory environment we should stick it to 'em with taxes (which will serve no purpose but to assuage the emotions of those pathetic turds who are poisoned by class envy).

    Raising taxes on the wealthy will not create jobs or stimulate the economy, and will likely cause overall tax revenue to fall.

    But at least it will make you feel better.

  • ||

    Sarcasmic, if it is at least partially true that the wealthy earn a portion of their income because of their privileged relationship with government, why are you so drastically opposed the wealthy paying a higher income tax rate?

    I am also not saying that we should stick 'em with taxes, but that we should quit worrying about their tax rates and focus on the regulatory scheme that provides them with their economic rent (which, of course, starts a loop).

  • Tony||

    Brad P.,

    I'm just airing my suspicion that no matter what the status quo--in 1980, 2010, or 2050--no matter how the wealth distribution got to where it is, libertarians will never, ever call for higher taxes on the rich.

    The first moral supposition I hear is the "producers" vs. "looters" nonsense. It amounts to, they have wealth, ergo they must be virtuous people. As if one necessarily has to do with the other. When that fails, for example when I ask exactly what explains the increasingly stagnant wages for an increasingly productive middle class, but vast increases in wealth for the top 1%, that moral argument holds less water. But there's always the handy backup: all taxes are evil! Taking from one to provide for another is bad, period, which, unfortunately, is just an argument for anarchy.

    So I have just one question. When will it be ok to raise taxes on the rich? I mean we're approaching or surpassing gilded age levels of wealth inequality, and it's not because the top 1% just started working hundreds or thousands of times harder than they used to.

  • libertarian straw man||

    Aaauugghh! Tony! You slay me!

    I'm dying!

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • Tony||

    One of you could just answer the question, you know, instead of proving me right by being unable to do so.

  • Tony||

    IOW, taxes on the rich are NEVER high enough.

  • Tony||

    You have to be FIFY. You sound just like him anyway.

    BTW, just because you're an extremist fanatic doesn't mean I am.

  • ||

    If the have-nots are consistently denied political privileges available to the haves, then the activities of government must be changed.

    Now we agree on something.

  • Brett L||

    The best way to jump from have-not to have is to wait-not for the government to send you a check. Get out and work. Spend less than you make. You, too, can be a have.

  • ||

    Yes, but the best way to stay a have is not to keep producing and maintaining economic prudence, but to exploit government regulations.

  • Brett L||

    Ooh. Regulatory capture. Also a problem of government not people. Do you have a point besides hating people who have more than you?

  • ||

    This comment thread is blowing up so I can't blame you for not reading it, but I have already said that wealthy people who benefit from government incentives are worthy of neither praise nor blame. They act in their self-interest.

  • ||

    Yes, they act in their self-interest, but a side effect of that is the benefit they provide to everyone else. I think that's the part you're missing.

  • ||

    C'mon folks. This is basic.

    If they provide less of a benefit than others could, and they provide they have managed to secure political privilege, then they are not helping others, they are exploiting others.

    This isn't Marxism, this is basic libertarian political economy.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    They act in their self-interest.

    Oh, you mean pretty much like just about every other human being on the planet, and every other one who ever has lived?

  • ||

    Yes, just like them.

    They are not the problem, government is the problem. That doesn't mean that we should ignore their relationship with government and the way they benefit from political privileges.

  • ||

    Oh, you mean pretty much like just about every other human being on the planet, and every other one who ever has lived?

    Those bastards.

  • ||

    You left out the part about praying that a wealthy competitor doesn't take notice of you and get the govt to legislate/regulate your business out of existence.

    Also left out the part about your wealthy competitors being subsidized by their pals in the govt.

    Yes, this is a problem of govt. Libertarians should base their support of policies in part on the fact that the wealthy are going to control govt.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Fucking blasphemy!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Concern Troll is Concerned.

  • ||

    Class warfare concern troll is concerned about class warfare.

  • Tony||

    Wealth = virtue. Poverty = lack of virtue.

    Don't you get it?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    And you propose that the opposite rule is true?

    Why does there need to be virtue in either condition? Where is it written that to be wealthy or poor is either virtuous or not?

    The poor want to be wealthy, and the wealthy want to stay wealthy and get wealthier. Seems to me the desired state for most is wealth. Is this because they perceive it as a virtue?

    Just when I think your statements can't get dopier.

  • ||

    He's onto something, albeit in his usual stopped-clock manner.

    "Virtue" comes from Virtus, the Roman god(dess) of military bravery. But Virtus was also the equivalent of the Greek goddess, Arete. "Arete" is often mistranslated as virtue, but it really means "excellence" or "a superior nature." It didn't carry the moralistic overtones of modern conceptions "virtue."

