I would like to have a real debate. (in Debates)


QBRanger January 26 2012 11:58 PM EST

I have written a few articles for a couple conservative blogs.

I am pondering another and would like to hear from the community while this tax proposal is not good. Or is good.

I would propose a flat tax (rate right now unknown). This rate would apply to personal income tax, corporate income tax and capital gains. The same rate for all.

Right now in the US we have a 15% capital gains rate. There is a 35% top corporate income and tax personal income tax.

So why is a flat tax, evening all 3 types of income, a bad idea.

I would want to give a living deduction, unknown at this time, to all people.

So if you are poor, you would pay 0 tax up to a point. Thereafter it would gradual skew up till it reaches 2xdeduction and then becomes full rate. A bit progressive from deduction to 2xdeduction.

I would have no other deductions. I would not have a mortgage deduction and would, if we go to a flat system, phase it out over a period of 20 years to let people adjust to not having it. 5% less per year.

To me it seems fair to everyone without picking winners and losers for subsidies.

Get rid of the oil subsidies and the green energy ones together. Let them compete on equal footing.

So how does this proposal look?

I would really like to learn in this debate, since my thinking is a bit one sided. So please let us keep it clean.

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 27 2012 2:19 AM EST

I'll open with the two easiest to touch and let others cover the rest. For now.
1) Oil, gas, and coal are one thing(an octopus) while fans and solar are quite another in terms of open acre use. Give "green" a speckle of tax deductions allure since these two will never be of equal footing. Nuke is a different story for all the right reasons.
2) Would you be open to steps up the ladder with a subtle decimal percentage change? Keep it real with Nearly flat, please.

Sickone January 27 2012 6:49 AM EST

The problem with not subsidizing "green" tech is that from a strictly economic viewpoint, the viability of "green" tech is heavily overshadowed (and will keep being overshadowed) by fossil fuel (oil, coal and I would even include nuclear in here).
Fossil fuels are just still too darn cheap for any renewable energy (except maybe hydro, and that only just about) to have any chance of honestly competing on an open market.

You COULD go the other way though.
Don't offer any subsidies for green tech if you don't feel like it - but institute an ultra-heavy-duty POLLUTION TAX for use of any non-green energy.
IMO, that combines two benefits - you encourage the adoption of "green tech" on one hand (which I hope you won't deny is ultimately a GOOD thing), and on the other hand, you significantly lower the burden on the national budget (since you no longer pay some subsidies AND you collect additional taxes) so you can get away with a lower percentage flat tax rate for other stuff.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 27 2012 8:18 AM EST

the devil is truly in the details. any system can be tweaked or even modified to benefit a subset of the population. without knowing the details of your proposal it would be very difficult to judge it. the current system wasn't always so favorable to the wealthy. it has become that way over time due to tax breaks.

this brings up another good point though. why modify what we have and not address the real issue which is allowing people to then change it when they have the numbers to do so? that would only be a temporary fix at best.

we really need to find a way to tie the tax code to the deficit/surplus. the only permanent solution is to lock it down and have it adjust itself. in short, the best way to permanently fix the system is to make it so that law-makers cannot touch it!

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 27 2012 8:25 AM EST

in short, the best way to permanently fix the system is to make it so that law-makers cannot touch it!

I think this would be hilarious, and I'm all for taken power away from government ( :P ); but I think a one and done idea could be bad sometimes. And if not lawmakers making taxes, who do you impose it instead?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 27 2012 8:38 AM EST

the tax code itself would need to be self-adjusting. if we have a surplus, taxes would go down across the board and if we have a deficit they would rise. there would need to be some ways to look at it and adjust it over time but that could be written into it as well.

curtailing the small changes over time by people who really have no concern for actually balancing a budget and do not take that into account would be the main goal, there are various ways of making that happen though.

QBRanger January 27 2012 9:01 AM EST

1) Once we start having carve outs to certain businesses, IE green energy, then it is easy to start having the complex system we have now with other lobbyists getting their businesses breaks. No breaks for anyone.

2) I would have it that it takes 2/3 of Congress to raise the rates.

3) I would not have it tied to deficit or surplus. I do not want to enable the government to raise taxes just to be able to spend more. If the ruling class knows that they will get a higher line of credit if they spend more, they will just spend more. In the initial rates, one would have to titrate the it correct.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 27 2012 3:00 PM EST

I'll just say that my wife is an accountant for a big company, and she would prefer a flat rate tax, something similar to what you propose Ranger.

The great part of the plan is that it removes legislators from being able to pick winners and losers. No more subsidies for industries that don't need them to survive.

The bad part of this plan is that it removes legislators from being able to pick winners and losers. No more stimulating new technology or industries, that otherwise would be too risky to invest in.

My opinion is that we should pay tax based on what we currently need our government to do, and what we would like government to do in the future. I like the ideas you all have floated with a tax rate that is tied to some other statistic, like inflation or the deficit.

A timely article on this subject pointed out to me by a co-worker.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 27 2012 3:05 PM EST

The bad part of this plan is that it removes legislators from being able to pick winners and losers. No more stimulating new technology or industries, that otherwise would be too risky to invest in.

That's not the goverment's job, it's the free markets. And in fact the government doing stuff similar to this has gotten us in a lot of trouble over the last twelve years.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 27 2012 4:01 PM EST

That's not the government's job, it's the free markets. And in fact the government doing stuff similar to this has gotten us in a lot of trouble over the last twelve years.

I hear what you're saying, but I also believe that the free market is not going to invest in certain things because they are too risky financially. Right now, oil, gas and coal are the biggest bang for the buck (combustion joke). In order to make solar, wind or some other technology a more viable alternative, it requires research, in many cases a LOT of research, possibly even years of research. This research costs money, and without a guaranteed payoff at the end, this is too much risk for the free market to take on.

In steps tax-breaks for research, this means Energy Company A can take use their R&D wing and spend it researching alternative energy to give themselves a tax break. Without that tax break, they would most likely spend those R&D dollars working on ways to more efficiently extract oil, natural gas and coal from the Earth.

Without those tax breaks, the Government is left to it's own means to do this R&D, which do you think would work more efficiently?

QBRanger January 27 2012 4:22 PM EST

But Verifex,

If we say "ok" to subsidies for solar or wind power, then where does it end.

Legislators can then say "xxx" should be researched and "yyy" should be also.

The automobile was researched without subsidies, the same with the personal computer. Likewise with many other inventions.

When it is economically feasible, venture capital firms will invest and the R&D will occur.

Maybe if we open up our own lands for oil and gas development, we can have extra monies companies like Shell or BP can use toward the future in R&D.

Lord Bob January 27 2012 4:38 PM EST

If we say "ok" to subsidies for solar or wind power, then where does it end.
It shouldn't end. We should continue to invest in new, clean technology. The idea here isn't to grant an exception to one group, but to foster innovation when the private sector either cannot or will not.

The challenge here is in using subsidies responsibly, so it doesn't end up going to industries like oil that are already established, immensely profitable, and horribly bad for the environment and our health.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 27 2012 4:42 PM EST

If we say "ok" to subsidies for solar or wind power, then where does it end.
Legislators can then say "xxx" should be researched and "yyy" should be also.

I don't know, I don't have the answer to this. I realize this the root of the problem right now. I mean, currently tax breaks are time limited and have conditions for meeting them, but if they can just be extended indefinitely, it seems all you need is to make sure your company is part of an industry with a PAC and then you can garuntee your tax break indefinitely. I understand this is the case, right now.

But can we agree that tax breaks are a way for policy makers to give a little push along in the right direction at least? Even if their well intentioned push turns into the unintended consequence that eats up all the money?

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 27 2012 4:45 PM EST

The challenge here is in using subsidies responsibly

Politician and Lobbyists, not going to happen.

QBRanger January 27 2012 4:47 PM EST

I am glad we are having a real debate now instead of the usual name calling.

But can we agree that tax breaks are a way for policy makers to give a little push along in the right direction at least? Even if their well intentioned push turns into the unintended consequence that eats up all the money?

I would say we will have to disagree on this. Who determines the "right" direction? While some people believe in global man made warming as a religion, others are not so sure. And we know how inefficient the government is.

If something is ready for prime time, then venture capital will find its way into that field.

Do we need another Solyndra burning 1/2 a billion dollars?

My point again is when we start giving one person a tax break due to "correct" policy direction, when does it stop and we end up back where we are now?

Lord Bob January 27 2012 4:49 PM EST

Politician and Lobbyists, not going to happen.
Well, the number one thing we need to do is get the money out of politics, and kick out the lobbyists. It's the one thing Republicans and Democrats and everyone in between all agrees on, but the media has us too busy lunging at each other's throats to come together on this one thing that really could make a difference.

QBRanger January 27 2012 4:52 PM EST

the number one thing we need to do is get the money out of politics, and kick out the lobbyists.

I would agree completely.

However, I would also treat unions and corporations for the purpose of political donations.

The McCain-Feingold law was so uneven with respect to unions vs corporations.

The DISCLOSE act was just as bad tilting the field far towards unions.

Lobbyists are just a bane of the democratic process on both sides. And just a way for ex-legislators to get richer, aside from the legalized insider trading they can do while in Congress.

Lord Bob January 27 2012 4:56 PM EST

If something is ready for prime time, then venture capital will find its way into that field.
I don't agree with this, and history demonstrates that this is not the case. Several examples: the post office, Amtrak, Medicare, city water, public schools, and so on.

All these started as needed services that the private sector was unable or unwilling to provide. You may argue that some of these need privatization now (and I'd disagree, but that's another debate), but the fact is that the government provided them when the private sector declined.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 27 2012 4:57 PM EST

If something is ready for prime time, then venture capital will find its way into that field.
>
Do we need another Solyndra burning 1/2 a billion dollars?
I understand Solyndra is the current whipping boy for government blunder.

This just bring me to another point. If you don't agree with using tax policy incentives/disincentives for guiding the market to where you want, and the "free market" has decided that dirty energy is the future because it is cheap and easy to use, then what is to stop a hundred thousand free market energy companies from turning our cities into havens of smog, where all the citizens now have to worry about illnesses related to breathing in smog? In other words, turning all our cities into Hong King.

What role does government play in guiding the big picture of our society if individually, free market capitalists have found really good ways of making money in ways that in the "big picture" hurt society?

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 27 2012 4:59 PM EST

What role does government play in guiding the big picture of our society if individually, free market capitalists have found really good ways of making money in ways that in the "big picture" hurt society?

Rights, people have rights.

QBRanger January 27 2012 5:04 PM EST

This just bring me to another point. If you don't agree with using tax policy incentives/disincentives for guiding the market to where you want, and the "free market" has decided that dirty energy is the future because it is cheap and easy to use, then what is to stop a hundred thousand free market energy companies from turning our cities into havens of smog, where all the citizens now have to worry about illnesses related to breathing in smog? In other words, turning all our cities into Hong King.

We do have departments such as the EPA and the DoE, which by policy, done by legislators can prevent such smog cities from occurring. Which is what is happening now.

Lord Bob January 27 2012 5:11 PM EST

We do have departments such as the EPA and the DoE
But there is a concerted effort by some politicians to gut those agencies and hand them over to corporate interests.

It all comes back to money and corruption in our elected officials.

QBRanger January 27 2012 5:19 PM EST

That is true,

However, it is harder to get 60 Senators together on repealing a department of the US than it is to put in a special tax break in an Omnibus bill.

Lord Bob January 27 2012 5:23 PM EST

I'm OK with that.

Phoenix [The Forgehood] January 27 2012 6:18 PM EST

I would classify EPA and DoE as part of the government, but Ranger, you also don't want government to interfere too much with the market. Who gets to say how much is too much and exactly how much is too much?

QBRanger January 27 2012 6:22 PM EST

Who gets to say how much is too much and exactly how much is too much?

Our "elected" officials determine that.

That is why we have elections that have consequences.

Right now we have someone in the WH that believes more government is better, more regulation is better.

We have a chance in '12 to chance course. If that is what the majority of the public wants.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 27 2012 6:48 PM EST

Rights, people have rights.

I'm not sure what people's ideal role for government is, but I'm pretty sure "not letting people destroy the world" is one of those roles. Even if the method by which they are doing so is through pollution.

I'm still confused about something though. If you have a flat rate tax that everyone pays, and you have virtually no tax deductions, what stops companies from moving to other countries for more beneficial tax treatment?

This leads to another point, the government has plenty of "sticks" for keeping people in line (law enforcement, prison, penalties, etc), if you take away all tax policy decision making , exactly what "carrots" does the government have when negotiating?

What mechanism does the president and/or congress have for shaping any kind of economic or social policy besides making certain things illegal?

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 27 2012 8:44 PM EST

I'm not sure what people's ideal role for government is, but I'm pretty sure "not letting people destroy the world" is one of those roles. Even if the method by which they are doing so is through pollution.

Yes, life happens to be one of those right :)

QBRanger January 27 2012 9:18 PM EST

If you have a flat rate tax that everyone pays, and you have virtually no tax deductions, what stops companies from moving to other countries for more beneficial tax treatment?

The same things that stop them from doing that now.

The top corporate rate in the US is 35% which is the 2nd highest in the world (Japan is higher at over 38%).

If we lower things to a flat rate, of which I think 19-22% have been discussed, it will be one of the lowest corporate rates in the world and theoretically businesses should flock to the US.

This leads to another point, the government has plenty of "sticks" for keeping people in line (law enforcement, prison, penalties, etc), if you take away all tax policy decision making , exactly what "carrots" does the government have when negotiating?

Not exactly sure of what you mean by this. There will be always law enforcement and prison/penalty options available. Why should the government be in the business of picking winners and losers?

What mechanism does the president and/or congress have for shaping any kind of economic or social policy besides making certain things illegal?

Exactly, they have the ability to make things illegal. They can use the EPA or other government agencies to enact policy reforms. However, they should not pick winnners and losers via the tax code. That opens things up to the abuses we currently see.

