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Old 04-09-2010, 06:06 PM   #41
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If the skin in the game were true we would expect to see voting behaviour change as the income levels rise – higher income, more skin. There is clearly no such trend in the US.
No trend for what?


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Who defines what counts as “skin”? Why not payroll taxes, sales taxes, liquor / gasoline / tobacco, etc. How about property taxes? Owners can vote, renters cannot? This slope is not slippery, it's treacherous.
I don't think anyone suggested that they shouldn't be allowed to vote. The suggestion is that roughly half the voters are getting a 'free lunch' when it comes to FIT, and that is being played by the politicians, and very likely the people themselves.

This is one reason some of us are against the govt being involved in so much of our lives. If you are provided with something that came from tax dollars, the whole loop gets rather tenuous, and people don't care so much about getting what they pay for as it is all so indirect. It is one of the issues regarding insurance companies - since the insurer pays for medical treatment, the one being treated isn't asking about the cost of this versus that. They would if it was out of pocket.

I really don't think we need data on things like this (and I'm big on having data), that data is hard to parse out of the other variables in any particular situation. But it should be clear to any observer that human behavior is modified by whether someone pays directly, or feels that someone else is paying and that payment is disconnected from them. I think it works at all levels from hot dogs to Federal governments.

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Old 04-09-2010, 06:14 PM   #42
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But personally I think the "who pays, who does not pay federal taxes" is a red herring, because who does/doesn't probably changes quite a bit every year, and over a lifetime I doubt many get through life without paying taxes at all.

Audrey
Some people feel very strongly that 'upward mobility' is very limited in the US. So I guess they would have to say that you are wrong - once poor, always poor. And since we are talking about roughly half the filers, you don't need to be all that 'poor' to qualify for this non-FIT-paying group.

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Old 04-09-2010, 06:26 PM   #43
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Some people feel very strongly that 'upward mobility' is very limited in the US. So I guess they would have to say that you are wrong - once poor, always poor. And since we are talking about roughly half the filers, you don't need to be all that 'poor' to qualify for this non-FIT-paying group.

-ERD50
If half the filers are households making less than $33K, than that's pretty low.

The logic that "if it's half the filers then they can't be that poor" just doesn't wash. In fact - half the filers have do have pretty low incomes. The income spread in this country is just so huge that the other half is significantly better off.

I don't see how you can leap to the conclusion that the 50% that don't pay FIT are these folks that have the attitudes you describe above. Maybe a subset do, but to say 50% of the population does because they don't pay FIT - I just don't see how you can claim that.

I don't see how you can claim that 50% of the filing households are the ones who will always be poor and will never pay taxes either - that this group is somehow fixed. That any of these people have given up on upward mobility, just because for one year they don't pay FIT.

And according to the article, in 2007 the number not paying taxes was 38%, and jumped to 49% in 2008 due to the terrible economy and in 2009 is 47%. Wow - so these folks hit hard times and didn't make enough money due to the a really bad recession, and we're now classifying them as permanent ne'er-do-wells who will never pay taxes.

And then there are the families who get pretty big tax breaks for children. This is something the US has decided to subsidize for a long time. However, for most families the child-related dependent tax breaks and credits only last for a couple of decades - another break that is not permanent over the taxpayer's lifetime.

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Old 04-09-2010, 06:55 PM   #44
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No, I think you still are missing the point. The point is not that Martha or ERD50 should expect to get more control if/when they pay more taxes. The point is that if more people were paying, more people would be more concerned about fiscal responsibility. It is the majority that have power at the voting booth.

Back to the hot dog story - it didn't affect me in the least. I'm not the type to waste food, 'free' or not. But that was not the case with some people, and it made a difference when looking at the entire group. I think we would see a similar response if more people had more skin in the game when it comes to taxes and fiscal responsibility.

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I do not believe that I am missing the point. My point is that there is no evidence that more people paying taxes would result in more people caring about fiscal responsibility.

