Mat's income-boxing setup aside, his analysis of the realities of who earns what in this country is accurate. The top 1% earn 30x more than the average, so while they are numerically few, their earning is massive. The impact of this disparity is not only evident on their own microeconomic terms but actually shapes the macroeconomic structure of our tax system. Furthermore, those high wage earners can afford to shape public policy to offer them loopholes in taxation. They also pay image managers to drive leagues of white knights to their defense, like Senator Paul. Good for them.
That doesn't excuse David Letterman from going into an interview unprepared to counter the well-known platforms of his guest. Mat Catastrophe can do it, I'm sure someone on Letterman's staff could have put it together for him and gotten him up to speed.
@nofaith, really? Those that make millions are just super hard workers? Are you serious? Most of those big companies are hand-me-downs from "daddy's" former business. For example, look at Paris Hilton or the Kardashians.
I'm a hard working person. I work 40+ hours a week. Where's my millions of dollars and my tax break?
A lot of Americans (or at least the ones that still have jobs) DO work VERY HARD to earn money to support their household. The fact that you can even suggest that those who don't make a million a year don't work as hard is sheer ignorance. I bet your wear your badge of honor for ignorance proudly too huh?
It's nice to see so many people feel entitled to the fruits of others hard work. I don't care if you paid attention in grade school, your parents struggled to put you through college or you took out subtantial student loans, risked everything on starting your own business, almost failed and lost everything, put stress on your family, but somehow made it and became greatly successful. I didn't, so even though we use the exact same services, the poorer people use more services, you should cover my end of the bill. Simply because I didn't put in the effort or possess the skills that you do. I decided to make the wrong decisions in life and became complacent within a system that rewards those bad decisions. Yes, you evil rich people. If only you knew how hard it is to constantly ignore the fact that I am responsible for myself and consider myself equal, except when it comes to paying my actual fair share. NO ONE deserves to pay more or less for the same services offered by our gov't. Explain to me in moral terms why anyone should be FORCED to contribute more, while receiving the same services. What did the tenth commandment say again "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.” Don't be jealous of others' success and situation. Be honest with yourself and accept the fact that if we are all truly equal, than it should go across the board, even the ones that mean you have to pay your own way.
Oh, ye of little faith.
I am certain the Waltons all sleep better at night knowing that their billions are safe from us unwashed anarchists and socialists because so many people like you are willing to lay it on the line for them.
Statistics don't lie but liars use statistics. Top 1% pay 30% of taxes but what % of wealth do the own? The top 1% have an average in come of $1,137,684. The bottom 90% have an average income of $31,244 . How much can you tax people that are barely getting by as it is? The government needs taxes to operate. You cann't tax people who don't have any money. Most of the money is concentrated in the top 10%. Who can afford to pay taxes? If you tax a billionaire or millionaire an extra 4%, it will hardly be noticed. If you increase taxes 4% on the bottom 90%, you there would be increases in hunger, homelessness, and death. It turns out, if you have all the money, you pay all the tax. You can tax poor people, If you did how much could you collect?
Wow, going by mat's logic at some point all of a wealthy person's income should be taken from them. Make a million? Keep $250K. Make 10 million? Keep $250K. Make 100 million? Keep $250K. Make $35K, get $3K back from the government ABOVE what you paid in.
That makes a helluva lot of sense. Keep punishing the producers to give to the non producers. It is amazing how envious people are of the earners and instead of figuring out through hard work to become one of them they would rather just steal the wealthy peoples money with government fingers.
Thatcher was right even though you would not, based on your comments, understand her mat. "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
I'm having trouble figuring out how you would even be able to compare any given church, except perhaps the Catholic Church, to the Federal government in terms of size and scope.
At any rate, they aren't even getting by on tithes. The percentage of churchgoers who tithe is falling.
More importantly, though, is the fact that most churches are probably made up of pretty homogeneous groups of people in terms of income. So, sure, if you want to equalize incomes across the board, then we have a deal. If we set a federally mandated wage level of no less than 60,000 a year and no more than 250,000 a year per person then I think a ten percent tax rate would be...well, it would be unnecessary - since all those millions that couldn't go to wages would be directed to tax coffers, charities, and where ever else (actually, probably off shore accounts but why be a pessimist?)
Now, for most Americans, there is a pretty homogeneous group of income earners. The problem lies in the fact that there's a small group at the top, though, who are pulling down inordinately large amounts of money. There is, in fact, a huge disparity in income levels.
Now, as for our 36 percent tax rate - let's see. If I made a million a year and the government took 36 percent that would leave me with $640,000 - right? I'd be ok with that. I'd probably be OK with $250,000 for that matter.
Now, one million is pretty much the average income of about one percent of the country. Are you really in that one percent? If you are, are you seriously trying to say that you need tax rates to go ten percent so that you can have $900,000 a year all to yourself while everyone else squeaks by on, let's see $60,000? No, wait, that's not the average for 90 percent of the country. It's $30,000 or so. That would make your income 30 times that of the average family. Did you really work 30 times harder for that money? Or are you just paying 30 workers bare subsistence wages in order to maximize your bottom line?
So, that's the one percent up there making one million a year. That's not the top of the bracket, though. If that top one percent of wage earners represents 100 people, then 90 of them are making 1 million. Nine of them are pulling down an average of 3 million. One third of that would leave them with two million and I'd say that would give any reasonable person a pretty comfortable standard of living.
But what about that other guy? That one percent of one percent? His family's raking in $27 million a year.
That's the combined average income of any 900 families out of the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. Taking a third of those earnings would still leave 18 million in the family coffers, each year.
But, hey, if you are ok to keep white knighting for the Kochs and Waltons and Buffets and Heinzs and others with net worths in the billions, that is fine.
