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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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62 Responses

  1. prairielily
    prairielily April 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm |

    I read this and I think that the system must be fundamentally broken for that many people to be too impoverished to pay income tax while a few are in a position where they can pay that much and still be wealthy.

  2. catfood
    catfood April 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm |

    I get your point here, Jill, but I bet the teabaggers see it as reinforcing their point, which is that the losers of society aren’t paying enough and aren’t suffering enough.

    And that their taxes are supporting people who truly aren’t doing their share.

  3. Becca
    Becca April 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm |

    I’m with catfood… the last part of this is probably something the teabaggers would use as “Why should I have to pay when you don’t, that’s not fair,” but then again of course they are saying that poor people should pay more, which I don’t think is what they mean…. ahhh I’m just going in circles in my brain it makes no sense!

  4. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler April 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm |

    I don’t recall the government “sending me a payment” for the year I made $0 before deductions.

    Anyway, if your taxable income is $33,950, and you get a raise, you will pay more in taxes on the amount of the raise*. Joe the Plumber types would call this “punishing people for being successful.” Of course, you still have more money as a result of this raise. That’s the sort of punishment I wouldn’t mind being given.

    *I suspect a lot of Tea Partiers don’t understand tax brackets, and think they’ll pay more on all of it, in which case my point would be diminished.

  5. Holy!
    Holy! April 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm |

    It’s amazing to see people mad about the tax rates for upper incomes. Yet, tax rates of 70 percent or more for top earners used to be typical, even under Republicans like Eisenhower.

  6. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery April 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm |

    I’m anti-tax, but less because of the first part of this quote and more because of the second:

    The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education.

    How can you post an article that describe an imperialist national defense policy, a public safety system that puts millions of innocents in prison for non-crimes, crumbling, shoddy infrastructure built by no-bid cronyism, and a godawful public education system as “policies that benefit everyone” with a straight face. How, Jill? HOW?!

    For clarity’s sake, I don’t believe that taxes are wrong in principal, I just don’t believe in the way we do them now.

  7. William
    William April 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm |

    I’m glad to see numbers like this (I really don’t think the bottom 50% should be expected to pay income taxes anyway), but I have to side with Tom Foolery’s characterization. Most government programs don’t benefit everyone. The vast majority of dollars spent at the federal level either go to Medicare/Social Security (which is vitally important but badly broken) and “national defense” (which is a joke since no one really threatens the US militarily and the obscene dollars we spend in this area are basically welfare for rich people). Once you’re past those two you end up with big expenditures on programs that are often wasteful and don’t work (primary education, infrastructure), are actively oppressive (the war on drugs, the propaganda paid for by The Ad Council, harassing brown people who came here looking for jobs), or are sweetheart deals designed to bribe specific constituencies (farm subsidies, bridges to nowhere, etc). The handful of programs which ought to benefit everyone (Medicaid, SCHIP, basically any social service) are so terribly underfunded that they’re broken. It would be nice if money was spent on programs that benefited everyone, but the reality is that its generally spent on guns, bribes, and busy work.

  8. cathy
    cathy April 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    Let me explain poor folks and income tax credits. “The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes.” You can get a big tax credit at the end of the year by not taking deductions on your W4. Let’s say you are a working parent of one child. You may choose to mark two deductions, one, or none on the W4. If you mark two, you will get a higher amount of money in your check from week to week, if you mark one you will get a little less, if you mark zero you will get even less. Now, if you mark zero, you can recoup that loss at the end of the tax year by taking certain credits on your taxes, because you have paid more in each check than you actually owed for that check. If you under deduct like this, you will likely get a rebate check with a good sum of money at the end of the year. However, you will only get what you would have gotten in your checks and you will not get the bank interest. Because of this, for people who use no public assistance, it is best to take the highest number you can and get the money in your checks and put it in the bank. However, if you recieve public assistance, bank account balances are held against you and saving in the bank will cause you to loose benefits you need to survive. So, you mark zero and get a lump sum in a rebate check, and, guess what, tax rebates do not count against public assistance, so you can save up money without loosing benefits or risking having unsecure loose cash. Low income workers use this as a way to save up for larger purchases, such as appliances. The poor aren’t getting one over on the rich in these cases, we are getting back what we overpaid, which the rich could do if they liked but don’t because its not practical. To say that the poor get rebates and ‘make a profit’ without explaining the differences in how poor and wealthy people manage taxations systems is a huge omission here.

  9. irene
    irene April 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    Holy! – I agree. My bf’s father gets enraged that they are raising taxes on the rich, saying that is a disincentive to working hard. And it is a tax bracket in which he will never be a part of. The logic is astounding.

  10. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe April 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    Oh, great, here come the Libertarians.

    To answer your original question:

    Middle and lower-income families pay less in income taxes under Obama than they did under Bush. Why haven’t I seen that sign at a Tea Party rally?

    Because the people at those rallies are morons?

    I’m curious whether anyone here has had the extremely pleasant experience I did, tax-wise, this year: The IRS gave me a refund $400 more than I thought I was getting. Apparently I had missed something called the “Making Work Pay and Government Retiree Credit.” I don’t know what that is, but I liiiiiike it.

  11. Zes
    Zes April 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm |

    Hershele – yes re them not understanding tax brackets and thinking they’ll be poorer the richer they get (???), it’s amazing isn’t it? My Dad explained it to me when I was about 5 and I got it then. I don’t think you should be allowed to campaign about taxes unless you can count.

    TomFoolery – you raise a superb point. How come it’s OK to ban use of public taxes to pay for say, abortions because SOME taxpayers do not approve, but OK to use the same tax intake to pay for wars and nukes, when SOME people do not approve.

    I do not accept that your average pro-lifer cares more about stopping abortion than your hardcore liberal does about banning the bomb. The more liberal parts of society are actually strongly correlated with the higher rate taxpayers anyway.

  12. S.L
    S.L April 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm |

    I agree that the tea baggers see this information as reinforcing their opinion.

    I’m of the opinion that these programs don’t benefit everyone. There is a particular income range that many people fall in between. They make too much money to qualify for many of the social services, and not enough to actually get by. Also, for many of these programs, you have to have NOTHING. So if you own a townhome or have any assets and lose your job, in many states you can’t get help. So you have to go broke before you can get services such as food stamps, medical assistance, etc. SAD.

    Also, I realize our public education system isn’t perfect, but I think it’s pretty damn good in alot of places. Yes some are “godawful” and “don’t work” but a whole lot of them are amazing and do work. I’m a product of public schools and proud of it. I went to an amazing high school and I attend a public university. Sure, it may not be as award winning as Harvard, but there are a ton of professors who love what they do and are willing to spend time helping their students. The schools in a nearby district consistently rank high on a national level.

