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Drew Bixby

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At what point are the amount of taxes on the rich considered "fair"?

LIberals and Democrats in the US are constantly arguing that the rich are not paying their "fair" share. What is that ideal rate/process? At what point is it "fair"? I don't just mean how would they tweak it, but what would be their ideal end goal at which they would say, "Yes, those taxes are fair"? I am looking for genuine answers, so please withhold snarky comments about taxes, politicians, rich and such.

Two proposals from people below so far:
1) A graduated tax rate where all income over $500,000 is taxed at 10 times the tax rate for the lowest income earners.
2) A 91% tax on all income earned over $2,000,000.
Would Liberals and Democrats consider either one of these "fair"?

Topics: fair rich taxes
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    Aug 13 2011: The term “fair” needs to be applied broadly. It is not reasonable to be fair in some aspects but not in others. To talk about a “fair” tax for the rich without considering the unfairness in opportunities and resources is like keeping very careful score during a football game where one team always plays uphill and the other downhill.

    Another consideration is “fair” wage or earnings. Most low and middle income people have little say in what they earn while the rich are quite often able to determine their own compensation because of power, influence and connections. Our system of compensation has little to do with quality of contribution in many areas. The market keeps wages low for the masses and lets the rich but places few limits on the earnings of the rich.

    Use of resources also needs to be brought into any discussion of “fair.” Rich people have much larger carbon (and other) footprints and consume far more energy and natural resources that lower income folks. They also use government funded projects and services like airports and stadiums more often that average folks.

    We have an economic system that is inherently unfair. It would seem reasonable to tax discretionary income (income above that required for the basics) at a level that meets expenditures. There is no real discussion regarding the actual function of government, at least in the US. One party says reduce taxes and spend no more and the other party seems unable to agree on any coherent philosophy. The argument about bigger or smaller government has no meaning without the specifics. The U.S. needs a national discussion of the role of government and then needs to set tax rates to support that as it changes and evolves over time. The most fair way to do that in my opinion would be a graduated percentage of discretionary income.
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      Aug 13 2011: I absolutely agree that there needs to be a discussion of the role of government. But I think the tax rate needs to be considered at the same time and not after. This is the same logic as a family which balances where it spends its money while knowing their income has a limit. They don't decide their expenses then go find a job to cover those costs. Although the government has the ability to increase taxes, there are other costs to increased taxes and increased taxes does not always translate to more money.
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        Aug 19 2011: Drew--

        If a member(s) of the hypothetical family you refer has millions of dollars while:

        - the majority of it can't find sustainable work
        - the majority of their children are being raised by a single parent (with time-strapped earning opportunity)
        - nearly half of the children in it live in poverty
        - nearly all of the family members who volunteered to fight for the family will experience homelessness and/or mental health problems
        - one in five people in the family can't afford health insurance
        - their yard is toxic and/or the house is falling apart

        Would it not be a prudent move for him to use his ability to help his family?

        Perhaps cut back on his leisure (or lobbying) budget, stay home long enough to notice the living humans his holding back might be hurting, and throw a little excess cash into the family budget while they try to resolve the real-time problems they face?

        Perhaps if he could see how his legacy is wrapped up in their success he could embrace something far more bigger than his big bankbook--his family's shared humanity, as well, perhaps, as his own.

        Andrea
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          Aug 19 2011: The point is that resources are limited. That will always be the case. I would also argue (though this will never be proven) that even if you taxed everyone 100% of all income and assets, we would still have the issues you mention above. Of course, if you taxed everyone 100% you would have many more problems, so where is the line that Democrats and Liberals would consider acceptable? I would hope that they would realize 100% was too much as there would be no incentive to work and the economy would falter. Obviously, its not enough now. So, where in between there is what they would consider "fair"?
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          Aug 19 2011: One a separate note, your argument assumes that money is the solution to those problems. I would argue quite the opposite. It is a matter of attention, non-monetary resources, and (most of all) education which is needed for those.
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        Aug 19 2011: Drew --

        No, the point is about the gap between rich and poor. Resources aren't limited in the least. They are being held hostage by power-players. Whose endless defense of their money misses the point:

        Greed is a symptom of poverty of thought. Some--not all--have lost touch with humans, including their own families and selves. And/or, as Warren Buffets points up, they are being manipulated by political games.

        I'm hypothesizing the capacity of a person of means to use a bit of their excess means to save their families as an act of honorable legacy.

