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  #51  
Old 08-28-2019, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
Obama is clearly hypocritical, he recently said in a speech "There’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so big a house you can have. There’s only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it’s enough.”
He also said "I mean, it shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more, instead of saying, ‘Wow, I’ve got so much. Who can I help? How can I give more and more and more?’ "
In that same speech, he said that he was surprised by how much money he had, and that people didn't need to take a vow of poverty to help others. He was criticizing those people with lots of money that fight to avoid paying taxes or otherwise give back to their communities; that is different than having lots of money and helping people even while you are basking in success.

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I should add, by the way, right now I'm actually surprised by how much money I got, and let me tell you something: I don't have half as much as most of these folks or a tenth or a hundredth. There's only so much you can eat. There's only so big a house you can have. (Cheers and applause.) There's only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it's enough. (Laughter.) You don't have to take a vow of poverty just to say, "Well, let me help out and let a few of the other folks – let me look at that child out there who doesn't have enough to eat or needs some school fees, let me help him out. I'll pay a little more in taxes. It's okay. I can afford it." (Cheers and applause.)
I mean, it shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more, instead of saying, "Wow, I've got so much. Who can I help? How can I give more and more and more?" (Cheers and applause.) That's ambition. That's impact. That's influence. What an amazing gift to be able to help people, not just yourself. (Applause.) Where was I? I ad-libbed. (Laughter.) You get the point.
(Emphasis added)

Note that he is not saying that people shouldn't have big houses, lots of food, or nice trips - he's just saying that there are other ways to use your wealth that have a greater impact and value than yet another home, meal, or trip can provide.
  #52  
Old 08-28-2019, 01:56 PM
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None of this shows any hypocrisy.
It is hypocritical to criticize people for building a big house instead of giving the money to charity and then buying a big house instead of giving the money to charity.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:00 PM
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Is my math here wrong, or is it accurate to say that it's actually pretty damn easy to turn $10 mil into $11 mil in 5 years?
It's accurate. You don't even need a 3% annual return, and even in today's environment you can get 3% on $10 million pretty much risk-free.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
It is hypocritical to criticize people for building a big house instead of giving the money to charity and then buying a big house instead of giving the money to charity.
He didn't "criticize people for building a big house".
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:02 PM
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It's accurate. You don't even need a 3% annual return, and even in today's environment you can get 3% on $10 million pretty much risk-free.
Thanks. If accurate, then this means any idiot who inherits $10 million can pretty easily live a very comfortable lifestyle without doing any work at all. In my experience, there are indeed a significant number of trust-fund babies who live comfortable lives while doing very little that's productive for society.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:09 PM
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I always wondered what “pay your Fare Share” is? What number or percentage is Fare? Just asking.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:33 PM
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If you have not had the same success as Micheal Jordan it was not because he had access to a separate infrastructure but that he used the shared infrastructure in a more productive way.
Of course he did, he very effectively used the infrastructure that HE DIDN'T BUILD* to earn lots and lots of money. He was way better at it than me, that's for sure.

Do you have a point that doesn't support that Obama quote? Because, as you noted so eloquently in your earlier post, Obama said "you didn't build that" not "you had access to a separate infrastructure". Do you have any information to suggest that Michael Jordan had any part in building the arena he played in, the roads and transit of Chicago, or the cargo transport infrastructure of our great nation?



*I also had little to no part in building any of the large infrastructure projects that allowed me to get an education and hold down a job.
  #58  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:45 PM
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Thanks. If accurate, then this means any idiot who inherits $10 million can pretty easily live a very comfortable lifestyle without doing any work at all. In my experience, there are indeed a significant number of trust-fund babies who live comfortable lives while doing very little that's productive for society.
And they probably piss and moan about having to pay $100K in taxes on the $300K they earn every year for doing jackshit.

(But gosh, I shouldn't have said that, because now some conservative will cite it as evidence that we liberals hate the wealthy.)
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:46 PM
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What this misses is that the public infrastructure is the same for everyone. I grew up with a basketball hoop in my backyard, just like Micheal Jordan did. He was able to put that infrastructure to better use than I did. Bezos uses the same public roads to deliver packages that the rest of us use. He used those roads to build a internet delivery empire and I have used them to go back and forth to the supermarket.
Exactly. And in 1996, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown died in a plane crash in Croatia trying to get Billy's dad a job at the factory there. Oh wait, no he didn't. He died while trying to identify investment opportunities in the former Yugoslavia for wealthy Americans.

But remember, all of the federally-funded public/private research collaboration that takes place in American universities is published and then placed in public trust for equal benefit to all citizens. Oh wait, that's not true either.

But of course, the FBI has equal interest in investigating all crimes. Oh wait, nope, you have to demonstrate a loss of at least $10,000 for the FBI to touch your cybercrime report.

You have to have some pretty sturdy blinders on to believe that services offered by the government are of equal benefit to everyone at all levels of society.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:49 PM
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I know how tax brackets work- basically everyone's taxed the same on each increment of income- Jerry Jones pays the same amount of tax on the first 50k of his income as someone who makes 51k, for example. The argument is about when it's all said and done, and averaged out, not at each bracket.
Then that argument relies on looking at raw numbers, rather than percentages. Each person pays the same percentage of their income in taxes, but not the same amount. I think we agree on that; the issue is whether this is fair.

