Warren Buffett: My Super-Rich Brethren Shun Work

Warren Buffett is making news this morning with a NYT op-ed that comes close to–but misses–an important shift in rhetoric. Arguing that his taxes–and the taxes of the other super-rich–should be raised, he provides some stats. Among those stats, though, he distinguishes between those who work and those who simply invest.

Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

[snip]

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

[snip]

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. [my emphasis]

Of course, what Buffett’s getting at is that the work is taxed at a rate of between 10 to 35%, plus FICA taxes of 7.65 to 15.3% (and the rich get another discount here, too). Whereas “making money from money” is taxed at 15%.

But underlying that argument is an argument about work. 88 of the richest 400 Americans don’t work, Buffett admits. They shun work. And many of the other 312 who “labor” as investment managers get a discount for the taxes they pay on their labor are working for the mere 10 minutes they own stock index futures.

Buffett is making an argument about labor being worth more than “making money from money.” It’s an argument that would go a long way to counter the “job creators” myth that the Republicans invented and now Obama has adopted. And with Republicans like Rick Perry now spewing the line that half of Americans don’t pay taxes (meaning, of course, that many Americans make so little they pay only the regressive FICA taxes), we’d do well to talk about all the deadbeats at the top–the deadbeats Republicans want to reward for shunning work.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

105 replies
  1. mzchief says:

    That’s right. The rich run away from work screaming and in the process become devoid of a moral compass, substance and practical skills. This means they become *compelled*– nay, obsessed, with talking about themselves on embarrassing “reality” TV shows.

  2. scribe says:

    Would that Mr. Buffett would put his money where his words are, and would fund real Democrats (or heretical Republicans) in their electoral campaigns against the other rich who are devastating the country.
    But, since Buffett isn’t doing that (God forbid he actually spend his money that way), his op-ed is not so much a plea for sanity as it is one rich motherfucker pissing on the grave of the middle class (and everyone other than his rich friends)while laughing his fool head off at their folly in putting themselves there.

    His op-ed is, in a word, gloating.

    Or, he could put me on retainer. $100k/yr would keep my mouth shut. He wouldn’t notice it – his worth fluctuates by far more in the course of a day just on the daily noise of stock prices and interest rate variation.

    But until he actually does something to change the climate, rather than (have some flunky) write (for him to sign) handwringing op-ed pieces that have no chance in the present climate of going anywhere beyond a days’ chatter on the beach, he’s worth than useless. The only way to effect behavioral change with these banksters is, as someone in my acquaintance did to an egregious one, to remind them that you know people who might break their legs or, if they knew what the bankster did for a living, pay for that privilege. Buffett jabberin away ain’t gonna do that.

  3. allan says:

    ` Buffett is making an argument about labor being worth more than “making money from money.” ‘

    One doesn’t have to argue that labor is worth more than gaming the financial system (although I agree that it is).
    All one has to ask for is a level playing field.
    Right now, it’s tilted – the government is playing reverse Robin Hood.

  4. guest says:

    That ignores the fact that the rich’s “income” is netted against losses, many of them artificial. And then their is the income that is unreported and/or shifted offshore. So it you measure the tax against their total positive income, you will get a much lower percentage.

  5. Mary says:

    @2 – I disagree and pretty strongly. The fact that Buffet isn’t a political party mouthpiece is what lends credibiity to him and I’m not sure I understand why he should put you on retainer for 100k/year. ?? To keep your mouth shut? That’a a pretty odd comment from you.

    Buffet did try to work with the Obama admin, and as most people with any kind of center that holds, that didn’t fly for long.

    I think he accomplishes a lot more a) with contributions to the types of charities he and the GFoundation do support and b) with his non-politically aligned op-eds and input into the public discourse – than he would accomplish these days pouring money into either of the completely corrupt political parties

    I can send Buffet op eds all the time without them giving me the “Soros” eye roll I think it should stay that way.

  6. A Conservative Teacher says:

    Buffett had his chance to earn a lot of money, and now that he’s at the top and no longer earning a lot of money, he wants a higher tax rate. Typical elite, trying to keep the working man down by slapping higher taxes on us!

  7. joberly says:

    EW–yes, that 88 heirs out of the top 400 figure jumps off the page of the Buffett piece. It may be even higher if the criterion is persons who did not earn any wage income at all; I imagine there are other heirs among the other 312 super-rich who draw salary income as directors of their family firms such as the Cargill and Wal-Mart. I recall Reagan’s first Treasury Secretary, Donald Regan, trying to argue in 1981 that investing was “work” just as much as ditch-digging. I thought that debate was resolved in 1986 and 1993 by making the Earned Income Tax Credit meaningful, or as Pres. Clinton used to say, “making work pay.” I guess not. And here’s a depressing quote from Old Andrew Mellon in 1924–depressing in that he would have been run out of today’s GOP for advocating higher taxes on interest and dividends than on wages: “Surely we can afford to make a distinction between the people whose only capital is their mettle and physical energy and the people whose income is derived from investments.”

  8. MadDog says:

    @A Conservative Teacher:

    “…Typical elite, trying to keep the working man down by slapping higher taxes on us!”

    Ummm…no.

    Typical conservative lacking the fundamental skills of reading comprehension!

    Somehow you missed Buffett’s entire point. He proposes fair taxes on the wealthy!

    I hope you don’t wear those blinders when you drive your car.

  9. Cregan says:

    Actually, Warren misses the boat. A much better deal is gotten by about 48% of the population–they pay no taxes at all. A much lower rate than him or his friends.

    since the super rich, as he calls them, only make around $500 billion at the most (since those over $1,000,000 in income (which, while rich, are not “super” rich) make only $790 billion, even taxing them 100% would still leave $1 trillion in deficit.

    Sorry, you can’t avoid cutting spending.

    And, from this, it is easily seen that the point of this proposed taxation is not revenue, but punishment. And, when you get around to using the tax code to punish people, well, you’ve really gone down the tubes and lost your soul even more than the banksters and super rich.

    You’ve now entered the realm of the despots of long ago who loved using the levers of government to punish people.

  10. floundericious says:

    @6

    Are you serious? Did you read and comprehend what he wrote?

    He’s arguing that the people who are wealthy elites making their money purely off investments should not be taxed at a lower rate than people who show up and do value-added work.

    Sooooo….he’s pointing out that the taxes on “the working (person)” are disproportionately high and that the tax base should be shifted up market

  11. scribe says:

    @Mary: Not really a strange comment from me: I can use the money and will be happy to leave my trenchant commentary off the net for a reasonable price. It’s not making a fuck’s worth of difference with the feckless clowns currently inhabiting the Oval Office and I’m just getting tired of it. So, if I can make some money off shutting up, I’ll be happy to.

  12. MadDog says:

    @Cregan: Punishment?

