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Are 80 People Richer Than Half the World? Not Really.

rich-poor

The global charity Oxfam is making its usual round of headlines with its annual report showing rising inequality. Most are focusing on the meme that the richest 1% own more than the rest of the world, the statistic that’s most startling to me is that just 80 people own more than the 3.5 billion people in the bottom half of the world.  While the issue of income inequality is quite real, Oxfam’s numbers are not. Or, at least, they’re quite misleading.

Ryan Bourne of the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs warns “Beware Oxfam’s dodgy statistics on wealth inequality“:

Oxfam’s claim that the richest 1 per cent own 48 per cent of the world’s wealth (and will soon own more than half) rests on Credit Suisse data. This data is on net wealth, which throws up all sorts of weird findings when you try to add it up across large populations. That is because net wealth is calculated by adding up the value of assets and taking off debts.

To see this, look at the figure below from the Credit Suisse report. If we were to split up the data into deciles, this methodology would suggest China has no people in the bottom 10 per cent – the world’s poorest – with most Chinese in the top 50 per cent. North America on the other hand supposedly has around 8 per cent of the world’s poorest population – because significant numbers of people in the States are loaded up with debts of various kind, making their net wealth negative!

wealth-distribution-global

According to this methodology, the poorest 2 billion people in the world have a negative net wealth. Someone who has 50p but no assets or debts would be above the bottom 30 per cent of the world’s population. It doesn’t take an advanced mathematician to work out that adding up lots of negatives at the bottom to an overall wealth share figure for the bottom 99 per cent will of course make that figure much smaller than a gross wealth figure. Oxfam has then taken this bogus figure, looked at recent trends (which show the share of the top 1 per cent rising) and simply extrapolated into the future to get their headline (which seems a huge assumption given the potential QE unwinding).

Aggregating net wealth figures is largely meaningless and not the way most people think about poverty, or indeed the ‘rich’.

Salmon’s column from last April (“Stop adding up the wealth of the poor“), which introduces the chart above, elaborates on this point:

How is it that the US can have 7.5% of the bottom decile, when it has only 0.21% of the second decile and 0.16% of the third? The answer: we’re talking about net worth, here: assets minus debts. And if you add up the net worth of the world’s bottom decile, it comes to minus a trillion dollars. The poorest people in the world, using the Credit Suisse methodology, aren’t in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh: they’re people like Jérôme Kerviel, who has a negative net worth of something in the region of $6 billion.

America, of course, is the spiritual home of the overindebted — people underwater on their mortgages, recent graduates with massive student loans, renters carrying five-figure car loans and credit-card obligations, uninsured people who just got out of hospital, you name it. If you’re looking for people with significant negative net worth, in a way it’s surprising that only 7.5% of the world’s bottom 10% are in the US.

And as you start adding all those people up — the people who dominate the bottom 10% of the wealth rankings — their negative wealth only grows in magnitude: you get further and further away from zero.

The result is that if you take the bottom 30% of the world’s population — the poorest 2 billion people in the world — their total aggregate net worth is not low, it’s not zero, it’s negative. To the tune of roughly half a trillion dollars. My niece, who just got her first 50 cents in pocket money, has more money than the poorest 2 billion people in the world combined.

Or at least she does if you really consider Jérôme Kerviel to be the poorest person in the world, and much poorer than anybody trying to get by on less than a dollar a day. All of whom would happily change places with, say, Eike Batista, even if the latter, thanks to his debts, has a negative net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now $1.7 trillion is undoubtedly a lot of money: there is an astonishing amount of wealth inequality in the world, and it’s shocking that just 67 people are worth that much. You could spread that money around the “bottom billion” and give them $1,700 each: enough to put them squarely in the fourth global wealth decile. But let’s look at just the top two-fifths of the 3.5 billion people referred to in the Oxfam stat. That’s 1.4 billion people; between them, they are worth $2.2 trillion. And they’re a subset of the 3.5 billion people who between them are worth $1.7 trillion.

The first lesson of this story is that it’s very easy, and rather misleading, to construct any statistic along the lines of “the top X people have the same amount of wealth as the bottom Y people”.

The second lesson of this story is broader: that when you’re talking about poor people, aggregating wealth is a silly and ultimately pointless exercise. Some poor people have modest savings; some poor people are deeply in debt; some poor people have nothing at all. (Also, some rich people are deeply in debt, which helps to throw off the statistics.) By lumping them all together and aggregating all those positive and negative ledger balances, you arrive at a number which is inevitably going to be low, but which is also largely meaningless. The Chinese tend to have large personal savings as a percentage of household income, but that doesn’t make them richer than Americans who have negative household savings — not in the way that we commonly understand the terms “rich” and “poor”. Wealth, and net worth, are useful metrics when you’re talking about the rich. But they tend to conceal more than they reveal when you’re talking about the poor.

Again, none of this is to say that disparity isn’t an important issue—it is!—but that we need to measure it in a thoughtful way.

I’m not sure whether it’s problematic that Charles and David Koch and Sheldon Adelson have $118 billion in wealth between them (coincidentally occupying spots #6, #7, and #8 on the Global 80). But I do worry that they have so much more influence over our elections and access to our policymakers than the bottom 300 million Americans combined.

I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with people who’ve done nothing more significant that being related to the founder of Walmart occupy spots #9, #10, #13, and #14.

And, frankly, I’m probably more disturbed that I have no idea who probably 60 of the 80 people are. It’s one thing for Bill Gates (#1), Larry Ellison (#5), Larry Page (#17), Jeff Bezos (#18), Sergey Brin (#19) and even Mark Zuckerberg (#21) to be phenomenally rich; they at least made some major contribution to how people live their lives.

Regardless, though, aside from skimming some of their wealth to finance improvements in the infrastructure and funding welfare programs, the concentration of wealth at the very top really has very little to do with the plight of the poor. To the extent that they’re keeping money that would otherwise be going to people who work for them, that effects the middle class, not the the poor.

Indeed, we’ve actually made significant strides in improving global hunger, infectious disease, access to drinking water, and other traditional problems of the poorest of the poor.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    Saying debt does not really exist is like explaining that while there’s no such thing as an actual border between Mexico and the United States you will get shot for trying to cross an imaginary line deemed the ‘border’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  2. Modulo Myself says:

    I would also question the reality of any wealth held. You can’t say that something–property, painting, yacht, bauble, equity portfolio–is worth 32 million and then deny that an entity can be meaningfully worth -32 million.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. gVOR08 says:

    Umh, if you want to compare wealth, what exactly would you use except net wealth?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  4. Scott says:

    I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with people who’ve done nothing more significant that being related to the founder of Walmart occupy spots #9, #10, #13, and #14.

    It is interesting that most people have forgotten that this country was founded on the principle (among many) of meritocracy. People immigrated to get away from the inherited, landed wealth of the home country.

    In general, for generations, we frowned on inherited wealth as antithetical to the American idea and had policies to inhibit that.

    Somewhere along the way, we’ve flipped the script.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  5. Rick DeMent says:

    Look I agree with the idea that people have a huge incentive to juice the numbers to make a point. Not hardly new, hell just look as some of the wild jobs figures being thrown around the Keystone pipeline debate. But I disagree that the wealth of those at the top don’t have a lot to do with the plight of the poor.

    Conservatives and libertarians love to scold people like me about how the economy not fixed, and that it’s not necessary to tear down the rich to improve the lot of the poor. But what the Conservatives and libertarians don’t seem to want to come to terms with is that the Economy is also not “bandwidth on demand. There is only some much raw material, labor, equipment, expertise, and so on in the queue at any given time and if you really truly think that the economy is infinitely elastic you’re nuts.

    Ask yourself this question, if you were goring to sit down with someone else had had absolutely no leverage over you, nor you over them, would anyone in their right mind design an economy with this level of wealth disparity? I mean I not talking about coming up with a system communistic levels of equality here. I’m talking about an economy where hard work, industry and discipline are richly rewarded. Even then there would be no one who would come up with the level of wealth disparity we have today. No one. The only what this happens is when the interests of many are have to yield to the interests of a few in a game that rigged.

    So the whole debate over what the real level of wealth disparity is angels dancing on the head of a pin. The answer is it’s too much and the solutions are pretty simple. Higher level in progressiveness in the tax code and use that money to fund infrastructure. not really rocket science, and if a few bazillionairs have a few fewer yatchs to ski behind then fine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  6. LaMont says:

    … aside from skimming some of their wealth to finance improvements in the infrastructure and funding welfare programs, the concentration of wealth at the very top really has very little to do with the plight of the poor. To the extent that they’re keeping money that would otherwise be going to people who work for them, that effects the middle class, not the the poor.

    I could be worng about your thought process but this premise usually comes from a place that assumes most poor folk are happy where they are and will continue to recieve hand-outs. I disjagree with the notion that it only effect the midlle class and not the poor. When buying power increases in the middle class there will be more demand. And where there is more demand there are more opportunities for the poor to get better paying jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. munchbox says:

    Maybe junkboxgrad can explain how the top 1% can pay off all American debt…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 20

  8. Steve Hynd says:

    “To the extent that they’re keeping money that would otherwise be going to people who work for them, that effects the middle class”

    Only in America is the catch-all term for those who work hard for their money the “middle class”. In the rest of the world, they’re called the “working class”. Just saying.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: @Rick DeMent: Yup. The Founding Fathers loved them some inheritance/estate taxes. Seriously, the last thing they wanted was an hereditary elite. How come the word of the Founders is sacred, unless it costs rich people money?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  10. C. Clavin says:

    blah, blah, blah….
    A bunch of nonsense to cover the fact that 30 years of chasing Republican Economic theory has not worked. Reagan’s crap about a rising tide was pure, unmitigated, horse $hit.
    Larry Summers:

    “If the US had the same income distribution it had in 1979, the bottom 80 per cent of the population would have $1 trillion — or $11,000 per family — more. The top 1 per cent $1 trillion — or $750,000 — less.”

    Note that date; 1979. When was Reagan elected? Coincidence?
    Inequality is rising…wages aren’t. If you account for inflation the average American household is making less than when Bush 43 took office.
    There are plenty of things we could do about it. But we won’t. Because Republicans are still peddling the same happy horsee $shit that Reagan was peddling. Until we can get them to stop it…to face the real world…to acknowledge their complete failure…nothing changes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  11. JKB says:

    @munchbox:

    That’s easy, first you confiscate their stock and sell it. But wait, those who buy the stock at the value when it was confiscated will then be the wealthy and we’ll have to confiscate their property. We’ll just keep up the confiscation/sell iterations until we have enough “cash” for the national debt. One glitch is that how much buyers will pay for the confiscated property should decline rather precipitously to a point where possessing it puts you below the confiscation threshold, for the moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  12. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: Maybe there isn’t a better way to compare (at least in this context), but at the same time, asserting a middle-class American is somehow poorer than a Zimbabwean laborer because the American has high credit card balances just seems kind of…ridiculous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Modulo Myself: I’m not saying that we should pretend that debt doesn’t exist. I’m saying that the fact that I owe half a mil on my house doesn’t make me poor.

    @gVOR08: My point—which is the same Salmon comes to—is that “wealth” is a stupid concept in comparing the rich and the poor. As @Mikey puts it, “asserting a middle-class American is somehow poorer than a Zimbabwean laborer because the American has high credit card balances just seems kind of…ridiculous.” Paper wealth just isn’t a meaning concept at that level.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  14. al-Ameda says:

    Oxfam’s claim that the richest 1 per cent own 48 per cent of the world’s wealth (and will soon own more than half) rests on Credit Suisse data. This data is on net wealth, which throws up all sorts of weird findings when you try to add it up across large populations. That is because net wealth is calculated by adding up the value of assets and taking off debts.

    Yes, that noted advocate of wealth-confiscation and socialist bank, Credit Suisse.

    Suffice to say that the wealthiest 80 people in the world have, by any measure, including data from the communist Credit Suisse operation, a widely disproportionate share of the world’s wealth.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  15. Slugger says:

    I think that inequality is a problem. Imagine that the best coach in football, Bill Belichick, was in charge of the rules of football; the Patriots would never lose. If society started with everybody on the same starting line and was totally meritocratic, there would be winners. The winners would then be able to turn their victories into power and influence, and the result would be a society with a poor Gini coefficient where wealth and position are largely hereditary, where a nurse pays a higher marginal tax rate than a multimillionaire, where better infrastructure is built in the better neighborhoods (including better schools), where the cops and military protect the rich, and where the instruments of the media spend all their time telling folks that things are the way they should be. This is how the world looks to me at a first approximation.
    Recognition of the problems arising from inequality have led the Brits away from empowering the monarchy; they do not want Prince Charles to actually rule them some day. Look at the list of candidates for the 2016 election. They are a bunch of Prince Charles clones, and that is why we should worry about inequality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  16. C. Clavin says:

    I’m reminded that OTB denigrated the Occupy Movement as nothing but hippies and hackey-sack games and drum circles.
    Yet here OTB is, years later, still trying to distract from inequality and the Oligarchy it has engendered. Shorter James:

    Sure inequality exists, but look at this shiny object over here”

    Guaranteed…inequality is going to be front and center in the 2014 campaign. Obama’s SOTU and his tax proposals will tee that up tonight…and Republicans will be forced to connect the dots between their populist rhetoric and their economic policies; an impossible task.
    Drum Circles, indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I’m not sure whether it’s problematic that Charles and David Koch and Sheldon Adelson have $118 billion in wealth between them (coincidentally occupying spots #6, #7, and #8 on the Global 80). But I do worry that they have so much more influence over our elections and access to our policymakers than the bottom 300 million Americans combined.

    How do you divorce the 2, James? Especially after the Supreme Court just put a great big “For Sale” sign in front of Congress**?

    ** or the White House, or the Governor mansions, or State houses, and coming soon to a court house near you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  18. JKB says:

    Charles and David Koch and Sheldon Adelson

    Interesting, you don’t point out George Soros, who, through his funding of activists, has a much more active political influence life. Oh and his net worth only increased by 20% and he made his money by trying to break the Bank of England. I guess if you’ve on the side to keep the “journalists” from mentioning your name, then wealth doesn’t matter?

    To the extent that they’re keeping money that would otherwise be going to people who work for them, that effects the middle class, not the the poor.

    Actually, they are keeping wealth generated by investing in productive enterprises that hire individuals who trade their know-how and willingness to work for a piece of the revenue generated, although most expect to be compensated even in revenue is negative, thus extracting a portion of the owners’ wealth when the enterprise is not making a profit. Theoretically, they could give monies in excess of market pay to the workers but this would come at the expense of being able to see the enterprise through period of net loss on revenue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  19. Another Mike says:

    @Scott:

    People immigrated to get away from the inherited, landed wealth of the home country.

    Really? That’s what you think?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    Interesting, you don’t point out George Soros, who, through his funding of activists, has a much more active political influence life.

    Nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @JKB: Interesting, you don’t point out George Soros, who, through his funding of activists, has a much more active political influence life.

    You see, there are “good” billionaires and “bad” billionaires. The Kochs and Adelson are “bad” billionaires; the “good” ones like Soros, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, David Boies, et al are good liberals, so they get a pass.

    And let’s look at the arguing here: you can earn all the money you want, and that’s great. But when you die, it’s all forfeited back to the government, who then decides how best to distribute what you leave behind. Oh, they’ll let you leave some to your loved ones and favorite causes and the like, but only a “reasonable” amount — and they decide what is “reasonable.”

    Unless you set up some sort of structure to take over your money while you live, and express your wishes after you die. Like the Kennedy family — I don’t think any of them have done honest work in a couple of decades. However, how often do you hear about them, vs. the Waltons — whose fortune was earned in a hell of a lot more honest fashion than the Kennedys’?

    But the key point needs to be emphasized — the disparity is a total red herring. If I make 10% more than I did last year, then I’m happpy. And if someone else who makes ten times more than I do manages to double their income, then so what?

    As much as I despise most of the Kennedy family and their legacy, I have no desire to see their ill-gotten wealth confiscated. BUT if such confiscation is to be done, let it be done equally, even to the Lions of Liberalism.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  22. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Interesting, you don’t point out George Soros, who, through his funding of activists, has a much more active political influence life.

    Nonsense.

    Sod off, Swampy.

    Here’s the list of the biggest donors from the 2014 election cycle.

