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General => General Discussion => Politics => Topic started by: SmartyPants on September 19, 2011, 02:50:36 PM

Title: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 19, 2011, 02:50:36 PM
There is alot of rhetoric about certain Americans not paying their fair share.  How much of your paycheck should the government take for you to be considered paying your "fair share"?

Please don't tell me the Democrats' or the Republicans' view on the issue.  I rather hear your view on what is "fair".
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Ertxiem on September 19, 2011, 03:13:36 PM
It depends on what the government (local and national) is supposed to do.
I wouldn't mind paying over 50% taxes if the following were free (or at least cheap) and of high quality: health care, education, security (such as "enough" police departments and fire departments), transportation (fast public transportation, good infrastructures), culture (good public TV, radio, free or cheap entrances in museums, theatres), cheap food (or cheap quality food, in the nutritional sense), environment friendly policies, human rights being followed... For that I wouldn't mind paying 90% taxes.
Yeah, I know, I got a bit carried away for an utopia.

My point is: if you don't define what we would get, I can't determine how much I would be willing to pay. ;)
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Deagonx on September 19, 2011, 03:56:42 PM
There is alot of rhetoric about certain Americans not paying their fair share.  How much of your paycheck should the government take for you to be considered paying your "fair share"?

Please don't tell me the Democrats' or the Republicans' view on the issue.  I rather hear your view on what is "fair".

I'd like to participate in this discussion. But I hold no Job, have never held a job, and do not know what it feels like to have x percent of my paycheck taken.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Steelfist on September 20, 2011, 09:21:23 AM
Ditto, but nonetheless, I would say that taxation wouldn't be such a drag if the payers didn't feel like they were simply throwing their money into a bottomless pit. Which, now I come to think about it, they basically are.

Nevertheless, I think if people could see and feel an effect people would be more willing to pay higher amounts. I suppose this is in a similar vein to Ert's point - if we got more (Or felt like we got more) out of paying taxes, people would be willing to pay higher amounts.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on September 20, 2011, 03:24:24 PM
Fair share? That's a strange concept. If the definition, "An amount proportionate to the returns one recieves from the system," which I believe would be a good one, is chosen, then it would make sense to calculate the approximate value of the services rendered by the government, plus or minus a coefficient determined by economic prosperity (and thus, ability to provide for the government services rendered those who cannot afford them, such as in the case of welfare and related programs).
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 20, 2011, 05:11:25 PM
I wouldn't mind paying over 50% taxes if the following were free (or at least cheap) and of high quality: health care, education, security (such as "enough" police departments and fire departments), transportation (fast public transportation, good infrastructures), culture (good public TV, radio, free or cheap entrances in museums, theatres), cheap food (or cheap quality food, in the nutritional sense), environment friendly policies, human rights being followed... For that I wouldn't mind paying 90% taxes.
You know they have those type of socialist welfare states in Scandinavia and Demark?  The government takes about 50% of your income and then uses taxpayer money to give everyone free services and to redistribute the wealth.  Since the government controls much of the market, everything becomes inefficient and costly.  That means everyone has less money to spend, while the price of each good costs more.  The idea of living in this type of country is literally nauseating to me.  It is disheartening to imagine that the money I work hard to earn will be taken away and given to someone else.  I also have a hard time visualizing being forced to rely on the government to that extent.  In Texas, we learn that it is better to struggle then to ask for handouts.  Many Texans like my mother took jobs with less pay after the recession, because Texans rather be underemployed then be lazy bums who lives off of endless unemployment checks from the government.  Maybe Texans are weird for their sense of independence and pride?

Nevertheless, I think if people could see and feel an effect people would be more willing to pay higher amounts. I suppose this is in a similar vein to Ert's point - if we got more (Or felt like we got more) out of paying taxes, people would be willing to pay higher amounts.
That is why I would rather choose which charities get money from me instead of politicians and bureaucrats taking my money and deciding how to use it.  After Hurricane Rita, the government program FEMA wasn't much help to my neighbors and I, so charities such as the Red Cross stepped up to help bring us what we needed.  Money that could have been donated to the Red Cross was taken away by taxes to be given to incompetent government programs such as FEMA.  Since people can spend their money more wisely then the government, Americans get large tax deductions for charitable contributions (Those tax reductions will be gone if the American Jobs Act passes (http://sinisterdesign.net/forum/index.php?topic=990.msg39525#msg39525)). Due to the success of Texas food banks, many Texans don't have to rely on government food stamps.

I'd like to participate in this discussion. But I hold no Job, have never held a job, and do not know what it feels like to have x percent of my paycheck taken.
Since you pay $0 in federal income taxes, then answer me this.  Does it sound reasonable for people who lose 0% to 15% of their income to federal income taxes to say that the people who lose 28% to 35% of their income aren't paying their fair share?

Fair share? That's a strange concept. If the definition, "An amount proportionate to the returns one recieves from the system," which I believe would be a good one, is chosen, then it would make sense to calculate the approximate value of the services rendered by the government, plus or minus a coefficient determined by economic prosperity (and thus, ability to provide for the government services rendered those who cannot afford them, such as in the case of welfare and related programs).
You must have a conservative view of taxes if you think "fair share" is "an amount proportionate to the returns one recieves from the system".   The top 10% of earners pay over 70% of the federal income taxes, while the bottom 50% payes 3% of the income taxes.  Unless the top 10% are receiving over 70% of the benifits of government, by your definition the top 10% are paying more then their "fair share".
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on September 21, 2011, 05:55:43 PM
Fun fact: Denmark has a higher average life expectancy than the United States. So do Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands. ((Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html)))  The CIA World Factbook notes: "Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarizes the mortality at all ages. It can also be thought of as indicating the potential return on investment in human capital and is necessary for the calculation of various actuarial measures."

