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Income Inequality





 

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Sounds like some kinda SOCIALIST! ☺

Bernie should look at page 4 of this treasury report.

Was it really a tax cut?

It's really interesting, but I always wonder what the numbers would look like if you removed the very, very top wealthy. You know, if the top 1% are skewing the numbers too much (I am not saying things are okay, just wondering...)

When will people realize the men in power have declared war on the middle class? You know - the backbone of America. That same backbone of people are the ones fooled into voting more of the same into power. It would almost be laughable if these masochistic voters weren't taking so many people down with them...

I am not sure how far this article is appropriate here, but some of you may find it interesting:

http://www.mises.org/story/3009

Nasty Thing to Express, where'd he learn his manners?

What's all this talk about Reality? Homo sapiens has evolved into an imaginative animal. And our society has evolved into a Directed Imagination/Animation. Commercial entertainment, Synergies, etc. Can you imagine the Synergy if corporations like... Disney, could buy up, say the Catholic Church, dismantle the dismal nte "liberation theology", etc. hire an Orwellian ad agency (excuse the redundance), update the Bible into modern Double-speak "English", ... Synergize with the Psycho-pharmaceutical Industry, and High Fructose Agri-business, the Obese virtual-reality conglomerates, a Privatized out-sourced Congress, and free-lance President/contractor-consultant...whoops, my imagination is on a very long (and tangled) leash...

Hayek, Mises, Friedman,... someone get me some Soma, hurry! Get me some Elvis, or DLC Bill Clinton, something,

Who the hell is this Socialist freak anyway!?!?!?!?!

Back in the good ol' days we wudda strung him up P.D.Q.

Speaking of which, uhh P.D.Q., uh, Bach, has got to be the MOST POST-modernist intellectual of them all, puts Hofstadter-Dennett to shame, amazing, yeah,

This is a joke, right, like Cody Judy? This weirdo can't be for real.

Can he?

Syngas,

Your second link seems to be to a series of numbers that are not in 'inflation-adjusted' terms, right?

In the first link, by page 4, are you referring to the page numbered 4 in the report or the 4th page of the pdf file?

Sorry Tim,

I'll try to find you the inflation adjusted info. What year do you want them adjusted for?

Yeah, I meant page two of the report or page four of the PDF.

May take a while on the tax revenue stuff. Watching the Olympics.

Cant find a chart or graph that is up to date.

If you go here, you can enter the numbers like I did.

Syngas, I don't quite follow the point of the first chart, mostly because "share of income taxes" is a vague phrase and so the relevant measure unclear. I take that to mean the amount in dollars. Is that correct?

If so, then the reported findings seem to me utterly trivial. A hypothetical set of percentages (even though these are not actual rates). Suppose there are only two citizens, both of whom pay the same tax rate (20%). Worker A makes 1 million a year, and so pays 200 K in taxes. Worker B makes 50 K a year, and pays in 10K in taxes. Now the total amount of income taxes paid is then 210,000, leaving Worker A with 95% of the "share of income taxes." But of course, that's an utterly trivial statistic, at least in my eyes. Expanding the picture, then, the top 5% of earners "paid... 59.7% of all individual income taxes", instead of, as in my hypothetical story, 95%.

Do I not understand correctly? (I suspect not, but elucidation would help).

PS: I love how the Bush treasury department calls his tax plan "tax relief" as though we've all been laboring under a terrible burden together.

personally i'm far from convinced that governments should have the right to tax income. but if this right is already assumed, then certainly they should lean more on the rich. unfortunately, the low income "folks" (how i hate that word) are too busy teaching each other to admire the "folks" who like to spend their money on yachts and cars and jewelry and despise the middle class to fight for themselves (other than to vomit out the occasional 50 cent or snoop dog, etc., who immediately become part of the problem). this leaves fighting for the rights of the poor (that is, their rights within the system of government) up to the middle class, who are often less than gracious about accepting this "mantle". (half of what i hear syngas saying here is "you can't make me be a superhero") and those that do are despised as meddling do-gooders both by their own class and the poor they champion, not to mention making actual enemies of the yacht people.

ya can't win.

The American founders cared about income inequality. It was this goofy idea that if one person can have a million times more influence than another person, solely because of wealth, it would be bad for democracy.

We're now pretty used to the fact that a bunch of Americans are worth billions of dollars. In inflation adjusted numbers, those were levels of wealth a lot more characteristic of the monoarchies, oligarchies and kleptocracies of the world. Now it's apparently the American way.

Has anyone noticed that the numbers given early in the video are wrong. 1% of 300 M is 3 M, not 300 K. 1% of 1% is 30 K, not 300.

