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maniacal_engineer
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flat tax, 20%

each taxpayer can direct where up to half of that goes, sending it to any legitimate charity. The other half could only be spent on things specifically mentioned in the constitution. defense, canals, roads, (and by extension airports, railroads and spaceports, and airwaves) patents, standards (weights and measures). All of the income transfer entitlements would still exist, but would be funded out of the discretionary 10%. so if you think HUD is doing a good job you can send your money to them, but if you like habitats for humanity better, you can send it to them. And if you want to fund wildlife rescue of lesbian seagull oil spill victims, you can do that too.

WHADDAYATHINK


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TomDavidson
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The problem with flat taxes isn't PERSONAL tax -- although, again, I'd rather see a flat tax that exempted the first $25K of income, plus $10K per dependent -- but rather the complexities of CORPORATE tax. How would you change corporate taxation under this plan?

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Locus
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...and the country gets eaten alive by national debt overnight....


I prefer a weighted tax system ..where the taxpayers get to determine where their money can be allocated to. For instance a pacifist could dictate that none of his money could be allocated for defense spending or that he wants it all spent on environmental measures.

It would need ALOT of thinking through to apply this to a workable system ..but it'd give voters alot more leverage at the end of the day.

As for "legitimate charities" I disagree after learning that my charity of choice is not recognized as "legitimate" when political lobbying groups are.


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Baldar
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What happens with deductions to charities? Inheritance taxes? State taxes (which are deductible against federal taxes)?
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LetterRip
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I though up a very similar tax system. Each individual is allowed to allocate all but 20%, however, they can specifically exclude up to two major programs (so that they are not supporting things they find morally objectionable) or 5 subprograms. Only one major program can recieve 25%, all others would be 10% or less.

There could also be write in programs or subprograms - thus I would campaign for railgun launcher research (or some such) for the space program.

So the 25% general fund can be allocated however, the governement feels it needs to, minus the individual exculsions.

Morally people would feel better about how there funds are spent. The net effect would probably be not too different (since the government has the 25% to reallocate).

LetterRip


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LetterRip
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Baldar,

the rich would almost certainly allocate their 25% for paying down the national debt. I would certainly campaign for such.

I'll have to find my paper I did on this, it is a bit more in depth and clear and addresses concerns such as underfunding of the National Debt and Defense.

LetterRip


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LetterRip
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Essentially what you have are percentage bars that show the current level of funding for each major sub program

Defense ****************
NationalDebt *************
Education ********
Research ********

etc.

If you slide one bar down, it incrementally increases all other bars, if you slide it up it incrementally decreases all others. If you lock a bar, then it is not incrementally changed when you adjust another.

Each bar has a floor value. If you choose to exclude it, then the funds are allocated distributionally across the other funding areas. An exculsion of a major program requires a confimation to exclude each of the subprograms under it.)

Perhaps a maximum amount of funds can be chosen to be excluded instead of x number of programs and subprograms. Thus a person could choose to exclude defense spending, or a few specific programs in defense spending, or exclude the NEA and farm subsidies, or any other combination.

LetterRip


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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I think it should be parabolic; the more money you make, the more taxes you pay, increasing exponentially. I also think there should be some sort of limit as to how much money you can make in a life time. Controlling forty billion dollars is a little excessive...If someone can live like a king with ten million, they don't need a hundred or a thousand times more.

Furthermore, I think all politicians who directly have a vote in any kind of flow of money should be forced to live in a residence of their choosing equivalent to the national average (so they can live on a small ranch in the midwest rather than an apartment in Manhattan, if they want). Also they should not be allowed to have a bank account; they can get a weekly allowance that will get them normal amenities (two cars, a TV or two, etc....) and food. That way, they'll have no incentive to use tax money (or recieve large "gifts") to their benifit since they can't use it. And then, only people who truely want to work in the government for only the good of the country will actually hold office.

[This message has been edited by JonathanTheOmnipotent (edited October 23, 2002).]


