Kent Pitman

Kent Pitman
New England, USA
Philosopher, Technologist, Writer
I've been using the net in various roles—technical, social, and political—for the last 30 years. I'm disappointed that most forums don't pay for good writing and I'm ever in search of forums that do. (I've not seen any Tippem money, that's for sure.) And I worry some that our posting here for free could one day put paid writers in Closed Salon out of work. See my personal home page for more about me.


Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 9, 2010 2:02PM

Real Patriots Don’t Whine About Paying Taxes

Rate: 56 Flag

I was not one of those who voted based primarily on a promise to reduce the deficit. Mainly I didn't because I didn't and don't believe a lot of the promises by the Republicans and Tea Partiers, who seemed to mention it all the time.

Republican Lip Service to Fiscal Responsibility

As Rachel Maddow pointed out Monday, the very first issue the Republicans seem to have planned will be tax cuts for the rich—which will add $700 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility.

Republicans have billed themselves as everything good related to money. They tell us they are the party of fiscal responsibility, of economic prosperity, and of jobs. The historical record doesn't bear that out.

The New York Times laid it out clearly in a 2008 article where they observed that since 1929 there have been about 40 years under Republican presidents and 40 years under Democratic presidents, and so they followed what would happen to money if you invested it only under one or the other. If you had taken $10,000 and invested it in an S&P stock market index fund in 1929, allowing it to grow only when there was a Republican president, it would be worth $11,733 today, that is, it would have grown on average 0.4% per year. But that includes the Great Depression under Hoover, so they computed it also without counting him and it came out to $51,211, which is 4.7% per year. It might seem a tidy sum until you see that if you did the same under only Democratic presidents, your money would be worth $300,671, which is 8.9% per year. The Times article has some really nice graphics to illustrate this.

As Former U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt (D-MO) has been known to say, “if you want to live like a Republican, you have to vote for Democrats.”

Sunset of the Bush Tax Cuts

Although I didn't vote for someone making wild promises about deficit control, I do worry about that deficit. I have also heard speculation that the plan by the new Republican-led House will be to increase their bargaining leverage by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. For those who don't understand why this matters, the Republicans are in a bit of a bind right now. Their filibuster power in the Senate is useless if it doesn't have legislation to stop. Right now, the Bush tax cuts will expire without any intervention, so there is nothing to filibuster.

The Republicans may be hoping that if the cuts do expire, people will perceive this as a tax increase and blame it on Obama. That would be untrue, but that has never stopped them. In fact, the reason the tax cuts are expiring is that the Republicans wanted to skirt a rule that would have allowed blocking of the cuts if the would significantly increase the budget beyond a ten-year time horizon. Yes, that's right—ten years ago, the Republicans knew these would increase the deficit and passed them anyway by using a technique designed to avoid having this problem confronted directly. Now it's time for them to expire because of action taken by Republicans to dodge deficit scrutiny and, not surprisingly, there is controversy again about the fact that they grossly increase the deficit. And they want to pin the blame on Democrats.

And did I mention the rule the Republicans dodged in installing the Bush tax cuts the first time was something called the Byrd Rule, due to the late U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)? Yes, that's a Democrat trying to hold the line against deficit bloat. Republicans put their heads together and came up with a way around it, though.

Right now, Obama wants the Republicans to compromise and allow tax cuts on people making less than a quarter million dollars to be extended. The Republicans are the Party of No, of course, and don't want that. So it won't happen. But they won't get their tax cut for rich people that way either, and Obama won't compromise on that. The tax cuts will then expire. That's when the complicated part happens.

The Republicans appear to hope that if they allow the entire package to expire, voters will cry foul and say that it's Obama who has sold them out by not compromising. They're gambling that poor people will take a tax cut for the rich if there's something in it for them, too, even if it increases the deficit by a huge amount in total contradiction of the platform the Republicans ran on. Hard to imagine. And somehow they will blame it on the Democrats.

But also, once the tax cuts expire as a block, Obama will want to fix it for people earning less than than $250,000, as he's promised he would do. That will require legislation and the Republicans will be back in business with the House in their control and the Senate able to veto results they don't like. They'll be in the perfect position to hold lower-earning citizens hostage for a little payola to the rich in exchange for a tax cut.

A Possible Way Forward

I don't know about you, but personally my economic situation is not great. I have various debts I've been working for years to pay off. My contract with my employer doesn't let me talk about how much money I make, but it's probably okay for me to say it's way less than the quarter of a million dollars Obama is talking about protecting!

Still, though it would be really inconvenient if my taxes went up, I would find a way to survive it. I don't know how. I would and could make it happen for the sake of the common good. That's why I know the people making way more than me can survive it. I find myself wondering if perhaps a lot of us who make less than $250,000 (but still enough to get by) should send mail to Obama saying he should consider lowering the point where he wants to draw the protective line to $150,000 or even $100,000. If he got a lot of mail from us saying we could survive it, the people making more than us who were complaining wouldn't have as much to complain about.

Obama is a great persuader when he puts his mind to it. He could sell it to the American people as a call for personal patriotism, like was done in World War II, to get us out of our debt problem now, rather than leaving it to our grandchildren. He could ask people to pitch in for the cause. He could even send flag lapel pins to everyone who got their taxes raised. Let's see if the rich have it in them to wear their patriotic lapel pins while at the same time whining they don't want to be inconvenienced.

The Republicans are always talking about love of country. But I've always thought love was not about flowers and puppies as much as it is about sacrifice. They ask sacrifice of our less-well-paid citizens by letting them be the ones whose kids go into battle. It's time for them to ante up and start investing in the country they purport to love so much instead of optimizing their cash flow by offshoring accounts and outsourcing workers. Let's make paying taxes a matter of national pride, too.

How would that be for a tax compromise? Lessening the federal deficit and tightening our belts, just like the Republicans asked for. And doing it all while wearing an all-important flag lapel pin. I'd say that's meeting them more than halfway.

If you got value from this post, please "rate" it.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy these others:
Tax Policy and the Dewey Decimal System
Redistributing Burden
Deficit Attention Disorder

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I've been saying this for-bloody-ever, Kent. Amen and bravo. You cannot simultaneously call yourself "patriotic" and throw stompyfooted "Mine!" tantrums when it comes to paying your fair share of the country's bills. Period.

Thank you.
Excellent and informative post. This is an interesting topic with me due to the fact that these "patriots" have decided to make taxes a "fine." I don't be fine as in nice, I mean fine as a punitive cash payment for doing something illegal.

Shouldn't the people who have benefited most from the U.S. system pay more back in to the very system which allowed them to be successful?

The [rich people] tax cut will essentially cost $70 Billion a year to the rest of the American taxpayers and yet we cannot afford health care for the masses. Amazing.

Kent, I always respect your opinions because you're even more long-winded than I am....but I am going to part company with you about lowering the cap on the taxable income levels.

The deficit argues that we cannot afford to maintain the services we have now without going even deeper into debt.

The first step in reducing the deficit is to stop adding to it. There are only two ways to do this....reduce spending or increase income.

The argument about where we should set the cap on tax cuts belies the real problem which is that rich people never pay as much as they should because they can use the thousands of tax shelters to reduce their taxable income.

As a practical matter, a family with a $500,000 annual income could easily reduce their taxable income to well less than $250,000....but a working class family with an income of $100,000 can't use the same shelters.

That the gross unfairness in our system of taxation.

