Open Thread for Saturday, December 16, 2017


Yes, a weekend Open Thread. To make up for giving you nothing new the last two days:

  1. ‘Chicken Man’s art trailer stolen — You know, some crooks out there don’t respect anything. That goes for the lowlifes who took Ernest Lee’s trailer, for sure…
  2. On their heads be it — Congressional Republicans seem poised to pass, as their signature (let’s face it, their only) accomplishment of 2017, a completely unnecessary tax plan that is only favored by a third of the electorate. Democrats must be hugging themselves at this point, with visions of 2018 dancing in their heads.
  3. How Doug Jones Destroyed Roy Moore’s Whole Shtick with One Well-Chosen Verb — Kind of an interesting piece on the use of words in politics. The most damaging word Jones used in his takedown was “prancing.” Interesting choice of weapon for a Democrat these days.
  4. Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program — The stuff of science fiction movies revealed, at last. Where does the funding come from? “You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”
  5. Palmetto State Armory’s Xmas billboards making a stir again — You know, like the “Silent Night” one showing a semiautomatic pistol with a noise suppressor?




54 thoughts on “Open Thread for Saturday, December 16, 2017

  1. Mr. Smith

    The only standard that unites the Republican Party as a whole now is that set by money and power – with money being the foremost of the two.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Both of you are wrong. Neither party is what I would call united, over much of anything.

        I’m not going to rise to the bait of the “other people’s money.” I’m just going to remind myself that libertarians are going to say things like that, and move on.

        If I were to say something united either party, it would be culture-war issues. But even then, there are exceptions. For instance, the first thing you might be inclined to say Democrats are united on is abortion. But there are some pro-life Democrats — like Bob Casey. And we have some here in South Carolina, too, but they don’t make a thing of it. I’ve noticed some SC Democrats voting with the GOP on abortion-related issues. I keep meaning to write about it, but I never have the time for the legwork. I’d want to interview each of them before a “pro-life” label on a Democrat…

        1. Chuckie

          Still got that abortion bee in your bonnet, I see. Whenever you complain about Democrats, abortion always takes a starring role. It’s obvious you’d like to see it banned. So why don’t you tell us what comes after that, once it becomes clear that abortions are still being performed in spite of the ban – just no longer under safe conditions?

          1. bud

            Chuckle, Brad goes on and on about how he doesn’t want to talk about abortion before he talks about abortion. Bee in the bonnet has it about right.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Perhaps the two of you are clever enough to suggest another issue on which Democrats seen as marching in lockstep. Which is what I was using it for. Which issue would you prefer, that would communicate the same thing? You know, something that won’t set y’all off every time the word is mentioned…

              1. Bob Amundson

                Redistribution of income. However, people are mistaken when they see the redistribution as occurring from rich to poor. In the USA, due to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, it is actually from young to old. Democrats strongly support social programs that redistribute income; Republicans generally oppose them to some degree. Republicans tread carefully on the issue, so as to not infuriate a large portion of their base.

                I’m not taking sides on the issue; I could argue in support of either position.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Someone should educate young people on what a ripoff Social Security is. If you were to put 15% (the combined employer/employee amount) of your income into a SP500 index fund, you’d have a lot more money than you’d ever get out of Social Security. And you could do with it whatever you wanted when you retire rather than be tethered to that monthly government check. And for those people who die at an early age, there would be an actual balance to transfer to heirs. We could make that mandatory percentage 10% and keep the other 5% for the truly needy and the disabled.

                  But, nope, we’ll continue the Ponzi scheme that REQUIRES a certain number of people to pay into the system to support it.

                2. Bart

                  This is in response to Doug and SS. Understand your position and if the electorate as a whole understood and there was a 100% buy-in and everyone would invest the same portion deducted for SS and if the investments panned out, the outcome would be more beneficial.