The related point I made is that the analogies and slogans do not fit the facts.
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:59 PM   #45
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The logic that "if it's half the filers then they can't be that poor" just doesn't wash. In fact - half the filers have do have pretty low incomes.
Well I don't know exactly. Maybe later I'll try to get a better handle on the numbers. edit/add - also remember, there are people who don't file (that got cut off in my first edit...)

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I don't see how you can leap to the conclusion that the 50% that don't pay FIT are these folks that have the attitudes you describe above.
I didn't say that. I say it would be a tendency, and it seems odd to me anyone would argue that. I could give dozens of examples, but I gotta run (banquet where everyone chips in, versus separate checks - you know there's always a few 'grabbers' in that crowd, etc....)

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Old 04-10-2010, 07:57 AM   #46
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No representation without taxation!


Seems to me there is something a bit off kilter with allowing those who have not contributed to the pot in having a say as to how it gets divvied up.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:22 AM   #47
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I used to question this one all the time, too. Then I rationalized it by reminding myself that I need all these young 'uns to get well educated, get good jobs and eventually pay for my Social Security checks...

And since my wife is "semi-employed" by the local school district as a substitute, I figure the school taxes are writing her checks, too.
Hey, you're GOOD. I feel much better now.
Seriously, though, I can accept this as a good reason until I have to write the #@!* checks twice a year.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:57 AM   #48
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I also get pretty hot under the collar at having to pay to educate other folk's brats spawn ankle biters rug rats children. I want to grab somebody by the collar and tell them that if they can't afford to raise children, then don't do the wild thing.

Hillary and her village be d@mned!

Then I cool down and realize that without free public education, our society would very likely degenerate into a dystopia like Dickens' England with gangs of uneducated urchins roving the streets causing all sorts of trouble. Our society is already stratified enough. The last thing we need is for only the rich to be able to attend school.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:32 AM   #49
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I also get pretty hot under the collar at having to pay to educate other folk's brats spawn ankle biters rug rats children. I want to grab somebody by the collar and tell them that if they can't afford to raise children, then don't do the wild thing.

Hillary and her village be d@mned!

Then I cool down and realize that without free public education, our society would very likely degenerate into a dystopia like Dickens' England with gangs of uneducated urchins roving the streets causing all sorts of trouble. Our society is already stratified enough. The last thing we need is for only the rich to be able to attend school.
Here in New York State, we have something called a STAR rebate program in which the state gives a school tax rebate to those who pay property taxes. We also have an Enhanced STAR rebate program which provides additional school tax relief to low-income, elderly (age 65+) homeowners, mainly because they are property-rich, income-low, and usually have no kids attending the local schools. I have asked my state legislators many times over the years why they don't extend the Enhanced STAR to similarly low-income, non-elderly homeowners who have no kids attending the local schools. Our ability to pay our local school taxes is the same as the elderly's ability to pay. Our burden on the local schools is the same (i.e. none) as the elderly's burden on the local schools. But we pay through the nose and those same politicians wonder why many young people leave New York State after finishing college ("brain drain") to live elsewhere - they can't afford to pay a heavy "no-kids" tax to return here.

I am not saying people like me should pay zero towards our local schools. But how about acknowledging our similar situation as the elderly's and give us a similar tax break? [I know, the elderly VOTE while the non-elderly lack this political clout and can therefore be ignored without consequence.]
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:34 AM   #50
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Here in New York State, we have something called a STAR rebate program in which the state gives a school tax rebate to those who pay property taxes. We also have an Enhanced STAR rebate program which provides additional school tax relief to low-income, elderly (age 65+) homeowners, mainly because they are property-rich, income-low, and usually have no kids attending the local schools. I have asked my state legislators many times over the years why they don't extend the Enhanced STAR to similarly low-income, non-elderly homeowners who have no kids attending the local schools. Our ability to pay our local school taxes is the same as the elderly's ability to pay. Our burden on the local schools is the same (i.e. none) as the elderly's burden on the local schools. But we pay through the nose and those same politicians wonder why many young people leave New York State after finishing college ("brain drain") to live elsewhere - they can't afford to pay a heavy "no-kids" tax to return here.

