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Old 08-19-2008, 05:05 PM   #161
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I guess I was thinking of the UK and European countries as to safety.

I don't believe rights can be abused.
That's just illogical. Something either is a right, or it isn't.

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Is it really so far fetched to think that in one of the freest countries on earth that you will have the most abusers of that freedom as well? I would think they would go hand in hand.
Following this logic, the place with the most people locked up is the most "free"?

I don't want to derail this into whole 'nother discussion.. I was more thinking about taxation and what benefits people actually percieve for the monies spent. The statistics might indicate that:
- people in the US are 5x more violent/dangerous/criminal than anywhere else?
- people are 5x safer in the US than than anywhere else?
- people are wasting 5x as much money on prisons as anywhere else?
- a combination?

It's just one area of expenditure that might be questionable and should be examined, given its stark overemphasis.
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Old 08-19-2008, 05:53 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by Abreutime View Post
This makes sense. I just have a couple points to make, with which you may not be in complete agreement. First, I think the US has become less "free" in recent years. The War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and the the War in Iraq (hey, I needed a third war to lament) have slowly chipped away at our freedoms. This came about after 9/11, as more and more people seemed quite willing to give up freedom for security. I'm not going to quote Benjamin Franklin here (just reference his quote ), but my hope is that people re-evaluate what it means to be a citizen of a country, and the role that government should play in their lives.
This is the oft-stated view, and it is true that we should guard our freedoms jealously and be ever vigilant about preserving them. Still, I think the "chipping away" of freedoms has been vastly overstated. Is anyone really afraid to criticize the government? Is anyone really afraid of getting "disappeared?" Have the new laws significantly hindered Americans from doing things they want to do? Frankly, I'm not too concerned if a foreign national gets delayed upon trying to enter the US if his/her documentation is not right. I don't care that those wanting to transfer $100K in cash have to show some ID. I don't mind walking through a metal detector before getting on an aircraft. These are just not significant losses of freedom.
Consider what will happen if there is another big terrorist attack--the public will demand a lot of highly intrusive security measures. Those who brayed and moaned about the common-sense measures now in place will lose all credibility and will be seen as at least partially to blame for the successful attack. In such an environment, imagine how things will go. Preventing such an attack is in everyone's interest, especially those worried most about the preservation of civil liberties.

It makes good sense to analyze the situation and weigh the pros and cons of any changes before railing against some very minor security measures. After all, we've always had restrictions, it's just a matter of degree.
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:06 PM   #163
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Tex may be so studly that he has never faced this demand. But as a lesser gent I have at times felt the bite of the P-tax.

Ha
Sinking to the level of personal attacks now are we?
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:11 PM   #164
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This thread has clearly sunk to Soapbox level...
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:34 PM   #165
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This thread has clearly sunk to Soapbox level...
I hadn't noticed till you pointed it out - I just assumed that it was!
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:48 PM   #166
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I don't want to derail this into whole 'nother discussion..
Awww, why not? It has happened to a number of threads lately, why not this one?

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The statistics might indicate that:
- people in the US are 5x more violent/dangerous/criminal than anywhere else?
- people are 5x safer in the US than than anywhere else?
- people are wasting 5x as much money on prisons as anywhere else?
- a combination?
I choose: ' a combination? '. I keep falling back on Ockam's Razor, and it seems to serve me well. I do think that ' a combination? ' is the simplest, most correct answer.

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This is the oft-stated view, and it is true that we should guard our freedoms jealously and be ever vigilant about preserving them. Still, I think the "chipping away" of freedoms has been vastly overstated. Is anyone really afraid to criticize the government? Is anyone really afraid of getting "disappeared?" Have the new laws significantly hindered Americans from doing things they want to do?
I probably have related this story before, but one day I had a long conversation with my brother's FIL. He escaped from a communist controlled country in the early 60's (late 50's?). He told me about how his dissident Uncle's got 'disappeared'. He told me things that literally had my hair standing on end. I just shake my head when people get all worked up over perceived 'intrusions' into their privacy these days. Like some google adsense thing is going to make someone close to you disappear overnight. Get a grip.

As samclem says, we need to be vigilant. But we also need some perspective. I get up every morning, and pretty much do whatever the 'eff' I please, as long as it isn't interfering with someone else's freedoms. And I ask the same in return. I like it that way.

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This thread has clearly sunk to Soapbox level...
well, ummm, OK, you're right! Or has it 'risen' to that level

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Old 08-19-2008, 09:06 PM   #167
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Its amazing how these threads start off so innocently. Then they blossom into a beautiful flower.
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:12 PM   #168
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So for those in favor of a progressive tax system, what do you think about a state run lottery?

IIRC, lotteries take money disproportionately from the poor, and give little in return. Sounds like a regressive tax to me. Are the Dems ready to abolish lotteries?