                  But, that is not the case and never will be. Wise as it may be to put aside money for the future by investing in the SP500 Index, it has never been a priority for the majority. The average working person is not familiar enough with the stock market or other investment opportunities to take advantage of them. Plus if one considers the volatility of the stock market and how it has created long terms of financial downturn, unless one has enough excess or can save enough to purchase stocks, it is another Quixote like tilting at windmills to expect people to invest.

                  Another tendency is to spend what you have and even if most participated, at what level of investment and what expectation of income after retirement would one aim for? What if you retire at 65 and expected to live until you are 80 but make it to 90 and run out of money when you are 82, 83, etc.?

                  The active participants on this blog may be the exception and have set aside for the future other than SS, state retirement, and other business retirement plans but the majority of Americans depend on SS to survive and that will not change any time soon.

                3. Doug Ross

                  Bart.. I would make participation mandatory.. the money could not be touched until age 62. Surely we could find about b five different options for people to choose from.. higher risk up to age 40 then something more stable at age 55.. imagine if everyone has an actual balance they could look at each year to see what was coming when they retired?
                  We need to treat people like adults and not idiots.

                4. Bart

                  We are already in mandatory participation and how is that working out? As for treating people like adults and not idiots, again, how is that working out?

                  People will generally take the route of least resistance and what produces immediate satisfaction. You are among the few who understand and do something about the future.

                  If only……

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I don’t think that inspires quite the same passionate loyalty among Dems. Yep, they passed Obamacare, but the ACA is not universal healthcare.

                  When supporting single-payer becomes a litmus test among Democrats, I’ll believe they’re serious and united.

                  I was looking for something most people believe Democrats are absolutely together on — as a way of introducing my POINT, was that even on that, there are some abstainers…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  But Scout, do you see those as definitive, make-or-break issues that you can’t see a Democrat differing on? They don’t seem so to me.

                  For instance, “science.” That’s a byword for certain secularist Dems who see themselves as the wise ones standing against the blind faith in religious tradition they see on the right. At least, that’s what I think of when someone says “science” without elaboration. It sounds like half of the “faith vs. science” formulation, which is the everlasting replay of the Scopes trial, with Clarence Darrow demolishing William Jennings Bryan.

                  Digression: I’ve never been able to take sides on that, or wanted to. To me, there is no conflict between faith and science….

        2. Mr. Smith

          We can see in the current tax bill the oversized role that money plays in Republican thinking – if thinking is involved at all. While their servile attitude toward Trump demonstrates their worship of power. These are the only two things left in the party’s bag of tricks, the only things holding the party together. Feeding the culture war, by contrast, is merely a tool in service of the struggle to maintain power.

      2. bud

        Whatever issues I have with the GOP it does rise to the level of a “cult”. The Libertarian on the other hand do. This obsession the have with Ayn Rand is really bizarre.

        1. Doug Ross

          Who? Where? When?

          There isn’t any reference to Ayn Rand in any Libertarian material I have ever seen. I just went to the national Libertarian Party website and seached for Ayn. Nothing but names that included “ayn” like “Wayne”. Same for Rand. Just some Rand Paul links.

          For a cult, they sure do a poor job of promoting their obsession with Ayn Rand. But then we all knew that… it’s just the lazy man’s way to try and deflect the basic principles of the Libertarian Party which are:

          We seek to substantially reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and cut and eliminate taxes at every opportunity.
          We believe that peaceful, honest people should be able to offer their goods and services to willing consumers without inappropriate interference from government.
          We believe that peaceful, honest people should decide for themselves how to live their lives, without fear of criminal or civil penalties.
          We believe that government’s only responsibility, if any, should be protecting people from force and fraud.

          Yeah, that all sounds horrific… Much worse than the government we have now which is solely the result of Democrat and Republican politicians.

  2. Larry Slaughter

    Yeah, there’s some funny stuff in this bill. I’ve gotten through about half of it. Wait til locals find they can’t deduct any of their Gamecock Club contributions as charity anymore. Or home equity loan interest. Or employee business expenses. Or alimony!

    1. Richard

      I’m good with that. Is the Gamecock Club a non-profit organization? Now the government needs to go after churches and universities, building megachurchs and buying the minister $5000 suits and provide him with a McMansion and Mercedes isn’t providing for the needy.