    Wealth is a measure of success, so the wealthy are virtuous, in that they have displayed excellence.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Wealth is a measure of success, so the wealthy are virtuous, in that they have displayed excellence.

    Well, not sure that is ALWAYS true. Wealth is a measure of someone's success at some point in the past, but not always the person currently displaying that wealth.

  • Brett L||

    But it certainly isn't up to the government to make that distinction.

  • ||

    Of course, but I doubt people who want to redistribute wealth on the basis of a dubious definition of fairness (mainly, fair to whom?) are only after old money.

    Even though I decided to attack Tony's shaky grasp of etymology, the question of whether morally correct behavior leads to material success is that... no, there is not a strict correlation--of course the immoral can be successful, and the moral unsuccessful, but Tony's constant implication that the wealthy only become wealthy because of a combination of immoral behavior and the hand of blind luck is just a display of his need for class conflict, not an actual argument.

    As for the estate tax argument (my job so rudely intruded): Arguing for or against estate taxes is not very worthwhile so long as the case for excessive taxation for the purposes of wealth transfer hasn't been made. And, of course, that is a moral argument, not a legal argument.

    Not everything that legal is moral; not everything that is illegal is immoral.

    (And please note that I only really use "morality" as a shorthand for my much more complicated beliefs in what generates non-supernaturally-derived interpersonal behavior codes.)

  • sarcasmic||

    Many do not understand or care to understand the distinction between wealth and income.

  • Tony||

    SugarFree I don't care how morally laudable a person is. A tax scheme should not be based on such calculations, except perhaps in the very abstract. A tax system should simply be structured so that we pay for the things we buy, and nobody is placed in hardship because of taxes. I don't care how good of a person you are, or even how much you produce for humanity through your business ventures. It's just not relevant.

  • ||

    You are either just not capable of understanding my point or deliberately mistating it for rhetorical gain. You have proven yourself unwilling to argue in anything even resembling good faith, and are therefore not worth my time.

    If someone else would like to ask Tony's same question, I'll gladly answer it, but I'm not going to pound sand with him for the thousandth time.

  • adam||

    Since the income tax taxes present income, and not wealth, it does little to attack old money. They just pay income tax on any capital gains, dividends etc. And those are some of the easiest categories of income to control in regards to timing and form, so that they can take advantage of differential rates.

  • ||

    I am sure you will let George Soros and Meles Zenawi know how virtuous you think they are.

    I am also relieved to know that I can enhance my virtue by mugging you.

  • ||

    This is why you are a troll dumbshit fuckbag.

  • sarcasmic||

    +10

  • ||

    Perhaps I don't understand.

    You said:

    "Wealth is a measure of success, so the wealthy are virtuous, in that they have displayed excellence."

    George Soros and Meles Zenawi are among the wealthiest men in the world, and no one could say that they haven't been excellent at what they do.

    So are they virtuous or are you wrong?

    And the answer doesn't depend on whether I am a dumbshit fuckbag or not.

  • ||

    Under the original definition (really, mistranslation) of "virtue," then yes, they are virtuous in that they are successful, having displayed some excellence that has been rewarded by wealth.

    Whether this means that they are moral is covered in my post just a few inches below that.

    Of course, this is not what I posting about, really, rather that I was turning Tony's facile construction back on itself. Tony is a deliberate idiot about libertarian thought and ideas. Imagine some one without even the most basic grasp of utilitarianism going onto a progressive or socialist board and screaming about anarcho-capitalism. Tony is a troll. And, more accurately, a dumbshit fuckbag.

    You make semi-valid points in an inflammatory and ill-thought out manner. It remains to be seen whether you are posting in bad faith.

  • sarcasmic||

    It remains to be seen whether you are posting in bad faith.

    Let this quote from Brad answer that for you:

    "I do support having a coherent plan for actually changing society."

    Those are the words of a statist.

  • ||

    "Those are the words of a statist."

    Yes and no. I "support having a coherent plan for actually changing society." Respecting individual rights, ending excessive taxation and regulation, and cutting government spending down to the bone is a coherent plan to "change society" that is not statist.

    Unless, of course, society doesn't include our governmental structure.

  • ||

    Precisely, and we lose the fight on two ends when we incessantly stick up for the wealthy.

    1. We continue to fulfill the belief that proponents of individual liberty are apologists for crony capitalists because we would be. Defending the wealthy, despite your rabid defense, would be a defense of those who benefit the most from the regulatory scheme.

