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Author Topic: Property and the Pursuit of Happiness
OpsanusTau
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I've been thinking a lot recently about wealth, and about comfort, and about rights. I was just reading the Duty of Care thread and I thought that maybe you guys would be able to help me make sense of my new feelings.

Relatively recently, I moved to a new place. It's a place where there are a lot of people who have a lot of money, mostly I think because there's a thriving economy here. But in the very specific place where I live, there are a LOT of people who are independantly wealthy; trust-fund babies who, if they've ever worked a day in their lives, did so by choice because they were bored and stopped doing it when they decided.

In the last election, Washington had a ballot measure about estate taxes (as I think a lot of states did); the slogan I kept hearing on the radio was, "Death should not be a taxable event!" stated with great certainty. And I found myself thinking, "Well, why shouldn't it?" Because there I was, spending most of my time in both the jobs I'm working dealing with extremely rich and idle people, who are rich and idle precisely because their grandparents made a lot of money doing something and decided to give it to them.

It's not that I think all of these Rich People are somehow Bad, understand; I like almost all of them, and some of them are my good friends. But I remember that Andrew Carnegie refused to give any money to his scions because he thought that to do so would undermine their spirit of enterprise - and to be quite frank, from recent personal observation I think he was right on.

So why shouldn't death, in at least some cases, be a taxable event? I'm not talking about the times when there's a family business that would be ruined by steep taxes. I'm talking about some way to make it so that there aren't generations of people living off enormous amounts of ancestral money, dilletantting around instead of enriching society with the invention that is mothered by some kind of necessity. Why shouldn't society take some or most of that wealth away as the price of living in a stable and nourishing culture? Or is there a reasonable and convincing argument that people have a fundamental right to preserve and dispose of as they choose whatever property they happen to find in their possession?

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seekingprometheus
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I like your post, Ops.
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Tom_paines_ghost
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Excellent and thoughtful post.

Society clearly has an interest in not overtaxing producers.

On the other hand I don't see where there is a vested interest in the maintenance of arisotocracy and wealth.

A tax on dead rich people seems the least harmful one that can be made.

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Tom Curtis
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For what it is worth, I don't think death should be an additional taxable event. Rather, I think that all money or assets recieved as inheritance should be treated as income, and taxed as income by the income tax. Exceptions should be made for items (including a single house) which the beneficiaries testify to be familly heirlooms. They should be valued, and if sold treated as capital gains (or income) for taxation purposes; but not taxed if not sold.
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The Drake
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I argued in favor of estate taxes at the Concord Party. but was overruled by consensus opinion.

Some of my comments:

quote:
Because otherwise it creates a de-facto aristocracy. On 600k, somebody could easily draw 50k and never work a day in their life. If we have to get money from somewhere, it seems reasonable to keep it from someone who did nothing to earn it - as compared to taking more from someone's paycheck. I can also support an NRST for this purpose, where spending is taxed. If you have consumption based tax, this one can go away.
quote:
It should be pointed out that parents can give their kids plenty of gifts, pay for their college education, and whatever else while they are still alive. So if it does punish the kids, the process surely takes its time. I do give a crap if 1% of the US population never has to work because their great-granddaddy worked real hard. That's called aristocracy, and we don't need the cultural equivalent of Buckingham palace in America.

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Jesse
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How can you do *less* harm than by taxing people who don't exist?
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Richard Dey
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Well, as a Libertarian, I am opposed to the death tax; it obliges anybody with anything to pass on at all to do it when he or she is alive. That, it seems to me, is a burden upon the living they should not be obliged to bear.

Well brought up children won't need billions to succeed in life, but what fool would give money to those not in need? That is not, usually, why money is willed to people.

Wills are generally to provide for the maintenance of what the living person did in his life -- whether to maintain a home where he lived, maybe built with his own hands, to maintain institutions he thought were important, and to continue traditions that meant something to him.

The 1930s Communist-Hollywood-Magnate version of wealth was preposterously portrayed, and there is a constant flood of media portraying the rich as the poor would like to hate and envy them: sitting on bags of gold, ordering servants around in voluminous mansions, and driving cars 32 feet long wearing a crown. None of it is reality -- nor is any of it good for the economy.

The rich never have cash and are not inoften in awkward liquid circumstances. The purpose of the rich is to invest and take risks for the nation's economic growth.

Otherwise, the 70% of the nation's wealth is controlled by those over 51 and most of that by women.

To denounce the wealthy is to be a misogynist. To be in favor of a death tax is to be a woman-hater. I might wish widows were better advised in their investments, but I am none of those things.

