Truth of Economy Even Your Kids Can Grasp, in Two Minutes

16 06 2011
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31 responses

16 06 2011
NanceConfer

Well done, Robert. Well done.

16 06 2011
Crimson Wife

I fully support taxing capital gains above a certain level (say $10k or so) the same as ordinary income. I also support raising the top two brackets *IF* the government eliminates the “marriage penalty.” The income limit for married couples should be twice what it is for single individuals. Right now, the 33% bracket starts at $174k for singles but only $212k for married and the 35% bracket starts at the exact same for singles and marrieds ($379k).

From a deficit standpoint, I think it makes more sense to reduce the income limits for rich singles than to raise the MFJ limit. Rich singles can afford to pay higher taxes since they have much greater disposable income.

We have a number of friends who are single & in that income range. They’re buying luxury cars, designer clothes, and going on exotic vacations that we cannot afford because we’re supporting a family. Instead of that money going to line the pockets of high-end retailers, maybe they ought to be kicking in a greater share towards deficit reduction.

16 06 2011
Lynn

Well, Libruls, love on Robert all you want; I’m sending MY daughter to Tea Party Summer Camp! In place of socialist “spread the wealth around” propaganda, my little patriot will learn valuable time-tested principles like:
“America is good,”
“I believe in God,” and
“I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force
me to be charitable.”

Further, she’ll be learning both “economics and history, but in a fun way.” For instance:

Children will blow bubbles from a single container of soapy solution, and then pop each other’s bubbles with squirt guns in an arrangement that mimics socialism. They are to count how many bubbles they pop. Then they will work with individual bottles of solution and pop their own bubbles.

Take THAT, enemies of America!
Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) says,

They’ll even get to take home a t-shirt that says “Obamacare: Where every Dr. is named Mengele.”

Hopefully, he wasn’t kidding because I plan to buy a bunch and give them as Christmas gifts this year!

By the way, JJ and Nance,
We should get together for Tea while Girl and I in town for camp… in (ahem) FLOR-I-DA. 😀

16 06 2011
JJ

Really, Lynn?? Cool — well, no, it’s record hot here, 105 yesterday — and we have you covered on both ends of the state. Tampa Bay is probably equidistant or so for us, I’m guessing? (Four plus hours from me)

But I’m not coming for the indoctrination and secession-sowing. Heck I can get that right here, just turn on the radio or stroll around the Capitol, sigh. Gotta love the South:

[Boortz on Atlanta] This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I’ll tell you what it’s gonna take. You people, you are – you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city.

CW, I think time has passed you by. Those reasonable-seeming arguments worked in the Reagan era when the top rate was twice what you are concerned about — 70% — and when the superrich controlled much less than 40% of everything America has to share among us all. And when they weren’t spending it like the Koch brothers, to agitate and arm the riffraff against the rest of us, keep us pinned down on the bottom rung of the ladder while they stripmine the last of it.

16 06 2011
JJ

My tax bracket is not my problem if I don’t have a job, single or married. My tax bracket is not my problem if I can’t find and afford health insurance.

16 06 2011
JJ

That particular tax concern of single versus married with children, gives me a new thought, though. Does the rationale for giving tax breaks for having and raising kids, hold up anymore as good for America? What are those rich kids growing up to do for the national good? Maybe instead of being a deduction now that rich children are so richly rewarded throughout their lives with my share of the American Dream, and since I can’t afford to have them myself anymore, what with education and health care and strain on crumbling infrastructure and all, the rich should be charged a huge premium rather than getting breaks for marrying and having each new child, who will just grow up to inherit that wealth instead and then cheat us out of another few billion, instead of doing more socially responsible things with it?

Take Bill Gates. How did him marrying and having kids of his own help the rest of us? Why subsidize that? Since war has been declared against the rest of us, I vote we stop arming our enemies quite so stupidly.

This is tongue in cheek but seriously, what’s the rationale when demographics change? If the baby boomers hadn’t been such a boom, would the nation be in the entitlement fix we’re in now?

16 06 2011
Lynn

re: the “Reagan era”

Funny, just last night I was reading about “Friendly Atheist” Hemant Mehta’s recent visit to his state’s Christian homeschooling convention. After sizing up the history curricula at the vendors’ tables, he said,

With regards to U.S. History, there seemed to be 5 major periods: the colonization of America, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and Ronald Reagan.