Some of the taxes mentioned earlier are flat taxes, not regressive taxes.

Recently, while researching info on SS disability payments (not as hard to qualify for as Martha would have you believe), I was shocked to see them give the example of Ms X winning a lottery as income that would offset their disability payment. Now, why on earth would someone receiving disability payments from me (the govt), be using that money to buy lottery tickets? I don't buy lottery tickets, so why should someone in dire straights use my money to buy lottery tickets?

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11011.html

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For example, a woman living in California gets a $500 Social Security widow’s payment and a $270 SSI payment. In June, she buys a lottery scratch-off card and wins $200 and reports that to the Social Security office.
Arggggghhhhh!!!!!! Are we in the Soap Box yet?


-ERD50
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:14 PM   #169
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... my brother's FIL. He escaped from a communist controlled country in the early 60's (late 50's?). He told me about how his dissident Uncle's got 'disappeared'.-ERD50
Just a quick detour.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died a couple of weeks ago. I am sure some of us have read his popular-then books "The First Circle", and "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". I got them stashed somewhere. Time to read them again.

Sorry for interrupting...

P.S. I meant I will read them again to enjoy his great writing, and to appreciate the life I have had so far.
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:30 PM   #170
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Just a quick detour.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died a couple of weeks ago. I am sure some of us have read his popular-then books "The First Circle", and "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". I got them stashed somewhere. Time to read them again.

Sorry for interrupting...
Not at all... I did see the notices in the news, but had never read him. Sounds like something I would connect with. Almost unbelievable what some people have dealt with in their lives, yet we are 'free' to be in a position to ponder the relative merits of a $4/liter box wine versus a $16/liter bottle of wine. And still, so many of us complain.


Thanks, -ERD50
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:44 PM   #171
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So for those in favor of a progressive tax system, what do you think about a state run lottery?
I'm ok with a progressive tax system; how about a progressive flat tax?

I think lottos are a lousy way to fund the government.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:02 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
So for those in favor of a progressive tax system, what do you think about a state run lottery?

IIRC, lotteries take money disproportionately from the poor, and give little in return. Sounds like a regressive tax to me. Are the Dems ready to abolish lotteries?

Some of the taxes mentioned earlier are flat taxes, not regressive taxes.

Recently, while researching info on SS disability payments (not as hard to qualify for as Martha would have you believe), I was shocked to see them give the example of Ms X winning a lottery as income that would offset their disability payment. Now, why on earth would someone receiving disability payments from me (the govt), be using that money to buy lottery tickets? I don't buy lottery tickets, so why should someone in dire straights use my money to buy lottery tickets?

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11011.html


Arggggghhhhh!!!!!! Are we in the Soap Box yet?


-ERD50
I am confused. What did I say that was hard to quantify?

So you want to direct each penny the disabled spends? Or just no lottery tickets? My autistic brother smokes. It is a really bad idea and makes it hard for him to pay his bills. How are we to stop him from smoking? Tell every store clerk that people on disability don't get to buy smokes? Show me your ID that confirms you are self supporting before you buy a lottery ticket or cigarettes?

Or make sure they don't get enough money to buy these things? Well, they don't have enough money to buy these things, but they do anyway. Life's little pleasures. The dream of a lottery win. The jolt of nicotine.

(I do support free nicotine substitutes and stop smoking programs for the poor. I also think state supported lotteries are a shameful way to raise money).

BTW, I support a progressive tax system.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:18 PM   #173
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BTW, I support a progressive tax system.
Who woulda guessed?

While I don't think it was perfect, I think the tax plan Fred Thompson was pitching had a lot going for it. I wish McCain would say something positive about this idea. (Here's a link to the study upon which Thompson's plan was based)
1) Folks could keep using the present tax system if they wanted (result--significantly increases the chance that this will get through Congress, since every person and group can keep using their pet loophole/incentive if they want)
2) Or, people can choose to use the flatter, simpler tax computation method. No itemized deductions, a high standard deduction ($12.5K for singles, $25K for couples), and a personal exemption of $3k per person (so a family of 4 would pay no tax on their first $37K of income). Cap gains and dividends would be taxed at 15%. All other income up to $50K (singles) $100k (couples) would be taxed at 10%. All income above this level would be taxed at 25%. There would be no other tax credits or deductions for those who choose to use the simplified flat-rate computation.