        Consider a hospital emergency room. Luckily someone noticed you were in cardiac arrest and brought you in. Its unclear if not unlikely you have insurance, based on you happening through an impoverished area right while you start feeling pains.

        Should the doctor wait to see if you'll have to incentive to pay the hospital back before he treats you? What if the doctor has heard about your type and doesn't like the way you do things? What if the doctor is a different ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political belief than you?

        Should she ask the hospital controller to bring her financials to pore over while you flounder and die?

        And instead treat the man in the room who is histrionic--much more than you are--about a relatively mild pain in shoulder? But, who the doctor knows from previous experience has good insurance that will allow him to do more tests than usual , and thus make even more money for the hospital?

        If you assume money provides no solutions, why do you assume millionaires accumulate it? Do they buy insurance with it? Shelter? Food? Tuition?

        And regards your solution: how do you propose attention, non-montary resources and education can be delivered to solve these problems?

        Andrea
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          Aug 19 2011: So do you believe that if we taxed 100% of income all those problems you mentioned would go away?

          (Just as a side, look at all the money Bill Gates has put into education (including money from Buffett) and had little notable effect.)
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          Aug 19 2011: In answer to you last question, does it cost any money to mentor a child? To read to a child? Does it cost money to give someone a hug? To listen to them? To show them good eating habits? Some things will take money, but don't be blinded by money as a panacea when it is far from it. This is all getting away from the main question, but there are absolutely some PROVEN ways to make a difference that do not involve money.
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        Aug 19 2011: Drew,

        Please provide specific details on the non-funded proven solutions you cite.

        Andrea
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          Aug 19 2011: I did, but I will repeat the ones I suggested. Hugs, reading, listening, mentoring, showing good eating habits.
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        Aug 19 2011: Thank, Drew,

        As you provide proof, please include specific, quantifiable evidence that shows how hugs, reading, listening, mentoring and showing good eating habits has for sustained periods, solved problems in cultures where:

        - most people can't find sustainable work
        - most children are being raised by a single parent (with time-strapped earning opportunity)
        - nearly half (or more) of its children live in poverty
        - most volunteer veterans experience homelessness and/or mental health problems
        - one in five (or more) people in the family can't afford health insurance
        - the environment is toxic and/or natural resources are depleted
        - the infrastructure is falling apart

        Andrea
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          Aug 19 2011: Here is a government publication with many citations for you on the benefits of reading and speaking to children early. http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/startearly/ch_1.html

          Another study about reading: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2834196/
          Here is one part of this study: "Thus, the assessment of the relationship between home literacy environment and vocabulary is particularly promising. For example, research has highlighted the importance of varied and repetitive word use in the home, an example of the shared environment, showing a positive correlation between number of words heard and vocabulary in young children (Hart & Risley, 1995; Weizman & Snow, 2001)."
          There are other studies that show the correlation between vocabulary and intelligence. Others that link intelligence with work, parenting, and many of the root causes of the items you mention. This doesn't even mention how improving intelligence across the board would reduce the drain on other resources that could then be redirected to healthcare, infrastructure, etc.

          So, can you answer my question above which was more to the point of the original question: So do you believe that if we taxed 100% of income all those problems you mentioned would go away?
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        Aug 19 2011: Drew,

        This is a useful dialogue but you're stuck on this "100% tax" red-herring rhetoric.

        Let's move beyond.

        I'm aware of statistics regards early reading and correlations to vocabulary skills. I've used them in published pieces, including: http://sparkaction.org/node/2923.

        The government study you cite was funded by taxes. The others, if completed in whole or in part in conjunctions with universities, were funded in part by taxes, too.

        Likely think tanks were involved somehow, if not as funders, as distributors of the research. An academic researcher I know, works closely with one of the biggest conservative think tanks in the country. They rely on tremendous sums of money to fund research on schools. I've met one-on-one with their leader. I'm understating it when I say their take involves far fewer hugs and far more politics than yours does.

        A recent example: some were involved in a $10,000 golf outing with John Boehner and John Kline a Congressman on the Education committee when they participated in campaign events in my state this week.

        So while I think hugs, family, talking, listening model for children would be ideal, even communicating these models requires engagement of these power circles. Which create what they create and measure outcomes of what they do, whether we like it or not, in economic venues and vernaculars.

