April 15th, 2009

Thoughts on tax (and tea party) day

Here’s an article on the history of taxes in America. Summary: early on there were few, and the federal taxes that were levied were temporary and used to raise money to fight wars. But since the beginning of the twentieth century the tax burden has had a generally upward trend, especially for the top-earning half of the populace.

If you add up state, local, and federal taxes, most Americans pay “between 20 percent and 45 percent of their income—not including taxes on capital gains, interest and other incidentals.” And yet:

According to [a Gallup poll released yesterday], 48 percent of Americans said their tax rates were “about right,” 46 percent said they were “too high,” and 3 percent said they were “too low.” On the income tax alone, 61 percent called the amount they had to pay this year “fair.”

As one might expect, these responses differ by income, with people in lower brackets being more satisfied with their taxes than people in higher ones. And Republicans are more unhappy than Democrats. No surprises there.

But the differences between groups were not as great as I would have imagined. Take a look:

tax3.gif

taxes2.gif

So, what does it all mean? Is it that people actually think they’re getting a lot for their money? Or do they believe “well, it could be worse; look at Europe?” Have they just gotten so used to the state of things, like the frogs in the pot that slowly comes to a boil, that they’ve lost perspective? And what does the word “fair” mean to most of the respondents—”fair” as compared to other Americans, “fair” in the abstract sense, or “fair” in the sense of the income redistribution that Obama plans to make more of a feature of our tax structure?

Taxes are not a unitary matter. People’s opinions of them depend at least in part on where they perceive the money to be going, and how it will be administered. If people believe they are getting something valuable for their hard-earned bucks, that helps. There’s a general agreement that some sort of taxes are needed for the basics: infrastructure repair, armies, police, firefighters, and primary and secondary education and state colleges. There is disagreement about what may constitute other “basics,” but what most raises the ire of many Americans who are dissatisfied with their taxes is the sense that there is a great deal of graft and corruption in government, and/or that the fruit of their labor is going to support many people who voluntarily choose laziness, or in some cases are not even citizens at all. And it is especially galling when the dole is seen as permanent rather than a temporary bootstrap operation for a significant proportion of those who receive it.

Now, with the huge bailouts and the gargantuan Obama budget proposals, the role of government is poised to rise dramatically, and the “fairness” goal of taxes in the sense of income redistribution is very likely to rise as well. Thus, the stage has been set for today’s tea parties.

Marc Cooper, writing in the LA Times, doesn’t get why the tea party folks are so upset; they must be loony. After all, who could be offended when only the very richest are seeing their taxes go up, and then only by 3%? He calls the protesters “silly” (and that’s when he’s being nice—he also calls them “insane”); after all, every reasonable person knows the bailouts are for our own good, and that the money will be used to save our jobs and our homes, and who cares about the filthy rich anyway?

On reading Cooper’s article, the first thing that struck me was his condescending tone of ridicule towards anyone who might disagree with him on the issue: his need to downplay the populism of the tea party sentiments and to recast participants as the lunatic fringe of a party that has lost its way rather than representing a popular groundswell of protest. My guess is that he is ignoring both the grassroots nature of the tea parties and their appeal to non-fringe elements (and as well as to some Democrats) because it is almost literally incomprehensible to him that there could be a populist movement that aligns more with traditional Republican sentiments than Democrat ones and that could have a grievance that is valid even though it happens to be something with which he disagrees.

Cooper and those who agree with him are also failing to understand where this outrage is coming from (they also tend to cite the excesses of the Bush budgets, saying “he did it, too,” and ignoring the scale difference between Bush and Obama as well as the fact that a great number of Republicans disliked Bush for that very reason). My sense is that what’s behind Cooper’s disdain, and that of many others who don’t understand the tea party protests, is a major disagreement on the role of government in our lives, and on government’s ability to demonstrate wisdom and efficiency when performing a task such as bank bailouts and increasing regulation of the economy. He doesn’t seem to understand that some people, even if they are not rich, believe (as Joe the Plumber did) that someday they may get there, and that the rich are neither demons nor ever-flowing ATM machines for the country, but serve to drive its economy when they keep cash in the private sector and create businesses and jobs.

In short, most of those participating in tea parties define “fairness” quite differently. This philosophical divide is the source of much of the dissatisfaction demonstrated in the protests, and whether Cooper agrees with them or not, they do have a valid argument with a long and illustrious history.

Let’s hear, for example, from Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address:

[W]ith all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

Although most people think it was Jefferson who said “the government is best that governs least,” and although he may indeed have agreed with the sentiment, it was actually John O’Sullivan, founder of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, who in 1837 wrote the sentence in that journal. It was followed by:

No human depositories can with safety, be trusted with the power of legislation upon the general interests of society so as to operate directly or indirectly on the industry and property of the community. Such power must be perpetually liable to the most pernicious abuse, from the natural imperfection, both in wisdom of judgment and purity of purpose, in all human legislation, exposed constantly to the pressure of partial interests; interests which, at the same time they are essentially selfish and tyrannical, are ever vigilant, persevering, and subtle in all the arts of deception and corruption. In fact, the whole history of human society and government may be safely appealed to, in evidence that the abuse of such power a thousand fold more than overbalances its beneficial use.

