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6 minutes ago, FairWarning said:

If it’s a legal loophole, so what?  

See my response above.  Whether it's legal or not shouldn't matter from a "moral" standpoint.  Someone with that amount of wealth doing what they can to avoid paying their share because of exploiting a tax code, especially if it wasn't meant in a certain way, doesn't make it right.

Personally, I have more of a problem with that, especially given the amounts, than someone at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder not paying taxes when they are barely getting by.  And I'm not giving a pass to that person that doesn't pay.  This was in response to the idea that "at least the billionaire is likely a taxpayer".  That doesn't make it better, IMO.  I find it worse given their means.

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All of this. And, if I'm going to get upset, it's going to be over the few at the very top that game the system with much more significant effects that cost us so much more than millions at the b

Haven’t you heard that if we tax the extremely wealthy at a much higher rate that people will stop trying to get rich?  I think we are just stuck with 400 people having more than 150M - nothing can be

I just want to add that, so far, this has been one of the better threads here in the PSF. I've already learned a good bit from some of you, appreciating the other perspective, and from the vast majori

19 minutes ago, FairWarning said:

If it’s a legal loophole, so what?  

:goodposting: Exactly. 
 

It’s funny to watch the Left talk about “moral” obligation in a chat room begin their alias when you know they aren’t paying a penny more in taxes than their CPA tells them to. Very weak schtick. 

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Top 0.1% has same wealth as bottom 90% combined

Since then, there has been no recovery in the wealth of the middle class and the poor, the authors say. The average wealth of the bottom 90% of families is equal to $80,000 in 2012— the same level as in 1986. In contrast, the average wealth for the top 1% more than tripled between 1980 and 2012.

That simply isn't sustainable.

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There's a pile of dirt, we'll say a couple metric tons of dirt.  And it needs to be moved to the other side of a field.

One guy is sitting in his bulldozer.  He moves a single load, moved maybe a significant portion of the dirt in a few minutes with little effort, but then decides to stop.

There's 10 guys with shovels and wheelbarrows looking at this pile knowing they will make very little difference, plus it's 100 degrees outside.  They decide it's just not worth it and sit down.  It would take them hours to accomplish what the guy sitting in the bulldozer got done in 5 minutes.

Some of us are bothered by the guys with shovels and wheelbarrows sitting there doing nothing.

Some of us are bothered by the guy with the bulldozer that could get it done with little effort in a few more minutes with or without the 10 guys with shovels.

Neither is right.  I'd rather the guys with shovels at least try and give their share.  But, if I had to pick which bothers me more, it's the guy with much more means not doing more just because he technically doesn't have to.  He already did something which should be enough.  And if I'm looking at who has more impact, I think the answer is clear.  I don't think better of him just because he moved one bulldozer load already.

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I'm about to step away for a while so I won't be able to respond to anyone right away but I'm wondering if the following analysis seems at all accurate to anyone.

I think part of the issue involves the question of how broadly to look at a person's conduct and background, and in particular, the distinctions between contributing to "the government" versus contributing to society at large.  This might seem confusing because I haven't completely fleshed out my thinking about it, let me try to make at least some attempt to clarify.

It seems like a lot of people are segregating "the government" from the larger societal context.  We need to have a government.  That government is primarily funded through tax dollars.  Paying taxes is therefore the way that one "contributes."  Rich people are naturally making large contributions and poor people are not.  In fact, many people pay less in taxes than they receive in services, so they're worse than "not contributing", they are actually a drain on government.  The rich guys are the heroes, the poor people should all feel indebted to the rich for helping to subsidize their lives.  And if poor folks aren't sufficiently appreciative of the largess of rich people, they should be demonized as ungrateful selfish jerks.  This is a sensible way to consider things if we solely look at the government as a separate institution.

But in my view that analysis is far too cramped.  We shouldn't be looking at the government in isolation, we should be looking more holistically at how people are using their time and resources in general.  As a hypothetical example, I can imagine someone that got rich by starting business that (either legally or illegally) emitted toxic chemicals into the air and water.  That guy would be a net-positive contributor to our government.  He's rich, so the taxes he pays probably exceed the specific services he receives from the government.  But at the same time he might be a net-negative contributor to society at large.  His company diminished the health of thousands of people, who are forced to deal with the consequences.  By contrast, I can think of lots of hypothetical examples where someone is a net-negative contributor to the government but a net-positive contributor to society.  For example someone that has a very low income but is a great parent and friend and does lots of volunteer work and also stars in his local community theater production.  It seems to me that it's easier for some people to contribute to society by paying a lot of money to the government while it's easier for other people to contribute to society in other ways.  Determining how much a person is contributing based solely on their taxes paid actually distorts that natural comparative advantage.

