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March 25, 2015

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I would say that "conservatives" and "liberals" generally disagree on how we are obliged toward each other. Where they agree (and disagree with the libertarians) is that we ARE obliged toward each other.

As I understand it, the libertarian view is that all "obligations" towards others are strictly matters of convenience. At least, it they do hold some obligations towards others to be real, I have not noticed what those might be. Perhaps someone with closer connections to them can enlighten me.

Maggie was simply trying to appropriate "society" as a term of art. Or more accurately, to foist the term of art on to liberals -- the point being to sneer at liberals, not at the "living tapestry" that she goes on to define exactly as any literate person (liberal or conservative) would expect a dictionary to define the ordinary word "society".

I recognize the strategy, because I use it myself, as when I refer to "The Economy" or "The Free Market". The caps are meant to convey the idea that some people use those terms as proper nouns. Like Thatcher, I am too subtle to openly suggest who I think those people might be.

Unlike Thatcher, I have never been so brazen as to declare that "There is no such thing as The Economy. There is a living tapestry, blah, blah, etc. etc." But maybe that's only because I've never been interviewed by a UK lifestyle magazine.

--TP

I think the primary objection is to the idea that government is THE instrument by which a society manages its common life. An integral instrument, sure, but THE instrument? Monopoly!

This is the part just before the famous line:

I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society?

Standard conservative preface to The Big Point.

I suspect that the poison pill in Thatcher's definition of the "living tapestry" is the phrase "help by our own efforts" the unfortunate, i.e., deliberately excluding any collective effort as organized through government. Which brings us back to the OP's point about the purpose of government, which Thatcher resented and resisted.

I find it interesting that some conservatives want to see a lot of government - particularly that pertaining to welfare - removed and replaced by charitable efforts.

But what is this, but ducking out of their own obligations towards the poor and needy, while still requiring the poor and needy to do their part?

"Which makes me then ask, well what the hell is government if it is not the instrument by which a society manages its common life?"

A protection racket with the public school system for a PR firm, strikes me as a reasonable answer to this question.

But assuming this isn't an entirely fair answer, or at least not a complete answer, I think the part of that question I'd have to take exception to is that "the". As it apparently denies that "society" has any OTHER instruments available. Which leads us into sanbikinoraion's question.

San, aren't you assuming, in your question, that the people who advocate that welfare be replaced with charity aren't donating to charity? Research into this question has demonstrated time and again that conservatives, much to the violation of liberal stereotypes, donate a considerably larger percentage of their income to charity than do liberals.

Meanwhile, given the reality that, with a progressive income tax, the vast majority of liberals aren't paying a proportionate share of the cost of government, wouldn't it be perfectly fair to say that, by advocating welfare funded by OTHER people's taxes, instead of charity funded by their own donations, it is liberals who are ducking out of their own obligations towards the poor and needy? Rather than the conservatives, who are personally signing checks to charities?

well what the hell is government if it is not the instrument by which a society manages its common life?

it's nothing else, except where it's prone to all of the faults and perversions that are inherent in all people. and since government is merely a collection of people, that is to be expected.

If you were to say "an instrument", I might not have a problem with the statement. "The" instrument, I have to take violent exception to, because of the implication that it's the only one.

This is, I think, one of the worst things I can say about government: Society is rather like a climax forest, a fantasically complex web of naturally evolved institutions. When government decides to get into an area, all that get wiped out, in favor of a government monoculture. Like cutting down the forest, and planting a tree farm.

Even if you want to, once you've cut down the forest, you can't put it back by just cutting down the tree farm. You have, irreversibly, lost all that evolved complexity. And, even if the tree farm turns out not to work well, there's no going back in the short run, and going back in the long run is going to be a long, hard, and complex slog.

Stop cutting the damn forests down.

"Stop cutting the damn forests down."

Tree hugger.

Hippie .

Environmental wacko extremist.

Spotted owl outside agitator.

Job destroyer.

Smokey the Bear lover

Anti-development progress stopper

Lumber Liquidator liquidator

Carbon dioxide hater

Rainforest- loving parade rainer-on ruiner

Purple people eating poplar planter

Regulating redwood redistributionist

Reforestation fanatic

Anti-Christmas fir tree farm multiculturalist

Al gore enabler


I love this internet thingy.

"Tree hugger.

Hippie .

Environmental wacko extremist."

Yup, that's me. Used to live in the country, where I was gradually turning an abandoned farm into a forest. I miss the loon that used to visit my pond.

In the 2000 election campaign I welcomed the pharase "compassionate conservatism"' as it then was supposed to mean that conservatives thought there were better ways to raise the poor out of poverty than cold impersonal government programs. Typically they advocated faith based programs. I didn't agree with the argument, but I liked the apparent sincerity of people wanting to help the poor--the debate would be over the best method. I didn't trust Bush, but approved of the rhetoric.

As it turned out, it was largely a fraud and there was a Christian in the Bush Administrtion who became disillusioned and wrote a book about it, but I've forgotten his name. And nowadays the Republican Party seems back to plain old contempt for poor people, with any compassion a distinct after-thought at best.

I love the woods.

If my IPad spent less time substituting one word for another and more time correcting actual mistakes, I' d think better of it. Administration, not Administrtion.

When the other loons hear me coming, they make way for the looniet loon of them all.

Brett: " with a progressive income tax, the vast majority of liberals aren't paying a proportionate share of the cost of government,"

Assuming facts not in evidence.

(OR a severely skewed definition of "proportionate.")

Regarding charity supplanting government spending for the poor, the unemployed, and the sick, and the old, there is nothing stopping private actors from not firing and laying people off, providing cradle to grave medical coverage on a par with Medicare, Medicaid, etc. and greatly expanding the medical workforce, not to mention the need for orphan drug designations.

There never was, even before those programs were instituted by government after nearly two centuries of cooling our heels waiting for charity to do the job.

But every time charity was encouraged, even via the tax code, we were told

charity begins at home.

If charity was up to the job, there wouldn't be collection agencies and the constant requirement for return on investment.

The entire charity gambit, other than supplementing around the edges of what is required, is horsesh$t


Society is rather like a climax forest, a fantasically complex web of naturally evolved institutions. When government decides to get into an area, all that get wiped out, in favor of a government monoculture.

When government decides? What sort of beings compose the government, as opposed to the sort of beings who compose those naturally evolved institutions? Has the institution of government unnaturally evolved?

