Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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SMT - Simple Millionaire Tax

Tax the millionaires and give it to the non-millionaires.
  (+3, -8)(+3, -8)
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  [vote for,
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Simply tax the millionaires, and give the money to everyone else. Don't use the money for programs, or for social services, or infrastructure -- just print checks and mail them to people. Let the people do what they want with the money.

CLARIFICATION: Note that I'm not talking about confiscating the wealth of the rich. I'm thinking about a moderate tax on income over $1,000,000, say maybe 10%, that's used for the SMT. You could also make the SMT progressive by setting the rate at 15% for 10-millionaires, 20% for 100-millionaires, etc.

BENEFITS:

One problem with taxation going to programs such as medicare, infrastructure, etc, is that the perceived link between taxation and benefits is very loose. So taxes can be cut, and maybe the infrastructure starts to crumble over the years. However people don't perceive the direct link.

With the SMT, as soon as taxes are cut, the regular SMT check will be cut too. People will see a direct connection between the SMT and their own personal income, which will make the SMT a more robust way of keeping the rich from taking an ever-increasing share of the total income in society.

AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011

Why We Must Raise Taxes on the Rich http://robertreich.org/post/4344201496
Good explanation by Robert Reich. [AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011]

Gini Coefficient http://en.wikipedia...A_Report_2009-1.png
Places with more equal distribution of wealth are better places to live. [AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011]

American Millionaires Statistics http://www.nytimes....ey-millionaire.html
Less than 20% of those with networth over 1M inherited it. [theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011]

Tax Rates and GDP Growth http://www.addictin...tes-and-gdp-growth/
Analysis of the correlation between the top marginal tax rate, and GDP growth. [AntiQuark, Aug 11 2011]

Dispelling a few myths http://www.nypress....-tax-the-rich_.html
2008 data. [RayfordSteele, Aug 12 2011]

FDR - "I welcome their hatred." http://www.youtube....?v=IjSTQwamo8M&NR=1
"The forces of selfishness and lust for power have met their master." [AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011]

Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength http://patrioticmillionaires.org/
"Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes." [AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011]

Here's where I'm going http://www.youtube....watch?v=BVxT_c5S5xg
[theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011]

I'll take John Wayne over Gordon Gekko http://www.politico...ies/0811/60896.html
[RayfordSteele, Aug 13 2011]

Warren Buffet would disagree with you... http://www.nytimes....rc=tp&smid=fb-share
Flies in the face of trickle-down economics. [RayfordSteele, Aug 16 2011]

Techcrunch's Arrington reaction to Buffet http://techcrunch.c...the-rich-heres-how/
[theircompetitor, Aug 16 2011]

Politifact's rating of Buffet's article... http://www.politifa...ay-lower-taxes-oth/
True. [RayfordSteele, Aug 22 2011]

[link]






       I once read something about a group of people that paid for something, and each time would cut the payment differently because the guys with less wanted a fairer share. Finally they cut out the richest guy altogether and discovered they have nothing.   

       Anybody see something like that?
pashute, Aug 10 2011
  

       From a fiscal independent's perspective, (ie, neither terribly conservative nor terribly liberal), I have yet to see a 100% bulletproof 'economic manifesto' that creates a self-sustaining system. I personally abhor the current philosophical divide in that is sinking our country. Churn is necessary. Change is necessary, otherwise entrenched interests discover ways to game the system more and more over time.   

       At a certain point, you can only slaughter the milk cow for so much meat, and then its dead with no more milk.   

       HOWEVER:   

       Currently where the richest 1% countrol 25% of US income and 40% of our wealth with no incentive to do anything but write more laws in their favor and hoard more of it, there's clearly a huge problem and it starts with a generation of entrenched ideologues.
RayfordSteele, Aug 10 2011
  

       I agree about the milk cow analogy, and added a clarification that it's meant to be a moderate extension of the income tax.
AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011
  

       the only possible rationale for such a tax would be the Dillinger one -- and put government into dubious company.   

       Ray, it's not "our wealth". I believe that's mentioned in the Constitution. Generally speaking, wealthy people work, and work all the time, money doesn't fall on them -- and if it does, that's generally handled through estate taxation (another questionable idea).   

       Tax reform is absolutely necessary, but higher taxation rates corresponding to higher income is the single worst idea in taxes, since taxes were invented -- and so long as that idea permeates the tax code, there will be industries devoted to circumventing it. Overcoming such loopholes is no more likely than water flowing uphill -- if needed, consult the David Mamet definition of money.   

       What we need is a combination of a flat tax and a VAT, or just a VAT. Progressive rates have always been, and will always be, a failure.   

       As to the purported gap between the rich and the poor, there has never -- in five billion years - been a better time to be born, certainly anywhere in the Western World.   

       With interest rates of 7% or so, a millionaire's money (and everyone else's) doubles roughly in 10 years. We haven't had rates in that neighborhood in a decade. How are the rich getting richer, then? In what way is their strategy inaccessible to others?   

