Taxation, the Economy, Equality, and Fiscal Policy

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Blithe, Jul 13, 2009.

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  1. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Raise taxes, cut Medicare, cut Social Security, cut all unnecessary defense spending, lower military pay, institute the draft.

    Do you know how expensive it would be to re-institute the draft? What benefit is there to have a bunch of low paid positions that no one wants to be forced into?

    Instead, I'd suggest making the military more professional. Merge the Marines into the Army, and make it a specialized branch. Cut the numbers of troops overall. Make the selection process more difficult, but the benefits more attractive. In short, LAPD SAWT officers probably make $70,000 a year, depending on experience. Imagine a professional Army of roughly the same composition, both men and women. Instead of a general force of 480,000, make it 80,000 total where each soldier is highly specialized within their field. Then have additional concentrated disciplines within that pool- marine, airborne, special forces, counter-terrorism, etc... Transition the excess base capacity. There would probably be no more than 4-5 general ranks needed, some colonels, and then logical rank progression down from there.

    I'd keep the carrier battle group concept in the Navy, but scale back the numbers. Drop most of the submarine fleet, except a few for the responsive nuclear force mentioned above. The Air Force would focus on specialized bombers, airlift, and air superiority. No more missile silos. Give space completely over to NASA, even if it means having a specialized division within it to handle defensive concerns.

    I'd then keep the Reserves and National Guard to offer part-time experience to those who are interested and keep a pool for disaster relief, humanitarian missions, riots and state emergencies and so on...

    None of the above is ever going to happen, of course.
  2. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Do you know how expensive it would be to re-institute the draft? What benefit is there to have a bunch of low paid positions that no one wants to be forced into?

    Actually, no I didn't. I was under the impression that military pay was really high because it needs to be in order to remain competitive with civilian jobs in the private sector. If you have a draft, then perhaps that might not be such a problem?
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Strategic downsizing will be forced on the U.S. like it or not over the next 50 years as our share of the global economic pie dwindles, relatively speaking. If we can avoid an oil war with China, we will be doing well. Our best approach would be to spend heavily on alternative energy and withdraw our military back to our borders. Retreat from the world stage militarily, and do it within the next 10-15 years.

    We can one-up the British Empire by voluntarily withdrawing before we're actually forced to retreat as the result of economic hardship. If we can force some of our economic competitors, like the EU, to spend more heavily on defense, that will give us a comparative economic advantage over time that will allow us to revitalize our energy economy and make us more competitive in global trade in the second half of the 21st century. The goal would be to make us a nation with a global trade surplus again within 20 years or so.

    And in general, I really like your concept for military downsizing and restructuring.
  4. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    By the way, you know how the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added some I-don't-know-how-many trillions of dollars to our national debt? Does that mean that Osama bin Laden succeeded in his goal of bankrupting the U.S.?
  5. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Jabba, this one's for you: Urban Plight: Vanishing Upward Mobility
    Since the beginnings of civilization, cities have been crucibles of progress both for societies and individuals. A great city, wrote Rene Descartes in the seventeenth century, represented ?an inventory of the possible,? a place where people could create their own futures and lift up their families.

    What characterized great cities such as Amsterdam?and, later, places such as London, New York , Chicago, and Tokyo?was the size of their property-owning middle class. This was a class whose roots, for the most part, lay in the peasantry or artisan class, and later among industrial workers. Their ascension into the ranks of the bourgeoisie, petit or haute, epitomized the opportunities for social advancement created uniquely by cities.

    In the twenty-first century?the first in which the majority of people will live in cities?this unique link between urbanism and upward mobility is under threat. Urban boosters still maintain that big cities remain unique centers for social uplift, but evidence suggests this is increasingly no longer the case.

    This process reflects a shift in economic and social realities over the past few decades. For example, according to a recent Brookings Institution study, New York and Los Angeles have, among all U.S. cities, the smallest share of middle-income neighborhoods. In 1980, Manhattan ranked 17th among the nation?s counties for social inequality; by 2007 it ranked first, with the top fifth earning 52 times that of the lowest fifth, a disparity roughly comparable to that of Namibia.