    2. Doug Ross

      There should’t be any deductions for an individual – except perhaps medical expenses above a threshold. The tax code should be agnostic and not used to influence charitable giving, owning homes, or even having children. It should be an INCOME tax with just a couple brackets.

        1. Richard

          I don’t see how anyone could say to someone, “I’m glad you’re successful… the government is going to take half of all your earnings” and expect someone to be satisfied about it. Meanwhile, the person across town who works an unskilled job only sees 8% of his income handed over to the government.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Surely you don’t think for a moment that anyone wouldn’t prefer to be the first guy.

            The guy who makes a million and takes home $500,000 is vastly better off than the guy who keeps 92% of $10,000. It’s ridiculous even to compare them. The second guy would give almost anything to be the first guy.

            So I don’t follow your point.

            1. Doug Ross

              You assume that the other person could do the same job and has the motivation to achieve it.

              A person makes minimum wage as an adult for a reason.

              1. Scout

                Brad can speak for himself, but I didn’t get from his message that he assumed anything about the qualifications, skills, or motivations of the two hypothetical workers.

                We know you think everybody that is poor deserves it as it is due to some fault of their own and has nothing to do with the situation or opportunities they are born into. That is of course debatable, but also beside the point.

                I got the point to be that the worker earning more and taxed at 50% has no reason to resent the minimum wage worker who is taxed less.

                1. Doug Ross

                  What does “the second guy would give almost anything to be the first guy” mean?

                  I would give almost anything to be Tom Brady. That doesn’t mean it can happen.

                  If a person drops out of high school, what is the likelihood that he will ever reach a high tax bracket? Choices have consequences.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Here we go….

                    So you think poverty is a choice?

                    Think about the contradiction in what you just said.

                    First, you bring up Tom Brady, which is an acknowledgment that there are forces beyond people’s control. You can’t be Tom Brady. Your failure to be Tom Brady is NOT a result of “choices” (“choice” being one of the most obnoxious words in our political language, used to prettify such otherwise hard-to-sell ideas as abortion and defunding public schools) you have made. Nothing you could do, or could have done in the past, would make you Tom Brady (who I believe is a football player — right?).

                    As you said, no matter how you wish it, “That doesn’t mean it can happen.” Give anything you’ve got, it won’t happen.

                    Then, you jump entirely to the other end of the argument spectrum — saying that guy struggling to get by on 10k has only himself to blame, because he has made bad “choices.”

                    You do see that you just said two diametrically opposed things, right?

                2. Doug Ross

                  The point is talent and initiative separate us all. That there are some people who escape poverty proves it. Not luck. Effort, attitude, and aptitude will have a large role in where you end up.

                  I don’t possess Tom Brady’s talent nor the level of discipline he has to work at his craft every single day, even at age 40. He is an elite athlete — but not as athletic as Michael Vick (who went bankrupt both financially and morally). Choices matter in the long run. Having the desire to improve oneself matters.

                  I could list any number of people who have risen from nothing to great success. It isn’t luck. And when I see those people making a lot more money than me, I don’t say “I wish I could be him/her”. All I can control is my own success. I could have certainly ended up working as a computer operator making $8 an hour if I hadn’t put in any effort in after age 17…

                  A person chooses a path that leads to poverty when they drop out of school, have children at an early age that they can’t support, have a poor work ethic… in those cases, poverty is certainly a choice. Those people should get on their knees every day and thank God there are people out there who do work hard, earn lots of money, and pay the taxes that give them much of what they get.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    “I could have certainly ended up working as a computer operator making $8 an hour if I hadn’t put in any effort in after age 17…”

                    Yes, and you could have worked really hard and gone into business for yourself and failed completely and been penniless right now. Because you don’t control whether your skills and hard work are marketable, or whether prospective client like your face, or any of a thousand and more factors that are utterly beyond your control.

