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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Student Loan Debt at Record Highs in the Worst Economy since the Great Depression risk Default

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Ben Bernanke gives us encouraging news.  Government guaranteed student loan debt is at a record high.  In a time when the unemployment rate is at a near record high.  In the worst economy since the Great Depression.  With a large chunk of those unemployed being those new college graduates.  But if these college graduates default it won’t put the financial system at risk (see Bernanke Says Student Loans Won’t Cause Crisis by Jeff Kearns and Janet Lorin posted 8/7/2012 on Bloomberg).

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said record U.S. student loan debt doesn’t put the financial system at risk the way mortgages did because most educational borrowing is backed by the government…

Outstanding educational debt, which includes loans taken out by students and their parents, is estimated at $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. About 15 percent is private student loans, issued by lenders including banks. The rest is backed by the government.

So instead of the government using tax dollars to bailout financial institutions the government will use tax dollars to pay off these guaranteed student loans once they default.  So what?  What’s putting another Obamacare on the books?  Then again, CBO originally scored Obamacare to cost $1 trillion over ten years.  So a student loan default would be like adding ten Obamacares on the books.   In a year or two.  That would be bad.  But it could be worse.  At least it won’t put the financial system at risk.

If these students default on their student loans because they can’t get a job in this rotten economy with their useless liberal arts or social sciences degrees that aren’t in demand then perhaps we should make the universities refund their money.  Or offer them a degree in something useful at no additional cost.  Like in science or engineering.

Record debt.  Record deficit.  Record government spending.  And now a trillion dollars in student loan debt that may add to the debt pile.  It’s as if the U.S. is on a subway.  And the next stop is Greece.

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Liberal (lĭb’ər-əl), n., One who adheres to the social and political philosophy of (neo) liberalism.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 27th, 2011

Politics 101

The Single Goal of Liberalism is to Transfer as much Wealth and Power from the Private Sector

The Founding Fathers were liberals.  They believed in individual liberty.  Personal responsibility.  The Rule of Law.  And limited government.  Very limited government.  Very, very limited government.  Not something you associate with liberals today.  Which is why we must call the Founding Fathers classical liberals.  Because liberalism today isn’t our Founding Fathers’ liberalism.  In fact, it’s what they rebelled against.  Privilege.

Liberals today are a small sliver of the population.  About 20%.  And they’ve been around forever.  They’ve just had different names.  The nobility.  The aristocracy.  The planter elite.  Those born of privilege.  And who live off of the wealth created by others.  Through inheritance.  Through land ownership.  Or via taxation.  This privileged class does not work.  No.  They get others to create wealth for them.  And their tool is class warfare.

Their single goal is to make government as large as possible.  For the larger it is the more wealth and power they can transfer from the private sector.  And there is nothing more effective for growing government than pitting one group of people against another.  Rich against poor.  Employees against employers.  Labor against capital.  Consumers against corporations.  And, of course, racism, sexism, ageism, whateverism.  Whoever you are they’ll find someone who has discriminated against you.  And they’ll use that to their advantage.  To legislate a new law in Congress.  Or from the bench in the judiciary.

Liberals get us Accustomed to Living on the ‘Kindness’ of Government and Terrified of Losing the Government Way of Life

Liberals don’t see individuals.  They see the group the individual belongs to.  And how they can use one group to agitate another.  To advance their agenda.  To increase taxation.  And regulation.  To grow government.  To extend their power and influence over the private sector.  So secure their position of privilege.

They once called themselves the ruling elite.  And ruled accordingly.  Until the inconvenience of elections.  Representative government.   And a Constitution that limits their power.  Now they have to be stealthier.  And hide who they are.  What they truly believe.  And use the courts to make law that they can’t legislate in Congress.  How do they do this?  By dumbing down our public education.  Changing the meaning of words.  And by fooling us.  By hiding in a ‘benevolent’ Big Government.  A government that protects the poor.  The disadvantaged.  The little guy.  When in fact they use the poor, the disadvantaged and the little guy to secure their position of privilege.  For if they actually helped these people their work would be done.  And that’s the last thing they want.  To lose their expanding powers to regulate and tax.

So they extend their power and control over us.  While telling us it’s for our own good.  And make as many of us dependent on them as possible.  By providing generous welfare programs.  Social Security.  Medicare.  And now Obamacare.  Getting us accustomed to living on the ‘kindness’ of government.  And making us terrified of losing our government way of life.

Liberals Consume Tax Dollars and Benefit from a Growing Government that Increases Taxes and Regulations

Liberals consume tax dollars.  They don’t pay tax dollars.  The private sector taxpayers pay the salary and benefits of all politicians.  Public sector employees.  Public school teachers.  And college professors.  Via ever escalating tuition prices that no liberal ever objects to.  (Unlike rising prices in the private sector.)  Either paid for by rich parents.  Or student loans.  Once backed by the government.  Now issued by the government.

Liberals enjoy generous pay and benefit packages courtesy of the taxpayer.  In return liberals in education advance the liberal agenda.  (Ask a kid to explain global warming and capitalism and guess which one he or she will be able to explain).  Liberals in unions repay that government kindness (such as favorable legislation that restricts competition) through generous contributions from their union dues.  And agitate, organize and vote for the liberal agenda.  To keep the spigot of that government kindness open.

And then you have the guilty-rich.  People who try to assuage their guilt of inheriting their wealth.  Those who made it rich in the movies.  In music.  In sports.  As an author.  Anyone who got obscenely wealthy.  But doesn’t want to be attacked for being obscenely wealthy.  Like those on Wall Street.  And those corporate CEOs.  So they, too, advance the liberal agenda.  While sheltering their wealth from the greedy hands of government.

Then there’re the pseudo-intellectuals.  Those who advance the liberal agenda to sound smart.  Or to be included in the inner circle of the elite.  Those in the mainstream media.  And celebrities.  Who cry out desperately for affirmation.  That they are more than just someone pretending to be someone else.  Or simply someone reporting on the exciting lives of others.

Finally the young.  The uneducated.  Or poorly educated.  Who don’t understand capitalism, economics, history or public policy.  And they don’t care.  As long as they get something.  Government benefits.  Or fun.  Whether it be sex and drugs.  Or the thrill of protesting.  Anything to escape living in the real world.  Those who just don’t want to grow up.  And become responsible adults.  Like their parents.  Until they start raising a family.  Then they are exactly like their parents.  So the liberals have to get them while they’re young.  And keep them woefully ignorant about the real world for as long as possible.

The Liberal Social and Political Philosophy has the Simple Goal of Securing their Position of Privilege

The liberal social and political philosophy is simple.  Everything they believe, everything they do, has but one goal.  Securing their position of privilege.  Which explains a record of contradiction and failure.  Such as ‘working hard’ to create jobs while the economy wallows in recession due to an unfriendly job-creating environment.  Because of their high taxes.  Costly regulations.  And the great uncertainty of what will come next.

But when you understand their goal it makes perfect sense.  High taxes and regulation extends their control over the private sector.  And recession sets the stage for Keynesian stimulus spending.  Which creates more government programs.  Paid for by higher taxes.  Which is more wealth transferred from the private sector.  Further extending their control over the private sector.

Liberal policy, then, makes perfect sense.  When you understand its goal is to expand their control over the private sector.  To secure their position of privilege.  Because when you do you’ll see that this policy has never been contradictory.  And it has never failed.

