Romney’s Taxing Problem

By: hawkgrrrl
August 7, 2012

There has been much ado about the number of years of tax returns Mitt Romney should share as candidate for POTUS.  Critics on both sides of the political spectrum as well as the majority of Americans have called for him to release them, and yet he has refused, resulting in speculation that whatever is in them must be damning indeed.  Romney supporters want him to release them to clear the air so that speculation will stop.  But others (presumably Romney included) see no upside to releasing more than the 2 years he has.

“It’s crazy” not to release several more years of returns, “tomorrow,” says William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard.

So, just what could be in those tax returns?  The lost ark of the covenant?  Jimmy Hoffa?  Imelda Marcos’ shoes?

He’s done something illegal.

His most vociferous critics claim that what he has revealed so far is full of irregularities that raise questions about his integrity.  Irregularities they cite include paying a lower tax rate, off shore accounts, and the date he left Bain to go run the Olympics.  Others state that his tax returns look just like all rich people’s tax returns.

Who wins if he discloses? If his tax records are copascetic, Romney theoretically wins.  But, it’s a defensive win, a hollow victory, and he will be torn apart in the media regardless.  Words like “loophole” and qualifiers like “technically not illegal” have been thrown around in the media to further the idea that Romney is untrustworthy, and that’s without him releasing them.  At the end of the day, this will end up as another class warfare discussion in the media, with critics concluding that the wealthy hire accounting firms and lawyers to help them wriggle out of paying taxes.

Hawkmaaan and I predicted exactly what Romney’s tax rate would be before he released his first two years, and we were exactly right.  How did we know?  Because we know the tax code, and we know that people in Romney’s financial situation pay taxes on capital gains.

He’s rich.

Given the current state of class warfare in the US, it’s no wonder Romney wants to keep his wealth from becoming a further distraction in this election.  It’s out there already.  As I blogged about at By Common Consent, he’s wealthy.  He has a lot of moolah.  Cha-ching.  His wife rides horses and drives multiple Cadillacs (which I maintain is an old person car more than a rich person car, natch).  Releasing further tax returns just adds a few more zeroes.

Who wins if he discloses? Those who benefit from class warfare; in this case, Obama.  IMO, this is pandering to class envy, a time-honoured if not very noble political tradition.

He has paid a lower tax rate than me.

As Romney has stated, he has paid exactly what he owed in taxes and not a penny more.  And who would?  The government isn’t exactly a charitable foundation.  We all pay the amount of taxes required by the tax code.  Romney, like many wealthy people, pays most of his taxes on capital gains from his investments because he doesn’t draw a salary.  And yet, investors are the ones who bolster the economy and US businesses.  If we want higher taxation of capital gains (which will result in less investing), we should tax them at a higher rate, not apply a retroactive charitable giving test to wealthy taxpayers.

According to Bob Webster of WEBCommentary, there’s a perfectly good reason for Romney to refuse to release his tax returns:  They “are none of anyone’s business.”  The US tax code is a mess, and the media could pick apart the personal returns of anyone at Romney’s income level. In short, it’s a losing situation for Romney if he gives in.

Who wins if he discloses? Those who benefit from class warfare; in this case, Obama.  It could also result in more scrutiny of the tax code, but that’s already a known issue that doesn’t need several more years of tax returns to prove or disprove.

He’s paid a LOT in tithing.

Every additional year he releases increases the focus on the amount of tithing Romney has paid to the church, making him sound one  Oprah couch-jumping shy of Tom Cruise in his religious enthusiasm.  Some assume that tithing contribution equals influence in the church (as with Scientology) or how far entrenched he is in it.  Let’s be clear: Mitt’s Mormon.  He’s more Mormon than lots of Mormons.  But he’s not in the church hierarchy.

Who wins if he discloses? Those who benefit from anti-Mormon OPs; in this case, Obama.  And little do the media know that nobody is buying influence with tithing funds.  It’s nothing like the Godfather II.

At the end of the day, the media is hoping to expose something the IRS has not found objectionable (do people really think the IRS doesn’t go through the taxes of the 1% with a fine tooth comb?), but even if they don’t find anything damaging in his tax returns, Romney still loses.

Should Romney release more tax returns?

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Discuss.

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105 Responses to Romney’s Taxing Problem

  1. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    He’s losing whether he releases them or not: if he releases them, for the reasons you described perhaps, but if he DOESN’T release them, we’re all going to keep assuming the worst because of his unwillingness to set the record straight.
    I don’t see this as much about class warfare, though, as it is about honesty. I sincerely could not care less that he is rich- actually it’s one of the few things about him I LIKE. He has done a good job of managing his affairs to his benefit. Good for him. Maybe he can manage our countries affairs to our countries benefit (though his goals are very different from mine).
    I can’t stand that any time a liberal points out something unethical that a rich person has done, cries of “class warfare” go up. I’m expected to be honest in my doings with my fellow man, why not Romney? Why does that have to be about class?

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  2. hawkgrrrl on August 7, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    Jenn, it’s about class because there will never be a headline that says he was honest. Merely being wealthy raises the suspicion that his gains were ill gotten. Elections are waged in the media, and class warfare sells better than Boring Rich Mormon Paid Correct Amount of Taxes.

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  3. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    I think you misunderstood: I’m saying that the problem isn’t just class, it’s DISHONESTY.
    You’re right, a headline that he was honest is boring- but there is no evidence he has been honest here. His DISHONESTY may be the issue, not just that he is rich. Even if he were middle-class but unwilling to disclose his tax information when sketchy information about them was raised, I’d have the same problem. Be rich, sure, but if you act like you have something to hide, people may think you do have something to hide.

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  4. ken on August 7, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    The arrogance of the wealthy is on display here. Romney should have dumped his offshore accounts long before running and he should have released at least 12 years of his returns the day he launched his campaign. No one really begrudges him his wealth, but by not releasing his tax returns, he is failing to avoid the appearance of evil. Get it out there, Mitt!

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  5. Mike S on August 7, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    My own personal feelings are for openness and transparency. If someone wants to throw their hat in the ring to be President of the United States, they are held to a different standard than anyone else. If Mr. Romney wants us to “trust him” with major decisions regarding us, and if he truly has nothing to hide (which I honestly don’t think he does), then he should release his tax returns.

    Interestingly, this is more symbolic of differences between our country and others. Take Norway, for example. They have a much great sense of shared responsibility to each other. The disparity between the rich and the poor is much less. They always tend to rank near the top of “happiest country” lists. And each year, they publish a “skatteliste” (or tax list) showing EVERYONE’S tax returns for the entire country.

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  6. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    or it could be that Harry Reid is right and that Mitt Romney used all sorts of loopholes to pay ZERO taxes until 2009.

    Remember, Mitt Romney gave John McCain 23 YEARS of his tax returns, and then McCain picked Sarah Palin.

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  7. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Those who benefit from class warfare; in this case, Obama.

    Class warfare? So let’s see, raising taxes on the poor and giving it to the rich is NOT class warfare? Yeesh, hawkgrrrl, you’ve got weird priorities.

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  8. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    Mike,

    Interestingly, this is more symbolic of differences between our country and others. Take Norway, for example. They have a much great sense of shared responsibility to each other. The disparity between the rich and the poor is much less. They always tend to rank near the top of “happiest country” lists. And each year, they publish a “skatteliste” (or tax list) showing EVERYONE’S tax returns for the entire country.

    Yeah, that’s because “class warfare” won in Norway and the rich don’t steal from the poor as they do here in America.

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  9. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Dan, give it a rest. Romney obviously paid his social security and related taxes from his Bain salary of 100k a year. That is what that particular payment is for.

    As for illegal, who really believes Romney has gotten an audit free pass from the IRS?

    Seriously?

    For those who want full disclosure, who is demanding Obama’s college transcripts and his passport he used to travel to the holy land?

    Both men are refusing to release documents that they expect would only serve to focus criticism and most of those who are demanding them want only to embarrass rather than any legitimate goal.

    Though I will concede that some people might believe rather than just be repeating talking points. I will believe that.

    Not that it looks very good to believe the talking points. There is a reason people laugh at birthers.

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  10. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Mike S, on the other hand makes sense. But he is being consistent and focused on a real issue.

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  11. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    As for illegal, who really believes Romney has gotten an audit free pass from the IRS?

    Seriously?

    Who has said he has done anything illegal? Stephen, do you not even know how many businesses and individuals pay no income tax legally? I never said he did anything illegal. I just said he paid zero income taxes.

    For those who want full disclosure, who is demanding Obama’s college transcripts and his passport he used to travel to the holy land?

    WTF?!?! what the hell does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

    Not that it looks very good to believe the talking points. There is a reason people laugh at birthers.

    When Romney releases his tax returns and proves he paid taxes and proves he did nothing wrong (like somehow moving $100 million dollars into an IRA—which is normally impossible), then I give you permission to laugh at me.

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  12. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Equating college transcripts to tax records is ridiculous. First, where is the precedent for presidents releasing college transcripts? Second, what does a decades-old academic document (of someone who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and has publicly admitted his undergraduate performance was less than stellar) have to do with whether or not someone has the best interests of the nation at heart?

    As for the passport issue, it’s so far out there/conspiracy theorist (and easily disproven by many others) that I don’t blame Obama for not addressing it seriously.

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  13. Alexander on August 7, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Oh my lets get back to the point. IRS does not give someone a free pass regardless. He followed the rules or the goverement would be dong something they did to a past VP.
    When you are a member of a country you do not get to pick the rules so applying another countries rules sounds nice but it is a distractor.

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  14. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Agreed, the IRS doesn’t give a free pass… so if Romney followed the rules, what is there to hide? If it’s all legit, why not show it… unless it reveals just how unfair the current tax system is, with the same disparity that Romney seems to be promoting (without much love from the lower classes)

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  15. hawkgrrrl on August 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    If it reveals how unfair the tax system is, then tax reform is required. Romney would have done nothing wrong in that case, and yet he would still pay the price for it as if he did. Where’s the dishonesty? The attack is what’s transparent. As I said, I knew before he said what he paid in taxes very well what he paid in taxes. These aren’t cheap tricks and loopholes for the wealthy – they are easily navigable rules in the tax code. I paid a helluvalot more in taxes as a percentage than did Romney because I make more through my salary and bonus and not through dividends. I see a cheap trick here, all right.