On pure economic grounds, if you look at per capita GDP, Norway and Denmark actually beat the U.S. handily, with the Netherlands beating us more narrowly and Finland essentially tying us. ((Source: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/socind/inc-eco.htm#tech (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/socind/inc-eco.htm#tech)))

These countries are clearly doing just fine, high tax rates and all.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on September 21, 2011, 08:00:52 PM
I'm going to apologize for this in advance. Sorry.

That's just one more reason that I love Denmark. I have a half-Danish friend, Danish food tastes good, Denmark is ranked by some as both the happiest and least corrupt country in the world, they don't have nearly as much of an obesity problem (you just try to get very fat when your body's working overtime, trying to maintain homeostasis), and it's such an awesome country that I decided to learn the language. Denmark rant over.

Aside from that, I wish to insist that the first definition is merely a broad generalization. I did mention that those who are unable to pay their "fair share" can be relieved of some of their financial burden by those who are priveleged, but not, perhaps, to the extent that they are today.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 21, 2011, 09:17:16 PM
Fun fact: Denmark has a higher average life expectancy than the United States. So do Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands.
A) That seems irreverent to this topic
B) Due to America's obesity problem, alot of developed countries have higher life expectancies.

On pure economic grounds, if you look at per capita GDP, Norway and Denmark actually beat the U.S. handily, with the Netherlands beating us more narrowly and Finland essentially tying us.
Those countries' GDP grows at a slower rate then most capitalist countries (US for example).  The Nordic countries are trying to privatize some of thier industries, because they realize it is doomed to fail in the near future.  Norway has went through massive growth in the last few years due to a massive increases in inflation.  Inflation helps a economy expand in the short term, but will become devastating in the long term (It is for this reasoning that Obama is printing a large amount of currency).   Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway have been funding their welfare states by selling their diminishing supply of oil.  When their oil wealth runs out, the Nordic countries are going to become underfunded socialist states like Greece and Venezuela.

I have three friends (two of them are twins) from Denmark who's parents left because they couldn't make much money there.  They all perfered America over Denmark to the point where they rather pay for college here, then go to college for free in Denmark.

Aside from that, I wish to insist that the first definition is merely a broad generalization. I did mention that those who are unable to pay their "fair share" can be relieved of some of their financial burden by those who are priveleged, but not, perhaps, to the extent that they are today.
Are you saying that the "priveleged" hold too much of the tax burden, that the poor rely too much on other people's tax dollars, or something completely different?


If you want to tax the rich more, then give a legitimate reason why.  Maybe you believe that taking away the wealthy's money will have little impact on them because they will still have plenty of money left over.  Maybe you belong to the lower-to-middle class and you want more government spending, yet you personally don't want to be taxed more, so you want the rich to pay more instead.   Even if I don't agree with the legitimate reasons, I could still understand why you believe them.  What I don't understand is all this "fair share" crap.  The country's top earners pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.  To demonize a group of Americans by falsely claiming that they don't pay their "fair share" seems immoral.  I personally prefer a progressive tax, but I believe that if you want to increase taxes, then you should increase it at all tax brackets (Like allowing the Bush Tax Cuts expire for everyone).  If you are going to ask someone else to pay more taxes, then you should pay your "fair share" too.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on September 23, 2011, 05:27:39 PM
Smarty, you're the one who brought up European countries with high tax rates, claiming that they're miserable places to live because of it. The fact that people in those countries actually live longer and have higher income per person than we do suggests that they have a superior quality of life there. Also, it seems that they're quite highly regarded (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/13/business/worldbusiness/13iht-compete.html) as places to do business:

Quote
"It's that old myth that social protection requires more business regulations and hurts business," said Caralee McLeish, a co-author of the World Bank survey. "In fact, we found that social protection is good for business, it takes the burden off of businesses for health care costs and ensures a well-trained and educated work force."

The World Economic Forum came up with the same answer, although it was couched in economic terms.

"The Nordic countries are characterized by excellent macroeconomic management over all," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of the global competitiveness program of the World Economic Forum. "They are all running budget surpluses, they have extremely low levels of corruption, with their firms operating in a legal environment in which there is widespread respect for contracts and the rule of law, and their private sectors are on the forefront of technological innovation."

You can surely make an argument about the benefits of lower taxes that doesn't require you to pointlessly demonize perfectly nice countries with a superior economic track record. That's all I'm saying.

