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Taxing the richest

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9 hours ago, Nic said:

Correct, now lets get back to topic.:)

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/12/wealth-inequality-reasons-richest-global-gap

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/how-do-taxes-affect-income-inequality

None of us here (myself included) are experts in economics. but we can all see that there is a problem and its one for the politicians to solve.

I would like to point out that wealth inequality in itself is not a problem, or at least I don't see why it would be (I am always happy to learn). For example, one could argue that to cut poverty in half one necessarily needs to increase the wealth inequality beyond the current amount. I don't see that this argument could be reasonably made, but if so, it would be difficult to say that wealth inequality is a problem on its own rights.

IMHO, the problem is poverty and the lack of wealth increase in the lower income fractions of the population despite the increase of productivity of the entire society.

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That's a powerful story Rocky and well told but I don't think you're alone. In my late twenties I spent a year travelling around America on a secondhand motorbike and sleeping rough in a tent. I wasn't poor but just liked to travel that way. I was amazed at the number of people I met who were living in poverty in what was then the richest country on Earth. Sometimes it would just be a mother and child living in the back of a van trying to get by, sometimes it would be whole communities living in tents in the woods, other times it would just be trailer park folk that weren't really that much better off. The weird thing was that no-one questioned the "American dream" that they clearly weren't a part of. I guess some might of worked their way out of their situation but I'd expect most didn't. 

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1 hour ago, RockyTop said:

Many of the homeless are homeless because of drugs and or mental problems, likely caused by drugs.

That looks like just flat out wrong, missing the point that correlation is not causation.

What is blatantly obvious is that people are homeless because they don't have money. What is less obvious and probably true is that mental health is a relevant causal factor for becoming homeless as well.

I don't know that the main cause of mental health issues is abuse of drugs. I haven't checked the literature lately, but I still believe I would know if it were the case. The last time I checked the cause for the majority of mental health issues was considered multifactorial or unknown.

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1 hour ago, Mono said:

That looks like just flat out wrong, missing the point that correlation is not causation.

What is blatantly obvious is that people are homeless because they don't have money. What is less obvious and probably true is that mental health is a relevant causal factor for becoming homeless as well.

I don't know that the main cause of mental health issues is abuse of drugs. I haven't checked the literature lately, but I still believe I would know if it were the case. The last time I checked the cause for the majority of mental health issues was considered multifactorial or unknown.

As @mike_bike_kite pointed out many people are just poor. They don’t know what to do to get out. 

We have government housing. Most people qualify as long as they don’t destroy the place. 

You can watch one documentary after another where they give people houses and they just walk away from them. Others destroy them. 

Many more are helped and do well in life. 

Edited by RockyTop

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Like @RockyTop, I've been homeless briefly, although in my case twice in my life. The misery of being homeless, plus a lot of luck and minor help from family members, quickly made me get off my lazy ass and hustle. I wonder if everyone should be homeless as a right of passage.

Going back to topic, "should the rich be taxed", isn't the right question. Here's the right question:

Do you give more in handouts to the rich than you get back in taxes from them?

And it's a stupid simple question to answer, with the result that people who defend not taxing the rich must be willfully ignorant (or just stupid). It's probably no coincidence that California baby boomers who don't pay property taxes to finance their infrastructure complain how lazy Millennials are, despite these same Millennials paying a higher effective tax rate in order to fund the Baby Boomers' housing, medical, and Social Security checks. 

Let's take a hypothetical anchor store, like a Walmart. They ask the local government to build and pay for the infrastructure, and usually some tax break. If the tax money raised is less than the cost the local government put into building the infrastructure, then either don't build the damned infrastructure OR raise the tax rate!

Amazon is owned by a billionaire who pays no taxes, because he uses tax law and subsidies (for example, the new HQ that demands 2.5 billion dollars from local governments) to not only avoid paying taxes but to get governments to fund him!

The same situation occurs in banking, where the government hands money to bankers who then make bets, and then gives them even more money when they get hit by the risk (2008, anyone?).

If your city is giving a billionaire a sports stadium so he can park his sports team for free, then that's probably a great indication you're giving more money to him than you're getting back in taxes.

Government functions best when it acts like a slum landlord; it builds cheap and cheerful infrastructure, takes hard and long looks at its tenants, and always buys itself cheap but reliable Japanese sedans to get around. It doesn't build flashy nightclubs, restaurants, sports stadiums, or anything that is shiny and risky.

In answer to the original question:

Tax the rich more than you give them.

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5 hours ago, mike_bike_kite said:

I must of missed that sentence! None of the folk I met had drug issues. The women and children in vans that I met tended to be escaping abusive relationships. Most of the families I met living in tents simply weren't earning enough to break out of their current existence. I can easily imagine even simple health issue bankrupting many families. That culture of the "American dream" suggests that anyone can make it but I promise you that not everyone does. 

I said many not most. At least in my area. America has a drug problem at all levels not just homeless. 

