thank you sir may I have another

10/22/08

I’ll save the last ZAP recap for tomorrow, because I just saw a piece of video that blew my fuckin’ mind. You don’t need to watch more than a few seconds, but if you’re a sadist with a lust for misery, be my guest:

To wit: John McCain accused Barack Obama of wanting “to spread the wealth around”. And the crowd reacted by giving Obama a chorus of boos. What the motherscratching jesusballs is going on with these people? I mean, do I even need to go on with this particular blog entry?

You know that America has entered a truly remarkable period when the mere mention of fairness – and transitively, kindness – is vilified by an actual Presidential candidate and backed up by thousands of supporters. That’s a country with an entire swath of human beings whose rudder has fallen off and sunk into a dark sea. It’s gone beyond “brazening out the most horrible statements” and into Cap’n Fuckpants Theatre of the Absurd.

Forget John McCain and his sleazy, career-killing cynicism and ghoulish death-mask of transparent bullshit. I’m more interested in the crowds at these rallies, these poor fucks who barely make enough money to fill the gas tank of their shitty car, just so they can pack themselves into a high school gym to cheer on such a pathetic ticket. They work all day, have no hope of sending their kids to college, one paycheck or hospital bill away from destitution… and they’re booing the concept of spreading America’s wealth around?

The top one percent of Americans own 34.7% of the total wealth. The top TEN percent own 69.8% of the wealth. In any other era, that would call for the storming of the Bastille, of beheading our leaders and putting the skulls on pikes lining the river. But somehow, these working-class proletariats are actively reviling a concept that would benefit them directly.

These guys will fight to the death in order to keep themselves penniless and miserable. Is there anyone more stupid on this planet? Lucy’s pre-K class has more sense, and some of those kids poop on the swingset.

Can somebody explain this to me?

0 thoughts on “thank you sir may I have another

  1. Neva

    I highly recommend this book. This guy explains this better than anyone else I’ve read. He is a working class guy from a small town in Virginia who got educated and moved away to become a journalist (and of course became a liberal, elitist democrat in the process). Then he moves back to his home town and hangs out with “his people” for a while to really understand this phenomenon.
    Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War
    My feeling is there is a tendency for the white working class to be optimistic and think that they are only one lottery ticket away from becoming a millionaire/billionaire and they don’t want that money “taken away by the lazy no-goods who don’t work” (even if that is not based in reality). Take Joe the Plumber. He has no chance in hell of buying his business with leins on his house and no significant income. He’s only going to benefit from Obama but he can only imagine that next year might be his year and he’ll get taxed too much. They identify with the small town big wigs (the factory owners, doctors, etc.) who have the good life rather than identifying with the poor (and most likely black) working class. Therefore, by “spreading the wealth” they are supporting the “other” not themselves (even though in every respect, they will benefit the most!). Fascinating psychologically I think and probably based on deep seated bigotry when you get down to it.
    The only bright spot is that for the first time, probably because the economy is so bad, some folks richer folks are even seeing the light and coming over to the democrats because they are even worried about their wealth. Some of my neighbors who have been Republicans are switching this year because they see what a mess we’re in. Even they aren’t as optimistic as Joe the Plumber.
    Personally, I’ve never felt at all bad about paying more taxes. I feel like if my extra $600/year (which is realistically all that will happen) goes to better schools, better health care, better lives for people I’ll get paid back in so many ways that are immeasurable (less folks in prisons, healthier workers, better community). That’s worth a lot to me!

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  2. want to remian anonymous

    (Please forgive the fact that I am not a very good writer. I wish I could express the way Ian does, but I was an econ major… and have little talent for writing. That being said, he goes….)
    Ian,
    One of the reasons I like to read this blog is that I love reading about your adventures and travels and neat lifestyle. What fun. Trips to UNC, travel to see the Heels play, weddings in Europe, etc… I loved the whole PIE bit. I probably spent an hour looking at the pictures thinking how nice it would be to go to that pretty island and stay at that nice hotel with the fireplace, pretty wood etc… But despite the fact that we make a pretty good income, it is not in our budget.
    I do not know where my husbands and my combined income would place us, but if Obama wins (and I will probably vote for him) I think our taxes will go up. I look at my salary on paper and I do think – yes – spread the wealth around, but in life it is quite different.
    I have worked hard for much of my life to be able to live the life I wanted too. I worked hard in high school to get into UNC out of state. I then worked hard in college to get into grad school. I am now married with three small children and working my tail off with very little to show for it. Despite earning a pretty good salary, we live a modest lifestyle. Actually, I look at the money we earn and I think we are wealthy and then we pay all of our bills (yes, we do have basic cable (no HBO) but I have never been to Starbucks) and then pay taxes and there is virtually nothing left. WE live in a duplex in a not too hot neighborhood (the house across the street is abandoned), we both drive cars that were purchased used (mine makes funny noises and sometimes I am embarrassed to drive it) and once a year take a vacation to visit and stay with my parents who live out of state. We seem to qualify for very few tax breaks and my husband (who severed in the military) gets so down every spring at tax time that he wants to move out of the country. Trust me, if you live in an expensive area like northern California, you can make a good salary and still be only able to live a modest lifestyle. Geez, if our taxes are increased anymore I will just give up. I mean what is the point. As it is we work so hard and have so little to show for it. Increase our taxes more and I think we will have to eliminate the trip to see the grandparents (or maybe just send the kids as I am self employed and do not get any paid time off). It is not like we would have to eliminate one of the several trips we take each year.
    Bottom line, Ian, I would ask you not to be highly critical of someone who thinks differently than you do until you have walked in their shoes. That is wonderful that you have the means to travel quite a bit, see your fancy doctors, etc… You might say my rudder has fallen off, but I ask you to live and work like me for a year and then tell me what you think.

