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TAX THE RICH!

Sam Harris is bemused: he made the simple, obvious statement that the US needs to tax the rich more, and furious readers of his blog stomped off in a huff. He has discovered an easy way to chase away readers!

I fear it won’t work as well here, since my anti-libertarian views are already well known, but I agree entirely with his suggestion “that taxes should be raised on billionaires.” I’d go a bit further — raise them on millionaires, too. Raise them on people making over $100,000 a year, while you’re at it (that comes close to me, too, since we have a two-income family).

But Harris has doubled down. Now he’s pissed off the Randroids.

As someone who has written and spoken at length about how we might develop a truly “objective” morality, I am often told by followers of Rand that their beloved guru accomplished this task long ago. The result was Objectivism—a view that makes a religious fetish of selfishness and disposes of altruism and compassion as character flaws. If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded. And Rand’s attempt to make literature out of this awful philosophy produced some commensurately terrible writing. Even in high school, I found that my copies of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged simply would not open.

This could get interesting, if only Harris allowed comments on his blog — I believe he has just pushed the button on the foreheads of the True Libertarians labeled “Frappé” and we can expect some delicious brain smoothies to be dispensed out of their ears any moment now.

The real question, though, is why Americans are so adamantly opposed to sensible taxation — it’s completely irrational and damaging. I blame the attitude that we see expressed by capitalist extremists and that is so well represented by the Prosperity Gospel. It’s a nicely circular tautology: wealth comes to those who deserve it most. How do we know that? Because the rich are wealthy. It leads to the ideas that warp our country and poison our economies, that the rich deserve their money, and it would therefore be unfair to punish them with taxes for their success, while the poor are clearly lazy parasites (because they aren’t rich!) and therefore deserve to be squeezed and punished further. The idea that a poor person might deserve security and stability and a living wage with reasonable work hours simply because they are humans and fellow citizens is alien to people who think like that — poverty is bad and only comes to bad people.

Comments

  1. says

    Well educated teachers from Poland would rather be waiters in England, doctors leave the economy that trained them to work in other EU countries.

    that’s one well placed red herring.

    no one was fleeing poland because the taxes were too high, moron.

  2. Seymour Brighton says

    Ahahahaha someone bit.

    Thanks reverend. I moved your hand to type. I’m the puppet-master!!! Muahahah…

    Because a door left open will always be walked through in these parts.

  3. The Rat King says

    Libertarians always strike me as the perfect slaves; let them think they have all their ‘freedoms’ and force them to work for $3 an hour.

    And they would work for $3 an hour because with no laws governing their beloved corporations, that is all they’d pay, and if they didn’t work themselves to death to get it they’d be fired and left to die in the gutter.

    You know; the Libertarian way.

  4. Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM says

    And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    Cry me a fucking river. I am upset that my taxes are used in various unethical wars and killing people that I have no dire to be dead.

  5. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    What killfile?

    Comment by Seymour Brighton blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

  6. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Thanks reverend. I moved your hand to type. I’m the puppet-master!!! Muahahah…

    Bored now. For the second time…
    Comment by Seymour Brighton blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

  7. SallyStrange says

    I just want all you motherfuckers to leave my money, my sexual preferences, and my religious beliefs alone. And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    What the fuck is this nonsense. What do people even mean by this phrase, “I don’t want to pay to support yours.” My what? My sexual preferences? I assure you, you’ll be happy to pay to support my preference for fucking without making babies. Otherwise you’ll end up paying for the babies. There’s this little problem of us living in the same society together. Unless of course you’re advocating letting my hypothetical children starve in the street.

    I won’t even get into the nonsense inherent in “I don’t want to pay to support your money.” And you already do pay to support the religious preferences of other people, mostly Christians by demographic, but pretty much everyone except atheists, thanks to the exemption on property tax for religious organizations.

    What a bunch of nonsensical blather.

  8. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    The Democrats are to be blamed for this. The Republicans are doing what they can, take hostages knowing that Obama will cave in. They do and he does.

    that’s rich.

    Place all the blame on the Dems for not having enough spine to stop the evil actions of the repubs.

    I could make parallels but they would be perceived as too harsh.

  9. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Chris #464

    Who here has an econ or political science degree?

    Or at least is a major in one of them?

    PZ, when he talks about politics or ecnomics sounds like the guys from uncommon decent when they talk about evolution.

    I’ve got a master’s degree in economics* and over 30 years experience in the field in both government and private enterprise. What’s your question?

    *I got my MA at a university whose name I am forbidden to mention because some people are jealous of folks who went to Harvard the school Walton is going to.

  10. Seymour Brighton says

    Mr Fire: re: Wafer Thin Mint

    I LOL’d… haven’t watched that in years.

    But if anyone’s waiting for that to happen they’ll be disappointed. My head already exploded halfway up the page.

    I’m clearly just sitting here now in a rapidly emptying restaurant with a few remaining nauseated people.

  11. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Thanks reverend. I moved your hand to type. I’m the puppet-master!!! Muahahah…

    Don’t pat yourself on the back dumbass. That was transparent.

  12. says

    And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    fine. get off my roads stop breathing my air and drinking my water which are being kept breathable and cleanable by my taxes, swear you’ll never hire or be hired by anyone who received a public education, pay your share of the value of the herd immunity provided by (near) universal free vaccination, don’t ever use the police, fire-department (and also: re-pay them for the increases of your property value incurred by being in a “safe” neighborhood), don’t ever eat food inspected by the FDA, don’t ever take drugs approved by same, etc.

    go fucking live in some hellhole that doesn’t have a government instead of trying to turn the US into one at the expense of everyone in it.

  13. Seymour Brighton says

    Yeah, but I’ll bet you still “Show Comment” because the killfile is for MY benefit, not yours. You still wanna know what I have to say so you can throw the KillFile message at me in response.

  14. Tim DeLaney says

    Let’s look at two extremes of great wealth.

    Albert is the sole owner of a successful widget manufacturing business which shows a profit of $1 billion a year. Albert takes the entire $1 billion each year as income and spends it all on creature comforts. He has a 150 foot yacht with a staff of 100 catering to his every need. He owns a Boeing 707 used solely for his own pleasure, and employs another 50 people to keep it flying. He owns a private golf course where only he and his close friends play–another 30 jobs. He has 12 opulent residences worldwide, each with a staff of ten people whose sole mission in life is to make him comfortable. All in all, he employs 300 people.

    His brother, Bobby, also owns a successful widget manufacturing business which shows a profit of $1 billion a year. Unlike Albert, Bobby takes $999.8 million of his profits and plows it back into the business. Bobby lives a relatively spartan life on the remaining $200,000. Now, $200,000 is nothing to sneeze at, and most readers of Pharyngula would feel that Bobby lives pretty comfortably. But because Bobby is an astute manager, his business continues to grow, and to create productive employment for a about 300 additional people every year.

    Clearly, Albert’s lifestyle, although it generates 300 jobs, is parasitic. The 300 jobs that he creates produce nothing of value for society at large. Those jobs are solely dedicated to his own comfort. On the other hand, Bobby creates 300 jobs, and those employees manufacture even more widgets that society at large can use to its benefit.

    A tax policy that treats Albert and Bobby similarly is not optimal. If we tax Albert, say, $950 million per year, he will have to cut back on the amount of wealth that he personally consumes. If we tax Bobby $950 million per year, society at large will be deprived of the widgets that 285 employees might have produced. But those 285 people were never hired because we decided to eat the seed corn that Bobby had produced.

    I think it’s clear that taxing Albert has a much different impact on society than taxing Bobby. It seems to me that we ought to tax the wealthy in proportion to how much they consume, rather than how much they produce. I have no problem taxing Albert heavily, but I think it’s counter-productive to tax Bobby heavily.

    It would not be difficult to construct a tax system that would preferentially tax high consumption at a high rate.

  15. Eddy Spillane says

    Well, I’ve just come into this, and I think Seymour has left now. But I can definitely say you guys are the trolls and not Seymour. And I say that as a totally un-biased witness.

  16. says

    Jadehawk:

    fine. get off my roads stop breathing my air and drinking my water which are being kept breathable and cleanable by my taxes, swear you’ll never hire or be hired by anyone who received a public education, pay your share of the value of the herd immunity provided by (near) universal free vaccination, don’t ever use the police, fire-department (and also: re-pay them for the increases of your property value incurred by being in a “safe” neighborhood), don’t ever eat food inspected by the FDA, don’t ever take drugs approved by same, etc.

    go fucking live in some hellhole that doesn’t have a government instead of trying to turn the US into one at the expense of everyone in it.

    Quoted for fucking truth, in bold.

    Read, moron, read. Try to comprehend.

  17. says

    Eddy:

    And I say that as a totally un-biased witness.

    Uh huh. We’re years long regulars here, but we’re the trolls, eh? I smell polly esther.

    Comment by Eddy Spillane blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

  18. Mr Soc Pupet says

    Now, now… I don’t think that’s fair to say. Seymour was definitely not texatheist, but Seymour MIGHT be Eddy. You just never know! Myself, I prefer to stay out of these things and stay ON MESSAGE.

    So, cunt’s a bad word, huh?

  19. says

    Thanks, guys – apologies for the whinge; been a bit thin skined lately.

    As a govt employee, I get to see where taxes go, and I have no issues with raising taxes, even for myself.

  20. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Chris #495

    To our economist “‘Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres” who couldn’t find an example of the skilled and wealthy leaving or quitting their prestigious or more beneficial to society jobs you only have to go to the former communist countries.

    Well educated teachers from Poland would rather be waiters in England, doctors leave the economy that trained them to work in other EU countries.

    People are and were leaving Poland and other former Warsaw Pact countries for reasons other than high taxes. If you do say taxes were the reason, you’re either incredibly misinformed or you’re going into strawman territory.

    <ignoring most of the rant>

    It’s far better to stimulate the economy by breaking a window so the window maker has work and inflating the dollar to no end?

    The Broken Window Fallacy is a fallacy.

    I just want all you motherfuckers to leave my money, my sexual preferences, and my religious beliefs alone. And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    Another fucking looneytarian, thinking he can squat in our country and not pay for all the services he wants and expects. Exhibit A for the looneytarian motto: I got mine, fuck you!

  21. Mr. Fire says

    I read through the thread, but I’m only really going to search the people I recognize, there’s a lot of Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Pulitzer Prize winners I haven’t read I’m not going to sit and read 450 comments of a post by a misinformed biologist.

    Unparseable crap.

    I’m also familiar with the idiocy that occurs in these comments. Pharyngula is the place to find a 90% troll rate.

    You’re not that prolific.

    Oh, you were trying to deploy humor.

    *golfclap*

    That’s not to say I don’t think it’s not engaging to argue against European style social democracy, it’s just silly to do it here.

    So why do you then proceed to do it a few paragraphs further down? Are you a goldfish?

    Inverted Gish Galloping is all that happens here.

    We forgo jumping between various disparate topics and instead stick to one point? Because that’s what an ‘inversion’ of Gish Galloping would be.

    In any case, do you have examples?

    Well educated teachers from Poland would rather be waiters in England, doctors leave the economy that trained them to work in other EU countries.

    So…what? Western Europe is richer than former Communist Europe and offers better quality of life (for now). News at 11. What’s your fucking point?

    end the tradition of employers paying for health insurance so those companies have to compete like my car insurance company does

    Easy as that, huh?

    The McCarran-Ferguson Act says you’re a naive sucker.

    It’s far better to stimulate the economy by breaking a window so the window maker has work and inflating the dollar to no end?

    Simple-minded Austrian Economists like you get used by ‘Tis Himself as floss to remove more worthy trolls from his teeth.

    I just want all you motherfuckers to leave my money, my sexual preferences, and my religious beliefs alone. And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    Always with the goddamned stream-of-consciousness non-sequiturs.

    And anyway…huh?

    Presumably the corollary is you don’t want us to pay to support yours either, right?

    But if I don’t leave yours alone, no-one will be there to support you…

  22. says

    Tielserrath:

    Thanks, guys – apologies for the whinge; been a bit thin skined lately.

    You have nothing to apologize for at all. What Harris did was flat out wrong, and it does harm. There’s every reason for calling out such egregious behaviour and writing and putting a face on the harm done.

    I just didn’t want you thinking that everyone ‘looks at you funny’, because you’re a valuable and welcome person here.

  23. Alexander the Good Enough says

    It’s past bedtime and I’ve not had the chance to peruse the comments, my apologies, but I believe the following might be germane.

    Some biologists (!) at our host’s very own University of Minnesota have recently released a study that shows mathematically why the rich keep getting richer. http://tinyurl.com/3ugs3tw The implications are astonishing and profound. One of them is why it is arguably fair, necessary and no doubt in everyone’s, including the wealthy’s, best interest to reasonably redistribute and reinvest wealth society wide. It’s not “Tax & Spend,” it’s “Tax & Reinvest.” Look at history. The best investment the wealthy ever made (for themselves, even!) in all of human history was in the US middle class and US infrastructure in the mid-20th Century, when marginal tax rates often bordered on confiscatory. These days, however, our politicians can’t imagine embarking on an investment comparable to the Interstate Highway System, let alone doing what really needs to be done to improve things.

    Everyone NEEDS to read that study (press release, actually), consider its implications, listen to the Oracle of Omaha and then do what needs to be done! I wish.

    To bed.

  24. Skye Eltham says

    Maybe he’ll come back every day under a new name using different proxies just to piss you off, Jadehawk?

    Or maybe he had a Saturday afternoon to kill and wondered what the most easily provoked bunch of people on the internet were currently arguing about and decided to have some fun?

    Either way, you can’t possibly feel any smug sense of satisfaction over someone who quite clearly is mentally disturbed? Can you?

  25. amphiox says

    I just want all you motherfuckers to leave my money, my sexual preferences, and my religious beliefs alone.

    Good. You’ll be voting democrat, then, I gather? As the republicans do the exact opposite of all of the above.

    (Assuming you’re American. Of course if you aren’t the above statement makes no sense in context anyways.)

  26. Cwayne says

    To Audrey: I really understand and empathize with your comment but I truly did not read Harris that way.

  27. SallyStrange says

    Thanks, guys – apologies for the whinge; been a bit thin skined lately.

