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Old 08-10-2011, 05:07 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by jdw_fire View Post

and if you all had read the the post i was responding to and the discussion leading up to it, it should have been obvious that the argument i was making was that the investment of the scheduled profit back into the company would produce an increased expected profit the following year.

i am especially surprised at ERD50 doing it since i was responding to his example (see below) and in that response i followed his premise that the investment back into the company would produce an increase in profit the next and following years.
All I can say is companies run on a year by year basis and don't necessarily make their profit every month like clock work....meaning most don't know if they will turn a profit until well after year end and the accounting is done. They may have a fair idea...but what they don't know is what the last month or two may hold for them. Just like CSCO's...surprise low earnings last year...when they gave the explanation that businesses just did not buy from them and it was unexpected.

So ...how would a company know ahead of time.....what "additional" scheduled profit to spend....before the profit is made and the books closed?
How would you propose companies deal with the unknown of what you are proposing?
Just curious....
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Old 08-10-2011, 05:23 PM   #102
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No, it doesn't. A position is weak because of its merits, not it popularity.

Of course, the same could be said of all the others who continue to make the same points over and over again.
If only one person is on one side and everybody else who is posting is on the other.... it kind of shows a weak argument... if there were merit to it, more people would be on that side...


True, but we are not calling the sky pink....
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Old 08-10-2011, 05:56 PM   #103
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True, but we are not calling the sky pink....
But the sky is pink


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Old 08-10-2011, 05:59 PM   #104
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Such a long thread - so confused because it is a comes calculus involving specific issues either missed or buried in the discussion (as far as I can tell):

1) there is a justice question: should the top. X% pay Z% of the taxes?
-as was mentioned the stats are misleading because while a small percent of the population at the top pays majority of taxes they also make an overwhelming amount by percent of the income- and this income diff between the top and bottom has gotten much bigger than ever
-should those who do so well pay less than the middle class? Percentage wise the top people pay @ lower rates? Some of their ability tondo so well is possible from help from govt(roads, defense, some research and development, etc)
-individuals cannot always be counted on to spend in ways that will benefit- (eg Roads, defense, education) there are shared needs that need shared burden/spending - and at times of great crisis Only very Big Big spenders (govt) can spend enough to create the jobs that wi then ripple into economic recovery- only the govt War spending for WWII was enough to get us out of the Depression. This is a complex move because the govt must get out once recovery takes root and
MUst not borrow so much to stimulate that there is either not enough $ left for others to borrow or money gets devalued by overprinting of the dough. govt revenues can't be zero'd out of the equation-
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:13 PM   #105
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it isnt a huge leap, considering the low growth in GDP and the high unemployment rate, to recognize that those record profits arent being used to increase/update equipment or hire new employees in that company (if they were they wouldnt be profits anymore) thus producing economic/job growth but instead are being obtained by cost cutting (including firing employees). the profits are then just being extracted from, or being held as cash in, the companies, neither of which grows the company or the economy.
I think it helps to identify the problem before trying to think about solutions.

Businesses aren't investing because they see lousy returns for doing so. The existing plant & equipment they own is currently significantly underutilized. If there isn't sufficient demand to fully run the plant they have, there is no reason to build additional plant.

Now that we've identified the problem, how does raising taxes help? Is the business owner more likely to build more plant that he doesn't need to avoid the taxes? Unlikely. Spending a dollar to make unnecessary investments is worse than keeping a dollar and paying any tax less than 100%.

Meanwhile, for any business that does have positive NPV investment projects a higher tax rate makes those projects less profitiable, and therefore less likely to get built.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:14 PM   #106
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If only one person is on one side and everybody else who is posting is on the other.... it kind of shows a weak argument... if there were merit to it, more people would be on that side...
Tired of the first argument and looking for a second one? If all the lemmings run toward the cliff and one steps aside, I'll side with the one.

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Clifp already answered.


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Old 08-10-2011, 06:39 PM   #107
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Such a long thread - so confused because it is a comes calculus involving specific issues either missed or buried in the discussion (as far as I can tell):

1) there is a justice question: should the top. X% pay Z% of the taxes? ....
Actually, the original thread topic was not about that at all (though it has drifted there). And, we were vainly trying to avoid it as that seems to lead to thread closures. It's a great topic, and very relevant to today's world, but it quickly gets a little too 'exciting' for it's own good.

The original topic was a statement from jdw_fire that raising income taxes (while keeping capital gains taxes low) would motivate businesses to invest. What do you think of that, in pure economic terms, 'fairness' aside?

