The Lyon hypothesis, nicely illustrated »« [Lounge #468]

Comments

  1. raven says

    Xpost from the Brayton blog today, discussing the Brownback Disaster in Kansas where Loonytarianism, Laffer, and Supply Side Fallacies claims another victim.

    The ultrarich and their puppets, fundie xianity, the Tea Party, and the GOP have declaared war on us. We are in it just by being alive and in the USA.

    PS: I’ve decided that I’m an Admiral in the Class Wars.

    …while screwing the rest of us is class warfare!

    That it is.

    And we are all soldiers in the class wars just by being alive and in the USA.

    I myself am a Colonel on the People’s side. (Actually it is more like a Sargent, but since it isn’t very organized, people are able to claim any rank they want.)

    Right now the People have been losing since the 1970′s at least, as economic inequality keeps increasing and the middle class shrinks. But the Perpetual War never ends so that isn’t necessarily going to always be the case.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    Because what laughably passes for a left in this country is afraid of conflict and that drum circles and mystic crystal revelations will accomplish anything.

  3. says

    Who responded to charges of engaging in class warfare with something along these lines:

    Class warfare? The plutocrats started waging class warfare decades ago. Don’t we get to fight back?

  4. Steve LaBonne says

    The only thing wrong with class warfare is is that the 99% are losing, badly.

  5. unclefrogy says

    I started to say something about preventing the negative aspects of income disparity and help to insure the prosperity and stability of the U.S. but I could not think of anything that we would in all reality agree to do.
    help me out here does anyone have any ideas or opinions about what positive things we might actually do to improve things short term or long term.
    uncle frogy

  6. brett says

    Go ask your fellow Americans. They’re the ones who don’t seem to have much of an appetite for stuff like labor organizing or protests, or for overturning laws that constrict the ability of unions to organize (such as Taft-Hartley, which wasn’t flipped despite decades of Democratic majorities in Congress as well as the Presidency). Contrast that with China, where you have tons of unofficial wildcat strikes to get around the fact that the official union of China is a corrupt arm of the CCP.

    At best we get stuff like the Minimum Wage and Obamacare. Not bad, but not exactly major – and we can’t even really seem to get income taxes up to the levels that other rich countries have (the 40-50% range).

  7. moarscienceplz says

    help me out here does anyone have any ideas or opinions about what positive things we might actually do to improve things short term or long term.

    Easy peasy. The first $250K in capital gains income get little or no tax, in order to protect retirees. The rest gets taxed as least as much as earned income. Why should some rich man’s son pay less tax per dollar received on money that just rolls in every quarter than someone who actually works for it?

  8. unclefrogy says

    moarscienceplz
    that sounds like a nice step to take but as they say goes it has about as much a chance to become new law as pigs to fly.

    Have they actually passed a minimum wage law yet or is it just a proposal that will go now where but just endless debate and if passed will have so may exceptions as to be almost completely worthless.
    uncle frogy

  9. Chris J says

    I don’t think there is just one thing to do. A whole bunch of laws have been developed over the years, each one making things worse. Corporate person-hood, removing the limit on campaign contributions, attacks on unions, nearly all of tax law…

    The only solid start (in my mind) is to focus on campaign financing, lobbying, and the “revolving door” that exists in some places where retiring politicians get offered lucrative positions based on what they voted for while in office. We need to get politicians to listen to us before we can make any changes. Then smart people can get together and work out feasible solutions for the broader problem of income inequality.

    The 1% have rigged the game already. We need to unrig it first.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    uncle frogy,
    Yes. All hope is lost, let’s all just hand the keys to the White House to the Koch brothers and start selling apples on street corners. Let’s not try to discuss with out representatives how to improve things, and let’s definitely not try to vote for someone better.

  11. says

    Here’s a current example of the many ways in which Republicans seize every opportunity to further rig the game:

    The latest proposal, which passed the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, works like this: If you change corporate pension funding rules to let companies set aside less money today to pay for future benefits, they will report higher taxable profits. And if they have higher taxable profits, they will pay more in taxes over the 10-year budget window that Congress uses to write laws. Those added taxes can be diverted to the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

    Unfortunately, this gimmick will also result in corporations paying less in taxes in later years, when they have to make up for the pension payments they’re missing now. But if it happens more than 10 years in the future, it doesn’t count in Congress’s method for calculating budget balance. “Fiscal responsibility,” as popularly defined in Washington, ignores anything that happens after 2024.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/upshot/this-road-work-made-possible-by-underfunding-pensions.html

    […] For years, the Highway Trust Fund has been financed by a federal gas tax, which made a fair amount of sense – the idea was to create a system in which drivers paid for roads, and this was the most direct solution.

    But Republicans have rejected efforts to raise the tax every year for over two decades. And since it isn’t adjusted for inflation, the purchasing power of the current gas tax is down to about 63% of what it was in 1993 – and dropping more every year.

    Raise the gas tax and the Highway Trust Fund will be fine. Refuse to raise the gas tax and we’re left with “creative” approaches that allow corporations to underfund pensions.

    Making matters slightly worse, let’s not forget that Republicans are relying on so-called “pension smoothing” to keep the Highway Trust Fund from going broke, but Republicans have also condemned this exact same policy when Democrats offered to use it to pay for unemployment benefits.

    In other words, Republicans hate this fiscally irresponsible gimmick – except when they think they need it, at which point it’s fine. […]

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/good-news-bad-news-the-highway-trust-fund

  12. Jon Mitchell says

    Chris J at 9
    also term limits, limiting the use of ‘inside’ information by members of congress for investments, etc. If all members of congress were not IN(are soon to be in) the top 1% maybe they’d pay a little more attention to rest of us?

  13. krambc says

    “A buck is a buck”
    Kenneth Carter – Royal Commission on Taxation 1962 http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/royal-commission-on-taxation/
    .

    This was perhaps the last gasp of the Progressive Party policies from before WW1 and David Lloyd George’s People’s Budget 1909, strongly influenced by ‘Progress and Prosperity’ by Henry George.

    The dissolution of post-WW2 Bretton-Woods economic structure by Nixon’s monetary policies (1971-75; the petrodollar) and anti-NewDeal social policies by Thatcher-Reagan (esp 1981 interest rates) has been a classic example of the boiling frog syndrome. But resistance continues to be fertile:

    The guaranteed annual income – the ‘mincome’ experiment in the 1970s;
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/1970s-manitoba-poverty-experiment-called-a-success-1.868562

    And it continues to attract serious consideration:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/should-canada-have-a-guaranteed-annual-income/article4348951/

    Shifting taxes onto un-earned income (inheritance /capital gains/ usury-interest ) and off economic activity (wages / spending) would require a revival of rental charges for natural monopolies (the earth; its commonwealth of minerals; the electromagnetic spectrum etc) through a Land Value charge :
    http://www.landvaluetax.org
    .

    The FIRE (Finance / Insurances / Real Estate ) sectors and their minions in government object most vigorously. These are the parasitic “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” ( Matt Taibibi)
    These people will never agree to any proposal that would increase economic prosperity and social progress – so don’t bother trying to please them.

  14. John Horstman says

    @unclefrogy #5: [Note: I see later you indicated you are thinking more along the line of something that could actually pass our current legislature. We have zero options there, as our political process is thoroughly corrupt.]
    I would like to see a shift in the income tax progression that scales from 0% on the first $40,000 to 100% on everything over $1,000,000, scheduled to cap net income at $500,000 (or $300,000 – I can’t remember where I settled when I ran the tax number on this a couple years ago). It should consider all sources of income, and apply to both corporations (actually, I’d like to abolish the corporate model entirely, but that’s even less likely; reinvestment into value-building assets like equipment or land/buildings would not be a deduction, but capital depreciation could still off-set net income to allow for accrual of money to maintain and even slowly expand the infrastructure necessary for the business to operate) and people at exactly the same rates. This would intentionally limit the growth of existing corporations severely and remove almost all incentive for stock/commodity (and derivatives thereof) speculation, forcing market valuation to more closely track human utility value. This would also force many more people to engage in labor that is useful to someone for something other than simply making money – it wouldn’t completely eliminate the problem of making money (which is supposed to represent value added to a society) simply by virtue of owning things without actually engaging in any useful activity (i.e. capitalism), but it would limit the damage of capitalism by restricting the amount of exploitation and redirecting any excess back into the public trust, hopefully with an eye to help the worst-off the most. The benefits of market inequality (mediated by targeted regulation) as a motivator toward useful activity would still be preserved, since the difference between, say, $20,000 a year and $500,000 a year is vast, but directing much of our economic surplus (which would absolutely be severely curtailed by the collapse of the useless finance sector) back to pro-social ends would allow for a much better guaranteed income floor both for people who can find jobs and those who can’t.

    An income cap of some sort is the only thing that can actually stop people from trying to game the system to exploit the labor of others for their own advantage on a large scale, as there is no incentive to engage in additional exploitation to make additional money once the cap has been hit.

  15. ButchKitties says

    I’d be really curious to see how the 1% would respond to this idea: We ditch the income and capital gains taxes. You keep every dollar you earn… while you’re alive. The tradeoff is that when you die, every dollar above X amount goes to the government. While you’re alive, you can write a will that allocates that amount in cash and/or property to your heirs as you see fit, or in absence of that it goes to your nearest relative. Everything above that limit is taxed at a rate of 100%, but you aren’t paying that tax. The people getting a free ride off your hard work are paying the tax.

    I don’t actually want to do this; in practice it would be a terrible idea even if they didn’t have a million ways to hide/shelter/export their money. But it would in many ways be what conservatives claim is their ideal. Nobody would ever pay taxes on money that they themselves had earned, and the limit would be high enough that majority of inheritors would still never have to pay an estate tax. Somehow I suspect that even in the complete absence of an income tax, estate taxes would be still not only be called, “death taxes,” they would be called double taxation, cuz of sales tax ‘n stuff.

  16. Rich Woods says

    @unclefrogy #5:

    help me out here does anyone have any ideas or opinions about what positive things we might actually do to improve things short term or long term.

    Given the right-wing media’s grip on the thinking of most of the population, I doubt you’d make much real and lasting progress without resorting to nooses and lampposts. And, even if you were able to set aside your conscience and do that, the right-wing would still be able to mobilise most of the gun nuts to stop you. One way or another, it would be a bloodbath with no guarantee of any improvement.

    And on that optimistic note, I’m going to go find a post-apocalyptic film to watch to cheer me up.

  17. robro says

    Class war? Another dog whistle. What’s surprising and frustrating is how successful the Rich White Man Party is at getting the average American to sabotage their own interests with this kind of language. I guess playing on fear is always a safe bet.

  18. raven says

    Class war? Another dog whistle

    It’s also reality. All you need to know about the US class war:

    1. It was declared by the rich about the time the USA started.

    2. You are in it whether you like it or not just be existing in the USA.

    3. The 99% (that is us) have been losing for the last 5 decades.

  19. dickspringer says

    How about confiscatory inheritance taxes? The right talks all the time about how giving poor people money they haven”t earned destroys their character. The same must be true of rich kids. We must do more to protect the character of rich kids.

    BTW, it slows or stops the development of a hereditary ruling class.