    2. We would defend those most responsible for the corrupt and disfunctional regulatory scheme and strengthen their ability to continue to hijack government.

    I can't believe acknowledging that the wealthy derive a portion of their wealth from their closeness to manager of our economy is that hard.

  • Tony||

    SugarFree do you deny that libertarians, on the whole, take a default position on raising taxes? 'Against'

  • ||

    You believe what you want to believe, Tony. Don't let reality intrude.

  • Tony||

    I mean everyone keeps implying that they have a nuanced view on this topic... but I've never seen one actually articulated.

    Or is there not a big thick black line between the libertarian and the liberal when it comes to tax policy? If I believed you, then we'd differ only on policy matters, but I'm constantly told I'm in favor of looting and parasitism whereas you guys are for rewarding virtue. In the end, isn't it just a matter of degree?

  • sarcasmic||

    "In the end, isn't it just a matter of degree?"

    There are such things as principles and absolutes.

    Just because you don't believe in them doesn't mean that they don't exist.

  • Tony||

    sarcasmic,

    So where is the line drawn? Taxes are okay to pay for armies, but not healthcare? Why?

    And don't give me bullshit about the constitution either. You can do better than that.

  • CJ||

    I don't know about anyone else, but here's where I'd draw the line. Legitimate functions of government in my view: protecting the population from fraud, theft, and violence.

    If the taxes taken from the entire population aren't enough to cover those bare minimum functions, then they can be raised. If they are enough, then everything else is elective spending that should be paid for exclusively by the people who support it.

    i.e. Conservatives can stop stealing liberals' money for their purposes, liberals can stop stealing conservatives' money for their purposes, and they can both stop stealing libertarians' money.

  • Tony||

    I'm explaining what I think to be a central libertarian fallacy. No matter what tax scheme is necessary for a country to function and prosper, we can never "punish" the rich with taxes because they are good, wonderful "producers." Well that's just a moral argument, one I happen to find ludicrous, and it says nothing about what the country needs.

  • libertarian straw man||

    Aauugghh!
    Right through the heart!
    You slay me!
    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • Brett L||

    Tony:

    We shouldn't "punish" anybody with taxes, ideally. You'd also find a lot less heat in the fight if the government spent < 10% of GDP in the US every year. The average for the last half-century being 18% and 2009 being exceptional at 27%.

    So yes, most libertarians oppose taxes on the rich (and everyone else) because that money allows the government to have more effect on people's lives, which most libertarians oppose. It has little to do with how much money a person has or makes, except that 90% of the current tax change proposals involve raising taxes on the the rich.

  • Tony||

    I agree--nobody should find their tax responsibility an actual burden on their lives. Hence progressive taxation. The bulk of recent tax cuts went to people who make more than $1 million a year. Meanwhile everyone in the bottom 98% has seen virtually no benefit from economic prosperity in the last couple decades at least. We have a deficit. It is apparently the overriding fiscal concern, even during a recession. So where else are we gonna get the money to pay it down? Looting social security?

  • Brett L||

    And yet people who make

  • Brett L||

    Dear Reason, I hate your comment engine. I [bracket][percent sign] should not truncate but still publish my comment. Please beat the squirrels for me.

  • ||

    Stop pissing away trillions of dollars on federal boondoggles and I assure you that there'll be plenty of capital to pay down the U.S. debt under the current tax regime, as onerous as it is.

  • ||

    The central statist fallacy being that a tax scheme is necessary for a country to function and prosper.

  • Tony||

    Name one that ever has done so without one.

  • ||

    Correlation is not causation. The fact that every government in history has stolen wealth from its citizens doesn't indicate that such theft is necessary for a country to function and prosper -- particularly given that plenty of dysfunctional, destitute countries (arguably including the modern U.S.) have also stolen wealth from their citizens.

    That you can't conceive of a functional, prosperous country that doesn't steal from its citizens demonstrates the limits of your imagination, not the impracticality of the idea.

  • Tony||

    Of course since there's never been a country that has worked without taxation, any claims you make about such a hypothetical place are complete speculation.

    All evidence would seem to suggest that taxation is necessary, though not sufficient, to make a functioning prosperous country.

  • ||

    An alternate hypothesis that also fits the available facts: countries that function and prosper do so in spite of, not because of, stealing wealth from their citizens.

  • Tony||

    That is an available fact? It sounds like a completely baseless assertion.

    And taxation is not theft.

  • ||

    Your hypothesis is that taxation is necessary but not sufficient to establish a functioning, prosperous country.

    Mine is that countries function and prosper in spite of, not because of, taxation.

