One Progressive’s View of the Tax Code

I want to clarify a common stereotyped attribute given to the progressive, that their goal is the redistribution of wealth. I would say that this is not true. The principle for me is that Government does cost money and everyone needs to pay his or her fair share. Before each ideological pole attempts to skewer the sacred cows of the other, I believe that there is enough waste in the administration of Government that we all can agree upon that needs to weeded through first. Because the profit motive is not the driver in the public sector, structural inefficiencies remain as an intrinsic part. How many agencies are needlessly overlapping or duplicated? Being in Government procurement for so many years, I know that our agencies are technologically behind and have made large computer software buys of products that were already obsolete by the time we acquire the product. This would not happen at IBM. There is waste in the social programs, DOD, etc. and, we all need to agree that we first must identify and remove it, and it should rankle neither the left nor the right. In my opinion, until this is done, everything else is mere muckraking.

There is nothing in our Constitution that speaks on the equality of outcomes. People have differing abilities, gifts of determination and drive, thus the outcomes; levels of success and achievement are going to vary as well. If I failed to acknowledge this truth, than I am the socialist so many say that politically left leaning people are. But a fundamental premise of this society and a reason why is has remained successful is the idea that any one can with effort and determination rise above his or her current station in life. That has put the damper on revolutionary fervor that has affected other parts of the world. Your station in life is not structurally predetermined for you at birth. The need for at least the illusion of this has appeared in law under our anti-trust legislation that go back to the early 20th century. We hold the idea of competition on a level playing field as a foundation of our economic system, and I believe that is why it has worked so well. All this while, Europe has never had any problem with the concepts of cartels. If people believe that the unethical practices in the economy by those that have an interest in consolidating power in their hands is impossible to overcome, then that premise I had mentioned about America disappears with it. The greed of many will be the equivalent of killing the golden goose.

My fellow hubbers and political analysts, Man with no Pants, Old Poolman and the American Way gave me food for thought the other day. Perhaps, all of Congress is playing good cop/bad cop with the public. I was furious after watching the latest installment of the “60 Minutes” program. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi were asked in an interview how they could accept insider trade information not available to the general public as well as access to IPO (Initial Public Offering) stock share offerings that the guy in the street cannot attain at the advantageous prices that these members of Congress can. Have we created an aristocracy here? These are the kinds of advantages that undermine the idea of ‘level playing field’ and rankles me as a progressive indicating that the advantages people claim to have achieved through hard work is too often obtained unethically and at the expense of the rest of us. Wall Street is a gambling casino that gives one the illusion that you can really be successful, but in reality do you know any gambling casino in business to lose money? The house has the odds stacked in their favor. That is why I often question the idea behind the 401K. What are the chances that you can save and invest over a lifetime of work and have this fund be reasonably intact at the end of 30 to 40 years in this volatile economy? The man of the street can do everything right, and still get whacked on the head for his trouble.

I think that the President Obama is in error by framing the tax increase debate in terms of “the wealthy can afford it”. The issue is not about whether they can afford it or not, but are they paying their fair share? I would rather not go into a populist, share the wealth kind of approach. I am not an economist but I am just putting forth some basic concepts that I would like to see as part of a revised tax code.

I have to abandon the principal that everyone has to pay something, it is not workable. I cannot get blood from a stone. For a person that earns the medium income, let’s say $50,000.00 a year, with 3 dependents I propose:

$50,000- 22,350 (poverty threshold for a family of 4)= Taxable income $27,650 x 10%=$2,765

Everyone can take the deduction, acknowledging the number of dependents is a fair and important part of any tax code. Also the idea that capital gains income is to be exempt is a non-starter. Allowing for the exemption provided above, all income must be subject to taxation at this minimal rate. Those with incomes below the minimum poverty threshold may well not have an income tax. The wealthy should be pleased as their base rate is much lower.

Corporations have made it clear and the recent Supreme Court Decision confirms it in the fact that the classic definition of a corporation as an individual is sustained by their freedom to be treated as an individual regarding its campaign finance contributions. So what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Conservatives say that these companies are being taxed to the point where they are not competitive in global markets. I propose a 15% tax on corporate income, with the only exemption being economic activity on their part that keep American jobs in the United States and/or their conduct of business and economic activity has a direct benefit to the American taxpayer. This is not politicizing the tax code, but recognizing that we all have an interest in insuring that the American people benefit directly in return for tax breaks.

I propose a 15% consumption tax on purchase of goods and services. This tax, in order not to be too regressive, is not applicable for the vast majority of food items and clothing, certain levels of utility usage, etc.