       The shared sacrifice argument is a phoney argument. The rich pay the overwhelming portion of the taxes. Any moneys that those earning over 250K earn, that doesn't go to the government, has only the following places to go:   

       1) Towards spending on goods and services, be it bottles of Krystal or private maids or Bentleys, the production of which generates jobs and tax revenue. 2) On savings, the investment of which by also generates taxes and jobs.
theircompetitor, Aug 10 2011
  

       So, this is basically a tax on wealth (which already exists in abundance), with the difference that it's just distributed directly to the poor.   

       Why? You haven't explained why it's better this way.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 10 2011
  

       I've added a "BENEFITS" section explaining why it's better.
AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011
  

       Fair argument. But is this an additional tax, or does it replace the equivalent amount of "regular" tax?   

       Also, if tax is decoupled from government in this way, who pays for infrastructure?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 10 2011
  

       It could probably be added onto the existing taxes. There's lots of leeway to go up. Tax rates were 90% in the 1950s, and society didn't implode.   

       Infrastructure could be paid with a combination of taxes and user fees.
AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011
  

       90%, nah, thanks. I'll pass on that one.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 10 2011
  

       Take stuff from the people who have it and give it to the people who need it, until everybody has an equal amount of everything and nobody wants/needs more than they have. Then everybody's happy!   

       Interesting concept. I think I read a book about it once...
Alterother, Aug 10 2011
  

       the point, anti quark, is that its not yours to take. That it used to be is not a justification for doing it.   

       Any society that takes from each according to his abilities and gives to each according to his need winds up with a population of serfs
theircompetitor, Aug 10 2011
  

       But in a democracy, if most people think that the rich should be taxed... then they will be taxed!
AntiQuark, Aug 10 2011
  

       Find me a democracy that responds directly to the will of the people, and I'll find you that book I was talking about...
Alterother, Aug 10 2011
  

       Not much of a democracy if your citizenship costs you a tenth of mine. Not much in it, then then, for the most productive members of society.
theircompetitor, Aug 10 2011
  

       [theircompetitor] As you rightly point out, they are productive because their money's in banks, and hedge funds, and so on, where it's invested. Seems like it's the money that's productive, not the people.   

       Unless you mean their wealth is proof that they've produced more value, personally, in the past, than the average person?   

       Or do you mean that the concentration of wealth makes it more productive, and that the actual owner, is, give or take a few bottles of Krystal, a red herring, irritating to socialists, but economically irrelevant?
mouseposture, Aug 10 2011
  

       This could not be instated in the US because the millionaires (being clever, and rich) would be able to convince a majority of the voting non-millionaire populace that despite not actually being millionaires, they might actually be millionaires or soon-to-be millionaires and so such a tax would be hurtful to them, or perhaps might go to benefit people they hate, or both.
bungston, Aug 10 2011
  

       The richest.people in the States are Gates, Buffet and ellison. Probably trillions in total created wealth, untold created jobs, not to mention charity.   

       Most people who strive for riches never quite get there, but their combined attempts are equally, if not more important   

       A very high percentage of the affluent is first generation
theircompetitor, Aug 10 2011
  

       All I hear is 'blah blah blah blah.'   

       [tc], with all due respect, better my right testicle. Right now entire cities are declaring bankruptcy, that which I would call a basic public service education cannot afford to pay for ambulance upkeep to have enough to deal with basic emergency service, let alone things like decent school lunches, music classes or proper reading materials in proper schools that aren't falling apart. You fail to realize that the rich are also the powerful, and over time learn how to bend the system towards their favor and against everyone else's. Don't tell me it's not the objective of the rich donors to the Republican Party to influence every inch of the political system in their favor. They've been doing it for eons and have it down to an art form. The same goes for the Democrats, but they're not competent enough to be as evil. Somebody needs to push a RESET key before the whole thing corrodes.   

       It may not be 'our wealth,' but it's 'our resources.' Right now the cows are eating the whole output of the grass and creating no milk. It's time to slaughter a few of them, especially the mantra- chanting zombies that voted for the Tea Party.   

       There's another animal that's more apt: locusts.   

       It used to be there was enough social interaction and infrastructure to understand the basic decency of a living wage.   

       Banks will not lend to small business at all. Tell me how they're supposed to start up without capital?   

       Besides, if this is the best time to live in the West, then why are donations to charities down?   

       Why are the poorer classes comparatively more generous with their money?   

       Why do we get cursed with the Paris Hiltons of the world?
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2011
  

       Ray, I am aware of only one meaningful example that favors the rich via the tax code -- and that's the carried interest provision which lets many money managers take "income" at a capital gains rate.   

       But it should be understood that the people that fall into this area pay MILLIONS in taxes -- and half of them just went broke this week.   

       Other major deductions, like the home interest deductions, are a major benefit to the middle class -- the AMT long ago eliminated their usefulness to the rich.   

