New York’s High Tax Rates makes it Difficult for People to Willingly Work in New York

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 29th, 2014

Week in Review

If you ever wondered why the communists built the Berlin Wall this is why (see Man Takes Selfies for Proof to the IRS by Brian Koerber posted 3/18/2014 on 3/18/2014 on Mashable).

Anne Jarvis’ father, Andrew, is an architect that splits his time between his firm’s branches in New York City and Philadelphia. The commute became so overwhelming that he began to rent an apartment in NYC to improve his quality of life.

Upon further inspection of tax laws, Andrew learned that in order to avoid being taxed by New York, he would only be allowed to live in the city 182 days or less out of the year. In preparation for disputes against his living situation, he began taking selfies, as a way to prove to the taxman that he spends more time in Philadelphia, than he does in New York.

When a taxing authority taxes too much the natural inclination of free people is to move.  And that’s what was happening in East Berlin.  The best and brightest that drove the economy were walking across the street into the West.  Leaving behind only the less-educated and the less-skilled.  So to stop this brain-drain the communists built the Berlin Wall.  To keep the best and brightest from going to where life was better.

Those on the left will read this story and call this architect greedy.  For he enjoys the privilege of working and living in New York City part of the year.  And should pay for that privilege.  In particular so they can have more free stuff paid for by the best and brightest.  But if New York starts taxing his income that doesn’t mean Pennsylvania will stop taxing his income.  No.  They both will tax his income.  As if he’s two different people.  That is, he will pay the taxes of two people.  Is that fair?  Would even those on the left call that fair?  Of course if you suggest they should pay two cellular bills (theirs and somebody else’s) they would say, “Wait a minute.  That is NOT fair.”  But the architect?  They’d probably say something like, “He’s rich.  He can afford to pay the income taxes of two people.  And should.”

Being rich is a relative term.  It basically means anyone making more than you these days.  So even people who win the lotto don’t consider themselves rich when it comes to paying income taxes.  They’ll say that having to give almost half of their winnings to the taxman is unfair.  But having two states tax this architect is fair.  Because he can afford it.  For he earns that every year.  While they only won one lotto.

The way New York City is going they will have to build a wall around Manhattan if they expect to keep the best and brightest from fleeing their oppressive tax rates.  Or they’ll have to get the federal government to tax all states oppressively high so people have no better place to go.  Which explains why big-government liberals are all for expanding the power of the federal government.  For their oppressive liberal policies won’t work if the people can move to another state to escape them.

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FT213: “Rich liberals support a large welfare state to assuage their wealth guilt.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 14th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

Rich People become Liberals so People don’t Shame them for their Obscene Wealth

Rich people love being rich.  They love their mansions.  Their expensive cars.  Eating at the finest restaurants.  Drinking the finest wine.  Going on lavish vacations.  Going to the best parties.  Hanging with the beautiful people.  And rich men especially like the sex with beautiful young women their wealth can make happen.  To quote the Eagles song Life in the Fast Lane rich people love having everything all of the time.

Some of the richest people in the United States are liberals.  Yes, those same people who argue for income and wealth equality.  Hollywood stars.  Televisions stars.  Authors.  And music stars.  Who are everything they stand against.  They’re part of that evil 1%.   And they live very ostentatious lives.  Their wealth is over the top.  Bling.  Cars.  Cars with bling.  Nothing but the best.  And then some.  This wealth is okay, though.  But those in the 1% other than them?  Government should raise their taxes to take as much of it away as possible.  And we should all shame them for daring to have such obscene wealth.

Of course, rich liberals like their obscene wealth.  They want to keep it.  And they want to continue their lavish lives.  But they don’t want people shaming them.  They want people to love them and adore them.  So they buy whatever they’re selling.  Movies, televisions shows, books or music.  They don’t want anyone shaming them for their obscene wealth.  So they do something very simple to avoid that shame.  They become public liberals.

Only those Businesses that Continually Please their Customers Succeed

Liberals can have the most obscene amounts of wealth without anyone shaming them for that obscene wealth.  Why?  Because they belong to the ‘right’ political party.  The one that argues against income and wealth inequality.  So they get a pass.  Which is why so many rich people are liberals.  They want to be left alone.  And their call for higher taxes on rich people?  Well, they’re so rich that they can hire the best accountants and tax attorneys to help them shield their wealth from the taxman.  There’s a reason why the tax code is so convoluted and not a simple flat tax like conservatives want.  To help rich liberals keep their money.

Then there are rich liberals who have too much of a conscious.  And they feel guilty for having obscene wealth.  But not guilty enough to give their wealth away.  These liberals are vehemently pro big government.  They want a massive welfare state.  To assuage their wealth guilt.  So they can continue to enjoy their obscene wealth.  Their 1% wealth.  Without having to feel guilty about it.  Such as, presumably, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.

Jon Stewart is a very well-read and intelligent man.  He knows a lot of stuff.  Unfortunately, though, he draws many wrong conclusions with that knowledge.  He favors big government.  And a vast welfare state to help those in need.  He trusts government while distrusting corporations and businesses.  Because, as he has said, we have no vote with corporations and businesses like we do with government.  Via elections.  But he’s wrong.  We do have a vote with all corporations and businesses.  The moment they stop treating their customers right those customers go to other corporations and businesses.  Most new businesses fail within 5 years.  And some big companies that have been around for years fail and go out of business.  Why?  Because their customers DO have a large vote in whether they succeed or not.  And only those businesses that continually please their customers succeed.  Something you just can’t say about government.  For no matter how much they anger the people little ever changes.