  20. caesar says

    I’m firmly opposed to any confiscatory taxes or arbitrary limits on what a person is allowed to make. I prefer that the amount of income and wealth a person can potentially make be primarily dependant on the market, as opposed to some bureaucracy. Although the market isn’t entirely free of human bias, it’s in my opinion more free from bias and corruption than any bureaucracy.

  21. says

    Of course caesar the libertarian-like fool is against taxation. Of course he doesn’t seem to mind reaping the benefits of taxation. Robert Nielsen (the guy who compiled the list of 10 “tough” questions for atheists) is an economist along with being an atheist. He has this to say about taxation:

    It is not theft if you receive something in return. If someone steals my car, that is theft. If I have to sell my car in order to pay my rent, that is not theft. Libertarians sometimes act as though taxes disappear into a black hole and are never seen again. In reality, we receive from the government protection and a commitment to justice. We also receive education, healthcare, transportation, safe food, employment protection and enforcement of contracts. There is also redistribution and welfare in the event of sickness, poverty and old age. So libertarians make the bizarre argument that the government is a thief who gives more than he steals (due to economic inequality most people receive more than they pay in taxes).

    Furthermore, what sort of thief lets you decide how your money is spent or how much he takes? If I told a car thief that myself and the neighbours had decided that he shouldn’t take my car, would he listen? Yet the government is subject to the will of the people. We choose whether we want our taxes to be higher or lower when we vote. Based on the failure of libertarians to win elections, most people seem quite content with taxation. There’s nothing stopping a libertarian party from being set up and winning an election. If taxation really was theft, then such a party would easily win a landslide and could promptly end the theft. A key element of the definition of theft is that the victim does not consent to it. But if people do not vote for parties that promise to reduce taxes, but instead for parties that keep taxes at the current level, then must not consider themselves the victims of theft. They must consent to taxes.

    But a libertarian would argue that they never agreed to this. Even if they receive more than they pay, they never consented to pay anything. But that is an implicit part of citizenship. Being a citizen comes with rights and responsibilities. You have a right to protection and certain services but also a responsibility to pay for these services. You have a right to vote but a responsibility to accept the result even if your party does not win. Sure I never consented to being a citizen of Ireland, but then again I never consented to capitalism either. I never agreed to live in a society with either democracy or private property. I never agreed to elections being held every five years or the current distribution of property. Do we have to have a social revolution every time someone disagrees with the way things are? The fact is that there are lots of things we never agreed to, but have to live with. We have to live under some sort of political and economic system that will be to some extent arbitrary, but it simply isn’t feasible to have everyone make up their own rules.

    The problem with most libertarian arguments is that it assumes we have only rights but no responsibilities. It assumes that we have no duties to the poor, the sick, the elderly or even to children. If a man was starving and a libertarian had two loaves of bread, he wouldn’t share it with the man unless he felt like it. That is not a political ideology but a mental problem called sociopathology. We do have responsibilities to others in society and the government exists to enforce them. Our common humanity unites us and means that the suffering of others is our suffering too. We cannot rest easy if the streets outside our house are full of destitute. A libertarian world would be a cold and empty one, where people sit alone counting their money, blind to poverty, hunger and misery.

    Libertarians make the mistake of thinking of people as isolated individuals isolated from the rest of the world. They act as though, I and I alone earned my wage and therefore it belongs to no one else. In reality, we are hugely dependent on others and society. Would we earn anywhere near enough money if we did not have public roads, education, health, energy etc? I did not create everything myself, but instead built on the work of previous generations and worked alongside other members of society. No man is an island and there is no such thing as a self-made person, in reality we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We got to where we are today due to in large parts due to the society we live in, so it is only fair that we pay something to support it. If you don’t believe me, compare your life to what it would be if you lived in a Third World country? Isn’t it worth paying to avoid that?

    In reality, libertarians do not truly object to coercion or taxes, they only object to the government doing so. If a private landlord compelled people to live by onerous rules about drugs, guns and religion, libertarians would have no problem. Yet when the government does the same thing, libertarians are up in arms crying oppression. If a starving man agreed to work for half the normal wages because otherwise he would die, a libertarian praises the free market. If a man has to pay half his wages in taxes without which he would die, a libertarian is outraged. Every abuse of government power that libertarians rail against would still occur in a libertarian society, the only difference would be that it would be even worse. If the government was replaced by a private landlord, there would just as much coercion and arbitrary rules, without any of the democratic rights we currently have. The very notion of property is dependent on the state, without which we would be reduced the endless strife and the rule of the strongest. Taxes are a payment to support civilisation and avoid a descent into anarchy.

    Theft is the taking of assets of from people without their consent and giving nothing in return. Taxes on the other hand are consented to by citizens (as seen by their continual support for taxation parties and their refusal to vote for libertarian parties or move to tax havens) in exchange for services. Citizens choose the level of these taxes and where they go as well as consenting to abide by majority rule if their preferred option is not selected. Taxes are no more theft than rent is extortion, by living in that location we are agreeing to abide by its rules and pay the charges. If we don’t agree we can either change the rules or move.

  22. Rich Woods says

    @caesar #21:

    Although the market isn’t entirely free of human bias, it’s in my opinion more free from bias and corruption than any bureaucracy.

    You’re comparing apples with pears. It’s not a bureaucracy that is or would be setting the rules, it’s government. Just look at the rules they’re setting now, almost all in favour of their corporate backers. Legislators are increasingly bought by campaign money and votes garnored through disinformation and lies. Even the parts of government more closely characterised as bureaucracy are defanged by budget cuts and regulatory capture. The present system could hardly be more corrupt.

  23. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m firmly opposed to any confiscatory taxes or arbitrary limits on what a person is allowed to make.

    And I firmly don’t give a shit about the stupid opinion of a liberturd. Why shouldn’t it be a crime to make obscene amounts of money? Money enough to live on yes. But even fifty million? No way.

  24. RobertL says

    What’s wrong indeed? I’m of the belief that a defensive war is a moral war, and the 1% have been attacking us for decades.

    To the barricades!

  25. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Caesar’s brand of capitalism would have Adam Smith spinning in his grave–hell, even Gordon Gecko would look askance. Smith only said that greed was good when it could be harnessed to achieve some useful societal purpose. Caesar tears the harness of the horses and says, “Look at ‘em go.” But to what end–all they do is churn up the mud and slow the progress of society as a whole down.

  26. Amphiox says

    Although the market isn’t entirely free of human bias, it’s in my opinion more free from bias and corruption than any bureaucracy.

    This statement can only be said by someone putrilely ignorant of what markets are, what markets do, what bureaucracy is, what bureaucracy does, and how the two interact.

    Because they are not alternatives to one another. Indeed, since the invention of paper and writing, bureaucracy underpins all markets, and indeed is REQUIRED for markets to run at all.

  27. Zeppelin says

    Excellent political cabaret artist Volker Pispers calculated at one point that if you confiscated the money of everyone in Germany (just money, not even other assets), used it to pay off our national debt, and then distributed the remainder evenly among all citizens, everyone would end up with…I lie if I say I remember. 35000€ in the bank? 65000€? Something like that, anyway. A huge step up for the vast majority of the population, in any case.

    As he pointed out, “But of course this is a democracy, so you couldn’t possibly get support for a policy that would directly benefit 90% of the population.”

  28. says

    a_ray:

    But to what end–all they do is churn up the mud and slow the progress of society as a whole down.

    When you’re only concerned for yourself, you don’t care about how society does or does not progress. That’s the good ole liberturdian motto.

  29. caesar says

    @24:

    And I firmly don’t give a shit about the stupid opinion of a liberturd.

    If that was true then you could’ve just ignored me, like an intelligent person would have.

    Why shouldn’t it be a crime to make obscene amounts of money?

    Why should it? If I can become very wealthy through my labor being of value to someone, or through inheritance, or through being a shrewd investor, then why shouldn’t I? I say that my potential earnings should be between me, myself, and I. Everybody else should mind their own fucking business.

  30. Zeppelin says

    @30 caesar

    Because it’s harmful to society and the well-being of other people, that’s why. And your money only has value because society agrees that it does. Its value derives from the people you are harming by hoarding it, and so they have an interest in and a moral right to control your use and accumulation of it.

    Not that I’m looking to get involved in this dumb debate *again*, but I would have thought the answer would be obvious even if you don’t agree with it.

  31. opposablethumbs says

    Tony! @22 Thank you for that, it’s outstanding. And so is Zeppelin’s ref.

  32. caesar says

    @22:You said a whole lotta nothing in that novel you posted. Once again, I’m not against paying taxes. The problem that your post doesn’t address is that tax policy, like all government policies, is not just about merely providing basic services to people. Governments also enact policies for the purpose of effecting social change. Changing social or economic norms, necessarily splits people into at least 2 sides, with the ultimate result being that the policy that gets enacted is the one with the most influence behind it, not necessarily the one that’s right (whether morally or logically). The point I’m making, as far as the topic of this thread, is that I consider arbitrary income limits, or confiscatory taxation to be an attack by one group (those that claim to represent the 99%) on another group (The 1%) which is practically portrayed as being actively antagonistic towards the 99%.

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Who gives a shit what the liberturd troll caesar thinks, since there is nothing but slogans there?

  34. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If I can become very wealthy through my labor being of value to someone, or through inheritance,

    I’ve thought for years that the inheritance tax should be 100% over $500,000. The journey of life is important, not how much money your family made by screwing over others and not sharing the wealth properly.

  35. caesar says

    @32:

    Because it’s harmful to society and the well-being of other people, that’s why. And your money only has value because society agrees that it does. Its value derives from the people you are harming by hoarding it, and so they have an interest in and a moral right to control your use and accumulation of it.

    I strongly disagree with this sentiment. I consider a society where one can make millions “potentially by, say playing basketball for a living, to be far less harmful than a society where your income or wealth is limited by someone else’s opinion on what constitutes fair compensation. If Lebron can make hundreds of millions of dollars playing basketball, then that is good for him and society because it means that something that ordinarily would be worth little to no money, can potentially be worth an enormous amount if one is good enough. And with the exposure one can get today, it’s far easier than it used to be to attain Lebron’s level of success.

  36. raven says

    I see the Gibbertarian boring, boring, boring!!! derail has started.

    They say being bored to death is an idiom but whoever said that never read Loonytarian crap hundreds of times over many decades.

    If any of you notice your heart stopping, just call INT-911 and they will send a cardiac rescue squad out.

  37. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The “death taxes” should be used to give all 18-year-olds a boost up. College money, job training money, money for a marriage/honeymoon/house. What ever is needed. That way educations can be obtained without debt, (wonders of wonders, in Europe where medical training is paid for the doctors set up practice with zero debt, compared to a quarter to half a million debt in this country). Apprenticeships can be completed without debt. Housing can be obtained to start families. All good things.

    Guess which area has the lower costs for doctors visits???? Hint, try the continent near Asia and Africa….

  38. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @caesar #39:

    If Lebron can make hundreds of millions of dollars playing basketball, then that is good for him and society because it means that something that ordinarily would be worth little to no money, can potentially be worth an enormous amount if one is good enough. And with the exposure one can get today, it’s far easier than it used to be to attain Lebron’s level of success.

    Alright, I’ll bite. How is Lebron making hundreds of millions of dollars a good thing for society?

