Where Do They Find These People?

So the WSJ has an op-ed from an anesthesiologist allegedly discussing health care reform, and I figured I would listen to his opinion. I figure his specialty is one in which, like obstetrics and neurosurgery, there are really high malpractice premiums and lots of lawsuits, so I thought that would be his main complaint. Sadly, I was wrong. What pressing medical issue did this man with 20 years of experience want to address? The awful outcome of raising the top marginal rate to 70%. I wish I was kidding:

More broadly, the bill reflects the incorrect assumptions progressive politicians have made about the mindset of today’s doctors and how the health-care system operates.

The first error involves the new taxes on high wage earners. Progressives think marginal tax rates are a disincentive to work only when they reach, say, 70%. By raising taxes to only 60%, they expect a linear increase in tax revenues. But a new culture reigns in the world of upper-middle class professionals that invalidates this rule.

If the tax increase targeted 19th century aristocrats, the increase might be linear, since Old World aristocrats worked for honor—not money. Aristocrats viewed the whole notion of working for profit with contempt.

If the Protestant work ethic described by sociologist Max Weber dominated the earth, the tax bounty would also be huge. That’s because the stereotypical Calvinist businessman worked not just for profit, but because he believed it was his duty to work.

Later on he gets on to a little fear-mongering about women having to wait for epidurals, but by then I’d lost interest in anything he had to say.

I wonder if any of his co-workers have pointed out that no one has even proposed raising the tax rate to 70%?

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159 replies
  1. 1
    dmsilev says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that the most aggressive tax-increase proposal that’s been floated was to raise the top marginal rate by something like 3 percentage points.

    Oh, the humanity!

    -dms

  2. 2
    burnspbesq says:

    I want to see whether this guy takes advantage of the voluntary disclosure program with respect to his UBS account, or plays the prosecution lottery. I understand that when you are used to evading taxes, any tax seems like a lot. But should someone who can’t tell the difference between 39.6 and 70 be administering drugs where the dosage is determined in part by the patient’s weight and an overdose can be fatal?

  3. 3
    Meyer says:

    But a new culture reigns in the world of upper-middle class professionals that invalidates this rule.

    Yeah? Funny thing, in my world of upper class professionals, a lot of people are pretty happy to – you know – have jobs. I can certainly remember when his attitude was prevalent, but globalisation, immigrant workers and the downturn have pretty well changed that.

  4. 4
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I didn’t even understand that. I think he’s been sampling his own product.

  5. 5
    EMPY says:

    Nor has anyone proposed the 60% he lies about paying now.

  6. 6
    Warren Terra says:

    @ dmsilev #1,
    I believe you are wrong, sir: it’s 3.6 points, from 36 back to the 39.6 rate we had under the dimly remembered bleak Communist dystopia that was America in the distant past of nine years ago. So you were off by 20%, and as the anaethesiologist who wrote the Op-Ed would probably tell you, a 20% difference in tax rates is a crushing burden.

    I propose we do exactly what Reagan did in 1982, and cut the top marginal rate to 50%.

    BTW, the historical chart of top marginal rates in this Wikipedia article is quite useful.

  7. 7
    cleek says:

    Mr Anesthesiologist J Scumbag needs to lay off the ether.

  8. 8
    Ash Can says:

    I was going to theorize that this guy might not be aware that he should be using those nifty chemicals on the patients, but JSF beat me to it.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    And italics fail. Also.

  10. 10
    Alyson says:

    Wow. So a doctor feels no shame in openly admitting he’s in medicine for the money.

    And this is a real gem: “Government-run health care will become like the public schools.”

    Our society has seriously lost its way.

  11. 11
    Mark S. says:

    Geez, this guy sounds like an asshole. He claims the reason doctors and nurses don’t treat the poor like the worthless pieces of shit they are is because they get used to treating rich people nicely.

    Really.

    That is his argument against public health care.

  12. 12
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    Doesn’t surprise me. While their are plenty of individual liberal or non political doctors, the system as a whole is pure country club republican. From the AMA down. The entire mindset is built around medicine for profit. There are lots of rules that say it’s always and only about quality, but that just isn’t true.

    The AMA and others have done everything they can to protect doctors, or should I say bad doctors, hospitals, med suppliers and the like from public scrutiny or oversight of any real consequence. At least not till some doctor or hospital kills so many people there is a public outcry.

    There are no public databases that id incompetence in any part of the system. Everyone is protected, except from lawsuits which account for less than 5 percent of total cost of health care, And it is also about 5 percent of all doctors who cause negligent death from medical errors that result in 100,000 plus needless deaths per year.

    And the ONLY means of accountability is through legal action. State med boards are notorious for protecting bad docs and others in the system. And now they want to abolish or make moot this last avenue of accountability in the system. fuck em/

    The numbers i state are from memory and may be off some.

  13. 13
    Church Lady says:

    Top earners will pay 39.6 under repeal or lapse of the Bush tax cuts. Add in Social Security taxes on the first 100K or so of income and Medicare taxes on every penny earned. Depending on where he lives, particularly New York or California, this guy could be paying in excess of 10% in state income taxes. Add in possible local income taxes and that just takes it up a little further. Then there are the proposals that have been bandied about to have top earners pay a special surtax in order to fund health care reform and the Social Security surtax on top earners that has been talked about of help keep Social Security solvent. Add it up and it’s a pretty steep marginal rate. 70%? No, probably not that much, but it could easily be in excess of 60%.

  14. 14
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    And it is also about 5 percent of all doctors who cause negligent death

    that should have been “most” negligent deaths.

  15. 15
    cleek says:

    No, probably not that much, but it could easily be in excess of 60%.

    TOO FUCKING BAD

    if he doesn’t like it, i’m sure he could find a job with a 0% tax rate in beautiful downtown Mogadishu.

  16. 16
    Mister Papercut says:

    BRB, going to get a drink just so I can do a spit-take when I re-read this gem:

    A second thing progressives fail to grasp is the genius of the American health-care system: It unites rich and poor in a common private insurance system.

    Is he for real?

  17. 17
    Leelee for Obama says:

    John-I’m guessing there’s an Ayn Rand book worship society, yes? This guy is a likely member and they just called him, cause he was next.

  18. 18
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    I can’t say I’m all that surprised to read that there’s a misanthropic anesthesiologist – he has, after all, decided he likes working with unconscious people best.

    Kind of like how radiologists like pictures of people better than actual people.

    Every specialty has its good and bad eggs, of course, but still.

  19. 19
    mantis says:

    He starts from the assumption that the ultimate goal of every Democrat/liberal is for the government to take as much money as possible from everyone. This is typical of wingnuts, and most of them also believe that the reason all Democrats/liberals want to do this is because none of us work or pay taxes, so we’ll only benefit from the situation. This is why no one has to propose a rate nearly that high, it just makes sense that must be the goal of the left, and for whatever reason he chose 70% based on what, say, “progressives” say. Which ones? Who cares. You know they just want all your money.

  20. 20
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    @Mister Papercut: Is he for real?

    That quote does sound an awful lot like an allusion to the one about the law forbidding rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges.

  21. 21
    gypsy howell says:

    Is it possible that the WSJ been taken in by a parody troll?

  22. 22
    calling all toasters says:

    Well, shit– if they’re already complaining about it, let’s raise the top rate to 70%. I say starting at $1M/year.

