Rich Americans Need Your Help

Special Guest Blog/ Exclusive to The Big Picture Report

A Plea For Your Help, From People for the Ethical Treatment of Rich Americans

by List of X/ December 30, 2012

 

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Every day, the nation is creeping closer and closer toward the so-called fiscal cliff.  Going over the cliff will mean, among other things, that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will expire and marginal tax rates will rise for everyone, including the top 1% of earners.  Since keeping the low tax rates on the top 1% isn’t very popular with most Americans but favored among the Republican Party leadership, the GOP had recently formed PETRA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Rich Americans), to help advance their case for protecting the tax cuts for the top 1%.  Today, PETRA has released the following statement:

We realize that our name may appear similar to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), but our organizations are very different.  Unlike PETA, which  tries to protect all kinds of useless vermin, our organization’s mission consists of protecting just one very important and highly unique species, known to all of us as ‘Rich Americans.”

People sometimes think of Rich Americans as predators and parasites who only hurt others, but this is a misguided perception.  Rich Americans (Latin name Affluentis Americanis Jobcreatorius) serve a crucial role in a society by ridding it of its weaker and less useful members, and thus make the society stronger.  They accumulate excessive wealth from the rest of the nation, thus preventing inflation, and their wealth discharges (also known as “trickle-down”) provide rich nutrients to everyone near the bottom of the food chain. These trickle-downs help support millions of Regular Americans (Latin: Lazyus Moocherus Vulgaris). Finally, Rich Americans provide evolutionary inspiration to all other American species, and their flamboyant mating rituals (think Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian) are among the most awe-inspiring wonders of Nature.

Bush-era environmental and economic policies saw the population of Rich Americans increase to healthy levels.  President George W. Bush signed multiple laws aimed at protection of Rich Americans, preserving and expanding their natural habitats such as offshore tax havens, capital gains taxes, and carried interest loopholes.  However, several natural disasters, such as the housing crisis and financial collapse (for which Rich Americans were absolutely not responsible) resulted in the drop of their population to dangerously low levels. In the last couple of years their population had started to rebound again, but the improvement had been markedly slow.

Today, their way of life is under serious threat from the thoughtless actions of the Obama administration. As our nation approaches the fiscal cliff, all the conservation efforts instituted by the Bush administration will be reversed. Even if the nation’s tax collectors harvest just 4% more in taxes from the Rich Americans than they do now, it will have on profound effect on the behavior of Rich Americans.  They will become less active and their wealth discharges will become less frequent. And worst of all, they may migrate to more hospitable climates, and that will throw the entire American econ-system off-balance.

Please write, call, and e-mail your Congress representative and demand that they do everything in their power to keep the laws protecting the Rich Americans.  Act now!  Remember, destruction of natural habitats of Rich Americans is harmful to all of us.

List of X specializes in, well…lists of 10. His entertaining website is on the BPR blogroll.
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84 Responses to Rich Americans Need Your Help

  1. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, even if someone never has an estate, at least not one that could defined in the conventional sense of the word, some people could have $15, 000, 000.00 in savings that was accumulated. Why should government not get to impose a 65% tax on a lifetime of savings and yet it is justifiable to have a 65% estate tax? You might as well encourage the wealthy to pack up their bags and leave the country, which means that they would take all of their wealth with them. The other problem with the tax the rich theory is that they have greater economic mobility. All they would have to do is pack up their bags, with their wealth and everything else, then leave the country, leaving us without any functional source of tax revenue that they would be contributing under ideal circumstances.

    • The wealthy didn’t leave the country years ago when taxes were. much higher, Ragnar, and they won’t with a higher estate tax. They like it here and know damn well they aren’t paying their fair share. You know what Amazon paid in taxes last year? $0! The playing field is tilted to favor the rich, and it’s bad for everyone else. You seem to be obsessed with the estate tax, which only affects the very wealthy. I don’t know why this is so important to you.

  2. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, after all taxes have been paid to the satisfaction of the government, what the citizens do with the money after that is not the business of the government. Even if wealth is inherited, the government has no right to come in and say, “You have no right to decide who gets to have access to your assets when you die.” Leftists should stop obsessing over what other people have and grow up. Why do you support this kind of tax in the first place? You are still advocating taking their money for no good reason. They made that money and they deserve to do whatever they please with it. Reducing or eliminating the death tax may lead to a significant decrease in government revenue. Even if that is the case, that is just too bad. If someone inheriting millions neither picks our pockets or breaks our legs, what is the big deal?

  3. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, what about a compromise? What if we kept the estate tax, however, it could be avoided if that money was reinvested in a business to help it grow and expand, thus creating jobs? Yes, the people who would be subjected to it would have to uphold their part of the bargain, however, reinvestment of that money could mitigate the estate tax liability or eliminate it. Some money should be left to each of the family members for personal use, however, if a good share of it went to build or expand an existing business, it is a win-win. The family would have enough money to be comfortable and businesses could have effective capital formation. If you sit on the money, you would pay the estate tax, however, if you reinvest the money into a business, the money is tax-free.

    • Depending on how it is written,Ragnar, I think you are on to something.
      Good ideas.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, if we maintained the estate tax, I would prefer that each respective state make its own laws. Some states may want a high estate tax, some may want a moderate estate tax and some may want a low or no estate tax. The problem is that the estate tax is basically picking the pocket of a deceased person. I would honestly prefer the possibility that all family members that are subjected to it be still in the world of the living. If you sell an estate and want to downsize, you pay the tax on the income from the sale. Should you want to pass that money down to future generations, have at it. For the record, I am not an extremist in either regard relating to the estate tax. I just oppose it at the federal level.

