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Who are you voting for in 2012?

Unfortunately as far as politics goes, I'm of the mindset that it doesn't really matter what I think about them, because it doesn't matter. Even if you have a ton of money and influence, it simply won't matter in what pundits call the swamp. The swamp is Washington D.C., you may get there with excellent ideas and ideals, but you soon realize to get anything done you need to learn how to play in the swamp. The thing is, once you learn how to play in the swamp, your ideas and ideals are covered in mud and re-election is only 2 years away!

Mostly politicians (congressmen and senators) don't arrive with any ideals or illusions. To get elected in the first place they need a war chest and that only comes with agreeing to do certain, er, political favors for moneyed interests. The US political system is based on cash for political favors, with a cursory nod to the interests of ordinary people. The best democracy money can buy, as has been said more than once. And look at it from a politician's point of view: the public is fickle, has a short attention span, doesn't want to get involved or stay informed, and expects politicians to somehow perform miracles in return for their lousy votes. Politicians have contempt for the electorate and this is something I understand.

A typical American politician is someone like John Boehner: a poor boy from a poor background, not unduly burdened with either brains or scruples, and who will retire prosperous. People enter the political arena to get something for themselves. I'm not blaming or criticising the American political system; just pointing out how it works.
 
Interesting article, originally published in the NYT, on Obama's $35,800 a plate dinner in Manhattan:

President Barack Obama’s recent $35,800-a-plate fundraising dinner was the talk of Wall Street.

Held at Daniel, the Michelin "three-star" restaurant of Daniel Boulud on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the event was seen as a test of the president’s popularity among the deep-pocketed financiers he has often vilified but has long relied on to finance his campaign. The tables were filled with moneymen such as Marc Lasry, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Avenue Capital; Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Group Americas; and Mark Gallogly, a co-founder of Centerbridge Partners.

That's the way the system works: stump up cash and get political favors in return. Investing in American political campaigns affords the highest ROI in the world. Politicians listen to their donors or those who do other favors for them; not to scummy little voters offering their pathetic next-to-worthless votes (though a candidate will make all sorts of lying promises to said scummy little voters, which will be promptly rescinded the moment he gets voted in).
 

atreides

Graduate Student
Politicians listen to their donors or those who do other favors for them; not to scummy little voters offering their pathetic next-to-worthless votes (though a candidate will make all sorts of lying promises to said scummy little voters, which will be promptly rescinded the moment he gets voted in).

Okay, this is very funny
 
I have seen the argument that a curved tax structure would completely demotivate the "upper" class from "being as productive" mentioned here. However, that is simply not true. Just because you get 49 cents out of your next dollar instead of 50 does not mean that you will not want the 49 cents.

The mythical "flat" tax structure that will "make everything equal" and lead to utopia has in practice only encouraged massive wealth stagnation, leading to the degradation of democracies in societies that happened to have Bush Sr. install the idea in (i.e. Russia), turning them into plutocracies. And while I have had the Ron Paul crowd tell me that that must mean heaven, I currently live in the USA because I can tell you first hand it is not.

Flat tax is actually a regressive tax in disguise. I'm not sure where you got the idea that Ron Paul is in favor of one.

Q: If you replace the income tax with a flat tax, a 30% consumption tax, that would be very, very punishing to the poor and middle class.
A: Well, I know. That’s why I don’t want it.
Q: So you have nothing?
A: I want to cut spending. I want to use the Constitution as our guide, and you wouldn’t need the income tax.
http://www.ontheissues.org/2012/Ron_Paul_Tax_Reform.htm
 

mfegrad

CMU MSCF Alum
Flat tax is actually a regressive tax in disguise.

laughable. as an mfe student, i'm surprised that the concept of a slope seemingly eludes you.

a progressive tax is one in which the marginal tax rate increases as your income increases.
a regressive tax is one in which the marginal tax rate increases as your income decreases.
a flat tax is just that...the marginal tax rate stays flat.

you could make the argument that a flat tax might end up hitting the poor harder than they are currently hit, but that doesn't make it a regressive tax. edit: it just makes it more regressive than the current progressive system.

and having a system where everyone has some skin in the game isn't a bad thing...
 
Logarithmic utility...

Logarthimic utility with respect to wealth would make even a flat tax essentially "progressive", at least when it comes to disincentives to work. I once (to play devil's advocate) argued in favor of a regressive income tax in order to keep the marginal utility of income constant across income levels.

A zero income tax makes sense if only because of the massive waste of resources used by the IRS to ensure taxes are collected properly, and the massive waste of resources used by those being taxed to ensure that the bare minimum of their income is collected. The same goes for corporate income taxes.

If we replaced all income taxes with a high sales tax on luxury items, the rich would still be effectively taxed while wasting less time and energy by all involved.
 
Wrong question.

The correct question is "Why should his penalty be virtually nothing while that of someone in college or with a low income be crippling?"

Should he also have to pay more for bread and water since he makes more? This system is indeed ridiculous. Don't punish people for making a bigger contribution to society. His speeding does not endanger more lives than other people's speeding. To correalate punishment with income as opposed to goods is a primitive and counter-capitalistic.
 
Should he also have to pay more for bread and water since he makes more? This system is indeed ridiculous. Don't punish people for making a bigger contribution to society. His speeding does not endanger more lives than other people's speeding. To correalate punishment with income as opposed to goods is a primitive and counter-capitalistic.

I think the idea is that no matter who you are, everyone is equally human, so you suffer the same exact penalty no matter what your state of income is. And the idea that income is based off of contributions to society is anachronistic. You get paid something because someone wants you to get paid that. It has nothing to do with what you produce to society anymore. Case in point: so many MBAs and managers, who get paid all of the dough, while the real work comes from far below them.
 
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