Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Class War: Trickling on the Middle Class

This is sort of a sequel to my previous post, “Class War.” A month after that “discussion,” Warren Buffett wrote an article in the New York Times and Jon Stewart referred to it on the 8/18/11 Daily Show episode, appropriately titled “World of Class Warfare.” 

A friend posted Mr. Buffett’s article on his Facebook page and wondered what his conservative friends thought of it. Here is that short but sweet thread, including the subsequent right wing, anti-factual, knee-jerk response…

This one involves my other good buddy, Kathy.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty.


Interested in what my conservative-leaning friends think about Buffett's Op-Ed piece:

I'll just cut and paste my comment from another friend's post of this:

They're not "super rich" they are privileged. As such, they are of better stock than the average human, are above us, are bred better, and deserve all the special treatment they get. Ours is not to question this arrangement, but to know our place in serfdom, work, and be grateful that they allow us to remain.

[The best kind of sarcasm is the kind that drips.]

I really really hope you are taking the piss.

Shared sacrifice: a liberal ideal I can get behind.

C'mon Kathy...we know you're out there.

Hey- the rich are bred from the best among us. They are high quality humans down to their blood. It's parallel to the clear fact that the Chinese Crested is bred for pure, supreme beauty! A world in which it is not immediately apparent to all that people like Paris Hilton and George W. Bush aren't genetically superior and therefore more deserving of prominence and special treatment is a world I never want to see. To even imagine that all people are equal in quality is to admit to being a commie bastard! I mean, are all wines equal? No. And everyone knows that people are just like wine, or at least just like grapes...or something. What do I know, I'm not rich?

I do not comprehend why Mr. Buffet doesn't shut up and pay more, as he is certainly free to do. He COULD choose to pay himself more income/less stock and save himself all that worry over the capital gains tax being so low. [That makes no sense. Are you suggesting he should sell off his stocks to someone else - who would then still pay less taxes on them?] He could also write the government a big fat check just because. [No, he can't.] He does not. [Because he can't.] Who is a billionaire to say those who earn a million a year don't pay enough? The same as a millionnaire who thinks the middle class doesn't pay enough. [No, he said he doesn't pay enough taxes, not people less wealthy than him. But you have to invent this bullshit in order to have that complaint so your argument seems valid. Which it is not.] I understand the thought "WTF do you need all that money for, asshole?" but won't ever really comprehend "Hey, that's too much and thus I shall relieve you of it because ." [Wowy wow wow. Cuz yeah, THAT'S what people are saying.]

I don’t think he is saying that millionaires need to pay more, just the same as everyone else.

I agree with David - the tax code is a disaster and rearranging it responsibly would go a long way toward leveling the tax rates equally for everyone. That being said, I don't think it is at all rational or responsible to determine 'how much is too much' and ratchet taxes to 50% or greater for this group. I am sick to death of this type of class-warfare rhetoric. As for the 'Giving Pledge'...look up ILIT and the section of the tax code allowing for it - they really aren't giving it all away. Earning/investing it doesn't make you evil anymore than someone else's failure/inability to do so makes them entitled to it.

[Angie seems to be arguing for both sides. And confusing facts in the process. Unless I'm misunderstanding, as I often do when people try to placate everyone, she's saying: we need to rearrange the tax code so taxes are equal for everyone / agrees with David that the wealthy need to pay more to be on par with everyone else but don't jack up taxes for the rich to 50% (a false argument - no one's saying that) / earning from investments isn't bad (a false argument - no one's saying that) / the ILIT doesn't allow you to give all your money away. I'm not sure why she introduced the ILIT, because that only lets your life insurance proceeds pass down your heirs tax free - which seems to be an argument she's making both for and against wealthy people - donating money, but only to your heirs, but tax free - I don't know.]

Flat tax?

All for flat tax- but the tax code is the way it is due to the nature of government and pandering for votes. The Dems. can point to Buffet and friends as proof that the wealthy pay less, the Repubs to the IRS info on the yield from each tax bracket (which provees Buffet is in a minority of the wealthy who actually pay less than the wealthy in the bracket just below) [She made that up. The wealthy have the advantage of using loopholes that are not available to the middle. Their tax rates may be higher, but their effective tax rates are lower. Romney paid 14% taxes on $21M on investment return. Oh, right, I pay taxes for working so I'm taxed higher. He's taxed less for doing nothing. Oh! The poor rich. Leave Romney Alone!!] and both can be correct. [Not according to facts outside of the right-wing news bubble.] Problem UN-solved, people divided and finger pointing jackasses still hungry for power. GOOOOOOO USA!!

I like the idea, but too simple of an answer. The taxation of capital gains, inheritance, estates, C-corp vs. S-corp etc. all need a second look. I'm all for scrapping my meager middle class tax deductions, as long as we’ll also ditch my highest incremental tax rate. And, while we're at it, we should also eliminate the payroll deduction - if everyone is having to write that check every quarter we'd all be paying a helluva lot more attention to what we are making vs. what we are taxed and therefore be far more interested/involved it what is being done with it. [I don't think I disagree with any of that.]

