RE: “Ways and means” article about taxation in America, The Economist, 2 Oct 2021
For me, political parties are necessary to sustain a democracy. A one-party state, such as what once existed in Florida under racist white Democrats with power and now exists in Florida with racist white Republicans in charge, is absurd and anti-American, particularly considering democratic values. As a Republican most of my life, I found Howard Dean’s message in 2004 to be quite a good message. Sad to see his reputation shattered by ignorant and stupid scum in America. What a disgusting bunch of people who have evolved, clinging to their stupidity, into Proud Boys, Qanon, etc., as violent thugs of insurrection. Being that your magazine is published in Britain, the same type of thugs who got away with murder of a British agent because he was illegally importing rum for the Caribbean (John Hancock) and his friend, Sam Adams, we were led by such thugs, even if John Adams was not sure it was the correct path to follow. However, it was John, not Sam, who became the second president of the USA. The long and the short of it, we in America make a pledge with “…with liberty and justice for all.” The thugs are hypocrites in reciting such a pledge because they, along with 33K healthcare workers in NY who refuse vaccinations, actually mean, “… with liberty and justice only for me, myself, and I and the rest be damned.”
Your article about “ways and means” (subtitled “America will never have a European-style welfare state without a VAT)” struck a nerve with me. I became aware of a VAT, perhaps before Europe embraced it as it does. Where did I learn this? From CONSERVATIVE and founder of the magazine, The National Review, William F. Buckley, Jr.Today, iwth its fascist attitudes imprinted in that magazine, I would not touch it with a thirty-foot pole, as well as fascist news on Fox, Newsmax, and other sources which proclaim themselves as “conservative.” I find these groups to be very offensive.
What I once liked about being a Republican was the fact that so many were “socially progressive and fiscally conservative.” Buckley was socially progressive when he described smoking pot and finding nothing wrong with it. Yes, compared to the impact of alcohol, pot is non-addictive and better. I just don’t care to do it. At the same time, Buckley was fiscally conservative. In introducing the VAT (and other sources I have read), there is absolutely no desire to have a welfare state by using a VAT.
In this instance, I believe your writer used the ideas of Dr. Howard Dean, who urged Democrats to “re-frame the issues” so as to make them palatable for more people. Your writer has “re-framed” the issue so as to make the idea of a VAT un-palatable to the wealthy crust at the top. Another form of hypocrisy in that group at the top is to downgrade the ideas of a welfare state while looking the other way at ideas for CORPORATE welfare subsidies.
This last point is well expressed in your article, as you point out the convoluted mess we call an income tax here which is being used to help those at the top “subsidize” themselves and giving a free ride to those at the bottom of the welfare state. Meanwhile, the ones who are really being hurt is the destruction of a Middle Class which is pertinent for a democratic state to operate more efficiently. To me observing what has happened since Reagan took power in 1980, is a deliberate task to destroy the federal S&Ls, public health systems, public education with its teaching of civics education so the Middle Class can have some knowledge of what makes government good, rather than convincing them only that it’s Reagan’s idea of “only government is the problem.” None of these aspects were described in our article, at all.
Yes, you did mention that VAT is similar to state and local sales taxes. One thing the Democrats of Florida did (and continued by the Republican one-party state machinery there) is to NOT have an income tax at all, but to have a sales tax, added to property taxes with primary residence homestead exemption. VAT would be better than a sales tax because of less figuring by the consumer of what the tax is on each item. The “sales” tax is added as the “value” passed along to the consumer. For small businesses (which have been destroyed in America by lawyers and big corporate “Goliath”-style (figurative) giants (given free rides by SCOTUS and the “Citizens United” Decision). Why do I say this? Because I observed the NY sales tax introduced and noted the impact on small rural businesses who had to do extra work in maintaining accurate records of sales and report them to the New York State Taxation Dept. This cut into small business overhead and eventually helped to destroy small businesses as big corporations experience less percentage of overhead (cutting into profits) than small businesses. A VAT would decrease such events and (boo hoo!) put accountants and tax lawyers with less business so they can do what they really SHOULD be doing and get out of the “tax” business. Boo hoo t them, spoken as an educator who also witnessed the travesty of privatization of education by people like Jeb Bush and others in Florida. Nobody gave one damn about the impact on teachers and professors, did they? I can be a mean SOB and not give one damn about how the VAT would impact those making tons of money off taxes. For one thing, rather than invent ambulance-chasing, educators had to resort to other means of income and pull themselves up by the bootstraps the best they could. Educators in Florida often worked three and four extra jobs, especially if one-income families or as single moms or dads. Perhaps lawyers and accountants should experience the same things?