        I want to go back to your thoughts on my Q. How has (or can) solutions you note, for sustained periods, solve(d) problems in cultures like ours, where:

        - most people can't find sustainable work
        - most children are being raised by a single parent (with time-strapped earning opportunity)
        - nearly half (or more) of its children live in poverty
        - most volunteer veterans experience homelessness and/or mental health problems
        - one in five (or more) people in the family can't afford health insurance
        - the environment is toxic and/or natural resources are depleted
        - the infrastructure is falling apart

        Andrea
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          Aug 22 2011: I appreciate the discussion. I'm "stuck" on the 100% question because it is relevant to the overall question, which was what is a "fair" tax rate. Yes, I agree that money is needed for lots of problems. I don't know what other answer you are looking for from me.

          My point above was that money by itself is not the answer and certainly not the only answer. In contrast, you said earlier , "resources aren't limited in the least". I take from that statements that you think there are more than enough financial resources to solve all the problems you list. So, presumably you are saying if we redistributed all the money, all the problems would be fixed. can you set me straight on this? Then, how does this translate to taxes?
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      Aug 22 2011: Drew,

      No. I don't believe in 100% tax.

      Resources, in terms of human and economical assets are not the problem in the U.S. Politics and power is the problem. When leaders stop playing political and power games by using overwrought rhetoric that swings from black (100% tax) to white (no taxes) is when the U.S. government could begin doing its job. Which is to serve all citizens, not just those who parrot us v. them rhetoric.

      It's job is to "form a more perfect union" for the people and by the people.

      To form a more perfect union politicians and citizens need to stop the semantical games and get asses behind developing:

      1. our human assets (our people and children) and,
      2. economic assets -- namely with wealth that is disproportionately and increasing distributed to rich people and the rich industries controlled by money and power. A good start? Getting serious about the ironies between a 650 million dollar military budget and drastic decreases to K-12 budgets.

      In my mind, people and politicians who propagate zero-sum answers by filibustering with go-nowhere questions without showing sincere effort to see the whole picture (which includes taxes and equity) are this countries biggest problem.

      Andrea
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    Aug 10 2011: Drew,

    An excellent Q. In my state, Minnesota, our government shut down due to a quibble around raising taxes 3% on only citizens who earn $1 million each year. I spoke with executives of large international corporations who told me they felt this was entirely reasonable. It appears the logic of the proposal was not lacking the least. Political strategy however, doesn't always listen to citizen logic.

    Andrea
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      Aug 10 2011: I agree. I think many rich would be willing to pay more; however, they need to know where the line is. Frankly, part of my question lies in the belief that if Conservatives and rich know "here is the point at which we will not ask for more", they would be willing to give more (and probably more than most Liberals would expect). What concerns them is an ever-changing expectation for them to give more and more with no clear end. So, rather than asking for more, let's discuss the ultimate end goal and work from there.
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        Aug 10 2011: Drew,

        Not sure I agree the conservative party is as concrete about these things as you suggest.

        In Minnesota the compromise they gave to the 3% tax on people earning more than $1 million dollars a year was to borrow from the future revenues from education.

        This is a double standard.

        Ironically a republican I know who collaborates with heads of GE, et al, is working with other CEOs to get more money for tech education. But politicians don't want to hear it. And, if politicians are funded by, say, foreign tech corporations, this might help explain why.

        Meanwhile: citizens, children, schools and small business owners are left wondering what ever-changing financial burdens politicians will force on education next election cycle. How children will be prepared to work in a global economy and be future tax-payers when schools are forced to continue sacrificing our children's futures, to pay for the sins of pop's political power games.

        I co-founded a tech-company in 1993. One of our funders later sold the company he ran for $250M. He distributed 20% of sales proceeds to his employees. Everyone, from secretary to senior execs got a share of his wealth, which they created with him.

        Why? Because this leader knew he could never have created the company he did without them.

        He is one of those rich people willing to pay his share. And has tried to convince political folks to fund the education of children. Beyond that he donates millions and volunteers his time to educate future tax payers. Not for his wealth. For theirs.

        I'd like conservatives to spend less time protecting their pocketbooks and prove they can create posterity planning. I suspect they have the math skills, but apply them in analysis-paralysis to confuse citizens and funders to buy vote-gatting vaporware.

        Here is what investors I know would demand:

        What ROI can politicians promise citizens in return for the regressive policies they are peddling?

