Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is the U.S. tax system fair?


At a recent fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton, the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett said that rich guys like him weren't paying enough. Mr. Buffett asserted that his taxes last year equaled only 17.7 percent of his taxable income, compared with about 30 percent for his receptionist. Mr. Buffett was echoing a refrain that is popular in some circles. Last year, Robert B. Reich, labor secretary during the Clinton administration, wrote on his blog that "middle-income workers are now paying a larger share of their incomes than people at or near the top."

These claims are enough to get populist juices flowing. The problem with them is that they don't hold up under close examination. The best source for objective data on the distribution of the tax burden is the Congressional Budget Office. The C.B.O. goes beyond anecdotes and bald assertions to provide hard data on who pays taxes. One can argue about the details of its methods, but there is no doubt that it is nonpartisan and that its tax analysts are some of the best in the business.

The C.B.O.'s most recent calculations of federal tax rates show a highly progressive system. (The numbers are based on 2004 data, but the tax code has not changed much since then.) The poorest fifth of the population, with average annual income of $15,400, pays only 4.5 percent of its income in federal taxes. The middle fifth, with income of $56,200, pays 13.9 percent. And the top fifth, with income of $207,200, pays 25.1 percent. At the very top of the income distribution, the C.B.O. reports even higher tax rates. The richest 1 percent has average income of $1,259,700 and forks over 31.1 percent of its income to the federal government.

If your image of the typical rich person is someone who collects interest and dividend checks and spends long afternoons relaxing on his yacht, you are decades out of date. The leisure class has been replaced by the working rich... None of these calculations, however, say whether the rich are paying their fair share. Fairness is not an economic concept. If you want to talk fairness, you have to leave the department of economics and head over to philosophy.




I have been saying for some time that Russia has evolved into a true modern-day Fascist State. I see that the WSJ has come to the same conclusion. Leftists will love it, of course. The only Fascists they dislike are imaginary Fascists -- like George Bush. Their repeately asserted "opposition" to Fascism in the past was just chest thumping.

The party for minorities: "The Democratic presidential candidates have agreed to another televised debate, this one focusing on issues related to homosexuality. The sponsors are the Human Rights Campaign, a gay activist lobby, and Logo, a gay-themed cable channel, which will broadcast the event live from Los Angeles on Aug. 9. Human Rights Campaign chairman Joe Solmonese will moderate, along with lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge. They can call it a "debate," but it will undoubtedly be a pander-palooza, with each candidate trying to outdo the others in pledging fealty to the gay-left agenda. These are the same Democrats, of course, who refuse to debate on the Fox News Channel because they object to its political agenda. So be it. But what does it say about their priorities that they gladly court Logo's niche viewers, yet snub the far larger mainstream audience that watches Fox?"

Attack on Iran coming up: "The Guardian's source in Washington explained that as of now, Bush and Cheney do not trust potential successors from either political party to deal with Iran decisively. Any reluctance to strike, however, originates with Israel. "The red line is not in Iran. The red line is in Israel. If Israel is adamant it will attack, the U.S. will have to take decisive action," Cronin adds. "The choices are: tell Israel no, let Israel do the job, or do the job yourself." Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs said last week he had received approval from the U.S. and Europe for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. "If we start military operations against Iran alone, then Europe and the U.S. will support us," Avigdor Lieberman said following a meeting with NATO and European Union officials."

Israeli government folly: "A list of wanted militants from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization who were granted amnesty this weekend by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert includes almost the entire senior West Bank leadership of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, WND has learned. The Brigades, Fatah's declared military wing, took responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years. Statistically, the Brigades carried out more anti-Israel terror attacks emanating from the West Bank since 2005 than any other group, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

Even mainstream Leftists are loony: "America's first Muslim congressman has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush to Adolf Hitler and hinting that he might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks. Addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, a Democrat, compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. This was probably burned down by the Nazis in order to justify Hitler's later seizure of emergency powers. "It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," Mr Ellison said. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.""

How lax can the Brits get? "An al-Qaeda fanatic jailed for inciting murder online was caught making a website urging terror attacks - from his cell in Britain's most secure prison. Tariq Al-Daour, 21, used a smuggled mobile phone and modem lead to access the internet on a laptop issued by the Prison Service to help him prepare his court case. The laptop was seized after a violent struggle when prison officers suspected he was misusing it and the hate-filled website called Global Jihad was found. The Home Office has launched an urgent inquiry to discover how the mobile was smuggled into Belmarsh's High Security Unit, which holds the country's most dangerous inmates. They fear Al-Daour may have used it to contact other al-Qaeda terrorists and are scrutinising calls he made. A senior prison source said yesterday: "It is frightening that an al-Qaeda prisoner was able to build an extremist website within Britain's supposedly most secure jail."

No party label for Democrat scandals: "One the most comic aspects of liberal media bias is the well-established pattern of identifying politicians caught up in scandal by party only when they are Republicans. Democrats rarely if ever are identified by party. The past week supplies a good example courtesy of the New York Times and AP, arguably the two organizations which do the most to shape national political coverage. In a Times editorial today on the outrageous abuse of taxpayer funds by Newark's former mayor Democrat Sharpe James, his political affiliation is nowhere mentioned. "Sharpe James, the former mayor of Newark who was indicted this week on corruption charges, has for years exhibited a finger-in-the-eye arrogance. Still, the 33-count indictment against him is stunning, most of all for the list of luxuries he allegedly charged to taxpayers of his impoverished city. Among the standouts: multiple tropical vacations and a trip to Florida to test drive a Rolls-Royce.""


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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