View Full Version : TAX THE RICH.

11-19-2012, 02:58 PM
November 19, 2012, 8:56 am112 Comments
The Europe-in-Rubble Excuse

Whenever I point out how well America did with strong unions and highly progressive taxation after World War II, I can count on conservatives trying to resolve their cognitive dissonance by saying “but it was easy then — all our competitors were in ruins!” You can see this all over the comments on today’s column.

Sorry, guys, but that’s bad history and very bad economics.

On the history: the great postwar boom wasn’t just a few years after the war; it was a whole generation long, from 1947 to 1973 — well into an era in which Europe had very much recovered. Here’s West German GDP per capita as a share of US GDP per capita:

The Europe-in-ruins era was long over while the US boom was still going strong.

But the bad history is incidental; the really key point is that this is nonsense economics. Yes, our competitors were in ruins for a while; so were our customers (who were more or less the same countries). Basically, we had nobody to trade with. Here’s exports and imports as a percentage of US GDP:

There’s a brief surge in exports in the late 1940s; that’s the Marshall Plan. But through the 50s and 60s America essentially did very little trade, exports or imports. If you think that’s good for the economy, you should be all for extreme protectionism.

Actually, there’s a substantial trade theory literature on the effect of other countries’ growth on our income and purchasing power, which says that it can go either way — more competition, but also bigger markets, with the net effect depending on how it affects our terms of trade, the ratio of export to import prices. There’s a slight presumption of positive effects from foreign growth, which becomes a much stronger presumption if the foreign economies start very small — which is exactly the situation after World War II. So the whole notion that we had it easy because Europe was destroyed is just ignorant.

And anyone who reflexively reaches for the idea that we were actually better off because Europe was in ruins as a way to explain the postwar economy should take a hard look in the mirror. Did you think this through? Or were you just grabbing for something, anything, to explain away a fact that your ideology says can’t have been true?

11-19-2012, 03:03 PM
November 18, 2012, 2:46 pm220 Comments
The Insecurity Election

So, looking at the most e-mailed list, I think we can safely conclude that Times readers are suffering from post-election burnout; all they seem to want to read about is food. Which is fine!

But I wanted to share some thoughts provoked by Ross Douthat’s column today, which makes a very good point — namely, that the winning Obama coalition did not for the most part consist of forward-looking, NPR-listening, culturally adventurous liberals; instead, the big numbers came from groups “unified by economic fear”. Indeed: single women, Hispanics, and, as always, African-Americans are for a stronger welfare state because people like them need the security such a welfare state can provide.

Where I would part ways with Ross is in his suggestions that (a) rising insecurity reflects “social disintegration” and that (b) turning to the welfare state is a dead end.

The truth is that while single women and members of minority groups are more insecure at any given point of time than married whites, insecurity is on the rise for everyone, driven by changes in the economy. Our industrial structure is probably less stable than it was — you can’t count on today’s big corporations to survive, let alone retain their dominance, over the course of a working lifetime. And the traditional accoutrements of a good job — a defined-benefit pension plan, a good health-care plan — have been going away across the board.

Every time you read someone extolling the dynamism of the modern economy, the virtues of risk-taking, declaring that everyone has to expect to have multiple jobs in his or her life and that you can never stop learning, etc,, etc., bear in mind that this is a portrait of an economy with no stability, no guarantees that hard work will provide a consistent living, and a constant possibility of being thrown aside simply because you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And nothing people can do in their personal lives or behavior can change this. Your church and your traditional marriage won’t guarantee the value of your 401(k), or make insurance affordable on the individual market.

So here’s the question: isn’t this exactly the kind of economy that should have a strong welfare state? Isn’t it much better to have guaranteed health care and a basic pension from Social Security rather than simply hanker for the corporate safety net that no longer exists? Might one not even argue that a bit of basic economic security would make our dynamic economy work better, by reducing the fear factor?

Now, none of this will bring back traditional mores — but that’s really a different issue. In Sweden, more than half of children are born out of wedlock — but they don’t seem to suffer much as a result, perhaps because the welfare state is so strong. Maybe we’ll go that way too. So?

Anyway, Ross is quite right to point out that the Obama coalition is in large part a response to fear instead of, or as well as, hope. But that’s OK.

11-19-2012, 03:06 PM
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal.
Related in Opinion Times Topic: Economy

Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing “lower tax rates” as a “guiding principle.”

Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders.

Squeezed between high taxes and empowered workers, executives were relatively impoverished by the standards of either earlier or later generations. In 1955 Fortune magazine published an essay, “How top executives live,” which emphasized how modest their lifestyles had become compared with days of yore. The vast mansions, armies of servants, and huge yachts of the 1920s were no more; by 1955 the typical executive, Fortune claimed, lived in a smallish suburban house, relied on part-time help and skippered his own relatively small boat.