    There’s a nonsense argument if I’ve ever heard one.

    Let me get this straight:

    Average middle class taxpayer rate (Federal and State taxes) is about 38%-40% of income.

    Hedge fund billionaire playing in futures casino is taxed at 15% on his billions in casino winnings.

    Me – 38%-40% in taxes equals non-punishiment.
    Billionaire – 15% in taxes equals punishment.

    Must be the same pixie dust that says More is Less, Up is Down and Wrong is Right.

  13. floundericious says:

    @9
    “Actually, Warren misses the boat. A much better deal is gotten by about 48% of the population–they pay no taxes at all. A much lower rate than him or his friends.”

    What on god’s green earth are you smoking and why aren’t you sharing???

    Ever heard of payroll taxes? You give up ~7% of your income (REGARDLESS OF HOW SMALL THAT INCOME IS) in FICA taxes and employers have to pay the other ~7%.

    If you’re a minimum wage employee who doesn’t even rate a name tag, you’re making $7 x 2080 = ~$14,000 per year (assuming you get full time…good LUCK!). Of that, you will always pay $1,000 in taxes, regardless of what refundable tax credits and adjustments you get…it’s taken off the top. I’d argue that, with income around $1,150/month, that $1,000 per year hurts one HELL of a lot more than the ~$20,000 in payroll taxes that a person making $1,000,000 per year pays.

  14. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Cregan

    If anyone actually treated Social Security trust fund as a trust fund anymore, that line might have a fraction of truth to it.

    But Bush spent it paying for his two unfunded wars and tax cuts.

    So if we have been spending the money in SS (and if analysts don’t treat changes to SS, as they should, as a debt default akin to what we’d do if we refused to pay the Chinese back), then you’ve got to count the money people pay into FICA as a tax.

    And are you really saying work should be taxed more than financial investing which–in this day and age–is basically just gambling that no longer has a direct benefit for our country?

    Are you really saying that the premise those who don’t provide any real value to the economy should be taxed more lightly than people actually contributing to America?

  15. emptywheel says:

    @scribe: Cregan is not a troll. He may spout conservative talking points on taxes, but he engages in good faith in a lot of discussion here.

  16. Cregan says:

    @MadDog:
    Don’t know the “average” for it is CERTAIN that about 48% of the earning population pays NO income tax at all.

    And, yes, 0% is a better tax deal than 15%. I don’t think that can be disputed.

    So, what is a ‘fair’ share? For some people, they consider ANY tax to be unfair.

    For some in politics, the 60% of the bill that 5% of the population pays is not enough.

    So, rightly, you can conclude that punishment is their main motivation. And, really, it can be EASILY seen from the posts I see here and other places. The way the posts are written, the drift is punishment.

    Since, just a few people are already paying for the majority of the services, fairness isn’t really logically a factor.

    In my opinion, the day the country abandoned equal treatment under the law for the current tax system, and allowed some citizens to be targeted by the government, we opened the door to the levers of government being used as punishment tools.

    There is no question that given choice, people will always vote for someone else to pay the bill and not themselves. And, then, twist it in their mind to create a number of justifications why to make it OK.

  17. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    Yes, we agree that the SS trust fund was plundered. And, there, I would agree with jail for a number of politicians.

    A bigger scandal that it is given credit for.

  18. Cregan says:

    And, yes, I know my posts today are a bit more hard core than usual. But, it’s one I feel strongly about.

    There is no question that the tax code is used by both sides for reasons other than simply raising revenue.

    And, getting away from raising revenue leads to actions that are going to piss people off from all sides as one party or the other uses it to horse the population around to doing whatever action that party thinks is important.

    I say, get off the bull, and just raise revenue.

  19. Cregan says:

    @floundericious:

    Yes, payroll taxes is an old cannard tossed out there.

    Payroll taxes mean “Social Security and Medicare taxes.” Both items that the person will get direct payments from later, and for most twice what they put in. So, you really can’t count that as a contribution.

    No, it still stands that 48% of the earners pay no income tax whatsoever. Zero.

    Yes, they contribute to their own SS account and Medicare, but nothing to benefit anyone else aside from themselves.

    Not a model of fairness.

    Worse, I think you’d find the overwhelming majority of people complaining about not getting a fair shake are those paying nothing.

  20. ladyneeva says:

    I find it interesting that, rather than be upset that nearly half of the working adults in the country make so little money that it isn’t even worth taxing them, some people are upset that someone making billions is being taxed at less than half the rate that the just over half of working adults pay.

  21. ladyneeva says:

    @ladyneeva: rather, that they’re being asked to pay more than half of what the normal tax rate for people who do make enough to be taxed, but do so by working instead of fiddling numbers around on a computer.

  22. phred says:

    @Cregan: “No, it still stands that 48% of the earners pay no income tax whatsoever. Zero.”

    Perhaps you can provide a little context for us, how much exactly do these “earners” earn as they laugh all the way to the bank? And how much of those earnings come from government assistance?

  23. MadDog says:

    @Cregan: More nonsense.

    I’d love to be “punished” with a 15% tax rate like the hedge fund casino players, but instead I get the non-punishment of a 38%-40% tax rate.

    I’m guessing that math was never your strong point.

    As to that specious canard of a conservative talking point that “48% of the earners pay no income tax”, break it down by income for us all.

    Enlighten us as to just who those earners are.

    I doubt that you can or that you will. And no, linking to some discredited conservative economic fool won’t do it.

    Prove it yourself!

    Tap…tap…tap…we’re waiting…tap…tap…tap.

  24. MadDog says:

    @A Conservative Teacher:

    “…he just wants OTHER people to pay more in taxes while he keeps his own.”

    You continue to prove that reading comprehension is beyond your skills.

    To quote Buffett in his own NYT Op-Ed:

    “…But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

    My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress…”

    (My Bold)

    I fear for the pupils you purportedly “teach”. When the “teacher” maintains that Down is Up, Off is On, Wrong is Right, the pupils have to be rolling their eyes.

  25. Cregan says:

    @MadDog:

    That figure comes from the IRS. So, argue with them if you don’t believe it.

    What do they make? That is aside from the point. When you have half of everybody contributing nothing, it isn’t what anyone would call a fair system.

    The rate goes by percentage. So, if you make less, you pay less in taxes. That is fair.

    Here is the main point, if nearly 50% are paying nothing, THEY have nothing to complain about how much ANYONE else is paying.

    I would change one part of the tax code regarding capital gains. I would change the holding time period to a longer one. I am completely in favor of those investing in a business to get it started, etc. getting a better rate. But, not somebody who invests through a broker to buy Apple for a year and then sells.

    I’d make the time 3 or 4 years. The 15% rate is a legitimate incentive to get people to invest in new businesses and innovation, but not stock traders.

    so, we agree in that area.

