Free Markets, Free People

Of “Greed” and “Fairness”

One of the reasons we’ve reached a tipping point between freedom and welfare statism is because much of the country pays no taxes and increasingly the burden of taxes is being shifted to a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. Now I’m not a tax advocate by any stretch. But it is obvious we’re not going to be able to avoid them, especially with this new crowd in town who wants to tax just about everything.

But back to the point – if you’re not paying taxes, but the government is taxing others to your benefit, why wouldn’t you want more stuff? Oh I know the moral argument and I agree with it. What I’m describing is a dynamic which plays on human greed. It’s funny, we hear politicians talk about the “greed” of Wall Street, or the “greed” of big oil or the “greed” of big pharma.

But what is never discussed is the “greed” of those who don’t pay taxes but demand more benefits paid for by others. Or how politicians have “incentivized” that greed.

How ridiculous has it gotten?

Check this chart out:

tax-burden

Yes, that’s right – the top 1% pay more taxes than the bottom 95%. And the plan is to have them pay even more as this health care boondoggle comes on line.

So the next time you hear your favorite “progressive” begin their “greed” or “fairness” nonsense, show them this chart. If that doesn’t shut them up, nothing will.

~McQ

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30 Responses to Of “Greed” and “Fairness”

  • And what happens when the “top 1%” gets a cold,  deficits like we have today

  • Sorry McQ – “Nothing Will!”

  • Very depressing.  Even more worrison to me than the 1% – 95% comparison is the number of people who pay no income taxes at all, which I think is approaching 40% or more.  If the percentage goes up even a tiny bit more, I don’t see how a democratic republic can survive under such circumstances.  When you combine those who pay no taxes with more wealthy dyed-in-the-wool doctrinaire liberals, there will always be a majority for hard-left proposals, and the rest of us will be at their mercy.

    • IIRC, the NCPA pointed out that the bottom 44% of wage earners have no income tax liability at all. That was a couple of years ago, and it could have only gotten more “progressive” since.

  • It has to be asked – how does that chart look when you run the same comparison for income and for wealth?  I think that I know that the answer is “far less skewed”, but it’s going to come up anyway.  Might as well check it out.
    Probably ought to figure in payroll tax as well.

    • How would you even begin to measure wealth?  That information is not available and is irrelevant.  This is about what share of one’s earnings is taxed.  Bringing in wealth confuses the picture because you have to factor in the success of the individual at saving and investing.

  • I don’t think this includes the FICA tax, does it?  It would be nice to see with that included (and I don’t think this specific claim could be made with that included).

  • Why does the chart reference the “bottom 95%”, but the actual indicator says “bottom 90%.” Maybe I’m being a dullard here.

    I would also like someone to give me a single instance when anything has shut a “progressive” up. I mean a single instance. If you don’t know by now that logic doesn’t phase them, I can’t help you.

  • Looks like we’ve gone from “No taxation without representation” to “Representation without taxation”.

  • For comparison (to Phil’s point) we actually need the graph of income distribution to compare with this one.  Even in a flat tax, if the top 1% made as much or more as the bottom 90% (or 95% or whatever, the specific number is irrelevant to the point) the it would pay as much or more in taxes.
    Also “share of federal income taxes” is not the same thing as “share of all type of federal, state and local taxes”.  Many other taxes are flat or actually regressive.
    Not saying that the underlying point doesn’t have merit, but without these other pieces of information to provide context, the statistic is fairly meaningless.
     

    • The IRS did release other stats, probably including what you’re looking for, but they’re beside this point. Imagine a church potluck of 200 people, with Dick and Jane bringing 40% of the food, 180 others all together bringing 40%, and 18 others bringing 20%. Does it really matter that Dick and Jane are the wealthiest, or whether the 180 are too poor or too lazy to bring more? No, what matters is that eventually Dick and Jane will tire of feeding everyone else, they’ll cut back on how much they bring, and there will be less food for everyone. Or they’ll go to another congregation (just like some Brits are leaving or looking to leave for tax-friendlier nations).

      Liberals villify “the rich” but don’t realize that “the rich” are necessary to any economy precisely because of their greater wealth. It’s that wealth that fuels business investment, and spending on goods and services that would otherwise not exist.

      • I get your point Perry, but it’s a poor analogy.  Dick and Jane are undoubablty volunteering to bring their 40% to the potluck; I doubt the other members of the congregation voted that they should do so.

        • Actually, grimshaw, my analogy doesn’t preclude some sort of church hierarchy saying, “How about you, Dick and Jane, bringing all this.” Just imagine that for the sake of argument: some set of circumstances by which Dick and Jane get tired of supporting everyone else’s lack of production.
          And my point does include the fact that Dick and Jane could simply leave a church congregation, which is by definition a voluntary association. Try doing that to the government, however.