The data confirm Fortune’s impressions. Between the 1920s and the 1950s real incomes for the richest Americans fell sharply, not just compared with the middle class but in absolute terms. According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in 1955 the real incomes of the top 0.01 percent of Americans were less than half what they had been in the late 1920s, and their share of total income was down by three-quarters.

Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants and yachts are back, bigger than ever — and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats’ style is met with cries of “socialism.” Indeed, the whole Romney campaign was based on the premise that President Obama’s threat to modestly raise taxes on top incomes, plus his temerity in suggesting that some bankers had behaved badly, were crippling the economy. Surely, then, the far less plutocrat-friendly environment of the 1950s must have been an economic disaster, right?

Actually, some people thought so at the time. Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in “Atlas Shrugged,” published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower’s America.

Strange to say, however, the oppressed executives Fortune portrayed in 1955 didn’t go Galt and deprive the nation of their talents. On the contrary, if Fortune is to be believed, they were working harder than ever. And the high-tax, strong-union decades after World War II were in fact marked by spectacular, widely shared economic growth: nothing before or since has matched the doubling of median family income between 1947 and 1973.

Which brings us back to the nostalgia thing.

There are, let’s face it, some people in our political life who pine for the days when minorities and women knew their place, gays stayed firmly in the closet and congressmen asked, “Are you now or have you ever been?” The rest of us, however, are very glad those days are gone. We are, morally, a much better nation than we were. Oh, and the food has improved a lot, too.

Along the way, however, we’ve forgotten something important — namely, that economic justice and economic growth aren’t incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.

11-20-2012, 01:26 AM
November 19, 2012, 6:48 pm9
A Public Service Reminder: Paul Ryan is a Con Man

So now that the Unperson/Ryan ticket has lost, Republicans are clearly expecting Paul Ryan to move right back into his previous role as Washington’s favorite Serious, Honest Conservative.

He might get away with it; but I hope not.

The fact is that Ryan is and always was a fraud. His plan never added up; it was never, contrary to what people who should know better asserted, “scored” by the CBO. What he actually offered was a plan to hurt the poor and reward the rich, actually increasing the deficit along the way, plus magic asterisks that supposedly reduced the debt by means unspecified.

His genius, if you can all it that, was in realizing that there was a role — as I said, that of Honest, Serious Conservative — that self-proclaimed centrists desperately wanted to see filled, so that they could demonstrate their bipartisanship by lavishing praise on the holder of that position. So Ryan did his best to impersonate a budget wonk. It wasn’t a very good impersonation — in fact, he’s pretty bad at budget math. But the “centrists” saw what they wanted to see.

Ryan can’t be ignored, since his party does retain blocking power, and he chairs an important committee. But if he must be dealt with, it should be with no illusions. Fool me once …

11-20-2012, 03:59 PM
No, as the song instruction goes: EAT the rich!

11-20-2012, 04:12 PM
"Eat The Rich"

Well I woke up this morning
On the wrong side of the bed
And how I got to thinkin'
About all those things you said
About ordinary people
And how they make you sick
And if callin' names kicks back on you
Then I hope this does the trick

'Cause I'm a sick of your complainin'
About how many bills
And I'm sick of all your bitchin'
Bout your poodles and your pills
And I just can't see no humour
About your way of life
And I think I can do more for you
With this here fork and knife

Eat the Rich: there's only one thing they're good for
Eat the Rich: take one bite now - come back for more
Eat the Rich: I gotta get this off my chest
Eat the Rich: take one bite now, spit out the rest

So I called up my head shrinker
And I told him what I'd done
Said you'd best go on a diet
Yeah I hope you have some fun
And a don't go burst a bubble
On the rich folks who get rude
'Cause you won't get in no trouble
When you eats that kinda food
Now their smokin' up the junk bonds
And then they go get stiff
And they're dancin' in the yacht club
With Muff and Uncle Biff
But there's one good thing that happens
When you toss your pearls to swine
Their attitudes may taste like shit
But go real good with wine

Wake up kid, it's half past your youth
Ain't nothin' really changes but the date
You a grand slammer, but you no Babe Ruth
You gotta learn how to relate
Or you'll be swingin' from the pearly gate
Now you got all the answers, low and behold
You got the right key baby but the wrong key ho, yo

Believe in all the good things
That money just can't buy
Then you won't get no belly ache
From eatin' humble pie
I believe in rags to riches
Your inheritence won't last
So take your Grey Poupon my friend
And shove it up your ass!