I don’t know, it has to be at least as good as Perry’s and Cain’s programs. I am sure that many of you can think of other justifiable exemptions and circumstances where they may be applied. But, again the danger is getting into the thicket that is the current system. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

I have maintained a spirited debate on the issues of the day with Old Poolman, MWNP (The man with no pants) and American View, I have found them all to be people of good character. We are working on the premise that it is possible for reasonable people with differing ideological and political points of view to actually agree on a common course to address the issues of our time. They are working together on the http://housefireproject.com/. Have a look and judge for yourself.

More by this Author


28 comments

uncorrectedvision profile image

uncorrectedvision 5 years ago from Indiana

Your opening sentences contain with in them the essence of the ideas most objected to by conservatives regarding any discussion with a "progressive" - "everyone must pay his fair share" Everyone is clearly not true - vast and increasing portions of the population are excepted from paying any share while a shrinking number is compelled to pay an ever larger share.

That ever larger "fair" share is to fund policies and programs that award larger and larger public largess to those who pay nothing. Your everyone is, currently, just over 50% of the population. Their "fair" share is 98% of all income taxes while they receive nothing from the ever growing transfer of property to the government then back out to favored constituencies.

So you see, wealth is, in reality, being redistributed by the "progressives" very notion of "fair"ness. And more to the point - what is "fair?" Are "progressives" being "fair" when they demand from one man property for which he has worked and then awards to another man that very property for which he has done nothing but be born into a favored constituency?


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Thank you for your comment, UC, what do you suggest would address the concern of the conservatives?What would be your tax plan


junko profile image

junko 5 years ago

Credence2, You are 1 reasonable and logical Progressive. Your appeal to your fellow hubbers on the right for understanding and acknowledgement of common ground will be dismissed this close to the 2012 election. The President and the Democratic party can expect absolutely no agreements, no matter how logical, senseable, or reasonable until after the election. I can not ignore your your struggle, it is my struggle also, so write on. vote up & useful


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Just my opinion, but, much of the waste and cost of government can be eliminated by simply eliminating things that are outside of the scope of the powers granted to them (by we the people) in the Constitution. If 'we the people' didn't grant government the power to exercise a control over us, then they should not assume the power with the attitude 'what are you going to do about it?'.


uncorrectedvision profile image

uncorrectedvision 5 years ago from Indiana

I have absolutely no solution to where we are today because I am convinced that the American experiment is finished. We are finished as a free people.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, Junko, it is nice to see you back. The next few months will determine if a truce is possible in the current political landscape. If the past is a reliable guide that could well be a 'no'. This SuperCommittee program well may reveal to the public who is serious about reform vs who is serious about obstructionism. Thanks for looking in, Cred2


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hello, FJ

But thats the rub, we already do not agree as to what is outside the proper scope of Government, conservs would like to remove the 16th and 17th amendment and remove social security. Much of this is non-starters for the left. The vision of the 'general welfare' is far different today than what was conceived by men in powdered wigs and knee britches. No one side is going to allow the other to cut into its sacred cow. So we are simply left on what we can agree on in regards to reform.

Remember we have the government we voted for.. So, the enemy is us? We did elect a government to oversee the function of governing us all, I would not say control. I have problems with ethics, lack thereof, by those that are supposed to set the example. Congress has in many ways become quite corrupt and the problem is that it isnaive to think that they are going to reform itself. What we can do about it is vote the bad apples out, but the problem cannot be resolved that easily. The very structure of the institution and the liberties it takes for itself needs a complete overhaul, impartial oversight. I am sure that the founding fathers did not anticipate that this would become a problem. Your thoughts are most appreciated...Cred2


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

UC, in response to your last reply. I certainly hope that there remains cause of optimism as to the state of our Union.


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@credence2 - For starters - your tax plan - flat 10% for everyone above the poverty line, and only the amount of income above the poverty level is taxed.

No deductions and no refunds - period. A lot of folks loudly proclaim that we are a Christian nation - well, the Church expects 10% and doesn't ask you how many kids you have, so....

Now, that was a very caviler, and un-thought out response, but it at least shows the direction of my sentiments.

and to finish - yes I do believe those fellows in powdered wigs knew what they meant by "the general welfare". There is plenty of documented evidence; in the Federalist Papers, some of their personal correspondence, and recorded anecdotal recounts of "side-discussions and debates" that took place as they wrangled for the language that would convey their intentions without ambiguity.

