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Let’s not play that stupid Class Warfare game either, please

You’re probably seeing this graph and many others like it these days (don’t know who to credit for this one; there are a bunch of them out there). It’s an illustration of just how much of their “fair share” the rich are paying already. The top 5% are responsible for more than half the income taxes collected. The top 50% for nearly all of it.

The millionaires and billionaires Obama has been wagging his finger at are precious natural resources. They invest money in companies, they build businesses. They’re general all-around rich bastards who travel and buy things and own things and employ people to do stuff for them (as a friend of mine once said, Mercedes mechanics have to eat, too). All of those things are fan-fucking-tastic for the economy.

Also, they’re rich. If you piss them off, they can afford to go away and take all their lovely job-creating money with them.

Okay? Okay.

But here’s the problem: these graphs are usually accompanied by text stating that, whatever it is, 40% of the people don’t pay taxes.

Bullshit! EVERYbody pays taxes (the graph is only about income taxes). Sales taxes, gas taxes, extra taxes on booze and cigarettes. Car tax and road tax.

And, really, most of us think of “taxes” as any money the government takes away. Social Security withholding for benefits you’ll probably never see. Quarters fed into parking meters. Licenses and fines and tickets and penalties (the poor are more likely to drive an old beater with a taillight out and live in a house that needs painting).

I spent some years bumping along at the bottom, doing that starving artist thing. I made shit money and lived in bad neighborhoods. Let me tell you, the working poor — the people trying to claw out a living without taking government benefits — they pay, and they miss every dollar of that money vividly. Let’s not alienate natural allies in the fight against huge and oppressive government.

Love the rich, but don’t be hating the poor.

Just how shit do I still feel? I didn’t Talk Like A Pirate even once today.


Comment from Dan Patterson
Time: September 19, 2011, 8:57 pm

Oh…you did that already.

Comment from Alice
Time: September 19, 2011, 9:37 pm

I mostly agree, having also done the starvation route for a few years. Yet even then I recall always paying SOMETHING in fed taxes. I just pulled out my old tax returns, and it’s true. In 1986, worked two jobs, grossed $12,7xx, paid $1300 in fed income tax. In 1985, worked 5 jobs (not all at the same time), grossed $5500, paid $377 fed income tax. So seriously, how poor are those 50% who pay $0 fed income taxes? I truly cannot believe they are even further below poverty level than I was. Yes – everyone pays lots of sorts of taxes, but having 50% have no vested interest in what happens to FEDERAL income tax rates bothers me. There’s a limit to how progressive it can become before it falls over. I submit we passed that point already.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 19, 2011, 10:10 pm

Well, we keep reading that, but is it true, Alice? Because my memory matches yours — even when I made next to nothing, I paid SOMEthing.

I think I made $8,000 in my worst year, 1981. And I not only paid something, I had interest and penalties — $300 of that was freelance income in the first quarter and I didn’t know I had to make quarterly payments.

Comment from Alice
Time: September 19, 2011, 10:27 pm

I believe it is true. Tax rates, deductions have a lot changed since the 80’s, but I think that EITC (earned income tax credit) is what really distorts things today. That is, I personally know two people with decent paying jobs who got more $ back than they paid in fed taxes due to offsets for children, mortgage interest, property taxes leaving them officially “poor” and qualifying for some bonus money. (I don’t really understand it 🙂 ). And since I don’t know very many people, it would not surprise me if that extrapolates to 50% of the employed.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 19, 2011, 10:28 pm

Oh. In that case, it is wicked.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 19, 2011, 10:29 pm

Although my point about government ass-raping EVERYone still stands 🙂

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: September 19, 2011, 10:37 pm

As you say:

Not paying income taxes != not paying taxes

For one thing, payroll taxes. Though there is some kind of “payroll tax holiday” in effect.

It should be noted that the U.S. income tax was, for a long time, only on the wealthy. In 1938 there were 34M households, but only 3.9M taxable returns. In the 1930s, rates above 5% applied only above $15,000/year (the equivalent of $300,000 today).

Comment from Alice
Time: September 19, 2011, 11:17 pm

The details of this mess give me a headache. 1) spending must be cut 2) taxes need to be rebalanced across the board, and wind up in aggregate (state, sales, excise, federal) to a smaller total % of earnings. How we get there is very difficult and convoluted – no straight paths to it. All I know is I’m nearly at my personal Galt moment, where it no longer makes economic sense for me to keep working with less and less return on time/effort.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: September 19, 2011, 11:31 pm

In what probably amounts to my lowest episode of misery I made something criminally awful, like £11,000 a year (1997 or so.) I honestly don’t know how I scraped by (I nearly didn’t – a friend diagnosed me years later as having been on the early slopes of a tumble into a full-blown nervous breakdown.) Everything cost. VAT was savage, and it’s even worse now. I saw the tiny little cheque I got paid as a TA, and the PAYE deductions were blood-boiling. I think I’d be dead by now if I’d tried to tough it out in the UK. But then a nice man said, “move to the tropics and we’ll pay you $60K a year” (back when that was good green). So I did. And lived.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: September 20, 2011, 12:01 am

Would you believe that a Lib actually told me online that since we have “Government by the people, of the people and for the people”, being ass-rapedby the government is actually a form of masturbation?

I think he was high.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: September 20, 2011, 12:07 am



Delores Hope has officially assumed room temperature at the age of 102.