If all the death tax went to the poor and oppressed, I might even favor it; but it will not go to the poor and the oppressed. It will go to the politicians first -- and if it ever gets out of their hands to the major armaments manufacturers, the next porkbarrel in Texas, some Bottomless Dig in Massachusetts, or the next contract scandal in Alaska -- worse, some war to bring democracy to Antarctica.

Unlike most, I trust old ladies to know best what ought to be done with the nation's accumulated cash. You guys don't think that the Colonial Garden Club and its Memorial Herb Garden are not good investments in our nation ...? What is our nation if it is not what little old ladies want it to be? Why were these millionaires born but to leave these millions to little old ladies?

Oh, once in a great while some old lady dies first and all those millions wind up in the hands of a chorus girl who doesn't really know what that kind of money is for (investment); but these are rare enough to make headlines and movies about; but the vast amount of this deathtax money would fall to little old ladies who know perfectly well what to do with such vast sums of money -- and have been managing these sums since 1783.

Putting in a death tax, and these little old ladies would teetle over dead -- dead broke! Harvard wouldn't be able to point its brick! Huge research corporations would have no stock! Artists would starve to death in their garrets. Nuns on pensions would have to give up their Saturday sundaes! Scholarships would run dry! THe Garden Club gardens would be full of weeds! The countryside would look like it had been devastated by the 7th plague!

Really! Our nation was born in revolution ... but revolution should be allowed to devolve into bedlam. Next you'll be suggesting that we turn over the financial management of the nation to the poor. Why not to the thieves? They, at least, are willing to risk their lives for money.

But to take money from the dead is like taking candy from a baby; that is no way to manage to manage the assets of the nation -- and no way to treat its heritage.

If money must be earned, why give it to politicans who can't earn a living unless they're in politics spending other people's money or, worse, lawyering? Bad idea! Very bad idea!

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Tom_paines_ghost
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Yah, lets give a tax break to the Hilton twins.

One will note that property in an estate up to, what, 2 million is completely exempt from the estate tax

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Adam Masterman
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The estate tax should be 100%, with exemptions for family farms. Earn your own way.

Adam

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sharpshin
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Alas, there aren't any affordable garretts left for artists to starve in, Richard.

Soho lofts that rented for $200 a month thirty years ago are now condos that cost a million dollars. I myself paid $200 a month back then for the entire top floor of a brownstone in Park Slope, on 5th St just off Prospect Park West.

Actually, a mere million ain't a bad deal for a condo in NYC these days.

One of my friends owns one floor of a restored triple decker on Ellsworth St in Cambridge. She bought it for eighty grand in 1985, and we all thought she was nuts. It was recently assessed at one million.

The same year she bought it, I was living in Belmont, in a three bedroom duplex with a huge attic and a fully useable basement, right across from Clay Pit Pond on Concord Ave, for $300 a month.

How much does a loft on South St in Boston's old leather district, which was a low rent haven for artists and dancers back in the late 70s, cost these days?

[ December 11, 2006, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: sharpshin ]

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Tristan
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A very basic fact needs to be remembered in discussions of this topic: if the estate tax does not correspond to the gift tax, it is basically useless. Most people have some sort of advance warning of when they are about to die, and if they know that the state will collect 90% of their assets upon their demise they will dispose of their wealth prior to that event, are the conditions to do so more advantageous. So the question really becomes, what restrictions are we prepared to accept upon a living person's right to dispose his money as he sees fit. Because if the state doesn't collect 90% of the value of the trust fund the grandparents settle on their grandson while they are still alive, the state would be unlikely to collect much once they are dead.

[ December 11, 2006, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: Tristan ]

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canadian
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This is why I am a corporation.
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DonaldD
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no man is an association of himself, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of himself, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of himself.

Or was that "no man is an island"?

Richard, why misogynist? Transfer of property between spouses is already tax free in the US (ignoring all the shared-property regulations that are in effect during the marriage). Or are you more concerned about your non-spousal lover benefits?

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Automath
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quote:
Originally posted by Tom_paines_ghost:

On the other hand I don't see where there is a vested interest in the maintenance of arisotocracy and wealth.

I don't see how you can call the government not doing something maintenance.

Just because someone dies doesn't mean in such an event the government (society) has more of a right to play parent than the now deceased. Let people do what they want with their money. It's only money.

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Richard Dey
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Women own the majority of wealth in the United States, have since nearly WWI.

At least $41 trillion will be passing from one generation to the next by 2044.

¶ Paul Schervish and John Havens, Boston College Social Welfare Research Institute.