    #1: Tom Steyer, over $73 million. (More than 3X #2, Michael Bloomberg)

    #8: Sheldon Adelson, $5.5 million

    #10: George Soros, $3.56 million

    #24: Charles & Elizabeth Koch, $2 million (tied)

    #24 David & Julia Koch, $2 million (tied)

    #33 Allan Soros, $1.5 million

    So, Soros & Son spent about 27% more than the Koch Brothers combined.

    It was a sad day lo these years ago, Cliffy, that you stopped to think about something… and never started up again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

  23. Mikey says:

    @Slugger:

    Imagine that the best coach in football, Bill Belichick, was in charge of the rules of football; the Patriots would never lose.

    It’s fine for him either way, because he just cheats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    What does it make you? In 1984, my parents bought a house for maybe 100K. My dad was making around 50 a year (salary plus Navy pension). My mom did not work. They paid it off pretty quickly.

    That’s about as dead center middle-class as you can get. Compare that to the person/persons with income of 240K or 120K who buy houses in the 600-700K range.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. Jack says:

    Leftists promote this “top 1%” story as something new, something insidious, and something conspiratorial. But they never mention this: the distribution has not changed since at least 1897. The modern welfare states of the world have yet to affect the statistical outcome. Welfare states can determine the rules by which the Pareto curve is attained. They therefore can influence which producers are at the top. But, ever since 1897, the distribution has not permanently changed. It merely fluctuates around a permanent pattern.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/01/gary-north/humans-beings-are-highly-unequal/

    None of this is news, nor has it been since 1897.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  26. Dave Schuler says:

    That’s about as dead center middle-class as you can get.

    My goodness. In 1984 that was upper middle class. Median income was twenty grand back then. It was upper middle class not “dead center”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. Guarneri says:

    Net wealth or net worth is of course only measured by net wealth. It’s a definition.

    Presumably if one does not lose the perception or reality of ability to service debt, it is gross wealth that controls lifestyle.

    Smearing debt or wealth all over, per capita like peanut butter, is silly.

    As JKB observed at 10:11, redistributionist policy in any material way is bone headed as asset values crash.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  28. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    As JKB observed at 10:11, redistributionist policy in any material way is bone headed as asset values crash.

    Do you consider our federal income taxation system to be a redistributionist policy in a material way?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Do you consider our federal income taxation system to be a redistributionist policy in a material way?

    Of course it is. Any system with refundable credits in which one can get back more than one paid in is by its nature redistributionist.

    That having been said, people tend to miss the primary effect of taxation – recirculation of capital.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  30. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:

    redistributionist policy in any material way is bone headed as asset values crash.

    So you are advocating the cessation of billions in subsidies to fossil fuel corporations?
    You intend on waiving your insurance and housing subsidies (assuming you get health insurance through your employer and claim a mortgage deduction)?
    You want to end the subsidies to Walmart and McDonalds and otheres who refuse to pay employees a living wage?
    Just want to make sure we are clear on what your thoughts are here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Once you account for all the dark money which is not required to be reported…then I will pay attention to whatever point it is you think you are making. Until then you are just lying by omission. Pathological, you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  32. Jack says:

    Redistributionist policies are stupid. All of the monetary wealth in the world could be evenly divided amongst all of the worlds inhabitants and in a very short time, it would all be back in the hands of the original owners.

    Since you did not redistribute productivity the inequality would immediately start establishing itself again.

    That’s why the “Great Society” has never taken shape. There are those who produce more than they consume who get wealthy, while many consume more than they produce continue their existence as “poor”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  33. LaMont says:

    @Jack:

    I am willing to bet you any amount of money that an insignificant amount of “poor” people actually consume more than they produce which makes your entire argument crumble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  34. Grewgills says:

    To the extent that they’re keeping money that would otherwise be going to people who work for them, that effects the middle class, not the the poor.

    Given the wages paid by 9, 10, 13, and 14 on that list you might want to rethink that statement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  35. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    You might want to look up marriage rates, who married who, women in the work force, out of wedlock birthrates, etc before you start comparing 1979 to today. Unless the demographics are similar, you cannot compare across decades. Also, the global economy is much different than in 1979 (think South Korea). Do you really think that if the U.S. had kept 70% marginal tax rates than somehow the U.S. would be more like South Korea and less like Greece?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  36. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Once you account for all the dark money which is not required to be reported…then I will pay attention to whatever point it is you think you are making. Until then you are just lying by omission. Pathological, you are.

    So, instead of the official, accessible records, we should trust your accounts of shadow funds and just trust that they make your point? And that’ll trump Steyer’s $73 million?

    Sod off, Swampy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Sod off, Swampy.

    Ooooh…a new insult. And such a powerful one from behind your keyboard. Who did you steal this one from?

    So, instead of the official, accessible records, we should trust your accounts

    The point is that since the SCOTUS has obfuscated the records…no one knows. You claiming to know, based upon an incomplete accounting, is tantamount to a lie. The fact that a direct line can be drawn between the SCOTUS and the Kochs is informative…but no more than that…still no one knows. Thus the claims you and JKB make are indeed nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  38. Jack says:

    @LaMont:

    I am willing to bet you any amount of money that an insignificant amount of “poor” people actually consume more than they produce which makes your entire argument crumble.

    Is that why there are so many people getting more back in taxes than they paid. Is that why 68% of all Federal taxes are paid by the top 10% and the top 20% pay 90%. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent…pay negative 9 percent. Yeah, I’ll take that bet. Bring on your evidence.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/101264757

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  39. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Ooooh…a new insult. And such a powerful one from behind your keyboard. Who did you steal this one from?

    Google it, git.

    The point is that since the SCOTUS has obfuscated the records…no one knows. You claiming to know, based upon an incomplete accounting, is tantamount to a lie.

    No, Swampy, you’re the liar.

    I gave publicly accessible records, and quoted them accurately. You then said that there are more important data. THEN you jumped to the conclusion that the secret information contradicts the records I cited. As you said, the phantom information is “no one knows,” but you know for certain that it shows the opposite of what I said.

    Pick your argument, Swampy. Is this spooky, shadow info unknowable, or does it contradict the public records I cited?

    Nah, don’t bother. I’m asking you to speak coherently and logically, and we all know that’s impossible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  40. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    Well we have had historical, or near historical, tax rates since Reagan and where are we today? Where is the economic boon predicted? Why is it failing so badly in Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Jersey? The proof is in the pudding and the pudding ain’t even close to what all you voodoo economic guys said it would be.
    Is 70% the right rate? Don’t know. Some think so. Some think not.
    All I know is that the Republican 30 year war on the middle class has been tremendously effective.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    If you can’t muster an coherent argument…you might as well go back to the hole you were hiding in after you were ridiculed over Benghazi.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  42. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    Redistributionist policies are stupid. All of the monetary wealth in the world could be evenly divided amongst all of the worlds inhabitants and in a very short time, it would all be back in the hands of the original owners.

    Apparently your comprehension of re-distributionist policies is stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  43. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “You see, there are “good” billionaires and “bad” billionaires. The Kochs and Adelson are “bad” billionaires; the “good” ones like Soros, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, David Boies, et al are good liberals, so they get a pass.”

    Yes. Those billionaires who spend money to help the country and the world even when it is against their own personal interest are the good billionaires. The ones who spend money to push a political agenda designed to advance their own bottom line at the expense of those who can’t afford to counther them, they’re they bad billionaires.

    You might want to write this down if it’s a hard concept for you.

    Doing good = good.

    Doing bad = bad.

    Financial status of person doing good or bad = neutral.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  44. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: The purpose of redistributionist policies is to take wealth from those who have it and give it to those that do not. Period. Stop.

    There is no redistributionist policy that takes from the poor and gives to the rich or takes from the uber wealthy to give to another uber wealthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  45. gVOR08 says:

    From WIKI’s excellent summary of Piketty’s:Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century:

    The central thesis of the book is that inequality is not an accident, but rather a feature of capitalism, and can only be reversed through state interventionism. The book thus argues that, unless capitalism is reformed, the very democratic order will be threatened.

    … there was a trend towards higher inequality which was reversed between 1930 and 1975 due to some rather unique circumstances: …

    …the world today is returning towards “patrimonial capitalism”, in which much of the economy is dominated by inherited wealth: …

    Piketty predicts a world of low economic growth …

    He proposes that a progressive annual global wealth tax of up to 2%, combined with a progressive income tax reaching as high as 80%, would reduce inequality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: So your guys are good, and ours are bad. Even for you, that’s an incredibly simplistic argument. I look at the things Steyer, Soros, Bloomberg, et al support, and I think it’s bad. But that doesn’t count, because you get to say that “we’re the good guys, and you’re the bad guys.”

    Keep pushing the envelope there, genius.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  47. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Seriously?
    So when my taxes goes to the fossil fuel industry it’s not being re-distributed?
    Capital gains and dividend subsidies?
    Carried interest?
    A trillion dollars in tax expenditures go to the wealthiest amongst us.
    Your view is tainted by your prejudices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  48. Jack says:

    @gVOR08:

    He proposes that a progressive annual global wealth tax of up to 2%, combined with a progressive income tax reaching as high as 80%, would reduce inequality.

    So, what is my incentive to work if someone will confiscate 82% of my income?

    And people wonder why we have generations of welfare “earners”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  49. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: So when my taxes goes to the fossil fuel industry it’s not being re-distributed?

    You need some new whines, Swampy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  50. @Modulo Myself:

    Saying debt does not really exist is like explaining that while there’s no such thing as an actual border between Mexico and the United States you will get shot for trying to cross an imaginary line deemed the ‘border’.

    Yes, but it’s also ridiculous to suggest that a homeless bum is wealthier than a suburban mom that’s underwater on her mortgage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  51. James Pearce says:

    @Jack:

    There is no redistributionist policy that takes from the poor and gives to the rich or takes from the uber wealthy to give to another uber wealthy.

    Snort. You say that as if it’s, you know, a fact…..

    Happens all the time. And it’s endorsed by your city council/local government. Probably paid for with your license plate fees or a mill levy.

    I got names. Would you like to hear them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  52. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Jack: So, what is my incentive to work if someone will confiscate 82% of my income?

    And people wonder why we have generations of welfare “earners”.

    The plan is to sneak up on you and take it. Pass it quickly, make it retroactive if necessary.

    First, of course, the “good guy” billionaires will be tipped off so they can protect themselves. Only the “bad guys” will be hurt.

    And if you refuse to go along with working just as hard and making just as much as they confiscate so much, you’re a “bad guy” and deserve what you get.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  53. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    So, what is my incentive to work if someone will confiscate 82% of my income?

    So you are saying no one worked during the Eisenhower Administration when the top rate was 90%? I’ve never read about that major work stoppage. Can you link to more information regarding it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  54. Tillman says:

    @Jack: I know. Such an excellent argument you’ve got there, what with American workers’ productivity scaling with wages over time.

    Oh wait, that’s not true, you’re talking about a rich man’s dilemma of whether to work or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  55. C. Clavin says:
  56. gVOR08 says:

    @Jack: One, same as it was when the US had a confiscatory 90% top rate. Back in the 50s, when equality was better and the economy was growing. Two, Piketty is focused on inherited wealth. What difference would it make if Alice Walton quit working? Did she ever?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  57. @gVOR08:

    He proposes that a progressive annual global wealth tax of up to 2%

    The problem with wealth taxes is that it encourages me to spend all my income on hookers and blow, thus leaving myself with no wealth to tax, rather than saving for the future and watching that money get chipped away year after year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  58. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin:

    So when my taxes goes to the fossil fuel industry it’s not being re-distributed?

    The fact that large corporations, like the average taxpayer, are abiding by the tax code and taking authorized deductions is not a subsidy. Your taxes are not going to them, the government is simply not getting as much.

    sub·si·dy

    /ˈsəbsədē/

    nouna sum of money granted by the government or a public body to assist an industry or business so that the price of a commodity or service may remain low or competitive.

    A subsidy is what we give wind and solar producers–a cut out because they cannot make it on their own because they produce crap.

    You cannot be so ignorant as to confuse deductions with subsidies. Or maybe you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  59. @Stormy Dragon:

    Yes, but it’s also ridiculous to suggest that a homeless bum is wealthier than a suburban mom that’s underwater on her mortgage.

    Thinking about it, it seems to me that solution is not ignoring debt but adding in three assets being ignored for most middle class people in the Oxfam study:

    1. The value of any education obtained (a person with a BS is better off than a high school dropout, this needs to be quantified).
    2. Treat unused credit as an asset.
    3. NPV of expected future income either from investments or from working.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    So when my taxes goes to the fossil fuel industry it’s not being re-distributed?

    They don’t. It’s interesting how many people (essentially EVERYbody) draws the paying for / being paid for line precisely at themselves. Taken in terms of net tax payments versus net benefit from federal spending, most of them are placing themselves on the wrong side of that line, i.e. most of them are net takers.

    Which is fine. It’s the only way that a civilized society can operate, but recognize it for what it is, and for where you fall in the bigger picture.

    Capital gains and dividend subsidies?

    Capital gains treatment incentivizes investment, which benefits you (and anybody else with a 401(k) or a pension) a great deal more than you think. That said, for upper bracket taxpayers, the capital gains rate is now 20%. Dividends, as of 2013, enjoy no beneficial treatment at all. They are taxed as ordinary income.

    Carried interest?

    Absolutely. Eliminate it today, but it’s not as much of a benefit as it’s perceived to be. Net estimates place the potential additional revenue to Treasury from eliminated carried interest treatment to be around $11 billion

    A trillion dollars in tax expenditures go to the wealthiest amongst us.

    That one is a whopper. How, exactly, are you deriving this figure?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  61. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Wait…are you completely un-aware that the fossil fuel industry receives billions in subsidies each year? Yes, or no?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  62. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And if you refuse to go along with working just as hard and making just as much as they confiscate so much, you’re a “bad guy” and deserve what you get.

    You make it sound like they are making him out to be a bad guy, when it’s his own argument that portrays him thus. He’s the one claiming the only reason there are poor people is because they don’t work enough to produce more than they consume. He claims high taxes are a disincentive from work, therefore he claims the government, by redistributing, is making him feel like a bad guy since he’s not working as much as he could to get the money he’s being taxed out of.

    So when the government doesn’t tax him out of his rightly-won earnings, he can stand on a mountain of dreck and know he is better due to having the most stuff. This is the right way of things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  63. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @gVOR08:

    Few taxpayers actually paid anywhere near the top rates. The prosperity of the 1950s was due to across the board employment in an economic environment where we had the world as a captive marketplace and could sell everything we could possibly produce.

    While I will agree that taxation recirculates capital, and that is a good thing, the net effect of it tends to be that the wealthy get wealthier, because the additional spending thus created just increases the sales of their businesses and the value of their assets.

    The net wealth of the middle classes doesn’t really increase that much (you have to factor assets against debt), but their standard of living does increase. That said, those two are not the same thing, and you can’t substitute one for the other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  64. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: There was never a 90% tax rate. There were so many loopholes that the top tax rate was effectively 17%. Also, higher rates on a few wealthy taxpayers didn’t produce higher revenues and the overall tax burden on the public was actually lighter, not heavier, than it is today.

    States raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to get people to stop smoking and drinking by increasing costs. If you raise taxes on working, the purpose must be to get people to stop working.

    You would be an imbecilic to think peoples behavior would not change under such a burdensome tax.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  65. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: @Jack: Just to complicate the picture further, the federal government gives subsidies out to everyone. More to renewables (solar/wind) in recent years, but only in recent years it seems from my brief skim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    CBO testified before Congress in 2013 that fossil fuel subsidies “cost” (i.e. lost revenue, not direct expenditure – they are different things) $3.2 billion that year.

    Renewable energy, in contrast, cost $7.3 billion, much of which was direct expenditure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  67. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    That one is a whopper. How, exactly, are you deriving this figure?

    My numbers, cut and pasted in a hurry in a lunch-line, are off…it’s roughly half a trillion…the top ten expenditures send 50% of $900B to the top quintile…but the basic point is not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  68. David M says:

    I am borderline amazed at some people’s willingness to carry water for the 1%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  69. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    @Tillman:
    My original point…which has apparently been lost…is that they are re-distibutive upward…which Jack claims does not exist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  70. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:

    There was never a 90% tax rate.

    Link me up to a credible source.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  71. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    What is the source of these numbers, and what are you defining as “expenditure”?

