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Thread: Taxes: Opening myself up to eggs, tomatoes, and who knows what else...

  1. #1
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Opening myself up to eggs, tomatoes, and who knows what else...

    Like many of you, on the sidelines of Figure Skating Fandom, I find our pre and post election political debates frustrating on many levels. As a person who is "self declared" liberal leaning on several fronts, and conservative leaning on other fronts, I would like to take what I believe is a risk around here asking some pointed questions.

    Taxation is an issue where I definitely am conservative leaning. Piel, I hope you will understand up front that I am quoting your post not as an individual thing, but as a topic that I feel is representative of much that has been said here.

    PIEL QUOTE FROM KERRY / BUSH THREAD:


    KERRY-EDWARDS!!!

    We have got to get health care available to EVERYONE in this country. About a month ago a man in our community was denied continuation of his chemotherapy. Medicaid quit paying because his medical bills had decreased making him inelligible. When he could not come up with the $200.00 owed to the doctor they refused to treat him. Last week he died. Meanwhile Sadaam got hernia surgery and treatment for a prostate infection.

    It drives me nuts that people would rather make sure that folks can continue to own guns and gays can be kept from "marrying" than take a chance on Kerry who is the candidate most likely to straighten out the health care mess. It also drives me nuts that those in the top 20% income bracket would rather see the poor go without health care than face a tax increase. Whatever happened to "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required... Luke 12:48."?

    END QUOTE

    Here are some of my questions:

    Who do you consider "wealthy?" (what income level?)

    What increased tax rate do you think is appropriate for whoever you consider wealthy? (what tax rate are these people in today, and what tax rate do you think they should pay?)

    What facts do you present to suggest that people in the upper 20% of income "would rather see the poor go without health care than pay more taxes?"

    What Federal Income Tax rate are YOU paying, and how much more are YOU willing to pay to support the gov programs you believe in? I don't think it's fair for people to talk about how much more "someone else" should be paying unless you are willing to personally commit something yourself.
    QUOTE:

    Whatever happened to "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required... Luke 12:48."?

    END QUOTE

    Do you believe you have been "given much?" If so, I'm interested in what you believe is required of you. If you do not believe you have been given much, why not? I know for sure you have internet access and time to be a fan of a sport. I doubt the truly disadvantaged in the world could say the same. What are you personally doing about this?

    Here's what I'm doing about it. I am working toward a 10% tithe to a local church. I'm not there yet, but I'm in the range of 7% working upwards. The local church supports people in situations like you describe re health care, and I'm watchful about how my donations are spent through this church. Additionally, my husband donates time in his business to charities (8 hours per month, split 4 hours each between 2 charities) to provide technical support at no charge (they all use computers). What are YOU doing to donate your time and/or money in your own community to support the needy?

    I am currently paying very close to 50% of my income in taxes between Federal, State, Local, Payroll, etc. That doesn't count any self-directed charitable giving. So exactly how much more do you think any person should be expected to pay?????? And by the way, if you think this indicates that I'm "wealthy" I do not consider myself to be so. Blessed, yes. But I still clip coupons, buy used cars, and work a job I don't like much to keep the ends meeting. And my husband and I worry constantly about having enough savings for retirement. It's tough to save moeny for retirement when about 1/2 of it gets taken off the top for the government.

    I'm just tired of hearing about how "the wealthy" should carry the burden to support the poor, the needy, the health insurance, etc. I will have a lot more respect for liberals in favor of higher taxes when I hear more about what tax increases those individuals are signing up for at all levels rather than verbally placing the burden on someone else.
    DG

  2. #2
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Hi Doggygirl. DG, I know this post is not directed specifically towards Piel. But since you quote her post at length, I hope Piel will not mind if I say here that unfortunately she will not be able to respond for a while. It is not my place to explain why, but it is not always possible for her to visit the board every day.

    But I will say this. In response to comments like like, “I don't think it's fair for people to talk about how much more someone else should be paying unless you are willing to personally commit something yourself.” And, “What are YOU doing to donate your time and/or money in your own community to support the needy?”

    -- believe me, if Piel did answer it would fill the page.

    Mathman

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Hi Mathman...

    I'm sure it may have been unfair of me to quote Piel specifically. I have always respected and appreciated her posts, and if there are reasons she can't post liberally right now, then my apologies are multiplied.

