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Old 11-11-2007, 03:27 PM   #61
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Those "wealthy" folks making $200k+ a year (and to whose class I would aspire to belong one day), take advantage of the "loophole" of not paying a surcharge (which you and others of your belief would impose on them) on their income.

That is to say, the $200k+ folks follow the legislatively enacted tax laws, and so manage their affairs as to pay the minimum legally required of them. In short, they are merely acting in their own self-interest, according to the laws of the land.

Now, this decent fellow Danny, has discovered several laws of the land involving such things as 401ks, SS, 529's, 72t, and so on. He is a logical fellow and takes full advantage of these legislatively enacted laws of the land. Danny acts in his own self-interest. He is not greedy, not selfish, or anthing like that. Rather he is merely rational to arrange his affairs so as to minimize his legally required tax bite and maximize his personal wealth.

Now Retireerobert comes along and looks at Danny doing what he does, and looks at a 200k+ income chap doing what that chap does. Retireerobert sees two rational individuals acting in their own self interests in accord with the laws of the land.

Retireerobert thinks to himself---what a great country! Was I lucky to be born an American or what! And Retireerobert regards
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:31 PM   #62
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Those "wealthy" folks making $200k+ a year (and to whose class I would aspire to belong one day), take advantage of the "loophole" of not paying a surcharge (which you and others of your belief would impose on them) on their income. These 200k+ folks, who comprise 1% or 5% or 10% of all taxpayers, are not shirkers. Per IRS data, they now pay some 50% or 70% or 80% of total income taxes collected by the IRS each year.

That is to say, the $200k+ folks follow the current legislatively enacted tax laws, and so manage their affairs as to pay the minimum legally required of them. In short, they are merely acting in their own self-interest, according to the laws of the land.

Now, this decent fellow Danny, has discovered several laws of the land involving such things as 401ks, SS, 529's, 72t, and so on. He is a logical fellow and takes full advantage of these legislatively enacted laws of the land. Danny acts in his own self-interest. He is not greedy, not selfish, or anthing like that. Rather he is merely rational to arrange his affairs so as to minimize his legally required tax bite and maximize his personal wealth.

Now Retireerobert comes along and looks at Danny doing what he does, and looks at a 200k+ income chap doing what that chap does. Retireerobert sees two rational individuals acting in their own self interests in accord with the laws of the land.

Retireerobert thinks to himself---what a great country! Was I lucky to be born an American or what! And Retireerobert regards both Danny and the 200k+ chap as a couple of similarly lucky brothers. One is no better than the other.
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:39 PM   #63
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Man, poor Dan, with you guys jabbing him over and over. ERD, do you have to argue with everyone all the time?

So, say you eliminate 401k plans, retirement fund tax breaks and eliminate SS and medicare. In return, government reduces taxes accordingly.

Some people, especially the rich and the healthy, will do just fine, saving their money, buying insurance, or self insuring. There is a good chance that a number of people will start saving late and thus won't be able to retire. Ever. God knows what will happen with their medical needs. Maybe they get ill and lose all the money they were able to save. Some people won't be able to make it at all.

I don't have a problem that our government has a bit of a paternalistic bent and helps us take care of ourselves by encouraging retirement saving, college education saving and providing SS and medicare.

We are all in this together.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:38 PM   #64
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Interesting thread before it deconstructed.

I had the same experiences Dan.

Govt tax and business benefits gave me stock options, employee stock purchase plans, 401k's and pension plans. Direct benefits are tax free capital gains on real estate, tax friendly programs like the IRA and Roth IRA.

Eventually a possibility of getting that social security money back and yeah, I'd have peed most of it away if you'd handed it to me in my 20's.

Either medicare or fully socialized medicine by the time I'm in my 60's.