       Sure lobbyists are creating various advantages for various companies, but rarely are those resulting in a net loss for the citizen, if ever. Take for instance the favorite example of GE paying no income tax in 2010. Besides the fact that they were writing off a perfectly legitimate loss from a previous year, this completely avoids the fact that GE paid over 6 billion dollars in FICA (Social Security and Medicare) contributions for their employees in 2010 -- and the 300,000 plus people that GE employes paid billions in taxes.   

       Our society has plenty of problems, and money can help solve some of them. And I am not at all opposed to tax reform. But taxing additional productive wealth higher is simply the dumbest possible way to do it.   

       [marked-for-deletion] widely known to exist, wibni, etc, ad nauseum
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       We'll just be sitting back and waiting for their generosity to increase, then. Not gonna happen. I'm so sick and tired of the 'well, just pull yourself up by your bootstraps' talk.   

       Yeah, they lost millions. They can sell the Bentley. I'm heartbroken.   

       Chances are for their untold millions, they were lucky enough to be born to parents that cared about their education, in a school district that bothered to teach, taught by teachers that didn't have to spend all day breaking up fights and dodging bullets. Or they didn't grow up tied to a farm. Many of them had connections to end up at places like Merryl Lynch or Goldman Sachs where they destroyed everything for fun and profit.   

       I don't know where the paradise is that you think is out there that has lower taxes than here and manages to do better, but chances are it doesn't exist.   

       The effective tax rate in the 50's was affected by major loopholes.   

       I second the [m-f-d].
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2011
  

       Here in Canada not too many years ago any income declared a Capital Gain was completely untaxable. Which means any money earned through investments, intellectual property, stocks, flipping properties = zero tax.   

       In such a scenario it is not hard for the rich to get richer but try getting your foot in the door without having a plug nickel to your name.
Not so easy then.
  

       Nowadays, Capital gains are taxed 50%. Still a major incentive to invest capital since you only get taxed half on the passive income but still coming up with the investment nest egg is easier said than done.   

       A flat tax seems to be the only level playing field but I find it hard to see the long term outcome of such a tax initiative.   

       The idea is borderline mfd, although it doesn't comfortably fit in any of the mfd categories (closest it comes to is advocacy).   

       This might be a good time to start another halfbakery offshoot. I know there have been several before that started and failed, but I have a hypothesis that it was largely due to the user-unfriendly format (Yahoo groups is just ugly).   

       In my opinion, a sub-reddit would be an ideal venue for a new HB offshoot since reddit resembles the minimalist aesthetic of HB.
xaviergisz, Aug 11 2011
  

       baked - fiefdoms: distributed, and the peasants' tax hidden in sales taxation, but still.   

       //reddit// nntp.
FlyingToaster, Aug 11 2011
  

       Ray, unless your idea is to grab the pitchforks and repossess, you cannot really go after wealth already assembled. So only productive output is taxed under any scheme that taxes more under any progressive bracket.   

       That's why if you'd stop and reread what I said, which is that you need is a VAT that would tax consumption, so those buying the jets spend more get taxed more, you'd understand that you can get after the same goal, but in a productive way that does not penalize productivity. Under these scheme, if additional money made is NOT spend, it balloons savings, which are then reinvested.   

       Rich people, overwhelmingly -- I think 80% -- are first generation.   

       AntiQuark -- your chart would assert it's better to live in the states comprising the old Soviet Union than in the States? rofl
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       [tc] I'm with you on this one - if you look at the arguments as presented, it's not "richness" that people get upset about, it's the perception of unfairness, and that perception is multiplied by what can sometimes appear to be ostentatious behaviour.   

       VAT alleviates the real problem (raising taxes to pay for public services) without robbing those people who have worked hard to get to where they are today through the power of the mob (a bit like what happened in the recent UK lootings, i.e. mass-redistribution of wealth, only this time sanctioned by government) - and with VAT, tax is directly linked to consumption. If you really want to get progressive, then have a progressive VAT system where items that the proletariat have deemed to be offensive (Champagne, Bling, Caviar, etc) are charged at a higher rate of VAT than beans, chips and sportswear. In fact, you might be able to identify a "Necessity Basket" of items that don't attract any VAT at all - you might even go a step further and use a little government investment to produce the items in the basket, providing jobs and a freely available range of goods and services upon which no VAT is charged.
zen_tom, Aug 11 2011
  

       It's probably also worth mentioning at this point, the other "rich" tax - inflation - that's being imposed on anyone with savings at the moment.   

       Every year the government remains in dept, and the inflation rate goes along at 5%, that's a 5% tax on everyone's savings, that is being used to reduce the (real) government (and in fact everyone else's) debt.   

       No, it's not *called* a tax, and nobody gets representation on how or whether it is applied - but it *is* a way that the government (or Central Bank) can help alleviate those from the burden of their savings, and (if they want to) distribute it to those who don't have any. Yes, you can run a budject defecit, and pay for it without raising taxes - using inflation.   

