Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 8,031 comments

Surgeons

After the unending media coverage of the fiscal cliff, it was a relief to everyone when a last-minute compromise was reached. In particular, the most reported-on compromise had to do with the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. Those cuts will remain in place permanently for any individual making less than $400,000 per year, and for couples earning less than $450,000. Those fortunate few who make more than that amount will see their rates rise from 35% to 39.6%.

The news about this particular tax rate increase got me wondering: what professions can expect to earn that kind of money? Since I don’t personally know anyone bringing home $400,000 per year, I decided to find out what kind of jobs command such high salaries:

1. The President

Perhaps the most famous $400,000 per year job is the leader of the free world. The office of president not only pays a $400,000 annual salary, but also provides the president with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and a $19,000 entertainment account.

There are some obvious downsides to this particular career, however. Besides being very difficult to get, the job is highly stressful, and advancement post-office can be considered somewhat iffy. And, of course, you can’t expect regular raises: the last salary increase for the commander-in-chief (from $200,000 to the current rate) was in 2001. Prior to that, the previous raise (from $100,000) occurred in 1969.

2. Surgeons and specialists

Even a local general practitioner can expect to pull in over $100,000 per year, but the real money in medicine is reserved for those who specialize. Anesthesiologists, heart surgeons, and brain surgeons can all expect to make up to $400,000 per year at the height of their career. Plastic surgeons can make up to twice that amount.

3. CEOs

The median salary of a Chief Executive Officer is over $700,000. These directors are in charge of both short- and long-term profitability for their companies. CEOs generally have to know the industry backwards and forwards (although there are certainly plenty of counter-examples), and need to have worked their way up over many years.

4. Wall Street Bankers and Lawyers

If you work in either finance or finance law, the place to go for fat paychecks is Wall Street. According to an October 2012 report, “the average salary of financial industry employees in New York City rose to $362,950 in 2011.” While that still falls short of the mark required for the higher tax bracket, it’s important to remember that this figure represents the average (meaning some people are making more) and that there have almost certainly been raises in the past year and a half.

The Top Percent of the Top Percent

These high-income earners are really rare. Consider the fact that most articles listing the highest paying jobs in America don’t even include any professions with median salaries of $400,000. Those individuals making $400,000 per year are in the top one percent of the top one percent — and often, they’re also public figures.

Thankfully, even though individuals in this bracket are few and far between, the government estimates that raising the tax rate on this small group will raise about $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade.

Not bad for a group that small.

What other professions that earn annual incomes of $400,000? 

how to earn a high salary

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  • Stevendad says:

    Current California state and local debt equals $390 billion

  • Stevendad says:

    Health op ed, first two paragraphs:

    It is difficult to avoid hearing health care insurance discussions everywhere in the media and impossible (without paying a penalty) to avoid paying increased health insurance premiums. I’d like to give some perspectives from my experience over the past 35 years in the business. I am a practicing internal medicine physician for nearly 30 years and have worked in all the major practice models: government (as a resident for almost 3 years), HMO group (12 years), private practice (13 years) and hospital employed (4+ years). It is my observation that health insurance coverage issues are far and away not the biggest problem with our health care system from my perspective where the rubber hits the road.
    So let’s start with the good stuff. We have the best health care in the history of humans the United States IF you can afford it. This is the tip of the spear if money is no object. That’s why those to whom the costs are relatively small (even in the millions) come from around the world to here for care. About 65-70% of us have largely the same care, though Medicare is eroding in terms of access (Medicaid already largely has). About 18% are on access limited Medicaid and 13% uninsured (Kaiser Foundation 2013). I have used the metaphor of cars: 2/3rds driving Cadillacs, 1/6 driving Chevrolets and 1/6th hitchhiking. Most new discoveries are made in the US by our drug and device companies or by foreign companies financed by high US drug and device charges. Our doctors and nurses are recognized as equal to any in the world. Their training is accepted largely around the world.

  • Stevendad says:

    Interesting study from NIH. Insurance status does NOT affect mortality in a statistical analysis:
    Health Insurance Coverage and Mortality Revisited
    Richard Kronick

    Additional article information

    Abstract
    Objective
    To improve understanding of the relationship between lack of insurance and risk of subsequent mortality.

    Data Sources
    Adults who reported being uninsured or privately insured in the National Health Interview Survey from 1986 to 2000 were followed prospectively for mortality from initial interview through 2002. Baseline information was obtained on 672,526 respondents, age 18–64 at the time of the interview. Follow-up information on vital status was obtained for 643,001 (96 percent) of these respondents, with approximately 5.4 million person-years of follow-up.

    Study Design
    Relationships between insurance status and subsequent mortality are examined using Cox proportional hazard survival analysis.

    Principal Findings
    Adjusted for demographic, health status, and health behavior characteristics, the risk of subsequent mortality is no different for uninsured respondents than for those covered by employer-sponsored group insurance at baseline (hazard ratio 1.03, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.95–1.12). Omitting health status as a control variable increases the estimated hazard ratio to 1.10 (95 percent CI, 1.03–1.19). Also omitting smoking status and body mass index increases the hazard ratio to 1.20 (95 percent CI, 1.15–1.24). The estimated association between lack of insurance and mortality is not larger among disadvantaged subgroups; when the analysis is restricted to amenable causes of death; when the follow-up period is shortened (to increase the likelihood of comparing the continuously insured and continuously uninsured); and does not change after people turn 65 and gain Medicare coverage.

    • Stevendad says:

      Blows a hole in your “lack of insurance leads to death” argument, doesn’t it SH? They specifically refute the IOM excessive death study you quoted. Clearly a trend I’ll admit… but in a strict statistical sense, no. And this is from the govt you love and believe in so much.

  • Stevendad says:

    A little Millennial input couldn’t hurt.

  • Stevendad says:

    OK RD, time for a comment….

  • Stevendad says:

    I realize 10% of $2.5 T is an optimistic projection, but sales taxes are easy to collect as you are dealing with larger (businesses) entities who mostly have zero incentive to cheat. Just like income taxes are based on businesses withholding and people getting back. The rebates are simple to taxpayers. Just build in an assumed income percentage spent to tax tables. No cost there. No, won’t be fair to every taxpayer, but t paying zero is much less fair. I’m always interested on your sympathy or law breakers. Again, suppose everyone just stopped paying taxes? Ok with you?

  • Stevendad says:

    Re/ VAT. $250 billion is a lot to me…

    • Stevendad says:

      1/3 of our deficit is piddling?

      • Peter says:

        Could raise about $75 billion just taxing churches. About time we did that. To quote Steven H – let’s take the money from those who have the most, who can most afford it. The Catholic church is at the top of that list.

        • Stevendad says:

          Haven’t thought about churches too much, but not sure why Harvard needs a tax free $35B endowment. Several others have very large endowmenta as well. Maybe we should wealth tax these unless returns dedicated to students.

        • Peter says:

          Another good point. Much better than going after people making $100k-$500k – many of which are small business owners and put a lot of money back into our economy. They just started taxing churches in Montreal….hope this becomes a trend. The right will resist this like crazy….. and the left will probably resist it if we tax mosques too. 🙂

  • Stevendad says:

    SH. Way back you mentioned the Verrazano Narrows bridge. Really a cool video I agree. It demonstrates harmonic oscillation with phased reinforcement if memory from 1978 serves. Consider it as an analogy to our government. Nixon /Ford modestly (at most) Conservative, Carter modestly Liberal (in totality, never would have considered gay marriage for example), Reagan/ Bush I quite Conservative, Clinton modestly Liberal, Bush modestly Conservative, Obama quite Liberal, Trump remains to be seen, but seems all over the place when economics and morals are both considered. Will this “harmonic oscillation” bring down our bridge (nation)? Again, another argument (as previously stated) for more local and state control where the back and forth is much less.

    • Steven H says:

      I’ll be interested to see the result of Supreme Court saying in on partisan gerrymandering. That is a big contributor to divisive politics today. It would be great to see that tamped down. Maybe have districts drawn by truly non-partisan committees following established rules that make it difficult to assess advantage by politics.

      • Stevendad says:

        Maybe they should get a computer and draw the maps randomly

        • Steven H says:

          I thought of that, too. Im sure an engineer/ programmer could come up with an arbitrary adjacent grid square solution that would be apolitical.

          • Peter says:

            The gerrymandering in North Carolina is astounding…..they have one district that in some places is only as wide as the interstate.

  • Steven H says:

    I dont need to counter Brookings study by the, nor do I intend to. They proved that the specific tax and education experiments they performed had little impact, by themselves, on high income disparity. That does not, by the way, generally prove that ALL tax or education experiments have no impact, but it does encourage us all to go beyond our previously proposed solutions emphasizing moderate tax increases or increased education and training. The primary point I noticed is that it indicated education had little impact because it influenced oncomes way down the scale, when most disparity is due to incomes at the top of the scale. This suggests to me that, if we truly believe disparityis aproblem we need to address, we need to impact those top incomes as will as have a broader impact on middle incomes. The floor is open for some proposals. And it has to be more than claiming we have enough ladders already.

    • Stevendad says:

      To solve debt and income inequality: We need to address the way so much is paid in financial instruments vs cash. Income inequality lives mostly in these (vs cash) from what I’ve seen. Wealth tax I mentioned before helps, and AMT addresses as well to some extent. Of course, that’s how I got here…. As I understand, unrealized options ARE taxed by AMT. At 28% (from dollar one, so higher than the regular system at lower levels). So…. maybe we should raise AMT at higher levels to capture this form of payment. But the rich is really NOT the problem. It’s bringing up middle class. Of course if we really paid down the debt by controlling some spending we could give them a raise by taking less in income taxes…. And lend them money when banks can’t just sock away TBills without risk or much research. So start with getting the poor working (maybe increasing pay by somehow decreasing low skilled worker competition) and get Walmart et al to pay back wage subsidies. Stop paying for 3rd / 5th and 11th world economies defense. Pass some tort reform and loosen a few health care regs. Raise efficiency in govt by incentivizing it vs present disincentives. Start asking for accountability from education, prioritizing kids over unions. Start paying down debt with a VAT to capture underground income. All of that sounds familiar. Gee SH, I think our goals are aligned. I just don’t see giving more money to the people that have screwed if up as an answer. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me…

      • Steven H says:

        I agree about financial instruments. AMT idea is also useful but it should have been inflation adjusted to address only the very wealthy, and highest incomes. It also seems like a very klugey implementation. Adjustments to tax brackets, exemptions, and capital gains might have been simpler.
        ===
        Tax cuts to middle class wont get us far. Middle quintile already pays very little federal income tax. Nothing beats getting a solid living wage. There is no reason we cant at least pay a 1968 minimum wage ( about $11 dollars/hr in todays money). Since 30% of all hourly wage workers earn less than $10.10, such a boost would be a big help AND a sort of tax on wealthy corporations. I know your concerns on small towns, but such changes get phased in and more than half of states already have minimums higher than federal level, with 6 states over $10/hr. VAT taxes are regressive and are not generally considered to help move money away from rich. You will just hurt those walmart workers. I can agree about incentivizing more efficiency in govt and cutting testing in schools though. If we focus on moving more money to the middle class and younger generation, not through tax cuts but through education and earned wages, and bill the costs to the financial instruments and investors, we could do must better.

        • Stevendad says:

          Again, VAT tax rebates so those who are in the system pay nothing different on balance. So NOT regressive to anyone who follows the law. It’s aim is to pay down debt, not punish the rich.
          Still feel local is better for min wage. &15 / hr is dirt in NYC and a princely wage in small town OK. Feds can’t get the precision needed. AMT captures unrealized gains that aren’t taxed at all.
          I’m curious how you plan to make companies pay more wage to middle class.
          You ignored that there would be much increased business lending if govt wasn’t competing for loans so much. Small business is the real engine of the middle class.

          • Steven H says:

            Don’t the VAT/refund and low-wage/food-stamp/fine-reimbursement plans seem to you to be more complicated than necessary? And what does the VAT/refund scheme really accomplish. I know, it’s supposed to capture lost revenue of people not in the system. But are those the people really worth going after? I’m thinking of the “sitters” that people hire at the retirement for $12/hr off-the-books, to look after grandma. That helps grandma and the family and the low income worker. Sure it’s off the books and lost revenue to govt. But is it really worth setting up a new tax and refunding most of it just to make these people’s lives a little more miserable, and get a piddling amount of income to govt for huge administration cost?

  • Steven H says:

    With regard to looking back at pre and ost ww2, the lesson I see is that
    a) it is possible to have a vastly different income distribution than now, with more generous share of income to middle class and a successful economy.
    b) income shares can grow across income groups with the economy.
    c) high income disparity is correlated to slow income growth and economic instabilit
    D) low marginal tax rates on high incomes are correlated with low govt revenue and high deficits

    Lessons from states can be learned but you have to compensate for competition between states. Low business tax rates may grow state economy or may just be raiding businesses from other states (cycle of race to the bottom). Policies may work or fail in a,given state due to health of a specific industry and may not apply to other states. You just have to be careful and not over generalize conclusions.

  • Peter says:

    Let’s look closer at California. Sure it is a state, but it would be the 6th largest economy in the world were it a sovereign nation. They have one of the highest levels of low-wage job creation in the country. They have the third highest minimum wage in the country. They have tremendous job opportunities with Silicon Valley and countless other industries that attract people there. They also tax the wealthy very heavily and have the highest top tax rate in the nation. In fact, they have been increasing taxes dramatically since 2001, particularly on the wealthy.

    What has the result been? Oddly, even with the much higher revenue from personal income taxes (which make up 50% of their budget), they have severe fiscal problems. Revenues were $54b in 1997-98, and are now $124b. But you know what happened? Spending went right up with revenues. This is how government operates. Give them more money, they spend it immediately.

    Yet California has a crippling $400B debt. They have net migration (although I think some of that may be due to baby boomers retiring in cheaper states). They rank in the bottom quintile of all the states in financial well being. Illinois and Connecticut are in the bottom 5, and Massachusetts – which has similar policies – ranks in the bottom 5 as well.

    They have one of the most generous retiree health care plans in the nation for their own employees, which covers 100% of their care for life. Yet, there is no trust fund for this – it comes out of the annual budget of the state. And as costs rise, it constricts spending on other things or increases debt. They further increase debt by issuing bonds for everything and anything – and putting these things out to a public vote. Who in the public wouldn’t vote for a bond to be issued to fix their local park? But all this debt is mounting.

    The next time a recession hits, how will California pay the interest on these bonds, their state pensions and health benefits, and maintain infrastructure in the state? In the past, borrowing was used to get us through tough times (see war bonds as an example). Now, we use the debt lever too readily in good times, so we have no leeway when things are hard. And California doesn’t have the option of printing money and reducing the value of currency.

    Steven H will argue that we must continue to raise taxes to pay for the bills we have already incurred. I argue that we need to reform and renegotiate these bills we already have. They are unsustainable as they are currently promised (both on a Fed and state level) and taxation will not solve the problem (see: California, Brookings article, countless other states, world history, etc.) – and may even exacerbate it by causing economic slowdowns or migration.

    • Steven H says:

      “Steven H will argue …”
      Heck, no reason for me to post anything anymore. Just let telepathic Peter incorrectly claim to know what I will post.

      • Peter says:

        Don’t think I’m reading minds. You have said that 100 times. Again, please do correct me if I am wrong.

        • Peter says:

          Should have said “argues” rather than “will argue”. But that isn’t really the point of my post is it. Why don’t you address that instead.

    • Steven H says:

      I think we can all agree that any economic policy can be planned or executed badly. You can favor cutting taxes or raising taxes or raising or lowering minimum wage or cutting or increasing govt spending, and at any given time or for any given circumstance, some combination of those may be good things to do. But it is pretty well guaranteed that if you go beyond certain bounds in either direction, you will break something and make the situation worse.
      ===
      For this reason, I am skeptical about “learning lessons” from cherry picked economic situations, or at least I am concerned that lessons can be interpreted too broadly. If California is in trouble because they set generous retirement plans with no set aside fund, that is perhaps a lesson learned. But it does not mean that all govt pensions are bad. If another state is in trouble due to overly generous union contracts, same thing. Bad financial planning is bad, but it does not condemn all unions. Even for my example of Kansas failed tax cut policy, it does not prove all tax cuts are bad, but that their implementation was poorly thought out.
      ===
      So we can spend a lot of time discussing tbese state economies and we may learn something. But if the direction we are heading is to try to prove something about tax cuts vs tax increases, I think it is an empty exercise. What I expect we will see is that blind subscription to any ideology without planning and a little foresight will do your efforts.
      ===
      Sound reasonable?

    • Stevendad says:

      Peter reCA debt: consider the catastrophe of normalization of interest rates. We are almost 3% below the 100 year average for 10 yrs e.g. So go to normal and multiply $400 billion times 3% = $12 B per year, about 8% of total budget more just in interest. And a late 70’s-like double digit spike, you’re talking collapse.

      • Steven H says:

        Doesn’t California have to have balanced budget?

        • Peter says:

          I am not sure….but they don’t have to spend every increase in revenue. With the $400b debt they hold, they really should be servicing it a bit don’t you think?

          • Steven H says:

            Kind of like Congressional Obamacare Repealers, right? They are trying to raid Medicaid and cut the ACA taxes, but are they going to use that revenue to pay off debt? No! Are they going to use it to help the needy? No! Are they going to give that revenue away to the rich, who have the very least need or use of that extra income? Yes!

          • Peter says:

            Hardly that simple. You could say “they are going to use the savings to build tanks” or “they are going to use the savings to help education”. The bottom line is – neither side is going to seriously just BANK savings or pay down debt.

  • Peter says:

    Let me try and focus this in for Steven H. Two questions…..

    1. In regards to raising taxes on the wealthy, why is it important that we look back to the post-WW2 era as a “model”, but we ignore the lessons learned by the states in the past few decades?

    2. And most importantly, please counter the Brookings study, which mathematically breaks down the total lack of impact of raising taxes on the wealthy to solve income inequality.

    The reason why I said that you use your political partisan BS to counter everything … well, is because you do. If that Brookings study had come from a right-wing think tank you would dismiss it immediately. Yet you post Piketty’s writings as “academia” and use the Center for Tax Justice as a reliable source of information. But since it was from Brookings, whom you called centrist about 2 hours before I posted the link, you can’t just dismiss it with politics. You actually have to read it, digest it, and try and imagine that you might be wrong. This is what you are unable to do, due to your politics.

    I have my opinions as well, but have been very open minded here to many things – some of which you have presented. I’m fascinated by the puzzle that is the US (and world) economy. It’s my life’s passion and I’m always interested in different takes on how we might massage or improve it for more people. I’m not interested at all in politics though. If that could stay out of this conversation, I would probably be a lot less annoyed and amicable (haha).

    • Peter says:

      And let me add a third major point.

      3. Do you not agree that the very nature of government is inefficient? Why would we not focus on major reform of this system rather than simply feeding them more money? How can argue that raising tax rates on a handful of people should be a higher priority than fixing the system itself?

      • Steven H says:

        What would “major reform of this system” look like?

        • Peter says:

          A few ideas off the top of my head…
          1. Campaign finance reform
          2. Opening up the debates to third party candidates
          3. Balanced budget amendment (or at least close to it)
          4. Social security reform – phasing retirement age to late 60’s or 70.
          5. More limits on executive orders by the President.
          6. Tighter rules on lobbyists

          • Steven H says:

            I can agree with some. Esp 1, 2, and 6.
            On others, I have some questions. On number 3, I was thinking you actually opposed balanced budget law when i suggested one. And there are complications. How would you handle recessions? Some proposed balanced budget amendments are actually spending caps, eg 18% gdp. Some put the onus on cutting spending to match income. Some would increase taxes to cover legislative spending. How would you do it?
            #4 saves the govt money, but what is a worker to do when companies or health concerns (more common w construction and other working class) compel retirement at 65 but ss starts at 70? Also working class die earlier than white caller. Is this just another bad deal for working class?
            5. I dont see the need. Its pretty limited already. Signing statements might need more restriction though. Those are the caveats prez puts on legislation when he signs.

          • Steven H says:

            white collar, not white caller …

          • Stevendad says:

            Hmmmm…
            1. Yes
            2. Hell yes
            3. Or moving up tax rates when we don’t balance as I’ve said
            4. Or taxing benefits more and income capping benefits. I hate the concept, but we’re screwed if we do not do something drastic.
            5. Very much yes,!! Some court should review all with a quick bump to SCOTUS. Exec orders have become rule by fiat = monarch / dictator.
            6. Yes.
            And of course (for me) VAT / wealth tax / pass through tax for govt benefits/ efficiency incentives for govt.

          • Stevendad says:

            Here’s SH’s
            1. More taxes on 1%
            2. Dems are best
            3. Repubs suck
            4. Rich people suck
            5. Trump sux
            6. Trump sux more.

            Just kidding!!

          • Stevendad says:

            To expand on number one, although I am loathe to raise federal government intervention, I think a national fund that is split amongst candidates would reduce the perversion of public purpose have now. And overspending would lead to removal from office.

          • Peter says:

            Yes, it is crazy that spending on running for president can ramp up close to $1 billion. When the very people running are competing for the vote from “everyday joe’s” who need jobs, higher wages, infrastructure, etc. Just makes me sick when I think about how much is wasted on running for office.

    • Steven H says:

      I was inclined to answer part of this today, but will delay due yo your BS INSULTS and rejection of anything I have to say before I say it. You have ascribed motivation and you have once again attempted to read my mind which you have proved over and over you are incompetent at doing.The following.paragraph is too insulting to even address. Clean up your attitude.

      “The reason why I said that you use your political partisan BS to counter everything … well, is because you do. If that Brookings study had come from a right-wing think tank you would dismiss it immediately. Yet you post Piketty’s writings as “academia” and use the Center for Tax Justice as a reliable source of information. But since it was from Brookings, whom you called centrist about 2 hours before I posted the link, you can’t just dismiss it with politics. You actually have to read it, digest it, and try and imagine that you might be wrong. This is what you are unable to do, due to your politics.”

      I respect the Brookings institution study and find it interesting. You will have to wait for a response as I see you are cocked and ready to dismiss anything I have to say anyway.

      • Peter says:

        Not at all…and take your time. I look forward to a well thought out, non political answer to my questions. Rather than dispute my assessment of your worldview – over 5+ years and with countless other posters who agree with my perspective of you.

        But I’ll be fair. Surprise us all…..

  • Stevendad says:

    As far as progressive being smarter than everyone else in their own view, this is not snark. This is true. Here is a definition from definition.com of Progressive:
    Making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods

    Fair enough?
    So the question I always have is, enlightened according to who? I also question the “experimental methods” which 60% of those carrying out the experiments are Liberal, 30% moderate and 10% Conservative. Furthermore, this is all college professors, I suspect it’s much higher in the social sciences and those who recommend “progressive ideas”. I’m not sure many chemical engineering professors Care too much when where the other about this. So, see what I mean, it ultimately comes down todeduction. You state certain principles as true and work from there. As I said before, CNN and MSNBC often state ideas as true without any counter arguments whatsoever.
    Again, they wish to restrict my freedom in a variety of ways, owning guns, taking money that I can’t spend on something else, etc. etc. Conservatives are just as bad the other way, I will agree. Again if you make the proclamation “abortion is murder” because I feel so. This is exactly the same thing on the opposite side of the coin. Someday you may recognize it. Again, I think the burden of proof is higher for both since they are trying to take something away from me and I’m trying to take nothing from them.

    • Stevendad says:

      Oops: Care too much when where the other about this = care too much about this one way or the other

    • Steven H says:

      Not sure about your point. You think dictionaries have a liberal bias? When you start talking about left or liberals being supposedly smarter and wiser than everyone else, just admit you are being snarky.

      • Stevendad says:

        No, I’m not. It’s not about dictionaries, I was just trying to find the most potentially unbiased source I could. You are too indoctrinared to even hear what I’m trying to say. They are “enlightened”. Just ask them. My point is that their beliefs are often not based on any facts but just with they feel in their heart. Somehow this makes them right and other people wrong. Then they backfill with reasons why their decisions are correct. And the “data” they come up with is frequently skewed dramatically by their Liberal background. Again, one can make the case that “abortion is murder”. Do you agree with that? Some people feel that in their heart.t Should that become a law of the land? Sure you won’t get any of this and you’ll focus on one little phrase in my whole paragraph as a way of avoiding answering me these questions, as usual. Closed minds learn nothing.

        • Steven H says:

          Calm down. Just trying to figure out your point. That sounds like a very limited and dim view of progressive. Progressive ideas not based on facts? Progressives feel the same about conservatives. Conservatives today seem massively deluded with false informatiln, from my perspective. And yes, abortion is an interesting counterexample. People feel abortion is wrong so they inject themselves in decisions that are none of their business. Same attitude with the argument that God is in control so we dont have to worry about man screwing up the environment. (Have you heard the story about the man in the flood who turned down rescue from a canoe and a helicopter because God would save him? When he drowned and went to heaven and asked God about this, God said “Hey it was your fault. I sent a canoe and a helicopter!”)

          • Peter says:

            I think the point is both sides are too stubborn these days. Liberals tend to think they have the “enlightened” opinions while conservatives often hide behind God or the Constitution. Neither mindset allows for much debate. Then, both sides seek out sources that back up their mindset and state those things as facts, ignoring any contrary evidence. Of course, not all liberals or conservatives are like this…but the tails wagging the dogs seem to be.

          • Stevendad says:

            So maybe you can see why a more Libertarian view is best: BOTH sides like to tell people what to do, just about different issues. “People feel abortion is wrong so they inject themselves in decisions that are none of their business.” So DeBlasio saying I can’t have a 32 oz Coke isn’t? Or taking 40+% of my earnings to spend on your priorities isn’t? And telling kids they can’t take Oreos to school (really happened)? Etc, etc. All sorts of stuff demanded by the Left as well, big and small.
            And both parties have many people who use these ideologies to enrich themselves above the needs of the public.
            So at least stay where we are or reduce Fed govt and increase local and state intervention if needed. And stay out of the” bedroom AND boardroom” unless there are compelling reasons to interfere. To repeat the Libertarians creed: “working hard to take over the world in order to leave you alone”.

    • Steven H says:

      Ok let me also indulge in a little of this philosophical generalization. Not to oppose you but just to give my perspective. In very general terms conservative and progressive do represent a difference in attitude. As you said, progressive policy is associated with changing things, experimenting, adapting, trying something new. (I will leave out whether it is ‘enlightened’.) At its best it is open minded and adaptive, at its worst it is frivolous and unplanned. Conservative policy is associated with keeping things as they are, not changing rules, not recognizing change in the world or environment, cautious. At its best it is careful and planned, at its worst it is repressive and closed minded and inflexible and cruel. Progressives want to have freedom from oppression from those with power, which explains their desire to take money and power away from most wealthy and powerful. They want to restrct wealth and power without having to become seduced by wealth and power (which are almost considered vices). Conservatives want freedom for themselves and to control and manage the environment around them, and they respect self control over other virtues, and so they reject what they see as the foolish consequences of lack of self-discipline and they reject attempts to be controlled by others. This explains their desire for power and wealth, rejection of abortion, their dim view of poverty and welfare, rejection of environmental concerns, of regulations, and of gun controls, because these are all either deserved consequences to the foolish or undeserved restrictions on themselves.

      • Stevendad says:

        “Progressives want to have freedom from oppression from those with power” Your folly is you don’t see that both sides are trying to do this. They just have a different set of things that they want to oppress. Like religious decisions, large soft drinks, Oreos, people making decisions with their own money etc. etc. My cynical side says neither has the aim of “truth and justice”, just power. Read Animal Farm again. You’ll see that even your Democratic friends are just a different group of pigs that are more equal than others. Or probably not…

        • Peter says:

          Well said, Stevendad – that’s been my point all along. And I don’t totally disagree with some of the characterizations Steven H made….but the problem is, what about the 80% of the public that falls somewhere in the middle, or with some combination of these stereotypes? What about the devoutly religious gay person? What about the socialist Southerner? What about the rich libertarians?

        • Steven H says:

          Yes I agree each side is fighting ‘oppression’ by an outside force. But can you see the different nature of the forces they are fighting? Put down your defences for a moment and look who and what conservatives oppose. Regulations. Taxes. Welfare. What do progressives oppose. The very wealthy, big corporations, and big banks. It would seem that each side opposes some big monolithic force, but look again. Progressives oppose organizations run by small cadres of very powerful people. Conservatives oppose government which is an organization ultimately controlled by the entire population. Progressives fight against the powerful and conservatives fight against the powerless. Not a pretty picture but that is pretty much how it is.

          • Steven H says:

            Actually that sounds harsh. Its not where I was going when I started the post. I imagine conservatives see govt as a powerful organization run by a few as well. Or perhaps a mob mentality organization. And yet… I keep coming back to government as the only entity that the powerless have to fight against big money, big corp, and big banks. And when you fight government you are ultimately fighting everybody else not in those groups.

          • Steven H says:

            The irony is people in government fighting against government. Some of the small government folks are fighting for economic responsibility. Others are fighting for a small and weak govt so they can run roughshod over everybody, and pull tax cuts out of the treasury, execute financially risky ventures with no oversight, and scam people.