It was the elastic interpretations perpetrated by subsequent politicians (to accommodate their desired actions), and purposeful misinterpretations by politicized Courts (many times because they thought they knew better what the founders meant than the founders themselves) that has skewed the meaning of "general welfare" to the point that today's politicians can make it applicable to anything they want - including forcing 12 year old girls to get per-emptive STD shots.

Too many folks think that the problems our country faces, with all its modern societal advancements, and the world evolving into a "global community" are to unique to have been foreseen by the founders. Most of that type of thinking is baloney.

They did foresee that there would be issues they could not know about, nor plan for. That's why the language was so basically concise.

They knew the nature of the problems of their former manner of governance (British rule), that brought them to the point of revolution, and that is what they intended the Constitution to guard against.

The fact that they couldn't know of an invention like the internet didn't preclude them from protecting free speech. I could go on, but I'm already to wordy for a comment section... maybe I should pursue this line of thought in a hub.

Anyway - good job on this one. Thumbs-up

oh - did I mention that paragraph break thingie (LOL) My tired eyes are plumb wore out.

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Thanks, GA, for your comment. I acknowlegde the tradition of tithing. But if I were compelled to do so under provisions of law, rather than religion and custom, I would certainly have my objections.

There is always some ambiguity, how did 2 centuries of men and women wearing the black robes, get so far from the original intent, an unequivocal understanding and application of this hallowed dcomement, the Constitution?

For concise language it sure seems to have been misinterpreted by many learned people over a long period of time.

These men did a good job with wisdom and prescience far beyond that of average Joe, but they are not God. I can't believe that they could conceive,anticipate and peer into a future of which they would be out of place.

GA, I would certainly look forward to your point of view and the rationale and support behind it in a article that you would write. You will have to make an earnest case to convince me, but I certainly could learn from a pro.

Thanks, Cred2


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@Credence2 - oh my goodness - I feel like I am quivering like a stallion just before the gate slams open....

this, my friend...

"There is always some ambiguity, how did 2 centuries of men and women wearing the black robes, get so far from the original intent, an unequivocal understanding and application of this hallowed dcomement, the Constitution?"

is a door so wide open, and read y for a barrage - that I fear it to be a trap - it is too easy....

Certainly there is no thorough way to answer short of a full article, may 2 or 3 articles just to do it justice...

but just to give you an idea of how open an invitation I see.... just a mention or two...

Supreme Court -- Dred Scott

Franklin Roosevelt - blatantly tried to pack the Supreme court

How many of the courts opinions have actually stated their decision is based on the concept of "changing times" and "living document"?

Surely you won't deny there have been several tenures where the court was an obviously a political court, instead of a Constitutional court. Why else would new appointees almost always face a confirmation hearing grilling on how they see their responsibilities - Constitutional Constructionist, or Living Document.

Anyway - that's how we got so far away from many of the specific intents of that document.

GA

ps. have several other irons in the fire right now, but your question is definitely one that is deserving of a full article, and the history of our courts is a subject I enjoy learning a writing about.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, GA, I can't wait to read your articles and look forward to the stimulating debate that will be the result.

Yes, I won't deny that the court does not live in a vacuum and can be and has been supceptible to political influence in the world around it.

We have to define Constitutional Constructionist. For the progressive this has been a code word for "Conservative or Right Wing". Being true to the spirit of that term (CC) must have greater implications than mere political ideology. I wrote an article critical of conservatives and their use of this term. If your eyes can bear it, as it was written in the past, see

http://hubpages.com/politics/Conservatives-Claim-t...

Good examples you cite regarding Taney/DredScott and the charges against FDR during the middle to late 1930's. We have to speak on this some time in earnest after I have revisited the cases and refreshed my memory.

We will talk again.. happy holidays, Cred2


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@Credence2 - Always a pleasure to read your comments

I read your linked article - good job of taking those folks to task they deserved it.

But I think you were a little too generous allotting them the sole ownership of the Constructionist mantle - if disagreeing with or wanting to change court decisions is the defining factor. Anyway - it was a good read

Yep, I too see some lively and enjoyable discussions ahead.

Just for the record - I think any of the political examples, (like FDR), I cited or could cite, are just political shenanigans - they either get away with it, or they don't, (hopefully they don't), but the Taney/DredScott case was truly corrupted justice - done solely for political purposes.

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Acknowledged, GA, thanks


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 5 years ago

This is a great set of ideas. Most Americans do not have a political dogma that sets them that far apart when it comes to government fraud, waste, abuse and tax code inequities.

As for those who are not paying taxes, look to the companies that took tax breaks and bailouts while sending their jobs overseas. That is just one of the injustices that does have to be redressed.