        Andrea
  • Aug 9 2011: Instead of saying 'raising taxes', why can't we say increasing corporate social responsibility?


    Rich people shouldn't pay more just because they are richer. They should pay the same as everybody else.

    It discourage growth and progress, however, we can encourage or regulate for corporate social responsibility.

    Otherwise, it will create hate between rich and not rich or even poor people leading to some social problems.
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      Aug 9 2011: Shokrullah, thank you for your thoughts. Why change the name? If we are "raising taxes", then let's call it that.

      When you say "[rich] should pay the same as everybody else", what do you mean? Same dollar amount? Same percentage of income? Keep in mind that the top 50% of income earners pay over 90% of income taxes and there is a notable percentage of income earners who pay no income tax. That would not meet either of those calculations. So, what is the calculation that is "fair"? Let's get away from general statements and let's get to calculable numbers and/or percentages.
      • Aug 9 2011: Dear Drew;

        When you say Tax, it appears expense, or it appears like it is taken by force.

        When I changed the word tax to corporate social responsibility, then it means indirect investment, help, supporting humanity, generosity, and so forth.

        This is also success for rich people in helping their society, government, and rest of the world.
        • Aug 9 2011: Sounds like a pipe dream to me.

          Ask those who act like sociopaths to play nice, is that the plan?
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          Aug 9 2011: Using the term "social responsibility" for taxes is disrespectful to people who are really socially responsible. A socially responsible would direct the money where necessary without being required to do it. Unless you are suggesting that these "social responsibility investments" are voluntary, I think "tax" is appropriate because it IS taken by law (i.e. by force, if you will).
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          Aug 22 2011: Drew,

          And who, specifically, are these people who are really social responsible who feel disrespected by the term "social responsibility?"

          Andrea
      • Aug 9 2011: "Keep in mind that the top 50% of income earners pay over 90% of income taxes" - Drew Bixby

        Could it be that they pay that amount because they have that percentage of income. And keep in mind that that 90% figure doesn't include other taxes like FICA, medicare, UI, etc. of which the uber rich pay almost 0%.

        If they can afford to pay then they should. I own a business and I have no problem with paying taxes because I see the long view. I am sick and tired of some companies taking huge tax deductions and getting huge deals in terms of low cost government leases or other forms of corporate welfare, in essence privatizing their profits while socializing the risk and costs to the taxpaying public.

        If you are going to consider the picture, at least frame it so we get a wide angled view and not the close up. Include all tax burdens.

        Did you know that if you include all costs (that is adding all public and private costs) in the USA as compared to Canada for what is paid for, that Canadians have a lower cost burden that Americans and they get more updated infrastructure, health care, lower cost education, etc.

        Our system is horribly inefficient.
      • Aug 10 2011: Dear Jaffrey, If the law can take tax, why can't they push for corporate social resposibility?
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          Aug 10 2011: When you can figure out how to push individuals to become social responsible, then tackle corporations (which are comprised of individuals). I still content that "push" and "socially responsible" do not mix as per my other comments.
      • Aug 10 2011: Dear Drew;

        Increasing corporate social responsibility is branding for corporations too, it is neither tax nor expense, it is investment and success for business.
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          Aug 10 2011: I completely agree with your comment: "Increasing corporate social responsibility is branding for corporations too, it is neither tax nor expense, it is investment and success for business.".

          That said, social responsibility is not something you can force. Forcing or requiring it takes away the "responsibility" part of it in my opinion. If you are not forcing or requiring it, then it doesn't necessarily relate to the discussion.
      • Aug 11 2011: Dear Drew, I agree with you.

        To sum up. I don't agree that the percentage of tax should be increased on rich. I just wanted to exhibit that, Tax is also success, particularly if it is spend in right direction.

        Like spending on having a peaceful, politically stable, a growing business environment.

        Further, I don’t have complete information on % taxation on rich and poor.

        Richness is not just having money, it is also giving.

        Thank you and a lot of respect
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    Aug 8 2011: Hello Drew Bixby, great question!

    I agree with jeffrey friesen. Equitatite taxes are the fairest. Rich people shouldn't pay more just because they are richer. They should pay the same as everybody else.

    There is a problem when we determine that from the moment we start making more than a determined amount of money (two times minimal wage, for example) we should pay more taxes, because in this case people who, by their work of a lifetime, get a promotion, for example, from the moment they start receiving more money, they start paying more taxes.