  39. sparks says

    There is no class war. The 1 percenters have all of it and always have had. The only reason we are aware of anything being amiss is that the 1 percenters are going through a cranky phase right about now. This is what it means to share the planet with 7 billion others.

    Not very pretty, is it?

  40. moarscienceplz says

    The funny thing about this (funny sad, not funny haha), is that those 1%ers who are trying so hard to avoid paying taxes are doing it for nothing. Neither the Koch brothers nor Sheldon Adelson will see any material benefit from adding to their piles. There already is no food, no clothes, no cars, no mansions, that are beyond their means. All they are achieving is ensuring they will be spending ever more time in board meetings.
    Sure, they will pass more money to their heirs, but so what? Each new generation will become more and more likely to see riches as their birthright, and once that happens, the asset pile is doomed, no matter how large it started out being.
    All these guys are accomplishing is to ensure they will be reviled or sneered at by future generations.

  41. consciousness razor says

    Governments also enact policies for the purpose of effecting social change.

    How utterly terrifying that must be for you.

    Changing social or economic norms, necessarily splits people into at least 2 sides, with the ultimate result being that the policy that gets enacted is the one with the most influence behind it, not necessarily the one that’s right (whether morally or logically).

    Fuck, what a load of useless, pathetic bullshit. So you’re opposed to democracy. So the fuck what?

    It’s a little odd that any market-based solution (or really anything at all, this being such a stupidly vague claim) is also “not necessarily the one that’s right,” yet it isn’t even something anyone ever actually decides to do. It only happens on accident, if at all, by magical forces you do not even attempt to explain. If I had to pick between “not necessarily right” things that people actually can control (which we have every right to do even though we’ll make mistakes) on the one hand, and your magical-thinking nonsense on the other, I know which I would pick every fucking time. You want economic faith-healing, and that shit doesn’t fucking work.

  42. Rey Fox says

    Although the market isn’t entirely free of human bias, it’s in my opinion more free from bias and corruption than any bureaucracy.

    Well, you’ve demonstrated time and time again that your opinion is worthless.

  43. says

    moarscienceplz #7

    The first $250K in capital gains income get little or no tax, in order to protect retirees.

    Or, you know, Social Security…
    (or a guaranteed minimum income, of course).
    Zeppelin 28

    Excellent political cabaret artist Volker Pispers calculated at one point that if you confiscated the money of everyone in Germany (just money, not even other assets), used it to pay off our national debt,

    There’s no actual reason to do this, or to want to. Debt is an integral part of an economy, and a valuable tool on the macroeconomic scale. Governments carrying debt is not a crisis, it is a part of doing their job. (The same is true of most businesses, especially larger ones, incidentally). Not all means of incurring debt are equal, of course, and it’s totally possible to incur problematic debt( the tab the U.S. government ran up for murdering several hundred thousand Iraquis and Afghanis leaps to mind immediately as an example), but if a)the interest rate on the debt is less than the rate of inflation (the latter of which should ideally be pegged to roughly match growth of the economy, but that’s a digression), and/or b) the money is being spent on something that will increase economic activity and thus future tax revenue, then taking on debt is the responsible thing for the government to do.

  44. robro says

    raven @ #18

    It’s also reality.

    Indeed, and of course, it has been reality for a long time, long before the founding of this country. But I’m convinced that when the mouth pieces of the Rich White Man Party use the phrase, they are blowing their dog whistle.The RWMP and their media empire are cynically using the phrase to enflame the fears of not-so-rich white people. Sadly, it seems to work. Although the not-so-rich white people have nothing in common with the RWMP, they appear ready to shoot themselves in the foot and stand their ground for the likes of the Koch brothers, the Romneys, and a host of similar scoundrels.

  45. anteprepro says

    If that was true then you could’ve just ignored me, like an intelligent person would have.

    Well at least caesar knows that every intelligent person should ignore him. That’s probably one of the only things he is gotten right. Congratulations on almost growing self-awareness, you amoral fuckwit.

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What I find utterly amusing the fallacy of the small entrepreneur that the liberturds keep tossing out. It would be easy to have to country of small entrepreneurs, namely don’t let them over accumulate and pass on wealth. Let’s give seed money to all those young would-be garage, bakery, coffee shop, etc., owners, so that they can open a shop and have sufficient capital to last to the critical two years and find their clientele. Who cares if the old non-hip owners go bankrupt?
    But somehow providing for a true level playing field, with no inheritance, seems like a big problem to the free market folks. Almost like they don’t want a totally free market, but one with enough barriers to keep out the “riff-raff”, instead of allowing them to compete on a truly level playing field where they know they will lose….

  47. anteprepro says

    The first rule of class war is do not talk about class war, unless you are rich.
    Second rule of class war is do not engage in class war, unless you are rich.
    Third rule of class war is suck it up, unless you are rich.
    Fourth rule of class war is no handouts, unless you are rich.
    Fifth rule of class war is stop being such a victim, unless you are rich.
    Sixth rule of class war is you are a communist who is just jealous and wants to punish success.
    Seventh rule of class war is: Heads the rich win, Tails the poor lose.

  48. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the need of gvmnt’ to provide national health care from payroll taxes, including the present health care contributions from companies. Every company who employs even one person should be paying their fair share of their employees health care costs. And if the gvmnt’ does it, no 15% set-aside for profits and gross executive salaries is present, so even more people can be covered for the same cost….

  49. says

    John Horstman @14

    Aha! I see a kindred spirit has popped up here. I don’t know if your means are clearly a way to your ends but I do agree with those ends (my bolding):

    … intentionally limit the growth of existing corporations severely and remove almost all incentive for stock/commodity (and derivatives thereof) speculation, forcing market valuation to more closely track human utility value. This would also force many more people to engage in labor that is useful to someone for something other than simply making money – it wouldn’t completely eliminate the problem of making money (which is supposed to represent value added to a society) simply by virtue of owning things without actually engaging in any useful activity (i.e. capitalism), but it would limit the damage of capitalism by restricting the amount of exploitation and redirecting any excess back into the public trust

  50. inquiringlaurence says

    Is it just me, or do they censor ‘fuck’ every other episode uploaded onto Youtube?

  51. ck says

    There is no class war. The 1 percenters have all of it [...]

    Right, we’re in the occupation stage. The 1% always had the largest share of the wealth, but until the last few decades, there was a least a small consideration given to the idea that insignificant insects doing the heavy lifting for them should be kept somewhat pacified with a little material wealth of their own. If for no other reason than to keep the Red Menace away. Now that the Red Menace is no more, they figure everything rightly belongs to them, and that they’re going to take it all back, with interest.

  52. brett says

    @HolyPinkUnicorn

    Alright, I’ll bite. How is Lebron making hundreds of millions of dollars a good thing for society?

    How is any particular level of compensation a “good thing” for society? Why not put a 100% tax on any income above, say, $50,000/year? That’s the point – there’s no “just” level of compensation. You set a tax level high enough that it’s basically confiscatory and designed to deter people from earning amounts above a certain threshold, you’re making an arbitrary judgment about how rich it’s “acceptable” to be (like how the 91% threshold in the 1950s was on income above the modern equivalent of $2.7 million because . . . why?).

  53. ck says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy wrote:

    Zeppelin 28

    [...] used it to pay off our national debt,

    There’s no actual reason to do this, or to want to. Debt is an integral part of an economy,

    It’s also entirely nonsensical. Why would you pay off debts like social security or pensions long before they’re due? Are you going to give the person owed the pension all their money long before they are even eligible to retire in a huge lump sum?

  54. brett says

    @58 Wes Aaron

    Wealthy getting wealthier. No way. Where’s my pitchfork?

    I don’t see it. Where’s the widespread labor riots, the wildcat strikes, the large number of unionization attempts? Instead, we got private sector unionization tanking since the 1950s, and literally nothing done in terms of laws to reverse that or the laws that helped to create the shift (such as the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947) since then despite having an entire decade of the 1960s and most of the 1970s dominated by overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress and Democratic Presidents.

    Sure, there’s a lot of talk about inequality, but even when they controlled Congress it amounted to nothing, and since then all we’ve got is a handful of state and city efforts plus what Obama can do in his capacities as President. Pardon me if I suspect there’s not really a great will to reverse that in America, not yet at least.

  55. says

    Marcus Ranum:

    There’s already a class war. The problem is, we’re losing.

    Not entirely correct.

    We’ve already lost.

    At this point, our only hope is to redefine winning, or change the rules of the game.

  56. anteprepro says

    brett:

    How is any particular level of compensation a “good thing” for society? Why not put a 100% tax on any income above, say, $50,000/year? That’s the point – there’s no “just” level of compensation. You set a tax level high enough that it’s basically confiscatory and designed to deter people from earning amounts above a certain threshold, you’re making an arbitrary judgment about how rich it’s “acceptable” to be (like how the 91% threshold in the 1950s was on income above the modern equivalent of $2.7 million because . . . why?).

    What a ridiculous straw man. Do you actually believe any of this shit is actually comparable to the views stated in the comments or in the video? 100% taxation rates? $50,000 as a perfectly acceptable “too rich” bar?

    The point is: there is no just level of compensation. But there are clearly, blatantly, obviously UNJUST levels of compensation. You can determine this by comparing it to everyone else. There is no objective measure. It is strictly relative. Because that’s how economics work.

    Your obstructionism and crocodile tears are noted.

  57. says

    One bizarre aspect of all this is that the families of “old wealth” like the Rockerfellers and the Rothschilds are being constantly demonized as the power behind the “New World Order” elite by much of the same Rand Paul libertarian fringe who support the very policies that earned the old wealth families their position of unassailable power and wealth in the first place.

  58. brett says

    @anteprepro

    The point is: there is no just level of compensation. But there are clearly, blatantly, obviously UNJUST levels of compensation. You can determine this by comparing it to everyone else.

    Bullshit. What makes $50,000/year “just” and $50 million/year “unjust”? It’s not like the person earning $50,000 a year is the Typical American either – he or she is earning more than 75% of the rest of all American wage-earners. What gives him or her the right to demand such grossly disproportionate income, when that income could be going towards the people farther down the line?

    That’s the point – it’s all arbitrary. So why again is $50,000 fair and not $50 million, especially if they’re doing disproportionate amounts of work both in quantity and quality?

  59. brett says

    Actually, scratch that part about the “disproportionate amounts of work”. That’s not the argument I’m making.

  60. anteprepro says

    brett:

    Bullshit. What makes $50,000/year “just” and $50 million/year “unjust”? It’s not like the person earning $50,000 a year is the Typical American either – he or she is earning more than 75% of the rest of all American wage-earners.

    What makes 50,000 a year just, when it is 75% more than average? What makes $50 million a year unjust when it is 1000 fucking times that amount?

    Do you even hear yourself talking? What the fuck are you on?

  61. brett says

    Why don’t you trying fucking arguing the point instead of pulling that faux-incredulity bullshit? But if you don’t want to, then by all means don’t – I’ll assume you don’t actually have an argument and you’re just arguing out of envy and jealousy of those with a lot more money than you.

  62. says

    I’ve always felt that inheritable wealth is the logical point of attack. Raise the inheritance tax to 100% and replace it with a series of “grub stakes” that every citizen gets on their 18th, 25th and 30th birthday. They’d be enough to pay for post-graduate education, or trade school, or invest in a business, or start a business or buy real estate or whatever. Tax shelters would have to be nationalized, too.

