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Old 9th October 2019, 07:38 PM   #201
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
It's an aide to conceptualise the difference. Nobody can actually conceive of a billion, so we all need a little reminder of just how much more it is than the average and how much, much more it is than the poorest.


Khufu doesn't pay taxes to the same authority that those on their uppers in the US do. It's a poor argument.


So, do you think that US tax and social policy should encourage billionaires, as it does now? Or inhibit them, as it did when America was great?
I think he actually addressed all these points in another post prior to the above. Here it is:

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I find these kinds of questions interesting.

Mostly I think it's a neutral side effect of a particular system. On the other hand, I think it's on balance a good system, so I tend to see its side effects as more good than bad. In that sense, sure, I think having billionaires is a good thing. Trying to get rid of them would probably get rid of the things that make the underlying system a good system.


I think social policy should promote good systems, and remain agnostic about whether such a system allows for the emergence of billionaires.
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Old 10th October 2019, 01:30 AM   #202
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Old 10th October 2019, 01:37 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think he actually addressed all these points in another post prior to the above. Here it is:
Thanks. The Prestige pretends it's not something subject to policy when it clearly is. 'Agnostic about it' is a total dodge.

Ho hum, I shall leave it there.
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Old 10th October 2019, 01:47 AM   #204
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Thanks. The Prestige pretends it's not something subject to policy when it clearly is. 'Agnostic about it' is a total dodge.

Ho hum, I shall leave it there.
I think his point is that the policies that lead to existence of billionaires are there for reasons other than the creation of billionaires.

I think both he and you have valid points, but I'd like to see your viewpoint actually expressed. For instance the power of lobbyists to sway policy seems to me like it would result in the wealthy getting wealthier in ways that don't necessarily help improve the efficiency of the system. Others have talked about how that actually does occur.

On the other hand I think if we tried to set policy with the goal of getting rid of billionaires we'd probably end up with a system that was worse for everyone. I don't have a problem with a system that happens to not have any billionaires, nor with one that happens to have billionaires. I think the goal should be for the prosperity of all of us.
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Old 10th October 2019, 01:54 AM   #205
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think his point is that the policies that lead to existence of billionaires are there for reasons other than the creation of billionaires.
I think it would be down to him to demonstrate that. I shan't ask him to though, he might explode.



Quote:
I think both he and you have valid points, but I'd like to see your viewpoint actually expressed. For instance the power of lobbyists to sway policy seems to me like it would result in the wealthy getting wealthier in ways that don't necessarily help improve the efficiency of the system. Others have talked about how that actually does occur.
I'm not sure I have a point. I was just interested in pressing those who avoided the issue with statements like "What's it got to do with you" when the research shows that it has everything to do with everybody as it's linked, not to the natural order of things, but to public policy. Having no view on it is not tenable.


Quote:
On the other hand I think if we tried to set policy with the goal of getting rid of billionaires we'd probably end up with a system that was worse for everyone. I don't have a problem with a system that happens to not have any billionaires, nor with one that happens to have billionaires. I think the goal should be for the prosperity of all of us.
We previously had a tax policy that discouraged massive pooling of wealth because we discovered that this leads to massive recession and people starving.

It certainly isn't difficult to conceptualise a tax/social policy that inhibits billionaires, one existed. It may be tricky to get from here back to there but it's certainly better than the alternative if the alternative is massive recession.
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Old 10th October 2019, 01:59 AM   #206
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
His plan wasn't clear even to himself. From an interview in 2013 when he bought it:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/p...t-8797023.html
He's just lying. LOL

"Put the customer first, invent, be patient" sounds better than "operate at a loss while you drive brick and mortar businesses out of business, buy politicians to enact byzantine tax laws only you can afford to figure out and obey, and then own the whole global economy itself!"



Quote:
What's really notable is that the interview six years ago notes his wealth as $24 billion. Today it's over $150 billion. At that rate, he could be literally a trillionaire in ten years.
He didn't get there by telling the truth!
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Old 10th October 2019, 02:08 AM   #207
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Power begets more power until its so concentrated that national management becomes a few individuals' will. There's going to be an inflection point beyond which there's a point of no return. While I can't put a metric to that, my feeling is that by the time we discover it it will be too late, and I advocate a precautionary approach.