So, yes, “Ronald Reagan” *was* an era.

16 06 2011
Lynn

JJ: “Does the rationale for giving tax breaks for having and raising kids, hold up anymore as good for America?”

It’s crucial that white Americans abort less/bear more now that brown people are expected to outnumber us – and the American Way of Life – very soon. At the very least, we need to breed more than Muslims, who are only here in our country to take it over and install sharia law.

[/tongue in cheek]

16 06 2011
JJ

Well sure. So if that’s what they mean, it ought to be in the tax code, in a constitutionally permissable form, of course. So you do it much, much better by charging everyone to have the kids (wealthy whites can afford the most if they want them) and whatever color you are, if you can’t afford the taxes, fees and rearing costs, the kid is forfeit for adoption by the wealthy.

Presto! No government subsidizing of poor women and their children needed!

16 06 2011
JJ

I’m reading World Without End, Ken Follett’s sequel to Pillars of the Earth, 50 or more pages each night before turning out the light. It’s all economic both public and private (except how sex drive complicates human affairs whether in the 14th century or the 21st, see elected officials in any era for where these intersect.)

This week it’s been all about an inheritance tax applied unfairly by wealthy opportunists bribing the enforcing authority to legally steal what little the good working people have left after family tragedy, compounded by an earl deciding to just invent a tax on building stone for a bridge to benefit the whole community, and enforce it with his own goons for no other justification except that he figures he can get away with it.

And boy, oh boy, are the Church and the Rich in bed together! In both senses . . .

16 06 2011
NanceConfer

I’m just happy to hear agreement that rich people need to pay more taxes. Let them fight amongst themselves about who pays what. Just so they all end up paying more.

16 06 2011
NanceConfer

And, sorry, Lynn, no. I won’t be driving across the state — maybe only 3 hours — to attend your daughter’s insane-a-thon.

My DD is volunteering as a camp counselor at a drama camp for a few weeks. I get to drive her and hear how things are going. The report so far is that it is fun but hard work. 🙂

Y’all have fun with those tea-partiers, though. Call for bail money. 🙂

Nance

16 06 2011
JJ

Who’s y’all, kemosabe? I said no way I was going down for that! (Though I would love to see you, Lynn and the precocious daughters IRL)

16 06 2011
NanceConfer

Y’all means Lynn and her tribe. It’s too hot for the rest of us. 🙂

16 06 2011
JJ

Got that right! 🙂
(Both meteorologically and politically . . .)

17 06 2011
Luke Holzmann

Fascinating. Especially when you consider this: http://whyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/04/professor-horwitz-dispels-myth-of-rich.html

As for taxing capital gains, I don’t know about the super-rich, but I know my parents–early on in business–ended up having to borrow half a million dollars to pay for taxes on their “capital gains” when, in reality, they were making only a couple of bucks an hour. Unless I’m misunderstanding what’s being said here–which could easy be–“capital gains” are not profits and are required to expand business and create jobs.

Good stuff to be discussing! Interested to hear your thoughts.

~Luke

17 06 2011
JJ

Luke, I’ve always understood the capital gains tax as realized investment income, so if you owned stock in their business that appreciates and then you sell it, the profit would be taxed in that same year, at the low-low CG rate rather than at your income bracket salary rate. After any offset from realized losses of the same type in the same year.

17 06 2011
JJ

But there are corporate taxes for the business itself that are not CG.
Maybe that was what hit your folks?

[If so, too bad they don’t have GE’s stable of tax attorneys e.g., or they could have avoided every cent!]

17 06 2011
NanceConfer

but I know my parents–early on in business–ended up having to borrow half a million dollars to pay for taxes on their “capital gains” when, in reality, they were making only a couple of bucks an hour.

*********

This doesn’t really add up.

Nance

17 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

My kids liked it! And I am stealing this video!

18 06 2011
COD

Wow, that report from the ICE convention on Friendly Atheist was very well done.

21 06 2011
JJ

Forget capital gains which are about individual wealth and taxes; what about the common losses in our common wealth?

“In the commonwealths of Athens and Rome, the modest simplicity of private houses announced the equal condition of freedom; whilst the sovereignty of the people was represented in the majestic edifices designed to the public use.” The publication of the six volumes of this history (1776-1788) coincided almost exactly with the establishment of the American Republic.