  23. 23
    PhoenixRising says:

    Cleek, I love you man. Or Phnom Penh, the weather’s shitty this time of year, but that’s true 11.5 months of 12.

    Government-run health care will become like the public schools.

    So my kid will have a right to checkups, getting a bone set and immunizations within a short walk of our house, but if she needs chemotherapy we may have to drive a distance. And that’s worse than what my self-employed-one-uninsurable-adult-one-uninsurable-kid family has now, how exactly?

    What a maroon. Someone should explain the concept of Medicaid to this stiff, once he’s sitting down with a nice glass of single-malt and his feet are up in their slippers.

    ‘Unites rich and poor’..in a common vector-transmission environment when rich get into a car wreck and obtain TB exposure free of charge as part of the ER visit because poor are there getting primary care. Does he just not care about the bad health outcomes for everyone in our society that flow from shitty care for the poor? I’m not asking whether he cares about the human suffering that we could be alleviating for the same money we’re spending, because the answer is clearly ‘hell no’.

  24. 24
    Alyson says:

    The only thing more gob-smacking than the article is its comments section.

  25. 25
    John S. says:

    but it could easily be in excess of 60%

    Your math sucks as bad as the schmuck who penned that article.

    My friend who lives in Manhattan pays the top tax rate, the country’s highest sales tax rate, state and city income taxes, and he STILL only comes in around 50%. And that’s only if you don’t include any deductions or loopholes he takes advantage of when he actually files his taxes.

    So cram it, clown.

  26. 26
    MikeJ says:

    @calling all toasters:

    I agree completely, but my plan is if they’re already complaining about death boards and FEMA concentration camps run by armed Americorps volunteers…..

  27. 27
    Warren Terra says:

    @ Mister Papercut, #16

    A second thing progressives fail to grasp is the genius of the American health-care system: It unites rich and poor in a common private insurance system.

    Didn’t Anatole France say this better and earlier, albeit in French?

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

  28. 28
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    @MikeJ: We don’t even have to set up the camps and death panels, just treat them as a given and claim the 70% top marginal rate is the compromise position.

    Hell, the same kind of tactic from the other side has seriously endangered the public option.

  29. 29
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    @Warren Terra: Didn’t Anatole France say this better and earlier, albeit in French?

    Aha, yes – that’s the one I was thinking of.

  30. 30
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Church Lady:

    Top earners will pay 39.6 under repeal or lapse of the Bush tax cuts. Add in Social Security taxes on the first 100K or so of income and Medicare taxes on every penny earned. Depending on where he lives, particularly New York or California, this guy could be paying in excess of 10% in state income taxes. Add in possible local income taxes and that just takes it up a little further.

    Factoring in how much he’ll get in deductions, and how much he’s probably earning on capital gains (taxed at 15% instead of what us wage-earning f**ks have to pay), and he’s probably not paying anywhere near 70 percent.

    points for the effort, though.

    Median income for anethesiologists according to salary.com is in the $300,000 range.

  31. 31
    Calouste says:

    Some doctors do the work because they care for their patients instead of their patients’ credit cards.

  32. 32
    gypsy howell says:

    OK, I skipped on over and actually read it. Hilarious! Surely a joke, right?
    Anesthesia is rilly rilly hard, especially now that people are FAT.
    Doctors only want to work part-time, and a higher marginal tax rate will make that even harder.
    Rich people get blankets and painless IVs because otherwise they might complain to the mayor. But with a public option, they are going to “exit the system” ( and go to different hospitals?)
    My god, the crazy …It goes on an on.

  33. 33
    Mark S. says:

    @gypsy howell:

    Is it possible that the WSJ been taken in by a parody troll?

    Unfortunately, no, but would it surprise you that he works for the Hudson Institute? Or that he wrote a book arguing that we are all too damned happy?

  34. 34
    Martin says:

    Well, nobody should take an anesthesiologist seriously on the topic of health care reform.

    Anesthesiologists are typically contractors in hospitals, not regular employees. If one is working, say, the labor and delivery area and there are 5 women there in various stages of labor, some awaiting an epi, others with one but not yet delivered, the anesthesiologist bills each patient as if they were his only patient, whether he’s actually in their room, or just ‘on call’ until the right time for the epi. Here’s the reimbursement standard:

    Anesthesia time starts when the anesthesiologist begins to prepare the beneficiary for anesthesia care in the operating room or in an equivalent area. It ends when the anesthesiologist is no longer in personal attendance and the beneficiary may be safely placed under post-anesthesia supervision.

    So, anesthesiologists routinely bill multiple patients at a time. From the op-ed:

    Progressives expect to pay anesthesiologists Medicare rates, which are 65% less than private insurance rates, without any change in the system. But there will be changes.

    Yeah, we expect to pay 65% less, because you are actually billing your time 2, 3, 5 times over. The median salary for an anesthesiologist is $320K. The 25% percentile salary is $260K. And that’s with the current Medicare schedule already in place. Even if that median anesthesiologist didn’t do a single Medicare procedure and was forced to do nothing but Medicare procedures, they’d still earn $210K.

    So, yeah, too fucking bad.

  35. 35
    gbear says:

    OT but yow: Arthur Frommer (of Frommer’s Travel Guides) wonders if it’s safe to travel in Arizona.

    For myself, without yet suggesting that others follow me in an open boycott, I will not personally travel in a state where civilians carry loaded weapons onto the sidewalks and as a means of political protest. I not only believe such practices are a threat to the future of our democracy, but I am firmly convinced that they would also endanger my own personal safety there. And therefore I will cancel any plans to vacation or otherwise visit in Arizona until I learn more. And I will begin thinking about whether tourists should safeguard themselves by avoiding stays in Arizona.

    http://www.frommers.com/blog/?.....pAscending

  36. 36
    WereBear says:

    Strangely enough, doctors come in second only to fanatical church attenders in terms of how often and easily they are conned of their money.

    Doctors think their expertise in one area expands to all areas. Like, in this case, accounting.

  37. 37
    Martin says:

    Doctors only want to work part-time, and a higher marginal tax rate will make that even harder.

    I know an anesthesiologist that works 3 months a year and earns over $150K. Yes, that’s precisely what they want.

  38. 38
    feebog says:

    This article gives new meaning to the words “passing gas”.

  39. 39
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Martin:

    Anesthesiologists are typically contractors in hospitals, not regular employees.

    Actually, most doctors are contractors in hospitals. Listen to this Planet Money podcast and you’ll find that this guy’s view is apparently not too uncommon.

    Hospital administrator says the ego is as bad as star athletes in some of these folks.

    I should say that isn’t always the case. My mom worked with a doctor who was one of the kindest people you’d ever meet. She also worked with some jackasses.

  40. 40
    Warren Terra says:

    @ John S, #25

    My friend who lives in Manhattan pays the top tax rate, the country’s highest sales tax rate, state and city income taxes, and he STILL only comes in around 50%. And that’s only if you don’t include any deductions or loopholes he takes advantage of when he actually files his taxes.

    This ma have to do with how people are including Payroll Tax, something like 13% on the first $100K or so of income, by far the biggest and most regressive tax many Americans pay.

    I say “something like 13%” because the employee and the employer pay equal contributions of something like 7.5% I forget the current number), but if the employer weren’t matching that 7.5% or so then in theory it’d be passed on as wages, which I think means that the effective rate is something like 0.15/1.15 = 0.13.