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Locus
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I believe politicians should have to dwell in the poorest part of their districts(and for federal level) live in the poorest parts of Washington.
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TomDavidson
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And while we're at it, I'd like a pony.

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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Tom, that was the funniest comeback I've heard for a long time...lmao...

Point taken, though.


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Locus
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Tom,

When will you be by to pick it up?


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Everard
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One thing I mutter about occassionally, is that the first battle of any war should be fought by the politicians children...
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Wayward Son
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Be careful there, Tom. It's probably one of those dead horses we keep beating around here...
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maniacal_engineer
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I dont think that any proposal of this sort should let people opt out of the specifically mandated federal duties: defense, posts, roads, canals, airports, patents, weights and peasures, printing money, etc
entitlement programs are not specifically there and should therefore be discretionary for each taxpayer. and if you think that a local charity is doing a better job than AFDC then the money stays local.

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TomDavidson
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Again, M_E, corporate taxes are far more important -- and far more complex. How would you reform them?

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Grant Morgan
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" I think it should be parabolic; the more money you make, the more taxes you pay, increasing exponentially."

So you'd like to see a tax curve of something like T = (I^2)/100000?

So someone who makes $10,000 pays $1000, leaving $9,000.

Someone who makes $20,000 pays $4000, leaving $16,000

Someone who makes $50,000 pays $25,000, leaving $25,000

Someone who makes $75,000 pays $56,250, leaving $18,750

Someone who makes $100,000 pays $100,000, leaving $0

Someone who makes $101,000 pays $102,000, for a net loss of $1,000

While I realize that taking everything away from the most productive people in society is the liberal's dream, maybe we ought to give some serious thought to what this kind of tax structure is going to do to our economy.

" I also think there should be some sort of limit as to how much money you can make in a life time. Controlling forty billion dollars is a little excessive...If someone can live like a king with ten million, they don't need a hundred or a thousand times more."

I assume you're talking about Bill Gates. While he does have an absurd amount of money, keep in mind that the vast majority of his fortune is the percentage of Microsoft that he owns. He could never sell these shares and actually realize 40 billion dollars-the act of liquidating so many shares would drive the share price into the toilet, drastically reducing his fortune even as he tried to convert to cash.

In order to limit the amount of money that someone like Bill Gates can make in a lifetime, what would you like to see done? Say someone starts a company and keeps a 50% ownership in it as the company grows. You've set $10,000,000 as your limit. Once the company passes a value of $20,000,000, what do you want the government to do? Seize ownership of enough of the company to reduce this person's worth back to $10,000,000? Or legally restrict the company from growing?


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msquared
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JTO,

That statement comes from some one who is either very young or never wanted to start their own business.

There should be a limit on how much some one can earn in their life? Who should enforce it? The government? Who determines the level? There is just so much wrong with that statement.

Second, do not confuse net worth with income. While I am sure that Bill Gates has a very high income, he does not make 40B a year. In fact, I bet his income is $0. I can almost bet you he is living off the income from his stocks and such. Also, how about the millions and millions he is giving away? Do those organisations just try and find some one else to donate the money.

msquared


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maniacal_engineer
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tom
Haven't thought about and am not familiar with corporate taxes. I know that I woulkd want to encourage capital investment and R&D, but have no clear plan for any restructuring of things.

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maniacal_engineer
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JTO
I am SOOO glad that you aren't actually omnipotent. Even though I dont think it will ever happen, I would very much like to earn $40B. the key is if it is done ethically. I have problems with bill gates based on conversations i have had with Compaq execs back in the mid 90's in which they described some of his unethical practices.
the other posts in response to yours point to the problem - essentially that if you punish success you will get none of it. If I create value such that millions of people are willing to give me billions of dollars, who are you to come along and hijack the money thaey have willingly given me?

Oh yeah, another misquote/out of context rant. Robin Hood didn't rob from the rich and give to the poor - he made unauthorized tax rebates

[This message has been edited by maniacal_engineer (edited October 25, 2002).]


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LetterRip
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Tom,

I have a notebook that has a better thought out plan,

but this is what I can recall off the top of my head...