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Conservative (kən-sûr’və-tĭv), n., One who adheres to the political philosophy of conservatism.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2011

Politics 101

Conservatives tend to be Responsible Adults with Jobs in the Private Sector who Pay Taxes Instead of Consuming Them

What is a conservative?  For a start, it’s probably not what you’ve heard.

There is this perception that conservatives are just a bunch of old white guys.  Bankers.  Corporate fat cats.  And out of touch Republicans (in the U.S., at least).  The perception continues that they are rich, hate the poor and are both closeted racists.  And open racists.  These perceptions are wrong.

Conservatives tend to be grownups.  Responsible adults.  Parents.  And they typically have jobs.  Real jobs.  In the private sector.  They don’t consume tax dollars.  They pay tax dollars.  And they tend to pay their own way.  Who want to raise their children their way.  And live their lives their way.  Without government telling them what’s best for them.

Conservatives believe in Limited Government, the Rule of Law, Individual Liberty and Personal Responsibility

Conservatives believe in limited government.  And they respect the Constitution.  They don’t believe it’s a living document.  Open to broad interpretation.  Or that it is merely a suggestion.  They don’t believe the courts should be used to make law that can’t be legislated in Congress.  The courts interpret law; they don’t write it.  Per the Constitution.  And they don’t like radical, populist change.  That are all theory.  With no track record of success.  They know their history.  Their heritage.  Their traditions.  And are very cautious when it comes to changing the old ways.  Especially when the old ways have been proven by time.

Conservatives believe in the Rule of Law.  Individual liberty.  And personal responsibility.  Where everybody plays by the same set of rules.  Regardless of race, color, sex, creed, etc.  And cheaters shouldn’t prosper.  They favor true capitalism.  And abhor crony capitalism.  Which isn’t capitalism.  But government favoritism.

They favor the Austrian School of economics over the tax and spend Keynesian school.  They believe in sound money and would lean towards reinstating the gold standard.  So government can’t inflate the currency at will to pay for more Keynesian spending.  They also believe that free trade benefits the consumer.  By providing more competition, lower prices and higher quality.

Conservatives typically Go to Church, Believe in the Golden Rule and Love & Respect their Fellow Man

Conservatives tend to be older on average than liberals.  That’s because they have grown up.  And left the ignorant ways of their youth behind.  They have worked and paid taxes.  Been part of the free market economy.  They know how wealth and jobs are created.  And have learned how to think for themselves.

They carefully budget their money.  Scrimp and save to raise a family.  Which is why they are very sensitive to taxes.  They struggled to get by.  And sacrificed for their children.  So they can have a better life.  So they oppose higher taxes now.  And higher taxes later.  For their children.  And their grandchildren.

But they don’t hate the poor.  Or those in need.  Conservatives typically go to church.  Believe in the Golden Rule.  And love and respect their fellow man.  Which is why conservatives are among the most charitable of people.  Many tithe their church.  Donate their time in their communities.  And make great neighbors.

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If Taxing the Rich won’t Reduce the Deficit then it’s not Tax Reform, it’s Class Warfare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 25th, 2011

The Rich are Paying Far More in Taxes than People like Warren Buffet’s Secretary

It’s tax reform.  It’s not tax reform.  They may not have their story straight.  But this much we know.  Obama’s Warren Buffett tax will do nothing for deficit reduction.  But it sure will fan the flames of class warfare (see WH self-contradicts, admits tax hikes arent reform by Joel Gehrke posted 9/25/2011 on The Washington Examiner).

President Obama and White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe have adopted contradictory rhetoric regarding  President Obama’s proposed tax increases, which the president has touted as “tax reform…”

Plouffe responded that “the president would like to do tax reform . . . But absent tax reform,  the president believes the right way to get our fiscal house in order is to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.”

So according to Plouffe, raising taxes isn’t tax reform.  It’s to punish the rich.  That’s what making them ‘pay their fair share’ means.  Even though, right now, they’re paying more than their fair share.  Far more.  (More on that later.)  Obama, though, sees it differently.  And the way he sees it punishing the rich is reforming the tax code.

When two people can’t get their story street it typically means one thing.  They’re lying.  And can’t keep their stories straight.

Now, the Republicans say they’re in favor of tax reform.  Let’s go.  Let’s reform this tax code.  And let’s reform it based on a very simple principle:  Warren Buffett’s secretary should not be paying a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. It’s a simple principle.

Why not?  Warren Buffett is still paying more tax dollars.  The rich are paying far more in taxes than people like Warren Buffet’s secretary.  So why keep saying this?  Can be for only one reason.  To punish the rich.  And to show the people that you want to vote for you that you’re punishing the rich.

Wallace pointed out to Plouffe that “the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of federal income taxes. Meanwhile, 46 percent of households pay no federal income tax at all.” Plouffe countered that “you can manipulate the statistics in any way you want,” and also said that “they are making a ton of money” while “we have inequities,” presumably in the tax code. And then Plouffe offered what would qualify as an argument for tax reform, except that Plouffe is admittedly not pushing for tax reform:

The American people are screaming out saying it’s unfair that the wealthiest, the largest corporations who can afford the best attorneys, the best accountants, take advantage of these special tax treatments that the lobbyist have, along with lawmakers, have cooked in the books here. So, the question is: how are we going to move forward as a country?

Wallace interjected, “Because 70% isn’t enough?”

For tax revenue?  Yes.  That 70% should be enough.  Perhaps too much.  But for class warfare?  No.  Because there’s a lot more money they can take from the rich.  And the more they take the more votes they gain from that 46% that doesn’t pay any federal income taxes.

It’s not that the President is Losing White Independents.  It’s just that Blacks Refuse to Give Up on Obama.

So why the class warfare?  Because it’s election time.  And when you don’t have a good record you don’t win reelections running on that record.  So you don’t.  Instead, you go class warfare.  Pit one group against the other.  Find narrow slices of the population that you can turn against your political opposition.  And, if you get enough of these slivers, you may just have a chance at reelection.  Despite your horrible record while in office (see Obama 2012 campaign’s Operation Vote focuses on ethnic minorities, core liberals by Peter Wallsten posted 9/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

President Obama’s campaign is developing an aggressive new program to expand support from ethnic minority groups and other traditional Democratic voters as his team studies an increasingly narrow path to victory in next year’s reelection effort.

The program, called “Operation Vote,” underscores how the tide has turned for Obama, whose 2008 brand was built on calls to unite “red and blue America.” Then, he presented himself as a politician who could transcend traditional partisan divisions, and many white centrists were drawn to the coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.

The problem is that Obama is about as partisan as they come.  That’s why the tide has turned against him.  A lot of people hated George W. Bush.  And thought Obama was going to bring in the love.  Make the country as a whole link arms and sing Kumbaya.  But that hasn’t happened.

He spent more than George W. Bush.  Giving us record deficits.  And he keeps blaming his spending on the rich not paying their fair share of taxes.  The people see what’s going on, though.  They’re not blind.  It’s his spending.  Not a lack of taxes.  And all that spending hasn’t done a thing to help the economy.  The economy was, after all, far better under George W. Bush.  So they’re seeing the same old tax and spend liberal.  Not the candidate that was going to get us all to link arms and sing Kumbaya.

But not everyone is turning against this president.  The blacks haven’t turn on him.  They would have but for one reason.  He’s black.  The black community is furious with him.  But they still can’t abandon him.  As the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Maxine Waters, said in Detroit.  “If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us. When you tell us it’s all right and you unleash us and you’re ready to have this conversation, we’re ready to have the conversation,” Waters said.