    President Obama?s hometown of Chicago shows much the same pattern, according to a recent survey by Crain?s Chicago Business. Conditions have improved for a relative handful of neighborhoods close to the highly globalized central businesses. But for many neighborhoods things have not improved, and in some cases have deteriorated. Even before the recession there were fewer jobs than in 1989 and fewer opportunities for the middle class, many of whom?including more than 100,000 African-Americans?have left the city over the past decade.

    This pattern does not reflect perverse conditions unique to the United States, as many academics and progressive pundits often suggest. Between 1970 and 2001, the percentage of middle-income neighborhoods in Toronto dropped from two-thirds to one-third, while poor districts had more than doubled to 41 percent. According to the University of Toronto, by 2020, middle-class neighborhoods could account for barely less than 10 percent of the population, with the balance made up of both affluent and poor residents.

    Similarly, Tokyo, once widely seen as an exemplar of egalitarianism, is transforming. The city?s post?World War II boom yielded a thriving middle class and remarkable social mobility. That is now giving way to a society where wealth is increasingly concentrated. The poverty rate, including some 15,000 homeless people, has risen steadily to the highest level in decades.

    Much the same process can be seen in great social democratic havens of Europe. In Berlin, Germany?s largest city, unemployment has remained far higher than the national average, with rates at around 15 percent. Some 36 percent of children are poor; many of them are from other countries. The city, notes one left-wing activist, has emerged as ?the capital of poverty and the working poor in Germany.?

    To a large extent, urban poverty in Berlin and other European megacities is concentrated among Muslim immigrants. Muslims constitute at least 25 percent of the population of Marseilles and Rotterdam, 20 percent of Malmo, 15 percent of Birmingham, and 10 percent or more of London, Paris, and Copenhagen. Over the next few decades, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, Muslims will constitute a majority of the population in several of these European cities.
    Thought you would enjoy that.

    Kimball Kinnison
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Half of all Americans with a net worth of $100 million or more own a home in Manhattan. That does a lot to price average Americans off the island. Eventually, as our global food supply begins to collapse, there will be an opportunity for some of the urban poor to re-colonize rural America and move back into food production. Rural America has been emptying out for a century, but there are economic opportunities as the result of that population imbalance. Too many people are living in cities now.
  7. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Why would I want to live in a city? That's where all the pollution and nuclear terrorism is D=
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Here's a nice overview of income inequality in the U.S.

    Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the U.S.

    Income equality peaked in the U.S. in the early 1970s, about the same time the U.S. peaked economically as a nation with the largest slice of the global economic pie. AS the U.S. has gone into relative decline, income inequality has increased, with the top 1% of income earners capturing half of all family income growth over the last 15-20 years.
  9. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    Does anyone think extending the Bush tax cuts to January 2013 is worth considering?
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I don't think so. It's fairly obvious that the Bush tax cuts were disastrous for our country.
  11. Ben_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2001
    star 5
    If you think Afghanistan is not worth fighting for, what's the point of increasing the size of the military? You wouldn't ever use it.. Might as well get rid of a standing army altogether. Stick with a National Guard/Reserve and only mobilize if someone attacked us.. oh wait, according to your logic, we still wouldn't fight.

    But going back to the topic at hand, I agree with the notion that if you make more money, you pay more money. It's not healthy for a democracy where 1% of the wealthy own 90% of the wealth.

    What I don't understand is how people can support the policies of cutting taxes and increasing/maintaining spending. I think we can all agree that that was the essence of the Bush Administration (intentional or not). Yet, he was re-elected and only 2 years after he's out of office, even after a recession, people are still talking about bringing back the same people who enacted those policies. I sometimes think that this country really is a collapsing "empire".
  12. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA1f2MefsMM

    ^An old but good video I just saw addressing the problem of the Bush Tax Cuts, from a macroeconomic perspective.
  13. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Are you referring to my (somewhat half-serious) suggestion to reinstate the draft? Well just because you're drafting people doesn't mean you have to do it on the scale that we did during WWII or the Vietnam War, or at least that's what I'm assuming.

    As for my thoughts about the Afghanistan war, well that's pretty complex and I won't go into that here.
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Darth-Ghost, that video explains exactly the real reason why the people in the Tea Party are so angry. Republican-led tax policies have destroyed all the gains in income equality in the mid twentieth century that helped fuel a tremendous period of social cohesion that still had positive effects into the 1980s even after the Regan revolution began chipping away at its foundation.

