Economics

The Latest Liberal Nonsense About Economic Inequality

Former Obama auto czar Steven Rattner uses weak data in attempt to advance tax-and-spend policies favored by the left.

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“Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse,” is the headline over a column by Steven Rattner, the former Obama administration auto tsar who is identified by The New York Times as “a Wall Street executive and a contributing opinion writer.”

The only part of the headline you can believe is the word “unbelievably,” which is an admirableâ€"funny, evenâ€"example of truth-in-headline writing by the Times. One might be tempted to dismiss the column, but it’s illuminating as an example of the muddy thinking that mars much writing on the topic of inequality, and that has the potential to drive public policy in harmful directions.

Rattner’s complaint is that our government doesn’t tax and spend enough to even out the inequality of income. He writes, “Here’s what’s rarely reported: Before the impact of tax and spending policies is taken into account, income inequality in the United States is no worse than in most developed countries and is even a bit below levels in Britain and, by some measures, Germany. However, once the effect of government programs is included in the calculations, the United States emerges on top of the inequality heap.”

Rattner backs up that claim with a chart headlined “Doing Less to Redistribute Income”: “The U.S. ranks favorably in the Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, until taxes and transfers are factored in. Then, among these countries, it is the worst.”

Because it measures income rather than wealth, the Gini coefficient is a flawed measure, as even anti-equality crusader Thomas Piketty concedes. For example, someone who retired early and lives in a mortgage-free house may show up as low income, but have plenty of wealth.

Even using the flawed measure, though, Rattner’s claim that the United States is “on top of the inequality heap” when post-transfer, post-tax income is counted turns out to be false. A Gini coefficient of one means that one person has all the income and everyone else has none. A Gini coefficient of zero would mean everyone has exactly the same amount of income. In 2012, the most recent year for which the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has statistics, the post-tax, post-transfer Gini coefficient for the United States was 0.389. For Mexico, it was 0.482. For Chile, in 2011, the number was 0.503. For Turkey in 2011, it was 0.412. Those numbers do not place the U.S. at the “top of the inequality heap,” as Rattner incorrectly claims.

Rattner goes on, “That’s because our taxes, while progressive, are low by international standards and our social welfare programs â€" ranging from unemployment benefits to disability insurance to retirement paymentsâ€"are consequently less generous.”

That’s quite a logical leap. A country might have high taxes but choose to spend money on corporate subsidies or the military rather than on social welfare programs. Or a country might spend money on social welfare programsâ€"like health benefits and pensions for relatively well-off seniorsâ€"that exacerbate inequality rather than ameliorating it. Or a country might have low taxes but spend extravagantly anyway, using money borrowed at low interest rates from other countries (like Russia or China) that have even more inequality.

Rattner claims: “Conservatives may bemoan the size of our government; in reality, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, total tax revenues in the United States this year will be smaller on a relative basis than those of any other member country.” I’m not sure how Rattner or the OECD can know now what our tax revenues or those of other countries this year “will be”â€"the year isn’t even over yet.

In the chart that goes along with his article, Rattner alters the “will be” claim to one, headlined “Bottom of the heap,” that claims “U.S. tax revenues, as a percent of G.D.P. are the lowest of O.E.C.D. countries.” Again, he conveniently disregards Chile and Mexico, which, if you actually go look at the OECD data, have lower tax revenues than the U.S. does. I emailed Rattner to ask him about this discrepancy and he didn’t immediately reply.

The final giveaway that Rattner’s data are, as the headline put it, “unbelievable,” comes in a chart listing the number of “public holidays.” America, once again, is at the bottom of the barrel, with zero. Has Rattner not heard of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor Day, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July? Or is his point to try to make sure that even more stores, businesses, and restaurants are closed on those days than already are, or that even more workers are paid for not working on those days than already are? Rattner’s driver must park in a garage, because those New Yorkers who park on the street and have to move their cars for street-cleaning can count fully 40 public holidays, including Diwali, the Asian Lunar New Year, and Idul-Fitr.

The weakness of Rattner’s data is a clue to what he and many of the other anti-inequality campaigners are up to: using the issue as a cudgel to advance the same old tax-and-spend policies that the left was in favor of long before inequality was rediscovered as a trendy cause.

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    1. Well, first you gotta get the money. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.

      1. I think you forgot to put ‘Cis’ at the beginning of your username.

  1. my classmate’s step-mother makes $76 hourly on the laptop . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay check was $21931 just working on the laptop for a few hours. visit the website….

    ?????? http://www.payinsider.com

    1. Only working 72 hours a week!

  2. That was a great many words to say “Steven Rattner lied in an article.”

    1. Technically, he didn’t lie.

      He did an analysis and found it unbelievable.

      The NYT calls it news, the rest of us just call it Monday.

  3. And wealth inequality is also a flawed measure, because a lawyer with a lot of student-loan debt might show up as having negative wealth. In fact, any attempt to measure inequality is bound to be a flawed measure, so it’s better no one think about it ever.

    I bet you guys will like this, the Jew York Times finds some immigrants it doesn’t want to allow in:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11…..pan-region

    1. “the Jew York Times”

      Get lost on your way to Stormfront?

      1. Fuck you, cuntface. No one brought religion or ethnicity into this before you. Go fuck your mother you piece of shit. Fuck you.