As for this crap about a “welfare” state, Bill Clinton once said, “a safety net is not a hammock.” Translation. Safety nets are not for “infinity and beyond” but a hammock is eome place where we can place our asses and never get up – for infinity and beyond. What a shame that the name Lewinsky overrides everything which Bill Clinton was about. His penis was more important than anything else, evidently. Oh, that’s right! I should not use the word, “penis,” in America because we Americans are so puritanical in thoughts that we don’t accept “fleshy” art work, as they do in Europe. Americans apparently like the pope who ripped the penis off a statue of David. FOR SHAME to me for bluntly telling a Roman Catholic that he was trying to dictate and impose HIS ideas and his ideas alone, as he complained about nude paintings in the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. There are many Americans who appreciate works of art, whether paintings, photographs, drawings, or what not, and that man has no right to infringe on the “…liberty and justice for all” by imposing his own idea of “…liberty and justice” which fits only him, as if we all where the same size glove or shoes.
I diverge here in order to emphasize how much there is a “norm” established and dictated to us all which treads on our own liberties and justice. This includes the way income taxes are so convoluted in America that it infringes on the “liberties and justice” of the Middle Class. Democrats want a welfare state? If so, I don’t like the Democrats who push such an agenda and refuse to consider other SOLUTIONS to our PROBLEMS. On the same token, we rarely find the Republicans who were the ones who came from the foundations of that party, opposed to slavery (of all kinds) and worked with ideas of “socially progressive and fiscally conservative.” Fiscally conservative, to most of us, meant regulated capitalist supply and demand, not an aristocratic fat hedge hog idea of supply side only. it was not a measure of whether the government spent money or not. It was a matter of doing so efficiently and for “liberty and justice for all.” This article, “Ways and means,” does discuss the efficiencies which don’t exist in our American economics, but it burns me the way it goes into how the VAT helps create the welfare state, then burns the Democrats who it proclaims DO want a welfare state. For me as a Democrat, that is an insult. Perhaps when such Democrats scratch their heads at having to deal with this question, as Clinton perhaps did, they go off to find sex with someone? To relieve the pain? I don’t say this in forgiving Bill Clinton and his lack of self-control, but I do say this to try to come to grips with reasons WHY he might have done what he did, even if it is mere speculation.
Sweden is mentioned in this article. I don’t question the statistics given because I have to trust they are true and factual. I do have to question the lack of discussion regarding the homogeneity of the race and culture in Sweden, as opposed to the USA. That is more of an important considertion in all of this discussion about “welfare state” or even about “socialism.” A recent New York Times book review told us about how President Nixon tried to provide for “incubation” of new black businesses in North Carolina, but failed due to one Republican who was considered so damn powerful that he must have scared Nixon. That Republican was jackass white racist Republican from North Carolina named Jesse Helms. Like Mitch McConnell, that bastard of North Carolina held this nation hostage with his ideas about white superiority. He did what many Southern Republican leaders are attempting to do today. According to a TV Guide article from the past, Helms was also responsible for manipulating things like destroying Star Trek due to an inter-racial kiss. Helms also used his power and influence to destroy Robert Maplethorpe exhibits (and other matters regarding the arts) because of frontal nudity in the photographs. Freaking Helms with HIS own definition of “liberty and justice” … FOR HELMS … was imposed on us all. Fortunately, the Star Trek thing backfired, but consider this. It was only when another southerner (Jimmy Carter) and the Democrats took power in 1976. That was NOT a question of “welfare state,” but a question of being socially progressive and anti-racist. Same thing can be said about another Democrat from the South whose image was tarnished by several things (like involvement in Vietnam). LBJ worked to get the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act passed, even if he fumbled the ideas for a “Great Society” in some of the unorganized urban development projects. In that case, his heart was in the right place, exemplified by the passage of civil rights legislation. As I always, say, if one expects perfection, then that person is a stupid idiot because perfection of human beings does not exist. If one has the expectation that Democrats are perfect, then think again, stupid. Even Frank Sinatra mentioned how he loved fixing our nation’s problems, even if this is an imperfect nation.
