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  • Phil's Liberal Rant of the Week - Taxes!  40 comments
    Apr 16, 2011 11:46 AM

    One last try to see if we can get through to Flips:

    Corporate taxes are NOT a mechanism that discourages corporations from earning money. They are there to ENCOURAGE corporations to spend money. If a corporation makes profits and does not distribute them, then we have the same problem of pooling capital as we do with the top 0.01% – money is taken out of circulation and becomes unavailable to the economy. A corporation can pay out their income in salaries, they can pay dividends (REITs show no profits at all yet, strangely, people like to invest in them, blowing your entire theory), they can even invest in R&D or capital spending – all things that put money BACK into the economy and give other people a chance to earn some of it.

    Taxes are meant to address imbalances in the system – our lack of adequate taxation has thrown our society’s imbalances back to – well, I would say the stone age but even in the stone age things were more equally distributed because everyone shared food and shelter and medical care. No, we have thrown our society back to the 1920s, when the term Robber Barron was created – combining the worst aspects of Capitalism and Entitlement to describe those who would charge outrageous rates for vital goods or services, using their monopoly power to extract money from the powerless users of those services.

    It’s funny how when the Government wants to charge you money for a road or a bridge or a dam or the center for disease control you scream and call it a tax but when a utility company or commodity producer charges people higher prices that take money out of their pockets in order to create ever higher margins for themselves – that you call a fair profit. You are right, everyone is taxed – either by your beloved corporations who funnel that money up to the top 0.01% to buy yachts, private jets and much, much more land than you can ever dream of owning or by the government who, perhaps inefficiently, use that money to run our country as best they can.

    If you want to cut government waste – I’m 100% behind it but I’m not going to get behind cutting government itself, just so more people can be left to your corporate wolves – it’s not the America I want to live in, that’s all and the people who do live in this country, INCLUDING THE CORPORATE CITIZENS, need to start paying their fair share.

    Now, what is a fair share? Let’s say you are comfortable that a family making $30,000 a year is not poor and can happily live their life without government assistance. They can afford to have babies, raise the children through the normal childhood illnesses (and the occasional abnormal ones) and they can send them to school and buy them clothes the children will be proud to wear and feed them nutritious meals and send them off to college and then the parents will be able to continue working until 65 or 70 if they are not lazy and then retire without any outside support and, of course, pay for any illnesses or medical procedures they may have in 140 years of combined life.

    Well, if you don’t think they need any assistance then $30,000 is ENOUGH to live on. That means that we can say a person making $60,000 is successful and a person making $90,000 is very successful and $120,000, $150,000,.$180,000 – well, those guys are REALLY successful then aren’t they?

    If a person making $150,000 a year pays 20% tax – that’s $30,000. Should we expect the person earning $30,000 a year to also pay $30,000? No, that would be silly, right because clearly a person making $30,000 can’t afford to pay as much tax as a person making $150,000.

    Should then, a person who is making $30,000 pay $6,000? Clearly that $6,000 would greatly impact their ability to spend and save since there are certain fixed costs that are shared by both the man who works 40 hours a week in a retail store for $15 an hour and the man who sits at a desk all day in a bank making $75 an hour. They both work hard all day, they both need a chair to sit in when they go home and a room for the chair and they both need to keep the room warm and they both need food to eat and clothes to wear (or do you have a secret desire to be served by naked men when you go shopping?).

    So let’s take a stretch and assume there is a valid premise that there are some basic costs that must be met by all men to live. Now, does the man who sells you a toaster oven at Best Buy have the right to live in a home? Does he have the right to eat? Does he have the right to get married or have children – feel free to stop me wherever I go to far in humanizing him…

    If you are kind enough to allow the serving class those rights, then what? Do we educate their children? Do we make sure they have adequate nutrition or shall we pretend that that is not important in developing a competitive mind and body? Is it OK for them to dress in rags if they can’t afford new clothes every time they get bigger? We spend so much money telling people what failures they are if they don’t look good and dress well, I’m just concerned it MIGHT send a mixed message to these kids if they happen to watch TV and see all the things they clearly can’t afford, knowing no one cares enough to help them – least of all their own Government.

    Is it then so grossly unfair if perhaps we say to the man earning $30,000 that we can do without his $6,000, so he can somewhat provide for his family and we say to the man earning $150,000 that he can pay 24% of his wages in taxes to offset the taxes we would rather not put on the poorer families. That would still leave the $150,000 earner with $124,000 to spend on his food, clothing and shelter vs. the $30,000 the poor man has after they both work their 40 hour weeks.

    The funny thing about the tax code we now have is that the man earning $30,000 pays 15% (if married) of his salary plus another 6.2% for SS and another 1.45% for Medicare for 22.65% ($6,795) while the man earning $150,000 pays 28% plus 6.2% on the first $102,600 only plus the 1.45% for Medicare, which is about 33.5% ($50,250) but the man or Corporation who earns $150,000,000 pays only 16% taxes or no taxes at all if they have a good accountant and even the man with $150,000 doesn’t pay $50,250 unless his accountant is a fool.

