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Home > Politics
Government Greed?
by Bob Powell, 7/19/15
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The text accompanying this meme:
"The government's greed is what's wrong with America." This is derived from an exchange with John Harwood on CNBC in which Sanders said that 90% would not be too high ... it's been that high before. It's been perverted from that ... explained in the article.

Yes, as described in this article, there is a problem with government being too big in many ways. This is used to feed the "government is too big" propaganda.

At Why Government and for What? I explain that the real debate should not be "big government" vs "small government", but government for what purposes?

The answer to this is that the need is for government to "promote the general Welfare" and tax for that purpose, as mandated in the Constitution of the United States. That's in contrast to what we mostly have today: "promote the special interest" welfare of corporations and the wealthy.

Libertarians like those who created this meme are both totally disconnected from economic reality and lying in service to their corporate masters.

As I note elsewhere on this site: The Libertarian Menace is more dangerous than the Communist Menace ever was. The reason: there's more corporate profit and money behind libertarianism; therefore the inevitable result is corporate domination of government.

That's known as fascism.

 See another lying meme below.



Subtitled:
Bernie Sanders, OMG!
He wants 90% of your money!!!

Contents:

The Interview that mentioned a 90% tax rate
Is the meme true? Did Sanders propose a 90% tax?
Hannity portrays Sanders as a Communist wanting a 98% tax!
How oppressed are the wealthy?
Do Americans understand the extent of Inequality?
What do most Americans think when polled?
Where's the greed? It's Corporate.
What about those Greedy "Takers"?
The attitude toward the homeless and those in poverty.
What's the Republican alternative?


Summary

This article describes how a current meme about government greed and Bernie Sanders blatantly distorts the truth about greed and inequality. As does the media. This is not a defense of Bernie Sanders. It's not a defense of socialism; I describe elsewhere that most of what's called socialism is actually policy to prevent the systemic failures of capitalism, not collectivism for collectivism's sake.

"When describing the University of Virginia: Here, We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." ― Thomas Jefferson

The meme from A Libertarian Future's Page is designed to bash Bernie Sanders as being a proponent of "greedy big government" that wants to "take 90% of your income". The subtext is that "government is greedy to give the lazy takers stuff", when the reality is that government largesse is primarily directed toward the already-wealthy and corporations. But then, why use truth and reason when it's so easy to distort for economic and political profit?

Seeing this kind of mendacious attack is actually good news. It shows Sen. Sanders isn’t afraid of Wall Street, but that Wall Street is terrified of his message and the movement building around him.

Democratic socialism is not the outrageous suggestion many think it is. We have a mixed economy, some things public and most private. It's not outrageous to think that citizen voters should decide on what the mix should be. See Socialism and Democratic Socialism.

The U.S. economic system is rigged to drive the vast majority of Americans into poverty and enrich the already wealthy. It's been an enormous success at doing exactly that. Congratulations.

Added 5/13/16

Hannity portrays Sanders as a Communist wanting a 98% tax. Their lies know no bounds.

Sean Hannity continues the false narrative about Sanders "wanting to take all your money". He said this, falsely equating socialism and democratic socialism with communism, on 5/10/16 when covering Sanders' West Virginia primary victory speech:

Bernie Sanders on Hot Mic During Victory Speech by Tommy Christopher, 5/11/16. Another link.

Hannity: "We’re going to dip in real quick and watch the socialist, Bernie Sanders, step up to the microphone. There he is. You know, to each according to his need, from each each according to his ability. Spread the wealth. Tax people at 98%. That’s pretty much the message of Bernie Sanders."

Those who say Sanders wants to tax everyone at 90% as under Eisenhower or at 98% as Sean Hannity not telling the truth.

Sanders proposed top marginal tax rates are the same as now for those who make less than $250K. The top marginal rate is 52% compared to 39.6% now.

Added 3/24/16.

170 Prominent Economists Back Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Rein in Wall Street by Tom Cahill, 1/14/16

Financial experts, academics, and economists from across the nation are officially endorsing Bernie Sanders’ proposal to break up big banks and bring justice to Wall Street. ...

