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Old 12-19-2007, 09:25 AM   #161
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That so called 50% that do not pay taxes is false. Almost all states have a regressive sales tax that they pay. You are also forgetting another regressive tax that takes a big bite out of every working persons check and that is the Social Security and Medicare Tax.
Please see post 154. I clarified that I was referring to the federal income tax. That's the tax that pays for running the country at the federal level. Everyone benefits from having a federal government, and now approx 50% of people are paying for it.

Taken in total, there's nothing regressive about the Social Security taxation and benefit system. Low wage earners get back far more of every buck they put in than do high wage earners. In fact, what was designed as an inter-generational wealth transfer system has become an inter-class wealth transfer system, too. When the cap is removed (and it surely will be), this will become even more pronounced. It is now a pseudo-welfare system, which will become more evident when we start means-testing the benefits.

People can be on welfare for "only" 5 years. Heartless.

I'm happy that you think taxes are great. Please, pay all that you want! In fact, if you feel that you aren't being taxed enough, it is easy to give a "gift" to the US government (the mechanism is already in place) and you can give until your conscience is satisfied. Mine is more than satisfied at the present level of taxation. Don't forget (as mentioned previously) that the US Government is now taking in more money than ever before. I guess it's just not enough, is it? I wonder when it will be "enough".
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Old 12-19-2007, 09:38 AM   #162
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In the last 50 years we have seen a change in how we look at folks that accept welfare. 'There is no shame is being poor'

Just as the adds urge people to file for there unearned tax credit there are adds telling people that there is no shame in being poor and such. This has bread a society that to some extent accepts welfare as a right. I saw a news report of an 18 yr. old welfare daughter with two kids say 'I'll do just fine, it was OK for my mother so it's just fine with me'. Now I admit this may be an exception, but the willingness to use food stamps, WICK, and other handouts has changed the attitude of the poor and toward the poor.

If you redistributed all the wealth in the US today, within a year or so you would have poor people needing assistance.
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Old 12-19-2007, 09:54 AM   #163
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And, the "poverty level" keeps rising. We do have people in this country who have very little and do not live in a way I would chose to live. Still, we should recognize that, by standards of most of the world today, we have no "poor" people in this country. If an individual in sub-Saharan Africa, or the US of 60 years ago was given a description of the lifestyle and possessions of a "poor" American family today, that lifestyle would be seen as firmly middle-class.

So, by some objective measures, the "war on poverty" has been won, but we don't believe we are better off. The call for more assistance will apparently never cease. The poverty that comes from lack of self-worth and lack of self-respect (from being dependent on others) is more fundamental and more crushing than poverty caused by lack of "things." Our grandparents knew this, we've forgotten it.

Now, those who are mentally ill or on drugs aren't filling for assistance and are often worse off than "functional" poor people, but we have different societal roadblocks that are preventing us from dealing with those problems.
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:03 AM   #164
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The war on poverty does seem to be won! However, politicians stay in office by continued funding!

The Census Bureau's report on poverty in America has shown about 37 million people live in official poverty.

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:

46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.

62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:27 AM   #165
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No takers on lowering the estate tax to $1mm or to the median net worth and leaving the rate at 55%? Not even one? ? ?
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:42 AM   #166
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No takers on lowering the estate tax to $1mm or to the median net worth and leaving the rate at 55%? Not even one? ? ?
In my profession, 1M means 1,000,000.

So, if by '$1mm' you mean a million million ($1,000,000 times $1,000,000), then sure! Those are the really rich &*$%^@*() - take their money from e'm, I'll NEVER be that rich!

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Old 12-19-2007, 10:43 AM   #167
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No takers on lowering the estate tax to $1mm or to the median net worth and leaving the rate at 55%? Not even one? ? ?
Of course not! This is supposed to be a tax on RICH people, not us!!
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:48 AM   #168
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80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
Rustic, I agree with the sentiment of your post, but factoids like the one I quoted are very misleading and cheap, in my opinion. One could just as easily say:

"99% of poor households have a telephone. By contrast, in 1870, less than 1% of the entire planet had a telephone."