    But, there are still 48% who have no grounds to complain about the taxes anyone pays.

    Last, Buffet, as many have said, is under no restrictions to give more to the government if he feels it’s a great thing. In fact, if he thinks the government is such a great place to send your money, why doesn’t he say that he giving his wealth when he dies to the Treasury rather than Bill Gates foundation?

    Yeah, that’s right, he’s blowing smoke, he doesn’t really feel the government is that great a place to give his money to, and he’s only trying to make some political point.

    When he starts giving his own money to the government, I’ll listen to him.

  26. b. says:

    Buffet is calling for underfunding Social Security and Medicare – payroll tax reduction – while supporting the “austerity first” Super Congress approach, rigged and undemocratic as it is. This is a scam. Of course, the “money from money” aspect of it is still useful. Lambert Strether quoted a similar point about money-from-money vs. money-from-commodity-from-money (as in Obama vs. Perry, or Big Finance regulatory capture vs. Big Oil regulatory capture).

    But Buffet is not your friend, and he and Munger have been undermining Social Security for years.

  27. phred says:

    @Cregan: “What do they make? That is aside from the point. When you have half of everybody contributing nothing, it isn’t what anyone would call a fair system.”

    Au contraire, what they make is the crux of the matter.

    Someone like you sees that percentage and their first thought is, “freeloaders!!!”.

    Someone like me sees it and thinks, “when did we become a third world country?!?”.

    What the 48% of “earners” who pay no taxes make is essential to understanding the problem, which is essential to solving it.

    Further, note the shift in your argument from 48% of “earners” to “everyone”. “Everyone” includes children, retirees, and the unemployed. “Earners” are only people with jobs, even crappy part-time, underpaying jobs.

    So, I will restate the question in the hopes you will answer it: what do the 48% of earners who pay no taxes earn?

  28. joberly says:

    @ Cregan– you say “That figure comes from the IRS.” No, it does not. A quick google search shows that the “48 percent of households pay no income taxes” comes from a press release from the Tax Policy Center in April 2010. It was based on 2009 filings. That figure was up ten percent from the 38% in 2008, mainly because of the Bush rebate checks of 2008. The figure from 2010, according to Tax Policy Center is 46%, down from 2009.

    But should we loyal Emptywheel readers accept what Cregan says? Or the trollish A.C.T. echoes? Or even what the Tax Policy Center says? Hasn’t EW herself taught us to go to the primary source? So, go to the IRS, download the data for yourself. You’ll see that there were just under 108 million tax returns filed. Only 829,000 (fewer than 1 percent) earned so little that they were taxed at zero percent. The other 99% of filers were taxed at least at five percent. So where did Tax Policy Center get its “48 percent pay no income taxes”? The 107 million certainly had taxable income. Think of a 1040 form–they had income to report through line 37, their adjusted gross income. Some had their taxable income offset by the standard deduction or for dependents, but (I figure 76%)still owed tax as of line 43. But then come the credits for child care, etc., and their tax liability became a tax refund.

    Here is the link for 2008 tax year: http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/

  29. Bay State Librul says:

    @Cregan:

    Naw. I don’t think Buffet is blowing any
    smoke
    We have a system based on “ability to pay”
    Nothing wrong with that…

  30. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Actually, they do have something to complain about.

    Those folks paying the 15% income tax rate?

    They get it–those who actually still work rather than sit in their mansions investing–by cutting the pay of employees.

    If their pay had kept up with the pay of those paying 15% rates, or heck, even inflation, they probably would be paying tax.

    But instead we have to put more in the pockets of those who pay the 15% rate.

  31. MadDog says:

    @Cregan:

    “That figure comes from the IRS. So, argue with them if you don’t believe it…”

    As I predicted, you can’t or won’t break it down by income yourself. And I’m not dinging you for ideological reasons since I wouldn’t particularly desire to do that deconstruction myself.

    Nevertheless, I do believe that it is probably very important to know what that “purported” IRS figure consists of.

    Does it consist of the hundreds of corporations that don’t pay any income tax at all? Folks like GE?

    Does it consist of millions of low-income wage earners who subsist at or below the poverty level?

    Does it consist of millions of small business owners or Chapter S corporations who don’t pay any Federal income tax?

    Does it consist of middle income earners with families who are able to use deductions to eliminate their taxes?

    Again, I think the breakdown of that 48% figure would be very important and germane to the discussion.

    “…Here is the main point, if nearly 50% are paying nothing, THEY have nothing to complain about how much ANYONE else is paying…”

    Hmmm…I don’t remember there being anything in the Constitution or in any law throughout the land that prohibits folks from complaining to their heart’s content.

    Surely, you would not be suggesting (though you did) that complaining is a right only for those who pay taxes?

    Would you be making that a law now?

    Perhaps another law preventing folks from speaking out against murder who have not been murdered, no?

    I will mostly agree with your position on capital gains taxes.

    The problem I have with the topic of capital gains taxes is that there doesn’t seem to be a good way to distinguish between those who invest to “make jobs” versus those how invest to merely “make money”.

    Increasing the “holding” period doesn’t necessarily do the job.

    I’d welcome better ideas on how to discriminate between the two, since I believe that those who invest to “make jobs” is worth far more to the US than those who invest to “make money”.

  32. MadDog says:

    @joberly: Ta for chasing the real source down!

    As Mark Twain was known to remark:

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

    The devil is always in the details!

  33. politicsnall says:

    @Maddog- You are so right! Buffet is probably the only person who remembers that riches dont last forever and has a stable mind that has learnt to control greed, so its worth listening what he is talking about.

  34. floundericious says:

    @Cregan:

    Yeah, you see, Cregan…I still have a problem with your argument.

    It goes right to the heart of why we have taxes and why they are, when possible, PRO-gressive.

    The person who ‘earns’ $500,000 per year earns it how? Seriously…

    You really have only so many ways to get it:

    1) Executive management
    2) Artisan (architect, fashion, museum art, film/TV)
    3) Star performer (sports, theater, music)
    4) Freelance business (real estate, consultant, etc.)
    5) Wildly successful proprietor (the 0.1% of small business owners who see their idea become fabulously successful)
    6) Investors

    I may have missed a category, but that’s really about it.

    Look at all of those categories…you tell me which ones are created PURELY on the back of the person earning it.

    Go on, take your time…

    Any one you point to, I can show you how they derived the maximal benefits from society, as a whole.

    The fashion magnate makes their fortune because there’s a large middle class out there that can afford and aspire to their luxury wardrobe.

    The sports star is useless and penniless without a strong, vibrant league to play in.

    The executive manager is up a creek without a paddle if there aren’t lots of workers to manage and cash flow that needs oversight…again, who is paying that? Government? The massive consumer base of the U.S.? This money doesn’t appear out of thin air.