Not only is there Income and Wealth Inequality there’s also Income Tax Inequality

Fox News has been talking about people scamming the welfare state.  Highlighting a surfer dude in California as a typical welfare cheat.  Stewart lambasted Fox News for that.  Saying one person (or two or three, etc.) does not mean all people on welfare are gaming the system.  Although he uses that very logic to point at corporations caught in wrong-doing.  Saying they represent all corporations and businesses.  And he joins the choir about how rich corporations and rich people are not paying their fair share of taxes.  And how some of these rich corporations and rich people are hiding their income and wealth from the taxman.  Despite their paying the lion’s share of all taxes.

According to the National Taxpayer’s Union, when it comes to income taxes it’s rich people paying the most.  So not only is there income and wealth inequality.  There’s also income tax inequality.  Through recent years the top 1% of income earners has paid approximately a third of all income taxes.  The top 5% has paid more than half of all income taxes.  And the top 10% of income earners has paid about 70% of all income taxes.  While the bottom 50% of income earners, the people rich liberals want to help, pay about 3% (or less) of all income taxes.

You don’t have to raise tax rates on the wealthy.  They’re already paying a disproportionate share of all income taxes.  In fact, if you cut tax rates and cut business regulations to help rich business and rich people get even richer more tax revenue would flow into the treasury.  This would be a good thing.  Rich people getting richer.  And more people becoming rich.  This should be what everyone wants.  Based on the amount of taxes rich people pay.  So we should stop trying to help the less fortunate by raising taxes on the rich.  And creating more onerous regulations for businesses that benefit the less fortunate.  Like Obamacare.  For it hurts the profit incentive.  Which prevents rich people from getting richer and paying more income taxes.  As well as dissuades people from becoming business owners or expanding their businesses.  Which means fewer jobs.  Fewer hours in those jobs.  And the replacement of costly people with machines.  It’s because of these things that median family income has fallen under the Obama administration.  Which is the last thing any good liberal should want.  This is why rich liberals have got to stop supporting a large welfare state to assuage their wealth guilt.  It’s killing the middle class.  And destroying the jobs that could pull the less fortunate into the middle class.  And beyond.

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Progressive and Regressive Taxes and Marginal Tax rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 6th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published July 9th, 2012)

The Beatles fled Britain to Escape a Confiscatory Top Marginal Tax Rate of 95%

George Harrison wrote Taxman.  The song appeared on the 1966 Beatles album Revolver.  It was an angry protest song.  For George Harrison was furious when he learned what exactly the progressive tax system was in Britain.  In the song the British taxman is laying down the tax law.

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

That’s one for you, Mr. Harrison.  And nineteen for us.  The government.  Meaning that for every £20 the Beatles earned they got to keep only £1.  This is a 95% top marginal tax rate.  A supertax on the super rich imposed by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.  So if the Beatles earned £1 million because of their incredible talent and hard work touring in concert, working on new albums in the studio and making movies, of that £1 million they got to keep only about £50,000.  While the government got £950,000.  If they earned £10 million they got to keep about £500,000.  While the government got £9,500,000.  As you can see 5% is a very small percentage.  Which is why George Harrison got so angry.  The harder they worked the less of their earnings they were able to keep.

Is this fair?  George didn’t think so.  Nor did his fellow Beatles.  For they fled Britain.  Moved to another country.  Becoming tax exiles.  For they were little more than court minstrels.  Who the government forced to entertain them.  Earning a lot of money so they could take it away.  To help pay for an explosion in social spending Harold Wilson unleashed on Britain.  Socializing the UK like never before.  And all those social benefits required a lot of taxes.  Hence the progressive tax system.  And marginal tax rates.  Where the super rich, like the Beatles, paid confiscatory tax rates of 95%.

The Top Marginal Tax Rate was around 70% under President Carter and around 28% under President Reagan

As social spending took off in the Sixties and Seventies governments thought they could just increase tax rates to generate greater amounts of tax revenue.  For governments looked at the economy as being static.  That whatever they did would result in their desired outcome without influencing the behavior of those paying these higher tax rates.  But the economy is not static.  It’s dynamic.  And changes in the tax rates do influence taxpayer behavior.  Just ask the Beatles.  And every other tax exile escaping the confiscatory tax rates of their government.  Because of this dynamic behavior of the taxpayers excessively high tax rates rarely brings in the tax revenue governments expect them to.

Even when it comes to sin taxes government still believes that the economy is static.  Even though they publicly state that taxes on alcohol and tobacco are to dissuade people from consuming alcohol and tobacco.  (The U.S. funded children’s health care with cigarette taxes clearly showing the government did not believe these taxes would stop people from smoking).  Perhaps some in government look at sin taxes as a way to discourage harmful habits.  But the taxman sees something altogether different when they look at sin taxes.  Addiction.  Knowing that few people will give up these items no matter how much they tax them.  And that means tax revenue.  But unlike the progressive income tax this tax is a regressive tax.  Those who can least afford to pay higher taxes pay a higher percentage of their income to pay these taxes.  For sin taxes increase prices.  And higher prices make smaller paychecks buy less.  Leaving less money for groceries and other essentials.

Most income taxes, on the other hand, are progressive.  Your income is broken up into brackets.  The lowest bracket has the lowest income tax rate.  Often times the lowest income bracket pays no income taxes.  The next bracket up has a small income tax rate.  The next bracket up has a larger income tax rate.  And so on.  Until you get to the high income threshold.  Where all income at and above this rate has the highest income tax rate.  This top marginal tax rate was around 70% under President Carter.  Around 28% under President Reagan.  And 95% under Harold Wilson’s Labour government in Britain.  An exceptionally high rate that led to great efforts to avoid paying income taxes.  Or simply encouraged people to renounce their citizenship and move to a more tax-friendly country.