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I also think it's a mistake to look at it in a way that implies that people with more money somehow derived more advantage from the taxes they paid than others have. That's just flat out not true. I mean, I went to a private school for high school. I didn't gain ANY benefit from the school tax my parents paid for those 4 years. And I didn't gain any LESS benefit from the taxes paid to subsidize my college education at a state school than someone making three times my salary who went to the same school did- we got the same exact thing- a break of X amount per credit hour that was effectively subsidized by the taxpayers.

The only place that the "more to lose" notion comes into play is when public safety comes into play, and even there, it's dubious. I mean, if my house burned down or was burgled, it's more expensive than a low income one, but I'm also in a considerably better position to make those losses good, having some amount of financial reserves and insurance, which is not something people on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale have. Look at it this way, is it a bigger deal for a guy making $500k a year to have his million dollar mansion burn down, or for a guy making $40k have his $80k house burn down? Whose life is going to be MORE impacted if the fire department isn't there to put out the fire?
Since the thread is about very wealthy people, I think your focus is too narrow. We aren't talking about people who make $500 a year; we are talking about people earnings tens of millions. And when you get to that point, your wealth is nearly always the product of other people's labor (as others have noted, even individual athletes and celebrities need other people to do their jobs in order for them to make their income) - thus, you are very reliant on the society that has ensured that those people are educated, healthy, and well adjusted before they come to you for work, on the streets, roads, and broadband that lets you do business, the laws and enforcement mechanisms that make your deals enforceable, et al. This is a dependency far above that of an individual who is earning a working wage while employed by another.

(And, more fundamentally, I disagree that you did not get any benefit from the taxes used to fund education while you went to a private school or attended a public university; education directly ties into being able to earn a living, which directly ties into abiding by laws and customs; you walked down the street and didn't get robbed? Maybe your (parents) taxes towards education played a role).

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The argument still comes down to the idea that rich people have more for the government to take without it causing them pain than poorer people do. All the rest of this is basically rationalization.
I think the argument boils down to, 'we need to have certain things paid for' (with an acknowledgement that those 'things' are subject to debate), and therefore we need to figure out how to get the money, and the fairest system is to make everybody equally responsible for giving the same proportion as everybody else, with the understanding that people with more will, by virtue of how proportions work, give a larger absolute share.

And why is that fair? Because it treats people the same (I don't agree that wealth should be categorized different for who inherit it and those who 'earned' it). And to the extent that people do pay a larger absolute number, they are doing so because they are more able to without having to make sacrifices, and because they have more vested in ensuring that the system they utilize remains functional.
  #61  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:57 PM
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Let's just start with the obvious: nobody at fox news cares about understanding the liberal position unless they can use that understanding to better attack it. It continues to be a right-wing propaganda network. They will not give democrats a fair shake on anything, because their job is to support the right wing. Any analysis they have on left-wing positions is going to necessarily be in bad faith, because everything they write is in bad faith. I mean, look at this fucking bullshit:



Anyone who could read this line without having their bullshit detector go off is the kind of person who loses their savings to 419 scams and fucking deserves it.



Anyone still reading after this fucking whopper should hit up a neurologist, as they may qualify as legally braindead and therefore no longer need to pay taxes.

So yeah, blatant, obvious bad-faith bullshit; this is a question we should never have to ask about Fox News. Obama is, fundamentally, a capitalist. A capitalist who made some pushes towards progressive ideology, but fundamentally someone who believes in capitalism, believes in wealth, believes in the ethics of people becoming unreasonably wealthy - just look at him becoming unreasonably wealthy. Any claim that he's somehow a "socialist" or that, as the article states, spent time "demonizing everyone else's success", is akin to claims that he went on an apology tour - whoever you're talking to is at best dumber than a sack of pig shit and at worst a lying sack of pig shit (no points for guessing which this Fox News opinion writer is), and neither is worth engaging with on any level unless you're somehow sentimentally attached to them, and even then only to give yourself a damn good reason to no longer be sentimentally attached to them.

That said... I don't agree with "the liberal position" on wealth. I don't think there is a coherent position at play here, and I don't think the position laid out in the OP is particularly convincing.

You can buy a really nice home for a million dollars. Like, a really nice home. Nicer than most millenials will probably ever manage to afford. For 15 times that, you could buy a really nice home and draw countless people out of poverty. It's the same fundamental problem was with Bezos's billions - it's basically just immoral to be rich. Every dollar Obama spent on a McMansion in a posh neighborhood is a dollar that wasn't spent saving someone's life. It's very nearly the same problem as with Bernie Sanders being a millionaire, except Obama was never (and never pretended to be) a socialist, despite the insane ravings of the bad-faith right-wing crowd.
That’s not how dollars work. You realize it’s not a lack of currency that is to blame for how productivity and resources are allocated?
  #62  
Old 08-28-2019, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum
Obama is clearly hypocritical, he recently said in a speech "There’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so big a house you can have. There’s only so many nice trips you can take.”
You may have misunderstood him. He said "you", not "I".