    I hope that everyone here understands that my point has nothing at all to do with Piel specifically. I just get tired of hearing "the wealthy should pay more," when WHO is considered wealthy is not defined at all. And the "wealthy" supposedly bear a lot of responsibility towards the poor, the uninsured, etc. in an equally undefined manner, with no specific discussion about collective responsibility / contribution.

    I hope that nothing I said is offensive to Piel. I have enjoyed and respected her posts on a wide variety of topics, and am only seeking a positive discussion on this issue.

    If Piel or anyone has positive responses to:

    But I will say this. In response to comments like like, “I don't think it's fair for people to talk about how much more someone else should be paying unless you are willing to personally commit something yourself.” And, “What are YOU doing to donate your time and/or money in your own community to support the needy?”

    -- believe me, if Piel did answer it would fill the page.


    Then I applaud her, and would welcome more information about the causes people support, etc. While I do not accept out of hand comments that "the wealthy should pay," I also believe I have been blessed, and have a desire to give back. I hope that is not inconsistent with what Piel said.

    My prayers are with Piel for whatever reasons she cannot be here.

    DG

  4. #4
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    and a big , DoggyGirl.

    OK, in my first post I said what I think of Piel , now here's what I think about taxes.

    I think there is a lot of merit in the traditional conservative position. Lower taxes, smaller government, and fiscal restraint.

    What I object to in the “neo-cons” like President Bush is that they want to lower taxes, especially at the high income end, but at the same time they want an ever bigger and unconstrained government, to be paid for by the What me, worry? approach of borrowing against the future.

    Lyndon Johnson did the same thing when he ran up the costs of the Viet Nam war. He knew that even the people who supported the war, didn’t really support it – not to the extent of accepting any personal sacrifice. So he simply ran up the tab. It was paid for in the 1970s by runaway inflation -- pay back yesterdays debts with tomorrows cheap money -- much to the economic distress of the nation.

    As you imply in your post, DG, it is easy to be generous with someone else’s money, especially with the money of future generations. The majority of Americans re-elected president Bush in substantial part because they support the Iraq war. In that case, they should be willing to pay for it.

    MM
    Last edited by Mathman; 11-17-2004 at 04:35 PM.

  5. #5
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Thanks for you reply Mathman....

    I am most interested in a discussion that MIGHT change my mind, more so than a discussion that simply adds fuel to an already burning fire.

    I get frustrated with both parties, as I think neither are doing much for "Fiscal Restraint" and "Smaller Government" which I personally believe would benefit all of us. Look at the state level "projects" that have been federally funded over the last 12+ years as "tags" to federal legislation for a small idea. I get disgusted with most of that.

    I think the implication in my post (which you are spot on about) that the "wealthy" should "pay more" is a very valid concern. I think ALL of us should decide what we think we are personally willing to pay, and then go from there. As sure as I'm standing here, I believe there are many flag carrying Americans who are wealthier than they think, or their children are wealthier than they think, etc. I am only encouraging a factual debate about this matter.

    As you stated Mathman, it's way too easy to pin the price tag on someone else, not "you."

    DG

  6. #6
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    ((I am moving this thread to the Cafe, in case others want to jump in, LOL. Even though the Voting Booth says "politics," if a thread does not have a poll, it will get pushed down and off the front page in a hurry. This is because every time someone votes in a poll, that thread goes to the top even if there is no new post.))

  7. #7
    ~ Evgeni's Sex Bomb ~
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    I'll chime in. I confess that I don't know what my payroll taxes are (i.e. what my employer [the school district] is paying), but I lose about 33% of my paycheck each month. (probably 28% to taxes, the rest to retirement, union dues, etc) And I am okay with that. (what I am not okay with is that the state of Nebraska takes an additional 7.5% of my money and shoves it into a retirement fund for me. I have a retirement fund of my own, and would prefer to invest that money in my existing fund, but that's neither here nor there.)

    What do I consider wealthy? Let's say above a million. I would think most people should be able to live comfortably just about anywhere with that. What should they pay in taxes? The top federal rate right now is what? 28%? Only 1% of Americans make more than $200,000, so there are even fewer making above a million. Would it kill those people to pay 40%? Probably not.

    I don't begrudge the wealthy their money. They've earned it. And I've accepted that, as a teacher, I will never be wealthy. But being a teacher has also taught me compassion, and I see that some of my students get their only meals at school (God only knows what they eat during the summer), and that they've never been to a dentist, that they wear the same three outfits all year, and then I see other teachers bitching because "their" tax money is going feed these kids. I can go without another pair of Steve Madden boots if my taxes go up and it ensures more kids get meals at school, and if it would enable them to see a dentist, or buy a new shirt.

