"Blacks are not likely to number themselves among the forty-six million Americans today who can trace the origins of their family wealth to the Homestead Act of 1863, because almost all of that land was allocated to whites through restrictions expressly designed to deny access to blacks.’ They cannot include themselves among the major beneficiaries of the trillions of dollars of wealth accumulated through the appreciation of housing assets secured by federally insured loans between 1932 and 1962 because 98 percent of FHA loans made during that era went to whites via the openly racist categories utilized in the agency’s official manuals for appraisers.’ Most blacks know that past discrimination continues to influence contemporary struggles to accumulate assets because wealth is inherited and passed down across generations.
In recent years, moreover, changes in the tax code have further skewed opportunities and life chances along racial lines by giving favored treatment to those forms of income most likely to represent the fruits of past and present discrimination like inheritance income and capital gains, while lessening the value of income gained through work. The living legacy of past discrimination combines with the impact of contemporary discriminatory practices in mortgage lending, real estate sales, automobile credit financing, and employment to impose artificial impediments against asset accumulation among African Americans."
George Lipsitz (via wretchedoftheearth)
For all those white people who like to think that their ancestors bootstrapped themselves out of poverty without any reliance on government assistance.(via downlo)
"It’s like Robin Hood in reverse—it’s Romney-hood."
The math is the math. You can’t lower current (tax) rates and raise revenue unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else. Now, either it’s coming from middle-class families, or poor families, or it’s coming from folks like you and me that can afford to pay a little more.
…You can’t get away from the basic concept that either we have a system in which the people who have benefited the most from this new economy by a magnitude of 200, 300 percent increases in their income — either they’re doing a little bit more, or they’re not.
I think they should. And this is not because I’m interested in punishing the rich. I want everybody to be rich! That’s great! It has to do with the fact that the less I’m asking you or me to do, the more I’m asking somebody who’s in a much tougher position to sacrifice."
This whole thing, summarized so simply and yet the conservative element in these United States continues to pretend not to understand the sheer, sympathetic logic of it all.
Here’s Matt Labash and the Weekly Standard trying to mislead you about taxation and the income distribution:
“You’re either part of “us,” the “99 percent” (as all the surrounding signage identifies us), or you’re part of “them” — the rapacious 1 percent, who are purportedly strangling our nation by holding roughly one-third of its wealth, even if they also pay 38 percent of all federal income taxes while the bottom 47 percent of the population pay nothing (a Revolution is no place for facts and figures).”
You might as well say that the 20 percent of Americans who smoke cigarettes regularly pay 95 percent of federal tobacco excise taxes while 70 percent of the population pays nothing. Does 70 percent of the population really pay nothing to maintain public services? Of course not. They pay income taxes and payroll taxes and property taxes and sales taxes and alcohol taxes and all the rest.
…[T]hrough sleight of hand, you can convince many more than 53 percent of the people that they are part of the put-upon “53 percent” forced to bear the burden of a nation of slackers. It’s clever. But don’t fall for it, and don’t let your friends and family fall for it either.
"Oddly, one never hears Republicans praise those countries where people are lucky duckies — those where taxation is a small fraction of what it is here."
I’d Rather Be an Unlucky Ducky
Equatorial Guinea: According to the Republican-leaning Heritage Foundation, those who live in this small country in sub-Saharan Africa are lucky duckies indeed. Because of recently discovered oil deposits, the citizens of Equatorial Guinea pay less than 1 percent of the gross domestic product in taxes. The comparable figure for the United States is 26.9 percent of G.D.P., according to Heritage.
However, Equatorial Guinea doesn’t seem to be a very pleasant place to live. The people are poor and have little freedom. Heritage says that “persistent institutional weaknesses impede creation of a more vibrant private sector” and “the rule of law is weak.” This sounds suspiciously as if government is too small to do its job properly. But I’m sure that the citizens of Equatorial Guinea don’t mind having a dysfunctional government; after all, they’re lucky duckies.
Myanmar: The people who live in this small country in Southeast Asia are also lucky duckies, if not quite as lucky as those in Equatorial Guinea. According to Heritage, taxes in Myanmar are 3 percent of G.D.P.