    And yes, taxation is theft. Get over it.

  • ||

    The arguments against taxation are legion, but that is hardly the point, as even liberals accept the central idea that government action must be legitimized, rather than liberty.

    In legitimizing government action, liberals consistently make an error in 1)underestimating the unintended consequenses of government action, and 2)overestimating the competence of the technocrats they put in charge of policy.

    Liberals seem infinitely sure of their righteousness and omnipotence. The possibility that they may not be correct or may not actually be able to change reality to reflect their wishes never seems to register to them.

    And so you have the constant battle between libertarians who wish to let society self-organize and liberals who wish to micromanage society to their wishes.

    And I am not inclined to stop pushing towards an ideal just because I have no reason to believe it possible. Closer is always good enough.

  • LifeStrategies||

    "overestimating the competence of the technocrats they put in charge of policy"

    Since they're given coercive powers to implement their ideas, and competition is eliminated, there's no feedback showing which ideas work really well and which ones don't. Without that feedback it's impossible for anyone, no matter how competent, to do a really good job! The proof of the pudding is in the eating...

  • Tony||

    ...we can never "punish" the rich sufficiently with taxes to suit the needs of we liberals.

  • ||

    Two thoughts:

    (1) Obama wants to preserve lower tax rates on exactly those people who don't create new jobs, and raise taxes on those that do. Is there anything that he can't get back-asswards?

    (2) I have yet to see a defender of the estate tax make a decent case as to why the State has a superior claim to the assets of an estate than the people specified by the owner of those assets.

    The argument that the heirs shouldn't get the assets because they haven't earned them applies equally to the State, after all.

  • Joshua||

    What!? Reason?! on Hit & Run?!?!

    Blasphemer!

  • ||

    Well, the only good thing about this announcement is that Obama will for sure get voted out in 2012, because the recovery, she ain't coming anytime soon.

    I have no philosophical objection to those making more than $200K paying more taxes if the extra money goes solely into deficit reduction, and spending is cut by the same amount tax is raised (in other words, as long is the extra money isn't just spent to increase the size of government). But I really believe that history has shown that raising taxes is bad for the economy in general. And right now, we need to encourage investment any way we can. Which makes it a really bad time to raise taxes.

  • Eric Holder||

    create a basic structure and then let people have at it

    You're flirting with sedition, Mr. Gillespie.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    "the wealthiest Americans who just happen to be the most likely to spend money, create jobs, etc."

    The government is certain to spend that money and create jobs, so those goals can only be satisfied even better by reallocating the money from the wealthy (who might spend it on creating American jobs, or might do something less beneficial to society with it) to the government, who by definition will use it for the common good.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    C-

  • Warty||

    Captain Smith stared straight ahead. The Tarmo fighter had maneuvered into attack position, its dewentar ray pointed directly at the Nonix’s outer shurt. The attacker’s beguplanktar relegnared the Nonix’s vadeenvedar at the looputanistic werttentrat!

    Smith quickly reached for the suicide switch. Better to die a Kullollich’s death than to suffer as a Rylanjulanio, he thought as he flipped it.

  • ||

    Dan T: the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Warty||

    He's like that necrotic herpes sore on your anus. You never quite forget about him.

  • LifeStrategies||

    But much of the money the government takes from the wealthy is wasted in enormous overhead, graft, pork, and jobs for the boys. The rest of that money is part of Bastiat's broken window fallacy. In sum, most all the money the government takes would be better left in private hands.

    The proof: Hong Kong and Singapore, both of whom are now really wealthy although poor not that long ago. And China, with Hong Kong as an example, have followed some of their policies and have economic growth the envy of the rest of the world...

  • PR||

    I'd just like to see consistency in the definition of wealthy. $250k for a household? OK, but no one should get wealthy working for the government which would cap government pay at a max of $125k per year. You shouldn't get to be paid in the top 2% working as a public servant.

  • Barry O||

    You're right. We definitely need to raise the salary of every teacher to $125k.

  • Neu Mejican||

    R C Dean|9.8.10 @ 11:23AM|#

    Two thoughts:

    (1) Obama wants to preserve lower tax rates on exactly those people who don't create new jobs, and raise taxes on those that do. Is there anything that he can't get back-asswards?

    What data do you have that indicates income tax on small business owners is a primary barrier to new hiring? It would be for sole proprietors it seems, but what percentage of small businesses are sole proprietorships rather than corporations of some type? (serious question). Obama is proposing tax breaks on businesses at the same time he is proposing these tax cuts be allowed to end. Did he get that backwards?