There were some unanswered questions (e.g do I have to use the old tax computation system to use my Roth money tax-free?), but I think this simple, relatively flat tax would have a realistic chance of passing and garnering some public support. It would sure get more attention than the tax ideas McCain is pushing now (which are miles better than BHO's plans, but hardly anything to capture the public's imagination, either).
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:30 PM   #174
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I'm still amazed that, even with being my normal conservative don't-wanna-get-audited self, our enrolled agent got our AGI down over $50k. Personally, I'd rather have a flat tax even if it meant I might have to pay more.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:34 PM   #175
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I'm still amazed that, even with being my normal conservative don't-wanna-get-audited self, our enrolled agent got our AGI down over $50k. Personally, I'd rather have a flat tax even if it meant I might have to pay more.
Actually I was hoping it would all go back to where everyone was a serf. Then hopefully I would be one of the lucky ones born into some kind of royalty. I could be like the Lord of a manor. Ya that would be nice.

My luck though I would be stuck being the peon.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:37 PM   #176
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I am confused. What did I say that was hard to quantify?
There have been so may threads related to this lately, I forget which one - Obama, this one, or another, but IIRC, somewhere along the line you stated that SS disability payments were only made to people who were totally disabled? Well, it's not that cut and dried. I know someone who has been receiving them for many years, and *no one* who met this person would be thinking 'totally disabled' , or even mildly disabled. True, she may have a hard time holding a 'normal' job, with 'normal' responsibilities and stresses, but that does not fit my description of 'totally disabled'. Everyone that knows her thinks that she must certainly be capable of doing *something*.


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So you want to direct each penny the disabled spends? Or just no lottery tickets? ... Show me your ID that confirms you are self supporting before you buy a lottery ticket or cigarettes?
That thought has crossed my mind. I mean, why not? I don't give a darn if someone who can afford the losses wants to gamble. But if a person is receiving some sot of govt (or private charity) support, they certainly are not in a position to be throwing it away on gambling. I might get upset that it is a waste of my tax dollars, but I'm actually *more* upset that it is hurting their chances of moving forward. Pure economics and 'having a heart' are not always diametrically opposed.

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BTW, I support a progressive tax system.
As do I. I've been on both sides, and I think it is a reasonable approach, if the slope is reasonable. We might not agree on the shape of the curve. But I do want to see most of the money used reasonably well, and lottery tickets does not fit that description for me.

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Old 08-19-2008, 10:39 PM   #177
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Actually I was hoping it would all go back to where everyone was a serf. Then hopefully I would be one of the lucky ones born into some kind of royalty. I could be like the Lord of a manor. Ya that would be nice.

My luck though I would be stuck being the peon.
We have a pretty cool family crest. The story behind it is that we showed some nobility in whatever was Slovakia at the time how to burn special rocks. In exchange for teaching the king about coal and supplying it, we got land and all that.

Sounds like a crock to me, but my aunt's been at this genealogy stuff for a heck of a long time and she seems to know what she's doing.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:48 PM   #178
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We have a pretty cool family crest. The story behind it is that we showed some nobility in whatever was Slovakia at the time how to burn special rocks. In exchange for teaching the king about coal and supplying it, we got land and all that.

Sounds like a crock to me, but my aunt's been at this genealogy stuff for a heck of a long time and she seems to know what she's doing.
Ya ya we all know the rock heating special trick..Move long and bundle up that wheat.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:11 AM   #179
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In exchange for teaching the king about coal and supplying it, we got land and all that.
Nice king!

I thought most of them would just beat the secret out of you. Or, just show you the dungeon tools, and you would sing like a canary.

As for continuously supplying it, they got slave drivers to motivate you along.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:36 AM   #180
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Thompson Plan

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Who woulda guessed?

While I don't think it was perfect, I think the tax plan Fred Thompson was pitching had a lot going for it. I wish McCain would say something positive about this idea. (Here's a link to the study upon which Thompson's plan was based)
1) Folks could keep using the present tax system if they wanted (result--significantly increases the chance that this will get through Congress, since every person and group can keep using their pet loophole/incentive if they want)
2) Or, people can choose to use the flatter, simpler tax computation method. No itemized deductions, a high standard deduction ($12.5K for singles, $25K for couples), and a personal exemption of $3k per person (so a family of 4 would pay no tax on their first $37K of income). Cap gains and dividends would be taxed at 15%. All other income up to $50K (singles) $100k (couples) would be taxed at 10%. All income above this level would be taxed at 25%. There would be no other tax credits or deductions for those who choose to use the simplified flat-rate computation.

......
Why should income above 50K-single 100k-married be taxed at a higher rate? This is still a progressive income tax & discriminatory.

How about this alternative: everybody pay 10% flat on all income (wage, dividend, annuity etc) over 50K - no deductions, no exemptions (no matter how many kids you managed to crank out or what kind of mortgage you got yourself into)?

Or better yet, how 'bout the fed gov dramatically reduce domestic spending, quit getting involved in "foreign entanglements" & we just get rid of the income tax completely (oops, is my RP underwear showing?)
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