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challenge for Liberals?(68 posts)

challenge for Liberals?DougSloan
May 17, 2003 7:32 PM
1. No one responded a few weeks ago when I asked if anyone for higher taxes ever voluntarily paid more than the minimum required. Seems to me that if you really wanted higher taxes you'd be the first to buck up (especially you wealthier ones). Ever even hear of someone doing this? No one?

2. No Liberals, unless I missed it, offered any definition or their view on freedom. A few took shots at what some of us rightists offered, but nothing otherwise.

No takers?

Doug
re: challenge for Liberals?Jon Billheimer
May 17, 2003 7:59 PM
Doug,

I pretty much agreed with your utilitarian definition of freedom. In real life, however, we voluntarily (at least theoretically in a democracy) relinquish degrees of freedom in the interests of safety and security or opt for the greatest good for the greatest number. Since different people have different safety or security thresholds, however, everyone's individual calculus is going to be somewhat different.
YawwnSpoiler
May 18, 2003 12:25 AM
1. That proves it. If you're a liberal and oppose a tax cut, but don't volunteer to pay higher taxes, you're a hypocrite and should refrain from commenting on the issue.

2. That proves it. Liberals have no definition of freedom to offer. They're just not in favor of freedom. Or, if they do, they're too yellow or ignorant to put it into words.

next subject
If I can play devil's advocate....jesse1
May 18, 2003 4:02 AM
...I'm not a liberal, but others have told me I sometimes look like one. But if I WAS a liberal, I'd say my sense of freedom would come in knowing that however bad I screw up, and don't even contribute to the tax base, there's always a govt program that will pay me a salary for not working, eliminate my girlfriend's pregnancy, pay for my heating fuel oil, support my obscene artwork, and hopefully in the future (just like in some other countries), give me free drugs!
I'd probably be pretty happy knowing that my party of choice can get away with making perversely decietful remarks and get away with it as well.
maybe they are all out helping people?dr hoo
May 18, 2003 5:30 AM
1: liberals are not necessarily for higher taxes, rather they are for more PROGRESSIVE taxes. So, a liberal could be for raising taxes on the wealthy, and lowering taxes on the poor, and keeping taxes on the middle class where they are. No inconsistancy there.

The basic logic of a progressive tax is that the working poor have to pay a huge percentage of their income just to live. Rent, food, clothing, etc. Paying 30-40% of income on rent is not uncommon for the poor, but the rich? No way. Thus a flat tax is much harder on the working poor than the wealthy in terms of effects on their lives.

BTW, if you want to engage in a tax debate, you should look at the total tax burden, not simply income tax. Throw in sales tax, payroll tax (FICA), dividend tax, gas tax, etc. When you do that, the president's tax plan looks a bit different.

Also, do you plan to give back your medicare and social security benefits after you retire? It will take you only a couple of years to get more than you paid in you know. If you are really for smaller government and individual responsibility, isn't it inconsistent to belly up to the trough and demand the government take care of you when you get the chance?

2-the classical (american) liberal point of view on freedom is that people should be able to develop to the best of their abilities. This is a very individualistic perspective, and one that sometimes gets lost in the demonizing of our "enemies". Democratic liberals tend to see a great deal of external constraints on individuals developing their skills and abilities, and seek policy to eliminate the detrimental effects on those constraints. A child born into poverty, for example, cannot be said to deserve it. Should that child be doomed to disadvantage because of accident of birth? Or should that child be given a fair chance to become a doctor, engineer, or janitor?

So programs like welfare (which focuses on children and their caregivers, and is actually title IV of the social security act of 1934, iirc) are intended to allow those children to do their best by giving them prenatal care, enough food so their brains develop properly, and a stable place to live so they can go to school.

The idea is that if a large chunk of our population is undernourished, and goes to schools with 20 year old textbooks, etc, then the "american dream" of a meritocracy is pure bs. Can you be free when your fellow citizen is in chains?

-------rant starts

That being said, I would like to say this about this page. You people tend to display the worst of tv commentary rhetoric. You seem to take joy in insulting those with different views, and not trying to understand them.

Consider that most people are people of good will. Are the democrats in texas who walked out traitors? What were their reasons for walking out? You might think they are cowards, or that they stopped an unfair white house led power grab, but do you think they were doing what they thought right? Do you understand their reasons, even if you don't agree with them?

Did you see the texas republicans had a deck of cards, ala' the iraqi deck? What was the purpose of that? What is gained by not engaging the ideas of the opposition, but rather by painting them with the brush of evil? Tyrants have done that throughout history. The goal is not discussion and debate, with stronger ideas winning out, but rather to win at all costs.

Am I for the president's tax cut? Nope. But it is the nature of that cut that bothers me. I would rather see low/middle income tax cuts NOW to stimulate spending this year, and tax cuts to businesses in the form of more rapid capital depreciation (a democratic proposal from a few months ago, believe it or not) to stimulate capital expenditures. I believe that money spent on capital (the MEANS OF PRODUCTION) is a good thing! So i want to put money in the hands of people living paycheck to paycheck, AND the
part 2 (did i say this was long?)dr hoo
May 18, 2003 5:32 AM
So i want to put money in the hands of people living paycheck to paycheck, AND the capitalist class. Am I liberal or conservative? Like most people, i hold a mix of ideas.

I think government does a lot of good things. The REASON for this is that government is people. Our friends and neighbors. The post office sucks! But mail in the USA is cheaper than anywhere else in the world, and delivers to every address 6 days a week. Our public schools are a mess! But MOST public schools do a very good job, and we have public universities that attract students from all over the world. We have government built roads that are wonderful, sewage systems and electrical systems that are the best in the world, a series of national parks that are a model for the world. Government does LOTS of good things that would not otherwise get done. From local city council meetings to the highest level of government, things get done that make people safer and the economy more productive. And those that do the work are my friends and neighbors, not my enemy. Those that cycle are too. People who ride bikes are better than people who don't. Clearly!