    You want to point to artisans? To whom do they sell? Where do those folks get the money? How many artisans can start with literally nothing and create museum-quality art? Most get some benefit of public education or other assistance to carry them while they are “starving artists.”

    Successful proprietors? Who did they sell to? Did they truly do it without a single helping hand from anyone in society? They never hired an employee or leaned on acquaintances to network and increase their exposure?

    I could go on…

    Their success came as a direct result of our society…specifically the middle class. The vast majority of government outlays go to paying for jobs for the middle class, providing a safety net for workers, or supporting the very old/young/infirm.

    If you are in the “high earner” bracket, you are DEPENDENT upon a wealthy, healthy middle class…period. You should accept a higher marginal tax rate as the cost of having such a prestigious, prosperous position.

    Claiming that a “highly successful person” shouldn’t be asked to pay a higher marginal tax rate is like a star wide receiver catching the winning touchdown pass in the last seconds of the fourth quarter and claiming “yeah, baby, I won this game all by myself…my team mates did NOTHING…it’s all me! I rock!”

  35. joberly says:

    @MadDog–Thanks for the hat-tip. Earlier mid-day, I listened to Pres. Obama in Cannon Falls, MN. He referred to the Buffett op-ed piece in his remarks. And EW–he asked for a trade deal with Korea “so we can start selling Chevys and Fords to Korea…we don’t mind Hyundais and Kias here but we want some Made in America products there.” I guess that is part of his standard stump speech these days. Oh, in the background, some of the Cannon Falls teachers kept saying “UNION.”

  36. MadDog says:

    @joberly: I was thinking of driving down to Cannon Falls from St. Paul to razz welcome Obama to Minnesota, but I decided the gain was likely not worth the effort.

    And we’re all probably on the Secret Service’s watchlist anyways. *g*

  37. Cregan says:

    @phred:

    OK, 48% of people who earned income.

    When nearly half the population contributes nothing to the maintenance of the country, that isn’t what an objective person would call fair.

    Objective would be if I took the “taxes” and politics out of it. for example, if I asked you how fair it would be for 50% of a class in school to do no homework and the other 50% has to?

    Or, half of a team has to go to practice and the other half doesn’t?

  38. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    Interesting that you think the money these people earn was put in their pockets by someone else. Which, of course, is the interesting idea many have that the money you earn, by whatever method, is the government’s and then they give you whatever they think you should have.

    A fundamental difference of viewpoint.

    In my view, if you don’t pay any tax, you don’t really have any room to complain that someone else is not paying enough. As Obama is prone to say, “Have some skin in the game.” Then, complain.

    And, the old argument that someone else doing well prevents you from having something, is bogus. Prove to me how Sergey Brin having tons of money from Google prevented you from earning even one dollar more than you did.

    The case is all fuzzy, with generalized ideas, but when you request how it prevented any one specific person from earning more, it can’t be done, because the two are not connected.

    Yeah, you might find one guy somewhere who got specifically cheated somewhere, but again, show me how Brin doing well, or Buffett doing well prevented you from doing better.

    Your life is in your own hands. You don’t have to believe that any more than you have to believe that gravity makes a ball drop when you release it. But, that doesn’t mean that actions not based on it will not be workable.

    The proof is all those people in the 48%. I haven’t done a survey, but I would bet most agree with the idea that other’s success prevents them from having any, instead of their action or lack of action playing the biggest role.
    But, I understand others look at it differntly. but, I haven’t seen results from that way of looking at it. The poverty rate is the same today at 50 years ago, not a new piece of data. You might say, “well the efforts to help that were not enough (The Krugman school of thinking, the only reason something didn’t work was there wasn’t enough of it). But, if the general concept was true, and workable, the poverty rate would be lower to SOME degree. Not eliminated, but improved to some degree.

    Improved to no degree over a long period of time tells me it is based of false data in a fundamental way.

  39. Cregan says:

    @floundericious:

    You have it EXACTLY backwards.

    I can tell you this; the average workman would do nothing if no one gave him a job to do. Only a VERY small percentage, when faced with no one giving them a job to do creates one of their own.

    Society does not create the 6 categories you list–those in the 6 categories created the framework and society.

    The down and outer did not create the US government; creative people at the top of the scale created it and organized the forces that made it happen.

    And those at the bottom have benefited and contributed to it for the past 200 years.

    Those at the bottom certainly contribute and help, but they don’t create anything unless they are told to. And, if they do, then they become one of the 6 categories you mention.

    So, the truth is that the average Joe or Jane benefit from the society those 6 categories of people created, not the other way around.

    And, I do include enlightened government officials in the 6 categories.

  40. Cregan says:

    @floundericious:

    One clarification, when I say “create something,” I mean in a major or significant way.

    People are often creative in a small way in their jobs and every day lives–making a garden, wording a letter in a unique way, etc.

    I am talking about in a bigger sense.

  41. phred says:

    @Cregan: Still won’t answer the question I see. That’s disappointing, you usually defend your arguments far better than this. Oh well. I’ll just chalk it up to a knee jerk “freeloaders!!!” reaction. That’s a pity. It could have been a far more interesting conversation than this.

  42. phred says:

    @Cregan: So by your “skin in the game” argument, GE and other corporate persons who pay no taxes should not be able to lobby Congress. Is that right? Is that what you are saying?

    Should a corporate person (and all persons, by your argument) only be able to lobby government proportionally to the taxes they pay? More taxes = more face-time with legislators, is that right?

  43. Cregan says:

    @phred:

    Thought I answered your question.

    The 48% is the bottom 48% of income earners. What their names are, I don’t know.

    But, since the poverty rate is somewhere around 13 or 16%, that means that 2/3 rds of that 48% are people above the poverty level.

    But again, the point is, if you are paying no tax, you have no leg to stand on complaining about someone who is paying some tax not paying enough.

    It also skews quite a few other things.

    I don’t want to wear out my welcome, if I had any to begin, so I will leave it here.

  44. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: No, actually it means two things.

    1) one of the many things we as a country provide is health care to those who either CAN’T work or old. Problem is, because our country refuses to cut into the profits of the medical industry, that is an astronomical sum, far higher than it should be. So for a huge chunk of people, what they pay in goes to caring for the old and caring for the sick.

    If you don’t think that counts, then you’re suggesting that our country has not made a decision taht that is one thing we pay for, just like we pay for rich people to have access to other markets.

    2) It ALSO says that these people are working wages so low that they are not liveable wages. Now you may think we should screw those people anyway, instead of those who pay them those wages. But in effect, what these people do is subidize the profits of the very wealthy. NOw again, you appear to think taht’s cool–that it’s cool for employers to make their workers work for less than it actually takes to live off of. Me, I think it’s hte least we can do since all those employers get their subsidized labor.