    Now, the trick here is that this person qualifying for the top marginal rates, adding up to 50% or so with federal, state, and local, is not actually paying anything like 50% of their income in Income Taxes; they’re only paying that much on the portion of their income that’s in excess of the transition point to the top marginal rate. And if the vast majority of their income is over their transition point then the (capped) Payroll Tax will be only a few percent of their total income, and they probably won’t be paying nearly so much of their income on sales taxes as do working-class people.

  41. 41
    Gwangung says:

    Median salary across the nation is not as useful as median salary in an SMSA. Highervsalary in cities with higher taxes (some are mid to upper six figures). But yeah….70 percent is BS…

  42. 42
    Martin says:

    This ma have to do with how people are including Payroll Tax

    Not to mention the inclusion of Reynolds Wrap costs (Tinfoil Hat Tax), the Sharpie Evil Mustache costs (Hitler Presentation Tax), the Tetlea costs (Teabagger Tax), Remington ammunition costs (Liburuls Gonna Take Mah Gunz Tax), and so on.

    You add all of those hidden taxes, most Republicans are facing something like a 117% top marginal rate.

  43. 43
    gypsy howell says:

    @Mark S.:

    Hahahahahahah – here’s what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about his book:

    In this impassioned but hard-to-swallow treatise, Dworkin, an M.D. and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, laments the rise among primary care physicians of the “ideology” that “unhappiness [is] a disease” to be treated with “external cures” from psychotropic drugs to “obsessive” exercise.

    When Publisher’s Weekly starts off a review of your book by trashing it, you know it’s gotta be bad!

    The “ideology” of unhappiness. Yeah, I bet his wife knows all about that. Douchebag.

  44. 44
    jl says:

    The cultural references in this post intrigued me so I read his editorial. His argument seems to boil down to:

    There used to be morals, ethics and social norms. But my generation consists of amoral unimaginative selfish greedy jackasses who work to make a pile quick so we can retire early and enjoy a good life a pure leisure and consumption.

    I like the part where he seemed to say that modern professionals are so uninterested in their work, and intellectually inept and incurious, that they quickly get bored with their work.

    From my experience, this fellow does not have the typical attitude of a doctor. But maybe I am sheltered

  45. 45

    He could save a lot of money by reading that turgid mess aloud to his patients. Never mind count backwards from 100; start at 1.5.

  46. 46
    jl says:

    Sorry, no edit, in the first sentence of my post I meant to say:

    The cultural (references from the editorial shown) in this post intrigued me so I read his editorial. His argument seems to boil down to:

  47. 47
    gypsy howell says:

    @jl:

    But he does have the typical attitude of a Hudson Fellow.

  48. 48
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Just out of curiousity, has the WSJ *ever* run an op-ed in *favor* of HCR instead of douchebags like this guy and Mackey?

  49. 49
    MikeJ says:

    Just out of curiousity, has the WSJ ever run an op-ed in favor of HCR instead of douchebags like this guy and Mackey?

    The WSJ is having a good day when the editorial page doesn’t include the word “nigger”.

  50. 50
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @MikeJ:

    I’m sure that’s in their spell-checker kill file just in case someone slips up and uses it. :D

  51. 51
    beltane says:

    @WereBear: The gullibility of doctors was a running joke among my law school professors. I can’t say they were wrong.

  52. 52
    whetstone says:

    Shorter Ronald Dworkin: If you raise taxes on rich people, their anesthesiologists will kill your fat ass, and your kids too.

  53. 53

    @cleek: New Hampshire has no personal income tax. But we are still part of the US so he would have to pay taxes to the Obama caliphate.

    But to the point. If this guy is paying a 60% effective rate on his income he is too fucking stupid to be an MD of any kind. Shit, hasn’t he ever heard of accountants and tax attorneys? He’s full of shit.

  54. 54
    JackieBinAZ says:

    We need more of THIS kind of doctor (and congressman). I couldn’t link to it separately but go down to “The Uninsured Congressman” to hear how Rep. Steve Kagen of Wisconsin is forgoing his government health insurance until all of his constituents have access to the same coverage and care.

  55. 55
    Shygetz says:

    Oh noes! Dr. Doctor thinks that he could make a lateral move to another industry and make a similar salary to what he makes now as an anesthesiologist with 20 years experience–hell, even to make a salary 50% of what he makes now. I suggest he give that a try first, and he’ll see that his MD and 20 years experience means nothing in other industries. Dumbass.

  56. 56
    Linkmeister says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Oh, broaden it out.

    “Has the WSJ ever run a sensible op-ed in favor of a Democratic Congressional or Presidential proposal?”

    Your answer, should you choose to accept it, is “Nope.”

  57. 57
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    OT, but with the same attitude, the new CEO of AIG:

    “I’m appalled at how much pressure has been put on all of you to just sell it no matter what, because the Fed wants out, or the Treasury wants out. If they want out in a hurry, they shouldn’t have come in in the first place.”

    “It’s time the people in Congress stopped talking about you as the problem, because you’re the solution. It’s not your fault, it’s their fault, it’s the regulators’ fault.”

    It’s all *their* fault.

  58. 58
    jcricket says:

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument taxes were going to going from 30% to 50% (instead of up around 3%). So instead of $175k (70% of $250k) he’d be earning $125k. There’s zero chance an anesthesiologist is going to turn away $125k in income. Less than zero, actually.

    Moreover, even if the rate were high enough (i.e. income over $250k was taxed at 80%, for sake of argument) to “discourage” someone from pursuing that extra income, someone else not near that bracket would step in to take their place and do the work (i.e. someone making $200k might grab $50k of that work).

    This type of repeated argument betrays a complete lack of understanding of marginal taxation, human behavior, etc. The lack of command of economics by those who think the Laffer curve is true is simply astonishing. Seriously.

  59. 59
    jl says:

    @whetstone: It would not be that bad. Thoroughly modern and moddish professionals would check on the impact on their retirement accounts first. If the impact was low enough, they might wander off to the driving range, but they wouldn’t do it automatically the next time they got bored or pissed off in the middle of an operation.

    So, look on the bright side of things for once, OK?

  60. 60
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @jcricket:

    This type of repeated argument betrays a complete lack of understanding of marginal taxation, human behavior, etc. The lack of command of economics by those who think the Laffer curve is true is simply astonishing. Seriously.

    And yet Ayn Rand still has a following (who don’t seem to be willing to actually, ya’ know, *follow* her advice off into Galtland).

  61. 61
    jcricket says:

    In my post above the first paragraph should make clear that’s $250k of extra income (i.e. earning $500k).

  62. 62
    Linkmeister says:

    @jcricket: I got so ticked hearing idiots talk about higher tax rates as though they’d get hit with 35% of everything they earned that I actually wrote a blog post explaining marginal tax rates. Never thought I’d do that in my 7-year blogging career.

  63. 63
    IndieTarheel says:

    Just in case I hadn’t mentioned it in a while, I fracking LOVE this blog.
    Come for the info, stay for the snark.

  64. 64
    Comrade Jake says:

    I’ve seen some very good doctors in my life, so I really don’t want to disparage them wholesale, but on the topic of healthcare, a good number of them do seem to be preoccupied primarily by the potential impact on their paycheck.