The downside for being overly cautious is that a few billionaires have a few less millions. The downside for being asleep at the switch is the loss of democracy.
I think we might already be passed the point of no return in the US. Power now has enough power to prevent us from preventing it from accumulating even more power. (sorry for the mouthful!)

https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/...litics.doc.pdf
Quote:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
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Old 10th October 2019, 02:31 AM   #208
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
However, this relates to my above comment about Rome... the rise of the superwealthy there was very rapid, and the Republic didn't have a lot of time to recognize and respond to the danger to defend itself.
Even if there was widespread awareness of what was happening, I'm not sure it could have been stopped. People back then were in most ways probably more short-sighted than they are now, and probably even more prone to attributing everything to divine will (I'm including "the market"/"market forces" as a form of divinity here, too.)
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Old 10th October 2019, 05:35 AM   #209
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
You made me look it up. Yes, it's easy to build wealth if you are born a royal prince, command the biggest army and make all the rules. That kinda illustrates the point.
https://www.ancient.eu/Mansa_Musa_I/
It was always best to be Mansa Musa in Civilization IV, my all-time favorite game. Using him was like bumping the difficulty down a notch or two, he was that good.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:17 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think he actually addressed all these points in another post prior to the above. Here it is:
And then he tried to turn it into another two minutes hate, which pretty much killed my interest in the conversation.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:31 AM   #211
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And then he tried to turn it into another two minutes hate, which pretty much killed my interest in the conversation.
Handy how often that happens, isn't it?
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Old 11th October 2019, 08:23 AM   #212
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Another aspect of wealth concentration:
Quote:
Dramatic inequality in wealth means dramatic inequality in terms of political power means a political system unresponsive to what most people want. Wealth inequality, in other words, is an anti-democratic force. A remarkable study by Lee Drutman found that just 31,385 people—one ten-thousandth of the population—accounted for more than a quarter of all political donations in the 2012 campaign cycle, with politicians getting more money from fewer people than in any other year analyzed. No wonder low-income households’ policy preferences have little effect on political outcomes in the United States, whereas high-income households’ policy preferences do, as research by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern forcefully shows. One of those political outcomes? Inequality itself: Unequal societies tend not to correct their own inequality, because of the political influence of the rich.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...naires/599587/

It's no surprise that the rich look out for themselves. But what happens to the rest of us?
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Old 11th October 2019, 08:29 AM   #213
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Handy how often that happens, isn't it?
I'd say counter-productive. There are interesting questions and interesting ideas that come up here a lot. Stuff I'm genuinely interested in examining and discussing. And then someone decides it needs to be yet another "but Trump!" slapfight. I don't know if they find it useful, or "handy", or whatever. But to me it comes across as uncivil and aggressively anti-debate.
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Old 11th October 2019, 09:16 AM   #214
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Another aspect of wealth concentration:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...naires/599587/

It's no surprise that the rich look out for themselves. But what happens to the rest of us?
Another concern is the very conscious effort among the political wealthy to not only donate to political campaigns in this current cycle, but to establish legacies that will continue to produce contributions indefinitely.

This was the main Koch project - to engage their politically aligned peers and coach them on establishing legacies for a network that includes elements such as think tanks, astroturfing, &c.

The UK also has this problem. For example, the Tories in 2017 reached a turning point where the majority of their donations come from dead people's legacies. That will only grow over time.

So with this type of funding model, not only is there a bias toward the superwealthy's minority interests over majority preference, but a new complication where parties are bending to the preferences of the dead instead of the living.
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Old 11th October 2019, 09:22 AM   #215
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Another aspect of wealth concentration:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...naires/599587/

It's no surprise that the rich look out for themselves. But what happens to the rest of us?
Recent datapoint... US taxation does not appear to be progressive at this time: [NYT: How to Tax Our Way Back to Justice]

Article contains a visual chart that summarizes the problem.

And actually, it's an underestimate, because the superwealthy have different structures for ownership and income that translate into better value from an otherwise identical income. Just as an example, my friend who is very well off as a construction company owner has practically no 'income'. Yet, he has a 'company sailboat' and a 'company condo' at his disposal, all expensed and so the revenues used to buy them were not taxable, since they're allegedly company assets used for business. Wink-wink.
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Old 11th October 2019, 11:25 AM   #216
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Recent datapoint... US taxation does not appear to be progressive at this time: [
NYT: How to Tax Our Way Back to Justice
]

Article contains a visual chart that summarizes the problem.
.....