  4. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, at the time of the estate tax being implemented, if it had actually been voted down again and again, with proponents of it still pushing for it, the effort would be self-defeating. The only motivating factor for the estate tax is spite and envy, not fairness. Who cares how much money someone wants to leave to another person? If it neither picks a person’s pocket or breaks that person’s leg, what is the problem? If someone was left $15, 000, 000.00 by another person, with the knowledge that it would be gone in 6 months, that would leave the federal government without significant revenue for 6 months. What is better for the economy-having someone hold on to $15, 000, 000.00 for 6 months and invest that money in a business and create jobs for people with higher wages, thus expanding the tax base or giving the government that money to waste on things that do not benefit society at all? Why do people who work hard to provide for their families get punished with the prospect of an estate tax, assuming they are liable for it, while people who collect welfare benefits free of tax get a pass?

    On the issue of wealth and income inequality, I shall address that using pizza as a comparison. If you create fewer pizzas and have more people, some of the people will get more slices than other people by default. Assuming that more pizzas are created, that would increase the number of slices for the people who would otherwise be left out of the opportunity to enjoy it. If you have an unequal number of pizza slices, some people get more than other people. How does that get resolved-by taking a few slices of pizza from the people who have more or just making more pizzas?

    • Sorry, Ragnar, but you seem obsessed with this topic and keep writing about it. Since the Estate Tax only affects multi-millionaires and billionaires, I don’t know why it is so important to you. Neither one of us is going to change our opinion on this subject, perhaps it would be best to move on to other topics.

  5. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, how can it be seen as greedy to accumulate more, but is it not seen as being greedy to want to take what someone else has simply because they have more? Even if aristocracies were the end result of the estate tax being eliminated, that is just too bad.

  6. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, if someone was left $2.5, 000, 000.00 at time of death of the person who wanted the recipient to have the money, the government should have no right to it, period. As harsh as this sounds, the estate tax is essentially the government giving the middle finger to a grieving family. As true as it may be that people who inherit wealth did nothing to earn (or deserve) it, if that wealth was left to them on the whims of the people who made that decision, the government has no right to say, “You were left $15, 000, 000.00,” so we are taking 50% of it from you and you can’t do a damn thing about it.” Why is a family that gets welfare checks that are tax-free or the government more entitled to our money than we are? If all of these people who gripe about other people inheriting estates and by extension a great deal of wealth inherited a great deal of their own wealth at some point down the road, these people would probably fight the estate tax, as well, thereby making them hypocrites.

    • The government deserves and is entitled to collect taxes to provide the services that make our citizen’s life better. True, everyone can find something to complain about regarding the government’s choices. But the estate tax should not be exempt. It only affects the very wealthy and they continue to gain wealth while most Americans are falling behind. The estate tax is a good way to close the massive wealth inequality that goes wider all the time.

  7. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, perfect equality is impossible, unless we are all to have nothing equally. Those on the Left think fairness=taking money from people like me by force and arbitrarily electing to give it to someone else. People that say, “The rich need to pay their fair share,” which they pay way more than their fair share in my view, should stop whining and actually work for a living. Do something productive with your life and make the best of it. The reason I want the estate tax to be eliminated is that it will eliminate one source of revenue that the government can use and waste on pointless things. Between giving the government $15, 000, 000.00 in tax revenue via the estate tax to waste on pointless things and allowing the family and by extension their heirs to keep every penny, the family and their heirs should be able to keep every penny. When these people who speak in favor of the estate tax get estates, they will be very likely to fight the estate tax, thus making them hypocrites. Here is another thing to consider: If a family member that inherits $4, 000, 000.00 built a business with that money and saved up the rest of it, the remainder could be used for other things. Generational wealth should be encouraged for 3 reasons: 1: It will encourage people to create business ventures that employ people, thus increasing greater participation in the workforce. 2: Since that wealth was already taxed when it was earned, whatever the person does with the money after that is none of society’s business. 3: If the money was tax-free for the heirs, they could pay for college educations and aim for degrees that would be suited to whatever line of work they went into after they graduated.

  8. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, since it neither picks a person’s pocket or breaks a person’s leg in any event if the estate tax is repealed, how is that a bad thing? People work their entire lives to be able to provide comfort and security for their children. Regardless of the amount they are able to leave their children, you shouldn’t be penalizing them and their children by taking away even a penny. I’m against this as I’m against any estate tax to begin with. If the estate tax was not a thing at all, if it was pushed to be enacted again and again, with it being voted down each and every time, that should cause it to be axed completely. The estate tax is bullshit. Regardless of the type of tax increase, if it was called for again and again, all while resulting in no government revenue, the message should be received after awhile that the plan is not working out so well. The estate tax is the biggest bunch of bullshit ever. Why should anyone be taxed for leaving their children an inheritance? Those people who bitch and complain that the rich are going to pass on money that they actually busted their asses for in order to provide a better quality of life for their families when they die is wrong on so many levels. Who the hell thinks that people who leave their progeny over the 500 million mark will pay those 65% rates? This won’t affect them or the billionaires at all. Those people can afford to hire the lawyers who will put it all in a trust and figure out how to divvy it up and avoid paying any estate taxes. This tax is a disaster for small businesses, who are already hurt by business taxes and bureaucratic strangulation, while the mega international corporations that can afford to pay a few million in lawyer fees avoid corporate taxes all the time. Why should anyone be taxed for leaving their children an inheritance? Why do you support this kind of tax in the first place? You are still taking their money for no good reason. They made that money and they deserve to do whatever they please with it. Why this tax exists I have no idea. Between a government that cannot keep its spending in line getting a shitload of revenue from the estate tax and a family that is truly deserving of being able to keep that money, the family should get that money, period. Don’t like that? That is just too bad. If a person who is at death’s door wants to leave all of the money to his or her family at the time of death, that is not the business of society or of the government. If everyone had all their wealth taken at the point of their death. It would give massive incentives for people to waste their money shortly before their death because they could not pass it on to their children. All those resources would be wasted into entertainment and vices, rather than reinvestment into the structure of the system for the family heirs. You claim to advocate for a higher estate tax. That is all fine and good, however, when all of the wealth is spent and the people who are subjected to it die flat broke, the government would not get any estate tax revenue, thus making the idea self-defeating. Any tax on inheritance, whatever the percentage, would have negative affects on society. Right off the bat, an inheritance tax sets a mindset that some people are entitled to that which belongs to other people. Estate tax is solely motivated by envy.