    The $30,000 family, they can’t afford an accountant – certainly not if one of the kids doesn’t have perfect vision or perfect teeth – braces alone are more than they pay in taxes….

    The more money people on the top have to spend, the more stuff they buy. Some would consider that a good thing (trickle down and all that) but what they are really doing is sucking up resources and bidding up the price that everyone else has to pay.

    If I make $1Bn a year and I decide that my home will have a fizzy swimming pool with a Coca-Cola waterfall that uses a million gallons a day and drives up the national price of Coke by a nickel for everyone else – who am I benefiting other than the Coca-Cola company, who know they can charge more for their product because the demand from the rich idiots with a Coca-Cola waterfall is inelastic.

    That’s what the demand is like from people who drive Hummers and limos, or live in homes that cost more money to heat than other people’s entire mortgages or take 1,000 acres of good farmland and build private golf courses or fly place to in jets for one or two that use as much fuel as 100 regular passengers all going to the same place. Actually, the higher use of private jets leads to a lower demand for first-class seats, which is where the airlines used to make most of their money to offset cheaper fairs in coach – now the coach passengers pay far more because the rich can’t be bothered to fly with them any more….

    As I said – imbalances that either are redressed or simply become greater and greater imbalances until, finally, the poor people come to realize that a rich man’s skull can be crushed with a poor man’s rock and that the only way to stop them from consuming all of society’s resources, including the money (after exhausting all legislative possibilities through the Government that only serves the rich) is to physically stop them. That’s how revolutions begin.

    There needs to be a concept of enough and a concept of too much. The Conservatives clearly understand enough as they feel a family living on $30,000 a year is not poor and needs no assistance and, in fact, can have $7,000 taken from them in taxes because, really, $30,000 to spend, $23,000 – what’s the difference – just the choice between the sport package with leather seats or the basic model, right?

    I have no problem with what we have for people AND corporations who are under $250,000 a year in income, which is about where you begin to have some real extra money but at $500,000, we are beginning to get into a realm where paying an extra 10% will not impact our lifestyle nor would 20% more over $1M or 30% more over $5M. But 40% of the money in this country is made by people and corporations who make over $5M a year and 30% of that is 12% of the income and that money – even if you don’t use it to reduce the debt – is enough money to let the people and corporations who earn less than $5M pay 20% LESS taxes.

    Who needs it more?

    Don’t forget, a guy who makes $5M a year is making $100,000 a week. If he’s upset about not having enough money, he can skip a week’s vacation and pick up another $100K or, like the government, he could cut out some wasteful spending from the family budget. A person who makes $15 an hour (60% of the people you see every day outside of an office building) has to work an extra three weeks (90 hours = $1,200) just to pay for the average cost of books in college for one of his children for one year (assuming they had perfect teeth and perfect vision and never got sick or had an accident).

    Can you really look in a mirror and say that this is still a land of equal opportunity with a straight face?
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Comments (40)
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  • what?what?
    , contributor
    Comments (14) | Send Message
    So how many months of earnings should we take from someone? 6,7,8? Someone earning 30k has had an opportunity to better themselves at many points in their lives. If you choose for whatever reason to give up on improving yourself then you pay the consequences. No everyone can't go to college, but adversity in life is a motivating factor to improve ourselves. We should provide basic needs and security as a society but always encourage if not force people to better themselves, it is the driving force to evolution.
    16 Apr 2011, 01:42 PM Reply Like
  • aspiring_beginner
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message
    you're an idiot
    24 Jan 2012, 06:33 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4819) | Send Message
    >User 44849 ... Thanks for a very stereotypical sociopaths' response.
    17 Apr 2011, 06:01 PM Reply Like
  • Gary A
    , contributor
    Comments (3154) | Send Message
    Phil, you can get permission from Seeking Alpha to repost this on Business Insider. Email Henry Blodget. That is if SA doesn't publish this past your instablog. People need to see this.
    17 Apr 2011, 08:55 PM Reply Like
  • Philip Davis
    , contributor
    Comments (2464) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » You guys are free to publish anything of mine that's published here Gary - I have no problem with that. I'll be in touch re. setting something up with you.
    17 Apr 2011, 09:25 PM Reply Like
  • Gary A
    , contributor
    Comments (3154) | Send Message
    Hi Phil, I don't have authority to do so. I am a lowly contributor. :) Thanks for thinking about my email.
    18 Apr 2011, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • (S)wingman
    , contributor
    Comments (151) | Send Message
    The man selling you the toaster oven at Best Buy does have the right to improve his position. There are several options, here's a few that come to mind right away:


    A. Look for a different job.
    B. Further his education, if necessary, to qualify for a better job.
    If he has to, he can get a (government-backed) student loan.
    C. He could also opt for a part-time job for additional income.
    D. Excel at his current position and get promoted.


    Can it be done? Sure, you constantly read stories of people achieving success through diligence, hard work and (sometimes extreme) self-sacrifice.


    Is it easy? No, (it really never has been) but it's doable. This guy is selling toaster ovens because that's his comfort level, it's what he settled for. Everyone is where they are because of the decisions they made along the way.