                    You probably won’t succeed if you don’t try (you’re right about that). But trying is most definitely not a guarantee that you’ll succeed. And it just doesn’t make sense to assert otherwise.

                    You know that YOU have been successfully working hard, so it is obvious to you that everyone can do the same. But they can’t. Sometimes they’ll succeed, and sometimes they won’t. That’s life…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Bottom line, neither extreme is right.

                      People who believe it’s all luck have it wrong. People who think anyone can succeed with the right attitude and hard work are just as wrong.

                      It’s way complicated…

                3. bud

                  People who believe it’s all luck have it wrong.

                  For some it really is ALL luck. The Walton family proves that. Donald Trump has been exceptionally lucky throughout his life. For others, Marcus Lattimore, bad luck has dramatically altered his trajectory. Marcus will be fine but he won’t be fantastically wealthy the way he would have without that terrible injury. To be sure hard work and talent are important. But just plane ole luck is the most important factor in wealth accumulation.

                  As an aside, wealth accumulation is very different from success. The Ayn Rand crowd equates the two but they are not the same thing. By all accounts Jonas Salk is far, far more successful than Donald Trump. Yet who has/had greater financial wealth?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    My plan is to get Bud and Doug both totally wound up on this, and just as they’re about to pounce on me from both sides, I’ll duck, and then the rest of us can make bets on how it will come out.

                    Oh, wait — did I just say that out loud? 🙂

                4. bud

                  Thing is I’ve always recognized hard work and choices matter. But to say luck doesn’t play ANY roll is ridiculous.

                5. Doug Ross

                  “Because you don’t control whether your skills and hard work are marketable, or whether prospective client like your face, or any of a thousand and more factors that are utterly beyond your control.”

                  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It’s how you respond to the challenges that determines your success in the long run. Nobody has success after success. I certainly haven’t. But I have always had a plan and a response to events when they happen. I moved to new jobs BEFORE I was going to get laid off with one company. I moved from another job and took a pay cut because I didn’t see myself being happy in that job for another 15 years. I am CONSTANTLY spending my spare time learning new things in my area of technology so that my skills remain relevant. I put the time in and it pays off. And that’s typically the case for most successful people.

                  Tom Brady is a perfect example. He wasn’t even the full time starter for his college team, Michigan. Drafted in the 6th round. Got a break when the starting QB for the Patriots got hurt and then executed at a high level to keep the job ever since. He’s had challenges – physical injuries that cost him a season. So what does he do now at age 40 and on his way to an MVP season? He invests in himself — with a focus on nutrition and fitness regimen,. Lebron James is the same way — it is rumored that he spends a couple million dollars a year on maintaining his health – something so many other NBA athletes neglected to do. There are too many cases of ex-NBA players who used their athletic ability to earn tens of millions of dollars and blew it all. Which part was lucky? Earning it or losing it?

                6. Doug Ross

                  bud – what’s the difference between Marcus Lattimore and Demetrius Summers today?

                  Marcus is already successful – and that doesn’t mean he has to be a millionaire. He could have easily responded to his injuries by wallowing in self-pity. He didn’t. He responded to the adversity in a way that more people should emulate. Bad luck is temporary. Success is measured over a lifetime.

              2. Richard

                “My plan is to get Bud and Doug both totally wound up on this, and just as they’re about to pounce on me from both sides, I’ll duck, and then the rest of us can make bets on how it will come out.”

                Stop watching Three Stooges reruns… or make it interesting and get a Moe haircut.

  3. Scout

    Right, so, tell me where the choice is in this scenario:

    Kid is born into poverty. Kid learns to speak a non-standard English dialect, because you know that is what is spoken around him by his family and community, and that’s how the human brains work. In addition, kid develops a significant gap in vocabulary compared to middle class kids due to the difference in the amount and type of speech they hear in poverty households versus middle class and higher households. (cos when you are working three jobs you are not reading books to your kid at night, for example, among other things). Kid enters school and works hard and tries their best but does not have the language foundation to master rigorous standards that expect proficiency in the standard dialect and familiarity with academic vocabulary. Kid tries hard but falls behind in reading, which affects all subjects. The gap grows, kid falls farther behind every year. Kid struggles academically all through school. Maybe they drop out because of frustration and other factors dealing with poverty (go ahead and blame them). Maybe they stick it out but may or may not get a diploma despite attending 12 or more years, if they can’t pass the exit exam. Guess what kind of job they can get. Where was their bad choice?