    Sorry for the derail. :) I just think our schools are better than some people gave them credit for. At least in terms of education received.

  13. A Guy In Denver
    A Guy In Denver April 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm |

    Second the dissent regarding whether we get anything for those taxes. We do. Not what we might ought to get, but more than in some places. They pay taxes in Sudan, too, and they don’t get comprehensive public education, transportation infrastructure, honest bureaucracies, working postal service, etc. for it.

    Yes, some people pay less income taxes under Obama’s proposals than they did under Bush’s, but income taxes are but one shard of the tax picture. Total taxes are going up; they have to. And while I am sure the rich will come in for their share of soaking, many of the people currently not paying much in the way of income tax are probably people who are going to feel some pain when the insurance mandates kick in.

    I will be interested to see Jill’s views on taxation and the fair share of the rich in twenty or thirty years, when she’s a partner at a big firm with a low seven-digit income and an annual tax bill equal to all the money she made in her 20s. In the meantime, the income tax distribution is politically problematic for liberals. People don’t like to be thought of as losers who don’t pay their own bills, and “we need to make sure that the people who are doing better than you keep covering your slack!” is not a self-esteem building meme. People, even poor people, support regressive tax structures for the very reason that progressive tax structures make them feel like they haven’t done well in life.

  14. S.L
    S.L April 7, 2010 at 8:50 pm |

    Back on topic-

    Sometimes people try and twist this data and say “See!! Half of the losers don’t pay ANY taxes for ANYTHING!!”

    But most people do pay taxes (state and local) in some form or another. Sales taxes, property tax, tolls, etc.

    Jill you were totally clear on this, I just wanted to point out how the tea baggers will interpret this information before their next rally. I have seen websites and blogs that deliberately left out the information you included.

  15. Kyra
    Kyra April 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm |

    Yeah, I’m thinking the teabaggers are up to their usual double standards.

    Either the people who paid no income taxes are mostly welfare queens and other lazy no-good bums, or the income tax cancellations that affect any teabaggers are caused by the work of Republicans . . . somehow. Since it’s a good thing, in that case, Obama and the Democrats can’t have done it. Yay Republican congressmen, doing their thing to minimize the tax burden on Good Americans, now give them money so they can keep doing it.

  16. Henry
    Henry April 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm |

    That’s what happens when you have such horrid wage disparity in a country – a family of 4 living on 50K a year? – don’t know how they do it given runaway housing costs, inflation on everything from food to medicine, and credit card debt loads. The take home on high salaries is about 50% of the salary – when you add state & local taxes in.

    The main problem is our addiction to the “something for nothing” mindset – all that stuff we want our gov’t to do costs money, yes they mismanage alot of it, but no more than any other industrialized country. The teaparty can whine about taxes all they want – let them spend even a day living in a 3rd world country and they’d be whining about the lack/poor quality of roads, sewage treatment, schools, hospitals etc. (the Feds kick in huge sums for local projects – they don’t blow it all on Halliburton).

  17. chad
    chad April 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm |

    I can afford, even with my debt, to pay a shit-lot of money so that we can have roads and fire departments and public schools.

    Maybe I’m ignorant about this sort of thing. I’m certainly too lazy to educate myself about it right now. But I thought that roads and fire departments and public schools were for the most part funded with taxes other than federal income taxes (in this case, property taxes and state and local taxes, respectively). I thought that most of one’s income taxes go to pay for national defense and entitlement programs. Of course both sorts of expenditures are highly controversial, so when you’re making a pro-tax argument it is rhetorically more effective to talk about schools and fire departments. But it isn’t really correct, is it?

    Your point here would be more reasonable if you were discussing taxation in general rather than just income tax. Of course, if you’re going to talk about taxation in general, though, we should recognize that even the low wage earners pay a significant amount of money in sales tax, property tax, payroll tax, 9-11 taxes on plane tickets, all the taxes on the phone bill, etc. etc. etc.

  18. cathy
    cathy April 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm |

    @William, medicare, social security, umemployment, and workers comp are not paid for by income taxes. They are paid for by other payroll taxes, not income taxes, the link even mentions the first two:

    “The vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property.”

    You might be confusing medicare with medicaid, chip, and the NIH, which are all funded at least in part with income tax.

    Also, education is mainly funded by local property or business taxes, federal grants usually make up a pretty small amount.

  19. William
    William April 7, 2010 at 10:23 pm |

    Also, I realize our public education system isn’t perfect, but I think it’s pretty damn good in alot of places. Yes some are “godawful” and “don’t work” but a whole lot of them are amazing and do work. I’m a product of public schools and proud of it.

    I grew up in one of the largest, most liberal cities in the country. I was denied first aid in a public kindergarten because I “asked too many questions during class.” My parents pulled me out and spent what little disposable income they had on putting me in a private school that was marginally better but they couldn’t manage that for more then a year. By then it became apparent that I had a disability and I was shuffled out of the public school system and the state paid an obscene amount of money to warehouse me in a therapeutic day school that was inappropriate for me. My mother was a good advocated and managed to get me back into a real school by 5th grade. In high school I had to obtain council in order to avoid being expelled, again because I had a disability. At each step I was in one of the better public schools in my area. I’m glad public school worked for you. All I’ve seen is a system that, on it’s best days, does about as much harm as it does good, and then only helps students who fulfill a very specific image of what a student should like like and how they ought to behave.

  20. Thomas
    Thomas April 7, 2010 at 11:03 pm |

    Okay, asshole who insinuated that Jill’s opinions will change with her self-interest: let me tell you this. I am a partner in a law firm and a suburban parent and homeowner. People have been predicting how I would see almost everything when some event occurred: how I would see things when I was married, had kids, made a lot of money, paid property taxes …

    Their predictive powers have been no better than random. Neither are yours, and it’s ageist. Fuck off, please.

  21. octogalore
    octogalore April 7, 2010 at 11:55 pm |

    I agree that being a partner in a law firm doesn’t necessarily correspond to becoming more conservative.

    Especially because it takes awhile to get to the point at which most of ones income is taxed at higher levels. A senior associate making $250K, for example, pays less than 25% on amounts up to $80K, 28% between that and 172K, and then 33% on the rest, plus state tax. A partner making 600K pays those percentages plus 33% up to 370K and 35% beyond that, plus state tax.

    So it’s really just more senior partners, and then entrepreneurs and business owners, who will be primarily affected.

    And coming from the small-business world, I do think people’s views begin to change as they get to these levels. There is a general relationship, which cannot be assumed in particular cases, between financial success and fiscal conservatism.