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  3. Anne

    They drank the Kool-aid.
    Honestly, I can’t explain it either, Ian. A very intelligent friend of mine in Conn. who runs her own accounting business told me (in response to my various hair-tearing blogs lately) that she would never consider voting anything but Republican because “I don’t want liberals taking money out of my pockets and giving it to people who don’t work as hard as I do.” WTF???? Connecticut Conservative, allow me to introduce you to the woman who used to clean our house: 56 years old, works 48 hours a week as a nursing home aide for low wages, works another 10-20 hours a week cleaning houses, and after all these years can afford only a tenement apartment in a crummy city neighborhood that she shares with her divorced brother, no car (yay public transportation), and buys her clothes at Goodwill. Would cutting her income tax just a LITTLE bit be such a bad thing? Huh? (No, haterz, she is not an immigrant.)
    Like you, I am dumbfounded. We are truly two countries. Was it even this polarized in the Civil War era? 8-(

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  4. Anne

    Dear “want to remain anonymous”, above:
    What makes you think your taxes will go up under Obama? Have you actually read his proposal?
    And if you indeed do earn over the $250K he has proposed as the cutoff, perhaps this will be a time for your senator and congressperson to step up and advocate for a cost-of-living deduction based on the relative priciness of some areas of the U.S. (I realize $250k doesn’t go so far in many parts of Cali., and in big eastern urban areas like NYC and Boston, especially for ppl with kids.)

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  5. ruthy

    I’ve been wondering why so many people don’t think like I do, which is more or less like you, Ian. My facile conclusions:
    I second LFMD’s assertion, tha common denominator is extremely low;
    It is all about ME and if I don’t like something, it is wrong;
    Most people weren’t raised with a “there but for the grace of God” mentality and humility (which I guess is linked to the “all about me” point).

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  6. Bud

    For guys like my father, anything that could be called social-ism was the next step on the short journey to a Stalinist dystopia where something like owning a Bible could get you 10 years in a gulag. I’d like to think that mentality is gone now, but probably the fear of ‘creeping social-ism’ is still with us.
    As for taxes, to me the real problem is that often we don’t get enough for them. Again, for guys like my father, the only thing he wanted for his federal taxes was a military that could kick any other military’s ass. To him, everything else was a waste of his money.
    But to those of us with open minds, there are things we can do MUCH better together than we can do separately, and numerous examples around the world. Health care is perhaps the most obvious example.
    To anonymous: if your health care costs could be cut in half, would you still be opposed to a 5% increase in your taxes?

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  7. Bud

    Note: I wrote ‘social-ism’ because, spelled without the hyphen, my post was flagged for ‘questionable content’. Huh.

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  8. Andy

    I don’t get it either, Ian. Why doesn’t Obama pull every ad he’s running and just replace it with this quote over and over: “If you make less than $250K per year, my plan will REDUCE the amount of taxes you pay.” I don’t get it.
    And then I wake up this morning to see some AP poll that the race is tightening up. I’m going to vomit.

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  9. D

    +1 for Anne’s point about cost of living adjustments to the tax code. This applies even if you’re well below the $250K level – earning $50K in SF makes for a very different life than earning the same amount in rural NC, for example.

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  10. Annie H.

    Neva, thank you for referencing that book–I have been thinking this exact same thing for the last two weeks! It’s the only explanation that really makes sense. I honestly don’t believe that “people are just stupid.” I do believe that people have unrealistic expectations of themselves, others, and the world. This leads to a lot of misery. I feel so lucky not to be caught in this particular web of denial (though I don’t imagine I’m not caught in others).
    Remain Anonymous, I truly sympathize with your feelings here. As a friend said recently, “Working for a living sucks!!” and I know that the emotional tenor of this blog can sometimes be intense for folks scattered throughout the political spectrum, as opposed to those who heavily weight the leftward end, as most of us do. As many people have said to conservative commenters who frequent this blog, it is a space where expressing the sometimes extreme feelings of anger and frustration about our current administration (as well as the candidate who would be most likely to continue the trends of said administration) is safe.
    I don’t think that Ian was addressing folks like you who might have legitimate cause to feel undecided as far as tax policy goes. I have been thinking about this a lot myself, since my bf and I have a small business that does not earn anywhere near 250K/year but could eventually. What’s confusing (and yes, at times, enraging) is that the Republican party has somehow convinced people who don’t have a hope in hell of making 250K/yr that their economic policy is a good idea and benefits the little guy, when it actually overwhelmingly benefits the big guy. Obama is for the little guy–it’s frustrating that that is sometimes totally lost on people. As to the upper-middle guy–that’s where the substantive disagreements lie.

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  11. kevin from NC

    I think for some working types that support McCain but would more likely benefit from an Obama presidency that perceived gun control along with abortion rights would also make them go with McCain.
    I have been saying it from day one…this is gonna be a very close election.