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  #63  
Old 08-28-2019, 03:20 PM
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Suppose I invest a million dollars into starting a business, providing the entirety of its capital. But I don't otherwise lift a finger. The business isn't my idea and I don't perform the labor or any management role. What should be my return? What proportion should go to labor? What proportion to whoever had the idea for the business? Those are the actually relevant questions in this thread, since the proportion of return to investment capital is almost the entire ballgame on wealth and the politics of wealth.

I see three principled positions in American political life:

(1) Lefty: we should answer those questions in terms of moral desert, and capitalists don't deserve a significant return on investment.

(2) Liberal: we should answer those questions empirically by asking how much return each of the players needs to get in order to maximize the size of the economic pie without creating a level of inequality that damages society more than the cost of a smaller economic pie.

(3) Conservative/libertarian: we don't need to answer those questions collectively. because people decide it voluntarily.

I am a liberal because I don't think there's any especially persuasive way to get at what each of the people involved morally deserves and because conservatives/libertarians miss the fact that the voluntary arrangements are highly influenced by the choices we collectively make about our laws and our society. So we do eventually have to take a position on the question, one way or another. They just tend to take the position, by default or otherwise, that the people with the most wealth should set the rules and then let those rules play out in predictable ways.

Last edited by Richard Parker; 08-28-2019 at 03:22 PM.
  #64  
Old 08-28-2019, 03:39 PM
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Then that argument relies on looking at raw numbers, rather than percentages. Each person pays the same percentage of their income in taxes, but not the same amount. I think we agree on that; the issue is whether this is fair.
I think we're talking about two different things- what I'm trying to say is that while a person making 100k in taxable income and a person making 20k in taxable income are taxed identically on their first 20k, in overall tax percentage, that person making 100k is taxed roughly 18% of their income overall, while the person making 20k is taxed roughly 11% of their income.

The 100k person is in the 24% tax bracket, meaning that the part of his income above and beyond $84,200 is taxed at 24%. Meanwhile the 20k person is in the 12% tax bracket, meaning that the part of his income above $9700 is taxed at 12%.

What you're trying to say is that if you compare Daddy Warbucks and a person making $10/hr, they're going to be taxed identically on the same amount of taxable income- i.e. their tax brackets are the same. Which is true. But that doesn't mean they pay the same overall percentage in taxes... not by a long chalk.

http://www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm

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Since the thread is about very wealthy people, I think your focus is too narrow. We aren't talking about people who make $500 a year; we are talking about people earnings tens of millions. And when you get to that point, your wealth is nearly always the product of other people's labor (as others have noted, even individual athletes and celebrities need other people to do their jobs in order for them to make their income) - thus, you are very reliant on the society that has ensured that those people are educated, healthy, and well adjusted before they come to you for work, on the streets, roads, and broadband that lets you do business, the laws and enforcement mechanisms that make your deals enforceable, et al. This is a dependency far above that of an individual who is earning a working wage while employed by another.
That's just as true of me today (not rich in any way), as it is for someone who's fantastically rich. All that stuff benefits me- I need streets, broadband and law enforcement just as much as a rich guy. And just as much as a poor person as well- are you trying to say that we (the not-super-rich) don't need roads as much as say... Mark Cuban? Or that broadband is more integral to T. Boone Pickens' life than mine?

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(And, more fundamentally, I disagree that you did not get any benefit from the taxes used to fund education while you went to a private school or attended a public university; education directly ties into being able to earn a living, which directly ties into abiding by laws and customs; you walked down the street and didn't get robbed? Maybe your (parents) taxes towards education played a role).
What I was saying is that the money my parents paid in school tax when I was in high school did NOT go to pay for my education. I didn't derive any direct benefit from it.

But everyone derives the SAME benefit from it when you get to these nebulous indirect benefits- unless your stuff catches fire, everyone derives the same benefit from the fire department being funded. Same for police- the dividends of law and order are mostly equal- my neighbors don't somehow benefit more or less proportionately from it based on whatever difference there are in our incomes. It's like saying that bigger plants benefit more or less than smaller plants from rainfall, which is untrue. What you can say is that when rainfall is adequate for both, there's no difference, and when it's inadequate, there's no difference. Even when it's adequate for one and not the other, it's not like somehow the plant that needs more water is deriving less benefit from the same amount of water. It just needs more water. And the plant with adequate water isn't deriving more benefit- it just needs less.
  #65  
Old 08-28-2019, 04:05 PM
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What you're trying to say is that if you compare Daddy Warbucks and a person making $10/hr, they're going to be taxed identically on the same amount of taxable income- i.e. their tax brackets are the same. Which is true. But that doesn't mean they pay the same overall percentage in taxes... not by a long chalk.
Okay, so why is "overall percentage of income paid as tax" the meaningful figure of comparison here? Why is that a better number to focus on than what Moriarty is focusing on (total percentage by tax bracket) or what certain dishonest hacks would prefer we focus on (total amount in dollars) or what I would prefer we focus on (total percentage by marginal utility of each dollar)? Beyond the obvious fact that my preferred solution is completely unworkable in practice, anyways.

Last edited by Budget Player Cadet; 08-28-2019 at 04:05 PM.
  #66  
Old 08-28-2019, 04:17 PM
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Is my math here wrong, or is it accurate to say that it's actually pretty damn easy to turn $10 mil into $11 mil in 5 years?
2% compounding interest would do that. You can even open a money market account at American Express or Discover bank that will pay you slightly more than 2%. So yes.