Women outlive men by an average of 8 years. An estimated 85-90% of women are left in charge of family financial affairs.

¶ Kelly Bolton, Merrill Lynch, 1999.

What more can I say? To impose a death tax is 80-90% of the time a crime against women.

If we don't like what women are doing with all this money when they die, why doesn't somebody speak up for my complaints about it? Instead, I'm called a misogynist. I'm not the misogynist; those in favor of the death tax are the misogynists.

When it comes down to hard-earned pennies, I trust women; the deathtaxers do not.

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Richard Dey
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Musket:

My first months in NYC in 1953 I paid $12 a week for a room at the Walcott! Right in the middle of everything -- including the top of the elevator shaft, like that famous cheapest room in Europe across from the station in Luxembourg [Wink] . When I moved to W 47th St in the month Kennedy was shot, the same month Warhol moved to E 47th St, I had a 2-rm apt I called Slum Villa for $12 a week. When I returned to Boston in 1964 -- making $138/week, we had an full floor apartment on the waterside of Beacon, all-glass bay to the river, tiny kitchen, two big fireplaces, piano nobile paneling, parquet, a teensy bit seedy, for $48/month utilities included. That apartment, which Bill Henry (the journalist) later bought at $125,000 went recently for $3.5 million. Prices have gone up.

South Street (where my greatgrandfather had a virtual monopoly on sheepskin parchment for degrees, et al.), is no longer 'artsy'. It's office space at $34-37/sq ft (with really good space downtown available at $40/sq ft). Proximity to South Station and the The Dig have made it just 'subprime'. Les artistes have fled deep into NoSo (that's North or Not South Boston) which is a hubbub of development. (I think the new Museum of Contemporary Art is a no-doubt functional junkpile -- and I hope that 80-foot cantilever crashes into the water some day [Mad] . It's not 'striking' so much as it is rude. I mean, compare it to Bilboa or Milwaukee, and it looks utterly old-fashioned, grotesque bauhaus. It's NYC, not Bos; and Boston has never had that much to learn from New York when it comes to art.

Others have fled to Providence, always a good bet, Lowell, and, like you, to the countryside where one way or another they manage to cope -- making most of their money in the summer.

Boston, SFO, and NYC are the 3 most-expensive to live in. NYC can afford it; it's really, really big. Boston and SFO, small but the same size, face very different sociologies. Boston has the worst time of it because it is a multiplex mixed community running the gamut of incomes and tastes. In SFO, where the worker-class all live outside SFO or are specially protected in their Trans-Mission Potato-Hill districts where townies ignore them, it's easier. The rich live in the costly neighborhoods and the poor in the cheap neighborhoods. In Boston, as you know, rich, poor, and middle-class live cheek-by-jowl in almost all of the 100 towns.

That same greatgrandfather was the Wellesley Assessor for half a century, and he made no bones about it. He valued a house, house by house, according to the ability to pay the taxes -- long before the income tax confirmed what his wife already knew! The Irish made a mess of this system; he may have been Irish, but he did as his Yankee wife told him to do [Big Grin] .

The best thing in Boston is the Chickering building, of course, but the property nowadays has to be designated artists' lofts. Even the Chickering is now $1400—$3300 a month -- and, I've just noted, no dogs! In NoSoBo there are now three or four in conversion, so I hope that at least artists will be given a break. But everybody needs a break in Boston somewhere. You should see the apartment rates in places like Jamaica Plain! I mean! Nowheresville in my day!

I moved out just because it was absurdly expensive to live in town anymore where I spend well less than half the year. If the house hadn't been in Monument Square (where the Bunker Hill Monument is), it would have been torn down and skyscraper apartments would have been built there.

The problem is that there is a lot of money to be made in constructing plush condos (look at the skyscraper on Devonshire Street, right in the middle of everything); but the building codes and contract codes and parking demands and taxes and all that BS make it downright unfeasible to build moderate-income housing -- so the City builds low-income housing that is trashed in months.

Result? Boston stretches out 40 miles in every direction but the water -- and they had to turn the Harbor into a national park to save that from being filled in [Frown] . I myself moved 38 miles out to the end of the transit line -- but also quit my job and my involvement in the city altogether. You know the saying about Boston: a third don't speak English, a third is from New York, and the other third has its house for sale.

Ironically, the war on poverty is leaving our cities more and more at the mercy of the largely absentee rich. You wouldn't believe the number of wealthy Bostonians who actually live on St John! They fly up for foliage and the Thanksgiving game, maybe have lunch with the lawyers or their accountants, drop in unannounced at one of their charities, and come home -- to St John -- to cancel a cheque or something. Their children are no longer Yankees (not even the Mugars [Big Grin] ) but 'surfers'. The connection between money and investment in places as hometowns is long since lost.