    I’m not sure how I feel about that. Probably sick.

  65. 65
    jwb says:

    @jcricket: The human mind has an amazing capacity to believe what it wants to hear.

  66. 66
    steve s says:

    A lot of people don’t understand how progressive rates work. You’re given a certain amount deduction, then taxed at the smallest rate up to x dollars, then the dollars over x are taxed at the next rate up to y dollars, and so forth. The actual amount you wind up paying is much less than (your income)*(the top bracket you’re in).

    for instance, our hypothetical anesthesiologist who makes $300,000 a year, according to the 2008 tax table pdf, using the formula on page 92, would pay approximately, before any other deductions, $84,000 in federal taxes, for an effective rate of $28%. By the time you add in state taxes, and typical deductions a person like this usually has, you’re still looking at probably ~30%.

  67. 67
    Fencedude says:

    Well of course he’s in it for the money, he’s an anesthesiologist.

    This is obvious.

  68. 68
    uila says:

    On the scale of whining, pitiful, self-serving op-eds, I give this guy the full DeSantis.

  69. 69
    Morbo says:

    Once again as we’ve seen many times before, I’m pretty sure this guy has no concept of marginal tax rates.

    Anesthesiologist pay ranges

    The median looks to be around $260,000-275,000. So his complaint is that $10-25,000 of his income is going to be taxed (OK, probably $50k with his experience) at 60% 39.6%. Goodness, $1,800, what pain.

    Ah hell, thanks steve, you probably explained it better anyway.

  70. 70
    Bill Arnold says:

    And that’s only if you don’t include any deductions or loopholes he takes advantage of when he actually files his taxes.

    I figure that anyone who can write a borderline sociopathic screed like that probably cheats on their taxes to the extent possible, and argues privately that everyone does it.

  71. 71
    mark r says:

    Yeah but….

    even if you did raise the marginal rate on income above say 400k to 70%, people wouldn’t Go Galt, or whatever nonsense they’d like to peddle. Self interest in keeping up with inflation would require that you keep generating income, lest you lose 3-5% of your net worth every year. It would take about 20 some years before half your fortune was gone, if you never spent another penny.

  72. 72
    SGEW says:

    From Krista’s play-by-play:

    9:30: Anesthesiologist arrives with sound of angels singing. Cannot even speak, as am so delirious with pain. Receive epidural.

    I have a feeling that anesthesiologists get accustomed to this sort of beatific image they have when relieving suffering patients of their pain, and take it as their due. If not somewhat literally.

  73. 73
    Violet says:

    @Fencedude:

    Yeah, no kidding. Anesthesiologists are not known to be the kind, hand-holding altruistic types. If you want doctors that might not be in it for the money, try the generalists – Family Medicine docs, some Internal Medicine docs (GPs), maybe Pediatricians. There are good doctors in all areas of medicine, but certain personality types tend to congregate in certain specialties. Anesthesiology isn’t known for attracting the bleeding-heart, save-the-world types, that’s for sure.

    Oh, and this guy is a moran.

  74. 74
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    I am getting more and more pissed off by conservatives’ insistence that blatantly making up numbers makes for a good argument – as if random numbers pulled out of thin air are true until proven false.

    And I’m not even talking about the Republican propaganda machine. Conservatives I talk to honestly fucking believe that if they make things up then it must be true, as long as it supports the conclusion they were told they must come to.

    I try really hard not to fall into the “angry liberal” stereotype that they’ve fabricated in their heads… but the sheer depth of their willful ignorance makes it more and more difficult every day.

  75. 75
    Violet says:

    @SGEW:

    I have a feeling that anesthesiologists get accustomed to this sort of beatific image they have when relieving suffering patients of their pain, and take it as their due. If not somewhat literally.

    Frequently the anesthesiologist shows up first, before anything happens, so he or she isn’t relieving you of any pain. Depends what you’re in for, of course.

    In my experience I was absolutely fine until the anesthesiologist tried to put in the IV. After assuring me he was brilliant and never had any trouble inserting IVs, he couldn’t figure out how to get the needle in my vein and caused me so much pain I was sobbing. I have a high pain threshold, but this was excruciating. He didn’t even have the courtesy to apologize for causing me pain and just walked away when he was done. Then he overloaded me on so much medication it took me the better part of a week to feel normal again. And my hand had a nice bruise that just kept coming for about two weeks. Jerk.

  76. 76
    jenniebee says:

    sigh, could we maybe base taxes not on income, but on one’s knowledge of American history? Because this guy has not a clue. Aristocrats didn’t “work for honor,” aristocrats didn’t work at all. That was the whole point.

    Sigh. How about this quick timeline of some aristocrats and their opinions on taxes (I am totally not making this up)…

    1754-63 – France spends a metric ass ton of money on the Seven Years War
    1776-81 – France spends another metric ass ton of money on the American Revolution
    1781 – France says “oh shit, we are completely out of money! And we’re already taxing the middle class so severely that we now have an active black market for things like salt because nobody can afford to buy it legally anymore! Aristocrats, could we tax you a little bit pretty please to keep our treasury from going bankrupt?”
    1782 – Nobles say “ummm… no”
    1783 – France says “pretty please? because of all the starving to death and stuff?”
    1784 – Nobles say “we would, we really would, but we already spent it all on milk”
    1785 – France: “milk?”
    1786 – Nobles: “we bathe in it now. If you raised taxes, the dairy industry would totally collapse.”
    1787 – France: “peasants could maybe drink that milk instead”
    1788 – Nobles: “peasants can’t afford it and if we paid for it for them, they’d never learn to take care of themselves. Why do you hate freedom?”
    1789 – France: “um, there’s a mob at the Bastille demanding bread”
    1789 – Nobles: “they’re angry about your irresponsible public milk subsidy proposals. The government already has enough debt without spending more buying milk”
    1790 – France: “Oh shit, this is not going to end well”
    1791 – Nobles: “Feel the fury of the people!”
    1791 – France: “Far better thing I do, etc.”
    1791 – Nobles: “Ha ha! We have finally gotten rid of that tax-happy king! Wait, why are you people still pissed off? DAMN YOU, SCOTT BEAUCHAMP!”

    Fin

  77. 77
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Violet:

    I

    n my experience I was absolutely fine until the anesthesiologist tried to put in the IV. After assuring me he was brilliant and never had any trouble inserting IVs, he couldn’t figure out how to get the needle in my vein and caused me so much pain I was sobbing.

    Hmmm, in my experience, nurses are the only people I’ve ever seen put in IVs, including trying to to put one in a 6-month-old with all the difficulties you can imagine, although the anesthesiologist did do the epidurals on my ex’s pregnancies.

  78. 78
    AnotherBruce says:

    I’ll go ahead and point this out. When we had a top marginal tax rate of 70-90% in the 50s and 60s, we had a booming powerful economy with a robust middle class. Now as taxes, including payroll taxes are borne disporportionately by lower income earners and we have the top 5% of income earners with as much wealth as the bottom 90%. We have an anemic economy and a disappearing middle class. This is not a coincidence. We’ve bought into the myth that the wealthy create our economy and jobs. They don’t, those are created for the most part by small businesses and new startups. The upper 1% of the wealthy mostly use their wealth to find elaborate and semi-legal or illegal ways to steal, we can do fine without them. Tax the hell out of them.

