MoneyBags.jpgWhen it comes to questions of how we’re going to pay for health care reform, clean air initiatives and everything else up to and including free ponies for everyone, many self-styled pundits have been crying out that we should tax the poncy, bourgeoisie bastards who hoard all the cash. “The rich should pay their fair share!” That’s the cry we hear.

You may want to read the following and then ask yourself exactly what their “fair share” really is.

Tax Burden of Top 1% Now Exceeds That of Bottom 95%

Newly released data from the IRS clearly debunks the conventional Beltway rhetoric that the “rich” are not paying their fair share of taxes.

Indeed, the IRS data shows that in 2007—the most recent data available—the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.4 percent of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. This is the highest percentage in modern history. By contrast, the top 1 percent paid 24.8 percent of the income tax burden in 1987, the year following the 1986 tax reform act.

Remarkably, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined. In 2007, the bottom 95 percent paid 39.4 percent of the income tax burden. This is down from the 58 percent of the total income tax burden they paid twenty years ago.

But that won’t slow down some folks. As long as there is anyone who is perceived as one of “the haves” by the rest of the “have nots,” the calls to have them foot the bill for everything will continue.

And this is the way that empires fall, sooner or later. You rarely go down to a hostile outside force. You tear yourself down from within.

JAZZ SHAW, Assistant Editor
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RememebrNovember
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RememebrNovember
7 years 1 month ago

People will never accept the facts even if they are in black and white. Birthers, for example. It is necessary tho, to put into perspective what the “burden” is for each side. It seems that a rich person can bear the brunt easier then the bottom 95%. So they can’t take an extra week in St. Barts, boo hoo. For the bottom 95% it may mean braces for the kids or a vacation. Choices are harder at that level for the rest of us.

openmouthedfool
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openmouthedfool
7 years 1 month ago

the same IRS data indicates that the top 1% “earned” 23% of all adjusted gross income. maybe that 40% share of taxes seems a little more fair if you consider that, granted that it’s still somewhat progressive

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago

We know that the income tax as it is now isn’t fair or right. There are two ways to fix it:

1. The Fair Tax Plan – Google it, you’ll like it.
2. Proportional Voting. – For each dollar of tax paid, you get 1 vote. The more you pay, the more your opinion counts.

DanDierdorf
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DanDierdorf
7 years 1 month ago

jwest wrote:
2. Proportional Voting. – For each dollar of tax paid, you get 1 vote. The more you pay, the more your opinion counts.
——
J, why do you hate democracy?

HemmD
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HemmD
7 years 1 month ago

Jazz

Boo Hoo Hoo – the top 1% pays 25% of the total tax burden. That includes their deductible expenses and off shore accounts? That includes their paid for tax loop holes and bonuses for blowing up the economy via credit default swaps? My heart bleeds.

How much of the total income does this 1% take in?

The top 5% own 50% of the wealth, why not make them pay according to that stat?

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago

HemmD,

The top 5% make 37.4% of the income but pay 60.6% of the taxes.

They don’t mind carrying you, but a some point you get a little heavy.

GeorgeSorwell
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GeorgeSorwell
7 years 1 month ago

Here’s some information about the effects of the Bush tax cuts.

Maybe things would be different in America if Bush also cut spending, but, of course he increased spending instead. He increased spending on the wars he started and on entitlements.

Restoring tax rates to pre-Bush levels doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Honestly, we have a huge deficit in this country. What’s the alternative?

PWT
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PWT
7 years 1 month ago

George, the congress approves the spending, not the President.

The obvious solution to the deficit is to cut spending. Probably the best way would be to freeze entitlement spending at its current levels.

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago

Dan

Democracy is mob rule. Representative Republics are a civilized means of governing.

It then boils down to how the representation is apportioned. I like the idea of giving the most say to the people who pay the most. It seems fair.

DanDierdorf
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DanDierdorf
7 years 1 month ago

Okay Jwest, thanks for clarifying that you do, indeed, hate democracy.

Thanks.

What’s your stand on kittens?

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago

Dan,

I love kittens………but I don’t think they should have a vote either.