As for reasons to raise taxes on the rich, there is one tax in particular that almost inarguably needs to be raised, in my view: the capital gains tax. The wealthiest Americans make millions through gambling on the stock market, and pay a flat 15% tax on it. It's absurd that someone can make so much from gambling and pay so little in taxes when people with real jobs who do real work have to pay so much more by comparison. (And that, incidentally, is what Warren Buffett was talking about in his opinion piece (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html), "Stop Coddling the Super-rich.")
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 23, 2011, 09:36:29 PM
As for reasons to raise taxes on the rich, there is one tax in particular that almost inarguably needs to be raised, in my view: the capital gains tax. The wealthiest Americans make millions through gambling on the stock market, and pay a flat 15% tax on it. It's absurd that someone can make so much from gambling and pay so little in taxes when people with real jobs who do real work have to pay so much more by comparison. (And that, incidentally, is what Warren Buffett was talking about in his opinion piece, "Stop Coddling the Super-rich.")
Raising the capital gains tax is a seriously stupid idea.  Obama doesn't even directly say he wants to raise the capital gains because it is such a bad idea.  First, a company gets income that is taxed at about 35% and then the companies pay their stockholders dividends which is taxed at 15%.  That means that the money is taxed at 50% which some people apparently don't think is high enough.  Like Craig said, people are "gambling on the stock market".  Investing or "gambling" in the stock market is inherently risky, so to encourage investment and lower risk of loss, the capital gains tax rate is low.  America has some of the biggest, most successful companies in the world partly due to easiness to get investments due to the profitability of stock.  If you increae the capital gains tax, then there will be a drastic drop in the value of stock, because each stock earns less income without lowering the risk losing money on your investment.  When I say the value will drop drasticly, I don't mean it will cause another recession.  Increasing the capital gains will cause a depression.  Also, Warren Buffett is full of shit.  He claims that his secretary pays at a higher tax rate then he does, but an administrative assistant's tax bracket can't be higher then 15%.  Buffet also claims he pays 17% tax rate which according to my math is higher then 15%.  Plus, if he thinks he needs to pay more taxes then he can easily write a check to the government.  Warren Buffet is just trying to get close to the White House so get insider knowledge to invest more wisely.

You can surely make an argument about the benefits of lower taxes that doesn't require you to pointlessly demonize perfectly nice countries with a superior economic track record. That's all I'm saying.
I did make an argument besides pointing out the nordic countries' economic shortfalls, but you ignored those parts so you can focus on promoting Scandinavia.  Superior economic track record is a stretch.  The same people who thought the 90s was greatest economic boom in American history are now reallizing that much of the increase in GDP was artificially created by financial and housing bubbles.  Many of those countries artificially increased their economy which we all know has disastrous impacts.  It is reasonable to say Nordic countries face issues such as high inflaction, dependence on a declining amount of oil exports, and some of the highest cost-of-living rates in the world.  Luckly the Nordic countries have small populations, little immigration, low birth rates, high-skilled workforce, and lots of resources, because the system would have failed a long time if they didn't.  The United Kingdom tried to imitate the nordic model, but trying to fund a welfare state for a large, growing population ruined the UK economy.  (It is for similar reasons why experts say Romenycare will work for a wealthy state with a high-skilled workforce such as Massachusetts, while a nationwide program such as Obamacare won't work because the United States as a whole has a more diverse, growing population.)
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on September 24, 2011, 07:05:56 AM
An administrative assistant could very easily end up paying more than 15% in income taxes: currently, any income above $34,900 gets taxed at a rate of 25% or higher. As such, if you earn a normal middle class wage, you are practically guaranteed to pay more in income taxes than Warren Buffett and other professional investors do.

I sincerely, sincerely doubt that raising capital gains taxes to a rate like that paid on normal income will result in a depression. Depressions are based on a positive feedback loop caused by lack of demand. Fewer than one in 10 Americans filing for taxes reports having any capital gains at all; and even then, the vast majority of all stocks are owned by investment institutions and wealthy professional investors that either do not have discretionary income to speak of (investment institutions) or have so much discretionary income that there is no sense in worrying about a reduction in it (professional investors). I can think of nor scenario in which raising capital gains rates is realistically likely to spark a depression.

The worst thing that could happen is that it would hurt middle class families that have been suckered into throwing their money at a giant roulette wheel in the hope of beating inflation. But even there, there is no reason why we couldn't implement a progressive tax structure on capital gains similar to that on normal earned income, which would largely avoid any negative effects on those people (and, in many cases, would actually afford them a better tax rate).
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Ertxiem on September 24, 2011, 09:13:32 AM
To start with, anyone "gambling" in the stock market or in the commodities market will have a low chance of getting a nice profit out of it if his/her knowledge on the market is not high. This means that the experts are more likely to win more money than the non experts. In my view, it's like many people playing poker. The best players are likely to win more than the others. Or, quoting a phrase I saw somewhere: "lottery is a tax for the people that are bad at maths".

Furthermore, these gambling cause artificial fluctuations of the prices, like the financial, dot net and housing bubbles, oil price and cereals. I say artificial because these fluctuations aren't driven by offer and demand but by speculation instead. And, the thing most people seem to forget, is that: if you're not producing anything and you are winning money, then somebody else is (or will be) loosing it (just like lottery).

The income we have is dependent of our skills and of the skills of the people we work with in the broader sense (if I'm more productive because I use a PC, then my income is also dependent of the people who made/ transported/ sold/ are maintaining the PC). However, not always is my productivity reflected on the income of the people I work with, again in the broader sense.
(Sometimes it appears to be the other way around: if the PCs last less time, then all those people are more likely to keep their jobs, at least apparently.)

Another thing to take in consideration is: how much does it benefits me the taxes I'm paying. Let's take an example of an employer. The taxes he pays will have a direct impact on the health care he may need, the education of his children, infrastructure he may need. But it will also have an impact on his employees. And healthy employees with better education will be more productive, hence, the employer will also benefit indirectly from the taxes he's paying.

So, in my opinion, all individual income should be taxed the same way. Evidently, all changes to taxation should be smooth to give time to the market to adapt.

I haven't thought about how much should the firms be taxed, but that's a different question from the 1st post.