    Those who are reading this who are not familiar with how tax shelters like the “family foundations” work, should educate themselves. It’s absolutely criminal because, of course, they are only available to the wealthy. That, by the way, is how Hillary Clinton is able to say (with a straight face!) that she gives all her speaking fees to charity: she gives them to the Clinton Foundation, which is a charitable trust that will keep the Clinton family and its descendants in platinum spoons and blow for eternity.

    Here’s how a charitable trust works. Let’s say Marcus gets $1m worth of stock options in a successful company. If I sell them and pay taxes I pay as if they were income, so my tax bill is $300,000 or so, and I am left with $700,000. But instead I want to keep it all, so I create The Marcus Ranum Foundation and give the shares to the Foundation. The foundation is a charity and sells the shares and makes the $1m. Now I have a foundation with $1m and I’m the controlling director of the foundation and I get to pay myself a salary for managing the foundation – 5% – 15% (which is pretty “aggressive” in terms of management fees) – so let’s say I pay myself $100,000/year. Meanwhile The Foundation gets interest and can invest and play the market (i.e.: I can basically use The Foundation as a stock trading account and play the market) And The Foundation can fly me places or buy a car and let me drive it, etc. etc. Since the foundation is a non-profit it keeps whatever it makes on the stock trades and its endowment just gets bigger and bigger. A decent person who sets up a foundation has a triggering event that causes all the money to be disbursed for a purpose, so perhaps I’d set it up so that when I died freethoughtblogs would get whatever’s left in the foundation. Or, if I’m Hillary Clinton, I’ve just made sure that Chelsea has a set on the oligarch bus. It’s become a way for oligarchs to make sure their talentless spawn will always be rich, and can’t squander it all right away when mommy and daddy die.

  63. anteprepro says

    Brett, two words: standard deviation.

    I imagine you would doubt scientific and statistical conclusions because “hur hur hur, alpha level is arbitrary”.

    It’s like the ever-present rabid moral relativist, except this time with money. In convenient defense of status quo, because isn’t that always how it goes.

    Comparing the 75th percentile of income to the 99+ percentile. Comparing 1.6 times average income to 1600 times the average income. And concluding “well, basically the same thing”. It reeks of dishonesty. It reeks of someone doing their damndest to obstruct the conversation. You might as well be telling us how we are basically just jealous, or how we are all filthy commies. Same basic content, same basic effect.

  64. anteprepro says

    Brett, do you actually have a point aside from disingenuous relativism? Have the fucking gall to play the “incredulity” card? Look in the fucking mirror. You are two steps away from blatant fucking denialism.

  65. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @brett #61

    Sure, there’s a lot of talk about inequality, but even when they controlled Congress it amounted to nothing, and since then all we’ve got is a handful of state and city efforts plus what Obama can do in his capacities as President. Pardon me if I suspect there’s not really a great will to reverse that in America, not yet at least.

    Maybe it’s just that the Democrats haven’t cared all that much about labor since FDR. Talk about unions and the working class is cheap, and so are their political donations.

    The “two business parties” attitude about the GOP and the DNC makes sense when you look at what they actually do at the national level. And Democrats have arguably been worse because they’ve been able to convince many voters that they’re somehow a lot better than the GOP, when the difference seems to be quite minimal.

  66. mamba24 says

    I don’t really see how he was tap-dancing around it. He was addressing inequality by focusing on one part that contributes to it-The death of the inheritance tax. I’m not going to expect him to give an entire lecture about it on a half hour long show.

  67. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ll assume you don’t actually have an argument and you’re just arguing out of envy and jealousy of those with a lot more money than you.

    Whereas, I’ll assume you have no concept of wage equality, and are just an asshole defending those who make amounts they don’t really earn through the sweat of their brow…..

  68. anteprepro says

    Oh fuck, didn’t even notice that brett said that til you quoted it Nerd.

    I’ll assume you don’t actually have an argument and you’re just arguing out of envy and jealousy of those with a lot more money than you.

    Please, for the love of my own sanity, tell me that was said ironically. If it was said in earnest, then I guess I called it at number 53 (though I guess, since I didn’t see his 68 before I posted my 70, I also called it there too….)

  69. ck says

    Okay, are we really sure the term “Useful Idiot” was a Soviet invention? Seems like we have quite a few here cheering for the vulture capitalist class.

  70. cplcam says

    It’s funny, I keep hearing about this “class war” but all I ever see when I look around is a never-ending victory parade for the rich…

  71. Koshka says

    Forgive my ignorance, but why cant you just give your money away to your children before you die to avoid death taxes?

    If it is your money (i.e. have paid your taxes) surely you can do whatever you like with it?

  72. says

    At this point, our only hope is to redefine winning, or change the rules of the game.

    There are no rules of the game. The other side cheated. There is no such thing as “fair play” in this situation.

    The part that sucks is that oligarchs are pretty stupid about setting up their distant heirs for a tumbril-ride. They don’t care because virtually all of them will get away with it. A few will eventually wind up against a wall, somewhere, but even in the French Revolution the worst of the criminals fled the country with all their wealth; it was the foolish ones and their loyal bootlickers who went to the wall.

  73. says

    If it is your money

    If I may respond like a proper Jacobin: it’s never your money. It’s society’s money; that’s why it’s valuable (money in the absence of a society that accepts it and treats it as valuable – is “tinder” or “toilet paper”)

    Money is society’s way of simplifying the exchange of goods and services. Nobody “owns” any part of that process, though the wealthy in the US have figured out how to get a tremendously disproportionate control over it.

  74. brett says

    @anteprepro

    Comparing the 75th percentile of income to the 99+ percentile. Comparing 1.6 times average income to 1600 times the average income. And concluding “well, basically the same thing”.

    Congratulations, you still don’t get it. At point does earned income go from “acceptable earnings for what they do” to “greedy capitalist pig stealing from the proletariat”? That’s why I brought up that particular threshold – it’s just arbitrary. You set taxes based on the revenue you need and what you want to discourage (also arbitrary), not because there’s some “fair” and “unfair” level of compensation.

    @HolyPinkUnicorn

    The “two business parties” attitude about the GOP and the DNC makes sense when you look at what they actually do at the national level. And Democrats have arguably been worse because they’ve been able to convince many voters that they’re somehow a lot better than the GOP, when the difference seems to be quite minimal.

    Of course, that just takes you to another level of “where’s the support for unions?” and “why weren’t the unions more effective in pushing back on the Democrats?”.

    Like I said, this is why I think the talk against inequality is cheap in the US at this point.

    @Nerd of Redhead

    Whereas, I’ll assume you have no concept of wage equality, and are just an asshole defending those who make amounts they don’t really earn through the sweat of their brow…

    $50,000 ain’t equal, as I pointed out. It’s more than 75% of what all American wage-earners get. So if you’re going to argue that $50,000 is necessary for society to keep on turning, and higher levels are not, make that argument. There’s nothing “fair” about setting some arbitrary level of compensation beyond which it’s “unfair”.

  75. brett says

    @Marcus Ranum

    If I may respond like a proper Jacobin: it’s never your money. It’s society’s money; that’s why it’s valuable (money in the absence of a society that accepts it and treats it as valuable – is “tinder” or “toilet paper”)

    That’s true. But of course if you re-assign stuff, the consequences in the form of production of goods and services change – maybe it’s an acceptable change for other societal reasons, but it is nonetheless a change. It’s the problem I always had with Marxism – it had this ludicrous idea that “the capitalists” would build up a “surplus” of production using the magical “Means of Production”, at which point you can just wipe out “the capitalists” and have the Means of Production keep on producing everything just the way you like it.

  76. anteprepro says

    brett, did caesar bite you off stage or something. Jesus fucking Christ.

    At point does earned income go from “acceptable earnings for what they do” to “greedy capitalist pig stealing from the proletariat”? That’s why I brought up that particular threshold – it’s just arbitrary

    At what point does someone go from short to tall? 5’11, or 7’3”? It’s all arbitrary, therefore is no tall, all hail capitalism.

    So if you’re going to argue that $50,000 is necessary for society to keep on turning, and higher levels are not, make that argument.

    Still ignoring the idea of standard deviations too, huh? As in, “75% higher than the median” isn’t that much variance? As in the 75th percentile isn’t anywhere near the 99.99th percentile?

    But yeah, just keep saying “arbitrary”. I’m sure you will have a good point eventually if you just keep repeating your inane, hare-brained, relativism. Because fuck comparisons, fuck lines in the sand, fuck measurements, it is all relative!

    You are yet another apologist for income inequality. Congratulations. I’m sure a freshly pressed suit and a crisp bundle of 100 dollar bills will be mailed to you from Republican headquarters any minute now.

  77. says

    @Brett – the key point is that money’s value is integral to the society it’s part of. That’s why (which the US’ Oligarchs don’t seem to understand) re-investing in society is probably wiser than having a big bank account balance. The idea that “it’s MY MONEY” as voiced above is naive in the extreme – it’s literally valueless stuff that can be created, destroyed, or adjusted by society at any time. Of course there are consequences to doing so, but sometimes it happens on its own – what happened to Marcus Crassus’ fortune? It died with Rome.

    Marxism is ludicrous.

  78. anteprepro says

    “Who is to say 100,000 dead in Iraq is a lot? It’s just a number! What an arbitrary cut off. Do you mean to say that 10,000 dead isn’t a lot? How about a 1000? Oh you silly, silly arbitrary humanitarians you”

    “Oh, sure, you think 300 kilos is too much cocaine? You hypocrite, you would probably say even 10 kilos were too much. The lines are all just so fuzzy!”

    “I scored in the 95th percentile of this difficult test used for college admissions! Some would say that means I did well. But others will say, well, isn’t it basically the same thing as 70%? Isn’t arbitrary to consider 95th percentile ‘good’? I mean, shouldn’t it be like 2nd or 1st that is considered ‘good;? I mean, the cut-off is whereever you wanna make it. Could put it 90, could put it at 23. Who knows? Life is meaningless, numbers are meaningless, all we have to count on is our apathy”

  79. says

    Raven@#18:
    All you need to know about the US class war:
    1. It was declared by the rich about the time the USA started.

    Minor nit: the US was created out of class war.

    The standard propagandized historical narrative is that the US was founded by some anti-authoritarian political thinkers who were deeply steeped in enlightenment philosophy of individualism and liberty, who broke away from a corrupt monarchy and established a republic.

    The alternative historical narrative is that the founders of the US were a bunch of smugglers, slavers, and huge land-owners who were accustomed to looting society with impunity, who resented the crown’s attempts to tax their ill-gotten gains. Initially, the tax war was surrounding smuggling tobacco, rum, and cotton, but the battlefield widened dramatically when the crown started considering a tax on land. Since land is hard to smuggle or hide, the hard corps of wealthy (AKA: “the founding fathers”) began a rebellion and wound up winning. They then conceived a power-sharing arrangement that allowed them to preserve their much-enlarged fortunes (post-revolution, George Washington was the largest land-holder in the new country, and all the other new oligarchs made out like the bandits they were) without any of them being able to confiscate it from the other. They then raised taxes on parts of the economy that didn’t interest them, and ruthlessly suppressed renters’ rebellions. Within 50 years the average citizen of the new country was paying more in taxes than they would have if they lived in England; dramatically more than if they had remained a colony, since the colonies had tax incentives for working citizens.