    2. Perhaps if the eye holes in your pointy hood were cut a bit larger, you could see the paper’s name is “New York Times”…as in the city.

      1. That was a typo.

        1. Yours or mine?

        2. You were a birth-o.

          1. Oh my god! He made a mistake! Break out the pitchforks!

            1. He’s a racist troll. It was not a mistake.

        3. OK. Kinda funny actually. That’s about as bad as you can get for a one-letter typo!

          I guess you could attempt something with “chigger”, to top it. But that looks much less likely looking at a qwerty keyboard.

          1. Old one. C.F. Jewnited states, jewniverse.

            1. Jew!

              Seriously?

              Soooo gross….

        4. Don’t be lion to me! I read the exact same thing in my Jew Jersey jewspaper this morning, so I KNOW it is true! Whatever “it” is, I kinda lost track…

    3. The Spearchuckington Post?

  4. Also, another point none of these people ever explore, is what is the true consumption gap between top and bottom, and how much does it matter to overall living standards?

    Plus, an idiotic refusal to distinguish between consumer and capital goods in income inequality discussions. But, like all things progressive, their agenda benefits from ignorance.

    1. And unless a wealthy person is storing all their wealth in cash, in a Scrooge McDuck-style moneybin, their money is invested in the wider economy, helping employ people. One can be outraged that some people are much wealthier than others, but pretending that it causes some sort of damage to the economy is baffling to me.

      1. I often use the same analogy when I hear Progressives talk about rich people. They claim that raising the minimum wage will boost the economy, as the workers will have more money to spend. Ask them where the money comes from, and they fall back on a Scrooge McDuck style characature where the money is kept as gold coins in a swimming pool for the nephews to play in.

        Worse is the argument that “the rich save their money, which means it is taken out of circulation”. Have they never seen “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Maybe it is better that they haven’t, or they would take their pitchforks and torches and head down to Pete’s house, because that’s where George said the money was.

  5. Whenever I hear the word “equal”, I reach for my revolver…

    1. It fires both forward and backwards, right?

  6. This just in: “Someone who used to work for Obama is a lying piece of shit, only concerned with advancing himself at the expense of those he claims to want to help.”

    Film at 11.

    1. I’ll pass, I’ve seen this one before.

  7. I cannot stand this man.If you could bottle smug his face would be on the bottle,he’s on MSNBC all the time.He’s rich and wants to take other peoples riches.He is small enough to put in a burlap bag with a dozen rats though

    1. Rattner is on morning Joe, and anyone who Joe Scarborough approves of is okay in my book.

      1. you must be joking

        1. I never joke about Joe Scarborough.

    2. What did those rats ever do to you?

      1. I can’t stand the dirty,nasty bug eyed creatures ,and I don’t care for rats much either

  8. Also missing: any analysis of whether this income equality referenced in European countries actually makes those countries and their citizens better off or not. Equality in and of itself is not a laudable goal.

    1. What matters is absolute quality of life, unless you are engulfed with envy for anyone that has what you don’t.

  9. Weak sauce (we’re better than Mexico and Turkey! Yay!). Yes, a country might have high taxes and not spend them on social welfare. The point is ours has low taxes and also is stingy on social welfare. Say you’re fine being among the worst in terms of economic equality, but it’s silly to pretend that transfer policies meant to reduce economic inequality don’t actually have that effect.

    1. You could also ensure equality by confiscating all money and shelling it out in equal measure… but just because it has the intended effect doesn’t mean the effect is positive.

      1. You could also ensure equality by confiscating all money

    2. Re: Tony,

      Say you’re fine being among the worst in terms of economic equality,

      The U.S. is not the worst. That distinction falls on North Korea, with very wealthy party members and very poor workers.

      […]but it’s silly to pretend that transfer policies meant to reduce economic inequality don’t actually have that effect.

      They don’t and it is not silly to conclude they’re not. The effect they’re having is turning people over to complacency who would otherwise strive towards improving their lot. Whether this result was meant or not matters not.

      Once you get accustomed to faulty economic thinking, Tony, your errors simply grow bigger. They’re now at the point of geometrical growth.

      1. North Korea – where being shipped off to Qatar to build soccer stadiums in the desert is an improvement on life in the worker’s paradise!

      2. Why do poor people get lazy when they have more money but rich people get more productive?

        1. Um, I know you’re too stupid to understand, but maybe incentives have something to do with it?

        2. For the same reason that wild animals stop looking for their own food once they find humans to feed them. Why work for something you get for no effort?

          People who make money through work, on the other hand, tend to work harder to accumulate more money. Speaking for myself, I do it not only because I like the options and peace of mind that comes with financial security, but I also try to build a cushion for when shitty little thieves like yourself convince the shitty politicians you like to dig their hands into my pocket.

          1. I also work in a field where job security is non-existent, and when I have a nice cushion to live on if my work goes away, that means I don’t have to go jumping at the first job I get offered and have flexibility on salary range (so I can take a job I actually enjoy rather than one that pays a certain amount). The harder I work and the bigger the cushion I build, the better my options get and the more protected I am from uncertainty in the job market.

            I also go to school full-time in addition to work. The more money I make and save, the more classes I can take (at better institutions) without accumulating student loan debt. That then opens up more options for work as my skillset increases. Because I like working and getting paid well for it.