  • I’ve been saying this for years. Whenever I hear the Dems squeaking “greed” and playing the Class Warfare game, I always counter with the question…why isn’t someone who demands “free stuff” that others pay for also greedy? Two scenarios:

    1. Bob works hard, is responsible, gives a bit to charity. He saves for years, invests, never misses a day of work and at age 55 can now be considered “rich”.
    2. Joe is a no-load. He has a history of poor decision making, is unable to hold a job, and isn’t too bright. Joe believes food, shelter, and health care are all “rights” that he should be provided free of charge.

    The Left will describe Bob as greedy and will define Joe as a “victim”. IMO it’s precisely the opposite.

    • Let me try my hand at this –
       

      Why do conservatives hate poor guys like Joe? Consider Joe’s plight. Joe always dreamed of being a rock star, he graduated from High School and begin to pursue his dream, but life has a funny way of changing our plans. Now, several years after graduation, Joe is married with 2 young children and his wife is currently unemployed and pregnant with their third. Joe loves kids. He’s been trying to make ends meet by playing bass guitar in a band he’s formed with his friends, but things just haven’t gone his way lately and the economic downturn has impacted the number of gigs Joe’s band has been able to get. He and his wife have been applying for aid, but government cutbacks in social services have left him in a position that many find themselves in in today’s economy, trying to make ends meet in their quest to achieve the American dream.
      Bob on the other hand is pretty well off, he and his wife and 2 children live in an upscale suburban neighborhood, they drive a fairly new SUV and own a second car and Bob is hoping to send his children to Yale or Princeton. Bob has benefited from a good publicly provided education, and went on to college after serving in the Army for 4 years. Now he works in the high tech sector of the economy for a company that has just gone public, the owners making their fortunes in the IPO.
      Bob clearly just has much more than Joe, and it only seems fair that Bob, who has done well in life, should be willing to share his good fortune with those a bit less fortunate. Bob has been lucky enough to be financially capable and able, and it’s a long standing American tradition for those who are better off to help those less fortunate than themselves.
       

      Remember good fortune is a key pattern in arguing why we can take Bob’s money and give it to Joe, and why Bob ought not to resent it. What Bob has is only a result of good fortune, and not a result of Bob’s hard work, whereas Joe’s lack is a result of bad fortune, and not a result of anything Joe has done to himself through poor decision making.
      Toss in some emotional appeal, point out all the neat stuff Bob has, doesn’t matter if he CAN send his kids to Princeton, or Yale, he’d LIKE to, and that’s all that matters.  The IPO may not have benefited Bob at all, but we know the owners made a bundle so, that’s relevant in showing how much Bob has.  And then remind everyone that good Americans like to help out the “less fortunate”.

  • as i recall the top 1 % earned about 22% of the income and paid about 40-44% of the income tax in ’06. That excludes FICA whichI believe to be irrelevant since it is a defined benefit contribution. The tax policies included in the obama budget will move the needle further and health care and social security initiatives that target the same group will go further yet. On top of this many states have recently lfited income tax rates on the same upper income brackets making the total tax take close to 60% in a variety of states.

  • Perry, if we take your analogy to its logical conclusion, every US citizen should pay precisely the same dollar amount in federal tax.  I don’t think that’s what you are trying to say.

    • Actually, Phil, I don’t believe in involuntary taxation. This is the Ayn Rand concept that “taxation is theft.” If you don’t want to pay taxes, then you ought to have the right not to. If it’s a matter of schools, roads, etc., even fire and police, those should be fully privatized such that nobody is forced to pay for something that he doesn’t necessarily use.
      Should everyone pay the same amount, then, regardless of the size of his house? But you’re still talking about the state taking from someone and giving the property to someone else. My wife and I have no children, yet we pay immense property taxes to support our neighbors’ rugrats. It still would not be “fair” if we all paid the same.
      My philosophy is virtual anarchy, but it’s the only moral system whereby nobody forces others to give their property to others (or force others to receive property from others).

  • Looker: Your description of Joe vs. Bob implies that you think Joe is too stupid to make a smart decision therefore we should all feel sorry for him and help him out. Hey, if a guy wants to live out his childish dream of playing in a garage band, fine, but he should keep his pants zipped and refrain from producing a family when he obviously hasn’t chosen to act responsibly and find a decent job to support them. It’s called birth control. Even if the first one was an accident, obviously Joe and his wife should be able to figure out what caused it so as to prevent #2 and #3. Look, I’m not saying it’s not a tough spot, but where’s the personal accountability? People need to take responsibility for their actions! Living in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants manner is a personal decision and should be treated as such, not as an excuse for the Bobs of the world to owe you something. Work hard, keep your nose clean, and save a little money so your kids can have a better life than you is a pretty good way to live. Not something you should be punished for. Way to go, Bob.

