Taxes

Reason.tv: Is Hillary Clinton Right That The Rich Don't Pay "Their Fair Share" in Taxes?

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that "the rich are not paying their fair share" of taxes in the United States and other developed countries.

Is she right? It depends on what you consider fair. Using 2006 data, The New York Times found that the richest 20 percent of households were paying 26 percent of their income to the federal government in the form of income, payroll, corporate, and excise taxes. The average for all familes? 21 percent.

And there's this: "In 2006, the top quintile of households earned 55.7 percent of pretax income and paid 69.3 percent of federal taxes, while the top 1 percent of households earned 18.8 percent of income and paid 28.3 percent of taxes."

Paying in a lot more than you get out? That doesn't seem fair.

The rich are different than you and me; they've got more money. And they pay more taxes.

Politicians are different too–they rarely say what they really mean. Perhaps what Secretary Clinton means is that the rich can always pay more than they're already paying.

That would explain why she and the president are lobbying to let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, a policy that would raise all sorts of taxes on all sorts of people.

Which doesn't sound all that fair either.

Produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie.

Go here for documentation and graphs.

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  1. I am, per the president’s definition, rich. I pay a lot in taxes.

    What these fuckheads don’t get is that the more you try to tax the wealthy, the more they will go off-shore, hide income, under-report income, create trusts and other instruments to avoid taxes. If you just had me pay 20% of my gross income, I’d probably do it. But they want 40% or more. On top of sales, property, gas, etc taxes that already exist. And Barry would like it to be more like 60% I’d bet.

    I don’t see why the waste and fraud should be shouldered by the people who produce the most.

    I’ve wondered for many years what would happen if we had a progressive tax system that worked the other way. When you make minimum wage, you pay 40% tax, down to 30% when you make 50K and down to 2% when you make 200k or more. I’d bet our GDP would grow, people would cheat on their taxes to claim more income and low wage people would bust their ass to get out of the maximum tax bracket.

    1. What you’re describing is a flat tax.

      1. Actually, this is a regressive tax. A flat tax charges the same percentage in tax regardless of income.

        1. great article! btw gang, check out http://www.thepartisandialogues.com for more sweet political news

        2. Yeah this would be an example of a regressive tax, but if you think about it flat taxes are kind of “regressive” in themselves.The difference between one person making 16,000 down 20,000, and 80,000 down from 100,000 is huge. The former person, though getting taxed the same rate as the latter, is losing more valuable income (which would probably be used to pay bills, buy food) and the latter person is foregoing money probably going towards more luxury goods. Not saying it’s not fair, but due to money being less important at higher levels of income it is in a sense regressive.

        3. Which is why I support the Fairtax. It’s not regressive, seeing as to how it gives a monthly prebate, regardless of income, to offset the cost of taxes on basic neccessities. The “poor” would actually come out ahead.

        4. A nominally flat tax is by definition a regressive tax due to the diminishing marginal utility of income. This argument suggests some tax bracket progression is actually “fair.” in the sense of equal burdens. The problem happens because different people have differing marginal utilities, added to the fact that distribution of that income goes disproportionally to the poor (making the uses highly progressive) or to the politically well connected (which is just graft and greed)

      2. You guys are fucking nuts

        1. You are welcome to your opinion BB, but simply making an ad hominem attack and not actually providing a basis for your assertion makes you look like a liberal troll. Please elaborate.

    2. Greer,

      You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Did you not hear the President when he said there comes a time when you’ve made enough money? Do you think Al Gore likes six-figure speaking fees? No, he’s ashamed but has a higher purpose. Now, from the liberal perspective, I would assume you have a money tree your Daddy planted for you, you could be a corporatist thief, or the always endearing “fortunate” — just more fortunate than others. Of course, in reality I know some “rich” people and they work their asses off and have a great deal of responsibility. It’s hardly being a Congressman though. Does there come a time when you’ve done enough good? When the benevolence you’ve promulgated from Washington is enough? Surely not.
      You see, Greer, by American standards, I am poor. Let’s take the liberal perspective again: putatively, you being “rich” is making me “poor.” In reality (it’s a bitch), I am poor for a variety of reasons. Let’s just pretend like it’s because I’ve lacked diligence and haven’t struck the right balance between production and consumption. Far fetched, I know. Note that in reality, historically, and from the proper world perspective, I’m pretty well off. I just bought a washer and dryer for $150, from some rich, greedy bastard who bought a new expensive efficient model.

      I would suggest trying to be a little more patriotic like Joe says. I would say that is the most obnoxious, ridiculous thing to come out the President’s mouth yet, but I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear how much is enough. And if I am “fortunate” enough to become “rich” (at someone else’s expense no doubt), what’s that number going to be when the free health care kicks in? Fortunately, I don’t have to think for myself as I bask in the comfort of Hope and Change. No doubt the poor could get a leg up if the rich just paid their fair share. That’s some unhealthy kool-aid to be drinking.

    3. I’ve wondered for many years what would happen if we had a progressive tax system that worked the other way.

      Technically, you could be describing inflation, an effective tax on cash that a) can be more readily diversified by the wealthy, and b) at higher levels tends to exceed wage growth.

    4. Your first sentence says it all: The more you tax the wealthy, the more they will cheat to hide it.

      1. The more you tax ANYONE, the more they will cheat to avoid paying them, rich or not.

    5. @Greer says: I don’t see why the waste and fraud should be shouldered by the people who produce the most.

      Greer, you make the assumption here that people making the most money actually produce something. This is not always true. Think of trumped up salaries, propped up by croney boards. Think of Wall Streeters and bankers who basically launder, gamble, and practice usury — they are not producing much.

      The compensation even for hard working CEOs and top executives should not IMO be more than X amount than the average salary of the company, or perhaps actually tied to performance.

      There are all sorts of problems. The assumption that money == productivity is a false place to start. Every working man/woman knows this to be true.

  2. The “fair share” for anyone to pay in taxes is zero. I couldn’t care less what that tax-sucking harpy thinks is a “fair share” to loot from me.

    -jcr

    1. Amen brother! When will people wise up and stop arguing about percentages. The very notion of a tax is outrageous, immoral, and downright sinister. Imagine if I just went to my neighbor and said “uhh I like need some stuff so I’m just gonna like force you to give me some of your money”. Any intellectually honest primate would call that theft. But if it is neatly sanctioned by this magical group of benevolent people, who just happen to be the only group of people allowed to shoot people with guns, then all is well and good. Am I the crazy one here?

      1. You are pretty much a far out wingnut, yes.

        The so called “magical group of benevolent people” is the government which we elect to work on our behalf.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVsD39DAo-I

        Just listen to Sulllivan Balou —
        “I know how American civilization now leans on the triumph of the government… and I am willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government” …

        What is the alternative? Lawless anarchy?

  3. “Fair share” is, of course, rarely given a concrete definition. Politicians who seek to exploit the envy always define it as more than the rich are paying now, regardless of how much high income people are actually paying.

  4. I issue a challenge to any of our resident lefty commenters, in all seriousness:

    Define “fair”. Show your work.

    1. No problem. To Ms. Clinton, if you have disposable income, your taxes should be higher. The government should relieve you of all those purchase decisions you aren’t qualified to make.

      From each according to his ability; to each according to what we think they need.

    2. LOL..

      the retardation in that question is broad…

      Unless you argue for no taxes at all?

      “Fairness” is not a question for any particular ideology, rather it is the battleground on which things are decided..

      1. the retardation in that question is broad…

        How so? Do you always beg the question? Furthermore, do you have a right to my property?

        Unless you argue for no taxes at all?

        Why not? Government has proven over and over again it can not spend its collected taxes wisely and is particularly susceptible to crony capitalism. Government has also proven over and that it does not manufacture any products of value. Government merely confiscates funds for redistribution. I am aware of the constitutional enumeration of the “Congress shall have the power to levy taxes,” but the results of that power have been shown to benefit those in power, primarily, both in elected office and the subsidization of crony capitalist interests. This has led to the attitude of a paternalistic government with the mistaken belief that that property is granted at the behest of government and not individuals. In short, that we exist because government permits us to, not vice versa.

        “Fairness” is not a question for any particular ideology, rather it is the battleground on which things are decided..

        Then why use a vague term to evoke illogical emotionalism to incite class envy to justify theft? It appears that proponents of Progressive ideology use this term both flagrantly and flippantly, more often than not exempting themselves from the consequences of their own policies.

        I am loath to use the word “fair”, except in its context of the study and application of probability.

        You still have yet to both answer the question and provide justification for you answer.

        1. +1 Good response

        2. Charlie just got his ass handed to him. That is a mighty sharp scalpel you weld Groovus!

        3. No one got their “ass handed” … @Groovus may spin a decent yarn but it’s not accurate.

          A look at any spending pie chart will show you the largest outlays of our tax dollars go to:
          1. Social Security (this should be untouchable but it has not been so)
          2. Defense (we should not be spending as much as the next 20 nations combined, it’s absurd)
          3. Unemployment/Medicare

          We really should reduce defense spending by half. Disallow any dipping into our retirement funds in SS … this is where I get angry about crooks in a similar vein.

          As for what is “your property” vs. my property or the property of all … this is a very difficult thing to pin down in reality. Two hundred years ago it was a lot easier — these cows are mine, this land is mine, etc… but now that so much paper wealth is created by producing nothing, on the backs of working men and women, it’s very tricky indeed.

          I have a very tough time defining fair in this context as well. I lean on the side of curbing excessive wage gaps, believing in most of human kind, believing no one human is worth 100 or 10000 times the average (not to mention the lowest). I’m not all unicorns when it comes to people but things are way out of whack. For civilization to progress this must be addressed. Either you believe you are an island (which you are not) or you believe truly we are here together.

      2. “Fairness” is not a question for any particular ideology, rather it is the battleground on which things are decided.

        Yet, without fail, the port side simply begs the question when it declares that such and such is not “fair.”

        1. Ya know, if they got punched in the face every time they do that, they probably would learn to not just mindlessly shoot their mouths off about “fairness”.

          Absent that, I doubt we will ever hear the end of it.

    3. I like the definition of ‘fair’; what an individual belives is their moral obligation to society as a whole. I doubt giving the individual a role is out of the question.

      oh well…

  5. The average for all familes?

    Fuck Working Families. Let ’em pay 100% of the taxes. set the rate on individuals at zero.

  6. Hugo Chavez in a pant-suit.

    1. But even more stupid and ugly!

  7. Statistics — scam

    Very poor and distorted rebuttal to Clinton’s point.

    The “richest 20% of households” reaches way down below “the rich” as clinton was describing. Try using the richest 2% or 1% and see what you get. The top 6.37% earn roughly one third of all income. The top 0.01% of US earners account for 6% of total wages.

    The top 20% reaches all the way down to 90K a year, which, with 2 people working is hardly rich. 1.5% earn over 250K. I think that may be a resonable placement for the very low end of “rich”.

    1. while the top 1 percent of households earned 18.8 percent of income and paid 28.3 percent of taxes

      Way to RTFA.

    2. It still begs the question, why do we burden the people that produce? If you make 300k, you are putting back into society more money by far than someone making 30k. Hell, I practically am the sole support of a hispanic family of my gardener. Why is the common good the problem of the ones who produce the most? Tell me, why?

      1. More LOLCAT retardation…

        Yeah.. you BIG! producer you..

        What are you producing besides gas?

        1. Give it up, dude.

          Grow some balls and find a handle you want to keep.

          If you can’t find a reason to disagree, then leave or join us. First posted 5/21/10

        2. LOL! Charlie just ate his purple crayon and burped. He thought it would taste like grape.

        3. What do you know about what Greer produces, asswipe?

        4. Goods and services that my customers need, asshole.

          1. Make up your mind, people. Is he an asshole or an asswipe? I would argue that he’s both, and also perhaps…an assbag.

            1. And don’t forget ass-hat.

              1. Ass-hat is my second favorite ass+noun insult. Ass-clown is number one.

            2. I think there’s a scene in “Team America” that explains it all.

    3. “The top 6.37% earn roughly one third of all income.”

      Well, duh. That’s what puts them at the top: making a lot more than most people.

      That doesn’t mean other people have a right to their money.

  8. She’s right, the rich could afford to pay more taxes. Unfortunately liberals are so stupid and stuck on making themselves FEEL like they’ve accomplished it that they focus on the over all tax rate, as opposed to simplifying the tax code.

    Get rid of the exceptions that favor the rich. Like the 2nd house that you can right the interest off of. Or put caps on the price of goods and services that can be written off as business expenses; no more rich schmucks claiming their personal Mercedes is for “business purposes”. etc. etc.

    1. I can tell you’re not rich because you don’t know how to spell “write”.

      1. Goodness,

        Who knew the standard to become rich had to do with spelling?

        Oh.. retards…

        Dear Greer…. your name is nonsensical..

        back of the line mate..

        1. You know you’re in the wrong room, dont you? The DailyKos is down the hall, 3 doors to your right.

          1. Exactly, because this echo chamber belongs to you only.

            1. Re: your trolling

              I’m not impressed with your performance.

            2. Feeling rejected Usahnaim because nobody needs you? Awww. Maybe Ms. Toohey will put a band aid on it for you.

      2. Actually, it’s more indicative that he’s not rich that he thinks the mortgage interest deduction is a benefit. You may only deduct from your taxes the interest, which accrues value to your lender, you pay each year but cannot deduct the principal, which accrues value to you. So in that sense the deduction is more a benefit to the bank, as it encourages people to keep mortgages around so that they can keep paying interest.

        1. What are you, nuts? You can write off the interest of a mortgage – that benefits you. People who rent can’t write off jack shit from their rent.

          1. It might look that way in the short term, but it is not a benefit to you in the long term. Short term thinking is what got many Americans in the trouble they have been in with home ownership.

            In a thirty year mortgage, you essentially are renting for the first ten years or so, as you accumulate hardly any equity. You do get a sizable tax deduction during this time. But what often happens is the family needs to move so they have to sell, often at a bad time. Remember that you have to find someone willing to buy the house. If nobody will pay your asking price, you very well could end up making payments on a house you don’t even live in, which will negate your “benefit” very quickly. You may therefore instead decide to sell at a loss, which again may be sizable enough to wipe out anything saved from the interest deduction and then some. Oh, and don’t forget closing costs.

            With this deduction, one avoids paying taxes on the interest, meaning for every one thousand dollars paid, back comes three hundred bucks or so from the government. There is still a net loss of seven hundred dollars with literally nothing to show for it. There is no building wealth with this money, rather, the bank is building wealth.

            Now am I am not suggesting that nobody should own a home. Home ownership is a fabulous idea under the right circumstances. But thinking that a deduction for making someone else wealthy is a benefit to you makes it very likely that you will never have any real wealth. Indeed, it makes it more likely that you will end up like these poor people in recent years who have lost their homes.

  9. Everyone should pay an equal percent. Zero, or close to it.

  10. What is always overlooked in this debate is that the TRULY rich don’t have income. They have wealth. Taxing top wages doesn’t soak the rich, it soaks the people who are trying to GET rich.

      1. You SugarFree’d the link, wylie.

        1. I thought i was feelin sweet today…. Anyone who hasnt seen it and is interested or anyone who wants to see it again, will put the keywords into youtube. So w/e.

    1. Oh, they have income. But it is capital gains, taxed at 15%.

      Worse yet is the hedge fund managers, who only pay 15% on their EARNED income, by using a loophole called “carried interest”. Democrats have been trying to fix this forever, and Republicans keep DEFENDING THE GOD DAMNED LOOPHOLE.

      Heaven forbid that Warren Buffet pay the same tax rate as his secretary.

      1. Chad,

        For your education, carried interest is typically 20% of profits that an investment fund generates.

        So, if you invest $100 in my fund, and I double the value of your investment, you get $180 back, and I get $20 for my efforts.

        You only pay tax on the $80 you earned, and you only pay the capital gains rate. Why should I pay a higher rate on my share of the same profits?

        And as for Warren Buffett (with two T’s), you’re omitting the double taxation he faces as a shareholder. Having first paid a 35% tax on corporate earnings, he’s being taxed again at a lower rate on any dividends or capital gains. Add up the total tax he paid, and compare that to the average employee’s tax rate.