I don't think he's convinced anyone yet, and another poster just added to the opposing view. I'll respond to his recent post later.

-ERD50
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:10 PM   #108
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All I can say is companies run on a year by year basis and don't necessarily make their profit every month like clock work....meaning most don't know if they will turn a profit until well after year end and the accounting is done. They may have a fair idea...but what they don't know is what the last month or two may hold for them. Just like CSCO's...surprise low earnings last year...when they gave the explanation that businesses just did not buy from them and it was unexpected.

So ...how would a company know ahead of time.....what "additional" scheduled profit to spend....before the profit is made and the books closed?
How would you propose companies deal with the unknown of what you are proposing?
Just curious....
that is a good point. if a business owner doesnt know if his company is going to make a profit in time to reinvest it (or doesnt feel comfy reinvesting its already made profit because the last few months of the year are unclear) then he will probably not do as much reinvestment as he would in that year if he was more confident in how much profit his company will make.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:42 PM   #109
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that is a good point. if a business owner doesnt know if his company is going to make a profit in time to reinvest it (or doesnt feel comfy reinvesting its already made profit because the last few months of the year are unclear) then he will probably not do as much reinvestment as he would in that year if he was more confident in how much profit his company will make.
O.K. so you see what I was getting at there. That is the business risk and the unknown.
Next question: Companies are keeping their money and not reinvesting (according to some of your statements). Put another way, large companies are sitting on trillions of dollars of cash. Listened to some commentary tonight...and it's not the first time this has been discussed....but one reason they are sitting on cash...is that they see a drop in the demand for their products and services...etc. It is a global drop in demand and the projections don't look good.

How is a business going to want to invest in its company when they see a drop in the demand for what they sell?

Ex: If you made cars....and let's say you made 1000 last year, sold 998 of them and made a good profit. But let's say you already know the demand for cars is going to be lower the next year. Would you hire someone and make 1200 cars, would you cut hours and make 800 of them or would you keep hours the same and still make only 800?
Keep in mind if you don't sell all of them the value of your inventory goes up and reduces your profit. (via inventory adjustments). Your "profit" is sitting in the warehouse or on the showroom floor.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:36 PM   #110
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All I can say is companies run on a year by year basis and don't necessarily make their profit every month like clock work....meaning most don't know if they will turn a profit until well after year end and the accounting is done. They may have a fair idea...but what they don't know is what the last month or two may hold for them. Just like CSCO's...surprise low earnings last year...when they gave the explanation that businesses just did not buy from them and it was unexpected.


Just curious....
Having spent some time in a couple of major oil companies they do monthly reports on how the budget is spent in each business unit down to the individual supervisor (and also rolled up) as well as having an idea what the volumes sold and price per unit is. So at least in that kind of business you have some idea of what the month by month figures look like. Then you react by comparing the actuals to the plan and modify accordingly. Now this is likely a big company thing, although I suspect that with Quicken or the like a small business person could get the same sort of info, as well as compare this year to last year. Of course if you do things the old fashioned way then ...
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:18 PM   #111
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Having spent some time in a couple of major oil companies they do monthly reports on how the budget is spent in each business unit down to the individual supervisor (and also rolled up) as well as having an idea what the volumes sold and price per unit is. So at least in that kind of business you have some idea of what the month by month figures look like. Then you react by comparing the actuals to the plan and modify accordingly. Now this is likely a big company thing, although I suspect that with Quicken or the like a small business person could get the same sort of info, as well as compare this year to last year. Of course if you do things the old fashioned way then ...
Granted....and I think I did say "they have a fair idea" and that there can be surprises. Oil demand...might also be a bit easier to determine meaning the demand is certainly there.

And perhaps I am speaking too much from my experience in our small family business (although our sales are in the multi millions so not sure how small it is), and not enough as it relates to mega corps. We do not know how well we are doing ...until mid December. That is because we do not make that profit until the last 3 months of the year with sales in November and December being the ones that make or break us. Until then we are maintaining and "eating" cash from monthly sales and then some. I recognize this may not be the same for all businesses but it is for some....including most all types of retailers...I would think. In fact Christmas sales make or break a lot of retailers.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:54 PM   #112
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. i am especially surprised at ERD50 doing it since i was responding to his example (see below) and in that response i followed his premise that the investment back into the company would produce an increase in profit the next and following years.
jdw - I responded that your example was flawed, as it ignored the after-tax value of the profits. You can't ignore the after-tax values, in a discussion on the effects of tax rates! I gave the following example in post #69 - (I added a few notes in "()" for clarity in this context and some underlining for emphasis. Note that we agreed that the increased profits would increase the business value at a 10x rate), showing the effects of tax rates:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
So, in the CASE L (25% tax rates), the after-tax added profit from investment is $88K*.75= $66,000 and the business value would increase by 10x = $660,000 .