    A tax situation where I am afforded a reduction in what I would otherwise nominally owe isn’t an expenditure – it’s a benefit, or if you prefer, a subsidy.

    Expenditure, by necessity, only encompasses money being directly paid to you by the government that you wouldn’t otherwise receive.

    A fine distinction, no argument, but a distinction nonetheless. Trying to equate someone being allowed to pay less in taxation on profits that they have earned external to government is not the same thing as government sending a check to unemployed citizen X.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  72. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Sorry…forgot the link.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/144501063/CBO-Report-On-Tax-Expenditures

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  73. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    He’s trying to explain that 90% was a nominal rate, applied in such a way (i.e. so many different opportunities to deduct various things from taxable income) that few taxpayers ever actually had any taxable earnings which were subject to it.

    We won’t even get into the enduring confusion most people have between nominal and actual tax rates.

    Taken at net, the 90% nominal tax rate didn’t produce anywhere near a actual 90% tax burden. It wasn’t even close.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  74. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Exactly. They are treating foregone potential revenue as expenditure, and they are not the same thing. They need to distinguish between the two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin:

    My original point…which has apparently been lost…is that they are re-distibutive upward…which Jack claims does not exist.

    That’s like saying that when I take my deductions for my rental property costs (mortgage, repairs, taxes, etc.,) that taxes are being redistributed upward from the poor to me.

    You really are that thick headed!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  76. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I understand the concept of effective tax rates. It’s the 17% he quotes that I doubt.
    According to the IRS the effective rate in 1954, when the top rate was 91%, was 70%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  77. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Still waiting for your answer on subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  78. HarvardLaw92 says:

    While I’m somewhat loathe to fall on his side of he argument, Jack does have a point.

    if I have $X, and instead of taking 0.5 * $X from me, you instead take 0.2 * $X, you haven’t given me 0.3 * $X.

    Giving me anything would, by necessity, imply that I end up with more than $X in the end.

    I realize a BENEFIT – ostensibly to incentivize me to engage in behaviors which government views as beneficial to society – not an EXPENDITURE.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  79. Moosebreath says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “Taken at net, the 90% nominal tax rate didn’t produce anywhere near a actual 90% tax burden.”

    And yet, when it suits his argument, Jack acts as if Piketty’s proposals will do exactly that (“So, what is my incentive to work if someone will confiscate 82% of my income?”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  80. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    @Modulo Myself: I’m not saying that we should pretend that debt doesn’t exist. I’m saying that the fact that I owe half a mil on my house doesn’t make me poor.

    I think that means that you roughly own half a house, and your mortgage holder owns half a house. There’s an agreement for you to buy the rest of the house from them, but you can easily get out of that agreement by selling the house. Your half-a-house is pure asset.

    @gVOR08: My point—which is the same Salmon comes to—is that “wealth” is a stupid concept in comparing the rich and the poor. As @Mikey puts it, “asserting a middle-class American is somehow poorer than a Zimbabwean laborer because the American has high credit card balances just seems kind of…ridiculous.” Paper wealth just isn’t a meaning concept at that level.

    Credit card debt, on the other hand, cannot be discharged during bankruptcy (thanks, Biden!), and is not directly attached to something of value which the creditor has claim to. You’re stuck paying that off. That actually is real debt, and should be included in a net worth calculation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  81. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll direct you to this

    Taxation WAS somewhat more progressive in the 1950s, but it had little to do with income tax rates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  82. LaMont says:

    @Jack:

    Bring on your evidence

    Says the person that attached an empty link!

    So allow me to clarify. Never-mind the false premise that the poor get back more in taxes than they paid considering everything they purchase to just live is also taxed along with their income and, thus, any tax credit they might get back is meant to offset the cost of living – you are arguing that because the poor contributes less money in the tax pool they are somehow by default consuming more than they probably should? You are insinuating that a significant number of “poor” people take in more than they produce out of choice and will remain that way. I argue that they are not consuming any more than anyone else. In fact, they are likely consuming less and what they are consuming is not enough to adequately live on (thus the tax credits). I also argue that many that are poor are poor because of existing economic conditions that strains their upward mobility. Not because they simply have an unfortunate habit of spending more than they take in. What many are taking in is simply the cost of living.

    BTW – A passage on consumer spending in a New York Times artical;

    …data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey compiled for the Bureau of Labor Statistics

    if you sort households according to their pretax income, in 2010 the bottom fifth accounted for 8.7% of overall consumption, the middle fifth for 17.1%, and the top fifth for about 38.6%. Go back 10 years to 2000 — before two recessions, the Bush tax cuts, and continuing expansions of globalization and computerization — and the numbers are similar. The bottom fifth accounted for 8.9% of consumption, the middle fifth for 17.3%, and the top fifth for 37.3%.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/the-hidden-prosperity-of-the-poor/?_r=0

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  83. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: A deduction or tax break is not a subsidy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  84. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Credit card debt, on the other hand, cannot be discharged during bankruptcy

    Come again??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  85. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @LaMont:

    Never-mind the false premise that the poor get back more in taxes than they paid considering everything they purchase to just live is also taxed along with their income and, thus, any tax credit they might get back is meant to offset the cost of living –

    What does the laudable goal of the net credit have to do with the fact that there is a net credit?

    EITC, for example – By it’s very nature (as with any refundable credit), taxpayers can – and do – get back more than they paid in. That doesn’t make them bad people, nor does it make what the EITC is trying to accomplish a bad goal, but they ARE, in the end, getting back more than they paid in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  86. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    It all depends on your outlook. The EITC is a benefit for the “takers”. Carried interest is a benefit for the wealthy…who are only to be admired. As I said…it’s all about your prejudices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  87. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    While I’m somewhat loathe to fall on his side of he argument, Jack does have a point.

    if I have $X, and instead of taking 0.5 * $X from me, you instead take 0.2 * $X, you haven’t given me 0.3 * $X.

    Giving me anything would, by necessity, imply that I end up with more than $X in the end.

    And I’m loathe to dispute you, but all such considerations of more and less are relative not absolute. If the cost of a ticket to a play is $10 but I discount yours to $8 I have in fact given you two dollars relative to the guy who is paying $10. You have two dollars more than you would have had I not taken the action. You’ve been given an advantage.

    Of course as a political reality you haven’t just received that benefit, you’ve probably lobbied for that benefit. You will have fought for relative advantage, and if your effort is successful, you will in fact receive that advantage. You will have more, relative to someone else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  88. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    And your claim of a 17% effective rate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  89. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Even for you, that’s an incredibly simplistic argument. ”

    No, it’s just being read by a simpleton. Apparently you are unable to distinguish between someone working in his own interest and someone working to achieve a goal that he feels is good for others while being against his own interests.

    Really, your reading skills are even worse than your writing skills, and that’s saying a lot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  90. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    LOL, no, EITC is a direct PAYMENT to the takers. It’s not a bad thing – in fact, it’s probably a pretty good thing – but it’s not remotely the same thing as a tax break for an upper income shareholder.

    You’re trying to equate a situation where someone ends up with $X + Y to one where someone ends up with 0.6 * $X instead of 0.5 * $X.

    In the first, the person ends up with more than they had. In the second, the person loses less than they otherwise would have, but still ends up with less than they had. Surely you can see the difference between the two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  91. wr says:

    @Jack: “There is no redistributionist policy that takes from the poor and gives to the rich or takes from the uber wealthy to give to another uber wealthy.”

    You mean that, for instance, local or state governments don’t impose income or sales tax on the populace to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a multimillionaire to build a stadium for his sports team?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  92. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If the cost of a ticket to a play is $10 but I discount yours to $8 I have in fact given you two dollars relative to the guy who is paying $10

    You’ve actually given me an intangible benefit that can be equated to $2, but it still misses the point. It’s still not the same thing as giving a ticket to someone who pays $0 in exchange for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  93. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Everything depends on outlook, and I don’t think (as I’ve repeatedly said above) that the EITC is a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing, for a variety of reasons – only some of which have to to with direct benefit to the recipient.

    I don’t think one has to despise the poor, but I don’t think one has to despise the wealthy either. The folks who do, on BOTH sides of that argument, are pushing an emotional position, not a rational one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  94. Jack says:

    @LaMont:

    you are arguing that because the poor contributes less money in the tax pool they are somehow by default consuming more than they probably should?

    I am in no way arguing that the poor are consuming more than they should. If you read my post, I said that they are consuming more than they produce. Period.

    A farmer of corn cannot reap more corn than what he has sewn. He cannot reap 50 bushels if he has only sewn 10. However, through various programs, if that farmer needs more than the 10 he has sewn, he can get the government to confiscate bushels from a farmer that has sewn 5000 bushels.

    Additionally, after redistributing wealth through EITC or other programs, that money is not saved by the poor. They go out and spend it on stuff…which means the money is going back to those producing more than they consume.

    Nothing has changed in the production / consumption scale.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  95. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “He’s trying to explain that 90% was a nominal rate, applied in such a way (i.e. so many different opportunities to deduct various things from taxable income) that few taxpayers ever actually had any taxable earnings which were subject to it.”

    And the current top rate is ALSO a nominal rate, which is why Mitt Romney pays less than half of it.

    There’s this great pretense by anti-taxers that the higher rates of the past were only nominal, while the lower rates of today are actual.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  96. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Research indicates that public subsidies for sports stadiums tends, more or less, to be a zero-sum game.

    Try again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  97. Jack says:

    @wr:

    You mean that, for instance, local or state governments don’t impose income or sales tax on the populace to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a multimillionaire to build a stadium for his sports team?

    The money wasn’t “given” to the multi-millionaire. Given implies he could walk away and keep the money. What you indicate is a contract to perform an agreed upon action in return for an agreed upon benefit. Failure to abide by that contract would result in likely jail and fines. What you describe is capitalism friend. Not a subsidy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  98. C. Clavin says:
  99. wr says:

    @Jack: “A farmer of corn cannot reap more corn than what he has sewn”

    Congratulations on what is probably the stupidest thing ever written on the internet.

    If what you’re saying was true, mankind would have starved to death thousands of years ago. Because each kernel of corn planted would yield exactly one kernel of corn.

    Instead, one kernel of corn yields one ear, which contains roughly 800 kernels. The farmer takes one kernel, adds water, soil, energy and care and vastly multiplies his wealth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  100. jukeboxgrad says:

    munchbox:

    Maybe junkboxgrad can explain how the top 1% can pay off all American debt

    Already did. It’s math. It is indeed the case that “the top 1% can pay off all American debt.” By the way, there is a direct connection between the size of their wealth and the size of the debt. To a great extent, both of those things were created together, as part of the same process.

    If we wanted to completely eliminate the deficit and the debt we could, just by raising taxes on the top 1%. 100% of the current deficit would be eliminated if the top 1% resumed paying the effective tax rate they used to pay in the period 1942-1981. Link.

    Major conservative commentators lie about this, routinely. I could show you many brazen, transparent examples. That’s why people like you are so confused.

    The Reagan tax cuts for the rich are what’s unsustainable, and that problem will eventually be addressed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  101. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Agreed.
    So how would you address, without emotion, clear trends of social and economic inequality?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  102. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    There’s this great pretense by anti-taxers that the higher rates of the past were only nominal, while the lower rates of today are actual.

    I don’t think that’s what they are saying. The comparison is somewhat flawed, since very few taxpayers in the 1950s were actually subjected to the highest marginal rates.

    In real dollar terms, the top marginal rate in the 1950s, 90%, phased in at the current dollar equivalent of $3 million in earnings. The current top rate phases in at $450,001 (married filing jointly cited in both scenarios).

    The net result is that far more wage earners (as opposed to asset holders) are exposed to higher taxation on wages relative to the 1950s, while asset holders are exposed to far lower rates of taxation relative to the 1950s. The shift was among segments of the (relatively speaking) wealthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  103. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Oh, goodie, lies from the American Enterprise Institute trying to convince us that having poor people buy rich people’s toys for them is a good idea. No thanks.

    But somehow I doubt even the vile AEI would claim that there isn’t a tax transfer from poor to rich where, which is what idiot Jack was denying ever happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  104. jukeboxgrad says:

    during the Eisenhower Administration when the top rate was 90%

    In 1952 and 1953 the top rate was 92%. The top rate was 91% in the period 1954-1963. Link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  105. wr says:

    @Jack: “The money wasn’t “given” to the multi-millionaire. Given implies he could walk away and keep the money. What you indicate is a contract to perform an agreed upon action in return for an agreed upon benefit. Failure to abide by that contract would result in likely jail and fines. What you describe is capitalism friend. Not a subsidy.”

    I was wrong. Your corn statement is not the single stupidest thing ever written on the internet.

    This is.

    You just go ahead and line up to give the richest men in America your tax dollars while you receive nothing in return. And be sure to keep complaining about “takers.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  106. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “The net result is that far more wage earners (as opposed to asset holders) are exposed to higher taxation on wages relative to the 1950s, while asset holders are exposed to far lower rates of taxation relative to the 1950s. The shift was among segments of the (relatively speaking) wealthy.”

    I agree, which is why I feel we should greatly expand the number of tax brackets. Right now we pretend there is no difference between an income of half a million — which can buy a pleasant, if not opulent life in NY or SF — and half a billion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  107. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think that you do what you can. Ideally, of course, you find a way to put people to work, but our transitioning economy leaves the unfortunate reality that, for a growing segment of the population, there is no real place for them in the workforce aside from menial labor (I’m not using that in a derogatory sense). There is no magic pill that can make it be 1955 again, and manufacturing as a component of the US economy will continue to decline – manufacturing employment, which historically was the means by which we uplifted the middle class, will continue to decline along with it. There is no reversing that trend beyond the trivially anecdotal instances, which are essentially meaningless.

    Those folks – unless we propose to put them all on a bus to some deserted island – will have to be supported if they are to maintain any sort of standard of living. That’s the cold, hard truth.

    I prefer things like the EITC, and publicly funded employment, over benefit programs like Medicaid & food stamps because they tend to generate more of an overall beneficial impact on the economy as a whole, but at the end of the day, those folks will have to be subsidized if they are to maintain any sort of standard of living that doesn’t involve living in a cardboard box.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  108. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    I think perhaps it would be better to lower income tax rates, while grossly increasing estate tax and associated asset tax rates.Wage earners like myself get lumped in with people like Christy Walton as being the hated 1%, and the reality of the situation is that our realities are nowhere, even remotely, close to one another.

    I pay a higher effective federal rate than Christy Walton does, and if that isn’t the definition of insanity, I’m not sure what is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  109. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: If you can’t muster an coherent argument…you might as well go back to the hole you were hiding in after you were ridiculed over Benghazi.

    I said you need a NEW whine, Swampy. Dusting off an old one hardly counts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  110. Jack says:

    @wr: Apparently, spoon feeding you is insufficient. I said,

    He cannot reap 50 bushels if he has only sewn 10.

    An average acre of corn yields 100 bushels. A bushel (corn) is defined as 56 pounds and around 27,000 kernels. Each bushel is composed of around 34 ears. An average ear of corn has 16 rows and 800 kernels.

    You dope. You still cannot reap more than what you have sewn. When I sew one kernel, the result is a stalk which I expect to contain one or two ears. I cannot however reap 5000 ears from one stalk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  111. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    No…they are both tax expenditures where person “X” ends up with a smaller tax liability than they would have absent the tax expenditure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  112. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    the top marginal rate in the 1950s, 90%

    The correct number is 92%, not 90%.

    In real dollar terms, the top marginal rate in the 1950s, 90%, phased in at the current dollar equivalent of $3 million in earnings.

    Forget the top rate. Marginal rates were also high for people earning a lot less than that. For example, there was a marginal rate of 80% for income over $1 million (1953, married filing jointly, in constant 2013 dollars). PDF, scroll to p. 30 in your pdf reader.

    Anyway, the top rate is a distraction. What matters the most is the effective rate. It used to be much higher. Link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  113. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Give it a rest, You attacked the source of the piece without even trying to address the substance of it.

    Nobody is claiming that, in instances where stadiums are funded via add-on sales taxes (not all of them are) that there isn’t an initial nominal transfer of capital. What has to be taken into consideration is the overall picture – capital transferred versus capital received.