       While that sucks, it also means that the only way to stay rich is to keep "churning" your assets. So "The System" is quite capable of self-sustaining and ensuring that wealth continues to be redistributed without the additional cost of new taxes etc.
zen_tom, Aug 11 2011
  

       It's late and I've had a bit of wine, so - against my better judgment - I'm going to step into the thread.   

       I thought inflation was a tax on the poor rather than the rich. I'm guessing wage growth will typically lag inflation, thus 'wage slaves' will always be playing catch-up.   

       The rich don't typically have a large proportion of their wealth just sitting in bank accounts. Instead they have assets which rise in value in line with inflation.   

       edit: I also think the driver of the inflation might have some effect on the winners losers. If the cause of inflation is the reserve bank (the Fed) printing money, this is generally bad. However if very low unemployment is causing wage growth, then this will lead (rather than lag) inflation, so good for "wage slaves".
xaviergisz, Aug 11 2011
  

       Perhaps this could be best achieved without the need for governmental handling of funds by, I dunno, deleting from the statute book all laws of property except those relating to the holding of liquid currency and then letting human nature take its course.
calum, Aug 11 2011
  

       I'm not going to go defend communism or even the idea as written. I'm simply responding to what I've perceived as a hard shift to the right over the last decade in taxation policy.   

       [tc], Going after wealth already assembled to prevent the buildup of dynasties was the goal of the 'death tax,' if I recall.   

       I'm not familiar enough with the structure of the VAT to respond, but a progressive VAT seems sensible at first glance.   

       Obviously the rich pay the overwhelming portion of the taxes because they have an overwhelming portion of the money. But their portion of the taxes have been dropping while their portion of wealth has been rising. 'Shared sacrifice' is necessary due to shared resources, shared laws, shared structure, shared issues, and a shared future.   

       'Inheritance,' is not just about direct transfer of wealth, it also needs to be understood in terms of region, opportunity, and burden, which I think if you were to factor those numbers in, would skew your results.
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2011
  

       everyone in the US, including a goodly number of those that originated externally, has opportunity.   

       the main reason that the rich are getting richer is that for those who truly seek them, opportunities are expanding, you would only have to look at the startup culture for a myriad examples   

       People are starting new car companies and rocket companies, a giftless artist can become a sensation by using youtube. There has never ever been a time of more opportunity, Edison has nothing on us.
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       Largely bullshit. You're not close enough to the poverty line to even bother. There are a number of hardship-to-success stories, to be sure, but there are a much larger number of the opposite right now.   

       Tell me, please, whether my aunt should forgo her MS medicine or her grocery bill this month in order to save her home, which is an inch from being foreclosed on because some east coast f&cks in suits turned her bank into their personal ATM, after 15 years of solid payment history.
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2011
  

       not knowing your aunt s situation, I would safely say that most foreclosures are the result of people borrowing what they couldn't afford, and blaming others for that is intellectually dishonest.   

       I 'm certainly removed from poverty, but I certainly didn't start out that way. should the rich pay for the safety net? Sure, but they already do. Otherwise, one man one vote should mean we divide our budget needs evenly amongst our citizens
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       Actually the most common causes are job loss and health crisis combined with a lack of savings. Does the term 'jobless recovery' ring a bell?   

       Things have changed since you started, bud. Like I said, you're too far removed now from it to judge.   

       I'd love to get back to one man, one vote. But these days, money talks pretty loudly. See the Koch brothers.
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2011
  

       As it should. That's why they call it money.   

       How hypocritical, to hold it in contempt -- except for that little point about taking a bit extra whenever you run short, from those who make it.   

       The "let them eat cake" rich are impervious -- they are only hurt when EVERYONE is hurt-- as in 1917 -- and it's easier for them to move than anyone else, so even then, they have more options.   

       Short of that, bracket driven taxes on the "rich" simply hurt the most productive members of society, and limit growth.   

       From my perspective, I pay so much more, it's incredible chutzpah to talk about fairness. Can I be squeezed for more -- sure, to avoid pitchforks at the door. But don't call it fairness. And watch out for when I install those laser turrets and deploy the robot army around the perimeter.
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       The thing is, there's no evidence that high taxes limit growth. (see link.)
AntiQuark, Aug 11 2011
  

       AntiQuark, our corporate tax rate is 40%, and as mentioned earlier, GE paid 0 income taxes. Tax rates do not directly correlate to revenue for multiple reasons, including shelters.   

       The primary reason there's "no correlation" between those two is due to these factors:   

       1) A conterfactual. In other words, in the same way liberals believe that the stimulus "saved" jobs, in the same way lower tax rates during bad times make things less worse. This doesn't mean that if the taxes were higher, it would have been better. In other words, taxes are lower now, GDP shittier -- well duh.   

       2) Read up on the Laffer curve. At some point, obviously, there is a tradeoff. Any changes to the tax code should increase everyone's sense of fairness. In its absence, you get Atlas Shrugged.   

       So how do you make the tax code fair. As I've said, I would start at shared obligation.   