I have a lot more I could say but I'm not trying to write a dissertation.  Obviously we're not always going to agree about what constitutes a net-positive contribution to society.  Rich business owners like to paint themselves as net-positive contributors by calling themselves "job creators."  But if those jobs are low wage and crappy, and your business but a bunch of Mom & Pop shops out of business, maybe that's a net-negative.  I'd also challenge some of the ways that we calculate the benefits that various people receive from the governement.  The poor guy getting food stamps always gets counted.  The many ways in which the rich and powerful maintain their positions in society through government action are often not counted. 

In any case, I'm kinda rambling now.  My primary point is just that these are very complicated questions and that I'm suspicious of anyone that tries to narrow it down to "contributing = paying more in taxes than you receive in services."

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28 minutes ago, GoBirds said:
49 minutes ago, FairWarning said:

If it’s a legal loophole, so what?  

:goodposting: Exactly. 
 

It’s funny to watch the Left talk about “moral” obligation in a chat room begin their alias when you know they aren’t paying a penny more in taxes than their CPA tells them to. Very weak schtick. 

Poor people who keep their income below a certain level in order to maximize their benefits are also using a legal loophole, right?

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48 minutes ago, gianmarco said:

See my response above.  Whether it's legal or not shouldn't matter from a "moral" standpoint.  Someone with that amount of wealth doing what they can to avoid paying their share because of exploiting a tax code, especially if it wasn't meant in a certain way, doesn't make it right.

Personally, I have more of a problem with that, especially given the amounts, than someone at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder not paying taxes when they are barely getting by.  And I'm not giving a pass to that person that doesn't pay.  This was in response to the idea that "at least the billionaire is likely a taxpayer".  That doesn't make it better, IMO.  I find it worse given their means.

Then you need to redo the tax code.  I have no problems with that.  

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1 minute ago, FairWarning said:

Then you need to redo the tax code.  I have no problems with that.  

Agreed.

But I also don't need a tax code to help me decide what's "right" and "wrong".

I don't find someone that "at least paid some taxes" a better person or less worthy of criticism compared to someone with little means that paid no taxes just because they followed a flawed tax code that may have left open an unintended loop hole to skirt their responsibility. 

And the bottom line is that the tax code is essentially always going to somewhat benefit the wealthy because it's written by the wealthy or by those elected through wealth/lobbying.  I wish it was as simple as just doing the right thing but we know that's not the case.

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1 minute ago, gianmarco said:

Agreed.

But I also don't need a tax code to help me decide what's "right" and "wrong".

I don't find someone that "at least paid some taxes" a better person or less worthy of criticism compared to someone with little means that paid no taxes just because they followed a flawed tax code that may have left open an unintended loop hole to skirt their responsibility. 

And the bottom line is that the tax code is essentially always going to somewhat benefit the wealthy because it's written by the wealthy or by those elected through wealth/lobbying.  I wish it was as simple as just doing the right thing but we know that's not the case.

I would bet every single person in congress has taken advantage of a flawed tax code.  How about day traders?  Bitcoin speculators?  Elon Musk?  This is what accountants do. 

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Just now, FairWarning said:

I would bet every single person in congress has taken advantage of a flawed tax code.  How about day traders?  Bitcoin speculators?  Elon Musk?  This is what accountants do. 

100% agree.

And I think THAT's where we need to go after reforms.  Not the millions of people sitting on their couch not paying taxes that are just getting by.  Because the former far outweighs the latter, IMO.  Even though the latter bothers a lot of people because "I work and pay taxes so they should to".  And while I'm not giving the latter a pass, I find the former more bothersome and more influential on where we are and where we could be.

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33 minutes ago, dawgtrails said:

Poor people who keep their income below a certain level in order to maximize their benefits are also using a legal loophole, right?

Are they breaking a law?

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2 minutes ago, GoBirds said:
35 minutes ago, dawgtrails said:

Poor people who keep their income below a certain level in order to maximize their benefits are also using a legal loophole, right?

Are they breaking a law?

Why do you answer my question with a question? 

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2 minutes ago, GoBirds said:
4 minutes ago, dawgtrails said:

Why do you answer my question with a question? 

It not complicated, unless my simple question ruins your schtick?

