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Hometown: South - Carolina and Dakota
Home country: Oz
Current location: Kansas
Member since: Mon Nov 15, 2004, 04:30 AM
Number of posts: 37,573

Journal Archives

Like Ann Romney, I want to talk about love

The love of money.

What St. Paul calls "a root of all kinds of evil". (1 Timothy 6; 10)

But most people, especially in the Western world, seem to love money. Especially, according to de Toqueville, Americans. In his 1835 book "Democracy in American" he wrote "Americans desire enterprises that make 'more money'. There, in two words, you have the American character."

But it is very easy to love money. Money allows you to have a home, instead of being homeless. More money allows you to have a nicer home, and more conveniences - cable TV, air conditioning, dishwashers, microwaves, and so on. More money allows you to own a car instead of having to walk and/or take a bus or bike. More money allows you to buy a nicer bike. More money allows you to live in a nicer neighborhood, a safer neighborhood, send your kids to better schools, so they in turn can have more money.

Yet, it seems to me the people that really, really love their money, are the people who have the most of it. At least politically, they seem, most of them, determined to keep more and more of their large incomes. They are the ones who have funded the Republicans and made them all into tax-cut fanatics. From state legislators to Governors to Congresspeople to Senators to Presidential candidates, Republican candidates always seem to be about tax cuts for the rich (and for big business).

The rich love their money, and want to keep more and more of it. For example, Romney and Ryan (and McCain before them) propose to not only keep the Bush tax cuts, which were very generous to the rich, but they propose even more tax cuts which heavily favor the rich, and people (very evil people) like Brownback of Kansas and Spence of Missouri, propose to also give even more tax cuts for the rich at the state level. And to prevent tax increases on them, like Chris Christie http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/128 and DINOs like Mario Cuomo http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/154

The Bush tax cuts cost $424 billion in 2011, $108 billion of that went to the richest 1% and $163 billion to the top 5% and another $107 billion to the rest of the top 20%.

The rich would LOVE for those tax cuts to be permanent. They are prepared to spend several billion on campaigns and candidates in order to make that happen. Time magazine did a cover saying "Presidency for sale: asking $2.5 billion". Spending $2.5 billion to keep $108 billion in tax cuts is a very good return on investment. Looks like over $105 billion in profit to me.

Who among us would not like to have another $105 billion? That certainly dwarfs the largest Powerball jackpot of $365 million. And the top 1% will get that EACH year.

Now they just have to sell it to the voters. They primarily use 4 sales pitches.

1. Character

Republican candidates, like many politicians, will first lead with their supposed character. Bush was such a Christian, a compassionate conservative, a straight shooter. McCain was a war hero, a maverick, and a straight-talker. So, tonight Ann Romney wanted to tell the nation what a great guy Mitt Romney is. A successful man. A man who has worked hard. A man who has helped others, being a wonderful son, son-in-law, father, husband, grandfather. He's smart, funny, honest, kind, hard-working, and probably modest too. See what a great guy he is, so his policies will then naturally be beneficial. You can trust Honest Mitt. Just like you trusted Honest George. Pay no attention to that fuzzy math. It's complicated.

2. the tax cut is really for everybody

Take it from Honest George "My tax relief plan is a fair one, lowering the rate for all taxpayers. The typical family of four with two children will get $1,600 in tax relief. And the greatest benefits, the largest percentage reductions, will go to those who need them most. My plan is pro-growth. It gives our economy a jump-start by leaving more money in the hands of those who have earned it." Feb 17, 2001

My plan is directed toward individuals and small businesses. It offers relief for everyone who pays income taxes, and it keeps our national commitments to Social Security and debt reduction." Feb 8, 2001

"When you hear the debate about this kind of class warfare, rhetoric about, oh, this is for the rich, only for the rich -- I want you to think about the Joe Kempers of the world. I certainly will. A fellow who worked for our government, and now a fellow who we trust with that $3,500, because it's his money. And when he invests it, it's going to have a positive effect. All the Joe Kempers of the world taking that extra money and investing it will mean somebody else is likely to find a job, and that's important for our fellow Americans to understand." Feb 12, 2003

Again, pay no attention to those numbers definitively proving the tax cut is MOSTLY for the rich.