    Or another scenario. Kid is born with a mental disability – stays in school, works hard, works up to their potential – gets a minimum wage job. Where is their bad choice, since “A person makes minimum wage as an adult for a reason.” and “choices have consequences”.

    If you don’t believe that language can have this kind of impact, here are some references for you:

    So what can we do about the word gap – hmmm, maybe early childhood education. Oh wait, that’s just babysitting. I forgot.

    How many of the very few that rise above their circumstances that you hold as paragons of all that is possible experience situational poverty versus generational poverty. That also makes a difference.

    1. Doug Ross

      Please…. I wasn’t talking about people with disabilities.

      The solution to the other anecdote you presented is to not have kids when you are poor. As long as we treat the symptom instead of the cause, it will be a never ending cycle. The leading causes of poverty are: having kids when you can’t care for them, dropping out of high school, and not having a two parent home.

      We will know in about 8-10 years whether that one extra year of schooling results in a significant change in the outcomes for children born into poverty, won’t we? If we don’t see a marked improvement in the high school graduation rate, then what did it accomplish? A dropout is just another member of the poverty cycle. We need to address the perpetual supply of unprepared, uncared for children as the highest priority.

      1. Scout

        “Please…. I wasn’t talking about people with disabilities.”

        And yet you included them in your blanket statement implying that any adult who makes minimum wage has made bad choices in their life and this is their consequence.

        It is not that simple. It is possible to make the best choices available to you given your circumstances and only be able to end up at a minimum wage job.

        We won’t know in 8-10 years if the 4k program has made a difference because the number of kids currently getting a year of extra schooling is a drop in the bucket of the need that exists. The program is not serving near the number of poverty children that exist in our state. 4k is not universal. Schools are obligated to have at least one class to serve eligible students, but 4k is not mandatory – parents of poor students still have to take the initiative to register and many don’t. If somehow they all did register, we would not have near enough classes to serve them – they would go on waiting lists. Hopefully in the event waiting lists showed a clear need, more classes would be added. But I don’t know – with budget issues and supreme court rulings that downplay the need, they might just stay on the waiting list. Right now, as long as registration is not mandatory, we are not meeting the need. At my school which has around 90% that qualify for free/reduced lunch, anecdotally, based on the amount of poverty preschoolers served in 4k compared to the amount that come to school for the first time in 5k, we are reaching about 50%.

        So, no I don’t think data in 8-10 years will tell us that much if we are only reaching about 50% of the kids living in poverty with any kind of beginning of an attempt at early childhood education. It’s better than nothing and it’s better than it was, but it is not enough yet to make the difference that you want to see.

        If you read the articles I posted, it is clear though that we need to do more to improve language enrichment starting prior to 4k. We need to do more with parent training and intervening in standard practices in the home to improve early language skills. Getting it into the home is what will break the cycle.

        I am most amazed by your attitude that “The solution to the other anecdote you presented is to not have kids when you are poor. ”

        Really? Simply stopping having children will change the language habits of adults? Because the problem I described stems from the amount and type of language exposure young children get which is directly related to the language habits of adults around them.

        You continue to have no solutions for helping poor children once they are already here, correct?

        “As long as we treat the symptom instead of the cause, it will be a never ending cycle.”
        Why can’t we do both?

        “The leading causes of poverty are: having kids when you can’t care for them, dropping out of high school, and not having a two parent home.”

        Do you have any references or citations to support these assertions? I’m trying to imagine all the children magically disappearing from the picture. I still see a lot of unskilled people living in rural places with not a lot of job opportunities.