Today, the political realities of a sputtering economy, a more polarized Washington and fast-sinking presidential job approval ratings, particularly among white independents, are forcing the Obama campaign to adjust its tactics.

Operation Vote will function as a large, centralized department in the Chicago campaign office for reaching ethnic, religious and other voter groups. It will coordinate recruitment of an ethnic volunteer base and push out targeted messages online and through the media to groups such as blacks, Hispanics, Jews, women, seniors, young people, gays and Asian Americans.

It’s not that the president is losing white independents.  It’s just that blacks refuse to give up on Obama and join the exodus from him.

When you’ve been a poor president.  When your policies have made things worse.  There’s only one thing you can do.  You do everything to divide the American people.  Drive wedges.  Find reasons.  Why blacks should hate Republicans.  Why Hispanics should hate Republicans.  Why women should hate Republicans.  Why seniors should hate Republicans.  Why young people should hate Republicans.  Why gays should hate Republicans.  Why Asians should hate Republicans.

When you have failed you become what you said you weren’t.  Or stop pretending to be something you never were.  And you incite hatred.  Fan the fires of class warfare.  You pursue policies that further divide the American people.  Even if those policies hinder the economic recovery.

The campaign officials say they have not given up on wooing independents, and the 2012 presidential election will certainly involve a fierce fight for the college-educated whites and suburbanites who were more likely to back Obama in 2008 than the working-class whites who have always been more skeptical.

By ‘college-educated’ they mean ‘favorably-educated’.  Universities lean left.  Continuing the work of the public school teachers.  Both of who depend on government funding.  And growing tax rates.  So they need government to grow.  And will always vote for the party that will grow government.  And will ‘teach’ their young students to do the same.

Working-class people, on the other hand, have spent more time in the real world.  They’ve had a chance to get deprogrammed from their public school indoctrination.  That’s why it’s harder to fool the working-class.

When you’ve ‘Jimmy Cartered’ the Economy you can’t Run on your Record

It’s election season.  Little more than a year to go before the 2012 election.  So candidate Obama is back.  Running like he wasn’t the president for the last 3 years or so.  Somehow trying to explain to his most loyal base that he’s made things better than his predecessor.  George W. Bush.

But he hasn’t.  However you measure it.  GDP.  Unemployment rate.  Consumer confidence.  Whatever.  And the kicker is that the cause for the Subprime Mortgage Crisis that started under Bush wasn’t caused by Bush.  Putting people into houses they couldn’t afford was a liberal Democrat policy.  So housing wasn’t exclusive to only those who could afford a house.  Policies the Obama administration favors.  And policies that they want to implement again.  Despite having just suffered the Subprime Mortgage Crisis because of those policies.  Why?  Because it gets you more votes at election time.

So when you’ve ‘Jimmy Cartered‘ the economy you can’t run on your record.  The best you can hope for is to paint your political opponent as being everything the slivers of your most loyal base hate.  Attack the rich.  And promise more free stuff to that 46% that doesn’t pay any federal income taxes.

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The Space Shuttle versus the Airbus A380, an Economics Lesson

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 29th, 2011

The Space Shuttle, a Public Sector Failure

People like to point to the Apollo Program as the ultimate example of the American ‘can do’ attitude.  Apollo put men on the moon and retuned them safely.  If we can do that we should be able to do anything.  Even cure the common cold.  If only we attacked our greatest problems today the same way we solved the moon problem.  With a great big government program.  That marshaled a vast network of private contractors.  Where cost was no object.

But that was the problem with Apollo.  Cost.  It cost in excess of $20 billion dollars in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Today that would exceed $130 billion.  At the peak of the program spending consumed nearly 5% of all federal spending.  We’ve come close to shutting down government over lesser amounts in budget disputes.  The numbers are huge.  In comparison, the big three of federal outlays are Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and Defense, each consuming about 20% of all federal spending.  Imagine the fireworks if any of these were reduced to 15% (a 25% reduction in spending) to pay for another Apollo Program.  Suffice it to say it’s not going to happen.

This is why we don’t have more ‘Apollo’ programs to solve our problems.  We simply can’t afford to.  And in case you hadn’t noticed, NASA discontinued the Apollo Program, cancelling three moon landings.  Because of costs.  These cost savings help fund Skylab and the next big project.  The Space Shuttle.  Which was going to fix the cost problem.  By paying for itself.  Based on the private sector model.  The reusable vehicle was going to shuttle payload to space for paying customers and earn a profit.  The program, then, would pay for itself once launched.  And consume no tax dollars.  That was the plan, at least. 

But the Space Shuttle had its problems.  For one it was very dangerous.  And it turns out that the first manned mission was likely to be a disaster (see Shuttle Debuted Amid Unknown Dangers by Irene Klotz posted 6/29/2011 on Discovery News).

What NASA didn’t know at the time was that there was only a 1-in-9 chance the astronauts would make it back alive. Managers put the odds of losing the shuttle and its crew at 1-in-100,000.

Safety upgrades, including those initiated after two fatal accidents, have made the shuttle 10 times safer than it was in its early years, but the odds of a catastrophic accident are still high — about 1 in 90.

That is the largely unspoken part about why NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet after a final cargo run to the space station next month.

The Space Shuttle was just too complex a machine to meet any of its original goals.  Two shuttles were lost.  And the Space Shuttle Program never turned a profit.  The program that was going to pay for itself along the private sector model didn’t.  It required tax dollars.  A lot of them.

… preparing the shuttles for flight is extremely labor-intensive, which drives its $4 billion-a-year operating expense.

This is why we shouldn’t ask for any more great big government programs.  Because they’re typically abject failures.  Few companies in the private sector can fail as grandly.  Missing their profitability goal in excess of $4 billion dollars?  Year after year?  Only government can do this.  For only in government can a failed business model survive.  Because only government can tax, borrow and print money.

The Airbus A380, a Private Sector Success Story

This doesn’t happen in the private sector.  Where such gross mismanagement would put companies out of business.  Because they can’t tax, borrow or print.  Well, they can borrow.  But not at the low rates the government can.  Such failure would force them into junk territory.  And with a proven track record of losing billions year after year, even that wouldn’t be an option.  No, the private sector has to do it the old fashioned way.  They have to earn it.  You don’t have to be perfect.  You just have to be profitable (see Damaged Qantas A380 Refurbishment Underway by Guy Norris posted 6/29/2011 on Aviation Week).

Work to return to service the Qantas Airbus A380 damaged in last November’s uncontained engine failure is underway in Singapore.

The aircraft, which was substantially damaged when the number two Rolls-Royce Trent 900 shed a turbine disc, is about to be placed on stress jacks for major repairs to the wing and fuselage. Work will likely include replacement or repairs to the number one engine nacelle adjacent to the number two engine which was destroyed. The number two engine and nacelle is also being replaced…

The start of repair work, covered under an Aus $135 million insurance claim, puts a final end to speculation that the A380 would be written off. Airbus meanwhile declines to comment on the implications for possible longer term redesign as a result of lessons learned from the incident.

The Airbus A380 is a complex machine.  It’s expensive to build.  And to operate.  But it packs in a lot of people.  So the airlines can recover their costs through normal passenger service.  By offering passengers tickets at affordable prices.  With a little left over.  So Airbus can afford to sell these expensive airplanes at affordable prices, covering their costs with a little left over.  So their suppliers can sell components at affordable prices, covering their costs with a little left over.  Companies make profits everywhere in the process.  To return to their investors.  To reinvest in their operations.  Or to cover large, unexpected cost hits.  Like Airbus and Rolls Royce did to keep Qantas a satisfied customer.