    Taxing the rich can be dangerous. Sometimes they’ll just overthrow your government and fuck you hard. And don’t kid yourself, they won’t bat an eyelash doing it and – like the US’ founding fathers – they’ll pat themselves on the back for being a buncha great guys and raise your kids to revere them for unyoking them from one plow and yoking them to another.

  80. anteprepro says

    Holy shit Marcus Ranum. I’ve never thought about the American Revolution that way, but the shoe really does fit perfectly.

  81. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @Marcus

    Don’t forget though, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson died in debt–$107K at the time, according to Monticello’s website–but apparently he inherited some of it from his father. And for most of his life, bankruptcy couldn’t even be declared in America. This isn’t exactly the financial situation of today’s moneyed élite, except for the occasional Donald Trump business decision (and without the hairpiece, of course).

  82. says

    anteprepro:

    brett, did caesar bite you off stage or something. Jesus fucking Christ.

    My ‘vampire metaphor sens’e is tingling. Either the libertarians or the 1%. Or both…

  83. says

    Founding Father Thomas Jefferson died in debt

    Yeah, he was crazy like a fox. He made and spent a huge amount of money (including speculating in human beings) and lived way outside of his means (and his means were vastly superior to most of the citizens of the country) His land holdings, which he chose not to sell while he was alive, were enough to get his descendants out of debt. I suspect they had a rather more complicated opinion of Jefferson than the more propagandized view that’s popular today.

    Bankruptcy wasn’t available then because most of the rich didn’t need it. As soon as they did, guess what happened? If the rich didn’t need the occasional bankruptcy, we’d still have indentured servitude. Why did bankruptcy become necessary? Well, you couldn’t expect the shareholders of a corporation that failed to make good on their debts, now, would you?

  84. says

    ck #76
    As far as I know that’s the origin of the term, yes. The people it describes have existed for as long as humanity, though.
    Marcus Ranum

    Money is society’s way of simplifying the exchange of goods and services. Nobody “owns” any part of that process, though the wealthy in the US have figured out how to get a tremendously disproportionate control over it.

    Put differently, the map is not the territory. Money is a representation of the economy, it isn’t the economy itself.
    Brett 83

    Congratulations, you still don’t get it. At point does earned income go from “acceptable earnings for what they do” to “greedy capitalist pig stealing from the proletariat”?

    At the point where they’re negatively affecting others by their actions. When Phil Knight makes millions by shafting thousands out of the proceeds of their hard work, that’s “greedy capitalist pig stealing from the proletariat”. When Jane the HVAC engineer makes $50,000 installing and fixing duct work, she’s a hard working tradesperson. You see the difference? If she was making $50,000 a year by running a sweatshop where human trafficking victims made shirts for $.50 an hour, it’s back to “greedy capitalist pig stealing from the proletariat”. That part isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about how you get it.

    More to the point, though, deserts have nothing to do with it; having a large portion of a society’s wealth in the control of an excessively small portion of the population has negative repercussions for everyone, and is thus a situation that should be avoided for the public benefit. No one is going to get rich enough to destabilize the economy on $50,000 a year, but the Waltons, Kochs, Gates’ and their ilk can and do. That’s the problem that’s being discussed here.

    Of course, that just takes you to another level of “where’s the support for unions?” and “why weren’t the unions more effective in pushing back on the Democrats?”.

    Eroded by 60 years of the Cold War when being too supportive of unions and the like could lead to blacklisting or other nasty consequences, combined with an ever-increasing set of legal barriers to union organized and action (look up ‘right-to-work state’ some time for an example.)

  85. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    He made and spent a huge amount of money (including speculating in human beings)

    And by the morals of his day, those people were his property/wealth, which in at least one case he literally fucked–something even today’s rich can’t do. (Hired help doesn’t count, they are no longer, legally speaking, property.) Yes, Jefferson is a complicated figure, albeit one who penned the Declaration of Independence, and fortunately not the weird David Barton-imagined God botherer.

  86. Terska says

    If there were no taxes paper money would have little value. There isn’t enough gold in the world to act as money for all the trade there is among the world’s population. The fact that governments require taxes to be paid in their currency gives it value.

  87. consciousness razor says

    $50,000 ain’t equal, as I pointed out.

    Still not seeing the point of that. Nobody is claiming people with incomes around $50,000 should pay no income taxes whatsoever. It would be unfair if those people benefited from everything society does and if they weren’t responsible for contributing a single cent. Those with much less should pay much less, because they can’t afford more, and because they’re the ones who most need the resources and services the tax money ought to be providing in the first place. If the economy were different in any number of ways, those numbers would of course be different, but the actual state of our economy is anything but an “arbitrary” set of reasons for setting up a tax system to be the way it is.

  88. unclefrogy says

    nothing will be done to prevent the destabilization of the economy and the society it depends on. If we take the numbers above as true then 70% of the 1% who are responsible for the instability caused by the excessive accumulation of wealth did not earn it but inherited it and may not be as clever, smart or driven as those who accumulated the fortunes and they will just fuck it up if they keep doing what they been doing. Inherited wealth has done that before
    Right now they can use the tea party and the christians to do their bidding but the christians have their own agenda which may not have the current 1% interests as a priority. the tea bag crowd are a little to volatile and ignorant to be relied on for the long run and may switch sides with just a little more information.
    it is not if it is when
    uncle frogy

  89. raven says

    nothing will be done to prevent the destabilization of the economy and the society it depends on.

    1. When has a socio-political-economic elite ever voluntarily given up power?

    2. About never. Why should they?

    3. Which isn’t to say violent revolution is inevitable. The tumbrils don’t always roll and heads don’t always end up on pikes.

    4. In fact, that is the exception, not the norm. The 99% vastly outnumber the 1% and have access to pitchforks, torches, and AR-15s. They also do possess votes.

    More often, these perennial problems are solved more or less peacefully. Economic ineqaulity has been a problem in the USA since it started but it’s gotten better or worse depending on how fed up the peasants and proletariat get.

  90. coldthinker says

    The details of this conversation about the US tax system are probably too sophisticated for me to entertain. But some of my American acquaintances really seem to disapprove the very idea of taxation altogether, and that is a strange attitude that I have never encountered in Europe, not even among the multi-millionaires I know.

    Taxation means you are paying for services rendered. Schools, roads, hospitals, day care, kindergartens, playgrounds, parks, beaches, libraries, universities, arts, sciences, public security, military protection ets. Tons of things that everyone appreciates.

    Every even remotely decent person thinks paying taxes is a good thing. You pay for the things and services you receive and the infrastructure you enjoy. Otherwise it would be stealing, and no honest person wants to be a thief. There is a constant haggle over the prices and percentages of course, but that’s the way with all transactions.

    I know the public sector provides plenty of infrastructure and necessary services in the US, too. But apparently a lot of Americans don’t want to pay for their ride, even though the same people often make a proud point of not getting anything for free. Or is it that they simply do not appreciate the public services they are provided?

  91. Zeppelin says

    @ ck60

    Probably a bit late to reply but —

    it’s a comment on the prevailing narrative of the German ruling class, which is that the poor need to get poorer so that austerity can be enforced, because debt = bad, and we’re All In The Same Boat and need to Tighten Our Belts to stay Competitive.
    Pispers is pointing out that even if you accept that, what they’re doing is still ludicrously unjust.

  92. Nick Gotts says

    It’s the problem I always had with Marxism – it had this ludicrous idea that “the capitalists” would build up a “surplus” of production using the magical “Means of Production”, at which point you can just wipe out “the capitalists” and have the Means of Production keep on producing everything just the way you like it. – brett@84

    I’m not a Marxist, but it seems from what you say here that your problem with Marxism is that you don’t even understand the words Marx used, let alone what his thesis was. The “means of production” are not magical at all, they are just the things that are used to make stuff people need or want. Marx was primarily interested in industrial capitalism, so mostly that means mines, factories and machinery. Clearly, those wouldn’t disappear if all the capitalists – the owners of the means of production – were raptured tomorrow; and neither would the knowledge needed to use them. What you would need to do is organise ways of distributing their raw materials and products, organising labour, and replacing machinery as it wore out. Not trivial by any means, but not impossible. After all, early Soviet Russia managed to do so – although not without considerable difficulty – in the midst of a civil war. The “surplus”, in Marxist terms, is not produced by the capitalists, but by the workers, from whom it is extracted by the capitalists.

  93. Anri says

    Waaayy back up with caesar @ 21:

    I’m firmly opposed to any confiscatory taxes or arbitrary limits on what a person is allowed to make. I prefer that the amount of income and wealth a person can potentially make be primarily dependant on the market, as opposed to some bureaucracy. Although the market isn’t entirely free of human bias, it’s in my opinion more free from bias and corruption than any bureaucracy.

    (emphasis for facepalm.)

    Right, good point.
    That’s why civil rights have never had to be enforced.

    …wait a sec, my stupid sense suddenly started tingling.

    On a more serious note, I wonder if caesar has ever considered that one reason that the market appears (at least to them) more free of corruption than governmental action is that we use different metrics for measuring them?
    If government agents consistently pass on their positions and powers to their kids, that’s nepotism and is bad.
    If rich people consistently pass on their stations in society through huge inheritance, that’s good.
    If the government is a near-uniform array of white people working with, and for, other white people, making white people richer and non-whites poorer, that’s racism and it’s bad.
    If the 1% is exactly what I describe above, that’s The Invisible (White) Hand and it’s good.

  94. Paul Brown says

    If you believe Mr Piketty (which I’m inclined to do) then the rich have (almost) always been winning.

    It’s really only been during the 20th Century, with the combination of (more and more) universal suffrage, literacy and monumental social upheaval that the 99% clawed something back. But now, economic dynamics are returning to something that’s more historically “normal”.

    Which means? One option is to get yourselves about $1M in savings, but keep earning, if you want to keep ahead. That, or VOTE, DAMNIT! When barely 60% of eligible voters show up, and those that do tend to be older and white. Meanwhile in mid-term, local and state elections the voters are fewer, older, and whiter.

  95. says

    The details of this conversation about the US tax system are probably too sophisticated for me to entertain. But some of my American acquaintances really seem to disapprove the very idea of taxation altogether, and that is a strange attitude that I have never encountered in Europe, not even among the multi-millionaires I know.

    Taxation means you are paying for services rendered. Schools, roads, hospitals, day care, kindergartens, playgrounds, parks, beaches, libraries, universities, arts, sciences, public security, military protection ets. Tons of things that everyone appreciates.

    Well, you will find that the Americans with the most visceral opposition to taxation tend to live in areas where roads, schools, hospitals, day cares, parks, etc., are not well-funded and well-taken care of by the government. This tends to be in the Republican-dominated south, where the governing strategy basically consists of convincing voters that government is evil and worthless, and therefore they should elect [Candidate], who, once elected, goes about dismantling the government’s ability to provide positive, valuable services to society, thus reinforcing the impression that government is evil and worthless, thus reinforcing the need to elect anti-government candidates to government.