    What I want to say is that some taxes on the richer could "kill" this person's life work and deserved promotion by taxiing the money he/she makes.

    I guess that, even though I said that the fairest taxes would be equitative taxes, I also believe that, especially in this time of crisis, some "tax cuts" should be implemented but in this case they should be on the poorest, because they are the ones who suffer with this crisis.
    • Aug 9 2011: Keep in mind that income taxes,, be they income or asset based, are the ONLY taxes that are based on your ability to afford them.

      All other taxes, like sales taxes for example, are regressive and are based on your need to purchase food or services, or pay for your property...

      They are the only tax that have the ability to pay for them built in. If I make 250,000 a year and have to pay a percentage of that, it is based on the fact that I have 250,000 to draw upon to pay that fair share of societies costs, costs that have supported the infrastructure that make that 250,000 possible.
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        Aug 9 2011: Aren't sales taxes, sin taxes especially, also based on your ability to afford it? Don't they also have the added benefit that in some cases, you can opt out of the tax by not buying the good or pay less by going for a less expensive option?
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      Aug 19 2011: Drew --

      My thoughts --
      Buffet's leadership, not his private wealth, will be his most powerful legacy.

      His "Stop Coddling the Rich" commentary confirms themes of a conversation I had with business executives, covered in this blog from a few weeks back:

      http://bit.ly/n63rhb

      Andrea
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        Aug 19 2011: I hope his leadership does become his legacy.
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    Aug 9 2011: For some historical perspective:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/festival/2010/10/video-malcolm-gladwell.html

    Adjust for inflation, and I would consider that more fair than the present system.

    Are you arguing that there is no such thing as fairness?
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      Aug 10 2011: I am not arguing anything. I am simply asking the questions because, in theory, there should be some point as which LIberals and Democrats say, "yes, that's fair" (at least as far as taxes go).
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      Aug 10 2011: So, per Bill's suggestion, essentially a 91% tax on income over $2 million (adjusted for inflation). Thank you Bill, for one the second actual proposal in answer to my question. What do others think about this. Would LIberals and Democrats consider this "fair"?
  • Aug 8 2011: Does it work and benefit most people generally is what I mean.

    One cannot measure the benefit to an individual of a collective good. Resources worth billions should not be sold/leased for pennies on the dollar of their worth. Bridges that fall down because we don't maintenance them are good to no one. And the US national defense budget (we have been stuck without provocation 2 times in 200 years)? While one could argue that it is worth every penny, perhaps we don't need a navy that is larger than the next 15 largest navies on the planet combined (13 of those being long standing allies). Perhaps we should only spend enough to have the largest navy by a factor of ... 3?

    The larger question for me has to do with how much taxes is fair to the rich, but rather how much revenue is needed to provide a decent education, health care, and safety net for all of our citizens combined with a reasonable spending plan where, if we need cuts, we look at the big ticket items first and stop with the security theatre we currently employ. Do we really need 720 permanent overseas military bases?

    Or we could just experiment a bit and find out if the hollow threat that the rich trot out (along with the lie of hoarders being job creators - snort - it is to laugh) of leaving if taxes go up, and see if they do. If they are that fickle then they will move back the second we drop them a bit. I propose that we have an empirical experiment and find out what rate will get rid of them, er, excuse me, encourage them to create jobs.
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    Aug 26 2011: What do people think about reducing (not eliminating) the mortgage deduction?
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    Aug 20 2011: Relevant:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare---the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over?xrs=share_copy

    There's a saying that "having money isn't everything, not having money is." There are diminishing marginal returns to wellbeing from money, just as there are diminishing marginal returns to wellbeing from air or food or water. "Having water isn't everything, not having water is." Same idea.

    So imagine that 1/5 of the population owned 84% of the water, and that 2/5 of the population owned .3% of the water. They are dying of thirst, while the rest of us have far more than we need. Society as a whole would be made absolutely better off by giving some of the water from low-need areas (water-rich) to high-need areas (water-poor), because money is a large "limiting factor" for wellbeing for poor people. No, money isn't a panacea, just as air isn't a panacea.