Added 3/18/16. Asher Edelman, the model for the Gordon “greed is good” Gekko character in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street films, supports "Bernie Sanders, no question," because he, unlike most "conservatives", understands how the economy really works.

Greed is not good: Real-life Gordon Gekko backs Sanders for 'velocity of money' stance, 3/10/16 ... video of CNBC Fast Money interview.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, fresh from his upset win in Michigan, received an unexpected endorsement from a real-life symbol of Wall Street greed.

Asher Edelman, who inspired the Gordon "greed is good" Gekko character in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street films, was asked who he supported for president on CNBC’s Fast Money program.

"Bernie Sanders, no question," he responded quickly, to the surprise of others on the panel.

Considered one of the Godfathers of Wall Street, Edelman explained that the democratic socialist from Vermont is the straight-forward choice, given his economic platform.

“When you have the top one percent getting money, they spend 5-10 percent of what they earn,” said Edelman. “When you have the lower end of the economy getting money, they spend a 100, or 110 percent of what they earn. As you’ve had a transfer of wealth to the top, and a transfer of income to the top, you have a shrinking consumer base, basically, and you have a shrinking velocity of money.”

Added 1/2/16. On more misinformation from the Wall Street Journal that distorts reality.

Can America Afford Bernie Sanders' Agenda? by John T. Harvey, 9/21/15

On September 14, the Wall Street Journal published a piece arguing that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ proposed programs would be absolutely unaffordable (Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion). A number of people, including the economist on whose work those estimates were based, have rebutted their claim: ...

Gerald Friedman: An Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal on Its Bernie Sanders Hit Piece

James Kwak: Bernie Sanders Wants to Spend $18 Trillion: So What?

Robert Reich: 4 reasons the Wall Street Journal’s attack on Bernie Sanders is absurd

Matthew Yglesias: Bernie Sanders’s $18 trillion in proposed spending is more affordable than it sounds

While all make credible arguments, in the end they make the same mistake as the original Wall Street Journal article: they focus on whether or not Sanders’ programs will add to the national debt. But that’s a non-issue. The US can never be forced to default on the national debt, no matter how large. ...

But returning to the main point, anyone who says the federal government doesn’t have the budget to manage Sanders’ (or anyone else’s) programs doesn’t understand how modern macroeconomies work. The federal government’s budget is not analogous to your own and it cannot run out of money (for a longer explanation of this, see The Big Danger In Cutting The Deficit). If they want to say instead that his agenda (Bernie Sanders: Agenda for America) will push us to the point that our resources will be fully employed, that’s possible.

I also think, however, that’s kind of what he has in mind.

Added 12/18/15

Misinformation is widespread. Too few critically question what agrees with their preconceived thoughts.

Fake Photos in 2015, Steven Novella under Skepticism

If anything, it seems likely that misinformation will increase online. ... Fortunately, the resources exist to help any individual sort through the nonsense, but you have to make a conscious effort.

It is difficult to be eternally vigilant, but every should have at least a basic skeptical filter in place when accessing any information. Here are some red flags that should trigger a raised eyebrow:

What follows is a list of sources for debunking.

Added 9/27/15

What the Pundits and Experts Fail to Understand about the Bernie Sanders Phenomenon by Karim, 9/18/15

The reason political experts and models have failed to predict the rise of Bernie Sanders is that he is not playing by the established rules of the game.

... Both republicans and democrats understand that the current system in the United States essentially amounts to legalized bribery, and they aren’t happy about it. Yet politicians and pundits proudly tout the massive sums raised by each Super PAC as a statistical strength. ... And what about the balancing act that political favorites like Clinton and Bush have to find between donors and average voters? Normally all the participants are walking the same tight rope, Hillary has her backers and Bush has his (and often times they are the same). Under those conditions the best acrobat has an advantage, the most charismatic and efficient question “handler” (aka the best spin doctor) will win the race.