A380 product marketing director Richard Carcaillet says “the two preliminary reports so far have focused on the engine event. However if there are any lessons for systems and procedures then we will take action. But with the co-operation of Rolls-Royce we have put a line of defense into the Fadec (full authority digital engine control), so that in the event of detecting a similar condition it will shut down quickly,” he adds.

Rolls has “now inspected and modified the whole fleet,” says Carcallet. For the moment the fix is the revised Fadec software, though longer term design changes are also underway to the engine, he adds.

The updated software commands an engine shut down if it detects the threat of an intermediate high pressure turbine overspeed occurring. Rolls is meanwhile working on a longer-term redesign of the Trent 900 oil system, a fire in which triggered the event.

Rolls-Royce has also agreed to pay (US) $100.5 million compensation to Qantas.

This is how the private sector works.  The profit incentive makes everyone do what is necessary to please and retain customers.  And improve safety.  Because airplanes falling apart in flight do not encourage anyone to buy a ticket.

Bigger Programs only mean Bigger Failures

There’s a reason that the Shuttle Program is no more but there are A380s flying and making money.  The difference between the Shuttle Program and the A380 is that one was in the public sector and the other is in the private sector.  And guess which one is the success story?  The one in the private sector.  Of course.  This despite the A380 having far more competition in Boeing (in particular the Boeing 747-400 and 747-8) than the Space Shuttle ever had.

Moral of the story?  Keep government programs small.  Because bigger programs only mean bigger failures.  And more tax dollars pulled from the private sector to pay for these failures.

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LESSONS LEARNED #62: “The government’s great dilemma is that the middle class has both the money and the votes.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2011

We’re Moving on Up

Those on the Left see the world through zero-sum eyes.  Especially taxes.  For example, let’s look at the taxes of a group of 100 people.  These one hundred can be broken down into three groups.  Poor (20), middle class (79) and rich (1).  With the following annual salaries.  Poor ($15,000), middle class ($50,000) and rich ($1,000,000).  Based on the 2008 tax tables (with a top marginal tax rate of 35%), they each pay $4,600, $17,000 and $454,000, respectfully.  The total each group pays, then, is $91,000 (poor), $1,342,000 (middle class) and $454,000 (rich).  Which is 4.8%, 71% and 24%, respectfully, of the total tax paid.  The largest group of people pays the largest percentage of the total tax burden.  The middle class.  (All numbers are approximate.)

Now, let’s do a little zero-sum analysis.  And figure out how to make the rich pay a larger share of the taxes.  Hmmm.  How about we raise the tax rate on the rich?  If we raise the top marginal tax rate to 45%, the taxes the one rich person pays goes from 24% to 28%.  And the taxes the middle class pay goes from 71% to 68%.  So, to reduce the tax burden on the middle class, we simply have to raise the top marginal tax rates.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  Because what happens in reality is the opposite of what most would think.  As you raise the tax rate on the rich, the total tax burden shifts from the rich to the poor and middle class.  Why?  Because of one fundamental flaw in their analysis.  Which is this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9y4iXAso4I

Life is not zero-sum.  People don’t always stay in the same economic class.  They work hard.  Earn money through the years.  Some even save enough money to open a business.  And some of these do become rich.  And when they do, they pay a lot more taxes than they did when they were poor or middle class.  And this is the very thing that high marginal tax rates discourage.  Upward economic movement.  As the poor move into the middle class.  And the middle class move into the rich class.  This is why low, not high, tax rates shifts the tax burden from the poor and middle class to the rich.  Because low tax rates make more rich people to tax.

The Roaring Twenties were Kicked off by Tax Cuts

Andrew Mellon was a rich banker.  Who understood business.  Warren G. Harding tapped him to be his Secretary of the Treasury.  World War I was over.  And there was a huge war debt to pay off.  Taxes were high.  And the progressives wanted to raise them higher.  But Mellon was a conservative.  And he knew that you just didn’t stimulate economic activity with high taxes.  And that’s what paid the bills.  Economic activity.  People gainfully employed and paying taxes.  So he cut taxes.  They cut the top marginal tax rate from 77% to 25% (a cut of 68%).  Which gave us the Roaring Twenties.  Electricity, appliances, radio, you name it, the modern age had come.  Everyone was working.  And buying stuff.  Times were good.

Sure, you’re saying, but at what cost?  The economy took off into the stratosphere but the rich got a free ride.  With their tax rate cut of 200%, the poor and middle class must have been stuck with the tax bill.  Right?  Wrong.  With the lower tax rates, the rich found it cheaper and easier to pay taxes than to shelter it.  Also, the lower rates encouraged innovation (i.e., the modern age).  Lots of people got rich.  There was a lot of upward movement through the economic classes.  So there were more rich people paying taxes.  In 1920, the very rich paid approximately 30% of all federal income taxes.  That number jumped up to 62% by 1929.  That’s an increase of 108%. 

If the name of the game is funding government, you got to like what happened in the Twenties.  Because the government got fat on tax receipts.  And the richest of the rich were paying about twice the amount of taxes they were at the beginning of the decade.  That is a huge transfer of the tax burden from the poor/middle class to the rich.  And the federal debt?  It fell from about $26 billion to $17 billion.  That’s a decrease of about 35%.  Lower tax rates, tax burden transferred to the rich and a lower debt.  Wow.  Mellon was right.  Cutting tax rates on the rich works.  And it works very well.

The Eighties Economic Boom was Kicked off by Tax Cuts

Ronald Reagan was another conservative who understood business.  He defeated Jimmy Carter who was trying to win a second term.  But the malaise and stagflation of the Jimmy Carter years made him a one-term president.  To lift the nation out of recession, Reagan did like Andrew Mellon.  And cut taxes.  The top marginal rate dropped from 70% to 28% (a 60% cut).  And economic activity exploded.  Especially in Silicon Valley.  And the world went high-tech.  Electronics and computers entered our lives.  A new modern age had come.  Everyone was working.  And buying stuff.  Times were good.  Again.

At the beginning of the Reagan years the top 1% paid about 19% of all income taxes.  At the end of his second term they were paying about 27.5%.  That’s an increase of 44%.  Once again, tax cutsfor the rich transferred the tax burden from the poor/middle class to the rich.  As in the Twenties, the rich found it easier to pay their taxes rather than trying to shelter it.  Also, the lower rates encouraged a lot of entrepreneurial innovation.  We used the first cell phones and personal computers in the Eighties.  A lot of this innovation started small in someone’s garage.  And ended in an IPO on Wall Street as they took their companies public.  Lots of people got rich.  Creating a surge of upward movement through the economic classes.  Making many more rich people to tax. 

The Reagan years were an economic juggernaut.  A lot of people got rich.  But at what cost?  The debt exploded under Reagan.  So those on the Left jumped on this.  They say his tax cuts mortgaged our future.  Impoverished our children.  By not paying our bills along the way.  To that I say, “Nice try.”  That debt had nothing to do with the Reagan tax cuts.  It was a spending problem.  Federal tax receipts in 1980 were $517 billion.  After Reagan’s tax rate cuts, they jumped to $909 billion in 1988.  That’s an increase of about 76%.  Lower tax rates, tax burden transferred to the rich and a 75% increase in federal tax receipts?  Wow.  Reagan was right.  Cutting tax rates on the rich works.  And it works very well.