        1. Russ, I am not “forgetting” corporate tax. Rather, it is just unclear who actually pays it. Much if it gets passed on to consumers, and even workers within the firm. There is quite a bit of literature on this matter, and it highly depends on the industry and the nature of the firm.

          Yes, I know how hedgies get paid their 2-and-20. But carried interest is INCOME for services rendered, and should be taxed as such. Everyone who knows anything about this loophole but a few right-wing whackos knows this.

          So, if you invest $100 in my fund, and I double the value of your investment, you get $180 back, and I get $20 for my efforts

          I find this an interesting expression. How does it differ from

          So, if you invest $100 in my fund, and the value of your investment doubles, you get $180 back, and I get $20 for my efforts

          Shouldn’t the hedgie only be paid a portion of the profits that exceed what a blind monkey could have earned? And even then, don’t you run the danger of the hedgie earning this excess profit by hiding risk somewhere? A hedgie who could beat the market by 1% a year, but randomly wipe out the entire investment once a century, would likely look brilliant over the course of his career. As one great economist put it, these guys were picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. Frankly, there is little evidence that these people can consistently beat the market anyway…and if they do, it is probably an indication that they have an inside track of some sort.

          1. Shouldn’t the hedgie only be paid a portion of the profits that exceed what a blind monkey could have earned?

            Yes. That’s why hedge funds have performance benchmarks and high water marks. The whole idea is to pay for alpha (manager superiority), not beta (market return).

            And even then, don’t you run the danger of the hedgie earning this excess profit by hiding risk somewhere?

            Yes, and that’s never been a secret. There are risk-adjusted return metrics and investment mandates and so forth that give some insight into risk and appropriate strategies. But in practical terms there’s a huge disincentive for hedge funds to lose money, because then they have to crawl their way back to the HWM before they collect any more performance fees. And many managers have their own capital at stake in the first place.

            A hedgie who could beat the market by 1% a year, but randomly wipe out the entire investment once a century, would likely look brilliant over the course of his career.

            Yes, I’m sure prospective clients would be very impressed to learn his 10-year return was -100%. He’s a mutual fund manager, but beta-chaser extraordinaire Bill Miller beat the S&P for 15 straight years. He had a bad 2006-08, just enough to make 10-year returns below the S&P, and he’s on his way out after huge fund outflows.

            As one great economist put it, these guys were picking up pennies in front of a steamroller.

            A handful, sure. The ones who wrote deep OTM options on crap like equity futures and so forth are out of business. As a rule of thumb, though, the types that pick up pennies are convertible arbitrage, and in that case the downside is usually in pennies, too. Most funds aren’t like LTCM, which, of course, was run by famous economists.

            Frankly, there is little evidence that these people can consistently beat the market anyway…

            You mean like the last three years when they did a much better job of protecting assets than the equities, mutual funds, etc.? You know, even though 2008 was their worst year on record, they were down 18% vs the market’s 37%. Oh, and less volatility, too (which is the real point anyway).

            Besides, another value is that hedge funds are an alternative investment class that can be shown to have little correlation with other investments like equities, bonds, real estate, commodities, etc. (especially market-neutral and discretionary macro). Sure, a foundation’s stupid to throw 100% into one, but putting 5-10% into hedge funds can be a good idea.

            You won’t find disagreement from me that private equity partners’ and hedge fund managers’ carried interest is income for services rendered, but seriously, they’re manage a total valid investment vehicle and have in general performed admirably in growing capital while managing downside over the last few years.

            1. Amakudari|5.30.10 @ 10:52AM|#

              The whole idea is to pay for alpha (manager superiority), not beta (market return)

              Nice theory. In practice, these guys are getting paid for a lot of beta, some gamma, and a butt-load of omega. Lord knows if there was any alpha anywhere, and to honestly know if there were, you would need decades to sort it out, and in any case, it would likely be the result of inside information or access.

              Yes, and that’s never been a secret. There are risk-adjusted return metrics and investment mandates and so forth that give some insight into risk and appropriate strategies.

              How can they “adjust” for something they clearly cannot measure?

              But in practical terms there’s a huge disincentive for hedge funds to lose money, because then they have to crawl their way back to the HWM before they collect any more performance fees.

              No, a “huge disincentive” is the being financially obliterated and abject poverty, or better yet, a few headless bankers hanging from the gallows. Retiring to the Hamptons is not a huge disincentive for anything.

              And many managers have their own capital at stake in the first place.

              Not very much, obviously. See above.

              He’s a mutual fund manager, but beta-chaser extraordinaire Bill Miller beat the S&P for 15 straight years. He had a bad 2006-08, just enough to make 10-year returns below the S&P, and he’s on his way out after huge fund outflows.

              Let me guess…he is doomed to the ill fate of a Hamptons retirement, right?

              As a rule of thumb, though, the types that pick up pennies are convertible arbitrage, and in that case the downside is usually in pennies, too.

              Until it isn’t, and the whole damned thing blows up.

              You won’t find disagreement from me that private equity partners’ and hedge fund managers’ carried interest is income for services rendered, but seriously, they’re manage a total valid investment vehicle and have in general performed admirably in growing capital while managing downside over the last few years.

              I have no problem with hedge funds as an investment vehicle. However, the pay structures are utter garbage, and obviously, their income should be taxed as income.

              Frankly, I think we would be better off getting rid of the “capital gains” concept entirely, and instead treat all capital gains as normal income. To do so properly would require inflation adjustment of the basis, but this is not at all challenging technically with computers.

              1. Chad, I generally think that you’re full of shit.

                But on this issue you and I agree.

                A lot of the so called libertarians on this site are nothing more than inflationists.

                They hate big government and corporatism except where they benefit from it, then it’s the natural order of the universe.

                Fucking hypocrites.

                1. Just making sure this isn’t a response to me. I’m absolutely not pro-inflation, nor am I pro-corporatism. I’m also not a member of the hedge fund industry, but I’d rather defend an unloved but extremely important part of our financial system. Without hedge funds there to attack profligacy, fraud, recklessness, lies, and other things supported by governments and the other 98% of the financial industry and, I’m absolutely convinced you would see even more on those fronts. I defend the gross pay simply because it’s market-based (tax treatment is obviously not) and aligned with real incentives. More importantly, they’re probably the few actors in our financial system that don’t directly benefit from reckless fiscal policy or government largess.

                  The following is a great example of the societal value added by hedge funds (Hendry debating Stiglitz):

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4MAifsp-8E

                  At the very least, they add balance.

                  There’s another good one between Hendry and Jeffrey Sachs where Sachs accuses hedge funds of myopia about the Greek crisis, as it had only been around for a few weeks. Hendry asks whether he was skiing for the last several months. Goes well with popcorn.

              2. Nice theory. In practice, these guys are getting paid for a lot of beta, some gamma, and a butt-load of omega.

                Fascinating. Most hedge fund managers aren’t Soros, Paulson or Odey. Most funds are smaller than $25m (and the vast majority less than $100m), which means they get $500k per year from management fee revenue to pay for staff and overhead, and anything else comes from exceeding benchmarks. Sure, some asshats screwed over investors and retired to the Hamptons, but that’s hardly characteristic, especially of the non-billion dollar club. Besides, weren’t those guys Goldmanites anyway?

                As for beta, that’s the correlation of the fund with its benchmark. As a benchmark, you can use a factor model to approximate what returns one should expect, like what a typical manager should earn given a particular style or mandate.

                How can they “adjust” for something they clearly cannot measure?

                Seriously? Surely you could just Google “risk adjusted return” and pull up stuff like Sharpe ratios, Sortino ratios, VaR, scenario analysis, option Greeks, and so on. Yes, I’m 100% aware that no risk measure is perfect, but even simple things like those metrics and stress tests, limitations on leverage, maximum allowable losses, rebalancing requirements, etc. can help limit downside. Moreover, when we say that risk is hard to measure, it’s hardest before the fact, not after the fact.

                No, a “huge disincentive” is the being financially obliterated and abject poverty, or better yet, a few headless bankers hanging from the gallows. Retiring to the Hamptons is not a huge disincentive for anything.

                Classy. Maybe I need to preface this by saying that all parties involved when a pension blindly invests illions in some ex-Goldman 30-something (“but he’s a Harvard MBA!”) to make leveraged bets on CDOs are damn stupid, but this caricature is absolutely irrelevant for 95% of the folks in the industry.

                Let me guess…he is doomed to the ill fate of a Hamptons retirement, right?

                Well, he’s a mutual fund manager, so it’s safe to assume he has almost none of his money in the fund he manages. My point was merely that no one gives a damn about decades of good performance if you’ve had a few years of bad.

                Until it isn’t, and the whole damned thing blows up.

                No. In conv arb you buy the convertible bond and sell the underlying stock short. If the market declines, you’re hedged. If interest rates go crazy, you’re hedged. If we decide to socialize everything, you still lose 100% on the bond and gain 100% on the short. You profit from taking advantage of illiquidity in the convertible bond market. The entire point behind arbitrage is that the risks are negligible or at least highly manageable, and you can eek out a little profit. Sure, everything’s blow-up-able, but you really, really have to work hard. Like LTCM taking on 250 times their capital in derivatives hard.

                Lord knows if there was any alpha anywhere, and to honestly know if there were, you would need decades to sort it out, and in any case, it would likely be the result of inside information or access.

                From a simple statistical viewpoint using a 1-5% confidence interval, you can tell with reasonable certainty after 5 years or so. I can get into the math and its caveats, but that’s probably boring.

                the pay structures are utter garbage

                In a vacuum, I’d agree. But in the real world, if you find a manager with his personal wealth in the fund, it’s one of the few pay structures that’s actually tightly aligned with investors’ interests.

                Frankly, I think we would be better off getting rid of the “capital gains” concept entirely, and instead treat all capital gains as normal income. To do so properly would require inflation adjustment of the basis, but this is not at all challenging technically with computers.

                Pretty much agree, as long as there’s some way to exempt people up to an absolute level. 401(k)s and IRAs do the job now, although I think it’s a completely inefficient reallocation of wealth to the mutual fund industry.

          2. “Russ, I am not “forgetting” corporate tax. Rather, it is just unclear who actually pays it. Much if it gets passed on to consumers, and even workers within the firm.”

            ALL “corporate tax” ends up getting passed on to consumers! Corporations don’t magically create their money. The only way they get money to pay taxes on in the first place is to sell things to consumers. If they have a tax load, they factor that into their pricing structure. They may choose to partially offset the tax burden by not giving raises or cutting benefits, but in the end, all the money comes from the consumer. Corporate taxes are a smokescreen that hides an additional tax burden on individuals, no matter how you slice it.

            1. Wrong:

              http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter……56532.html

              Economists actually disagree pretty strongly about who ultimately pays, but it is some mix of workers, consumers, and the owners of the business.

              1. Okay, please explain the source of this money if it is not the customers of the business. The owners do not have any money if they do not move products, which requires customers. The employees do not have jobs. I am at a loss to understand how businesses get money if not from customers. Please explain.

              2. And while I’m at it, your contention that it’s some blend of the owners, the workers, and customers that pay pretty much admits that it is individuals, not “corporations” that actually pay taxes. Therefore, let’s call it what it is, a tax on individuals, which, if you recall, was my point. To quote the webpage that you cite:

                “Individuals bear the burden of corporate taxes in one of three ways: as owners of capital who get a lower return on their investment, as workers who receive lower wages, or as consumers who pay higher prices.”

                1. I agree. It is self-evident that real people pay all taxes, not fictional entities.

                  When corporations are taxed, they regain some of the money by raising prices and some by cutting wages. The owners eat the rest. It gets really complicated once you start looking at international trade, in which case money also flows overseas.

                  The final quotation of yours is my sentiment exactly. Note that it stands in direct contradiction to your earlier assertion that “consumers” pay all corporate taxes.

                  1. No, it doesn’t, as the customers of the business are still the source of all the capital in the end.

                    1. Corporations and the wealthy have no moral right to the fruit of their labors or their property. We must confiscate and transfer this to “its rightful owners.” Profits BAD! Opulence and ostentation BAD! Corporations must be allowed only to keep for themselves the same rate of pay what they pay their workers and rest dispersed across the board (excepting me, of course)!

      2. My main problem with a capital gains tax in the way it’s suggested, is it makes the stock market unfair. The stock market is a risk, and if you are taking that risk of losing money, it is not fair that if you win, some of it will be taking. I almost feel that if the government is going to take some of your winnings, it ought to subsidize some of your loses. I’m conflicted about it though, because if we’re going to have an income tax, it ought to apply regardless of how you make your money.

        1. taking=taken

        2. I almost feel that if the government is going to take some of your winnings, it ought to subsidize some of your loses.

          You do get a tax write-off on investment losses, though.

          1. …but you can only deduct up to $3000 that year, you can then carry that loss over to the next year(s) until that loss is used up..

      3. Asshole Buffet can pay as much extra as he likes. Same with all the whinig rich liberals But hey Chad….fuck you!

      4. It’s always nice when the social progressives come out and show their true colors.

        WHO THE FUCK CARES CHAD? How would gouging Warren Buffet make your life any better?

        Yes, he has cash. He also knows how to manage it. He also knows how to create jobs. It’s not like he sits on a chair of cash, eats off a table of cash and uses a toilet of cash inside a mansion made of cash. He is actively investing into the economy which benefits everyone, and drawing in some monetary benefit while he does it.

        Or do you want to take his money so the government can decide the best way to use it?

        Cripes man, step back a little and defumigate your brain.

    2. Which is why consumption, and not income, needs to be taxed. Income is the fruit of my labor. Consumption is a choice.

      1. Well said.

  11. Paying in a lot more than you get out? That doesn’t seem fair.

    SEE!!!!1!1!1one They’re NOT paying their fair share.

    (No one specified who the “fairness” was benefiting in the original question.)

    1. >>>SEE!!!!1!1!1one

      haha

  12. You’re reading too much nuance into Hillary’s words. She is one of the people in the administration that gets hour-by-hour reports on the euro meltdown. She sees what it means to the Liberal Project in America.

    So to translate from her class-warfare mouthings: We spent all the money buying votes and paying off our cronies. GIVE US MO MONEY.”

    1. What is funniest about her whole “the rich don’t pay their fare share” is the part where she says that we should use Brazil as an economic model on which we should base our tax system.

      She has quite the sense of humor.

  13. Taxes? Who really gives a shit about taxes? Taxes, at the federal level, mean nothing. They could cut everybody’s taxes to zero, and we would still be taxed. The tax would be in the devaluation of the USD caused by the relentless printing of money. Taxes merely offset the negative effects of perennial monetary inflation.

  14. I read a statistic in the Economist magazine “Buttonwood” column several months ago. The share of US income taxes paid by the top earners in the US significantly increased between the early 1980’s and 2006. You would think this fact disproves the notion that the “rich” had a free ride under the Reagan and Bush tax cuts. Incredibly, though, the statistic was cited as proof of growing “inequality” in America.

    1. How DARE you invoke TEH REAGAN and TEH SHRUB’S TAX CUTS! Ananthema! How dare you suggest that a rising tide lifts all boats! What does Paul Krugman have to say about this!?

      Number 2, Progressive would suggest you are full of shit! HA!

      1. I’m hungry

    2. The share of US income taxes paid by the top earners in the US significantly increased between the early 1980’s and 2006.

      Yes, but there are other taxes besides income taxes, and they tend to fall on the poor and middle class more than the rich. They have risen.

      1. Perhaps they should be lowered.

        1. What a novel idea!

    3. Number2: Did the article look at ALL taxes, or just income taxes?

      Did it also note how the rich were obtaining a far larger fraction of the income pool in the first place? If the “rich” go from earning 10% of the income and paying 15% of the taxes to earning 20% of the income and paying 18% of the taxes, no one would argue that this was unfair to the rich (except a libertarian).

      1. Oh come on! That logic comes from the false notion that the “rich” earning 20% means that others have to earn less.

        When the “rich” earn a larger percent of the income pool they do this by increasing the value of that income pool, through new innovations, better services, and more efficient use of resources.

