Economics

If Washington Is So Great, Let's All Pay for It

Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?

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President Barack Obama kicked off his "Shared Responsibility, Shared Prosperity" tour last week with a spirited defense of progressive principles—hereafter known as America's "basic social compact." Now, for those of you who believe we already have an American compact in the Constitution, your selfishness is undoubtedly clouding your feeble memory.

And isn't it about time we shared responsibility and kicked in our share for the extraordinary benefits provided to us by Washington? And by "all" of us, of course, I mean the folks who make more money than I do.

In his speech on the debt crisis, Obama agreed—laying out his philosophy on the issue by explaining that we must "reduce spending in the tax code." This mystifying phrase, I came to discover after a thorough investigation, translates to this: "Hey, let's tax the rich because everyone hates those bastards anyway." Here the president also explained that your earnings, if you manage to accumulate enough profit—presumably by robbing the needy, the elderly, the handicapped, and the environment -- by default, it belongs to the IRS. Keeping too much of yours, as Obama points out, is tantamount to taking it from Washington and, thus, those who really need it.

So it's imperative for Obama to cultivate a tax system that has incrementally shifted the burden of government to a shrinking pool of taxpayers. (It is well-documented that the rich pay the majority of income taxes.) There are many arguments against progressive taxation economically, but it is also true that it erodes the health of our democratic institutions. Rather than shared responsibility, we have a growing number of people who rely on others to pay for their votes as they become increasingly disconnected from the cost of government.

The Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, estimated this week that 45 percent of U.S. households paid not a single dollar in federal income tax for 2010. And The Fiscal Times reported this week that "for the first time since the Great Depression, households are receiving more income from the government than they are paying the government in taxes." This, in Obamaland, is called job creation. But does anyone believe the trajectory is healthy? No doubt, these events allow Obama to spread the wealth around to those who deserve it—clean energy outfits, teachers unions, czars, etc.—but they also create a growing number of voters with little stake in stopping out-of-control growth.

Many conservatives argued that lowering the tax burden would free up capital and induce job creation. "Washington would likely see increased revenues as prosperity grows," they claimed. This must be a fact, as economists I choose to believe say it is. It's unfortunate, though, that most Republicans won't go further and argue that everyone, even the rich—even the super-filthy rich!—deserves to be treated equally by the government.

It is also too bad that these politicians won't admit that revenue, whether we have more of it or less, is basically irrelevant. After all, doesn't the federal government have enough money? We need spending caps and entitlement reform, not ways to generate more revenue—as if Washington's expenditures ever match revenue anyway. The real size of government can only be measured by what D.C. spends, not by what it takes in.

If, as the enlightened voices on the left contend, the American people deeply love their federal services, their dependency programs, their regulations, their industrious public education department, let's all pay. Why shouldn't we take on a proportionally fair share in the joy? Even income tax-paying Americans don't really feel the cost of government because of how we collect taxes. But let's create better consumers. Consumers pay and demand results. Dependents, on the other hand, just demand. They have no reason not to.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter at davidharsanyi.

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  1. "The Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, estimated this week that 45 percent of U.S. households paid not a single dollar in federal income tax for 2010."

    Que the usual liberal suspects chiming in with their retort that those folks to pay FICA payroll taxes, and sale taxes and all sorts of other taxes -blah, blah, blah.

    As if that had anything to do with letting them off the hook in paying federal income taxes.

    Those folks are using services that are financed by those federal income taxes so they should be paying something for them the same as all the people who DO pay federal income taxes.

    It's as simple as that.

    1. I don't think it's a liberal retort. You can also argue that poor people pay a lot of FICA taxes even though their life expectancy is way shorter than those earning higher wages.

      1. Is that actually true--that poor people have a substantially shorter lifespan than wealthier people? In the U.S., I mean. I'm sure the numbers are different by some years, but it's not like the poor are all dropping dead at fifty, either.

        1. Ugh, I could only find a Krugman quote: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....expectancy

          But somehow this Nobel prize winner cannot make the connection to FICA taxes?

        2. Black male average life expectancy is currently 64 years old. The average black man does not survive long enough to claim SS.

          1. Is that number skewed by the large population of black males whose deaths are crime related at a young age?

            1. Of course.

          2. There's also the fact that a large percentage of our poor aren't black, let alone black males.

          3. Brett, that may be, but technically SS isn't a tax. It's (in theory) an insurance. Still, that's a good argument for scrapping SS altogether and letting people invest that money for their own retirement.

            1. You know the budget talks ain't serious until politicians honestly state that "Contributions"--i.e., Medicare, SS, etc.--are taxes, and it's all an accounting fiction.

              /Really don't like that Republicans ain't honest about this.

              1. They're not taxes, because you're taking the money back out in the end. What they are is a Ponzi scheme.

                /What Republicans? This is a libertarian publication.

                1. They're still taxes because they aren't voluntary payments and they are applied on earnings. There is no obligation for the Social Security Administration to make payments to any individual. There is no "account" for any person. Therefore it is just a tax, not a policy, and not an account.

                  If they aren't taxes, then you wouldn't have to pay them.

                  1. But it is indeed a vast Ponzi scheme that makes Bernie Madoff look like a Boy Scout.

                2. They're not taxes, because you're taking the money back out in the end.

                  It's a tax because the current payments go to pay current obligations. The "surplus" was spent a long time ago on other things.

                  What makes it a Ponzi scheme has been the program's reliance on exponential growth in inflation and population to keep it solvent. Now that it's a revenue-negative program, thanks to so many people being out of work, the supports are going to start collapsing.

            2. Actually FICA is technically, and literally, a tax.

              Social Security is technically and literally a federal benefit program, totally unrelated to FICA.

              1. Say a wealthy person who has a low income wants to donate all their income to a charity, oh wait, FICA. Works the same for the poor. Maybe in the name of equality we shouldn't let anyone but registered businesses deduct anything. It wouldn't even be a "tax increase".

          4. What is your point???

        3. One thing is missing from this. Poor people in the U.S. don't all stay poor. Many people are technically poor when they're young but move on to good paying careers.

      2. It is a liberal retort that I've seen posted on various message boards and seen mouthed by lefty politicians like Charles Rangle.

        It is essentially trying to change the subject.

        It's like saying that someone shouldn't be required to pay their electric bill because they paid their water bill.

        1. It's like saying that someone shouldn't be required to pay their electric bill because they paid their water bill.

          What a great idea! Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to?

        2. I think the analogy is more like having to pay your electricity bill 40 years in advance. If you know you won't get any electricity in 40 years, there's little point in paying the bill.

          1. Wow!! Poorer people know when they're gonna die? I had no idea!

            1. They don't, but on average they do...

              1. The Impact of Income on Mortality: Evidence from the Social Security Notch

                There is widespread and longstanding agreement that life expectancy and income are positively correlated. However, it has proven much more difficult to establish a causal relationship since income and health are jointly determined. We use a major change in the Social Security law as exogenous variation in income to examine the impact of income on mortality in an elderly population. The legislation created a notch' in Social Security benefits based upon date of birth; those born before January 1, 1917 generally receive higher benefits than those born afterwards. We compare mortality rates after age 65 for males born in the second half of 1916 and the first half of 1917. Data from restricted-use versions of the National Mortality Detail File combined with Census data allows us to count all deaths among elderly Americans between 1979 and 1993. We find that the higher income group has a statistically significantly higher mortality rate, contradicting the previous literature. We also find that the younger cohort responded to lower incomes by increasing post-retirement work effort. These results suggest that moderate employment has beneficial health effects for the elderly.

                Emphasis added

          2. Uh no.

            The point is that they are using government sevices NOW that are being paid by federal income taxes and they should be paying for them.

            The fact that they are paying FICA taxes has nothing to do with it.

            All the people who ARE paying federal income taxes are paying FICA taxes as well - and paying a whole lot more on an absolute dollar basis to boot.

            1. And FICA revenue isn't used to pay for current government services? It just means the tax system is somewhat less progressive than if you take only income taxes into account.

              1. "And FICA revenue isn't used to pay for current government services?"

                Whether it is or isn't is also irrelevant.

                Federal income taxes ARE used to pay for current government services to people who aren't paying any federal income taxes.

                They should start paying for them.

                It's as simple as that. All the yakking about other types of taxes is mere obfuscation of that fact.

                1. "Obfuscation of that fact" like other taxes? Ignore this tax here and count that one there? The young people do not benefit from the old who are both inflating the dollar by both paying lower percentages and demanding unsustainable entitlements. The young people are getting doubly fucked by Obama-care. Basically, FICA is a very nasty way of transferring the wealth to the baby boomers. If you want to ignore FICA and pick on poor people with 8 dependents who are leeching the system be my guest. The government hates the responsible spenders who are poor to middle class who take care of their own bills. The government entitles you shit.

                  1. taking care of the poor used to be done in the neighborhood by churches...
                    the Gub'mint stepped in and, well, we all know the efficiencies to scale, the heartwarming stories of the faceless bureaucrat going the extra mile...
                    brings tears to my eyes...

      3. The key there is don't be poor!

    2. Those folks are using services that are financed by those federal income taxes so they should be paying something for them the same as all the people who DO pay federal income taxes.

      It's as simple as that.

      I'm not challenging your assertion but I'm curious: What service is paid for by the income tax that the non paying households are using?

      1. Well, every non-excludable service the Feds provide. So start with Depts of Defense, Justice, Interior, and State. Then there are the excludable but universal ones, like Education, Social Security and Medicare. And lastly we get to the ones that any particular non-payer may not be using, but that are mostly used by non-payers, eg Medicaid and various refundable tax credits.

        I probably missed a few in there as well.

  2. The only people that love spreading the wealth around are those that get the wealth spread to them. Because there are so many of them, they all vote to continue their privileged position in society. Meanwhile, those who are productive to society are essentially punished for their good behavior, while those who refuse to work are rewarded. What a world!

    1. Other people love wealth distribution. Those that get to use it to buy political patronage.

    2. Yes -- "privileged position" of not being able to succeed without having a bit of help.

      What you're saying is not true simply because the vast amount of wealthy people who very much support "spreading the wealth around" and do it, a lot.

      Those who are productive,don't get "punished." They pay for the country they live in. Everyone who can does. Well, except for the gigantic corporations operating within it. They get a free pass, of course.

      You're right, what a world, that has such people in it. Unfortunately, I'm constantly reminded that these people -- people like you -- are selfish and ignorant. What a world!

      1. Charlotte George|4.20.11 @ 12:43PM|#
        "...Unfortunately, I'm constantly reminded that these people -- people like you -- are selfish and ignorant. What a world!"

        You should stay away from that mirror.

        1. Actually, the selfless people are the ones that screw up the world - the ones that don't care enough about themselves that they become poor and give people like you a reason to take my money. I guess you're being selfless, too. You don't care enough about yourself to show the world that you're an idiot.

          1. Yeah, that was meant as a reply to Charlotte George.

      2. Pay for the country they live in? STFU! You're not entitled to my money. Go make your own. If you do, then you can dictate what you do with that money. Do not imagine for a moment that you can dictate what I do with MY money.

      3. Fuck you Charlotte. Our Corporate Tax Rate is 35%, so don't sit there and try to act like corporations don't pay taxes. They pay theirs and they give you a fucking job and food to eat too.

        Maybe you can't read but 45% of the country doesn't pay income tax. Every fucking year I get to hear about my wife's coworkers getting fat fucking checks from the government while I pay them even more.

        Goddamn I hate people like you.

        1. Every fucking year I get to hear about my wife's coworkers getting fat fucking checks from the government while I pay them even more.

          Especially when some of those refund checks are for MORE than they paid in income taxes.

        2. How meaningful is a rate when corporations have a plethora of tax dodges they can use to reduce - or even eliminate the rate? When you look at what they actually pay, it's closer to 20%.

          1. that's still more than what most people knowingly pay.

        3. Fuck you Charlotte. Our Corporate Tax Rate is 35%, so don't sit there and try to act like corporations don't pay taxes.

          Actually, corporations don't pay taxes. The tax burden is always borne ultimately by consumers, and businesses aren't consumers.

          The reason you have a corporate tax is so that voters will be deceived about their real tax burden, which in turn facilitates the expansion of government. And this is deliberate.

          1. Yes, they kind of are...

            Vertical integration isn't the only way companies are arranged anymore...

          2. that is true, but they still get a bill from the IRS saying "Give us our money or we'll brake your legs".

      4. You say selfish like its a bad thing. Self-interest is the essence of the survival of all biological organisms. You seem to forget that human society has existed for tens of thousands of years without "social security".

    3. Who other than a libertarian could with a straight face refer to those on welfare as being in a priviliged position...

      1. Who other than a progressive could with a straight face refer to those on welfare as accepting the consequences of their own bad decisions...

        1. Bad decisions such as being born to poor parents--wore, poor black parents? These things have a huge effect on one's success in life.

          1. Nothing is more detrimental to poor black kids than the idea, perputated by their leaders, that to make the most of oneself is to be white and a traitor to one's race. Mommy and daddy's situation may be bad, but nothing hurts more than the overwhelming societal pressure to remain in mommy and daddy's situation.

          2. Having poor parents cannot make you poor. That is no mechanism. They are merely correlated.

            IQ, a culture of dependency, and bad personal habits and decisions are what determine your success in life.

            1. I'd love a link to the study that demonstrates this.

              A child of poor parents who goes to college has LESS of a chance of being financially successful as an adult than the child of wealthy parents who does not go to college. Who your parents are is vastly important in how successful you're able to be. There are of course exceptions, but we shouldn't base our society around them.

              1. A child of poor parents who goes to college has LESS of a chance of being financially successful as an adult than the child of wealthy parents who does not go to college.

                So? They don't teach you how to be successful at college, they teach you how to be a good statist.

                Furthermore, people don't self-evaluate their own success in direct comparison to everybody else's position. Instead, they tend to evaluate more on what they've accomplished vs. where they started.

              2. 1. Cite your reference please.
                2. Even if true, its a 3D argument in a 4D world.

                My grandfather was a child street criminal until taken in at Boystown. He became a teacher. My father became a safety manager for a fortune 500 company. I became a physician.

                Is it true that poverty stunts you? Yes.

                Is it true that that stunting will keep you from ever succeeding? NO!

                Is it true that if you get out even just a bit, your kids and grand kids will have a better shot to stay out of poverty and maybe move up the food chain a little further? Yes.

                Thomas Jefferson wrote that he studied politics and war so that his son could study agriculture and engineering and so his grandson could study art and philosophy. Its always been a 4D problem. False thoughts have us thinking otherwise.

                Education and personal initiative as well as a sound set of values are the keys to getting people out of poverty.

                Simply throwing in the towel on a kid because his mom is welfare-dependent is not valid. Just because one generation is trapped in the quicksand of dependence, doesn't mean that we should just stand around waiting for some gummint social worker to powder their popo's and send their kids to gummint daycare to eat the gummint cheese. To think otherwise is to fall into the trap of the cognitive distortion of liberalism, that we are all just helpless without the government. Its to fall under the distorted thinking that any thing that happens to you is not your fault.

