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© December 2008 Anthony Lawrence

When did taxes become a dirty word?

I'm sorry, I have to rant again. It was this www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2008/12/02_cortex.shtml (link dead, sorry) EEGs show brain differences between poor and rich kids that reminded me of how ticked off I get when I hear people carping about taxes, redistribution of wealth, welfare queens and so on.

My State of Massachusetts recently cut back mental health programs. There's not enough money coming in, something had to go, they chose that. Similar cuts to social programs are being made all across the country.

Listen up, all of you who complain about your hard-earned money going to social programs, all of you who were so enthusiastic about McCain's "Let's not raise anyone's taxes" pitch:

Is this the world you want? Crumbling bridges and roads, inferior schools, mentally unstable people wandering the streets? The article I referenced above suggests that poverty damages brains:

"This is a wake-up call," Knight said. "It's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status: fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums."

So this is the world you want? Because you are so worried about "welfare queens" and other undeserving people getting your precious money, you want to create a world filled with sub-par people who never will achieve much, who are all the more likely to become criminals, drug abusers, prostitutes and so on?

This is the world you want to live in? You want to lock yourself away in your gated communities and only drive through the squalor and filth when you venture out for your pampered vacations?

I'm disgusted. Your selfishness is creating a dirty, ugly world of the haves and the have-nots, with the gap widening every day.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE WASTE AND ABUSE! I feel like screaming that every time someone complains about welfare cheats and uses that as their justification for denying money to social programs. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CHEATERS. Audit, find them, and punish them appropriately, but don't use that as your excuse for denying help to people who really need it.

Keep being selfish, keep denying social programs the funds they need, and our world will just get more crime filled, more violent, more crushingly depressing and horrible.

We need to raise taxes, especially on people who are doing well. I don't know where to set the bar: three times the poverty level, five times? I don't know, but somewhere up there people have to start kicking back more. Yeah, maybe it means that you don't get to go to Aruba every year. Oh, poor you: that's such a hardship, isn't it?

Wake up: our world is crumbling around us. It's time to act.

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-> What's so horrible about redistribution of wealth?


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Sat Dec 6 18:23:40 2008: 4868   Ben

I think we have to be careful here. This issue is so complex that any one way to address it falls short. I sincerely do not believe that our -or any- government works as a charity. The Bill Gates foundation? The red cross? The salvation army? Habitat for humanity? Excellent examples of real charity at work. Accountability, low administration costs, maximum benefit to those who really need it. Even local government programs (non federal) have more accountability and lower administration costs. The problem becomes when you get politicians who want to be re-elected in the business of deciding how charitable dollars should be spent. I really believe that the government should seek to encourage private solutions to -most- social problems. People cop out and depend on the federal government to take care others rather doing it themselves and I think a big disconnect happens. The question we have to ask is at what point is it redistribution of wealth -vs- stealing? The wealthiest in this country are already the biggest philanthropists. We have examples of many corporations giving parts of their own profits to charities as well. Charity at the end of a gun point or the threat of prison is not charity though. I believe in the libertarian approach in where we see problems and we are the ones that stand up and do something about it by giving of our time and money. (I do practice this myself, it's not just theory)
Now all that said, before we start adding to our social programs we have to at least raise taxes to pay for the ones we have. perotcharts.com/issues/ Is a great slide show which shows why we have to raise taxes NOW and cut spending if we are going to keep from going bankrupt. Sorry for such a long post; I just cannot believe that throwing more government at the problem with solve it (not suggesting that is what you said, but many left-leaning people think that somehow our government is going to be this paragon of virtue and it wont ever happen.) I hope none of this was offensive to anyone. -Ben

Sat Dec 6 18:30:10 2008: 4869   TonyLawrence

As I said, there will always be abuse and of course that includes abuse by politicians. That happens. It's far less important than helping needy people is.

Look around. Do you like what you see? This is what years of greed and stinginess has brought us.

I ask again: is this the world you want to live in? Is this the world you want your children to grow up in?

Sat Dec 6 18:37:04 2008: 4870   anonymous

You're right. It is not the world I want for my children but I think our solutions are different. I appreciate your post though, It is good for such dialog to be said because hopefully it will inspire us to go out and do something about it. We hopefully can willingly be able to sacrifice more with that in mind.