        1. Doug Ross

          You need to slow down on trying to parse every sentence I write. Maybe that’s the downside of being a language person. I never implied anything related to disabled people — but you know that. It’s a red herring to try and present me as uncaring.

          If you cut the supply on children who are brought into homes that can’t support them, you can allocate the existing resources to fewer students. That’s how I answer your question of how we can do both. That would be a good thing all around. I believe it is better for society in general to have fewer poor babies than to have to establish programs to deal with them for the next 18 or more years. But that means providing incentives (financial, educational, support) to young women to convince them to delay having kids until their lives are more stable… I know, that’s a terrible goal.

          “parents of poor students still have to take the initiative to register and many don’t.”

          How do you plan to FIX that? Initiative injections?

          We could quadruple the spending on these programs and it won’t make a measurable difference if the homes the kids live in don’t support them.

          “Do you have any references or citations to support these assertions?”

          Yes. Besides being intuitively obvious, how about this:

          29% for dropouts vs 14% for high school graduates. Thus, the bad decision to drop out of high school doubles the chance of ending up in poverty.

          Now, single parent stats:

          Single mothers are much more likely to be poor than married couples. The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2016 was 35.6%, nearly five times more than the rate (6.6%) for married-couple families.16

          Among children living with mother only, 40% lived in poverty. In contrast, only 12% of children in two parent families were counted as poor.

          So take those two groups – single mothers who are dropouts and you’re establishing a path to poverty that is difficult to overcome no matter how much money you throw at the problem.

          I’d rather see resources expended on delaying births and completing high school than dealing with the consequences of bad decisions for years. But that’s considered too harsh.

  4. Harry Harris

    You guys gotta understand that many in this country won’t be satisfied until our society and economy mirrors the third world – and we’re headed there. There’s no sense of community, no mutual obligation other than scraps thrown to the “deserving poor'” and some steps up offered to those offering fealty to the powerful.
    The whole tax level argument ignores the true nature of our system and ignores the amounts of income not taxed or taxed at very low rates, mostly from investments or “unrealized” capital gains. Lower rates for sold asset gains, most of top earners’ income off the books for social security, huge benefits and perks not taxed, income shifted to stock options, all ignored with a promise that “your wages will increase because we will put our money to work.” Big lie. Poor and moderate income paying FICA on every dollar and sales taxes that keep climbing.
    Corporate board members getting huge pay for part-time “work” schmoozing with execs whose pay they supposedly oversee but never hold accountable.
    It doesn’t trickle down.

  5. Doug Ross

    “It doesn’t trickle down”

    Where does it go then? When a rich guy buys a $80K BMW, does that 80K disappear into thin air? When a rich woman buys a $500 handbag, does the money evaporate? When a rich family buys a beach house and pours money into the local economy does that money not end up in someone else’s pocket?

    The guy making $40K a year working as a service tech at a BMW dealer is probably very happy there are people with the money to buy the car. The entrepreneur who runs a high end women’s handbag store probably is happy there are people willing to purchase her goods — as are the people who are employed in the store. The guy who runs a restaurant in the Hamptons and can expect a rich family to come in and spend $500 on a meal without blinking is probably happy those rich people exist – as is the server who gets a nice $100 tip for a few minutes work taking orders and putting out plates.

    I’m not sure what kind of world the income equality people want… apparently its one with only Kia Souls, Chilis, and Wrangler jeans. Everyone should aspire for mediocrity, I suppose.

    Instead of trying to figure out how to take money from rich people, why not focus on trying to improve your skills to attain the same things you despise others for owning?