The math works for turning $1,000 into $1,100, or even $10,000 into $11,000.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:21 PM
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Okay, so why is "overall percentage of income paid as tax" the meaningful figure of comparison here? Why is that a better number to focus on than what Moriarty is focusing on (total percentage by tax bracket) or what certain dishonest hacks would prefer we focus on (total amount in dollars) or what I would prefer we focus on (total percentage by marginal utility of each dollar)? Beyond the obvious fact that my preferred solution is completely unworkable in practice, anyways.
I'm just pointing out that his statement "Each person pays the same percentage of their income in taxes, but not the same amount." is flat out wrong.

Someone making 100k doesn't pay the same overall percentage- if they did, it would be a flat tax. But the brackets apply equally- I pay the same tax (10%) on my first 9700 dollars of taxable income that Lebron James does, as well as the guy making sandwiches at the Subway across the street. But none of us pay the SAME percentage overall in taxes- Lebron probably pays somewhere fairly close to 37%, I pay somewhere in the 15-18% overall amount, and the guy at Subway probably pays somewhere between 10% and 12% overall.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:22 PM
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Thanks. If accurate, then this means any idiot who inherits $10 million can pretty easily live a very comfortable lifestyle without doing any work at all. In my experience, there are indeed a significant number of trust-fund babies who live comfortable lives while doing very little that's productive for society.
Does it make a difference if instead of inheriting $10 million that the individual earned and saved his $10 million through work, acting, playing basketball, singing in a band, and then they stuck it an low risk investment vehicle and earned approx. $200k + per year on the interest?
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:25 PM
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What I was saying is that the money my parents paid in school tax when I was in high school did NOT go to pay for my education. I didn't derive any direct benefit from it.
If you buy theater tickets and then decide not to go, do you blame the theater?
And childless people pay the same school tax without even the possibility of direct benefit. So your parents had it good.
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But everyone derives the SAME benefit from it when you get to these nebulous indirect benefits- unless your stuff catches fire, everyone derives the same benefit from the fire department being funded. Same for police- the dividends of law and order are mostly equal- my neighbors don't somehow benefit more or less proportionately from it based on whatever difference there are in our incomes. It's like saying that bigger plants benefit more or less than smaller plants from rainfall, which is untrue. What you can say is that when rainfall is adequate for both, there's no difference, and when it's inadequate, there's no difference. Even when it's adequate for one and not the other, it's not like somehow the plant that needs more water is deriving less benefit from the same amount of water. It just needs more water. And the plant with adequate water isn't deriving more benefit- it just needs less.
The person with the million dollar house the fire department saved is seeing twice the benefit as the person with the $500 K house.
As Budget Player Cadet mentioned, brackets should be based on marginal utility, or pain. Do you object to all people feeling more or less the same pain from their tax burden? If not, taxes on the upper brackets should be a lot higher.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:30 PM
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Here's what bothers me about this article in particular and the Republican's portrayal of what Democrat's believe about the rich and wealthy in general. It seems to me the Republican's portray the Democrat's as wanting to punish those that are successful. The problem is that those who make there charge seem to conflate two different classes of people.

The way I see it there are rich people who earned their money through their own labor, and then there are the wealthy who made their money off of other people's labor. Republicans seem to believe (or at least publicly claim) that Democrats want to punish those in the former group. My belief is that Republicans care primarily about people in the latter group, and use their platform, such as the above article, to try to confuse the public.

Here is how I differentiate the groups. The rich have made their money mostly off their own work. The reason why they earned so much is because their skills are in high demand, are very rare, or of a nature where they can be offered to billions of people. These are mostly people in the entertainment industry such as actors (Robert Downey Jr., Will Smith, George Clooney) singers (Taylor Swift, Mick Jagger, Madonna), authors (Stephen King), athletes (Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Lebron James) and so on. The reason they are rich is because modern technology allows them to provide their services to billions of people, not because they benefit from the labor of thousands of low wage workers. There are also a few such as the doctors who serve those other rich folks (Dr. James Andrews) and high priced lawyers that also serve the other rich / wealthy folds (Mark Geragos).

The wealthy, by contrast, are the people who are executives at or own large businesses and make their money off the labor of the employees of those businesses. People like the Walton family, the Koch brothers, and so on.
Republicans seem to think the Liberal position on wealth is that businesses and wealthy people are inherently parasitic and thus deserve to have their wealth redistributed to people who "need" it more. But for some reason, wealthy Hollywood types seem to get a pass. I don't see anything in your OP that contradicts that.