    • I get it, Ragnar, you feel strongly about this subject. We disagree. If you wish to understand my position, please read https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/ten-facts-you-should-know-about-the-federal-estate-tax. Since the estate tax only applies to estates over $11.4 million dollars, and only applies to amounts above that threshold. So it hardly applies to any family farms and small businesses. In fact, it only applies to 0.2% of estates. I understand you passionately oppose it, but I see no compelling reason to eliminate this tax.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, if the estate tax must be kept at all, I would prefer that it be done at the state level and have it by paid if the estate is sold with all family members still being among the living. The reason you see no compelling reason is probably due to your not being adversely affected by it. Here is a case of typical Leftist logic: This tax is not affecting me, so I want to keep it as an act of spite against grieving families that will be affected by it.

  9. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, the worst effects of the inheritance tax are rarely discussed. The estate tax penalizes families that have a future orientation, which sends repercussions throughout the whole economy. Not only do these taxes discourage the long-term investment necessary for a high level of economic growth, but they prevent families from accumulating, over several generations, the resources required for starting a family business or for preparing for uncertain times ahead. Between giving the government $15, 000, 000.00 in estate tax revenue to blow on things that do not benefit society and allowing a family to keep it all tax-free, I vote that the family gets it. Even with the possibility of generational wealth, if it neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg, I see no real reason to make a big deal out of it. If every family that was subjected to the estate tax spent themselves into financial ruin, neither their heirs who should get the money in my opinion or the government, the least deserving of that money, would get it. Here is an analogy for you: A wealthy person has saved up a lot of money over the years and opens a pizzeria and makes a lot of pizzas as a result. A middle income person has a pizzeria that is small in size but is not making the same amount of money as the wealthy person. Why is that? Because of the economy being rigged in favor of the wealthier person or because the middle income person had an inadequate business model?

    • Once again, Ragnar, you are especially passionate about the estate tax, which only benefits millionaires and billionaires. Why you stick up for them so frequently baffles me. And yes, our economic system is rigged to benefit the wealthy. I’d like to see the average person get a break and the playing field leveled. Don’t you?

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, a level playing field would be nice, however, not nearly as realistic as one would expect it to be. You also never directly addressed my pizza analogy. Between one pizza being made with an unequal number of slices to go around and just making more pizzas, what is more realistic?

        The estate tax is essentially giving the middle finger to a grieving family. Of course, when do those on the Left care about grieving families when they are not related to them? It is sick and immoral that the estate tax is in existence.

        • Yes, Ragnar, those on the Left are not as sympathetic to multi-millionaires and billionaires as you are. By the same token, the Right appears not to be sympathetic to poor people.
          I suspect we disagree so much because we have different value systems, with you most passionate about causes that pertain to the wealthy (estate tax) while I am more passionate about those on the bottom ($15 an hour minimum wage). It will be almost impossible for us to agree on economic issues because of that. We just have to agree to disagree.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, this may or may not surprise you, however, I am on board with the minimum wage. I would just prefer to have it be done on a state by state basis. Let us see which states have the most job opportunities with the minimum wage increase and which states have a loss of jobs due to it. Here is a video for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRkz0HBCsyo Some of the people in the comments seem to disagree with the analysis, however, the video is interesting.

  10. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, outside of it being argued that the estate tax would be a significant source of revenue, all other arguments for it are based on spite. If someone left their family members $15, 000, 000.00 tax-free with the knowledge that it would only last for 6 months, that would leave government without a significant source of revenue for 6 months. The estate tax is a financial form of grave robbery. Even if inter-generational wealth was an end result of the estate tax being eliminated, that is just too bad.

  11. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, what makes the government that cannot keep its spending in check more entitled to the fruits of a family’s labor than the family? Why should a man and a woman who are at death’s door not be entitled to the right to decide where the money goes? You said that people who inherit money from their parents did nothing to earn that money. If a family that has paid taxes on that money wants to pass it down to future generations, that is for them to decide. Even if there was a significant degree of inherited wealth that was passed from parents to children, if it neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg, it is not really any of my business.

    • Ragnar, I would say the super-rich benefit from a rigged political system that benefits them by giving subsidies and endlessly cutting their taxes (e.g. last year’s Trump tax cut). This is because they buy off America’s lawmakers who accede to their wishes which allows them to obtain obscene amounts of wealth. Meanwhile, average or lower-class Americans struggle to just make ends meet. That is a corrupt and unfair system that doesn’t deserve to be perpetuated by their heirs.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, I am of the belief that the estate tax should only apply if an estate is sold. If all living family members decide to sell it, the income from the sale could be taxed at 30% and that would be reasonable. When I spoke to the matter of grieving families having to contend with the estate tax along with the loss of a loved one, the way you responded seemed to indicate an apathy to their pain.

        • I see an important difference between us, Ragnar. You seem to have great capacity to sympathize with rich people, while I am more sympathetic to the less fortunate. I think that is an important reason we differ on so many political issues. Am I on target, Ragnar? What is your opinion on that, and is that difference insurmountable?

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, much of what you say is incorrect. We both actually want the same thing. The area of disagreement stems from our differing methods of solving this problem. As for my last comment, I said that I would not object to the estate tax if all living family members wanted to sell it and downsize to something smaller. A 30% tax seems to be more reasonable than a 50% tax from the standpoint of the estate tax. Just my thoughts.