Regarding the Scandinavian countries, I would prefer that my country would be more like those (except in the climate) than most European countries and the USA.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 24, 2011, 11:38:27 AM
Furthermore, these gambling cause artificial fluctuations of the prices, like the financial, dot net and housing bubbles, oil price and cereals. I say artificial because these fluctuations aren't driven by offer and demand but by speculation instead. And, the thing most people seem to forget, is that: if you're not producing anything and you are winning money, then somebody else is (or will be) loosing it (just like lottery).
You are now talking about hedge funds which is a little different then the stock market.  Unlike increasing the capital gains tax, increasing taxes on hedge fund managers has little economic inpact.  It would only increase a little more revenue, slightly stabilize the commonities market, and reduce campaign contributions to both parties.

Another thing to take in consideration is: how much does it benefits me the taxes I'm paying. Let's take an example of an employer. The taxes he pays will have a direct impact on the health care he may need, the education of his children, infrastructure he may need. But it will also have an impact on his employees. And healthy employees with better education will be more productive, hence, the employer will also benefit indirectly from the taxes he's paying.
A) Shouldn't the employer decide himself, if he wants to help to help pay for his employees' health insurance?
B) Education is best left to state and local governments because they are better intuned to their own children.
C) The federal government neglects infrastucture spending because most of the money goes towards entitlement programs and defense.

So, in my opinion, all individual income should be taxed the same way. Evidently, all changes to taxation should be smooth to give time to the market to adapt.
So you believe in a flat tax?

Regarding the Scandinavian countries, I would prefer that my country would be more like those (except in the climate) than most European countries and the USA.
Again, it doomed to fail like the Soviet Union and Greece and welfare states only function for small populations.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Ertxiem on September 24, 2011, 05:58:25 PM
[...]
Another thing to take in consideration is: how much does it benefits me the taxes I'm paying. Let's take an example of an employer. The taxes he pays will have a direct impact on the health care he may need, the education of his children, infrastructure he may need. But it will also have an impact on his employees. And healthy employees with better education will be more productive, hence, the employer will also benefit indirectly from the taxes he's paying.
A) Shouldn't the employer decide himself, if he wants to help to help pay for his employees' high insurance?
B) Education is best left to state and local governments because they are better intuned to their own children.
C) The federal government neglects infrastucture spending because most of the money goes towards entitlement programs and defense.
A) No. I would tend to agree a bit more if the employer together with the employees chose the benefits. However, in my example I was thinking of a larger time window. The children's education that we're paying for now will be the future workforce. And, perhaps, there will be some jobs in 20 years time that nowadays don't exist. I doubt that most employers and employees would care to pay for that education today.
B) I don't have enough information on how the tax money (and I'm speaking about all taxes) is distributed between the central and the local government in the USA. I suspect that it might be like in my country: most of it stays in the central government. Nevertheless, it seems that we agree that public education is important.
C) Again, my country is different from the USA because we spend less in defence, but both the central and the local government are known for wasting money. The thing is: we don't really have an option regarding who will build infrastructure.

So, in my opinion, all individual income should be taxed the same way. Evidently, all changes to taxation should be smooth to give time to the market to adapt.
So you believe in a flat tax?
Sort of. I would prefer simple function like this linear function:
Tax = t * (Income - I0)
The Tax (in $) would be computed as the fraction t (a fixed number between 0% and 100%, say 35%) of the Income (in $) above a minimum value I0 (in $). Evidently, incomes lower than I0 wouldn't pay taxes.

Regarding the Scandinavian countries, I would prefer that my country would be more like those (except in the climate) than most European countries and the USA.
Again, it doomed to fail like the Soviet Union and Greece and welfare states only function for small populations.
I don't really think that any country is perfect in that sense. And I find that extremes usually are not the best choices. In many things, the USA and the former USSR were opposites. One of the reasons for the collapse of the USSR was that there is no real incentive to be more productive if you get the same. Other reasons were also important like being an oppressive dictatorship where corruption existed and a little fraction of the population lived significantly better than the rest (not exactly the Greek scenario). However, in terms of welfare, the USA are far from being perfect in my view. There is poverty, the access to good health care is difficult (expensive), the public education isn't of the highest quality. Take the PISA 2009 profiles by country/economy (http://stats.oecd.org/PISA2009Profiles/#app=85dc&d016-selectedIndex=0&73e3-selectedIndex=0&c05d-selectedIndex=0&d39a-selectedIndex=0&5854-selectedIndex=0&a56e-selectedIndex=0&67df-selectedIndex=0&ae18-selectedIndex=0&224e-selectedIndex=0&b2cd-selectedIndex=0&5869-selectedIndex=0). Go to mean and distribution of students -> reading (USA=500), mathematics (USA=487) or science (USA=502) -> histogram. The USA are generally in the middle of the other OECD countries.
Scandinavian countries do better with their welfare states than other countries because, in my opinion, their education level is higher and people are better informed when they choose their government. Furthermore, they work more for the community than in other countries because they see the revenue of doing so. Therefore, I don't really think that they're doomed.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 25, 2011, 01:53:53 PM
A) Shouldn't the employer decide himself, if he wants to help to help pay for his employees' health insurance?
A) No. I would tend to agree a bit more if the employer together with the employees chose the benefits. However, in my example I was thinking of a larger time window. The children's education that we're paying for now will be the future workforce. And, perhaps, there will be some jobs in 20 years time that nowadays don't exist. I doubt that most employers and employees would care to pay for that education today.
What the hell are you talking about?  You say an employer would have a better workforce if his employees have better health insurance.  So I point out that employers will provide health insurrance themselves if it benefits them to have healthy employees.  I don't understand why you are randomly ranting about education.  I personally believe in public education because free education is the only way to have equal opportunity.

