I've just been busy with travel, and then illness, and school, and work, and the perennial distractions of the web. Such as this one. I'm told it's a laborious read, but I think I'll have to wade through it.
Everyone's entitled to my opinion
I believe it's an economic fact that the rich are in fact getting richer and the poor do seem to be getting poorer. Where do you see this heading in another 20, 50, 100 years? I have a vision of the future where the top 2% of the people have 98% of the wealth in our capitalistic society. Look at the old model of getting rich: being an entrepreneur, inventing something or natural resources. Now look at the way things stand today. You have all the Wal-Marts and Sizzlers putting the local stores and restaurants out of business. Technology is so complex and competitive that a single person or team wont be able to get a concept or product to market - no more Edisons or Bells. You can't mine for gold or drill for oil anymore since the big corporations have that area covered. Most entertainers (especially musicians) and sports players are not what we would consider really really rich - and look at how competitive those markets are. In reality the entertainment and sports industries are simply another funnel for cash to flow from the masses to the elite. Same with the lottery, which many Americans regard as their only way into the upper class.
Keep in mind that I'm not saying we should go socialist or communist but I think someone needs to look at the big picture - long range. That's something that we seem to have a very hard time doing. I have no idea what the answer is here - but I think it's worth thinking about. Any thoughts on this?
The number of people below the official poverty thresholds numbered 35.9 million in 2003, or 1.3 million more than in 2002, for a 2003 poverty rate of 12.5 percent. Although up from 2002, this rate is below the average of the 1980s and 1990s.
it has become harder to stay in the income range of $35,000 to $50,000 is correct, if what you mean by "harder to stay" is that it has become difficult to avoid being squeezed up into a higher category.
This is a very, very long read. Yet I highly recommend it.
Normally, I don't pay TOO much attention to the Guardian, but this is a very, very thought-provoking issue.
It's quite a long read, I recommend the articles "oil and troubled water" and The Drowned World:
albedo:Glossary of Glacial Terms
The percent reflectivity of a surface. Ice may reflect up to 90 percent of incoming solar radiation (albedo = 90).
At the present, glacier ice covers about 15 million sq km (5.8 million sq mi), or 10 percent, of Earth’s land area. [...] The ice sheet in Antarctica covers 13 million sq km (5 million sq mi).Encarta
Tax Shift #3: From Taxes on Wealth to Taxes on Work
Between 1980 and today, the main tax on wage income, the payroll tax, has jumped 25%. In the same period, top tax rates on investment income and large inheritances have been cut between 31% and 79%. Taxes on wealth are falling fast with shrinking taxes on capital gains, dividends and estate taxes.
The key reasons for this democratization of the stock market include:
The popularization of the mutual fund.
The general reduction in the multiple taxation of savings and investment that resulted from the genesis of the IRA and 401(k) plan.
The emphasis of the Federal Reserve on price stability that has lowered interest rates, stabilized financial markets, and acted as a de facto tax cut.
In addition to providing a basis for investment needed for economic growth, the increase in stock ownership appears to be cultivating a deeper appreciation and understanding of private enterprise. The involvement of new stockholders in the capitalization of the companies that create wealth allows these new investors to have a better understanding of financial matters. Furthermore, it is suggested that broadened stock ownership can erode class conflict, for "as capitalism expands, a lot of 'them' can become 'us.' It [stock ownership] brings us all together as stakeholders-in-common."
Tax Shift #4: From Corporations to Individuals:
Since 1962, the share of federal revenues contributed by corporations has declined by two-thirds, while the share contributed by individuals has risen 17%.
• Estimated state corporate tax collection losses due to sheltering activity: The estimates range from a low-end estimate of $8.32 billion to a high-end estimate of $12.38 billion.
• Scope of problem: The vast majority of U.S. businesses are not part of the state corporate income tax sheltering problem. Very few small businesses can take advantage of the tax sheltering schemes in question. Additionally, some major corporations choose not to engage in aggressive corporate tax sheltering.
• States with biggest dollar losses: Using the mid-point of the estimates, the hardest-hit state in dollar terms was California, which lost up to an estimated $1.34 billion. Next was Illinois, with a $693 million loss, followed by Texas (a $607 million loss) and Pennsylvania (a $582 million loss).
• States with greatest losses, measured as a percentage of revenue: While California’s midrange loss equates to over 19 percent of its corporate tax revenues, many other states absorbed far greater losses in percentage terms. These included: West Virginia, where the mid-range loss estimates equaled 57.8 percent of collections; Ohio at 56.9 percent, Florida at 48.7 percent; and Mississippi at 43.1 percent.
• Average losses for states: Using the mid-point of the estimates, the typical state suffered a corporate tax collection loss of 31.1 percent. The estimated mid-range losses for states ranged from a low of 10.3 percent for Michigan to 57.8 percent for West Virginia.