                Blaming race is equally invalid. We have a few African American people in my city who couldn't recall the last time they cashed a paycheck. We have a lot of African American people who are professionals and executives. We have a lot of people who just got here from Sudan, Togo, and the Ivory Coast who couldn't tell you where the welfare office is, but they could tell you where the best places to get started are. They could also tell you where best to send your kids to school in my town. To blame poverty on race is to ignore the facts around you in the common shared reality. There are plenty of people of all races who are doing quite well. Its also to fall under the effect of another cognitive distortion, that everyone who looks a certain way will all behave the same. {ie: all whites are cryptoracists (except of course for liberals) and all blacks are helpless benighted victims who just can't make it in society outside the fields of sports and entertainment.)

                1. Anecdotes don't trump statistics.

                  1. Here's a statistic for you (and can be used as support for BRM's long post.

                    The US Census Bureau says:

                    In 2000, 66% of NYC's Caribbean immigrants over 16 yoa had jobs. 53% of non-immigrant blacks did. Caribbean immigrants got 5.7% Supplemental Security income, twice as many blacks did.

                    The reason for this: Caribbean immigrants don't get welfare until they've been here for two years!

                    They have motivation to go to work and get a job, move up in life. Meanwhile, welfare checks perpetuate poverty, by discouraging working.

                    1. You may be right to an extent, and I'm all for encouraging work. Once full employment is possible then we can have policy directed that way.

                  2. And government cheese doesn't trump busting your ass, Tony. Except when you're a welfare leech.

      2. Who other than a libertarian could with a straight face refer to those on welfare as being in a priviliged position...

        priv-i-leged (def) - Having special rights, advantages, or immunities.

        "Privileged position" doesn't equal "good position" (although, that's the association intellectually dishonest liberals like yourself are hoping people will make when you use the term). Privileged means that somebody in a position of power has facilitated you in taking more than the value of what you've put in. It could still be crappy compared to everybody else.

        1. So the reason you don't give up your income and go on welfare is because you are so principled you don't want to take a handout?

          1. Yes.

          2. And welfare isn't very profitable.

            Think through the post before commenting on it.

        2. It's technically available to anyone, since failure to meet the conditions is a choice, not a question of class or race or something. I can see calling, say, affirmative action privilege, but purely income-based payments is a little bit of a stretch. It isn't a 14th amendment issue, it's just stealing.

    4. Those who have nothing love to share...

  3. Go David Go!! Awesome article. And I'll respond with more, eh, meaningful comments another time... my non-unionized butt has to work for a living.

  4. eventually, you run out of other people's money

    1. eventually, you run out of other people's money

      Oh, I don't think so!

  5. I fucking hate the "Earned" Income Credit and all that bullshit. But I hope that FICA is counted when statements about who paid and who didn't pay are made. Because SS and medicare are regressive income taxes. And we should want everybody to know that, so we can get rid of them ASAP.

    1. Me too. Espeically when you have to explain to people that if they are getting more money than they paid in, that means that money had to come from someone else.... or the chinese.

  6. But those who you claim are more 'productive' actually just got lucky, so it's only right to redistribute income more fairly so those who were not lucky don't get punished for being born to the wrong parents.

    1. Hm. Sarcasm. Cute.

      So, a child born to a poor family in a poor neighborhood doesn't deserve the opportunity to be just as well educated as anyone else? You do realize if we just say, "Fuck 'em, I earned my money, and that five-year-old just wants to suckle my teet!" then that child will almost inevitably grow up to be exactly what you despise?

      If you want a country full of productive people, you have to allow those who are born in shitty circumstances an escape route, a chance to become educated, and skilled, and therefore get a job. So they can pay back what they benefitted from. Or we can just let people be in poverty for the rest of their lives. Naw, you're right, that's better for the country. Then all those-hardworkers, who did get a chance, won't be "punished".

      This isn't even about being fair, this is about what's better for everyone. You WILL have a better life if more people are productive. So let's get them there.

      1. If you want a country full of productive people, you have to allow those who are born in shitty circumstances an escape route, a chance to become educated, and skilled, and therefore get a job.

        And if they don't take any of those opportunities, we can pay them to have a bunch of kids.

        1. Which is why we need to have programs that provide free birth control and abortions. Nobody is getting "paid" to have kids. Maybe things aren't perfect, but providing programs so that the children of poor people grow up healthy, safe and educated isn't paying the parent for having a child. It's investing in a child's future.

          1. And when that child doesn't nothing with that investment, he can have some more kids and we can try again next generation. And the next. And the next. And the next.

            You have the noble poor myth stuck way deep. The myth that never survives if you have any contact with the poor.

            1. Or maybe we shouldn't make policy based on the warped moral priorities of libertarians. As Charlotte explained, it's better for everyone. You are not likely to be born of wealthy parents, so why would you want to amplify the role of luck in people's success?

              1. Only in the fevered imaginations of the idiot left is that agenda "better for everyone." What we have in the U.S. is a little thing called social mobility - far from "inevitably grow[ing] up to be exactly what you despise," the bottom quintile completely changes its population over a five-year period. In Europe, where they have all these great programs that you and Charlotte advocate to "help" the poor, everyone stays...exactly where they are. Forever and ever amen. It's you and Charlotte who want to deny people the opportunity to move up, not us.

                1. Why is it that those who claim the atomistic ability to rise above and conquer are always the ones bitching and whining about the circumstances that make it difficult for them to do so? We're always gonna have government and safety nets. Deal with it and go be productive on those terms. You either have strength of will or you're a wilting flower. Libertarians seem to want to be both.

                  1. Nope. I don't make these arguments for myself. I can easily (well, not easily) pay my taxes. It's society-at-large that's my concern.

                  2. Not that complicated:

                    We think that, in a free environment, everyone can prosper.

                    We don't live in a free environment.

                    Therefore, we have obstacles to prospering. We also have not been given an at all unbiased chance to prove our ability.

                    Despite being poor, in freedom, any one would have a decent change. And (since freedom forbids them) the lack of welfare programs would give the poor some motivation to do better.

          2. Ever see how much manpower we waste on the stupid kids? Special rules and procedures with an army of aides and special ed teachers, while the bright kids stagnate in utter boredom. Great ROI, NCLB and beyond!

          3. Charlotte, come sit by me at my part-time job doing taxes in a storefront. Watch the 23 year old women with 3 children from 3 different fathers, none of whom they married, collect checks from the IRS in excess of $5,000 in spite of the fact that they had nothing withheld from their part-time jobs. They live in subsidized housing, feed their offspring with food stamps and have no plans to attend school or learn a better trade. Then come back in 17 years after the children have aged out of the child tax credit and the EIC and listen to their bitter complaint that "They're taxing the hell out of me!" Then tell me no one is paying them to have children. It's a lousy deal for them and even worse for the children, but we have fostered a system that encourages immature people to look at children as a way to get money from other members of society.

            1. Forget Raul, I want Charlotte to succeed me. She's a true believer.

      2. Charlotte George|4.20.11 @ 12:48PM|#

        Hm. Sarcasm. Cute.

        So, a child born to a poor family in a poor neighborhood doesn't deserve the opportunity to be just as well educated as anyone else? You do realize if we just say, "Fuck 'em, I earned my money, and that five-year-old just wants to suckle my teet!" then that child will almost inevitably grow up to be exactly what you despise?

        If you want a country full of productive people, you have to allow those who are born in shitty circumstances an escape route, a chance to become educated, and skilled, and therefore get a job. So they can pay back what they benefitted from. Or we can just let people be in poverty for the rest of their lives. Naw, you're right, that's better for the country. Then all those-hardworkers, who did get a chance, won't be "punished".
        "....This isn't even about being fair, this is about what's better for everyone. You WILL have a better life if more people are productive. So let's get them there."

        Horseshit 'justification' for "I want your dough, and I'll take it!"

        1. Uh, that's not a real reply. Anybody can say that to anything.

          Oh yeah? Well, what you said was ... horseshit justification! Ha. Showed you.

          Use your mind.

          1. Do you really not understand the concept of property? The money I earn is mine. I earned it fair and square. You have no right to take it from me just to give it to someone else because of their sob story.

            I swear, this new troll is the worst ever. Tony is a tool, MNG can bring up some good points, and shrike is just funny. This woman combines the arrogance of shrike with the stupidity of Tony.

      3. "If you want a country full of productive people, you have to allow those who are born in shitty circumstances an escape route, a chance to become educated, and skilled, and therefore get a job"

        Which plenty of them did on their own for a long strecth of the history of this country long before any of those welfare programs were ever created.

      4. The "poor vs rich" argument does not accurately describe what is happening. 20% of households earn $100K or greater, yet only half of households are paying income taxes.

        While I may not agree with it, I'm not going to complain if families,living in actual poverty, get around paying income tax. When almost half of the households in the country have zero income tax liability, this clearly is not what is happening.

        Even under a progressive tax system, for it to be fair, the rates need to be tied to one another, so that when one groups tax rates go up, everyone's go up. Every household should be expected to kick in something. Not necessarily a lot, but something, so that they have skin in the game. And finally, no one should ever get a refund in a dollar amount greater than they paid in income taxes.

      5. Those born in shitty circumstances do have an escape route. It's called "productive labor" and it doesn't require an enormous social safety net. It just requires people to take responsibility for their own lives.

        I've seen plenty of people start out dirt poor and retire millionaires. Some of them are in my own family. If they can do it, what's stopping the other dirt poor people? Answer: The desire to sacrifice personal freedom and personal responsibility on the altar of self-pity.

      6. Many of those children reject their paid for education. They end up back on welfare when they get older, and they produce more welfare babies. They are not productive. Maybe what you are really arguing for is sterilizing those living on welfare so they won't keep producing welfare babies.

        1. Or we could put a special contraceptive in the water. You can only get the "antidote" if you have paid income taxes for at least 2 years.

          Libertarian as I am, I might get behind that policy...

          1. Well, maybe not THAT policy. You do raise an interesting thought, though. Those of us who pay taxes, are told that we have a "social responsibility" to do so. This "responsibility" has been imposed on us, and limits our liberty, at least to the extent that we don't get to truly benefit from the fruits of our labor.

            What "social responsibility" do people receiving government assistance have, and what sacrifices should society demand from them?

            1. If a poor mom is receiving government aid, should the aid she receives be dependent on her kids regularly attending school, and receiving passing grades? What about making sure the kids don't get into trouble with the law? Should we put conditions on what type of non-essential items they can buy?

              If my freedom as a tax payer is restricted, and I am unable to purchase all of the things I want/need, why is it wrong to ask those benefiting from my labor to do the same?

              1. I can see how they would get around this restriction, as far as grades are concerned. Their kids would do poorly in school out of lack of interest or any other reason. but they will claim a learning disability and put the kid in special ed. This will up the burden on tax payers to fund more kids in these programs.

              2. No way the progressives would go for that. You're still "punishing" the child for having bad parents. You can't even make payments contigent on the child's actions because, of course, children can't be expected to behave responsibly (these days). Progressives will never back down from the position that all children up to the age of 18 deserve a great deal of financial support, regardless of their behavior or the behavior of their gaurdians.

            2. Ok, that policy goes a little far. How about you just need to go to your doctor/health clinic to get an injection of the antidote.

          2. I would pretty much be fine if no one got the antidote, and it wasn't even the government that did it. Children of Men world would kick ass.

      7. Charlotte,

        Welfare programs for the poor have been in place for decades. They have not reduced the poverty rate in the slightest. Instead, they have created an extreme culture of dependency which acts to perpetuate the poverty. This is simply another area where "well-intentioned" governmental programs have failed to do anything about a problem and, in some ways, made it worse. The same could be said of the educational system you claim everyone has a right to. Per pupil spending has increased massively in the past few decades, yet results have stagnated. Again, throwing money at a problem does not solve the problem.

      8. So, a child born to a poor family in a poor neighborhood doesn't deserve the opportunity to be just as well educated as anyone else?

        I'm glad to see you admit that our public schools and the Department of Education are colossal fucking failures.

        If you want a country full of productive people, you have to allow those who are born in shitty circumstances an escape route, a chance to become educated, and skilled, and therefore get a job.

        Which is irrelevant in a service-based economy that spends more than it makes. Furthermore, the education market is nothing more than a glorified certification program, and has nothing to do with education anymore. If you're arguing that our universities are educating people rigorously and deeply today, you're dumber than I thought.

        Or we can just let people be in poverty for the rest of their lives. Naw, you're right, that's better for the country. Then all those-hardworkers, who did get a chance, won't be "punished".

        Some people are worthless to society and always will be, no matter how much paper money you throw at them or how many opportunities you provide. Sorry to shatter your illusions about the "spark of potential."

      9. America = Escape Route
        why on earth do people put their very lives in jeopardy to come here, free cheese?
        no freedom...

  7. I believe in progressive taxation (albeit preferably on land and corporate value, not income taxation).

    If we had every person paying 20% of their income to taxes, this would disproportionately burden the poor and significantly increase poverty, resulting in the Left increasing the amount of welfare dependency programs for the poor. With progressive taxes, the poor get to spend their money on their basic needs. The poor have little discretionary income compared to the wealthy and upper-middle class, and I'd rather them keep their non-discretionary income than pay taxes and expect the government to provide even more for their basic needs in return for their burden.

    Libertarians continually fail to see that poverty (and inequality) is the second most politically convenient argument for increasing government, after security. I believe that laissez-faire libertarianism is the antidote to poverty in general while welfare exacerbates it, but the government taking the poor's nondiscretionary income worsens it even more.

    1. On the other hand, maybe if people had some skin in the game, they would be a liuttle less eager to vote for more government.

      1. True to some degree, but paying for government also makes one ask "what am I getting for it?" Some people determine it's not worth it and oppose government, others seek to get as much (or more) back as they can. I can't see how taking away the poor's grocery money and making it harder to rent and pay bills will result in them demanding cutting government services for them.

        1. It wouldn't be the grocery money. It would be the money for cell phones, nails, nice cars, flatscreen tvs, etc. If a person is receving taxpayer money, he or she should not have any of these things. It is ridiculous that people receiving taxpayer handouts live so comfortably.

          1. When did I advocate they receive taxpayer money? I'm 100% for welfare reform, especially ending welfare and healthcare for wealthy seniors (which bothers me far more than small payments for low income inner city families) and for megacorporations.

            If the poor want to go into debt buying iPhones, that's their own problem. Raising taxes on them would still result in increased government welfare programs and dependency and more opposition to reform, from a politically realistic perspective, because you give the poor skin in the game.

      2. Agree with Hobo Chang Ba. It's pretty stupid to think that taxing the poor into being more poor will result in them voting for less programs. They won't be able to eat, dumbass. They're going to need the programs even more.

        1. So you think fully 45% in this country are poor? It looks like you're the dumbass. Maybe they should give up an i-phone, fake nails, cable TV, and Nintendo before they tell me I should pay more so they can get a free fucking ride, asshole.

          1. Damn, somebody PLEASE tell me where I can get the government to pay for this shit for me?

            I'm a full-time student at a university, I get good grades, working as a caregiver for elderly people. It's pretty fucking hard work, both emotionally and physically. It's the only job I've been able to find. Would you like to know how much I make? $540 a month. I don't have health care. I don't even have car insurance. Because, you know, I have to pay my rent and buy things like tampons and soap. Frivolous, I know. I receive financial aid, thank God, or due to the fact that my parents can't pay for college, I wouldn't be here.