Conservative Policies Favor the Poor and Middle Class

So there are two great economic booms created by tax cuts.  Both periods lifted the country to a new modern age.  People’s standard of living improved across all economic classes.  And a lot people moved up through the economic classes.  Which is key to the success of tax cuts.  And the reason why those on the Left ignore this and focus instead on zero-sum policies.  Why?

Because the Left knows their economic policies don’t work.  But that’s okay with them.  For their policies aren’t about the economy.  Or your well being.  They are about political power.  There are more poor and middle class people than rich.  No matter how far you slash the top marginal tax rate.  So that’s where the votes are.  And a good way to get those votes is with class warfare.  The rich have an unfair advantage.  And with your vote, they will right that wrong.  Sounds good.  Especially if you’re not rich.  Or don’t know the history of high marginal tax rates.  Of how they transfer the tax burden from the rich to the poor and middle class.

Of course, there’s a problem with this strategy.  It transfers more and more of the tax burden to the people you need votes from.  And the more you choke off economic activity by taxing the rich, the more you starve the treasury of tax dollars from the rich.  Which means you have to come up with more and more clever ways to bleed the middle class.  And they don’t have a problem with this either.  What they have a problem with is that the middle class may figure this out one day.  And vote conservative.  Whose policies actually favor the poor/middle class.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #62: “The government’s great dilemma is that the middle class has both the money and the votes.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 19th, 2011

Figures don’t Lie but Liars Figure

Mark Twain said figures don’t lie but liars figure.  And there’s been a lot of that going around.  Lying.  Especially about taxes.  Where the rich just can’t catch a break.  They pay far more tax dollars than the poor/middle class.  Yet you wouldn’t know that based on the political rhetoric coming from the Left.  And the incessant drive to raise the top marginal tax rates.  To make the rich pay their ‘fair’ share.  Or punish them.  For being rich.  So we can lower the tax burden on the little guy.  The working class people struggling to put food on the table for their families.

Of course, anyone taking the time to crunch the numbers, or read a history book, will see something completely different.  And that the Left can only advance their agenda by lying.  Because people with a job want to keep their job.  And they see the Left’s agenda as anti-business.  And job killing.  Anytime you hear government talk about being ‘fair’ look out.  Chances are you are about to be screwed.  For their idea of fairness and equality is truly Orwellian.  The Left’s idea of equality is when they are more equal than everyone else.

So they champion the poor/middle class.  Say they are looking out for their interests.  But they’re not.  They just want their money.  And their votes.  So they’ll say whatever they think they want to hear.  Anything to maintain their positions in government.  The ruling elite.  And one of their most effective tools is class warfare.  At the heart of which is tax policy.

Taxing the Rich Transfers Tax Burden to the Middle Class

There is a fundamental misunderstanding about tax policy in America.  Everywhere, really.  You see, they’ve beaten it into our heads that the way to get the rich to pay their fair share is to increase their tax rates.  You do that and you transfer the tax burden from the poor/middle class to the rich.  The funny thing is, though, when you raise the tax rates on the rich the exact opposite happens.  You transfer the tax burden from the rich to the poor/middle class.  How can this be, you ask?  Well, let me explain.

Consider two income examples.  Someone who makes $50,000 per year.  And someone who makes $1,000,000 per year.  Based on the 2008 tax tables (with a top marginal rate of 35%), the federal income tax each pays is approximately $16,980 and $454,000, respectfully.  Now, what do you notice about these numbers?  That’s right.  The $454,000 is a lot bigger than the $16,980.  It’s over 26 times the amount of taxes the person earning $50,000 pays.  Now think about that.  If only one more person becomes a millionaire (let’s say an entrepreneur quits his day job and creates the next great invention), the government will collect the same amount in taxes it would take from 26 new $50,000/year jobs added to the economy.  Let’s say 2 venture capitalists strike it rich and both become millionaires.  They would add the same tax revenue it would take 52 new $50,000/jobs to generate.  Three new millionaires = 78 new $50,000 jobs worth of taxes.  See a pattern?  The more millionaires there are paying taxes the less the poor/middle class have to pay in taxes.  Or, conversely, the fewer millionaires are paying taxes the more the poor/middle class have to pay.  So the more millionaires there are paying taxes, the more the tax burden transfers from the poor/middle class to the rich.

Well, based on that, the best thing we can do for the poor and middle class is to make as many millionaires as possible.  And how do you do that?  It’s pretty easy.  Sort of like a dog having puppies.  They already know how to do it.  They don’t need any special help.  All they need is for us to get out of their way.  And give them a business-friendly environment.  Where a small business owner will risk his or her life savings on that business to get rich.  Or a venture capitalist will risk his or her money on an untried entrepreneur with a really good idea to get rich.  And how do you get people to take risks and invest large sums of money?  By giving them a chance to get rich in the process.  And you don’t do that with high tax rates.  Because high tax rates increase the ‘cost’ of these investments.  And when the cost gets too high, they look for other things to do with their money.  If the return on investment is taxed to the point that they can make the same return without any risk, they won’t take any risk.  And just leave their money in the bank.

The more Millionaires we have the Less Taxes the Middle Class Pays

Of course this all makes good sense.  But bad politics.  Especially on the Left.  For they are all about fairness and redistribution of wealth on the Left.  And you can’t be fair and redistribute wealth unless you demonize the rich.  Because you have to take wealth from someone before you can redistribute it.  And who has wealth?  Why, the wealthy, of course.  Who are greedy.  Who don’t pay their fair share of taxes.  And profit by exploiting the poor/middle class.  Or so goes the liberal mantra.  So to show how much they care for the poor/middle class, they try to raise taxes on the rich.  By constantly trying to raise the top marginal rates.  Of course, as noted above, doing this actually hurts the poor/middle class.  By making them pay a much larger share of the total tax burden than the rich pays.  Let’s look at some numbers.

We keep hearing about this evil 1% who has the majority of the wealth in this country.  So let’s look at this by the numbers.  One percent is one in one hundred.  So let’s assume we have 100 taxpayers.  One millionaire who earns $1,000,000 per year.  Twenty ‘poor’ people earning $15,000 per year.  And 79 ‘middle class’ people earning $50,000 per year.  Based on the 2008 tax tables, the annual income tax each owes (going from poor to rich) is approximately $4,500, $17,000 and $454,000.  Their total tax contributions (in the same order) are approximately $91,000, $1,342,000 and $454,000.  Or, as a percent of the total, 4.8%, 71% and 24%.  Please note that it’s the middle class that pays the bulk of the tax burden (71%).  Even though they each pay only a fraction of what the millionaire pays.  Because one millionaire can pay only so much.  But the ‘fraction’ 79 middle class people pay adds up.  The sum total of their taxes equals approximately three times what that millionaire pays.  Which proves the point that the fewer millionaires there are the more the poor/middle class has to pay in taxes.

Now let’s say nine people prospered very well and moved from the middle class to the rich.  There are still 20 ‘poor’ people.  But with the 10 people that now earn $1,000,000 per year, there are now only 70 middle class people earning $50,000 per year.  This changes the total tax contributions (going from poor to rich) to approximately $91,000, $1,187,000 and $4,538,000.  Or, as a percent of the total, 1.6%, 20.4% and 78%.  Now the rich are paying the vast majority of all taxes (78%).  Which proves the point that the more millionaires there are the less the poor/middle class have to pay in taxes.