    Hardly a whinge, a righteous expression of pain and anger! No need to apologize, it needed to be said.

    As a govt employee, I get to see where taxes go, and I have no issues with raising taxes, even for myself.

    Seconded. Well, I’m not employed at the moment, but I did enjoy my year of working for the state. Some of the employees were goofballs, some were assholes who rose to their level of incompetency, and some were hopelessly mired in cynicism, but the majority in my (obviously limited) experience were competent and well-meaning.

  28. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Thanks, guys – apologies for the whinge; been a bit thin skined lately.

    You’ve got nothing to apologize for, tielserrath. Bigotry gets us all down from time to time. And not to sound callous, but it’s good for everybody if you post honestly when you are hurt (ditto to everyone who is hurt by bigotry), because then no one can pretend we’re being oversensitive to problems that aren’t important or don’t exist. Don’t be sad.

  29. says

    Chris:

    I just want all you motherfuckers to leave my money, my sexual preferences, and my religious beliefs alone. And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    Sugarbrain, you are the motherfucker. Do you think that all people have basic rights when it comes to sexual preference? (If you do, what planet are you living on?) As for religious belief, believe whatever the fuck you want. Are you all manner of happy that whatever taxes you do pay go in large part to support churches and religious organizations, which are exempt from taxes? As for your money, well, Cupcake, that’s yours to handle in however you see fit.

    You don’t want to pay, for anyone? Okay then. That includes yourself. Please be sure to remove yourself from anyplace which provides tax-paid services. You won’t be missed, Sugarbrain, and no one will care about you or your money.

  30. amphiox says

    The libertarian dream:

    To be the very last to starve when the society they parasite off but refuse to contribute to finally collapses around them.

    Or to be the very first to be lynched when the torch-wielding mob they’ve been screwing over finally can take no more.

  31. Seymour Brighton says

    Mother-fucker is offensive to anyone who fucks mothers. I’m offended. You’re a bad person! Yada yada…

  32. Classical Cipher, OM says

    And I don’t want to have to pay to support yours.

    Your sad desire to live in a fantasyland instead of reality is noted. Meanwhile, we have an actual political situation to deal with, and the situation is urgent. Anything to offer in, like, the real world? Otherwise, really, get out of the way.

  33. SallyStrange says

    As a skeptic and a scientist, there are very few things in life about which I have a high degree of certainty. Among those rare things are, first, that god/gods are works of fiction. Second, that libertarian policy proposals are works of fiction.

  34. SallyStrange says

    Mother-fucker is offensive to anyone who fucks mothers. I’m offended.

    I feel bad for Seymour’s mother.

  35. says

    Maybe he’ll come back every day under a new name using different proxies just to piss you off, Jadehawk?

    *shrug* knock yourself out. I won’t be seeing those posts, since they would be deleted before I got a chance to read them most likely, but if you feel that’s the most productive way to spend your time…

  36. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I feel bad for Seymour’s mother.

    Don’t worry, dear. She hardly feels it.

  37. Super Shala says

    Who gives a shit if your teeth rot? Gee, you didn’t brush enough or something! Same with eyes. My glasses aren’t covered and they cost serious money, which would be why I’m not wearing them right now.

    Pre-existing conditions are pretty fun too. Oh, oh, and when someone’s deductible is something ridiculous like $10,000 per calendar year! A lot of hearing exams also aren’t covered unless you’re young as well.

  38. Seymour Brighton says

    I don’t have a mother. I was built in a lab by the same person who invented comment boxes.

  39. Chris says

    @539

    You get the idiot award.

    “You don’t want to pay, for anyone? Okay then. That includes yourself.”

    I do think we should take of you though, certainly there should be a social safety net for people like you.

    I believe in Federalism and sound economics and a discussion that makes sense.

    Here you guys just have a monkey orgy. Go to cafehayek.com and at least there there are social liberals that have real conversions, here I’m going to fight fire with fire.

    We could probably fuel the country for decades with the idiocy and flaming that happens here.

    This is where pop blogging has got us, PZ runs the Backstreet Boys of blogs it seems.

    Have fun voting for rent control, minimum wage and government redistribution in an always less than efficient manner.

    Later losers. See you on a thread where we agree but you’re still making fools of yourselves.

    By the way how many of you have used up your 99 weeks of feeling sorry for yourselves? Did you get it? … No I didn’t think so.

    Have fun pretending you can get three hundred million people to agree what’s best for society.

  40. SallyStrange says

    The Backstreet Boys of blogs? Now that’s original. But I love Justin Timberlake! Are you dissing JT?

    Other than that, can’t make out much of Chris’ post. I can haz coherence plz?

  41. amphiox says

    So that’s the best flounce chris-boy can manage, eh?

    Clumsy, inelegant, poorly executed.

    A pathetic effort, all around.

  42. CWayne says

    Oh come on people.. please check a dictionary and stop upsetting yourself:
    Note the second definition. Not number 1. Number 2!!
    Autism:
    1.
    Psychiatry . a pervasive developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment.
    2.
    a tendency to view life in terms of one’s own needs and desires.

  43. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Oh come on people.. please check a dictionary and stop upsetting yourself:
    Note the second definition. Not number 1. Number 2!!

    I’m starting to lose my patience with you fucking morons. When are you going to figure out that even if we take your supremely gullible charitable interpretation of Harris’s intent as correct, it doesn’t fucking matter? The first definition is far more widely known, and the incredibly flawed and harmful notion that autistic people are incapable of empathy is widely promulgated. Using this word in this way is harmful. You really need to get your head out of your ass.

  44. Chris says

    I play your games boys, and when I get responses like:

    “That’s the best you can do?” “I can’t make out your post”

    I know I’m at a party taken from the pages of The Great Gatsby.

    Rock on majority uneducated unemployed! (yeah I can tell most of you don’t have jobs, or real jobs anyway)

    And continue pretending your part of the intellectual elite because you read a lot of Pharyngula and watch a lot of Bill Maher.

  45. Seymour Brighton says

    Yeah, yeah!!!

    And … AND… *I* was ALSO using the second definition of CUNT- the nice one!

  46. Rey Fox says

    Jeez, not only the Argument from the Dictionary, but the second definition in the dictionary?

    We need better trolls.

  47. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Chris @ 549:

    Go to cafehayek.com…

    Snerk! Austrian School Economics : Economics :: Dianetics : Psychology.

  48. AmVik says

    Does anybody remember when libertarians used to defend the merits of their positions?

    Me neither.

  49. SallyStrange says

    (yeah I can tell most of you don’t have jobs, or real jobs anyway)

    With as enough unemployed people to populate a midsize European nation, this really fails as an insult, you know.

    And why are so many people unemployed? Oh yes, because Alan Greenspan was allowed to have too much influence on the economy. He cut the tax rates, the way libertarians would have us do. What happened? The rich kept their money and the economy floundered.

    Yep, this is one of the worst insults I’ve heard in a while… and that’s saying something.

    By the way Chris, if you really want to “play our game,” then first try acknowledging that we’re not all male here. Then, provide some facts and evidence to back up your opinion. So no, so far you haven’t played the game at all. Just a lot of unevidenced assertions interspersed with barely comprehensible floundering. It’s not our fault if you suck at communicating your ideas.

  50. Cwayne says

    Is it really too much to expect people to feel responsible for educating themselves in this, of all, countries?
    If most people are ignorant, should all of us follow them?

  51. Skye Eltham says

    Chris, you need to swear at them more and stand on a few more landmines. But nice work, so far :D I wouldn’t say you’ve almost penetrated their bubble, but you’re making some headway on understanding the odd social game happening in this place..

  52. Noah the epistemic pinata says

    chris says:

    It’s far better to stimulate the economy by breaking a window so the window maker has work and inflating the dollar to no end?

    Are you one of those guys that can’t resist commenting every time Paul Krugman posts to his blog? “I don’t understand Keynes but you are wrong because broken window, broken window, broken window!”

    I apologize if I misread you, but the world of economics is slightly more nuanced than parables from the 1800s: crowding out is important to better understanding “broken windows”; employment is a variable; and externalities exist.

    Besides, the “smash the windows” concept is a strawman of Keynesian economics. That is, of course, not what Keynes is really all about.

  53. AmVik says

    Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    Build a man a fire, keep him warm for a night. Set a man on fire, keep him warm the rest of his life.

  54. bootsy says

    Excuse me when I break in and say that plenty of these “libertarian” commenters (who are supposedly not rich) are actually paid trolls, paid in fact by places like Koch brothers’ institutions and the American Enterprise Institute.

    How do I know this? Because I work for a place like that (doing a different function), but I did hear co-workers say that they were being paid to leave comments on message boards.

    Certainly PZ has a high-traffic blog, and he certainly has a high visibility. And to me these particular commenters have a real paid-troll feel: they relentlessly repeat what they see as a devastating point because that is what they were told to say — they want someone to find that phrase. And they refuse to engage with anyone else’s point except as a way to restate that directed phrase.

  55. says

    Chris:

    I play your games boys

    Oh, the old, boring “we’re all boys here” idiocy. Try again, idiot.

    Cwayne:

    Is it really too much to expect people to feel responsible for educating themselves in this

    Oh the irony. Is it really too much to expect you to educate yourself or possibly listen to others about this subject? Seems you’re determined to be an idiot.

    There’s a highly accomplished and compassionate person who posted in this thread who happens to be autistic. She was hurt and harmed by Harris’s douchebaggery. Stop trying to pretend that it’s a matter of “he meant this!” along with “gosh, I haz a dictionary!” So do we, idiot, and it’s quite apparent what Harris meant when he wrote autistic. He’s yet another asshole who doesn’t give a shit about actual people and there is no defending what he did.

    The only people who defend his use of autistic are the same type of douchebag as Harris. You can take your idiocy and douchebaggery and stuff it, Sweetcheeks, along with this decaying porcupine.

  56. tim Rowledge says

    Harking back a few hundred comments, I see the old “but the top 5% pay 80% of taxes, waaaah!” claim. Let’s stipulate that it is true, just for the sake of argument (though I bet someone here knows where to find out the actual figures).
    Just how much of the *income and wealth* do these people have? I have a suspicion that it may be more than 80% and similarly I bet someone here knows exactly how to find out. I’m too sleepy to even try to work it out right now. And how about the top 1%? Top 0.1%?

    Also way back in the list was a wail of “is it fair to expect someone to pay more just because they can?” Well, isn’t that one of the cornerstones of capitalism and ‘free markets’ – trying to get as much as possible out of your customers? Shouldn’t libertarians laud governments that try to squeeze maximum value out of rich people?

  57. Noah the epistemic pinata says

    texatheist says:

    [Some stuff about not splitting the tab] […] [Some stuff about paying extra] […] [Some stuff about dinner] […]

    This “how much do you pay for dinner with your friends” analogy makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Sure, as a doctoral student with years of work behind me, I pick up the tab for undergraduate friends. But this has absolutely nothing to do with state level economics. The government is not a patron, a restaurant, or even a business. It does provide services, infrastructure, and insurance, but nothing analogous to cheeseburger-type goods.

    While we’re at it, balancing government debt is not the same as balancing a household budget. This comparison is also ridiculous. Government debt and the deficit are not the same thing; and neither of them are analogous to the figures attached to your credit card.

    Anyway, if you really don’t understand why a progressive tax rate is more fair, you could try some research. Why not just buy a copy of McConnell& Brue or Mankiw to get started? There are plenty of used copies lying around.

    Off the top of my head, some arguments for progressive taxation include:

    (1) The combination of marginal utility and marginal propensity to consume. This is by itself a good enough reason to advocate progressive taxes. Honestly, if you seriously consider marginal propensity to consume, you’ll see that your tax idea is really a regressive tax that hits the poor harder than it should.

    (2) Studies routinely show that people are happier with progressive taxes. They are also safer, live longer, and are better-educated.

    (3) Wealthier people generally benefit more from government: while the government is not a cheeseburger factory, it does protect property and wealth similar to an insurance policy. It therefore makes sense for people with more… to pay more to protect their property and standard of living.

    (4) The poorer folks pay out the nose for sales tax, poor tax, and other fees. If we set federal tax rates to what they can pay (close to nothing), the federal government will have no money.

  58. laurentweppe says

    How amusing: An ethnocentric writter (I’m being polite here) is surprised that a noticeable part of his readership was composed of right-wing rent fetichists who don’t like the idea to tax the rich more because they fantasise themselves as part of the upper-class: precisely the kind of people who, are -surprise surprise- the most likely to like ethocentrism. In other knews, gravity is still perfectly functionning.

  59. David says

    I don’t know if its been pointed out I stopped reading the thread around 150 or so but…

    The poor pay FAR FAR more of their income in taxes than the rich, yeah I know its not “federal income taxes” but that means nothing The simple fact is the poor pay a much larger percent of their total income in taxes than the wealthy do.

    The rich get the vast majority of the benefits from those taxes. The highway system, the military, and pretty much all public buildings and large projects are mostly for the rich.

    The police do not protect the poor In order to survive most poor people need to break laws, i’m not talking about drug dealing either i’m just talking about car insurance and car maintenance.

    I agree that everyone should pay their “fair” share, of course if you own 76.5% of the wealth of a nation you should pay for 76.5% of the costs to run the place.

    Here is a fun fact though if you took EVERYTHING the bottom 50% of the population owned away and sold it at retail value and took every penny they had as well it would come to about 1.6 trillion barely enough to make a dent in the deficit. If you did the same with the top 5% and gave them all back half of what was taken they would all still be super wealthy and we would have a huge surplus.

  60. Desert Froglet says

    Skye Eltham = Seymour Brighton. From Melbourne, yet demonstrating a lamentable lack of imagination.

  61. chimpsez says

    Apparently Murdoch and all his enterprises pay 8% tax worldwide.As a self employed British person it’s 20% at source.No more to be said.