            I'm smart, I'm a hard worker, I'm barely making it. So if I get food stamps, I'm getting a "free fucking ride"? Why don't you consider what's actually happening here, and why these programs are in place. I could use more money. I don't qualify for anything else. Next time you see someone in poverty with an iPhone be sure to ask them to let me in on their little secret so I know how ELSE I can screw over the government since I'm clearly just taking advantage of everyone.

            1. You know, you could take out a student loan if you're so hard up for cash. Sure, you'll be in debt, but your eventual degree should help you pay that off in no time. Unless you're majoring in English. You aren't majoring in English are you?

              1. Unless your planning on going to grad school, "English" can also be replaced with - Communications, Humanities, Political Science, Psychology.

                1. Art, Music, Media Studies, Religion... basically anything that doesn't require you to learn math.

              2. I do have student loans, in addition to the Pell grant and Washington State need grant. This covers my tuition and a little extra for books, and sustenance. This is why I'm able to survive. $540 doesn't cut it.

                No, I'm not majoring in English, but I am planning on being a high school science teacher for the sheer sake of love of science and wanting terribly to educate. I don't know how much I can expect to make.

                1. "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." -someone who's name I forget

                  Of course, sometimes doing what you love doesn't pay the bills. Good luck to you. I hope once you start getting a full time pay check you'll reconsider the Libertarian point of view...

                2. I had planned on being a science teacher as well. Did it for a year - easy and fun, but I couldn't take being paid based on seniority and college credits rather than ability, seeing slackers making much more than me just for putting in the time, so I pivoted into private industry (fortunately I have a hard science degree and not just an education degree) and made out much better. Well, better salary-wise, not benefits and pension. I was poor too, until I got my career going. You will find that your state is only temporary and the hard work and deprivation now will pay off later.

                  1. I couldn't take being paid based on seniority and college credits rather than ability, seeing slackers making much more than me just for putting in the time.

                    I always wondered why this doesn't bother more teachers?

                3. And yeah, to second some guy, I suspect once you are getting hit harder and harder with taxes as your hard work finally pays off, your perspective may change somewhat. Good luck in any case.

                4. That's cool. The science background will give you options, should you decide later on that the teaching thing isn't for you.

                  Many schools are offering some sort of grant program for students willing to teach in any of the STEM areas. Would be worth looking into.

                5. $540.00 per month? That's more than I make...how unfair. I will send you my address so you can forward me my fair share. Thanks in advance.

            2. Damn, somebody PLEASE tell me where I can get the government to pay for this shit for me?

              Pop out a few kids. (kidding)

              Please don't feel that I am judging you, because I respect the fact that you are trying to juggle both school and a FT job. I've been their, and can appreciate how much work that is.

              That said, this can be accomplished with out government assistance. That might mean taking a year to work, and bank some cash, or living with the parent/s (assuming that this is an option), or working a job that offers a tuition assistance program. I'm not saying that this is easy, only that it can be done.

            3. Hey, guess what? I went to a state university, commuted to school hours a day to avoid food and board charges, worked 2 jobs, and took out student loans to make up the difference, which I subsequently paid off. I had no extras, either, and was 'poor' until I paid off my loans, and advanced my career. Now that all of the struggle and self-deprivation has paid off and I am making well into six figures, I should pay more so people like you can have it easier? No thanks.

              1. That's what I'm talking about. I was technically "poor" from age 18 to 25. Then I got my MS and a good job. Problem solved. Hard, productive work rewarded.

                1. Hard, productive work rewarded.

                  But, that's too HARD! It's not FAAIIRRR!!!

              2. Right. Well, I can't live at home, so that's out the window.

                I'd love to have another job. But, I hear there's a little unemployment problem going on right now. Guess that's why I'm not getting any interviews and I have to stick with my lowly 'ol singular job.

                You think there's no struggle or self-deprivation on my end? Am I being a little bit too spendy with my discount groceries, and my second-hand school books that are sold immediately after the semester is over? I shop only at thrift stores. I don't have a television, an iPod, a smartphone.

                I don't have another option. If I wasn't receiving food aid, I wouldn't have groceries at all.

                1. Also, I want to point out, my mother is awesome, a ridiculously hard worker, and I owe the fact that I'm not a complete idiot to her. She was an amazing mother. She got a very shitty hand dealt to her and ended up with four children at a young age with a drug addict ex-husband in jail and providing no support. Somehow, my mother with literally no work experience and no education, supported four children on her own. Without any aid whatsoever. Not everybody is so lucky. And not everybody is as lucky as me. I'm in a financially dire situation, and my mother can't help me with college, but she provided me with a work ethic and the emotional stability to do it all. I KNOW that I am lucky in this area. Those who are both financially poor, and poor in not being raised well, shouldn't unendingly suffer because of it.

                2. hmm, interesting. Cause our Washington overlords have decreed that the recession is over.

                  Oh and restaurants are almost always hiring.

                3. Is that the least expensive college you could find?

            4. "Damn, somebody PLEASE tell me where I can get the government to pay for this shit for me?"
              ---------

              You've never seen someone on food stamps and social assistance with an iPhone? I watched about 5 minutes of "Teen Mom 2" with my wife the other day and saw one... you must not be a fan.

            5. Charlotte, your response is purely emotional. You seem to be taking this personally, as though any argument against government programs is an argument against you personally getting an education.

              This is clearly not the case. You need to understand that the very fact that college is so difficult to afford is the government's fault. Because there is so much "cheap" or "free" money available to college students, a bubble has been created, in a very similar way to the housing bubble that recently crashed. You are not benefiting from government aid but rather a victim of government monetary and education policies.

            6. Let's consider why these programs are in place. You talk about needing financial aid to get through school. Why do you need financial aid? Presumably it's because tuition prices have been skyrocketing throughout the past 20 years. But why is that the case? Governmental intervention which sought to make everyone a college graduate, regardless of whether those 4 years help them in their career in any manner. Extending loans for college to just about everyone has massively increased the demand for a college education. At the same time, supply has basically remained constant. Ergo prices have increased. There are other factors, of course - massive bureaucratization, etc. But most can be traced to the same problem of intervention.

              How about health insurance? Why don't you have that? Presumably because you don't have a job which pays for it. But why is health insurance tied to employment anyway? More governmental intervention.

            7. I'm a full-time student at a university, I get good grades, working as a caregiver for elderly people. It's pretty fucking hard work, both emotionally and physically. It's the only job I've been able to find. Would you like to know how much I make? $540 a month.

              There's your problem. You're working in a field that's oversaturated, thus driving down the wage rate. The reason it's oversaturated is because sentimentalists like yourself have chosen to exchange monetary compensation in order to satisfy your irrational emotional need to personally witness the impact of your work on other people's lives. The market is signalling you through the low wage that you'd do more to help people by getting a real job that payed you enough money to supply your needs.

              1. In short, because you don't understand how market forces work, you've made a poor decision about your employment, and now you're suffering from that decision.

                Why should you get any pity? Get a better job.

                1. If you are in a "dire financial situation", WTF do you have access to the internets? Couldn't your $540/mo be spent more wisely

                  1. Don't colleges typically provide their students with internet access? For that matter, don't they tend to assume you have it?

            8. I'm a full-time student at a university

              THAT explains why you're so fucking self-righteous and think you've got all the answers.

              You're nothing more than a typical dumbshit college student who's vomiting up whatever pablum your professors are feeding you. A typical dumb striver poor who thinks her degree is going to matter.

              THIS is your future, Charlotte--picking up dogshit for society's real achievers:
              http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb.....12-03.html

        2. And if you really think starvation is a problem, in spite of the fact that 'poor' people in America tend to be fat, well let's just establish food banks where they can get rice, beans, milk and cheese so they have a healthy (albeit boring) diet and won't have to 'starve'. If they want more, they can go out and earn it.

          1. Hey, I'm all for that. Seriously. I don't understand why if the government is PAYING for someone's food, they don't get to dictate that it's healthy. You know the WIC program already does that -- pregnant women get checks but can only buy very specific foods, including things like beans, peanut butter, bread, and $10 of fresh vegetables (a month, I think, but maybe a week). I would have no qualms if every single food program was almost entirely healthy foods. Honestly, though, I think that'd be more expensive. You do know that's why America's fat, right? Not because they're eating themselves to death, but because of what they're eating. Which is much cheaper. If the government wanted to implement only healthy food (you're going to have to have fruits and vegetables in there if you want to avoid health problems... or at least a multi-vitamin), I'd vote for it in a second. But that doesn't seem to be the question here. You're willing to pay for healthy foods, not unhealthy ones? OK, then let's work on that -- not whining about having to pay for anything.

            1. Actually, staples such as beans and grains are quite cheap when bought in bulk, you just have to cook. It is certainly cheaper than fast food and other processed crap when you put in the effort to cook it yourself. And the food banks would be charity food banks, not inefficient government bureaucracies.

              1. Again, if you actually care about health here, you'd have to have some fresh fruit and vegetables. That's where a lot of the expenses come in.

                1. Agsain, not expensive - haven't you ever been to a farmer's market?

                  1. So what we're agreeing on, then, is that the federal government can afford to provide healthy food, including fruits and vegetables, to people receiving aid. Alright then, they should do it.

                    1. No, I think private charities would do a much better job than a government bureaucracy.

            2. not whining about having to pay for anything.

              If you need help, you have a right to aske me for my charity - you do not have a right to stick a gun to my head (or have the government do it) and demand I hand over my earnings for your use.

            3. I was recently at an El Pollo Loco on the corner of Temple and Alvarado in Los Angeles.

              The sign that said "Now Accepting EBT Cards" made me fume.

              1. Take those extra babies, chop them up and feed the poor. High in protein, too!

            4. America is fat because people are consuming more calories, not because the calories are served at McDonalds instead of the farmer's market.

    2. "With progressive taxes, the poor get to spend their money on their basic needs. "

      Like cable TV and cell phones.

      There are so very few people in this country that actually live in poverty as much of the world knows it. Only here do the poverty stricken have cars, rent houses, have cable TV, and manage to consume enough calories to become obese.
      It seems they do have discretionary income. They choose to spend it poorly.

      1. And they carry crushing debt for doing so. The fact that they have difficulty managing their money well might be a factor in why they are poor, no? Adding a heavy tax burden on top of this won't help them with this problem - assuming no welfare was added, we'd likely see a whole lot more people in "real poverty" as you say.

        I don't disagree that the moderately free market in the US has improved the poor's lot in life, but the government already makes their lives hard enough by inflationary monetary policies, expensive energy schemes, etc. and by making them dependent upon government for many of their needs instead of encouraging self-reliance. I just think advocating flatter taxes would only make this situation worse.

        1. And they carry crushing debt for doing so. The fact that they have difficulty managing their money well might be a factor in why they are poor, no?

          And this somehow becomes justification to take more from me?
          "Well, this guy spent his income foolishly instead of being responsible like you, so now you will just have to give him more of yours."
          Horseshit justification, indeed.

          1. So, no response to, your idea to help will actually make it worse? Hey, it might suck that people who can't manage their lives end up getting money to pay for basic things from you, but higher taxes on them will only make them more ready to vote for more programs because they'll be even more poor. So, this is a "horseshit" idea, really. You'd only make it worse for yourself. Why don't we work on helping the people who want to get helped and be self-sufficient? The ones who don't can skirt by on basic things, like food, health care and shelter. The opportunity's there if they want it. Not everyone will. Not a reason to not provide the opportunity for all those who will take it.

            1. I'll repeat - If you need help, you have a right to ask me for my charity - you do not have a right to put a gun to my head (or have the .gov do it) and take my earnings for your own use by force.

            2. The ones who don't can skirt by on basic things, like food, health care and shelter.

              Or we could just let the useless bastards starve to death and use the corpses for fertilizer. Having just written $7000 in checks to various federal and state taxing authorities in significant part because of the demands of sentimentalists like you to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE POOR, I'm perfectly okay with that.

              Fuck the poor. If they're unwilling or unable to pull them up by their own bootstraps leveraging whatever private generosity they can find along the way, every last one of them can go die in a goddamn ditch.

          2. Sorry, you miss the point. First of all, to clarify, I'm against income taxes and support land rent and corporate liability taxes. However, ideally there would be no welfare state and the most minimal taxes necessary to pay for a court system, police force and military.

            Don't mistake my criticism of raising taxes on the poor as me justifying the welfare system. It's not. The welfare system has largely made the poor more miserable on the long-term by perpetuating the cycle of poverty. I think your proposal will merely result in MORE WELFARE to offset the impact of the tax burden. I'd rather the poor pay for themselves as much as possible than send 20% of their income to a bureaucracy. Eventually, the income tax should be cut out from the bottom up until it is non-existent while reforming welfare to only provide for critical, immediate needs.

            1. It seems I did miss your point. I think we are actually somewhat in agreement as far as your goals.

    3. "With progressive taxes, the poor get to spend their money on their basic needs. "

      Like cable TV and cell phones.

      There are so very few people in this country that actually live in poverty as much of the world knows it. Only here do the poverty stricken have cars, rent houses, have cable TV, and manage to consume enough calories to become obese.
      It seems they do have discretionary income. They choose to spend it poorly.

    4. Libertarians would do away with taxes on income.

      1. I agree, but I'd rather keep the current progressive income taxes then shift to a flat income tax with matching revenue, if those were my two options. Phasing out the income tax from the bottom up enables us to more easily move welfare towards primarily addressing emergency need. Since the poor aren't paying anything, they don't have as compelling an interest to preserve it as they would if paying 20% of their income for it. Flattening the tax rate results in more government welfare by increasing poverty.

        1. I think most of us agree that income tax is bullshit and should be completely scrapped for something else.

          I don't necessarily disagree with you about the current system and poor people keeping more of the money they DO make. However, if I'm expected to pay more taxes, then by Science I get to tell them how to fucking live.

    5. Property taxes are the worst form of taxation. I would take a flat income tax or a flat sales tax over property taxes.

      1. Tax stagnation over growth? How about a flat property tax? We're already wasting resources taxing the "poor".

    6. Not if you based your rate on a deminimus income number.

      If you look at the cash equivalent of full-boat welfare (cash, housing, medicaid, WIC, food stamps, daycare), a singlee mother of one needs to make about $24K to get even.

      If you cut off income at $30K, below which NO ONE pays taxes, and above which EVERYONE pays taxes on the part of your income over 30K, you would find that you could raise adequate taxes charging 20 or 25% and eliminating other federal taxes (FICA) and deductions that are basically govt subsidized lifestyle choices.

  8. How long before the words "productive" and "parasites" are used in this thread?

    1. I'd say at exactly 12:35PM. How long before someone responds to comments that haven't been made? Also, 12:35PM.

      1. You might have been funny if someone had not actually beat me to it upthread-@ 12:24

        1. You're half right. But I'm sure I've pointed out to you in the past that you respond to assertions and comments that haven't been made. Not a big deal, but it does ding your credibility a bit.

          1. So, you've never seen those on welfare referred to as parasites on H&R? Would you like me to provide some examples?

            1. Is that what I said? You're doing it again.

              1. And yes I would.

            2. I don't call poor people parasites. I call people that take more than the value of what they contribute parasites. If the two groups overlap some, so be it, but a poor person isn't a parasite by definition, and quite a few rich people are parasitic.

      2. I have an idea. If helping the poor is a noble cause--and, to some extent, I think it is--then why not persuade us to help? Why is compulsion the only tool they want to use? Is it because compelled participation is easier, generates money that can be used for other purposes, and, of course, allows certain political figures to buy patronage with my money? Nah, that can't be it.