Tax Shift #5: From Current Taxpayers to Future Generations:
Current tax policies are fueling the national debt, imposing an average $13,000 in additional debt on each man, woman and child in America between 2002 and 2007 —or more than $52,000 in added debt per family of four.2 Our children and grandchildren will pay for this debt through tax hikes, higher interest rates and inadequate public services.
No such thing as a free lunch, with "tax cuts." People spend money initially, since they have more, and boost the economy for a short period of time. But meanwhile, the budget deficit gets larger, education gets screwed over, and the state and local governments, which are left with less money, end up having to scramble or cut other things.and she cites: "Shifty Tax Cuts" from UFE: United for a Fair Economy which is apparently:
a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. UFE raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. We support and help build social movements for greater equality.Well, they say they've a non-partisan, independant organization. I'll take them at their word, even though their mission statement there definitely has an agenda and a bias (not necessarily an unreasonable bias.)
This report identifies five key shifts in the tax burden, all of which are underway right now: From federal to state taxes; from progressive to regressive taxes; from taxes on wealth to taxes on work; from corporate taxes to taxes on individuals; and from current taxpayers to future generations.
For the fiscal years 2002-2004,state governments closed approximately $200 billion in budget gaps by raising taxes and fees and by cutting services.7 The federal government has so far supplied only $20 billion in direct aid to the states to help them close their budget gaps.
The choice to send nearly $200 billion to the top 1% rather than to state governments highlights just one way in which the federal tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are actually tax shifts, not tax cuts, for the vast majority of Americans.
Only 19% of Americans said in a recent poll that their tax burden had actually been eased by the Bush administration’s economic policies.
During the  presidential election, a Time Magazine-CNN poll asked voters whether they were in the top one percent of income earners. Nineteen percent reported that they were, and another 20 percent said that they expected to be there one day.
Proportionately, the top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers earned more than 65 percent of the nation's income and paid more than three out of every four dollars collected by the federal income tax (77%) in 2001. There were 32.2 million tax returns in the top 25 percent, all with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) over $56,085.
At the other end of the income spectrum, the bottom 50 percent of the nation's taxpayers (everyone whose adjusted gross income was under $28,528) earned more and paid less. Total income for this group rose from $834 billion to $861 billion. That was up from 13.0 percent of all income in 2000 to 13.8 percent in 2001. Despite income growth, the bottom 50 percent's average tax rate fell from 4.6 percent to 4.1.
For the vast majority any increases in state and local taxes have not offset the federal tax cuts enacted under Bush, even in the seven states selected by the DLC article.
In fact, according to the Tax Foundation, combined levels of federal, state and local taxes were significantly lower this year than in 2000, the year before Bush took office. In that year taxes at all levels averaged 33% of income, while this year the average is down to 30%. And contrary to the claim made by the Edwards staff and the DLC article, effective rates of state-local taxes have not increased at all. In fact, they have declined, if only by a tiny 0.2%, to 9.7% of income.
During the summer of 2003, millions of parents received $400-per-child checks from the IRS — an advance payment for the expanded federal child tax credit.
The federal government prioritized wealthy Americans over
states and ordinary Americans.
the Bush tax cuts have pushed the second-lowest quintile into the negative range, meaning that when they file their tax returns, they don’t send a check, they receive a check (See also "Cautionary Notes for Comparing CBO’s Household Data to Standard Tax Data"). These “refund” checks return every dollar withheld during the year and more, mostly because of two tax provisions, one old and one new. The old one is the earned income tax credit, and the newer one is the child tax credit, first enacted in the late 1990s at $500 per child and now doubled by the Bush tax cut to $1,000 per child.
Overall, the tax system is doing little to counteract growing income inequality. In 2000, the bottom 20% averaged $13,700 in after-tax income and the middle averaged $41,900 while the top 1% averaged $862,700
Since low-income people tend to spend a larger share of their income on necessities such as food, clothing, gasoline and utilities, for example, state and local taxes on these items end up consuming a greater share of income for low-income people. And some states — such as Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia — actually tax food purchases at a higher rate than income from investments.
it is commonly agreed that employers compensate for theirBut it's possible. I do tend to think that's more the
payroll tax share with lower wages for employees so the employee effectively pays
the total tax
You got any source or logical reasoning for that extraordinary statement Larry?
It's a greenhouse gas alright. In that it is a significant part of the atmosphere, and hence part of any greenhouse "effect".
It's not a problem greenhouse gas though ?
Lets draw a line here between the benificial greenhouse effect, that keeps us in the temporate climate zone to which we are accustomed, and the run-away greenhouse effect mostly discussed in the "mass media"
This sounds alot like some lame excuse to ignore climate change by labeling it natural......