So while uncle sam sure took his share from my wallet over the years, programs helped me pull more money out of old megacorp and my own investments than I might have managed 100 years ago.
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Old 11-11-2007, 07:04 PM   #65
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I would like to see the Goverment get out of the peoples way with lowering the tax rate and doing away with the capial gain tax. I'm in retirement and with all these tax increases coming our way in the next couple years it's going to force me back to to work just because of the taxes.
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:25 PM   #66
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:31 PM   #67
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Man, poor Dan, with you guys jabbing him over and over.
Martha, one of the oft quoted problems of email and forum postings is the inability to convey nuance. I am unsure of the nuance in your comment, and you may have missed mine. So, at the risk of missing that nuance, I'll take it fairly literally:

poor Dan? Dan has started a couple threads recently professing the superiority of letting the govt control our decisions, and controlling both minimum and maximum wages. That's his view and he is entitled to it. It is (for the most part) not my view. So I challenged, and he responded and a discussion evolved. In another thread, he said he didn't want to get into defending whether we have a free market or not, so I backed off. Fair enough? Like the saying goes, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen?

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ERD, do you have to argue with everyone all the time?
No Ma'am, I mean YES Ma'am, I mean.... arghhh, thats one of those trick lawyer questions isn't it?! Can I plead the Fifth?

More seriously, it depends on the topic, and your definition of 'argue'. Maybe what you see as 'arguing', I see as 'lively debate', and an opportunity to challenge my own understanding of the issues, and to learn. On this forum, I generally like to share information, and debate policies. Depends on the topic and my mood. Is there something wrong with that?

Even the very non-confrontational HaHa questioned whether Danny was just trying to stir things up. I don't think my questions/challenges were out-of-line. But heck, that's from my POV.

I think you mentioned being late to the thread - maybe you missed this, I think it adds perspective (added emphasis this time):

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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I'll repeat here, so no one takes the above out of context: I'm OK with govt programs that fill a gap that private business/charities cannot. I'm OK with social programs for the truly needy, and things that help people get a step up and improve themselves - I think we ALL benefit from that, even if indirectly.

-ERD50
So no, I'm not against all govt programs, but I do question (challenge? argue??) the many 'shell-games' that are pawned off as 'benefits'.


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So, say you eliminate 401k plans, retirement fund tax breaks and eliminate SS and medicare. In return, government reduces taxes accordingly.
Well, I'll give you my opinion, but only if don't accuse me of arguing

Yes, I can see where it can be a good thing for the govt to encourage (maybe even 'force') people to save for retirement. Not everyone has the foresight to do it. But the problem is, the current jumble of regulations is a mess that lacks direction, and much of it is a shell-game. Look at it this way:

If you want to build a house, you don't just build a bathroom, then add a kitchen over there, and then add a few bedrooms, then decide to add a second floor, etc. You define your needs, then ARCHITECT it and PLAN it to meet that need. Then you build it. But the govt programs are mostly a mumble-jumble of 'solutions'.

Take SS for example. Explain it to me, I don't get it. Is it to help secure a basic retirement for the lowest of the working class (those that would need it the most)? If so, then why do the people who make the most money get the highest benefit? Shouldn't it be just the other way around? So what 'problem' is it trying to solve?

There are dozens (probably thousands) of examples like that . See T-Al's comments about how the 'hybrid' but low-mpg SUV is allowed in the HOV lane, but not the much higher mpg 'standard' vehicle:

Anticipated gasoline price

Again, what 'problem' is it trying to solve? Do we want hybrids, or do we want high MPG cars (regardless of the technology)?

So, with examples like that, don't I have good reason to be more than a little skeptical (and a little vocal) when I hear someone put the words 'govt' and 'here to help you' in the same sentence?

-ERD50
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:01 PM   #68
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There is a point where it passes from skepticism and healthy discussion and becomes asshattery. And that point seems to come often.