    • Which was the correct response.   And yeah, I was trying exactly for that – boo hoo, let’s feel sorry for poor Joe because he had a ‘dream’ that life didn’t fulfill for him
      See, you want (and I want) Joe to be responsible, we wanted him to be responsible in the past, and we want him to be responsible in the  now and do what he has to do to support his family even if that means he better find a new dream.
      The people who want US to help Joe don’t expect him to deal with his choices, they’ll claim the existence of his situation and his family are OUR problem and even if Joe should have done it different we HAVE to help him NOW! (and screw your problems, they don’t wanna hear em, Joe is their cause celebre, not you).
      And to win their point they’ll jump right to conclusions about what we’re really saying if we resist giving them whatever they want to ‘help’ Joe – “Joe just loves his kids, you don’t want his kids to starve do you? DO YOU? You big meany!, Why do you hate Joe and his kids and his wife?  Is it because they’re poor, maybe even of a different skin color…are you a racist?”  “Republicans (because you must be a Republican if you’re mean) are so mean, all they care about is money!”, etc, etc, etc.
       

  • I thought Bush passed a “tax cut for the rich”.  What happened to that?

  • I would also like someone to give me a single instance when anything has shut a “progressive” up

    ***

    You mean aside from duct tape?  ;)

  • remind everyone that good Americans like to help out the “less fortunate”

    First. most of that “help” is at gun point, and secondly, many people are missing the distinction between “less fortunate” and “less motivated/mature”.
    Good fortune is mostly something one makes for themselves, just like “opportunities” are made, not found or given.
     

  • I would also like someone to give me a single instance when anything has shut a “progressive” up

    Oh, they shut up, but they immediately jump off onto another idiotic scam…

  • I thought Bush passed a “tax cut for the rich”.  What happened to that?
    They got richer, and everyone else got poorer.

  • WOW you need to study economics !!
    Dick and Jane, being actual rich people (which your are evidently not) realise that their wealth comes from the poor people in the congregation.  It’s the poor people that, like, do stuff for them and give stuff to them, in return for a bit of the money that Dick & Jane have.  In fact, Dick & Jane pay some of the poor people to do work for them that makes even more money for them (they call it “making my money work”…but actual fact it is only people that work, not money.).  So not only do they get to pretty much do nothing, and get all kinds of stuff and services from people for doing nothing, the people then work to make sure Dick & Jane always stay rich.   To cap it all off, they then provide 40% of the food at the church potluck, and all the poor people think they are amazingly generous, and wibble on about how great they are.  Cool eh ?
    Maybe one day they too will get a bit annoyed with having to give in order to get (what with them being entitled to….well…own everything dammit) and they will take all their money and sail to a desert island by themselves, where they can sit and enjoy their money.  Until they start feeling a bit peckish and are surprised to find that, since there are no poor people on their island, no-one wants their money enough to cook their dinner.  After two weeks they try to eat the money.   In the meantime the poor churchgoers have found that life has become substantially easier since Dick & Jane left, because they no longer have to compete with Dick & Jane’s deep pockets.   Prices have dropped, and more people are venturing into business because they are no longer afraid of losing everything as Dick & Jane just muscle them out of their market.
     

    • Blabbermouth, look in the mirror the next time you condescend to tell anyone to study anything. Dick and Jane, or anyone wealthy, have greater wealth because they produce more. Not necessarily with their hands, but they’re the entrepreneurs who start businesses, or top executives who know how to run anything. Being a person of good income, I happen to understand this. I know why I make a lot more than, say, a janitor or a file clerk. I also know why our top executives make seven-figure, if not eight-figure bonuses: because they’re the ones who can make the company work. They’re the ones who direct department heads on what needs to be done, and the orders trickle down.
      If poor people, which evidently includes you, are tired of “supporting the rich,” then here’s a clue: go work for yourself. Nobody’s forcing you into it. If you are actually giving your labor to the rich, then why aren’t you giving it to yourself? Maybe when you grow two neurons, you’ll understand that without

      Maybe one day they too will get a bit annoyed with having to give in order to get (what with them being entitled to….well…own everything dammit) and they will take all their money and sail to a desert island by themselves, where they can sit and enjoy their money.  Until they start feeling a bit peckish and are surprised to find that, since there are no poor people on their island, no-one wants their money enough to cook their dinner.  After two weeks they try to eat the money.   In the meantime the poor churchgoers have found that life has become substantially easier since Dick & Jane left, because they no longer have to compete with Dick & Jane’s deep pockets.   Prices have dropped, and more people are venturing into business because they are no longer afraid of losing everything as Dick & Jane just muscle them out of their market.

      Actually, when Dick and Jane leave, the rest of the congregation will no longer be able to support itself. The economic shock will be people who depended on Dick and Jane for employment having to find new employment. The psychological shock will be the congregation realizing that Dick and Jane’s taxes were paying for all the government services that people liked.
      Meanwhile, Dick and Jane will go somewhere friendlier, and start up a business where people are happy to buy from them and work for them. Dolts like you don’t understand that businesses aren’t “muscled out” by competition. They’re muscled out because of government officials and local gangs (often they’re synonymous), but if a business fails because someone else is better, so be it. You don’t have a “right” to stay in business.
      If, as you say, prices go down because of crashing demand, the resulting sudden deflation will trigger a recession as vendors cope with price changes, and/or it will trigger a credit crunch as people struggle to repay loans. Falling prices lead to falling wages and to a higher inability to meet debt service payments. That’s a good thing to you?
      Go bugger off and study something meaningful, instead of the Marxist tripe you espouse.

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