Figures don’t Lie but Liberals will Figure

Well, sure, you can use all your facts and figures to show things that make sense.  But making sense doesn’t necessarily apply in politics.  Because tax policy is a lot more than just funding the government.  It’s about winning elections.  And the one great dilemma in all of politics is this.  The people with the most money to tax are in the middle class.  Because of their numbers.  They may pay less per person than the rich but their numbers add up.  And they are the largest voting bloc.  Because of their numbers.  Which presents quite the problem.  Politicians want their money.  But if they take too much of it they may lose their votes.  So what to do?  You take their money.  While making it look like you’re punishing the rich.

The more government spends the greater this problem gets.  Deficits grow larger.  Which adds to the national debt.  Interest payments on that debt take up an ever larger part of the federal budget.  Add that to out of control growth of entitlement spending and what do you get?  A big problem.  And greater deficits.  Which are getting harder and harder to finance.  Soon you’re borrowing money to pay your borrowing costs.  You need cash.  Or you need to cut spending.  And you know you’re not going to do that.  Because cutting spending doesn’t help win elections.  So you look for more cash.  And you can’t go the easy route and just create more millionaires.  Not after demonizing them so much.  Doing that would be tantamount to saying you were wrong and/or lying all these years.  Besides, the anti-business environment currently in place doesn’t encourage any risk taking by the rich.  So they’re sitting on their money.  Which leaves the middle class.  So we start hearing code words.  Fair share sacrifice.  Tax the rich.  It’s not fair to give millionaires and billionaires tax breaks paid by the poor and middle class.  This means the poor/middle class is about to get screwed.  Either by higher taxes (or reduced tax breaks and credits).  Or they’re going to raise the top marginal tax rates which will transfer more of the tax burden from the rich to the poor/middle class.

Of course, screwing the poor/middle class is what it’s all about.  The Left uses them.  All of the time.  Through lies and deceit.  For our lives would be better if we had a lot more millionaires.  And less progressive tax rates.  That encouraged more economic activity.  And created more jobs.  But the liberal left could care less about that.  Based on the evidence.  And history.  When they run for office they run as moderates.  Because they know they can’t win elections running as liberals.  Barack Obama was the most liberal senator in the Senate.  Yet when he ran some were comparing him to Ronald Reagan.  And you only lie like that for one reason.  To hide who you really are.  Tax and spend liberals.  Who have made the middle class the bank for their tax and spend policies.

So while figures don’t lie, liberals will figure.

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The Obama Budget: High Taxes, Reckless Spending and Lies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 18th, 2011

Is it how Much we Give or how Much we Could Give that Counts?

Imagine, if you would, two people standing in front of an orphanage.  There’s a donation box there.  And we can see these caring people actually count out their money before placing it in the donation box.  One counts out $20.  The other counts out $100.  Who is more generous?

Is this a trick question, you ask?  Well, yes, I guess it is.  You see, normal people, like you and me, are inclined to say the person donating the $100 is more generous.  I mean, $100 is more than $20.  $100 buys more than $20.  $100 will do more for orphans than $20.  So it sure looks like to us, the normal people, that the $100 donation is the more generous donation.  But that’s not the way government would see it.  For I left out one important piece of information.  I didn’t say how wealthy these people are.  So let’s do that now.  The $20 donation is from a UAW line worker.  The $100 donation is from a rich business owner.  Now who is more generous?

$100 will still buy more than the $20 for the orphans, but $100 is a smaller percentage of the business owner’s salary.  The $20 donation is a larger percentage of the UAW line worker’s salary.  So, people in government, and those on the Left, will say the $20 donation is the more generous donation.  Even though it will buy less for the orphans.

We Pay Tax Dollars, not Tax Rates

This is a big problem clouding the debate over ‘fair’ taxation.  Devious politicians point to tax rates and cry that the rich aren’t paying their fair share.  When, in fact, they are paying far more tax dollars than those less rich.  Even in an attack on these rich bastards shows this (see Only Little People Pay Taxes by Dave Gilson posted 4/18/2011 on Mother Jones).

Leona Helmsley’s distaste for paying taxes eventually landed her in federal prison. But the rich have little need to break the law to avoid the tax collector. As Martin A. Sullivan of Tax.com recently calculated, a New York janitor making slightly more than $33,000 a year pays an effective tax rate of nearly 25%. And the effective tax rate for a resident of the Park Avenue building named after Helmsley, earning an average of $1.2 million annually? A cool 14.7%.

And the chart following this shows the income and taxes of the Janitor and the millionaire.  And even though the millionaire pays only 14.7% in taxes, the actual tax dollars paid in income taxes is $159,515.  And how much did that janitor pay?  Just $3,168.  The cheap bastard, the millionaire, paid $156,347 more in income taxes.  That’s 4,935% more than the janitor paid in income taxes.  Yes, 14.7% is a smaller percentage than 25%, but there’s no math in the world that says the janitor paid more in income taxes than the millionaire.

There’s a difference between tax dollars and tax rates.  And tax rates don’t pay the bills.  Tax dollars do.  And the rich pay more of them by far.  Anyway saying otherwise is fostering class warfare for political purposes.  Because if it was about tax dollars to pay for federal spending, $159,515 pays for a lot more spending than $3,168. 

Low- and Middle-Income Families don’t Pay their Fair Share of Taxes

So if the rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes, who is?  And are there others, too, not paying their fair share?  Of course, that can’t be.  Because only the rich can get away with cheating the…  Hello, what’s this?  Low- and middle-income families aren’t paying any federal income taxes?  Really?  How can that be?  Wasn’t it the rich blankity blanks that were screwing the poor?  Not the other way around (see Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax by Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer, posted 4/7/2011 on Yahoo! Finance)?

About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization…

In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17, according to a separate analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte Tax.

Really?  They’ve told us that people flipping burgers for minimum wage were poor, but even people earning $50,000 are poor?  No wonder we have so many people in poverty.

The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education. It is a system in which the top 10 percent of earners — households making an average of $366,400 in 2006 — paid about 73 percent of the income taxes collected by the federal government.

The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment…

In 2007, about 38 percent of households paid no federal income tax, a figure that jumped to 49 percent in 2008, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.

No wonder the Democrats win elections.  You know there are a lot of Democrats in that 49% not paying federal income taxes.  That makes the Democrats a modern day Robin Hood.  Stealing from the rich.  And giving to the low- and middle-income.  And when you’re on the receiving end of this bounty, you’re all for class warfare.  Screw the rich, you’ll shout.  Until, God forbid, you become rich.  Just ask Nicholas CageSinbadWesley Snipes.  Or Willie Nelson.  And anyone who won the lotto.  Or a car.  Who did not realize that their bounty came with a hefty tax obligation (there’s no tax withholding for these people.  They have to write a check for all the taxes they owe).  People are stunned to learn the amount of their money the government wants.  And that isn’t fair.  But before they were rich, that was a different story.  Then nothing was fairer than sticking it to the rich.

The Rich aren’t Rich Enough to Pay all our Taxes

If the poorest half of all Americans aren’t paying any taxes, then who, exactly, is?  I mean, if the rich aren’t paying their fair share and the poor aren’t paying anything, who does that leave (see Where the Tax Money Is posted 4/17/2011 on The Wall Street Journal)?

Consider the Internal Revenue Service’s income tax statistics for 2008, the latest year for which data are available. The top 1% of taxpayers—those with salaries, dividends and capital gains roughly above about $380,000—paid 38% of taxes. But assume that tax policy confiscated all the taxable income of all the “millionaires and billionaires” Mr. Obama singled out. That yields merely about $938 billion, which is sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25% as a share of the economy, a post-World War II record.

