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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in … maybe never?

Uploaded: Apr 28, 2014
Boomers tend to view the sustained prosperity of the mid-20th century as the way things are supposed to be. Back then, incomes rose across the board, growth was robust, there were Better Things for Better Living and what was good for GM was good for the country. My folks spoke confidently of working hard, and retiring sometime after their ship came in. The American Dream was very real for white middle class families, and the term 'upwardly mobile' could be uttered without sarcasm.

But what if those halcyon days were an aberration, and not the inevitable product of the genius of capitalism, married with the American Way of democracy? And what if our systems and our policies are leading us away from that peculiar form of meritocracy, to a more 'natural' state of stratification, low social mobility and an entrenched, self-reinforcing oligarchy?

That's the thesis of French economist Thomas Pinketty's recent book "Capital in the 21st Century." His exhaustive research documents that those 'natural' conditions were thelaissez-faire outcomes in the late 19th-century US and Europe – the so-called Gilded Age here, and the Belle Epoch across the pond. It leads him to conclude that such is the natural order of unfettered capitalistic systems in general, and the one to which we're returning, in particular.

Mid-20th century America was an accidental product of catastrophe and progressive legislation, he contends. World Wars left most non-US-based industrial capacity in ruins, and income tax rates, as one example, were steeply progressive on the top end. Much of the overall legal effect has been attenuated by our governmental policies since that time, notably tax cuts applicable to the upper end of the income spectrum, tepid and rolled-back regulation and privatization in various forms. Absent some new global catastrophe that destroys other whole nations' economies, we are very likely headed into an extended period of world-wide slow-growth – the kind that typified the Gilded Age era.

In slow-growth periods, economists explain that the return on capital exceeds the return on labor by a considerable margin. Such has been the case over the most recent thirty years of our history. And that gives rise to income inequity between the 'working' class and the 'investing' class. Relative after-tax returns on investments are increased further by the lower tax rates and other sheltering sanctuaries enjoyed by capital gains. The effect in Europe was and is more pronounced, even, than it has been here – perhaps that history helps account for that culture's stronger class identities?

Thus, if you have been fortunate to choose your parents well, the chance of maintaining your lavish lifestyle is excellent. Conversely, and perversely for American Dreamers – if you were not born into a top-end dynasty, your opportunity to prosper is an illusion. The earlier edition of this paradigm spawned the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, DuPonts and Carnegies – family fortunes built by patriarchs and passed-down through many generations of heirs whose primary "merits" involved coupon redemption. If Piketty is right, that's also our future. Of course, it's not all family dynasties – the danger here is the de facto segregation of the society into two very separate Americas.

The so-called patrimonial capitalist system, according to Pinketty, fixes the game – and that's even before the Oligarchs bend and shape it to their particular service. The concomitant rise of fabulous fortunes and the removal of restrictions on any-but-the-most-blatant bribes of public officials results in a government that responds-to and furthers the interests of its patrons. That's dangerous for the political system that claims to be "OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People."

As an aside -- while it is true that the super-rich have never had much success seeking elective office directly (Meg Whitman being a recent example), that phenomenon should not be confused with a lack of influence. A majority of Congresspeople, after all, are now (mere) millionaires. If you are inclined to disagree on the 'influence' point, kindly take a stroll through the book "This Town" before complaining.

The rebuttal to this populist manifesto from conservative circles has been tepid, at best. It has consisted of quibbling over potentially better stats that might mildly weaken the demonstrated effects. The book has also spawned the predictable spate of name-calling, which is a favorite pastime of the Right regarding most things French, anyway.

As yet, nobody has laid a glove on the book's central thesis (see David Brooks' latest awful effort, for example). Even Bill Kristol (who, if he wasn't the inspiration for Batman's Joker, should have been) found himself in expressly awkward agreement with liberal Nobel laureate Krugman on the Sunday Talkies.

That's surprising, because implications of Piketty's work for public policy are legion.
They give the lie to many right-wing mythologies, about celebrating the 1% as "job creators" or even the late Jackie Kemp's joyful refrain "a rising tide lifts all ships." Except that 'they' don't, and 'it' doesn't. The book gives intellectual heft to the Progressive call for reforms that promote a more egalitarian – which is not to say equivalent-outcomes America. To use an overworked phrase – it really is a "game changer."