    Yes, this remains the land of opportunity but you have to do your part. As Edison said - success is still 99% persperation.
    18 Apr 2011, 12:14 PM Reply Like
  • aspiring_beginner
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message


    You're a bigger idiot than the commenter above you (What? what?).


    And that's saying something.


    I dare you. I freakin' DARE you to post something resembling a basic bio here. As of Jan 23-2012, you have no bio, no nothing.


    Don't you understand that selling toaster ovens at Worst Buy might BE what he has accomplished to that given random point in life?


    How old is he? 20? 60?


    What kind of family did he come from? Did his parents pay for him to go to college? If you think student loans can pay for college you're nuts (and ignorant). Did he have good health care growing up?


    How do YOU know that he has "settled" for that, that he is "in hos comfort zone". dumbass.


    His job is NOT his "comfort zone", necessarily. It is NOT what he has "settled for", necessarily. For all you know, he MIGHT BE IN COLLEGE taking 4 courses a quarter and working 25 hours a week and staying up until 3am every night studying.


    He might have been hit by a car a year ago, spent 7 months in the hospital and physical therapy recovering and letting his bones grow back together, and it might take every fiber of his being just to GET to work every day.


    The thing I find most disgusting about people like you is that, as they said about "Dubya", you're born on third base and think you hit a single, so to speak.


    It's OK for you to sit in your plush surroundings and feel self congratulatory and smug about how great you are. But don't be so grotesque as to come here and criticize people who work for a living. One of those waiters might just drop a little strychnine in your espresso one of these days.


    You might want to read the comment that I wrote under Phil's article on Jan 17-2012.


    You just don't get it. There are not enough $80,000 jobs for everyone to have one. You might have one, you might have a $200,000 dollar job.


    And that is totally, I mean TOTALLY the result of ONLY your own hard work and "choices" at "various points" through your life until now, right?


    NO help from anyone of any kind, right? You graduated from high school, left your parents house, did not take anything with you, and that is what you "started with", right? Paid for all your own college and went straight to Goldman Sachs, and been there until you're now 60 years old, right? And everybody else should be able to do that too, since you did, so they are all lazy, right? right?


    That scenario is MY history.


    You wanna talk about hard work? Next time you're in my town stop by. We'll go out for a few days and we'll see who can work who under a table.


    24 Jan 2012, 07:16 AM Reply Like
  • (S)wingman
    , contributor
    Comments (151) | Send Message
    By the way Phil, are you no longer publishing articles? I've been away for a while and the most recent article of yours popping up on SA is dated March 9th.
    18 Apr 2011, 12:21 PM Reply Like
  • Philip Davis
    , contributor
    Comments (2464) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Publishing? I publish every day at but SA and I have parted ways.


    As to the job issue, let me clarify this part. My attitude is that there are jobs that need to be done in society. Your car needs to be washed, someone has to pick lettuce in a field for you, someone has to sew buttons on your shirt, someone has to pick up your trash and teach your children and someone has to go to Afghanistan and try to stop terrorists from building new camps where they train people to kill you. What I am saying is that yes – a person who puts in a full day of hard work in ANY job deserves some basic human decency from society. I’m sorry if I was not clear in my example of a guy working at Best Buy but it’s one of the 120M out of 140M jobs in this country that pays around 1 to 2x the minimum wage.


    While it is true that for every plantation there can only be one Lord and one overseer and many, many slaves – even the slave owners provided their workers with food, clothing, shelter and medical care for them and their families – even the Egyptians allowed those who built the pyramids a day of rest and the right to have families and meet their basic human needs.


    Not in America though – in America you can have a job that doesn’t pay you enough money to live. Doesn’t pay you enough to retire or get married or have children and then there are people who will blame the worker for not being able to provide for themselves or their families – EVEN if they work as hard as any other person does, just for lower wages.


    That’s what I am talking about when I give an example of a man in Best Buy making $15 and hour. Does a woman who wakes up at 4am to start picking your tomatoes until dusk deserve to come home from her 12-hour day of work with less money than your secretary makes in two hours? Should she make less money in a month than you pay your company salesman in a day to play golf with clients? Should she make less money in a year than your accountant bills you for a week of helping your company avoid paying taxes?


    You can pay people LESS and you can try to justify all sorts of elaborate formulas for determining what is fair on some relative basis but I am simply saying that ANYONE who works hard at a job deserves to earn enough money to support a family and it is the RESPONSIBILITY of society to make sure there is a balance there between rich and poor.


    If there were not people buying $1M homes and eating $50 steaks and driving 10 mpg trucks to the grocery store – then it would not cost the man who works at Wal-Mart so much to live but it’s the very imbalances caused by the conspicuous consumption of the top 1% that drives up the costs of basic necessities for the bottom 99% and that is where the laissez-faire system falls apart – at the point at which your slave class can no longer support themselves.


    We NEED those services and, unlike some Ayn Rand fantasy, they don’t need us – we may come up with the cool electronics or the great entertainment etc. but, as is proven by 5Bn people on this planet every single day – people can be born, go to school, get jobs, have families and be taken care of in their old age – all for less than $2,500 a year of per capita GDP.