    I can live with higher taxes if they are going to a good cause, but I do not want to pay higher taxes, or have these kids pay higher taxes 20 years from now, because Bush is financing a bad war with tax cuts now. The top tax rate during WWII was 90% and the country didn't fall apart. We don't need to return to that, but people need to seriously stopped getting worked up over 25-30%.

    If that was incoherent and rambling, I apologize. I teach 9th graders.

    Laura

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Hi Laura...

    No, I don't think your thoughts are rambling or incoherent at all. I think you said several really important things, but one I can relate to BIG TIME is this...

    "I can live with higher taxes if they are going to a good cause, but I do not want to pay higher taxes, or have these kids pay higher taxes 20 years from now, because Bush is financing a bad war with tax cuts now."

    I don't want to pay higher taxes either. I actually don't know anyone at any income level who has come right out and said "I think I should pay higher taxes." That's what bugs me about the whole "wealthy should pay more" thing. Very easy to suggest what should happen to OTHER people's income, not yours. So to the degree anyone wants to step up and say "I'd pay X% more, and X total $'s more in income tax to fund _____ program, I'm all ears.

    I think we all sort of get used to a big chunk of our paycheck "disappearing" on us. We get used to our net pay, and may not even realize where the rest of our hard earned money is going. I don't think the Federal Government needs to tax us more to help the poor, to fund education, etc. I think we all need to hold our elected representatives more accountable for how they are spending our money that we already contribute.

    And I hope we can all see that the more "bang for our buck" we can get out of existing taxes, rather than increased taxes helps keep our collective hard earned money in our own hands for retirement saving, spending (that fuels the economy), charitable giving (that helps the poor and the needy, and I truly believe a $1 donated directly benefits the needy MORE than and extra $1 in tax collections), etc.

    In 2002, 50% of Americans who filed income tax returns contributed 3.71% of all Federal Income Tax Dollars collected. The other 50% of Americans who filed income tax returns contributed 96.29% of Federal Income Tax Dollars collected.

    In that same tax year, the top 5% of income earners who filed returns contributed over 50% of the total Federal Income Tax Dollars collected. So when it is said that the "wealthy should pay more" I'm really interested to know how MUCH more??? Is over 53% of the Federal Tax kitty from the top 5% of income earners still not enough? What WOULD be enough?

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/prtopincometable.html

    Thanks for listening. I really want to know if I've got this all wrong, because it really bugs the cr@p out of me.

    DG

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    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I agree with PrincessLeopard about not begrudging people with money for having it. However, I do have issues when they are less than charitable.

    I work in IT and the average salary in our department is much greater than others. People buy themselves iPods and other gadgets & gizmos (not isolated to IT), but won't donate a bottle of wine toward the raffle our department offers to raise funds for the Orphan Foundation of America. These are the same people who will spend $100 to go out for drinks all night and they can't get a $10 bottle of wine at the store or give someone on our team $10 to buy it for them.

    I'm the fundraising chairperson for the department's efforts for OFA and am very discouraged by the lack of participation on both a monetary and performance basis. It's always the same people who are willing to conribute their time and/or money and/or efforts - about 10% of the department. I also contribute to the care packages sent to these orphaned students by baking or purchasing items, as well as donating merchandise and time to all the other fundraisers in the building (local food bank, adopt a soldier, etc)

    On the subject of taxes, it always annoys me. You can't have universal health care without everyone paying more in taxes. Compared to other countries, the US does not pay a lot in taxes, but these are the same countries that offer universal services. In many of these countries, more fortunate people usually pay for private health care due to the long waits, etc. I'm sure those people are unhappy about paying for universal health care that they don't use.

    Also, HMO's need reforms. They are heavily administrative and no longer fulfill the initial reason for HMO's. Same as government, there are too many layers. Many companies have failed financially when management has too many layers , etc. At the same time, people would be aghast if the government actually restructured because of the thousands of people who probably end up losing their jobs.

    I don't have a problem with paying more taxes as long as the money is used to truly benefit people as opposed to paying a bureaucrats high salary.