I’m not as down on government as O’Sullivan was; I think there’s much less than a “thousand fold” difference. But his generally cautionary message continues to ring true today; history has certainly offered a lot more evidence to bolster his argument in the years that have passed since he wrote those words.

And now, I’m outta here—to mail in my taxes, fair or unfair. And then to go toss some tea with a few like-minded individuals.

72 Responses to “Thoughts on tax (and tea party) day”

  1. Baklava Says:

    Almost done eating lunch so that I can walk to the state capitol building of CA (7 blocks away)….

    …. to protest !

  2. vanderleun Says:

    What might happen to that poll if you removed that part of the population that pays no taxes?

    That figure is currently about 46 million or one third of all returns.

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/press/show/24600.html

  3. Troy Says:

    I agree with Baklava. If I pay taxes (or not), and get a tax refund, I’m more likely to say that I’m satisfied with the amount of taxes I pay. I think taxes are a little bit “out of sight, out of mind” for many people. Since most people’s taxes are taken out of their paychecks automatically, they don’t really think much about them. If they had to physically write a check to the IRS each month, they’d be less inclined to be satisfied!

  4. Thomass Says:

    “So, what does it all mean?”

    Low income people pay no federal taxes… and they say that ‘seems about right’ on polls.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    Troy is absolutely right. The self-employed, such as myself, pay estimated taxes every quarter, and write a check for health insurance every month. I know exactly what I pay for each. Most people have little or no idea.

  6. Occam's Beard Says:

    Someone please explain to me again why people who don’t pay taxes nevertheless get to vote on how those taxes will be spent.

    Starting the countdown to my tea party, at 6pm.

  7. Logern Says:

    Someone please explain to me again why people who don’t pay taxes

    No representation without taxation?

    I’ve heard of something similar.

  8. Kt D Says:

    There have been raging questions over whether or not these tea parties were, in fact, party-backed as MSNBC blamed Fox News and Fox News–undoubtedly–covered such events left and right. But it seems rather obvious that these groups are generally made up of regular men and women who are frustrated with recent taxes. I’d also add that Fox and the right-leaning media have certainly seemed to encourage these events/their coverage, but what do you expect? Republicans no doubt see this as an easy way to use public sentiment for an anti-tax platform. And there’s really nothing wrong with that. Still, I don’t think the media has fully shown the reality of the protests–the average individuals made up of Dems, Repubs and everything in between–who have exercised their 1st Amendment rights to congregate and speak their minds. There’s an interesting video on all of this at newsy.com. It’s worth watching:

    http://www.newsy.com/videos/u_s_taxes_and_tea/

  9. Baklava Says:

    Occam wrote:
    http://neoneocon.com/2009/04/15/thoughts-on-tax-and-tea-party-day/#comment-106908

    Guess what. I too am self employed with a C-Corporation. I too know exactly how much taxes I have to pay each month and how much I have to pay for health insurance.

    Yes, I’m part of the top 10% of income earners who pay 72% of the income taxes.

    Is that fair. No.

    The top 10% of income earners do not make 72% of the income.

    When 50% of the income tax payers pay 2.99% of the income taxes, that segment of America has very little investment in the roads, national defense or much whatever federal taxes go to these days.

  10. marine's mom Says:

    I went to a tea party today in our little town. My 80-year-old Mum is visiting from New Zealand and was totally excited to participate. When she got here a month ago she thought Obama was God’s gift to America. We have since set her straight.
    “But Mum, who pays for all those free things?”
    Oh, right.
    She says she is going to go home and tell everyone in NZ how it REALLY is in America.
    I made her a sign.
    It said: Socialism kills Freedom.

    As far as taxes go, Neo, I think it is like the frog in the pot of water that is gradually brought to the boil. He doesn’t notice the temperature change until it’s too late.

  11. FredHjr Says:

    My wife and I have combined income over Obonga’s threshold of $250. So, I suppose Mr. Cooper would intone that my view of the matter is biased, while the stiff who pays no taxes has a more valid opinion. Yeah, Marc, that’s why you worked for Pres. Allende in Chile – he who was a closet Communist who sold himself as a soft-socialist. But the CIA and MI6 knew who and what he really was.

    What I am most concerned with is how government is now going to go from a little over 5% of our economy to over 13% of our economy. Also, there is the quintupling of our national debt. We are way past eating our seed corn.

    Our nation was not founded to be a kind of Euro-socialist entity, which is what Mr. Cooper and Obonga and Obonga’s supporters earnestly want it to be.

    This is going to be a long, knock-down, drag out fight to the finish between two visions of what our society should be. This fight has been brewing for decades. The time of postponing this brawl is long past.

  12. dane Says:

    Well I will restate one of my favorite quotes for these times – by Alexis DeTocqueville

    “The American Republic will survive until the congress realizes it can bribe the public with the public’s money”

    The worst thing is not only is O (mygodwhat’sgoingon) bama and his buddies doing exactly that – but they are also spending billions upon billions on programs to mollify small groups of people – like the Greenies.

    I am continually amazed how relatively small groups of people in this country get such political clout. I tend to think it has to do with organization and dollars.