    What he intends to do with the economy is very relevant, though. If you don’t like his proposed changes to the tax plan, that’s a valid reason to criticize him or cast your vote elsewhere.

    He’s unfortunately been found guilty until proven innocent, a setup that always libels the accused.

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  16. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    The dishonesty is in not being willing to own up to using an unfair system- an unfair system he promotes. IF the system is fair, then what would he have to be ashamed of? If the system is unfair, he needs to change his whole campaign. So he’d rather put up with all of this hullabaloo than be one more piece of evidence that the system he’s trying to promote isn’t right. To me, that’s dishonest.
    If the current system is defensible, and he followed it fully, then there would be nothing to be hiding, right? So either it isn’t defensible, or he didn’t follow it (either he did something illegal, which I doubt, or he used a loophole for something other than the intended purpose). Either way it weakens his campaign, perhaps more than if he keeps up at not revealing anything.

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  17. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    The dishonesty is in not being willing to own up to using an unfair system- an unfair system he promotes.

    EXACTLY. An unfair system not only that he promotes but that he wants to expand. Take from the poor, give to the rich.

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  18. Paula on August 7, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    I’m disappointed that you used the “class warfare” dog whistle.

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  19. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM
  20. Andrew S on August 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    I guess one major issue here is that the tax code doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Using terms like “class envy” to imply that the main issues of ‘class warfare’ are that people are jealous that they aren’t in Romney’s position ignores a whole lot of factors.

    Romney is paying the “technically legal” amount of taxes (and that amount would be shockingly low to several folks), but those technicalities and legalities get into place because of…folks like Romney. Furthermore, Romney wishes to extend and promote such a system that helps him and people like him.

    To say Romney is doing nothing wrong to play perfectly well according to the rules of an unfair tax system ignores that that unfair tax system and its rules have come into play *precisely* because of folks like Romney. They have *defined* what right and wrong are, so of course, people not in their position, who do not share those sentiments, are going to have a different measuring stick.

    The issue with the discussion about class warfare is how distorted it is. Who “benefit[s] from class warfare”? — the way class warfare works is that the people with political power (who, for anyone who’s not counting, are those with more economic power) define the system (tax code and otherwise) to favor them and their activities over the situations of others…

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  21. CEF on August 7, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Do liberals really think that a person selling a home worth 10 million pays the same commission to a realtor as someone selling a home worth 100 thousand pays?

    Give me a break!

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  22. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 10:50 AM
  23. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/obama%E2%80%99s-college-classmate-the-obama-scandal-is-at-columbia/

    As to the discussion of honesty, etc.

    Appreciate those who really want the disclosures purely to attack Romney admitting that is what they want.

    Though it does obscure the issue over the way long term capital gain taxes have come to be applied. That could use some reform.

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  24. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Btw Bush, Kerry, Romney and others released college records. That is normal and usual.

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  25. Jenn on August 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Bush’s were leaked without his authorization. So were Gore’s. Both leaks were a break from privacy laws.
    Kerry’s weren’t released until after the 2004 election. Hardly normal and usual- unless you want to link me to the public and authorized transcripts of any other president? ever?

    I will admit, I suspect Romney’s tax records reveal the unfairness of the tax system, and who better to use as evidence than one of the people pushing that system forward? I guess that means I “want the disclosures merely to attack”, or, at least to be a discussion point in fixing our twisted system.

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  26. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z23/cnredd/rsz_1report_card_romney.jpg for one of Romney’s transcripts. /sigh.

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  27. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM
  28. Mike S on August 7, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I’m sure Romney paid exactly how much he owes in taxes. If people don’t like it, it’s a problem with the system – not Romney.

    The problem with this discussion (or any discussion on this topic), is comments like this in #17: Take from the poor, give to the rich

    Looking at actual numbers:
    The top 1% of payers ALREADY pay 38% of income tax.
    The top 10% pay 70% of income tax.
    The top 50% pay 97% of income tax.

    Now, granted they also have more income. But, again, look at actual numbers. As an example, in 2008 the top 10% represented 46% of all income, yet paid 70% of all income taxes – a ratio of 1.52. This is the HIGHEST in the top 24 leading economies – for example, France is 1.1, Germany is 1.07, Japan is 1.01, Sweden is 1.0. The rich are already paying a disproportionate share of taxes.

    To fix the budget problem NECESSARILY involves one of two things: decreasing benefits OR raising taxes on what Dan describes as the “poor”, or the 50% of the Americans who current pay only 3% of the income taxes collected. The “rich” simply don’t have enough money. To pay for government by raising rates on the top 10%, the top bracket would have to be raised to 175%. That’s mathematically impossible.

    This is an important discussion to have, but rhetoric entrenches sides and accomplishes nothing (besides winning elections). So what if Romney paid a lower percentage of taxes than someone’s secretary? He still paid millions and millions of dollars. For example, at an earned income credit of $3000, he still paid for thousands and thousands of people to get the credit who didn’t actually pay ANY income tax.

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  29. CEF on August 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Thank you Mike S. You made the point I was trying to make, but you did a much better job than I did.

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  30. Will on August 7, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Here is the problem with Romney releasing his tax returns:

    1) It will perpetuate the distraction by team Obama. They are doing everything possible to distract the public away from the dismal economic outlook and disastrous debt incurred by Obama.

    2)His taxes are complicated. Extremely complicated. His returns are well over 200 pages for each year. It is not like releasing the typical US Tax return, which can be reviewed and checked for errors in about 60 minutes. If you had 15 firms prepare his returns, you would get 15 different responses. This is exactly what team Obama wants. They want to scrutinize them and pick them apart and find fault and use this as a catalyst for discussion and distraction. This is the reason why Obama wants them released and it is the same reason Mitt doesn’t.

    If Romney were smart, this is how he would respond: 1) Keep (which he is) illustrating the only reason Obama want to release them is for distractive purposes. And, use this as a teaching moment to educate the public on his dismal performance. 2) Effectively communicate that his tax returns are audited EVERY year by the IRS. By policy, any tax return that has a refund or payment of over $1,000,000 it is AUTOMATICALLY audited. This would also squash the lie perpetrated by the dirty, filthy liar, Brother Reid (interestingly why the media doesn’t go after liberal Mormons). 3) Make it conditional. Make a deal with Obama that he will release additional returns if Obama releases the sequestered Fast and Furious documents. Then anytime someone brings this up he can go on offense instead of defense. It’s kinda like asking a bum for money before he has a chance to ask you.

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  31. Andrew S on August 7, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    re 28,

    Mike,

    I just want to parse out your statistics. Let everyone be aware that when you say:

    “The top 1% of payers ALREADY pay 38% of income tax.”

    This is pointing out that of all the income tax revenue dollars collected, 38% of it comes from the top 1% of taxpayers.

    But here’s what that is NOT saying:

    1) It doesn’t tell you how much of the 1%’s income goes to income taxes. (In other words, if the 1% could be distilled into one person, that one person would not have a 38% effective tax rate).

    2) It doesn’t tell you how much of the 1%’s income is even taxed at rates described in a tax rate schedule. (In other words, For someone who makes most of their income as carried interest, all of that carried interest is taxed at preferential capital gains rate.)

    3) It doesn’t tell you how much the 1% pay as a percentage of their income in other taxes. (Income taxes aren’t the only kind of tax)

    4) It doesn’t tell you how much the individual income tax is as a percentage of overall tax revenue (again, income taxes aren’t the only kind of tax).

    Those are just a few things that I would point out.

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  32. Casey on August 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Regardless of your opinion on the capital gains tax and the progressivity of the tax code, I don’t see how you could argue that this whole debate is anything but political theater. Harry Reid has nothing to lose taking potshots at Romney — it just irritates Mitt and keeps him on the defensive without having to involve the Obama campaign directly in the mudslinging. Romney, for his part, won’t want to be seen kowtowing to Reid. To me this is just like the Obama “you didn’t build that” nonsense — a non-issue that distracts from substantive policy questions. For example, I’d like to see Romney asked whether he’s lying about his tax-cutting plans or his commitment to reducing the deficit, because it’s definitely one or the other. Or Obama should be made to explain why his administration bolstered the same anti-terrorism measures he once campaigned against. That’s the stuff that matters…well, at least to me.

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  33. salth2o on August 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    First- What happened to the thumbs down? There’s a lot of comments here that need the thumbs down.

    Second- If he releases his tax returns will the economy suddenly get better? Will the wars end? Will energy prices decrease? How on earth is this election, in this environment about Mitt Romney’s tax returns? Even if he did pay Zero taxes, how is that Romney’s issue and not the individuals that write the tax code?

    Obama has been president for 4 years, he had a majority in the House and the Senate for 2 years- and we’re talking about tax returns.

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  34. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    ” As an example, in 2008 the top 10% represented 46% of all income, yet paid 70% of all income taxes – a ratio of 1.52. This” appears to be the real question asked. What % of income bs what % of taxes.

    I am surprised the ratios are lower in Europe.

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  35. Stan Beale on August 7, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    i do not think many believe he did anything that was illegal at the time and where he did it. But there are a large number of investments that could cause PR problems. Some simple examples:

    1. A version of the Roth Ira “scam,” legal because of the laws of another country. That is buy a stock that is hugely undervalued and sell it at a high price. The inflated return thus becomes tax free.

    2. More of the usual Bain techniques: off shoring, wage cutting, job elimination, pension robbing, putting the company in huge debt, etc. This may not have been done by Bain but by companies he invested in.

    3. Politically unwise investments. For example, CRC, a Bain company that runs a lot of wilderness camps for troubled teens has a reputation for poorly paid and trained staff and questionable actions (see article in Salon).

    3. Paper losses or deductions that regular people cannot take. For example, We bought a horse and my daughter competed in barrel racing. I sure was not able to deduct the cost for Carasuel.