  79. 79
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I got 3 words for that doctor:

    Remote Area Medical

    all his whining is just noise after that.

  80. 80
    Calouste says:

    @Shygetz:

    Oh noes! Dr. Doctor thinks that he could make a lateral move to another industry and make a similar salary to what he makes now as an anesthesiologist with 20 years experience—hell, even to make a salary 50% of what he makes now. I suggest he give that a try first, and he’ll see that his MD and 20 years experience means nothing in other industries. Dumbass.

    Well, with his attitude he could make triple his current income as a health insurance lobbyist, but other than that MD skills are not really portable to other professions.

  81. 81
    JK says:

    OT

    Hopefully, Jon Stewart will kick Betsy McCaughey’s ass tonight for all the bullshit lies she’s been telling.

  82. 82
    Alan in SF says:

    thirty-seven percent, seventy percent … what’s the difference to an anesthesiologist

  83. 83
    Sloth says:

    @jenniebee:

    Hilarious!

  84. 84
    Church Lady says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: And to think that he’s being paid – guaranteed- 3 million a year in salary and 4 million a year in fully vested common stock. He’s also eligible for a performance obnus of up to 3.5 million. All approved by Obama’s pay czar.

    I wish Obama’s pay czar could determine my salary.

  85. 85
    jwb says:

    @jenniebee: That made my night. Genius.

  86. 86
    Xanthippas says:

    Fine. Let’s see if he’s right. Let’s raise marginal tax rates to 70% and see if his ass quits working.

  87. 87
    Janus Daniels says:

    A good op-ed, considering the source.
    WSJ op-eds rarely have even one good idea.
    “… raising taxes [back] to only 60%…”
    I rest my case.

  88. 88
    mcc says:

    Republicanism in a nutshell. You ask “what can be done to improve our health care system?” and all of a sudden they start talking about top marginal tax rates

  89. 89
    Mike G says:

    I wonder if any of his co-workers have pointed out that no one has even proposed raising the tax rate to 70%?

    It’s in the same bill with ‘death panels’, and which also grants everyone a free magic unicorn. You know, the one that doesn’t exist anywhere outside the rightard media propagandaverse.

  90. 90
    jenniebee says:

    Anybody else watching The Daily Show? Yakitty Sax. Heh. Indeed.

  91. 91
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @Church Lady:

    And to think that he’s being paid – guaranteed- 3 million a year in salary and 4 million a year in fully vested common stock. He’s also eligible for a performance obnus of up to 3.5 million. All approved by Obama’s pay czar.

    b-b-but he could be paying 60% of that in taxes! Easily!

    Congrats, you’re easily in the running for BJ’s Most Tiresome Concern Troll.

  92. 92
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    Also, @jenniebee rocks. Also.

  93. 93
    Montysano says:

    Do people like Betty McCaughey seriously think they’re going on a comedy show when they agree to do The Daily Show? Jeebus, the woman is seriously unprepared.

    There is just no one like Stewart: completely charming as he slips a knife between your ribs.

  94. 94
    Kyle says:

    My friend who lives in Manhattan pays the top tax rate, the country’s highest sales tax rate, state and city income taxes, and he STILL only comes in around 50%.

    And it follows from neoconservative economic theory that there can’t possibly be any rich people living or working in Manhattan because of the indescribably horrible depredations of higher tax rates.

  95. 95
    Indylib says:

    @jenniebee:
    Excellent!

  96. 96
    Dulcie says:

    @jenniebee: Now that was a thing of beauty. I laughed…and then I got mad and wanted to hit some rich asshole. Then I laughed again.

    Excellent work!

  97. 97
    mai naem says:

    He’s an idiot like that Colorado dentist who was whining during the election of how she would cut back working because the ding dong didn’t understand marginal taxes. She thought she was going to be paying something like $20,000 dollars more in taxes when it was $3000.

    Mr.Dworkin can join the rest of us working people who have either had to work more for the same money or made less money working the same hours. Sorry, dude, there is no way I am going to feel any empathy for you when you aren’t even close to worrying about living on the streets. Furthermore, if you have a problem with that feel free to move to Hong Kong or a third world country where your tax rates will be lower.

  98. 98
    wasabi gasp says:

    Incentivize a high estate tax with a low income tax so the bitching can be kept home.

  99. 99
    ah says:

    I know the author of the WSJ article, he’s always hated his job as a doctor. He married well and has been working part time for years.

  100. 100
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Maybe we can hook him up with Madoff.

  101. 101
    MikeJ says:

    Incentivize a high estate tax with a low income tax so the bitching can be kept home.

    If we set the estate tax to 100% we won’t need health care reform. People will be incintivized to never die.

  102. 102
    Martin says:

    I’d like to hear DougJ’s thoughts on this piece on newspaper journalism.

    h/t to Gruber

  103. 103
    ninerdave says:

    I have a new tax proposal.

    Everyone making over $5 mill a year gets taxed at 60%, everyone under pays no tax.

    There were 840,000 households last year that made over $5 million a year. For ease of math, let’s say not one of those 840,000 made more than $5 million.

    Total tax revenue:

    840,000 * 3,000,000 = 2,520,000,000,000,000

    Last year’s budget: 2,979,000,000,000

    We’d be able to fund the health care, pay down the debt, fully fund medicare, SS, and the wars and the 840,000 people who make less than that would stimulate the hell out of the economy.

    and let’s face it $2,000,000 a year is still a lot of cheese.

    Tell me the truth, If I said to you, you could make $5million a year, but you had to pay 3 in taxes, would you do it? I sure as shit would. Knowing about what an anesthesiologist makes, I’m sure our author here would jump at the chance too. I’m sure our author would love to pay no taxes either.

  104. 104
    burnspbesq says:

    True story:

    About 17 years ago, I tore two ligaments in my wrist. During the surgery, they stuck three pins in there to stabilize the repair while it healed.

    Two months later, it was time for the pins to come out. This was done under local anesthesia in an outpatient surgery facility.

    The anesthesiologist starts making small talk with me to make me feel comfortable, and asks me what i do for a living. Being an idiot, I give the truthful answer:

    “I’m a litigator for the IRS.”

    Dude wanted to know EVERYTHING about how returns are selected for examination, are there materiality thresholds before agents will raise certain issues, the whole works.

    So yeah, doctors want to keep it all.

  105. 105
    Jack says:

    Am I the only person who likes the idea of a 70% top marginal tax rate more now that it has been suggested that if such a tax existed everyone who is only out to make as much money as possible would give up on the pursuit of wealth?

  106. 106
    ninerdave says:

    So yeah, doctors want to keep it all.

    In fairness, that extends to just about anyone who pays taxes.

    So about those charitable deductions….:)

  107. 107
    Anne Laurie says:

    @burnspbesq:

    But should someone who can’t tell the difference between 39.6 and 70 be administering drugs where the dosage is determined in part by the patient’s weight and an overdose can be fatal?

    For – The – Effin’ – WIN! I hope someone sends a letter to the board at his hospital mentioning this…

  108. 108
    MBSS says:

    JC

    thanks for posting the taibbi earlier.

    taibbi win,

    maria b fail,

    mika and joe are stuck on permanent fail.

  109. 109
    MBSS says:

    my father is an accountant.

    talk about wanting to keep it all….

