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LJWorld.com weblogs Loyal Opposition

The Totalitarian Right

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An article in the LJW today about taxes on small businesses triggered this blog. I want to talk about how the totalitarian right slams all of us regularly. Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Limbaugh (and the Republican Party Leadership) let hardly a day pass without arguing that it is a good idea to continue the discriminatory tax policies that favor the rich. The current notion is that not continuing that travesty will hurt small business. The article in the LJW puts the lie to that.

It is one thing to argue about the size of government as many of the the tea party do; it is an entirely different argument when it comes to who should pay for it. Let us look at some aspect of recent tax actions.

Our state has chosen to increase our sales tax by 20%. There were other options to include making our non-progressive tax system more progressive. Remember that the vote to do this came from the Democrats and the Moderate Republicans. I guess they are right in there with our far right pundits – hold the rich harmless.

At the local level, we have chosen to increase property taxes. That at least hits property owners but since many wealth individuals have minimized their property taxes by some slight of hand the actual burden falls on the middle class and those struggling to enter it. Again, people we would hope to be supportive of the working class seem to have fallen for the right wing argument and avoided taxes on the rich.

Why do we not ask more from our wealthy? Is it, as some of the right wing pundits proclaim, self destructive to tax the rich because they will a.) cheat or b.) cause the economy to collapse? The former is easy to deal with and would help decrease unemployment. The latter, if true, raises the question as to whether our capitalist economy needs to be reconsidered if it can only be sustained by the 5% who have it all?

The 95% of us not so blessed are a clear majority. Why can we not drive our system to a more equitable sharing of wealth and of the burden of citizenship?

Comments

Kirk Larson 3 years, 6 months ago

The truth is the rich benefit more from the services of the Federal Government than any one else. They should pay more for what they receive. Back in '93 the Clinton administration proposed raising taxes on the higher income levels. Republicans whined that it would tank the economy and not a single one voted for it. What did we get? The longest period of economic growth in American history! W comes along and cuts taxes for the wealthy claiming it will create jobs and the economy tanks and hemorrhages jobs.

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BorderRuffian 3 years, 6 months ago

The author of the blog richly deserves a Gibbs slap. The terms "Totalitarian" and "Right" are quite self-contradictory. It seems to me it is the unwritten but well-known desire of the LEFT to turn this country into a socialist republic, leaning, even, towards communism and the complete control of the populace by the Government and Pelosi-Reid-Obama. The "Right" as it is called, actually favors a smaller government with control resting in "we the people" - not Big Government.

It is the Totalitarian LEFT, not the Right.

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deathpenaltyliberal 3 years, 6 months ago

Rightwing nuts like Rush Limbaugh are more concerned with nonconsensual sodomy than a fair tax system. Bill O'Reilly would rather discuss adulterous shower acts with a coworker than advocate for a simpler tax code.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

kansanbygrace (anonymous) replies… "Follow your stuff here, George, but have a little trouble swallowing the notion that Bob is the only person in the whole world who can bake and sell bread. ..."

Huh. That was Roe. I have little sympathy for "Bob". However, I have even less sympathy for my wealthy elite leaders who have much and pay little. I would love to see the tax returns of Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Gore.

I think it simplistic to reduce the argument to "taxes are the price for civilization." They obviously are. The issue is an equitable sharing of that load.

IMHO, nobody should pay zero or get money back they did not pay back. If we want a flat tax then everybody pays the necessary percentage to raise the revenue we agree we need. If we have a progressive tax (we supposedly do) than it should be uniformly progressive and not capped at about $200K or skewed so that salary becomes capital gains and the really rich ($1M plus) pay less than the middle class (as a percentage).

I really do not agree with the latter although I mentioned the use of that dodge to Roe. I am intrigued as to exactly who the Republicans are trying to protect. Most businesses in the range affected by the proposed Obama tax increase are incorporated and operate under a very different tax system. Just exactly who has business profits above $250K and remains unincorporated (Mr. O’Reilly (?) Mr. Limbaugh (?). I am told the number affected is less than 3% of the pool. It does not compute?!

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kansanbygrace 3 years, 6 months ago

Obviously Ben is overlooking the need to pay the bill for services received. Pay taxes after someone else has mended the "Economy"? Very, very Businesslike.