From your link:
Quote:
The tax system in the United States has become a giant flat tax — except at the top, where it’s regressive. The notion that America, even if it may not collect as much in taxes as European countries, at least does so in a progressive way, is a myth. As a group, and although their individual situations are not all the same, the Trumps, the Bezoses and the Buffetts of this world pay lower tax rates than teachers and secretaries do.

This is the tax system of a plutocracy. With tax rates of barely 23 percent at the top of the pyramid, wealth will keep accumulating with hardly any barrier. So too will the power of the wealthy, including their ability to shape policymaking and government for their own benefit.
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Old 11th October 2019, 11:48 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
From your link:
Are we past the point of no return, do you think?

I'm reminded of this old FDR quote:

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Seems like it already happened, somewhere between 1990 and 2012.
Have you seen this?

https://www.propublica.org/article/u...-wealth-audits
Quote:
The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.
Quote:
Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. But with big money — and Congress — arrayed against the team, it never had a chance.
Quote:
The wealth team embarked on a contentious audit of Schaeffler in 2012, eventually determining that he owed about $1.2 billion in unpaid taxes and penalties. But after seven years of grinding bureaucratic combat, the IRS abandoned its campaign. The agency informed Schaeffler’s lawyers it was willing to accept just tens of millions, according to a person familiar with the audit.

How did a case that consumed so many years of effort, with a team of its finest experts working on a signature mission, produce such a piddling result for the IRS? The Schaeffler case offers a rare window into just how challenging it is to take on the ultrawealthy. For starters, they can devote seemingly limitless resources to hiring the best legal and accounting talent. Such taxpayers tend not to steamroll tax laws; they employ complex, highly refined strategies that seek to stretch the tax code to their advantage. It can take years for IRS investigators just to understand a transaction and deem it to be a violation.

Once that happens, the IRS team has to contend with battalions of high-priced lawyers and accountants that often outnumber and outgun even the agency’s elite SWAT team. “We are nowhere near a circumstance where the IRS could launch the types of audits we need to tackle sophisticated taxpayers in a complicated world,” said Steven Rosenthal, who used to represent wealthy taxpayers and is now a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
So, the IRS gave up, and:
https://www.propublica.org/article/i...audit-the-poor

Quote:
IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor
Congress asked the IRS to report on why it audits the poor more than the affluent. Its response is that it doesn’t have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it’s not going to.
Quote:
On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either. They are “the most efficient use of available IRS examination resources,” Rettig’s report says.
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Last edited by kellyb; 11th October 2019 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:20 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
From your link:
Yep. Basically exactly what I said.

I don't understand what you're trying to communicate in your post.
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:22 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Yep. Basically exactly what I said.

I don't understand what you're trying to communicate in your post.
I think he was just noting that it's worse than not progressive, but actually regressive?
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:27 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I think he was just noting that it's worse than not progressive, but actually regressive?
I wasn't sure... but I'll accept that interpretation, yeah.
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Old 11th October 2019, 11:07 PM   #221
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Yep. Basically exactly what I said.

I don't understand what you're trying to communicate in your post.
I thought that section best summarized the point of the article, and the larger point of the discussion. No offense intended.
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Old 12th October 2019, 06:13 AM   #222
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Are we past the point of no return, do you think?

I'm reminded of this old FDR quote:

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Seems like it already happened, somewhere between 1990 and 2012.
Have you seen this?

https://www.propublica.org/article/u...-wealth-audits

So, the IRS gave up, and:
https://www.propublica.org/article/i...audit-the-poor

That seems to be the ideal bourgeois state: Servicing for the rich and paid for by the poor!
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Old 17th October 2019, 12:15 PM   #223
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Billionaires work hard and live scared:
Quote:
Studies over the years have indicated that the rich, unlike the leisured gentry of old, tend to work longer hours and spend less time socializing. Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, whose worth has been estimated in the hundreds of millions, has said that he wakes up at 3:45 a.m. to mount his daily assault on his corporate rivals. Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX, is worth some $23 billion but nevertheless considers it a victory that he dialed back his “bonkers” 120-hour workweeks to a more “manageable” 80 or 90.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/s...le-things.html
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Old 17th October 2019, 10:08 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Billionaires work hard and live scared:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/s...le-things.html
more evidence that it isn't about the money - if we just taxed away half of all billionaire wealth, the rankings would stay exactly the same.
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