    4. Rich people things. Possibly a profit from the sale of a yacht.

    None of these can be good. Romney is willing to pander to every nut group on the right, so the question is why would he hold in the tax returns for principles when he shows few with his Pander Bear actions?

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  36. Will on August 7, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Dan/Andrew/Etal…

    Ok Fine, if the rich aren’t paying their fair share as you claim then let’s make the tax system fair and have everyone pay 10 % like God requests.

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  37. Andrew S on August 7, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    re 36,

    Will,

    In other words, you want to raise taxes on the poor, effectively eliminate taxes on the rich, and balloon the federal deficit to several times the world’s GDP.

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  38. Will on August 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Andrew,

    You are the one that said it should be fair and if everyone pays the same rate that is as fair as you can get. Besides, the IRS estimates that the TOTAL income of the top 1% is only $243 Billion. You could take all of it and you would still have a 1.45 trillion shortfall.

    We currently have GDP of 15.09 Trillion and 10 percent of this is 1.509 Trillion, or about 40 % of the current spending and 70 % of the current revenue. The 10 percent rate would apply to corporations, capital gains, all services and it would be a flat tax eliminating all loop holes. Thus, the revenue would be 10 percent of the GDP. Herman Cain’s analysts estimated 9 percent, but I think he was using that rate as it was catchy, but the concept is correct.

    We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem and 10 percent is more than enough if you eliminate the waste. We need to cut spending by about 1.5 Trillion just to balance the budget. Trust me, if you required everyone to pay 37% of their income, which is what would be required to BALANCE the budget with current spending, government spending would be cut tomorrow. Representatives would be thrown out of office. People would march on the capital with pitch forks and torches. This is reality. This is what it would take.

    It should also be considered, this approach would raise more revenue as more income would be in the hands of ‘we the People” and “we the people” are much more effective, innovative and efficient than any government agency.

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  39. el oso on August 7, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Andrew S,
    Member’s tithing has not put the LDS church into a large deficit.
    I disagree with a totally flat income tax but that does not mean that it would be completely unfair. A personal exemption only and then a flat tax rate above that would be a big economic stimulus. The poor would pay zero and the marginal tax rate above some subsistence income would be equal for everyone. The code could be incredibly simplified.

    As for Romney’s taxes, I would not even dream of voting for him if he paid much above the capital gains tax rate. This is an obvious hit job, but politics as usual. Hawk clearly describes the logic that Romney is using in not disclosing. I suspect that Will’s point #3 will be used soon. Always answer with a counter deal that Obama does not want to disclose.

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  40. Mike S on August 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    #34 Stephen M: I am surprised the ratios are lower in Europe.

    I was actually very surprised by this as well. Here are numbers from 2005 for the richest 10% by country (a different year, so the ratio for the US is a bit different):

    Country – Share of taxes – Share of income – Ratio

    Australia – 36.8 – 28.6 – 1.29
    Austria – 28.5 – 26.1 – 1.10
    Belgium – 25.4 – 27.1 – 0.94
    Canada – 35.8 – 29.3 – 1.22
    Czech Republic – 34.3 – 29.4 – 1.17
    Denmark – 26.2 – 25.7 – 1.02
    Finland – 32.3 – 26.9 – 1.20
    France – 28.0 – 25.5 – 1.10
    Germany – 31.2 – 29.2 – 1.07
    Iceland – 21.6 – 24.0 – 0.90
    Ireland – 39.1 – 30.9 – 1.26
    Italy – 42.2 – 35.8 – 1.18
    Japan – 28.5 – 28.1 – 1.01
    Korea – 27.4 – 23.4 – 1.17
    Luxembourg – 30.3 – 26.4 – 1.15
    Netherlands – 35.2 – 27.5 – 1.28
    New Zealand – 35.9 – 30.3 – 1.19
    Norway – 27.4 – 28.9 – 0.95
    Poland – 28.3 – 33.9 – 0.84
    Slovak Republic – 32.0 – 28.0 – 1.14
    Sweden – 26.7 – 26.6 – 1.00
    Switzerland – 20.9 – 23.5 – 0.89
    United Kingdom – 38.6 – 32.3 – 1.20
    United States – 45.1 – 33.5 – 1.35

    A few interesting observations.

    1) From the second column, it appears that the richest 10% in any given country have around 30% of the income (+/- 4%). The US isn’t much of an outlier in this regard.

    2) From the first column, the US pays a higher percentage of income tax (including personal & payroll tax) than any other country on the list, with only Italy also being above 40%.

    3) With a ratio of 1.35 (in 2005 – higher other years), the top 10% already pay MORE in tax compared to their percentage of income than any other country.

    What this means – even in more egalitarian countries like Western Europe, the tax burden is more equally spread, with people in lower income brackets also paying something. In some of the most “socialistic” Nordic countries, the ratios are surprisingly all around 1 or even less. For example, in Norway, the richest 10% get 28.9% of the income, yet only pay 27.4% of the income tax. In Iceland, the ratio is even less.

    So again, as people have said above, the current US policy of ever increasing spending while still maintaining essentially no income tax on half the population is NOT sustainable. The half of the population that gets benefits yet passes the costs of these benefits on the the other half wants to elect leaders that perpetuate this policy. It won’t work much longer.

    I actually agree with Will in principle. There should still be a progressive tax system, but flatter. If people actually had to pay something for what they were receiving, perhaps we could actually get political support to reduce spending – which is the real answer.

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  41. Mark N. on August 7, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    The reason the poor in the US don’t pay taxes is because we, as a society, have concluded that they don’t earn enough to live on, let alone pay taxes on. If we want tax revenues to go up, then we need to find a way to have the poor earn more taxable income.

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  42. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on August 7, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    maybe Romneys extra tax returns = Obamas birth certificate and all the fun that goes along with that?

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  43. Stephen R. Marsh on August 7, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    The poor, for the most part, pay social security and medicare/medicaid taxes. Those who are paying “0%” are actually paying over 15%.

    Once you break 102k, you are suddenly out of the Social Security tax area, and your tax rate drops by that approximately 15%

    (ok, actual number is currently $110,100.00. Current rate is 10.4% + 2.9% due to the discount we have going on as part of the stimulus).

    For more see: http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/240/~/2012-social-security-tax-rate-and-maximum-taxable-earnings

    I suspect the “magic number” of the amount you have to draw out in salary instead of dividends is going to go up to $110k from 100k in the next year or so. I’ll have to ask an accountant (I don’t have that, err, problem in my life).

    So it is not true to say that the poor pay no taxes (skipping state and local taxes such as sales taxes).

    Personally, I expect to see an expansion of the alternative minimum tax rate to capital gains as it is applied to financial advisers and the like.

    From the second column, it appears that the richest 10% in any given country have around 30% of the income (+/- 4%). The US isn’t much of an outlier in this regard.

    That is interesting too.

    Iceland is an outlier, given the massive implosion and other issues they have had.

    But still, I’m intrigued by the European numbers.

    Too bad you are making such good sense. Not much to comment on what you are saying otherwise, Mike S.

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  44. hawkgrrrl on August 7, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Thanks, Mike S – appreciate you pulling those figures while I was sleeping! Yes, it’s true that the rich pay disproportionate taxes. It’s also true that the poor in the US are all wealthier than the middle class in India or China. The poor in the US are wealthier than many leaders of poor nations, those nations’ richest citizens. The current poverty line in the US is $11,700/yr for a one person household. This puts that person in the top 12% world-wide. http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/resources/how-rich-you-are.php

    Balancing the budget means cutting spending. The boomers are of course a drain on this. It was easier to balance spending when we had a generation that was largely killed off in a world war, not as easy when we had a huge generation spawned in the wake of war all of whom are coming to retirement age at the same time.

    IMO, the US should be a wealthy nation, but we are not using economic wisdom right now.

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  45. Bonnie on August 7, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Amen, Mark N. 1000 times. Instead of chasing the snake, let’s get the poison out. The poison is poverty, lack of education, and diminished families and communities. If we focus there, the tax revenues will come.

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  46. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    The reason the poor in the US don’t pay taxes is because we, as a society, have concluded that they don’t earn enough to live on, let alone pay taxes on. If we want tax revenues to go up, then we need to find a way to have the poor earn more taxable income.

    Exactly.

    Like giving them universal health care. Or maternal and paternal leave. Or universal child care for pre-school. So many ways you can help the poor in this country that other countries have succeeded in accomplishing that make their lives much easier.

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  47. Dan on August 7, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    hawkgrrrrl,

    IMO, the US should be a wealthy nation, but we are not using economic wisdom right now.

    yeah, we’re taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Tell me, how is this smart economics? If close to 50% of the wealth is in the hands of less than 1% of the population, how is that smart economics?

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  48. Mike S on August 7, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    #47 Dan: we’re taking from the poor and giving to the rich

    I hear rhetoric like this and counter with a request for facts. Actual facts:

    In 1922, the top 1% in the US held 36.7% of wealth in the US.
    In 1939, it was 33.3%
    In 1969, it was 31.1%
    In 1989, it was 35.7%
    In 2007, it was 34.6%

    So, for nearly a century, the share of wealth in the US held by the top 1% has been quite constant. It’s not a matter of our current policies “taking from the poor and giving to the rich”, but is relatively flat.

    Why is this? Why do 1% have this share of the wealth? It’s simple – capitalism. This wealth isn’t cash sitting around, simply waiting for the “rich” to spend it on whatever. It is stock, financial securities, and business equity. These are people who started businesses, hired a lot of people, and who were successful.

    Bill Gates is worth billions, but he has also directly or indirectly employed hundreds of thousands of people. He has improved efficiencies for hundreds of millions of people. It is similar with many, many other people in the US. And as these businesses grow, business equity and stocks grow.

    What is the result of this? People have jobs. The cut off for the bottom 20% in the United States for household income is $20,453. Out of over 180 countries ranked by per capita income, even this $20k number is still higher than the average for most of the world. People in this country generally have indoor plumbing, cell phones, flat screen TVs, cars, etc., even in the bottom 20% income range. This would be viewed as “living large” by much of the world. And even in this country, someone from 40 years ago seeing a house with a microwave and a cell phone and a flat screen on the wall would be amazed. Why is this possible? Because of the people who started companies and employed people and created products and raised the standard of living for the United States.