No shtick here. You responded that billionaires using legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes is just fine. I am wondering if you think that poor people using legal loopholes to keep/maintain government assistance is just fine too

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1 hour ago, gianmarco said:

Without knowing specifics, assuming Trump truly paid $750 in taxes somewhat recently.  Assuming he accomplished that in a manner that may or may be available to taxpayers.  Even if it may end up being considered legal, we'll just say it's not what was intended.

Let's use that kind of idea of a loophole.  In other words, drastically underpaying what would otherwise be expected, legal or not. 

I think we can agree that those kinds of "loopholes" shouldn't exist and need to be eliminated, but we all know that it will never happen and those with means can have their lawyers/accountants find ways to skirt their responsibilities.

In other words, kind of like pr0n.  You know it when you see it kind of loophole that allows someone like Trump to pay $750 in a given year.

This is a carried loss.  Same thing used by small business, by individual investors on capital losses, etc.  It isn't a loophole.  It's a feature in the tax code that's been there for decades and decades.

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8 minutes ago, dawgtrails said:

No shtick here. You responded that billionaires using legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes is just fine. I am wondering if you think that poor people using legal loopholes to keep/maintain government assistance is just fine too

Personally I don’t think the latter is fine, and most that are poor do not want to remain poor,it’s a different mindset.  Tell those people in congress you want the $2500/plate for their re-election bids to be no deductible and see how many agree with you.  Life isn’t fair, especially with people who have FU money.  

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26 minutes ago, gianmarco said:

100% agree.

And I think THAT's where we need to go after reforms.  Not the millions of people sitting on their couch not paying taxes that are just getting by.  Because the former far outweighs the latter, IMO.  Even though the latter bothers a lot of people because "I work and pay taxes so they should to".  And while I'm not giving the latter a pass, I find the former more bothersome and more influential on where we are and where we could be.

They may go after a lot of these billionaires until it affects their campaign funding.  It’s always Follow the Money.

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9 minutes ago, Sand said:

This is a carried loss.  Same thing used by small business, by individual investors on capital losses, etc.  It isn't a loophole.  It's a feature in the tax code that's been there for decades and decades.

:goodposting:

 

Exactly and has been covered in here numerous times, weird it’s still a talking point.

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1 hour ago, GoBirds said:

:goodposting: Exactly. 
 

It’s funny to watch the Left talk about “moral” obligation in a chat room begin their alias when you know they aren’t paying a penny more in taxes than their CPA tells them to. Very weak schtick. 

You mean like our POTUS and the .3% (or whatever it is) of his salary he donates to charity year to year? (sorry, I was triggered by the "moral obligation" part of your sentence.)

 

1 hour ago, gianmarco said:

Top 0.1% has same wealth as bottom 90% combined

Since then, there has been no recovery in the wealth of the middle class and the poor, the authors say. The average wealth of the bottom 90% of families is equal to $80,000 in 2012— the same level as in 1986. In contrast, the average wealth for the top 1% more than tripled between 1980 and 2012.

That simply isn't sustainable.

When you flood the system with incredibly cheap money by weakening the dollar and drive the 10year to .7% you inflate assets and allow very cheap leverage.  This is known, has been known, yet under the last 2 blue administrations we've had ZIRP for as far as the eye can see.  Say one thing, do the exact opposite.  Politics!

This wasn't really adequately explained in the wiki, BTW.  It was very squishy on the causes, which is unfortunate.  The ZH article I posted had much more detailed info there.  

Edited by Sand
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Has anyone mentioned that Finland tired the whole UBI thing and it was a massive failure?  Almost every person on the UBI test program did not go seek out a job and remained unemployed for the entirety of the test (ended in 2019, I believe).

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47169549

Universal Basic Welfare is a non-starter.  Turns out that giving people "free" money also gives people LESS motivation, not more.

And I also believe that on top of UBI we would still need the current welfare programs because a lot of people would have their free welfare money spent the day after they got it.  So not only are we paying for UBI, we're also paying for the same welfare programs we're paying for now.  With UBI, we're simply adding to the existing programs we already have, not taking anything away.

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1 hour ago, dawgtrails said:

No shtick here. You responded that billionaires using legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes is just fine. I am wondering if you think that poor people using legal loopholes to keep/maintain government assistance is just fine too

I think this is easy.

Do I want billionaires to have loopholes where on average they pay no or little taxes.  No.  Who's job to fix:  elected officials

Do I want poor people to have loopholes where they can unnecessarily receive government assistance and not have to work.  No.  Who's job to fix:  elected officials

Do I think billionaires paying taxes per the tax code is fine.  Yes

Do I think poor people receiving government assistance per the parameters of the programs is fine .  Yes

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4 minutes ago, djmich said:

I think this is easy.