    The anti-government sentiment has strong roots in racism and resistance to the government-mandated end of legal segregation, of course. So, on the one hand you have people who are strongly motivated to distrust the power of the government because it undermined the foundations of their white privilege which they see as their due, and on the other hand you have people who have only rarely had the experience of a government operating optimally and providing useful services. These groups of people overlap a lot.

  96. says

    The “surplus”, in Marxist terms, is not produced by the capitalists, but by the workers, from whom it is extracted by the capitalists.

    Billionaires are not job-creators.
    Workers are billionaire-creators.

  97. caesar says

    I see there’s a lot of talk about just and unjust levels of compensation, and I frankly don’t know what the difference is. Getting back to my basketball example from yesterday, Lebron James making potentially hundreds of millions of dollars over his entire career seems perfectly just to me. Before he got to the NBA, he was just a kid surviving the streets of Akron. The only real marketable skill he had was his basketball skills, which as I stated earlier, don’t usually make money, except that he had shown himself to be exceptionally talented. Long story short, he was able to take a skill normally worth little to nothing, and extract maximum value out of it, which just happens to be hundreds of millions, in the case of the NBA. If he wasn’t worth that much, eventually he would bring in far less income, seeing as you can’t fake talent. Sounds like success story for capitalism to me.

  98. unclefrogy says

    caesar I think the question of “just compensation” is a question that involves the difference between the compensation that labor the producers of the goods and services receives and the compensation that management and the owners and the assorted investors (capitalists) receive. In you example James is not management nor ownership he is labor he supplies the services that management and ownership use to make money he is payed as little as they can.
    It could be argued that the contribution that the players is far more important to the success of a sports team than the contribution of the ownership and investors.
    The same could be said for most kinds of businesses that produce goods and services.
    uncle frogy

  99. says

    Another way for the rich to get richer:

    The House late Monday night adopted proposals by voice vote to cut funding for the Internal Revenue Service.

    Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) amendment to the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill would cut funding for the IRS by $353 million. Specifically, Gosar’s amendment would cut that funding from the IRS enforcement account and use it toward deficit reduction.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/212241-house-approves-irs-budget-cuts

    As the economist Jared Bernstein noted recently in The Washington Post, a weakened I.R.S. enforcement staff will be unable to make a dent in the $385 billion annual gap between what taxpayers owe and what they pay – an unintended tax cut, mostly for the rich, that represents 11 percent of this year’s spending. […]

    But it is bad news for building roads, keeping the air clean, protecting the nation’s security, and countless other vital government tasks. Revenue collected by I.R.S. enforcement actions has fallen by more than $4 billion over the last four years, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And every dollar spent on enforcement yields $6 in additional revenue.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/the-real-internal-revenue-scandal.htm

    And here’s an open invitation for already questionable contributors to political campaigns to throw caution to the winds — also a big step up for all scam artists.

    Amid ongoing controversy over its scrutiny of nonprofits, the Internal Revenue Service has decided it will no longer screen approximately 80% of the organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status each year, a change that will ease the creation of small charities while doing away with a review intended to counter fraud and prevent political and other noncharitable groups from misusing the tax code.

    Gone are requirements that groups fill out a lengthy form and supply supporting documents; now groups can make a few declarations, pay a modest fee, and become a charitable non-profit.

    http://time.com/2979612/irs-scandal-tax-exempt-tea-party-political-groups-john-koskinen/

    Rigging the game with tax policy.

  100. Paul Brown says

    Examples like elite athletes are always brought up whenever the topic of income inequality is broached. But if your goal is getting at some kind of truth, then elite athlete salaries don’t tell us much. The rules of “the game” place artificial restrictions on supply and demand: teams have maximum rosters, salary caps, etc. The better examples are the people who really earn the money: hedge fund managers, for example, where the evidence is pretty compelling that they’re either doing nothing useful except acting as rentiers trading on their access to markets, or else they’re frauds and crooks.

    Besides … no one cares what Lebron James (or Raj Rajaratnam) is paid. When it comes to taxes, the question has to do with how much they owe the society of which they are part for their success? Without a wealthy society you don’t have people with the kinds of disposable income needed to buy basketball tickets or stocks. Rather, what you have is a tiny, monied class constantly in fear of theft and revolution dominating an vast underclass constantly in fear of starvation with the social balance maintained by violence.

    That’s the way it’s been for thousands of years of human history. It’s only been things like redistributive taxes and large public welfare programs like education, health care, etc, that have let us escape that trap.

  101. coldthinker says

    Tomy #108 —

    With no snark whatsoever, that was kind of my point.

    I have a huge problem with this certain American way of thinking. Taxes, gun control, public health care, maternity leave, free universities… I mean, it’s not a trick question! That’s common decency! What’s with you? Such a lovable nation in so many ways, but in these obvious things… I don’t get it. It’s like being against the basic concept of motherhood!

  102. coldthinker says

    My problem being (not that anyone should care), I may have to, or get to, work wiith a bunch of well-off Americans in the near future. And I really, really would like to enjoy the experience. I honestly want to understand the game.

  103. coldthinker says

    Tony,

    (Snark mode unabled)
    I actually do think America is exceptional in many ways. Nasa, top science, top universities, good literature, Hollywood in its best… From a foreigner’s point of view there’s a lot of exceptional aspects in America, both in good and bad. But I don’t get why America wants to excel in bad. However, I realize the size of the country, so it’s harder to influence things. Anyway, I’m baffled.

  104. Paul Brown says

    coldthinker@lots_of_places …

    As an immigrant myself? The US is NOT exceptional. It’s about on par with what you would expect from a very rich, very large (by population) nation.

    Exceptional is somewhere like Sweden or Switzerland … much smaller populations, per-capita income on a close par with the US, but *much* better on metrics like life expectancy, nobel prize winners per population, blah blah blah.

    The US has an exceptionally grandiose *self* image. Doesn’t make it exceptional in any way that’s meaningful to its own citizens or the citizens of any other country. It’s just a very big, very wealthy, very heavily armed, teenage boy.

  105. ck says

    caesar wrote:

    Long story short, he was able to take a skill normally worth little to nothing, and extract maximum value out of it, which just happens to be hundreds of millions, in the case of the NBA. If he wasn’t worth that much, eventually he would bring in far less income, seeing as you can’t fake talent. Sounds like success story for capitalism to me.

    Very well, caesar, now explain why an entertainer athlete is worth 10 to 100x more than a school teacher, despite the fact we’d do just fine without entertainer athletes but our current civilization would dissolve without educating the next generation. Why should the professional athelete be worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year, but the teacher should be grateful to get a few tens of thousands of dollars per year?

  106. Rob Grigjanis says

    ck @118:

    Why should the professional athelete be worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year, but the teacher should be grateful to get a few tens of thousands of dollars per year?

    Can’t answer the ‘should be worth’, but the ‘is worth’ is obvious; because team owners and sponsors can make a fuckload more than paltry millions from the athlete. Because there are millions of us who buy ‘Messi’ or ‘Jordan’ shirts, and pay the inflated prices for the crap they sell, including tickets to the games. Bread and circuses, minus the bread.

  107. ck says

    Rob Grigjanis wrote:

    Can’t answer the ‘should be worth’, but the ‘is worth’ is obvious;

    Well, it’s obvious why things are the way they are, but given the precepts of the Invisible Hand of the Market that corrects all errors, and ensures perfect and efficient use of all resources, it’s hard to square that circle with the fact that non-essentials like televised sports command far larger salaries than things that are quantifiably more important. Market forces, as liberals and socialists understand them, can explain this disparity, but libertarianism says these kinds of inefficiencies should not be tolerated for long.

  108. unclefrogy says

    well I can say that the success of the conservative political manipulation of the 1% for lack of a better word is based on the same basic trick of the stage magician. They use misdirection to distract attention from what is actually going on.
    Playing up some high wages for some workers as shocking or complaining that that will have to close down completely if they had to pay what the work is really worth all the while completely obscuring what profits are or manipulating profit while paying astoundingly high compensation for top management.
    when thinking about these issues I can’t help to remember that it was the people at the top of the heap that were the direct cause and bare the responsibility for this last economic collapse.. they do it every time.
    uncle frogy

  109. Rey Fox says

    Well, as long as a very few people blessed with talent in a certain narrow skill that is of interest to the moneyed elite can make lots of money, then the system works.

    Jeez, my forehead hurts from that intense sarcasm.

  110. says

    @ Tony #22
    -That post is thoroughly shredded (not by me) in the comments. On my way to and from Washington DC today and yesterday, I used a couple turnpikes, for the use of which I paid over $20. That’s not theft. Somebody pays for the cost of long roads, and it’s only just that that “somebody” should be the users of these roads.

    Me confiscating your car (or 10% of your income) and giving you back a ton of oranges (or whatever) is theft. So taxation fits the definition of theft. Most of Robert Nielsen’s economic posts are so fallacy-laden I do not feel the need to respond to them. I agree with him, though, that it is impossible to consistently enforce private property without some sort of territorial monopoly on law.

  111. says

    Enopoletus:

    Me confiscating your car (or 10% of your income) and giving you back a ton of oranges (or whatever) is theft.

    The government taking a percentage of your income which is then used for public services is stealing? Despite the fact that you make use of those services? Oooooooook. Must be because you didn’t agree to it.

  112. Anri says

    Enopoletus Harding:

    Me confiscating your car (or 10% of your income) and giving you back a ton of oranges (or whatever) is theft.

    You breathing the clean air that takes substantial money to enforce the purity of while refusing to pay taxes for that enforcement is theft.
    Stop it.

    You enjoying a greener city that is caused by the governmental enforcement of zone and building codes and refusing to pay for it is theft.
    Stop it.

    You having an education financed by any sort of public assistance and refusing to pay taxes for it is theft. You expecting lower-income people to vote in a literate manner without being willing to help foot the bill for the teachers, and building, and books isn’t theft but it’s damn stupid.
    Likewise taking advantage of any service provided by anyone having had such an education. Any of your teachers public-school educated? Doctors? Co-workers?

    Why do you think you can by-and-large know what in the food you buy? The companies do that out of the goodness of their hearts? Enjoying the benefits of food purity laws and food labeling laws while being unwilling to pay for is it both theft and stupid.

    You wanna opt out? Start by getting the hell off of the internet, and go from there.

    In another thread, a libertarian commenter (it may have been you, I forget) linked to an essay about why government should be in charge of environmental controls, even in a libertarian society. What the essay didn’t address (I noticed – maybe you didn’t) was how a government much smaller and weaker than extant would effectively control corporations much larger and more powerful than extant.

  113. unclefrogy says

    I think one of the primary reasons libertarians exist today is it is the only place and time in the history where it is possible for anyone to even think a system like that could exist. We are so insulated from so much of the harshness of living by the effectiveness of our infrastructure and service networks. You can have clean water. The grocery stores have fresh food and other supplies delivered daily.
    The streets are not full of beggars, filth and disease.
    It all runs comparatively smoothly.
    would or did anyone seriously make the claims for libertarian utopia in 1850’s Dickensian London?

    uncle frogy

  114. Nick Gotts says

    Me confiscating your car (or 10% of your income) and giving you back a ton of oranges (or whatever) is theft. So taxation fits the definition of theft. – Enopoletus Harding

    Typical glibertarian garbage. The definition of theft is the illegal seizure of property. Taxation is not illegal, therefore it does not fit the definition of theft. You don’t get to redefine words to make your views true by definition.

