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Taxing the Rich? Not Taxing the Rich?

Taxing the Rich?  Not Taxing the Rich?

I’ve been pondering all of this taxation, fiscal cliff stuff and trying my best to have an open mind to both sides of the debate.  My views have been deeply changed and the reality of some of this is kind of astonishing.

I know I am seriously oversimplifying the debate, but a key question is if raiding taxes on those with astronomical amounts of money helps the economy and job creation or if giving them greater tax breaks empowers them to do a better job of creating jobs and thus creating a better economy.

I did this and have to force myself to think of the ridiculously rich people and ridiculously rich corporations as the same since the Supreme Court has declared corporations to be people.

The trickle down theory of economics implies that if they extremely rich have a bit more money to play with they will grow their empires which will involve creating more jobs to serve in the building and sustaining of these empires as well as growing their wealth more to lead to more empire building and more jobs.  With more jobs and more money there will be more spending and the more employees with more money will be spending and the economy will have more money moving around.

I encountered a few stories about tax breaks for big oil companies and I remembered being angry a few times over the past few years at stories of these companies making record profits at the same time that the American people were paying record prices for gasoline.  Then I was miffed by public statements from these companies that the record prices and record profits were not related.

Then when all of this conversation about tax breaks started, I found out that these companies were still getting tremendously large tax breaks (AKA assistance) while making record profits.

So in trying to open my mind, I thought, “Well, maybe in all of this more jobs were created and so on as I have been being force fed as an idea.”

I found nothing but evidence to the contrary (one of the clearest and well done articles http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2012/02/07/11145/big-oils-banner-year/)

Looking at the evidence I have found in my admittedly casual research, it seems that nothing seems to happen with more money but more greed and a lust for more power to keep the fountain of wealth flowing.

Some who are old enough might remember back in the seventies when the OPEC folks slowed production of oil to raise prices and absolutely jacked up the economy to levels where gas had to be rationed and panic was a way of life.

Well, our big oil companies were doing the same thing when we were all dying at the pumps as we still are.  Now with us numb to the inflated prices that we pay for gas the profits over the past few years have been at levels never seen before and the tax breaks still remain in place.

It’s like a person who is on welfare (or some other government program) because he/she lost his/her job, getting a job that makes him/her absolutely rich (more so with each paycheck) and being able to still collect welfare.  As a matter of fact, there are people on Capitol Hill trying to say that because the welfare worked so well in helping this person get the job, we should make that persons welfare check even larger to make that job even better.

If confronted on this logic, then the argument turns to the idea that even though this person is getting rich right now, what if this person isn’t making as much next year or the year after?  In this example, what if this person loses the job?  We need to keep this person who is getting rich on welfare because he/she might struggle again later.  WTH!!!!

It seems that once the government steps in to help you out and you become rich, it might be time for you to start carrying your weight.  You know:  Like how others pulled the weight when you were struggling which allowed you to pay less.

Let’s look at the logic and the arguments specifically the ridiculous nature of these arguments.

Over the election season I heard a few arguments and debates on the idea of how the rich pay more money in taxes than the rest of the population and that means that they should be taxed less.

So let’s imagine that all taxes were ten percent of your income for everybody (because the math is easy).  A person making ten million dollars a year would pay a whopping million dollars a year.  A person making thirty thousand dollars a year would only pay three thousand dollars a year. 

The logic is that if we give the ten million dollar a year person a massive tax break, the economy will end up better.  In my research I found a few different numbers about percentages of taxes paid but it seems to be a pretty general consensus that the rich pay taxes on about 2.7 percent of their income.

Lets round that off to three percent (the math is easier and it gives them the benefit of the doubt point three percent) and run the numbers.  That means that my ten million dollar a year person only pays taxes on three hundred thousand dollars which reduces the taxes from being a million dollars a year to thirty thousand dollars.

So, the idea that the rich already pay considerably more than the rest of the population is absolutely true.  In fact, in this example the rich person pays exactly what the other person makes in the year (Numbers I picked by accident, but it is pretty cool numerically).

The problem is that the amount of responsibility each person carries is not proportionate.  In other words I think the logic of all of this is a terribly flawed system.

Picture our economy as a tug-of-war with the rest of the world.  On our side there are small, incredibly weak people, weak people, normal people, slightly strong people and a few massively strong giants that could probably do the tug-of-war match all by themselves.

What would happen if the massively strong giants decide that they do too much of the pulling and decided they should not have to pull so hard.  This few decide to pull using slightly more pulling power than the incredibly weak people are puling with when pulling with all of their might. 

