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Letters to the Editor

Tax concerns

November 5, 2011

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To the editor:

I too have concerns about our governor’s effort to implement a new taxing structure for Kansas and possibly greatly reduce or eliminate income tax, a vital source of revenue for our state. The governor is taking advice from a small group with only one economic philosophy. This group represents the interest of those economically well off in our state.

Our economic system, the free market system, by its nature, encourages selfishness. As Charles Mathewes concludes in “The Republic of Grace,” “When life becomes nothing but getting and spending — or worse, seeking to obstruct another’s getting and spending — all joy disappears.  Secondly, anything becomes legitimate to get one’s way.  The collapse of all into politics means, inevitably, the collapse of any sense of higher moral order, which would serve to hold our more ruthless tendencies in check.”

The idea being presented to our governor by his advisers — lower taxes always creates economic growth — has never been proved. “They (Republicans) claim, without evidence, that taxes and regulations are killing job creation, though many countries with much higher taxes and stiffer corporate regulations have much higher employment rates than the U.S.” (Time, Oct. 10, 2011)

I would encourage our governor to remember the story of the rich fool, (Luke 12:13–21) who, when he became richer, built more barns to store his increasing wealth, only to discover he was dying. When considering the public welfare, we must often be encouraged to “love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart.”

Comments

Liberty_One 3 years ago

"Our economic system, the free market system, by its nature, encourages selfishness."

Incorrect. Capitalism encourages work. The more people work and produce, the wealthier we all are. This is because none of us produce everything for ourselves. We rely upon others to produce some of the things we need, and the more of these things there are, the more we all can have. Confiscation of wealth through taxation discourages work, discourages production and therefore decreases the total wealth of society. In your rush to share the wealth, you would create conditions where there is less and less wealth to be shared, making society poorer.

"When life becomes nothing but getting and spending — or worse, seeking to obstruct another’s getting and spending "

This is taxation--seeking to obstruct another's getting and spending. Your quote says the opposite of what you want it to say.

"The collapse of all into politics means, inevitably, the collapse of any sense of higher moral order, which would serve to hold our more ruthless tendencies in check."

Quite true. When we ignore the primary question of whether income taxation is moral at all in the first place, the ruthlessness comes out. The state confiscating a portion of your income is akin to slavery. After all, the main purpose of slavery was for the master to confiscate the production of the slaves. Income taxation is immoral because it presumes that your labor belongs to the state and the state gets to determine how much you get to keep.

“They (Republicans) claim, without evidence, that taxes and regulations are killing job creation, though many countries with much higher taxes and stiffer corporate regulations have much higher employment rates than the U.S."

False. Just look at the world economic freedom index. In general the freer an economy is, the more prosperous the country. Look at the least free country on the list: North Korea. The people are starving to death.

"the story of the rich fool..."

Here's the problem with your parable: giving more money to the government is not the same and giving charitably. This is a sick and disgusting notion that those of us who don't want our money to go to the state are some sort of greedy misers. How would you like it if you were forced to "donate" your income to some organization you found highly immoral and destructive of society?

voevoda 3 years ago

Matthew 19:23-24: "Truly I tell you: a rich man will find it hard to enter the kingdom of Heaven. I repeat, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Romans 13:6-7: "That is also why you pay taxes. The authorities are in God's service and it is to this they devote their energies. Discharge your obligations to everyone; pay tax and levy, reverence and respect, to those to whom they are due.”
Compare this to Ron Paul: "Yes this means an individual has the right to be selfish, the right to self-indulgence, and the right to freely choose all associations.” Ron Paul Freedom Report, vol. VII, no. 7, August 1982.

voevoda 3 years ago

Christian teachings link truth about the Divine with truth about how human beings should treat each other. You seem to think, Liberty_One, that by dispensing with the former, you are entitled to dispense with the latter. Atheists can and do subscribe to ethical systems that endorse good government, caring for the less fortunate, and valuing truth, beauty, and love over material wealth.

fancy80 3 years ago

I would agree that greed is indeed a sin. So is envy.