Only x% of advertising is deductible, varies with the size of the company

No subsidies - the government can purchase excess if they desire to support profit margins.

R&D that the industry needs can be done via matching funds. Up to x% of the tax

Corporations can allocate government R&D funds based on their tax base, however in order to allocate a certain amount of matching (or ratio) funds should be contributed. Viable areas of R&D would be business processes, information technology, government regulation, basic and applied sciences, international affairs, finance and economics, state tax, law, and policy harmonization, etc.

For corporations that produce goods, all known externalites are to be fully taxed on the first sale. Possibly having the rate increase per percentage above the company with the least externalities per quantitiy of product.

Industries that reduce externalities caused by other industries can get a tax discount (this may be too fuzzy to be workable.)

Not certain how to work deductions for capital and labor investment or expansion into new markets. Optioned stock as well as noncash bonuses are not handled well and are generally allowed too great a deduction. What I am thinking, is set the base rate a bit higher, but that a percentage can be set asside for capital stock, infrastructure investment, and training.

Increased tax rate for contribution to lobbying groups, etc.

Unfortunately there are a bunch of changes I want to make simultaneously with the taxation changes. (Ie make a number of benefits more mobile such as pensions, medical benefits, etc. Harmonize state, federal, and international regulations along the lines of the Uniform Codes that have been done.)

LetterRip


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Jeez, sounds like I'm the liberal radical with this one...

(Kind of a delayed reaction for you guys to suddenly pick up on my post two days later...)

quote:
So you'd like to see a tax curve of something like T = (I^2)/100000?

...


Someone who makes $101,000 pays $102,000, for a net loss of $1,000


--Grant Morgan

I haven't put much thought into the actual equation for determining the amount of taxes, but I can tell you I definitely didn't intend it to ever excede the amount of money one makes. I wouldn't have thought to make it exceed 50% until a salary hits about $500,000 a year. And it wouldn't allow someone who makes less money to actually have more money left after taxes than someone who makes more money in the first place but has to pay higher taxes--that'd be pretty dumb, too.

My main goal would be to ensure that the average guy who makes 75K or less doesn't have to pay more than 10% in taxes. The top 1% who control 90% of the money should take on the heaviest burden, but never have to pay, oh I dunno, more than 70% of their yearly income. A man who makes $10 million and then ends up with $3 million still has plenty of money for a ranch in the midwest, a yacht on a coastline with beachside property, and eat all the fancy food he wants.

What I'm asking for isn't that different than the way it is right now, just a little more skewed towards the top 1% paying more taxes.

Also, the salaries for certain jobs should drastically change. An actor shouldn't get $10 million for three months of work on a film. A baseball player shouldn't get $20 million for a three year contract. These salaries are absurd.

quote:
I assume you're talking about Bill Gates. While he does have an absurd amount of money, keep in mind that the vast majority of his fortune is the percentage of Microsoft that he owns. He could never sell these shares and actually realize 40 billion dollars-the act of liquidating so many shares would drive the share price into the toilet, drastically reducing his fortune even as he tried to convert to cash.

Okay, but he's still probably got much much more than $500,000,000 laying around somewhere that he can withdraw from an account or liquidate quickly when needed. When you've got that much money, would your lifestyle really change if you stopped making money at that point?

PS: I checked online, and he actually is worth over $100 billion, now. That's more than the wealth of the bottom %50 of the country.

quote:
In order to limit the amount of money that someone like Bill Gates can make in a lifetime, what would you like to see done? Say someone starts a company and keeps a 50% ownership in it as the company grows. You've set $10,000,000 as your limit. Once the company passes a value of $20,000,000, what do you want the government to do? Seize ownership of enough of the company to reduce this person's worth back to $10,000,000? Or legally restrict the company from growing?

I only meant restricting personal wealth, not company wealth. Obviously somebody has to own the company, and it's okay if they own a $40 billion company so long as they aren't allowed to actually use the cash invested in those stocks. Not that they would need to, though. They've already got enough money anyway. But maybe the profit of the shares--not the actual ownership of them--should be distributed to the workers of that company.