        It makes absolutely no sense to punish the people responsible for making our lives so much easier, safer, and happier, nor does it make sense to take money from people who are extremely poor.

        So in conclusion it doesn’t make sense to take anybody’s money, taxes are theft when they are taken using force, and our taxes are taken by force. If you don’t believe that our taxes are taken by force then try not paying them and see what happens

        1. Oh come on! That logic comes from the false notion that the “rich” earning 20% means that others have to earn less

          No, the false notion is yours: your insane belief that every time someone increases their wealth, there is no possible way that it could have come at anyone else’s expense. In reality, one persons gain is almost always someone else’s usually-slightly-smaller loss. The world might be a better place if some alteration of the economic system resulted in you losing nine bucks and Bob gaining ten. But that sure doesn’t change the fact that you lost nine. And of course, if Bob happens to be a billionaire, the world is actually a worse place despite his larger nominal gain.

          1. Economics is a zero-sum game. All economic transactions are predatory, therefore theft.

            1. Nothing new can be created!!!!! Hur-durr.

      2. I wouldn’t argue that it’s unfair because “unfair” is meaningless unless you are willing to define the terms of fair. To explain what you mean by it.

        But you’re not going to do that are you Chad?

        In fact you can’t. It is intentionally meaningless in this context. You don’t use the word for its meaning, you use it for its effect.

  15. Paying in a lot more than you get out? That doesn’t seem fair.

    Uh, uh, uh.

  16. Edwin actually said something which almost makes sense.

    I feel woozy.

    1. which comment are you talking about preytell?

      and what the hell is that supposed to mean? In case you morons haven’t figured, I am a libertarian, I’m just not a religious ascetic about it. For example, with the Civil Rights Act. Numerous writers have written about how Rand Paul was wrong on the CRA. Are we all not libertarians because we refuse to fall for your ham-handed approach to EFFECTIVELY producing a world that respects liberty and property rights?

  17. What is always overlooked in this debate is that the TRULY rich don’t have income. They have wealth.

    Unfortunately, some people believe this requires the government to inventory the possessions of those evil wealthy bastards, and assess a tax on the “fair market value” of all their stuff.

    As we all know, refusing to share your wealth is a hate crime. And not wanting an IRS “valuation expert” to go through the contents of your safe deposit box is unmutual.

    1. unmutual

      Once again, wheres Barfman when you need him.

  18. LOL, of course they dont. Money attracts money!

    Lou
    http://www.online-privacy.de.tc

  19. As long as force, fraud and favoritism exist, progressive taxation is the fee that richer people pay the state to maintain their position and to keep poorer people in line. Fair doesn’t enter into it.

    For the taxes they pay, richer people are blessed by the state with barriers to entry to their competitors, arcane tax breaks, eminent domain outrages, etc. They even get a special security line at the airport. Since they receive better services from the state, they ought to pay the freight.

    1. They do. Even under a flat tax, a person who makes 10x as much would pay 10x more. They pay more than their fair share. It’s not like Bill Gates gets to drive on fancier roads than I do.

      1. You ignored the point. Not that I am surprised that you did so.

        1. Actually, you don’t get the point. You might try retaking 6th grade math.

    2. If this is what you believe then why aren’t you for less taxes and less government in general? Wouldn’t the solution to your proposed scenario be to shrink the government until it could no longer keep the poor down?

  20. What are you all talking about?

    As far as am concerned government shouldn’t tax income AT ALL.

    It’s none of their God damned business how much I make.

    Tax consumption, that’s MUCH MORE FAIR, and much more pro-growth versus taxing income.

    Remember there was a time when there was no federal income tax in this country, for most of it’s history in fact.

    1. Word.

    2. If you wish to live in the 19th Century, I invite you to create a time machine and take yourself hence.

      A consumption tax benefits the rentier class at the expense of the masses so I am not surprised that you would support it. Yes, let’s do replace progressive taxes with regressive taxes. It will be so conducive to social peace.

      1. If you wish to live in the 19th Century, I invite you to create a time machine and take yourself hence.

        Whooooaaaaaa, slow down. You really want people who disagree with you to travel back in time? How does that work in your favor, ever?

        1. It seemed the apt response to one who appears to think it was so awesome back in the olden days.

        2. That idea is…excellent.

    3. That simply makes too much sense. It would undermine the power of the political class. You can talk about medical care, immigration, and limited government all you want, but until that changes it will be business as usual except worse.
      Even if you’re a true patriot making half a million a year and absolutely delighted with your tax bill, your patriotism is squandered. Spending will have to stop.

  21. A consumption tax benefits the rentier class at the expense of the masses so I am not surprised that you would support it. Yes, let’s do replace progressive taxes with regressive taxes. It will be so conducive to social peace.

    Social peace? As in, give us your money or we won’t even call it taxes when we steal it from you?

    Just guessing here but any chance that incurable envy was the reason for your apostasy?

    1. Social Peace. That’s exactly how it works. You stomp on the little people long enough and they turn on you, the ungrateful bastards. They’ll laugh as they sack your estate and burn more than they steal the dirty proles.

      It wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so damn many of them. Still, if you toss them some crumbs they remain docile enough, if still a threat. So, toss them some damn crumbs.

      Envy. It’s not envy of the rich and powerful but a fear that they’ll overreach as humans always do. Then see the above as to what the hoi polloi do. You do have some conception of human nature and human history, don’t you?

      Oh, and as to why I am an apostate it was simply that it became impossible to reconcile human history with the concept of a just or benevolent G-d. Insanely wrathful and jealous, maybe, but certainly not just or benevolent.

      1. Apostate Jew|5.29.10 @ 6:52PM|#
        “Social Peace. That’s exactly how it works. You stomp on the little people long enough and they turn on you, the ungrateful bastards. They’ll laugh as they sack your estate and burn more than they steal the dirty proles.”

        So taxes are a ‘protection racket’ to keep us free from harm?
        Uh, are you French?

        1. Not we but those who have made arrangements to their advantage.

          I am not French but your fear of a no-account, former world power is revealing.

      2. It’s not envy of the rich and powerful but a fear that they’ll overreach as humans always do.

        Ah, you give yourself away. Sure, if the rich overreach it is the end of the world but if the poor overreach, the rich had it coming, French Revolution style? But it isn’t envy? Sure it isn’t.

        1. If you beat a dog and he bites you whose is to blame?

          1. Funny you should say that, considering how you commie traitors have been beating on “the rich” for years and yet you still expect them to be nice to you greedy mammon-worshiping sons o’ bitches and give you jobs! I hope they “bite” you hard!

            In view of God’s having had to put up with the hypocritical bitching and moaning of faithless shitbags like you, suddenly everything he ever did to the likes of you in the Old Testament makes perfectly good sense, as does sending people as nice as you are to Hell. In the meantime, I think we should do our part and have you consigned to a special death camp your fellow commies did us the service of setting up right here in the USA without even meaning to.

          2. If you beat a dog and he bites you whose is to blame?

            Beat? How does making myself rich hurt others? As long as I earn it honestly, it doesn’t. In fact, because I either save or spend that profit, I benefit others while still acting in self-interest. Adam Smith called it the “Invisible Hand”.

            If you are a piece of shit and I am not, who is to blame?

      3. The biggest obstacle to “social peace” is the constant class warefare that the left engages in and the economic ignorance of the “poor”.

        1. *high five*

          Educating the “poor” on where the government assistance money they get comes from(motherfucking taxes)is a huge first step.

  22. The best thing in this article IS 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.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  23. The way I see it, if you make your income from the sweat of your own brow you should keep it. If you run a company like Halliburton that gets all kinds of kickbacks and contracts paid for by the taxpayer then the government is right to get some return on the investment. Ideally the government shouldn’t be engaging in corporate subsidies, but if companies belly up to the trough they should give back.

  24. For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA.

    Egad!

  25. The guys chart on federal income tax only applies to income taxes. All social security taxes are paid by folks making under an earned income level of around $104k/year. After that they folks get a 6% tax cut. The very top income earners and holders of majortity of American wealth do not pay earned income taxes. The money is from rents, interest and dividends. That is why an investment banker making a few million a year pays around 15% income taxes.

    If you no tax clowns would do some research of ecnomic booms in this country with comaparison income tax rates your will find our biggest booms came when tax rates were as high as 90% on the most rich.

    1. I agree. Focusing on the federal income tax, which is one of the few parts of our tax system that are significantly progressive, is utterly dishonest.

      FICA taxes are highly regressive.
      Sales taxes are regressive.
      Excise taxes are wildy regressive.
      Property taxes are mildly regressive.

      In contrast, corporate taxes are mildly progressive, inheritance taxes wildly progressive (but very small), and income taxes progressive.

      Add it all up, and you get mildly progressive. I think the rich can handle it.

      1. I think the rich can handle it.

        And therein lies the problem. People thinking that other people are obligated to take care of yet other people.

        Who the fuck are you or anyone else for that matter to say that one “can handle it” therefore they should have to pay more?

        1. oh, I don’t know, people who aren’t selfish pigs that try to drape their selfish piggishness in principles of individual liberty (when in reality they’re just classist and occasionally racist assholes with no regard for those less fortunate)?

          1. This made me think of two of my “progressive” friends.

            One of them wears Versace frames. The other wears $200 True Religion jeans. But they support progressive taxation! So they aren’t selfish, like those awful libertarians!

      2. Chad|5.29.10 @ 6:38PM|#
        “Add it all up, and you get mildly progressive. I think the rich can handle it.”

        Several years ago, a brand-new Toyota pick-up truck stopped in front of me at the light and I saw a bumper-sticker: “Eat the Rich”.
        The car I was driving was worth less than that pick-up, and so was (*is*) the net worth of a good bit of the world’s population. I’ll presume the brain-dead (Chony?) driver considered him/her-self ‘poor’.
        So, Chony, since you are “the Rich” how much are you volunteering?
        Or, are you suggesting others are “rich” because they make more? And, of course, the threshold would *always* be just a bit more than you make, right, asshole?

        1. How do you know he wasn’t a Motorhead fan?

        2. Wrong, Ron. As I have said many times, I deliberately overpay my taxes every year (by a four digit number that I don’t calculate, as it consists mostly of not itemizing deductions that I could otherwise claim), precisely because I believe people like me should pay more taxes.

          Lately, I even started buying lottery tickets, at the pace of ~$10/week. I realized I wasn’t doing anything about the lack of state taxes I was paying, and figured this was a fun way to donate ~$5/week to my home state (assuming I eventually will get half of what I buy returned as winnings).

          1. You overpay your taxes??!

            That’s easily the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Contest fkn closed.

            1. If you think it is stupid for me to practice what I preach, I think it is you who has the problem.

            2. You overpay your taxes??!

              Chad is full of shit, so you have to read between the lines. He didn’t claim that he figured out what he owed and added to it. Only that he didn’t claim as many deductions as he could have.

              He didn’t itemize because it is so much work. So, instead of utilizing tax benefits, because it takes effort, he instead files EZ and then claims that he did it for “the poor” instead of because he couldn’t figure out the forms, or didn’t want to go to the trouble. Saving himself time and effort at tax time AND “helping the needy” at the same time!

              1. My taxes are pretty complicated, but I do them by hand for fun (though I do double check with turbotax, and keep sure everything is square between the two, or at least that I understand any discrepancy).

                I do not record my charitable deduction, nor do I track it explicity. However, it would typically amount to about 1.5% of my income, perhaps 2%. This is my donation to the government.

                You are right, though, that I am smart enough to kill two birds with one stone. Not tracking this deduction saves me time.

          2. Fuck yeah, Chad! I’ll go a step further even and say that you should donate all remaining disposable income to the Homeless Deaf(Insert Favorite Ethnic Minority Here) Midgets Who Ride Upon Magical Unicorns Fund to make things even. That’ll show those rich,evil, poor hating bastards who don’t pay their fair share!

          3. “As I have said many times, I deliberately overpay my taxes every year (by a four digit number that I don’t calculate…”

            Ha.

            Chad is a bald faced liar.

      3. Add it all up, and you get mildly progressive.

        You are aware that you cannot average averages, right?

        1. But you can average weighted averages, and that is precisely what I was talking about…which should have been obvious from how I noted that inheritance taxes are small beans.

    2. Watch the video, Gillespie explicitly states that the numbers he cites include income, payroll, excise and corporate taxes.

    3. I can understand why you call taxes that increase to higher proportions of income “progressive”, they get progressively more unfair the more you make. What I don’t get is why liberals choose “regressive” as a synonym for fairer. As in, paying the same for the same service, as you do if you shop at Barnes and Noble. Maybe Barnes and Noble should charge me more for a book if I make more money. I mean, their practice is outrageously “regressive.”

      As a physician and business owner, I am well into the top bracket. For federal and state income tax, I pay 41%. Your assumption that top 1% or 2% income people get off and pay less than others is ridiculous. It is disproven by government statistics published year after year.

      The $106,800 income cap on FICA contribution is because this was not meant to be a big redistribution scheme, but rather a contribution to for a personal benefit (Medicare and social security).

      Someone who makes $60k pays much less FICA tax than someone who makes $106,800. A person who makes $200,000 pays the same FICA tax as someone who makes $106,800. Given that the person who makes $200k is likely not going to receive any more Medicare/SS benefits than the person making $108,600, this is probably best referred to as “more fair than overage” rather than “highly regressive.”

      Personally, I think that authoritarian leftist policies are regressive. The things that advance the human species – innovation, discovery, new and better products, etc – are encouraged by a system in which reward occurs. You 90% tax rate utopia is not such a system. You will achieve homogenization of outcome and everyone will be as driven, passionate, and innovative as the desk lady at the drivers license office. Your plan is poison to advancement of the human species. Many countries have gone down the road that you advocate. Please point out the socialist countries that lead the world economies, produce the products that everyone else wants, and scientifically innovate at a much higher rate than the US. Surely, after all of their years of enlightened social policy which you say is the key to nirvana, they must have greatly outdistanced this inferior capitalist lower tax nation by now, right? After all, our greatest boom periods correspond to 90% taxation rates, right? So they must have been booming for decades and left us in the dust. Maybe they are just keeping their incredible vibrant economies, flying cars, and scientific advancements secret from us until we are ready to embrace socialism, then they’ll let us in on the secret. I bet this eurozone economic fiasco is completely fabricated to throw us off the scent of socialist enlightenment.

      1. I am a self-employed business owner who earned approximately $100k in income last year. I paid 41% of my income in federal tax, 15% in payroll taxes, and 5% in state taxes – so, roughly 60% of my net gone off the top. That left me with about $40k, from which I paid $32k to 2 part time nannies. Net down to $8k. Pretty difficult to justify time away from my children with that paycheck. Another business shutters.

        1. Too funny clown.

          Let’s assume you’re 40 and married and your spouse doesn’t work, 2 kids, 14 and 12, and you paid you 32k in child car expenses. Use any quick calculator online – your federal income tax burder is around 8k. That’s 8%. And that assumes standard deduction – no mortage, donations, etc.

          Your total tax burden is less than 30% – not anywhere near 60%.

          Clown.

    4. Ah, so today the lefties are arguing that FICA is a tax and not an insurance premium?

      The level one pays into FICA is directly connected to the level of benefit one receives. There are no benefits above the maximum income taxed.

      Also keep inmind that the USA has soem of the highest corporate and capital gains tax rates in the industrialized world, to our competitive disadvantage.

  26. It is perfectly logical that those who have benefitted the most from our system pay the greatest share to support it. Those making the most money have benefitted the most, and therefore should pay a higher percentage.

    As to those who produce the most being rewarded the most, that would be a good reason to increase the wages of American labor since they continue to increase productivity.

    The only millionaire I know who earns his salt (granted I don’t know many) works every day alongside his crew, gets his hands greasy, runs equipment, pays great wages, and sits down with the boys for a beer at end of day.

    Oh, and I never heard him whine about paying his “fair share”.

    Get over it and realize that nobody is going to miss your whiny butt when you go to the big tax haven in the sky.

    1. Get over it and realize that nobody is going to miss your whiny butt when you go to the big tax haven in the sky.

      Actually, all of the looting pieces of shit will miss us, of course. Once the host dies, what is left for the parasite?