At the end of the day, one can argue that any tax can be considered regressive, as this article pointed out about the sales tax or VAT. One dictionary definition of “regressive” says, “taking a proportionally greater amount from those on lower incomes.” In order to avoid this from happening with income taxes, we give earned income tax credits to which, as the article pointed out, leaves almost nothing paid by that “lower” the proportion taken from the lower classes. The net result is a rebuke by the upper classes and the Middle Class being destroyed in the process as it becomes incumbent on that one “lower class” – the Middle Class – to absorb most of the taxes. That was NEVER discussed in this article, leaving the reader left out in the dark on this matter. Instead, the writer intones the “regressive” nature of the VAT or sales tax. The person appears to really speak as if he/she is against the VAT so uses various mechanisms to address his adversity, while appearing like the person is an advocate of the VAT. I don’t get it. Please tell me how a VAT is “regressive” when the ones purchasing their own personal yachts, planes, expensive elitist imported items (not affordable to those in the lower classes), and what not would end up paying a large chunk of taxes that many in the lower classes would not pay? By saying this, the person writing this article appears to have no sense of what “regressive” means.
The true reason as to why the upper crust does not want a VAT is because this would have the impact, if implemented correctly, of removing the loopholes which the upper crust can use to justify THEIR corporate welfare. In America, this upper crust might complain about a “higher tax rate” for them, but have the ability with a regressive income tax to use “workarounds” which might be more difficult with an opaque VAT. Truly, I say to you, get rid of the capital gains tax, the income tax, the inheritance taxes. Replace them all with a VAT and stop with the BS of counting who makes out better. Just applaud and reward people for making money and profits and we can bring back American ingenuity.
Another problem with LBJ and his “Great Society” was the farm subsidies in order to take into consideration how selling more milk would lower the price of the milk in a capitalist economy. It completely removed ingenuity to meet the demands of the consumers and finding other ways to use the product, besides just the drinking of milk. With this black hole of ingenuity, a European dairy company, utilizing the notion about “pasture-raised” cow butter took a piece of the American market. A VAT would be designed with a higher “tariff” on imported goods and give home-grown products a leg up in the market. Subsidies for farmers simply destroyed the market. We have read about upstate NY farmers who “dump their milk.” Dump the milk? What the hell is that, when considering the many aspects of milk like that of peppermint and lemon for dealing with pests. In this case, a milk product has proven effective, with copper sulfide, in fighting fungus. There are other possibilities, too, which are ignored, in favor of mass market considerations, rather than meeting the needs of smaller markets, thus helping to bolster the prices paid to farmers. It is called regulated capitalism, not subsidies and handouts. Capitalism has been given a black mark by Karl Marx who was an idiot in his assessments of economics. Adam Smith wanted to counter the prevailing ideas of his day regarding supply-side economics of manors, feudal property, etc.. Supply-side economics which created a serfdom and slavery. To the “moral sentiment” of Scottish, Adam Smith, these were wrong. Yet, he got shafted by Marx because the industrialists chose to adopt Smith’s ideas but conform the ideas to what already helped the elitists gain all their money they horded over others. Supply-side economics, not capitalism with regulation of supply and demand was blamed. Thus we ended up with Marxist ideas of central control by big corporations and monopolies while proclaiming them as being “great capitalists.” The are not. They are centrally controlled. It might not be a government or nationalized corporations, but it is centrally controlled. In turn, these people work to control the very government which SHOULD be regulating supply AND demand. By use of corrupt practices and “martini lunches” these hedg hog elitists control our lives and thus bring about anger of people /like Proud Boys who don’t know anything about what true democratic government SHOULD be and just resort to violence and guns with the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, while being coerced into believing colored people are at fault for their situation and never taking a look at how much better off THEY are, compared to so many other nations in this world – and living by APPRECIATING what they have, in comparison. Then I cringe at reading about the VAT needed to endorse the “welfare state” when the VAT was conceived by those who did not like the welfare state. Absurd and with a hollow tone.