I leave you with this:

There was a study done where average people of all ages were asked their opinion on various issues such as "the crime problem" or "the education problem". They were asked about the cause of the problem, and potential solutions to the problem.

100% had an opinion. Imagine that!

Then people were asked to provide some evidence, an argument, to support their opinion.

50% could not come up with anything other than "that's just the way it is" or "god made it that way" or some variation.

So, 50% of people can provide some evidence for their position. But of those 50%, when asked to come up with an argument AGAINST their position, 1/2 could not.

So, 25% of people could come up with a position, some evidence for and against that position. Not necessarily GOOD evidence, but any evidence.

That means 75% of people don't have the tools of basic thought and debate.

Try to be in the 25%. Try to demonstrate that you are.

-------rant ends

dr. (hard core libertarian in theory, pragmatist in practice) hoo
part 2 (did i say this was long?)BikeViking
May 19, 2003 6:18 AM
Man...I don't know where to begin!!!

Can this be condensed down to one point that interests you the most and I'll respond to it.

Thanks,

Scott
If you allow someone else to define your positionSpoke Wrench
May 18, 2003 5:55 AM
you're always going to look a little silly.

Rush Limbaugh defines conservatism as people prospering or not on their own efforts, and liberalism as rules which give prople who can't prosper on their own a leg up. I think that's a fair definition.

Historically, it looks to me like countries that have gone too far to either extreme haven't done very well in the long run.

Iraq is a good example of a country that is blessed with easy to get at natural resuorces that have benefitted only a few. In other words, the conservative extreme. What should be a rich country doesn't have any of the characteristics that I look upon as earmarks of a great society.

The failed communist countries are obvious examples of the liberal extreme. Absent competitive rewards, their individual productivity faltered.

Now I'm not smart enough to claim that I know where the balance lies. Where is the line between hard heartedness and being a patsy? I do know that I don't want to live in a country that has high unemployment, a high infant mortality rate and lots of homeless beggers in the streets. I cherish the freedom of not having to confront those issues daily.
Doug, Why are you so hung up on the......cycleaddict
May 18, 2003 3:53 PM
subject of taxes? Perhaps you make too much money. Those of us just barely getting by, living paycheck to paycheck, working like dogs just to eke out a living, don't pay much tax and consider folks like you to be lucky--lucky to live in the USA where one can get ahead. The truly wealthy members of our society don't, IMHO, begin to pay their fair share.
I'm not wealthy by any stretch, but...rwbadley
May 18, 2003 7:17 PM
I feel rich beyond measure. We are indeed lucky here.

A small example: Nearby we have a dept store called Gottschalkes. I stopped in yesterday looking for bargains. I tend not to buy clothes until I really have to. So I'm in this store and find the 'markdown' area. If you can recognize quality you can do well here. So I end up getting some stuff, I go home and am looking over the 'booty'.

For $78 I came away with three pairs of nice khakis, a quality bathrobe, swimming trunks, a pair of khaki shorts, a nice shirt and a good winter vest. Retail on all this was over $300.

So I'm looking at this stuff, and the thought comes to mind that for the equivalent of a few hours of my easy working wage, I scammed stuff that the poor folks that made these items (in some third world country) could probably not even afford to buy! They are indeed working just to put food in their mouths.

We went to a local Chinese food buffet and stuffed ourselves like pigs on great food. We did not have to pay a days wage to do so. I felt like a King sitting there with family, we were all fat and happy.

A better example may be this: If I have clean water to drink that doesn't make me and my family sick; If I have a bellyful of food every day and am not malnourished; If I have family and friends to share good times, and to ask for help in times of need; If I'm not living in fear (for whatever reason) and am in good health; Then, I am doing better than 90% of the earth's population of the last few hundred years... And am indeed very fortunate.

Having a decent place to live, a bike (or two) to ride, a car to drive, TV to watch, a computer to chat with folks around the world, etc, is icing on the cake, and it would appear the icing is pretty thick for all of us ;-)

RW
RW that is certainly a nice post and ...Live Steam
May 18, 2003 7:53 PM
the way we should all look at our lives, especially when put into the perspective you did here, and I imagine many of us do upon reflection. However, I think that many of us also look at how easily it can all change. I think many people see certain signs - liberties that were once taken for granted, are slowly being eroded away and the government is becoming less and less responsible with the trust we have placed in them. We pay for their indiscretions and mistakes in tax dollars.

They pander to their electorate with our money. I am charitable, but I don't need or want the federal/local government to also be charitable with my money, especially when it may end up being frivolously wasted on failing programs. They are very good at tossing good money after bad and I would appreciate them being more thrifty and responsible with it. There are so many areas of duplicated services and wasteful practices.

Most of us tighten our belts when we come across a short fall. The fed and local government just raise taxes. This is an inflationary practice and not good for the economy. I live on an island. I need to take a bridge to go anywhere. The tolls on the bridges were supposed to be dropped once the bonds were repaid. Well guess what? The tolls have risen to amazing proportions. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll is $7 with a proposed increase of 20% - 30%. Why? Because there is probably a shortfall somewhere and the toll is the easiest way to make up for it.

The members of the House and Senate have to stop looking at our pockets to fund pork barrel programs to help them keep their seats. The whole structure of how and why the government spend money need to be reworked.
You're right, and I'd add...jesse1
May 19, 2003 2:29 AM
...don't forget it's these same politicians (from BOTH parties) that don't hesitate to vote themselves pretty generous salaries, as well as benifits (for life).
But what can we do? Voting them out of office will just replace them with the same. It would probably take another "Boston Tea Party" incident - nationwide - to bring about change. I don't see that happening unless the media could cooperate somehow.
As far as your bridge toll, the obvious solution to that would be that residents should have some kind of discount, or no toll at all, with visitors/tourists picking up the tab.
You're right, and I'd add...Live Steam
May 19, 2003 4:58 AM
Residents do get a discount, but obviously we pay more after each increase at the four different bridge crossings.

