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CA: 43% Brown, 41% Whitman (Rasmussen 8/3)

Topics: California , poll

Rasmussen
8/3/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

California

2010 Governor
43% Brown (D), 41% Whitman (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Meg Whitman: 47 / 46
Jerry Brown: 47 / 50

 

Comments
TeaPartyRules:

Tied. Given the Ras effect, other pollsters will soon post similar results. Great news for the upcoming redistricting.

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TeaPartyRules:

BTW Rush fans, Carl Rove will be hosting on Mon.

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Paleo:

Ugh. This is actually Brown's best showing in the last three rASS polls.

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Publius:

Tied with Rasmussen means Jerry's up about 5.

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tjampel:

Tied. Given the Ras effect..

Are you claiming that Ras has a Dem-leaning effect? It has a Republican leaning house effect of 2, which means that one would expect other pollsters to show Brown up by about 4, which is what they're showing.

It's very close. 100M buys you a lot of votes. Meg's topped that level already. Let's see if she hits 200M by election day.

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Publius:

I overestimated by 1.

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Stillow:

If Ca puts in another leftist after Davis and arnold, I say let 'em rot. Let them starve for all I care. people get what they deserve. and if they want leftists running the state, let 'em starve. let them live with what they vote for out there.

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cmbat:

Stillow, still posting on these boards two years later and still bitter and angry. I was in Texas the other day. Those are the people that should starve.

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Publius:

@Stillow

You're letting your emotions get the best of you. Governments run by Democrats do just fine in many states.

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seg:

Publius:
Which states run by dems are doing fine and which are not, in your estimation?

I know that MA, Conn, MI, IL, NY, CA are among those I would say are doing badly indeed, at least fiscally.

Would you say those with conservative dem govs are doing well? I suspect it is true. Maybe Oregon is doing okay, though they did just pass a substantial tax increase.

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Publius:

There aren't too many states run by anybody that are doing well these days. My point is that emotionally damning governments run by Democrats because you don't agree with their priorities is a waste of cyberspace. Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania are doing OK. Some states run by Republicans that have huge numbers of unemployed or uninsured people, and yet their representatives vote against programs that would help are not places I would like to live.

I am a public employee who lives in NJ. Both parties have messed up the state and the pension system. Corzine was bad and Christie is a different kind of bad.

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Shannon,Dallas,Texas:

Minus the Ras effect, this poll shows that Jerry is doing pretty well even after Whitman dumped loads of cash on this race.

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Shannon,Dallas,Texas:

I'd love to see Newark's mayor challenge Christie next time around.

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Dave:

Christie will be in the White House by then. :-)

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seg:

Publius:
Indiana, ND, SD, VA, etc. are doing very well.

Since you are from NJ and a public employee, I will ask you a really tough question: Do you think it is a fiscal necessity to rein in the cost of public employees in NJ, whether by cutting numbers or total compensation (including retirement) ?

Another: Christie and others argue that NJ has such a layered network of local regulations that it invites local corruption (any of 5 people can stop your construction in its tracks) and makes starting and running businesses difficult. Do you think there is truth to that? If so, why has nothing been done about it?

If you agree that there are real problems, how would you fix them differently than Christie?

Once you answer my questions, I would be happy to respond to tough questions from you.

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Publius:

@seg:

It is necessary to rein in costs, but the governor has decided that only public workers are the ones who need to make sacrifices. We pay into out pensions and past administrations have taken that money for other purposes. Now Christie says that he won't obey the law and make a payment to the pension fund next year because it's unsustainable. So I get the double whammy: being blamed for the problem(and if you don't believe me, look at some of the posts at nj.com when they run an article about teachers or police officers)and finding that I might not have a pension that I have been contractually promised. If the governor would have actually shared the pain and asked those with incomes of 1$ million or more to pay to help out the state, then he wouldn't have had to cut so much. He could also let Atlantic City sink or swim on its own as opposed to propping up the gaming industry. Imagine that: cutting school aid, but giving money to gambling.

In the end, and this is what is not being reported, the arguments coming from Christie have not been about education; they have been about destroying the teacher's union. If he had begun his term by trying to actually improve the schools, I would have joined the conversation. But from the start he's accused teachers of trying to propagandize children. That's despicable.

As for your second question, yes, having 567 school districts (one is an actual airport) is silly beyond belief. I have been advocating, and have been ignored by some of my union colleagues, for district consolidation and shared public services. That would cut down on the number of officials you'd need to see to get anything done and would streamline the process of filing paperwork and making the system more efficient.

Corzine had a plan in place to actually consolidate, but Christie has not followed up. Christie's view is that if you starve the towns and cut their state money then they will turn to each other for help. The problem is that "home rule" is alive and well in NJ. Each town loves the way it does things and nobody wants to share with a town they perceive as less affluent or livable. It's a shame because, and I think we agree on this, towns could cut their costs dramatically by sharing.

I look forward to your comments.

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Shannon,Dallas,Texas:

@Publius

"If the governor would have actually shared the pain and asked those with incomes of 1$ million or more to pay to help out the state, then he wouldn't have had to cut so much. He could also let Atlantic City sink or swim on its own as opposed to propping up the gaming industry. Imagine that: cutting school aid, but giving money to gambling."

That about sums it up. Nice post.

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Publius:

Thanks Shannon. There is certainly waste at every level of government and public service. I would welcome a more pragmatic approach from both parties so we can look at the problems and make adjustments in cuts and raising revenue. That's not going to happen in DC at present.

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lat:

Meg Whitman is the only republican I am routing for this election cycle. Jerry Brown is tired and washed up. CA needs some fresh blood and Meg Whitman is a smart, moderate, and impressive candidate. The GOP should take a lesson from her because god forbid moderate republicans should make a comeback.

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seg:

Publius:
Thanks for your reply, which was thoughtful and detailed. I don't think you asked me any questions, so I will just comment on your statements.

The argument is made that NJ and other states has done nothing but drive millionaires out of the state when it tried to increase their taxes, producing a net drop in tax collections instead of an increase. I have read lots of statistical arguments to support this, but it is a tricky issue. There seems to be little doubt that revenues do decrease (as Bloomberg pointed out in NYC), but it is not clear why.

I think John Kerry gave us the answer when he parked his yacht in Delaware instead of MA, thereby saving himself $500k. His two wives have brought him literally billions, yet he still plays the cheapskate on taxes. What he did then is what the very wealthy always do. They find ways to reduce their taxable income (presto, fewer wealthy people) and otherwise avoid taxes. You reach a point where you have enough at stake that it becomes worth it to spend inordinate time and energy to avoid taxes.

As as result, the taxes the wealthy paid was less percentagewise when the upper rate was 70% than when it was 35%. I remember those times very well. "Tax shelters" were discussed the way stocks and bonds are discussed today.

You might well advocate closing the loopholes. If you do, it is your friendly congress person you need to talk to. Both reps and dems find it lucrative to put those loopholes into laws. Raising the stakes by raising rates just produces more corruption of Congress and tax bureaucrats. The old loopholes are still lovingly enshrined in our tax laws. I have no doubt that rich folks are busy plotting with their congress person and accountants right now.

You will NEVER close the tax loopholes. Money will always find a way. How do you think the Roosevelt, Kennedy, Getty, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Heinz, etc. fortunes are still intact? Why did estate taxes not wither the great fortunes?