That’s funny.  I thought the rich weren’t paying their fair share.  And in 2008 the top 1% paid 38% of all taxes.  I don’t know, but 38% sounds like a lot more than the 0% paid by the poorest 50%.  So the rich are paying a lot.  Can they pay more?  Can they pay all of our taxes?  Well, even if you confiscate all of the top 1%’s income, no.  They can’t.  They simply aren’t rich enough.

Say we take it up to the top 10%, or everyone with income over $114,000, including joint filers. That’s five times Mr. Obama’s 2% promise. The IRS data are broken down at $100,000, yet taxing all income above that level throws up only $3.4 trillion. And remember, the top 10% already pay 69% of all total income taxes, while the top 5% pay more than all of the other 95%.

The richest 10% of all Americans, including everyone making $100,000 or more, won’t do it either.  At least, they can’t fund a $4 trillion budget.  Which means there’s no way no how you can pay for government by taxing the rich.  Even if you tax them at 100%.  You see, these rich simply aren’t rich enough.  You know who is, though?  The middle class.

So who else is there to tax? Well, in 2008, there was about $5.65 trillion in total taxable income from all individual taxpayers, and most of that came from middle income earners. The nearby chart shows the distribution, and the big hump in the center is where Democrats are inevitably headed for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks.

This is politically risky, however, so Mr. Obama’s game has always been to pretend not to increase taxes for middle class voters while looking for sneaky ways to do it…

Keep in mind that the most expensive tax deductions, in terms of lost tax revenue, go mainly to the middle class. These include the deductions for state and local tax payments (especially property taxes), mortgage interest, employer-sponsored health insurance, 401(k) contributions and charitable donations. The irony is that even as Mr. Obama says he merely wants the rich to pay a little bit more, his proposals would make the tax code less progressive than it is today.

The $100-200 thousand earners are the largest group of earners in the country.  They may each make less than each of the top 1%, but their numbers are far greater.  And it adds up.  If you drop that low end to $50 thousand and the total pot of income is close to $3 trillion dollars.  That’s a lot of money to tax.  And a lot of tax deductions to disallow.  That’s the sweet spot.  The $50-200 thousand earners.  They’re just one plump, stuffed, cash piñata.  And oh how they want to whack it open.  But how to do it?  And blame the Republicans?  That is the question that faces them.

Only the Middle Class can Fund a $4 Trillion Budget

And you do this, of course, by lying.  In his speech to offer his ‘budget’ in a response to the Ryan budget, Obama said he would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years.  How?  In part with $2 trillion in spending cuts.  Which aren’t exactly all spending cuts.  They’re actually tax increases.  You see, he sees tax breaks and credits as federal spending.  Because it costs government by not having that money collected as a tax.  So he will cut that ‘spending’.  By eliminating those tax breaks and credits.  Resulting in you paying higher taxes.  And that additional money the government is ‘taking back from you’ will lower the deficit.  Confused?  You should be.  This is about as devious as it gets.

And he also said he would save $1 trillion by not renewing the Bush tax cuts.  So that’s another $1 trillion in new taxes (see Obama’s $2 trillion stealth tax hike by James Pethokoukis posted 4/17/2011 on Reuters).

If you’re keeping score, what Obama is actually proposing is $1 trillion in new taxes on wealthier Americans (and small businesses) and $1 trillion in higher tax revenues by reducing tax breaks and subsidies for a total of $2 trillion in new taxes over 12 years. That means total debt reduction, not counting interest, would be $4 trillion, 50 percent of which would come from higher taxes. The econ team at Goldman Sachs ran a similar analysis and found that 56 percent of Obama savings over ten years could come from higher tax revenue.

So that’s $2 trillion in new taxes.  And where do you think that will come from?  Not the 1%, that’s for sure.  If you took all of their money it would only get you half way there.  To raise that kind of money, you have to go to the sweet spot.  The middle class.  Including those making far less than $200,000.  You have to tax everyone making $50,000 or more.  And take away their tax breaks and credits.  Where it will really hurt.  And be political suicide.  So why promise to do just that?  Simple.  He’s not. 

The Obama plan is a non-plan.  It’s just a political tool for the 2012 election.  To show that it is the Republicans that want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Not him.  He’ll say he fought like a dog to save these entitlements.  Because he cares for you.  Unlike those nasty mean Republicans.  And entitlement spending will continue to grow unchecked.  Making it that much harder to save these programs down the road.  But this is what politicians do.  Kick the can down the road.  For someone else to worry about.  For by that time, many of the Democrats will be dead.  And won’t care anymore.

It’s not the Taxes, Stupid.  It’s the Spending.

There’s a difference between tax rates and tax dollars.  And it’s the tax dollars that are important, not the tax rates.  The rich may have a lower effective tax rate but they pay an awful lot in tax dollars.  And as tax dollars go, they’re paying more than anyone else.  Far more than half of all Americans.  Who pay $0.00 in federal income taxes.  If anyone is screwing anyone, it’s the lower 50% screwing the top 10%.  And the top 10% probably wouldn’t mind so much if we weren’t constantly demonizing them despite their generosity.

When you can’t pay for your spending by taxing everyone making $100,000 or more at 100%, you’re spending too much.  This is a spending problem pure and simple.  It’s not that the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes.  They are.  And then some.  It’s that government is just trying to buy too many votes.  If there is any greed here it is in Washington.  Their spending is out of control.  Even Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service thinks so.  They just lowered our rating from “stable” to “negative” because of the “ballooning deficit.”   Because our out of control spending threatens our future ability to service our debt.

But the Democrats have other pressing concerns on their minds.  Like winning elections.  And you win elections by spending.  Not living within your means.  And if they play it just right, the day of reckoning will come conveniently in the future.  When they’re dead.  Problem solved.  For them, at least.  Their children and grand children?  Guess they just don’t care about them.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #60: “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me again shame on public education.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 5th, 2011

The Founding Fathers’ Experiment in Self-Government

Benjamin Franklin said when the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.  Because people tend to be greedy.  And lazy.  And they don’t understand public finance.  Especially the uneducated ones.  And there were a lot of uneducated people during our founding.  The Founding Fathers worried about this.  Because governments past have always exploited the uneducated for personal gain.  Kings and lords would give the poor some alms to make them feel good about their lives of unending toil and suffering on the feudal estates.  Should you not be lucky enough to have been born with the ‘right’ last name.  The new United States of America was going to change that.  Here it wouldn’t matter who your father was.  Here, no one would be better than you.

But only if this experiment in self-government succeeded.  So they were very careful when they wrote the Constitution.  And the type of government for the new nation would not be a democracy.  Instead, they chose a representative republic.  For the Founding Fathers all feared democracies.  Which when you come down to it is nothing more than mob rule.  If the mob is racists they’ll pass racist laws.  If the mob is sexist, they’ll pass sexist laws.  And if the mob is greedy and lazy, they’ll vote themselves money from the federal treasury.  This is the risk of democracy.  All you need is a majority.  And whatever you want is yours.  No matter how destructive it is to the country.

That’s why the Founding Fathers did NOT give us a democracy.  We have intermediaries between the mob and the actual law-making.  We call these people our representatives.  At the founding, these were the best of the best.  Well educated and/or experienced.  Men of great honor and integrity.  Imbued with a selfless sense of duty.  These men went out of their way NOT to prosper from their government service.  Really.  It’s nothing at all like today where government service is nothing more than a ticket to a fat pension and early retirement.  Back then such a thought was anathema to the Founding Fathers.  Which is very evident by the type of government they created.

