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General politics thread (was: General U.S. politics thread)
DAMNIT SOUTH CAROLINA
WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SHAME YOURSELF SO
That there is just a sad display, folks.
Because apparently South Carolina thinks using state money to have an affair then violating a restraining order is preferable to being a Democrat. It's like an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia -- it might be funny if it weren't a little too true.
That just ain't right.
Minor thing: Newt Gingrich doesn't seem to know the word "smartphone".
Stealth commercial? Slow comedy sketch about 'old people catching up to technology'? Clueless attempt at citizen2.0 engagement? Way to look for an excuse to dick around with his phone during Congress sessions?
"We're Really Puzzled" is a well-chosen title indeed.
Elections were held for the following purposes, today (Tuesday):
Seriously, (relatively) very few people turn out for elections like these because no one knows when they're happening. And I'm sitting here trying to figure out who to blame, voter apathy/busy-ness or politicians setting dates weirdly for partisan advantage.
h/t to Belian at TVTF
Will we ever learn that things don't last forever, and out-of-mind does not mean legitimately negligible?
The U.S. politics thread on TVT dug up this NYT article about how it's a myth, on par, that wealthy people flee higher taxes:
TL;DR: A few do, but most of them don't, because people move or stay put for much more important reasons, such as family, social ties, or business...like the rest of us, y'know.
Do you have any thoughts as to what may these findings imply?
Well, this basically means that the talking-point that some anti-tax activists use -- saying that rich people leave in droves when localities, states, and countries raise taxes -- is false, and any conclusion or further argument that uses this assumption as support should be considered suspect and challenged.
Hmm, I figured this is what it's gonna be. That said, there's enough of a fuss over businesses relocating to tax havens that I guess something's still going on. Do you, apart from people, also have a comparison in terms of raw money?
I don't personally have stats, but the article does cite the finding that tax rate increases do in fact increase tax revenues:
Additionally, those people who do leave due to increased tax rates tend to fall into certain categories of people:
I certainly wouldn't like a 90% tax dropped on me because it has been judged I probably won't emigrate. But, this is about U.S politics, which I don't usually follow, and not me, so I'll just be back the next time there's some issue to pick my interest.
What if your tax rate were currently, say, 36%, and it were to increase to 39%?
How about a jump from 50% to 75%? In other words, that's a different thing, the article made it sound like you could raise it to however high you wish, and still the leavers would be too few to be relevant. I'd wager most of low-tax advocates (whom, by the way, the article's last sentences could've avoided to paint as pretty much gullible fools) would believe in the Laffer's curve, the thing is where they put its peak. 36% to 39% would be of little relevance whatsoever, unless you put the peak so low that pretty much everyone would leave for tax reasons, which we already saw is not the case.
But, if it's true that Californians have a 13% tax to pay, well... I'm gonna joke half of Europe would kiss your feet if you gave them twice that much.
Well, I think the 13% tax rate is probably the top tax bracket (i.e. the tax rate for the money you make beyond some high amount, like $500K or so) rate for California state income tax. There is income tax at the federal level too, for the government of the whole United States. States are free to set their own income tax levels on top of whatever the federal government charges in taxes; it varies greatly state to state, such as the article mentioning that it's about 5% in Massachusetts, and I know it's 0% in Florida.
When we're talking about people dodging higher taxes in one state by moving to another, that's what they're talking about. They could, of course, try to move out of the country, as some people obviously have. The current top-bracket tax rate for the federal government is 39%, I think. The Republicans were fighting tooth and nail to keep this rate from rising from 36% to 39%.
(Keep in mind that, if you have a yearly income of less than $100K (which is enough to live somewhat comfortably middle-class but not opulently), you don't ever see these tax rates. Lower tax brackets pay lower rates in taxes; I think the bottom bracket is 0% up to something like $12K or so and then maybe 10% from that up to $25K or something vaguely like this? I really don't know these bracket numbers, but my point is that it's organized in tiers called brackets, which have increasing rates with increasing income.)
Note, however, that a good chunk of the very wealthy (albeit not all of them; how many, I'm not sure) get a lot of their income from capital gains (i.e. returns on investments). These are not counted as normal "work" income, but are instead taxed at something ilke 15% or 19% (I forget the current rate but it's substantially lower). This is part of the reason behind the "Buffett Rule" idea where in super-rich investor Warren Buffett observed that he paid a lower net rate in taxes (averaged across all income) than his secretary whose income is like a tenth of his, or something like that.
Of course, there exist an entire industry dedicated to knowing the tax code, including all the loopholes, in order to shove your money around to minimize your tax load. TIME magazine's Joel Stein highlighted some of the fun that could be had in a recent column: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2144565,00.html (you might be able to get behind the paywall if you have a subscription or know someone who does through their university).
I'm guessing half of California would skip right over kissing your feet and start screwing you in the streets if they could pay twice their tax rate for a quarter of the benefits Europeans get.
That's it, I hope they'll never get it. Gosh, you horrify me.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has passed away.
He served from 1982-2001, then again from 2003 to the present. He was the last WWII veteran in the Senate.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24) is secretly a TF2 player.
Okay, maybe not. But she does have an inventory of over a hundred hats.
So they're spying on you (and us) quite a bit.
I guess it's not a big deal but it's kinda the principle of the thing where you expect your emails and stuff to be private
I thought they were acquiring phone call records but not phone conversations.
Yes, but they are acquiring private e-mails and photos.
I heard on another board that this kind of information might have been used to coordinate drone strikes. Searching on Google gets me this:
I'm not really sure how this all relates, but it sounds kinda scary.
Assange, Manning, Risen, Snowden and the Associated Press, this entire thing that the US government has against whistleblowers is really disconcerting.
I know that National Security is a thing, but I don't think [in Bradley Manning's case] advocating the death sentence in what appears to be a sham trial anyways for transparency about things that you should be transparent about should be a thing.
In no way makes anything better, and you're still not talking about all those e-mails and personal things you monitored over the internet.
Well, time to switch to IRC, and small-name e-mail providers.
Reminder that with 95% of your households probably hold the supplies to make Draino-bombs, so they can always pin you for that if your door gets busted down.
Yeah, I could simply leave my house alone with the windows and doors open for a year, and let everything rot and allow infestations of various vermin and colonization by random homeless persons and let it become a public health hazard costing taxpayers millions to clean up and also drive up neighborhood instability and drive down property values.
That would actually be MORE insidious than any known terrorist plot.
Not completely a US thing, but still relevant to what we were on about
How one superwealthy guy, Art Pope, campaigned against and killed public financing for elected judgeships in North Carolina.