3. the tax cut is really a jobs plan

Again, take it from Honest George

"We need tax relief that creates the greatest number of jobs. (Applause.) The goal is to create a million new jobs by the end of next year. I've submitted a good, strong plan that will help meet that goal. The United States Congress must not only listen to your voice, but must listen to the voice of somebody looking for work. We need aggressive action out of the United States Congress now." May 6, 2003

"Next week, I will travel to New Mexico, Nebraska and Indiana to address the nation's hardworking, small business owners, families and investors. My message to them will be simple: the surest way to grow this economy and create jobs is to leave more money in the hands of the people who earn it.
I urge every citizen to participate in this important debate and to make your voice heard. Explain to your local representative or your senators what tax relief would mean to your family and your business, and please tell the members of Congress why our economy needs that relief now." May 10, 2003

4. It's about tax reform, making taxes simpler and fairer

Again, Honest George

"The third aspect of the plan is really to make the tax code more fair. We tried to address that earlier, by the way. It is unfair to tax a person's assets twice. That's why I've called upon Congress to get rid of the death tax. (Applause.) Feb 13, 2003 in Florida

"The final aspect of the plan says that we ought to get rid of the double taxation of dividends in America. (Applause.) First of all, there's just a simple fairness issue on the double taxation of dividends." May 12, 2003

"It recognizes that our tax code is unfair. It is unfair to people who struggle to get ahead. It is unfair for the single mom, who lives on the outskirts of poverty, who's working hard to provide for her family. For every additional dollar she makes above $25,000, she pays a higher marginal rate on that dollar than someone who's wealthy. And that's not right and it's not fair. It's not what America is all about, as far as I'm concerned. Our tax code makes the code more fair." Feb 7, 2001

Yet in the end it is all about rich people and their love of money. A love that is a root of all kinds of evil in this country. In the end, the "honest" politician's reform just tilts the playing field even more in the favor of those who already have most of the advantages.

makes for an easy example

Romney's income $21 million, tax rate 14%
Ryan's income (wages) $153,000, tax rate - 20% (not including payroll taxes of 7.65%)

Romney makes about 65 times as much as Ryan, but still pays a lower tax rate.

And most of Romney's income - $3.3 million in interest, $4.9 million in dividends, and $12.6 million in capital gains - is made without doing one iota of actual work.


but even on the Titanic, they said they wanted crew members in the lifeboats - in order to steer and manage the lifeboats. Because even in a lifeboat in a cold and gigantic ocean, survival is not guaranteed.

And even on the Titanic, many 3rd class women and children perished, and perhaps more would have perished. These survivors told this story.

"At another barrier a seaman held back Kathy Gilnagh, Kate Mullins and Kate Murphy (On the Titanic all Irish girls seemed to be named Katherine.) Suddenly steerage passenger Jim Farrell, a strapping Irishman from the girls' home country barged up. "Great God, man!" he roared. "Open the gate and let the girls through!" It was a superb demonstration of sheer voice-power. To the girls' astonishment, the sailor meekly complied." "A night to remember" p. 40

Those three girls are on the survivors list - Farrell is not.

It also lists, 139 crew saved, 119 male passengers and 393 women and children.

It also mentions

"the Titanic's casualty list included four of 143 First Class women (three by choice) (note - they chose to stay with their husbands), 15 of 93 Second Class women ... and 81 of 179 Third Class women.

Not to mention the children. Except for Lorraine Allison, all 29 First and Second Class children were saved, but only 23 out of 76 steerage children." p. 61

But apparently also, some were not considered to be children at age 13.

Not if they were male.

"When Mrs. Ryerson led her son Jack to the window, Lightoller called out, 'That boy can't go!'

Mr. Ryerson indignantly stepped forward; 'Of course that boy goes with his Mother - he is only 13' So they let him pass, Lightoller grumbling. 'No more boys" p. 48

The age of this guy was not given.

"Another young man - no more than a boy - wasn't as lucky. Fifth Officer Lowe caught him under a seat in No. 14, begging that he wouldn't take up much room. Lowe drew his gun, but the boy only pleaded harder. Then Lowe changed tactics, told him to be a man, and somehow got him out....The boy was out now, lying face down near a coil of rope. But No. 14's troubles weren't over. Another wave of men rushed the boat. Seaman Scarrott beat them back with the tiller....Murdoch barely stopped a rush at No. 15." p. 44

"A shortage of trained seamen made the confusion worse...Now Lightoller was rationing the hands he had left - only two crewmen to a lifeboat." p. 37 Meaning that crewmen are put on the lifeboats to help the others survive.

oppression can come in subtle ways

in jobs and hiring, for example. The gas station down the block from me was bought by some Pakistanis, or Pakistani immigrants. Well, once that happened, only Pakistanis were working there. The gas station across the street (presumably owned by non-Pakistanis) went out of business. Now it too has been bought by the Pakistanis who have put in a liquor store.

Another example, my graduate school roommate, from around Calcutta. He has now been in this country for 24 years or so, maybe 25. Having gotten his PhD, he has been working good paying jobs as a finance professor. Say, for 20 years at $60,000 a year. He's made $1.2 million in salary. To work in a classroom. Me, what have I been doing? In those same 20 years, I have been making less than $20,000 a year - to work in a hot, dirty, noisy factory, or to clean toilets. My income has been about $300,000 for those twenty years.

Granted, I only got an MA and he got a PhD. But he was also already married with two kids. Me, I wanted to get the hell done with school and start living an actual life. I felt like a moron when I went to my ten year reunion and had been going to more fucking school for 7 of the ten years, and had nothing but an $8,000 a year part-time job to show for it.