    So, when we talk about taking money from the “rich” and giving it to the poor, what are CONCRETE steps you would like to do to “fix” the problem?

    - Would you like them to sell off their businesses to liquidate their business equity and give it to the government? Where would their employees then find jobs?

    - Would you like them to sell off their stocks and give that money to the government? What would happen when those companies go under and fire their employees?

    - Would you like them to sell off their bonds? What would happen when the government couldn’t borrow any more trillions to pay for Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare and any other program that is helping the 50% who pay no income tax?

    Your rhetoric is fine, but on a practical basis, what would YOU do? As per comment #40, the top 10% ALREADY pay a disproportionate amount in income tax compared to EVERY OTHER COUNTRY. Would you raise that higher? And what asset should they sell to give that money to the government?

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  49. Mark N. on August 8, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/americans-want-to-live-in-a-much-more-equal-country-they-just-dont-realize-it/260639/#

    According the the article linked above, “Based on Wolff (2010), the bottom 40% of the population combined has only 0.3% of wealth while the top 20% possesses 84%”.

    (For the sake of completeness, the bottom 20% have .01% of the wealth, the next 20% have .02% of the wealth, the middle 20% have 4% of the wealth, the next 20% have 11% and the top 20% have 84%.)

    I don’t know how that squares with the (unsourced) facts provided in #48. Maybe it does.

    How does one decide how much wealth is too much? My favorite Nibley saying is: More than enough is more than enough.

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  50. Mark N. on August 8, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    hawkgrrrl: “Yes, it’s true that the rich pay disproportionate taxes.”

    Disproportionate is in the eye of the beholder. It’s like defining “fair”.

    “It’s also true that the poor in the US are all wealthier than the middle class in India or China. The poor in the US are wealthier than many leaders of poor nations, those nations’ richest citizens.”

    Apples and oranges. Poor Americans don’t have the same standard of living, and associated expenses, that the poor in other countries have.

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  51. hawkgrrrl on August 8, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    “Poor Americans don’t have the same standard of living, and associated expenses, that the poor in other countries have.” True enough, and people in poor nations are wary of credit (if they can even obtain it) whereas Americans have no qualms about outspending their means.

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  52. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Mike,

    http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2010/04/30/top-1-increased-their-share-of-wealth-in-financial-crisis/

    According to his analysis, the top 1% held 34.6% of all national wealth in 2007. By Dec. 31, 2009, they held 35.6%.

    Meanwhile, share of national wealth held by the bottom 90% fell to 25% from 27%.

    So much for “trickle down”. I was wrong in saying their wealth equaled near 50%, but as you can see, their wealth went up through the economic crisis, and now they are closer to what it was in the 1920s. Frankly, I don’t know why rich people are not happy with Obama. They’ve been tearing it up with him in office!

    In any case,

    These are people who started businesses, hired a lot of people, and who were successful.

    Let’s put this bullcrap to rest. The filthy rich DO NOT INVEST their money into the market to help poor people get jobs. That’s just a load of bullcrap. That’s why poor people are not getting more money out of the capitalistic system even though the rich are doing so well right now.

    What is the result of this? People have jobs.

    So let me see, the rich got richer since the downturn….uh, where are those jobs?

    So, when we talk about taking money from the “rich” and giving it to the poor, what are CONCRETE steps you would like to do to “fix” the problem?

    Very simple.

    1. Invest in our infrastructure, which needs a makeover and upgrade. Roads, bridges, buildings, sewers, etc. Can’t tell you how much this is needed in this country right now.

    2. Invest in universal health care

    3. invest in universal pre-school, giving parents more economic freedom.

    4. invest in maternal and paternal leave for parents so they can care for their kids and NOT give that care to someone else.

    5. Pay teachers A HELL OF A LOT MORE than they are right now. If you want the cream of the crop teaching our children, you better be damn well ready to pay them what they are worth. You wanna know why South Korea kicks arse in education? Because they LOVE their teachers there. They don’t demonize them as we do here.

    That’s just the start. Is that good enough for you? Let me tell you, that will “trickle down” that wealth to the poor.

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  53. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    hawkgrrrl,

    True enough, and people in poor nations are wary of credit (if they can even obtain it) whereas Americans have no qualms about outspending their means.

    Wow, you REALLY hate poor people! Blaming them for everything. Have you ever considered that credit card companies might share a large part of the blame as well? Yeesh!

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  54. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    Mike,

    One more thing. I think I would want to see what some of our Founding Fathers talked about.

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch15s32.html

    Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.

    That’s Thomas Jefferson. Or Thomas Paine

    [C]reate a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property. And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.

    I side with them.

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  55. Jenn on August 8, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Dan, I like you. We should be friends:)

    I wish every person would have to be “poor” enough to need assistance for just one year (better yet, have everyone not have access to a group healthcare plan for a year). It is amazing how your perspective changes, and you realize how broken the system is, and you want to start helping!
    I’ve done just that. We went from not having enough to pay our modest bills (and needing trips to the bishop’s storehouse- amazing what happens on a public teacher’s salary when your car breaks down and the kid needs a trip to the ER) to a 6-figure salary in 2-3 years time (we have been very very blessed in the last few years).

    Amazingly, I didn’t make the switch to being fiscally liberal during my “poor years”- it was when we started to be blessed financially and I realized how many preconceived notions I had about fault and control in poverty that were completely wrong.

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  56. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    Jenn,

    Dan, I like you. We should be friends:)

    If you are on facebook, and on the Bloggernacle Friends group, then I am the Dan that commented on Andrew linking to this post. :D

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  57. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 8, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Not to mention the proportion of national taxes that go to pay the health expenses of non-compliant diabetic poor people.

    Lots of interesting data here.

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  58. Will on August 8, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Everyone one is overlooking the real issue here when it comes to taxes and spending. THE problem in the United States is that we have become an entitlement society. Some people expect to be paid for doing nothing; we have too many idle rich and idle poor; some retirees expect to keep receiving their monthly check in spite of the fact most of them receive every dime they paid into the system within 22 months after they retire; some of the old and poor expect free health care and medicine; some kids grow up expecting a car when they turn 16 (and most parents enable them) and expect that their parents will pay for their mission and college; some newly-weds expect to move into a home of their own right out of college; some expect the government to forgive their college tuition debt or expect a free college education; above all, Obama can and probably will win by offering more freebies. As noted in Helaman 5:2, this will lead to our destruction.

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  59. Mike S on August 8, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    #52 Dan:

    I absolutely agree with your 5 points. I would love to see investing in infrastructure, health care, pre-school, maternal/paternal leave and especially paying teachers A LOT MORE. I agree with all that and much more – so our goals are the same.

    I lived in Europe on my mission and have been back a number of times. They have many (or all) of those things and, despite the rhetoric of Obama wanting to make us “socialist”, there is a lot to be said for what they have.

    However, you didn’t explain HOW to pay for it. These things are all expensive. There is a model for HOW to pay for it, and it is again Europe. Would you accept their model for taxes? For example:

    1) VAT: Europe and most countries in the world have a value-added tax. In the European Union, they are expected to have at least a 15% VAT. In the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, etc), the average VAT is 25%. This is a 25% surcharge added at every level of manufacturing. China has a 17% VAT, which represents 33% of ALL the taxes received by the government.

    In the United States, every time a VAT has been proposed, people protest against it because of it’s “regressive” nature. It is claimed that poor pay more under a VAT system, and that it is unfair. But it is how EVERY OTHER COUNTRY pays for the benefits you list.

    2) Personal Income Tax: As in the numbers I showed above, the United States ALREADY puts a disproportionate share of income tax on the richer portion. Again, take Norway as an example. If you include their version of social security and taxes, by the time someone is making roughly $10k / year, they are already in a 15% tax bracket. By the time they are making $100k / year, with surcharges and progressive tax rates, they are paying around 37%.

    So, in many of these countries, the highest tax rate actually ISN’T higher than the United States, but is roughly equivalent. The difference is that the bottom 50% actually DO pay something in income tax as well.

    As I said, your goals are admirable and I agree with them 100%. But the reality is that the money has to come from somewhere. To pay for your goals, are you willing to accept: 1) a national VAT with its potentially regressive nature AND 2) an increase in personal income taxes for the 50% of American who don’t really pay any under our current system?

    If you want the “European” model of benefits, you need to use the “European” model of payment. You cannot disconnect the two, as the money simply isn’t there under our current system. Unless you’re willing to increase taxes on the lower and middle classes in the United States through a VAT and income tax, you have a pipe dream.

    It’s a nice dream, but it’s still a dream.

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  60. alice on August 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I took a single economics class in college. I hated and it and didn’t get much out of it so I acknowledge I’m waaaay in over my head in this conversation but there are still a few things I want to say.

    First of all, forget the comparisons of the US to European economies or the middle class of India. The comparison I think is useful is the one to America before the Reagan and Bain Capital eras. In that comparison I think we’re suffering greatly if we’re not one of the, possibly, top 5%. And I don’t think there’s much question that the present conditions or future prospects for the middle class are good or even tolerable.

    Secondly, for me it comes down to the question “honest in your dealings with your fellow man”. Did Bain embody the Gordon Gekko values of the Reagan era? Did it eliminate American jobs? Did Romney pocket exorbitant amounts of cash without thought to the effect it had on individual households and the larger American economy?

    Thirdly, I think the American public is entitled to evaluate those tax returns before being asked to cast ballots. And, frankly, the more Romney digs in his heels and withholds them the more critical they seem to me to be to voters and the worse the presumptions about them grow.

    Fourthly, the undisclosed tax returns fit into a pattern of unusual secrecy that included sealing the record on the SLC Olympics and wiping the MA state computers or doing state business on private computers that the state no longer has access to. These are different matters than the question of privacy that an individual American not running for public office is entitled to.

    If Romney is not ready for transparency and for the scrutiny of his private life, he is not ready for the Presidency and I don’t believe the American public or the American economy is ready for him. I genuinely wish I felt differently. I can’t make myself when I wonder how he answers his bishop when the question of his dealings with his fellow man comes up.