Can you honestly say that the massively strong giants are doing their part?  If the team starts to lose the tug-of-war terribly and the massively strong giants refuse to pull any harder and as a matter of fact complain that they should be pulling less, are they really pulling their weight on the team?

The tug-of-war only works if every person involved gives their all.  If the weaker people are giving their all and the stronger people are just giving some because they are comparing themselves to the strength of the weaker people shouldn’t you look at the stronger people when you are losing?

The few, massively strong people in our economy are not pulling their weight and are refusing to.  We are losing the tug-of-war match and are about to fall over fiscal cliffs and back into recessions and this few is talking about how they already pull more than the rest of us why should they pull as hard as they can.

Now on to the idea that at least this extra money is creating jobs and building the economy, which assumes the giving nature of these people (and corporations) who are already not pulling as hard as they could.

In the case of the big oil companies, record profits (plus 2 billion is subsidies) led to, producing less oil.  The money didn’t go into producing more oil or new jobs etc. (they did do exploration and had some jobs come and go but not substantially more then when they didn’t have record profits) the money went into buying their own stock and into buying political power.

According to the article I referenced earlier, in 2011 the big five oil companies spent $1.6 million on campaign contributions and $65.7 million on lobbying efforts.  Apparently, the only jobs created were in politics.

I am becoming more and more a fan of the idea of a flat tax.  Then everyone in the tug-of-war would pull as hard as they are able and the whole group does its best.  I do believe that there could be tax breaks for groups that are somehow in need, but that has to be a break that is only in place during the time of need.  If you are breaking world records for income, I am not sure a tax break that was to help you when you were down is still a valid use of tax breaks.  I think your need is over and it is your turn to repay those that carried the weight when you were down by taking your turn to carry the weight.

I know the wording has been tweaked a bit to describe “raising the taxes on the rich” and having the rich carry the burden of the economy etc., but I have realized that all we are talking about is bringing things back to where everybody is giving the same amount of effort.  The stronger pull as hard as they can and the weaker pull as hard as they can even though that means the stronger pull with more strength than the weaker.

So, I am starting to realize that this idea of raising the taxes on the ultra rich that the Republican Party is probably the right idea especially when the economy is bad.  I am not saying that I am buying everything the Democrats are peddling right now, but I am starting to see how this one concept is just sensible.

The Republicans’ insistence on getting as close to this “Fiscal Cliff” as possible while sticking to the idea that they will never allow anything that raises taxes on the ultra rich is an astonishing stand on foolish grounds especially since the American people have overwhelmingly voted to show that this is what they want.  If the democratic process has clearly stated that this is what a large majority of the American public wants then why are they letting the extremist arm of their party direct them in this illogical direction that threatens to ruin their party and throw us over this “Fiscal Cliff” (which will raise taxes on everybody including the rich anyhow on New Years Day).

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High Times or Low Times

 

High Times or Low Times

Every one is now talking about the votes in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana for recreational use.  I am actually surprised at this conflict, but I am glad that someone else besides us Californians are finally the crazy hippies making up wild and unreasonable laws and being the nation’s crazy cousins.

Here is the deal (especially if you are not in the United States):  Federally speaking our government has declared Marijuana illegal, but some states have decided to declare I legal in their state and fly the proverbial “bird” at the federal regulators.

To start I will make it clear that I oppose this idea.

One reason is the idiotic idea that if the federal organizations that we put in place to regulate drugs, medicines etc. can be overrun by states at any given moment then we actually have no governing body or guidance for the chemicals that are introduced to people’s systems.  Either these governing bodies are the law or they are not.

Here in California (particularly during the daytime and ridiculously odd hours of the morning) we are inundated with commercials for drugs and chemical products that were once normal and available over the counter or by prescription that have now been deemed so unsafe that lawyers come on television to gather all the people who used these substances together to be a part of the massive lawsuit that is taking place.

Once it is determined that these substances can cause catastrophically negative results, the federal government steps in and deems that substance illegal due to the lack of safety.  These organizations have deemed marijuana illegal and unsafe.

Some states have decided that the sovereignty of the state allows each state to override these laws and do whatever they want as part of a democracy.

The big misunderstanding here begins with the idea that we are a democracy.  In a true democracy, at least in concept, every person has a say in everything.  The founding fathers of the United States felt that allowing every person to have a say in every little thing the government does would make every decision incredibly slow and would be prone to the confusion of the crazy ends of various views.