Do I want billionaires to have loopholes where on average they pay no or little taxes.  No.  Who's job to fix:  elected officials

Do I want poor people to have loopholes where they can unnecessarily receive government assistance and not have to work.  No.  Who's job to fix:  elected officials

Do I think billionaires paying taxes per the tax code is fine.  Yes

Do I think poor people receiving government assistance per the parameters of the programs is fine .  Yes

I agree

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1 hour ago, gianmarco said:

Agreed.

But I also don't need a tax code to help me decide what's "right" and "wrong".

I don't find someone that "at least paid some taxes" a better person or less worthy of criticism compared to someone with little means that paid no taxes just because they followed a flawed tax code that may have left open an unintended loop hole to skirt their responsibility. 

And the bottom line is that the tax code is essentially always going to somewhat benefit the wealthy because it's written by the wealthy or by those elected through wealth/lobbying.  I wish it was as simple as just doing the right thing but we know that's not the case.

How much extra in taxes do you pay a year, just because?  You can respond in percentage of income.

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On 2/21/2021 at 6:03 AM, The Commish said:
On 2/20/2021 at 8:55 PM, Bucsfan5493 said:

Bumping this up as I had a great conversation with a friend today about wealth inequality. This is one of the biggest core issues the country is facing and the downstream effects it has is absolutely devastating. 

It’s also an issue that neither party seems interested in fixing and it’s continuing to get worse and worse. Why are people not outraged by this and demanding better from both parties?

15% of the country is going hungry right now while we have people with so much money that they don’t even know how to spend it all and continue to build even more wealth as half of it sits in the stock market. I just don’t understand how that doesn’t make every American outraged. 

Expand  

Because of "sides"...plain and simple.  Too many caught up in the third grade version of politics in this country....just as the politicians like it.

This times a million.

And It's playing out in this thread.  I think both "sides" of this argument are closer than they want to admit, but each is taking the far left or far right "side" of the equation, and neither will capitulate.

Just the way our dark overlords want it.

 

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2 hours ago, gianmarco said:

Without knowing specifics, assuming Trump truly paid $750 in taxes somewhat recently.  Assuming he accomplished that in a manner that may or may be available to taxpayers.  Even if it may end up being considered legal, we'll just say it's not what was intended.

Let's use that kind of idea of a loophole.  In other words, drastically underpaying what would otherwise be expected, legal or not. 

I think we can agree that those kinds of "loopholes" shouldn't exist and need to be eliminated, but we all know that it will never happen and those with means can have their lawyers/accountants find ways to skirt their responsibilities.

In other words, kind of like pr0n.  You know it when you see it kind of loophole that allows someone like Trump to pay $750 in a given year.

Trump hasn't run businesses that successfully make money in a long, long time.

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2 hours ago, gianmarco said:

See my response above.  Whether it's legal or not shouldn't matter from a "moral" standpoint.  Someone with that amount of wealth doing what they can to avoid paying their share because of exploiting a tax code, especially if it wasn't meant in a certain way, doesn't make it right.

With all due respect, you've admitted that you don't understand the "tax loopholes" that Trump (as an example) has used, yet you're decrying his usage of them as being immoral? 

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Just now, Steve Tasker said:

With all due respect, you've admitted that you don't understand the "tax loopholes" that Trump (as an example) has used, yet you're decrying his usage of them as being immoral? 

:goodposting:

 

Best post of the PSF. 

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2 hours ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

I think part of the issue involves the question of how broadly to look at a person's conduct and background, and in particular, the distinctions between contributing to "the government" versus contributing to society at large.  This might seem confusing because I haven't completely fleshed out my thinking about it, let me try to make at least some attempt to clarify.

I just thought of a timely, concrete issue that seems to illustrate this tension pretty well, at least to me.  Back during Clinton-era welfare reform, a lot of social safety net programs required the recipient to be working or at least actively looking for work.  My understanding is that there is a significant debate going on in Congress right now about whether child-subsidy payments in the stimulus bill should be tied to work or if you should get the money just by virtue of having children, even if you're unemployed.  

Work requirements sound good in theory if you're looking it as a "contributing to the government" calculus.  If the government is going to give a mother money for her kids she shouldn't be sitting around doing nothing,.  But in practice these laws sometimes have impacts that are actually detrimental to society.  I think it's a tough argument to make to say that society benefits as a whole if mom has to leave her kid watching TV for hours at a relative's house while she works for minimum wage at a fast food restaurant, rather than staying home and being an active parent.  And yes, I know that some parents will be crappy either way.  But not all of them.  