Also granted, my roommate is a) way, way smarter than I am, and b) also seemed to have gotten a superior education in India to my own in SD. So perhaps the USA benefits from his brilliance (somehow) but it seems like he sure has benefitted too, and if the country benefits, it is pretty clear that I do not. So my question would be, did my ancestors pay taxes to support the University of Wisconsin so that it could grant advanced degrees (and scholarships) to people from India who then take good paying jobs in Wisconsin while one of their grandsons works cleaning toilets?

My roommate's daughter has probably now graduated from Princeton, and will compete with my nieces and nephews for good jobs. I know that I am just a selfish racist bastard who would like to see my own family live decent lives, and get good jobs, but there it is. I'd like to see my own family prosper ahead of the family of that immigrant (even though he is an old friend (that I have not seen or spoken to in 22 years)), but I have my doubts that a Northwest Missouri State degree is gonna compete well against Princeton.

One more example. In 2010, I ran for Congress. Raised about $300 and spent $3,000 of my own money. Got a whole $50 from my classmates, thank you very much. Raj Goyle, an Indian immigrant who has a $70,000 (or more) a year job as a professor and also was in the Kansas Legislature. He ran for Congress, and raised over $1,000,000 - mostly from other Indian-Americans (heck my college roommate might even have donated to him). Hell, even DFA, where I WAS a monthly donor, endorsed him. This in spite of the fact that he was hardly a progressive and ran his campign with the message of "cut taxes, cut waste, in the legilsature I voted with Republicans 90% of the time" (and when I found that out, I stopped my monthly donation)). They would not have endorsed me, I am pretty sure, because they did not endorse the person who beat me in the primary and she is more progressive than I am, and I, for all my faults, am more progressive (at least on budget and taxes, if not on immigration) than Raj Goyle.

But money matters more than message in our political system and DFA probably has rich Indian-American donors who are far more important than I am. Raj's million was supposed to make him more electable. He got 37% of the vote, my opponent (who did almost no work) got 32%. My own goal was 40% and I would have done more work. (Which may not have mattered. After all, I did much more work in the primary and I still lost.)

So I am stuck down in the bottom quintile while those Indian-Americans are in the top quintile and apparently looking out for each other too. But what am I thinking. It's not like poor people are oppressed in this country. It's NOT intentional, it is just in the scramble to get ahead, some people have a head start and a community of support and others just get trampled.

But that does make me think. I should call my old roommate and my former graduate school classmates and see if they will contribute to my campaign for treasurer.

I was ready to applaud this

until the nonsense about how the mortgage interest deduction "benefits the middle class"

Yeah, right. http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/151

36.5 million tax returns took a mortgage interest deduction in 2009. That's out of 140 miillion returns. The mortgage deductions were worth $420 billion. Of that amount 47% went to those with incomes over $100,000. A group that is only 12% of tax filers. The TOP 12% of tax filers.

There were 29.5 million filers in the middle class - those with AGI between $40,000 and $75,000. Of that group only 10.6 million took a mortgage interest deduction - less than 36%.

And 42% of the itemizers were in the $60,000 - $75,000 part of that group.

40% of filers in the $50,000 - $75,000 range took a mortgage interest deduction whereas only 28% did in the $40 - 50,000 range.

And 67% took a mortgage interest deduction in the $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 range.

Their average deduction was worth $31,569 whereas the average deduction for the $60,000 - $75,000 group was $9,738.

Things like the mortgage interest deduction are simply worth much more to a much greater percentage of people - at the top. The middle class, and the country, would be better served by eliminating them, eliminating the extra work in tracking them and filling out the extra form - and just increasing the standard deduction.

The deduction for state and local taxes was worth $15.5 billion to those with incomes over $10,000,000. That's 8,057 filers.

Meanwhile, it was only worth $4.8 billion to the 3.4 million filers with income between $30,000 and $40,000. 76% of filers with incomes between $30 and $40k did NOT itemize whereas 97% of those with income over $10 million DID itemize for state and local taxes.

Tell me again, how that is a break that benefits the middle class. It benefits 97% of the super-rich by an average of $1.9 million and only 24% of those making under $40,000 (and over $30,000) by an average of $1,412.

edit - and that does not even include multiplying the bigger number by the HIGHER marginal tax rate and the smaller number by the LOWER marginal tax rate. Because the richer person pays a 35% (should be 55%, if I had my druthers) and the middle class person pays a 15% tax rate. The rich person's deduction is worth $665,000 and the middle class person's deduction is worth $212.

AND when you figure that an itemized deduction is only worth something to a taxpayer of the amount OVER the standard deduction of $10,900 for a couple (in 2008). Well, the rich person has already saved $661,000 in taxes while the middle class person hasn't saved anything until they come up with another $9,500 in deductions
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