        3. Rich people are usually people who got money because they were productive, and they did productive things so that they could afford to be lazy later on.

          By giving a poor person money regardless of their productivity, you reduce their incentive to do anything productive, since they can afford to be lazy now without being productive.

          Hence why the number of hours an unemployed individual spends looking for a job correlates negatively with the amount of public assistance they receive. It’s called ‘perverse incentives.’

    3. …”it’s silly to pretend that transfer policies meant to reduce economic inequality don’t actually have that effect.”

      Oh, they work fine! Everybody starves the same.
      Except for those in power.

    4. Tony, the point is that governments extort tax money by the threat of violence and spend it on themselves. And good actually done by the government in the process is almost certainly coincidental and may well be the result of an oversight.

      I know; all your life people who assured you they were smarter than you were have told you about all the wonderful things Governments have done. They lied to you.

      Tax money is always taken from productive members of society – how else would they have money AND be weak enough to let it be stolen by government stooges? It is ALWAYS spent on the comfort and pleasures of a class of parasites. It doesn’t matter whether you call those parasites Kings, Priests, Commissars, Bureaucrats, or Intellectuals. you can always identify them by noting what class of individuals could dies tomorrow without hurting society in the least.

      OK. There are occasional apparent exceptions. Not whole societies, or whole governments, but individual spending programs that appear to have benefitted society more tun they cost in taxes.

      The term for these occurrences if “Accidents”.

      1. Everything you wrote is bullshit. I want evidence for these claims. Were people better off, on the whole, before or after the New Deal?

        1. The New Deal helped make a nasty market correction into a decade long depression with ill-thought out policies. This had not happened before and neither had this kind of interference in a recovering market.

          1. revisionist history at its finest

            1. Jim Smithy|11.17.14 @ 9:18PM|#
              “revisionist history at its finest”
              And most accurate.

              1. Seriously, how do leftoids never discover the glaring holes in the government skool narrative we were all indoctrinated with as children?

                The New Deal saved America = the 1930’s were a miserable decade wherein most of the country lived in poverty. But FDR’s policies saved America in the 1930’s…how do you never see the crudely obvious contradiction staring you in the face?

                Must be some of that old-fashioned leftwing statist doublethink.

            2. So you got nothin’.

            1. Before, you idiot douchebag beta leftoid.

            2. 20’s – Roaring 20’s
              30’s – Depression that lasts 15 years

              hmmmmmmm….

        2. You mean before or after WW2 I assume, right? WW2 ended the Depression, not the New Deal. Are you suggesting (as Paul Krugman did) that we have a nice big war and kill tend of millions of people in order to stimulate demand and help “the economy?”

          Oh, and contrary to what I assume you will say, it wasn’t increased government spending during the war or enforced full employment that ended the depression; it was more likely the fact that rationing forced the public to increase their savings rate so much that the people’s total surplus after the war far exceeded the government’s debt incurred. Far from an example of the benefits of deficit spending, the war’s impact on the economy was actually more an example the effects of increased private saving on the economy.

    5. Why on earth would I want to reduce economic inequality? Why would I want to commit economic suicide?

      1. Economic inequality is necessary until we are able to create everyone with equal talents, drive, skills, and luck.

        1. H.G. Wells figured that one out. Leftists will get there soon enough; they’re already doing it in the class rooms, only a matter of time before they realize it’s easier to deprive future smart people of oxygen at birth to make sure we all end up equal.

    6. also is stingy on social welfare.

      Is it stingy when I don’t hold Peter up at gun point and give his money to whomever I see fit?

      Say you’re fine being among the worst in terms of economic equality

      So why is inequality bad?

      1. He can’t answer that question, because it’s a made-up issue. It’s a reason to entice people to vote progressive and that’s it. It is meaningless wrt economics.

        1. And really when people start debating the facts and figures of economic inequality with progressives, they’ve just conceded. At that point you’re debating the nuances of an issue that exist only in progressive fantasyland and you’ll never defeat them on the battleground of their own non-factual imagination.

      2. Inequality must be bad because someone got more free shit than I did, amirite?

      3. It’s stingy, relatively.

        Some inequality is both inevitable and good. Liberals just advocate for putting a floor on the level of misery people endure. Because we know that people are more motivated to better themselves when they don’t have to spend all their time trying to acquire access to basic needs.

        1. So tell us – who has a stake in equality besides the inferior?

          1. Inferior is a term of rank. I don’t consider someone inferior because he is poorer. He is simply poorer. We don’t have classes in this country. That’s what this country is supposed to be all about.

            It’s a rather sad irony that the monarchies we descended from have more of a sane approach to the concentration of wealth and power than we do.

            1. When they’re not embroiling the entire world, along with their own continent, in total war, costing the lives of millions, including civilians. With some racist overtones and human rights violations thrown in.

              But, I’m glad they’ve become such saner people in the last 5 minutes.

            2. This is one of the dumbest statements I’ve read in a while.

              What would you rather be, a 17th century nobleman or a 21st century pauper? Because by every metric of standard if living, the latter is far better off than the former. In fact, by standard of living and life expectancy, we’re more equal now than we were back then.

              But, oh, the numbers in our bank accounts are so different, so I guess it’s time to bring back the guillotine and make heads roll yet again.