Personally, I don't think there is anything about being able to knock a baseball out of Fenway Park or compellingly tell a story about some plucky girl trying to decide which douchebag is "the one" is inherently more worthy of wealth than running a multi-billion dollar company that employs thousands.

of course, the point is not for Conservatives to convince Liberals or Liberals to convince Conservatives of their positions. It's to convince moderate independents and undecideds that the other side is full of corrupt idiots.
  #71  
Old 08-28-2019, 04:53 PM
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Does it make a difference if instead of inheriting $10 million that the individual earned and saved his $10 million through work, acting, playing basketball, singing in a band, and then they stuck it an low risk investment vehicle and earned approx. $200k + per year on the interest?
Not for this particular point of contention, which was whether it was possible for people born lucky to stay rich without doing anything particularly intelligent or productive.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:15 PM
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Suppose I invest a million dollars into starting a business, providing the entirety of its capital. But I don't otherwise lift a finger. The business isn't my idea and I don't perform the labor or any management role. What should be my return? What proportion should go to labor? What proportion to whoever had the idea for the business? Those are the actually relevant questions in this thread, since the proportion of return to investment capital is almost the entire ballgame on wealth and the politics of wealth.

I see three principled positions in American political life:

(1) Lefty: we should answer those questions in terms of moral desert, and capitalists don't deserve a significant return on investment.

(2) Liberal: we should answer those questions empirically by asking how much return each of the players needs to get in order to maximize the size of the economic pie without creating a level of inequality that damages society more than the cost of a smaller economic pie.

(3) Conservative/libertarian: we don't need to answer those questions collectively. because people decide it voluntarily.

I am a liberal because I don't think there's any especially persuasive way to get at what each of the people involved morally deserves and because conservatives/libertarians miss the fact that the voluntary arrangements are highly influenced by the choices we collectively make about our laws and our society. So we do eventually have to take a position on the question, one way or another. They just tend to take the position, by default or otherwise, that the people with the most wealth should set the rules and then let those rules play out in predictable ways.
The problem with scenario number 2 is that the economy isn’t a system that can be solved to determine what is actually optimal. Furthermore, politicians who run on and advocate positions that resonate with so-called liberalism as you describe it don’t necessarily mean what they say.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:40 PM
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I'm just pointing out that his statement "Each person pays the same percentage of their income in taxes, but not the same amount." is flat out wrong.
Fair enough. I'll concede my error.

But, it's only a difference in percentages in the aggregate; we are all subject to the same tax brackets, just some of us don't have anything but a zero in the top ones. That's equal treatment, in my opinion, not "punishment" directed towards the richest wage earners.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:51 PM
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The problem with scenario number 2 is that the economy isn’t a system that can be solved to determine what is actually optimal.
Cannot be solved, no. But can be improved with evidence, which makes it preferable to the alternatives (among other reasons).
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Old 08-28-2019, 07:42 PM
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Cannot be solved, no. But can be improved with evidence, which makes it preferable to the alternatives (among other reasons).
So what should someone earn for a unit of labor? What is the appropriate rate of return on investment?
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Old 08-28-2019, 07:50 PM
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So what should someone earn for a unit of labor? What is the appropriate rate of return on investment?
More and less, respectively, than average current levels. Happy to help!
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Old 08-28-2019, 09:31 PM
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All that stuff benefits me- I need streets, broadband and law enforcement just as much as a rich guy. And just as much as a poor person as well- are you trying to say that we (the not-super-rich) don't need roads as much as say... Mark Cuban? Or that broadband is more integral to T. Boone Pickens' life than mine?
I wanted to return to this. What I am saying is that people like Mark Cuban and T. Boone Pickens have more to lose if the infrastructure like roads or broadband fell apart. If America couldn’t ensure the integrity of its markets, these people stand to lose BILLIONS of dollars. So, yes, they should be more obligated to ensure that the system is funded than somebody with significantly less wealth.
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Old 08-28-2019, 09:54 PM
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It is hypocritical to criticize people for building a big house instead of giving the money to charity and then buying a big house instead of giving the money to charity.
He didn’t say that. He said (paraphrasing) that, at some point, you’re house is big enough. That implies buying a really big house. I think you could fairly fault Obama if he was constantly buying a bigger and bigger home, or if he wasn’t involved in philanthropy.

But he definitely didn’t say that people shouldn’t buy a big house.

Last edited by Moriarty; 08-28-2019 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 08-28-2019, 10:26 PM
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More and less, respectively, than average current levels. Happy to help!
That’s pretty funny and thanks for the help. However, the question is actually quite serious. It’s the difference between the philosophy that leads to central planning and the philosophy that leads to the free market.
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Old 08-28-2019, 10:46 PM
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However, the question is actually quite serious. It’s the difference between the philosophy that leads to central planning and the philosophy that leads to the free market.
Ironically, the only way a free market can exist (which I agree is a good thing) is if you have some central planning.

Because businessmen like Bill Gates, John Rockefeller, Sam Walton, and Al Capone all agree: competition is bad for business. Capitalists do not welcome a free market. Their ideal is a monopoly where they are the only seller.

So if a free market is going to exist, it's not going to happen due to the actions of capitalists. It's going to happen because there is a strong authority that exists outside of the market itself which maintains the existence of a free market and prevents capitalists from achieving their ideal state of monopoly.
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Old 08-29-2019, 02:52 AM
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The view many conservatives have of liberals is that 1) liberals want to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor and/or 2) liberals have something against the wealthy. Whether this view is accurate or not is beside the point; that's the view many conservatives have.

So when someone like Obama signs multi-million dollar book deals and buys a $15 million house, conservatives think "hypocrisy."
First of all, Obama's not a Liberal. But even so: how would it be hypocritical if Obama favored redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor when that includes taking a lot of wealth from a rich person called Barrack Obama?