The only fair solution is to lower the tax rates but eliminate ALL tax shelters....even the home mortgage interest exemption.

Once we do that, we can talk about the fairness of one rate over another but, until then, it's just smoke and mirrors.
Verbal, thanks for the strong support!

joy, yes, this whole business of who's benefited is very subtle but you're right on target with that. And regarding the cost, I made a clarification in the article just now in response to your comment that this $700B is on a ten-year time horizon. I think the reason everyone thinks in terms of ten years must be that, as with the last tax cut, if you do it for longer you have increased deficit-related oversight. How sad if that's so, since it would mean the net effect of the oversight legislation, as I noted above, is to create a big loophole. The exceptions should be short-lived so that they come up for discussion embarrassingly often. As it is now, they can leapfrog whole presidencies.
Sage, I think the situation is going to be that they all expire. And then legislation will have to be passed to rescue some people. While I think it will catch more voters and buy more votes to scope it larger, the cost to the country in terms of deficit is substantial. And I think it will play better when the Republicans stonewall it, as they likely will, if all that was asked for is aid for a much smaller set of people. That has to be construed as compromise and will play well for the Democrat saying “the Republicans want to compromise in the wrong direction, toward more cuts for the rich and toward a larger deficit.” It will also play to the “We heard you on the deficit.” message.

Part of the issue is that right now we are spending more than we should not just for stupid reasons but to invest in fixing things. We can't sustain high spending, but on the other hand we can't bring spending down if we don't invest some. So there's a short term cash flow problem and the prudent and defensible way to handle it is through the people with the money bearing the burden in the name of doing their patriotic duty.
I guess the reason they're able to get away with this is the majority of the Repugs are incurious or simply uninterested in the truth. This vast voting bloc has been seduced by a fear based racist rhetoric born on their well thumped bibles. For them ignorance is truly bliss, they want their children to believe as fact that the earth is 6000 years old and a magic man waved a magic wand. These folks aren't interested in listening to reason. The powers that be have scared the shit out of them with their hateful lies mental manipulations. It is as if someone were to burn their hand on the stove and was then told to make it "feel better" they need only put their hand back on that burner -- don't worry, it'll start feeling better soon.

The other night I watched as "average" people were interviewed and asked why they were Tea Party people or Repugs and most claimed that the Dems would bankrupt the country and drive up the national debt. That's just pure ignorance. A cursory glance over the past forty years shows that the party who claims less government is best (Repugs) nearly always spends more (wastefully) and drives us deeper in debt than the Dems do. Duh. And we think America is dumb now? Wait for another 20 years when all these fundie homeschoolers come of age -- budding little Hitlers they'll be.
Ablonde, thanks for stopping by. Yes, click through to those graphics in the New York Times article. They're pretty damning to the Republican claim they are the party to trust.
the only people I've ever heard complaining about paying taxes have been republicans making for 1/4 million or those who have inherited wealth.


The rich do pay more into the system.. The question is how much more.
Everyone wants to selectively pay taxes. For example, I'd like the portion of my federal tax money that goes to defense (47%) to be apportioned so that it only goes to internal safety and security along with perhaps a bit of counter-intelligence. But elected officials make those determinations, not me.

I suspect--and I say this with a heavy heart--that people, particularly in rough economic times, don't want to pay anything for anyone else who's in trouble. As long as they're not needy, disabled, infirm, elderly, homeless, or jobless, they don't want to pay into those social programs.

"What's in it for ME?" is our new mantra.
If there are tax shelters that cut a $500K income down to $250K, please let me know what they are. If you can do it, believe me, you have a real future as a tax advisor.
When bigger snake oil con jobs are made, the Repugs will be there. It never ceases to amaze me how many poor people buy into the fact that they have to give rich people more of the poor people's money. This tawdry spectacle in Washington, DC will turn out in no good way. Mark my words. I merely assume the worst for this country.
Republicans in my view, have lost ALL legitimate claim to fiscal responsibility after the GWB administration. WHO was it who proclaimed "Deficits don't matter!" Darth Dick Cheney, I believe. But SUDDENLY we're asked to believe that the Republicans all care about reducing the deficit because there's a democrat in the White House who's triying to get the county OUT of the hole the GOP dug in the first place. Sorry folks, your vote on invading Iraq is now a matter of historic record. Don't recall a lot of worrying about the deficit on the day you cast those votes.

Anyone who thinks having to pay taxes is the worst thing that can happen to them ought to talk to a woman who has lived under Taliban law. Or who has ltried to make a life in Baghdad since 2003. Or any homeless person currently living under a freeway overpass.

Anywhere you live, you have to expect to pay for the benefits of civilization. Life Ain't free, and there are things worth paying for that "promote the general welfare" as I believe the Constitution puts it. And they're really doing a crappy job on the formation of a more perfect union while they're at it.
Great article Kent but disagree with notion that either party will allow tax cuts to expire or Mr. Obama. I hear compromise and a two year extension......appeasement for all. And Albonde, that is oh so true. TB's could not even spell deficit, poor dupes were shill for corporate interests. And so correct on the homeschooling disaster, we are so far down that slippery slope of education....well no words to express the horror. That is part and parcel of the TB's, they do not read.
You do make us think, Kent. I'll try to come back and read again.
Gary, I believe the Supreme Court actually asserted in Citizens United that there should be both disclosure and disclaimers. But I otherwise agree with your basic point.
As I posted yesterday, Americans are greedy and cheap! Anything not to pay taxes. Here in the Tampa Bay Area there was a penny tax extra sales tax proposed to support light rail, and a comprehensive transportation package. The voters turned it down by a landslide. One Penny!
I have given up on the American voters. As I said yesterday, when I leave this miserable country, I won't look back!
Someone needs to point out that "Freedom isn't Free" and Bridges don't build themselves.
A really well done post. Thank you for saying it and relaying it.
what if the Dems took advantage of the lame duck session to pass the tax cut extensions for the middle class, and in the Senate used reconciliation (just as the Repubs used it to pass these cuts in the first place) to send it to the President on a 50-plus vote, no filibuster allowed

then the $700 billion saved by not extending the rich elite's tax cuts, which the Repubs have already said won't make the deficit worse, gets plowed straight back into a direct jobs program targeting infrastructure and relief to the states to hire back laid off public safety workers and teachers

everybody wins, and even the Repubs could try to claim credit for it
this post was very thoughtful and considered. However i do agree with whoever opined that the tax cuts will be extended for all. Whether done out of cowardice or out of genuine concern for the ramifications of higher tax burden on the middle class in our current economic state.
Elijah, I think they certainly complain the loudest.

Malusinka, see my articles Tax Policy and the Dewey Decimal System and Redistributing Burden for my thoughts on the issue of whether the rich pay more. They do in dollars. But the poor work harder for the dollars they have than the rich work for theirs. I'll have more to say on this in articles in the coming days.

Bonnie, tax shelters for things that are anti-rights are very maddening, I'll give you that. I made some notes for a weekend blog sometime. :)

Nikki, I think you're right about people not sharing the burden. What surprises me is that it's so .. well, anti-Christian. At least the Christianity I was taught as a kid. I'm not religious now, but I remember the ethics I was taught there, and there were some good lessons. I like to tell the story of having asked about feeding a large crowd with just a few loaves of bread. I remember asking about that, since it sounded implausible. My Sunday school teacher said that it was probably that seeing that there was little, people revealed they had brought some food too, sharing it with others in a way that caused others to then share, too. Soon there was plenty as people stopped being stingy. The teacher asserted that getting people to share like that was just as good a miracle as the food stretching. I liked and accepted that explanation. It saddens me that it apparently isn't taught any more, or at least I see no evidence of it in Republican policy. Weird since they so often tout themselves as the Party that cares about religion. (Not that I think that they have any more lock on it than the Democrats. There are good and bad people in both parties. But I tire of the rhetoric that suggests the Republicans own religion and Democrats are godless.)