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HomeSlice 3 years, 6 months ago

Great commentary from Ben Stein:

"I am a fairly upper income taxpayer. Not anything even remotely close to sports stars or movie stars or financial big boys. But I am above the level Mr. Obama says makes me rich. So, in the midst of a severe recession, I am to have my taxes raised dramatically.

I am not quite sure what my sin is.

I worked for almost every dollar I have, except for a small percentage my parents left me by virtue of hard work and Spartan living, and most of that was taken by the federal estate tax. I have a hell of a lot less than I did before the stock market and real estate market crashes. I didn't get a bailout or any part of a stimulus program, except for traffic jams as the roads in Beverly Hills got worked on for the 10th time in the last 10 years (or so it seems).

I pay my income taxes, and after them and the commissions I pay my agent, I am left with about 35 cents for every dollar I earn.

I own some real estate in California and Idaho and the District of Columbia. Naturally, I pay property tax, supposedly mostly to educate local children. Not far from me, the city of Los Angeles just spent about $600 million to build the most lavish school in America for about 4,000 children. That's my money. Naturally, I had no say in it. My wife and I have no children in public schools and only did for about eighteen months long ago. I still pay my school tax ever year.

I am not asking for any tears. I live a great life, have a fabulous wife, a great son and daughter-in-law, four wonderful, furry dogs and six cats, all adopted. I have more than enough to eat.

But what I don't get is this: There is no known economic theory under which raising my taxes in the midst of a severe recession will help the economy recover. It isn't part of any well known monetarist or Keynesian theory. So if it does no good to raise our taxes, I assume we are being punished.

But for what? I don't own slaves. I employ a lot of people full- and part-time and they are all happy with their pay. When charity calls, I almost always write out a check. I don't have a yacht or ponies or a plane. My wife doesn't wear a tiara. I don't gamble.

What did I do wrong? I know I have often lost my temper with my wife and the cats, but that's not a crime, yet. I tried to be successful, which is what I thought I was supposed to do. When did it turn out that was a crime to be punished? Maybe when the economy recovers, raising my taxes makes sense, but for now, it's just punishment, and I can't figure out what for. "

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kansanbygrace 3 years, 6 months ago

I just remembered an inscription on the state capital building in Hawaii, I think. It says "taxation is the cost of a civilized society." I'm not asking you to agree with it.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

Commuter - yep

Jimo - Me or somebody else?

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devobrun 3 years, 7 months ago

I teach high school and an International Student engaged me in a discussion of taxes in America. I showed him the size of the U.S. tax code. Then I tried to explain it. He is one of those very bright, mathematical Asian kids you hear about being so amazingly smart.

He was flummoxed by the whole affair. He looked confused and said it was crazy.

You are talking about tax code, George. Your idea of "fair" is not shared by those who build the tax code. If you reduce the complexity of the code, you reduce the power of the government. And increasing the power of government is the whole idea. All else is lost.

So, If Charles Rangel gets votes by actually giving refunds to those who pay no taxes, then it gets into the code. If Bob Dole includes tax breaks for left-handed, farmers with names derived from food companies, he does so to get votes.

The larger government gets, the more vote peddling you will see. Votes come from constituents. The trick is to find a way to give to one group without offending another in your jurisdiction. And that's it. Fair? Smart? Sorry NIH (not invented here), or if the NIH (National Institute of Health) is a dominant group in your territory, not sorry.

It is graft.

Wiki def: "the acquisition of money, gain, or advantage by dishonest, unfair, or illegal means, esp. through the abuse of one's position or influence in politics, business, etc"

Thy name is taxes.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 7 months ago

Morning Roe.

Yes, the small business making many millions a year pays higher taxes. I could only begin to sort as the taxes paid include federal, state, local, unemployment, social security, Medicare. Lot of tax.