$10,000,000 is a little conservative, I guess. How about $100,000,000 as the highest amount of total income.

quote:
That statement comes from some one who is either very young or never wanted to start their own business.
--msquared

I am, in fact, 19 years old. And I haven't put any thought into owning my own business.

quote:
There should be a limit on how much some one can earn in their life? Who should enforce it? The government? Who determines the level? There is just so much wrong with that statement.

Who would enforce it besides the government? And a financial expert should determine the level. What else is wrong with that statement?

quote:
Second, do not confuse net worth with income. While I am sure that Bill Gates has a very high income, he does not make 40B a year. In fact, I bet his income is $0. I can almost bet you he is living off the income from his stocks and such. Also, how about the millions and millions he is giving away? Do those organisations just try and find some one else to donate the money.

Yes, yes, yes...but that income form stocks must be several million dollars.

quote:
ven though I dont think it will ever happen, I would very much like to earn $40B.
--maniacal_engineer

But can you honestly tell me that your lifestyle would change dramatically if you had $20 billion instead? Don't you think that even $100 million is sufficient?

quote:
the other posts in response to yours point to the problem - essentially that if you punish success you will get none of it. If I create value such that millions of people are willing to give me billions of dollars, who are you to come along and hijack the money thaey have willingly given me?

But in the real world, that's not how it happens. People willingly pay the amount of money they pay because there's no alternative. I hated paying $100 for Windows--its ridiculous. $10 for a movie? Do the studios really need to pay Jim Carrey $10 million?

That and the fact that the richest of the rich are the ones benefitting most from the stock market. And the big businesses are the ones who can buy a senator to look the other way in the presence of dirty business, or to pass a law to allow the company to get ahead. (Which is why I said politicians shouldn't be allowed to control any money whatsoever...)

And who said anything about Robin Hood?

-----

The reason why I say that the rich should pay a higher percentage of tax is because they can afford it.

Twenty percent of someone who makes $50,000 a year is $10,000. That leaves him with $40,000. To him, that could mean the difference of buying a new car this year, or just trying to get by one more Winter with the old 200,000 mile piece of junk he's had for the last ten years.

Twenty percent of someone who make $10,000,000 is $2,000,000. $8,000,000 is still so much money. What kind of amenities are they losing? What kind of amenities would they lose if they had another million less? I know if I had $5 million, I would quit college, buy a house, put away most of it to grow slowly, and live a happy life never having to worry about money again.

The fact of the matter is, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. There should be a more even distribution of money through tax reform. The rich take advantage of the poor, so I say let them pay more taxes.

This is a few months outdated, but the statistical information should still be good. http://www.economicjustice.org/resources/media/weismann050499.html

Here's another.


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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PS: I'm assuming these sources are both using accurate information. Allow me to highlight two points:

--The top one percent control 40% of the wealth.
--The top one percen pay 29% of the country's taxes.

If they control 40% of the money, shouldn't they at the very least also pay 40% of the taxes?


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maniacal_engineer
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jto
your data is backwards. I think the top 1% make 20% of the income and pay 37% of the taxes. The top 50% make 85% of the income and pay 97% of the taxes. Here is a real problem - when more than half of the electorate pay essentially no taxes, they feel no restraint in raising taxes. (what is the definition of democratic socialism? when two bums on the street walk up to a rich guy and say'lets vote to see who gets your money')

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Everard
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I'm simply staying out of this one. Work the math on a flat tax. STUPIDEST idea anyone has ever come up with.
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Grant Morgan
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"But in the real world, that's not how it happens. People willingly pay the amount of money they pay because there's no alternative. I hated paying $100 for Windows--its ridiculous. $10 for a movie? Do the studios really need to pay Jim Carrey $10 million?"