I am not saying people like me should pay zero towards our local schools. But how about acknowledging our similar situation as the elderly's and give us a similar tax break? [I know, the elderly VOTE while the non-elderly lack this political clout and can therefore be ignored without consequence.]
Amen from another NYer.
I had read that the 2010 STAR rebate (not the STAR program itself) was cancelled due to state budget woes. Was it reinstated?
Maybe... I can only hope.

UPDATE: I was half right. From page 2 of the document at http://www.tax.state.ny.us/pdf/memos/income/m08_3i.pdf

Middle Class STAR Rebate Program
Section 1306-b(3)(b) of the Real Property Tax Law has been amended to delay for one
year the increase in the amount of rebate allowed for school years beginning in 2008 and 2009.
Therefore, the Middle Class STAR Rebate Program will be fully phased in for school year
2010-2011 instead of 2009-2010.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:44 AM   #51
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I also get pretty hot under the collar at having to pay to educate other folk's brats spawn ankle biters rug rats children. ...

Then I cool down and realize that without free public education, ...
Wait right there. It is not FREE (and I know you know that )! The costs are shifted, and that is a HUGE difference. We can't have a rational discussion if we refer to it as 'free'.

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our society would very likely degenerate into a dystopia like Dickens' England with gangs of uneducated urchins roving the streets causing all sorts of trouble. Our society is already stratified enough. The last thing we need is for only the rich to be able to attend school.
I don't think that is the only alternative. How about you get a bill for each kid in school - if you can't pay it becomes a loan. Wages are garnished at some progressive rate (extremely low % for low wage earners, increasing as the wage increases).

Now, with three kids I have used the public education systems for K-12. Although, I'm not so sure it was a 'benefit'. If we had true competition in our school systems, maybe the bill would be so much lower that I would be better off paying for 3*12 (36) years directly, than paying a potentially much higher bill indirectly for 60 (age 25-85 roughly) or more years? With education rising faster than general inflation, the later years will likely be a bigger hit.

Free!?

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Old 04-10-2010, 11:04 AM   #52
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K-12 schooling is mostly paid from property taxes and supplemented with state taxes. Folks that don't want to pay this have an easy option - relocate to a low property tax location.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:19 AM   #53
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K-12 schooling is mostly paid from property taxes and supplemented with state taxes. Folks that don't want to pay this have an easy option - relocate to a low property tax location.
I have another idea: How about allowing the creation of local kid-free zones/communities for us younger folks similar to the retirement communities for those age 55+? Without the need to build schools or hire teachers, our property taxes would drop a lot.

IOW, relocate the low property tax locations to us instead of having us relocate to them, and let us childfree folks not have to wait until we are 55 years old to gain access to them.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:09 PM   #54
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That "skin in the game" argument is pretty strong. Sure they pay sales, gas, snack, property, etc. taxes, but most of those are hidden, built in taxes. You don't go buy gas at $2.50 a gallon and then they slap an 18 cent tax on top. But when they get paid and no FIT is deducted or they even get a check from the government at the end of the year because of credits, why would they even contemplate voting for reducing government spending. What do they care? Heck a lot of them are getting money back or some form of assitance. They are going to vote that away? I doubt it. In fact they tend to vote for bigger government, more spending and bigger and more entitlements. They don't have to pay for it, why not?

It's been said that a democracy can only exisit until the people figure out they can vote themselves generous gifts from the treasury. Not only that, but many politicians advocate that to get re-elected. You can't have as system where the majority lives off the labor of the minority. Everyone has to pay for the ESSENTIAL functions of government. Under just about every taxing scheme I have ever seen there is some kind of personal deduction that accounts for spending on necessities and prevent a college student from making $2000 a year and paying $200 in taxes.