    WE AT THE TOP have created a society that makes it impossible IN OUR LITTLE PART OF THE WORLD for our workers to live without having a great deal more money than that. That makes it our responsibility to make sure we do pay them enough to live their lives with dignity and, if we can do that and still have some profits left over – then good for us. But, if the only way we can make our profits is to take away the basic human needs of others – then what kind of society is that?
    18 Apr 2011, 04:05 PM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4819) | Send Message
    >P.Davis ... Amen!
    18 Apr 2011, 06:11 PM Reply Like
  • DigDeep
    , contributor
    Comments (4493) | Send Message
    Heavy truths with complex implications.


    TBTF's are now 30% bigger than pre-Lehman with executives bilking more $ than before. Corporations basically take away 'the basic human needs' when they off-shore pump earnings for their stock valuations. State & Local gov'ts have gotten out of whack with expenditures v income - so the 'basic human need suffers' when austerity measures reduce public the middle-poor class level more than the upper bureaucrat level....


    Gov't Leadership demonstrates the funding drain every election. Tough to see that changing anytime soon.
    Corporate leaders demonstrate their greed daily with general admiration from MSM.
    People need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps - but is the glass ceiling too think and they lose hope?


    BTW - when I looked at your subscription rates I saw some heavy $ to read your daily posts. I'd pay $10-$15 month to have the opp to read in real-time. The 48 hour wait is reasonable - which I do.


    19 Apr 2011, 08:51 AM Reply Like
  • Rich in Quebec
    , contributor
    Comments (4831) | Send Message
    What I find sad about the U.S. is that it seemingly has regressed back to the Gilded Age, with hints of Social Darwinism (see 444849 above), and Horatio Alger(see Swingman). The U.S. had better rediscover the seemingly forgotten concepts of Social Contract and Living Wage, before those ignorant of their history condemn their country to relive a renewed anarchist movement.
    22 Apr 2011, 08:03 AM Reply Like
  • The Other John Mc
    , contributor
    Comments (45) | Send Message
    Rich in Quebec, your Social Darwinist point is right on the money...just look above at the first comment on this article by "what?what?"...he/she says "We should provide basic needs and security as a society but always encourage if not force people to better themselves, it is the driving force to evolution."


    Why is "'evolution" perceived to be necessarily good or right?
    It doesn't really have anything to do with taxes. Evolution's "survival of the fittest" is not a moral imperative intended for sociology or economics or law, it is an observation about the natural world for explaining phenomena in biology (and to some extent sociology and psychology).


    And who would want to live in a world like that? Is that the ideal we should be striving to? That the strongest should "survive" and everyone else can go to hell? (ignoring the fact that the strongest typically means the cruelest, the most-power hungry, the most evil people will seize and secure power and resources).


    People should keep scientific concepts that they don't understand out of politics and economics....sorry one of my pet peeves.
    24 Feb 2012, 10:15 AM Reply Like
  • Philip Davis
    , contributor
    Comments (2464) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » George Orwell touched on this problem talking about science as a "practical" education:


    But does all this mean that the general public should not be more scientifically educated? On the contrary! All it means is that scientific education for the masses will do little good, and probably a lot of harm, if it simply boils down to more physics, more chemistry, more biology, etc., to the detriment of literature and history. Its probable effect on the average human being would be to narrow the range of his thoughts and make him more than ever contemptuous of such knowledge as he did not possess: and his political reactions would probably be somewhat less intelligent than those of an illiterate peasant who retained a few historical memories and a fairly sound aesthetic sense.


    Clearly, scientific education ought to mean the implanting of a rational, sceptical, experimental habit of mind. It ought to mean acquiring a method — a method that can be used on any problem that one meets — and not simply piling up a lot of facts. Put it in those words, and the apologist of scientific education will usually agree. Press him further, ask him to particularize, and somehow it always turns out that scientific education means more attention to the sciences, in other words — more facts.


    The idea that science means a way of looking at the world, and not simply a body of knowledge, is in practice strongly resisted. I think sheer professional jealousy is part of the reason for this. For if science is simply a method or an attitude, so that anyone whose thought-processes are sufficiently rational can in some sense be described as a scientist — what then becomes of the enormous prestige now enjoyed by the chemist, the physicist, etc. and his claim to be somehow wiser than the rest of us?
    24 Feb 2012, 11:23 AM Reply Like
  • The Other John Mc
    , contributor
    Comments (45) | Send Message
    I think you nailed it Phil...and along similar lines, I always loved Carl Sagan's definition of Science as being two key things: (1) a body of knowledge, and (2) a way of's not science if it doesn't have both ingredients
    24 Feb 2012, 12:52 PM Reply Like
  • (S)wingman
    , contributor
    Comments (151) | Send Message
    In the lyrics of an old Staples Singers song - 'Respect Yourself':


    "If you're walkin 'round
    think'n that the world
    owes you something
    'cause you're here


    You goin' out
    the world backwards
    Like you did
    when you first come here


    I know my great-grandparents on my father's side came into this country just about penniless speaking only Russian. My great grandfather started his own business, he pushed a cart around the streets of Cincinnati buying and selling used merchandise. My great-great grandparents on my mothers side emigrated from Scotland and settled in Kentucky, becoming farmers (guaranteed living wage? Thats a laugh).