This sounds alot like some lame excuse to ignore climate change by labeling it natural......
It seems clear that targeting civilians is fighting dirty.
we will never compromise America's special relationship with our ally Israel. As president, I will never pressure Israel to make concessions that will compromise its security.
an aggressive public diplomacy campaign in Arab and Muslim countries to tackle head-on the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda that fuels ignorance and hatred. This will be a part of an expansive American-led, international effort to promote democratic reforms throughout the Middle East by supporting secular education, business development and educational initiatives. By carefully targeting aid and development programs we can most effectively bolster civil society groups to take action to advance reform
I was reading the 'best of' section of salon's discussion boards, the well, and I came across this post. the woman who posted it puts forward what to me is an interesting theory...
Nancy Richardson - 09:41 am Pacific Time - Aug 24, 2004 - #8156 of 8241
For along I have been puzzled about why Wingnuts are the way they are, and I have observed a few things about them which seems to be endemic in their ranks.
1) No sense of irony. The inability to understand paradox. Extreme discomfort with ambiguity.
2) Poor critical-thinking skills. The inability to write about what they read with much competence. Unable to sort out the larger meaning of what they read. Tend toward not being about to sort out the difference between the theme of what they are reading, and unimportant details
3) Lack of imagination, and a singular lack of ability to intuit how to make elementary character judgments.
4) Lack of empathy. To the extreme.
5) Dislike of reading fiction.
6) Absolutist binary thinking run amok.
7) blah, blah, blah.
I have always wondered how these people turned out that way ... and though I have seen a bit of absolutist non-critical thinking on the left, I read something today on Atrios, where a troll was unable to understand why liberals like a "fake news show" like "The Daily Show."
Someone made a remark about "Goodnight Moon" and the person said, "What is 'Goodnight Moon'?" And like a bolt from the blue, it came to me.
His parents didn't read to him as a child.
When I was a new mother, and was cramming what to do to make sure my kid was going to be a reader, the advice that was repeated over and over again was, "Read to your kids"
And I did. From the time he was 4 months old it was ritual with my son, until he started reading independently, to read out loud to him every night. (Actually, it continued until he was 9.)
Now we see that the most important time in developing cognitive skills is between the ages of 0-5.
And I am willing to bet, that if you want a kid with an imagination ... and who is able to make character judgments, and who wants to read fiction, and learn to identify with people not like him or her.
You got to read to your kids. Every night, without fail.
Too bad her own spelling and grammer aren't better, but hey..that's the frustrated english teacher in me speak.
I've seen almost exactly the same thing advanced from a right-ist perspective.
1-No sense of humour when it comes to their pet peeves- check
2- lack of critical thought- check.
3-Lack of imagination and inability to make character judgments- check and check
4-Usually, this complaint is broached from the opposite angle- i.e. leftists empathize so much with the opposite viewpoint that they lose their sense of identity and perspective. They sympathize with criminals and enemies more than with victims and patriots. But using the term 'wingnuts' doesn't exactly make a strong case for empathy.
5- Dislike of reading fiction- I dunno about this, but conservatives generally consider non-fiction more important. If it comes right down to it, which is more important to read, history, or 'culturally-aware' fiction? Personally, I read a LOT of fiction, and especially SciFi or speculative fiction. I think most conservatives would encourage any type of reading as they consider it to be a basic skill that requires practice to improve upon. But if it came down to a choice, it's true that many might consider fiction a lower priority than basic education. I can't tell you how many times I've wished a person I was speaking to had at least cracked open an economics book, just once in their lives.
6-Absolutist thinking- like what-"all cultures are equally valid" isn't an absolute statement?
I'm sorry, most of these qualities run equally on both sides of the house- the worst is the second point- fuzzy thinking. Many people I agree with in essence, seem to get there through questionable routes. That dismays me as much as people I disagree with. This obis one more problem that I have with the self-identified 'liberal' side of politics- they don't seem to care about that- only that they get the results they desire through any form of disinformation or manipulation of the media that's necessary. People have to be '(mis)lead to the right decision' rather than informed and persuaded.
Because Bush’s team has been less than effective in communicating to the American public exactly what No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is and how it works, I had bought into the Democratic propaganda claiming that NCLB consisted of unfunded mandates and that it unfairly penalized poorly performing schools. I had only a vague notion regarding the purposes of NCLB, and an even murkier notion regarding its actual content. It turns out that NCLB is a system of national testing of schools to hold them accountable to the people. Schools must make “adequate yearly progress” (defined by their state) toward achieving proficiency on each test, and students in schools that repeatedly fail these tests have federal money given to them to provide for a tutoring service or other supplemental service to aid in their education. That in a nutshell is the NCLB.