       With a 3T budget and corporations paying only about 10% of income taxes that would make each citizen of the United States responsible for about 10K in taxes, and an average family of 3 would typically owe 30K a year in taxes.   

       Difficult to afford, no doubt -- in the US, an average family (given per capita) -- but if we did this, the average family would be paying a 33% bracket.   

       So the first question is WTF, what's the problem?   

       Well, the problem is that half the country is not paying income tax. And that results in many, many people paying much more than 10K a person.   

       That results in a perceived feeling of unfairness, and is a major driver of conservative politics. After all, I don't get personal policemen, or armies, don't get a better education, or better medicine, etc, etc. I only pay more, because due to the dictatorship of the proletariat, you are able to extract it from me. And yet, despite that fact, it can never be enough -- as witnessed by this discussion. So no matter what the top marginal rate is, there is always someone with another idea of how to spend other people's money -- and people like Ray, and you, also think it's unfair -- but the other way.   

       So who is served well by this idea?   

       Instead, the system should be reformed such that you think it's fair, and I think it's fair, and no amount of progressivity can make it fair.   

       While the VAT is not perfect, it would be a much better approach than any progressive system. It would still tax the rich more -- but on what they spend, and not on what they earn. It will also encourage savings, across the spectrum, and these savings will get reinvested, in turn.
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       Median household income in the US is $44,000. So after 30K in taxes, the family would be left with 14k... that's $1200 dollars a month! You expect a family to live on that? Come on!
AntiQuark, Aug 11 2011
  

       troll bait.
WcW, Aug 11 2011
  

       I expect a family to live on what it makes. A family should live on what it makes. It has a right to the pursuit of happiness, not to live off what others make.   

       Since we all vote our representatives, we all have a say in what the budget is. If we think we can't afford our budget, we should vote for representative that would restrain it.   

       Otherwise, it is too easy for the majority to vote a budget that pus an unfair burden on those whose only crime is that they have the money.   

       But the beauty of such a budget arrangement is that it has mathematical fairness -- one citizen, one vote, one equal share of the budget.   

       If you could demonstrate to me how my citizenship gets me more in any way that I don't pay for, then we could discuss why I should pay more than 1 citizenship share per person.   

       So even a "FLAT" tax is patently unfair, since it forces those who make more to pay significantly more in real dollars. A graduated income tax is the single most unfair way of doing it -- and to top it off, bad economics.   

       A VAT is still unfair -- but at the very least it stimulates savings and does not disintivize productivity.
theircompetitor, Aug 11 2011
  

       // I expect a family to live on what it makes. A family should live on what it makes. It has a right to the pursuit of happiness, not to live off what others make. //   

       Exactly. Tell me exactly how CEO's and executive types are worth paying so much more today than they were 20 years ago? I contend they are living off of what their underlings make, frankly.   

       Money shouldn't speak. It should create no more influence in government than absolutely necessary to keep the wheels turning. No more.   

       //In what way is their strategy inaccessible to others?//   

       Because at the fringes of poverty, shit happens more often, and takes a larger toll.
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2011
  

       I would just like to add that I am all for taxing the hell out of millionaires--until I become one.
Alterother, Aug 12 2011
  

       [bigsleep] -- you are already paying a lot more than previous generations have paid -- since your benefits will be curtailed. You're the last unluckybrick in the Ponzi scheme.   

       [AntiQuark] -- when you go out to dinner, or for drinks, do you ask your friends to pay the check based on their income bracket, or do you split the bill? What's fair?   

       [Ray] -- Presume you are right, and we've shifted from some other, better equilibrium (A nostalgic premise that I don't accept). But even if that's true, It's inevitable, because money always does find a way.   

       So just as it is useless to legislate morality, it is useless to legislate against money influence. Legislation, including taxation legislation, should be like sailing -- done properly, you can even make progress against the wind. Done poorly, and you're pissing in the wind, and getting pretty pissed off, to boot.   

       Though I would love to go "dutch" on taxes, there's no scenario under which the rich do not pay more than the poor, and yet, so long as the problem is viewed through that prism, neither the rich nor anyone else is ever happy, and as stated earlier, the only logical conclusion at the end of that struggle is a much worse kind of inequality than anything we experience here.   

       The tax code should focus on funding the government efficiently, in a way that is perceived to be fair, and in a way that promotes wealth, rather than discouraging it.   

       That means simple rules that cannot be avoided regardless of how many accountants you use. No deductions that skew or subvert market forces. And progressivity that goes with, rather than against, human instincts.
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       Let me ask you this: consider Walmart's pricing strategy. Good thing? Providing low-cost and presumably therefore wider access to consumer goods which improve people's lives through their use and function? vs. bad thing: only 1% of Walmart employees have incomes 10% above poverty level, and their lack of health insurance adds a burden to the overall health system for which they are not assuming their fair share of responsibility. Add cutthroat competition factor in the retail 'race to the bottom,' the destruction of unique shopping experiences, what have you. In short, are we better or worse off with Wallyworld?   