I'm the first to agree that actors and sports figures are overpaid. But if paying $10 for a movie offends you, I have a few simple solutions:

1) Wait for the movie to hit the local dollar theatre.
2) Wait for the movie to be released on DVD, or on HBO.
3) Don't see the movie at all. Read a book instead.

The fact is, if you're paying $10 to see a movie, it's because YOU THINK IT IS WORTH $10 TO SEE THAT MOVIE. Nobody has a gun to your head.

“I know if I had $5 million, I would quit college, buy a house, put away most of it to grow slowly, and live a happy life never having to worry about money again.”

This is precisely why I would rather that Bill Gates have $40 billion than you have $5 million. Bill Gates earned his money—he created that wealth from nothing. He has been highly productive for all of his life, and I’m betting that he will continue to be so until he dies. You, on the other hand, are looking for a way to avoid EVER being productive. You see his $40 billion and think, “if the government would just take his money away, then 8,000 people like me could be playboys!”

What you don’t realize is that while these obscenely wealthy people are amassing their fortunes through their own productivity, that they’re improving our lives as well, and that if you seize the fruits of their labor, they will have no reason to continue to be productive. How many people has Bill Gates created jobs for as his built his company? Let’s say it’s 10,000. Do you really that he’d hit some arbitrary wealth cap and retired after having created only 500 jobs? And despite all your grousing about the price of Windows, I’ll bet it’s worth a lot more than $100 to you to have a single OS that will run pretty much any piece of software out there (if it wasn’t, you’d be running Linux).

That said, I don’t think Bill Gates is the ideal example of capitalism because of his questionable business practices. If you can put an inferior competitor out of business because you do a better job, great. If you put him out of business because you’ve leveraged your monopoly in order to make people have to buy your other products as well, that’s not good for anyone.

Ahh, I finally hit 100 posts.


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LetterRip
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Here is a half baked idea on individual tax deductions.

I'm not fond of the poor getting a deduction because they are poor, since all individuals should contribute to the common defense etc. What I'm thinking, is that the able bodied poor might be able to contribute in labor or some other form of civil service.

It occurs to me that it might be useful to construe the poor educating themselves a part of such civil service.

It might also be useful to consider the care or raising of individuals that would normally be a burden to the state as part of such civil service.

As I said, half baked - but it seems worthwhile for consideration.

LetterRip


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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That's not half baked at all, LR. Actually your idea is called corvée labor; ancient civilizations, like Egypt and Mesopotamia, used this instead of taxes. Example: citizens of Egypt were put to work for part of the year on building a pyramid, and the Pharoah would provide lodging and food.

A response to Grant is in the works. It's libel! Lies! All lies, I tell you! Uhm...<ahem>...sorry, the spirit of a corrupt politician posessed me for a few moments.


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LetterRip
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Thanks for the pointer,

I'll have to look it up. I don't think the self education counting as civil labor has been tried before (although we do give tax discounts for education so similar in effect...).

LetterRip


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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All quotes from Grant Morgan.

quote:
This is precisely why I would rather that Bill Gates have $40 billion than you have $5 million. Bill Gates earned his money—he created that wealth from nothing. He has been highly productive for all of his life, and I’m betting that he will continue to be so until he dies. You, on the other hand, are looking for a way to avoid EVER being productive. You see his $40 billion and think, “if the government would just take his money away, then 8,000 people like me could be playboys!”

Dispersing money to random people was never intended to be part of my solution. What I would like is for the money to go more towards the workers of the company in question who are far lower than the money-swathed CEOs. How about raising the salary of the guy in the mailroom who really never got a good chance in life? How about giving extra big bonuses to the people at desks staring at computer screens all day stressed out by incomptent managers? How about Walmart raise it's wages by a dollar or two for those who live an entire family employed in minimum wage jobs?

I don't dream of living like a playboy. I've seen the playboy lifestyle from wealthy relatives I have--though even they're not so rich as compared to a CEO--and I can tell you that at some point luxeries begin to get superfluous and gratuitous. My argument isn't so that I can become a playboy who doesn't contribute to society--it's that there shouldn't be any playboys who don't contribute to society.