    Admittedly, some of this is out of self interest. But it’s also true that people don’t see this kind of policy being all that helpful. Taxes, after all, don’t really hurt the wealthy — we all know Warren Buffett’s story. Their taxes are primarily on cap gains. They hurt the high-income — some whose net worth may not even be positive — and those they hire. The average rate paid by the top bracket has stayed strangely the same, at about 20%, with all the loopholes and tax avoidance measures, no matter what politicians have done. And in many cases, tax receipts have increased as levels decreased. The 70% levels, don’t forget, were predicated on much higher levels of income in present-day dollars than the top brackets now. If we went to a 70% level or higher, it’s likely that people would adjust for this and others would simply not work beyond these levels.

    And ultimately, there just aren’t enough people in the upper bracket to finance large spending amounts. Ultimately, the direction we head in is a VAT, which would be regressive and would hurt lower-income-earners most.

    So what drives most fiscal conservatism isn’t simply “I want to pay less” but a sense that income tax increases focused around the top bracket(s) aren’t going to solve the problem, that a VAT will hurt the poor and middle income, and that there has to be some other solution — typically, cutting spending, on some of the abuses detailed above and others.

    Many small business owners, who don’t have the resources to hire tax attorneys and shift money around or offshore the way the super-wealthy do, would be happy to sign on to legislation to get rid of the loopholes, so that government could actually collect 35-45% from the top bracket (depending on state tax differences). I would be happy to sign up to this. But the super-wealthy are the big-government donors — for both parties — so this will likely never happen. The people who do pay 45% currently, and who will be paying over 50% next year, aren’t the truly “wealthy.”

    Sorry to be longwinded. Bottom line — I don’t think Guy in Denver’s prediction about Jill was fair, but I don’t think Thomas is correct in suggesting that there isn’t a general relationship between financial success and fiscal conservatism.

  22. Henry
    Henry April 8, 2010 at 2:00 am |

    “Maybe I’m ignorant about this sort of thing. I’m certainly too lazy to educate myself about it right now. But I thought that roads and fire departments and public schools were for the most part funded with taxes other than federal income taxes (in this case, property taxes and state and local taxes, respectively).”

    You are partly right – state, local and specific taxes (e.g. gas tax) go to fund specific items. – the Congress then appropriates federal tax money to back up the exisiting state & local budgets – e.g. when they pass infrastructure legislation, or when they send money to local police depts. for equipment, or when they send money to schools for headstart programs, or when they grant money to fix sidewalks in my town or to help build a hosptial or any other project, the rest goes to defense, and other federal functions (homeland security, coast guard etc). The “entitlements” – Social Security and Medicare are funded through those payroll taxes) (or should be if they weren’t bankrupt) Unemployment comes from unemployment insurance paid in by workers.

    Here’s a couple pie charts – the first segregates the income tax from the other taxes (Social Sec., Medicare..) –
    http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm
    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/

    I consistently supported the progressive tax structure and have earned differing amounts of money over my life – I just agree with the way it’s being generally spent – so when I look at a hospital I say, wow that’s our really nice hospital we bought, so what if there isn’t a porsche in my driveway or 2 boats at the marina…it’s all status junk at some point – no one needs 7 figures of income

  23. Henry
    Henry April 8, 2010 at 2:01 am |

    meant to say “separate payroll taxes, not income tax”

  24. A Guy In Denver
    A Guy In Denver April 8, 2010 at 6:26 am |

    Also, I don’t think that people, even poor people, support regressive tax structures that make them pay more to the federal government when they really cannot afford it. Do you have any evidence to back up that contention?

    Yeah, the Republican Party and its ownership of those blue-collar voters, who regularly vote against their own economic interest. This is not new information.

  25. Sly
    Sly April 8, 2010 at 7:55 am |

    “Admittedly, some of this is out of self interest. But it’s also true that people don’t see this kind of policy being all that helpful. ”

    Except it is helpful. Placing the tax burden on the top earners imposes less of a detriment on overall economic growth because of diminishing marginal returns: Lower and middle-income people spend more, as a group, than high earners. So having a flat rate, or increasing the tax burden on lower and middle-income groups, reduces aggregate demand.

    Just because some people see progressive taxation as “unhelpful” doesn’t mean that they’re right.

    “So what drives most fiscal conservatism isn’t simply “I want to pay less” but a sense that income tax increases focused around the top bracket(s) aren’t going to solve the problem, that a VAT will hurt the poor and middle income, and that there has to be some other solution — typically, cutting spending, on some of the abuses detailed above and others.”

    Except that conservatives have fallen in love with the flat “Fair Tax” concept, which doesn’t have the VAT’s ability to prevent the development of an underground economy and, I’d argue, that both are just as inflationary and just as detrimental to the poor. Except “Fair Tax” is a sweet-sounding slogan.

  26. AuldBlackJack
    AuldBlackJack April 8, 2010 at 8:33 am |

    “Maybe I’m ignorant about this sort of thing. I’m certainly too lazy to educate myself about it right now.”

    Don’t be. Let me make it easy to start. The numbers are from 2006 and earlier, but the Fed Tax game is still played by the same rules…..a couple of 12 to 13 minute videos that gives the basics on the taxes you pay and how the top 1% avoid paying.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA1f2MefsMM

  27. LizM
    LizM April 8, 2010 at 8:56 am |

    Re: tax brackets, according to (my memory of) what I learned in Taxation class in law school, there was a time in which tax brackets were done differently so that your entire income would be part of one bracket. Under this scheme, which ended in the 50s, it actually was possible to get a raise and net less total money afterward than before. Why so many people believe it still works this way, I don’t know, although I do remember seeing the myth perpetuated in sitcoms and such in the 80s. Lots of people also think that they will have to pay capital gains taxes if they sell their house and buy a less expensive house, and this changed under Reagan. Does this suggest that lots of people have some sort of cognitive filter that only allows them to take in information about taxes that they consider unfair?

  28. VJBinCT
    VJBinCT April 8, 2010 at 9:15 am |

    Speaking of taxes, coming from CT, every time I visit my son in Virginia, I am shocked and astounded by having to pay sales tax on GROCERIES, fer gawd’s sake. The poster child of regressive taxes. I believe that this it not uncommon in Southern states. They would tax air, if they could, and the rich would breathe from scuba tanks filled up north. (Hopefully in New Jersey! Hah.)

  29. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler April 8, 2010 at 9:18 am |

    I actually came up with a plan in my head to eliminate the Federal personal income tax. It wouldn’t actually reduc the amount of people’s money that (eventually) goes to the government, and it might not make a significant difference to anyone’s paycheck, but by God it would let politicians claim to have gotten rid of income tax!

    (It accomplishes this in roughly the same way turning tax collection over to the Federal Taxation Authority accomplishes “eliminating the IRS,” but slightly less transparently.)