  12. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, there are a multitude of problems with the estate tax. The estate tax discourages savings and investment. For those Americans who think that their estates may one day be subjected to the federal death tax, the tax sends a signal that it is better to consume today than invest and make more money in the future. Instead of putting their money in the hands of entrepreneurs or investing more in their own economic endeavors, Americans are encouraged to consume it now rather than pay taxes on it later. It undermines job creation. Because the death tax discourages saving and investing, it also undermines job creation. Resources that otherwise would have been available for businesses to use to expand their operations and add new workers are consumed by people who deem it wiser to spend the money now than invest it knowing their inheritors will have to pay the death tax later. Furthermore, resources that businesses otherwise would have used to add jobs are diverted to protect families from the death tax. A problem with the death tax is that the people clobbered by it are not billionaires. More often they are ordinary Americans with medium sized estates — the millionaire next door. The death tax rewards the life of lavish and unproductive consumption it is intended to discourage. This tax says to the elderly: Live high on the hog. Wrap yourself in material comfort. Eat, drink, be merry. You can’t take it with you, and you can’t leave most of it to your kids. Your goal is to die broke — the ultimate form of tax avoidance. Meanwhile the frugal men and women who scrimp and save and build a legacy to leave to their children are hit by a tax that allows the IRS to snatch more than half. Through the death tax, we reward vice and punish virtue. If there were a prize for the most destructive tax, the death tax surely would be a prohibitive favorite. Known to policy wonks as the estate tax, this levy is a punitive form of double taxation that penalizes people for trying to create a nest egg for their children. The damage to families, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem, at least to economists, is that the death tax discourages economic growth by reducing saving and investment. For all intents and purposes, the tax code sends a perverse message to America’s entrepreneurs, investors, small-business owners and farmers: If you squander your money as quickly as possible, the government will not tax you. But if you behave responsibly and invest in the nation’s future, the government will swoop in like a flock of vultures and grab a huge chunk of your money when you die. This matters because every economic theory — even Marxism — agrees that capital formation is the key to growth. Higher living standards are possible only if people invest by setting aside some of today’s income. But a punitive death tax, especially when combined with other forms of double taxation on capital gains and dividends, reduces the incentive to save and invest. Scholars who have examined this issue estimate that the death tax has reduced America’s stock of saving and investment by nearly $850 billion. The politicians in Washington impose double taxation on interest, dividends and capital gains, but the “death tax” wins the prize for being the most self-destructive part of the internal revenue code. Adding an extra layer of tax when someone dies is an unsavory combination of bad economics and immoral grave robbing. The current policy is especially foolish since every economic theory — even Marxism — agrees that saving and investment are the keys to long-run growth and higher living standards. Simply stated, some of today’s income has to be set aside to finance tomorrow’s growth, much as a farmer has to save some of his seed for next year’s crop. Regardless of what some people may claim, there is nothing fair about taxing the estate of any person. That money was already taxed again and again. Destroying the wealthy will not elevate the poor. Everyone will end up being poor. The only way out of poverty is through education and the development of marketable skills. Because the estate tax discourages investment, it also holds down wage growth. Since businesses have less funding, they’re less able to purchase new tools and equipment. So workers are less productive and suffer slower wage and salary growth. The death tax also hammers some Americans more than others, since it especially targets landowners. Millions of farmers, ranchers and homeowners have improved their land. Yet when they die, the federal government punishes their heirs. Who benefits from the death tax? Estate tax lawyers. Life insurance companies. Large businesses — and, of course, big government. Outside of these groups, there’s no justification for it. Someone would be hard-pressed to find anything more un-American than the federal estate tax—a tax that rejects the idea of people building their American dream for themselves and for their families. Even if the repeal of the estate tax cost government revenue, too bad. If government cannot spend what it does not have, we could reduce the debt more effectively. If there were a prize for the most destructive tax, the death tax surely would be a prohibitive favorite. Known to policy wonks as the estate tax, this levy is a punitive form of double taxation that penalizes people for trying to create a nest egg for their children. The damage to families, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem, at least to economists, is that the death tax discourages economic growth by reducing saving and investment. If you want the government to take 100% of your savings when you die, then you are a Socialist. With the estate tax, it destroys almost all incentive for us to work and save our money. Even if we have people who may inherit wealth from their parents, it is between the parents and the children to decide this issue.

    • Ragnar, the estate tax applies only to estates over 11.4 million dollars. In addition, Taxes are assessed only on the value of the estate or inheritance that exceeds the threshold amount. Surviving spouses are generally exempt from these taxes, regardless of the value of the estate or inheritance.
      You seem to be very sympathetic toward the ultra wealthy, much more than you are for poor people. I think the wealthy will do quite well for themselves, and will not stop working or savings just because of an estate tax.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, your point about my having sympathy for the wealthy is absurd. Even if I never come across great wealth, I would want to see the estate tax eliminated so it minimizes an area of tax revenue for the government.

  13. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, a dead wealthy person will not need that money in the afterlife. However, if at the time of their death they want to leave assets in any amount to whoever they so choose, the government should have no say-so in the matter, period. Regarding the point that you made about advocating a higher estate tax, where you correctly said that family heirs would get money that they have not earned, you would also have to concede that the government also gets money that it has not earned.

  14. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, If you want the government to take 100% of your savings when you die, then you are a Socialist. If you want to take money from people who want to leave that money to their children at the time of their deaths, then you clearly believe that society and by extension the government, is entitled to something that they have no right to. How would you feel if someone left you $5 ,000. 000.00 and the government took all of that despite the fact that the person who left it to you had every right to do so?

  15. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, it is clear that we have polar opposite views on things like the estate tax. Inheritance tax should be seen as a crime, particularly since each dollar is subjected to multiple layers of taxation already. Many wealthy people gave away most of their wealth over their life time. What pisses big government types off is that the people got to decide where the money went and not the state. Socialist economic policies destroy societies, as evidenced over the last century. If there was a 100% inheritance tax, that can be argued to be as bad as having no inheritance tax in the eyes of some people. Personally, I believe that we should send the death tax to the dustbin of history. As I said, before you give me the b.s. about kids getting money that they have not earned, the fact of the matter is that society has no right to dictate to families what they can leave to future generations. We are in serious debt as a nation. Giving government more revenue will only give the government license to spend the money on things that are fruitless and serve no real purpose. If everyone had all their wealth taken at the point of their death, it would give massive incentives for people to waste their money shortly before their death because they could not pass it on to their children. Some people seem to disagree with the estate tax, however, they favor increasing taxes on high income people but also ask why government should tax us our whole lives and then impose taxes on our estates when we are dead. Even if you want to argue that family heirs are getting money that they have not earned, I would rather let them have it over giving it to government that cannot keep its spending in line. Instead of finding an excuse to provide government with more revenue, government should cut itself. Some people say that the rich should stop being so greedy. Why is it greed for any person to want to keep money that they earn and yet it is not greed to want to take that away from them? Acting entitled to other people’s money never works, ever. Some people argue that repealing the estate tax will provide incentives for the rich to put the money into bank accounts. Even if that is the case, the banks help to create and finance businesses with loans. Some people say that they want to see the estate tax repealed despite them not seeing a dime from it. While some people may inherit money, other people will inherit a business from their parents who literally have to sell off the business to just pay the taxes on the inheritance. Something that may be ideal if there is not an absolute repeal of the estate tax is that the tax could be avoided if money that was subjected to it was reinvested back into businesses and used to employ people. This way it could be retained, however, it would not have to be paid if the money was put to functional use.