       I contend that we are at least partly social creatures by nature although we do not acknowledge it much, and so progressivity does not necessarily go against our instincts.   

       Also, check the link I provided. I think you're suffering from some mythology, (half of Americans don't pay taxes, etc).
RayfordSteele, Aug 12 2011
  

       Federal income taxes, Ray. We are talking about addressing the Federal budget. And please -- do you think that the non-poor don't pay all those other taxes? Do you know what happens when you live in the tri-state area, and work in New York City? You pay multiple state taxes, a city tax, all with their own separate Alternative Minimum Tax rates so that no deduction can save you from a fairly high overall rate.   

       And anything the poor pay into social security and medicare is a fraction compared to what they will collect -- otherwise we wouldn't have the budget problem, would we.   

       I don't mind progressivity done well -- like the VAT. I don't really even object to means testing on retirement programs. It's progressivity on income that is both counterproductive and unfair.   

       Again, if you go out with your friends, do you split lunch based on what you make? Sure, occasionally you might treat someone -- but you would quickly loose freeloader friends -- and you'd be right.   

       As to Wallmart -- my hunch is it's a net gain to the economy, though I haven't studied it in detail.   

       But such nostalgic reaction, whether for the mom and pop stores, or for the cab drivers that will lose their jobs to Google's self driving cars, or the lawyers that will lose their jobs to LegalZoom, or radiologists to radiologists in India is counter productive.   

       It cannot NOT happen. It will continue to happen, as surely as water flows downhill.   

       We need a revolution, to be sure -- in education. And btw, despite concerted, persistent and pernicious opposition from the teachers union, that revolution is coming too, and is also non- stoppable.
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       // [AntiQuark] -- when you go out to dinner, or for drinks, do you ask your friends to pay the check based on their income bracket, or do you split the bill? What's fair? //   

       No, I sourly insist that everyone pays their share, even if I'm eating at a nice place with my 70 year old mother.   

       Here's a question back at you: have you ever insisted on picking up the entire tab? If yes, why? It's unfair to do it that way.
AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011
  

       To be sure, [AntiQuark]. But most times, it was because I was trying to get something in return :) The cliche is quite safe.   

       You may choose to do it, especially if you do better than your friends. But as your college buddy that lives with his mom and refuses to get a job gets accustomed to you picking it up, he gets to be quite annoying.   

       The point is, it's quite easy to see the fairness of splitting the bill evenly -- but for some reason people choose to not see taxes the same way. Somehow progressive is seen as fair -- and saying "things were pretty good even when the rate was 90%" -- read it -- NINETY PERCENT -- seems socially acceptable. With a 90% bracket, you are basically robbing people -- but because they got a nice label, it's ok, they're not like regular folks.   

       Imagine then, being in the minority (even with monetary influence) -- where you DON'T get to set what money is spent on -- and yet consistently asked to pay most of it. And be constantly scolded for resenting it. How dare he complain about picking up the bill for the champagne -- doesn't he buy champagne for himself all the time?   

       Please, want to make a difference -- make more money, and then pay more of it in taxes -- or donate it, either way. But no one -- no one -- owes you one dime more than the budget, divided by the number of citizens. Everything on top of that is at best charity, and at worst, highway robbery.
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       I'm beginning to agree with [WcW's] short comment.   

       If your wealth is such a crippling burden, why don't you just give the damn money away and ease the load.
AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011
  

       Hence my [MFD] some eons ago.   

       The crippling burden is having to have Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra conversations with those that look for every possible way to not do what they have to do themselves. The money is fine.
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       The walls fell a long time ago. On top of the middle class.
RayfordSteele, Aug 12 2011
  

       If I may rebut the [marked-for-deletion] tag, this idea is:   

       - Original, I've looked around and haven't seen anyone else proposing the idea.   

       - Not implemented anywhere. There are lots of taxes, but nothing is equivalent to the SMT. (There are similar ones, but not equivalent).   

       - Has benefits. The SMT makes it clear where tax dollars are going (explained above).   

       UPDATE: to rebut another comment, the SMT is not communism, becuase communism is effectively a 100% tax. SMT is more like 10%.   

       UPDATE2: this is not a WIBNI. Most people understand that tax revenue is necessary, this idea is a way to generate tax revenue in a way that's resistant to cutting.
AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011
  

       MFD baked; also known as communism and has always failed abismally.   

       Some people have a lot of money, some people don't. Might not be fair, but that's life. I don't understand the viewpoint that just because someone has or earns a lot of money (that they have more likely than not worked hard for), others are entitled to it however less fortunate they may happen to be.
acurafan07, Aug 12 2011
  

       I really don't know why the rich act like they do, weeping that they can't afford a personal jet, while the majority is barely getting by. I'm not saying they don't have the right to bitch, but they're alienating a lot of people when they do.   