And it is very easy for a Congressperson or Senator to stick in a tax break for his pet consistency in a huge Omnibus spending bill.

I'm not sure what people's ideal role for government is, but I'm pretty sure "not letting people destroy the world" is one of those roles. Even if the method by which they are doing so is through pollution.

Contrary to what people would have you believe, the "science" of global warming is not settled. In fact, cap and trade died in the Congress due to the Democrats not getting their full group together to pass it when they had a supermajority in the Senate.

But once we start carve outs, it never ends.

QBsutekh137 January 27 2012 11:17 PM EST

Ranger,

I intentionally didn't read any responses. That's a good thing.

I'm not sure you understand how NOT one-sided you are in asking this question. If no one else has, I'd like to applaud you. That's sincere.

You want to flatten the tax rate (mainly across policy-based weirdnesses). I can't disagree, at least not at a meta level.

But I can go both ways...why is a flat tax across all three bad? Well, because we are dealing with three fundamentally different things: individuals, corporations, and policies.

You have some progressiveness built in -- but let me ask. Why would you build progression in, but stepwise it at a certain point? Math loves a continuous curve. Because generally, it's reality. If you understand the reality of "disposable income" (the main reason for a progressive tax, IMO), then why not run it all the way up? Why cut it off?

As far as subsidies, I would ask if you are politicizing. It is clear why green vs. oil is different. That being said, I understand your point -- let the market decide. But there's the rub. Taxes aren't just about revenue. They are about policy. That works both ways. Scott Walker in WI used tax BREAKS to dictate policy. That has had...somewhat ill effects. We have different thoughts on government. I like gov't small and smart. You think gov't is "de facto" stupid and so should be kept stupidly simple so as not to let it cause trouble. I disagree.

I think gov't should, in certain circumstances, dictate policy. Because we can't always let the market have that (lack of) intelligence. History is important. The market has shown how smart and stupid it can be. What the market seems consistently bad at is being proactive. Mental exercise: an asteroid is heading for us. What is the "free market" going to do? Take bids? Submit RFPs? The "market" would watch (like the rest of us) while the asteroid ate us.

If it doesn't work for saving the planet, why do you think it works day to day? (another genuine question).

Is the asteroid thing a wild example? Yes. But the world is a wild place. A wild place where sometimes policy needs to come from elsewhere than Adam Smith's cold, dead hand (or at least be influenced). Strong gov't provides that influence. And if we have a healthy democracy, that gov't is us (so not so bad, right?)

I am all for flatter, simpler, yet progressive taxes. I don't believe in "worth" or "deserve" or "pay to play". And I believe if we direct our efforts toward making the democracy meaningful, having a voice, we could feel a great deal better about all of this.

And no, corporations aren't people in this meaningful democracy. If you feel they should be, well, that falls under "agree to disagree".

QBsutekh137 January 27 2012 11:20 PM EST

Rights, people have rights.

Nifty point, Titan.

So how do you feel about the fact that corporations are people now (or is that what you were addressing with this?)

QBsutekh137 January 27 2012 11:22 PM EST

We do have departments such as the EPA and the DoE, which by policy, done by legislators can prevent such smog cities from occurring. Which is what is happening now.

Ranger, I was under the impression you agreed with the GOP candidates by and large, all of which would disband the EPA (and DoE?) last I checked.

How would that work in your tax structure idea?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 12:11 AM EST

would something like the space program be defined as a subsidy in your plan? didn't that program have some benefits and discoveries that we never expected?

that is my problem with cutting off money to things we see as superfluous, we never really know where the big payoffs might be until after money is invested.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 12:15 AM EST

3) I would not have it tied to deficit or surplus. I do not want to enable the government to raise taxes just to be able to spend more.

that is already happening, or at least our current system deters it no more than what i proposed.

i think if it were tied to our taxes then one thing that would happen is the time lag between say starting a war and the deficit increase that causes would have to be much smaller as taxes would go up the next year rather than a decade later. in my mind this would, hopefully, make us realize more quickly what is happening and vote the bastages out of office! ; )

in short, yes politicians would be able to directly raise our taxes, just like now, but the impact would be seen more quickly and thus it would be clearer where to lay the blame.

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:39 AM EST

You have some progressiveness built in -- but let me ask. Why would you build progression in, but stepwise it at a certain point? Math loves a continuous curve. Because generally, it's reality. If you understand the reality of "disposable income" (the main reason for a progressive tax, IMO), then why not run it all the way up? Why cut it off?

It actually progressive.

As in my initial post I would include a living deduction. With that the rate becomes progressive to 2xdeduction.

IF, if a family gets 50k a deduction with a 20% flat tax (just an example) then the rates are:

0-50k income: 0 tax, 0 rate
75k income: 5k tax, 6.66% rate
100k income: 10k tax, 10% rate
150k income: 20k tax, 13.33% rate
500k income: 90k tax, 18% rate

By rate I mean % paid on entire income. I believe you can both add a progressive structure (that progressives love) and a flat rate (which conservatives love) and blend it together.

As far as subsidies, I would ask if you are politicizing. It is clear why green vs. oil is different. That being said, I understand your point -- let the market decide. But there's the rub. Taxes aren't just about revenue. They are about policy. That works both ways. Scott Walker in WI used tax BREAKS to dictate policy. That has had...somewhat ill effects. We have different thoughts on government. I like gov't small and smart. You think gov't is "de facto" stupid and so should be kept stupidly simple so as not to let it cause trouble. I disagree.

I have to strongly disagree with one of your assumptions here. You state I think government is stupid etc..

Just like regulation, it has gotten way to complicated and full of bureaucratic layers to function properly. I agree in a small but smart government. In fact most tea party members agree with that.

Right now, with the myriad of redundancy in the government, it is "stupid" in how things get done.

Back to your post:

Certainly taxes can be a part of policy. I disagree with Walker, Obama, Christie etc. giving breaks to certain preferred sections of the economy. When that happens the playing field is not level.

And no, corporations aren't people in this meaningful democracy. If you feel they should be, well, that falls under "agree to disagree".

I think corporations should be treated the same as unions. If unions can give through PACs, then corporations should be.

The unions represent the workers, there has to be some balance for the company owners. Just asking for an even playing field.

Mental exercise: an asteroid is heading for us. What is the "free market" going to do? Take bids? Submit RFPs? The "market" would watch (like the rest of us) while the asteroid ate us.

In your asteroid example, I am sure the House, Senate and President could all come to the conclusion that action is needed now. And martial law would likely prevail at that point.

The government can certainly steer action. Via the laws they make. If they wanted to enact global warming legislation, they certainly could have. They have steered policy towards universal healthcare. Governments steer policy all the time. Just they would not be able to use taxes to do it. They would have to make actual real law and not hide behind tax subsidies for their backers.

Ranger, I was under the impression you agreed with the GOP candidates by and large, all of which would disband the EPA (and DoE?) last I checked. How would that work in your tax structure idea?

I am not entirely sure what you are getting to. The EPA and DoE can still steer policy via their actions/rules. I do not want to disband the EPA or DoE but would make all their rules subject to congressional approval and not be orders by fiat that they can give now. Tax policy should not effect these parts of the government.

would something like the space program be defined as a subsidy in your plan? didn't that program have some benefits and discoveries that we never expected?

The space program is a government agency. As such tax policy should not effect it. It would need to get funding through Congress and the president as it always has. I do not believe NASA makes a profit to tax.

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 28 2012 12:40 AM EST

Thought my association with land held validity before we delved into the green haze of ill understanding of our own government's use of power. =/ Seems this whole proposal went green too fast. w/e let's correct some of Ranger's thinking.
If the government really was picking winners or losers smog won in a city crippling death rape landslide. The gov' has fitted coal alone with billions in subsidies annually, that costs billions in health per city, the eco impacts aside of that can cost just as many jobs as that industry created in that area, couple of billion extra from taxpayers an ash spill, and all you got is one half a billion flop due to loaning with idiots. Also, O'China rules. That business came down to bad management with supply and demand not by bad energy output as one might believe. It's not so much we need decades more research before we can invest. That falls in line with electric car myths. Green is not winning with these loans it's just trying to make a living in an area where being a dirty crook makes a killing, sometimes literally, then getting away rich. Back on point...
Pretend we have two children here, one is 7 yr old cancer boy, the other is a chain smoking George Clooney, and both are currently getting ice cream. Well, George Clooney gets more, because he's George Clooney. This fair is fair approach dictates neither gets ice cream and cancer boy has to build a robot and be cool with George Clooney so he can get laid by bed run off. It's not socialism to give cancer boy some ice cream so much as pity and good will. Good nurse might catch when he's had enough ice cream so quash that fear of unending sugar bowls.
I don't see why Titan spoke of rights, I don't see how global warming takes precedent, don't see how those new inventions which consume energy relate to coal and wind which have been around forever. But, the last does lead to a neat dream, how great would cars and computers be today if we threw wads of greenbacks at them in the early days instead of riding out those pornless garage years. ;)

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:43 AM EST

i think if it were tied to our taxes then one thing that would happen is the time lag between say starting a war and the deficit increase that causes would have to be much smaller as taxes would go up the next year rather than a decade later. in my mind this would, hopefully, make us realize more quickly what is happening and vote the bastages out of office! ; )

I think we believe some of the same concepts here.

I would not tie it to an automatic increase as when that happens, as we both know, it is more likely to occur.

I would let congress increase everyone's tax rate, but only with a vote.
60% needed to pass any change to the overall rate or deduction.

And yes, I do believe we have needed a Balanced Budget Amendment for decades now.

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:48 AM EST

Fawkes,

I have used Green technology as it seems the be the big unstated point that people are saying government has to steer policy.

It was brought up by Verifex at January 27 4:01 PM EST, and was the first sign of "green energy". I just want with it.

So please stop trying to be a troll. We have been having a good debate without you trying to provoke me.

Statements like "w/e let's correct some of Ranger's thinking." have little to no place in a debate.

Yes, I am calling you out for being a troll. In this thread stop, so the adults can continue their conversation.

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:54 AM EST

Since you got back to the point with:

Pretend we have two children here, one is 7 yr old cancer boy, the other is a chain smoking George Clooney, and both are currently getting ice cream. Well, George Clooney gets more, because he's George Clooney. This fair is fair approach dictates neither gets ice cream and cancer boy has to build a robot and be cool with George Clooney so he can get laid by bed run off. It's not socialism to give cancer boy some ice cream so much as pity and good will. Good nurse might catch when he's had enough ice cream so quash that fear of unending sugar bowls.

What does this have to do with the proposal for a fair tax?

Fair is fair for everyone to pay the same tax. The richer you are, the more you are paying.

Fair is fair for everyone to have the same chance to succeed. You are not guaranteed the same result.

And of course there should be a safety net for the most unfortunate of society who have severe impediments to success.

But what does ice cream have to do with a fair tax?

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 28 2012 1:10 AM EST

Fine I can take that. Suggest you steer from irrelevant issues such as global warming religions, tea party, Obama, unions, or even the EPA having their way for the future of this thread.
That analogy was for displaying fair is not always fair. How many years will it be before green gets the energy to bang us directly?!?

QBRanger January 28 2012 1:18 AM EST

Fine I can take that. Suggest you steer from irrelevant issues such as global warming religions, tea party, Obama, unions, or even the EPA having their way for the future of this thread.

Are you now the debate moderator? Some of these things may come up as they do have relevance to tax theory. But like our discussion so far about green energy, I will chiefly be on policy.

In fact, unions were already brought up in the thread. And the discussion was quick and concise on the subject.

That analogy was for displaying fair is not always fair. How many years will it be before green gets the energy to bang us directly?!?

No idea about the time frame. Back in the 1990s, personal computers were not viable for every family. Just look how far we have gotten in 20 years. Could be 2 years, could be never.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 10:21 AM EST

Certainly taxes can be a part of policy. I disagree with Walker, Obama, Christie etc. giving breaks to certain preferred sections of the economy. When that happens the playing field is not level.

here is one area where you need to tread carefully in any article. i know you are talking about businesses in the economy but either you hold the same views in regards to income tax or you will be seen as holding hypocritical viewpoints.

to be more specific, the tax breaks for the wealthy and the reduction of the capital gains tax rate were "giving breaks to certain preferred sections of the economy."

QBRanger January 28 2012 11:56 AM EST

There were no specific tax breaks for the wealthy. The Bush tax cuts were for everyone. The lowest rate went from 15 to 10%.

Capital gains rate studies show the best bang for the buck bettween 15-28%.

I would treat all income and all people equally with he flat tax.

But I do strongly believe a personal deduction is needed to allow for basic cost of living.

I hope in my posts I did not imply I would treat anyone or any business differently.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 12:12 PM EST

There were no specific tax breaks for the wealthy.

as you are fond of saying, if it quacks like a duck...

getting back to the earlier point regarding the space program, if a government agency was formed to explore new greener energy solutions, you would be fine with that then since it isn't a tax break?

wouldn't they both affect the bottom line in the same manner?

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:26 PM EST

as you are fond of saying, if it quacks like a duck...

If you disagree please prove me incorrect. Instead of making snide remarks. And we can have another thread to debate whether tax cuts for the wealth stimulate or strangle the economy.

getting back to the earlier point regarding the space program, if a government agency was formed to explore new greener energy solutions, you would be fine with that then since it isn't a tax break?

If Congress decided that was the path to pursue, I would have my standard problem with spending for a technology that is not cost efficacious right now. However, elections do have consequences and as such if our representatives decided to go this route, they would then be subject to future elections based upon their decisions.

It is far harder to enact legislation then it is to put in a tax break for a pet project. Harder = good IMO. If something is that critical or needed as the Dept of Homeland Security, then it will fly through Congress with plenty of votes to spare.

wouldn't they both affect the bottom line in the same manner?

Possibly. However if the government did it, instead of Solyndra type companies, it would be far easier to see the result and much more subject to congressional oversight.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 12:28 PM EST

what was the snide remark exactly, i certainly didn't mean to come across that way?