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  12. Claverack Weekender

    I’m voting for Obama so don’t flame me for trying to take the other side of this debate.
    You can’t assume all Republicans are idiots because they vote against what’s in their personal best interest. Aren’t those of us who volunteering to pay more personal taxes under the Obama plan doing something similar? There are three pieces to the Republican philosophical argument on taxes: government bureaucracy is a drag on the economy, what the government can give you they can also take away, and don’t help people who aren’t helping themselves.
    Of course they don’t use the example of the hard working poor. They instead focus on the part of the plan that transfers the same dollars to anyone, regardless of how hard they work. “Refundable tax credit” is just a fancy way of saying the government will send people a check regardless of whether they pay tax or not. Do you honestly feel the same altruism sending a check to someone who isn’t working? For every disabled single mother you highlight, I’ll mention a long-hair playing ultimate frisbee and smoking pot… Republicans make a similar argument with health care: who and how much care? How much should we take care of someone who doesn’t take care of his- or herself?
    The other general argument I’ve heard is that the tax plan screws the “working rich” (that people aspire to become) without really hitting the super rich. $250k is really a low threshold in NYC or SF. Try a pair of married young lawyers, bankers, computer programmers, or doctors. Obama is raising income tax and cutting dividend taxes? No problem, I’ll set up a corporation in a low-tax jurisdiction like Ireland, collect my non-US earnings there, and pay myself dividends instead of income. Not something the common man can do, but not that hard for a person with lots of capital.
    If Obama really wanted to shake things up he would tax consumption rather than income…

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  13. Claudia

    When small businesses making $250K or more per year see their taxes go up significantly, they have to make up the shortfall elsewhere. This is when they start looking for ways to cut their own expenses. Such expenses may include items such as payroll, subcontractor hiring, renovations, restaurant or catered meals, art purchases for offices, employee benefits, rent, equipment purchases, insurance, etc. When this happens on a grand scale, any of the people paid and/or hired to perform these functions thereby see their own incomes reduced while their taxes “remain the same.” Such people are “the little guy,” and they know it. They know that they won’t be hired to renovate and upgrade offices, or clean them, or provide catered meals or extra insurance. Since they are already, as you said, struggling to make ends meet, they are terrified. And that is why they support McCain.

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  14. Schultz

    I would add to Claudia’s comment that, as taxes, FICA and SS go up, people will spend less in the stock market, less for consumer goods, less on home purchases and improvements and less for charitable causes.
    Small businesses and entrepreneurs drive our economy, not government. If you are ready to tax them more- be prepared to live with the results.

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  15. Chuck B.

    There’s an important point that is getting lost in this debate in the media and on the streets. Folks are criticizing Obama for wanting to “spread the wealth,” and I agree that he shouldn’t have framed the discussion this way.
    What folks don’t realize is that, during the last decade, the Republican administration perpetrated the greatest wealth redistribution in the history of the US!
    Through tax policies, literally billions of dollars of wealth were spread TOWARD the top 5% and AWAY from the middle class. I didn’t hear many Republicans complaining about that at the time. All Obama is suggesting now is that he will change the tax policies to allow the middle class to keep more of their money, which will have the effect of reversing some of the wealth re-distribution that the Bush administration put in place.
    I can’t understand why the middle class doesn’t see that Obama’s tax policies are designed to reverse the damage done by the Republican administration. Obama needs to have a clearer message on this.

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  16. Josie

    http://taxcut.barackobama.com/ — Tax calculator
    To see how you would fare under Obama/Biden tax plan
    My thoughts:
    1. Why aren’t the politicians pointing out the fact that small businesses are NOT taxed, rather it’s the business owners? All expenses are subtracted from revenue, and the profits pass to the owners of that business who are taxed on the rest. A modicum of additional tax will be paid by those CLEARING 250K per owner. One business, 400K profit, with 2 owners, ergo 200K individual profit + 35K each in modest salary from that business = no increase in tax.
    2. Those business owners who do clear over 250K have TWO choices: For the extra 1.5-3K they might be taxed, they can either choose to a)consume less at home or, if s/he is aghast at the thought of reducing consumption, b) stop buying coffee for the whole office in the coming year.
    Claudia and Schultz, your trickle-down theory doesn’t hold water, it merely increases the gap between the “haves” and “have nots.” I believe it’s all trickle up….look what has happened to our economy since consumers started tightening their belts? Can we blame high taxes for this crash? Rampant consumerism has its own issues, but I think if businesses saw a pipeline of receivables, they would not be cutting jobs at record levels. People are scared, they’re battening down the hatches – staying as much as possible in cash position. They need some hope…tax cuts for the wealthy won’t give it to them.
    3. I love Neva. I have friends who are struggling to make ends meet, but they will protect the wealthiest tax payers at all costs. It seems so counterintuitive, but you have articulated the WHY pretty well here. My only caveat is that I don’t think these folks think they are a “lottery ticket” away, but they believe they are “an entrepreneurial idea” away from masses of wealth.
    4. “want to remain anonymous” has also written a profound comment. I have a great deal of compassion for your situation. I often counsel people about career moves which will put their families in high cost of living areas, and the affect that will have on their lifestyles. For some, the geography/career move overcomes the lifestyle ding, and for others, the lifestyle changes are more important than the geography or the career path. These are difficult decisions to make – reduce income, but increase lifestyle, or reduce lifestyle but increase income. This was not a choice our parents had to face. The Tax Calculator link above is for you; Will you let us know what it says?

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  17. CM

    Is this at all surprising? This is a core difference between Dems and Republicans. Some people just don’t believe they should have to give anything away. Some just don’t care, some care but not enough, and some just don’t realize how lucky they are.
    For the person who worked their whole life – yes, but you still got handouts, and not everyone did. You got the CHANCE to do everything you did. Many people have handicaps that are difficult to get beyond, either literally or metaphorically. Giving them a small boost so their lives can be at least a little better than yours is a good thing for all of society.
    Not everyone should be equally wealthy. But no one should be as miserable and poor as some people are.
    Any time someone has a problem with what Obama said, walk through New York City and look at the elderly women who are homeless and try to make up some rationale for why they must not have worked as hard as you, or why they deserve their fate.