        2. Derp.

          Basic needs like flat screen teeeveees and filet mignon.

            1. There it is. When the left is called on their bullshit talking points just yell racist.

              Fuck you shithead.

            2. You’re the one who put an unqualified imbecile in the White House solely because he was black. Or more, accurately, because he was half-black…Lord knows that you fucking progtard pieces of shit wouldn’t deign to elect a black man to office who didn’t go through one of your Ivy League echo chambers. You’re certainly not going to elect one who isn’t beholden to you.

              You won’t elect a black man like Herman Cain or Thomas Sowell to office, you’re terrified that they’re going to tell you exactly where you can shove your sanctimonious fake empathy for the “downtrodden”. All people like you give a shit about is keeping poor black people poor so that you can make yourselves feel better by keeping them dependent on you.

              Your party may have moved from being supporters of whips and chains to entitlements and soft bigotry, but you’re still the party of slavery either way. You’re just too stupid to understand it or too morally compromised to admit it.

            3. Now I’m lost. What do TVs and high end steak have to do with race? You’re being ironic, right?

        3. You’re full of such compassion and grace. Claps.

        4. By putting a confiscatory ceiling on what someone is allowed to keep of their own labor. Fuck you. Wal-Mart has done more to lower the bar to people affording access to basic needs than all of the money-wasting government programs devised since the “War on Poverty” began.

        5. Liberals just advocate for putting a floor on the level of misery people endure.

          Oh really. So if you and I start out with nothing. Then I go pick 20 banana’s, I keep 19 and you get to have 1 banana. Did I increase your “misery”? Or is misery a thing caused by being unequal?

          Because we know that people are more motivated to better themselves when they don’t have to spend all their time trying to acquire access to basic needs.

          It’s called division of labor and very few of the poor are actually in that position either involuntarily or through no fault of their own. You want to do more than just satisfy basic needs? Then improve yourself and gain skills.

        6. Tony:

          Liberals just advocate for putting a floor on the level of misery people endure.

          Eh, judging by their policies, it seems they advocate more for creating security blankets for everyone, rather than putting a floor on misery.

          The minute someone suggests actually converting SS or medicare into programs exclusively for the poor, they whine their heads off.

          Listen, we understand: the world is a scary place. And people want a big sugar daddy to protect them. Not everyone is fortunate enough to find their own. I mean, let’s face it, some people are just unlikable, and their sugar daddy options come with too much body hair. If you want the government to be your sugar daddy for you, that’s totally understandable. Security blankets feel good.

          You don’t need to pretend that you care about the misery of strangers. We can tell by the way you conduct yourself here that you’re a douchebag. I have difficulty imagining that you concern yourself with humanitarian causes, or that you would, if only we taxed rich people harder.

      4. Lower income people feel bad if they know other people make more money than them. That’s about it.

        1. The rich care a lot more about that issue. Envy doesn’t disappear at some level of wealth. But it is a luxury of people who can fucking feed their children.

          1. Why is it your job to feed someone else’s children?

            It should be crudely obvious that welfare statism perverts incentives; in this case, it incentivizes leftwing looters to breed like rabbits, on the presumptive premise that someone else will foot the bill.

            It is only your mystic morality that allows you to get away with fooling yourself and evading reality. But reality cannot be successfully evaded; it can only destroy the evader. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you might move out of your parents’ basement.

            1. Why do you expect children who are starving (through no fault of their own–they are children) to have the same opportunity to succeed in life as non-starving children? Or is it just tough shit, the fact that some children will be born into a life of poverty they can’t escape is the price we have to pay for having low taxes for millionaires (because they are so productive and stuff)?

              1. Tony, show me ANYONE in the United States that is starving. Seriously, you can’t do it.

              2. Why do you insist on pretending that taxes go to feed starving children?

                When all taxes go to feeding starving people, and giving poor people healthcare, let me know.

                Instead, you always seem hell bent on having an argument based on a nonexistent reality.

                If you expect people to be really happy with forking over more and more money, it might be wise to show you can do something useful with it first.

              3. I don’t. The blame is not on the children, but on the senseless selfish people who bring them into the world when they cannot support their own offspring.

                Is it to much to ask to expect people who cannot feed the children they already have to not create more children? If you cannot feed your children, perhaps you are not in as position to be a fit parent and the children should be removed, “for the children’s best interest”.

          2. How rich do you want the poor people in this country to be? The onus should be on you to define this, since you want to forcibly take money from me and other to redistribute it to those you feel do not have enough. You have not defined “enough” but your level of expectation seems much higher than mine.

    7. ‘The American tax rate is low’ is a pile of stuff for my garden!

      Adding up the income tax, social insecurity tax, medicare tax, state tax, real estate tax, sales tax, gasoline tax, and excise tax that I pay, it comes to about 40% of my income. Maybe not at high as the typical socialist European rate, but pretty close when you consider that I’m also expected (as a productive wage earner) to shell out for my own health insurance plus what my employer kicks in for me. And it could be higher still if I weren’t contributing to my 401K to the max so that I can afford to keep my house once I retire.

      Low taxes? Cowpies!

      1. don’t forget state and local income tax.

        1. State income is in the above. Happily my town has not resorted to an income tax on top of a rather steep property tax. Please don’t give them ideas!