A friend, who is rather frugal, purchased a cell phone plan for his mother to use for emergencies. It is a basic plan, costing $10.95 plus taxes and surcharges. He pays $22 for that phone. He was in shock. I guess he never looks at the surcharges and taxes on his other bills, because they all have similar line items. These are almost hidden taxes that the government imposes through decree. Many of them are surcharges added in by different quasi-governmental agencies such as FCC, MTA and TBTA (the last two are specific to NY/NJ area), but there are others that are imposed nationally.

Where do they stop? That is all I want to know! We are exorbitantly taxed on our after tax dollars. This should not be allowed, especially in states that have state income taxes. This is double taxation and is supposed to be unconstitutional.
Its usually the republicans behind hidden taxesfiltersweep
May 19, 2003 7:20 AM
here in MN where we are facing a multi-billion dollar deficit and have a rep gov who was recently elected and who pledged NOT to raise taxes... anyway, he just "got his way" and a budget passed that does "not raise taxes"- however it cuts all sorts of services. State tuition is increasing, cigarette taxes are increasing, and property taxes will definitely increase to offset state money that made it to the local level. Raising tutition IS a tax... if you are a student.

Live steam is sounding more like a socialist than ever with his "double taxation" rant. He should move to a socialist democracy like in northern europe where you are taxed once (albeit progressively) and there are no hidden taxes to speak of.

I don't mind taxes that much- I like nice things- a nice bike, car, house, and community... and someone has to pay for it.
Rant? Yeah, I guess so :O)Live Steam
May 19, 2003 9:50 AM
Socialist? How did you arrive at that? What about not paying exorbitant taxes is socialistic? I am tired of the government making themselves my partner in every venture I take the risk of entering. Who or what entitled them to that?

I opened a Laundromat in a building I owned. The water/sewer bill I received each month would make your hair stand on end. It increased by more than 33% on a unit cost basis, over the six years I had the store, and was projected to go higher. The energy bills for gas and electric service were high, but the taxes and surcharges were getting out of control. I sold the business when I sold the building.

High taxes on tobacco products came from the Clinton Administration's attack on the industry. It is part of the penalty that was imposed on the tobacco industry as a result of losing the court battle. States can implement the tax as they see fit.

Tuition is not a tax. It is elective. If one qualifies, they can receive financial aid. If not they pay like everyone else does. Obviously if costs are increasing for us they must be increasing for the local university too.

I would like to know why we should have to pay a tax to use money we already paid taxes on. I like and have nice things too. That doesn't mean I like to over pay for them. Our RE taxes should cover the costs to provide for police, sanitation, W&S and other services provided by a municipality. Why do we have to pay for these items in addition to RE taxes and then pay a tax on top of the fee for these items? Something is terribly wrong somewhere. Somewhere along the line there is an awful lot of waste occurring and I think it should be ferreted out and corrected.
Rant? Yeah, I guess so :O)filtersweep
May 19, 2003 10:31 AM
Hey, I was just being provocative- I have inlaws in northern europe where there is more or less of a flat tax on income that apparently comes out of the "employer's side"- much like the retail tax that is included in the price of goods and services. It is "invisible"- albeit a tax nonetheless. They are "rewarded" with lower (take-home) wages and higher benefits. Bottom line, something has to pay for infrastructure...

You can't tell me actual education costs have actually risen as much as tuition has. It has greatly outpaced "inflation" as has health care insurance. To say tuition is not a tax because it is elective is to say that raising cigarette or gasoline tax in elective... or sales tax, for that matter. Might as well call all tax as elective. Don't want to pay income tax? Don't have an income. Don't like property tax? Don't own property.

Tax on tax? Try buying a newer used car from a private party- you STILL have to pay sales tax on it, even though the original owner already paid it. If the car were sold annually, it would generate more tax than it was even worth.

Laundromats, car washes, etc here pay a huge surcharge around here due to the volume of sewer/water they use. I don't know why, but they do...
You're right, and I'd add...Duane Gran
May 20, 2003 7:48 AM
We are exorbitantly taxed on our after tax dollars. This should not be allowed, especially in states that have state income taxes. This is double taxation and is supposed to be unconstitutional.

This happens to be why I'm so skeptical of the Bush administration's tax cut. They claim that it is motivated by a desire to stop double taxation. I personally don't know about the constitutional nature of double taxation, but I do think the current administration appears only interested in addressing it for the most wealthy in America. How many poor or middle class people could give a damn about taxes on dividends?
If they are not paying taxes on them .....Live Steam
May 20, 2003 8:23 AM
then I am sure they don't give a damn unless they believe that they will lose something as a result of them being repealed. However if they are educated enough to understand the reasoning behind eliminating them, they will see that they can, in the long run, benefit too.

If corporations are able to eliminate the tax they pay on dividends, more companies may have the ability to pay dividends. This has a two fold effect. One - more investors will be receiving "taxable dividends" thus increasing the tax base and also increasing unearned income for the individuals collecting the dividend. They will have more money to spend which helps the economy grow. Two - the free cash companies will have after being relieved of paying tax on dividends can be used to expand their business, thus creating more jobs and a bigger economy. Additionally when a company pays a dividend, it becomes harder for them to fudge the books. Not impossible, but their quarterly statements become more transparent.
Hmm, you have no idea how this works, do you?TJeanloz
May 20, 2003 10:38 AM
I'm all for the reduction [to elimination] in the dividend tax. But the above post doesn't really explain it. The elimination of the dividend tax will have no impact on the ability of the corporation to pay dividends. The dividend tax is paid by the individual shareholder recieving the dividend. The tax is not paid at the corporate level, but rather at the individual level. There is plenty of murmuring for the elimination of the corporate tax, but no matter how much economic sense it makes, the Democrats won't stand for it.