Sat Dec 6 18:46:07 2008: 4871   anonymous

Wrong, wrong, wrong! There's nothing written in the constitution that says I have to support those who don't feel like working, are too f**ked up from drugs to be of any value to society or have made stupid choices. You liberal twits make me want to vomit. Grow up, for crissakes, and quit expecting everyone to finance your socialistic BS.

Sat Dec 6 18:54:43 2008: 4872   TonyLawrence

Exactly the greedy, self-centered attitude that has created the disgusting cesspool we live in today.


Sun Dec 7 04:47:27 2008: 4877   Ben

Tony I have been thinking about your post a lot today and I just can't get on board with the idea of bigger government. I agree completely that to solve this problem we will have to sacrifice on a personal level, but legislating it just seems wrong to me. Charity at gunpoint is what it feels like. I have very little control other than voting for a new bureaucrat to mess it up I think. With a private charity I can at least see that my time and resources go to a cause or an organization I believe in. Then the question is how do you make people want to contribute? I don't have many answers, but I don't want to take away the liberty of anyone. This is not really a solution to a problem, but I saw a video from the TED conference really that really opened my eyes to a few new perspectives. The differences between Liberals and Conservatives (link) Hope you enjoy it as much as I did (if you haven't seen it already)

Sun Dec 7 13:29:05 2008: 4878   TonyLawrence

I hadn't seen that, thanks. I had been to TED several times before and I just joined now.

My feeling has always been that conservatives are fearful and that sometimes they are right to be so. That's not far from his opinions and suggestions, though I do disagree on some points.

I don't think all of us fit into the team building psyche at all. I think liberals are much more likely to be strongly individualistic and deeply suspicious of teams. It may be common for that to be hardwired, but I don't think it's as common in liberals as the Reciprocity and Fairness.

I also don't think the Authoritarian is as common either. Again, I think many liberals lack that authoritarian wiring entirely.

Finally, I think the "Virtuous" argument is silly and overdrawn. I think that's a trait that is fairly uncommon in liberals (I think it flows from fearfulness, actually).

Next, there is a strong correlation between conservatism and low intelligence. Not that all conservatives are dumb, but that low intelligence quite naturally leans toward fearfulness. The same correlation exists for religious belief. This can explain the sometimes disdainful disrespect liberals sometimes exhibit toward conservatism (and religion)

(On the other hand, some liberals are really clueless - which can explain the disrespect sometimes exhibited by Conservatives.)

The "money game" research into cooperation has been reported better in other places and is definitely worth knowing about. I think that it proves my point: you need force to get good results. Charity won't cut it. Yes, it is "pointing a gun" - that's what works, especially in an age where religious belief is fading. If some god tells you to be good to other people, you may be charitable, but it's very obvious that most of us scoff or at least aren't listening. We need the real gun, not the fake one.

Sun Dec 7 15:15:47 2008: 4879   TonyLawrence

One thing I do NOT like about TED is that it's all video. Such a consumer of precious time: give me text; I can read that so much faster.

Sun Sep 13 15:53:49 2009: 6889   jtimberman

'"Pointing a gun" is what works' - So that's what you support? Forced government charity, through legislation and regulation? That's fascism and oppression. It creates a totalitarian police state in the name of the "greater good".

Charity is where social and public benefit should come from. Not the government. The government should exist as a service of the people to enact laws that protect people's rights, not provide services that people aren't willing to provide for themselves.

I hate the abuse of the system in any way, and the abuse needs to be stopped; audited and made more efficient. But that said, my first choice in government spending cuts is in military spending, not social programs. That includes DHS, War on Terror, Iraq, and general DoD spending across the board. After that, the BS economic "stimulus" and corporate bailouts. Then we can start looking at making the government social programs more efficient, or eliminating the ones that simply do not work.

Sun Sep 13 16:02:36 2009: 6890   TonyLawrence

Charity can't build roads or pay for firemen, police and everything else we need.

If it takes a gun to force you to pay, yes, that's what I support.

Sun Sep 13 16:15:02 2009: 6891   TonyLawrence

This easy willingness to shift mental health and proper nutrition into "charity" really disturbs me.

Sun Sep 13 16:15:17 2009: 6892   jtimberman

The Federal Government shouldn't be spending on localised emergency services like police and fire. State and local tax revenues should cover those, and they should be a priority for spending over many other "social" programs.