"OR a severely skewed definition of "proportionate."

You know, "proportionate" is a mathematical term. I'm not using a "skewed" definition of it, I'm using the actual definition.

The top 20% of earners in America pay over half of the taxes. So, even were I to assume that the upper half of the income distribution were all Democrats, it's true that over half of all Democrats would be paying less than half of the taxes.

"Let's you and him help the poor!" That's what you're saying, when you want the poor supported by the government, AND a progressive tax system. Unless maybe you're a millionaire.

Brett says: A protection racket with the public school system for a PR firm

Paul Krugman calls it "An insurance company with a sideline in military operations".

PK is explicitly referring to the federal government. BB seems to be as well, most of the time, although he invariably speaks of The Government as a sort of reified Platonic form, like The Free Market, or even Society. I mean, if the public schools are operated by The Government, and the Air Force is operated by The Government, then "The Government" is a pretty broad term of art.

--TP

One of the reasons to help the poor goes beyond the immediate moral obligation one might feel. A larger aspect is that keeping people out of utter desperation makes them more likely to be able to help themselves in the longer term, reducing the need for others to provide their most basic survival needs for them in perpetuity.

Despite the presumption on some people's part that Democrats are purposefully stringing along a permanent underclass to secure a voting block, the rationale is, at least in part, that you lift people to a point after which they lift themselves.

the difference in giving is not due to liberalism or conservatism, it's due to religiosity.

New Hampshire, meanwhile, is apparently living up to its “live free or die” motto. The state ranked at the bottom of the generosity list, with just 1.74 percent of residents giving money to charity.

Libertarians...

My favorite quote from cleek's link:

New Hampshire, meanwhile, is apparently living up to its “live free or die” motto. The state ranked at the bottom of the generosity list, with just 1.74 percent of residents giving money to charity.

as to this claim:

the difference in giving is not due to liberalism or conservatism

There really isn't the data to make that claim in the article. None of the data described in the article (and the link to the study appears broken) really seems to isolate the effects of religion from political leaning.

We have three correlations...conservative regions tend to claim increased charity on their tax returns, religious regions tend to also do so, and there is a good deal of overlap between conservative and religious.

Identifying which, if either, of those is causative and to what extent can not be shown by that data.

Identifying which, if either, of those is causative and to what extent can not be shown by that data.

look at Utah. LDS requires 10% tithing. and not surprisingly, Utah averages over 10%. also, Utah and Idaho (also heavily Mormon) are the only two non-Bible belt states in the top ten.

also:


When religious giving isn’t counted, the geography of giving is very different. Some states in the Northeast would jump into the top 10 when secular gifts alone are counted. New York would vault from No. 18 to No. 2 in the rankings, and Pennsylvania would climb from No. 40 to No. 4.

...

Nonprofit boosters in New Hampshire might be happier if religion were excluded. A study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that the residents of New Hampshire—which ranked dead last in both surveys by The Chronicle—weren’t stingy; they were simply nonbelievers.

“New Hampshire gives next to nothing to religious organizations,” says Patrick Rooney, the center’s leader, “but their secular giving is identical to the rest of country.”


"Which makes me then ask, well what the hell is government if it is not the instrument by which a society manages its common life?"

A protection racket with the public school system for a PR firm, strikes me as a reasonable answer to this question.

As succinct a statement of the libertarian worldview as I can remember encountering. And for an authoritarian government, it might even have some merit.

But for anything resembling a democracy, it amounts to saying that nobody should ever have to accept anything that they do not personally support. No matter if everybody else in the world thinks differently. Which, taken to its logical extreme, means that I should be free to kill my neighbor and raze his house, should I want to improve my view in that direction. (Of course, he is free to do the same, if he can get there first.) Your morals may keep you from doing so. But the philosophy clearly does not.

LDS requires 10% tithing.

So, what is religion (and not just this one) but an extortion racket, with Sunday School as a PR division? Seems like a logical parallel to the view of government....

"But for anything resembling a democracy, it amounts to saying that nobody should ever have to accept anything that they do not personally support."

No, it amounts to saying that, if don't pay taxes, the government doesn't simply deprive you of services, it affirmatively attacks you. Protection rackets aren't defined by not offering actual protection, because they frequently do find it expedient to do that. They're defined by what happens to you when you decide not to buy protection.

If you find out you were buying protection from THEM, it's a protection racket.

OK, but if you don't pay taxes you must (to be true to your views) also refrain from using anything that is paid for by taxes. Including the roads. Including clean water. Including clean air. Because, after all, you haven't paid for it.**

But you don't do that, do you? Instead, you seem to want to get to pick and choose which functions of government you pay for. While ignoring the fact that policing a policy of "only use what you paid for" requires a far larger government than we currently have. And far more control over all of our lives.

** And that would have to include control of the borders and immigration, wouldn't it?

look at Utah.

First off, even assuming Utah is uniformly tithing mormons, the Provo-Orem metro rate of 13.9% still leads to 3.9% that isn't explained by tithing. Additionally, not all Utahians are mormons, and not all mormons tithe (although my understanding is most do).

Second, none of that actually contradicts what I said. To support your point, you linked another article about the same study with more detail. One of the first paragraphs:

The reasons for the discrepancies are rooted in part in each area’s political philosophy about the role of government versus charity: At least 13 states now offer special tax benefits to charity donors, often in the hopes of stimulating giving at the same time that lawmakers are adopting big cuts in government services.

Right before the top of your quote:

Tax incentives matter. State policies that promote giving can make a significant difference and in some cases are influencing the rankings.

and right below the bottom of your quote:

In The Chronicle’s study, New Hampshire rises from last to 38th—still in the bottom quartile—after the adjustment to remove religious giving.

More to the point, the article overall supports the view that many factors influence charitable giving, and doesn't, by any means, provide enough data or analysis to support your original assertion.

Property is theft!

-discuss.

(bobbyp imitation of Charles WT-I hope this is not a copyright infringement! :))

still leads to 3.9% that isn't explained by tithing

i certainly never claimed it was all tithing.

Additionally, not all Utahians are mormons, and not all mormons tithe

which are a couple of additional things i didn't claim.