RememebrNovember
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RememebrNovember
7 years 1 month ago

JWest thinks Mr. Potter got the raw end of the deal and George Bailey was a Communist.

jchem
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jchem
7 years 1 month ago
jwest – I like the idea of giving the most say to the people who pay the most. Isn’t this the way it is now? Nearly every politician is bought by some company, just look at all the pork barrel spending they all channel to their donors. This isn’t fair; it should be criminal. And as far as taxing the rich goes, everyone seems to be for it until they get rich. Why do you think people get upset when they have to pay an extra dollar on a pack of cigarettes or some other sin tax. And you know… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
7 years 1 month ago
The problem with the ‘soak the rich’ populist mentality is that the people who feel this way simultaneously want the rich to stop getting richer while also wanting them to pay a greater portion of the burden of taxation. Keep pursuing those two conflicting goals and pretty soon the money runs dry. If you really believe that the top 1% should pay such a wildly disproportionate share of all of the expenses of the ‘general welfare’ of the entire country, then you ought to be promoting policies to help them gain more and more wealth, because that’s what will be… Read more »
Kastanj
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Kastanj
7 years 1 month ago
America has a lot of perks for the rich, and very low social mobility between quintiles. The rich, to a degree, have it easy in America and earn a lot of the total income in comparison with the top percent in other countries. Also, they received a poorly planned and contextually unjustified tax cut – seeing as the entire nation and many households are suffering due to the lack of a long overdue and somewhat costly reform of the healthcare system, returning to pre-Bush taxation doesn’t seem so much as a soaking as an inevitable return to equilibrium – they… Read more »
jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago
“America has a lot of perks for the rich, and very low social mobility between quintiles.” Kastanj, Are you talking about this “America”? If so, I think you might have your numbers mixed up. There isn’t any country in the world that has the mobility between quintiles as the U.S. You can enter the upper 20% with an income below $100,000, so there are a large number of people bouncing through all the income groups every year depending on their individual circumstances. This isn’t India or China. People in the lowest quintile one year can be in the upper one… Read more »
Silhouette
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Silhouette
7 years 1 month ago
“How much of the total income does this 1% take in? The top 5% own 50% of the wealth, why not make them pay according to that stat?” ****** Ahhh,,,excellent. Hemm D has done the math..lol.. C Stanley, The current administration IS doing something to increase the wealth of the rich. It is promoting the consumers back to fiscal health that the rich depend on to keep buying the goods that make them rich. See, the rich don’t want to acknowledge that they depend on the fiscal solvency of the poor in order to stay rich. I know, I know,… Read more »
Lit3Bolt
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Lit3Bolt
7 years 1 month ago
Jazz, if the United States falls, I sincerely doubt historians will point to the US tax code as the prime reason (though it could also use reform and some loopholes need closing). Also, why does the top 1% need vigorous defense from populist sentiment? I’m sure the Rich appreciate the thought, but when last I looked it was still a democratic republic (although the oligarchy is not far off). If you dislike populist sentiment, move to North Korea. In anycase, this report has already been debunked. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/top-1-paid-more-in-federal-income-taxes-than-bottom-95-in-07/ Basically, taxes on the top 1% have risen because their earnings have gone… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
7 years 1 month ago
Actually it kind of amazes me that so much of the tax burden IS carried by that bottom 95 percentile given their much higher proportion of spending on necessities and also given that they are the ones who do the vast majority of the actual work that keeps the country going. What’s with all the 5% whining anyway? No, this isn’t about class or wealth envy (pre-empting the inevitable wornout non-response), it’s about logic, reason, and fairness trumping the Midas syndrome. The widening chasm between top and lower wage earners is a relatively new phenomenon btw (I say relatively since… Read more »
EEllis
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EEllis
7 years 1 month ago

“they can afford it”

I’m struck by how similar things might be said by those contemplating theft.
I didn’t realize that was the standard we used in determining tax rates. I’m poor by many peoples standards but I really don’t see why having more money should mean you pay a higher percentage. I really don’t get the hate for those with more. We don’t starve and can enjoy life even at the lowest tax brackets. The envy just seems wrong.