Indirect Elections temper the Populist Tendencies

The Constitutional Convention was a hot, miserable, long summer in Philadelphia.  There was little agreement.  No one liked the final product much.  But most agreed it was the best that they could do.  Even then the U.S. was big.  Lots of different people trying to make the final product favor their state more than the others.  And few were in favor of giving the new central government much power.  They all feared that this new central power would consolidate its power.  And regulate the states to fiefdoms in a new kingdom.  Just like in the Old World.  So they took as many opportunities to restrict federal power.  And minimize the influence of the populist mob.

The new federal government was a limited government.  It was only to do the things the states couldn’t do well.  Maintain an army and navy.  Treat with other nations.  Those things that needed a singular national identity.  Everything else was to remain with the states.  And to make sure the states would not lose their sovereignty, the states’ legislators would choose their federal senators.  The House of Representatives would have direct elections.  Being the closest to true democracy, the House risked being influenced by the mob.  The Senate, then, would be wise and prudent to temper the populist tendencies of the House.  To keep the House from doing something stupid.  Like voting the people the treasury.  (Of course, the states lost a lot their sovereignty when we changed this by amendment to a popular vote like the House.)

The president was to be elected indirectly, too.  Like the senators.  The Founders were worried that the office of the president could be easily corrupted.  So they put great restrictions on its powers.  And made it as difficult as possible for any one group or interest to ‘cheat’ and get their man into office.  Hence the indirect election.  Again, to protect their sovereignty, this fell to the states.  State legislatures would choose electors who would then vote for president.  (With quite a few close elections, there have been calls to eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with a pure popular vote.  Of course, it is usually the loser in a close election who wants this change.  If the same thing happens in a subsequent close election where they win they are quite happy with the Electoral College.)

Talented People create things to trade

The reason the Founders wanted so many people between the voters and the actual law-making is to keep people from voting irresponsibly.  The federal budget is pretty big.  And people see that it is big.  They figure that because they pay taxes, there’s no reason why they can’t have stuff from the federal government.  In a true democracy, the people could vote to cut taxes and increase spending.  They could vote themselves a monthly stipend to live on and quit their jobs.  An uneducated mob can easily do this.  Who wouldn’t want to get a paycheck for doing nothing AND pay less in taxes?  It’s very attractive.  If I ran for office on such a platform a lot of people would probably vote for me.  But there’s a problem with such generosity.  You see, government can’t give money to people unless they take money from other people first.

There appears to be a popular misconception about public finance.  Many believe that government has a stash of cash that they can give out whenever they please.  And that this stash of cash has mystical power.  That it’s endless.  And when they give it away more just magically appears.  But the government has no money.  The public treasury isn’t filled with the government’s money.  It’s filled with our money.  That’s our tax dollars in there.  Or it’s borrowed money.  Borrowed money that costs interest.  Paid with our tax dollars.  Or it’s printed money.  Money created out of nothing.  Which makes our money worth less.  Which makes everything we buy more expensive.  We call this inflation.  You just can’t print money.  Because it just dilutes the purchasing power of the money already in circulation.  It’s like a bartender selling you whisky from a bottle that’s one part water and 4 parts whisky.  It not only tastes bad.  But you’ll have to pay more to get the same buzz from an honest bartender.

The reason why printing money doesn’t work?  Because it isn’t the money we want.  It’s the things that money can buy that we want.  Who sits in an empty room and enjoys looking at big piles of cash?  No one.  Take the cash out of your wallet or purse and see how long you can stare at it.  Probably not long.  Why?  Because it’s boring.  We don’t enjoy the cash.  We enjoy the things in the room we trade that cash for.  And this is key.  We trade.  We are traders.  Always have been.  And always will be.  We started out bartering for things.  You traded something you built (this is important) for something someone else built (equally important).  Talented people who created things met to trade.  And we still do this today.  The money just makes it easier to trade.  But this would not be possible if we all lived on a government stipend and nobody worked.  Because if no one worked, there would be no things to buy.  We would be sitting in an empty room staring at piles of useless money.

A Public Educational System that doesn’t Educate but Indoctrinates

The Founding Fathers understood all of this.  And they framed the Constitution accordingly.  They limited the powers of the federal government.  Minimized the amount of actual democracy/mob rule.  And minimized the amount of money in the federal treasury.  For they were capitalists.  They knew money left in the private sector stimulated local economies.  People created useful things.  Brought them to market.  And traded these useful things for other useful things.  That’s the way things were.  It’s not how they are now.  Politicians today are in politics for personal gain.  They pander to the voters.  Buy and sell favors.  Enrich themselves in the process.  And leave a swath of destruction in their wake.  And how are they able to do this?  Because the government has become more of a democracy than a representative republic.

Along the way the educational system failed.  Probably starting in the Sixties.  With the hippies in college.  Who went on to teach in the Seventies.  We spent less time on reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.  And more on American white guilt for what happened to the Native Americans and a slave economy.  We learned less about the Founding Fathers.  And more about the people they wronged.  We learned less about American culture and more about diversity and multiculturalism.  We learned less about American Exceptionalism and more about American Imperialism.  We learned less about Western Civilization and more about ‘enlightened’ oppressive socialism.  We learned less about capitalism and more about the ‘fair’ redistribution of wealth.  Let’s face it.  Kids in school didn’t have a chance.  Their teachers were no longer teaching how America got to be exceptional.  They were teaching that America was anything but exceptional.  That we were guilty of every crime and injustice you could think of.  That America needed to change.  And that they, the young, our future, could make that change happen.

So the dumbing down of America began.  For those unable to escape the indoctrination of the new public education.  And the growth of government took off.  In fact, you can say that as society became ‘less American’ they became more dependent on government.  Where once rugged individualists dominated the land their numbers are thinning.  As slick politicians lure more people by the siren song of an easy life provided by government benefits.  And these politicians find the lie easier to sell with a public educational system that doesn’t educate but indoctrinates.  In fact, it’s quite an incestuous relationship.  The politicians spend more and more money on education.  The money goes to the teachers.  The teachers belong to unions.  The teachers’ unions support and donate to Democrat candidates.  So some of that tax money spent on education goes right back to the politicians that just increased educational spending.  And the teachers, eager to keep a good thing going, teach their students to become good Democrat voters.  Instead of teaching them about the three Rs, the Founding Fathers, American culture, American Exceptionalism, Western Civilization and capitalism.  As the standardized test scores show.  And does their irresponsible voting.

A Rising Sun or a Setting Sun 

America is fast approaching a crossroads.  People have learned that they can vote themselves money.  And have.  Politicians are pandering to these people for personal gain.  Offering to spend more and more money that we just don’t have.  Bringing us closer and closer to the end of the republic. 

Ben Franklin sat through that insufferable summer in Philadelphia.  Swatted at the giant horseflies in the hall.  He was old and his time was short.  He sat quietly during much of the debates.  Often staring at the sun carved into George Washington‘s chair.  He wondered if it was a rising sun.  Or a setting sun.  He saw it as symbolic of their little experiment in self-government and the work they were doing in that hall.  Was this already the end of their noble experiment?  Or was it just the beginning?  After the delegates voted to send the new Constitution to the states for ratification he breathed a sigh of relief.  For it was a rising sun.

I guess that question is once again open to debate.

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