To support your point, you linked another article about the same study with more detail

entirely true! a point of agreement!

and here i thought you were just arguing for the sake of arguing. :)

but that bit about NH pretty much ties it up for me. if you exclude religious charity, NH, NY, and PA jump way up in the lists and a lot of the Bible belt and Mormon states fall back towards the middle. which suggests pretty strongly that religious giving (which is definitely not all about helping the homeless and hungry) is a big reason some states look like big charitable givers and others look stingy.

Charity giving, money and time, is the last ditch support for the most in need. To characterize it as bs is a crock. Until they weren't, Catholic hospitals were healthcare for the poor. Food banks, church and not, feed millions every day. Each of those charities more closely reflects our society than any government. Hospice volunteers help the elderly. Pine Street Inn volunteers look for the homeless every winter night, to distribute food and blankets, on the street. These types of charities make a difference, every day.

totally OT, but is anyone else seeing this "vindicosuite" redirect thing when following links in or from this site?

Googling "vindicosuite" doesn't give me the warm fuzzies.

cleek:

i certainly never claimed it was all tithing

The only claim I have an objection to is what I already quoted:

the difference in giving is not due to liberalism or conservatism

My apparent misunderstanding was that you were offering the additional examples from the second article to bolster that point, I was simply explaining why I didn't find them sufficient in that regard.

Putting aside my apparent misunderstanding of your response, I'll return to that assertion: It is not supported by the study you linked.

Indeed, I quoted sections of the article that specifically note political contributors to the data. To be clear, I'm not saying religion and religious giving doesn't play a role, just that the article doesn't actually rule out a political ideology as a contributor. Again, to be clear, I'm not arguing political ideology DOES, just that the article you linked doesn't show that it doesn't.

but that bit about NH pretty much ties it up for me.

Moving from dead last to still in the bottom quartile ties it up for you?

which is definitely not all about helping the homeless and hungry

Hey, one of many things *I* never claimed. :)

Although, all the food pantrys and soup kitchens I've volunteered in were run by religious organizations.

To try to avoid a long bout of talking past each other, I'd agree its pretty likely that giving to religions is (a) a large part of charitable giving and (b) membership with a religious organization likely explains a good chunk of charitable giving.

But what that study didn't demonstrate was what you asserted. And further, given how heavily correlated religion and political ideology are, its a non-trivial matter to isolate the effects of those two factors.

Maggie was simply trying to appropriate "society" as a term of art

Standard conservative preface to The Big Point.

I suspect that the poison pill in Thatcher's definition of the "living tapestry" is the phrase "help by our own efforts"

Agreed on all three points.

I was just pleased to find Thatcher the idea that humans were interconnected, and/or had any sort of mutual obligation, at all, whether expressed through public or private means.

I was also surprised to hear the pre-eminent UK conservative of her generation talk approvingly about things like grants to help people transition from welfare to employment, and disapprovingly about firing people without notice or severance.

Even if her concern in the last case extended mostly, or only, to people in government.

As always, I would be delighted to have the UK's conservatives here in the US.

What I find lacking in Thatcher's comments is any apparent sense that folks who are at a disadvantage - the "unfortunate" - might be in that place for reasons not of their own making, and outside of their control.

It's not a lack of "good fortune" when deliberate decisions made, by others, result in your losing your job, or being unable to afford your home, or medical care, or any other necessary thing.

One man's good idea is another man's disaster. Interconnection works in all kinds of ways.

What I was mostly interested in was her sense that it is the interconnection of *people*, and the mutual obligations of *people*, that make up that mysterious thing that she avoids calling by its proper name, which is society.

There is such a thing as society, her whole interview is all about society and how and why it does or does not succeed in fulfilling the obligations we all bear toward each other. She clearly recognizes it as what it actually is, she just doesn't want to utter the name.

For whatever reason.

What I would be interested in exploring further is the question of what our obligations actually are to each other.

What are they, how far do they extend, what do they include and exclude. Because that is really the basis of understanding what the terms of our public life should be.

As far as charity vs government, it's utterly unclear to me how private charity will scale to the kinds of things we rely on government to address.

47% of Americans are on food stamps. Medical remedies involving major surgery, or chemo or radio therapies, cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Bake sales aren't gonna do it.

As far as who gives more the charity, I really don't give a crap. It's clear to me that some of the difference has to do with the overlap of conservative and religious, and I'm not sure that religious tithing counts as "charity". To me it's more like dues you pay to belong to a club that you're a member of.

Who knows, maybe the rest of the difference is explained by liberals not taking all of the deductions they're entitled to.

Your guess is as good as mine.

I'd offer an opinion about "climax forests", but the topic makes me too hot and sweaty. I'm afraid any comments I'd make would end up sounding like a "Dear Penthouse forum" letter.

What do we owe each other, as fellow members of a political and social community.

That's what I want to understand.

"which suggests pretty strongly that religious giving (which is definitely not all about helping the homeless and hungry)"

I think you're going to have to unpack that.

"Googling "vindicosuite" doesn't give me the warm fuzzies."

That's putting it mildly, and, yes, I've been seeing that lately when clicking links at this site. Including links I created myself, and know quite well aren't to there.

Moving from dead last to still in the bottom quartile ties it up for you?

NH, NY, PA, etc..

I think you're going to have to unpack that.

it takes a lot of tithing to keep church leaders rollin in the dough, and to gold plate the domes and build those sparkly new church buildings. and none of that does a thing to feed hungry people.

As always, I would be delighted to have the UK's conservatives here in the US.

Russell, we do have them here. They make up the most conservative quarter (wild-ass estimate) of the Democratic Party, most of the independents, and a few folks from the moderate/liberal end of the Republican Party.

"which suggests pretty strongly that religious giving (which is definitely not all about helping the homeless and hungry)"

I think you're going to have to unpack that.

Allow me.

Church giving pays for professional and staff salaries, buildings, heat, electricity, music programs, conventions, publications.

It also pays for some amount of direct assistance to homeless and hungry people.

The amount of each depends on the specific religious organization.

Ergo, it's not all about giving to the homeless and the hungry.

"Charitable" giving in the form of church tithing is tax-exempt, but it is not all charitable in the sense of giving to people who are, for some reason, disadvantaged and in need.

I think there being overhead involved in religious charitable giving is somewhat different from it being "not all about helping the homeless and hungry", unless you're going to claim that no charitable giving except direct donation to poor people is worthy. Certainly, it would be news to me that religious charitable giving is categorically worse in the overhead department than secular charities.

You are aware, aren't you, that tithing doesn't need to go through a church?