    2. Pardon me, but wouldn’t the ones who have benefited the most from the system be the ones who pay essentially no taxes at all but still get all of the benefits? If you pay the lion’s share of taxes, you get the same roads and whatnot as do those who pay less, but you also receive less government handouts. Seems as though you’ve got it backwards mate.

      It is absolutely ridiculous for you to claim that somehow the success of those who make high incomes is due to being some kind of random beneficiary of the system. Maybe that makes you feel better about taking their property away from them…after all, if they only happened to hit the lotto of the system, they didn’t really deserve any of that success, now did they?

    3. Those making the most money have a product or service that is most in demand. That is not a reward. It is simply that they have a product or service that people want/need and are willing to pay for.

      The market has decided on a reimbursement rate for those people relative to other workers. The neurosurgeon makes more than the refrigerator repair guy who makes more than the burger flipper. Although occasionally arbitrary, it is more often a meritocracy.

      The neurosurgeon did not win a lottery; he or she deferred income until the 4th decade of life; sacrificed to excel through college, medical school, and sub-specialty training; and works 80 hour weeks to satisfy demand for services. Because few are able or willing to provide the services, but the services are very necessary/desired for those who need them, that individual makes more income.

      Oh, but didn’t the government fund some research studies at some time that make the neurosurgeon able to do his work, blah blah blah. Maybe they did. Maybe the Austrian government funded a study too. Should the neurosurgeon pay taxes to Austria? The whole idea that the government deserves credit for the success of individuals is so bewilderingly stupid. Most successful individuals are that way IN SPITE OF federal government, rather than because.

      Many times the wealthy get less service from government, not more. When their income is noted, many services paid for by taxes are charged again. For example, one of my kids needed sessions with a speech pathologist, normally paid by the county from my taxes. But because my income was above a threshold, I got to pay full price for a service that most get “free,” even though my tax contribution is well above average.

      I don’t understand why liberals want a behemoth, overbearing federal government. Did you like the giant, invasive government when it was in George W. Bush’s hands? Did you like his policies? If not, why are you fighting so desperately to expand the invasiveness and authority of government over your own life? Is government that infallible, perfect, wonderful, and better suited to make your decisions than you are? Did you feel that way 4 years ago?

      1. You are using surgeons as your example? A group who is protected from competition by a government-sponsored licensing cartel?

        *facepalm*

        1. Is that your best rebuttal?

          The federal government does not license neurosurgeons. State governments license doctors.

          State government licenses most professionals – lawyers, physicians, engineers, etc. Your “point” seems to be that a libertarian should not believe in professional licensure. I could support that as long as appropriate non-governmental medical and professional boards took over policing their ranks. It would essentially amount to the same thing. No hospital will give privileges to a neurosurgeon who is not board certified/board eligible.

          You have the option, right now, of becoming a neurosurgeon. All that is required is that you take the required courses, achieve scores 3 standard deviations above the norm, finish medical school at the top of your class, and finish a residency. There is nothing stopping you but your own motivation. After you finish the appropriate college work, it only takes 12 years to begin your career. NOTHING is preventing you.

          I am not arguing that people who are paid less don’t work hard. They often do. However, the combination of their talents, motivation, and financial/social situation have placed them into a job for which the supply of qualified workers is higher than the demand for services. Those workers have the option of modifying their talents, motivation, and situation in order to obtain a more in-demand job, or work hard to potentiate their children to be in such a position.

          It should be up to the individual how successful they want to be. Not the federal government.

          1. There is a difference between engineers and lawyers vs doctors: the number of seats in the schools is limited by the AMA. THAT is the critical distinction, and is what causes American doctors, particularly specialists, to be overpaid relative to other professions and their international peers.

            Btw, I am a research scientist with a PhD, which takes about the same time to earn as a medical degree (4 years undergrad, 5 years to get the PhD, and 1-2 years of practically mandatory post-doc). So outside of the loan issue, which can easily be adjusted for by a simple mortgage calculator, there isn’t really any reason to expect that doctors should get paid more than scientists, other than the obvious fact that scientists operate in a competitive market and doctors do not. Guess what? The pay discrepancy is large, even after adjusting for the loans. Of course, specialists have even longer schooling and larger loans, but again, this can be figured out with your standard amortization tables. Assuming a 50% tax rate, a doctor needs to earn about $35000 per year, plus an extra $10000 per year for each year of residency dedicated to their speciality, in order to cover sufficient loans to pay for school and live a professional-class lifestyle while doing so. Scientists average $100-110 mid career salaries, and starting salaries around $80, implying that specialists should be seeing numbers from the mid 100s to lower 200s, depending on speciality, experience, and location. They often make much more than this.

            I find it funny when I hear doctors complaining that if they don’t get their “doc fix” bill passed, they will quit. Ask them “quit and do what?” and they just stare, because there is nothing that pays anywhere near what they are used to lying in wait for them.

            1. “there isn’t really any reason to expect that doctors should get paid more than scientists,”

              Yes there is: doctors render completely different services than scientists do.

              1. Grocery store cashiers and burger flippers render completely different services, but they should and do receive similar pay, because the required education and skills are similar, as are the working conditions.

                Without the artificial barriers to the number of doctors, people who choose other careers such as law, business, science, or engineering would instead chose medicine, driving down prices until they equilibrate. Large portions of the members of any of these professions have the aptitude necessary for being successful in some of the others.

                1. OF course, you realize that would involve decreasing government regulatory controls and the guild power of the AMA. Instead, you supported the Dem’s health care plan which increases both.

                  You don’t make much sense.

                2. “Without the artificial barriers to the number of doctors, people who choose other careers such as law, business, science, or engineering would instead chose medicine, driving down prices until they equilibrate.”

                  Yes, as clearly legal services are dirt cheap, since there is a glut of law school graduates.

                3. Why should they Chad? How do you decide what a person earns and doesn’t earn?

            2. You sound like many of my science professors in med school. The were all mad because despite of all their education physicians would make more than them. I don’t know what your research field is, Chad, but I doubt very seriously that if you make a mistake anyone dies. Nobody is going to sue you. You’ll never have to sit in front of a family and tell them their 14 year old son is never coming home. In other words, you seem to me to be primarily motivated by envy on this issue.

              As for what a physician could quit and do, it seems to me that most of us have the ability to do many things outside of medicine. I have been a salesman, a financial planner, and a business manager. I could go back to any of those careers, or maybe start a new one.

              By the way, the reason the doctors would quit is because they would not get paid enough to cover their costs. Not enough coming in to offset costs = out of business!

              By the way, Chad, residencies are funded by the federal government. If we increase the number of medical school positions, the number of practicing physicians will still be limited by the number of residency slots. Your AMA boogeyman can’t get even basic tort reform or any other legislation that might benefit doctors passed, so I doubt seriously that they’re as powerful as you seem to think.

              1. There is no difference between a rock, a snail, a rat, and a boy. Doctors are paid too much! Especially those evil specialists!

              2. I agree, CP, that the number of residencies would have to increase to match the number of new med students. That is rather obvious.

                You “may have been” a salesman, financial planner, and a business manager, but by mid-career, a scientist usually is all of those at once. It is just part of the job. Most PhD scientists, by their forties, aren’t doing science themselves anymore, but managing those who do while managing the business or division, chasing sales and new markets, and keeping up with the IP and literature deluge.

                My point is simply that many of the people in law, medicine, science and other professional careers are interchangable. Lifetime wages should be roughly equal, because if they weren’t, some people in (or considering as students) the lower paying careers would move to the higher paying ones…if there were no barriers to entry.

                1. Chad, could you compile a list of jobs and the proper salaries each deserves? I think our top economists really need to see this.

                  1. I’m already on it heller!

                  2. Heller: similar jobs that require similar aptitude and years of education should result in similar pay. If there are pay discrepancies, either there is some important distinction in working conditions, or some artificial barriers to entry. You cannot possibly believe that doctors do not face severe barriers to entry which affect wages.

                    1. Why should those be the only factors Chad? The actual services and products produced by those jobs should also be considered as equal, if not more important, factors.

    4. “Those making the most money have benefitted the most, and therefore should pay a higher percentage.”

      Of course this says nothing about Hilary’s assertion that the rich are “unfairly” not paying enough.

  27. Brain-dead anecdotal alert!:

    rm2muv|5.29.10 @ 6:27PM|#
    “It is perfectly logical that those who have benefitted the most from our system pay the greatest share to support it. Those making the most money have benefitted the most, and therefore should pay a higher percentage.”

    Yeah, and when you drop the politics of envy, get back to us.

    1. OK, get back to us when you drop the politics of greed.

      1. Correlation does not equal relationship. That I have prospered while under a certain system of government does not necessarily mean that the system was the main reason, or even a reason, for my prosperity.

      2. Also, the political principle that everyone is entitled to equal freedom is not greedy. Your use of this slanderous propaganda label only proves your ignorance.

      3. No. Greed can be constructive. Envy is only destructive.

  28. Its all about how one defines fairness. Personally, if I were earning a million bucks a year, I wouldn’t begrudge paying a higher percentage of my income in taxes compare to the guy earning 60k/yr.

  29. I was tempted to vote for McGovern. He said no one needed more than $15,000.00 year, so over that should be taxed at 100%. Based on that I would quit work in August.

  30. I feel like Tony should be on this thread

  31. ‘Top Kill’ Fail ,s oil gushing
    OBAMA,O MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE,THE END OF DAYS,GOD HELP US. 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.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  32. If you no tax clowns would do some research of ecnomic booms in this country with comaparison income tax rates your will find our biggest booms came when tax rates were as high as 90% on the most rich.

    Right. Clear causation; case closed.

    1. No, not “clear causation”, but rather “pretty damned good evidence that the any theory that predicts the reverse correlation is either untrue or practically irrelevant”.

      Since libertarians scream and scream again that taxes kill the economy, pointing out how the economy was growing faster under high marginal tax rates for the rich, or alternatively, how the economy utterly sucks today, under the lowest tax rates in generations, pretty much shoots everything you guys have been saying down with, you know, FACTS.

      The simple truth is that there is no obvious relationship between economic performance and any reasonable tax rates.

      1. Chad, I’m sure you don’t want to be disabused of this conceit, but if you look up Jim Manzi, you will find an excellent analysis of why you are wrong. The prosperity during that era of high marginal taxation was an anomaly.

        1. Citation please. I can’t find what you are talking about. Manzi is a member of a right-wing think tank and writes about all sorts of things, but I haven’t been able to find anything related to what you are talking about.

          I doubt whatever you are going to cite is peer-reviewed, too…right?

          1. http://www.nationalaffairs.com…..ricas-edge

            But I’m sure it is asking too much for you to read it and consider it. I previously shared this with someone as, if not more liberal than you – and he got it; that the specific era of prosperity and high marginal tax rates was a fluke, not a normal condition.

            Or, you can continue in denial of reality. If I had to bet, I’d take the under here.

  33. The simple truth is that there is no obvious relationship between economic performance and any reasonable tax rates.

    How about the relationship between the size and scope of the federal budget and economic performance?

    1. Citation, please.

  34. Lately, I even started buying lottery tickets, at the pace of ~$10/week. I realized I wasn’t doing anything about the lack of state taxes I was paying, and figured this was a fun way to donate ~$5/week to my home state (assuming I eventually will get half of what I buy returned as winnings).

    Another reason to never take you seriously.

    1. No, as a former convenience store clerk that is close to the typical rate of return on lottery tickets given a mix of 10-1 dollar tickets from the various available games.

      Matching a few of the numbers gets your dollar back, a few more 10 dollars. With daily play, people got close to 50% of their cost back which was then used to buy more lottery tickets.

  35. It’s always funny to see folks here hate on people that think the tax code should be “more fair.” This is because they think taxation itself is “unfair.”

    If you think fairness is a silly concept then don’t complain about any of our current policies as being wrong or unjust (just other words for “not fair”).

    1. Dude, I have no problem with progressive taxation; it has de minimus negative exertnalities* and definite positve ones (marginal utility, yo)

      But talking about ‘fairness’ is meaningless empty stupid rhetoric, because of the question begging on what ‘fair’ means. (and which generally boils down to “rich is someone who makes some amount more than I do”)

      *the various distortionary loopholes and exceptions are a differnt matter.

    2. The objection is to the ignorance that underlies the squawking for the rich to pay their “fair share”.

    3. Justice and what you call “fair” are not the same thing. Income distribution to you is fair, but it is certainly not just ice to take from one and give to another, when the first has not done anything wrong to merit this punishment.

      1. Sorry, I meant wealth distribution.

        1. or, indeed, wealth RE-distribution.

  36. The lower tax rates are a tax break to buy food, pay rent, wear clothes – the necessities of life. Everyone gets this tax break. Do you think it’s fair that the rich keep this tax break beyond what it is intended for? Why should the rich get to keep on taking tax breaks meant to be a one-time deal?

    Most people believe in a progressive tax, irrespective of political party, and even many wealthy people, e.g. Warren Buffet. Most economists also agree with a progressive tax, for whatever that’s worth. You don’t need to single out Hillary (or rather cowardly try to attack Obama through Hillary when Hillary specifically distanced herself from Obama): you can pick almost anyone outside your group.

    1. This is satire? Right?

      Right?

      1. ding ding ding ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. pikachu, pikachu!

  37. Maybe rich (and by this I mean truly rich, not just a few hundred k of income) people should be pay a greater share of the taxes because they control virtually all the wealth in this country, and more and more of it every year?

    It’s so sick that everyone howls about 47% of Americans paying no taxes while overlooking the fact that those people have pretty much nothing while the top 6% control 1/3 of the nation’s wealth, a ratio similar to most third world countries.

    Let alone the inherent unfairness of taxing income instead of taxing wealth, so that the world’s richest man can pay no tax simply by not working, because he doesn’t need to work, and anyone who actually does sacrifice precious time trying to build wealth in the form of labor gets the screwzie. An income tax is nothing more than an upward mobility tax that discourages work.

    Our political process makes it virtually impossible to shrink the size of our government. Even the faction that defines itself on cutting government has proposed no serious cuts other than foreign aid or earmarks which amount to piss and shit. Starving the beast doesn’t work, it only shifts the tax burden to future generations.

    Also, would people stop acting like big government benefits the poor? It benefits corporations and the well-connected, who capture their regulators and destroy the possibility of competition.

    Yes, some of the rich create jobs and wealth and stuff that makes people on this blog jizz in their pants, but a lot of them just ship jobs overseas and enjoy the profits, expecting Americans to rejoice when crap at Walmart is slightly cheaper, but they can’t buy it because they have no jobs and make no money. Still waiting to hear how big finance created jobs and grew the economy with credit default swaps and other forms of complex derivative roulette.

    Meanwhile the rich haven’t had it better in this country since 1920, the poor and middle class have been taking it in the bum for decades, and all anyone ever talks about is how oppressed those unfortunate rich people are. The minute anyone advocates for the poor it’s class warfare… which is exactly what the rich have been undertaking against everyone else for my entire lifetime.

    And before some doctor or lawyer something chimes in crying about how hard they work and how they deserve every penny they have and blah blah blah… you aren’t really rich. You’re an upper middle class professional. The real rich are the super rich, the billionaires, and it IS ridiculous that they functionally pay a lower rate on their effective incomes of millions or billions that you pay on a few hundred k.

  38. Maybe rich (and by this I mean truly rich, not just a few hundred k of income) people should be pay a greater share of the taxes because they control virtually all the wealth in this country, and more and more of it every year?

    It’s so sick that everyone howls about 47% of Americans paying no taxes while overlooking the fact that those people have pretty much nothing while the top 6% control 1/3 of the nation’s wealth, a ratio similar to most third world countries.

    Let alone the inherent unfairness of taxing income instead of taxing wealth, so that the world’s richest man can pay no tax simply by not working, because he doesn’t need to work, and anyone who actually does sacrifice precious time trying to build wealth in the form of labor gets the screwzie. An income tax is nothing more than an upward mobility tax that discourages work.

    Our political process makes it virtually impossible to shrink the size of our government. Even the faction that defines itself on cutting government has proposed no serious cuts other than foreign aid or earmarks which amount to piss and shit. Starving the beast doesn’t work, it only shifts the tax burden to future generations.