My hats off to all the political hacks who helped make ER happen for me!
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:55 PM   #69
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There is a point where it passes from skepticism and healthy discussion and becomes asshattery. And that point seems to come often.
This Fuzzy contribution to this thread, to elevate things?
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:25 AM   #70
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Take SS for example. Explain it to me, I don't get it. Is it to help secure a basic retirement for the lowest of the working class (those that would need it the most)? If so, then why do the people who make the most money get the highest benefit? Shouldn't it be just the other way around? So what 'problem' is it trying to solve?
-ERD50
You are certainly not alone in your thinking ERD50.... and your logic is not flawed a bit. SS, as I have said in other postings is basically a giant Ponzi scam or pyramid scheme if you will. They take several peoples money that contribute into the system, and as long as there are many fewer people taking out than putting in, the system works just fine. But what happens when the number of contributers goes down, and the receivers go up? Well... that would be the exact situation that we have now, with the system having a hard time keeping solvent.
As a younger worker I HATE not being able to opt out of SS. It is a system I do not want to use, and worse still... it may have no benefit for me at all when I get to my own retirement. As to what "problem" is SS trying to solve? That one is easy ERD50. The truth is that SS is a way to help apease a gulity concience. (where there should not be one I might add) There are many people in america that truly beleive that they should never be happy, or have anything of value, while anyone else is suffering anywhere at any time. Whether these folks did it to themselves or not is of no concern to them. SS moves in the direction of the govt must help everyone, and that is the direction that they want to go. The most ironic thing that I have found though, is that those who preach how great SS is and all of the other social programs are, seem to benefit the most from them. If you ever told them that those LESS fortunate than they are need more from them personally, the illusion is broken. Sort of like people that say they want anarchy, and then call the police when their place is broken into. The truth is... they want anarchy for THEM but everone else has to follow the law. Sort of the same thing with folks that preach socialism I have found. I think capitalism is a far superior system, and I preach it for everyone to use, not just some of us.
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:10 AM   #71
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This Fuzzy contribution to this thread, to elevate things?
Actually that was back a few posts.

I certainly could not hope to rise past the level of suggesting that someones ideas were hypocrisy and delusional.
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:09 AM   #72
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SS, as I have said in other postings is basically a giant Ponzi scam or pyramid scheme if you will. They take several peoples money that contribute into the system, and as long as there are many fewer people taking out than putting in, the system works just fine. But what happens when the number of contributers goes down, and the receivers go up? Well... that would be the exact situation that we have now, with the system having a hard time keeping solvent.
As a younger worker I HATE not being able to opt out of SS. It is a system I do not want to use, and worse still... it may have no benefit for me at all when I get to my own retirement.
It's not the govt's fault when you were born........

Quote:
As to what "problem" is SS trying to solve? That one is easy ERD50. The truth is that SS is a way to help apease a gulity concience. (where there should not be one I might add) There are many people in america that truly beleive that they should never be happy, or have anything of value, while anyone else is suffering anywhere at any time. Whether these folks did it to themselves or not is of no concern to them. SS moves in the direction of the govt must help everyone, and that is the direction that they want to go. The most ironic thing that I have found though, is that those who preach how great SS is and all of the other social programs are, seem to benefit the most from them. If you ever told them that those LESS fortunate than they are need more from them personally, the illusion is broken. Sort of like people that say they want anarchy, and then call the police when their place is broken into. The truth is... they want anarchy for THEM but everone else has to follow the law. Sort of the same thing with folks that preach socialism I have found. I think capitalism is a far superior system, and I preach it for everyone to use, not just some of us.
The problem SS was trying to "solve" was in 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression. Today's "problem" is different from then.........

Further proof that when grandiose social program legislation is approved, it becomes more and more difficult to modify and control it's size and influence..........

SS is now a three-headed Medusa that even the most well-meaning politician won't touch if they want to get re-eelected.........

To me, Medicare is the biggest problem, not SS.......
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:58 PM   #73
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People throw parties when their coworkers retire. Sometimes they invite the person.
Is the SS system an old model still trying to solve the problem of the 1930's? And is it therefore not a suitable model for the 21st century?
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Old 11-12-2007, 02:21 PM   #74
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It's not the govt's fault when you were born........



The problem SS was trying to "solve" was in 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression. Today's "problem" is different from then.........

Further proof that when grandiose social program legislation is approved, it becomes more and more difficult to modify and control it's size and influence..........

SS is now a three-headed Medusa that even the most well-meaning politician won't touch if they want to get re-eelected.........