The Federal Government shouldn't be spending on localised travel infrastructure except in the case where it crosses state lines like interstate highways, railroads, and where applicable for air and water travel.

But like I said, military, war on terror, DHS, DoD, Iraq, etc spending is what needs to be cut the most. Anything else is a distraction, and politicians are very good at distracting everyone.

Sun Sep 13 16:39:04 2009: 6893   TonyLawrence

Who said anything about Federal taxes?????

Sun Sep 13 17:12:48 2009: 6894   jtimberman

Federal Taxes are generally implied.

But on the topic of people being forced to pay taxes for things like the Police "at gunpoint", how is that any different than Mafia thugs threatening people for payment?

How is that any less sickening than what you're complaining about?

Sun Sep 13 17:14:11 2009: 6895   TonyLawrence

So we let the world crumble because people are too dumb to pay willingly and you don't like forcing them?

Sun Sep 13 17:36:53 2009: 6896   TonyLawrence

Obviously we already force people to pay taxes. Only a very few of us would willingly fork over anything if we didn't have to.

So this whole "gun to my head" stuff is nonsense: there already is a "gun". The problem is that people at the local level have more control and often vote down taxes they really need. You can argue that they sometimes do so because other taxes are too high, but that doesn't change the need.

Sun Sep 13 18:10:38 2009: 6897   jtimberman

You're so eager to punish those who are doing well. Yet the super wealthy are also some of the biggest charitable givers in this country already. Most of the tax revenues seen by both Federal and local governments are paid by the top income earners, both corporations and individuals.

So no, I don't think those who are already paying the most in taxes and doing the most charitable giving need to do more. When people are forced to pay more taxes, or forced to be charitable, and forced into service, it doesn't solve society's problems, it creates new problems. Because forcing people isn't charity and it isn't volunteering, it's oppression. It's totalitarian. It is not freedom.

Yes, people "should" be more giving. Yes, people "should" serve more. But you cannot force them, either through taxes, legislation or police action because that undermines the very things this country was founded on: Liberty and Freedom.

Sun Sep 13 18:19:48 2009: 6898   TonyLawrence

Again: you are being forced now.

Sun Sep 13 18:24:18 2009: 6899   TonyLawrence

Oh, and I *love* the old "punish" argument.

Paying taxes isn't punishment.

You also consistently evade why we NEED the taxes. Social programs aren't charity. Roads aren't charity. Police and fire isn't charity.

By the way, why are you so willing to defend the super-rich? They don't give a damn about you. Is it because you hope to join them? Is THAT why you are so worried about taxes that would never touch you?

Sun Sep 13 18:53:17 2009: 6900   TonyLawrence

Another thing is the idea that the super rich deserve to keep their money because they "worked hard for it".

The reality is that almost all extreme wealth, inherited or otherwise, came from exploiting and abusing people and resources. From the robber barons of the past to Bill Gates today, that's simple fact.

Yeah, they "worked hard". Worked hard at greedily grabbing whatever they could without a single thought for anyone else. And then you want to applaud them for giving back a tiny amount of that wealth?

Mon Sep 14 00:31:40 2009: 6901   jtimberman

You also consistently evade why we NEED the taxes.

Because I don't think that we *need* the taxes as you so vehemently insist.

I think that the reduction in a lot of unnecessary spending eschews the need to raise taxes. At the Federal level, that starts with reduction in military/DoD/DHS spending. At the local level, that is going to vary greatly, and I don't know anything about MA, so your state is going to be different than my state.

As for taxes that "would never touch [me]," how do you know that? Once gov't sets the precedent, what's to stop them? Oh, the votes of the people. Perhaps people have had enough of the taxes, and thats why they're voting against more taxes (and more spending)? Perhaps the world is not crumbling like you think.

As for the rich exploiting people and resources, yes that happens. Yes, it is unfortunate. Yes, they should be penalised in fines and maybe even jail time. But I find it hard to believe that every person who is rich got there because they exploited others. I'm just not that pessimistic.

So how much did you give, above your tax rate? How much time did you volunteer helping in these areas that have so much "NEED" as you put it? Or are you just bitching about it on the Internet, and arguing with idiots about it?

Mon Sep 14 01:01:52 2009: 6902   TonyLawrence

I don't know. I don't go looking for deductions, so I probably do pay more than I need to.

But that's not the point. I agree military spending is disgusting. We disagree on the rest.


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