    I’m not a huge fan of these publicly funded elephants, but the guy is a PhD specializing in sports economics who does make a credible case for them being more or less a zero-sum proposition. In that light, assuming his conclusions are accurate, I’m not bothered enough by the stadiums to make a fuss about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  114. Jack says:

    @wr: So, apparently you need a Capitalism 101 course. Please attend your local community college, on your own dime, not mine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  115. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    higher rates on a few wealthy taxpayers didn’t produce higher revenues

    Except for when it did. Revenue as a % of GDP:

    1952 18.5%
    2014 17.5%

    the overall tax burden on the public was actually lighter, not heavier, than it is today

    Explain how 18.5% is “lighter” than 17.5%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  116. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Yet again, taking less from me than you otherwise might have is not an expenditure. It’s a benefit. Expenditure implies by its nature the net transfer of something from one to another. Allowing me to keep more of something that I already had to begin with doesn’t meet that definition. In that instance, I’m expending capital on you, not the other way around.

    Giving me something that I didn’t already have, meanwhile, does. They’re different animals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  117. James Pearce says:

    @Jack:

    What you indicate is a contract to perform an agreed upon action in return for an agreed upon benefit.

    No, Jack. We’re talking about straight-up tax-payer funded giveaways to companies with millions of dollars in revenue. If you think that’s “capitalism,” you need to revisit the concept.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  118. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    I prefer things like the EITC, and publicly funded employment, over benefit programs like Medicaid & food stamps because they tend to generate more of an overall beneficial impact on the economy as a whole, but at the end of the day, those folks will have to be subsidized if they are to maintain any sort of standard of living that doesn’t involve living in a cardboard box.

    It’s time to start talking about what Milton Friedman proposed: a negative income tax (which means a guaranteed minimum income). In 1968 he discussed this with William F. Buckley (link). An idea that today’s GOP would definitely call socialism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  119. michael reynolds says:

    Manufacturing may actually increase in the US while human employment drops.

    If a machine makes a widget with only minimal human involvement then labor cost is irrelevant and shipping speed and cost, and things like energy costs, become more important. So a machine-made widget in India will have the same cost as one made in the US, eliminating India’s advantage in labor costs.

    Of course the machine that makes the widget may be made in India, but not if the machine that makes the widget is itself made by a machine.

    Actually, given 3D printing and related technologies, some manufacturing will be done in the home. I need a piece to fix the blinds in my living room. I could just dial up the plans and print it off. If I break a cup I may be able to print its identical companion. Or change the color. I broke a piece of molding in my car – why not pull up the specs and hit “enter” and have the piece printing off while I get back to work. If my printer doesn’t have the right materials, it will order them and they’ll be delivered by a self-driving truck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  120. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: No, but there is a tax law that taxes “carried interest” much more cheaply than Ordinary Income.

    The reason that the money will end up back again in the hands of the rich isn’t because they’re so much better than the rest of us: it’s because they write the rules governing the transfer of money.

    I’m for redistributionist policies because that’s the only way you can maintain the existence of a large middle class. And the existence of a large middle class is the best protection, bar none, against revolution.

    Think of progressive taxes as the insurance you pay against getting dragged from your house and being hanged from a lamppost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  121. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    Forget the top rate. Marginal rates were also high for people earning a lot less than that. For example, there was a marginal rate of 80% for income over $1 million (1953, married filing jointly, in constant 2013 dollars). PDF, scroll to p. 30 in your pdf reader.

    We must be looking at a different page 30.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  122. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    In real terms, whatever we choose to call it, it will remain a case of “those with will have to support those without”. As far as I can see, the EITC IS a negative income tax 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  123. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Could someone release my comments from the anti-spam jail please?

    Kthnxbai

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  124. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Well if you want to make up your own definitions…fine.
    I’m merely working with the accepted definitions.
    The EITC and Carried Interest are both Tax Expenditures.
    From the peoples encyclopedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_expenditure
    Your encyclopedia may differ.
    From the GAO:
    http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654273.pdf
    Your personal GAO may differ.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  125. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The reason that the money will end up back again in the hands of the rich isn’t because they’re so much better than the rest of us: it’s because they write the rules governing the transfer of money.

    Truthfully, it’s because the lower down the economic ladder one goes, the greater the propensity / necessity of the people who are slotted there to spend capital. They spend, and they consume, thereby driving economic expansion, but they largely do not own the means of production or the sources of materiel, and that is where the capital eventually flows back to in a capitalist system.

    So, bizarrely, given the recirculatory effect which taxation has on capital which would otherwise stagnate at the top of the economy, even though you tax the wealthy and transfer said wealth to the lower brackets of the economy, in the end analysis they’ll usually end up better off than they were before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  126. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    Research indicates that public subsidies for sports stadiums tends, more or less, to be a zero-sum game.

    From your article:

    It may be that the subsidies state and local governments provide for stadium and arena construction and operation are justified by the community benefits those facilities provide. But the evidence says otherwise. … My work with Humphreys finds that the professional sports environment may actually reduce local incomes. … Humphreys and I found that the overall sports environment … in a given area reduced per capita personal income by about $10. In other words, every man, woman, and child in the metropolitan area was poorer by $10 as a result of the sports environment.

    Your words are not a particularly honest summary of the article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  127. @michael reynolds:

    Manufacturing may actually increase in the US while human employment drops.

    This is the case:

    http://mercatus.org/publication/us-manufacturing-output-vs-jobs-1975

    Since 1975, US manufacturing output has more than doubled even as the number of manufacturing jobs dropped almost 50%. For all the talk about factories moving to Mexico or China, the dirty secret is most of those jobs didn’t actually move, they disappeared entirely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  128. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    We have two “maker-bots”, or 3-D printers, in our office.
    I’ve already printed small clips to replace pieces from a motorcycle fairing that had snapped off.
    Who knows what that technology looks like in 10 years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  129. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Think of progressive taxes as the insurance you pay against getting dragged from your house and being hanged from a lamppost.

    Exactly. And I’ll add this from Chris Rock:

    ‘If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.’

    Every four years we get the inevitable, “Candidate X didn’t even know what milk costs!” Well, guess what, even I don’t know and I’m only wealthy-adjacent. Actual rich people don’t know what cars cost or what houses cost. They snap their fingers and something like a car purchase, which is a stressful, miserable and often humiliating experience for normal people, just happens, boom.

    It’s why Elizabeth Warren could actually win a general election – there are a whole lot of Americans who keep going on the false hope that life will get better. They are losing that hope, and if there’s one thing you don’t want it’s a big bunch of people who feel their just aspirations are categorically canceled. People get pissy when you do that. Poor and working class people have votes and hope, and if they stop feeling that they have votes and hope, they’ll find bombs.

    The phrase is supposed to “enlightened self-interest,” not “narrow and short-sighted self-interest.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  130. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    Could someone release my comments from the anti-spam jail please?

    My crystal ball says you are using the Reply feature to reply to me. Don’t do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  131. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I’m not making up anything. GAO chooses to call foregone revenue an expenditure, which is inaccurate. Note: GAO also calls a reduction in planned tax increases a tax cut, even though taxation goes up. They live in their own little world which has little to do with reality.

    They could call it a washing machine if that’s what gets them off, but it doesn’t make it accurate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  132. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    So, bizarrely, given the recirculatory effect which taxation has on capital which would otherwise stagnate at the top of the economy, even though you tax the wealthy and transfer said wealth to the lower brackets of the economy, in the end analysis they’ll usually end up better off than they were before.

    Not if increased income at the bottom creates sufficient excess income that they can invest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  133. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    given the recirculatory effect which taxation has on capital which would otherwise stagnate at the top of the economy

    This is an important point. There is a ton of cash being hoarded, doing nothing (link). Conservatives find it hard to grasp this concept, because the capitalist fable teaches that money in the bank is always working.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  134. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Jukeboxgrad:

    Your words are not a particularly honest summary of the article.

    They are when you include the next sentence of that paragraph, which you seem to have omitted:

    This suggests that the public-good benefits are worth just enough to pay for the subsidies.

    Maybe they are; maybe they aren’t, which is why I qualified the remarks with “assuming his conclusions are accurate”. He’s a PhD specializing in sports economics; I’m a lawyer, so I’m inclined to think he knows more about the subject than I (or you) do. Just saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  135. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “I pay a higher effective federal rate than Christy Walton does, and if that isn’t the definition of insanity, I’m not sure what is.”

    It is nice to find something on which we can completely agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  136. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Agreed, but as a rule, they don’t. It would be great if they did, but historically, they do not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  137. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Give it a rest, You attacked the source of the piece without even trying to address the substance of it.”

    In exactly the same way I won’t bother to read arguments that North Korea is the greatest country on earth if they’re financed by the North Korean government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  138. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Indeed, and yet I keep hearing people tell me that technology has not and will not cost jobs. Of course it has cost jobs, and it will continue to do so. Unless some sudden evolutionary spurt sends homo sapiens hurtling ahead of machine capabilities.

    Machines are effectively a competing species, a species which evolves far faster than we do. This species has already pushed us out of a large number of economic niches, and in order to believe that this won’t result in fewer human jobs you have to believe that we can create new economic niches faster than the machines can fill them. I see no way that can happen.

    And I for one welcome our new silicon overlords.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  139. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    This suggests that the public-good benefits are worth just enough to pay for the subsidies.

    And he points out that “the public-good benefits” are amorphous and hard to measure.

    He’s a PhD specializing in sports economics

    Which is why you should not ignore and distort his central thesis:

    It may be that the subsidies state and local governments provide for stadium and arena construction and operation are justified by the community benefits those facilities provide. But the evidence says otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  140. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I will be sure to verify any widely accepted definition with you in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  141. Jack says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    the overall tax burden on the public was actually lighter, not heavier, than it is today

    The “90%” tax burden affected far fewer people in 1952 than the 38% tax bracket does in 2014. It’s simple math. In 1952 the number of millionaires numbered in what, the thousands? Today, however he number of households with net worth of $1 million or more, excluding their homes, is at a record 9.63 million.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/13/business/la-fi-mo-number-of-millionaires-in-us-reaches-a-new-high-20140313

    There were only 56 million returns in 1952, from a population of 157 million, (while there are 145 million returns today from a population of 320 million). The tax base has broadened. In your statistical example (I didn’t see a link), 18.5% of GDP was collected from only 56 million people, while today 17.5% of GDP is collected from 145 million. Effectively, since 1952, the percent of the population filing taxes has gone from 35% to 45%.

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?DocID=564&Topic2id=30&Topic3id=32

    https://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/totals/pre-1980/tables/popclockest.txt

    So, yes. the overall tax burden on the public was actually lighter, not heavier, than it is today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  142. Jack says:

    Mods, please release my comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  143. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “So, bizarrely, given the recirculatory effect which taxation has on capital which would otherwise stagnate at the top of the economy, even though you tax the wealthy and transfer said wealth to the lower brackets of the economy, in the end analysis they’ll usually end up better off than they were before.”

    I don’t think anyone suggesting impoverishing the rich — in fact, you make a strong argument here for increased taxation, since under that every benefits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  144. jukeboxgrad says:

    wr:

    In exactly the same way I won’t bother to read arguments that North Korea is the greatest country on earth if they’re financed by the North Korean government.

    The problem here is not that AEI shouldn’t be trusted (although I agree that they shouldn’t be trusted). The problem here is that HL92 is misrepresenting the article. The core point of the article is this:

    It may be that the subsidies state and local governments provide for stadium and arena construction and operation are justified by the community benefits those facilities provide. But the evidence says otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  145. Jack says:

    @James Pearce:

    No, Jack. We’re talking about straight-up tax-payer funded giveaways to companies with millions of dollars in revenue. If you think that’s “capitalism,” you need to revisit the concept.

    Then show me one, because the example given was not that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  146. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    So, in other words, he must absolutely be lying, or presenting flawed conclusions, simply because of where he is presenting them?

    Wouldn’t it be better to refute his conclusions, rather than dismissing them out of hand because they weren’t sourced from a venue that you like?

    I’m not saying he’s correct. I’m saying that he’s an expert in this field and I’m not, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. You’re dismissing him out of hand, without bothering to even consider his conclusions, because they disagree with your preferred narrative.

    You’re smarter than that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  147. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Actually, according to Jukeboxgrad, who did read the article, his conclusions DO agree with my preferred narrative. Go know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  148. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Increased taxation of asset holders, which is not the same thing as increased income taxation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  149. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Ok, if it will get us past this, we shouldn’t be building sports stadiums. The point is retired.

    Next?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  150. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    Mods, please release my comment.

    My crystal ball says you are using the Reply feature to reply to me. Don’t do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  151. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    Increased taxation of asset holders, which is not the same thing as increased income taxation.

    “Increased taxation of asset holders” is a concept I like. Here’s another one (link):

    The Progressive Consumption Tax … The simplest step would be to scrap the current progressive income tax in favor of a much more steeply progressive tax on each household’s consumption.

    Also see his similar column here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  152. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    Increased taxation of asset holders, which is not the same thing as increased income taxation.

    “Increased taxation of asset holders” is a concept I like. Here’s another one (link):

    The Progressive Consumption Tax … The simplest step would be to scrap the current progressive income tax in favor of a much more steeply progressive tax on each household’s consumption.

    Also see his similar column here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  153. jukeboxgrad says:

    [Message split because it has too many links.]

    Also see related commentary here, here and here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  154. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    You’re dismissing him out of hand, without bothering to even consider his conclusions, because they disagree with your preferred narrative.

    And you’re misrepresenting “his conclusions, because they disagree with your preferred narrative.” The core point of your article is this:

    It may be that the subsidies state and local governments provide for stadium and arena construction and operation are justified by the community benefits those facilities provide. But the evidence says otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  155. James Pearce says:

    @Jack: Gaylord Hotels, Magpul Industries, Cabela’s. Three off the top of my head in my state. I’m sure the names are different where you’re at, but the idea is the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  156. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    A deduction or tax break is not a subsidy.

    Cato Institute (link):

    Eliminating Oil Subsidies: Two Cheers for President Obama … Last week President Barack Obama responded to rising public anger over soaring gasoline prices by banging the drums for the elimination of various tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. … let the record show that President Obama is right

    But Cato Institute is so Marxist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  157. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I tend not to be a fan of consumption taxes, for the simple reason that they are more or less impossible to enforce in practice. How do you know what I really paid for anything, and can you prove it?

    It also presumes that the wealthy don’t already allocate capital to generate the best rate of return, and worst of all (in my opinion anyway) it disincentivizes consumption, which makes investment less attractive (due to the reduced earnings of the companies being invested in caused by their reduced sales).

    The more distributed and ephemeral you make the basis for a tax, the greater the number of people that will creatively avoid paying it.

    It’s an interesting mental exercise though, agreed.

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  158. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    You do not understand the concept of subsidies…the fossil fuel industry receives billions in direct subsidies, and trillions in indirect subsidies, of many types.

    http://www.iea.org/publications/worldenergyoutlook/resources/energysubsidies/
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-12/fossil-fuels-with-550-billion-in-subsidy-hurt-renewables.html
    http://grist.org/energy-policy/2011-10-26-direct-subsidies-to-fossil-fuels-are-tip-of-melting-iceburg/

    Nor, apparently, can you back up your claim of 17%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  159. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    Taxation WAS somewhat more progressive in the 1950s

    Wrong. It was a lot “more progressive.” Link:

    New Study Finds “Dramatic” Reduction Since 1960 In The Progressivity of the Federal Tax System

    Your article and this article are both discussing the same study.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  160. gVOR08 says:

    Years ago J. K Galbraith argued for replacing the income tax with a Value Added Tax. He listed three reasons I (mostly) still find compelling:
    – the government needs the money
    – economists always prefer consumption taxes*
    – it would remove the resentment of the wealthy over the (supposedly) progressive income tax, which would result in largely defunding the Republican Party

    The Europeans seem to be able to collect a VAT efficiently. And they deal with its regressive nature with targeted subsides.
    ______________
    * I’m becoming less convinced they’re correct. We’re swimming in capital, which fact was largely responsible for the ’08 crash.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  161. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    So, what is my incentive to work if someone will confiscate 82% of my income?

    Conservatives unquestioningly assume (or pretend to assume) that rich people will work less if they’re taxed more. This fundamentally misunderstands the psychology of work.

    I think that typically the most creative and successful people are not motivated primarily by the idea of making the largest possible amount of money. The money has some importance as a way of keeping score, but once a certain threshold is reached the marginal dollars don’t mean much.