He doesn't say that all rich people—except for himself—should pay higher taxes. Because THAT would be hypocritical.
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:49 AM
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There will always be slackers and moochers; this is part of human nature.
You missed my point. I'm not worried about a couple of people who abuse welfare. I’m talking about a huge chunk of the population, the 40%+ of workers who don’t pay income taxes. The context for my controversial statement, of course, is that the rich have a moral duty to pay even more taxes in order to sustain our infrastructure, because they benefit from our infrastructure.

The thing is, everyone benefits, so why shouldn’t poor people make some type of contribution? Obviously they don’t have money, else we would tax them, so some type of universal conscription – which people could by their way out of – would level the playing field for our infrastructure.

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So, what are you going to do with the people whose paying jobs will now be done by those in government service? The WPA worked because there wasn't private or state money to do those jobs, and there was a large pool of people available for them.
It’s not a well thought out plan; we’re talking 40% of the working population being conscripted, after all. I mean, it’s not even a plan at all. What’s your counterproposal for getting the 40% of the population who use our infrastructure free of charge to contribute their fare share?
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:58 AM
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You missed my point. I'm not worried about a couple of people who abuse welfare. I’m talking about a huge chunk of the population, the 40%+ of workers who don’t pay income taxes. The context for my controversial statement, of course, is that the rich have a moral duty to pay even more taxes in order to sustain our infrastructure, because they benefit from our infrastructure.

The thing is, everyone benefits, so why shouldn’t poor people make some type of contribution? Obviously they don’t have money, else we would tax them, so some type of universal conscription – which people could by their way out of – would level the playing field for our infrastructure.
I think most people who don't pay income taxes are too busy trying not to die to be able to afford not working for a while to handle a mandatory conscription.

Quote:
It’s not a well thought out plan; we’re talking 40% of the working population being conscripted, after all. I mean, it’s not even a plan at all. What’s your counterproposal for getting the 40% of the population who use our infrastructure free of charge to contribute their fare share?
Change the economy so that everyone makes a living wage and pays taxes? Or, alternatively, accept that those fucked by capitalism are contributing enough already simply by being cogs in the machine?

I feel like you're coming at this issue from entirely the wrong end.

The problem, as presented: "Hey, a lot of people in the economy make so little money that taxing them makes no economic sense whatsoever."
The actual problem: "A lot of people are impoverished."
Not actually a problem: "A lot of people don't contribute to the public good because they're too poor."

I will absolutely agree that this is not a well-thought-out plan. It's also callous, cruel, and kicks people while they're down.

Last edited by Budget Player Cadet; 08-29-2019 at 07:58 AM.
  #84  
Old 08-29-2019, 08:13 AM
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If you buy theater tickets and then decide not to go, do you blame the theater?
And childless people pay the same school tax without even the possibility of direct benefit. So your parents had it good.

The person with the million dollar house the fire department saved is seeing twice the benefit as the person with the $500 K house.
As Budget Player Cadet mentioned, brackets should be based on marginal utility, or pain. Do you object to all people feeling more or less the same pain from their tax burden? If not, taxes on the upper brackets should be a lot higher.
My point wasn't that my parents shouldn't have paid school tax, but that we didn't derive any direct benefit from it- I didn't attend public school. I'm not seeing what your argument is- that somehow I derived some benefit from the money my parents paid to our local school district, that I didn't attend? That doesn't make any sense.

As far as the relative value of communal services, you're trying to have it both ways, by saying that $1 in tax burden to a minimum wage person is more of a burden to them than $1000 is to a person making 15 million a year is to them, and then turning around and saying that if the minimum wage person's home burned down and cost them $60k that it's less of an impact to them than the 15 million income person losing a house worth millions of dollars.

I'd argue that either way, the lower income person bears a heavier burden of tax AND if basic services/law and order were to break down. The rich guy has resources- insurance, cash reserves, other property, and so on- he might lose a $5 million house, but he can go live at the Omni for a few months until he finds another one. That poor person is screwed, even if it's "only" a house worth 80k.