    Now, the Ostropoler Plan does somewhat “distribute taxes more equally,” which means raising taxes on the poor, but if you’re rich and heartless, that shouldn’t bother you.

  30. Flowers
    Flowers April 8, 2010 at 10:48 am |

    @VJBinCT – VA’s sales tax on groceries is lower than the regular sales tax, which is also much lower in VA than sales taxes in almost every other state that has sales taxes. Virginia has an annual personal property tax for cars, so much more money comes from expensive cars than from the poor buying ANYTHING at a grocery store. It is quite typical that I would pay less in overall sales tax for getting groceries and other necessaries at a store in VA than I would pay in TX (which has no taxes on food items, but a higher sales tax on other items). Also, in Texas, people with Porches don’t pay taxes on them, but people in VA do. VA is not out to get the poor. Taxation is a system, and it must be viewed as such.

    So once again, people, stop picking on the South if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!

  31. octogalore
    octogalore April 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm |

    Sly said: “Except it is helpful. Placing the tax burden on the top earners imposes less of a detriment on overall economic growth because of diminishing marginal returns: Lower and middle-income people spend more, as a group, than high earners. So having a flat rate, or increasing the tax burden on lower and middle-income groups, reduces aggregate demand.”

    Did you read what I wrote? I didn’t argue against placing more of a tax burden on high earners. I argued that this should be done by getting rid of loopholes that keep the net amounts paid by high earners at 20%, *rather than* raising the top bracket amounts in a way that hurts small businesspeople (who create 2/3 of new jobs) rather than entrenched business interest who can more easily evade tax increases. This strategy would yield more tax receipts in total, which is in everyone’s best interests.

    It doesn’t make sense for entrepreneurs without the ability to hire masses of tax attorneys or push the burden of tax increases onto consumers (higher prices) or employees (lower salaries or layoffs) to be paying 50% as a top marginal amount or an average of 40% over total income, where the truly wealthy are paying closer to 20%.

    Because the tax code as currently formulated is such that altering top marginal tax brackets impacts small business owners without accumulated wealth more so than the entrenched wealthy, it’s not actually “voting against interest” for blue collar workers to support maintaining brackets where they are while eliminating loopholes rather than altering the top brackets. The former strategy maximizes jobs while either maintaining or increasing total receipts — that’s very much in their interest.

  32. Jeff Kaufman
    Jeff Kaufman April 8, 2010 at 12:09 pm |

    @cathy:

    First, thank you for your explanation of how people can use overwitholding as a kind of savings system; I didn’t realize people did that or how it worked.

    Let me explain poor folks and income tax credits. “The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes.” You can get a big tax credit at the end of the year by not taking deductions on your W4.

    You’re describing a refund, not a tax credit.

    The poor aren’t getting one over on the rich in these cases, we are getting back what we overpaid

    This is true for tax refunds, you’re right. The 40% number, though, comes from “refundable tax credits”, biggest being the earned income tax credit (EITC). The way this works is that the amount you pay in taxes is reduced by the amount of the credit, and if that makes your amount negative, then the government pays you instead of you paying the government.

    Not everyone who can take the EITC does so; the IRS thinks this is 15-25% of eligible people.

  33. Jeff Kaufman
    Jeff Kaufman April 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

    Addendum: I don’t think the number of people getting the EITC is anywhere near 40%, though, so something’s screwy in the source math.

  34. JTD
    JTD April 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |

    I’m a little surprised by all the comments implying that tax money spent on public education is wasted, considering that the main problems* with the public education system come from it being HORRIBLY UNDERFUNDED. Here in Iowa, for example, we used to pride ourselves on having the best K12 schools in the country – now, after decades of dedicated work by our legislators to slash education funding whenever possible, we’re left with too few teachers, ballooning class sizes, inadequate salaries to attract new talent, incredibly outdated textbooks and curricula, the death rattle of arts programs, etc, etc… these are not problems that we solve by giving the schools EVEN LESS MONEY, which the attitude of “our tax dollars being spent on a muiserable public education system” implies.

    *(That is, “main” only if you don’t count the system’s despicable treatment of marginalized students of any kind, particularly students with disabilities, as we heard from William… but again, these are problems of the system that result from a LACK of money – failing to provide students with appropriate accommodations, hiring people with no idea how to handle anything other than their “very specific image of what a student should be like”)

  35. Manju
    Manju April 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

    Yeah, the Republican Party and its ownership of those blue-collar voters, who regularly vote against their own economic interest. This is not new information.

    This has long been a democratic party core belief, and even provides a critical link of movement conservatism to jim crow (while further disassociating dems from the original southern strategy which resulted in a virtually monolithically democratic south during the jim crow era). the repub base is essentially what the dixiecrat base was, the theory goes, only they are now voting against their economic interest because of divisive politics (first among them race) deployed by repubs to get the former democrats to vote for them.

    But the data does not support the claim. Various non-partisan scholars from richard johnson, byron schafer, and Larry Bartels to most recently Andrew Gelman, have crunched the numbers and concluded that those voters actually continue to vote democratic.

    Here’s Bartles:

    Has the white working class abandoned the Democratic Party? No. White voters in the bottom third of the income distribution have actually become more reliably Democratic in presidential elections over the past half-century, while middle– and upper-income white voters have trended Republican. Low-income whites have become less Democratic in their partisan identifications, but at a slower rate than more affluent whites – and that trend is entirely confined to the South, where Democratic identification was artificially inflated by the one-party system of the Jim Crow era.

  36. Matt
    Matt April 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm |

    The ?! (or !? or ‽) character is called–no joke–an interrobang.

  37. William
    William April 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm |

    the system’s despicable treatment of marginalized students of any kind, particularly students with disabilities, as we heard from William… but again, these are problems of the system that result from a LACK of money

    Yeah, thanks for explaining my experience to me an all, but you’re demonstrably wrong. Chicago spends a little over $11,000 per student per year these days, quite a bit above the national average. For several years, I know that my elementary education cost the state more than I paid to go to a private university a decade later. The problem was never a lack of money, it was a system in which money was poorly spent, in which money was thrown at schools which failed because the sainted teachers who staffed them had (with only a few exceptions) stopped giving a shit once they hit tenure. Sure, there are school systems which are underfunded and thats a problem, but a lot of very well funded public education is pretty atrocious.

    Take a look at Washington DC. Their official numbers put them at #3 in the nation for per-pupil spending, if you actually do the simple math and divide the total amount spend by number of students you get a figure that is about $10,000 over the national average. Somehow, despite the staggering amounts of money poured into the system, their school still perform quite poorly. Thats not a problem of funding but of management.