Now, whether the majority Party is really still interested, and has a truly liberal wing potent enough to ride this stallion, very much remains to be seen. Where have you gone, Teddy Roosevelt* – is there a populist champion who can harness this energy? More on that point in future columns, but the foundation has been set. Every few centuries, it seems, it takes a Frenchman to reveal us to ourselves.

* Yes, I am aware that Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican, before he wasn't one. Me, too. Lincoln also, before the GOP sold its soul to the highest bidder and canonized avarice as a defining cardinal virtue.

Comments

Posted by Shelly , a resident of Parkside,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 11:05 am

This just sounds like warmed over Marxism. How does Pikeyy's work differ from Marx's?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Hi Shelly: Piketty's book is not an -ism, but a review of 200 years' evidence, a prediction about where it could lead, and some policy prescriptions that he favors. John Cassidy, who for my money is an excellent writer on economics and policy, published this summary in six charts,Web Link and has apparently written a longer piece about the book that I haven't read yet. The key is the U-shape of the first curve, the bottom of which corresponds to the mid-20th century. Wealth was historically more concentrated in a few hands, and we're headed that way again, in headlong fashion.

I think his point is that capitalism, left alone and unregulated, has not led us where the popular mythology suggests. And it won't take us there in the future, unless policies are in-place to promote an egalitarian society. Not everybody want one of those, but that's what we came closest to in the mid-20th century -- lots of opportunity, social mobility and shared community. Note that did not/does not imply equivalent outcomes, but truly equal opportunity.

Most of the commentary I have seen that uses to the term Marxism seems to do so dismissively -- as if to say the work is not worthy of serious consideration. I think that's both wrong on the merits and a serious mistake by the labellers.

In a plea for SOMEbody to rebut the book, The National Review writes: " Piketty and fellow French economist and University of California, Berkeley, inequality researcher Emmanuel Saez are arguably the most important public intellectuals in the world today. Their research is driving the economic agenda pushed by Washington Democrats and promoted by the mainstream media. The soft Marxism in Capital, if unchallenged, will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged."


Posted by Shelly, a resident of Parkside,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Okay, Tom, thank you. But you simply restate what you did in your original piece without really answering my question. Marx took centuries of analysis, reviewed it, predicted where it could lead, and gave policy prescriptions. So does Pikeytte. Correct me if I'm wrong, but both Marx and Pikette analyzed capitalism. Piketty sounds very much like Marx. Even the National Review implies this. So, how would one say Piketty is not like Marx? And bear in mind, I'm asking about Pikeety and Marx, not Pikettyism and Marxism.

Looking forward to reading the book! But I'm not going to if it's just bringing Marx into the 21st century. How are they different?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Shelly -- sorry I seem to have failed to answer your question adequately. But there's a big internet out there --huge, in fact. If you google 'piketty' and 'marx' you get about 179,000 references. Your answer is probably out there, among 'em.

Now, people pay me for my time and advice; it's how I make part of my living. If you want to engage me to find an answer that will satisfy you, email me how many hours you want to buy, and I'll send you a contract. That said, I'm pretty expensive -- you might want to pursue other alternatives. ;-)


Posted by Kent Marshal, a resident of Valley Trails,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Don't you think you're being kind of rude, Tom? If you haven't read Piketty or Marx that's your own business. And if you feel, without reading them, that the internet deserves 179,000 + 1 on this issue, that's fine. But there's no excuse for rudely flipping a poster off as you have done.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Actually no, Kent, I don't think I was rude. I used a nice emoticon and everything. I have flipped off a very few others, occasionally around here, and it didn't sound anything like the above. I'd call it a polite 'decline' to spend further free time and effort on the question.

BTW, your IP addie is very similar to shelly's. I don't know exactly how that works, but are you related?


Posted by Kent Marshal, a resident of Valley Trails,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I am not related to shelly. I had a Dr. Shelly for a dentist once. Don't know how IP works. What business should my IP be to you? Shouldn't you be using your valuable time reading Piketty?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Every word. I'd offer to lend you my copy if you hadn't called me rude. Trouble is, I'm an old Econ major who read Marx on the original papyrus. It was a bad enough experience when I HAD to read it -- I have no intention of doing so again, for free. But I do hope shelly will favor us with the results of his/her research.