You can't say that the burden is greater in one situation because of the differing relative value of money for the two people, and then turn around and deal in absolute dollar amounts and say that the guy losing more money has more at stake.
  #85  
Old 08-29-2019, 09:23 AM
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"Not paying income tax" does not equal "not paying taxes". Sales taxes, taxes on specific articles, government fees, price hikes due to tariffs… are not waived because you're poor.
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:57 AM
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My point wasn't that my parents shouldn't have paid school tax, but that we didn't derive any direct benefit from it- I didn't attend public school. I'm not seeing what your argument is- that somehow I derived some benefit from the money my parents paid to our local school district, that I didn't attend? That doesn't make any sense.
You benefit from having an educated population. If only people who could afford it could go to school that would be very bad for the country and for all of us individually.
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  #87  
Old 08-29-2019, 11:42 AM
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My point wasn't that my parents shouldn't have paid school tax, but that we didn't derive any direct benefit from it- I didn't attend public school. I'm not seeing what your argument is- that somehow I derived some benefit from the money my parents paid to our local school district, that I didn't attend? That doesn't make any sense.
I was saying that your parents had potential direct benefit, while a childless couple (or person) did not have even that. And the indirect benefits are pretty substantial. Imagine a world in which large chunks of the population is illiterate and unable to get good jobs, and the ensuing rise in crime. You can't brush those benefits away.
Quote:
As far as the relative value of communal services, you're trying to have it both ways, by saying that $1 in tax burden to a minimum wage person is more of a burden to them than $1000 is to a person making 15 million a year is to them, and then turning around and saying that if the minimum wage person's home burned down and cost them $60k that it's less of an impact to them than the 15 million income person losing a house worth millions of dollars.
There is not a direct correlation between house prices and income. In my neighborhood hardly any of us could afford our houses today. Many states have property tax breaks for seniors which recognize this. The correlation does tail off when you get to really expensive houses, but it is much weaker.
Quote:
I'd argue that either way, the lower income person bears a heavier burden of tax AND if basic services/law and order were to break down. The rich guy has resources- insurance, cash reserves, other property, and so on- he might lose a $5 million house, but he can go live at the Omni for a few months until he finds another one. That poor person is screwed, even if it's "only" a house worth 80k.
The poor person is probably not getting the benefits the better off person has as it is. "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." But I didn't argue from the benefit side in terms of taxes. Benefit is very hard to quantify, pain is a lot easier.
BTW the insurance company will pay for alternate housing. Happened to the family of my daughter's ex-boyfriend. If your coverage is good enough, I suppose. But it would have been very painful for them to pay to rebuild - they might have had a near million dollar house but they were not rich.
Quote:
You can't say that the burden is greater in one situation because of the differing relative value of money for the two people, and then turn around and deal in absolute dollar amounts and say that the guy losing more money has more at stake.
You're assuming that house value correlates to non-real estate net worth. Not true around here.
  #88  
Old 08-29-2019, 11:49 AM
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It’s not a well thought out plan; we’re talking 40% of the working population being conscripted, after all. I mean, it’s not even a plan at all. What’s your counterproposal for getting the 40% of the population who use our infrastructure free of charge to contribute their fare share?
Their fair (ahem) share in this case might be zero. But I'm fine with the idea of making everyone pay taxes by raising the minimum wage enough to put everyone in tax paying range.
Though the poor do pay regressive sales taxes, and when riding public transportation pay the same in fare as the rich do. Or more if they don't have the spare money to buy a monthly pass.

ETA: Acknowledging that other people noted this too.

Last edited by Voyager; 08-29-2019 at 11:50 AM.
  #89  
Old 08-29-2019, 11:55 AM
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Of course he did, he very effectively used the infrastructure that HE DIDN'T BUILD* to earn lots and lots of money. He was way better at it than me, that's for sure.

Do you have a point that doesn't support that Obama quote? Because, as you noted so eloquently in your earlier post, Obama said "you didn't build that" not "you had access to a separate infrastructure". Do you have any information to suggest that Michael Jordan had any part in building the arena he played in, the roads and transit of Chicago, or the cargo transport infrastructure of our great nation?



*I also had little to no part in building any of the large infrastructure projects that allowed me to get an education and hold down a job.
I am not talking about the Obama quote but the idea that rich people should pay more in taxes because without government they would not have been able to be rich.

But since you mentioned it, Obama was doing his customary straw manning implying that there are those who think rich people should pay no taxes. No one believes that.
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Old 08-29-2019, 11:58 AM
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"Not paying income tax" does not equal "not paying taxes". Sales taxes, taxes on specific articles, government fees, price hikes due to tariffs… are not waived because you're poor.
If this fact isn't conspicuously addressed when discussing a person's "fair share" of taxes one must conclude that the speaker is arguing disingenuously.

So, before we sell 40% of the working population into indentured servitude, perhaps we could look at how much tax they actually pay instead of focusing on the one tax they don't pay?
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Old 08-29-2019, 12:01 PM
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He didn’t say that. He said (paraphrasing) that, at some point, you’re house is big enough. That implies buying a really big house. I think you could fairly fault Obama if he was constantly buying a bigger and bigger home, or if he wasn’t involved in philanthropy.

But he definitely didn’t say that people shouldn’t buy a big house.
Obama has a big house, he owns a 8.5 million dollar mansion in Washington DC. He may also own homes in Chicago, California, and Hawaii. The $15 million compound on Martha's Vineyard is in addition to all those things. There is no difference between building a bigger house, which he specifically criticized and buy a huge compound to summer in. Both have the same opportunity cost, which was what he was criticizing.
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Old 08-29-2019, 12:05 PM
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I am not talking about the Obama quote but the idea that rich people should pay more in taxes because without government they would not have been able to be rich.

But since you mentioned it, Obama was doing his customary straw manning implying that there are those who think rich people should pay no taxes. No one believes that.
No, you were talking about the Obama quote, which is why I quoted you
Quote:
There is the argument that Obama made about "You didn't build that" which implies that since public infrastructure helps people make money those who make more should have a higher burden of paying for that since they got more out of it. What this misses is that the public infrastructure is the same for everyone. I grew up with a basketball hoop in my backyard, just like Micheal Jordan did. He was able to put that infrastructure to better use than I did.
Jordan didn't build the infrastructure that made him rich, the government built most of it, and the rest was in collaboration with the government to use natural resources like the broadcast spectrum.