    People like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would not have behaved differently if their taxes were higher. They kept working just as hard even after they became super-rich. This is the typical pattern. They are not in it primarily for the money. If you had told Gates in 1975 that his efforts were going to lead to a fortune of ‘only’ $10 billion (or $1 billion, or $100 million), instead of $50-100 billion, what would he have done differently? Answer: absolutely nothing. He would not have said, “oh well, in that case I might as well spend the next thirty years surfing.”

    In most cases, and in the most important cases, it just doesn’t work that way. As a commenter elsewhere once said:

    The person forever chasing the next billion still cannot purchase anything with his marginal dollar that will make him happier. He is chasing it for sport — i.e. it has no instrumental value for him.

    “Sport” vs. “instrumental value” is exactly the right way to put it. And the people who enjoy that “sport” give it their full devotion even when the expected or actual payday is ‘only’ ten million, rather than fifty or a hundred. And their workaholism tends to continue until they drop. Then their neglected heirs are well-positioned to support the market for luxury goods, therapists and anti-depressants.

    I’m not talking about people who are trying to turn a 5-6 figure income into a 7 figure income. In that bracket, there are real incentives, because there is a real transformation in lifestyle. But a big chunk of income is going to people in a much higher bracket, where extra income indeed “has no instrumental value.” I think the biggest problem with our tax system is that we undertax people in those higher brackets. This is what Gates and Buffet are trying to tell us.

    There is a related misconception. Let’s say that someone earning, say, a million a year does indeed decide to refrain from working harder, because the second million he earns would be heavily taxed. Or maybe he even decides to stop working entirely, as a response to high taxes. So what? Unless you are a singular genius like Jobs, you are not irreplaceable. If the economy actually needs the work you are refusing to produce, then someone on the ladder behind you will be glad to move up and take your place. This is not just true when unemployment is high. It’s always true.

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  162. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    The purpose of redistributionist policies is to take wealth from those who have it and give it to those that do not.

    All taxation is a form of ‘income redistribution,’ because everyone pays taxes for things that help someone else more than it helps them. Citizenship is not a la carte. Children, libertarians and conservatives find this hard to grasp.

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  163. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: Doug and I had differing takes on Occupy. I focused initially on the contradictory statements coming from the non-leadership leaders and eventually came to buy into the validity of 3rd party interpretations of what held them together. At that point, my critique shifted to Occupy’s lack of a policy focus. That is, they were correctly pointing to a real problem but had no unified approach as to what to do about the problem.

    @JKB: I glommed onto those three and not Soros et al because they jumped out at me from the list by virtue of being consecutively ordered.

    @Scott: That’s just not true. We had a landed gentry almost from the beginning. Guys like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were proud members.

    @Modulo Myself: I think anyone who looked at my lifestyle would say that I’m solidly in the middle class, despite being in debt on two homes.

    @Gustopher: I’m not arguing about how we should calculate “net wealth.” I’m arguing that “net wealth” is not a useful measure of comparison between the very rich and everyone else. A guy making $100,000 a year but with a large debt load on his McMansion and BMW might not be wealthy; he’s almost certainly much richer in any meaningful sense than a Chinese peasant, much less a minimum wage worker at McDonald’s with no loans to pay off.

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  164. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jack:

    Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent…pay negative 9 percent.

    I always love to hear about the 47%. Do you know why the bottom 47% (or 43%) pays no federal income tax? Because for about 30 years it has been GOP policy to eliminate federal income tax for that group. National Review:

    the Reagan tax cuts and Bush’s expansion of the EITC have a lot to do with pushing that 47 percent number higher.

    Also (link):

    Reagan boasted of all the people of modest means he had taken off of the tax rolls

    It is classic Republicanism to implement a policy and then whine about the result of the policy. It is also classic Republicanism for Republicans to suffer from Romnesia and be painfully ignorant regarding their own history.

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  165. C. Clavin says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    Besides which…Jack clearly doesn’t understand taxation.

    So, what is my incentive to work if someone will confiscate 82% of my income?

    Even his mythical 82% confiscation rate would only apply to income above “x” amount….let’s say $400,000. Would Jack only work hard enough to make $399,999? It’s a ridiculouos position to take.
    It’s difficult to reason with someone who doesn’t come to his opinion through reason.

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  166. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It’s easy to push such a position when (I suspect, apologies if I’m incorrect) that it wouldn’t apply to you. You look at a figure like $400,000 and determine “that person doesn’t need any more than that, so I’m ok with taking the rest. Nobody should have that much money.” This is to an extent why I get so annoyed with the left – you are making an arbitrary value judgment about what constitutes “acceptable” based on your own standards & reality, and applying that across the board to everybody else. Those that are reticent about such a proposal get termed as mean spirited, callous and cruel.

    But truthfully? At a marginal rate of 82%, I’m going to start to reexamine the various costs, in terms of quality of life and what has to be sacrificed to earn enough to subject myself to that rate, and I am going to balance those against what relative little I gain in return for sacrificing them.

    For example, If I (as is often the case) have to spend additional weeks away from my family, living in a hotel room (which, even if it is luxurious, remains a hotel room …) in order to earn that money, which is the unseen and unattractive reality of my job, the incentive to do so drops considerably when I know that I’m going to end up with 18 cents on the dollar with regard to what I earned over that period.

    It becomes considerably less attractive, and the incentive to forgo that compensation, or to defer it (which is the most probably course of action), increases exponentially. The probable truth is that there is a limit to what people will accept in terms of seizure of assets and capital. 82 cents on the dollar? That’s well above it.

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  167. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Haysoos Christo, right, left, who cares? They are rich and you are not. What in Dog’s name makes any of you think any of them can identify with any of you? Here is a clue:

    THEY DON’T GIVE A RAT’S A$$ ABOUT YOU.

    Wake up and smell the roaches.

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  168. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    the incentive to do so drops considerably when I know that I’m going to end up with 18 cents on the dollar with regard to what I earned over that period

    I understand your point, and almost agree with it. But I have to ask, if you -because of your station in life- might find less of an incentive, does that automatically mean that someone else will be disincentivzed too?

    I mean, give me 7 figures, I’ll do it! Tax me at 82%. Wanna make it 83%? I don’t care. I’m paying off my mortgage –the whole thing– after I pay the tax man. Hell, I’ll even stay at the crappy hotels.

    Not saying that a big tax rate like that is desirable policy. But if it’s disincentivizing the unwilling and providing opportunity for the willing, that’s not such a bad thing, is it?

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  169. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “It’s easy to push such a position when (I suspect, apologies if I’m incorrect) that it wouldn’t apply to you.”

    Let me guess — you’re still working on that “trying not to come across as condescending” thing, right?

    Beyond that, I believe we were talking about high marginal tax rates over, say, ten million or twenty million, not four hundred thousand. Even the little guys know the difference.

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  170. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Let me guess — you’re still working on that “trying not to come across as condescending” thing, right?

    Look, I’m not going to apologize to you for being successful. Is everybody who doesn’t enthusiastically jump on board your save the world with somebody else’s money train condescending?

    If it’s that important to you, Tortured Idealist, pay 82% of your fecking money in taxes. Get back to me once you have. In the meantime, climb down off of your high horse. It’s getting old.

    Beyond that, I believe we were talking about high marginal tax rates over, say, ten million or twenty million, not four hundred thousand. Even the little guys know the difference.

    Maybe you should have read the comment I was replying to before opening your mouth (not that that has ever been a problem for you in the past …)

    Here – let me give you a helpful link. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the numbers after the dollar sign.

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  171. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Sorry…you have been largely incorrect all day. I often argue against my self-interest as others here do as well.
    The 82% is mythical.
    Many studies show this concept is ridiculous and only exists in the right-wing echo chamber.

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  172. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Everything is relative. It sounds like a great deal – until you’re the one paying it. When that happens, your perspective changes just a bit. What annoys me the most is these smug aceholes who act as though I should be thrilled at the opportunity of shelling out 82% taxation.

    I’m not. If the seats were reversed, they wouldn’t be either. Let’s leave it at that.

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  173. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The 82% is mythical.

    LOL, not if some of these do-gooders got their way, it wouldn’t be. It must be incredibly uplifting to save the world with somebody else’s money.

    In the meantime, if you’re so keen on the idea of giving the government money, I hear they’ll be glad to take a check

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  174. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I thought you were smarter than to offer up that sillyness.

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  175. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It sounds like a great deal – until you’re the one paying it.

    Sure, but I think both the poor and the rich can agree: It’s better to be wealthy.

    At any rate, I think there’s very little chance of such confiscatory tax rates coming into effect, unless of course, the very wealthy would like to continue hoarding their dough. Me, I’d trade every Wal-Mart heir for a Phil Anszhutz or Elon Musk clone. The world would be a better place.

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  176. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    After a few servings of jukebox’s treatise on how the collective wealth of the top bracket in the US would be sufficient to pay off the national debt, I’m not sure how tongue in cheek any of this crap is any longer. Fundamentally, the far left annoys me just as much as the far right does.

    I do know that, in my opinion, I pay enough. Paying (actually paying) slightly over $1.2 million in federal income tax alone is enough. In fact, it’s far too much, but I (somewhat grudgingly) accept it as being necessary. That said, I look at decades of government programs which, in my opinion, just have not worked as advertised and in many ways have made things worse, and I start to consider it less necessary. As a de facto investor in this little game, I’m not impressed with the results.

    You can possibly understand why I get a little incensed in response to people who condescendingly tell me that I need to do more, I should be happy about doing it and, moreover, I’m a cold-hearted bastard if I don’t want to. I don’t expect a thank you, but the level of sanctimony I’m getting from people who are doing far less than I am has just exceeded my BS threshold.

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  177. Modulo Myself says:

    I think if say that you would do a certain amount of work for wage x, but would work more or taken on more responsibility if the wage was more than wage x, you are basically admitting that there are things you won’t do because government taxes have made it pointless to do them.

    However–there’s a way to be unreasonable about this logic. The horror stories about what might happen if the marginal tax rate is raised five percent are ludicrous.

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  178. al-Ameda says:

    Just my opinion mind you, but, I believe that a fundamental problem with our federal income tax system is that too many taxpayers – including many conservative working class people who complain about the federal tax burden – pay no federal income taxes. There is a feeling that we’re not in this together.

    I would support a national VAT which would be coupled with a reduced but still progressive income tax structure.

    I know the math is difficult to overcome but I still believe it is worth careful examination.

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  179. Modulo Myself says:

    I don’t think you can tax your way back to acceptable inequality. It’s worth pointing out that the golden years between 1945 and 1973 were not all that equal, except in the wealth gap between the rich and everyone else. And not only if you were black, a woman, Jewish or Catholic, or plain poor. There was a serious amount of inequality amongst the rich. Consider that John F. Kennedy when he was President was on paper the social inferior to McGeorge Bundy and Ben Bradlee.

    It’s better to think of the American economic order having become more connected to the malice of the American social order.

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  180. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Poor rich guy.
    The facts bear out that any increase in the tax rate of the top brackets would not be re-distributive…but would be a re-balancing. See that graph with the steep line for the wealthy and the flat line for the middle-class? It ain’t right. The last time it was like that it didn’t work out so well.

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  181. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Poor rich guy.

    Shell out $1.2 million out of your pocket in exchange for what can only be termed as, at best, mediocre results, and then get back to me. As I said, it’s easy to formulate plans for other people’s money. When it’s your own, it becomes a little less attractive.

    The facts bear out that any increase in the tax rate of the top brackets would not be re-distributive…but would be a re-balancing.

    “Re-balancing? – lol. Buzzword bonanza. If it isn’t redistributive, it has no effect on the economic reality of the marginal classes. Their wealth doesn’t increase; their buying power doesn’t increase; their reality doesn’t change.

    By definition, for tax policy to change their economic reality, it HAS to seize capital from the top of the food chain and redirect it downward, otherwise you’re just paying off governmental debt (which has no effect on their lives / standard of living at all.)

    The cold truth? The graph has been like that for most of our history, and people slugged along, as they tend to do. Nowadays? We effectively pay them off to keep them quiet, and it works.

    If you’re expecting a revolution, short of a collapse of the entire financial system, you’ll be waiting a long time.

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  182. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Assuming honesty on your part, you are still taking home in the neighborhood of $1.2 million. If the marginal rate on that last 400K went up 5%, you would still be taking home $1.16 million. Honestly, how much less would you work if your marginal rate for income over 1 million increased 3% and your marginal rate for income over 2 million increased another 3%? Would you work significantly less? If you did, do you doubt that someone else would take that work? Would the economy as a whole suffer if someone else did some of the work you do?
    I would hazard a guess that the answers to those questions it very little, very little and no.
    We could easily tack on another 3% for income over 5 million and another 3% at 10. That would put the top marginal rate at 51.6% for income over 10 million. We’d still be well shy of Kennedy era rates, much less Eisenhower era rates.

    You contention that the poor are poor because of poor choices still ignores how the vast majority of the poor end up poor. They start that way and don’t manage to climb out of poverty. No amount of going to a CC for their first two years of college pulls them out of that. It requires a lot of hard work, good planning, and luck.

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  183. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Look, I’m not going to apologize to you for being successful. Is everybody who doesn’t enthusiastically jump on board your save the world with somebody else’s money train condescending?”

    Um, no, people who write messages to other people about whom they know absolutely nothing and assume that because we don’t share your incredible smugness we must all be working for minimum wage are condescending. I believe the phrase was that it’s easy to push a higher tax on those who make money when it wouldn’t apply to you. If you can’t smell the smugness dripping off that, you need a doctor. Or at least to stop gazing lovlingly in the mirror for five seconds.

    Funny thing is, I’ve had million dollar plus years — and I’ve had fifty thousand dollar years. And when I had to pay a lot of taxes, somehow I managed not to run around whining about what a generous, magnanimous soul I was for following the law. It didn’t make me happy to do it — but since I’m not an idiot, I knew when I closed my deal that I’d be paying taxes on the money I made. It’s kind of like driving the speed limit — I really don’t expect a cookie for it. Why you think you should be fawned over — or even sympathized with — for doing what every single American is required by law to do is beyond me. You pay a big gross amount? Guess what — you probably pay a smaller percentage of your income than someone making a tenth of what you do. And they’re not whining about what martyrs they are.

    “You can possibly understand why I get a little incensed in response to people who condescendingly tell me that I need to do more, I should be happy about doing it and, moreover, I’m a cold-hearted bastard if I don’t want to. I don’t expect a thank you, but the level of sanctimony I’m getting from people who are doing far less than I am has just exceeded my BS threshold.”

    Then let me put your little heart at ease. No one cares whether you’re happy about paying taxes or not. No one cares if you skip and sing all the way to the post office, or if it sends you into a suicidal depression for six weeks. I think our tax rates have to be changed to pay for the needs of the country — by chance, if that were to happen, it would affect you. Do I care either way whether or not it personally affects you? Not one tiny bit.

    In fact, I don’t give a rat’s ass if you pay your taxes or not. Don’t feel like it? Go ahead. Maybe you’ll get away with it — I don’t care.

    Because what you with your preening vanity can’t seem to understand is this: The tax code of the United States of America is not based on your needs and desires.

    And the people of the USA — myself included — simply do not care whether or not you are happy about it.

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  184. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    We have stupid low tax rates and you’re crying like a baby.
    Everyone for themselves in the race to the bottom!!!

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  185. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Frankly, I think the best solution, barring the ignore button I’ll never get (which would be a godsend) is that you and I simply do not interact any further.

    You think I’m a condescending asshole, and I think you’re a smug, holier-than-thou typical far left prick, so frankly, there’s nothing more for us to say to one another. We’ve wasted far too much effort and said far too much on pointless back and forth as it is already. Anything further from you will be ignored, as it should have been long ago.

    Except to say that out there, out in the real world, my team wins. Your team loses. Always has; always will, and political parties have no relevance to that statement. Choke on that one for a bit, and have a nice day.

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  186. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    You think a 36% real federal income tax rate, or a 50.55% overall real tax rate, is stupid low?

    Jesus, I’d hate to see what you consider to be excessive.

    Feel free to keep toiling; I’m done here.

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  187. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    We could easily tack on another 3% for income over 5 million and another 3% at 10. That would put the top marginal rate at 51.6% for income over 10 million. We’d still be well shy of Kennedy era rates, much less Eisenhower era rates.

    Sure, but that’s the danger of rationalizing about other people’s money. 3% here, 3% there. Another 6% next year, maybe 5% more the year after that – whatever it takes to fund the grand scheme. No worries, they can afford it, right?