  45. Cregan says:

    @phred:

    Sorry, I didn’t notice one post was unanswered, so this it.

    Yes, lobbyists should be able to have face time in direct proportion to the bribes they pay. They more you bribe, the more face time you get.

    Kidding.

    GE should pay tax. A flat tax with no deducts would solve that.

    GE should have some say in what happens in that they have thousands of employees and shareholders, including retiree funds, who would be affected by government action or inaction. An out of line amount? No. But, any large organization should have the capacity to give input to the officials whose actions affect them and those they have responsibility for–whether a union, a corporation or an association like AARP.

    A guy paying no tax still gets to vote. People will complain about something whether they ought to or not. No one is going to stop them–whether the guy who pays nothing, the Tea Party or Move On.

  46. phred says:

    @Cregan: “I can tell you this; the average workman would do nothing if no one gave him a job to do.”

    Bully for criminal conduct — that’s the entrepreneurial spirit! No one “giving” you a job? Well, then consider prostitution, theft, or various other economic opportunities that might suit you ; )

    Honestly, Cregan, this is just depressing.

    “Those at the bottom certainly contribute and help, but they don’t create anything unless they are told to.”

    Do you seriously believe this rubbish? This is just pathetic.

    Your magical creationists, benefactors to us all, would get nothing done were it not for regular people doing the heavy lifting.

    Until you put your nose to the grindstone and report back on exactly who is and who is not paying federal taxes and for what reasons, your bigotry is just that. Unfounded bigotry.

  47. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: I forgot 3)

    3) We have also decided as a country that we’re better off making sure children (the bulk of the people at the low end–as opposed to the corporations and the really wealth–who don’t pay income tax, as opposed to FICA, taxes pay because they received credits tied to having kids) don’t go without things that contribute to their development. We don’t think children should go without medical care, food, and adequate housing just because their parents are paid so little they can’t provide them for their kids.

    It’s an investment in our country just like an investment in roads.

    But for some reason, wingnuts think investments in our children are morally wrong while investments in foreign markets are great.

  48. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Another point.
    Poverty rate, when you consider how much people work. Much, much higher. The numbers of working poor have skyrocketed.

    Productivity?

    Way up.

    You do the math. Segei Brin pays his telephone people shit wages. Apparently you think those peopel working for Brin for shit wages deserve to starve.

  49. phred says:

    @Cregan: Lets try it again then, shall we… My orginal comment (at 27) contained two questions:

    “Perhaps you can provide a little context for us, how much exactly do these “earners” earn as they laugh all the way to the bank? And how much of those earnings come from government assistance? ”

    If you still don’t understand what I’m after, please read and respond to joberly’s comment at 37.

    I really do not see how you are distinguishing between the likes of GE and the bottom dwellers you are so condescending towards and about whom you appear to know nothing at all. So I am genuinely puzzled of your contempt of hatred of those you do not understand.

  50. emptywheel says:

    @phred: Eh, Cregan just doesn’t want to think about all thre freeloading he does w/cheaper prices for goods and services the employees who provide those of which aren’t paid living wages.

  51. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    Like Godfather 3, I try to get out, but they keep pulling me back in. This is the last one to answer.

    Medicare is something the person pays into, and very likely will get a benefit directly paid to them in return. And, very likely more than they put in. So, I don’t count that as contribution. Paying for something you will get no direct benefit from is a contribution.

    As far as wages go, as mentioned above, the 48% is made up of people who are not all poor. Not rich maybe, but not all poor.

    Again, you didn’t show me how Brin making a ton of money prevented you or even someone you know from getting anything. In fact, with Google searches, his creation likely HELPED you make more income. It really is not a zero sum game. Warren Buffet making a ton of money doesn’t prevent me from doing whatever I do. And, I don’t save money with Geico.

    It is just a myth that this occurs.

    Now, yes, of course, you are going to find an exception. You can say people from Florida are nice, and then someone will point out Ted Bundy. Doesn’t change the idea that people from Florida are nice.

    So, Joe Blow or Jane Blow in Oregon are not kept from earning something by Gates, Buffet, Brin, Jack Welch or some hedge funder.

    Now, it is true that they MIGHT be prevented from earning more by a government agency that denies them a permit to do something, or one that says they can’t do this or can’t do that.

  52. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    Actually, I like saving money from the sweat off the backs of those who are paid a pittence.

    I should note I was once homeless myself. So, I know about being poor firsthand.

  53. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: How much does GE owe to use, given that we bailed GE Capital out to the tune of billions when they went under on the gambling market? Rather than repaying that debt, by creating some living wage paying jobs, they’ve instead took their toys and moved more jobs to China.

    SO as I see it, you actually picked a massive welfare recipient as your example.

    Why aren’t you complaining about GE doing something because no one forced them to do so? They’re a bigger deadbeat, proportionately, than teh people you claim aren’t contributing to this country (but which are actually making your life nice with their cheap labor).

  54. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Oh, okay, so you’re okay with that, given that the big corporations get so much from this country, that they don’t pay living wages?

  55. phred says:

    @Cregan: “GE should have some say in what happens in that they have thousands of employees and shareholders, including retiree funds, who would be affected by government action or inaction. An out of line amount? No. But, any large organization should have the capacity to give input to the officials whose actions affect them and those they have responsibility for–whether a union, a corporation or an association like AARP.”

    Admittedly you think GE should pay taxes (cool — we agree on something!) nonetheless you think they should still have a say, even if they don’t pay taxes, while an ordinary person should not have that right. That just does not make sense to me.

    Further, I suspect that among those 48% are both those who are quite productive (according to your definition), but who can legitimately claim tax credits and deductions that reduce their tax burden to zero (i.e., the human equivalent of GE), as well as those who simply do not make enough money.

    Do you really begrudge poor people their poverty? Are you really envious of those who can barely afford necessities, if they can afford them at all? Why do you loathe people more unfortunate than yourself so much? You seem to think poverty is a preferred life choice. In my experience, it arises from a series of unfortunate circumstances. I begrudge such people nothing at all.

  56. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: No one is saying it occurs. What we’re syaing is Brin is paying too little, and you see the subsidies real people get to make sure their kids don’t end up being a bigger burden on society are subsidizing those working poor, not Brin.

    But Brin’s the one making out like a bandit.

  57. emptywheel says:

    @phred: I think we’re pretty close to saying that poor people shouldn’t have children (and should just kill them if a setback in life makes them poor). Because just about the only two ways–aside from the rich and their tax shelters, which is a chunk of this 48% Cregan wants to dismiss) don’t pay taxes is if 1) they earn less than standard deductions (that is, are working but still make poverty wages) or 2) if they have credits tied to having children.