So, in the CASE H (50% tax rates), the after-tax added profit from investment is $88K*.50= $44,000 and the business value would increase by 10x = $440,000.
The above shows that at higher tax rates, the business persons income is lower (a demotivator), and that the value of added investment in the business is lower (a demotivator).

You said in post #71:
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this isnt correct. the taxes due on the business' profit by the potential buyer of the business may influence whether that buyer does in fact buy it but when the business owner is do an analysis of his/her business to determine its value for sale a business owner doesnt include the personal income taxes s/he would be paying on the profit if s/he still owned it.
And I responded in post #74:
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The only value that 'counts' is what someone will pay you for it. The new owner certainly will value the business on the ongoing after-tax profit that can be realized from the investment. Just like my muni example. And for as apples-to-apples comparison as we can make, it makes sense to say the 25% and 50% tax rates would apply to the new owner as well.

What are you saying? That we have to assume the new owner pays no taxes on income? That doesn't seem to favor your position.
Maybe you missed all that in the flurry of posts and cross-quoting. I tried to break it out here as concisely as I could, so hopefully it is clear. So, how can higher tax rates motivate a business person to invest in their business more than lower tax rates would, when those higher tax rates bring fewer $ into their pocket, whether they sell their business or not?

-ERD50
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:18 AM   #113
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Granted....and I think I did say "they have a fair idea" and that there can be surprises. Oil demand...might also be a bit easier to determine meaning the demand is certainly there.

And perhaps I am speaking too much from my experience in our small family business (although our sales are in the multi millions so not sure how small it is), and not enough as it relates to mega corps. We do not know how well we are doing ...until mid December. That is because we do not make that profit until the last 3 months of the year with sales in November and December being the ones that make or break us. Until then we are maintaining and "eating" cash from monthly sales and then some. I recognize this may not be the same for all businesses but it is for some....including most all types of retailers...I would think. In fact Christmas sales make or break a lot of retailers.
Granted that retailers generally don't break even until black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). I suspect the difference relates to monthly sales rates and that for example the grocery business might show less seasonality than other retail. The new car sales business might also be different, since they have to work hard to sell cars in Dec.
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:32 AM   #114
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So I think it would be difficult to argue that higher taxes will stimulate the economy...what MIGHT stimulate it is lots of government spending-say on infrastructure projects...those will get jobs to construction workers who will then buy stuff and demand will go up and businesses will see demand going up and increase hiring and thus more jobs, etc...in severe downturns the private businesses tend to do what they are doing now--sit on the sidelines..only the fat thumb of BIG government spending can overcome the inertia...
what higher taxes do is allow the government to have money to pump in without printing more (which would blunt the benefits of the spending by devaluing the money) and without borrowing more (which makes it harder for business to borrow or more expensive for them to borrow which sidelines those businesses as much as they are now by fear and uncertainty)
The only way we got out of the Great Depression was BIG spending- on the war- the New Deal failed because it was not big enough (just as Obama's stimulus was not big enough of a push to clear the ditch) and just as happened in 1938- the Republicans said-enough spending- lets stop and balance the books now--it was the wrong move and pushed the recovery back into the ditch (until war spending finally created the oomph the economy needed)
the recent stimulus- prevented a heart attach but I suspect only a new transfusion is getting this patient out of bed and moving around so it can get back in shape. That blood transfusion needs to come from the healthy-

and dont discount the importance of appearances.. tell me why Hedge fund billionaires dont share in the tax burden at all again? How is that healthy? Their contribution alone wont solve the problem -but getting the squeegee guys off the street corners did not solve all of NYC's streetlife problems--but doing so created an atmosphere where people felt more positive about the city and helped transform and improve NYC...fixing tax inequities would help everyone.
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:27 AM   #115
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So I think it would be difficult to argue that higher taxes will stimulate the economy...what MIGHT stimulate it is lots of government spending-say on infrastructure projects...those will get jobs to construction workers who will then buy stuff and demand will go up and businesses will see demand going up and increase hiring and thus more jobs, etc...in severe downturns the private businesses tend to do what they are doing now--sit on the sidelines..only the fat thumb of BIG government spending can overcome the inertia...
what higher taxes do is allow the government to have money to pump in without printing more (which would blunt the benefits of the spending by devaluing the money) and without borrowing more (which makes it harder for business to borrow or more expensive for them to borrow which sidelines those businesses as much as they are now by fear and uncertainty)
The only way we got out of the Great Depression was BIG spending- on the war- the New Deal failed because it was not big enough (just as Obama's stimulus was not big enough of a push to clear the ditch) and just as happened in 1938- the Republicans said-enough spending- lets stop and balance the books now--it was the wrong move and pushed the recovery back into the ditch (until war spending finally created the oomph the economy needed)
the recent stimulus- prevented a heart attach but I suspect only a new transfusion is getting this patient out of bed and moving around so it can get back in shape. That blood transfusion needs to come from the healthy-