Ha, ha, ha. Good one! What a humorous question. Here is another for you, why is it that the grand children and great children of wealth creators end up as overwhelmingly liberal democrats who advocate for taxes for good causes? Aren't they advocating against their own self-interest. Ha, ha. Another good one! Of course not, their incomes generally come from non-taxed trust funds. The tax laws not only allows this escape hatch from estate taxes (if enough money is involved), it also carefully avoid taxing those incomes, and in most states laws rule them off-limits to bankruptcy courts and plaintiffs lawyers! Why or why are these trust funds and other vehicles so protected, me wonders? Not! There is a sub-rosa deal here: rich people who have never had a job in their lives (other than as elected officeholders) will support liberal democrats; liberal democrats will carefully avoid taxing them. Everyone wins! Since many rep officeholders are wealthy, their heirs win, too.

There is an unfunny thing about tax shelters, loopholes, and high tax rates. All of the efforts to avoid taxes end up producing investments that are less efficiently allocated to growing the economy. Indeed, in the past it could be advantageous to lose money on investments, meaning the investment was worse than useless. Hence, the heavy use of tax shelters is a drag on job creation and the economy in general.

As for Christie not "following up" on Corzine's planned reforms .. think about it. Corzine was governor for what, 4 years. The whole time he had a large dem majority. Why did he not complete his planned reforms? Perhaps he was not serious about it?

In any case, I hope your job is secure.

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StatyPolly:

Pulius, lets work on creative solutions. You want "those with incomes of 1$ million or more to pay to help out" and poster "lat" posted a few days ago that he lives in Joisey and has "seven figure income" (yeah, right) and he supports higher taxes.

Why don't you two exchange email addresses, so he can just fund your retirement plan directly. Cut out the thieving middle man.

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StatyPolly:

BTW, speaking of states' debt problems, this map just came out a couple days ago. Other than CNN conveniently switching color codes, (well, red to indicate negative) it's almost identical to election maps. Pretty compelling picture here.

http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/state_debt/

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lat:

State Polly,

If you are going to say what I said then at least say it accurately. I have always said that I am a very lucky man financially and yes I do make what most would consider to be a large sum of money. I have said consistently that the top income tax rate going from 35 to 39.6 is not going to change my life one bit. I am driven by social issues not by fiscal issues and always have been. You people make tax increases sound like arrmageddon and there not.

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lat:

One more thing I live in NJ and we have the best public schools per capita of any state in the union and we have the highest incomes per capita so I guess all the rich people have not all left yet?

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Bigmike:

How can this race be close. Why, given the demographics alone, this should be a blowout in favor of the Dems. Or so I have been told.

On an idividual basis, taxes increases are not TOO devasting, at least for most people. But for small businesses, and even some large businesses, who have narrow profit margins they can be damaging. In general, business would only pass the increases along to their customers. But not every business has that luxury.

So what do you want, jobs or the redristibution of wealth? You can't have both.

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Publius:

seg and Staty:

I understand that the system is rigged for the wealthy and corporations who pay less tax than I do. Both parties have been complicit in this sham and neither has an incentive to change it quickly. Corzine's plan was in the implementation stage when he was defeated and districts were actually holding hearings on the issue, so it's not like he buried it completely. I suspect that the NJEA told him to go slow because consolidation would cost teachers their jobs.

Thank you for your concern about my job. It is safe and that's worth gold these days, but the argument that all taxes are bad is pure bunk. If you want good schools, like anything, you'll need to pay for them. We do have the best public schools in NJ for a reason, but Christie doesn't see it that way. Nickel and diming people because you don't respect what they do is a recipe for disaster.

One last thought; we could easily get rid of whatever jobs you two do and the country would absorb them relatively easily. If you get rid of my job, then more people will write like Melvin and Stillow. I shudder at that prospect.

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lat:

When you right wing folks bitch and moan about taxes I cannot help, but laugh at how brainwashed you are. Who do think you are kidding with your cries of fairness? I work with some of the wealthiest people in the country, in addition I am the son of a retired CPA who specialized in small and medium sized businesses. You would not believe the stories my father used to share about what bloody murder small businesses get away with and they don't pay anything close to what they should in terms of taxes, in addition my colleagues on Wall St laugh about what a snow job has been pulled on you folks. Do you honestly think these folks pay what they really should be paying? Lol! Do yourselves a favor and stop listening to Steve "I don't mind taxes as long as I don't have to pay any" Forbes (I have met him twice and you could not find a bigger asshole if you tried) and wake up.

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tjampel:

Bigmike:

How can this race be close. Why, given the demographics alone, this should be a blowout in favor of the Dems.

If that were true how did Governator win in the first place in a year that was GOOD one for Dems? Hmmm....by being a moderate, which brings us to...

Whitman is a fresh face and a MODERATE. Brown is not a fresh face and is not seen as a moderate by most

Lastly, Whitman has spent 100 million. You do get some value for your money. Brown hasn't really gone on the air yet. That Brown is still ahead at all at this point is kind of surprising. How many points do you think a saturation campaign like that brings you? I'd say at least 5%. After seeing so many Whitman Ads, however, how many more points does another 100 million get you? Probably a lot less because you reach a point of diminishing returns as voters get tired of seeing your Ads 24/7.

Whitman may be at her peak. Brown may be able to buy a few votes with his upcoming Ads.

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StatyPolly:

See lat, it is posts like these that make me question authenticity of your claims. I've known a few Wall St banker types over the years, and sure, I can buy the scum sucking lowlife stereotype, and see where there maybe a good match in that department, but in addition, no one gets to a seven-figure pay on Wall St without being very bright and high IQ'd. You can't even sleep your way to a seven-figure income Wall St job without being very sharp.

Your solution to punishing high income tax evaders and making them pay their fair share is hiking rates? Ingenious!

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lat:

State Polly,

Define fair share? By the way I don't work with "bankers" I work with actuaries, executives, and sometimes traders. I will be waiting with bated breath for you to explain to me how exactly these people are being "punished"?

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Aaron_in_TX:

"the grand children and great children of wealth creators end up as overwhelmingly liberal democrats who advocate for taxes for good causes?"

You should read some history of the progressive era if you want to gain some insight into this question. The progressives were mostly very well-off people.

I also don't buy the argument of how badly small businesses are hurt by taxes. None that I worked for ever complained about anything but the paperwork as long as the business was doing well. If it started doing not so well, then there were some tax complaints. But the important thing was demand for the business's product/service, not the taxes. Businesses succeed or fail on their own merits, not because of taxes.

The doctors at the eye clinic my fiance works for complain about what health care will "do to them," but all except the youngest one of them live in mansions on the lake. This while they pay their office workers $9 an hour with no apparent prospect for advancement. And they wonder why they have contiunual trouble keeping office staff for more than 1 yr! It's probably because they pay them so little they can't even afford the glasses they sell on such a crappy salary.

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lat:

Aaron in TX,

Shhh! Don't say things like that because State Polly will accuse you of not being authentic. You are absolutely correct in your thinking. The people I deal with on a regular basis don't really care one way or the other about the income tax rate going back to 39.6 as I stated earlier it's not going to effect their lives. Now of course people like Stillow will argue that raising taxes on the waelthy will drive them out of the country to go live in Costa Rica and sip pina coladas all day. Lol!