    But it is still absurd for 2/5 of the population to suffer hypoxia-induced brain damage while the rest of the population is getting high in oxygen bars. It's not healthy or just or fair, and I don't want to live in a society that allows some people to suffer permanent brain damage unnecessarily. Money and water and air are all necessary, but not sufficient, to be healthy in this society.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203092429.htm
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      Aug 22 2011: Thank you. Your point is taken on the income disparity, but how does this address the question? Should we not discuss tax until we get the dispartity eliminated? Is the tax the way to eliminate it? Are you saying there will never be a "fair" tax as long as there is a disparity? What is the relationship of this data and how does it translate to an answer to the question?
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        Aug 22 2011: No,

        We should not discuss tax to death while fellow citizens flounder. We should start doing to eliminate disparities.

        How much tax seems fair to you, Drew?

        Andrea
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          Aug 22 2011: I don't have a sense of what is fair for taxes. (Not to be snarky, but that is why I asked the question. I hear people saying "taxes on the rich are not fair", but I do not hear what they would consider fair.)

          Why not discuss tax if it is arguably a way to help eliminate disparities?
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          Aug 22 2011: What the Obama administration is proposing would be fair.

          They are asking for a combination of closing loopholes, increasing the capital gains tax rate from 15% to something around 22% and increasing taxation on income earned over the $1,000,000 to something like 35%.

          All the current tax breaks given to the super rich give them an unfair advantage to become expodentially richer without providing much if any benefit to others.

          Read Warren Buffet's op-ed piece in the NYT to get a sense as to what the current taxation laws allow the super rich to do to avoid paying their fair share of taxes:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=2
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        Aug 22 2011: Drew --

        Discussion is always cheaper than action.

        And I'm not willing to invest any more time with what seems to me not much more than an exercise in either navel-gazing or analysis-paralysis while real people struggle.

        If you find evidence of real action that benefits real citizens I'll be interested to hear of it. But if all you can offer is more stuck-in-circular logic and/or no-end question cycles, please spare us both by not engaging me in the perseveration process.

        I need to focus energies away from your dialogue. In places I think my efforts can result in more evidence that real people are treated with equity.

        All best,

        Andrea
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    Aug 18 2011: Here is one take on the wealth disparity in the US. The wealthiest 1/5 own 84% of the country's wealth, and the bottom 2/5ths own 0.3% of the country's wealth.

    Most rich people don't understand the extent of inequality in the US, because they compare themselves with their neighbors and friends, who are more often than not similarly situated.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec11/makingsense_08-16.html?32
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    Aug 10 2011: Tax laws are about as complicated it gets when it comes to government legislation. I cannot understand the web of loopholes and exceptions and exemptions and addendums, etc. It's just impossible to understand. I think a progressive sales tax that is capped at 36% for the richest would be better than what we have now.

    i also think there should be a surtax on luxury items including 2nd homes (with some loopholes) luxury cars over $75,000 (with some loopholes) yachts, etc. Nothing outrageous - just an additional 3-5%.

    I also think there should be stronger incentives for using alternative energy and disincentives for fuel guzzling

    I also think I want to live on an island small enough to bike everywhere.
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      Aug 10 2011: Jim,

      Few people but tax lawyers and CPAs understand taxes, and some of them struggle with all the ever-changing iterations. Rich people don't understand them much better than non-rich taxpayers.

      The challenge is that all these convolutions require government regulation. More regulations equals more financial burden on Government. Government is paid by taxes.

      People who hire tax lawyer or CPA to find loopholes while calling for fewer taxes on their income are talking from both sides of their mouths.

      Andrea

      P.S. The island you speak of is Belize. I once had escape to it to rest from too much talk about budgets, etc...
      . .
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        Aug 11 2011: Yes, and those PAC's that are currently screaming loudest for tax changes are the ones that already milk the current system dry for rich clients - and them. Money. I hope against hope that the reasoning of Obama finally falls on listening ears.

        I've never been to Belize... But just got back from Chebeague Island in Casco Bay off Maine and loved it. Free bikes at the Inn... priceless... I really think there are hundreds of small islands everywhere that I could easily settle down on, if it weren't for the business of money. We also spend time each year in the winter on Isla Mujeres in Mexico...A beautiful place.

        Maybe there's a little island somewhere called Tax Haven.
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    Aug 9 2011: I enjoy the conversation, but I have not seen any proposals so far on what the numbers, percentages, or calculations should be. Suggestions? What is a fair rate of tax on the rich? Would 80% of income be "fair"? 100% on income over a certain amount? 20% higher sales tax for rich? 10% asset tax? Please give me some numbers because I'd like to understand what "fair" means to Liberals and Democrats.
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        Aug 10 2011: Thank you for the first answer with numbers! The proposal is basically a graduated rate, with income over $500 taxed at 10x the tax rate for the lowest income earners. Would Liberals and Democrats consider this "fair"?
  • Aug 9 2011: Sin taxes are not, to the best my knowledge, added to food and other essentials.