  16. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, I had asked why you wanted to take money from a grieving family in another post. You seemed surprised by that inquiry, as indicated by your response. Whether money is legally earned or inherited, it belongs to the individual and the person or people who the individual in question wants to leave it to. Saying that you believe in a higher estate tax is basically a way of saying that government can do things better with that money than the people who inherit the money. What is a better use of inherited money-letting the recipient(s) use that money to build and expand business ventures? Using it to fund foreign wars that we should never have been involved in?

    • Your assumption, Ragnar, is that inherited money will be used to encourage business ventures. Most billionaires like to keep their money and accumulate more. I believe government can be used to improve society. And this society needs a lot of improvement. I don’t think a society of a few obscenely rich people and the majority barely making ends meet is a good thing. It’s up to the people to make sure tax money is used wisely. But we have to get money out of politics first.

  17. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, you said that you would advocate for higher estate taxes. If we must maintain it to some degree, I would let estate tax be a state by state thing. If some states want it, they can do it at whatever rate they elect to. For states that do not want it, they should not be required by the dictate of Washington D.C. to have it.

    The income tax was sold as targeting only the rich. Really? People who say that the rich need to pay their fair share are using rhetoric that is based in envy. Income tax infringes on the right to property and doesn’t even allow for due process of law. The Founders and Framers recognized this and that’s why they didn’t give Congress that power.

  18. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, people who say that if you make a certain dollar amount or less under a flat tax that will pay nothing are being subjected to a tax hike are clueless about some of the tax proposals that are out there. Just saying something because one believes it to be true, however, the evidence will say otherwise, is absurd. Here is an example: Let’s say that a plan proposed by someone has a $60, 000.00 tax-free threshold, with any income level above that being taxed at a flat rate of 15%. In that scenario, how are poor people being screwed over if they still pay nothing in federal income taxes?

  19. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, even though the estate tax exemption is $5, 000, 000.00 at the present, what if we kept it but one could avoid paying it if the person or family who was subjected to it put the money to good use? Creating a business that employs people, for example? If parents want to leave their kids that $1 billion, that is between the kids and the parents. The government has no business saying that the kid doesn’t deserve it or shouldn’t have it, and decide how much to take from the kid in question. Thomas Sowell said, “I have never understood why it is “greed” to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” While we have some people who are bitching about how much money a wealthy person wants to leave to their family members at the time of their deaths, have people who feel like the government has a right to half of that person’s money when they die, where is the compassion for the grieving families? Just saying that children of wealthy parents or from parents at any income level have no right to keep money that they inherited free of tax is absurd. What is the logic behind the estate tax? What entitles society to someone else’s money? If someone obtains wealth and wants to give it to their kids, then that is their choice and none of the government’s business and none of the business of society as a whole. Here are a few questions for you: 1: Why should a grieving family have to pay an estate tax so government can waste it on useless things? 2: Since that money was taxed again and again, what is the gripe if a person wants to leave any money that is left to whomever they choose? 3: By what right is any person entitled to the property of any other? It doesn’t matter if people are pissed that the rich don’t pay enough taxes. Did you earn it? No. Okay, then you have no right to their money regardless of how much money they have. The fact is that over 40% of Americans don’t even pay an income tax. Why don’t you get outraged about that? Why not have a tax-free $ amount, with everything above that being taxed at the same rate? Capital gains taxes are unfair. It is not just taxes on “rich”. Its when you sell your house, or get a one time check for a good amount of money. The government takes half. Lets not go back to that crap. Add up what a single middle class person pays in taxes and its way too much! The so called rich pay 99% of the taxes already too. Class warfare is not going to fix anything. Yes, it is true that there are corrupt people that made millions by taking advantage of other people, however many of them made their money fair and square. Rich people deserve the same rights as anyone else. The U.S. government is already going bankrupt with all these tax and spend policies that keep being implemented. Under certain flat tax proposals, there is a tax-free threshold, so if you make a certain amount of money or less, you pay nothing. People who say that those who make $50, 000.00 a year or less under certain proposals will get a tax hike despite their paying no federal income taxes are liars or delusional, maybe both.

  20. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, the estate tax is probably the most immoral tax of all. Why do you want to take money from grieving families and give that to the government? If you want to raise the top marginal tax rate, fine and good. What someone wants to leave to their family at the time of their deaths is not the business of the government. Why do you give a damn about what someone else wants to do with their money if that money has already been subjected to multiple layers of taxation? Why does the government have a right to something you want to give someone after you die? You should think of someone as a person no matter how rich they are, and this is taking from something that a person wants to give their family after they die. It doesn’t matter that they’re rich, and it doesn’t matter that the person getting it didn’t “earn” it. That doesn’t give other people the right to it. Mind your own business. The estate tax is evil. So, what entitles society to someone else’s money? If someone obtains wealth and wants to give it to their kids, then that is their choice. Even if the repeal of the estate tax would not directly hurt anybody, the only argument against its repeal is based on envy. Supporting the estate tax is literally saying, “That person has money, therefore I deserve some of it.” No, it’s theft. The death tax is awful as it affects more than just rich people (for example farmers due to the value of the land they own but have little in anything else.) The estate tax should be 0%. Such taxation would essentially abolish private property and wealth accumulation in the US immediately, as there would be no incentive to accumulate money or property. You believe it’s wrong for someone to get money that they have not earned? What about the government? Government does nothing to earn the money it gets. So that renders your one point in the same context relating to someone getting something that they have not earned as invalid. You claim to not have an understanding of sympathy for the rich. While they are alive and breathing, I probably would not either. What about their families that they leave behind when they die? I have never understood the vitriol and hatred that those on the Left have for the wealthy and why they have absolutely no compunction about taking money from grieving families because they claim it is unfair for that family to get that money tax-free. Since it has already been subjected to one layer of taxation after another, I believe that any money that was saved up, regardless of the amount, should be tax-free if left for future generations.