    Also, would people stop acting like big government benefits the poor? It benefits corporations and the well-connected, who capture their regulators and destroy the possibility of competition.

    Yes, some of the rich create jobs and wealth and stuff that makes people on this blog jizz in their pants, but a lot of them just ship jobs overseas and enjoy the profits, expecting Americans to rejoice when crap at Walmart is slightly cheaper, but they can’t buy it because they have no jobs and make no money. Still waiting to hear how big finance created jobs and grew the economy with credit default swaps and other forms of complex derivative roulette.

    Meanwhile the rich haven’t had it better in this country since 1920, the poor and middle class have been taking it in the bum for decades, and all anyone ever talks about is how oppressed those unfortunate rich people are. The minute anyone advocates for the poor it’s class warfare… which is exactly what the rich have been undertaking against everyone else for my entire lifetime.

    And before some doctor or lawyer something chimes in crying about how hard they work and how they deserve every penny they have and blah blah blah… you aren’t really rich. You’re an upper middle class professional. The real rich are the super rich, the billionaires, and it IS ridiculous that they functionally pay a lower rate on their effective incomes of millions or billions that you pay on a few hundred k.

  39. What is most appalling here, I find, is the complete and utter disrespect and disregard for the lower classes. “Looters,” “Moochers,” “Welfare Queens.” Have the lot of you no shame, or just no perspective? Perhaps a little of both? Your obsessions with principles of individual liberty have left you blind to principles of common decency. These people are not stealing from you. They are not lazy shits who don’t work hard; they are valuable members of our society doing the dirty work you seem to think you’re too good for. There is dignity in their labor, and for every welfare moocher you complain about there are countless more who are underpaid and oppressed by an unforgiving culture and economic system, yet still working to earn their keep.

    You libertarians love to act as though the only thing standing in the way of success is motivation (or the lack thereof). You possess no complete picture of a society fraught with oppression — against women, against minorities, against homosexuals, against the poor — because you are, again, too blinded by your ludicrously dogmatic principles. Perhaps it is because you have never had to drag yourself out of the ghetto to understand how truly difficult it is in this world to go from nothing to something. Or perhaps you have, and it has given you some bizarre sense of entitlement. Either way, you are impervious to the realities of how the world works, and that a significant contributor to whether or not you make it on this cutthroat planet is sheer luck (not just the fact that you worked oh-so-much harder for your blessed money than those derelicts below you). God forbid the truly rich, who have all they could possible need and then some, give up some of their riches. You can disguise your greedy, self-important notions with what you think is irrefutable logic, the “efficacy” of charity versus welfare, empirical evidence (while selectively ignoring all evidence to the contrary), and some supposedly honorable respect for individual liberty. But you’re not fooling anyone except your similarly delusional libertarian friends, as you are able to sit comfortably on your computers and wax poetic about the “mooching masses.” Try walking a mile in their shoes, and needing food stamps to afford to feed your family.

    No, the real moochers are you: those who think the responsibility of social justice does not fall on your selfish, myopic, entitled shoulders.

    1. You don’t have to be rich to worship money, and you don’t have to be poor to be a thieving and parasitic bastard, as all damned lefties do, and are, respectively.

      You commie traitors are the true oppressors of the poor, helping unemployment skyrocket by taxing and regulating their employers into oblivion. We should be hanging you parasites up with ropes made from your own stinking guts and confiscating everything you’ve stolen from us to give back to your hosts’ families.

      1. What is this, the third grade? A belief in redistribution does not inherently equal “commie traitor.” The accusation of a communist agenda, even if it was purposeful overstatement for the sake of insult, says a lot about your ability to react reasonably.

        If I, the money-worshiping lefty, are more concerned with finances than you, the individual liberty-obsessed libertarian, how come you are the one so outraged by taxation of the upper classes? My household income averages a little over half a million yearly (I have been extraordinarily lucky as far as circumstances go), and I am more than happy to be taxed on it. Who’s truly money-worshiping here?

        As far as thieving parasitism: there you go! It would be adorable if it weren’t sickening. Instead of trying to refute my claims that libertarians are greedy jerks with no concern for the lazy lower classes (who obviously must be there because they were too lazy to climb the socioeconomic ladder), you play right in to the picture I’ve painted of you! Instead of a rational argument demonstrating how libertarians are NOT venomously self-important, you respond with a viciousness that is comically extreme and does well enough to prove my point. Thanks, I’ll keep my intestines in my body.

        Do you really think the poor are sitting back and cackling conspiratorially, their hands full of money that they’ve consciously stolen from your oh-so-deserving hands? Have you ever BEEN to the projects, or spoken to people who depend on the welfare system? You’d reach a surprising conclusion if you did, and it’s that the grand majority of them are working as hard as they can with the little they are given both situationally and financially, working shitty dead-end jobs because they could not afford a decent education, or were raised in the insulation of marginalized ghettos where it was not properly prioritized and cultivated.

        You positively reek of your sheltered experience. And if you haven’t been sheltered, then you just reek of your profound indifference to suffering. So blinded, and angrily blinded! I suppose I ought to concede my own frustration with the likes of you, although as a human being, I don’t think it right to string you up by your guts. I just think you need a crash course in reality and a healthy dosage of healthy perspective and respect for others.

        Individual liberty, individual liberty, individual liberty… apparently it’s about YOUR individual liberty and only yours, because as soon as the poor bumfuck’s individual liberty to have a shot at a life unconfined to the bottom rung of the ladder comes up, it’s an affront to your principles. I guess your individual liberty (and life, and pursuit of happiness) is more important than his.

        1. A belief in redistribution does not inherently equal “commie traitor.”

          No, but it certainly does indicate a severe case of a deadly sin. If all you want to do is preach, fine – but when you want to tax, you are using force instead of persuasion to sculpt the world into your viewpoint.

          My household income averages a little over half a million yearly (I have been extraordinarily lucky as far as circumstances go), and I am more than happy to be taxed on it.

          You are lying about at least one thing here. If you have so much to give then FUCKING GIVE – that would set a much better example then telling me, who makes less than you that I don’t pay enough in taxes. But I really suspect that you expect to come out ahead on a redistribution scheme – which mean that you are not just a shmuck, but a lying shmuck.

          1. No, with my income, I’d be coming out ahead if I were not taxed on it. Personal charity and government redistribution are not mutually exclusive, and just because I have no issue with my tax rates doesn’t mean I don’t contribute personally to charity. I happen to think that both are ideal, and while I am taxed by the government, I also “fucking give” in the sense you are referring to. I acknowledge how lucky I’ve been and feel the need to give back to those who haven’t.

            “Deadly sin” you say? Drama queen. As I outlined below, the “no one should be forced to be charitable” excuse is a cover-up for the “I should be able to be a selfish bastard should I choose to be” sentiment. Apparently, your definitions of freedom, force, justice, etc are unidirectional. I can just as easily construe your Libertarian politics as forcing unequal opportunity to the poor. Or your freedom to hoard every last dollar you think you are rightfully entitled to as an infringement on the freedom of the less socioeconomically endowed, who, much like you, wish to pursue health and happiness. Or how it presents a skewed concept of justice, because it paints these people as having less worth and being undeserving of the amenities you and I take for granted.

            1. Apparently you too are a selfish bastard as you don’t give as much as you would like to be taxed.

              I’d also say your mendacity exceeds your generosity – but that’s just an internet guess.

        2. because as soon as the poor bumfuck’s individual liberty to have a shot at a life unconfined to the bottom rung of the ladder comes up

          That’s not liberty it’s a demand for someone else to provide it for them. Creating a duty on said person and taking away their liberty.

          You may argue that the trade-off of one person’s liberty is worth it if it benefits others. But liberals, Libertarians and the like see that as a dangerous path of logic.

          1. You only see it as a demand because you have the misconception that it is only factors within his scope of control that have relegated him to this bottom rung. If you had some of that perspective I’ve been talking about, you’d realize this is not theft or demand, but remediation of an inevitable side effect of both capitalism and reality (that some are left in the dirt simply due to misfortune).

            1. Your argument ignores the fact that 90% of the millionaires in this country come from non-millionaire families. It is extremely possible in this nation to change one’s fortunes, despite all the “oppression” you postulate. The poor, despite all the redistributionist “help” you and your ilk have provided since the Great Society, have remained poor, and according to you the gap between rich and poor has only widened, begging the question as to exactly what these policies and the others you’d propose resembling them actually do other than take money away from people and give it to the government.

              1. Citation, please.

                1. Why bother, Chad? The citation could be 100% true, chiseled in stone and coated with pure gold… you would still refuse it.

    2. *baaarrrrfffff*

    3. You libertarians […] possess no complete picture of a society fraught with oppression — against women, against minorities, against homosexuals, against the poor

      This presupposes that there are no poor, homosexual, minority, or women libertarians.

      FAIL.

      1. And yet it’s striking how comparatively few they are compared to the white males, isn’t it? They suffer from an even more peculiar form of blindness, and it is blindness to their own condition (or just the condition of MOST within the categories gay, female, black, hispanic, etc). If they are lucky enough to have the ability to overlook systemic oppression — be it through a unique set of circumstances that privilege them in comparison to other members of their particular category, such as gay or female or poor or a minority — it is precisely because of that comparative privilege that they probably hold libertarian viewpoints.

        In other words, you are far more likely to see a wealthy black man in Westchester, NY have libertarian inclinations than one in public housing in the South Bronx. The former may be so because of the bizarre entitlement complex I mentioned earlier; a sense of personal superiority because he happened to do the near-impossible if his starting point was an impoverished ghetto. Or, it could be because he was born into wealth and never had to walk in the shoes of the latter fellow, who is both black AND poor.

        You are nitpicking rather than refuting my general argument. You are also ignoring the fact that the intersections of oppressed categories (black AND poor, female AND poor AND gay) are salient factors in whether one can hold the haughty privilege of being a libertarian douchebag. Oppressed minorities that identify as libertarian are the rare exceptions that prove the rule. How many of them, in actuality, are there? I’d love to see a poll on the races and classes comprising the libertarian readers of this website, just as a sampling. I’m sure it would be quite telling.

        1. I’d love to know their economic backgrounds, too. I bet most of them (regardless of color, gender, etc) came from middle and professional class families and grew up in reasonably wealthy areas.

          I might be a white male, but I grew up in a dirt poor rural area. Only a handful of people I know from my childhood days have made it as far as the professional class, and of course, a fair number are floating somewhere in the middle class. But the vast majority are working class at best, including many members of my family. Unfortunately, where you start here in America very much determines where you end up. We actually have less social and economic mobility than “socialist” European countries…and that is a terribly sad thing.

          Libertarians have an overly intense faith that how much people money people haul in is close to how much they actually earn. There is a correlation, obviously, but it is weak. There are so many factors that determine your income that are beyond your control, or were determined by choices you made as a youth, that claiming that whatever income distribution that springs forth from our economic system is sacred and cannot be touched is just silly.

          1. “There are so many factors that determine your income that are beyond your control, or were determined by choices you made as a youth, that claiming that whatever income distribution that springs forth from our economic system is sacred and cannot be touched is just silly.”

            And it is a blindness to this reality that is so frustrating!

            1. And it is a blindness to this reality that is so frustrating!

              Fucking religious zealotry – on the part of the Church of the Left.

              1. You’re one to talk, worshiping at the altar of the Free Market ๐Ÿ™‚

            2. another damn lefty|5.30.10 @ 8:57PM|#
              “And it is a blindness to this reality that is so frustrating!”

              You claim it’s “reality”, let’s see a cite.

              1. Ron, do you control how wealthy and well-connected your parents are? Or if you went to Andover or a school in the hood? Do you control how intelligent (in the genetic sense) you are? Or how tall you are? Or how beautiful you are? Or if your friend’s brother happens to know of a good job opening for you? Or if swings of the market work in your favor, or blow up your business or put you $100k underwater on your home? Of course, there are many other forms of sheer luck out there.

                Pretending it is all about hard work and innovation is sheer silliness.

              2. How about living on planet earth like the rest of us?

            3. More frustrating are your idiotic strawmen.

              1. Straw men? I’m only addressing core libertarian assumptions and concepts that are reflected in your political standpoints, although some of them your party attempts to cleverly disguise, and paint as less troubling than they actually are when stripped down. The likes of you are the ones throwing up straw men detracting from the foundational (and flawed) logistics of your position.

                1. This:

                  “that claiming that whatever income distribution that springs forth from our economic system is sacred and cannot be touched is just silly.”

                  is not a “core libertarian assumption” you sniveling twat.

                  I’m so glad we have another damn lefty to explain libertarian political beliefs to us. Obviously, we don’t know any better.

          2. Chad|5.30.10 @ 8:22PM|#
            “I bet most of them (regardless of color, gender, etc) came from middle and professional class families and grew up in reasonably wealthy areas.”

            Of course you would, Chony. because you’re an ignoramus.

            1. It does not take some wild leap of faith to assume that the group of people who would benefit the most from a political standpoint would support it in the greatest numbers, nitwit. The point is whether that support is both reasonably and ethically warranted.

        2. I recently learned that libertarians are against abortion and the civil rights act, two things that are *very* important to women and minorities. As far as I know libertarians are for gay marriage.

          Most libertarians here are probably homosexual white males.

          1. Haha ๐Ÿ™‚

            1. I think Jim is either being sarcastic or stupid, since most libertarians are “pro-choice” (I am), and only some libertarians are against ONE PART of the civil rights act that bans private businesses from discriminating.

              1. I think Jim was referring to Rand Paul, whom he is confusing with Ron Paul. Rand Paul is against that one part of the civil rights act, against abortion, and same-sex marriage. Although one can argue that Ron is against those things too.

                1. I think that was brilliant satire from Jim.

        3. And yet it’s striking how comparatively few they are compared to the white males, isn’t it?

          How do you know?

          I’m pretty sure you are just pulling the “fact” that most libertarians are white, male, and wealthier than average out of your ass.

          Even if that wild speculation is correct, it is also wild speculation to say that libertarians are just libertarians because the free market benefits white males. Again, this is all just pulled straight from your ass.

          I could follow suit by saying that most welfare liberals are minorities, and they are welfare liberals because welfare benefits them most. But I won’t. Because I’d be pulling that out of my ass.

          The same goes for you Chad.

          1. As I said to Ron:

            It does not take some wild leap of faith to assume that the group of people who would benefit the most from a political standpoint would support it in the greatest numbers. The point is whether that support is both reasonably and ethically warranted, and this is something I addressed in another response to one of your comments.

        4. You keep on bringing up gays. The average income for gays is higher than that of straights. It is highly unfair that some gays have been discriminated against at work, but it obviously hasn’t made an enormous impact upon the economic prosperity of the group as a whole.

          1. So economic prosperity on the whole matters more to you than discrimination? Hmmmm. Strange priorities, but not unsurprising ones.

            Where have you encountered this statistic, pray tell?

            1. “So economic prosperity on the whole matters more to you than discrimination?”

              Yes, absolutely. Discrimination ends because those being discriminated against become strong, not because those who are strong extend largesse to those who are not.

        5. And yet it’s striking how comparatively few they are compared to the white males, isn’t it?

          So you have a deep concern for major minorities such as Hispanic people, but minor minorities such as gay libertarians you can just write off.

          Your heads-I-win-tails-you-lose scenario is almost equally interesting. If a black male is a libertarian and he was born into wealth, you say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he’s never known poverty. If a black male is a libertarian and he brought himself into wealth from poverty, you say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he’s lucky and feels superior.

          Personally, I loathe separating people into categories and wouldn’t even respond to your poll idea (even though my stat would argue against your stance) because I don’t want to play any role in legitimizing the thought that individuals are anything other than individuals to be judged on their own merits–but let’s say I agree that gender, class, race, etc. all matters in a large way.

          If I believe that, then I’d also believe that a black male who came up from poverty is more capable of deciding what’s right for other black males in poverty than anybody else (including black males still in poverty, for the same reason that married people are more capable of giving dating advice than forty-year-old singles). Whether that black male came to a liberal conclusion, conservative conclusion, or libertarian conclusion, I wouldn’t disregard his opinion or even contest it unless I was a black male myself–I would say that only he and people like him could decide (again, this is all assuming that I accepted a top-level importance to class, etc.).