B) Education is best left to state and local governments because they are better intuned to their own children.
B) I don't have enough information on how the tax money (and I'm speaking about all taxes) is distributed between the central and the local government in the USA. I suspect that it might be like in my country: most of it stays in the central government. Nevertheless, it seems that we agree that public education is important.
The federal government taxes everyone nationwide which leaves less money for states to collect.  The US constitution says that education is left to the states, so the federal government can't make laws regulating education.  To get around this, the federal government takes more money from its citizens and then blackmails the states into enforcing federal policy.  For example, lets say that a federal policy requires the states to have a standardized test.  If the states refuse to have a standardized test, the federal government will withhold giving money to the state.  That means that the government may tax 20% of the states income, and then refuse to return any of that money to those states.  Since the US is massive and diverse, a solution that works in one state may not work in another, so the federal one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work.  The federal government should lower taxes and education spending, so the states can tax more and spend more wisely.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on September 25, 2011, 02:14:42 PM
"Blackmail" is not the appropriate term,
"What the hell are you talking about?" is unnecessary, and
the United States government does not "get around" the Constitution; it merely indirectly ensures that the states perform certain tasks which are believed to be condusive to education.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Ertxiem on September 25, 2011, 04:00:42 PM
A) I'm saying that when we think about taxes, we must look at a larger time window than the current instant. From what I understood, you defend that an employer should only spend money (including what could be taxes) on things that give him profit, possibly in the near future. However, my view of taxes is more broad both in time and in space (people).

B) In my view, even in a school with 100 children, these children will have different interests and needs. So, I also think that one-size-fits-all approach may not work even at the school level. Nevertheless, I think that decentralizing is a good think. But I also think that it's up to the central government to create standards that must be followed, otherwise, there may be the temptation to make things easier for popularity reasons.

Like Duckling, I tend to think that sometimes your language, Smarty, is a bit exaggerated. I'm not offended by it, I'm just commenting.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 28, 2011, 07:31:55 PM
"Blackmail" is not the appropriate term.
You're right.  "Coercion" is a more accurate word.

The United States government does not "get around" the Constitution; it merely indirectly ensures that the states perform certain tasks which are believed to be condusive to education.
No where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government have anything to do with education.  According to the Tenth Amendment, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."  Since the Constitution says Congress doesn't have the power to regulate education, Washington increase taxes and then coerce states into following the federal govenment's one-size-fits-all policy by threating to take away money that States needed to fund their schools.  If that isn't a way to "get around" the Constitution, then I don't know what is.

A) I'm saying that when we think about taxes, we must look at a larger time window than the current instant. From what I understood, you defend that an employer should only spend money (including what could be taxes) on things that give him profit, possibly in the near future. However, my view of taxes is more broad both in time and in space (people).
I understand that government and tax dollars are needed to do things that the free market doesn't address such as infrastructure, security, and regulation, but why should the government get involved in things that individuals and organizations can do themselves.

But I also think that it's up to the central government to create standards that must be followed, otherwise, there may be the temptation to make things easier for popularity reasons.
If anything, the bigger the system, the more they dumb things down.  Texas is the second most populated state in the US.  The entire state uses the same standarized test.  They design the test so that anyone is able to pass it with enough hard work, so they lower the standards of the high-performing schools to the same level as low-performing schools.  Maybe my local school district should of be able to give higher standards then the school full of students who aren't fluent in English.  Now imagine if everyone is given the same standards as the dumbest schools in the country.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on September 29, 2011, 07:43:12 PM
the Constitution says Congress doesn't have the power to regulate education

I studied Constitutional law pretty extensively back in law school, and I definitely don't remember seeing any language like that in there. Could you please cite the clause you're referring to?
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 29, 2011, 09:37:24 PM
No where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government have anything to do with education.
I studied Constitutional law pretty extensively back in law school, and I definitely don't remember seeing any language like that in there. Could you please cite the clause you're referring to?
Since you are the expert on Constitutional law, you know that the "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."  Since there isn't any clause which gives the federal government authority over education, education is "reserved to the States".
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on September 30, 2011, 05:44:17 AM
Right--there isn't actually any language saying that Congress cannot offer financial incentives to the states to undertake certain actions with regard to education. Even the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court do not think that this runs afoul of the 10th Amendment. For examples of legislation that does, see New York v. United States (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-543.ZS.html) and Printz v. United States (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/95-1478.ZS.html).
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on September 30, 2011, 10:55:11 AM
Craig, you got to read everything so you don't take something out of context:
The US constitution says that education is left to the states, so the federal government can't make laws regulating education.  To get around this, the federal government takes more money from its citizens and then coerces the states into enforcing federal policy. Since the US is massive and diverse, a solution that works in one state may not work in another, so the federal one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work.  The federal government should lower taxes and education spending, so the states can tax more and spend more wisely.
I was trying to explain to Duckling that the federal government doesn't have the power to regulate education, so they use federal grants to "get around" the Constitution and to unofficially regulate education.  I never said it was unconstitutional to use federal grants to pressure states into enforcing policies that the federal government doesn't have the power to regulate.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on September 30, 2011, 07:24:42 PM
Sorry, Mr. Stern. That was my fault. I left the conversation at a point where someone attempting to reply to SmartyPants might lack the full context of his argument without extensive backreading.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 03, 2011, 07:07:59 PM
Does it sound reasonable for people who lose 0% to 15% of their income to federal income taxes to say that the people who lose 28% to 35% of their income aren't paying their fair share?
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on October 03, 2011, 08:06:43 PM
It depends on what each is getting in return for those percentages of their income.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 04, 2011, 08:32:17 PM
It depends on what each is getting in return for those percentages of their income.
Do you think the bottom 50% of Americans who don't pay any federal income taxes get more from the government then they pay into it?  Is it right for them to say that the rich aren't paying their fair share?