Matt Pearl
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7 years 1 month ago
Every now and again, I like to think of Ben Stein’s (though I usually hate the man and what he stands for) defense of a progressive tax (paraphrase): “The Rich should pay more in taxes because they receive more benefit from government services… because the government keeps the Poor from killing the Rich and taking their stuff.” Seriously though… Taxes are by definition redistributive, and it makes much more sense for those who can shoulder the burden to do so. However, I think that we need to do some juggling around with the tax system. Raise the top Marginal Tax… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
7 years 1 month ago

@ Matt Pearl- taxes aren’t redistributive by definition.

ChrisWWW
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7 years 1 month ago
“And this is the way that empires fall, sooner or later. You rarely go down to a hostile outside force. You tear yourself down from within.” Jazz, Exactly right. The richest people in this country have taken more and more of a share of our national wealth, while the rest of us are left with stagnant wages, a crumbling infrastructure, a bankrupt safety net and health care we can’t afford. “If you really believe that the top 1% should pay such a wildly disproportionate share of all of the expenses of the ‘general welfare’ of the entire country, then you… Read more »
Kastanj
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Kastanj
7 years 1 month ago

In a perfectly meritocratic system it would be unfair to tax the rich more. However, when your beginnings are such an important factor in your adult income, then it isn’t. If we were to tax everyone to the same degree, wealth and poverty *and all the other things that come with these two phenomena* would accumulate and solidify in two blocks.

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago
Spence, Come on. You’ve got to be kidding. As the linked article explains, the upper 1% now pay more tax than the lower 95% combined. In what Bizzarro world is that fair? Chris, You’re making typical liberal mistakes due to your mistaken worldview. First, the “pie” is infinite. The rich don’t cut into your piece, they just keep expanding the size of the whole pie. Second, although leftist believe they have the power to confiscate the wealth of others, it all comes down to what we feel is reasonable. The rich are rich because they are smarter, work harder and… Read more »
ChrisWWW
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7 years 1 month ago
“And this is the way that empires fall, sooner or later. You rarely go down to a hostile outside force. You tear yourself down from within.” Jazz, Exactly right. The richest people in this country have taken more and more of a share of our national wealth, while the rest of us are left with stagnant wages, a crumbling infrastructure, a bankrupt safety net and health care we can’t afford. “If you really believe that the top 1% should pay such a wildly disproportionate share of all of the expenses of the ‘general welfare’ of the entire country, then you… Read more »
jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago
Spence, Come on. You’ve got to be kidding. As the linked article explains, the upper 1% now pay more tax than the lower 95% combined. In what Bizzarro world is that fair? Chris, You’re making typical liberal mistakes due to your mistaken worldview. First, the “pie” is infinite. The rich don’t cut into your piece, they just keep expanding the size of the whole pie. Second, although leftist believe they have the power to confiscate the wealth of others, it all comes down to what we feel is reasonable. The rich are rich because they are smarter, work harder and… Read more »
ChrisWWW
Guest
7 years 1 month ago

jwest,
1st the pie is expanding, I never said it wasn’t. I just want to know why the rest of us aren’t getting any bigger slice? You care to explain?

2nd are these those smart hard working people you’re talking about? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/business/31pay.html

3rd, a lot of the wealthy, like http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/business/31pay.html are criminals. But I would never go as far as to say they all are.

qwert321
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qwert321
7 years 1 month ago

Gee, if there was only some sort of system that would catch criminals and punish them for their misdeeds…..
Screw that, let’s just punish all rich people with exorbitant tax rates because some rich people are criminals.

What percentage is “a lot”, ChrisWWW? 60%? 80%? 80% of rich people are criminals you say?

JSpencer
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JSpencer
7 years 1 month ago
EEllis: “theft” “hate” “envy” . . . which shows you little you understand the subject. For the rest of you, consider the state of the middle class post WWII, 50’s and 60’s, thier income, COL, taxes, and opportunities along with the income and taxes of the top 5% of income earners during the same time period… contrast that with the same criteria in the USA of today. I believe the definitions of the “American Dream” have been seriously mangled. If the citizens of this country don’t stop allowing politicians and radio personalities to do their thinking FOR them, the mangling… Read more »
ChrisWWW
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7 years 1 month ago

qwert321,
It has nothing to do with “punishment.” I’m just pointing out the various reasons why all wealth isn’t necessarily earned or deserved.