Comment from Cobrakai99
Time: September 20, 2011, 12:27 am

Arr free grog for all of my bilgerat mateys.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: September 20, 2011, 12:44 am

Here’s one for all the CNN fans out there… 😉


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: September 20, 2011, 12:54 am

The whole US tax scene is infuriating and nauseating. The govt needs to be dismembered with a chain saw – there’s so much of it that is deemed constitutional only by means of the collusion of the Supreme Court (which usurped the task of constitutional review as that was not given it originally).

My idea is to take the cost of govt and divide that by the population – men, women, and children. Each person owes the same amount, none of this “progressive tax rate” crap.

What could be fairer? (-:

I guarantee that the cost of Leviathan would drop precipitously!

(My total tax amount is equivalent to paying three people working full time at minimum wage. I wish I could get one of them to mow my lawn from time to time.)

Comment from Frit
Time: September 20, 2011, 2:50 am

Uncle Al:
Having each person owing exactly the same amount is not truly fair, when you consider that some people make (per year) millions, others over $100k, and many more less than $20k. (I personally spent one year bringing home a grand total of $1,500 – and had to rely on the good graces of my parental units to survive on rice, soy sauce, mac-n-cheese, and occasionally fresh fruit & veggies from friends gardens.)

I’d be more inclined towards each person owing a percentage of their income – the same percentage across the board, with no tax dodges. The poor will still be hurt, but hopefully not as much as having everyone pay the same amount, regardless of income.

Just my 2¢…

Comment from francis
Time: September 20, 2011, 2:56 am

I always wondered about that 40% stat – I too have been poor and still kicked in more than I got out. The EITC is a big part of it – the one year I think I actually got more was while I was still making very little money and had a kid. Big money back off just above minimum wage.

I also think there are a tremendous number of people that are flat out beating it. I’m currently trying to sell a beater car I inherited (2-3k), and the number of people on disability, long-term unemployed, etc calling me up for the car is staggering. Insert standard disclaimer about how some people need govt help here, I get it. But apparently, if you are content with being a bottom feeder forever and just barely getting by off the crumbs from the government table, you can pull it off. If you are industrious in your slothfulness, I suppose.

The real problem is what Stoaty said: the people that really get bit in the ass are the working poor. If you work your ass off in a lower-reward field, it’s a struggle every day and the government offers a little help, and a lot of stealthy hindrance.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: September 20, 2011, 3:23 am

Without hating on the poor, I do believe that we can agree that there is something wrong with this picture:

“In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year”


This article has been stuck in my craw head for some time now

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: September 20, 2011, 3:26 am

@Frit – My point is that if taxes had to be affordable for the lowest income earners, taxes would by necessity come down to almost nothing.

Comment from Mija Cat
Time: September 20, 2011, 4:02 am

Dumb question, sweasel. The chart indicates “wages”.

Is it including all income, i.e. income from rental properties, gifts, and .. most importantly .. investment income?

If not, then .. what *are* the percentages for all forms of income… and if so, why leave the word “wages” on it?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 20, 2011, 11:53 am

Hm. I think it must be inclusive of interest income and…well, anything you’d put on your 1040.

It’s not my graph, though. I just cast around the interweb for one of the many variations of this data…

Comment from Mija Cat
Time: September 20, 2011, 1:36 pm

See, that’s why I’m asking … It was quite possible to not report a yachtload of investment income prior to the AMT; capturing that income stream was, after all, the *point* to the AMT, to “punish” day-traders and their kin.

Perhaps it’s just my non-trusting nature, but .. it seems to me that a graph that says “wages” may mean just that – wages reported to the government by employers rather than “income” as reported to the government by individuals.

If that’s the case, then .. what does the data on the more complex “income” look like?


Comment from Mark Matis
Time: September 20, 2011, 3:42 pm

Further clarification from the AP:

although as we ALL know, the Associated Press is such a bastion of right-wing liars and scoundrels.

Comment from beasn
Time: September 20, 2011, 11:24 pm

Mija, wages = income earned, reported to the gubmint by the individual. Investment income is taxed at a different rate.

Comment from RHJunior
Time: September 21, 2011, 12:51 am

I know what you mean. I’ve spent my whole life puttering around 10 grand a year…. and I manage to fall through all the cracks in the system, and get hit up each year for federal and state income tax.
Granted their whole point with that chart is refuting the whole “you don’t pay enough, you dirty rich bastard” meme that the Democrats have been ramming down our throats for years.

Perhaps the emphasis needs to be made that, to the Left, anyone who works for a living is a Dirty Rich Bastard, to be bled white at every opportunity….

Comment from Frit
Time: September 21, 2011, 4:10 am

@Uncle Al:
Good point, thank you for clarifying! 🙂

Pingback from Demagogue attacks straw man, screech monkeys applaud » Cold Fury
Time: September 22, 2011, 9:48 pm

[…] to the updated update! A worthy reminder from Stoaty: You’re probably seeing this graph and many others like it these days (don’t know who to credit […]

Comment from JC
Time: September 25, 2011, 7:35 am

Even if one ends up with no tax liability, the witholding is iniquitous, as it is effectively an interest-free loan to the government.
BTW, the “Buffet” type comparisons usually include a SS and the like, which are capped at certain income levels, in keeping with the beard that they are actually”accounts”. Lying, mendacious, dishonest, not-to-be-trusted sack sof shit.

Comment from MasterOfSparks
Time: February 11, 2014, 2:25 am

If the rich are pay too many taxes its only because they have too large a share of the wealth. Think about it. If the 1% had 100% of the money and the rest of us were living naked in cardboard boxes and eating grass then the 1% would be paying ALL of the taxes. And they’d be complaining about that too.

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