For the record, I'm now reading The Bully Pulpit, to learn more about TR.

You'll have to take up the Q of your IP address with Embarcadero. I think the system records it to keep track of commenters for a variety of reasons -- most, maybe all, of them admirable. I see them because I have to mod my own blog.


Posted by Kent Marshal, a resident of Valley Trails,
on Apr 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Okay, thanks. Forgive me but I think something just doesn't ring true. If you'd read Piketty and Marx as you claim, then I'd probably have to assume you'd spend a word or two seriously addressing the Parkside woman's query. I personally thought her query was justified and opened up possibilities for a good discussion. But that's just me. That you didn't seriously engage her but instead blew her off, I assumed either (a) you hadn't read one or both of the authors or (b) you're being rude.

It is your blog though. And new to this as I am, I'll defer to your judgment. And as for the IP business, I'd kindly appreciate it if you do not attempt to locate either my social security number or any of my credit card numbers. Thank you.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 29, 2014 at 8:32 am

Actually, I'd love it if a conversation did ensue -- especially if I don't have to lead it. Time IS a limited commodity, after all, and as I said -- I was exposed to Marx long ago and far away, and remember more Groucho than Karl. A good question deserves a thoughtful answer, and I simply do not have the time to be that library resource -- hence, the web. So, fire away!

Oh -- and your jewels are safe from me. There may be somebody, somewhere who could make mischief with those digits, but not me. I am a barely naturalized 'netizen -- pretty sure that would require a native much more fluent in code than I am.


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:17 am

I think it is important to examine the causes of income inequality, as well as wealth inequality, although as a person who generally believes in the benefits of free-market capitalism, I would be likely to draw different conclusions, as well as propose different solutions, to these issues.

I haven't read the Pikeety book, but it sounds interesting.

The book I am reading currently is a recent biography of Calvin Coolidge (by Amity Shlaes), and to some extent it looks at similar issues, both in terms of Coolidge's policies, but also looking at the actions of preceeding Presidents such as Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. In the post-WWI years there were a number of economic issues and concerns that have relevance to today, even if there are also significant differences.

As an aside, both Wilson (Democrat) and Teddy Roosevelt (basically a Republican, even if he also ran as a third-party candidate) were "Progressives", as the term was understood in the early part of the 20th century (with some similarities to today's "progressives", but also many differences).

In any case, I also recommend the Coolidge book.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Tom claims, "if you were not born into a top-end dynasty, your opportunity to prosper is an illusion."

Tell that to anyone who worked pre-IPO at companies like Google, Facebook, Intel, eBay, etc., and tell it to people like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Jay-Z, Michael Jordan, Oprah, Sonya Sotomayor, Carl Ichan, the list goes on and on.

Tom claims, "Progressive" legislation like high tax rates helped create the economic growth of the 1950's and 1960's. What a joke.

Since when do high tax rates lead to economic growth?

New Deal programs and other government policies actually made the Great Depression worse, causing it to last 11 years rather than what should've lasted no more than 2 years. Plus taxes weren't high back then. Yes, the statutory marginal rates were 80-90% in the 50's & 60's, but the average effective tax rates on the rich was in the 40% range due to numerous loopholes.

Tom never discusses Pinketty's so-called solution: 60% tax rates on people making $200,000, 80% tax rate for those making $500,000.

What kind of effect do you think that would have on entrepreneurs who've mortgaged their homes and maxed their credit cards in order to start a business? Or kids who've taking on huge student loan debt in order to get ahead?

Imagine a society that takes away 80% of the upside but leaves you with 100% of the downside.

Actually, you don't have to imagine this society. It exists. It's Mr. Pinketty's home country: France. Its high taxes, costly entitlements, and intrusive government has produced three decades of chronic high unemployment and a per capita GDP 30% lower than the U.S. It has massive public debt (90% of GDP) as it struggles to pay for all the promised welfare benefits. It's unsustainable. No wonder you never hear about any French entrepreneurs. There aren't any.

Anyway, what is wrong with doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, small business owners, taking risks, earning $500,000 per year in their later years after they've paid their dues and have created valuable goods and services?

Pinketty also says we should cap wealth at $1 million bucks. That won't even buy you a decent tract house in Danville.

Plus, we already have a wealth tax: the estate tax, which taxes inherited wealth at 40%.