        2. …and ACA for those of us who don’t have employee-coverage, plus a myriad of additional state/local taxes and fees from property taxes, car registration, locally-held entities (I pay $10/month for the municipal employee to READ my water meter!), utility taxes, etc.

        3. … and self-esteem insurance mandates taxes, and space alien abduction therapy mandates insurance taxes, and maternity benefits insurance mandates for women who have been voluntarily sterilized taxes, and insurance mandates for booze-addiction therapy insurance for people who do not drink, and a bazillion other mandates for us having to BUY SHIT THAT WE DO NOT NEED OR WANT!!!

      2. Yep. Depending where you live, you might already be taxed like a European. See California.

  10. Did that sleazy little crook Rattner mention how the Federal Reserve has been impoverishing the middle class for the benefit of the politically well connected? Or would that be too near the truth for him to venture?

    1. You don’t talk about that stuff when you own a multi-million dollar co-op in a decent part of NYC.

  11. I love it when liberals who promote mass immigration of poor, uneducated people then complain about “rising income inequality,” as if the two things have nothing to do with one another.

    1. Democrats are the ones trying to regularize the immigration system. Republicans stupidly told their idiot followers that any immigration reform whatsoever is “amnesty” (which is now a bad word), so now nothing can be done, and the status quo is unchecked low-wage migrant labor (de facto amnesty).

      1. Tony|11.17.14 @ 5:59PM|#
        “Democrats are the ones trying to regularize the immigration system.”

        Yeah, Obo’s had 6 years and at times veto-proof congress, but somehow those rethuglians just won’t let him do it!
        It’s a magic spell!

        1. You’re a fucking moron.

          1. Apparently you’ve moved beyond the denial phase of your mid-term election grieving process into anger.

            Stay in anger for awhile. It’s funny watching this loss eat at you. And just remember that your idiot President is digging the hole deeper for 2016…so you can count on losing that election too.

            Just remember that when the voters turn against you, it’s not because they love Republicans…it’s because they can’t stand you and because your ideas are all based on ignorance and emotional immaturity.

          2. No, it’s true. Democrats had both houses of Congress and the White House for two years, but instead chose to pass the Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, and Obamacare. Democrats held both houses of congress for two years before that, and did not chose to send a bill to Pres. Bush to sign for immigration “reform” even though he indicated he would sign one that included amnesty.

            That’s a 4-year stretch where Demcorats could have done immigration “reform” but didn’t.

      2. Re: Tony,

        Democrats are the ones trying to regularize the immigration system.

        You’re such a fucking liar, Tony. The Democrats could not care less about immigrants. The immigration system has turned worse during the Obama administration, not better.

        Republicans stupidly told their idiot followers that any immigration reform whatsoever is “amnesty”

        That doesn’t mean what the Demo-rats are trying to accomplish is fixing immigration. They’re only interested in our votes. That’s all.

        1. From what I understand deportations has gone up during the Obama Administration.

          1. I believe that is because they are now counting “turned away at the border” as “deported.”

        2. Speak like a grownup when you are speaking to me. It is entirely counterproductive to unmask yourself as a dittohead moron. Speak real English words, please. Or Spanish, I don’t care. Just not baby-talk.

          I don’t know about “the Democrats” but the president seems pretty fixed on a policy of making the lives of our immigrants more stable and our policies more stable, at least as long as he is in office. Pity he can’t get anyone among the Republicans to come along, what with their incessant campaign to demonize Latinos so old racist idiots keep voting for them.

          1. ^^Yeah, speak like a grownup when you speak to a spoiled leftwing child who hasn’t even learned to accept responsibility for his own existence.

          2. But you completely miss the point that letting poor immigrants into a wealthy country, even if both the immigrants and the host country benefit, will lead to numerical indicators of inequality increasing. Which what makes you leftists complaining about riding ‘inequality’ so preposterous: you’re causing it to rise by letting poor immigrants in.

            Since you seem like a ‘simple’ person, here’s a simple example. If country A has 10 people who make $100k per year, and 5 people from country B who make $10k per year move to country A, where they prosper and begin making $50k per year in no time, and lower prices from the new labor leads to the original 10 people of country A making 120k per year. Now, clearly, everyone wins; the rich people already in the country make more money, and the immigrants make much more money than they did in their old country.

            And yet, retarded leftists look at that situation, and because the Gini coefficient, which was at 1 before the immigration, declines to something much lower (now that you have fresh immigrants making 50k per year in addition to the original people making 100), they cry that inequality is increasing, and make it into an issue when in reality, there was none. Everyone got better off, and the immigrants may even get more better off than the people already there, but numerically, it still looks like ‘inequality’ has increased, leaving the retarded leftists to think that things actually got worse. Which, did I mention, is retarded.

      3. Tony; Democrats are the ones trying desperately to keep the current half-assed system whereby large numbers of people get into the country and thereafter exist in a legal limbo that opens them to exploitation. The Democrats have learned the hard way that unless they hold a group down, members of that group start to get treasonous ideas about running their own lives. Having lost the Civil War, and this their slaves, the Democrats are trying to import a permanent underclass.

        1. The Democratic Party argument goes something like this: America is a horribly racist country that’s terrible to poor people, so we should import tens of millions of poor, non-white people who will then suffer, but will vote Democrat.