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  18. Ian

    “anonymous” – if you’re making more than a quarter-million dollars a year, congrats. You’re making more than us, more than almost anyone I know, and certainly more than anyone else on this blog, I’d bet. I find it hard to take you seriously, but maybe that’s because of all my “fancy doctors” and all the crackling firewood I’ve been looking at.
    I lived under the poverty line for a decade, without any safety net… but because I don’t do so anymore, obviously I shouldn’t be trusted with an opinion.
    My newfound liberal complacency and your hardscrabble bootstrap-pulling doesn’t change the basic statement of this entry: poor people booing “spreading the wealth around” probably deserve the leaders they choose.

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  19. Claudia

    Josie,
    For many small businesses at the level we’re talking, the businesses and their owners are synonymous. The example you provided isn’t necessarily realistic. The business you suggest will pay significantly more than $1K-$3K in taxes. Even following the logic of your example, don’t forget that if a business owner stops spending $1K-$3K on coffee, that money may reduce the local coffeehouse owner’s income by that much. Multiplied by the number of small businesses affected in the area.
    Why, exactly, doesn’t our “trickle-down” theory hold water? On an obviously smaller scale, I’ve seen it firsthand as the small business owners I work with stop making renovations and therefore stop hiring construction workers. Granted, I haven’t done a study using a statistically-significant sample, but I fail to see why it wouldn’t hold true. If your family suddenly had its income reduced by, say, $10K-$20K, wouldn’t you spend less?

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  20. oliver

    The boo response is simple I think. In the scene McC sketches, they see Obama with the word “fair” as putting the lie to his whole intelligently articulated audacious hope schtick and betrays himself as dreamy-eyed or sinister, because we all know a)”fair” means communism, which failed and b)life isn’t fair.

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  21. Claudia

    Sorry–1st real paragraph, 2nd line–“AN EXTRA $1K-$3K in taxes.”
    My work is recession-sensitive. I’m making less money than I used to, so I’ve stopped buying cappuccino (true). See the effect that’s having on my brain? Let alone on the local java-purveyor’s wallet.

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  22. Josie

    Hi Claudia: As a small business owner, sole shareholder, I speak from experience. I will dance on the sidewalk the day that I can clear 250K after expenses on my business, and I wont complain if I have to pay the 36% tax as opposed to the 33% tax i would have paid under Bush. The $1.5-3K I quoted was the increase, not the whole kit and kaboodle.
    You have to make it to pay it, and on good years, I will Thank God I get to pay it.
    On bad years, I tighten my own belt to make sure my employees stay whole. I, personally, would not choose to take away the coffee if it was intrinsic to their morale. I, personally, am looking at going without a paycheck next year. Employees make the business possible, it’s not the business that makes the employees possible.
    Fun times. Thanks Mr. Bush!

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  23. Schultz

    “Some people just don’t believe they should have to give anything away. Some just don’t care, some care but not enough, and some just don’t realize how lucky they are.”
    Again- your assumption is that “Rich” people have no compassion and just hord it all away in offshore bank accounts. Let’s not go down that road unless you want to talk about Joe Biden’s “charitable” giving over the last 2 years.

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  24. Rebecca

    I keep waiting for the masses to have their Mater from Cars moment:
    “Wait a minute….”
    Someday, they will finally figure out what is staring them in the face: Obama’s tax policy will benefit them directly. The stupidity is just unbelievable.
    (By the way, Cars is one of the greatest animated films ever!)

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  25. Claudia

    Hi Josie,
    Kudos to you for being a small business owner. I am not being facetious. I am one, too. I believe that small business owners are the backbone of America. And I’ve never cleared $250K, either. I’d love to. Maybe someday. Right now, I have other priorities, and if reducing my spending lets me focus on them, then so be it.
    Obama’s plan would actually raise the tax rate we’re discussing from 36% to 39%, not 33% to 36%. And, yes, you were discussing the increase–I corrected my previous comment. However, that increase would be doubled.
    I think it’s amazing that you tighten your own belt to make sure your employees stay whole. I do, too. I have one employee–a household employee, a babysitter, for whom I pay outrageous quantites of taxes. I bend over backwards to keep her happy and employed.
    I don’t believe that every employer would tighten his/her own belt to make sure his/her employees stay whole. Going without a paycheck yourself is incredibly generous–and incredibly extreme. And I don’t think that we, as a society, can simply trust that that will happen on a grand scale. Employees and “little guys” don’t want to stake their bread and butter on it, either. That’s why so many of them are voting for McCain.
    Do you have dependents to support? If so, how is it that you can forego a paycheck? If not, would you still forego a paycheck if you did?