Bill Mancuso
It must be nice to live in a world where you can make up anything you want and present it as the truth to support the previous thing you made up. Although I do agree that the tax code is the way it is due mostly to the nature of Republicans in government pandering to the rich for money to pay for votes.

There are plenty of rich Democrats as well - that pendulum swings both ways. For example, current US Representative John Dingell has a reported net worth in the neighborhood of 1.2 to 3.8 million dollars. Incidentally, his investment portfolio reflects his top campaign contributors. There's plenty of blame to go around.

Bill Mancuso
Right. Which party is fighting for what, now? You're obfuscating the point and assigning equal blame to both parties where it is blatantly not equal. That's not to say all Democrats are angels, of course there are rich Democrats and they look out for their interests, but look at the major donors to each party: big business (which now hilariously = people) mostly donates to Republicans and unions donate to Democrats. I ask again; Which party is fighting for what, now?

And to be clear, my previous post was not aimed at you, so I apologize if it seemed to because it came after your post.

Keep your guard up at all times, I want a good clean fight.

Bill Mancuso

The problems are far more complex and deep-rooted than the dogma being regurgitated by both sides will allow. I agree with some Republican ideology, but not all. I agree with some Democratic ideology, not all. Painting either side with a broad brush on this issue is over-simplified and short sighted at best. The sound bites have become tiresome and it's time for gov't to collectively stop pointing the finger at someone else and instead actually come up with something reasonable and attainable.

...and no apology necessary. Wasn't sure where it was aimed, but I figured since I jumped into the ring I'd better be able to take a few punches :)

[I mostly agree. The Republicans want to cut spending, which is a good idea. However, they just want to hatchet-slash all social programs that help poor and elderly people or that make businesses conform to environmental laws - anything that diverts extra profits to already wealthy people. The correct way would not be just to randomly slash things they don't like, but to make them more efficient. It's not about simply making a small government, our country is too big to just proclaim government needs to be tiny, it's about spending money efficiently where it's needed. And raising taxes on the wealthy and paying workers living wages - not the 1968 levels where they are now.]

shareholders are people, just as unions are people. the difference being shareholders can sell to get out if they disagree with the politics of the corp. Union members must pay dues to support the positions of their officials whether they agree or not. Unions and those they rep. are not one in the same. Sorry if I'm obfuscating YOUR point, whatever that is. It appears to have something to do with big business supporting Repubs (except when they contribute to powerful Dems, but that doesn't boost your point, so you ignore it). We were discussing Mr. Buffet who is continually making his arguement by presenting the public with half-truths concerning his tax situation and allowing others to leap to conclusions based on this anecdotal evidence. Do try to keep up.

Bill Mancuso
You're right. Shareholders are people. And as people, every single one of them has a vote - as an individual. Though it's laughable to think they would sell their shares if they disagreed with the politics of the business they hold shares in. [THAT'S how we make money? Well, I'm leaving!] However, a corporation is not a person. An average person doesn't have millions of dollars to throw behind a candidate in return for, say, getting rid of EPA regulations that forces them to take measures that prevents them from polluting a river which interferes with their profit margin. I did not ignore the fact that big business does contribute to Democrats. In fact, I plainly said not all Democrats are angels - that major donators, not all donators are to Republicans by big business. But you ignored that just to lie about me ignoring it. And about Mr. Buffett presenting half-truths, that's one of those situations where you make stuff up to support the other stuff you make up. Just because you don't like it, doesn't make it not true. And to your other ridiculous point that Mr. Buffett could just write the government a big, fat check - A. How does that solve anything? B. Who would he write it to? The gov't would just return it to him. You know how when people overpay on their taxes, they get a refund? Why do you think they would keep Buffett's overpayment? Unless you don't and you were just trying to make something up to support something else you made up. And crossing your fingers that no one would notice. And both flat and fair tax systems would never work. Flat tax effectively lowers taxes for the rich while placing a greater burden on the working class. Fair tax effectively curbs incentive to buy things and would kill what's left of US export economy. But these are facts you probably want to ignore as well.

There's is a section on your tax return where you can check a box and indicate how much more money you wish to send for federal taxes. The gov't does not send it back.

Bill Mancuso
Learn something new every day.

Then I guess it isn't a ridiculous sidestep from the issue to suggest Mr. Buffett is lying and that he can solve our economic problem all by himself by writing a big, fat check - and of course any other billionaire corporations that in their good hearts wish to donate more to the government if they don't have to. Because that's how things get done in the corporate, for-profit world. It's not as if they fight to get even lower taxes (the lowest by a large margin in 60 years) than the ones they enjoy now. They all just want to donate more money to the government of their own ‘selfless, non-greedy, best interest of others’ hearts.

Of all recent polls, including ones by conservative pollsters, 64% of all Americans - including Republicans - believe taxes should be raised on the rich. What this poll shows is that Republican politicians are not listening to "the American people," but instead pandering for some reason to the delusional, uneducated, extremist Teabaggers. Let's see how that works out for them.

Please, someone say ‘corporations need lower taxes to create jobs.’ PleasepleasePLEASE.

The government does not send it back, it is however applied to future taxes you may owe.