          • Stevendad says:

            You blind yourself to how much Progressives interfere in the lives of nearly all income groups with regulation. They want to tell everyone what to eat, how a huge chunk of their income should be spent (via taxes) etc. And, again, I’m not wanting a 50% govt cut: maybe 10% of refs, 2% rather than 5% growth, etc. you seem to deal a lot in absolutes.

          • Steven H says:

            These are generalizations and don’t actually apply as much to you two, P and SD, so don’t feel too offended. But consider WHY progressives sometimes seem to be controlling what people eat or drink. It is to fight the corporations who are pushing unhealthy but profitable junk on children and poor, not to exhibit control of children and poor for the sake of control. I disagree with some of this, like regulating size of soft drinks to adults. But keeping soda machines out of schools is a good idea, as is some kind of mandate for healthier meals for kids. For all of their flaws, Progressive “control” is motivated by the best of intentions, with desire to strengthen and improve society. You could say that Conservatives also want to improve society, but they often do this by advocating for freedom (for themselves), and repression of the less fortunate. Progressives advocate for repression of the MORE fortunate. Neither are always fair, but they are not really symmetric either.

          • Steven H says:

            Let me close this section with an astounding bit of information I saw in a documentary. In France, school children have a 1 hour lunch. Plates, silverware, well-balanced meals. It is a class in how to eat right. And this is in the public schools.
            I looked this up to make sure the documentary was correct. It is. And it supposedly does not cost that much either. This is the sort of “progressive oppression” I could readily support.

            https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14845/what-french-kids-eat-for-school-lunch-it-puts-americans-to-shame.html

            “As the children come streaming into the cantine, they sit down at tables of four that are already set and wait for older student volunteers to bring the first course to their table. The child who sits at the designated “red” chair is the only one who is allowed to get up to fetch more water in the pitcher, extra bread for the bread basket, or to ask for extra food for the table. After finishing the first course (often a salad), volunteers bring the main course platter to the table and the children serve themselves. A cheese course follows (often a yogurt or small piece of Camembert, for example), and then dessert (more often than not, fresh fruit).

            “We do our best to vary our menus throughout the weeks and months, but sometimes children don’t like certain foods,” explains Cahuzac. “We ask children to at least to taste everything and have a few bites before they give up on a food they don’t like.”

            “Eating a balanced meal while sitting down calmly is important in the development of a healthy child,” adds Cahuzac. “It helps them to digest food properly, avoid stomachaches and avoid sapped energy levels in the afternoon.”

  • Stevendad says:

    I may have missed some of your immigration points, but that WAS a really long post and I confess might have skimmed it. So to clarify, are you for letting anyone in the world come here without any process or only keeping those who have already here and no more? And do you want to expand the number of those who come legally? Or some other permutation of the arguments? Just leave out the articles and state your view. I’ve stated mine (severely tighten illegal immigration, by and large let the good folks stY legally and kick the (non immigration) law breakers out). And continue to slowly expand the legal immigration process.

    • Steven H says:

      “So to clarify, are you for letting anyone in the world come here without any process?” Of course not, and I am surprised you even ask. Virtually no one on left or right would answer yes to that.
      ===
      “And do you want to expand the number of those who come legally?” Yes, for refugees. And then if we can really get control of borders (I think a really secure national ID would be better than a wall), we MIGHT increase legal immigration at level LESS than current (legal + illegal); i.e., net decrease initially with increase as economy permits.
      ===
      “I’ve stated mine (severely tighten illegal immigration, by and large let the good folks stay legally and kick the (non immigration) law breakers out). And continue to slowly expand the legal immigration process.”
      I more or less agree, with also a bit of leniency toward non-felonies, and crimes that are many years old.

      • Stevendad says:

        I was asking for, just in in a nutshell, what do you think about immigration.I don’t want to reaction to what I think.

        • Steven H says:

          I answered your questions and agreed with most of your position. What more would you like to ask?

          • Stevendad says:

            Just a simple statement of if I could control immigration policy I would do these things:

  • Stevendad says:

    SH, this may shock you, but I thought Hillarycare in the 90’s might work the best for us. I think the buzzword was managed competition. Of course, several of the other things I said would need to be done too. My analogy is the health systems and insurance companies are the players and the Feds set up rules and referee. NOT a modified VA system for all.

  • Stevendad says:

    SH. There are several comments you left hanging. Rad through June and you’ll find them (cutting regs 10% grows economy 1%, crime committed by man in woman’s bathroom, locally based government is better, and on and)

    Of course, you are not a voice for the Liberal Democratic wing, just agree 100% of the time so it’s hard to separate.

    I am not speaking in absolutes, just where we shift the equilibrium to. You wish to move towards more government, more taxes, more regulation (except pertaining to immigration). I think we’re OK overall, except we need some form of immigration law, more government accountability and efficiency and a bit less regs. I also recognize the Federal government is evolving into being more concerned about itself than the citizens it serves. But not just me:
    Gallup: 67% of Americans (TWO THIRDS!!!) are dissatisfied with the way they are governed and only 8% of Reps and 12% of Senate are honest and ethical. 32% think THEIR Congressman is corrupt. So much for your argument that the government is not corrupt and is the answer…
    33% think government is the NUMBER ONE problem in the US, almost double the next (18% economy, 16% healthcare, etc).
    So your answer is give them MORE power and more money. Back to Thelma and Louise taking us off the cliff and asking for more gas…
    Of course, Liberals are smarter than the rest of us and feel if we could just catch their religion all would become clear and Nirvana ensue…
    Again, IMO, build Liberal Nivanae in NY and CA with huge local taxes and leave the rest of us alone. People will move to states where the solutions work the best. Ca and NY are doing that now and have net emigration of natives. We call that put or shut up here. I’m sure you’ll disagree with raising state / local taxes in these locales for Liberal agendas and that will support the weakness of all your arguments.

    • Steven H says:

      “Of course, Liberals are smarter than the rest of us and feel if we could just catch their religion all would become clear and Nirvana ensue…”
      Oh geez stevendad, what about all the idealism about cutting the facepaint, and attacking ideas not people? Stop repeating this crap.

      • Stevendad says:

        OK SH, fair enough, state your principles (home ownership for all would be such a principle, as would$15 minimum wage) and PROVE they are correct. I wasn’t attacking, stating a fact IMO. I watch lots of MSNBC and CNN and see such things pronounced as truths without any supporting evidence and, more alarmingly, accepted as facts without any attention to any counter arguments. And CLEARLY, these networks support the Liberals both in what you see and what you don’t (like DNC emails).
        And why not just do it in NY, CA and IL with local taxation and laws like I said? If those ideas are so good and work so well we’ll all migrate there.

      • Peter says:

        That’s what you took from Stevendad’s post? How about the comments about cutting regulations growing the economy….or that 2/3 of our population is dissatisfied with the government? California is a perfect example of unfettered liberal economic strategies and how they work. They have the highest taxes in the nation and tremendous job opportunities and growth, but are in constant financial disarray. And people are leaving in droves.

        More on California above.

    • Steven H says:

      How does slashing government programs solve corruption? It just gives in to the monied interests who want to slash government so that Big Business can run things instead.
      ===
      Cut money from LegislatORS, not from legislaTION.

      • Stevendad says:

        I haven’t argued “slashing” anything, just slowing growth. t doesn’t slash corruption, just reduces money, the ammunition of corruption. You have stated 1000 or so times you want to give them more.

        • Steven H says:

          We disagree on “them”. LegislaTION is money for government programs, for poor, for needy, for military, for small business administration, for regulation, for oversight. No i don’t see a big need to cut those things and I think we need to pay for existing programs.
          ===
          Corruption is giving money to legislatORS through lobbyists, super PACS, etc. If that is the money you mean, no I don’t want more going to THEM.
          ===
          Cutting functional and needed government programs because you don’t trust certain legislators is shooting ourselves in the foot. Not paying for the programs we voted for and then complaining about deficits is shooting ourselves in the butt.

          • Stevendad says:

            So The federal government is the best way to distribute things to people. I just disagree. You are in a tiny minority of Americans who trust Congress to do the right thing. According to the constitution, they ultimately are responsible for distribution of all revenue.
            Interesting that you think we are cruel wealthy Americans that only care about themselves. In fact we are far more generous than Europeans.
            Per Garfinkel: When private-sector contributions to retirement, health care, and education are added to the count, social-welfare spending in the U.S. dwarfs that of other nations. In fact, social-welfare spending per capita in the U.S. rises to nearly twice the European average.

          • Stevendad says:

            I keep going back to how inefficient our government system is. We spend more on education and healthcare than anyone else. Nearly double for education. Yet our results are poor, that sounds like an efficiency problem doesn’t it? I keep forgetting you’re an engineer. I would think you’d love efficiency. Your solution is to put more money into this and efficient system. My solution is try to reward efficiency by changing the structure of our bureaucracy.

          • Peter says:

            That’s a great point. Our spending on many of these items is higher than other nations with poorer results. Our government as it is formed now does not have a good track record – and it is getting worse.

    • Steven H says:

      So if a group of legislators says government doesn’t work and should be smaller, and then they do everything in their power to keep government from working, and people get unhappy about it, that, in your mind is proof that government does not work and we should make it smaller? Kind of a self licking ice cream cone, isn’t it?

      • Stevendad says:

        Are you talking present Dems or previous Repubs? Both are “self licking ice cream cones”. Again, I think both are self serving. It doesn’t work. Open your eyes. Thats not just me, but 67% (!!!) of Americans. See below.

        • Steven H says:

          67% are unhappy with the way they are governed. You and I are both in that group. That doesnt mean we all agree what to do about it, right?

          • Stevendad says:

            And yet you want to give them more fuel and I don’t.

          • Peter says:

            Right…the difference is between me (and maybe Stevendad) and you is that I am unhappy with the way we are governed across the board. I think you would say you are unhappy with the way Republicans govern, but generally satisfied with the way Democrats govern. Am I wrong? Maybe that’s the reason why you want to give them more money – if you give them more money, and the Dems can get their policies through, things will improve. Is that fair?

        • Peter says:

          And by the way, what is a self-licking ice cream cone? LMAO

  • Peter says:

    To recap Steven H’s return posts….
    1. Posted that he doesn’t understand why we think lack of health insurance has no impact whatsoever. Nobody said this. Straw man.
    2. Defended Dems support of Muslims by equating them with Christians and Atheists.
    3. Defended Dems by equating their suppression of the far right to a perceived suppression of the far left by the right. Gave no evidence of this and defended a behavior with a counter accusation.
    4. Attacked James for attacking people. Ironic.
    5. Ignored Stevendad’s comments about state and local governments running more efficiently due to consistent party representation.
    6. Ignored Stevendad’s comments about governments inefficiency due to spending money across voters for reelection.
    7. Labeled Stevendad’s GAO statistics as “incomplete”
    8. Again defended Dems courting of illegal immigrants to Republicans blocking paths to citizenship. An awful lot of “well they do it too” as the defense.
    9. Falsely stated that Canadians love their healthcare when the polls show they love public healthcare – not “high degrees of satisfaction” with their current plan.
    10. Ignored all of our countless, real world examples of government spending mandates and how waste happens.

    —-
    But most importantly…
    1. Responded to examples of Connecticut, Illinois, New York, California, etc finding out that tax hikes don’t solve their fiscal problems by quoting an incomplete story about tax cuts being voted down in the nations 35th largest state.
    2. Completely ignored the study from Brookings (who Steven H called a centrist think tank) that showed that tax hikes have almost no impact on income inequality. When he can’t debunk something with partisan BS, he just ignores it.

    • Peter says:

      Again … you have two main goals in this argument. Please just admit this.

      1. Defending Democrats and their ideology
      2. Raising taxes on the rich to solve income inequality

      • Steven H says:

        Wrong again. Why don’t you go back to listening what I say rather than trying to get me to “admit” things that you imagine the straw man version of me is saying?

      • Stevendad says:

        That’s all I hear and have heard for 5 years. I admire his doggedness!

        • Steven H says:

          Perhaps you should listen to the rest of what I say instead of only hearing those two things. Believing is seeing. And hearing. And reading.

          • Stevendad says:

            Sorry SH, EVERYTHING you say boils back down
            to raising income taxes on the 1% and Dem platform. I challenged you a while back about naming ONE thing you disagreed with and you replied it was because they were ALWAYS right. Wow! Either you’re not a free thinker or an anomaly as rare as a perfect March Madness bracket.

          • Steven H says:

            That was sarcasm, stevendad. I have not read the Dem platform. But boiling down my position to those two things is like me claiming that your entire position is opposing high taxes on the rich and opposing everything on the Dem platform. And that would disregard all of the other things you write and the subtleties of your position. You have misrepresented me many times. You ASSUME my position matches extreme left, then use that assumption to say that I DO match extreme left, and keep saying ai should “admit” things I do not believe. One, it doesnt matter if my ideas align with other Democrats, and two, you dont seem to know what the Dem platform is either. You seemed to think it includes “open borders”, which I doubt (again I have not read it), and which I dont support, regardless. So I dont want to engage in some exercise where I go off and read some version of the Dem platform and determine my alignment percentage. Its pointless. Lets just discuss the ideas at hand and stay open to being convinced by data and a good argument.

          • Peter says:

            I personally don’t really care what the Dem platform is. But if you think your argument has had more to it than those two tenets, you are really mistaken. You do accept other solutions (like apprenticeships, education programs, etc.) but adamantly believe that there is no solving or improving income inequality without higher taxes on the rich. You also believe that the Democratic party is generally correct in their principles (vs. Republicans) and believe in their ability to fix many things in our nation – income inequality and healthcare among them. How am I wrong here? After 5 years we don’t know what you are thinking?

          • _Steven H says:

            Here is a subtle point which you will probably disregard. The tax increases I advocate for the rich are not to reduce income disparity.
            1) I want to raise taxes on the rich. Yes. Primarily this is to pay for existing and desired govt programs to pay down deficits and debt. Why? Because they are the only ones with money to afford it.
            2) I want to structurally change our economy to give the middle class an advantage and shift money from rich to middle. This consists of many many potential changes. Altering tax structure might help a little but the Brookings study indicated that small to middling tax changes had little impact. Increasing efucation and training might help but Briokings tossed some cold water on that as well. So what will help? That is the big question. My initial solution, taxes, and yours, education, are not enough. So maybe it is a deeper structural problem. I would explore policies that have worked in the past. Minimum wage increase, pro labor policies, good universal healthcare, inexpensive education. Basically anything we can do to cut expenses and increase incomes in the middle. And yes, the money will have to come from somewhere, and that will be from the top. There is no way to alter high income inequality except to move money from where there is too much and put it where there is too little. If it is spread out over time and managed with decent economic growth, it wont be too painful. It took us decades to shift 10% to 15% of the economy from the middle to the top and it will take decades to shift it back. But we have to stop digging the hole of giving big tax cuts to the rich, as Congress is once again attempting.. It is killing the economy.
            3)

          • Peter says:

            “Here is a subtle point which you will probably disregard” …. well since you already know what I’m …. no never mind, I’ll take the high road. 🙂

            I agree with most of what you are saying. We have to look at things from a different angle rather than just taxes or education. Which has been my message all along. Probably where we differ is that I think the absolute source of all of this is our inefficient government which is run by the elite. Both parties. Congress and White House. Structurally. Anything else you do is window dressing until we address that. And while I’m willing to take tax cuts off the table, Deregulation (or at least reform) is a must….as is reducing spending. Both would help grow the economy in the long run and help the people at the bottom of the financial ladder. But it all has to be done efficiently. ACA is an example of the right idea muddied with special interest and handouts.

          • Steven H says:

            See, I can surprise you and we can agree on some points if you just let me state my opinion instead of predicting it.

    • Steven H says:

      I spent a half hour writing up a response to #1 and then the browser locked up. Short version: James actually was the one who referenced “myth of letting people die with no healthcare”. In fact many studies have indicated increased mortality from lack of health insurance because it limits access to healthcare. That is my overall point. I will find some of the studies if you cannot locate them, but they are pretty easy to google. Stevendad and and I were talking past each other in some of the posts regarding critical care after diagnosis, vs overall care. My previous lost post had more detail, but this was the gist of it.

      • Stevendad says:

        I’ve seen those, and there is certainly validity behind the argument. Of course, those without insurance often have increased bad habits across the board as a factor. Just curious, do they control for that? From my practice I’ve seen the opposite since Obamacare as well. Those who were previously insured lost healthcare (though they are still insured) as deductibles went to $6k.

        We’re in full agreement we need universal coverage and need to increase efficiency. I just don’t see a big single payor as the answer. As stated before, I don’t trust Congress to be honest and ethical with 20% of our GDP, like 90% (!!!!!) of Americans feel about them.

    • Steven H says:

      I think my response to this ended up in the wrong place slightly further down, under “Wow Peter …”

  • Steven H says:

    There seems to be some misconception here that lack of healthcare has no impact on patient health, or mortality, and that emergency rooms and charity allow sufficient access to healthcare. Many, many, many studies indicate otherwise. People in America do die from lack of access to healthcare. Sometimes it is due to less access to screening for disease, unaffordability of appointments or medicines, or other reasons. Not to mention that medical expenses have been a major cause of bankruptcies and economic destruction of families. I thought everybody understood all of this. I am astounded to read otherwise from intelligent posters.

    • Steven H says:

      I should have said lack of health insurance, not lack of healthcare …

      • Peter says:

        Man you can be dense sometimes….. nobody said having no health insurance had NO impact on patient health! Stevendad just saying that it is a myth that thousands of people are dying every day due to lack of healthcare. It certainly can be a financial killer though.

        • Stevendad says:

          Completely agree that lack of efficient universal healthcare is a problem. Noticed that healthcare is what I said not health insurance. Obamacare actually just shifted the problem up the income scale little bit. The idea that people are constantly dying of cancer and heart disease, etc. and not getting the care they need on an urgent basis is just false as far as I can see. Of course I’ve only been doing this 35 years and one community but maybe there’s more out there. Mostly sounds like political BS. We have universal healthcare, just a very poor entry point. I’m not opposed to the idea, as I said before, I’m just not sure federal consistent with the best idea since they have largely failed in every other system they have run.

          • Steven H says:

            “Completely agree that lack of efficient universal healthcare is a problem.”
            OK Thanks. Point of agreement.
            “We have universal healthcare, just a very poor entry point. I’m not opposed to the idea, as I said before, I’m just not sure federal consistent with the best idea since they have largely failed in every other system they have run.”
            This widespread suspicion is, I think, the reason for leaving healthcare in private sector and health insurance REGULATION in govt hands, with some subsidies. Not a bad approach if we just stick with it long enough to work out the kinks.

    • Steven H says:

      Wow Peter, the more evenhanded I get, the more vicious you guys get. To assess your list from the wrong to the ridiculous to the neutral to the impatient to the impassioned.

      Wrong:
      9) “Falsely stated that Canadians love their healthcare”. I CORRECTLY stated that they are considerably fonder of their system than we are of ours, and I also said that there are complaints. There are many polls and studies that back this up, including this one,
      http://www.gallup.com/poll/8056/healthcare-system-ratings-us-great-britain-canada.aspx
      which does NOT show everybody in Canada LOVES it, but that their satisfaction with AVAILABILITY of affordable health care is MUCH higher and satisfaction with QUALITY is a little higher. So , no what I was saying was not false and your saying that it is false, is false. What you really should acknowledge is that I presented honest balanced information and you tried to make it something else.
      ===
      Ridiculous:
      3) What I did was POINT OUT that those on the far left and far right each suppress speech, and that those on the fringe don’t represent the mainstream in either case. That sounds pretty evenhanded to me. I didn’t submit examples because it’s so friggin’ obvious.
      4) “Attacked James for attacking people”. James comes charging in like Peter N, complete with libtard guns a firing, and you consider me using Stevendad’s quote about being civil an attack? Come on.
      8) Wow you completely missed this point. I acknowledged that both sides court votes. I was not saying that “they do it too” is an excuse. I also presented a moral motivation for Dems supporting immigrants (giving power to the oppressed), and a disturbing immoral one for GOPS to be suppressing votes (oppressing the powerless). But the point I was answering is that Dems do not JUST court votes. They have heart, and that is the bigger motivation.
      ===
      Neutral:
      2) Yes I did. All men created equal. Freedom of religion. All that stuff.
      7) Because they were. I explained it pretty thoroughly. Do you need a link?
      ===
      Impatient:
      All of these are things I “ignored” or incompletely discussed. First of all I am really HONORED that you seek my detailed opinions on all these subjects, but I am just one guy and you all toss out a lot of posts. And I really do have a life. I will try to at least give my gut response to these items here, though some deserve and will receive more complete coverage later.
      5) Ignored stevendad’s comments about efficient state govt.: I’m just not sure I have a lot to say about this. It’s really general and subject to opinion. Any simplistic statement is almost certainly incorrect. I agree that states serve as a good experimentation ground for policy. I think states should have more control over their own education policy, but not all other policy. I don’t know that states are always more efficient or how you would prove it. I don’t think you can move ALL policy down to local level, but sometimes it is sensible to do so. Isn’t that reasonable? What else can be said?
      6) (paraphrased) inefficiency of govt due to pork barrel politics: Pork barrel politics exists. I don’t see how pointing this out is a guide in how to govern. Money talks. Nothing new.
      10) Ignored examples of waste. Same thing as 5 and 6. All I hear is your resentment of government. I guess my opinion is that every government has and always will have some of the waste examples you point out. And we should always work to reduce the waste and inefficiency. But I don’t see these examples as reason to slash government. Our government spending is already smaller per GDP than most other first world countries DESPITE our larger military spending. There is some stuff I think govt is just better equipped to handle than private sector, and I disagree with you on what is on that list. OK. But making lists of the many reasons you resent govt is not convincing me to shrink government, but just pointing out that there are problems to fix.
      Impassioned:
      11 (or important#1): Tax increases not solving problems: Lordy what are you expecting? You want me to do a detailed financial analysis on a half dozen state budgets? First of all you included California in your list which is having a deficit this year. However this is after the previous deficits, under tax cutting GOP, were solved by tax increases by Democrats… so it seems a poor example for your argument. The Kansas argument was a simplistic counterexample to your simplistic examples and all need more depth of analysis. Not sure that I have the time or the patience to take on such analysis, and not sure either of us could convince each other anyway.
      12 (or important #2): The article is interesting and I will take some time to respond later. I just have not gotten around to the thoughtful response i have been planning. Peter’s comment in the last sentence is one of the most jerky, stupid, and peter-ennish things he has said and I am hoping he recants and apologizes.

  • Stevendad says:

    Just admit that the whole support of immigration thing by the left is a political point about getting votes. It backfired when they lost their working class base. Ergo Trump, Republican Congress, Republicans state houses, republican governors, Republican Supreme Court. Again, I’m a Democrat and our party has lost its collective mind. The most shocking thing is support for the suppression of free speech.

    • Peter says:

      That is the amazing thing about the left now….quieting people at Berkeley and other places. Just putting gasoline on the fire too for those “deplorables”. That and the strange almost-defensive, blind support for Islam that the left continues to endorse….when there are countless human rights violations (from our point of view) that this religion supports and encourages.

      • Steven H says:

        Who has the face paint now?

      • Steven H says:

        Can we agree that no religion, whether islam, christian, jew, hindu, atheism, or anything else can be painted with one broad brush? There are terrible muslims and terrible christians, and terrible atheists and many admirable peaceful examples of each. What many non-Islamic defenders of Islam are trying to express is that bigotry wont solve the problems.

        • Peter says:

          My point exactly…..just saying the things that attract me to the left the most are their acceptance and defense of those who can’t defend themselves. But they seem hesitant to defend those abused in Muslim nations for fear of offending a religion….and seem awfully quick to silence the far right opinion – as idiotic as it might be.

          • Steven H says:

            From my own perspective, and many on the left AND right, Saudi Arabia is a puzzle and a problem. They support us on anti-terror, but the 9/11 bombers came from there AND they persist in teaching the radical Wahhabism version of Islam which generates hate toward west. But I think we agree the general “Islam is a religion of hate” and “Ban all Muslims” rhetoric is not helpful.

        • Peter says:

          However…there are tenets of Islam (women and gay rights for instance) that are very different than other religions. Not that all muslims subscribe to this……

          • Stevendad says:

            According to Pew research 20% of Muslims support suicide bombing sometimes or often worldwide . That’s 360,000,000 people, if you extrapolate. More than the US population. No such data available for Christians I can find. Of course most Muslims support ending violence. Just like codified racism was almost completely eliminated by the good white people, violent extremism will only be reduced significantly when good Muslims preach against, report and condemn it.

      • Stevendad says:

        The “deplorables” term was picked up and has been rebroadcast widely. It is even worn as a badge of honor by many Trumpists on Twitter I have seen. I think Progessives believe it, just regretted circulating it so blatantly. Someone may be deplorable but can be brought into the “Progressive light”. Ok, HOWEVER, the term “irredeemable” scared the crap out of me. The only way an irredeemable can be dealt with is their elimination. Could Hillary have given political clearance and tacit approval for Left wing violence? Hmmmmm….

        • Steven H says:

          I don’t think there is a lot of progress to be made by attempting to assess who has the most rancorous rhetoric.

          • Stevendad says:

            Nope. Two points of agreement. Wow!! So Hill and Trump both said stupid things… Almost everyone deplore the K Griffin thing and the attempted assasination of 10% of Repubs. Had those two cops not been there that would likely have been the result. I hope we’ve reached the nadir of ugliness. Time will tell…

    • Steven H says:

      I will not “admit” what is not true. Of course votes are sought by both parties. I think it is much more deceptive and disgusting how the voter fraud and voter restrictions issue is being overplayed by those who are just trying to suppress legitimate voters of the other party. But the folks I know who are concerned about immigration and path to citizenship are legitimately concerned about neighbors, businesd folks and students who work and live in the community and are being targeted and slandered as if they are criminals and awful people. That is the motivation I will ” admit” because it is the truth.

      As Peter said, can we just agree here that we should control current and future immigration, leave the hard working immigrants here and give them a citizenship path?

      • Stevendad says:

        Re: it’s not true, IMO, just pandering. Voter fraud may be overplayed or nderplayed. Who knows? I trusting that in overwhelmingly Hillary Detroit there WERE voting irregularitie in a key state like Michigan.

        Voting machines in 37 percent of Detroit’s precincts registered too many votes in the presidential election last month, the Detroit News reported Tuesday.

        Records from Wayne County show optical scanners in 248 of the city’s 662 precincts registered more ballots than the number of votes tallied in the poll books.

        The city’s voting irregularities prompted a call for an audit by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office, according to the publication.

        Also interesting that after Citizens United ruling, that the Democrats felt the Republicans would vastly outspend them. Trump raised $274 million (+$66 million out of his wallet) and Hillary $581 million. So how does that compare? 581 > 274 in my book….

        • Stevendad says:

          Interesting not I trusting

        • Steven H says:

          Interesting article on the vote tallies in Michigan. You are assuming that Hillary benefitted somehow, and that fraud was involved, but there is no evidence of that. It sounds more like disorganization and human error.
          http://www.snopes.com/more-votes-than-voters-in-detroit/

          • Stevendad says:

            Of course it was Hillary friendly Detroit. Maybe there’s enough smoke there to not say there is almost no voter fraud. You’re the big fan of investigating smoke lately. I just keep saying we don’t know…

          • Steven H says:

            Yes but it concerns me that you keep bringing up these right-wing Republican attack points when i know you don’t claim to be Republican. Tallies don’t match so it could be Hillary fraud. Immigrant crime is 3x everybody else when the stats actually indicate at least half of that 3x is just illegal immigration itself. No supposed evidence against Trump’s campaign when Congressmen on both sides of aisle and all the intelligence agencies say otherwise. Crossdressers attacking women in the restroom. Cats and dogs living together. Libertine men and Scarlet women!
            And Rag-time, shameless music
            That’ll grab your son and your daughter
            With the arms of a jungle animal instinct!
            Mass-steria!
            … sorry got distracted for a minute there. A little Bill Murray mixed with Music Man after the Republifear. Anyway, I’d stay away from wherever you got those stats. Not the GAO, but whoever quoted them in the first place to mean something they don’t.

    • Steven H says:

      Not all Dems support suppression of free speech. In fact very small percentages do. And you can find same behavior on left and right. And to counter the idea that I say nothing good about Republicans, here is possibly the best thing George W ever said regarding critique of others.
      “We judge others by their worst example, and ourselves by our best intentions.” (That may be a paraphrase … did not look up the precise wording.)

      • Stevendad says:

        Please list the Dem party people who publicly condemned Berkeley protests against Milo and subsequent cancellation of Ann Coulter. I’ve found them very hard to find, but you seem to find such things. So Pelosi? Schumer? Obama? I’d love to see the quotes.

        • Steven H says:

          https://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2017/04/23/sanders-slams-uc-berkeleys-antifree-speech-zealots-its-a-sign-of-intellectual-weakness-n2317054
          Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison both condemned the efforts to shut down Ann Coulter’s planned speaking engagement at the hyper left wing campus on April 27.
          I don’t like this. I don’t like it,” Sanders told The Huffington Post after speaking at a rally for Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello on Thursday night. Sanders: “Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.”
          […]
          “To me, it’s a sign of intellectual weakness,” he said. “If you can’t ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments, if all you can do is boo, or shut her down, or prevent her from coming, what does that tell the world?”