 I also acknowledge in the next line that:

9 hours ago, RockyTop said:

I do agree that some of the hardest working people are poor.

@LanghamP

I agree. i don’t believe in tax breaks or gifts. I am more of a flat tax person depending on income level. I don’t believe in tax rates above 40%

 

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2 hours ago, RockyTop said:

I don’t believe in tax rates above 40%

The tax rate for most of us needs to be above 45% because the few people who make the most money get paid in preferred stock (which is stock that's redeemed at whatever the company says it is), and hence have a tax rate of 15%. 

In reality, the tax rate for the rich is much less than 15%, due to tax laws like doner-advised funds which allows you to give minimal amounts to charity funds without actually giving any money at all to charities, yet keeping control of said money while receiving essentially a permanent tax deduction.

The US drug problem that kills so many people while turning the rest into zombies was because of Perdue Pharmacy knowingly ignoring dependency studies of their own drugs while paying doctors to prescribe their patients drugs that were hundreds of times more addictive that opium. Usually something evil that occurs to many people can't be subscribed to a few people, but congratulations! Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler have apparently and knowingly killed more people (780,000) than anyone else in this century.

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2 minutes ago, LanghamP said:

 

The US drug problem that kills so many people while turning the rest into zombies was because of Perdue Pharmacy knowingly ignoring dependency studies of their own drugs while paying doctors to prescribe their patients drugs that were hundreds of times more addictive that opium. Usually something evil that occurs to many people can't be subscribed to a few people, but congratulations! Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler have apparently and knowingly killed more people (780,000) than anyone else in this century.

I won’t say more than, Trust me, I know. .....Not me but someone very close.  .., ...... It is a life long problem even after recovery. 

 

Tax - Stop the gifts, stop the tricks and ways of not paying. No tax breaks,  no loopholes

if you get paid in stocks tax it for what it is worth. 

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I am out today, but I will add something later. In the meantime can we change the title of this thread as the subject isn't necessarily taxation ... its more about the wealth gap.

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21 hours ago, Mono said:

I would like to point out that wealth inequality in itself is not a problem, or at least I don't see why it would be (I am always happy to learn). For example, one could argue that to cut poverty in half one necessarily needs to increase the wealth inequality beyond the current amount. I don't see that this argument could be reasonably made, but if so, it would be difficult to say that wealth inequality is a problem on its own rights.

IMHO, the problem is poverty and the lack of wealth increase in the lower income fractions of the population despite the increase of productivity of the entire society.

I agree, 

Some look at wealth and say, “ I am poor because other people have all the money, We need to distribute that money to the poor.”  

Others say, “ Wealth is generated by making a product or providing a service.” 

I don’t believe that I am well off at the expense of others, Others could not do their jobs and receive money without someone doing my job. 

I make more money because my job is high demand with few takers. 

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On 12/25/2019 at 7:22 AM, LanghamP said:

Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler have apparently and knowingly killed more people (780,000) than anyone else in this century.

They got a lot of help from the legislators though. We have pretty good reasons to believe that the overwhelming(?) majority of accidental drug overdosing is attributable to the so-called war on (recreational) drugs. It seems almost safe to say that the deeds of Richard Nixon alone, who initiated the war on drugs to marginalize Vietnam war protesters, killed more than 1 million in this century :efee8c29ce:

Providing the means that can accidentally kill someone is not exactly the same as killing someone. Opioids are extremely useful and pretty safe drugs, as cars are extremely useful and pretty safe means to go to places. Of course that doesn't absolve the producers to do what they can to expose their risks and make them even safer for everybody and to face legal consequences if they do not. These products are so safe mainly because their production and usage is well regulated.

Just for the perspective, products of the tobacco industry killed not 1 million but 10 million in this century in the US alone (and 100 million world wide). Tobacco is arguably the least useful and less arguably the most harmful drug ever. Products of the car industries killed in this century roughly 600,000 in the US (and 20 million world wide).

 

Edited by Mono

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49 minutes ago, Mono said:

Providing the means that can accidentally kill someone is not exactly the same as killing someone. Opioids are extremely useful and pretty safe drugs, as cars are extremely useful and pretty safe means to go to places. Of course that doesn't absolve the producers to do what they can to expose their risks and make them even safer for everybody and to face legal consequences if they do not. These products are so safe mainly because their production and usage is well regulated.

The Sacklers provided the production, distribution, and advertising of their opiates despite knowing how terribly addictive their drugs were. Because they owned the patents they also excluded other drug makers from distribution and hence responsibility. And that decision came down to just three or less people. They marketed a powerfully addictive drug as a non-addictive 12-hour painkiller when it was merely an extremely powerful opiate with all that class of drugs entails. Before doctors were legally prescribing these classes of drugs only between 3,000 to 6,000 people died from them a year (through illegal channels).

This isn't like the automobile where there's many producers and many drivers, all with varying degrees of responsibilities and intent. Or tobacco that has giant warning labels on them (well, at least outside of China). These opiates were marketed as strong yet very safe and non-addictive.