  115. ck says

    Nick Gotts wrote:

    You don’t get to redefine words to make your views true by definition.

    But if you take away that, what will they have left? If the free market causes an economic disaster, it’s because the markets aren’t free enough, even if removing regulations directly lead to the disaster. If the free market leads to a boom after a big investment of tax money, it’s entirely due to the free market, not the government interference.

  116. pyrion says

    It’s all down to how the financing of politicians work in the USA. Where is that money coming from? Most of it comes from companies or wealthy individuals. So, how do you think politicians can act against the interests of their sponsors? That’s the root of the american problem for me. Plus the voting system that will forever cement the 2 party system. Here in germany political parties get money from the state based on how many people voted for that party. Sponsoring parties or politicians is strictly limited. While not perfect i think such a system would be needed for the USA. But the system you have now is self protecting and i really can’t see a way how it can be changed without violence.

  117. raven says

    I just skip these threads. I can’t afford to have my heart stop due to being bored to death. And then, who would feed my cats?

    But one of the dumber things Loonytarians say is that taxes are theft. No. they aren’t.

    1. Your taxes buy you a working society and civilization!!! This is why you aren’t a slave to Mongol raiders or dead of some routine infectious disease at 30.

    2. Like xian cultists, Loonytarians never, ever walk their talk. Taxes are to some extent voluntary. As is living in our Hi Tech society.

    They can leave any time. Emigate to one of the Loonytarian Utopias like Somalia or Honduras. Or just go Galt and leave our civilization like Chris McCandless. People do this and there are many ways to do this. McCandless lasted a few months in the wild and ended up dead.

    They never do this. Mom’s basement with high speed internet and pizza delivery beats actually walking their talk any day.

    PS If any Gibbertarians want to go Galt or leave, if they renounce their US citizenship, we could raise the price of a one way airline ticket in seconds plus a farewell party that would last for weeks.

  118. militantagnostic says

    consciosness razor @46

    It’s a little odd that any market-based solution (or really anything at all, this being such a stupidly vague claim) is also “not necessarily the one that’s right,” yet it isn’t even something anyone ever actually decides to do. It only happens on accident, if at all, by magical forces you do not even attempt to explain. If I had to pick between “not necessarily right” things that people actually can control (which we have every right to do even though we’ll make mistakes) on the one hand, and your magical-thinking nonsense on the other, I know which I would pick every fucking time. You want economic faith-healing, and that shit doesn’t fucking work.

    Ocean fisheries are good example of the the invisible hand fucking things up royally via a perverse incentive. As a species declines due to over-fishing, the price of that species increases resulting in an increasing incentive to catch that species. Instead of backing off and allowing the species to recover, the market drives the species into collapse. Free market fundamentalists are even more dangerous than religious fundamentalists.

    I find it very telling how Gibbertaerians defend inherited wealth. I suspect most of them were born second base and would like to think they hit a double. They fear the greater social mobility that occurs in more socialistic societies. They want to maintain a hereditary aristocracy and live in fear of meritocracy.

  119. Matrim says

    I haven’t read through the whole thread yet, some this may have been brought up, but I got to the point where people were debating 100% tax on income over a certain amount and artificial caps on income. I’m no economist, but that seems like a bad idea. If you throw a 100% tax on all income over (say) 1,000,000$, there’s no reason why any person or company should attempt to make more money than that. Wouldn’t that hurt both the economy and the tax base? It seems like a tax of 90% on money over a certain amount with no cap on earnings would be much better. The fat cats would still have something to keep them bringing in cash, which would in turn fill the country ‘s coffers to a tune of 90%.

  120. says

    raven:

    They can leave any time. Emigate to one of the Loonytarian Utopias like Somalia or Honduras. Or just go Galt and leave our civilization like Chris McCandless. People do this and there are many ways to do this. McCandless lasted a few months in the wild and ended up dead.

    The liberturds won’t do anything like that though.
    What they want are the benefits (clean air and water, education, protection, infrastructure), but none of the responsibilities (paying taxes).

  121. says

    Matrim #133
    The short answer is no. The somewhat longer answer is that there’s not actually any particular benefit to individuals or society when people who are already multi-millionaires spend all their time and effort scrabbling for more money.

    For businesses, it’s important to distinguish profit and revenue. The former is what is generally taxed, not the latter. Keeping profits low is actually a good thing, since it encourages the business to put that money into things like wages and physical plant upgrades, which means fewer externalities and economic benefits all’ round.

  122. raven says

    What they want are the benefits (clean air and water, education, protection, infrastructure), but none of the responsibilities (paying taxes).

    True.

    The ultrarich have found many ways to avoid responsibilites while still living in our society. They employ many of the finest minds our universities produce to do this.

    They offshore a lot of their money in tax havens. Romney is one of them. He has a $100 million IRA in…Bermuda.

    Which BTW, shows another huge fallacy of Loonytarians. Past a certain point income point, their money isn’t used to invest or consume. That is hard and even risky. It becomes a passive rent seeker and much of it moves offshore. Just how is Romney’s $100 million IRA in Bermuda creating jobs in the USA or producing any benefits for the society that produced it?

  123. says

    1,000,000$, there’s no reason why any person or company should attempt to make more money than that

    Inertia. Safety margin.

    The wise person looks at the buying power they have left at the end of the day, and nothing else.

  124. Matrim says

    @135, Dalillama

    I get where you’re coming from, but there is a benefit to society if you heavily tax the super rich. At 90% they’d still be able to make their money (albeit at a much slower rate than now), and thus will still attempt to do so. That means the government will collect 90 cents on every dollar that can be used in all sorts of productive ways. If you simply cap wealth, you won’t get those taxes. We’re never going to get rid of greedy people, we may as well make them work for us for a change.

    @137, Marcus

    But no one every accused corporate entities of being wise.

  125. says

    Matrim 138
    It’s not as though the money that the superrich have will vanish from the economy under the tax regime described. People will still receive that money and be taxed on it, it’s just that a lot more people will be receiving money on which they are taxed, and the individuals in question will be receiving a smaller proportion of the money per head. The total amount of money moving through the economy (and thus being taxed) will actually increase, because 1000 people who each get $70,000/year spend a lot more money than one person who gets $70,000,000/year.

  126. mickll says

    Of course there’s a fucking class war.

    The 1% have convinced almost every government on earth to sing the deregulation/privatisation song while screwing over the interests of the local people and running down the infrastructure they use. They’ve bankrolled and bought not just third world dictators but first world “western” nations and in America the people protecting them wear body armor and carry machine guns.

    They just don’t want any of the other classes to notice they’re being royally screwed and start fighting back!

  127. Matrim says

    @Dalillama 139

    Maybe I’m not following what you mean. I agree with your point about spending, but if you’re taxing 100% of wealth over 1,000,000$, there’s zero incentive for people to earn more than 1,000,000$. If a person might have earned 11,000,000$, that’s 9,000,000$ of tax revenue that won’t be generated if someone doesn’t bother to earn what they might otherwise have. Unless there are a lot of deductions that can be applied to the 100% taxed portion, it still seems like it would hamstring the intended purpose of the tax. The 100% tax would be an excellent way to get rid of the super rich, but just because the super rich have less doesn’t mean that the middle and lower economic classes suddenly get more. It’s not a simple zero sum.

  128. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The 100% tax would be an excellent way to get rid of the super rich,

    At one time, the highest tax rate was 91% (’48-’58) in peacetime, and there still was the super rich. It’s all what they do with the money, rather than anything else. Factory owners used to have the idea that they shared their prosperity with their workers. That went out when professional managers replaced the entrepreneurs.

  129. Matrim says

    @142, Nerd

    Well, yeah, but 91% isn’t 100%. And I agree that it’s what they do with their money, but the problem with that is that if the super rich used their money in an altruistic and progressive manner the current regressive tax system wouldn’t be so bad either. You can’t really count on that to work as a system. And none of this really addresses my point: that 100% tax on money over a certain amount would be less beneficial to the economy and society than a 90% tax.

  130. says

    Matrim #141

    Maybe I’m not following what you mean. I agree with your point about spending, but if you’re taxing 100% of wealth over 1,000,000$, there’s zero incentive for people to earn more than 1,000,000$. If

    You do understand the difference between income and wealth, don’t you? No one is saying that you should be prohibited from having more than $ 1,000,000 in your possession, merely that if you receive more than $1,000,000 in a single year, everything above that line is taxed.

    If a person might have earned 11,000,000$, .

    No one ‘earns’ $11,000,000 in a year. They may get paid it, but they aren’t doing anything that’s worth that kind of money. How the hell do you think they get that money in the first place? They do things like cut other people’s wages and benefits. If they weren’t leaching that money out of the system, then it would have to go elsewhere. And, if the company profits were also taxed, it would have to go into wages and upgrades to buildings and equipment, or else it would go to the government and be spent on infrastructure, including a social safety net, and much of it would thereby end up being paid out as wages. In both cases, those wages would then be taxed, and the great circle of the economy would keep going.

    that’s 9,000,000$ of tax revenue that won’t be generated if someone doesn’t

    No, you nitwit. See, let’s take the Waltons, ok? If they can’t take more than $1,000,000 from Walmart’s per year, and if Walmart’s profits are taxed at a similar rate, then Walmart has no choice but to do something with the money that won’t be taxed away. They might still want to be assholes and not spend it on wages, but that’s an argument for strong legal wage requirements. (and, eventually, the total elimination of the corporate model in favor of economic democracy, but that’s another matter).

    Unless there are a lot of deductions that can be applied to the 100% taxed portion, it still seems like it would hamstring the intended purpose of the tax. .

    That’s because you don’t understand how progressive income taxes work, or apparently what income taxes actually are.

    The 100% tax would be an excellent way to get rid of the super rich,.

    And how do you think they got that way? Getting rid of them could only be beneficial.

    but just because the super rich have less doesn’t mean that the middle and lower economic classes suddenly get more. It’s not a simple zero sum.

    No, the sum is greater when there are more people receiving income and spending money. Please try to keep up.

  131. consciousness razor says

    If you throw a 100% tax on all income over (say) 1,000,000$, there’s no reason why any person or company should attempt to make more money than that.

    I don’t think a 100% tax would be necessary at any level, but let me make sure I have this straight.

    If you’re getting $1M in income, and we assume nothing about the taxes above that level, what exactly is the reason for any person to make more money than that? It’s just circular to say that “having more money” is the reason for getting more money. What are you going to do with it? Maybe the reason you’d earn more is so that it will be distributed to other people as needed, so you couldn’t say there’s literally “no reason.” Just try using your imagination here.

    But maybe you have big plans for that money yourself. You’re going to build something big, or send a person to the moon or something (too bad the damned evil government did it first). Yet that means you personally (or this corporation, who is of course a person) are going to be controlling a larger share of the economy (or whatever technological or scientific or artistic enterprise it is). That is hurting the economy, for the vast majority of people in it. On the other hand, maybe you want the economy to be more fair, so you don’t want to build a monopoly, or drink everyone’s fucking milkshake, because you’re not entirely motivated by selfishness and greed and pure fucking hate. So just think about that little more, instead of treating all rich people like some caricature of a greedy, nihilistic robot. Maybe you just like what you’re doing (playing basketball, let’s say), and not getting any extra money out of it just isn’t the most important thing in the world to you, much less the only important thing, so you would keep doing it anyway. The idea that you’re just going to stop working altogether as soon as you stop getting a paycheck doesn’t seem even remotely realistic to me.