[David is correct. You cannot donate more than you owe to the government. If you have overpaid your owed taxes, you can check a box and list the amount you want refunded and check another box and list the amount you want applied to your estimated taxes for the next year. So, yes, the government technically “does not send it back,” but it’s not ‘extra’ money. You can find this information in the REFUND section on your Form 1040. Turns out I didn’t learn anything new that day after all.]

[And yes. I went through my tax returns to find this information because I wasn’t sure if either Angie or David were correct. They couldn’t both be, and I didn’t just blindly accept what someone told me. If you’ve been following this blog, you should know this by now.]

[Going through your tax returns fucking sucks. I now have way more appreciation for accountants.]

Why throw good money after bad? I would be more apt to agree to a tax increase if gov't could provide a convincing plan to control the current state of waste and ineptitude. And since everyone here on this board lives in glass houses I would refrain from the use of derogatory terminology toward groups whose ideologies differ.

[I typed up this response to the “refrain from the use of derogatory terminology toward groups whose ideologies differ,” but I didn’t post it. I guess I took pity on her for some reason…

Good thing I didn't call the Teabaggers ‘fucking idiots’ like I was going to. I was also toying with ‘fucking morons’ (or 'morans' as they spell it). Teabaggers do not have ideologies. The root and suffix of ideology respectively is idea + the study of. Teabaggers do not have ideas. Nor have they ever studied anything. Especially history. And math. And current events. And poli-sci. And social studies. And the English language - particularly spelling. And grammar. They certainly do not know what the Founding Fathers thought. What they do have are tri-corner hats and replica muskets - representative of the era in which the level of their education is based - 238 years ago. They have no understanding why the organizations that bought or created the different Tea Party groups (Republican PAC's and the billionaire Koch brothers' FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity) called them the Tea Party in the first place. And what they're doing has nothing at all in common with the Boston Tea Party event. Let's hope no one really believes this was an actual grassroots movement.

Oh, but the one thing they do have in abundance, as a result of their education coming to a halt in 1773, is racism.]

[Sure, there is wasteful government spending. That always needs to be addressed. But I would also like for just once, the people who claim the government is inept, to give me examples. They like to point to the Post Office, but the USPS is not inept. The problem with the Post Office was completely manufactured by a Republican Congress when it passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which forced the USPS to PREPAY its FUTURE health care benefits to retirees for the NEXT 75 YEARS to employees that they HAVE NOT HIRED YET. What the fuck? Oh, right. Republicans. The USPS has the biggest union in America and Republicans HATE unions since they mostly donate to Democrats, so they designed something to legally collapse the USPS. It seems the Republican Party is inept in this case.]

It is a safe bet to say that the people in power are going to legislate in their own favor, or the favor of their campaign donors, especially when it comes to money, and that's not passing judgment, it's just common sense and human nature.

It's ridiculous to continue trying to debate an individual who, rather than stand on the weight of his counterpoint, offers up the notion that his opponent is lying based on nothing more than his apparent belief that said opponent is a liar. [Except where I proved you're lying - which you ignored.]

You can debate with me... TASTES GREAT!!!!


Is this individual me perchance?

[No, it was me. It's always me]

Bill Mancuso
Hey Kathy, first you said Buffett was lying about himself (because you obviously know more about his tax situation than he does), then you said I was lying about ignoring things that I clearly wasn't. You do realize people can read the words you post here, right? Me pointing out that you are wrong or intentionally misleading others is not me ‘not standing on the weight of my counterpoint’ - it's actually part of the counterpoint. I guess you're saying I should just accept it when you make shit up. Too bad. What's ridiculous is you trying to flip the blame onto me for what you yourself are doing.

I love it when politicians talk about Buffet. If he says something they agree with he is, and I quote, “The Oracle in Omaha!” Say something they don’t like and he becomes 'The Crazy Old CUNT in Omaha who doesn’t know what to do with his money.' Note that I said politicians, not Republicans or Democrats

*   *   *   *

Unfortunately for me, no one answered my plea to claim that lower taxes for corporations creates jobs. I so wanted to ask why the two giant Bush tax cuts that have been in effect for ten years not only resulted in not creating any jobs, but we lost jobs and had a huge fucking recession. Oh, well.

Here is a plethora of articles about:
A) how most of America thinks the wealthy should pay more
B) how wealthy people also want to pay more taxes

If the majority of Americans want the rich to pay more in taxes and many rich people also want to pay more in taxes then why is the Republican Party signing a pledge to a lobbyist, Grover Norquist, to never raise taxes (somehow except on poor people), which is anti-constitutional? This 30+ year experiment of “trickle-down economics” has failed as an economic policy. It has only succeeded in making the rich richer and the poor poorer. For a fact.

Crooks & Liars: The Epic Failure of Republican Trickle Down Economics

Jon Stewart sums up this whole argument in one ten-minute segment on The Daily Show episode from 8/18/11...
(If it says "Content is Unavailable" just click on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" in the box. I don't know why it sometimes does that.)

My next post, “Blackmailing the Truth” will cover this Reaganomic farce and how Republicans choose to deal with it.

Tea Party! America Thanks You!

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