  62. Bookworm says

    The Seymour idiot (pun intended) mentioned somewhere above that he was from Melbourne, and Seymour was a Melbourne suburb. It’s not; it’s a separate city. He couldn’t even get that bit of invention right. On the tax issue, I’m more than happy to pay more, the more I earn. I do like having access to health care and schools and infrastructure and stuff, and, surprisingly, they’re not magicked into existence. Question, slightly OT: I did my postgrad work with a bunch of USains, and when they went back to the states some were unemployed for a time or in low paying work, and I recall their despair at being unable to go to a doctor for health problems or for preventative health because of the cost. I live in a smallish place in Australia and can find a dozen surgeries within five miles that bulk-bill (no cost at all to the patient regardless of income). When I read of the dental problems above, for example, or listen to my American friends, my first response is ‘That’s not fair’. I’m confused about the healthcare debates that you’ve all been having on your side of the pond, although that’s obviously a separate issue, but if I need to be taxed at a higher rate with more income, and if this revenue goes to keeping me and my family away from preventable health issues, as only one example, then way to go. Tex didn’t grasp that taxation is not just about money.

  63. Aquaria says

    Chris, you need to swear at them more and stand on a few more landmines. But nice work, so far :D I wouldn’t say you’ve almost penetrated their bubble, but you’re making some headway on understanding the odd social game happening in this place..

    Having single payer health care would insure that you get your regular doses of Haldol, you know.

    The Backstreet Boys of blogs? Now that’s original. But I love Justin Timberlake! Are you dissing JT?

    I hate to disappoint you, but, as a parent of a teenager during the heyday of boy bands, I can assure you that JT was in N’Sync, not the Backstreet Boys.

  64. madtom1999 says

    Dont wanna pay tax? OK. When the city fails – you’re on your own.
    Oh look the city just tanked without taxpayers support. You used to own 76.5% of several hundred trillion which has just disappeared and that man with the knife in front of you who used to be your bodyguard to replace the police you didn’t want to pay for now sees you as not an income source but food.

  65. maureen.brian says

    Tielserrath,

    I’m sorry you were hurt both by the ignorance of Harris and the careless attempts of others to explain it away.

    I know, as do others who are regulars, how much you contribute here. So I just wanted to say “love and hugs” or whatever way you would want it expressed. I’d back you in a fight with these idiots any day!

    ________

    I did try to be my usual scrupulous self and read every comment before I posted. I just gave up on that because the platoons of self-satisfied, self-aggrandising, economically illiterate swallowers of lies and propaganda had become a vast ugly blur.

    All I was going to get from reading them was another stroke and I’m far too busy for that. If I missed any gems then I apologise.

  66. rumleech says

    “Objectivism is basically autism rebranded” I’m going to get that put onto a tee-shirt,

  67. Therrin says

    And continue pretending your part of the intellectual elite

    What about my part? Don’t leave me in suspents!

  68. Slaughter Cutlet says

    Who ever said I wanted to be imaginative with my fake names when I fucking troll the shit out of morons I don’t care for?

    And fuck you, Seymour is part of Victoria, and that’s all the matters. So what if I got the details wrong. Does it matter to you THAT MUCH?

    By the way, on the topic of mysoginy, Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist has shown that it’s OK to be a mysogynist as long as you don’t AIR your bad words in public – so the feminists have nothing to say:

    “While watching that, I had all kinds of nasty words running through my mind to describe the female panelist… but I won’t mention them here. Because that wouldn’t be very nice. And the feminists would slaughter me.”

    He JUST WROTE THAT.

    So you can THINK bad things about women, as long as you don’t SAY it.

    Now, I LOVE women, I hate men. I think they’re all stinking bastards. Women are smarter, better looking, more capable of organising things (like entire countries). They’re basically more rational. I want you to really understand this point.

    So when I call someone a CUNT, I’m usually thinking of a very BAD MAN.

    I never think of women.

    Just like a woman can be a fucking dickhead, and I don’t get offended when someone calls her that.

  69. says

    But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: ‘Your money, or your life.’ And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a ‘protector,’ and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to ‘protect’ those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful ‘sovereign,’ on account of the ‘protection’ he affords you. He does not keep ‘protecting’ you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

  70. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    No way PZ’s houshold makes less than 100k/year.

    Why do you think that? PZ has listed his salary, and if the Trophy Wife makes less than he does, which is likely, it would be a true statement.

  71. Atticus Dobsbody says

    And fuck you, Seymour is part of Victoria

    Fuck you with a ballpeen hammer, you said that Seymour was part of Melbourne, Seymour is not part of Melbourne, it’s 100km away.

    Oh, and when I hear some bloke spouting the word “cunt” I usually, and quite reasonably, start thinking “What a misogynistic, shit-eating dickwad.”

    Fuck you very much, have a nice day… or evening if you are from Melbourne, but that’s debatable given that you think Seymour is part of Melbourne.

  72. says

    Now, I LOVE women, I hate men. I think they’re all stinking bastards. Women are smarter, better looking, more capable of organising things (like entire countries). They’re basically more rational.

    no they aren’t. humans aren’t nearly that dimorphic, so that there’s greater variation within a sex than between them. You’re a fucking idiot.

    So when I call someone a CUNT, I’m usually thinking of a very BAD MAN.

    yep; nothing misogynist about the equation vagina = very bad man

  73. Jafafa Hots says

    You get the idiot award.

    You accidentally left the apostrophe s out of “idiot’s.”

  74. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity, so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates. Milton Friedman promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman’s ideas and made them into policy.

    For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics with the tax cuts sponsored by George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which Obama agreed to continue for two years.

    You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would have been settled after three decades. You would think the economists would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict. But economics isn’t like that. It’s not like physics with its laws or arithmetic with its absolute values.

    Tax policy is something the Constitution leaves to politics. And in politics, the facts often matter less then who has the biggest bullhorn. The folks who once ran campaigns featuring doctors extolling the health benefits of smoking are now busy marketing the dogma that tax cuts mean broad prosperity, no matter what the facts show.

    Gretchen Carlson of Fox News claimed “47 percent of Americans don’t pay any taxes.” John McCain and Sarah Palin both said similar things during the 2008 campaign about the bottom half of Americans. Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House spokesman, once said, “50 percent of the country gets benefits without paying for them.”

    Actually, they pay lots of taxes, just not lots of federal income taxes.

    Data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy show that in 2008 the average income for the bottom third of taxpayers was $15,300. This year the first $9,350 of income is exempt from taxes for singles and $18,700 for married couples. That means millions of the poor do not make enough to owe income taxes. But they still pay plenty of other taxes, including federal payroll taxes. Between gas taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes and other taxes, no one lives tax free in America.

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

    Rand Paul, the Teabagger Senator from Kentucky, said recently that “the wealthy do pay most of the taxes in this country.” The Internet is awash with statements that the top 1% pay more than 40%.

    It’s true that the top 1% of wage earners paid 38% of federal income taxes in 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available). But people forget that income tax is less than half of federal taxes and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government. Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90% of wage earners. That’s because once you reach $106,800 of income, you pay no more for Social Security, though the much smaller Medicare tax applies to all wages. Warren Buffett pays the exact same amount of Social Security taxes as someone who earns $106,800.

    The IRS issues an annual report on the 400 highest income tax payers. In 1961, there were 398 taxpayers who made $1 million or more, so I compared their income tax burdens from that year to 2008. Despite skyrocketing incomes, the federal tax burden on the richest 400 has been slashed, thanks to a variety of loopholes, allowable deductions and other tools. The actual share of their income paid in taxes, according to the IRS, is 16.6%. Adding payroll taxes barely nudges that number. Compare that to the vast majority of Americans, whose share of their income going to federal taxes increased from 13.1% in 1961 to 22.5% in 2008.

    By the way, during seven of the eight Bush years, the IRS report on the top 400 taxpayers was labeled a state secret, a policy which the Obama administration overturned almost immediately after his inauguration.

    The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and similar conservative marketing organizations tell us relentlessly that lower tax rates will make us all better off. “When tax rates are reduced, the economy’s growth rate improves and living standards increase,” according to Daniel Mitchell, a Cato economist. He says that supply-side economics is “the simple notion that lower tax rates will boost work, saving, investment and entrepreneurship.”

    When Reagan was elected president, the top marginal tax rate (that’s the rate at which one’s tax liability increases as one’s income increases) for income was 70%. He cut it to 50% and then 28% in 1987. It was raised by George H.W. Bush and Clinton and then cut by George W. Bush. The top rate is now 35%.

    Since 1980, when Reagan won election promising prosperity through tax cuts, the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans has increased a meager $303, or 1%. Put another way, for each dollar people in the vast majority made in 1980, in 2008 their income was up to $1.01.

    Those at the top did better. The top 1%’s average income more than doubled to $1.1 million. The really rich, the top 10th of 1%, each enjoyed almost $4 in 2008 for each dollar in 1980. The top 300,000 Americans now enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million.

    In 2009, President Obama pushed a tax cut for the working class. He persuaded Congress to enact the Making Work Pay Tax Credit. Over the two years 2009 and 2010, it saved single workers up to $800 and married heterosexual couples up to $1,600, even if only one spouse worked. The top 5% or so of taxpayers were denied this tax break.

    The Obama administration called it “the biggest middle-class tax cut” ever. Yet in December 2010 the Republicans, poised to regain control of the House of Representatives, killed Obama’s Making Work Pay Credit while extending the Bush tax cuts for two more years–a policy Obama agreed to. By doing so, Congressional Republicans increased taxes on a third of Americans, virtually all of them the working poor, this year. As a result, of the 155 million households in the tax system, 51 million will pay an average of $129 more this year. That is $6.6 billion in higher taxes for the working poor, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated.

    In addition, the Republicans changed the rate of workers’ FICA contributions, which finances half of Social Security. The result: If you are single and make less than $20,000, or married and less than $40,000, you lose under this plan. But the top 5%, people who make more than $106,800, will save $2,136 ($4,272 for two-career couples).

    Here is a question to ask yourself: We started down this road with Reagan in 1980 and upped the ante in this century with George W. Bush. How long does it take to conclude that a policy has failed to fulfill its promises?

    Note: All data are from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

  75. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    rumleech #578

    “Objectivism is basically autism rebranded” I’m going to get that put onto a tee-shirt,

    On the back you should have “I am a bigoted asshole!”

  76. Forbidden Snowflake says

    By the way, on the topic of mysoginy, Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist has shown that it’s OK to be a mysogynist as long as you don’t AIR your bad words in public – so the feminists have nothing to say:

    How is that stupid passive-agressive quote from Friendly Atheist supposed to make your case? Is it an argument from authority? Or what?

    Cutlet (cute word, kind of like ‘Cupcake’), you sound about 14.

  77. maureen.brian says

    That’s what I was going to say, Nigel. Bears repeating , though.

    ‘Tis Himself,

    I love you. I really really do.

    Btw, has anyone made even an estimate of how many extra jobs in the USA these cosseted rich folks have actually created with all that largesse?

  78. Carlie says

    How about this, let’s start by ending government subsidies to farmers and cut out corporate welfare completely, bring the troops home and end the tradition of employers paying for health insurance so those companies have to compete like my car insurance company does, keep taxes the way they are for the moment.

    Oh no wait the world will end. It’s far better to stimulate the economy by breaking a window so the window maker has work and inflating the dollar to no end?

    What the hell? Do you think we don’t want to do those things as well? We’ve been talking about a single point, a flat tax rate, in part because texatheist can’t get past his single sentence about a flat tax being “fair”.

    When are you going to figure out that even if we take your supremely gullible charitable interpretation of Harris’s intent as correct, it doesn’t fucking matter? The first definition is far more widely known, and the incredibly flawed and harmful notion that autistic people are incapable of empathy is widely promulgated. Using this word in this way is harmful. You really need to get your head out of your ass.

    Yep, this.

    Rock on majority uneducated unemployed! (yeah I can tell most of you don’t have jobs, or real jobs anyway)

    Define “real job”.

    No way PZ’s houshold makes less than 100k/year.

    Why not? Do you know what professors make? You know, you can look this stuff up. Average salary at his level at his campus is about 55k. Plenty of room to add his wife’s salary and still be below 100. And this is exactly in line with people in his profession in other states as well. This is part of the problem; people assume that there simply can’t be so many people who are making so little, when in fact the majority of people make so little.

    So when I call someone a CUNT, I’m usually thinking of a very BAD MAN.

    That makes no sense. I want you to really understand this point. Unless, that is, you think that woman = very bad man.

  79. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Thank you, Nigel and Maureen. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

  80. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    How long does it take to conclude that a policy has failed to fulfill its promises?

    For me, it was during the end of the Raygun presidency. We were on the wrong side of the Laffer curve.

  81. Carlie says

    rumleech #578

    “Objectivism is basically autism rebranded” I’m going to get that put onto a tee-shirt,

    On the back you should have “I am a bigoted asshole!”

    It already says that on the front. :)

  82. Atticus Dogsbody says

    Btw, has anyone made even an estimate of how many extra jobs in the USA these cosseted rich folks have actually created with all that largesse?

    Dunno. How many people are employed at Cato, AEI and the Heritage Foundation?

  83. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Btw, has anyone made even an estimate of how many extra jobs in the USA these cosseted rich folks have actually created with all that largesse?

    Not that I can find, but here’s something related.

    A corporate tax rate that is too low actually destroys jobs. That’s because a higher tax rate encourages companies to reinvest the profits in the business rather than pull them out as profits and have to pay taxes.

    The 2004 American Jobs Creation Act, which passed with bipartisan support, allowed more than 800 companies to bring profits that were untaxed but overseas back to the United States. Instead of paying the usual 35% tax, the companies paid just 5.25%. The companies said bringing the money home, “repatriating” it they called it, would mean lots of jobs. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) put the figure at 660,000 new jobs.

    Pfizer, the drug company, was the biggest beneficiary. It brought home $37 billion, saving $11 billion in taxes. Almost immediately it started firing people. Since the law took effect, Pfizer has let 40,000 workers go (including my daughter, which is how I know about this). In all, it appears that at least 100,000 jobs were destroyed.

  84. Dianne says

    Unfortunately, a good deal of “technological unemployment” would be the result unless some sensible government-enforced policies against this were enacted

    Demonstrably true. Unfortunately. It’s not like there is a lack of need for enjoyable jobs out there. We could easily still employ everyone even if we got rid of all the crappy jobs in the world. But we’d need more direction than the “invisible hand” to make it work. People would need to be retrained, counseled, possibly have some sort of program to figure out where they would be happiest and most productive.

    BTW, I hope I’m not giving you so much crap that you stop posting. I am giving you crap when I think your proposals don’t consider the consequences properly, but I like the way you think and hope you’ll stick around.