Malusinka, regarding the tax shelters, I agree with your suggestion that maybe Sage has a promising future as an accountant. Although in at least some cases there really are people with big deductions. A lot of tax law as written to handle very specific cases at the expense of others. It's not like there's a perfect market for deductions where everyone profits evenly.

Lefty, that kind of prediction isn't paying very long odds. I think you're making a pretty safe set of projections.
Great quote from Gephardt there. The Repubs will always opt for worse public policy if they perceive a way to gain political advantage. I remember as kid reading JFK's profiles In Courage about several individuals who put the greater good ahead of their own personal interests. I imagine that the future Repubs reading teh same book thought "Suckers!"

On the balanced budgets, the guy who first created this mess, Reagan, ran on a platform of big increases in defense spending, big tax cuts and balanced budgets. Well, it's like what they say about new computer systems. You want it good, fast and cheap but you can only have two of the three.
Kent, I certainly hope you sent this in as a Letter To The Editor in your town, at the very least... and shipped it off to the NYT and etc. at the most. It's something worthy of every op-ed page in America. People are thinking this, but can't articulate it.

I think the Pubs actually fawn over lapel pins and you might be able to hook 'em pretty easy with this idea.
Great post. This reminds of Oliver Wendell Holmes' quote: "I like taxes. They pay for civilization." It's refreshing to hear a grown-up view on this, for a change!
Shiral, I think the Republicans decided early on in this election to disclaim Bush as somehow not “of the party.” He didn't show up and they didn't comment on him—it was like he was invisible. And so they didn't have to answer for him. Magic.

IAH, a two-year extension won't be a compromise, it will be a wimp out. That's the kind of thing that will have me feeling like the Democrats have let me down and I should be talking to the Green Party. Which I may do anyway. But the Democrats can make that easier for me if they try. They need to start standing their ground on some important issues.

Anna, I really appreciate your continued support. Do come back!

Kenny, it really is sad that this sense of selfishness prevails. It's very anti-society. And as Carl Sagan used to say, “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” There is no such thing as any one of us starting from scratch or making it on his own.

Devilgrrl, I think you just did!

Sheila, thanks and you're welcome.
Roy, I'm just making a suggestion but I'm not suggesting mine should be the only one. Your approach sounds quite promising as well. Thanks for joining in!

Blue, it happens sometimes that people who are extorted give in, and that doesn't make them bad people. It's understandable since often the stakes are very real. And yet, we call upon patriots all the time to sacrifice for us. We really need to hold the line ourselves sometimes and support our politicians in doing what must be done.

Abrawang, I have a feeling the quote is actually older and that Gephardt was quoting someone else. But at least I tried to source it. I'm glad you found it a good one in any case. As for balancing budgets, the Republicans seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Defense. And it's not that I don't think Defense is important. I think it's critical. I just think Bush spent so much on pointless wars that our military got depleted and our strategic weakness became our bank balance.

Abby, I thought about it but there were technical reasons why I didn't. Still, others can get the message out. I did, however, go to the White House site and let them know I was serious about this. I requested a response—we'll see what that gets me.

Felicia, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
The hypocrisy exercised in Republican tax propaganda is overwhelmingly obvious. One of the most glaring contradictions I see is their stated defense of “small business”. Their real goal is almost always to defend BIG BUISNESS, and it is mostly big business, not taxes, that threatens small business. Now they threaten to hold lower-income Americans hostage for the benefit of highest-income Americans who do not need such benefits.

The Republican game plan in all of this really isn’t just about taxes. It’s about eliminating public funding for needed services so that the doors are open for more corporate privatization and profits at the expense of all the poorer knaves comprising the American populace. Their only real interest in eliminating taxes is to create deficits so that they can argue for elimination of services; “austerity measures”.

sagemerlin writes, “The first step in reducing the deficit is to stop adding to it. There are only two ways to do this....reduce spending or increase income.”

Republicans are looking solely to “reduce spending”, but only on selected areas, primarily public services. Their goal is to privatize everything.

Kent, you say that Obama won’t compromise on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Are you sure? He’s compromised on everything else. If he was willing to compromise on single-payer healthcare just to pass a bill, why not compromise on this just to keep the cuts for poorer Americans?

I agree with Roy; it would be nice to see some real courage from the Dems. After seeing a large number of the Blue Dogs lose bids for re-election, I am hoping that Obama and, more importantly, the other Dems in Congress will finally wise up and start representing the people that supported them with votes. I seriously doubt they will. And even if they do, I can’t help choking on the wasted two years behind us.
You're talking as if the Republic hadn't already been co-opted by the plutocracy.
Maybe its just the first snow coupled with the earlier end of daylight (did I remember to take my Vit D-3 today?) but as I listen to the President speak in India, I am just about out of hope. You dont add anything to the GDP if you dont produce something more than weapons, and yet thats all we have left to sell.
People thinking its fair to pay taxes? People thinking sacrifice means anything other than going shopping (on an f'n credit card)?
Where do we go to get OUR America back, when its been stolen by the multinational corporations and blessed by the Supreme Court?

"The money power preys on the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes." - Abraham Lincoln
Obviously Malusinka has never heard of tax deferred annuities which may be purchased on behalf of another party as partial compensation, and because they deferred to some future date, no taxes are drawn from them when they are originally purchased. Big time professional athletes don't take the compensation in lump sum payments, but take them in time delayed payments over a significantly longer period of time, thus reducing the annual tax burden.

Buy a five million dollar home, and get a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of home mortgage interest deducted from your gross income, especially with a front loaded mortgage in which all of the payment for the first fifteen years go to interest and nothing to principal.

Let's see now, what else is there? Oh, right, there's the famous oil speculation shelters. Buy mineral rights on unproven lots in known oil fields, and let the properties lay dormant.

Or, how about contributing a million dollars to a 501(c) 6 entity like the United States Chamber of Commerce....and deduct every dollar of it as a business expense, not as a charitable contribution.

Then there are those charitable remainder trusts that confer huge contributions to nonprofit organizations, but shelter even greater amounts of assets for the families of the deceased.

The United States Tax Code was reported to be 17,000 pages long in 2006. Well, actually, it was only 16,845 10 point type. In 2003, the total number of pages of the Tax Code itself and all of the rulings by the Tax Court came to nearly 55,000 pages.

The US Online Tax Code, compiled in 2004 from the version kept by the House of Representatives Office of Law Revision Counsel, has 7,500 pages with 60 lines to a page.

There are so many loop holes and special interest exemptions that only benefit a very small number of people that ONLY the people those loop holes directly benefit know about them because they helped to write them in the first place.

When was the last time, you think, that a guy with an annual income of $125,000 was asked how he would like his exemption worded?

Wake up.