Now if we assume he remains a wholly owned business using his personal 1040 (not a good choice at this size) he gets to deduct all the expenses associated with the business on Schedule C which includes everything above, depreciation, investment, advertising, hiring, medical insurance, inventory and on and on. Assuming that the $300K he pays himself is the actual profit of the business (not clear how you have retained earnings in a wholly owned not incorporated business) that is what he pays tax on. If Mr. Obama has his way a portion of that income above $250,000 would be taxed at 39% vice 35%. That actual tax increase would be $2000. Under the existing program his marginal tax rate would have been equal to mine and we certainly do not make anything near $300,000 per year. Is raising the tax on the $300,000 by less than 1% so bad? In fact he could even pay his employees another $50K or offer them better medical care and his taxes would not go up at all.

Of course the real solution is for your friend to incorporate as his business appears to be big enough. He could then pay himself (wife and other officer) partially with stock options, put at least one of the family cars into the corporation and in a year pay only 10% tax (maybe 20% if Mr. Obama has his way.) on that portion of his income. I would not be surprised that if done properly your friend would still have the $300,000 income and yet pay no more taxes (not rate but actual tax) than we do making much less than that.

I remind everyone that taxes not only must raise the revenue the society determines it needs but it most do so in a manner that is perceived fair by most tax payers. Allowing corporate CEO with very high incomes to bury much of that income in stock options taxed as capital gains at 10-20% when salaried people at a bit above $100K get taxed on margin at 35% - currently the highest rate.

As I said before, this blog is not about the size of government. If we had smaller government we could lower taxes on everyone.

In keeping with the notion of fairness the lower end of the income spectrum should probably pay some tax. That insures they understand the cost of the services they receive and fulfills the social contract that we are all in this together – it would raise little revenue unless the rate were significant.

I will also point out the raising taxes on the 5% does not bring in a lot of Revenue but it does fulfill Mr. Obama’s campaign promise. Can somebody explain why there are Democrats opposed to that action?

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jstthefacts 3 years, 7 months ago

hallelujah, The troll is back!!!

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llama726 3 years, 7 months ago

George, I'm glad you are putting up another one of these for the Right after your last little social experiment on the Hard Arrogant Left. Well done.

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none2 3 years, 7 months ago

I think people have to figure out what constitutes rich. If the average income is $35,000 in Kansas, does that mean anybody making over $40,000 is well off?

I also think that people who do make a lot of income have to be evaluated for what they generate in THIS country. People make such a fuss about jobs being taken by illegal aliens (some jobs that Americans wouldn't take by the way), yet they have no bones about jobs being shipped off to other countries. Aliens and Off-shoring are simply different faces of the same coin (jobs not done by Americans -- one side because they are done by foreigners living in this country and the other side done by foreigners overseas). If someone makes their wealth of generating wealth for non-Americans, then by all means tax them. However, wealth that is used to generate more wealth here for Americans, why should they be taxed more? Since this is not all black and white, obviously we should tax wealth based on the percentage of that wealth that is for Americans. For instance, if half of IBM's growth (an American company) is overseas, tax it higher. Likewise, if half of Toyota's growth is in America (a Japanese company), tax only that part of its underlying stock value based on the percentage that isn't American. It may not be simple to do, but I think it is the right approach.

This across the board tax anybody who makes more than me only serves to make internal political bickering so that those that rob this country of wealth in favor of other countries can continue to do what they are currently doing.

As far as capitalism, some regulation has always been needed. Laissez-faire capitalism never worked without having victims either of employees, consumers, or other companies.
There is a happy medium between government control of everything and letting businesses do whatever they please regardless of what it does to this country.

If we continue down the course where Americans do not put other Americans first, then eventually, we will simply slowly move down in wealth and power until we are nothing but a has-been country. With a few very rich and a lot of poor people. Is that what America really wants to be? Do you want to have vast neighborhoods of poor people near you? We are the only country that ever put a man on the moon. Now the highlight of our culture is how much non-durable stuff we can get cheaply at some retail store. Is that something you really need and something to be proud of as a country? Is it good for the country in the long run, or for China and other countries?

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Jim Phillips 3 years, 7 months ago

Looking at all the blogs today, the Socialists are very, very scared and very, very worried. I like it!

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RoeDapple 3 years, 7 months ago

George, Let me pull some numbers out of the air, tell you my thoughts, then you pick them apart as you see fit.