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51 minutes ago, BladeRunner said:

Has anyone mentioned that Finland tired the whole UBI thing and it was a massive failure?  Almost every person on the UBI test program did not go seek out a job and remained unemployed for the entirety of the test (ended in 2019, I believe).

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47169549

Universal Basic Welfare is a non-starter.  Turns out that giving people "free" money also gives people LESS motivation, not more.

And I also believe that on top of UBI we would still need the current welfare programs because a lot of people would have their free welfare money spent the day after they got it.  So not only are we paying for UBI, we're also paying for the same welfare programs we're paying for now.  With UBI, we're simply adding to the existing programs we already have, not taking anything away.

My favorite part of the article:

"While employment levels did not improve, participants said they felt happier and less stressed."

😆🤣  I too find it less stressful - and find myself happier - when money shows up in my pocket while I sit on the couch eating donuts and ice cream.  

That said, I've seen other studies with different goals and expectations from UBI....that were declared successful.   Finland was nuts to think this would get people off the sofa and out looking for a job.

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16 minutes ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

Work requirements sound good in theory if you're looking it as a "contributing to the government" calculus.  If the government is going to give a mother money for her kids she shouldn't be sitting around doing nothing,.  But in practice these laws sometimes have impacts that are actually detrimental to society.  I think it's a tough argument to make to say that society benefits as a whole if mom has to leave her kid watching TV for hours at a relative's house while she works for minimum wage at a fast food restaurant, rather than staying home and being an active parent.  And yes, I know that some parents will be crappy either way.  But not all of them.  

I agree with the general point here.  In particular, if we're going to have some sort of an income-maintenance program (and we should), I'd strongly prefer that it be both as transparent as possible and as minimally-intrusive as possible.  Something like a UBI checks both these boxes.  Cutting people a check is definitely a lot more transparent than the patchwork of various programs that we have now.  And if a person self-identifies the best use of their time as "staying home to raise my kids" who am I to tell them otherwise?  

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5 minutes ago, Alex P Keaton said:

My favorite part of the article:

"While employment levels did not improve, participants said they felt happier and less stressed."

😆🤣  I too find it less stressful - and find myself happier - when money shows up in my pocket while I sit on the couch eating donuts and ice cream.  

That said, I've seen other studies with different goals and expectations from UBI....that were declared successful.   Finland was nuts to think this would get people off the sofa and out looking for a job.

 

Isn't part of the problem with the Finland study that only 2000 people were getting the UBI?  It seems like economists should have been aware that people wouldn't run out to get jobs in that scenario.

Imagine I'm some employer that is offering an undesirable job, like cleaning toilets or something.  In a non-UBI world, I can offer a low wage for that job because people are desperate to do any kind of job so they can pay their rent, etc.  But in a post-UBI world, I may very well have to offer a more significant wage to attract labor.  If everyone is already able to meet their basic needs, the employer is going to have to make a real effort to attract an unemployed person to clean his toilet.  He will be forced to make the job better through higher wages, better working conditions, etc.  Because otherwise the unemployed person might decide he'd rather just live a subsistence lifestyle that doesn't involve cleaning toilets than a slightly more well-off life that consists of lots of toilet cleaning.

In the Finland study, you had post-UBI laborers living in a pre-UBI world.  The employers were still offering the same wages they always did.  It seems to me like it was totally foreseeable that the participants in the study wouldn't be particularly interested in working those jobs.  An actual UBI would restructure the entire economy in all sorts of ways.   This study just left the pre-existing economy intact for everyone except 2000 people.

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21 minutes ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

 

Isn't part of the problem with the Finland study that only 2000 people were getting the UBI?  It seems like economists should have been aware that people wouldn't run out to get jobs in that scenario.

Imagine I'm some employer that is offering an undesirable job, like cleaning toilets or something.  In a non-UBI world, I can offer a low wage for that job because people are desperate to do any kind of job so they can pay their rent, etc.  But in a post-UBI world, I may very well have to offer a more significant wage to attract labor.  If everyone is already able to meet their basic needs, the employer is going to have to make a real effort to attract an unemployed person to clean his toilet.  He will be forced to make the job better through higher wages, better working conditions, etc.  Because otherwise the unemployed person might decide he'd rather just live a subsistence lifestyle that doesn't involve cleaning toilets than a slightly more well-off life that consists of lots of toilet cleaning.