One man's good idea is another man's disaster. Interconnection works in all kinds of ways.

I'm sort of hung up on the whole anti-vax thing, which this immediately brought to mind.

The Thatcher quote reminds me vividly of a realization that I came to in my teens as the new political right came into fashion in a lot of western democracies. And that realization has held up reasonably well over the decades since.

Thatcher, and others like her, combine a healthy dose of authoritarianism with a world view that does see "society" largely as individuals on the one hand and government on the other. And in theory at least, they value the individual highly and despise the government. But of course that government that they despise must be run by people like themselves, for the greater good of all individuals naturally.

The upshot for Thatcher was that she focused very strongly on neutering or destroying those parts of the tapestry (or forest ecology to use Brett's analogy) where the individual threads came together to form collective groups of individuals who, as a group, might challenge her perception of the world and her power to make it more so. Unions and independent universities were the first and obvious targets for Thatcher. Oddly enough the threads that grouped themselves into limited liability corporations (born of government of course but now seen as independent of it) were not a target.

At the same time I was struck by how much of a mirror image the openly authoritarian communist regimes like Poland provided to the Thatchers of the west. The communists too saw "society" as individuals on the one hand and government on the other but, in theory, valued government and not individuals. And needed to run government for the greater good of all of course. And to do so needed to neuter and destroy any part of the tapestry (the Solidarity Union, Catholic Church)that might challenge their ability to manage things for the greater good.

Nothing new or original in this of course but thanks for the trip down this particular memory lane.

You are aware, aren't you, that tithing doesn't need to go through a church?

I am aware of things you've never even dreamed of.

Yes, I'm aware of that.

A great deal of religious charitable giving goes to churches.

A great deal of money given to churches gets spent on things other than direct assistance to folks in need.

My wife is on the board of deacons of the church which she and I attend, and of which I am a member, and to which I regularly contribute. I've worked for churches. I have no problem with churches, or religion.

Not all of the money given under the aegis of religious "charitable giving" goes to people in need. A great deal of it goes, not to "overhead", but to the cost of operating the church as an organization.

Minister's salary, minister's housing allowance, staff salaries, denominational fees that pay for *their* offices and staff and publications and conventions, music programs and fees to guest musicians, flowers, heat, electricity, printer toner, dry cleaning and laundry bills for robes etc., and so on and so on and so on.

All tax-exempt, but none of what I've named buys anybody a hamburger.

Certainly, it would be news to me that religious charitable giving is categorically worse in the overhead department than secular charities.

I might be news, but it also might be true. There are ways to find out which avenues for charitable giving have the lowest overhead. Some of those may be religious charities, but giving to those charities isn't the same as giving to a church.

I don't really see why givings to churches should result in a tax advantage. Charities should have to meet the same criteria, whether they are run by religious organizations or not.

I'm not at all religious, but I have given to what I thought were worthwhile charities run by religious organizations. The only times I've given anything directly to churches involved complying with social expectations like, say, getting married in church or having my kids baptized and having to provide the necessary pay-off.

(Come to think of it, I don't recall deducting those church gifts, so I may well have acted in accordance with my proposed policy, if inadvertently.)

Can anyone offer up some actual, you know, data on the relative overhead of
a) religious organizations,
b) secular charities,
c) government aid programs?

Some, I know, devote over 90% of their income to their charitible works. Others manage to absorb upwards of 90% in "overhead" (including advertising to gain more donations) -- but I don't know what the overall picture actually is.

I think there being overhead involved in religious charitable giving is somewhat different from it being "not all about helping the homeless and hungry",

first, my comment wasn't intended to be pejorative.

giving to the church is giving to the church, not to a specific charity. and while churches typically do charity, they also do all kinds of things that having absolutely nothing at all to do with charity. they do stuff that is only for members, which makes the donations more, as russell said, "club dues". they act as community centers. they build themselves bigger and shinier buildings. they keep their officials fat and happy. when you give to a church you pay for all the stuff it does, not just for the food drive.

for the obvious and extreme example: the opulence of Vatican City isn't about helping the poor.

and yes, there is overhead in any organization, charitable or otherwise. and some do a better job of controlling overhead than others.

The question of overhead is an interesting one, but just to clarify my point:

Tax-exempt giving to churches for the purpose of funding the operations of the church is not "overhead". The operation of the church, as an organization, *is the purpose* of the giving.

Many or most churches do charitable work, and so some funds given to them will find their way to what would correctly be called charitable purposes.

But people fund the operations of churches because they want the church to exist as a functional organization, for reasons that include but which extend well beyond whatever charitable work they do.

The reason I am making a point of this is because the whole "giving to charity" thing always comes up in discussions like this. And, there's always some claim that some kind of people give a lot, while other kinds of people don't.

If you're going to go down that path, you have to factor in the purpose for which the "charitable gift" is given.

I have no problem with religion, churches, regular giving to churches. All good.

For that matter, if you don't do any of that, I have no problem with that, either.

But giving money to churches does not equate to addressing the tangible needs of people with whom you share a common society.

There is, perhaps, some overlap, but the two are not the same.

Minister's salary, minister's housing allowance, staff salaries, denominational fees that pay for *their* offices and staff and publications and conventions, music programs and fees to guest musicians, flowers, heat, electricity, printer toner, dry cleaning and laundry bills for robes etc., and so on and so on and so on.

Ditto for Red Cross and practically any other charitable organization you can point to, with a few exceptions.

Come to think of it, it'd be interesting to see how much of our tax dollars go to administration of social programs vs. direct aid. That's probably in the realm of what one could find out if one were both interested and inclined to spend the time ferreting it out.

Thanks for the heads up cleek. It is apparently related to sitemeter, which was on this blog. I've deleted some of the sidebar modules, and I hope that I got it, but will keep an eye out. If you get any more redirects, please note it in the comments.

Heh.

I was just logged in, looking for the culprit, too.

There's maybe some crossing-of-the-streams aspect to that.

Ditto for Red Cross and practically any other charitable organization you can point to, with a few exceptions.

I don't want to make too much of this, so last time around on this point, for me (I hope).

The cost of operation for the Red Cross can properly be considered overhead, because the Red Cross exists to do what could properly be considered charitable work - disaster relief, emergency assistance, collecting blood for medical purposes.

The cost of operation of a church isn't really overhead in the same sense. Churches do charitable work, and it's an important part of what they do, but they exist for other reasons.