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StatyPolly:

"The progressives were mostly very well-off people."

Pretty sure that was Seg's point. It's easy for the very wealthy advocate for higher taxes, since they find ways not to pay much themselves.

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StatyPolly:

Publius,

"If you want good schools, like anything, you'll need to pay for them. We do have the best public schools in NJ for a reason, but Christie doesn't see it that way."

I can do a little web research, but my understanding is that there is no correlation between school spending and outcomes. LA Unified (the second largest district in the country) spends 30K per student and produces absolute crap, while there are lots of private schools that do a terrific job for under 10k. Private schools, even the most prestigious, high tuition charging ones, pay teachers a lot less than public schools do.

It's mostly parents' age, wealth and education level that influences pupil outcomes, as is the case in NJ.

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seg:

Publius:
"One last thought; we could easily get rid of whatever jobs you two do and the country would absorb them relatively easily. If you get rid of my job, then more people will write like Melvin and Stillow. I shudder at that prospect."

I am a professor in an engineering school. I like to think that what I do makes a difference, also. If you teach students to write better, you have my enthusiastic support since having to teach graduate students to write theses and dissertations with clarity, specificity, and succintness consumes a great deal of my time.

I don't expect you to have read all of my postings, so I will tell you that I have written at others times that I think teachers are being unfairly blamed for education deficits in our schools. I value good teachers greatly, especially since I have 4 sons who greatly benefitted from the inspiration and discipline they were given. One of those teachers was the AP teacher of the year. I still remember my best teachers all the way back to grade school.

However, though insufficient funding is always bad, I do not think that pouring more money into schools is the answer to their current problems. I think a good bit of the money is misdirected. In fact, some of the worst schools simply squander the high level of resources poured into them. Others have problems imposed on them from above. What I do suggest is this:

(1) everyone needs to have their feet held to the fire of evaluation and competition, including teachers and professors. We all do better work when we know we are being judged.

(2) good teachers should be rewarded for their excellence, which of course should be determined by appropriate and honest evaluations (a huge problem), and bad teachers (and professors) should be weeded out

(3) entropy leads to the progressive decay of everything, including organizations. For governmental organizations, it shows up in the ratio of staff to active producers. In schools, it is the ratio of central office bureaucrats and non-teaching staff within the schools. I suspect that a large part of the rapidly increasing costs of both pre-college and college alike is due to staff bloat. For example, university presidents have "personal" staffs these days that fill buildings.

My personal experience with bloated staffs and organizational bureaucrats is that not only do they waste money, they also make work far less efficient and more frustrating for the actual producers, in this case teachers. Part of the reason is that staff are charged with over-seeing all sorts of details that only the teachers would know. They require the teachers to take the time to inform them so they can do their jobs. Most of those jobs and the reporting that goes with them is due to government busybody reporting requirements. We would do better to jettison them all. Bloated staffs also have mission creep. To justify their existence, they end up second-guessing and finally first-guessing the actual teachers. Since they inevitable make one-size fits all rules, they reduce the ability of teachers to adapt to the problems in front of them. Since over time staff may be hired that either have never taught, taught poorly, or taught only briefly, their directives will increasingly be just plain bad ideas or good ideas applied ignorantly.

(4) The bloated internal staffs are partly due to teachers who do not want to teach, either because they find kids wearing (i.e., they are in the wrong business for them) or because they want to rise above simply teaching. Some are problem teachers who have been "kicked upstairs" because they are problems as teachers but cannot be fired. I have seen the latter happen in otherwise excellent school systems.

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seg:

StatyPolly, Publius:
"It's mostly parents' age, wealth and education level that influences pupil outcomes, as is the case in NJ."

As my advisor in my dr program said to me about building strong academic programs:

"Good students create good schools. Wherever they go to school, they will be successes in their professions when they graduate and will reflect well on the schools they attended. Good students create a good reputation which attracts good faculty which attracts even better students. In short, the key thing is recruiting."

Take the NJ students who do well and switch them with the LA students who don't and you would be surprised how quickly the schools' reputations would reverse. When I was in HS many years ago, big-city schools were considered vastly superior to suburban and rural schools. If you went to almost any NYC school, you would boast about it, but the same thing applied all the way down to small cities.

Forced busing greatly accelerated white flight from city schools to suburbs. City schools were rapidly populated by majorities of students who were black, poor, often poorly parented, and came from a culture where being smart and studious got you jeers of "acting white."

These days, other than "magnet" and other schools created specifically to attract whites, city schools are synonymous with crime and low achievement.

As I have stated with different degrees of passion at different times, nothing we have done has materially helped educational achievement by the underclass, which is overwhelmingly black. The problem is NOT with the schools; it is with the non-school environment and the culture of the underclass. I do not know what approach will work, but we very much need to try radically different ideas. Attacking teachers and schools because their poor black and Latino students do less well than whites and Asians is morbidly stupid.

Likewise, schools whose students fare well generally have not added that much value. Whole states that fare well also deserve little credit for it. The socioeconomic status and culture of the parents is far more predictive of success than the school system, state, funding level, or specific programs afforded to students.

This can be seen by the fact that Asian immigrant children who attended the same city schools as underclass kids are being turned away from Ivy League schools in favor of other races who scored far lower on the SAT and have lower GPAs.

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StatyPolly:

Amen to that, Seg.

Whites made up only 8.4% of LAUSD's population in 08-09, a small portion of city's overall demographic, and I bet those were mostly in elementary schools in wealthier enclaves. Since there is no busing at the elementary level, and a few of those, here and there, are regarded as "bearable".

http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/lausd/offices/bulletins/5_yr_review.html

Based on history of the past 2-3 decades of ethnic demographics in the city, I have to assume that probably more than half of all students in the district are either illegal or US born children of illegals.

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seg:

Aaron_in_TX:
"The progressives were mostly very well-off people."

Exactly. I also bet that none of their reforms cost them a dime, personally.

"I also don't buy the argument of how badly small businesses are hurt by taxes."

I agree that raising the marginal tax rate from 35% to 39% is not that big a deal. We did quite well in the 90s with the higher rate.

If that were all that is happening, I would be able to agree with you in general. I don't have time to track down the laundry list of new taxes and reduced deductions upper income brackets are facing, but I believe an effective 50+% rate is a reasonable estimate when all are put together.

That makes a very large difference to businesses of all sizes, but especially to small businesses. I know a bit about this since I do consulting and market software I have written. That income does not put me above $250k/yr, but I do not believe for one minute that definition of "rich" will last past 3 November 2010. Furthermore, assessments for SS, Obamicare, and many others will affect me. Application of the alternate minimum tax will kill us. I also know this much: because of Obamicare, I will never even consider hiring an employee now.

Many states are also putting in their version of millionaire taxes.

As I have posted before, I do not look forward to the return of tax shelters, which is where rich peoples' money goes to escape taxes. I suspect that any revenue gains will be very short-lived as Congress and the rich work together to perfect the protection of rich people's money, with a suitable tip going to Congressmen and women, of course.

I have never understood why liberals lust so much for higher taxes on those with high annual incomes when the real money is with great estates and trust funds. Perhaps it is because so many of their political heroes comes from those two groups.