  38. William
    William April 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm |

    failing to provide students with appropriate accommodations, hiring people with no idea how to handle anything other than their “very specific image of what a student should be like”

    Seems I hit submit a bit too early. I know this might be a bit of a derail but goddamn why do you insist on explaining what my experience was to me? I spent five years in what are charitably termed “therapeutic day schools.” These are schools which are very expensive and which are specifically designed to deal with children who have special needs, for the kinds of students who schools claim they just can’t be expected to accommodate. We’re talking about schools with class sizes in the mid single digits, highly trained staff, and elaborately thought-out lesson plans. The first of these schools I was sent to in the late 80s cost almost $15,000 per year and the state paid for it. It was supposed to be a special environment for children with severe learning or emotional disabilities. What it actually was was a warehouse designed to contain problem students until such a time as they could be farmed out to a job at Burger King. I wasn’t taught how to read (I had to do that on my own), I wasn’t taught how to hold a pencil, I wasn’t taught how to multiply in my head or do long division. What I was taught, every day, was how my value as a human being was tied to my ability to follow rules and how my only hope for a happy life would be to make the people who would have to care for me until I died happy. My job, in essence, was to learn how to be less of a burden to others. Failure to comply with this central lesson resulted in a variety of behavioral interventions which ranged from losing hot lunch to being tackled by four adults and held in a restraint position until your limbs went numb (you know, to protect you from hurting yourself by going to the bathroom without permission).

    Eventually I got out of those schools and made my way to a very good program for “gifted” (because if you’re less then normal you’re a burden but if you have something someone else doesn’t then you’ve been given a “gift”) students. I got to spend three nice years there before I went to high school. I was accepted into a public magnet school in my area with unusually good funding and an award winning special education department. Sadly, I wasn’t (as one senior administrator put it) the kind of “huggy retard” they preferred. I asked questions, I didn’t follow directions well. I got good grades in most classes, the few teachers who bothered to engage me loved me, I was never dangerous, yet somehow by my third year of high school I needed to show up with a lawyer to keep myself in school.

    Its taken me years to see the relationship between these two different circumstances, I didn’t really get it until I was providing psychotherapy in a tough school in Chicago, but the money thrown at education in my city isn’t about teaching kids. Its about power and corruption. Teachers want their nice pension, they want their three or four “prep periods” a day (40 students in a class be damned, they need their time off, right?), they want students who will not make their lives difficult or unpredictable. Schools want students who will test well and make the school look good, who will care about the things that oversight bodies want students to care about. For this to happen students need to be beaten down early and often. The school I worked at had more security guards then English teachers. This isn’t about teaching students, its about churning out subjects.

    So, while I appreciate your attempt to explain to me what my experience really meant (regardless of whether thats what I saw), I’d like to respectfully ask you to go fuck yourself. Don’t presume to tell me what its like to be a disabled student in this country. Don’t presume to tell me that, even though every day of my life as proven otherwise, the system would like to have my best interests at heart. The only reasonable accommodation that could have been made for me was for schools to not be about controlling students in increasingly aggressive ways, giving them more money isn’t going to change that.

    /derail

  39. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 9, 2010 at 7:47 am |

    At the risk of an epic derail:

    William, I always love it when you show up on a thread, because far more often than not, I find that I agree with you. And I really dig your surgical strikes on ignorance. But here, and in the past on posts related to education….there’s just something missing. I agree that the problems that exist in public schools are not going to be solved merely by a higher budget, without taking into account how that budget is allocated. I’m also convinced that public schools are not monolithic; that they vary a great deal more than most other public institutions in their ability to do their work.

    My experience wasn’t anywhere near what yours was. I attended several schools in the course of my growing up (good and “eh”); about the only common thread was that (a)I was bullied at all of them (until I got some size on me, fought back, and developed a reputation for being able to pound the piss outta people….I was bullied because I was the new kid in town or neighborhood, I looked different (black hair and olive skin in bumfuck Illinois in the seventies wasn’t the hip look, lemme tellya….jeez, I usta beg my parents to move to Chicago, or at least Joliet…somewhere civilized), I was bright (eventually diagnosed as “gifted” and passed ahead a grade), and mostly quiet (dysfunctional alcoholic home, so I savored the relative quiet of school).

    Anyway….my education consisted mostly of being shuttled to the hallway into a “carrel” (heh…”corral” is more like it), given a more advanced book to work on (“independent study”), and just left there. I’d do whatever assignment I had, or sometimes a little more just to show off—but the lion’s share of my time in the “carrels” was devoted to daydreaming and doodling. And trying to forget about my dad’s drinking problem, my mother’s putting up with it, and the fact that no matter where we moved, people seemed to want to beat the shit out of me for no reason, ‘cuz I didn’t do anything to deserve that…and why do their parents say I can’t play with their kids? That sorta thing. Daydreaming was something I naturally gravitated to (I learned later about something called “ADD”).

    I can’t really say that I learned much in school. But…it wasn’t like I was getting much enrichment at home either. My parents’ attitude was very old school—-extracurricular activites are fine if you find your own way to do it (your own money, your own time, your own transportation to get there). Just get good grades. You can do “fun stuff” when you’re an adult. I learned to read somehow when I was two. I just….did. Don’t know how I did it. My folks would trot me out like a trained monkey (and yes, I know that’s uncharitable…but really, that’s what it felt like) to perform….read the newspaper or something for people who didn’t really believe I could read.

    Now flash forward a couple-a decades. I’m Someone’s Mother. My daughter is bright, but learning disabled. I am one of many legions of parents going through the long rigamarole of getting an IEP, hell, an accurate diagnosis besides “LD”….it’s a grind. She has dreams of being a wildlife biologist. Meanwhile, she just learned how to read last year (she’s 10—she reads pretty well now…loves the “Warriors” series about the fighting clans of cats), and she still struggles with the basics of addition and subtraction. She still reverses numbers and letters at times (no, she hasn’t been diagnosed with dyslexia, though it’s something I’ve been telling the school since she was six…)

    I’m a working class woman. Not poor. The distinction is salient. I’m not going to quailfy for any assistance in the private sector, but at the same time, can’t afford the high price of admission to tony private schools or elite suburban schools. I do what I can. My daughter gets all the “extras” I can afford, with a special eye on anything animal-related (like zoo classes, road trips to hike in the woods, whatever). Part of that stuff is out of reach because of logistics—the local zoo has classes in the summer, but they’re partial-day and partial-week. No way to get her there, and she’s too young to go herself (in Illinois, you can be prosecuted for child neglect if you have a latchkey kid under the age of 13).

    William, because of your experiences as a young person in school and in your professional life, I would really like to hear your prescription for what needs to change. Seriously….I would love an epic derail or a guest post (hint, hint. *psst* Jill, piny, Chally, Lauren, anybody out there—give this man a forum!). Specifically, I’d like to hear not just the “ideal” ideas, but actual on-the-ground workable ideas that the average parent (and average single parent) can make work for their kids’ education. While I have an intellectual affinity for John Gatto, his solution (homeschooling) is totally unworkable for me and most people I know.