Fairness and equality isn't about insuring everyone gets the same pay, house, education, etc., its about insuring everyone has the same opportunity.We have that in the United States for the most part. Poor folks get out of poverty everyday, the uneducated go to school, the downtrodden rise up. That is until the government starts handing out money and spreading dependency. Why work, when you can live for free off the labor of others? It may sound compassionate, but is a form a servitude. Those receiving have no freedom, they must ask and beg and plead for their livelihood and do what the government tells them in order to be taken care of. The wealthy, the middle class have to work longer and harder to get ahead because the tax burden goes up and up. How early could we all have retired if we weren't paying for the other 30%-40% of the population to survive all these years? How much better off would they be if they worked and sacrificed to better themselves like most of us have?
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:50 PM   #55
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It amazes me that people seem to remain convinced that there is some huge fixed portion of the US population (that is - the same individuals) that does not pay taxes year after year and therefore votes to keep it that way.

I suspect "this group" is more likely a breakdown of:

1. Young people, people just getting started in careers, students, part-time workers: most of these folks will likely go on to earning more money and pay Federal Income Taxes (FIT). They have a lifetime of taxpaying ahead of them.

2. Seniors - probably a big chunk of the non-tax paying crowd as these folks tend to have lower incomes. A lot of seniors get by on pretty darn low income - especially if they are only living off of social security. A lot of these folks probably paid federal taxes for several decades and would feel pretty incensed by others claiming they are "free-loaders" whatever you think of SS and Medicare.

3. The recently unemployed and underemployed. The "47% pay no FIT" article mentions that in 2007, then number was lower - 38%. So that means 9% can be directly attributed to people whose income dropped due to the recession. You would hope for most of these folks this is a temporary situation And until 2 years ago these folks WERE paying FITs. To be mad at them now due to the economy seems pretty harsh.

4. Families. Families with children get HUGE tax breaks in this country - deductions AND credits. Whether a good idea or not, that is how the tax code is currently written. I can see how this might make some people mad and seem inappropriate and maybe the room for the biggest gripe is with this group. However, for most families, these tax breaks do not last all their lives, but rather for a couple of decades.

So, I suspect if you back out the above groups, you are probably left with a fairly small "permanent" non-FIT-paying group. And whether or not they religiously vote to keep themselves that way is still a debatable question.

Audrey
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Old 04-10-2010, 01:34 PM   #56
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I really don't think we need data on things like this (and I'm big on having data), that data is hard to parse out of the other variables in any particular situation. But it should be clear to any observer that human behavior is modified by whether someone pays directly, or feels that someone else is paying and that payment is disconnected from them. I think it works at all levels from hot dogs to Federal governments.-ERD50
This is the basic axiom of economics. That is good enough for me!

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Old 04-10-2010, 02:46 PM   #57
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I have another idea: How about allowing the creation of local kid-free zones/communities for us younger folks similar to the retirement communities for those age 55+? Without the need to build schools or hire teachers, our property taxes would drop a lot.
Even better, why not create a class of folks who do not contribute into the public educational system but then voluntarily exclude themselves from any of the benefits. For example, you don't pay any taxes towards public education, but when you need a doctor or mechanic or lawyer or plumber, etc., who benefitted form public education, you would have no access. You could simply select your service providers from those folks who did not attend any public school. You might have to dig a little harder to find service providers, but it would be worth it, right?

That seems like it would be fair.
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Old 04-10-2010, 03:57 PM   #58
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Even better, why not create a class of folks who do not contribute into the public educational system but then voluntarily exclude themselves from any of the benefits. For example, you don't pay any taxes towards public education, but when you need a doctor or mechanic or lawyer or plumber, etc., who benefitted form public education, you would have no access. You could simply select your service providers from those folks who did not attend any public school. You might have to dig a little harder to find service providers, but it would be worth it, right?