          • Stevendad says:

            Sanders is not a Democrat, Independent Socialist, I believe. Yes, to his credit, he has more sense about social liberties than most Democrats. I was specifically talking about party leadership. Pelosi, Schumer, Obama and Perez. Crickets as far as I’ve seen. If Keith Ellison is the conscience of your party…wow.

          • Peter says:

            Agree. Sanders is a bit of an anomaly which is why the DNC tried to quiet him. I agree with a lot of his takes on things and have admiration for him as a politician. Don’t agree with everything, but he does have an open mind about many things. The treatment of Milo and Ann Coulter are great examples of this. But the left quiets liberals too. Bill Maher certainly has had his share of heat when he doesn’t line directly up with the liberal agenda.

          • Steven H says:

            So how about DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison?
            ““Absolutely protest these people you don’t like, absolutely write against them, denounce them,” the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee advised progressives angry at right-wing speakers. “But the solution to bad speech is good speech, the solution to bad speech is more speech.”

          • Steven H says:

            And Sanders has more of the heart of the Dem Party than Trump has of the GOP.

  • Stevendad says:

    Fair enough SH, I may have missed that. You’ve Left about 10 things hanging further down. I’m going to give away some healthcare to and indigent. And your contribution today?

  • James says:

    Finally….Steven H called out on the BS of his liberal worldview….the Brooking study where raising taxes doesn’t work, countless examples of states and nations where raising taxes didn’t work, calling BS on “letting people die with no health care” myth, the inefficiency of government stories, etc….like 10 threads in here where his liberal playbook can’t answer. We have an issue with income inequality….no doubt…. but we need to figure out a solution together, not through “libtard” politics (to quote Steven H) or by getting some sort of revenge on rich people.

    • Steven H says:

      Write on the board 20 times. Attong people instead of ideas is nonproductive. And libtard is a peter n quote, not steven h.

      • Steven H says:

        Attacking, not attong.

        • Stevendad says:

          I don’t see how he attacked you. “Liberal worldview” is what he disagreed with. That’s your ideas and not you. Fair game IMO.

          • Steven H says:

            “BS of his [my] liberal worldview”. How is that not an ataack? If he had said “BS of stevendads [any adjective] wordview” would you not feel attacked?

      • Peter says:

        Maybe you should write this too….

        • Peter says:

          “religiously paranoid uninformed bigoted authoritarian minority of idiots”. Sounds a little personal and judgmental to me

          • Steven H says:

            Not attacking anyone here i hope. Yah it was coarse. There are a few topics I lose patience with. This is one.

          • Peter says:

            Doesn’t really matter if they are here. It is a personal attack on a group of people. There may be no black people in here but I’m not about to start dropping the N word or throwing stereotypes around.

          • Steven H says:

            When people are attacking a vulnerable minority like Trans folk and virtually equating them with rapist attackers or perverts and putting their pride and health and life at risk by forcing them to use the restroom they are not identified with, that, to me, is the same as racists telling black folks to drink from a different water fountain, or Christians saying Muslims are evil people, or Skinheads attacking Jews. It is paranoid, uninformed, bigoted, and idiotic. I will now await my letter of protest from the Paranoid Uninformed Bigoted Idiot Anti-Defamation League. Sorry if I offended them.

  • Peter says:

    Looks like some of our ideas are happening. News today of 180 CEOs signing onto President’s request to increase apprentice opportunities….

  • Stevendad says:

    Another basic human nature element: at this point, the best way to get elected is to spread other peoples money amongst the voters. And they do. Of course this leads to debt and excessive promises that can’t be met. Unless we build some sort of discipline into our systems, the states and Federal government may all eventually develop severe credit problems or possibly bankruptcy.

  • Stevendad says:

    Read down all the way Steven H. I stated I am seeing a patient now in the hospital that’s getting chemotherapy for free. They have no money. Me and all the other people involved are seeing them pro bono. The hospital is giving them all the treatments they need for free in in the hospital and setting up outpatient for the same. I just don’t see what you keep accusing the system of. My point is and was that the system already has universal healthcare. We just need to be more efficient about how it is distributed. You just can’t stand not demonize people that disagree with you and turning them all in the evil Snidley Whiplash can you? By the way, what did you give to a poor person today?

    I just don’t have the faith in the federal government to run 20% of our economy completely. I know that you do.

    • Peter says:

      Is health care 20% of the economy? Wow…

      • Stevendad says:

        17.8% in 2015 and growing at 5.8% (of 17.8%) per year. 20% is not far off. Baby Boomers are getting old and will likely ACCELERATE growth as there are 1.5 times as many of them as before and after generations. Hospitals and doctors worried about enough business now may have to worry about how to deal with a future deluge. And the oldest generations are by far the fastest growing. Long term care is going to explode if things don’t change. Probably some investments in there. I like the McKesson, Cardinal health sector (not a financial advisor disclaimer) as it MUST grow 50% in revenue just to meet population demands. Then there are office suppliers, medical temp agencies, etc. All should do well. Hospitals may not fare as well as they get paid less for caring for more. That’s just a have to unless we dramatically restructure our broken payment system.

  • Peter says:

    Steven H – since you like “researching” things, read about the state of Illinois’ issues over the past 20-30 years. Out of work people, giant deficits (just shy of bankruptcy), and their only solution has been to raise taxes repeatedly.

    • Stevendad says:

      I don’t have any articles in front of me, but Connecticut is also about to go bankrupt. This is mostly related to generous union benefits. That’s according to their governor, but perhaps there is some other reason Steven H can come with up with from his personal knowledge. Alarmingly, and perhaps somewhat prescient for Nirvana California, businesses have left as they have raised taxes and become less competitive. Liberal bastions New York and California both are suffering from emigration of those who grew up there. To me it would be good that each state could come up with a set of ideas about moral issues, business, local environment, etc within a reasonable framework and people and businesses can vote with their feet. Competition with no doubt make them ( and thus all of us ) better in the long run.

      • Peter says:

        In most of theses states, the legislation repeatedly makes the argument Steven H does -you have to raise taxes to “pay your bills”….without addressing the “bills” themselves. Problem is it only increases the size of government and people leave. Jobs or economic growth don’t come simply from raising taxes.

    • Steven H says:

      And Kansas is aborting its big tax cut initiative because it is deep in the red. It seems tax cuts dont pay for themselves and parents hate for school funding to be cut to give tax cuts to rich. Whoda thunk?

      • Peter says:

        LOL…. nobody arguing for tax cuts you know…..and Kansas legislators say that tax hikes won’t solve their problems either. But we can ignore all the other states and just talk about Kansas, if that helps your point.

        • Stevendad says:

          I’ve repetitively said we should leave personal taxes the same until budget balances. And business cuts should be revenue neutral. And strongly support 5 taxes, 4 new (VAT, eliminate carried interest advantage, tax some accumulated wealth and reimbursement of govt payouts to low paid employees) and one increased (gas tax). The income tax increase well is dry to me.

  • Stevendad says:

    I thought of two other, different takes on the federal versus state versus local government size issue. The federal government, because there is a nearly equal balance between right and left, gets whipsawed back-and-forth and evrey 4 to 8 years and never gets any great momentum in one direction. However, localities and states tend to have much more steady and reproducible year after year political systems. If money was raised and spent locally, perhaps this would enable more to be done for resolution of problems than the back-and-forth system the federal government seems to be destined to continue.

    Also, local and state governments can’t print money either so at least this requires some practical fiscal decision-making.

    • Peter says:

      Never thought of that, but a great point….both in the continuity and inability to print money. State and local governments also aren’t so politically charged as the Fed government has become. The last two administrations have really fed into this divisiveness – us vs. them. Need a unifier in the White House.

  • Stevendad says:

    Steven H says:
    June 12, 2017 at 6:16 am
    I agree that attacking people instead of ideas is unproductive. Write that on the board 20 times.

    This seems extremely relevant today. Thanks for keeping it civil guys.

  • Peter says:

    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/would-top-income-tax-alter-income-inequality.pdf

    Just more mathematical evidence (stated in more detail than I can) from about the most neutral think-tank you are going to find. Article concludes that raising the top tax bracket – or even increasing the number of college graduates – would have an almost zero impact on income inequality. Maybe we should table these two solutions and start looking for others?

    I’ve said it 1000 times….raising taxes on the top earners is largely cosmetic. It makes people feel better, as they are the ones who “can afford it”, “benefit the most”, “deserve higher taxes”, etc……It also seems like the logical and easy solution. Unfortunately, the math just doesn’t add up. I’ve stated that multiple times from many angles. This analysis is another.

    Reforming how our government operates, how we elect people, big businesses’ influence on our politicians, monopoly practices, teaching a modern day curriculum in schools, etc. are BY FAR the most important steps we must take if we want a more balanced society and a growing middle class. All the rest is window dressing.

    • Peter says:

      Figured you would have no comment on this.

      • Steven H says:

        Geez, have patience. Might be end of month. I have other stuff to do.

        • Stevendad says:

          Sometimes it’s hard to tell you have other people in your life than Peter and me. ? (Emoji wink if it didnt post right.) You do (to your credit) spend a lot of time researching and posting. Thanks again, we’ve all learned a lot.

  • Steven H says:

    Geez guys, your aversion to research astounds me. Regarding the question of imported workers and impact on wage, and the assertion that googling info on this is like googling why rain makes you wet …
    Look at following info. And you can stop instantly opposing whatever I post because I really have no horse in this race. Politically I am sympathetic both to immigrants and to workers they might possibly replace. The following is non-partisan and if the info is counterintuitive, then it is proof perhaps that you should do research and not just lay back on your ass-
    umptions.
    ===
    Although many are concerned that immigrants compete against Americans for jobs, the most recent economic evidence suggests that, on average, immigrant workers increase the opportunities and incomes of Americans. Based on a survey of the academic literature, economists do not tend to find that immigrants cause any sizeable decrease in wages and employment of U.S.-born citizens (Card 2005), and instead may raise wages and lower prices in the aggregate (Ottaviano and Peri 2008; Ottaviano and Peri 2010; Cortes 2008). One reason for this effect is that immigrants and U.S.-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs; instead, many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity. For example, low-skilled immigrant laborers allow U.S.-born farmers, contractors, and craftsmen to expand agricultural production or to build more homes—thereby expanding employment possibilities and incomes for U.S. workers. Another way in which immigrants help U.S. workers is that businesses adjust to new immigrants by opening stores, restaurants, or production facilities to take advantage of the added supply of workers; more workers translate into more business.
    http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/what_immigration_means_for_u.s._employment_and_wages

    • Steven H says:

      That was from Brookings Institution by the way, generally considered a centrist think tank.
      ===
      Here is quote from Heritage Foundation, a decidedly conservative site:
      American employers cannot find enough highly skilled workers to fill essential positions. There are not enough American workers with advanced skills in computer, engineering, and mathematical occupations to perform the work that many high-tech companies need. This shortage of skilled labor has forced many companies to outsource operations abroad.

      Raising the cap on H-1B visas for skilled workers would allow American businesses to expand operations here in the United States, creating more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Increasing the H-1B cap would also raise significant tax revenue from highly skilled and highly paid workers.
      ===
      From Time Magazine:
      Immigration has an overall positive impact on economic growth in the United States and has small-to-no effects on wages and employment for native-born workers, according to a new report.
      Prepared by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report looked at immigration trends over the past 20 years to assess the economic impact of the now more than 40 million people living in the United States who were born in other countries. It found that immigration has an overall positive long-term impact on the economy.
      ===
      The opposing view, including a link:
      Here’s the problem with the current immigration debate: Neither side is revealing the whole picture. Trump might cite my work, but he overlooks my findings that the influx of immigrants can potentially be a net good for the nation, increasing the total wealth of the population. Clinton ignores the hard truth that not everyone benefits when immigrants arrive. For many Americans, the influx of immigrants hurts their prospects significantly.

      This second message might be hard for many Americans to process, but anyone who tells you that immigration doesn’t have any negative effects doesn’t understand how it really works. When the supply of workers goes up, the price that firms have to pay to hire workers goes down. Wage trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wage of that group by at least 3 percent. Even after the economy has fully adjusted, those skill groups that received the most immigrants will still offer lower pay relative to those that received fewer immigrants.

      Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually. According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year.
      http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/trump-clinton-immigration-economy-unemployment-jobs-214216

      • Peter says:

        To me this stuff is really obvious…..but maybe that’s just me. I know some get political and emotional about this. Think Trump’s main message in the campaign wasn’t reducing immigration, but rather reducing illegal immigration, which hurts everyone – including the immigrants who come illegally. But the rest of this stuff is fairly transparent I think.

      • Stevendad says:

        Anyway, I’m only opposed to illegal immigration. How many illegal immigrants have a work visa. I think that’s zero isn’t it?

      • Steven H says:

        My objection to a tight clampdown on illegal immigrants is a disruption of stable economy of longtime residents. It serves no good purpose to deport families and students who have lived here for years, or even their entire lives.
        ===
        As for the immigrant crime claim of stevendad’s, the claim of high crime among immigrants has been widely disputed. Im not sure what specific pockets of crime you are referencing.
        ===
        And by the way, I see little to no correlation between the immigrant and gini maps.

        • Stevendad says:

          GAO report 2005. Most recent I’ve found so far shows illegal immmigrants overrepresent by 3 times:
          The first report found that criminal aliens, both legal and illegal, make up 27 percent of all federal prisoners. Yet non-citizens are only about nine percent of the nation’s adult population. Thus, judging by the numbers in federal prisons alone, non-citizens commit federal crimes at three times the rate of citizens.

        • Stevendad says:

          Don’t see the California and NY areas highly intense in both. Hmmmm… Believing is seeing…

        • Steven H says:

          Consider that half or more of that 27% are individuals only being held for immigration offense, according to sources. That would still leave immigrants with higher crime rate but …

          Libertarian think tank claims “With few exceptions, immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.  As described below, the research is fairly one-sided.”

          https://www.cato.org/blog/immigration-crime-what-research-says

          Not sure how to resolve the statistics differences but it does not seem to be the statistical slam dunk you claim, and your 27% number is clearly incorrect. Unless you want to count immigration offense as crime, in which case 10p% of illegal immigrants are guilty. But that is a self licking ice cream cone.

          • Steven H says:

            100% not 10p%

          • Stevendad says:

            Ok GAO is full of crap. Right.

          • Steven H says:

            No, but you are using statistics that are incomplete. Look up politifact or other articles. I can find them again, but you can google. The federal statistic you quoted is distorted by number held exclusively for immigration violation, which was around half. And other studies conclude immigrants produce less crime not more. You have to do more than come up with one distorted stat out of many and declare you have found the truth you like.

    • Stevendad says:

      I’ve seen that. It’s nonsense or the science of economics is nonsense. Both can’t be true.

      • Stevendad says:

        There has to be a loss of jobs to Americans if given to others. Those studies completely ignore the governmental costs to education, health and law enforcement. Several municipalities have many times the crime amongst illegal immigrants, mostly aimed at other illegals. I’m not opposed to immigration at all, by the way, but there has to be some kind of system of government control. I thought you liked government control SH. This statement ” It found that immigration has an overall positive long-term impact on the economy.” doesn’t mean millions of native individuals are not hurt. Ergo Trump. What Heritage points out is we really somehow fail our children either in training or motivation or both… And all those contractors, farmers, tech company owners, etc all get higher incomes and worsen income inequality by the way. Lots of overlap of immigrants and Gini. :
        http://www.qando.net/wp-content/uploads/Screen-Shot-2013-04-07-at-11.28.36-AM.png

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Gini_Index_US_Counties_2010.jpg

      • Steven H says:

        Soooo…
        You dont like the results and so you assume your simplistic non fact based theoretical assumptions and personal biases are superior to actual research?
        How about trying to look at the details, learn from the analysis, understand the limitations of the analysis and try to resolve the discrepancies, instead of just declaring it cant be true?
        ===
        1) The analyses I provided indicate that it is possible for immigrant workers to enter an economy and not cause native job loss under specific conditions: (a) immigrants take jobs which locals wont take due to undesirability of conditions, or cannot fill due to skill. (b) immigrant jobs enable industry expansion which creates additional jobs for locals which better match desirability and skill.
        === This is a reasonable analysis.
        2) Limitations of analysis: If immigrants were blocked, would jobs truly go unfilled, or would market adapt by raising wages to fill those jobs? Could the industry markets support the higher wage? Would the higher wages required compel outsourcing of jobs to other countries, producing net job loss? These questions are not easily answered and would vary by industry, and are impacted by trade policy.
        3) Analysis of net increase or decrease in jobs does not describe impact on individual job markets or income categories. As the last article I quoted indicated, when there IS competition between immigrants and locals for the same job category or at the same income bringing in immigrants at a lower wage will depress the wage for locals in that subgroup, even if net job count increases and net economy increases for a broader category.
        4) My impression of all of this is that immigration, whether legal or illegal, may or may not depress wages and may or may not decrease job availability. There are a lot of other variables. We should be wary, and recognize that a net increase in jobs or economy may still depress wages and employment in specific markets.
        5) The point of all this is that you should not reject research just because it seems in opposition to a simplistic model that you like. And that you should not generalize the results of research that you like beyond the specifics of the investigation performed. There does NOT “have to be a loss of jobs to Americans if given to others”, but you have to recognize instead that complexities of systems can lead to counter-intuitive results. I think you already know this to be true.

        • Peter says:

          I’m not sure I understand the argument here. None of us want illegal immigrants here. I think we agree that rounding up millions of people already here isn’t the point – it is limiting new illegal immigration. We all acknowledge that illegal immigrants affect the job economy for our current citizens to some degree. If for no other reason that there are more people competing for the same jobs.

          I do find it hard to continue to buy into Steven H’s theory that there are people who are out of work who pass on crap jobs because they pay $8 an hour, but if they were $10 an hour, they would take them. People don’t choose to make $0 an hour over $8 an hour. Or maybe unemployment/welfare pays them too much. Otherwise, the logic makes no sense. If I didn’t have a job and needed money, I’d take whatever job I could get. I wouldn’t say “McDonalds only pays minimum wage, so screw that”.

          • Stevendad says:

            If roofers had to pay $20 an hour I’m pretty sure some people born in the United States would take those jobs. They’re paying five dollars an hour now. Because they can and it’s just good business. That’s what the roofers tell me anyway.I didn’t see any of your articles mention the fact that wages would go up if labor scarcity were more of an issue. You completely discount the people eventually would do almost any job for the right amount of money. Or perhaps the poor are just not willing to do jobs that are difficult and are not the 100% pure of heart abused people that you portray.there has to be some aspect of codependency that allows people to avoid jobs as well. You cannot deny that benefits may be high enough that they just don’t want to do a difficult job.again, my first job was cleaning toilets at 6 o’clock in the morning where they been throwing up in all night. $2.35 an hour. Glad to get it at the time. At what point should we bend over backwards to let people only have “meaningful and easy “jobs?
            I would think that we need to draw a line somewhere and say that anybody that came here before 2016 or some other date can stay on a work visa. would be happy to grant a path to citizenship to those who wish to start the process. However, it is totally unfair to move them all to the front of the line in front of the people that have been waiting appropriately. But at some point, we have to stop the uncontrolled flow.
            This is more government, I’m surprise you’re not up for it SH this is more government control, I’m surprised you’re not up for it SH

          • Steven H says:

            Well first of all, that is not Steven Hs theory, that is Peters distortion of articles that Steven H posted for everyone to discuss, not for everyone to distort and build into straw men. I already stated that I see both sides.

          • Steven H says:

            ” I didn’t see any of your articles mention the fact that wages would go up if labor scarcity were more of an issue. ”
            Then you clearly didnt read the last article or even the snippet i posted from it.
            === to repeat:
            When the supply of workers goes up, the price that firms have to pay to hire workers goes down. Wage trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wage of that group by at least 3 percent.

          • Steven H says:

            “You completely discount the people eventually would do almost any job for the right amount of money. ”
            Lordy stevendad, you dont actually read anything i write do you. Not only do I not discount that fact, I have stated it outright. I am not here to stand in for your fantasy caricature of a liberal. Do I need to create a new persona to post all the crap ideas you attribute to me? Maybe that would be Steven N.

          • Peter says:

            “If immigrants were blocked, would jobs truly go unfilled, or would market adapt by raising wages to fill those jobs?” To be fair, you did pose this as a question….

          • Steven H says:

            Thank you Peter, for reading and noticing. And the reason I posed it as a question was because I consider it a likely probability. I actually think high levels of immigration, both illegal and legal can be a problem for income disparity. At the same time, I wanted to present BOTH SIDES (as stevendad claimed he wanted me to do), and present the evidence that some of the research we hear (immigrants help the overall economy and have almost no impact on wages) CAN be correct while still understating the impact to lower incomes.
            ===
            I understand the usefulness of analogy and simple models, but also dislike using such simplified models to ‘prove’ wrong the efforts of more sophisticated research. In this case both the simple and complex models make sense together when you understand their limitations.

        • Stevendad says:

          There does not have to be displacement, but there has been. That’s a big reason why Trump was elected.
          Please just admit this is a policy to import future Democratic voters. I’m really tired of the moral superiority argument.
          I Think it would be very difficult to prove and an unsound economic argument that providing more of something ( unskilled labor ) drives the cost up. I also find it very unlikely that there is no level of pay that would get people off the couch. These two things together lead to a fairly simple conclusion that there is some level that people eventually would find to work “dirty jobs”. However, as I’ve said before, given the hard-working nature and conservative moral nature of his panic this is likely to backfire in the future somewhere around 10 years, once this whole 11 million illegal aliens presently here is settled out. So suddenly, Latinos will become much more Republican.
          And if you just worried about economic growth, see the previous comment where we could have 1% more economic growth of which is scaled-back the cost of federal regulations by 10%.

          • Stevendad says:

            Hispanics

          • Steven H says:

            Perhaps some Dem leaders see avote strategy in immigrants just as GOP leaders see a vote strategy in blocking paths to citizenship and making it harder for young and poor to vote. But I will not “admit” it is the strategy of Dem rank and file, because that would be incorrect.

  • Steven H says:

    I posted this elsewhere but it was intended for the top. I’ll see if its me post again …
    Found this comment regarding healthcare. It makes a good point. I tried to say something similar but this is better.
    ===
    : What is beyond me is how anyone thinks the free market can properly handle health insurance. the rest of the planet figured out like half a century ago that the free market sucks at that because insurance isn’t like other commodities. the profits motives are all reversed.
    If I’m selling… let’s say cars… what does my ideal customer look like? First of all, they drive a lot. They NEED my product. and they will use it often, which translates to more service providing replacement parts and maintenance on top of the fact that they recognize that it is worth paying me for the car in the first place. So I am going to gear my efforts towards providing the segment of the population with the greatest need for my product with what they are looking for, because that’s in my own best business interest. I make a good profit, society get’s it’s needs met, everyone happy, nation ticks along relatively well.
    If I’m selling health insurance what does my ideal customer look like? Someone who USES health insurance a lot? Hell no. Because they do NOT make me more money. They COST me more money… in direct proportion to how much services they use. So where is my motive to gear my business towards meeting the greatest needs of society in my business sector? It simply does not exist. My profit motive is in the opposite direction. I want to sell my services to the people who need them LEAST while doing everything in my power to avoid having the people who need my services most as my customers.
    That should be ridiculously, painfully obvious to anyone who thinks about it for even a couple minutes. Which is why I am always left astounded when people in the US bust out these claims that what we obviously really need to fix health care is to just turn the free market loose on it. That’s lunacy. Doing that will give you a very, very profitable health insurance industry of course… but they’re not going to be making those profits trying as hard as they can to make sure sick people get health care, that’s for damn sure.
    ===

    • Stevendad says:

      A totally free market wasn’t included in my solutions in March. One can only have a free market if we’re willing to let people die or get sicker because they have no insurance. We don’t. Go to the ER and even if you’re here illegally, you get care. Again the least efficient portal, but nonetheless an open door.

      • Steven H says:

        Are you saying that letting people die per their own free choice is an acceptable but unfortunate side effect of the higher virtue of having a totally free market, and that the net positives of the totally free market outweigh those negatives?
        Im just trying to parse your post.

        • Peter says:

          I’d rather take away Federal support of people to retire than health support.

        • Stevendad says:

          That’s a complete distortion of what I said. I’m saying no one is ever allowed to die without treatment in my experience. Not in my 35 years of doing this. You’re just not paying attention. People get the critical health care they need. I know your personal family situation was one where you felt more could be done by the healthcare system. There is a massive hole for substance-abuse and mental health. I do not deny that at all. Oklahoma passed laws that specifically address saving money in corrections by changing drug laws and pushing that money towards mental health care. Hopefully others can do that as well. Interestingly, this was passed by state voters directly. None of the legislators were willing to do so.
          I have yet to see anyone not get a coronary bypass, or chemotherapy, or any other life and death procedure that they needed due to the fact they do not have money in their pockets.

          • Steven H says:

            And yet studies repeatedly show increased mortality for those without health insurance. Perhaps it is not the critical surgery they need. But screenings, medicines, doctor appointments are expensive without insurance and so they get cut. You must know this happens.

  • Steven H says:

    Ok we are going round in circles again. Same old arguments. But to correct any misconceptions. You should know these are my positions but I want to be clear. I know we disagree, but maybe we can move on to another subtopic.
    1) I dont think spending on govt gets us to Nirvana. It is just a tool we should fund adequately, and a means to implement national priorities.
    2) We should pay our bills first, find expenses to cut second. That means raising taxes on those who can pay. Paying our bills is not giving government more money. It is paying what we owe. Increasing spending is a different topic.
    3) Tax burden is not too large for rich. They have a big tax share because they have a big income share. Upper 1% receives almost 20% of the entire economy as income, almost as much as the entire federal government. I believe the mismanagement of that income played a big part in the last few recessions. Government may be inefficient but so was the use of that money. The rich investors have paid higher effective tax rates on smaller hoards in the past, and they can pay more now if society deems it necessary.
    4) We have national needs that require investment. We can be smart about efficiency, corporate partnership, and tax incentives, but we should also consider additional smart spending.
    5) Deriding government as hopelessly corrupt and inefficient is popular political rhetoric but does not help solve our problems.

    • Peter says:

      Every time to get to a place in the argument you don’t like you go back to a restatement of your original manifesto….and we start down the same path again. This is maddening. Come on…..

      • Steven H says:

        I’m not trying to avoid anything except misunderstanding.
        Speaking of avoidance …, you never answered my question about how you misinterpreted my other post into being a conflation of value of the lower 20% of earners.

    • Steven H says:

      I just don’t like the descent into name calling and stretching of my position into something it isn’t. That’s the only reason for the restatement.

    • Peter N says:

      Aaarggh! Are you guys still at it? Steven H, why do the top 1% get 20% of the money? Do they rob people? Do they use extortion? No one is holding a gun to people’s head to “give” them their 20%. Yet libtards think they have a right to hold a gun to the heads of the top 1% and for then to pay half the federal taxes.
      http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/13/top-1-pay-nearly-half-of-federal-income-taxes.html
      The libtards what to kill the golden goose. If the top 1% decide they have had enough then what?

      • Steven H says:

        If all the top 1% died in a plague, we would replace them with the next 1%. No problem.

        • James says:

          If the poor died in a plague we would replace them with the next 20%. No problem.

        • Stevendad says:

          What if they left and took their money with them? That’s a HUGE chunk of our national wealth.

        • Peter N says:

          “If all the top 1% died in a plague, we would replace them with the next 1%. No problem”
          You are stupid. You don’t know what you don’t know.
          Why don’t 1% of the libtards solve all the libtard problems?
          They don’t, they can’t. All the libtards want to do is to regulate those that can.

          Steven H, I have made this point before. You have NEVER REFUTED IT!

      • A Tad Glib says:

        Individuals in the top 1% are not the problem. They’ve just got too dam much money and it is not being invested as efficiently as if it were elsewhere in the economy. How did they get it? Accumulation of capital, wage suppression, bending the rules in their favor, war on drugs to arrest and harass large swaths of the population, general behavior of people who think they are better than everybody else and have the money and means to attack others while scooping up all the wealth they can. You know, normal rich-tard stuff. Not the hard workers like you of course. Its those other guys.

      • Stevendad says:

        We just can’t stop being irresistible force to his immovable object.

    • Stevendad says:

      National priorities according to whom?
      The government excels at spending money and sucks at cutting back. Surely you agree with that?
      I’ve suggested taxing the rich and those who cheat the system, not just pounding away at income taxes until it feels “fair” to the Left.
      The government is not hopelessly corrupt of inefficient, but they can see it from where they are…
      To whit: we either have a campaign that colluded to win by selling out to a foreign power or a party that with their media cronies is willing to spend millions and damage America for purely political aims. One MUST be true. So somebody is pretty darn corrupt.
      The state dept “lost” $6000 million dollars per the IG. Just don’t know where it went…. do businesses do that a lot? And wouldn’t the IRS be crawling up their rear ends if they did? Also see Peter’s example on year end spending. Etc, etc, etc…

      • Peter says:

        National priorities is a dangerous term. Lots of what Trump is doing is labeled “national priorities” because a bunch of people want it. Steven H is ignoring all of our stories about Fed spending by the way. Not sure why he wants so badly to believe that the government is righteous. It’s a freaking mess….