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:30 PM EST

as you are fond of saying, if it quacks like a duck...

That came across as very snide and somewhat nasty.

If you disagree, we can certainly discuss the veracity of my statement that provoked your comment.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 12:37 PM EST

i was under the impression that the quote means that if something appears in all senses to be something then it likely is that. at least that is how i always took it when you used it, i still don't see the snide or nasty part you are referring to though.

i simply meant that even though the tax breaks aren't specifically labelled as a "tax cut for the wealthy" if they do benefit that group more then that is what it is.

trying to label differing opinions as "snide" or "nasty" is likely why we usually cannot have debates here and they instead degenerate into personal attacks. if you want to continue to have a civil debate regarding the points then we can do this but please don't get all emotional on me.

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:44 PM EST

i simply meant that even though the tax breaks aren't specifically labelled as a "tax cut for the wealthy" if they do benefit that group more then that is what it is.

If you phrase it that way, of course I agree.

But then again, the wealthy pay a far higher percentage of all federal income taxes (of which we are typing about) so with a rate reduction, they would get the most benefit.

The top 10% of all wage earners pay over 70% of all federal income tax.

However, in the most recent tax cuts, the Bush cuts, everyone who pays federal income tax received a break.

trying to label differing opinions as "snide" or "nasty" is likely why we usually cannot have debates here and they instead degenerate into personal attacks. if you want to continue to have a civil debate regarding the points then we can do this but please don't get all emotional on me.

How about instead of saying:

as you are fond of saying, if it quacks like a duck...

You instead lead off with your statement I first quoted in this post?

The words "fond of saying" come off very condescending. Whether you meant it that way or not I cannot tell. I can only read what you typed without the emotion involved.

I am really trying to have a serious discussion about tax policy as research for my next article.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 12:51 PM EST

i am as well and you are fond of saying that here. sometimes i think that one of the reasons we really have trouble having debates here is that we just have too much history with other members of the community and things are taken one way when they weren't meant that way.

to get back on the point then, any discussion about a truly fair tax should start out with defining what is fair.

i think the issue is that fair is defined as some as being equal. that is really not fair in my mind as we shouldn't expect some to pay all of their income while others pay a small percentage. i am not saying you believe this but i am simply asking how do you define fair?

also, should the amount of resources that someone uses be taken into account where fairness is concerned?

QBRanger January 28 2012 12:58 PM EST

i think the issue is that fair is defined as some as being equal. that is really not fair in my mind as we shouldn't expect some to pay all of their income while others pay a small percentage. i am not saying you believe this but i am simply asking how do you define fair?

That is one reason I am strongly advocating a personal deduction. So people at the lowest part of the income ladder pay no taxes to a point. After that fair=fair. Yes, my definition of fair is likely different than yours.

also, should the amount of resources that someone uses be taken into account where fairness is concerned?

That is what sales taxes are for. As well as property tax, and other taxes not based upon income but based upon consumption/ownership.

QBRanger January 28 2012 1:07 PM EST

So far I have 2 significant negatives to a flat tax.

1) It limits the ability of government to steer policy. I see this point but believe it is better to have it more open and subject to congressional approval and review.

2) What exactly is fair? Some believe that we need a system that makes the higher earners pay a lot more than the lower earners percentage wise. I see that point but as you know disagree with it. As even with a flat percentage, those making the most will pay the most in taxes.

Any other negatives?

QBsutekh137 January 28 2012 1:59 PM EST

Ranger,

Sorry I didn't realize your idea was progressive (I thought it topped out, but the stepwise portion is more at the bottom than top, if I am reading correctly)...

As for your more recent post, yes, a flat tax forgoes any special subsidy-like things, and it is not progressive.

Why progressive? Well, because (at least at the low end), a percentage isn't really "fair" in terms of disposable wealth (as you gave already touched on). I would add that things like sales tax, etc. do not account for all the "extra" a wealthy person might use. If a wealthy person (or business) uses highways a lot, any part of that construction not taken from gas tax would be imbalanced for someone who doesn't even have a car. But then again, the rich person wouldn't be using buses like the poorer person might. I agree that there ARE a lot of "use" based taxes that balance these things out, I'm just not sure they cover 100% of scenarios.

About policy -- I agree with you about subsidies (to a competitive marketplace) skewing the playing field. I was talking more about policies like making mortgage interest deductible as a carrot for folks to buy homes. That doesn't really skew anything (business-wise), and is a break to get folks into a nice economic vehicle. Not to mention that vehicle then generates property taxes, asset stability, stimulation, etc. Another way to think about it is like the fact that food generally doesn't get sales taxed. At least, I see them as similar phenomena.

I can't really think of any other downsides to a flat tax that don't fall into the two families you list. I'll mull it over and if I think of something else, I'll post.

QBRanger January 28 2012 2:02 PM EST

Why progressive?

I do believe, strongly, that people do need a certain base level of income to meet the daily costs of living. To tax that amount would just be unfair.

And having a bit of progressiveness to the system may make the progressives in the audience happy. A compromise of sorts.

QBRanger January 28 2012 2:05 PM EST

I was talking more about policies like making mortgage interest deductible as a carrot for folks to buy homes.

If people, aside from first time home buyers, really need the interest deduction to be able to afford a home, then perhaps they should not get a home that costly.

But right now we have programs for first time home buyers, such as VA loans etc.. to help people get their first one.

I would remove that deduction but gradually as not to shock those already counting on it.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 2:11 PM EST

taking the fair issue a bit further, do we leave those who make less money enough for them to save for college tuition for their kids? what is fair in regards to that considering some will use that to actually save but others will not? if we don't are we then creating a system that keeps the poor intact since they cannot improve each generation.

what about saving for retirement? saving for a better house? improving their own lot through higher education? health issues?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 2:44 PM EST

if we take too much from the lower class to cover our tax bill and that thus forces them to use more government assistance that people get so upset about then whose fault is that and who is creating a society of entitlement?

does the whole society benefit more from keeping the lower class where they started or by helping them to improve their lot?

QBsutekh137 January 28 2012 2:46 PM EST

Dudemus, good points about progressive reasoning.

I think a lot about those things when it comes to capital gains taxes. A guy like Romney can life off investments, so pays lower taxes. I'm not going to get into the whole "deserve" thing, but the fact is that even if we all worked incredibly hard, we can't all be millionaires. There are winners and losers. And once a winner, once able to sock a huge amount of cash into investments, well, the ticket is punched.

How can someone without that level of wealth put all their money into a capital gains scenario and live off it?

Of course, the flat tax Ranger is mentioning accounts for that

But your points about anything that is "pay to play" are good ones. I also often think about privatization of education and wonder how someone very poor can ever hope to get into the cycle of education in the first place. That's where I see government serving a very important role to give folks equal (or more equal) opportunities.

Ranger, I still see interest expense as something that is deductible for sound economic reasons as well as policy-based ones. I'm not entirely sure, but I would assume banks that make money off that interest pay taxes on it (loopholes and offshore accounting aside). So, that money has been taxed twice if I am not allowed to deduct it. I pay income tax on it, then give it to the bank where it counts as income for them. I know that describes just about any financial transaction -- income gets taxed over and over again. But mortgage interest is large and is the only way to get a home (for most folks).

I would venture to say that most folks who get foreclosed on were falling far shorter than what they would save on mortgage insurance deductions. I agree that responsible lending (and paying back) is important, but the lenders know all the facts. If they still lend, they must think the person is good for it. That's still a free market. If a bank lends money to someone knowing they are on a razor's edge (living off tax refunds) and lose out on that loan, that's their own fault.

All that aside, I can see your point about phasing it out. If nothing else, I'd consider it a compromise like the progressive compromise you mention. I consider the more important part of a flat tax code to be the part where all income is considered equal.

Maybe you already covered this, but what about tax deductions for things like medical care or pure business expenses? All that would be phased out, too?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 2:56 PM EST

yes a progressive system will address these issues but the devil is in the details. i was really working more on the "fair" angle and trying to get ranger to think about what is truly fair and how to define that because if you aren't specific about that in any kind of tax proposal then it will be difficult for others to judge that idea.

QBRanger January 28 2012 5:16 PM EST

Maybe you already covered this, but what about tax deductions for things like medical care or pure business expenses? All that would be phased out, too?

Yes. They can be abused. One tax to fit all.

QBRanger January 28 2012 5:32 PM EST

But really, is the governments goal to tax people based upon fairness or tax people in order to pay its bills.

We truly disagree on what one perceives as "fair".

But then again, quite a lot of the social programs that are used, are being used by the poorer people in the nation.

The "rich" who pay the most taxes almost never use programs such as Medicare, unemployment insurance, student loans, headstart, student lunch programs etc...

How fair is it to the rich people paying the most taxes?

There are pros and cons of both sides. However my IP was for a mini progressive system treating all income equally.

That is not to say the rich people do not get more out of the system on some things. However they pay a lot more in property taxes, sales taxes and ownership (personal property) taxes.

I pay income tax on it, then give it to the bank where it counts as income for them.

Actually any money you give to the bank is not income to the bank. However, if they make money from using your money, it is capital gains if in investments. The principle you give the bank is already taxed and not taxed yet again.

If you pay the bank for services, such as a loan or check fees, yes that is taxable as bank income.

QBsutekh137 January 28 2012 6:21 PM EST

The main difference between you and I as to what "fair" means and what "worth" means is this idea of "deserve" (I think). It's OK if we disagree on it -- it's a meta, philosophical thing.

I know a large part of where I am at is because I am a white male born to a stable, non-impoverished family who was given a good education. Every facet of that sentence has nothing to do with me. I was born into it.

The next aspect of my life would be genetics. At least SOME portion of what I have -- I was simply born with. I am a BIG "nurture" over "nature" fan, but some of it has to be genetics. Even if it is only 1%, that's something. And a lot of folks feel it plays a MUCH bigger role.

So, that represents my life "wave-front" that started upon being born. That part's luck. A lottery. If you think all the way back to that and really ask yourself what sort of lottery card you drew, it can at least be a fun mental exercise.

From there, yeah, I have a decent work ethic. But that ethic was given to me, too. And I had to do some work for my education, but I would say at least 75% of folks worked harder than me in that regard. School was just easy for me. Again: genetics/early development/stable home (none of that my doing).

At some point in my life, I realized I had to look damn hard to find anything that wasn't given to me, either directly or one or two levels indirectly.

Am I awesome? Yeah. I am proud of myself and have great self-esteem, and feel I deserve respect, liberty, and happiness. But so does everyone else. That's all dead even.

And that's why I have brought up the work/wealth issue before. That two people can work the exact same amount and one will end up with more. That means the theory doesn't hold water (that work = wealth or vice versa). So, the entire concept of "mine", as an individual given all this luck, given this lottery card -- it just doesn't settle well with me.

My guess is it settles OK with you, and you figure the disparity we see can be made up for with other things. Maybe. I don't see it, at least not from the GOP (by and large). From that side I see MORE "pay-to-play" desires, more "I already have mine, so I'll make laws that protect that", more "Hey, you should simply want to BECOME one of us rather than gripe about fairness." Deep Space Nine put it best when one of the lower Ferengi was asked why the working class didn't revolt and try to get equality from the oppressive class of Ferengi. The lower-caste Ferengi answered with something to the effect of, "We don't want to get freedom from the oppression, we want to become the oppressors!"

I'm not saying you subscribe to that -- I'm not sure what you think, to be honest. But that type of thinking is also "lottery" thinking, because so much is based on "not ourselves" right out of the gate. Talking about people who have pulled themself out of that isn't an answer, either, because every curve in this game is Gaussian. You will ALWAYS be able to find someone who had it the worst and came out the best -- that's simple statistics. That doesn't matter, because that's not where the bulk of the curve ends up. And no amount of "work" is going to appreciably shift that bulge upward. There are winners and there are losers. We can't all be winners, so the question becomes whether the winners really did "earn" it.

That's the question a progressive asks. And when I ask myself that question, I realize that no, I really didn't earn it. Not all by myself. So I'm OK paying more than a flat rate, even if that rate means I pay more because I make more. That's not enough.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 6:44 PM EST

How fair is it to the rich people paying the most taxes?

pretty darn fair to them if they don't have to choose between sending their kids to school, going to the doctor or saving for retirement and paying their taxes.

i am sure there are people in the lower class and possibly even some in the lower-middle class that would love to have that kind of fairness.

your target is a conservative blog though so you will likely have people saying you are too moderate there rather than too conservative! ; )

QBRanger January 28 2012 7:47 PM EST

pretty darn fair to them if they don't have to choose between sending their kids to school, going to the doctor or saving for retirement and paying their taxes.

But is it the governments responsibility to equal outcomes? As Sut stated and others before him, there is some aspect of luck, but there is some aspect of hard work. At least in America.

One has retirement saved by the government in America, Social Security. We now have Obamacare with its free medical. And taxes for workers come directly from the employer.

i am sure there are people in the lower class and possibly even some in the lower-middle class that would love to have that kind of fairness.

Certainly. They can try harder, go to school, strike out on their own. My dad was working class making a relatively moderate income. I took advantage of every opportunity given to me. I see America as an opportunity society.

your target is a conservative blog though so you will likely have people saying you are too moderate there rather than too conservative! ; )

But that is why I posted this in CB. Which is a left center site. To get another point of view for my article.

QBsutekh137 January 28 2012 8:37 PM EST

I should just wait until you have a chance to address my post (as I have every faith that is coming), but this is a nice segue to it:

Certainly. They can try harder, go to school, strike out on their own. My dad was working class making a relatively moderate income. I took advantage of every opportunity given to me. I see America as an opportunity society.

Why should "they" have to try harder? If they DO try harder, they had better end up with MORE wealth than someone who worked less. Otherwise, what is your "worth" and "mine!" system based on? If work doesn't always equal the same concomitant wealth, how can you say what's yours is yours? Someone else had to work HARDER and has LESS?