          1. They learned the hard way that they have to keep the underclass down to rely on their votes. So many Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans who use be poor and vote democrat got into the middle class and switched sides. The dems know they need to make sure that doesn’t happen again with today’s minorities.

        2. Libertarians, meanwhile, totally favor class equality. Pot calling the kettle Black.

          1. Libertarians, meanwhile, totally favor class equality. Pot calling the kettle Black.

            Source? Evidence? Argument? Pot of piss?

          2. Libertarians favor people keeping what they earn, how ever much or little that is, and leaving “welfare” to voluntary charitable endeavors instead of subsidizing a permanent underclass with largess.

        3. Because poor people differ from rich people in that giving money to the rich makes them productive, while giving it to the poor makes them lazy. Yeah, heard it.

          1. PLEASE give as much of YOUR own money to the poor, all day, every day, and I for one will sing your praises! Voluntary charity is a WONDERFUL thing! And Ayn Rand and others who say otherwise, can kiss my ass… But those who praise “charity” at the point of a gun or a jail or a Billy Club, courtesy of Government Almighty? THEY can kiss my BIG FAT STINKING ass, even FAR more than the likes of Ayn Rand!

            1. I can’t afford to give to the poor because I’ve been too strapped giving to the rich. If I were paid what I actually earn relative to historical norms, I’d have a lot more money and the supperrich would have somewhat less. But it’s not giving money to them when it’s done via buying politicians to manipulate the tax code. Only dirty ignorant poor people are clever enough to actually steal from the public coffers.

              1. Tony|11.17.14 @ 10:50PM|#
                …”If I were paid what I actually earn relative to historical norms, I’d have a lot more money and the supperrich would have somewhat less.”

                Judging from you posts, you should be making whatever the market pays for buss-boys.

                1. Judging from you posts, you should be making whatever the market pays for buss-boys.

                  I think that’s a rather harsh dig at busboys. Busboys work pretty hard and have to be able to get along with others…Tony has basically admitted that he’s a lazy piece of shit and has demonstrated very little in the way of people skills.

                  I don’t see him as being skilled enough to cut it as a busboy.

              2. Pure rationalization. You don’t give to the poor because you lack the understanding of what it is to be poor–just like most Americans. The big difference is that most Americans don’t go around bragging about their deep concern for the poor, while not giving. You, on the other hand, bray on about the need for others to give more to government so it can take care of the poor, while you keep your money for yourself.

                Typical lefty hypocrite!

                A number of other studies have shown that lower-income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans.

                According to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08……html?_r=0

              3. I can’t afford to give to the poor because I’ve been too strapped giving to the rich.

                In other words, you’re too cheap to donate to charity or you have a shitty, low-paying job. After being well-acquainted with your particular brand of stupidity on this site, it doesn’t surprise me that your employer doesn’t find you a valuable worker. You strike me as the kind of guy always on the verge of being fired, who’s always bitching about how the mean old boss won’t cut you a break and give you a raise. A loser, in other words.

                I’d suggest that you could still contribute by doing things like working in a soup kitchen, or donating your time and effort to a charity…but you don’t strike me as someone who has that kind of work ethic. You just see other people helping out and sit around bitching that they don’t do enough.

              4. Sorry Tony, that math doesn’t even work out. Grab a trillion buck from “the rich” and spread it around the other 300 million or so and it’s $3k per person. Sure, a nice windfall for a year, but then it’s gone, ’cause “the rich” sure won’t bother earning that much in the next year. Of course, you could confiscate their capital too, but then you’d see who is really creating wealth and who is consuming it when the whole thing grinds to a halt.

                1. I can’t afford to give to the poor because I’ve been too strapped giving to the rich

                  I can’t afford to give to the poor because my money has been taken by force by the government.

                  FIFY

              5. Tony:

                If I were paid what I actually earn relative to historical norms, I’d have a lot more money and the supperrich would have somewhat less.

                I’m sorry: how is your pay effected by tax rates on the rich?

                Are you being paid less because the rich aren’t taxed enough?

                Your comments reveal a lot. Sure, your pay problems are all the rich people’s fault. Because taxes aren’t high enough on them, and low enough on you.

                In other words, your pay problems are really a tax problem. Your ability to help the poor is a tax problem. Hmmmmm. One might take these facts and try to come up with a conclusion…… and…. you conclude that we should raise taxes on the rich.

                Brilliant.

              6. “Historical norms”? Tell me Tony, would you rather have a 21st century doctor perform surgery on you for $10,000 or a 1950s doctor perform surgery on you for $5,000? If the former, then you’re doing pretty well according to ‘historical norms.’

          2. Exactly who is “giving” money to the rich?

            Refraining from taking people’s own money away from them does not constitute “giving” them anything no matter how many times you try to claim that it does.

            1. We need taxes to pay for civilization, including the part of civilization that is tasked with preventing squalor and misery. That means we all owe taxes in some proportion for upkeep of this civilization. If the rich are not being taxed at a rate adequate to maintain civilization, they are, in practical effect, being given a subsidy. Somebody else has to pay for the balance, or we get deficits (the preferred option these days). If you can’t figure out that the semantics matter far less than the math, then you need to do some more thinking.

              1. Civilization is not a product of the state, you clueless imbecile.

              2. Tony|11.17.14 @ 10:52PM|#
                “We need taxes to pay for civilization,”…

                You keep claiming that, but you’ve never bothered to prove that claim.
                I’d say you’re bullshitting.