So the pundits look at Sanders, a man who is clearly not a political acrobat, and conclude he couldn’t possibly win the tight-rope race. But of course Sanders isn’t walking a tight-rope, he’s competing on foot. So we shouldn’t be asking ourselves who is faster between Clinton and Sanders, that is what the pundits are doing and it is precisely why they keep getting it wrong. The real question is can she walk a tight-rope faster than Bernie can run on the ground? I suspect some Clinton supporters will take issue with that claim but I would suggest they take a good look at how she has had to tiptoe around issues like the Trans Pacific Partnership, Keystone XL, and Glass-Steagall. ...

The fact that Clinton’s largest campaign contributors are companies like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley is not an irrelevant factor. If you don’t think this will create difficulties for Clinton that Sanders will not have, you are vastly underestimating the influence donors have over candidates (you can see her top 20 contributors here). Sanders has and will continue to have an unparalleled freedom to speak his mind on each and every issue, a trait which will continue to captivate an electorate starving for political honesty and transparency. This is an advantage that he has not only over the democratic candidates, but all the presidential candidates alike. ...

_____________________________

Subtitled: Bernie Sanders, OMG! He wants 90% of your money!!!

The Interview that mentioned a 90% tax rate

Before addressing what's wrong with the meme, look at the exchange from which it was derived ... and perverted.

CNBC Digital Video Exclusive: Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Sits Down With CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood, 5/26/15

HARWOOD: People on Wall Street, people in business ... some have even likened the progressive/Democratic crusade to Hitler's Germany hunting down the Jews. What do you think when you hear stuff like that?

SANDERS: It's sick. And I think these people are so greedy, they're so out of touch with reality. They think they own the world. And the idea that anybody like me or anybody else are challenging them and say, may be, just maybe there's something wrong when 99% of all new income goes to the top 1%. Oh, this is Hitlerism that you suggest that. What a disgusting remark. If you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1% [see chart just below], you know what, we've got to transfer that back. Radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90%.

The share of wealth owned by the top 0.1% is almost the same as the share owned by the bottom 90%.

Remind me again what happened in the 30s when inequality was this great? Oh yeah.



HARWOOD: When you think about 90%, you don't think that's obviously too high?

SANDERS: No. What I think is obscene and what frightens me is, again, when you have the top one tenth of 1% owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. Does anybody think that that is the kind of economy this country should have? Do we think it's moral? You got people not workin' one job. They're workin' two jobs, three jobs. People scared to death about what happens tomorrow. Half the people in America have less than $10,000 in savings.

Really? Harwood uses a "some say" comment to begin? Interviewers typically use that phrasing instead of "I think". What an obnoxious way to begin: asking if Sanders is on a "crusade" to "hunt down" the wealthy like Hitler did the Jews. Really?

It's no accident that Harwood raised the specter of Hitler. After all, Hitler's party was called the "National Socialist German Workers' Party" and the media unfailingly refers to Sanders as a "self-described socialist" (OMG). That's despite major Hillary Clinton ally, Claire McCaskill, stating "I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist." Actually, he's a Democratic Socialist.

Despite what Hitler called his party, as I make clear at this link, Hitler was not a socialist. His party was rabidly anti-union, anti-worker, anti-gay, and anti non-Aryan.

Bernie Sanders' response: "It’s sick. ... What a disgusting remark." Exactly.

By contrast, the question that Harwood might have asked instead is, "Did you know Albert Einstein was a socialist who saw 'the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development'? What do you think he knew that so many others don't?"

 

From The Best of the Left Podcast, 7/17/15:
#939 We are being failed in so many ways (Media)

How the Delusional Mainstream Media Dismisses Bernie Sanders - Majority Report with Sam Seder (@majorityfm) - Air Date: 05-28-15 (video)

Sam Seder discussing. among other things: It's not your everyday Americans at Bernie Sanders' kickoff rally:

Paraphrasing Sam: His issues are in line with the views of the majority of Americans on expanding Social Security, universal health care, child care, debt free college. Sanders is characterized as a "self-described socialist" ... what this is meant to convey: "I'm not disparaging Sanders, he describes himself that way. Don't blame me for saying that!"

How many times have you heard? "He's a self-described conservative."

 

Is the meme true? Did Sanders propose a 90% tax?