    1. Harry Harris

      Since the “supply-side” tax cuts have been tried under Reagan and Bush 2, wealth gaps have sky-rocketed. Where does it go? The bulk of it has been invested, hidden offshore, and not spent on goods and services. Of course, there’s a ripple through the economy when money is borrowed to pay for a tax cut. Demand is increased somewhat. The top tier, however buys stock and bonds with it. They don’t start companies; they buy companies. Corporations merge (usually buying smaller competitors or promising technologies or entrances to customer bases. (Look at Apple). Top executives get big bonuses and raises. Reagan boosted a sagging economy based on borrowing – government and private. Bush ruined a good economy with tax cuts, war spending, and debt – public and private, and that one busted. The whole time, wealth gaps increased.
      Your thinking in this post has a few shaky assumptions. The percent of income spent on goods and services by high income folks is much smaller than you seem to think. People who decry income inequality often don’t do so out of envy, but a sense of economic design based on experience and history. The assumption that envy or greed should be the main driver for self-improvement is exactly the thinking we need to move away from. I, personally, don’t want or need to improve my skills based on a desire to get anything. I’m retired, relatively skillful, and quite well-off. I have as much as I need and more than I want. I’m well invested, and stand to gain from corporate tax cuts. I do lack a sense of well-being for our economy, and for those who I know who struggle somewhat in an economy where housing prices, rent, and fuel are bid-up to the point that their efforts at earning leave them little to save or invest.

      1. Doug Ross

        “The bulk of it has been invested, hidden offshore, and not spent on goods and services.”

        And what happens to money that is invested? Does it just sit in a bank earning 0.00000001% interest? Take a look at the world’s richest people — Jeff Bezos bought the Washigton Post — keeping a ton of people employed. Bill Gates is spending his billions on charitable work around the globe. Steve Ballmer took his Microsoft money and bought an NFL team and an NBA team — creating thousands of jobs. Rich people buy homes and cars that require paying millions and millions of property taxes that pay for schools, roads, fire & police. Last year alone, Trump paid more than a million dollars in property taxes on Mar-A-Lago. He paid another quarter million in taxes on his apartment in Trump Tower What do you think all his other properties he owns contribute?

        That’s why it’s lazy class warfare to focus on income tax rates that move a few percent. The overall amount of taxes the rich contribute dwarf what the rest of us pay.

  6. Harry Harris

    Buying an NBA or NFL team doesn’t create jobs. Starting one will. Buying stock doesn’t create jobs, it bids stock prices up, often beyond sensible PE ratios. A whole lot of the money in mega-wealthy hands since the mid-80’s is in Treasuries – low interest, but safe. A bunch more is in tax-free municipal bonds (a personal favorite of mine). Warren Buffett pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary as he tells it. Mitt Romney’s federal tax rate in 2010 was 13.9 % on about $20Mil of adjusted gross income. Almost all was exempt from FICA and Medicare at that time). Buffett and a lot of mega-rich people say they are under-taxed – and he’s giving his away in big chunks, but still can’t winnow it down much.
    Lazy class warfare likely doesn’t work nearly as well as aggressive class warfare that includes deep-pocket campaign contributions, gerrymandering, deceptively-marketed tax bills, and scheming to undermine most government programs that benefit vulnerable people. We lazy warriors need to think about that one.

    1. Doug Ross

      A point by point takedown:

      “Buying an NBA or NFL team doesn’t create jobs. Starting one will.”

      It certainly does when the new owner (Ballmer) invests more in the business to expand all of its operations than the previous owner (Sterling – a cheap slumlord) did.

      > Buying stock doesn’t create jobs, it bids stock prices up, often beyond sensible PE ratios.

      Seriously? You think Warren Buffett buys stocks just to drive the price up? Why then would he be selective about which companies he invests in? He could just bid up any stock, right? Companies need capital to expand operations. Where do you think that money comes from?

      >A whole lot of the money in mega-wealthy hands since the mid-80’s is in Treasuries – low interest, but >safe.

      is that a problem for the United States? What if the rich decided to sell them? Good for the economy or not? Are they not investing in the future of the country?

      >A bunch more is in tax-free municipal bonds (a personal favorite of mine).

      And what, pray tell, are those municipal bonds used for? Anything that might be related to creating jobs for other people?

      >Warren Buffett pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary as he tells it. Mitt Romney’s federal tax >rate in 2010 was 13.9 % on about $20Mil of adjusted gross income.