The reason why the fabrics of our cities don't reflect the people in them or the purpose of the city itself, let alone its local heritage, is because our cities are increasingly just foreign corporations to invest in. Look at the Prudential blob. A Newark company hires an LA architect to build something unfit for the climate -- or the local sensibility. Look at the Stock Exchange! a Jewish international in Toronto builds it to suit the Toronto skyline as a property investment mostly for people spending only a few months in Boston. Look at the Ornery criticisms of the new skyscraper for Winthrop Square. It's a perfect example of treating the city itself as if it were simply a foreign investment.

It is one of the problems, only one of the problems of globalisation -- not that it didn't happen in its own horrible way when French 2nd and 3rd empire were introduced around the world! but today it's German 1930s and its horribly out of date. It ought to be obvious even to les artistes moderne that we are reacting against the geometric again and returning to the organic.

Who's that interesting new architect from LA. Jewish I think. Gerdler? Gehry. Frank Gehry, I think. He's got the right 'idea'; he just has the wrong materials, the wrong colors, and hasn't quite got the volumetric balance yet that great architectural masterpieces require in America. Not that I'm recommending his work in Boston (!) for just that reason, but it's a shame when the elderly show promise. Nay [Wink] ?

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Godot
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I don't see the estate tax debate as a matter of fairness (directly). Our government (especially now with $1 trillion+ extended cost of Iraq) needs tax money to function. It has to come from somewhere. And don't the richest among us have a greater moral duty (commensurate with the level of wealth they enjoy) to help pay for the upkeep of the country that allowed them to accrue their wealth?
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DonaldD
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Richard, I can see how taxing women more than men while they are still alive could be considered misogynist, but taxing their children/estates? That's a bit of a stretch.

Espcially since, as you pointed out so well, the inheritance tax rules are set up to protect surviving spouses, who tend to be overwhelmingly women.

I think you're just being ornery.

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canadian
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Honestly, why take money from others just because they don't "contribute" in a way that seems meaningful in the context of an arbitrary set of standards?

I want to be able to provide for my family in the event of my death, as probably everyone does. The idea that having a lot of money destroys drive...well that's just a theory isn't it? Has there been a study? Maybe the DNA that make such riches possible has been put out to stud with all these nonchalant ne'er-do-wells.

A breeding program that refines genetic success to such an extent that when the aliens come (which reading this forum assures me they will) we will have the ultimate army of hagglers and idea-men and women to co-opt their technology and eventually conquer them with US Steel and Coca Cola values.


...or something..


Anyway, no to more taxes until it can be proven there is a point beyond the collective money grab.

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Storm Saxon
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quote:

I don't see the estate tax debate as a matter of fairness (directly). Our government (especially now with $1 trillion+ extended cost of Iraq) needs tax money to function. It has to come from somewhere. And don't the richest among us have a greater moral duty (commensurate with the level of wealth they enjoy) to help pay for the upkeep of the country that allowed them to accrue their wealth?

This is exactly why I put forward a paradigm of individual vs. community. I think the implications very much define where people stand on many issues.

From my perspective, the country didn't run the person's business or whatever the person did that gave them their wealth. The individual did. They bought it with their money, not the state's money. It was their thoughts, in conjunction with their teamwork and work that enabled them to get their money.

Another way to look at it is that if the community was responsible for a person's wealth, then it would stand to reason that, all other things being equal, each individual would succeed the same. As it stands, this is not so. Individuals rise and fall, to a degree, based on their own abilities.

The argument that just because a person dies, what he wants to do with his money is somehow irrelevant is shortsighted, it seems to me. As Tristan mentioned upthread, what's the difference between a gift when the person is living and when they're dead? If I give a gift to my mom while I'm alive, should the state somehow get to think of this as de facto surplus that it can do with as it will?

We speak of need of the community versus the need of the individual. While it is important to acknowledge that people aren't an island, and that they are in a community, it is my belief that the community that owes the debt to the individual, not the other way around (the great person theory of history).

Now, that said, the individual must recognize that a community must be stable and secure for all to succeed. Common defense, taxes for national defense, speak to this.

So, the fair thing to do, it seems to me, is to treat a dead person's money as any other person's money. Take what is needed for common defense and whatnot, and then let the rest of it go to whomever or whatever the person wants it to.