Posted by Right, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on May 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Great post, spcwt. You beat me to the post I was about to make about French economics. What's next, a Greek economist espousing the successes of their social welfare programs, unpaid loans to prop up their failed economy, high unemployment and labor problems.
In fact, the more of this type of drivel I read, the more I feel we're being played....this has to be a parody. Who in their right mind would be deluded into thinking confiscating the earnings of producers and innovators would accomplish anything positive and not discourage people standing on their own, without excessive govt interference?
I suppose being a contrarian is good for the blogging business, but if you are truly being paid for your advice, most economists would recommend keeping your day job.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville,
on May 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Dear spc(al),

"New Deal programs and other government policies actually made the Great Depression worse, causing it to last 11 years rather than what should've lasted no more than 2 years. Plus taxes weren't high back then. Yes, the statutory marginal rates were 80-90% in the 50's & 60's, but the average effective tax rates on the rich was in the 40% range due to numerous loopholes."….Hmmm…Herbert Hoover didn't leave office till 1933 (1929 + 2 years=…). You surely reviewed what the marginal tax rates were from 1928 to 1932, correct? Let's just agree that perhaps if they were as good today as they were during the Hoover admin, perhaps this argument would be moot?

Nearly 80% marginal rates on the highest wage incomes were enacted by FDR in 1936 - nearly six years after the discernible start to the global depression. Is it your premise that the political factors and post WWI global economies (e.g. Spain) along with untimely historic droughts throughout the breadbasket of our country were not some of the principals drivers of a sustained Depression? More so, your thoughts on what propelled the country economically during the Eisenhower administration does not seem to parallel with actual assessments of that era. Some how, Ike seemed to find a way to enable massive Cold War spending, the Interstate roadway & commerce system, unprecedented post-secondary education of returning WWII GIs and nearly unbridled expansion of American goods and services to a rebuilding globe. Amazing, wasn't it?

So, I'm curious, what salient theory or academic dissertation which clearly substantiates the perspective that the GD should have been ceased in "no more than 2 years" do you have? At one time, I thought I was well-read on this topic but perhaps you're showing me that I'm not. I look forward to reading your peer-reviewed citations.

I will agree that wealth will always find a way to look a marginal rate in the face and laugh. In the same manner that talented accountants afford the vast majority of corporations to take so-termed uncompetitive marginal rates and realize highly competitive effectives tax rates is the surely the basis of your argument "...the average effective tax rates on the rich was in the 40% range due to numerous loopholes".

In terms of your list of self-made wealthy individuals, perhaps Donald Sterling of late news would be a notable add?


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on May 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

A lot of factors caused the Great Depression to be much worse that it might've been. Yes drought played a role, so did bank failures, tight money supply, deflation, money hoarding, decline in productivity, personal debt, etc. As for failed government policies, we can thank devaluation of the dollar, interest rates, protectionism & high tariffs, the Banking Act of 1935, etc. Most economists agree a large tax cut would've helped get us out of the Depression, but instead FDR raised tax rates. The top rate was 25% before the Depression. FDR raised rates up to 81%, making things worse, extending the depression.

Why are we talking about the Great Depression anyway? That's off topic.

Any thoughts on this Pinketty fellow?


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville,
on May 2, 2014 at 12:07 am

Piketty's book is on my 'to read' list. However, from my the snippets and synopses of his treatment that I have read, he clearly appears to understand that a highly discussed book will be a highly purchased book, as well. He does seem to have been torn between the production of yet another economic historical treatment and a kind of anti-Ayn Rand (one Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, before she changed her name in the '30s) cattle call.

I believe that Piketty realized that if he wanted to get his message across to the unwashed masses, then he had to package a message not wrapped in deathly boorish reviews of European economic history but rather one wrapped in the headlines of the daily news.

To his message, I would suspect that even you would agree that within even the most prolific of capitalistic markets that there exists a very fine line between the emergence and dominance of nearly feudal oligarchs (the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Morgans, etc. as Tom previously denoted) and some sort of panacea whereby a rising tide of global economic euphoria raises all boats (i.e. steaks in the refrigerator, bread on the table and so forth) and bank accounts.

If I had to offer a sound bite…Piketty has likely offered the economic equivalent to one of Dan Brown's theological novels. There are Angels and Demons that abound all around. In his text, the dastardly ones don't work to suppress the average man's soul, just his upward economic mobility.

