Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New rules

Rule #154: A simple wish
Simpler is not always better. There’s lots of talk about making the tax code simpler, or repealing one existing law for every new law, or making a slimmer health care bill. “You could do your taxes on the back of a postcard!” “The country has too many laws.” Um, no.

First off, I don’t want to do my taxes on the back of a postcard any more than I want Exxon-Mobil doing theirs that way. As far as time-suckers go, filling out my 1040-EZ takes about two commercial breaks, tops. Those with more complicated forms generally employ help and, even if they don’t, probably find the deduction process worthwhile. Protesting the tax structure is one thing; but don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting the problem is that it's all hard and stuff. I personally don’t think saving three seconds on my tax form is worth giving petrochemical giants a huge flat tax break.

As for too many laws? That isn’t simple; it’s simplistic. If you don’t like a law, argue it on its merits. Numbers and/or pages are irrelevant. God help us if somebody’s in a car accident, and their only legal recourse is the Preamble.

Rule #155: Petitioning a grievance
Any activist who can’t honestly articulate their cause deserves to have their petition invalidated. So many times, I’ve come across something like this: “We’re tired of people getting special rights. Is that fair? No it isn’t. Special rights for none! Equal rights for all. We just think people should be allowed to vote on this. Oh, and a black guy supports this.” Wha?

I’m not so concerned for myself as I am for the hippie chick who shrugged and signed because she heard keywords “rights...fair...equal...vote...black” and she was in a hurry. Anyway, you can’t vote on rights...I think? Either this is the most pointless rah-rah cause in the United States or it hides a very sinister effort to deny minorities and gays basic civil rights. Either way, I’m not signing. Thank you.

Rule #156: Shrill, baby, shrill
Every time Sarah Palin speaks, an angel rips off its wings and dives off a cloud.

Palin’s speech at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference was a new, fascinating low in American politics. The notion that Republican politicians incongruously slam government as both incompetent and evil is nothing new; but at least in the past, some measure of articulateness and/or alternative proposals came with it. Palin is all hate, all demagoguery, all red-meat, with no regard for the English language. She is every ignorant e-mail you ever got throughout 2008, living and breathing. It isn’t just that I disagree with her; I’m offended by her presence on the political scene. If she’s running for president, she’s a guaranteed disaster (apparently the SRLC agreed). If she isn’t, then the GOP is clearly keeping her around for the ratings, which is even worse.

“How’s that HOPEY-CHANGEY thing workin’ out for ya?” It seems to be working out well for both of us, thanks, Palin.

I’ll bet that if President Obama spent all of his time quoting Bill Maher’s rants on how Palin sucks, he’d be criticized for being a bitter drama queen who should spend his time in the spotlight coming up with positive, proactive solutions rather than proudly banking his legacy on his opponent’s failure. Exactly.

Rule #157: Feeling no glee
Pop culture has to make something that interests me. Granted, I was born in 1980 and have the precise cultural sensibilities of someone born in 1970; but still, something? Must everything involve some sort of combination of high school, singing, vampires, Jesus and reboot? Rolling Stone hasn’t released a cover without washboard abs or frilly pinkness since Obama took office. It wasn’t always like this, you know!

16 comments:

Tom Alday said...

Maybe if you're a low level loser like you taxes are quick, but with people that have stock investments and properties and multiple sources of income it's a pain and needs to be simplified.

Yeah the 1040EZ is easy you idiot, that's the point, hence the "EZ" in the title.

Ian McGibboney said...

Tom, I published your comment this time because, behind all the insults, there's actually something to address.

See, I already said in the blog that people with more complicated tax forms either find it worthwhile to find the deductions or to pay someone else to do so. I don't buy the convenience angle, especially when it's really a front for corporations to pay far fewer taxes than they do even with all the loopholes and deductions they have now.

If it's simpler and makes sense, go for it. But simplicity for its own sake is not a virtue. Not the way it's playing out now.

Michael said...

Apparently the Republican talking point, as, um, "articulated" (if that's the word) by the first comment here is that taxes should be easy (i.e., non-existent) for people who aren't "low-level losers" and who "have stock investments and properties and multiple sources of income," and hard for everybody else.