Rather than look at it as the rich person having a greater moral obligation to the community because of their wealth, I look at each person needing to pay the same thing to the community, percentage wise, as every other person. So, each person gives, say, X% of their assetts, if possible, in taxes towards the community kitty for community maintenance, and after that is payed, their obligation to the community is, financially, over.

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Blessed
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I agree with storm saxon and canadian and richard [Smile] . Who cares if they get an advantage in life by inheriting money, most people would love such an advantage so I wouldn't begrudge them that. AS to what they do with it or wether it makes them lazy/un creative that is their problem, it's their advantage to squander or utilize.
I am a firm believer that people can do whatever they please with their money as far as they made it legally and don't spend it on illegal things, and as canadian pointed out people tend to work extremely hard to leave something /provide for generations to come so that they(descendants) can have an easier time/work less/suffer less than they did; what gives others the right to deny them that right?
And if the rich should bear more responsibility shouldn't their words/vote/importance count more than the rest of society as well since they will/ would bear more responsibility?

[ December 12, 2006, 05:03 AM: Message edited by: Blessed ]

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canadian
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wha?
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kenmeer livermaile
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I have this to say: the so-called death tax is really a birth grant, since the vast majority of willed estates go to the offspring of the willed.

I don't see why a child should receive more financial heritage than they receive genetic heritage, that is, 50%. If Mommy and Daddy have $500k to leave their children, I think their children deserve an inheritance, just as a child deserves to be born in a tribe with a village rather than to a mom and dad living as a couple against the elements.

So give the children 50%. $250K split between 2 kids, for example. $125 apiece.

But give the village -- society, the state, what have you -- the other 50%, for that wealth was only made possible through the availability of social networks. The very existence of a bank account reveals the necessity of a society for there to be the kinds of wealth a 'death tax' addresses.

I DO think it would be swell for such estate/death/birth taxes to be made elective, that is, that a person could decide to split it up between various government agencies as one (the deceased, maker of the will) saw fit. Give it all to the military or give 10% to the military and 90% to social programs. Or what have you.

And let conflict of interest be damned. (Trying to enforce 'inheritance nepotism' would create more hair-splitting than justice.)

I don't give hooty that the inheritors of wealth live lifestyles not centered around a work ethic.

Before the military-industrial-college research complex came into being, much of scienctific advances occurred through the hobbies of wealthy aristocrats.

The world is full of silly stupid people working themselves to the bone and in the process extracting their share of ecological resource from the 'hood. It has its share of silly stupid people living easeful lives via trust fund.

Either way, what the world needs is less silly stupid people, I believe.

[ December 12, 2006, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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Dave at Work
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Does the village gain or lose when a successful business is shut down and its assets sold off to pay the estate tax of its owner? What about the employees of that business, do they gain or loose? What if the business isn't so small and has hundreds of employees?

[Edited to fix phraseology]

[ December 12, 2006, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: Dave at Work ]

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Richard Dey
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Thank you DaW, and blessed are the Blessed [Wink] .

If money created a local business that everybody benefitted from, well, they've already benefitted.

DD thinks that I'm "just being ornery," which is just as it ought to be! but consider what the government is doing with that money! and GWII is not the worst of it however much a waste of money it has been.

Here's a really good example at the Veterans' home I live during the summer.

BM (and he is one) didn't quite make it through basic training, but BM is fully covered for life by the Veterans AdministratioN. BM became a drunk, bragged that he was a Green Beret. BM is a goat's rear end. BM sued the USA because basic training drove him "crazy". Local AA complains to M that BM is opportuning AA attendees for money. VA settles with BM for $375,000 plus all fees. BM moves out of veterans' home in sooperdooper truck with military decals all over it.

6 mos 1 wk 4 days later, BM arrives at veterans' home in a much-fancier truck, lots of bling-bling-bling, and a new wife. He's broke. Could M put him up for a few days until he's won a lawsuit he's plannign to bring against the USA for being driving him crazy. Answer "Of course, BM. This is your home!"

On the 4th day, Plymouth housing comes through, and he is given a 2-BR apartment, all expenses paid, at WHERE ELSE? The Peasants' Palace! Food stamps, the works.

BM is about as crazy as The Crazy Fox; and there's recent proof that not all the welfare cheats are women!

Could you go through a third of a million in six months and have nothing but bling to show for it? and wind up in free housing without having to pawn one gold chain? It's we who are crazy enough to put up with this stuff.

And who suffers? The Sea Scouts, the Historical Society, the sports teams, the band, the Bikeway Committee -- because taxes don't cover these things anymore, and the government has taken all the discretionary money from old ladies who would have given deserving causes this money. Instead, it goes to a self-indulgent twit who just bilked the government out of more than half a million bucks.