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    No representation without taxation

    No representation without taxation != No taxation without representation

  14. jon baker Says:

    My libertarian boss at work is always saying you ought to have to have a job to vote. I am not sure how you would handle retirees, spouses who stay at home to take care of kids, etc, though. I don’t think his system would work, but something needs to be done. He also suggested anyone on welfare should have to be drug tested regularly- afterall, people with jobs are often tested-I could agree with that- not very libertarian though.

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    He also suggested anyone on welfare should have to be drug tested regularly- afterall, people with jobs are often tested-I could agree with that- not very libertarian though.

    You could consider a welfare recipient’s job to be staying off drugs, and drug testing to be a condition of employment.

    Drug testing isn’t very libertarian, but then welfare isn’t either.

  16. SteveH Says:

    “”He also suggested anyone on welfare should have to be drug tested regularly”"

    Govt has gained too much power already by pitting groups of citizens against each other. I’d rather see welfare recipients go untested than give this govt another inch so they can turn it into a mile that eventually effects those never intended.

  17. Elise Says:

    Have they just gotten so used to the state of things, like the frogs in the pot that slowly comes to a boil, that they’ve lost perspective?

    Back in late January or early February I heard a talking head on one of the cable channels say that there were lots of better ways to spend $1 Trillion than through the stimulus bill. When asked for an example, he suggested just suspending the income tax for a year. I thought that was a great idea but knew it would never happen for a number of reasons. The most important of those reasons is because if people saw how much more money they had to spend if they kept their tax money the government would have a revolt on its hands when it tried to start collecting again in a year.

  18. andy weintraub Says:

    When you ask people about the taxes they pay, they think about the check they write on April 15. But, as Milton Friedman taught, total taxes can only be accurately measured by the amount the government spends, since that is the best measure of what they’re taking out of the private economy. This is especially true today when much of government spending is financed by printing money which will yield to the tax of inflation after a 9 to 12 month lag. If the inflation tax were to be included in the above cited survey, the lower and middle income classes would be considerably more upset with the situation.

  19. dane Says:

    Years ago I was talking to cousin of mine (who has since passed away). We were watching some kind of idiocy on the TV having to do with politics and he made what I consider to be a profound statement – “The problem with democracy is that EVERY person has one vote.”

    Personally I also think that if you are not disabled and have received any kind of government support check for more than 12 months out of the preceding 24 you should not be allowed to vote.

  20. Occam's Beard Says:

    To Baklava ( http://neoneocon.com/2009/04/15/thoughts-on-tax-and-tea-party-day/#comment-106912 )

    If we ever have to Ctrl-Alt-Del this republic, the next time we ought to insist on a property/military service requirement to vote. If you don’t have skin in the game, you don’t get a say in the decisions – such as taxation and foreign policy – of those who do.

  21. rickl Says:

    Dane, Occam’s Beard:

    I agree wholeheartedly. The Founders created a republic, not a democracy. They knew perfectly well that pure democracy would lead to ruin. Today America is much closer to pure democracy than it has ever been, and we can clearly see the results.

    I think there originally was a property ownership requirement for voting. (It was restricted to white males, too, but that has since been addressed by the 14th and 19th amendments.) I don’t know when the property ownership requirement was dropped, but I think it was pretty early on. I would completely support bringing it back.

    Another alternative would to restrict voting to people with an IQ of 100 or above (that’s the median). The very notion that a person on welfare, living in Section 8 housing, collecting food stamps, with an IQ of 85 gets the same vote as person who owns a home or business is disgusting to me.

    We could also bring back poll taxes and literacy tests for voting. That would require repealing the 24th amendment, which outlawed poll taxes. Those methods used to be abused in the Jim Crow South to prevent blacks from voting, but there is nothing wrong with them in principle as long as they are applied fairly and across the board. A poll tax was a small fee assessed at the time of voting. It helped curb frivolous voting, and may even have helped deter vote fraud. A literacy test doesn’t have to be complicated. Even a simple question like, “What are the three branches of government?” would weed out millions of imbeciles who have no business voting.

    Aside from voting eligibility, I maintain that another huge step from republic to democracy was the 17th amendment. That provided for the popular election of Senators. Prior to that, they were chosen by state legislatures (which were popularly elected) to represent the state’s interests in Washington. The House of Representatives was popularly elected. Originally the House and Senate were two very different bodies, and that provided an important check and balance.

    Over the past 200+ years, the Republic has been slowly and steadily chipped away. The 16th and 17th amendments were both ratified in 1913, and together they set the stage for the explosive growth of the Federal government which began a generation later, and is being taken to new heights today. Personally, I have grown to despise the 17th amendment even more than the 16th (federal income tax).

    I am convinced that if we don’t rein in the democratic impulses and start placing rational limits on who is able to vote, we are clearly and irrevocably doomed.

  22. Logern Says:

    Well, if you’re going to means test people to vote, you’d want to means test the wealthy.

    Wealth means spit unless we know what you’re doing with it. You could be investing in your Columbian brother’s drug cartel, using it to influence foreign governments so you can operate a sex slave operation, or running a lucrative Somali pirate operation and the like.

  23. Baklava Says:

    Occam wrote:
    http://neoneocon.com/2009/04/15/thoughts-on-tax-and-tea-party-day/#comment-106924

    I should have 3 votes. I served 6 years and own 2 homes… he he . A 4th vote because I work (as one commenter suggested.

    Logern,

    Are you referring to the Kennedy’s, Dodd’s and Clinton’s????