       Sadly, in a democracy, if the vast majority decide that they despise the rich, then they will stick it to the rich. (See FDR link above). A few years after that speech, income tax was 90% for the wealthiest. Same thing could happen again.
AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011
  

       You are right, we should just say thank you, may we party a bit more.
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       Wisely, in a democracy, the people with large amounts of money are able to move it (and themselves if necessary) to places with lower taxes.   

       The other problem is that, if you're going to do this in a reasonable way and not stop at petty international boundaries, you realize that almost everyone in the developed world should be paying 90% taxes (and the richest people, 99.9% taxes).
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 12 2011
  

       Ha
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       // You are right //   

       Since you've had a change of heart, you should join the Patriotic Millionaires society then. (See link).
AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011
  

       [AntiQuark] are you OK with paying 90% taxes, while the wealthiest pay 99.9% taxes, and almost all of the tax revenue goes where it's seriously needed? Or does your charity more provincial?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 12 2011
  

       // are you OK with paying 90% taxes, while the wealthiest pay 99.9% //   

       The SMT is based on a moderate tax, like 10% or so. I doubt a 99.9% tax would work in practise. The UK tried an extremely high tax, and they had problems with people leaving the country to avoid paying.
AntiQuark, Aug 12 2011
  

       Max's point is once you count yourself with the Somalians, or even the Chinese, the average US citizen would be "rich".   

       And FDR is not going to happen again. A much smaller effort to increase medical coverage cost the left control of the House and will likely cost this President his presidency.   

       Any effort to meaningfully redistribute wealth in the States will be defeated. Even the Democrats understand that the base needs to be broadened, and rates lowered.   

       I think tax reform that generates meaningful additional revenue for the treasury is quite possible. But higher marginal rates would be very counterproductive, are impossible with the current Congress, and are quite likely to be impossible after the 2012 election
theircompetitor, Aug 12 2011
  

       //but of course they do, they are the ones doing the pulling.//   

       I hope you've deleted that off, because it came off very badly and struck me as pretty damn offensively belittling. Don't break your arm patting yourself on your back for pulling the rest of us lazy sobs upwards so hard and I'll try to forget it how much it discredited everyone's efforts and how much of a pompous ass it made you sound.   

       In the meantime, answer me this: I'm presuming you live in a decent neighborhood, probably having moved there for its beauty, upkeep, safety, property value. If the rise or fall of the rest of society plays so little effect on you so as to not warrant being considered an investment, then why didn't you buy three times the amount of property in a poor neighborhood when you could've? It's easy: your neighbor's success helps to sustain yours. Do you or do you not have a vested interest in the success or failure of your neighborhood? Your region? Your state?   

       As far as extending charity to the whole world, the economics of limited supply simply preclude that, as I'm certain you well know. Disperse 6 billion dollars to 6 billion people and the cost of everything will simply rise by a buck or so, solving nothing.
RayfordSteele, Aug 12 2011
  

       Everybody play nice...
Alterother, Aug 12 2011
  

       Ray, it all sounds so reasonable, but it ignores the fact that the code is massively progressive now. It is no more reasonable to ask those that can afford it to pay even more for taxes, than it is for them to pay more for a meal, or for a car, or for any good and service.   

       All along, I've said one thing -- use a VAT, which taxes consumption in a fair way -- and I have no issues with the progressivity that results out of natural human behavior.   

       But taxing ever higher income at ever higher income tax rate, so that people look for ways to avoid higher income, is counterproductive, and is certainly not fair.   

       The notion of "shared sacrifice" is debatable as well.   

       Given the trajectory of life expectancy, telling people in their forties that they have to retire at 67 instead of 65 is not sacrifice. Telling people that they have to contribute more to their retirement -- really, forced savings since they cannot be trusted to do it themselves -- is not sacrifice -- this is money that will be used to feed and shelter them.   

       Introducing the notion of cost into medicine is not sacrifice, it's common sense.   

       etc, etc.   

       I'm very interested in smart, non-reflexive , non class warfare solutions to structural unemployment. I've proposed in an idea on this site that we should let those that are long term unemployed in their late fifties to go on Social Security now, so that we can have more younger people entering the workforce.   

       I would love to see massive immigration INTO the country for those that are able to buy up the houses that are sitting there, waiting for population growth to catch up.   

       I'd love to see the same people that argue that we can deficit spend now, and cut later say that we could emit carbon now, and cut it later, and open up the energy infrastructure to make a meaningful impact on 0.75 Trillion dollars that we export every year.   

       I'd like to see the Teachers Unions stop fighting tooth and nail against any notion that can genuinely help disadvantaged children   

       I'd love to pay politicians a hell of a lot more. Does it make any sense that the CEO of the US gets paid a fraction of what the CEO of any bank would? Money corrupts? Surest way to encourage the best to service is to not only compete, but exceed pay so that they are financially independent. Want to do even better -- tie their pay, and their pensions, to the financial performance of the country for years to come -- like the claw backs now typical in CEO pay packages.   

       There are plenty of original ideas, on this site as well, that propose interesting and intelligent ways to improve government, and improve the lot of people.   