The truth is that technological advances get dramatically cheaper as time goes on. Things that start out as luxuries become necessities. That doesn't mean we're getting lazier or softer, it just means that mankind is doing exactly what it's supposed to: improving quality of life. You could make the same arguments about televisions, microwaves, or all kinds of other technologies that were very expensive initially, but are practically free now. It's disingenuous to use such tactics in a debate like this and reveals biases. It makes it look like you're trying to cheat to exaggerate your point, when the facts alone are enough to make a perfectly valid argument.
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:57 AM   #169
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Kombat,
Just so I understand: Why, in 2007, is a microwave oven a necessity for a poor person when it was not a necessity for anyone in 1970? We're not talking about lifesaving technology here, we're talking about convenience and keeping up with societal perceptions. And I'm ALL for convenience, but I don't call it necessity.

If taxpayers are to pay for anything for the poor, then they should pay for necessities. The bar is already well above that. Also, when on the dole, you are a dependent on others, and those "others" should have an increased say in how you live your life as a condition of this support (like kids living at home. We're talking about chronological adults who have not become self-sufficient.). Some of these conditions might be mandatory drug testing, limits on the types of food and accomodation provided, keeping free of the criminal justice system, doing public work that needs to be done, etc.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:16 AM   #170
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Kombat,
Just so I understand: Why, in 2007, is a microwave oven a necessity for a poor person when it was not a necessity for anyone in 1970?
Well strictly speaking, very little of anything we have are "necessities." Do I really *need* a car, or a bus pass for that matter? I could just wake up 4 hours early and walk to work. Do I really *need* more than one shirt? I could just wash it every night (by hand, of course) and let it dry while I sleep.

Microwave ovens were not widely owned by anyone in 1970. Sales volume in 1970 was only 40,000. However, sales grew to over a million by 1975. My objection was that it appears Rustic (or the original source of the statistics) cherry-picked a period during which hardly anybody had microwaves, because they were brand-new. It'd be like looking at fax machine numbers between 1960 and 1990 and claiming it had something to do with indulging ourselves. The truth is they didn't exist back then.

Finally, I would consider a microwave oven a necessity, especially for poor people. It allows a family to cook more food than necessary, so that they'll have leftovers they can refrigerate and heat up later, rather than having to fire up the stove/oven for every meal. It saves money in the long run, in my opinion. It's a tool people can use to reduce their costs, not a luxury indulgence that should remain available only to the well-heeled.

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We're not talking about lifesaving technology here, we're talking about convenience and keeping up with societal perceptions. And I'm ALL for convenience, but I don't call it necessity.
As I said, the location of the line delimiting "necessity/convenience" is entirely subjective. You may consider a wristwatch a convenience, whereas I would consider it a necessity. I may consider a cell phone a convenience while someone else might not be able to imagine life without it. I don't mention this to provoke a debate about these specific items, but rather to point out that it is arrogant for any one of us to proclaim that our classification system is authoritative. Furthermore, the simple passage of time and the economies of scale make these items much more easily accessible, even while we debate their position on the "convenience/necessity" spectrum, to the point where the debate doesn't even matter anymore. Who cares that poor people have color TV's? You can pick one up for free if you just drive around your neighborhood on garbage day. It might not be pretty, but the price is right.

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If taxpayers are to pay for anything for the poor, then they should pay for necessities. The bar is already well above that.
I agree with your first statement, but I'm not sure the "bar is well above that." I would consider housing, heating, food, and clothing to be necessities, but unless the US welfare program is more generous than I'm aware of, I don't believe current payments are enough to fund all of those needs and more, as you appear to be claiming. Maybe I'm wrong (I'm in Canada), but I'd be surprised to learn this is the case.

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Also, when on the dole, you are a dependent on others, and those "others" should have an increased say in how you live your life as a condition of this support.
This is a very controversial position, but I actually agree with you. As long as someone is sitting on their butt watching Oprah, cashing checks funded by my tax dollars, I don't believe they should be indulging in nightly booze benders, or smoking a pack a day at the local bingo hall. However, people do deserve at least a little enjoyment in life, and you'll never get everyone to agree how much is "fair." Unfortunately, the only truly fair solution is to not even try to dictate how they spend their money, and simply give them enough to get by. If they choose to spend that money on non-necessities, and end up going without the essentials, that's their problem, in my opinion.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:29 AM   #171
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In my profession, 1M means 1,000,000.