      • Steven H says:

        “To whit: we either have a campaign that colluded to win by selling out to a foreign power or a party that with their media cronies is willing to spend millions and damage America for purely political aims. One MUST be true. So somebody is pretty darn corrupt.”
        Or we have an incompetent self-serving egotistical President who enabled and benefitted from Russian interference without technically colluding, and we have concerned politicians on both sides of the aisle, and an honest media who are investigating to find all of the subtle improprieties that are being covered up. That could be true. Let’s go with that one.

        • Stevendad says:

          Nope this argues the constant collusion drumbeat (I saw it brought up a thousand times) was purely a political device designed by the Dems to explain away how awful their campaign and candidate was. Interesting you made that choice… And this has spent millions and led to a weakening of America. That this collusion story was made up is documented in “Shattered” by two embedded Clinton campaign reporters.
          “without technically colluding”. So you agree there was no fire from all that smoke? I can go back, but it’s late and I’ll paraphrase you earlier said collusion was a slam dunk. On to obstruction of justice…. The next political device. That’s so rich given the 30k missing emails and destroyed devices WHILE under investigation by…now who was it?

  • Peter says:

    The answer to every question can’t be “raise taxes on the rich” or “increase spending or debt/GDP”. Mathematics don’t work that way….at what point do we reach your nirvana? Let’s talk in absolutes, rather than comparatively. Because we can always raise or lower – that’s politics in a nutshell and often largely cosmetic. What we can change immediately is running what we have more efficiently.

    An important perspective from inside the government to illustrate this…… There aren’t many government agencies I visit that say “if only we had more money” (EPA might be the only one). You see and hear this very often locally, but almost never federally. In fact, one of the major agencies I work with hires me to teach seminars every year right before the end of the fiscal year. They point-blank told me that they do this because “there is still money in the budget we need to spend”. When I asked why they “needed” to spend it, they said that if they don’t, then in next year’s budget the Fed will take it away from them. If they have $1m to spend and they only need $750k, the Fed will then adjust next year’s budget to $750k. So they spend the $1m.

    In corporate America, if you spend $750k instead of the $1m in your department, you likely get a raise or a promotion. This is not how government works.

    My point is this. With this sort of structure, having our government run huge portions of our society is foolish. (And this is without even considering the partisan gridlock, executive orders, and other nonsense in the way) Hopefully you can see why when I already give the Federal government 40% of everything I earn, I don’t think the solution is giving them 45%.

    • Steven H says:

      At some point you have to at least consider the possibility that failing infrastructure, declined education, and limp economy requires investment. As I have repeatedly pointed out, govt spending has held at anout 21% GDP for decades, with some fluctuation up and down. You keep saying we are spending ‘ more and more’ but in fact we are not. We are just failing to put our monetary wealth into the proper investments. Salaried incomes of the lower echelon of 1% may have effective rates in the 40% range, but upper echelon investors have much lower rate. We can therefore leverage that wealth by (a) incentivizing investments that are helpful to the economy or (b) taxing the income or wealth to pay down debt and invest in national infrastructure.
      We have one of the smaller govt spending to gdp ratios of large civilized countries. Maybe we could do better not being so stingy. The solution is not always bigger govt. But that solution should at least be considered.

    • Peter says:

      Why? When we already have so much waste? Why is the solution always to pour more money into it? Did you not even read the example I gave? This is rampant….. And you don’t need to CONSTANTLY repeat your debt/GDP numbers. Do you realize that I know what they are? That I understand the statistic? Who says we have to stay at 21% of GDP? Why can’t we spend less than that? Again, you can’t mandate that lower-quality-experience-expertise employees make more money and management/innovators/fat cats/whatever make less anyway. And honestly, I’m not sure there is much hope for government reform either. But to think giving a wasteful organization more money is going to help anyone but the autocrats and super-rich is crazy!

    • Steven H says:

      Ive worked at big companies. Departments have the same wateful incentives. It is not unique to govt. Marketing dept spends less than budget, they get less next year.

      • Peter says:

        AAARGGGGHHHH……you just won’t budge! There is an absolute, undeniable, fundamental difference in how the public and private sector works. No clue what industry you are referring to – but it is certainly not true in a long list of them I could rattle off.

        I can acknowledge the advantages of the public sector (lack of profit motive being the biggest one) – why don’t you acknowledge the benefits of the private sector? Government is so utopian in your eyes….or to be more fair – the Democratic part of government is. I’m not saying the private sector is utopian at all – not by any means. I’m not blind to its problems….but in general, I prefer it FAR over the institutionalized political gridlock waste insanity of the public sector.

        There is tremendous waste as well in the private sector. I’m not denying that at all….but there is something called competition and capitalism. You can’t tell me one one hand that corporations are corrupted and motivated by the bottom line but then tell me they waste money too. How do those two things reconcile?

        • Peter says:

          “You can’t tell me one one hand that corporations are corrupted and motivated by the bottom line but then tell me they waste money too. How do those two things reconcile?” – just thought I’d repeat my question.

          And telling me that the private sector isn’t utopian is not news – in fact I said the same thing in my post. It’s the very nature of the public sector to have waste in their budgets though. Which is why giving them more money won’t get the results you are looking for.

        • Stevendad says:

          When I owned my own business, the waste came out of my wallet. That certainly made you more attentive to it.

      • Steven H says:

        Govt is not utopian, but neither is business. Excessive pay to management is a huge inefficiency, for instance. Vonstant drive to build up shareholder value and quarterly profits,at the expense of driving down salaries and benefits is a huge social harm.
        ===
        Competition and capitalism improve certain efficiencies. No doubt about it. Its a really good motivator. When a bunch of small companies compete, I think that system works really well. But some national priorities and utility services cannot EASILY be performed efficiently by private sector in control. Consider health care. The most efficient solution for insurance to keep costs down is to let the sickest die. Or at least to keep them off of ‘your’ insurance plan and force them on to someone elses. When services are requirements and not options, the private capitalist system breaks down.

      • Stevendad says:

        Fantastic! A breakthrough? You admit smaller is better. So local > state > Federal govt would be better as a goal.

    • Stevendad says:

      Agree absolutely. We need to incentivize efficiency, reduce crony capitalism. I’m not sure why these are controversial to SH.

    • Stevendad says:

      . In fact, one of the major agencies I work with hires me to teach seminars every year right before the end of the fiscal year. They point-blank told me that they do this because “there is still money in the budget we need to spend”. When I asked why they “needed” to spend it, they said that if they don’t, then in next year’s budget the Fed will take it away from them. If they have $1m to spend and they only need $750k, the Fed will then adjust next year’s budget to $750k. So they spend the $1m.

      I heard this type of story many times from my three federal government employee family members with almost 100 years of combined experience as well…

  • Stevendad says:

    So, to recap your position Steven H, paid maternity leave required by the (Federal) government; increases in educational expense paid for by the government; restrictions on bathrooms enforced by the federal government; increases in shelter and food expenses for the poor by the government; government mandates on birth control; increases in minimum-wage enforced by the government; healthcare administered by the government; increases in oversight of financial industry by the government. All paid for with increases in taxes on the 1%. Any recurrent theme in here? I’m sure I left out a few ways that the government could be larger. Our fundamental disagreement is if you believe in sending money to the government so that it becomes larger is beneficial in increasing US GDP and “fairness”. I don’t.I think we’re at a or more likely beyond a a reasonable balance.I observe lots of things and lots of industries, but know that the government is not helping us at all with efficiency, improved care or lower costs.I can only hope that you run into some government regulations that will “help” your business soon.

    Certainly there needs to be incentives to be more efficient. Certainly we need to quit spending money we do not have. I can say this without reservation: that the government should not be telling us to eat broccoli or not drink Pepsis.

    • Peter says:

      “Efficiency” is not the government’s specialty. And why would it be with the political landscape the way that it is? I would probably be more supportive – both verbally and financially – of “more government” if I had any respect for how it was run.

    • Steven H says:

      Corrections. Paid parental leave is a program worth considering. Perhaps it is a company cost, not a govt cost. Many companies find it valuable.
      Some of education can be paid with company investment motivated by tax incentives. There should also be limits on costs that federal programs will subsidize. Costs probably need to be regulated or incentivized lower.
      Raising minimum wage will reduce govt food stamp costs.
      Let everybody use whatever bathroom they feel is appropriate. I am AGAINST the restrictive GOP bathroom bills not for them.
      Government mandates on FREEDOM of choice for women, FREEDOM of choice for patients, without religious and moral
      Prudism and oppression by priests and nosey politicians injecting themselves into medical decisions.
      Just a bit of common sense and investment.

      • Peter says:

        Agree on all fronts but minimum wage…unless it is slight or replaces food stamps altogether. Agree on the rest because I’m an open minded non-partisan mofo 🙂

      • Stevendad says:

        Or just more government control. I’m glad the Left is so wise… it wants to spare me the strain that of making any decisions.

      • Stevendad says:

        So tax incentives do not affect the treasury at all? It’s just another way of giving away money for some sort of behavior you think would be good. It’s still not “free”. This is precisely how her text code got injected with thousands of loopholes that makes our corporate tax system so unfair. Business is already work with trade schools and universities to help develop programs for training.

      • Stevendad says:

        Raising minimum-wage also could just move food stamps away from cities and larger towns and into smaller towns as they all are destroyed by the loss of most businesses in this town. Again, these are mostly Republican voters so Democrats like you probably don’t care. Regardless of the motivation, it’s just another example of unintended consequences. Again, I’m only speaking of a federal minimum-wage. San Francisco, Seattle, NY, etc can raise as much as they want if they feel like that is necessary and helpful. Of this they have total control.

      • Stevendad says:

        Parental leave is fine on a business level, I just don’t want another government mandate. I’ve filled out about 500 FMLA forms. How many have you filled out SH? All we need is another government form. Women will vote with their feet. It is being brought up as a part of the Democratic program for government.

        And take away FREEDOM of choice for states, localities and businesses. Always a trade off… I personally don’t think these are huge issues as BC pills are $5-10/ month or free at the health dept. That’s also just a bit of common sense. Your self image of personal wisdom is astonishing.

  • Stevendad says:

    My overriding point, again is that there are principles that you should believe in and that every situation in which you pass a law helps some and harms others. I just see the bathroom issue as another situation in which the Democratic Party is pandering for votes. I’m sure it’s completely coincidental that this is helpful for their LBGTQ community who vote for them and min wage at $15 is harmful to the small-town people who do not. Completely coincidental! It is with the sanctimony of superior intellect and moral authority that this is based on. It is not at all based on politics… Right…

    • Stevendad says:

      And the opposite view: http://nypost.com/2012/09/10/the-maternity-leave-myth/ on maternity leave. Never heard of fast money before.New York Post has its issues for sure. These are anecdotes. I don’t see any study of this. Perhaps there is one available? I thought we were worried about data? I need her saying it’s right or wrong but I’m just not sure that it’s proven. Secondly, their article certainly that decry how poorly the Canadian system works for people who have urgent needs. U.S. News & World Report has an article that shows over 50,000 Canadians came to the United States for treatment. They give an anecdote of a woman who died waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Since anecdotes matter, I thought that we should bring this up. It’s not perfect but probably works for both of the British and Canadians. Americans have drastically different expectations of healthcare. I experience this at least monthly. The VA and other federal systems are shining examples of how poor they work here. I worked in a VA and the lack of accountability was appalling. It was at least five times higher than anywhere else I’ve ever worked. Again, I know you consider yourself an expert as your worked in the VA in the past. Of course, veterans want to keep free care. Who wouldn’t? I don’t have the study in front of me but recently saw that the vast majority he would rather have payment through the private system like insurance than go to the VA. That’s a voucher system, sounds a lot like Ryan care.

      • 7Steven H says:

        Regarding Canadian healthcare system. Most polls find tremendous satisfaction among Canadians with their system. Most of the issues with wait times are for non urgent care, not emergencies. Note also that the wait time in America for chronic care like cancer treatments is infinite if you cannot afford to pay, and have no insurance. There are stats anout how many Canadians opt to get care in US but the number is small. It does not reflect a failure of the Canadian system. Did you know Canadians voted the ‘founder’ of their system a national hero? Thats how much they like their system.
        BTW There are also many instances of US citizens going to other countries to get more affordable surgery or treatments not yet approved here. None of these stats are huge, though.
        Look up opinions of Canadian healthcare from Canadians. It is not a perfect system and you will find some complaints. Overall though, it looks like they have a good and well liked system.

        • Stevendad says:

          People be free cancer care. I am treating someone NOW in the hospital who has NO money for it. You’re inventing “facts”.

          • Stevendad says:

            Get not be.

          • Stevendad says:

            This person will be almost immediately eligible for Medicaid and get $10s of thousands of absolutely free care. This is absolutely appropriate by the way. I’ve never seen anyone with this type of serious illness abandoned to die without treatment. Ever. In 35 years. Have you observed this SH? Yes, those with assets often have to spend for health care from those, but I have seen no one just wither away and dies. We just eat the cost as cost of doing business. This is just political BS.

          • Peter says:

            LOL – it always comes down to the “letting people die” argument. Yet we subsidize corn syrup so people can fill their bodies full of dangerous chemicals every day…..

          • Steven H says:

            Cancer may have been an inappropriate example. But are you saying no one dies in America from lack of health insurance? I have heard that claim but dont believe it.

        • Stevendad says:

          Both have lots of issues. Americans have much higher expectations and would sue the crap out their doctors if they worked on the speed of the Canadian system. Our tort system is a HUGE cost drag, maybe $1/2 trillion a year in defensive medicine. Gee apples don’t taste or look like oranges.

        • Peter says:

          No Canadian will tell you it is good for ER care…..or to have a baby.

        • Peter says:

          The polls don’t say what you think they do. They show Canadians overwhelmingly SUPPORT public health care. It doesn’t say that they have “tremendous satistfaction”.

    • Steven H says:

      Last I’m going to post on this subject this month. This started with local legislation within a city to protect a vulnerable minority. It was the State legislators who took an authoritarian stance and tried to attack that vulnerable minority using justifications of false paranoia about predators, and then made statewide regulations that PREVENTED localities from ruling their own roost and protecting their own citizens. You keep trying to make it as if this is a liberal attack on somebody. It’s not. I don’t even want to claim it as an issue of politics or partisanship. It is an attack by a religiously paranoid uninformed bigoted authoritarian minority of idiots within the population upon a vulnerable minority who do not deserve to be attacked. Believe me they have enough difficulty without this. And the majority of Americans and American businesses do not accept these bathroom bills and will not stand for such an attack on vulnerable citizens. This is why these stupid bathroom bills brought forth by bigots and idiots in the state legislatures will never stand. There are a few legitimate related issues about protecting the sensibilities of school children and I think schools and localities can generally handle them with some guidance from legitimate civil rights rulings. But trans children and adults who dress and act and identify as males should not be forced into the women’s room by some ridiculous bathroom bill. That sort of intrusiveness is just absurd.
      I hope I have not been too subtle about my position.

      • Stevendad says:

        religiously paranoid uninformed bigoted authoritarian minority of idiots. Wow, judge people much? You never responded to the crime committed by a man identifying as a woman reported in NBC news several days ago. Still two sides, even if one is held by “religiously paranoid uninformed bigoted authoritarian minority of idiots”

        • Peter says:

          Kind of an ironic statement from someone who posted some crap about the dangers of “attacking the person vs. the ideas”.

  • Peter says:

    Curious….since you seem to keep bringing the argument back to debt/GDP ratios. We all know why debt/GDP spiked up to 76% in 2008 with the stimulus. Why are we up over 104% now? Answer this without blaming the GOP or applauding Democrats. (Think of the government as one big unhappy marriage)

    • Steven H says:

      First of all, the Obama stimulus was passed in 2009 and primarily implemented from 2009 to 2012 (it did not all get spent in or apply against the budget for the year it was passed). TARP program, passed in end of 2008, was also actually in fiscal 2009. Most people remember it as 700 billion dollars of spending, which was the amount initially authorized. A lesser amount was actually dispersed and all of that was actually eventually recovered at a small profit to government (based on my quick review of Wikipedia). Second, deficits existed before the recession, the recession took revenue even lower, and resistance to tax increases kept those deficits high for several years, driving up debt for several years. Third, when tax increases were passed, they were not as large as requested, and were less than needed to close the deficit to be smaller than economic growth, so debt/gdp continued to increase. Spending did not increase for several years from 2009 on (though this analysis is complicated by the TARP and stimulus spending) and spending was remarkably constrained for a recession. However the debt baseline and the deficit baseline going in to the recession and resistance to adequate tax levels has kept deficits too high.

    • Steven H says:

      So, to be clear, none of the debt/gdp increase in FY 2008 was due to stimulus or TARP as those began to be applied in 2009. 2008 spike was due to tax revenue losses in 2008 due to beginning of recession, and some spending increases implemented by Congress, as well as the delayed implementation costs of Pres Bushs Medicare Part D, which was passed a few years earlier but first came online in 2008 budget.

    • Steven H says:

      Error and deep apologies. I completely forgot there was also a Bush Stimulus in early 2008. It seems to have been about $150B, but I am looking up more precise numbers and impact.

      • Steven H says:

        The cost of 2008 stimulus is a little muddy. There were about $120B of individual tax cuts spread over 2008 and 2009, and additional business incentives such as temporary change in depreciation rules, which would cost 50B in revenue in 2008 an 2009, but was expected to be have 40B recovered in later years when the depreciation would otherwise have been taken. Look it up if that doesn’t make sense.
        ===
        So 2008 budget was impacted by BOTH 2008 stimulus bill and loss of revenue due to the declining economy. But the big revenue hit was in 2009 and 2010 when revenue was about 20% lower than it had been in 2007 and 2008.

    • Steven H says:

      So I am a little interested in how perception and reality diverge. This affected both of us Peter. I forgot about the 2008 stimulus, and I am guessing that you forgot about big revenue drops after 2008 and costs of 2009 stimulus being in 2009 and later (or why else would you have asked why debt continued to climb after 2008?).
      I think a lot of people remember big numbers from the time and were attributing all of the big deficits to spending. Even in the last election I heard people complaining that Obama spent too much and that is why they voted against Dems. People remember: $700B TARP, $800B stimulus of 2009, Trillion dollar deficits. What they don’t remember, or never knew, was that the $700 TARP was more of a credit limit and much less (< $500B) was dispersed and most (or all?) of that was recovered back to the government. The $800B stimulus was $500B spending + $220B temporary tax cuts, + about $70B in an AMT patch that really wasn't stimulus and should not really have been in the stimulus total at all. The Trillion dollar deficits were largely due to the sudden 20% hit in revenue largely from economy itself, accompanied by the need for immediate stimulus spending passed by Bush (2008 package + TARP) and Obama (2009 package) that further hit revenue and added to spending. So it is interesting to me to hear those who think there was unnecessary spending creating deficits in the economic crisis, when spending is actually the prescribed approach to get the economy back on track and most of the deficits were from revenue loss.

    • Peter says:

      5 replies….1000 words…..and you didn’t answer the question. I am aware of how the stimulus worked, how TARP was implemented, etc. But let me rephrase the question…… why are we still over 100% GDP in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017? This is even after the tax hikes on the top earners and economic recovery. Some of these also include a lighter presence in Iraq and certainly they don’t include TARP or stimulus. Explain.

      • Steven H says:

        Short answer: problem is tax resistance. Spending has been restrained. Taxes need to increase just a bit to drop debt/gdp.
        ===
        We started at a HUGE deficit after the 2008 crisis and even though Congress constrained spending from increasing AT ALL for 5 years from 2009, and even though economy is growing again, they would not vote for sufficient tax increases to either balance budget or even to drop the deficit/gdp to less than gap growth. We were so close in 2015, but not quite.
        3.9T spending in 2016 and we were only about 600B shy of balanced budget, or by about 3% GDP. But we don’t need to balance budget. Just dropping deficit by half would get us below economic growth and we could start to make a dent.

      • Steven H says:

        Found this comment regarding healthcare. It makes a good point. I tried to say something similar but this is better.
        ===

        : What is beyond me is how anyone thinks the free market can properly handle health insurance. the rest of the planet figured out like half a century ago that the free market sucks at that because insurance isn’t like other commodities. the profits motives are all reversed.

        If I’m selling… let’s say cars… what does my ideal customer look like? First of all, they drive a lot. They NEED my product. and they will use it often, which translates to more service providing replacement parts and maintenance on top of the fact that they recognize that it is worth paying me for the car in the first place. So I am going to gear my efforts towards providing the segment of the population with the greatest need for my product with what they are looking for, because that’s in my own best business interest. I make a good profit, society get’s it’s needs met, everyone happy, nation ticks along relatively well.

        If I’m selling health insurance what does my ideal customer look like? Someone who USES health insurance a lot? Hell no. Because they do NOT make me more money. They COST me more money… in direct proportion to how much services they use. So where is my motive to gear my business towards meeting the greatest needs of society in my business sector? It simply does not exist. My profit motive is in the opposite direction. I want to sell my services to the people who need them LEAST while doing everything in my power to avoid having the people who need my services most as my customers.

        That should be ridiculously, painfully obvious to anyone who thinks about it for even a couple minutes. Which is why I am always left astounded when people in the US bust out these claims that what we obviously really need to fix health care is to just turn the free market loose on it. That’s lunacy. Doing that will give you a very, very profitable health insurance industry of course… but they’re not going to be making those profits trying as hard as they can to make sure sick people get health care, that’s for damn sure.

    • Steven H says:

      Other reason I left out was slow revovery. If we were sustaining a 2.5 or 3 % gdp growth rate we would be closer to, or at a point of paying down debt/gdp.
      I went into the long explanations because the way you posed the question made it sound as if the big jumps in spending and losses in revenue were in 2008, when in fact both peaked in 2009 to 2010.

      • Stevendad says:

        Food for thought… a 10% drop in Fed regulation (cost ~$2T) would lead to over 1% more growth. That would get us over the 3% hump…

      • Peter says:

        Nope….because I don’t care about trying to make the ridiculous case that any of this has to do with the president or a party.

  • Peter says:

    I want to repost something I just said a few days ago regarding government: The intent initially is noble, Then politics get involved and people who know nothing about the subject (education, healthcare, financial services, intelligence, etc.) get put in positions to “fix it”. They just don’t “get” how it works.

    I think is at the heart of my argument against Steven H’s belief that government is usually the solution over private industry. Private industry has some major flaws as well – greed, protection of self-interests, etc. but does a far better job of running the businesses they are in. Government’s role should be to monitor and regulate – and the people doing so should be people from that industry, or at least with a working knowledge of the industry they oversee.

    This is not a radical idea. Nor is it partisan.

    • Steven H says:

      Well, now I get to do a correction. I think government has a role WITH private industry. And while government can always be smarter, I am pretty sure that most of the govt regulators actually do have knowledge of the industry they regulate. It’s a difficult balance of course. You want people with industry knowledge and sympathy, but not so much sympathy that they fail to do their job.
      ===
      I do object to people getting put in charge who are ignorant of their task or actually in opposition to it. (Head of EPA comes to mind.) By the way, this is actually why I am against term limits for Congress. The last thing we need is for the only experienced cognizant people on the hill to be the lobbyists. Experience, knowledge, and dedication to the job is important in government as in any other task.

    • Steven H says:

      Economic Left/Right: -4.13
      Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.87
      Just remember. Being in the center of two extreme positions does not necessarily make you correct.
      😉

      • Stevendad says:

        So you came out more libertarian then authoritarian? That’s interesting given your ideas about government becoming more and more involved in our lives based on your past ideas. Based on your past ideas…. i’m not critical of your finding, just a little surprised. Your Left Right ended up about where I thought. I certainly have met many that are left of you.

        • Stevendad says:

          I like to think that I’m correct because I am. I have no proof of any of this being the best answer, just ideas. I would think, however, that sitting in the center would give you a better view of both sides.

          • Peter says:

            Agreed.

          • Steven H says:

            It would be interesting to know what the median and averages are across the population on this test. I suspect it is not pre calibrated. I’m sure we would find vastly different averages in urban and rural areas …

          • Steven H says:

            Just as long as you don’t mistake centrist for correctness.

  • Peter says:

    Another great example of the insanity of our argument,….. we all generally agree on increased focus on education to better prepare people for jobs in the information age. But do we want the government doing this?

    Anyone with a kid in school right now will be wary of this. Due to the common core standardized testing put in by our government, teachers have too much pressure to teach to these tests. Problem is – the tests are about one or two months before the year ends. When they end, teachers can shut down for the year. My kids go to one of the top public school systems in the entire nation. Yet they have spent days/weeks of their schooling watching movies, coloring and playing games. I don’t remember EVER doing this when I was in school.

    This is just another example of how jacked up our government is. The intent initially is noble, Then politics get involved and people who know nothing about education (DeVos, Hillary, etc) get put in positions to “fix it”. Same thing happens in healthcare, financial (Dodd Frank), and now even in intelligence. The people that are in charge of our intelligence community now are not people from that world. They just don’t “get” how it works.

    Politicians and government and party has totally overstepped their bounds. Which is to be expected when they have trillions of dollars to spend. I just can’t see any logic in giving more money to these inefficient, inexperienced, politically motivated people to try and reform entire industries or parts of our society. The government just has a way of making it “appear” like they are helping, but in reality making it worse for all invoked. The education system is a great example, but there are countless others.

    • Peter says:

      And by the way….the coloring I’m referring to is in HIGH School. Not Kindergarten.

    • Steven H says:

      Let me state I am not an expert on Common Core, nor an advocate of standardized testing as currently implemented. Bush’s ‘ No Child Left Behind’ and Obama’s ‘Race To The Top’ are both, I believe, too focussed on standardized testing. Excess testing and reliance on testing to monetarily reward schools and teachers, has hurt our school system. I should mention however, that there may be some misconception about Common Core. It is not a federal guideline, has no tie to the federal programs just mentioned, and does not compel standardized testing. It is a state originated and driven program to provide common goals for grades. Each state can use them or not, and apply them however they want.. If implemented well, it would make transitions of students from one state or school system to the next easier.
      ===
      As I said, I am no expert and have only read up on this a little. I agree standardized testing has gone too far. But common core may be a false bogeyman.

    • Steven H says:

      ‘The government’ has always taken care of public education. I think you may mean that federal government should be less intrusive. As for your other examples of government failure, I think you are a little too extreme about your assertion that government is universally bad. There was an honest and rather effective attempt in implementing Obamacare. The starting point was a plan that was designed by conservatives, hearings were held for months with experts of multiple perspectives involved, discussions with insurance and health industry went for months, ideas from Republicans such as those posted on Boehners own website were incorporated. Its a pretty good system and is working well in many states. Of course, anything can be sabatoged from the inside and that is what GOP is doing. It isnt that government cannot do things right, but hyper partisanship can destroy even the best plans. Most of the states where it is failing are states where the Republicans were never interested in its success. Other states, where Medicaid was expanded, where state exchanges were set up well and advertised, where local politicians have an interest in success, are doing fine.
      In fact the govt system, where it is being supported, is still much better than the private system that preceded it.

      • Steven H says:

        And to be honest, we still have a private system, but with some reasonable government rules and with some subsidies to help get more people on board.
        Compare all of this to GOP plan as it has been pushed so far, where there has been MORE back room dealing, exclusion of other party ideas, and a complete subversion of the current system, chopping at its pillars and then complaining of the structure. Yes that is government at its worst.

      • Peter says:

        “It isnt that government cannot do things right, but hyper partisanship can destroy even the best plans”.

        This may be true. Then why do you perpetuate this? Why don’t you try and help take partisanship out of the discussion. Even your last reply brought a whole bunch of partisan stuff into our discussion when it wasn’t needed. It’s funny how many of your posts are critical of who YOU are. Do you not see this?

        • Steven H says:

          And you also do this.

          • Peter says:

            I would NEVER be described by someone as hyper-partisan. I’m a lot of things, but that is definitely not one of them.

        • Steven H says:

          There was nothing partisan in my last post. It is all based on factual information. You can be honest and factual and still crticize one party over another. Non partisan does not mean believing two sides equally. It means criticizing each side fairly and honestly. There is no virtue in being centrist on an issue between the correct answer and the wrong answer.
          ===
          And no I am not saying Dems are always right. What I am saying with regard to the health care debate is that Dems held a LOT of hearings and had a plan that was worked out over a long time with a lot of input. Repubs falsely claimed it was rushed through with no GOP insight or input. But now they are actually doing what they complained about but several times worse; restricting discussion and input and rushing votes vefore people notice what they are voting on. This is hypocrisy and it is not partisan to recognize it.

