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John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
JamesGifford wrote:
Well, Tina, we were talking about taxes, AFAIK, and last time I looked we didn't have a flat-tax structure. Mr. TenKay's tax load is probably near zero. The other guy is probably paying more than the first guy's whole income.


Debatable whether it works out that way in practice. See, for example, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00097.html .


Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:22 pm
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
Someone making $80k probably does not have a lot of investment income taxed at the capital gains rate, so the percentage disparity you see with the very wealthy would not come into play. It makes a great deal more sense to look at quantities, not percentages.

Even with such percentage disparity, the vast bulk of taxes are paid by the top few percenters.

The system is clumsy and uneven and often unfair, but the ever-decreasing level of accountability is more serious than most imbalances in the taxation levels.

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Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:12 pm
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
And don't forget that federal income taxes are only a minor to nonexistent component of the tax burden of the poorest among us. Just because they pay no federal income taxes doesn't mean they pay no taxes.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:03 am
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
Yes, sales tax in particular is regressive, as are things like the property tax component of vehicle registrations. Both are pitilessly without exception as well.

I'll confess that the specifics of regressive tax badness elude me; it seems that if you live on 10k a year and spend, say, 5k of that on taxable goods, you pay a rate proportional to what someone making and spending ten times as much does - it becomes some larger percentage of your income, but entirely proportional. The arguments painting such a tax unfair seem to boil down to it being unfair that those who make more money can more easily afford it - which in turn seems to be a rather namby-pamby socialist viewpoint taken by those who think it's unfair that anyone, anywhere has more than some arbitrarily defined level. (Usually that of the speaker, oddly enough.)

I have lived at a number of economic levels in my life, including more than one stop at the uninsured, fearing the knock at the door, how the hell am I going to feed my family this week station. At no point did I ever acquire a sense of resentment that there were those who were better off than me. (Nor any sense that being broke was a moral failing.) I don't have much sympathy for arguments that pivot on either sentiment.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:00 am
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
It doesn't take resentment to note that the disparity between the rich and the poor is at record levels, and to realize that at some point that pendulum is going to swing back the other way. Whatever people want to call that process, it's just reversion to the mean in action.


Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:19 pm
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
PeterScott wrote:
It doesn't take resentment to note that the disparity between the rich and the poor is at record levels...

Post-WWII, perhaps. While that represents the lifetime of most of us, it's still a relatively short time in macroeconomic terms. The notion of economic equality has been championed at various times in modern history, but the idea of its being an inherent right is a *very* recent concept, possibly not fully flowered until the 1960s.

Economics is Malthusian and pitiless and contains no inherent rights.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:50 pm
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
A CRITICISM of Scalzi's Criticism of Rand.


Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:47 am
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
Hmm, to critique the criticism, "End the culture war by restoring classical values" sounds a lot like "End the war in <region of the world> by wiping out all the inhabitants of <country>." Wars usually end with some sort of diplomacy.


Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:23 pm
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
Well, Jim, I work for Da Man. While taxes are not identical across the board, by bracket the worst is about 35% or so. I don't work high-dollar accounts so I can't be exact.

But just as the very poor get their goodies back as Earned Income Credits, the wealthy get theirs back as Net Operating Losses -- and NOLs bracket more years, and take effect in greater spans, so the goodies come back in a loss year via taxes paid in a fatter time.

Never mind. The intricacies of taxation are not of interest to those in the middle.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:15 pm
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Post Re: John Scalzi critiques Atlas Shrugged
One of these days I would *love* to see someone knowledgeable go through the entire US Federal Income Tax Code and pick out the provisions that are so arcane and convoluted, they were obviously put there to benefit one single very influential taxpayer. I understand there are many of them. Then the fun game will be to identify the taxpayer.

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