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lat:

Seg,

I have been in the highest tax bracket for well over a decade and I can tell you that with the contacts I have I can easily put money in offshore accounts, partnerships, etc. I have never actually done it and not because I am a good guy, but because there are people that I know that have gone to jail or have almost gone to jail doing such things. I make a salary plus bonus which gets fully taxed, in addition to deferred comp which I will eventually get taxed on. My father is always trying to give me "tips" on how to take advantage of certain loopholes and once in a while I might dabble, but that is as far as it goes for me. I have friends that deduct boats, yachts, etc. for "business" reasons (yeah right), in addition to setting up different real estate "partnerships" for more "business" reasons. My point with all this is that it's not working or middle class people that do such things or would even think to do so.

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lat:

State Polly,

I am still waiting for how rich people are "punished"?

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Publius:

seg:

My apologies. I should have asked what you did before I posted. I believe that educators do the most important paid jobs in this country and I applaud your choice of profession.

I agree with your analysis of why schools succeed. It was stated very succinctly in the Coleman Report and it is still true now. So why would you punish effective schools because those in Newark are doing poorly? Why do we need a revision of every system because the urban areas are not doing as well as the suburbs?

Why also fixate on gutting the public system in favor of charters, private schools and vouchers? Why not let every student in the state select the public (and only public) school that they want to attend? It would be a difficult transition for the reasons you mention. There would be a shock to the culture of every school that would need to absorb and educate those students who come from areas where education is undervalued. Effective schools have effective teachers, and as I'm sure you know, great teachers are what make great schools.

And by the way, I am evaluated twice every year by my supervisor. I think the system might be improved if teachers were observed once every month. From all of the rhetoric and misinformation, you'd think that teachers were never evaluated. We are, but we need more effective administrators to take their responsibilities more seriously.

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seg:

lat:
"it's not working or middle class people that do such things or would even think to do so."

Absolutely! For now. But watch what happens in the next few years when the definition of rich drops to $100k and then lower. You and I both will be looking for every way we can to reduce our tax loads.

And my other point is that small business and professionals cannot take the same advantage as the very rich because loopholes are created that only they can afford to take advantage (luck coincidence, you think?).

So, the folks who make less than, say, $350k will get hammered and those who make far, far more will pay much less than they are now because that is what happens when you "make" more money by sheltering income than investing it wisely.

Since many small businesses are like me and simply count business income as personal income, they will either have to become more sophisticated in avoiding taxes or pay dearly. I am a fervent believer in small businesses.

My point to liberals is that you think you are taking back from the rich. You are not; you are taking back from the highly affluent and small businesses.

The distribution of wealth obeys the power laws (indeed, Pareto developed them to describe wealth distribution in the 1900s). Therefore, the amount of absolute wealth increases with income. That is, the top 1% hold far more of the nation's wealth than the 95%-99%. Therefore, all of these "soak the wealthy" schemes miss the real money and only produce distortions in investments. This is true because the wealthiest in every society escape high taxes.

If you think Communist countries or socialist countries avoided that, you would be very wrong. The communist party member effectively owned 98% of the wealth in the USSR. The "nomenclatura" in all communist countries had low nominal salaries but received the best the USSR could import or make for free and shopped in stores set aside only for them. Note that Kim Il Sung lives in multiple palaces, as do the communist/military leaders of Burma.

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seg:

Publius:
"My apologies. I should have asked what you did before I posted. I believe that educators do the most important paid jobs in this country and I applaud your choice of profession."

My father worked in a cotton mill when I was growing up; it was very tough at times. I used to sit on my bicycle before the mill and think there was no way I could escape it.

Somewhat out of the blue, a highly affluent lady offered to pay my lost after-school wages (my family needed my pay) and the cost of the NMQT if I would take it. I was awestruck by her generosity, but of course I refused her money and paid the costs myself. She galvanized me to save myself and has inspired me ever since to find ways to help others.

I have put a great deal of thought into the latter over decades. I have done the soup-kitchen thing but that is not where my heart is. My conclusion has always been that inspiration is vastly more important than material help, I suppose because that was what worked for me.

I also believe JFK was right about a "rising tide lifts all boats." A growing economy with jobs will do more poor people than any amount of welfare and government programs for the poor. In addition, dependency destroys pride and initiative, while gainful employment develops a rightful sense of self worth.

This is where my deep concerns about the long term consequences of government micromanagement in our economy come from. Poor allocation of resources and inefficient commerce and mfg always hurts the poor and working poor the most. An efficient manager is more valuable than 20 HR people. A poor manager can do incalcuble damage. I am sorry to say that I think the current administration are very poor managers. The problem of personal ineptitude is no worse than other administrations. The big problem is a highly limited understanding of industry and business. It is the fallacy that being bright is enough.

When I did (and do) engineering consultation, I am certain that my advice will make the company more profitable and working conditions better. Those are equally important to the well-being of those who work there. An unprofitable company sheds jobs and it takes shortcuts that affect future growth and worker safety.

Although I keep my hand in consultation (besides money it provides an ego boost), I am now in the inspiration business. I find tremendous satisfaction in helping to mold and teach engineers (and others) while continuing research that helps improve work conditions. I have a knack for solving engineering problems that could make a lot more money, but we have enough material things and we can put our kids through even expensive colleges. I was happy when I had little, so I know I really can do without most of what I have now.

Of course, every profession has its share of careerists, but I find that most of the faculty I work with do what they do because want to help students develop and because they believe our product helps the whole country.

My experience with school teachers has been very similar. I don't know your specific role. If you are an administrator, I hope you share my belief that lean operations are more likely to be good for everyone involved than those with grossly wasted resources and misdirected efforts. I also understand that you must work with the system as it is. Just never lose the sense of what it ought to be.

____________________

lat:

Seg,

The so called "tax the rich" nonsense is just that. We have a progessive tax system that has for the most part been in place for almost 100 years. I have been very careful up to this point not to disclose what I actually earn, but I am going to do so to make a serious point, in addition only my wife and boss (who also happens to be my best friend) know I post on here and "lat" has nothing to do with my real name or anything I am associated with. I made well over 5 million dollars last year and will do so again this year. Do you honestly think that the tax rate going to 39.6 is going to change my life? Stillow loves to call me a park ave liberal, but that is of course very shallow. I do believe that people who earn more should pay more (within reason)and yes you make a very good point that trust instruments are an unbelievable tax dodge and are abused beyond belief. The other garbage I hear all the time is that rich folks will leave the country and go to a desert island somewhere once they have to pay more taxes (that's probably my favorite of all the great myths). I don't see Palm Beach, FL Greenwich, CT, or Beverly Hills, CA emptying out anytime soon.

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Publius:

seg:

No, I am a teacher and always will be. I did an internship for my MEd. in administration and disliked it after 5 minutes. There is waste at the top that we should eliminate, but if you get one great principal, he or she can make all the difference in the world.

I don't see the current actions as micromanagement. We've seen what the free market can do and it's more destructive, in my view, than government involvement. In light of the economy today, it makes no sense to continue to deregulate. Not everyone has the resources that you and I do, not do we have a benefactor to come along at the right time in our lives.

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StatyPolly:

You made well over 5 mil, lat? What's well over? Was it 5.2? 5.4? Closer to 6 perhaps? Don't get modest on us now.

So you believe the anti tax hike crowd's argument is that economy will suffer because the rich will leave the country, and since you think that tax rate going from 35% go 39.6 will not make the rich leave the country, economy will not suffer from such a hike. Is that what your 5 mil a year peers at work also believe? They must, since you're around them all day, every day.