When the Critical Mass of People turn from Taxpayers to Benefit Recipients it will Herald the End of the Republic

Progressive taxes are supposed to be fair.  By transferring the tax burden onto those who can most afford to pay these taxes.  But the more progressive the tax rates are the less tax revenue they generate.  What typically happens is you have a growing amount of low-income earners paying no income taxes but consuming the lion’s share of government benefits.  The super rich shelter their higher incomes and pay far less in taxes than those high marginal tax rates call for.  They still pay a lot, paying the majority of income taxes.  But it’s still not enough.  So the middle class gets soaked, too.  They pay less than the rich but the tax bite out of their paychecks hurts a lot more than it does for the rich.  Because the middle class has to make sacrifices in their lives whenever their tax rates go up.

As social spending increases governments will use class warfare to increase taxes on the rich.  And they will redefine the rich to include parts of the middle class.  To make ‘the rich’ pay their ‘fair’ share.  And they will increase their tax rates.  But it won’t generate much tax revenue.  For no matter how much they tax the rich governments with high levels of spending on social programs all run deficits.  Because there just aren’t enough rich people to tax.  Which is why the government taxes everything under the sun to help pay for their excessive spending.

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

This is where excessive government spending leads to.  Excessive taxation.  And confiscatory tax rates.  Taking as much from the wealth creators as possible to fund the welfare state.  And as progressive tax systems fail to generate the desired tax revenue they will turn to every other tax they can.  Until there is no more wealth to tax.  Or to confiscate.  When the wealth creators finally say enough is enough.  And refuse to create any more wealth for the government to tax or to confiscate.  Leaving the government unable to meet their spending obligations.  As the critical mass of people turn from taxpayers to benefit recipients.  Heralding the end of the republic.

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Women are Choosing to get Paid Less so they can have More Time to be Mothers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 16th, 2013

Week in Review

If you listen to some politicians there is a war on women.  Especially in the workplace.  Where evil business owners pay women less than they pay men.  At least that’s what the data aggregate tells us.  That business owners are not only greedy but sexist.  But there appears to be more to the unequal pay between men and women than the data aggregate shows (see Let’s Not Forget, Many Working Moms Want To Work Less by Erika Christakis posted 6/12/2013 on Time Ideas).

It’s almost become a cliché to note that women are still under-earning compared to men in the workforce. But maybe this reality shouldn’t keep surprising us. The recent headlines miss an important part of the work-life balance story: plenty of working mothers are earning less than men because they want the sort of jobs and working arrangements which indeed pay less…

The benefits of part-time work are substantial. Parents can be wage earners and role models without, literally, losing sleep. They can preserve most of their professional identity and work skills but still provide support to a wider group of dependents than would be possible with a full-time schedule, and without going insane in the process…

It’s true that the trend toward part-time, benefit-free employment can be financially ruinous to individual workers. One fifth of the country’s jobs are part-time, and many are low-skilled, dead end positions. But it’s easy to overlook how unrewarding full-time employment can be for many people, too – especially when the researchers and reporters and pundits who write about workforce trends tend to have fascinating, flexible jobs with decent pay.

We should stop limiting what women and men value by insisting that everyone has the same work aspirations. Some of us don’t want to spend the most productive and precious years of our lives trapped at the water cooler with our ‘work spouses,’ and we’re willing to pay the price.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Makes Jane a dull girl, too, as it turns out.  Apparently mothers want to spend time being a mother.  Oh, how the left must hate this.  What with their birth control, abortion and morning after pills.  They want to see every woman childless and working fulltime.  Preferably taking a job away from a man.  Earning a big fat paycheck.  And paying a lot of income taxes.  Perhaps the true reason the left wants women in careers.  Stay-at-home mothers pay no income taxes.  That’s the whole drive behind state-funded childcare.  To get women back into the workforce as quickly as possible.  So they can resume paying income taxes.  Which is why the left demonizes conservatives.  And the 1950s family.  The Donna Reeds and June Cleavers.  Who were happy to spend time raising their children.  The very thought of which makes the left want to collectively vomit.

Motherhood is not something to shun.  To disparage.  Or to attack.  Women aren’t less of a woman for wanting to spend more time with their family.  Instead of shipping their kids off to childcare so they can work fulltime.  Because one day they’ll stop and notice that their kids are no longer kids.  But going off to college.  And they’ll wonder where did the time go.  As well as their childhoods.  Wondering where they were when their kids grew up so fast.  Then they’ll look at the big house.  The two new cars.  The nice things in their home.  And the empty rooms where their children once played.  Then ask themselves, was it worth it?

A lot of women are saying “no.”  It’s not worth it.  So they’re taking part-time jobs so they can spend more time with their kids.  Which is why in the aggregate businesses are paying women less than men.  Because women chose jobs that pay less.  So they can spend time doing something more important.  And more fulfilling.  Being a mother.  And God bless them for it.

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The Public Sector and the Tax Base

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 3rd, 2013

Economics 101

All Government Bureaucracies Grow Bigger and Pay their People Very Well

Big cities throughout the United States are suffering financially.  They are drowning under the costs of their public sector employees.  For when the Great Recession hit tax revenues fell.  People lost jobs and paid less income taxes.  People out of work spent less in the local stores causing a fall in sales taxes.  People drove less and paid less gas taxes.  Home values plummeted, reducing property taxes.  Tax revenue fell at all levels of government.  Leaving the big cities unable to pay their bills.  With less help from the governments above them.  While their infrastructures crumbled.  And they struggled to furnish basic city services.