    They all had one thing in common, a desire to better themselves and not to settle for what they started with. One of the pushcart vendor's sons became a doctor, the other successful insurance salesman. The doctor married my grandmother, who had left Kentucky, moved to Ohio and started her own beauty salon. (Interesting sidebar here, during the Depression most patients didn't have the money to pay their doctor bills but the women always had $1.25 to come in every week for a 'shampoo and set'. It was my grandmother's business that enabled them to get through). This spirit of entrepreneurship continued through generations. My mother had her own trucking company(!) and worked until she was 72. I've had my own businesses since 1971. For over 100 years this family has survived and prospered without a guaranteed living wage.


    What's the point? Maybe you're right. The U.S. is not so much a
    Land of Opportunity any more. Instead it's evolving into a "Land of Entitlement" where people think they're owed something just because they're here - and we will be worse for it.
    19 Apr 2011, 10:08 AM Reply Like
  • DigDeep
    , contributor
    Comments (4493) | Send Message
    4-way onion please
    extra mustard on the sk....ers
    19 Apr 2011, 10:15 AM Reply Like
  • harvardbiz
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
    Clearly little evidence of systems thinking or analysis around here (other than Phil). I came to the US the legal way armed with a solid EU education from a military academy. Landed in the great state of Louisiana, worked at Wendy's, grocery stores, minimum wage, the works. No one had heard about my home country, what "summa cum laude" was, and they all persisted on calling me "honey". Well I decided to make a move to MA, was accepted at Harvard Business School after much persistence, graduated after even more, worked on Wall Street, left in disgust, moved to WA in the search for more ethical, earnest folks and after 25 years, AND becoming a US citizen, making lots of $$, I am done. Corporate america owns the united states and anyone arguing to the contrary is either lost in a "movie in their head" or simply bad at math.
    It could have been something, but it isn't. I am reneging my US citizenship, and not happily so. But enough is enough, this is corporate fascism script-written by Hollywood and the corporate press. Goodbye.
    22 Apr 2011, 03:38 PM Reply Like
  • DigDeep
    , contributor
    Comments (4493) | Send Message
    Good luck to you.
    22 Apr 2011, 03:56 PM Reply Like
  • billknowsall
    , contributor
    Comments (292) | Send Message
    harvardbiz=sourgrapes/ bitter/ anothertaker. Come to the US, make your dough and then move on and whine about all the things you don't like- why did you not stay in your own country if this one sucks so bad? Good riddance. I for one could give a s**t about your leaving!
    26 Apr 2011, 11:09 PM Reply Like
  • Rich in Quebec
    , contributor
    Comments (4831) | Send Message
    billknowsail - You care enough to comment. I find it strange that in a country where the rich often attribute their wealth to their efforts alone, and attempt to justify keeping all of it from the reach of a government that might spread it to the "unworthy", that an appreciation of a self-made man is negated by his feeling of revulsion from the ethos of greed that surrounds him.


    Harvardbiz - Pragmatism should motivate you to keep your U.S. citizenship and passport. Keep your options open, and good luck, wherever you go.
    26 Apr 2011, 11:39 PM Reply Like
  • berettasskeeter
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    "...does the man who sells you a toaster oven at Best Buy have the right to live in a home? Does he have the right to eat? Does he have the right to get married or have children – feel free to stop me wherever I go to far in humanizing him…"


    He has the right to work for those things! He has no intrinsic right to them without working for them!! I, and you, have NO obligation to give him those things, any more than others have the obligation to give them to us. Nor does he have the right to demand that we give them! We all must work for them! We have the freedom to pursue them, and the freedom to fail if we work insufficiently hard for them.
    22 Apr 2011, 08:20 PM Reply Like
  • Philip Davis
    , contributor
    Comments (2464) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » He IS working for them - he's putting in a solid 40+ hours a week but, even at 2x minimum wage that's simply not enough ($600/wk) to raise a family and retire in comfort - it's simply not possible.


    A guy working for minimum wage ($7.50/hr - $300/wk) can work his ass off for "those things" and you sure aren't going to give them to him are you? So, should no one do those jobs at all? I would like nothing better than for everyone earning less than the "average income" of $48,000 a year go on strike because only then would you understand how much you need those people to work for you.


    Those jobs must be done, we need good people to work hard in positions that fill roles in society - do we not have an obligation to treat them with the same respect as someone filling another job that arbitrarily pays a higher salary?


    Is it right for David Novak (YUM CEO) to make $30M a year when his average employee makes $20,000? Is he really worth 1,500 people? Is it possible that one day of David Novak's time has the value of 5 years worth of one of his employees? The whole company only has 53,000 employees and makes $1.2Bn in profits, even after paying Novac's salary, which is enough to give each employee a $22,641 bonus!