Man, oh man, sometimes I envy people who are capable of enjoying a life of such a rich fantasy. My poor brain was just design to focus on more realistic scenarios, like the probability of Melvin winning a Pulitzer.

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lat:

State Polly,

The answer is yes I am around people like this all day and for the most part they laugh at the nonsense that gets circulated about this stuff. I can assure you that nobody making a lot of money is going anywhere. Btw State Polly in case you forgot Obama won the top income earners (people making over 250k) and never kept it a secret that he would let the Bush tax cuts expire for the upper income brackets so for most of us that actually pay attention to what is being said this comes as no surprise. I know you may have trouble grasping such a concept, but it does not make it any less true.

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StatyPolly:

lat,

Thanks for answering, but that was not what I asked.

If you care to take another crack at it, my question was:

Do your peers at work believe, as you do, that tax hike opponents' argument is that tax hike would cause wealthy people to leave the country?

What you told me was what you and your peers believe about the actual effect of the tax hike, not what your peers think the anti-tax hike argument is.

By the way, I am curious about your path to success. If you care to share. Did you begin by getting a good education? Top 10-20 university? Post-grad? What areas of study? Finance? Whatever broad strokes you can disclose, while still maintaining your privacy.

____________________

lat:

I went to Rutgers undergrad (was perfectly ok with going to a state school I have never bought the ivy league superiority, but that certainly is a matter of opinion). I took 2 years off during after my junior year to serve in the military and then finished up and got my MBA from NYU. I did a brief stint at UVA, but hated it (although I met my wife there so at least one good thing came out of it). My areas of study were primarily business admin and finance. I have pretty much worked on wall st for my entire career always on the insurance and pensions side. I started as a sales rep traveling all over the country and in Europe (which is where I met my current boss) and gradually worked my way up with different companies. I now run an entire division for a major reinsurance conglomerate and our main clients are investment banks and specialized areas of insurance carriers. Nothing real sexy here, just a lot of hard work and a lot of luck.

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seg:

Lat:
My prediction: based on your statements this time and in the past, one year from today you will be taking every legal and nearly legal tax avoidance measure you can. By then you will have discovered that your new marginal rate is not 39% but much closer to 50% when ALL of the changes on the tracks now are in effect, including upper limits on deductions, etc.

Publius:
"We've seen what the free market can do and it's more destructive, in my view, than government involvement."

No one is discussing ending government "involvement," so that is a meaningless dichotomy. Or are you saying that nothing government can do can be worse than the destruction you have seen in the last 2 years?

If the latter, check out Britain just before Thatcher took over. That, of course, pales in comparison to what is happening today in Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Russia, Venezuela, etc.

If you mean only the US government with Obama in power, are you not concerned about our rapidly growing deficits and failure to address several severe structural problems? Bernanke has said repeatedly that we are on an "unsustainable course," as has the CBO.

The surest way historically to ruin your country financially has been to grow a very large deficit and then socialize private debts when things head south, as they must. We have done that and we are continuing to double-down on that strategy.

That would be the government taking a bad situation and escalating it to dismal levels. Happens all the time; why not us?

"In light of the economy today, it makes no sense to continue to deregulate."
The issue is not DE-regulation, it is massive NEW regulations, mostly of things that had nothing to do with our fiscal problems. In fact, it ignores the single worst sector, which is Salle Mae and Freddy Mac.

The recent financial reform is a sham, in my opinion. It is business largely as before. It includes a sham Volcker rule, which Lat can tell you is the single most important thing they could have put back into place (put in place in Reagan's time, by the way). It will be implemented some day several years from now to a degree under certain circumstances if the regulators agree that it is safe to do it.

Much of the new regulations are by subterfuge using re-interpretation of long-standing regulations. Cases in point are the forced cessation of offshore oil drilling, failing to issue permits for surface coal mining, etc.

The rich irony is that heavily regulated countries have also suffered fiscal crises in the past 20-30 years (Sweden, Canada, Germany, Russia, Iceland, Eastern Europe etc.). The standard prescription after previous fiascos has been to reduce deficits, loosen excessive regulation of non-financial aspects of the economy, etc.

Canada, as far as I can tell did not escape our recent fiasco due to generally tigher regulations. They escaped for two major reasons: (1) their deficits have been small, and (2) they did not create their own sub-prime debacle as we did by loosing lending standards for those who could not afford to buy the property to start with. Canada also does not allow you to escape underwater mortgages by simply declaring bankruptcy. Only in the US can you walk away from your loan with only the equity in the house as your only cost.

"Not everyone ... have a benefactor to come along at the right time in our lives."

In my case, I did not accept the bene. I did it entirely on my own. What I did accept was her belief in me. Her belief in me was due to my scores on standardized tests given to me at that time and my high grades at the time. Nevertheless, it was crucial to my future that there were MERIT scholarships at the time, much more so than today.

This brings up an irony that I am sure you can appreciate: the demonization and discrediting of SAT and other standardized testing. This is happening because blacks (and to a much lesser degree, Latinos) on average score 150 pts lower than whites and Asians out of 1600. Those low scores, if accepted at face value and used without racial quotas, would nearly eliminate acceptance of blacks into prestige colleges. Worse, they tend to support unacceptable stereotypes. The LSAT and MCAP have similar issues but are largely ignored since the most affluent/educated don't worry much about UG admissions but do sweat professional school admissions. Furthermore, law and med school admissions committees generally have near carte blanche and simply admit the highest scoring blacks.

The irony is that the original purpose of the SATs and the most benign use of IQ testing, was to discover "promising" children from poor families and track them based on their true abilities (as measured by the tests). When such testing began, the vast majority of highly intelligent people in the country were working class and the average IQ of the working class was marginally lower than college graduates.

Now the gap is very high (I don't recall the figure) both because of ability testing and because of mass college attendance. The percentage of kids accepted into college who score above 450s in math and verbal now approaches 100%.

The ugly truth is that the problem today is not undiscovered ability (with increasingly rare exceptions), it is the stubbornly and awesomely poor average academic achievement AND low standardized test scores for inner city black kids, followed by somewhat better but still poor scores of Latinos followed by whites in Appalachia.

No, the need for benefactors today is not in recognizing ability, it is in providing role models for kids whose parents are awesomely terrible role models, leaving them to the influence of awesomely poor peer models.

Recognition of that is why movies showing white people adopting (formally or informally) black kids are considered so heart-warming by whites. First, it reduces their anxieties about the black underclass ("see, all they needed was some love and they now act like white people!"). Second, the movies don't end up calling for whites to throw massive amounts of additional money down the drain. It is also part of the rationale for getting graduates of elite white schools to teach in the inner cities: it is hoped that their superior white virtues will be contagious and that their vast intelligence will find ways to make black kids become like whites (while genuflecting to black authenticity, of course), unlike the jaded, defeated teachers who will be there long after their year of doing good is done. When their term is safely over, they can proceed to manipulate the stock market and make a bundle without guilt.

Perhaps that is what Lat is doing: talking liberal trash to awful conservatives while making huge money just like those bad, bad Masters of the Universe, which he clearly is not since he talks liberal trash and says he would not mind paying losts of taxes.