Governments don’t make anything.  They just have people doing things.  So there are little economies of scale.  Just a lot of people.  The public sector includes every worker in the city paid by tax revenue.  The mayor, city council, school teachers, police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors, boiler operators, electricians, janitors, building inspectors, meter readers, bus drivers, etc.   And all the civil servants and bureaucrats that push paper.  Requiring a huge payroll.  And lots of benefits.  In a large city with a population of 1.5 million those costs can look like this:

Public Sector Costs 1

All government bureaucracies have two things in common.  They always grow bigger.  And pay their people very well.  So the above table has three columns.  Showing the growth of the public sector.  (Assuming a constant population to simplify our math).  From 1% of the city population to 2% then to 3%.  So the number of city employees goes from 15,000 to 30,000 to 45,000.  By the time you add in pay, holiday pay, vacation pay, sick days and health insurance the active employee costs are huge.  Going from $1 billion to $2 billion to $3 billion.  Today it is not uncommon for a big city with a population of 1.5 million to have 45,000 public sector workers.  So we will build on that figure.  And add in retiree costs.

As City’s Population Declines so does its Tax Base

Another big perk of working in the public sector are the great pensions.  Something that has long since disappeared in the private sector.  While most of us have to put money away in a 401(k) public sector workers can count on a generous pension during a long retirement.  Perhaps getting as much as 80% of their base pay.  Plus they keep their health insurance.  Which is unlike the health insurance most of us get in the private sector.  For it covers everything.  With few co-pays.  And only the best name-brand pharmaceutical prescriptions.  This is why people want to work in the public sector.  And why they want to retire from the public sector.  Because no one else pays as well.

Public Sector Costs 2

Public sector workers retire long before their counterparts in the private sector.  Allowing them to live a long retirement.  And because they live so long into retirement the city ends up paying for almost as many retirees as they do active workers.  Putting great cost pressures on these cities as more of their workers retire.  Within as few as 2 decades the cost of retired workers can go from $648 million to $1.9 billion.   When we add this cost to the cost of their active workers we get the total cost of the public sector.

Public Sector Costs 3

As time passes and more people retire from the public sector we can see how the cost of the public sector (active and retired) rises from $3.7 billion to $4.4 billion to $5 billion.  Which, of course, the people living in the city have to pay.  The taxpayers.  They pay income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and a variety of other taxes and fees.  Who by the time the number of retirees reach 40,500 must pay $3,336 per year.  Or $278 per month.  Or $64.15 per week.  Or $9.16 each day.  Just to get a true feel of how much this is do the following exercise.  Each day take a $10 bill out of your wallet or purse and throw it away.  This will approximate the cost of the public sector you pay for.  Until the people start leaving the city.  And as the population declines so does the tax base.  Requiring each person to pay a larger share of the public sector cost.

To pay for an Expanding Government you need a Growing Population

If a city starts losing population it doesn’t reduce the need to pay the bloated public sector.  Both active and retired.  So the fewer people remaining in the city have to pay a larger share of the public sector cost.  Because the public sector union isn’t going to allow the city to lay off any workers.  So it’s up to the taxpayers.  But as the population shrinks it becomes more painful to do.

Public Sector Costs 4

By the time the population falls to 500,000 the amount of taxes a person must pay to support the public sector amounts to a house payment.  Or $192.46 per week.  Or $27.49 each day.  Can you imagine taking three $10 bills out of your wallet or purse every day just to throw them away?  Probably not.  Because no one would.  Cities just can’t keep increasing the tax burden on their people.  For there is a limit.  And when a city reaches it they start borrowing.  Which is how cities go into debt.  And flirt with bankruptcy.  Because of these bloated public sectors.  That grew when the cities grew.  But they didn’t shrink as their populations shrank.

We have ignored corporations in our exercise.  Which increase the tax base.  But we have also excluded additional costs.  Buildings, vehicles, equipment, housing assistance, food assistance, fuel for city vehicles, car insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, lawsuits, etc.  If we factor these things in the numbers will only look worse.  As the cost of the active and retired workers increases there’s less money to pay for the basic city services.  So they deteriorate.  Which when added to the higher taxes chase even more people out of the city.  Reducing the tax base further.  Leaving even less money for the basic city services.

When the population declines so does the city.  As the public sector workers consume a greater percentage of the shrinking tax base cities suffer increasing urban decay.  As there is little money for anything but the public sector workers and their benefits.  For when it comes to paying for government population is key.  You need a growing population to pay for expanding government.  To spread the costs of a bloated public sector over as many people as possible.  And you can’t do that with a declining population.  Which is why big cities flirt with bankruptcy during bad economic times.  For they can pay for their bloated public sectors only during the best of economic times.  And only during the best of economic times.

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Mark Zuckerberg is a Rich Guy who will pay $1 Billion in Taxes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 31st, 2013

Week in Review

It’s open season on rich people.  The favorite target of the Left.  And governments everywhere that are spending far more money than they have.  To buy votes.  So to make up that shortfall they continuously attack the rich.  For how can the rich complain with all that money?  So they attack them.  To get them to pay their ‘fair’ share of taxes.  Despite the huge tax bills they pay (see Report: Zuckerberg facing $1billion tax bill by Brett Molina posted 3/29/2013 on USA Today).

So how much will Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have to pay in taxes for taking his social network public..?