        1. Pro

          If you want a serious answer, here it is: we had persuasion + the kindness of strangers for a long time in our history as the only relief for the less well off and people thought, this doesn't seem to be cutting it. In 1959 1/4 of white families lived below poverty and an amazing half of black families did. Within about a decade and a half that was more than cut in half.

          Why compulsion? It may be that only then can enough money be raised to really help or maybe it has to do with not putting people who are decent enough to help at a relative disadvantage to assholes...

          1. ""In 1959 1/4 of white families lived below poverty and an amazing half of black families did. Within about a decade and a half that was more than cut in half.""

            If it's not them helping themselves out of the situation, and them becoming dependent on government, it's not really a win.

          2. Could you provide some form of citation that shows those numbers changed? Also, didn't the Great Society start in the late 60's with LBJ? If so then half of that progress wouldn't be the effect of government assistance.

            1. War on Poverty started in '63, if I remember correctly. Poverty %ages for everyone flatlined by 1970. Any reduction was beforehand or at the beginning.

          3. Pro

            If you want a serious answer, here it is: we had persuasion + the kindness of strangers for a long time in our history as the only relief for the less well off and people thought, this doesn't seem to be cutting it. In 1959 1/4 of white families lived below poverty and an amazing half of black families did. Within about a decade and a half that was more than cut in half.

            Why compulsion? It may be that only then can enough money be raised to really help or maybe it has to do with not putting people who are decent enough to help at a relative disadvantage to assholes...

            Nice story. Simple and lacking in any causal relevance to the effect of taxation.

          4. If you want a serious answer, here it is: we had persuasion + the kindness of strangers for a long time in our history as the only relief for the less well off and people thought, this doesn't seem to be cutting it.

            Not so. It's driven by power-seeking individuals. The way you acquire power in a democracy is to convince a lot of people that you're going to give them something for nothing.

            Hide the scarcity. That's the name of the socialist game.

            1. It's no coincidence that the country with the smallest public sector also gives the most money to charity. Two reasons:

              1. Having a more market-based system has created more wealth overall, so people can afford to give more to charity.

              2. People are quite willing to give where there's a real need, and they're better at determining that than the government. However, when their money is forcibly taken from them, they react with resentment toward the truly needy.

              There was never any reason to nationalize charity. The free market does a better job anyway.

        2. ""If helping the poor is a noble cause--and, to some extent, I think it is--then why not persuade us to help? ""

          There was a day when family supported family. They lived in the same house, pooled their money to pay for their needs.

          1. I'm all for that. I'm also for reforms so we don't pay people to have babies or not better themselves. I'm all for less government, I hate paying taxes.

            Now, having said that, there will be people who, for whatever reason, their families cannot provide them with help and who are not just having babies and such. What will we do with or for such people? If you say private charity, great, I love private charity, but what if it does not address the needs adequately? Then what?

            1. Well then use compulsion to force the family to take care of it's self. You can do that by cutting out the money they get from government.

            2. I'm all for less government, I hate paying taxes.

              "Please don't throw me in the brier patch!"

              1. Do you actually think leftists enjoy paying taxes?

                My god to live in a world of such caricatures...

                1. Do you actually think leftists enjoy paying taxes?

                  No, I think they enjoy forcing other people to pay taxes.

                2. Do you actually think leftists enjoy paying taxes?

                  My god to live in a world of such caricatures...

                  Of course they don't. This is why they persevere to impose the bulk of taxation on those they disagree with.

                3. Do you actually think leftists enjoy paying taxes?

                  No, what leftists enjoy is seeing other people have to pay higher taxes. They don't even enjoy the fact that poor people are given the money. Clearly, if it was the recipients they were concerned about, they would give their own money regardless of the tax rate.

            3. The immorality of stealing from people in the name of helping others is simply appalling. Leaving aside the fact that this "help" hasn't improved things one bit, that it's used mostly to buy votes and not to solve problems (in fact, politicians have an incentive to avoid anything that gets people out of the dependent class), and that it seems to be creating a permanent, dependent underclass.

              The best possible solution to American poverty is more growth and, more especially, technological advancement. To the extent that we still have poor people--and that's likely a problem that can't be solved completely--a far richer society can more easily afford to help out.

              1. "The immorality of stealing from people in the name of helping others is simply appalling."

                Perhaps, but I find those needing help not getting it to be sometimes even more appalling.

                1. Then take all of your wealth and give it to the poor. It's easy to give away other people's money.

                  And, again, it's not like the money that's taken from us to help poor people is actually helping in any real or--dare I say it?--efficient way.

                  Leftists often fall back on this idea that perpetual welfare is necessary to stave off violent insurrection. I think that's bunk, but if it is a possibility, so is a taxpayer revolt. We're getting close to the point where too many are voting themselves too much of everyone else's wealth. That isn't going to work, not within what remains of a limited government, anyway. Just like with education and healthcare--increased government involvement has had, if anything, a negative effect on the problem at hand, at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.

                  1. ""Leftists often fall back on this idea that perpetual welfare is necessary to stave off violent insurrection.""

                    Insurrection, at least one that has any hope of succeeding, requires money. Our revolution against the British was no exception.

                2. "Perhaps, but I find those needing help not getting it to be sometimes even more appalling."

                  I don't see anybody stopping you from helping them.

            4. I love private charity, but what if it does not address the needs adequately?

              Here's your problem. You can't define "adequate" apart from the aggregate of people's actions. If free people give less to charity, that, by definition, means the current amount charity is more than adequate. If people choose to give more, that means the current amount of charity is less than adequate.

              What you're wanting to do is impose your definition of adequate on everybody else. This can only lead to everybody else, in turn, trying to impose their definition of adequate on you. Pretty soon, everybody's fighting for power amongst themselves and nobody has any time or money left for charity.

    2. Re: MNG,

      How long before the words "productive" and "parasites" are used in this thread?

      Why? Do they make you break out in hives?

  9. "Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?"

    Er, because they can better bear the burden?

    If you had two kids, one a teen-ager and one a five year old, would you really expect them to carry the same amount and weight of grocery bags into the house from the car? If you can understand why you would not you can understand progressive taxation.

    1. ""Er, because they can better bear the burden?"'

      Why should it be their burden to bear? If society decides to use tax money to prop-up the lowest demoninator, then it's ALL of society's burden to bear and that should be done in a fair manner. Fair is not having rich people pay for you.

      1. Society decides that the less well off should be helped and the burden of helping should fall on those best able to bear it. That last part precludes some people from bearing the burden.

        I'm not sure what is so complicated about this for you.

        1. ""I'm not sure what is so complicated about this for you.""

          Because what is theirs, is not yours.

          Why is THAT so complicated for you to understand.

          1. ""I'm not sure what is so complicated about this for you.""

            Yeah, from each according to their ability; to each according to their need. Wait, what?

            1. God damn it, you beat me to it.

          2. Again, if "that is theirs and not this other guys" leads to human suffering then while I understand it I feel no moral compulsion to go with it. It's awful.

            1. So go ahead and re-distribute your income to address your concerns.

            2. It doesn't lead to human suffering. You think it's a solution to the suffering problem. The suffering pre-exists the handout by the government.

              But the fact is, there has been and will always be human suffering. If you want humans to up their level of life, they, THEY, need to do something to make a better life for themselves. And I put forth that letting them stay out of work because they get a government check isn't a solution. It's simply addicting them to a handout.

              People who chose not to pull themselves out of the darkness suffer more than those who slowly climb their way out.

            3. MNG put it this way. I think Jesus had it right. Don't give them fish, teach them how to fish.

              1. Why Jebus get all credit? I talked this.

            4. Again, if "that is theirs and not this other guys" leads to human suffering then while I understand it I feel no moral compulsion to go with it. It's awful.

              Ironic how just a few posts earlier you were stating how people have ridiculous caricatures of reality, yet, as we see, you are a pro at this yourself.

              The concept of property is no more causative to human suffering than forks are causative to obesity. The number of variables that influence "human suffering" are huge.

        2. You do realize that that is fucking socialism at its core right?

          Also, if my boss has his taxes raised, I don't get the raise that I need because of cost of living increases.

        3. Re: MNG,

          Society decides that the less well off should be helped and the burden of helping should fall on those best able to bear it.

          World - meet the nitwit who confuses "society" with "government."

          Society decides nothing, MNG. Society is not an entity; you're confusing the map with the territory.

        4. Society decides that the less well off should be helped and the burden of helping should fall on those best able to bear it. That last part precludes some people from bearing the burden.

          I'm not sure what is so complicated about this for you.

          Sounds like the rationalizations that were used to justify slavery. "Blacks are better able to handle the Southern heat."

          And no, this argument is not complicated. It is simply not compelling. Because "society" makes some claim, does not demonstrate that such claims are valid.

    2. Shit. In my house the teenager would bitch and the five yo would be volunteering. Loading them down equally makes the 5 yo feel good, and the parent less likely to strangle the teen.

      1. Yeah, I'm sure you treat your five year old and teenager exactly the same, in the name of fairness of course.

        Welcome to crazy-town.

        1. Hell no. My 5 yo isn't going on any dates with teenagers. Also, its an experiential problem, that will be solved by time. Poverty can be an experiential problem that is solved by a person hating the experience of the consequences of poverty. It is rarely solved by government intervention.

    3. No, I'd expect them to carry the weight proportional to their size. Just like, oh, a flat rate on taxes. You DO know the difference between amount of taxes and tax rate, right?

      1. Only someone with little contact with actual children would say something this dumb. Their differences are not simply proportional to their size.

        1. Just divide into 8 parts!

        2. Dumbfuck, he wasn't talking about children.

    4. Birth control is widely available and abortion is legal. At this point having children is a decision and not something forced on you so having kids is not an excuse for not paying up.

      1. Er -- you do know MNG wasn't saying that having kids was an excuse to not pay up... right?

        1. Don't confuse the fanatics when they are throwing stones, even if the stones are being thrown where there is nothing to hit.

    5. Re: MNG,

      Er, because they can better bear the burden?

      Ok, and once they can't, what's next?

      1. Well, once we're all poorer, the absolute amount of government spending will fall as well. For example, we won't need any money to pave the roads when nobody can afford a car.

        See, socialism all works out in the end!

    6. Um, is the 5 year old in any way responsible for the fact that he's only 5 years old? Maybe that's the difference between those two situations?

    7. "Er, because they can better bear the burden?"

      Isn't that only an argument when there's no question of desert? We don't put a young, healthy innocent person in prison just because he can bear the burden better than a frail old murderer.

      The person most responsbility for poverty is often the one who endures it (kids excepted, but poor kids often make decisions that lay the groundwork for their adult poverty). If you don't recognize this, you aren't dealing seriously or fairly with the issue.

      As for public goods, the person most responsible for the cost of government programs is the individual citizen, equally. So, the only fair system is to go fully regressive and divide the cost of government between all votes equally.

      Hah, ok. The people most responsible for the cost of government programs is actually the representatives who vote for them. So, representatives should be responsible for all taxes. They can figure out how to get their supporters to make them whole.

  10. OMG look at how skinny Obama's wrist is (unless that's one of his kids trying to pick his nose). I bet Steve Jobs could kick his ass.

    1. He is about the wimpiest black guy.. other than Urkel. Now if Samuel L. Jackson was president, that would be mother fucking cool.

    2. I thought Steve Jobs was the Batman. Some Apple cultist told me so.

  11. So we're now a country of net takers from the government. Socialism achieved...

  12. Why did those households not pay taxes? Loopholes? Or was it because taxing them would put them into poverty? Or maybe they're already in poverty.

    If we have poor families raising children the best way a poor person knows how, there's still deficiencies. Families can be very cyclical. If we want to ensure that children grow up to be contributing members of society, and not those "dependents" you so despise, then they need a chance to escape. And if their parents aren't going to provide it, then who is? And how shall that be paid for? By taxing that very same family into an even worse-off condition? No -- by taking the taxes from the people it won't harm.

    You can make it sound like the wealthy are bullied all you want, and like the more wealthy people are, the better it is for society. But when the rich just get richer and children are born every day into a family who most likely will not and can not teach them the values to become exactly the citizen you want them to be, then somebody has to foot the bill to try and help.

    You can't say we need more people who are able to pay and then demand to make those who can't pay, pay, severely harming anyone's ability to climb out of any hole they're in. You're not going to get what you want that way.

    1. Or, you know, we could just cut the government and not tax anybody any more.

      "If we want to ensure that children grow up to be contributing members of society, and not those "dependents" you so despise, then they need a chance to escape"

      My gf does pediatric Medicaid case management for a living. The system is not working to create independent people.

      1. ""Or, you know, we could just cut the government and not tax anybody any more.""

        Even our founding fathers knew taxation is necessary to sustain the republic, which is why the authority to tax is in the Constitution. Granted, it's way out of control today.

        1. I'm sorry, I meant not raise anybody's taxes from their current rates, not end taxation.

      2. Then let's make some changes. But you have to know not taxing anybody isn't the solution. Also, I don't think we have a government if no one is paying for it. You into anarchy?

        1. Please suggest the changes that you liberals are willing to make? I'd agree to keep my large tax burden as high as it is for, say, ten years if I thought the problems being addressed could be solved by a hand up instead of a hand out. But the experiences of two of my wife's liberal friends who went into social work (Indian reservation & home for wayward girls) and burnt out very quickly because their counseling was both useless and resented leads me to conclude that many social problems will not be solved until the objects of our compulsory "charity" face the full consequences of their actions.

          1. A recent grad placement study here showed that the average Social Work master's student worked in the field for 20 months before changing careers or going back to school.

            1. Yeah, because what person with a masters degree wants to make $30,000 a year.

              1. Yeah, because what person with a masters degree wants to make $30,000 a year.

                They initially delude themselves into thinking, "I'm doing this to help people, not for the money!" Then that first student loan statement comes due, and they realize being earnest and well-meaning doesn't pay the bills.

          2. I'm willing to support any changes that still provides those who can't feed themselves, food, and a good education, and which will better help people escape poverty and become self-sufficient. The difficulty is figuring out what works. People are actively doing that. It's a huge work in progress. I'm not happy with the education system. And I think if the government is paying for your food, the government gets to choose what it is. And it should be healthy. But I also think it's not so bad to put people on welfare or who have had a government-funded abortion on compulsory birth control, ... and I'd never say that out loud because I'm scared people would be horrified.

            Though I can't figure out ... if the government is providing a service, for free -- why can't they alter the requisites to prevent having to pay for more, or other services, in the future? Makes sense to me. But it seems taboo to even bring up.

            1. "the government gets to choose "; "who have had a government-funded abortion on compulsory birth control"; "why can't they alter the requisites to prevent having to pay for more, or other services, in the future?"

              "But it seems taboo to even bring up."

              It has existed before, its called slavery.

            2. The government is not providing a service for free. The government is providing a service that it is paying for with other people's money.

    2. But when the rich just get richer and children are born every day into a family who most likely will not and can not teach them the values to become exactly the citizen you want them to be, then somebody has to foot the bill to try and help.

      Herein lies a fatal flaw in the Left's perception of humans. Redistribution programs and money does not change the "values" of individuals, so if a poor family is not teaching their children the values that contribute to success, giving them a check will not change this at all. Education is mandatory and "free" to the poor, yet they are the largest percentage to reject education as a tool for personal success. "Free" healthcare, WIC, TANF, earned income credit, etc. don't teach the values that the family doesn't hold, so this argument is absurd.