George Soros made his wealth manipulating currencies to the detriment of everyone else and now spends a small portion of it funding democrat and far left groups in the U.S. I bet Mr. Soros will not avoid the taxes on the wealthy. You think?

What is it about the left and fantastically rich people?

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lat:

Seg,

I will say this again. I voted for Obama knowing full well that he was going to let the Bush tax cuts expire for people in my income bracket as did the majority of people in the highest income bracket that did the same. Why this is such a surprise is a mystery to me? Obama was perfectly open that this was his intention from day one.

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lat:

Seg,

I will say this again. I voted for Obama knowing full well that he was going to let the Bush tax cuts expire for people in my income bracket as did the majority of people in the highest income bracket that did the same. Why this is such a surprise is a mystery to me? Obama was perfectly open that this was his intention from day one.

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StatyPolly:

Alright, lat, I'm gonna have to run with on what you say. Although I've never met any sort of an MBA with such myopic understanding of rudimentary economics, let alone a seven figure earning Wall St banker. But who knows, perhaps you just fell thru the cracks, and skated thru on your winning personality and inane charm alone. Who knows? BTW, you did claim to work for a large bank on this site some time ago. Today it's a reinsurance conglomerate, but that's okay, it's all about the same to me.

The 4.6% tax hike is not a matter of you changing your life style. On your earnings of 5 mil (I'll let go of the "well over" part to simplify the math), that's an additional $230,000 going from private to public hands. Even the leftist economists, like the freshly fired WH Economic Adviser, Romer, claim that tax hikes are contractionary. The question is "who is gonna create more jobs with this 230,000, you or the feds?". Perhaps you use stacks of 20's to heat your house in the winter, but most people invest their excess income in productive endeavors. Feds, as a rule, do not. You can read what the freshly fired WH Economic Adviser, Romer, had to say on the subject if you google her name combined with the word "multiplier". Although, she flipped-flopped with the prevailing winds.

I do not believe that 4.6% hike will cause mass exodus of the wealthy from the US of A. It will cause increase in tax dodging efforts though, as Seg already pointed out. My guess is that 4.6% is simply not enough to flee the country altogether. Attempting to "flee" the wealth itself, sure. But, the wealthy fleeing high taxation is certainty not unprecedented.

I recently read something about some British celebs moving their domiciles to France, which just cut taxes in order to attract investment.

Here is a blurb on that:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/tax/article7060766.ece

"France has emerged as the latest destination for wealthy individuals fleeing Britain to escape the 50% top rate of income tax due to take effect next month. The country, traditionally seen as highly-taxed, has introduced several measures recently to encourage entrepreneurs to settle there."

Here is a little something about lat's very own beloved Joisey:

http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2010/02/nj_loses_70b_in_wealth_over_fo.html

"The exodus of wealth, then, local experts and economists concluded, was a reaction to a series of changes in the state’s tax structure — including increases in the income, sales, property and “millionaire” taxes. "

Both pieces are well worth the read. Especially for you, lat. Maybe you can dazzle your bosses and co-workers at the bank with your newly acquired expertise. Could catapult you way over into eight figures.

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StatyPolly:

Seg, I recall during the 2001 national tax cuts debate, the left originally argued that tax cuts were wrong to start with, and later, that the cuts that passed were about twice as large as they should have been.

I remember discussing this with some of my "better to do" liberal friends. I said since country is divided about 50/50 between libs and cons, and you libs do not want any cuts, or at least think its twice as large as it needs to be, why don't the libs just continue paying taxes at the old rates. IRS is more than willing to take voluntary contributions over and above statutory requirements.

That always shut the debate up right there and then.

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lat:

State Polly,

I claimed to work for a large bank or I said that one of my biggest client's is a large bank (I am loosely using the word client here because that's a bit oversimplified). Anyway I have a rather strong understanding of economics although there are those out there with a far better understanding of it than me (including some on this board). I simply don't agree with you period. I'll say it again for the last time Obama never hid the fact that he was going to raise taxes on upper income people and he won upper income voters so either the majority of upper income voters must all be really stupid or maybe because they are better educated, etc. someone like Sarah Palin may have just turned their stomachs. You are never going to convince me that paying more or less taxes on a marginal basis for most is the be all end all to job creation, economic growth, etc.

____________________

lat:

Seg,

The Wall St bill was a good start in my view, but did not go anywhere near far enough. You would be sick to your stomach if you sat in on some of the meetings I did during this crisis. When we had to explain to some of the re-insurers why all of this leveraged paper was going belly up... you get the point (I cannot really say much more than this due to the sensitivity of some of these discussions). I will give you one example that is sort of public knowledge. When Merrill was almost at the brink they were actually instructing their traders to push as much of the bad mortgage paper as possible because at the time John Thain knew that a government backstop was more than likely (I don't think he knew at the time it was going to be Bank of America that was going to be the government's puppet to prop them up). The reason I know this is because we tried to get backing for them from one of the re-insurers who smartly told Merrill to go stick it (not that it did any good Merrill still sold off more of that paper). So when all the right wing nuts on here try to tell me that it was the government's fault that all this happened I just have to laugh.

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Publius:

seg:

To my knowledge, large government regulation in the economy has never led to a depression or recession in the US. That was my point.

Standardized testing has its place in education, but many reformers, including Duncan and Obama, want it to be used as a benchmark for assessing teacher effectiveness. It can be part of the equation, but no more that 15-20% of any formula.

Your discussion of movies involving whites adopting African-American children is silly. Try not to use pop psychology here. The other problem you identify, that of low scores and grades among African-Americans and Latinos, is significant and can be ameliorated by effective teachers and communities that support education. Your point about money is well-taken, but having been in education for 25 years, it's an academic argument that does not reflect reality in the schools. If you have money to spend on materials, decent salaries for teachers, and extracurricular offerings that enrich students, that will make your school a better place than one without such resources. Is there waste? You bet, and I'm all for streamlining costs. Others have their own agendas.

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Aaron_in_TX:

"the demonization and discrediting of SAT and other standardized testing. This is happening because blacks (and to a much lesser degree, Latinos) on average score 150 pts lower than whites and Asians out of 1600. Those low scores, if accepted at face value and used without racial quotas, would nearly eliminate acceptance of blacks into prestige colleges. "

Seg,

You might be interested in a new book entitled "Higher Education?" by Hacker and Dreifus that makes arguments you would probably agree with. I found myself agreeing with a good amount of what they said. They make some of the anti-bureaucracy and anti-tenure arguments I've seen you make.

Although I don't know what you're talking about when you say Asians are discriminated against at top-tier universities in favor of blacks/hispanics. At UT-Austin and Rice, Asian-Americans make up close to 20% of the student population. Maybe those are not prestigious enough for your list.

"It is also part of the rationale for getting graduates of elite white schools to teach in the inner cities:"

TX put out a study lately that got the conservatives on local talk radio all riled up that said basically black and hispanic students in K-12 learn more effectively with teachers who are black/hispanic. It recommended more minority teachers be hired, since they make up 40% or so of the teachers, yet the students statewide will be 62% minority in 2010-11.

I could have saved them the money and told them that myself, although my response was that they won't start filling out teacher positions if minorities don't start doing better in the schools in order to get there, which is what I expect causes the discrepancy.