There is also a great sense of injustice that our wealth was taken from us and redistributed. So I am all for a redistribution of looted monies back into our national treasury. It gets my goat that the American people and the leadership have taken such a fatalistic, weak or stubborn approach to not recovering ill taken gains.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Xenolit, thanks for reading and commenting. Of course, the rallying cry against redistribution of wealth that always comes from the right does not take into account money coming out of the pockets of working people being transfered to the affluent. Statitics show that this is the real missappropriation of funds that is actually taking place. Bring that to the attention of the right and you will more than bring the house down!


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

sounds like you two are talking about major theft here. What major money are you talking about the major corps. stealing from the working man's pockets?

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

In my opinion, GA, It is declining flat wages in the face of increased corporate profits. It is the fact that I have subsidize them within the tax code, with no advantage to me as a tax payer nor having any real advantage for the American economy. It is their going broke screwing folks out of their pension money, while their CEO depart with golden parachutes. And how about those bailouts? Everything that they are supposed to pay and I have to pay instead is an outrage to my wallet as a member of the middle class. There is always more, but I will need the equivalent of another hub to more deeply go into it. Thanks as always for you inquiry Cred2


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@Credence2 - you are right, an appropriate answer would require the length of a hub. For a rebuttal as well.

but IMO, your response would be more accurate and credible if you used some qualifiers, like; some, or bad, or, if you really felt the category is rotten to the core - you could use - most.

But as a blanket condemnation - not accurate

corp. subsidies - generally I agree whole-heartedly, but there have been some that have saved or created industries. (are you a green energy proponent?)

flat wages/increased corp profits - care to cite a couple? (talking points are usually just that - talk)

going broke...screwing pension... - damn right, I'm with you there 100% - if only I didn't have to concede it was ALL corps. doing it.

CEO golden parachutes - especially for failed companies - yes, it galls me too - but if corp. didn't receive any bail-outs or Federal support, then it's none of my business what corp. owners want to pay their operators.

but if they DID receive taxpayer support, then I want that parachute snipped at the shoulder harness too.

by the way, does it bother you that the average NBA pro contract is $5 million? with the superstars in the 10's and 100's millions - while ticket prices are out of the range of most families, except maybe as a yearly outing? (yes, I know the other sports have done it too)

but $5 mil isn't that far away from some of those golden chutes.

Bailouts - don't get me started, I'm probably more pissed about those than you are. It's not practical, but, every corp. that fed from the trough, and then did bonus', .... seize the assets of every board member, right down to their golf clubs, until ALL bailout money is returned.

but how about GM, you have the same angst for them too don't you?

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Sorry, GA, you are right about the broad brush, but we are having more trouble with the perps now than we used to.

Generally, yes I support green-energy.

As for the corporations flatening or little growth of wages compared to what CEO for example gets, much of that has been documented. I will try to be more specific when I have the time.

Those pension rip offs apply to private companies as well. You go belly up and take years of my savings along with you, while the big shots always seem to come out on top some way, look at Enron. It is fraud and it should be against the law whether you are publically funded or not. A contract with your employer was unilaterally breached.

As for sports, I don't follow them very much. They constitute opium for the masses wasting time watching other people make money kicking a ball around. Thus, I will have to educate myself about what is going on in the NBA

I have a different attitude about GM bailout as much as what we did with Chysler years ago, is at acritical juncture of our economy, jobs and sales all up and down the line, not just bankers playing shell games with money.

Your inquiry is most stimulating, thanks again Cred2


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@credence2 - LOL now that one made me laugh...

"opium for the masses" - that's a good one - a progressive referring negatively to the masses - feeling superior are we?

Do you really feel people watch sports "to see other people making money?" Couldn't it just be enjoyable to watch the competition? Wait - what if we developed an all-volunteer sport, would it be ok for the "masses" to watch it then?

How about the Olympics - now there's some real "masses" - is that just more opium?

I have heard that phrase before - but usually applied to organized religion.

as for the NBA/big bonus comparison - why do you need to learn more? Even if I lied, which I didn't - isn't knowing two pieces of data sufficient to make a comparison? Albeit - a limited one?

Unfortunately I don't find it odd that you would feel differently about the GM bailout... but...

The GM/Chrysler comparison isn't valid at all. In the original Chrysler "bailout" - the government loaned or guaranteed money to support the company through a turn-around period. Chrysler submitted a turn-around plan that was deemed realistic by the Govt. BEFORE the loan/guarantees were approved.