      People who hold such values, DO work to obtain money in order to provide for their children the tools they believe are necessary for implementing the values they impart to them.

  13. The only people that love spreading the wealth around are those that get the wealth spread to them.

    Most pro-spreaders don't benefit financially from the spread. They may mistakenly think they do (if they get a welfare pittance) or ego-identify with those who do (if they think bureaucrats, lobbyists, etc. are their kind), but all they really receive is the pleasure of believing someone else is getting fucked.

  14. I absolutely agree with this perspective! I am by no means rich, as I struggle to keep head above water in a small business where I keep less than 50% of what I earn (and that's under $100K) when income taxes, social security taxes, real estate taxes, and sales taxes are accounted for. Why should I or anyone else work hard to make more when the prospect is that I will keep even less of that hard-earned cash. Our tax system and entitlement mentality is undermining our people's incentive to succeed. Sadly, along with discarding religion, America is discarding charity as the proper means of meeting the needs of the needy.

  15. it's not like the poor are all dropping dead at fifty, either.

    And the workhouses; are they still in operation?

    1. Now THERE's an idea!

  16. Those who are productive,don't get "punished." They pay for the country they live in. Everyone who can does. Well, except for the gigantic corporations operating within it. They get a free pass, of course.

    WHEEEEEEEEEE!!

  17. "The Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, estimated this week that 45 percent of U.S. households paid not a single dollar in federal income tax for 2010."

    For the past 30 years, Republicans have labored to cut taxes, increase "pro-family" deductions, etc. I guess they've succeeded.

    Low-income people pay plenty in FICA taxes, state income taxes, and sales taxes. The point of this article is to obscure that fact.

    1. "Low-income people pay plenty in FICA taxes, state income taxes, and sales taxes"

      Which is completely irrelevant to not paying any federal income taxes.

      Different taxes levied by different government entities and finace different activities.

      Those people are using services and/or getting subsidies financed by federal income taxes and they should be paying in something to finance them.

      It's as simple as that.

    2. Dude, wtf? I live in Texas so our poor people don't pay a state income tax. And the point of the article is that they don't pay FEDERAL INCOME TAX.

  18. If you want a country full of productive people, you have to allow those who are born in shitty circumstances an escape route, a chance to become educated, and skilled, and therefore get a job

    Who would be stopping them in Libertopia? Or is this just more Statist Fallacy thinking, that if the State doesn't do it, it doesn't happen?

    True story: the guy who made Starbucks a world-wide colossus grew up in the projects in NY, before the War on Poverty or any of that other "uplift the poor" stuff. Apparently, escape routes from poverty exist even when the Almighty State doesn't provide them.

    1. Commodore Vanderbilt wasn't born rich either.

      And he made it big long before the welfare/nanny state was ever heard of.

    2. Yeah, you're right, exceptions to the rule are what's important.

      Of course there are people who manage to fight against extraordinary odds and become very successful. And that's really wonderful for them. But should every poor person HAVE to work substantially harder than a person born into a good family? It's not that underprivileged people can't work hard, it's that they would have to work way harder than a privileged person. So let's level the playing field. A child born into decent income family gets a good education without even trying? Let's make sure the poor child does too. When it comes to children, it has nothing to do with earning their position in life. A child growing up poor, putting just as much effort into life as someone growing up wealthy probably means they'll stay where they are. Putting far more effort into life? Maybe they'll end up equal to the wealthy kid.

      Don't you see how this is not only unfair, but also, is detrimental to society? Do we really want a bunch of poor people who are working just as hard as everyone else, but being born into where they are, aren't making any progress? Don't we want people to be able to pay taxes, like this very article suggests? Then we need to give them a boost.

      And hey, if everyone is just saying, well the poor spend it on iPhones (I'm poor as hell -- why don't I have an iPhone?), and it's not helping anyone -- then let's reform the hell out of these programs. I think it's important to note that any federally funded social programs DO help, but for the ones that don't, and the places they're failing, let's do some serious reforms. Why is the only option a noticeably imperfect system, or no system at all?

      We'll all benefit from more self-sustaining people. The theory is sound. Now let's improve the programs so this happens more and more.

      1. It's not that underprivileged dumb people can't work hard, it's that they would have to work way harder than a privileged smart person. So let's level the playing field. Lobotomies for everyone with an IQ over 100!

      2. Let's try this again: YOU do not have a RIGHT to MY paycheck.

        1. If I have a piece of paper that says I do, backed by an army, sure I do.

          Unless you believe in magic, "rights" don't exist outside of social agreement and the minds of people in society. At the end of the day, the people with power (guns) determine who has what rights.

          You can just waive your hands around and base all of your arguments on "rights" that are "self-evident" and "god-given" and "natural."

          But I'll be over here, hoarding ammunition. Good day.

          1. The leftist mind at its core - theft is okay if we control the guns.

            1. Well, I'm not an anarchist, so I do believe in compulsory taxation. Libertarians also believe this.

              You need to have arguments other than magic words about "rights" if you want to actually convince people.

              After all, leftists also declare that people have a right to housing, etc, and that this entails the right to forcibly tax you. "Rights talk" gets you nowhere.

              Where do these rights come from? The moon?

              1. Jesus?

              2. You know who else thought all rights flow from the barrel of a gun?

              3. Where do these rights come from?

                They aren't "things". They are logical propositions.

              4. You need to have arguments other than magic words about "rights" if you want to actually convince people.

                After all, leftists also declare that people have a right to housing, etc, and that this entails the right to forcibly tax you. "Rights talk" gets you nowhere.

                Because the concept of rights is complex does not argue that it is "magic" or false. And because people make claims concerning "rights" does not make each claim valid. Each moral proposition has to be logically supportable. "It is wrong to kick old ladies in the head for fun" has stronger logical support than "It is good to kick old ladies in the head for fun."

          2. It's very rare to see a fascist be so open about his fascism.

            1. My argument doesn't entail any outcome. It's simply true. Morality is not an objective fact imposed on us from sky demons; it's built out of genetics and neurons and culture.

              Your arguments consist of declaring what your preferred outcome is and labeling that the outcome that your "right" to your property mandates. It's circular reasoning.

              I prefer libertarian policies (mostly) because I would prefer to live in a libertarian society. I think I can convince most people that they would prefer to do so, too. THEREFORE we should behave as though something called "rights" exist--doing so produces a better society.

              You can't just start with abstract constructs like rights; it's like saying that laws are legal because they are laws.

              1. So baby-raping is okay if you have the most guns? And if not, why not, since morality is not an objective fact?

                1. It's not okay *to me*, which is all that matters. I don't see why a space monster would care if humans went around baby-raping all day, any more than I'm morally outraged when an adult male lion kills the offspring of his rivals.

                  By contrast, a space monster and I could have any number of enlightening discussions about math and science.

                  The relevant point I am trying to make: LOTS of people disagree with you on the morality of redistributive social programs--in fact, I would wager, most people. AND they are the people with the guns. So you're going to need a bit more than empty words about "rights" to get your way, since the other side has just as many words, and they're just as empty.

                  For the record, I agree with Milton Friedman that we should have a negative income tax instead of a "rag bag" of social programs. But I guess you think that Friedman is no better than a common cutpurse, with his support of forced taxation and wealth redistribution.

                  1. Why all the talk about a space monster? I certainly didn't bring it up. And you didn't really adress the question as to why baby-raping is or is not okay if you have the force to back it up.

                    1. No, baby-raping is never okay to me, but that doesn't mean that it's objectively true. Thus the space monster talk.

                      I'm not going to change my moral convictions just because someone has all the guns. At the same time I can't *prove* that baby-raping is objectively wrong, because "objectively wrong" is an incoherent concept.

                      Taxation is not like baby-raping. Most people think it's morally acceptable. The fact that you disagree with them is simply immaterial--you're attempting to simply DECLARE that your preferred outcome is the only morally acceptable one. But that's not how things work. You can't impose your morality on others, and they can't impose theirs on you--except through force or persuasion.

                      Since force, aka the state, is on the other side, you need to rely on persuasion. Instead you rely on bald assertion followed by appeals to abstract principles you and some like-minded folks have simply made up.

                    2. No, baby-raping is never okay to me, but that doesn't mean that it's objectively true.

                      Without a compelling logical counterargument against this claim, "Baby-raping is wrong", then one has a strong reason to accept the truth of the proposition.

                    3. You like theft and violence. Good for you. Now just don't be sad when your victims fight back and kill you. I'm not crazy, so I believe in the law of consequences. Force and violence breed force and violence. Non aggression, universally practiced, creates no such beast.

                      A moral framework means that something can be constructed from first principles. If all you've got is might makes right, that's pretty sad.

                    4. I'm not going to change my moral convictions just because someone has all the guns.

                      Why not? I thought you said rights were determined by having a piece of paper and an army to back it up?

                      It would be impossible to form an idea about "rights" if, ultimately, there is no objective reality behind it.

                      That reality may be biological, but it can't be social, since society is just the aggregation of individual minds, in which case you're begging the question.

            2. Serious - fascism is really an economic system, not might makes right. Although the term has come to mean any brutally repressive regime.

          3. Isn't that an argument for why we should all have guns?

            1. DesigNate|4.20.11 @ 2:46PM|#
              Isn't that an argument for why we should all have guns?

              Hence, the Second Amendment.

      3. Blah, blah, blah.

        Society hasn't been "improved" one iota in any way whatsoever by any of the welfare state programs relative to the way it was in this country before any of them were ever created.

      4. "Do we really want a bunch of poor people who are working just as hard as everyone else, but being born into where they are, aren't making any progress?"

        Fuck you Charlotte, seriously. My parents work extremely hard to support six kids and a comfortable standard of living. My Dad grew up in modest means in East LA and you know what? He joined the Air Force, learned a trade, and now works for Boeing. He was responsible and didn't let fucktard liberals like yourself tell him that rich people were the cause of all his problems and that he needs government handouts to suceed. I guran-fucking-tee you that my mother alone works harder than the tatted welfare queen I see at the grocerty store using WIC. Why should my hardworking parents who have done everything right for the benefit of their children be ROBBED by the government just to make things "fair" for the kids in poorer neighborhoods? Do you even realize that Great Society programs like HUD and rent-control have singlehandedly created these poor, crime infested ghettos? The more you steal from people to try and do the right thing, the more problems you'll end up creating. And yet my parents are supposed to financially burdened to support a system that doesn't work? No way!

      5. Sorry, but somebody has to say it: life ain't fair. It never has been, and never will be. There is no policy or magic words which will make the world fair. The poor have always been screwed, and they always will be. It is an Iron Law, and it will...never...change.

      6. You don't have an iphone cause you made the rational decision that you didn't need one. Not everyone has their priorities straight.

        And sorry for my tone earlier, i'm a little bent out of shape about other things and took it out on you (I still think you're wrong).

  19. The first step in de-socialization?

    What it is not is the abolition of programs for the poor -- a blunder for a multitude of reasons. As noted, the fate of the needy in a free market is, understandably, the biggest concern people have. Why take the path of greatest resistance? Who would we have an easier time convincing people should be taken off the dole tomorrow: Archer Daniels Midland or an elderly widow who's the guardian of her two grandchildren? The answer is obvious because the people are sound in their judgment -- contrary to liberals' hysterical fear of them. Indeed, how can we leave that family to private charity when people's charity dollars are still taxed away to that corporation and thousands of other such drains? How can we kick people off the welfare rolls only for them to face the joblessness and homelessness still being caused by government? And why should we expect investment capital to flow into areas that the War on Drugs -? "Programs to drive drugs out of black neighborhoods need to be supplemented by strong and sustained police work" (Roger Wilkins, The Village Voice, 2/4/86) -- has left looking like actual combat zones? A free market in charity presupposes a free market in everything else -- exactly what we don't have. Nothing would lose us more ground than the popular identification of the "free market" with a welfare state in which the poor are the only ones who don't get welfare.

    1. That's actually a really good quote, thank you.

      1. The problem is if you stop fighting the welfare state, your silence justifies it.

        Everybody hates corporate welfare (except corporate execs!), so it's tempting to start there because it would be an easy victory. But the problem is we hate it for different reasons. Liberals hate it because the rich get richer, not because it involves theft. If you join them in their crusade, you're saying that the rich getting richer is what you object to, as opposed to the theft.

        The fact is that corporate welfare is a small problem in terms life, liberty and property compared to social programs aimed at the middle and lower class, the drug war, international military interventions or overreaching regulations.

    2. True enough. The nice thing about welfare for the poor is that they take much smaller bites from the trough.

  20. You know who else played on popular envy and resentment to rob an unpopular minority?

    Seriously, if I hear the words "tax spending/expenditures" in person, you're going to see me on COPS for kicking some poor proggunist's balls up into his abdominal cavity.

  21. " Dependents, on the other hand, just demand. They have no reason not to."

    This is a pretty damned misleading comment, which completely takes the income tax statistic out of context. 45% of households may not be paying an income tax, but that doesn't mean they aren't paying /any/ taxes.

    David Cay Johnston on this issue:

    "they still pay plenty of other taxes, including federal payroll taxes. Between gas taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes and other taxes, no one lives tax-free in America.

    When it comes to state and local taxes, the poor bear a heavier burden than the rich in every state except Vermont, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculated from official data. In Alabama, for example, the burden on the poor is more than twice that of the top 1 percent. The one-fifth of Alabama families making less than $13,000 pay almost 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, compared with less than 4 percent for those who make $229,000 or more."

    Source:
    http://www.wweek.com/portland/.....taxes.html

    1. Well at least you gave a source. 🙂

        1. Yeah, most people that come in here and argue with us don't even do that. I mean the article was about federal income tax and the dependents thing was referring to people who get federal assistance. I don't think anybody would argue that there are people who pay absolutely no taxes. The thing is, that 45% who don't pay federal income taxes are usually receiving some sort of refund for the taxes that they did pay.

  22. "In 1959 1/4 of white families lived below poverty and an amazing half of black families did. Within about a decade and a half that was more than cut in half."

    Yes, in the decade 1959-1969, US poverty dropped from ~23% to ~12% while spending went from ~$30Bn to ~$130Bn. And MNG's presumption is that welfare spending had something to do with that (cite missing). In fact, the rate had dropped to ~15% (~73% of the improvement) *prior* to passing, let alone implementing the War on Poverty.
    Since then spending poverty has stabilized at ~12% while spending has increased to >$700Bn.
    So, MNG, what sort of results are we supposed to get for 'taxing the rich'?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....meline.gif
    http://www.intellectualtakeout.....e-spending

  23. All of you leftist idiots have a noble goal in mind. I don't think there are many people that would really just keep every penny they made and not give any to charity.

    However, where you completely and utterly fail is the method you propose to do it with. The government has no business in this game. Then who, you ask will do it.

    Well, it will still be the people, but then we'll get to decide who we want to help, who is worthy of it. We'll get to decide which charity works the most efficient and has the best impact.

    Here's a good example - St. Jude Childrens Center. For all you ignorant leftist, let me fill you in on the details. St. Judes is FREE to all that go there. Not only that, they pay for you transportation, meals, and any other cost associated with you being at their facility.