The theory behind the dividend tax elimination is that currently, when a company issues a dividend, the individual receives (1-tax rate)*dividend in income. If the company doesn't pay that money out as a dividend, the Government doesn't get any of it.

Think of it this way: you have 10,000 in the bank, the bank pays you 10% interest, but every time you withdraw money, the government takes 50%. So in 1 year, you have 11,000, and you have the option of withdrawing 1,000, which will be $500 after-tax. Or the bank can hold onto all of your money, and you will still have 11,000, and make another 10% on that. So your investment options for year 2 are to make $1,100 in bank interest or find an investment vehicle whereby the $500 you made after tax returns 20%, for a total of $1,100. Good luck finding an investment that returns 20%. So the tax rate serves as a disincentive for companies to pay out earnings, because they have a handicapped ability to make more with your money than you do. Elimination of the tax eliminates this incentive, and thus companies will be more likely to pay out their earnings. So more money will flow FROM corporate accounts TO personal accounts, where they will be spent.

This should also inspire companies to increase their dividend payments, which will drive up the stock price, which will provide cheaper capital to expand the business. The idea that paying dividends will reduce fraud is nebulous at best. A company, like Worldcom, was able to pay dividends despite the largest accounting fraud in history. It doesn't add to the transparency, it only reduces risk by giving real cash back to investors.
effect of retained earnings tax (clueless here)? nmDougSloan
May 20, 2003 1:21 PM
What are you talking about?Live Steam
May 20, 2003 1:35 PM
Maybe I didn't explain it clearly - the money used to pay dividends to shareholders comes from corporate earnings, which is taxed. A portion of the residual after tax dollars are then distributed as a dividend to the shareholder. So the money is taxed as incomes earned by the corporation and then the dividend paid to the shareholder is taxed as unearned income. The same money is taxed twice.

If corporations are allowed to deduct the dividend they plan on paying to shareholders from their net earnings, their tax burden will be decreased. This should provide corporations with incentive to pay dividends and or increase the dividend they already pay in order to reduce their tax burden. It should also foster more investment in stocks that offer a dividend, which should help Wall Street recover from the secular bear market it has endured for the last three years.

Some people would prefer to pass the tax relief to the individual shareholder, but in this instance I believe the most benefit could be derived from relieving the tax paid at the corporate level, however either should stimulate more investment and more spending.

I hope this helps :O)
The Bush tax proposal, what are you talking about?TJeanloz
May 20, 2003 1:44 PM
While your basic assessment about the hypothetical you set up is true - that we could lower the corporate tax rate by excluding dividends from taxable income (as we do interest), it isn't what President Bush has proposed. He has proposed that individuals will not have to pay taxes on dividends they recieve, but dividends will still come from net income, not EBT.

So, while your theory is correct, it does not have anything to do with the current reality. The idea of a corporate tax in the first place is misguided, but we're stuck with it.
True, but ...Live Steam
May 20, 2003 1:58 PM
I believe in the end a compromise will be reached wherein the tax burden will be relieved from the corporate side. I also believe that someone in Congress will then see the oportunity to raise the rate on corporate taxes. Net gain for no one :O)
No way a corporate tax burden gets lifted (nm)TJeanloz
May 20, 2003 2:05 PM
I think this is the thinking for helping corporationsDougSloan
May 20, 2003 3:12 PM
Presently, if there is a $10 dividend, the shareholder pays $3 in taxes, with a net of $7 (simplified). If the dividends were not taxed, the corporation could pay $8 instead of $10, the shareholder comes out ahead, and the company saves $2 to use for investment and costs. The shareholder is happier as he has more money and his company has more cash. Make any sense?

Doug
Perfect sense,TJeanloz
May 21, 2003 6:28 AM
It makes sense, assuming the company has NPV positive investments to make, which is only marginally likely. The better scenario is that the company continues to pay $10, and the shareholder reinvests the $10 in a higher growth investment.
I can't speak for Doug...TJeanloz
May 20, 2003 6:43 AM
I can certainly only speak for myself, but for me, taxes are the price of civil society. They are the price we pay for roads, defense, and public safety. The issue, for me, is not the dollar amount of taxes, it's the equity of it. And here is where there are two, diametrically opposed, viewpoints. I look at taxes, what I pay and what I recieve from the government, and wonder why I have to pay more for the same product than my neighbor does. In my own mind, a flat [percentage] tax, which still has the rich paying significantly more, is fair - because it says that we all, in society, have concluded that XX% of our income must be devoted to defense, safety, etc. That's fine, my tax bill is probably still going to be larger than my neighbors', but we're paying the same "income adjusted" amount.

The opposite viewpoint says that I can afford to pay even more, on a percentage basis, than my neighbor, and I owe it to him to shoulder as much of the burden as I can. It's true. I can afford it. But that doesn't make it fair. The basis of the progressive tax structure seems to be: we take a baseline of what it should cost to live, and we penalize anybody who lives above that baseline, at varying degrees. What I don't understand, if we follow the logic, is why we don't adjust for geography, or other factors. Somebody making $200,000 in Iowa is living high-off-the-hog, somebody with a similar salary in Boston is living a middle class life. The person in Iowa can certainly afford to pay more in tax than the person in Boston, why don't they?

In short, those of us who pay a lot in tax view the tax structure as unfair. It isn't that I mind paying a lot, in $, of tax. I don't really care about the money. It's that I mind paying a disproportionate share of my income when compared to almost everybody else. It's not money, it's fairness.
progressive taxesDougSloan
May 20, 2003 6:49 AM
I think your analysis makes sense, but that's not reality. In reality, since median family income is around $40,000, well over half the voters make under that amount. Therefore, it's an easy sell to the majority of voters to give them a break, relatively, and stick it to everyone over that amount. Since there is no Constitutional right to fair taxation, the minority (upper income brackets) can get stuck paying a higher proporational share.

I realize that's over simplified, but probably is the essense of how it works.