When I said that thing about having $5 million, I meant I'd've earned it. My dream would then be to retire and maybe write books or something influential that would contribute more to society than any dirty businessman ever could. In fact, I wouldn't even charge for the books I write. If I was a succesful author and hit my personal financial goal, I would write books and put them on the internet for my fans to read for free.

quote:
What you don’t realize is that while these obscenely wealthy people are amassing their fortunes through their own productivity, that they’re improving our lives as well, and that if you seize the fruits of their labor, they will have no reason to continue to be productive. How many people has Bill Gates created jobs for as his built his company? Let’s say it’s 10,000. Do you really that he’d hit some arbitrary wealth cap and retired after having created only 500 jobs? And despite all your grousing about the price of Windows, I’ll bet it’s worth a lot more than $100 to you to have a single OS that will run pretty much any piece of software out there (if it wasn’t, you’d be running Linux).

Increasing the level of our lifestyle? Hmm...and how many people are claiming bankruptcy these days? How many sweatshops do big companies now have in other countries? I don't think our lifestyles--especially when you take the global average--have increased to warrant the amount of money they make.

And I'm sorry for bringing Windows up. It's an unfair example as it has the one federally mandated monopoly in the US.

But let's take another example. Let's say...a PC. Dell will sell you a computer for a thousand dollars. Is it really worth a thousand dollars? No, not at all. I can buy the parts for it myself online for about six hundred dollars (this includes shipping cost). Of course, for Dell it's considerably less as they buy their parts by bulk and under contract.

And what happens with more expensive computers? Well, something near the top of the line costs $2700. I can build it for about $1700. Hmm...how strange. It doesn't take any more expertise to build a more expensive computer...yet their profit margin increased wildly.

Oh, and how much do think they pay the people who actually build the computers? Let's say something absurd, like $42,000 a year. That's a little over $20 an hour. I'll be liberal and say two hours including software installation (disregarding the fact that you don't have to sit and do nothing while the software installs). So a guy will get paid $40 to build a computer. $40? Doesn't that sound a little low when Dell profits maybe $500 on average (I'd bet it's more though)?

Ok, ok...they've got all those other production costs besides paying the workers. I'd love to know the numbers, though, just to see how it all adds up. And the truth is, I'm willing to bet, those workers get paid more like any other production line worker. Maybe $10 an hour. $15 if they're lucky.

Allow me one more (shorter) example: any part of the restaraunt business. Have you noticed how those meals just keep getting bigger and bigger? Remember when McDonalds sold just one size fries? Now they call it "kiddie" size, because they don't even have a small. They start at medium and go past large! I mean, why should they charge you $.50 for 2 ounces of fries when they can sharge $2 for 10 ounces? They don't make as much per ounce, but they make more money overall. And, as a plus, 2/3 of the US is overweight. Strike a blow for fast food!

My idea to put a cap on personal wealth is a reactionary measure to corrupt business methods. My logic is that if they can't make more money, there's no reason to conduct corrupt business.

quote:
I'm the first to agree that actors and sports figures are overpaid. But if paying $10 for a movie offends you, I have a few simple solutions:

1) Wait for the movie to hit the local dollar theatre.
2) Wait for the movie to be released on DVD, or on HBO.
3) Don't see the movie at all. Read a book instead.

The fact is, if you're paying $10 to see a movie, it's because YOU THINK IT IS WORTH $10 TO SEE THAT MOVIE. Nobody has a gun to your head.


1.) I've lived in five different places and I've only ever once been within 20 miles of a "dollar theatre."
2.) I want a theatre experience. I want speakers all around me and a screen filling at least 70% of my visual field. (And ticket price has nothing to do with the expense of a movie house, either. Most cinema palaces these days make their money on concessions.)
3.) I want to see a movie. But books are overpriced, too. Publishers hire authors who write thousand page books so they can charge more per book. OSC's publisher TOR loves those writers.

I'm paying $10 because I just don't have any other choice. I do think it's worth it, however to just pay for it rather than trying to organize a protest. Everyone knows movies are overpriced...but nobody seems to be doing anything about it.