    Now, here's the kicker. All of their revenue comes from - wait for it - DONATIONS. It does not come from the government. And guess what else, it has the BEST doctors available.

    Do you think if it was government run, it would be the same place it is? If so, there is no hope to convince you otherwise, you're just being blindy loyal.

    Now, I give about $3000-$5000/year in donations to St. Jude because I believe in it. If I had more of my OWN money to spend (i.e. less taken by the government), I would either give more to them or maybe even find another cause to give to.

    Don't you see, when people can make decisions for themselves without artificial external forces, they will give to the cause they deem the most just.

    And one other thing, don't give me this crap that a poor person can't make his life better without external help. Maybe if they didn't have to attend the crappy public schools, they would be better prepared to take the next step. By the way, I'm one of them. I was the youngest of 7, my parents were poor, but I worked at school, went to college, and now am a partner in a successful company.

    So because of my hard work, putting up my own $30,000 to start the business, and going about three months withpout a paycheck, now I should be mandated to give to cause that at the worst I don't believe in, and at the best don't think the government is the best. most efficient entity to run it.

    My business employs 25 people and according to leftist logic, the more people I would get rid of, the less I would pay them, the more I would make. So, I guess I should fire everybody, then I'll really be making it. FAIL!

    If I pay my employees poorly, they will go somewhere else.

    One other thing in this long ramble. I had an employee that needed to get his front teeth replaced because of an accident he had. Although we have insurance, the out of pocket amount he would've had to pay would've put a dent in his monthly finances.

    Guess what, I paid the difference myself. I guess you ignorant fucks think I should've given the money to the government, and then let them give that money to him.

    I'm not here to trump my actions, the opposite. I just think that if people are left to their own choices, a LOT more people would benefit by the benevolence of others, than by the method of being forced to do something that is inefficient and biased.

    How many people have you liberal, conceited, pompous, dicks helped?

    1. ^^^^THIS^^^^^

      1. ^^^THAT^^^

        1. ^^^AND THE OTHER^^^

          1. ^^^^MMMMM...WAFFLES.....^^^^

    2. "I don't think there are many people that would really just keep every penny they made and not give any to charity."

      According to most liberals I know that is exactly what would happen.

      They wouldn't pay a penny to charity unless it was forced out of them through taxation, so in their irrational mind that means nobody else would.

      1. That is only because most liberals give much less to charity. So since they don't give as much to charity, they assume everyone is just like them and wouldn't give much to charity.

        1. Having the govt give out money absolves those libs of donating on their own.

      2. And yet they have the gall to call libertarians selfish.

  24. "When it comes to state and local taxes, the poor bear a heavier burden than the rich in every state except Vermont,"

    I doubt it.

    Not unless you can prove that the absolute dollar amount of those taxes paid by the poor exceeds the absolute dollar value of government services that they personally receive in exchange for their money calculated on a user fee basis and that the reverse is true for "the rich"

    Percentages of income have nothing to do with it.

  25. I'm getting real tired of this crap. Other libertarians and fiscal conservatives keep saying "the rich pay the majority of taxes". This is true because they also make the most money, so if you take x% of their income it will be more in total than x% of poor people's income.

    The progressives turn around and point at companies like GE, which conspicuously paid zero income tax this year, and say that the rich aren't paying enough...

    Can we PLEASE please please stop bickering about how much the rich DO pay? What's important is that at a given income level taxes vary a lot. BOTH the rich and the poor are losing out if they don't have specific tax breaks allocated to themselves.

    I think that people who believe the rich should pay a higher PERCENTAGE of income are in the minority (or at least they don't think the difference should be drastic). What we need to shut them up is to remove tax deductions, tax credits and whatever other loopholes exist until we have a tax system that is OBVIOUSLY even.

    Also, I read somewhere that regardless of income 80% of america pays a 40% of their income in total taxes. couldn't find the link, but the good news there is that the status quo is approximately flat on average (at about 40% of income). Can't find the link, but if that's true our main goals should be 1. reduce variability in the percentage. 2. evenly reduce the total percentage everyone pays.

    1. Or we could just start charging for government goods and services on a user fee basis.

      Percentages of income have nothing to do with it. No one's income is a "service" provided to them by the federal government.

      Of course that would mean the complete elimination of transfer payment/subisidy programs which, by definition, could not exist in a user fee payment system.

      But of course THAT is a good thing.

  26. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out the total worth of basic, non-transfer government services--fed, state, local--add to that transfer payments, and then subtract total payments in taxes and fees. And then figure out the percentage of population for whom that number is a negative.

    (Of course the "worth" of current government services versus Constitutionally-warranted government duties is a pretty vast gulf, so the "average" American and the libertarian percentages would be far apart.)

    1. How much is the Libya escapade worth to you?
      It's an impossible task to assign worth. Only a flat tax is truly fair - no deductions, no exceptions, from dollar one.

  27. "Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?"

    Because of the declining marginal utility of income.

    1. jhn|4.20.11 @ 2:15PM|#
      "Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?"

      Because I wants it, and we has the gunnsss, oh yessss.....

  28. The rich aren't paying enough taxes!

    How do we know this?

    Because they're rich!

    If they paid their fair share they wouldn't be rich!

  29. Another question I have to those who think the poor get more than they pay: as far as net taxes are concerned, don't sales taxes, property taxes (usually via inflated rent) and corporate income taxes passed down as hidden sales taxes generally more than offset their earned income tax credits? Think about this: sales taxes and passed-down corporate income taxes would be naturally regressive, since they take up a much larger chunk of their income for the same products as they would for a billionaire. If income taxes are disproportionally lenient, are not sales taxes disproportionately burdensome and thus in the end they break even? Not defending the system, just pointing out that they may already pay relatively flat rates, especially considering that many state and local services are funded through sales and property taxes.

    1. Re: Hobo Chang Ba,

      Another question I have to those who think the poor get more than they pay: as far as net taxes are concerned, don't sales taxes, property taxes (usually via inflated rent) and corporate income taxes passed down as hidden sales taxes generally more than offset their earned income tax credits?

      No. Try again:

      Public Schools
      Medicaid

      1. I'm talking tax burden, not whether use of government programs exceeds their tax burden. You can argue the value of free liability protection and socialized environmental impact costs for corporations exceeds the value of taxes they pass off to consumers anyway. In sheer amount paid, I'd still bet that the poor pay more than they "recieve" from welfare payments and earned income tax credits over the course of their lifetime. It's not like they're simply making money off of you.

    2. Not defending the system,

      Could have fooled me.

      1. You're not paying attention. Debating inaccurate points made about the current system is not the same as defending the current system.

  30. By the way, the predominant welfare the poor receive from government comes from the state and local levels. Here in Texas, the poor thus pay more than their "fair share" via regressive sales taxes.

    At the federal level, the predominant welfare programs the poor receive - Social Security and Medicare - are already flat tax rates. Seems that most of the federal "welfare" programs go to the rich and middle class.

    1. Even more of a reason to kill those programs. I'd rather pay a sales tax any day of the week than state income tax.

      1. And I suppose you have enough money to where adding 8% to the cost of consumer products isn't that big a deal for you?

        1. I only make 45k a year but honestly, i don't even notice the sales tax anymore.

          1. That what's bad about the sales tax - we've come to accept it for no good reason. If you live under the poverty line, you're likely going to be spending close to 100% of your income if not more each year. 8% of 20k is $1600. If they pay another 6% on payroll and Medicare, that's $1200. Factor in the inflated cost of goods thanks to monetary policy, corporate income taxes and property taxes as processed through rent, I don't see much of a price differential between the Earned Income Tax Credit of around 4.5k for a two children household. In other words, the earned income tax credit seems to do nothing but offset their other taxes and break close to, if not quite, even. Yes, the rest of us pay for the social programs, but it's not like the poor are just pocketing a bunch of our money so calling it "redistribution of wealth" is somewhat specious.

            If you don't buy that, since money is fungible the sales taxes the poor pay could just as easily be argued to pay for tax credits for wealthy businesses to move to a state or for community redevelopment boards to seize the poor's houses.

    2. There is no such thing as a regressive sales tax. I haven't been in a store yet that ask me for my 1040 when I make a purchase. And please don't give me the "poor people use more of their income for basic necessities" crap. I am not the cause other peoples' bad decisions and nor should I be the solution.

      1. Especially if you consider that "basic necessities" such as groceries in some states, such as my home state of Texas, are not taxed.

  31. Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?

    Because they're rich, Dave? Was that so hard?

    1. Re: Alan Vanneman,

      Because they're rich, Dave? Was that so hard?

      So once they stop being rich, then what?

      1. Then the egalitarians will finally have nobody left to envy with regards to wealth.

        So they'll find some other inadequacy about themselves to get all emotional about and start working to make everyone equal with respect to it.

        "Equal" of course means "lowest common denominator".

        1. First they came for the people with too much money,

          Then they came for the people with too many guns,

          and that was pretty much the end of it, actually.

    2. DECLINING MARGINAL UTILITY OF INCOME.

      50% of Bill Gate's wealth is worth less to Bill Gates than 50% of my wealth is worth to me.

      If the theory is everyone should pay an equal percentage of wealth, rather than an equal percentage of the accounting fiction we call money, then you need some sort of progressive taxation.

      "Wealth" is not the same as money; it's not the same as property. It's a function of value. This is why voluntary trades of property create wealth, and don't just move property back and forth between Peter and Paul.

      It may be impractical to have everyone give up the same amount of "wealth" and it may be that a flat rate tax on money income is the best we can do. Fine.

      But you fail basic economics if you think that money is identical to wealth. Wealth is created when things are moved from lower-valued uses to higher ones.

      1. ^ THIS.

      2. Anything taken in taxes beyond the basic services that all citizens receive is little more than theft. I can accept a cut-off point in taxes for the poor, but unlimited taxes for the rich "because they can afford it" is Marxist nonsense.

      3. "This is why voluntary trades of property create wealth, and don't just move property back and forth between Peter and Paul."

        Do progressive tax codes accomplish this in a Voluntary fashion?

      4. "Declining marginal utility of income" is a fancy way of saying "rich people don't miss it as much when government steals their money."

        It's not a moral justification for the underlying theft.

      5. "If the theory is everyone should pay an equal percentage of wealth, rather than an equal percentage of the accounting fiction we call money, then you need some sort of progressive taxation."

        The article is not about taxes on wealth but taxes on income. Income is not the same as wealth. One's net wealth can increase in a given year, when that person has had no income.

    3. "OH LOOK I JUST SOLVED ALL OUR TAX PROBLEMS!! :splooge:"

      What's your definition of rich, Alan? At what income level do you deem someone "rich," or "not rich," and by what methodology did you use to determine this demarcation line?

      Gee, it's not quite so easy now, is it, you fucking waste?

  32. Again, if "that is theirs and not this other guys" leads to human suffering then while I understand it I feel no moral compulsion to go with it.

    Of course, taking what's theirs and giving it to other guy apparently doesn't do much to alleviate human suffering (else why do these programs never seem to achieve their goals/), and also leads to human suffering (by a myriad of mechanisms, including dependency on the whims of bureaucrats, the erosion of the economy, and so forth).

  33. 50% of Bill Gate's wealth is worth less to Bill Gates than 50% of my wealth is worth to me.

    And you know this how? You appear to be confidently stating a conclusion based on the subjective value different people place on their property.

    1. That's an argument against the practicality of a wealth-based flat tax, sure.

      But try Googling "marginal utility."

      Here's another authority:

      "And Jesus sat by the treasury, and watched how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow who threw in two mites....And he called his disciples, and said: 'Truthfully, I say to you, that this poor widow has cast in more than all they that cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in was from their abundance; but she cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mark 12:41-44)

      1. Here's another authority

        No, not really.

      2. "And there were some that had ingidnation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointmen made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, 'Let her alone; why trouble you her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.'"
        (Mark 14:4-7, KJV)

        I can cherry pick too.

      3. And thus you've missed the entire point of the parable.

      4. jhn, you are mistaken. Cross-person utility comparisons are impossible; utility cannot be measured. Utils are a figment. You have no idea how much Bill Gates loves money or, conversely, how much he hates it. He could love money so much that his marginal utility for wealth stays very high or near-constant regardless of how much money he gets. Conversely, a poor Buddhist monk could find wealth revolting and, therefore, tire of money very quickly. A persons social status has no bearing on their utility for anything, as all value is subjective.

        Moreover, the logical conclusion of your argument (which was originally postulated by economic egalitarians) would be that we should give everyone in society an equal amount of money, as "society's net utility" would increase. After all, the rich would lose almost no utility while the poor would get it in abundance from the redistributed wealth.

      5. jhn, you are mistaken. Cross-person utility comparisons are impossible; utility cannot be measured. Utils are a figment. You have no idea how much Bill Gates loves money or, conversely, how much he hates it. He could love money so much that his marginal utility for wealth stays very high or near-constant regardless of how much money he gets. Conversely, a poor Buddhist monk could find wealth revolting and, therefore, tire of money very quickly. A persons social status has no bearing on their utility for anything, as all value is subjective.

        Moreover, the logical conclusion of your argument (which was originally postulated by economic egalitarians) would be that we should give everyone in society an equal amount of money, as "society's net utility" would increase. After all, the rich would lose almost no utility while the poor would get it in abundance from the redistributed wealth.

        1. Sorry about the double post.

  34. "Wealth" is not the same as money; it's not the same as property. It's a function of value"

    Which, even if true (which I am not conceding is the case), has nothing to do with the value of government services received by specific individuals - which is what the "tax" (i.e user fee) should be based on.

    1. I'm not going to hold you to "conceding" a basic tenet of economics.

      User fees are impractical for many goods the state provides. How do you determine how much a given person benefits from, say, the police? You seem to be assuming that everyone benefits equally, because that makes your argument easier.

      I've read plenty of arguments to the effect that, the more property you have, the more you benefit from the protection of the state. Under this line of reasoning a user fee system works out the same as progressive taxation.

      In any event, what if a given person does not want to have police protection or recourse to the courts or to be protected from foreign invasion, for whatever idiosyncratic reason? How do you justify making that person pay for unwanted services?

      1. "I'm not going to hold you to "conceding" a basic tenet of economics."

        Nothing is a "basic tenet of economics" on your say so.

        I've heard people claim that Keyneseanism is a "basic tenet of economics" as well. And that is total BS.

        "I've read plenty of arguments to the effect that, the more property you have, the more you benefit from the protection of the state"

        And that is nonsense. Police, fire and military protection are not analogous to property insurance.

        The government is not going to reimburse anyone for property that it fails to prevent being stolen, the house that it fails to prevent from buring down or property that overrun by an invading foreign power.

        1. Yes, you'll just have to take the distinction between "wealth," "value," and "money" on my say-so. I insist on it.

          Let me repeat my two questions:

          * How do you justify taxing people AT ALL for any government services of any kind, given that an individual person might not want to receive any "benefits" from the state;

          * How do you determine how much a given person benefits from the state, and if you assume that all people benefit equally, why are you making that assumption? (Not all people benefit equally from trash collection or going to the supermarket, for instance.)

          Let me expand on the first point. I, a sovereign man with god-given rights, might very much desire for Canada to invade and occupy the United States. Therefore, how is it justified to tax me to fund the military forces needed to repel the attack?

          1. "Yes, you'll just have to take the distinction between "wealth," "value," and "money" on my say-so. I insist on it."

            Ha!