          But you say no, not true–you say a black male who came out of poverty who leans in a libertarian direction is “blind.” Meanwhile, liberals like yourself can decide what’s correct and necessary for black males in poverty even if they’re neither black nor male nor ever lived in poverty nor came up from poverty. Even within your own framework, I don’t understand how that can be.

    4. What is most appalling here, I find, is the complete and utter disrespect and disregard for the lower classes. “Looters,” “Moochers,” “Welfare Queens.”

      No, we have no beef with the “lower classes.” Only the Looters, Moochers, and Welfare Queens.

      These people are not stealing from you.

      You’re absolutely right. They aren’t stealing, but the government is. The Welfare Queens only benefit from the stolen goods.

      they are valuable members of our society doing the dirty work you seem to think you’re too good for.

      I don’t know where you get this idea that no libertarian is a menial worker. You must be pretty full of yourself if you think your hackneyed and ignorant stereotype of libertarians represent reality. I bet you think we wear top hats and monocles…

      You libertarians love to act as though the only thing standing in the way of success is motivation (or the lack thereof).

      Uh any proof to back that up? As far as I know, libertarianism is a political philosophy. Motivation and what makes financial success is really not what we talk about. If I knew or thought I knew the secret to financial greatness, I’d probably be trying that. But I’m not. I just work in a place that interests me, not exactly a high paying job.

      You possess no complete picture of a society fraught with oppression — against women, against minorities, against homosexuals, against the poor — because you are, again, too blinded by your ludicrously dogmatic principles.

      On the contrary, I see lots of oppression in our society. Oppression, just for clarity’s sake, is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. But not just oppression against minorities; everyone is necessarily oppressed when there are those who have power and authority over them. Libertarianism strives for freedom, which really just means a system in which no individual or group has power over another individual or group. If you actually took a moment to think about the actual power structures in our society, and stopped obsessing over who has wealth and who doesn’t, I think you would understand this. Wealth is not the root of all evil. Power is.

      Perhaps it is because you have never had to drag yourself out of the ghetto to understand how truly difficult it is in this world to go from nothing to something. Or perhaps you have, and it has given you some bizarre sense of entitlement.

      Again, you are overly confident in this ignorant stereotype. Not only do you contradict yourself here, but you have also fallen into hypocrisy. Welfare liberalism is the greatest unjust entitler of all. Welfare liberalism says that I am ENTITLED to the property of others. The only thing I believe individuals are entitled to are their lives, their property, and the freedom to live as they see fit as long as they do not trespass on the freedom of others to live as they see fit. We are entitled to no less and no more.

      You can disguise your greedy, self-important notions with what you think is irrefutable logic, the “efficacy” of charity versus welfare, empirical evidence (while selectively ignoring all evidence to the contrary), and some supposedly honorable respect for individual liberty.

      This is simply idiotic slander. There is nothing greedy about the belief that everyone has equal rights. There is nothing greedy about the belief that everyone should be equally free. On the other hand, saying that one is entitled to the property of another is not charitable. It is simply legalized theft. If you want to be charitable, then give of your own wealth, do not give the wealth of others.

      No, the real moochers are you: those who think the responsibility of social justice does not fall on your selfish, myopic, entitled shoulders.

      I believe that I have a responsibility to be kind and charitable to those less fortunate than myself. However, I do not have the overwhelming hubris or lack of respect to demand that everyone else must share and act upon this belief, as you do. I tolerate those whose beliefs are different from mine. Any self-claimed liberal should too.

      1. Nicely put. Thank you.

        1. Well said, heller. A nice contrast to “another damn lefty”‘s strawmen and goalpost-moving.

      2. “No, we have no beef with the ‘lower classes.’ Only the Looters, Moochers, and Welfare Queens.”

        So just the guys who don’t benefit from welfare are OK? I see.

        “You’re absolutely right. They aren’t stealing, but the government is. The Welfare Queens only benefit from the stolen goods.”

        Yes, your government has stolen so much from you! Please. Compared to some of the downright evil, tyrannical governments that exist outside the U.S., you have it easy. Again, no perspective; reeks of sheltered experience.

        “I don’t know where you get this idea that no libertarian is a menial worker. You must be pretty full of yourself if you think your hackneyed and ignorant stereotype of libertarians represent reality. I bet you think we wear top hats and monocles…”

        Then let’s see evidence that refutes my assertion that most libertarians, simply by virtue of the common politics you tend to share, ought to be white, middle class males who have been afforded the privileges that allow them to hold such hackneyed viewpoints. I never said you wear top hats and monocoles. I said you were predominantly middle class white males, because no sane menial worker, white or black, would be complicit in a political party so obviously uncaring of his well-being. Just recently a Libertarian spokesman for the party claimed that Rand Paul’s stance on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “reasonable.” (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/libertarians-on-pauls-civil-rights-stance-very-reasonable.php) Can you foresee a black man — many of whom are menial workers comprising the lower lower classes, or at least in my state of NY — agreeing with horrific statements like Rand Paul’s? And before you claim that Paul is not a “true libertarian,” he’s about as true as it gets; valuing the individual freedoms of private industry more than a federal imperative to address racism or injustice. Valuing private industry’s freedoms and the free market over the welfare of consumers or workers does not mesh well with the interests of menial workers, or consumers who are minorities. Any person with half a brain can see how incompatible the interests are.

        “On the contrary, I see lots of oppression in our society. Oppression, just for clarity’s sake, is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. But not just oppression against minorities; everyone is necessarily oppressed when there are those who have power and authority over them. Libertarianism strives for freedom, which really just means a system in which no individual or group has power over another individual or group. If you actually took a moment to think about the actual power structures in our society, and stopped obsessing over who has wealth and who doesn’t, I think you would understand this. Wealth is not the root of all evil. Power is.”

        More blindness. Oppression is not limited to your deluded idea of what constitutes a tyrannical government. Oppression exists deeply imbued within society and culture, within every human being who willingly plays in to the marginalization of minority groups through stereotyping, cultural imperialism, denial of employment or valuable participation in society, etc. This oppression privileges white males in relation to them, however much you kick and scream and claim otherwise (again, not fooling anyone but yourselves). Are you so ignorant as to not realize the inherent power you have over such minority groups, merely by virtue of the fact that you are (in all likelihood) a middle class white male? Again, libertarianism strives for freedom only in the most unrealistic and constricted sense of the word — YOUR freedom, as that comparatively privileged human being, to do whatever the heck you want. Because as soon as you take the realistic constraints of being born a minority in public housing into account, you realize he has far less functional freedom than you do. This is no level playing field. True freedom must take into account how others are pushed down in relation to those elevated by the dominant culture, and you are obsessed with what you think freedom OUGHT to be, not a realistically egalitarian freedom in the year 2010, with massive discrepancies in wealth and social status, with a globalized market economy. Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, and I think your right to do whatever suits your fancy also ends where it renders the ability of anyone not in your social group to even get a leg up in this world improbable or impossible. I find it funny that as soon as someone calls out the slew of derogatory references to the “looters” and “commies” on Libertarian websites such as these, you switch to claiming they are just unfortunate victims of an oppressive system. If they are simply oppressed by a tyrannical system, why the language that conveys such disdain?

        “Wealth is not the problem. Power is.” Really? Money and power are not inherently linked? I must have missed the memo.

        “Again, you are overly confident in this ignorant stereotype. Not only do you contradict yourself here, but you have also fallen into hypocrisy. Welfare liberalism is the greatest unjust entitler of all. Welfare liberalism says that I am ENTITLED to the property of others. The only thing I believe individuals are entitled to are their lives, their property, and the freedom to live as they see fit as long as they do not trespass on the freedom of others to live as they see fit. We are entitled to no less and no more.”

        And libertarianism says that your earnings are a direct reflection of the work you do and your worth in this society; otherwise, why claim to be entitled to all of it and object so fiercely to taxation or redistribution? This intrinsic assumption, and sense of entitlement far worse than any welfare system supposedly demonstrates, is a reflection of a similarly libertarian assumption that other factors (besides strictly quality of labor and productivity) that contribute to your socioeconomic status are negligible or nonexistent. Unrealistic and blind.

        “This is simply idiotic slander. There is nothing greedy about the belief that everyone has equal rights. There is nothing greedy about the belief that everyone should be equally free. On the other hand, saying that one is entitled to the property of another is not charitable. It is simply legalized theft. If you want to be charitable, then give of your own wealth, do not give the wealth of others.”

        There is something greedy about being selectively ignorant to the functionality of certain freedoms in a 21st century capitalist country. You are obsessed with this golden principle about how freedom SHOULD work, not how it ACTUALLY works; you cannot wrap your head around the fact that your ability to exercise freedom is a function of many things beyond your control. The idea of a capitalist nation as a cornucopia of unhindered opportunity, if only all these stupid government rules and regulations were thrown out, is deluded. If you think you can simplify government redistribution as legalized theft, I can be about as reductionist and call your entitlement greed. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch. Clearly, to me, what you think of as greed or theft on the part of a redistributive program such as welfare is being intellectually dishonest — ignoring the other factors at play, working to limit the functional freedoms of minority groups. For them to desire more than what they have seems entirely reasonable to me, given that most of them have jack shit. For more fortunate middle and upper class folks to still complain about an unjust government while some poor families can’t even afford proper housing or nutrition or health care rings way more greedy and thieving. It’s about wanting the basic things you and I take for granted versus wanting more and more and more.

        The “personal charity” defense is nothing more than a cover-up of the sentiment, “I should be able to reserve for myself the right to hoard everything I have, should I have the desire to do so.” If you can find me evidence that personal charity ALONE can provide consistent and reliable shelter and food for the innumerable poor and working poor, I could reconsider. How could you NOT believe that everyone has a responsibility to care for the less fortunate, and still call yourself a decent human being? If you are not opposed to the idea of charity for the less fortunate, why be opposed to a government mandate? Because no one should “force” you to be good? If being good is of genuine importance to you, it ought not to feel forced. I tolerate those whose beliefs are different from mine, too — for the most part. That toleration ends when they start becoming, you know, morally reprehensible.

        1. Nicely put. Thank you.

          1. I WOULD say that the world that libertarians are working towards, with low taxes across the board (but not necessairly not-progressive), and few regulations would be by far the most egalitarian, y vastly increaing competition among the producers and making it easier for the poor to gain some capital. And then I would cite Houston, the only city with no zoning, where housing is insanely affordable, and the poor and minorities repeatedly vote AGAINST zoning.

            I WOULD, if Chad’s and another-damn-lefty’s comments about libertarians weren’t so accurate.

            1. No zoning may work just fine for Houston, but the presence of zoning also works fine in most other cities. Why are you citing an anomaly in your attempts to prove general rules (I.E., free market is always better than regulated market)?

              1. Bullshit. Housing in Houston is WAAAYYY cheaper than in other places where land-use control is rampant. Houston is the one city that did fine after the housing market crash. The poor and minorities REPEATEDLY vote AGAINST zoning because of this. I bet if they did a study, they’d find (or did find) Houston to be a much more egalitarian city than most.

                Land use control is used to jack up real estate values – and it works, it worked for the longest time, and then, well, we know what just happened.

                1. http://seattletimes.nwsource.c…..her14.html

                  Between 1989 and 2006, the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house rose from $221,000 to $447,800. Fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations, says Theo Eicher ? twice the financial impact that regulation has had on other major U.S. cities.

                  “In a nationwide study, it can be shown that Seattle is one of the most regulated cities and a city whose housing prices are profoundly influenced by regulations,” he says.

                  Above is an example of the opposite of Houston. Land-use regs aren’t cheap.

        2. I said you were predominantly middle class white males, because no sane menial worker, white or black, would be complicit in a political party so obviously uncaring of his well-being.

          Even if that uncaring bit were true, every political group attracts a large number of “lesser evil” voters.

          How could you NOT believe that everyone has a responsibility to care for the less fortunate, and still call yourself a decent human being? If you are not opposed to the idea of charity for the less fortunate, why be opposed to a government mandate? Because no one should “force” you to be good? If being good is of genuine importance to you, it ought not to feel forced.

          Because:

          1) No one should force others to whom being charitable is not of genuine importance to be charitable,

          and

          2) No one should force anyone to whom being charitable is of genuine importance to be charitable in pre-approved, legislated, one-size-fits-all ways that, like all taxes, may or may not be the most efficient path and don’t represent the individual’s beliefs and priorities. e.g. If you believe that finding a cure for AIDS is a big deal but only 2% the big deal of getting food out to people who are dying of starvation (or would be without aid), you should be able to give all of your money to the people dying of starvation rather than having some percentage of it allocated to medical research that you don’t consider a top priority.

        3. So just the guys who don’t benefit from welfare are OK? I see.

          No, just people like you who demand that others are entitled to my property and do not have to ask permission in order to take it, you sniveling piece of shit.

          Please. Compared to some of the downright evil, tyrannical governments that exist outside the U.S., you have it easy. Again, no perspective; reeks of sheltered experience.

          Oooh so stealing only a little bit is OK? I shouldn’t whine if only 50% of my property is stolen, because other people have 80% stolen? Get over yourself you dumb piece of shit. You have no justifications, only excuses.

          Then let’s see evidence that refutes my assertion that most libertarians, simply by virtue of the common politics you tend to share, ought to be white, middle class males who have been afforded the privileges that allow them to hold such hackneyed viewpoints.

          Umm, no. See when you make a claim, the onus is on you to prove it. I am not responsible for your bullshit.

          Just recently a Libertarian spokesman for the party claimed that Rand Paul’s stance on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “reasonable.”

          Yes, it is reasonable. If I own a business, I have the right to choose who I want to serve, regardless of the reason. This is part of that toleration thing I was talking about earlier. In this country we tolerate bigots as long as they don’t harm others. Your assertion that a black person would “never” agree with this reasoning is disgustingly ignorant. Not all black people believe in banning private discrimination. Over the weekend I was discussing this very issue with a black acquaintance of mine, and he agreed with me.

          And before you claim that Paul is not a “true libertarian,” he’s about as true as it gets

          Although his views on this issue are similar to those of most libertarians, Rand Paul is not a libertarian. This is by his own admission, and the fact that he is very unlibertarian on many issues, like immigration. You might want to know the facts about a subject before you start talking about it, dumbass.

          True freedom must take into account how others are pushed down in relation to those elevated by the dominant culture, and you are obsessed with what you think freedom OUGHT to be, not a realistically egalitarian freedom in the year 2010, with massive discrepancies in wealth and social status, with a globalized market economy.

          There is really no point in arguing this, since we disagree fundamentally on the meaning of freedom. All I will say is that freedom, like justice, should be blind to race, gender, and wealth. No one should be more free than anyone else, but that is precisely what you suggest when you say that minority groups and those with less wealth should be given a “leg up.” What this really means is that you want to force others to sacrifice their freedoms in order to benefit minorities and the less wealthy. This is an inherently unequal and inegalitarian “freedom.” Helping the less fortunate is a personal choice, not something to be mandated upon all by an authority backed by the threat of force.

          I find it funny that as soon as someone calls out the slew of derogatory references to the “looters” and “commies” on Libertarian websites such as these, you switch to claiming they are just unfortunate victims of an oppressive system. If they are simply oppressed by a tyrannical system, why the language that conveys such disdain?

          As much as you would like it to be so, those derogatory terms are not synonymous with the poor. They are meant for only those who abuse the structures of power in society in order to confiscate the property of others and benefit themselves. Think about what these terms mean before you assume libertarians hate poor people. These baseless assumptions only make you look ignorant, not us.

          Money and power are not inherently linked? I must have missed the memo.

          They are not inherently linked. I can have vast sums of wealth without exerting any power of legalized force over others.

          And libertarianism says that your earnings are a direct reflection of the work you do and your worth in this society

          No, libertarianism does not say this. Libertarianism is a POLITICAL philosophy. But keep on claiming these lies as facts, it really furthers your cause. This is as close as one can get to the definition of a strawman.

          If you think you can simplify government redistribution as legalized theft, I can be about as reductionist and call your entitlement greed.