    So we’ll just kill all the poor people’s kids, and it’ll fix our tax system. Solved!

  58. phred says:

    @emptywheel: Nor does he want to consider the possibility that one of the things that contributes to the fortunes amassed by the CEO set is underpaying their employees, who actually you know, provide the goods and/or services that make the companies profitable.

    Those little free-loading worker bees are just ingrates for all the beneficence of their corporate masters ; )

  59. emptywheel says:

    @phred: Right. It’s a good thing corporations don’t pay people enough to support a family off of one salary,rather than 3 or 4 these days. Because it makes our country a much better place, with kids raising themselves on TV while their parents work 2-3 jobs.

  60. DWBartoo says:

    Cregan, you think it unfair that 48% pay, as you say, “nothing” in taxes?

    How do you view the reality that the top 5% “earn” (Hah!) or control more wealth than that bottom 48% combined?

    How does this “fair” business play with that wee fact?

    You do not agree that those who “benefit” most should expect to pay their “fair” share back to the society or “regulations” (or lack thereof) which so lavishly “rewards” them?

    Just for clarity’s sake, precisely what “big”, “major”, or “significant” things do the monied elite create, produce, or otherwise share?

    Bascially, your “arguments” seem to be seeking a justification for unrestrained greed. If there is another word, which you might prefer, then what might it be?

    Do you agree with the sentiment expressed, loudly and arrogantly, by certain “astute” Wall Streeters, that they are ever so much “smarter” and more “clever” than the rest of us?

    DW

  61. phred says:

    @Cregan: “Again, you didn’t show me how Brin making a ton of money prevented you or even someone you know from getting anything.”

    I haven’t any idea who Brin is, but I’m pretty sure that I would disagree with this argument on a broader scale.

    The whole problem with income inequality (and a tax system that facilitates that) is that when fewer and fewer people hold more and more of a nation’s wealth, that it sucks money out of the entire economy depriving people of jobs and an ability to make a living, thereby depriving them of their ability to enjoy their civic obligation to pay taxes.

    The jobs crisis we have right now could fairly easily be resolved by taxing the top 1% of income earners (it was a 90% rate at one time), then using those funds to create jobs throughout the country.

    So yes, when Brin and his little chums hoard the cash, they are in fact depriving other people from earning a living. Leeches ; )

  62. phred says:

    @emptywheel: No kidding. I was thinking about my grandparents the other day… They raised 3 kids during the depression, all on my grandfather’s income as a… wait for it… teacher. There you go, freeloader! Anyway, following the depression with new and improved bank regulations a middle class person could make long-term investments on Wall Street that would more often than not accumulate over a lifetime to provide for a comfortable retirement, which they were fortunate enough to enjoy.

    The other night we had dinner with a group of friends. We’re all in the vicinity of 50 years old and not one of us has any confidence in what retirement might look like for us. With Wall Street having returned to its predator state from the Roaring Twenties and defined-benefit pensions having gone the way of the dodo and a healthcare system that is completely out of control and an economy that appears destined to be stuck in neutral/reverse for a decade, optimism was pretty thin on the ground…

    Meanwhile Cregan has a bug up his nose about poor people. It just boggles my mind. Yeah, it’s all poor peoples’ fault!!! It’s not just ridiculous, it is a stupefyingly counter-productive waste of time and energy fixating on something that cannot begin to solve any of the very real problems we face. It’s like the nutty immigrant thing. What a waste of time, energy, and resources. Sigh.

  63. emptywheel says:

    @phred: Brin’s one of the cofounders of Google. You know, a monopoly enterprise that stifles real competition? The kind of monopoly that is anti-capitalist that made Adam Smith worry?

  64. emptywheel says:

    @phred: Yeah, but it’s crystal clear he hasn’t looked into who he’s talking about-or actual poverty levels and/or income levels over time. Poor families, w/2 earners (some working multiple jobs) make what single-earner families did in the 1950s. The reason so many of these people don’t pay income (as opposed to FICA, sales etc) taxes are because they had the audacity to have children or simply are dirt poor.

  65. phred says:

    @emptywheel: Ah yes, the “free market” that isn’t actually free. If you want to have a little innocent fun with a free-market libertarian, ask them how they would prevent the formation of monopolies that stifle competition…

    And as for your comment at 76, you are absolutely right.

  66. P J Evans says:

    @emptywheel:
    Possibly, but a lot of its points are farther to the right than most of us are willing to go. And that last comment was pretty much straight out of the right-of-center PR handouts.

  67. emptywheel says:

    @P J Evans: That’s fine.

    What we discovered today is that those who spout this “48% don’t pay taxes” do so not knowing about the decline in wages, and the rise in poverty (considering more people in workforce). And they do so, apparently, having not considered whether they really think the working poor should just kill their children or starve them.

    That’s important to know.

  68. P J Evans says:

    @emptywheel:
    Allowing for inflation, I’m making about as much money was my father did when he retired. He was able to buy a house and have a family on that kind of income (or less). I can’t afford a large apartment, never mind a house. And my paycheck is well above the mean.

  69. joberly says:

    @EW # 80: They are the 48% spouters today, but Palin complained about the “40 percent” in the 2008 campaign, so I think this has resentment has been building for several years.

    And here’s a little more fun with IRS data: of the 90 million people who reported taxable income in 2008, the following are the numbers claiming tax credits and deductions:

    4.4 million took the child-care credit(this is the credit that Secretary Geithner, Zoe Baird, Linda Chavez, Bernie Kerik, Kimba Wood et al conveniently forgot to take because they paid the nanny under the table);

    15.1 million filers took the child credit, $1k per child 17 and under; Americans taking this credit must average 1.5 kids since the totals credited = only $22 billion. Guess there aren’t many real-life Richard Pryor characters in *Blue Collar* claiming six fictional kids on their 1040s.

    5.2 million took an education credit

    3.5 million took a retirement contribution credit

    188,000 took the energy efficient upgrade credit

    3.4 million took the Earned Income Credit

    and, surprising to me, 6.4 million took the foreign tax credit, to the tune of $14 billion to offset payments made to other nation-states. IRS Publication 514 says that only foreign “income, war profits, and excess profits” taxes qualify for the US credit. Go figure ! The IRS also says that the total of individual and corporate foreign income tax credits = $90 billion, so with a little arithmetic, that means GE and the others claimed $76 B for this credit.

    don’t know where the credits go. True, they do want the working poor to kill/starve their children, but they also want the following:

  70. Cregan says:

    @phred:

    Listen, the fact is that your average citizen doesn’t do anything unless they are told or given a job. I mean in regard to work.

    If they did create themselves a job, they’d be in one of the 6 categories.

    I’m not saying the average Joe or Jane not working unless given a job or directed to do something is bad. Only, that is the way it is.