            You can insist anything you want. I'm under no compunction to accomodate you.

            "* How do you justify taxing people AT ALL for any government services of any kind, given that an individual person might not want to receive any "benefits" from the state;"

            If they don't want to receive any benefits, then they can leave the country. That'll take care of that.

            "* How do you determine how much a given person benefits from the state, and if you assume that all people benefit equally, why are you making that assumption?"

            I don't accept the premise that the burdern of proof is on me to prove that all people benefit equally from basic services such as police or fire protection. The burden is on those who claim they don't benefit equally to justify charging one person more than another. If I call the police, they aren't going to show up at my house any faster than they will for the guy 4 houses down the block whose net worth is 40% less than mine.

      2. "User fees are impractical for many goods the state provides. How do you determine how much a given person benefits from, say, the police?"

        The most expensive things the state provides are not services at all but transfer payments.

        It's not difficult at all to determine that 100% benefits the recepient and 0% benefits the payor.

  35. Who says Washington is so great?!

  36. "If the theory is everyone should pay an equal percentage of wealth,.."

    Whose "theory" was that to begin with?

    This thread is about the federal INCOME tax.

  37. America's "basic social compact."

    I always thought that was, "Stay the fuck off my land and I won't shoot you"

  38. Let me see if this about covers it:

    The income tax is the only tax that matters.

    Poor people are by definition unproductive. Rich people are by definition productive.

    Our tax code should favor people libertarians find morally upstanding and punish those it finds morally vicious, that assessment made entirely based on one's wealth (see above). This isn't at all like how religious fanatics behave.

    Humans are not born as infants to parents, but are spawned spontaneously into a more-or-less fair world as full adults, thus luck plays a minimal role in one's future success.

    A dollar to a person with a million dollars is exactly as valuable as a dollar is to a person with only 10 dollars.

    Poor people are a myth. From the vista of Mom's basement we know this, because we heard anecdotes about so-called poor people buying electronics.

    Most importantly, being taxed is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to a human being.

    1. Even broken clocks are right twice a day. Tony has accurately summarized the gist of this forum and article. This is the problem when Objectivism hijacks libertarianism. If libertarianism supports minimal government possible, restructuring the current tax system to cause more poverty to give socialists to use as a political tool is utterly flawed logic. Libertarians should care about inequality since there are too many anti-libertarian reasons for it, yet it's simultaneously a primary obstacle to limited government in practice.

    2. Fuck you you condescending asshole. You know why people stay poor? Because assholes like you come along and tell them that it isn't their fault, it's the man, or the corporations that are oppressing them. All the while not doing a damn thing to actually help them because you have a sick need for somebody to need your help.

      1. I guess the cycle of poverty started because in the beginning we all had an equal playing field with a free market, but certain people were just unproductive and failed? The government has history been (and largely continues to be) the primary cause for poverty, whether it be racial restrictions, licensing laws, welfare dependency, corporate socialization of costs, property seizure, regressive taxes, public school monopolies, etc. It's nowhere near as simple as "the poor are just unproductive leeches and should pay more taxes" and this Objectivist mindset is as counterproductive to attaining liberty as the idea that they all need welfare and should be bailed out for their mistakes. Libertarianism should be about inspiring the poor to succeed while simultaneously removing all barriers to them doing so. This requires a sympathetic understanding of poverty that isn't simplistic and that can win out over the arguments for socialism and dependency on its own merit.

        1. An true objectivist would never say the poor as a whole are unproductive leeches. Anyone can become poor. But there are people who are poor and feel that other people have an obligation to not make them poor. Those people are poor, but it's because of their attitude that they would be condemned, not because of their status as poor, which is incidental. Many villainous characters in Ayn Rand's novels are wealthy parasites (James Taggart, or Peter Keating, for example). There are also virtuous characters that are not wealthy (Cheryl and Eddie Willers in Atlas Shrugged, Howark Roark throughout much of The Fountainhead seems almost destitute).

          1. Attitude police.

            1. As opposed to your super enlightened karma police forcing everyone to do good deeds because you don't want to.

        2. First of all I'm not a fucking Objectivist. And nowhere did I say that ALL poor people are unproductive leeches. I totally agree that we as Libertarians should try to inspire people to succeed and work to remove the barriers that prevent that. But fuck me sideways if I'm going to listen to some douche nozzle (Tony) tell me that $1, or $6000, isn't the same to me as it is to someone living below the poverty line.

      2. You know who I see whining and bitching the most about the circumstances that prevent them from prospering? Libertarians.

        For some reason people are capable of singular feats of productivity and willpower that allow them to rise above all circumstances and prosper--except the circumstance of having a government and a simple social safety net.

        1. But it's not a nightwatchman state and it's not a simple social safety net. It's a behemoth, a leviathan, and enormous all encompassing weight that sucks up anywhere from 40% to 60% of the wealth of this nation with taxes, regulation, and inflation.

          This is the problem with you. You do not argue honestly. You continually insist that the State is minimal, when it is not in fact minimal by any objective standard. More Americans work for the government now than in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining, and utilities combined. Yet you continue your fantasy world where this enormous super government with millions of employees and trillions of dollars is a poorly funded skeletal being that is going vanish in the wind if the mean old Republicans implement the Ryan plan.

          Your stupidity is matched only by your mendacity.

          1. Your math is a little fuzzy... it's closer to 35% of GDP (and these are extraordinary circumstances--it's useful for government to be flexibly to deal with reality).

            . More Americans work for the government now than in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining, and utilities combined.

            Maybe we should rethink that whole free trade thing. The size of government is not the cause of this dismal comparison--it's the collapse of real industry in this country in favor of a huge-stakes casino economy. Brought to you by free-market zealots with the best intentions.

            I don't claim the state is minimal. I just wonder why free-spirit entrepreneurs who can overcome poverty, illness, and all other circumstances to succeed through sheer willpower wilt like a precious flower when that environment includes government regulations and taxes. The argument is fundamentally contradictory.

            1. It's not 35% of GDP. The federal income tax is right around that. Add in sales taxes, property taxes, state and local income taxes, excise taxes, and all the various fees and penalties. Add in the economic cost of regulation, the huge amounts of borrowed money and you're looking at a government which easily consumes half the wealth of the nation, and to what purpose?

              Endless bullshit from you as well. Manufacturing employs more people in America today then it did in your union loving golden age. Still quite a few mines and a hell of a lot of farms left. It's government that has exploded like a goddamn tumor, gobbling up far more then it needs to provide basic protection of life, liberty, and property. Government is just too big, and you lack the basic honesty to admit, or perhaps the basic intelligence to grasp it.

              Again you pull this bullshit out of your ass where the free-market zelots are in charge. How the fuck can you even say that with a straight face?

              But going back to first principles: What gives you the right to take what is mine for your preferred purposes?

            2. Tony, you're the last person that should be scolding anyone about math.

    3. Humans are not born as infants to parents, but are spawned spontaneously into a more-or-less fair world as full adults, thus luck plays a minimal role in one's future success.

      A dollar to a person with a million dollars is exactly as valuable as a dollar is to a person with only 10 dollars.

      For both of these to be true, I would expect no lottery winner to ever file for bankruptcy. It seems that merely being showered upon with hoards of cash would be enough to ensure someone's financial success for life.

      Perhaps, more appropriately, some people are so terrible at managing their economic situation, that even extremely favorable luck (winning the lottery) isn't enough to overcome their limitations.

      1. There is still the deterministic question. Maybe those limitations are innate. Should we punish people for being bad with money?

        Why should moral judgments enter into this at all... Arguments for social safety nets and the like can be based purely on economic sense. We don't go around asking people if they are adulterers or thieves before we decide how much in taxes they should pay.

        1. Should we punish people for being bad with money?

          Your question is loaded. "We" don't "punish" people for being bad with money. Punish entails an act by one or more onto another. Being bad with money is a personal trait that is associated with negative consequences. No outside agency involved.

        2. "We" hahaha. The nature of reality itself punishes people for being bad with money.

          Just pass a law saying that poor financial decisions are now illegal, that'll fix it.

    4. I seem to have forgotten the golden one: people are able to somehow organize themselves and accomplish things without the State holding a gun to their heads. Ho ho, what a crazy land this Libertopia must be!

      1. How do you get millions of people to agree on courses of action without some measure of compulsion?

        1. Obviously you can't. That's why there are armed men in every restaurant to ensure that millions of diners leave a tip every time they eat there.

          1. A tip is an example of a rule enforced by social pressure and custom. For many things, that's enough. For crime and punishment, a more formal system is often necessary.

          2. Actually lots of people don't tip and quite a few walk their bills so that's not a great analogy.

        2. Why must everyone agree?

          1. They mustn't. But how do you organize a "voluntary" collective of people without compulsion of some sort? Wouldn't such a voluntary society eventually need "guns at our heads" and start to resemble a normal government, if it actually tries to accomplish anything?

            1. Which no one is advocating anarchy. A government should exist to protect individual liberty and property rights.

              1. I'm kinda-sorta advocating anarchy. I'll take the current system with two changes: no taxes, and no monopoly on force.

            2. But how do you organize a "voluntary" collective of people without compulsion of some sort?

              You didn't mean to type this, did you? Really? It's so stupid. Do you know what voluntary means? You're asking for a sugar-free coffee with sugar in it, and then acting like the alternative is insane.

            3. I'm damn well advocating for anarchy. I don't give two shits how the people 100 miles away organize themselves. They can be a hippie commune, a communist command-economy, a Euro mixed economy, a current-US crony capitalist society, Galt's Gulch, libertopia, or that fucking city from "Bioshock". I literally do...not...care. As long as they don't try to force me to do anything against my will, they can live in a muslim theocracy, a gay theocracy, or a scientologist theocracy. I...don't...care.

              Tony does not believe people should have this choice, or these options. He believes that if 51% of people whom he suspects of having terrible judgment and cognitive abilities (thus the need for a State to direct them) agree on something, it must be cool to rape the other 49% into compliance.

              Every man should be able to decide for himself what type of community he wants to live in, and have the right to form that sort of community himself on his own property if he so chooses. But just ask the Branch Dividians how that works out. Once the allegations of child abuse were disproven, that should have been it. Instead, we got Tony's wetdream: the state massacring people in order to force them into our organization.

              1. Every man should be able to decide for himself what type of community he wants to live in

                And suppose the world contained new people being born. When do they get to choose over their parents' will? Where do they go? He earth is finite. Even something as simple as making this choice needs some sort of universal agreement and rules.

                1. Even something as simple as making this choice needs some sort of universal agreement and rules.

                  Sort of like a "one-world government," eh, Tony?

                2. It's simple: the universal rule is, you can do whatever you want, however you want, as long as you don't use force on anyone else. Easy as pie.

                  And yes, the earth is finite. Eventually, once every square foot of habitable space has been used, I imagine we'll run into some kind of problem. Thankfully since 2/3 of the middle part of our own country is practically empty, along with huge portions of the Eurasian landmass, I don't see this being an issue anytime soon. Notice I said your property, meaning you have to acquire it through a voluntary transaction first. If you can't find someone to voluntarily sell you property for what you can afford in NYC, then you don't get to own property in NYC. You can go live your life in Kansas. Just because I believe you should be able to form your own independent polity, doesn't mean anyone else is obliged to assist you in said endeavor.

  39. Tony|4.20.11 @ 3:25PM|#
    "Let me see if this about covers it:"

    Nope, Tony, you only included about half your normal quota of lies and strawmen.
    But, in your defense, you did include your normal quota of facts and relevant comments. That would be zero.

    1. "But, in your defense, you did include your normal quota of facts and relevant comments. That would be zero."

      Well he did admit he was gazing out from his Mom's basement.

  40. I know what marginal utility is. I just think its utter nonsense to base a conclusion about marginal utility on the subjective state of mind of different people.

    For all anybody knows, if you were to seize half of Bill Gates' assets, he would put a bullet through his head, but most homeless people freaking misplace half of what they own all the time, and it doesn't seem to bother them.

    But if we're going to engage in speculation, I'm guessing the subjective value of assets probably sits on a bell curve. I would guess that the very poor have so little, that is so easily replaced, that they wouldn't miss half of it that much, while the industrious middle would probably be pissed as hell if you took half of what they own, and the very wealthy might not miss half of what they own all that much.

    1. "Utility" is always, and only, a measure of subjective valuation by individuals.

      You make very good arguments about how hard it is to know what utility actually for a given person. "Declining marginal utility" is a generalization. There may be some sicko out there, for whom the sixth bowl of chocolate ice cream is better than the first.

      But it still might be the case that a progressive taxation scheme is, on average, closer to reflecting the declining marginal utility of wealth for the average person, than a flat tax scheme, which from a marginal utility standpoint is actually regressive (for most people, etc).

      1. So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying that the 6k i paid in taxes last year didn't mean as much to me as it would have to someone who only made 6k last year?

  41. I've read plenty of arguments to the effect that, the more property you have, the more you benefit from the protection of the state.

    Funny, from where I sit, the more property you have, the better you can provide for yourself and the less you need the protection of the state.

    1. Gated communities, armored cars, personal security...

    2. If this is true, why don't all businesses agree to operate without personal liability or bankruptcy protection from the government?

      1. I'm sure more would...if the courts would honor the contract. Example: my employer warrants its goods and the sole remedy is a replacement. Buyers agree when they purchase. Good fails- maybe it was imperfect, maybe it was installed wrong, maybe they misued it. They want replacement and costs of cleanup and profits from lost production etc. etc. Sellers know the courts usually award most of this crap, so they settle the claim.

        1. They generally do uphold warranty contracts. But what about people the businesses don't have contractual relationships with? For instance, the chemical factory and the nearby town? Why does that corporation's owners' personal properties get protections while the townsfolk are burdened with quantifying the property damage and health impacts of the plant, hiring a lawyer and filing a class action suit against the bankruptcy-protected corporate property, which if they lose they would bear the full costs of the pollution? Or maybe they should just move away even though they were there first?

          1. Hobo Chang Ba|4.20.11 @ 5:07PM|#
            "They generally do uphold warranty contracts."
            Cite?

            "But what about people the businesses don't have contractual relationships with? For instance,..."
            Yeah, what about those fantasies?
            Cite?

    3. It's possible that the elite could gain so much power that they don't need a state. Alas, we found that oligarchy and rule-by-lynch-mob had some flaws, and invented democracy.

      1. Where people are beheaded until a dictator is appointed. (Right by Might of Majority, is still Right by Might.)

      2. So much for the non-aggression principle. The only morally consistent framework for stateless society.

        1. And everyone agrees not to be an aggressor... by the honor code?

          1. Tony|4.20.11 @ 5:23PM|#
            "Looky! I found a new strawman!"
            Thanks, shithead.

      3. Actually democracy was invented in response to absolute monarchy, which was justified using the same bullshit social contract arguments you're constantly making.

      4. Learn your history better. Democracy was an answer to tyranny (handily enough, the Greek despots of the city-states were known as "tyrants"), NOT a response to anarchy.

      5. The United States of America is a constitutional republic, fuckbag. All of its democratic elements are only permitted flexibility WITHIN THE EXCEPTIONALLY STRICT CONFINES OF SUPREME LAW. You can elect a totalitarian-loving white supremacist who hates Latinos and once raped a small girl, but he'd STILL have to be a constitutionalist in his official capacity - otherwise, he's violating his oath of office, and, further down, probably treason.