  21. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, if you want to have a higher marginal tax rate, I do not necessarily see an issue with that. After all taxes have been paid, what a person does with the money after that is nobody’s business. Who the person in this scenario leaves that money to at the time of death is the business of the person in question and whoever is the recipient of the money, not the government.

  22. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, you claim to advocate for a high estate tax. A problem with this logic is that every dollar is subject to multiple layers of taxation. The estate tax is bullshit, so people who argue for it have an entitlement mentality. Why tax something again what was taxed before? You pay taxes when you earn that money. Why is it being taxed again? I think that is unfair regardless if the person is rich or not. One can argue that children of the wealthy have not done anything to earn that money. However, it is ultimately supposed to be between the parents and their heirs.

    • You seem to advocate for the wealthy a lot, Ragnar. I’m sure they appreciate it. In any event, wealth and income inequality is a major problem in this country and continues to widen. The estate tax is just one of several ways to get the rich to pay their fair share. Why do they get so many tax breaks? Maybe because of sympathizers like you, Or because they’ve bought off the politicians.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, the estate tax is much worse than an income tax. What I don’t like is how some people feel like they are entitled to what other people have. Estate tax is theft of money that has already endured multiple layers of taxation. Stop obsessing about what other people have. If you have more money than you know what to do with, give it away if you want to. What is stopping you from doing so? The so-called rich already have ways around paying the estate tax. Get the government at the federal level out of the equation.

  23. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, regarding the issue of taxing estates, rich people rarely pay this tax anyway, so the fact that it exists at all is ridiculous. The money in the estate has already been taxed when it was earned, so this is nothing more than “double dipping.” Nobody has any right to touch what a dead person has left for someone else, period. Leftists always conjure up the “lazy ass rich kid” that’s going to inherit the estate. Even if that’s the case, too friggin bad. Get over it people. This class envy shit is going to get you nowhere in life. People on the Left should stop worrying about what everyone else has and live their own lives and make the best of them. The super wealthy already paid a higher tax rate on that money when they earned it and now we are going to tax the same money again for no other reason then they are giving it to their kids which for some reason we are viewing as wrong and immoral? Come on. How about a compromise? What if we kept the estate tax, but you can avoid paying it by instead putting an equal amount of money into employing people? That way it is either creating jobs or funding government functions, a win-win for everyone. Quit worrying about how to get your hands on other people’s money. Rich people already pay the large majority of revenue to the government.

    • I never have been able to understand the sympathy Right wing/libertarians have for rich people. The top .1 percent already own more than the bottom 90% of Americans, and the disparity is growing. I never hear any sympathy for the tens of millions of Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck (if they even get a paycheck). 1 of 6 American children face food insecurity. I never hear righties worried about them, they only care if rich Americans might be paying more taxes. I don’t get it. Enlighten me.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, one of the biggest problems we have is a lack of incentive for people to want to save money. Even if one lives paycheck to paycheck, the person who has that situation can put a certain dollar amount into savings per month and be able to create wealth. Clark Howard, a consumer advocate talks about this issue in great detail. Here are some examples where one can save money: 1: Phone bills, 2: Electricity, 3: Vehicle repairs, 4: Paid television. If you negotiate the price of each one or find cheaper options, you can save more money in the long run. Without rich people, who will open up businesses that will employ low income workers?

        • Ragnar, with the minimum wage jobs so many Americans are receiving, it is unrealistic to expect people with families and no disposable income to save enough money to make any headway. The American dream has been dying for years. Many families must choose between food or medicine. I mean, could you support a family with a low-wage job? And as far as rich people and their businesses, they are most interested in paying as little as possible to maximize profit or outsourcing to lower-wage countries.

  24. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, here is a video that I would like to get your thoughts on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWRMKqSncOc Personally, I find the estate tax distasteful, regardless of who it hits. Just saying that it is unfair for someone to have more money than another person, regardless of how the money was acquired, creates an entitlement mentality. Rich people find a way around paying this tax anyway, so it is counterintuitive that this tax even exists.

    • Like Pakman, Ragnar, I am in favor of the estate tax. Too many ultra-rich people just inherit the family money and they pass it on to the next generation, and on and on. Do the wealthiest people need more money when they already have more than they could ever use?
      Somebody has to be taxed and logically the ultra-rich should pay a lot more. Especially when most Americans, on average, have so little. I don’t understand the sympathy for the ultra-rich.

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, you may feel like the government has the right to half of our stuff, however, that is not the actual reality of the situation. No person has an absolute right to the services of another person without compensating the person providing the service.

        • I feel the government needs to be funded by taxes and the rich should pay their fair share.
          The government services and the amount of taxes collected in most cases is what separates liberals and conservatives.

          • ragnarsbhut says:

            Arlen Grossman, if earning $250, 000.00+ equated to being rich, how high should a person who earns that be required to pay in terms of the tax rate? What about a person who earns $330, 000.00?

          • Ragnar, I just saw Elizabeth Warren on TV. She was advocating a wealth tax for the top one percent (or maybe it was 1/10 of one percent). That would be an enormous amount of money that could be used for health care, education, etc, things that benefit low and middle class citizens. The rich don’t need our help. Sounds right to me. There’s no way I could give a number for tax rates for certain citizens. That has to be worked out by Congress or those that specialize in that endeavor. 