  85. Dianne says

    Well educated teachers from Poland would rather be waiters in England, doctors leave the economy that trained them to work in other EU countries.

    Poland’s tax rate is a 2 level progressive tax, 18% for lower 32% for higher income. I’m being lazy and not looking up the UK, but I’m pretty sure it’s higher.

    I visited Poland all of once and so this is, at best, minor anecdatum, but it struck me as the most “American” of all the European countries I’ve been to. I’m not quite sure why, just tossing the impression out there.

    I’m not sure whether I’d take a job in Poland or not. It’s a pretty country and fairly apparently peaceful, but the abortion laws are regressive, it doesn’t have the world’s best infrastructure, and I’m not sure how much money they’re putting into medicine. (Aqua: I’m looking for research funding, not more salary;) I’d certainly go to Germany or Scandinavia before Poland, if the option were open.

  86. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    I’m jumping on the ‘Tis bandwagon, here:
    ‘Tis, I ♥ you. I learn so much from your posts!

  87. Matt Penfold says

    UK Income Tax Rates:

    20% Income up to £35,000
    40% Income between £35,001 and £150,000
    50% Income over £150,001

    There is a special 10% rate for income from savings, for income up to £2,560

    Everyone gets a personal tax free allowance of £7,475 if there income is under £100,000. There are some other tax free allowances, mainly age related.

  88. SallyStrange says

    I hate to disappoint you, but, as a parent of a teenager during the heyday of boy bands, I can assure you that JT was in N’Sync, not the Backstreet Boys.

    Busted! I do sincerely like JT, especially since he started teaming up with Timbaland. But I never did listen to the boy bands. New Kids on the Block were more my era.

  89. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Sally:

    I do sincerely like JT, especially since he started teaming up with Timbaland.

    Ten years ago, I never thought I’d say this, but I love JT, too. Especially his work with The Lonely Island.

    Dick in a Box
    Mother Lover

  90. Mattir-ritated says

    The t-shirt should read “objectivism is just NARCISSISM rebranded” (or maybe “SOCIOPATHY rebranded”)- I agree about the problems with using autism as an insult, plus it’s inaccurate.

    Now I have to go contemplate the rest of this thread to annoy myself and distract from the looming hurricane…

  91. says

    Yes, I agree which is why I said he could have been more cognizant of his word choice, but our preconceptions aside, given that it does have different meanings I’ll give Harris the benefit of the doubt

    I might have given Harris the benefit of the doubt if he didn’t have such a rich history of stupidly spouting offensive stuff. He does, however; so I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.

  92. broboxley OT says

    America, the only country that stops collecting taxes once you pass a certain income level then wondered why the retirement fund is getting empty.

    I have no problem with revisiting the marginal income tax rates, only wish there was a rewrite to the tax code so there is no itemized deductions at all.

  93. says

    First Approximation (formerly Feynmaniac) linked to facts which cannot be disputed (see comments #235). Then he summarized, by percentage points, the changes in income from 1979 to 2007:

    … the bottom quintile’s after-tax income increased only 16%. The top quintile’s increased 95%, while the top 1%’s increased 281%!

    There’s no argument that can be made for the “fairness” of these facts. These facts alone defeat excuses (I won’t say “arguments” or “reasons,” but “excuses”) given by those in favor of flat taxes and/or in favor of less regulation and less taxation for the top quintile and for the top 1%.

    This bears repeating, from Sam Harris’s essay:

    Many of us have been extraordinarily lucky—and we did not earn it. Many good people have been extraordinarily unlucky—and they did not deserve it. And yet I get the distinct sense that if I asked some of my readers why they weren’t born with club feet, or orphaned before the age of five, they would not hesitate to take credit for these accomplishments. There is a stunning lack of insight into the unfolding of human events that passes for moral and economic wisdom in some circles. And it is pernicious. Followers of Rand, in particular, believe that only a blind reliance on market forces and the narrowest conception of self interest can steer us collectively toward the best civilization possible and that any attempt to impose wisdom or compassion from the top—no matter who is at the top and no matter what the need—is necessarily corrupting of the whole enterprise. This conviction is, at the very least, unproven. And there are many reasons to believe that it is dangerously wrong.

  94. says

    I was going through the comments – and trying to find what I wanted to say, just to make sure that I was not going to double up.

    Sure enough I found it, and I was amazingly pleased it was Skeptifem who said it.

    People who make 100,000 a year are nothing even close to rich. Even 200,000 a year. Even twice that. Even three times that.

    Maybe it seems like play money to you, but I assure you that it’s not. People are so ignorant. Even if you make 600,000 a year, you don’t own private jets, you don’t travel to only 5 star hotels, you don’t have servants, you don’t own a mansion. What you do have is prettier quality things that everyone else has, and you get to put your kids through college without borrowing. That’s about it. Yes, it’s nice but guess what?

    If you earn 600,000 a year, you didn’t get it from an inheritance. You got it by getting an advanced degree (Masters, usually) in finance/banking/accounting and are extremely good at your job, that you’ve worked DECADES at, to work your way up the ladder. You had to start at the bottom just like everyone else but have a slight leg up because you’re a bit smarter. But you’re not the CEO. You’re not a real power player. You just work under all those people with millions and billions of dollars, toiling away for them. You’re basically like a favorite slave that gets to play around in the harem as a bonus because you do a good job.

    Make no fucking mistake, 100,000-1 million/year isn’t rich.

  95. Dianne says

    Even if you make 600,000 a year, you don’t own private jets, you don’t travel to only 5 star hotels, you don’t have servants, you don’t own a mansion.

    That’s a pretty restricted definition of what it means to be “rich”. I consider people able to put their kids through college without loans, grants, or other aid to be rich. Actually, I consider everyone one or more standard deviations above median income to be rich. That doesn’t mean that they have unlimited wealth, but that they have more wealth and resources than average.

  96. says

    [i]That doesn’t mean that they have unlimited wealth, but that they have more wealth and resources than average.[/i]

    That doesn’t mean rich, though, does it? No. You just repeated what I already said. It’s more comfortable existence, but it isn’t this “Lives of the Rich and Famous” crap that people think it is. It isn’t. I’m tired of people just having no fucking idea and thinking it is because it seems like monopoly money to them because they scratch along at 30k a year.

  97. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Make no fucking mistake, 100,000-1 million/year isn’t rich.

    Make no mistake, you are out of touch with the rest of the world and you are part of the problem when you make statements like that.

  98. says

    That doesn’t mean that they have unlimited wealth, but that they have more wealth and resources than average.

    You basically just repeated what I already said in my comment. It isn’t rich.

    I’m so bored of people thinking anyone who makes 100,000-1,000,000/year lives some ridiculous “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” They do not and anyone who thinks so is just ignorant.

  99. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    That doesn’t mean rich, though, does it? No

    Yes! Anyone who isn’t living paycheck to paycheck (which over 80% of Americans do) is rich. There is a distinction between rich (which you call comfortable) and super-rich (which you call rich).

    I’m tired of people just having no fucking idea and thinking it is because it seems like monopoly money to them because they scratch along at 30k a year.

    I’m tired of people who pretend they know something about economics but actually don’t. You, jensketch, fall into this group.

  100. Matt Penfold says

    You basically just repeated what I already said in my comment. It isn’t rich.

    I’m so bored of people thinking anyone who makes 100,000-1,000,000/year lives some ridiculous “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” They do not and anyone who thinks so is just ignorant.

    Please quit this silly game. If you have nothing sensible to say, and it seems you haven’t, then say nothing.

  101. jensketch says

    Sorry for the doublepost reply, this comment system is slow and wonky and doesn’t work well with Chrome. I’d edit it or delete the second post if I could to keep it clean, but it won’t allow me to do that. I registered to perhaps help with that in the future.

    BigChimp – making broad sweeping personal (and ignorant) generalizations about someone just sort of exhibits what sort of person you are. Thanks for the heads up.

    Tis Himself – Again with the personal insults. How sad.

    So, I like Pharyngula a lot, he’s a smart guy – but the anonymous commenters are really rather trollish and infantile. Nice try though, but I fear I’m quite immune to trolls.

    I stick to my guns. 100k is not rich. I didn’t make the world we live in, I just live in it. If you don’t like your situation, change it. It’s not my problem. It’s up to you.

  102. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I stick to my guns. 100k is not rich.

    100K isn’t rich. But 800K is getting close. That is your problem with too wide a target. Personally, I would say anyone making 250K and up are rich. But then, I don’t make even half that. They aren’t worrying about their next paycheck to take care of the car insurance, electric, or heating bills.

  103. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’m so bored of people thinking anyone who makes 100,000-1,000,000/year lives some ridiculous “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” They do not and anyone who thinks so is just ignorant.

    But they do live well above what the vast majority of people in this (and obviously other countries) do.

    I guarantee you ask most anyone making at or below the median annual income if they think someone making $200,000 a year is rich and you’ll get a resounding yes.

    Does that mean they think they live like Jay-Z, no. But they have far more opportunities that the family making $50,000/yr.

    And opportunities at $200k mean rich.

    My parents make between that and $500k/yr. They have a second home and the ability to do vast many more things than the majority of Americans can do like travel, pay for our education, give to charity, eat out frequently, hire people to clean the house, belong to two country clubs, etc..

    They are rich.

    Are they as Rich as Richard Branson? Or someone making $1,000,000 per year? No. But there is no doubt they are rich.

    You don’t have to be living lifestyles of the rich and famous to be rich.

    When you make claims like you are making, you are basically screaming “I have no clue how the majority of people live”.

    Opportunities make one rich and money gives you opportunities.

  104. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    BigChimp – making broad sweeping personal (and ignorant) generalizations about someone just sort of exhibits what sort of person you are. Thanks for the heads up.

    This is a broad general sweeping personal statement?

    Make no mistake, you are out of touch with the rest of the world and you are part of the problem when you make statements like that.

    Really. Seems pretty specific and backed by evidence.

    How about this?

    Not only are you out of touch with reality, you’re a fucking idiot who worries about tone over substance.

    There.

  105. Anteprepro says

    So, someone who makes $1,000,000 PER FUCKING YEAR isn’t rich? Someone who makes 25 times the median household income? Someone making one tenth of that is in the 85th percentile for income, while anyone making $250,000 or more is in the 98th percentile. In what fucking world is someone in the top 2% of earners not considered fucking rich? The median income for those with doctoral or professional degrees is $100,000, FYI, so those pulling in six to ten times that amount ARE NOT FUCKING TYPICAL.

    Jensketch, you are the one who seems to have a Monopoly board game level understanding of the money involved here. Re-examine your ideas, please.

  106. Matt Penfold says

    I stick to my guns. 100k is not rich. I didn’t make the world we live in, I just live in it. If you don’t like your situation, change it. It’s not my problem. It’s up to you.

    Average income globally is around $7000. $100,000 is rich by comparison. Please quit the silly semantic game you are playing. You are coming across as an idiot.

  107. Rey Fox says

    Noah @ 568: Buh-buh-buh…but it’s not fair to tax rich people more! It’s just not! I stumbled on this notion while I was in the shower this morning and it was just such a stunning revelation! Quit throwing facts at it!

    laurentweppe @ 569: What do you mean by “ethnocentric”? Can back this up with any actual evidence? And PZ ain’t surprised about the libertarians here, quite the contrary.

    Lysander @ 583: I bet that act goes down real well in your sophomore English class. The rest of us would rather listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about with regards to tax and economics. Also, a quick tip: Don’t start your comment with the words “practical fact” and then launch into an extended bullshit metaphor.

    jensketch: I don’t think skeptifem made the same point you’re trying to make. In fact, I’m not sure what your point is. People think 6-figure earners are jetsetting playboys? I’ve never heard that before.

  108. says

    Median income in the US, a very rich country, is about $40,000. I think making 2 1/2 times the median income makes you rich.

    I’m not quite to that level, but making $100,000 a year means (unless you make lots of stupid decisions) that you don’t have to worry about making your rent/mortgage payments or keeping food on the table. You do still have to worry about catastrophic medical expenses, but that’s because the US has a piss-poor idiotic health care system. But you’ve got lots of discretionary income, you’ve got free time and toys and vacations, and you’ve probably got lots of luxury items.

    $100K is rich. It’s absurd to claim otherwise.

    Also compare it to someone making minimum wage, but with a full time job. That’s $15,000/year. I grew up in a family of 6 kids living right at the poverty line (I remember my father being proud to say he was getting paid $10K/year in the early 80s). I’m now a college professor, which is not generally considered a high-paying job by any means, and I feel pretty rich, and I know my kids grew up in considerably more comfort than I ever did.

  109. Rey Fox says

    So, I like Pharyngula a lot, he’s a smart guy – but the anonymous commenters are really rather trollish and infantile.

    Pharyngula is the name of the blog, not the blog author. His name is right at the top of the page for everyone to see. Second of all, you’re going to have to point out where people are being infantile in challenging your pointless assertions, because I’m not seeing it.

    Tis Himself – Again with the personal insults. How sad.

    What personal insults? All he said was that you don’t know about economics. And you clearly don’t. I don’t know a whole lot about economics, but I wouldn’t be insulted if anyone pointed that out.

  110. jensketch says

    They aren’t worrying about their next paycheck to take care of the car insurance, electric, or heating bills.

    That isn’t true at all. It is for people who know how to handle their money well and effectively, but most people at this level of salary wish they did live like Jay-Z and everyone around them is pretending they do, so they are in so much fucking debt they literally are a paycheck away from disaster. That’s really no one’s problem other than their own. But it’s the case nonetheless.

    We can all sit here and be wistful about how nice it would be to have so much money, but it isn’t some dude’s fault who earns 100k a year that you don’t. Stop making it their fault.

  111. Anteprepro says

    Actually, as an addition to my previous post: although 15% of households have an income above $100,000, only 5% of individuals have income exceeding that (whereas only 5% of households have incomes exceeding a total of $163,000). Most people would consider those in the top 5% to be rich. So, jensketch, I ask: In what world do you not only fail to consider those just at the threshold of the top 5% rich, but also consider twice that amount (those at the top 2%), four times that amount (those at the top .5%), six times that amount, and even ten times that amount (those at the top .1% of earners) to NOT be rich? You are either incredibly ignorant or just out of your mind.