Doug
in that caserufus
May 20, 2003 7:13 AM
why should somone with kids get more exemptions than a single peson? homeowners vs. renters?

no matter what you do, the tax system is going to be unfair to some segment of society. no matter what, i would still rather be one of the ones paying $90,000 in taxes, and still taking home a huge amount, rather than paying $1000 in taxes and trying to live on less than $20,000.
Why would they?TJeanloz
May 20, 2003 7:19 AM
Exemptions are the idiocies created by the current tax regime's inefficiency. Because we've set up this baseline of what it costs to live, we then need to adjust it to make it mirror actual costs of living. These adjustments are in the form of exemptions. If we want to make this system logical, there should be a lot more exemptions, like geographical, to compensate for differences in living costs.

I think your attitude about the tax system being unfair so we just give up, is really misguided. Why should the tax system be unfair to any segment of society? Why is this a necessity? Where inequities exist in society, it is our duty as citizens to try to remedy them, is it not?
the implied motive of conservativismDougSloan
May 20, 2003 7:42 AM
The implied motive or rationale of conservativism is essentially that if you don't think there is a safety net, you'll be more careful up on that wire. There is more motivation to succeed if you don't think there is an alternative. This philosophy allows some individuals to fail (in the sense of making less money), but the idea is that over all success of society is better, and it is fundamentally more fair.

For a bike analogy, think of it this way. Are you more likely to complete your first double century out there all alone or with a sag wagon following you?

Doug
and would you be more likely to finishrufus
May 20, 2003 8:03 AM
if there were stations along the route offering water and gatorade, bananas and snacks to give you an energy boost?

or should you carry a 20 lb. pack with you containing everything you might need, even for unseen emergencies?
ideally,DougSloan
May 20, 2003 8:30 AM
Ideally, I'd enter and pay for an event that provides supplies at the necessary intervals, or carry money and buy them at convenience stores along the way, planning ahead of time where they will be. I'm not looking for anyone to give me food or water for free, nor to give me a ride if I fail. The latter is really the point.

And yes, I have done double centuries solo carrying everything I need with me except for water and oxygen; many times, in fact.

Doug
Do Ike and Mamie still live in your White House?Silverback
May 19, 2003 7:56 AM
Jeez, Doug, for a person trained in logic...
I saw the freedom question and ignored it, because I'm trying to limit the number of circular pissing matches I get involved in.
The tax question is simply irrelevant: The budget problem (California schools, for instance) can't be solved by one person, or 1,000 people, voluntarily paying an extra $100 or whatever. You're tossing out red herrings and, when nobody picks them up, using that as proof of your position.
wan't trying to make a pointDougSloan
May 19, 2003 8:09 AM
I guess it's easy to think that by asking questions someone is necessarily trying to make a point. The freedom question wasn't that. The tax question could be, but I still was genuinely interested in the answers.

Doug
Wouldn't even know how to go about voluntarilyOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 8:17 AM
paying extra tax. Just send 'em a check and say, Keep the change? I suppose, but not sure what good that would do except to assauge my liberal guilt and make rhetorical points with you.

I am essentially volunteering to pay more tax by supporting repeal of the Bush tax cuts. Since, as we know, all Americans of whatever class are sharing a vast bounty of extra cash because of those cuts, I am presumably volunteering to pay quite a bit extra.
waysDougSloan
May 19, 2003 8:38 AM
First, you could send in the forms with no deductions or credits. (Do Liberals take deductions?) YOu could not cash a refund check. I think there actually is a line for voluntary contributions of more tax; nope, just looked; it's not on the 1040, at least ( http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf )

Seems to me if Liberals were truly for higher taxes they would set a good example and send in extra money themselves, right? Maybe there should be a "tax telethon" on PBS? Suppose anyone would freely donate to support all those fine government programs?

Doug
Yeah. Might even send a grand to PBS every year.OldEdScott
May 19, 2003 8:46 AM
And in fact do.

Seems to me if conservatives are so gung ho that churches and private charities can cover all the needs of the poor and disabled, they would be FLOODING those institutions with so much money there'd be no need for government spending.

One can always posit a 'seems to me' hypothetical. Doesn't advance the argument much.

One can also beg the question by saying: Why should I voluntarily pay excess tax just to make up the gap caused by your tax cut? As I say, the only possible reason would be to avoid falling into phony rhetorical traps like this one, and it's just not a good enough reason. The whole IDEA of taxes, which everyone just sails past, is that everyone chips in in fair proportion to their ability to pay, to keep a civilization going.

Civilization isn't a telethon, except in the Middle East.
who said liberals are FOR higher taxes?rufus
May 19, 2003 9:06 AM
seems to me they aren't necessarily for higher taxes, but simply against tax cuts that 1. come at a bad time, and 2. won't necessarily stimulate the economy as they are being sold as doing.

you want to stimulate the economy? take that $350 billion that will mostly go to the very wealthy, and send some to the state governments to make up their budget shortfalls, spend some repairing highways, bridges and other infrastructure in the country that is crumbling from years of neglect, extend unemployment benefits, allow companies to write off equipment and infrastructure improvements quicker, allow them to deduct the amount they distribute as dividends on their taxes, make it illegal to set up post office box corporate headquarters in countries like bermuda, simply to avoid paying taxes, and probably a ton of ideas i have no clue about. that will do a lot more for the economy than giving a millionaire an extra $90,000.
There is a voluntary way-TJeanloz
May 20, 2003 6:28 AM
You can send a check directly to the Department of the Treasury, with a note to "pay down the national debt", and it will go directly against the principle outstanding. If anybody really cares I could find the exact address.
Red Herrings indeed. But I resent your use ofOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 8:10 AM
the adjective 'Red.' 'Red' clearly implies Communist, and means you are accusing Doug of Stalinist sympathies, Gulags, torture, extermination, etc. It couldn't be clearer. Eeveyone knows what you're up to. That is Anti-American. There I said it. And I have just proven than all liberal thought is wrong, and anyone who disagrees with this ironclad conlusion merely proves by virtue of the disagreement that he or she is Anti-American too.