This is such simple math!!! Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the video.

Syngas, I never follow your links so I assume you are trying to imply that there is no huge disparity of income distribution or that this small percentage of wealthy people in America is somehow healthy for a democracy. This is the heart of everything that is wrong with your whole political way of thinking. You need to travel a bit, my man. You do not see this income inequality in European countries. Where I live in Spain, you can't really tell a differnece between one nieghborhood and another. Everyone lives in a fairly similar fashion. It's rather refreshing.

This income inequality started with the tax cuts of Reagan and has become progressively worse ever since. It is poison for democracy, poison.

Did you even watch and listen to the video or did you just go directly to wherever you go to get your boilerplate conservative responses?

I love it when middle class Americans defend the super-elite, as if they are somehow in the same league or are one lotto ticket away from buying their own jet.

Big Daddy:

I think removing the top 1% is the whole point. We can do it with tax cuts or wait around until the guillotines get fired up again.

"Syngas, I never follow your links so I assume you are trying to imply that there is no huge disparity of income distribution"

Nope, not trying to make that point at all. Bernie was complaining that the rich are not paying their fair share, when (if you dare to follow the links), you can see that the rich are now paying the highest share of taxes (relative to past administrations) all while the total amount of taxes collected (yes, even inflation adjusted) has risen.

I'm not saying that is good or bad, just that if Bernie wants the rich to pay a higher share of taxes, he should be elated with the results of the tax policies of Bush.

What scares me about Bernie's point of view (and likely your's) is he seems to believe the purpose of the income tax system is not to pay for the federal government, but to keep people from getting rich.

No doubt about it, the rich are getting richer, but is that hurting the rest of us? You can rely of a politician who wants your vote to give you an answer, or you can follow my links.

BTW, how are you paying for your globe trotting?

Rich people should pay a very disproportionate amount of taxes; they have a lot more to lose than poor folks and have gained more from our system. The rich getting richer is hurting the rest of us. America's richest few have more control of media and government than their numbers should warrant. Before income taxes, America was dominated by the rich elite. We have returned to this same form of non-democracy. At the same time we have been led to believe that helping others is somehow un-American, that taxes and government are evil, and that private enterprise—unbridled and unregulated—is the answer to all our problems. We passed through the age of kings and monarchsonce, I don't think we should return (although that seems fine with most middle class conservative Americans).

Read Wealth and Democracy by Kevin Phillips, for starters. It's a lot more elucidating than a few numbers.

...you can see that the rich are now paying the highest share of taxes...

Well, of course, because they possess a higher share of national wealth. But are they actually paying a fair share of their wealth relative to what lower income people pay? This is the question. And the answer is of course no.

What scares me about Bernie's point of view (and likely your's [sic]) is he seems to believe the purpose of the income tax system is not to pay for the federal government, but to keep people from getting rich.

No, the purpose of a progressive tax system is not to prevent rich people from getting rich. If tax rates are higher for the super rich, the super rich will STILL BE rich. For instance, if Bill Gates is worth $2 billion or $20 billion, he's still rich, no? The purpose of a progressive income tax is to prevent the hoarding of wealth by a few individuals.

Theodore Roosevelt (and a man of means in his own right), an early proponent of heavily taxing the super rich, sought to do this to forestall "the least attractive and most sordid of all aristocracies," which is what we now call a plutocracy. Furthermore, Roosevelt argued that "wealth should be the servant of the people, not the master," that "we hold it to be a prime duty of the people to free our government from the control of money."

In other words, taxing wealth also taxes the power of the super rich. If too much wealth is in too few hands, most citizens become subjects to the power of the wealthy few. What we should fear more than anything in a democracy is having too much wealth in power in too few hands. This inequality makes it difficult for citizens to share power equally when one small class controls so much of a nation's wealth. Gosh, that's a pretty simple principle to understand, I would think. I guess not.

I know, Cory, that this is probably hard for you to understand, enamored as you are with wealth without responsibility.

There is a class war going on and it has been going on since 1980, and the wealthy few have waged it to shift power and wealth away from people and into their hands. Whether you understand this or not is another matter. Obviously you don't.

The wealthy can afford to hire the press agents and public relations firms and set up foundations and think tanks to promote their cause with much greater effectiveness than the poor and working class can promote theirs. Who, exactly, is speaking for the poor? Your contempt for the underclass as lazy and deserving of their fate has been expressed here in Norm's comments repeatedly, Cory. And why do so many people share your view? Because that has been the message promoted in this class war: rich = good; poor = lazy parasites looking to soak your hard-earned tax $$$. The poor deserve their fate because they don't work hard, and the rich deserve theirs because they’re the anointed few. It's phony and horribly untrue. No one works harder and for less than the poor. Most super rich people don't work at all and inherited their wealth (and power) without doing a goddamn thing. But they have better publicity departments promoting the propaganda to make them look glamorous and necessary.