  24. Baklava Says:

    Identity politics gets you nowhere.

    Logern, are you or are you not in favor of smaller government?

    One that can defend us, have a safety net, provide for the rule of law and infrastructure and allow us to be the most prosperous nation on earth.

    Or one that kills prosperity and drives many to dependency and DILUTES the safety net?

  25. TmjUtah Says:

    This administration is not an administration.

    It is a coup. Each act of executive overreach allowed to stand is reinforced by outrageous legislative excess. It is not an inexperienced executive stumbling through a maze of incumbent operators. It is a carefully planned operation, and is humming along perfectly in accordance with its author’s plan.

    Nationalization of businesses – financial sector, manufacturing, and getting ready to socialize healthcare. The overturning of contract law. Redistribution of wealth on an unimaginable scale aimed squarely at cementing one party’s hold on power. Spending that dwarfs the rates seen during the height of the cold war, WW2, and the Great Society boondoggle combined. Careful use of media complicity in crafting a populist, class war message that is essentially setting the trigger on the trap that will snap shut when hyperinflation explodes shortly after the 2010 midterms.

    We face serfdom, marketed as shared sacrifice and defined as subservience to the state.

    You’re damn right I protested today. In the rain that turned to snow right after noon in Salt Lake, at the Federal Building.

    We have one election – 2010 – to take save our country via the ballot box.

    And it won’t be easy, what with the Federal government enticing illegals with hints of amnesty while simultaneously ceasing any INS enforcement.

  26. Logern Says:

    I would put it another way Bakalava, I’m not in favor of government taking over, yet I’m in favor of more government that you are. Obviously.

  27. FredHjr Says:

    I know huxley cringes when I call Obonga a Marxist, but I know I’ve been right all along. I know these people and how they think. I know them better than they know themselves, and that is why I do not underestimate them and I have a healthy respect for the damage they will do.

    It’s one thing when you are picking my pocket. But it makes me even more furious when you are doing it to our progeny. Not just mine. Yours and the progeny of everyone else.

    At the Tea Party in Dover, NH today the key speaker read a few examples of what the Porkulus Bill money is being used for. It was appalling. I hope that today is the beginning of a movement and not just a blip on the screen.

    And I hope it is the beginning of the end for the Marxists in America. Like I said, we need to have it out with these folks. One way or another, this is going to be a fight to the finish. Winner take all. The stakes are too high. I refuse to cede the field of battle to those people.

  28. SteveH Says:

    This brewing dissent is going to force Obama and his lap dog media over the edge in bias and coersion. They wanted to keep things where they could do a little doublespeak shuffle and explain their actions away. That won’t be possible in the coming months.

  29. Occam's Beard Says:

    Wealth means spit unless we know what you’re doing with it. You could be investing in your Columbian brother’s drug cartel, using it to influence foreign governments so you can operate a sex slave operation, or running a lucrative Somali pirate operation and the like

    I can see why a Democrat would think of this. Judging by police blotters, it’s probably the topic of many conversations on that side of aisle.

    Seriously, though, you misunderstand. One is taxed on income, not wealth. Some stupid people have high incomes (not looking at Hollywood in particular), but that’s OK. People have a right to be stupid, and lots of people exercise that right. I just want people voting for increased expenditure to realize that they are going to be funding it.

  30. Occam's Beard Says:

    I should have 3 votes. I served 6 years and own 2 homes… he he . A 4th vote because I work (as one commenter suggested.

    Baklava, I’m cool with that. Your judgment is validated in my book.

  31. Occam's Beard Says:

    I know huxley cringes when I call Obonga a Marxist, but I know I’ve been right all along.

    Obama isn’t intelligent enough to understand Marxism.

    And I hope it is the beginning of the end for the Marxists in America. Like I said, we need to have it out with these folks. One way or another, this is going to be a fight to the finish. Winner take all. The stakes are too high. I refuse to cede the field of battle to those people.

    I’m with you 100%.

    And so are a lot of others, judging by the tea party I attended today. The liberals/ progressives/ socialists/ communists/ whatever-you-call-them have overplayed their hand. Badly.

  32. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “art of the population that pays no taxes? That figure is currently about 46 million or one third of all returns.”

    Where are they getting these figures? (I clicked on the link, IRS figures but still)

    I’m a divorced, single Dad with a 23 yr old daughter. Last year I got laid off and economically, it was a bad year. I made 21,175.00 which, included unemployment. I rented, shared a house, to make ends meet and I’m essentially debt free.

    I don’t deduct because single renters don’t have enough deductions to do so. I use the 1040V form but file electronically using TaxAct. Been doing it for years.

    My federal tax liability is 1540.00. That’s 7.2%, pretty low BUT I am paying taxes and 7% of 21k has a hell of a lot more impact on my life style than someone like Obama who is paying a rate of 32% on income of 2.7 million. I use him because I just heard the numbers on the radio today. That bracket and rate seem typical.

    I’ve never had a year and, I’m 60, where I didn’t pay taxes.

    In a ‘pure’ capitalistic system, 80% of the income and assets will gravitate into 20% of the hands. Fine, shouldn’t that 20% have to pay 80% of the taxes?

    I’m all for a balanced budget, so I’m not suggesting that federal revenue is optimally taxed. There’s a lot of waste in government.