    “We can all sit here and be wistful about how nice it would be to have so much money, but it isn’t some dude’s fault who earns 100k a year that you don’t. Stop making it their fault.”

    Fuck off.

  112. Carlie says

    I’ve been griping about this for a couple of months since I found out, but do you know how many households in the US make over 200k a year?

    4,544,384.

    Know how many households there are total?

    112,611,029.

    Know what percentage of the population that makes?

    FOUR FUCKING PERCENT.

    And we’re not talking about individual people and their salaries, we’re talking about the total income of entire households.

    Want to drop it down to 100k per year per household? Great.

    That brings the grand total up to 20%. Twenty percent of households in the US bring in 100k a year or more.
    Data here from the Census bureau.

    So is the top 20% “middle-class”? Not for any given definition of “middle” that’s out there. So yes, jen. It’s not buying a Bently every year rich, but it’s richer than EIGHTY FUCKING PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE US POPULATION.

  113. Rey Fox says

    We can all sit here and be wistful about how nice it would be to have so much money, but it isn’t some dude’s fault who earns 100k a year that you don’t. Stop making it their fault.

    What thread are you reading?

  114. Carlie says

    What thread are you reading?

    She’s reading the one that lots of rich people read: it’s the one where everyone else is terribly jealous of them, and any hint that they need to go back to pulling their fair share of societal upkeep (the way they did right up until the last couple of presidents) is OMG CLASS WARFARE which means that all of those lazy poor people are trying to TAKE AWAY THEIR MONEY and don’t those poor people understand that private schools and a new car every five years and four ipads and smartphones with unlimited data plans for the whole family and a vacation every year costs money so they don’t have any leftover for silly shit like roads and public schools and stuff????

  115. Matt Penfold says

    Here in the UK, unless you are working in the public sector, most people earning over the equivalent of $100K will probably have a car supplied by their employer, or if they are there own boss the financing will be done via the company’s books.

  116. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    We can all sit here and be wistful about how nice it would be to have so much money, but it isn’t some dude’s fault who earns 100k a year that you don’t. Stop making it their fault.

    What the fuck are you even talking about now?

  117. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    jensketch:
    You completely missed the point of skeptifem’s post. Go back and read it again, along with the post that she was responding to (comments #39 and #46). Go on, I’ll wait.

    She wasn’t saying that $100k/year isn’t wealthy, she was saying that idiots like you think it’s middle-class or lower.

  118. cody says

    Kris mentioned at #13 a logarithmic rate of taxation.

    I think due to money’s ability to make more money, there ought to be such a response in the tax code. There is a quote somewhere about how the first million is much more difficult than the next 10 million, or something along those lines.

    It is only through the organization of our society that one can transform resources into wealth, why is it thought that one owes nothing to the society for providing such organization and resources? Or that the relationship should be directly proportional?

    The disparity in income is plain absurd—and most people agree, even though they’re unaware of the reality, which is even more absurd.

    Also, I have yet to be convinced that anyone actually does enough work or has enough brains to actually earn millions—let alone billions—of dollars a year.

    For a shift in perspective, check out Bertrand Russell’s essay “In Praise of Idleness“.

  119. jensketch says

    Yes, yes you can all get as angry at me as you like and throw your vitriol all around.

    But everyone on this board makes more than 90% of the rest of the world, so start sending your checks to Africa and stop talking about other people’s money since you all care so much about the poor people.

    I already give to charities like One and disaster relief to the Red Cross, even if it’s a bit painful, because as an American I can afford it no matter how much I make. Which, by the way, I never said how much or even implied how difficult or easy my own personal circumstances are.

  120. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Add chronic ignorer of points made to your list of personal failures here Jen.

  121. says

    jensketch,
    Most people have not been that mean to you. Grow up and stop complaining about it. If you read this blog even in a cursory way you should know that people who complain about tone are not only looked upon poorly but will generally get more scorn heaped upon them for complaining. You keep ignoring the actual content of messages. Expect more “vitriol” for that.

  122. Anteprepro says

    Jensketch:

    That’s great that America is wealthier than other countries, and you may not be rich yourself and give to charity. But it that is all irrelevant: You are still incredibly wrong-headed in believing that someone making up to a million dollars annually isn’t rich, and you still decided to spew out nonsense about us being jealous about those who are pulling in large incomes. So here are your choices:
    -Address the former issue and admit that we are entitled to be a little pissed at you for the latter jab, and retrieve a modicum of respect.
    -Do us all a little favor and fade into the bandwidth silently.
    -Continue to pretend that you are not wrong, did nothing to draw offense, and become just another standard tone troll in an attempt to defend your “honor”.

    Your move.

  123. Matt Penfold says

    Yes, yes you can all get as angry at me as you like and throw your vitriol all around.

    But everyone on this board makes more than 90% of the rest of the world, so start sending your checks to Africa and stop talking about other people’s money since you all care so much about the poor people.

    I already give to charities like One and disaster relief to the Red Cross, even if it’s a bit painful, because as an American I can afford it no matter how much I make. Which, by the way, I never said how much or even implied how difficult or easy my own personal circumstances are.

    What is the “rest of the world” ?

    Average income globally is around $7000. It is a safe bet most people who are working and live in a western Country earn more than $6300, which is 90% of the global average. If someone is retired, or unemployed, they might well not have an income of more than $6300, no matter where they live.

    Why the false claim ?

  124. broboxley OT says

    I am not rich and we make close to the 100k annually. I would be better off if I kicked the kids out, stopped answering the phone from younger relatives and didnt help out where possible. Dont think I want to be rich. Could I pay more taxes? Yes. I would wish the government spent more wisely if I did pay more.

    Jensketch, the people who use their 600k salary to manage their 1 million debt are rich. Its called the economics of OPM

    Other Peoples Money
    method to live well above your means as long as you can find more folks to subsidize your lifestyle. People who do that are rich, rarely famous and suck as human beings.

  125. jensketch says

    Average income globally is around $7000. It is a safe bet most people who are working and live in a western Country earn more than $6300, which is 90% of the global average.

    So it’s more than 90% of the rest of the world. Fantastic, everyone should be helping out the third world then, am I right? Since you earn so much more. Even some manager that works at the local McDonald’s makes at least twice that amount per year. He’s amply capable, by world payroll standards, to help right? Then he should, and stop complaining about some dude in a cubicle who earns 100k a year.

    The focus is off. The focus is on the wrong people. It’s like you are all believing it too, which is astounding considering the supposed collection of degrees I bet everyone says they have acquired.

    Tax the ultra rich billionaires who life a finger and make laws.

    Oh wait – we can’t. Not easily. It’s too hard. Darn. We’re lazy like that.

    Okay then, let’s turn our sights on anyone else we can, easy targets and make everyone else’s life a living hell because, shit, I only make 35k and I want more!

    That’s really where it is and why you’re annoyed. It’s obvious.

    So, since you care so much about the ills of the world and poverty, do something about it with your own money. You do earn, after all, more than the rest of the world.

  126. Rasmus says

    Alexander the Good Enough: That’s fascinating, great link. The paper is available for free at Entrepreneurs, Chance, and the Deterministic Concentration of Wealth.

    I’ve been thinking that wealth concentrated in society because wealthy people have the power to team up in order to distort and tilt the rules of the economy in their favor.

    If this study has any bearing on real economies it seems to say that you don’t need any market distortions to get a black hole of wealth in the hands of an arbitrarily small number of people.

  127. Matt Penfold says

    jensketch,

    Are you being deliberately obtuse, or are you really not very bright ? I ask because your reply to me indicates you did not understand a word I wrote.

    You have complained about how others have treated you. Yet you either cannot or will not engage honestly with those criticising you. That is not acceptable behaviour round here.

    You made a false claim and I note you do not have the honesty or integrity to admit as much. Why should we continue to pay attention to someone who is that dishonest and hypocritical ?

  128. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    I own a house, two cars, and part of a 39 foot sailboat. I’m a senior executive at a middle-sized company. I make over $100K per year (which is nice, considering the wife is disabled and the daughter was laid off). I’m rich.

  129. jensketch says

    Why should we continue to pay attention to someone who is that dishonest and hypocritical ?

    This is a different way to do precisely the same thing I was talking about. You’re just avoiding absolutely everything here by trying to pin me down personally. It won’t work.

    I’m calling a spade a spade.

    If you are all so righteous about the poor and huddled masses, send your money to Africa. Send it to the homeless in your community. Send it anywhere. Help. Until you do, every post you type here without doing it just proves that it’s just all talk and no walk.

    I posted because I am tired of seeing this vacuous talk. It’s all the wrong focus. Walk your talk or really just hush.

  130. Carlie says

    But everyone on this board makes more than 90% of the rest of the world,

    Yes, we know. We’re complaining that you were wrong to say that people who make more than 98% of the rest of the world weren’t rich. What exactly is your point again?

  131. Anteprepro says

    Ah, so you choose option 4 then, attempting to change the topic while still suggesting that we have selfish motives for wanting those with more disposable income to pay more than those who do not. Seriously, fuck off jensketch.

  132. Carlie says

    Okay then, let’s turn our sights on anyone else we can, easy targets and make everyone else’s life a living hell because, shit, I only make 35k and I want more!

    So, “everyone else’s” lives were “a living hell” under the tax rates of Clinton?????

    Because that’s basically what we’re talking about, a return to those tax rates that we were under just a few years ago before Bush drove us into the ground.

  133. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Jen you are so very confused. The income of the rest of the world was used as a guide to explain your wrongness on who is rich.

    Taxing in this country is a completely different subject that donating to charity out side of it.

  134. Joseph says

    Taxing the Rich for the wars that they create and maintain is a tradition that should be resumed in this country, plain and simple. War profits the rich, not the poor and certainly not the middle class.

    They make money off of wars, while everyone else suffers the losses. How many American Millionaires and Billionaires have died in Iraq, Afghanistan etc? Any?

    The losses have all been among the two lower classes, the rich have money coming in from all the various sub-contracting companies that they are invested in (and various mutual funds, stock funds and bond funds that are invested in such).

    Its all part of money game they play. It used to be they had to pay to play. Start a war? Sure…. but you’re going to face a 25 to 50% increase in your taxes and those of the corporations you own that are making those juicy government contracts. Tax them for their actions. Make their wars less profitable. Make them think before charging in, like they used to. Afghanistan can be argued as necessary, since the Taliban was directly involved with 911. Iraq was not. Next time they’ll pin point their targets and not try to get a free shot at attacking a country that was simply annoying them rather than killing innocent Americans.

    So yes, Tax them. Take that War Debt and make them pay out the costs.

  135. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I posted because I am tired of seeing this vacuous talk. It’s all the wrong focus. Walk your talk or really just hush.

    What? Really, I mean what? You point is so obscure, we aren’t seeing it. Ever consider that you might be wrong? That’s a start for listening.

  136. Anteprepro says

    “If you are all so righteous about the poor and huddled masses, send your money to Africa.”

    What the fuck is wrong with you? The topic at hand is tax rates in America, and the related vast divide between wealthy and poor in America. The fact that other countries have it worse does fuck all to correct the problem of poverty in our country, along with the fact that there are a select few making obscene amounts of cash while there are people barely scraping by. The fact that other countries are poorer than ours doesn’t make the people just getting by in our countries live in any better condition. The fact that other countries have bigger social and economic problems is not a solution to dealing with our own, it is a fucking bald-faced distraction.

  137. Matt Penfold says

    This is a different way to do precisely the same thing I was talking about. You’re just avoiding absolutely everything here by trying to pin me down personally. It won’t work.

    So you want to avoid being held to account for being dishonest.

    Sorry, not going to happen.

    I’m calling a spade a spade.

    If you are all so righteous about the poor and huddled masses, send your money to Africa. Send it to the homeless in your community. Send it anywhere. Help. Until you do, every post you type here without doing it just proves that it’s just all talk and no walk.

    I posted because I am tired of seeing this vacuous talk. It’s all the wrong focus. Walk your talk or really just hush.

    And we are tired of you seeing you being dishonest. Dishonesty is not acceptable around here, and unless you change your attitude the “vitriol” (which was nothing of the sort) you have been subjected to so far will seem very mild indeed.

    Now are you going to admit you have misunderstood people or not ?

  138. Björn says

    Is there a word for the phenomenon of trusting someone who’s an expert on X, to also be correct in areas outside of his/her expertise?

  139. brokenSoldier, OM says

    /de-lurk

    I know I’m late to this party, but plagiarism is ridiculous, especially considering, you know, Google exists. A couple hundred comments back, texatheist posted his first marginally academic defense of flat taxes, and it sounded a little too divergent from his normally bro-tastic speech pattern to be original. Turns out, it wasnt – compare:

    Texatheist #423 (with no citation whatsoever):

    “Flat tax systems are in place in several states in the U.S. Flat tax systems eliminate deductions, tax credits, and most exemptions, thereby eliminating biases towards certain behaviors and activities. Eliminating deductions, tax credits, and complex tax brackets also simplifies the tax code, making compliance easier.”

    http://taxes.about.com/od/statetaxes/a/Flat-tax.htm

    Flat tax systems are in place in several states in the U.S…In addition, flat tax systems eliminate deductions, tax credits, and most exemptions, thereby eliminating biases towards certain behaviors and activities. Eliminating deductions, tax credits, and complex tax brackets also simplifies the tax code, making compliance easier.

  140. raven says

    Funny story: Tea Party congressman whines about only getting $174,000/year.

    If you look at the Tea Party people who got elected, they are a scurvy, hypocritical lot.

    One from Illinois owed $110,000 in back child support and was unemployed before he got elected.

    Well thanks to Bush, the ur-Tea Partier, lots of people are unemployed. And what’s wrong with feeding your kids? He probably thought the Invisible Magic Hand of the Market would feed them. Probably it would, although in practice, that most likely would be federal food stamps.

  141. Sili says

    If you look at the Tea Party people who got elected, they are a scurvy, hypocritical lot.

    If you remember that “The Teaparty” is just the new name for the Moral Majority and social conservatism, it makes perfect sense.

  142. Carlie says

    *tackles brokenSoldier with a big hug*

    Jen, your first posts were about how people making from 100k to a milliion dollars a year aren’t rich. We responded by showing you that, relative even within the country being discussed, they are indeed rich. Now you’re claiming that your point is that other people are more poor? You do realize that we can still see your first posts and the point you were making then, right?

