Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bits And Pieces, 12/29/15: On Weird Republican Ideas, "the American Dream" and Taxing the Rich (Too Taxing?)

This post is like sweeping the floor of all those baby ideas which got dropped in the process of writing. 

Well, not really.  Those posts come later.  It's more recent links I have collected but never wrote about, what with the great anomie of the last days of yet another year.  (Correct that word, please.  What I'm looking for is similar and means that state of not caring and almost rejoicing in the annihilation of the past.  But in an odd way anomie would work, too.)

First, this goofy bit about Republican presidential politics:

After five Republican debates, most Americans know about Donald Trump’s provocative beliefs, like his desires to end birthright citizenship, stop Muslim immigration and kill families of suspected terrorists. Much less attention has been paid to Carly Fiorina’s conclusion that the minimum wage is unconstitutional, Mike Huckabee’s pledge to defy Supreme Court rulings he deems incompatible with God’s law, Rick Santorum’s claim that Islam is not protected by the First Amendment or Chris Christie’s threat to shoot down Russian planes and launch cyberattacks on Chinese leaders.
Those provocative beliefs, believe it or not, were also expressed during the five Republican debates. They were just overshadowed by the furor over Trump. It might be natural for an opposition party to sound bombastic during primary season, especially when its front-runner is blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of bombast, but the debate transcripts read like a Democratic opposition researcher’s dream.

I'd be rubbing my hands together with great joy, thinking of the satire that all this makes possible if one of those people grabs the steering wheel of this country if

a) I had hands* and

b) I was on some other planet where the fact that the most powerful person on earth might be an utter weirdo would just make the reality show more interesting to watch.

Secondanother hilarious story for you:  It's about the American dream.  The money-related conservative American dream, the dream that we are all gonna be extremely rich one day.  Except that other people won't be extremely rich at all.  Only us.  And that's because we work very very hard, never accept handouts (Obamacare!) and deserve to become extremely rich.

Well, that's my interpretation of that goofy dream.  The real American dream, as a concept, was more about one's children having a better chance at life than what was possible in some starving nation.  An immigrant's dream, if you wish.

In any case, here's the money quote:

A new study from Harvard University shows that close to half of those ages 18 through 29 believe the "America Dream" is dead. While education played a role in the opinions of those polled, race or ethnicity didn't matter much. 

Let's set the record straight: the American dream is more alive than it's ever been, and it's not going to die anytime soon. In fact, it's so strong that I believe more self-made millionaires will emerge in the next 10 years than ever before. 

Take a look at your talents and natural abilities and ask: how can I help others? Money is created through ideas that solve problems, and since ideas are infinite, the amount of money you can earn is infinite.

 Beyond that, there are huge opportunities for selling and brokering used goods like clothes, toys, computers and sporting goods. The wealthy are the largest buyers of personal services. It's a perfect time to start a lawn care service, maid service, handyman business, pool cleaning company, grocery shopping service, etc. The opportunities are endless.

Bolds are mine. 

This opinion piece sketches out the future banana republic economics, how to survive by catering to the top one percent who is raking in all the income and wealth gains, by becoming part of their personal staff!  Or you can trade in used clothes, just as the Victorian markets in Britain did, because many people could only afford used clothes!

That this came out right before Christmas is very very Dickensian (think of the spirit of Christmas past).  But no, even if ideas are infinite the amount of money you can earn is not infinite.

Third, on taxing the very rich:

...Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.
Think about what or who needs to be taxed more to make up that shortfall from 27% to 17%.  Note that the actual amounts of money the government lost there are huge.

I have two thoughts on that whole article. 

The first has to do with money buying government policies which allow for the "income defense industries" (described in the article) to thrive.  That's a problem which the Supreme Court of the United States has recently contributed to, a problem which is getting worse, until we really do have a "one-dollar-one-vote" democracy.

The second thought has to do with the odd thoughts of someone who has so much money that he** could line all his clothes, houses, cars and yachts with it, to the thickness of several feet, and who still spends money on making sure that the government gets as little of it as possible.

Are economists wrong?  Doesn't the marginal value of an extra dollar drop, after all, when you have billions of them?  When is enough enough?

*  The goddess doesn't have hands.  The avatar does.  Also, the avatar doesn't get paid, ahem.

** Or she.