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  26. dean

    OK … here goes.
    I make a lot of money. I make enough to buy more than 1-2 plumbing companies for Joe The Plumber.
    I got a great education at UNC & WFU Law. My first job out of law school paid me $18,500. I was unceremoniously fired by my next job and had no choice but to hang a shingle. I have busted my tail now for about 5 years, am very good at what I do, and make a lot of money given that I work less than a plumber and never break a sweat.
    I have a legal assistant and I love her to death. I ovastly overpay her (compared to her colleagues in my town), pay all her health insurance and fully fund a pension for her that is equal to an additional 25% of her gross.
    I want to always pay her an annual salary that outpaces inflation. When my taxes go up significantly (payroll taxes, income taxes and more) under BHO, I am selfishly going to refuse to make significant lifestyle changes. I will pinch pennies where I can at the business — cheaper paper, cheaper marketing, etc. Including cheaper salary for my assistant. So, if I can not pay her as much as first desired, her 2009 salary may not outpace inflation.
    Am I an SOB? Maybe. Was I an SOB whenI told you I overpaid her, gave her Blue Cross and a pension? Didn’t think so.
    Now, take my example and multiply by a zillion to understand Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s VIP’s are not going to scale back their lifestyles. They’re gonna give fewer raises and raise their prices of t-shirts. So, every legal assistant and all other middle-class’ers will have gotten smaller raises (if any raise at all) and still have to pay higher prices at Wal-Mart. Corporations always pass their costs & higher taxes on to the consumer.
    This is what raising taxes on business and corporations is going to do. I understand that I will personally shoulder SOME PORTION of the tax hikes, but I am certainly going to spread the pain to others. There may be small wage increases, smaller pension contributions, payment of less than 100% of the health insurance. Raising taxes on rich doesn’t just punish rich . . . it gets passed all around.

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  27. oliver

    Obama responded to that spiel by McCain, by the way, not long afterward. I think Democracy Now aired a clip of it. In response to McC’s characterization of Obama’s would-be check recipients as “people who pay no taxes,” he offered that they pay lots of other kinds of taxes besides income taxes (sales taxes, city fees, etc), and that this category of recipient is working people who can’t earn enough to support their family at a standard most Americans would consider healthy or decent or respectable for children. i.e. Not a bunch of crackhead layabouts, like myself. I think fewer people will resent redistribution to these people as Obama fleshes them out, but many may still see McC as having exposed Obama as having been less than full and frank in his initial pitch. Fortunately, nobody holds anybody to such standards nowadays, least of all politicians.

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  28. Piglet

    Explanation:
    McCain is only campaigning in fucktard regions of the country, and only allowing fucktards who have already made up their minds to vote for him to get into the rallies in the first place. People with Obama shirts are turned away at the door and threatened with arrest.
    What do you expect from those kinds of people? They’re out there losing their jobs, their college funds, their retirement, and blaming it on the party that’s been out of power for eight years. They treat the election as if it’s a sports event where they’re supposed to root for their team no matter how incompetent, unsportsmanlike or overmatched they are, just keep on cheering for your school! Cuss at the referees! Go Duke!
    Interesting starategy, for McCain to try to get a majority by only speaking to people who already like him, but there it is.

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  29. Claudia

    Well said, Dean.
    I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation of why a “trickle down” theory doesn’t work.
    And, Ian, I think today’s post has hit on what most voters would consider the primary issue of this election.

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  30. josie

    >>Do you have dependents to support? If so, how is it that you can forego a paycheck? If not, would you still forego a paycheck if you did?>>
    2 kids; My husband works; I have savings for times like these.
    Dean – We’re talking about small business, not Wal-Mart. Corps of that size have a totally different taxing structure than the one we’re discussing. (Where’s the CPA in the room?) I don’t know what Obama’s plans are for corporations, but I can tell you if an exec at that corp. makes over 250K, s/he will see a tax increase. That in itself will not change how Wal-Mart does business.
    Again, the problem is saying that we are taxing small businesses, when what we’re really talking about taxing is people making over 250K in income per year, many of which happen to own small businesses. Why doesn’t either party believe that the electorate is smart enough to understand the difference?
    I have been (usually calmly) arguing points with many about this election, and invariably the same things come up:
    1. A Republican is worried about someBODY getting part of their own paycheck without earning it. They invoke the term WELFARE.
    That failed social program of the 70s was gutted in the 90s…by Clinton no less. Republicans invoke the term to get a visceral response from the haters. That era is gone and no one argues that welfare-without-limits was unsuccessful.
    2. Dems represent “Tax and Spend,” “Big Government”….So i did some research on the history of taxes, and was surprised to learn that there have been, in the past, U.S. tax rates as high as 91%! Well, that puts it all in perspective.
    Perhaps this is another old-timey mantle of the Republican party and is also based on a historical reference which totally does not reflect our current reality. That is a reality in which a Republican administration has presided “over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society” (a McCain quote!). But behold, Bush did not tax us to do this…he did it all on credit. Well, the bill is now due, and who do you believe should pay?
    3. McCain is not Bush. McCain can’t shake Bush because there are few people out there who perceive Bush to have the intellectual capacity to singularly make any of the decisions that have flushed our economy down the crapper in eight short years. We all know his “Advisors” have played a key role….and they, “my friends,” are the Republican Party.
    I dont want to be a comment hog, so now I really have to get back to running my small business, waiting for the phone to ring and hoping it will be a paying customer. It’s been rather quiet in the last 6 weeks.

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  31. dean

    Josie:
    The overwhelming majority of “corporations” are small mom-&-pop businesses. There are a lot more of corporations like me than there are corporations like Wal-Mart.
    If you really think that a tax hike on corporate executives that make more than $250 will NOT result in higher retail prices, you need to head to Gardner Hall for a Econ 10.
    dh