  143. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    BrokenSoldier:
    Thanks for that. It’s no surprise to that Tex would be so intellectually dishonest.

    It’s really good to see you here!

  144. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    BrokenSoldier, good so see you again. Your first drink is on the house, and your tab is in the black. Every time Patricia deals with or for the VA, all the tabs of those who served see some e-ducats. Popcornz is free, but I can rustle up a steak quickly. There’s always one standing by for Josh the Geologist.

  145. ted says

    Every time I hear about the “deserving rich,” I think of Paris Hilton. An already obscenely wealthy mega trust fund twit who became famous for doing a porno film. (The rich *are* different, they use night vision video cameras.)

    She’s parlayed her brand into several different businesses which produce products in third world countries, her various court cases/2 minutes of jail time and constant paparazzi presence have been a burden on tax-payers and the only jobs her wealth has created are personal assistant and back-yard chihuahua breeder.

    Tax cuts for the rich are not creating wealth or jobs. They are allowing people like Paris Hilton to escape the onerous burden of paying an additional 2% on her vacation homes.

  146. brokenSoldier, OM says

    :D I don’t know what the hell was with the tone troll – I mostly lurk too, but whenever I get the chance to dip the toes in the comment water, its always so warm in here! Almost makes up for moving away from the beach…

    Incidentally, this tea Party guy that is lamenting his much diminished situation is perfect – up until a few months ago, Panama City Beach was home for me, and if $174,000 and some change is a step down for him, I feel no sympathy at all. This is a guy who thinks that being in the funeral home business is excellent training for being in Congress, because it makes him a “grief expert,” which supposedly helps because Obama’s policies are ruining small business.

    (http://dailycaller.com/2010/09/16/funeral-home-owner-says-being-a-‘grief-expert’-qualifies-him-for-congress/)

    Ugh.

  147. Kagehi says

    You people have FAILED to convince Texatheist, yet you’re sticking to your guns that your approach somehow “works”.

    It doesn’t. It alienates new-comers, doesn’t put “skepticism” in a good light, and infuriates more reasonable members of your group.

    Just for fun, lets take all the ***ignored*** posts, which don’t include name calling (and I will be a bit of a concern troll here myself and state that sometimes it happens a bit too damn fast, though I don’t agree that it shouldn’t necessarily happen), along with a endless responses in which none of the points are addressed at all by the two complaining here, and see just which group looks like clueless halfwits…

    The whole thing has degenerated into an argument over whether or not people are being nice, with the only side occasionally adding anything new being, surprise, surprise, the ones being called out for not being *nice* about it. Its even starting to piss me off.

  148. Daft Greg says

    The Objectivist creed:

    “There is no god but the free market and Ayn Rand is its prophet.”

  149. David Rolfe says

    As another long time lurker, let me /de-lurk to say it’s good to know you’re still around brokenSoldier.

    And while I’m posting let me thank ‘Tis for donating some serious page-inches to us. It’s always a pleasure to read you.

  150. says

    but it struck me as the most “American” of all the European countries I’ve been to. I’m not quite sure why, just tossing the impression out there.

    that’s because Poland has had a major crush on America since about forever. Secondarily though, you have to remember that after the fall of communism, it went through a Shock Doctrine treatment that instituted a lot of neo-con-ish policies that simply didn’t exist anywhere in Western Europe. And not East Germany either, which just got more or less annexed by West Germany without major changes to the laws and sociopolitical setup of West Germany

  151. amphiox says

    Funny story: Tea Party congressman whines about only getting $174,000/year.

    I would encourage said congressman to follow his disappointment to its logical conclusion – the quitting of his seat for more lucrative employment, so that he can be replaced in congress by someone actually competent and sensible.

  152. says

    I’d certainly go to Germany or Scandinavia before Poland, if the option were open.

    that’s my choice, too. I could afford living in Poland on the income I have right now, and I would have a very easy time finding a place, since my dad still lives there. But I’d really rather wait until I make enough to move back to Germany (if Perry wins the election though, even Poland will be an improvement). I mean, their train services STILL don’t have intranet and they look in physical folders with real paper files when looking for a particular train, ffs.

    I’m jumping on the ‘Tis bandwagon, here:
    ‘Tis, I ♥ you. I learn so much from your posts!

    what she said.

    You had to start at the bottom just like everyone else

    “just like everyone else” is obviously a lie. If that were true, the top income brackets wouldn’t be dominated by the white male descendants of other upper class and upper middle class people. if “start at the bottom just like everyone else” were true, there would be as many CEO’s (and management just under them) from the ghettos as from upper class households.

    Make no fucking mistake, 100,000-1 million/year isn’t rich.

    you’re fucking delusional. Top 1% is by definition rich.

    That doesn’t mean rich, though, does it? No.

    yes it does.

    I’m so bored of people thinking anyone who makes 100,000-1,000,000/year lives some ridiculous “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” They do not and anyone who thinks so is just ignorant.

    honey, from my perspective, the American Middle Class lives ridiculously wasteful lives. Anyone who can find things to spend a million a year on and complain about not being rich is a fucking spoiled brat. I could comfortably live for 50 years on a million dollars(excepting healthcare for a moment, because in the US where you have to buy yourself a lung if you need a transplant, one can never predict health-costs in advance).

    most people at this level of salary wish they did live like Jay-Z

    yes, the American disease of constantly looking to compete with those above you, instead of realizing how much better you have it than those below you. This anxiety is one of the reasons more equal societies are healthier: they do not produce this social anxiety.

    Nonetheless, wanting to be Jay-Z is not evidence for not being rich, it’s evidence for being an addict to consumerist capitalism.

    so they are in so much fucking debt they literally are a paycheck away from disaster

    another symptom of addiction to consumerist capitalism, and still not evidence for them not being rich. Rock-stars who run out of money because they spend it on frivolous shit are still rich, too. spending all your money is simply evidence that you are living a frivolous lifestyle *shrug*

    it isn’t some dude’s fault who earns 100k a year that you don’t. Stop making it their fault.

    you’re confused. no one was talking about “fault” in this instance.

    That’s really where it is and why you’re annoyed. It’s obvious.

    you’re a liar. look up data on the healthiest societies sometime, maybe then you’ll get a fucking clue why we’re “annoyed”

  153. says

    and for everyone’s amusement, here’s the post by skeptifem that jen thought was making her point:

    He is richer than at least 90% of americans, but most of us wouldn’t consider him “rich” because he is still in the one illness away from bankruptcy boat with the rest of the people below him. The way that the amount of wealth increases exponentially as you move up fractions of percentage points after that is proof of how skewed the view of the world is. People making more than 90% of the population aren’t considered rich.

    lol

  154. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Thank you all for your kind words about my economic posts. It’s truly gratifying to know I’m appreciated by my intellectual peers and superiors. @-}–

  155. laurentweppe says

    What do you mean by “ethnocentric”?

    ethnocentric as in “upper-class white dude who obviously thinks that the world should revolve around his social-class” to the point of openly daydreaming about threatening other people with genocide by nukes. As for the evidence, his own writtings are public, but I know the readership of this blog, and I am very aware that you as well as a lot of commenters here will have the tribalistic reaction of refusing to aknowledge that a right-wing doucheback coating his douchebaggery in secularist jargon is in fact a right-wing douchebag, unless he at least starts to openly campaign for far-right politicians.

  156. says

    I know the readership of this blog, and I am very aware that you as well as a lot of commenters here will have the tribalistic reaction of refusing to aknowledge that a right-wing doucheback coating his douchebaggery in secularist jargon is in fact a right-wing douchebag, unless he at least starts to openly campaign for far-right politicians.

    I hope you know that “a lot” is probably not even a majority. Plenty of Pharyngulites do know Harris for the xenophobic ass he is.

  157. brokenSoldier, OM says

    Seriously, I’ve got to jump on the ‘Tis wagon too — “interested by detailed economic explanation” is not something I’m used to being!

    And thanks for the comment David :)

  158. Berior says

    I very rarely feel the need to post but this time I couldn’t resist.

    I’m probably going to shock some peoples (altough those that will be shocked are seriously lacking in the cognitive departement):

    A same amount of money isn’t worth the same thing to everyone.

    And it’s really evident when you think back on how things where when you were little. I think most peoples had the same experience with this.

    As a child, when given the equivalent of 5 euros I was very happy, I felt rich I could buy plenty of things, now as an adult this is the bare minimum to ensure one very poor meal. This isn’t because money has been devalued since it’s a matter of perception.

    A child, if he is lucky, will have it’s need taken care of by his family, he won’t have to pay for food, he won’t have to pay for clothes and he will have entertainement offered to him essentialy free. Given that all his need have been taken care of whitout much effort on his part, a child, given even a small sum of money will feel extremely rich and satisfied.

    Let’s translate this to an adult situation. An adult, who is barely scrapping by will welcome every little bit of extra he can get. Even a little sum of money will be considered a treasure.

    But let’s take a rich adult, one who has no problem taking care of all it’s need, money matters less to him, 1 euro to a poor is very important, it means buying some food, or a drink, or it is the difference between life and death. But to a rich man, one euro is worth almost nothing, it’s not enough to buy anything he might wants and he doesn’t really need it since his primary needs are already fulfilled.

    Why does this situation exist ? Simple, peoples don’t value money, they value what they can do with money. And the more you have and the more easily you have it, the more the things you want falls into luxury, with prices and value going up exponentialy.

    What I’m trying to say is that those that have a lot of money value it a lot less than those that don’t have it.

    The “mistake” (and I’m being charitable here by not assigning any malicious intent, only ignorance and naivete) that Thexatheist and his like do is that they don’t take into account the value people assign to their money, they only work from a flat lifeless mathematical perspective.

    With a flat tax rate, let’s say 15%, everyone pay the same percentage of their revenue (is that even spelled correctly ? Not a native english speaker, but I hope you get my meaning) The value of money they lose is considerably different. To the poor a loss of 15 percent is the difference between enjoying a good movie and barely being able to scrape by. For the rish, 15% of his revenue might be the difference between having 4 sportscar rather than 3 (I’m talking extremes here to make sure my points get accross)

    In a pure mathematical world, 15% for everyone is fair, in real life it is all but.

    To really make the caricature extreme, those 15% in term of value might be like taking a kidney from a poor guy but only taking a sock from a rich person.

    So yes, taxing the rich more is fair, their money has less value to them, they can afford the loss easily. And you do that so that you won’t have to take quite as much from the poor.

    And that’s not even taking things like society, benefits of taxes and such into account. At the very very very basic level taxing the rich more is fair. It only gets more fair the more elements are added to the reasoning.

  159. Berior says

    Holy, that was a long post. Sorry it’s late and I tend to ramble a lot and explain things five different way to make sure my idea is understood. I blame my teaching formation for that.

  160. It'spiningforthefyords says

    Libertarians, especially on blogs like this, really take the cake – and refuse to divide it up fairly.

    Do they even READ what they write, or are they creationists and simply allow the memes to sprout from their fingers like some SF evil carnivorous vine in search of further food?

    Worst are the libertarians who pull a True Scotsman ploy and claim we COULD have a libertarian nation, while the purest libertarian politician ever elected to national office, Ron Paul, espouses obvious idiocy, has an obvious hard-on for ridiculous notions straight from the Bible, and opposes even the most sensible forms of government, which amount to little more than collective security. I won’t even mention the Gold Standard or the fact he has no trouble being among as corrupt a group of humans in the Republican Party as the earth has ever assembled.

    Fuck off and do some real progressive political work to enlarge people’s freedoms, you Pure Heart frauds.

  161. Carlie says

    Berior, that was said very well. :) There’s also the fact that poor people always have deferred purchasing; there’s always a long list of things they need to buy but can’t because they don’t have the money to do so. Give them more money, and they’ll immediately spend it on what they’ve been needing to buy. Give money to rich people, and… they’ll put it in the bank. Or maybe get a couple of extra options on the gadget they were already going to purchase. Every dollar in the hands of a poor person literally makes more of an impact on the economy than one in the hands of a rich person because the poor person has to use it in a way that stimulates the economy.

  162. Bill says

    It seems to me that there is a false dichotomy here between the necessity to raise somebody’s taxes and the need to care for the poor. In 2010, the federal government collected $898 billion in federal income tax revenues…and laid out $847 billion dollars on the defense budget, which incorporates Iraq, Afghanistan, numerous outposts in other countries that often serve to agitate the local populations, and also includes substantial spending that could be considered corporate welfare in the form of government contracts. If it were our national priority, we could conceivably spend as much or more on the poor in our country as we are today, without raising taxes, simply by spending less money killing the poor people in other countries.

    No matter who is paying the balance of taxes, our system is set up to benefit those who can afford to buy the politicians.

  163. First Approximation (formerly Feynmaniac) says

    I will also say that ‘Tis Himself’s comment at 589 was absolutely great and should be read by everyone, especially people complaining about taxes on the wealthy.

  164. cody says

    Just remembered a bumper sticker/slogan idea I had a while back:

    Support Our Troops: Pay More Taxes

  165. Berior says

    Bill it’s not such a false dichotomy

    I’m looking over the 2010 budget for the USA, now, I’m by no mean an economist, nor am I completely familliar with the situation in the US but from what I can tell from the article on wikipedia, the US expenditure are way beyond what is collected. So even if you completely stop funding the defense budget the US still lose money, so it’s not a matter of simply distributing money differently, the US need to get more money from somewhere, from my understanding it has been done until now by borrowing money from other nation.

    What I have a hard time understanding is how some peoples can argue for tax cut, not closing loophole in tax laws, and other such measure when the US is in the process of turning itself into the indured servant of other nations.

    It seems to me that the ideal solution to strive for first and foremost is to attempt to aquire economic independance by reimbursing the national debt somehow.

    Raising tax and lowering the defense budget (not simply shuffling the money you can’t afford to spend around) seems to be a good way to achieve that goal. There probably is other ways to do it, again I’m not an economist.

    But you’d think everyone would be familliar with the idea of not actually spending more than you have, from what I see and understand, it seems to not be the case.

  166. Samantha Vimes, Chalkboard Monitor says

    I couldn’t finish reading the quote before waning to scream.