    The problem I have with that is this – anybody who can rationalize taking from one to help another is motivated by emotion. They’re “doing good”, they’re self-styled Robin Hoods, and because of that there is no limit (or at the least I don’t believe there to be a limit) to how far they can rationalize going. How much is too far for someone who believes he’s saving the world?

    Seriously – how far could it go? “His house is too large, so we need to take that, because nobody should have a house that size when people are going hungry”. *emo*

    Fundamentally, I do not trust those people to have any sort of limits, and because I do not trust them, I oppose what they propose, or at a minimum limit it / contain it as much as possible. The survival of my standard of living, which I believe that I have earned, in my eyes depends on it.

    Maybe that’s an excessive characterization; maybe it isn’t, but I prefer being prepared – and stacking the deck to my advantage – to being blindsided.

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  188. Wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Of course your team wins. You can buy all the politicians you want. The hilarious thing is that you believe that makes you morally superior to those without the economic power to rig the system in their favor.

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  189. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Wr:

    I don’t remotely believe that it makes me morally superior. Truthfully, I don’t much care about being morally superior. Morality isn’t something I really trouble myself with beyond “you leave me alone, and I’ll extend you the same courtesy. If we can benefit each other, then let’s make a deal.”

    You’re confusing unapologetic self-interest, which is my primary motivator, with a desire for approval. I don’t care if you like me. I do care if you propose to impact my interests. It’s that transactional, and that simple. Hate me or love me, either way I sleep like a baby. Start messing with what’s mine, though, and we’re going to have a problem.

    I think it’s great to want to help people – and if one can help himself in the bargain, well all the better, but I’ll do it to the extent that I want to do it and on my own terms. Anything beyond that – well, I’m a lawyer. Frankly, I’m a damn good one. I bend the rules for a living, and I’m exceptionally good at it, so give it your best shot I guess. Best of luck …

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  190. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    So raising taxes is solely motivated by emotion, yet your absolutist position against ever raising taxes because it’s a slippery slope and you might get blindsided is the height of rationality?
    Seriously, the Grover Norquists of the world and the people they strong arm into their no raising taxes ever regardless of the situation are every bit as emotional or more than the apocryphal Smith graduate in your story. Do you have a reason to side with them beyond “I got mine and I wanna keep it”?
    As far as there being nothing to stop them from unlimited tax increases, look at tax policy in the US over the past 50 years and try to sell that argument again.

    Maybe that’s an excessive characterization; maybe it isn’t, but I prefer being prepared – and stacking the deck to my advantage – to being blindsided.

    That is the epitome of a selfish and emotional appeal.

    Except to say that out there, out in the real world, my team wins. Your team loses. Always has; always will, and political parties have no relevance to that statement. Choke on that one for a bit, and have a nice day.

    Statements like that, regardless of who they are directed at or if they come from a fit of pique, are why you are coming off as smug, petulant, and condescending in this argument. They also indicate that it is you who is being emotionally driven here. Again, when most people reading your argument come away seeing you in a certain way, it’s probably time to take a long look in the mirror before blaming everyone but yourself. Think about that for a bit.

    As an aside here, I often agree with your take on issues with a few notable exceptions and appreciate your legal analysis on a number of threads. This isn’t personal and I am not in the least emotionally invested here. My SIWOTI complex is to the point that my wife laughs at me on the daily, but it’s just a bit of fun for me.

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  191. HarvardLaw92 says:

    yet your absolutist position against ever raising taxes because it’s a slippery slope and you might get blindsided is the height of rationality?

    No, I see it as the necessary counterpoint to balance the equation. Without it, there is no limiting factor to prevent the do-gooders from raising them as high as they like – which I do believe that, in an unconstrained system, they would do. With it, the increases can be kept reasonably in check, thereby forcing economy and hard choices between the ideal and the possible.

    Do you have a reason to side with them beyond “I got mine and I wanna keep it”?

    I’m not siding with them. I see them as a useful tool. Grover, frankly, is a nimrod, but he can occasionally be a useful nimrod.

    As far as there being nothing to stop them from unlimited tax increases, look at tax policy in the US over the past 50 years and try to sell that argument again.

    That same argument would have been rationally correct in the 1920s as well, then the Depression came along and income tax rates (understandably) skyrocketed. The problem? They kept going up, and stayed up for close to 50 years. If they can hit 94% once, as they indeed did, then it can happen again.

    Unless it is constrained.

    That is the epitome of a selfish and emotional appeal.

    See the part about unapologetic self-interest. It’ll explain a great deal.

    Statements like that, regardless of who they are directed at or if they come from a fit of pique, are why you are coming off as smug, petulant, and condescending in this argument. They also indicate that it is you who is being emotionally driven here. Again, when most people reading your argument come away seeing you in a certain way, it’s probably time to take a long look in the mirror before blaming everyone but yourself. Think about that for a bit.

    What can I say? I don’t like the guy, and this isn’t exactly the members lounge at my club, so I’m a little less concerned with letting it fly when I feel it to be justified. Was it juvenile and intended to poke him right in the center of what he evidently cares the most about? Sure. Boys will be boys …

    As an aside here, I often agree with your take on issues with a few notable exceptions and appreciate your legal analysis on a number of threads. This isn’t personal and I am not in the least emotionally invested here. My SIWOTI complex is to the point that my wife laughs at me on the daily, but it’s just a bit of fun for me.

    I’m not worried about it, nor have you offended me. You’ve raised some valid points, and I’m not as much of an extremist as jousting with Mother Teresa has made me out to be. If anything, I’m a pragmatist, motivated as I said primarily by self-interest but amenable to some degree of altruism. As with most things, the answer lies in the middle.

    Unfortunately, sometimes you have to set the extremes at each others throats in order to obtain it. Such is the way of the world.

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  192. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    At a marginal rate of 82%, I’m going to start to reexamine the various costs

    I doubt it. We often hear this threat about ‘going Galt,’ but it’s a fantasy. There’s no evidence that people work less when their taxes go up. On the contrary; it’s more likely that you will work more, in order to avoid a reduction in your net income.

    If I … have to spend additional weeks away from my family, living in a hotel room

    Except that you won’t “have to spend additional weeks away from [your] family, living in a hotel room.” That’s not something you ever “have to” do. “Living in a hotel room” is something you have been choosing to do, and it suggests you love money more than you love your family. So when higher taxes reduce your net income, you will spend even more “weeks away,” attempting to replace that lost income. Your current behavior shows that money is what you love the most, and you will respond to higher taxes by continuing to exhibit that same behavior.

    And let’s say you do decide to work less. So what? Who cares? You are not the only person in the world who knows how to do what you do. If you decide to stop doing it, your slack will get picked up by someone else who needs the money more than you do (as a couple of other commenters have explained). This is how the free market works. I’m sorry you don’t believe in it.

    If it’s that important to you, Tortured Idealist, pay 82% of your fecking money in taxes … these smug aceholes who act as though I should be thrilled at the opportunity of shelling out 82% taxation

    It would be better if you didn’t blur the difference between marginal rates and effective rates. These statements of yours suggest that someone has suggested an effective rate of 82%, and I know of no one who has done that.

    if you’re so keen on the idea of giving the government money, I hear they’ll be glad to take a check

    If defense spending seemed too low to you, would you send some extra money to the Pentagon? If you refrained from doing so, would that undermine your right to advocate higher defense spending? Just curious.

    jukebox’s treatise on how the collective wealth of the top bracket in the US would be sufficient to pay off the national debt

    A “treatise” is ‘a written work dealing formally and systematically with a subject.’ So I appreciate you acknowledging that I have dealt with this subject “formally and systematically.” Unfortunately, you’re doing something close to the opposite of that.

    the far left annoys me

    The aggregate household wealth of the top 1% exceeds the national debt, which means that a tax on that wealth would be sufficient to pay the national debt. This is a simple mathematical observation, and easy to verify. I notice you don’t attempt to dispute my numbers. Since when did math become “far left?” I know the GOP is at war with math, but I didn’t realize you were too.

    You think a 36% real federal income tax rate, or a 50.55% overall real tax rate, is stupid low?

    Total average federal rate, top 1%, 2010: 29.4%. Link. So I hope you’ll explain where you got “36%,” and I hope your explanation consists of more than unsupported personal anecdotes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  193. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    I doubt it. We often hear this threat about ‘going Galt,’ but it’s a fantasy. There’s no evidence that people work less when their taxes go up. On the contrary; it’s more likely that you will work more, in order to avoid a reduction in your net income.

    LOL, no, remember, I’m pursuing “sport” earnings, not “instrumental” earnings. I have no incentive to pursue additional earnings, since according to your theory I have no happiness benefit to achieve from doing so.

    What is more likely is that I will, in various ways, defer and sequester that compensation to preserve my net income. I’m a financial lawyer, remember? I hide money for a living, and the IRS is populated by comparative morons who couldn’t hack it in the real world. You really think a gauntlet of $60,000 a year civil servant drones is a match for a bunch of Wall Street lawyers? Well, good luck and God bless …

    It would be better if you didn’t blur the difference between marginal rates and effective rates. These statements of yours suggest that someone has suggested an effective rate of 82%, and I know of no one who has done that.

    For the purposes of our discussion, it’s immaterial. Once I hit your arbitrary threshold, each additional dollar that I may earn, depending on my value judgment, is taxed at a real rate of 82% in that example, so I will be making said value judgment about whether or not to pursue the additional income on the realized net gain of 18 cents on every dollar actually earned above that threshold, not the ones that came before it.

    If defense spending seemed too low to you, would you send some extra money to the Pentagon? If you refrained from doing so, would that undermine your right to advocate higher defense spending? Just curious.

    So, in other words, you value these principles that you have been spouting – just not enough to pay for them with your own money (but you don’t mind in the least paying for them with mine)? Got it …

    A “treatise” is ‘a written work dealing formally and systematically with a subject.’ So I appreciate you acknowledging that I have dealt with this subject “formally and systematically.” Unfortunately, you’re doing something close to the opposite of that.

    It was intended as a term of ridicule. Perhaps I should have enclosed it in quote marks. Hmm – I’ll make a note of that for future discussions.

    The aggregate household wealth of the top 1% exceeds the national debt, which means that a tax on that wealth would be sufficient to pay the national debt.

    No, it means that a substantive liquidation of that household wealth, much of which is held as illiquid capital assets, would be necessary to pay off the national debt. Are you proposing a national property tax? Are you instead proposing that we conduct a fire sale in order to liquidate those assets for collection, and if so, who is going to buy those assets?

    More importantly, won’t you just have to go after them once they do?

    Unless of course you are proposing to just seize it and send everybody in American a share of Walmart …

    This is where the “math” of the left goes off the rails – you presume that there will always be enough of someone else’s money to fix any problem that vexes you, and you feel entitled to seize it in order to accomplish your goals.

    Total average federal rate, top 1%, 2010: 29.4%. Link. So I hope you’ll explain where you got “36%,” and I hope your explanation consists of more than unsupported personal anecdotes.

    Sure, genius. For starters, you are citing an average rate. If 10 people pay to get into a ballgame, with 2 of them paying $30, 2 of them paying $40, 2 of them paying $50, 2 of them paying $60 and 2 of them paying $70, they paid an average of $50 each.

    Your average cost is only actually accurate for 2 of the 10 people. It’s inaccurate for the other 8, who either pay less to much less (or more to much more) than the average. For someone who brags about his math skills, I’d think you’d understand the fallacy of citing averages in an attempt to debunk individual outliers.The beauty of marginal tax rates is that the higher one earns above the floor of the highest bracket, the closer one’s real tax rate and marginal tax rate approach to one another. My marginal tax bracket is 39.6%, while the top 1% of wage earners includes those earning as little as $521,411. I earned $3,500,000, or 6.7 times as much. You are discussing a pretty broad range.

    I work, my wife does not. I have three kids, all under the age of 18. Distribution conveyed on a K-1 (equity partner) of $3,500,000 last year. No mortgage (house is paid for). Property taxes of roughly $90,000. Various laundry list of potential deductions mostly are unavailable due to income phase out. Self employment taxes owed, less 1/2 deduction for AGI, plus an additional 0.9% Medicaid surtax (PPACA) on earnings above $250,000.. AMT is inapplicable. I have excluded capital gains, as we have been discussing taxation of earned income.

    Feel free to run those figures through your handy favorite tax calculator for 2014 and see what you come up with. Helpful hint – it’ll be quite a bit larger than 29%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  194. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Jukeboxgrad:

    I doubt it. We often hear this threat about ‘going Galt,’ but it’s a fantasy. There’s no evidence that people work less when their taxes go up. On the contrary; it’s more likely that you will work more, in order to avoid a reduction in your net income.

    LOL, no, remember, I’m pursuing “sport” earnings, not “instrumental” earnings. I have no incentive to pursue additional earnings, since according to your theory I have no happiness benefit to achieve from doing so.

    What is more likely is that I will, in various ways, defer and sequester that compensation to preserve my net income. I’m a financial lawyer, remember? I hide money for a living, and the IRS is populated by comparative morons who couldn’t hack it in the real world. You really think a gauntlet of $60,000 a year civil servant drones is a match for a bunch of Wall Street lawyers? Well, good luck and God bless …

    It would be better if you didn’t blur the difference between marginal rates and effective rates. These statements of yours suggest that someone has suggested an effective rate of 82%, and I know of no one who has done that.

    For the purposes of our discussion, it’s immaterial. Once I hit your arbitrary threshold, each additional dollar that I may earn, depending on my value judgment, is taxed at a real rate of 82% in that example, so I will be making said value judgment about whether or not to pursue the additional income on the realized net gain of 18 cents on every dollar actually earned above that threshold, not the ones that came before it.

    If defense spending seemed too low to you, would you send some extra money to the Pentagon? If you refrained from doing so, would that undermine your right to advocate higher defense spending? Just curious.

    So, in other words, you value these principles that you have been spouting – just not enough to pay for them with your own money (but you don’t mind in the least paying for them with mine)? Got it …

    A “treatise” is ‘a written work dealing formally and systematically with a subject.’ So I appreciate you acknowledging that I have dealt with this subject “formally and systematically.” Unfortunately, you’re doing something close to the opposite of that.

    It was intended as a term of ridicule. Perhaps I should have enclosed it in quote marks. Hmm – I’ll make a note of that for future discussions.

    The aggregate household wealth of the top 1% exceeds the national debt, which means that a tax on that wealth would be sufficient to pay the national debt.

    No, it means that a substantive liquidation of that household wealth, much of which is held as illiquid capital assets, would be necessary to pay off the national debt. Are you proposing a national property tax? Are you instead proposing that we conduct a fire sale in order to liquidate those assets for collection, and if so, who is going to buy those assets?

    More importantly, won’t you just have to go after them once they do?

    Unless of course you are proposing to just seize it and send everybody in America a few shares of Walmart …

    This is where the “math” of the left goes off the rails – you presume that there will always be enough of someone else’s money to fix any problem that vexes you, and you feel entitled to seize it in order to accomplish your goals.

    Total average federal rate, top 1%, 2010: 29.4%. Link. So I hope you’ll explain where you got “36%,” and I hope your explanation consists of more than unsupported personal anecdotes.

    Sure, genius. For starters, you are citing an average rate. If 10 people pay to get into a ballgame, with 2 of them paying $30, 2 of them paying $40, 2 of them paying $50, 2 of them paying $60 and 2 of them paying $70, they paid an average of $50 each.

    Your average cost is only actually accurate for 2 of the 10 people. It’s inaccurate for the other 8, who either pay less to much less (or more to much more) than the average. For someone who brags about his math skills, I’d think you’d understand the fallacy of citing averages in an attempt to debunk individual outliers.The beauty of marginal tax rates is that the higher one earns above the floor of the highest bracket, the closer one’s real tax rate and marginal tax rate approach to one another. My marginal tax bracket is 39.6%, while the top 1% of wage earners includes those earning as little as $521,411. I earned $3,500,000, or 6.7 times as much. You are discussing a pretty broad range.

    I work, my wife does not. I have three kids, all under the age of 18. Distribution conveyed on a K-1 (equity partner) of $3,500,000 last year. No mortgage (house is paid for). Property taxes of roughly $90,000. Various laundry list of potential deductions mostly are unavailable due to income phase out. Self employment taxes owed, less 1/2 deduction for AGI, plus an additional 0.9% Medicaid surtax (PPACA) on earnings above $250,000.. AMT is inapplicable. I have excluded capital gains, as they were negligible in 2014 (less than $10,000) and we have been discussing taxation of earned income.