That seems like it would be fair.
Once again, using a strawman argument against those who want the funding of K-12 education to be more equitable.

From my earlier posts, I will still be paying to support the K-12 schools through my state income and other state taxes. Just not the local property tax because there would be no local schools. Should those who live in school-free retirement areas today be denied seeing a doctor who attended public schools because they don't pay local school taxes any more?

Furthermore, what I suggested above is no different from how public colleges are funded. Those who attend pay tuition. But that reduced tuition is subsidized by the taxpayers. Those who don't go to public colleges do not pay anything more than the taxpayer subsidy akin to the subsidy paid through the state income and other taxes.

Those who attend state colleges pay a far greater share of the cost than those who do not attend them. Those who attend state colleges pay a far greater share of their cost than those who attend K-12 public schools, too.

Do you suggest that I am not allowed to use a doctor who went to a state college, too, because the only way I support state colleges is through the state income and other state taxes?
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Old 04-10-2010, 04:23 PM   #59
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It amazes me that people seem to remain convinced that there is some huge fixed portion of the US population (that is - the same individuals) that does not pay taxes year after year and therefore votes to keep it that way.
Audrey
I agree it isn't always the same group all through their lives - but if you look at your breakdown you've got the young-generally-low-wage years, followed by two decades of child/edu credits, then finally another two decades of senior-ship.

I'd bet that a pretty large % stay in a pretty low tax group for a large % of their lives.


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This is the basic axiom of economics. That is good enough for me!

Ha
Yes, I'm kind of befuddled that there is any debate. I mentioned it to my wife over dinner last night, and she said 'well, of course', and with no further prompting went on to give a couple specific examples she experienced over just the past few weeks. I'm a little afraid to approach the subject further, it's starting to sound like "is too" - "is not".

When clearly intelligent people seem to contradict what is obvious, I've found that it's probably because they just don't like what it tells them. Kind of like that old saying about how it is near impossible to convince someone of X, if that person's paycheck depends on X being false.


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Even better, why not create a class of folks who do not contribute into the public educational system but then voluntarily exclude themselves from any of the benefits. For example, you don't pay any taxes towards public education, but when you need a doctor or mechanic or lawyer or plumber, etc., who benefitted form public education, you would have no access. You could simply select your service providers from those folks who did not attend any public school. You might have to dig a little harder to find service providers, but it would be worth it, right?

That seems like it would be fair.
Well, one person's opinion, but I don't think it holds. If they pay for their own education, they will charge us to cover that in the price of their products/services. For some (most?) people, that is the incentive to attain higher education or skills. That doesn't mean we can't partake of their services. We pay-as-we-go.

Widget companies might build their factory with private funds - we buy their product, right? And that cost is included. We aren't prevented from buying the product just because they didn't use public funds to build the factory, or if we didn't buy the bonds they sold to finance the construction.

I guess we could turn it around and say, if they got a public-paid education, are they are not allowed to profit from it and charge more for their higher abilities? That would be double-dipping, we the public already paid?

edit - I see scrabbler covered some of this before I submitted, oh well, you get to hear it twice

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Old 04-10-2010, 04:55 PM   #60
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Yes, I'm kind of befuddled that there is any debate. I mentioned it to my wife over dinner last night, and she said 'well, of course', and with no further prompting went on to give a couple specific examples she experienced over just the past few weeks. I'm a little afraid to approach the subject further, it's starting to sound like "is too" - "is not".

When clearly intelligent people seem to contradict what is obvious, I've found that it's probably because they just don't like what it tells them. Kind of like that old saying about how it is near impossible to convince someone of X, if that person's paycheck depends on X being false.


-ERD50
Oh come on. I disagree, said why, and it isn't because I don't like what you are saying. That is mind reading and you can't read my mind.
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