The Price of Greed

The Price of Greed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his book A Failure of Capitalism, Richard Posner denies that greed played a part in causing the Great Recession. I disagree. First let’s define greed as milking the system for excessive and undeserved income, as Mitt did with his 401K north of $100 million. In my opinion, no one is worth or deserves $100s millions or billions in income or net worth. It is true that $1 million doesn’t go as far as it used to, but $1 billion certainly does. Nations that don’t mimic our income inequality do not have the social problems that we do. We won’t solve all our problems with greater income equality, but we will lessen their severity as nations in Scandinavia prove.

The greatest danger of vast differences in income equality lies in the threat to our democratic institutions. Some people with vast wealth will use that wealth to buy favors from government that will increase their wealth at the expense of the rest of us. Louis Brandeis was better able to explain the pernicious effect of income inequality better than I can. He said that we could have democracy or vast concentrations of wealth, but not both at the same time. Please see Freedom and Supreme Court

The difference

Aerial photo: Santa Barbara, California

Aerial photo: Santa Barbara, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inspired by a return to Santa Barbara today, where the wealthy retired visit their parents.
The difference between the wealthy (1%) and the rest of us (99%) is the wealthy live longer because they can afford the best in health care, and the wealthy are surrounded by beauty because they can afford to live in beautiful areas and surround themselves with beautiful art and objects.

How much is enough?

How much money is enough? One million, 50 million, 1 billion? How much money is enough to afford everything you dreamed of for the rest of your life? Do you need 7 homes, a private jet, a yacht and enough money to buy a Congressman or two? How much money is enough when much of humanity lives on a few dollars a day?

How much education is enough when most new jobs are service jobs that may require only an 8th grade education? Teachers, stock brokers, lobbyists, engineers and CEOs may require an advanced degree, but how much education should a citizen receive? Does a citizen require a high school diploma or a college degree to be an informed voter? The GOP are making a college degree more difficult to obtain as well as making it harder to vote. The media are failing to inform us on the important issues of the day. How much education do the majority need to be good and informed citizens in a democracy?

Morality of taxes

Death & Taxes (film)

Death & Taxes (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are taxes moral? I was reading a blog post today that argued that taking someone else’s property is theft and therefore immoral. If you earn it, it is yours to keep. Other arguments against taxes include that the accumulation of wealth denotes God‘s approval. Taxing that wealth away is going against God’s wishes. Personally, I have considered all forms of taxation, and I believe that the graduated income tax is the fairest of them all.

If you believe in democracy, rather than plutocracy, the rule of money, you will support the graduated income tax at higher percentages than today’s rate to slow the accumulation of great wealth. In addition, you will join me in supporting the death tax, the estate tax, to prevent great wealth from being passed intact from one generation to another. We can argue the morality of taxes ad infinitum, but the reality is that our democracy requires a level playing field where talent, not inherited riches, determines outcomes. This position was enunciated by one of our greatest members of the US Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis, who sat on the Court from 1916 to 1939.

Please see Means and ends

Taxed enough already


Taxes (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

I am thoroughly tired of misleading statistics that purport to show that the wealthy pay more than their fair share. Baloney. The fair way to show the true burden of taxes is to add all the taxes and fees that a family incurs and divide that by gross family, or individual, income for the unmarried. The wealthy claim that they pay most of the nation’s Federal income tax. Maybe that is true, but the lower income earners among us pay taxes too. The payroll tax and sales tax and licenses and fees can add up to a hefty amount. And let us not forget local property taxes which all of us pay even if we do not own property because it is included in our rent. Total all those taxes and divide by family income. I do not have access to a chart or graph to support my numbers, but I am willing to bet, not the Romney $10,000 small bet,  but a small bet that the burden on the poor is a similar or higher percentage than on the wealthy, with their tax breaks, pay.