But please, you and jwest can explain to me why John Thain is 1,800 times more valuable than the average American worker.

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago
Chris, Why would you call these people criminals? They made a deal with the company they work for to perform their jobs for a certain salary plus a bonus based on how much money they make for the company over the year. What is wrong with that? Do you want the company to say “forget the deal we made, you’re making too much so we’re not going to pay you”? How would you like it if your boss did that to you? Just because someone is smarter, works harder and takes more risks than you doesn’t mean they are evil.… Read more »
qwert321
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qwert321
7 years 1 month ago

Because he voluntary agreed to sell his labor and his employer voluntary agreed to pay for his labor at that set amount of money. That is what we call the free market. Are you against the free market too, ChrisWWW?

qwert321
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qwert321
7 years 1 month ago

Anyway, I agree with you. Let’s base tax rates on “virture.” Your tax rate is determined by how much burden your peers in the same social economic class place on the criminal justice system.

If “a lot” of rich people are criminals, there are a lot more poor people who are criminals. 50% tax rates for the rich! 60% tax rates for the poor!

ChrisWWW
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7 years 1 month ago
Jwest, I’m calling them criminals because they stole money from the Federal government (us) to pay bonuses. Bonuses are supposed to be… bonuses! Money given in good times for excellent performance. Instead these bonuses were given while their companies we’re losing so much money that they had to go begging to Washington for money to survive all the stupid garbage they had bought and sold. Sure, technically they aren’t criminals because they haven’t broke any laws (that I’m aware of), but what they did is wrong and should be criminalized. In any case, they didn’t earn that money, and we… Read more »
jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago
Chris, Since we’re down at the bottom of a thread and no one else is paying attention, I’ll give you the secret to making money. Forget studying hard. Of course, there will be occasions when you will need to find information and literally become an expert overnight, but don’t waste a lot of time on degrees. Forget working hard. People who make serious money have short periods of intense work – but most time is spent screwing around. Hard work is way overrated. Rolling the Dice. Now we’re getting to the key. I can’t tell you how many scary-smart, hard… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
7 years 1 month ago

Chris, you could tax those bonuses at 100% and it would be a drop in the bucket to pay for healthcare costs for the poor. As for asking for ‘a little of it back’, we already do take 35% of it.

casualobserver
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casualobserver
7 years 1 month ago

In my younger days, I used to get all worked up in these discussions, but now I don’t.

Why get mad at these guys when you can actually “get even”. After all, I am actually smarter.

Over time, I have changed my business models to sell goods and services that the dear liberals’ government pretty much mandates they buy.

If they raise my taxes one percent, I will simply raise my price one percent. HemmD, Spencer, Chris will all be paying my tax increase for me.

RememebrNovember
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RememebrNovember
7 years 1 month ago

or they go to Walmart. Or the guy willing to undercut everyone else to gain market share a la Michael Dell. Mmm hmm God Bless free market entrepreneurs. But what they forget isn’t what the price is regardless of tax elevation, it’s the follow up service and keeping the customer. iPods are more expensive than the Zune, but have you gone through MS cust svc lately? Is their a face you can look in the eye and plead your case? Umm…no.

jwest
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jwest
7 years 1 month ago

CO,

Isn’t that the truth?

For some reason, liberals seem to think there is a secret pool of money that these extra taxes and regulations come out of. They never think that we just raise the prices and they end up paying for their envy.

Another thing they can’t grasp is that we start new businesses and hire people when we feel richer, not when we feel poorer.