    Feel free to run those figures through your handy favorite tax calculator for 2014 and see what you come up with. Helpful hint – it’ll be quite a bit larger than 29%.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  195. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    How much is too far for someone who believes he’s saving the world?

    I think we know the answer to that question, and it is expressed in megadeaths.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  196. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Again.. What’s your effective rate???
    Romney’s is famously 14%…same as mine…stupid low.
    26 of our biggest corporations pay zero…stupid low.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  197. gVOR08 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Without it, there is no limiting factor to prevent the do-gooders from raising (taxes) as high as they like – which I do believe that, in an unconstrained system, they would do.

    A key point and a common argument. Krugman points out that historically this doesn’t happen. Poor people don’t vote themselves increasing bennies until they bust the system. Conservatives argue we can’t so stimulus spending because the spending will be permanent. Krugman points out we repeal the spending as the economy picks up, generally too soon. Bartlett points out that this is a common argument against a VAT, but rates have remained largely stable in Europe.

    I’ll also mention that when the Dems, presumably your “do-gooders”, controlled the House, they had a PAYGO rule. It was the GOPs who blew up the deficit in normal times with spending. Of course they also cut taxes, so conservative “deficit hawks” were happy.

    The wealthy are hardly without the means to defend themselves. The fact is that they do pretty much control the political process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  198. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I gave you the tools to find that for yourself (and exercise those math skills you keep harping on).

    But, since you seem to want to review division, we can do that.

    Effective tax rate = total tax paid / taxable income

    (These are rounded figures, as you do not need to know the exact ones)

    ETR = $1,226,000 / $3,400,000 = 36%

    which is the figure that I’ve already given you, numerous times.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  199. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Note: Romney paid 14% thanks to carried interest, which allows hedge fund managers to treat what can only be termed as earned income to instead be a capital gain. That loophole – which should be closed, today …. – is not available to me, which is one of the many reasons he paid so relatively little and I paid a great deal more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  200. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08:

    Bartlett points out that this is a common argument against a VAT, but rates have remained largely stable in Europe.

    The average VAT rate for the EU nations has increased 2% in the past five years alone. It’s gone from 12% to 19% in Germany in the past 20 years, 13.6% to 20% in France. Great Britain raised theirs from 17.5% to 20% in 2011. In fact, EU members are prohibited from levying a VAT lower than 15%.

    I don’t disagree there are points in favor of a VAT, but if Europe is any indication, it could get jacked up pretty quickly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  201. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “You’re confusing unapologetic self-interest, which is my primary motivator, with a desire for approval. I don’t care if you like me”

    Oh, okay. That explains the nine thousand messages in which you complain about people receiving your hard earned tax dollars who don’t feel sufficiently grateful to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  202. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “For the purposes of our discussion, it’s immaterial. Once I hit your arbitrary threshold, each additional dollar that I may earn, depending on my value judgment, is taxed at a real rate of 82% in that example, so I will be making said value judgment about whether or not to pursue the additional income on the realized net gain of 18 cents on every dollar actually earned above that threshold, not the ones that came before it.”

    Please help this ignorant lefty understand — you brag that your job is helping rich corporations avoid taxation through legal tricks you can pull off because you’re smarting than the workers at the IRS.

    Then you tell us that if taxes on your income bracket are raised — something that will greatly aid the country — you will choose to work less, since every new dollar is worth less to yo.

    My question — how is this not an even bigger win for the country? Not only will we have more money to pay for national priorities, we’ll have one less lawyer looking for loopholes to help corporations avoid legally owed taxes?

    Do you honestly believe that anyone outside your club would see you — the professional you; I’m sure you’re a fine citizen and upstanding family man in personal life — as anythng other than a parasite?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  203. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “That loophole – which should be closed, today …. – is not available to me, which is one of the many reasons he paid so relatively little and I paid a great deal more.”

    I guess this is what makes you a “man of the left” — you’re perfectly willing to adjust an issue in the tax code that isn’t available to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  204. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    So maybe you should have gone to Yale

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  205. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    I have no incentive to pursue additional earnings, since according to your theory I have no happiness benefit to achieve from doing so.

    You are choosing to completely misunderstand what I said.

    Have you noticed how rich people generally continue to work themselves to death, no matter how much money they have? Consider the following possible explanations:

    A) I love money so much that I will always work that extra hour/day/week as long as the marginal compensation is any number greater than zero.

    B) I love what I do so much that I will always work that extra hour/day/week, even if the marginal compensation is zero, or even below zero.

    The idle rich living off their inheritance are a different story, and obviously not relevant to this analysis. I’m talking about the working rich. This group includes many people who are workaholics even though they were born rich, and it includes many people who remain workaholics even after they become rich. Why is this behavior so common? I think it’s because the working rich love two things very much:

    A) Money
    B) What they do

    I think in many cases only B matters, but I think there many other cases where both matter. But either way, your fantasy about ‘going Galt’ is just a fantasy. That’s why there is no evidence to support the claim that people work less when their taxes go up.

    I hide money for a living, and the IRS is populated by comparative morons

    Consider these two statements:

    A) People respond to higher taxes by working less.
    B) People respond to higher taxes by improving their ability to avoid and evade taxation.

    B is true. A is not.

    If we wanted to tax the rich in ways that are effective and unavoidable, we could do so. We simply lack the will to do so. This has to do with politics, not economics or mathematics.

    For the purposes of our discussion, it’s immaterial.

    For the purposes of our discussion, the difference between ‘marginal tax rate” and ‘effective tax rate’ is deeply material. Blurring that distinction is a form of lying. No surprise from someone who “bend[s] the rules for a living.”

    So, in other words, you value these principles that you have been spouting – just not enough to pay for them with your own money

    So, in other words, you are too cowardly to answer the question. One more time: if defense spending seemed too low to you, would you send some extra money to the Pentagon? If you refrained from doing so, would that undermine your right to advocate higher defense spending?

    You know why the question is relevant, and that’s why you’re refusing to answer it.

    It was intended as a term of ridicule.

    I know. How sad that all you have is ridicule, since you cannot show that my statement (that is, that the aggregate wealth of the top 1% exceeds the entire national debt) is incorrect. Resorting to ridicule is a way of inadvertently proving that this is the best you can do.

    a substantive liquidation of that household wealth, much of which is held as illiquid capital assets, would be necessary to pay off the national debt

    So what? Who cares?

    Are you proposing a national property tax?

    I was “proposing” nothing. I was making a simple mathematical observation. Merely making the observation is itself an important act because the mathematical reality I described (that is, that the aggregate wealth of the top 1% exceeds the entire national debt) is routinely denied by conservatives. Consider these two statements:

    A) It would be possible to pay the entire national debt via an asset tax on the top 1%.
    B) It would be a good idea to pay the entire national debt via an asset tax on the top 1%.

    I said A. I did not say B. Pretending to not understand the difference is just what I would expect from someone who “bend[s] the rules for a living.”

    Are you instead proposing that we conduct a fire sale in order to liquidate those assets for collection

    It’s always fun to watch a straw man being demolished. Consider these two statements:

    A) It would be a good idea to pay the entire national debt via an asset tax on the top 1%, but as a practical matter this would need to be done in steps, over time.

    B) It would be a good idea to pay the entire national debt via an asset tax on the top 1%, and this should be done in one swift step, overnight.

    Your question would be something other than a stupid straw man argument if I had said B. But I haven’t said B, and I haven’t even said A.

    You are choosing to argue against things I never said because you lack the ability to argue against the thing I actually did say.

    and if so, who is going to buy those assets?

    The people who are not quite as rich (e.g., the 90-98%).

    won’t you just have to go after them once they do?

    Explain why.

    Unless of course you are proposing to just seize it

    Explain the difference between taxation and “seize.”

    you feel entitled to seize it in order to accomplish your goals

    And you also “feel entitled to seize it,” from this group: our kids. People who are concerned about the debt should be in favor of higher taxes. Either we are going to pay the debt or our kids are going to do it. Republicans prefer the latter. When the GOP told you they were implementing tax cuts, that wasn’t true. They were only implementing tax deferrals.

    the fallacy of citing averages in an attempt to debunk individual outliers

    You said this:

    You think a 36% real federal income tax rate, or a 50.55% overall real tax rate, is stupid low?

    Thank you for admitting that your “36%” is just an ‘individual outlier,’ which means there are just as many examples in the opposite direction.

    An honest person citing that number would make it clear that it was only an ‘individual outlier,’ rather than implying it was an average. You did the latter, which is something else I would expect from someone who “bend[s] the rules for a living.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  206. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    I see these people as gaming the system … They’re con artists

    HarvardLaw92:

    I bend the rules for a living, and I’m exceptionally good at it

    I need help understanding how “gaming the system” and “bend the rules for a living” are not two different ways of saying precisely the same thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  207. Will Taylor says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    As someone who places all kinds of lawyers, there is simply no way to prevent Big Firm lawyers from finding loopholes. These guys typically bill at least 750 an hour and exceptional tax partners can bill north of 1K an hour. Believe it or not, these guys have more work than they can handle these days. Whether its doing a tax inversion for a company or helping wealthy families hide their money offshore in shell companies, there is little government can and will do to change the system.

    The biggest problem is really the incestuous relationship between government agencies and big law firms. I’ll use Dodd-Frank as an example. The same folks who helped write the laws and worked for the government defending the laws will eventually join a firm like Covington or Hogan in DC and them help the same wealthy companies with ways around the law.
    It can really be any and all areas of law from energy to banking. Neal Barofksky, our Special Inspector of the TARP program now works at Jenner helping banks circumventing the law. His firm also is one of the biggest defenders of illegal tribal loans like a company called Cashcall which has been sued by just about every State Attorney General.

    As for Harvardlaw92, he is likely what is called a Service partner for the firm. He’s likely not the rainmaker with the relationships, but probably a good enough lawyer for the firm to handle institutional work. He helps the Romneys of the world protect their money from the government, but ironically poses as a liberal on here. Still, I would not be too harsh on him as he’s just explaining what he does everyday to help the rich get richer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  208. Will Taylor says:

    As someone who is a recruiter who places all kinds of lawyers, there is simply no way to prevent Big Firm lawyers from finding loopholes. These guys typically bill at least 750 an hour and exceptional tax partners can bill north of 1K an hour. Believe it or not, these guys have more work than they can handle these days. Whether its doing a tax inversion for a company or helping wealthy families hide their money offshore in shell companies, there is little government can and will do to change the system.

    The biggest problem is really the incestuous relationship between government agencies and big law firms. I’ll use Dodd-Frank as an example. The same folks who helped write the laws and worked for the government defending the laws will eventually join a firm like Covington or Hogan in DC and them help the same wealthy companies with ways around the law.
    It can really be any and all areas of law from energy to banking. Neal Barofksky, our Special Inspector of the TARP program now works at Jenner helping banks circumventing the law. His firm also is one of the biggest defenders of illegal tribal loans like a company called Cashcall which has been sued by just about every State Attorney General.

    As for Harvardlaw92, he is likely what is called a Service partner for the firm. He’s likely not the rainmaker with the relationships, but probably a good enough lawyer for the firm to handle institutional work. He helps the Romneys of the world protect their money from the government, but ironically poses as a liberal on here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  209. jukeboxgrad says:

    there is little government can and will do to change the system

    Change is not happening right now because the gangsters have purchased the government. But ultimately change is inevitable; the only question is whether or not it happens in an orderly, peaceful manner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  210. Mikey says:

    Peripherally related, and interesting.

    Paying less than $16 per hour not fair: Aetna CEO

    Asked what pay level would prove too expensive for the company, Bertolini responded, “We shouldn’t look at it that way. We’ve sort of destroyed business after business in this country by looking at spreadsheets with numbers we call truth.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  211. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Will Taylor:

    LOL, no, he’s what’s called a managing partner for the firm. How’s that trench work trying to find jobs for the second string going?

    Keep the hate coming, folks. It lets me know that I’ve gotten to you.

    (Oh, and have a nice day 😀 )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  212. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I have no desire to go slumming, but thanks for the suggestion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  213. munchbox says:

    @havardlaw92

    ETR = $1,226,000 / $3,400,000 = 36%
    which is the figure that I’ve already given you, numerous times.

    and even that is not enough for these morons sorry to have sic’d the junkie and the other lap dogs on you. Lol no I not. Anyway you should ask her about how in fact the unremarkable zero in chief has actually spent less of your tax dollars than Bush because of % of GDP. I think we could break another 300+ comment thread…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  214. Will Taylor says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Thanks for confirming my impression of you, Service partner. Btw, I never hunt for bench players like yourself, but you should know that already. Firms only pay up for people with business.

    Service partners are usually the ones lacking personality and do not have the social skills and contacts to develop business on their own. They are worker bees who do what they are told and have little to no influence in the direction of the firm. These folks are usually the first to be demoted or fired in any sign of financial trouble with the firm.

    btw, thanks for asking how I’m doing. Business is great. i unfortunately do not have as much time the last few months to post on here, but when I say a poser like yourself i have to respond. It’s fun watching you trying to be a liberal on here. I may disagree with many liberals on here, but at least most of them practice what they preach. That automatically raises them ahead of you regardless of your Income.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  215. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Will Taylor:

    We’ve had this pissing match before. It’s boring, and I don’t swing at the dirt. Nice effort though.

    Equity partners don’t get fired. We get bought out. If the other partners want to write me a rather large check and send me on my way, which there is no indication of, no worries. Such is life. I certainly won’t be hustling apples down at the piers any time soon.

    Just between us boys – I’ve been getting felt up lately by one of the banks regarding interest in jumping over to the dark side as general counsel. Interesting thought, certainly with even better earning potential. Maybe I should take them up on it. Hmm …

    Short version – folks like me always come out on top. It comes with the territory.

    I’m glad you’re doing well. I can quite say the same. Isn’t life grand when you’re on the winning team?

    I may disagree with many liberals on here, but at least most of them practice what they preach. That automatically raises them ahead of you regardless of your Income.

    LOL, right. 10 will get you 20 that in a race between getting my income and keeping their principles, given a singular choice between the two, well, I think you know how that one turns out.

    You have yourself a nice day, pal. 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  216. HarvardLaw92 says:

    But ultimately change is inevitable; the only question is whether or not it happens in an orderly, peaceful manner.

    Thus reads the banner of the toiler, destined to lose but eternally convinced he’ll triumph, because “right” is on his side.

    It’s almost inspiring.

    Best of luck on your quest there, Frodo. You’ll need it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  217. Will Taylor says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I don’t begrudge you for what you do for a living. I probably understand you better than most people on here. Maybe you really should join the dark side already and take that In-House gig with the bank. That does seem to be the trends these days. I would suggest a mid sized community bank that may be a potential acquisition for a larger bank and then you’d really cash out. You could quit law and actually be Mitt Romney.

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  218. munchbox says:

    Hey don’t forget to ask how zero has spent less of Your tax dollars then Bush…..

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  219. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Will Taylor:

    I have no interest in consumer banking and I certainly have no interest in moving to West Jesus, Idaho. Can you even imagine me living in Hooterville? ** shudder **

    No thanks, I’ll stay in Manhattan. Luckily, the (investment) bank in question is in Manhattan. You just have to love it when the stars (repeatedly) align in your favor.

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  220. PT says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Pretty nauseating stuff, my man.

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  221. Will Taylor says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Mobile Payment Systems is the area where you want to be. There are very few big law partners who can actually call themselves experts in that space. If you don’t have a speciality, you’ll find yourself Cut when the economy turns, but maybe someone like you would be welcomes back to your firm.

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  222. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Will Taylor:

    My specialty is M&A, but then again you already knew that. If you want to chat, fine, but the bush league taunts are boring (and frankly, beneath your skill level). I get better bitchiness from my mother in law, and she’s a fricking Presbydestrian.

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  223. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @PT:

    Don’t read too much into it. I’m just speaking to Will in his language.