        1. *Committing treason.

  42. Im just curious, what does fighting foreign wars have to do with prosperity? Also, does shared prosperity mean with all 7 billion humans on the planet, because that seems to be his thinking on it.

  43. I do not have to read a single comment to know that somewhere here Tony mentions his sacred "safety nets". And then Tony is perplexed why companies in America would want to outsource to countries where people work harder and have actually believe in being rewarded for doing something, not the opposite.

    1. Can't blame companies for going for the cheapest labor. Some of us think there is more to life than working to increase the bottom lines of a few corporations How about they operate under the terms of the democratic will of the people who support them with their dollars?

      1. The people who say they do not care about money, are 99.999% rich people or spoiled brats like you. The democratic will of Africa is that you hand over your wealth, yet you refuse to do so.

        How about having people who work deserving a better life compared to those who do not. A person who works in China does not deserve to live worse than someone in America who does not work. Only a xenophobe could claim such a scenario is right.

      2. Tony|4.20.11 @ 7:10PM|#
        "Some of us think there is more to life than working to increase the bottom lines of a few corporations"

        Unlike shithead here, some of us can post without use of strawmen.

      3. How about they operate under the terms of the democratic will of the people who support them with their dollars?

        They do. It's called profit and loss. If enough Americans gave a shit about working conditions in China, then they'll stop buying iphones and shopping at Wal-Mart. What you're actually upset about, is that most Americans don't give a shit about working conditions in China, and continue to knowingly and willingly purchase products made under horrible labor conditions. Don't put this on the corporations...your beef is with the vast, VAST majority of the American people.

        Tell you what champ: you do your part, by only buying American, union goods. And I will continue to exclusively shop for products made from the bones of Chinese black female children.

        1. Jim|4.20.11 @ 8:34PM|#
          "...What you're actually upset about, is that most Americans don't give a shit about working conditions in China, and continue to knowingly and willingly purchase products made under horrible labor conditions..."

          To be real honest, most buyers anywhere of anything don't give a shit about 'working conditions' of those who make things, since most of those making things choose to make them.
          You're making the claim the 'working conditions' are horrible; got any evidence of that?

          1. That was my point; people don't give a shit, and the only valid way to "vote" is with dollars. I'm making a pro-capitalist argument.

            And yes, actually, my wife is from Hong Kong, and her father's family is from the (still Cantonese-speaking) area just north of there, but in the PRC. The working conditions I saw there were, by our standards, horrible. And everyone in her family bitched about it every night. They still went there voluntarily, because busting your ass for a wage is better than busting your ass for crops that may or may not arrive, leaving you with an empty belly AND empty wallet.

          2. I would also add, that libertarians do themselves a disservice (IMO) when we try to pretend that everything in third-world sweatshops is actually hunkey-dorey (I'm not saying you made that claim, this is just a personal pet peeve of mine).

            We should point out what I consider are two huge mitigating factors: first, these are NOT examples of pure capitalism. These are mercantilist, corporatist places where workers have little ability to improve their lot (though we do see this happening now in China). But your stereotypical third world, bananna republic, is corrupt as shit, and this has a negative impact on working conditions.

            Secondly, it's a phase under-developed nations have to go through. You don't get to magically leap forward from being an agrarian society, to post-modern, white collar cube land. There's a lot of sweat inbetween those two places, and people just need to learn that the only way to solve it, is by getting the gov't the hell out of the way and letting their businesses and capital evolve.

        2. Unless we're talking conflict diamonds, I really don't care who made the products. I'm assuming that they, like most other workers, VOLUNTARILY agree to work in those factories because it represents a step up for them giving the previous development of their country.

          But Tony, like most liberals, has a serious Messiah comple and thinks anyone not in a union must be being exploited, like the Chinese and Indians who's standard of living has actually INCREASED substantially because of outsourcing. Chinese laborers would much rather work in an American-owned factory than a state-owned one and a rising Indian middle class can be attributed to a rise in outsourced jobs.

  44. Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?

    I presume it's because the rich have more money...?
    If you want to borrow from a friend, do you call a poor one or a rich one?
    If you were going to rob a house, would you go to a wealthy neighborhood or a poor one?
    Who would suffer the worst from an 80% tax rate...a plumber or a billionaire?

    I'm not saying tax or don't tax or whatever (I don't believe in government at all, so I certainly don't believe in involuntary taxes)...I'm just saying I fucking hate rhetorical questions like this.

  45. Charlotte George|4.20.11 @ 1:10PM|#
    "I'm a full-time student at a university, I get good grades, working as a caregiver for elderly people. It's pretty fucking hard work, both emotionally and physically. It's the only job I've been able to find. Would you like to know how much I make? $540 a month."

    You're lying. Or working short hours. Given your posts, probably both.

    1. She's deliberately underemployed, but complains about poverty. Go figure.

    2. I completely believe she's a full-time student, given her ridiculous sense of entitlement. Getting good grades is pretty simple when you figure out that "regurgitating what the professor tells me" = good grades.

  46. I seriously thought it was rather, because over the weekend, she was itching to make anecdotal, personal, and emotional arguments -- and said that not engaging in those was an example of restrictive "boy thinking."

    The story of Charlotte George is right in line with this and so perfectly rather. Drug abusing father, poor mother, four children... draw your own conclusions. It was also neatly insulated from typical self-improvement counter-arguments. It sounded fictional, partly because her commenting is so out of the blue. The style doesn't seem to be rather's, and concocting a character like "Charlotte George" probably gives her too much credit, but...

    Charlotte George is actually the most tendentious, viscerally annoying, entitled and condescending commenter I've ever seen here, so I hope she's fake. This was the fuckwaddiest thread I've read here since I started commenting.

    1. That was in response to sevo at 10:36.

      1. Could well be a sock, but Charlotte's comments are bullshit regardless.
        Choosing 'victimhood' and then whining about it is typical lefty crap and Charlotte is certainly full of crap.
        Dunno; rather is also full of it.

        1. I agree fully.

  47. Charlotte George|4.20.11 @ 1:29PM|#
    "I'm willing to support any changes that still provides those who can't feed themselves, food, and a good education, and which will better help people escape poverty and become self-sufficient...."

    Oh, how................
    Stupid.
    According to your favorite source of morality, there is no poverty in the US:
    Poverty for a single person, in the contiguous 48, is defined as an annual income of $10,890:
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml
    Our current poverty rate is ~12% of 310,000,000; ~37.2m people (accepting the generous definition of "poverty" from those who gain by increasing the number).
    We spend >$7Bn in welfare payments to alleviate that 'poverty':
    http://www.intellectualtakeout.....e-spending
    If welfare spending was directed at those who are in poverty, each person would receive ~$20K this year, meaning a family of four would get $80K.
    There is either no poverty in the US, or the government wastes money left and right.
    In either case, don't bother asking for higher taxes to 'feed the poor'; they're eating better than I am.

  48. Re: Why should the rich pay the majority of income taxes?

    Maybe because thay have the majority of the money

  49. "Why did those households not pay taxes? Loopholes? Or was it because taxing them would put them into poverty? Or maybe they're already in poverty."

    While this is wholly irrelevant to the fundamental immorality of taxation, I will humor you. Imposing taxes upon the entire population and extracting an identical percentage of income from everybody ensures that each individual pays the same proportion of their earnings.

    If Robert Robertson earns $1,000,000 annually, John Johnson earns $100,000, and Peter Peterson earns $10,000, and the federal government collects 20% of their earnings, Robertson retains $800,000 and pays $200,000, Johnson is left with $80,000 after paying $20,000, and Peterson keeps $8,000, relinquishing $2,000 to the state. In such a system, people with larger incomes would pay more in taxes, which actually conforms to the moralistic trepidations of statists, but everyone contributes an equal portion/percentage of their income.

    If LeShawn DeShawn LeBron Antoine Brown-Johnson does not pay in taxes, Archibald Stephen Reginald Frederick Vanderbilt-McCormack III should not pay in taxes either. If LeShawn wants a better life, he can start by putting his dick back into his pants, getting off the mother-fucking couch and getting a job, and pulling himself out of the strata of society he's in.

    Trying to, you know, SORTA look for work, SORTA giving a flying fuck for a couple of months in some half-assed attempt to prove that THEM POOR FOLK AIN'T NEVER BE ESCAPIN' DAT CURSE O' POVERTY and then giving up and dropping back onto the armchair to watch your taxpayer-funded TiVo-equipped television is not good enough. I sure as shit don't have any moral obligation to pay for him to stay on his ass in Crackville, Los Angeles for the rest of his fucking life. I've witnessed this on several occasions, and I'm just one person. Do the math.

    In a morally and practically functional and sound society, even the stereotypical mine worker would find the shit he needs or wants affordable and of good quality, but we don't live in that sort of society, do we, Charlotte? We live in a half-baked, quasi-socialistic piece of shit shadow of the titan the American Republic was meant to be. It makes me sick to my fucking stomach. And guess what got us here? Nope, it wasn't George Bush's IQ; it was the same horseshit you're spewing so sanctimoniously at us right now, and whether you're intentionally advocating this malevolent crap or whether you just happen to be ignorant due to no fault of your own ("useful idiot", perhaps), it changes nothing.

    I've seen and experienced first-hand the consequences and further stages of the sort of nation and government you're proposing, and I think I prefer a thermonuclear war to that? that way, at least, we can blame everything on armed conflict, and not our own, willful annihilation of everything that makes life worth living.

    "If we have poor families raising children the best way a poor person knows how, there's still deficiencies."

    "The best way a poor person knows how?" Wow. Liberals. What generalization! Grouping people according to largely inconsequential criteria! Are you one of those dipshits that assumes all 'poor people' are clueless retards? Richguy McRich, in his billion-dollar mansion, spending all his time fucking his legion of lovers in the ass all year round and playing golf with his buddies, while his wife blows the pool boy every night and spends the day at some shitty, hyped spa somewhere in Beverly Hills, probably aren't raising their children to be nearly as responsible, or knowledgeable, as a few decent but struggling working-class parents are.

    "Families can be very cyclical."

    Sure.

    "If we want to ensure that children grow up to be contributing members of society?"

    Who the fuck is "we"? Society isn't a conscious entity. One group of people in society DOES NOT get to establish requirements and demands for other people in society in any aspect or any way, especially on how to raise their children. If they don't give a crap and their kids grow up to be thieving, lazy parasites, that's their business. But they shouldn't be using my money to fix their own mistakes, or even for this supposed goal of pulling themselves out of poverty. It is simply unjustifiable.

    " ? and not those "dependents" you so despise, then they need a chance to escape."

    They can make their own chances and seek their own opportunities. That's what decent people do. They don't skull-fuck other people through the state to get themselves a quick and easy way out of Shit's Creek.

    "And if their parents aren't going to provide it, then who is?"

    They are. Themselves. Guess that hadn't crossed your mind. And don't feed me the THEY WERE BORN INTO IT OMG CANNOT ESCAPE bullshit ? you try hard enough, chances are you'll escape.

    "And how shall that be paid for?"

    Breaking the chains of poverty does not require gifts of money, but a reasonable work ethic and effort. Pure and simple. You don't pay someone for nothing, lest they stay in the shithole they're in, since someone's working and paying for them, and they simply don't need to try.

    "By taxing that very same family into an even worse-off condition? No -- by taking the taxes from the people it won't harm."

    Who the fuck are you to determine what harms who? Who the fuck are you to decide how much money it's appropriate or justifiable to steal from someone else?

    "You can make it sound like the wealthy are bullied all you want, and like the more wealthy people are, the better it is for society."

    Newsflash, sweetie ? more wealth = (more wealthy people) = better for society. That's how the world works. And nobody, whether they're rich or poor, can be arbitrarily said to owe anything to ANYBODY, especially a faceless, undefined entity like "society", because nobody knows what the fuck that is. One politician defines it like THIS, and the other defines it like THIS. And then people like you show up and bite (and buy into) the Let's-Socialism-LOL bait.

    "But when the rich just get richer?"

    If the rich got richer (in a moral, free-market society), they contributed something in every direction to accumulate that wealth. They engaged others in commerce/trade. Everybody's better for it.

    "? and children are born every day into a family who most likely will not and can not teach them the values to become exactly the citizen you want them to be, then somebody has to foot the bill to try and help."

    "Can't teach them the values to become exactly the citizen you want them to be"? Really? Seriously? Here's the list of values I needed from my parents:
    - A foundational love and respect and reverence of liberty. Liberty. Liberty above all else, and only in liberty is life truly worth living.
    - Hard work and perseverance.
    - Theft is wrong.
    - Don't rely on government.
    That's it. I count 4. Yeah. I know. That's phenomenally difficult to teach your kids through the course of their childhood, because, you know, their parents are probably drop-outs or graduates of the public educational system, so they'll be idiots anyway. Yeah, it's really hard. I guess you're right.
    That's the same 4 that empowered a certain member of my family to go from goat-milking mountain boy in out-of-Russia Soviet Union to a colonel of the KGB. And nope, government didn't do shit for him (yeah, I know that seems weird for the USSR!1!11!!!!!!1); he had to work for everything he got.
    So I'm pretty sure that's what I'm going to teach my kids, if I ever have any. And I'll be sure to tell them to ignore/not waste time on people like you, too, because their time would be better spent watching grass grow.

    "You can't say we need more people who are able to pay and then demand to make those who can't pay, pay, severely harming anyone's ability to climb out of any hole they're in. You're not going to get what you want that way."

    We don't need more people who are able to pay. We need a constitutional, miniscule, and frugal government that only ensures national defense, provides a framework for the enforcement of contracts, and prevents and punishes fraud and unjustifiable violence. That means extremely limited taxation. That's what we need, regardless of your bullshit.

    1. *If LeShawn DeShawn LeBron Antoine Brown-Johnson does not pay in taxes, Archibald Stephen Reginald Frederick Vanderbilt-McCormack III should not pay in taxes either.

      1. Twenty percent in taxes, twenty percent in taxes. It keeps removing the figures.

        1. You're right, taxes shouldn't be lower for black people.

          But this isn't that difficult. An equal percentage may seem like fair to you, but there's no objective reason for it to be that. A number by itself is arbitrary.

          The incomes are vastly different and correspond to levels of hardship or leisure. Maybe a certain number is fair for one, and another number is fair for the other.

          You arrive at this by making the relevant comparison. Not raw numbers, but the level of burden that the tax places on the individual. 20% may cripple a poor person's spending power and thus lifestyle. It doesn't damage the wealthy person's lifestyle at all, at least not to a degree that's as meaningful as the hardship felt by the poor person.

          Fair by equal proportions is just as arbitrary a focus on numbers as would be taking the same dollar amount from all people. Why not $500,000 from every person (the poor can owe us)? Same number means fair right?

          1. "a number by itself is arbitrary"
            ahem, the Rich aren't paying their FAIR SHARE.
            "It doesn't damage the wealthy person's
            lifestyle at all,..."
            who needs Hammurabi...

            1. Yeah. Poor guy loses 20 percent, loses his couch and tv or car or some shit. Billionaire loses 20 percent, he loses entire mansions and businesses and lives are ruined of the people who depend upon his economic activity and so many other variables. This shit isn't black and white. Not by a mother-fucking longshot.

              1. Hahaha. So losing 1 couch among the 20 you own is just as bad as losing the only couch you have?

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