    To clarify income tax is the only tax that is only based on the payers ability to pay it. One earns the money and thus has a percentage available to them to pay. With sin taxes and other sales taxes one can only afford to pay them IF one has the income to afford them. The ability to pay them is not intrinsically linked to the ability to pay it. I hope this helps. I hate it when I misplace words in a sentence but I have dyslexia, so grammar happens.

    There are many folks, such as the poor, children and elderly, especially in these times of rampant inflation, that are losing the ability to afford sales taxes (or property taxes especially for the retired - and especially in Tx, no?) because they can't even afford the items that the sales taxes are added to.

    If someone has an income of $5000 then they won't pay income tax, but they will still need to pay sales taxes on subsistence items.

    I hope this clarification helps.
  • Aug 8 2011: I suspect that the rich would say that zero taxes are too much and based on the corporate tax rates (real) and the amount that is given in government largess to these investors via the companies they own, they are doing well in making sure that their opinion on this holds sway.

    However I would be happy to go back to the effective rates in 1980 or 1983 under St. Ronnie of Raygun.

    What is fair? I would be happier with equitable. Those who receive the most benefit from the use of public resources and infrastructure should pay the most to support it. Or they should just admit that they are parasites.

    What are your thoughts on this subject?
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      Aug 8 2011: I'm not trying to be facetious, but I am asking the question because I don't have a strong opinion (yet) and I really want to know.

      When you say, "happier with equitable", what does that mean? How do you measure the benefit to an individual of national defense or interstate infrastructure or public resources?
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      Aug 8 2011: BUT companys like GE and shell paid $0 in taxes this last year.

      i have been writing this on dollar bills latley, so people feel there dollar is worth more, or something.
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          Aug 8 2011: we could not vote people in who support and profit from such act, i.e. just about everyone. lol

          btw, sweet quote, never heard it. i like it.
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          Aug 8 2011: ya it basically the companys with the biggest lobbys and ties IN goverment is what is shooting america in the knees. another good fact, who was on the corporate board of directors for walmart at one point in time? hillary clinton, fromm 1986–1992
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        Aug 8 2011: Just to clarify, they may pay no federal income tax, but they do pay medicare and social security taxes on wages. They also provide jobs to people who (presumably) pay taxes. That said, I'll also point out that large corporations are only a percentage of jobs. A sizable percentage of jobs come from small and medium businesses.
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          Aug 8 2011: this is true, but this years tax break for GE alone added up to about 1.1bil
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          Aug 8 2011: i think, as we have the seperation of church and state, we need a seperation of corporation and state. or something like that. lobbys are killing us. BUT to drew, did you know GE this year moved a entire factory from the midwest ot mexico. jobs down the drain.
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          Aug 13 2011: Drew--

          Note that Medicare and Social Security is under attack by conservatives. Utah congressman Chaffetz is on this tilt of late. Of course, he is not the only one. And if they succeed, what exactly is it that corporations will provide?

          Andrea
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          Aug 22 2011: Again, Drew.

          If corporate leaders are funding efforts to reduce Medicare and Social Security, what economic benefits are their corporations providing citizens?

          Andrea
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        Aug 8 2011: Tim, the real question about the 1.1billion should be:what were those tax credits for? If they were for 100,000 jobs which ultimately brought in 1.5 billion in taxes on those individuals, are they worth it? What if they brought in 3 billion in extra taxes, would you still be against a break? [I am not claiming any validity to this. I am just giving an example.]
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          Aug 9 2011: Why should the middle class subsidize jobs for large corporations when the corporations themselves profit from creating jobs? Why does a corporation need extra incentives beyond profits. I see no reason why a corporation that created 100,000 jobs shouldn't pay the full tax on their profits in the same way a small business person who created 10 jobs would.
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        Aug 8 2011: Birdia & Tim, I am not trying to defend corporations, but I think some points need to be considered. Remember that the profits of GE DO theoretically get taxed, they get taxed when distributed to the shareholders. Of those shareholders are Americans with mutual funds and retirements savings. [That said, not all the income gets distributed or distributed to US taxpayers.] As such, US taxpayers are getting hit with double-taxation on income from investments in corporations that get taxed. Is that double-taxation fair?
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          Aug 8 2011: i think, in the end, it leave more out than in, making it unfair. i would be all for tax breakes for company than generated real jobs for the people, but with GE moving jobs south of the border, shell and other companys and there INSANE enviromental impacts, and even walmart driving down quality of pretty much everyhting and killing local job growth, SOMETHING is not working. and no ones doing anything about it
        • Aug 9 2011: The late great actor, Jack Lemmon donated his time every summer to teach summer stock and theater guild classes to up and coming actors in NYC every summer for most of his life. I eschewed publicity for these selfless acts.