And yet you don't see the Koch Brothers choosing to "earn" less money in order to reduce their taxes. Why is that?
The top income earners pay more taxes because they get most of the money.
Of the total tax dollars collected, what percentage should the top 1% of wage earners be responsible for? More than 1/3rd?
How much should the bottom 50% of wage earners contribute to our total tax bill? Less than 1/10th?
Imagine our national income tax bill is a dinner check. We all go out to eat, and order more or less the same meals, cost wise (Govt. services). Does it seem fair to have one person pay the tab for thirty of the one hundred diners at the table, even though that person consumed no more than any one of the other thirty guests?
Please explain how the federal government is entitled to 36 cents of every dollar earned by any one individual. The church manages to get by on a tithe. The federal government should be able to do the same.
Bernanke's QE2 is only throwing gasoline on the fire. It's not just our dollars being devalued. The whole planet is pegged to the dollar (for now), meaning that John Egyptian and Joe Libyan's currency (expressed in dollars) buys less, too.
You may be too young to remember "stagflation" from the late 70's, where wages remained stagnant, but the buying power of the dollar decreased on a month by month basis for two years straight. Not a fun time for the rich, and a disaster for the poor.
The sad thing is, all of that makes sense to you. Doesn't it?
@mat catastrophe, not as long as there are government handouts *cough cough welfare* that can easily be abused by even the simplist of minds or as long as a portion of the population is paying into a social security they will never see.
Now with Obamacare on the way I'm starting to wonder, as a taxpayer, who I should be writing my "free handout" check to now.
Tom Woods is still correct in this one. We have a LONG way to go.
There've been historically low tax rates for a decade now. So, by your logic, we should be flying high as a nation, right?
Oh, let me guess, we should cut taxes even *more*, right?
Great article, Mr. Hunter. It is a classic example of how pop culture wears its ignorance like a badge of honor. Unfortunately, the public tends to hold the Lettermans of the world in much higher regard than they deserve. They assume that the person who gets the spotlight for show business reasons actually knows something about substantive topics such as economics, history, philosophy, science or government.
I remember Donald Fagen from Steely Dan (I believe) say that musical talent and popularity often were not related. I think this principle applies to this example in some ways.
It doesn't help that the Letterman audience likely is pre-disposed to have a knee jerk disagreement response to Rand Paul based on the silly left / right model of politics that Americans inexplicably refuse to break free from.
I think Tom Woods is right. There's much work to be done, so keep up the good work.
We need to be isolationist for a change. What's the deal with our stupid foreign policy. We cause more problems than we fix and we are bankrupting our nation doing it. Can we at least be a little more selective about which country we are going to interfere with?
If we cannot engage humanely & constructively (we CAN but seemingly never WILL), isolation appears the more appropriate course. The enormous power of corporations is behind so much of the our criminality (i.e., Iran in 1953, Guatemala in '54, Chile, '73) that justice is not likely to be served.
"This is an opinion...I could be shot for saying such things."
In other countries, you mean. Those aren't black helicopters circling your house, they're turkey vultures.
If we quit playing and put our troops around all the oil fields we would own the whole middle east in a year or two.......The bad thing is that most of the countries like Iran and turkey have a hoard of Soviet atomic and hydrogen bombs with mobile launchers included....NATO and our government don't want the rest of the world to know this.....When the Soviet Government broke up the bombs were sold all over the place.....WE gave the Israelis their bombs and missiles. This is an opinion...I could be shot for saying such things.
Good column, Jack.
Foreign policy in that region, for the last fifty years, can be summed up with one word.
We can only decouple from the region when we have sufficient supplies of petroleum generated at home, or by our real allies. When we rely on sketchy "allies", we ultimately end up held hostage by geopolitical changes in the region that are beyond our sphere of influence.
She may sound like a dyslexic Yoda, but Sarah Palin is absolutely right when she advocates "Drill baby, Drill!"
Energy independence is crucial to our national survival.
It always will be............
The framers were afraid of "mob rule" for good reason. Mob rule often results in rapid, dramatic changes to society, and that seldom leads to freedom or stability.
You want a "direct and participatory democracy"? Consider this: In your country, you can vote for any candidate whether they are on the ballot or not. You or any other legal citizen can run for any office in the land. Every citizen's vote has the same weight. All citizens have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The "commoners" have had access to power all along. Ask Charlie Rangel.
We are a representative republic, not a democracy. In our system of government, multiple levels of checks and balances act to slow down "mob rule" by simple majorities. I think it's a good idea for constitutional changes to occur in a measured and deliberative fashion.
The Tea Party is hardly first when it comes to raising the founding fathers to minor deity status. Brumidi took care of that 145 years ago in the Capitol rotunda.
Mob rule has lead to the removal Mubarak in Egypt. Let's see if "democracy" is what follows. I suspect that either another military dictatorship or a new Islamic theocracy will be what results for the mobs in Egypt.
"who believe that the founding fathers were a bunch of slave holding misogynists, denying the vote to blacks and women, and retaining it for wealthy land holders."
Listen, I know all about judging people by the context of their times. But if you wanna elevate someone to minor deity status, as Tea Partiers want to with the founding fathers, you have to do better than "oh, he was ok in that time period."
The fact is, there were some of the founders who were better and more progressive than others. My favorite, Thomas Paine, was pretty progressive even by today's standards. And guess what? He was shunned for it by police society, including the more prominent founders.
As an FYI, I was referring specifically to the House when I mentioned the least powerful branch being the only one the founders wanted directly elected.
If the framers really wanted to keep power close to the people, they would have set up a direct and participatory democracy, but they choose not to. You know as well as I the statements where they expressed extreme apprehension about the commoners getting power (here's a hint, whenever they talk about "mob rule").
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