Monday, October 7, 2013

What is Fair?

So in the comments of G2A Hold Fast or Compromise, Laurie told me what she thinks of my ideology.
"In my church we talk about the dignity and worth of each person, whereas you seem to want to include a dose of shame about receiving any form of financial assistance."
 
"What makes SS security a great program is the benefits are paid in a way that allows each person the dignity of feeling they are entitled to what they receive. It seems like you would like to change the program to include a dose of humiliation if possible. What's wrong with asking those who can afford it to pay a bit more. You could go on feeling superior to everybody and you could even blog about it."
Of course I disagreed.
"And Liberals would blatantly lie to them just as the Democrats do today?
 
They say that the rich aren't paying their fair share, even though that minority is paying the majority of this country's bills. And instead of being thankful, they would incite people to hate them and demand even more.
 
I wouldn't try to speak from the moral high ground here. It seems that the whole Liberal argument is about trying shame the successful into submission. I mean check out Grace's latest attacks...
 
You really need to read Atlas Shrugged. There is a point when Hank Rearden finally gets it. He finally understands that he is allowing his mooching lazy family to use his own morality against him. This frees him to walk away from their attempts to shame, guilt and coerce him into giving them something for nothing. 
  
I am a huge fan of showing people respect. To do this you need to be open and honest with them. You need to empathize with them and truly care about them.
 
One only lies blatantly when they are out to manipulate another person. Telling people that they earned social security and medicare once the trust funds are gone is like saying "you can't handle the truth!!!"
 
Now that would seem "superior and condescending" to me." 
Now we discussed this before and I am interested to see if anything has changed.  G2A What is Fair?
  • What do you think is fair with regard to taxation and redistribution?
  • When someone or a family succeeds through luck and/or hard work should society squeeze that golden goose for all the eggs they can get?
  • What happens to our society as the Producers get squeezed and the Looters benefit?
Thoughts?

World Around Us: Looter or Producer?
Daily Caller: Moocher or Maker?
Daily KOS: Humanism vs Objectivism
Forbes: It is Time to Give Back

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a notion out there that it's not unfair for people who make more in income to pay more in taxes. This is a feature even of flat tax proposals.

A while back Jason Lewis seemed to propose a per capita tax, each individual paying the same. It was not greeted warmly.

--Hiram

John said...

I think the Conservatives have been asking for a flat tax for years, it is the Democrats who demand that taxes be progressive.

Anonymous said...



I think the Conservatives have been asking for a flat tax for years,

And I have always wondered that because flat taxes mean the more you earn, the more in taxes you pay, just as with progressive taxes. These days progressivity is little more than attempt to even some of the inequality in the ways taxes are assessed. Mitt Romney for example paid a relatively low rate in taxes. It would have been much, much lower if you included the impact of his retirement savings, which would certainly have to be included by any flat tax proposal.

One of the weird counter intuitive things about the economics of taxation is that the country grew far faster when tax were far more steeply progressive than they are today. There are reasons for that, but what is perfectly clear is that the country can grow with high, even punitive tax rates.

--Hiram

John said...

If that is truly the case, Romney is an anomaly and not the norm.
Wiki Tax Progressivity

Stop comparing apples and grapefruit, marginal tax rates were higher back then and so were deductions. Do you have any "effective tax" proof that goes back to the 1940's?

John said...

More food for thought.

Slate Tax Rates

John said...

Tax Foundation Progressivity

Anonymous said...

I think the real difference is that not that many people paid those high rates back then.

--Hiram

John said...

Thoughts on the topic from American Thinker and the Manhatten Institute

Anonymous said...

My point is never that high tax rates cause growth. My suggestion is that growth can occur in a high tax rate environment. And you don't have to go back to the 1950's to see evidence of that. The economy grew in the high tax Clinton years and collapsed in low tax Bush years.