Contrast the situations of republican Athens and Rome with 21st century America where homelessness mounts while the gilded yachts arrive at the docks of magnificent private mansions, where private houses of tens of thousands of square feet are bought and sold while public libraries are closing, where public works deteriorate for lack of investment while investment bankers reward themselves magnificently.

22 06 2011
bpbproadrunner

JJ [shakes head and sighs] that would be Greek to the NeoCons.

Public Good? Civil Society? What kind of New Age-touchy-feely- Weirdness is this that you are proposing?

😉

22 06 2011
JJ

Beep, you must be right. In the fallout from the Walmart SCOTUS decision this week comes:

The court suggested that the Walmart workers could pursue relief to their claims by filing their own individual lawsuits, but that is no option for low-wage employees who typically earn so little that many rely upon food stamps, say labor experts. (Another wonderful American story: Taxpayers subsidizing giant, publicly traded corporations by keeping their low-wage employees alive. But I digress.)

For the workers, this legal “solution” amounts to the equivalent of asking Walmart to negotiate directly with every factory that produces its products on an individual basis, and not impose the price by wielding the power of its scale.

For the labor movement, this is a distressing development. Another crucial weapon in a diminishing arsenal — the class action lawsuit — has been effectively blunted, even as corporate employers gain new powers. Last year, the Supreme Court decreed that corporations can essentially funnel as much money into political campaigns as they choose, unlike individuals. The realities of increasingly global trade has added to the options that management can employ . . .

And for American society writ large, the decision is nothing short of a disaster, a formal affirmation from the Supreme Court that huge corporations enjoy special rights denied to the people who depend on their wages to pay their bills.

Not lost on anyone is the simple fact of widening inequality, with increasing shares of the spoils of American commerce accruing to a narrowing group of people.

23 06 2011
Nance Confer

Standing in line at WalMart yesterday, one checkout line open for many customers, and the man behind me comments that all the ladies probably quit after the SCOTUS ruling. I commented: “Good for them!” and everyone nodded.

I have quit one bank recently — BankAtlantic — I wonder if I can quit WalMart. . .

Nance

23 06 2011
COD

// (Another wonderful American story: Taxpayers subsidizing giant, publicly traded corporations by keeping their low-wage employees alive. But I digress.)//

So you are in agreement with my Tea Party friends that think the unemployment problem will magically vanish if we eliminated welfare? 😉

23 06 2011
JJ

@COD – that was the author’s aside, not my own. But I like your comeback. 😉

It’s a frustrating (trapped!) feeling and I’m feeling it more lately. Nance’s description is vividly real to me because it’s exactly what I see too whether at Walmart or Target, one long line because there is only one actual working lackey to collect the cash from everyone, even though there is a gleaming set of fully equipped empty “service” — ha! — lanes larger than the whole electronics department! And I always have plenty of time to stand there and appreciate it for the metaphor it is, representing faraway corporate royalty with one petty local “tax” collector in every village worldwide, to rake in the bounty from the wretched serfs of the realms they conquered and now command . . .(can you tell I’ve been reading medieval historical fiction?) 😉

23 06 2011
JJ

We have a newish Walmart superstore just down the road from a newish Target. Seem very similar to me. Young Son doesn’t swim much since we don’t get to the beach and don’t have a pool, so when he was invited to a cast pool party after theatre camp ends Friday, we needed to find him a serviceable swimsuit. I wouldn’t look for intimates like bathing suits at Goodwill [shudder.] So I “chose” Target over Walmart, as if that were much of a choice, and we found him perfectly acceptable black-and-green swim trunks.

All the while gritting my teeth over the reality that Target has its own outsized interferences in our economy and governance. Corporate money in America makes its own rules now, can break our rules with impunity, is muscularly MAKING our rules and is on the verge of literally ruling us.

I’ve never been a boycotter and now it’s too late anyway — I can’t see that helping nearly enough. But we can’t just keep passively standing in line like supplicants to do business on their take-it-or-leave-it terms the way the article described, either.

The corporate power system is bad for us in every sphere, bad for our health, wealth, our choice in everything large and small, our kids and parents, our climate and culture, you name it. So picking between corporate kings is no better than picking between the two private parties of politicians they’ve put on staff to finish the fleecing.