Oh, and I don't doubt that the local drug dealers made out like bandits! At least a quarter of a million of your hard-earned tax-dollars went up her nose! [Mad]

No, I'd let the little old ladies take care of those things. Maybe too much goes to flowers and not enough to male tutors for bored boys in school, but at least it doesn't go up some gold-digger's nose!

Hey, I'd trust a rich old lady long before I'd trust a welfare cheat ...! Yes I would.

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Tom_paines_ghost
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Again, Two MILLION dollars are exmpted.

More, small business and farms can be protected other ways-formation of a chapter S corp, fr instance.

[ December 12, 2006, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: Tom_paines_ghost ]

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Tom_paines_ghost
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One would note that corporate welfare costs a hundred times the costs of ALL social services.

But wait, you can sue for basic training making you crazy? Do tell. What's the name of the court case?

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Dagonee
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quote:
One would note that corporate welfare costs a hundred times the costs of ALL social services.
One who did so would be expected to supply some link or other evidence of this claim.
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Richard Dey
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TPG:

Were you btw in favor of granting that $2/million deduction to gay spousal survivors? Just wondered.

TPG:

There is no official connection between the Services and the Veterans' Administration.

As I've stated, BM was a drunk and an addict before he was inducted. He did not survive bootcamp (which is what? 84 days?). One cannot obtain full disability short of 120 days of AC. Notwithstanding, the VA awarded BM full disability despite the fact that he wasn't in bootcamp, let alone active combat, a full month! He had been referred to psychiatric services -- and talked his way through 17 years of partial (virtually complete) disability, then -- having managed to kick alcohol and all but the drugs he was given by the VA, and having found Jesus, he appealed to a VA court of adjudication that he had been denied full disability. This wasn't a military court or a civil court, but he was awarded full disability for something like 20 years retroactive in the amount of $375,000 and he is now on full disability, has complete VA services, free housing, free transportation, free cable, free utilities, and all the bloody time in the world to go sell Jesus to any large group he can weedle his way into.

Happy taxpaying!

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Jesse
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Ok, no Estate Tax, but no public courts to adjudicate Estates, either.

Don't want to fund the society you live in?

Fine, the kids can work it out with knives the way the Aristocracy historically did.

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Richard Dey
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Jesse, presuming that snide crack is opposed to my best interests:

Question: "Don't want to fund the society you live in?"

Answer: I do not! I expect to make the society that I live in -- not the one handed to me like a dead talking head on a salver. I expect every citizen to create the society that he lives in. Like, you know, Thoreau? Emerson? the Founding Fathers!

Any American who doesn't want to change American society is no American. You yourself want to change it. I'm only saying that transferring these trillions to "the government" to spend unwisely is less revolutionary than allowing those old ladies with these trillions to spend it unwisely.

At least with the old ladies, we know the nation will continue apace; but who the hell knows what the government would do with trillions in unexpected tax surplus. Pay off the national debt perhaps?

Those here in favor of the death tax haven't even offered a plan for its expenditure. At least the old ladies know what they're going to do with it.

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Jesse
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Richard...

I just want the aristocracy to knife each other again. I don't really care much about the Government getting revenue.

However, since married couples are exempt from the Death Tax, it doesn't affect the ability of widows to support whatever cause happens to tickle their fancy.

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Carlotta
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So you people who are saying that we have a moral duty to support the society we live in and that people with more should give more... you're not the same people who think churches' requiring tithes of their congregation is manipulative and unjust, are you?

I agree with Kenmeer that "aristocrats" who don't make money still can contribute greatly to society. If you say that only those who make money contribute to society, you would have to exclude stay at home moms, full-time volunteers, and retired people. So why wait till death? How about the government takes a 50% of an individual's assets upon their retirement?

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Richard Dey
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Good point, Carla, and why are the Democrats giving Social Security to retired zillionaires?

Otherwise, I am no aristophobe, so long as they are investing in the workforce. Much of our literary heritage was written on mum's and daddum's money -- without whose poison pens we would be quite ignorant of the rich altogether!

On the other hand ... Oz ..., without aristocrats, we'd have no Mozart -- which would be a blessing to me [Big Grin] .

Jesse, are you hoping the Kennedys and the Bushes stage a swordfight to the death on the Mall? Not that that wouldn't simplify things, but ... well, I don't know .... Hmmm. Perhaps I can arrange something [Wink] .