Now it is possible to redefine the terms to come to a different outcome, such as by introducing the concept of "effective tax rate", but those terms can be redefined too, to return to the original conclusion. In Mitt Romney's case, a large portion of his wealth comes from retirement programs that were never accounted for and never taxed. This is common among the wealthy.

John said...

I think "common" is quite a stretch, otherwise their "typical effective tax" would be much lower than ~30%. (see links above)

You are correct that Romney's effective taxes are low. In part because much of it comes from capital gains and the fact that he gave ~20% to charity over the past 2 years. NYP Romney the Giver I think you should find a new villain, it is hard to dislike someone that is so philanthropic.

Clinton had a HUGE worldwide technological shift supporting growth. So unless you have another internet/PC/tech/Y2K boom in your pocket, I wouldn't count on that as a great data point.

Anonymous said...

The reason Romney paid so little in his overall appreciation of wealth is because so much of it comes from retirement accounts. A flat tax would tax retirement accounts equally with other assets and incomes. There would be no IRA's, no 401k plans.

--Hiram

John said...

So is that good or bad? Neither Romney nor yourself could tax shelter your retirement funds...

My Father always says that I should be thankful that I had 401K's, IRA's, etc because he didn't have them when he was young. I always tell him having a big balance in mutual funds isn't near as much fun as having it invested in vacation property, collector cars, etc...

Laurie said...

I might try to answer your questions once I figure our if I am a producer or a looter.

John said...

I am thinking, it is more of a continuum than an either or. And I think many people can change roles depending on the situation. Remember though it is not about being wealthy or poor. Either can play either role, as Ayn did a good job of showing in Atlas.

John said...

Some lighter thoughts:
Comic 1
Comic 2
Comic 3
Comic 4
Comic 5
Comic 6
Comic 7
Comic 8
Comic 9

Anonymous said...

Let me take a step back for a sec and consider this--in 2011, the top 20% of Americans owned 93% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 7%. So in light of those numbers let's re-examine this statement:

"They say that the rich aren't paying their fair share, even though that minority is paying the majority of this country's bills. And instead of being thankful, they would incite people to hate them and demand even more."


Exactly how much more do you think the bottom 80% can generate?
Who, in this scenario, is the looter who thinks they're entitled to the value of others' work?

Imagine you read this figure in a financial news report for another nation. I don't know--maybe Cambodia or Bolivia or Algeria or Belarus or Finland. As an outsider, would you look at this and think the 80% would be "thankful" for their most basic needs being met, given the overall inequality? Would you think the nation's citizens should have great sympathy for those wealthy golden geese? Or would they be justified in wanting to see the nation's wealth shared among more of its citizens.

Would you look at that number and thin--yes, that's a great nation; others should emulate them. That country is doing good things, it has a strong future, their citizens are in fine shape?

Is this how a nation becomes or remains economically strong and socially secure?

--Annie

Laurie said...

Welcome back Annie! Please share your wisdom more often.

Labeling a large number of people as looters doesn't work for me. It seems disrespectful and not helpful in working towards a more just world.

Also, I don't feel bad about being one of your so called looters. If us poor people were paid more maybe we would be 100% self sufficient.

Anonymous said...

So is that good or bad?

It has good and bad features. In the beginning, it would shift the tax burden to the wealthy. Rich people would assume a much greater share of the tax burden. You can think of that as bad for the rich good for the rest of us. But I also think that's naive because the rich always have options which allow them options to rearrange their affairs to reduce taxes. No one ever dreamed when we enacted these retirement accounts that they could be used too such advantage by the wealthy. They have the lobbyists. The rest of us do not.

In general, it think this focus on progressivity in rates is misplaced. In real world terms, the more money you make, the more you pay. People seem to be comfortable with that, and that notion is what underlies progressivity. As people become richer, the way they are wealthy changes qualititatively. They are no longer dependent on income as represented on 1040. They can time and defer wealth in ways that those of us who need to pay mortgage cannot. They have access to accounting methods and tricks that we either do not, or cannot use to the same advantage. Given all these things, it's not unreasonable to adjust rates accordingly, at least to maintain some veneer of fairness. But the reality one key to wealth accumulation is finding strategies to limit tax liability. That's always been the case and that always will be the case.