  110. 110
    kth says:

    @ninerdave:

    That really wouldn’t work. Someone who made $4,999,999 would pay no taxes, but someone who made $5,000,000 would pay $3,000,000 in taxes. So there’s no incentive to make anywhere in the neighborhold of five million dollars. Indeed, if you earned anywhere close to 5 mil, you would be much better off just declining the pay that exceeded 5 mil.

    That’s why with a progressive tax system, the brackets have to apply to marginal income rather than total income. Even if you took 100% of everything over 5 mil, that would be a better plan than taking 60% of the total income of people making that much or higher. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough money made in excess of 5 mil/year to fund the government, even if they took it all.

  111. 111
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    I’ve always felt that professionals like doctors/attorneys/etc that are well-off via income instead of assets would be a good constituency to support a “wealth tax”. In general, most of these guys complain that they’re taxed as much as people with mansions and fat stock portfolios despite not having either.

    Of course, the reason why we lump them into the same category is because we depend so much on income tax. If we had higher property/capital gains/estate taxes (i.e. wealth), the government could afford to lower the tax rate on people in the 250k range substantially…

  112. 112
    Church Lady says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Are you still an attorney for the IRS? If so, cry me an f’n river. Commenters are bitching about the average income for an anesthesiologist – heck, average salary for an IRS attorney is 97K per year, and you don’t have to pay malpractice premiums or pay an office staff out of your pocket. You get your choice of health insurance coverage through the federal employee’s plan and Uncle Sam picks up 72% of the cost. You also receive a government pension, Social Security coverage and can participate in the government thrift plan (similar to a 401K). Sounds pretty sweet to me. With all the bennies you get, compliments of the taxpayer, you’re probably not too terribly far under the lifestyle of those greedy doctors that have to cover the out of pocket costs associated with their practices.

  113. 113
    Brian J says:

    I’m not going to link to it because I am typing this from my iPhone while lying in bed, but a few weeks ago The Wall Street Journal ran a piece by Robert Reich arguing for a public option. I’d probably agree with the most negative characterization of that paper’s editorial page, but it does, at least ocassionally, publish contributions from the other side. It also has Thomas Frank as a paid columnist, but that was probably Murdoch’s doing.

  114. 114
    Linkmeister says:

    @Brian J: Most readers will agree that the news side of the WSJ is honest and mostly objective; it’s the editorial side that has been bat____ crazy for supply-side economics, war, and whatever Paul Gigot and his predecessors think is important that day.

  115. 115
    Clutch414 says:

    The full uncensored McCaughey interview is up.

  116. 116
    burnspbesq says:

    @Church Lady:

    Seriously, you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. That was the best job I’ve ever had, and I very reluctantly left it because you can’t raise a family in a high cost of living area on even a GS-15 salary.

  117. 117
    ninerdave says:

    @kth:

    That really wouldn’t work. Someone who made $4,999,999 would pay no taxes, but someone who made $5,000,000 would pay $3,000,000 in taxes. So there’s no incentive to make anywhere in the neighborhold of five million dollars. Indeed, if you earned anywhere close to 5 mil, you would be much better off just declining the pay that exceeded 5 mil

    I know, I was being facetious.

    :)

  118. 118
    KG says:

    I have the marginal tax rate discussion with my folks every so often. They simply refuse to believe me that their actual tax rate is not the same as the top marginal rate until they get somewhere around 3.5 million (which they don’t get to).

    I do think one of the problems we have, as Nate Silver pointed out a while back is that when you adjust for inflation, we have a lot more people (in terms of percentage of population) in the higher brackets now than we have in the past. Adjusting the tax brackets (if we must have income taxes), perhaps adding one on the top rather than near the bottom, would make some sense.

  119. 119
    Mike says:

    That guy’s a fucking douche. But it’s worth keeping in mind that medicine is the one high-earning field where one can usually relatively easily go part-time without a significant drop-off per-hour pay.

  120. 120

    Church Lady, have you ever thought of changing your name from “Church Lady” to “Randroid Twat”? It would be ever so much more accurate.

  121. 121
    Martin says:

    Are you still an attorney for the IRS? If so, cry me an f’n river.

    I don’t hear him complaining about his taxes. I don’t hear him complaining about a possible higher tax rate, either.

    So, you’re not pissed about anything he said, just that he earns more money than you. Grow up.

  122. 122
    MikeJ says:

    we have a lot more people (in terms of percentage of population) in the higher brackets now than we have in the past. Adjusting the tax brackets (if we must have income taxes), perhaps adding one on the top rather than near the bottom, would make some sense.

    We did use to have more brackets. The top bracket was 90%. For some reason the rich felt that things needed to be “simplified” so as not to overtax (heh) their poor minds.

    I’m all for a return to the tax rates and brackets of the 50s.

  123. 123
    Clutch414 says:

    I just got done watching the whole interview. Oh my god. Its almost as good as his appearance on 2004 Crossfire appearance.

  124. 124
    Clutch414 says:

    @Clutch414: Redundant post is redundant. *Sigh*

  125. 125
    MikeJ says:

    @Clutch414: I don’t understand the Republican war on reading.

    Repubican: OMG! There’s nothing in the bill about werewolves!
    Dem: Why would there be? It’s moronic.
    Rep: You want to turn us all into werewolves!!
    Dem: Fine. Add a section forbidding werewolves.
    Rep: This bill is too long to read now! And vampires!

  126. 126
    Anne Laurie says:

    Seriously? I have one word for Dr. Dworkin: Nurse-Anesthetist. Yes, properly administering sedating drugs to patients is a highly-skilled, demanding task — but it doesn’t require inborn talents so specialized that only the tiniest, tiniest percentage of the population will ever be capable of exercising them. The AMA, and especially the anesthetists within the AMA, started fighting in the 1960s to (further) restrict the number of training slots available to aspiring MD-anesthetists, while campaigning to make it illegal for nurse-anesthetists to practice without “supervision” from a “properly trained” doctor. A large part of why anesthetists are so well-compensated is that, in best Randroid fashion, they’ve got themselves a closed guild and they carefully ration the number of new entries who might challenge their oligopoly.

    Come the Obama HCR Revolution, top-rank specialists like Dr. Dworkin will be free to deal with only the Lexus-trade private-practice patients, while us (fat!) peasants have to settle for mere technicians like the schmuck in your dentist’s office. I suspect the increase in happiness for the very large number of people with improved access will offset the very very small increase in the number of Unfortunate Outcomes, but then, Dr. Dworkin thinks increasing happiness is un-American and immoral!

  127. 127
    Brachiator says:

    @steve s:

    for instance, our hypothetical anesthesiologist who makes $300,000 a year, according to the 2008 tax table pdf, using the formula on page 92, would pay approximately, before any other deductions, $84,000 in federal taxes, for an effective rate of $28%. By the time you add in state taxes, and typical deductions a person like this usually has, you’re still looking at probably ~30%.

    Close. Assume the person is married with no kids and no other deductions, who lives in California. Federal Tax for 2009 would be 71,134 (effective marginal rate of 33%, or 35% on the next $1,000 of income earned.

    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason — If we had higher property/capital gains/estate taxes (i.e. wealth), the government could afford to lower the tax rate on people in the 250k range substantially…

    Uh, no. Property taxes are not federal taxes. Taxes on incomes less than $100,000 are generally lower than taxes on incomes between 100,000 and 250,000, and even here vary greatly depending on filing status and number of dependents.

