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April 17, 2005

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My guess is that should Bush make any public response to this at all, he will simply claim that of course people will continue to give to charity at the same rate they do now - why should the repeal of the estate tax make any difference? He may even convince himself that it's true, since he knows that figures can be distorted to prove anything - even that the sturdy and reliable American Social Security system is "really" heading for disaster and "needs saving".

But fundamentally? Everything about Bush's track record suggests that he not only doesn't care about anyone with an income below $100K, he can't even imagine that they exist as real people with real problems.

As Teresa Nielsen Hayden famously said: "Just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side."

I don't doubt that you are right when you point out that getting rid of the estate tax will substantially decrease charitable giving, but won't it hit museums much harder than soup kitchens or battered womens shelters. If I had to guess, I'd say that most of the big donations from estates go disproportionately to endowments for universities and museums rather than to the poor.

"And this from a President who claims to prize private charity."

Well, he prizes private charity as a means to privatizing all Federal government (and many State government programs) programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so that the libertarian wing of the Republican Party may realize its ideological dream of repealing the New Deal, and paying little or no taxes, which they believe a wealth transfer (I think Frank Luntz asked folks to stop using the term "theft" for cosmetic purposes) and a literal transgression of the Constitution. Any residual programs to help the "truly" needy can then be termed welfare and thereby subjected to the Ronald Reagan stereotype of fat, black women driving Cadillacs and sharply curtailed.

It would be fascinating to observe the destruction wrought by libertarian thinking if, for example, federal funding of kidney dialysis were to be handed over to private charity and private concerns. The death toll would be instructive, to say the very least, as folks were unhooked Schiavo-style across the country and families (including mine) were granted the lovely choice of bankruptcy or the death of a loved one.

Let's see? Arrest for murder or being hounded by creditors for the rest of my life? I suspect my libertarian human self preservation would prevail and I would choose arrest for murder. A tragedy all around, but principles would remain inviolate.

I'm beginning to understand who the ravenous, scorpion-like creatures which shall rend my flesh in the End Days are. You guys should read the "Left Behind" series. So far, it's completely accurate.

James Dobson and ilk from the other indispensable wing of the Republican Party would soon learn to live with the situation because, after all, God's bottom line is to not pay taxes, regardless of the human toll.

I hereby proclaim every tax a "Death Tax". I want every cent of tax repealed now. When someone breaks into my house and steals from me, the N.R.A. provides me with guns to defend myself and my family.

I now consider all taxation to be "breaking into my house".

(The sad thing is I'm a liberal, Godless, non-literal relativist who wouldn't touch a gun and whose words have no transcendant, absolute meaning behind them, so considering the above words to be a violation of posting rules would seem a little silly. I will take no action because I'm a gutless liberal, which is why I lose every effing battle. I will, however, begin keeping count of the of dead folks resulting from the developing policies of George W. Bush. Certainly, a ledger is not offensive.)

(Also, all of my generalizations in this comment are necessary to save space. The lengthy list of exceptions would be, you know, lengthy. Again, as I am a godless humanist whose principles rest not on the granite of absolute libertarian or religious certainty, but on the shifting sands of some sort of satanic, big government caprice, I'm really a pretty nice guy who holds no one personally responsible, and would certainly never resort to insulting or maligning all of the wonderful folks in the Republican Party, including my sister, who I may need to unhook soon.)

Dunno about these high-falutin' reasons when there are [n.b., not 100% work-safe] much more visceral arguments.

I don't know what the esteemed Mr. Thullen thinks a "libertarian" is, but people whose interests don't happen to align perfectly with yours and who don't believe that every need creates a positive obligation in others to pay for it aren't actually evil, you know. Some of us even give to charity and love puppies and everything!

Jes, I won't, as you appear to want to do, read George Bush's mind, but I will say that an income of $100,000 is, in many parts of the U.S., too low for what it is you're trying to imply. I can honestly say that I know people making that much who, thanks to coming from humble backgrounds and having to work their way up for a long time, I would honestly characterize as "barely making it."

Phil: I won't, as you appear to want to do, read George Bush's mind, but I will say that an income of $100,000 is, in many parts of the U.S., too low for what it is you're trying to imply.

I picked $100K because Bush's tax benefits are all aimed at people earning above that - the top 20% of the population. Of course, the real benefits don't start kicking in until your average income is at least twice that - which cuts out 95% of the population. And the best benefits are targeted at Bush's real base - the top 1%, or those with an average annual income of over a million. cite

But I think as far as Bush is concerned, anyone with an income of under $100K per year doesn't really exist for him. Not reading his mind: just looking at what he says and what he does. (As opposed to his scripted speeches, in which he may claim anything: WMD stockpiles in Iraq, promise to oppose torture, care for poor people...)

I've seen claims that the (I think) O($200k) crowd is being targeted by the admin for soaking via the ATM tax in order to fund the Paris Hilton tax cut linked above.

I'm just sayin' . . . whatever Bush may think of people making $100K+, don't be under the misimpression that the people comprising that group are a bunch of plutocratic Bush voters. Far from it. And a good many of 'em can't be bribed, either.

Sorry to go off topic for a moment but The Month of Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch really, really makes me think of The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment...

Rilkefan,

I'm not sure "visceral" is the anatomical term you want here.

Phil: whatever Bush may think of people making $100K+, don't be under the misimpression that the people comprising that group are a bunch of plutocratic Bush voters. Far from it.

I'm kind of mystified how you get to that from what I said. Bush has supporters - mysteriously - at all income levels, from those who manifestly are losing out, to those who manifestly benefit enormously: and Bush has detractors at all income levels, too. I said nothing about at what income level people may come to support Bush, because I don't think that income has anything to do with that; what I said was the exact reverse - who Bush supports.

Phil:

I believe libertarians are "people whose interests don't happen to align perfectly with (mine) and who don't believe that every need creates a positive obligation to pay for it", precisely as you do.

"evil" is your word, alone. Besides, I don't have the religious pedigree to be tossing the word "evil" around like so many do in the Republican Party. Whether you do or not, how would I know? But if you do, well, stop it; it makes me feel evil, and then I become evil and where will we end up? I suspect with someone who can take Tom Delay on on his terms, but that's another discussion.

What kind of puppies? Dobermans? ;)

Not actually esteemed, either. Merely steamed.

It seemed like you were trying to imply a cozier relationship, Jes, between Bush and people at those income levels, but I was apparently just reading too much into it. My bad.

For the heck of it, and argument I have been encountering favoring estate tax repeal and other top-end targeted tax cuts:

With oilarchy and Chinese cash accumulation, if we don't empower our own rich to buy real estate and factories our not-friends will end up owning us.

FWIW.

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