Jeff Zamrzla 3 years ago

No, capitalism encorages 'more' over enough.

Liberty275 3 years ago

Dear Minister of Enough. Can you please tell us how much is enough so we can endeavor to not have more?

Thank you.

voevoda 3 years ago

"Live simply--so others may simply live."

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

"Confiscation of wealth through taxation discourages work, discourages production and therefore decreases the total wealth of society.

Says who?

I would say that outsourcing USA jobs and industry discourages work, discourages production and therefore decreases the total wealth of society.

If tax breaks were the answer to unemployment why on earth are 20 million seeking full time jobs? Reaganomics tax breaks and two repub home loan frauds on the USA have done little to improve the employment situation. There must be a more applicable solution because the RINO experiment is one large economic disaster.

voevoda 3 years ago

Obviously, Liberty_One, you haven't studied the works of any economists beyond those who subscribe to radical anarcho-capitalist precepts.

voevoda 3 years ago

Liberty_One, I never said that incentives don't matter--just that you need to read economists other than anarcho-capitalists. If you did, you realize that there is a world of difference between normal taxation and confiscation. And that incentives come in all sorts of forms besides financial gain. You ought to stop misconstruing what other people say in order to condemn them for positions they don't actually hold. When you "argue" in this way, you are only revealing that you don't have logic or evidence on your side, and so are reduced to dishonest debate techniques.

Jeff Zamrzla 3 years ago

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." Lincoln's First Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861. Another quote of Lincoln, "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country…Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." Abraham Lincoln, 1864

SnakeFist 3 years ago

"Every single economist in the history of mankind that wasn't a Marxist. "

Well isn't that convenient, everyone who disagrees with you is a "Marxist". Why not just skip the Marxist label and say everyone who disagrees with you is "wrong"? If you're going to be that arrogant, you may as well go all the way.

voevoda 3 years ago

Liberty_One, Clearly you do not know what Marxist economists actually say, if you think that they do not advocate the use of incentives. So who, exactly, do you think doesn't include incentives at all in their economic theories?

commuter 3 years ago

Liberty - don't you get it. Merrill thinks paying more taxes is good only if he doesn't have to pay more and they taxes go to his pet projects. Come on everybody knows this....

skinny 3 years ago

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it." Dr. Adrian Rogers

Jeff Zamrzla 3 years ago

“The affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions ... It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

SnakeFist 3 years ago

"What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving."

The poor are working but are being exploited by being paid less than the value of their labor. Meanwhile, the rich (i.e., those doing the exploiting) are not working but rather collecting profit on the labor of others. So your statement is true, but you're applying it backward.

Also, you can't multiply wealth by concentrating it in the hands of a few.

jafs 3 years ago

That's great.

How did he manage to get clean once he had "lost everything"?

There is a win-win-win possible with capitalism, but it doesn't seem to occur very often.

It's probably only possible when people aren't greedy.

voevoda 3 years ago

The class warfare going on now stems from the megarich and their apologists against the poor and their staunch defenders. They started the minute Obama got elected. That's because Obama wasn't one of them. He came from a working family. Until his first book sold millions of copies, the Obamas lived in a modest apartment complex in south Chicago. But through his own creativity and effort, he made money. And he did begrudge paying taxes on it, or regard taxation as "confiscation." Instead, he recognized that this is how he pays his share for the benefits he enjoys as a citizen of this country. He's a great example of someone who made good on his own--exactly the sort of person you ought to admire, its_just_math.
True patriots value this country enough to pay their fair share of taxes willingly. Those people who begrudge every penny they pay in taxes, even when they still have more than enough for every need and most wants, threaten our American values and our American way of life.

fancy80 3 years ago

Voe, When did you get put in charge of deciding who is a "true patriot"? And how do you decide what someone's fair share is. People who want what everyone else has, but want it given to them instead of working for it is what is threatening American values.