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  32. Claverack Weekender

    >>>>>> and certainly more than anyone else on
    >>>>>> this blog, I’d bet.
    >>>>>> You have to make it to pay it, and on good
    >>>>>> years, I will Thank God I get to pay it.
    I am a guy from a poor suburban background who feels very lucky to be successful, happy to pay my taxes, excruciatingly honest about paying taxes for various babysitters and cleaning people,etc. I am still going to feel tremendous personal pain when I vote for Obama. The annual difference in the two tax plans for me is enough to pay for four years of college for one of our kids.
    Yeah, seriously.
    I think in some ways that we’re already paying enough. We’ve created over a hundred well-paying jobs for our community, and we pay a very steep employment tax bill on that labor. Our personal tax bill is deep into the six figures already. Can’t they tax someone who isn’t working and creating opportunities for others? Who knows how profitable we will be in the future, or if I will ever earn as I do right now. I would really, really like to sock some of that money away right now…
    So what happens? We will definitely spend less on services (i.e. have fewer employees or pay them less.) We will probably have to give less to charity, definitely less on capital campaigns. We’ll save less. We will risk less. We’ll spend less. No new car this year. No shiny new mac book. No resort vacation, maybe a quiet week up in the country or at home. Cancelling every unnecessary subscription service I can think of. Probably cutting into others’ livelihoods somewhere, er wait trickle down is a myth. We’ll be totally fine. I do think there will be unintended consequences of the tax plan, and don’t think McCain’s message on the video is really that bad. There is no way I am voting for that crazy little monkey again, though. [I voted for him in the 2000 primary.]

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  33. craighill

    no matter how you slice it up now, in the end, the same people are going to end up with the money that have it now – those who EARN it.

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  34. Claudia

    Claverack Weekender–I find your situation really interesting. Just out of curiosity, is there one specific issue that leads you to vote for Obama, or several, or simply his party affiliation, etc.?
    I’m not a Republican. I find several Democratic social issues compelling. But they often aren’t “voting issues” for me.

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  35. cullen

    We ‘designed’ a number of smart-ass t-shirts in high school b/c us cross-country dorks didn’t have anything better to do than scribble on our clothes. One said on the front ‘this is your brain’ and had a picture of a brain and the back said ‘this is your brain on drugs’ and had a picture of a brain atop some drug paraphernalia. The specific design that applies to this year’s election rhetoric though was the original “Piece” shirt which had a randomly divided circle pie graph (without that top to bottom half-line that would form the ‘peace’ symbol inside a circle).
    I think most Obamans agree on the need for pursuing ‘peace’ and a redistribution of each ‘piece’ of the nat’l pie. Ian, print ’em up under the American Coastopia label (available in eco-green) and kudos for pointing out that, like all our kiddie-gardeners, America needs to learn to SHARE.

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  36. CM

    >>Let’s not go down that road unless you want to talk about Joe Biden’s “charitable” giving over the last 2 years.
    His charitable giving record sucks.
    I didn’t say all conservatives are selfish, just some.

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  37. Neva

    I have to strikingly disagree with you Craighill as I have met many, many hard working individuals who do not have EARN much money in this country. Many who toil much harder than even I do as a doctor and because of circumstances that truly were often much beyond their control will always have to struggle.
    Let’s tell the truth. I am where I am now because my parents had money and the circumstances to support me both emotionally and financially. My father came from nothing and went to school because my mother, whose family had money, was able to work and support him. He didn’t work that hard honestly. He was just damn lucky enough to be a stock broker during the 1980s and make good commissions. My mother, as a teacher, worked much harder and made nothing of her own really.
    I often find your mindset amongst those who never had to work/live/serve folks from different backgrounds. Have you ever met a Nursing Assistant. Do you know what they do? Do you know what they make? How about a teacher? Even your minister? Even your hairdresser? Luckily as a physician I’ve met thousands of people, learned their background circumstances, their family situations and their finances and I can truly say it is very often the case that the hardest working people in this country EARN the littlest money.

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  38. Neva

    Wait a minute – Claverack guy – aren’t you the one who takes the nanny and baby nurse on vacation?
    Are you telling me that the difference in taxes alone will equal college tuition for a child? If that is the case you must be making 7 figures and I really cannot feel one iota sorry for you. I find it really shocking that you are worried whatsoever about buying mac books.
    Why are you voting for Obama anyway since you sound so worried about this? I’m curious.

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  39. craighill

    neva i am a stock broker and i can guarantee you there’s nothing “lucky” about earning commissions, no matter the era. you produce or you’re fired, simple as that. i wonder what your dad would say to your charge that he didn’t work hard. if my daughter is ever says that i was just “lucky” to have been successful, god help her.
    to your question – yes i know many nursing assistants, teachers, hairdressers, etc. and most of them are very hard workers. i only have a problem when they expect to be paid as if they were doctors, lawyers, traders, etc. if you want more money, choose a vocation that pays more money. (EARN it!)

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  40. Neva

    My Dad wouldn’t like it very much but I was there. He never left the house before 8:55 am and was always home by 5pm. Never worked an hour on a weekend and never lifted a finger to help out at home. By the time he was 50 he was working 3-4 days a week only and he retired by 55. He had a secretary to do every little thing for him at work and he just had to schmooz with people (his gift). I know it’s not like that now, but it truly was then. He was lucky. He lived in Salisbury, NC during the Food Lion boom of the 80s and he had a winning personality.
    Do you really think those other people could’ve just chosen another profession? I wish it were that easy. To get to one of those professions you don’t just make a choice generally it takes a financial and emotional support to get to college and continued support to get to graduate school. I believe the kid born in a drug infested inner city neighborhood needs more than just to choose to be one of those things. They need help to get there. Should they be totally bankrolled. Maybe not, but in this wealthy country it seems we could at least make sure they are on the same playing field as everyone else.

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  41. Claudia

    Neva, sadly, I do not think the playing field will ever be level. If I did, I might be more inclined to vote differently in this election. I don’t think it’s strictly a question of money. I think the best hope for a kid born in a drug infested inner city neighborhood involves a combination of exceptional mentors and role models, a loving family, and, yes, some improved financial opportunities, largely involving educational and scholarship opportunities. But, even then, the playing field will not be level.
    I would also like to add that nothing will ever, ever stop any individual person from voluntarily redistributing their own money by reaching into their wallets, checkbooks, and bank accounts and giving money to the person or persons of their choice.
    Except, of course, for the gift tax.