It's a specious argument and it's making the poor, working class, and middle class war amongst itself while out the back door the plutocrats are robbing us blind. And people like you, middle class probably, hold your noses in disdain when viewing the poor and the paltry sums our government doles out to them but find nothing wrong the with the hundreds of billions the plutocracy steals from OUR national treasure without a peep hardly anyone but an enlightened few who don't buy into the pro-rich publicity propaganda campaign.

No doubt about it, the rich are getting richer, but is that hurting the rest of us?

Of course it is. The poverty rates in America are much worse than in countries who tax the rich more. Infant mortality is higher here than in nearly every western industrialized nation. Our education performances are the lowest too. The gap between rich and poor is higher in America. In fact, Cory, nearly every social indicator that matter points that the United States lags behind countries with a more fair progressive taxation system and who provide higher social spending for the lower classes.

So what is your point, exactly? If you want stats proving this, I can drown you in them. And they all indicate our inequalities in wealth and taxation are causing us huge problems.

Well mat,

Speaking of drowning, you've drown me in fallacious arguments. I'd take the time to point them out for you, but I'm too busy feeling sorry for my middle class ass.

Name one, Cory.

You tend to become passive-aggressive when someone presents facts to you, and instead of even presenting one counter-argument you play this kind of "oh, I won't even bother" game and quietly slip out of the thread to play your game in another.

So either step up to the plate or prove to everyone you're as lightweight and insecure intellectually as I suspect.

Maybe you can dog paddle around all these stats and at least get an idea how we rank in most key social, health, economic, and education indicators when compared to everyone else.

Fun with statitsics...

Obviously, one can argue about why we lag behind in so many indicators when compared to our European and Japanese friends. But how else do you explain why we pay more for health care than any nation and yet we rank 26th in the quality of health care provided for all citizens? Perhaps because if you are on one side of the econmonic divide you have GREAT health care, and if you're on the other, as the mobesters say, "fugedaboutit."

I suppose if you belive in Social darwinism and eugenics, letting the poor rot in their own filth is a great way to reduce their numbers. "Tut-tut, let them eat cake, and all."

And just to be clear here, Syngas/Cory, I am not trying to ridicule you as much as just learn what motivates your thinking. I am generally interested in your views on this. I am not trying to "prove" you wrong.

Ah, archaeology, err, architecture, H. Roark, Quintus Teal. Oh, I thought this thread was about McCains Mansions, anywho..

Mr. Scheck# is no slouch, but... Once again, jonathan becker provides the most astute analysis of the sociological lay of the land, emerges an archipelago of brilliance in the mi(d)st of his lysergic-acid-addled Pacific-ist sea:

"the low income "folks" (how i hate that word, maybe high outgo Masterrace? No...) are too busy teaching each other to admire the "just-folks" who like to spend their money on yachts and cars and jewelry and despise the middle class to fight for themselves (other than to vomit out the occasional 50 cent or snoop dog, etc., who immediately become part of the problem). this leaves fighting for the rights of the poor (that is, their rights within the system of government) up to the middle class, who are often less than gracious" I.e., effete snobs who can't hardly wait to correct your grammar, "just-facts", etc.

Repeating as he does a Frankly Thomas Frankian sentiment. I'm duh, confused, by "Cory" directed comments, until I ascertain that he is really "Cory, real estate tycoon/handy manager" and not in the synthetic laughing gas business afterall.

Christians often get their anti-tax sentiments out of Biblic screed contra "publicans" in the same intense atmospheric breath as "sinners". I arrogantly submit that the ancient "taxes" could be much more enlightenedly compared to modern "profits", and "returns on investments". They were cleverly organized transfers-bordering-on-extortion, from the less well connected to the more, in exchange for a few crumbs, if if the modern crumbs are up to and including ridiculously extravagant, spiritually empty giant screen pick-ups, McMansions. We collect this crap in exchange for an infinitely (well, tending that way) progressive Future.

I arrogantly asstert that all money belongs to all the people all the time, and that the "rich" has been entrusted to do something wise with it. Or else.

It is Else Time, elsewhen, whatever, high time to put away the Purple Dinosaur arguments and catchy tune-phrases, however dressed up in peudoscientific mathematicalisms (ye dare try to impress an initiate in to the Pythagorean mysteries with your "numbers"?!)