This is one huge con game and we're the suckers who are in play.
It is a sticky problem, because they don't want the fiscal drag of the tax cuts lapsing, but they don't want to increase the deficit either.
Not so easy a fiscal policy problem really, any way you slice it.
Rick, the big business vs. small business shell game is on my list of pending posts, but you'd do me a great favor by beating me to it... I have several hundred issues piled up and it's tough finding the time. It seems like everything that I hear I think “I could write a whole blog on just that.” But that distinction you're making is really quite important and seems utterly overlooked.

Rick, no, I'm not sure Obama won't compromise. But he's said he won't. And he's really gone out of his way to stick to what he's said. If he buys into the extension, he nullifies his right to complain that they're bloating the deficit because it will be said that he was, too. He's got a very strong issue here that could win him the election next time and he mustn't blow it. I know you don't see a lot of moral difference between these two parties, but I sure do. A Republican win in 2012 could be devastating for all the reasons you so ably cite.

Tim, I'm struggling to retain any sense of hope myself. Don't get me off message here. :) But you aren't without a point.

Sage, you can see I'm right in agreeing with Malusinka that you'll make a fine tax advisor. I hope you don't take that as condemnation. I actually agree with you that these things exist. I do agree with you that the tax code serves the collection of wealth. The way I would put it is that once you have money, it's easy to make more. It's getting across the divide that's hard.
I couldn't agree more. It was great to read this!
I also posted to my FB and it received comments there too.
Kent, you would have enjoyed talking to my grandmother who observed during the Vietnam boondoggle that part of the problem with that conflict was that the average American was not asked to make any sacrifice toward the war effort as he or she was asked to do during World War II. Her belief was that it distanced us from the experience of the war. We only got our eyes dirty watching on the tube during the evening news instead of our hands soiled recycling rubber tires.

Your post serves as an apt reminder to all Americans, rich and poor alike, Democrat or Republican or Green, that united we stand, divided we fall.
Lucy, thanks for visiting and offering your support.

Sheila, if they say anything interesting, feel free to summarize it or encourage them to copy their comment here. Thanks!
I must say, Diogenes, that I wish you well in your search for a true patriot.

The GOP throws up things like the Bush tax cuts because they sound good to voters. Most voters, though, got near bupkis from the tax cuts. Because it sounds good, it sets a political trap for whatever set of truly fiscally responsible people decides to rescind them.
When that happens, the GOP shifts into their set argument --we need spending cuts! Tax cuts for the top end stimulate investments and create jobs!
There used to be this quaint notion that businesses invested to generate profits --they called it capitalism, I think.
It's truly childish magical thinking to assume shoveling more borrowed money at our America-lovin' transnational corps will result in more investment to create jobs.

Less than 3% of tax filings that come under the top 2-3% are involved with small businesses that actually employ more than 1 person.

The sneaky Fun Fact is that the Republicans have so little faith in capitalism they keep devising crutches for people who aren't crippled. So little faith in capitalism they refuse to stimulate the economy at the low end, where it would, as one who holds faith in the wonders of the markets knows, generate many times the cost through the multiplier effect.
I'm beginning to think Republicans hate capitalism...they sure aren't doing much more than killing it slowly, and the rest of us along with it.

I know that you'll not see anyone proudly wearing a "I paid my taxes" button. The top-enders see that as a sin to be avoided.
However, if there were a god of fiscal responsibility, they'd burn "I raised our debt" on the foreheads of the Repubs and Blue Dog Dems.
It has been interesting watching the Republicans as they take the lead - talk about walking it back - Rand Paul kind of likes ear marks now. rated
Coyote, your grandmother sounds like she would have been quite an interesting lady and well worth meeting. I'm sorry I missed out. As for uniting or dividing, we seem so hopelessly divided that I do worry we'll fall.

Paul, thanks for the reference to Diogenes, who I didn't know but got to go read about. I think you're right they have little faith in capitalism other than as a scoop to get stuff out of the candy jar. The successful nations in which they seem to be investing their wealth are all modified capitalism at best, certainly not free market capitalism like they preach. That must say something they seriously don't want to admit...
Trish, interesting about the change in Rand Paul's earmarks stance. I hadn't been aware until you mentioned it and I googled around. Thanks.
For anyone looking at the Diogenes link Kent posts, my reference is to Diogenes carrying a lamp in daytime, saying he was searching for an honest man. One then presumes he won't find one, which seems to be Diogenes' point. And mine, as far as the rich, tax increase fan is concerned.
Kent, you say to me, "I know you don't see a lot of moral difference between these two parties, but I sure do."

It's not really a question of the difference in morals between the two parties; it's more a matter of the results we see (or don't see) regardless of who is in office. Seriously, do you really see significant change since the Dems took control four years ago and have now started losing it again? Talk is cheap and action seems extinct. Yeah, whether the Dems are more moral than the Repubs or not, in the end, they have not acted on it. Why should they? There's no incentive for them to.
Admittedly, I only know the poorer rich (top 1-3%, not top .o1 or .oo1 to .03%) but everyone of them works damned hard. Long hours, 60 to 80 hours weeks for years on end. Not including travel time on frequent business trips.

Someone on an hourly wage who gets overtime can make a hell of a lot of money on those hours. For example, a 50K/year employee getting time and a half on an 80 hours/week becomes a 125K/year worker and now a member of the evil rich class, by some calculations.

It's a lifestyle that has serious and negative consequences for family life. Yes, it's a choice, but don't work hard? Give me a break.
Deferring income is different from sheltering it. When you invest in non-income generating assets, like dormant oil field leases, you are deferring income. It means that you don't get to spend that money and when you do realize it, you get taxed.

Second, most tax shelters have a cost. The higher the tax bracket you are in, the more value you get, but you still have the cost. For example, if you make a charitable donation and are in the 30% bracket, then a million dollar contribution costs you 700,000$ (1M minus 30% tax savings)

Even at 40% tax bracket, sheltering 250K of income is going to cost 416K, leaving 84K out of a 500K income. Which is an argument for not raising taxes until the tax code can be simplified. The higher the rates, the more economically viable tax avoidance schemes become.
Most of them are far less productive than an investment made solely based on its economic value.
Rick, I've answered this before, but I'll do it again. I do see substantive change. Tons of it. My disenchantment with them is not that they don't make substantive change, it's that they don't have the priorities I do. I would have traded much of that substantive change for a few issues I consider key that they didn't do. But that's not an issue of either morality or results, it's an issue of focus, which is notoriously difficult under a democracy since every voter has a different agenda and there's no a priori reason to prefer satisfying one over satisfying another.