Economy, Inflation, Gasoline, Oh MY!
Washington Week, Oct. 21, 2022
My factual commentary, not an opinion editorial (op-ed).
First of all, this is no way for contacting you – by form. I despise it. Same thing with social media. It’s all about the opinions in short messages. I object. A person whose funeral was celebrated in the past two weeks, reminded us by way of her eulogy, that using technology and phones was so un-human when considering we no longer talk face-to-face. Thumbs thumbs thumbs and not speaking with one another.
Now I have that out of the way, the reason for me contacting you.
On your program last night (Fri., Oct. 21), your analysts proved once again how media concentrates on analyzing opinions, not providing the facts. As on a one-time television program, the police detective said, “just the facts, ma’am, just the fax.” The character of Perry Mason said, “I am not interested in your opinion, only the evidence.” You use opinions as evidence far too much. Those two television series were models for the American public in the 1950s and 1960s, as reading by Americans declined (according to George Will).
Recently, a wonderful actress named Angela Lansbury died. In her series after the time period I describe above, she would often say, “I have a theory, but I need the evidence.”
I ask you wonderful media people, with due respect, why do you constantly analyze the opinions of people and never look for evidence to support such people. Where did the opinions of voters, brought forward last night, derive? From surveys? From just a few voters? Where did those opinions about issues derive?
Recently, in waiting for my car in a detailing shop, I waited some two hours in a bar. I was not drinking, but just needed to get a soda and burger to eat and the establishment was the closest for walking. Just to clarify because I rarely visit bars.
Perhaps I should visit bars more often. Because what I heard spoken by the people (mostly men, but a woman, too) was this. How lousy healthcare in America was, particularly focused on one PRIVATE local healthcare unit. I never heard one thing about the “bail issue in NY.” That “bail issue” lying commercial was prevalent – from the Republicans. Lies in the commercials. Not one word was spoken about any of the other issues for which Republicans in New York are lying so as to gain votes. Hitler’s Goebbels: “tell a lie so many times that it becomes fact.”
Never once do I ever hear the media of any kind speak about what is happening with regard to lies. Just presentation of analysis of the various opinions, even some voters. Just the facts, ma’am. Just the TRUTH, ma’am. And in the process, your remarks do nothing but scare voters away from the polls.
Last night, you had a clip of the debated between Stacey Abrams and Kemp of Georgia. Kemp was quoted as saying (paraphrased) that he made the voting registration process in Georgia an online system easier to use. Beg your pardon? You broadcast that piece of information and later last night, I get a call from a person who recently moved from Florida to Georgia. He described the voter registration, online, as being a nightmare, so he did not do it. There goes one vote from Abrams, whom he likes a great deal.
My bet is that it is now too late for this person to register for the upcoming election in which he favors Stacey Abrams. Every vote counts. So, I suggested he vote absentee in Florida since his address is still in Florida and he would vote for Charlie Crist rather than Ron DeSantis. Every vote counts.
Instead, this person reminded me of what it was like to vote absentee in Florida. He lived at a residence far from where he was attending college. It was a nightmare. I recall when I turned 18 in upstate NY, living at college but my primary residence being my home some four hours from college, doing absentee ballots then and finding it to be far less complex than what Florida made it, for the sake of the Republicans. More Democrats in the state of Florida, yet somehow the Republicans win and have a one-party state there.
Where is the historical evidence when discussing inflation and gas prices? There were many times of inflation in my life. We never pointed at the government.
Gas prices today are equal to about what they where 50 years ago (1973) during the time of the oil embargo. Historical economics evidence speaks mountains. First of all, if people would read newspapers, an op-ed columnist wrote about how, on the basis of inflation over the LONG TERM, the prices of gasoline today are lower than in the early 1950s when there was a gas increase and LOWER THAN the prices during the oil embargo, WHEN ADJUSTED FOR LONG-TERM INFLATION. Look at the salaries of the big oil conglomerate oligarchs today, compared to those earlier years? Did you do that? No. I know that oligarchic salaries since the 1970s have increased 1000% or more today. Even the salaries of workers paying for the gasoline are higher and give them a higher earnings level than those during the oil embargo (but not as much as 1000%).
