Taking from the rich

My usual Monday bus driving ended on a high note.   I heard that rich people were going to be as poor as the rest of us.  Or nearly.

As I swung onto Sulphur Mountain Road I listened to an interview conducted by Warren Olney, host of NPR’s To The Point.  I love Warren Olney.  He gets the best from his guests without inserting his own opinions.  Much different than David Gregory, Tim Russert’s replacement on Meet the Press.  David doesn’t need guests.  He knows the answers to the questions before he asks them. Oh how I miss Tim.

But I digress.  Warren’s show focused on Obama’s proposed tax adjustments that would steal from the rich to give to the poor.  Visions of Errol Flynn in tights danced through my head as he battled Basil Rathbone, while Olivia DeHaviland waited with breasts heaving.

Warren’s first guest, Roberton Williams of the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, unemotionally laid out the facts.  I’ll be brief, so stay with me.  From 1979 through 2005, the bottom twenty percent of taxpayers saw their income grow by a whopping one percent…total.  Not per year…total…period.  The top twenty percent of taxpayers…that’s you he’s talking about…grew their incomes by seventy-five percent.   The top one percent of taxpayers…that’s probably not you…were the beneficiaries of a three hundred percent increase in income…inflation adjusted.  No kidding.

I don’t doubt that the 1.5 million taxpayers who saw their income triple deserve every penny of it, and more.  Especially guys like Bernie Madoff and Stanford Kurland.  You remember Stan.  He’s the guy who’s using your tax dollars to make a profit on the crappy mortgages he created while he led Countrywide to financial oblivion.   And how about Bernie’s wife, Ruth. She wants to keep the $62 million she saved using Costco coupons and swears her petty cash fund had nothing to do with Bernie’s adventures in wonderland.  But those guys are aberrations. Everyone else is pristine.

Obama’s proposed tax increase moves the top bracket about four percentage points to 39.6%…about where the tax rate was when Billy Clinton left office and you know who took over.  Four percentage points.  Enough to make John Boehner gag and Mitch McConnell predict the beginning of the Rapture.

Next on Warren’s show was Amity Shlaes, a Bloomberg News columnist.  Olney…”Amity, some people have characterized the tax increase on the rich as class warfare.  What are your thoughts?”  Listening to the car radio and focusing on avoiding the horse turds on the road, I could only imagine Amity’s smirk when she said “Warfare on the rich.  Nope.  Warfare on hope and opportunity is what it is.”  Going on…”The best people in the world won’t come here to live any more.  The dream will end.”  I’m sure she must have been thinking of the kids in Slumdog Millionaire.  Nope, if they have to pay an extra $40k in taxes on a million dollar income, they’ll probably head to Zimbabwe where they can shovel millions of Zimbabwean dollars into their 1987 Yugo.

Warren asked Amity if she was comfortable with the elephantine difference in income growth noted by Mr. Williams.  “Very comfortable” she intoned.  She went on.  “If a guy who makes $1.5 million has to pay another $60k in taxes, he’ll work less because of the marginal tax increase.”  It was at that point that I hoped her mother would whack her upside the head at next Sunday’s family dinner.

Olney’s last guest was Daniel Gross of Slate Magazine, surely a raging Commie.  Olney…”Afternoon Dan.  What did you think of Amity’s arguments.”  Dan…”With all due respect, she’s insane.”  Station break.

There is one apparent downside to the tax increases on the wealthy.  Since their tax deduction will be reduced, they’ll almost certainly give less to charity.  Tiny Tim will have no Christmas goose.  But I have a solution.

About $400 billion a year goes to charity.  Mr. Williams says charities will receive $9 billion less because of the 4% tax increase.  So, here’s what we do.  Instead of giving the incompetents at AIG another $50 billion bailout,  we short them by $9 billion and dole it out to your favorite charity.  Since no one seems to know what happened to the first $173 billion we gave AIG, they’ll never notice.  And Tiny Tim will have the best Christmas ever.  Amen.


4 Responses to “Taking from the rich”

  1. 1 sidney cohn March 10, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    That was brief??


  2. 2 Maureen C March 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Maybe not brief, but very interesting and informative, although as usual of late rather depressing….at least I can picture the turds in Sulphur Mountain Rd.


  3. 3 Steven Rothenberg March 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    you spelled ‘do respect’ incorrectly. It’s ‘due respect’ – but maybe that’s the way Mr. Gross said it….. The GRAMMAR POLICE have spoken.
    ‘Dehaviland waited with breasts heaving….’ – perfect grammar and well-said. I commend you.


  4. 4 judie March 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Aren’t kids wonderful! At least you know when to use perfect grammar!


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