    Estate taxes can be complicated (e.g, there is an unlimited marital deduction that ain’t going away).

  128. 128
    Church Lady says:

    @Brachiator: What would this fictional California doctor pay in California Income Taxes? What are his Social Security taxes as a self-employed individual? How much will he have to pay in Medicare taxes? It all adds up and, after 2011, will add up even more.

  129. 129
    Clutch414 says:

    @MikeJ: You definitely can tell that Stewart got to McCaughey. Just look at her body language-she only faces him when he’s speaking and she turns to the audience when trying to spill on of her ridiculous talking points (TROJAN HORSE TO KILL TEH OLDZ!! BOOGA!).

    I give her credit for trying to come at him again and again, but she was seriously outclassed. He shot holes in every single moronic “argument” she tried to put forth.

    “I like you, but I’m not sure how your brain works.” Epic.

  130. 130
    Church Lady says:

    @burnspbesq: GS 15 payscale for 2009 is $98,156 to $127,604 plus a location adjustment ranging from +13.86% to +34.35%. That would put anyone in the top 10% of income earners and is most than more in government service make, even in DC. Those figures don’t include the value of the job benfits either. I’d say that’s a pretty comfortable income.

  131. 131
    Church Lady says:

    @Martin:

    Um, no.

  132. 132
    YellowJournalism says:

    There needs to be special threads just for those episodes of The Daily Show. The respect I have for Jon Stewart grew tenfold tonight.

    It was sickening to hear her tell the “hurry” story as if she tried to be some kind of saviour to a dying person. She said she has no problem with the consultations. No, she probably doesn’t. She has a problem with people choosing DNR-like measures.

  133. 133
    Mark S. says:

    It’s pretty clear Stewart had absolutely no respect for her (and to give Stewart credit, he’s usually pretty fair to his conservative guests). She was throwing up whatever shit she could and hoping some of it would stick. She’s probably used to cable news talking heads not challenging her bs.

  134. 134
    Batocchio says:

    @jenniebee:

    That was awesome.

  135. 135
    Batocchio says:

    The WSJ has been lining up doctors to tell tales about the dangers of giving health care to the uninsured. Given the staggering wealth inequity in America and how higher tax rates on the rich (and better middle class wages) made more people prosperous in addition to making the overall economy more robust – yeah, tax the hell out of that top 1% and top 20%. They can afford it, per Adam Smith they should pay more, and if they’re all assholes like this guy, they have it coming.

  136. 136
    wingnuts to iraq says:

    Churchlady’s WHARGL is easy dismissed because she is exhibiting classic “marginal tax rate” fail.

    Someone making $400,000 wouldn’t pay 4% more. They’d only pay 4% more on the money the earned OVER $280,000 (single) or $350,000 (joint).

    Filing jointly would mean you’d pay 4% more on $50,000. That’s $2,000 more a year.

    So in total, a joint-filing person making $400,000 will see their taxes go up 0.5%–a whopping $39 a week!!!

    OH NOEZ!!!

    // hehe… joint-filing
    // praying i did all my math right

  137. 137
    wingnuts to iraq says:

    @wingnuts to iraq: and jebus, can we somehow prove the ‘public option’ could save this joint-filing $400,000 person $39/week in current health care expenditures (including co-pays, deductibles, premiums, and employer-expenses).

    I’m guessing the answer to this question is yes.

  138. 138
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: Oh, c’mon — someone has to monitor us DFHs for signs that our scarcely-latent terroristic urges are still being kept in check by our fear of the Second Amendment. And in these tough times, even the humblest paid employment can’t be scoffed at, however debilitating it must be to labor among such a bunch of anti-American freedom-haters.

  139. 139
    T. O'Hara says:

    I wonder if any of his co-workers have pointed out that no one has even proposed raising the tax rate to 70%?

    Possibly he’s noticed the fact the CBO scores this program $239Bil in the red. Taxes have to be raised just to get the bill passed, right? Or is that “deficit neutral” noise just that?

    The proposed top effective marginal tax rate is 50-55% for payers living in states with high tax burden (including NY and CA). The program needs more revenue. He claims a disincentive to work will happen as the rate approaches 60%, not 70%.

    Yes, this doctor is a nut. Fear mongering. Unamerican. Treason. Bearing false witness. Boycott him.

  140. 140
    Bgno64 says:

    Actually, Dworkin’s whining about taxation and his implicit threat to go Galt is the least of his douchebaggery.

    But the side effect is that their high quality care becomes habitual, and all patients receive it. When a poor person complains in most environments, no one listens. But in health care, through a common private insurance system, poor people go to the same hospitals and doctors as rich people and thus enjoy the benefit of rich people’s power.

    Trickle-down, baby.

    The public option severs this link. Dissatisfied with government-run health care, the rich will exit the system.

    The rich would never be in the f*cking system in the first place; public OPTION, Dr. Dworkin.

    And by the way, I don’t want my anesthesiologist or my surgeon to be a hobbyist.

  141. 141
    burnspbesq says:

    @Church Lady:

    “I’d say that’s a pretty comfortable income.”

    It’s nice to see that in the decade since I left the Service, they have tried to at least partially address the disparity between government and private-sector salaries, which makes it extremely difficult for government agencies to attract and retain talent.

    But I assure you, that wasn’t the scale when I was was there. My biggest year at the IRS was $83K, as a GS-15 Step 2.

    Comfortable? I invite you to try supporting a family that includes a special-needs kid on that income in OC. Try that for a year, then come back and tell us how “comfortable” it was.

    Not sure what your problem is, but you clearly have one -or several.

  142. 142
    Church Lady says:

    My problem is that you act like some kind of class warrior, when you are obviously on the upside of income distribution. I don’t have any problem with anyone trying to make more money – it’s the American way. It’s also why I’m not envious of those that make more than I do. It they can do it, more power to them. My husband and I work hard every day in order to not only make more money for ourselves, but so that our employees can make more too.

    You implied that just because this guy made a good living (which we are all assuming, based on his occupation, since we’re not privy to his personal tax return), he must be some sort of tax cheat, hiding his income in Switzerland. By your reasoning, you must also be shielding income, given that you’re a lawyer, and lawyers typically are pretty far up on the income scale.

    Just because you, or I, make a pretty good living, it doesn’t cause someone else to make less, but that seems to be the attitude of so many here. They seem to think that every dollar of extra income someone else, above them on the income ladder, makes, that it somehow denies them that dollar, or a part thereof, and that it’s just not fair. No matter what they do, no matter what their training or education, no matter how hard they work, by God their entitled to make just as much money, because it’s only FAIR, and if the tax code was somehow fairer, we’ll they would obviously be better off.

    The attitude that high income earners should pay even more also chaps my ass. I’m already in the top income bracket and pay a lot in federal income taxes. And every single bit of it is on wage income. I don’t mind paying more than most, but no, I’m not looking forward to paying more. I can’t think of too many people that would say, hell yes, tax me more. Somehow, I think that a system where the bottom 40% or so pays no federal income tax and the top 10% pays over 40% is pretty darned progressive.