      So what? Which is better for the country? A secretary paying 20% on 20K AGI or Buffett paying millions on his income? Keep in mind that a large percentage of American adults pay ZERO income tax.

      >Almost all was exempt from FICA and Medicare at that time).

      As it should be – unless you think FICA and Medicare are charities. FICA is supposed to be put money in, get money out, right? If you want to cap the benefits, you are basically just saying you want to take money from someone who has it to give to someone who doesn’t. How charitable of you!

      >Buffett and a lot of mega-rich people say they are under-taxed – and he’s giving his away in big chunks, >but still can’t winnow it down much.

      They can always write a check to the Federal Government if they feel they need to pay more. I suppose Warren understands that money given to the government has a inefficiency, waste, and fraud “tax” applied to it so he’d rather control where it goes.

      I’d love to hear what your vision of income equality is. Higher taxes solves everything I suppose.

      1. bud

        Counter points

        By a sports team certainly doesn’t create jobs. What does is the product on the court. Buying a team is nothing more than a transfer payment from one rich person to another.

        Yes seriously, buying stock does NOT create jobs. What creates jobs is buying stuff not paper. High P/Es will come back to create real problems at some point.

        So what? Which is better for the country? A secretary paying 20% on 20K AGI or Buffett paying millions on his income? Keep in mind that a large percentage of American adults pay ZERO income tax.

        Seriously Doug? This is just ridiculously obvious. This situation is nothing more than a gigantic transfer payment from the less well off to the very well off. And they don’t buy stuff. Buying STUFF, not paper is what drives the economy.

        >Almost all was exempt from FICA and Medicare at that time).
        Terrible inequity. All income should be subject to FICA. That way the rates could be lowered. And more income in the hands of people that buy stuff will drive the economy. (See a theme here)

        They can always write a check to the Federal Government if they feel they need to pay more.
        This is just a non sequitur. You could have just as easily said the sky is blue.

        1. Doug Ross

          Still waiting to see you start that Subway you claimed was so easy to run and generate profits. Now how exactly would you get the money to start your business?

          I’m sorry if you don’t understand how stocks work. Apparently the stock fairy drops them out of the sky and businesses just spring up from the ground magically creating “stuff”. Companies don’t grow.. they just exist. Amazon has always been a multi-billion dollar company.. it had nothing to do with acquiring capital to fund the creation of an international distribution system.

          K Mart sells “stuff”. Sears sells “stuff”. Why don’t you invest your money in them? All they have to do is keep selling stuff and you’re destined for the Forbes 500.

  7. Doug Ross

    Meanwhile, AT&T has announced that with the signing of the tax cut, they are giving $1000 to 200,000 union employees. And planning to invest a billion more in capital expenditures.

    Anyone who thinks they know exactly what will happen with the economy as a result of the tax cuts is kidding himself. Let’s wait and see first, eh?

    1. Doug Ross

      “Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati, Ohio, will pay more than 13,500 employees a bonus and raise the minimum wage for its workforce to $15 after the passage of the GOP tax plan that will cut the bank’s corporate tax rate.”


      “The Boeing Co. is moving ahead on $300 million in charitable contributions and workplace investments as a response to the tax bill approved by Congress today.he commitments were laid out in an announcement from Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s chairman, president and CEO. They’re well-timed to demonstrate how the bill’s cut in the corporate tax rate could encourage businesses to open their wallets wider.

      Boeing said the $300 million includes:

      $100 million for corporate giving, with funds used to support demand for employee gift-match programs and for investments in Boeing’s focus areas for charitable giving: in education, in community development, and for veterans and military personnel.
      $100 million for workforce development in the form of training, education and other capabilities development to meet the scale needed for rapidly evolving technologies and expanding markets.
      $100 million for “workplace of the future” facilities and infrastructure enhancements for Boeing employees.

      I’m going to enjoy hearing how these developments aren’t good news for regular Americans. But I’m sure there will be plenty of backlash from those who don’t have jobs and aren’t getting a bonus. “What about me?” is the motto of the Democratic Party.

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