Wise up fools! Cock an ear or two at Paul Ehrlich, and yes, Malthus, Darwin's intellectual father, and, Snoop around some P.D.Q. Bach, out of ("right" brain Left field, I know).

Many a McMansion is in your intellectual Father John 14.2 McCain's McHouse of McHallmark McManufactured McSentimental McCards.

Heinlein wrote it: "He Built a Crooked House"

Better to quote Chairman Mao than Mises, Hayek, the paranoid Gnash, and yes, if acid (or a stroke) calms your over-active analytic sophistry mind, by all means.

Aummmmmm...

McCain's McManse shits amidst sacred (to Indians) "vortexes" of spritual (mah)atmosphere in Red Rock Sedona-Oak Creek-Verde Valley. Ah, the gift of gab, the Blarney The Purple Dinosaur, he's so cuddly.

I can't hardly wait 'til the election to vote for that Living Fossil.

"the "rich" has been entrusted to do something "

the "rich" HAVE been entrusted to do something!

What kinda effete snob posts/wastes another comment to correct grammar? Even his own?

I can't hardly wait...

Can't we vote this guy off the island?

"I know, Cory, that this is probably hard for you to understand,

Ad Hominem attack

"enamored as you are with wealth without responsibility."

False dichotomy - I don't despise rich people, so I must be enamored with them.

"Your contempt for the underclass as lazy and deserving of their fate has been expressed here in Norm's comments repeatedly,"

Fallacy of Composition - assumes my criticism of bad decisions made by some people who find themselves in rough situations equals contempt for an entire class. Also, you are confusing criticism with hate (contempt) - I think that is a Hasty Generalization.

"Because that has been the message promoted in this class war: rich = good; poor = lazy parasites looking to soak your hard-earned tax $$$. The poor deserve their fate because they don't work hard, and the rich deserve theirs because they’re the anointed few."

Straw Man, Appeal to Ridicule

"No one works harder and for less than the poor."

Fallacy of Composition

"The poverty rates in America are much worse than in countries who tax the rich more. Infant mortality is higher here than in nearly every western industrialized nation. Our education performances are the lowest too."

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

"If you want stats proving this, I can drown you in them. And they all indicate our inequalities in wealth and taxation are causing us huge problems."

Bare Assertion Fallacy

Whew! Probably spent too much time on that, but I do like a challenge!

Leftbanker,

"Rich people should pay a very disproportionate amount of taxes; they have a lot more to lose than poor folks and have gained more from our system."

Hey, something we can agree about! Now click my original links for a pleasant surprise!

"Can't we vote this guy off the island?"

All it would take is a request from Norm, and I'd be gone.

I was talking about philosopher's tone as 1.22474

What I don't get is what kind of society would you want to build? It seems that we already had your model 100 years a go in America and it sucked. We had the super-rich and a lot of people with very little money and even less political clout. After spending the first part of the last century literally fighting in the streets to gain respect and dignity for the working class, you would have us roll back the gains we made and return to those halcyon days of the robber barons.

I'd like America to lean more towards the European social democracies which have leveled out the inequalities in income via taxation and provide a much more comprehensive system of benefits and services. America's health care system simply doesn't work for too many of our citizens. Our public schools are being abandoned as the upper classes put their children in private academies. Universal public education was perhaps the single one thing that set America apart as the greatest nation on earth.

As far as taxation, most states have rather crippling sales taxes which are highly regressive. Do you think the super-rich give a shit about having to pay 10% on clothing? That same ten percent, on the other hand, is a considerable sum for a lot of people (Spain has no sales taxes, by the way).

So which model do you want to choose?

P.S. I certainly don't think I will change your mind just like I don't think that Richard Dawkins can change the minds of religious people who deny evolution.

There you go, Cory. That's much better.

I like that kind of response much better.

It's thoughtful and a careful analysis of what I wrote.

And now on to the fun:

"The poverty rates in America are much worse than in countries who tax the rich more. Infant mortality is higher here than in nearly every western industrialized nation. Our education performances are the lowest too."

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

This might be true, and bravo to you for trying so mightily, except I added this after the statement you cite, which you of course omitted:

Mat: In fact, Cory, nearly every social indicator that matter(s) points that the United States lags behind countries with a more fair progressive taxation system and who provide higher social spending for the lower classes.

Which was my ultimate point and this is not a post hoc fallacy: it has been proven time and again that there is a correlation between decreasing social ills caused by an increase in social spending attacking those social ills. Of course, this means fleecing the rich to pay for it, which I think is the right way to do it. You may disagree; I cannot say.

YOU asked "No doubt about it, the rich are getting richer, but is that hurting the rest of us?"