Malusinka, I don't really want to debate this point, but I'll explain what I meant. The rich, even when they “work hard,” often have better schools and so better jobs, they do less manual labor; they do not get shot at as much; even if they work long hours it's usually at one job, not two or three; they aren't fired for being late to work or otherwise treated inflexibly; they get health care and other benefits for themselves and family; they get access to cheaper credit so are indebted for less time; they retire earlier and more comfortably; they get raises usually without asking and often in very comfortable increments; and often have insurance against something going wrong with various aspects of their lives. The primary overlap between rich and poor when both “work hard” is probably long hours; the rest is probably very different. I don't want to quibble this with you, but you should understand there was something material I meant by the remark. I work some seriously long hours for better than average pay though I am not rich, but the last thing you will find me doing is bemoaning my plight because I've seen a lot of people have it a lot harder. I've simply been lucky. Others, not so much. The privileged class doesn't want to admit how much of their success is just luck, either luck in the marketplace or luck with what family they were born into or where they lived or what school they went to.
Excellent post, Kent. This is one that goes way over my head. I can't quite reconcile concern for the deficit and the willingness to extend taxes for the rich. It makes no sense, but then little does in politics lately.
Fay, I don't think it's that complicated: They pay lip service to the debt to gain trust of voters and then hope no one is watching when they push policies that will shovel money out of the system into their bank accounts. You're probably getting it fine. They just wish you weren't because indeed the rhetoric doesn't withstand scrutiny.
Excellent article, Kent. Too bad we just keep preaching to the choir here. There is nothing in the Republican's actions, past or present, that indicate that they love their country. What about engaging in an unnecessary war and hiding the cost, outsourcing American jobs, turning a surplus into a huge deficit, or deregulating the rules concerning banking and investing to the point that the economy was derailed and no one did anything illegal, sound like patriotic Americans. The argument that not extending the Bush tax cuts will hurt small business is spurious. If an employer makes over a quarter million a year then he/she is not the kind of small businessman that creates jobs for working Americans.
"...sounds like a patriotic American."...
The argument by economists is that, in the short term, raising taxes will further slow the economy due to less consumer spending. In the long run, of course, we would not need as much tax because we would not be spending so much to service the debt. I'm retired and am careful with my money, but I would gladly pay more taxes to help the cause.
I can't believe you could be so insensitive to the needs of our patriotic hedge fund managers and corporate tycoons, Kent. 200 foot yachts don't grow on trees, you know. And have you priced a coporate jet lately? I didn't think so. 40% of Americans pay no taxex at all! Of course, that's because they are either out of work or so poor they have no money at the end of the year, but that's another story. But then if you listen to Republicans, you'd think we are dining on cavier and lobster with all those entitlement food stamps and unemployment benefits we are gobbling up.

Living large in a cardboard box. The new American Dream.
There are countries with notoriously high tax rates - and the money is used to give them security and health care, which I daresay makes for a happier less-stressed work force...and, hey, they have an employed work force too. How do they do it? Why can't America? There's the boogeyman of 'socialism', I suppose.
Kent, your last reply to Malusinka merits a post all its own, and I really hope you consider doing that.

This whole notion of "working hard" has become quite confused. The way I look at it, there are only 24 hours in a day, no matter who you are, so the rich who "work hard" aren't working any more hours than the poor who "work hard". And what does "hard" mean? Who measures the worth of that? If you've got a lawyer who makes $300,000 a year and a janitor who makes $30,000 a year, is the lawyer really working 10 times harder than the janitor? Granted, the lawyer has a special set of skills, but is he/she really working that much harder?

There's a recently published Vanderbilt University study which shows that Mexican immigrants living in the United States are concentrated in jobs that have a high risk of fatality, but they receive little compensation for that risk. I would say that a job that entails a high risk of fatality is a very "hard" job.

Hmm, maybe I'll do a blog on it.
You're right Kent, my comment was somewhat off topic. Yesterday I was in one of those "dark" moods that affect those of us who have Irish blood in our veins. So permit me to make a second comment.

Really, I'd agree with you and I will write a letter suggesting that we be asked to sacrifice and that we get something in return for that sacrifice that we display. This would be the equivalent of putting stars in our windows to express support for our children who have gone to war, as in the '40's. I think its a wonderful idea. Americans really do want to sacrifice for the common good and want to display that sacrifice as a badge.
A few years back I had several things come together that made a lot of money. It was perhaps a once in a lifetime year and when my accountant said that after all I had paid thru the year I would still have to send in a healthy 5 figure check I was agast. Then I realized it only meant I had made some serious money and I was ok. It isnt so painful to pay taxes when you make money, its only painful when you dont make much and have to survive on the leftovers.
Good on you for this post. Let's start the write-in campaign!
Assumptions and rationalizations, nothing more. You might as well try to revive Bellamy. Getting wrapped around partisan politics is ignorant. The core of our problems is not gay rights, border/immigration, cap and trade or even health care. It is corruption and the cyclic repeat of the Robber baron era, all parties considered.

No one wants to hear how our national guardsmen are committing billions of dollars in fraud or how the negligence of a contractor, wholly owned by a national guardsman, resulted in the repeat rape of a 16 year old boy at a national guard youth camp,

No one wants to have to look at their self centered, apathetic, ignorant selves, but they will rant and give you a big thumbs up in here. When it comes to having to get a pitch fork watch them fold.

I have fought fraud for 22 years, have lost everything in the pursuit of justice, and you want me to pay a cent of tax into a corrupt system. What have you ever done to correct a wrong? I can balance our deficit in 10 years with the authorization and a staff of 12, that is if the American people really wanted it, which would require them to amass and bring the DOJ, who acts like a racketeering fence, into account.

So Mr. Pitman, if you really want to show your true blue then take my challenge. I am a proven whistleblowing, fraud fighting crusader. You will either contribute or criticize what is it going to be? If you are not willing to actually get out from behind your keyboard then your writings are nothing more than a diatribe and the ramblings of a skimmer who doesn't get dirty. It is easy to be a holy man on the top of a mountain.

I say load everyone onto the welfare system and implode the entire mess to the ground, but then the soccer mom in her soccer van with her castrated husband who sleeps in the other room would not be able to continue the charade. I sit here just outside of the space center, where I have been previously employed, listening to merchants say 50% of their revenue is derived from food stamps with a real unemployment statistic of about 18%-22%.

Food pantries are seeing triple the lines. Everyone from up North who are failing are now coming to Florida to move themselves and their children in with grandma and grandpa who have been retired for 5-10 years on a fixed income barely making it as well. You can feel the tension and the hostility mounting and you have the nerve to pontificate that we should continue to feed the system?

It's about corruption, greed, and the American way, which is business as usual.
The fallacy of the tax cuts in the first place is that they don't exist. As long as we have massive deficits we are only deferring taxes. Give me a VISA card with a $1 million dollar limit and no due date for the first payment and I'll appear to be very wealthy. Great post and rated!
I don't know about patriotism, but you can't legitimately say your for fiscal responsibility and cutting the deficit AND be for the Bush tax cuts. By the way, I deliberately didn't say extending the tax cuts because the real objective of the Republicans is to make them permanent -- and for the mildly insane rtwingnuts reducing taxes further and for the Randian wingnut wing, eliminating income taxes altogether -- we don't need no stinkin' govt, donchaknow.

The justification for tax cuts is the lame old idea that encourages the obscenely wealthy to brush a few crumbs from the table and let a pittance trickle down to the undeserving. This time around that lame argument is fortified with "not in the middle of recession". Well, I hope to hell the Dems don't let the clown who caused that recession get away with pure bullshit -- yet again.

My bet? It will be cold day in hell when the Repugs allow taxes to be raised on the Golden Cash Cow, and when push comes to shove, you can bet they will find plenty of allies among the Dems. The Bush tax cuts will be extended one way or another.
Agree w/Tom C. listened to impassioned pleas from Rachel and Ed for lame duck session to extend taxs cuts only to middle class but believe Dems will crater esp. Lincoln, Nelson, Bayh & others. Further don't think they have the stomach for reconcilation.....
I am always disappointed when a conclusion is reached that favors one of our two major political parties as more competent at majority governance than the other. First, there is plenty to suggest that both are equally competent, or equally incompetent, depending on the cynicism incorporated into your point of view, to govern us. Second, it would take a great deal to convince an objective observer that either major political party has acted in the best long-term interests of America, or its citizens, since the Depression.