Whereas over here in the real world, it seems to me that the government gets it exactly right. For the overwhelming majority of the tax-paying population (i.e., us "low-level losers"), the process is relatively painless. We report our salary or our wages and whatever other forms of income we might be lucky enough to have in the economy the Republicans left us, we list our standard deduction and our personal exemption, and we find out if we're going to get a refund or have to scrape up a few more dimes to pay the bill.

For that tiny, petulant, and angry minority of taxpayers who "have stock investments and properties and multiple sources of income," the process is a little more complicated--but not so much more complicated that anybody who paid attention in high school math class couldn't figure it out for himself--or, given their "stock investments and properties and multiple sources of income" and all, hire some competent help to figure out how to screw the government out of as much of their legitimate tax burden as possible.

I guess they're bummed because it means an hour less time spent clipping bond coupons or something. But speaking personally, I think they should shut the hell up and get down on their knees and give thanks for the fact that they're wealthy enough to have to worry about how complicated their tax forms are. Given a choice between that and the living from paycheck to paycheck that's the reality for most of us in this country, I know which option I'd choose. And I guarantee not to bitch about how hard doing my taxes would be.

Ian McGibboney said...

Based on what I know about Tom's career, Michael, we're probably all in pretty similar boats. And that's what's so frustrating about the tax debate; the people defending a conservative/regressive tax stance apparently do it out of wealth envy, because they surely aren't doing it out of self-interest. Meanwhile, none of the actual moneyed people who bitch and moan about the parasite poor would ever trade places with them, even for all the entitlements they supposedly get. It's a phenomenal propaganda campaign the corporations and rich put out there to get middle-class and poor people to vote against their own interests.

As for what you said about the tax system, Michael, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tom Alday said...

@michael

Arguing with you is pointless, any man that says the words "the government gets it exactly right" with regards to taxes is either enormously retarded, or a big government flack, in your case I feel it's both. The fact that you see having investments and tertiary income as something to mock and ridicule tells me all I need to know about you.

@ian

Don't presume to know anything about my career or life Ian, I'm not lowly enough to even be able to file a 1040EZ, when you're an adult with a real job and have planned for the future you won't be able to either. Calling others out for their "wealth envy" is funny, especially from someone as incredibly liberal as you that would be perfectly happy taxing anyone that makes more than 100k at 100%.

Also, less taxes = Not in your best interest!

Ah, to be a liberal with no idea of economics...

Michael said...

For my money, Tom, the enormously retarded one in this conversation is you. Nothing government does is ever good in your mind, except when it's bending over backwards to help the rich get richer, or screwing some non-rich person out of what's coming to them (or should be).

That's not how government is supposed to work and, until the advent of Saint Ronnie of Raygun, that's not how government actually did work, either. Ever since St. Ronnie's days, Republicans have been trying to sell us a bill of goods that he was on to something, but what they've actually done is made it harder and harder for the government to do all of the things it was supposed to do and which it had formerly done well. Pick out any ten random teabaggers bitching about "socialism" and ask them whether they'd be willing to give up on Social Security and Medicare: I'd venture to guess that the number of respondents saying yes would be zero.

I drove by a farmhouse this morning on my way to work that had a sign out in front of it on Election Day 2008: "No socialism!" Care to lay a wager on whether the owner of that house (and its associated farm) has ever turned down an ag subsidy payment?

As it happens, Tom, I spend most of my working days working with the federal government (not for it). Virtually without exception, the people I deal with are competent, polite, helpful, and know what they're doing. Unlike you.

I have zero problem with wealth per se. I have huge problems, however, with the attitude you display, such that it is only the people who have wealth who matter, and everyone else is just a peon. You define yourself (or appear to) by how much money you have. I think that's an awfully shallow definition, which explains a great deal about you, and not to your credit.

Ian McGibboney said...

Tom, I'm not one to put words in anyone's mouth, but it seems to me what Michael's saying is that our system of taxation is fine, even if we quibble about who should pay what. The system itself is efficient - I got my refund within a week in February, and they seem pretty good with the audits, so I've heard. Sorry, man, but the government does get things right. I personally bristle when people say everything the government does is wrong. That is not a rational viewpoint any more than saying the government is perfect.

And Tom, I'm not ridiculing your job, even as you ridicule mine (it sure seems real and adult to me). My very point is that we're all fighting for scraps, so why do you insist on fighting for the rich? They don't care about you, but they have the power and resources to suck us all dry. Until hard work becomes the barometer for wealth in this country, you can't say we should all make life as comfortable for the rich as possible because everyone else is just too lazy. But that isn't about to happen.