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  42. emma

    To say welfare doesn’t exist anymore is ludicrous. It may be called someting else, but as an attorney who works primarily for DSS, I can assure you that welfare is alive and well, even if it called AFDC or Medicaid (MAF, MAO, MIC).
    I am preparing for court next week and these are the people that I run across day in and day out – “I want my child support to increase, because I am not working,” or “I can’t get a job because my record is terrible” (whose fault is that?) “I don’t want DSS involed in child support b/c I want Defendant to pay me directly so I don’t have to pay tax.” Last week in court, I am dealing with a defendant who lost his job (making $15.00 an hour – more than most of the defendants make) because he chose to go fishing one day instead of going to work and now he doesn’t want to pay as much child support.
    What drives me crazy is these folks who want to avoid paying taxes or who don’t pay any taxes get a stimulus check and my family who pays an awful lot of taxes doesn’t. How can you get a rebate on something you don’t pay? If that sounds heartless to some, know that although I don’t tithe yet, I am working my way to it through donations to church and other charitable organizations.

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  43. dean

    Emma’s note also reminds me:
    My wife and I do give 10% tithe to the Methodist Church, sponsor an annual tennis tournament (betsylewistennis.com) in Wilmington for the local cancer ward and sponsor a annual wine tasting/jazz concert for the local Cerebral Palsy school.
    Bite me, Joe Biden.

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  44. Joe the Factory Worker

    Reading through these comments from rich folks, I finally understand who James Baker meant when he said we’ve become a nation of whiners.
    You’ve all got to be kidding. McCain will tax our health benefits and no doubt find other ways to take more from the have-nots and give it to your kind – and I guess you have no problem with that?
    But Obama wants to raise your taxes a measly 3% – and that only on the portion of your incomes above $250,000 – and you scream like stuck pigs.
    Nation of whiners indeed.

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  45. Claverack Weekender

    Claudia: voting for Obama because I’m hoping he’ll be another Bill Clinton. He’s clearly got the communication skills to be successful at the job, and he has organized an amazing campaign and fundraising operation. He is trying to run a 50 state campaign, which ultimately means he has to be a uniter rather than a divider. To me he’s clearly the better man for right now. And I’m hoping he’ll pull a first term Clinton and pare back the tax increases a smidge.
    Neva: guilty as charged. I don’t think anyone should feel sorry for me, I’m incredibly lucky that my very hard work has gotten me somewhere. As I said in my first comment my family is going to be fine, and we are certainly starting in a much better place than most people as we enter the recession. I hope I’ve started to repay the opportunity by creating jobs, paying taxes, making charitable donations, volunteering my time, and generally trying to be a force for good. You are right a new mac book isn’t going to break the bank. I’m still a fairly normal person just as worried about the economy as everyone else….

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  46. Zel M.

    Oooh, so many places to start:
    Let’s try this one: “fairness”. A friend of mine likes to say “Fair? The fair comes once a year and has rides and cotton candy!” Ian notes that hte “mention of fairness” elicits boos, but that is not what, to me, what gets the reaction. Sharing (read: redistributing) wealth is what gets the boos.
    There is a difference between philanthropy and wealth redistribution. Helping those who need help is a fine ideal. But what Obama said to Joe the Plumber (or at least how it is being portrayed by the right) is that there must be a levy on those who are successful to benefit those that are not.
    A “level playing field” only applies to equal opportunity, not equal outcome. If you want to level the playing field in a legislative or statutory manner, that’s one thing. But it entirely another thing altogether to say to someone “you have too much, so we are taking some of it to give to someone who has less.” It is this notion, rightly or wrongly, that is eliciting the reactions whenever McCain brings this up.
    “Fair” to many people means “I earned it, therefore I should be able to keep it.” In addition, I am sure there is a difference between people’s definitions of “fair share”. Individual wealth is still the “American dream”, such as it is, and many people still bitterly cling to the notion (along with their religion and guns) that if you work hard, you can achieve some relative degree of individual wealth. Then Obama comes along, telling a guy who seems to be portraying the American dream that the government has to handicap him in some way so that it’s “fair” for the people behind him.
    So yeah, I can see why some people react the way they do. It’s all a matter of perspective. Many on the left feel that the business of philanthropy and social concern is best served by government, while many on the right feel these are best served in the private sector. As a result, those on the right tend to give more to charitable causes than those on the left.
    http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i04/04001101.htm
    So it’s not that America needs to learn to share, it’s just that some would choose not to share with the government.

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  47. Claudia

    Claverack Weekender: Very interesting. Thanks for your reply.
    Joe–I’m not terribly fond of the simile, but, yes, I am concerned about the taxing of health benefits, as well.
    I do not think that there are any easy answers when it comes to health care.

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  48. Neva

    Hey, hey, I might be left leaning but I share what I’ve got too in numerous and sundry ways. We give a lot of money away to lots of great causes but certain things have to be government funded in this country to give everyone that starting place that is “fair” and there is just no way around it. IMHO this includes public education, health care and some others. Underfunding (or not funding) these just leads to significant social problems that we all must pay for in the end and lead to the need to create more and more charitable organizations to address those social problems..
    And Claverack guy – appreciate your honesty and glad you can see the good in Obama. There are more reasons than taxes to chose a candidate of course!
    Craighill – My Dad isn’t healthy enough to golf anymore but you’re right you would like him – you two could commiserate on having your “hard-earned” money taken away by the “gvnment” and the fact that “liberals have ruined this country”.