    If I had my druthers, everyone would pay Social Security taxes on every penny of wage income they made, no matter how high, just as they do on Medicare taxes. I would also get rid of the tax advantage given to capital gains. Why should anyone get to pay only 15% on a profitable stock sale, but have to pay whatever their marginal tax rate is on interest earned on savings? Those changes would do a lot to make everything more “fair” and perhaps shut the envious up.

  143. 143
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Church Lady:

    My problem is that you act like some kind of class warrior, when you are obviously on the upside of income distribution

    So what? Who is going to do the fighting for those less fortunate. Those less fortunate? Nobody listens to them, because they are lesss fortunatem, or poor, and poor is powerless, or next to it in this country.

    And who have been our champions to give the underclass a voice. See FDR, Kennedy’s etc…… rich and patrician all.

    This is the tired argument from wingnuts supposedly showing hypocrisy and insincerity. It just boggles the right wing Plutocrats that so many rich, or at least well off, lower themselves to lend a hand to the rabble.

    It’s called Christian spirit in some circles, but you won’t find it in right wing churches. You will find it in the democratic party, however.

  144. 144
    liberal says:

    @Church Lady:

    Add it up and it’s a pretty steep marginal rate.

    False, because SS has a cap. At the amount this guy is making, he marginally pays no SS tax.

  145. 145
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    Shorter Church Lady: I’ve got mine, fuck everyone else.

    Gotcha. Loud and clear.

  146. 146
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Shorter Church Lady: Yer a class traitor, Burnsie.

  147. 147
    liberal says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:

    Of course, the reason why we lump them into the same category is because we depend so much on income tax. If we had higher property/capital gains/estate taxes (i.e. wealth), the government could afford to lower the tax rate on people in the 250k range substantially…

    IMHO at least on principle it would be better to tax wealth.

    #1 target should be increasing taxes on land.

  148. 148
    liberal says:

    @Church Lady:

    I don’t have any problem with anyone trying to make more money – it’s the American way. It’s also why I’m not envious of those that make more than I do. It they can do it, more power to them. My husband and I work hard every day in order to not only make more money for ourselves, but so that our employees can make more too.

    You’re an idiot.

    The problem of course isn’t that some people become extremely wealthy because of hard work.

    Rather, the problem is that most people become wealthy by collecting economic rents.

    Doubt you know what “economic rent” is, though.

  149. 149
    Brachiator says:

    @Church Lady:

    What would this fictional California doctor pay in California Income Taxes?

    Depends. Because of the budget mess, CA is tinkering with the income tax for 2009. For now, a guesstimate would be $22,973. This is around a 9% bracket with a surcharge.

    What are his Social Security taxes as a self-employed individual? How much will he have to pay in Medicare taxes?

    Again, it depends. Self-employed people are allowed a credit against some of their SE tax. And here we are talking about a flat tax, not marginal tax rates.

    It all adds up and, after 2011, will add up even more.

    Not necessarily. And my example did not assume dependent children or any credits or deductions.

    By the way, let’s assume that the taxpayer’s income was $300,000 from capital gains, and everything else (marital status, etc), was the same.

    The federal tax would drop to $32,156. And no social security, self-employment or Medicare taxes.

  150. 150
    lawnorder says:

    Later on he gets on to a little fear-mongering about women having to wait for epidurals, but by then I’d lost interest in anything he had to say
    If we all did that to the fundies and fear mongers, we wouldn’t be on this mess

  151. 151
    Church Lady says:

    @Brachiator: Exactly, which is why capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as wage income. Unfortunately, we probably won’t ever see that happen, given the Wall Street donations to our elected representatives on both sides of the aisle.

  152. 152
    Church Lady says:

    @liberal: You’re right – I had to look it up, as my last economics course was probably in 1979.

    I don’t see your point, unless it applies to occupations like acting, professional athletes, Warren Buffet and, yes, even some of those evil, evil Wall Street bankers. Most occupations, even ones where someone is very fortunate and gets very rich, involve the making of or the selling of something. Do you resent the money Bill Gates has made? How about Steve Jobs? Got a problem with Barack Obama – after all, his money came from his books, and that didn’t even happen until he won his Senate seat.

    Stop worrying about whether or not someone is making more than you and resenting it if they do. Get out there and create a better mousetrap and get rich doing it or STFU.

  153. 153
    JackieBinAZ says:

    Just because you, or I, make a pretty good living, it doesn’t cause someone else to make less, but that seems to be the attitude of so many here. They seem to think that every dollar of extra income someone else, above them on the income ladder, makes, that it somehow denies them that dollar, or a part thereof, and that it’s just not fair.

    Every dollar in bloated executive compensation is a dollar not paid in wages to the workers who actually labored to create the wealth. Beyond that, the function of that dollar changes as well so that it’s no longer circulating and benefiting the street-level economy where most of us function. And it’s bringing less into the treasury because it’s no longer income but capital gains. So overall, it’s really a less than zero sum game because it screws the little guy three ways.

  154. 154
    Brachiator says:

    @Church Lady:

    Exactly, which is why capital gains should be taxed at the same rate as wage income.

    I pointed out the difference between capital gain and wage income, but I didn’t suggest that it should be taxed the same.

    Oddly enough, taxing capital gains at ordinary income rates was a feature of Ronald Regan tax plan in 1986 (with some modification).

    I guess that the urge to tax almost all income at the same rate satisfies some egalitarian itch, but I’m not sure that it is always meaningful tax policy.

  155. 155
    tom.a says:

    An anesthesiologist whining about his pay going down, heh, he’ll still be the highest paid, least worked doctor in the room.

  156. 156

    I make something like $12K a year.

    Hell yes, tax me more- while also replacing healthcare with single-payer. I’ll tolerate eating less and having no, rather than little, stuff if I don’t have to DIE in the event of some kind of emergency.

    Oh, and tax you more too- byotch :P

  157. 157
    Dr Gas says:

    Next time you go under tell your anesthesiologist he makes too much.

    Not all anesthesiolgoist or other doctors take medicare or medicaid. Some only take cash. This senario is increasing as remibursements have gone down. Don’t worry. When medicaire cuts, or we have a public system; YOUR anesthesiologist and surgeon will ask for cash up front from you since they will not submit to our communist system. This is happening now in LosAngeles. But since anesthesia is not important; you could just go without it.

  158. 158
    liberal says:

    Church Lady wrote,

    Stop worrying about whether or not someone is making more than you and resenting it if they do. Get out there and create a better mousetrap and get rich doing it or STFU.

    As I said before, you’re an idiot.

    If someone makes money by collecting economic rents—as Bill Gates does, and as most people who become filthy rich do(*), then they’re simply stealing from the rest of us, and relying on the powers of the State to infringe on our liberty.

    But you don’t know anything about economics, so you choose to pontificate about jealousy, instead of actually knowing something about liberty.

  159. 159
    Janus Daniels says:

    Church Lady
    “Most occupations, even ones where someone is very fortunate and gets very rich, involve the making of or the selling of something.”
    Like conspiring in “the making of” fraudulent investments out of bad debts, and “the selling of” fraudulent investments by misrepresentation; the sufficiently rich commit such crimes with impunity, which leads us to…
    “Do you resent the money Bill Gates has made?”
    Bill Gates made Microsoft a business of serial intellectual property theft; I defy anyone to name a single product innovation from Microsoft… and yes, anyone knowledgable of the industry resents that.

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