    Notice, I didn’t say they sit around and twiddle their thumbs. I am saying, they don’t create their own jobs. The jobs are created for them by one of the people in the 6 categories.

    This fact is proven by the depression. When no one made the jobs, people were indigent and starving in big numbers. They DIDN’T get together, organize themselves and find a productive way they could make money. SOME did, the overwhelming majority didn’t and you had 25% unemployment.

    You can wish it was different, but that is what actually happened.

    Those people in the 6 categories are responsible for and the creators of the nice world the average Joe or Jane lives in. NOT the other way around.

    Some average Joe or Jane didn’t sweat their nuts off creating Apple Computer. Two guys in category 1 to 6 did.

    You can even see it in the country today. Obama has given up leadership, and the country is basically rudderless.

    China got rid of those types 1 to 6 in the 50’s and 60’s, and they fell into a toilet so deep you couldn’t see the rim.

    I don’t disrespect the worker. He does great things. But, he isn’t the creator of the world he is in, no more than the tube of paint created the painting. The paint was essential, but it didn’t create it.

  71. Cregan says:

    @joberly:

    You say EXACTLY the point I am making. The 48% are NOT poor people. Some are, but most aren’t.

    As we go further down the tubes, maybe, I am sure there will be complaining about the 50% and the 60%.

    But, I’m not complaining. I’m only saying THEY don’t have a leg to stand on complaining about someone who IS paying taxes not paying enough. When they start paying something, I’ll listen.

  72. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    I don’t get your point. I never said, or intended to say, that GE is good for not paying any taxes. They ought to for sure. I don’t like that they didn’t.

    I was only saying that any large organization whose employees or members are affected by government action or inaction are entitled to be heard by the officials.

  73. Cregan says:

    @phred:

    Well, I was homeless for quite a period of time, so I think I know a lot more about being poor than you. I remember trying to find some discarded CD’s to sell to get a few bucks to get meal. And, many other things.

    I have no resentment for poor people. I just know they are heading down a dead end street when they begin thinking someone else is causing them to be poor.

    I just know that way of thinking is not workable and doesn’t produce any results.

  74. Cregan says:

    @phred:

    You have the mistaken idea that the economy is limited or that there are only so many dollars to go around.

    It isn’t like there are only 100 dollars available and if I get one more it means you get one less.

  75. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    I know exactly who I am talking about, and the point still stands. How did Brin keep YOU from making more income?

    I’d bring up the depression to wages caused by illegal immigration, but I know that would get into another different discussion. Immigration is fine. But, an over supply of cheap labor DOES makes wages lower for everyone. Maybe more so than Buffet not paying the extra he would like to pay for taxes.

    I didn’t make that comment to start a discussion of immigration.

  76. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    I expected better from you.

    First, I never said anything about the 48% being bad people, freeloaders or any other thing which has been dubbed in to my posts by others..

    My ONLY point, was that if you are not paying ANY income tax, you don’t have much of a leg to stand on complaining about those that do.

    As I also said earlier, I was fucking indigent for years so I know a fuck of lot more about being poor than most of the people here. Who talk like know, but don’t know shit about it. And, only imagine it from their nice warm chairs in front of their computers.

  77. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Actually, you did. YOu suggested htey were blaming others for not having money (the Segei Brin excuse, which you’re talking yourself in circles about but no one besides you is arguing), you said they didn’t do any work w/o being forced, etc.

  78. DWBartoo says:

    Ah Cregan, you have made YOUR position and YOUR perspective abundantly clear.

    Let me assure you, it has been most instructive, indeed … and very revealing.

    I am glad that you are no longer poor, and are now able to hold forth on the need of those 48%, poor or whatever, to keep their mouths shut and respect the rights of their betters to amass Billions or even Trillions of dollars, which, as you have pointed out, is no problem because the money supply, unlike the basic resources which support life, is not, in any way limited, that there are always more dollars to be had, presumably an infinite amount. Would that be a fair assessment of the gist of your economic philosophy?

    As I say, Cregan, your comments here have been most enlightening …

    DW

  79. phred says:

    @Cregan: “Listen, the fact is that your average citizen doesn’t do anything unless they are told or given a job. I mean in regard to work.”

    Cregan this is complete bullshit made up out of whole cloth out of your bigoted imagination. I will never agree to such a ridiculous premise.

    “Notice, I didn’t say they sit around and twiddle their thumbs. I am saying, they don’t create their own jobs. ”

    Again, I say bullshit. If a person is staring hunger or homelessness in the face, you can bet your ass they will try anything they can think of to make money, which after all is what a job is for. You claim you were homeless once. I wonder, what you did to get out of your predicament? I suspect it was not nothing.

    “This fact is proven by the depression. When no one made the jobs, people were indigent and starving in big numbers. They DIDN’T get together, organize themselves and find a productive way they could make money. ”

    Wrong again. People were out of work when the criminals on Wall Street sucked all the money out of the economy starving the rest of the country of the necessary resources to promote employment. This was exacerbated by the Dust Bowl period wreaking havoc on agriculture, so people had a hard time even subsisting on their land. This led to mass migrations during the same time when the country was reeling from the predations of Wall Street. So guess what happened? People DID organize and the New Deal was born and the afflicted masses you hold in such profound contempt remade the country for the better, until jackals like you began ripping it apart out of your own hatred and greed.

    Just as an aside, the 6 category business was not my argument, and I don’t agree with the framework described, so I would just as soon not get sidetracked in that direction.

  80. phred says:

    @Cregan: I am sorry to hear of your misfortune. As I suspected though, you did do whatever you could to make money.

    And you should never ever presume what other people’s lives have been like.

  81. phred says:

    @Cregan: Again, this is a point we disagree on. When the Fed hands out $16 Trillion like candy to banks, yet turns around and demands austerity from ordinary citizens, then either the economy is limited or our government officials are a thieving pack of liars. Of course, both might be true ; )

  82. Mary says:

    @Cregan @9 – keep the numbers in perspective.

    All those 47 (since the poll was based on Earned Income) are paying, directly or through employer match requirements, double digit taxes. Not “income” but payroll. They are also paying sales taxes. Property taxes. State income tax. Huge proportional amounts of interest from home and credit card loans (aka creating jobs in the banking industry). If they have kids, they have additional deductions and nothing in the those “study” numbers equalizes for any of those things. And they by an large pay healh insurance out of pocket, despite paying “into” medicare/medicaid.

    But if they pay a fair amount in state income tax and property tax and have any dependents and are making in the 30-40 range, and if they are able to take advantage of anything like an old-style IRA or 401K contribuion or health savings account, then with all their itemized deductions for their other income and property taxes and with the itemized deductions for 4 paid into the financial system in the form of interest to keep the system afloat, they will “only” pay double digit payroll taxes exceeding the cap gains tax paid by someone with no earned income, just CGs.