    Are there really 46 million low income home owners out there? What am I missing here?

  33. pst314 Says:

    “Well, if you’re going to means test people to vote, you’d want to means test the wealthy.

    Wealth means spit unless we know what you’re doing with it.”

    You want the government deciding what wealth is legitimate? Seig Heil!

  34. pst314 Says:

    “For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader — the barbarians enter Rome.”
    –Robert Heinlein

  35. sweetoea Says:

    Thanks Neo,

    I have learned to disregard most polls. I always wonder who they poll.
    It is a disagreement about the role of government and
    individual liberty, freedom and RESPONSIBILITY.
    I went to our local TEA party. The best speaker was a black minister.
    It’s a warning to the pirates in Washington.

  36. pst314 Says:

    For the purposes of this discussion, “plebs” can include another class of parasite: government bureaucrats and NGO’s that live off taxes.

  37. Nolanimrod Says:

    Dear Neo,

    In noting they also tend to cite the excesses of the Bush budgets, saying “he did it, too,” you have pointed out an example of what I think is a sure identifier of a true liberal / “progressive.”

    It is the Yeah? But what about …? factor.

    If you say anything critical or even non-adulatory about any one or any group in their pantheon those words are the preface to any reply.

  38. dane Says:

    Rickl,

    Back in the day I understand why doing away with a literacy test was a good thing. But int his day and age there NO ONE who has not had the benefit of an equal opportunity to learn how to read. So I don’t see a problem with it. And, no, I do not apologize to anyone who says that would disenfranchise those who do not read English. Too bad – when my Mother became a citizen she had to pass a history test which required she read English.

  39. Baklava Says:

    Geoffrey wrote:
    http://neoneocon.com/2009/04/15/thoughts-on-tax-and-tea-party-day/#comment-106939

    OK, The number is WORSE than you wrote. The top 10% of income tax payers pay 72% of the income taxes in this country. They do not earn 72% of the income. Yes they do earn more income than the next 10%

    But Geoffrey, Wrap you head around this. This is an important point that leftists ***FAIL*** to understand. We need you and Obama to succeed and not fail. Ready.

    Raising income tax rates (which Obama plans to do on capital gains, upper income tax brackets, and corporate taxes) had a negative effect on the economy.

    NO MATTER how much a leftist wants things to be ***FAIR***, raising tax rates makes more misery, poverty, failure, bankruptcy, displaces more people out of homes, etc. Why? Because when the government takes more from businesses and upper income people LESS jobs are created as businesses hunker down, brace themselves and prepare for the people to spend less on goods and services.

    How is that fair?

    How is that good for America?

    How is that good policy?

    For success and for turning this country’s economy around – Obama needs to apologize for scaring people, and let them all know he learned macro-economics and now knows what to do. Obama needs to let everyone know he will CUT corporate tax rates and capital gains tax rates.

    Investment will skyrocket as people will know that capital gains will not be hammered. Therefore people will feel better about investing into stocks and homes.

    Businesses will be able to prosper and hire and when more people WORK, more people buy more goods and services.

    And there Geoffrey – if you study that lesson hard, you will understand macro-economics and it will do everyone a favor.

    Teach it once you learn it.

  40. camojack Says:

    I was going to ride my Harley to a “T.E.A. party”…but it was raining.
    (April showers an’ all that)

    I guess I’m just a “fair weather patriot”… :-(

  41. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Baklava,

    Clearly, the tone of my comment left you with the impression that I am a liberal. Sorry for the lack of clarity. I’m not, I’m an independent with strong conservative leanings. I’m also a neocon who arrived at those conclusions independently. (I found out about neocons after reaching my conclusions (2002) and was somewhat surprised that others had reached the very same conclusions.)

    I believe George Bush was a great President (WoT)

    I believe the MSM has become the democrat’s propaganda organ. An American Pravda.

    Are those bonifides enough?

    Never took econ 101 but I’ve picked up quite a bit from the net. Self-educated in that field, but six years of college and two degrees.

    I agree that taxes are too high and am fully conversant with the rationale for lowering capital gains and business taxes. I agree its the right thing to do and for the reasons you provided. But I do not agree that the truly wealthy should pay the same rate as I do. AND I do pay taxes. Always have and always will.

    I’m aware that 10% pay 72% of the taxes. It’s indefensible. That said, the corollary of the 80/20 rule is that those who make the money, pay the taxes.

    Whether 20% make 80% of the income and I suspect its not too far off, they end up with 80% of the assets.

    I know we can’t make things ‘fair’, life’s not fair. But that doesn’t mean, as a society, that we have to make things even more unfair.

    I used my actual figures and situation to make the point that low income people do pay taxes. (I can’t be alone, lots of low income single renters) And so this idea that the bottom 50% of the population is living off the rich and paying no taxes HAS to be bogus.

    The problem appears to me to be too much taxation. By that, I mean the total collected is too much. But the reason that’s done is because that’s the amount needed to fund the military, etc. AND the democrats entitlement programs.

    Neither side will give an inch. Conservatives give a free pass to government and military waste. Thousands of dollars for an item made to ‘military’ specifications that cost say $89. in civilian life. Anyone who’s spent any time in the military (I spent 4) or government knows its true.