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  49. Anon

    McCain (and commentors on this blog) are acting like “progressive taxation” was invented by Obama, during this campaign. Progressive taxation (i.e., a higher tax rate for those earning more money) has been around about as long as the income tax.
    By the way, in case you forgot that this is all about POLITICS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8EyGpOU3qM

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  50. KTS

    Ladies and Gentlemen, let me quote a wise man:
    “i only have a problem when they expect to be paid as if they were doctors, lawyers, traders, etc. if you want more money, choose a vocation that pays more money. (EARN it!)”
    If that statement isn’t a classic Republican truism, I don’t know what is. If someone wants to make lots of money, they should choose to become a stock broker or lawyer or lobbyist or doctor or such, put their nose to the grindstone, and through hard work and determination, poof!, by magic, in this great land of the American Dream, it shall be! But if someone chooses to be unemployed or whatever, it’s there own goddamn fault that they don’t have any money. Let them live in poverty without health care. Piss on ‘em! Present company excepted, of course, my friends.
    This great nation is built on enterprising individuals. There is no difference between inherited intelligence. One’s IQ has no relation to what one is able to achieve. Don’t let ‘em fool ya. Anyone can be an Einstein! Anyone can be a lawyer! I am Houdini! The American Dream is yours! If Joe the Plumber can succeed, so can you! And if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. You’re not lazy and morally defective stinking social-ist scum, are you? Of course not! If you were, you’d be OK with the Democrats raising taxes on your hard earned money, so that you’ll never get ahead. Now that would be stupid!
    So hang in there, my friends. Keep working your fingers to the bone. And someday, you too will be living in a mansion with a three car garage and lots of flat screen TVs. Now that’s a change you can believe in.
    (Loud and appreciative hoots, hollers and applause.)

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  51. Emily B

    To all UNC grads who oppose ‘spreading the wealth’ – I’m sure the taxpayers of the state of North Carolina would appreciate the return of their investment in your heavily taxpayer subsidized degree.
    I don’t get it either, Ian. How the Republican Party has managed to convince lower and middle-class voters that they benefit from the party’s economic policies is beyond me, and is surely one of their most triumphant marketing success stories.

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  52. Ken H

    While I agree with the gyst of the argument (and am still voting Obama), I think there is one clarification that gets lost in the soundbites. To anonymous’ point, Obama’s plan doesn’t refer to an individual making $250K or more… it’s for a HOUSEHOLD making $250K (for an individual, his proposed threshhold is actually $200K). Pretty significant difference especially in places like CA and NYC, where having 2 working parents pulling in $250K collectively really doesn’t feel very Bastille-like.
    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/09/fact-check-obam.html

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  53. Jody

    The UNC grads comment is interesting. I’m going to quote widely and ignorantly here but the University gets something like %17 from the Legislature. They have tried to decouple from public support entirely, causing a difficult and unusual situation, but I think the legislature now demands to support them to retain the mandate. I bet the state has gotten a fairly large return on the UNC investment. Sorry for the thread hijack but Emily’s flippant remark got me thinking all serious-like…

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  54. Zel M.

    One more comment, so let me whip out a little Econ 10 on you:
    There is a difference between income and wealth. Income is earned, while wealth is the sum total of worth, whether income is produced or not.
    So here’s the rub: Obama’s tax plan – any tax plan, for that matter – only taxes those who EARN money, not necessarily those who HAVE money. So to me some of the pushback against any kind of tax increase is that it is a levy against those who earn and produce.
    Let me explain it this way: LeBron James makes 15 million dollars a year, certainly placing him among the wealthy. On the other hand, John Doe has $15 million stuffed in his mattress. Certainly John is wealthy, but if he is not EARNING income, he is not paying taxes. He is not impacted by Obama’s plan to “soak only the rich”.
    Additionally, many of those who are wealthy make more money not by producing anything, but by simply earning income on investments and on capital gains. But here’s the catch – the tax rate on interest and cap gains is not as much as the income tax. So those who actually earn a salary and generate income are being soaked more than those who already have their money.
    So again, I can understand why people see certain tax plans, like Obama’s as undermining achievement, especially for those who are closer to the magic $250K line.
    I do need to ask one point of clarification: Ian wrote “I lived under the poverty line for a decade, without any safety net…” Really? Did you live in the projects, receiving government assistance? Did you live in a trailer park and roll quarters for gas? I am sincere in asking because I don’t know exactly what you did between the time you were at UNC and the time you started writing this blog.
    Did you by chance mean you EARNED below the poverty line? If this is the case, then you make my point that there is a difference between earning and wealth, and that line is often blurred.

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  55. Serpaco

    Wow. I’ve been reading a lot blogs over the last few months. A LOT of them. And with the exception of a few entries above, this site has some of the most intelligent, most reasonable arguments I’ve ever read. For both sides. Seriously. Granted, the rant that got the debate going was a LITTLE over the top but… you got to start somewhere.
    For the most part, I feel we are devolving as a species, unable to handle or absorb viewpoints different from our own. Most message boards try to make an educated point then quickly devolve down the path of class, gender and racial epithets.
    The economy, foreign policy, ideaology are all valid reasons to choose one candidate over another.
    Me? I choose Obama because he INSPIRES me. Inspire – from the Latin: inspirare, “to fill with breath.
    He’s a breath of fresh air this country desperately needs.
    Tomorrow I travel to Nevada to help Get Out The Vote and to help make that happen.
    I will come back to visit this site. Please keep the debate going. It’s enlightening.

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