Citing three certified public accountants based in California, CNN says Zuckerberg’s final tally, after deducting charitable donations, sits at $1 billion.

The median U.S. income is $52,762.  Based on the 2012 tax rates a single person earning the median income will pay approximately $17,442 in federal income taxes.  Which means one rich person, Mark Zuckerberg, will pay the same amount of taxes 57,333 Americans will pay.  And if a rich guy is paying what 57,333 Americans are paying it’s pretty hard to say they aren’t paying their fair share.

Zuckerberg paid these taxes while the economy was limping along in one of the worst recoveries in history.  So it would seem we should be encouraging people to get filthy rich.  For they will be able to pay huge sums in income taxes.  No matter how low the tax rate is they pay.  Even in one of the worst economic recoveries in history.

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Disposable Income, Federal Taxes, Federal Debt and our Spending Problem 1940-2012

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 27th, 2013

History 101

Excessive Federal Taxes reduce Disposable Income which reduces New Economic Activity

The key to economic growth is disposable income.  The more disposable income people have the more economic activity they will create.  So the key to a healthy economy is maximizing disposable income.  And we can do that in a few ways.  First of all we need jobs.  And we can create more jobs with fewer costly regulations.  And lower taxes.  If we make it less costly to hire people businesses will hire more people.  Which they aren’t doing right now.  Primarily because of Obamacare.  Which is so costly to businesses that they’ve frozen new hiring.  And are pushing some full time employees to part-time.  As well as investing in capital equipment wherever they can.  Replacing people with machines.  Because machines don’t incur Obamacare costs, taxes or penalties.

For those lucky few who haven’t been replaced by machines they can earn some disposable income.  Depending on their skill level.  A low-skilled person who never graduated from high school cannot earn as much disposable income as a thoracic surgeon.  So if you want stuff.  And you want to stimulate the economy.  Become a thoracic surgeon.  Or something else that takes years of college and years of on the job training.  And hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.

But earning a good income isn’t enough.  Because from that income we must pay an enormous amount of taxes.  Greatly reducing our disposable income.  Some of the taxes we can see.  Such as those itemized on our paycheck stubs.  Federal and state income taxes.  And Social Security and Medicare taxes.  But there are a lot of taxes we don’t see.  Such as excise taxes on the things we buy from gasoline to liquor to cigarettes.  And then there are property taxes.  Sales taxes.  And the list goes on.  All of which take a bite out of our disposable income.  Siphoning away real economic activity over the years as the federal government added new taxes.  And increased the tax rates of the old taxes.

The Federal Government came up with the Withholding Tax to Prevent an all out Tax Revolt

When the Founding Fathers ratified the Constitution there weren’t many taxes.  Mostly custom duties and tariffs.  Which was enough to fund the limited government they created.  But ever since the Founding some in the federal government have been trying to destroy what the Founding Fathers created.  And replace it with what they fought so long to get rid of.  A very large government that reaches into all parts of our life.  Like a monarchy.  Where those in the federal government belong to a new aristocracy.  Who are more equal than everyone else.  And live a far, far better life.  If you don’t believe this just check out property values around Washington DC.

With the American Civil War killing a generation of fathers a lot of boys grew up with over protective and doting mothers.  When these boys came of age and entered politics they weren’t as manly as their father’s generation was.  Because they grew up without fathers to teach them to hunt and fight.  Instead, they grew up with mothers who taught them to be more nurturing.  Giving us the progressive movement.  Woodrow Wilson gave us a permanent federal income tax.  And tried to expand the federal government to be more of a monarchy with a powerful executive that can govern against the will of Congress.  And the people.  After World War I we returned to normalcy.  And Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge gave us the Roaring Twenties.  And the modern world.  Then Herbert Hoover and other progressives caused the Great Depression.  With a crisis too good to let go to waste FDR picked up where Woodrow Wilson left off.  Exploding the size and reach of the federal government.  And the great surge in federal taxes began.  Over the years they added more and more.  Such as these (see Table 2.1—RECEIPTS BY SOURCE: 1934–2017).

Income Payroll Excise and Other Taxes Key

Some of these you are no doubt familiar with.  The biggest bite is the individual income tax.  Something most of us have received our W-2s for and have just prepared our federal income tax returns.  Or are about to.  Dreading it.  Unless we’re getting a refund.  Those who owe money will probably take their sweet time.  As they hate writing a check to the federal government.  Which is why the federal government came up with the withholding tax.  For if people had to write a check for the full amount of their federal income taxes each year there would be an all out tax revolt.  And probably a lot more imprisonment for people not paying their federal taxes.  For no one has that kind of money sitting around.  Which is why the government takes it from you before you can spend it yourself.

Excessive Federal Spending requires ever Higher Taxation and ever more Borrowing to Feed

The big debate in Washington now is the sequester.  And the automatic cuts of the sequester.  Which were proposed by President Obama.  Which Congress wrote into a bill.  And the president signed into law.  In hopes that Republicans and Democrats would come together and find a way to reduce the record high deficit.  The Republicans want to do the obvious.  Cut the spending that caused the record deficit.  Democrats want to do what they always want to do.  Raise taxes.  Saying that we don’t have a spending problem.  That the four years of trillion dollar deficits isn’t because we’re spending too much.  It’s because we’re not taxing enough to pay for that spending.   That rich people aren’t paying their fair share.  But that’s not what you see when you look at the numbers.