          • Peter says:

            You are incorrect that I do this. You are making this a political issue when the true problem doesn’t lie in the Democrats vs. Republicans debate. Both sides see the way the incompetence played out differently. I am no authority on who was more stubborn, more complicit, more unreasonable. And I don’t care. All I know is no matter who has been in the White House or Congress for the past two decades, we have had the same results. And they have been poor. So why don’t we keep the debate away from Dems vs Reps for a bit. It hurts your arguments because of your extreme partisanship. Or at least it turns me off….maybe others don’t care. I’ll just check out when it comes to this and let someone else (maybe Stevendad) debate with you the merits of the two parties vs each other. All I know is the government’s results are not good.

          • Steven H says:

            Peter, there are factions within each political party and your economic policy aligns tightly with some of them. You may test centrist and claim to despise both parties, but you still line up with the small government conservative wing of the GOP on most economic issues. You are not as hard line on taxes, but otherwise are very predictably loyal to the partisan ideas of this group.
            ===
            This brings us to the issue of what it means to even be partisan or to accuse others. At its worst, partisanship would be acceptance of what you are told from a partisan faction without coming to your own conclusions. I dont do this and I dont think you do either. And I must admit it really psses me off to be accused of it. A milder version is being unduly influenced by partisan rhetoric and arguments around us and not investigating sources thoroughly as we should. None of us think this happens to ourselves and we are probably all wrong about that to varying degrees. Then, the mildest form of partisanship is thinking for ourselves, coming to our own conclusions, but being so entrenched in our ideas and reenforced by the the knowledge that other like minded partisans agree with us that we find it difficult to accept new information. All of us do this. And those who are most guilty are least likely to see it in themselves.
            ===
            When you take the position that all government is incompetent, that costs need to be cut across the board, that government cannot or should not be relied upon to help lift up the poor at the expense of the rich, that is a type of partisan loyalty to small
            Govt conservatives. But you say that is just your opinion? Well my ‘partisan’ opinions are just as validly held. I have worked at researching information and stats to acquire my opinions, and yes I do take some comfort when others agree. But I am here, as you and stevendad are, to challenge my assumptions against other ideas. And it would be helpful if you would stop repeatedly resorting to accusations of partisanship as if you are the holy grail of centrist unbiased truth.

          • Peter says:

            “When you take the position that all government is incompetent, that costs need to be cut across the board, that government cannot or should not be relied upon to help lift up the poor at the expense of the rich”

            Not my position. Let me edit. Government is not the answer to all of our problems. Government runs more inefficiently than private industry, particularly in the last 20 years. Costs need to be cut in a lot of places where there is waste, not indiscriminately. And the government already plays an enormous role in providing a floor to our poor and struggling citizens, largely funded by the richest Americans.

            You are labeled as partisan because you constantly mention the GOP as the black hats and the Dems as the white hats. Maybe if you didn’t do that OVER and OVER we would just respect your opinions. But you are like the sports fan wearing the jersey and the hat and with face paint telling us why your team is best. My approach is more like the TV analyst in a suit analyzing the game. I still have my biases, but my opinions will be more respected than the guy in the face paint.

          • Steven H says:

            Well stated as a whole, but I still have to object to an earlier statement which expresses a repeated theme: “All I know is no matter who has been in the White House or Congress for the past two decades, we have had the same results. And they have been poor. ”
            So you are equating Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama as all doing pretty much the same thing and producing the same quality results. I don’t see how you could find this to be true for any subject. There isn’t one piece of policy that is common to all 3. On budget, your dearest subject, Clinton had budget surpluses, the other two had deficits, although for completely different reasons. On economy, foreign relations, tax policies, budgetary policies, regulations, social policies, you could hardly find more diversity in approach. Perhaps you could clarify how these 3 are “all the same”.
            ===
            “And the government already plays an enormous role in providing a floor to our poor and struggling citizens, largely funded by the richest Americans.”
            I would support the validity of that statement more if the govt representatives of the richest Americans were not continually trying to lower that floor or cut it completely way from so many poor.

          • Peter says:

            To be fair, I was really referring to the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. I don’t think there is much debate that the Reagan, Bush 1 and Clinton administrations ran much more smoothly than the last three. (Although the seeds were planted in the Clinton administration with the government shutdown).

            Remember, my statement (if you read it) was that government has ran more inefficiently than private industry in the last 20 years. I didn’t equate the policies of Bush, Obama and Trump. But I will equate the amateurish, bull-headed inefficiency of all three administrations.

            As far as trying to “lower” or “eliminate” the floor….the systems that create the floor need reforming. They are unsustainable and always need revision and reform. Every time someone tries to touch them we don’t need to cry foul. As a very rich person, I can’t get my head around the idea that with all that I have, I would make it a crusade to try and take more money from those that have failed in society or are struggling to survive. That said, if I publicly suggested reforming a broken system that might actually save these people in the long run, you might accuse me of doing just that.

          • Peter says:

            “There isn’t one piece of policy that is common to all 3” – I would throw out a few….warmongering/middle east policy, increasing debt, inability to work with congress, unilateral actions/executive orders. Of course I said “White house and congress”. Congress has largely been the exact same during the entire period. Voting along party lines, blocking whatever the President wants, etc.

  • Stevendad says:

    Just to go back a few months, I also think we need a set a schedule to eliminate the debt. And to increase taxes across the board (or even reduce EIC?) when Congress over spends. It would have a direct effect on your withholding and checks when they fail. That would bring some accountability. It’s all just some “funny money” now and will be catastrophic when it becomes “real” in some short period of time. Again, the poor and middle class will suffer far and away while the rich go around buying up assets at fire sale prices. Just like 2009 where they bought up houses they have turned into income streams making them richer.

    We need to leave personal rates the same, modestly reduce corporate taxes in some revenue neutral way, roll back regulations that are unduly costly and not productive and raise some taxes (we’ve worn that out). Just my opinion again.

    • Steven H says:

      I agree we need to pay down debt/gdp as we did successfully for about 35 years after WW2. You and I may disagree about whether we need to ‘eliminate’ debt or fully balance the budget (zero deficit), but where we can agree is in a mechanism that forces taxes to rise (perhaps by proportionally increasing marginal income tax rates and capital gains taxes) when spending and revenue get too far apart. With the usual exceptions during recessions and economic crises of course. It would force some accountability.
      ===
      As a reminder, you can actually pay down debt/gdp with a deficit, as long as the deficit is less than economic growth. This is considered more economically efficient than fully balancing the budget.

      • Peter says:

        If that was your strategy then you would have to dramatically cut spending in a recession…..which is the worst thing you can do to alleviate it. Sorry but your idea just doesn’t work practically. Debt/GDP is an important statistic but not as simple a measure or solution as you wish it to be.

        • Stevendad says:

          My point is it has to be addressed and if we all IMMEDIATELY felt the pain, not in some far off “maybeland” we might actually be motivated to hold our representatives accountable. I hope you agree that the debt doubling in 30, (relative to GDP) in 25-30 more years would be catastrophic. And if you mix in unfunded liabilities it will…

          • Steven H says:

            I don’t believe that the either the budget conservatives OR the moderate Dems would allow doubling our debt/GDP. Taxes will increase or programs will be cut, but I would be very surprised if debt/gdp rises greatly over next ten years. Of course, if the tax cutters get their way, they could do a lot of damage …

          • Steven H says:

            But I agree with the immediate accountability part.

          • Stevendad says:

            Doubling to 125% of GDP is according to CBO by 2035-45

          • Steven H says:

            If we stick with current policy, sure. So let’s change policy. Raise taxes now and invest in infrastructure while interest rates are low. Invest in education now, with tax incentives to get businesses involved in training people for their industry. Raise minimum wage now to give people a decent wage and get them off food stamps. We need to get off of this kick that our government is currently in about cutting Medicaid and giving tax cuts to the rich again. Same old record. Same old failed policy.
            ===
            There is a bridge in Washington state called the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It failed dramatically when first built. Look it up, the youtube video is amazing. There is an anecdotal story, probably not true, that the governor proclaimed he was going to build the same damn bridge in the same damn place with the same damn design. And then the engineer said “If you do that sir, it will do the same damn thing.” Tax cuts to the rich do not work. You and Peter seem Ok on that point but still seem bent on this austerity thing. I am all for efficiency. But consider maybe, possibly, it would not be such a terrible thing for spending to go up 1 or even 2 more GDP % points, and taxing go up to pay for it, so that we can actually implement the ideas we have been discussing NOW and not 2 generations from now.

        • Steven H says:

          Debt/GDP statistic is not a “solution” nor a trick or silver bullet. It is simply a metric that is useful to help illustrate a point. You do not HAVE to balance the budget (zero out deficits) or have a plan to eliminate the debt (zero balance) in order to have a sound economy. Whatever pain is induced, by tax increases and cost cutting that would be necessary to balance budget and plan to eliminate debt, may be cut in HALF by instead simply resolving to reduce Debt/GDP reliably over time. Not only that, but excess frugality in the form of reducing national investment or excessively raising taxes in order to truly balance the budget can result in LOST economic growth, therefore hurting rather than helping the economy and lengthening rather than shortening the pay down process.
          ===
          My focus on reduction of Debt/GDP as opposed to raw dollars is not a partisan thing. It is a mathematical and economic thing, and one which I think someone of your (Peter) financial analysis skills should readily recognize and endorse.

          • Peter says:

            Of course I recognize it. You keep hammering me about that but I don’t disagree with you. I disagree with your application of the statistic and your logic you follow about deficits. You use that stat to explain away the massive spending increases of the government (not just your party) of the last two decades. And you think that as long as spending increases with GDP growth we are ok. This is completely untrue. You have to cut when times are good – to protect against recession when it is far more damaging to cut. I’ve tried to explain all this many times.

          • Steven H says:

            And I also agree that you should pay down more debt/gdp in good times so you have margin in crises. But if you ever agreed with the point about debt/gdp in the past, you NEVER stated it. When i was getting pounded by Peter N and others that GDP was not even a valid metric of anything, you never once stated the moderate position, and even validated the “GDP deniers” in one of the posts. It seems, like stevendad stated recently, you felt it more important to take the polar opposite position to anything that I stated, rather than seek out a moderate compromise or to admit any single point i had that might be correct.
            ===
            Reducing Debt/GDP is a valid approach. Nice to know we agree. Why did it take so long to state it?

          • Peter says:

            I don’t disagree with the statistic. I disagree with all the dots you connect to and from it. Still do. We need to reduce actual government spending on all front steps. Spinning it back to reducing debt/GDP is no different than politicians like Trump saying that their tax cuts will be offset by economic growth. Its political BS, which I know you are fond of, but it has no place in economics.

          • Steven H says:

            I agree that attacking people instead of ideas is unproductive. Write that on the board 20 times.
            ===
            On this issue I am not connecting any dots to political BS. I am trying to get concensus on a simple mathematical issue that has everything to do with math and economics and nothing to do with politics. Your political opinions on smaller government and the need to reduce dollar spending are fine for you to proclaim, but they are still opinions and are still political. The concept that you can and should choose reduction of debt/gdp over reduction of dollar debt in a growing national economy is supported by economists and common sense principle and experience. Once you reach a point where you are paying down debt/gdp, then additional spending cuts or tax increases may become a drain on the economy. As I have noted multiple times, we paid down debt/gdp for 35 years after ww2 and yet raw debt increased. This was very likely the best decision for the economy as it freed up investment dollars into the economy and infrastructure. So it seems wholly inappropriate to attack me and inject your political opinions into the post while accusing me of politics. But I will offer you another chance. Can you offer me a non political economic and mathematical reason why paying down raw dollar debt is superior to paying down debt/ gdp. And please refrain from the personal insults and, as you called it, political BS.

          • Steven H says:

            Here is my offering of an apolitical economic article from Forbes as a point of discussion.
            http://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2015/06/03/youre-wrong-if-you-want-to-reduce-the-national-debt/

          • Peter says:

            Because GDP doesn’t grow every year…..and we have recessions. If we have enormous high dollar debt – obligations we are committed to for decades – and then go through a severe economic downturn, then we are in big trouble. We can’t pay the bills and debt/GDP will skyrocket. We survived the last downturn by printing money and artificially holding interest rates down. This was done so severely that the dollar become wobbly and our country’s credit rating got reduced. But now that we broke the glass and used the fire extinguisher, we lose the ability to do it again. UNLESS – we have positive GDP growth for a while and reduce the real dollar debt. Not the deficit – the DEBT. But we have been missing that opportunity because of our political system. Nobody wants to be the guy who says “we are going to save now” and quit spending so much. It just isn’t ever going to be popular politically, so we will keep spending more and more until eventually a recession happens and we don’t quite survive it without major collapses or cuts to things like Medicare and SS – the very things that hurt the poor.

      • Steven H says:

        “If that was your strategy then you would have to dramatically cut spending in a recession…..which is the worst thing you can do to alleviate it.”
        I absolutely agree. That is why Obama’s $500B in spending stimulus and about $200B in temporary tax cuts were so important, necessary, and helpful to the economy.

        And as I said, the automatic tax increases would only be implemented “With the usual exceptions during recessions and economic crises of course. ”
        ===
        I do realize there is difficulty with the uncertainty of fluctuating tax rates. This might be a strategy to be applied when using the 10 year planning budget, and tax rates only actually adjusted once in a President’s 4 year term.
        ===
        I have not seen a plan like this fully worked out. And I certainly do not have one. But it is worth exploring. It is not inherently unworkable by design. However, it would need a lot of refinement, and I do see that it is questionable whether a divided Congress which agrees on so little would have difficulty making the compromises necessary to pass a functional version of such a bill. And if they could compromise to pass such a bill, we would probably then not need it.

        • Steven H says:

          grammatical glitch (double negative) above.
          certain that Congress would have difficulty …
          or questionable whether Congress would have success …
          is what I meant.
          Not: questionable whether Congress would have difficulty …

  • Steven H says:

    Here is an alternative to increasing taxes on the wealthy. Provide some other costs and incentives to move more income to the middle class. Yes to education programs. Yes to training programs. If government is not taxing to subsidize these programs then money comes from elsewhere. Don’t cut the corporate tax rate directly. Don’t give away that revenue for free. Use corporate tax incentives to compel companies to work with and subsidize programs in higher education that feed their industry. Give incentives to compel and encourage companies to train and educate their own programs directly. There is no reason for companies to complain that fully trained and educated new hire candidates are not piling up on their front door. They need trained people? Let them do the training. Also give tax incentives based on management to avg worker salary ratios. Reward companies who cut their own internal income slopes, including all management pay, stock, and benefit incentives. Enact board of director rules which require labor representation on the board. Like Germany does. Enact paid parental leave policies. Enact universal healthcare policy which will ultimately save money for business and government and remove a big headache from small company personnel management. Raise the FLSA overtime threshold as per Obama proposed policy. Raise minimum wage. Strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These are all policies which will strengthen the middle class. Once that happens, the country will be more prosperous, the economy will grow faster, and the poor, the middle, and the rich will all be better off.

    • Steven H says:

      And in the interest of presenting both sides…
      Yes I know that the above policies are not directly favorable or desirable to business leaders. A business leader is only interested in portions of the total business equation however. Income. Sales. Expenses, taxes, capital investment and return. Certain unknowns are assumed to be constant. Like the availability of a customer base that will buy product. Availability of infrastructure in which to operate. Stability and growth of the overall economic system. To a businessman these are somebody elses business. And yet these other factors are all tradeoffs against the businessman priorities, and can actually decline if all policy serves business priorities in isolation. Cut taxes too low and infrastructure cannot be maintained, if all businesses cut payroll too low, customer base declines. Let all businesses operate without social or labor constraints and the entire economy declines. Somewhere in the middle is the proper compromise. The pendulum has swung too far to the advantage of big business, banks, and billionaires. It must swing back sometime soon, IMHO.

    • Peter says:

      You should have stopped with just the first post. There isn’t much wrong with what you said there…..can’t say that I disagree with much of it. If anything, I question the last third of it where you are enacting things like a universal health care plan – which as we have seen, is not the government’s forte. It is ideal though – if they could work together and avoid catering to big business. That’s kind of the “elephant in the room” in my opinion. Ideology like yours above is not incorrect at all – in fact, it is noble. But the reality of our political landscape is that those very big business leaders you say will “oppose” this (it’s not all of them, by the way) will influence our politicians to the point where either nothing gets done by the government OR it is done in a clumsy, unsustainable way (like the ACA).

      But in summary, I agree with exploring everything you wrote right up until the Like Germany Does statement. Everything after that might be worth exploring but I fear too political of a solution. I pretty much disagree with all of your follow up post. Don’t know any businessmen who think “availability of a customer base” is a constant. That post is you trying to twist it again that the bottom 20-30% of our society income-wise are as valuable or more valuable to our economy as the business owners, 1%’ers and job creators. I don’t agree.

      • Peter says:

        But that sounded too negative…. I commend you for the first part of the post. That was a great non-partisan way to look at genuinely solving the problem.

        • Stevendad says:

          Agree to most. However, most feel an upper teens % corporate tax can be revenue neutral if we eliminate all the bought and paid for favoritisms and loopholes. At some point we have to compete for corporations across the world and high taxes discourages them basing here. Or we can pass punitive taxes to leave like Bernie wants. Sounds a bit banana republic to me. Ironic Bernie wants to “build a (financial) wall” for the opposite reason/ to imprison corps in our crappy business environment. An environment he wishes to make worse. Of course, again it is all just pandering to raise money and get votes, IMHO.

      • Steven H says:

        I’m very pleased that we can agree on the first part of my first post above, and that you even see some merit in exploring the latter third of that post. And I agree there are political hurdles getting things done right and getting decent policy past the powerful lobbyists.
        ==
        Frankly, moving income to middle class in this way is preferable in that it actually increases income of middle class rather than just reduce after tax income off uppermost income class.

      • Steven H says:

        As for critique of second post, I am honestly confused. I expected criticism, but not very much, and not the criticism you offered.
        The meat of the post is in this phrase:
        “these other factors are all tradeoffs against the businessman priorities, and can actually decline if all policy serves business priorities in isolation.”
        I don’t even see this as controversial or partisan at all. As an example, if all minimum wage and overtime work-week limits and other labor protections were removed (which no one is proposing), common wages and living standard of the lower 75% or so would decrease as the upper 5% or so increased. And my assertion is that the business climate would decline and social climate and structure would also decline if such policies that ONLY fed business priorities were exercised. That’s an extreme illustration but is the essence of the post.
        ===
        The post said and implied absolutely nothing about the lower quintile, nor of their value to society, and yet you found something offensive seemingly hidden between the lines where even the author of the post cannot find it. Explain, please.

      • Steven H says:

        And by the way, there was no overt or hidden or implied dig against businessmen in the post. If that is what offended you, you are misreading my intent. My assumption is simply that business deals with what it can control, and it serves its own interests. Sure, businessmen follow politics and are interested in the economy, and may even be interested in charitable works. That’s not the point. That is the personal prerogative of the businessmen but not actually what serves the bottom line. Business’s BUSINESS is to make money in the environment that exists, and if businessmen attempt to improve the operating environment for BUSINESS, it generally is done by trying to (a) reduce their own business taxes (b) reduce regulations, (c) reduce payroll, (d) reduce operating costs, and (e) obtain any other favorable economic advantages where they can. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s expected. Business’s job is to make money, not serve society. It is society’s job to put constraints on business so that society’s best interests are also served. I meant nothing more than that, and see nothing offensive in that content. Enlighten me if you see something different.

        • Peter says:

          I wasn’t offended in any way. Just didn’t agree.

        • Steven H says:

          Please explain. You saw something in the post that I did not write. I have a notion that exploring the misunderstanding could be enlightening. But I need to undetstand what in the post made you think that I was referring to the lower 20 or 30% of population or somehow inflating their value to society. What specifically do you disagree with? I dont see it.

          • Peter says:

            The post you wrote in a bubble is just passively insulting. But when you put it in context of all your other posts, it is more so. Your worldview of business owners is a bit slanted – that they are all about profits and care about nothing else. And that they expect and take for granted the constant of a customer base and infrastructure (in other words, they rely on regular people and the Fed government). It’s ridiculous to act as though – if unfettered or regulated – most businesses will run wild and greedily steal everything they can, break rules, and hurt society. You don’t like it when people say that if you have welfare, it de-motivates people to work, do you? It’s really the same thing and it is silly. I didn’t reply because there is no point. You value the government and the infrastructure it provides – along with the “regular joe” – with much higher value to society than the wealthy business owners and job creators. I disagree. All people have value, but when we are talking about what makes an economy go, it is not the government and it is not unskilled laborers or the unemployed.

    • Stevendad says:

      Yes to labor on boards. Should management be on union boards as well? Just a question… Yes to education, but where do you get the money? Scale back EIC and SNAP? Or just keep spending more…How does paid parental leave stimulate the economy? Seems to be a decrease in productivity, but I’d like to see an explanation if it improves it. I’d rather stop subsidizing large corps with handouts for underpaid employees as stated. A national min wage increase is a bad idea and would crush small town businesses. Of course not many voters in small towns, so screw em?!? It’s again fascinating the paradoxes in the Left agenda: failing to protect at most a few hundred thousand gender identity questioners is bad, economically crushing millions in small towns OK. Again UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. Or is crushing the small town (Conservative) voter a conscious decision? And speaking of UC, the Rise of the Machines is another certainty. Universal healthcare is great in concept, but how’s the VA working? We (private medicine) were forced to use electronic prescriptions (usual carrot then stick govt approach). It was done everywhere in 9 months except for 3 pharmacies: VA, local military base and Indian Health Service. Common thread there SH?
      You have two overriding themes SH: if we could just make the Federal govt big enough and tax the rich enough, Nirvana would ensue.

      • Peter says:

        Agreed. The liberal agenda too often is focused on the inner city poor and misses the needs of the middle Americans. Higher minimum wage would be fine to a point, but the $15 number is ludicrous. Add that to bloated costs for mandated healthcare, and small businesses will be forced to shut down or sell to big corporations who can afford the scale. Of course that’s not a surprise….that is who is financing these politicians to try and pass these laws.

      • Steven H says:

        As I mentioned, tax incentives to corporations could help feed money into education. Rather than cut taxes outright, make corporations WORK for their cuts.
        ===
        It is true that even this approach ultimately still cuts revenue to govt which needs to be made up elsewhere.
        ===
        No I don’t think we need to starve the poor by cutting food stamps, to increase education dollars. Consider instead that educating and employing the poor will decrease welfare payments over time.
        ===
        Paid parental leave can improve productivity by keeping experienced employees in the workplace (after a few weeks absence), rather than having them just quit entirely.
        ===
        I still disagree about penalizing companies for underpaid workers. I would rather just mandate a decent minimum wage. It is much more efficient, and generally shown to improve local economies when enacted. National minimum could be targeted to levels needed in rural. Cities should always be allowed to enact something higher. (States should not be allowed to block cities from enacting minimum wage.)
        ===
        It’s again fascinating the paradoxes in the Right agenda: laws attacking at most a few hundred thousand gender identity individuals is important, even though it solves no real social problem, and economically loses millions in state revenue from lost business. Again UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. And policy based on ideology instead of reality.
        ===
        You have two overriding themes stevendad: if we could just make the Federal govt small enough and trust and reward businesses enough, Nirvana would ensue.
        ===

        • Stevendad says:

          This is false. I said over and over again that size of government and the levels of safety nets are at about the right place now. The government and taxes do not need to go up. Some modest belt tightening and some other creative taxes would be very helpful reducing the deficit and ultimately the debt. Ultimately, when the debt bubble bursts, the poor will suffer the most. According to the Congressional budget office we are on the way for this to burst. I keep thinking that you, as a good Democrat, is worried about the poor.

          • Stevendad says:

            And of course, we should re-structure of government to incentivize efficiency as much as possible.

          • Steven H says:

            “This is false.”
            Oh I see. You don’t like having your position stated falsely in order to be portrayed as a straw man extreme political caricature. Funny, that. Neither do I. Remember that.

        • Stevendad says:

          You Completely avoid the fact that millions of people will lose their homes and businesses in small towns. You keep going back to that gender ID thing. I thought you decided that wasn’t that important. The only reason that there were income and jobs lost was because other people were intolerant of their ( North Carolina ) view, be it wrong or right.

          • Steven H says:

            What the heck do bathroom bills (and you brought it up again, not me) have to do with small towns and jobs?
            “failing to protect at most a few hundred thousand gender identity questioners is bad, economically crushing millions in small towns”. Whatever does one have to do with the other? Passing a bathroom bill does not protect small towns. What are you talking about?

        • Stevendad says:

          So do you have any proof that people quit their jobs indefinitely because they don’t get paid family leave? I think nearly all would rather do that if it were possible. I’ll three of my children were raised at home until school-age. It is unfortunate more they cannot do this. However I don’t see how you’ve connected the dots that productivity is increased by giving 12 weeks off paid to parents.someone who loves data so much, are you sure just shoot off some things that don’t make any sense or have any background.

          • Stevendad says:

            All, not I’ll

          • Steven H says:

            “However I don’t see how you’ve connected the dots that productivity is increased by giving 12 weeks off paid to parents.someone who loves data so much, are you sure just shoot off some things that don’t make any sense or have any background.”

            I am amazed sometimes that you and Peter blast me as being completely wacko about topics and themes that I could have sworn were common knowledge to well-read individuals. And that are an easy google search away. Don’t you ever consider looking stuff up first before embarrassing yourself? That’s a little harsh perhaps, but really, at least do some research before insulting me.

            I googled “parental leave for companies” and got this article from “Fast Company” magazine as top pick.

            https://www.fastcompany.com/3055977/the-real-cost-of-paid-parental-leave-for-business

            One of several relevant quotes:
            Merrill [a personnel manager at a tech company] admits that the cost to cover paid leave is “hefty,” but nothing in comparison to losing a talented person. In addition to an untold loss of productivity between the person’s departure and the hiring and settling in of a new staff member, she says, “The several months it would take to find a replacement, along with the cost of manpower to recruit and interview heavily, outweighs the cost of providing this benefit.”

        • Stevendad says:

          So the money for more education has to come from somewhere. Where is it? Sure it may pay off in the long run. But for the 5 to 15 years this may take what we do in the meantime? Again, raise taxes or cut what other benefits. Or raise the debt, which CBO says is already unsustainable. Tax incentives are another way of the government spending money as this is not collected by the treasury. This is often a problem of the Left. Ideas are cheap: examples are paid for education, home ownership for everyone, paid childcare, paid medical leave. Eventually, someone must pay for all this. Who at this point is not paying enough now to pay for all this? Oh, I know those are already pay you massively disproportionate share of income taxes. Don’t bring up payroll taxes. These have nothing to do with income taxes and nothing to do with money paid out for the above benefits. Recouping money wealth fared to rich corporations is still a partial answer. I’m so puzzled you favor corporate welfare in the form of food, housing and cash (EIC) for underpaid employees.

          • Steven H says:

            “I’m so puzzled you favor corporate welfare in the form of food, housing and cash (EIC) for underpaid employees.”
            I don’t and never have. I am truly truly puzzled you favor a system where you have to give food stamps to underpaid employees and then fine the company. So complicated and intrusive. Just get the employees a decent wage from the outset. No food stamps. No fines. No intrusion. Just happy employees getting paid a fair wage.

        • Stevendad says:

          You completely skipped over management on labor boards and the efficiency of the VA and other federal government health programs. No comment? Or are you just dead wrong on these?

          • Steven H says:

            “You completely skipped over management on labor boards”. No opinion. I’d look at how Germany handles it. Do you need a labor board if labor is in the boardroom? The point is cooperation between labor and management rather than an adverse relationship.

            Efficiency of VA. VA has problems, but Veterans still strongly support it and don’t want it privatized. Canadians love their system despite its weaknesses. British love their health system. Are you saying Americans can’t do better than Britain and Canada, or at least as well?

  • Peter says:

    I do appreciate this debate – and even Steven H’s left-wing angles he has brought to the table. I realized through reading some of this today what my major problem is though with Steven H’s larger argument….. and I have touched on this in the past, but it is becoming more apparent.

    To put it in a simple statement, it would be this – that Steven H will accept no solution to income disparity or other economic issues beyond raising taxes on the wealthy. To be fair, he is supportive of other means we have brought up such as education and training programs, but ultimately would not be satisfied with those being the sole – or even primary – solutions to the issue as he sees it.

    THAT is what is maddening about this. At times, we veer into an insightful discussion about helping people that need it most – those that are struggling to make ends meet on very modest wages (or no wages at all). But then it deteriorates into nonsense about bending numbers to prove whether or not rich people make “too much” or their “fair share” or pay enough taxes. The same mindf$*#&ing is going on with the debate about Federal spending and whether we should/could cut anything there. (Regardless of whether we compare it to GDP or not)

    This is because – and you won’t like this Steven H ….. I believe that you – and many others with your mindset – care as much about sticking it to the rich as you do helping the poor. You are bitter, angry, upset about what you perceive as a “wrong”. You have labelled an entire class of people as those that have taken more than they deserved, money that could have gone to help those that need it the most. You may not think you have done this, but your posts show an edge towards these people that is similar to the poor-shaming that many on the right do. (“It’s their fault, they should work harder” kind of stuff)

    What if we took taxing the rich more than we already do off the table? Could we solve the problem? Could we improve the economy for the middle class? Could we find jobs for the unskilled, uneducated worker? There is just no way that raising taxes on 1% of population is the panacea to all the economy’s problems. And that, my friend, appears to be your primary goal – not necessarily helping the poor.

