We are the 99%

July 23, 2008

From Our Friends At The Trib

Interesting (and selective) use of the Wall Street Journal today from our friends on the editorial board over there at DickieCougarMellonScaife's little paper that could.

First the editorial. It's yer basic "The Democrats want to tax the ecomony to death" or something. The only real economic facts are here:
Those earning more than $108,904 paid 71 percent of all incomes taxes. The top 50 percent of earners paid 97.1 percent. Those with incomes below the median income paid 2.9 percent of all income taxes -- a record low.
And they took them from this editorial. Take a look:
The top 10% in income, those earning more than $108,904, paid 71%. Barack Obama says he's going to cut taxes for those at the bottom, but that's also going to be a challenge because Americans with an income below the median paid a record low 2.9% of all income taxes, while the top 50% paid 97.1%. Perhaps he thinks half the country should pay all the taxes to support the other half.
Today, however, there was another piece in the Wall Street Journal. One I am sure the guardians of all things conservative at the Trib would probably just chalk up to "whining."

Let's begin:
In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.
And:
Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The group's share of the tax burden has risen, though not as quickly as its share of income.
And:
As the wealthiest Americans' share of income has risen, so has their share of the income-tax burden. The group paid 39.9% of all income taxes in 2006, compared with 27.6% in 1988. In the most recently reported five years, however, the share of income reported by the very wealthy has risen faster than the group's share of income taxes.
Whiner.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

John K: 86% of all federal income taxes are paid by the top 25% of income earners.
The top 50% pay 97% of all income taxes.
The top 1% pay 39% of all income taxes.
Dealing strictly with the single tax bracket you can make $7,825 and be in the 10% bracket. However you get two exemptions in this bracket. $5,350 standard plus $3,400 personal which equals $8,750 of income which is not taxed at all. Thenof course you get free money called EITC. You Hussein Obama acorn people should know this.
So we have a segment of our population that pays no federal income taxes and yet think they have a right to vote and complain. I wonder why? They have no stake in the govt except to demand that people who actually earn money pay more for their benefits. You lefties owe me. LOL LOL LOL Jefferson and Madison et al warned us about this. I paid attention but you lefties clearly did not.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen;

There you have it. From our lover of democracy: people who pay no taxes should not have the right to vote.

Democracy? John K doesn't believe in it.

Anonymous said...

John K: Yep, people who have no stake in the financing of govt should have no right in its management. This is a good deal for those who pay no taxes. They get to make laws that continue to take more of the earnings of the people who do pay. Founding fathers as well as Rousseau warned of us this.

Anonymous said...

John K: Lowest 1/5 of households receive $8.21 in govt spending. Meanwhile, middle income people only receive $1.30 in govt spending. So we have a group that keeps taxing the middle class for their own benefits. This is not democracy. This is tyranny.

Justin said...

Look out! The poor are coming, the poor are coming!

Eric W said...

It's self-imposed tyranny. Silence is complicity, and too few people vote. Worse yet, few who vote bother to actually learn anything meaningful about the candidates. Party levers should be banned. If you want to vote all-Dem or all-Rep, you should have to select each candidate individually.

Anonymous said...

John K: Wrong again Eric. But spoken like a true liberal. Saddam Hussein got elected with 100% turnout. Robert Mugabe got elected with 80% turnout. List goes on and on. Voting is none of your business. Having an entire class of people who contribute nothing towards govt but take from it was never the intent of this country. If you taxed everyone at the minimum 10% we would have no deficit at all. But when you exempt a huge group, 47%, and part of that group actually gets more in refund than they contribute, EITC, you set up failure.
But, if you really believe what you wrote, then I am moving onto your couch. I will eat your food, watch your TV etc etc. And you better not complain. LOL LOL LOL

Eric W said...

"Having an entire class of people who contribute nothing towards govt but take from it was never the intent of this country. If you taxed everyone at the minimum 10% we would have no deficit at all."

I do not disagree with you on this point. If there must be an income tax at all, I'd prefer it be a flat percentage with few, if any, loopholes.

That said, I still think that the tyranny is largely self-inflicted. I'm well aware of voter intimidation (ala Hussein) and tyranny of the democratic majority. That's why ours is a representative republic. However, given how little traction the flat tax has had in Congress, much of the blame must rest on voters' shoulders for electing or re-electing the fools who perpetuate graduated taxes. You may not be voting for those folks (though I have to wonder when your representatives last fought for the flat tax), but a hell of a lot of others are. If folks don't like moochers, they need to stop voting for socialists.