Income Payroll Excise and Other Taxes

These taxes are identified in the above table.  As government spending grew so did taxes.  In particular personal income taxes which provide the majority of federal tax revenues.  Which exploded after LBJ’s Great Society added a lot of new federal spending.  And after President Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold in 1971.  Unleashing inflation.  Note that personal income taxes are greater than corporate income taxes.  That’s because there are more people than corporations.  For example, Siemens AG is an international corporation that employs about 360,000 people.  Who all pay personal income taxes.  After personal income taxes comes old-age and survivors insurance.  Otherwise known as Social Security.  And all of these taxes have continued to grow.  Taking a bigger and bigger bite out of disposable incomes.  Putting a drag on new economic activity.  Note that the only falls in federal tax revenue were due to two Democrat-caused recessions.  Bill Clinton’s dot-com bubble burst causing a bad recession in 2000.  And his subprime mortgage lending bubble he started with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending burst causing a bad recession in 2007.  Apart from these, though, the pattern has been more spending.  Not less.  Which would suggest that we do have a spending problem.

Also included on this chart is the federal debt.  Note how it spiked up during World War II.  Then settled down at a constant rate for about 30 years.  Until LBJ’s Great Society spending increased federal spending.  But these massive new taxes weren’t enough.  For that’s when the big deficits started.  Adding on to a growing federal debt.  With the only decline in this growth coming during President Clinton’s presidency.  President Clinton’s dot-com boom (before the bubble burst), the peace dividend from President Reagan winning the Cold War, the Asian financial crisis and Japan’s Lost Decade all helped the American economy shower the treasury with cash.  Putting the nation into a surplus for a year or so.  But that didn’t last.  As federal spending continued to outpace tax revenue.  Culminating with President Obama’s trillion dollar deficits.  With federal tax revenue at the highest since President Bush’s record high just before Clinton’s subprime mortgage bubble burst into the subprime mortgage crisis.  And the Great Recession.

So yes, Virginia, we have a spending problem.  A spending that requires ever higher taxation and ever more borrowing to feed.  Taking an ever bigger chunk out of disposable incomes.  Leaving less and less for new economic growth.  Explaining why the economy has never recovered from the Great Recession.  For President Obama’s policies only increase taxes and the cost of doing business.  And do nothing to create disposable income.

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FT150: “The Left wants to extend tax hikes down to those earning $250,000 because there are just too few rich people to tax.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

If you Confiscated ALL Income from those Earning a Million+ it would be Less than HALF of the Average Obama Deficit

The fiscal cliff yadda yadda yadda the Democrats want to raise taxes and the Republicans’ mothers are whores.  That about summarizes the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The Democrats want to raise taxes.  The Republicans don’t because there is nothing that will kill off an economic recovery quicker than raising taxes.  And the Democrats are mean.  Calling the Republicans a lot of names.  And saying things about them that aren’t very nice.  So once again let’s look at the numbers to see what they say about federal income taxes.  The following numbers come from the IRS (see Table 3.  Number of Individual Income Tax Returns, Income, Exemptions and Deductions, Tax, and Average Tax, by Size of Adjusted Gross Income, Tax Years 2001-2010).

The Democrats keep saying that the Republicans want tax cuts for the rich paid for by the poor.  But according to these numbers that’s just not happening.  People who earned $15,000 or less paid 0.0% of all federal income taxes.  People who earned $30,000 or less paid less than 1% of all federal income taxes.  It’s the meaty center that paid the taxes.  Those who earned from $75,000 to $1 million submitted approximately 20.5% of all federal tax returns while they paid approximately 62.9% of all federal income taxes.

Now how about those rich people?  Those earning $1 million or more submitted approximately 0.19% of all tax returns.  Less than a quarter of one percent.  And yet they paid approximately 21.9% of all income taxes.  Is that fair?  At these high levels of income people pay basically the top marginal tax rate as only a very small fraction of their earnings falls outside this top rate.  So if we divide the total taxes paid by this 0.18% ($207 billion) by 0.35 (the 2010 top marginal tax rate) you get a total income of $590 billion.  So if you confiscated ALL of their earnings it would be less than HALF of the average Obama deficit ($1.324 trillion).  Meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to reduce the deficit with any tax rate on those earning $1 million or more.

The Rich may be paying Lower Tax Rates but they’re paying Far More Tax Dollars than most of Us

All right, so it won’t reduce the deficit.  But the Democrats say we must do this to be fair.  Meaning those earning more should pay more even if it’s only symbolic.  To punish success.  As if they’re not being punished already for their success.  We’ve all heard about Warren Buffet’s secretary paying a larger tax rate than he pays.  But talking percentages isn’t the same as talking dollars.  Because a small percentage on a much larger earnings amount will produce more tax revenue than a higher tax rate on a smaller earnings amount.  So let’s look at dollar amounts to see if the rich are paying their fair share.  Or whether we’re punishing them enough for their success.

The rich paid a smaller percentage of their earnings in taxes but paid far more in actual dollar amounts.  Which is the only thing that allows government to pay for things.  Dollars.  Let’s assume Warren Buffet’s secretary falls into the income range $50,000 to $75,000.  Who paid on average $4,310.92 in federal income taxes.  Now compare this to what rich people paid in income taxes.  Those earning from $1 million to $1.5 million paid on average $306,779 in federal income taxes.  Or more than 71 times what someone earning $50,000 to $75,000 paid.  Those earning $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 paid 102 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 paid 179 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 paid 407 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $10 million or more paid 1,389 times more than that lower income earner.