    (2) I have yet to see a defender of the estate tax make a decent case as to why the State has a superior claim to the assets of an estate than the people specified by the owner of those assets. The argument that the heirs shouldn't get the assets because they haven't earned them applies equally to the State, after all.

    Only if you ignore the reasoning behind all taxes.

  • ||

    Only if you ignore the reasoning behind all taxes.

    What benefit are taxes to the dead? Can that benefit be said to be worth the cost?

    Wealth transfer by government is theft, after all.

  • ||

    Don't argue with the utilitarian, NutraSweet. It's like arguing with a robot or a particularly dense rock. They can't even begin to understand moral reasoning.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What benefit are taxes to the dead?

    Jesus Christ. You start allowing the dead to retain their possessions, then next they're using their untaxed resources to acquire factories and retooling them to efficiently mass separate our living brains from our living bodies to sell to their own kind in their zombie food co-op stores, putting tax-burdened, living grocery stores right out of business.

  • Neu Mejican||

    (^_^)

  • Neu Mejican||

    What benefit are taxes to the dead?

    The benefit was provided to them while they were alive, the reasoning would go.

    Can that benefit be said to be worth the cost?

    It can be...depending upon how it is implemented, the rate, etc.

    Episiarch,
    Yes, because you can't put together a coherent moral argument it probably looks to you like others don't understand you. Sugerfree, however, tends to have something to contribute.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    The benefit was provided to them while they were alive, the reasoning would go.

    The fee-for-benefit was paid many, many times while the person was alive.

  • Neu Mejican||

    TAO,

    Well, according to the rules in place, one doesn't have to pay the fee until after you death, so only part of the fee has been paid. You are arguing about the payment schedule, not making a moral argument.

  • Neu Mejican||

    "after death" not after you death" ack.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You are speaking a tautology, Neu. You said that the tax can be justified because of the benefit given to them while they were alive. My argument is that the benefit was already paid for, in the form of all of the taxes being folded into the price at the time of purchase. Your argument just leads to arbitrariness, because government can just "decide" you did not pay the full ocst of the object. If we are to pay taxes, we should pay them when we buy a thing and then we own it...forevermore.

  • Neu Mejican||

    TAO,

    You said that the tax can be justified because of the benefit given to them while they were alive. That is the justification used, yes.

    My argument is that the benefit was already paid for, in the form of all of the taxes being folded into the price at the time of purchase.

    Yes, that was your argument.

    Your argument just leads to arbitrariness, because government can just "decide" you did not pay the full ocst of the object.

    It is not really any more arbitrary than deciding that you have to pay up front as far as I can tell.

    If we are to pay taxes, we should pay them when we buy a thing and then we own it...forevermore.

    Why not give people control of some of that capital while they are alive and productive, hoping they can use it more wisely than the government? Paying the entire fee upfront takes away more from a productive individual than waiting until later to collect the entire fee.

    That is the reasoning.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Neu - do you really believe that this "time schedule" construction is not only the logic behind the estate tax, but also a justification for it anyway?

  • Neu Mejican||

    TAO,

    Not sure what you are asking here.

  • Neu Mejican||

    TAO,

    What I am saying is that the justification for the estate tax is no different than the justification for any tax. If you don't buy the justification for taxation in general, then arguments for an estate tax will seem weak justification. But, that said, once you buy into any justification for taxation (e.g., the fee for service justification), then there is no moral difference between collecting at one arbitrary point rather than another. There is not a moral distinction between the "death tax" and any other type of tax...as far as I can see. There are, however, utilitarian differences between charging up front and waiting until after the person has stopped being productive.

    Now, of course, utilitarianism is a moral system, so, I guess you can say that utilitarian arguments are moral arguments for or against the tax, but I don't think that is what people mean when they say "moral argument" in this thread.

  • ||

    Your argument just leads to arbitrariness, because government can just "decide" you did not pay the full ocst of the object.

    They already do this with property taxes, TAO. Just because you already bought a piece of land doesn't mean the govt can't decide to tax it over and over and over again.

  • robc||

    The rules in place are zero inheritance tax. Any year going forward will be ADDING A NEW TAX AGAINST THE CURRENT RULES>

  • Neu Mejican||

    robc,
    That doesn't seem accurate. Estate/inheritance taxes are in place at both the state and the federal level currently. No? I mean, sure there is the current 1 year pause, but it comes back in January. It would require a change in the rules to keep the 0% rate in place.

  • robc||

    NM - the curren rules are 0% federal inheritance tax. Period. (Sure it "expires" after this year but Im talking about current rules)

    It requires a change in the rules to not keep 0% in place, but they passed that change in the rules 10 years ago.