    I get my back up when folks criticize “public schools” in general, not because there aren’t things worth criticizing (OMG there are—don’t get me started), but it highlights a certain vulnerability. There are so many powerful conservative people who would like to see public schools abolished as a matter of course, and not because they want free, critical thinkers. They want the state of education to be much worse than it is now. My daughter has had at least one “meh” teacher, probably a couple, but for the most part she’s had some real kick-ass ones. And she attends a Title I school. She wouldn’t have found that at the local fundamentalist schools, nor at the local Catholic schools. She would have been their “problem child” for her struggles. Vouchers aren’t going to do shit in downstate Illinois, and I have a big problem with vouchers going to schools with mandatory religious instruction.

    Basically William, I’d like to hear your thoughts, ‘cuz I think you have a lot to say.

  40. Modest Granny
    Modest Granny April 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm |

    La Lubu,

    I won’t go into all my experiences with this subject. I’ll just tell you I’m a greatgrandmother who has five in the family with ADD (and yes, I dealt with it before they had a label for it). I don’t know yet if the greatgrandlittles have it.

    I adopted two grandsons and raised them because it was best for them and all others involved. I ended up homeschooling them for five years to be sure they had a strong base for education and weren’t influenced about their “self” by the ignorance I saw in some, but not all, educators. Religion had nothing to do with my homeschooling. I’m not in favor of homeschooling unless it’s absolutely necessary and the parents work with the state education system.

    What I see as the problem is not one simple to solve. Some educators, especially some administrators, are in need of an attitude adjustment. The money used to that purpose would be well spent. What William experienced was, to me, not being allowed his human dignity. It’s far easier to control a child’s behavior than to do the work to discover how to direct the child’s energy in a positive way.

    “Good” teachers are heroes, in my opinion. You can recognize them by asking your child if the teacher likes her, not if she likes the teacher.

  41. William
    William April 9, 2010 at 10:33 pm |

    But here, and in the past on posts related to education….there’s just something missing.

    You know, the more I think about it, you’re absolutely correct. One of the primary reasons I lean classically liberal (not really code for Libertarian, given the general foolishness of that whole scene) is certainly a reaction to my experience as a student. Its hard to get past the inchoate rage, its hard to get past some of the worse things I had to experience that are still very raw. So yes, there is something missing when I talk about education because I still have trouble getting past that initial rage.

    I’d certainly like to talk about the issue of education with a bit more depth but I’m not sure I want to have my own issues kick off that kind of derail without the blessing of the people who have a lot more claim to this space than I do.

  42. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 10, 2010 at 9:14 am |

    So yes, there is something missing when I talk about education because I still have trouble getting past that initial rage.

    Understood. By your responses here on Feministe, you strike me as someone who is capable of channeling your anger in a conscious way, using it productively instead of merely destructively (….which…is sometimes necessary as well, but an overused tactic. Overused by me, anyway!). I’m still trying to learn that—-using anger productively. It’s a challenge.

    Anyway, I think you’re uniquely situated to provide perspective on the worst abuses, as well as an outsider’s/”insider’s” view of the structural apparatus that keeps the institution the way it is (for U.S. readers, anyway).

    Which reminds me…not to make it all about the U.S., but I really think my nation has a…problem with education in general. Anti-intellectualism has an honored place in this society that I don’t see elsewhere. Being a highly educated person here is thought to make one a weaker person, not stronger. I think a good part of our problems with our educational system stem from that legacy.

    William, I’ve got a request in for you to have a guest post; I hope all the good folks at Feministe give you an invite.

  43. Terri Wolfe
    Terri Wolfe April 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm |

    Within all of the comments I read I failed to see an recognition that before it was tax money it was someones income. You can list all of the worthy causes that you think justifies confiscating others income but I fear the default action has become: Take it from the smaller number of wealthy voters and give it to the larger number of pliable voters. We will always find victims of unfairness that we can take someones money to fix. So far this year the money the government promised to spend hasn’t even been earned by my 2 year old grand daughter. That is most frightening.

  44. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm |

    Within all of the comments I read I failed to see an recognition that before it was tax money it was someones income.

    I dunno; it’s called “income tax” (it’s right in the name) so I’d say either that’s acknowledgment or someone is pretty crap at hiding things… :p

    I will be interested to see Jill’s views on taxation and the fair share of the rich in twenty or thirty years, when she’s a partner at a big firm with a low seven-digit income and an annual tax bill equal to all the money she made in her 20s.

    This is so silly. People aren’t incapable of doing slightly unpleasant things (even voluntarily!) in the interest of supporting the greater good. This year my income taxes increased infinite percent (I got an income!) and it was quite a shock to write such large-seeming checks to the IRS, but when I started getting fussy about it (“this sucks! Why do I have to pay stupid taxes!”) then I went and rode my public bus to work and spent the day in a lab funded by the NIH and was like “OH YEAH. That would be why.”

    (Also, I would *love* to have the “problem” of paying more taxes than I make right now. Seriously, rich people, if the burden of all that money is weighing on you there are poor grad students out there who are willing to help…)

  45. William
    William April 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm |

    Within all of the comments I read I failed to see an recognition that before it was tax money it was someones income.

    You know, I agree that the income tax is probably a bad thing in a lot of cases (though for what I assume are somewhat different reasons), but seriously. Yeah, its someone else’s income, but that ship has been sailed for generations now. Taxation is mugging and all that, but the argument is kind of shitty given how deeply entrenched it is in our society. Its someone else’s income if its drawn at the paycheck, the point of sale, or the capital gain. Thats what a tax is.

    You can list all of the worthy causes that you think justifies confiscating others income but I fear the default action has become: Take it from the smaller number of wealthy voters and give it to the larger number of pliable voters

    Hey, welcome to the economy. Here we trade goods and services. Somewhere along the line is a person with a gun who takes a bit off the top and redistributes it in a manner so as to maintain and propagate their power. I know you get all lost in labels but the bottom line is that as long as you have power you’ll have some kind of redistribution through theft. In this society we call it a tax and use it to fund dubious public utilities. In other societies they call it tribute and use it to pay for wine and robes, or they call it courtesy and use it to pay for a new TV for whatever bureaucrat who collected it. Thats the nature of living with other people. The default action hasn’t “become” confiscation and redistribution, its always been confiscation and redistribution. Its been that way since long before we mastered fire and started writing down stories about how wonderful we are. I can understand arguing about taxes, but you’re so lost in theory that you’ve forgotten about the world you live in.

    We will always find victims of unfairness that we can take someones money to fix.