  10. #10
    bugs are smarter than we are bronxgirl's Avatar
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    Slightly off topic, but wealth is also very location determined. An income of 75,000 a year in Manhattan,Kansas may put you in the middle class, but that same income in Manhattan, New York would not go anywhere as far.

  11. #11
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Hi Heyang!

    Thank you so much for contributing to this thread. I was so afraid to bring up a "touchy" subject. But I love when strangers can come together, and discuss things in a productive way.

    I can relate to what you are saying about your department, which is sad. I believe a giving spirit comes from the heart, and unfortunately no "windfalls" in the paycheck contribute to the growth of the spirit per se. Bless you and the other 10% for what YOU do. I probably sound like a selfish jerk based on my CRAZED position on tax rates. (and I AM a selfish jerk on that topic) By the same token, I believe whatever we are entrusted with in this life is meant for us to share. I just personally like to share in such ways as you describe, rather than entrust the Federal Gov to conduct my sharing for me (those beaurocrats you mentioned, and that applies to both major parties IMO). I hope over time, more of your counterparts see your good example as something worthwhile to embrace themselves.

    I agree that the HMO system, and the health care system at large is a mess. I'm not even sure what sort of radical plan it will take to fix it. One thing I know, is that I don't believe any politician from any party who gives lip service to the problem during stump speeches. This problem will take a lot of change to solve, and I haven't heard anyone talk about a specific plan that sounds viable to me.

    I'll toss something out for debate and food for thought. IMO, many forms of insurance, health and otherwise, have migrated a great distance from their original purpose. The earliest forms of "homeowners insurance" as one example involved communities pooling their resources to assist the few who experienced catastrophic losses. Odds were, someone's barn would burn down over the course of time, so the community pulled together to replace that person's barn, which could just as easily have been their barn. (I come from farming roots going back many generations)

    I suspect health insurance was similar when it first got started - a program intended to share the risk and cost of major / catastrophic type situations. What it's turned into is an entitlement system, where people get, or expect to get, first dollar coverage to see a doctor for a cold, or an annual physical, etc. Since insurance is simply cost sharing, we ALL have to pay for the benefits we get, or expect to get. (challenge me on this theory if you think I'm wrong...please...I wouldn't bring it up if I didn't want to discuss it!)

    So... I would be in favor of some sort of reform where there was a safety net in place for the lowest 10 or 20% of wage earners, but the rest of us paid our own way for standard types of doctor visits. Then us 80-90% of folks shared the cost of more unexpected / catastrophic types of situations.

    Of course this would put more personal responsibility back on people to have savings in reserve for a certain level of medical costs. But once again, I trust myself and my neighbors in this more than I would trust a big beaurocratic government run system that controlled ALL healthcare.

    Just some thoughts. It will take a lot of minds thinking WAY outside the box to solve that problem.

    Thanks for posting!!

    DG

    Compare that to

  12. #12
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Hi Bronxgirl...

    LOL, I missed your post while I was busy writing another novel. So if you are reading it, I hope you packed a snack, a bottle of water, and a port-a-potty.

    You are so right that our tax system does not take into account any sort of cost of living considerations. My husband and I consider ourselves blessed to live on the "fringes" of the Chicago area (far SW suburbs). And we DREAM of the day we can figure out how to keep our income stable, and move to a nice small town in the middle of nowhere.

    While I love Chicago (right in the thick of it) and lived there for a few years in my younger days, you couldn't drag me back! That's just me though.

    DG

  13. #13
    Sal-Kowabunga!
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    DG,

    No, you don't sound like a selfish jerk. You sound like a frustrated person who works hard and feels that much of that work, and thus the pay for that work, is being taken away with nothing being accomplished in our country in return. Believe me, I can relate. Even though I am now one of those people your taxes support. Without government programs, I'd have no place to live, nothing to eat, no medications or other medical care (and thus would either be dead or more quickly on my way there), no way to keep warm this winter, etc., etc., etc.

    So, am I saying this to make you feel quilty? NO, NO, NO. I absolutely, positively do not blame people for being ticked off with how we in the US are taxed and just where that money goes. And not just because I resent big chunks of that money being wasted putting my son and thousands of others in jeopardy in Iraq. (although that one always brings on my own rants) [ Note: the part of Iraq currently being administered by the 1st Infantry, the Big Red 1, is where my son is stationed. Think current hotspots: Baiji, Baquobah, Tikrit, Balal, etc.]