They decided to have a representative democracy where everyone has a vote on who represents you in the various levels of government and then those people make the decisions (by vote) on these things.  This (in theory) makes the decisions faster and should limit the power of the crazy wings of society from gaining too much influence (they so underestimated the power of crazy people gathering together).

In this case the states are attempting to override the representatives they have at the federal level by basically saying that they refuse to listen to what they have to say.  In other words a few states (including my state, California) have decided to undermine the representative democracy that we have in place and the people those folks have put in place to protect our safety.

In a representative democracy, the fact a group of us disagree is not an acceptable reason to ignore what they say as a matter of fact, it is an expected norm.  The fact all things are done by vote implies that there will be groups of people in most (if not all) decisions who do not agree with the government.  Do those people get to do whatever they heck they want in every decision?  If so then there is no democracy pr representative democracy:  What we have then is a chaos of every man, woman and child for themselves.

This is not a war on drugs or against the war on drugs, this is not a fight against oversized government or for the rights of states, the passing of these laws is a war against our form of democracy and as such a war on our own government as an institution.

Moving on, another reason I oppose this law is the foolishness of the arguments that so many have been programmed to believe.  It is amazing to me how many people have been programmed with little quotes such as:

  • Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and kills less people so it should be legal
  • Marijuana is not really a drug, it comes from the ground (as if many of the different drugs on earth do not come from natural substances – should poison mushrooms be legalized because some group of people decide they are not dangerous)
  • Legalizing drugs will put drug dealers out of business and eliminate a large segment of the crime we experience in our cities.  Like legalizing alcohol eliminated all of the crime from prohibition.

Comparing marijuana to alcohol is not even as close as comparing apples to oranges, it is more like comparing apple juice to being beat up in your sleep.

Why do I believe that alcohol should be legal:  because it is simply a drink that can be abused.  Alcohol has become a major part of many cultures because of lack of access to good water etc. and has been used for centuries in some cultures at every meal often without any intoxication etc.  You can get drunk and can get addicted to it, yet you can sip a fine wine with a plate of pasta or Mediterranean food and never run any risk of intoxication (unless you are already an alcoholic I suppose).

In terms of the use of marijuana, the main reason people use it is always to be intoxicated.  I have had conversation after conversation about this with people and I always set them up the same way (for a large part of my life I was an avid pot smoker myself so I am not alien to the culture):  After the person has gone into a discourse about all of the other reasons he/she uses marijuana and how high is not the goal, I ask the question that requires a heart and mind check.  What if I had a virgin Marijuana that would have the exact same smell and taste as well as producing all of the same results, yet would not produce any “high” at all.  Would you still want to use it?

This is usually met with stumbles and confusion and in a few rare cases a person may try to convince themselves (which is usually painfully obvious) that this would make no difference.  The honest truth is however, that the real desired result is to be intoxicated and the other possible positive effects could be better produced by other substances in existence minus the high.

So, the truth is that the conflict is not one of if some awesome medicine is ripped out of the hands of those desperately in need by the evil federal morons based on one-hundred year old propaganda.  The conflict is about weather or not the government has the right to stop people from getting high or not.

On California, a few years ago, a law was put before us to allow the terminally ill and incredibly sick to use marijuana by prescription.  There were images of the desperately ill in commercials and discussions of depriving the dying from some level of peace.  I suppose I drank the Kool-Aid along with many others and I voted for this law.  I use the term law loosely because it turned out to be a Trojan horse.

As I stated previously, I have only been out of the culture of constant pot use for so long and at the time this was passed in California I got to see the insanity of the fallout.  Suddenly, a huge segment of my friend-base sought out information about what things you need to say to get a card that allows you to legally smoke marijuana and which doctors either were handing these “Cannabis Cards” out like candy at the receptionist’s desk or who you could pay a small fee to and they would write you a prescription.

Suddenly, I had droves of friends with incessant headaches and back pain.  Some were thanking God for their cataracts and on and on.

Then there were trips to “Cannabis Clubs” which are sort of like warehouse stores for cannabis (sort cannabis Costco or Sam’s Club).  With various kinds, potencies and ways of delivery and lots of potheads sitting around in all day as if in the Starbucks of pot in their tie-dyed Bob Marley shirts and multicolored knit hats.

Face it; the people of California got hustled.  I remember seeing on the news the story of a politician in southern California describing how there needed to be a limit on the number of “pot clubs” in their city because their city had allowed there to be more pot clubs then there were Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.  If you are not familiar with the culture of the cities in California then you might not understand how ridiculous of a development that is.  I didn’t research the facts of that statement etc. but I have noticed the ridiculous number of these things that have surfaced.  If there were really that many terminally ill people in every city in California for the amount of years that many of these things have been open then the entire populations of these cities would have been wiped out years ago, pot and all.