BTW, the debate on whether or not a massive tax cut during the Great Depression would have helped will go on long after we are all but dust. I offer, if it had worked, would we have had everything from the FDIC to, yes, even social security today? We surely would have had the trappings of war but what would we have lost. Something to ponder…


Posted by Chico, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on May 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Cushing: I read reviews of Piketty. Every word.

Spct: We need tax breaks for rich.

Cushing: I don't think so. We need stimulus programs.

Spct: Tax breaks for the rich would stimulate economy.

Shelley: What about Marx?

Cushing: Which one? Groucho or Karl? Ha-ha-ha.

Somebody else: Can we expand the discussion so that it isn't a replay of each previous week's discussion of stimulus vs. tax breaks?

Cushing: Buzz off buster, unless you want to pay my legal fees.

Somebody else: I can't think of anything new to say that hasn't been said ad infinitum by Cushing (stimulus) or Spct (tax breaks for the rich). Anybody reading Coolidge?

Cushing: Reviews of Pinketty say we need more stimulus.

Spct: What we really, really need is tax breaks for the rich.

Next week's blog: More of same.


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on May 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Oh for gods sakes!

Income equality is just another trojan horse for those who want to raise taxes by any means. It amazes me that those who continue to loudly call for more taxation are always the ones who do as much as they can to take advantage of loopholes. And notice how they NEVER voluntarily cut a check to uncle sam for more than their fair share.

Hypocrites, every last one of them.

Give working people, no matter how much income they make, a tax cut and let them do what they want with their money!

90% will spend the money. That money will support businesses. Those businesses will 1.) pay more in taxes due to increased profit 2.) hire more employees to keep up with increased demand 3.) create more products and services

Rinse and repeat. This is common sense and anyone who says otherwise has never owned or been in a position of authority in a products company.

You want to make a difference?

Get serious about government fraud and waste. Billions and billions of our dollars go to waste in our government. Think of the impact of saving that much money. Look at the state of Oregon for example. They have had to scrap their health exchange. I think (though I'm not sure) that they just threw away $247 million. Thats just in OREGON for crying out aloud!

Stop unnecessary corporate welfare. Goodness gracious, look no further than the defense industry for how our money is spent. Billions in cost overruns, projects completed late or no to spec. And don't even get me started on GM and Chrysler.

Where is the outrage?

And someone tell me EXACTLY how the first stimulus worked out for us? Shovel ready projects? Ever try driving southbound in the right hand lane on Hwy 680 between Sunol Blvd and Hwy 84? Shovel ready indeed.

Income equality is the LAST thing we need to be concerned about.

Dan


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on May 3, 2014 at 6:52 am

Hey Chico -- someone has flagged your comment, although in my umpire persona I can't figure out why. Am I missing something, flagger? Feel free to email me.

S-P: always fun with math. Let's take an example: 'the inheritance tax rate is 40%.' Horrors, right? In fact, only 1.4 estates out of every 1,000 pay ANY estate tax, At All. Of those 0.14% who pay ANYthing, the effective tax rate is 16%, not 40%, and that's mostly on estates over $20 million. That's SOME 40%. When you write misleading carp like that, it gives the lie to everything else you write, self-professed troll-boy.

As to folks who find fault with Piketty's analysis because he's some variant of a 'cheese-eating surrender monkey,' thanks for the insights. I smell fear that he might just be right.

Many of his prescriptions have to do with taxes, but I believe the important parts of the book relate to diagnosis, rather than cure. And I think the diagnosis is on the money. There are many, many policy initiatives that lead from it -- depending on what kind of society we want to create and maintain. Therein will lie the debate.

I also agree with him that Unregulated capitalism is unhealthy for democracy -- obviously that conclusion is open to debate, as well. I think everyone (well, maybe not) would agree that some regulation -- like making price-fixing illegal, for example -- is appropriate. Where we go beyond those basics, including tax policy, is politics informed by philosophy and economics. Piketty's book supplies a great deal of heft to those who think change would create a better, more small-d-democratic society.

It's no trojan horse, and it's not going away, regardless of what semi-solids are flung its way.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on May 3, 2014 at 10:44 am

Those at the top .001%, the people Pinketty says supposedly threaten our democracy, will pay 40% estate tax when they die.