The SAME PEOPLE who gave us the oil embargo are the problem today. Trump and big oil of Texas LOVE the Saudis. Trump and big oil LOVE Putin and the Russians. Putin is a by-product of those years during the oil embargo.
Did this historical evidence ever get revealed last night? Not once did I hear such examples. Instead, we heard the presentation of opinions on the side of “what the voters are saying.” Does it ever behoove media to present historical evidence which might show these voters being mesmerized by the very people who are the cause of the problem – Trump and his cronies, big oil, and the remnants of OPEC? What is presented is stupid people too easily mesmerized by lies who are snotty brats moaning and groaning like a bunch of spoiled brats.
I say this because in the years of the oil embargo and high gasoline, we came together more often to do something. We did NOT point fingers at a president or the government, due to the oil problem. We did not look at handouts from a government. How many times did I take my 4-hour trip to college in the cars of other parents other than my own? Car pooling on our own, not done by a government. How many times, when I purchased my OWN car, did I share rides with other college students (four of us to be exact) on the 4-hour drive to college and back? I saved those parents the gas money for each of four potential car loads of students. My parents never paid me for the gas. I would sometimes receive some cash from some of the riders, but I never insisted on it.
There were others who did the same thing. Voluntary car pooling. No one FORCED us to do it. Some did the car pooling from Long Island to the college, typically a six to eight hour trip. Some rode the bus.
We used different modes of transportation Only after a few years did some local governments set up car pooling options for the residents. AFTER the years we car pooled. Had electric or hybrid cars been available, we would have rejoiced. Big oil is trying to sabotage that and captures the stupid imaginations of too many stupid people.
The other thing about last night’s broadcast. Never mentioning the accomplishments of President Biden and the Democrats, except to brush them off with no analysis of WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Unemployment is down and has been reduced since President Biden took office. That should shoot holes into the lies of Oz in Pennsylvania, based on big oil, when discussing a Keystone project. “Loss of jobs.” OH? And what about the increase in jobs in the economy which has caused a lowering of unemployment? In other words, it’s lousy to lower unemployment but boy is it lousy that there is a lack of jobs due to – Keystone – offshore drilling in Florida, etc., etc. etc.
And then to hear some dwell on the reason to be against electric vehicles is the unfunded mandates for putting such vehicles in public transit. I have seen Republicans do unfunded mandates MANY, MANY, MANY times – to the detriment of public education. Don’t notice these people who are whiners complaining about those unfunded mandates which cause the taxes for public education to increase.
As for inflation, those of us who lived through inflationary periods have a great deal to teach, but are being shut down by the listeners of false information – from Fox News. how many times have I tried to take the opportunity to TEACH (my career was teaching) and other on the “red” side of the coin simply talk over me and not allow me to say one thing? My only way to say anything is writing, as in this example. But the media makes it more difficult to get published, with short snippy little tweets full of emotions and opinions, not the facts.
And who reads newspapers, right? Those of us who don’t like what I describe here which happened in last night’s Washington Week. The rest of the snotty young spoiled brats don’t read newspapers. Yet, in the newspapers of LOCAL INFORMATION and so forth, we have read information explaining how to overcome inflation. Instead, the Republican jerks of America rely on the fact that people don’t read such information and wisdom of age and inspire these brats against the government of Joe Biden and the Democrats. People who are NOT PERFECT, but have a record of doing some good things to counter what has been happening. The good things apparently are being BURIED by the strategies of lies and emotions emanating from a Republican Party leadership. Thus, these bastards LOVE it that we don’t come together as a nation and figure out how we can all deal with the inflation. They just expect someone to fix it.
When I was recently in a grocery store and looking for short ribs for a recipe I came across, the prices of short ribs exceeded $10 per pound. WOW! I was not going to pay that price. Sometimes, due to the cost, the stores just did not stock that meat.
When speaking with a human being called a butcher (at the store), it was suggested to me there is a less expensive cut of beef I could consider using to replace the short ribs. It was still on the expensive side, but it was worth considering. My thanks to human beings like that on the supply side who can help those of us on the demand side of a capitalist market, during these days of turmoil.