With all due respect, Mr. Pitman, the argument that implies Democrats make our economy well and Republicans make our economy ill, is as thin as tissue paper. There is much more evidence to suggest that multi-year lags exit between the initializing events and the actual onset of an associated economic recession or recovery.

For example, one can find plenty to connect, at least in part, the economic havoc wreaked on Germany after the WWI, associated with the punitive nature of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, with the global economic collapse associated with our stock market crash in 1929. That’s a decade between initializing events and economic result.

More recently, it took so long for the National Bureau of Economic Research to determine that America was in a recession during 2008 to 2009 that their announcement of the June 2009 “trough” was not made until 20 September 2010. That’s a lag in “official” realization alone of 18 months, nearly half a presidential term.

Further, recovery efforts made during most of 2008, the last year of the Bush administration, and continued during the first two years of the Obama administration, have not yet resulted in reduced unemployment. That’s a delay between cause and presumed effect of three years.

On the strength of such flimsy evidence, it seems equally valid to argue that Republicans have been the ones who have solved our economic ills between Democratic administrations. Don’t get me wrong. I am not making this argument. I am just saying it’s as invalid as yours. It’s just so sad to contemplate your entrance into the voting booth with the idea that you believe that casting your ballot for Democrats provides an immediate, direct, causal link to an improvement in your financial condition.

Let me end this comment with a brief review of some Democratic actions that have led America to the federal financial condition we face today.

Both Social Security (enacted under FDR) and Medicare (enacted under LBJ) are financial disasters, according to their corresponding boards of trustees. Both boards are advocating huge changes in both revenue collection and benefit disbursements.

In the case of Medicare, as far back as 2004, the board of trustees has been recommending withholding rate increases of 122%, or benefit reductions of 51%, or a combination of both. In the case of Social Security, the board of trustees is predicting bankruptcy in 2041.

In total, the Federal government collected approximately $2.1 trillion in revenues from all sources during its the FY10 fiscal year just ended. It spent almost exactly this same amount on all non-discretionary programs during FY10.

The three biggest mandatory outlays are, of course, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. However, the combined outlay for programs like food stamps, farm subsidies, price supports, etc., nearly equals that expended for Social Security alone. Guess which party initiated nearly all of these programs under the New Deal, The New Frontier, the Great Society, or the War on Poverty.

Finally, for the past two years, the Democrats have had control of both chambers of Congress. It is clear that they knew exactly how to impose their collective will to force an outcome of the legislative process. The passage of both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Affordable Health Care & Patient Rights Act of 2010 demonstrated this power.

We all, to one degree or the other, share your concern for the federal budget deficit and the size of our national debt. However, the conjunction of congressional Democratic power and this national concern begs the question: Why did the Democrats miss this opportunity to enact a balanced budget law or initiate a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution?

Balanced budget provisions have been added to the constitutions of most of the States in our union. Some countries, including Germany and Switzerland, have balanced budget laws or balanced budget amendments to their constitutions.

For those of you now rapidly compiling the excuses why the Democrats could not have gotten this accomplished, let me interject the following into your thoughts: Most balanced budget provisions make an exception for times of war or national emergency, or allow the legislature to suspend the rule by a supermajority vote.

It’s on such failures alone that one may rest a good case for the proposition that neither major political party has acted in the best long-term interests of America.

I will break this comment off here. However, your long post will probably inspired another comment from me.
Rodney, you make some good points, although I specifically do not what to challenge the patriotism of the whole Republican party, nor maybe even most of it. What I want to do is to note that there are some things those people could do for the sake of country and not let them have a pass where no one asks them. Often when people are not called upon to do something, they think it's OK not to do it.

Michael, yes, I'm just that kind of callous guy. :) You make a good point about those who don't pay, too. That statistic indeed often widely misconstrued. I keep pointing people at my article Tax Policy and the Dewey Decimal System which addresses that pretty directly.

Myriad, yes, we are a proud and powerful country capable of standing up to sticks and stones .. and yet not name-calling sometimes.
Jeanette, yes, I agree it deserves a blog. I might get to it, but please feel free to scoop me. I have so many others to attend to. And I don't mind saying it redundantly if I do finally get there. Sometimes a message has to be said more than once by different people to get through.

Tim, as noted in the Tax Policy and the Dewey Decimal System post, there's a kind of sense of honor and privilege when one gets to the place in society where one can feel like they can actually legitimately help others. Certainly one of my biggest fears in life is that so many good things have come to me I might not somehow put back in more than I got. I'd like to come through having not been a net drain on the world. But, you know, not everyone even has the set of initial circumstances where they can aspire to that, and so I don't look badly on someone just because they don't get there. There are certainly some not pulling their fair share, but exactly who is who is complicated. We need to breed a culture where this is a value we promote.
Tom Ubl, your remarks are less focused than I'd like so quite honestly it's hard to tell what to make of them. There are parts of what you say I agree with, parts I disagree with, and a huge part I just couldn't put into any recognizable frame of reference. You say at one point “You will either contribute or criticize what is it going to be?” I think I'm contributing, but if you disagree, I can live with that. Please, I think your remarks are off-topic here. Whether you disagree or not, I suggest you take them up elsewhere, like on your own blog. Then you have lots of room to discuss the issue with whoever you can attract.
Since 2004, and perhaps before, the IRS has been reporting that the 5% wealthiest (AGI based, presumably) income tax filers pay 53%, and often more, of all income taxes. Further, the top 50% pay 96% of all income taxes.

Given these two statistics, it is incomprehensible how anyone concludes that the rich are getting away with anything. It appears that if any group deserves a tax cut, having had to shoulder as much of this tax burden as they do, it is the rich.

Further, one half of the country seems to be footing most all of the income tax bill for the other half. In that case, it would seem that one out of every two potential taxpayers would be as upset as the guy who keeps getting stuck with the Sunday afternoon restaurant bill when his in-laws come for their regular visit.

Who in the hell is complaining here – the poor? I doubt it. They’re getting a free ride.

I don’t hear many complaints from the rich, although it would seem they would be justified in doing so. Heaven forbid the rich decide to spend enough money with our corrupt congresspersons and convince them to impose a flat tax. At 17% (estimated by none other than that elitist magazine, Forbes) I would join you in claiming that those earning $30,000 couldn’t live on the $24,900 left over from such a system, especially when one recalls that income taxes are not the only withholding from non-passive income.

Therefore, it must be that “middle class” doing the whining. The $700 billion that you would prefer the rich alone to pay through the restoration of the tax rates prior to the temporary Bush tax cuts, computes to about $245.61 for every man woman and child in this country for each of the next ten years.

This presumes that the population of our country is 300 million and that the richest 5% do NOT pay their share of this imaginary burden. If these rich do pay their “fair” (flat) tax portion of this amount, then this per capita annual rate falls $12.28 to $233.33 per person for the next ten years. I would be happy to join in paying along with you, Kent, at these rates if you believe our federal government deserves and needs this additional revenue.

However, your proposal seems to demand that these 5% wealthiest bear the entire burden of the $700 billion you want “restored” to the treasury. That’s $4,666.67 per year, for the next ten years, for every rich money earner and each member of his or her family.