Let’s assume Bob the Baker started out thirty years ago with a $12,000 investment and opened his first bakery. The first three years he barely broke even, paying himself and his three employees little more than minimum wage and investing what little over that he made into his property and equipment. Now, thirty years later, he is in his mid fifties, owns eight very profitable bakeries worth in excess of twenty million dollars, pays his 150 employees above average wages for the industry and himself $300,000 per year. Assuming his employees payroll runs around $400,000 per year, I figure he sends as much as $95,000 into the government at the federal and state level as withdrawn from said employees pay and including the half of social security he is responsible for. Under taxing the wealthy, his income would be taxed at a higher rate leaving him what? $170,000 maybe? Or he could sell his profitable bakeries, probably at a loss, pay the taxes due on that income, bank the rest and draw the interest on what’s left. A little tax paid on the interest each year, draw $150,000 per year and live a long time without the headaches, depending on how well he has invested of course. In the mean time, the buyer of his bakeries has defaulted, bakeries closed, employees laid off and the $270,000 in taxes his business once generated has dwindled to a trickle, all due to government wanting to make the rich pay more. Now Bob the Baker is Bob the Beach Bum, paying $4500 in taxes and drinking fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. Most of his former employees are still unemployed with unemployment benefits having run out months ago.

( Although ‘Bob’ isn’t actually a baker, this is very much how he sees his future developing)

Pick it apart, tell me (and Bob)where we are mistaken, have fun with it.

Thanks George

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jumpin_catfish 3 years, 7 months ago

Totalitarian Right? My milky white back side! It's the totalitarian government bureaucracy as devobrun has said. The slide to irrelevance on the world stage began sometime back, just the way liberals wanted it and I worry there is no way to stop it.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

Remember what Dear Leader told Joe,"...I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." In this example, "you" appears to be the government doing the spreading. Give generously, citizens.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 7 months ago

Several of you have commented but your comments IMHO focus on the scope of government and not who pays. One of you observed that the rich “carry the load”. Maybe, depending on whom you consider rich. The government takes about 35% of my income. I seriously doubt it takes much more as a percentage from Mr. O’Reilly. I also doubt if it takes more than 5% from some of the younger set. It goes up by a factor of five or more in the first hundred K and then is flat for the really rich!

I am OK with a flat tax if everyone is taxed. I am OK with a progressive tax if it is in fact progressive. Our tax system is neither. The rich really do not pay a whole lot. Think of one of the CEOs of companies loosing their shirts and making 200 million. Most of that is in stock options taxed right now at 10%. Equitable?? NO. But then the last time life was equitable was on the playground when Miss Jones enforced order. Maybe that is why so many people love government intervention. Miss Jones is making it fair??

And yes, we tax income and to an extent spending. We tax wealth in the form of some real property. We do not really tax wealth in the form of ROI and we certainly do not tax wealth once accumulated. Where is Miss Jones? Oh, by the by, where are our government centered bloggers. It is OK to tax the middle to help the poor because at least then poor are helped. It is too hard to tax the rich and they do give a lot of money to our party. Too many people have been reading Mr. Machiavelli.

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devobrun 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh, after further review: The reason that middle America is sucking wind is that there are no productive jobs for them.

Because government has taken over and innovation is gone. Thomas Edison and all that he represents in the world is not part of America anymore.

Teach, know, pontificate, encourage, inspire.....all thrashing around as we descend into governmental oblivion.

All you former hippies who now run the show: You are now "the man". don't forget it.

The hope of America is the same as always.....the youth. Let them rebel.

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devobrun 3 years, 7 months ago

So, George, watch the first video on this site from Pres. B. Clinton:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100919/pl_yblog_upshot/president-clinton-we-should-all-listen-to-the-tea-party-movement;_ylt=AmIuUtdO0i0czQtdCPblq99h24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTVqOTg4YWIxBGFzc2V0Ay9zL3libG9nX3Vwc2hvdC8yMDEwMDkxOS9wbF95YmxvZ191cHNob3QvcHJlc2lkZW50LWNsaW50b24td2Utc2hvdWxkLWFsbC1saXN0ZW4tdG8tdGhlLXRlYS1wYXJ0eS1tb3ZlbWVudARjY29kZQNtcF9lY184XzEwBGNwb3MDMTAEcG9zAzEwBHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcmllcwRzbGsDcHJlc2lkZW50Y2xp

There is one thing I disagree with in his comments: Green jobs.