    Or, to be fair, maybe we just disagree on how the economy works. In fact, I know we do. And that is fine – we can disagree.

    And please understand, I am not against raising taxes on the wealthy. I have voted many times in the past for people that will hurt my own bottom line. One interesting thing happens when you become very wealthy – you become very philanthropic. I think far more about how I can help others than I ever did when I needed every penny I made to live. Now, I am in a great position to help many people, my community and my country. There are many others in my community like me as well – it is amazing to see the charity of people in wealthier communities. And many are Democrats who would vote for higher taxes. My motivation in my arguments is from my economic background, anecdotal life observations, and the logic that results. It is not from a political party or self-serving motivation. In fact, cutting Fed spending (one of my main tenets) would hurt my bottom line tremendously.

    My point is simply this – income inequality is a complex issue. Think outside the box a little for the solutions rather than simply feeling like taxing the rich more is the only way. You and I both can make a difference with dialogues like these if we open our minds a bit.

    • Steven H says:

      I appreciate this post Peter. It does get to a the substance of our disagreement. Additionally, your discussion with stevendad over wealth tax is useful. As I told stevendad, I have no objection to such a tax in principle but I dont have great insight as to how effective it might be. So I appreciate you two discussing the nus and bolts. Also, it should certainly be pointed out that we had a rather significant moment of agreement in all stating that those who benefit most from capitalism should pay the freight. We actually have a principle we agree on. Yay! Afterward, we are just haggling over precise percentages.
      ===
      Let me sttempt to explain my obstinacy, as Im sure it is frustrating to you, as yours is to me. If you were to look at a business and evaluate its profitability and advise on its future, you might look at how it spends its money. Lets say you observe that the company is profitable but not nearly as profitable as it used to be. Lets say you also observe that benefits to employees and expenses going to capital and infrastructur have incresed from 17% of gross income to 21%. Amazingly, the building and equipment look like they still need more investment not less. Also, you look at the wage structure. Management team is proportionally same in size at 1% of employees but is paid 22% of all salaries, up considerably from about 10% in past. Meanwhile the majority 90% of core workers, the ones who design and create the products are getting 50% of all salary, down from 65%. The professional managers and marketing dept salaries are about even.
      ===
      Its even worse, as the company has been borrowing to meet expenses and needs to pay down debt.
      ===
      So maybe it occurs to you, as an advisor, that too much of the company capital is being directed to management, and that some of that payroll could be redirected to other needs, paying down debt, investing in improvements, even restoring morale to rank and file by boosting their pay. But first you listen to management solutions.
      ===
      Management thinks they should cut expenses on infrastructure, not increase. They feel there are ways they could use the lesser funds more efficiently, but they cant explain how, exactly. Similarly they want to further cut rank and file salary. And they want to market to the workers how they should increase their education, at their own expense, so that they can work more efficiently. After listening thoughtfully, you suggest that maybe part of the solution would be to cut management payroll to historical norms, and use that money for other needs. Management is not fond of this idea and claims you are just like all the other advisers and have some kind of anti management bias. Isnt there some way to boost profitability without cutting their own salary?
      ===
      Now you probably dont like my analogy and may find all kinds of reasons why it does not apply. But if you WERE the advisor in this scenario, and you saw and believed the things I described, how could you NOT persist in tryong to convince of the need to cut management salary, or TAX it to use it better elsewhere. Its like this giant blister on the face of the problem. Once I see it and am convinced it should not be there, its really hard to not point it out.

      • Peter says:

        Less address this directly rather than with analogies that may or may not apply to the issues we are discussing.

      • Steven H says:

        I have been trying to address it directly for years. What I am trying to explain here is why it is difficult to ignore the elephant in the room. I am explaining my mindset and perspective. And that has less to do with animosity to the rich and more to do with engineering style cost benefit tradeoffs.
        ===
        But ok. Here it is directly. One way to describe the problem is to express it all monetarily. The issues and groups we have been discussing include: government spending, government deficits and debt, economic growth, national infrastructure, education system shortfalls, mismatch of job skills vs business needs, high business tax rates, business regulations, banking regulations, business profitability, poverty, middle class wage decline/stagnation, incomes of upper 1% vs everybody else.
        Then you put all of these categories into three columns based on money. First column is negative, meaning it is a cost, in the sense that it takes money to fix the problem, or a cost that is needed to increase to fix other problems. Second column is an income, a positive, in that it is a declining cost or a source of income to fix problems. Last column is uncertainty. It is a cost or an income depending on other factors.
        ===
        Most of the costs are easy. Government deficits are negative and cost money to fix. As are national infrastructure, education, job skills, high business tax rates, and middle class wage. Uncertainties include government spending, business and banking regulations, economic growth. These are dependent on other factors, eg govt spending could be increased to fix other problems or reduced to use money elsewhere in economy. Regulations cost money to fix and enforce but can positive or negative economic impact. Finally, we have 2 positives. Business profitability and incomes of 1%. These, unlike uncertainties about economic growth and money that could be obtained from cutting govt spending and exacerbating other problems, are clear profit centers. The roughly 12% of all income represented by the INCREASED share of income over 37 years represents one of yhe biggest cash variables in the chart, roughly 10% of the entire economy. But we cant touch that? I just dont see how you fix all of the monetary isdues while ignoring the largest pile of cash in the room.

        • CSteven H says:

          Clarification. 12% of all income, or 10% of the economy is income increase to 1%. Total income to 1% is 22% share which is near 20% of economy or almost as big as the entire federal government.

      • Steven H says:

        So I agree that income inequality, and our economic issues in general, are complex and entangled. There is no single silver bullet. But it is possible to perform analysis and identify the largest contributors. We have national profits but not the desired economic growth. That implies economic inefficiencies. Political wags identify the problem areas as befitting their own political preferences. What I am attempting to do with the engineering approach is identify the largest contributors. Much like a house plumbing problem, in which you know water pressure is good from the street but weak in the kitchen, you have to look for a leak, as may be indicated by a large pool of water somewhere. We can identify growth in certain govt programs or the total budget as a ‘leak’. But if we turn a blind eye to the much larger pool of money bubbling up as growing share of incomes to the 1%, much of which does not pipe back into a productive economy, I think we would be making a mistake.

      • Stevendad says:

        SH, any acknowledgement that importing skilled and unskilled workers weakens the bargaining position of US workers? I can’t see how it can’t.

        • Steven H says:

          It would seem so on the surface. But it’s a complicated issue which I have not studied and so am reluctant to offer what would be an uneducated opinion. Why do we have special visas to bring in foreign workers if it just hurts US workers? There must be more to the issue than what is on the surface.

  • Peter says:

    Regarding taxing unrealized capital gains…..I don’t see how this would ever make any sense as you would penalize homeowners everywhere as well. Farms, businesses, etc. would feel the pain tremendously. I still like the idea of not allowing cost basis step-ups upon death but eliminating the estate tax. That way, someone still pays tax on the profit from disposing of stock, property or a business – but not a completely unconstitutional confiscation of wealth upon death. The estate tax is a MAJOR killer for America’s farmers and small business owners, as heirs often have to sell the farm or business to pay the government when the original owner dies, often putting people out of work and undercutting the value of someone’s life’s work.

    • Stevendad says:

      Real estate would be exempted because it is already taxed in property taxes. The value of equipment and buildings are taxed as well by scheduled depreciation rather than expensing at purchase. (That’s complex, but you pay money on “income” that is in fact spent on equipment and then can only slowly recoup it). So it is mostly value of patents, good will and intangible assets that I have in mind. You could also eliminate depreciation over time (that would jump start business investment!) but would have to increase rates some to make up revenue. It really is much fairer than estate tax because it is a trickle rather than a fire sale (devastating the value of the asset) at the death of the owner. We have to find some way to tax unrealized gains because SH has a point about income inequality. However MOST of it is not wages, but appreciated stocks, warrants and options. That 600:1 number you hear is not a salary multiple, it includes financial instruments. I’m open to other ideas, but continuing to slam the salary maker goes at the problem only tangentially.

      • Stevendad says:

        A couple of notes: in 2013 the 1% earned only 40% from salaries.
        Also would be an exclusion of $10 million in wealth in my system.
        We have to figure out how to change this IMHO. Our system is based in the old wage model and not the new new stock options model. Besides it was unfairly skewed to the rich from day one in the 1910’s. Scaling up capital gains taxes would help as well. However, a smaller tax on the whole (1 to 2% like us slobs pay on our main asset) would be more fair IMO. Of course I’m starting a fund for my family of growth stocks that will be like a Roth in some ways in that gains are not taxed because I’m not selling anything except losers to offset dividends. I can only hope (but I doubt seriously) that it would grow to the point where I had to pay such a tax. FYI I contribute all I can to pretax programs already.

        • Steven H says:

          “1% earned only 40% from salaries”. That is an interesting statistic and I wish that more information was available breaking out tax rates on salaried vs non-salariled income. I think it is the non-salaried investment income where most of the unproductive income bubble resides and where it would be most appropriate to tap into that to push it back to middle class and finance needed infrastructure spending.

      • Peter says:

        And slamming the salary maker kills people making between $250k and $500k in particular, who aren’t the “elite” or rich people – largely living in very expensive cities which have their own layers of taxes and expenses as well. I talked about this a lot a few years ago – the policies of simply raising income taxes on the wealthy target people that may be able to afford it, but then would no longer spend on things like yard services, maids, etc. and other things that fuel jobs. Or if they were business owners, they would hire less people (I see this all the time).

        Good point about changing the rules for the new stock-option model environment. That seems reasonable, and the people in these industries would likely be amenable to this in some capacity. Scaling up capital gains is probably less effective as this is easily avoided by simply not selling anything. Plus with the advent of Roth conversions, a lot of smart individuals are moving money now (and paying full income taxes on it today) to Roth IRAs where they will be sheltered from tax forever. Of course, the government loves this as it generates revenue now – but at a great cost down the road. Typical government lack of foresight, but something that everyone – even people with more meager savings – should absolutely be taking advantage of.

  • Stevendad says:

    SH, still would love to see your politics.org political leaning score. I promise I won’t criticize the result, just curious.

  • Stevendad says:

    Here is your definition of a tax:
    Tax: a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.
    It proves you are wrong. Soc Sec and MC do NOT go to state revenue but to a lock box. Of course Dems broke the lock, so by subverting the laws intent one can make that case. They still put IOUs in there, but it is still owed as an annuity to those who pay in. $2.6T was owed as of 2013.

    • Stevendad says:

      It’s just a way to skew numbers to your favor.

      • Steven H says:

        Going to have yo disagree on this one. I think majority of population considera it a tax. Its collected by govt, its not in a lockbox, and benefits are redifined by political whim. It is only not a tax to a very small population who are making a political argument.

        • Peter says:

          But there is no other tax where you get the money back. That’s the point he is making. Look at it this way….we could eliminate both Medicare and SS and have a more progressive tax system. No payroll taxes to pay for them needed any more. You would be greatly reducing the taxes on the lower income working class. But you don’t want to do that because there is a benefit for those taxes – a benefit that many in the lower income brackets count on in retirement and for health care needs. All the other taxes go into a general pot and are not to be returned. There is a distinct difference here.

        • Stevendad says:

          SH: Progressives want to call it a tax so they can expand it as a way to bring in more revenue. Remember, we break US government revenue records year after year, up $1.17T (over a 55% increase) over 8 years of Obama. And yet we needs to borrow $9.5 T (plus ~$2T in QE). So can you at least recognize this is not totally a revenue issue? And $1.17T all of which ultimately comes from us (of course direct tax increases by statute and income creep and then corporations pass through taxes to goods and services, importers pass through tariffs, etc) if spread out would have improved per capital income by $3500 in the eight year ($1.17t / 320M). Almost $10 grand per household which would lead to a much larger middle class. Hmmm, maybe our increases in wealth have been funneling to government as well as the 1%. Again, govt competes with us for income as well as borrowing.

          • Peter says:

            That’s been my point. This money does not find its way to the people.

          • Steven H says:

            You’re killin me here.
            “Remember, we break US government revenue records year after year, up $1.17T (over a 55% increase) over 8 years of Obama.”
            So.
            What.
            Please, please, please, stop using meaningless statistics. You are implying government growth of 55% due to Obama. There are multiple problems with your statement.
            1) Government growth is defined by spending, not revenue.
            2) Statistics of spending or revenue not adjusted by population, inflation, or GDP are practically meaningless.
            3) Government growth in spending in both absolute and gdp adjusted terms was much much slower under Obama than under 3 previous Republican Presidents.
            4) Revenue at your baseline of the beginning of Obamas presidency was collapsed due to a massive recession. As recession ended and economy recovered, revenue increased.
            5) Obama did raise taxes and cut defits by about 75% relative to recession deficits.

            So please please dont push misleading statistics.

          • Stevendad says:

            55% revenue growth is a fact and not misleading. Point is that IT WASNT ENOUGH!!!

          • Stevendad says:

            Never mentioned Obama per se, just used it as a time frame reference.

          • Steven H says:

            stevendad, any reference to absolute dollars in revenue growth or spending growth without acknowledging and stating (population growth and inflation) or (GDP growth) or is misleading. Plus, use of a baseline year at the depth of a recession when revenue is going to be dropped exceptionally low, is also deceptive. I didn’t say your numbers were wrong or inaccurate. But stated as they were they are VERY deceptive, and as such, are not useful to your argument, or any argument.

          • Peter says:

            Such a tired argument Steven H …. and you ask why I think you use debt/GDP for political BS? This is exhibit A. The numbers Stevendad posted are not irrelevant or deceptive.

          • Steven H says:

            There was over a 20% drop in revenue just from 2008 to 2009, which requires a 25% increase just to get back to ‘normal’ of 2008 when there was still a deficit. Making a big deal about 55% increases from an artificially low baseline is deceptive. It is almost the definition of deceptive.
            Deceptive: giving an appearance or impression different from the true one; misleading.
            You can be accurate AND deceptive. You should know this.

    • Peter says:

      And I agree….it is actually still segregated from the general accounting of the government. Any money taken out is still owed to the American people.

  • Peter says:

    The top 0.1% of US taxpayers (i.e., top 1 out of every 1,000 taxpayers) paid 19.9% of all federal income tax for the 2014 tax year. (source: Internal Revenue Service).

    • Stevendad says:

      To quote Andrea True “more more more”, that’s what they want. Why is it you just don’t pay your FAIR share! I’m curious SH, who or what defines FAIR?
      You bring up lots of historic numbers, but historical norms clearly weren’t always fair to women and minorities. I don’t see you clamoring to go back in time there to define “fairness”. Why should we use these to define taxation? So how does one acquire the wisdom to proclaim what is fair?
      As you say, we should seek logical consistency. Where is yours?

      • Steven H says:

        Im not the one who keeps bringing up fairness. And its not that fairness is irrelevant, its just so completely subjective that it makes a difficult basis for policy except in the very very broadest terms. Our founders worried about this a lot and recognized that extremes of wealth and poverty were not only ‘unfair’ but destabilizing, and the destabilization was more the basis of their philosophy than fairness. They also realized that taxation was a very contentious subject. But the overall conclusion in many of their writings is that the funding of government should be progressive, and the economy should be structured in such a way as to avoid extremes of either wealth or poverty.
        So you misjudge my posts to think I am trying to revert all laws to 50 or 60 years ago. As a person of science and engineering, I consistently look for examples of systems that work, and those that dont, and what differentiates them. And while economies change and we have to adapt, we can learn things from our economic past.
        1) the post Ww2 world us so vastly different than pre Ww2 that it is difficult to use pre Ww2 economics as much of a guide.
        2) Tax cuts dont pay for themselves.
        3) Moderate minimum wage increases and tax increases are always predicted by economic right as a cause of disaster, but disaster does not come. Most often, economics improves, if the increases are indeed moderate and well planned.
        4) Govt as a share of the economy is about where it has been for 35 years.
        5) Post Ww2, we have always required highest income tax marginal rate to be at 40% in order to pay the bills.

        These are consistent and sound observations and if you were an external observer, you would see all of this with no controversy. I think it may be your self interest in the impact of taxation on the high incomes that skews your perception.

        • Peter says:

          I agree that using history from the 50’s and 60’s to try and correlate to today is foolish. And it is even more foolish to correlate to the 2040’s when automation and technology will likely drive unemployment to record numbers. We are in a vastly different time. Not only is the economy quite different (although economic principles still apply), but the way government is run is far different. We need to reform government rather than give it more money.

        • Peter says:

          Fun with editing:

          1) the current world is so vastly different than post Ww2 that it is difficult to use post Ww2 economics as much of a guide.
          2) Higher costs don’t pay for themselves.
          3) Minimum wage increases and tax increases are always predicted by economic left as a panacea, but results do not come. Most often, spending goes up with the increases, or other poor planning offsets any benefit.
          4) Govt as a share of the economy is about where it has been for 35 years. But the economy has gone through its most stagnant period in decades, only propped up by growth of government.
          5) Post Ww2, we have always required highest income tax marginal rate to be at 40% in order to pay the bills. Currently it is higher than that.

          • Steven H says:

            Glad you had fun making nonsense out of facts.
            1) so your objection to taking lessons from 50 years ago is to instead go back 100 years or more?
            2) ok. Agreed. You have to pay the bills. Tax increases.
            3) not supporyed by evidence.
            4) you used disconnected facts. Instead, you should note he primary reason economy has stagnated is due to policy pushing more wealth to the wealthy. Supposedly giving more money to the wealthy creates jobs. Wealthy have more income and money than ever but the economy is stagnant. Guess we should try a different approach.
            5) Incorrect. I’m pretty sure highest marginal income tax rate is still less than 40%. From tax foundation:
            === In 2017, the income limits for all tax brackets and all filers will be adjusted for inflation and will be as follows (Table 1). The top marginal income tax rate of 39.6 percent will hit taxpayers with taxable income of $418,400 and higher for single filers and $470,700 and higher for married couples filing jointly.

          • Peter says:

            Add in the 3.8% surtax for those folks on rental income, dividends, interest, cap gains, annuity income, etc. and they are over 40%. Completely stupid rebuttals to me….. nobody said anything about going back 100 years, and just keep countering higher spending with higher taxes is asinine. And the reason we don’t have as many jobs – for the 1000th time – is due to the changing economy and companies hoarding cash. Corporations, not individuals.

          • Steven H says:

            Misread number 1 on post below, so my rebuttal made less sense on that point. As I did correctly point out though, we CAN learn from history even as we adapt to cutrent changes. Have we ever had a time when automation propelled the economy into imbalanced extremes of poverty and concentrated wealth? Perhaps there ARE lessons to be learned from 100 years ago. And i dont mean to go back to tax rates of that time, but to examine the economy of the previous Gilded Age, what happened, and how we might learn from it. How was the high income disparity of the latter 19th and early 20th century resolved?

        • Steven H says:

           Correction
          5) Post Ww2, we have always required highest income tax marginal rate to be at LEAST 40% in order to pay the bills. — Most of the time when we were paying the bills it was much higher.

        • Stevendad says:

          Re: Extremes of wealth to be avoided as goal of founders. Hmmmm, let’s see: you had to own land and thus have significant wealth to vote. Washington worth $580 M in 2016 dollars, Jefferson $234 M. Not exactly “equal” wealth. Of course income was also tremendously unequal, around $2900 a year for the average with GW getting $25k in salary. I’m sure his farm generated millions. The vote was expanded by several amendments to the Constitution. Perfectly valid way to do so. Now we write law without Congress by Presidential and judicial fiat. I’m opposed to a “living Constitution” that can be capriciously changed on a whim. It has very specific rules of amendment and high bars to do so for good reason. It was to avoid the back and forth whipsawing we are seeing now. And the commerce clause has been enlarged in such a way that it dwarfs all but defense (a stated function of the document) in its size and scope. Here it is:
          “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Not sure where all of this expansive government came from that…

          • Steven H says:

            You are noting personal discrepancies between the wisdom of what they wrote and believed and how they lived. Judgments on how they lived do not completely negate wisdom of what they wrote and how they created our government. Right? Besides it is notable when the wealthy recognize and write about the evils if being too wealyhy. Besides I never said everyone should have equal wealth. And neither did the founders.
            ===
            Not sure what you mean about writing laws without Congress. There has always been executive orders and judicial review, but Congress writes the laws. Rumors of the death of the Constitution are premature.
            And I disagree about the theory of keeping a stagnant Constitution. So, by the way, did Thomas Jefferson.

    • Steven H says:

      I dont care. That is the most skewed and irrelevant statistic ever. The relevant statistics are what percent share of income they have, and how it has increased, and what effective tax RATE they pay, not their income tax share. If you have all the money you pay more tax. And as i have been saying, income tax is only one of the taxes.
      If income share has gone up and effective rate has gone down, the rich are sittin pretty. Income tax share is irrelevant.

      • Peter says:

        I love how an 18-word statement of fact from the IRS is “the most skewed and irrelevant statistic ever” but a chart from a partisan outlet like CTJ that quotes themselves as a source for the numbers – with no explanation of their derivation – is something we should consider? Now who is just not liking stats because they don’t suit their politics? LOL

      • Steven H says:

        I didnt say the number was wrong. I said the stat itself is irrelevant. If somebody doubles their income and their effective tax rate goes down a few %, but the tax share of their income group (say the upper .1%) has almost doubled (because the income SHARE of that group has just about doubled), is the complaint about tax share being higher really justified? What if the effective tax rate even goes up a little, but they are still making more net money than before the gross increase, and way more money than anybody else? The tax share does not directly reflect their prosperity. The implication of their complaint is that they have so little because govt takes so much. The reality is that govt takes more percentage because they have so much.
        Beyond just opposing me for sake of opposition, do you see the math I am expressing here? Do you understand why share of tax income is such a poor metric?

        • Stevendad says:

          It to intervene, but the information economy doesn’t resemble the post WW2 economy at all and is INDUCING inequality. It is much cheaper and requires much less skilled labor to copy a program 1 M times than to copy a car design (into cars)… So your backward looks may not be relevant at all. The War on Drugs and War on Poverty have both failed because the Fed government is too big and broad acting to do much if anything efficiently and fairly. Again, more decentralized government would be the most helpful in helping local needs.

          Re: “fair”. I point out that Liberal Dems are the ones who keep up the “fair share” talk. SH, at times I lump you in with them because the result of EVERY analysis you do agrees completely with Dem platform/ talking points.

          • Peter says:

            I echo every word. Well said. Been making that point all along. An information economy is not good for equality at all.

          • Steven H says:

            So what rule says that only 1% of the population should profit from an improved economy? If our economy is getting more efficient, wouldnt it be ultimayely more sustainable, productive, and enjoyable, if we were all to benefit?

          • Peter says:

            Maybe. But you can’t force it. In the information age, there are far less low-paying, low-skill jobs and far more innovators and as a result, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs. We need to change our education system fast. That’s the most important thing. Rather than just take some of Zuckerberg’s money and sprinkle it around Compton.

          • Steven H says:

            But even the real innovators … the programmers, engineers, web specialists, IT folks, etc who do the heavy lifting in the information economy are getting a raw deal. More education solves nothing if the educated technologists remain subservient to and subject to the wage suppression of the financiers and investors who ultimately have undue influence on the economy. We need to also solve the wage problem of the educated middle, not kust the employment problem of the uneducated poor.

          • Steven H says:

            In other words, i am not convinced that only 1% of the population is innovating and worthy to share in national profit. Can you make an argument otherwise?

          • Peter says:

            I don’t think you can say that…..that programmers and IT people are necessarily getting raw deals. Anecdotally, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Isn’t it a bit more obvious that we have a major problem with finding jobs for unskilled people? Automation continues to play a huge role here too. Just think you barking up the wrong tree here…..

            Plus you continue to forget that the bottom quartiles are full of people that will eventually be in the top 5% at some point in their lives. The 1% you constantly refer to is a moving target and quite fluid. Maybe we don’t need to revamp the system in the IT/innovation/technology world. We do however need to find more people trained for that world – as well as health care, renewable energy, etc. We also need to find a solution to the crisis for our less education, unskilled people that want to work – but may not be able to due to loss of manufacturing jobs or automation. These are real solutions. Much better ones than taking my money and giving it to our dysfunctional government, and hoping that it ends up in the hands of the poor.

        • Steven H says:

          Again, stevendad and peter, do you understand the mathematical argument that share of income tax paid is a poor solitary metric to express magnitude or oppressive nature of tax burden?

          • Peter says:

            Everything is a poor solitary metric. The situation is much more complex than one statistic can show.

          • Stevendad says:

            No. Income tax matters in the discussion about raising income taxes. I don’t know how else to convince you, but payroll “taxes” are a different animal.

          • Steven H says:

            Stevendad my point about income tax share has nothing to do with ss taxes. It has to do with an inherent flaw in using the statistic the way you are using it.
            For example, answer this question: Income tax share of the upper 1% has increased tremendously over the last few decades. Should they be happy or sad about that?

          • Steven H says:

            And, to be perfectly clear, I was arguing in the separate thread about payroll/ss taxes, which are still taxes in my opinion and in the opinion of most taxpayers. You are entitled to your opinion, but your analysis is not fully convincing, and while it serves your broader tax argument, it is not entirely consistent with definitions.
            ===
            In THIS thread, though I am pointing out that the 0.1% should be absolutely delighted that they are paying a much higher tax share than previously. Why? Because it means they have a much higher INCOME share than before. Paying a high tax share is not a mark of abuse by the government, or outrageous tax burden. It is a mark of really extraordinary income. The effective tax RATE of the upper 0.1% has gone DOWN. Their income share has gone UP. The fact that their tax share went up is nothing for them to complain about. And it should never be used as a statistic to try to make anyone feel sorry for them. Their only “burden” is finding a productive investment for all that money.

          • Steven H says:

            And also to be clear … in the previous post, tax share was referencing federal income tax share only, and NOT a combined tax share involving payroll taxes.

  • Steven H says:

    One of the confusing things I encounter in some of these conversations is how some items that I hardly see as worth discussing, because they are of so little real consequence, get people passionately excited to do something consequential and controversial when all the real impact is harmful and not helpful.
    The two primary examples are illegal immigrant voting and bathroom bills. On one hand, stevendad wisely indicates that we should apply political triage and focus on items of importance. On the other hand he argues passionately for the arguments to pass laws that serve little positive purpose.
    I really dont get it.
    Draconian voter restrictions prevent many poor and young from voting, and bathroom bills attack trans people. For little or no positive outcome.
    Its as if stevendad wants to … “crack down on everyone for the misbehavior of a small few. It’s like punishing the whole class in the third grade when someone in the back is talking. Neither fair nor all that effective. But quite a power trip….” ( to quote another esteemed poster here).

    • Peter says:

      Could care less about either issue. Much bigger fish to fry.

    • Stevendad says:

      No, I just want you to see there are two sides of bathroom issue. Illegals voting, if it occurs, undermines our democracy. You’d be vehemently against this if they all voted Repub, which I think they will in a decade or so…

    • Stevendad says:

      It’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things of course. I try to take the opposite side as you because you miss a HUGE overlying issue, that is closing ones mind to the “rightness” of the other side of the argument. To be honest I’m agnostic about the whole thing and see that like all laws could have UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. I’m just tying to make you see the duality of arguments. If Progressives or Conservatives opened their minds for one second that there is a rational argument on the other side rather than assume that person is filled with hate and bigotry (both sides can claim some) then perhaps we could move past our impasse and get some serious work done. That’s all.

      • Stevendad says:

        A true Conservative in here would make my blog life easier. I wouldn’t have to spend so much time bringing up arguments for things that are unimportant or I don’t really feel that strongly about either way.

        • Peter says:

          We do need one. Peter N was one I think….. of course, to Steven H we are all right wing.

          • Peter says:

            Peter N = Steven H but just on the other side – although Steven H is less rude than Peter N was, and does at least try to offer productive solutions (albeit very one-sided and narrow minded) rather than just hurling insults.

        • Steven H says:

          Sorty, but Peter N did you no favors. He was the very caricature of a right wing narrow minded insult tossing extremist. And I must say, for all your claims of centrism, you are upholding the conservative small government mantra pretty staunchly. But at least you are usually polite and logical.

      • Steven H says:

        Here is asuggestion to make my life easier and yours. Consider that I can see both sides. You dont have to oppose me for the sake of opposition. Just state your views. Trying to defend an extreme view that you either dont care about or dont believe serves no purpose and just irritates us both.

  • Stevendad says:

    There is a reprise the political leaning test: https://www.politicalcompass.org/test

    • Peter says:

      That was a strange one…. some very unusual questions. I ended up with a 1.63 for Economic Left/Right and a -4.26 for Social Libertarian/Authoritarian.

      No huge surprise. Almost dead center economically and heavy libertarian with social issues. Curious what you guys get.

  • Stevendad says:

    As far as “fairness” goes, it’s hard to make a definite argument that 60% of income is “fair” or 70% is fair, etc. However, I can easily argue that some is far less fair than zero to those who do pay taxes such as with unrealized capital gains (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates) or with the underground economy (some legal endeavors and some not). I can also argue that it is unfair that we subsidize the richest family in America (Waltons) by subsidizing the wages of their employees. Please refute these, if you can.