    Liberals see their social programs as sacred cows despite them often being ineffective and even counter-productive.

    The only way out of this conundrum that I see is the need for a constitutionally mandated balanced budget.

    The only exception being wartime or a national emergency.

    Within a balanced budget, I favor a graduated tax with each categories rate of taxation predicated upon the total income vs the group of that category.

    So if 10% of the public makes 60% of the money they should pay 60% of the total taxes collected.

    Is that equitable? Or am I missing something?

  42. br549 Says:

    Not a financial wiz here, OK? But Geof Brit, you’re still placing people in groups.

    In my view, the U.S. is millions of individuals living under a set of laws and rights. These laws and rights should, and do, apply to all. At least, that is my personal America. There are exceptions – too many. But I won’t go into them now.

    To satisfy your criteria, it seems all I have to do is choose to be less than I am capable of, or otherwise remain below a particular income level, and let someone else pay the bill – and basically pay me the difference as well.

    Equipment and machinery made for civilian use is not designed to survive (as much as possible) the shock wave of a bomb blast. Military vehicles are designed to run on highways as well as mountain roads and no roads. Would you rather be in a hummer or a bradley – or a jeep cherokee or cj5 when a bomb blew up next to you on a desert road? Navy vessels are purposely subjected to under water blasts to test that very capability. With 4 years in the service, you know that.

  43. SteveH Says:

    “”So if 10% of the public makes 60% of the money they should pay 60% of the total taxes collected.

    Is that equitable? Or am I missing something?”"

    So how do you equitize non monetary discrepancies? Should the fellow who gets home at 9pm every day to see his family be compensated by the fellow who gets home at 4pm? Should the fellow who puts 20 family’s incomes at risk in a risky venture be compensated by the fellow who has no such responsibility outside of himself?

    This focus on inequitable monies is to pretend there are no tradeoffs and sacrifices already in place for those who pursue and aquire it.

  44. Baklava Says:

    Geoffrey,

    Fine with the Top 10% paying 60% of the taxes if that is the amount of income earned.

    The point is that liberals think that the rich don’t pay their fair share.

    Obviously either liberal lie or are ignorant

  45. Baklava Says:

    And,

    Raising taxes will produce more misery, displace more people out of homes, and cause more unemployment and negatively effect the economy.

    IS that what liberals like Geoffrey?

    They must like misery. Because that is the issue with tax rate increases that Obama so boldly and ignorantly wants to do.

  46. (Italian)Tea Party Round-Up & Open Trackback Says:

    [...] Wisdom, Riehl World View, Donklephant, American Spectator, Patterico’s Pontifications, Neo-neocon, [...]

  47. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    br549,

    I don’t like putting people into neat little categories either but we are talking about the tax code. Some sort of broad categories are unavoidable in determining what is a fair share of taxation.

    I’m merely asserting there might be some sense to the idea that we pay the % of taxes that our income category dictates. And that we do it within a balanced budget which, might result in a tax rate for the ‘rich’ of 20%…

    If so, I don’t care. I’m in favor of people keeping as much of their money as possible within the context of an equitable system.

  48. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    br549,

    Yes, I do know and agree that combat related equipment must meet a much higher standard than civilian equipment.

    That said, in 1970 I was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier, the radar operators equipment used an early version of the trackball… it was simply a 3 inch hard rubber ball set into the console, that rubber ball cost $300.00 and that was in 1970.

    There are thousands of other examples. The waste is obscene.

  49. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “how do you equitize non monetary discrepancies? Should the fellow who gets home at 9pm every day to see his family be compensated by the fellow who gets home at 4pm?”

    That fellow is presumably being compensated financially for his longer hours. That’s his choice. No one is making him choose money and status over familial time.

    Since the tax system is about money ‘non-monetary’ considerations are necessarily incidental.

  50. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Raising taxes will produce more misery, displace more people out of homes, and cause more unemployment and negatively effect the economy.

    IS that what liberals like Geoffrey?”

    What liberals like, what they want, is for life to be fair.

    It is not and it is necessary that it not be fair. If life were fair, there would be no evolutionary progress.

    There would be no economic growth nor a (generational) rising standard of living.

    Naivete and a juvenile insistence that we can make life be fair is at the very heart of liberal ‘solutions’.

  51. Artfldgr Says:

    I get a special newsletter (or rather a few of them) which is an industry thing that people dont even know exists. it alerts me to whose birthdays are coming up in the week, what airports they are arriving in, what events they are covering, etc. (do you think that we actually hunt them down? no, their publicist gives out their sched and then the photogs appear. they pretend to dislike them so they are not hams, etc).

    anyway… one of them is a request paper. i know whats going to be featured or desired to be featured as much as two weeks before it happens.

    kind of changes your view of reality to know

    anyway… this paper requests things so that photographers show up, and images are produced and they can then use them to write the targeted articles.

    so again, i know whats coming up often before it does since i know what they are looking for.

    why tell all that?

    because, not one news service requested any pictures of the tea parties, which means that they would not spend any money for a photograph to go with any story (if they ran one).

    in essence, by not requesting, they insured that there would be a much lower amount of news photos in teh historical archives of Corbis, Globe Photos, Getty, and Wire Image… (yes i am part of one of these top 4).

    the top agencies dont have many photogs depending on how they do the work. some have lots, but they do mostly hack stuff and dont get the access. so the top people with access are not that many… there is maybe 50 of us with about 20 that do the majority of the work, we all know each other (for years).

    so i know that there is going to be a news black out because i know whether they want photos. a big news item will put out requests. a bigger one will separate them into different part requests..

    there were ZERO requests for the tea parties despite that there would be celebrities, notables, politicians and such ‘luminaries’.

    that means that it was more important to bury it than the money would be reporting it.

    sure enough… leafing through the news this morning, no newspaper had a photo.