Justin said...

How in hell is a graduated tax a socialist concept? I'll never understand some people's use of that term. Anything they disagree with that's slightly to the left of their particular ideal gets called "socialist". It does real socialists a grave disservice when people like Barack Obama are labeled that way.

Taxes are a sticky subject. Almost everyone wants them to be as fair as possible, and most people want them to be as simple as possible. They don't seem to realize, and I'm including you in this assessment, that those two ideals are mutually exclusive. It can be simple, or it can be fair, but it cannot ever be both.

The simplest tax, ignoring the lack of any tax at all (which would not work for obvious reasons), would be a flat dollar amount. This is inherently unfair because it is a regressive tax; lower income people would have a disproportionate burden in those circumstances. Your flat tax is the next step up. Slightly more complex, but much more fair.

The only problem with complex income tax laws is that people have difficulty navigating them and figuring out what their real obligations are and are not. Of course, when you consider that half the population has below average intelligence, maybe that's not necessarily the fault of the laws.

Eric W said...

"How in hell is a graduated tax a socialist concept? I'll never understand some people's use of that term. Anything they disagree with that's slightly to the left of their particular ideal gets called 'socialist'."

I apologize if I've misused the term. Perhaps "communism" or "marxism" would fit better. My intention was to reject "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need" as a just policy to be enforced by law.

"The only problem with complex income tax laws is that people have difficulty navigating them and figuring out what their real obligations are and are not."

That's certainly not the only problem. Another is that there are numerous loopholes that the rich can more easily exploit to lower their effective tax rate well below their bracket's nominal rate. Furthermore, there is less than universal agreement on what constitutes fairness. Progressive taxes may be intended to be charitable, but to many (myself included) they amount to theft. It is certainly not fair to extract more tax from anyone simply because they can afford to pay it. Granted, the same rate extracts more money from a larger income, but at least everyone would be taxed at the same rate.

EdHeath said...

Well said, Justin, but let's fill in a detail or two. A flat ten percent tax on a ten thousand dollar annual income will yield a thousand dollars, and on a million dollar annual income will yield one hundred thousand. Not fair in a way, in that the rich person is paying way more. But the poor person spends more of his/her income on life sustaining necessities, like food and shelter, and will miss that thousand dollars more than the rich person will miss the hundred grand. That’s why we have a progressive income tax structure, it is way not just of being fair, but of balancing fairness and still giving the rich an incentive to make and invest money. Over the past fifty years, during administrations Republican and Democratic, during boom and recession, the income gap between the rich and everyone else has widened. Not much of a surprise, the government actually has very little incentive to do anything about this, because the rich give money to politicians.

The bottom ten percent of the country include people whose ancestors have been in that same bracket. They don’t have much invested in this country, because as far as they can see it has never offered them anything. The education it offers is second rate and a con job anyway since it will not open doors for *them* (the bottom ten percent). Joining the army just gives them the chance to die so the rich can have oil. Welfare has already gone away and now people want to take away Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Yeah, yeah, personal responsibility and you should try to get educated because that is really your only hope. But we should try to see there are other sides to the issue, that we may not agree with, but other people feel are valid.

Justin said...

I apologize if I've misused the term. Perhaps "communism" or "marxism" would fit better.

How about "mainstream"? I can't even come up with that many Republicans who think the graduated tax is a bad idea, and I don't think anyone here would be willing to call them socialists.

It is certainly not fair to extract more tax from anyone simply because they can afford to pay it.

You say that as if it's obvious on the face of it. It's not. Yours is a simplistic viewpoint borne of nothing more than being bitter about having to give someone else money that you deem to be yours. (Hint: it never was yours to begin with, really.)

Ed makes some good points in his post that I left out largely in the interest of space. In order to understand why the only way to have a fair tax is for it to be a complex tax, you have to look beyond the narrow scope you're using to view the issue and look at everything.

And I shouldn't have to keep reminding people that it was Kennedy, not a Republican, who started the current trend to lower the tax rate of the top bracket.

Eric W said...