    The increased political partisanship, increased tension over racial issues, increased tension over immigration, it is all being caused in large part because of increasing income inequality that is disconnecting the upper tier of income earners from everyone else in a way that hasn't been the case since the 19th century. But it mattered less then because the U.S. was in a period of seemingly limitless economic expansion. Now that the U.S. has peaked economically and is in decline relative to other parts of the world, increased income equality is more critical than ever to preserve the social cohesion of our culture. Regressive taxation and income disparity is killing our society.
  15. New_York_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 16, 2002
    star 6
    Tyler Cowen had a New York Times column on the Fed going to a 3% inflation target, something Blithe and I briefly mentioned. He had further thoughts on his blog that for reasons of space didn't make the article.

    He pretty clearly lays out how the inflation target would help, but also how the commitment has to seem credible or it won't work.

    As for me, I'd like to see the Fed stop paying interest on excess reserves immediately (I believe there is about $1 trillion in ER deposited at the Fed), see how velocity/the money multiplier/etc pick up, and then raise the inflation target if necessary.



  16. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    I don't think the income disparity is killing society, I think the continued effort to redistribute wealth is killing society. Most people become rich not due to misdeeds on their part, but because they have provided something extremely valuable to the general public or because they are some of the best at what they do.

    We have seen about 45 years of this being put into effect via the Great Society - and where are the results? All that a lot of people see are tens or hundreds of billions going to places that seem to be getting WORSE, not better. Your only answers when this are to argue that either we need to spend even more money and redistribute more wealth, and when that runs into opposition, to pull out the race card.

    The pitchforks and torches are out, but they are not coming out for the rich people. They're instead going after the purveyors of "wealth redistribution."
  17. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Apparently the Recession has been over for a little while now -- as always this is only discovered well after it happens:

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/09/20/news/economy/recession_over/index.htm?hpt=T1&iref=BN1

    However this will probably not matter in the political narrative. When job recovery happens, that will likely not matter either.
  18. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Jedismuggler, the pitchforks and torches are indeed aimed at the wrong direction, and that's because the rich are in fact smarter than the rest of us, or at least better funded. They've managed to redirect the middle class pitchforks at the poor - let the middle class beat themselves to death in open combat with the bottom income earners. At the end of this process, there won't be any middle class left to wield pitchforks, which suits the top 1% fine. The Tea Party is basically a socioeconomic mutual suicide pact.

    Gonk, technically, the recession ended in mid 2009. But the employment recession continues and the housing recession continues, so in practical terms of individual net worth and middle class security, it's an ongoing recession for nearly everyone in terms of individual net worth.
  19. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    To an extent, the housing recession should continue as that's something I'd argue is in large part corrective because of how much faster those prices rose than they should have, so that is correcting itself.
  20. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    No, the continuation of the failed Great Society program is not only the right direction to aim the pitchforks, but the political elite DEFENDING said failed Great Society program are also deservedly targets.

    Would most middle class families handle a child's failure in school by increasing his allowance, granting a later curfew, and a new Playstation 3. Would someone in the middle class go back to a mechanic who botched a repair job on his or her car? Would a plumber who screwed up a leak in a middle-class person's home and flooded the basement get a "well done" and a bonus? None of that would happen. The child with the failing grades would be in serious trouble - expect a cut in an allowance, being grounded, and the video game system would be locked away until the grades got better. The mechanic would never get the chance to botch another repair. The plumber would never get invited back to fix a leak in that home again.

    The Great Society has gotten billions upon billions of dollars over 45 years and it has failed. And right now, all the left seems to say is, "let's throw even MORE money at the problem - and try to do even more." The middle class is saying, "Hell, NO!"

    And portraying them as dumb or socio-economically suicidal because they do not want to double down on 45 years worth of Great Society failures is not the answer.
  21. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    No, the continuation of the failed Great Society program is not only the right direction to aim the pitchforks, but the political elite DEFENDING said failed Great Society program are also deservedly targets.

    Great Society? Great Society goes back to LBJ. This sounds almost exactly the sort of thing Nixon said in 1968. Of course while publically adhering to a lot of the same things himself.