  52. br549 Says:

    “What liberals like, what they want, is for life to be fair.”

    Well, once again, I need to borrow sgt. ted’s whistle and throw his bullshit flag down on the field of play.

  53. Baklava Says:

    Geoffrey wrote, “What liberals like, what they want, is for life to be fair

    Fairly miserable for everybody.

  54. Baklava Says:

    Dear liberal,

    An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single
    student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had
    insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one
    would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will
    have an experiment in this class on socialism.

    All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade
    so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test
    the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard
    were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

    But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied
    even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too;
    so they studied little.. The second test average was a D! No one was
    happy.

    When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.

    The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all
    resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
    All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that
    socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort
    to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one
    will try or want to succeed.

    Could not be any simpler than that…

  55. Tom Says:

    Coming back to Cooper of LAT and Krugman of NYT crapping on the tea party protests:
    I think they are worried about this movement succeeding. The democratic nature of the protests violates their strongly-held beliefs, aka prejudices. Thus their heaping of scorn upon the protests, the protesters, and the media that dares, yes dares, to actually cover them. I saw a lot of Joes (The Plumber), retirees, soccer moms, and some professionals at mine. No class conflict here.

    You can depend on liberals to be masters of scurrilous language, sinking into vulgarity when pressed.

  56. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Spent a couple of hours at the local Tea Party in Woodbridge,VA, held outside the Country Government Complex. A cold, rainy, bone-chilling day, yet, the police estimated that 350-400 people showed up—from what I saw there was a cross section of people–old and young, from their dress, a widespread cross-section, too, of economic situations, a few people in walkers and wheelchairs, young couples with babies in strollers—and lots of mostly home-made signs espousing all sorts of viewpoints, but mostly wanting to stop runaway pending and taxation; it was a very peaceful crowd, nothing radical that I could see—DHS eat your heart out—and perhaps too peaceful. My home made sign, perhaps too crowded, said this:

    Lower Taxes, Not Higher

    Less Government, Not More, More Freedom, Not Less

    No More Bailouts, No More Government Ownership & Control

    No Mandatory Public Service

    Perhaps a hundred or so of us lined the Prince William Parkway next to the Complex at any one time, and quite a few of the passersby on this busy four lane highway honked in support. A few local pols and one wannabe—perhaps trying to come from behind the crowd to take leadership of it–addressed the crowd, and pointed out many of the things we have noticed and write about here. From what I could see there was no MSM coverage of this event.

  57. FredHjr Says:

    Baklava,

    Great post. May I use it elsewhere (with proper attribution, of course)?

    Do ya think after that class that there were still some diehard Marxists in the group? I rather suspect there were. Some people just have it hard wired into them and they never change. Ever. I’ve seen them. I know people who were socialists at 18 years of age and now into their fifties and sixties they are still socialists.

  58. Occam's Beard Says:

    Are liberals worried? Check out href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G3fvNhdoc0&feature=player_embedded”>this clip of a CNN “reporter.”

    I’d say, “yep.”

  59. Occam's Beard Says:

    Oops. My bad. Try again.

    Are liberals worried? Check out this clip of a CNN “reporter.”

    I’d say, “yep.”

  60. nyomythus Says:

    I just don’t care about this tax stuff to much; yes we should pay taxes if we want a civil society, and yes paying to much is not good either … boring.

  61. Thomass Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I made 21,175.00 which, included unemployment. I rented, shared a house, to make ends meet and I’m essentially debt free.”

    “My federal tax liability is 1540.00. That’s 7.2%, pretty low BUT I am paying taxes”

    If you did the renting that is probably why. I think that is a different type of income (more like self employement) and does not get the same breaks as w2 income (its calculated on it’s own worksheet/s away from the straight 1040 income area). If you earned 21k working for someone, I don’t think you would have paid anything.

  62. Thomass Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “would be no economic growth nor a (generational) rising standard of living.”

    Also, you need scapegoats to explain why it is not fair… then you need camps for the scapegoats.. sort of goes downhill quickly as the fairness crowd gets too much power…

  63. Baklava Says:

    Nyom,

    Govt IS the problem. It’s changes in tax code has an effect on misery, unemployment, business cycles, etc.

    CA has long been with a higher unemployment rate and takes more from it’s citizens.

    We have 50 laboratories. It’s an incredible expirement were Texas is doing VERY well and states like CA could learn from Texas.

    And guess what? I’m not talking about one or two bad years here. I’m talking two to three decades.

    Empirical

  64. (Italian)Tea Party Round-Up & Open Trackback « mondopiccolo Says:

    [...] Protein Wisdom, Riehl World View, Donklephant, American Spectator, Patterico’s Pontifications, Neo-neocon, NewsBusters.org, Gateway Pundit, Michelle Malkin, Founding Bloggers, Wizbang, Protein Wisdom, Big [...]