They are more like a fraternal organization in that sense, and less like a charity per se.

I don't disagree, russell. I had composed that before reading your 1:26pm comment.

My own personal way of looking at this is I give to my own church primarily to keep it alive. To keep it alive is a good thing, from the point of view of the people who attend, but I don't know how much of that money gets turned into direct aid. Not much, probably.

Anyway, I'd love to see conservatives talking again about "compassionate conservatism" and pushing private organizations (religious or not) as the solution to poverty. One could have a real debate about the effectiveness of this or that program (and whether government aid or tax exemptions to religous groups is a good idea or constitutional or whatever) and about whether government programs are better or worse. I think we need government programs, but would be happy to see private organizations outperforming the government in this area. But at least there would be a consensus on our duty to help the poor, rather than feeling contempt for the 47 percent, which to my mind is more what one hears from the Republican Party today.

My church spends the bulk of our offering on keeping itself in business, but there is a big event once a year where we raise about 20,000 for various charities. That money comes from the community as a whole, but that's probably where the bulk of our help to others comes from.

You'll never guess where I found a source of information on how different charities vary in how much of their received donations go to direct aid.

I'd love to see conservatives talking again about "compassionate conservatism" and pushing private organizations (religious or not) as the solution to poverty.

So, my thought about the solution to poverty is this:

People want and need useful work to do, that pays well enough that they can meet their needs and take care of themselves and their families. The reason there is so much poverty in the US, it seems to me, is that there isn't enough of the "useful" and "pays well enough" stuff to go around.

Either that, or about half the country is just too damned lazy.

I find the "too damned lazy" explanation to be lacking.

Social safety nets are great, but if we keep thinking about social safety nets as the solution to 47% of population needing public assistance in order to afford enough to eat, we are never going to get out of the mode of playing catch up.

We need to get *ahead* of the problem, not just keep sticking band-aids on it.

Why isn't there enough of that useful, renumerative work around?

Was it ever there? Where did it go?

How do we create more of it?

Stuff like this - both the positive and negative side of it, both a robust economy and a crappy one - doesn't happen by accident. It's not some weird blessing or curse delivered by the hands of fate.

We make decisions, both individually and collectively, and results flow from them.

Are we obliged to make decisions collectively about this stuff? Or should we all just do what we think is a good idea and let the chips fall?

If we're just going to let the chips fall, what do we owe the folks who end up holding the short end of the stick?

How many of short-end-holders do there have to be before "letting the chips fall" starts to look like a bad idea?

If we're making decisions collectively, whose interests do we have to take into account?

Food stamps are better than starving, but having enough in the first place is even better than that.

This:

Tax-exempt giving to churches for the purpose of funding the operations of the church is not "overhead". The operation of the church, as an organization, *is the purpose* of the giving.

and this:

The cost of operation for the Red Cross can properly be considered overhead, because the Red Cross exists to do what could properly be considered charitable work - disaster relief, emergency assistance, collecting blood for medical purposes.

The cost of operation of a church isn't really overhead in the same sense. Churches do charitable work, and it's an important part of what they do, but they exist for other reasons.

are quite right.

I'd say were using "overhead" in a very loose fashion, in the sense of something like "what percentage of a donation doesn't go to helping the poor?" regardless of whether or not helping the poor was the goal of the donation.

The question is does raise, though, (or maybe fails to address) is whether or not giving money to a church so they can run the church should result in a dollar-for-dollar tax exemption.

That's not to say people shouldn't give money to their churches, of course.

I find myself in complete agreement with russell's 2:57.

In regards to social safety nets, I think it's important to distinguish between short term and long term unemployment. I think short term social safety nets are relatively cheap and functional. Unemployment insurance that smooths over things financially until you bounce back is great. It protects people from having to save a lot and/or liquidate assets like cars or houses to stay afloat.

Longterm unemployment is far worse, and it's also hard to get out of: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/12/10-reasons-long-term-unemployment-national-catastrophe

And I don't think that is something that can be really fixed by unemployment benefits alone. Beyond the loss of a paycheck, longterm unemployment is profoundly bad for people.

Why isn't there enough of that useful, renumerative work around?

Increased productivity per worker I think is one driver. I mean, US manufacturing output is strong and getting stronger:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/OUTMS

While jobs are slightly more anemic:

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES3000000001
(adjust start to 1987 match the Fed data)

And what's not being done by robots is shipped oversees.

The overseas portion will change over time, as china gets over its glut of labor and people demand a higher standard of living.

How many of short-end-holders do there have to be before "letting the chips fall" starts to look like a bad idea?

Hopefully before they are sharpened into spears.

The question is does raise, though, (or maybe fails to address) is whether or not giving money to a church so they can run the church should result in a dollar-for-dollar tax exemption.

We could completely remove the exemption system and not have to worry about whether various peoples charitable inclinations are in line with societal goals.

Also less paperwork around this time.

That's not to say people shouldn't give money to their churches, of course.

Absolutely.

In fact, by exempting this as "taxable income" to religious organizations and allowing "deductions" from the taxable income of givers, we are making a social (there's that f*cking word again) decision that "takes" from some and "gives" to others.

Forcibly. All backed up by that predatory protection racket, aka The Government.

Incredible.

This is a concept that appears to be beyond the, as currently construed in the USofA, conservative mindset.

Because Liberty.

Why isn't there enough of that useful, renumerative work around?

Was it ever there? Where did it go?

This first is actually a two part question. I think most of us can think of useful stuff that needs doing but isn't getting done. Increased productivity notwithstanding. (Hence, among other things, the suggestion to revive the Civilian Construction Corps.) So that isn't the issue.

As for the second question, it is pretty clear that, the Great Depression excepted, mostly there has been sufficient work to keep people alive. (Otherwise, we would have had a history of starvation, right?)

So the question becomes, why doesn't that work that needs doing pay enough? When, manifestly, it once did. Perhaps we could look at the relative returns to labor vs capital.

Then we could look at what has changed. Possibly starting with the way we changed the tax structure to benefit capital gains (returns to capital) relative to earned income (returns to labor). We know what the arguments were for doing that -- increased investment leading to more economic growth and more money for everybody. And, in practice, did that work? Hmmm....

You'll never guess where I found a source of information on how different charities vary in how much of their received donations go to direct aid.