              3. Tony, in what way is civilization not being maintained? And is it your contention that the rich are not paying taxes “in proportion”, whatever that means? If so, please give specifics.

              4. The federal government is not synonomous with civilization and neither civilization nor the federal government is “tasked” with preventing squalor or misery.

                You have failed again – as usual.

                1. So you insist on playing semantic games instead of addressing the point?

                  1. To me, it boils down to different definitions of “want” vs “need”.

                    Progressives habitually declare “wants” to be “needs”, as in “To each according to his needs”.

                    Part of the disconnect lies in the definition of “what they need”. Humans all around the world demonstrate how little is truly required to survive. This might be one definition of “what they need”, but is probably not close to what progressive liberals mean when they say the words “what they need”. FOr liberals, that apparently has come to mean “providing means for everyone to live a U.S. standard lower middle class lifestyle without any further requirements or responsibility on the recipients’ part”, i.e., an air-conditioned home or apartment with an assortment of electronic gadgets, cable TV, broadband internet, free cell phone, free food, reduced electric bill, reduced gas bill, a car and oh yeah, toss in some walking-around money.

              5. Tony:

                If the rich are not being taxed at a rate adequate to maintain civilization, they are, in practical effect, being given a subsidy. …If you can’t figure out that the semantics matter far less than the math, then you need to do some more thinking.

                That’s the biggest drop of question-begging, mishmash derp I’ve seen in a long time. Yeah, that’s just what the math shows us.

              6. “We need taxes to pay for civilization, including the part of civilization that is tasked with preventing squalor and misery.”

                Probably many people here agree with this statement, but for much higher thresholds for squalor and misery.

                Progressives demand that everyone is entitled to live a middle-class lifestyle (complete with iPhones, cable TV, nice house, nice car, restaurant meals, tattoos and video games, high-speed internet…) with no effort on their own part and indeed, with no shame at not being able to provide it for themselves.

                More conservative people do not want people to starve or freeze to death on the street, but think that beggars can’t be choosers. Rice & beans and a cot at a shelter prevents that.

          3. Because poor people differ from rich people in that giving money to the rich makes them productive, while giving it to the poor makes them lazy. Yeah, heard it.

            If you want to stop the government from giving money to rich people, be my guest.

  12. Rattner’s complaint is that our government doesn’t tax and spend enough to even out the inequality of income.

    And there are plenty of logical leaps and bad arguments from his part but one question is left unanswered which is this: What makes Rattner and others of his ilk think that you reduce income inequality by taxing and spending?

    When you tax people, you take part of their income, purportedly to distribute among others, but doesn’t this encourage the poor to keep themselves poor and the rich to hide their money? And if the rich hide their money, doesn’t this mean ipso facto there is no capital to spend on productive efforts? And without these productive efforts, what happens to the middle class, which does not enjoy the same benefits than the poor?

    And if becoming rich means that you’re going to get taxed at a much higher rate, why would you want to be rich? The rich can be hit with higher taxes because they already have the money, but a tax rate for rich people creates a HUGE barrier of entry to middle class folks that want to be rich.

    All of that guarantees that the income gap INCREASES rather than decrease. Who would support such measures?

    Answer: Rich dudes. Liberals are indeed dopey.

    1. And useful idiots. See Tony’s comment above.

  13. The weakness of Rattner’s data is a clue to what he and many of the other anti-inequality campaigners are up to: using the issue as a cudgel to advance the same old tax-and-spend policies that the left was in favor of long before inequality was rediscovered as a trendy cause.

    Beautifully stated. That’s why they pay you to write this stuff.

    1. Income inequality? We must tax and spend!

      Racism? We must tax and spend!

      Climate change? We must tax and spend!

      Dangerous levels of debt? We must tax and spend!

      Etc.

      1. Well if you were as fucktardedly sinister as a progressive is, what wouldn’t be a justification to tax and spend? Jeese put yourself in someone ele’s dumbass shoes for once will ya?

      2. Considering your team’s answer to everything is to cut taxes and spending, and the’ve been calling the shots for most of the last 40 years, is it really a surprise that most of the problems they caused require the opposite approach?

        1. Tony|11.17.14 @ 10:53PM|#
          “Considering your team’s answer to everything is to cut taxes and spending, and *the’ve been calling the shots for most of the last 40 years,*”

          You fucking idiot, do you expect anyone here or anywhere to believe that steaming pile of crap?
          How stupid are you?

        2. I can spout Tony Facts(tm) too!

          Tony fists kittens. Why do you do that, Tony? They don’t like it. -Tony Fact(tm)

        3. Tony, you ignorant slut.

          Go look up what’s happened to spending levels in the last forty years.

          Why in the world do you even bother trying to lie about something that’s so easily debunked?

          -jcr

        4. is it really a surprise that most of the problems they caused require the opposite approach?

          What problems are created when you don’t rob your neighbor’s house? What problems are created when you don’t spend the stolen loot?

      3. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken.

        -jcr

  14. To the extent any of these things are problems, they have only gotten worse since the Lightworker ascended to HIS throne in 2009. Maybe it’s time for a new direction?