Inappropos: I heard a concert from the new hall in Los Angeles tonight, and it was just excellent! That's this architect Gehery or whatever -- and 40 years later the hall in Lincoln Center is still a cacaphony!

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kenmeer livermaile
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"On the other hand ... Oz ..., without aristocrats, we'd have no Mozart -- which would be a blessing to me"

Lay off Mozart awreddy! Just because he was an idiot savant composer doesn't mean he wrote all crap! He was a frce of nature, and therefore an idiot, but he wrote some magnificent stuff.

Beethoven was just Mozart with brains.

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Richard Dey
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Beethoven declared himself independent of aristocracy, Oz; Mozart couldn't declare himself independent of the Mannheim Schule [Big Grin] .

I'm not suggesting that he was an idiot savant; I'm only saying that he was not a real architect but more in the manner of an interior decorator. Exquisite. I'm not much into exquisite.

Beethoven had the guts to denounce the aristocracy. That's m' man.

The irony of this discussion, of course, is that Mozart thought himself superior to the aristocrat (which I doubt not he was); and Beethoven thought that he was an aristocrat -- until he discovered that the Flemish van didn't have the rank of the German von at all. It's said that he was utterly humiliated! His name means "of the beet gardens" or some such [Smile] . He was descended from migrant farm workers. Well, so then he declared war on the aristocracy.

I love it! The Crowned Cabbages of Europe UNITE!

Off to clammy bunk. G'night!

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kenmeer livermaile
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"I'm not suggesting that he was an idiot savant; I'm only saying that he was not a real architect but more in the manner of an interior decorator. Exquisite. I'm not much into exquisite."

His slow movements were often deep. But true, his music rarely reflects the grand balls of Beethoven.

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Richard Dey
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I woke up damp and cold, and it reminded me of the half-heated winters and un-air-conditioned summers of hard work I spent building up money for the kids -- and I realized how bloody naif it is to presume that lawyers and bureaucrats and lazy asses on welfare can spend my money more economically than I or my sons or, for that matter, the Sea Scouts!

I'm not talking about the nouveau riches who squander their parents' unexpected riches unprepared to spend it wisely, but how in hell can anybody who comprehends our bloated government ignore what it takes to make money by hard work -- where money comes from?

And why blame the rich, except the legislators the poor and downtrodden put into power, for the fact that it's the lower-middle-class who gets screwed from behind instead of the front? The poor are no help, shopping at Wal-Mart; for trinkets, they're sacrificing American manufacturing jobs.

Iowa somewhere, they recently took 4 kids away from a mother living in a trailer. Apparently, there was so many chadkes (Musket correct me) in it, that two of the kids had to sleep in the car.

Y may be a slippery slope, but X is a dump -- at the Peasants' Palace, a dump with servants, free delivery, and hands-on service! Why should the children of the rich have to go out and get summer jobs as teens (as they do indeed) -- when the children of the poor get to run riot in the streets (as they do indeed)? Work is part of living; all women expect their male friends to work. I don't know a rich person who doesn't work.

We who waited on the peasants at The Peasants' Palace used to use the phrase:- The Pursuit of Happiness through Poverty. Every time the phone rang in Maintenance we could have used the phrase.

Somebody help! I've fallen out of bed and I get back in. Is Harry there?

My cat didn't come in last night!

My toilet made a funny noise!

Why can't I have new stove? This one is all greasy!


I don't have any sympathy for the poor ...?! What sympathy has the poor ever shown for me biking through the ice 20 miles to work over hill and dale? and 20 miles back? I got a ride home once, having spent 3 days snowbound in the Bank, manning the desks and everything else. You know who gave me the lift? A vice-president of the $40-billion dollar bank.

Life, work, and charity are two-way streets. Of the 158 units of fat-assed lazy no-good bimbos who did nothing but complain day in and day out, what % do you think did any charity work for poor people who couldn't get on welfare? By saying absolutely nothing, rendered speechless at the very thought of it, you came up with the correct answer [Smile] .

And where the hell do the poor get the impression that the rich don't work? Bill Gates, gods bless him, works, he takes risks, he is his employees' most-important employee. He creates jobs, capital, and provides generously for charity. How? He invests in people. That's a lot different than hiring servants for them.

Charity is one thing; welfare is quite another. It is welfare, in fact, which has screwed up charity. Charity is being choked by do-goods who don't want to face the poor, the guilty rich, those who don't want to do charity themselves, and out of distaste for poverty -- who let the government take care of all that uckiness and all those ucky people.

Ask those who wait hand and foot on people in housing projects, who have to patrol the projects, who have to clean up after them, whether they're in favor of welfare. They're in favor of welfare to the amount of money they earn in the business of welfare. What a surprise! We've got a circle jerk, and everybody's going around in circles.