I guess I could answer that with a "yes" and it's caused by income inequalities (the rich getting vastly richer while the rest stay stagnant or earn less), and, like Leftbanker, I could cite works like Wealth & Democracy by Kevin Phillips and other such astute works on the subject. I tried to answer your question and maybe I fumbled through it a little, and I do admire your critique of my shaky logic on that point.

"Because that has been the message promoted in this class war: rich = good; poor = lazy parasites looking to soak your hard-earned tax $$$. The poor deserve their fate because they don't work hard, and the rich deserve theirs because they’re the anointed few."

Straw Man, Appeal to Ridicule

Nice try, but no dice here. Even if you don't believe there's been a class war being waged, I am sure you recall, for example, Reagan's claim of "welfare queens driving Cadillacs." And there have been lots of other trite and baseless ways of demonizing the poor in this manner by politicians, pundits, and other public intellectuals. Reagan was trying to find ways to finance his massive tax cuts for the upper tax brackets by claiming the poor were fleecing the government and hence these programs for the poor had to be cut, when in fact it was the defense contractors (whose money Reagan used to finance his two successful campaigns) that fleeced our national treasure in much greater numbers and led to huge deficits during Reagan's two terms. Welfare queens driving caddy's didn't cost 1/100th of of what defense contractors wasted building weapons systems that didn't even work or didn't work well (the Sergeant York, B1 & B2 bombers, etc).

"No one works harder and for less than the poor."

Fallacy of Composition

This one is a stretch on your part, but I concede that, taken on its own, this is not one of my better arguments. What I should say is that the poor are often chastised as being lazy and parasitic, when most poor do work and pay taxes and try to pull their own weight, but they just earn less and often for fewer benefits. But it is my contention that, in this class war, the poor have to be seen as responsible for their own fate (the whole "personal responsibility" argument). Jonathan Becker said it best way above that the poor often need the middle class to take up their cause, and maybe a lot of the reluctance of the middle class to do this is because of their misconceptions of the poor, which maybe they learn from a mass media distorting the truth. I don't think this is a logical fallacy; I see it as part of the truth.

Some of your other examples of my logical fallacies could be argued that they are not, and of course a couple of your examples are dead-on correct, but I concede all of them to you simply because you did a fine job pointing them out. AND I am well known for hogging a thread when I do get the juices flowing.

Cory/Syngas: I would like to ask you what you really think here, all rhetorical nit-picking aside.

This is an excellent model for presenting political information. Take a speech, add some chill music, and edit in some visual aides.

I have a feeling we will see more videos like this in the future. As a matter of fact, I know we will- because I intend to rip off this style myself.

As far as solutions go, how about this- your first $10 million in annual income is 100% tax-free. $10,000,001+ of income is taxed at 90%. Income will also encompass capital gains, allowing us to abolish that separate tax.

Not only will this model serve to reclaim our wealth from the Robber Barons, but it will reinforce the American dream- come, work hard, and become a multi-millionaire.

But there comes a point at which wealth becomes an absolute obscenity. There comes a point at which you should WANT to give it all away.

That's a pretty broad question mat. Can you narrow it down for me? I don't like reading essays in the comment section, and I don't suppose many others do either.

Actually, it was your original question I'd like you to answer:

"No doubt about it, the rich are getting richer, but is that hurting the rest of us?"

I'd like to read your answer to this and why. I don't think it takes an essay to anser this, although I answered it that way.

Hey mat,

I'm not ignoring you, I've just got a really busy schedule this weekend. I'll email you when I've posted the answer so you don't need to keep checking.

Someone else getting rich doesn't hurt the rest of us because:

Their getting rich is not preventing us from pursuing our own dreams. We are not poor or middle class because they are rich. If all the rich people were to disappear tomorrow, we would be none the better except for those who base their discontentment on envy, and those people will find someone else to be envious of.

Is it possible they could hurt us? Of course, but so can politicians who would presumably gain whatever power the rich would lose in your ideal world. Are there instances where some of them have? Of course, but that is no reason to set a limit on an entire population's potential. Also, many others have done a lot of good with their money.

As for the argument our programs are underfunded because the rich are not paying a high enough tax rate, I think the links I provided at the top of this thread destroy that theory. They are paying much more tax now than they were when marginal tax rates were higher while the middle and lower classes are paying less and making more That's great! Win/Win!

When penalties for anything get too high, people don't commit the act they know they will be penalized for. If we want to maximize the tax revenues from the rich, we need to find the balance for maximizing returns both for the government, and the governed.

Sorry if I went over 250 Norm, that's as short as I could get it ;)

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