Oddly, this also doesn’t sound like someplace one would want to live. Heritage says “longstanding structural problems include poor public finance management and undeveloped legal and regulatory frameworks.” Apparently, the government doesn’t protect property rights very well, the infrastructure is poor, and there is a lot of corruption. But at least the people get to keep almost all their earnings.
Libya: Why the people revolted in this North African fiscal paradise is a mystery. According to Heritage, government revenues are just 3.4 percent of G.D.P.
Chad: Heritage says the people of this African nation pay just 5.3 percent of G.D.P. in taxes. But for some reason, the nation is mired in poverty. Perhaps because, as Heritage says, “the efficiency and quality of government remain poor.” I wonder why.
Republic of Congo: The people of this country in Africa also pay 5.3 percent of G.D.P. to the government. But it is also very poor. Heritage says a key reason is “the government has failed to provide basic public goods and infrastructure.” This doesn’t really make much sense by the logic of Republican candidates, who seem to agree that all government spending is bad unless it goes to the Defense Department and that public works are nothing but worthless pork.
This, to me, is pretty much a direct refutation of the Anarcho-Capitalist school of Libertarianism. According to the popular wisdom of that school, minimal regulation and taxation should be causing these countries to thrive. And yet their standard of living compared to 1st-world countries with strong central governments is abysmal.
With that being said: you could very reasonably make the argument that the minimal governments of these countries are nonetheless oppressive and larcenous, so what little wealth is accumulated in the market tends to be appropriated by the elites. But the question then becomes *how* that wealth is being appropriated; is it through official channels? Then it would show up as taxation. Is it through thuggery? Then how could the problem be solved without reverting to Somalia-style balkanization (which is better only when compared to the more awful government preceding it)?
The question, then, is one of form: without a strong Constitution to limit government power, and an intellectually vibrant, Independent Judiciary to keep government in check, there is no way for the rights of citizens to be guaranteed as against their unscrupulous peers, and as against the government itself.
All of these mechanisms, of course, cost money. A minimalist State can be just as dangerous to Liberty and freedom as an oppressive one. Norway, whose government accounts for 40% of its GDP, nonetheless has a very libertine criminal justice system. There can be no question that people in Norway are more free than even people in the U.S. (who live under the Patriot Act, the War on Drugs, and the Military Commissions Act). Yet the U.S. government accounts for closer to 20% of GDP.
Does that mean government spending as a % of GDP is dispositive with respect to freedom? Of course not. Form matters. But if you aren’t bringing in enough tax revenue to support the “right” form, then Bartlett’s observation is right: you end up with a government too weak to provide a mechanism for enforcing the rights of its own citizens (i.e. an independent and well-funded judiciary paired with an enumerated Constitution).(via letterstomycountry)
Whatever you do: don’t hurt the job creators!
In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning - New York Times
By BEN STEIN
Published: November 26, 2006
NOT long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of many things that, I hope, will inspire me for years to come. But one of the main subjects was taxes. Mr. Buffett, who probably does not feel sick when he sees his MasterCard bill in his mailbox the way I do, is at least as exercised about the tax system as I am.
Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.
Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.
“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
This conversation keeps coming back to mind because, in the last couple of weeks, I have been on one television panel after another, talking about how questionable it is that the country is enjoying what economists call full employment while we are still running a federal budget deficit of roughly $434 billion for fiscal 2006 (not counting off-budget items like Social Security) and economists forecast that it will grow to $567 billion in fiscal 2010.
When I mentioned on these panels that we should consider all options for closing this gap — including raising taxes, particularly for the wealthiest people — I was met with several arguments by people who call themselves conservatives and free marketers.
"Now, it would be nice if we could keep every tax break, but we can’t afford them…Because if we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or for hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners, or for oil and gas companies pulling in huge profits without our help—then we’ll have to make even deeper cuts somewhere else…We’ve got to say to a student, ‘You don’t get a college scholarship.’ We have to say to a medical researcher, ‘You can’t do that cancer research.’ We might have to tell seniors, ‘You have to pay more for Medicare…That isn’t right, and it isn’t smart. We’ve got to cut the deficit, but we can do that while making investments in education, research and technology that actually create jobs."