and dont discount the importance of appearances.. tell me why Hedge fund billionaires dont share in the tax burden at all again? How is that healthy? Their contribution alone wont solve the problem -but getting the squeegee guys off the street corners did not solve all of NYC's streetlife problems--but doing so created an atmosphere where people felt more positive about the city and helped transform and improve NYC...fixing tax inequities would help everyone.
I'm just not certain it is wise to have the government in control of more revenues or for what is needed by the private sector as they have proven time and time again, they don't know what they are doing. What they have done has not worked so why repeat it? We have several wars going on and those have not helped. Makes a little sense when one looks at the economy like a business cycle. There have to be ups and downs. Many have argued we have to come down before we go back up. They need to let housing bottom instead of shoring it up. Will it be painful? Absolutely. Should it be allowed to deleverage slowly? Yes...or it will shock the system even more.
If the massive defense cuts being discussed materialize, some of that can be routed to stimulate the economy in other areas. Just seems like it may be a matter of routing the "existing" revenue for the most good....rather than "more revenue".
Some things appear to be fairly simple...on the surface...such as reducing corporate tax rates, allowing the megacorps to bring their money back to the U.S. to stimulate more job growth here....moving their headquarters back and so they can compete globally. I suppose it is difficult for me to see why the things that can be done without raising taxes...or are not that protectionist.....are not done. But if I could understand that I'd probably be in politics!
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:57 AM   #116
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US corporate tax "RATES" are high- but taxes paid by US corporations are not--similar to the "rates" we tax the wealthiest incomes--the effective rate- the rates actually paid are much lower- 55% of US corps pay ZERO fed taxes in at least one of a seven year period studied. The average effective rate is around 27% (lower than Germany which has been very successful) and the average effective rate on incomes of the wealthy is 17% (less than the 25% paid by the upper middle class without the loopholes to exploit)- so there are opportunities to fix the broken windows in the system (this refers to the broken window theory in that when a house ahs broken windows it creates and encourages a general sense of disorder and lawlessness that makes other problems worse-- a little thing like fixing the windows/ the appearance can lead to other improvements)
Also you cannot compare the spending on our two wars to the WWII level of government infusion into the economy. The percent of GDP spent durin WWI was over 50%--income taxes were raised and yet the economy grew, unemployment fell and personal income rose....this is what SHORT TERM can happen with large infusinos of government money--but it needs to be for something real - like a bridge or a road that will benefit many for decades - and it needs to expire- go away after the inertia is overcome the government needs to take its hands off the vehicle and let it roll.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:03 AM   #117
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I have a metaphor-You can live in a beautiful house that you build yourself. You tend the meticulously landscaped grounds. You work to maintain it. How much is it worth? What have you got- if it cannot be reached by a road? If you have no electricity or water or sewer lines? No school district? All of those things can be and probably are best built by a collective contribution by those in the area-- and in building those things the value of the property is much higher than it would be without that collective effort. You could avoid paying any taxes. Keep the money yourself. Build your own septic tank...maybe you could drill down to some water source and generate your own electricity. Home school your kids...But I doubt the value of such a property is higher than one where a collective effort by some institution ( a governing body- let's call it a government) gathers and WISELY invests that money in projects that benefit all - by making what they have more valuable than they could make on their own.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:21 AM   #118
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Yup... I agree with that assessment.



Uh uh... oh, of course no one wants to be taxed into oblivion. But that level hasn't been discussed... at least not yet.

It is purely about the economic fear (another recession or stagnation) and the level of business opportunity they have right now. If they can squeak by with their current workforce level or delay expenditures/expenses... that is what they will do it... most businesses are not adding employees unless they absolutely have to do it.
Maybe businesses are waiting to see what happens when the Bush tax cuts expire, are we going back to "pre-Bush" or substantially higher taxes than that?