NOLA Progressive said...

Aaahhh. So nice to have Tommy boy back in a conversation thread. I mean who wouldn't respect a guy who hops into a conversation by labeling and ridiculing people based on the tax form they fill out. I mean that's a real forward thinker that we can all admire and aspire to be like. Also, certainly he makes an immediate impact and cogent argument for his cause and all of conservative America by labeling people retarded. Its also comforting and inspiring to know that he is so wealthy and affluent that he has ample time to keep hurling comments at a blog full of people he despises on the off chance the author he mocks and disdains might allow his angry ranting to be read.

Nice to have ya back tommy boy. Keep up the good work.

Ian McGibboney said...

I may have misread Tom's earlier comment about not being lowly enough to file a 1040-EZ. Usually people are much more coherent about their condescension. So yeah, I guess he really is looking down on the rabble (as opposed to attacking it laterally). Still, my point is the same: unless Tom is a millionaire, which isn't generally an option for university-employed computer techs, then he is still pimping against his own best interest.

For what it's worth, I've turned down many opportunities in my life that could have led me to much more lucrative, but far less satisfying, opportunities. Amazing as it may sound, money isn't everything. I like not poring endlessly over my taxes. I wish I wasn't always so desperate for the refund, but I'll take it. Certainly isn't a measure of my manhood for me like it is with some people.

Tom Alday said...

@ian

How am I "fighting for the rich"? I want taxes cut for EVERYONE. I think I have a better idea how to spend my money than the government. What has the government ever done for you that endears you to them so much? I seem to recall you being quite anti-government during the Bush years, guess it all depends on if your side is in charge or not, eh? The fact that you and others hope and pray for a miniscule refund on your interest free loan you gave the government tells me that something is wrong with the system. Wouldn't it be better to not give the federal government that money all year and spend it as you wish when you earn it?

By the way, it's obvious now the one with "wealth envy" is you.

and really, it's time you liberals drop the whole "voting against your best interests" meme, not only does it perpetuate the elitist/condescending label you have earned, but it makes no sense. My best interest isn't a huge nanny state that takes all my money because they think others deserve it more than I. Sorry, but not everyone wants their life controlled by the government like you.

@NOLA/Ian

Nice to see you remembered your NOLA email login Ian. It's very interesting how "he" only ever comments to either virtually blow you or defend you.
"He" is either a pathetic sycophant or a sock puppet. There are no other option.

Ian McGibboney said...

Tom - If you are calling for a tax cut for everybody, you are fighting for the rich. If you cared about a strong economy, like we had from the 1950s to the 1970s, you'd call for more taxes for the rich. We used to tax the top earners at up to 91 percent. But when Obama called for a jump from 36 to 39 percent for people like Bill Gates, people like you called him socialist.

And that's precisely so stupid about all of the right's tax proposals. For all the anachronistic bitching about communism, you guys sure want to tax everyone at the same rate (which always means cutting the rich's taxes while making it up by hurting the poor). Our economy can't work that way, and falters whenever we try it. It's based on no sound economic principles, just bootstrap fantasy and a healthy dose of judgmentalism.

As for "wealth envy," well, I'm not the one who judges a man by his choice of tax form.

Finally, Tom, I would love to see any proof that NOLA and I are the same person. I'm fascinated by your notion that I would need to, or have time to, make up a separate persona just to have someone not relentlessly insult and harass me. If anything, I've been asked more than once if YOU aren't made up just to give me a foil. I assure them you're not.

NOLA Progressive said...

Tom, take a look at all of the posts during your rather pleasant forced hiatus. I was involved in many of them, and even had some back and forth in which another reader and I held very different opinions. Despite those different opinions, we were able to discuss them with civility, and agree to disagree. We both freely expressed our takes and found no need for insults or vulgarity.

I do routinely respond to your comments with bite, because well, I really don't like you. You are rude, you contribute almost nothing positive to the conversation, and you intentionally pick fights with people. You also make a habit of visiting a blog with which you know you will disagree and speak of it like it is beneath you and substandard. Yet you seem to hang on every major post?

Well, it so happens that it is a blog that I frequent as well, and frankly I take offense to your approach. You are essentially a cyber tea bagger.

Call me what you will, but at least have the simple deductive reasoning power to be able to see that my commentary is consitent and in many threads you do not exist in.