The low estate tax rates you cite include smaller estates that take into account the $5 million exemption and various valuation techniques used to minimize the tax.

Those exemptions and gimmicks aren't very effective at preventing the full 40% estate tax from applying to people like Bill Gates, who hold most assets in corporate stock.

And I'm not saying that the ultra wealthy, like Gates, is paying his fair share of tax. He isn't. Most of his wealth is in the form of corporate stock appreciation that has NEVER been taxed AT ALL, because the tax code doesn't tax income until there's been a sale or other triggering event. And Gates hasn't done that. If you compare Gate's total wealth to the taxes he's actually paid, he's paid less than 1% in tax.

And remember, it was your hero Obama who lowered the estate tax down to 40% to protect his rich friends. I didn't do it. Raise it up to 60% for all I care. I'll be dead when I pay it. But stop taking 50% of my paycheck you gol darn commie.

If you spent more time listening to me rather than attacking me, you might learn something.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville,
on May 3, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Oh spcwt, you picked Gates as your exemplary aristocrat to champion? My goodness, you realize that he is taking the path that Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, amongst others, took to 'shed' much of his accumulated wealth for philanthropic causes? He's surely no angel but I do give him considerable credit for his current endeavors - regardless of how many times his product offered the blue screen. However, he along with his confidant, Buffett, have given little public commentary on excessive taxation regardless of which side of the grass one may be found.

Now, if you had chosen that anti-taxation Lone Ranger in Southern Nevada as your champion, you would have provided such a more interesting argument.

As you're clearly a very intelligent 'under the bridge type', why not put together your own list of the things in our society that you could do without that taxes pay for? Sure, it would be fun to list the swimming shrimp research funded by the NIH or any number of classic DoD failures, but why not start a list of things that are in everyday life that should just be left to the unchecked market? Take the tax funded government out of if, Clyde Bundy-style, and just trust your local corporate board to champion your causes (because the customer of a corporation is always right). What in life should we just stop paying for? Don't take the easy way out with saying we'll just get rid of waste. That's implicit in the discussion. Rather, how about having the CDC stop figuring out what to put into your flu vaccine every year and just wait for the next 1918 epidemic?

How about this, I'll start the list. Since young people (without the last name of Rockefeller, etc.) don't save money anymore (they can't as they comprise the lowest end of our economic spectrum), let's just do away with the FDIC. We all put our money into the markets and make great returns. Who uses savings accounts today anyways?

So, yes, stop guaranteeing deposits by the Federal government. Just think, if this benefit did not exist, we would not have had the Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life. The Bailey Savings & Loan would have had Federal backing and no angel would have got his wings. But we digress.

Perhaps if we get enough people talking, your 50% (fully burdened) wage reduction (or taxes) might go to say 38%? Fair? Too high? Let me guess, you want / need taxes to be collected like whatever you might toss into the little red buckets outside the department stores at holiday time, Ebenezer?


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on May 4, 2014 at 11:33 am

I've donated more to charity than a lot of people will earn in a lifetime.

I've been a Premier Circle Donator at Smile Train for nearly two decades and counting.

I've donated so much, the local public school named their driveway after me.

And you call me Ebenezer because I want the government to stop taking half my paycheck?

Imagine when they freed the slaves if they told them, "Hey, you guys are free. We're just going to keep half your paycheck. Sound good?"

I don't think so.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville,
on May 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm

spcwt,

I'm sure that made you feel enabled to get that off your chest. You should be duly accorded for your philanthropic and civic statesmanship. I'm sure that you give of your time to the same degree.

Since you clearly give to a notable degree, it appears that as long as it's a donation and not a tax, you're ok with it?

In all seriousness, there are tax strategies set-up for the ultra wealthy to utilize that afford them the social graces of appearing philanthropic but really just allow them to either minimize or shift taxes due to their estate. I won't go into them here but I'm sure you are way ahead of most individuals on knowing what I'm describing.

They don't just put your name on a university building for nothing, right - wink/wink?


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on May 5, 2014 at 6:38 am

I used to volunteer at various charitable organizations, but I don't like being around people who smell weird.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on May 5, 2014 at 6:50 am

That's the spirit S-P. I'm confident that both you and the organizations have been well-served by your absence.


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