The rich may be paying lower tax rates but they’re paying far more tax dollars than most of us.  An inordinate amount.  If you look at it in terms of government services people consume (which is what taxes pay for) are those earning $10 million or more consuming 1,389 times the government services those earning $50,000 to $75,000 consume?  No.  If anything, they consume far less government services than most people.  Because they live the good life.  The good life their high earnings provide.  Being that the rich are paying far more than their fair share you can only conclude then that these excessive taxes are punitive.  To punish their success.

The only way to Achieve Real Deficit Reduction is to Increase Taxes on the Middle Class or Cut Spending

So what can we conclude?  The rich are paying more than their fair share of taxes.  The amount of tax dollars they’re paying could even qualify as being punitive.  As they are so great any further increase in rates on the rich is not likely to increase tax revenue.  First of all as they are already paying so much they will take every tax shelter advantage they can to minimize the further confiscation of their earnings.  But more important than that is that there are just so few rich people.  Even though the rich pay on average hundreds of times more in federal income taxes than that meaty center it’s the meaty center where most of the tax revenue comes from.  Because there are so many more people in the meaty center.  And by graphing the number of tax returns from each income bracket and the amount of tax revenue they pay we can understand why the Democrats are so adamant to raise taxes on those earning as little as $250,000.

The blue line (Series 1) is the number of tax returns filed in thousands of people for each income bracket (the left vertical axis).  The red line (Series 2) is the total tax revenue in millions of dollars each income bracket produces (the right vertical axis).  You can see the meaty center of tax revenue (from those earning $75,000 to $1 million).  And you can see the meaty center of those filing tax returns (form those earning $30,000 to $200,000).  As you can see the meaty center of tax filers and tax payers are not the same.  As the tax code shifts the tax burden onto the higher income earners.  And in this chart we can see why the Democrats want to increase tax rates on those earning $250,000 and more.

The drawback to progressive tax rates is that it shifts the tax burden onto fewer people.  Who must pay more in taxes than is their fair share.  And that worked for awhile until government grew so large.  But as our aging population has increased the costs of Medicare and Social Security (and soon Obamacare) there just aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay these soaring costs.  And they will have no choice but to shift the tax revenue graph to lower income people.  So they can capture more people (and incomes) under this graph.  Yes, they want to tax the rich more.  But only for the symbolism.  For once they’ve punished them by forcing them to pay their ‘fair’ share then they can raise tax rates on everyone else.  Which is the only way they have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving real deficit reduction.  Increasing taxes on the middle class.  Well, that, or cutting spending.  Which could provide serious deficit reduction.  By shrinking the size of government. The very cause of those massive deficits.  And accumulated debt.  But shrinking government is, of course, crazy talk for those on the Left.  Who would rather let the country sink into insolvency before agreeing to that.

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The Taxpayers to lose Billions on the GM Bailout and likely will have to bail GM out Again

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

GM could have filed bankruptcy.  Like many companies do.  They reorganize.  Fix the problems that caused them to go bankrupt.  Then they emerge leaner and meaner.  And are able to compete in the market that bankrupted them before their reorganization.  That’s the usual path.  GM did not take it.  Why?  Because the thing that bankrupted GM was its high union costs.  Especially their legacy costs.  Paying pension and health care costs for more retirees than they have active workers.

Had they gone through a normal bankruptcy they would have made GM competitive again.  Which meant doing something to those costly union contracts.  But as the UAW is a valuable resource for the Democrat Party President Obama swept in and protected the UAW.  Giving them the money they needed to fund those pension plans.  Without fixing their competiveness problem.  Meaning they will likely need another bailout (see GM to benefit from tax break for years by David Shepardson posted 12/20/2012 on The Detroit News).

The Treasury Department’s decision to begin its exit from General Motors Co., despite low stock prices, means U.S. taxpayers are almost certain to incur large losses on the $49.5 billion bailout of the Detroit automaker.

At current stock prices, the government stands to lose nearly $13 billion.

To break even, it would need to sell its remaining 300 million shares for about $70 each. The Treasury will sell its remaining shares over the next 15 months, likely in a series of small sales, and that could stem some of the losses.

Unlike the 1980 Chrysler bailout, the Obama administration didn’t require GM to repay all of its government funds. Instead, the government swapped about $42 billion for a 61 percent equity stake in the automaker.

Former auto czar Steve Rattner said the government made the decision because it didn’t want the new GM to be carrying crushing debt. Instead, it gave GM billions of dollars after its bankruptcy to operate.

GM also got other financial benefits. For example, it has legally avoided paying federal income taxes since exiting bankruptcy, even though it has earned $16 billion in profits.

And GM likely will pay no income taxes for many years, because Treasury rulings let GM use $18 billion in losses from the “old GM” left behind in bankruptcy to offset profits.

Interesting.  We’re going to raise taxes on small business owners (those S corporations and LLCs who earn more than $250,000 in business profits that pass through to their personal tax returns) because those who can afford to pay a little more should.  But a company earning $16 billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’) in profits doesn’t have to pay any income taxes.  Why?  Small business owners create far more jobs than GM does.  So why does GM get preferential treatment?  Because small businesses aren’t unionized.  And don’t pay union dues that feed back to the Democrat Party.

When the Carter administration bailed out Chrysler they at least got all of our money back.  They made no gifts of taxpayer money.  If that wasn’t bad enough our gift to GM didn’t fix their competitiveness problem.  So that when GM once again pays income taxes they will be right back where they were before.  Starved of cash.  And unable to fund their pension plans.

Had GM gone through a normal bankruptcy they would already be back in business.  Competitive.  And paying income taxes.  Without the taxpayers picking up the tab.  President Obama didn’t save GM.  He saved the UAW.  Who will eventually destroy GM with their legacy costs.