Listen, why don’t you send me your address and I’ll write you a check for my whole $46,666.67 share right now. You can go on and send it in to Uncle Sam in both our names, if that will make you feel better, just give me credit for 96% or it, or pay me back over the next ten years. I am tired of paying your bills.
Roger, you make a really great point about the deferral and I thank you for making it. I will quibble slightly, though, with your conclusion, though I think in a way you'll agree with: Some of these metrics are misleading (which in fact was your point), so things like the GDP can show us doing well when really the issue is more about who the “us” is than the quantitative bit. We can be mostly doing poorly with just a few people doing super-well and the GDP will look good. So, likewise, to your point about taxes, individuals are affected disproportionately by “tax cuts.” To take a trivial example, if I cut everyone's taxes by a penny and yours by a billion dollars, I have “cut taxes for everyone.” If I cut just your taxes by a billion and no one else's, I have still “cut taxes.” So it really matters who we're talking about. The game is set up so that a few people can profit as we overall, as a society, lose. That's really the problem. Until we start to measure the degree of disproportionate benefit and cut straight through some of the fog created by present measuring, we'll go nowhere. I've seen references to reports like this, but haven't had a time to sift them to see where this leads. But I think he's on the right track. Not that Stiglitz needs my endorsement. But seriously, he's a good writer and I did read his Freefall analysis which is incredibly interesting. I totally recommend it.
UncleChri, I refer you to my article Redistributing Burden where you can get some inkling of where I'm coming from. You may also want to read Name Your Own Credit Card Rate! which comes at it from a slightly different angle. But no, I don't find the measure of the money to be in any way a measure of the burden on these people. If you can't see that, even after reading my articles, then we probably won't get very far. But hopefully if you read those, where I've already taken the pain to lay out the issues, you'll at least be able to understand another possible formulation that could lead a rational person to have a difference of opinion with you.
UncleChri, one more thing: I don't completely disagree with your point that these issues are not about one party being all right and one being all wrong. And I wouldn't even advance the argument in this form but for the fact that elections are lost in this nation now if strong words are not meant by strong words. When the Republicans stop making it about party vs. party, the Democrats will surely back down. But if they Republicans don't back down, their words have to be met with equal force or they seem unresponded to. The Republicans cite stats that say that Democrats are on the way to ruin, and they are not. Also, where I part company with you on this is that there are real and structural reasons to believe that the information in the first part of this article make some degree of sense. The places where the Republicans have spent out of control tend to be wars, which they seem to insist should be prosecuted without respect to cost. And the Democrats largely avoid this big problem. The Democratic items are also sometimes big-ticket, but they are investments and so they also pay dividends that people often don't take the trouble to track down. We benefit in material ways in the GDP from having a healthy workforce, for example, and even from having seniors taken care of so that people don't have to leave the workforce to take care of family. So the notion that these are just sinks of money is wrong. By contrast, money spent on a war is just money down the drain unless you think that tomorrow you simply wouldn't be there because a bomb would strike. That was a real concern in WWI and WWII, but is a much more questionable claim for some of the wars since, and so the money spent there literally could have been poured down the toilet. And it is largely on the Republican hawks that a lot of this is rightly blamed. So I do somewhat believe it's a party thing. But, all of that said, I think there are good and bad people on both sides, and I'll be as glad as you if we get back to thinking that everyone is working for the country and just offering solutions from a different point of view. This notion that the Republicans have that they must never give the appearance of having cooperated with Obama is very bad, and is a party policy pretty strictly enforced. The Democrats have no such rule, they just want reasonable policies to result. I think the Democrats would meat the Republicans halfway, but it's really for the Republicans at this point to make the first conciliatory move. At this point, the Democrats are just doing their best to survive in a partisan world not of their own making.
Tom C, I hope you're wrong, but you have a lot of good thinking in there.

IAH, I'm familiar with reconciliation only in summary form and haven't seen it played out, so not sure what stomach is required, but certainly they've failed to use the tools they have at hand in the way I'm sure the Republicans would and will. I wish they'd wise up. If they don't, Tom will indeed be prophetic.

Perhaps you will be happy to know that I did read your blog on Redistributing Burden prior to making my first comment to your most recent posting. It continues to be matter of some sadness to hear of your belief that there is something of significance in the substance of the Democratic Party.

Don’t get me wrong. It would also be a matter of similar sadness to hear that you believed that there was some significant substance to the Republican Party.

Both parties have relegated themselves to the status of opposing cheerleading squads at a football game. They have similar, shallow, aims. Their basic rationale for existence is to insure victory for their team members and the possession of the football. They both push for their own agenda and oppose the side in control.

Without meaning any insult, I greatly enjoyed your line, “. . . the Democrats are just doing their best to survive in a partisan world not of their own making.” Perhaps you haven’t been around as long as I have. Nevertheless, I enjoy humor wherever I find it.

However, the purpose of our interchange should always be constructive. In pursuit of this objective, let me recommend my first, and only, blog post in which I attempt to communicate the core content of my interview with Winston Churchill. (I apologize for not knowing how to post a hyperlink herein to make it easy for you to migrate to my posting.)

In this interview, Mr. Churchill had something to say about political parties and the importance of his political philosophy. Both strike me now as relevant to the points you and I are both trying to make.

Best Regards,

@Kent Is a bunch of bobble heads what you are shooting for with your prose. If it stands up it is worthy, if not it is just more diatribe clutter.

1) Your focus on partisan semantics is damaging to the real cause of our problems, which is corruption.
2) The notion of waiving the tax paying flag to show those darn upper crust how wrong they are an force some sort of invisible hand again is at best wishful thinking. Even if you were able to waive your magic pen and everyone was wearing their little ribbon on their chest do you think the elite would change one iota?
3) I asked a question: What have you ever done, actually engaged, to bring about change besides philosophize? Anything?
4) I have paid over $875K in taxes in my lifetime, your strategy hasn't worked yet. Do I need a ribbon on my chest to shine in the glory of my stupidity?
5) Your title or thesis statement was about the deficit. Yet you digress into some partisan rant that loses the message. Try this:
6) Tom Ubl can balance the deficit in 10 years with a staff of 12 and an agreed upon frozen budget that has only conservative escalators applied.

Want to know the simple answer Kent or is it going to hijack your hours of hyperbole? You could be a huge contributor to getting the message out. That is where the contribute or criticize come in.

Want to know or is apathy more of an inducement?
I'm going with the headline because I really don't have time to read the whole thing.

Complaints about paying taxes are good or bad depending on how the tax receipts are being used. If the money is spent defending the country from Islamic attacks, bueno. If the money is spent transporting Nancy Pelosi from one coast to another, forget it.

There is a lot in between, and that's where intelligent analysis begins. But to say that we should all joyfully pay taxes just for the sheer fun of it is dim, to put it politely.
Chris (UncleChri), I actually am looking at the possibility of supporting the Green Party in 2012. I'm not blind to the issues of the Democratic party. However, I have this issue back and forth with Rick Lucke a lot: I have grave doubts about the Climate Change situation, so grave that I'm not sure we can wait the period of time needed to reform the system, which can't be done quickly. As such, I have to choose among the electable parties. I will support the Greens if they can get elected, and if not I have to back the party that I think will make the most difference. Between the Democrats and Republicans, the R's are wanting to take us straight into worse problems in my opinion and the D's are wanting to turn us away from the problems and move at a snail's pace. That's not much of a good choice, but the D's are clearly better if you understand my meaning of better as not meaning "Good" but rather "materially not as bad". On other issues, the D's actually do profess better intent but often don't have the competence or the stomach to achieve what they purport to aspire to; some cynically say that it's that they don't intend it at all, but I'm not sure it matters that much to make such a nuanced distinction. Either way the motion is slow. But the R's on many other issues are aggressively dismantling the small progress the D's are making. So again it's a material difference. I don't like this whole discussion in terms of parties because although I like the Green agenda, I also am not fearful of something from the Right if it works. My criterion for supporting something isn't where it comes from but rather does it work. The problem is that I think the R's are not making things that work.