The Richest Rich Are in a Class by Themselves By Peter Coy  4/03/14:

The gains have accrued almost exclusively to the top tenth of 1 Percenters. The richest 0.1 percent of the American population has rebuilt its share of wealth back to where it was in the Roaring Twenties. And the richest 0.01 percent’s share has grown even more rapidly, quadrupling since the eve of the Reagan Revolution. ...

The message for strivers is that if you want to be very, very rich, start out very rich. ... “Our work shows that top wealth has surged,” Emmanuel Saez wrote.



As noted above, this meme is particularly good news because it so outrageously paints a false picture of reality. Not put too fine a point on it, it's a lie. It's easy to lie in a meme and this one really packs them in ... explicit and implicit lies:

  1. Was this about a 90% tax? No. There was a 90% marginal tax rate at the top. 

  2. Did Sanders propose a 90% tax? No. He noted it had been that high and Harwood asked, "... you don't think that's obviously too high?" Sanders said, "No," and explained why.

  3. Was this about a tax on all your income? No. There are deductions that everyone gets, including the wealthy, of course. 

  4. Is it Government that's Greedy? No. The "greed" is on the part of corporations and the wealthy that control the corporations and the government. This control is highly profitable; it's laughable that the meme refers to "government greed" given the largesse awarded to corporations.

  5. Would such a marginal tax rate be Outrageous? No. During the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower (1953 - 61, a Republican) the top marginal tax rate on income in 1952 & 1953 was 92%, paid on income over $1.7M (adjusted for inflation). During Eisenhower's other years it was 91%. 

    Recall, then the U.S. was paying for the costs of WWII. Similarly, we're now in debt for, and paying for, past and ongoing wars in Iraq & Afghanistan and interest on that debt. These are wars purposely not paid for by "conservatives". In contrast to what "conservatives" say about deficits today, former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill quoted Cheney as saying, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." [Actually, this is somewhat true; the deficits that matter a lot more are "trade" deficits that subtract from GDP.]

  6. Are the "poor wealthy" oppressed? Hardly. The interview and the meme ignore how the game is rigged against those who work for a wage; how "conservative" economic policies drive millions into poverty, keep them there, and further enrich the wealthy; and how almost all economic gains go to those at the top.

If citizens really understood the reality of how corporations and the wealthy have rigged the system -- as shown below -- they would be going after "conservative" politicians ... both "conservative" Republicans and "conservative" Democrats ... with pitchforks.

 

How oppressed are the wealthy?

It's an understatement to say the top 0.1% are doing incredibly well. Is it because they're smarter or work harder? No, it's because they've gamed the the economic system, rigging it so they can't help but do fantastically well.

The issue is not "redistribution", but the incredible class warfare, mal-distribution thanks to policies that enrich the wealthy and drive millions into poverty and keep them there.

Warren Buffett: "There's been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won."

At right is the reinforcing feedback loop that drives this mal-distribution.
The Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

These stunning facts illustrate just how successful that war has been. Now this is greed:

From 35 soul-crushing facts about American income inequality 7/15/15

The Golden Rule:
Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

This causal loop diagram shows The Golden Rule reinforcing feedback that drives how the game gets rigged and leads to ever-increasing economic and political power. This dynamic is described by John Sterman, Director of MIT's System Dynamics Group, in his book, Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, at The Rules of the Game.

A short excerpt: "In nations without a tradition of democratic government, these loops lead to self-perpetuating oligarchies where a tightly knit elite controls a huge share of the nation's wealth and income while the vast majority of people remain impoverished ... . Even in nations with strong democratic traditions these positive loops can overwhelm the checks and balances designed to ensure government of, by, and for the people."

That's exactly what's happened -- more and more since his book was published in 2000 -- and it's the fundamental truth that the meme above attempts to deny.



Economic returns flow increasingly to the top 1 percent. A Wall Street Journal article: Some 95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1%"That [inequality] trend has been unfolding for more than 30 years ..."

The financial industry’s 2014 bonuses were double the combined earnings of all Americans who work full-time at the federal minimum wage.

The poorest half of the US owns 2.5% of the country’s wealth. The top 1% owns 35%.