    Would most middle class families handle a child's failure in school by increasing his allowance, granting a later curfew, and a new Playstation 3. Would someone in the middle class go back to a mechanic who botched a repair job on his or her car? Would a plumber who screwed up a leak in a middle-class person's home and flooded the basement get a "well done" and a bonus? None of that would happen. The child with the failing grades would be in serious trouble - expect a cut in an allowance, being grounded, and the video game system would be locked away until the grades got better. The mechanic would never get the chance to botch another repair. The plumber would never get invited back to fix a leak in that home again.

    The Great Society has gotten billions upon billions of dollars over 45 years and it has failed. And right now, all the left seems to say is, "let's throw even MORE money at the problem - and try to do even more." The middle class is saying, "Hell, NO!"


    I don't get the anaology here. It seems to be the ethic that "it is wrong to reward failure". But since when has the last 45 years been emblematic of "the Great Society"? Didn't Reagan's policies END the core era of the Great Society and/or New Deal? Wasn't it already gutted? Sure, civil right remained, but it was Reagan's supply-side ethos of tax cutting and deregulation that was put into effect in the 1980s, not more Great Society programs.

    I'm sorry, I must be misremembering the vast great society programs introduced by Bill Clinton. Becuase until 2008 his was the only non-Republican administration that would have signed any new big government social programs into law over 30 of those 45 years. And for all those innovations of the Great Society, it didn't even go so far as to grant universal health care, something many other nations like the US were able to put into effect.


    And portraying them as dumb or socio-economically suicidal because they do not want to double down on 45 years worth of Great Society failures is not the answer.

    Well whether they're dumb or not they're being portrayed as that becuase... the notion of 45 years of Great Society failures isn't true. I mean if those were such massive failures, how did the US manage to even remain a superpower during the past 45 years? What brought about this latest crash, the Great Society? Really, LBJ's hand coming back from the grave in the form of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac doing his bidding of pro-bono work for the poor? Yeah, right. A bit too convenient to depict those innocent businessmen subject to the whims of evil liberals insisting loans be given to the ineligable. Because no, nobody was making money off of any of that... and no, the market would OBVIOUSLY have corrected that sort of situation becuase of how it looks ahead beyond immediate profits and all that.

    This notion of the middle class REALLY being concerned about government 'socialist' spending is never going to wash with me. Oh, they may SAY they're concerned about it, but I don't believe it. Nobody in the rest of the high-educated liberal-static first world public is all that interested in the finer points of government spending and yet Americans... just are? They're just so specially unique that not only are they well versed and concerned about the details of discretionary spending, they know better about it than their own economists? Once you cross the border into America, the less you study a subject, the more you actually know?

    Sounds just a tad narcissistic there in the implication, don't you think? You don't suspect that it's really about something else, something a bit more basic and tradition
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Low, you can say that of just about any recession: it's corrective. I'd agree that housing prices need to keep falling. More people need to get out of their unaffordable homes. There's plenty of ongoing pain. I just noticed the Zestimate value of my home has dropped another $50,000 over the last three months. In another sense though my home is worthless--the houses in my neighborhood simply are not moving.
  23. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Anyone else notice that there is a huge debate going on right now about extending The Bush Tax Cuts? It seems Obama wants to keep the tax cuts for the middle-class and let the cuts for the rich expire.

    That's wierd, isn't it? I thought that the Bush Tax Cuts only had tax cuts for the rich. (No I didn't, but that is certainly how the media and many here in The Senate characterized them...nice to know that once again I am right) So why is it only now, two years after Bush left office, that the media and the Dems would acknowledge that The Bush Tax Cuts were, in fact, for everybody.

    The PR for Bush's administration was the worst ever.
  24. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    That's because the rich got the bulk of the tax breaks. If you made $50k as an individual, your tax break would have amounted to about 1% of your gross income. If you made $100k - about 2%. $200k - about 2.5%. and $500k and over - 3% or more of gross income. A guy making $50k saved a bit more than $500. A guy making $1 million would get nearly $40,000 in tax breaks. No amount of PR changes the heavy skewing of the tax breaks in favor of the rich.
  25. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
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