Eat the Rich: there's only one thing they're good for
Eat the Rich: take one bite now - come back for more
Eat the Rich: don't stop me now I'm goin' crazy
Eat the Rich: that's my idea of a good time baby

11-20-2012, 04:19 PM
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778) was a Franco-Swiss philosopher of Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism.

When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.

Attributed to Rousseau as being from a "Speech at the commune on the 14th of October" in The history of the French revolution. By M. A. Thiers. Translated, with notes and illustrations from the most authentic sources, by Frederick Shoberl., Thiers, Adolphe, 1797-1877., page 359 [2]

11-20-2012, 04:21 PM
Grey Poupon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grey Poupon mustard jar
Grey Poupon is a brand of Dijon mustard which originated in Dijon, France but today is sold primarily in the United States.[1] The U.S. rights to the brand were acquired by the Heublein Company, later passing on to Kraft Foods. Grey Poupon became popular there in the late 1970s and 1980s as American tastes broadened from conventional American yellow mustards.

Like other Dijon mustards, Grey Poupon contains a small amount of white wine. It is made with brown mustard seed grown in Canada and wine from upstate New York produced under the supervision of a rabbi to ensure the product is kosher.

11-20-2012, 04:23 PM
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Look up ass in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Ass may refer to:
Asinus, a subgenus of Equus that includes the donkey and other asses Donkey, Equus africanus asinus By extension, an insult meaning idiot

North American English informal term for buttocks
áss, one of the Æsir in Norse mythology
Ass (album), by Badfinger
In abstract algebra, Ass(M) denotes the collection of all associated primes of a module M
AsS, the basic chemical formula for arsenic sulfide

ASS may stand for:
ASS (car), a French car made from 1919 to 1920
ASS (gene), a human gene that encodes for the enzyme argininosuccinate synthetase
Acta Sanctae Sedis, a former Roman monthly publication and gazette of the Holy See
Advanced SubStation Alpha, a subtitles editor in computing
Advisory Service for Squatters, a non-profit group based in London, UK
Agents of Secret Stuff, a 2010 action comedy film
American Sociological Society, the founding name for the American Sociological Association
Angle-Side-Side, an ambiguous proof in mathematics: see Congruence (geometry) - Congruence of triangles
All-Star Superman, a comic book

See also
Arse (disambiguation), British English equivalent in some senses
AS (disambiguation)
As (Roman coin), plural form asses
Assessment (disambiguation)
Asshole (disambiguation)
Asse (disambiguation)
Asso, a town and commune in Lombardy, Italy
Jackass (disambiguation)
Wild ass (disambiguation)

11-20-2012, 04:25 PM

American Sociological Society, the founding name for the American Sociological Association


Gayle in MD
12-07-2012, 12:31 PM
If our country doesn't begin to face the unfortunate influence of the powerful Israeli Lobby in this country, we will be doomed.


12-08-2012, 12:00 AM
Why not tax the poor?

They disproportionately use gubmint services ... why shouldn't they pay their air share?

12-08-2012, 01:00 PM
Why not tax the poor?

They disproportionately use gubmint services ... why shouldn't they pay their air share?

Air share? Pie in the sky, you mean? Air rights? FAIR share? All right, fair share then.

They ARE TAXED NOW, paying sales tax on purchases, federal excise taxes on some purchases, paying real estate taxes passed through to their rent charges, and according to your prior statements, actually paying for the taxes companies and incorporated at some level individual businesses are charged, through paying higher retail costs including those passed through taxes.

So, you mean, MORE taxation on the least well off? Before we consider more taxation on those most well off (which by your lights would increase the poor's taxes anyway)? Or afterwards?

12-08-2012, 09:48 PM
Sorry that pointing out the absurdity of the dembot position with absurdity went over your head. Again.

BTW ... why do you think the wealthy generally support higher income tax rates?

12-09-2012, 10:12 AM
Sorry that pointing out the absurdity of the dembot position with absurdity went over your head. Again.

BTW ... why do you think the wealthy generally support higher income tax rates?

I doubt that they do, in general, although that proposal carries very high, supermajority approval among the people as a whole, and most subgroups, including among Republicans themselves overall. I think it probably polls below a majority for households above a certain threshold of income.

I suppose you are driving at the alleged views on this of the very tippy topmost wealth/income group, the 1% of the 1% or higher, who long ago made the trusts and other financial structures that allow them to mainly escape the reach of INCOME TAX altogether. Since it allegedly doesn't apply to them at all, they are allegedly fine with hammering all the pseudo-rich parvenues who rely on earned income, to hold them down and prevent their rivaling the older, big money guys.

Not sure this is true either. Other than supposition, what evidence is there for your question's claim?