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Arlen Grossman, the linked video was from Secular Talk. Not The David Pakman Show. People who want to maintain the existence of the estate tax are looking for excuses to mooch off of people who have already paid multiple taxes throughout the duration of their working lives.

        • I don’t know why I thought it was David Pakman, As for the estate tax, I never have understood why people are so willing to protect the money of the ultra-rich. I mean, do they really need a extra million or two if they already have multiple-millions or even billions of dollars?

  25. ragnarsbhut says:

    Arlen Grossman, one of the people who commented posted a video where Rick Santorum proposed a 20/20 tax plan that treated all income the same. I would also cut military spending and eliminate federal departments which have served no functional purpose.

  26. Arlen Grossman, my irritation with people who have a left-leaning ideology (you being an exception) stems from my perceptions that they seem to be too narrow minded and inflexible in their way of thinking. I can adjust my way of thinking if someone presents me with information, facts, data, opinions on a story that I believed to be true, however, my initial perception being proven wrong. I will do the best I can not to be too harsh with my comments. However, so there is no misunderstanding, I am not saying anything about you at all.

    • I understand, Jeffrey.I do not take your criticisms personally, but they are broad generalizations. I think the behavior you are describing here is true of both the left and the right, especially on the extremes. But when you get down to it, that is normal expected human behavior. Minds do not change easily, especially if your news sources are ideologically narrow, and in the last decade or so people’s sources have become even more rigidly narrow than ever. It’s no wonder our country is so divided. Sometimes Americans cannot agree on basic facts.Of course, the worst example of all of this is our president.

  27. Arlen Grossman, I am opposed to the estate tax personally. Having said that, if it had to be retained, I do not think the rate for the estate tax should exceed 15%. In my personal opinion, money is better spent in the private sector. Besides, the family that earned that money should be able to keep a good share of it, as well as being able to pass it on to whoever they wish. Yes, the family heirs would be getting money that they have not earned, however, if the estate tax was retained to some degree, that would lead to more revenue for the government, as well as the other taxes that pay for the functions of government. Now, regarding Rick Santorum’s idea, what would it take in your opinion to make sure that more benefits went to the poor and middle income families than to the rich?

  28. Arlen Grossman, when I said that Rick Santorum’s idea should appeal to both sides of the aisle, I mean that in the sense that both sides would win. How? It keeps the tax rate, which keeps more money in the private sector. So the conservatives get something they want. Another thing is that it does not give people who get the share of their income from capital gains an excuse to avoid paying the taxes on the gain. The liberals also win in this case. From the standpoint of working people, if they get more money in their paychecks as a result of this plan, however, the taxes are shifted more toward the rich regardless, would you be good with that?

  29. Arlen Grossman, you had said that Rick Santorum had some good ideas in his presentation. He had said that you would have a tax-free threshold of $60, 000.00 to $70, 000.00 under his plan, which means that a family that made less than that would be paying nothing in federal income taxes. What does this mean? A big win for low income and poor families. Even though I said subject capital gains tax to a sliding scale in one post, if I had to pay 20% on a potential gain. I would have no problem with this. When I had said that if my tax dollars were spent responsibly, I could care less how high my taxes are, you told me that a lot of people feel as I do. What most people who object to a flat tax do not seem to grasp is that it is not meant to benefit solely the wealthy. Yes, they would reap some benefit, however, if you have a tax-free amount, with a flat rate on anything above that, we all win. People who presently pay no income taxes at the federal level would still be free of any tax liability. I would say that if you earn $50, 000.00 a year or less, you should pay nothing. If you earn $58, 000.00, you would pay 20%, with capital gains being taxed at 20%. Part of the inequality issue is that we do not provide incentives in the tax code that encourage savings and investment.

    • Wait a second, Jeffrey. If the rich pay less than they do now, and the poor don’t pay anything, who will be funding the government? Wouldn’t there be increased taxes on the middle class? And if you say fund the government less, I would respond: then what would get cut? If it’s the military and tax subsidies for the rich, then it might work for me.

      • Arlen Grossman, if I had any say so, I would look for areas where government is demonstrably proven to waste taxpayer money and reduce the ability of the government to waste it. Regarding the estate tax, I am personally opposed to it. Having said that, if it was retained, I would make the estate tax 15%. People who have families that they leave behind at the time of their deaths should be able to leave the lion’s share of their assets to them.

        • Jeffrey, if you really want to know where I stand, read this article by Them Hartmann, someone I very much admire. https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/they-are-coming-your-social-security-and-medicare. It’s a bit long, but covers all the important matters.

          • Arlen Grossman, I read that story thoroughly. Here are quotes from it that I take issue with: “Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been working overtime to kneecap institutions that support the American middle class. And, as any working-class family can tell you, the GOP has had some substantial successes, particularly in shifting both income and political power away from voters and toward billionaires and transnational corporations.” “These programs, along with free public education and progressive taxation, are the core drivers and maintainers of the American middle class. History shows that without a strong middle class, democracy itself collapses, and fascism is the next step down a long and terrible road.” “Instead, unregulated markets—particularly markets not regulated by significant taxation on predatory incomes—invariably lead to the opposite of a healthy middle class: they produce extremes of inequality, which are as dangerous to democracy as cancer is to a living being.” “Tragically, Republicans are today planning to destroy both our nation’s progressive taxation system and our social safety net, in obsequious service to their billionaire paymasters.” Progressive taxation is a Communist/Marxist originated concept. Unless a rich person comes out and says, “The government is not taxing me enough,” all calls for taxes on the rich are based on spite and envy. A tax on our labor is reprehensible, as would be a tax on investment if the tax is to high. The estate tax is also immoral.