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Grant Morgan
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JTO-

"When I said that thing about having $5 million, I meant I'd've earned it."

I misunderstood you, then. Your comment about dropping out of college if you had $5 million made me think of it as money that had dropped into your lap.

"But let's take another example. Let's say...a PC. Dell will sell you a computer for a thousand dollars. Is it really worth a thousand dollars? No, not at all. I can buy the parts for it myself online for about six hundred dollars (this includes shipping cost). Of course, for Dell it's considerably less as they buy their parts by bulk and under contract."

Hmm. I've never priced computer components, but I was under the impression that computer companies like Dell worked under extremely tight profit margins. The few people I know who used to build their own computers have all stopped doing so. They tell me they can save one or two hundred dollars, and that's not enough savings to justify the time it takes to completely assemble and optimize a system. Where I live, there are dozens of small computer assembling outfits.

Also, when calculating Dell's profit, you're forgetting all the capital outlay, such as building warehouses to hold all the components until they're needed, and office buildings for the order-takers and assemblers. There's also the cost of advertising, the cost of holding material, etc.

Where I live, there are dozens of small computer assembling shops. If Dell were really making such outrageous profits, all of these stores would be able to offer significantly reduced prices. But when I shopped for a computer last year, I found that Dell's prices were among the lowest. I suppose they could ALL be making outrageous profits, but it's hard for me to believe that at least one guy wouldn't lower his prices in order to grab market share.

But what it comes down to in the end is that, regardless of how much money Dell is making on their computers, millions of people think it's worth that price to have someone else build their computer. The moment he starts charging MORE than people think it's worth, they'll all go somewhere else.

"I'm paying $10 because I just don't have any other choice. I do think it's worth it, however to just pay for it rather than trying to organize a protest. Everyone knows movies are overpriced...but nobody seems to be doing anything about it.

But you DON'T think movies are overpriced. You just think they're more expensive than you'd like. If movies were $15 would you go? I wouldn't, because at that point, the price of admission would be more than the experience was worth-to me at least. What if they were $25? $50? $100? The point where you would stop going to movies is the point where the movie is overpriced. At any point before that, all you can say is "It would sure be nice if movies cost a little less money . . ."

And why should film producers charge any less than what you're willing to pay? Remember, they invested their tens of millions for one reason-to make money. Not to provide entertainment as a public service.


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Grant Morgan
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"Allow me one more (shorter) example: any part of the restaraunt business. Have you noticed how those meals just keep getting bigger and bigger? Remember when McDonalds sold just one size fries? Now they call it "kiddie" size, because they don't even have a small. They start at medium and go past large! I mean, why should they charge you $.50 for 2 ounces of fries when they can sharge $2 for 10 ounces? They don't make as much per ounce, but they make more money overall. And, as a plus, 2/3 of the US is overweight. Strike a blow for fast food!"

I'm all for reducing the serving sizes in restaurants. But the super-sizing of fast-food meals is not just an evil corporate American plot. It's a response to what the public wants. When I go to Wendy's for lunch, as I do two or three times a week, I most often just get a hamburger and a water-no fries, no Coke. This is both because I don't need the extra calories, and I don't want to pay the extra money. Honestly, a hamburger alone does an adequate job of filling me up. But when I listen to the people in front of me placing their orders, they ALWAYS order the combo meal. I don't blame them-a Coke and fries taste good. And when the cashier asks them if they want it biggie-sized, the ALWAYS say yes. They're given the option of paying less money for a smaller (but still more than adequate) amount of food, but they ALWAYS choose to pay more money for more food.

The increasing obesity of America cannot be completely blamed upon fast-food giants. We must take some responsibility as well.

edit: grammar

[This message has been edited by Grant Morgan (edited October 28, 2002).]