    There is no equal opportunity for people to get jobs. Once a person is too poor for college - it's pretty much over for them and only 6% of students from low-income households earn a bachelor's degree vs 51.3% from high-income households. If you think that's a fair system then you are delusional.


    24 Apr 2011, 10:57 AM Reply Like
  • billknowsall
    , contributor
    Comments (292) | Send Message
    Phil, I paid my own way through undergrad and grad school. At times, I put tuition on my credit card. I recall talking about charging my tuition with a coworker(working in a hospital) and having one of the nearby MDs giving me a look of derision for having to do so. Guess what? I survived. I hold an MBA today. I did it on my own and so should most others. I make my own way through life and chose my path- for better or worse, I will deal with my self generated results. Rugged individualism built this country, not the nanny state.
    As for the government being the best way to run things, what a joke. You forget that the government serves at OUR pleasure- not the other way around. With no profit motive, there is no incentive for the gov't to do anything decently. Exhibit A is the setup of our federal reserve. Why do we even have it? Why not have money printed and managed by the treasury? Cut out the self dealers that only help their buds...
    I lived in NYC/LI in the 60's/70's. I saw the "wonders" that government could produce. That's why I live in the Cincinnati area today. I hate to say it, but I see the same ossification now occurring here- unfunded grandiose mass transit schemes, pushes to move section 8 housing out of the inner city to suburban neighborhoods, tax breaks for favored groups, etc. Oh yeah, that's what got me started- your statement that the purpose of taxes is to set social agendas. WRONG! Taxes should ONLY be used to raise revenue. Anything beyond is more liberal claptrap. Oh yeah- I think I am owed a free/ severely discounted (say $2/month) subscription to your website. Why not? I know you make more money than I...
    26 Apr 2011, 11:38 PM Reply Like
  • The Other John Mc
    , contributor
    Comments (45) | Send Message
    billknowsall, you said:
    "Taxes should ONLY be used to raise revenue".


    A government that can print its own money does not need taxes in order to have money...think about that for a second, why would an entity that can print its own money need taxes? They have an unlimited source of "revenue" at the press of a button. So why tax?


    The answer, correctly pointed out by Phil above, is that taxes serve to regulate the economy (the amount of money in circulation versus the amount of goods being chased). Government spending is the gas pedal, taxation is the brakes, and going the speed limit safely involves keeping inflation in check by balancing these two forces.


    Governemnt does not tax because they need our money...they DON'T. Any thinking to the contrary is delusional.
    24 Feb 2012, 10:26 AM Reply Like
  • Rich in Quebec
    , contributor
    Comments (4831) | Send Message
    Berettaskeeter - Debtor's prisons were eliminated, and eventually free public education made universal, and compulsory for the recipient, came to be , for the benefit of those not in need of these changes. A compliant and useful population necessitated such changes. He who seeks philosophical underpinnings for his greed or righteousness should look back to the lessons of his forebears. Pragmatism is supposed to be an American virtue. Apparently, no more!
    23 Apr 2011, 08:05 AM Reply Like
  • Proactive Investing
    , contributor
    Comments (15) | Send Message


    Before I start the longer portion of my comment, 3 things:
    1) I'm an Independent that leans toward the right
    2) Socioeconomically, I belong in the sub 150K annual income level
    3) I'M IN AGREEMENT WITH IDEA AND THESIS presented above


    My parents both worked and then built a successful business 20 years ago based on hard work and sacrifice. To say that this country is not the land of opportunity goes a bit too far as this country still provides a better environment to succeed than a lot of other countries. However, one can make the case that the ladder one can use to climb from one socioeconomic subclass to the next has wider spaces between the steps and the slope by which that ladder is positioned has gotten a lot closer to a 90 degree angle vs. a more manageable 45.


    The gradual disappearance of the "middle class" is what will move this country to the level below that 1st world status. I have lived most of my life in a country (Philippines) where there is no real middle class and you're either in the "haves" or "have nots". 15 years ago, I didn't think that there was a good probability that this is where the country would be 15 years later.


    It's not surprising anymore though to see why the economic (not stock market) bounce after each of the past 5 recessions/downturns has been less/lower than the previous one. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I would think that the preceding recessions have done a lot more damage to the middle class. Thus, when the next recession occurs, the true engine of the economy, what is left of the middle class from the previous downturn cannot help bail the country out.


    When you see GE and a lot of companies pay an effective tax rate of 0% yet their executives making millions, you scratch your head and say WTF?!?


    I must say, a family of 4 making 250K in NYC metro area (where I live) isn't the same as making 250K in San Antonio, TX. I'll give those who complain about 250K being rich vs. poor that. So that has to be addressed in any tax code revamp. BUT like you 250K and above SHOULDN'T be classified in the same level.
    24 Apr 2011, 04:41 PM Reply Like
  • DigDeep
    , contributor
    Comments (4493) | Send Message
    All good points.
    My solution wouldn't immediately address income disparity.
    It would assist with employment for the manufacturing sector - creating higher demand for mfg labor - likely raising their bargaining power.


    Apply all of the regulations, environmental laws, employee benefits, human rights, etc...apply to any imported goods. Most developed markets have equivalent reg's and therefore costs of production.