(I know this for a fact because I hold patent on the term Anti-American, and am free to define it as I see fit.)
no, i woudn't voluntarily pay more.rufus
May 19, 2003 8:22 AM
but if i was making $200,000+ per year, i also wouldn't be complaining about having 40% of that taken in taxes. especially since by virtue of that kind of income, i can take advantage of tax loopholes and shelters that others cannot, so my tax burden will probably be far less than 40%.

i think i could live mighty well on $100,000+ after tax income. sure beats trying to get by on $20,000, even if i pay a lesser dollar amount in taxes.
This is the "grass is greener" syndromeLive Steam
May 19, 2003 6:15 PM
Start earning $200k per year and your standards change. Your house payments reflect the increased income as do most of your monthly expenses. I know you would be more frugal than the next guy. You would still drive the 4 cylinder Chevy and eat at Denny's. Your vacations would still be in the Catskills instead of the Caribbean or Europe.

Many people that earn what you consider to be a fortune, have other considerations as well, like paying tuition for their kids college education. Saving for their weddings and other events. It all adds up very quickly and there is no social program to turn to should there be a shortfall. It is generally also a lot of work to earn that sum. No one just hands it over to you. When you work that hard for it, you want to hold on to as much of it as possible because you understand what it took to get it and it may be short-lived. Tenured union jobs do not pay $200k per year. There are no guarantees that it will be there for you next year.
so don't buy the fancy house, or vacation in the catskillsrufus
May 20, 2003 7:18 AM
these are luxuries, not necessities. if you find it's tough living on $200,000/year then you may need to cut back on some luxuries. let your kids pay their own way through college, that's what i had to do. the problem is, that like government, the more people earn, the more they spend, much of it on frivolous stuff.

to hear people cry about how hard it is to live on $200,000 is just incredible. it just amazes me that someone could even make that statement.
That is not what I said. Please use your ....Live Steam
May 20, 2003 8:13 AM
comprehension skills, which I know you have. You said it is a lot easier to live on more disposable income than less. That is just too simplistic. Unless your "standards" remain the same, the burden also rises. One may have more discretionary funds remaining after paying the monthly expenses, but basic living expenses usually rise with greater income potential. That is a fact based on human nature.

If you can afford better - bigger house, more expensive car - you are more likely to buy it when the means are at hand. A bigger fire needs more wood to keep it going. The burden on the individual to finance his lifestyle increases as he reaps the rewards of his labors. It may sound tawdry, but people usually want more, not less.

Businesses go through the same when in expansionary modes. It's called cash burn. They increase their overhead in order to ramp up services or production and need more operating capital to make it work, or they go under.

Unless human nature changes significantly, desiring better for one self and one's family, is only natural.
no, that's exactly what you said.rufus
May 20, 2003 8:25 AM
it wouldn't be harder, except that you desire more and more. again, it comes to choice, not need.

some people rail against welfare, say those recieving it shouldn't be wasting that money on booze, cigarettes or drugs, things they don't "need", but should better themselves, get an education so they can get a better job and get out of the welfare system. the same can apply to the other end, that your "burden" does not increase by necessity, but by desire. instead of using your money for the big car, or boat, or vacation, use it to better yourselves. pay off your mortgage, save it, invest it, don't piss it away on things you want.

again, your burden is not there simply because it is more expensive to live as you earn more. it may be somewhat, as property may be more expensive in areas where high paying jobs are. but that's only a small part. your burden is larger because you simply want more. like the government should, make the tough choices, and live within your means.
re: challenge for Liberals?Starliner
May 19, 2003 6:50 PM
First off, I think your notion of connecting a desire for higher taxes with volunteering to pay more than required is nonsensical. How could one ever be sure that the extra money would be applied to education or the environment, rather than the defense department?

As for freedom, Jon B summed it up well. Different definitions for different folks with regard to what constitutes hurting another person prevents a simple answer. Back in the 1950's, freedom was different than now. Maybe a better discussion would be to examine how 1950's notions of freedom might have caused damage to our society, and how the repercussions of those misguided values have changed the way we view freedom today, and whether or not there are still some lessons that we have yet to learn. I guess what I'm trying to say in addition to what Jon B said is that whatever definition you may come up with will ultimately be inadequate over time. The why of it all is what I would find to be a more fascinating topic.
The definition of freedom changes with the times?Live Steam
May 20, 2003 4:31 AM
Are you serious about this? If so, this is exactly what Doug and I are talking about. Freedom, real personal freedoms and liberties are, as the founding fathers stated, "unalienable", meaning - "Not to be separated, given away, or taken away". So by definition that would mean that they remain the same through time and do not change as you allege. If they were to change, they would not be worth much as one would never be able to count on them being there and thus would never truly have the liberties and freedoms that were enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and then guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

What makes you believe that the definition of "liberty" and "freedom" change with the times? If they change it is because someone is putting restrictions on them.
agree -- Liberals willing to give up freedomDougSloan
May 20, 2003 6:32 AM
Seems to me that Liberals (and I'm not intending a disparaging use of the term) don't disagree with the definitions, but they admit that they are willing to give up freedoms for other purposes. This is exactly what I have been trying to say -- that Conservatives (and Libertarians more so) are more in favor of "freedom," and therefore more "American," since the essence of American is freedom, than Liberals.

I realize that they take great offense to this, but apparently it's true.

Doug
i'm not willing to give up my freedoms...rufus
May 20, 2003 7:08 AM
to john ashcroft's patriot acts 1 and 2, but it seems i have no say in the matter. unfortunately, this conservative administration feels that curtailing individual freedoms is an appropriate course to take in their "war against terror" and most of the gullible public don't seem to care
what freedoms do you think you are giving up?DougSloan
May 20, 2003 7:20 AM
I realize some people see Ashcroft as the Devil, but what freedoms do you think you have given up or are threatened to be given up? I see these generalized comments like this, but I've not seen any specifics.