Does that help you see why some folks start using the word "fair" from the underdog sense? And not the plucky, Disney underdog who goes on to have more wealth and happiness than everyone else. I'm talking about the underdog who stays the underdog because they didn't win the "lottery" at birth. They stay poor no matter how hard they work. What do you say to someone in that class of people, Ranger? Too bad, so sad? Go stand in the soup kitchen line?

And in a different thread you admitted as much that opportunity still isn't the same in America. Now you are calling America an "opportunity society"? Huh?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 28 2012 8:51 PM EST

how are they supposed to get a better education if we tax them so that they cannot save for it? as for retirement, are you counting solely on social security?

here is a simpler question, would you rather leave them with enough money to feed their family properly or take it all in taxes and then make them require food stamps and government assistance to survive? is that your idea of a fair tax?

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 28 2012 9:11 PM EST

And having a bit of progressiveness to the system may make the progressives in the audience happy. A compromise of sorts.
I find this snide and a step back. Taking notes from what could be good points of the "opposing" system should not be met with a tone of stubborness after the asking.
But really, is the governments goal to tax people based upon fairness or tax people in order to pay its bills.
Both and more. The goal also falls in line with freedom and the pursuit of happiness during blue moons.
The "rich" who pay the most taxes almost never use programs such as Medicare, unemployment insurance, student loans, headstart, student lunch programs etc...
They are rich and don't need mud-people programs to go on living. They get Hummer carrots instead.
Even if it is only 1%, that's something.
I go with .5% in conversations.

Don't mean to jump on the wagon and is not trolling. Funny you see America as an opportunity society, hate both the rich and poor bad apples who take advantage of the system as us which is a fair view and well you should, but take to potentially limiting the momentum of a rather large sample of which you were originally born to by taking away some incentives and opportunities. May go by the faith of fairness, but as the record keeps skipping to, fair is not always fair.

Lord Bob January 28 2012 9:34 PM EST

But is it the governments responsibility to equal outcomes?
Opportunities, not outcomes.

And, I would argue, also provide basic necessities to those unfortunate enough that they can't provide for themselves. This includes food, housing, and yes, health care.

QBRanger January 28 2012 9:55 PM EST

how are they supposed to get a better education if we tax them so that they cannot save for it? as for retirement, are you counting solely on social security?

And that is why I suggested a personal or family deduction.

would you rather leave them with enough money to feed their family properly or take it all in taxes and then make them require food stamps and government assistance to survive? is that your idea of a fair tax?

See my point above.


QBRanger January 28 2012 10:07 PM EST

And, I would argue, also provide basic necessities to those unfortunate enough that they can't provide for themselves. This includes food, housing, and yes, health care.

I hope you do understand there is a difference between can't and won't.

It is quite discouraging to see patients in the ER refusing to pay their bills while they have the nice gold teeth, talk on the Iphone and drive their Mustang to the ER.

People want free healthcare but do not want to pay for it. If someone cannot truly pay, we already have EMTALA laws. But for people to not pay because they want that flat screen TV or the new Iphone is just insulting to all of us who play by the rules.

And yes, I see quite a few people in the ER in this category. Over 25% of the "self" pay patients we get at the hospital I used to cover.

But as I stated before, in my tax proposal there is a deduction up to which no federal income tax is paid.

QBsutekh137 January 28 2012 10:37 PM EST

I find this snide and a step back. Taking notes from what could be good points of the "opposing" system should not be met with a tone of stubbornness after the asking.

I really don't think Ranger was being snide in making a compromise. A compromise is a compromise. One doesn't look that gift horse in the mouth, basically because he ain't looking in mine. No strings. That's what a compromise is, because, hey, look -- we aren't all ever going to be of the exact, same mind. That's the first thing to realize.

About special cases -- Ranger has already said there WOULD be certain exemptions in his idea of a flat tax. Work from there. I think home mortgage interest should still be exempted. Ranger doesn't and would phase it out. *shrug* At least we can work together from there. As I see it, Ranger isn't asking for the specifics, he's asking for entire facets he might be missing in his reasoning.

Yes, there's still the whole progressive thing -- I'm still wondering if that's going to be addressed, but maybe my stuff is all TL;DR. I get that, I feel the same way about myself from time to time...

QBRanger January 28 2012 10:52 PM EST

It was as Sut stated.

No way meant to be snide. A compromise. The more I go over my idea, the more I am fixed on the personal deduction. The only other one I would ever consider, and mostly to help first time buyers, would be a mortgage interest deduction.

Maybe this should be skewed as well as I do not need it to buy a home. But it did help when I bought my first two homes. I am on the fence on this and could go either way.

I understand the progressive thoughts on the matter. Just disagree with some of it.

QBsutekh137 January 28 2012 11:06 PM EST

I understand the progressive thoughts on the matter. Just disagree with some of it.

I'd love to hear more about where we agree to disagree (especially since you used the titillating word "some"), but realize I get a bit long-winded. *smile* Is there something in particular we could discuss? Tackling some of the more...philosophical issues behind things will only make your future articles stronger. I promise to be civil -- you certainly have been, as far as I can see. Discourse rules!

QBRanger January 29 2012 12:12 AM EST

I'd love to hear more about where we agree to disagree

From what I have read, you believe in a progressive tax system where those who make the most pay the highest percentage.

I do not. I think we can agree to disagree on that point. I understand the opposite view, just choose to believe it is wrong.

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 12:22 AM EST

That's cool... I didn't really mean that, though. I meant my whole treatise on why I think what I think, the whole lottery/earn/worth/deserve/mine! thing.

Progressives didn't just wake up one day and say, "Hey, let's stick it MORE to rich folk!" There's solid reasoning behind it. That reasoning is based on asking the hard questions about what we were given, what is truly "ours", and how it all shakes out in a societal frame.

I've stated my reasoning. I'm curious about yours, beyond the simple, "what's mine is mine" sort of thing.

But like I said before and now -- it's cool.

QBRanger January 29 2012 12:50 AM EST

My reasoning is as follows:

I understand the opposite sides theory, more success = more responsibility to the country. I just choose to believe that more success = job well done. Everyone should have the same skin in the game as a percentage of what they make. Via any source.

People love equality, but not so much when it comes to taxes. Then people have different definitions of what fair means. My proposal is trying to be as equal as possible.

Note that equal =\= fair for some. I am not saying it has to be for everyone. For me it is.

That reasoning is based on asking the hard questions about what we were given, what is truly "ours", and how it all shakes out in a societal frame.

It is very hard to put all successful people into the "given advantages" column. In fact, most of the people who are "rich" that I know, came from modest backgrounds of all races. They all busted their butt to get where they are.

If they earn an honest living, is that not really "theirs"? They already pay property taxes for access to police, fire, and utilities. They use less government resources than the less fortunate, but they pay far more income tax. Is that fair?

As far as a societal frame, I believe the more you make the more you pay, certainly. But you pay more because you make more. There should be no hidden "success" bonus tax. You use less resources and that is your "extra" payment on your taxes. There is the safety net everyone should be paying for. Equally.

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 29 2012 1:39 AM EST

It is very hard to put all successful people into the "given advantages" column.
No one is trying to and wouldn't call them successful if it was given.
Find the devote use of the word success to be ambiguous. Can't say all of success are rich as they may not pay debts. Can't say all rich are successful as they could have got hit by an SUV or literally won the lottery. What is defined as rich can in itself be murky from person to person.
They use less government resources than the less fortunate
but they pay far more income tax. Is that fair?
Conjecture on both counts.

Would be better for your article to play with numbers as you did with an earlier post and bring in a full list of taxable resources you heavily consider in a following post please. eg) sales, housing, water & gas, etc

AdminNemesia [Demonic Serenity] January 29 2012 1:55 AM EST

I am the opinion that we are only as good as the weakest and worst off among us in society. The government is the manager of that society and it should be doing its best to get everyone in the best place possible. In translating this to taxes I highly support a progressive tax that is then used smartly.

I am also of the opinion that you can reach points of absurd excessiveness that should never ever be allowed. Namely that any one person should never be able to get too far ahead of everyone as a whole in the society. Basically I don't think there should be an absurd ratio of around 400 to 1 for the income of rich people compared with the average. There should be reasonable limits on affluence. As for what those limits would be I wouldn't say that you need to make them hard capped, but I think it should be guided towards making a soft cap at around 10-1.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 29 2012 2:31 AM EST

As for what those limits would be I wouldn't say that you need to make them hard capped, but I think it should be guided towards making a soft cap at around 10-1.

I would move and do business elsewhere... you know... like corporations are doing in America.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 11:21 AM EST

But you pay more because you make more. There should be no hidden "success" bonus tax.

the exact opposite of this is what we have now with capital gains, it is a hidden working class bonus tax. i do like that you have set capital gains and income tax equal.

taking what nat posted, i think the only type of tax system that would be worthy of changing to would be one that would give allowances/deductions for the right things if they were truly using them and not for those who don't. if people are putting money away for their children's education, going back to school themselves, buying nutritious food, seeing a family doctor, buying health insurance, etc.

i have no idea how to implement such a system and it does give much power to some agency that would then enforce this but i believe it would be a worthy endeavor to actually help the people on the edge try to get themselves further along rather than just blaming them for their own misfortune.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 11:24 AM EST

to be precise, i am not talking about taking money from one taxpayer and giving it to another but rather letting people keep more of the money they have made if they are using it to improve their lot in life.

QBRanger January 29 2012 12:21 PM EST

The problem with such a system as you propose Dude, is that we start to get more and more deductions on what some people think are righteous goals.

A flat tax, with a personal deduction only, lets people have a tax free income up to a point. That point can be raised or lowered.

i do like that you have set capital gains and income tax equal.

After a lot of thinking, I came to the personal conclusion that all income should be treated equally.

As for what those limits would be I wouldn't say that you need to make them hard capped, but I think it should be guided towards making a soft cap at around 10-1.

The average family income is somewhere about 50k a year. So you propose a cap about 500k a year?

That would destroy America as we know it.

Capitalism is the ability to make a product or a service and get paid for it what you can. Legally of course.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 12:22 PM EST

wouldn't the best way to have a fair system though be one where everyone can afford to pay an equal amount?

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 29 2012 12:35 PM EST

An equal percentage or an equal amount?

QBRanger January 29 2012 12:35 PM EST

wouldn't the best way to have a fair system though be one where everyone can afford to pay an equal amount?

Not sure what you mean by that.

Everyone pays the same amount as in everyone pay 15k to the govt and that is it?

Or everyone pays what they can afford to pay?

Then you get into what and who determines what is "affordable" to everyone.

It would be best, of course, if everyone is successful, if everyone makes 1M a year. But people are different. With different abilities and drive.
Th

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 12:39 PM EST

i think the fairest system would be one where everyone could afford to pay an equal amount, wouldn't it?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 12:41 PM EST

theoretically i should state.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 29 2012 12:45 PM EST

An equal percentage or an equal amount?

QBRanger January 29 2012 12:46 PM EST

Yes,

Where everyone could afford to pay would be best. But in a capitalistic society there will be people who are very successful down to people who are just not.

The problem I have is that some on the other side think it is the governments role to have outcomes be equal rather than opportunity.

At least with a flat tax with deductions, it gives people some chance to pay no tax to a point. I realize it is not perfect, or possible even great. But it is better, in my mind, than the current maze of tax provisions we have now.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 12:51 PM EST

i have said equal amount twice now! ; )

theoretically again, are there enough jobs in america, that pay enough, for everyone to do this right now?

QBRanger January 29 2012 12:53 PM EST

i have said equal amount twice now! ; )

I must be confused as is Titan about what you mean exactly.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 12:54 PM EST

theoretically i see the fairest system is one where everyone can afford to foot an equal share of the bill. therefore everyone would pay an equal amount.

QBRanger January 29 2012 1:00 PM EST

theoretically i see the fairest system is one where everyone can afford to foot an equal share of the bill. therefore everyone would pay an equal amount.

In theory, sure.

But the real world is far from a theoretical.

In a capitalistic society there will be winners and losers. Is that fair? Maybe not, maybe so. But almost everyone has the chance to succeed and their actions determine how successful they are.

Unlike other countries such as China or most in Africa, in the US we have the freedom to try to succeed.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 1:01 PM EST

theoretically again, are there enough jobs in america, that pay enough, for everyone to do this right now?

QBRanger January 29 2012 1:01 PM EST

But I think we are leaving the topic in the OP.

Thanks everyone for your posts and I think I have enough information for my article.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 1:05 PM EST

the system is stacked against the people that you continually blame for their own situation is it not?

since you are pulling out of the discussion i will come to my point now, the main distinction i see between your point of view and others here is whether life in america is considered a team or individual sport.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 29 2012 1:09 PM EST

So you think if everyone made like 300k+ we should all pay 30K in taxes say, regardless if you made 300k 600k or 3M a year?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 1:14 PM EST

in theory that would be the fairest system would it not?

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 1:16 PM EST

What Nat is saying here:

I am the opinion that we are only as good as the weakest and worst off among us in society. The government is the manager of that society and it should be doing its best to get everyone in the best place possible. In translating this to taxes I highly support a progressive tax that is then used smartly.

is, to me, the next logical conclusion when one asks oneself, "how much of what is mine is truly mine, and what was given to me by my genetics, ancestors, and society?"

And I would add to what Nat says by asking folks to remember, WE are the government. So WE are the manager that is being spoken of.

Getting back to wealth and "worth", I'll use an extreme example of where someone owes society and genetics for the bulk of what they have: sports stars. I'm not saying these stars don't work hard, but have they worked as hard as you, Ranger? If I were born to become 8 feet tall, have a nice jump shot, and then stay in shape, I could go into basketball and make, say, $200,000 a year (and we all know that is not even close to the high end).