I was SHOCKED when I saw that!

russel: Why isn't there enough of that useful, renumerative work around?

thompson: "Increased productivity per worker I think is one driver. I mean, US manufacturing output is strong and getting stronger.."

Since 2008, the USA has been in a classic depression. Demand dropped, as everyone tried to pay down their debts (or build up reserves, because of defaults on debts). Companies have been sitting on large (and getting larger) piles of cash, but not expanding, because the demand just isn't there.

Meanwhile, the usual source of added demand (government deficit spending, aka 'fiscal stimulus') has been choked off for political reasons. So it has taken a long, long time to get back to 'normal', and what would normally be a short-term safety net has turned into a long-term problem.

It takes a huge stimulus to turn around a depressed economy; for the Great Depression, in spite of a decade of effort, it took WWII to do the job.

Those who forget the past, etc., etc.

"The upshot for Thatcher was that she focused very strongly on neutering or destroying those parts of the tapestry (or forest ecology to use Brett's analogy) where the individual threads came together to form collective groups of individuals who, as a group, might challenge her perception of the world and her power to make it more so. Unions and independent universities were the first and obvious targets for Thatcher. Oddly enough the threads that grouped themselves into limited liability corporations (born of government of course but now seen as independent of it) were not a target."

Just like the Right in the USA - they focus on those groups which are politically opposed, and make a big deal about how they are illegitimate, and to be destroyed.

The ones which are politically favorable are preserved.


'Keep government hands off of my Medicare'

The top 20% of earners in America pay over half of the taxes

And what percentage of total earnings do they earn ?

You mean, "What percentage of total income do they receive?"

Nigel, FYI, the fact that the top 20% of earners pay over half of the taxes is a result of what Ronald Reagan considered one of the greatest accomplishments of his tenure as President: The tax structure was reformed, and the tax rate on lowest income earners' was reduced to zero.

So, obviously, everybody else's portion of the taxes actually collected rose. If you collect no taxes on the lowest 50% of earners, and you collect a flat tax on the rest, the top earners are going to end up paying a substantial majority of the taxes collected. But apparently this simple kind of arithmetic is beyond those who get hysterical about how much the top earners pay.

The top 20% of earners in America pay over half of the taxes. So, even were I to assume that the upper half of the income distribution were all Democrats, it's true that over half of all Democrats would be paying less than half of the taxes.

I have no idea what point you are trying to make here. Or even what the total set of assumptions is.

Are you suggesting that Democrats are (in your extreme case) the upper half of the income distribution and Republicans the lower half? But then Republicans aren't paying much at all, likely not enough to fund even the things Republicans want, like useless ships and planes and whatnot.

I don't think it's very useful to equate charitable contributions as defined by the IRS statistics with some general notion of "helping the needy."

There's the much-discussed issue of religious contributions, of course. And add to that lots of gifts to universities, private schools, cultural institutions, and so on. The University of Alabama athletic program was the beneficiary of about $34 million in contributions in 2013, for example.

Then there are all sorts of groups that operate under 501(c)3 to promote various agendas.

So any talk about who gives how much to help people who actually need help is meaningless without much better data.

"so it has taken a long, long time to get back to 'normal',"

Slightly dated but relevant graph

It used to be that a recession was followed by something called a "recovery", where the economy improved faster than normal for a bit, until it reached approximately where continued normal growth would have gotten the economy.

After the 80's, things began changing, and the modern 'recovery' isn't a bounce back to the prior trajectory. Rather, the recession hits bottom, and then normal economic growth resumes from the bottom, and the loss of the recession is never made up.

We're not looking at old style recessions and recoveries. We're looking at stepwise drops in the economy which we never recover from.

"Are you suggesting that Democrats are (in your extreme case) the upper half of the income distribution and Republicans the lower half?"

Nothing like that. I'm saying that, even in that hypothetical situation, most Democrats would not be paying their share of the cost of government programs.

It's easy to advocate requiring somebody else to help the poor. People who contribute to charity aren't having somebody else shoulder the burden, they're picking it up themselves.

To follow up on what Yukoner wrote, that interview was given in 87, right after she won her third term. Her first term was a flop, with the Brixton riots occurring at the end, and she was only reelected to a second term in 1983 because she was able to use the Falkland conflict. Going into that 2nd term, she dismantled trade labor unions, most notably the miners in 84-85. At the same time as this speech, planning was taking place for the Community Charge, that was an attempt to undermine local councils that were primarily Labor.

A year later, she gave her 'Sermon on the Mound', which attempted to provide a theological justification for her programs, which doubled the poverty level in the UK. The woman was really a piece of work.

Nothing like that. I'm saying that, even in that hypothetical situation, most Democrats would not be paying their share of the cost of government programs.

Maybe I'm dense today, but again, I don't get what you are arguing here. Maybe a numerical example would help.

Or are you just saying that only Democrats want the government to spend money, so they should be entirely responsible for paying the tab? Or what? Are you referring just to social programs? Then what about defense, which many Democrats might want to see cut?

Or do you think everyone should just pay the same absolute amount of taxes?

I'm saying that, even in that hypothetical situation, most Democrats would not be paying their share of the cost of government programs.

Just out of curiosity, how does the implicit assumption here that Democrats are the ones who mostly take money from the government (i.e. others) square with the fact that the states with big Republican majorities are the ones which have the highest net Federal payments vs Federal taxes paid? Seems like, if the Democrats are the ones sucking at the government teat, they should be net tax payers....

Regardless of how the statistics of who pays what share and how much programs favored by whomever cost, it's so attenuated from individual decision-making and individual policy preferences that it's nothing more than noise. And anyone who favors a government program - which must cost money at some point, even if it saves it later, once everyone has forgotten why - can be made out not to pay their share when compared to someone who's against government programs (and their costs).

None of which says a thing about how worthwhile a given program is, mind you.

It's easy to advocate requiring somebody else to help the poor.

A moment of reflection will reveal that contributing to the public coffers to help people out via public programs, and contributing personal money to charities to do the same, both work out to contributing to help people out.

Really, your obsessive, knee-jerk animus toward anything government-related makes your comments here kind of a parody of thinking.

I don't mean to be rude, it's just at the point where any of us could just write your comments for you.

regarding income and tax share by quintile, per the CBO as of 2011 the top quintile received a little over half of all pre-tax income, and paid a little less than 70% of all federal taxes.

Those numbers are inclusive of all types of income, and all types of federal tax.