    • Steven H says:

      I think you said something backward and meant to say some is MORE fair than zero. Right?
      1) I would actually be interested in Peters opinion on unrealized capital gains. I have a rather simplistic view. If you buy a stock and it doubles in value in ten years but than halves again by the point when you need or choose to sell it, you are selling it at the same price you bought it for. Are you saying you would have to pay tax on the unrealized gain that was never actually, well, realized? That seems unfair. To me its all funny money til you actually sell. Maybe Im missing something.
      2) Underground economy. People use an underground cash economy to compensate for the fact that we are underpaying workers at low end of scale. These are not the people we need to make poorer.
      3) more transactions = less efficiency. Rather than using 4 transactions to a) pay workers too little b) have workers get food stamps to supplement low pay, c) have employee report income and food stamps to govt, d) have govt charge employer for food stamps; it is much more efficient to have minimum living wage to begin with and avoid all the paperwork and rigamorole and food stamps for working poor. If you are working full time, you should make enough to pay for food. The simplest solution is best.
      ===
      Just opinions but thats how I see it.

      • Stevendad says:

        To clarify: the nonzero number we pay income tax is less fair than the zero they pay in unrealized gains and underground economy.

      • Peter says:

        No that’s not how it works. If you buy a stock for $10, it rises to $100 and then drops back to $10 and you sell it, you pay no capital gains taxes. If you sold it for $50 you would pay taxes on the $40 gain. If you sold it for $2, you would take a $8 loss, which can offset other gains. If you have a net loss for the year, you can take $3k of it as an income tax deduction.

        • Stevendad says:

          But you can accumulate billions print ( like Bill Gates) and not pay a penny. Only dividends are taxable until sale. And it all accumulates tax-free. If you buy for $10 and it rises to $100 you can borrow against it or just keep it and not pay taxes until it is sold. You take the case where it goes back down. Most often stocks do not go back down overt ime. They have accumulated about 11% per year over decades and decades and from what I have read.
          In Bill Gates case, he just donated it to his trust and he’ll never pay taxes on it.
          I’m puzzled, are you saying that you pay taxes on unrealized gains? My accountant and every financial magazine article orbook I have read must be wrong then

          • Stevendad says:

            In profits, not print. The only exception I am aware of is certain types of warrant and options profits are taxable with the alternative minimum tax before they are realized

          • Peter says:

            No you don’t pay tax until you sell.

      • Steven H says:

        Ok so what is stevendad really proposing on taxes on unrealized capital gains. That is what confuses me.

        • Peter says:

          I’m not sure. I think he is referring to someone like Gates who might have $100 million in a stock with a $1000 cost basis. Meaning if he sold any of it he would pay taxes on the gains. But he doesn’t sell it – and he essentially doesn’t pay taxes on the profit. But he also can’t use the money unless he sells…..

          • Stevendad says:

            Yes tax a small percentage in wealth. Corporate values and unrealized capital gains are wealth. This would be in lieu of estate taxes. Again, the vast majority pay tax on their wealth in property taxes. It levels the playing field. At least Buffett won’t have to complain he is paying less tax than he is secretary if he pays $1B in wealth tax (about 2%)!

    • Steven H says:

      I guess iwould rather stick with tax and economic solutions that are well understood. Minimum wage and progressive income tax with multiple brackets extending to upper 1 %, 0.1 % and 0.01% earners are more manageable than untried food stamp rebate and wealth tax and special taxes to target the poor in underground economies. Again, just my opinion.

      • Stevendad says:

        I’m always a bit stunned you feel those who cheat the system are ok. Many of them do so illegally. And then you come back and say how it is so important that I follow the law in paying taxes ( which I do to the penny). Hypocrisy much? Your blatant bias against anyone who is successful (another Dem talking point) and for anyone who is not somehow lives in that “logical” mind of yours. Lest we forget, some of those who cheat the system are quite wealthy any way.
        And, you have opposed the mechanism, but not the underlying idea of fairness in my proposals. You ask for more from those paying a lot. I ask for some from those paying NOTHING.

        • Stevendad says:

          I’m sure you support inheritance taxes SH, the wealth tax does the same thing, only in a much slower and organized way. I too am opposed to the absurd overconcentration of wealth in some ways. We should at least let those who benefit the most from capitalism pay the freight. Again, you pay taxes on your largest asset, why shouldn’t they?

          • Steven H says:

            Inheritance taxes are fine. I think parents can and should look after their children, but children are not entitled to 100% of vast parent fortunes IMHO. So I disagree with Peter on this. And I don’t have a strong dislike about wealth tax. Im just not sure how well it might work.I just figure it may be easier to escape than an income tax.

          • Steven H says:

            “We should at least let those who benefit the most from capitalism pay the freight.”
            Thanks stevendad, Im glad we agree on that point. But careful … Peter wilk think I hijacked your screen name. Maybe Peter will sympathize better with the statement coming from you, more than from me.

          • Peter says:

            I agree with that which is why we have a progressive tax system. Plus I am a huge believer in charity – practice it heavily myself. However this doesn’t translate to a constant desire to make taxes more progressive or to take half of someone’s savings when they die.

        • Peter says:

          Definitely a disdain for the rich….. he has let his feelings about the people that “cheat” the system stain his opinion on what wealthy people are like and do practically in their lives. Much like the right does with the welfare queen stories. Same thing, different shade.

        • Steven H says:

          I have no problem with addressing those who cheat the system. I have problems with going after those who are being cheated by the system.

          • Stevendad says:

            Can you explain how people are “going after “those who are being treated by the system? So are people throwing them in jail, taking their earned money away or other things? Do you consider keeping their free stuff at the same level as “going after “them? Do you consider giving them less free stuff “going after” them? Just curious what you mean by this…

          • Stevendad says:

            So based on this, you were against unfettered immigration and choking Dodd Frank regulations which both hurt the working poor and the middle class?

          • Steven H says:

            You know my stats on income inequality by now. If it is true that the lower 90% are now making about 25% less than under a more generous income slope that we had for about 30 years after ww2, then the working poor are already being “taxed” with low wages. Politicians have compensated for this partially with refundable tax credits and food stamps, but in some sense, working poor are being cheated out of a fair wage. Im sure you disagree, but I am just explaining what I meant. So to go after them for paying no income tax seems pointless. The term getting blood out of a stone comes to mind.

          • Peter says:

            Your words speak for themselves

          • Steven H says:

            Yes they do. Don’t twist them and start mind-reading again.

          • Steven H says:

            Yes I am against unfettered immigration but am for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have been working and raising families in our community.
            Yes I am against choking Dodd-Frank regulations but am favorable toward those Dodd-Frank regulations which protect our citizens and prevent oppressive economic policies by banks and investment firms.

        • Steven H says:

          And no i have no disdain for the rich. I have disdain for excess and inefficiency of a system that deprives the economy of a functioning and prosperous middle and working class.

          • Peter says:

            Wrong. Every time anyone defends the rich, tells an anecdotal story about the experiences of the rich, talks about how they became rich, etc. you always question it, minimize it or try and dismiss it. I personally do not feel as though you truly respect the rich. You have on many occasions even tried to vilify them – saying either that they got that way on the backs of others, or nefariously, or at the very least mainly care about themselves (lower taxes, etc.). These are your opinions that you are entitled to – I’m not really trying to change them or vilify you for having them. But don’t try and tell us that you have no disdain for the rich. You do.

          • Steven H says:

            Stop telling me what i think. You constantly and consistently misinterpret and twist my posts. Because believing is seeing.(thanks stevendad). When i say the rich get a bonus from the economic slope, you say i am saying rich dont work hard. When i say economic policy tilts to the rich, you claim i am saying the government gives rich all their money. When i say poor get a raw deal you say i am trying to make all incomes equal. Whenever you are telling me what i think, you are out of line. And wrong every time. Listen. Dont try to mindread. You are not very good at it.

  • Stevendad says:

    Triage is a concept we really need to understand in government. Start with the most important immediate threat and move backwards. For example, the debt that will consume us all in a few decades. To me that’s the number one problem. Secondly, the North Koreans and Isis and everybody else that is trying to destroy our society. Both seem far more important then transgender bathrooms and petty politics to me. Steven H, as I said before, I’m with you on not reducing personal income tax rates. Of course, I don’t think we should increase them either. We also need to income limit Social Security and Medicare benefits to for the wealthy to some extent. Business tax rates need to be simplified and lowered to stay globally competitive and we need to quit picking winners and losers with loopholes as much as we can. If we lowered the rates and closed all the loopholes, 20% is easily doable without much change in revenue. 15% is possible, although somewhat unlikely. We more than likely would be getting more than that in economic benefit. Continuing to lower income tax rats is probably not all that helpful as it will tend to lower economic growth by increasing federal debt that competes with private borrowing. Taxing non-real estate wealth , adding a value added tax in a neutral way for people that are presently paying taxes to capture underground income and asking large corporations to rebate government programs that are paid to their employees will help a long ways to reduce deficits as well. Income taxes are a way of destroying wealth rather than creating it for the middle class. The latter should be actually a Progressive point after all. It is not pushed by the Democrats because they only believe in their limousine Liberal financiers and not the common man. Ponder that one Steven H.
    Bending the rising healthcare cost curve downward is critical as well. I am thinking about writing an op Ed about this issue. It will use some of the points that I made earlier. I may publish it first here to see your thoughts if you are agreeable Peter and Steven H. Are you in?
    And being from Oklahoma, I’ll throw in we must “methanize” our economy as possible until solar and wind energy can become more economically viable in 2 to 3 decades. We have plenty of it in relatively cheap supply and we will also lower the carbon dioxide footprint with this method, in a way that is beneficial to our economy. Also, the economy will boom, albeit especially in my home state and yours Steven H, Texas.

    • Steven H says:

      “20% is easily doable ” I don’t know what you mean. Flat tax rate?

    • Steven H says:

      “Bending healthcare cost curve down”. Yes this needs to be done.
      Frankly, for all of it’s flaws (and yes I admit it has some), I think ACA actually has been helping with this. The upset and uncertainty with TrumpCare will likely make care rise at higher rates again.
      We need to get the Pharmaceuticals under control. I have no idea how to do this, except to give government the power to negotiate and lower prices for medicare and medicaid, as other countries do.

    • Steven H says:

      Fracking (I presume is what you meant by mechanize) is OK and has been helpful in breaking OPECs grip. If you saw my other article post, it seems that wind and solar are getting competitive NOW and we don’t have to wait several decades. That’s good to have options.

    • Steven H says:

      We really should boost the gas tax now with prices low, in order to get funding for interstate and bridge repairs. And despite the idealistic opposition, it may be time to consider an additional high end tax bracket or two to get funding for debt pay down as well as other infrastructure and education needs. These moves to blindly slash departments make government less efficient rather than more so. They lose the experienced workers who understand the system and run programs more effectively and then eventually have to hire new replacements that don’t know what’s going on.

      • Stevendad says:

        I’d personally be ok with a gas tax. And if it goes to highways and bridges it is a direct tax / benefit to the user.
        You assume there were s zero fat in Federal departments. Perhaps, but seems unlikely given growth and general disincentives to be efficient

  • Steven H says:

    A surprising statistic:
    Us Defense spending dropped below 4.5% of GDP from 1995 to 2004, the first years that had occurred since 1940. (From WW2 through 1972 it varied from 41% GDP at the height of the war down to 7% GDP, and has since been below consistently below 7%.) Since 2004, it peaked at 5.7% of GDP in 2010 and 2011 (high defense spending and low GDP) and has now dropped to about 4.4% of GDP. I thought our military had been growing in spending per GDP, but it has actually gone down for the last 5 years.

  • Peter says:

    Regarding foolhardy politically-motivated regulations….I’ve talked a lot about the redundant and unnecessary fiduciary rule over the past 6 months that they are adding to the financial advice industry. Just saw this which kind of sums up what is happening “at ground zero”.

    “The fiduciary rule is going ahead on June 9th. And while a revision of the rule looks likely before January, the implementation next month will have a big effect on the industry. The Chamber of Commerce has just put out a study showing how big of a change it might cause. The CoC says that retirement fees will jump by 200% because of the rule, and that 7m Americans will lose the services of the wealth management industry because of the rule’s incentives for firms to get rid of smaller accounts. The CoC summarized the situation this way, saying “Throughout the rule-making process, the U.S. Chamber warned that the fiduciary rule was built upon a mountain of flawed analysis and would harm the very people it was purported to protect by raising costs and limiting investment options”.

    Some politician decides that they can win favor by adding regulations to limit fat cat Wall Street types from overcharging or misrepresenting their services. This helps the little guy from getting screwed. However, the rules the politician claims to be adding are already in place and enforced by THREE other government agencies. But that doesn’t help the politician. He needs to add his own regulations to put his mark on things. And if people oppose the media will spin it for him saying “those that oppose don’t care about the little guy”. The irony is that these rules get added and the Wall Street fat cat says “it is too risky and time consuming for me to service this many clients. I must trim down the number of people I work with”. Who gets cut? The little guy. And lots of them. Already seeing it happen…..now the average citizen can’t get financial advice unless they have big $$$.

    But this is not what you will hear in the press. If Trump rolls this back you will hear that he is throwing a bone to his Wall Street cronies. Just one more example of how government should stay out of corporate America’s business as much as possible. Tax them, punish the wrongdoers, prevent monopoly or inappropriate business practices….but largely stay out of the way.

    • Peter says:

      One other thing (I’m on a roll this morning)…..

      Steven H – this Federal spending you so adamantly defend includes things like enforcing this Fiduciary rule. And this is just one industry example – the industry I’m expert in. (You can address the other industries since you are more well versed than I in a wide variety of fields…heh heh) The Federal spending you defend also includes a gigantic military arsenal that is continuing to grow. It also includes departments that have little jurisdiction or power. It also includes involvement in international conflicts in dozens of countries. It also includes poorly managed programs or agencies that run with low efficiency rates. And it includes so much redundancy….. Even someone like you who loves big government should see the waste here.

    • Steven H says:

      Peter, since you are indeed the expert here in the fiduciary rule, perhapss you could explain this testimony that a presumed financial adviser in your industry gave as testimony to Congress:
      Senator: “For all Americans saving for retirement, the stakes are high. Paying just 2½% more in fees can dramatically reduce a retiree’s nest egg as the effect of compounding takes its toll over a lifetime of investing.”

      Scott Puritz: “Senator, thank you, that’s an excellent question and really gets to the heart of this matter from an economic point of view, from a return point of view. If someone had $100,000 and they were in an all-growth stock (portfolio) — which historically has returned 7.2% a year — that account would double every 10 years. So, in the 30-year time frame, $100,000 would become $800,000…real, considerable wealth creation.
      By contrast, if you reduce that down to 5%, which is really the fee delta that we see in the marketplace, that $100,000 only grows to $400,000, or half the amount of money. So that’s what’s at stake here.
      The Department of Labor’s new rules are designed to save investors the billions of dollars they lose each year due to conflicted investment advice. One way to avoid that risk right now is to make sure your advisor is a registered fiduciary.”
      ===
      From this testimony, it might SEEM that the fiduciary rule is undesirable to SOME advisers because it might prevent them from making as much money in fees that seem small in percentages as presented to the investor, but are huge in the amounts of money involved. A cynic would not be surprised that smaller accounts get dumped when perhaps those accounts are no longer available for pilfering. Is it possible that this rule will help to filter out the more predatory advisers and leave the business to more honest folks such as you surely must be?

      • Stevendad says:

        This is what I see in my business. Crack down on everyone for the misbehavior of a small few. It’s like punishing the whole class in the third grade when someone in the back is talking. Neither fair nor all that effective. But quite a power trip….

      • Peter says:

        Steven H – In theory, that is the idea. However, these rules are already in place. “Pilfering” is already regulated by the NASD, CFP Board and SEC. We don’t need a fourth organization to police this, particularly one with no way to enforce the rule (it would be enforced purely through litigation).

        Plus, why should advisors be told what to charge? Obviously, it hurts you to pay 3% a year vs. 1% a year. You would have a lot less money if you paid the higher annual fee. But it shouldn’t be illegal for advisors to charge the higher fees. (By the way, I’m at the VERY low end of this scale) As long as the fees are disclosed fully in a way the public can understand. If a $1 candy bar can be sold for $6 at a movie theater, then an advisor can charge 3% a year.

        That said – it is a stupid comment to say that smaller accounts “get dumped because they are no longer available for pilfering”. Only a very low-earning, unscrupulous advisor would be able to make any money off of “pilfering” small accounts. Even if you charge 5% a year (unheard of, but still) on a $50k account, you aren’t making any money. This just doesn’t happen.

        You are correct that the result will be eliminating some of the more predatory advisors (good!), but the collateral damage is severe. That collateral damage is that the scrupulous, experienced advisors like me – who don’t need all of my accounts to pay my bills – will drop the smaller accounts just to not have the paperwork hassle and time commitment it takes to handle them.

        A great example is if you wanted to put $5000 in a 529 plan for your son to go to college. Under this rule, I couldn’t do this for you without doing a full financial plan and profile, meeting at least once a year, and documenting all parts of your financial life on a quarterly basis. Considering that this plan would pay me under $50 a year to manage, why would I do this? The little guy is getting squeezed hard by this rule.

        • Stevendad says:

          I hope there are no Gypsies out there, because I’m going to borrow a ’60’s movie stereotype. This is not against any body now only to illustrate a concept. With that disclaimer: the idea was that the band of Gypsies in their wagons would pull up outside of town. They’d come in to town, start a party that ended up all over town. Then all the townspeople would have a great time, get blind drunk and then wake up minus their wallets and jewelry. Then they would gather the pitchforks and torches and head out to the camp, only to find it gone…. The shady people in my industry are like that, especially with Medicare. About the time the bureaucracy finds the problem, a solution grinds through Congress, rules are passed, they have moved on to the next gig leaving a pile of paperwork and regulations behind for those of us just trying to help people to deal with. Neither very effective nor efficient a way to do things. Sounds like the system is a bit like that in finance. Shackle the vast majority trying to do a good job with regulations in order to catch the few who are bilking their customers.

          • Peter says:

            Yes, great analogy. But people get elected and re-elected by chasing the gypsies. Even if they never truly catch them or do more harm than good. Kind of a like a cop chasing a bad guy through a town, running over innocent people and destroying property to catch the guy who robbed the store (maybe). They stopped the guy, but at what cost?

  • Steven H says:

    Interesting table here (2011 data; not sure if there is a newer version):
    http://www.ctj.org/pdf/taxday2012.pdf
    Effective tax rate and shares for various income groups after adding averages for ALL taxes: federal, state and local. Of course this varies by state and locality, but these are the averages.

    Income group; Income share; Tax share; effective tax rate
    Upper 1% group; 21.0%; 21.6%; 29.0%
    [Note: Above is average of investors and high incomes, which are different shares and rates, based on previous discussions]
    Next 4% group; 14.3%; 15.5%; 30.4%
    Next 5% group; 10.1%; 11.0%; 30.3%

    Middle quintile: 11.4%; 10.3%; 25.2%

    Lowest quintile; 3.4%; 2.1%; 17.4%

    Using these numbers, it is easy to see that everyone pays taxes, nobody is pushed around in a wheelbarrow by the rich paying most of the taxes, and our system is not nearly as progressive as most believe.

    • Peter says:

      Another example of flat out incorrect data. Look at the raw data….. it just doesn’t match up. And their chart is unexplained (mathematically) and quotes themselves as a source. Not to mention that the source has an agenda.

      There are two debates here. First, is the effective rate each individual pays. Your hard-left friends are correct here in that payroll taxes and local taxes hurt lower income people more as a percentage of income. Obviously. The second debate is percentage of total tax receipts. Payroll taxes are largely non-progressive. They make up about 1/3 of all tax receipts from the government. Income taxes make up about half and are very progressive. Things like dividends/cap gains, passive income and estate taxes are also progressive in that they affect the rich almost exclusively.

      We can spin numbers all we want, but at the end of the day what is the point? What is the argument really? If it involves the words “fair share” then we are wasting our breath as that is subjective. We know your primary agenda is to tax the rich more – which is a fine opinion to have. But don’t try and find data spin that tells us we aren’t really paying as much as we think we are. This is the kind of thing that really disconnects with people. Like telling them the economy is turning around when they can’t find a job in their town. I am not overly concerned about my “percentage of total tax receipts”. I just know what I make and what I take home. And I know what my friends and family make and take home. No way I’m going to be convinced that somehow I’m not contributing enough and they are.

    • Peter says:

      “What I believe IS political propaganda is the presentation of data which is severely skewed to defend a political position rather than to enlighten” – Steven H, May 31st

      Seriously dude….do you even hear yourself? You write this less than 24 hours after posting the above statistics from a site that almost fits your description to a T? What if I posted THIS article? http://dailysignal.com/2015/04/15/how-much-do-the-top-1-percent-pay-of-all-taxes/

    • Steven H says:

      Peter, your article is OK. It is somewhat more complete in that it discusses all federal taxes rather than just income tax. The statistics seem approximately correct though I have not validated them all. The other table I referenced seems to include state and local taxes as well, and so it would seem to give a more complete picture.
      ===
      I am staying away from assessing “fair share”. What I am addressing here is that you have put forth the argument, as has stevendad and many others, that the wealthy are paying “the lion’s share” of taxes, then you usually only quote statistics for federal income tax. Including all taxes seems to me a better and more just measure. Can you explain why that would not be the case, and why it is more fair to leave out certain data to make the burden of the rich seem more burdensome?
      ===
      I don’t know what you mean by the raw data not matching up. Please explain.

      • Stevendad says:

        Again, SS and MC are not taxes, but forced savings. You should in theory get it all back as a senior or if you’re disabled. But then Congress saw a way to buy votes with outsized benefits and that huge pile of money in that “lock box”…

        • Peter says:

          Agreed. So you could make an argument that comparing tax rates across income levels should NOT include payroll taxes. And nowhere in here did we add the ridiculous (and unconstitutional in my opinion) estate taxes, which ONLY affect the wealthy. Either way, the rich are paying a ton.

      • Steven H says:

        I’ll just have to disagree with you on SS and MC taxes. They are taxes going to govt, just like income, gas, sales excise and estate taxes. They are not forced savings … I dont have a guaranteed account balance I can will to my children. They are, by reasonable definition, just another flavor of tax.

        • Stevendad says:

          SH: Again, I think you’re wrong. You DO receive a defined benefit with SS (they send you an estimate every year or two) so it’s like an annuity investment. Similarly, it’s like investing in long term care insurance to pay for your health care when you’re old. Please correct me if I’m wrong Peter, this is more your field.
          That’s why these are the “third rail” of politics: they are monies whose benefits are specifically targeted at individual taxpayers and not spent solely at the discretion of Congress and the bureaucracy.

        • Peter says:

          Stevendad – you are absolutely right. The only counter I would make to support Steven H’s point is that it is a required option. Forced savings, if you will. But not really a tax the way property or income taxes are – money that is gone forever.

        • Steven H says:

          Isnt it correct that it is a monthly benefit until you die? So the amount is variable, not at all like savings. If anything, it is like insurance, which is like the pooling of social resources and monetary premiums for group benefit. When such pooling is mandatory and done by a government, the premiums are called a tax. You are playing with definitions to put your thumb on the scales of the argument. But mandatory payments defined by, and received by, a government from its citizens are a tax.

          • Stevendad says:

            No, I never said it was like savings. It is exactly like an annuity. This is a life insurance product. If you die there are survivor benefits. Please research what an annuity is. They are not free, you have to pay for them as well. However, you do not have to participate in them. In the 1930s, they felt enough people had not say that it was important to have some sort of “Social Security”. They pick this method which acts as an annuity. You’re the one that is making this into a tax and it never was intended to be that.
            No thumb on the scale. Again, this is the only situation where there is a direct promised benefit related to the money you pay in. Whether that promise will be broken or not is a completely other issue.
            No thumb on the scale. Just truth, even if you want to deny it.

          • Stevendad says:

            SS seems to fit nicely with definition number two.an·nu·i·ty
            ??n(y)o?o?d?/
            noun
            a fixed sum of money paid to someone each year, typically for the rest of their life.
            “he left her an annuity of $1,000 in his will”
            a form of insurance or investment entitling the investor to a series of annual sums.
            “an annuity plan”

          • Steven H says:

            Tax: a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.

            An annuity premium that is compulsory and paid to the governmwnt is STILL a tax. It goes into revenue first, and government decides on the fly how benefits will be paid out. Its a tax.

          • Peter says:

            That’s actually not true about payroll taxes Steven H….

  • Steven H says:

    Stevendad, I left at least one of your questions unanswered. You asked if I have daughters. i do. You asked if i was comfortable with the idea that some man could “identify” as a woman that day and eneter the women’s restroom with my daughter. I agree that laws against such behavior would make that completely impossible and that they would prevent the rampant rise of men claiming they are trans to bypass the potty police and enter women’s restrooms. OK yes, my sarcasm switch is on high. You see my points
    1) There is no rampant rise of pervs claiming to be trans to enter women’s restrooms.
    2) GOP bathroom bills have no capability to prevent pervs from entering whatever room, bath or otherwise, they choose to enter.
    3) There are no potty police, and I hope we never need them.

    So I recommend we establish a new government agency: ZED.
    Zombie Elimination Department. It has no budget. It makes no laws. It just sends out warnings. It is staffed by passionate, if deluded, volunteers. Along with its primary mission of eliminating zombies, it also has the mission of addressing other presumed crises for which there is no significant evidence that a problem actually exists. Such as illegal immigrant voter fraud. Such as perverts claiming to be trans to enter bathrooms. Give it to ZED. Let ZED handle it.

    Before you hasten to add Trump-Russia to ZED’s mission, however, recall that intelligence agencies are finding evidence of criminal behavior and foreign interference in our election. That requires investigation with a budget. That is out of ZED jurisdiction. Bathroom Bills however, are clearly in the domain of ZED.

    • Stevendad says:

      Thanks for the snark. So, you are fine with some dude who just wants to sneak a peek at your daughter in the restroom with her? How can anyone prove they are not a “gender identified” woman? A young lady’s dad just found a camera in in the vent his daughter’s apt in OK. Men already do many crazy things and frankly don’t need other avenues. Your complete disregard of human nature is a bit puzzling. But of course it’s a Dem talking point and can’t be challenged in any way.

      • Peter says:

        Actually, I’m curious…. is it illegal for a man to go in a women’s bathroom now? Could you actually get arrested for that?

        • Steven H says:

          Not to my knowledge.

        • Stevendad says:

          I suspect it varies by municipality but regardless it would give guys in their for nefarious reasons an out. Of course this pales in comparison to the Fed debt, Isis, drug deaths, NK nukes, etc so why does America worry so much about it? My only point is it is another collision of rights and there are clearly two sides.

          • Stevendad says:

            There. Wow. Dictated that and slipped by in the proofread. My English teacher would crap!

      • Steven H says:

        Installing bathroom cameras is already illegal. And I have no disregard of human nature. I just know the limitations of legislation.

    • Steven H says:

      It should not be a Dem/Gop issue at all. Bathroom bills are completely ineffective and unenforceable against the pervs GOP claim to target, but are malicious harrassment of Trans folks who are just trying to poop in peace. Do YOU want a trans who looks precisely like a guy to be forced into restrooms with your wife and daughter? Do you want to share the restroom with a trans who has every appearance of being a woman? Bathroom bills are a solution without a problem, causing more trouble than they solve. Let ZED handle it.

    • Steven H says:

      Just saw a reddit discussion that opened up issues I had not thought about. Several men confessed having to go in womens restroom when their young daughters went in and then needed help, or because only the womens room had changing tables. Bathroom bills would make such innocent necessity a crime, possibly with severe penalty as a sex offender. Again, the bathroom bills solve nothing but create a lot of problems. And I thought you wanted govt to get OUT of peoples personal business.

    • Steven H says:

      Sneak a peek at my daughter? How? With xray vision through a closed bathroom stall? The whole bathroom bill paranoia is insanely flawed. Personally, id be ok if they just passed a law school gyms to have personal shower stalls and changing areas for everyone. I was a shy kid and hated changing and showering with others. Trans problem in schools are then solved and nobody even knows who is trans.

      • Peter says:

        Yawn. Such a non important issue.

      • Stevendad says:

        Ok you win. Dudes in ladies bathrooms is ok. The long term solution will be individual bathrooms women and men both use. Ask your wife how much she likes to share… I have a feeling all the dudes out there won’t keep the seat up!

        • Peter says:

          Starbucks already does that. Don’t really need men and women bathrooms anyway.

          • Stevendad says:

            Yeah, but ask your wife ( or mom or sister)how she feels about using a toilet seat that a man has urinated on!

    • Stevendad says:

      You get plain idiotic in your snark at time. There ARE pervs, there ARE NOT zombies. Ridiculous argument I have tried to ignore but really! I forgot there are only good people in your Kumbaya world.

  • Steven H says:

    Good news for economy and climate. Wind and solar now getting cheaper than fossil fuels.
    https://cleantechnica.com/2016/12/25/cost-of-solar-power-vs-cost-of-wind-power-coal-nuclear-natural-gas/

  • Stevendad says:

    So what about a wealth tax? What about downsizing the Feds and upsizing local governments?