Fun fact: The wealthy paid a greater percentage of the total federal income taxes under Bush then Clinton.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on October 05, 2011, 01:52:36 PM
For what it's worth, it looks like Reagan was on the Democrats' side on this one:

http://thinkprogress.org/progress-report/the-reagan-speech-todays-gop-doesnt-want-you-to-see/
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 05, 2011, 09:08:16 PM
For what it's worth, it looks like Reagan was on the Democrats' side on this one:
http://thinkprogress.org/progress-report/the-reagan-speech-todays-gop-doesnt-want-you-to-see/
Excuse me for not taking your link to a bias website seriously. 

Your link is taking things out of context.  Reagan’s supply-side economics and Obama’s Keynesian economics don‘t share similar beliefs on taxes.  When Obama is talking about closing “loopholes”, he is talking about taxing the rich more for capital gains (despite the detrimental harm it would do to the stock market).  When Reagan is talking about closing “loopholes”, he is talking about removing unreasonable tax breaks and tax shelters.  Obama wants to “spread the wealth around”, while Reagan broadened the tax base, decreased capital gains, decreased overall taxes, and improved the economy.
Current Republicans want tax reform (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/65167.html) where they can close tax loopholes that people abuse, while Democrats mostly want to raise the taxes on high income earners so they can spend more.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on October 06, 2011, 06:30:20 AM
Are you saying that that footage of Reagan is fraudulent? Clearly he was in favor of closing that particular tax loophole, whatever his broader philosophies were.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 06, 2011, 01:23:23 PM
Are you saying that that footage of Reagan is fraudulent? Clearly he was in favor of closing that particular tax loophole, whatever his broader philosophies were.
I said that your link "taking things out of context".  What Reagan considers a loophole is different from what Obama considers a loophole.  Obama misuses the term "loophole" to describe how wealthy people uses captial gains to have a lower tax rate then they normally would.  Obama prefers to use the "loopholes" rhetoric instead of explainig how he wants to increase the capital gains tax (which will cause detrimental harm to the stock market).  When Reagan was talking about eliminating "lookholes", he was talking about getting rid of tax break abuses and tax shelters.  Even if thier rhetoric is the same, the policies and laws that back up their rhetoric is opposite.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on October 06, 2011, 04:19:51 PM
Okay, you keep saying "detrimental harm," but that's superfluously redundant.

Either say, "detriment," or "harm," but all harm is detrimental.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 06, 2011, 07:22:59 PM
Instead of pretending to be the grammar guru, you should answer the question you have been avoiding:
It depends on what each is getting in return for those percentages of their income.
Do you think the bottom 50% of Americans who don't pay any federal income taxes get more from the government then they pay into it?  Is it right for them to say that the rich aren't paying their fair share?
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on October 09, 2011, 02:02:04 PM
First of all, my above objection was not one of grammar, but of usage of words.

Second, I have already stated that those who are unable to pay for the basic services the government must provide ought have their costs paid for them by those who are able to, while they have the duty to, as best they can, find a job with a high enough income where they can.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Rob on October 11, 2011, 11:11:20 PM
Two questions:
If it is fair to redistribute money people earned, is it fair to redistribute grades people earned?
What if the people the government is helping aren't looking for a job?
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on October 12, 2011, 09:33:19 AM
If it is fair to redistribute money people earned, is it fair to redistribute grades people earned?

These are separate issues. Unlike money, grades are not liquid. You cannot inherit grades from your parents or win grades in the lottery. You can't start a pyramid scheme or create fraudulent securities and steal peoples' grades. You can't invest grades or buy things with grades.

They also serve different purposes. A grade is intended to serve as a mark of merit. Money is not (as you can no doubt discern based on the fact that you can inherit it, spend it, steal it, and otherwise transfer it among different people).

Further, unlike grades, money is essential to survival. People need money to pay for shelter, to buy food, to pay health expenses, and to arrange for transportation. You will not get sick or die from lack of grades; but you suffer very real risks to your survival if you have no money.

Based on the above, we can see that it would undermine the whole purpose of grades if you could somehow redistribute them, but the same cannot be said for money. Further, the consequences of not redistributing money can be quite dire. So, to answer your question: no.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 13, 2011, 01:53:42 PM
Second, I have already stated that those who are unable to pay for the basic services the government must provide ought have their costs paid for them by those who are able to, while they have the duty to, as best they can, find a job with a high enough income where they can.
Plenty of people who don't pay taxes, can provide themselves with basic services and still have enough money to pay thier share to the government.  Do you think it is right that those people claim the rich aren't paying thier fair share?

They also serve different purposes. A grade is intended to serve as a mark of merit. Money is not.
I disagree with that statement, because I believe money should be earned by merit.  The hardest working and most talented are usually the highest earners.  The old American dream was to gain alot of money through accomplishments, while the new American dream seems to be to get money through entitlement.