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  224. jukeboxgrad says:

    munchbox:

    you should ask her about how in fact the unremarkable zero in chief has actually spent less of your tax dollars than Bush because of % of GDP … don’t forget to ask how zero has spent less of Your tax dollars then Bush

    Consider the following spending figures (which are in constant FY09 dollars):

    FY09 $3,518B (Bush’s last fiscal year)
    FY10 $3,417B
    FY11 $3,492B
    FY12 $3,365B
    FY13 $3,234B
    FY14 $3,232B

    So if you are too thick to grasp why “% of GDP” is the correct measurement, you can forget about “% of GDP.” When measured in real dollars, in each of his years Obama has spent less than what Bush spent in Bush’s last year. And Obama’s latest number (FY14) is an 8% reduction, compared with what Bush spent in Bush’s last year.

    It should be noticed that in his eight years, Bush managed to spend less than the previous year this many times: zero. In his five years (so far), Obama has managed to spend less than the previous year this many times: four.

    Also notice that conservatives like to claim that actual inflation is larger than what’s indicated in the official inflation figures. If this conservative claim is true, then the Obama numbers I posted need to be reduced, and would show an even greater drop, compared with Bush.

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  225. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The president doesn’t control spending. He formulates a proposed budget, which Congress then follows or ignores (at its choice) in turning it into appropriations bills.

    Considering the makeup and timing of Congressional control, aren’t you actually (and I suspect inadvertently) saying that the Republicans who control the House spent less?

    Just asking …

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  226. al-Ameda says:

    @munchbox:

    Hey don’t forget to ask how zero has spent less of Your tax dollars then Bush…..

    “zero”?
    That’s how many times Republicans have defeated Obama in presidential elections.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  227. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Short version – folks like me always come out on top”

    Nobody talks to me that way. I’m Homer Simpson, the most powerful food critic in town, who will never get his comeuppance! You hear me? No comeuppance! [turns to the camera] We’ll be right back.

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  228. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Repeating this here for the benefit of those who might miss it on the other thread:

    Truthfully? TRUTHFULLY?

    This has been an extended sort of game I’ve played over the past few days to test / demonstrate how this place has increasingly become an echo chamber. We’ve got a chorus of True Believers on the left and a peanut gallery opposition on the right, with precious little in the way of moderation to be seen anywhere.

    If I’ve tweaked people, and I indeed have, it was to draw them out from behind the veneer of feigned civility to demonstrate how tribal and one-sided the place is, and perhaps teach a lesson about why nothing much gets accomplished any longer. It’s not much of a reach to discern why, given the commentary I’ve managed to extract with a relatively small push. When you approach one another, or indeed anyone who challenges your dogma, with contempt, what could you really hope to accomplish?

    I’m about as left as any of you, probably more so than a lot. Heck, I’m a Jew, steeped in tikkun olam, who voluntarily pays more in taxes than he has to and generally keeps quiet about it.

    So, with that having been said, the game is over. Back to normalcy, but use the experience to contemplate how you reacted to it, and in doing so ask yourself if you are a part of the solution – or a part of the problem.

    Peace

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  229. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    The president doesn’t control spending.

    The 17 largest deficits (as a % of GDP) in the period 1947-2009 were all produced by Republican presidents. It’s hard to explain that result if you really think the president has no influence on spending. Unless a veto is over-ridden, no spending bill becomes law unless it’s signed by the president.

    Considering the makeup and timing of Congressional control, aren’t you actually (and I suspect inadvertently) saying that the Republicans who control the House spent less?

    The GOP didn’t take over the House until 1/3/11. FY11 was already underway, and most of the spending bills for FY11 had already been passed. The first fiscal year fully under the control of the GOP House was FY12. The sequester didn’t take effect until FY13. Notice that FY10 and FY11 were already lower than Bush’s FY09.

    So I think you are “inadvertently” revealing that you don’t know how things work. Also, consider these two claims:

    A) Under Obama, spending is up, and everyone knows spending is controlled by the president, so Obama gets the blame for the spending increase.

    B) Under Obama, spending is down, and everyone knows spending is controlled by Congress, so the GOP House gets the credit for the spending decrease.

    A is essentially what munchbox said, and B is essentially what you said. A and B contradict each other in every possible way. It takes a highly elastic mind to gloss over those contradictions, but that’s what you have. Only a person with a highly elastic mind could say this:

    I see these people as gaming the system … They’re con artists

    And then precisely thirteen minutes later say this:

    I bend the rules for a living, and I’m exceptionally good at it

    With absolutely no apparent sense of self-awareness or irony. I still need help understanding how “gaming the system” and “bend the rules for a living” are not two different ways of saying precisely the same thing. Probably the most parsimonious way to resolve this mystery is to conclude that “HarvardLaw92” and “troll” are two different ways of saying precisely the same thing.

    I’m a Jew, steeped in tikkun olam

    Seeing “hide money for a living” and “bend the rules for a living” as congruent with “tikkun olam” is another sign of remarkable elasticity.

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  230. HarvardLaw92 says:

    And before any of you starts blasting away in reply – are you angry because you feel like you got played, or are you angry because the assertion hits closer to home that you’d like to admit?

    Self-reflection is a virtue. So is self-awareness.

    Have a nice evening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  231. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Jukeboxgrad:

    Are you presenting an argument, or defending an entrenched position? You’re a prime example of what I referred to above – it’s not “this is what works best, and here is a considered explanation of why”.

    It’s instead “I am right and you are wrong (and you suck)”.

    That accomplishes nothing, except perpetuating the flinging of poo.

    Enough with the novellas. I’m not reading any more of them. Enjoy some quiet time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  232. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: That is the single most pompous description of trolling I’ve ever seen.

    “I’m deliberately annoying you to prove my superiority.”

    And here’s the astonishing fact that you have learned from this experience: If you act like an @sshole, people will treat you like an @sshole. Many of learn this in elementary school. How nice for you to finally discover it for yourself. Do rush to your club and inform the others of this amazing discovery.

    And yes, I admit I have learned something from this experience. The contempt I felt for you when I thought you were sincere now feels like a pale shadow of that you deserve.

    But thank you for admitting that you post crap you don’t believe for the purpose of annoying people. I’m sure that will be kept in mind next time you feel like pontificating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  233. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “And before any of you starts blasting away in reply – are you angry because you feel like you got played, or are you angry because the assertion hits closer to home that you’d like to admit?”

    Little boy, the most astonishing thing about you is that you think anyone cares enough about you to get angry. You are at most an irritant — something on the order of a mosquito bite, or a pebble in a shoe.

    If your life is so sad you have to feel you can manipulate total strangers by being an @sshole on the internet. the best we can come up with for you is pity. But frankly, you’re not worth the effort it would take to feel sorry for you.

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  234. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92:

    “and here is a considered explanation of why”

    I would like to hear “a considered explanation of why” your statements “gaming the system” and “bend the rules for a living” are not two different ways of saying precisely the same thing. I am asking you this question now for the third time. Each time you run away from this question you help to establish that they are precisely the same thing. Please proceed.

    HarvardLaw92, 1/20/15 23:33:

    Feel free to keep toiling; I’m done here.

    HarvardLaw92, 1/21/15 20:10:

    Enough with the novellas. I’m not reading any more of them.

    It’s helpful to notice how often you make statements that are transparently insincere and worthless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  235. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Well, I guess that’s one pass on the self-reflection option.

    You’ve spent two days arguing yourself blue in the face and engaging in personal attacks for one simple reason – personal dislike – and apparently learned nothing.

    Sad, but not unexpected.

    Have a nice evening. I have nothing more to say to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  236. jukeboxgrad says:

    HarvardLaw92, 1/20/15 23:33:

    Feel free to keep toiling; I’m done here.

    HarvardLaw92, 1/21/15 20:10:

    Enough with the novellas. I’m not reading any more of them.

    HarvardLaw92, 1/21/15 20:31:

    I have nothing more to say to you.

    A remarkable series. I look forward to the next installment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  237. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I would like to hear “a considered explanation of why” your statements “gaming the system” and “bend the rules for a living” are not two different ways of saying precisely the same thing. I am asking you this question now for the third time. Each time you run away from this question you help to establish that they are precisely the same thing. Please proceed.

    Of course they are the same thing. They were presented as they were precisely to establish that they are the same thing, and I’m not overly fond of either example. I’m an M&A attorney. I do mergers and acquisitions, genius, not tax avoidance. Not regulatory rule bending.

    You are entirely missing the point and mistaking a performance for a position. The point was not to argue a position. The point was to present a pinata designed to cause you and others like you to react, in the hope that once Oz comes out from behind the curtain, you might, just might, learn something from the manner in which you reacted.

    That hope appears to have been misguided, but such is life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  238. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Have a nice evening. I have nothing more to say to you.”

    As you said some 15,000 messages ago.

    Somehow I suspect you’ll stick around. You’ve already proven you desperately need strangers to pay attention to you… I doubt that will change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  239. jukeboxgrad says:

    I do mergers and acquisitions, genius, not tax avoidance. Not regulatory rule bending.

    Before you said you “hide money for a living” and “bend the rules for a living.” Now you’re saying those statements were just “a performance.” I look forward to your future comment where you state that the original statements were true, and it’s the latter statement that’s “a performance.”

    Thanks for making it so clear that nothing you say should be taken seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

  240. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “The point was to present a pinata designed to cause you and others like you to react, in the hope that once Oz comes out from behind the curtain, you might, just might, learn something from the manner in which you reacted.”

    I realize your contempt for a liberal arts education means you’ve never actually read anything but a textbook, but if you’ve even seen the movie you might recall that “Oz” is actually a contemptible fraud who used lies and deceit to intimidate people into doing his bidding.

    Why you’d choose to identify with him is your own problem.

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  241. wr says:

    @jukeboxgrad: “Thanks for making it so clear that nothing you say should be taken seriously.”

    I’ll say this for Jenos — he never breaks character. That’s the sign of a good troll. HL has been all over the map for a few days, and now he insists on stepping out on stage and bragging about what a good troll he is. It’s pretty pathetic when you can’t even troll properly.

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  242. Grewgills says:

    @HL92 various
    Could you just stick to legal analysis and actual commentary rather than trolling in some misguided attempt to teach people a lesson?

    @HL92 and Will
    Would you PLEASE stop the pissing contests. It’s getting to the point that I’m just going to scroll past any comment I see that either of you write.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  243. wr says:

    @Grewgills: Yeah, I’m done.

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  244. munchbox says:

    It’s you wr and the junkie that are pretty pathetic…

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  245. munchbox says:

    It’s you, wr and the junkie that are pretty pathetic…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  246. al-Ameda says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    And before any of you starts blasting away in reply – are you angry because you feel like you got played, or are you angry because the assertion hits closer to home that you’d like to admit?

    Well, for the record, I’ve never thought that you were playing me, although, on the internet and on these blogs people can depict themselves as they please. I’ve always taken your representations, opinions and points for what they seemed to be – well-reasoned and probably somewhere in the center left on the spectrum. Not that it matters but, ideologically I’m not far from you on the spectrum.

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  247. Rick DeMent says:

    I’m not sure what all the hating on HarvardLaw92? I’m practically a Communist and I find his views on taxation pretty reasonable.

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  248. al-Ameda says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I’m not sure what all the hating on HarvardLaw92? I’m practically a Communist and I find his views on taxation pretty reasonable.

    So do I. If the numbers could be worked out I could be persuaded to support a mildly progressive federal income tax system + a national VAT that would apply on financial transactions too (in replacement of the Capital Gains Tax).

    We can’t even have a serious discussion on this (actually, we The People can’t have a serious discussion about anything these days).

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  249. Mikey says:

    @Rick DeMent: IMHO some people drew inferences from his occupation and income and argued based on those rather than what he had actually written.

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  250. Grewgills says:

    @Rick DeMent:
    Do you really think that adding another couple of tiers beyong ~400K that would have incrementally higher taxes is a slippery slope back to a 90% top marginal rate? That didn’t strike me as a reasonable position.

    @Mikey:
    I think it was much more his focusing on a single anecdote of a recent Brown Women’s Studies major (a stereotype for certain) when explaining poverty that got some going (including me). well, that and his characterization of the poor as conniving moochers who were only poor because of bad decisions and government subsidies.

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  251. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills: Maybe so, but it started even before that. He was getting hit with assertions of “hating the poors” and bad faith straight out of the gate, simply because he’s a Wall Street lawyer with money. I’d see responses to his comments and think “where on Earth did they get that, because there is none of it in what he actually wrote.”

    Sure he can be abrasive and he’s got a big ego, but I think he was really trying to make some good, thoughtful points–and often succeeding–and a few just wouldn’t even give him a chance because they were filtering everything he said through their own set of stereotypes.

    That’s how I see it, anyway. YMMV.

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  252. Grewgills says:

    @Mikey:
    Perhaps I’m misremembering and I don’t have the time or inclination to go back through all 200 some odd comments or even the 127 mentions of harvard in this thread, but my recollection is that it was a fairly civil conversation until HL started his “experiment” and trotted out the Brown grad and started on about how the poor were poor because of bad choices. That was where the conversation was when I started reading enough to comment.
    Honestly, I don’t even dislike anyone here. There are a few I find to be petty annoyances, but I assume that if I met them for a drink* they’d probably be reasonably agreeable.

    * Not something that is at all likely, given my location among other things. That said, if anyone is coming out to Hawaii I’m happy to give tourist tips.

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  253. jukeboxgrad says:

    He was getting hit with assertions of “hating the poors” and bad faith … “where on Earth did they get that, because there is none of it in what he actually wrote.”

    Link:

    I see these people as gaming the system … They’re con artists

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  254. jukeboxgrad says:

    I’m not sure what all the hating on HarvardLaw92?

    I said this: if we wanted to completely eliminate the deficit and the debt we could, just by raising taxes on the top 1%. 100% of the current deficit would be eliminated if the top 1% resumed paying the effective tax rate they used to pay in the period 1942-1981. Link. He said this:

    After a few servings of jukebox’s treatise on how the collective wealth of the top bracket in the US would be sufficient to pay off the national debt, I’m not sure how tongue in cheek any of this crap is any longer. Fundamentally, the far left annoys me just as much as the far right does.

    What I said is math, and math is not “far left.”

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  255. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills: The Brown grad was very early in a long series of exchanges. The bit about “con artists” was very late, and came when he was doing his “experiment” or whatever it was.

    In between was some reasonable and thoughtful commentary that was met with a lot of unjustified vitriol. Yeah, there was some sniping and snark, but he was very, VERY far from alone in that.

    I don’t even agree with some of his commentary, and I’m not here to defend it all, especially that “experiment” which, frankly, I found a bit juvenile and contrived. But there were more than a few times he was just plain treated unfairly.

    Still, YMMV, and I certainly can’t gainsay your own perceptions of what went on. I don’t pretend to be without my own biases. I just try my best to avoid drawing inferences I can’t justify when taking a commenter’s text at face value.

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  256. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Your ellipsis discards a very important qualifier, and in using it you have altered the context of my comment a great deal. I’m a bit miffed by that.

    There was reasonable discussion early on for which HL92 was unjustly attacked. The bit about “con artists” was very late in the discussion, and I certainly wouldn’t have wondered how someone would draw a negative inference from it, because one wouldn’t have to infer anything–it’s right out there.

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  257. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Hey, I can use “reply” to you without going into purgatory!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  258. jukeboxgrad says:

    especially that “experiment” which, frankly, I found a bit juvenile and contrived

    I think you’re being too kind. In my opinion, it was dishonest and a major demonstration of bad faith.

    The bit about “con artists” was very late in the discussion

    In my opinion, it’s consistent with what he was saying all along, which is I why decided your qualifier didn’t matter.

    reasonable and thoughtful commentary that was met with a lot of unjustified vitriol

    I think my observation that the wealth of the top 1% exceeds the debt is a good example of “reasonable and thoughtful commentary,” and I think his describing my observation as “far left” is a good example of “unjustified vitriol.”

    Hey, I can use “reply” to you without going into purgatory!

    Probably just random luck. I wouldn’t count on it.

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  259. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    In my opinion, it’s consistent with what he was saying all along, which is I why decided your qualifier didn’t matter.

    I don’t agree that it was, but I appreciate your explanation.

    Probably just random luck. I wouldn’t count on it.

    Time to buy a lottery ticket…

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  260. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad: I recall having used “reply” to you in the past without any problems. I wonder why it works for me but not others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  261. jukeboxgrad says:

    Good question, and it’s a total mystery to me. Maybe it has something to do with OS or browser.

    Probably it’s just the general high quality of your comments!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0