Are you saying that person EARNED that money, individually? First off, being tall is genetic, augmented by good nutrition (that a stable family will have given the man in the example I am using). Second, he is a man -- when is the last time you heard about a woman making 150 million dollars over ten years like Pujols? Third, professional sports wouldn't even EXIST if we didn't live in a secure, specialized society where people had the money and desire to see grown men run around playing games.

So how much of that money is his? Being shorter, malnourished, a woman, or simply living in a less specialized society would take that potential millionaire from being rich to being average. From the high tail of the curve down to smack dab in the middle.

That's why wealth isn't a matter of "worth" or "deserve". The individual does not translate into wealth in a consistent fashion, and a great deal of what people start with and have to use is based on lottery/luck.

That's why I believe in a progressive tax. I don't believe in a 10-to-1 cap (progressiveness already can build s related construct in). Though, I am thinking Nat was referring to individuals, not corporations, when 10-to-1 was mentioned. Another reason corps shouldn't be considered people -- it muddles the lines and makes it harder to do what is good for each separately when they are considered one in the same. And no, I don't think Unions should have whatever special treatment you mentioned previously, Ranger.

QBRanger January 29 2012 1:18 PM EST

Theory and reality are 2 different beasts.

What one theorizes in the ivory towers of academics does not work in the trenches. Usually.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 29 2012 1:22 PM EST

And I would add to what Nat says by asking folks to remember, WE are the government. So WE are the manager that is being spoken of.

I'm pretty sure that ship sailed many decades ago, or maybe that's just me?

Are you saying that person EARNED that money

Capitalism's job isn't to pay the person who worked the hardest the most. Capitalism pays people the most, when the market and society deems their activity very valuable to the society. Because sport stars bring entertainment to millions of people, they are rewarded. The same with actors and all the other of those type of jobs.

The only problem with this, is that after a certain amount of compensation, it no longer make a increases the incentive for someone. I.E. does raising doctors' average yearly salary from 250k to 300k create incentive for more people to become doctors and more people to do it well. It's very hard to judge this in a society, both free market and government controlled. I still think that in general, free market tends to do a better job though.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 1:22 PM EST

you were speaking in theory as well though, or do you believe we are a pure capitalistic society?

so let's bring it down to earth then, do we even have enough jobs in america now to expect people to pay your proposed tax system or inherently will a certain percentage of the population, through the numbers alone, be stuck in poverty and forced to take the deductions through no fault of their own?

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 1:44 PM EST

I'm pretty sure that ship sailed many decades ago, or maybe that's just me?

If it did it is because we let it happen. *shrug* If you're OK with that, then sure -- consider the ship sailed. Not a very helpful attitude, though, is it? So you've really given up, and are now just doing whatever to get by?

Capitalism's job isn't to pay the person who worked the hardest the most.

Capitalism is an economic system. I thought we were talking about our social system. So I'm not sure I see your point.

But it is eye-opening... If you've given up on democracy and consider capitalism to be both our economic AND social system, then yeah. I can see why these other concepts being thrown around wouldn't mean much to you.

And Ranger, if I'm not mistaken, isn't your idea of a flat tax pure theory, too? Why point out the difference between reality and theory when we already ARE having a purely theoretical conversation? In any case, most of what I have posted IS reality -- are you saying sports starts don't make millions of dollars a year based mostly on what they had at birth? You never answered my question -- do you think Albert Pujols worked harder than you for his wealth? You have no problem telling everyone else about how hard you had it and how hard you had to work to get where you are, so where's the other side of that? Why aren't you talking about how unfair it is that someone who worked LESS has orders of magnitude more than you? And in the case of a sports star, he got that wealth in a way that you can NEVER hope to achieve simply because you didn't win the physical attributes lottery.

Theory or reality, I'd really like to know your thoughts/answers to the specific questions I've posed. Sometimes it seems the more specific I get, the more vague, hand-waving you get. Why is that?

QBRanger January 29 2012 2:15 PM EST

And Ranger, if I'm not mistaken, isn't your idea of a flat tax pure theory, too? Why point out the difference between reality and theory when we already ARE having a purely theoretical conversation? In any case, most of what I have posted IS reality -- are you saying sports starts don't make millions of dollars a year based mostly on what they had at birth? You never answered my question -- do you think Albert Pujols worked harder than you for his wealth? You have no problem telling everyone else about how hard you had it and how hard you had to work to get where you are, so where's the other side of that? Why aren't you talking about how unfair it is that someone who worked LESS has orders of magnitude more than you? And in the case of a sports star, he got that wealth in a way that you can NEVER hope to achieve simply because you didn't win the physical attributes lottery.

Excellent questions.

I think Pujols adds more to society than I do and full well deserves whatever he can make. He has a special skill that entertains people and as such deserves what he can get in the free market.

My idea of a flat tax is theoretical, however it is based upon some degree of realism, something which can be accomplished. The idea that everyone makes 300k a year or that we have enough excellent paying jobs for everyone is beyond realistic.

If people work less than me, but give something to society that people want and make more that is perfectly great with me.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 2:20 PM EST

i took the theory out of it for you and you still haven't responded, are there currently enough jobs so that everyone under your tax plan can contribute to our society or is the system stacked against some?

QBRanger January 29 2012 2:20 PM EST

And in the case of a sports star, he got that wealth in a way that you can NEVER hope to achieve simply because you didn't win the physical attributes lottery.

Certainly. And I begrudge him nothing for his ability. He is a 1 in 100 million specimen.

However, I have other abilities that let me be successful in what I do. And be successful enough to provide for my family.

I envy nobody for their success. Even those that inherited theirs. Good for them to be successful.

QBRanger January 29 2012 2:43 PM EST

I took the theory out of it for you and you still haven't responded, are there currently enough jobs so that everyone under your tax plan can contribute to our society or is the system stacked against some?

In any non-utopian society there of course are likely not enough jobs for everyone who wants a great paying job.

However, the does not mean that someone who is currently less well off cannot through, whether it be luck, hard work, or just karma, become successful.

Capitalism and America is not utopia by any means. But out of all the systems and countries we have on Earth today, it is the one I am most proud to be a member of. There is nowhere else I would rather live.

It is here that you have as equal an opportunity as one can have to become uber successful.

Is the system stacked against some? Probably. However, we try as a society to remove most obstacles to success. Sometimes with policies we succeed, other times we fail. But in a country with 300 million people one cannot be "fair" to everyone at all times. One can just try to give people the opportunities to become successful.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 2:55 PM EST

i never asked about great paying jobs, do we have enough of all jobs for everyone who wants a job to have one?

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 3:01 PM EST

would you agree to this statement: the system is designed so that a certain percentage of people will not be able to contribute to the tax system, even if they wanted to, due to the fact that there are more people than jobs and thus they will be forced to rely upon the system?

QBRanger January 29 2012 4:07 PM EST

i never asked about great paying jobs, do we have enough of all jobs for everyone who wants a job to have one?

I don't know the exact answer. The unemployment numbers suggest no.

Or is it just not enough people trained for the jobs out there?

would you agree to this statement: the system is designed so that a certain percentage of people will not be able to contribute to the tax system, even if they wanted to, due to the fact that there are more people than jobs and thus they will be forced to rely upon the system?

Again, I do not know about the number of jobs vs the number of people really looking for them.

I do agree with the fact there will always be some people that have to rely on the system at some point for some length of time. I know quite a few people who have had to use the governments safety net for a time until they were able to get back on their feet.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 4:25 PM EST

with the unemployment rates as high as they are and with this being a nationwide trend rather than limited to just part of the country it is fairly obvious that we have more people than we do jobs.

QBRanger January 29 2012 4:29 PM EST

In some parts of the country the unemployment rate is less than 5%. Most economists know that there is a base unemployment rate of somewhere between 3-5%. That is, no matter what you do to stimulate the job sector, some people will still be unemployed due to a mismatch of training and job openings, a lack of will to work etc..

We can do a lot to stimulate job growth, however that is likely for another more political and polarized discussion.

If you wish to make a new thread on that, I would be happy to contribute, but not in this one as it is getting way off the topic of a flat tax.

http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

Some states are as low as 3.3%.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 4:46 PM EST

here is a site where you can put in any time frame you want and see the national average for that time. putting in 1970 to now is a pretty good indication of our history at providing enough jobs as a nation.

http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet

remember though that those numbers are only people actively seeking, those that have given up hope won't be included in the numbers.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 4:48 PM EST

hmm, that link seems broken. try this one:

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 4:52 PM EST

sorry, i forgot to address why this is pertinent. it is difficult to develop and kind of fair taxation if you do not realize how unfair the underlying system actually is. in effect, there is much difference between these people are unwilling to contribute and that the system is skewed so that a certain percentage have to be unable to contribute.

it is also important to realize what our true problems are as a country otherwise we spend time, money and other resources addressing things that won't help the real issues in which case we would do better using any resources to address the real issues.

QBRanger January 29 2012 5:02 PM EST

sorry, i forgot to address why this is pertinent. it is difficult to develop and kind of fair taxation if you do not realize how unfair the underlying system actually is. in effect, there is much difference between these people are unwilling to contribute and that the system is skewed so that a certain percentage have to be unable to contribute.

Unfair what underlying system is? The current tax system?

And what do you mean by "unwilling" to contribute? I do not want to pay taxes, but understand why they are needed. Do I want to contribute more, no freaking way. But I do, as long as the system is fair to me as well as to the people on the opposite end of the wage scale, I can live with that.

it is also important to realize what our true problems are as a country otherwise we spend time, money and other resources addressing things that won't help the real issues in which case we would do better using any resources to address the real issues.

Well what one side perceives as a problem the other side does not. It is easy to state "xxx" is a problem, but is it really?

We can chat at length about how utterly disgraceful our current school system is. How having more school choice would be beneficial to lower income families. But then again, the huge teacher union would take the opposite approach and say all we need to do is flood more money into the current system. Even though we spend more per student then almost any county in the world.

Different perspectives.

But I am not sure what your end point of your posts are. Is it that the top earners have a moral obligation to pay the most in both amount and percentage since there are people who are destined to never have a job and have to live off the governments charity?

I do not believe a flat tax with deductions is unfair. It allows people to have a base income free of tax. It does not effect those without jobs as they pay no tax anyway.

I do not see how your posts about jobs are applicable to the flat tax discussion unless you are advocating a heavily progressive system. Which I personally believe punishes those that succeed.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 5:30 PM EST

we do have to remember that with our booming population even a steady unemployment rate means more and more people won't be having a job each year. we also have people living longer and even being able to work longer.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 29 2012 5:40 PM EST

But I am not sure what your end point of your posts are. Is it that the top earners have a moral obligation to pay the most in both amount and percentage since there are people who are destined to never have a job and have to live off the governments charity?

missed this, that is close but i was more just trying to get you to understand that some of those without jobs have not chosen that path for themselves but the system needs a certain percentage. even people that have chosen that or embraced it, if they change their mind it will likely cause someone else to be pushed down.

the population that cannot contribute will grow over time as well. if we are going to spend quite a bit of resources perhaps we could do it in a manner that allows more people to be able to contribute.

QBRanger January 29 2012 6:57 PM EST

the population that cannot contribute will grow over time as well. if we are going to spend quite a bit of resources perhaps we could do it in a manner that allows more people to be able to contribute.

And as you or Sut state, the devil is in the details.

But as far as tax policy itself, fair should be fair, no? Fair to all who pay into the system.

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 10:21 PM EST

I envy nobody for their success. Even those that inherited theirs. Good for them to be successful.

I can;t really count the number of things horrifying about this statement, so I'll just say I just want to make sure the record shows that you brought "envy" into this. I haven't seen the word (I certainly haven't used it or felt it this whole time)on this thread until now. So, that projection is all in your head, as most projections are, I suppose (and very telling). You think anyone who wishes to discuss fairness is coming from a place of envy. And yet you ask for help for your blog article on an open forum? Kudos for the worst strawman in history...I guess?

And if you think a guy who plays _games_ for a living gives more to society than you do, well, I guess I mis-read your sense of self-importance. Because I can't let myself believe you think a game player of a game less than a few centuries old (a game, if that isn't clear yet) has more importance than a healer of people -- something that has been important for millenia).

But I can't figure out if that says more about you or society as a whole, and I sure as hell know how convenient it is for your side of the argument. So, well played.

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 10:36 PM EST

Just to make sure, yep. No mention of "envy" in the thread (I checked for "jealous" and even "covet", just to be sure!) until Ranger mentioned it.

To make sure this doesn't come off as an "ad hominem" attack, I'll state a few things in chronological order:

1. Ranger posted asking for genuine help about a tax policy idea. It's a good topic.

2. Several people, including myself, offered points and counterpoints to help out. Decent debate ensued, and it looks as if it was helpful to Ranger for his article project.

3. People brought up many ideas and scenarios, one of which tackled the "worth" issue.

4. When a specific idea was broached (by me, yes) -- that a professional baseball player is not more important to society than a physician -- the originator of the thread (Ranger) resorted to what can only be described as a strawman argument when he said he doesn't "envy anyone of anything". Problem is, no one said anything envy. This is a strawman...the "light" version, but a strawman, nonetheless.

Last I checked, that sort of thing was frowned upon on the Debates forum. I'm not around a lot, though, so maybe I missed an update? Are we in a Changemonth?

QBRanger January 29 2012 10:46 PM EST

Ok, take the word envy and exchange it with begrudge or care. Or worry about etc...

If you really want to discuss fairness, let us do so.

I will start:

If we let taxation be about "fairness," rather than paying for the cost of government, the two big problems we have are defining "fairness," and defining the role of government in promoting it. Those questions will never be settled to the satisfaction of all.

It might seem that the first question - "what is fair" - is the more contentious one. We discuss it incessantly, after all. But the more fundamental question is actually what government should be doing about fairness.

Thus, I reject the whole idea that government needs to keep an eye on the citizens' incomes, and worry about "fairness" as if the numbers are a meaningful indicator of it. For much of American history, no government at any level actually knew how much income individual citizens had. That was not a problem. It didnメt need correction.