          It’s not simplified at all. The government can legally take away your money against your will in order to give it to someone else. This is legalized theft.

          For them to desire more than what they have seems entirely reasonable to me, given that most of them have jack shit.

          It is reasonable. But this is not the same thing as being entitled to what others have. I have no problem with anyone making money. I do have a problem with people being given money that was taken away from someone else. Can you see the difference here?

          For more fortunate middle and upper class folks to still complain about an unjust government while some poor families can’t even afford proper housing or nutrition or health care rings way more greedy and thieving.

          Again, demanding that you have the right not to be stolen from is not greed. Would it be right for me to steal your wallet if I was going to give it to a poor family? No, it would not be right. I would ask you if you would like to donate money to the poor family. If you said no, I would have to respect that decision. The use of force is not justified by wealth inequality, no matter how great that inequality is.

          How could you NOT believe that everyone has a responsibility to care for the less fortunate, and still call yourself a decent human being?

          I don’t presume to mandate what responsibility anyone but myself has. All that I ask is that you respect my rights.

          If you are not opposed to the idea of charity for the less fortunate, why be opposed to a government mandate?

          Because charity is voluntary, and a government mandate would force those who do not want to give charity. Really it isn’t that hard to see the huge difference here.

          Because no one should “force” you to be good? If being good is of genuine importance to you, it ought not to feel forced.

          Good cannot be forced. No one is doing good when they are forced to give taxes. Good can only be done when there is the intent to do good.

          That toleration ends when they start becoming, you know, morally reprehensible.

          So you only tolerate what is not reprehensible to you? That is not toleration.

    5. ” They are not lazy shits who don’t work hard; they are valuable members of our society doing the dirty work you seem to think you’re too good for. There is dignity in their labor, and for every welfare moocher you complain about there are countless more who are underpaid and oppressed by an unforgiving culture and economic system, yet still working to earn their keep.”

      Underpaid?

      Says who?

      Anything and everything is only worth whatever someone else is freely willing to pay for it at any given point in time – no more and no less.

      You are essentially claiming that you are a superior judge than the market as to the value of activies.

      You’re not.

  40. countless more who are underpaid and oppressed by an unforgiving culture and economic system, yet still working to earn their keep.

    Arise, comrades! Throw off the shackles of Capitalist oppression!

  41. Who cares, its the middle class that are getting the crap taxed out of them. They have similar taxation levels of the rich, and none of the benefits of the poor.

  42. TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets ////Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.” “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.” “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.” “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise. //////”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social HATRED …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of HATRED and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half LIES, and the other half RACIAL. How can one expect THE USA to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned., GOD OPEN YOUR EYES, Barack Hussein Obama , threatens friends and bows to enemies 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.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  43. THE END OF DAY’S ‘Top Kill’ Fail ,s oil gushing
    OBAMA,O MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE,THE END OF DAYS,GOD HELP US. 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.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER ,REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

    1. Calm down.

      Now slowly insert dildo into anus.

      1. Just cause it works for you doesn’t mean it works for him.

        I figure he’s on a 3-day Holiday weekend pass like Hinckley gets from St Elizabeths.

        1. Or he’s just an annoying whacko (lone?) who needs to have something shoved up his ass.

          1. “What is a ‘Garden Weasel’?”

    2. troll

  44. So after all is said, it turns out that we pay the highest tax-GDP in the western hemisphere, not Brazil. See Cato @ Liberty for details.

  45. If the “rich” go from earning 10% of the income and paying 15% of the taxes to earning 20% of the income and paying 18% of the taxes, no one would argue that this was unfair to the rich (except a libertarian).

    Maybe, but only an idiot would say it was unfair to the poor.

  46. You guys are like Joe the Plumber.

    Obama would give the same answer: the rich pay higher taxes so that Joe pays less taxes and can save some money for capital to start a business thereby imparting his talent to the marketplace when it may otherwise never happen. The rich person had to have made a start somewhere, so it benefits everyone.

    Hillary Clinton is secretary of state and does not make decisions on domestic policy, so her words do not serve as clues to what the Obama administration would do.

    Moreover, to say that Hillary Clinton is unaware of how much the rich pay in taxes seems odd, because she herself is rich, as are most politicians. Maybe she thinks everything is a zero-sum game, so that the rich get rich at the expense of the poor, so she thinks that the rich should pay more taxes to be fair. This would be a better explanation than saying she’s ignorant of how much the rich pay in taxes.

    I think what you are saying is that *we* are ignorant of how much the rich pay in taxes, and so you explain it to us, and not Hillary.

    1. Obama would give the same answer: the rich pay higher taxes so that Joe pays less taxes and can save some money for capital to start a business thereby imparting his talent to the marketplace when it may otherwise never happen. The rich person had to have made a start somewhere, so it benefits everyone.

      That would be sooooo relevant if we actually wanted to raise taxes on Joe the Plumber. You act as if there are only two options: the rich pay high taxes, or the poor pay high taxes. In fact, no one should pay high taxes. If Joe the Plumber could keep more than 90% of his income, wouldn’t that be even better than what we have now? I fail to see how taking away money from people benefits them. If we could choose whether or not we wanted the government’s crappy services, then we would benefit.

      Hillary Clinton is secretary of state and does not make decisions on domestic policy, so her words do not serve as clues to what the Obama administration would do.

      Except that Obama has been mimicking the idea that the rich aren’t paying their fair share since his election campaign, and he hasn’t stopped. It’s a key welfare liberal talking point.

      Moreover, to say that Hillary Clinton is unaware of how much the rich pay in taxes seems odd, because she herself is rich, as are most politicians.

      So because HilDog is rich, she automatically must know what fraction of total income the rich make and what fraction of total taxes the rich pay? Nope, not buying it. If she is saying that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, and she knows what she is talking about, shouldn’t the numbers fit her claims? Well they don’t.

      Maybe she thinks everything is a zero-sum game, so that the rich get rich at the expense of the poor, so she thinks that the rich should pay more taxes to be fair. This would be a better explanation than saying she’s ignorant of how much the rich pay in taxes.

      So she subscribes to the elementary school “slices of pie” theory of economics? I fail to see how that is a BETTER explanation than that she simply doesn’t know what the actual numbers are and is repeating the party line that the rich have to pay their fair share.

      I think what you are saying is that *we* are ignorant of how much the rich pay in taxes, and so you explain it to us, and not Hillary.

      No. Hillary Clinton does not know how much the rich pay in taxes. That is pretty clear.

      1. So she subscribes to the elementary school “slices of pie” theory of economics? I fail to see how that is a BETTER explanation than that she simply doesn’t know what the actual numbers are and is repeating the party line that the rich have to pay their fair share.

        No, what is elementary school logic is the idea that because one can gain wealth by expanding the pie, it must be the case that almost every instance of someone gaining wealth must be due to pie expansion rather than pie capture.

        Reality is a mixture of both.

        1. “Reality is a mixture of both”

          Touche. And then I would say that libertarians want to stop the pie capture by lowering regulatory burden, and increase pie expansion by lowering taxes across the board.

          But because they only focus on certain things, such as progressive taxation, and refuse to acknowledge that some types of laws end up getting passed more easily than others, they do indeed end up effectively advocating more corporatism instead of less.

          1. You are not catching the meaning of what I mean by “pie capture”. It is not some sort of stealing. Rather, it is finding ways to capture more of the surplus value that is created by the differences in preferences between buyer and seller.

            For example, let’s say some really rich guy can produce a computer program for $50 per copy, and I am willing to pay $100 for a copy. So if the price is, say, $75, we both profit $25 and everyone is happy. But what if the price is $60 or $90? According to standard economic theory, there is no difference. The net profit is $50, and that is all that matters. In practical reality, however, it matters a lot whether I make $10 and the rich guy gets $40, or the reverse. Depending on the economic, political, and legal structures, the amount of surplus captured by consumers and producers can vary a lot, and strongly affect the distribution of wealth.

            Worse yet, what if the rich guy finds a way to drive the price up from $75 to $85, but actually reduces my willingness to pay to $90. Now the net profit is $40 (five for me, $35 for him). He clearly is coming out ahead and will try to do this if he can, even though it is a net negative for society. This isn’t hypothetical at all: it is exactly what is underlying the absurd pricing schemes of cell phone plans and airline tickets, for example. Rather than trying to improve the value to the customer, airlines and mobile operators are instead wasting everyone’s time trying to charge high prices to those who are realitively indifferent to price, and lower prices to the price sensitive. If economic theory was correct, these companies would be charging the marginal price, even though they clearly are not.

            1. How young are you? Do you remember when airline tickets were the province of only the well to do or business travelers? Do you recall who had cellular telephones when they first launched? Do you really believe that the prices charged for those goods now are expensive and excessive?

              Airline tickets are cheap, easily affordable for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Ditto cell phone service. Literally everyone has a cell phone. Please come up with better examples.

            2. airlines and mobile operators are instead wasting everyone’s time trying to charge high prices to those who are realitively indifferent to price, and lower prices to the price sensitive. If economic theory was correct, these companies would be charging the marginal price, even though they clearly are not.

              Whoa there, Nelly! This is not even remotely contrary to economic theory; it’s called price discrimination. It is exactly what theory would suggest occurs when you have segmented markets or consumers with unique price elasticity of demand. Airlines do set MR = MC in several segments, whether you book online, fly early-bird, fly standby, fly business class, etc., and a side effect is that business classes subsidize coach. Airlines attempt to maximize revenue by changing the mix of business, coach and so forth in response to market demand. All in all, it’s hard to consider this a bad thing when it makes flying much more affordable for most of us.

              What you are absolutely, 100% missing about the airline example is that this is a ridiculously competitive industry. Last I checked, return on equity was negative (consistent with a larger consumer surplus). If producers are cutting themselves a larger part of a smaller pie, surely they would at least have some pie.

              As for cell phone companies, since when was offering different levels of service for different prices bad? If some tween needs her unlimited texting and her dad needs unlimited minutes and her brother needs 500 minutes a month, doesn’t it make sense to offer different schemes or, God forbid, bundle them and offer family plans with their own tiered pricing structure?

              Moreover, how do these damage the value proposition? If a kid sets up a lemonade stand that’s $2 for adults and $1 for kids, sure, he’s trying to maximize his producer share of the pie, but where is the destruction of societal value occurring?

              Worse yet, what if the rich guy finds a way to drive the price up from $75 to $85, but actually reduces my willingness to pay to $90. Now the net profit is $40 (five for me, $35 for him). He clearly is coming out ahead and will try to do this if he can, even though it is a net negative for society.

              Sure, it’s a net negative for as long as competitors allow his 75% profit margin and apparently diminishing product quality to persist. If you’re willing to pay $100 for a product that costs $50 to make, all you need is one viable alternative at a cost closer to production.

              1. That’s precisely what I am referring to: price discrimination.

                In a handful of scenarios, it can theoretically be a good thing (regulated monopolies such as utilities), but in most cases, it is simply a burden that has no other purpose than to transfer wealth from consumers to producers. In the meantime, the complicated pricing schemes that result are a negative for society. Take, for example, the difference between flying and buying a bullet train ticket in Japan. The latter takes a few minutes, and there is no reason to “shop around” because the prices are fixed: tickets from A to B always cost X at the station, and just slightly a fixed amount less at discount travel agents that can be found almost anywhere. In contrast, I don’t think I have ever spent less than an hour buying a plane ticket, because hundreds of dollars are at stake as I watch the prices bounce up and down. All that time lost has zero utility and is pure waste. Additionally, any time and money that the airline spent designing this absurd system is also waste. Cell phones have the same sort of problems: almost complete disconnects between what you consume and what you pay, all so they can price discriminate. What it is even more interesting to me is that in the other countries I have lived in, cell phone plans have structures that much more closely track actual usage. For example, texts are cheaper than emails, emails cheaper than voice, etc. Here, voice is the cheapest for most people most of the time, even though it obviously has the highest marginal cost for the company, by a wide margin.

                http://www.rca.org/Page.aspx?pid=2995

                Your final point would have merit in some beautiful competitive market. Unfortunately, the ones of which I speak really aren’t all that competitive. Indeed, economists often use the observation of price discrimination as evidence that monopoly pricing power exists.

                1. I am at a real loss to determine your point here. Because it takes you a while to compare and shop prices, the airlines are somehow oppressing you? Instead, you’d propose a system where prices are set in perpetuity without regard to seasonal demand, unexpected surge in demand, cancellations, and so forth? Just because you think the present system is wasteful?

                  Ditto the cell phone system. Virtually every adult in the U.S. and many children have cell phones. The price per minute is dirt cheap for nationwide calling and unlimited text service is usually only a few bucks. I remember the days when telephones were all pretty much the same and you weren’t allowed to have an answering machine. Long distance was incredibly expensive. Now I can call anywhere in the country and talk the entire weekend within the limits of my battery, and you’re complaining? If this level of evolution of service and capability is your definition of a problem, I think we’ll find a way to cope.

                  While I’m on the subject, how on earth are you complaining about a system designed to transfer wealth from consumers to producers as being unjust? You support taxation designed to take wealth from producers and give it to government. The only difference I can see between the two is that I have a choice whether or not I wish to fly and can refuse to patronize an airline that practices business methods that I find abhorrent. I can avoid doing business with cell phone providers (I’m talking to you, Verizon) that due to the abject incompetence of their staff I have had problems with in the past. But I cannot choose to avoid contributing to the woefully ineffective United States government. You sir, appear to be nothing less than a complete hypocrite on this issue.

                  1. Instead, you’d propose a system where prices are set in perpetuity without regard to seasonal demand, unexpected surge in demand, cancellations, and so forth? Just because you think the present system is wasteful?

                    Where did you get the idea that prices shouldn’t vary based on date? I would have no problem with an airline publishing a calendar, with each date marked with any premium associated with the date. These charts would rarely need to be changed. Prices can and should be updated periodically, perhaps monthly or seasonally, to adjust for inflation and changes in fuel prices (which are highly hedged, so fluctuations should be modest). Prices should also reflect the actual flights you take, and not things like how long you stay at the destination, which is 100% purely used to price discriminate (if you stay a very short or very long time, they assume you are price insensitive…if you stay 1-2 weeks, they assume you are tourist). Flights should be sold by the leg, with round trip prices being about twice the one-way cost. There is so much goofiness in their pricing schemes, all of which add to hassle for the customers, that I could go on all day. Why do they do this? For no other reason than to charge price insentitive people more, which has no economic purpose but rather is purely a “pie capture” exercise.

                    Btw, this particular form of price discrimination is very critically dependant on the non-transferability of tickets. Otherwise, traders would use arbitrage to negate the airlines’ advantages, and they would then switch to a simple pricing system. There is a reason you don’t see all this kind of sillyness with concert tickets, for example.

                    Cell phone plans are equally goofy here in the US. Someone who talks for endless hours but sends zero text messages pays less than someone who talks for a mere few minutes a month but sends a single text, despite the obvious fact that the former used orders of magnitude more bandwidth. Most companies only have “unlimited” data (or make a la carte data so expensive that no sane person would use it), despite the fact that many if not most of their customers are using only a modest amount of bandwidth, while a small percent, who pay the same, use much much more. This is simply not the case in any other country which I am familiar with, where prices are much more aligned with what you actually use. Why the discrepancy? Price discrimination, which is powerful enough that it offsets the subsidies for the data hogs that their pricing scheme inherently incorporates.

                    1. So start your own airline and cell phone companies. By the way, there is already an airline that operates similarly to what you say. It’s called Southwest and they’re one of the few turning a profit. You are free to fly it. Maybe you can help change the system…but then it can’t be done without authoritarian legislation, right? In the meantime, just take Amtrack…for a sterling example of government transportation.

                      As for the cell phones, you are free to not utilize those services. I am at a loss to determine why you believe our cell phone providers should conform to the pricing structure in other countries. Why would you want to pay by data volume? Wouldn’t that be much more confusing than unlimited? It may be in the future that data transfer speeds to cell phones become fast enough where tiered service (much as in home internet) becomes a demand of the market. As for now, I don’t believe customers are clamoring for that. In the end, if customers want it, it will likely happen.