Lit3Bolt
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Lit3Bolt
7 years 1 month ago
jwest, I have no problem with business owners. God bless them and more power to them. I would be more than willing to agree with you that business regulations in America are frankly, insane. And if you build a better mousetrap or find a way to ship it faster, go forth and multiply. Our main complaint against “teh rich” is targeted at the paper shufflers, the financial wiz kids who literally create something out of nothing. They didn’t make anything. They’re not improving anyone’s life, except their own. They’re in the business of gaming a system for them to make… Read more »
nicrivera
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7 years 1 month ago
There is no such thing as paying one’s “fair share” and it frustrates me to no end when I hear self righteous populists parrot this cliched phrase. Because we have a progressive income tax, we don’t all pay the same porportion of our income in income taxes. And while there is a certain logic to having higher tax brackets for people who make more and lower tax brackets for people who pay less, the percentages set up for each tax bracket are completely arbitrary. Now, I realize that much of the taxes paid by the rich consist of taxes other… Read more »
adelinesdad
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adelinesdad
7 years 1 month ago
I’m mostly conservative. But I’m conservative in more than one way. Not only am I conservative when it comes to politics, but I’m also conservative when it comes to jumping to conclusions (however convenient they might be) based on a pretty graph put out by a biased source. The top 1% are paying more of the total tax burden not *because* of the tax code, but *in spite of* it. According to the very numbers linked to by the Tax Foundation, the tax rate on the top 1% has actually fallen, faster than it has fallen for the general population.… Read more »
Dr J
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Dr J
7 years 1 month ago
Critical thinking skills are in short supply around here even on a good day, Dad. But slow down on the conclusions there. The top 1% paying more tax is consistent with the robber-baron picture, but it’s also consistent with the other 95% being lazy slobs who decided to work less in 2007 and caused gross tax receipts to fall. It’s consistent with the rich getting married more, producing more two-wage-earner households and pushing them up the household-income charts. (More evils of gay marriage, dontcha know, just wait until polygamy catches on.) It’s also consistent with every single rich person in… Read more »
adelinesdad
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adelinesdad
7 years 1 month ago
Dr J, I didn’t intend to reach any conclusions in my comment. I did not say that I think the economic growth benefited the rich disproportionately, only that these numbers *by themselves* seem to suggest that. I completely agree that there are other factors at play that are not considered in these numbers at all, and I agree that “fair” is subjective. That is actually my point, except I am making it against those who would look at these numbers and jump to the conclusion that the rich are paying more than they used to. And I don’t necessarily disagree… Read more »
JSpencer
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JSpencer
7 years 1 month ago

“What happened to our critical thinking skills people?” – adelinesdad

Last time I used a line like that I was accused of being elitist. 😉

ThurmanHart
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7 years 1 month ago
Why do people rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. Why do the rich pay most of the taxes? Because they have the money. Income distribution in the United States has been referred to as the “L-Curve”, because the only place there is an appreciable increase in income is in the last percentile. Wealth distribution is even more skewed, with the top 1% holding more than a third of all assets. By contrast, those in the bottom 40% have only 0.2% of all assets. The question about progressive taxation is not “why hate the rich” (by taxing them more)… Read more »
Dr J
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Dr J
7 years 1 month ago
“Beyond that, if wealth simply reflected the ability to make money, then we could tax everyone down to their last $100,000 and the wealthy would simply make it all back.” Of course they wouldn’t. Why bother, if the money will simply be confiscated? But you’re arguing against a strawman. While a 100% marginal tax rate would indeed kill the golden goose, I don’t believe anyone on the left is seriously proposing that. Nor is anyone on the right claiming that the goose would be dead at a 50% rate, just that it wouldn’t be laying as many golden eggs. “Investing… Read more »
ThurmanHart
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7 years 1 month ago
Dr J comments: Of course they wouldn’t. Why bother, if the money will simply be confiscated? Because making money is its own reward. But you’re arguing against a strawman. While a 100% marginal tax rate would indeed kill the golden goose, I don’t believe anyone on the left is seriously proposing that. Nor is anyone on the right claiming that the goose would be dead at a 50% rate, just that it wouldn’t be laying as many golden eggs. I’m not doing anything with a strawman. You are right that no one on the left is arguing for a 100%… Read more »
Dr J
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Dr J
7 years 1 month ago
We do not need to incentivize wealth any more (or less) than we need to de-incentivize the lack of wealth. Interesting choice of phrasing, as if letting people keep what they earn were a gift from the government. I don’t agree with that point of view, either on moral or practical grounds. Total hogwash. R&D budgets are not based on investments or stock purchases. True, people earn more when they earn more – but that is generally due to wage increases, not investment returns. Most people who hold investments hold them through retirement accounts, which means that they cannot possibly… Read more »
kathykattenburg
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kathykattenburg
7 years 1 month ago

ThurmanHart,

That is one of the best-written, smartest arguments against the “soak the rich” mentality that I have ever seen. Thank you.