"A flat ten percent tax on a ten thousand dollar annual income will yield a thousand dollars, and on a million dollar annual income will yield one hundred thousand. Not fair in a way, in that the rich person is paying way more. But the poor person spends more of his/her income on life sustaining necessities, like food and shelter, and will miss that thousand dollars more than the rich person will miss the hundred grand."

Why should we be taxing based on what will be missed? That sounds an awful lot like theft to me. "Don't steal from the poor because he'll suffer. Steal from the rich because they won't really miss what you take." How is that ethical? Furthermore, who's to say that the government knows better regarding how to distribute money fairly or justly?

Eric W said...

"How about 'mainstream'? I can't even come up with that many Republicans who think the graduated tax is a bad idea, and I don't think anyone here would be willing to call them socialists."

1) So it's a popular idea. That doesn't make it a good one.
2) I'm not a Republican.
3) Even if I was a Republican, I certainly wouldn't support the big government crap modern Republicans support.

Eric W said...

"Yours is a simplistic viewpoint borne of nothing more than being bitter about having to give someone else money that you deem to be yours."

Bitter, eh? i suppose next I'll be clinging to my guns and my religion. ;)

Seriously, though, why shouldn't the fruits of my labors be mine?

Justin said...

Eric, you're making a lot of statements assuming an ethical high ground that doesn't inherently belong to you.

How is it ethical to "steal" from the rich? Let's reframe that question: how is it ethical to cause people with low incomes to worry about how they're going to pay for their food or utility bills because their income taxes won't let them?

Let's finish my comment with a couple quotes:

Liberals want the government to be your Mommy. Conservatives want government to be your Daddy. Libertarians want it to treat you like an adult. - Andre Marrou

Libertarians want to kill mommy and daddy so that they can stay up later and buy more ice cream. - Mike Huben, Critiques Of Libertarianism: A Non-Libertarian FAQ.

Eric W said...

Six Myths About Libertarianism by Murray Rothbard

Eric W said...

"how is it ethical to cause people with low incomes to worry about how they're going to pay for their food or utility bills because their income taxes won't let them?"

Set the rate reasonably and that's not a problem. Curb government spending, and keeping the rate low isn't a problem.

Justin said...

1. What does that essay have to do with anything we're discussing? I think I have a pretty strong hold on what Libertarianism means. Just because I disagree with it on a basic level doesn't mean I think you're all a bunch of drugged-up kooks who think it's okay to whack someone over the head and take their stuff. If you're referring to the quotes I pasted, I think you need learn to read figurative speech.

2. So what do you propose to cut? Sure, there's a lot of cruft that could and should go. But that's not what you're talking about, and we both know it. "Cut spending" is code for "cut programs" and has little to do with making existing programs more efficient.

People who think that government is inherently inefficient can simply look overseas at countries with advanced economies for counterexamples. If we're supposedly the best country on Earth, why can't we do what they do, but better? Nobody I've asked that question of has ever been able to give me an answer other than something that amounts to "we shouldn't even try".

Also, explain to me how a single government bureaucracy that has no interest in turning a profit is less efficient than hundreds of corporate bureaucracies that inherently want to take more of our money than they need to operate? (In this case, I'm thinking of health care, but it could really be anything.)

Eric W said...

"Eric, you're making a lot of statements assuming an ethical high ground that doesn't inherently belong to you."

To whom does it belong? Obviously, progressives believe their policy ideals are morally superior. Why am I not allowed the same conceit? If one does not believe one's ideals are morally and/or ethically superior, why seek to enact them?

Justin said...

That's a fair point, but I kind of thought it was widely accepted that, with all apologies to Mr. Spock, the good of the many outweighs the good of the one or the few.

Eric W said...

"That's a fair point, but I kind of thought it was widely accepted that, with all apologies to Mr. Spock, the good of the many outweighs the good of the one or the few."

On this we do not agree. However, reasonable people can disagree about what constitutes good, and what goods are best and achievable for the many. Libertarianism seems like a rather selfish philosophy, but it is based on the idea that the greatest goods that can be preserved (note: note granted) for the many is security in life, liberty, property.

Ironic note: In the end, the crew of the Enterprise acted in the best interest of the one, Spock, rather than the many. ;)

Eric W said...

"On this we do not agree"

Holy whopper of a typo, Batman!. We do not disagree.