Based on the above, we can see that it would undermine the whole purpose of grades if you could somehow redistribute them, but the same cannot be said for money. Further, the consequences of not redistributing money can be quite dire. So, to answer your question: no.
If the people who work hard for good grades get the same grades as people who don't work hard for their grades, then you demotivate the hard workers and therefore reduce the average grades.  It works the same way for money.  When you redistribute money, it makes people less willing to work harder.

Lets take my dermatologist neighbor as an example.  After the Bush tax cuts, he increased his weekly office hours by 8 hours.  Before the tax cut, he didn't find the extra work worth the small amount of money that the government let him keep.  He was willing to work harder and longer when he was allowed to keep more of his money.
On the other hand is octomom.  She doesn't see the need to work, because welfare will give her more money, then she would earn working.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: Rob on October 13, 2011, 05:16:14 PM
I am very well aware that money is inheritable and can be transfered from one deserving person to another not so deserving person. However, transfered money will run out if one doesn't work to keep it or maintain it. Furthermore, inherited money is only inherited once, so it isn't taxed as an income tax with every paycheck. The rich people who are being taxed every paycheck are those with a high income who worked to earn their money. Money is typically shows that someone did some kind of work and was confenstated for it.
You argue that redistributing grades would undermine the purpose of grades, as grades are designed to show merit. However, some people cheat and earn good grades. Others are favored by their instructor. Like grades, money (or, more specifically, income) is meant to show work and merit. Just because some people earn their money in questionable ways does not mean that everyone with a high income should be forced to give up a relatively high percentage of their money for people who do not have money for whatever reason. That would be like a teacher deciding that because someone probably cheated on a test, everyone who got a high grade on the test would have points deducted, and those points would be given to those who failed the test.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 13, 2011, 07:45:08 PM
I am very well aware that money is inheritable and can be transfered from one deserving person to another not so deserving person. However, transfered money will run out if one doesn't work to keep it or maintain it. Furthermore, inherited money is only inherited once, so it isn't taxed as an income tax with every paycheck.
Thanks to the estate tax, the government can still tax you after you are dead.  That means the money is taxed when it is earned and then taxed again when it is given to relatives.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: CraigStern on October 14, 2011, 06:33:51 PM
I agree that money should be tied to merit. But if you look at studies which check to see what is most actually most highly correlated with having large amounts of money in America, the number one factor is "Were you born to a family with lots of money?"
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 15, 2011, 01:30:53 PM
If people were rich only through inheritance, then how are many of the rich becoming richer?  Inheritance drastically shrinks every generation, because it is split among siblings and heavy taxed by the government.  If the rich weren't sucessfully earning their own money, then the rich would get poorer and poorer until they weren't rich anymore.  Most wealthy people are able to through merit sucessfully increase their fortunes with hard work and higher education.  Plus, if you want to increase the income tax, then you obviously think that are sucessfully earning high amounts of their own income.

In America, the most important factor to how much money you will make is higher education.  Rich or poor, if you don't get into a good college and do well at that college, then you most likely won't make much money.  One of the reasons that America is the land of opportunity is because of subsidized student loans, subsidized public universities, and numerous scholarships allow almost anyone who his hardworking or talented to have access to higher education.

To redistribute wealth seems to discourage earning more through accomplishment, while encouraging earning money through entitlement.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on October 15, 2011, 03:21:46 PM
Among the less wealthy, yes. And if you're content to stay less wealthy, yes.

But if you're rich, and you have a finance manager working for you who will invest your money for you...

Or if you're poor, but you really want to achieve...

redistribution actually pressures and allows, respectively, Americans to accomplish more.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on October 16, 2011, 01:54:49 PM
To redistribute wealth seems to discourage earning more through accomplishment, while encouraging earning money through entitlement.

This is what I was talking about. I answered that point in two sentences. I used ellipses.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 17, 2011, 02:02:15 PM
Among the less wealthy, yes. And if you're content to stay less wealthy, yes.
Senseless half-thought.

But if you're rich, and you have a finance manager working for you who will invest your money for you...
Smart middle class people talk to financial advisors and stock brokers.  Dumb middle class people spend as much as they earn without savings or investing.  Don't punish people for being smart and investing.

Or if you're poor, but you really want to achieve...
Again, that is why the government invests heavly in higher education.  "One of the reasons that America is the land of opportunity is because of subsidized student loans, subsidized public universities, and numerous scholarships allow almost anyone who his hardworking or talented to have access to higher education."

redistribution actually pressures and allows, respectively, Americans to accomplish more.
How does taking money away from the successful and giving that money to the unsuccessful suppose to encourage anyone to be sucessful?
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: ArtDrake on October 17, 2011, 05:49:05 PM
No, it's not a senseless half-thought, any more than "no" is a senseless half-thought when put in context. I thought I could provide that context for you, but apparently you're too thick to understand.

Among the less wealthy, perhaps the redistribution of wealth discourages earning through accomplishment, as the redistribution is in their favour. They, then, might make a living for themselves with less accomplishment then they might have been pushed towards otherwise. Among those who are less wealthy and do not aspire to reach any further than mediocrity, then certainly; redistribution of wealth will not help your case, but rather make you more content to muddle along without a serious education. Sure.

But if one is rich, and one has a finance manager or hired investor to allow you to simply attend fancy cocktail parties and slack off, then redistribution is going to hurt in the wallet. These same people you were talking about when you said that

Quote from: SmartyPants
If the rich weren't sucessfully earning their own money, then the rich would get poorer and poorer until they weren't rich anymore.

when making the point that anyone who's rich isn't going to stay rich through entitlement are staying rich through no effort on their own part. I'm not talking about punishing anyone. I'm simply saying that if, in your idealist version of America, the rich only stay rich through hard work, that directly conflicts with your views about how the rich are paying more than their fair share of taxes. The rich are paying their current taxes, and some of them don't even have to work hard to be rich. The logical consequence is to tax the rich further and stop giving them so many stinking tax cuts, along with giving some of that money to people who need it; that will certainly make the rich more determined to accomplish.