    Does he know any autistics? All the kids I’ve met with autism seemed sweet.
    How about Aspies? I know one who had spent decades flying airplanes on weekends for Doctors Without Borders, and helped put together operating environments in the field when a patient was found for whom speed was the most important factor for treatment. I know others who gift more than they can afford to to their friends.

    Autism has nothing to do with selfishness. Rand’s philosophy is more sociopathic. When people talk about an empathy problem for autistics, they mean that those people don’t have the right mirror neuron activity to read expression easily, not that they are incapable of caring about how other people feel. Arrrrgh!

    Now I’m going back to read the point of the whole thing, because by brain was completely derailed by needing to defend the neuralogically different.

  167. Kagehi says

    I’m looking over the 2010 budget for the USA, now, I’m by no mean an economist, nor am I completely familiar with the situation in the US but from what I can tell from the article on wikipedia, the US expenditure are way beyond what is collected. So even if you completely stop funding the defense budget the US still lose money, so it’s not a matter of simply distributing money differently, the US need to get more money from somewhere, from my understanding it has been done until now by borrowing money from other nation.

    The annoying thing is that we had at least one president produce a surplus. His getting a blow job was deemed more important that balancing the budget. Seems like.. we didn’t have a lot of talk about redesigning, cutting, or destroying Medicare or Social Security during that presidency either. So… I am left wondering what else is “off the table” for the Teepee Party, which keeps anyone from doing the same thing again, or at least adjusting things enough that the wars would be the only *major* problem in the whole budget, not just half of them.

    I think the whole lot of the assholes need an audit, but who do we get to do that? :(

  168. laurentweppe says

    I hope you know that “a lot” is probably not even a majority. Plenty of Pharyngulites do know Harris for the xenophobic ass he is.

    Indeed, but I was not talking about Pharyngulites being unaware of Harris being a xenophobic ass, I was talking about Pharyngulites refusing to aknowledge (as in, publicly admitting something you already know) it because it might give ammonition to the fundies.

  169. Sheesh (as seen on Sadly, No!) says

    Hey Bill,

    I’m not sure the defense budget includes our wars. I think those are funded with supplemental resolutions or some other slight of hand. Checking… Doop-de-doo. Oh, I’m not quite right, they started being in the budget in 2010, but not as wars:

    The recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were largely funded through supplementary spending bills outside the Federal Budget, so they are not included in the military budget figures listed below.[6] Starting in the fiscal year 2010 budget however, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are categorized as “Overseas Contingency Operations” and included in the budget.

  170. Sheesh (as seen on Sadly, No!) says

    Hey laurentweppe,

    Late as always to the threads, but really, look at any of the threads where Harris is discussed and you’ll note there’s always a contingent making exactly this point in unambiguous language. Your concerns about others publicly admitting something [they] already know are misplaced.

  171. Tigger_the_Wing says

    I have read the whole thread. I would like to add my “I ♥ you. I really, really do.” to ‘Tis Himself.

    I never would have thought that I could enjoy reading about economics so much! =^_^=

    I would also like to add my “I ♥ you. I really, really do.” to all of you who came to the defence of those of us on the autism spectrum. It was truly heartwarming to read such understanding from people who made the attempt, despite not having an autistic brain (and thus not being able to ‘know’ what it feels like) to empathise anyway. You are wonderful people, you know that? =^_^=

    Had the people who first studied people like us had been half as empathetic as you have been, we may have had a far less stigmatising label than one that people take to mean ‘selfish’ or ‘self-centred’.

    Just because we find it difficult to read the facial expressions and body language of those with neurotypical brains (as, indeed, they seem to have equal difficulty reading ours) doesn’t mean we don’t have empathy once we know what they are going through. Although we may express it differently than they expect!

  172. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    I’m about as far from being an expert on economics as it’s humanly possible to get, but even I can grasp the idea that the less you have, the bigger the proportion of it has to go on the essentials needed to keep you alive, sheltered, fed and clothed – and that taxes on consumption (like VAT or fuel tax) are therefore bound to affect the poor disproportionately. A progressive tax on income is obviously fairer, if only because it goes some way towards offsetting that initial inequality. I really hate it when people pretend the playing field is actually level, just so that they can smugly point to simplistic formulae and claim they’re “fair” (one size fits all, just like the bed of Procrustes – never mind that it wasn’t built to fit the poor, we can just chop your head and feet off no bother). It’s a similar mindset to the there-is-no-racism-there-is-no-sexism brigade, and equally divorced from reality.

    I’d just like to add my voice to those thanking ‘Tis for his excellent, clear summary (which I have copypasted into an .odt to help me try to keep this stuff clear in my head – thank you!)

  173. Carlie says

    Just remembered a bumper sticker/slogan idea I had a while back:

    Support Our Troops: Pay More Taxes

    I would buy that bumper sticker in a heartbeat.

  174. laurentweppe says

    but really, look at any of the threads where Harris is discussed and you’ll note there’s always a contingent making exactly this point in unambiguous language

    That’s… false: demonstratly false: one just has to enter “Harris” in the older blog search engine to find a plethora of posts about Harris where virtually all the commenters are showering Harris with praises.

    And when someone comes to remind people that Harris is a xenophobe with a secularist coating… Well, first, this is a somehow recent -but welcome- development, and second, you still find commenters not taking it well to the point of pretending that his daydreaming about mass murder and torture or his soft spot for nativism and fake demographic statistics are perfectly rational. A recent case in point:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/what_the_f_is_wrong_with_chris.php

  175. Carbon Dated says

    Sam Harris doesn’t sound “bemused.” In fact he seems very certain of why his Randoid fanboys jumped (reader)ship.

    He does sound somewhat amused, however.

  176. Sheesh (as seen on Sadly, No!) says

    Wait wait wait, did the goalposts just move?

    This was the argument I heard, your actual words:

    I know the readership of this blog, and I am very aware that you as well as a lot of commenters here will have the tribalistic reaction of refusing to aknowledge that a right-wing doucheback coating his douchebaggery in secularist jargon [i.e. Harris] is in fact a right-wing douchebag, unless he at least starts to openly campaign for far-right politicians. […]
    I was talking about Pharyngulites refusing [refuse] to aknowledge (as in, publicly admitting something you already know) it because it might give ammonition to the fundies.

    how is that different from:

    I know the readership of this blog [] I am very aware that you as well as a lot of commenters here [] [refuse] to aknowledge that [] [Harris] is in fact a right-wing douchebag, [] Pharyngulites [] [refuse] to aknowledge [] it because it might give ammonition to the fundies.

    That sounds like, I’m willing to stereotype the readership of Pharyngula, so I know there’s always one comment from someone who might be called a Pharyngulite saying ‘shut up shut up! or the fundies will call us all torturers and xenophobes and right-wing, neocon nuclear war apologists!’ and thus tar the pure hearts among us with that awful broad brush. (As if fundies ever make evidence based arguments against atheists in the first place; who gives a shit about ammunition?)

    I don’t think that’s a real concern. The thread you cite has a contingent of regulars shitting right on Harris (and other right-wing atheists).

    Do some people hold opinions you don’t like or that are naive or based in ignorance? You bet. How is that different on the topic of Harris compared to any other?

    Point being, if you have a problem with Harris defenders (like the ones saying “hur hur he didn’t mean autism that way”) OR the “praise showerers”, take it up with them without painting “virtually all Pharyngulites” with your broad brush.

    I know I’m a pretty stupid guy so I’m not going to argue about this if I’m just misunderstanding whatever awesome critique of “Pharyngulites” you’re actually making.

  177. Rey Fox says

    laurentweppe: I thought you were talking about PZ. I’m well aware of Harris’ Islamaphobic leanings.

    A late observation: “TAX THE RICH!” is immediately followed in the sidebar by “It’ll never happen.” Sigh.

  178. ohnorobot says

    Yep. It shouldn’t need to be said, however, a great many people who are filthy rich didn’t get that money by working hard, they inherited it, along with the businesses and investments which keeps it rolling on in.

    I’ve actually heard this line a lot, but haven’t seen any evidence (anectodal or otherwise) to back it up.

  179. Atticus Dogsbody says

    I’ve actually heard this line a lot, but haven’t seen any evidence (anectodal or otherwise) to back it up.

    Just the other day I was having lunch with Nikki Hilton, George P. Bush, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd & Lachlan Murdoch and they felt the same way. No evidence at all, not a lick.

  180. says

    sketchyjen – “It is for people who know how to handle their money well and effectively, but most people at this level of salary wish they did live like Jay-Z and everyone around them is pretending they do, so they are in so much fucking debt they literally are a paycheck away from disaster. That’s really no one’s problem other than their own.”

    Then WTF are you talking about? They’re rich and can’t manage their money? fuck ‘em.

  181. says

    What I have a hard time understanding is how some peoples can argue for tax cut, not closing loophole in tax laws, and other such measure when the US is in the process of turning itself into the indured servant of other nations.

    Because taxes are bad. Taxation = punishment.
    That’s about as far as the argument goes with most of the right wing. It’s the talking point mentality; it’s all about simplistic first principles, and the real-world consequences of those principles do not matter. The principles are inviolable.
    The fact that tax cuts result in huge deficits cannot be the fault of the tax cuts because cutting taxes is good. It must be all that spending on freeloaders causing the deficit; it can’t be military spending, because another inviolable principle of the right is that military spending is necessary and good.
    It comes down to that fallacious mode of thinking that rejects ideas, not because of real-world evidence that they don’t work, but because they conflict with the dogmatic principles one wants to continue to hold.

  182. Cwayne says

    Caine, Fleur du Mal, OM, OS.
    So, you have a dictionary. And you think you can use it. And the best you can do is continuously insult someone you don’t even know.
    Well done. Fleur du Mal. You are such a beautiful person.

  183. Cwayne says

    Caine, Fleur du Mal, OM, OS.
    and since you are too stupid to notice and too uncivilized to care, my response to Audrey was very sweet.
    You however are an fool. You are welcome to continue writing insults and spewing hatered and crap.
    Go right ahead. Show yourself.

  184. Anteprepro says

    No, cwayne, your responses past your first post were thoroughly condescending and dishonest. You attempted to suggest that an obscure and vague definition of autism exists in the dictionary, and this excuses use of the term, whose primary and most common usage refers to those with the disorder, as an insult. It does not. You deserved Caine’s response, and will deserve even worse if you continue to take up the mantle of tone troll in the wake of the morphing misogynist tone troll earlier in the thread.

  185. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah Cwayne, tone trolls like you are the scum of the earth, one notch below godbots. *goes to find dancing shoes, better known as steel toed stompers*

  186. Mark says

    Strange tho… aren’t we all in favor of the capture and punishment of the likes of Mr. Bernanke, his cronies, and probably the Rockefellars??? Why of course we are. The argument “tax the rich” however is both boring and preposterous intellectually. Number one, this argument only reveals the ridiculous hypocrisy of the writer: That is, “tax everyone who earns a few dollars more than I.” Number two (and this really is b.s.) – who does the taxing? It is no wonder that these days I feel isolated – at the confluence of idiots. The (socalled) “left” appears to have a fascistic love of the state — they’ll trust “the state” with all kinds of decisions; health, sex education, “public welfare” (now that’s a lulu)… the “left” (as if America had one), will trust the current administration despite its foreign policy having no perceivable difference from the last five administrations. On the other hand, there are the “rabids” (I call them), on the “right” – who oddly, share near complete consonance with the “left” on the subject of foreign policy, but who would like to be more “fiscally responsible.”

    All of this amuses me, watching this truckload of bumpkins bounce down the dirt road of life all together in the same vehicle, punching at each other, spitting and clawing… all the while the vehicle itself goes straight off the cliff. Something here about “truck of fools” or some such.

    Why on earth would anyone trust the State to take your money and spend it wisely on programs helpful to the public — you and me… mr. and mrs. blow? How would that thought enter your head? Is this happening now? Are you cognizant that the current administration via sleight of ham-hand… looted the taxpayers in 2008 and have given jack sh!t back to us? What is wrong with you? Why do you think the system is working? It isn’t. It is over, collapsing, near death.

    But you support “taxing the rich” – why? So we can buy more wars? So we can have pharmaceutical companies determining our sicknesses? So we can have unending support for the vile agribusiness that is creating bad food for us?

    Indeed, what is your story?

  187. Anteprepro says

    Mike, go here immediately: http://www.buzzflash.com/perspectives/taxes.html

    And don’t vomit out your garbage here again until you can get three other people to verify that you know what the fuck you are talking about. Your last post seems to suggest that you are dangerously disconnected from what most people aside from yourself would call “reality”.

  188. Carlie says

    Number one, this argument only reveals the ridiculous hypocrisy of the writer: That is, “tax everyone who earns a few dollars more than I.”

    See my post where I quoted and cited how many people we’re talking about when we talk about “the rich”. No, I’m not linking it. You should have read all of the other comments before you joined in; you certainly had enough time to do it.

    Why on earth would anyone trust the State to take your money and spend it wisely on programs helpful to the public — you and me… mr. and mrs. blow?

    Because this is a democracy? Is that a trick question?

    But you support “taxing the rich” – why?

    So we can stop cutting aid to people who are dying of preventable diseases and stop having health and wealth statistics that put us at the bottom of third world countries? Again, trick question?

  189. Randomfactor says

    He is richer than at least 90% of americans, but most of us wouldn’t consider him “rich” because he is still in the one illness away from bankruptcy boat with the rest of the people below him.

    It seems to me from the above that establishment of a decent single-payer national health care system would make a hell of a lot more “rich” people in this country (overnight) than any amount of taxcutting could achieve.

  190. SyntheticSemantics says

    *does not have the time to read through ~700 comments to check whether this has been answered before*

    Has Sam Harris posted a reply anywhere about his reference to autism in his blogpostarticlething? I’d hazard a guess he’s either got a rationale for having used the term or would apologize for (accidentally?) using the wrong one.

  191. melior says

    Objectivism is basically autism rebranded.

    That’s frickin’ awesome, 2nd best explanation of Randians evar!
    It’s enough to make me feel an urge to check one of Harris’s books out from the library.

  192. anteprepro says

    No, SyntheticSemantics, Harris has not issued an apology, explanation or retraction. At least not on his blog or Twitter…

    Mildly related: Fuck off, melior.