In the Finland study, you had post-UBI laborers living in a pre-UBI world.  The employers were still offering the same wages they always did.  It seems to me like it was totally foreseeable that the participants in the study wouldn't be particularly interested in working those jobs.  An actual UBI would restructure the entire economy in all sorts of ways.   This study just left the pre-existing economy intact for everyone except 2000 people.

This happened in the US just last year and will happen again this year with the additional jobless benefits.  People made more by being laid off, and many service jobs went unfilled.  

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7 minutes ago, FairWarning said:

This happened in the US just last year and will happen again this year with the additional jobless benefits.  People made more by being laid off, and many service jobs went unfilled.  

There also was a deadly pandemic which added to people's hesitation to return to a customer facing job

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1 hour ago, Steve Tasker said:

With all due respect, you've admitted that you don't understand the "tax loopholes" that Trump (as an example) has used, yet you're decrying his usage of them as being immoral? 

 

2 hours ago, Sand said:

This is a carried loss.  Same thing used by small business, by individual investors on capital losses, etc.  It isn't a loophole.  It's a feature in the tax code that's been there for decades and decades.

Let me clarify a couple things because I don't think I was explaining what I was trying to say very well

1)  As far as Trump and his taxes, it wasn't the best example of what I was trying to say.  Yes, I understand how his taxes could be so low.  When I was using him as an example, it was based more on something I read back when it was reported that some of the losses he was claiming to justify the amount owed were excessive.  I should have clarified that and I didn't.  And even still, it's not really an example of what I was trying to get at. 

2)  As much as I dislike Trump and what he has done, I wouldn't expect him or anyone else to pay more than they need to based on the tax code.  I think that was also getting misconstrued because I didn't explain it well.  I'm not calling him nor anyone else immoral because they aren't giving more than they have to in taxes. 

The whole thread of my posts was in response to the statement about a billionaire not having to work not being immoral because they are at least paying taxes.  Whereas someone who doesn't have much money would be more immoral for them not to work because they aren't paying taxes.  My point was that just because a billionaire isn't working but is paying taxes shouldn't factor into that idea of more or less moral if that person isn't truly paying their fair share for whatever reasons.

It comes down to how the tax codes are ultimately structured that allows people, and even moreso corporations (which I really should have mentioned more), to find ways to limit their tax burden even if not intended for that purpose. 

I don't think I articulated much of that very well in going back to read some of what I wrote (and even here).

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30 minutes ago, dawgtrails said:

There also was a deadly pandemic which added to people's hesitation to return to a customer facing job

How about now?  Numbers are going down, yet the jobs are are going unfilled.  

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Just now, gianmarco said:

 

Let me clarify a couple things because I don't think I was explaining what I was trying to say very well

1)  As far as Trump and his taxes, it wasn't the best example of what I was trying to say.  Yes, I understand how his taxes could be so low.  When I was using him as an example, it was based more on something I read back when it was reported that some of the losses he was claiming to justify the amount owed were excessive.  I should have clarified that and I didn't.  And even still, it's not really an example of what I was trying to get at. 

2)  As much as I dislike Trump and what he has done, I wouldn't expect him or anyone else to pay more than they need to based on the tax code.  I think that was also getting misconstrued because I didn't explain it well.  I'm not calling him nor anyone else immoral because they aren't giving more than they have to in taxes. 

The whole thread of my posts was in response to the statement about a billionaire not having to work not being immoral because they are at least paying taxes.  Whereas someone who doesn't have much money would be more immoral for them not to work because they aren't paying taxes.  My point was that just because a billionaire isn't working but is paying taxes shouldn't factor into that idea of more or less moral if that person isn't truly paying their fair share for whatever reasons.

It comes down to how the tax codes are ultimately structured that allows people, and even moreso corporations (which I really should have mentioned more), to find ways to limit their tax burden even if not intended for that purpose. 

I don't think I articulated much of that very well in going back to read some of what I wrote (and even here).

The Trump taxes in NY will be must-see TV IMO for a number of reasons.

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I think a big problem (certainly not limited to the tax code) is that a lot of people enjoy having strong opinions on various matters, but don't enjoy putting in the work to acquire the level of knowledge and understanding justifying such.

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18 minutes ago, gianmarco said:

 

Let me clarify a couple things because I don't think I was explaining what I was trying to say very well

1)  As far as Trump and his taxes, it wasn't the best example of what I was trying to say.  Yes, I understand how his taxes could be so low.  When I was using him as an example, it was based more on something I read back when it was reported that some of the losses he was claiming to justify the amount owed were excessive.  I should have clarified that and I didn't.  And even still, it's not really an example of what I was trying to get at. 