Welfare is a circle jerk of envy with everybody complaining that somebody else gets more than he or she does.

I'm for tempting the poor out of poverty; those who want to use other people's hard-earned dollars to pass by the Poor Zoo and feed the animals just want to perpetuate poverty. They like the idea of the poor. It makes them feel rich in comparison. Well, fine, but they forget those who take their cut of it whilst it's sitting in probate.

And that can't be naivete today; rather, it's like those poor people in MA who vote for the Kennedys like blindfolded cows. And they wonder why they're still poor [DOH] .

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0630-05.htm

The Democrats are more establishmentarian than the Republicans.

Today, a father who wants to provide for his friends (or does he have that right in our X society anymore) and family, has to divvy it up before he dies to avoid having it go into the pockets of lawyers, agents, and bureaucrats. How the hell does he know when he's going to die?

Get your money offshore. Eff the patriotism, because otherwise the patriots will eff you.

An acquaintance of mine, who employed 224 people, recently died, leaving the company to his wife and his daughter. They were aghast at the narrow margins he had had to work with. I showed them that the problem was that everything he made could be made cheaper in nearly 100 countries.

"Well, what do we do?" the wife asked, a bit vaguely.

"You shut it down, Audrey."

"But - but - but ...," said the daughter. "Everything we stand for is in the company."

"Well," I advised, "Bruce could manage it, even with this tax load. He could maintain his status in the community by going without."

"But - but - but ...!" the daughter said, now very alarmed.

"But we could sell it," says the widow.

"To whom?"

"Uh, well, the Japanese or somebody like that?"

I was beside myself, and I asked them bluntly if thought that Bruce would have thought that a good idea -- to have his town owned and controlled by, more likely, the Germans.

They didn't know how to run the company, they didn't know the company was marginal, they had no ideas for the company, the idea of selling it to the employees never crossed their minds (it wouldn't have worked anyway), and they had no idea how divvy up the company to those who could have made a go of bits and pieces of it.

"Well, we could turn the buildings into old-age housing," said the widow, thinking ahead. "We could make it quite pretty on the river side."

Now here was a case where 100% death tax would have made sense. It would have shut down the factory, put 224 people on unemployment and, ultimately, welfare, and would have left a dangerous ruin in the middle of an already-struggling mill town.

Well, because his wife and daughter wound up with only $3,500,00 (or so), they took the money and ran. What did we get? A dead business, a ruined mill, and hundreds of lives in ruins. Could the mill have been saved? Yes! Could it have been saved the way it was? No! It meant breaking up the company into smaller ones, allowing some buy-outs, some subcontracts, a new manager of a larger, more-complicated scheme, a lot of architectural redistribution of spaces meeting local code ... a difficult process that would have cost more than a mere $3.5 million to implement. But it could have been saved if what Bruce had left hadn't been screwed up by taxes. Indeed, Bruce left a scheme to save the factory -- which wasn't quite good enough, but bringing in a good management team could have saved for the factory at (my guess) was $9.5-$10 million.

It's plain and simple. High taxes cost more money that less taxes. It's a very simple formula. Whom did the town blame for the debacle? Bruce -- instead of the bumbling bureaucrats, greedy lawyers, and, yes, the welfare careerists who smelt business in Mudville.

The result? There it is! A ruined mill, disrupted lives, a town eroding away down the river -- and a hydroelectric plant that Bruce added to the mill to save electric costs turning to rust!

To envy the rich is amongst the most-destructive emotions in the country; it is irrational to hate and envy those whom one imagines one would like to be like. Envy leads to a false sense of charity (using somebody else's money to do what one should be doing oneself), to self-righteousness, and more envy -- when it doesn't work. It is like cancer.

That will be the Democrats' undoing again. They'll be free with everybody else's money but their own.

Ye gods! If we'd had a 100% death tax, we'd never have had Teddy Kennedy, Bill Biden (his father wasn't a coal miner, he was a big-time autodealer), Sen Rockefeller, or Merry Kerry in the Senate [Eek!] ! Ye gods!

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Tom_paines_ghost
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"
Were you btw in favor of granting that $2/million deduction to gay spousal survivors? Just wondered."

I am in favor of equal access to the protections of marriage to gays.

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Tom_paines_ghost
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quote:One would note that corporate welfare costs a hundred times the costs of ALL social services.

"One who did so would be expected to supply some link or other evidence of this claim."

I am sorry, what exactly would you like evidence for?

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