  15. Is this the same Rattner charged by the SEC for paying kickbacks to the NY state pension fund?

    He’s concerned about income inequality but was pretty ravenously corrupt getting some of that coin for himself.

    1. That’s only because there were people making more than him. He was doing his part to reduce that inequality.

      1. But, but, he’s a public servant. Haven’t you heard the NEA and the other public unions? Public servants deserve to make like a trillion dollars a year for all they do. That he would have to embezzle only serves to illustrate how horribly underpaid he must have been.

  16. Is this the same Rattner charged by the SEC for paying kickbacks to the NY state pension fund?

    Yes. Why do you think he had to “branch out” into political commentary for MSNBC?

  17. One error often made is equating U.S. federal revenue with the revenue of other national governments. Without also including state and local governments, in both the U.S. and other countries, this is an apples to oranges comparison. Many states have their own programs that supplement federal programs.

  18. This reminds me: https://reason.com/blog/2014/09…..en#comment

  19. 6 Years of Obama and things are worse? Who’d a thunk it? Guess we need to give him even more time, and then get Hillarious in to finish us off for good.

  20. sometimes in the night you jsut have to roll with it.

    http://www.Safe-Anon.tk

  21. alt text = “Check out this guy’s forehead!”

  22. If you don’t support massive government programs meant to help the poor, then you hate poor people.

    Intent is more important than effect.

  23. Funny how they always seem to go after income rather than wealth. Famously Warren Buffet pays very little income tax because he doesn’t need to draw much of a salary (just enough for the tax benefits) but he has huge amounts of wealth. Lower income tax, which disproportionately affects the middle and lower classes and tax accumulated wealth. You know, all those trust fund families that give a ton of money to politicians without ever actually having to hold a real job (being the president of a family foundation does not count).

    1. “Famously Warren Buffet pays very little income tax because he doesn’t need to draw much of a salary (just enough for the tax benefits) but he has huge amounts of wealth.”

      He also famously calls on all of us (non-richest-guys) to pay more taxes, while:
      “Assuming a 35 percent tax rate on corporate capital gains, the swap could save Berkshire more than $1 billion, on top of tax savings from two similar transactions earlier this year.”
      http://uk.reuters.com/article/…..sinessNews
      He’d much rather have YOU pay more taxes!

      1. Smug little fucker is the definition of a crony. Pure condescension from him when asked why he doesn’t donate money to the treasury. “I’ll pay more taxes when everyone else does.” OK, then if murder would be OK if it weren’t illegal, right?

        Or better yet, why does he take a charitable tax deduction? He should be happy to donate after tax money, shouldn’t he?

        1. He also gave his money to Gates, who, for his failings, at least requires metrics for the use of the foundation money. He (Buffett) did NOT give it to the government to be distributed ‘fairly’.
          He’s a financier and the concept of revealed preferences isn’t part of his vocabulary.

          1. Yeah, I get a huge kick out of that. The government needs your money because it can spend it better than you can, but somehow his charitable deductions never include the government.

    2. Buffet is (or maybe was) also in a fight with the IRS over taxes they say he owes.

      1. I’d have to look to see if his legal staff (‘Aw, shucks, I’m just a hick from Omaha!’) is still arguing the point.
        The hypocrite bought a fractional charter service (after the imposition of TSA on the rest of us) on the good bet that those with money would pay to avoid being groped.
        Now the question before us is whether his free rides on that charter service (minus being groped) is ‘income’ or not.
        I’ve had a hard time finding a good guy in the dispute.

  24. Steven Rattner is an unbelievably stupid man, and anything he writes or says should be ignored.

  25. there is another, deeper problem with using gini to measure wealth inequality and it is one that cannot be fixed and largely makes it a meaningless number in an entrepreneurial or high skill economy: it cannot tell an increase in peak pay vs starting pay from inequality.

    imagine an economy where we are all the same. we all earn $100 a year, every year, for our whole lives. perfect equality, 0 gini.

    now imagine an economy where we are all equal but earn $50 a year when we start work, get a raise to $75 at 30, another to $100 at 40, $200 at 50, and then retire at 65 and earn 0.

    it’s still perfectly equal, every person is EXACTLY the same. but, because we are not the same age, 25 year olds get compere to 55 year olds and we say “hey, these guys make 4X as much! inequality!”

    gini soars. but there is, in reality, no inequality at all.

    now imagine what happens when we add lump sum gains to this. your company gets bought and your stock is paid for in a huge lump. you cash out stock options or land a big commission. your income soars for 1 year. enough people do this that it happens to 1-2% of the population every year. this sets a non representative baseline for 1% concentration, drives gini wild, but, because it keeps happening to different people, is not a sign of entrenched inequality.

  26. ira, your a moron….

  27. He also donated several billion to his charities. Of course, he donated appreciate BH shares, which did two things. First, he avoided paying *any* CG on those shares…what’s 20% of $37B…$7.4B. Second, he gets to carry the charitable donation over for years to come, as he get credit for the appreciated value. He pretty much will never have to pay income taxes again.

    1. Also, of course, he crafted his taxes to minimize the amount going to government, despite his mewling that rich people need to pay more. If government is so great and need more money, why didn’t he sell is BH shares, pay the CG taxes on the gains, then hand the cash to the Foundation, and then *not* take deduction for the donation thus maximimizing the taxes he pays.

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