          When asked once in an interview why he did it with no publicity or payment or renumeration at all he said that acting had been VERY good to him and that when he was coming up there were excellent and talented and experienced actors and prop men and costumers and set designers who gave freely of their time to a young kid with a ton of stupid questions. They answered all of his questions and gave him the confidence to keep going. And so he was a success with all the fame and wealth that went with that.

          And then he said something that has stuck in my mind ever since. He said that it is the responsibility of every person who reaches the top to realize that they stand on the shoulders of giants and that they MUST send the elevator that brought them to the top floor back down for the next person.

          And that is what these corporate dudes seem to have forgotten; to send the elevator back down.
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          Aug 9 2011: Transparency 1, Drew makes a good point to ask what the 1.1b tax break implies and corps like GE have the real power; tax break or we go.

          Transparency 2. Taxes system is from the past where it was the only way to handle 'administration' on; a city based list of people and companies with numbers behind them. Birdia raises CSR, which can be updated at the same time; X amount goes to run the nation, Y amount for the mega region, Z amount needs to be freely social responsibly invested. This could not be done in the past, today it can be done online with all kinds of tools for transparency with prevention of fraud.

          Transparency 3. A nation/gov should stop somehow the 'overspending culture' ;"If I don't overspend as department, I get less next year to spend." On mega region level numbers can be crunched on safeguarding a mega regions public health, leaving enough space for free enterprising.

          I believe only than, with these transparencies, we can move out of the kiddie sandbox of grownups crying this is fair and not fair, he is bullying me, mummmmiiieeee. ;)
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          Aug 9 2011: Sure, it is easy to understand stuff, no rocketscience, so who is realizing it? I think companies in the megaregions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaregions_of_the_United_States should start organizing themselves by being represented by employees in a mega region government.

          1. They need this to compete with Asian mega regions.
          2. It would be a way to introduce the simplistic transparency as above.

          Maybe wishful thinking, but it sounds like a better alternative than fighting the (nation) state establishment. In the end the people in power are still in control, but they have a chance to rearrange their relationship with the people. In the end it were companies asking for governments in a region, not the way around.

          As to your question; No I do not, all the capital/wealth tax implementations could be cuffed up, but than there are lists of numbers, than what...
        • Aug 9 2011: Is that question fair? What is double taxation.

          If you are wondering about double taxations, then shouldn't you also be advocating for no double taxes such as sales tax, which it could be argued is another level of taxes on manufacturing taxes?

          The bottom line is that we live in a great country that is great, in large part, because of the common causes that previous generations built up.
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          Aug 9 2011: Birdia;

          my apologies, I lost myself on the 'fair' in the question :) We know what is 'fairplay' when all cards are on the table and the game is played according to the rules. This will not happen, cheating is the game because the systems and unions are too old.

          So no answer I have on insight/numbers. Nothing. Only my logic; there cannot be a fair number; any number will make corporations leave the country or neglect public need. No equilibrium possible in a free market, it's the speed of ping-pong that matters.

          I will leave the thread here so it stays focused on the quest, no need for talking about our different views here.
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          Aug 10 2011: Drew,

          Among corporate America's shareholders are people and corporations from other countries, which do not pay American taxes.

          Among American policymakers' campaign funders are corporations which have shareholders and corporations that do not pay American taxes.

          Among the corporations that are shareholders of American corporations are companies to whom America is sending jobs.

          These would be the same corporations would be the ones which claim to improve the American economy America needs to 1. bail them out 2. cut taxes.

          So, who, will foot the bill for these American corporations and the American regulators and infrastructure that supports the foreign corporations, which benefit foreign competitors, and support foreign citizens jobs?

          Andrea