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  61. Bob on August 8, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    #59: Mike S,
    Bring on the VAT!!! I am 67 and I already own all my stuff!

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  62. Mike S on August 8, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    #60 alice: for me it comes down to the question “honest in your dealings with your fellow man”

    This is a great point. Unfortunately, I think people have a disconnect when it comes to business.

    A few years back I was teaching Elders’ Quorum. The topic was on honesty. I gave an example of something that happened to a relative who arranged for some work to be done for his brother’s father-in-law. He wasn’t making anything off it, but was basically doing it as a favor.

    At the end of the job, the father-in-law paid him around $3000 LESS than the invoices that he just passed along. When he confronted him, he was told that it would cost $2800 to take him to small claims court, so he could just eat the $3000, or else spend $2800 collecting the $3000, and spend a lot of time and effort.

    I gave this story as an example of what I thought was something that was legal, yet dishonest. I was surprised that fully half of the men in the quorum then spoke up and explained that “business honesty” was different than “personal honesty”. They explained that that was just how business worked. They said that everyone did it, and that if you DIDN’T do it, that you couldn’t compete and would go out of business.

    I didn’t have anything to add, so I ended the lesson 15 minutes early.

    So, it’s not just Romney. The same attitude is alive and well, even down to my ward here in SLC, and even to the point where they defend their actions in an elders’ quorum lesson on honesty.

    I disagree 100% percent, but am apparently in the minority.

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  63. alice on August 8, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Mike, I’m certain there is a convenient operating difference between what honesty means in life and in business. I don’t respect it. I think it’s what’s gone very, very wrong in American life. But I appreciate that it exists.

    Even so, my husband has to do firings in his position. He does it like his father did. That means serious reflection on the effect it has for the people involved. He has to balance out his fiduciary responsibility to the company he represents and the certain knowledge that he’s impacting a family and a person’s career future. I know this because I’ve been in those conversations when he works through his certainty that it’s the appropriate and necessary course of events. And then he does it face to face.

    I don’t think the fact that someone can insulate themselves by layers of hierarchy or gross numbers of individuals involved in the firings excuses anything. And the idea of having these mass firings as an objective to target things like pension plans was and remains odious to me.

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  64. Mike S on August 8, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Here’s ultimately the problem with fixing the problem by “taxing the rich” – and it’s very basic math. In 2010, there were 3.1 million “millionaires” in the United States, or roughly 1% of the 310 million population. By household, it’s probably 2-3% depending on how it’s counted.

    If you take the combined wealth of the millionaires, completely liquidate it and give it all to the government, it would be $11.6 trillion. This would involve selling ALL of their stocks, bonds and businesses (not sure who you would sell it to, as no one would have any money to buy it – maybe China or Europe?)

    Then compare that to the current deficit: $15.93 trillion. Even liquidating ALL of the assets of the richest population and selling their businesses would still leave trillions of deficit.

    Now, consider that the top 1% already pay 38% of the US income tax. They obviously wouldn’t pay any tax any more, as they wouldn’t have anything to pay tax on.

    So, now we’re left with trillions in a deficit, and we’d still have to cut current spending 30-40% to make up for lost tax revenue (no business taxes either, as those were all sold off).

    Ultimately, the only way to fix the problem is to CUT BENEFITS. PERIOD. We can’t tax our way out of the problem. We can bitch and moan about this.

    So I again ask Dan (and others) – what solution do you have? Not a list of additional benefits you’d like to see, but actual numbers. How are we going to fix the problem?

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  65. Roger on August 8, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    It is time to bring back the “thumbs down” icon. It hurts too much to just sit and swallow bile.

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  66. Douglas on August 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Problem? As long as Mitt has complied with the tax laws, however much (or little) Federal Income Tax that he’s paid, and he’s complied with the Federal Election Commission requirements, he has NO problem.
    Mitt’s a better member than I. I’d give a curt dismissal, saying, “None of your business!”. Subsequent inquiries would be met with ever-increasing profane responses.
    We’ve reached a deplorable state of affairs when Americans, blessed to live in what is still one of the freest and most prosperous nations, EVER, grouse about amount or percentage that a man pays in taxes.
    And yes, there IS unfairness, because the relatively higher earner who is not in a position to arrange his financial affairs to either make the bulk of his income tax-free (ex: dividends from municipal bonds) or tax-deferred, or to simply retain expert accountants and tax attorneys that know all the tricks. Anyone who is “rich” would be a fool not to retain the services of same (if nothing else, free their time and efforts to what made them wealthy in the first place), but the “unfairness” is that the tax code is so convoluted that the expertise of “tax people” is necessary in the first place. As for a high-salaried person being in effect penalized, it’s simply evidence that the “Progressive” tax code does NOT encourage progress at all (else, why would anyone cave in to the admitted truth that lower capital gains taxes promote economic growth?). So the top tax rate SHOULD be what capital gains are capped at now, since we’ve established how much of a cut Uncle Sam can skim off before it becomes a “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” situation. Those that carp about “unfairness” miss out on several points about the tax code: for the high-earners, things like child tax exemptions and mortgage deductions phase out and disappear altogether.
    As for how much tithing, ok, that too, either way, is not fodder for public consumption. So say, regardless of tax liability, that the Romneys pulled down, say, ten million in 2006. We’d expect to a see a cool million in tithes paid. Suppose it was more (I’ve little doubt that Mitt and Ann are VERY generous in their fast offerings), or less? Either way, it’s the Romney’s own business, and between them, their bishop/Stake President, and, most important, the Lord. We Americans, even in the Church, seem to have little or no class anymore.
    Don’t resent the rich, learn what got them rich and follow their example, if it’s a good one. Else, blame yourself for your own foibles and laziness.

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  67. Bob on August 8, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    #66: Douglas,
    Where or how he, Romney, got his money is *TO ME* not ” His own business!”. I want to know! And if I don’t think he earned it fair, I want it back. The same with all super rich guys. I believe wealth should be taxed, not income.

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  68. Mike S on August 8, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    For the sake of full disclosure, I actually voted for Obama in the last election. I agree absolutely with the goals that Dan has. I think there is a lot to say for the European model.

    However, the reality is that the money simply isn’t there. The European economies are running into this reality now with their various debt crises. My biggest issue with Obama and crew now is that they have become very populist. They promise increased benefits with no true means proposed for paying for it.

    While I may not agree with everything Romney stands for either, I’m sure he made his money legally. I’m sure there’s nothing more to “hide” than not wanting to provide more fodder for the “class wars” that Obama is attempting to bring up in this election. It’s as simple as that.

    And ironically, for all of the lip service we pay to more equality in our church, we don’t seem to truly believe in it either. Mormons tend to vote conservative – for fiscal reasons as much as social. We promote successful businessmen in the hierarchy. We build billion dollar malls with stores like Tiffany and Porsche and Hugo Boss that most members can’t even afford to patronize. We own private hunting reserves with memberships costing thousands and thousands just to set foot on the property. We worship the dollar.

    Perhaps we should fix our own attitudes before pointing at everyone else.

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  69. Douglas on August 8, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    #67-”And if I don’t THINK he earned it FAIR….”. Obviously rule of law and respect for private property. You’re espousing the lack of ethics in a thief. And how, pray tell, do you decide ‘Fairness?’.
    “I want it BACK” – it was never YOURS to begin with. You seem to have a problem with those that (ala the late John Houseman) “urnned” it, Comrade Dan.

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  70. Stephen R. Marsh on August 8, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    For the sake of full disclosure, I actually voted for Obama in the last election. I agree absolutely with the goals that Dan has. I think there is a lot to say for the European model.

    However, the reality is that the money simply isn’t there. The European economies are running into this reality now with their various debt crises. My biggest issue with Obama and crew now is that they have become very populist. They promise increased benefits with no true means proposed for paying for it.

    Sure looks that way, which makes me sad.

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  71. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Mike,

    However, the reality is that the money simply isn’t there.

    yes, it is there. Look Mike, we taxed the top earners at 90% back in the Eisenhower days! 90%! Obviously with loopholes, that was less than 90%, but don’t tell me the money isn’t there. You know what Eisenhower did with that money? He built the freeway system. He paid down our war debts. It’s amazing what you can do. OF COURSE the money is there. We’re sitting on trillions and trillions of dollars in this country and we suck at distributing it so that not just the top 10% of the country is well off.

    And yes, Mike, I would prefer a European model, but tweaked to work under America’s system. It CAN be done. But not with the current crop of leadership we have in this country. So, the best we can get is what we’ve got. Obama gives us something more in that direction, while Romney cares only for the rich. I don’t know about you, but while I am wealthy, I cannot in good conscience as a follower of Christ, vote for someone who only gives a damn about rich people.

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  72. Douglas on August 8, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    #72 – So being a “follower” of Christ impels you to promote envy and jealousy of the rich? It justifies the effective theft of monies from those that earned it to give to those that didn’t? Yes, vote as your conscience dictates – but somehow methinks you’re believing yourself influenced by ‘Jiminy Cricket’, when I say you’re Listening to an Imp.

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  73. Mike S on August 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    #71 Dan: Look Mike, we taxed the top earners at 90% back in the Eisenhower days!

    Agreed, but there are MAJOR differences. Again, let’s look at facts. Eisenhower served in office from 1953 – 1961. In 1954, the top marginal rate he inherited was 91% on incomes above $1.67M (in 2008 dollars). By the end of his term, it was 77% on income above $2.8M (in 2008 dollars). So, the top marginal tax rate was at an historical high. But why?

    1) Military: We had just finished WWII and incurred a lot of debt. We were in the Korean War. We were in the Cold War. The war debt was staggering. In 1943, the government took in $24 billion and spent $78 billion. In 1944 and 1945 it took in around $45 billion each year but spent $91 billion. We literally spent 200-300% of revenue on the war.

    As a result, in 1953, 69.4% of the governments revenue from all sources was used for defense – one of the primary purposes of government. Wars tend (hopefully) to be episodic events. As the war debts get paid down and conflicts end, there isn’t as much need for the high tax revenue.