    For a tax protester you seem awfully naive…

    So far this year the money the government promised to spend hasn’t even been earned by my 2 year old grand daughter. That is most frightening.

    How…concrete. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m probably one of the more anti-tax people you’ll find here, but your reasoning just doesn’t follow. You’re assuming that the money the government has promised to spend is real. This isn’t an equity backed economy, dollars are an abstract concept, a bet on the future of the US government. No one has promised a penny that your granddaughter might make and there is no guarantee that the money she makes will be involved in the money the government is spending today. A significant amount of the money the government is proposing to spend could well end up not getting spent because of changes in law, repeals, changes in circumstance, or changes in the relative value of the dollar.

    If you’re opposed to taxes, thats fine. I’m pretty opposed to taxes. Just do us all a favor and be honest about your motives. This isn’t about your granddaughter, its about you. Thats OK. Maybe you dislike how (fictional) money is being spent. Maybe you dislike policy. Maybe the idea of the government putting a gun to someone’s head and demanding a cut is offensive to you and you think it ought to be kept to a bare minimum. Those are useful discussions. Whinging about fictions just makes you sound like a teabagger looking for somewhere to squat.

  46. William
    William April 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm |

    Within all of the comments I read I failed to see an recognition that before it was tax money it was someones income.

    You know, I agree that the income tax is probably a bad thing in a lot of cases (though for what I assume are somewhat different reasons), but seriously. Yeah, its someone else’s income, but that ship has been sailed for generations now. Taxation is mugging and all that, but the argument is kind of shitty given how deeply entrenched it is in our society. Its someone else’s income if its drawn at the paycheck, the point of sale, or the capital gain. Thats what a tax is.

    You can list all of the worthy causes that you think justifies confiscating others income but I fear the default action has become: Take it from the smaller number of wealthy voters and give it to the larger number of pliable voters

    Hey, welcome to the economy. Here we trade goods and services. Somewhere along the line is a person with a gun who takes a bit off the top and redistributes it in a manner so as to maintain and propagate their power. I know you get all lost in labels but the bottom line is that as long as you have power you’ll have some kind of redistribution through theft. In this society we call it a tax and use it to fund dubious public utilities. In other societies they call it tribute and use it to pay for wine and robes, or they call it courtesy and use it to pay for a new TV for whatever bureaucrat who collected it. Thats the nature of living with other people. The default action hasn’t “become” confiscation and redistribution, its always been confiscation and redistribution. Its been that way since long before we mastered fire and started writing down stories about how wonderful we are. I can understand arguing about taxes, but you’re so lost in theory that you’ve forgotten about the world you live in.

    We will always find victims of unfairness that we can take someones money to fix.

    For a tax protester you seem awfully naive…

    So far this year the money the government promised to spend hasn’t even been earned by my 2 year old grand daughter. That is most frightening.

    How…concrete. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m probably one of the more anti-tax people you’ll find here, but your reasoning just doesn’t follow. You’re assuming that the money the government has promised to spend is real. This isn’t an equity backed economy, dollars are an abstract concept, a bet on the future of the US government. No one has promised a penny that your granddaughter might make and there is no guarantee that the money she makes will be involved in the money the government is spending today. A significant amount of the money the government is proposing to spend could well end up not getting spent because of changes in law, repeals, changes in circumstance, or changes in the relative value of the dollar.

    If you’re opposed to taxes, thats fine. I’m pretty opposed to taxes. Just do us all a favor and be honest about your motives. This isn’t about your granddaughter, its about you. Thats OK. Maybe you dislike how (fictional) money is being spent. Maybe you dislike policy. Maybe the idea of the government putting a gun to someone’s head and demanding a cut is offensive to you and you think it ought to be kept to a bare minimum. Those are useful discussions. Whinging about fictions just makes you sound like a teabagger looking for somewhere to squat.

  47. Terri Wolfe
    Terri Wolfe April 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm |

    William
    Really? “Whinging about fictions just makes you sound like a teabagger looking for somewhere to squat.” At least you have learned how to make your personal attacks subtle.
    So your saying the projected debts are imaginary and no one will be on the hook for the payoff that may never happen. I’m so relieved. Of course the only way it will happen your way is if we stop it from being spent. So join me in stopping the mayhem.

  48. SilverKitten
    SilverKitten April 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm |

    Actually, it was damn near impossible to get my dad to understand we would likely get more back this year, for some reason (likely his constant listening to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck) he thinks he is middle class and therefore will have more taxes to pay. It’s a factory job and I am pretty sure a factory worker is not in the $300,000 range, and that I see his financials every year for my FAFSA.

    I think there’s a Tea Party meeting tomorrow in my city and I’m pretty sure the ones in my classes that are attending it think they’re being over taxed. You’re a university student and admitted to having a low paying job, why fight the government that’s giving you a giant tax break and being able to keep your house?

    I find it disgusting all the propaganda that is being used to create fear in people who don’t need to worry. It boggles the mind the number of people I have run into who think they’re going to be overtaxed.

  49. Terri Wolfe
    Terri Wolfe April 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm |

    SilverKitten, you do understand that what you “get back” is based on how much you overpaid your income taxes throughout the year right? It doesn’t change what you actually pay. Getting more backs means you gave the government a free loan.
    If you consider any government spending wasteful then you are overtaxed. It is not propaganda to say the current and planned spending by the feds will put us $trillions in the hole and that is after increasing taxes on the less than 50% of the citizens that actually pay income taxes. I have no doubt that your dad is correct in believing even his meager income will be hit.

  50. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm |

    Terri, you are in luck! Here are twelve nations without income taxes:
    Andorra
    Bahamas
    Brunei
    Kuwait
    Maldives
    Monaco
    Nauru
    Oman
    Qatar
    United Arab Emirates
    Vanuatu

    Go ahead…..start packing!

  51. Terri Wolfe
    Terri Wolfe April 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm |

    La Lubu, why do you assume I feel the correct level of income tax is $0. I am all for paying my share when it is spent where the Constitution says it is proper. With all the entitlements we continue to pile on the backs of taxpayers the idea of limited federal government, lost under FDR, now seem abnormal. We can not afford every “worthy” cause let alone something that will cost TRILLIONS borrowed from China. Oh wait China doesn’t want our crappy dollars without a significant increase in interest. That will help the deficit.

  52. A Guy In Denver
    A Guy In Denver April 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm |

    SilverKitten, your friends are looking into the future. Yeah, they don’t pay taxes now. But they expect to get or create good jobs and earn a living in the future, and they worry about being overtaxed then.

  53. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 14, 2010 at 6:44 am |

    I am all for paying my share when it is spent where the Constitution says it is proper.