On the other hand, I could reel off a couple dozen freedoms taken by liberal socialist policies.

Doug
show me yours and i'll show you minerufus
May 20, 2003 7:37 AM
wire tapping at the police discretion, without probable cause or need for a warrant. having your american citizenship revoked simply because you associate with a certain group(what happens when certain legal but undesirable groups are added to this list, like say, unions?), protections guaranteed by the fourth amendment, held without habeas corpus, etc.

for more, i'd have to do some research, but those are just what i recall from memory.
what freedoms have *you* lost?DougSloan
May 20, 2003 7:57 AM
My question is whether you have actually experienced any of those things? I certainly have experienced losses of freedom:

1. car makers cannot make any car they want, therefore I can't buy what I want (applies to about a million products, similarly); the government tells industries what they can make, how to make them, etc.

2. There are hundreds of restrictions in employment that potentially harm both employer and employee; freedom of contract barely exists any more. An employer might hire two people at $3 per hour, but instead must hire one at $6, for example.

3. Taxation certainly deprives people of financial freedom. The government knows better how to spend my money than I do, right?

4. Similarly, the government takes my money that I could otherwise invest for retirement and I get a measley return on it. Not to raise a debate on the whole social security system, but it certainly is a loss of freedom.

5. The government tells me, here in California, how many windows I can put in my house, that I can have only 1 woodburning fireplace (which are about to be banned, too), what toilets I can install, and on and on. Even if legal, I have to get a permit for just about any project I want to do.

I could go on, but I think my point is made.

Now, I don't want to disregard your point about civil rights. However, I do want to point out that what you describe affects only a very few people, and even then only as related to national security issues so that we can help to avoid repeats of 9/11. My preference would be that none of those types of actions are necessary, but then certain people would take advantage the situation and likely repeat the 9/11 scenario (they have said they would) over and over until we *all* are murdered.

Doug
what freedoms have *you* lost?rufus
May 20, 2003 8:16 AM
none personally, because i am a good law abiding citizen.;)
but the point is, that certain constitutionally given freedoms have been abrogated by these acts, and as conservatives like to say, the slippery slope has begun. as i said, what if the government decides that my association with the chess club, or whatever, is a terrorist association, i lose my ciotizenship and get deported. and there's no way to fight it, becaus eit's all done in secret, no one knows what happened. but our government would never abuse its powers would it? what comes next, national registration?

all of the freedoms you feel impinged upon i say are the sacrifices that one makes to live in a civilized society. many are to prevent egregious abuses of power, such as employment regulations. or would you prefer we go back to sweatshops and child labor? of course businesses would like to pay less for workers, that's why they're all flooding to the far east. but it's not right, socially and morally. henry ford realized that in order for his workers to be able to buy his cars, they needed to be paid a decent wage.

taxes are simply the price that must be paid to enjoy the liberties that this society affords. the u.s. is one of the least heavily taxed industrialized society in the world, and yet people still complain. but you won't complain about your social security unless it's not there when it's your turn to collect; you want the garbage removed from your sidewalk; you don't want some army to invade, and you like using our interstate system.
meritsDougSloan
May 20, 2003 8:34 AM
I'm not so much debating the merits of losing freedoms to perceived higher ends, while we can do that, too. The point is that one end of the spectrum values freedom more than the other. I think you and others are implicitly agreeing, albeit with justifications, right?

Doug
well, complete and total freedom is anarchy(nm)rufus
May 20, 2003 8:44 AM
maybe notDougSloan
May 20, 2003 9:03 AM
In true anarchy, I think you'd actually have less freedom. You'd be so fearful of criminal activity that you'd probably hole up in your house armed to the hilt.

Doug
maybe notrufus
May 20, 2003 10:52 AM
but if people were truly free to do whatever they want, whenever they wanted, and to whomever they wanted to, with nothing there to limit or control their actions, that's what you'd end up with.

as you said about smoking, their right, or freedom, to smoke ends at your face. there are a lot of similar "freedoms" that should also be limited. those are the freedoms you give up in order to live as a society.
"henry ford realized that in order for his workers ...."Live Steam
May 20, 2003 8:35 AM
"...to be able to buy his cars, they needed to be paid a decent wage."

Yes and the government didn't even need to tell him this. It was in his better interests to do so.

As for the tax issue - again no one is saying they don't want to pay taxes. We are saying that we want the government to be more responsible with what they get. filtersweep stated that it is natural for special interests groups grab as much as they can whether or not they really need it. This is not responsible spending.
certainly, i want government held responsible...rufus
May 20, 2003 8:53 AM
for the way they spend my money. but until something is done to change the system, to get the lobbyists and corporate interests who pay big money to have their interests met, until the incentives to spend every dollar or make do with less are eliminated, until each member of congress stops sending pork projects back to their states, until the need to get re-elected is not their primary driving force, then things will stay the same.

the only way to do this is to completely overhaul the system. but since the ones responsible for doing that are the same ones who profit from the current system, it ain't gonna happen. the only other way is for us to throw every one of them out of office in the next elections. but since the people love their representative, it's always the other guys that are the crooked ones, that won't happen either.

oh god, ashcroft's knocking at my door. :(
Habeas corpus equates w/suv emmissions in your "mind?"Scary128
May 20, 2003 11:35 AM
1.what YOU want is irrelevant. unbridled capitalism/socialism/monopoly will be curtailed in this country. yes, by government oppression if necessary. and didn't you think smoking near you was a punch in the face (where rights end)? Youre 'choice' panacea appears selective . it's not ALL about wht YOU WANT.

2. YOU are irrelevant. For you money is freedom, you will never be free. Contracts are safe, just ask Haliburton or migrant labor employers. oh, enjoy the weekend and your allotment of parts per billion.

3. pay to play or leave your seat at the table. go whine in Gana. taxation is de-minimus in the big picture. it's just something airheads and politicians like to btch about (my self included, but 'welfare' programs are not even on my radar- trifling communist straw herring).