Then, I'll consider the point of the lower classes. With not much money, many cannot afford to go to college. This barrier hits hard despite any achievement on the part of the student who would like to recieve a college education. I'm certain that you've heard the story before: kid wants education, parents can't afford it, kid tries hard, kid gets scholarship, kid can't go to school because his parents have become dependent on the income he brings in with his part-time job, kid takes job at gas station, kid earns cruddy wages because working at gas stations used to be a better gig than it was when his dad was his age, kid becomes adult, gets married to someone he doesn't really even love but is attracted to the hips of, gets drunk, again, and again, and again, abuses wife, but not after getting her pregnant. Rinse and repeat.

With just a bit more money, the parents of the kid could have taken care of his three other siblings without the kid's income, he can go to school on a scholarship, try hard, get a degree, and have a nice life with a charming young lady he meets at school. He might have a couple of kids, read to them at night, take an active role in his daughter's education by helping out with studying, and he will probably earn enough money to send both of his kids to college, and the upward cycle can continue.

Redistribution of wealth encourages the rich and the poor to try harder and accomplish more with what they have, rather than encouraging laziness like you say it does.
Title: Re: Fair Share?
Post by: SmartyPants on October 19, 2011, 10:15:27 PM
Among the less wealthy, redistribution of wealth discourages earning through accomplishment, as the redistribution is in their favor. They, then, make a living for themselves with less accomplishment then they have been pushed towards otherwise. Among those who are less wealthy and do not aspire to reach any further than mediocrity, then certainly; redistribution of wealth will not help thier case, but rather make them more content to muddle along without a serious education. Sure.
People who aspire to rise above their poor background don't need the government to redistribute the wealth in order to become successful in America.  Herman Cain, Barack Obama, Rick Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, John D. Rockefeller, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and many other people were able to overcome their poor background without wealth redistribution.
My grandfather was the son of poor immigrant parents who had eight children.  Without wealth being redistributed, my grandfather was able to attend college and become a sucessful engineer at IBM.

But if one is rich, and one has a finance manager or hired investor to allow you to simply attend fancy cocktail parties and slack off, then redistribution is going to hurt in the wallet.
That is an untrue stereotype portrayed on television.  After you watch Jersey Shore, you probably assumed all Italian Americans are sex craved, steroid-using, drunks with fake tans.

The logical consequence is to tax the rich further and stop giving them so many stinking tax cuts, along with giving some of that money to people who need it; that will certainly make the rich more determined to accomplish.
Nothing encourages the rich to work harder, then not letting them keep the money they earn.  With your logic, the rich will be the most productive when 100% of their income is taken away by the government, because they will be "more determined to accomplish" when they are further taxed.

Then, I'll consider the point of the lower classes. With not much money, many cannot afford to go to college. This barrier hits hard despite any achievement on the part of the student who would like to recieve a college education. I'm certain that you've heard the story before: kid wants education, parents can't afford it, kid tries hard, kid gets scholarship, kid can't go to school because his parents have become dependent on the income he brings in with his part-time job, kid takes job at gas station, kid earns cruddy wages because working at gas stations used to be a better gig than it was when his dad was his age, kid becomes adult, gets married to someone he doesn't really even love but is attracted to the hips of, gets drunk, again, and again, and again, abuses wife, but not after getting her pregnant. Rinse and repeat.
You believe a person who doesn't have a college education "gets drunk" and "abuses wife".  Your serotyping is rather offensive.  People without a college education can be respectable members of their communities, while the college educated can be drunk wife-beaters.

Also, I seriously doubt you know anyone who was near the top of their class in high school and was unable to find the money to attend college.  On the other hand, I know many people who were able to attend college despite their poor background.  Two of my friends are sons of illegal immigrants who speak little to no english.  Even though neither of them were good high school students, they both attend community college.  Because higher educations is massively subsidized, most of their college bill is covered by financial aid.  My friend's brother has almost funded three years at the University of Texas by applying for some of the hundreds of unclaimed scholarships.  If he could swallow his pride and apply for minority only scholarships, then he have much more of his education funded.  My mother's friend got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 18 without becoming a drunk wife beater.  Since he had a hard time learning that having sex on "safe days" isn't a proper form of birth control, he ended up having three kids by the time he was 23. Being in a large Catholic family with nine brothers and sisters, his parents couldn't help him pay for college or supporting his kids.  In order to pay for college and raise his kids, he recieved financial aid and joined the national guard.  He ended up graduating from University of Nebraska with a masters in Marketing despite his poor background.  Due to the large amount of government spending on education and the numerous private scholarships offered, almost every high achiever has a chance to attend a public college.  If financial aid and scholarships aren't enough, then there is always government subsidized student loans.

Your suggestion that we should take money from high income earners and then directly give it to lower income earners in hope that the lower income earners will use that money for college is ridiculous and naive.  It is like giving cash to a drug addict so that the drug addict would have enough money to pay for rehab.

Redistribution of wealth encourages the rich and the poor to try harder and accomplish more with what they have, rather than encouraging laziness like you say it does.
Of course people will work harder when they are given money that they don't earn.  That is why nobody quits their job after winning the lottery. ::)