    If people do hate their work that much, they could find a different job (or maybe the person/company will get by just fine somewhere below that level and keep doing that). Or they could go Galt or whatever the fuck these people do, and I’m sure a thousand other people would be happy to take their place doing that work and making “merely” a million dollars every year. But you know what? I like doing what I do, and I’m already dirt poor — you’d have to make me quit, because I’ve got incentive enough by doing some meaningful work that I enjoy. That sure as fuck isn’t “zero incentive.”

  132. Matrim says

    @144, Dailillama

    You do understand the difference between income and wealth, don’t you? No one is saying that you should be prohibited from having more than $ 1,000,000 in your possession, merely that if you receive more than $1,000,000 in a single year, everything above that line is taxed.

    Yes, but you do understand that this effectively means that their wealth would essentially be a one-shot fund. Once it was spent there would be no way to recover it. And with inheritance taxes you would essentially wipe out the super rich in a generation. Granted, I’d be all for wiping out the super rich if I thought it’d be more beneficial than the 90% model I’m thinking of.

    No one ‘earns’ $11,000,000 in a year. They may get paid it, but they aren’t doing anything that’s worth that kind of money.

    *sigh* Now you’re just being pedantic. Sure, I’ll grant you that no one “earns” $11 million in the context that they did an amount of work commensurate with the amount. But you bloody well knew what I meant, so get off the soap box. I agree, companies do fucked up things to maximize profits, but you can still make ridiculous profit without fucking people over if you’re successful (you just won’t be making maximum profit). Also, a 100% tax rate, especially as you describe it where money invested in said business’s infrastructure isn’t taxed, doesn’t guarantee that workers are getting a better deal. Upgrades to building and equipment, expansion, and other things the business could do might have the benefit of safer working conditions or more jobs as a whole, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to more money or individual benefits in the individual worker’s pocket. You acknowledge this, but basically seem to hand wave it. And there’s no call to be an asshole about an economic discussion.

    Look, I get what you’re going for in that last post, but I don’t think it’s going to work they way you seem to think it will. If we want to discuss ideals, I don’t think the idea of being dependent on your employer is a good thing. I don’t think it’s good now, and I don’t think it’d be good under your system. I like the idea of shifting the burden of social support from employers to the government, which is why I favor the 90% (or similarly large non-100 percentage). I think it’s better to maximize tax revenue than to maximize employer investment. Granted, there would need to be some government reforms as well to ensure that the system would be equitable, but I think it’s doable. And if you’re so concerned about the super rich, this system would leave them with their money and little else. Sure, they still can have their toys, but they’re not doing it at the expense of their workers, because their workers are not wholly beholden to them which would in turn give the average person more power than their employer. The employer would need the employee much more than the employee would need the employer, because the employee would still be able to get along without the employer (the employer would have no such luxury). Jobs would be competing for people rather than people competing for jobs.

    That’s how I see it anyway.

  133. says

    Matrim

    Yes, but you do understand that this effectively means that their wealth would essentially be a one-shot fund. Once it was spent there would be no way to recover it.

    Because, of course, it’s totally impossible to save any money on a mere $1,000,000 a year, so there’s no way at all that anyone could ever become or remain a multimillionaire in such a regime. No, there won’t be megawealthy people like the Kochs or Gates or Buffett; that’s rather the point, really. Having people around with personal fortunes that make up that large a chunk of the economy is a bad thing, and negatively impacts everyone’s quality of life.

    And with inheritance taxes you would essentially wipe out the super rich in a generation.

    Yup. That’s the point, all right.

    Granted, I’d be all for wiping out the super rich if I thought it’d be more beneficial than the 90% model I’m thinking of.

    Yes, but that’s because you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, let alone what I’m talking about. I advise you read for comprehension.

    *sigh* Now you’re just being pedantic.

    Not at all. You insist that people should get that kind of money, and moreover that the possibility of getting it incentivises something that people ought to be doing (although you’ve not explained what this might be, other than amassing absurdly large fortunes), which implies that you think they do, in fact, deserve that kind of compensation in some meaningful way.

    Sure, I’ll grant you that no one “earns” $11 million in the context that they did an amount of work commensurate with the amount. But you bloody well knew what I meant, so get off the soap box.

    Where the hell do you think you are, and what kind of discussion do you think we’re having here?

    I agree, companies do fucked up things to maximize profits, but you can still make ridiculous profit without fucking people over if you’re successful (you just won’t be making maximum profit)

    Describe how, in detail. Also note that large executive compensation schemes are taken before profits just like other employee pay. So, first explain what it is that those executives do that should entitle them to hundreds or thousands of times more compensation than the people who actually make the goods and/or provide the services that the company exists to create. Then, once you’ve done that, keep in mind that profits go to shareholders, who are generally speaking people who have no actual involvement in running the company whatsoever. Clarify what it is that this hypothetical ‘you’ is doing to consider themselves entitled to any share of the company’s income. Be detailed.

    . Also, a 100% tax rate, especially as you describe it where money invested in said business’s infrastructure isn’t taxed, doesn’t guarantee that workers are getting a better deal.

    Which is why I explicitly mentioned wage laws and economic democracy, yes. Actually read what I wrote if you’re going to try to respond to it.

    Upgrades to building and equipment, expansion, and other things the business could do might have the benefit of safer working conditions or more jobs as a whole,

    Even assuming you’re right (you’re not, there’s limits to how much physical plant you can usefully invest in, but regardless), safer working conditions=fewer workdays (and less quality of life, or, you know, life) lost to injury and illness. More jobs=more people spending money=more jobs & more tax revenues. i.e., the things that this is a discussion about increasing, if you’ll recall.

    but that doesn’t necessarily translate to more money or individual benefits in the individual worker’s pocket

    So, things that make people lives easier don’t translate to individual benefits. Interesting argument, but you need a way better case.

    You acknowledge this, but basically seem to hand wave it.

    You continue to miss the part where I mention solutions.

    And there’s no call to be an asshole about an economic discussion.

    I advise you knock it off, then.

    Look, I get what you’re going for in that last post, but I don’t think it’s going to work they way you seem to think it will.

    Except that, you know, it does. When the corporate tax rates were higher, so were wages. Part of that was also due to unions and wage laws, both things which I note as being necessary.

    If we want to discuss ideals, I don’t think the idea of being dependent on your employer is a good thing. I don’t think it’s good now, and I don’t think it’d be good under your system.

    You’re right; we really need a guaranteed minimum income, but that doesn’t change the best ways to create jobs or tax revenue, and both of which (people being productive and government being funded are both positive things). We could also use a pool of capital paid into by extant businesses (ideally in the form of worker cooperatives, see previous re: economic democracy) for the purpose of providing seed capital to startup businesses.

    I like the idea of shifting the burden of social support from employers to the government, which is why I favor the 90% (or similarly large non-100 percentage).

    As noted, you appear to believe for some reason that a small number of absurdly rich people provide a stronger tax base than a very large number of quite prosperous people, with the side benefit that most everybody is reasonably prosperous.

    I think it’s better to maximize tax revenue than to maximize employer investment.

    And you think that these are mutually exclusive goals. Why?

    Sure, they still can have their toys, but they’re not doing it at the expense of their workers

    Yes, they are.

    , because their workers are not wholly beholden to them which would in turn give the average person more power than their employer.

    No, a social safety net, while a bare minimum requirement, is not actually sufficient.

  134. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    Just a couple of random observations.

    consciousness razor @#145 (edited for brevity):

    maybe you have big plans for that money[:] build something big, or send a person to the moon [...] Yet that means you personally [...] are going to be controlling a larger share of the economy (or whatever technological or scientific or artistic enterprise it is) [which hurts] the economy, for the vast majority of people in it.

    I don’t get this. *genuinely puzzled face* It’s not like Richard Branson built SpaceShipOne in a hanger on his desert island, mining and smelting his own titanium, formulating his own rocket fuel, and doing aerodynamic modelling on a supercomputer he cobbled together himself from leftover copies of Tubular Bells. :-)

    The spending on these kind of endeavours spills over into the “real” economy, right?

    Dalillama @#140 (edited again):

    [C-suite execs] may get paid $1,000,000, but they aren’t doing anything that’s worth that kind of money[; t]hey do things like cut other people’s wages and benefits.

    Well, maybe. Or they may grow the company’s revenues to the point where they can both be paid the $1mm and increase salaries for the workers? What this may do to their competitors’ CEO and workers may, of course, be a different story. (And, especially, these days, non-competitors in industries they displace. But do you want to go back to Remington typewriters and Victrola phonographs?!)

    John Horstman @#14:

    stock/commodity (and derivatives thereof) speculation

    *sigh*

    That dread word “derivatives”¹. You do realise for every “speculator” in derivatives there’s someone taking the opposite side, typically hedging their risks. Why do you hate farmers and want them not to be able to lock in prices for their produce? ;-)

    ¹ In any discussion of derivatives, I warn you in advance that anyone who uses the phrase “$600 trillion” will get a long lecture from me on market segmentation and volatility, portfolio compression since the financial crisis, trilateral tearups and the growth of independent valuation services, developments in collateral standardisation, plus bonus appendices on (a) the relative risk and merits of all-running versus standardised coupons and points up front in the CDS market, and (b) the importance of exchange of variation margin (and the non-importance of exchange of initial margin).

    You really don’t want that, so don’t go there. :-)

  135. consciousness razor says

    I don’t get this. *genuinely puzzled face* It’s not like Richard Branson built SpaceShipOne in a hanger on his desert island, mining and smelting his own titanium, formulating his own rocket fuel, and doing aerodynamic modelling on a supercomputer he cobbled together himself from leftover copies of Tubular Bells. :-)

    The spending on these kind of endeavours spills over into the “real” economy, right?

    Sure, you could say it trickles down. There will be spillage, but are we supposed to just forget about the vast pool of wealth that doesn’t spill? Should be satisfied merely with the fact that a drizzle exists, without asking all kinds of impertinent questions about where it comes from? Have you ever fucking tried living off of a drizzle? If not, then how the fuck is this even a serious question?

    Branson hoarding his money to blow it on whatever vanity projects he dreams up doesn’t even compare to lots of people using that and profiting from it themselves on their own terms. If what he’s doing is not simply about him profiting to the exclusion of others, then I have no problem with wealthy people doing that. But I said nothing whatsoever about Richard fucking Branson, nor do I give a fuck about him.

    The idea I was arguing against was that people can’t have any other reason to work except for their own profit. Consideration for other people goes right out the window, along with all manner of other motivations, like curiosity about the natural world, artistic pursuits, generally making the world a better place in any way other than “there’s no limit whatsoever to how obscenely rich I personally can get, so fuck all of you.” (I wouldn’t actually call that “better,” but some people have some fucking weird ideas about that.) Trickling down is apparently an afterthought at best, and in terms of forming policy, it isn’t useful to just wish the economy will somehow be better than it actually is. Have you fucking seen the way it actually is? Puzzle on that for a while.