To me, Medicare is the biggest problem, not SS.......
Medicare is exactly the same thing, and it will operate the exact same way for the exact same reasons. And you are right no politician on the left or right wants to touch it, because to FIX it... (dismantle it) will cause great pain to one group or another that now depends on it. Which for me begs the obvious question, why was it allowed to get to this state? Why? Because there are always those people looking for something for nothing. Those who continue to believe that there is such a thing as a "free lunch". The reality is... someone always has to pay for YOUR free lunch. Although most of the people that do the "eating" seem not to care who the payer is, as long as that bill gets paid.
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Old 11-12-2007, 03:24 PM   #75
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Is the SS system an old model still trying to solve the problem of the 1930's? And is it therefore not a suitable model for the 21st century?
Not sure what that has to do with the line you quoted, but hell, why not?

The 'problem' that social security 'solved' in its day was that people rarely retired and often worked until they dropped, providing they could actually find work. The work they did find was often grueling. The very old who had no families to care for them often lived in group homes and pooled their meager funds to get by, and frequently died well before they should have.

We decided as a society to "take the next step" and help people save for their eventual old age, since people stunk at doing so themselves.

They still stink at it.

Will we take a step back from that goal to help prevent the short sighted masses from suffering in poverty and dying?

Lets also quit on that public education thing too. Dang people shouldnt have children if they cant afford to educate them. That'd work out great for people without children. Until about 20 years went by.

Its obviously a displeasing discovery that people who make good choices and plan well have to bail out those who dont. But thats what this One Nation, Indivisible, Promoting The General Welfare and all that sort of stuff means I suppose.

I can understand how someone who feels they can take care of themselves and their own would want to remove themselves from those that cant or wont. Vote with your mouth and if majority rule is not to ones liking, vote with your feet.
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:07 PM   #76
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We decided as a society to "take the next step" and help people save for their eventual old age, since people stunk at doing so themselves.

They still stink at it.
Well, I think we are on to something meaningful now.

I actually agree, and some of the 'opposing' posts have driven it home a bit for me (I am not kidding when I say I throw out these challenges to learn).

The sad reality is that a bunch of people are going to need help, and IMO, it is in the 'common good' to do something about it. Since we don't live in a perfect world where everyone is suddenly going to get smart overnight, and responsibly save for retirement, the govt probably should have a hand in it, somehow.... Education should at least be a part of it.

What gets me going though, is the inferences that some people make (not saying you are one of them CFB), that things like SS are paying out more than what goes in - a 'benefit'. It just strikes me as disingenuous to not see it for what it is - a redistribution of wealth.

And I don't even have a problem with redistribution of wealth, in fact, I support it - I can 'afford' a higher tax rate than the guy making half what I do. Just call it what it is, and then figure out how to do it efficiently and effectively. I don't want the govt to waste the money they collect with all sorts of conflicting, counter-productive programs that require a high cost of compliance.

But seeing that stat that Congress has passed on average, over 2 tax code changes every day of every year from 1986-2005, and their three-stooges attempts at an 'energy policy'.... well, it seems futile doesn't it?

That doesn't mean I have to like it though....

-ERD50
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:22 PM   #77
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Redistribution of wealth is going on right now in South America at the hands of a "thug". So since you suport taking someone else hard earned money to give it to some one whom maybe did not want to put the effort into working hard and planning for there own future. At the very least you should give more of your personal money to the government for redistribution & let me choose what charity I will give to.
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:40 PM   #78
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The "pro" of letting everyone fend for themselves is clear: People will be more motivated to produce--a lot--if there's no safety net under them and if they get to keep more of what they earn.

The "con" of this approach is a little less clear to those of us who favor limited government. But, it is real and history has shown it repeatedly. A complete "hands-off" approach by government leads to some fairly wild economic cycles, and it also leads to the rich taking advantage of their money to leverage the work of others (exactly what we all do when we invest in stocks). The result is a growing number of very poor people over time. Now, even if you believe that this is the natural order of things, it's not a good thing for a very pragmatic reason--people who are envious and who do not believe they have a hope of advancing their interests through hard work will eventually take from those who have more. They may do it legally (by voting for a socialist or communist system or increasingly confiscatory taxation) or they may do it illegally through rioting. Our own country came very close to instituting socialism in the 1930s, and the CPUSA and socialist parties were very influential in the 1920s through the 1940s. In fact, FDR's actions to increase labor rights and the moderate steps toward socialism encompassed in the New Deal did a lot to take the wind out of the more extreme leftist elements. Some of the nations of Europe stuck to "pure capitalism" longer than we did, spurred the growth of socialism and saddled them with the mess "utopia" they have now.