We have a progressive tax system, those figures seem pretty reasonable to me.

YMMV

And isn't it great that our government puts all of this information at our fingertips?

It's easy to advocate requiring somebody else to help the poor.

And it is easier to advocate doing nothing. This is especially so when bathed in the self righteous certitude of moral superiority.

Easy is as easy does, brother. Praise God and pass the donation plate.

We have a progressive tax system

What about sales tax ?
How significant a proportion of revenue is that ?

In the UK it's pretty high, with VAT at 20%, and (for instance) tax on petrol (gasoline) making our pump prices around double what yours are.
While VAT is not levied on 'necessities' such as food, it makes the overall tax equation considerably less progressive.

"A moment of reflection will reveal that contributing to the public coffers to help people out via public programs, and contributing personal money to charities to do the same, both work out to contributing to help people out."

Yeah, I'm just pointing out that advocating that said public coffers mostly be filled by a small segment of the population situated unlike yourself, turns it into a case of, "Let's you and him help the poor". You're throwing a nickle into the kitty, and requiring somebody else to throw in a fiver.

situated unlike yourself

you have no idea what my W2 looks like.

That's true, you could be a slumming millionaire. My favorite site used to be a discussion forum hosted by Pete DuPont.

But I'm fairly confident the majority of people advocating progressive taxation, and welfare over charity, are not millionaires.

You're throwing a nickle into the kitty, and requiring somebody else to throw in a fiver.

I'm fairly confident the majority of people advocating progressive taxation, and welfare over charity, are not millionaires.

I'm sorry, but this is just stupid.

Do you think that donations to charities doesn't also vary by income level? Is everybody who argues for letting charity do it all cutting great big checks to the United Way (or whoever)?

Poor people don't pay much, or any, income tax, yet they donate great sums to charity?

Rich people pay large amounts of taxes, but only nickels to charity?

You just don't like government as an instrument of addressing this stuff. That's a perfectly reasonable point of view, although not one I agree with.

Why not just stick with that simple, but reasonable, point, and not twist yourself into making stupid insupportable statements.

We all get that you don't want government doing any kind of redistribution. Just say that, and leave off the mind-reading and other BS.

Also, the five cent coin is spelled "nickel".

Glad to be of help.

What about sales tax ?
How significant a proportion of revenue is that ?

In the US, sales tax is generally a state or local municipality thing, rather than federal.

But you are correct, sales taxes, levied by whoever, tend to be regressive.

At the federal level, the social security and other payroll taxes are either flat or absolutely regressive, which somewhat offsets the progressive nature of the income tax. Those numbers are factored into the CBO numbers I cited upthread.

"Glad to be of help."

Thanks, actually. Had that sort of problem ever since the chemo; I find the wrong word slipping in infuriatingly often, and have particular problems with confusing homophones.

"Poor people don't pay much, or any, income tax, yet they donate great sums to charity?"

Interestingly, while the wealthy tend to donate larger amounts to charity, the percentages tend to go up as you decend the income scale, until you reach income levels where the necessities of survival prevent giving to charity.

I'm fairly confident the majority of people advocating progressive taxation, and welfare over charity, are not millionaires.

I'm sorry, but this is just stupid.

I disagree. It is probably entirely correct and it is probably completely true that the vast majority of those calling for (1) higher taxes and (2) more 'giving through taxing' are not themselves in line to pay many if any of the taxes they propose.

From the high taxpayer side, I would like to see a bit more judgment exercised by those who want more of my money. Our national budget is in the trillions. I see no effort, nada, zip, none, to take the bazillions already being gathered and attempting to use them more rationally. Rather, we have these wide ranging, largely pointless discussions of "how much should we do?" rather than the far more pragmatic "are we making rational use of the monies we are taking in?"

Proponents of more taxing and spending need to first establish their competence to manage what they have.

Regardless of how the statistics of who pays what share and how much programs favored by whomever cost, it's so attenuated from individual decision-making and individual policy preferences that it's nothing more than noise. And anyone who favors a government program - which must cost money at some point, even if it saves it later, once everyone has forgotten why - can be made out not to pay their share when compared to someone who's against government programs (and their costs).

I disagree again. If someone pays 35% or more of their annual income in Federal taxes alone, that number is objectively significant. If someone's income is 98% 'earned income', absent stupid investment schemes designed to throw off losses, there are a limited number of tax deferral options (401K and HSA being the main two). Otherwise, you have to spend a dollar to deduct a dollar and basic arithmetic will tell you that spending a dollar to save 42% is a bad deal. The point here is that, despite widespread mythology that high earners don't pay their share of income tax, that is bullshit. "Earned income" is a term of art for money that, inter alia, is taxed progressively and is subject to very limited deductions. So, there aren't any meaningful avoidance schemes for the vast majority of high earners.

So, when the discussion gets around, as it often does, to the topic at hand, the subtext is "we need more money for the needy". Really? And at what point will the needy's needs be met? Because, front and center, the remaining 60% of what I make is considered fair game for further taxation by those who don't feel I am giving enough.

There is zero attenuation if the marginal tax rate goes up X points to meet 'unmet needs'. That increase comes directly out of my pocket.

I am to the concept of helping others. I am not open to being shamed, cajoled or compelled to give more by those who have taken so much already and, having used it so ineffectively, have the stones to ask for more.

PS--I don't like credentialing as a means of making an argument. Let me just say my personal observations on the topic of charitable giving cover several decades and a multitude of charitable endeavors that gov't simply cannot address. Aside from the money, which is considerable, huge amounts of limited time are expended by people who have plenty of other things to do. There is a very real misapprehension about high earners, charitable giving and the impact of charitable giving and those whose narratives compel them to believe otherwise are victims of their own prejudices, not hard facts.

while the wealthy tend to donate larger amounts to charity, the percentages tend to go up as you decend the income scale

First, if you want to persist in this argument, at some point you'll need to show your work. Numbers, references to some source for this information, etc.

What I think you will actually find is that the curve is U-shaped, but I'll leave you to it if you want to go dig.

Second, as has been noted upthread, not all "charitable" giving goes to relieve people who are in any kind of financial distress. So, if you want to pursue this line of argument, you will need to not only show who gives, and in what amounts, but what the money is used for.

But in any case, the basic claim you are making is bullshit. People of all income levels argue for government involvement in addressing the consequences of poverty, and people of all income levels also say that it should be left to charity.