    Interestingly, even the Dems seem to oppose where it goes to next year - they think both the deductible is too low and the percentage too high.

    The problem with the low limit is that for many businesses/farms a large percentage of the value is tied up in assets, so the only way to pay the tax with a low limit is to sell it. And I think it goes to a 55% rate next year, which is just outrageous.

    Actually, I dont think the rate is 0% this year, its just the deductible is unlimited.

  • ||

    Here we go again.

    If Walmart has 25% off sale on DVD players from the time they open until 10 AM on Black Friday, would it be correct to say they raised their prices on DVD players at 10 AM?

  • ||

    You don't put together moral arguments, dude, and it's unbelievably hilarious that you think you do. You put together two things: contrarian arguments and utilitarian arguments. The fact that you think either of those is a "moral argument" shows exactly how much of a robot/particularly dense rock you are.

    You do understand that contrarians like yourself are completely obvious to everyone, right? That you think you're being smarter and seeing the other sides, while everyone else sees that you're only doing it to try and quell that fear inside you that you're not nearly as smart as you think?

    You get this, right? Of course not. That would require some metacognition, which robots and particularly dense rocks are incapable of.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ahhh...Uncle Rico lashes out again.

  • ||

    Apropos of nothing, but I recall an Asimov book where an alien had sex with a rock.

  • Neu Mejican||

    It seems I read that too...not that I can recall where.

    Then there is the old Chinese novel about the Rock Monkey that totally fucked with the gods. Don't think there were any robots though.

  • ||

    I know where, but it's a secret.

  • ||

    Okay, okay, it's in The God Themselves. But I'm not telling you the page number.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican is a despicable sophist in my opinion, but his arguments are spot-on in this case.

  • Neu Mejican||

    That's the best backhanded comment I have read in quite awhile...nice rhetorical flourish.

    ;^)

  • ||

    Don't get used to it! This is like the time Batman and Riddler made a temporary alliance.

  • Neu Mejican||

    For the record, we also agree, it seems, on the Ground Zero Mosque issue.

  • ||

    This reminds me of a scene in Woody Allen's Love and Death, where the Countess (Olga Georges-Picot) says to Woody's character, "You're disgusting, but I love you."

  • robc||

    I dont know for sure of numbers, but it wouldnt just be sole proprietors. S-corps also have the income tax as a barrier. Any pass thru corp would.

    I think most small businesses are S-Corp.

  • Neu Mejican||

    A bit of digging and it seems that by numbers (about 3/4ths) most companies are sole proprietorships but that most business is done by corporations (around 80%). Tried to post a link but the squirrels decided it was spam.

  • ||

    What is the moral claim of the beneficiary upon the property?

    Wow.

    and- fuck you.

  • ||

    That was not rhetorical, but an attempt to actually get an answer so I would know the person's argument.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Their estate pays the tax on its way to the heirs"

    ...unless you're a Kennedy.

  • Al Gore||

    Hey!

  • Spoonman.||

    What is the moral claim of the beneficiary upon the property?

    Daddy bought you all Christmas presents this year, but Uncle Sam took them because he says you have no moral claim upon the property, since Daddy earned the money for it and then gave it away, it belongs to the State.

  • ||

    If Daddy depended on the state to deliver the Christmas presents to you because he wasn't going to be around on Christmas, then it would be right and just for the state to charge a fee for that service.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    So if I contract out to give property away, I should have to pay again? It makes no difference whether I am alive or dead, you realize. The will was made when I was alive. It's a conditional contract.

  • ||

    Of course it makes a difference if you're dead or alive.

    Let's say you want to give your kid $100. If you're alive, you go to the bank and ask them for $100 from your account, which they are contractually obligated to give YOU. and then give it to your kid.

    If you're dead, your kid can't just walk in, dragging your dead body, and demand $100 holding a note from you saying to pay him or her after you die. The govt has to compel the bank to give the $100 to your kid, ultimately backed up by men with guns if they refuse, since there is no contractual obligation for them to give any money to your kid.

  • Joshua||

    Well let's take government out of the picture. Say we're in an anarchist state. I contract with a bank to keep my money & the contract states that upon my death JimBob is to receive my money. Banks that honor such contracts would prosper, banks that confiscate dead peoples' money would not prosper.

    Now government has said no no no, you don't need contract law, here's a bunch of regulations. You want me to pay a 50% fee on all of dead me's money that goes to JimBob for the privilege of regulations & the enforcement thereof? Seems awfully steep.