2)  As much as I dislike Trump and what he has done, I wouldn't expect him or anyone else to pay more than they need to based on the tax code.  I think that was also getting misconstrued because I didn't explain it well.  I'm not calling him nor anyone else immoral because they aren't giving more than they have to in taxes. 

The whole thread of my posts was in response to the statement about a billionaire not having to work not being immoral because they are at least paying taxes.  Whereas someone who doesn't have much money would be more immoral for them not to work because they aren't paying taxes.  My point was that just because a billionaire isn't working but is paying taxes shouldn't factor into that idea of more or less moral if that person isn't truly paying their fair share for whatever reasons.

It comes down to how the tax codes are ultimately structured that allows people, and even moreso corporations (which I really should have mentioned more), to find ways to limit their tax burden even if not intended for that purpose. 

I don't think I articulated much of that very well in going back to read some of what I wrote (and even here).

This makes more sense to me when you put it this way.  Thank you for clarifying.

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1 hour ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

 

Isn't part of the problem with the Finland study that only 2000 people were getting the UBI?  It seems like economists should have been aware that people wouldn't run out to get jobs in that scenario.

Imagine I'm some employer that is offering an undesirable job, like cleaning toilets or something.  In a non-UBI world, I can offer a low wage for that job because people are desperate to do any kind of job so they can pay their rent, etc.  But in a post-UBI world, I may very well have to offer a more significant wage to attract labor.  If everyone is already able to meet their basic needs, the employer is going to have to make a real effort to attract an unemployed person to clean his toilet.  He will be forced to make the job better through higher wages, better working conditions, etc.  Because otherwise the unemployed person might decide he'd rather just live a subsistence lifestyle that doesn't involve cleaning toilets than a slightly more well-off life that consists of lots of toilet cleaning.

In the Finland study, you had post-UBI laborers living in a pre-UBI world.  The employers were still offering the same wages they always did.  It seems to me like it was totally foreseeable that the participants in the study wouldn't be particularly interested in working those jobs.  An actual UBI would restructure the entire economy in all sorts of ways.   This study just left the pre-existing economy intact for everyone except 2000 people.

100% agree.  It is also very consistent with my own experience traveling throughout parts of Europe with more of a “living wage.”  

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1 hour ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

 

Isn't part of the problem with the Finland study that only 2000 people were getting the UBI?  It seems like economists should have been aware that people wouldn't run out to get jobs in that scenario.

Imagine I'm some employer that is offering an undesirable job, like cleaning toilets or something.  In a non-UBI world, I can offer a low wage for that job because people are desperate to do any kind of job so they can pay their rent, etc.  But in a post-UBI world, I may very well have to offer a more significant wage to attract labor.  If everyone is already able to meet their basic needs, the employer is going to have to make a real effort to attract an unemployed person to clean his toilet.  He will be forced to make the job better through higher wages, better working conditions, etc.  Because otherwise the unemployed person might decide he'd rather just live a subsistence lifestyle that doesn't involve cleaning toilets than a slightly more well-off life that consists of lots of toilet cleaning.

In the Finland study, you had post-UBI laborers living in a pre-UBI world.  The employers were still offering the same wages they always did.  It seems to me like it was totally foreseeable that the participants in the study wouldn't be particularly interested in working those jobs.  An actual UBI would restructure the entire economy in all sorts of ways.   This study just left the pre-existing economy intact for everyone except 2000 people.

I have 20-25% of my old employees sitting at home as they’re collecting more in unemployment....

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Always easy to give away someone else's money.  Whether its taxes or payroll or whatever.   If a loophole exists, it exists.  I sincerely doubt, in fact I'm almost certain, no one is saying  "Hey I know I only owe $500 in taxes but I want to pay $600 just because.

Additionally, I'm less concerned with tax dollars than I am with charity.  I feel those with large amounts of $$ should absolutely be charitable with their money.  And I am very cool with them donating and financially supporting things THEY believe in.  Rather than giving it to a government entity that will almost certainly waste a large portion of it before funding things the person may not believe in.

Finally, it's a slippery slope to me.  Where is the line?  There are plenty of people who would like to make what I make--just as I would love to make $20 million a year.   When does "wealth inequality" end?

 

 

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5 minutes ago, FairWarning said:

The further erosion of the middle class.

That ship has sailed a long time ago.  Can we afford it?