       This is not one of them.
theircompetitor, Aug 16 2011
  

       Buffet's net worth is 47 billion dollars... now why are conservatives saying he's a fool?   

       If income is proportional to intelligence, skill and shrewdness, then Buffet is one of the smartest guys in the world. A genius, in fact. Now why, suddenly, is his opinion irrelevant?   

       Here's a possibility... Buffet is right, conservatives are wrong.
AntiQuark, Aug 16 2011
  

       // It is no more reasonable to ask those that can afford it to pay even more for taxes, than it is for them to pay more for a meal //   

       How about food stamps, if you had your way, would you abolish food stamps?   

       You don't actually have to answer, I'm just trying to box you in :)
AntiQuark, Aug 16 2011
  

       AntiQuark, his opinion matters a hell of a lot. Arguably, despite Ray's attached concerns about money in politics, it is people like him, Gates, Soros that helped elect our current President. Buffet also supports the VAT, btw.   

       As to the social safety net, you are still missing the point. I'm not debating that people need help. I am simply saying that whatever obligations the government undertakes, via its representatives -- and such obligations should certainly include some measure of a safety net -- such obligations should be shared FAIRLY among all citizens.   

       Where we diverge is that I use the mathematical definition of fairness.   

       If we pay the same amount, per person -- unquestionably fair.   

       If we pay the same percentage of total income -- less fair, but tolerable   

       If we pay a graduated percentage of total income - - unfair, and results in people trying to circumvent making higher income. Unfair, and counterproductive, resulting in entire industries to shield income.   

       Whereas you think fairness means taking more from those that can afford it.   

       I call that a protection racket
theircompetitor, Aug 16 2011
  

       // safety net -- such obligations should be shared FAIRLY among all citizens. //   

       So the people receiving food stamps, should also help pay for them? Doesn't make much sense if you are familiar with the precepts of arithmetic.   

       // Where we diverge is that you think fairness means taking more from those that can afford it. //   

       Do you think fairness means taking from those who need it most?
AntiQuark, Aug 16 2011
  

       I really do think you're just being a troll here for laughs. Here's why:   

       Lets go back to your poll tax comments. Everyone in the country should be responsible for 10K in taxes, regardless of income.   

       So that means a family of 4 would have to pay 40K in taxes every year. So if the family had one breadwinner making $20 an hour, then 100% of income would have to go to taxes!   

       Think of it... the family would have to live in a cardboard box begging for food, while the father walked to his $20 an hour job every day, so he could pay 100% of it to the government.   

       A non-troll would understand that scenarios like that are pure nonsense.
AntiQuark, Aug 16 2011
  

       I have said N times in this thread I would support the VAT. But clearly an equal amount is fair, and it is obvious that if the amount of money assigned to each citizen is too high, you start by figuring out how to spend less. The poll number is useful in illustrating just how much more people with above average income already pay in taxes -- and yet, somehow people still think it's not enough. My assertion is there is NO such number - - no number that would satisfy those lower on the totem pole -- because this is based entirely on envy. People like Buffet are outside the conversation -- their primary goal is stability, and as Arrington's article points out, were he truly generous, he'd propose a wealth tax.   

       You should be horrified not by the fact that the average family can't afford the amount per citizen -- but by the fact that despite that, we continue to spend more and more. How can that possibly end well?   

       Wealth does not get created out of thin air. There's not an infinite supply of it that you could tap. Eliminating the upper class has been tried -- and will not eliminate poverty, only spread it.   

       To each according to his need? What does need it most mean? To the extent budget cutting affects things like food stamps -- it is only doing so because our representatives lack courage to cut what needs cutting.   

       This is a nonsense WIBNI idea (as communism was), which pretends at originality but contributes nothing to the debate. You'd be better of spending your energy on trying to make more money, so that you could, should you desire, send more of it in.
theircompetitor, Aug 16 2011
  

       // Eliminating the upper class //   

       10% tax on millionaires will not eliminate the upper class.   

       I would like to propose a law of logic here. I will call it AntiQuark's Law. It is this:   

       "All slippery-slope arguments are bullshit."   

       It seems to be a problem when arguing with conservatives. If you tell them, "lets increase this a bit" or "lets decrease that a bit", you always get the same predictable response: "YEAH BUT THEN YOU'LL INCREASE/DECREASE IT TO 100%/0% AND CHAOS WILL ENSUE!"   

       Even that Arrington article violates AntiQuark's Law, by blathering on about how Buffet should be taxed at 100%.
AntiQuark, Aug 16 2011
  

       As you point out, it's been at 90%. So clearly next year, after we've spend the SMT on the neediest - - which statistically have to exist in any breakdown of the population -- you'd be giving me the same exact argument.   

       We do need tax reform, but certainly not this.   

       I repeat the MFD, since this is clearly not a debate that will be resolved here -- and I'm off to widen the gap.
theircompetitor, Aug 16 2011
  

       Darn, I thought the idea was to tax them at 100%.
RayfordSteele, Aug 16 2011
  
      
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