Since 1990, CEO compensation has increased by 300%Corporate profits have doubled. The average worker’s salary has increased 4%. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage has actually decreased.

The top 1% of America owns 50% of investment assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds). The poorest half of America owns just 0.5% of the investments.

The wealthiest 85 people on the planet have more money that the poorest 3.5 billion people combined.

From Moonwalking By John Rachel, 4/3/2015

In the mid-80s ... [t]he bottom 90% of Americans claimed ownership of over 36% of the national wealth. That has fallen to 23% and now the top 0.1% owns as much as that bottom 90%.

... $30 trillion of new wealth was ... generated between 2007 and 2014, and the 115,000 households which comprise the wealthiest 0.1% were increasing their annual earnings by an average of $10 million per year, [and] the number of children on food stamps grew from 9.5 to 16 million ... 138,000 of those kids were homeless.

More appalling facts and figures.

But somehow, "conservatives" assert that increasing the minimum wage to make it a living wage would be a "job killer" and bring on economic Armageddon in America! Amazing mendacity;economic Armageddon has already arrived for the vast majority of Americans.

The graph at right shows that for decades now wages no longer track productivity.


Do Americans understand the extent of Inequality?

It's only possible for a meme such as this one to be believed because "... most people don’t know how rich or poor they are relative to others." The chart below shows how poorly Americans understand the enormity of inequality compared to "what they think it is" and "what they think it should be". And most are totally unaware of the facts above.

Cited from Misperceiving Inequality: "If the experts cannot assess inequality accurately, it strains credulity to suppose the man in the street can gauge it intuitively. And the difficulty of measuring the actual income distribution does not affect our second point: that perceptions of inequality — whether or not they are accurate — do correlate with political preferences."


What do most Americans think when polled?

Gallop poll, Americans Continue to Say U.S. Wealth Distribution Is Unfair, 5/4/15, in April 2013 and April 2015 both got the same split:

Wages have not kept up with productivity. This chart shows Americans would be making ~2.2 times what they do now had wages kept up with productivity. We wouldn't need cheaper products from China were this the case.

Note that wages began to lag in a major way when Reagan and his "conservative" revolution began the war on those who work for a wage.



"Do you think out government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?"

All: Yes: 52%; No: 45%.  
Democrats: 75% / 23%
Independents: 50% / 47%;
Republicans: 29% / 70%.

A majority favor "heavy taxes on the rich", despite the fact that the question is enormously biased against a Yes answer.

Why is it enormously biased? Because it's not grounded in an explanation of the reality of the enormous mal-distribution that's been occurring for 35 years as illustrated by the graph above on wages and productivity.


Where's the greed? It's Corporate

The three categories below, that don't include all corporate subsidies, add to $263B/year.

  1. Federal Subsidies: The right-wing CATO Institute's estimate is that corporate welfare in the federal budget costs taxpayers almost $100B a year.

  2. State, County & City Subsidies:New York Times investigation found that these are over $80B each year. Those subsidized include oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains. Corporate Subsidy Watch supports a national search engine for economic development subsidies and other forms of government financial assistance to business.

  3. Implicit Bank Subsidies: These subsidies are implicit because the large banks, can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail, which lowers their costs. 
    Note: This story, "Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year?", has disappeared from Bloomberg's site, but it can be found in here and here.

    What Americans think about wealth inequality in one graph. Note the bottom 20% own so little, the line is difficult to even see.

    As Washington's Blog puts it:
    - The editors at Bloomberg News (hardly a bunch of populists) calculated this $83 billion figure based upon their analysis of the figures in a sadly ignored but rigorous study that had been done by IMF economists, a study that had been issued months back, in May 2012, and which was titled "Quantifying Structural Subsidy Values for Systemically Important Financial Institutions."
    - Bloomberg’s editors summarized the reason for this ongoing federal subsidy: "The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail," due to the special Government backing for too-big-to-fail (TBTF) institutions.
    - The taxpayer-funded annual subsidy to these TBTF banks has never before been calculated as to its actual annual dollar-value, but this rigorous IMF study finally provided the means for doing that. 
    - Bloomberg’s summarizes: What if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?”