As for Pres. Obama, Wow...rewrite history much???

jayhawklawrence 3 years ago

In my view our economic system is the most successful when it encourages entrepreneurism and promotes the values of honesty, cooperation and excellence.

The problems arise when we have monopolism of resources and distribution and corporate socialism sponsored by politicians who work as literal "employees" of these same corporations.

Entities such as those sponsored by the Koch Brothers and others have become very sophisticated in how they use misinformation and carefully constructed propaganda to promote their agendas. They have learned that it is actually possible to "brainwash" a large percentage of a population even in a free society.

Of course, our founding Fathers knew this was possible and they tried to design a government that would protect freedom and individual liberties.

It is ironic but predictable that the Republican Party would promote themselves as the protectior of the constitution while at the same time promoting the interests of the upper 1% of this country at the expense of the rest of us.

Getaroom 3 years ago

libertarians are better? How is it that going to work Liberty_One? By adopting Libertarian principles life on earth will be perfected by installing yet another fantasy ideology? Utopia via Libertarianism. Not going to be possible the way current Libertarians are thinking these days and just another form of power over, a just a shift in power that is all. Soon "Libertarian" Fundamentalist Christians espousing equality through the magically transformed "Free Market" would be shoving Bibles down our throats and the crusades and inquisitions begin all over again. Not all that different than the Rev Gov Brownbackwards Theology really. As I read your posts i am getting the impression you really do believe the quantity of wars waged is equal to the health of a nation. How do you come by such a belief? Sounds like war mongering Mongol style.
Conquer, take what you want, spread your seed, use up anything you like and throw out what you don't want. Move on to the next mission. Power over the Ron Paul hero way. Really it is a form of Social Darwinism in disguise.

voevoda 3 years ago

You really need to read your hero Ron Paul's opinion on abortion, Liberty_One. He thinks that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

jayhawklawrence 3 years ago

In the current political environment, you have to choose between relative good and evil. Even though both political parties are tainted, in my view, the Republican Party stands alone as the most dangerous party in America and their agenda is the most damaging to the average American.

There is no honest debate within the Republican Party and they operate much like a cult where they are repeating the same scripts over and over again and where any deviation, such as having a real independent thought and position, is punished with the threat of political ostracism and isolation.

It is interesting how a man is scurrilous as Dick Cheney can still be held in high regard by Republicans.

http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/about_hal/chronology.html

I think every American has a responsibility to distrust political groups, politicians and commentators because this nation is a product of people who wanted to escape the history of totalitarianism that they suffered under throughout history. Unfortunately, we don't seem to remember why this country came into existence because we are losing our jobs, our opportunities and our freedoms once again to the rich and powerful.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

I'd chime in, but certain posters might send me whiny PM's if I did.

jayhawklawrence 3 years ago

I agree that we are in a conundrum, but I believe it could be managed if the politicians would quit playing politics with our money.

Politicians cannot manage anything.

Think of the guy that Kareem Abdul Jabbar hired to manage his millions only to end in bankruptcy. That is what Americans have been doing by listening to political rhetoric and not complaining about the poor quality of our politicians.

The Republicans think they can get away with all the crap they pulled under Bush and Cheney and the tax cut nonsense that is the central theme of their rediculous political games.

The Democrats have shown they are willing to compromise.

Sure, we have a lot of unqualified Democrats and Republicans in office today but falling into their endlessly looping rhetorical arguments is just about more than the American people can stand anymore.

I think our politicians underestimate the anger of the American people.

verity 3 years ago

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/unemployment-mortgage-crisis-_b_1072430.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=110311&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

There will probably be a lot of huffing and puffing because of who wrote this article, but I think she makes some very good points.

". . . made Volcker think of a phrase that he knew Summers sometimes used -- a couple of people had told him -- 'that the important thing is just to be caught trying.'"

Too many (most?) people in politics on both sides of the aisle want to seem to be trying to fix the problems we have, but apparently don't really want to. I wonder why?