    You have to learn to look past the bleached blonde to the dark roots on taxes. Also, you are basically leaving corporations themselves out of the equation when you talk about what can be raised by taxing the super rich.

    Small businesses (I’ve owned one or two and my family members as well) are the job creators – not megacorps. And mulinationals are a real bane on the domestic job front. I kind of think that if the US is going to make real, flesh and blood, people fish or cut bait on citizenship/nationality they should make the corps as well, fwiw.

    Anyway, here’s the thing – take out the Afghan and Iraq wars and look at adjusted job creation during the Bush years and the Obama years. Tax cuts didn’t boost domestic job. But here’s a suggestion, tie the tax cuts to domestic job creation. IOW, to get cuts, they must create US jobs. To get more cuts, those need to be US jobs with healthcare. Lose US jobs and lose the tax cuts. Lose US jobs for too long and get a statutory cap kick-in above which officer and Board compensation is statutorily deemed unreasonable (no kick in on this provision for businesses creating US jobs) and subject to a confiscatory (over 50%) tax.

    @scribe – I still think it’s an odd comment. Do you know anything abou Buffet? No way would it even begin to be worth it to him to pay 100,000 to get someone to “shut up” on criticism of him. He’s not an Obama and he’s not thin skinned and finger steepley. He could care less.

  83. DWBartoo says:

    @Mary:

    Excellent response to Cregan, Mary.

    I do wish, however, that Buffet, who as you say, is not thin-skinned and given to steeple-fingering, had mentioned that the lavish largess heaped upon the super-rich by Congress did come at a “cost”, which might be but “peanuts” from the perspective of those lucky wealthers, but it has come at considerable expense, of various “kinds” to the rest of us …

    DW

  84. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    that is baloney. I said they don’t do anything until or unless someone gives them a job or tells them what to do–and I clarified as pertaining to economic issues, not that they sit around all day.

    And, it is a fact. I don’t see too many of the unemployed creating their own jobs. some do, and when they do, they become one of the 6 categories suggested by another poster. So, automatically, they are not part of the “workers.”

    It really is insane to argue that a leaderless society without creative people organizing and postulating a framework would do anything of ANY note. When the order breaks down, the “masses” never rescue it. It is always a few people, whether left or right, who pull it together and GIVE the masses something to go toward.

    You can wish it was better or different, but that doesn’t make it so.

    As I said, the painter needs tubes of paint to make a painting, but that doesn’t mean the tubes made the painting. As with workers, you can argue that the painter couldn’t have made the painting without the tubes. But, no matter how essential or important, the tubes didn’t make the painting.

    You confuse the importance of an ingredient with authorship.

    Now, if you can come up with 5 or 6 examples, not just one exception, of societies that disintegrated and where the workers spontaniously got together and built a factory so they could make their own jobs, I’ll change my mind.

    As I said, in societies, such as China, where they DID try to apply your viewpoint, the WHOLE taco went south. The guys who had been at the top went down for sure, but so did everyone else.

    Cuba, who also tried to act on the same false basic idea, ALSO went south. It all looked good UNTIL it was discovered much later that the illusion of a wonderful Cuba was caused by the USSR propping them with huge subsidies in an effort to create a PR illusion for Latin America.

    Chavez is heading in the same downward direction, and if it were not for oil, he’d be there now. Even with oil, he’s plumbing new depths.

  85. Cregan says:

    @DWBartoo:

    You must have not read where I said specifically, that the 48% can complain about anything they like. But, when you are not paying anything, you don’t have a logical leg to stand on complaining about those who ARE paying.

    People, of course, will complain about anything. It is something they are quite good at.

    Does that complaining help them? Not really. Would trying to come up with creative ideas, that don’t require much in resources, to expand their income help them? For sure.

    Listen, their life is their own. If they wish to spend it complaining that those who are paying for the services, they may or may not be getting, are not paying enough, so be it.

    When they find themselves in the same situation some time later, they might ponder if the time might have been spent a bit better, because, you see, it is they who have to live their lives. Buffett isn’t going to live it for them.

    Now, that’s perspective from the streets.

    I had to ask myself, did I want to continue sleeping on hard ground and do as all the other people I knew in the same situation were doing (complaining about how this person or that person, or whatever, was responsible for them being where they were) or did I want to do something else better?

    You can do all the complaining and finger pointing if you are poor, but in the end, it is you who must live your life and the hard ground–the politician is going to go home to his nice bed after giving the nice speech about poverty and homelessness.

    Again, as a person sitting in a nice, or even crummy chair tapping your computer, you think you know, but you don’t.

    And last, the proof is in the pudding. The poverty rate has not changed in the 50 years the programs have been going. They are based on false data. I tried to give a bit or real, practical viewpoint, but you can keep doing what you are doing and have the poverty rate be the same 50 years from now.

    it’s up to you.

  86. Cregan says:

    @Mary:

    Thanks for your note.

    1. I did say that corps should pay a flat rate, no deduction rate. So, we agree there.
    2. The discussion was limited to federal income tax. If they pay state taxes, they can logically say something about someone else paying such taxes.
    3. My point was, if you aren’t paying that tax yourself, you ought not to complain about those who are. Again, as also said, people have right to complain about anything. I mean, it’s like people who never exercise telling me what kind of exercise I should or shouldn’t do. When you do some exercise yourself, I’ll listen.

  87. noble_serf says:

    i would like to see a candidate who says, “I will raise taxes on all but the least of us so that we can all participate in building a strong country with meaningful jobs, decent health care and resaonable housing for everyone.”

    that’s the honest truth of what needs to be done, but no one will get elected on that platform.

    so we’ll keep pretending we can have nice things without paying for them

  88. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan:

    that is baloney. I said they don’t do anything until or unless someone gives them a job or tells them what to do–and I clarified as pertaining to economic issues, not that they sit around all day.

    And, it is a fact.

    You must know almost no one, and a bunch of really boring trolls.

    Because I don’t know anyone like that. Zero.

    Furthermore, I find it really chilling that the only “do” you consider worthwhile is “work at job.”

    Were you raised in a cage? Or by parents? Did they clean the house? Did they teach you manners? Feed you?

    Cause those “do” things are usually the most valuable ones. Along with a bunch more human “do” things: like pastoral/counseling work, art, community leadership (which is usually NOT a paid job).

    The people I know “do” those things because they are people. You may not know any people, I guess, because people do things. Whether or not they make $60,000 a year.

    And btw, only YOU were silly enough to suggest that taxes only equal federal taxes. You keep dismissing, for example, the taxes we pay to care for our seniors. The rest of us aren’t that silly.

    But then, the rest of us, I think, recognize that alot of these same seniors “do” things that are incredibly valuable for our society.

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