  • ||

    So the state, interposing themselves in a monopolistic manner to deliver said presents, when all they are really required to do is merely recognize that the presents are going to the right people, is somehow due 50% of the presents?

  • ||

    That is fair enough, but that is hardly comparable to the claim made by the benefactor who worked to earn in the first place.

  • ||

    Way too much troll feeding going on around here.

  • hmm||

    Trolls need love too.

  • ||

    As a fan of Walter Block, I must defend the indefensible: If trolls provided no value to the other commenters on the thread, they would not find the attention that they crave.

  • ||

    Quite often, the definition of "troll" on any opinionated message board is "someone I disagree with".

  • ||

    Oh, I know.

    I frequent a few liberal blogs and I'm either a regular troll or concern troll on all of them.

    It might be the least effective perjorative ever.

  • ||

    How about "dumbshit fuckbag"?

  • ||

    By troll I mean the ones who can't possibly believe the things they're saying. Which on this thread may include you.

  • ||

    ...and in the mind of an opinionated person -- to whom the other side of a debate is so obviously wrong -- there's a fine line between your definition and the one I gave.

    It's "how can someone believe that a lump the size of a blood clot is a human being with the right to life" vs "how can someone think it's OK to kill your offspring before they're born" all over again.

  • hmm||

    I say we tax the anchor babies. They are an untapped resource.

  • TallDave||

    As important, Clinton was actually cutting discretionary spending in real terms (by over 8 percent in his first four years in office).

    That underscores a point I've been making: the big problem isn't taxes, it's spending. Spending is the real tax level.

  • Alice Bowie||

    It is so unfair to tax rich people. They are the only reason us peasants get to eat, have shelter, and have any form of leisure and savings.

    Perhaps if we eliminate ALL taxes including:
    - Income Tax
    - Property Tax
    - Sales Tax
    - Payroll Tax
    - Capital Gains Tax
    for everyone that makes OVER $250k per year, these people will spend more money(on themselves) and create more jobs (in India and Mexico).

  • Guy||

    Well, yes. Very few people are actually innovative enough and willing to take the risks of starting businesses and being successful at it. Most of us are just employees lucky enough to live in a place and time where we can get the benefits of those people. Some employees actually get rich themselves.

  • ||

    What is the moral claim of the beneficiary upon the property?

    The beneficiary's moral claim arises from the expressed wishes of the owner. Its pretty much the same moral claim as anyone has to their property - the person they acquired it from wanted them to have it, generally because you exchanged value for it.

    And the State's moral claim is what, exactly?

    NM opts for the argument that the estate tax has the same moral basis as any other tax. Which is, at least, refreshing in its honesty. Once you clear the field of moral considerations, you are left with utilitarian ones.

    And the estate tax has been shown to impose unique burdens on the economy as a whole, requiring, as it frequently does, that going concerns be broken up and liquidated.

  • Alice Bowie||

    The Estate Tax is useless.

    The ONLY People that pay it are the unsophisticated lark that had a windfall and didn't know better than to go to an estate planner.

    People with $$$ BIG MONEY $$$ know how to get around it.

    As liberal as I am and as much as I like to stick to the (rick) MAN, I'm all for getting rid of the Estate Tax.

    I agree with RC Dean, it's nothing more than crookery...if that's a word.

  • adam||

    "The ONLY People that pay it are the unsophisticated lark that had a windfall and didn't know better than to go to an estate planner."

    That's not even close to true. While there are ways to reduce estate tax by a few percentage points, even the best planner can't eliminate it for big estates (unless you give nearly all away to charity). The IRS posts metadata on estate tax filings. In 2008, there were over 700 taxable estate of over $20M.

  • ||

    "the wealthiest Americans who just happen to be the most likely to spend money, create jobs, etc."

    Yeah, disagree here. One of the frequent refrains from those who oppose a consumption tax is that the wealthy spend a lower percentage of their income on consumables. They actually save money, give it away, invest it, etc. Poor folks? They spend it.

    So if you want to juice consumption then giving more to the poor seems like a good way to ensure it gets spent. If you want to juice available capital then let the rich keep more.

  • Alice Bowie||

    YES YES YES YES YES

  • robc||

    NM,

    There is not a moral distinction between the "death tax" and any other type of tax...as far as I can see.

    I think this is generally true, but not for the Single Land Tax. While I dont entirely agree with it, Henry George based it on a moral argument (while arguing that any taxes against production were immoral). His argument is sound, I dont agree with all his premises. But close enough that I would be willing to entirely switch to it from all other forms of taxation.

  • ||

    since there is no contractual obligation for them to give any money to your kid.