Yes, these examples are from the Middle Class. Yes, there is some suffering in the Middle Class. But so far, it has been Republicans who have worked to decrease the opportunities for people to live in the Middle Class, hoping to have “trickle-down economics” to all who become slaves and more impoverished. It has already been happening. Jack Walsh of GE, an anti-LGBTQ bigot, destroying the pensions of employees, leaving them with higher risk individual retirement accounts, while he and others have been corrupt and unethical in taking all the money for their bonuses and the 1000% increase they have gained since the 1970s. Many other CEOs, in particular big oil and the Koch brothers, have worked for the same results. Hording money at the top and denying it, but in a trickle, to the bottom, while private business and privatization have increased the costs for us in the Middle Class.
Did your media folks even delve into this issue? Not. Once again. Analyzing opinions only.
Mortgage rates. 3% in the 1950s when our parents purchased homes. 12% and 13% when we attempted to purchase a home in the 1980s. This was done under the REPUBLICANS who had PROMISED to reduce the interest rates. In 1982, under Reagan, 12%. In 1988 under George H.W. Bush, about 10 or 11% – still double figures.
Promises, promises, promises so as to only blame Democrats and unseat Democrats by not fulfilling the promises they likely COULD NOT fulfill. Those Republicans only delivered for FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS, not those who had already owned a home. Historical evidence, once again. Those of us who had already purchased homes at the high rates did not see relief into the single digits until Democrat, Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Reagan and the Republicans had won over the YOUNGER Baby Boomers who were the first-time home buyers. It was such people and younger who are the mean-spirited and vicious ones defending Republicans today, with their bratty spoiled attitudes, especially when things don’t go their way. They own huge acreage and more than what i can afford on a teacher’s salary and still wish to ask for more. Just like Ebeneezer Scrooge and the LOVE OF MONEY and MATERIALISM, before human beings.
Today, the fault with high housing prices and a possible head to high interest rates has been caused by Republican bank buddies, flipping of homes and corruption in selling new homes in new developments (particularly in Florida, as written by investigative LOCAL NEWS reporters, backed by librarians doing research, in the early 2000s). All of this opened the doors for corporate slum lords to move in to purchase homes and FORCE the people of Florida to rent rather than the “American dream” of house ownership for the LONG TERM. (And Suze Oman validates this with “the new American dream,” so as to make young folk feel better about all of this, rather than rid us of the thieves of business who are doing this – robber barons. What a joke).
And then there is the complaint by some regarding how President Biden is following precedence with the Chinese and taxes. Such spoiled brats are irritating and obnoxious because they ignore the ideas of the use of infrastructure development to light a fire under development of the U.S. semi-conductor industry. Why would he do such a thing? Because the semi-conductor industry is based in Taiwan, China realizes this, and intends to take over the nation. You think the tax situation with China is bad? Think about what would happen should all semi-conductors be made by THE COMMUNIST CHINESE. Better yet, think about coming to the defense of Taiwan and what that would entail. Give up our rights in America for the sake of averting war? Go to hell.
Again. Why did your media folk not go into what I have mentioned? Why do you not interject the facts and just concentrate on analyzing opinions? WHY? Unless this is changed, it will be the downfall of American democracy. Makes me wonder who is TRULY paying for the media in America today.
“Purple mountain majesty…” America the Beautiful. It does not read, “red mountain majesty…” It does not read, “blue mountain majesty…” It reads PURPLE, a combination of red and blue. How appropriate. How interesting that this portrays a beautiful America, a nation which SHOULD be working together for the betterment of this beautiful land, not scoffing and scarring those who are trying to do so. Working against one another, rather than blasting one another with guns, ammunition and “the bombs bursting in air…”
It is said that the most popular song played by the U.S. Marine Corps band is NOT the “Star Spangled Banner,” but “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Not “stars and bars,” which is the symbol of a certain battle flag. I suppose we can see that the later one is a verse with words that rhyme. Rhyme has nothing to do with the words we use, in this case, because the only rhyme or harmony, in this example, is inclusive only to white supremacists.
Let us work together for beating inflation and gasoline prices, not argue for one side or the other. Such ways are an abomination against democracy, supported by Satan and the Evil Spirit.
Commentary, democracy, Economics, Regulated Capitalism, Commerce, Energy, human-rights, Journalism & Media, Living & Learning Moment, Mister Doug Notes, Mister Doug Report, Op-ed