    One thing most people don't realize is, that the biggest chunks of our money (OK, YOUR money) being wasted is for "corporate welfare." For every dollar spent to feed the poor, there are many, many dollars being spent to help businesses. Those tax laws that give credits for "job outsourcing" which moves jobs away from US citizens and sends them abroad, are only the tip of the iceberg. If you're interested in more reasons to rant, just google corporate welfare. I'm willing to be there are an unlimited number of sites with facts or mere rant about that subject.

    The worst part of the corporate welfare is this -- just how many large corporations pay less than YOU in income taxes, no matter how much they are worth, no matter how much they make? Sorry, I don't have a barf bag for you when you find the stats on that subject. And I really see red when our president calls himself a small-businessman. He couldn't find oil in Texas. Was bailed out by political "friends." Then bought a baseball team with the help of the same &/or other friends. Got voters in Texas to pony up the bucks to build a baseball stadium (which made "his" investment worth more) and then cashed out, bigtime. But, he was a self-made man. A "small" business person? OK, you can even skip that rant.

    Halliburton is only one example of how corporate America rips off the rest of us. If you haven't seen the headlines or heard the accusations during the political campaign this year, you were the one person in the US who managed to avoid all the noise. My favorite example is the 100,000+ meals that Halliburton's subsidiary was supposed to deliver to the troops in Iraq. They got paid, but soldiers didn't get fed. And that is only one example. That company alone accounts for BILLIONS of dollars that just disappear from the US treasury with nothing to show in return. Did I mention that Halliburton hase never had to give back a single penny? And they are now being investigated by the federal government, which is currently being run by their own former chairman?

    Nope, no rotten eggs for you, DG. You're not alone in the frustrations. How much suffering could be relieved with better control of the money people send to DC? I am well aware and thankful for the tax money that makes my continued existence possible. But even a recipient can see just how little of those funds are being put to use to the betterment of our country.

  14. #14
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Boy, if you Yanks want to know what being taxed to death is like come and join us here in the Great White North! We pay and pay and pay taxes like you would not believe. All these Americans who want to move here because Bush got in will soon be running for the hills when they find out what our income tax is like. We pay a Federal tax and a Provincial tax on everything! Our federal tax is 7.5 per cent and our Provincial tax is now 7 per cent. It too was 7.5 per cent, but we got a "tax break" recently when the government lowered the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) to 7 per cent. Big deal. I hardly even notice.

    Our only saving grace is that we still have our great medical coverage. So we may be tax poor, but at least we are healthy. If they take that away from us then you will hear some screaming.

    Not much one can do about paying taxes. It's a reality we all have to deal with.

    We have a Governor General - Adrienne Clarkson - who spends our tax dollars like a "drunken sailor." Being appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Ms. Clarkson thinks nothing of staying in posh hotels and taking junkets first class all the way and redecorating her mansion on the hill in Ottawa on our tax dollars. Talk about a waste of money!

    How would you like to clean this Castle?

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  15. #15
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I have no interest in paying the huge amount we are paying for a war that does nothing but make us more enemies.

    It would cost $85 Billion per year to give medical insurance for every child in America. I would be glad to see my taxes go up to pay for that. Wouldn't you pay to never have to see those pathetic little money collection jars for Johnny or Sally who need a big operation but Mommy and Daddy have no health plan? I would. (And by the way, those children are covered in VT...and there are no jars there)

    FICA is a regressive tax collected from you and your employer up to $85,000, approx. I would like to see FICA collected on all income, not just up to $85,000, and the money used to pay for any anticipated Medicare and Social Security shortfalls. Most people earning over $85,000 would never notice that FICA was still being collected at the end of the year, since they don't notice at the beginning of the year, but we will all notice when the elderly are joining the homeless on the street again.

    I am particularly angered by President Bush's proposed tax 'simplification' as reported on the Washington Post website. Bush is going to cancel the alternative minimum tax. This tax insures that people pay some kind of income tax, whatever their exemptions for tax free bonds, etc., etc. and is aimed at those who get their income from tax free sources (bonds,etc), to be sure they pay at least 12% tax. To pay for this, Bush is going to cancel the exemption that corporations get when they pay for medical plans for workers. The result of this policy will be that there will be more and more people without medical plans.

    Taxes are the dues that you pay to be part of a decent society. People with a social safety net don't resort to crime as much. And you have to realize that some day you may need that safety net. The Greatest Generation realized that, because of the Depression. They knew everyone was vulnerable.

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