If I were a CFO of a Fortune 500 company, I would be defensive not offensive. It would be quite easy to stockpile cash and short-term marketable securities while fending off the small group of shareholders screaming for you to use some of that cash. Since nearly all Fortune 500 companies are acting similarly, a pretty easy position to defend. If some are using free cash flow, it is to build facilities in countries that have much lower corporate tax rates than the US, of which they are MANY countries to choose from, and most have little expatriation risk...........
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:37 AM   #119
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Having spent some time in a couple of major oil companies they do monthly reports on how the budget is spent in each business unit down to the individual supervisor (and also rolled up) as well as having an idea what the volumes sold and price per unit is. So at least in that kind of business you have some idea of what the month by month figures look like. Then you react by comparing the actuals to the plan and modify accordingly. Now this is likely a big company thing, although I suspect that with Quicken or the like a small business person could get the same sort of info, as well as compare this year to last year. Of course if you do things the old fashioned way then ...
Having just ended a career in a middle sized company (half billion/year in revenue), we did the same thing WRT costs, price & volume, but it's been impossible to predict some of our major costs long term. Over the past decade:
  • Energy costs have flucuated beyond what we could predict which impacts the cost of all other raw materials and services. This has provided windfalls when energy costs drop, but forced extreme austerity measures when energy costs increased radically.
  • Beyond energy, raw material costs have been very hard to predict. Costs dropped during the recession as expected. But in the years following the chemical industry took so much capacity out of service (or devoted to other products) that we were been faced with force majeure over and over (followed by unprecedented price increases, scarcity) despite purchasing less much less than we did in 5 years ago. I doubt everyone predicted that, though I don't doubt major oil would be ahead of that curve through size/resources alone (not suggesting anything sinister at all).
  • And less so, but health care cost increases which subsided somewhat about 15-20 years ago, have started to increase at about 10% a year again. Admittedly, we can predict that but...
  • ...passing along price increases with over capacity everywhere is nearly impossible. While the media talks about companies sitting on piles of cash, there are many more companies who are working on razor thin margins and willing to do so just to keep the ship whole. Even though we can predict our costs somewhat, when you can't pass along price increases, it doesn't help much. Passing on price increases doesn't seem to be a problem with major oil, but an exception among industries I suspect.
My point is, predicting profits is not nearly as easy as the OP suggests...a basic flaw in assumptions.
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Old 08-11-2011, 11:28 AM   #120
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US corporate tax "RATES" are high- but taxes paid by US corporations are not--similar to the "rates" we tax the wealthiest incomes--the effective rate- the rates actually paid are much lower- 55% of US corps pay ZERO fed taxes in at least one of a seven year period studied. The average effective rate is around 27% (lower than Germany which has been very successful) and the average effective rate on incomes of the wealthy is 17% (less than the 25% paid by the upper middle class without the loopholes to exploit)- so there are opportunities to fix the broken windows in the system (this refers to the broken window theory in that when a house ahs broken windows it creates and encourages a general sense of disorder and lawlessness that makes other problems worse-- a little thing like fixing the windows/ the appearance can lead to other improvements)
Also you cannot compare the spending on our two wars to the WWII level of government infusion into the economy. The percent of GDP spent durin WWI was over 50%--income taxes were raised and yet the economy grew, unemployment fell and personal income rose....this is what SHORT TERM can happen with large infusinos of government money--but it needs to be for something real - like a bridge or a road that will benefit many for decades - and it needs to expire- go away after the inertia is overcome the government needs to take its hands off the vehicle and let it roll.
It would seem that for any corporation to pay ZERO in taxes, that corporation has enough deductions, depreciation and tax credits that bring their profit to zero. Now ...when one thinks about this ...one might realize that all those credits and/or depreciation for capital equipment either 179 or otherwise and/or other loop holes go into the "economy to stimulate growth".
So the question becomes which do we want? Do we want all the tax credits and depreciation and/or so called loop holes to go away which results perhaps in corporations paying more effective tax but leads to less economic stimulation because the corporations won't buy things or do things that stimulate the economy...or do you want it similar to the way it is today...where the corporations get some benefit via the reduced taxation granted them by the federal government for doing their part in stimulating the economy. We can't have both IMHO.
We should be reminded that "for every action there is a reaction" and "consequence".
Now that said, it is extremely "one sided" to present one side of the data by saying they pay zero in taxes. The other side of that are the reasons why...and what those reasons stimulate. They stimulate the economy.
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