  65. Occam's Beard Says:

    Baklava, California used to be like Texas, and other western states. After all, this is where Reagan came from.

    Then we had a liberal infestation set in like cockroaches (no offense intended – to cockroaches, that is) from the East Coast.

    What used to be one of the wealthiest states, with superb public education and reasonable taxes, has become a financial basket case with lousy public education, sky-high taxes, and lots of social ills.

    But we have a legislature packed with liberal Democrats (unremovable, because they successfully gerrymandered their districts), and lots of feel-good liberal programs to cater to the downtrodden, the work-shy, the druggies, the public service unions, and the criminally-inclined – in short, all the core Democrat constituencies.

  66. Baklava Says:

    Occam,

    Agreed. Nyom thinks all that is so unimportant and uninteresting….

    Good for him for stating it so bluntly. At least I know where he/she is coming from.

    I care.

    He/She doesn’t. ;)

  67. Occam's Beard Says:

    Money qua money isn’t important. But taxes are more than just money: they’re power.

    Our civil liberties have been eroded by political correctness, which endeavors to label any undesired commentary as “hate speech.” (For example, anyone who is less than adulatory toward the Messiah is almost certain to be accused of racism.)

    That erosion has taken place slowly, over years, and we’ve come to accept it. But now the socialists are making a grab for power through seizing control of the economy. No longer content to advance their agenda through the laughable global warming ploy (“the government has to control the economy – it’s for the children!”), they’re grabbing for the brass ring by manipulating tax policy.

    That’s the issue, and why it matters.

  68. Fred2 Says:

    On Marc Cooper, neo said:
    “…a major disagreement on the role of government in our lives, and on government’s ability to demonstrate wisdom and efficiency when performing a task such as bank bailouts and increasing regulation of the economy.”

    No, just normal cluelessness. To have a major disagreement you have to have understanding.

    Cooper does raise some okay points: The current tea party folks do have representation. The tea parties don’t have a coherent alternative economic plan.

    The rest of Coopers points are crap. But it is unfair of Neo to point this out. With the whole web to choose from, there is no bottom to the “worst of the web”. You can always find some good juicy idiocy to use as a straw man. Actually finding some is not an accomplishment.

  69. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “If you earned 21k working for someone, I don’t think you would have paid anything.”

    I earned the income both working for a company and then through unemployment. I paid taxes on the unemployment. I was the renter, I collected no income through renting to someone else.

    Because I am a single renter, I do not qualify for the long form, so no deductions. That is the case for every employed, low income, single renter. I imagine there are millions of us. We do pay taxes, there is no avoiding it.

    It’s bogus that the poor do not pay taxes, I’m living proof of that not being the case. The % of total taxes collected from the top echelons is too much but that is because the amount the government ‘needs’ is too much.

    Congress refuses to live within a budget because either the military and/or the entitlement programs must be cut back and neither side will give an inch.

  70. Thomass Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I earned the income both working for a company and then through unemployment. I paid taxes on the unemployment. I was the renter, I collected no income through renting to someone else.”

    Wow. Good to know, glad you brought it up. I have to fill out a 1040ez for my 3 year old (she’s late paying taxes at this age, a good start… she can probably work in a future dem presidential admin). I’ll have to check out the actual tables when I do it / have the stuff in hand.

    (She did some extra work on a commercial and got a W2 of her own.)

  71. Thomass Says:

    Fred2 Says:

    “Cooper does raise some okay points: The current tea party folks do have representation. The tea parties don’t have a coherent alternative economic plan.”

    That’s not true really. That’s accepting the Obama-esq framing that there has to be ‘a plan’. Whereas no majority of economists actually ever agreed with Obama that the government has a role here or that Keynesian economic style stimulus even can work (under any scenarios). My plan is to not do economic stimulus… because Keynesian economics don’t work… and it quickly descends into pork, payoffs, and/or corruption in the name of stimulus spending (all of which can hamper a recovery… since a bigger and more corrupt government is a bigger parasite on the private sector). Calling that ‘not having a plan’ is spin. I’d say it’s my reasoned decision to not pursue stimulus spending. This dem spin is right down there with saying I’m anti science for wanting morality to be involved in science funding decisions (re: typical Obama partisan language games… while claiming to not be partisan…).

  72. FredHjr Says:

    The fact is that it is the risk takers and achievers who build the businesses that hire people and pay taxes. Anyone with half a brain can see that. Taxing the achievers at higher and higher rates does not reward them for what they add to the economy. The government does not add to the economy, and it is theft, pure and simple, to go with the idea that the government owns everything you make and invest and then decides how much of it you can keep.

    I’m a professional investor. I work as an analyst. Everyday I see examples of how people who make a ton of money more than I make are the ones who drive our economy, even in recessions. Yes, even in recessions. I have yet to see evidence that government grows the economy.

    I think I should get some f___ing respect in this opinion, since I used to be a Marxist years ago. I know how the other side thinks even when they are not thinking (or aware of what they are thinking). These people are amateurs and they know nothing of the real world, socialist or free market. They would screw up both – they are that incompetent. Rent seekers all of them. They add zero value to our economy. They are parasites.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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