"I think our politicians underestimate the anger of the American people." They think they are protected from it. Perhaps they are---at least until the working/middle class has descended so low that they have nothing more to lose. Then ___ (your choice of deity or other entity here) help us all.

Jan Rolls 3 years ago

What is it 11 years of bush tax breaks and we have so many unemployed. I wonder why none of the so called experts don't say that when others blame it on the president or when the right wing says no to taxes on the rich. Someone needs to remind them of the definition for insanity.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Incentives are said to matter. But that only applies to the captains of industry and finance. They'll go on strike if they can't get 7-figure bonuses on an annual basis.

Now you're average teacher or factory worker. If they won't do their jobs for whatever pittance is offered up, it's because they're lazy slackers who read too much Marx.

1southernjayhawk 3 years ago

I was hoping that you would stick to your word and not "chime in".

jayhawklawrence 3 years ago

If Bush actually rasied taxes then why are the Republicans so dead set against allowing them to expire?

tbaker 3 years ago

Debates about taxes on this blog are as predictable as the sun rise. The comments break down between the expected groups; those who think government is good and the sovereign master who deserves our obedience and has rightful claim to our labor, and those who know the principals our country was built on and understand economics on a basic level. Clearly a subject tailor-made for endless back and forth; full of displays of intellect and wit and rank, partisan ignorance. Good fun to read to be sure. What I’m waiting for though is a “spending” blog post because there are many shades of gray in the tax debate, where the facts surrounding the subject of federal spending are in stark contrast. The numbers are so shocking even the most hardened partisan moonbat will be forced acknowledge their dire meaning. Now THAT is fun to watch.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

Back in the early 1980's the republican party was covertly overthrown by the radical right wing RINO party. It has been downhill ever since.

In 1986 Grover Norquist designed a RINO tax pledge that kills economies and kills jobs. RINO's are stuck in that position.

Republicans as opposed to RINO's understand that how you spend tax dollars is what makes taxes work efficiently and productively.

The question is why does Brownback and the RINO party want to kill the economy and put the more than 300,000 businesses that depend in whole or in part on government contracts out of business?

Do these supporters of a 1986 Grover Norquist pledge have any idea what they are doing? Supporters = candidates and all others being led around by the folks who have no idea what their actions will lead to.

These 300,000 plus businesses probably keep as many as 200,000 - 300,000 other businesses in business which is millions more people employed.

All others being led around by the folks who have no idea what their actions will lead to. Such as killing their sources of income and sending Wall Street down the tubes again and again.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

RINO's are very good at putting names on their job killing ideas that sound like it's a good thing and will help all of us. Tax Payers Bill of Rights is one such monster however these concepts consistently kill economies and put millions out of work.

For example:

"For businesses to be successful you need roads and you need higher education, both of which have gotten worse under TABOR and will continue to get worse," Tom Clark of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce told the Washington Monthly. "I'm a Republican," Clark said, "but I made the decision not to give any money to the state party." Likewise, Colorado Governor Bill Owens is having trouble garnering support from his own party's legislators, most of whom know their constituents no longer believe TABOR is a good thing.

The anti-TABOR movement, meanwhile, continues to gain momentum, as the story of Colorado's misery begins to spread nationally.

Funded by the Right TABOR is a mutation of the Tax and Expenditure Limits (TELs) instituted in 28 states around the country over the past quarter-century, beginning with Proposition 4 in California in 1979. TABOR is like a conventional TEL on steroids:

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

Sam Brownback and his beltway cronies are initiating TABOR as we speak. The Koch brothers put Brownback into congress then brought him back to screw Kansas. Both the Koch people and Brownback are admirers of Grover Norquist.

Flap Doodle 3 years ago

TABOR sighting! Everybody has to chug whatever drink they are holding!

Jayhawk1958 3 years ago

"Capitalism encourages work. The more people work and produce, the wealthier we all are."

And I have some snake oil for you that will cure anything. Give me a break. More of that old time religion, apple pie, and Chevorlet. LOL

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