The way to discuss the tax code is not in terms of "fairness," as if the government should be charged with using taxation to establish conditions according to a "fairness" index, but in terms of what needs paying for and how weメre going to collect revenue for that purpose.

If an athlete makes more than me, or a movie star makes 100x what I make, I do not care. He is getting paid for his or her skills and abilities and what society will pay for it.

I stated that I, personally, as Ranger himself, do not envy anyone for their success. Do others? I do not know or care. I do not begrudge anyone making money fairly and legally.

Perhaps envy was a wrong word to use. Perhaps I should have stated begrudge or better yet use the word "care".

But I can't figure out if that says more about you or society as a whole, and I sure as hell know how convenient it is for your side of the argument. So, well played.

It is what our society be. Is a teacher really worth more than an athlete? But Pujols puts people in the stands, and entertains them. I am one of 10k Radiologists of which about 500 can do the exact job I can. Pujols is far more specialized and while he does not heal people, he does give joy and heartbreak to millions.

Well played? I guess my thoughts are very cohesive and logical. I do not begrudge, worry, get upset or even care about anyone's income aside from my own.

But, I do worry about being asked to pay a higher percentage for this nebulous concept of "fairness". Especially when almost 50% pay no federal income tax at all.

QBRanger January 29 2012 10:51 PM EST

4. When a specific idea was broached (by me, yes) -- that a professional baseball player is not more important to society than a physician -- the originator of the thread (Ranger) resorted to what can only be described as a strawman argument when he said he doesn't "envy anyone of anything". Problem is, no one said anything envy. This is a strawman...the "light" version, but a strawman, nonetheless.

Perhaps if you asked me why I used the word envy, I could have clarified that is was not the right word to use in this discussion. But instead you went on a standard "this is a strawman" attack.

I never said others were envious, I only typed and meant I was not. I am sorry if that was not completely and totally crystal clear and am sorry if I implied that others might feel that way. I see how that could have been viewed.

So let me ask you a question Sut:

Why do you care what others make and how much taxes they pay? Why do they have to pay a higher percent in the idea of "fairness"?

Since you are not envious or jealous of what they make, why does it matter to you?

And please do not tell me you never ever said "why could that not be me making all that money?" or "why could I have not won that lottery?"
Because if you have never, ever said something like that, you may be the only person in America who has never.

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 11:15 PM EST

Perhaps envy was a wrong word to use. Perhaps I should have stated begrudge or better yet use the word "care".

Well, "begrudge" would still mean what you probably meant it to mean (and not at all be related to what I was saying), and "care" would be something else entirely.

Semantics, though. You're backing out of the implied strawman, so we'll call it good. Only you can know what your intent was there, so I'll trust you.

It is what our society be. Is a teacher really worth more than an athlete? But Pujols puts people in the stands, and entertains them. I am one of 10k Radiologists of which about 500 can do the exact job I can. Pujols is far more specialized and while he does not heal people, he does give joy and heartbreak to millions.

You've entirely missed my point.

I had no idea that was what societal worth was based on -- the ability to touch hearts. Because I hear a lot of folks talking (maybe even you?) about the Occupy folks, saying, "Waaaa, art major, maybe you should have thought about things and chosen something real, something USEFUL, before you went 75 grand in debt and didn't have a job..." Who is trying to give joy or heartbreak more than a painter, author, sculptor, or dancer? These folks are being routinely vilified right now, ask any artsy teacher in Wisconsin, for example. Programs are getting cut, and they ain't football.

So you would respond, "If an artist can make it, great, and they should get to keep their wealth!" Fine. It doesn't matter, because you already mis-read me at this point when you state: "Is a teacher really worth more than an athlete?" I didn't say anyone was worth _more_ than someone else. In fact, I was going in a completely different direction, one which you haven't set foot toward (as far as I can tell).

I wasn't using Pujols as an example of something "better", I was using him as an example of being exactly the same in the sense that his gifts are not his own.

He didn't work any harder than you, Ranger. The same diatribe you lay out any time someone talks about sacrifice, how you gave and gave and worked and worked, so therefore you "deserve". He didn't work any harder than you, and you didn't work any harder than him. Because the fact is, neither of you tell me anything you had or did that wasn't given to you, or at least shared in the burden.

That's my point. Not envy. Not fairness. Not who is better. The whole point is that we're all the same and we've been given big fat lottery winnings. The only problem is, some pay-outs are inexplicably bigger than others. At least, "inexplicable" in the sense that you can't say that "work" or "worth" or "deserve" is what got it there.

That's why Albert Pujols should have to pay more (progressively speaking) than someone making $50,000 a year. The more wealth someone's gifts get them, the more gifts they have to pay back.

Consider it a downpayment for the next generation of greatness. Because, hey, if Pujols is all that, surely we're going to need something even better soon, right? The mana from heaven needs to keep getting meatier.

QBRanger January 29 2012 11:45 PM EST

Consider it a downpayment for the next generation of greatness. Because, hey, if Pujols is all that, surely we're going to need something even better soon, right? The mana from heaven needs to keep getting meatier.

Seems I read that somewhere... Ah yes... Elizabeth Warren. Typing about a social contract that is somewhere unstated but "real".

But is it the governments role to enact a "fairness" doctrine?

I say no, it is the governments job to pay for what it needs to pay for.

Because I hear a lot of folks talking (maybe even you?) about the Occupy folks, saying, "Waaaa, art major, maybe you should have thought about things and chosen something real, something USEFUL, before you went 75 grand in debt and didn't have a job..."

Yes, I feel that exact way. They made a choice to go into that much debt for something they know might not pay the bills. I made the choice to go into the medical field. One consideration was that I would have a job and it was and is a growing field.

Because the fact is, neither of you tell me anything you had or did that wasn't given to you, or at least shared in the burden.

And as such paying my equal share of taxes, based upon how much I make seems very "fair" to me.

I see and understand you point completely. I am not saying it is not valid to some people. Just wrong from where I stand.

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 11:45 PM EST

First off, my fingers are slow -- I cover the "envy" issue above. I thought your "envy" usage was an implied strawman, but that wasn't my call to make. I'm trusting you that it wasn't, and will now apologize within the benefit of that doubt. I'm sorry. The word "envy" set me off from some previous things you've said about me that I didn't appreciate -- no excuse, though.

I'll answer your questions straight up.

Why do you care what others make and how much taxes they pay? Why do they have to pay a higher percent in the idea of "fairness"?

As a base instinct, I don't. I don't care about others. I'm compassionate, but I don't generally give a fecal outburst about anyone else unless I know them and they've earned my respect. So no, Albert Pujols doesn't fall into that camp. *smile*

The progressive rate idea isn't mine, and it isn't personal. It's just math. Many lines or curves could be used for a tax structure. Straight doesn't seem to be enough for me. I don't think about it much beyond what I've already said. I've stated why straight doesn't quite do it for me -- I'm not sure what else to say. But if you attribute it to me being envious (or begrudging, or caring), that says a LOT more about you than me. That much I can assure you.

Since you are not envious or jealous of what they make, why does it matter to you?

Because society does matter to me: education policy, defense policy, budget, taxes -- I'm a part of this. Titan thinks the ship has sailed -- I still believe WE are the government. So this _has_ to matter. It matters like the driver in the next lane, the person in the checkout who might have a gun, etc. The more I think about it, the more your question is inane -- how CAN'T it matter to you? This is our nation and society we're talking about! If it doesn't matter, why are you writing blog articles about ANY of this?

And please do not tell me you never ever said "why could that not be me making all that money?" or "why could I have not won that lottery?" Because if you have never, ever said something like that, you may be the only person in America who has never.

I have never said why couldn't I make all that money. Because I make plenty, am happy with it, realize how not-from-me my attributes are, and I don't want for much (I have a fifteen year old 32-inch non-HD tube TV and love it. Do I need to say more than that on that front?)

I have never said why can't I win that lottery. I know why I don't win, because I didn't play. Never have, in fact. Additionally, I have great respect for the various studies and news articles/shows that have been done which reveal that when people win the lottery, things don't change much for them in the long term (something I might have guessed -- I'm sort of phronimotic that way). Enlightening public radio shows...try some!

And if you think I'm the only person "who has never"... *sigh* Damn, Ranger, I have felt sorry for you before, but this is a new one. I know sooo many people who "have never". These are the folks I love and respect and try to surround myself with. You appear to eschew them, your first line of defense being the predictable, "you can't possibly exist!" and "if you DO exist, you must be the only one!"

Very sad. Those schema tricks? I learned how to defeat them (and reap the accompanying highs and lows of realizing what a sad sack of cells my brain was in that regard) when I was 19 years old in a Stereotyping class. You're textbook. And that class? Another gift given to me not by myself. I was lucky to have that education, and I cherish it and use it every day.

Lord Bob January 29 2012 11:50 PM EST

Why do you care what others make and how much taxes they pay?
It's not the taxes we care about. It's making sure the under class isn't trampled. The money has to come from somewhere, and the people who need assistance can't be asked to pay for that assistance.

QBsutekh137 January 29 2012 11:51 PM EST

I see and understand you point completely. I am not saying it is not valid to some people. Just wrong from where I stand.

And I, you (and I don't even consider you "wrong" -- we disagree, and that's OK. There's no right and wrong to this).

You eschew the idea of a social contract on one hand, but on the other say you don't mind paying "equal share"... The social contract is what decides that "equal share", and that is where we differ. Just the math. You think linear is good enough. I want to get some polynomials up in here. "shrug" The good news about being on the wrong end of those polynomials is that you STILL have way more than a lot of other folks! A lot of folks who have worked just as hard or harder than you, from a worse "lottery" starting point! You wonder how I can be wanting to "take your earned wealth", and I'm wondering how you can't want to level things out!

QBRanger January 29 2012 11:55 PM EST

The progressive rate idea isn't mine, and it isn't personal. It's just math. Many lines or curves could be used for a tax structure. Straight doesn't seem to be enough for me. I don't think about it much beyond what I've already said. I've stated why straight doesn't quite do it for me -- I'm not sure what else to say. But if you attribute it to me being envious (or begrudging, or caring), that says a LOT more about you than me. That much I can assure you.

I never stated in this thread you were envious. Again, I was wrong to use that word. If you cannot get over that, we have nothing more to discuss.

But if you do get over it, I see your point yet completely disagree. Not when we have 47% of the country paying 0 federal income taxes. Not when the top 10% of earners pay 70% of federal income tax.

I believe everyone should have skin in the game. Since when you do not, it is quite easy to say "lets raise the rates on the others".

The more I think about it, the more your question is inane -- how CAN'T it matter to you? This is our nation and society we're talking about! If it doesn't matter, why are you writing blog articles about ANY of this?

Now who is using a Strawman argument. I never stated, or implied I do not care about our society. Our nation. I care as much if not more than you. I wrote about you caring about the taxes other pay. They are not the same.

I have never said why can't I win that lottery.

Then Sut, you truly are a gifted person. Since everyone I know has said, sometimes jokingly, that they wished they won the lottery. I certainly have even though I never play it. Especially when I see someone winning 200M. It is a fleeting thought, never really serious but still it does come at times.

But I think the take home point is that you believe the government should be in the business of deciding what is "fair" with fair not being equal. While I believe that fair is equal with regards to tax policy.

I know no amount of typing will change the others opinion.

QBRanger January 30 2012 12:05 AM EST

I'm wondering how you can't want to level things out!

Because I do not wish America to become a socialistic democracy. I believe in equal opportunity not equal outcomes.

I firmly believe in a rising tide raises all ships theory of economics.

I have see it work and experienced it first hand by who I hire and fire. When I have more money in my pocket, I go out more, buy more, and overall spend more. Take money away some years, I have spent less.

I see and understand you point completely. I am not saying it is not valid to some people. Just wrong from where I stand.

And I see where you, Dude and LB all come from. Yet disagree completely. But this is something where we can agree to disagree.

Lord Bob January 30 2012 12:18 AM EST

I hope you do understand there is a difference between can't and won't.
And I meant can't. I know what I wrote, and I wrote it very deliberately.

It is quite discouraging to see patients in the ER refusing to pay their bills while they have the nice gold teeth, talk on the Iphone and drive their Mustang to the ER.
Another straw man argument (spell checker doesn't like it when I write that as one word). This is not the first time you have characterized every person in the lower middle class as a flashy, wasteful, irresponsible moron. This is the kind of dismissive, condescending attitude that makes it very hard to have a respectful debate with you. I am asking you, for the sake of your own plea for civility, to not do this again.

People want free healthcare but do not want to pay for it.
As I was writing my previous response I was reminded of a trend common with Republicans and right-wing pundits on TV (and these forums) during the health care debates.

In the middle of a conversation they would say "now hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, *sticks fingers up in air* who's going to pay for it? Ah? Ah? Yeah.." with a huge self satisfied grin on their face, expecting the liberals in the audience to all gasp in unison over how, oh how could they ever have missed such an important point! Wow, this guy sure showed us!

Problem is, nope, you didn't get us. This isn't something that all us poor, lazy, gold-teeth bearing liberals just aren't smart enough to think up on our own. The infamous "no free lunch" cliche isn't a wake-up call. We have a very simple answer to the "who's going to pay for it" question: the same people who paid for Iraq.

So please, in the interest of keeping this debate civil, which is something you asked for, let's please dispense with the whole "don't want to pay for it" nonsense. Let's also agree to throw out the gold-toothed liberal, and any other left-wing caricatures as well.

QBsutekh137 January 30 2012 12:19 AM EST

Then Sut, you truly are a gifted person.

At least we finally got to this truth! I AM gifted! And I feel bad that you actually, even jokingly, talk about wanting to win the lottery... It's simply never occurred to me and has never come up, and then came the studies that made me think about it (but made me think I would never want such a thing -- talk about unhappiness!)

Though, let me reiterate, my gifts are not my own, so I believe in a progressive tax to "pay it back" to society.

