As you know, fairness is a concept that was invented so that children and idiots could participate in arguments. I was reminded of this when thinking about taxes. According to one source, the people in the top 1% of incomes pay more federal taxes now than at any time since 1979:


The reason the top 1% are paying more taxes is because they are earning far more money than before. So while the rich are paying a lower percentage than during Clinton's time in office, they are paying more in dollars under Bush.

In other words, each rich person is subsidizing more poor people than ever. Still, each rich person has more left over for himself than ever. If you are on the side that says that isn't fair, what percent of a rich person's income do you think should be distributed by threat of force to those in need?




Keep in mind that a person making ten million a year can get by on one million a year. So is there any good reason not to take 90%? Think about all the people it would help.

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Jul 9, 2008
As an unqualified voter, here is my idea that I would throw out:

What would happen if we calculated the government's projected spending for the next year, calculated the total earnings of the American people, and divided our earnings by how much we need to run a government? If the total cost of running the government is 15% of our gross national income, everyone would pay this percentage.

The percentage of our incomes that would go to taxes each year would vary according to how much the government was projected to spend. Wars, I imagine, would lose popularity and become secondary to diplomatic and economic negotiation tactics due to their high cost. If going to war would raise my paying percentage from 10 to 17%, I would be more likely to urge my government only to start one if necessary.

At any rate, I would definitely advocate traceability of government expenditures. I once searched through a public school budget for over an hour without encountering any language intelligible to humans. And whenever our gov declares its intent to do something stupid like build a fleet of androids to guard us from Mexican pool boys, I get the vague feeling that vital monies are being sucked out of other areas to fund this, and I notice that many of the Chinese are rubbing their hands together and grinning.
Jul 9, 2008
I haven't bothered registering for the new site until this post.

I'm going to sidestep the question about taxes and the Robin Hood (Democratic) philosophy of redistributing wealth. What irks me is when super-rich-guy-business-owner decides he is the savior of humanity because he is leaving his vast wealth to some charitable foundation. Somehow he (thinks?) is suddenly wonderful, yet he refused to pay his staff a decent wage for years.

The U.S. economy is faltering because of the lack of liquidity. The rich continue to amass wealth -- wealth way beyond their ability to spend -- and squeeze the cash flow in the national and global economies. We're getting to the point the country faced in the 1930's. The rich are lighting cigars with $100 bills, while the working class struggles to feed themselves.

Everyone has the right to amass personal wealth, but when an individual's holdings exceed their lifetime spending potential, they become the bigger drain on the economy than a million impoverished welfare recipients.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 9, 2008
Rich people also have infinite possibilities with tax exemptions, can afford armies of financial/tax advisors, etc. So it may seem a little paradoxical, that someone who has lots of money and can rent his 2nd, or 3rd house will receive tax exemptions while making money, but I have to pay tax on the money I make and then about $20,000 a year for rent, which hurts even when I think of it :-)

But on the other hand, had it not been for the rich people, no one would have had the money to build the house I'm renting in the first place...

So, bottom line is, I think you can't take 90% of someone's money, because if you do, they will take their money somewhere else and the loss would have a far greater impact.

It all boils down to finding that optimum on the Bell curve :-)
Jul 9, 2008
In 2007 I reported $500,000.00 in income to the IRS. My tax outlay for 2008, on the same projected income, works out to about $300,000.00. Not any sort of lifestyle problem for me, as I set my paycheck to work out to about $500.00 take-home a week, I shop at Wal-Mart and still live in the house I bought 30 years ago as an $8.00/hour wage slave.

The rest goes back into my company. The more that goes back in, the more my people make, the more equipment I add, the more people I add. (I’m NOT generous. I just prefer wealth to income.) I've been doing so for 23 years. (I’m NOT generous. I just prefer wealth to income.)

The limit to the company's growth is capital formation, and the capital formation is limited (dissipated) by taxation. Every dime the IRS takes from me is simultaneously taken off the plates of my current and future workforce. Since 80% of the private sector employment is created and sustained by persons like me, I believe the same is true across the nation.