Mustang Bobby said...

Anyone who has a tax situation that is more complicated than what can be done on your basic Turbo Tax probably has enough money to afford a decent accountant who can both do their tax preparation for them (it's deductible) and therefore find all the loopholes in the tax code to make it as painless as possible. And if they're that lazy or stupid not to avail themselves of professional assistance deserves to pay as much tax as the system can squeeze out of them.

Tom Alday said...

@Ian

Taxing people at 91% for being successful is not a viable, long term strategy. It destroys wealth. You do realize that "the rich" you so oddly hate are the ones that employ you, right? Do you think they'll just happily take a cut in profits and go along their merry way or do you think they'll start laying off people? History, and base human nature, says layoffs.

The great thing about a flat tax is it treats everyone the same. Someone shouldn't be bled like a stuck pig because they worked hard in life and have accumulated wealth. Despite what you and other liberals think, "the rich" are Americans too, you may like to demonize them and make them out to be some otherworldly class of human, but they deserve the same rights "the poor" Americans have, right? You all like to talk about forcing people to pay "their fair share", but how is taxing someone at 91% and someone else in the teens fair? Especially when the guy that is taxed at 91% is the one that employs the people in the lower tax bracket. Seems to me he's already done his fair share by providing the job.

@NOLA

Ok so maybe you are not Ian, that just means you're his boot licker. Good going sycophant!

I remember a few months ago me and you had a nice civil discussion on your blog where you seemed to present yourself as someone completely different than you're doing here, guess that was all bullshit? Was it the meds talking then or what?

Ian McGibboney said...

Mustang Bobby - You know that these people will do everything they can, including spending a considerable amount of money, to dodge their responsibilities. That's why you have multi-billion-dollar corporations paying virtually (or not so virtually) no income taxes. If they're going to game the system, then I'm not going to feel sorry for them.

Tom - 1) Asking the rich to pay their fair share is not hating them. I'm not a fan of a 91 percent top rate, necessarily, but 36-39 percent is absolutely ludicrous. Historically, the U.S. has had the best overall economy when the rich pay more. It's only been since the greed-is-good mentality of the Reagan era (where the top rate fell more than 10 percent in only a few years) that our economy has so seriously destabilized.

2) How benevolent of the rich to throw bones to us serfs. I'm sure the reason they aren't employing everyone they meet like some Pied Piper is because we need to give them more money that they aren't at all going to stash in some Cayman Islands account to accrue for 30 years. Oddly, the economy and job numbers seem to be improving under a president that's actually beginning to crack down on this. LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO.

3) The flat tax treats everyone the same? It lowers the tax burden on the rich substantially, while forcing the middle class/poor to make it up. That may allow everyone to pay the same, but there's no equality in that. Just a tremendous kickback for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. The real fairness is in having people pay their fair share.

4) If someone expressing a cogent opinion makes them a sycophant in your eyes, then so be it. It's funny how perspective can change from one person to the next. Weird thing is, I engage (though not here, it seems) with plenty of perfectly nice, smart and amiable conservatives all the time. Some people agree with me and some don't. But, Tom, you are the only one who acts as you do. Maybe that's something you should think about. Also, if you're as wealthy as you say, then you seriously undermine your case by coming off so greedy and condescending.

5) What civil discussion are you talking about? I can think of maybe one that started that way and then reverted to the usual litany of personal insults and libelous bile that's usually present from the get-go.

NOLA Progressive said...

Tom and I did indeed carry out one civil conversation. It ended well, and we both conceded a couple of points. If that were the norm he and I would never run afoul of each other, but time and time again thereafter he has been just plain insulting. Not necessarily to me (although plenty of that too), but to people expressing their viewpoints herein.

So Tom, I'm not presenting myself differently anywhere. Never once have I responded to you negatively due to a difference of opinion. It is always to the insults, condescension, and mean-spirited nature of your contributions.

More to the point of the thread. Profitability most certainly does not equal increased employment. Here is some data that shows that while unemployment has been atrocious, profitability for the wealthiest has sky-rocketed while there tax burden has shrunk. The data most certainly does not support "trickle down" theory. It's an absurd notion statistically. Saint Ronnie also didn't perpetuate a massive tax reduction over the long term. He sold it big, but consistently hiked taxes right back up after his initial push. You know why? Because the country can't address issues without tax revenues!