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FT149: “Poor people don’t hate rich people; they envy them and buy lotto tickets to become one of them.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 21st, 2012

Fundamental Truth

People don’t hate the Lifestyles of the Rich they just hate the Rich because they’re Living it Instead of Them

Overweight and less beautiful women hate beautiful women with toned, firm bodies.  Overweight and less handsome men hate more handsome and muscular men who get all the beautiful women with toned, firm bodies.  They may hate those who are more physically attractive than they are.  Until they start dieting and going to the gym to become one of them.  Once they are one of the beautiful people they no longer hate the people they once did.  In fact, they now enjoy being part of their world.  A world where their physical appearance gets them the attention they didn’t know when they were less attractive.  But for some dieting and working out is hard work.  Especially if they have to work harder than others who can eat and drink anything they want without putting on a pound.  So if they falter from their new healthy lifestyle and put that weight back on those old feelings of hatred will return.

People fear cancer.  They hate cancer.  And may adopt a healthier life style to avoid cancer.  By eating healthier.  And exercising.  They may quit smoking and cut buck on drinking.  And they may add certain foods to their diet they understand will help prevent cancer.  Even if some of these foods aren’t delicious.  After adopting a healthier lifestyle they don’t change their position on cancer.  They still hate it.  But staying on a healthy diet and making time to exercise is hard.  Because the delicious, less healthy foods are hard to give up.  And going to the movies is a lot more enjoyable than going to the gym.  Once their healthier lifestyle lapses their position on cancer does not change.  They still hate it.  As they always hated it.

There is a difference between hate and envy.  You may hate people you envy.  Because they are, or have, everything you want.  And you covet what they have.  But what you hate is that they are living the good life instead of you.  They don’t hate the good life.  Whereas you don’t envy what you truly hate.  No one has ever complained that someone else got cancer instead of them.  No one has ever complained about the unfairness of cancer that way.  Usually the complaint is more along the lines of ‘why me and not someone else’.  For the hate of cancer is a pure hate.  It is not relative.  It is absolute.  Whereas someone’s hate of the rich is relative.  It will disappear the moment a person comes into money.

People in the Public Sector exploit the Taxpayers to pay for their very Generous Pay and Benefit Packages

Kids may go on to college and take courses in the social sciences.  Where they learn about the unfairness of capitalism.  The evil of corporations.  How businesses exploit their employees.  How they put profits before people.  By the time they leave college the word ‘profit’ is a four-letter word to them.  And they believe we should shun anyone pursuing profits like those exploitive business owners.  Raising taxes on them is a good thing.  For by doing so we can help redistribute the wealth from those hoarding it to those who don’t have enough.  To produce a fair and egalitarian society.

They also learned how socialism is better.  That the Soviet Union only failed because of the Americans undermining a superior economic system.  They believe so strongly that they vote Democrat to try and do something about making America a fairer place to live.  They go on to get jobs in the public sector to do their part in making America fairer.  By redistributing wealth.  To help those who have little.  And they exploit the taxpayers.  Forcing them to pay for their very generous pay and benefit packages.  While those same taxpayers never live a life as fair or as equal as the public sector workers they support.

These public sector workers envy the life of the rich.  They don’t hate that life.  They just hate the people who are smarter and more talented than they are who were able to achieve that life.  It’s not fair that these people had talent.  And worked hard for success.  So it’s only fair to take their money away from them to make society fair.  And so they can enjoy a lifestyle that neither their talent nor their ability could ever provide.

Poor People voted overwhelmingly for President Obama to Punish the Rich for Winning Life’s Lottery

President Obama won reelection with a campaign of class war.  Getting the people to believe that the rich weren’t paying their fair share in federal income taxes.  Despite the top 10% of income earners paying 70% of all federal income taxes.  Early on Occupy Wall Street agitated the people against the 1%.  Which grew into a bitter character assassination of Mitt Romney.  Because he was rich.  People hated him for that.  Not for having money per se.  For the people wanted everything he had.  They just hated him because he had the talent to earn what they couldn’t.  For they lacked the talent to achieve the success of Mitt Romney.

President Obama enjoyed the support of rich Hollywood stars and musicians.  And the president enjoyed hobnobbing with them.  Even the suffering masses enjoyed seeing the president hobnob with their idols.  Even though they had wealth just like Mitt Romney.  But for some reason their inequality was okay.  And these superstars, incidentally, all went into their chosen field to become rich.  To live in mansions.  And to have more money than they could ever spend.  While the people castigated Mitt Romney for having money the people looked on in awe and reverence at the lifestyle of the rich and famous they so admired.  And all the rich and famous had to do to get this pass on having obscene wealth is to attack other people with wealth.  And publically support Democrats.  You do that and they will leave you alone.  No matter how much money you shelter in the Cayman Islands.

No one hates rich people.  They just envy their lifestyles.  And covet what they have.  They hate the fact that they weren’t born with the passion, drive, ability or talent to become rich.  And hate these people for being able to do what they cannot.  Become rich.  Though it doesn’t stop them from trying.  Especially poor people.  Who voted overwhelmingly for President Obama.  To punish the rich for winning life’s lottery.  While they themselves spend every last dollar they can buying lotto tickets.  For they may have voted for President Obama to punish the rich.   But that’s only because they envy the rich.  And want to become one of them.  Should they win the lotto their position on hating the rich will quickly change.  Perhaps going so far as to start voting Republican.  To save as much of their winnings from the taxman as possible.

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