Oh, and the reason a lot of the 47% folks don't pay taxes is because they are either a) broke, or b) can hide things from year to year to look like they made nothing. My dad once made it look like our annual income was something below $1000 dollars (that was not the day-to-day case). It's not hard to do, and some percentage of folks are always going to do it. Tack on the 20 or so percent living in poverty (or near it), and that whole 47% figure is entirely understandable to me. I figured you to be beyond such sensationalist tactics, Ranger

If you want to "raise the tide", get more people a living wage. You'd be amazed how much that figure would reduce if the middle class were able to have their work equate to more "upper" and less "lower". Where are your job creators? Oh yeah, I forgot, "Obamacare" and "uncertainty" are to blame for the rest.

QBsutekh137 January 30 2012 12:22 AM EST

Let's also agree to throw out the gold-toothed liberal, and any other left-wing caricatures as well.

* Sutekh sighs, setting his pliers back on the desk. He dismantles his mini-smelter and places a tiny, tiny gold bar back on the shelf inside a silk sleeve. This is not the time for caricature. Not the time. *

Lord Bob January 30 2012 12:23 AM EST

And I feel bad that you actually, even jokingly, talk about wanting to win the lottery...
I would love to win the lottery! I'm not even sure what I would do with all that money.

But I don't play the lottery, because I hate gambling, so I guess I'm screwed.

AdminNemesia [Demonic Serenity] January 30 2012 1:01 AM EST

So basically this is a debate between wanting a more fair society and wanting a more fair economy.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 30 2012 1:04 AM EST

But I don't play the lottery, because I hate gambling, so I guess I'm screwed.

I figured it was something like "I don't play the lottery because I r good at math." That's why I don't play.

Lord Bob January 30 2012 1:04 AM EST

So basically this is a debate between wanting a more fair society and wanting a more fair economy.
No, because a fair economy wouldn't be so favorable to the 1% either. A fair society and a free market economy is more like it.

Lord Bob January 30 2012 1:05 AM EST

I figured it was something like "I don't play the lottery because I r good at math."
That too. *grin*

QBRanger January 30 2012 1:07 AM EST

Another straw man argument (spell checker doesn't like it when I write that as one word). This is not the first time you have characterized every person in the lower middle class as a flashy, wasteful, irresponsible moron. This is the kind of dismissive, condescending attitude that makes it very hard to have a respectful debate with you. I am asking you, for the sake of your own plea for civility, to not do this again.

I never said everyone. I have stated this to be a significant portion of the people we see in the ER. If you do not wish me to tell the truth, do not read this thread.

Again, I have NOT ever characterized EVERY person in the lower middle class as whatever you put what words in my mouth. For the sake of civility, you stop it.

Where are your job creators? Oh yeah, I forgot, "Obamacare" and "uncertainty" are to blame for the rest.

Yep. Look at the recovery in this recession vs others in the past 50 years. Anemic now. Why? Uncertainly, threat of increased taxes, another unpaid entitlement. At least you do understand why little jobs are being created.

I can tell you the company I work for in Arizona fired 2 people due to the future costs associated with Obamacare. And have not hired to replace them due to the "uncertainty" of the future tax code. They are tired of being talked about as evil successful businesspeople.

Thing like the Keystone pipeline with up to 20k job years are being slammed shut. Drilling stopped. Any wonder why there are few jobs?

Oh, and the reason a lot of the 47% folks don't pay taxes is

But in the interest of "fairness" should not people pay something in taxes? Yes, there are some making so little as to pay no taxes, but 47% of Americans paying nothing? And you want to raise mine?

How is that "fair"?

QBRanger January 30 2012 1:11 AM EST

So basically this is a debate between wanting a more fair society and wanting a more fair economy.

Again, one has to define fair. I think fair is equated to equal. Others do not.

And what is a fair economy? A socialistic one where "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is the mantra? Is such an economy fair to those that produce the most? To those that go to school for 13 years vs those that do not?

A "fair" society to me is one where everyone has the chance to succeed. Where you end up, who knows. You are just given the chance. What you make of it is up to you.

Lord Bob January 30 2012 1:16 AM EST

I spoke of those who cannot buy access to basic goods and services. You tried to change my "can't" to a "wont" then set up the aforementioned gold-toothed caricature as the representative example of who I was talking about. It was absolutely a straw man, and I will again politely ask that you refrain from this in the future. Your tone hardly warrants such a polite request, but in the interest of getting things back on track I'm willing to let it slide this time.

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 30 2012 1:40 AM EST

Unlike other countries such as China or most in Africa, in the US we have the freedom to try to succeed.
I'm quick to argue that China is more capitalistic than us which is carried by their huge developments in Africa.
Some of our freedoms to succeed have come from deductions and socialist programs.
What one theorizes in the ivory towers of academics does not work in the trenches.
Silly books, guns are for kids.

Success.....know what, I see the equal opportunities in society to be exclusive from capitalism most times. Un-American I know so hear me out.
Say we take boy in Nebraska. Say he's part Irish, but distant relative of two presidents, goes to public schools, flunks out twice from an ivy college, gets a DUI. Should have been drafted for a war, but piled on deferments to stay in college. He would then grow to be a CEO of Halliburton. Capitalism was an opportunity given by society. The seeds of success comes from within a supporting society. The freedom to work in any way you can is from society.
Now! With capitalism this boy has become a man. The opportunities for success in this field go along the lines of venture capitalism, stock trading, loan scamming, land lording, enslaving Korean children, trade monopolies, and buying out companies from under other success stories. How equal are we when your hard work can be taken away by the wealth of another and can you really be considered a success by taking the success of others as your own? If you don't do the activities listed, you aren't a success right?
Hmm, maybe the US government is an uber success and we should just let him be. Fair is fair.

Anyways enough freedom trolling. Your article is written. It's real time.
Can be a success without wealth. If you are rich, great, hope you did the right thing. If you are poor, great, hope you did the right thing. If you aren't either, diaf. The devil is in the details, right Ranger, which made your ideals all the more inaccessible. Your arguments lack depth. These black and white scenarios that prompt this "fair is fair" chant followed by the active embrace of "success" all the more obtuse. Disengaged the other colors in the rainbow as this thread went on. Now stuck with us evil libs again. Probably best for the future not to ask for opposing answers to what you've decided in the title thread. Just gets muddy.

You might not believe this but I am open to a flatter income tax with sales taxes. I cannot accept a full flat tax though. Not because of political or personal reasons. Because I realize a flat tax is an unrealistic dream. It does not address the odds and ends any governing body tries to tie together within an imperfect system. Flat tax currently moves to satisfy our personal needs for fairness and desired simplicity within the system. Link me the diagrams that show the next twenty years with such a program. We'll debate on that. The preaching isn't working for me.
The devil is in the details again when flat tax proposals thus far don't give any. Failures to address the impacts on a quantity of details or ignored for straw. Don't have an agreed rate, don't have annual projections, but keep stating we need it. Yeah it's simple and straight forward Which sounds great. So what.

This is a land of 300 million people with 40% of the world's wealth. Of that wealth the top 1% holds 42% of that and some of those Want to be taxed! Ponder that for a second. The very successful men you unavoidably defend are the same asking the government to tax baby tax. The answer has been,"they should give willingly instead of complain" comes superfluous when you accept the rich consider being taxed fair. Don't see the government enforcing fairness yet do we. While you complain the poor get special treatment off your buck, which probably goes more towards wars, we have the other end of the spectrum wishing for what they think is fair. Which happened to coexist with progressiveness. So wouldn't fair be asking what a majority of a top 1% want to be taxed as a group before you or a pizza man make rulings on what is fair?

Isn't both the flat and progressive tax system holding a moral background? Don't we have a flatter tax rate than most of the 1st world? If WE are the government don't WE decide what is fair? Was the great fear of income inequality been double tapped in your blog? Do any of these questions need to be answered!?
No. Most are argumentative for display purposes. Though other thoughts need be considered when giving a trillion dollar answer during global instability. Considerations I don't see within your stance, Ranger. That gold tooth bit had a lot of hay. I would like to see more economic value in your posts as opposed to the current trend of emotional value.
We'd all do better to remember there are other beings, countries, and battles in the world outside of our own tiny space.

btw I don't wish to win the lottery, just keno ;p and I've never begrudged others for winning.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 30 2012 2:01 AM EST

Gun, I swear to god you must be some kind of preacher man in your day job. You write with such pizzazz and flair I'm almost sad that it's being used primarily to debate such unending, tumultuous and approaching trite topics.

I like reading both Sutekh and Gun's replies a lot. You guys should run a debate thread where you debate something (hopefully besides politics) and then we can judge who wins.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] January 30 2012 9:05 AM EST

Again, one has to define fair. I think fair is equated to equal. Others do not.

so we should divide all of the countries resources equally then? ; )

QBRanger January 30 2012 9:36 AM EST

so we should divide all of the countries resources equally then? ; )

So now we have jumped the shark.

Thanks all for your contributions.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 30 2012 10:17 AM EST

You write with such pizzazz and flair I'm almost sad

Yeah he writes like an English major instead of a policy sci or econ major.

QBsutekh137 January 30 2012 10:40 AM EST

I never said everyone. I have stated this to be a significant portion of the people we see in the ER. If you do not wish me to tell the truth, do not read this thread.

OK, can you give us a percentage on the "significant portion" then? I'm not sure what you consider significant (see more on that further down). In any case, can you take this out of anecdotal-land if "these people" are so easy to spot and come through in such significant numbers? You're a scientist at the base of things (or had better be), so don't through around vague notions of numbers and portions. How many such deadbeats come through? 1%? 5%? 50%? A link to back up the figures would be nice, too.

Yep. Look at the recovery in this recession vs others in the past 50 years. Anemic now. Why? Uncertainly, threat of increased taxes, another unpaid entitlement. At least you do understand why little jobs are being created.

First off, this recession (many would argue) was triggered by something that has never happened before -- a nearly complete real estate/mortgage/banking failure. That makes it run deep and wide, and makes the recovery much, much more difficult due to so much having been pinned on real estate equity. We're still "digging out" so to speak. How could you think there would be some sort of quick fix to this (and yes, 2-3 years would be VERY quick in this scenario). And because many banks, investment firms, and even insurance companies were in on the "game", this caused the decline (though we didn't know it yet on "Main Street") to be extended over a long period of time. If you want to know why it is taking so long to get out, look no further than how long it took to get in (hint: we're talking several years of white-washed decline prior to the full collapse).

Don't blame Obama for having to deal with the worst recession since 1929. How long did it take FDR to pull things out in the thirties? And that was by using MASSIVE public works projects tailed off with a World War to really set things off. Still took a decade, and prosperity didn't really kick back in until the late forties! These days, folks don't want more gov't projects and more debt, so something like the TVA couldn't possibly get off the ground. And a project like the keystone gets so politicized that both sides look like schoolchildren arguing over who brought the kickball when the playing field is covered in broken glass.

And finally, let's not forget to hearken back to the patron saint of supple-side economics. Reagan RAISED taxes 11 times during his presidency, 8 of those coming while the nation was still technically in a downturn. No, not all of those increases were his idea, but if you hold Obama responsible for everything going on during this administration, you've got to hold Reagan's feet to the fire in similar fashion. Don't point to taxes and uncertainty as the problem when in the eighties we had tax increases and the uncertainty of global thermo-nuclear war. Besides -- running a business is SUPPOSED to be risky, remember? Isn't that why you say business should get to keep more, have lower taxes? Because they have taken on so much risk? Nah, you want it both ways. Low taxes AND less risk.

Sounds like the place you work for is either oddly placed in the market or just overly scared. We've got clinics going up around here, huge ones. A massive one is just going up a couple miles from my house. Large, outpatient clinics are going up like Walgreens. Is that not in a similar field to whatever it is you are doing these days? Medical stuff? What's the problem in AZ? Sounds regional to me, because "Obamafear" should be just as prevalent here, yet the industry appears to be excelling across two or three medical networks.

Thing like the Keystone pipeline with up to 20k job years are being slammed shut. Drilling stopped. Any wonder why there are few jobs?

Pointing to one project that got over-hyped (by both sides) and turned into a political football doesn't really make your point. Twenty thousand jobs? Yeah, that would have turned this whole ship around...

But in the interest of "fairness" should not people pay something in taxes? Yes, there are some making so little as to pay no taxes, but 47% of Americans paying nothing? And you want to raise mine?

Here's where your idea of "some" vs. "significant number" baffles me. You do know that TWENTY PERCENT of folks are living in poverty or close to it, right? You call that "some"? Yet above you talk about the Gold Tooths as a "significant number". Where I come from, a "significant number" is a lot more than "some", so you must be saying that, what, a third of the folks are these Gold Tooths you describe? Come on. Don't go exaggerating the number of dead-beats (anecdotally, no less) and then call those living in abject poverty a paltry "some". That's disingenuous...and I'm being generous using such a gentle word.

QBsutekh137 January 30 2012 10:42 AM EST

I like reading both Sutekh and Gun's replies a lot. You guys should run a debate thread where you debate something (hopefully besides politics) and then we can judge who wins.

I hereby proactively hand the crown to Gun by pre-agreeing with everything he says. Nothing to debate. *smile*

I approve of this message.

Sickone January 30 2012 5:23 PM EST

Just a quickie here, pertinent to my first reply (#3 post in the thread).

Wouldn't you agree that if somebody does something which causes harm to others he should cover the cost of cleanup of the damage he caused ?

As a follow-up, isn't POLLUTION a damage to others too ?

So why SHOULDN'T people that DON'T use "green techs" be taxed heavily (proportional to the amount of pollution they put out into the environment and most likely clean-up cost) as opposed to the ones using eco-friendly techs ?

And isn't burning fossil fuels (be it gas, coal or even nuclear) essentially polluting ?

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] January 30 2012 5:28 PM EST

This is why Sickone:

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] January 30 2012 6:23 PM EST

So Sickone, you want people to be laid off, and for energy costs to go up?