In my feeble little brain "Tax the Rich" = "Limit the Poor”
Jul 9, 2008
I think people forget (or just don't realize to begin with) that government already takes over 87% of all of our money anyway. Through fees, taxes, licenses, permits, regulations, and so forth 7/8 of the money ends up in government pockets eventually. Government exists through theft.
Jul 9, 2008
Life is unfair. Economics is unfair. Rich people are unfair. They have more money than everyone else. To make things fair, rich people should be allowed to keep all their money on condition that they are forced to spend all their non-sleeping time counting it out, silver dollar by silver dollar. That means that they will have to be shackled to their shekels in a counting house somewhere and not allowed to see the sunshine until they've counted out every dollar as many times as they have dollars. If that's difficult to fathom, it means that someone with one billion dollars will have to count every silver dollar one billion times before being allowed to go free and see the sunshine again. Once the rich figure out the real penalty for having more money than everyone else, they will be more than happy to sit at home, sop up TV soaps, and swill Bud till it comes out their nostrils, just like the rest of us penniless perverts. Fairness is a matter of perception. Change the way you look at things and you can change the world. Fair = egalitarian in the extreme. Oh, yeah, I forgot another condition. All rich people will have to have their faces neoplasticized so that they all look exactly like Wally. No exceptions! That's also fair.
Jul 9, 2008
Your proposal assumes that people are rich/poor because of the money they have. I've known people to become millionaires; then poor; and then millionaires again - numerous times. Likewise, lottery winners become poor again within time. People are as rich or poor as they think they should be (by whatever arbitrary system they come up with).

There appears to be a universal disconnect regarding our desire for money and our belief about it - money is good to have, but we have limiting thoughts (root of evil, someone is filthy rich, it doesn't grow on trees [when it really does], etc). So let's take away 90% of the rich people's money and we'll do them a favor - they will become "good" and they poor will become happy.

Bye the way, I know that I am completely correct or it is something else.
Jul 9, 2008
There is no such thing as a "fair tax" any more than there is a "considerate rape". Taxation is just "theft-by-government". What else would you call it when someone takes something that does not belong to them, that the legitimate owner does not wish to relinquish, using the threat of force?
Jul 9, 2008
I worked for a computer sales company. They changed the sales incentive program. The first month, everybody's checks plummeted. The sales people reviewed the details and found the cost of items were often being charged twice against their sales, and they were incurring "penalties" when they shouldn't be. After a few months of this, the corporation took away the ability of the sales people to see the details.
When they complained, the VP (owners brother) said "You should just sell so much it doesnt matter how many mistakes we make."

Didn't work then (out of business) and won't work now.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 9, 2008
Your looking at it from the wrong point of view. Just like all the politicians do.

You want to determine...what is the minimum level of service we want provided by the government. (Welfare, Healthcare, Education, etc)..then come up with a total amount. THEN figure out how to fairly distribute the costs, realizing everyone's sense of fair is different and complete consensus impossible. One approach that seems fair to me is to take the total bill for these services and divide it up among every citizen. Say it comes in at 5k per person (it doesn't, but this is just an example). Say the average income is 100k per citizen. That would equate to a 5% flat tax across the board (no matter what you make). Then do away will all deductions (which are generally regressive anyway).

Seems simple to me.
Jul 9, 2008
Question: When measuring "fairness" in taxation, what is "fairness" ? Everybody pays the same amount ? Everybody pays the same percentage of net income ? Everybody got left with the same amount to spend ?

When we know the answer to this question, we can decide how to tax fairly.

Or, if we don't know what is fair, we cannot decide whether a system, current, proposed, or otherwise, is fair or not. And we certainly don't know how to tax fairly.
Jul 9, 2008
From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Where have I heard that before?
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 9, 2008
Hi Scott,

I like your commentary on fair. I take it you must be Obama bashing since he said his tax reform will ensure everyone pays their fair share. See everyone, Scott makes fun of Obama as much as McCain.

Fair doesn't work for wealth redistribution. Should we make taxes fair by having everyone pay the same percentage, the flat tax? Or, do we make it fair by taking a greater percentage from people who can afford to pay more? Since you can use all sorts of criteria for fair the idea of the government using fairness to determine tax rates really makes me grumpy and gives me another reason to note vote for Obama.