                    2. You are right, CP. Southwest is doing darned well by taking on the old-order oligopoly. More power to them. You see the same thing happening with some new entrants to the cell phone market like Revol Wireless. Neither changes the fact that as it stands today, we are under the influence of an oligopoly and their self-serving pricing scheme. Even if either of these companies, or ones like them, “win” the market, they may well just turn around and become like the organizations they consumed.

                      I think you are mis-reading the cell phone market. There are a lot of people I know who are saying the same thing: why should we be paying for “unlimited” plans and absurd numbers of minutes, when we use our phones so little? Why should we be paying more for texts than voice?

                    3. That’s precisely what I am referring to: price discrimination.

                      It mustn’t be, because price discrimination is Econ 101 and completely in line with theories about marginal price determination.

                      In a handful of scenarios, it can theoretically be a good thing (regulated monopolies such as utilities)

                      No, it’s not a handful of scenarios. Without the dirt-cheap online option, I couldn’t fly overseas to see friends and family. The idea that everyone on the plane should pay, say, $2000, which is egregious for most but happily borne by the business-class set, is ridiculous. Price discrimination is absolutely a good thing for the vast majority of fliers.

                      You didn’t respond to my lemonade stand comment, either. How exactly does price discrimination shrink the pie?

                      it is simply a burden that has no other purpose than to transfer wealth from consumers to producers.

                      Dammit, no! It also transfers wealth among the different segments in a way that is happily borne by all parties. If it costs me $2k to fly international, well, I don’t fly. I can’t, because I’m a student living within my means. Now, airlines would love to have me fly and would be perfectly willing to give me a seat on their half-full flight, as it would help them cover the fixed costs of flight. But instead, it’s a flat rate for all and the marginal consumers effectively subsidizing those with deep pockets and a need to fly.

                      In the meantime, the complicated pricing schemes that result are a negative for society. Take, for example, the difference between flying and buying a bullet train ticket in Japan.

                      The latter takes a few minutes, and there is no reason to “shop around” because the prices are fixed: tickets from A to B always cost X at the station, and just slightly a fixed amount less at discount travel agents that can be found almost anywhere.

                      What about local trains, rapids, special rapids, limited expresses, flights, night buses, etc.? It’s no secret that businessmen frequent the Shinkansen, and in my experience students look at alternative means first. There’s not a substitute for a flight from Tokyo to New York, though, so you get tiered pricing with a very similar service. Within Japan, I mean, damn, if you don’t think we’re the epitome of differently priced options for travel I don’t know what to say. Besides, we also have discount passes for tourists and students during certain times of the year.

                      I don’t think I have ever spent less than an hour buying a plane ticket, because hundreds of dollars are at stake as I watch the prices bounce up and down. All that time lost has zero utility and is pure waste.

                      I won’t deny that inefficiencies exist, but those are solved by simplified pricing structures, not the complete elimination of any pricing differences between completely different consumer sets. And comparison shopping alone is hardly a reason to cry foul when people comparison shop for a $20 difference in jeans.

                      Also, kayak.com. Unless I have a complex flight, I just put it in a range of dates and can choose the cheapest one in a few minutes.

                      Here, voice is the cheapest for most people most of the time, even though it obviously has the highest marginal cost for the company, by a wide margin.

                      It’s the cheapest only insofar as they’ve paid for the minutes upfront. It’s still the bulk of any bill. And frankly, I’d rather pay for unlimited monthly usage of data (because calculating how many “packets” I use is extremely confusing), for example, so there have to be different options for someone like me versus some cell user who doesn’t plan to use the internet much.

                      Also, most countries with smartphones now offer unlimited data plans, especially with the advent of the iPhone.

                      http://www.rca.org/Page.aspx?pid=2995

                      “Price discrimination can be accepted as ethical only if efficiency is all that matters, and justice or fairness don’t matter, or alternatively if we accept the libertarian idea that anything that is voluntary is ipso facto fair. Christians should refuse to accept either of these premises.”

                      Thank you for your radical Christian perspective. Back in the real world, we believe in value-added. Also:

                      “What do we do about … the high fixed cost of bringing scheduled airline service to a community? Price discrimination might be justified in such a case, as long as it can be designed to be progressive in its distributional effect … Airline price discrimination tends to be progressive as it is now.”

                      So your citation disagrees with you anyway. You should at least bother to read the conclusions.

                      Your final point would have merit in some beautiful competitive market. Unfortunately, the ones of which I speak really aren’t all that competitive.

                      @#$%. Airlines are competitive. Why do you think not a one of them can turn a profit?

                      Indeed, economists often use the observation of price discrimination as evidence that monopoly pricing power exists.

                      Almost every movie theater in town price discriminates. Kids, the elderly, and sometimes students and the military all pay different prices than most adults. This is not reflective of Regal having a monopoly, but rather to try and get more students, families and seniors in the door.

                      why should we be paying for “unlimited” plans and absurd numbers of minutes, when we use our phones so little? Why should we be paying more for texts than voice?

                      Sigh. “A lot of people” have never heard of prepaid cells, plans with a few hundred minutes per month or texting plans? And you don’t pay more for texts than voice, unless you have some $100 unlimited calling plan and are shocked to find that you had to pay an extra ten cents for that text, which means the marginal costs of texts is higher and thus texts are more expensive… in which case you’d just be an idiot.

                    4. Hey, I realized something!

                      I don’t think I have ever spent less than an hour buying a plane ticket, because hundreds of dollars are at stake as I watch the prices bounce up and down. All that time lost has zero utility and is pure waste.

                      So you’re one of those online discount types.

                      You are aware that all of those prices would be much higher if airlines were forced to remove business class offerings, right? That it would be much more unaffordable for you. That sure, Captain Kirk’s site wouldn’t tell you that flights from SFO to CLT cost $428-1109. It would just say $550. It would make the decision easier, but if that makes you happy why don’t you just click the first price you see?

                      Seriously, you do realize that you’re advocating a transfer of wealth from those below deck to those above, right? Maybe I’m not saying that right…

                      “Why are you advocating our oligopolistic airlines adopt a regressive price structure that discriminates against those who can’t afford the same luxuries as corporate fatcats (who should be hanging from the gallows)?”

                    5. You didn’t respond to my lemonade stand comment, either. How exactly does price discrimination shrink the pie

                      Imagine the lemonade seller simply set his price at a dollar. Children would be unaffected. Adults who bought at $2 would now buy at $1, and be $1 ahead, this gain being directly the seller’s. However, a new crop of adults who had a price between $1.00 and $2.00 now buy, and both sides profit where neither did before.

                      And that’s assuming that because this case is absurdly trivial, there is no cost to either maintaining nor nagivating a more complex price structure.

                      Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that I am opposed to business-class seats or any other premium service. Price discrimination is about charging different prices for the same thing, not different things.

                      But I think we have strayed from the original point, which is that price discrimination is primary a tool of “pie capture”. Its affects on the size of the pie can be in either direction, depending on the specific circumstances of the market.

                      Btw, pre-paid cells are generally only useful after you own the phone outright and/or you use the phone an incredibly small amount. It takes just a trivial amount of a la carte phone usage to push past the point where a completely overkill plan is cheaper. Quite deliberately, nothing exists that suits most people, who use their phone, just not that much.

                    6. Imagine the lemonade seller simply set his price at a dollar. Children would be unaffected. Adults who bought at $2 would now buy at $1, and be $1 ahead, this gain being directly the seller’s. However, a new crop of adults who had a price between $1.00 and $2.00 now buy, and both sides profit where neither did before.

                      No, you’ve just increased consumer surplus. That’s the consumer’s goal. A producer produces to maximize his surplus. Moreover, in your example, societal wealth is “maximized” by the producer giving away his product for free or by the producer practicing perfect price discrimination and forcing everyone to pay the maximum that they’re willing to pay. In any case, you completely ignores that businesses make their decision to enter a market based on its profit potential, and if little Jimmy packs up shop when the homeowners’ association forces him to set prices at $1, there’s even less pie to go around.

                      But most likely, the kid’s just smart and realizes that adults are willing to pay more than children, and he experiments with prices for adults to maximize his revenue.

                      More or less, coffee shops do the same thing with lattes at double the price of their house blend, Golden Corral does the same thing with active duty coming free, grocery stores do the same thing with store brands.

                      Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that I am opposed to business-class seats or any other premium service. Price discrimination is about charging different prices for the same thing, not different things.

                      “airlines and mobile operators are instead wasting everyone’s time trying to charge high prices to those who are realitively indifferent to price, and lower prices to the price sensitive.”

                      Different booking classes are usually considered a textbook example of price discrimination (as your own link, again, notes) and the most obvious example of different prices paid by consumers for essentially the same thing. Moreover, all of your other complaints can be mitigated by just using a decent flight search engine.

                      Btw, pre-paid cells are generally only useful after you own the phone outright and/or you use the phone an incredibly small amount.

                      The phones are as low as $20 or so at Wal-Mart.

                      It takes just a trivial amount of a la carte phone usage to push past the point where a completely overkill plan is cheaper. Quite deliberately, nothing exists that suits most people, who use their phone, just not that much.

                      AT&T:
                      * $3/day, free minutes
                      * $1/day, $.10/min mobile to mobile
                      * $0/day, $.25/min
                      * $60/mo, free minutes

                      Verizon:
                      * $4/day, $0/min
                      * $2/day, $0.05/min, free mobile to mobile, nights, weekends
                      * $1/day, $0.10/min, free mobile to mobile
                      * $0/day, $0.25/min

                      Virgin Mobile (Sprint):
                      * $20/mo, 200 min
                      * $30/mo, 400 min
                      * $50/mo, 1000 min
                      * $0/mo, $0.20/min
                      (in other words, a very simple 50% discount for every 100 minutes you commit to purchasing)

                      T-Mobile:
                      * $50/mo, free minutes
                      * $15/mo, $0.10/min
                      * $0/mo, as low as $0.10/min (if you refill $100 at a time)

                      And then there are a bunch of texting, email and data plans.

                      And it’s not shocking that all of these plans require a premium for total flexibility.

                    7. (in other words, a very simple 50% discount for every 100 minutes you commit to purchasing)

                      In other news, I can’t do math.

  47. Has anyone paused to ask themselves why is the Secretary of State making tax policy recommendations?

    Maybe Secretary Duncan (Education) should be commenting on the recent elections in Afghanistan?

  48. If you have so much to give then FUCKING GIVE – that would set a much better example then telling me, who makes less than you that I don’t pay enough in taxes.

    1. When did I say that you, who makes less than I, are paying too little in taxes? I’m thinking more along the lines of millionaires (the truly rich and not just the upper middle class) who really DON’T pay their fair share. I am not opposed to tax cuts for the middle class. I am opposed to tax breaks for the filthy stinking rich.

      1. I think he meant me. Is my face red.

  49. I don’t think that Gillespie’s hair moved the whole time during the video…….scary.

  50. from Gillespie:
    “What she really means is that the rich could always pay more than they’re already paying”

    Dude, take away the “always” and you’re right on the money. I come from a rich family, with rich family-friends, and I can tell you that the rich most certainly can pay a good amount more. Come here to Northeastern NJ one day, and look at how god damned many huge-ass houses there are. And even the smaller houses have huge price tags on them. one of these large houses can easily be a million dollars – when did a million dollars become a trivial amount of money? The problem is that simply increasing the tax rate won’t do it, the tax code needs to be simplified and made more fair towards the poor.

    And of course the “always” part probably is true for the way a lot of liberals think.

    1. by my comment, I did mean to stress that the rich can pay more taxes, specifically the way things are now

    2. when did a million dollars become a trivial amount of money?

      When printing currency and borrowing money were exchanged for fiscal responsiblity.

  51. Subject: Fw: Definition of Socialism

    Buy now and pay later scheme of Obama:

    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/23654

    “Socialism is a system where the government directly owns and manages businesses. Corporatism is a system where businesses are nominally in private hands, but are in fact controlled by the government. In a corporatist state, government officials often act in collusion with their favored business interests to design policies that give those interests a monopoly position, to the detriment of both competitors and consumers.”

    Even a liberal should be able to understand this video on “The Bankrupting of America”:

    http://www.bankruptingamerica……g-america/

  52. “It all depends on what your definition of fair is”. This is the important question.

    If % of income is fair, then I would say income taxes are a good way to make things fair. If 21% (everyone) vs 26% (the rich) is the real disparity, it is not all that bad the way it is. It is remarkable to me that is indeed this close.

    People do seem to quickly forget excise and payroll taxes, which are, after all 2/3 of the government revenue, and decry the level of income taxes on the rich. But this video is one of the few that seems to get this idea right – that there are many taxes that come down on us all, beyond our governement’s 1/3 revenue sourced income tax.

    If we consider how much excise taxes on fuel, energy, clothing, and other basic needs are far more impacting on the poor and middle class in this country, consider further:

    Massive excise taxes are on basic supplies, such as wood, steel, food and other basic materials (I do not have numbers, but I have heard it is around 40% tax in the price). People may say our lumber, agricultural, and steel industries must be protected, those jobs depend on it. But I think for all those employed by those industries, 100s more people’s jobs and business’s depend on those materials staying cheap. It would be better to import cheap basic supplies, let the dollar go up, and then produce things that create jobs and give us all a better living standard.

  53. Life is inherently unfair, so I’m personally helping to level the playing field by drinking to excess. Even that doesn’t work all the time.

  54. OBVIOUSLY….. how do you think they stay rich…. a duh…. they dont pay enough taxes to keep them poor

  55. What really eats me up is that another damn liberal and his ilk are acting as if they represent the essence of liberalism, when, in fact, welfare liberalism is a complete divergence from the original spirit of liberalism. We, the libertarians, are the last standard-bearers of true liberalism, the idea that all individuals should have the freedom to live their lives however they see fit, as long as they do not harm others.

  56. Welfare liberalism is what you got when you combine a liberal with below-average intelligence with Marx’s bogus economic theories.

  57. Taxation = Theft. Plain & Simple.

    Anyone who supports the forcible taking (Taxation) of Person ‘A’s Property by a Third Party (by Another Individual OR Government) to give to Person ‘B’ has any moral leg to stand on at all.

    Theft is Theft whether it is done by an individual or the State.

    1. Ownership is theft.

      When no one has anywhere left to stand, march them to the sea, unless someone owns the sea.

      1. There is no such thing as theft without ownership. Your statement makes no sense.

        1. Then by the transitive property, get rid of ownership then you get rid of taxes.

          Problem solved.

        2. Right, that’s what I’m saying. If ownership is theft, then if there is no such thing as ownership, then there is no such thing as theft. If my statement makes no sense, then yours doesn’t either, because we’re making the same statement.

          1. No, we’re not saying the same thing. You can only steal what another person owns. Someone has to own something legitimately for that thing to be stolen. If there is no such thing as legitimate property, then nothing is being stolen. Therefore, ownership cannot be equal to theft.

      2. The first thing you own is yourself and your life. Are you saying you shouldn’t?

    2. lol someone got audited.

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    When no one has anywhere left to stand, march them to the sea, unless someone owns the sea.

  60. Fairness in paying for government provided goods and services is no different than it is in the private sector – on a user fee basis.

    No one’s income level is a “service” that has been provided to them by government (at any level). Neither is anyone’s consumption level.

    Consequently there is nothing “fair” about any income or consumption based tax.

    The only tax that comes closest to being fair is the gas tax to fund road construction and maintainence. The more you use the road, the more gas you use and the more taxes you pay. It isn’t perfect of course because some gas tax funds get siphoned off to fund mass transit boondoggles and such, but it’s closer to being fair than anything else we have in this country.

  61. The reason the rich should pay more taxes isn’t primarily because they can afford it, rather it is because they are the ones who are, by design, the principal beneficiaries of “The System”. I guarantee that the vast majority of our “self-made” millionares wouldn’t be so fortunate in most other countries of the world. Many of the things that our government does are for the purpose of providing a “friendly environment” for people to make money. When they do so it is only right that they pay for maintaining the setup from which they have so handsomely profitted.

  62. If you look at total taxes, not just income tax, the wealthy pay less a s a percentage of gross income thatn the middle class does. not even close.

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