    • Steven H says:

      Wealth tax ok. May be tricky to implement in a way that cant be dodged, and still allows favorable national investment.
      Local control is generally good but not for national priorities.

      • Peter says:

        Usually it’s not a good idea to add another way to tax people. Just gives the government another lever to pull politically. I’m also kind of fundamentally against the principle of “you have saved too much, so you have to give it back”. Wealth tax penalizes savers – and encourages consumption. Maybe if you take away the sales tax too? Not sure about this, just thinking out loud.

        • Steven H says:

          I actually have similar concerns. We have a lot of history with income tax, and whatever its flaws and our disagreements on levels, we at least understand how it works.

        • Steven H says:

          Of course, encouragement of consumption can boost the economy, too. One big problem with high income disparity is that so much money does NOT get spent.

          • Peter says:

            Especially at the corporate level…..until now. Finally, with the promise of minimizing the overly cumbersome and inefficient regulatory market businesses now operate in…..cash is coming back into the economy from corporations. This means hiring, growth, etc. and is why the stock market is up since the election.

            I’ve said it before many times, my industry is a perfect example of this. We spend about 1/3 of our time “meeting regulations” with repetitive documentation and layers of compliance managers and staff. Regulations are fine – but the problem is they are made by people who don’t understand the industry and just put through regulations for political advantage. Add to this that no less than FOUR government institutions regulate my industry and all require different reporting and formatting….. The analogy I would use is filling your computer with malware….it just eats up memory and slows down the process. Frankly, it ends up doing more to hurt the little guy than the benefit you gain from stopping the bad actors.

          • Steven H says:

            Working at a relatively small business (< 100 people) and talking with the managers has made me somewhat more sympathetic to regulatory burdens. I believe more should be done to remove overlapping agency regulation and excessive paperwork. Unfortunately, the regulation reduction that gets political attention seems typically that for the large corporations and big bank and investment firms, for whom regulations and enforcement is probably more necessary.

          • Peter says:

            I appreciate you realizing this….but I would argue that the big banks are probably among the most buried in regulations (have you tried to get a mortgage recently?) that are slowing the economy. A simple knee-jerk over-reaction after the banking crisis of 2008. Regulations are needed but they need to not be political.

        • Stevendad says:

          So if we start at $10 million that doesn’t work? And the present system allows massive wealth creation without any tax at all on the principal asset (i.e. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett). If us poor working slobs could pay no income tax, think how much more we could save as well…. This was all set up by the mega rich in the early tax days as a way to avoid competition in wealth creation. You know this Peter as I’m sure you tell everyone to max their pretax savings. For those guys who own public and private companies, all the unrealized personal capital gains are “pretax”.

  • Stevendad says:

    I went back a ways and found your claim that 1% paid less than 40% of income taxes. OK I was wrong it was 39.48%. I just thought you might spot me the 0.52%. And AGAIN employment “taxes” are not taxes per se, but enforced savings for retirement and healthcare when we are older. The theory is you get out what you pay in. Of course not after the government you exalt is done stealing from the trust funds. Income taxes are straight out donations to defense, Medicaid, parks, welfare and everything else outside of MC / SS. Not bad things, but to you not enough. In your “Imagine” / kumbaya / Socialist world just how much is enough? Those in NYNY and CA can pay close to 60% total income tax, plus property, sales, etc. It may well approach a 75% total (not marginal) burden. Yet that is not enough for you. Should we become slaves to a government who takes all we make? Worked well in USSR didn’t it? Please state what is a “fair share” in your wisdom?
    Also, just out of curiosity, do you have a daughter and are you cool with her being in a bathroom with a guy who chose that day to “identify” as a woman? No collision of rights in your mind? I don’t see a company as “imposing religious views” by not paying for birth control. They haven’t told anyone they can’t pay $8 a month or get free BC at the health dept (or Planned Parenthood). Last Insaw no one had a gun to their head working for Hobby Lobby. Interesting how happy those indentured to work there are when I go there. Should they pay for abortion too in your world?
    So should a gay or Jewish baker be forced to make a cake for a Nazi celebration? Surely they might object as well. Another collision of rights. If only I were wise as you I could rule over them with what is “right”.

    • Peter says:

      Not working so well in Venezuela either. The irony in this argument is neither side will ever be satisfied. We have a progressive tax system already with some socialist elements that we like (SS, medicare, etc.) but with incentives for entrepreneurship still in tact. Why do we constantly have to keep moving the dial back and forth? It makes almost no difference unless you were to completely overhaul the approach.

    • Steven H says:

      I have to go through your whole post later. But a couple quick points. The highest marginal income tax RATE of 39.6% (let’s just say 40%, I’ll spot you the difference) is a completely different statistic than the percent SHARE of taxes paid by any group. Some people confuse them and you seemed to do so in your post.
      Nobody is proposing a 75% net tax rate. Certainly not me. Marginal top rate for billion dollar incomes? Msybe.

    • Steven H says:

      Ss taxes are taxes. You might get back more than you paid, you might die at 66 and get nothing. Just like any other tax, it provides a benefit for society as a whole. It never was a savings account.

      • Peter says:

        Not entirely true. Up until Lyndon Johnson, the SS funds were supposed to be kept separate – like a defined benefit pension plan.

        • Steven H says:

          But from the beginning people received benefits despite the program being so young that they had not paid in much. My inderstanding is that it was advertised as being like a pension, but never really run that way. It is certainly not run that way now.

        • Steven H says:

          But yes I think you are right that the funding used to be better isolated from the rest of the budget.

    • Steven H says:

      We paid down debt/gdp pre-reagan. We also did under Clinton with boost of internet boom and raising taxes. Is there anything wrong with returning to kennedy tax rates? Would that make us communist or venezuelan? No. Would it help pay the bills? I think so.

      • Peter says:

        Of course not sure why we need 4x the spending that we had in 1990. This hasn’t exactly been a high inflationary period the last 27 years.

        • Steven H says:

          Its a lot closer to 3x than 4x, in raw spending, which is, as you know, a completely bogus metric for comparison, as it doesnt account for population, inflation, or other metrics like health care and education which exceed inflation. As a percentage of the economy federal spending in 1990 and 2016 is almost identical at between 20.5 and 21%. Actually slightly lower in 2016.

          • Peter says:

            Not bogus at all. Count for inflation and population all you want and you have a hard time getting to a 400% increase. Come visit the DC area – you will see how much the government has grown in the last 25 years. This isn’t really debatable…..

          • Peter says:

            Talk about the increases all going to one group…..

            https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/09/21/the-dc-area-has-the-highest-median-income-in-the-us-again/

            The DC area has been the biggest benefactor of the last 20-25 years of growth, since most of the growth has been in the public space (government spending). If you want to talk about everyone getting their fair share of the economic growth, tell the people in Cleveland why they haven’t gotten anywhere close to the DC area’s share of the last 25 years worth’ of growth.

          • Peter says:

            Another great example….https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/09/19/washington-sees-incomes-soar-as-most-of-u-s-declines/

            “The income of the typical D.C. household rose 23.3% between 2000 and 2012 to an inflation-adjusted $66,583, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, its most comprehensive snapshot of America’s demographic, social and economic trends. During this period, median household incomes for the nation as a whole dropped 6.6% — from $55,030 to $51,371. The state of Mississippi, which had one of the biggest declines, dropped 15% to $37,095: Nearly one in three people there have an income that is near the poverty line.” And the suburbs have grown even more.

            Could it be that government spending itself (both Democrat and Republican by the way) is responsible for some of this disparity? Maybe it shouldn’t be the 1% vs. the 99% but more Washington DC vs. rural America. Because the 1% vs 99% always has a fundamental flaw – the top earners will always be in the 1% just by mathematical fact. But the people change from year to year. There is nothing you can tell the people of Mississippi as to why their incomes are plummeting while everything around Washington booms.

            This gets to one of my most fundamental points. The government has used spending to simply grow government, and government related business – both in size and scope. They have NOT used government spending to grow the private economy. Spending, whether on public infrastructure or on war doesn’t by nature permanently grow the private economy. This is where incentives, education, training, and yes – tax cuts – can come in to help spur the private economy. Spending can do this as well, but not spending on more fighter jets, fundamentally flawed public programs – or more regulations and layers upon layers of expensive management in the name of “oversight”.

          • Steven H says:

            And yet income disparity in dc is higher than in any of 50 states, and there is more poverty in dc now than before the recession.
            That does not conflict with what you said, it is just interesting.
            I dont know that you can directly extrapolate growth in dc to growth in total government spending. And it is still true that 1990 and 2016 federal govt spending per gdp is almost identical around 20.75%.

          • Steven H says:

            Just to be more precise on the math … federal spending went up by 207%, not 400%, and by 3.07x not 4x from 1990 to 2016. After accounting for population and standard inflation, spending went up by 42%, which is an annual increase rate of only about 1.36% per year, which is pretty low actually, since inflation does not fully account for all types of expenses.

          • Peter says:

            Well I DO know you can directly extrapolate DCs growth to the government.

        • Steven H says:

          Yes it is derived from government. I agree with that but it is not what i meant. I don’t believe the two are mathematically equal in rate. That was what I meant. Government has been growing at rate of 1.35% per year in real per capita terms. Sounds like DC is growing faster than that. You cannot extrapolate one to compute the rate of the other. That was my meaning.

          • Peter says:

            Spin the numbers however you want…..but DC has without a shadow of a doubt grown faster than the rest of the nation in INCOME, wealth, home prices, etc. due to the expansion of the Federal government. Any other factor is very minor. It’s been explosive. So much so that we didn’t even have a recession here in 2008.

            This has been my point all along – I’m in the 0.1% percentile due to government spending – and yet I want it to slow down or stop, even though this would hurt me personally. Even I know that this cannot sustain itself in perpetuity.

          • Steven H says:

            I guess my point is that you cannot judge the entire economy based on the confines of the landscape within your horizon. Rather than simply extrapolating from what you see in DC and from what you know you and your friends pay in taxes, you would benefit from being enlightened with the data encompassing the bigger picture. I am not trying to spin deceptive statistics but am searching out big picture statistics that may conflict with the political propaganda and conventional conservative wisdom that you and your friends have been repeatedly exposed to with widespread deceptive messaging. There are folks in the 1% who are likely paying half of the effective tax rate that you are. This is the real hidden economy, not the cash economy of the lower quintile which stevendad hopes to tap. And those folks in the hidden economy of the 1% are trying to spin the story that they are job creators who pay exorbitant shares of taxes to fuel a government that us growing at rates of 4x in a quarter century. None of it is true. And just like a company which needs to know the true costs and benefits of each department, and true sales and expense projections, we as a country and as a people need to understand the true statistics of spending and taxation to make wise decisions about governance and the economy. That is why I am pursuing this data. For enlightenment, not spin.

    • Steven H says:

      Re Hobby Lobby. The whole issue of birth control being free is an arbitrary rule. But Hobby Lobby claim of an exemption is based on the religios preference of the owners which they use to restrict the benefits of the employees. There is some denomination that objects to blood transfusions. How would you feel if the owners of a big company had religious objections to paying for needed blood transfusions on surgeries for their employees under company health plan. The religious beliefs of an employer should almost never translate to restricyions on the employees.

      • Steven H says:

        A plausible exception: a Catholic school.
        An unacceptable exception: A Catholic run hospital which is the lone hospital in a community.

        • Stevendad says:

          it’s really about eight dollars a month birth-control free at the health department. Really is that the best issue you can worry about?

        • Steven H says:

          I am more concerned about religious institutions running hospitals woo are imposing their beliefs on hospital patients, onjuring and even inadvertantly killing them rather than prioritize medical care over religion. The birth control ussue is but a disturbing symptom of the same misguided corporate religious freedom principle. Corporations should not have religious freedoms that impinge on customers and employees.

          • Stevendad says:

            I doubt that has ever happened. Please give me an incident. I have Ob Gyn friends that practice at Catholic hospitals and there is a zero percent chance they would sacrifice a woman for such a rule. I’m sure you can give me many examples of it happening or is it a theoretical talking point just to justify a position? I believe they call this a straw man argument.

          • Steven H says:

            I have given you examples previously in this forum. I will look them up again.

  • Stevendad says:

    An interesting article about this “fact” and how all involved in climate
    The science are clean as the driven snow from bias. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/5/climate-change-whistleblower-alleges-noaa-manipula/

  • Stevendad says:

    Once again, even if it gets a bit testy, I appreciate you as an able adversary BD/SH. Your posts keep me on my game for sure.

    • Steven H says:

      Thanks.

    • Steven H says:

      I’m curious what recent post prompted this compliment. It would be helpful for me to know which of my posts are most effective at communicating.

      • Stevendad says:

        Nothing in particular. Most f your ideas are sourced well, even if I disagree with the interpretation. And you’ve moved away from just pulling up NYT and other articles as “fact” and tried to find more centrist sour or better yet raw data.

        • Stevendad says:

          I think you and the people that truly believe in Progressivism miss one of the major points of life. That is that human behavior matters. You feel like we all would live and give equally if only the system could allow it. That defies human nature and economics in the most fundamental ways. At some point there has to be some greed balanced with generosity in the system. Of course, most of the Democratic establishment don’t believe any of this, they just believe in feathering their own nests and use progressivism as a vehicle to do this.

          • Steven H says:

            Sorry, your above post makes no sense and is not reflective of democrats or reality as i have ever seen it. Of course people are greedy. Thats why we need caregul regulation of capitalism. It was the republican and libertarian factions who were surprised how unregulated greed took down the economy in 2008, not the dems.

          • Peter says:

            Great post Stevendad. Well said and I completely agree. The intent of progressivism is quite noble and shouldn’t be ignored or marginalized. I think the point was just lost on Steven H because you used the word greed – but I know what you meant.

            I’m afraid too that the Dem establishment is doing just what you described. I think that is the part that worries me about Steven H. He doesn’t see it. It is Animal Farm all over again…

          • Steven H says:

            Characterizing all Dems as feathering their nests with false cries of Progressivism is precisely the sort of narrowminded caricature you are always accusing me of. You are supposedly so centrist and broadminded but every Democrat is ultra-naive and/or deceptive and nefarious?

          • Steven H says:

            “You feel like we all would live and give equally if only the system could allow it.”
            That is so far from anything I believe, I don’t even know from whence you imagined it.

          • Steven H says:

            If you are going to caricature the parties, at least stick to the script. Republicans believe they are the benevolent intelligent job creators, graciously advancing the economy and society with their selfless hard work and demanding only that government not hinder them from doing great things. They think that Democrats are lazy, self serving leeches who try to extract more than their worth in government imposed “entitlements” and cushy retirement packages that are undeserved. Democrats see themselves as the industrious hard working salt of the earth, wishing only for a fair days wage for a hard days work, a good home and good schools for family, and to look forward to a comfortable but moderate retirement. They see Republicans as the villainous Scrooges of society, always attempting to accumulate hoards of unneeded wealth, unjustly cutting wages to the bone, kicking widows out of their homes (switching to Snidely Whiplash for a moment), and condemning the poor and needy to workhouses and orphanages and an early death to get rid of the excess population. Nowhere in the party caricature handbook do Democrats assume everyone will treat each other fairly. What are you thinking?

          • Steven H says:

            I think i see what happened. You are using the Communist caricature. They are the ones who assume everyone will treat everybody equally and fairly if the system allows it.

          • Peter says:

            Just speaking for myself I was referring to the establishment Democratic Party. The same way you refer to the establishment Republicans. Neither should characterize 100 percent of them but rather represent the direction and tone of the party. (Which of course I think is stupid on both sides)

          • Steven H says:

            Stevendads comment claimed (a) to express my thoughts and those of progressives and then (b) the motivations of Dem leaders. You expressed praise for the whole post. I will take you at your word that you only were addressing the 2nd half but that is not how it sounded.
            ===
            I should state that I am less insulted than surprised. You beat me up a lot for my generalizations. So i was surprised to see such enthusiastic sipport for stevendads stereotype based critique.
            ===
            Then I was also surprised at the specifics. Even in the most extreme generalizations of progressive idealism, I dont see a communist like expectation of perfect human generosity. I certainly recognize and have expressed the usefulness of capitalism in harnassing greed for social advancement. What I believe is the GOP failing is trust in the absolute perfection of free markets, and not recognizing the extremes of self interest by which unregulated greed can destroy economies and social institutions. That is the blindness to human nature I see in politicians.
            ===
            However, your cynicism against Dem leadership is pretty much what you have expressed against all politicians of any party. And I do recognize there are factions in each party which vie for Control at all costs, neglecting principle and truth in the process. I do also believe that many of these leaders truly believe that their party solutions are the best ones and that justifies their sacrifice of personal honesty. And there some others, Bernie Sanders comes to mind but there are others in each party, who speak only from their honest convictions and fight for principle over party. Unfortunately parties push most of these people out. The loss of moderates willing to compromise, banished by party or the politics of gerrymander, has been a sad cause of much of the current political dysfunction.
            ===
            Regardless my main point is that blindness to human nature exists, but I do not see a lot of excess trust, on ether side of the political divide, in the generosities and virtues of people in society or politics. If anything, I see too little. There are in fact principles and virtues and heartfelt beliefs that each if us are fighting for. What we need to recognize and cultivate are the common goals we share, the honest intent behind opposing methods, and the compromises in solutions to get us all toward our goals.

        • Steven H says:

          Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.

          • Stevendad says:

            It’s festering to see you bemoan the loss of moderates. And yet you’re clearly not one. You are blind if you not see that the division of the two parties is not based on principle but on power. As I said quite a while ago, I would like to see some politicians who try to run the government rather than constantly trying to run for office. Of course, there are a few. Kasich comes to mind as a Republican. Bernie Sanders is an example as an independent socialist. He’s not a Democrat by the way. Regardless, they seem much more the exception than the rule. I can no longer tell what is cynical and what is real in politics. The dysfunction and disappointment are so widespread the two views are very close.

    • Steven H says:

      By the way, I am also appreciative of the intellectual back and forth here. I do get frustrated with the conversations at times and wish we could make more progress; not necessarily at convincing each other but at understanding each other (without just regressing to proclaim the opposing arguments to be political propaganda and illogical nonsense, which is what we each still seem to express as our opinions too much of the time based on some of these exchanges.)

      • Peter says:

        Which of my arguments have been political propaganda?

      • Steven H says:

        I believe that government size is best expressed as proportion to the economy, or GDP. As such I consider the statement that government is 4 times as big as in 1990 to be political propaganda to imply massive growth in government which is not really happening. Not to mention that my sources put the raw, non adjusted ratio at 3.07x, not 4x. I will welcome a correction if I have made a mistake.
        ==
        I believe that we can pay down debt/GDP because we have done it before. We have typically required higher marginal tax rates than 40% to accomplish this, and virtually EVERY year that upper marginal tax rates were over 40% since WW2, we have paid down Debt/GDP. We even succeeded in paying it down slightly for a few years under Clinton with upper tax rates at only about 40%, Therefore I consider the statement that “raising tax rates to pay down debt never works” or that raised taxes are “never enough” or that “neither side is ever satisfied”, to be political propaganda with the purpose of discounting higher taxes as a solution to debt, when in fact it has been the ONLY solution that has actually worked.
        ===
        I believe there is more good media reporting available than ever before. There is also more crap reporting than ever before. It’s like TV programs. People complain about all the bad TV. Sure it’s there. But there are more high quality programs than ever before as well. The ability to recognize good reporting and good reporting, is more important than ever. And in reporting, it is also important to get diversity in sources but pick good sources and articles. Tricky, but possible. When people claim that all left-leaning, or all mainstream, or all right-leaning sources are completely unreliable, this becomes a problem and starts to smell like political propaganda. Fox is clearly right wing but some articles are just news. Same for MSNBC. Actual facts in actual news articles can be found from many sources. GENERALLY, (except for some truly fake news rags and sites) to claim that all of X is biased and therefore to be ignored is basically political propaganda. Beware the leader who says so, or the wags who repeat it.

        • Peter says:

          I find it hard to say that my opinions are “political propaganda” when I am not part of any party and do not watch cable news or listen to political radio in any way. My take is that MOST media is now completely unreliable – this is true in more walks of life than just politics. The new 24-hour news cycle has deepened the competition and pressure for reporting to the extent that we report things with unnamed, unconfirmed sources as if they are news. Then we repeat these things incessantly until people believe them to be facts. And we build narratives to get viewers to tune back in. This isn’t political (although it can be). But it is scary and it is wrong. And just because the reporting tells you what you want to believe doesn’t make it accurate. That’s the key statement.

          Just look at the way the media takes random court cases and covers them (Amanda Knox, OJ, Jon Benet, Duke lacrosse case, etc.). How much was reported during the coverage of those cases based on hearsay or “unconfirmed sources” that people STILL to this day believe to be true. It’s about time people view our media for what it is …. narrative driven propaganda.

          But this is fine – like you say, we can sniff out the “good stuff”. But anyone who tells me CNN, Fox News or MSNBC are unbiased, reputable news organizations are blinded by their political platform.

        • Peter says:

          It is also not political propaganda to suggest that there are better solutions to our fiscal problems than raising taxes on the rich. This conclusion is from my own exploration and studies – and the other solutions I have offered have not fallen across party lines, nor have they been self-serving. Again, raising my upper tax rate will do far less to hurt me than cutting back Federal budgets. But my opinion is that it would be more helpful to the nation – and a more sustainable solution – to approach it this way.

          The political environment is ruining everything. We don’t have two sides working together anymore, we have partisan politics causing gridlock, dysfunction and waste. And people who continue to defend their side and sing from the political hymnal like you are the heart of the problem. Through our conversations, you have done nothing but confirm to me the problems that we have in our government. Your desire to disprove anything that disagrees with the Dems platform at all costs undermines the positive contributions that you have made to this discussion. I think Washington is operating in a similar way, which is why we continue to have such low approval ratings for Congress. This is also why we have continually rising spending – because NOBODY will stand up to the media or their party and recommend cutting/reforming/repositioning things that might need it. It’s naive to think that there is NOTHING that could use a review in Washington.

          • Peter says:

            And please enlighten us…..give us a list of “reliable unbiased reporting”.

          • Steven H says:

            I dont recall I ever claimed to have such a list. It may be impossible for any human being to be truly reliable and unbiased. All we can do is try.

          • Peter says:

            Ok…name three.

          • Steven H says:

            I just said I dont have a list. How can I name 3 off a list I do not have?

          • Peter says:

            “I believe there is more good media reporting available than ever before.”. Sorry I assumed you could point me to some of this….

          • Steven H says:

            There are articles in all major media sources (even Fox) with good factual and insightful information. I cannot point you to any individually perfectly reliable media sources with 100% accurate articles.

          • Stevendad says:

            To point out that I neither a staunch Democrat nor Republican. I love my country and seek truth and rattle around some outside the box thinking and that’s about it. This is just my view of things. If you feel like I am giving “talking points” maybe some of the Republican things are right, just as some of the Dems are. I see that I am 80% in agreement on moral issues with Dems and something like 60% on fiscal with Repubs. Again, on that political test I landed right on the center line. Actually this is all just a form of political masturbation any way as it’s going nowhere …

          • Peter says:

            Yes, I always land right in the middle on those tests myself. Actually think I was 55% liberal on the last one. Maybe find a good one and link it here and we can all take it. 🙂

        • Steven H says:

          I agree. It is not political propaganda to have disagreements or propose alternate solutions. What I believe IS political propaganda is the presentation of data which is severely skewed to defend a political position rather than to enlighten. You and I can have an honest disagreement about whether it is ok for government to be measured by spending per gdp or by spending in inflation adjusted dollars per capita, and also we may disagree on whether current govt should grow, shrink or stay equal by the preferred measure. We can honestly disagree about the distribution of tax burden across income levels. Expressing those opinions is not political propaganda. I would even say that expression of an extreme statistic with all of the suitable caveats can be done to make a point without pushing propaganda.
          ===
          However … when statistics or information are presented out of context which are deceptive (intentionally or not) and which distort the true picture, that is one type of propaganda. If you say the government spending in real per capita terms has increased by 42% since 1990 and you think it should stay constant or shrink, that is an opinion. If you say federal government has grown 3x since 1990 and provide no context, that is propaganda. If you say it has grown 4x since 1990, youll have to show me the numbers because I think that may be just flat out wrong.
          ===
          If you say that the upper 1% or even 10% pay most of the taxes, that is propaganda. If you express specifically that you are talking about federal income tax, but treat it as if that is the only tax that matters, it is perilously close to equalling propaganda. Why? I would say it distorts the legitimate contributions of the rich vs other Americans. There are many taxes. For the rich to pay exclusive attention to the one tax which they pay more of but to disregard others, is a distortion, and an exclusion of relevant information, intended to achieve political goals, and is thus political propaganda.

          Anytime anybody says that the rich are paying most of the bills, that government is growing and growing, that raising taxes can never pay the bills … these are political statements of propaganda based on distorted and incomplete information. They are intended to dissuade raising taxes on the rich, which is a political goal, whether or not you listen to party politics on the news, or whether you are part of a defined political party.
          ===
          The division of the wealthy and powerful from the less wealthy is the longest running and most enduring political divide. Republicans and Democrats are just the current proxies for that more persistent politics.

          • Peter says:

            “Anytime anybody says that the rich are paying most of the bills, that government is growing and growing, that raising taxes can never pay the bills….these are political statements of propaganda based on distorted and incomplete information”

            Why? The first two statements are true. Only the part about raising taxes not being the way to fix it is an opinion. No distortion there at all. Just facts that you think have some sort of underhanded meaning. You can argue percentages all you want, but when 1% of our population is paying more than 1% of the taxes, then they are carrying a larger burden. I agree that sometimes people spin these numbers to help their political cause (like your article above), but regardless of data, the rich are paying a very large share of the total tax pie in the US. How we balance the budget – or if we even try – is where we disagree. But please stop lecturing me about the very thing you are the biggest perpetrator of.

          • Peter says:

            And I find it interesting that you continue to think that Democrats are on the side of the 99% while the Republicans are on the side of the 1%. Not sure that is the actual truth. This recent election was a statement that this is not the perception anymore. Trump had most of his appeal with the working class. And the Clintons in particular certainly appear to be the very definition of political elite. Again, you just want taxes raised on the rich. And you are right – Dems are more likely to do that than Republicans. But it is far from that simple.

          • Steven H says:

            “The first two are true”. Only from a very limited perspective. It is perfectly reasonable, and perhaps more resonable, to state, based on more complete data, that the richest 1% receive 21% of income but pay 21.6% of taxes. Not completely flat but almost. And that govt spending/gdp has not grown at all in 26 years. From that data, the first two statements are not at all true. Certainly we need to at least acknowledge both perpectives to get a complete picture.
            And saying that Republicans now represent working class is a stretch. Trump appealed to working class with promises he is going to have trouble keeping BECAUSE most Republican leaders oppose those promises. Trump said he would raise taxes on rich but cut taxes for middle class. Wont happen. Trump said he would bring back coal jobs. Wont happen. Trump said he would insure everybody. Wont happen. Trump said he would have 1 trillion in infrastructure spending. Unlikely. Trumps failure to deliver, and traditional gop loyalty to economic elite and disinterest in working/middle class will likely doom the working class loyalties to Trump and GOP.

          • Steven H says:

            ” .. when 1% of our population is paying more than 1% of the taxes, then they are carrying a larger burden. ”
            That is, by far, the most ridiculous thing you have ever said.

          • Steven H says:

            Peter, please explain to me why you consider it “truth” to compute tax burden of the rich using only some of the taxes but “spin” to compute the tax burden of the rich using all of the taxes.

          • Peter says:

            Just because Trump won’t deliver doesn’t cheapen that he won on the backs of working class people. The Dems didn’t keep their promises to that group either. Who does????

          • Peter says:

            And I have never claimed it to be truth to compute the tax burden based on just one tax. That’s spin as well. The data is clear though. I pay an enormously higher percentage of ALL taxes than I did when I made 10% of what I make now. It isn’t even close. It’s spin to try and equalize the percentage tax burden of the poor with the rich.

          • Steven H says:

            As we already discussed some pages ago, Peter, there is a vast disparity of tax burden within the upper 1%. The average tax burden listed in the CTJ table for the 1% was just under 30%, but we saw this varied greatly based on whether the income was mostly from “pay” (higher rates) or investment (lower rates). I am not going to scrutinize your own finances, but they do not in themselves invalidate the CTJ table which are averages. You may be paying rates above average due to your situation.
            ===
            The information that the table provides is that there is less disparity of tax burden than most people realize, once all taxes are included. Certainly it discredits the notion that the poor “pay no taxes” or that the rich “pay the lion’s share”. If 21% of the money, going to 1% of the population, is only paying 22% of all taxes, there is plenty of room for more progressivity in the tax system. This is an important piece of knowledge when we are trying to figure out how to address needed spending and accumulated debt.

          • Peter says:

            But all of that is conjecture. You have to use the averages rather than tell me that “most” rich people pay far less than their share. And the CTJ table might as well not exist. There is no mathematical basis for their numbers and they quote themselves as the source. They don’t match up to the majority of other articles that try and quote similar numbers.

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