Anybody wanna talk me down?

24 06 2011
JJ

NJ Gov Chris Christie’s Approval Falls to Record Low on His Education Cuts:

Christie’s tough stance toward education funding may be what’s dragging his approval rating down the most. In the poll, 55% of voters disapproved of how Christie has handled education in the state, versus 41% who approved, the worst marks Christie scored on any issue.

Last year, Christie slashed around $1.6 billion in funding for the state’s schools. Those cuts were so severe that the state Supreme Court ruled in May that Christie had to restore $500 million to the state’s poorest schools.

Gov Rick Scott’s So Unpopular He May Give Florida’s Prez Votes to Dems in Easy Win:

This is the first poll to fill in that gap and show a direct link between Scott’s deep unpopularity and voters’ hesitancy to get behind the Republican presidential aspirants.

“In a state that’s always decided by two or three points, Scott’s unpopularity could really make the difference in tipping the state to Obama,” Director of Public Policy Polling Tom Jensen wrote to TPM.

“That’s why these new Republican Governors have been so good for Obama — they’re reminding swing state voters why they put the GOP out of power in 2006 and 2008,” he added.

Scott’s approval rating tanked shortly after he took office and imposed sweeping changes to teachers’ benefits, including a backdoor pay cut that prompted the state’s largest teachers union to file suit, alleging the changes were an unconstitutional infringement on existing contracts. And last month, Scott signed a budget that slashes around $4 billion, including $1.35 billion from education spending, and $1 billion from Medicaid.

As a result, one poll showed Scott — who won the election last year by just a 1% margin — losing a do-over contest by a massive 20 point gap.

In the latest PPP survey, 59% of registered voters said they disapprove of Scott’s job performance, versus just 33% who said they approved. According to the TPM Poll Average, 59.4% of Floridians disapprove of sCott’s job performance, compared to 32.4% who approve of it.

Florida, a perennial swing state in presidential elections, is a huge prize given its hefty haul of electoral votes. As a result of the 2010 census, Florida will gain two House seats come 2012, giving it a total of 29 electoral votes for the next election cycle.

24 06 2011
JJ

Gov. Rick Scott kills insurance rate comparison website

State officials have quietly pulled the plug on a consumer-friendly website that was the sole resource for homeowners comparison shopping for the best property insurance rates.

. . . State officials promise they will restore the comparison shopping tool soon, but they would not say when.

. . . Former Gov. Charlie Crist started the site in 2007 amid a campaign to pressure insurance companies to lower their rates.

. . . It was the only public tool to check insurance rates, in a state where nearly 4,000 insurance policies are dropped each day, and more than 100,000 homeowners sign a new policy each month.

Bill Newton, director of the Florida Consumer Action Network, lamented the loss of the comparison website this week.

“I guess consumers are on their own, no help from the government,” he said. “You can decide from advertising which company is best.”

The site disappeared amid passage of legislation that allowed large rate increases and laws that reduce policyholder rights. Consumer advocates and even some lawmakers called the new laws a gift to the insurance industry that came at the expense of Florida homeowners.

25 06 2011
JJ

Congress generally and its TEA partisan caucus particularly, chose sides against the people and appeased the corporate invaders instead of joining up as the freedom fighters they pretend while campaigning to be. Charles Blow below coins the apt phrase “pitiless Republicans and pitiful Democrats”:

I am forced to assume that if Washington politicians ever knew the sting of poverty then they have long since vanquished the memory. How else to qualify their positions?

In fact, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires, and between 2008 and 2009, when most Americans were feeling the brunt of the recession, the personal wealth of members of Congress collectively increased by more than 16 percent. Must be nice.

Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.

You defend yourself with hope, hard work and, for some, a helping hand. But these weapons grow dull in an economy on the verge of atrophy, in a job market tilting ever more toward the top and in a political environment that would sacrifice the weak to the wealthy.

. . . According to the Consumer Reports Employment Index, “In 23 of the past 24 months, lower-income Americans have lost more jobs than they have gained.” It continues, “Meanwhile, more affluent Americans seem to be gaining more jobs than they are losing.”

And the current election-cycle obsession to balance the books with a pound of flesh, which is being pushed by pitiless Republicans and accommodated by pitiful Democrats, will only multiply the pain.

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