--Hiram

John said...

Hi Annie,
You posed this so well that I think your comments will be my next post.

Food for thought though for now. Is wealth distribution important? As long as they use it to keep funding our American businesses that provide our American jobs?

If you turned all that "wealth" into "cash" and spent it, would that be better or worse for us?

I have accumulated significant wealth and enjoy the fact that my investments are working just as hard as I am to earn me additional wealth and cash. They do this by funding companies and enabling them to hire and pay people.

If the government were to seize and redistribute half my "wealth" would that help or hurt America businesses and employment. Would that encourage or discourage me from saving and investing in American companies and jobs?

Hi Laurie,
You want higher wages, stop buying foreign goods and demand "Made in America" where ever possible. And deport every illegal immigrant ASAP. This will raise pay very quickly, if Americans are willing to do those jobs. However it will also increase the cost of everything we buy and make foreign trade more difficult. Choices choices...

John said...

To clarify:
The higher our wages and product cost, the more likely the foreign customer will find a different option if a substitute good or service is available.

It doesn't mean they won't buy it. It just means our product needs to offer even higher value to help them justify the extra cost.

And those "Buy America" folks will also need to be willing to pay more for the product or service that is provided by those higher paid employees. Remember our Volt vs Prius discussion. If we consumers aren't going to pay more to support American Workers and Intellectual Property, why should businessmen?

Sean said...

Do you support making it easier for foreign professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.) to enter the country so they can provide price competition for our existing professional base?

John said...

I am not sure why you ask, however I will try to answer.

I am pro-"legal" immigration. And being a practical fellow I would think we would try to encourage the immigration of people that can benefit our country and ourselves.

If we have a nursing or doctor shortage, how do we get more qualified nurses and doctors to immigrate here? Let's get it done.

As for Lawyers... I think we already have too many of them... How do we encourage them to emigrate???? Dilbert LtoE Ratio Lawyers per Capita

I only dislike illegal immigrants because they did not stand in line like the legal immigrants... And I never like people who budge in line while others wait politely...

Sean said...

The question comes from the discussion of paying more for Buying American.

When we're talking about "fair", we have policies that are at best neutral to and at worst encourage companies to move certain kinds of jobs offshore. Yet, we protect certain occupations from offshore competition. If it's a net benefit to our society to have much of our former manufacturing base moved offshore, doesn't it similarly follow that our society might benefit from competition for our highly paid professional class?

John said...

As I keep trying to help folks understand... Consumer choices drive business behaviors as much or more than policy. If consumers stopped buying all cars that were designed or built elsewhere, everyone would design and build here if they wanted to participate in the USA market.

Citizens like those in Germany seem to understand that. In the USA we want the best product for the cheapest price, and don't care about the consequences. And we wonder why the good "skill based" jobs are gone.

As for outsourcing "academic based" jobs, this is happening regularly and often. Many back office operations are already in India, Phillipines, China, etc. My previous employer had Design Centers in India and China, and used consultants from Romania, Czech Republic, etc. (ie see Dilbert) You have to read the "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman...

The only jobs that are safe at this time are ones that require person to person contact,USA market knowledge or require real tight collaboration.

That's why it is easy to off shore production. Once the design, equipment and process are complete. It is modular and can be done anywhere. Then they just ship the product to us excited consumers in huge container ships.

Remember how they said we are turning into a knowledge and service based economy... Well knowledge is related to academic success / intellectual property and unfortunately many service jobs don't pay too well...

Anonymous said...


As for outsourcing "academic based" jobs, this is happening regularly and often.

I am in favor of at least talking about outsourcing cable tv talking head jobs. I am sure Indian commentators could do just as good a job as their American counterpart on MSNBC, Fox, and CNN, and would certainly do much better on the Sunday morning news shows than Schieffer and Gregory.

--Hiram