The terminally ill argument is a Trojan horse to Universal Pot Care and is the road to getting our tax dollars or your medical insurance to pay for you to smoke as much and as strong as you want.

Then we get back to this only true motivation being to get high.  What does it mean to be high?  This idea that intoxication is somehow a healthy thing is foolishness.  That somehow the dizziness, painful coughing, distorted thinking and processing is somehow a benefit to the body is a reach at the level of the ridiculous.  These things are all the results of your body trying to reject something.

In the case of smoking it, you start with the idea of ingesting smoke.  That, in and of itself is an incredibly unhealthy thing to do and is poisonous to your system.  The human body is simply not designed for ingesting smoke.  Before the pot smokers reading this get into the whole “safer than cigarettes” thing, I also used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and quit due to the fact that it was unhealthy (as well as expensive).  This logic is like saying shooting yourself in the head is worse than stabbing yourself in the head so I should be allowed to stab myself.

As a general rule, one of the signs of smoking “good weed” is the coughing that accompanies inhaling it unless you smoke so much that you train your system, not to choke on it.  What I am getting at is not the idea that this choking somehow kills you or anything like that, but what that choking symbolizes.  If you were to use something else, let’s say eating a turkey.  If you were sitting at a turkey dinner with your family and the turkey made you choke to the point of not breathing for a few seconds and almost throwing up, would you say:  “Man!  That’s some good turkey?”

Absolutely not!  That’s because the choking is a sign of your body rejecting something for whatever reason.

If a good marijuana causes intoxication: altered awareness, mild to heavy changes in equilibrium and several different kinds of artificial emotions etc. then is it not doing something ultimately unhealthy.  Is it not altering (weather in a small or large way) your brain chemistry and killing brain cells.

In what universe do we legalize something that is self destructive (which is already illegal) for casual fun.  How do we not see how changing the way you think, changing your ability to balance, and artificially altering the way you interact with world is not a normal part of your body’s functioning but the effects of your body resisting a mild level of poisoning?  This is a poisoning that is self-induced and that feels (what we believe) to be good when our body tries to fight and reject this poison.

I have been okay with use by the seriously or terminally ill in the same way the I believe that chemotherapy should be legal.  If someone is at that is sick is advised to get chemotherapy, there is the assumption of some negative results that are outweighed by the positive results.  On the other hand, if a patient who is not seriously ill wants chemotherapy for some other effect, in this case we’ll say for the feeling of having other people feel sorry for him/her, then that person will not be allowed.  There is a perceived benefit in getting more attention which could make a person feel better about himself/herself, but the perceived benefits do not make the dangers worth it.

The truth is, this is all an elaborate scheme to make the government cosign the idea that it is okay to get high as much as you want (to poison your body as much as you want).

As I was writing this, at least for some people, I just discovered that all of this is a Trojan horse for the idea that all drugs should be legal.  I have the television on in the background and they started to have a discussion on this topic with that Sir Richard Branson fellow.  This Sir Richard Branson fellow, somehow an expert on American marijuana and drug policy moved from the passing of these laws to ending the war on drugs totally.

His idea was to allow the citizens of the United States to use whatever drugs etc. they wish and then when each individual realizes the need for recovery having government sponsored programs (specifically with methadone as he mentioned) they will be admitted to these programs for care and somehow magically live happily ever after.  His logic is that these methadone clinics will cost less than prison and it would lessen the crime.

The problem with all of this is that, clearly he has not been around many people at the various levels of using and recovery and if he has, he clearly only understood an incredibly small part of the culture.

The question I have is are we so culturally drawn to the desire for people to be high that we lose all ability to use common sense.  Whole states have decided to try to override federal law.  People have lied and misled us to believe this had other, more noble motives when secretly the motive is just to get high.  The solution to the war on drugs has in effect become:  Just cancel the war and let everyone get high and magically they will get less high.  The war here is not on drugs; it is a war on our government systems and on good sense.  The strange part is that most of the country is on the side of the complete anarchy of every man, woman and child doing as they feel, and making it almost mandatory that everyone get high.

If there is some incredibly evil person (we’ll call this person “the man”) this divide and conquer focus of anarchy and undermining of our government system would be an awesome way to take apart everything that holds us together, particularly if we are all too high to do anything about it.

Perhaps the threat of this level of crazy is why our founding fathers decided on a representative democracy instead of a direct democracy as a defense.

 

Alethinos Paradoxos