Jordan would not have become rich playing basketball if he didn't have access to the vast infrastructure created by the government.
  #93  
Old 08-29-2019, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
Obama has a big house, he owns a 8.5 million dollar mansion in Washington DC. He may also own homes in Chicago, California, and Hawaii. The $15 million compound on Martha's Vineyard is in addition to all those things. There is no difference between building a bigger house, which he specifically criticized and buy a huge compound to summer in. Both have the same opportunity cost, which was what he was criticizing.
Obama did not "specifically" (or in any way) criticize "building a bigger house". I believe this is the 2nd time you've mischaracterized his words, and the 2nd time I've called you out on it (with no response).

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 08-29-2019 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 08-29-2019, 01:04 PM
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Maybe he didn't respond because what you are claiming is too obviously false to require it.

Regards,
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Old 08-29-2019, 01:11 PM
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Maybe he didn't respond because what you are claiming is too obviously false to require it.

Regards,
Shodan
Then let's see a cite -- the full quote previously provided said something very different from "it's wrong to build big/bigger houses" or any other criticism of building big/bigger houses.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 08-29-2019 at 01:12 PM.
  #96  
Old 08-29-2019, 01:17 PM
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Then let's see a cite -- the full quote previously provided said something very different from "it's wrong to build big/bigger houses" or any other criticism of building big/bigger houses.
"There’s only so big a house you can have." Is your contention over "have" vs "build"? Is that what you're hanging your defense on?
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Old 08-29-2019, 01:19 PM
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Here's the full quote again, for anyone who missed it:

Quote:
I should add, by the way, right now I'm actually surprised by how much money I got, and let me tell you something: I don't have half as much as most of these folks or a tenth or a hundredth. There's only so much you can eat. There's only so big a house you can have. (Cheers and applause.) There's only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it's enough. (Laughter.) You don't have to take a vow of poverty just to say, "Well, let me help out and let a few of the other folks – let me look at that child out there who doesn't have enough to eat or needs some school fees, let me help him out. I'll pay a little more in taxes. It's okay. I can afford it." (Cheers and applause.)
I mean, it shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more, instead of saying, "Wow, I've got so much. Who can I help? How can I give more and more and more?" (Cheers and applause.) That's ambition. That's impact. That's influence. What an amazing gift to be able to help people, not just yourself. (Applause.) Where was I? I ad-libbed. (Laughter.) You get the point.
Reading the full quote in context, it's very clear that he's talking about his own experiences as a relative newcomer to wealth, and how being asked to pay more taxes (and contribute to charity) as a wealthy person would not be a significant detriment to his lifestyle. He still is able to eat as much as he wants; live in as big a house as he likes; take as many nice trips as he desires; etc. Paying more taxes, and contributing to charity, would not take away his ability, as a wealthy person, to live a very comfortable and pleasurable life.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 08-29-2019 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 08-29-2019, 01:26 PM
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For a guy who was famous for his use of "I", he used "you" an awful lot there while "talking about his own experiences". Reading the "full quote" you provided, it's not at all clear to me that his list of "only so" things is a reference to himself rather than the "these folks" that have twice, or ten times, or a hundred times as much money as him from the preceding sentence.
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Old 08-29-2019, 01:40 PM
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Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlrWhx8Spp8

The passage in question starts at about 48:00. I think the text makes it clear enough, but his mannerisms and the audience's response make it even clearer -- it's using self-deprecation about his own wealth to make a larger point that when you're wealthy, you have plenty of money left over even after spending it on a very nice lifestyle, and thus progressive taxation is nothing to fear.

And in the sentence immediately preceding, he says the following (bolding mine):
Quote:
For almost all countries, progress is going to depend on an inclusive market-based system – one that offers education for every child; that protects collective bargaining and secures the rights of every worker – that breaks up monopolies to encourage competition in small and medium-sized businesses; and has laws that root out corruption and ensures fair dealing in business; that maintains some form of progressive taxation so that rich people are still rich but they’re giving a little bit back to make sure that everybody else has something to pay for universal health care and retirement security, and invests in infrastructure and scientific research that builds platforms for innovation.
I don't see any possible interpretation of the full context of these quotes that's other than the equivalent of "the rich have nothing to worry about with more progressive taxation -- and I should know because I'm rich and I have plenty of money left over after doing all the things I want to do".

Those inclined to see Obama as evil or a commie or whatever probably see things differently, similar to the way that the guy I pass on my way to work who thinks he's Jesus seems to see things differently.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 08-29-2019 at 01:43 PM.
  #100  
Old 08-29-2019, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
For a guy who was famous for his use of "I", he used "you" an awful lot there while "talking about his own experiences". Reading the "full quote" you provided, it's not at all clear to me that his list of "only so" things is a reference to himself rather than the "these folks" that have twice, or ten times, or a hundred times as much money as him from the preceding sentence.
He said let me help him out, he said I can afford to pay more taxes. And he was generalizing his experience to others. If he can afford to pay more taxes, so can those who have ten times more than he does. If he has enough money to pay for anything he wants and still have enough left over to help others, so should those with a lot more than him.

It's pretty obvious.
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