    This happened. Tax rates went down to their current levels (and had already started doing so during Eisenhower’s tenure). In 2011, the government spend 18.9% of revenue on defense. And according to the White House, they are projecting spending 13% on defense in 2017.

    2) Social Security: Around the time Eisenhower took office, in 1950, there were 3.5 million people on Social Security. They spent $0.9 billion on social security. In 1960, there were 14.8 million people at a cost of $11.2 billion.

    Fast forward to now. There were 51 million people getting social security benefits in 2008. Adjusting the $11.2 billion for inflation would give us $81 billion. But we spend A LOT more than that. In 2008, social security cost $615.3 billion.

    3) Health care: Eisenhower also didn’t have to deal with this, as Medicare and Medicaid were started in 1965.

    So, where are we now and why is our current system non-sustainable – even with Eisenhower level taxes? Social benefits.

    In 1953, even with a 91% marginal tax rate, the government spent 69.4% of it revenue on defense, and 15.6 % on human resources (ie. social security, health, welfare, etc).

    In 2011, the government spent 18.9% on defense and 65.2% on human resources, or over 4x as much. And according to White House estimates, in 2017, human resources will account for 68% of revenues with interest on the debt accounting for 12.5%. Fully 80% of our revenue will be used for social benefits and interest to pay for them.

    And it will only get worse. There are going to be more beneficiaries on social security. There are going to be more beneficiaries on Medicare and Medicaid. The debt will continue to climb. Interest on the debt will continue to rise.

    There is a HUGE difference between now and Eisenhower’s era. Once a war debt is paid down, it is paid down and taxes can return to a more sustainable level. Social benefits, however, CANNOT be “paid down”. They increase, nearly exponentially. And they bankrupt entire countries.

    To balance the budget without cutting benefits or raising taxes on the “poor”, you would have to increase the top marginal rate to 175%. That is mathematically impossible.

    To use the assets of the “rich” to pay off the debt would require selling off ALL of the stocks, bonds AND business equity in essentially the entire country, and it would still leave us with trillions in debt. The money simply isn’t there.

    It’s not as simple as pointing to Eisenhower’s 90% tax rates. That wouldn’t work now. He didn’t have Medicare. He didn’t have Medicaid. He had a minimal social security burden. And it was a temporary fix to short-term war debt. There is NO COUNTRY in the modern (or nearly any) era who has sustained a 90% marginal tax rate. It is deeply flawed economics.

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  74. Douglas on August 8, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Dan has shown why Bro. Reid and his fellow Democrats are making the shrill call about Romney’s taxes. They’ve got nothing but class envy to sell. But with the great amounts of the voting populace that are financially and culturally ignorant (and some morally destitute), it’s a message that might just saddle us with four more years of the Kenyan alderman from Chicago.

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  75. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    sorry Mike, but you have not proven that the money is not there, because your assumption is that our debt right now cannot be managed as a country, which is not accurate. Social Security does NOT add to our debt. That is a self sustaining program. And ironically, it is the easiest to fix anytime there is a shortage of funds.

    The reason we are in debt right now are because of several things.

    1. Bush’s tax cuts which were not funded. In other words, Bush and the Congress said, “let’s just cut revenue by $1 trillion dollars and somehow magically government revenue will GO UP.” oh the stupidity!

    2. Bush’s Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which were also not funded. No need to comment any further there. First time, i think, in our history, that we started wars without increasing taxes in order to pay for them. Though I may be wrong about that.

    3. Medicare Part D. Also unfunded. Thank you Bush. Thank you Paul Ryan. Thank you Republicans.

    4. the economic downturn, which obviously reduced taxable income.

    You wanna know how to fix this? It’s quite easy actually.

    1. Let Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthy. Magically you get $1 trillion revenue all of a sudden. It’s amazing how when you increase taxes, tax revenue increases. Who woulda thunk it!

    2. Invest in our infrastructure. i.e. give jobs to workers who need jobs on things that need work. Can’t you see, Mike? The market is BEGGING America to borrow money right now. Our interest rate is NEGATIVE, which means that the market is willing to actually GIVE America money in order for America to borrow money. You’ve got need (infrastructure). You’ve got desire (workers galore who need work). You’ve got funds (banks desperately want you to borrow). Why the hell are we not doing this?

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  76. Will on August 8, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    I think this discussion is representative of where we are headed as a nation — class warfare.

    Moral of this discussion: 1) if you are in debt get out 2) stay out of debt 3) spend less than you make and wisely invest the difference. Invest in real things like real property, gold and silver. 4) have adequate storage for the calamity that is coming 5) carry a loaded weapon at all tImes.

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  77. Dan on August 8, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    class warfare is already being waged by the rich upon the poor. hawkgrrl’s comment earlier berating American poor people for daring to use credit! How dare they! only the rich can use credit!

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  78. Will on August 8, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Dan,

    Mike is 100% correct in his analysis. 100%. Social programs need to be cut. Raising taxes, especially on business, will not increase revenue. Unlike the government they can’t print money. They have to balance their budget or they go out of business (unless they get bailed out and that is another discussion). If they pay more in taxes, they have to make cuts elsewhere and since payroll is usually the biggest expense this is where they cut expenses with layoffs or payroll deduction. This means less taxable revenue and thus revenue to the treasury. So raising taxes will not increase revenue. It is really simple and is illustrated in the current economy. Tax revenue is down as the pool of taxpayers are down as unemployment is 18 percent when you do real math and not the broken math used to calculate the current rate.

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  79. Jenn on August 8, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    Let’s add realistically to that list:
    1) Be born into a situation where you are either provided for, or provided opportunity (and mind you, that opportunity must only come from the private sector- no pell grants here!).
    2) Be born with a high enough IQ to understand the economy
    3) Be raised in a family that teaches work ethic, money management, logic/consequences, and the value of education
    4) Never have an unexpected expense beyond your means to pay (hear that? no cancer allowed. also, no unexpected pregnancies, car problems, divorces, or extended family that may need help).
    5) Don’t work at any job where you might ever get laid off. Only predictable, steady, well-paying industries allowed.
    6) Live in a society that doesn’t have a need of landscapers, lunch ladies, or any other job that could not reasonably provide for a young family in a world where housing and healthcare cost 3 times what they did decades ago (even after you adjust for inflation)
    7) Live in a recession-proof society where idiots on wall street’s awful choices don’t leave thousands without jobs.
    8) Don’t get old. Just don’t. Financially, it a bad decision. Just stay young. And if you ARE going to age, make sure you make sound financial decisions your whole life, and never invest unless your economy is recession-proof.
    9) Don’t make mistakes. Or if you do, make sure they are the type of mistakes that don’t affect finances or health.
    10) Don’t live in a country that participates in unprofitable wars.
    11) Don’t be an entrepreneur. Don’t even WORK for an entrepreneur. Oh wait, that’s also a way to get rich. Um, k, you can be an entrepreneur but only the type that succeeds. Let’s throw all that risky innovation stuff out the window.

    After all, why can’t we ALL be in the top 5%? Or at least the top 50%? Oh wait, you mean that’s not mathematically possible?

    The truth is, there will always be poor. There will always be debt. Aside from stupidity, sometimes bad stuff happens to good people, and they are forced to rely on the help of others. And yes, sometimes people get in bad situations for no fault other than their own. The Christ-like thing to do isn’t to say “they did it to themselves” but rather “what can I do to help, what could I have done to help?” (and yes, there are ways to help without encourages laziness- I’m all for welfare reform).

    In an ideal society, society itself would take care of this. We’re not that ideal society- especially when members of a religion that prides itself on being Christ-like thinks they are only obliged to help people who make the same kind of financial decisions they do, and let people who make bad decisions or have bad luck fend for themselves- and their children.

    And if someone is making 15 (or 150) times what they need to make to live a very comfortable lifestyle thinks it is “unfair” to give more of what is undeniably a surplus income, ask them to explain “fair” to the school teacher who busted his butt every day of his life and lived within his means until his wife got cancer, or the kid born into a crackhouse who will have to deny everything he is exposed to in his first 12 years of life if he doesn’t want to be a drug addict or criminal. Or the young wife who has never once been in consumer debt but finds herself pregnant without maternity coverage at the same time that her car breaks down (that was me, by the way- but I lucked out, I had a family and church who took care of me, and now I get to be on the giving side.)

    Yes, the rich work hard and make smart choices with their money (and sometimes with other people’s money). But then, sometimes the rich make bad choices with other people’s money (subprime mortgages, anyone?).
    We are not all islands, and it is economically impossible for a capitalist society to be made up 100% of financially independent individuals (inflation, anyone?). Yes, it is possible to get ahead in a capitalist society, but doesn’t “get ahead” by nature mean that someone is left behind? That’s fine, we won’t all be equal (by all means, get ahead and succeed!), but let’s make sure the people who are left behind are cared for and provided opportunity too, especially if we have the extra income to do so.

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  80. Douglas on August 8, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Point by point refutations:

    1) “Bush” tax cuts not PAID for? First off, one “pays” taxes, a cut is less confiscation of the fruits of labor of John and Jane Q Taxpayer. But I agree that spending should be likewise reduced, if not more so.

    2) Allow the “Bush” tax cuts to expire – “Shrub” seems to be the bogeyman of choice for liberal twits. He wasn’t to my liking either, though for different reasons. Me think GWB sticks in the craw of liberals because twice they blew Presidential elections against a GOP lightweight. Raising taxes on the “rich” (as defined by income only) will end up hitting the middle to upper-middle class harder as they depend on earned income far more. The rich can hunker down and either redeem assets or switch to nontaxable sources (like munis). Either way, taxing the rich inevitably proves counterproductive.

    3)The reference to someone making serious bank (about 15 to 150 times a “comfortable” lifestyle? And who determines that?) in comparison to a working stiff who experiences setbacks due to no fault. Wah wah wah. And this constitutes justification for the Federal Government to plunder the productive? More liberal vacuity…measuring their compassion by how generous they are with other people’s money.

    4) “Making money with OTHER people”s money” – more financial ignorance and vacuity demonstrated. If you mean something like TARP money, I completely agree. If you mean they did it thanks to investors, that’s just the free market doing its wonders.

    Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?

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  81. Will on August 8, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Jenn,

    Your comment is thoughtful, but it also demonstrates the problem and that is acting on emotion instead of good financial sense. You can take care of the poor and needy without going bankrupt. The church has demonstrated this is possible — financially stable and providing for the poor,

    President Monson put it well in a leadership meeting when he indicated the government welfare plan effectively pays people to be poor. He is right. By their fruits shall ye know them and the fruits of government social programs are dependency and bankruptcy. They simply don’t work and when (not if) they go bankrupt the people they are designed to help will be hurt the most.

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  82. hawkgrrrl on August 8, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    I only really want to address a few points from above:

    1) Jenn referenced Bain cutting jobs and stated that this is an honesty factor for Romney, that the work he did there makes him dishonest in his dealings with his fellowmen (a Mormon phrase if ever there was one). I have no love for consultants, but I disagree that they create the problems they are trying to solve. The companies they “help” are going to go under, they are in serious trouble and often no longer viable, and the jobs will be gone anyway. Their own internal problems have caused the issue: they quit innovating or listening to customers or responding to market factors, or maybe they had bad luck.

    We may not like to shake the undertaker’s hand, but I for one am glad someone exists to bury the bodies. IMO, companies should only require this type of consulting work as a very last resort. But in my experience, that’s what it is. Nobody goes to a Bain consulting firm until other options are exhausted.

    2) The impact of 9/11 and our response to it (Iraq, Afghanistan, making the US difficult to enter for tourism) IMO is a big factor in the deficit and the inability of the government to balance the budget. And that was on Bush’s watch. Like Mike S, I voted for Obama. But this populist appeal is unrealistic. I don’t like Romney’s pandering to the rich, and I don’t like Obama’s populist pandering. We have two very flawed political platforms.

    3) Dan suggests investing in infrastructure as a way to create jobs. That’s classic Obama, but I’m concerned about it for two reasons: a) you can’t take the IT guy who was laid off from HP and hand him an orange vest and a road sign – our workforce is mostly trained in information skills, not manual labor required to build infrastructure so this just creates underemployment, and 2) I don’t trust the government any more than I trust under-regulated private enterprise. Actually I trust them less because they don’t have to care about customers (taxpayers) – the government just takes what it says it needs for its projects, and they have an appalling record of budget balancing; nearly all government agencies overspend! If businesses did that (and some do), Bain would be there, ready to do the tough stuff the companies wouldn’t do and then scavenge the wreckage.

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  83. Bob on August 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    #82:hawkgrrrl,
    Romney did not make multi-millions “consulting”.
    If you don’t think it takes IT guys to build roads and bridges as IT guys, you are mistaken.

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  84. hawkgrrrl on August 8, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Jenn, I think your points are all over the map; some are about individuals (personal support structures like families and churches and local communities also help mitigate these)and some are about society at large (political solutions must address these). If individuals hit hard luck, as you’ve clearly articulated they sometimes do, society should be able to handle this.

    But we’ve got a LOT of people who either are or believe they are in that situation, more than a realistic number to deal with through our existing funding, and that’s thanks to the recession and how many jobs have been lost as well as demographic shifts. The country is in that situation. Obama didn’t create that situation, but it’s his job to get us out of it. Leaders define reality and give hope. Obama hasn’t defined reality accurately or given hope – his plans to get out are unrealistic or non-existent and have so far resulted in our country being downgraded in the eyes of the world economy. I’m not sure Romney can fix it either – he’s clearly got his own flaws.

    On an individual level, there are always going to be some limiting factors: intelligence, social support (e.g. families that provide opportunities rather than hinder them), health, luck in one’s employment as relates to factors outside of control. When you start talking about people making mistakes, it’s interesting that you want forgiveness for human frailty everywhere except wall street and warmongering, but of course people in financial services industry also make mistakes – some are greedy and conspiratorial, but some are just incompetent and in a position to do real damage. Truth be told, you are right that people everywhere make mistakes, and those mistakes have impacts to individuals, families, and the social structure we live in.

    Government regulations should prevent society level impacts to the extent possible, but clearly the controls weren’t correct for lending that led to the housing crash. As a consumer, I could see that. Mortgage lenders would only lend up to 2x your annual salary when I bought my first house – and even that made me nervous. Two houses and 8 years later, that was 4x my annual income, which I was really uncomfortable about, so I didn’t borrow that much. Working in the credit card industry at the time, I was aware that there are plenty of people who feel entitled to have what they cannot afford. Subprime lending is, IMO, a dicey proposition. But in government, Obama’s plan is a lot like subprime lending, except the person receiving it isn’t paying it back.

    Hopefully we can all agree that welfare reform is needed. And I’m not really in favor of extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich either. We will need more taxing and less spending, but right now, the demand for spending is much too high and increasing as joblessness and underemployment continue to plague us.

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  85. Will on August 8, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    Bob,

    What Romeny did with Bain is exactly what we need done with America. He took sick companies, much like a doctor takes sick patients and tried to make them well. He took companies that were on the verge of Bankruptcy and prescribed the medicine he thought was best — he consolidated locations, cut wages, reduced the workforce and did what was necessary so the company would survive. So that some would keep their jobs instead of all losing their jobs. He had an 80 % success rate. That is amazing. Once they were healed they could grow again and hire new employees.

    This is exactly what this country needs. Government agencies need to be consolidated or eliminated, federal wages need to be slashed, foreign aide needs to be cut off, retirement ages need to be increased so benefits are not collected until the mid or late 80′s, Obama care needs to be reversed.This is what needs to be done.

    If we don’t do this we will end up like Greece where ALL retires are getting 50 percent cuts in benefits. Again, if we keep on the Obama path we will be bankrupt and if we go bankrupt the world will fall into complete chaos. If a tiny nation like Greece fails and it sends shock waves through the world market, the US with 1/4 of the worlds GDP and largest importer goes bankrupt the whole world will follow. It will be complete chaos.

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  86. Hedgehog on August 8, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Mike’s figures (#28, 40) are interesting, but I would add to Andrew’s list (#31) that they also don’t tell us what percentage of the lowest earners are actually earning a ‘living wage’, for each of those countries. So I’m definitely with Mark (#41) and Bonnie (#45) on this one.
    In Britain we have ‘minimum wage’ legislation, which means that there is a legal minimum that employers are allowed to pay their employees. The debate in Britain is whether the ‘minimum wage’ should match the ‘living wage’. At the moment the minimum wage is lower, so there are still some who are deemed too poor to pay income tax. Everyone gets to pay VAT though (at 17.5%), but there is no VAT here on some of those things deemed essential: some food items, books, and children’s clothing. We also get health care and, depending on earnings and age of child, can get tax credits to pay for child care (Dan #46).
    I don’t know to what extent the ‘minimum wage’ (if there is one) approaches a ‘living wage’ in the other nations Mike lists, but it is something that needs to be included in an argument of this sort I think.
    Minimum wage legislation was introduced in Britain under the last government. Of course there were lots of complaints about what it might mean for employers, but once it was done the doom-mongering was seen to be false.
    My view is that where employers are not paying their employees enough for them to live on, then this actually amounts to exploitation. In so far as governments are paying out benefits to those employees, because they don’t earn enough to live on, then they are effectively subsidising those businesses. It is the system that is wrong, don’t blame the benefit recipients. It gets my goat that those at the top have been getting enormous bonuses when those at the bottom aren’t even getting a living wage. That has to be wrong.

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  87. Hedgehog on August 8, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Hawkgrrrl (#51)
    I take your point on credit in general, too many people in the West have been getting easy credit for too long – you can only borrow from the future for so long, and payback arrives some time.
    On the availability of credit in poor nations I just wanted to mention the Grameen Bank (established in Bangladesh, and now moving into other poor nations), which makes micro-loans to the impoverished, enabling them to set up simple businesses.

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  88. Geoff - A on August 9, 2012 at 4:40 AM

    Is it really possible for a person to “earn” more than, say a $Million a year? Often the lower paid employees work equally hard as the higher paid and because of their poverty have as much stress.

    What would happen if it were legislated that the highest paid person in a company could not earn more than 15 times the lowest?

    As far as reviewing services to the populace in order to reduce debt, rather than corporate welfare, defence, etc. it depends on whether you believe governments are there to govern for the people or for business.

    Reviewing could be good if you were seeking to make something more effective but ususlly is code for demolishing.

    Universal healthcare for example is cheaper than what America has at present, Australia, Canada, and Europe spend about half as much per person to provide universal healthcare. Could America adopt universal healthcare to provide a more effective service and save money? It would make sense but I don’t think you could do it, because of your culture.

    Many of the countries that provide good services are not having financial problems, Germany, Australia for example.

    As for credit, it has tightened up unnecessarily to those less than super rich. Small business provides most jobs and small borrowers are having touble financing.

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  89. Stephen R. Marsh on August 9, 2012 at 4:44 AM

    Infrastructure improvements were tried in Japan — you can see how effectively they’ve worked there for the past twenty years as a driver for growth. Interesting idea Hawk — but the history doesn’t look that good.

    “Universal healthcare for example is cheaper than what America has at present, Australia, Canada, and Europe spend about half as much per person to provide universal healthcare. ”

    As I’ve written, that is what makes it such a tempting target for reform.

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  90. hawkgrrrl on August 9, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    Stephen – I think you misunderstood me. I’m against infrastructure projects as a way to create jobs. I believe it creates underemployment, and I suspect it also fosters lots of cronyism and pork.

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  91. Dan on August 9, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    I think you misunderstood me. I’m against infrastructure projects as a way to create jobs. I believe it creates underemployment, and I suspect it also fosters lots of cronyism and pork.

    Then pay them the same they were paid previous! Just give them a freaking job! And watch how the economy grows

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  92. hawkgrrrl on August 9, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    So lay someone off from a $120K IT job, give them a shovel and tell them to dig ditches, pay them $120K to dig those ditches . . . and that’s going to lead to economic growth how? Who’s tax money goes to pay someone far more than the job is worth? How does income redistribution miraculously lead to national prosperity? Because they go out and spend that money on products sold by the people whose money you just took to pay the expensive ditch digger? Why not cut out the government and have companies just pay people to buy their products – or just give things out for free? Under your plan, that’s going to lead to prosperity!