To answer the rate for the rich question, I vote for something pretty low. I would welcome a well implemented flat tax, since I don't want my rate to be too high I vote a 20% flat tax rate, for rich and non-rich alike.

What percentage are they getting from you currently?

+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 9, 2008
When I make ten million dollars a year,
I hope to keep ALL of it.

Not because I don't want to help,
but because I want to make sure my money DOES help.

So, I'd rather distribute it myself
than trust the government to do it properly.
Jul 9, 2008
Give it all away. I guess that would be 90% on your test, huh?

I got a hefty gift card to one of our malls as a retirement gift (among other things), and I gave it to my oldest son to buy new clothes. He has lost 60 pounds and there is talk that he is sick with "something" but he is just dieting and exercising to feel better. I don't need anything, so I gave the gift card away.

You feel better when you give. Receiving is good, too. !$%*!$%*! (I mean s h i t.) Now I am not sure. Maybe I should have kept the card and looked for a store that carried silk undies. The mall does have a Victoria Secrets store. But then, the ex-Marine would start throwing up and people would think HE was sick. It's just as well. I like my granny undies.

Rita Mae

Jul 9, 2008
Many of the rich people are ambitious, creative, smart , hard-working and entrepreneurial types who help make our country better. If you tax them too much a greater percentage will leave and we will be worse off. Unfortunately, our country also attracts dead-beats who sneak past our borders in order to have their children born here so they can reap the benefits of our welfare programs without contributing anything. We need to institute programs that motivate hard-working people to stay and low-life types to leave.
Jul 9, 2008
Of course, we forget that the super rich got that way through a transfer of wealth, too. It may not be forced, but definitely predatory--manipulating of prices, markets, etc. Why does an underperforming, let alone an overperforming CEO make as much as they do? Is that fair? So the concept of fairness is much more complex here than most realize.

The rich also benefit more from government services. While they may not get welfare, infrastructure, police and military protection, government agencies do a lot more for the rich than they do for the average person, both in personal protection and economic benefit. So you could argue the rich need to pay their fair share.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 9, 2008
Well, truly fair would be if everyone just paid in $1000 and that was it no matter how much you made (and, if you have 3 kids you have to pay $1000 for you, $1000 for each kid, etc). Now, there are reasons why a percentage makes more sense and having kids means you get to pay less but I'll leave that to Scott to explain.

What gets me is that the percentage for the rich is actually *less* that it is for, well, me. I can't speak for everyone else. But even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet agree that rich people pay a smaller percentage than the middle class (I can't say they pay a smaller percentage than the poor because for the poor don't pay any taxes and may actually get a refund on top of paying 0%). Buffet and Gates were on a PBS special where they talk to some college kids (I can look it up if you want). Anyway, largely because income is from capital gains (only 15% vs. the highest marginal rate of 35%) and/or because the rich don't have to pay Social Security tax (effectively over 12% of income) on anything over about $90,000 someone making a million a year will pay a smaller percentage than someone making say, $70k per year.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 9, 2008
I think everyone, rich or poor, young or old, should pay the precise amount necessary to make our society run smoothly. Not a penny more, not a penny less. Poor people shouldn't be starving in the streets. Sick people shouldn't be dumped on the side of the road, and rich people shouldn't be pulled from their beds and beheaded in the streets by an angry mob.

Now, if you want to know what that precise tax rate should be for each income bracket, I can't help you. A few random statistics culled from the Internet just isn't enough information for me to make an informed decision. Any attempt to draw a conclusion from that would be the height of cognitive dissonance.
Jul 9, 2008
When I was doing my undergrad at the University of Minnesota I went to a lecture by Narayana Kocherlakota on "Taxing the super rich". The purpose was to show how economists work, not to reach any solid conclusion, and he admitted that there were some small problems in his solution.

He defined super rich as the top 0.0001% of earners, and using some economics he concluded that the super rich should be taxed somewhere in the range of €-90.
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