So, if by '$1mm' you mean a million million ($1,000,000 times $1,000,000), then sure! Those are the really rich &*$%^@*() - take their money from e'm, I'll NEVER be that rich!

-ERD50
heh.

Yes, I meant $1,000,000.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:48 AM   #172
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First the microwave was not referenced to 1970's so I don't know how that got into the discussion above.

As for Air Conditioning in the 70's, it was a pretty common item around these parts and far from a luxury item. Sure they could have said it was 0% in the 1870's, but I don't find it out of line to compare it to the 1970's. After all when did the 'War on Poverty' begin?

Ever been at the grocery store and been behind someone with WIC coupons? Ever notice the other things they were buying, like beer, candy, cakes, potato chips, etc.? So I buying their milk and eggs so they can aford their beer.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:51 AM   #173
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Also, when on the dole, you are a dependent on others, and those "others" should have an increased say in how you live your life as a condition of this support
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This is a very controversial position, but I actually agree with you.
Controversial!!!

Maybe THAT is the problem! This should NOT be viewed as controversial!

This is exactly how I was raised, and I bet that the majority of productive people were raised this way. I'm raising my kids this way, and so far, so good. While your parents help provide for you, you are beholden to their rules. They have a say in how you live your life. I think we are better off for it.

If someone expects to be helped by someone who is successful, maybe they could learn a thing or two from that successful person. Maybe they should be forced to listen (education in exchange for help, guidelines in exchange for help). The goal is for them to not need help in the future (unless we are talking people with permanent disabilities here).

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Old 12-19-2007, 11:53 AM   #174
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Hollywood is looking for someone to play Scrooge in the new version of the A Christmas Carol. I sent them a link to this thread and told them there are a lot of good candidates here.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:55 AM   #175
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P. T. Barnum is also looking for another sucker, maybe he would be interested in this thread also.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:08 PM   #176
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Hollywood is looking for someone to play Scrooge in the new version of the A Christmas Carol. I sent them a link to this thread and told them there are a lot of good candidates here.

Weren't you the guy complaining about the use of 'labels'? My use was not even meant in a derogatory way, just a descriptive one.

If you read the content of those posts, I think you will see that people are not saying 'Don't help someone', they are saying 'let's give them some real, meaningful, long-term help'.

At least that is what I am saying.

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Old 12-19-2007, 12:16 PM   #177
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Well strictly speaking, very little of anything we have are "necessities." Do I really *need* a car, or a bus pass for that matter? I could just wake up 4 hours early and walk to work. Do I really *need* more than one shirt? I could just wash it every night (by hand, of course) and let it dry while I sleep.
Yes? Your tone is like that would be ridiculous. Strictly speaking, why the hell are taxpayers expected to pay for this stuff for the "poor"?
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:25 PM   #178
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80 percent of poor households have air conditioning.

62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

I would like to have both air conditioning and cable/satellite. While my retirement income is above the official poverty rate, I consider the cost of these luxuries too great.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:27 PM   #179
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Hollywood is looking for someone to play Scrooge in the new version of the A Christmas Carol. I sent them a link to this thread and told them there are a lot of good candidates here.
Well, if the social program lobbyists need some more help, I'll give them your name.........
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:38 PM   #180
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Yes? Your tone is like that would be ridiculous. Strictly speaking, why the hell are taxpayers expected to pay for this stuff for the "poor"?
This is devolving into an indefensible argument. The bottom line is, you can't simply decide to give poor people nothing and let them fend for themselves. If we did that, then they wouldn't just quietly disappear so we could all live in our productive, peaceful society. They'd turn to crime. Their kids would starve to death. It would not be pretty.

On the other hand, no matter how little you give them, there will always be people who feel it is too much.

I don't believe that society should provide all the necessities for poor people. I think poor people should be required to at least pull some of their own weight, rather than just tag along on society's coattails. However, if someone is working to get out of the rut and contributing to society, then I think it's dehumanizing to presume to dictate to that person that they're not allowed to "waste" any money on frivolities like cigarettes, booze, bus passes, or more than one shirt.
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