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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quote:
Where I live, there are dozens of small computer assembling shops. If Dell were really making such outrageous profits, all of these stores would be able to offer significantly reduced prices. But when I shopped for a computer last year, I found that Dell's prices were among the lowest. I suppose they could ALL be making outrageous profits, but it's hard for me to believe that at least one guy wouldn't lower his prices in order to grab market share.

First of all, if you actually go out and buy the parts at full retail value, yes you will end up spending more money than actually buying a computer. When I buy computer parts, I buy them online from pricewatch.com, which lists prices from hundreds of different online stores. Instead of paying the $99 street price for my CD-RW drive, I got it for $50.

Second, there are computer companies who are trying to grab market share with significantly lower prices. Except most people don't see them--they're listed in computer magazines (right next to Dell's three page fold-out spectacular). Unfortunately, most magazines sell out to the companies who pay the most for ads and give their PCs higher markings. Kinda sucks.


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Grant Morgan
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All right. One more post.

Here is my taxation compromise. I would think it would appeal more to the left than to the right, but my guess is that everyone will hate it.

I've already made it clear that I don't think there should be any penalty for success. If someone works hard and makes a ton of money, or has a brilliant idea and makes a ton of money, I don't believe they should be punished for it. The money someone makes, they ought to be able to keep.

HOWEVER, I don't believe that people have any sort of inherent right to money they HAVEN'T made. So I'm one of the few fiscal conservatives who supports the so-called death tax. I would like to see this tax made much more progressive. Look at the Walton fortune, for instance. Sam Walton had five heirs, each of whom are worth something like twenty billion dollars. I don't see any reason for someone to have this much money handed to them on a silver platter. I oppose limiting someone's earning potential, because it also limits their motivation to be productive-but *inheriting* a huge amount of money also seems to limit productivity. Second and third generation wealth is likely to produce consumers, not producers.

So put a couple of limits on inheritance (these numbers are all arbitrary. I don't know where they should actually be). Anyone can inherit $1,000,000 tax free. Inheritance beyond $50,000,000 is taxed at 100%. The tax rate slides between those two figures.

In the case of someone like Bill Gates, who has a huge fortune that consists mostly of shares of stock in a single company, we have to be a little tricky. The government can't liquidate his shares of stock any more than Gates could, but we don't want the government being major investor in a private company. So we take the all the shares that would have gone to the government, and we disburse them among all employees of the company over the last twenty years. The number of shares each employee will receive will be proportional to the amount of time they were with the company. The receipt of these shares will be taxes as normal income.

Opinions?


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maniacal_engineer
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except that your plan gives employees an incentive to whack the boss. if there are 10,000 employees, ods are pretty good that one of em'll be deperate/evil enough to do it.

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Grant Morgan
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Of course, that could be thought of as a plus in some cases.
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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Actually I think there's less motivation to kill the big boss for someone who's only going to "inherit" a fraction of the wealth than the son who stands to get everything. Unless there's some weird coup organized by the employees to storm the company headquarters...
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LetterRip
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First,

Gates can't liquidate his shares due to government regulation (he has a very specific time table for which he can sell MS stock, this is to avoid insider trading...), not just because the price would plummet.

Why not make the governments stock non voting stock or allow the deceased to assign the voting rights? The deceased could also will 'first option' for purchases of the government held stock. It could also be sold back to the company or to current employees or other long term share holders, with the sale rate to others limited to that of the previous owner. We could also allow stock swaps with long term investment groups.

LetterRip


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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You know, a single company shouldn't be allowed to become so powerful that it's demise would cause widescale instability in the entire market...
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Grant Morgan
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"Why not make the governments stock non voting stock or allow the deceased to assign the voting rights? The deceased could also will 'first option' for purchases of the government held stock. It could also be sold back to the company or to current employees or other long term share holders, with the sale rate to others limited to that of the previous owner. We could also stock swaps with long term investment groups."

My problem here is that before long the government ends up owning a significant portion of most major companies. Even if those are non-voting shares, I'm still uncomfortable with the idea.

Also, I like the notion of recognizing that, even though Bill Gates was the creator and driving force behind Microsoft, his employees had a lot to do with the company's success as well.


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