But in general, white upper middle class people like you describe would probably make the worst possible teachers in inner cities because they would have no credibility whatsoever with the students. It's harder for a white middle class person to relate and project the authenticity that will make those students listen. When I taught at an east Austin school that was about 1/2 black/ 1/2 hispanic, it was amazing the level of respect those teachers and principals had that were "one of them." A white person from the suburbs simply can't relate to what those kids go through. I was able to do better than some of my white colleagues because I came from a poorer hispanic area and can speak spanish the way they're used to hearing it, but it still took longer than it did for products of that community itself.

So I don't know what you're talking about here:

"it is hoped that their superior white virtues will be contagious and that their vast intelligence will find ways to make black kids become like whites"

They're not looking for condescension at these schools.

Also, the I don't see the point about SAT scores. Frankly, I think those are a very poor indicator of student success.

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Aaron_in_TX:

"but most people invest their excess income in productive endeavors."

Do they? Or do they use it to make more money? If a rising tide lifts all boats, then why are CEO salaries 400X their average worker salaries, when in 1970 it used to be something like 70-80X? All this while the median salary in the U.S. has barely kept pace with inflation. IMO, most people are worse off than in 1970 because they have a higher debt to income ratio than ever before, despite the accoutrements of "success" like iphones, cars with bluetooth and Electronic Stability Control, more square footage in their houses etc...

But I digress... wealthy people have gotten wealthier while average people are no better off than before, which leads me to doubt they put their extra income from tax cuts to "productive uses."

We already have one of the lowest personal income tax burdens, if not THE lowest, in the industrialized world, so I don't know how low you want our top marginal rate to go. What would make you happy? 25%? 15%?

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StatyPolly:

lat, you did post that you "happen to run an insurance division for a major wall st bank" on on April 16, 2010 3:05 AM.

/blogs/fl_2010_sen_quinnipiac_4813.html

But like I said earlier, major bank, coinsurance conglomerate - doesn't matter, it's all about the same to me.

"I'll say it again for the last time Obama never hid the fact that he was going to raise taxes on upper income people and he won upper income voters"

You keep valiantly burning the crap out of that strawman, time after time, but who on this site, or elsewhere, argued that BObama tricked the upper income voters into voting for him by lying about his intentions? Point them out, and I'll slap them around for you.

As it was already pointed out to you numerously, the upper income people either evade, as you yourself claim, or don't care about the additional 4.6%, as you yourself also claim. "Since it won't change their lives". Not to mention a substantial group of upper income voters who either hoped to, or have already benefited financially from BOBO's election. But that's another post.

So let's see. What's 4.6%? It's a 13% increase from what that top 3-5% of high earners are paying now. Top 5% of earners pay 60% of all federal taxes paid. Top 1% pays 40%, for reference. So that 13% hike is a pretty good chunk of the economy. It looks like it could be around 5-7% of total tax collections or so.

Wunderboy Geithner said just last week that this money would end up going "to help out the states". THAT IS INSANE. That is the last place that federal taxpayer's money should go. First of all, why should the taxpayers in responsible states subsidize the free spenders. So they can meet their six figure pensions obligations? INSANE! They need to be allowed to fail. The overwhelming majority of the high income earners are small business owners, and they did not become successful by not being highly entrepreneurial. Who will put the money to better use? The most entrepreneurial folks we have in the country or the thumb-twiddling bureaucrats?

Wunderboy's former boss, the maestro, also had something to say just last week:

"as I've always believed, we underestimate the impact of stock prices on economic activity. Asset prices are having a profoundly important affect. What created the extent of the contraction globally was the loss of $37 trillion in market value. It collapsed the value of collateral in the system, and it disabled finance... I don't know where the stock market is going, but I will say this, that if it continues higher, this will do more to stimulate the economy than anything we've been talking about today, or anything anybody else is talking about."

I can get into the whys and hows, but even the non-entrepreneurial high earners, like lat claims to be, by simply investing that extra $230,000 in stocks, do a great deal more towards job creation and GDP growth than anything else, but especially throwing money away into government bureaucracies.

I know libs love to knock the maestro for his admission of one-time misundercalculation, but he's done a phenomenal job of keeping global economy steady for two decades - an unprecedented feat. Who are you gonna believe - the rabid party apparatchik, or the bias unencumbered maestro? Geithner is a lying sack of $#it weasel, he does not believe his own crap.

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StatyPolly:

Bears emphasizing:

"I don't know where the stock market is going, but I will say this, that if it continues higher, this will do more to stimulate the economy than anything we've been talking about today, or anything anybody else is talking about."

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StatyPolly:

"accoutrements", Aaron? Wow, I had to look that one up. Yeah, people did get carried away and got overleveraged, but that happened in just past few years, and was a function of overly easy credit. Who and why was responsible is a separate subject, but let us not knock those accoutrements. The internet? How much time do people who post here spend on the internet. Few of us are forced to do so. We like it. I never responded to your post about your inability to afford your mother's house today, but I was gonna say that if matched your parents' lifestyle of 30 years ago, you probably could afford it. You know, no iphone, no internet, no Starbucks (you did mention your proclivity for lattes once) etc.. Additionally, you chose a rewarding yet lowpaying occupation. You knew what you were doing. There are always trade offs. Look at lat. He supposedly makes a lot of money, but he is always in a pissed off mood. Do you wanna go thru life like that? I can tell from your writing and reasoning, you could have easily become a successful lawyer, for example, and earned multiples of what you will in academia. Obviously, still not too late, btw. But I too would rather be a middle class college professor than a high-earning lawyer. Higher quality of life, IMO.

Your points on CEO's excesses are good. Ultimately, it is a private matter between directors and stockholders, but there is a movement to address further stockholder protections underway. As far as I know.

So when you say "IMO, most people are worse off than in 1970", I say only in comparison to the wealthiest. Yes, the gap increased, the rich got way way way richer, but the middle class and the low income got just way way richer. We have upward mobility like no one else in the world. That's indisputable. In any significant numbers, and prior to the serious recession, the low income are either immigrants or young people that are just starting out. I am using this stat from some official source. The middle class accumulates wealth as they age. Concentration of wealth in small number of hands historically has not been a good thing, but letting government be the redistributor, historically has been an even more clearly awful thing. Crystal clear. The poor and the middle class always suffer the most. What's the solution? It's getting late. I am gonna have to think of it tomorrow.

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lat:

State Polly,

You actually have the time to keep people's posts for months at a time? Wow! I probably said that for the sake of ease (I am usually posting from my bb) or because I may not have been comfortable yet disclosing more detail at that point. Truthfully I just don't remember, but it's scary that you do.

I am curious what do you do for a living at what's your background?

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StatyPolly:

I don't keep all people's posts, lat. Just yours. And I do buy your sake of ease/privacy explanation. For real. No sarcasm. I said its no biggie, it's about the same thing to me.

My background is also in finance, and I do investigations type work.

Kidding about keeping your posts. Just put "lat bank" into pollster.com trusty little search box near the top of the page, and that post I linked is the very first result.

____________________

StatyPolly:

BTW, lat, now that you described your insurance background, I am buying your story. I can see where you could be a high producing insurance salesman. And even high producing dept manager. It's realistic. You don't need an analytical mindset, and it's actually probably a hindrance.

____________________

lat:

Well, take heed of the post I did for Seg. It's one of many stories I could share (the one about Merrill) only this one happens to be particularly egregious and semi-public. Which is why when people say Wall st was the "innocent bystander" thorughout all this my temptation to throw up is high.