I am an electrical engineer. My PhD was 25 years ago. I know enough to tell you that "green" jobs are jobs that business is staying away from because of an inherent flaw.

All "green" technologies are not properly evaluated. They are popular, subsidized, and "promising". But until a viable electric energy storage system is invented.....they don't work. OK, window replacement and insulation work, sometimes well. But they, like all other things, are oversold.

Middle America is looking for something to do. "Green" isn't it. It doesn't work. So what do you think are the jobs that the former Pres is talking about? What should I tell my students in high school, or college, to seek as employment?


I have a 25 year old son who is completing a masters degree at Rutgers. His funding was running short, so he went out to find employment. He has 2 B.S. degrees and college swimming credentials. Within 2 weeks he now has a job coaching a masters swimming program (early in morning), tutoring the athletic department in math and physics, and teaching physics to MCAT folks. Now he has to figure out how much time to devote to these moneymakers and how much time to devote to his degree. His comment to me was "check it out, Dad. How is it that jobs are hard to find?"


Because the age of the activist is gone. Because we can no longer afford, as a society, artists, historians, social studies academics, systems and ecology, and on and on and on. You guys are not producing job-creating endeavors. Now, if you solved the gang problem because you know what to do......people would flock to the scene. If historians could figure out how to implement Santayana... we're in. Historical engineering.....hmmmmm. If social science coneheads could figure out why gangs are growing in America.......Oh wait, its because youth want to belong to a winning team. Imagine that, re-emergent capitalism. The bad kind.

Or if the artists would take to heart that "Physics for Poets" class they took in college or maybe really try to understand (because now they are grownups):

http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/physics10/pffp.html

Go ahead, artists.....you can do it...really.... your aren't stupid....yu can do it....really....


Friggin' do something America. Show....Up....And....Do....The...Job.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

"Why do we not ask more from our wealthy?"

Maybe because they're already paying one whole heck of a lot more than the rest of us, well beyond their fair share?

"The 95% of us not so blessed are a clear majority. Why can we not drive our system to a more equitable sharing of wealth and of the burden of citizenship? "

So because there are more of us, and solely because there are more of us, and we have the power to take what belongs to them, that makes it right?

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Liberty_One 3 years, 7 months ago

"raises the question as to whether our capitalist economy needs to be reconsidered if it can only be sustained by the 5% who have it all?"

When we had a capitalist economy the greatest increase in the standard of living was among the poor and middle class. Even today, the poor in this country "have it all." Poor people in the US have more luxuries than Queen Elizabeth did. You don't know how good you have it.

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devobrun 3 years, 7 months ago

Because there are only two candidates and they are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. And it doesn't matter who the politicians are.......we live in a bureaucracy. Because we are all afraid of each other. Demon capitalism and that horrible socialism........So we forget our real troubles and worry about ...Paris Hilton?


Income tax is not wealth tax. Many wealthy do not pay tax because they don't have taxable income. The money the wealthy have that is not taxable is tied up in capital investments. Taxing the capital is dangerous because money that would be used for research, growth, and business expansion would go to the government instead. But since growth is unlikely in this highly regulated environment, it doesn't matter who is elected......the EPA, OSHA, and thousands of other governments organizations run things.


If the money that went to the government was productive, then go for it. Shift wealth and power toward the government. But, how many times and in how many ways must the inefficiency and waste associated with government be illustrated before people realize that the free market produces much more than any government ever did.

And I would love to have a benevolent dictatorship. But my benevolence and yours might be different. And what is to limit the dictator? And what is to limit the bureaucrats? And how are we to separate excellence from mediocre in a world that no longer values the entrepreneur?

Take your money and invest in Asian companies. The west has slowly become soft and uninspired. Yawn, vote for me.......I'll listen to the chamber of commerce, or vote for me, yawn......I'll listen to the poor. We will continue to take from where ever we can and dump the money into regulations and programs to support the plantation.

Yawn, wake me when it is over. This economy, and whole country is boring me to death.

Our economy has transitioned from free market to highly regulated quasi-capitalism. There are so many rules, regulations, commissions and panels that the idea of a capitalist starting a new manufacturing company in the U.S. is laughable.

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