GM, on the other hand - had no plan, but the government did. Completely wiping out private investors by voiding (and this is a good point - since you felt contracts were important in the company/pension example), legally binding contracts secured by physical assets, and completely wiping out ALL common shareholders. Boom $0 - how does that fit, one again, with your pensions example.

But, govt. then exchanged debt owed union pension funds for the New GM stock, plus an ownership stake in GM

So it was ok to wipeout private pension fund investors, but not Union pension fund investments.

Now ask yourself - why wouldn't a deal similar to the Chrysler deal you referred to work for GM?

wait I have to do this...Ha Ha Ha Ha ROFLMAO - not a banker's shell game? come on...

How happy was the govt. to tout the headlines - GM PAYS BACK TARP MONEY!!!!!!, and how unhappy when the public found out they paid it back with, wait for it, not operational savings from their New GM management, not increased profits from their "sky-rocketing" sales, and not from new capitol from newly optimistic investors,...

.... they paid it back from another sum of BAIL-OUT MONEY from the Govt.

and you don't think that's a shell game????

oops, guess that was a rant, sorry, but GM is one of the bail-out examples where I think the government was as wrong as wrong can be. - who the hell gave them the power to abridge contract law by fiat, just because it suited their purposes.

So you like the force of contracts in private deals, but feel it's not important in govt. deals... ohhh

gotta go, I need a drink. coke, not kool-aid

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Well, GA, every now and then I get caught with my breeches down.

As for the sports comment, heaven forbid you think me elitist, it runs the grain against my progressive values. I have just never developed an acquired taste for them. I am hardly advocating that millions of people adandon their pastime based on my personal view. I think no less of them if they don't. Of course I am a fan of the Olympic games. But, I probably would be more hung up on table tennis or bowling.

As for the NBA, I don't think that you are lying, I just don't want to get in any deeper speaking on things that I have not followed than I need to. I will tell you this though, I cannot really have a great deal of angst about people making the kind of salaries these players do. When there are so many that need to negotiate to just obtain a living wage.

In regards to the Crysler/GM bailout, I may very well give you this round. I may very well not have approved the arrangement, if they did as you say, abridged contract law by fiat, there is a problem. The money received from the taxpayer was provided in exchange for management concessions. I don't know how it plays to have your pensions benifits wiped out even if in return you are allowed to keep your job. Obviously, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, since I have missed fine details of what has happened and why.

But can I presume that GM agreed to and had a choice as to accepting the Governments terms prior to execution of the arrangement

I respectfully concede, this time....


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@Credence2 - Well done, nice talking with you

ps. the GM bail-out deal stinks even worse than I described

it was a govt/union deal from the start - GM was forced to go along or face complete mgmt replacement with govt. control.

Do a little checking, you will see what I mean, and to complete the picture, check out the New GM stock sale restrictions - union can cash-in on stock anytime - public has to wait for a gvmt. set price, anyway, you'll see

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

GA, as for doing a little checking, thanks, I will.


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

@Credence2 - thought I would help you out - just finished an article on the subject,

Obama's General Motors [GM] Tarp Bailout - The Untold Details

http://hubpages.com/politics/Obama-General-Motors-...

hope you enjoy it.

GA


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Thanks, GA, I am checking it out now.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hello Cred2,

Interesting hub on the mis-distribution of wealth in your lovely country.

You mentioned that it would be a good idea to reduce public sector spending.

I would suggest we look more closely at the contracts, that are awarded to companies that supply goods (the computers you mentioned) that are redundant, before you even switch them on.

We have had the same thing here, so don't worry you are not alone in getting ripped off.

How do these people still get paid. That is what I want to know? I can guess, can't you?

Any company in any other walk of life would have been given the boot. In the public sector they get more contracts.

If you really want answers, follow the money trail.

It's odd isn't it, at a time when the rich are allegedly being taxed more than ever, there have never been so many millionaires and wealthy people, at the top of the pile. How is that possible? I do feel sorry for the rich, don't you. lol


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, molometer, thanks for reading and commenting. I worked for the U.S.government as a contracting officer. In the military area of procurement, contractors were soaking us. The agencies wanted no bid contracts which were frowned upon. There is skullduggery a foot, lobbyists, politicians, business get together so that entities like Haliburton are created and seem to prosper on the tax payers dime.

I had a rant about these, so called, put upon rich in the following article:

http://hubpages.com/politics/One-Progressive-Viewp...

It is never too good to get involved in the muck of American politics, be glad that you are well outside the fray!

Sorry, the second post may be a duplicat

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working