    The Constitution is not etched in stone. It was intended to be a living document, changing to fit the needs of our changing nation. One of those changes is that, unlike at the time the Constitution was written, this country was a small, agrarian nation. Much of the population made their living via subsistence farming. That is no longer the case. Keeping the role of the federal goverment to that which is practical for a tiny nation of subsistence farmers, mostly illiterate, is not practical or desirable now.

    Come to think of it, with a name like “Terri Wolfe”, you’re probably a woman. You are aware that you do not have the same protections in the Constitution that men do, right? That you are in fact, a second-class citizen under the Constitution? Are you comfortable with that? I’m not.

    With all the entitlements we continue to pile on the backs of taxpayers the idea of limited federal government, lost under FDR, now seem abnormal.

    Oh, well, now you may as well be talking to the wall. I think we need a return to the government programs of FDR that put people to work and put food on the table. Funny how all the teabaggers are against that, yet not one “tea party” took place during either term of the Bush administration with all those federal dollars being used to support wars against nations that were no threat to the United States. No…when did the tax protests start? When access to healthcare was getting extended to working class people.

    From what I can see, the teabaggers are all about keeping hegemonic power. “Limited federal government” and/or “State’s Rights” is code for freedom of states and local governments to discriminate against people with little relative power. You can dress that up in whatever fancy language you want, but that’s the long and short of it—creating/recreating feudal baronhoods of various size.

    Do you want a nation? Or do you want a feudal baronhood? Because the other industrialized/industrializing nations have all decided “nation”—and are leaving the U.S. in the dust because they (unlike the U.S.) invest in their nation and their people.

  54. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 14, 2010 at 7:40 am |

    We can not afford every “worthy” cause let alone something that will cost TRILLIONS borrowed from China.

    We borrowed those TRILLIONS from China (and Saudi Arabia) thanks to the last administration–eight years of a GOP President and we’ve got debt up to our ears. Ironic, really.

    And that debt? Was caused by huge tax cuts, an unwarranted invasion and resulting occupation of Iraq, and the creation/expansion of government programs and departments that focused on “security” and the further encroachment of government/law enforcement into our private lives. Oddly enough, anti-tax conservatives uttered nary a peep while all this was happening.

  55. William
    William April 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm |

    Really? “Whinging about fictions just makes you sound like a teabagger looking for somewhere to squat.” At least you have learned how to make your personal attacks subtle.

    I’ve never been much for mincing words.

    So your saying the projected debts are imaginary and no one will be on the hook for the payoff that may never happen.

    What I’m saying is be direct and honest. This isn’t about your granddaughter because you have no idea what the situation she faces will be. She might not live to pay taxes, she might not live in this country, she might be disabled, she might not grow up to live in the same country you live in today even if she never moves, the government could default, the economy could rebound, China could implode, circumstances could change which make our current monetary structure and the concept of debt irrelevant. The world is full of variables that no one could possibly be expected to track.

    That suggests, to me, that you’re using your granddaughter as a feint. There is something you’re not saying. Perhaps you’re uncomfortable with arguing from a place of self-interest. I don’t know (I can’t know because you haven’t said), but one cannot begin to engage in a useful discussion until one is actually saying what they mean.

  56. William
    William April 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm |

    We borrowed those TRILLIONS from China (and Saudi Arabia) thanks to the last administration–eight years of a GOP President and we’ve got debt up to our ears. Ironic, really.

    And that debt? Was caused by huge tax cuts, an unwarranted invasion and resulting occupation of Iraq, and the creation/expansion of government programs and departments that focused on “security” and the further encroachment of government/law enforcement into our private lives. Oddly enough, anti-tax conservatives uttered nary a peep while all this was happening.

    Theres also the elephant in the room that no one really talks about in discussions of tax and debt. Money is subjective, value is subjective. Fiat currency is essentially a bet that the issuing State will survive long enough for you to spend it. When we “borrow” money from China (or Saudi Arabia) we’re making a bet, we’re making the bet that what we get will be of greater value than the currency we will eventually use to pay for it. China, on the other hand, is betting that what they get back will be worth more than what they lent. In order for that to work, however, the US dollar has to be doing well enough to be worth it. Even if China’s bet pays off, the US is doing better.

    In the worst case scenario (a default) nothing really terrible happens. Sure, there will be economic fall out and less credit available, but China has no means of compelling payment. They have no power to enforce their debt. That makes the debt and essentially imaginary debt, repayment is voluntary and the rate of interest is negotiable. People imagine that the debt of nations is somehow like personal debt, but we are not talking about a mortgage. There is no state with police carrying guns and eviction orders. Relationships between nations are based upon handshakes and hope, and ultimately all that matters is who has the military capacity to enforce their interests.

  57. Terri Wolfe
    Terri Wolfe April 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm |

    Since it seems that a couple of you insist on relying on a sexual insult like “teabagger” tells me your arguments are as weak as your minds. There is obviously no way to maintain a civil exchange so I bid you all a farewell.
    As a parting shot I want to say how tired I am of the evil Bush BS and the deficit is Bushes fault. Maybe reality will catch up to you as you grow up. It took me a few years but I am grateful for the riches this country has to offer. Second class citizen? I doubt it.
    You think the US Constitution is a living document? Well sort of. It can and always has been modified using the amendment process. Using the courts to make up rights out of whole cloth is not right. To simplistic for you? Seems right to me.
    I don’t need to use my granddaughter as an excuse. Your litany of what ifs made me think of an old saying. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you have such a hard time seeing past next week I understand why you want the welfare state to continue and expand. You want me to pay for your upkeep.
    TaTa

  58. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 14, 2010 at 8:18 pm |

    Since it seems that a couple of you insist on relying on a sexual insult like “teabagger” tells me your arguments are as weak as your minds.

    That is what individuals in the movement call themselves.

    As a parting shot I want to say how tired I am of the evil Bush BS and the deficit is Bushes fault.

    Guilty conscience? Who in this thread said that Bush was evil? We’re merely pointing out the fact that he is responsible for re-creating the federal deficit, the deficit that Clinton erased. This is about as controversial as saying the sun rises in the east.

    Using the courts to make up rights out of whole cloth is not right.

    If you are a woman, you can thank the courts for “making up” the following “rights out of whole cloth”:

    the right to own property in your own name
    the right to have credit in your own name
    actually, the right to have your own name
    the right to use birth control
    equal opportunity to get an education
    the right to keep a job when pregnant
    the right to stay in school when pregnant
    the right to hold “a man’s job”

    and many more at this phenomenal blog.

    Get it? If you, as a woman, have ever enjoyed any of those rights, rest assured they did not stem from the Constitution. Women do not have equal protection under the law under the U.S. Constitution, period. We don’t. So, if you aren’t about the courts granting greater rights, then you better hop to it and get back in the kitchen and rattle those pots and pans, sister!

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