The claim that folks arguing for government involvement are "making that other guy do it" is horseshit.

If you'd like to go dig up some actual information that supports the claim that opinions about government vs charity vary with income level, or amount of tax paid, by all means have at it.

I'd start with explaining how that squares with your other claim (likely false) that the poor - the folks who pay the least in taxes, and therefore would be most likely, according to you, to want the feds to bail them out - also contribute the most in charity, as a percentage of income.

So, by all means continue down this path if you like, but you have some work to do.

What I'd really like is to not obsess about "who is responsible for the poor?" and instead ask "why are so many people poor?"

And, can anything be done about it? Not handouts, but changes that will result in them finding, or inventing, or somehow acquiring, useful and remunerative work?

And, if something can be done, *whose job is it to do it*?

Do we just wait for the magic Invisible Hand to drive wages here down far enough that American labor can compete with folks who just left the water buffalo farm somewhere in Burma?

We're sort of half-way to that now, and what we see is that in many or most places, people making anything in the vicinity of minimum wage don't make enough money to pay rent, buy food, go the doctor, and keep a car on the road.

How much worse does that have to get? Do we wait until everybody is so poor that the price of everything else ends up coming down as well? How does that happen without also pissing away the current value of things like real estate, land, and infrastructure?

Is it our job, as a polity, to try to understand and address those things, or do we just wait around until everything reaches homeostasis?

Wherever that ends up being?

I disagree again.

You might not have gotten my point, McKinney, since you came in late and given your response. Brett is using income percentiles as they correlate (to whatever extent) to party affiliation to demonstrate that Democrats don't pay their share of taxes but favor all these give-aways to the poor, as though individuals who vote for Democtrats are formulating their policy preferences based on whatever percentage of Democrats fall into whatever quintile and what percentage of total federal taxes people in those quintiles pay.

It's utterly daft.

I'm not saying anyting here about what program X dollars should be spent on or what marginal tax rates should be. I'm just calling BS on Brett's BS argument.

It is probably entirely correct and it is probably completely true that the vast majority of those calling for (1) higher taxes and (2) more 'giving through taxing' are not themselves in line to pay many if any of the taxes they propose.

True as stated, because the majority of any group of people selected by any criteria other than income level *are not going to have that much money*.

Because a lot of people in this country *don't have a lot of money*.

are we making rational use of the monies we are taking in?

Yes, that's an excellent question.

How that applies to the government differently that it applies to private organizations, charitable or otherwise, escapes me.

People shouldn't waste the resources they are responsible for managing. Consider the point ceded.

So, when the discussion gets around, as it often does, to the topic at hand, the subtext is "we need more money for the needy". Really?

As the OP on this thread, I'm here to say that that *was not the subtext of the post*. Not the text, not the subtext, not the supertext, no kinda text at all.

The needy don't need our money. They need a way to not be needy.

There are people who, due to some irremediable problem or other, can't do for themselves. I'm sure we're all on board with helping them.

Those people aren't the problem. The problem are the millions and millions and millions of people who can't, in our current environment, find a way to acquire anything resembling a financially secure life.

Not great wealth, just something more than staying a tiny step ahead of bankruptcy for 40 years, then living on a $10K a year SS stipend.

Why are there so many of those people?

Is there something that can be done about it? Not stupid handouts, but investment in infrastructure, basic industrial planning, education, micro-loans to start small businesses, whatever.

Is there something that can be done by *anybody*, I don't care who, to address that?

And if so, whose job is it? Is it the job of the body politic, working through public means, or are we required to keep our hands off and wait for the private sector - charitable, for-profit, whatever - to make it all happen?

Or, do we all just sit on our hands and wait for everything to take its course and see where we land?

Welcome back, McKinney. I missed your particular style of wrongness recently:)

No time right now to "unpack" that, but one thing that you're stylistically wrong about is this: the feds tax your income, not you. It's business, it's not personal, if you'll pardon the cue to Brett to give us an encore of his "protection racket" aria.

--TP

Again, I think russell is dead on at 9:02. Those are the questions we should ask, and aren't.

And, can anything be done about it?

Infrastructure. That work is hard to export.

End the drug war and enact sentencing reform. Fewer people will be permanently marred by long periods of incarceration.

Tax reform. Remove the thumb on scales that overvalues investments and home ownership.

There's so much potential work out there it's sickening.

I regularly drive through what are almost entirely abandandoned and rotting neighborhoods. The buildings are decaying and are beyond repair. They need to be razed and something else needs to be in these places. The off-the-cuff, not terribly creative things that come to mind are parks. But whatever - farms, playgrounds, any combination of those things.

There are roads with more square footage of potholes than intact asphalt. There's trash to be picked up. There are places where they need more cops and better cops. Pay them. There are places where they need more teachers and better teachers. Pay them.

We have large swaths of major cities all across this country that are essentially little, hopeless slices of hell. People need work and better places to live.

I'm focused on these problems, the solutions to which require paying people to do things. There are the things I see in my life, where I find there is tremendous value to be created. I'm sure other people have different experiences and can come up with equally worthwhile things for people who don't currently have work in this country to do.

Where's the money going to come from? Let the feds print the sh1t for all I care. Don't raise McKinney's taxes one red cent. I'm not afraid of that. If the real resources exist - the people and the stuff and the know-how - in sufficient quantity, the money will work itself out just fine. We'll be better off in the long run.

I'm fairly confident the majority of people advocating progressive taxation, and welfare over charity, are not millionaires.

A majority? Probably not. After all, millionaires are a small fraction of the population.

But perhaps the question ought to be, what is the proportion of millionaires in favor of progressive taxation compared to the proportion of non-millionaires? After all, I suspect that it is also true that a numerical majority of those calling for a flat tax are not millionaires. ;-)

People can be philosophically inclined to favor policies which are not entirely in their personal narrow economic interest.

What is, perhaps, special about this forum is that we have both those on the right and those on the left arguing for the same position:
Don't give more money to the poor; figure out how to get them work (which, necessarily, must be work that pays adequately) so they can support themselves.

They both tend to argue against something else that the other side hasn't said on that. Or shift onto other issues altogether. And how to accomplish it is not agreed on. But on that, we seem to be in general agreement.

After all, I suspect that it is also true that a numerical majority of those calling for a flat tax are not millionaires. ;-)

Bingo!

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