DLS
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DLS
7 years 1 month ago
I’m surprised the return of the tired, useless “arguments” for progressive taxation other than the utilitarian and amoral one isn’t accompanied once more by widespread misuse of that sappily-misused word, “fairness” [rolling eyes]. I also roll eyes at those who deny the reality that increased taxes are a disincentive to what is being taxed, such as work, as well as the case taken logically and realistically out of context, that those who are at income or wealth levels near or above the threshold of practical independence are representative of the public as a whole, as if everyone can afford to… Read more »
adelinesdad
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adelinesdad
7 years 1 month ago
ThurmanHart: ‘Marginal tax rates have been much higher than they are today – and yet not a single person ever said, “Oh, I don’t want to make a hundred bajillions of dollars because I might have to pay ninety bajillions in taxes and only have to live on ten bajillions.”‘ Of course not. But there’s an opportunity cost to anything we do. It’s not a choice between making more money and doing nothing. It might be, for example, a choice between starting a business for the purpose of making more money (and incidentally also providing some people with employment) or… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
7 years 1 month ago
Excellent comment, Adelinesdad. I think people of reasonable intelligence should all be able to agree that 100% taxation would be counterproductive to raising more revenue, and that if you start at 0% and then go up the revenue will in fact go up. The question is where the optimum range is, and figuring out when you have leeway to raise top brackets without deincentivizing investment and work so much that the increase is counterproductive. Lots of people on the left are arguing that return to Clintonian levels should still keep us in the range where we’ll see increased total revenues,… Read more »
ThurmanHart
Guest
7 years 1 month ago
Dr. J writes: Interesting choice of phrasing, as if letting people keep what they earn were a gift from the government. I don’t agree with that point of view, either on moral or practical grounds. Economics is built on the idea of people operating in their economic self-interest. it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, being rich is its own reward, and the government doesn’t need to do anything to make people want to be rich. Nor does it have to do anything to make people not want to be poor. You don’t believe that? Sorry, I couldn’t… Read more »
Dr J
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Dr J
7 years 1 month ago
Being rich is its own reward, and the government doesn’t need to do anything to make people want to be rich. Nor does it have to do anything to make people not want to be poor. You don’t believe that? I’m struggling with your phrasing. You’re using a triple negative about what the government can stand back and let happen, in order to justify aggressive government intervention. The question isn’t what people will do on their own, it’s what they’ll do when the government is confiscating their earnings or paying them for doing nothing. Marx figured they’d keep working hard,… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
7 years 1 month ago
Economics is built on the idea of people operating in their economic self-interest. it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, being rich is its own reward, and the government doesn’t need to do anything to make people want to be rich. Nor does it have to do anything to make people not want to be poor. The govt doesn’t have to do anything to make people want to be rich, but it does have to show that it’s not going to prevent people from becoming rich even when they make the decisions that would lead to them acquiring… Read more »
ThurmanHart
Guest
7 years 1 month ago
Dr. J wrote: I’m struggling with your phrasing. You’re using a triple negative about what the government can stand back and let happen, in order to justify aggressive government intervention. There’s no double negative there, much less a triple negative. What you’re struggling with is your ideology. It doesn’t fit with reality. Being rich doesn’t need to be incentivized. There are no incentives needed to make people want to escape poverty. This is otherwise known as “self-interest” and is the basis of all economic principles. The question isn’t what people will do on their own, it’s what they’ll do when… Read more »
Dr J
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Dr J
7 years 1 month ago
There’s no double negative there, much less a triple negative. Sure there is: “Nor does it have to do anything to make people not want to be poor.” And you didn’t address my point. If you’re advocating taxing the rich aggressively, you’re advocating an active disincentive for them to work hard. There are no incentives on the table. Unless, of course, you consider forbearing from seizing their assets a gift you bestow. Show me where illiterate farmers exist in America. 100 or 1000 years ago we had plenty, and there are still plenty in other parts of the world. What… Read more »
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