I find most unsettling is how opiates turn users into zombies. That is, addicts (and they're all addicts) are reduced to these pleasure seeking homing missiles. There's not much left in them; their humanity has been scrambled. They have weirdly regressed into these screaming 1-4 year olds, but with the strength of full sized adults. It's extremely expensive to take care of them.

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16 hours ago, RockyTop said:

. I am more of a flat tax person depending on income level.

The US, not surprisingly, already has a flat tax rate. It is almost perfectly flat, varying merely by a few percentage points. While the income tax is progressive, the payroll taxes aren't.

 

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21 hours ago, RockyTop said:

Some look at wealth and say, “ I am poor because other people have all the money, We need to distribute that money to the poor.”  

Others say, “ Wealth is generated by making a product or providing a service.” 

Though the main generators of wealth are usually very much overlooked: 1) science and 2) the organization of societies based on surrendering physical force and prosecution of justice to state representatives which reliably allows safe interactions between strangers. There is no possible way our living standards could be somewhere close to where they are without science. It is much less clear to what extend anything else like markets or competition or... does actually contribute.

Simply put, scientists do generate much more wealth than businessman and judges generate more wealth than millionaires.

Edited by Mono

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6 minutes ago, LanghamP said:

Before doctors were legally prescribing these classes of drugs only between 3,000 to 6,000 people died from them a year (through illegal channels).

In the US, around 500,000 people die from tobacco every year and less than 100,000 from opioids. I understand that opioids are more unsettling though ;)

In the US, the number of opioid deaths doubled between the years 2000 and 2007 (from 17000 to 36,000) and doubled again between 2007 and 2017 (from 36,000 to 70,000).^1 This effect of the "opioid crisis" in increasing overdose fatalities has even been arguably less pronounced than the decrease of overdose fatalities from drug policy changes in Portugal at the same time.^2 Go figure.

It is important to understand that drug availability is only one of many relevant factors in how drugs harm people. The most important factors that influence availability,  demand, and harm are neither industry nor law enforcement, but wisely chosen policies and regulation laws (like banning drug advertisements). It is important to pick ones fights wisely. To do so it is advisable to study the scientific literature rather than weekly or monthly news outlets.

^1 https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
^2 https://fee.org/articles/what-the-us-can-learn-from-portugals-drug-decriminalization

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4 minutes ago, Mono said:

In the US, around 500,000 people die from tobacco every year and less than 100,000 from opioids. I understand that opioids are more unsettling though ;)

By taking drugs you can put both yourself and other people's lives at immediate risk (e.g. driving whilst high, overdose, etc), but tobacco only affects those that smoke it long term, so its more controlled and there is plenty of time to see its effects and take action if you are paying attention. Same with alcohol. Unfortunately, making something illegal just makes it more exciting to users that get thrills from taking risks that later become an addiction.

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1 hour ago, Nic said:

By taking drugs you can put both yourself and other people's lives at immediate risk (e.g. driving whilst high, overdose, etc), but tobacco only affects those that smoke it long term, so its more controlled and there is plenty of time to see its effects and take action if you are paying attention. Same with alcohol. Unfortunately, making something illegal just makes it more exciting to users that get thrills from taking risks that later become an addiction.

Not to mention the destruction of families and their children’s lives. Drugs can cause people to do things that are extremely terrible. Child neglect, abuse and sex crimes. The effects can last generations. A once respectful family can end up in absolute ruins due to one drug problem. 

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2 minutes ago, Mono said:

It makes using the drug much more dangerous, in particular from accidental overdosing because

  • the concentration of the active substance may vary without that the user could possibly know
  • people hesitate to call for professional help when overdosing has occurred.

 

You have absolutely no idea what stuff they use to dilute the pure product.

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Rocky Top, inspirational story!  Glad you succeeded.  Although I disagree with almost everyone we should not be paying federal income taxes.  I agree, no loop holes or special grants to billionaires or corporations.  If we have to pay taxes make it even, everyone should pay a flat tax rate.  Drug addiction is a problem.  But we have to be careful not to become zealots against drugs that are useful when used properly.  I had a motorcycle wreck in 2015 that changed my life.  I don’t know if I would have survived without the morphine and oxycodone they gave me in the hospital.  I was prescribe oxycodone during my recovery at home.  I knew how addictive this medicine could be so I tried to stop taking it in half the time that the doctors prescribed it.  It didn’t work, I could not breath, so I had to take them almost as long as the doctors said I would.  I can see that if a person had to take this medicine for months they would develop dependency on it.  Some people who are prescribed these medicines will not survive and these are given to make the last part of their time as comfortable as possible.  As I write this I think about the pre modern medicine wars where people had to have limbs amputated with nothing more than a shot of alcohol.  Let’s not go back to that.  Opioids have completely legitimate uses, and they can be misused to the point where people kill themselves.

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