As long as we have a democracy, the people can vote to take the property of others. Unless we have a police state, they'll be able to riot to accomplish the same thing. Moderate redistributions of wealth serve as a painful but necessary mechanism to enable capitalism to continue in the real world. Which is good for everyone, because heavy-handed collectivism just leads to a descending spiral of poverty for the whole society.
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Old 11-12-2007, 06:10 PM   #79
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Bill T & samclem, yes - it's all about striking a balance.

Of course, reasonable people (as well as unreasonable people!) will disagree on where that balance should be, but that's about it.

Even if the balance fell outside of where I thought it should be, I'd still be much happier if we just had some clarity, understanding, education and reasonable expectations about what it can and cannot accomplish. I'd prefer that to the mish-mash-smoke-and-mirrors-labyrinth that we have today.

Quote:
even if you believe that this is the natural order of things, it's not a good thing for a very pragmatic reason--people who are envious and who do not believe they have a hope of advancing their interests through hard work will eventually take from those who have more.
samclem, just have to add a comment to that. It is something I have also thought about - and it is a very powerful statement if one thinks about the implications. It can be applied to all sorts of scenarios.

Is there some author/philosopher or work that uses that as a theme? Probably zillions of them if I think about it long enough...

Anyhow, thanks for those posts - very interesting.

-ERD50
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Old 11-12-2007, 06:14 PM   #80
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The "pro" of letting everyone fend for themselves is clear: People will be more motivated to produce--a lot--if there's no safety net under them and if they get to keep more of what they earn.

The "con" of this approach is a little less clear to those of us who favor limited government. But, it is real and history has shown it repeatedly. A complete "hands-off" approach by government leads to some fairly wild economic cycles, and it also leads to the rich taking advantage of their money to leverage the work of others (exactly what we all do when we invest in stocks). The result is a growing number of very poor people over time. Now, even if you believe that this is the natural order of things, it's not a good thing for a very pragmatic reason--people who are envious and who do not believe they have a hope of advancing their interests through hard work will eventually take from those who have more. They may do it legally (by voting for a socialist or communist system or increasingly confiscatory taxation) or they may do it illegally through rioting. Our own country came very close to instituting socialism in the 1930s, and the CPUSA and socialist parties were very influential in the 1920s through the 1940s. In fact, FDR's actions to increase labor rights and the moderate steps toward socialism encompassed in the New Deal did a lot to take the wind out of the more extreme leftist elements. Some of the nations of Europe stuck to "pure capitalism" longer than we did, spurred the growth of socialism and saddled them with the mess "utopia" they have now.

As long as we have a democracy, the people can vote to take the property of others. Unless we have a police state, they'll be able to riot to accomplish the same thing. Moderate redistributions of wealth serve as a painful but necessary mechanism to enable capitalism to continue in the real world. Which is good for everyone, because heavy-handed collectivism just leads to a descending spiral of poverty for the whole society.
Like ERD50 I too really do challenge people to learn other points of view. I am sincere in this, and hope no one takes anything that I might say as a personal attack, because it is not meant to be. Really interesting point of view Samclem!
So basically what you are saying (and I must admit, I really never thought about it this way). Is that all of these social programs are basically a means of pacifying the masses? Almost like the government paying protection money to those who choose not to earn for themselves. Sadly.... I cannot fault the logic of your arguement. I would like to believe that a majority of people that are given the choice, would rather earn their keep then sit on their butts and be dictated to. But you might be right.
If that is all true, then I guess a better question might be. what percentage of a free society can be like that before you run the risk of rioters getting the upper hand? It is certainly true that if a whole city decided to riot and take whatever they wanted by force that no police force could stop it. Then again people that have something to loose (ie property, money, etc) tend not to riot in the first place. A very interesting counterpoint that I never really thought about... thanks for pointing it out...
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