    Explain why this is in any significant way different than telling the bank to give a hundred bucks to the power company.

  • ||

    Don't be stupid, PB. Of course as soon as you die all the money in your accounts become the property of the bank. You didn't know that?

    Just like if your car was parked over at my house and you died, it's automatically mine.

  • ||

    that is hardly comparable to the claim made by the benefactor who worked to earn in the first place.

    Holy fuck.

    Dan T, is that you?

  • ||

    Contrary to popular belief, "rich" people do not keep their money under their mattresses, or buried in treasure chests on their private South Sea islands.

  • ParisWBushCheneyHiltonGoldman||

    No. We Don't.

    However, we (the rich people) don't create all of the jobs the other boobs on this website think we do either.

  • Guy||

    Well if people who start businesses (successfully and get rich at it) don't create jobs, then who does?

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Wasn't Clinton kinda scared straight by "Bond Vigilantes" ? where the hell are they now? Who in their right mind would want to buy & hold US govmt debt right now, at any maturity beyond say, 6 months (and thats pushing it as far as I'm concerned). I just don't get it.

  • Liberal Douchebags||

    Of course, we can't just come out and call it the Rich People Suck Economic Reform Act, but it would get our point across much better.

  • Tncm||

    "Taxation is not theft."

    I am left once again wondering why you even come on this site, Tony. You are an idiot. You parrot the same talking points ad nauseam, and you contribute absolutely nothing to the discussions at Reason. You have no idea how much you are discrediting the progressive movement just by posting on this message board. In one thread, I've seen you claim:

    (1) The constitution does not matter
    (2) The libertarian plan for the economy is JUST to reduce taxes (ignoring the whole "cut spending" part)
    (3) Taxation is not theft

    The first point happens to prove the AM radio talking point that "liberals don't care about the constitution". So, congratulations, you've just given your must hated enemies, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, credibility.

    The second point is quickly revealed as a strawman to anyone who has ever read a single article on this site discussing United States fiscal policy.

    The third point will be proven to be ridiculous in the following sentences: A man with a gun comes to your house, points the weapon at your head, and demands that you give him half of your income. This is theft. 535 men in Washington demand that you do the same or face prison and/or having your assets seized. This is taxation. The two acts are equivalent.

  • ||

    THE IRON HEEL OF OBAMA

    IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, OBAMA HAS LASHED OUT AGAINST CONSERVATIVES IN A WAY THAT SHOWS THEY ARE ABOUT TO CRACK DOWN ON ALL DISSENT IN THIS COUNTRY. LAST WEEK, BILL CLINTON CLAIMED SAID THAT THOSE ON THE RIGHT SHOULD TONE DOWN THEIR RHETORIC. A HACK WRITER NAMED JOE KLEIN GOT ON NBC AND SAID THAT REMARKS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE BY SARAH PALIN AND OTHER CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATORS CONSTITUTE SEDITION.

    OBAMA HAS BEEN GETTING BOLDER AND BOLDER. FIRST THEY PUT FORWARD THE IDEA OF REVIVING THE UNFAIRNESS DOCTRINE, WHICH WOULD DESTROY CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO. THEN THEY CLAIMED THAT TOO MUCH “HATE” WAS COMING FROM THE TEA PARTIES AND THE RIGHT. AND NOW THEY’RE PUTTING IT IN TERMS OF ACTUAL SEDITION. THEY ARE TRYING TO ESTABLISH A LEGAL BASIS FOR SHUTTING UP THOSE THAT THEY DISAGREE WITH.

    THE IRON HEEL OF OBAMA IS COMING DOWN QUICKLY. IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE OBAMA USES SOME EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL MEANS OF SILENCING HIS OPPONENTS. IT MAY COME AS AN EXECUTIVE ORDER. IT MAY COME AS A BILL FORCED THROUGH THE CONGRESS BY RECONCILIATION. OR IT MAY BE SOMETHING ELSE. BUT BE ASSURED THAT IT WILL COME. AND WHEN IT DOES, DON’T COUNT ON THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT IN CONGRESS TO PROTECT YOU. THEY SEE WHICH WAY THE WIND IS BLOWING, AND THEY’RE GOING ALONG TO GET ALONG. ONLY ACTION BY THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES CAN STOP THIS NOW. MAYBE THE TEA PARTIERS, MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE. BUT IF ACTION IS NOT TAKEN SOON, THE IRON HEEL OF THE OBAMA WILL HAVE CRUSHED FREE SPEECH IN AMERICA.
    “INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.//////For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.the commander
    REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

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