If I ever run for political office…

…it will be under the banner of the “PLEASE READ A HISTORY BOOK” party.

We’ve paid for two wars by mortgaging our future.  Should we have fought them?  Don’t care.  Doesn’t matter.  We’re paying for them anyway.  How best to do it?

Our current administration recommends asking rich folks to pay more.  But a bunch of (mostly) poor people don’t like that, because it’s “socialist”.

Current tax rate for a really rich guy: 35%.

Tax rate for a really rich guy under Reagan: 50%.

Tax rate for a really rich guy under Nixon: 70%.

Tax rate for a really rich guy under Eisenhower: 90%.

Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower: all well-known socialists.  Sigh.

A History of US Marginal Tax Rates.  Source: Wikipedia.
A History of US Marginal Tax Rates. Source: Wikipedia.
If I ever run for political office…

11 thoughts on “If I ever run for political office…

  1. So, I heard someone compare the cost of the tax cut for the rich as being somewhat close, if a little bit less, than the entire cost of the stimulus. So, perhaps we should just start calling it the “Stimulus for Billionaires”? Stimulus seems to be out of favor these days, so perhaps that could help in killing it….

    Just say no to stimulus for billionaires!

  2. Miloslav Trmac says:

    If we are to learn from history, how about the centuries _before_ a general income tax? 🙂

    Let me offer a different reading of the chart: The “long-term reasonable” top marginal tax rate is somewhere in the (very rough) 10-40% range. War debts were paid mostly by the high-income citizens, through the _temporary_ extremely high top marginal tax rates.

    The 1950-1990 times are quite unusual – there was the cold war, and the society was (all over the western world) moving significantly towards socialism (and if Nixon’s price controls are not a socialistic policy, then I don’t know what is). Both the cold war and the socialism experiment are mostly over, so there’s every reason for the top marginal tax rate to return to the reasonable level.

    Of course, it’s entirely a political question what is a reasonable amount of redistribution, wit no universally accepted right answer, and the answer also changes over time as the wealth distribution, and – more importantly – per capita wealth and minimal living standards – change.

    Still, I’d argue that income 90% tax rate under “normal” conditions is completely unreasonable.

    a) It is totally unreasonable for income earned from work – if a person wants more money and is willing to work for it, the government telling the person that they’ll have to work 10 times as hard as other people to get the same amount of money is unjustifiably unfair.

    b) It is unreasonable for capital income as well – its effects are very similar to simply confiscating 90% of the capital. I’d find it reasonable and fair to impose a very high inheritance tax rate (to get at least rough similarity, if not equality, of opportunity), but if someone creates so much value, why should they not be able to enjoy it during their lifetime?

  3. My point is not that a 90% tax rate is reasonable.

    My point is that a 40% tax rate is not unreasonable. Especially during wartime. Expecting to go to war, without having to pay for it, is ludicrous — and for people to cry “socialism” is utter nonsense.

    1. Miloslav Trmac says:

      Ah, my mistake.

      I have completely missed the fact that US is currently at war – it just doesn’t seem to be one of the important things happening in the US, based on the news and US political discussions that are visible from the outside.

      (Absurdly enough, US health reform is on the Czech news at least as often as information about the war in Afghanistan.)

      From that point of view, high marginal tax rates make complete sense.

  4. The word “rich” really means a lot of different things.

    I think there’s a fundamental difference between taxing the “rich” – i.e., people who have a lot of wealth – and people who are probably middle or upper-middle class and paying a 35-40% tax rate, but haven’t accumulated a lot of wealth. Particularly people who are, say, in our age range – who have basically seen zero growth in the stock market overall since they started working – 35-40% tax rates really kind of stick a fork in the upward ability to ever be *rich*, or accumulate wealth.

    I’m not arguing here by any means – I think my libertarian status is fairly well known and despite that, quite frankly, I think we’d all do well to have some higher tax rates and cut the shit out of spending on useless nonsense and actually think about our unfunded liabilities (social security, medicare, and hey, that pesky national debt so our country doesn’t get its credit rating cut). Yes, we’re in a war and we need to pay for it – but at the same time we haven’t cut spending anywhere else, we haven’t tried to figure out how we can more efficiently spend money in other areas – and I have little faith that should my household’s tax rate go up, things would improve. And that’s just demoralizing.

    Anyway, the “rich” word is just a semantics thing that drives me nuts. A lot of people make good salaries but won’t ever be able to actually be *rich* – and you should be able to have that as a goal in this country. Instead we just keep increasing that divide.

    And goddamnit, I want a ferrari. WHERE IS MY FERRARI??????

  5. Military spending is much less than “helping the poor” through HUD, Dept. of Ed, etc. “Fighting two wars” is not what’s bankrupting the nation, and if you believe that military spending has anything to do with Obama’s deficits, you’re delusional.

  6. “Obama’s deficits”? You mean the one that is down 8% from the comparable period the previous year when Bush was in office? And, wasn’t it Bush that cut taxes without even trying to pay for them (surplus? what surplus? not after the tax cuts)? Why, yes, I believe it was. If you look at this chart of debt by administration http://goo.gl/lEZ9 some striking things pop out at you: mainly that Reagan, Bush 1, and Bush 2 have essentially tried to bankrupt the country. Yes, it’s still going up in the little bit of Obama’s that has happened so far, but current projections all agree that it will head down. Unless, of course, congress does something monumentally stupid like extend the stimulus for billionaires.

  7. Wikipedia is full of leftist lies and slant, as usual. In particular, the linked graph is cut off before it can show the 2010 deficit, which is not “going up a little”. It’s ballooning in truly unprecendented way.
    Shows pretty nicely how the deficits went down until Democrats took over the Congress in 2006, and then exploded thanks to Obama. You’ve seen nothing yet though, wait for 2010. Hiperinflation and a default are quite likely.

  8. Howdy would you mind letting me know which web host you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a fair price? Many thanks, I appreciate it!

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