4. how much was just lost in the 401K mrkt?? who can ya trust...

5. yup, there are rules matey. welcome to the world. the problem with the world sir, is that you're not the only one in it. and many pricks less pricky than us would take advantage w/o rules. I kn i know, hence the 2nd A. right.

If we all started on a level playing field, I would agree that choice may factor more greatly in the calculus of success (i,.e. money in your language: willing to forego a billion dollar inheritance that we all start fair?? dare to choose 'fair'?) Some value other things, like hunting in the ENVIRONMENT,. time to HUNT and observe God's creation.

In broad terms, the WHOOOOLE link of taxes to 'liberty, freedom, the founding fathers...etc' is plain overblown rhetorical rubbish. The two are as distinct as the cause of prohibition and todays pubs. It's a modern nuts and bolts issue. There will be taxes. How can we limit government waste and private abuses. Personally I find arguments like yours that do so (tie notions of liberty to money- while ultimately a true and intended nexus Constitutionally truth be told) to be noxious, outdated arrogant and an indication not of high ideals but of greed.

peace, love, and fair profiteering.
liberty and moneyDougSloan
May 20, 2003 1:32 PM
It's an expected argument from a liberal, that is, that taking money is not taking freedom. I suppose if you are talking about physical freedom only, it's true. However, money is little more than a measure of our productivity, our time spent here on earth. Take my money and you take part of me. Take control of my money and you take control of me.

I'm sure it's enticing to argue that anyone opposed to high taxes and loss of freedom is selfish, but isn't freedom itself all about selfishness? While it would be wonderful in some dream world to be purely altruistic and philanthropic, at the end of the day we must pay for a place to live, put food on the table, and do a job that has sufficient rewards to be motivated to get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Calling something rubbish isn't an argument. Excessive taxation is removal of freedom, and if you can't see that, you certainly have proven my point.

Doug
. Excessive taxation is removal of freedom, and if you can't seerufus
May 20, 2003 1:44 PM
unfortunate for your argument, people in the u.s. are not excesively taxed. maybe you could have had an argument back in the 1950's when the top rate was somewhere around 70%, but not now. now, the argument against taxes is pure selfishness and greed.

your taxes pay for the freedoms you do enjoy. as many said about liberals protesting the war, if you take issue with this, then you are certainly free to live elsewhere.
your taxes pay for the freedoms you do enjoyDougSloan
May 20, 2003 2:13 PM
I wish that were true, and only that. However, my taxes also pay for far more than freedom, like so much government waste, corruption, and entitlements that it makes me ill, and this has nothing to do with selfishness or greed. If a mismanaged store charged you $10 for a gallon of milk, and you complained that a fair price is $3, does that make you selfish (it's the only store, by the way)? Wanting good value for your money isn't selfishness or greed.

It's a cheap argument for Liberals say that any opposition to taxation is greed. Maybe, in a sense, it is greed, but without similar greed this country would never have become the thriving productive place that it is. You're killing the goose.

BTW, my point, again, was not so much that taxation is wrong, by itself, but rather that it is a form of freedom deprivation, justifiable or not.

Doug
agree on waste, corruption etc.rufus
May 20, 2003 3:36 PM
so who is responsible for that? liberals? conservatives? both? and then what do we do about it? i think you know as well as i do that the system is rigged by big money interests and incumbent politicians, who exist only to make sure they're re-elected. if public service is so painstaking, and not so lucrative, as our leaders tell us, why do we have so many career politicians? and i'm sure you agree that we must have some taxes for things that only the federal government can do. so where do we begin?

.i really don't think term limits are the answer, because if a guy knows he's out of office in a few years, he's bound to get as much cash from political favoritism as he possibly can, but i think it has to be done. big money, corporate lobbying, pacs, and all that stuff have to be eliminated from the equation somehow. we are no longer a representative democracy, we are an elitest oligarchy. and that has to change. government has to be returned to the hands of the people.
. Excessive taxation is removal of freedom, and if you can't seeLive Steam
May 21, 2003 5:55 AM
The problem with your comparison is that the CPI today is almost 17 times higher than it was in 1950. Granted wages and salaries were lower, but not equally so. Besides what income level was paying 70%? Let's compare apples to apples.
probably the same levelrufus
May 21, 2003 8:24 AM
that's paying only 39% today.
Insightful of you: "Rubbish" is an opinion. Taxes pay for our128
May 21, 2003 4:59 AM
wars and create and maintain the conditions for the free market to thrive (premis). Your (qualified)argument that 'excessive' taxation is removal of freedom just doesn't resonate with me (opinion). It just kind of states the obvious (taxes at all suck- duh)and goes about as far as arguing wage labor is removal of freedom to the extent profit is made- duh: free to move to Chile you are, and the laborer to shake his oppressive yoke. The system (Constitution) was sort of designed this way, to prepare a minimalist governing body to maintain the conditions for private property and a market capitalism while protecting the welfare of those of limited resources. Can you believe that sometimes you have to invest in something to get a return? Outrageous.

It is false to asseert that if I don't see your point I have proven it. I see your point. I disagree with it. Excessive taxation is simply unecessary. Attaching it to your vitriol against whatever YOU mean by "liberal" and "freedom" just falls flat. Then we move on to define 'excessive' and 'minimalist government'. You seem to be say any tax is excessive, any government oppressive. I suppose that's where I take issue, I suppose if taxes and government were uneccessary they would be long dead. I think there is a place for both to maintain the quality of life we enjoy here in the United Sates. And I am not really distracted by the liberal v. conservative dichotomy. I'll leave that to you ideologues. Maybe you live in a dream world where government, laws, law enforcement and wars and taxes to pay for them are unecessary.

And to the extent that even non-excessive, reasonable taxation is a taking, you may be correct, but that's a sacrifice we make to prove the maxim: no free lunch.