  193. maureen.brian says

    SyntheticSemantics,

    If you do not have time to read 717 comments over eight days then you do not have time to have a discussion or any idea whether your thoughts are relevant at this stage.

    Psst! It might be quicker to ask Harris whether he has apologised rather than expect the rest of us to do your work.

  194. SyntheticSemantics says

    Thanks for the reply, anteprepro.
    On that note, maureen.brian, the one time I got a reply from Harris on anything it was around a month after I had asked him the question, so maybe asking him isn’t the fastest way of finding things out, but asking him is something I hadn’t thought of and seems like a good idea, so I think I’ll try that. Thanks for the advice!

  195. mark says

    Oh well… using Firefox, this site does not show a means by which to reply to specific posts. How lame.

    Msg #716 “Carlie” says:

    “Because we live in a democracy? Is that a trick question?”

    Any notion that we live in a democracy is simply an indication of the state of delusion in the mind of the speaker. Did you vote to attack Iraq? Afghanistan? Were you even given an option for “single payer health care”? No you were not. In fact the last five administrations have been so close on foreign policy and so destructive in our internal policies as to be indistinguishable. You have simply chosen to drink the “we live in a democracy” kool aid.

    Now (again I say “so called left”) is tarring Cindy Sheehan as “racist” because she opposes the wars. Amusing. Shows the deep hypocrisy of those of you who elected this horrible administration. It has robbed you, involved you ever more criminal actions overseas (yes, your taxes are paying to kill innocent children), and you’re still trusting the state. “Hope” is I believe your rallying cry. Have you seen the state of thos sorry bumper stickers lately – entirely faded. Ironic.

  196. mark says

    “Myeck Waters” – msg #714 provides a marvelous illustration of how infantile personnas come into possession of a computer.

    He/she appears not to understand that as long as the Internet infrastructure exists, that the underlying concept espoused on this web site could be discussed into the next millenium.

    I came to see this web site only a few days ago. I don’t suppose “Myeck” that you understand this idea do you?

    Cowardly… heeheehee. What a rube.

  197. John Morales says

    “mark”, first, you’ve just replied to a specific comment by virtue of referring to the comment number, so you’re wrong about not being able to do so.

    Second, the USA is a representative rather than a direct democracy; this means people elect the government rather than specifically vote for policies.

    You have simply chosen to drink the “we live in a democracy” kool aid.

    You simply demonstrate you’re ignorant and confused, unlike Carlie.

  198. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Mark, you don’t know what a ‘persona’ is, do ya? :)

    He certainly doesn’t understand what ‘irony’ is, using ‘ironic’ when he means ‘symbolic’.

  199. Patrick Elliott says

    #713: Bloody hell. 2.5% of the wealth is in the hands of 90% of the country, the rest is in the hands of “everyone else”. Those 90%, are all one paycheck away from poverty, would be working jobs less than the inadequate minimum wage, if companies could do that, many of them don’t have car insurance, even if they do have a crappy car (I have talk with more than a few in this situation), because it would be the choice between food that month, or rent, or insurance payments (even as those payments keep going up, and up, for everyone), never mind health insurance. We are talking about asking someone to give up a few dollars they won’t spend anyway, to protect the lives, health, and well being, of fellow humans, who, often, literally don’t have one extra dime to their name, never mind a few dollars.

    What is the *current* reality? The current reality is that most of those people, even if we have a flat rate, without changes in other parts of the tax code, right now, may pay 0%, by the time all the numbers are crunched, just like those damn poor people. The “solution” the non-left wants – take money from everyone, no matter how poor, don’t close any loopholes at all, and then **lower** the tax rate, for all those people that are paying less than they are supposed to, so that, if everyone was paying 10%, everyone from the dead poor, to the middle class, would be paying 10%, while the rich, you think are being so ill treated, would pay 2%.

    Or, as one comedian recently put it, you can increase the rich by a fraction, and get $700 billion, or you could make the poor pay 50% of everything they ever make, and get the same $700 billion. Or, better yet, just take everything, and double that amount to $1.4 trillion.

    Some of us actually think that this whole “civilization” thing is a great idea, and realize that it tends to work better when the people *with* money, instead of sitting on the castle coffers, actually shows some sort of patronage to the damn country, by providing money the rest of us damn well can’t. When you make that “voluntary”, so many people seem to imagine would work so well, what you end up with is one pious asshole “sponsoring” the building of a cathedral, like the old days of lords, while half the country starves. Because, feeding thousands of random people, who probably have no damn effect on you at all, is way less *impressive* than a 3 story monstrosity, dedicated to ignorance, and useless to anyone but the priests, and the guy that got prestige for building it.

    We tried that, for quite a long time. Oddly, it seems to eventually lead all those “insignificant” people getting pissed off at the ruling family, but it takes *centuries* for people to get that angry about it, and stop listen to people lying to them about how much better they will be when the new monstrosity is built (ostensibly, somehow, for them).

    #724: Must be talking about that “other” left. You know, the one that, unlike nearly everyone here, who call those wars misguided, badly conducted, and, in the case of one of them, illegal from the second it started, to the moment we decided to not close the damn Cuban internment camp that came out of it (as well, of course, as the complete refusal to charge anyone involved). Yeah, its that “other” left, that didn’t so much as even protest them. Right?

  200. Patrick Elliott says

    #713: BTW, that is the “other” side of your coin, that you don’t seem to want to address. Every single human, or corporation, would get everything *free* if it could, and when it can’t, at the lowest damn price possible. And, that means simultaneously trying to get as much as you possibly can from someone, while giving them, and the ones selling it for you, and making it for you, as damn little as you can get by with.

    Hint: Someone with a billion dollars, don’t, generally, have a damn clue what the hell is “fair” to those people. They just see how many people will buy something, and if they won’t, how to cut costs, to sell it to more, even if those people they sell too are **not** their own employees. When it comes to thinking in a group, people tend to be absolute idiots, without clear rules to go by, usually learned through failure, and relearned by every new generation, who imagines they have a better damn idea what the bottom 90% can “afford”, will be willing to buy, or will bloody put up with, before protesting. No generation has *ever* gotten that right ****ever****, without making major mistakes, sometimes serious enough to end those corporations you imagine are so much smarter than “individuals”. The later, which is close enough to the problem, that they can recognize it, and make the choice to now make obscene profits, and everyone else’s expense. But, not when isolated, at the top of a group, where all they ever see of the people their decisions effects is a column of numbers, indicated how much “productivity” they are getting out of their workers, and thus, how many the can afford to fire, to make up for one of those mistakes.

  201. ichthyic says

    You have simply chosen to drink the “we live in a democracy” kool aid.

    indeed, the US is not and was never intended to be a democracy, and you are also right that the idea of “democracy” spouted by politicians in the US is little more than kool aid.

    I don’t think the word even appears in either the DOI or the Constitution, for that matter.

    the US is built on the idea of representative government; a republic, not a democracy.

    that said, you seem to imply that having a pure democracy would be a GOOD thing, whereas most people who have thought about it for more than a second or two (including the writers of the US constitution) realize that it ain’t so.

    for about the tenth time today (given the current referendum passing through Mississippi right now), I again make the recommendation to read John Stuart Mill’s old essay: “On Liberty”, specifically focusing on the sections defining the “tyranny of the majority”.

  202. ichthyic says

    …which is basically repeating what John Morales said @ 727.

    but then, there are freaking over 700 posts in this thread already, so everything that can be said probably already has been anyway.

  203. ichthyic says

    ..without even scanning further, I’ll just go with whatever Tis Himself said in this thread.

    It’s likely informed, accurate, and already reflects what I would have thought anyway, and probably stated better too.

  204. mark says

    John Morales… no, I think I’m pretty clear on what a persona is:
    per·so·naNoun/pərˈsōnə/
    1. The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.
    2. A role or character adopted by an author or an actor.

    You know… a fake like you.

    I’m also fairly clear on assholes, they look like this * and seem to be overflowing the cache here.

  205. mark says

    Dildo #729

    >… Oh well… using Firefox, this site does not show a
    means by which to reply to specific posts. How lame.

    >Here’s a link to your post #724 which I made using a Firefox add-on.

    >Here’s a link to the add-on, bbcodeXtra. Of course here one uses the htmlXtra function, but it’s part of bbcodeXtra.

    >So your use of Firefox is as lame as your understanding of how Western democracy works.

    So you provide a Unix-era programming hack needed because the blog interface sucks (undoubtedly capping it all off with a sense that you’re intelligent) – and you think that increases the effectiveness of your response.

  206. mark says

    Patrick Elliot #731:

    So your shrill response is one that I could have written myself. I am a believer that wealth that is acquired by more than one person should be shared “equitably”. I believe that 40 billion dollars sitting in the hands of one individual was not produced by that individual and should be shared among the real producers of that wealth. This attitude on my part should place me well outside of consideration as some kind of Bible thumping libertarian nonsense.

    My original post is specifically asking a question: Who does the taxing. For some reason the rather infantile and uncritical audience participating here is of a mind that there is a god who somehow supervises the government and makes them “do right.”

    It is amusing that there is a debate on the issue of “direct democracy” vs. “the republic” here… amusing because it is so preposterous. Is someone really so deluded as to think that either exists now?

    The US is becoming a neo-fascist corporate-controlled empire over night. The wars are its byproducts. There is no substantial anti-war movement at all. There appears to be only a ship of fools, those for and against one another, riding on the barge called “Status Quo.” Punching and flailing at one another, as the David Rockefellars, Soroses, and Rothschilds have a chuckle.

    The current administration is virtually no different from the last. There is certainly nothing like a “direct democracy” and certainly nothing like a republic. I am kind of surprised that my rhetoric on the subject turned into strictly ad hominem attack, but this only reflects the readership. I hope you all enjoy your massive circle jerk. This Fall should be quite a journey for you. Have fun.

  207. mark says

    Oh, and #730, the asshole “Forbidden Snowflake” appears confused about the term irony… of course his/her missing the reference only elucidates his/her confusion…

    The Obama campaign bumper sticker “HOPE” – faded nearly to illegibility, is most certainly ironic. It is by its very presence, Unhopeful… (so shove it straight up your forbidden ass)

    If it is symbolic, that remains to be seen in the next election.

  208. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Sure, Mark. A bumper sticker that fades is totally ironic. Reminds me of this totally ironic thing that happened to me a few days ago, when I brought a tomato to work for lunch and intended to slice it, but the place where I was eating the lunch was a coffee corner, so it had a shit-ton of fucking spoons and not a single knife!* Can you believe it? So ironic, right?

    *True story

  209. Kagehi says

    My original post is specifically asking a question: Who does the taxing. For some reason the rather infantile and uncritical audience participating here is of a mind that there is a god who somehow supervises the government and makes them “do right.”

    In principle, that god is “the people”, in practice, it is the law, which attempts to place some sort of control over things, and, as desired by those with most of the money, they would like god to be themselves. This is one reason civilizations don’t last too well. We could have lost it during the last depression, but someone with a sound mind made some adjustments, and new law, which reset the clock. We could lose it this time, if certain people manage to convince the public to vote them into power, and the presidency. I consider this touch and go though. Its going to come down to whether they can lie better, and faster, than others can tell the truth, and thus, how many people end up proving themselves ignorant enough to believe the liars, instead of the people telling “some” truth.

    I will note that, like nearly everyone that thinks the “government” is a bad way to handle such decisions, you have zero, zip, and **zilch** replacements. In fact, the closest anyone that argues against the federal government taxing people ever comes to saying who should, is to mention the state government as an alternative. Imagine Texas, under Perry, if the fed couldn’t require anyone there to do anything, including paying taxes into national level problems… But, heh, lets not let the state get too big either. We will just hand it off to “city” governments, like the one here, the two most notable things, one that bugs me, since I don’t have a car, and one that just leaves me sitting in incomprehension, are – 1. Closing down public buses to the mall at 3PM, so that every single person without a vehicle has to pay $9, or 1.25 hours worth of work time (for most of them), to go home, instead of $1, for the public bus. 2. A few years back **misplacing** a million dollars of city money, which they didn’t seem to ever “find”, just replaced, by scrounging it up out of other departments.

    Now, the fed, seems to me, isn’t even that incompetent. You hear about them “borrowing”, but not returning, money from various programs, but imagine if they *misplaced* the equivalent of that, which, scaling up from city level of income, to federal, would probably be like $1 billion? Would anyone seriously just shrug their shoulders, and say, “Ah, well, that is government for you!”, if the fed lost $1 billion dollars, and couldn’t find it? Somehow, I don’t think so. Hell, even misplacing a million, like the city here did, would probably shake the hornets nest enough to create real havoc on the federal level, and that is “probably” 1,000 times less than what the equivalent would have been *for* the fed, if they “lost” it somehow.

    You work with what you are forced to give the power to do this stuff, and you try damn hard to control it, while its controlling other things. But, there ****isn’t**** any alternative, and making the damn thing smaller, without addressing *why* it got that big, doesn’t do anything but being back the very problems it was expanded to fix.

    Oh, and… odds are damn good that what ever you “think” it is doing that it doesn’t need to be, there are a few hundred that it never should have started, which you will never hear about, from any of the people elected to be there, or which will be defended, for one reason or another, if they are uncovered. Like, certain provisions involving domestic spying…

  210. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Mark:

    no, I think I’m pretty clear on what a persona is:
    1. The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.
    2. A role or character adopted by an author or an actor.

    Really. Let’s substitute:

    1. “Myeck Waters” – msg #714 provides a marvelous illustration of how infantile aspects of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others come into possession of a computer.

    2. “Myeck Waters” – msg #714 provides a marvelous illustration of how infantile role or character adopted by an author or an actor come into possession of a computer.

    Hm. Since neither “aspects of character” nor “roles adopted” are concrete entities, care to explain how you think that such abstractions come into possession of a computer?

    (Of course, had you written ‘persons’, your claim would make sense)

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  212. Ha Gerondale says

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  213. KG says

    Are you cognizant that the current administration via sleight of ham-hand… looted the taxpayers in 2008 – mark

    Well, mark, I’m sure we’re all impressed by how immensely superior you consider yourself to everyone else, but you might have noticed that the present administration did not enter office until 2009.