    All else being equal - lower labor costs alone wouldn't tear into our manufacturing base as we've witnessed for the last 3 decades.


    Why do importers get a free pass on using lower production operating standards - by-passing domestic production and stocking their shelves with the cheapest production? Wal-mart doesn;t give a damn about what a Virginia producer can offer if there's like production cheaper from anywhere else...except that 'like production' is surface only. All this 'green initiative' image being thrown about gets lost when the low cost EM producer comes to the table to deliver - regardless of their lack of equivalent standards and safeguards.
    24 Apr 2011, 08:09 PM Reply Like
  • extremebanker
    , contributor
    Comments (2193) | Send Message
    Phil: Totally agree with you about taxing rich folks. They have had it good for a long time. They need to pay more taxes. However, I cannot agree that corporate taxes are a tax on the rich. Corporate taxes are simply a tax on low to moderate consumers. It is an expense that is added to the price of goods and services like any other expense.


    Look at the pricing differences between credit unions and commercial banks. One pays taxes and one doesn't. The small company I work for has a 34% marginal corporate tax rate. A lot of big companies pay no U.S. corporate taxes.


    Reduce corporate taxes to cut business expense and tax the hell out of the top one half percent. The world will be a better place.
    12 May 2011, 10:05 PM Reply Like
  • MPT failed
    , contributor
    Comments (271) | Send Message
    But that group changes every year depending upon who cshes in their stock options. Better to tax stock options as ordinary income than to try to tax some vague rotating group of people. Tax fairness beats class warfare.
    12 Jul 2011, 01:09 PM Reply Like
  • richardcavessa
    , contributor
    Comments (259) | Send Message
    LOL a secret desire to be served by naked men when you go shopping? the rich NEED those services and, unlike some Ayn Rand fantasy ending up collecting welfare....js
    further grossing 300$ nets about 200$ after taxes&ssi


    good to read ya again tho
    25 May 2011, 12:03 PM Reply Like
  • mcdammit
    , contributor
    Comments (9) | Send Message
    Phil, can you give us an example of placing your money where your mouth is? How much do you contribute to society, I mean, besides your words of wisdom on how we should operate as a country, how much do you give to education, charity, food banks, red cross, some group out there some where that makes your social justice song worth while ( I do believe in the red cross, just pointing out at least one group that makes a difference). Do you fund orphans thru school? Do you go out of your way to find the poor working class family and provide them dinners (with wine). Do you even understand how seriously you contradict yourself on the one hand saying how "easy it is to make money shorting the marker" then on the other say how unfair it is for poor slobs not to be paid a wage? You are the prime example of my motto," You dont get rich copying poor people, you get rich by copying what rich people do." I am middle class, I was significantly poor class at one time, and one day I hope to be a rich class.... one ladder rung at a time. Last thought, I did not ask for nor recieve permission to have children, but when I did have kids, I accepted that responsibility and decision that my spouse and I made.... not once did I ever whine to any one that life was too hard, and how unfair it was... working for the man at low wages trying to make a living with a family.... as, it was no one elses responsibilities to do so.....
    6 Jul 2011, 01:43 PM Reply Like
  • MPT failed
    , contributor
    Comments (271) | Send Message
    Where should we start with fairer taxes?


    How about the Corporate Royalty and their stock options. They get capital gains treatment, but there is none of their capital involved, (just the no-cost-to -them shares they took from their company's treasury).


    Since they put up no capital, only time on the job, how can these profits POSSIBLY be treated as capital gains? The top 2% of the "rich" are a rotating pool of executives who cash in large amounts of stock options. I am not for ""soak the rich"", just for stock option bonus babies to pay ordinary income tax rates on this ordinary but excessive income. (Those $$ used in the stock buybacks to soak up the excess shares should have been my dividends!).
    12 Jul 2011, 01:04 PM Reply Like
  • Rokjok777
    , contributor
    Comments (602) | Send Message
    OK the post started on Taxes so here goes: we need to return to the tax rates we had under those two radical Leftie presidents: Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Corporations paid taxes, 1%ers like Mitt paid taxes, and our overall standard of living, investment in the future, and financial condition was immeasurably better.
    Point number two: the guy who sells you the toaster at BestBuy. I live in Australia, where the very same guy makes a minimum wage of $16.50 per hour. He gets reasonable/free health care; low-cost university, and if all else fails he gets a small retirement, whether he worked or not. The toaster itself costs about twice what it costs in the US. But I gladly pay it so I can live in a safe, just society, a society where my kids can find summer jobs, where banks pay 6% interest on CDs so retirees are OK, where I know that a bad illness will not force me into bankruptcy.
    Wake up America, you've been sold a bill of goods. Endless war, endless banker bailouts, endless rule by the 1% is a disaster for your nation.
    31 Jan 2012, 03:16 PM Reply Like
  • Rich in Quebec
    , contributor
    Comments (4831) | Send Message
    Rokjok - Your post brings to mind a possibly apocryphal story. Apparently, during a long spell of deep fog in the English Channel, a turn of the 20th century English newspaper had as a headline -"Europe Isolated". The U.S. is today's economic and social outlier, and most Americans don't know it. As many Americans decry "Obamacare" and wish to return to the previous system, no better road to political oblivion could be found in other former English colonies than such a call.
    1 Feb 2012, 08:39 AM Reply Like
  • DrData02
    , contributor
    Comments (31) | Send Message
    Phil: The article is right on target.