____________________

seg:

Publius and Lat,
Thank you for your responses, if you are still reading this old post.

In any case, I feel that you both keep trying to squeeze what I say into things I am not saying but that you expect me to say or mean. Perhaps we all do that.

For example, I have never said we should have LESS regulation, in general, and I have never said that 35% or 39% is too high. It is particularly frustrating when you continue arguing against a strawman figure.

My ideal for regulation would continuous re-evaluation of all regulations in terms of the bottom line goals and unintended consequences. it should be done by people who are willing to be critical. Most importantly, unclear regulations should be either stricken or re-written.

You have also not addressed my statements that it is likely that rates well above 39% (e.g., 50%, which is what the effective rate will soon be) will produce distortions and LOWER revenues because of tax avoidance.

My belief is that there are optimum levels of tax rates. Those levels are hard to discern but should be under continuous discussion and re-evaluation. The goal should be reasonable revenue with minimal distortions in resource allocations and patent unfairness.

As someone who deals with regulations and sometimes advises regulators, I am keenly aware of the deficiencies and inequities of regulatory systems. I am especially concerned about regulations that cost money and effort while accomplishing little or nothing, which is common. Enforcement issues often induce regulation writers to tailor regulations to make them easy to enforce. That convenience almost always carries a price in obtaining desired ends (e.g., that which is easy to measure is not always strongly indicative of desirable performance) and wasting money. Regulators rarely have feedback systems to let them know how much good they are doing. It is not even an issue unless a politician or critic brings it up.

Likewise, regulatory inertia is extraordinarily strong. Many things are done because they are done with no regard to whether they still make sense or not. Since methods and even regulations are generally written based on technologies at the time, innovations gradually make them obsolete or inapt.

What you are hearing, of course, is an engineer's system's view. We need it.

Publius: I think we mostly agree with each other on school issues. I would be very happy to see good teachers like you (and I do believe you are probably a good teacher) get high merit pay raises, especially if (1) it is part of a package where a small but not trivial minority of teachers and principals are fired, and (2)the additional funds come from reducing all other costs (i.e., staff and administration).

Teacher and school evaluations based on student performance should be done only when the baseline is the expected performance for those students based on race, socio-economic background, etc. It would be very easy to game such a system to make a teacher or school look good or bad, so if it cannot be done carefully, it should not be done at all.

It is especially difficult when applied to individual teachers. One of my sisters teaches "problem" kids. She is a saint. She would uniformly receive poor evaluations based on student tests if based on outcomes expected for non-problem kids. Likewise, the order of teachers would have large effects. Like being the coach right after a hyper successful coach, you are screwed if the previous feeder school was really effective or the teacher for the class the year before was really effective. Lucky you if the previous school or teacher sucked, if you are graded on year to year improvement.

Personally, I would require principals to evaluate teachers individually based on every source of information he or she can get. If I were him, I would ask each student and parent to write a narrative discussing their teachers. I would look for the BASIS of their opinions.

Fair or unfair, his score would carry the day. On the other hand, he would be evaluated every few years on the difference between incoming and outgoing students. Unless he is a fool, he will reward good teachers and fire the bad ones. It is the simple principle of command and control. Millenia of experience supports it.

As much as teachers dread unfair evaluations by bosses, it is a better system than using "objective" tests for evaluations.

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Aaron_in_TX:

"You know, no iphone, no internet, no Starbucks (you did mention your proclivity for lattes once) etc.. "

Yeah, I spend some at coffee shops...But I also don't have internet at my apt; I use the complimentary wireless at those types of places and at my institutions, so it evens out.

I actually consider a cel-phone a burden, but one that's almost necessary. People don't tolerate not being able to get in contact with you quickly, so landline-only is really not a viable option, especially given my schedule, since I keep odd hours due to my combination of jobs. It would be a lot better, though, since any smartphone service runs about $100 a month, and vonage, etc... landline service would be around half that.

Ie: I applied for a job with a particular bank a while back. After you applied for a position, they send the qualified candidates an e-mail to schedule an interview. I didn't respond to the email until about 30 hours after it was sent since I was busy and didn't get to a computer for one day. I called the number in the email the day after and they told me all the appointments had been filled. I should have responded within a few hours. A couple episodes somewhat similar to that convinced me to get a blackberry.

We think we're paying less because the long-distance, roaming, etc... is "included" but it's actually quite expensive. I've just eliminated the landline and put internet & texting on my phone - so the general category of "communications" is probably proportionally equal to what my parents' Ma Bell bill was. Now the difference is people expect me to respond to texts, emails, etc... They are not patient enough to wait the next business day after I get messages in the evening. My dept chair freaking texts me important info so it's not like I can just drop it, much as I'd like to.

"I never responded to your post about your inability to afford your mother's house today, but I was gonna say that if matched your parents' lifestyle of 30 years ago, you probably could afford it."

Haha no chance. My mom's actual old house she owned in the 1970s would probably go for $90-120K now, based on what realtor.com showed for that neighborhood. And it's somewhat run down now. I'd never get approved for even that much. A house in an equivalent neighborhood today would be around $180-$220 (and this is in TX where housing is cheap). I might be able to get approved for a manufactured home for $50K.

Why not? Because I have a student debt load equivalent to a car payment. Until I pare that down, there is no chance in hell I get approved for a mortgage. I could cut out every latte and eat Ramen every day and I wouldn't be able to pay it off much faster, maybe 9 years instead of 10. In the meantime my heart would be so clogged with cholesterol that my health care bill would skyrocket.

That's what older people, especially conservatives NEVER UNDERSTAND (or they don't acknowledge). Generations prior never had to START OUT IN DEBT.

I won't even go into health insurance, which I have to pay for on my own because I'm not full-time at any one job. Not that it matters since I've NEVER had ANY job (other than the military) provide health insurance. One said you get it after you've worked there for a year, and others took out so much it was better to decline it and go private.

Health care and education. That's the difference. Not internet or designer-look alike clothes from The Gap. I feel no richer because of those things. In fact they probably make me poorer. The reason the Gap clothes are so cheap is because American's don't make them.


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Aaron_in_TX:

"The middle class accumulates wealth as they age."

This was true for the pre 2000's middle class. Now you've got a bunch of young middle class people who live with their parents because they can't make it on their own (this was going on before the recession, since I remember articles talking about it in 2006-07). A bunch of my hs and college friends are now doing it.

Make no mistake, without the student loan payments I would be doing quite well, probably be married and have a house now. But with that monkey on my back, I struggle to maintain living on my own.

"Look at lat. He supposedly makes a lot of money, but he is always in a pissed off mood. Do you wanna go thru life like that? "

LOL, I get pissed off when I think about the things that piss me off, like this and the above post. Although it seems he is more or less satisfied with his life, just doesn't like the people he works with.

"you could have easily become a successful lawyer, for example, and earned multiples of what you will in academia. Obviously, still not too late, btw."

LOL, I've thought about that, but I really don't want more student loans. Like you said, there are tradeoffs. It's worth a lot to me to spend my time NOT hating life. Although I've heard law school grads are not exactly getting snapped up instantaneously. If I wanted to work a job I'm not interested in, the most bang for the buck would probably be a 2-year registered nurse program.

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