          • I’m glad you took the time to read Hartmann’s article. Of course, Jeffrey, the quotes you disagree with are the core of the article, and from my point of view, are very important.  I don’t understand your hostility toward taxes. Taxes are necessary in order to have a society worth living in. Taxes are needed to fund that kind of society. And those who have most benefited from our system and taken advantage of favorable breaks, should pay the most to fund it. I may not agree with how our tax money is spent, but I am glad we pay taxes in order to fund the military, infrastructure, medical advances, education, social security, Medicare, etc., and help fellow Americans who have fallen on hard times or are struggling to put food on the table. I see taxes as the price we pay to live in a decent, not selfish, society. The quote “History shows that without a strong middle class, democracy itself collapses, and fascism is the next step down a long and terrible road.” I worry we are heading down that long and terrible road with Trump and the GOP.

          • The hostility is misinterpreted. As I had said, if my tax dollars were spent responsibly, I could care less how high my taxes are. Just let me be the one to decide where that money goes, not some bureaucratic political types who cannot handle our money responsibly.

          • As I probably said before, Jeffrey, everyone thinks they can spend our tax dollars more wisely. Me included. But it will never happen because it’s not workable. So you either work together with others to make society better or you enrich yourself.  That’s about all the choices you have.

          • Arlen Grossman, the estate tax is fundamentally immoral. Just saying, “It’s unfair for someone to leave a large estate and a wealth of assets to heirs that may not have earned it” indicates an attitude of envy and spite. What if someone wants to use that money to open up a business? Why should the government be able to take a large bite out of that apple?

          • The estate tax is a joke, anyway. An individual starts paying it only after $11+ million dollars. The super-wealthy should pay the tax. We don’t need any more Donald Trumps. If you dropped the estate tax only privileged white people would benefit and become super-wealthy for doing nothing. The Walton family alone has more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. You may be okay with that but I find it obscene.

          • Arlen Grossman, even if we keep the estate tax, I say that the rate should not exceed 15%. The fact of the matter is that people who work hard and pay a multitude of taxes anyway should not be forced to fork over half of what they want to leave to their living family members to a government that cannot keep its fiscal house in order. The “it’s not fair” line of argument that those on the Left make regarding the assets that non-leftist types want to leave to future generations indicates an attitude of wanting to mooch off of these people. Yes, I get that those on the Left are freeloaders for the most part, however, these people need to stop asking for handouts so often and work for a living. Just like the minimum wage, which is basically by legal dictate, why should a business owner pay one person a set amount of money for their labor and another person the same amount if the other person does not work as hard?

          • I could live with a 15% estate tax (for those having more than $5 million). I think what you don’t take into account, Jeffrey, is how much the wealthy get in subsidies and huge tax breaks from the government (after all, they own Congress). I know you think all poor people are moochers, but the truth is that many of them are working, but don’t receive enough to live on. Hence the need for a livable wage somewhere around $15 an hour (so the government won’t have need to subsidize the working poor, which happens now. Many Walmart workers have to get food stamps to get by). And if a employer wants to pay his best workers more, he can do that. No problem there.

          • I do not think poor people are moochers. The real moochers are the big corporations and big CEO types who cheat their employees out of their fair share of the profits the business earns. With the estate tax at 15%, it may be low percentage wise. However, if it hits the wealthy people more than the rest of the population, I see no issue with that. Perhaps my generalization of those on the Left may seem harsh. You are one person who seems to be very reasonable. The issue as I see things is how these people do not seem to actively think through what their professors teach them without questioning the validity of what the teachers teach. You made a very valid point with my Joe and Steve example, where Joe who works hard would earn more money and lazy Steve would get laid off or fired.

          • You sound very reasonable in this response, Jeffrey. It’s a good thing when we see things similarly. Now if only Congress can do the same.

  30. Arlen Grossman, I know that in a marginal tax rate system you pay taxes on any dollar amount above a certain threshold. From a marginal standpoint, I do not believe the tax rate should exceed 20%. If that is not good enough, eliminate or cap most of the deductions to make up the difference. Even though I had offered an idea where capital gains was taxed on a sliding scale, even if I had to pay 20% in taxes on the potential gain, it would not deter me from making an investment if it still generated a sizeable return, ultimately resulting in more money in the long run. Here is a video for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsZVTDdQvFY I do not agree with Rick Santorum on everything he says. However, this plan should appeal to both sides of the political aisle.

    • There are some good ideas in Santorum’s presentation, Jeffrey, especially the simplicity of it, and that capital gains taxes would be the same as other income.
      But I would like to see the finished numbers, because if it ultimately just helped the rich more than working people, then you would lose me. The part about repealing Obamacare bothers me, too, as that is something that has helped a lot of mid-to-low-income Americans. But still, I can see the appeal of this idea.

      • Arlen Grossman, if we had a flat tax where earned income and capital gains were treated the same, this would still technically mean that the rich are paying more. As far as estate tax goes, I say get rid of it. Quite honestly, I believe that people should be able to keep most of what they earn. Personally, I like Rick Santorum in a lot of ways. My only issues with him are his stance on foreign policy, which seems too interventionist, his opposition to gay marriage, as well as his stance on drug legalization.

        • I believe in a higher estate tax. When you say ‘I believe that people should be able to keep most of what they earn” let’s not forget that they are dead. Their heirs would be getting money they haven’t earned.

          • Arlen Grossman, no argument there. When I say keep most of what these people earn, which they bust their asses for, I was speaking of people who are among the living. If they want to pass that money onto future generations, as well as income that was saved after taxes I see no issue with that.

  31. Arlen Grossman, many factors can contribute to economic ills/woes. To scapegoat rich people is not an adequate solution. These people who argue for top marginal tax rates of 91% correctly note that it is a disincentive to sit on the money they have. However, to answer another argument that these people will make is that the wealthy people would put money that they would have paid themselves back into their businesses, as well as other things that give tax write-offs and have that money flow back into the economy, that point cannot be dismissed. My only real issue with the tax the rich crowd is that for the most part, these people want to mooch off of the labor of other people and feel like they are entitled to what other people have.

    • It’s not that complicated, Jeffrey. The rich have more than enough money (some even have obscene amounts, like Jeff Bezos). At the same time, millions in this country are hungry and/or homeless. The rich should be paying a lot more in taxes to help this huge inequality among Americans. They used to pay a lot more and the economy worked just fine.

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