    Somehow our citizens need to understand these facts.


    It was wise of you to present it without any reference to political parties--since they are just different actors promoting optional flavors of the same outcome.


    Thanks for the hard thought and clear exposition.
    25 Feb 2012, 12:23 PM Reply Like
  • aspiring_beginner
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message


    Very good comments. Thanks.
    9 Apr 2012, 11:46 PM Reply Like
  • aspiring_beginner
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message


    I am not here as an apologist for Phil, but I can say that I DO know a little about him. It's not my place to comment on what he does or does not do in terms of social improvement, but I have very good reason to believe he does a lot. It's just not visible.


    "Philanthropy" does not always mean trying to get your name on a building. Not that Phil is on that scale. Not what I mean. I just know he has helped some people. But he doesn't take out billboards about it.


    His Writings are not just a writing exercise, or a way to get his frustrations out. There's a little more to it.


    You might also want to look into a dude 'name of Paul Tudor Jones. Interesting story there.
    9 Apr 2012, 11:51 PM Reply Like
  • aspiring_beginner
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message


    sorry, one more thing i just thought of......


    A. I do hope you continue along your long term trek up the scales. I, like many, have spent a large part of my life in poverty. But I also spent about 15 years (mostly after the poverty part) earning a reasonable wage (and then salary), in a series of better and "semi-professional jobs. I got into those jobs ONLY because I did all the things over the previous 20 years that slowly led to them, in other words, I "taught" myself enough and then "bootstrapped it" to be able to work my way up in the world. Like you, every single step "up" I've taken has been as a result of my own work and initiative. Don't know what the future holds for me......still swingin' at the pitches......


    B. Here's my question, more rhetorical than actual.........let's say, that through some incredibly good fortune (and yes, some very hard work on your part) you came across, say, $40 million over the next 5 years. Maybe you invent a better lightbulb or something (to borrow from Saving Private Ryan).


    I don't know how large your immediate and extended family is, so just mentally adjust the 40 mil to whatever number would mean that you could not POSSIBLY spend all the money in your lifetime and the lifetime of every single family member, friend, or other people you care about. I mean, choose whatever number you want, so that it is "obscenely" large........just to make the point.


    Question is, what would you do with the leftovers? I mean, forget 40 mil, let's say you made 500 mil. Lets say you set up yourself and every one of the people mentioned above to a level of truly unimaginable wealth and luxury forever. Let's say that took 100 mil, and we'll assume that includes enough investable cash that you could live off the interest at that same luxury level forever, without the principle going down. So let's say you've got 400 mil leftover.


    What would you do with it? I mean that very seriously. It is a very good question to ponder.


    If you did ANY kind of "philantrhropy" that was social in nature (not funding another dufus art museum), would you say that the people you help would be "lazy" or "undeservedly inferior"?


    Are there any people outside your family and friends that you would feel comfortable "giving a hand to", to assist them in climbing out of poverty?


    Keep in mind, that what what seems like a rounding error to a lot of rich can seem like a massive fortune to somebody who is homeless or starving or having suffered "wife battering" or severe abuse of any kind. In other words, pick a really poor person who is of good moral fiber, but comes from a background that could charitably be described as "extremely difficult". Maybe that person is 35 years old and has worked heavy labor for 15 years. Maybe having somebody help him get a decent reliable car, a place to live that has actual windows instead of cardboard covering half the windows, and enough kitchen stuff to be able to cook every day, would be an unimaginable stroke of good luck for him. Could you help a person like that under the circumstances I described, and feel OK about it?


    I guess it's kind of an existenstal-philsophical question, but I think it is at the root of a huge amount of what the Human Condition is all about. I mean, the whole scenario that I describe, isn't that a lot of what "Christianity" is suppposed to be about? I'm not a religious person, so I'm not asking from that perspective.


    This is, now that I think about it, a really, really important question. Some people who are bazillionaires won't give a penny to anybody unless it DID mean getting their name on a building. Some have an attitude that is almost "meaness". What I mean by that is an attitude of "I made mine the hard way, so everybody else can go screw themselves, I'm not helping anybody else out, they can suffer like I did". I'm talking here about somebody with a Billion dollars. There ARE businessmen in my state who have that much net worth. One guy has a 40 foot high bronze statue of liberty in his front yard (a mansion on the lake).


    I mean, I don't have the right to tell him what to do with his money, but heh........


    I mean, maybe the yound black kid from the ghetto that he helps out, helps him get an education, helps him get out of a pre-determined life of selling drugs, might be the same kid who he helps avoid being the one who robs him and shoots him on the street someday, because he has lived a life of frustration and racism.


    just sayin, dude....


    10 Apr 2012, 12:23 AM Reply Like
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