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  93. Will on August 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    As long as we are in redistribution mode, why not start this out earlier. Why not start redistributing grades and ACT (American College Test) scores in high school. I mean if we are after equity, let’s start in academia. After all, doesn’t this drive income? With this said those students that get 95 or 100 percent on a test (I mean, after all they didn’t earn those grades, it was the teachers and parents), would be required to give 25 to 30 percent to those students that got 40 or 45 on the test. Likewise, those students that get 35 (the high is 36) on the ACT would have to give 12 to 15 points to those students that get below 10 on the test. This way everyone ends ups with a 2.0 to 2.5 GPA and an ACT score from 20 to 25.

    Since scores and grades are the same, then there is no need for college entrance requirements. Thus, students could be assigned to a respective college or university. Then, since all grades are redistributed at the college level, then employers would be indifferent as to who is hired and what rate they are hired at; thus, college grads could then be assigned to corporations by some government agency and everyone would make the same amount.

    Since we are in the process of burying talents and paying for others mistakes or shortcomings, why don’t we apply this to the afterlife and judgment day. Why don’t we take someone that has lived the commandments and make them pay for the sins of the murders and rapists? This way there is no heaven or hell. And since there is no heaven or hell, then there is no need for God or a Devil; thus, we strip God of his power and remove Lucifer from the pit. After all, this is Lucifer’s plan.

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  94. Stephen Marsh on August 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Hawk, I think we both agree that you are right and Dan is wrong.

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  95. Dan on August 9, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    oh the stupidity. Hawkgrrrl, listen to me, your current IT guy who got laid off will ONLY find jobs that are less than he was worth, and that’s in the capitalistic system that you so adore. Our Galtian Overlords are trimming the workers pay while gorging on everything else. You seem to think the IT guy can find a job equal in pay to what he was paid previous. He will not. Because our system right now rewards the rich and punishes the poor. So really, it doesn’t matter if you pay the IT guy the same as he was paid previous, or the equivalent of a typical construction worker. In the end, it won’t matter, because without that construction job from the government, whatever he was going to get from the market itself would have been the same, except that the market itself is not giving him a job.

    In other words, the US government should borrow a couple of trillion dollars, invest in infrastructure, create a few hundred thousand jobs or more through that, and stimulate the economy. This is the way it has always been done, and this is the way it has worked. Certainly Reagan did this. And hell, George Idiot Bush actually gave cash to people to go spend! Maybe you don’t remember the $300 bucks you got from the US Treasury in 2001, but I remember. I spent it. I’m sure you did too. The Mitt Romneys of the world certainly didn’t. If you want to stimulate the economy, give money to those who actually SPEND. That would be the poor.

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  96. Dan on August 9, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Hawk, I think we both agree that you are right and Dan is wrong.

    Hehe, no doubt the guys who shot Joseph Smith gave each other high fives and said “i think we both agree that you are right and that silly prophet guy is wrong.”

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  97. Will on August 9, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    “oh the stupidity. Hawkgrrrl, listen to me…”

    Why would anyone want to!

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  98. Will on August 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Dan,

    I don’t want to discourage you with my last comment. Please keep it up. You are a lot like Michael Moore – annoying and insulting. It bodes well for the right side. Keep it up.

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  99. hawkgrrrl on August 9, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    “You seem to think the IT guy can find a job equal in pay to what he was paid previous.” No, I definitely don’t see him finding the same type of job. We have a problem with people being trained in fields where we have a surplus of workers and are not competitive.

    “Because our system right now rewards the rich and punishes the poor.” Interestingly, for many years, our system has rewarded the upward reaching poor in other nations. There are plenty of people with high level degrees in India and China and Brazil who are only too happy to take these jobs and work their tails off. A large part of the problem with the American economy is that it has been in the process of becoming a global economy. This is a lost generation as a result. A degree and hard work no longer carry a guarantee that jobs will be available in that field.

    But the “system” has always rewarded the rich differently than the poor – being poor comes with inherent challenges, often a lack of savvy about how to prepare for the future and invest. Consider the parable of the talents. The guy who got one talent buried it in the earth and didn’t invest it, so he got no return. The guys who got more knew how to invest it and got high returns. It’s no coincidence that the guy who got the least knew least how to invest it. That’s just an observation. I was in Cambodia for church last Sunday and heard stories from two different members who just kept their money in a jar in their house or with a relative rather than in a bank and their entire savings was stolen or came up missing.

    Lack of education and resources creates additional stresses on the poor that make it harder to get out of poverty. Often even those mistakes people make have a multi-generational effect on families.

    That $300 didn’t do anything lasting to boost the economy.

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  100. Mike S on August 9, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    #95 Dan: …your current IT guy who got laid off will ONLY find jobs that are less than he was worth, and that’s in the capitalistic system that you so adore.

    Perhaps. But the flip side is that the IT job didn’t even exist until the 1970′s when computers became widespread. That’s the nature of progress.

    We no longer have whale oil processors, lectors (read the paper to workers in cigar factories), copy boys, elevator operators (ironically, except in expensive locations), pin setters in bowling alleys, ice men, lamp lighters for street lights, switchboard operators, type setters, telegraph operators, etc. Progress makes some jobs obsolete and creates other jobs. Capitalism reallocates things as times change.

    And looking at things globally, the jobs don’t really “disappear”. For every IT job that is “lost” in the United States, there is an entire family that is lifted out of poverty in India. Programmers for Infosys in India make multiples of the median wage there. They have nice houses, schools, stores, etc. It also enables non-IT companies in the US to get projects done much cheaper than they could otherwise.

    What it seems you are recommending sounds a lot like the planned economies of various regimes that have come and gone over the past century. It is hard to come up with a single example of a centrally planned economy that has flourished long-term. It is ultimately inefficient.

    And even the “guaranteed” job philosophy you are explaining has many short-comings. In Europe (which as many of the protections you wish), companies don’t want to hire because they are “stuck” with paying the wages of the employee essentially forever. This results in stagnation. Importantly, because they are hanging onto existing employees and aren’t hiring new employees, the next generation suffers.

    If you look at youth unemployment (age 15-24) of people in the labor market but out of work, the rate is over 50% in Greece and Spain, 36% in Portugal, 35.9% in Italy, 30% in Ireland, 22.8% in Sweden, 22% in the UK, 22% in France, 19% in Finland, etc. Young people can’t find jobs. They are educated with nowhere to go.

    You can’t force companies to keep people at a certain job wage and expect to have a healthy economy. And you can’t simply use the government to pay them at a certain job wage and expect to maintain a solvent government. The reallocation of labor with progress is painful, it causes hardship, it is hard – but it is reality.

    Your goals are nice – your logic is deeply flawed. Unfortunately, there are enough people who think like you that our country will continue to be pushed to the brink. We are on a non-sustainable trajectory. Our social programs will break in the next few decades, just like they are breaking in Europe now.

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  101. Mike S on August 9, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Dan:

    Also, the “free $300″ you talk about was a $168 billion stimulus package. We didn’t have that money, but borrowed it. At a very conservative 3% interest rate, that means an additional $55 billion in interest since 2001.

    So, we now have an additional $223 billion in debt, and the economy still slid into a recession. It didn’t create any jobs. It didn’t change the natural cycles. It didn’t keep a programmer in India from doing the same job cheaper than someone in the US.

    All it did was get us a quarter of a trillion dollars more in debt. We saddled our children and grandchildren with more debt. Was it worth it? Should we really multiply that by more? Should we really give everyone “free money”? And how much? $1000, $5000, $10000? Should we just start printing money?

    I don’t know if you’ve ever studied economics, but all of the things you propose have been done. They haven’t worked.

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  102. Ray on August 11, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    We don’t believe what we see; we see what we believe. This thread, and the insults thrown around do freely, is a perfect example of that principle.

    Romney didn’t do a single thing that was illegal, based on the fact that the IRS hasn’t lodged a single complaint against him. One side contains a bunch of birther zealots who won’t stop if they get undeniable proof of Pres. Obama’s citizenship; the other side contains a bunch of tax code zealots who won’t stop if they get undeniable proof Gov. Romney paid exactly what he was required by law to pay – but that group won’t even admit they would do the exact same thing if they were in his shoes.

    I usually avoid reading these threads, since they always devolve into bile and silly misreadings of others’ comments. Honestly, part of me wishes I had stuck to that approach with this one.

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  103. Bonnie on August 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    I did avoid this one, and blissfully don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, except to say, Amen, Ray!

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  104. Mark N. on August 11, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    I don’t believe Romney’s done anything illegal with his taxes; I’m pretty sure it’s all perfectly up to legal snuff. If he’s paid $0 in income taxes anytime lately, it’s because the tax laws allow him to set things up in such a way that he can legally do that.

    The whole thing about paying no taxes is that it paints Romney as just another 1-percenter who gets away with stuff that the 99-percent never can. It chips away at his populism, if he ever had any.

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  105. Douglas on August 12, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    “but that group won’t even admit they would do the exact same thing if they were in his shoes” – it’s about class warfare, not tax policy. The so-called “Progressive” tax system causes the wastage of so much effort and diverts money from what would otherwise be its best use, simply because the wealthy get and stay that way by heeding Oliver Wendell Homles maxim on taxation (e.g., not immoral to arrange one’s affairs to minimize the tax burden). The “poor” may be that way due to bad breaks, but many, frankly, STAY that way due to sloth and/or ignorance. But the vote of the slothful and ignorant man counts the same as the wise and prudent one – an inherent fault in democracy. Add to that the incentive of the slothful and ignorant to be rewarded in their collective stupidity by those that dangle the false redistributionist promises (e.g., “fairness”), and hence why Mitt should stonewall as to his PRIVATE financial affairs outside the realm of what he’s had to comply with IAW the law. If he had the fortitude to tell these pundits to “pound sand”, then my opinion of him will go up a great deal.

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