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16 minutes ago, stlrams said:

So I may have missed this but what’s the price tag for UbI at 15k?

This isn't an easy or straightforward question to answer, in part because there is no single UBI proposal.  That is, my "proposed UBI plan" is different than fatguy's proposed UBI plan or IvanK's proposed UBI plan or thousands of others.

That said, I don't have all the numbers, but some quick research shows me:

  • Social Security is estimated to be $1.15T in fiscal year 2021.
  • Other federal welfare programs (not including SS or Medicare) appear to come to $375B, and incude SNAP, TANF, Child Tax Credit, EITC, Housing Assistance, and federal unemployment payments, as well as a few other programs.
  • I believe that unemployment and welfare are mainly state-level programs, which makes them harder to track.  The second link below shows a figure of $2070 per capita spent on "public welfare" for the entire US in 2017, which would work out to $660B for 330M people.
  • That same link also shows a figure of $2619 per capita spent on "all other", some of which might fall under the UBI replacement bucket, but hard to say.

https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_welfare_spending_40.html

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/state-and-local-general-expenditures-capita

Figure the above comes to about $2.2T, give or take.  If we do some very rough assumptions on what UBI might cost:

  • Say $1000 per month per adult, at 255M adults = ~$3T
  • Say $500 per month per child, at 75M children = ~$450B
  • Figure a total of about $3.5T annually
  • $3.5T - $2.2B currently spent on "programs that would be replaced" equals about $1.3T in additional funding needed

There are some other savings hidden in the tax code that would likely go away with most UBI proposals, likely in the hundreds of billions, but these are harder to calculate quickly.

Again, as noted above, there is no single UBI proposal, so those numbers ($1000/month/adult, $500/month/child) are just some that I've seen thrown around in the past.  Obviously, at 330M citizens, changing the numbers can change the total pretty quickly.  For example, my numbers above come to about $3.5T, yet switching from $12K per year per adult to $10K or $15K would change the total to ~$3T or $4.25T, respectively.

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2 hours ago, gianmarco said:

1)  As far as Trump and his taxes, it wasn't the best example of what I was trying to say.  Yes, I understand how his taxes could be so low.  When I was using him as an example, it was based more on something I read back when it was reported that some of the losses he was claiming to justify the amount owed were excessive.  I should have clarified that and I didn't.  And even still, it's not really an example of what I was trying to get at. 

What you're talking about is really the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.  I agree that some of what DJT claimed as deductions seems iffy - we'll see if "evasion" ever comes up with his stuff.  But a lot of his low tax years were due to investment losses (by reports he had a few years of gonzo losses).  Let's not forget that real estate investing can be structured such that the depreciation and expenses cancel out the income, leading to low taxes until the the property is sold.  At the same time great cashflow is generated.  This can be done by anyone and is a great way to wealth.

If interested, this article probably gives the best insight into DJT and real estate I've seen when it comes to the tax part.  It's a superb blog, BTW - he has great posts on how to pay zero fed taxes on 100k-ish a year (legally).  Totally worth reading.

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On 2/20/2021 at 9:55 PM, Bucsfan5493 said:

Bumping this up as I had a great conversation with a friend today about wealth inequality. This is one of the biggest core issues the country is facing and the downstream effects it has is absolutely devastating. 

It’s also an issue that neither party seems interested in fixing and it’s continuing to get worse and worse. Why are people not outraged by this and demanding better from both parties?

15% of the country is going hungry right now while we have people with so much money that they don’t even know how to spend it all and continue to build even more wealth as half of it sits in the stock market. I just don’t understand how that doesn’t make every American outraged. 

Im outraged and I want to fix it.

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On 2/21/2021 at 12:56 AM, Alex P Keaton said:
On 2/20/2021 at 9:55 PM, Bucsfan5493 said:

Bumping this up as I had a great conversation with a friend today about wealth inequality. This is one of the biggest core issues the country is facing and the downstream effects it has is absolutely devastating. 

It’s also an issue that neither party seems interested in fixing and it’s continuing to get worse and worse. Why are people not outraged by this and demanding better from both parties?

15% of the country is going hungry right now while we have people with so much money that they don’t even know how to spend it all and continue to build even more wealth as half of it sits in the stock market. I just don’t understand how that doesn’t make every American outraged. 

Expand  

The economy has been basically co-opted by a small group of uber-rich.  All the bailouts are geared toward preserving and cementing that status quo for the wealthiest of the wealthy.  It’s a disease that needs to be eradicated.

We need to stop socializing losses but then privatizing profits.

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