QBRanger January 30 2012 6:25 PM EST

So Sickone,

Should we tax fat people for eating unhealthy?

Should we tax lazy people for not working out?

Should we tax people who drive to work since they should be using bicycles?

Should we tax people......

It can never end.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] January 30 2012 6:36 PM EST

We do tax people for driving to work over cycling.

Using a bike doesn't require a Road Fund Licence, and doesn't cost Petrol (of which the majority of its costs is duty).

QBRanger January 30 2012 6:38 PM EST

But in Sickone's example, coal, gas and nuclear each have taxes.

Ever look at an electric bill and see all the taxes you pay?

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] January 30 2012 6:39 PM EST

Yes. ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] January 30 2012 6:42 PM EST

I'd edit in this if I could...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_billing_in_the_UK

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] January 30 2012 6:45 PM EST

Fat, lazy truck drivers don't necessarily pollute ground water and adjust home values by being in the area. Unless something went terribly wrong while he took a leak on the side of the road.

QBsutekh137 January 30 2012 8:40 PM EST

So Sickone, you want people to be laid off, and for energy costs to go up?

Wow, Titan. Tell me you aren't on the "we can't really change anything because it might cost a job" thing?

You do know that 100,000 soldiers will lose their job in the coming years, right? Do you have a a problem with that?

I _think_ I have your POV figured out sometimes, but then I realize I don;t know thing one. Good, I suppose, but I'd rather there be a logic to things? You're isolationist (in the libertarian sense), meaning THOUSANDS of jobs would be lost from the military industrial complex were someone like Ron Paul to get more power. But then you question Sickone's opinion on the grounds it could cost jobs, or make energy costs go up (which would simply be the correct, "free market" ends, wouldn't it?) I can't make sense of that. Can you help?

Sickone January 31 2012 4:01 PM EST

Titan:

So Sickone, you want people to be laid off, and for energy costs to go up?

While a confusing and chaotic transitory period while the economy adjusts will be unavoidable (and it could actually last an unpleasant amount of time), there is very little to support the assumption that huge amounts of people will end up laid off massively because of a significantly increased energy (in all its forms) price.
If anything, it would more likely lead to a SHIFT in the job market occupancy, as some jobs would be lost from less-profitable tasks, other jobs will be created in newly-profitable niches.


Ranger:

So Sickone, Should we tax fat people for eating unhealthy?

Insofar as health insurance costs go, it would be downright stupid NOT to.

Also, if companies feel fuel costs go too high, they're quite free to change all transportation costs to be paid NOT per person, but per pound (person + clothes + luggage), or at least per space used, or whatever else they want to. Fat people with truckloads of luggage should pay through their nose, thin people with next to no luggage should pay a pittance.
Garbage collection ? Pay per pound of garbage you dump, not per "days of service". And so on and so forth.
Feel free to even institute a pedestrian tax for sidewalk usage and/or maintenance (small, but still, charge it), and let people pay by weight too if you want !

As a fat person myself, HELL YES, tax away, as far as it can follow a LOGICAL path as to why you should tax it, from the COST to maintain the thing you use more of.

Should we tax lazy people for not working out?

Again, insofar as health insurance or other health-related costs, OF COURSE !!!
Being lazy should be a luxury few can afford, not the norm !

Should we tax people who drive to work since they should be using bicycles?

YES, WE SHOULD !
It is quite understandable to have any motorist pay a road tax based on road usage - after all, SOMEBODY has to maintain those roads, and they don't exactly build themselves.
For all I care, start making all streets, highways and any rolling surface toll roads, and have a mandatory unique DRIVER identifier RFID (or similar) upon entry and exit from a public street, or even a mandatory car GPS with a RFID driver identification. That would be the fairest way, everybody gets taxed depending on actual usage.
HOWEVER, an easier way (less fair, but "fair enough" and much lower cost) to do that would be to institute a flat "motorist tax" (per owned vehicle) and also have increased fuel prices (pretty much the norm "across the pond" from you USofA-ians).

Should we tax people...... It can never end.

You should tax EVERYBODY for WHAT THEY USE according to how much it costs to provide it and for the counter-value of the cost of the cleanup of consequences of what they do in a less than perfect manner, no matter how well intentioned.
Basically, the COUNTRY itself should be run like a business, but a no-profit business, just covering the costs.
Isn't that the epitome of capitalism ?

Sickone February 4 2012 8:31 PM EST

Does that mean I won ? :P

Lord Bob February 4 2012 8:38 PM EST

NO BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS BOB WINS!!!!!!!!!!!1










(And now you all know how bored I am tonight.)

Duke February 7 2012 1:05 AM EST

I have read several time here that green energy cost more that fossile fuel. That not really true, while solar is not ready to replace fossile, wind power is highly cost effective. Its true that its does not fit most of power grid due to is inflexibility to deliver power in time of need.There several project for wind park that reach 4 to 7 cent per KW before transportation that is inline or lower that natural gaz. Anything lower that 5 is avaible only in very limited area strong tunneling effect/high pressure and/or very cold air. Since its would be misleading to say that Wind power is cheaper that coal/gaz. One of the issue with windpower is the avaible area might be far from current avaible transimission line. A new line must be built or extend adding to the total cost. While thermal central can be built closer to tramision line and closer to populated area. There still enough area to meet the demand and future demand. While its will need a others more reliable source for peak demand (8 am 6 pm ) that where hydroelectricity shine as its the only source that can be shut down in a matter of hour or reach full capacity in the same amount of time.

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/01/cost-of-wind-power-kicks-coals-butt-better-than-natural-gas-could-power-your-ev-for-0-70gallon/

Sickone February 8 2012 12:21 AM EST


Yes, locally speaking, when operating at nominal capacity, and if nothing goes wrong, wind power is dirt cheap. However, that's not even half the story.
As you pointed out, the feasibility of wind farms is only high enough in certain specific locations, where there's enough wind on a regular basis. Often enough, those are quite remote areas, where not only linking up to the grid is inconvenient, but also construction and subsequent maintenance.
Maintenance is a pain in the posterior, especially for the newer higher-efficiency windmills, and reliability is still up to debate. Sure, some old designs managed to stay in operation for 30 years, but have you ever seen what happens when one of the newer models fails ? It's quite a spectacular sight, but you wouldn't want to be anywhere close to it. It's a good thing those things are usually set up in remote areas. And you want them spaced apart nicely, least you start a chain reaction.

In the long run, over a 20+ year lifespan, if you are not looking for profit, sure, wind power might be considered competitive to some degree... but you know, PRIVATE companies seldom invest in something that's not profitable. You usually expect at least 10% of your investment per year at an absolute minimum, but let's be realistic, why bother without at least a 15% or even 20% per year.
And all of a sudden, BAM, the price is no longer 5-10 cents per KWh, it's 15-40. Uh-oh. That drastically reduces the locations where you'd want to bother putting up a windfarm.
Plus you just know that once people get wind of it (heh), the lands where wind power is really feasible will all of a sudden become orders of magnitude more expensive since, hey, EVERYBODY want a share of the green pie (and I don't mean green energy, I mean green as in the colour of the dollar).

Then, you have the issue of intermittent power.
The wind doesn't always blow, and when it does, it seldom does it at a steady pace.
So, if you want to fully convert the grid from fossil fuel to wind and other green energies, you need some sort of energy storage design and some fast response producers.
Well, technically, some hydro designs allow startup and shutdown in a matter of seconds (I've once even visited one such fast response plant, work-related), so if there's a will to do it, there's a way.
Also, such fast-reaction hydro plants PLUS artificially filled reservoirs are one of the currently best ways to store cheap power during off-hours and use during peak hours (it still is incredibly lossy, you usually get out less than a quarter of the power back that way, but it scales up nicely, and it can probably be efficiency-improved).

All in all, that 5-10 cents price is nice and attractive, but sadly it's little more than a theoretical best case scenario.
In reality, it can get a lot higher than that on average if you want it to become the MAIN power source.


Without the will to make it a government backed project with minimal interest for profit, leaving it in the hands of private contractors WITHOUT any sort of subsidies, wind power is NOT very competitive except in very few areas and for a very low total capacity.
Make it a national initiative, and all of a sudden it can be a viable alternative.

Duke February 9 2012 12:58 AM EST

Reply to sickone

Here a real project made by the private sector with actual breakdown of cost. 8.3/10.5 cent per KW including transport.

http://www.hydroquebec.com/publications/en/others/pdf/depliant_eolienne_distribution.pdf


Best place for any windfarm is along the coast also where is the majority of the population worldwide. Wind power is cheap no byproduce or hidden health cost. Its cant power a whole country but its should allow to absorb the growth in energy consumtion. On a personal note you try to make wind power sound like its represent a danger if anything nuclear disaster are far worse and not to mention oil spill both on large scale have happen in the last few year. So please dont bring its only happen 1 of XXXX. Worse that can happen is a tower will fall and the blade set lose in the middle of nowhere.

Duke February 9 2012 1:08 AM EST

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_by_country

If you look at the increase in the last 10 year you will notice the trend is heavy. Increase from 2010 to 2011 is a bit over 20%. The real world is builting windfarm simply they are cheap secure renewal and is not prone to price spike or embargo.

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] February 9 2012 1:53 AM EST

To supplement duke's point we have chemical plant fires, chinese imported coal, environmental effects of natural gas, and we could take the offshore windmill challenge if farmland fan murder is so scary.

Sickone February 9 2012 2:28 AM EST

Don't get me wrong, Duke, I'm all *for* shifting from just about any other power sources to renewables (wind, hydro and solar), and I do believe they're far safer energy production alternatives.
I'm just cautioning against being too enthusiastic for certain raw numbers (like that low per-KWh cost for certain projects that have been completed and are operational) believing they can remain constant (or even go down) as capacity is scaled up.

As you so adequately put it, coastal areas are indeed the best for wind generation due to consistent wind conditions, and they're the areas where most of the population resides, so most population-based usage can be locally satisfied.
However, they're also the areas where land is likely to be more expensive thanks to higher population densities, it's where the windfarms are more likely to bother people (the noise can be quite unpleasant, so you usually have to install them away from regular pedestrian traffic, which further limits the locations where you can place them).
Also, population power usage is not the bulk of power usage, industrial power usage is usually much larger. And industrial production is not desirable near dense population centers (although it is desirable to happen near waterways, for transport cost reasons).

Last but not least, the intermittent nature of windpower is always an issue. Who cares if you can get cheap but intermittent power, you want constant power for a wide variety of reasons. And energy storage is... problematic, to say the least.

...

So, yes, in the long run, wind/hydro/solar is the way to go, but we're not quite there yet.
We still need subsidies (or tax breaks, or other incentives) for them, because otherwise they're not attractive enough for potential private investors to even begin to fully replace other "traditional//dirty" power generation alternatives.

Gunny Pew Pew [Red Permanent Assurance] February 9 2012 3:02 AM EST

I'm all for putting the NASA laid offs to work developing country wide data maps so our recently retired military contractors can fabricate and lease farms to conglomerates if that speeds up the needed transition. I hates leasing. >.>

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] February 9 2012 3:47 AM EST

Geo-thermal energy.

Job done. ;)

Duke February 9 2012 12:14 PM EST

I am be mistaken on this but i have read that in the USA regulation. Any corporation that operate windfarm need to have a certain % of reliable energy in there mix of production.


For the ''not in my back yard'' i think there will be oposition to any construction exception to a apple store or a hospital in that order. When the eiffel tower got built in paris is early 1900, the project got severe opposition saying its would destroy the view charm.... in Paris. 100 year later thinking of paris without the eiffel tower is close to impossible. I have seen number of some area that had see increase in tourist after construction of wind farm.

http://www.masterfile.com/stock-photography/image/700-02289751/Wind-Farm-Gaspasie-Quebec-Canada

http://francisvachon.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Energy/G0000IAuX5Yu5Ra8/I0000iwsDfg_h47g



As for the intergration of wind power on current network its does pose so serious limitation. Some network made its easier to intergrade windpower, like brazil or canada. Some heavy energie consumer could start to have a more dynamic approche to the issue, running most of there production during night where price/consumtion of energie as at there lowest. As windfarm scale up and become more wide spread the issue start to become less relevant. A north america coherent politic and regulation on energy would help. In the usa the energy is run by the private sector making its hard to put in place a new policy also the network in the USA is very old and does allow you to transfert a lots of energy 10 TW/H+ from 1 state to the others and here come politic in the game.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] February 9 2012 5:39 PM EST

From hot springs, geothermal energy has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but it is now better known for electricity generation. Worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 24 countries. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.[3]

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly,[4] but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels.

The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's energy needs, but only a very small fraction may be profitably exploited. Drilling and exploration for deep resources is very expensive.[citation needed] Forecasts for the future of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology, energy prices, subsidies, and interest rates.

It's the future! Or rather, should be. ;)

Duke February 9 2012 7:14 PM EST

Reply to GL


I have seem a few doc on home geo thermal. Systemes are quite simple as you built a new house you can put a water base heating/cooling systemes. Pipe goes deep in the ground where temp are closer to 20 to 22 Celcius (70 75 F i think). Its heat the house in the winter or cool its down during the summer. With solar passive windows its quite possible that you can reach close to 0 consumtion of energy outside peak value 33 C + or -20 C. Cost for installating on new home is around 75K. RoI is meet in 15 year average which is much shorter that the life span of a house. Some building with close proximity to deep water (great lake coast) can use more complex systemes to cool down a very high sky scrapper.


http://www.toronto.ca/environment/initiatives/cooling.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3vxxpXeOEE

Only drawback i can see here is they need larger windows. Its awful to think that they will have to see outside there house.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] February 10 2012 3:48 AM EST

Oh it doesn't have to be just individual home systems. We can get large scale power from creating artifical hot springs. The hot dry rock techinique (or something like that!).

;)

This thread is closed to new posts. However, you are welcome to reference it from a new thread; link this with the html <a href="/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=003H1C">I would like to have a real debate. </a>