  4. Find more subsidies here: Add It Up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business

  5. The Mother of Rigging the System: The Federal Reserve is owned and operated by the big banks; it loans money to the banks at a rate that's practically 0% and the banks then lend that back to the U.S. government that pays the banks 3%! Free money ... wouldn't you like that deal instead of  paying what you do ... 16% or more? 

Another lying anti-Sanders meme.

It's a lie because "the misery" is laid on those with less income thanks to policies that drive people into poverty and keep them there and make the wealthy even richer.


Are Banks Borrowing from the Fed at Low Interest and Making Money Buying U.S. Treasuries? BY MURREY JACOBSON, 5/20/10

"The Fed is keeping short-term interest rates low and implicitly insuring that TBTF (too big to fail) banks will never F. ... As a result of the Fed’s negligible short-term rates and implicit insurance, the B banks can borrow in the global capital markets at near-zero cost, short term. They can then take that money and buy Treasuries – i.e., lend the money to the U.S. government."

Who knows what this subsidy is worth, but it's not included in the $263B number above.


What about those Greedy "Takers"?

For comparison spending on what's generally called welfare is a fraction of corporate welfare. What's generally thought of as welfare are TANF (Temporary Assistance For Needy Families) and food stamps, the combined cost of which is $96B

Some may be aware that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) commissioned a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report that he asserts point to "federal welfare programs" being $1.03T. His claim rests on an enormously flawed definition of what constitutes "welfare". Actually, what's generally perceived as welfare is ~1/10 of what Sessions purports it to be.

Sessions claims: Welfare Spending The Largest Item In The Federal Budget

Ranking Member from Jeff Sessions and the minority staff of the Senate Budget Committee requested from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) an overview of cumulative means-tested federal welfare spending in the United States in the most recent year for which data is available (fiscal year 2011).

The results are staggering. CRS identified 83 overlapping federal welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense. The total amount spent on these 80-plus federal welfare programs amounts to roughly $1.03 trillion.

Here's why that's wrong:

"The reason Bernie is popular is not because of Bernie," Reich said. "It's not because of Bernie's charisma or good looks or charm or sense of humor. It's because he is channeling a movement that has grown over the years and is gaining force in America."

From "Robert Reich: Bernie is our only hope for real political change," by ROBERT REICH Salon, 1/27/16

"If the goal is to end big money's chokehold on our democracy, then the choice this election is no choice at all."

Everyone's a Queen - The Republicans' rapidly expanding definition of welfare By Timothy Noah 4/2/13

The budget committee poobah is Senator Jeff Sessions. In October, Sessions put out a press release under the headline “Welfare Spending the Largest Item in the Federal Budget,” a claim repeated uncritically by Eric Bolling on “The Five,” a Fox News chat show, and on sites such as National Review and Human Events. An urban myth was born.

“Welfare” is commonly understood to refer to Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF), the block grant program that replaced Aid To Families With Dependent Children under the 1996 welfare-reform law. The federal government spends about $18 billion per year on TANF. Sometimes “welfare” is also understood to mean food stamps. The federal government spends $78 billion per year on food stamps. Combined cost: $96 billion. Annual expenditures on Social Security ($731 billion), Medicare ($486 billion), and defense ($718 billion) are each greater by a factor of five or more. (... data for fiscal year 2011.) ...

Eric Bolling on Fox News Echoes GOP's Misleading Definition Of Welfare, 10/20/12

Fox's Eric Bolling relied on a Republican-commissioned study on federal spending for social benefit programs to claim the government spends more than $1 trillion on welfare. In fact, spending on welfare comprises less than two-tenths of a percent of the federal budget.

One might observe that almost everything can be seen as "means tested." For example, the home mortgage deduction (even allowed for second homes) is worth more to those with higher incomes because they're in a higher tax bracket. So that could be classified as "means tested welfare" that benefits the wealthy; in this case, more means, more welfare.

And that's actually the way it is, our system is set up to favor the wealthy and drive millions into poverty. I list the ways how at Policies that drive people into poverty and exacerbate income and wealth inequality.