You might see my article My Secret Shame: Confessions of a Republican Wannabe and Renouncing My Status as a Republican Wannabe to understand how my opinion has evolved on this, but I hope if you do you will understand that the real take-home point is that I'm not static in how I view things. New data comes in and I try to consider it. Still, I appear at times to be fixed on a particular party or candidate because it matters to have results and have them now. Yes, this can lead to hill climbing (mathematical/programming term, not the sport) problems, and in a world where you have the luxury of time it's not the right thing.

But just now, it's the only option to focus mainly on nearterm effects, even accepting less-than-perfect options, as I judge the urgency of climate change, where I expect the world will be in serious and possibly irredeemable turmoil within 2-3 decades, and it won't all start all of a sudden at that time, it's already starting now and ramping up during that time. I don't need you to believe that timeline (though it would be great if you did), but rather to understand that I believe it and that my reasons for making decisions as I do is based on that.

But maybe the Greens have time to ramp up. We'll see. It depends too on who they nominate and I've yet to get to know any individuals, I've just looked at the lists of goals and philosophies, which look pretty well-rounded.

I hope this helps a little to convince you that I'm not blind to the issues that you see as a concern. I just have different ways of confronting them.
Tom Ubl, I'm not interested in having my set of personal priorities be the topic of conversation. If you wanted to ask me to help you with something, asking in PM is the way. Making a public spectacle of me either agreeing or not is not a friendly act in my book. Please desist. You're welcome to write me off as apathetic if that's the only way you can process the request. I don't think I am, but it seems to suit you to conclude so. I won't be joining forces with you as an individual even if it turns out that, were I to untangle your agenda, there was some overlap in our interests. I'm a busy person and I offer what I have to offer. If that's not good enough for you, move on please.
Gordon, if you can't be bothered to read the article (and I don't mind that you can't), I can't be bothered to work up a really good reply to your impressions you get from such non-reading. All I can say is that if it was a Republican chanting "My country, love it or leave it" I think you'd probably be chanting "rah, rah". But maybe not. Who knows. All I know is that paying taxes is something I'm always proud to do, and that the question of how the government spends it is a seperable question. Of course I question that. And of course you and I differ on that. See my article The Stakes. I consider there are channels one goes through in order to influence what the country pays for and at the end of the day I'm part of the country and I pay for what they ask. I don't consider that the country is something I treat as a commodity I can support economically or not to a greater or lesser degree depending on whether I agree with it politically. I see it as an all or nothing thing—either I'm a citizen or not. It's a country based on process and I engage the process.
"I can't be bothered to work up a really good reply to your impressions"

Clearly, you couldn't and didn't.

This "all or nothing" thing is ridiculous. One of the responsibilities of citizenship is to shout at the polling place and at every available rooftop when the country is on the right track and when it isn't.

Last week's midterm election results were a clarion call for politicians to re-evaluate where taxpayer money is legitimately being spent.

Until then, law abiding citizens will pay their taxes, but will not for a moment forego their right to complain (whine) about where they are being spent.
Gordon, I'm not talking about them whining about where the money is spent. I'm talking about them whining that the cost is too much for them to bear. Often, the discussion of taxes is independent of the question of what is being obtained. Many (perhaps not your circle but most people I know) think it's an extremely good trade to pay higher taxes and get universal health care—a much better bargain than leaving it to markets. But that's not the kind of debate I was trying to raise. The argument I often hear is simply that a certain tax rate, independent of all else, is simply not affordable. Or that the rich couldn't possibly be convinced to invest if it was going to cost that much. But the reason you know they're not really in pain is that right now they're making record profits and still not making jobs. That doesn't count as pain or not affordable. Yet they keep saying if only they had better tax treatment they'd make more jobs. If their priority was first to make more jobs and then they complained they didn't have money left over for themselves, that'd be a different matter. But they're not doing that. I'm saying I'm prepared to sacrifice first (as part of an organized program where everyone does, not as a gift because I have somehow too much money) and to work out the details of how I manage to get by after. And I'm saying if I can figure a way to make that work, so can they.

You show clear signs of intelligence.

Trust me, any party that would run Cynthia McKinney as a presidential candidate is as unworthy as either the Democrats or the Republicans to do your thinking for you.

It's been fun. . .

Gordon, since you're such a stickler, are we supposed to shout AT every available rooftop or FROM every available rooftop? Just wondering because most rooftops don't respond well to being shouted at.
There is no such thing as "your fair share" of taxes.

The Founders knew good and well when they banned non-apportioned, redistributive taxes that is was to prevent class warfare and unbridled growth of the federal government.

The January 1946 issue of American Affairs carried an article by Beardsley Ruml, who at the time was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Ruml devised the system of automatic withholding during World War II, so he was well qualified to speak on the nature and purpose of the federal income tax. His theme was spelled out in the title of his article: "Taxes for Revenue Are Obsolete."

Ruml explained that, since taxes are no longer needed to raise revenue for the government, there are only two purposes remaining. The first of these is to combat increases in the general price level.The other purpose of taxation, according to Ruml, is to redistribute the wealth from one class of citizens to another. This must always be done in the name of social justice or equality, but the real objective is to override the free market and bring society under the control of the master planners.

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

Real patriots don't whine about taxes, they just don't pay them.
Juno, lost in your remarks are the fact that both Government and Business are capable of tyranny, and both make use of the tools of wealth redistribution. Indeed, all business is about exploiting leverage. But in business, money tends to flow to the top and what Government is responsible for doing is making sure that the entire population benefits. The “general welfare” and all that. There may be a point where Government is too big but it's just a fiction that the problem is that right now. That's just the rhetoric. The basic government is not too big. The spending is out of control only because multi-trillion dollar wars have been fought with no plan to pay for it, and the money is now claimed to have to come out of programs that did not contribute to the problem. If we had raised taxes to cover the cost of the wars in a responsible way, either the wars would have been paid for or, more likely, someone would have said “It's going to cost that much? It's not worth it.”
You are right, of course, about both business and government using redistributive methods. Often its special-interests using their influence to buy legislators votes. In the early 19th century supporters of the Whig party pressured states to embark on over-priced and unwise "internal improvements" leading to insolvency of several and the demise of the Whigs.

I would posit that governments should never be granted the authority to engage in acts that the people, individually, find illegal or immoral. The people cannot invent a moral authority that they themselves do not possess. This applies to all aspects of society (e.g., capital punishment and imprisonment).

"The government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." George Bernard Shaw
Juno, your plan to not have government engage in what people find immoral has problems in that we don't all agree on morality. That's why it's tough to get agreement on anything from the NEA to NPR to the Iraq War to abortion to stem cell research. See my article My Slice of the Pie—and its friend My Slice of the Pie (Again). :)

I think it's fair to say that it's necessary that Government must do things that individuals can't do collectively, and yet that if you require every person to get on board, you find that nearly everyone is willing to veto something and nothing would get done. We're a pluralism, and in a pluralism, you get multiple results, not just one. Not necessarily even compatible ones.