Warren Buffett: "There's been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won."

Totally.

The attitude toward the homeless and those in poverty.

In a nutshell: I have a right to not see those in poverty.

‘Tech bro’ says homeless people are ruining San Francisco By Michael E. Miller WASHINGTON POST, 2/18/16

"I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society," Keller wrote, admitting that he only arrived in San Francisco three years ago. "The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day."

Justin Keller's Open letter to SF Mayor Ed Lee and Greg Suhr (police chief) 2/15/16

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. ...

What's the Republican alternative?

A flat tax. This may sound fair, but it ignores the path dependence dynamic that drives inequalities of income and wealthy even when everyone starts with equal resources and abilities -- think about the game, Monopoly, in which who's the smartest or hardest-working has little or nothing to do with who wins. So-called, "conservative" policies put that dynamic on steroids.

Rick Perry's flat tax, for example, cuts taxes for the wealthy, raises taxes at the bottom, and cuts government revenue.

Here are Republican alternatives noted at Bernie Sanders Would Tax The Income Of The Wealthiest Americans At 90 Percent BY BRYCE COVERT, 5/26/15

So far, many Republican presidential candidates have proposed a radically different approach: a flat tax. Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)Sen. Rand Paul (KY), and Ben Carson have all backed this idea. The details of each proposal differs, but the basic premise is an attempt to simplify the tax code by only having one rate that everyone pays, rather than the current system in which rates increase as income increases.

An analysis of one flat tax plan put forward by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) found that it would raise taxes for those at the bottom of the income scale by between $102 and $462, while the tax bill for those making more than $1 million a year would decrease by about a half million dollars. [italics added]

It would also lower government revenue by between $500 billion and $1 trillion a year. If a candidate wanted to maintain the current level of revenue, it would require taxing everyone, rich or poor, by at least 25 percent

What Rand Paul's flat tax plan would look like:

What can be said is that his flat tax proposals would bring in far less revenue than the current system. Why? If he wanted to maintain the current amount of revenue, that would require a flat rate of at least 25%, said Joseph Rosenberg, a senior research associate of the Tax Policy Center.

Idiotic Rand Paul knows nothing about path dependence or economics. Pathetic.

From: Rand Paul: “Poor People Don’t Have Money Because They Don’t Work Hard Like The Rest Of Us” by Valentine Stevenson, 8/10/15

Asked if his flat tax plan would further separate the haves from the have-nots, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) said Sunday that income inequality is the result of some Americans working harder than others, rather than economic policies. "The thing is, income inequality is due to some people working harder and selling more things," Paul told host Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "If people voluntarily buy more of your stuff, you’ll have more money."

Paul has proposed what he calls a "flat and fair tax," which would put a flat 14.5 percent tax on all types of income. An analysis by the Tax Foundation found that under the plan, households earning more than $1 million per year would see their after-tax incomes rise by 13 percent. Households’ earnings between $50,000 and $75,000 per year, meanwhile, would see their after-tax income rise only by 3 percent.

"Doesn’t your plan massively increase income inequality?" Wallace asked. "It’s a fallacious notion to say, ‘Oh, rich people get more money back in a tax cut,'" Paul responded. "If you cut taxes 10 percent, 10 percent of a million is more than 10 percent of a thousand dollars. So, obviously, people who pay more in taxes will get more back." "We all end up working for people who are more successful than us," Paul went on, "and that’s a good thing, that more money will be back in the economy."

Economists know very well that tax cuts for those with lower incomes boost the economy much more than tax cuts for those with top incomes, but Republicans propose the opposite.

Tax Cuts For Whom? Heterogeneous Effects of Income Tax Changes on Growth and Employment, Owen M. Zidar, NBER Working Paper No. 21035, March 2015. This costs $5 to download; find a preliminary, 4 month earlier, free version here.]

This paper investigates how tax changes for different income groups affect aggregate economic activity. ... I find that the positive relationship between tax cuts and employment growth is largely driven by tax cuts for lower-income groups and that the effect of tax cuts for the top 10% on employment growth is small.

 


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